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Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Timelines, timeways, and Karazhan

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 is time, in Warcraft? Is it a straightforward line, or a tapestry of events that can be changed or altered with a simple pluck of a thread? While the bronze dragonflight may be masters of the various pathways of time, we mortal players are most definitely not. We've been sent through the pathways of the Caverns of Time on more than one occasion, but always at the behest of the bronze flight, to complete the tasks they have set and keep the timelines pristine.

But this mysterious maze of time wasn't left unexplored prior to our travels through Tanaris. Obviously the bronze dragonflight has been up to a great deal over the thousands of years that it has existed -- Nozdormu's long absence predated even our first journeys through the Caverns of Time. And for one player in the next expansion, time had absolutely nothing to do with the dragonflights, and much more to do with the mysterious home of his enigmatic master, Medivh. So how does it all weave together?

More importantly, when is time travel not really time travel at all, as the developers seemed to be so insistent on saying at BlizzCon?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition. The following contains a small amount of speculation on datamined 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: The dark mysteries of the Darkmoon Faire

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.

Doubtless you've been there by now. You've seen the brightly colored banners, heard the cheerful greeting of the Darkmoon Faire Mystic Mages in all major cities, offering to teleport you to the portal that takes you to the new and improved Darkmoon Faire. You've wandered the dusty paths, drunk in the sights, played the games and watched the shows, and maybe even participated in a death match or two for fun. For a once-a-month event, the Darkmoon Faire certainly wasn't anything special to look at until now.

In their new home, the residents of the Darkmoon Faire have a permanent residence to open to the public once a month like clockwork. Presiding over it all is Silas Darkmoon, who runs the Faire and takes in those who wish to join, with one major rule -- no violence on the Fairgrounds. Travelers both Horde and Alliance alike are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the fun and games by the pleasant vendors as long as they keep any fights to the arena, and nobody is excluded.

The people of the Darkmoon Faire are certainly the most cheerful, amiable group of ruthless murderers you'll ever meet.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Cryptozoic's Digital Manga releases for July

A couple of months ago, it was announced that Cryptozoic Entertainment, publisher of the WoW Trading Card Game, would be publishing the Warcraft and Starcraft manga exclusively through its comics reader app. The initial release included Warcraft Legends Vol. 1 and 2, World of Warcraft: Death Knight, and The Sunwell Trilogy Vol. 1: Dragon Hunt. It was also announced that other manga titles would be released over time via the app. Apparently, the time for more manga is now, as two new Warcraft titles have just been released to the comics app.

Warcraft Legends Vol. III is a collection of short tales, including the continuing story of Trag Highmountain, first seen in the Sunwell trilogy. Also included is the story I Got What Yule Need, written by New York Times bestselling author Christie Golden, and The Thrill of the Hunt, a story involving Hemet Nesingwary, one of the better known NPCs in game. The Legends series is one of the better ones out there, and at $5.99 for 160 pages worth of manga, it's a good deal.

Also released this month is the second book in the class series, World of Warcraft: Mage. This stand-alone story tells the tale of Aodhan, an apprentice mage whose dreams of making it big as a spellcaster are suddenly and violently interrupted. This volume delves into the story of Aodhan, but it also sheds a little light on the conflict between the Blue Dragonflight and the Kirin Tor highlighted back in Wrath of the Lich King. Like the other manga available on the app, Warcraft: Mage is also a steal at $5.99.

All titles are available for purchase through the Cryptozoic Comics App, and the app itself is free for download via iTunes. If you missed any of the manga releases, this is an excellent way to pick them up.

Filed under: Blizzard, Lore, Comics

Cryptozoic interviews Micky Neilson, James Waugh

Cryptozoic Entertainment recently began digital distribution of Blizzard's manga titles, as announced last month. This month, the company interviewed two of the big names behind the manga and its development. Micky Neilson, publishing team lead for Blizzard, and James Waugh, senior story developer for Blizzard, should be familiar to those that have read the manga, comics, and various Warcraft stories available. Most recently, they teamed up to write the five-issue comic series Curse of the Worgen, a look into the background and origins of the worgen in Warcraft.

The Q&A itself delves into the behind-the-scenes of manga development; how stories are created and who develops those stories, the purpose of the manga series and how it incorporates into the overall canon lore of World of Warcraft. And for those wondering, the question of whether or not the manga series is official canon is addressed as well.

