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Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The whereabouts of Medivh

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 for me, I came back to ensure that there would be a future, to teach the world that it no longer needed Guardians. The hope for future generations has always resided in mortal hands. And now that my task is done, I will take my place amongst the legends of the past.

Medivh, former Guardian of Azeroth, had a tough life to put it mildly. Born to a mother who had him solely to insure that her powers passed on to someone of her choosing, Medivh was promptly left to be raised by his father, Stormwind's court conjurer Nielas Aran. When he reached the age of fourteen, Medivh came into the powers he'd inherited -- and promptly killed his father when those powers were unleashed, sinking into a twenty-year coma from which he eventually awakened, now in his mid-30's and a fully grown man.

Yet that wasn't all that he had to contend with. He also carried within himself the spirit of Sargeras, fallen Titan and leader of the Burning Legion. Sargeras used Medivh as if he were a puppet, orchestrating the opening of the Dark Portal and unleashing the orc Horde on Azeroth. He was ultimately stopped when his plans were uncovered and he was confronted by Garona, Anduin Lothar, and his apprentice, Khadgar -- and lost his head in the process. Oddly enough, Medivh came back years later to orchestrate the unification of orc, human and night elf troops to defeat Archimonde at Hyjal, before disappearing for good. Or what seemed like it was for good.

But have we really seen the last of Medivh?

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: Gnomes, the inheritors of the future

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 gnomes are one of two people of modern Azeroth who can lay claim to being the most intelligent, most adept with technology, most innovative of the mortal races. Unlike their goblin rivals, however, the gnomes are not materialists in the sense of always seeking a means to profit - their mindset is far more exploratory. A goblin looks at a situation and bends her mind to determine how best to exploit it, while a gnome seeks to learn how it works. And in a way, the gnome is far more dangerous, because they're never satisfied.

Consider this - the gnomes invented a weapon so destructive it rendered their own city unlivable for years. Even today, Gnomeregan isn't fully recovered. This radiation bomb (the work of Sicco Thermaplugg, the ambitious madman who once ruled Gnomeregan in its fallen state after Gelbin Mekkatorque led those gnomes he could out of the city) is proof positive of just how terrifying gnomish ingenuity can really be. Unlike the mana bomb Garrosh Hellscream used on Theramore, the radiation bomb doesn't destroy building - it kills without ruining structures. Furthermore, the mana bomb was a discovery, created by blood elves serving Kael'thas Sunstrider who had the chance to study naaru technology in Tempest Keep, but the radiation bomb was entirely a gnomish invention. From their origins as a titan created construct race, the gnomes have persevered through to the modern day as a clever, resourceful, inventive people. But Sicco Thermaplugg also shows that gnomes can be treacherous, deceitful, arrogant and even contemptuous of others.

Now, following the Siege of Orgrimmar, is there any limit to what the gnomes can achieve?

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

Know Your Lore: 5 influential moments in Warcraft lore

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 lore of Warcraft isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world to follow. It's not a straight line of cause and effect that you can simply trace from beginning to end. It's an endless chain of events intertwined with each other in a ball that is so tightly wound together, it's almost impossible to untangle and pick apart. This is a large part of the reason why it's so hard to answer a seemingly simple question, "I want to try and get into Warcraft lore, so where do I start?"

That said, there are several standout moments in lore, moments that have influenced far more than one character's development or one chain of story progression. While the following list isn't every moment, it contains some of the most influential, those events in history that have shaped the world of Warcraft and will continue to shape it for years to come.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Look back in Draenei

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 draenei have a lot of unresolved issues.

For starters, they're stranded on a strange planet called Azeroth, after having just barely escaped Outland. They lived on Outland (back when it was called Draenor) for a few hundred years, time enough to start thinking of the place as home. Then it was taken from them, and their people nearly totally exterminated. Their escape to Azeroth was an accident, crashing here because their ship was sabotaged by blood elf servants of Kael'thas Sunstrider.

