Skip to Content

WoW Insider has the latest on the Mists of Pandaria!

Posts with tag know your lore

Know Your Lore: War of the Ancients, part 3 -- The one betrayed

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.

Before we even get started with this weeks KYL, let's take a look at parts 1 and 2 of our War of the Ancients roundups. Now that we've done that, we'll open up this post with an attempt at a succinct overview of the war and the difficulties inherent to discussing it.

Queen Azshara and her Highborne (quel'dorei) became arrogant and obsessed with the magical power of the Well of Eternity, a font of magical power the size of a massive lake that dominated the ancient single continent of Kalimdor. The wall was the source of all magical power the kaldorei (night elves) used in their world spanning civilization and far, far more as well. Created by the Titans, the Well's incalculable power was so vast that it called across the vast distances of the Great Dark Beyond to the fallen Titan Sargeras, who sought to use the Well's power to instantly enter Azeroth bodily and commence the annihilation of all the Titan's work in creating it. Azshara, whether through domination by or love for Sargeras, sought to aid him, even though it would destroy her own people. The native forces of Azeroth, the Dragonflights and nigh-immortal Ancients, rose to prevent the Burning Legion's destruction, but due to the treachery of the earth aspect Neltharion, they ultimately failed.

Read more →

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

Know Your Lore: The Wrynn dynasty

Generally speaking, the human race on Azeroth is in a sorry state. Led by a corrupt aristocracy ... manipulated by a dragon ... cheating contractors out of their pay for rebuilding the city ... and the only truly respected human leader is practically in exile due to her friendship with Thrall. How did the noble humans get where they are? What happened to the line of the kings of Stormwind?

Who: Llane Wrynn, Varian Wrynn and Anduin Wrynn.

What: The past three kings of Stormwind.

History: The first known member of the Wrynn dynasty is Landen Wrynn, who ruled the then-kingdom of Azeroth. We know he's a historical footnote simply because his court conjuror -- Nieles Aran, who is not some simple jester -- is a lot more famous than he is. Wrynn was succeeded by Adamant Wrynn III, which shows that the line of Wrynns probably goes back a heck of a lot longer than Landen. Under Adamant's rule, Azeroth was peaceful and wealthy, until the day when it suddenly wasn't. The culprit wasn't a recession, but the invasion of a rather large number of orcs from the Dark Portal. Adamant died of natural causes shortly after the First War began, and his only son, the twenty-year-old Llane Wrynn, inherited the throne.

Read more →

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

Know Your Lore: The Grimtotems

This has been one of the most-requested Know Your Lore subjects over the months we've had this feature, but I've held off because until recently there just wasn't that much information about the Grimtotems. With the new Dustwallow Marsh content in 2.4 and the revelations in the WoW comic book, it's finally time to explore one of the most mysterious factions in the game -- Magatha Grimtotem and her tribe of tauren outcasts.

Who: The Grimtotem Clan.

What: 1,430 members of a powerful Tauren clan.

History: Way, way back before Cairne Bloodhoof met Thrall and created a new tauren homeland in Mulgore, the tauren were organized into clans, each with their own leader. The Grimtotem were NOT one of these clans. Instead, the Grimtotem name passed down through generations of survival in other clans, until the Tauren were unified under Cairne. Then the Grimtotem banded together as, basically, an opposition party, defined by their distrust of Cairne's alliance with the orcs and trolls.

Read more →

Filed under: Tauren, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The story of the Burning Crusade

About two months ago, the Lead Designer for Blizzard gave an interview stating that Patch 2.4 -- specifically, the Sunwell instances -- will wrap up the story of the Burning Crusade. This got some of us here thinking. What exactly is the story of the Burning Crusade? Is it the tale of the blood elves and the draenei joining the Horde/Alliance factions? The mass exodus to Outland? The battles against the Illidari? Or the (once again temporary) defeat of the Burning Legion?

Actually, it's all of the above. And since it's now been over a year since TBC came out, it's about time for a review. So join KYL for ... the story of the Burning Crusade!

