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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

Know Your Lore: Blackhand the Destroyer

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.

There are no spoilers for Warlords of Draenor here, because we're not talking about that Blackhand. No, the Blackhand we're going to talk about today is the original, the first Warchief of the Horde, the leader of the Blackrock orcs. A raider of the Sythegore Arm and a feared wolf-rider, Blackhand was both tactically brilliant and overly fond of flattery - he rose to the position of Warchief because he possessed both the ruthless cunning necessary to lead the Horde and the ego and vanity that Gul'dan used to manipulate him. It was this strange mix in his personality, his bloodlust and desire for power yet gullibility and willingness to be misled that led him to the position of Warchief, led him onto an alien world, and ultimately led him to his death.

Blackhand was first in command of the Blackrock clan. He had three children with his mate Urukal, Griselda, Rend and Maim. Griselda's fate shows us that not all orc clans were as egalitarian as the Frostwolves. But before all of that, before he sold his children to warlock magic to make adults from them before their time, before he was Warchief, before he drank the demon blood after Grom Hellscream, Blackhand was an ambitious, cruel, and eager warrior who sought glory in battle, and his own aggrandizement.

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

Know Your Lore: Lantresor of the Burning Blade

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 not the result of Gul'dan's breeding experiments.

He is not orc, nor is he draenei. No, he is Lantresor, and he is a half-orc blademaster of draenei descent. Formerly one of the Burning Blade, his story straddles two worlds, and in its wake embodies both the glories and the foibles of the world of his birth. Not welcome among either of his peoples, he sought his own path, his own destiny. And we have seen it unfold in different ways, at different times.

Lantresor of the Blade is a blademaster. This is his story.

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

The war between narrative and game mechanics

I've long had a complicated relationship with the story of Warcraft. Once, I was enamored by the world they've created -- I was one of the earlier contributors to Know Your Lore, eager to share my love of the franchise's narrative. I'm no longer so enamored. I don't hate it, but neither do I love it. I'm not angry, I'm disappointed. Yes, I often disagree with the narrative choices Blizzard has made with their story, but moreso I come to realize World of Warcraft is burdened by itself in respect to its narrative. Story and game mechanics are in constant conflict, and when you're looking at a game like WoW and a company like Blizzard (with their focus on tight gameplay), story will lose that battle every time. Blizzard has mentioned more than once that orcs versus humans is the core element of Warcraft. Whenever the narrative tries to move back to the roots of the franchise, that's where it goes. And that's the problem.

The war between the Alliance and the Horde can never end. Worse, it can never progress -- and the characters involved in that war story cannot progress unless removed from it. Mists of Pandaria made this more obvious than it has ever been before.

Boneheaded heroes

For the sake of parity, let's look at both Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall. These two characters have had a history together since Warcraft III. Not a romantic history as some like to claim, but a history. They were allies. Both of them held out hope for peace between the Horde and the Alliance for years. Both of them made sacrifices in the hopes of accomplishing it, Jaina moreso than any other, allowing the Horde to kill her orc-slaying father. They were both powerful, influential people in their respective factions. The events of Warcraft III made us believe they might achieve that peace. World of Warcraft showed us otherwise.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Mists of Pandaria in review

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.

With the introduction of the Warlords of Draenor cinematic, short story Hellscream, and the Lords of War animated shorts, we can pretty much tack an official "The End" on Mists of Pandaria. All tie in material has been or is in the process of being released, and all new and upcoming content seems to be focusing on the expansion ahead. Although Warlords of Draenor won't launch until November, we can pretty much consider Mists of Pandaria over and done with, story-wise.

