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Ask a Lore Nerd: Skeletons, slavery, and the shadows


Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, the column that answers your questions about the story and lore of the Warcraft universe. Click the Comments link below (or e-mail us!), ask your question, and blogger/columnist Alex Ziebart will answer your question in a future installment!

Be warned, ladies and gentlemen: There are a couple of minor spoilers for Wrath of the Lich King in this week's Ask a Lore Nerd. I don't think they're very substantial ones personally, but the choice is yours whether you want to continue reading or not.

Soirgriffe asks...

What tribe, if any, did the dire trolls come from and if not a tribe, where in general?

Just how dire trolls come to be is largely an unknown, but they don't seem to be an independent race. They're just bigger, stronger versions of a troll. All of the tribes seem to have dire trolls.

There are a couple of quests in Wrath of the Lich King that might suggest dire trolls are regular trolls who have been 'empowered' but to avoid spoiling too much, what goes on in those quests is pretty different from seeing Jin'rokh the Breaker hanging out with the Zandalari. So all that we really know is there is no racial distinction between Dire Trolls and Regular Trolls of the same tribe. One is just much, much bigger and stronger for some reason.


Vetali of Moonrunner wrote in to ask...

So far I count seven "sons of Gruul" but who is this guy's lucky girlfriend?

I think I just threw up a little. I don't think he has one, but gronn lore is mostly an unknown. Unless I'm mistaken, which is a possibility, Gruul is considered a demigod. Maybe his sons came from fission? Gods have done stranger things before.

Jessierockeron asks...

Is there any lore behind the hearthstone?

No, I don't think so. It's purely a game convenience thing, I'm almost positive.

Siona asks...

If the comics are to be considered canon, how is it that Thrall (a former slave) tolerates slavery? It seems like it's such a huge thing that it's nearly impossible for him NOT to have heard of it. So is he ignoring it, trying to stop it..?

Well, as much as people like Thrall... he's not super terribly good at keeping the Orcs in line, especially when it comes to activities like that. Thrall can't be everywhere at once, and not many Orcs seem to want to break out of being quite savage, and there are elements in Wrath that reinforce that. I'm confident that without a select few people keeping the Horde in line, the Orcs would go the route of the Burning Legion again for power.

The slavery thing is actually quite a big deal especially, and you see more of it in Wrath of the Lich King, though all of the storylines are not implemented yet. The Horde has a fighting pit in one of their major outposts even, and force Ice Trolls they've enslaved to fight as Gladiators. Considering that's one thing the Horde points fingers at the Alliance for doing to them... the Horde is very, very quickly throwing away sympathy, and it's primarily Thrall's pet clan the Warsong doing this sort of thing.

One of our big questions the other week was about the Orcs still worshipping the men who handed them over to the Burning Legion as heroes. The Orcs are not doing as well as people like to think. Even the Mag'har, the Orcs that never fell to the Burning Legion in the first place, are playing a very active role in bringing the Orcs down again. Garrosh Hellscream is playing a very, very big role in screwing things up in Wrath and the Horde should thank their lucky stars they have Saurfang around.

Illirien asks...

Here's a question about WoW priests I've had for a while, but haven't been able to answer to my satisfaction. Early on in your career with the Church of the Holy Light, the Church of Elune, or any other, you're taught Shadow Word Pain. A 'word of shadow.' Your trainer passes this word, and succeeding shadow spells, on to you without so much as a twitch or a nod.

In lieu of any official information, I've always connected this with the fact that in real history things like books of demonology were compiled by and most well known by the clergy. However, having my character use this knowledge actively has always required a bit of a stretch.


So.. If I tell the Archbishop in Stormwind that I'm a Shadow Priest, will I get excommunicated? ;)

The answer I give you will probably not be the answer another person gives you, and theirs won't match anybody else's answer, either. It's going to be interpretation. The big one here is game mechanics. Priests are strictly a caster class, no other abilities whatsoever. If you didn't give them two schools of magic, that would be extremely limiting the class. A Counterspell would shut a priest down 100%. Shaman suffered from this for awhile because all they had was Nature, but they squeaked by with Shocks.

