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Know Your Lore: The trial of Garrosh 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.

War Crimes, the latest novel from Christie Golden, released earlier this week. In the book we finally see the trial of Garrosh Hellscream -- former Warchief of the Horde, apprehended during the final moments of the Siege of Orgrimmar. We aren't going to be talking too in-depth about plot points and book spoilers in this column. We'll save that for next week. But we are going to talk about Garrosh Hellscream, the Alliance, the Horde, and the trial itself -- the need for a trial at all.

Because let's face it: Garrosh Hellscream is a murderer. He slew countless victims, both Alliance and Horde. He decimated Theramore. He decided to ally with those that Warchief Thrall had blatantly turned away, and even directed the Horde to attack, during his reign. He didn't so much try and redesign the Horde as he did give it a gut job, tear it down from the inside out, and try to rebuild it even stronger. He's guilty. He's beyond guilty. There isn't really any need to prove what he's done, the evidence is permanently etched into Azeroth -- the crater left where Theramore once stood.

Why on earth would a confirmed killer need a trial?

Please note: The following column has a few minor spoilers for War Crimes. If you're mid-book, or have yet to read it, you might want to come back when you're finished with it.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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: Pandaria's mark on 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.

A little over two years ago, Mists of Pandaria was officially announced as the next expansion at BlizzCon to the puzzlement of many players. The idea of an expansion built around the pandaren race was a polarizing one -- some people loved the idea, and some were less than enthused. Although the pandaren were included in game lore as early as Warcraft III, there were those that scoffed at the idea of an expansion built around a race of giant talking bears, saying that they had no place in Warcraft at all. A year later, Mists was officially launched, and a little over a year after that, the events of Mists of Pandaria are wrapping up in a suitably dramatic conclusion.

And to the delight of many, myself included, this expansion has been anything but lighthearted and silly. Mists of Pandaria wasn't just a random expansion about giant talking bears, it was a revolution in the way that story and gameplay intertwine. While it may have had its faltering moments -- the inclusion of enough daily quests to make players dizzy among them -- the story took a life of its own, and the tale it told has definitely left its mark on future lore to come. Let's be clear, here: For a continent left cloaked in Mists for thousands of years, Pandaria has managed to work its way into the face of Warcraft lore in a manner that won't be forgotten, and has given us enough material to spur the story of the game for quite some time.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Blizzcon 2013: Iconic Characters of Warcraft

Voice Actor Stage
The Voice Actor Stage is a new addition this year at BlizzCon, and I certainly hope it becomes a staple. I sat down for the 3:00 - 4:00 panel "Iconic Characters of Warcraft" which, as the name implies, featured the voice actors for several of the most influential WoW characters in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. Our esteemed guests were:
  • Keone Young, voice of Chen Stormstout
  • James Sie, voice of Taran Zhu
  • Patrick Seitz, voice of Garrosh Hellscream
  • Aaron Phillips, voice of Wrathion
  • Josh Keaton, voice of Anduin Wrynn
  • Laura Bailey, voice of Jaina Proudmoore
In addition, the panel was hosted by Andrea Toyias, Casting and Voice Over Director at Blizzard, and two writers whose names were announced but unfortunately not written on the projector.

Andrea hosted the panel by asking each of the actors, one by one, a series of questions about the characters they voiced -- how they saw that character, how they got into the appropriate headspace to play that character, and so on. Each answer was unique and very interesting. Keone Young spoke about how his experience growing up on Hawai'i, before and during its annexation by the United States, influenced the way he perceived the struggles of the pandaren people, and also how his knowledge of the Hawai'ian patois informed his development of Chen's unique accent.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Interviews, BlizzCon

Know Your Lore: The fate of Garrosh 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.

In a recent edition of The Queue, one of our readers asked a question regarding the fate of Garrosh Hellscream in patch 5.4. It was a question that many players have actually been asking ever since Garrosh's fate was revealed. In the interests of avoiding spoilers, I won't mention that fate here, but be forewarned that this edition of Know Your Lore is chock full of spoilers for patch 5.4 that discuss the situation in full.

Garrosh Hellscream's journey began as leader-in-training for a remote, tiny village in Outland. Clouded with shame over his father's misdeeds, Garrosh was listless, depressed, and convinced that he was destined to lead his people down the same dark path that his father had. In the years following his introduction, Garrosh has discovered his father's heroic sacrifice, strove to live up to his name, eagerly sought to strengthen the Horde, and then promptly fulfilled his own sad vision of the future, leading his "True Horde" down a path of darkness that eerily echoed the familiar refrain of the Old Horde from so long ago.

Please note: There are spoilers for patch 5.4 immediately following the break. If you are avoiding spoiler content for the Siege of Orgrimmar, run away!

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: A brief summary of the Pandaria campaign

Know Your Lore A brief summary of the Pandaria campaign
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 every patch of Mists of Pandaria, including 5.4 and the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, in this post

Leaving aside blame for a moment, let's just look at the results of the past year or so in terms of what actually happened. To heavily summarize events:

Horde and Alliance forces discovered Pandaria, landing in the Jade Forest.