Which means it's time to do one of my favorite things to do -- head back and review the expansion in its entirety. It's not really fair to review a book based solely on one chapter, after all. Mists of Pandaria might have seemed like a fairly simple concept from the announcement of the expansion, but it actually played out into a reasonably complex story over the course of four content patches. So how does the story of Mists hold up against its predecessors?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Lords of War Part Two: Grommash Hellscream

The second installment of Blizzards animated short series Lords of War debuted today, shedding more background on the leader of the Iron Horde: Grommash Hellscream. There's not doubt that Grommash is a pivotal figure in the upcoming expansion, with his son, Garrosh, having been a central figure in the Mists of Pandaria. Like the previous installment of Lords of War, the new episode opens with Maraad urging Varian to take the offensive and march through the new Dark Portal to face the Iron Horde head on. He then goes on to tell the tale of the events that earned Grommash the undying loyalty of his Warsong clan and how he, against incredible odds, bested the ogre nations united against him. We also get a glimpse of Grommash's mate, Golka, and her fate at the hands of the retaliating ogres.

Check out Lords of War Part Two: Grommash, and learn more about the senior Hellscream, and what makes him who he is.

Filed under: Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: The dawn 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.

The Horde as a factional entity has without question seen the most push in terms of story development -- but that's not necessarily something that could be considered an advantage when it comes to World of Warcraft. Sure, story is all well and good, and the advancement of plot is something that's always fun to see. But in the case of the Horde, that plot and story has had some of the most tumultuous conflicts we've seen, including full out inter-factional warfare in Mists of Pandaria.

And now we stand at the cusp of new expansion, one that is turning away from the factional conflicts of Azeroth, and instead setting its sights on the distant world of Draenor and the evil schemes of the Iron Horde. Again, the advancement of story is all well and good, here. And given what happened in Mists of Pandaria, perhaps it's for the best that we depart the stormy shores of Durotar and turn our focus elsewhere ... because right now, the Horde is at its weakest. What is the future of the Horde? That's a pretty good question -- one that likely began to plague Warchief Vol'jin the moment we stepped out of Siege.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Alliances

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.

Unlike the Horde (as we discussed last week) there have really only been two Alliances. There was the Alliance of Lordaeron, formed by the human kingdoms of the northern parts of the Eastern Kingdoms, the Wildhammer dwarves and the refugees of Stormwind (and later joined by the dwarves of Khaz Modan, gnomes of Gnomeregan and the high elves of Silvermoon) - this Alliance ultimately died many small deaths as members left. Gilneas over the establishment of internment camps for orcs rather than simply exterminating them and the expense of maintaining Nethergarde Keep, Stromgarde over Thoras Trollbane's argument with Terenas Menethil over Trollbane's wish to simply execute all orc prisoners outright. The high elves of Quel'thalas left as soon as they reasonably could after the death of Anduin Lothar, since they originally only joined the Alliance due to an ancient oath to the Arathor bloodline, of which Anduin Lothar as the sole survivor.

It was the rise and fall of this Alliance, which came together fitfully, was nearly destroyed by betrayal, and ultimately died not from defections or secession but by the hand of the man born to rule one of its kingdoms that created its successor. To understand the Alliance of Lordaeron, we must understand the First and Second Wars.

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

Know Your Lore: Warlords, timelines, and the Bronze Dragonflight

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.

Many of the questions that have had players mystified since Warlords of Draenor was introduced last year at BlizzCon surrounded Draenor itself. How did it appear? Why is it different? Why don't the events that occur on Draenor have any kind of bearing on what's going on with Azeroth? If Draenor is an alternate Draenor, is there an alternate Azeroth as well? Does this mean there are duplicate lore characters? Will we see two Thralls, two Velens, two versions of Garrosh? And as the year has slowly marched on, that question has been answered in bits and pieces, but never with enough clarity to really set people's minds at ease.

When the Warlords of Draenor beta was released, it became immediately clear to anyone that knew the history of Warcraft that this Draenor, the one on which we are going to be building garrisons, amassing armies, and defeating the Iron Horde, is not and never was the Draenor we were already familiar with. It's an entirely different planet. We've been using the term "alternate universe" in reference to Draenor because seems the best term to encompass the concept of this strange world. With the release of the short story Hellscream, it has finally been made clear just what is going on with Draenor -- and it has nothing to do with Garrosh's trip, and everything to do with the Bronze Dragonflight.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor as well as the short story Hellscream.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Which Horde is Which?

