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Know Your Lore: Shadowmoon Valley and the Dark Star

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.

Warning - there will be spoilers for Warlords of Draenor in this post. Specifically for the Shadowmoon Valley zone.

One of the most fascinating things for me about the unfolding lore in this first zone is the new vision of the draenei it provides us. Far from the ragtag band of embittered survivors clinging on to a crashed dimension ship, the draenei of Warlords are a proud society of expatriated beings who are caught between conflicting impulses. Do they fight to hold on to the world they were forced to leave and its ancient ways, or do they adopt new ones to become more fully part of the world they find themselves on? And how many times have they had to make this choice?

As you quest through the zone, you come to discover that Shadowmoon Valley wasn't chosen as a draenei holy spot through random chance - the interaction between the draenei and the orcs in this area presages developments in other parts of the world. Just as the draenei have had to choose how they will adapt to a new world, the orcs of the Shadowmoon Clan were forced to contend with a power they did not understand. Each exists in a kind of opposition to the other, and the choices of one affect how the other develops.

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

Know Your Lore: The time-travel fallacy 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.

Ever since the announcement of Warlords of Draenor, most players -- including myself, to a degree -- have been under the assumption that this is an expansion involving time-travel of some sort. Sure, supposedly we as players aren't traveling in time, but Garrosh Hellscream did so, to an alternate version of Draenor whose history he presumably changed. Now instead of invading Azeroth as we're accustomed to, this altered version of Draenor and its Iron Horde are attempting to invade the here and now.

Only there's one key thing we've been missing -- this isn't time travel. Not in the slightest. After playing on beta for a mere few hours, what Blizzard is doing is something entirely different. While we've been focusing on time travel and how this would affect our future, Blizzard has been quietly putting together a story with some far-reaching, drastic implications that may very well take everything we know about World of Warcraft, stand it on end, and knock it over with one well-placed blow.

Spoiler Alert: The following column contains a couple of fairly large spoilers for Warlords of Draenor. If you are avoiding expansion information and discussion, do not continue.

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

Know Your Lore: The Shadow Council

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.

Where others may have quailed from the looming threat of darkness, they embraced it. Where others reviled the blatant corruption of the Burning Legion, they not only accepted it, they went looking for more. And where others may have listened to common sense and turned from the face of evil, they saw evil for what it was, took its measure and took what it had to give, gladly. It wasn't about corruption, it was never about corruption -- it was about power.

And for the Shadow Council, power was everything.

Formed long before the creation of the Dark Portal and the first invasion of Azeroth, the Shadow Council managed to survive the death of its leader. In fact, it thrived in his absence, and despite the supposed extermination of this dark society, it still thrives today, albeit in lesser numbers than before. But though its direction and leaders may have altered, its purpose has never really changed -- devotion to the Legion, at whatever costs that may entail.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your 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

Know Your Lore: Shattrath City and the Lost

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.

Standing in Outland as a sanctuary capital shared by both Alliance and Horde, Shattrath City isn't exactly much to look at. The city is divided into several different sections, housing a variety of occupants from draenei to arakkoa to everything in between -- refugees, for the most part. In Warlords of Draenor, we'll finally see Shattrath as it was in its glory days. A coastal city, a museum metropolis, described as an architectural marvel. Unfortunately, the city will also be occupied by the Iron Horde.

The events that turned Shattrath from shining capital of the draenei to the ruins we're familiar with today are steeped in tragedy that still affects the draenei race to this day. Certainly there was sorrow to be found in the fall of the city -- but its fall, and the fall of the other draenei cities scattered around Draenor, were also directly responsible for the evolution of the draenei race as we know it.

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

Know Your Lore: Durotan, son of Garad

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.

Durotan, son of Garad, chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan. A mighty warrior to be certain, yet there is far more to Durotan than what is widely known. Yes, he was a warrior, but he was also a conflicted soul, one who could only watch from the sidelines as the height of orcish civilization crumbled under the influence of the Burning Legion. Durotan may never have fully understood exactly what happened to the orcish race, but it affected him deeply.