Once upon a time ... at the end of Warcraft III, Illidan Stormrage, Lady Vashj, and Kael'thas Sunstrider escaped certain death on Azeroth for the continent of Draenor. Once there, Illidan set himself up as Lord of Outland and appointed Vashj and Kael'thas as his top lieutenants. Illidan invited a group of the blood elves to come to Outland and serve him, and gave them new and improved techniques to siphon magic from the local demons.

This did not sit well with another group in Outland, the draenei. The draenei had been largely mutated or driven into hiding by their earlier war with the orcs, but the remaining draenei were still faithful to the Light and its champions, the too-cool-for-school Naaru. When the Illidari came and started enslaving the mutated draenei (or Broken), the remaining draenei decided it was time to take action. They stole the Exodar, part of a Naaru ship that had been taken over by the blood elves, and set out in search of salvation. One month ago, they crash-landed into some islands west of Kalimdor.

Read more →

Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Anduin Lothar

I'll admit it -- I've been slack in profiling Alliance heroes for Know Your Lore. That is because heroes, in general, are boring. Complex, shades-of-gray characters have always been more enticing for me, so I tend to scoff at goody-two-shoes like Malfurion and Uther.

But with the AV boycotts, battle cry arguments, and general put-uponness of the Alliance lately, you guys could really use a self-esteem boost. So today we present a true war hero of the Alliance: Anduin Lothar, the man who defeated the Old Horde. (Kind of.) (Not really.)

Who: Anduin Lothar, the Lion of Azeroth, the Last of the Arathi.

What: Human warrior/knight/fighter, which strikes me as three names for the same thing.

History: We don't know too much about Lothar's parents, other than that they were direct descendants of Thoradin, the founder of the Arathi nation. And actually, we don't know too much about Thoradin, either, although since he founded Stromgarde we can safely say that most players who went through Arathi Highlands pre-2.3 would like to spit on his grave.

Whoever Lothar's parents were, they didn't seem to be very interested in him, because they let him spend his childhood running around in the court of Azeroth with his friends Llane Wrynn (prince of Azeroth and future assassinee) and Medivh (demon-possessed kid and future swarthy dress-wearer.) The three got into many unnamed hijinks in their youth, but when they came of age, they went their separate ways. Medivh fainted and fell into a coma for years, Llane took up more duties in the royal court, and Lothar joined the army.

Read more →

Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Azshara

Queen Azshara might be one of the best-hidden characters in WoW lore. Her time of action came long before Warcraft I, she's never been seen in any of the games, and the only reference to her lies in the nearly abandoned wasteland that used to be her palace -- Azshara.

But she's still out there, and one of these days Blizzard's going to run out of ideas and make that underwater instance that everyone but warlocks is dreading, and we'll have to fight her. And her tentacles. So on that future day, between the endless chain pulls of level 92 elite murlocs, you can read this and know who you're getting ready to wipe to.

And by the way, the censored picture is from an official Warcraft RPG manual. Apparently octupi don't like wearing tops, even while posing for portraits. The pic links to the uncensored image.

Who: Queen Azshara of the Kal'dorei, Empress of Nazjatar, the Light of Lights, Vision of Perfection, Glory of Our People, Daughter of the Moon, Flower of Life ... and it goes on like this. As you might have guessed, Azshara was not lacking in the ego department.

What: Formerly a night elf, now a naga-like thing.

History: Thousands and thousands of years before Medivh opened the Dark Portal and let in hundreds of arguments about whether the Horde is really evil, the most advanced civilization on Azeroth was that of the Kal'dorei, or night elves. They were split into two social classes: the common Kal'dorei, and the elite, magic-using Highborne, or Quel'dorei. The Kal'dorei were deeply jealous of the Quel'dorei, envying their social status and magical powers. But the one uniting factor between the Kal'dorei and Quel'dorei was their love of their queen, Azshara.

Read more →

Filed under: Night Elves, Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Maiev Shadowsong

Last week, Matthew wrote about Uther Lightbringer, a good man who abhorred vengeance in all its forms and worked relentlessly for justice and peace. Screw that! Today, we'll be covering someone who adored vengeance in all its forms and worked relentlessly to throw someone in jail for several thousand years. Meet Maiev Shadowsong, Illidan's original creepy fangirl stalker.

