The World of Warcraft: The Adventure Continues panel during Friday's action-packed BlizzCon featured Lead Narrative Designer Dave Kosak giving a short presentation on the story behind the new expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Along with the history lesson, which was summed up by Matthew Rossi, the panel also featured a brief Q&A session that wasn't advertised in the program, but proved to be a pretty good list of questions and answers about the new expansion and what we can expect to see.
Along with some clarifications on whether or not this is a time travel expansion (it isn't), there are also a few new lore reveals regarding the next expansion, and some tasty tidbits of odds and ends that have yet to be addressed. Read on for the full list of questions -- some of the answers may surprise you.
Q. What happened to the 70-page Kael'thas treatment that Metzen had spoken about a BlizzCon or two ago?
A. It's been written and it exists, it's close to being published, but Metzen can't remember in what. It's eminent.
Q. If we're changing the past, what does that mean for the future? How do you build something meaningful off of something that didn't really happen?
A. The panel emphasized that we are not going back in time. This is Draenor of 35 years ago, but it exists now -- it is a present and eminent threat. The Dark Portal will turn red, the Iron Horde will be spilling through the portal, and that happens today, and now. It's a lot like going to Northrend, kicking butt, and going back home -- and there will be repercussions from this expansion in the future. They can't go into it because this is all future content, but as it unfolds we'll see how it influences the future.
Q. Does Outland still exist? What about Alleria and Turalyon, are we going to see them?
A. Outland still exists. So do Alleria and Turalyon, but we are not going to see them -- yet. Yet is the operative word, here. As for human heroes, Khadgar will be coming with us on our journey.
Q. The southernmost points of the Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, and Pandaria are all desert or jungle climates. This indicates that they'd be at what should be the equator. Is there an entire southern hemisphere of Azeroth that we simply haven't seen yet? (Nice job, Red Shirt Guy!)
A. Its unique ocean currents, tradewinds from the Maelstrom. Or not! The CDevs can't seem to decide, and according to Metzen, they've argued about this in the studio. Metzen thinks it's totally possible, but people have put globes in the game that don't illustrate this concept. It was done with the thought that it looked cool, but it didn't necessarily leave things open.
Q. The Tomb of Divinity was found by Uther in the Deadmines -- but it specifically mentions paladins in it, before there were paladins in Azeroth. Were there paladins before Uther, and where does the tome come from?
A. They're going to have to look that up at a later date -- they aren't really sure of the answer.
Q. Will there be more paladin lore in the new expansion?
A. Yes. Absolutely.
Q. Garrosh in this expansion was kind of a letdown -- the legacy of Grom and how Garrosh follows that same path of corruption is never addressed. Will we see that in the next expansion?
A. Yes. They feel they may have pushed Garrosh a little too far in one direction this expansion. They aren't going to redeem him next expansion -- they don't want to call it redemption -- but they're going to provide a more satisfying ending for both us, and for the character. Garrosh has "crazy daddy issues." There's a lot of Garrosh explanation that's going to happen this expansion.
Q. Since the timeline is going to take place before the rise of the Horde, how are demons going to factor into this expansion? Is Medivh still going to be possessed by Sargeras and talking to Gul'dan?
A. Dave Kosak points out that on the promo image for the expansion, Gul'dan is still green. He drank the kool-aid and bought in. In this configuration of events, Gul'dan was the only one who bought in, and that creates tension between him and the other orc clans -- it's something that will be explored. Gul'dan has already taken the power and offers it to Grom and the rest, but history goes a very different way. Metzen points out that history up until that point had progressed the same -- Gul'dan had started to build the Shadow Council, he'd succumbed to that corruption. Things change in that moment in which instead of drinking the Blood of Mannoroth, the other orc clans say no. Gul'dan plays a fairly major part in this storyline, and he's not entirely pleased that his plans have failed -- and neither is Kil'jaeden.
Q. Since Chris Metzen is pretty much the father of Thrall, is he going to voice Durotan, Thrall's father in game?
A. Nope -- he's happy to do Thrall, but they'll find an actor to play Durotan.
Q. In all of these warlords, where is Durotan's best friend, Orgrim Doomhammer?
A. He's in there - he's not one of the chiefs. In this continuity, Doomhammer is still Blackhand's second in command, which is why he's not in the illustration for Warlords of Draenor. However, we will see him in the next expansion -- he's got a fairly big storyline that players will encounter. Durotan really feels betrayed by him.
Q. Since we're messing around with time this expansion, does this mean there will be doubles of characters?
A. Nope! Kosak points out that they aren't really trying to tell a time travel story or a story of paradoxes, they're telling the story of Draenor, of going to this world and kicking butt.
Q. With Mists of Pandaria, there were highlights of different faction leaders, but not so much the leaders of the pandaren. Why is Ji Firepaw still in Orgrimmar?
A. Kosak points out that they only have so much time to develop different characters in a given expansion, but he regrets that they didn't get to do more with Ji and Aysa. They hinted that things went bad for Ji, but we stepped in and got him out. And now that there's a new Warchief with Vol'jin, Ji can step in and be the pandaren representative of the Horde. (Hey, this means that Ji lived!) Kosak wishes they had more time to dedicate to the story of Ji and Aysa, but they simply couldn't fit it in.
