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Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The terrifying, living world 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.

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.

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

Warlords of Draenor: Frostfire Ridge preview

Frostfire Ridge
So far we've had official previews of Shadowmoon Valley and the Tanaan Jungle, and today Frostfire Ridge joins that cohort. Game Designer Ryan Shwayder and Associate Game Designer Zachariah Owens are the interviewees leading us through this glimpse of the zone and giving us an idea of what we can expect when we arrive there. If you had access to the Warlords alpha, you're likely already somewhat familiar with Frostfire Ridge--it's the Horde's starting zone, the zone where Horde players will build their garrisons, and was the first zone available for alpha testing. In Frostfire Ridge, the Frostwolf clan stages the defense of their ancestral homeland against the other orc clans who have thrown their lot in with the Iron Horde. The overarching story of the zone, as summarized by Zachariah Owens, is thus: survive.

The choice to put pieces of zone music at the beginning of these previews is one of my favorite things about them, and Frostfire Ridge is no exception. The zone music, titled "Magnificent Desolation," is haunting and, well, magnificent. It really does capture the scale and harshness of the zone--cold, snowy mountain peaks, frozen lakes, and constant struggle. In Frostfire Ridge, players will find the Thunderlord clan, Iron Horde loyalists who seek to prove themselves by wiping the Frostwolf off the face of the planet. In addition, two groups of ogres: the Bloodmaul and the Bladespire, cling to the remnants of power that the ogres once possessed in Draenor by any means necessary. In the eastern part of the zone, the masters of the gronn, the magnaron, plot and scheme to their own ends.

I didn't expect to be all that interested in Frostfire Ridge--I play Alliance-side, after all--but this preview, plus the music, kind of has me sold! Head on over to the official site to see what Zachariah Owens and Ryan Shwayder have to say about this hostile, fascinating zone.

Filed under: News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: Wood doesn't burn, right?

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.

Yeah, I'm sure that bridge is safe.

Kidneph asked:

First time asker here, but here goes. Do you reckon we will see a pre-xpac event like BC to Wrath and so on? If so, what do you think it may be?

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Filed under: The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: Legendaries, Gilneas, eyeballs, and more

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.

The gronn (and their various subspecies) sure are colorful in Warlords.

Zapwidget asked:

Is Blizzard going to repeat the Legendary method from Mists in WoD? I ask because that will ultimately be what makes or breaks my decision to actively participate in the expansion. In my opinion the legendary chain as implemented was less an optional thing and more something you had to do our you were holding your team back.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore Tinfoil Hat Edition: How is flesh a curse?

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.

Please don your tinfoil hat - all that follows is speculation based on in-game evidence. It is not canonical lore endorsed by Blizzard.

One of the big reveals of Wrath of the Lich King is the Curse of Flesh. Upon our arrival in Ulduar's Halls of Stone, we escort Brann Bronzebeard to the Tribunal of Ages, a repository of Titan knowledge. After a fierce battle with the Tribunal's defense systems, Brann manages to access the Tribunal's information and learns the history of Azeroth, including how the Titans created Azeroth and how the Old Gods came to infest it, and how the Titan's creations of stone and iron were infected by the Curse of Flesh, making them more easily assimilated by the Old Gods. After defeating and imprisoning the Old Gods, the Titans re-engineered their creations to ensure they were no longer susceptible to the Curse... leaving the ones they'd already created to suffer it, and slowly change into the dwarves, gnomes, humans, troggs and their offshoots. Thus was Azeroth peopled in many cases.

It sounds plausible enough. But there are some problems with it - namely, not all of the Titans information sources agree with it. For instance, the first Titan trove accessed by the mortal races of Azeroth was in Uldaman, in the Badlands. This Titan complex, lying in the heart of the Eastern Kingdoms, is potentially the source of the dwarves and gnomes who live nearby in the mountains of Khaz Modan.

The Lore Keeper of Norgannon we meet at the end of Uldaman tells us that the Titans deviated from their normal plan when creating seed races.

A cross-section of Azeroth's crust was used as the foundation for the Earthen's synthesis rather than the typical biomass construction foundation used by the Creators.