Who: Maiev Shadowsong.

What: Rather tall night elf.

History: Maiev and her brother, Jarod Shadowsong, both fought in the resistance against the Burning Legion during the War of the Ancients. She bore a grudge against Tyrande Whisperwind for being elected homecoming queen High Priestess instead of her. When Tyrande disappeared, Maiev took over the office and served well. After Tyrande helped Malfurion Stormrage destroy the Well of Eternity and lead the elves to Kalimdor, she returned as High Priestess and chose Maiev as her second-in-command. Of COURSE having a second-in-command who hates you is a wonderful idea!

In Kalimdor, the night elf leaders formed a party to explore the new land of Mount Hyjal. On a mountaintop, they discovered a new Well of Eternity, with Illidan Stormrage standing beside it saying "Dude, I don't know how that got there. I was just fishing for Deviates!" The elven leadership hurried to capture Illidan for creating the new well, but he figured he might as well resist arrest, since a life sentence for immortal beings is like fifty billion years long. Illidan's counterattack killed many of the night elves and put Maiev's brother Jarod in a coma, along with Dath'remar Sunstrider (the ancestor of Illidan's future Best Pal Ever Kael'Thas Sunstrider.) The elves managed to capture Illidan, and Malfurion sentenced him to imprisonment in a barrow den underneath the earth. Malfurion also decided that Maiev needed a new job besides hating his girlfriend, and made her the head of the Watchers and Illidan's personal jailor.

Read more →

Filed under: Night Elves, Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Bad Dragons

Once upon a time, cavemen roamed the earth, great volcanic eruptions disrupted the cavemen's gaming time, and I wrote an article called "Know Your Lore: Good Dragons." Now it's time to cover the "bad dragons" - the Blue, Black, Chromatic and Infinite Dragonflights. And yes, I know you're all going to complain about the blue dragonflight being "bad", but unless you really want to run every dungeon at level 80 without a mage, you're gonna have to fight them.

Blue Dragonflight

  • Leader: Malygos.
  • Characteristics: The blue dragons may be the most intelligent of all the dragonflights. They're the masters of magic, the weavers of the arcane, and the guardians of icy areas. Of course they're going to be villains at some point! "Arcane magic corrupts" is one of the primary lessons of WoW, along with "elves are jerks" and "never get involved in a land war in Kalimdor."

Read more →

Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, NPCs, Wrath of the Lich King

Know Your Lore: Good dragons

Before we get into this week's KYL, we have a little bit of business to take care of. Some of you may have noticed that this feature has been rather inconsistently published in the past month. This is due to my beginning a new job and classes at the same time. So to keep up our publishing schedule, and to bring a fresh face to the column, Matthew Rossi will be taking over KYL every other week, beginning next week. Please do not throw eggs at him.

And, now, on with the show! It's pretty much a given that in any fantasy game, you're going to have to kill a dragon or two, and WoW is no exception. There are tons of dragons hanging around, so much so that it becomes a problem to tell exactly what they're doing. Because of this, a concerned (and confused) reader wrote in a few weeks ago asking us to do a piece on the different dragonflights that were sent by the Titans to guard the world of Azeroth. As you wish, reader. As you wish. However, there are a LOT of dragons, so today we'll cover the "good" dragonflights: Red, Bronze, Green, and Nether. Next time we'll get the "Bad Dragons": Black, Blue, Chromatic, and Infinite.

Read more →

Filed under: Lore, Bosses, Know your Lore, NPCs, Mounts

Know Your Lore: Zul'jin

If you may recall, back in the ancient days of yore two weeks ago, Know Your Lore did a report on the history of the trolls and promised to get to Zul'jin the following week. Then Know Your Lore got strep throat, which is a ridiculous thing to get at the age of 24. So I broke my promise and humbly apologize. Here is a monkey befriending a kitten.

Who: Zul'jin.

What: Leader of the Forest Trolls.

