Cataclysm, or Catalyst? Speculation on the Future of Azeroth

Well hello again readers! It’s been awhile, for which I have to apologize – holidays, family, and other commitments have kept me away from the blog. There will be a return to the history segments soon, but for now, it’s time for a little old fashioned speculation. As I’ve been playing World of Warcraft, and as I’ve been reading about the impending Cataclysm, I started picking up on a few clues here and there on possible future directions for Warcraft lore that may have some stunning implications. While the folks over at Blizzard back none of this, I thought it’d be fun to take you all down the oft times confusing, but terribly fun road of lore speculation. So let’s take a break from the history, sit back, put on our tinfoil hats and take a really good look at the events presented so far in the game, and where they may lead.

The Old Gods

One of the largest players to date in World of Warcraft lore are these mysterious figures called the Old Gods. If you are a raider, chances are you’ve met and killed a couple of them in your raiding lifetime – C’thun, down in Ahn’Qiraj, and Yogg Saron, up north in Ulduar. But where did these Old Gods come from, and why are they here?

The Old Gods are, simply put, pure evil. These are malevolent deities that were said to have ruled Azeroth in the past – long before the Well of Eternity, long before the introduction of the night elves. While the nature of the Old Gods is well known, what is sketchy at best is the timeline in which these events took place. Some Warcraft lore suggests that the Old Gods were present when Azeroth was created, and their activities were responsible for drawing the Titans to the planet in the first place. Other lore, generated from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, suggests that the Titans created the world, took off for parts unknown, and were called back because the alarms were being raised due to these nasty critters. As the lore currently presented in Northrend is the most current, this is the timeline I am going with.

The Titans are creatures of order and organization, of creation. The Old Gods are the exact opposite, creatures that seek nothing more to bring about chaos and destruction. In Wrath of the Lich King, it is revealed that the ‘Curse of the Flesh’, a disease that was created specifically to break down and assimilate the Titan’s creations, was placed upon Azeroth’s creations by the Old Gods. News of the Curse soon reached the Titans, and they returned to find the little world of order and perfection that they’d created in absolute chaos. The Old Gods ran rampant, their lieutenants, the Elemental Lords, assisting them in razing the world. A great war ensued, and the Titans were triumphant – but there was a catch. The Titans discovered that the Old Gods and the Curse that they placed on the planet could not be removed without destroying Azeroth itself.

Making planets is pretty hard work, and it’d be a shame to throw all that hard work away. So the Old Gods were imprisoned, deep below the earth where nobody could get to them, and left to rot for eternity. The Titans then put in a few safety measures and precautions, and created The Forge of Wills to re-create the seed races that had been weakened by the Curse.

Unfortunately for Azeroth, Old Gods are not so easily taken care of, and this has resulted in a small series of events that is, if my theories and speculations are correct, about to avalanche into something a heck of a lot messier than races up and turning fleshy.

Depending on the source, there are three, four, or five Old Gods imprisoned. Other sources imply that there were more, but for now…well, let’s just look at what I’ve dug up.


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Tirisfal Glades

While there is nothing said via quests regarding this location, it is referenced in a book that does exist in game, The Founding of Quel’Thalas . In the book, the following is stated:

“Forging inland, the high elves founded a settlement within the tranquil Tirisfal Glades. After a few years, many of them began to go mad. It was theorized that something evil slept beneath that particular part of the world, but the rumors were never proven to be true. The high elves packed up their encampment and moved northward towards another land rich with ley energies.”

While it is not directly stated, it can be assumed that the evil that slept beneath the earth was one of the Old Gods. Interestingly, if one pieces together the Azeroth map into one continent as it was pre-Sundering, this location is just under or near the original location of the Well of Eternity. Given the fact that Azshara made a pact with an Old God when she and her city were submerged, a pact that introduced the naga as a race, it can be assumed that this Old God is the one that yammered at Azshara and made her a not so little mermaid.


