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Filed under: Lore

Know Your Lore: 5 influential moments in Warcraft lore

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.

The lore of Warcraft isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world to follow. It's not a straight line of cause and effect that you can simply trace from beginning to end. It's an endless chain of events intertwined with each other in a ball that is so tightly wound together, it's almost impossible to untangle and pick apart. This is a large part of the reason why it's so hard to answer a seemingly simple question, "I want to try and get into Warcraft lore, so where do I start?"

That said, there are several standout moments in lore, moments that have influenced far more than one character's development or one chain of story progression. While the following list isn't every moment, it contains some of the most influential, those events in history that have shaped the world of Warcraft and will continue to shape it for years to come.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

War Crimes novel release date details

So if you're wondering when War Crimes (the upcoming Christie Golden novel about post-Siege of Orgrimmar Garrosh Hellscream and his trial) will be released, we have the details straight from author Christie Golden's Twitter account.
So not only do you know that the book will be released on May 6th, but if you just can't wait that long, you can go to Denver to the StarFest convention and snag a copy there three days early. I'm not saying you have to do this, nor am I saying to get me a copy while you're there, but I wouldn't mind it, either.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Lore, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The World as Story: Emergent storytelling in World of Warcraft

How does storytelling function in World of Warcraft? What are its limits? Does it have to unfold solely via quest text, or can it be told via other means? I ask this in part due to a developing discussion on the scale and scope of how the world we interact with as we play reveals the story elements. Back when I first started playing WoW, game story was almost exclusively revealed via quest text. When it wasn't, it was often revealed via in-game books. I remembered being floored with the pre-fight scene between Majordomo Executus and Ragnaros because it was a bit of story happening entirely in front of my eyes via dialogue and scene.

Over the years World of Warcraft has added a host of tools to its story delivery options - cutscenes, scenarios, events like Battle for Undercity, open-ended exploration, and quest integration with each of these kinds of vectors for story. It's not all just text anymore - we have in-game cinematics, cut-scenes rendered and played through using totally in game scenes, dialogue (the end of the Isle of Thunder, when Jaina and Lor'themar confronted one another was entirely realized through in-game dialogue), scenarios like A Little Patience and Dagger in the Dark, and even more complex combinations of all of them. The Dominance Offensive/Operation Shieldwall story in particular was unveiled through all of these techniques, using every arrow in the quiver to drive the story points home.

I'm bringing this up because of the recent revelation that not all secondary objectives in Warlords of Draenor will have quest text. The discussion led to a series of tweets from Dave Kosak that I think definitely are worth discussing. How do we get story in an MMO? Can the world we encounter be the story itself? As we move through it, how can it be best presented to us?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Look back in Draenei

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.

The draenei have a lot of unresolved issues.

For starters, they're stranded on a strange planet called Azeroth, after having just barely escaped Outland. They lived on Outland (back when it was called Draenor) for a few hundred years, time enough to start thinking of the place as home. Then it was taken from them, and their people nearly totally exterminated. Their escape to Azeroth was an accident, crashing here because their ship was sabotaged by blood elf servants of Kael'thas Sunstrider.

So let's look over things. In the past few decades the draenei have seen formerly amicable neighbors turn bloodthirsty, demon-addicted monsters. They endured the near-total extinction of their people, hiding in swamps and bedraggled refugee settlements, seeing many of the survivors mutate and lose their connection with the Holy Light. They saw roads made out of the bones of their people. They only escaped by stealing back a dimensional ship from people they'd never really seen or heard of who still helped try and kill them. And as soon as they arrived on this new planet they found out that the Burning Legion (the very same force that is trying to exterminate them) has already been here.

This is a condensed list, of course.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: The immeasurable sorrow of Jaina Proudmoore

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.

What do you do when you've lost everything -- your friends, your family, your home, even the essence of what made you ... well, you? Jaina Proudmoore has undergone this transformation in Mists of Pandaria, and come out the other side a drastically changed woman as a result. After the successful defeat of Deathwing in Cataclysm, Jaina and her coastal city were the unfortunate target of the very faction she's spent years of her life trying to unsuccessfully champion. In the end, Jaina lost everything.

But where does that leave a leader, a diplomat, an advisor, a friend? It's an arguably dark place, but it's also arguable that this was just the character development Jaina needed. As a character, Jaina hadn't really had a lot of progression in her personality since she was introduced all the way back in Warcraft III. Wrath of the Lich King saw the beginnings of what would ultimately be a push into a dark place from which no one, not even a Proudmoore, could emerge unscathed.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Warriors of Azeroth and beyond, Part 2

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.