Research on the world's composition led the Creators to theorize that an enhanced being could be synthesized that would epitomize the resiliency of this world's essence. This was accomplished by choosing to use a blend of Azeroth's various stone core compounds as the foundation.

What does this mean? Rather than the typical biomass construction foundation used by the Creators implies that the use of stone and other materials in the Titan constructs of Azeroth is not standard. This is not what the Titans usually do. Why did they do it on Azeroth, then? They appear to have done it quite extensively as well - the Earthen, the Mechagnomes, the Vrykul, the Mogu, the Tol'vir - a whole host of inorganic entities, using 'a cross-section of Azeroth's crust' to construct them. And why is the resilience of Azeroth's essence so remarkable?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: The others of Draenor

Genasaur - from Blizzcon Concept Art
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.

Draenor, like Azeroth, is populated by more than just one sapient people. We've talked at length about the orcs who were born on Draenor, and the draenei who landed there and named the world as their refuge. But there were others. Some have vanished entirely since the creation of Outland, while others escaped to Azeroth or continued to exist on the remnant continent itself, floating in the Twisting Nether.

Thus, our trip to this new Draenor will allow us to come face to face with beings we barely know, as they were before the destruction Ner'zhul unleashed, and with beings we've never met or seen, entities of legend. While we still don't know exactly what we'll find on Draenor (I'm sure it will be savage) we have enough clues to start talking about the denizens of that unknown (to us) world.

So, who were these others?

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

Know Your Lore: Rexxar, Champion of the Horde

Image
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 been a few years since we caught up with Rexxar, hasn't it? Despite the fact that he hasn't gotten any new screen time since he showed up to save Orgrimmar from the elemental invasion, Rexxar is on my mind of late. In truth, I pretty much covered Rexxar's life in broad strokes during the interbellum pieces The coming of Rexxar and Rexxar saves the Horde. This won't be a post rehashing all of that. We will discuss it, but in terms of what it means for the Horde right now and the Horde in the future.

With what we know about what's coming, the office of Warchief of the Horde will be contested. It's likely that Thrall may return to assume the mantle of Warchief again. But frankly, his time as World Shaman means that he has assumed a far greater and more demanding responsibility, that Thrall has Azeroth as his responsibility and his charge. Can he truly be both? And more importantly, should he? Whether or not you believe Thrall is the ultimate choice for Warchief of the Horde, I posit that he never would have endured in the role without the help of others, those who could be the mailed fist he could never truly be.

Before Varok Saurfang and Garrosh Hellscream led Horde forces to Northrend, one figure strode across the face of Kalimdor and beyond it, and through his actions defeated Theramore and saved the Horde. That one figure was Rexxar, born to the Mok'Nathal clan, a beastmaster of half-ogre descent. For his actions, he was named Champion of the Horde.

And the Horde sorely needs its champion again.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The orcs, 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.

Their name is on the freaking box. The very first Warcraft product ever released is called Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. Orcs get top billing. In terms of pure history in the Warcraft setting, orcs have a lot to discuss. In their time, they've gone from a shamanistic society of hunters defending itself from the hostile gronn and ogres to a united war machine led by a figurehead, to a demon-blood drunk engine of genocide and finally out the other side, to a shamanistic society that keeps elements of the war machine alive.

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

Breakfast Topic: What would the ultimate raid be?

