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Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Emerald Dreams and 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.

Its existence is known by many, but it's accessed by only a scant few of the assorted races of Azeroth. Long ago, Malfurion Stormrage learned the ways of the druid from the Ancient Cenarius, and through that process, learned to travel through this mysterious place. Once under the protection of Ysera, it's currently undefined just how much influence the Aspect of the Green Dragonflight now has over the mystery that is the Emerald Dream -- but for years, it's been a haven for druids, and druids alone.

Over several expansions and through several novels we've seen the progression of the Emerald Nightmare -- in the novel Stormrage, the Nightmare was by and large defeated. In game, we rarely saw mention of it, although one or two quests happened to mention Malfurion's dilemma within the Dream, and a few quests actually sent us inside. In all honesty, the most we've seen out of this content in-game were files and exploration videos of old zones that were never developed. Yet there's something really fascinating about the Emerald Dream, something that captures the imagination and has many players clamoring for an expansion featuring that content.

So what does any of this have to do with Draenor?

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.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore Tinfoil Hat Edition: How is flesh a curse?

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.

Please don your tinfoil hat - all that follows is speculation based on in-game evidence. It is not canonical lore endorsed by Blizzard.

One of the big reveals of Wrath of the Lich King is the Curse of Flesh. Upon our arrival in Ulduar's Halls of Stone, we escort Brann Bronzebeard to the Tribunal of Ages, a repository of Titan knowledge. After a fierce battle with the Tribunal's defense systems, Brann manages to access the Tribunal's information and learns the history of Azeroth, including how the Titans created Azeroth and how the Old Gods came to infest it, and how the Titan's creations of stone and iron were infected by the Curse of Flesh, making them more easily assimilated by the Old Gods. After defeating and imprisoning the Old Gods, the Titans re-engineered their creations to ensure they were no longer susceptible to the Curse... leaving the ones they'd already created to suffer it, and slowly change into the dwarves, gnomes, humans, troggs and their offshoots. Thus was Azeroth peopled in many cases.

It sounds plausible enough. But there are some problems with it - namely, not all of the Titans information sources agree with it. For instance, the first Titan trove accessed by the mortal races of Azeroth was in Uldaman, in the Badlands. This Titan complex, lying in the heart of the Eastern Kingdoms, is potentially the source of the dwarves and gnomes who live nearby in the mountains of Khaz Modan.

The Lore Keeper of Norgannon we meet at the end of Uldaman tells us that the Titans deviated from their normal plan when creating seed races.

A cross-section of Azeroth's crust was used as the foundation for the Earthen's synthesis rather than the typical biomass construction foundation used by the Creators.

Research on the world's composition led the Creators to theorize that an enhanced being could be synthesized that would epitomize the resiliency of this world's essence. This was accomplished by choosing to use a blend of Azeroth's various stone core compounds as the foundation.

What does this mean? Rather than the typical biomass construction foundation used by the Creators implies that the use of stone and other materials in the Titan constructs of Azeroth is not standard. This is not what the Titans usually do. Why did they do it on Azeroth, then? They appear to have done it quite extensively as well - the Earthen, the Mechagnomes, the Vrykul, the Mogu, the Tol'vir - a whole host of inorganic entities, using 'a cross-section of Azeroth's crust' to construct them. And why is the resilience of Azeroth's essence so remarkable?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The Titans, Azeroth, and Wrathion

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.

Last week, we explored the legendary quests offered by Wrathion in detail, and managed to come up with some interesting theories regarding his purpose in Pandaria. No matter which way you look at it, what Wrathion says and what he actually does are two fairly different things. There's a story lying there, waiting to be discovered -- and while we've all been paying attention to what Pandaria has to offer, and the war between Alliance and Horde, Wrathion's clearly been working his own agenda.

But he's only two years old at this point. He's far from a fully grown dragon, yet he seems to be pulling together complicated strategies and plans like they're nothing at all. Certainly he may be a dragon, but is a dragon that young out of the shell really going to be that advanced? Wrathion would certainly like us to believe it. The problem is that we simply don't have any evidence to back up the story he's told us -- nor do we have any evidence of how he should be acting. He may be two, he may say he's a black dragon, but this "dragon" might in fact be something far more important than he claims -- more important than even he knows.

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.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The others of Draenor

Genasaur - from Blizzcon Concept Art
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.

Draenor, like Azeroth, is populated by more than just one sapient people. We've talked at length about the orcs who were born on Draenor, and the draenei who landed there and named the world as their refuge. But there were others. Some have vanished entirely since the creation of Outland, while others escaped to Azeroth or continued to exist on the remnant continent itself, floating in the Twisting Nether.

Thus, our trip to this new Draenor will allow us to come face to face with beings we barely know, as they were before the destruction Ner'zhul unleashed, and with beings we've never met or seen, entities of legend. While we still don't know exactly what we'll find on Draenor (I'm sure it will be savage) we have enough clues to start talking about the denizens of that unknown (to us) world.

So, who were these others?

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

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The Black Prince

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.

Wrathion, the last black dragon -- to his knowledge -- on the entirety of Azeroth has been a puzzle from the moment his egg was created. His immediate response upon hatching was a vicious, calculated attack on his own flight via the use of assassins, which resulted in the nigh-extinction of the black dragonflight. And after completing that mission, he curiously chose, instead of going somewhere to be left alone as he stated he wanted, to go to Pandaria -- where he began an even curiouser journey that players were quickly swept into upon reaching level 90.

Wrathion's travels in Pandaria, his sudden gaining of a multitude of Blacktalon Agents, even the spot in which he chose to make his temporary home are all increasingly questionable, especially given what little we know about Wrathion himself. He gives us a grand, magnanimous story about how he's looking out for the world because he's seen visions of the Burning Legion coming to call, and of our world's destruction.