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The Master’s Glaive – Darkshore

This is a location that has either been overlooked or ignored by the majority of the Warcraft player base. Located in Darkshore, it’s a little out of the way for anyone that isn’t leveling a night elf or a draenei – most horde players wouldn’t even see this location unless they were out getting the Explorer achievement. In the Master’s Glaive, there is a monument, or the remains of a battle – a giant glaive impales the skull of some strange creature with tentacles. The night elves consider it a sacred area, and believe that a Titan killed an Old God at this location, as the glaive is too large for anything other than a Titan to wield.

In game, the area is now under the control of the Twilight’s Hammer – a cult often known for consorting with Old Gods. They believe the statue, or skull, or monument, or whatever it is, is actually the corpse of an Old God. Whether or not this is true has yet to be addressed, but the evidence is stacked to suggest that there was an Old God here, but it met its end at the end of a Titan weapon.


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Ahn’Qiraj – Silithus

This is the moment that people really started noticing the Old Gods. Rather than being some mysterious, unknown force that was vaguely referenced by lore, suddenly players found themselves confronted with direct and unequivocal evidence that the Old Gods existed. The War of the Shifting Sands was incorporated into existing Warcraft lore, and involved the night elves extensively – notably one of their leaders, Arch Druid Fandral Staghelm who had up until that point no particular reason for being nasty to players other than being a big old jerk. It was revealed that Staghelm sought the help of the Bronze Dragonflight to solve the problems presented by the Old God C’thun, and while these efforts worked for a short time, C’thun had risen again to cultivate chaos and destruction.


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Ulduar – Northrend

Are you seeing a pattern on that map yet? This was the point where the dots started connecting for me. Ulduar, high up in Northrend was the host and home to yet another Old God – Yogg Saron, imprisoned in the Titan stronghold of Ulduar. Players once again got to fight and defeat one of these creations.

These map points were proving terribly interesting to me, and I found it necessary to plug in that last and final point.


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Duskwood?

While Hakkar, the vengeful boss at the end of the Zul’Gurub instance is often called an old god, he is not an Old God. More powerful than an elemental lord, but slightly less than a god, Hakkar was worshipped by the trolls. So why is there a mark on the map here?

Karazhan, the mystical home of Medivh is often referenced as having been constructed on some powerful ley lines that attribute to the strong magical energy that surrounds the tower. It is possible that parts of the peculiar properties of Karazhan are because of an Old God as yet discovered. There is, however, something else that makes a lot more sense.

Duskwood, that creepy zone that low level Alliance love and fear, has a rich history of people going mad. The Scythe of Elune is mentioned, the Black Riders of Deadwind Pass, worgen and undead, and humans that have completely lost their minds. But the most peculiar and as yet unexplained part of Duskwood is the portion nestled directly in the center of the otherwise unsettling zone – The Twilight Grove. This crater is supposedly the remains of a volcano, and carries an oddly night elf feel to it. The logical leap to make is that Duskwood itself, the corruption, the darkness, and everything that has befallen the area is the direct result of an Old God buried somewhere below.

Why did I make that fifth connection? Take a closer look at the map. I have clumsily connected the dots, line tool style:


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Oh Blizzard. You are fond of putting pentagrams in strange places , but this is far too interesting to be coincidental.  Notice that the center of my messy pentagram is none other that the Maelstrom, that nasty swirling bit of chaos and tidal fury that all ships make a strong point to avoid when sailing about Azeroth.

Is your mind boggled yet? It gets better. So much better. Read on, and prepare to start making cardboard ‘The End Is Near’ signs to wave about your nearest street corner.

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Draenei History, A Summary

While draenei history is pretty cut and dry when compared to other Warcraft races, there are still people that either don’t understand the timeline given, or are annoyed, to say the least, with the way the events were presented. Today I’ll be addressing some of those questions and concerns, and attempting to resolve and put to rest the impressions that people have gotten over the past couple of years.

So Draenei are Eredar?

Absolutely. They’re still eredar to this day – they just took the name draenei because it differentiated them from their corrupted kin. That’s why the night elves were so frightened of the draenei at first – because to the night elves, the draenei looked startlingly similar to the demonic eredar that had slaughtered so many of their people during the War of the Ancients. Archimonde was a leader of the eredar right alongside Velen – and Archimonde appeared during the War of the Ancients, so it’s no wonder really that the night elves were as terrified as they were.

