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Know Your Lore, TFH Edition: The final boss of 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.

When Mists of Pandaria was announced in 2011, the reponse was a little mixed. Part of this had to do with the fact that we were dealing with a race that had been by and large considered nothing more than a fanciful April Fool's joke by many, but a larger part of it was the sheer expanse of the unknown. We had no idea what to expect out of Mists. We had only the vague descriptions and pieces of lore we got out of BlizzCon that year. We had absolutely no idea what the story was going to look like in Mists, and we had no idea who the final boss of the expansion was actually going to be.

Several months later, it was revealed that Garrosh Hellscream would be the final boss of the expansion. And at BlizzCon 2013, Warlords of Draenor was announced -- a continuation of Hellscream's plans. We got plenty of information about the various orc clans, plenty of information about Draenor, but once again, we find ourselves without a clear idea of who that final boss is going to be. And interestingly enough, people don't seem to be focusing on that at all. So why don't we take a moment to step aside and ask that question. Who is most likely to be the master villain of Warlords?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition. The following contains speculation and history based on known 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: Lore summed up part 3 - Wrath of the Lich King


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.

Part one covered the original launch game, and part two covered the Burning Crusade expansion. Part three is about Corgis Unleashed.

No, no, I kid. Part three is of course about Wrath of the Lich King, when our titular king of the liches gets upset. Miffed. Irate. Angry, even. This one is going to be long - even longer than the BC recap, so long that I see no choice but to split it into two parts. The Lich King was a long time in coming - players were clamoring for him from the moment World of Warcraft launched, and when the expansion bearing his name finally hit, it changed everything.

Like The Burning Crusade, WotLK started with an event. But unlike TBC, this particular event, the Scourge Invasion, was leaps and bounds more dramatic than expected. This time, the monsters were the players, so to speak.

It began with mysterious boxes appearing in Booty Bay and other cities and towns, spreading across Azeroth slowly. The boxes appeared in capital cities, shipped from unknown locales... and slowly, all over the world, the curse of undeath began taking root. At first members of the Argent Dawn could keep ahead of the tide of plague, but as it continued, more and more of Azeroth's heroes succumbed. Soon an irresistible tide of undead threatened Orgrimmar, Stormwind, Ironforge, Undercity (yes, even the forsaken were not immune) and other locations. Some ran and hid in the countryside, avoiding major cities, because these undead seemed to possess a sadistic enjoyment and sought to infect as many as possible.

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

Know Your Lore: A lore guide to dungeons and raids

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 people think about learning lore in game, they automatically leap to doing quests. In some aspects, this is the right thing to do -- obviously a giant chunk of the game, and the storyline, is wrapped up in the quests you do to complete various zones. In others, it's still a little confusing for players. When Cataclysm revamped the 1-60 quest areas, it also updated their stories and timelines to Cataclysm's time -- which meant that players started out in Cataclysm's timeline, went back to Burning Crusade's storylines, continued their travels in the past with Wrath, then leapt forward to Cataclysm again. Confusing, isn't it?

There are other places where lore is tucked away as well -- in dungeons and raids. Normally doing a five-man or a raid is an exercise in not getting killed rather than paying attention to your surroundings. But a question on Twitter asked what would be the best order to complete raids in order to soak up all that lore from vanilla to Cataclysm, and that question has a much larger answer than you'd think. Raid lore ties into dungeon lore, and in some cases zone lore too. What with the holidays, and plenty of time to go easily solo most of that old content, why not take a visit to the days of old?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up part 2 - The Burning Crusade


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.

If you were here last week, you know the drill. If not, here it is - we're covering the entire lore of the game, expansion by expansion.

Let's do this.

A world unlike our own

Were we prepared for what we'd find beyond the Dark Portal? The realm of Outland had a long and storied history, but it was a history no one on Azeroth had seen since Illidan went back following his battle with Arthas at the base of the Frozen Throne, where the Death Knight had proven the stronger and assumed the mantle of the Lich King. In defeat, Illidan had gone mad, or so the shade of his brother Malfurion had informed Remulos - mad and stewing in his humiliation, Illidan daily fought the battle again, and in his fevered rage was the victor, not the defeated. But this was all we knew, and it second-hand from Malfurion's trapped spirit. No one had seen Outland since the Third War, and the Dark Portal had squatted in the crater created by Khadgar's attempt to destroy it, seemingly inert since that time.

Then it opened. And demons poured out of it.

Dealing with the flood of demons was a momentary respite - both the Horde and the Alliance realized that their own squabbles were meaningless if the Burning Legion possessed a doorway to invade Azeroth. So both factions put together expeditions and seized control of the portal's Outland side, and for the first time since the end of the Second War, the Alliance and the Horde stepped foot onto the shattered world once known as Draenor.

But before they did, each side gained new allies.

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

Know Your Lore: Dissecting the lore 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.

Mists of Pandaria was easily the best expansion we've ever had in terms of story development. The new tools and different ways in which Pandaria's story was presented made the expansion shine in a way that cannot be fully appreciated until you simply play the game and experience it all first hand. Last week, we highlighted the highs of storytelling in Mists -- not the lore or the story itself, but the various ways in which that story was presented.