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.

There will be spoilers for Warlords of Draenor in this post

So you may be confused right now. With the soon to come introduction of the Iron Horde, we've entered a situation where we've got several different Hordes. There's the Old Horde, the original Horde that invaded Azeroth from Draenor. There's the New Horde, or Horde 2 if you prefer, the Horde put together by Thrall after he liberated the orc survivors from the Second War, leading them out of the internment camps and to the shores of Kalimdor. Along the way they picked up the tauren and Darkspear trolls as allies, and eventually the Forsaken, blood elves and Bilgewater goblins joined their ranks. This Horde is the Horde most players are still a part of. Meanwhile, at the same time, there was the Dark Horde, consisting of Blackrock orcs under the command of Rend Blackhand and his ultimate master, Nefarian.

During his reign as Warchief of the Horde (the New Horde, to be specific) Garrosh Hellscream recruited both the Blackrock and Dragonmaw orcs to join the Horde. But at the same time, he grew disenchanted with the other races of the Horde - goblins were too greedy, blood elves too mercurial, undead too loyal to Sylvanas and distasteful to his sensibilities, the Darkspear too loyal to their Vol'jin, and the tauren ultimately too bound to their own code of honor. It didn't help that he'd killed Cairne Bloodhoof and further alienated the tauren clan leader Baine, Cairne's son, with his actions. Soon, Garrosh found himself leading a Horde he didn't much trust or care for.

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

Know Your Lore: Warlord Grommash Hellscream

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.

Strength personified. That might be the best way to describe Grommash Hellscream, leader of the Warsong clan, trusted friend of Thrall, father of Garrosh Hellscream, and the orc who killed Mannoroth and released the orcish race from their servitude to the Burning Legion. Certainly all of those accomplishments under his belt might make Grommash sound like a shining example of exemplary heroism to some ... but in truth, that's only part of the story.

Still, the tales of his father's heroic death were more than enough to spur Garrosh Hellscream from listless would-be leader of Garadar to Azeroth. They were enough to light a fire that fueled his leadership of the campaign against the Lich King in Northrend. They were more than enough to fill Garrosh's heart with pride at the thought of a Horde war machine, one that he led with steadfast dedication as Warchief. But Garrosh's heart is the heart of a Hellscream, and another look at Grommash Hellscream's past shows that Hellscream's son is very much cut from the same cloth as his father.

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

Warlords of Draenor: Kargath Bladefist character page added

Blizzard has added a new page to their Characters of Warcraft lore section on the official site, just in time for the launch of Lords of War. This time, the focus is on Kargath Bladefist, Warlord of the Shattered Hand and the first orc to be featured in the new web series. Along with a little summary of just who Kargath is, there's a little background on the Shattered Hand as well -- not just their origins, but how they operate on Draenor today.

In addition, there's a cool new wallpaper featuring Kargath doing what he does best and slaughtering an ogre in an arena. It's entirely likely we'll see new warlords added with each new episode of Lords of War -- although I'm still holding out for a page featuring Maraad, or Kargath, or even Yrel. Check out the page for more information on Bladefist and his clan -- and keep your eyes peeled for more from the lore team as preparation for the expansion's release continues.


Filed under: Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Animated miniseries Lords of War makes its debut

In addition to the cinematic and a bunch of previews, the Community Event also handed us a sneak preview of Lords of War, the new animated series covering the history and backstory for each of the warlords we're going to meet when we step through the Dark Portal and confront them on Draenor. The first is the Shattered Hand.

The series has an interesting premise -- King Varian is faced with the same force that destroyed Stormwind under his father's rule and he's desperately trying to figure out how he can beat what his father couldn't. Vindicator Maraad faced them on his Draenor, so he has the dirt on each of the warlords. We get the story from him. I'm not sure how well that works when we're dealing with an alternate Draenor, but it makes for some well-animated storytelling, I'll tell you that much.

So head on over and watch episode one of Lords of War and get ready for the remaining episodes.

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

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