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Know Your Lore: Gnomes, the inheritors of the future

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 gnomes are one of two people of modern Azeroth who can lay claim to being the most intelligent, most adept with technology, most innovative of the mortal races. Unlike their goblin rivals, however, the gnomes are not materialists in the sense of always seeking a means to profit - their mindset is far more exploratory. A goblin looks at a situation and bends her mind to determine how best to exploit it, while a gnome seeks to learn how it works. And in a way, the gnome is far more dangerous, because they're never satisfied.

Consider this - the gnomes invented a weapon so destructive it rendered their own city unlivable for years. Even today, Gnomeregan isn't fully recovered. This radiation bomb (the work of Sicco Thermaplugg, the ambitious madman who once ruled Gnomeregan in its fallen state after Gelbin Mekkatorque led those gnomes he could out of the city) is proof positive of just how terrifying gnomish ingenuity can really be. Unlike the mana bomb Garrosh Hellscream used on Theramore, the radiation bomb doesn't destroy building - it kills without ruining structures. Furthermore, the mana bomb was a discovery, created by blood elves serving Kael'thas Sunstrider who had the chance to study naaru technology in Tempest Keep, but the radiation bomb was entirely a gnomish invention. From their origins as a titan created construct race, the gnomes have persevered through to the modern day as a clever, resourceful, inventive people. But Sicco Thermaplugg also shows that gnomes can be treacherous, deceitful, arrogant and even contemptuous of others.

Now, following the Siege of Orgrimmar, is there any limit to what the gnomes can achieve?

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

Know Your Lore: 5 influential moments in 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.

The lore of Warcraft isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world to follow. It's not a straight line of cause and effect that you can simply trace from beginning to end. It's an endless chain of events intertwined with each other in a ball that is so tightly wound together, it's almost impossible to untangle and pick apart. This is a large part of the reason why it's so hard to answer a seemingly simple question, "I want to try and get into Warcraft lore, so where do I start?"

That said, there are several standout moments in lore, moments that have influenced far more than one character's development or one chain of story progression. While the following list isn't every moment, it contains some of the most influential, those events in history that have shaped the world of Warcraft and will continue to shape it for years to come.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Look back in Draenei

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 draenei have a lot of unresolved issues.

For starters, they're stranded on a strange planet called Azeroth, after having just barely escaped Outland. They lived on Outland (back when it was called Draenor) for a few hundred years, time enough to start thinking of the place as home. Then it was taken from them, and their people nearly totally exterminated. Their escape to Azeroth was an accident, crashing here because their ship was sabotaged by blood elf servants of Kael'thas Sunstrider.

So let's look over things. In the past few decades the draenei have seen formerly amicable neighbors turn bloodthirsty, demon-addicted monsters. They endured the near-total extinction of their people, hiding in swamps and bedraggled refugee settlements, seeing many of the survivors mutate and lose their connection with the Holy Light. They saw roads made out of the bones of their people. They only escaped by stealing back a dimensional ship from people they'd never really seen or heard of who still helped try and kill them. And as soon as they arrived on this new planet they found out that the Burning Legion (the very same force that is trying to exterminate them) has already been here.

This is a condensed list, of course.

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

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: Warriors of Azeroth and beyond, Part 2

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.

Second verse, same as the first - we're talking warriors of lore and story in the Warcraft universe. What does it take to get on either of these lists?
  1. Don't obviously be a member of another class. I skirted the edge of this one for last week's list, but not this week - these are the warriors. No Bolvars, no Turalyons, no Rexxars or the like. If you cast spells or skulk in the shadows or are a death knight, you're not on this list. Sorry, Highlord Alexandros Mograine, but you were a paladin, and you don't count. Maiev Shadowsong definitely uses stealth, she's out.
  2. You have to be somehow more iconic than the badasses on last week's list. That means, in my opinion, you're more important in terms of lore than Muradin Bronzebeard, Baine Bloodhoof, and Broxigar the Red. That's not an easy bar to jump over.
  3. Those are my criteria. I just think lists with less than three points on them look weird.
Let's get started on the list.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Warlords lore, spoilers and you

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 about that time again. The time in which an expansion is waning towards its inevitable end, and a new one sits on the horizon. The time when that expansion isn't quite available for play, but is now the subject of copious amounts of clever datamining to pluck out all those interesting details before they've even had a chance to fully see the light of day.

For most players, it's incredibly fun to see the details as they are released, particularly since Blizzard has been so careful this time around to clarify any changes that may appear a little weird. For fans of the lore, it means one of two things -- a ton of delicious tidbits in regards to story information, or the inevitable launch of a minefield of spoilers that will have to be dodged for the next several months until the expansion is in hand. But is it really worth it to give them a look? Is it worth it to discuss them?