Yet Durotan's most notable legacy is his son, Thrall. Found by humans, raised as a gladiator, liberating the orcish race and rallying a new Horde by his side. When Thrall took the new Horde to Kalimdor, he named the land they settled on Durotan, after his father -- a father who likely would have been very proud of his son. In Warlords, we'll see Durotan again -- Horde players will have the unique opportunity to work with this legend of the past, surprisingly alive and well. What kind of orc is Durotan -- and what will he think of his son?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Warlords of Draenor: EU reports from fansite play testing [Spoilers]

Among several others, EU fansite Mamytwink was invited to a press event in Versailles where he not only got to interview Ion Hazzikostas, but also was able to play the same character, a gnome warrior, for five hours, allowing him to finish the alliance "start" zone in Draenor, Shadowmoon Valley. This is a direct translation of Mamytwink's french bullet points covering his 5-hour playtest with some minor adaptation for clarity. Spoiler alert! The last point after the break has a spoileriffic spoiler in it. Be warned.
  • Mamytwink played a gnome warrior in Shadowmoon Valley, the Alliance landing zone in Draenor. After around 5 hours /played and 80 quests, he completed the zone, reaching level 92
  • The new models are excellent (he also created a dwarf). The facial expressions are amazing!
  • At level 91, he had 63,000 HP as a tank
  • Mobs had approx. 100k HP
  • His attacks hit for between 1k and 5k when not crits. Crits on certain abilities hit for 10k (Shield Slam)
  • Level 90-91 was 597k XP, 640k for 91-92
  • Quests awarded between 10 and 15k XP, 20k for more difficult ones.
  • A new type of quest has been added, "bonus objectives". When you arrive in a zone a quest may appear in your log which you earn additional XP for completing. If you leave the area, the quest disappears.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: A guide to the orc clans of Draenor

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 occurred to me while writing last week's Know Your Lore about Zaela and the Dragonmaw Clan that there are a lot of orcish clans out there, many of which we'll be encountering in Warlords of Draenor. There are well over twenty different clans, each with different histories, and there may be just as many smaller, minor clans that we don't know about, or more. Players familiar with Warcraft lore likely recognize the names of these clans, even if they aren't exactly certain who's who.

But for players new to Warcraft lore, or players that haven't played any game other than WoW, the giant list of various clans and the little notes we heard of clan history from BlizzCon may be pretty confusing, to say the least. Just who are all these orcish clans, which ones are we likely to see in Warlords, and which ones likely won't make an appearance?

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

What If: Clash of the Frozen Thrones

I love doing lore columns, and I really enjoy doing Tinfoil Hat Editions of Know Your Lore -- I like the process of finding all the loose threads from expansions past and pulling them together in a way that is just weird enough to feasibly work. Sometimes, however, I come up with ideas that are just a little too far out there for a Tinfoil Hat Edition. Certainly they're interesting enough, but feasible? Not in the slightest.

When it comes to Warlords of Draenor, there are a lot of questions that haven't been answered. This is to be expected. We haven't even seen the beta for the expansion yet. We have absolutely no idea where that story is going to lead, other than commentary at BlizzCon suggesting that it will directly feed into the expansion following. Yet that tiny little comment, along with some thinking about Warlords itself gave me a theory regarding the next expansion. No, not Warlords -- I'm talking about the expansion after that.

It's entirely implausible of course, which is why I'm not sticking it in the Know Your Lore column. But what the heck, let's take a moment and ask ourselves what if -- and consider the possibility of Azeroth's greatest villain reborn.

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

Know Your Lore: Draka, daughter of Kelkar

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 named the ship Draka's Fury after his mother. It was the ship that should have taken him without trouble to the heart of the Maelstrom during Cataclysm, but the ship was intercepted by an Alliance fleet and destroyed. It's been stated here and there that Thrall named the ship as a tribute to his mother, and to the strong orc women in his life -- but there's a problem with that. Thrall didn't know his mother at all, really. When he was just an infant, both Draka and his father Durotan were killed, betrayed by their own kind, and Thrall left to die. He named the ship after the strength of a mother that he never really knew at all.