The only minor disappointment with the interview is that the future of the Blizzard manga titles isn't really addressed. Whether or not any brand new titles will be published in the future wasn't touched upon, leaving the fate of the manga as a solid question mark. Regardless, the sheer enthusiasm of Neilson and Waugh during the interview is a nice reminder that those behind the story really do cherish the properties they're working with. Check out the full interview on Cryptozoic's website.

Filed under: News items, Lore, Interviews

Cryptozoic Entertainment now carrying all Blizzard manga

Cryptozoic Entertainment, publisher of the WoW Trading Card Game, is taking a step into the world of digital comics -- publishing and snapping up the Warcraft and Starcraft manga series along the way -- by offering the manga exclusively for its comics reader app, available for the iPad, iPhone and iPhone touch. But that's not all! To celebrate the exclusive release of the manga on the Cryptozoic Comics reader, for a limited time, you can download Warcraft: Legends Vol. 1 through Cryptozoic's website.

Legends Vol. 1 is the start of the popular anthology series. Each issue features short stories that highlight uncommon moments in lore and the adventures of everyday characters like the ones we play. Along with Legends Vol. 1, Cryptozoic is carrying World of Warcraft: Death Knight, Warcraft: Legends Vol. 2, and Dragon Hunt, the first book in the Sunwell trilogy. If you're looking for background into Thassarian and Koltira Deathweaver, Warcraft: Death Knight is absolutely worth picking up, and if you're looking for more information about Kalecgos, Anveena and the Sunwell, the Sunwell trilogy is definitely for you.

Though selection is limited to a few titles at this time, Cryptozoic will be carrying all Blizzard manga titles in the future, so keep an eye on its website and the app for future releases. The Cryptozoic comics app is available at no charge through the Apple store, and manga titles are priced at $5.99 per 150-page book. Check after the break for the full press release, and go pick up your free manga while you can -- the offer ends June 2!

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Filed under: News items, Lore

Are Blizzard and Tokyopop going their separate ways?

The folks over at Lorehound are reporting that Blizzard and Tokyopop are, after six years, ending their licensing agreement. This would be the agreement that has given us a great deal of lore development over the years with licensed products such as Dragons of Outland, the various class manga such as Shaman, and the Warcraft Legends series.

With no official announcement from either Blizzard or Tokyopop as of this writing, the Lorehound piece and its sources indicate that Blizzard may have pulled out of the deal due to a lack of ability to properly oversee the projects. Meanwhile, Lorehound is also reporting that the recent difficulties of the Borders bookstore chain may have caused problems for Tokyopop, with several people including Troy Lewter being downsized from the company. Troy Lewter, who was the editor of the Warcraft Legends series, was definitely important in the production of the various Blizzard licensed manga.

What this means for the average lore junkie is still up in the air, but I know if it's true, I'll definitely miss the Legends series.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Lore

New Warcraft manga previews available

Warcraft: Shadow Wing, Vol. 1: Dragons of Outland, the new Warcraft manga written by Richard A. Knaak and illustrated by Jae-Hwan Kim, now has a preview available online at BlizzPlanet.com. Shadow Wing follows the continuing story of Jorad Mace and the blue dragon Tyrygosa, who parted ways with Kalecgos and Anveena at the end of the Sunwell Trilogy. Jorad and Tyri meet up in Outland -- and hopefully the manga explains what the two have been doing out on Celestial Ridge all this time, and how Tyri's research eventually ties in to Malygos' efforts up in Northrend.

In addition, there is also a preview available for Warcraft: Mage, the second in the series of class-based books that began with Warcraft: Death Knight. Unlike Death Knight, which detailed the untold story of Thassarian, Warcraft: Mage seems to be taking a different route and telling the story of a character as yet unseen in World of Warcraft. Aodhan is a young man who comes from a lineage of paladins and warriors, but finds himself drawn to an entirely different path. While training to become a mage in Dalaran, Aodhan and the rest of the city abruptly find themselves under siege by Malygos and the Blue Dragonflight. Warcraft: Mage is also written by Richard A. Knaak and illustrated by Ryo Kawakami, who has also done work for the Warcraft: Legends series.

While the manga novels still aren't available for pre-order, it looks like both novels will be released on June 1, 2010, from TOKYOPOP, and will be available at bookstores across the country.