History: As stated in the previous article, all trolls came from one original species, but divided into several sub-groups based on their values. After they fought and lost a war with the night elves and the world got Sundered, they were tossed around to all different places. The forest trolls of the Amani Empire were sent back to northern Lordaeron, where they managed to rebuild a pretty extensive empire. Then the silly night elves showed up again, in the form of the arcane-addicted high elves, who put up magical runestones and built their city on sacred troll land.

The trolls attacked a couple of times, but were scared off by the arcane magic. There was an uneasy stalemate for several thousand years, but one day, the trolls launched their full forces at the elves. The elves called upon the humans of Arathor for help and agreed to teach them the secrets of magic. The humans and the elves routed the trolls in the Alterac Mountains, and the Amani Empire was beaten into submission. (Yes, I know I'm repeating myself but it's important, because ...) This is where Zul'jin comes in.

Read more →

Filed under: Trolls, Instances, Lore, Bosses, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Troll history

Woo, Zul'Aman is coming. Another dang troll instance. Another fight against my brothers and sisters. Another slog through endless high priests and animal aspects. Another raid of "Sorry there, I thought you were one of the mobs so I was trying to fight you." We've killed so many trolls now, I think it's about time we know what we've been fighting.

Troll lore is extremely interesting, but it's also ridiculously confusing. I mean, how many troll tribes have we launched genocides against by now? How are all these trolls related, anyway? Do any trolls actually get along with other trolls? Read on, and we'll try to sort through some of the muddy tangles of troll history. Next week we'll actually get to Zul'jin himself, who was originally the focus of this article before it got horrendously long.

Who: Trolls!

What: Trolls!

History: First, before this gets too confusing, let's do a basic summary of the sort of trolls you're going to run into in WoW, so you can connect the names with the in-game models. Jungle trolls are the skinny dudes in the Temple of Atal'hakkar, Stranglethorn Vale, Zul'Gurub, and Darkshore. The Darkspear trolls -- the playable race of trolls -- are also jungle trolls. Forest trolls include the troll enemies in Hinterlands, LBRS, Ghostlands, and Eastern Plaguelands, and the Horde-friendly Revantusk trolls. Ice trolls are found in Northrend and Dun Morogh, and sand trolls are the guys in Zul'Farrak. A basic troll identification guide is skin color. Forest trolls are green, jungle trolls are blue/purple, ice trolls are white/light blue, and sand trolls are beige. An excellent guide to troll looks can be found here. What? We're not racist.

Read more →

Filed under: Trolls, Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Death Knights

With all the hubbub about the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Know Your Lore is going to cover some of the lore behind our frozen neighbor to the north. (No, not Canada. They have no history. Also, I fully expect to get gkicked for that statement.) We already took care of Arthas and Sylvanas, but we still have Ner'zhul, Anub'arak, and others to cover.

But for starters, let's check out the lore behind one of the new additions to World of Warcraft: the Death Knight class! There's already been quite a stir about them on the forums, with people complaining that they should only be humans and undead, should only come out of sacrificing your previous character, and shouldn't be in the Alliance because it would conflict with the wonderful art of roleplaying a talking paladin cat. But I've always believed that people should know what they're complaining about, so here's a guide to the current basis of the Death Knight hero class, as we know it.

Name: Death Knights.

Race: Undead orcs, humans, other things.

History: The Death Knights actually have two separate histories: one from the Second War, and one from the Third. We'll start with the former, because doing things in chronological order is awesome.

Once upon a time, a very bad demon named Kil'jaeden corrupted the native orcs of Draenor and convinced them to forsake their shamanistic culture for the power of black magic. The orcs invaded the world of Azeroth, led by Gul'dan and the warlocks of the demon-influenced Shadow Council. But when Gul'dan overstepped his power and fell into a coma, the orc Orgrim Doomhammer took advantage of the situation, launching a palace coup and killing as many warlocks as he could find. Doomhammer hated warlocks and intended to kill Gul'dan as well. When Gul'dan awoke, he begged for Doomhammer to spare his life, and promised him that he could use shadow magic to create a caste of powerful warriors loyal to the Horde. Doomhammer was suspicious, but agreed to hear Gul'dan out.

