Whether it was forging new weapons and armor or communing with the earth itself, the dwarves were still very much earthen at heart -- they simply didn't know it. The dwarves created a vast city within the mountains, called it Ironforge and themselves the Ironforge clan, and lived in relative peace for the most part. Eventually though, different clans formed within the Ironforge clan. These three clans of dwarves were the Bronzebeard, the Dark Iron, and the Wildhammer. Each clan had its own section of Ironforge that it considered its own -- the Bronzebeards lived in the city proper, the Dark Irons stayed mainly to the shadows and hidden areas of Ironforge Mountain, and the Wildhammer lived in the hills and crags around the mountain itself.
Unlike their brethren, the Wildhammer weren't as interested in living under the earth as as they were with taking to the skies above it, and they weren't really interested in forging weapons or armor as much as communing with the earth and creatures of Azeroth. These dwarves were shaman, the only dwarf shaman that existed -- and much like Drek'Thar and the orcs of the Frostwolf clan, they were deeply respectful of the elements and the creatures of the world. The Wildhammer have a unique bond with the gryphons of the wild -- rather than taming the creatures and using them as mounts or pets, they treat the gryphons as equals -- exactly like the Frostwolf clan's relationship with their wolves. The gryphons are free to go at any time, but they stay because of the respect and friendship they find with the Wildhammer.
Where the other dwarves were solid, dependable and as steadfast as the rocks in which they dwelled, the Wildhammer were wild, unfettered and as untamable as their friends the gryphons, a reflection of the chaotic nature of the elements that the Wildhammer followed. I've already summarized the War of the Three Hammers in the dwarven politics and history article a few months ago, so you can go back for the full story if needed, but to sum it up: The three clans of dwarves had a very bloody and violent civil war in which each fought to rule over Ironforge and all of dwarvenkind.
The Wildhammer fought just as viciously as the other two clans, but in the end they retreated and forged a new home for themselves in the peaks of Grim Batol, a mountain to the north. Unfortunately, the Dark Iron clan -- the clan focused on dark magic and evil purposes -- launched a two-pronged attack on the Wildhammer and the Bronzebeard after their exile from Ironforge. While Sorcerer Thaurissan, the leader of the Dark Iron, led the attack against the Bronzebeards in Ironforge, Thaurissan's wife Modgud concentrated her efforts on Grim Batol.
After a long, bloody and violent struggle within Grim Batol, Modgud was slain by the leader of the Wildhammer, a dwarf named Khardros. With their queen slain, the Dark Iron quickly beat a hasty retreat south. But the victory was short-lived for the Wildhammer. The death of Modgud had released an evil that tainted the halls of the mountain, affecting everything in and around it. The Wildhammer could no longer stay within the now-evil halls, and moved again to the north -- this time, to Aerie Peak in the Hinterlands, where they still live today.
While the Wildhammer weren't really fighting their southern Bronzebeard cousins after the War of the Three Hammers, they weren't really willing to throw themselves into a full-on alliance, either. When the Bronzebeard joined the Alliance of Lordaeron, the Wildhammer remained a neutral party -- they offered their assistance to the high elves and the humans, and made a sport out of hunting down and killing the dragons that threatened settlements in spectacular aerial battles that made most question the general sanity of the Wildhammer clan. The Wildhammer are currently led by Falstad Wildhammer, a dwarf who was instrumental in freeing Alexstrasza from the clutches of the Dragonmaw orcs.
Despite their original cautious neutrality, the Wildhammer have warmed more and more to the Alliance and to their cousins the Bronzebeards -- throughout the course of World of Warcraft the Wildhammer have been friendly enough with Alliance players, and even provided the gryphon transport that flies players all over Azeroth. In Cataclysm, Ironforge suddenly finds itself without a leader -- and when a repeat of the War of the Three Hammers threatens to ruin the dwarven situation, this time the conflict comes to a much more peaceful solution. Rather than one king, the dwarves appear to be ruled by a Council of the Three Hammers -- with a representative from each respective clan, including the Dark Iron.
Although Falstad is the current leader of the Wildhammer in World of Warcraft, it is his brother Kurdran who sits upon the council. Kurdran was a hero of the Second War, and traveled to Outland after the Horde was crushed along with Khadgar the mage, Alleria Windrunner, and General Turalyon. Once these brave adventurers traveled through the portal, they were never heard from again and presumed deceased -- statues were erected at the entrance to Stormwind in their honor. But when the Dark Portal reopened upon the launch of The Burning Crusade, players were reunited with Kurdran, who had made a home for himself and his people in Shadowmoon Valley.
But Kurdran and the Wildhammer of Aerie Peak aren't the only Wildhammer to show up in Cataclysm -- in the Twilight Highlands, a zone as-yet unreleased on the beta servers -- the Wildhammer are pitted against the Dragonmaw orcs. The Dragonmaw have made quite the showing here and there throughout WoW's history, and even prior to WoW the Dragonmaw were an enemy of the Wildhammer, so it stands to reason this animosity still holds. Whether the Wildhammer of the Twilight Highlands are the Wildhammer of Aerie Peak that have simply relocated, or a completely different branch of the family is unknown at this time -- but make no mistake, the Wildhammer dwarves are stepping up to the plate in a big way when the new expansion launches.
With the return of Deathwing and the uprising of the elements in Cataclysm, Thrall and many others in the shaman organization called The Earthen Ring are fighting to restore the natural balance of the world, and appease the uprooted elements. Shaman are more important than ever, and their unique connection to the world makes them casters of high demand. Because of this, and because of the forging of the new Council of the Three Hammers that rules Ironforge, the Wildhammer have stepped up their once-neutral outlook on the Alliance and joined it wholeheartedly.
Players will be able to role dwarven shaman in the upcoming expansion as a direct result of the Wildhammer's much more active involvement in dwarven society -- and the Wildhammer of the Earthen Ring continue to make a strong appearance throughout Cataclysm, including the depths of Deepholm where Deathwing managed to rip a hole in the world that sent the elements and the Elemental Lords into a seeming frenzy of aggravated activity. But the inclusion into the Alliance has done little to tame the Wildhammer -- players will encounter a variety of Wildhammer in Deepholm, including a dwarven woman named Stormcaller Mylra, who is a kind and benevolent dwarven shaman working for the Earthen Ring.
Well, kind and benevolent to a point. If you start messing with the elements and the earth however, she is a tiny, angry and unforgiving force of nature that will make you wish you had never been born, or alternatively, that she had never been born. Thankfully, she's on our side. But that's the Wildhammer in a nutshell -- unlike their other shaman compatriots, who are a study in stony resilience and the cool adaptability of water -- the Wildhammer are feisty, fiery and as unpredictable as the wind.
On the other side of the world, far away, safely hidden and secluded are those that also have a natural connection to the wilds, a primal, feral race that once ruled the original kingdom of Kalimdor with ferocity and cunning. These days they find themselves splintered into enough tribes to give any player a headache. They're the trolls with the power -- the power of voodoo. Who do? You do -- er, can read about that next week, when we take a look at the Darkspear, their sudden interest in the druidic arts, and the even more curious turn towards the dark path of voodoo and the shadowy art of the warlock class.
While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW.com's Guide to Warcraft Lore.