I should probably asked "What would your ultimate raid be" instead but let's just run with it. For some people, Icecrown Citadel is the raid and the Lich King is the encounter they've been waiting for since WoW shipped. Arthas/The Lich King is on a lot of players' lists of favorite bad guy. For me, personally, there are a few contenders for 'Ultimate' raid status, as defined as both super-epic in lore and scope and the older definition of ultimate as the end. For me, if I ever get my ultimate raid, I may stop playing WoW.
  1. Deathwing. Frankly, if they do this fight the justice the character deserves, the fight will be so awesome that it may destroy my WoW installation upon finishing it. Deathwing is a character I've wanted to see more done with since our old days raiding BWL. I want cinematics, unique models, unique music, new mechanics, the works. I'm actually somewhat nervous about this character and hope his entrance in Cataclysm feels as portentous as it should.
  2. Sargeras. We've yet to actually see Sargeras himself in the game. His spirit is supposedly drifting in the Twisting Nether, unable to access his original form, so will we eventually end up fighting him twice? Will we have to try and stop him from reclaiming his original titanic form and power, and then fight him later once he does? And will we even be on Azeroth when the confrontation takes place, since for him to enter our world bodily seems to take a massive amount of power (see the original Well of Eternity)?
  3. Azshara. I really dig the Naga and I want to see more done with them. I know we'll have underwater cities and such in Cataclysm, but I'm eager to get to see the main event, so to speak. And Azshara ties well into the whole Sundering/Well of Eternity legacy which would make for all sorts of story hooks. I'm eager to see this character make an onscreen appearance in WoW.
  4. Someone new entirely. Old gods and established lore characters are great, but one of the things that Vanilla WoW did was provide us with new or expanded enemies to fight and I'd like to see more of that. Nefarian and Onyxia, Ragnaros, even C'Thun were all new to World of Warcraft itself (although the Black Dragonflight and Old Gods weren't.) There's no reason something else from the Twisted Nether or Great Dark Beyond couldn't menace Azeroth, or some mortal wizard or warrior couldn't acquire vast power and become a threat. The Lich King had ties to the previous two Warcraft games but was new at the same time. Let's see something like that happen again and an entirely new menace confront us.
  5. The Gronn. I kind of feel like the Gronn got short shrift in Burning Crusade. Here are these gigantic, semi-immortal beings of immense size and power, strong enough to go toe to toe with potent dragons and led by Gruul, who mysteriously has seven 'sons' (I can't tell Gronn genders, man, for all I know they use parthenogenesis to reproduce) each nearly as massive and vicious as he is. In Beyond the Dark Portal, Gruul is supposedly smart enough to know how to use the Alliance to help him defeat Deathwing, but in the game he's just kind of a drooling idiot. I'd enjoy a raid that dealt with the true origins of the ogres, their relation to the Gronn, and where the Gronn lords and Gruul actually came from.
So now we turn to you. What do you really want to raid? What raid would be your ultimate WoW experience?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Ask a Lore Nerd: Skeletons, slavery, and the shadows


Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, the column that answers your questions about the story and lore of the Warcraft universe. Click the Comments link below (or e-mail us!), ask your question, and blogger/columnist Alex Ziebart will answer your question in a future installment!

Be warned, ladies and gentlemen: There are a couple of minor spoilers for Wrath of the Lich King in this week's Ask a Lore Nerd. I don't think they're very substantial ones personally, but the choice is yours whether you want to continue reading or not.

Soirgriffe asks...

What tribe, if any, did the dire trolls come from and if not a tribe, where in general?

Just how dire trolls come to be is largely an unknown, but they don't seem to be an independent race. They're just bigger, stronger versions of a troll. All of the tribes seem to have dire trolls.

There are a couple of quests in Wrath of the Lich King that might suggest dire trolls are regular trolls who have been 'empowered' but to avoid spoiling too much, what goes on in those quests is pretty different from seeing Jin'rokh the Breaker hanging out with the Zandalari. So all that we really know is there is no racial distinction between Dire Trolls and Regular Trolls of the same tribe. One is just much, much bigger and stronger for some reason.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Ask a Lore Nerd

Gronn sculpture in progress from the EU forums


Varedis of EU Draenor is working on what looks like a neat clay Gronn sculpture, and while it's still a work in progress, he's posting pics of it over on the forums. Did you know the Gronn were Ogre demigods? I had no idea. But isn't there a Mountain Gronn killing Ogres in Nagrand? Looks like there's another lore line that dropped through the cracks.

Anyway, what Varedis has so far looks pretty good-- you can see how the clay gets modeled around a metal frame, shaped into the basic pose, and then each body part is fleshed out and shaped. So far all he's got is a right hand, it seems, but what's there looks good.

He's also working on a Tauren sculpture (concurrently, I guess), which also looks pretty good. Very good start, can't wait to see how the whole thing comes out.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, NPCs

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