How exactly does a spaceship fit into Warcraft Lore?

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Draenei History: Space Goats, Windchimes and Demonic Corruption

Some view the introduction of the draenei as the biggest mistake that Blizzard could have made from a lore standpoint. Sci-fi? In our Warcraft? Spaceships and technology? Well…yes, actually. The thing that most people seem to forget when playing a game like this is that it’s an ongoing story. If WoW’s story remained the same, static and unchanging, it would hardly be the sort of game that captured the attention of so many people for so long. From a pure story standpoint, WoW is ongoing, and changing – and it’s up to the storywriters to decide in what way that story will evolve. While some view the science fiction elements of Burning Crusade as far-fetched, I don’t think it’s that major of a stepping-stone – we’ve already had some elements introduced, portals and dual worlds, Titans and engineering – science very much has a place in the WoW universe. What the storywriters have done is create a natural blend of science fiction and magic that for some reason works.

The mysterious race known as the draenei have been referenced in Warcraft lore prior to Burning Crusade, however the draenei we were presented with were very different from the playable race. Little guys that look largely like potato sacks with legs, it was difficult for players to imagine how anyone could ever want to play them as a character in game. But the draenei’s origins are a startling departure from the magic-wielding elves, the savage orcs, and the other playable races available. The draenei were covered briefly in Orc History – you can go back and read parts One and Two here, or simply read ahead, as I’ll be recapping the events presented in the orc history segment.

The Eredar, the Naaru, and the Birth of the Burning Legion

The draenei originated as a race known as the Eredar – a group of supremely talented magic users who originated on the planet Argus, millions of years prior to Azeroth’s creation. These creatures were led by three of the strongest magic users – Archimonde, Kil’jaeden, and Velen. Sargeras, the dark titan intent on destroying worlds and devouring magic, was in the middle of building a vast army to carry out his dark purposes – and the inherent power of the Eredar quickly drew his attention. He approached the three leaders, offering them both vast powers and immortality in exchange for their allegiance.

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Blood Elf History, A Summary

While I haven’t completely finished blood elf history, a lot of the events that happened to these fel-loving arcane-sucking addicts happened after the introduction of the Burning Crusade expansion. I’ll be doing a detailed list of posts regarding the lore and story behind the Burning Crusade at some point, but for now I think it’s safe to stop at the stopping point I found with the blood elves in Azeroth.

It may seem like the ‘blood elf’ portion of blood elf history is awfully short – and it is. The sin’dorei didn’t become the sin’dorei until quite recently in the Warcraft timeline. For now though, it’s time to wrap up with some of the most commonly asked questions and misconceptions about the little pointy eared buggers, as well as making sense of some of the in-game contradictions.

Blood elves are night elves?

Oh heck no. They were, at one point in time – mind you this was well over 10,000 years ago in the Warcraft time line. But the changes that struck them after they left Nordrassil’s range of protection were enough to dramatically differentiate them from the night elves you know today.

So who are these high elves wandering around then? They don’t have the green eyes but they look like the blood elves do.

Those are the high elves that left back after the Second War. Remember when Anasterian pulled his support from the Alliance, Kael’thas stayed behind because he was in the Kirin Tor? There were other high elves that stayed behind as well, to continue teaching the humans and other races the magic that they’d learned. These high elves weren’t affected by the destruction of the Sunwell – why? Probably because they had spent so much time away from it that they were nowhere near as closely tied to it as the elves that lived in Silvermoon proper.

These high elves had to learn proper control, and how to deal with being away from the Sunwell right from the start – so its destruction simply didn’t affect them in the same way. It may also be (and this is speculation, mind) that they learned a few things from the creatures they were teaching about alternate ways of keeping that power that is inherent to their survival alive. The humans they taught weren’t really tied to the Sunwell after all – they looked for ley lines and other sources of magic to pull their abilities from, so perhaps the high elves just learned to do that.

How come the high elves are allied with the Alliance? Or they con friendly with the Alliance anyway, but they don’t seem to like the blood elves at all.