Filed under: News items, Comics

Excerpt of the Stormrage Novel available online

I already mentioned that there's an excerpt from the upcoming Stormrage novel in the back of TokyoPop's Warcraft Legends Volume 5 manga, but if you're anxious to get yet another glimpse before February 2010, you're in luck. Pocket Books has posted a new excerpt over at their site, and all you need to grab is an email address.

The excerpt doesn't reveal any new lore per se, but it does tease pretty damn well, and should bring up some pretty nostalgic memories for a lot of Alliance players. Combine this with the excerpt from the manga, and you'll get a pretty good idea of where the story's going, I think -- Right into the Heart of the Emerald Nightmare, as we confirmed with authour Richard Knaak at BlizzCon a week ago.

As to whether it will cover the Cataclysm, or not, that's a bit up in the air. However, considering we know that Malfurion will be back in the waking world fighting Ragnaros at Hyjal, chances would seem to be good.

You can check out the excerpt at Simon and Schuster's website.

Filed under: News items, Lore

BlizzCon 2009: Wow.com interviews Richard Knaak

On the second day of BlizzCon 2009, I got the chance to sit down with Richard Knaak, best selling author of countless novels, including many in the Warcraft universe, such as the War of the Ancients Trilogy, Day of the Dragon, and Night of Dragon. His upcoming projects include the Stormrage novel, as well as the Dragons of Outland manga trilogy. We talked about all this and more, and you can read our conversation below.

So of course, the big thing on everyone's mind is the new Stormrage book. How's it coming along? Is it near completion?


It's near completion, we're in the editing process, getting the OKs from Blizzard. You can find an excerpt in the latest volume of the Legends Manga, along with a story I wrote, sort of a Prologue that ties in with the book.

Can you give us a sneak preview of what to expect lore-wise?

You know Blizzard likes to keep these secret, so I am going to be very limited in what I can talk about. It is Malfurion. It is about the Nightmare. And it is very current. That's the three biggest things I can say about it right off the bat. You'll see characters you know from the game and obviously from other books, and places you know from the game, and it's very current, very relevant. Of course, that's about all I can say. You know Blizzard, they love their secrets!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, WoW Social Conventions, News items, Lore, RP, NPCs, Interviews, BlizzCon

BlizzCon 2009: Tokyopop creates stories about the little guys

While wandering about the floor at BlizzCon, I stopped over at the TokyoPop Manga booth and spoke a bit with editor Troy Lewter, who we've talked to before.. Currently, the big series they write for the world of Azeroth is the Warcraft Legends series, which is on its 4th volume with a 5th due out next month.

Talking with Troy and other members of the Tokyopop team at the booth, what I was most struck with was the passion for the work and the universes of Blizzard's games that they display, and, perhaps more importantly, to the art and stories they tell.

Troy laid out three important concepts that they follow in creating the mangas: Telling a solid story, focusing on a few characters, and cross-pollinating with other forms of media.

In telling a solid story, the aim is to create the story such that you don't need to rely on the Warcraft world and characters, per se. In short, even if the story wasn't about Thrall or Varian or the Scarlet Crusade or anything else, you could still connect with the characters themselves.

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Filed under: Lore, RP, Interviews, Comics

Dan Jolley talks about TOKYOPOP's Death Knight manga

Things have been a little bit quiet on the manga front, but not for long. Warcraft Legends editor Troy Lewter has pinned down Dan Jolley, writer for the forthcoming Thassarian-centric volume Warcraft: Death Knight, and posted the interview with him on the official TOKYOPOP site.

To be fair, the interview is not as focused on the manga as the one we did with Jolley a couple of months ago but it does look at how writing for the anthology volumes of the series compare with a longer story. Lewter also quizzes Jolley about how he got into the business and the last question about sharks and bears is also worth the read alone.

For those waiting on the release of Warcraft: Death Knight, it might give some new insight into how manga happens. Don't forget, you can also check out our interviews with both Dan Jolley and Troy Lewter.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Interviews, Death Knight, Comics

Patch 3.2: Enter Trag Highmountain


When I'm not playing WoW, I'm usually found indulging in manga and have been devouring the Warcraft series ever since the Sunwell Trilogy came out. Of all the characters introduced through comics and manga, the most tragic next to Anveena has to be Trag Highmountain. I've watched over the last year as more characters from the print franchises began to appear in-game, and there's something about seeing them translated into the game which gives me an amazing thrill.