Both factions mobilized local allies (the Horde made pacts with the Hozen, the Alliance joined forces with the Pearlfin Jinyu) and waged a proxy battle through these cat's paws. The result was the desrtuction of the Jade Serpent's next incarnation and the release of the Sha of Doubt, leading to the Sha infestation of the Temple of the Jade Serpent.

Both factions pushed onward into Kun-Lai Summit, where they fought the yaungol and set up base camps, converting local pandaren to their cause. They did not actually join in battle at this time.

Scouts and agents of the Horde and Alliance penetrated deeper into the continent, in time exploring the Townlong Steppes and Dread Wastes. In time these advance forces even managed to convince the August Celestials to allow both the Horde and Alliance to set up bases within the sacred Vale of Eternal Blossoms.

Both the Horde and Alliance made large-scale military bases in the Krasarang Wilds and began using these to wage resource war against one another, fighting over territory and raw materials as well as ancient mogu artifacts buried below the surface of the wilds.

This period of hostilities led to a culmination wherein Warchief Garrosh Hellscream attempted to use a mogu artifact, the Divine Bell, to infuse his own soldiers with the power of the Sha. The fallout from this action caused the neutral Kirin Tor to eject the Sunreaver pro-Horde faction from Dalaran and declare themselves for the Alliance under their leader, Lady Jaina Proudmoore. Prince Anduin Wrynn nearly died in the attempt to destroy the Divine Bell, which succeeded. Garrosh Hellscream, however, was not balked from his goal of finding a new weapon.

There's more, of course. Things had only begun to heat up at this point.

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

Know Your Lore: This Was All Necessary

Know Your Lore This Was All Necessary
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.

You pandaren tried to bury your hate and your anger, but such power cannot be contained. It must be unleashed!
- Garrosh Hellscream to Taran Zhu


The more I think about it, the more I believe it. This was all going to happen, with or without the presence of the Horde or Alliance. In fact, the presence of those two warring forces may have ultimately saved Pandaria from complete destruction. When Garrosh Hellscream defeated Taran Zhu and hurled the Heart of Y'Shaarj into the waters of the vale, he mocked the Shado-Pan's leader first about the pandaren and their tendency to suppress violent emotion. It's an understandable tendency in a land where emotions like doubt, anger, fear, and hatred can give rise to the Sha, but it was a tendency mired in one crucial error - there was always one Sha who wasn't imprisoned when Emperor Shaohao freed himself of the burdens of the others. For over ten thousand years, Pandaria dwelled in isolation, believing itself special among all the places in the world, believing that it had nothing to gain and nothing to learn from the outside. And in its special exceptionalism, its beautiful but stagnant isolation, the people of Pandaria settled into an eternal and endless cycle that allowed nothing to change it.

But a thing that does not change is not alive.

It's painful to look upon the Vale of Eternal Blossoms after Garrosh's actions, to see the blasted, corrupted land where waters flowed freely, to see the destroyed and defiled beauty. Taran Zhu blamed all those who came from outside Pandaria, and he's not wrong - it is because, at long last the mists have parted and new peoples have entered Pandaria that the Vale was destroyed, just as it was because of the same outsiders and their foreign war that the Sha of Doubt erupted and the serpent pillar fell. Destruction had indeed followed in our wake.

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

Know Your Lore: Taran Zhu and the Shado-Pan

Know Your Lore Taran Zhu and the ShadoPan
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 are the Watchers on the Wall, the Sword in the Shadows. They are the Shado-Pan, Pandaria's fiercest warriors and arguably its darkest residents. Charged with restraining and controlling the sha -- vile creatures born of negative emotion -- the Shado-Pan have protected Pandaria from destruction for centuries. And although their numbers may be small in comparison to the rest of Pandaria's population, the Shado-Pan have succeeded in that mission ... until now.

Taran Zhu, leader of the Shado-Pan, holds the distinction of having what is likely the most tumultuous run as leader of the Shado-Pan -- and a great deal of the troubles he has had to deal with directly involve us. Oddly, Taran Zhu is one of the more contentious of Pandaria's new lore figures -- yet his actions are no different than one would expect, from his place in pandaren society.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Michael Stackpole, Micky Neilson talk Shadows of the Horde

Michael Stackpole, Micky Neilson talk Shadows of the Horde
Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde will be available for purchase next week, on July 2. We've already published a spoiler-free review of the novel, which features the Darkspear leader Vol'jin as he recuperates from his near-assassination in the Dagger in the Dark scenario. The novel is something a little different for Blizzard, featuring a story that not only stands apart from the gameplay of Mists of Pandaria, but features a new author as well -- Michael Stackpole, whose writing spans both fantasy and sci-fi, with notable works in both the Battletech and Star Wars universe.