Because these high elves that left did so in order to teach the various Alliance races magic. It could be that they didn’t agree with Anasterian’s decision to pull his support from the Alliance, it could be that they saw the path the quel’dorei of Quel’Thalas were headed down, and they simply didn’t wish to follow that path. And now that the sin’dorei are obviously following a much darker path…well, they don’t really want anything to do with that.

So why is that Highborne in Darnassus a night elf?

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Blood Elf History Part Two: Say Illidan, You’re Looking Awfully…Uh…Horny

A brief recap: The quel’dorei, or ‘high elves’ were banished from Kalimdor by the night elves after throwing a bit of a temper tantrum, and headed to the Eastern Kingdoms. Once there, they made some new friends in the humans of the Arathor Empire, and some new enemies in the trolls of the Amani Empire. They joined the first forming of the Alliance that came about as a result of Stormwind’s destruction, but a lot of their trees got burned down in the resulting war with the orcs and trolls. After the war, they threw another, smaller, more polite temper tantrum and withdrew from the Alliance; choosing to live solely in Quel’Thelas and ignore the Alliance goings on, save for a small minority of high elves that chose instead to work with the humans.

So by this point in high elf history, there are, once again, two factions starting to come into play. While most of the elves were content to once more retreat to the Sunwell and the spires of Quel’Thalas, there were others, priests and sorcerers, that wished to continue exploring the world and teaching the humans the arts of magic. Among the high elves that chose to live outside of Quel’Thalas was the son of Anasterian, Prince Kael’thas Sunstrider.

The Fall of Quel’Thelas and the destruction of the Sunwell

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Blood Elf History Part One: We Make Withdrawal Look Pretty

The history of the Blood Elves in World of Warcraft is somewhat convoluted, as the little buggers originally started out as…well, as kaldorei. That’s right, night elves and blood elves were once the same thing. Physically, they look very different – and from a societal standpoint, they’re incredibly different as well. So why are the blood elves now a part of the Horde, while night elves are firmly on the Alliance’s side? What happened to make the Blood Elves a bunch of bad guys? And just how do they get such beautiful hair without a lot of product buildup? Some of these questions to be answered this week!

The Sin’dorei as they are currently called weren’t always the blonde, bright-eyed, egomaniacal self obsessed little buggers that you see in World of Warcraft today. Sin’dorei is a name they gave themselves after events in their history warranted the name change. Originally, they were called the Quel’dorei, or high elves – children of noble birth. In order to properly understand where these elves came from, one should probably take a look at the Night Elf History segments from a few weeks ago: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. I will be picking up with elf history shortly after the timeline presented in the night elf history segment – after the Sundering that split the world into the continents we know today.

Don’t Bleach, Use Chamomile Tea For Natural, Sun-Kissed Highlights

The kaldorei had been firmly split into two different factions – there were the night elves, and the quel’dorei. While the night elves worshipped Elune and followed a largely druidic, nature-based path, the Quel’dorei had become masters of managing the arcane energies and magic of the Well of Eternity – a mastery that had proven disastrous in the War of the Ancients. There was another difference between the two factions however. As the night elves never came out during the day, and usually did their work and worship by night, they had darkened skin and hair, brilliant hues of purple, blue and green, and their eyes retained a normal silver glow – gold in the cases of those that showed druidic potential. The quel’dorei however found it better to work under the light of the sun, and found their skin and their hair fading as well into a lighter version of the night elves dark colors.

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Gnomish History, A Summary

Gnomes are probably one of the friendliest, least judgmental races in Warcraft. They are eager to share their information and knowledge of technology with anyone that will sit down and listen, which is why there’s a gnomish branch of engineering that is available to everyone, Alliance or Horde. While the goblin race remains neutral for financial reasons, the gnomes are simply nice to everyone, regardless. Anyone could be a potential friend or fellow inventor, as far as they are concerned. The gnomes joined the Alliance primarily because their closest friends, the dwarves, did so – but it’s entirely possible that they could have remained a completely neutral party like the goblins if they weren’t already such close buddies with the dwarves of Ironforge. While they have a bit of a grudge against the orcs, left over from their fighting in the second war, they are still forgiving, and willing to give the orcs a second chance. After all, prejudice isn’t really part of the programming of a rational machine.