So let's look over things. In the past few decades the draenei have seen formerly amicable neighbors turn bloodthirsty, demon-addicted monsters. They endured the near-total extinction of their people, hiding in swamps and bedraggled refugee settlements, seeing many of the survivors mutate and lose their connection with the Holy Light. They saw roads made out of the bones of their people. They only escaped by stealing back a dimensional ship from people they'd never really seen or heard of who still helped try and kill them. And as soon as they arrived on this new planet they found out that the Burning Legion (the very same force that is trying to exterminate them) has already been here.

This is a condensed list, of course.

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

Know Your Lore: The immeasurable sorrow of Jaina Proudmoore

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 do you do when you've lost everything -- your friends, your family, your home, even the essence of what made you ... well, you? Jaina Proudmoore has undergone this transformation in Mists of Pandaria, and come out the other side a drastically changed woman as a result. After the successful defeat of Deathwing in Cataclysm, Jaina and her coastal city were the unfortunate target of the very faction she's spent years of her life trying to unsuccessfully champion. In the end, Jaina lost everything.

But where does that leave a leader, a diplomat, an advisor, a friend? It's an arguably dark place, but it's also arguable that this was just the character development Jaina needed. As a character, Jaina hadn't really had a lot of progression in her personality since she was introduced all the way back in Warcraft III. Wrath of the Lich King saw the beginnings of what would ultimately be a push into a dark place from which no one, not even a Proudmoore, could emerge unscathed.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Warriors of Azeroth and beyond, 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.

Second verse, same as the first - we're talking warriors of lore and story in the Warcraft universe. What does it take to get on either of these lists?
  1. Don't obviously be a member of another class. I skirted the edge of this one for last week's list, but not this week - these are the warriors. No Bolvars, no Turalyons, no Rexxars or the like. If you cast spells or skulk in the shadows or are a death knight, you're not on this list. Sorry, Highlord Alexandros Mograine, but you were a paladin, and you don't count. Maiev Shadowsong definitely uses stealth, she's out.
  2. You have to be somehow more iconic than the badasses on last week's list. That means, in my opinion, you're more important in terms of lore than Muradin Bronzebeard, Baine Bloodhoof, and Broxigar the Red. That's not an easy bar to jump over.
  3. Those are my criteria. I just think lists with less than three points on them look weird.
Let's get started on the list.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Warlords lore, spoilers and you

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 about that time again. The time in which an expansion is waning towards its inevitable end, and a new one sits on the horizon. The time when that expansion isn't quite available for play, but is now the subject of copious amounts of clever datamining to pluck out all those interesting details before they've even had a chance to fully see the light of day.

For most players, it's incredibly fun to see the details as they are released, particularly since Blizzard has been so careful this time around to clarify any changes that may appear a little weird. For fans of the lore, it means one of two things -- a ton of delicious tidbits in regards to story information, or the inevitable launch of a minefield of spoilers that will have to be dodged for the next several months until the expansion is in hand. But is it really worth it to give them a look? Is it worth it to discuss them?

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

Know Your Lore: Warriors of Azeroth and beyond 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.

Okay, this week, I'm going to do something massively nerdy and more than a little ridiculous. I'm going to rank the best warriors from across the World of Warcraft, according to my own subjective criteria for what 'best' means. It's not just who would win in a fight (that's in there, but it's not all of it) and unfortunately, some races are going to get shafted here just because they don't have as much representation. I'm trying to keep the list somewhat representative, but there are some races that just dominate it - orcs and humans get big representation, while other races like draenei just don't have an established lore warrior as of the time of this writing. I'm sure there are draenei warriors (I play one, even) but we tend to see paladins from the boys in blue. It's a sad lack.

Some of these are kind of iffy because Blizzard does weird things sometimes - some of these characters have abilities you'll never see a warrior use in game - but none of them will be specifically mentioned members of another class. No demon hunters, paladins or rogues on this list. Sorry, Garona fans.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Gul'dan, the soul of evil

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.