Read more →

Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Know Your Lore: Gods and monsters

Azeroth differs from the real world in many, many ways. For example, outside the game, you will rarely find that your wages for completing jobs come in leather form, unless you work in adult entertainment. You will also find it difficult to fit an elephant, a stack of ore, and five large swords into a small brown sack. And in Azeroth, you won't go to pick up a quest only to be told that the Mag'har have decided to go with a more qualified adventurer, nor will your flying mount get repossessed by the bank. But there's one thing Earth and Azeroth have in common: A lot of the violence and conflict is caused by religious differences.

Since Azeroth has no handy televangelism networks or airport pamphleteers, most players don't know too much about the religions and gods of the Warcraft universe. So Know Your Lore has prepared a guide to the major religions, their worshippers, their enemies, and other important information. Read on, lest ye be smited by boils!

Read more →

Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Aegwynn

Azeroth isn't an easy place to live. Aside from those damn immortal night elves, most of the characters we know and love today weren't around for most of Warcraft history. Thrall? Born after the First War. Jaina? Barely middle-aged. Arthas? Is he even old enough to rent a car?

But on today's Know Your Lore, we have a lore figure who's lived for well over a millenium. She's seen it all and done most of it, despite being a mere human woman. So put your hands together for the second-to-last Guardian of Tirisfal, Magna Aegwynn!

Who: Magna Aegwynn, Guardian of Tirisfal.

What: Human Guardian.

History: Once upon a time, a council of mages met in the woods of Tirisfal to figure out a way to keep the Burning Crusade away from Azeroth. The mages decided to imbue one protector, or Guardian, with the magical powers of the Sunwell and charge them to secretly fight the Legion. The mages empowered the Guardian through a long ritual which caused them to lose part of their power. Once a Guardian was created, he would be the only Guardian until his death, or until the mages completed a long ritual to strip the Guardian of his power and create a new one. The Guardian would be given the title of Magna and a room in the Violet Citadel.

This system worked well until the time of Magna Scavell. Scavell was an aging Guardian who took in five apprentices, all of whom wished to succeed him as Guardian. Four of the students were men and one was a woman, Aegwynn. While the male students made fun of Aegwynn, claiming that women weren't good at magic, Aegwynn studied hard and eventually learned to read the Meitre Scrolls, the spells of long-dead Highborne wizards, which few could comprehend. Because of this, the Council of Tirisfal chose Aegwynn to be the next Guardian and transferred the power from Scavell to Aegwynn through their ritual.

Read more →

Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore Special: The top ten lore quests, part 1

Questing in WoW can be a dull experience. Go out and kill ten harpies, go out and retrieve ten elephant tongues, go deliver this letter to a guy standing five feet away because I'm a lazy ass and can't be bothered to move. Eventually, you get bored, turn on Instant Quest Text, and start following objectives instead of storylines. But, as Amanda pointed out in June, sometimes it pays to read the story.

Many of the quests mentioned in that article's comments are miniature lore storylines in themselves -- Rakh'likh the Defiler, Linken's quests, all the really annoying chains in Eastern Plaguelands that I never finished because I enjoyed wearing the Scarlet Crusade disguises too much. A lot of these don't have much to do with the main lore of Azeroth. But sprinkled in-between are a couple of quests that really get deep into the heart of WoW, bringing in heavy-hitting lore figures and major events in the Warcraft universe. They're the quests everyone should do simply to see what happens. And so, Know Your Lore presents: The Top Ten Lore Quests in World of Warcraft!

Read more →

Filed under: Quests, Lore, Know your Lore

Around Azeroth

Around Azeroth

Featured Galleries

It came from the Blog: Occupy Orgrimmar
Midsummer Flamefest 2013
Running of the Orphans 2013
World of Warcraft Tattoos
HearthStone Sample Cards
HearthStone Concept Art
It came from the Blog: Lunar Lunacy 2013
Art of Blizzard Gallery Opening