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Know Your Lore: The Molten Core

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 the deepest parts of Blackrock Mountain, the Dark Iron toil relentlessly, slaving away at the whim of an ancient, terrifying master of flame. The Molten Core, as it is called by the denizens of Azeroth, is not this creature's home. Instead, it is the home of a dark ritual gone terribly wrong, a ritual that not only backfired, but subsequently resulted in the enslavement of an entire dwarven clan.

The 10th anniversary of World of Warcraft has some extra special goodies this year, including an updated, 40man LFR version of the Molten Core. Although many players lurked in its depths in the original iteration of the raid, the story of the area and how it came to be was scattered all over Azeroth -- because the tale begins long before there were dwarves, clans, or anyone to call Blackrock Mountain by name.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Nobundo

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.

One of the fantastic things about Warlords of Draenor is getting to see the way history provides context for a life. By seeing how people have changed, and how they could have been we get a sense of how they are, as we know them - and for me one of the most fantastic changes to contemplate and understand is that of Vindicator Nobundo, a stalwart draenei paladin, who in a different life became Farseer Nobundo, first draenei shaman. Nobundo's story is one of overcoming horrific loss, enduring not just the destruction of his way of life but a corrosion of the body that threatened his very soul, and his ability to overcome and become someone who could inspire his people to a new path displays his strength of spirit.

The Vindicator Nobundo we meet on Draenor - the one who helps fight the Burning Legion forces in Talador, who comes to Nagrand to help calm the elements - has not endured the same trials as Farseer Nobundo. He has not come out the other side of seeing his people nearly destroyed, his body warped by fel energies, his connection to the Holy Light severed. And yet, he is Nobundo - he embodies everything the Farseer was, everything he lost to become who he is today.

So who is Farseer Nobundo? And who is Vindicator Nobundo?

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

Know Your Lore: The Pale

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.

When the draenei first came to Azeroth, they landed in spectacular fashion, tearing up an island off the coast of Kalimdor. New draenei players are taken on a journey through the wreckage and the mess, picking up the pieces and dealing with the unique effects the crash had on both flora and fauna. Several years later, and it seems the draenei are still doing clean-up work -- although that may be more due to Azuremyst being perpetually stuck in the past for mechanics purposes, rather than story content.

Why bring this up? Because it's not the first time the draenei have shattered a world. On Draenor, the new inhabitants of the planet landed in similar fashion, tearing up a great chunk of Draenor's landscape in Nagrand. Both times, the incidents were due to faulty ships -- and both times, the surrounding region was affected. But while Azeroth's torn landscape and blood-tinged skies were obvious demarcations of narrowly-avoided disaster, the landing of the Genedar was viewed as something different entirely to the natives of the world. To the orcs, it was unknown -- and then thought, perhaps, to be a gift from the ancestors.

They couldn't be further from the truth.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor. If you are avoiding spoilers while you are leveling, come back when you've finished Nagrand.

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

Know Your Lore: Five characters to watch for in Warlords of Draenor

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.

Warlords of Draenor launches in a little over a week, with a ton of new story and a cast of characters both new and old -- very, very old. Since the expansion's reveal at last year's BlizzCon, we've been covering the major players of the next expansion -- their history in our universe, as well as their history in this alternate version of Draenor we'll find ourselves wandering upon. Each orc clan on Draenor has its own unique history and is led by a distinctive leader, a major name that in most cases, we've been familiar with for years.

But those big names and major characters aren't the only people we'll be seeing on Draenor, and by all means they aren't the only characters we should be paying attention to. For every Grommash, Gul'dan, Blackhand, Velen, Khadgar -- the list goes on -- there are other players, not quite as loudly promoted, who have their own place in this Draenor's history. Characters you should be watching out for -- because they've got some pretty interesting story hooks of their own.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor. If you are avoiding all expansion spoilers, avoiding the article would be advised.

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

Know Your Lore: Mannoroth

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.