Every villain in the Warcraft universe has a story behind why exactly they're a villain. For some, it was the corruption of the Old Gods that slowly drove them mad. For others, it was the promise of great power by agents of the Burning Legion. But it's rare that we see a villain that is simply a villain without any kind of outside influence. Garrosh Hellscream is one of the better villains in Warcraft solely because he does evil things, but doesn't believe that they are evil -- instead, he believes that they are simply the right thing to do.

But before Garrosh Hellscream was an orc who pretty much represented pure, unmitigated evil in its most concentrated form. He knew the corruption of his entire race was at stake, and he went ahead and traded it for the one thing he craved above all else -- power. Gul'dan may not have come from bloodlines that boasted glory, but he was ridiculously intelligent, cunning, and cruel. To Gul'dan, it wasn't about performing evil deeds. It was about amassing as much power and prestige as he could -- and the rest of the world could burn, for all he cared.

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

Know Your Lore: Tauren at the end of Mists

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 an awful lot of loose threads around the tauren right now. The Grimtotem are scattered, making temporary pacts with the Alliance in Stonetalon, besieging the night elves in Feralas, and their greatest leader was last seen claiming an artifact of elemental power. In the wake of Cairne's death, Baine Bloodhoof chose to allow Garrosh to rule uncontested - but that position clearly changed over time, and Baine led tauren troops to the support of Vol'jin's rebellion against the Warchief, rather than simply challenging him as his father did. Ironically, this choice shows a certain political maturity - recognizing that trial by personal combat might not be the best means to effect regime change in the Horde - while it also shows a bit of a break with the old ways of both the Horde, and the tauren people.

Baine's father Cairne chose to live, and die, by the older ways of ritual and honor. Betrayed by Magatha, he died from poison on Garrosh Hellscream's axe and with him seems to have died the last vestiges of the tauren ways of the past. Baine led an expulsion of those Grimtotem that would not swear allegiance to him over Magatha that culminated in a battle against their last leaders in Mulgore, and at the end of that battle, Baine ruled the shu'halo as undisputed chieftain of all. But in doing so, he also led his people into their last break with the past, and following the defeat of Garrosh and the ascension of Vol'jin to the seat of power as Warchief, one must ask - what role do the tauren fill in the Horde to come, and where will Baine's current choices lead them in the future?

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

Know Your Lore: Shattrath City and the Lost

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.

Standing in Outland as a sanctuary capital shared by both Alliance and Horde, Shattrath City isn't exactly much to look at. The city is divided into several different sections, housing a variety of occupants from draenei to arakkoa to everything in between -- refugees, for the most part. In Warlords of Draenor, we'll finally see Shattrath as it was in its glory days. A coastal city, a museum metropolis, described as an architectural marvel. Unfortunately, the city will also be occupied by the Iron Horde.

The events that turned Shattrath from shining capital of the draenei to the ruins we're familiar with today are steeped in tragedy that still affects the draenei race to this day. Certainly there was sorrow to be found in the fall of the city -- but its fall, and the fall of the other draenei cities scattered around Draenor, were also directly responsible for the evolution of the draenei race as we know it.

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

Taking the roleplay out of WoW

I like messing around with roleplay every now and again, especially during the waning months of an expansion. When there's little else to do, roleplay helps keep me entertained, and has the added side vantage of giving me a space where I can indulge in trying to answer lore questions that invariably make their way into lore columns. But beyond that, there's just something kind of fun about taking an hour or two off every now and again and just letting my brain be creative without the pressure of stress.

But one of the big problems with roleplay in WoW is the actual process of any kind of meaningful roleplay itself. Major, sweeping campaigns that are common with tabletop roleplaying systems just aren't possible in WoW -- trying to get everyone on an entire roleplay server to agree to a set list of rules for combat is an exercise in futility. Because of this, there's always been a limited scope to roleplay, a wall that simply couldn't be broken within the confines of an MMO. NPCs can't be controlled, players can't really influence major events in fear of somehow running into contradictions with canon lore. You can either dance around the limits, or you can ignore them entirely.