We've met Anveena and her soul mate Kalec, Tyri and Jorad as well as Broll and that Blood Elf chick whose always hanging around Varian, so I've often wondered when Trag would turn up. It's inevitable given how his quest to Icecrown is in keeping with Wrath of the Lich King. Imagine my surprise when I logged on to the PTR for the first time this morning to find one Tauren Death Knight standing guard over one of the incapacitated forms of one of the Coliseum bosses.

Yes, it's our old friend Trag, now a level 80 NPC. While seeming hostile, he makes no move to attack the Alliance or speak, he just seems to stand near Gormok the Impaler. I'm sure he'll get some lines by the time Patch 3.2 goes live though. Having not yet read Warcraft: Legends' final volume, I'm curious to find out what happened to him but it's nice to know he's finally free of the Lich King's thrall.

Filed under: Patches, Odds and ends, News items, Lore, NPCs, Comics

Breakfast Topic: What would you like to see in a WoW comic?


I've been getting back into comics lately, thanks largely to the World of Warcraft. My most recent purchases were the trade paperbacks of Wildstorm's World of Warcraft series and Ashbringer, as well as Tokyopop's Warcraft Legends manga. Since I couldn't get my fix of Hong Kong manhua without actually going to Hong Kong (which makes it kind of hard to keep up with weekly titles like Amazing Weapons 4...), it was a bit easier to head over to our local shops and get some Western comics. What better subject than my favorite game, right?

While I enjoyed Ashbringer, I take a great liking to Warcraft Legends because it explores the other aspects or characters of Azeroth. The ongoing series can focus on well-known guys like Varian Wrynn, but Warcraft Legends are cool side-stories of the unknown guys. That opens up a world of potential. We could see stories about those NPCs we always see all over the place. Maybe we can get a comic about Cro Threadstrong and find out why he hates the fruit vendor so much. How about stories about the wandering "named" NPCs in Dalaran? Minigob Manabonk, maybe?

On the flip side, how about when the characters in the comic stories suddenly make their way into the game? We know Broll Bearmantle and Valeera Sanguinar have their roots in toys and comics, and players can now meet them in WoW. This whole idea of comics as an extension of the game's story is really cool, and I hope Wildstorm and Tokyopop keep putting out great comics and characters. Is there anything in particular about the World of Warcraft that you'd like to see in comic form? A favorite character? A particular period or special event? Share your thoughts!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Lore, Comics

Warcraft Legends are a fun ride for all


Although Free Comic Book Day is supposed to be on the first Saturday of May each year, our local book store chain Fully Booked held it last May 23 with a 20% discount off graphic novels and select manga. I thought it was a good opportunity to pick up Tokyopop's Warcraft Legends series, a manga-style take on the Warcraft universe. I'd had my eye on these books for a while, so last weekend was a good opportunity to get them.

Each book contains three self-contained stories and one ongoing tale featuring the Tauren Trag Highmountain from the Sunwell Trilogy manga written by Richard Knaak and drawn by Kim Jae-Hwan. Trag's story in Warcraft Legends picks up where the Sunwell Trilogy left off, and although the story is rather interesting, the best thing about the manga are the short stories which breathe a little more life into the Warcraft world. These stories are what make the books truly shine. My take on the first three books in the series after the jump.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Comics

Fourth volume of Warcraft: Legends manga revealed

Medievaldragon over at WorldofWar.net has a nice exclusive for fans of the on-going Warcraft: Legends manga. Volume four is out on June 9th and he's posted the cover art and ten pages for you to drool over.

Even better this volume promises contributions from Dan Jolley (who I recently interviewed), Arthas-authoress Christie Golden and, of course, Richard Knaak himself.

I'm a huge fan of the manga and read it avidly so I'm especially keen to find out what happens to poor old Trag. Indeed, that's possibly the best part of this preview as it shows ten pages from the Trag-centric, Knaak authored story 'Fate'. I think this just made my day. However for those needing a Bloodsail Buccanneers fix, Medievaldragon also posted some concept sketches for you to enjoy!

Oh and if you've not caught it already, don't forget to check out our interview with series editor Troy Lewter.

Filed under: Odds and ends, News items, Comics

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