Ironyca Stood in the Fire

A WoW blog about Minecraft

Myths and Urban Legends in WoW – The Bengal Tiger Cave

  • In Stranglethorn Vale near Zul’Gurub hidden in the mountains, there’s a secret cave with an even more secret mount vendor. She sells a cat mount, supposedly a bengal tiger, but she only spawns once a month for 30 minutes.

This is sweet music to the ears of WoW players – a rare mount, only known by the few and initiated. Imagine the woosh of characters turning as you toggle on walk and sashay through the streets of the capital cities, reclined on a spotted leopard… “leopard?” you might say, and I understand your confusion.

This mount was only available during the alpha testing of WoW, it has never been available on live.

It doesn’t help when pictures like the one above are linked to the Stranglethorn Vale mount vendor myth as evidence. It’s not bengal, but it’s nice looking and nothing anyone has ever seen as a mount in the game, so I guess for some it counts. We all know the saying “screenshot or it didn’t happen”, and with this in the bag, no wonder this rumour lived on for a long time.

Added to this, if you search around the Zul’Gurub mountain chain, you can indeed find a small cave, and numerous videos on Youtube will gladly show you how to get to the empty spot (in a pre-shattered world), where this vendor is supposed to appear like a lunar clock.

If you listen to the Warcraft Less Traveled #12, you can hear expert explorer Skolnick seek out this specific location back pre-shattering, before Deathwing reshaped Azeroth. Back then we couldn’t just fly around like we can now, so it took some skilled wall climbing to get there, a fact that made the place very inaccessible and served to intensify the myth as not everyone was able to check for themselves.

The cave is still there and there’s a whole area around it, largely undeveloped but oh so promising when you first arrive.

The yellow circle on this map marks the cave and area around it. From the lake there’s a lit path leading up to the cave. The orange line denotes another pathway that leads towards the lower corner of the Blasted Land, I marked it on the map because it looked so purposeful, but there really isn’t much to it.

Several boxes and what looks to be dried hides are scattered around, the cave itself is not very deep but illuminated with an intense orange light.

The impression of the atmosphere, the emptiness of the area and all the objects strewn around did however leave me chilled, maybe I should have visited during day light.

The Bengal Tiger myth has all the ingredients for a really sturdy long-lived legend – Old alpha pictures, suggestive features in the game, the cave is actually there! A one month spawn timer, of course, makes this stealthy vendor a bit tricky to track down, it’s harder to prove her nonexistence.

On Wowhead you can still find the item “Reins of the Bengal Tiger“. Notice that tauren is missing in the races listing, which suggests that this item is a very old alpha curiosity.

This mount also required its own special “Tiger Riding Skill 1″, which suggested that maybe in early testing you needed riding skill for every type of mount.

Underneath you can also see what the actual Bengal Tiger looked like (although a real life bengal is still striped), but I have not been able to find any pictures of characters mounting it.

The Bengal Tiger story is so classic in it’s features, someone lined the facts up and the community started brewing about the connections. Somewhere along the line, someone must have added the mysterious spawn-time, which is the part of the legend that differs the most, from once a month for 5-30 mins, to once a week for 1 hour. One part of the story is about how people have asked game masters who have replied that the mount exists, but the vendor is hidden – how ambiguous!

Some people have also added extra spice by saying that the game crashed when they clicked the vendor. Others have suggested that only one person gets it per realm (like the AQ mount), and then the vendor would never spawn again.

The one but crucial thing I have not been able to find much evidence on, is the vendor herself. Yes, the rumors surrounding the vendor usually denotes her as female, but no race was established and the name of this NPC never surfaced either. Unlike the various cat mounts, the vendor never existed.

When reading all the various forum threads, several people point to Allakhazam as a source of what they know about the mount, so it’s possible the rumor originated there. It’s also likely that it spread from a private server and when people investigated further, they would find suggestive pictures and mistake it for existing in the live game as well.