And it really can't be denied -- hands down, Mists of Pandaria is the most development we've seen in using story as a vehicle for gameplay in Warcraft. The sheer amount of improvement from vanilla to today is mind-boggling. But just because Mists was a resounding success from the developmental side of storytelling doesn't mean that isn't any more room for improvement. Although Mists made some giant leaps in the ways we learn lore, there were still some moments that faltered.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up part 1 - Classic WoW

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 while back I did a history of the Pandaren Campaign that just gave a bare bones overview of what exactly happened between patch 5.0 and 5.4 in terms of the story. I understand that nine years of World of Warcraft can't be easily summed up. I don't expect I'll be able to do more than a cursory retelling of the major events, and I'll probably miss and leave out quite a few. So why do it at all?

I have a few reasons. The first is that some of this stuff is gone in game - it happened, but you can't go back and experience it any more. That makes it a part of the game that needs reminders from time to time, in my opinion. The second reason is because all of this lore shapes the game as it evolves - everything that has happened - it helps place things into context. And the third reason is because this stuff is all pretty awesome. It deserves to be retold.

We're going to try and do the game at launch this week, and come back to it on a regular basis.

So let us retell it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Mists lore and the art of storytelling

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 is coming to a close, along with 2013 -- and what an expansion it was. Every expansion, I like to go through an examine how the storytelling process has changed for better or worse. It's interesting to go back to the old posts on Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, both to see where we've been, and to realize how far we've come. Mists wasn't just a new expansion, it was an entirely new story, with an entirely new cast of characters and a prominently featured race that even long-time players of the game knew very little about.

And it was that race that had a lot of people wondering what kind of expansion we'd end up with. When Mists was introduced, there were plenty of people wondering how the heck a story about a bunch of pandas could be anything but a joke. But Mists didn't just give us the pandaren -- it gave us a whole new perspective on storytelling and gameplay, chock full of innovative new ways to deliver story to players. What did Mists bring that really worked?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The draenei and deep 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.

The draenei are a fascinating people to me. Their ability to forgive is terrifying, in a way. This is a people that have seen the majority of their own kind become the stuff of nightmares - a people who have been hunted throughout time and space for over twenty five thousand years by these same fallen former kind, now transformed into demons by their willing adherence to the unthinkable, and it has changed the way they view everything. The draenei are willing to give people who have slaughtered them the benefit of the doubt, and manage to keep their hearts clear (for the most part) of feelings of vengeance and reprisal. The draenei leader Velen went so far as to help the blood elves who had kidnapped and drained the life out of his friend, the naaru M'uru, even through blood elves had stolen Tempest Keep and caused the draenei to crashland on Azeroth in the first place.

We know a reasonable amount about the draenei - we know they come from Argus, that they are refugees, those that chose to heed Velen's warnings and abandon their world before Sargeras could ensnare them in his web of lies and corruption. We know that they've fled the advance of the Legion for that aforementioned two hundred and fifty centuries. What we don't know is how it all went down. What worlds did they arrive on and settle only to have to flee again? Keep in mind that Draenor, the world they named, was only their home for roughly two hundred years out of that vast period of time.

To put it into perspective, Tyrande, Malfurion and the other until-recently immortal night elves, the ones who have lived from the time of the Sundering, are less than half the age of some draenei. Jessera of Mac'Aree, for instance, was fifteen thousand years old at least and had been wandering the cosmos for that long when the Sundering occurred. Not only are the draenei seemingly functionally immortal (they can die, but they do not seem to succumb to old age, or if they do, they have a means to lengthen their lifespans) but they've spent most of that deep time traveling from world to world... and we know almost nothing about that period of their history.

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

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Alternate Azeroth

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 takes place in an alternate, splinter reality in which Garrosh Hellscream has gone back in time and prevented the leaders of the old orc clans from drinking the Blood of Mannoroth. In this version of reality, several events have changed dramatically -- leading players to ask many, many questions about alternate Azeroth, how its history has been altered, and how that changes the Azeroth we know and love today. The answer is very simple: it doesn't. Not in the slightest. That alternate Azeroth, and whatever future it may hold, has no bearing on Warlords of Draenor at all. We won't be exploring that world, and our Azeroth remains unchanged.

However, people still continue to ask. So we're going to take a little trip into that alternate reality and explore what that version of Azeroth would theoretically look like without the Dark Portal. We're going to explore this alternate world, take a look at what likely never came to pass, and what happened as a result. And then we're going to quietly put all of that away, because this is all information and events that we are not going to see in Warlords of Draenor. But it'll be nice to get it out of our systems, won't it?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition. The following contains speculation and history based on known 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 mysteries 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.

It's funny how much we don't know about Draenor yet, considering we've not only had it as part of the setting since Warcraft II, but we've seen it in WCIII, the novel Rise of the Horde, and we even traveled to its shattered remnants for an entire expansion in Burning Crusade. Despite all that, the living world - the place that produced the orcish people, was home to a mighty ogre empire, gave birth to titanic beings like the gronn and sheltered the draenei for hundreds of years is still somewhat unknown to us.

