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Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Emerald Dreams and 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.

Its existence is known by many, but it's accessed by only a scant few of the assorted races of Azeroth. Long ago, Malfurion Stormrage learned the ways of the druid from the Ancient Cenarius, and through that process, learned to travel through this mysterious place. Once under the protection of Ysera, it's currently undefined just how much influence the Aspect of the Green Dragonflight now has over the mystery that is the Emerald Dream -- but for years, it's been a haven for druids, and druids alone.

Over several expansions and through several novels we've seen the progression of the Emerald Nightmare -- in the novel Stormrage, the Nightmare was by and large defeated. In game, we rarely saw mention of it, although one or two quests happened to mention Malfurion's dilemma within the Dream, and a few quests actually sent us inside. In all honesty, the most we've seen out of this content in-game were files and exploration videos of old zones that were never developed. Yet there's something really fascinating about the Emerald Dream, something that captures the imagination and has many players clamoring for an expansion featuring that content.

So what does any of this have to do with 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.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Alternate Azeroth

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.

Warlords of Draenor takes place in an alternate, splinter reality in which Garrosh Hellscream has gone back in time and prevented the leaders of the old orc clans from drinking the Blood of Mannoroth. In this version of reality, several events have changed dramatically -- leading players to ask many, many questions about alternate Azeroth, how its history has been altered, and how that changes the Azeroth we know and love today. The answer is very simple: it doesn't. Not in the slightest. That alternate Azeroth, and whatever future it may hold, has no bearing on Warlords of Draenor at all. We won't be exploring that world, and our Azeroth remains unchanged.

However, people still continue to ask. So we're going to take a little trip into that alternate reality and explore what that version of Azeroth would theoretically look like without the Dark Portal. We're going to explore this alternate world, take a look at what likely never came to pass, and what happened as a result. And then we're going to quietly put all of that away, because this is all information and events that we are not going to see in Warlords of Draenor. But it'll be nice to get it out of our systems, won't it?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition. The following contains speculation and history based on known material. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The Dark Below

Know Your Lore, TFH Edition The Dark Below
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.
I see them! A million worlds glittering in their perfection! One above all others! We have fallen, we must rebuild the final Titan! Do not forget.
Wrathion may have just finished chowing down on the heart of the Thunder King when he rattled off that strange speech about this bizarre "final Titan," but what he said seemed to indicate there is far more going on in Pandaria than we'd thought. Or, on the other hand, there is far more going on in Azeroth than we thought. Things that must be taken care of, things so urgent that Wrathion is attempting to set the war between Alliance and Horde on fast-forward so that we can skip that part and simply jump to what he thinks is the important stuff.

Earlier this week, Blizzard appeared to be trademarking something called The Dark Below, and many have speculated that it's the name of the next WoW expansion, largely because of the existence of Ozumat and his title, Fiend of the Dark Below. The trademark was later revealed as a possible hoax -- and later still, revealed to be a trademark in Europe. So is it WoW? If it is a WoW trademark, what could possibly be in an expansion with that title?

I have absolutely no idea. But that makes for some excellent Tinfoil Hat speculation, so why don't we look at what could potentially be lurking in The Dark Below?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on how it happened. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

The Queue: I am the one who rings

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Raise your hand if you've spent the last few years being woken up in the middle of the night by phantom doorbell noises.

Anybody? No? Just me? Crap.

HerrKlokbok asked:

I'm seeing a lot of Emerald Dream hopes now, with the breaking news of "the Dark Below". I'm curious - just why do so many want a Emerald Dream expansion? I can't find anyhing remotely interesting with such a surreal thing, but I guess that's me- But is it a veteran- or vanilla-players dream expansion, or what? I started WoW late BC, maybe that's why I can't find the kick in it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

Breakfast Topic: What will the next WoW expansion be?

Mists of Pandaria is our Emerald Dream expansion
What will the next WoW expansion be? With only one major content patch left in Mists of Pandaria, and BlizzCon 2013 around the corner, it won't be long before we know what's next. But what do you think is coming? Will we be venturing into the Emerald Dream alongside Malfurion, or was Anne Stickney onto something when she speculated that the Mists of Pandaria might be our Emerald Dream expansion?

What about the ongoing legendary questline with Wrathion? Wrathion has been referencing the return of the Burning Legion in much of his quest text. Does that mean demons will be descending upon Azeroth in the next expansion? Will we finally get to see Sargeras?

Also, you wouldn't want to forget Queen Azshara. You would think we'd have seen her and the city Nazjatar in the Cataclysm expansion, but so far she's only made minor or indirect appearances. Azshara is the perfect accompaniment to some recent fan speculation about the naga being the next possible playable race. Unfortunately, Ghostcrawler pretty much shot that down by pointing out the naga's lack of legs would make it difficult to design armor for them.

And, of course, there's always ... Trolls? Wait, really? More trolls? You wouldn't think it, but in the same interview where Ghostcrawler killed our naga dreams, he said that trolls were an option the game lore could still explore in future content. Huh ... Go figure.

