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Know Your Lore: King Varian Wrynn, or: How I learned to love the jerk

Know Your Lore King Varian Wrynn, or how I learned to love the jerk 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.

King Varian Wrynn is a jerk. He's angry, he's rude, he's deliberately inflammatory. Despite the moments of kindness we've seen from Varian, they're just small moments. Yes, he let Saurfang retrieve the body of his son for Alliance players in Icecrown Citadel to witness. But he still holds a deep and unmitigated hatred for the Horde and everyone in it, including Thrall. He will quite happily talk about scouring the Undercity and purging it of all Forsaken, and he seems to be of the opinion that the only good orc for the most part is a dead one.

But his attitude issues aren't limited to the Horde. He is endlessly frustrated and angry with Jaina Proudmoore and her insistence on diplomatic attempts. He was brusque, rude, and outright against letting the worgen join the Alliance when they were desperate for help. His anger even extends to his son Anduin Wrynn, who has done nothing to outright offend his father other than following the path of a priest rather than a warrior. Varian has even gone so far as to hurt his son, nearly breaking Anduin's arm in an attempt to force him to stay put and keep him from leaving to study with the Prophet Velen.

And yet, there is something so inherently fascinating about Varian Wrynn that I cannot tear my eyes away.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Why Varian Wrynn is a fool (and why it may not matter)


For a while now I've been mulling over points raised by Daniel in his much-discussed article, "Why Varian Wrynn Is Right," and we've received a number of requests to address the issue from the Horde's point of view. Well...this article isn't going to do that. It started off that way, and then I realized that Varian's personal issues and the Horde's approach to the problem are really two entirely separate matters. At some point in the future, I'd like to examine the Horde's take on the newly-resurgent antagonism between the factions, because it's not something I can adequately address here without turning this into a 10,000-word tract.

Today, we're going to deal almost exclusively with Varian and his share of responsibility for the current mess. I'm a little ambivalent over Blizzard's decision to include most of the backstory and explanations for Varian's behavior in a comic series, because I think it's one of the factors that's resulted the character's being poorly received by most players. Choosing to include so much of his characterization out of the game in a product most players will never read necessarily impacts how Varian's motives are going to be evaluated. If all you've got to go on is what you see of the king from ingame events...he doesn't look so great. This isn't a defense of Varian so much as a commentary on the somewhat inconsistent approach to his character that's resulted. I haven't read each of the comics, but I'm familiar with the storyline, and this article doesn't assume that you need to have read the out-of-game books or comics in order to follow the argument.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Features, Lore, NPCs, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

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