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

Ask a CDev Round IV answers revealed

It's been quite some time since we've had a new round of Ask a CDev, addressing and answering lore questions from players. But the answers for round IV of the popular feature have been released, including quite a few questions with interesting implications. This time around, the questions were drawn directly from Twitter, and they address a variety of topics. Some highlights include:
  • Oshu'gun? That's what the orcs call the mountain in Nagrand. But the draenei that remember the mountain for the vessel it was still use its original name -- the Genedar.
  • Tyrande and Malfurion officially co-lead the night elves. Tyrande is no longer the sole leader.
  • Sadly, the Shatterspear tribe is no more, although some may have escaped and found shelter within the Horde or other organizations.
  • Just who the heck is Trade Prince Donais? Well ... he isn't Horde, exactly...
  • There is a distinct difference between the vrykul and Kvaldir, and it involves the Curse of Flesh.
Take a look at the thread in its entirety for all of the lore questions and answers. And if you have a lore question that has you stumped, head over to Twitter and shoot it to Senior Historian Sean Copeland at his Twitter account, @Loreology.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Lore

Know Your Lore: Warriors of Azeroth and beyond Part 1

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, this week, I'm going to do something massively nerdy and more than a little ridiculous. I'm going to rank the best warriors from across the World of Warcraft, according to my own subjective criteria for what 'best' means. It's not just who would win in a fight (that's in there, but it's not all of it) and unfortunately, some races are going to get shafted here just because they don't have as much representation. I'm trying to keep the list somewhat representative, but there are some races that just dominate it - orcs and humans get big representation, while other races like draenei just don't have an established lore warrior as of the time of this writing. I'm sure there are draenei warriors (I play one, even) but we tend to see paladins from the boys in blue. It's a sad lack.

Some of these are kind of iffy because Blizzard does weird things sometimes - some of these characters have abilities you'll never see a warrior use in game - but none of them will be specifically mentioned members of another class. No demon hunters, paladins or rogues on this list. Sorry, Garona fans.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Gul'dan, the soul of evil

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.

Every villain in the Warcraft universe has a story behind why exactly they're a villain. For some, it was the corruption of the Old Gods that slowly drove them mad. For others, it was the promise of great power by agents of the Burning Legion. But it's rare that we see a villain that is simply a villain without any kind of outside influence. Garrosh Hellscream is one of the better villains in Warcraft solely because he does evil things, but doesn't believe that they are evil -- instead, he believes that they are simply the right thing to do.

But before Garrosh Hellscream was an orc who pretty much represented pure, unmitigated evil in its most concentrated form. He knew the corruption of his entire race was at stake, and he went ahead and traded it for the one thing he craved above all else -- power. Gul'dan may not have come from bloodlines that boasted glory, but he was ridiculously intelligent, cunning, and cruel. To Gul'dan, it wasn't about performing evil deeds. It was about amassing as much power and prestige as he could -- and the rest of the world could burn, for all he cared.

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

Know Your Lore: Tauren at the end of Mists

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 are an awful lot of loose threads around the tauren right now. The Grimtotem are scattered, making temporary pacts with the Alliance in Stonetalon, besieging the night elves in Feralas, and their greatest leader was last seen claiming an artifact of elemental power. In the wake of Cairne's death, Baine Bloodhoof chose to allow Garrosh to rule uncontested - but that position clearly changed over time, and Baine led tauren troops to the support of Vol'jin's rebellion against the Warchief, rather than simply challenging him as his father did. Ironically, this choice shows a certain political maturity - recognizing that trial by personal combat might not be the best means to effect regime change in the Horde - while it also shows a bit of a break with the old ways of both the Horde, and the tauren people.

Baine's father Cairne chose to live, and die, by the older ways of ritual and honor. Betrayed by Magatha, he died from poison on Garrosh Hellscream's axe and with him seems to have died the last vestiges of the tauren ways of the past. Baine led an expulsion of those Grimtotem that would not swear allegiance to him over Magatha that culminated in a battle against their last leaders in Mulgore, and at the end of that battle, Baine ruled the shu'halo as undisputed chieftain of all. But in doing so, he also led his people into their last break with the past, and following the defeat of Garrosh and the ascension of Vol'jin to the seat of power as Warchief, one must ask - what role do the tauren fill in the Horde to come, and where will Baine's current choices lead them in the future?

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

Know Your Lore: Shattrath City and the Lost

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.

Standing in Outland as a sanctuary capital shared by both Alliance and Horde, Shattrath City isn't exactly much to look at. The city is divided into several different sections, housing a variety of occupants from draenei to arakkoa to everything in between -- refugees, for the most part. In Warlords of Draenor, we'll finally see Shattrath as it was in its glory days. A coastal city, a museum metropolis, described as an architectural marvel. Unfortunately, the city will also be occupied by the Iron Horde.

