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Know Your Lore: A discussion of Med'an

Know Your Lore A discussion of Med'an Wed
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.

Med'an is a controversial character.

Well, maybe not. If Med'an were controversial, that would mean that some people like him and some people hate him, but so far, if Med'an has fans they're being awfully quiet about it. Now, that doesn't mean they don't exist, but until I see evidence for them existing I'm going to assume that they don't. So Med'an isn't controversial because there's no controversy. People either hate him, or they don't care about him at all. But there's the rub. By nature, I tend to dislike just going along with the common opinion without examining it for myself. So now, I find myself forced to ask: is Med'an that bad?

Med'an is as far as I know the only character to get dismissed from existence by the Ask CDev responses. There's a vague response at the end of Ask CDev 3 that implies that he left Azeroth entirely, and that's the last word we've gotten on the character. And I kind of understand why - taking a look at Med'an's backstory, it kind of sounds like something you'd see in someone's FlagRP profile that got out of hand.

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

Know Your Lore: Why do we fight?

Know Your Lore Why do we fight 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.

Azeroth is a volatile land fraught with conflict. In recent years of history, this conflict has been highlighted by the battle between Alliance and Horde, a seemingly never-ending struggle that began the moment the orcs made their way through the Dark Portal and began attacks on the Eastern Kingdoms in earnest. But prior to the orcs, there were still wars to contend with. In early days, pandaren rose up against mogu, troll against aqir. Kaldorei against Burning Legion, and against each other in the process.

It almost seems as though Azeroth's destiny is one that is irrevocably tied to war -- we're destined to fight, regardless of who we are, or what we happen to be fighting. But why do the Alliance and Horde continue to fight? They've worked together in the past, and yet it seems that every time they are close to some sort of peaceful resolution, they are drawn once more to war. What's making the Alliance and Horde so aggressive this time around?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: What if Stormwind had won the First War?

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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.

What if ...?

It's one of the most dangerous two-word phrases in the English language, my friends. What if leads us down roads strewn with nevers, could have and didn't after didn't.

This week, we're going to look at what would have happened if a few decisions had been made differently. What if Stormwind had never fallen? What if the Horde had lost the First War? On the surface, it seems like an easy question to answer. Stormwind never falls and Varian Wrynn's dad Llane gets to stay king with his heart inside his chest. Everyone's happy, right? (Well, everyone but the orcs.)

But the world would be vastly different without the rise of the Horde to prominence on Azeroth. Without the disastrous defeat of one of humanity's nations, there would be no Alliance of Lordaeron, no Thrall, no Second War, no death of Gul'dan at the Tomb of Sargeras, no Alliance Expedition, no destruction of Draenor by Ner'zhul's reckless sorcery -- the closer one gets to the present-day World of Warcraft, the more unrecognizable it becomes.

We can't answer for every possibility. We can't establish an absolutely canonical scenario for what would have happened, and we'd be fools to try. But we can look at the ramifications of the First War and consider their immediate implications and what would have come from them.

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

Breakfast Topic: Are there some things you wish weren't canon?

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I liked the Warcraft comics, for the most part. Keep in mind that I say this as someone with 18 boxes of various DC and independently published comics in my closet. That said, I like comic books -- superheroes are pretty awesome. Superhero comics generally have an in-your-face quality to them, the characters are larger than life, and the stories are ridiculously complicated. In a way, it's kinda like a soap opera, only on paper with less weeping and more kicking butt. So the Warcraft comics fit quite nicely into that niche of superhero comic, in my opinion. The stories were pretty epic, there was always something going on, and the characters were larger than life.

But oh, how I wish Med'an did not exist in official canon. It's one thing to have an overpowered character in a comic book introduced for some sort of overarching epic tale; it's another thing altogether to try and shoehorn that character into a franchise full of characters that have a small spark of reality to them. Don't get me wrong -- there were plenty of things I loved about the comics series that were taken into canon. The split-personality Varian was a really intriguing element that has been pushed into what ultimately I see as a really unique way of developing his character beyond random king #3 or #4.