We talk about the great evils of the Warcraft universe - your Kil'jaeden's and Archimonde's, your Sargeras and your Old Gods - and of course there's the mortal monsters like Gul'dan, quite possibly the single most evil mortal being ever to live, or Kel'Thuzad who enslaved himself to evil so profound that his transformation into a lich was probably a palliative influence on his malevolence. But what of evil as a corrupting vector? What of an evil so profound that it is part of your blood, that can seep into the souls of an entire race? Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you - what of Mannoroth, king of the Pit Lords, master of the Annihilan?

We know little of the Annihilan. They are the pit lords, a massive and powerful species of demons recruited to serve the Legion by none other than Kil'jaeden himself. They were already a powerful part of the Legion when the War of the Ancients unfolded - Mannoroth himself was one of the Legion's elite who came through the portal to help make clear the way for Sargeras to stride forth into Azeroth, doing battle with the forces of the Kaldorei who were attempting to preserve their lives. But as to where the pit lords come from, it is as yet a mystery unsolved. What world did they originate on? What happened to it? We do not know.

What we do know is this - few races in all the cosmos can boast so powerful and corrupting an evil nature as the Annihilan. And Mannoroth was for eons first among the pit lords - the acknowledged master of his kind, the most powerful of them all. Not Brutallus, not Magtheridon, not Azgalor, but Mannoroth ruled the Annihilan on behalf of the Legion.

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

Know Your Lore: The lost tales 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.

Mists of Pandaria was packed with a lot of story, each of its 'acts' dovetailing into the next. It wasn't quite as expansive as the myriad plot points that were introduced with Cataclysm, but Cataclysm also included a revamp of almost every level 1-60 zone in the game, with both quests and the stories of the zones themselves getting a shot of new story content. When Cataclysm was winding down to its inevitable end, I reviewed several of the plot points left in the expansion -- story hooks that we might or might not see addressed later. There are still many out there left untouched.

It only seemed appropriate, in the waning weeks of Mists, to do the same. Although Mists didn't have quite the variety as Cataclysm, there were still moments of potential story that were left unanswered -- tales without an ending, problems or puzzles we still don't have an answer to. And as we move forward into Warlords of Draenor, we can only wonder if, or when, we'll see these elements pop up again.

Please note: The following post contains some spoilers for the novel War Crimes.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Light of the naaru

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.

First featured in the Burning Crusade expansion, the enigmatic naaru have been a constant, benevolent life-force in World of Warcraft -- strange creatures with some sort of eternal crusade against the darkness of the Legion. It was the naaru that saved Prophet Velen and his people when they were on the cusp of being claimed by the dark promises of Sargeras, the naaru that helped them flee, the naaru that taught them the Light. And it was the naaru who seemed to be playing a much, much longer game than anyone else, when Burning Crusade reached its end and the full scope of M'uru's plan was revealed.

Burning Crusade marked the second known occasion that the naaru willingly stepped into the lives of mortal races to pull them away from darkness and reach salvation -- although it's entirely possible they have done this before with other races, on other worlds we've never seen. This has always been presented as the noblest of causes. Yet despite all these altruistic actions, we really know very little about the naaru, where they came from, or ultimately why it is that they feel they must fulfill this task. Yet while Warlords of Draenor largely concerns the orcs and the Iron Horde, there are still a few clues -- just enough to expand that perception of the naaru a little more and raise a few more questions in the process.

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.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor.

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

Know Your Lore: Garrisons and the story of Warlords

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.

We are about to kick off the beginning of Warlords of Draenor's story when patch 6.0 releases in a couple of days here. It's an explosive beginning, and there's plenty of story to be had, but we won't see things really pick up and get going until the expansion releases in November. Everyone has their own way of leveling through an expansion, whether it's a race to the finish, or a more leisurely stroll through content, taking one's time and experiencing all the story the expansion has to offer -- and Warlords has a lot of story to tell in its opening chapters.