The events that turned Shattrath from shining capital of the draenei to the ruins we're familiar with today are steeped in tragedy that still affects the draenei race to this day. Certainly there was sorrow to be found in the fall of the city -- but its fall, and the fall of the other draenei cities scattered around Draenor, were also directly responsible for the evolution of the draenei race as we know it.

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

Taking the roleplay out of WoW

I like messing around with roleplay every now and again, especially during the waning months of an expansion. When there's little else to do, roleplay helps keep me entertained, and has the added side vantage of giving me a space where I can indulge in trying to answer lore questions that invariably make their way into lore columns. But beyond that, there's just something kind of fun about taking an hour or two off every now and again and just letting my brain be creative without the pressure of stress.

But one of the big problems with roleplay in WoW is the actual process of any kind of meaningful roleplay itself. Major, sweeping campaigns that are common with tabletop roleplaying systems just aren't possible in WoW -- trying to get everyone on an entire roleplay server to agree to a set list of rules for combat is an exercise in futility. Because of this, there's always been a limited scope to roleplay, a wall that simply couldn't be broken within the confines of an MMO. NPCs can't be controlled, players can't really influence major events in fear of somehow running into contradictions with canon lore. You can either dance around the limits, or you can ignore them entirely.

Or, as I recently discovered, you can simply leave it all behind. How do you make the limits in WoW work for your roleplay guild? By taking your roleplay out of WoW entirely.

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Filed under: RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying), Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: The Eredar

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.

On Argus, Mac'Aree was the most sacred of our cities. Would you believe me if I told you that the walkways were lined with precious minerals? That the rivers glittered even in complete darkness? I long for those days... How long has it been? A thousand years? Ten-thousand?
-- Jessera of Mac'Aree

Many peoples have had a golden age. The ancient kaldorei on Azeroth had one, over ten thousand years ago, when their mastery of the magic of the Well of Eternity made them effectively the most powerful people in Azeroth. Before that, the mogu ruled a nation carves from slave labor while the ancient trolls of Zandalar held their empire. These events are distant to us, the long past.

The eredar had already had at least two golden ages before any of this had ever happened. Over twenty five thousand years ago, on the planet Argus, a people worked wonders so profound and magnificent that they drew the attention of a power beyond anything they could have imagined. Everything they were up until that point, their ancient and magnificent works, their intelligence and magical acumen, it is all long lost now. Then, they were the eredar, one people. Now, they are two - draenei, exiles, and man'ari, what we today simply call by the name of that long vanished people. Be not mistaken, however - the eredar of today are the twisted, corrupted, magically powerful but spiritually debased remnant of that people, just as the draenei are the last remnant of what they were before their fall.

But fall they did. Who were the eredar, and who are they now?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

Know Your Lore: General Nazgrim

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 war between Alliance and Horde has been the thematic highlight of Mists of Pandaria. Certainly Pandaria itself has held its share of mysteries, but those mysteries have been repeatedly plundered, the continent's horrors unleashed, all in the name of war. It's a war that's been a long time coming -- tensions between the Alliance and Horde have been slowly rising ever since the wintery days of Northrend, the frozen peaks of Icecrown.

And it was in the chill air of Northrend that we first met a character who would become one of the more important players of the Mists expansion. Nazgrim had an innocent enough start in the Horde storyline, simply one of many questgivers up in Northrend. But as the expansions continued to roll out, Nazgrim's role grew substantially, until, at last, he was found fighting for the wrong side, defending Garrosh Hellscream's citadel to his last inevitable breath.

But who was Nazgrim, really? Were there any merits to his choices, given that they ultimately brought about his demise? Was Nazgrim's life, his career, a vain exercise in futility?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Hearthstone heroes ranked not by power, but by lore

Hearthstone news site Liquidhearth posted a pretty interesting rank list yesterday. The site primarily focuses on the game-related side of Hearthstone -- arenas, deck builds, card abilities and the like -- however, this particular article looks at not the individual cards, but the heroes featured on Hearthstone's nine available decks. The list is laid out and ranked not by the relative power of the class deck, but by the place they stand in Warcraft lore.

Each hero is given a brief descriptive summary detailing their place in Warcraft's history, and each rank is justified by one of three panelists quizzed for the column. What makes it interesting is that from a Hearthstone standpoint, the order isn't really quite where I think it should be. Mage decks, for example, are absolutely devastating if they get the right cards -- and I've had my cards thrown right back at me by more than one incredibly clever set of combos from a priest deck. The rogue deck is particularly devastating when used correctly as well.

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Filed under: Lore, Hearthstone Insider

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