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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

Exclusive first look at Christie Golden's new novel, War Crimes

Christie Golden, author of a substantial amount of Warcraft novels including The Shattering, Tides of War, Lord of the Clans and Rise of the Horde, recently announced a new novel to add to the list, and we have all the details. Titled War Crimes, the new novel features an all-star cast of nearly every important figure from both the Alliance and Horde, and tells an interesting, new kind of story the likes of which we haven't seen from Blizzard before.

The brutal siege of Orgrimmar is over. Garrosh Hellscream, the most infamous orc on Azeroth, now sits in chains. His tyrannical leadership of the Horde has been ended by his many enemies, and he must answer for his crimes.

Renowned leaders from across the world gather in Pandaria to witness Garrosh's trial. Visions of his past atrocities are presented in vivid detail for all to see. But as history is revisited, old grievances and bitter memories come back into the light, and those in attendance begin to wonder if anyone among them is truly innocent. Mounting tensions and rising enmity steer the court to the brink of chaos... as the world waits with bated breath for the verdict on the war crimes of Garrosh Hellscream.

If you think a novel about a courtroom trial is going to be a dull affair, think again -- War Crimes isn't just a story about a trial, nor is it just another story about Garrosh Hellscream. In fact, it's anything but another Garrosh Hellscream novel. We were thrilled to get an exclusive interview with Christie at BlizzCon 2013 about her new title, a gigantic cast that includes some unexpected faces in the spotlight, and what we can expect to see -- as well as information on the book's release.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Lore

Warlords of Draenor and the absence of Aggra

Let me tell you a little about my sister. My sister is married, in her thirties, and has four children -- all boys -- ranging from four to sixteen. Her house is a wild cacophony of boys being boys and the calls of various animals that she's acquired. It's a mini-farm, if you will, full of chickens, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, a couple of snakes, and possibly a species or two that I've missed. In addition to raising four boys with her husband, she also owns her own business. She runs her own grooming company here in town, and is both the sole employee and owner, successful enough that she's usually booked for at least a month out, if not more.

In addition to that, she runs two Renaissance festivals a year, hauls her family to regular camp-outs with the faire crew, regularly plays D&D with the gang, and knows how to shoot a longbow and a black powder rifle (and is a pretty good shot with both of them), along with cannons and trebuchets. She's a dab hand at cooking at home and over a campfire out in the wild, knows how to kill, gut and butcher just about anything, and how to tan and stretch a hide. On top of all that, I've heard she's a marvel at breaking up fights, reading bedtime stories, wiping tears from faces, kissing boo-boo's away, and snuggling in the mornings when little ones are sleepy and grumpy about getting up for school.

And god help anyone that comes between her and her family.

I'm telling you this story not to brag about my sister, although I love her very dearly, but to make a point that seems to have been sorely missed somewhere in the story of Warcraft. My sister isn't just a wife and mother. She's a warrior. She's a fighter. She's a spark of ferocity that will not be quenched. Where is her counterpart in Warcraft? That's a really good question.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, BlizzCon

BlizzCon 2013: World of Warcraft Adventure Continues Q&A

The World of Warcraft: The Adventure Continues panel during Friday's action-packed BlizzCon featured Lead Narrative Designer Dave Kosak giving a short presentation on the story behind the new expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Along with the history lesson, which was summed up by Matthew Rossi, the panel also featured a brief Q&A session that wasn't advertised in the program, but proved to be a pretty good list of questions and answers about the new expansion and what we can expect to see.

Along with some clarifications on whether or not this is a time travel expansion (it isn't), there are also a few new lore reveals regarding the next expansion, and some tasty tidbits of odds and ends that have yet to be addressed. Read on for the full list of questions -- some of the answers may surprise you.

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Filed under: Lore, BlizzCon

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Twists in time

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition Twists in time
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.

Two weeks ago, we looked briefly at the Timewalkers and the strange goings-on on the Timeless Isle. Since then, players that have been dutifully completing Kairoz's weekly quests have reached the end of the mysterious visions Kairoz has been trying to pinpoint -- with some disturbing results and implications. In fact, the whole mad journey has been a steady trickle of unanswered questions and dizzying scenarios that might or might not be true. Or perhaps they're all true, just in different versions of reality.

And that's the bronze dragonflight in a nutshell. It's a headache-inducing puzzle of events that might have been, have been, never been, and may have meant to be but hadn't, that can't quite be untangled. Led by Nozdormu, the bronze dragonflight's missive has always been to protect and observe the pathways of time. The Titans gifted Nozdormu with the knowledge of when and how he would die as a warning, a lesson -- that no matter how powerful Nozdormu might think he was, he, just like any mortal, would have to answer to time eventually. This was meant to keep the Timeless One in check, an effective plan.

But did it really work?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on how it happened. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.

