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Filed under: Lore

Know Your Lore: The lost tales of Pandaria

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.

Mists of Pandaria was packed with a lot of story, each of its 'acts' dovetailing into the next. It wasn't quite as expansive as the myriad plot points that were introduced with Cataclysm, but Cataclysm also included a revamp of almost every level 1-60 zone in the game, with both quests and the stories of the zones themselves getting a shot of new story content. When Cataclysm was winding down to its inevitable end, I reviewed several of the plot points left in the expansion -- story hooks that we might or might not see addressed later. There are still many out there left untouched.

It only seemed appropriate, in the waning weeks of Mists, to do the same. Although Mists didn't have quite the variety as Cataclysm, there were still moments of potential story that were left unanswered -- tales without an ending, problems or puzzles we still don't have an answer to. And as we move forward into Warlords of Draenor, we can only wonder if, or when, we'll see these elements pop up again.

Please note: The following post contains some spoilers for the novel War Crimes.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

A Behind the Scenes look at Lords of War with Senior Illustrator Laurel Austin

Earlier this month, Blizzard released a behind the scenes look at Lords of War, the latest short series from the team that brought us The Burdens of Shaohao. Although that behind the scenes glimpse was pretty good, it focused mainly on the story of the short films, the ideas behind the process. Yesterday, another Behind the Scenes featurette was added -- this time, featuring Senior Illustrator Laurel Austin, the artist behind all of those gorgeous moving frames. Austin goes through the process of character design for the shorts and the challenges of bringing the various warlords to life.

This is frankly the kind of behind the scenes stuff I really like to see -- don't get me wrong, I love a story as much as the next person, but I like seeing how it's all put together from a technical standpoint. While the exact process of animating the still paintings is only brushed on, it's still incredibly cool to watch Austin work and explain why particular stylistic choices were put into play. I didn't expect a second installment to this series, so I'm almost hoping we might yet see a third installment that goes into the animation process itself and how all those stunning paintings are brought to life. Either way, the video is a fascinating watch for anyone who wants to see how Blizzard puts their art together.

If you somehow missed Lords of War when it originally aired, you can catch the entire series on World of Warcraft's Youtube channel -- they've even put together a helpful playlist of all the episodes in order.

Filed under: Machinima, Blizzard, News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Light of the naaru

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.

First featured in the Burning Crusade expansion, the enigmatic naaru have been a constant, benevolent life-force in World of Warcraft -- strange creatures with some sort of eternal crusade against the darkness of the Legion. It was the naaru that saved Prophet Velen and his people when they were on the cusp of being claimed by the dark promises of Sargeras, the naaru that helped them flee, the naaru that taught them the Light. And it was the naaru who seemed to be playing a much, much longer game than anyone else, when Burning Crusade reached its end and the full scope of M'uru's plan was revealed.

Burning Crusade marked the second known occasion that the naaru willingly stepped into the lives of mortal races to pull them away from darkness and reach salvation -- although it's entirely possible they have done this before with other races, on other worlds we've never seen. This has always been presented as the noblest of causes. Yet despite all these altruistic actions, we really know very little about the naaru, where they came from, or ultimately why it is that they feel they must fulfill this task. Yet while Warlords of Draenor largely concerns the orcs and the Iron Horde, there are still a few clues -- just enough to expand that perception of the naaru a little more and raise a few more questions in the process.

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.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor.

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

Lost on what's happening in WoW? Catch up here!


The lore of World of Warcraft can be a bit hard to keep up with, being as it's spread not only throughout the large (and growing) game world, but also in books, comics, and the original Warcraft games. And with Warlords of Draenor -- and yesterdays's patch 6.0.2 -- poised to shake up the story even more, you may want to take the time to figure out what's going on so you'll better understand the events to come.

So just how did we go from crash-landing on Pandaria to repelling a Blasted Lands invasion? To help answer that question, Blizzard has put together a nice walkthrough of the story of Mists of Pandaria with a glimpse of what we'll start to see with today's patch: Iron Tide Rising. And if you're still looking for more lore, there are also suggested novels to dive in to -- or you can check out our novels guide.

Filed under: News items, Lore

Know Your Lore: Garrisons and the story of Warlords

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 are about to kick off the beginning of Warlords of Draenor's story when patch 6.0 releases in a couple of days here. It's an explosive beginning, and there's plenty of story to be had, but we won't see things really pick up and get going until the expansion releases in November. Everyone has their own way of leveling through an expansion, whether it's a race to the finish, or a more leisurely stroll through content, taking one's time and experiencing all the story the expansion has to offer -- and Warlords has a lot of story to tell in its opening chapters.

However, there seems to be some apprehension about garrisons and how they're going to work with the game, how they are set up, whether or not they require a massive time sink, whether they can be ignored entirely, or if the story hinges on completing garrison content, and whether or not garrisons are actually going to pull people out of the story and expansion experience. Today, we're going to step back from the usual lore presentation and instead look at garrisons, how they work with the story being told, and why this feature is actually one of the better storytelling devices Blizzard has put together.