However, there seems to be some apprehension about garrisons and how they're going to work with the game, how they are set up, whether or not they require a massive time sink, whether they can be ignored entirely, or if the story hinges on completing garrison content, and whether or not garrisons are actually going to pull people out of the story and expansion experience. Today, we're going to step back from the usual lore presentation and instead look at garrisons, how they work with the story being told, and why this feature is actually one of the better storytelling devices Blizzard has put together.

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

Characters of Warcraft updates with Blackhand

Yesterday's comic reveal also brought about a new addition to the Characters of Warcraft section of the official website. Blackhand, Warlord of the Blackrock clan has gotten his own entry on the mini-encyclopedia, along with a full size wallpaper with art by Alex Horley. In our version of history, Blackhand's story is fairly different than what we'll be seeing on Draenor. He was appointed the first Warchief of the Old Horde, and later killed and replaced by his second-in-command, Orgrim Doomhammer. Powerful, yes, but also very much the pawn of Gul'dan.

On Draenor, Blackhand is not the leader of the Iron Horde -- but he was the first to join with Grommash Hellscream, and immediately set to work creating armor and powerful weaponry for the Iron Horde's armies. He might not be the appointed leader we remember, but he's certainly a force to be reckoned with in his own right. You can take a look at the full entry for more information on Blackhand, and while you're there, pick up the wallpaper and download the new comic as well.


Filed under: News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Velen and the Light of the naaru

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 must it be like, to be a Prophet? Well for starters, something like the events of Warlords of Draenor is likely far less confusing to comprehend. When you're used to staring at the myriad, intertwining paths of fate, a hiccup here or there along the path of destiny is likely an easy thing to identify. Unlike the bronze dragonflight, Velen has no way to go back and alter history or change the threads of fate. But what he does have may be more powerful -- the ability to see the threads of the future, where they lead, and to choose which will eventually lead to a future where the Light prevails.

And unlike the bronze dragonflight, Velen hasn't lost this power. It wasn't a gift or task from the Titans, it is simply what Velen has become. Velen doesn't lead his people in the conventional manner that we're used to. He doesn't declare wars, he doesn't pour over tactical plans, he doesn't order his people from one place to the next, one task to the next. He is the unique shepherd of the draenei race. Velen sees where the future will lead, and he gently guides his people back and forth between the threads of fate, tracing each line in the hopes of reaching that fateful day when the Legion, when all darkness is brought to an end.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor, including the spoiler cinematics. If you are avoiding spoilers for the next expansion, turn away now.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The Dark Portal

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 Dark Portal is the symbol of the Warcraft universe. It was the loading screen for the original game, for the Burning Crusade expansion, and it will be again for the new Warlords of Draenor expansion as well. When we think of the orcish Horde pouring into Azeroth to murder and plunder, it's the Dark Portal they used to get there - when the Alliance Expedition returned the favor and took the fight to Draenor, it was the Dark Portal that allowed them to do so. The Dark Portal nearly destroyed Azeroth when Ner'zhul ripped Draenor apart into Outland, and we used it to travel to that same Outland to do battle with Illidan Stormrage.

Yet for all we know about it, there's much we don't - was it Medivh or his dark corrupter Sargeras who actually instructed Gul'dan on how to build it? How does it function, what magics sustain it, and how does Warlords tease us with the possibility that there could be many methods to power such a doorway between worlds? Why did Ner'zhul's attempt to open more portals like it destroy his Draenor, and could the same fate befall the one we're traveling to - or worse, our own Azeroth? How dangerous is it to tamper with space and, now, time in this way?

Let us pursue the history of the Dark Portal for some answers. There will be spoilers for Warlords of Draenor in the post to follow.

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

Know Your Lore: The vengeance of Vindicator Maraad

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.

We don't exactly know a lot about Vindicator Maraad, despite the fact that he is one of the first draenei we ever saw, one of the featured characters in the original trailer for Burning Crusade. What small pieces we've seen of the Vindicator have been largely isolated to comics and short stories, capped with a small appearance in game that was never really expanded upon. For a character with a background like Maraad, it's almost a pity that he hasn't been properly utilized until now.