But Draka was far from weak, in her prime -- and to her mate Durotan, she was the epitome of everything an orc woman should be. Strong, wise, brave, unwilling to bend or break, Draka spent the entirety of her childhood defying everyone's expectations, and continued to do so until the day she died. In Warlords of Draenor, we'll finally get a chance to meet Thrall's mother and father in person. We know who Durotan is, but who was that orc woman standing at his side, and what made her so incredibly special?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Who we will and won't see in Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor, the next WoW expansion, comes complete with a storyline that has players asking plenty of questions. Featuring an all-star cast of previous RTS characters, Warlords delves into an alternate version of reality, a version in which the orc chieftains never drank the Blood of Mannoroth, instead choosing to band together in the Iron Horde. In this version of reality -- a splinter of reality that shouldn't really exist -- the orcs and draenei are still at war, and that entire splinter of reality is being connected to our own via the Dark Portal.

This has been raising all kinds of questions regarding who exactly we'll see on the other side of that portal. What about Azeroth, in that version of reality? What about Deathwing and his kin? What about the Velen leading the draenei at that point in time, what about younger Garrosh? Will there be duplicates of orcs who have since made their homes on Azeroth, after traveling through the Dark Portal? Will the Alliance Expedition be stranded on this version of Draenor? Just who are we going to see over there, and who won't be making an appearance?

While we don't have all the answers, we have more than enough to start filling in the blanks.

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Filed under: Lore, Warlords of Draenor

BlizzCon 2013: World of Warcraft Adventure Continues Q&A

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.

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Filed under: Lore, BlizzCon

Know Your Lore: The warlords of Draenor

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.

Originally, Draenor was a planet with a nigh-uneventful history until a series of progressively more incredible and unusual events, brought to the world from outside sources, plunged it into chaos. According to what we knew -- which was admittedly very little -- the orc clans of Draenor had no issues with the rest of the world, or with each other. There may have been the occasional squabbles between clans, but there was nothing remotely resembling full out war ... at least nothing that's been recorded in history as we know it. However, the announcement of Warlords of Draenor seems to indicate a big history lesson is on the way.

Draenor's history, one distinct moment in time has been altered, creating a separate fork -- a bubble of time, if you will -- that has changed the fates of these old heroes. So who are the Warlords of Draenor? We have their names. What we don't have is the new history revealed in the expansion just yet. But even in the original timeline, these orc warlords each had different, unique histories that all tied in together, courtesy of the Burning Legion's meddling and influence.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The History of Draenor

Adam's project
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 may not be Azeroth, but it's got a history just as rich and just as convoluted. In the Warcraft universe, the planet Draenor plays a secondary role to Azeroth in terms of storyline -- consider it something like a sister planet, one whose history is irrevocably entwined with Azeroth's. Although these days Draenor exists as a mere shell of what it once was, Draenor, its inhabitants, and its fate are all one of the most significant pieces of Warcraft lore out there. After all, if there were no Draenor, there would be no First or Second wars. There would be no Horde.

Why is this planet so important? It certainly didn't have very much to do with the original inhabitants. In fact, Draenor would have likely lived on in obscurity were it not for the strange, peaceful settlers from another world. Peaceful they may have been, but they had a history they could not escape -- a past that forever linked them with the Burning Legion ... and the Burning Legion knows little of forgiveness or mercy for those that incur its wrath.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Gul'dan, Doomhammer, and the nature of the Horde

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.

Garrosh Hellscream is many things. He's brash, headstrong, arrogant, concerned for his people, determined to deliver the whole of Azeroth into their dominion no matter what anyone thinks about it, but one thing is clear. He's not Gul'dan. For all the grief I like to give Horde players (mainly because it's easy to rile Horde players up, I know, I raided as Horde for all of Cataclysm and a good chunk of Mists) It's true that on the surface, the Horde of today has changed greatly from the Horde Gul'dan created.

The Horde as it exists today is the spiritual successor of the Horde that Orgrim Doomhammer created when he seized power. Was Doomhammer a kindly, soft spoken orc who loved kittens and rainbows? No. No he was not. He was an orc who had come to power as the right hand of Blackhand the Destroyer, a hunter and a warrior who had spent his entire life in combat. He was strong, devoted to his people, and absolutely committed to an orc victory no matter the odds. In a way, minus Garrosh's bluster and bravado, the orc he most resembles from the history of the old Horde is Orgrim Doomhammer.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

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