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

Characters of Warcraft updates with Blackhand

Yesterday's comic reveal also brought about a new addition to the Characters of Warcraft section of the official website. Blackhand, Warlord of the Blackrock clan has gotten his own entry on the mini-encyclopedia, along with a full size wallpaper with art by Alex Horley. In our version of history, Blackhand's story is fairly different than what we'll be seeing on Draenor. He was appointed the first Warchief of the Old Horde, and later killed and replaced by his second-in-command, Orgrim Doomhammer. Powerful, yes, but also very much the pawn of Gul'dan.

On Draenor, Blackhand is not the leader of the Iron Horde -- but he was the first to join with Grommash Hellscream, and immediately set to work creating armor and powerful weaponry for the Iron Horde's armies. He might not be the appointed leader we remember, but he's certainly a force to be reckoned with in his own right. You can take a look at the full entry for more information on Blackhand, and while you're there, pick up the wallpaper and download the new comic as well.


Filed under: News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Velen and the Light of the naaru

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 must it be like, to be a Prophet? Well for starters, something like the events of Warlords of Draenor is likely far less confusing to comprehend. When you're used to staring at the myriad, intertwining paths of fate, a hiccup here or there along the path of destiny is likely an easy thing to identify. Unlike the bronze dragonflight, Velen has no way to go back and alter history or change the threads of fate. But what he does have may be more powerful -- the ability to see the threads of the future, where they lead, and to choose which will eventually lead to a future where the Light prevails.

And unlike the bronze dragonflight, Velen hasn't lost this power. It wasn't a gift or task from the Titans, it is simply what Velen has become. Velen doesn't lead his people in the conventional manner that we're used to. He doesn't declare wars, he doesn't pour over tactical plans, he doesn't order his people from one place to the next, one task to the next. He is the unique shepherd of the draenei race. Velen sees where the future will lead, and he gently guides his people back and forth between the threads of fate, tracing each line in the hopes of reaching that fateful day when the Legion, when all darkness is brought to an end.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor, including the spoiler cinematics. If you are avoiding spoilers for the next expansion, turn away now.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The Dark Portal

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 Dark Portal is the symbol of the Warcraft universe. It was the loading screen for the original game, for the Burning Crusade expansion, and it will be again for the new Warlords of Draenor expansion as well. When we think of the orcish Horde pouring into Azeroth to murder and plunder, it's the Dark Portal they used to get there - when the Alliance Expedition returned the favor and took the fight to Draenor, it was the Dark Portal that allowed them to do so. The Dark Portal nearly destroyed Azeroth when Ner'zhul ripped Draenor apart into Outland, and we used it to travel to that same Outland to do battle with Illidan Stormrage.

Yet for all we know about it, there's much we don't - was it Medivh or his dark corrupter Sargeras who actually instructed Gul'dan on how to build it? How does it function, what magics sustain it, and how does Warlords tease us with the possibility that there could be many methods to power such a doorway between worlds? Why did Ner'zhul's attempt to open more portals like it destroy his Draenor, and could the same fate befall the one we're traveling to - or worse, our own Azeroth? How dangerous is it to tamper with space and, now, time in this way?

Let us pursue the history of the Dark Portal for some answers. There will be spoilers for Warlords of Draenor in the post to follow.

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

Blizzard presents Behind the Scenes on Lords of War

If you were wondering how they came up with the idea to do the Lords of War series, Blizzard has a pretty awesome video for you to watch, up on IGN now. This behind the scenes look into the development process of the Lords of War series is interesting for what you find out you didn't get as much as for what you did. I also loved finding out that Maraad is voiced by Crispin Freeman, aka Red Arrow from Young Justice. It's very cool to get to see him explaining what he's up to in the story, and in general I liked getting to see what went into the making of this video series.

You should definitely check it out. It's up on IGN right now.

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

Know Your Lore: The vengeance of Vindicator Maraad

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 exactly know a lot about Vindicator Maraad, despite the fact that he is one of the first draenei we ever saw, one of the featured characters in the original trailer for Burning Crusade. What small pieces we've seen of the Vindicator have been largely isolated to comics and short stories, capped with a small appearance in game that was never really expanded upon. For a character with a background like Maraad, it's almost a pity that he hasn't been properly utilized until now.

Lords of War aired its final episode earlier this week, featuring Maraad and more of his story -- a tragic tale of an era we've only really read about, but never actually seen. The brutality of Shattrath's slaughter was hard to watch, but harder to watch was Maraad's struggle -- a struggle shared by the remainder of the draenei race on Azeroth. But if Maraad is seeking vengeance, retribution, or vindication on Draenor, he may be sorely disappointed.