Second verse, same as the first - we're talking warriors of lore and story in the Warcraft universe. What does it take to get on either of these lists?
  1. Don't obviously be a member of another class. I skirted the edge of this one for last week's list, but not this week - these are the warriors. No Bolvars, no Turalyons, no Rexxars or the like. If you cast spells or skulk in the shadows or are a death knight, you're not on this list. Sorry, Highlord Alexandros Mograine, but you were a paladin, and you don't count. Maiev Shadowsong definitely uses stealth, she's out.
  2. You have to be somehow more iconic than the badasses on last week's list. That means, in my opinion, you're more important in terms of lore than Muradin Bronzebeard, Baine Bloodhoof, and Broxigar the Red. That's not an easy bar to jump over.
  3. Those are my criteria. I just think lists with less than three points on them look weird.
Let's get started on the list.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Warlords lore, spoilers and you

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.

It's about that time again. The time in which an expansion is waning towards its inevitable end, and a new one sits on the horizon. The time when that expansion isn't quite available for play, but is now the subject of copious amounts of clever datamining to pluck out all those interesting details before they've even had a chance to fully see the light of day.

For most players, it's incredibly fun to see the details as they are released, particularly since Blizzard has been so careful this time around to clarify any changes that may appear a little weird. For fans of the lore, it means one of two things -- a ton of delicious tidbits in regards to story information, or the inevitable launch of a minefield of spoilers that will have to be dodged for the next several months until the expansion is in hand. But is it really worth it to give them a look? Is it worth it to discuss them?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Ask a CDev Round IV answers revealed

It's been quite some time since we've had a new round of Ask a CDev, addressing and answering lore questions from players. But the answers for round IV of the popular feature have been released, including quite a few questions with interesting implications. This time around, the questions were drawn directly from Twitter, and they address a variety of topics. Some highlights include:
  • Oshu'gun? That's what the orcs call the mountain in Nagrand. But the draenei that remember the mountain for the vessel it was still use its original name -- the Genedar.
  • Tyrande and Malfurion officially co-lead the night elves. Tyrande is no longer the sole leader.
  • Sadly, the Shatterspear tribe is no more, although some may have escaped and found shelter within the Horde or other organizations.
  • Just who the heck is Trade Prince Donais? Well ... he isn't Horde, exactly...
  • There is a distinct difference between the vrykul and Kvaldir, and it involves the Curse of Flesh.
Take a look at the thread in its entirety for all of the lore questions and answers. And if you have a lore question that has you stumped, head over to Twitter and shoot it to Senior Historian Sean Copeland at his Twitter account, @Loreology.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Lore

Know Your Lore: Warriors of Azeroth and beyond Part 1

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.

Okay, this week, I'm going to do something massively nerdy and more than a little ridiculous. I'm going to rank the best warriors from across the World of Warcraft, according to my own subjective criteria for what 'best' means. It's not just who would win in a fight (that's in there, but it's not all of it) and unfortunately, some races are going to get shafted here just because they don't have as much representation. I'm trying to keep the list somewhat representative, but there are some races that just dominate it - orcs and humans get big representation, while other races like draenei just don't have an established lore warrior as of the time of this writing. I'm sure there are draenei warriors (I play one, even) but we tend to see paladins from the boys in blue. It's a sad lack.

Some of these are kind of iffy because Blizzard does weird things sometimes - some of these characters have abilities you'll never see a warrior use in game - but none of them will be specifically mentioned members of another class. No demon hunters, paladins or rogues on this list. Sorry, Garona fans.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The Loose Ends of Mists of Pandaria

Since the expansion is now locked in its final patch, with no future storylines to come to change the status quo until Warlords of Draenor, we're free to look over the past year and a half and say Did that actually happen to some of the stranger moments in the story. Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge fan of the story in this expansion, I think it had some really good twists and some nice back and forth between various NPC's (for instance, I love the Jaina/Vereesa team, I think Jaina's interaction with Lor'themar is fantastically catty, and the Baine/Vol'jin bromance is a lot more relatable than previous Horde leaders) but that doesn't mean it doesn't have some head-scratchingly weird moments in it.

These moments often take the form of unexplored consequences or loose ends to the plot. Let's look at a few of them now.

The Mogu Woman conspiracy

This one got really strange because the in-game lore for the presence of mogu women got really convoluted. The way I have it worked out, there used to be mogu women, but at some point after Lei Shen became emperor, something happened. We know there was at least one mogu queen, who died by Lei Shen's hand. It seems that after Lei Shen used the power and knowledge he stole from Ra-Den to 'reverse engineer' the Curse of Flesh, he seemingly eliminated women from his society since his people wouldn't need to reproduce any longer in the conventional sense. The only two women left were in fact the Twin Consorts, and they were literally just constructs carved into the shape of women, possibly as a last dig at Monara. This leaves a whole host of questions about Monara and her relationship to Lei Shen - were they related in some way? Was she his last queen, or perhaps even his mother, or just a rival he killed to cement his power over the mogu?

I found this aspect of mogu culture - their rejection of an entire gender as part and parcel of their rejection of being flesh, being alive at all, to be one of the strangest aspects of their culture. It's got some real world resonance, as well. The mogu end up not being just cruel and callous, they're also really creepy in ways we don't see often.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Review of World of Warcraft: Paragons

With all the chatter surrounding Christie Golden's next novel, I have to admit I'd almost forgotten that World of Warcraft: Paragons was set to release today. It's definitely not your usual sort of novel, instead holding a collection of short stories lore fans are likely already familiar with, all tucked into one book for easy referencing -- but it also includes the long-awaited novella Blood of the Highborne, by Micky Neilson. That said, fans looking for new, current lore aren't going to find any in this particular collection.