We've seen bits and pieces of the unknown world drip out since Blizzcon, but it's all still so tantalizingly vague. Some of these lands are entirely new to us, as they were lost when Draenor became Outland, torn apart by Ner'zhul's use of the Legion's portal magics - lands like the Spires of Arak, home to the Arakkoa and the Frostfire Ridge, home to the Frostwolves and a land of glaciers and volcanoes - a land that typifies the nature of Draenor itself. The planet, or at least the one continent we have any details on, seems to be a land of violent extremes which breeds a harsh, survivalist mindset in its native children.

Make no mistake - the orcs are not the only race native to these harsh (some might even say savage) lands. The ogres sail north from another land to lay claim to Nagrand's coasts, make their presence and that of a tottering empire known even in the Frostfire Ridge, and behind them lurks the menace of the gronn. In the Spires of Arak, the proud Arakkoa burn those they capture alive in tribute to the sun. This is not a world where any live in peace - to live in harmony with nature on Draenor is to live a life of constant struggle, in a kill or be killed fight red in the shed blood of predator and prey.

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

Know Your Lore: Draka, daughter of Kelkar

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 named the ship Draka's Fury after his mother. It was the ship that should have taken him without trouble to the heart of the Maelstrom during Cataclysm, but the ship was intercepted by an Alliance fleet and destroyed. It's been stated here and there that Thrall named the ship as a tribute to his mother, and to the strong orc women in his life -- but there's a problem with that. Thrall didn't know his mother at all, really. When he was just an infant, both Draka and his father Durotan were killed, betrayed by their own kind, and Thrall left to die. He named the ship after the strength of a mother that he never really knew at all.

But Draka was far from weak, in her prime -- and to her mate Durotan, she was the epitome of everything an orc woman should be. Strong, wise, brave, unwilling to bend or break, Draka spent the entirety of her childhood defying everyone's expectations, and continued to do so until the day she died. In Warlords of Draenor, we'll finally get a chance to meet Thrall's mother and father in person. We know who Durotan is, but who was that orc woman standing at his side, and what made her so incredibly special?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: I miss you, Rexxar

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.

I was unbelievably tempted to write another big time-travel extravaganza around my theory that Karazhan is living backwards like Merlin - that it was built in the future and its supposed creation in an explosion that made Deadwind Pass was in fact its final destruction at the end of its existence - but it's the kind of theory that I can explain in like four sentences. It doesn't really need a whole KYL.

So instead, I'm going to talk about characters I miss. Some of them haven't really gone anywhere - I can go visit them any time I like - while others have died or disappeared. Some of those characters have never even appeared in World of Warcraft.

Obviously Rexxar is on the list, so we'll talk about him first.

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

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

What's going on with Karazhan?

It's no secret that I love Karazhan. Making its debut in Burning Crusade, Karazhan was and still is, to me, the perfect raid. The sheer scope of the instance and the variety of bosses within it were more than enough to keep my raid guild at the time happily occupied. But for myself, it wasn't just the raid, it was the story behind it. I spent most of vanilla plaintively wondering when we'd see Medivh's tower open for visitors ... and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest with what we eventually saw inside.

On the 5.4.2 PTR, Karazhan is in the middle of what seems to be not a revamp, but a restoration. Mobs aren't changing, neither are bosses. But the cobwebs, the overturned chairs, the randomly placed skeletons of the dead are all being quietly swept away. One has to wonder ... what's up with that? What's going on with the tower of Karazhan, and why the sudden makeover now? Rather than indulge in yet another speculative edition of Know Your Lore, let's just take a quick look at the possibilities.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

Know Your Lore TFH: Sailing to Oshu'gun

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.

Tinfoil Hats on. Let's speculate. Let's make some things up.

To be honest, I'm not one hundred percent sure that what I'm about to write is a TFH entry. It's more just speculative about the nature of the Iron Horde and the Draenor it seeks to rule, and the consequences of its rise. Since I can't actually know any of that yet, it's certainly speculative, but I have no grand theory in mind to explicate, just a bunch of speculations to lay out.

What we know so far is actually only a tantalizing veneer over all we don't know. From the time of the initial incursion that creates this new Draenor to the time that we become aware of it, a certain amount of time has to pass - it takes time to outfit an entirely new kind of army, much less create a new Dark Portal and usurp the connection to our Azeroth's Dark Portal and invade it, which we've been told will be happening. This leads to a whole host of questions - what happens during that period of time? How does Garrosh convince the orcs of Draenor that they should listen to him, a completely unknown quantity? He won't be from any tribe they know of - while he's a member of the Warsong by blood, none of them will recognize him. How does it happen?

I'm fascinated by the idea of this moment. Does he just flat out tell them who he is and where he comes from? While Garrosh is a very cunning tactician capable of deceit, he's also fairly straightforward, so I can imagine him infiltrating the tribal society of orcs on Draenor or simply strolling up to a Kosh'harg and declaring who he is. Either approach has risks, of course - while violence is forbidden at a Kosh'harg, he could easily be laughed right out of the place, and infiltrating an orc tribe would be very difficult for an outsider.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

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