Now, from a lore point of view, it seems that Shadow Priests do not use Shadow the same way Warlocks do. Warlocks very directly tap into the Nether. Shadow Priests focus highly on psionics and psychological warfare, and still have an active hand in dealing with the 'life force' of a being. Mind Flay, Mind Blast, Mind Sear, Mind Soothe, Mind Control, Psychic Scream... all Shadow spells. It is, more or less, psychological warfare. Breaking down the mind. Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death are the same way, somewhat. In a story sense, it's not really physical pain. You're attacking the mind, and doing the work from there.

Vampiric Embrace and Vampiric Touch still deal with 'life' as Heals do, just in a... different way. Rather than bolstering the health of your teammates directly and boosting their life, you're tearing it from the enemy and using their life and giving it to your allies. It is, in the end, a different means to an end. I roleplay my Shadow Priest this way. She's a very devout Priestess of the Light, but is of the opinion you need to take certain things into your own hands sometimes. She has other Healers around for them to do their thing, and she helps in a more offensive way. Though she'll cast heals if she needs to, of course. Not one of those "Shadow spells only!" types.

There are two things that stick out from this: Shadowfiend and Shadowform. Those are pretty clear manifestations of Shadow, rather than something psychological. However, I think those are largely as they are for 'cool factor' rather than contradicting anything. Shadowform is pretty boss. I don't mind a little contradiction for something crazy-awesome.

So no, I don't think you would get excommunicated for being a Shadow Priest. You're not a Warlock. You still deal in many of the same things Holy Priests do, just in different ways, with different specializations.

Skree wrote in to ask...

Who do the skeletons pinned to the poles on the Path of Glory in Hellfire Peninsula belong to? One of the Draenei in Honor Hold (or perhaps it was Telhamat), mentioned that the Path of Glory was paved with the body of his brethren, but the skeletons pinned to the poles don't look like Draenei remains. Do they belong to member of the Expedition in Beyond the Dark Portal?

I'm not entirely sure which poles you're referring to on the Path of Glory. A quick check around the area only revealed this arakkoa effigy sitting around, as far as poles.

The ground itself is actually textured as a road of crushed bones, by the way.

If there is something I missed with Human-esque remains pinned to it, I can probably answer the question anyway. In Auchenai crypts and around Auchindoun, there are a lot of skeletons up and walking around which are supposed to be Draenei remains, but are clearly Human skeletons. While it's no big deal to give each race an appropriately sized skeleton to lay around motionless to mark where a player died, it's another matter to model it, make it move, figure out how it would look wandering around, fighting, etc.

It's likely a design decision to not make unique Draenei skeletons, because it would be a whole lot of work for something that won't be used in more than one or two tiny little areas. Deciding how a living race looks is one thing. Figuring out how its skeleton fits together, how it looks, how it moves, that's quite a bit more work. It may look like a Human, but it's whatever Blizzard tells us it is. Take this quest, for example:

"Good thing you're here, Skree. The Scourge has been a real thorn in our side lately. I never expected they would take an interest in the jungle. Haha! Get it? Get it!? Thorn? STRANGLEthorn? Hahah!

Right. Anyway, those damned cultists are making use of all those corpses our friend Hemet left behind. Skree... I KNOW you helped Hemet out around here all those years ago. Do us a favor and clean up after yourself, would you?

0/30 Risen Stranglethorn Tigers"


Ask a Lore Nerd is here to answer all of your questions about the lore and story of the Warcraft universe. From the religions of the universe to the 'evils' of Azeroth, everything is fair game. If you want more in-depth answers to some of your questions, you may find what you're looking for in Know Your Lore or the WoW Insider Directory.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Ask a Lore Nerd

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