Please note: This post contains spoilers for events on the Timeless Isle.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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: The History of the Warchief

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 exists because of the massive spoilers in this link, but the post itself will be spoiler free. As long as you don't click on that spoiler-heavy link, you will not see any spoilers in this post. (Edit - actually, there's one spoiler at the very end of the post - it's clearly marked as such, and it is a minor spoiler at best, but it is there. Let that guide your actions.) Instead, we're going to talk about the position of Warchief - how it came to be, how it evolved and then devolved, and how Garrosh Hellscream's reign as Warchief set the stage for what could be a completely new direction for his successor (whose identity I will not discuss).

The position of Warchief actually began as a complete figurehead, and the first orc to hold that position, Blackhand the Destroyer, was placed in that position due to his combination of physical fearsomeness and egocentric self-aggrandizement - so easily was he misled and directed by Gul'dan, head of the Shadow Council and architect of the Horde, that he never once proved himself a threat sufficient for Gul'dan to ever consider replacing him. It's not that Blackhand was either a fool or an idiot, he was in fact a canny tactician and a respected warrior. He simply believed his own hype - so convinced was he in his own superiority that when Gul'dan presented to him that he would be a respected equal and his position as Warchief would be one of real power, he believed it, because he believed in himself. Throughout the war with the draenei and later, the invasion of Azeroth, Blackhand ruled as Warchief and allowed himself to listen to Gul'dan's words - allowed himself to listen because they were telling him what he wanted to hear.

Even as the humans balked the orcs, and Blackhand's series of victories became defeats, he continued to listen to Gul'dan. This would be his downfall.

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

Dear Jaina Proudmoore

Dear Jaina
Dear Jaina,

I'm not in the habit of writing letters to fictional characters, but in the face of what we've all seen yesterday, it seemed like as good a time as any to start. Look, I realize this is going to be hard to accept, but your fate isn't exactly in your hands. What you want, and what you'll get, are two entirely different things -- and it might not be fair. It might not be particularly right. It certainly isn't going to feel very good, but the influence you hold only goes so far. And in this case, you can't exactly order around a king.

But let's look beyond that for a second, all right? Because honestly, you seem to be more than a little irritated, justified or not. And I remember who you used to be, a long time ago. I remember a lady who was a bastion of rational thinking, one who looked before she leapt, made sound judgments, and realized that in this big, wide, crazy world of Azeroth, things aren't always black and white, good and evil. Sometimes, most of the time in fact, they lay somewhere in between.

So I'm wondering, Lady Proudmoore -- who are you?

This post contains huge spoilers for patch 5.4, including the end cinematic for the Siege of Orgrimmar. Reader beware!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

Know Your Lore: Garrosh Hellscream and the nature of villany

Know Your Lore Garrosh Hellscream and the nature of villany
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.

Garrosh Hellscream has been a controversial figure ever since he took the reins of Warchief in Cataclysm, but never quite as contentious as he is now. Presented as the final boss of this expansion, Garrosh's actions have spun wildly out of control, his thirst for and abuse of power quickly turning him from a potentially good Warchief to a monster whose iron grip over the Horde has only served to splinter and fracture the individual races that compose it, rather than bringing them together.

Although ... technically, Garrosh has brought the Horde together. The disparate races are working together with a sort of fierce, single-minded unity that we haven't exactly seen before. Rather than each race working individually on their own tasks, with their own motives for doing so, they have banded together with one purpose in mind, a goal that they all share: Getting Garrosh out. In a way, Garrosh has been just as good for the Horde as he has bad. But does Garrosh Hellscream work as an end game villain? Yes and no.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The future of the Alliance

Know Your Lore The future of the Alliance
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 Siege of Orgrimmar is almost upon us, and the Alliance stands strong, ready to dive in and put an end to Warchief Hellscream's reign. Along the way, they've picked up some entirely unconventional allies in Vol'jin's group of rebels, who are also insistent upon getting Garrosh out. But when the dust settles and all is said and done, if and when the Alliance prove their military superiority, take out Hellscream, and are declared the ultimate victor of what has been a very messy, bloody war, what happens next?

Does the Alliance simply go home and wait for the world to rise up with yet another threat? Do they at last attempt some kind of tentative peace treaty with Vol'jin and his group of rebels? Will Varian Wrynn take a moment of clear victory and use it to crush what remains of the Horde? Will the Alliance leave a military presence in Orgrimmar, to carefully watch and make certain events like this don't come to pass again?

What does the future for the Alliance hold, once Orgrimmar has been taken down?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

WoW Archivist: When Blizzard "hated" the Horde

A night elf visits the Barrens
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Which faction does Blizzard love more?

For several years it's been all the rage to claim that Blizzard loves the Horde and hates the Alliance. Players trot out the "green Jesus" theory. They show how the past two expansions have focused far more on Horde characters and storylines than on Alliance intrigues.

It's true that Blizzard placed Thrall and now Garrosh and Vol'jin in the spotlight over the past few years. Players also look at the shiny new Orgrimmar that the Horde got when the old one burned down, and how Stormwind also took a beating and still hasn't recovered.