So now we know where gnomes came from! Sort of. While there is a large amount of information missing from gnomish history, enough has been revealed about the origins of the race to at least speculate on answers to some common questions.

1. If Gnomes are all about the technology, how come they can be mages?

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Gnomish History Part Two: Explosions! MORE explosions!

There are several references to the Curse of the Flesh in Warcraft lore dating all the way back to the original, vanilla release of World of Warcraft, indicating this was clearly something the writers over at Blizzard had in the works for quite some time. Although it is not mentioned by name, the Curse is first spoken of in the last quest in Uldaman, The Platinum Discs. Interestingly, the NPC that gives players the story of the dwarves origins is called the Lore Keeper of Norgannon, indicating that these Watchers, at least, were placed to archive the world’s history by the titan Norgannon himself. The question that still hasn’t been answered to this date is this: How many of these Watchers are scattered across the world, and how much of Azeroth’s history do they have compilations for? There was an article a couple of weeks ago on wow.com by David Bowers about Warhammer’s “Tome of Knowledge”, an in-game database full of game information like achievements, titles, and quests – but it also includes an extensive database of story, lore and history. I’d like to think that the discs that are used to activate the Watcher’s archives could very well be a method that Blizzard could incorporate an in-game database of lore that is easily accessible by players, but for now it’s wishful thinking. That, and it’d make this blog woefully obsolete. Regardless, let’s continue on with the Gnomes, what little we do know of them, and speculation on what we don’t.

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FOLLOWING:  Wrath of the Lich King,  and events that take place in the raid zone of Ulduar. If you don’t wish to be spoiled on any of the above material, I would not recommend clicking to read further!

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Gnomish History Part One: I Solemnly Swear To Try Really Hard To Avoid Gnome-Related Puns

Last week, we focused on the history of the Tauren, the largest of the Horde’s races, and speculated on their possibly titanic origins. This week we’re going to look at the smallest of the Alliance races – the Gnomes – and speculate on their titantic origins, and what those origins mean for the race. Gnomes are the oft-misaligned hated race of the alliance, endless streams of short jokes and threats of gnome punting littering the net. Nobody likes the gnomes, it seems – unless of course you are a gnome player, and if you’re a gnome player, then you’re weird. At the original release of World of Warcraft very little was known about this odd, tiny, frenetic little race of tinkers and mechanics, but the release of Wrath of the Lich King cleared up a lot of the mystery of where the gnomes came from, and why they are here.

Not all of it, but a lot of it. This week, expect small amounts of speculation that are clearly labeled, and a whole lot of Warcraft history. Please be patient with me, as the timeline involving the Titans arrival, the Old Gods arrival, and everything that happened in between is currently in flux – game lore is contradicting existing lore, and it makes everything…iffy.

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FOLLOWING:  Wrath of the Lich King,  and events that take place in the raid zone of Ulduar. If you don’t wish to be spoiled on any of the above material, I would not recommend clicking to read further!

If, however, you’re interested in the little frenetic tinkering gnomes, READ ON!

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Character Focus: King Varian Wrynn

King Varian Wrynn has had a tough life. The previous may just be the understatement of the year award – but in regards to World of Warcraft, when Wrynn first appeared on the scene to take back Stormwind’s throne, reactions were…mixed to say the least. Most viewed him as a pompous xenophobic jackass; most were largely unimpressed by both him and his friends. Mind you, most hadn’t read the Warcraft comics series either, so they weren’t sure what exactly was going on or why Wrynn came back the way he did – or why he looked like the swarthy reject anime hero he is today. But Varian Wrynn’s history stretches back farther than just his sudden reemergence in Stormwind, and it explains a lot about his current motives and feelings regarding the Horde. Is Wrynn as complex a hero as Blizzard would make him out to be? Or is he just a jerk with no justification?

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FOLLOWING:  Wrath of the Lich King, and possibly Cataclysm. Also included HEAVILY are the Warcraft comics and novels. If you don’t wish to be spoiled on any of the above material, I would not recommend clicking to read further!

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