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

Characters of Warcraft updates with Lords of War cast

The short animated series Lords of War reached its conclusion earlier this week, wrapping things up with a short tale featuring Vindicator Maraad. If you haven't had quite enough of the characters featured in the series, Blizzard has also updated the Characters of Warcraft section of the official site with pages featuring all of the players in Lords of War. Kargath, Grommash, Durotan, Kilroggm and Maraad all have new pages with character history expanded a little beyond what we've seen in Lords of War.

In addition to the background information and history, each page also includes a brand-new wallpaper with the featured character, and links to related content. Hopefully we'll see other entries added over time for the other orc warlords featured in the next expansion -- and more entries on the draenei residents of Draenor as well. I'd love to see pages for Akama, Nobundo, and Yrel, as well as this Draenor's version of Velen, and some of the other notable draenei we'll be adventuring alongside in the next expansion. If you liked Lords of War and you'd like to learn more, head to the official site and check out the new entries.


Filed under: News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Through The Dark Portal Again

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. Up front and with no fanfare - we're going to spoiler country. Huge, gigantic, terrifying spoilers for Warlords of Draenor and its Tanaan Jungle opening experience aplenty. I'm not going to waste time being coy or making cryptic statements about which guy is doing what. I'm going to drop spoilers, lots of them, like a rockslide so if that's soething you don't want to read, this is not the post for you. I've now burned an entire opening paragraph warning you about these spoilers, so you have absolutely no excuse for not avoiding them if you're of a mind to. '

Warlords of Draenor opens with a crisis at the Dark Portal. A new threat, a massive armed force of maniacal orcs have stormed the Portal and poured out into Azeroth, destroying both the Horde and Alliance bases in the area and making alliances with the local ogres. Once this threat is dealt with, it becomes clear that as long as the Portal remains open on the other end, the threat will continue. And so, once again, Azeroth must send forces through the Portal and onto an alien world. All of this is very familiar, and yet, once they set foot on the other side, these heroes of Azeroth find not the blasted and surreal Hellfire Peninsula, but rather the Tanaan Jungle, as terrifyingly lush as it was in distant memories of the time before the Rise of Gul'Dan's Horde.

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

Know Your Lore: The undeniable failure of Thrall

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.

Thrall, former Warchief of the Horde, came from a line of leaders, destined by his parentage to eventually take leadership of the Frostwolf clan -- but he ended up doing far, far more than just that. Through Thrall's efforts, the Horde was rebuilt anew into a different organization, one built not on the concept of bloody battles and victorious conquest, but instead on the ideals of freedom, liberation, unity. Family. With that goal in mind, he allowed a multitude of races to join as allies with this new Horde, establishing a home in Kalimdor.

But that Horde was not the Horde that the orc race was familiar with. It wasn't the same Horde of united clans that drank the blood of Mannoroth, ripped through the Dark Portal and stormed into Azeroth with the intent of conquering the planet. It certainly was a far, far cry from the Horde of Draenor -- the Horde from days not so long before the orcs first arrived on Azeroth, the Horde that thrived prior to Thrall's birth.

And perhaps it was that curious dichotomy between the two that led Thrall astray. Or perhaps it was simply that his parents, Durotan and Draka, were killed while he was still an infant, and he was raised in as a slave in a camp of humans that taught him human ideals, human ideas. They taught him to read, they taught him to speak, they taught him how to be. What they did not teach him was one very important thing -- how to be an orc.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor, including the cinematics that were released last week. If you are avoiding spoilers, don't click!

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

Warlords of Draenor: Blizzard releases all in-game cinematics

If you've been playing in the beta one of the things you've noticed is that there's a host of in-game cinematics that haven't actually been there yet. If you're wondering what they are, wonder no more - Blizzard just released a whole host of them on the official site. They're all excellent - one of them actually made this old draenei tear up a bit - but don't watch those and then complain that you were spoiled for the next expansion because that's all there is here - nothing but 100% spoilers for what's going to be happening in Warlords of Draenor.

So, if you want to avoid that, don't go to that link and absolutely don't watch any of those videos. But if you do want that, here you go. It's really some amazing work on the part of Terran Gregory and the entire Blizzard in-game cinematics division.

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

Lords of War focuses on Kilrogg Deadeye

In case you were wondering, Kilrogg Deadeye absolutely is possibly the most ruthless Warlord we've seen yet in these animated shorts. Without spoiling the above video (go ahead and watch it) it's got interesting bits in it - the arakkoa make an appearance, we get to see Kilrogg's father, and the actual ritual where the infamous Deadeye earns his name is shown. It's a fascinating glimpse into the culture of the Bleeding Hollow clan and Kilrogg's role in it.

I think this might be my favorite of the four videos so far. It's plausible that Maraad might know this - there's no reason it should be unchanged between his Draenor and the one we're going to explore. But moreover, and suitably, it's the darkest of the four to date, which Kilrogg making a very difficult decision that costs him quite dearly... and more than an eye.

I also like the rumination on the Alliance's faith in the Light at the opening. Varian's 'So I'm told' was a nice beat. Check out the video now.

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

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