So, what do you think the next WoW expansion will be?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Ghostcrawler, potentially, details the future of WoW at Chinajoy [UPDATED]

Ghostcrab
There are some eyebrow-raising bits in a foreign Ghostcrawler interview, and we caution everyone that none of this has been confirmed with Blizzard (we reached out earlier today), and we have a feeling that a good deal of nuance may have been lost in translation. That being said, if the interview is correct, it gives us some fascinating hints as to the directions that Blizzard may be exploring for future WoW content.

Apparently Blizzard either was or has been considering the Naga as an addition to the playable races, though their lack of legs is a big hurdle to overcome for things like armor design. In terms of future plot, the interview seems to imply that following Mists of Pandaria we will be headed back into mainland Azeroth, and that further story lines involving the trolls, the Burning Legion, and the Emerald Dream are slated to "gradually develop". Now, we know that an Emerald Dream expansion is something that many fans have been hankering after for a good long time, so this kind of news would be very much welcome to hear. Here I feel compelled to state that again, there is no official confirmation for any of this. However, there is one bit about the lore that I feel relatively confident is accurate, and that's Ghostcrawler's assertion that the relationship and conflict between the mogu, the Old Gods, and the Titans will be revealed in patch 5.4.

Happy speculations, everyone!

Update 10:42 p.m. EDT: 2P, the Chinese gaming site, has updated their English translation of the article noting that Naga will not be the next playable race. They also modified the way in which the next areas of WoW's content were talked about; however the three big areas (Trolls, Burning Legion, and Emerald Dream) are still areas in which Ghostcrawler noted content can expand into.

Filed under: Interviews, Rumors, Mists of Pandaria

WoW Archivist: Paths not taken

Path of the Titans at Blizzcon
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Recently, Blizzard addressed rumors that their ultra-secret next MMO, codenamed Titan, had been "reset." Developers were indeed reassigned to other projects as the slimmed-down team made "some large design and technology changes to the game." Since we don't know anything about Titan for sure, despite some compelling leaks, we'll never know what features the game would have had as part of its original design.

The WoW team, on the other hand, has backed away from many different announced features and content additions that didn't work out. This week's WoW Archivist will look at some of the more interesting and infamous canceled or delayed features.

Homeless

Believe it or not, player housing was briefly tested in alpha. Model viewers showed files going back to alpha in a folder called "playerhousing" (as shown below). Only human houses were ever designed. Blizzard also added a portal in Stormwind as an entrance to an instanced player housing area. An alpha blue poster named Katricia wrote, "Our current idea (which could change) is to extend the cities to have player housing neighborhoods. For example, in the canal area of Stormwind players can see a blue instance portal behind a large portcullis; this is the entrance to the player housing neighborhood in Stormwind."

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Mists of Pandaria is our Emerald Dream expansion

Back in the days of vanilla, life was very much about exploration. Even though the world of Azeroth was admittedly massive, there were still areas players couldn't get to -- tantalizing areas that were made inaccessible either by steep mountain faces, or simply being someplace under the world map where no one could get to. One of these areas was the Emerald Dream, shown above. Despite not being in the game as playable content, the zones still existed.

This led to all kinds of speculation about an upcoming Emerald Dream expansion. Players assumed that these files meant that we were eventually headed for the lush green lands of Ysera and her amazing druid friends. Yet despite the presence of the maps, it never happened. Ysera is now devoid of her powers as of the end of Cataclysm, whatever that implies towards her relationship with the Emerald Dream. By Cataclysm, it became apparent that whatever mysteries those old maps held, the Emerald Dream was just an idea lost in time.

Or was it? Maybe we're playing through the Emerald Dream right now.

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

WoW for Dummies, Act II: Evils of old

WoW for Dummies, Act II Evils of old SUN
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.

For both Alliance and Horde, the first part of vanilla WoW was all about putting an end to Ragnaros, and uncovering and subsequently lopping off Onyxia's head for a delightful city decoration that was not at all likely to scare the pants off of any of Stormwind or Orgrimmar's children. Seriously, who thought dragon remains on a stake was a wise design choice? Regardless, while there were definitely giant foes to be beaten, if one dug a little deeper, there was some underlying story going on in vanilla, too.

The Alliance was busy getting back on its feet, and Warchief Thrall was busy trying to make nice with the Alliance. But even though Onyxia had been defeated, the king of Stormwind was still missing. And even though Ragnaros had been sent back to where he belonged, he was far from the only menace in Blackrock Mountain. And even though these problems were leaping up in the Eastern Kingdoms, there was something lurking in Kalimdor -- something far, far worse than problems with dragons and firelords.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Tyrande Whisperwind

Tyrande Whisperwind
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.

As a leader, Tyrande Whisperwind holds the distinction of being the oldest living native racial leader on Azeroth and the most enigmatic. Though we know plenty about the other various racial leaders of the Alliance, Tyrande has remained a quiet figure working behind the scenes, rarely speaking up. In fact, most of Tyrande's appearances have been in novels and Warcraft 3 -- in World of Warcraft, she's barely had any screen time at all.