Med'an, on the other hand, has no redeeming emotional aspect; he's just a flat-out superhero. He doesn't appear to have any weaknesses whatsoever, and his introduction threw a wrench into Garona's character that I didn't particularly care for, not to mention Medivh's. His arrival seemed like it was solely for the purpose of telling a good superhero comic story, with no real root in Warcraft. And the fact that he's the hybrid of three races all from different planets is just a little too over the top from the standpoint of simple biology.

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Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Weapons of Lore: Atiesh and Andonisus, Reaper of Souls

It was the first caster legendary available to players, but the amount of time and devotion it took to get almost guaranteed that only a tiny piece of the player population actually obtained it. Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian wasn't a particularly fancy weapon by today's standards. It was simple, smooth staff topped with the carving of a raven and quietly adorned with a bit of ribbon. But to those that followed Warcraft's lore, the simple design was easily recognized as the staff of one of the most powerful casters of all time.

Atiesh was the epitome of everything a caster desired, largely because of its roots within the history of Warcraft. This wasn't just a simple staff; this was the weapon of choice for the last known Guardian of Azeroth, the wizard Medivh. Medivh was featured heavily in the original Warcraft RTS games but hasn't been seen since the end of Warcraft III. Atiesh, on the other hand, was seen by many -- and craved by many more. And the fate of this unusual staff ties in with another legendary weapon most never encountered: Andonisus, Reaper of Souls.

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Filed under: Lore

Know Your Lore: Brotherhood of the Horse

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.

They saved the people of Stormwind, and not only did it cost them their lives, but then their bodies were taken by the invaders and desecrated into Undead, used as unliving weapons possessed by Orc necrolytes. In life, these heroes fought the Orcs to a standstill and even drove them back at times. In death, their debased frames were the first death knights created by Gul'dan the warlock.

They earned heaven and were instead given hell. They were the Brotherhood of the Horse, the finest knights and warriors the Kingdom of Stormwind had to offer. Their greatest leader and last member died on Blackrock Mountain, and since his death, no one has raised their banner. They gave everything to save their world and received only a mockery of death in return.

Before this fate, however, they served their kingdom as its most elite -- the best soldiers it had, the most feared military force humanity could then muster, and they proved it time and again. During the First War, the Orcs learned fear when they heard their horses approach and died battling against their lances and greatswords. It was this prowess that made them the targets of Gul'dan's ire.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Death Knight

Know Your Lore: Karazhan and the Dark Riders of Deadwind Pass

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.

Sometimes it's the characters that make Warcraft interesting, and sometimes, every now and again, it's the locations themselves that intrigue. Nestled in the heart of the Eastern Kingdoms, in a forlorn stretch of land simply called Deadwind Pass, lies the tower of Karazhan. Once the former home of Medivh, now a demon-riddled raid instance, Karazhan's story has far more to it than simply being the home of one of the last Guardians of Azeroth.

Rumors also abound about Deadwind Pass and its inhabitants -- strange, mysterious riders cloaked in darkness. Their shrill, harsh voices echoed through the hills of Duskwood once upon a time, and the purpose of their journey was an artifact powerful enough to be the genesis for an entirely new playable race. Karazhan, Deadwind Pass, and the Dark Riders all have an enigmatic history that's never been fully explained. But we do have hints, here and there scattered across novels and in game, that clear up a small portion of the mystery.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Anduin Lothar, the Lion of Azeroth (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.

Anduin Lothar made the supreme sacrifice for his people. He lived for them, and he died for them, at the end of a long life dedicated to their welfare. He lived his entire life in the saddle, riding from adventure to duty, fighting first for himself and then for everyone he loved. Last of a bloodline that could claim to be the kings of all humanity, Lothar died not as a king but as a soldier fighting to save his world from those who had willingly sold their souls, their children's lives, and their world to the bloodlust of demons. In life, he had repeatedly balked their victory. In death, he secured his people's future.

There will never be a warrior as great as Lothar. No one, no man, no orc, no one can ever exceed his accomplishment. Uncompromising, he brought forth a compromise that welded together disparate races in a union to defend themselves and their world. Stern, he managed to nurture a band of heroes who would stride forth with his name on their lips and his example in their hearts to plant it as a standard on a foreign world. Aged and weary, he carried his best friend's nation and his best friend's treasured son to safety and brought both through the terrible storm to be returned to their rightful home.

