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.
We don't really know much about Draenor. Certainly we know plenty about Outland, the shattered remains of a world once called Draenor, but that shattered world is a mere remnant of what Draenor actually was. In the Warcraft cosmos, the only planet we are incredibly familiar with is Azeroth -- and even then, Azeroth holds plenty of mysteries and riddles that have yet to be solved. But Draenor bears very little resemblance to Azeroth, touted instead as a savage land on which we'll have to fight to survive.
That statement is far more literal than you'd think. And if you thought the Iron Horde was the biggest problem we were going to face on Draenor, you'd be very, very wrong. In a universe of benevolent Titans, bastions of order, what makes a planet fight not just with aggressive invading forces, but itself?
Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains spoilers for Warlords of Draenor.
Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition. The following contains speculation based on known material. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.
A living, breathing world
We know that Azeroth was not the only world the Titans visited as they made their sweep across the universe, and we know that Draenor was touched by the Titans in some way. But the picture we get as the Warlords beta wends on is not of a world that is touched by the authority and order of Titan control -- in fact, it's the exact opposite. Draenor is alive, in a way that Azeroth is not. There are suggestions of Titan influence here and there -- the magnaron, giants of stone and earth, are supposedly descended from the colossals who first shaped Draenor long ago.
And from those colossals, there is a direct line of succession. Magnaron, gronn, orgron, ogre -- a line of species that grow smaller and smaller with each successive generation, much like the Titan-created races on Azeroth, from watchers and constructs to dwarves and gnomes. The only difference being, as far as we know, there is no Curse of Flesh, no Old Gods that influence the shape of these creatures ... or at least, none that we know about. On Outland, evidence of the Old Gods is clearly made. Outland is not this Draenor, but this Draenor seems to share the same evolutionary history.
Acting in direct juxtaposition to the giants that supposedly shaped the world is the flora of Draenor itself. Wild tangles of vines and overgrowth teem over the land, reclaiming the earth with vicious, startling accuracy. This isn't a matter of simple regrowth over decades of time. This is a deliberate, calculated series of attacks by the flora of the world, aggressively struggling to take back its natural state.
In Gorgrond, that struggle is made blatantly clear. Giants of earth and stone are fighting giant plant-creatures, ancients called the genesaur. As the Iron Horde moves onward into Gorgrond, carving out its territory, the natural world is striking back. It's stated fairly early on that the genesaur are a long-lived race, but none have been born for over three hundred years. Yet as players make their way through quests, it's discovered that the plant life of Draenor is trying to bring about a new generation of these creatures. Why? Well that's the mystery, isn't it?
The key, here -- or perhaps the distraction -- is all in the timing of the events. The events that begin Warlords have brought about this sudden aggressive onslaught of new growth. But it's not that aggression that is so surprising, in this case -- it's that this struggle of plant vs. stone doesn't seem to be remarkable at all, to the natives of the world. That struggle seems to have always existed, in one form or another, here and there. It's just been heightened to a noticeable fever-pitch by what's going on in Warlords.
The Titans may have touched Draenor, long, long ago. But what makes Draenor strikingly different from Azeroth is that Draenor seems to be fighting back, on an intrinsic, biological level the likes of which we simply haven't seen before. Plant life on Draenor is intelligent. If you harm it, it will bite back. If you damage it, it will immediately begin to regrow. And if the damage is too severe, it will strike back with vicious, alarming precision, pointing to a world that isn't just a pile of rocks, water and plants. It's a world that is alive, in every sense of the word.
And where do the living creatures of Draenor fit in? Well ... they don't. Or rather, they do, but not as recognizable, intelligent entities. Make no mistake -- we are mulch. We are fertilizer. We exist not to help the world in any kind of capacity, but to feed it. And as the Iron Horde clears out more of the natural landscape for its own devices, the land weakens, which causes it to hunger, the need for food grows more urgent, and it begins to strike back. It doesn't differentiate between living creatures. It doesn't care whether or not we are good or evil. We are a herd of roaming cattle, and the more the world is stripped of its natural greenery, the more it kicks into overdrive to correct that error, by killing and eating us.
The question then becomes why, when the cycle of natural life on this world is so vicious, were no records made of this kind of struggle within our own history? Obviously the Horde banded together before to wipe out the draenei, didn't they? Yes, absolutely they did, and they banded together with the Burning Legion to do it -- but they didn't build foundries. They didn't clear great swaths of land. They didn't harvest lumber by the acre to fuel their war machine, because they didn't have that technology. That technology was introduced by Garrosh Hellscream.
Draenor isn't just fighting in a cycle that the Iron Horde began. In a way, it is actively trying to excise the parasitic infection that is spreading like a blight upon its surface. There is a natural balance to Draenor, and Garrosh's arrival changed that natural balance in a significant way. But he's not the only one -- we arrived, and what did we begin to immediately do? Tear down trees and build our garrisons, establish a foothold in the world.
The world does not want us there. And if we will not leave of our own accord, we will be consumed. From beneath us, it devours -- every blade of grass, every twig, every seemingly innocuous flower.
Azeroth is a world of Titan-enforced order, one in which the Old Gods were discovered and put in their place, one that was preserved as it was, instead of being reoriginated. It is special -- we've been told time and again it's special, there's something unique about the world. Draenor, on the other hand, does not hold that distinction. When did the Titans visit Draenor? How far along were they in their plans of order and control? Which entities on Draenor were of Titan descent? Is Draenor's flora the unique product of a world struggling to escape the order imposed upon it -- or the world's method of bringing that order firmly back under control?
Is Draenor's oddly aggressive flora somehow spurred by a darkness within, much like the corrupted Titan constructs, tainted by the Curse of Flesh? Or is this, in fact, what re-origination looks like? We have no idea what that process is like -- we assume that the world is torn asunder and simply started from scratch. But consider this: Azeroth has an Emerald Dream. That Dream is a supposed reflection of what Azeroth was before the Titans began their work, a back-up copy of the planet, if you will. It's also a place of wild, natural growth. It's teeming with plant life.
Is Draenor's strange, savage flora the result of an Emerald Dream that has been unleashed? A backup copy of the world that was unlocked upon Garrosh Hellscream's arrival? Did we arrive on Draenor in order to successfully to save our world from the Iron Horde -- just in time to witness the re-origination of an entire planet? Obviously, we don't really know the answers to any of this just yet. Warlords is still in beta, there are still zones left to be unlocked and opened, levels to obtain, and even beyond that, patches to play through once the expansion is released. But those that have been under the impression that this expansion is all about orcs are in for a delightful, creepy, horrifying surprise -- there is far more to Draenor than just the orcish race, and we've only begun to scratch the surface.
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.