The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.
In the beginning, Azeroth existed as a simple planet floating in the midst of space (or the great dark beyond, as it's sometimes called). There is very little out there in terms of the history of Azeroth's creation, but what little we do know is this: Azeroth attracted the attention of creatures called Titans, godlike beings that traveled from world to world, creating order from chaos and leaving planets teeming with life. The Titans did to Azeroth as they did to countless other worlds before: They created seed races to inhabit the little planet, encouraging life to grow. Along with the seed races, they created the earthen -- stone beings that were meant to maintain the order the Titans had cultivated. Satisfied with their work, the Titans left.
It was some time after the Titan's departure that disaster struck. The little planet caught the eye of malevolent creatures known as Old Gods. The Old Gods strive for chaos and destruction, the exact opposite of everything the Titans create. Azeroth, still new to the universe, crumpled under the assault. However, the Titan-created earthen presented a problem that required a creative solution. The Old Gods, seeing that these creatures were made of rock and stone, released a disease called the Curse of Flesh -- the originator of many of the species that roam Azeroth today.
The Curse of Flesh turned the creations of the Titans from hardened rock to flesh. Why did the Old Gods do this, exactly? Because the way the Old Gods worked was insidious -- they'd whisper into the minds of simple creatures, convincing them to attack and destroy each other and thus cultivating the chaos they craved. As creatures of stone, the earthen were unable to be affected ... but as flesh, with fleshy brains, they were just as susceptible as any native creature on Azeroth.
War of the Titans
Somewhere along the line, the Titans returned to Azeroth, horrified at what they found. Their creations had been corrupted; the little planet that they had so carefully cultivated was turning upon itself, and all due to the Old Gods who had decided, for some reason, to call Azeroth home. The Titans immediately set to work battling the Old Gods in the largest, most horrific war the fledgling planet had ever seen. First, the Titans struck down the Elemental Lords that served as lieutenants of the Old Gods and imprisoned them within the elemental planes; then the Titans moved on to the Old Gods themselves.
But they soon discovered the situation was even worse than they'd thought. By releasing the Curse of Flesh, the Old Gods had entwined themselves with Azeroth so completely that the two were bound together. If the Titans destroyed the Old Gods, they'd destroy the little planet as well. Unwilling to destroy their creations, the Titans instead chose to lock the Old Gods away, deep below the earth, and put into place several safeguards to insure the Old Gods would never escape.
They created new earthen that would prove to be immune to the effects of the Curse of Flesh, and Titanic Watchers to keep an eye on the world. They appointed Aspects, dragons imbued with the powers of the Titans themselves, to watch over the living creatures of Azeroth. And they created strongholds to house the watchers and act as a failsafe should the Old Gods prove to be too strong to be contained. These strongholds were scattered all over the world -- Uldaman, Ulduar, and Uldum.
Ulduar was the home of the most important Watchers, and it was here where the failsafe was brought into play. In the event that something went wrong -- if there was even an inkling of an Old God's return, the failsafe would kick in. If anything happened to the Titanic Watchers, a signal would be sent to the Titans, and an observer would be sent to analyze any potential corruption on the planet. If any corruption were detected, a reply code would be sent to the Titans -- a signal that would request the re-origination of Azeroth. The world would be reduced to its primary elements -- metals, rocks, gases -- and then rebuilt from scratch.
During the course of Wrath of the Lich King, players saw this occur first hand. Defeating Loken at the end of Halls of Lightning triggered the signal and Algalon's arrival. In order to prevent the destruction of Azeroth, players had to defeat Algalon and prevent him from sending the reply code that would wipe out all life as we know it. The titanic stronghold of Ulduar wasn't just a home to the Watchers and a prison to an Old God; it was the point on the planet where all analysis of Old God activity was carefully monitored.
Uldaman, on the other hand, wasn't really a home or a prison -- it was the storehouse for all history surrounding Azeroth's creation and development. The dwarves discovered the origins of their species there, as well as the first hints of the existence of the "matrix destabilization" that led to their existence, although it wasn't given a name at the time. It wasn't until later that the term Curse of Flesh was used.
Uldaman housed a stone watcher named the Lore Keeper of Norgannon -- designated as such by the Titan Norgannon, who was both the master of the arcane and the master of secrets and mysteries. Norgannon was also responsible for the creation of Malygos, Aspect of Magic -- but in Uldaman, it appears that what Norgannon was really up to was storing the mysteries and secrets of Azeroth away and keeping them safe from harm. There are other creations of Norgannon scattered across Azeroth, and each stores information only accessible by discs or plates.
Acutely aware of the amount of information being stored in Uldaman, the Titans designated a watcher for this stronghold as well -- Archaedas. Archaedas' job was much more simple than the Watchers in Ulduar. All he had to do was keep the discs of recorded history safe and prevent anyone from accessing the discs without permission. However, failure to do so did not send a signal to the Titans, for some reason. Perhaps the Titans knew that the Old Gods had little use for Azeroth's history, and thus the discovery of the discs wouldn't really indicate an Old God problem.