You can make the case that Blizzard has somewhat favored the Horde in WoW's recent history. But this is so very, very strange to vanilla players like me. Back then, players were convinced of the exact opposite. Players were so convinced, in fact, that some actually wanted a CM to die. In vanilla, Blizzard "loved" the Alliance and "hated" the Horde.

Don't believe me?

This quote is from a 2005 editorial called "Why the Horde is worse, and how Blizzard could fix it":

In the end, I am just a jealous Horde player... It is up to Blizzard to fix this game; I have done all that I can. Either World of Warcraft can be remembered as a great MMORPG, or it can go down as a horribly imbalanced one, like many before it. That's for Blizzard to decide.

Let's take a trip back to 2005. On a bus, perhaps. A bus made out of elemental electrical energy.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Patch 5.4 PTR: Thrall vs. Garrosh

Patch 54 PTR Thrall vs Garrosh
Orgrimmar is about to get wrecked, the Horde is in a state of political upheaval, the Alliance is on the brink of storming Stormwind's gates and Garrosh seems to be unstoppable, which leaves many players with one question: Just where the heck is Thrall in all of this, anyway? After all, the former Warchief is in at least some small part responsible for the current state of affairs, given his insistence on plopping Garrosh in place as the new Warchief of the Horde. And really, that fact cannot be argued with -- if Thrall had not appointed Garrosh as the new Warchief, none of the current events going on in Mists would have happened.

Thrall made a very brief appearance in the events in patch 5.3, showing up to help his old friend Vol'jin before heading off to Orgrimmar, presumably to confront Garrosh once and for all. Over on Youtube, Adriacraft has dug up the confrontation between old Warchief and new, with some unsurprisingly heated words thrown between the two of them. The video is after the break -- but be warned, if you've been wanting to avoid patch 5.4 spoilers, clicking through would be a bad idea.

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Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

World of Warcraft children's book announced at SDCC

New World of Warcraft children's book announced at SDCC
Polygon is reporting an interesting bit of news from the San Diego Comic Con publishing panel -- apparently Blizzard has decided to try its hand at children's books. The first book, Snowfight, was written by Chris Metzen himself, and the book also includes some incredibly charming illustrations by Blizzard artist Wei Wang. From the image above, it looks like a story involving both Thrall and Varian Wrynn -- an unlikely tale, but hey, children's literature should be lighthearted and fun, right?

This is, of course, a huge step for the publishing team -- most Warcraft novels and manga have been placed firmly in the young adult to adult category, with nothing for the little kids. But considering how many Warcraft fans are now moms and dads themselves, this is actually a really sweet way to introduce your little ones to the games you love. And it might just be interesting enough to keep their fingers off your action figures, too! Look for pre-sales for Snowfight later this year -- the book should be making its debut at BlizzCon. For more information, check out the full article on Polygon.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Après Hellscream, le déluge: A Lore Projection

Spoilers for Patch 5.4 lurk within this post, like a hideous phalanx of grue.

I can't shake this feeling of dread lately. Thinking about the Siege of Orgrimmar, about Garrosh Hellscream, about the Horde and what's to become of it, and of the Alliance. Thanks to the most recent sound files, we know a few things, but what we don't learn from those files is as interesting as what we do learn. And yet, I can't shake this feeling of dread.

What am I dreading? The villain will be defeated, right? The heroes will be triumphant, the rebels and the Alliance will storm Orgrimmar and the 'True Horde' will be toppled from the fortresses it has made of a formerly vibrant, brawling town. All will be right with the world, yes?

Maybe yes, but maybe no. I keep looking at Garrosh Hellscream -- the orc who successfully led a disorganized Horde rabble to Northrend and welded an army out of it -- and thinking about what comes after the siege. What happens when the son of Grom is defeated? What happens to the Horde? What happens to the Alliance? What happens to Azeroth? What happens to us?

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

Know Your Lore: The point of Pandaria

Know Your Lore The point of Pandaria
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 just possible that the curious race we're going to meet in this mystic land, may just teach us a thing or two about who we are, and why we fight." -- Chris Metzen, BlizzCon 2011
When Mists of Pandaria was introduced, there were plenty of people that were skeptical about the expansion -- many questioned the introduction of the pandaren as a playable race, questioning whether or not an expansion featuring fuzzy talking pandas could ever be taken seriously. Yet although the pandaren can be quite friendly and agreeable, the overall theme of Mists has been remarkably dark. I'd almost consider it darker than any prior, if only for one reason: the message in this expansion hits far closer to home than any other.

While Burning Crusade, Wrath, and Cataclysm all highlighted major enemies that sought to end the world, each through their own means, Mists took a step back from the grand bellowing villains and their evil schemes. And instead, it chose to shift the focus to us -- Alliance and Horde, players and NPCs alike. Yet on the brink of patch 5.4, presumably the last raid of this expansion, what lessons can we take away from Pandaria? What has it taught us, that couldn't be taught by fighting another world-threatening NPC? What was the point of Pandaria?

Please note that today's Know Your Lore contains some spoilers for patch 5.4 content. If you're avoiding spoilers, turning away now would be advised!

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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