But despite the hard “evidence”, sometimes featuring a leopard or cheetah instead of a tiger, an actual bengal tiger could be acquired by players, just not by hunting down an invisible vendor.

This one, however, was available to players, and on top of it all, it’s a bengal tiger!

The “real” bengal was called Swift Zulian Tiger and dropped within old Zul’Gurub, not outside it! I think most players are familiar with this kitty, if not by owning it themselves (lucky bastards), then by admiring the players whose grinds were eventually rewarded by lady RNG.

Another feature related to this myth was added with patch 4.1.0 (April 2011): The questline where the final part involves you traveling to this exact cave to pick up your very own panther cub. Again not a bengal tiger, and not handed over by a vendor, but nevertheless I interpret this as a nod to this old myth, which probably is amongst the most famous and persistent myths in WoW.

Panther Cub

Other sources:

14 comments on “Myths and Urban Legends in WoW – The Bengal Tiger Cave

  1. mataokashaman
    July 18, 2012

    So…the tiger is a lie? But my cousin’s friend’s co-worker….

    Damn.

    • Ironyca
      July 18, 2012

      Haha! Ask him if it was Zulian!

  2. Rades (@_Rades)
    July 18, 2012

    I love these tales! They’re really fun to read. I had never heard of the Bengal Tiger legend! Great research, great post. :D

    • Ironyca
      July 18, 2012

      Thanks! Reading all the forum posts with these very enthusiastic players talking about struggling to mountain climb to this cave and then camping it for months, has given me a few giggles too!

  3. Vaneeesa Blaylock
    July 19, 2012

    Wow, so great! What wonderful stuff. “Virtual Urban Legends”

    Of course I’m already imagining that lots of worlds must have their own famous “tunnel systems under Disneyland,” “alligators in the sewers” and more!

    • Ironyca
      July 19, 2012

      Are there any urban legends in Second Life? The woman who died irl but her avatar lived on? The avatar that broke free from the typist (*cough*) and lived her own life. The avatar that woke up one morning to find one million Linden Dollars in her inventory?

      • Vaneeesa Blaylock
        July 19, 2012

        Whoa! I thought you didn’t really do SL!? How do you know about all those!?!?

        Of course technically they’re not Virtual Urban Legends since the ones you mentioned are ALL TRUE!

        But yes… plenty of others.

        Oh, haha, btw, I tried to sign up for Weibo (Chinese Twitter) earlier today, and it said that the username “Vaneeesa” was unavailable, but did I want to be “Vaneeesa True Story” !! :D

  4. tomeoftheancient
    July 19, 2012

    The is the best myth yet and I’d never heard it! My Warlock visited the Pleasure Palace to check for the cellar, I think this time Cat’s going to visit the site of the mythic vendor!

    • Ironyca
      July 19, 2012

      Remember to pick up the quest!

  5. Erinys
    July 19, 2012

    I once climbed up there in search of the mythical vendor. Didn’t find her but on my way down I landed on a rather surprised Horde and well the shock at seeing a Night Elf killed them (mind blast = surprise, honest!).

    I miss the days of wall walking, I was a bit of an expert at it, having got to places like the Ironforge airfield and the troll village between the Moonglade and Darkshore. Now we can fly, these little surprises don’t seem as exciting any more.

    • Ironyca
      July 19, 2012

      I was never that good at climbing walls, however as a shaman I could use Far Sight to see some of these places, and I still use this spell frequently today.

  6. Anne
    August 5, 2012

    Very good story! I love these things, fun reading!

  7. Cymre
    August 7, 2012

    Ooh, Great Post!

    I had always heard of a secret mount in the game but no one really knew anything about it. I was one of the lucky ones to get the Zulian Tiger before they took it out. Cool even has both!!

  8. Anonymous
    April 4, 2013

    awesome :D im here at cave now, no vendor though :(

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This entry was posted on July 18, 2012 by in Recounting Azeroth and tagged , , , , , , , .

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