That leaves Uldum. Uldum was an unsolved mystery for the longest time. Referenced only as a research facility for the Titans, access to Uldum was limited to those that carried the Plates of Uldum, artifacts that to this day have never been found. After delving into the secrets of Uldaman, explorers found reference to this mysterious Titan stronghold. Though the depths of Uldum weren't reachable, another watcher of Norgannon was stationed outside with information regarding the purpose of Uldum and the ability to access the facility if the correct artifacts were presented.
After providing all the information it could without proper clearance, the Stone Watcher would then shut down, waiting for the day that someone returned with the plates. However, the implications were fascinating: Where Uldaman was a storage facility for information and history, Uldum was essentially the playground of the Titans. It wasn't just a playground -- it was possibly the place where all of the Titans' creations were actually generated.Salutations. I am a guardian of entry. Unless you have the Plates of Uldum already integrated with your disk set, I will not allow for entry into the Uldum compound.
What function do you serve?
My purpose is to regulate access to the Uldum complex for the Creators. I allow entry into the compound only when the solicitor exhibits for access the proper sequencing discs.
Your disc set currently does not contain the Plates of Uldum, the primary prerequisite for entry. Access is not granted unless the Plates of Uldum are present.
What are the Plates of Uldum?
The Plates of Uldum are discs synthesized by the Creators that allow access into the Uldum compound. These discs house and store specific data related to the Creators' activities here.
Physically, they are nearly identical in circumference to the disc set you currently possess. Their markings, however, are directly related to information on Uldum as opposed to the Uldaman complex.
Where are the Plates of Uldum?
Several sets of the Plates of Uldum have been synthesized by the Creators for their expressed use. The Creators control the distribution of said discs for all complexes on this world. As such, Azeroth has been rescheduled for visitation, and therefore future discs may enter circulation at that time.
Existing discs have been fully distributed to those parties with appropriate security clearance.
Excuse me? We've been "rescheduled for visitation"? What does that mean?!
The Creators use visitation as a means to reestablish control over seeded worlds when forces, both external and internal, upset the matrix dynamics associated with it. Such tactics are not to be taken lightly when executed by the Creators.
For additional information on this world's scheduled visitation, please consult the appropriate data repository that fields all Creator-relatee scheduling considerations.
So... what's inside Uldum?
Uldum is a research facility for the Creators in their continuing efforts to enhance the biosphere of Azeroth. Specific information regarding their work as it relates to Uldum is restricted to those individuals who possess the Plates of Uldum in their disc sets.
Data repositories inside the Uldum complex have been programmed to address specific experiments and data compliations: please refer to them for detailed information.
The most puzzling aspect of this, however, is the reference to "visitation." At first, it seemed to be an innocent enough idea; the Titans would return at some point just to check in and say hello, make sure the planet was still running smoothly, maybe make a few more creations, and then pop back out again after they were satisfied with their work. No big deal, right?
Wrong. In Ulduar, it is pretty much said flat out that if the Titans were to return, it would be to re-originate the planet. Uldum isn't just the birthplace of creation -- it holds the end of creation, and the end of existence, as we know it. One location in Uldum is called The Halls of Origination -- something that sounds like the birthplace of life, but in reality it holds the key to Azeroth's re-origination. In other words, a reply code sent by Algalon that indicated the world was corrupt would herald the return of the Titans to Uldum.
Once there, they would activate the re-origination device and wipe all life from the planet.
Are we pawns or prey?
In Cataclysm, Deathwing has sent emissaries from the Black Dragonflight in search of an artifact called the Coffer of Promise. This artifact holds the discs that are the key to the re-origination device. Why, exactly, Deathwing is planning to re-originate the planet is unclear -- and it's something that raised more than a few questions in my mind.
Deathwing is supposedly serving the Old Gods -- but the re-origination device is there in order to destroy the planet and start it from scratch. Using the device would not only eradicate all life, but it would destroy Deathwing and the Old Gods he serves as well. So there's one big question left after pondering all of this: Was Deathwing actually intending to use the device at all, or were his activities in Ulduar and attempts to obtain the discs merely a ploy to get Brann Bronzebeard and company into the Halls of Origination to permanently disable the device?
Without that device, the failsafe that was supposed to keep the Old Gods in check is no more. The Old Gods and Deathwing are now free to wreak as much havoc as they'd like on Azeroth, with no threat of Titan interference. Unless, of course, the Titans were already planning to come back for a visit. According to the Stone Watcher of Norgannon, Azeroth has been "rescheduled for visitation." Consider the obelisks in Uldum, activated one by one as players go through the zone. They bear a startling resemblance to the reply code sent from Dalaran after players successfully defeat Algalon. Could these obelisks be the trigger to the Titan's return?
If this is the case, it means we very well may see a return of the Titans sometime in the future. The Old Gods' hold over Azeroth has tightened over the last few years and appears to be growing stronger than mere heroes and mortals can overcome. Let's hope that visitation was rescheduled for sooner than later -- and that we'll set eyes on the Titans some time this expansion.
For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:
- The Eternals: the Titans
- The Old Gods
- Gnome priests and the failure of the flesh
- Yogg Sargon
- Taking flight with the Wildhammer
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 Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.