But even though Tyrande isn't much of a presence in World of Warcraft, she's arguably one of the strongest leaders the Alliance has. Not just because of the length of time she's been leading the Night Elves -- over 10,000 years -- but because that time has afforded her the opportunity to fine-tune her leadership. Tyrande doesn't possess the brash nature of Varian Wrynn or even Genn Greymane, the temper of the Dwarven Council of Three Hammers, or even the quiet vigilance of Velen. What she does possess is the intelligence to know when alliances are necessary -- and the patience to deal with even the most frustrating of allies or enemies.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

WoW Archivist: The Emerald Dream, Outland, and other Z-axis secrets

The WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

This week's edition of the Archivist will be a little different than what you may be used to seeing. Rather than exploring a specific event in World of Warcraft's history, we're going to look at a bit of antiquated game design. Specifically, we will be looking at one of Blizzard's old development practices: trying to hide content development in progress on live realms.

Before I begin, I want to note that to my knowledge, none of the hidden locations outlined in this article are accessible anymore. If there are still ways of accessing them on live realms, I want to request that none of you discuss the methods of entering these places on our site. Blizzard hid these places for a reason, even if it didn't do it very well.

Follow along for a look at the Emerald Dream, an early Outland testing ground, and other Z-axis shortcuts and secrets.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Patch 1.8, Dragons of Nightmare

The WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Who says every content patch needs a new raid tier? Patch 1.8, released Oct. 10, 2005 (just slightly under one month after patch 1.7), laughs at your raid tiers. It was actually quite a small patch as far as content goes, and there wasn't anything particularly world-shattering in it, but it still did something interesting: It built up future content. Patch 1.8 implemented the following:
  • The Dragons of Nightmare world bosses
  • A revamp of Silithus
  • The groundwork for holidays such as Hallow's End and Winter Veil
None of these things, on their own, were very large events. They were cool pieces of content, but they weren't supported by a raid or dungeon. Quite the opposite -- they laid the groundwork that would herald a raid coming in a later patch.

Let's dig in, shall we? First the patch notes in full, then the analysis.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Archivist

Know Your Lore: Cenarius, Malorne, and Ysera

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.

He is the Lord of the Forest, a union of the heavens, and the earth. One of the most powerful and influential demigods in Azeroth, Cenarius and his teachings have led to the development of the druids, and no other demigod has been as closely involved with mortal affairs. It's no surprise that the son of an Ancient and the closest thing Azeroth has to a goddess is so powerful -- and his connection to the Aspect Ysera made him even more so.

He is the White Stag or Apa'ro, as the tauren call him. Malorne, an Ancient who served as a protector of nature, was rumored to have roamed the forests of Azeroth long before the night elves ever came into existence. He is the father of Cenarius, and unlike his son, he meddles little with the affairs of mortals. But his love with the goddess Elune resulted in the birth of his son, and his later association with Ysera guaranteed his son would be raised safely and with the right kind of guidance.

She is the Dreamer, Aspect of Nature and guardian of the Emerald Dream. Ysera has always been held in high regard by the night elves, who were bound to the Emerald Dream with Ysera's blessing. But her relationship with Malorne resulted in a son she didn't expect. Though not his mother by birth, Ysera was just as much a mother to Cenarius as Elune -- perhaps more. After all, it was Ysera and the Emerald Dream that helped shape Cenarius into the demigod we know today.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The "death" of the Old Gods

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.

Once upon a time, there was a little planet called Azeroth. A shining jewel of the universe, this little planet was chosen by the Titans, blessed by their presence and organized into a perfect representation of order and beauty. But that order and perfection wasn't to last. At some undefined point in the little planet's future, malevolent proponents of chaos, creatures simply called Old Gods, visited Azeroth's surface and quickly decided to ruin the harmonic vision of the Titans with their own brutal, corrupt, and chaotic one.

The Titans realized something had happened and returned to find the world they had so carefully balanced in a state of utter chaos. They immediately launched an assault on the Old Gods, but they discovered something strange. The Old Gods had fully integrated themselves with the matrix of the little planet, placing a strange malaise on the inhabitants. If the Old Gods died, so too would Azeroth -- and so the Titans imprisoned the Old Gods deep beneath the earth where they could do no further damage. They set to work repairing the planet, leaving various safeguards behind to watch over the world. Satisfied, they left -- and they haven't been seen on Azeroth since.

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on why it happened. The events presented are events that happened in Azeroth's history, but the conclusions are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Sargeras and speculation on the next expansion

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.

Planes and planets, demons and mortals -- we've covered the gamut of the Warcraft universe in the past few weeks, including rampant speculation. With BlizzCon 2011 not too far away, people are already talking about what may or may not be announced, including whether or not we'll see news about the next Warcraft expansion and what that expansion could be.

Beyond all of that, however, we have the matter of identifying who exactly the real bad guy of this expansion is. Is it Deathwing? Is it the Old Gods? We don't know, and we won't know until we're closer to the expansion's end and dealing with Deathwing personally -- but whether Deathwing will be the final boss of this expansion is something that's still up in the air. Matthew Rossi wrote an interesting article last week questioning whether Cataclysm has too much potential content, and it's an excellent question. Given all we've seen of the expansion so far and the sheer amount of plot threads that have yet to be addressed, it makes one wonder exactly what else will be revealed in the months to come.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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