Blizzard was kind enough to let us have a chat with both Mike Stackpole and Micky Neilson, Lead Story Developer at Blizzard, regarding Shadows of the Horde, its development, and the intricacies of writing that oh-so-troublesome troll accent.

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Filed under: Lore, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

Review of Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde by Michael Stackpole

Review of Vol'jin Shadows of the Horde by Michael Stackpole
I've been dying for a good troll novel. Despite their longevity in Warcraft's timeline, we really haven't seen much of anything regarding the troll race, their traditions, their customs, the loa -- none of the rich history that has been cultivated and told over the years. Needless to say, I was very excited when Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde was announced at the New York Comic Con last year -- and even more so when Michael Stackpole was revealed as the author of the book.

A prolific author, Stackpole has written a ton of books set in the Star Wars universe as well as BattleTech and a variety of original works as well. Familiar with both fantasy and sci-fi, Stackpole is an impressive author in his own right -- and his realm of expertise with both guaranteed he'd be a good fit for the Warcraft universe and its unique approach to fantasy. So how did Shadows of the Horde hold up?

This is quite possibly one of the darkest novels in the Warcraft stable. And it's brilliant.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore

The Queue: Subscriptions, corruption, and vampire

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

"I am nowhere. I am everywhere. I am the watcher, unseen."

Don't kill me if the elf in the picture above doesn't match the quote. You elf-vampires all look the same to me.

ATreck1937 asked:

Why doesn't Blizzard pick a different venue for Blizzcon? One that could accommodate a lot more people. It's more than obvious that they have the fan base to support it, given how quickly all the Blizzcon tickets sell out every time.

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Filed under: The Queue

Know Your Lore: The Shado-Pan

Know Your Lore The ShadoPan 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.

This post contains spoilers for various Mists of Pandaria quests.

Alone among all pandaren, the Shado-Pan know the true horrors that lurk beneath the gentle earth that bears the crops. The Shado-Pan stand watch against the hordes of the mantid, give battle to the yaungol, and most importantly stand against the Sha. And in so doing, they must make a terrible sacrifice. Each member of the Shado-Pan is hardened by the trials she or he must endure, but not merely in a metaphorical sense. The horrors of war against the Sha reach into their very being, so that they alone among all pandaren are carved and cut away by the Sha and their presence. Their very souls are scarred by the battles they endure against creatures of pure hatred, fear, anger, doubt, despair and violence. In essence, the Shado-Pan endure this great horror so that the rest of Pandaria might be spared it.

Make no mistake - the Shado-Pan serve the function of an army for a nation with no ruler. The people of Pandaria are defended by Shado-Pan manning the Serpent's Spine, standing fast against the mantid and the yaungol, but that is the least of their duties. Their true vigil - their endless watch is against the Sha and their minions. The Shado-Pan see the hand of the Sha in the hasty march of the mantid across the Dread Wastes and Townlong Steppes and the driving of the yaungol into Kun'Lai Summit. And it is the Sha that they dedicate themselves to stopping, for they know all too well the painful effect of the Sha upon the mortal soul.

Indeed, they were created to stand against that very corrosion of the spirit.

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

Reputation in review: The Shado-Pan

Reputation in review The Shado Pan
I gotta say, I really dig the Shado-Pan. I liked them from the first moment I saw them in the beta. I think a lot of it has to do with what kinds of characters make up the faction. While the rest of Pandaria is full of affable characters like the Tillers, who are free with food, drink, story and song, the Shado-Pan represent the other side of the pandaren race. They're the warriors, the fighters, the fierce, strong and sometimes dark side of pandaren culture.

They are not welcoming, they are not particularly friendly, and to be perfectly honest the majority of them are pretty angry that we've shown up on Pandaria. Now perhaps it says something about me, but that fact in and of itself made me want to grind out this reputation. I mean, here I am, hero of Azeroth, killed Deathwing and interrupted what was going to be the end of the world and these guys are treating me like a total scrub? Oh it's on, guys.

Not to mention the absolutely fantastic taste these guys have in hats. Have you seen the hats? I knew I needed one of those hats the moment I laid eyes on it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Dungeon Mastery: Shado-pan Monastery

Kun-Lai Summit is host to the Shado-pan Monastery. In Mists of Pandaria, you'll undoubtedly get a chance to experience and help rid the instance of Sha influence. Megan and I decided to check the place out and see what the deal is. We teamed up before when she carried me kindly tanked for me in the Stormstout Brewery. Like last time, I healed on my holy priest, Megan tanked on her druid, and we were accompanied with two hunters and an enhancement shaman. Your group needs to be at minimum level 87 in order to queue.

The video above is a little under 50 minutes long. We would've been able to move quicker if I hadn't been in combat all the time.

Yeesh. Even the Matticus needs a drink from time to time.

Gu Cloudstrike

Cloudstrike is the first boss your group will challenge. You'll run into Cloudstrike outside on a plateau just as you leave the first chamber. It's a three-phase encounter involving Cloudstrike and a flying serpent.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

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