However, the book contains all of the leader short stories that were released over the course of Cataclysm's run, as well as a few other shorts -- Unbroken, the story of Farseer Nobundo, The War of the Shifting Sands, a piece that was released just before the launch of AQ40, and Road to Damnation, the story of Kel'thuzad, released just before the launch of the original iteration of Naxxramas all the way back in vanilla. It's Blood of the Highborne that really stands out among the collection, not necessarily because it's better than the rest, but because it's brand-new content that fills in a gap that's been missing in lore -- the conception and introduction of the Blood Knights of Silvermoon.

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Filed under: News items, Lore

Know Your Lore: Gul'dan, the soul of evil

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.

Every villain in the Warcraft universe has a story behind why exactly they're a villain. For some, it was the corruption of the Old Gods that slowly drove them mad. For others, it was the promise of great power by agents of the Burning Legion. But it's rare that we see a villain that is simply a villain without any kind of outside influence. Garrosh Hellscream is one of the better villains in Warcraft solely because he does evil things, but doesn't believe that they are evil -- instead, he believes that they are simply the right thing to do.

But before Garrosh Hellscream was an orc who pretty much represented pure, unmitigated evil in its most concentrated form. He knew the corruption of his entire race was at stake, and he went ahead and traded it for the one thing he craved above all else -- power. Gul'dan may not have come from bloodlines that boasted glory, but he was ridiculously intelligent, cunning, and cruel. To Gul'dan, it wasn't about performing evil deeds. It was about amassing as much power and prestige as he could -- and the rest of the world could burn, for all he cared.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

War Crimes audiobook version confirmed

Some people like the feel of paper in their hands, some like e-readers for ease of storage, and some people really like to listen to the books they love. One of the most frequently asked questions surrounding any Warcraft novel's release is whether or not an audiobook version of the novel will be available to those that like to listen to their reading material. In most cases, that information isn't readily available before the book is published in print and e-reader formats.

However, it appears that War Crimes, the newest novel from Christie Golden, already has an audiobook version of the novel planned -- an entry for the audiobook edition has been found on Amazon. Scott Brick, the voice behind the audiobook renditions of Wolfheart, Dawn of the Aspects, and Shadows of the Horde will be lending his voice to War Crimes as well. Although there is no release date nor price currently listed for the audiobook, those interested can sign up to be notified when the audiobook release is available for purchase.

For more on War Crimes, the tale of Garrosh Hellscream's trial, check out our exclusive interview with author Christie Golden from last year's BlizzCon -- and while you're at it, there are not one but two excerpts from the novel now available for reading.

Filed under: News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

New faction short story: The Untamed Valley

I have a soft spot for the Tillers. I think they're one of my favorite factions from Pandaria. It wasn't just the fact that I got my own farm, it was the fact that each character involved in the Tillers' quests was so fleshed out, so well written, and so engaging that you really couldn't help but be enchanted by Halfhill and the surrounding farms. Of all the pandaren we've met in Mists, I think I'm going to miss the gang in Halfhill the most.

That said, the absolute last person I ever expected to show up in a short story surrounding the Tillers was Vindicator Maraad. Yet there he is, accompanied by Sentinel Commander Lyalia, another Alliance face we haven't seen for quite some time. The thought of a towering blue-skinned alien from another world interacting with the jovial and decidedly down-to-earth farmers of Halfhill seems like a really strange idea for a story. And yet in Blizzard's latest short story offering, The Untamed Valley, it works. It really, really works, in the most unexpected way.

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Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Breakfast Topic: Who deserves the lore spotlight next?

One of the complaints about Warlords of Draenor is that it's another expansion with a heavy focus on orc lore. A lot of that comes from the fact that to players who picked up the Warcraft setting with World of Warcraft the setting has moved pretty far away from the classic 'orcs vs. humans' and into a story about blood elves, goblins, gnomes, draenei, dwarves, trolls, tauren, night elves... in other words, about their characters, whatever race they happen to be. If you're a Horde player, you're most likely to be a blood elf nowadays, rather than an orc (blood elves are twice as popular among Horde players at 28%, putting them ahead of the otherwise neck and neck forsaken, orcs and tauren by almost a two to one margin over any of them) but it's also fair to say that blood elves have gotten a fair amount of focus in the last few expansion (including a pretty sizable story bump in patch 5.1/5.2 of Mists of Pandaria) so who would we focus on as the most in need of some story development?

Among the Alliance, the draenei are looking ready for their closeup in Warlords and I'm absolutely down with that, but I also agree with people who've made the point that gnomes really need some story focus. So, let me turn this over to you? Who deserves the lore next? Who do you want to see get a nice closeup, story wise?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

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