Q. Gul'dan's posse -- Cho'gall, Teron Gorefiend -- are they with the Iron Horde, or are they still with Gul'dan?
A. They're with Gul'dan. At this point in history, Teron is known as Teron Gore -- he's not Gorefiend yet. He's still alive. And these characters will play a pretty big part with Gul'dan's story.
Q. How are Thrall and Garrosh going to be affected by seeing their family members that they never really knew?
A. Thrall didn't really know his parents at all -- he was an infant when he was orphaned. Garrosh didn't really know his father, either. Both orcs are going back and engaging their parents when their parents were in their prime, and it's a fascinating experiment. These situations would never have normally happened, but there's so much for both of these guys to learn. Even though the story of these people is different, the core of who they are -- Durotan, Draka, Grommash -- are all the same. Garrosh and Thrall are going to come away hugely affected by what they find, and it might not match what they always thought. Is Durotan really noble, or was he noble because the situation demanded that he be noble?
Metzen says that maybe Thrall's storyline was a little too touchy-feely in Cataclysm, and didn't work very well from the frame of an MMO. But Thrall going back and meeting his family, his father and mother, and -- spoiler alert -- his uncles, and seeing how amazing they were -- this is just the vacation Thrall needs. Grom and Durotan are pretty much the same people, but everyone is going to change and be challenged by these events.
Q. It's mention that the timeline hasn't changed, but is there a chance that in the future we might explore alternate realities based on what we change in this expansion?
A. Yes. They probably will do something like that. It affects our current timeline, in the present. What it does not affect is past history. History is not undone for our timeline. But what it does affect is the future fallout we'll see from these events happening and coming into play.
Q. Does Zaela live from the Siege of Orgrimmar? Did she go with Garrosh? Will we see Zuluhed the Whacked and the rest of the Dragonmaw?
A. Zaela has definitely survived the Siege, and she's thrown her lot in with Garrosh. She does go back with him. She's there with Garrosh, back on Draenor, and we will encounter her again. As far as the rest of the Dragonmaw, it hasn't really been discussed, but it is a possibility. There were no native dragons back on Draenor at that time, so it doesn't necessarily make sense for the clan to be there.
Q. We're going to see Draka, are we going to see Geyah? Since Zaela is going through with Garrosh, is Aggra and Thrall's little one going through with Thrall?
A. We'll definitely see Draka, and we'll see Geyah -- although she's not really "Greatmother" Geyah at this point in history. But for those looking for Aggra, we won't be seeing her. Metzen says that that honeymoon period is over, and that this is more of a boy's trip.
Q. What about Garona?
A. We'll be seeing her.
Q. How old is Grom Hellscream? He seems to be the age of Durotan, but in Warcraft III, he seems to be Thrall's age.
A. He's at least 20 years older than Thrall -- he just has good genes and doesn't show his age. He could be Thrall's dad. He's a young guy back on Draenor, a rockstar, a serious guy. And then things go terribly wrong.
Q. The timeline is before Rise of the Horde, but Thrall's dad dies during the book.
A. The book covers a large span of time. What they mean is that these events take place before the orcs originally spilled through the Dark Portal. Garrosh goes back maybe two or three years before they drink the Blood of Mannoroth.
Q. Is the Burning Legion going to show up?
A. Gul'dan is still speaking with them, and has them on the phone, as it were.
Q. Sylvanas -- she's clearly still resurrecting dead bodies, Varian clearly states at the end of Siege that they still have to take Gilneas back. Since we're going to Draenor, is anything going to come of this? Is Sylvanas going to be more of a character, will she have more of a spotlight?
A. They love Sylvanas and like to keep her in the background scheming. There will be a day when she is featured and that day will be huge. However, the last thing she wants to do is go to a planet full of a bunch of orcs. She doesn't care, and she's not interested.
Q. Are the blood elves going to play a role at all in this expansion?
A. There may be a correlation with blood elf paladins and a deeper understanding of where paladins come from, how the Light works, what Auchindoun is, and what the draenei have really been up to on Draenor.
Q. Any plans to update Silvermoon?
Q. How will the shamanism on Draenor differ from what we're seeing and using on Azeroth right now? Have the orcs of Draenor developed any kind of new "mega-shamanism" we'll have to watch for or deal with?
A. We're going to see awesome, awesome stuff. We're going to see Drek'thar embody that kind of shamanism, and see him go blind. The different orc clans all have different kinds of ideas about shamanism, and we'll get to see that in action. They want to have a little more mythology and reverence surrounding being a shaman.
Q. What can the Horde expect to see addressing their issues and difficulties rebuilding after the events of Siege?
A. We're going to see the difference between the ideals behind both versions of the Horde. The Iron Horde represents that earlier Horde, and it stands as a very different version of the Horde that Thrall built in present day. Thrall's Horde is very much a coalition of mutual survival, all these groups of cast off races that are banding together. That conflict of ideals was really strongly played out with Garrosh -- he grew up with stories of that other Horde, the old Horde. Garrosh's vision and Thrall's vision were clearly two very different things, and Garrosh didn't understand that.
With Vol'jin at the helm, the Horde is very much trying to figure out exactly who and what they are. Metzen loves the idea of possibly having someone else get a shot at Warchief every couple of years -- he'd love to see a blood elf Warchief. The Horde is still trying to get to its feet and figure things out, and that will be explored as time goes on.