Without Lothar, there would be no humanity left. Without Lothar, orc slaves to the Burning Legion would have destroyed all of the Eastern Kingdoms and, in thrall to their demon masters, laid waste to a second world. Without Lothar, everything changes. This is the life of the Lion of Azeroth.

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

Know Your Lore: The humans, part 2

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.

When blood-crazed, willing slaves to demons who had sold their race and their world for power assaulted Azeroth, it was the humans who fought them. It was humans who lost ground, family, mothers and fathers and homes to stem the tide of orcish bloodlust and save Azeroth from their evil. There is no question of this. If the humans had lost the Second War, Azeroth would have been destroyed just as Draenor was, sucked dry of life. It was also a human's arrogant decision that she knew best that led the lord of the Burning Legion himself to invade her body, possess her unborn son, and twist his gifts and powers to evil, to contact Gul'dan and lead to the First and Second Wars. If not for humans, the orcs would have died on their dried-out, fel-poisoned planet, and no one would have ever heard of them again.

Humanity could be said to be the best and the worst of Azeroth. Short-lived, humans possess as much or more talent for every field of endeavor as any race on the face of the world. They equal or surpass orcs and trolls for savagery in combat. They match or overmatch high and blood elves for sorcery. Their priests command the Holy Light, as do their paladins. Humans have been spies, diplomats, scholars, warlords and simple men and women of the soil. In part one, we talked about the rise of the Seven Nations of humanity following the troll wars.

Now, we look to their destruction.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, 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

Know Your Lore: Garona: A Study on Stealth and Treachery, 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.
The stories of battle and victory have always been told, and in the past, it was up to the leaders of each assault to document the past. While fine leaders in war, these chieftains lacked the ability to convey those actions with written words. I present as an example:
"Thok go through shiny hole. Then me fall down, but me good. Me find many good things to eat. We find village. We mash them and eat their food. Thok stop now. Head hurt from write."
The fact that I am of both Orc and Human lineage, combined with the skills and schooling I have acquired from my journeys, has elevated me to the position I now hold. As chief interpreter to the Shadow Council, the duty of preserving the accounts of our conquering of this world and the eventual crusade into the land of Humanity, has fallen now upon my shoulders. I, Garona, now humbly present that history. . .

-- The Destiny of the Orcish Hordes
What kind of terror courses through you when your body will not respond to the thoughts in your mind? Garona Halforcen was originally introduced in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. Throughout the course of the story, Garona continually referred to herself as half human. Garona's heritage was something that had been brought into question on more than one occasion in Warcraft lore. Since humans hadn't been seen on Draenor at that point in time, how could Garona be a full-grown half-orc by the time the Horde stepped through the Dark Portal?

Garona's life was relatively lonely on Draenor. She spent most of it traveling and learning the culture of the orcs. This caught the attention of the Shadow Council, which marveled at her intelligent and cunning. Judging her an invaluable asset, they recruited her as Gul'dan's personal spy and assassin. Despite her standing, she was still vastly alone; as a half-orc, she held no particular allegiance to any clan. It wasn't until she arrived on Azeroth with the rest of the orcs that her keen intelligence and mixed blood came into play.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The Third War, part 3

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.

Last week, we covered the campaign of Prince Arthas Menethil across Northrend, the destruction of his soul and subversion of his homeland under the forces of the Lich King, and the summoning of the demon lord Archimonde into Azeroth. Dalaran was destroyed, most of the ancient kingdom of Lordaeron annihilated, and the forces of the Scourge placed under the direct control of Tichondrius, a trusted dreadlord. This left Arthas and Kel'Thuzad at loose ends just as the Lich King had anticipated, for he had plans of his own for his most powerful minions that didn't involve them working for the Burning Legion. Ner'zhul, the spirit that had been twisted and deformed by the Legion's master manipulator Kil'jaeden, had nothing but bile, scorn and contempt for his purported masters and sought to use his influence as the Lich King to free himself from their control.