Lords of War aired its final episode earlier this week, featuring Maraad and more of his story -- a tragic tale of an era we've only really read about, but never actually seen. The brutality of Shattrath's slaughter was hard to watch, but harder to watch was Maraad's struggle -- a struggle shared by the remainder of the draenei race on Azeroth. But if Maraad is seeking vengeance, retribution, or vindication on Draenor, he may be sorely disappointed.

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

Characters of Warcraft updates with Lords of War cast

The short animated series Lords of War reached its conclusion earlier this week, wrapping things up with a short tale featuring Vindicator Maraad. If you haven't had quite enough of the characters featured in the series, Blizzard has also updated the Characters of Warcraft section of the official site with pages featuring all of the players in Lords of War. Kargath, Grommash, Durotan, Kilroggm and Maraad all have new pages with character history expanded a little beyond what we've seen in Lords of War.

In addition to the background information and history, each page also includes a brand-new wallpaper with the featured character, and links to related content. Hopefully we'll see other entries added over time for the other orc warlords featured in the next expansion -- and more entries on the draenei residents of Draenor as well. I'd love to see pages for Akama, Nobundo, and Yrel, as well as this Draenor's version of Velen, and some of the other notable draenei we'll be adventuring alongside in the next expansion. If you liked Lords of War and you'd like to learn more, head to the official site and check out the new entries.


Filed under: News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Through The Dark Portal Again

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. Up front and with no fanfare - we're going to spoiler country. Huge, gigantic, terrifying spoilers for Warlords of Draenor and its Tanaan Jungle opening experience aplenty. I'm not going to waste time being coy or making cryptic statements about which guy is doing what. I'm going to drop spoilers, lots of them, like a rockslide so if that's soething you don't want to read, this is not the post for you. I've now burned an entire opening paragraph warning you about these spoilers, so you have absolutely no excuse for not avoiding them if you're of a mind to. '

Warlords of Draenor opens with a crisis at the Dark Portal. A new threat, a massive armed force of maniacal orcs have stormed the Portal and poured out into Azeroth, destroying both the Horde and Alliance bases in the area and making alliances with the local ogres. Once this threat is dealt with, it becomes clear that as long as the Portal remains open on the other end, the threat will continue. And so, once again, Azeroth must send forces through the Portal and onto an alien world. All of this is very familiar, and yet, once they set foot on the other side, these heroes of Azeroth find not the blasted and surreal Hellfire Peninsula, but rather the Tanaan Jungle, as terrifyingly lush as it was in distant memories of the time before the Rise of Gul'Dan's Horde.

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

Know Your Lore: The undeniable failure of Thrall

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.

Thrall, former Warchief of the Horde, came from a line of leaders, destined by his parentage to eventually take leadership of the Frostwolf clan -- but he ended up doing far, far more than just that. Through Thrall's efforts, the Horde was rebuilt anew into a different organization, one built not on the concept of bloody battles and victorious conquest, but instead on the ideals of freedom, liberation, unity. Family. With that goal in mind, he allowed a multitude of races to join as allies with this new Horde, establishing a home in Kalimdor.

But that Horde was not the Horde that the orc race was familiar with. It wasn't the same Horde of united clans that drank the blood of Mannoroth, ripped through the Dark Portal and stormed into Azeroth with the intent of conquering the planet. It certainly was a far, far cry from the Horde of Draenor -- the Horde from days not so long before the orcs first arrived on Azeroth, the Horde that thrived prior to Thrall's birth.

And perhaps it was that curious dichotomy between the two that led Thrall astray. Or perhaps it was simply that his parents, Durotan and Draka, were killed while he was still an infant, and he was raised in as a slave in a camp of humans that taught him human ideals, human ideas. They taught him to read, they taught him to speak, they taught him how to be. What they did not teach him was one very important thing -- how to be an orc.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor, including the cinematics that were released last week. If you are avoiding spoilers, don't click!

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

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