Or, as I recently discovered, you can simply leave it all behind. How do you make the limits in WoW work for your roleplay guild? By taking your roleplay out of WoW entirely.

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Filed under: RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying), Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: The Eredar

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.

On Argus, Mac'Aree was the most sacred of our cities. Would you believe me if I told you that the walkways were lined with precious minerals? That the rivers glittered even in complete darkness? I long for those days... How long has it been? A thousand years? Ten-thousand?
-- Jessera of Mac'Aree

Many peoples have had a golden age. The ancient kaldorei on Azeroth had one, over ten thousand years ago, when their mastery of the magic of the Well of Eternity made them effectively the most powerful people in Azeroth. Before that, the mogu ruled a nation carves from slave labor while the ancient trolls of Zandalar held their empire. These events are distant to us, the long past.

The eredar had already had at least two golden ages before any of this had ever happened. Over twenty five thousand years ago, on the planet Argus, a people worked wonders so profound and magnificent that they drew the attention of a power beyond anything they could have imagined. Everything they were up until that point, their ancient and magnificent works, their intelligence and magical acumen, it is all long lost now. Then, they were the eredar, one people. Now, they are two - draenei, exiles, and man'ari, what we today simply call by the name of that long vanished people. Be not mistaken, however - the eredar of today are the twisted, corrupted, magically powerful but spiritually debased remnant of that people, just as the draenei are the last remnant of what they were before their fall.

But fall they did. Who were the eredar, and who are they now?

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

Know Your Lore: General Nazgrim

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 war between Alliance and Horde has been the thematic highlight of Mists of Pandaria. Certainly Pandaria itself has held its share of mysteries, but those mysteries have been repeatedly plundered, the continent's horrors unleashed, all in the name of war. It's a war that's been a long time coming -- tensions between the Alliance and Horde have been slowly rising ever since the wintery days of Northrend, the frozen peaks of Icecrown.

And it was in the chill air of Northrend that we first met a character who would become one of the more important players of the Mists expansion. Nazgrim had an innocent enough start in the Horde storyline, simply one of many questgivers up in Northrend. But as the expansions continued to roll out, Nazgrim's role grew substantially, until, at last, he was found fighting for the wrong side, defending Garrosh Hellscream's citadel to his last inevitable breath.

But who was Nazgrim, really? Were there any merits to his choices, given that they ultimately brought about his demise? Was Nazgrim's life, his career, a vain exercise in futility?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Draenei are not pacifists

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.

Are you ready to spill some blood in the name of the Light? For Velen? For Argus?
-- Vindicator Boros, What Argus Means To Me

It's funny how misconceptions get started.

We know that the orcish Horde led by Blackhand, corrupted by the blood of Mannoroth and manipulated by Gul'dan for his master Kil'Jaeden was a force of unrelenting bloodlust and cruelty, and that they waged a genocidal war on their draenei neighbors that came close to wiping them out. Not a very numerous race in the first place, the draenei were ultimately overwhelmed by the orcs.

Many seem to combine this with the fact that Velen led the first draenei from their homeworld of Argus to prevent them from being corrupted by the offer Sargeras made to Archimonde, Kil'Jaeden and Velen to accept his gifts and become his servants to assume that the draenei are pacifists. That they're a culture that eschews war and flees from conflict. They note that the draenei have numerous times fled before the advance of the Burning Legion, moving from world to world before the dimension ship they were aboard crashed on what would become known as Draenor.

When combined with their mastery of and reverence for The Holy Light and their association with the naaru, who themselves are beings that exude said Holy Light, it's easy to see why people make this mistake. They look at Velen, who prophecizes that one day the mortal races will unite against the Legion, and see this as a desire for peace. But it isn't, exactly. Velen isn't preaching peace - he's arguing that we're fighting the wrong war.

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

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