As the Legion and its Scourge army prepared for the next move of its invasion, other forces had gathered and made their own plans to deal with the coming darkness. Both the young orc warchief Thrall and the human mage Jaina Proudmoore had been driven by the words of a mysterious prophet to gather as many of their people as they could. Each made their own independent journeys across the large sea to the west, not knowing what lay across its waters. And each separately encountered the legacy of a time long since lost to history. For unknown to them, to the west lay Kalimdor, the land of eternal starlight, and on its shores, both groups would find a new future and the ultimate battle against an old enemy.

For it was on the slopes of the mountain named Hyjal that the World Tree Nordrassil grew over the successor to the Well of Eternity, the same font of power that the Legion had fought to possess 10,000 years earlier. And it was that World Tree that Archimonde and his forces would ultimately seek to destroy.

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

Know Your Lore: The Council of Tirisfal and the last Guardian

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 was the last Guardian and one of the most influential people in Azeroth -- but he never meant to be either one. Of all of the myriad and varied heroes in World of Warcraft, there is one man who is responsible for the majority of the events we see in Azeroth today. This man was solely responsible for the presence of orcs, responsible for the Horde, responsible for the ever-evolving conflict between Horde and Alliance. He was responsible for the original destruction of Stormwind, for the death of Anduin Lothar, King Llane Wrynn and many other heroes whose exploits didn't make it into the annals of history. He was responsible, indirectly, for the corruption of Arthas and the subsequent death of King Menethil, the razing of Stratholme and the rise of the Scourge. He arguably has more blood on his hands than any other being in Azeroth.

And yet he was also responsible for the first tenuous threads of peace stretched between Alliance and Horde. He was responsible for the rise of some of Azeroth's greatest heroes -- he was the man that made Varian Wrynn who he is today, he was the man who turned Thrall from an orc with dreams of peace for his people into a leader of action. He was responsible for saving Azeroth from being razed and torn asunder by the Burning Legion. He was a man of many talents, and a man of many regrets. His name is Medivh.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Current Alliance politics -- the humans, part one


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.

Over the past several weeks we've looked at the political situation of the Alliance races: night elves, gnomes, dwarves and draenei. This leaves just one race to take a look at, and while it's been around and active for the shortest amount of time in history, it's easily got the largest amount of conflict of any of the Alliance races in game. Without it, the Alliance wouldn't exist in the first place. That's right, this week we're covering the backbone of the Alliance, the human race -- and there is a lot of ground to cover.

Wrath of the Lich King contained several reveals in regard to the history of the Alliance races, but perhaps the most surprising was a neat and tidy explanation for the existence of the humans of Azeroth. While other races have either been around since the dawn of Azeroth or were constructed by the titans, the humans have a unique explanation for their presence that was briefly explained in a quest line in Howling Fjord.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The Third War part one

There's always more lore to discover here at Know Your Lore.

I had intended to go over the events of the novel Day of the Dragon this week, but I decided to save that for a more Cataclysm oriented post and instead work on this, the final of our overview of the wars that made the Warcraft setting. In a very real way, Wrath of the Lich King is basically a third chapter in the saga of the Third War that unfolded in the Reign of Chaos and Frozen Throne storylines. Furthermore, while a great many aspects of the setting debuted before it, the Third War introduced the Kaldorei, or night elves, to the setting, helped bring the Burning Legion to prominence, first showed us the Draenei, and otherwise helped set the stage for the world of Azeroth as it appeared when World of Warcraft launched.

You can trace the existence of the Forsaken, the loyalty of the Trolls and Tauren to the formerly purely Orcish Horde under Thrall, the establishing of a human colony on Theramore Isle, and even the activities of former and current luminaries such as Illidan Stormrage, Kael'thas Sunstrider, and even the Lich King himself to the events of the Third War.

It's hard to say when, exactly, the Third War actually began, since it was really a rather complicated affair. Certainly, the capture of Ner'zhul by Kil'jaeden and his transformation into the Lich King is of great importance to the Third War, but it's not the beginning of that comflict. Not even the moment when a nascent Lich King was hurled into the glaciers of Northrend can be called the start of the Third War, nor the moment when the sorcerer Kel'Thuzad answered the summons of that dread entity and made his way north to become the kernel of the Cult of the Damned. These moments are all important, for without them there would have been no Third War, but they are not the war's starting point.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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