But he also said he was firmly on the side of the Horde, or the side of the Alliance, then swapped sides as efficiently as possible when it was convenient. In other words, Wrathion lies. He lies all the time. So the question we should be asking here is whether Wrathion has been giving us the real truth at all -- and what is the truth behind Wrathion's puzzling journey?

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: Draenor, as the draenei saw


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 were barely a part of Draenor - despite naming it, they lived there barely a few hundred years before (in our history) the rise of the Horde ended their respite from thousands of years of fear and endless retreat across the universe. Draenor (Exile's Refuge, in the language of the draenei) ended up as a cruel, mocking joke of a name, for there was no refuge to be found there. In our history, barely a tenth of their people survived the orcs to escape to Azeroth.

Now a new history unfolds, a new day dawns, and we can follow where it leads. A new Draenor, one where the battle between orc and draenei has yet to be decided. But what do we know of the draenei on Draenor? Where did they live, how did they live? What were their settlements, what was their culture like? What, in other words, are we being given the chance to save? We can look at what we know from our trip to Outland and what we've been told.

We don't know the name for every old draenei settlement that existed on Draenor. There were quite a few of them, many of which only endured in the time of Outland's appearance in The Burning Crusade as ruins, and sometimes these ruins were renamed by their occupiers. Sites such as Eclipse Point in Shadowmoon Valley were once thriving draenei settlements - now even their names are lost. Until we make the trip through to the Draenor of Warlords, however, all we can do is examine what's left, and surmise based on it.

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

Know Your Lore: A guide to the orc clans 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 occurred to me while writing last week's Know Your Lore about Zaela and the Dragonmaw Clan that there are a lot of orcish clans out there, many of which we'll be encountering in Warlords of Draenor. There are well over twenty different clans, each with different histories, and there may be just as many smaller, minor clans that we don't know about, or more. Players familiar with Warcraft lore likely recognize the names of these clans, even if they aren't exactly certain who's who.

But for players new to Warcraft lore, or players that haven't played any game other than WoW, the giant list of various clans and the little notes we heard of clan history from BlizzCon may be pretty confusing, to say the least. Just who are all these orcish clans, which ones are we likely to see in Warlords, and which ones likely won't make an appearance?

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

Know Your Lore, TFH Edition: The Dangerous Enlightenment

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.

This Tinfoil Hat post is not meant to be taken as established lore, but merely as an exploration of what that lore could mean.

Sometimes an idea starts small. I was musing about Saronite, the literal blood of an Old God, which as we all know was used as the material that created Icecrown Citadel. Then I thought about how the last dying breath of an Old God became the Sha, actual embodiments of corruption.... and how, even after the death of that Old God, the Heart of Y'Shaarj could taint the entire Vale of Eternal Blossoms. The very substance of an Old God... its blood, its flesh, even its last breath can taint, warp and corrupt the world.

Then I started thinking about the madness the Old Gods engender. Upon first arriving in the Howling Fjord, members of the Explorer's League were driven mad by the thoughts of Yogg-Saron, trapped within the Whisper Gulch. Yogg-Saron, after all, was massive - his tendrils extend all the way across the continent, from Icecown through the Storm Peaks and down into the Dragonblight, the Grizzly Hills, into the Fjord itself. And this got me thinking something else.

Northrend is dominated by Yogg-Saron... but the Old Gods predate the Sundering, and so when all continents were part of the great original Kalimdor, that means that the Old Gods lay submerged beneath it as well. The Old God N'Zoth most likely lay beneath the center of the primordial landmass, ancient C'thun lay to its west, and before its death at the hands of Master Ra and the Mogu the south was the domain of Y'Shaarj whose seven heads consumed hope and begat despair. But many were the Old Gods, and powerful (or so the Klaxxi maintain) and this leaves me to ask - was there a god to the East? And what became of it?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Goblin, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up part 6 - Cataclysm Ends

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.

Let's be up front about this. The Cataclysm was Deathwing himself. The events were the result of Deathwing's assault on the world of Azeroth - his eruption from Deepholm, his rampage through the Twilight Highlands, his summoning of Ragnaros into Mount Hyjal, the machinations of his minions. Deathwing, in all his rampaging insanity, was exactly what he claimed he was. He was the end of the world, and had he not been stopped, Azeroth would be no more. From the Twilight Highlands to the depths of Vashj'ir, the events Deathwing set in motion unraveled the world.

Let's look over the world, cast our eyes from the jagged peaks of Hyjal to the submerged depths of Vashj'ir, descend into Deepholm and then comb the deserts of Uldum for answers to the question - what did the mad dragon want? Why did his Twilight's Hammer erect their bastion in the Twilight Highlands, where the Maw of Iso'rath erupted from the very soil? The old gods seemed on the verge of their ancient goal, thanks to Deathwing.

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

Know Your Lore: The problem with story progression in 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.

I've been working on an alt these past few weeks, leveling through content at my leisure and re-visiting storylines I haven't seen since the early days of Cataclysm. I started out in Azuremyst Isle, hopping over to Darkshore once I reached the appropriate level -- basically, once I'd gotten out of Ammen Vale -- and completed the entirety of Darkshore not because the XP was good, but because I wanted to see the entire thing again.

From there, I hopped to the Eastern Kingdoms, where I did part of Duskwood, most of Northern Stranglethorn Vale, and then up to the Plaguelands -- Western, then Eastern -- before hopping down to the Badlands. After the Badlands, I did a small portion of Searing Gorge, then hopped down to the Swamp of Sorrows and the Blasted Lands, where I hit level 60 and promptly went through the Dark Portal to Outland. Which is when I realized something -- if I were a new player, someone who had never picked up World of Warcraft, I would have absolutely no idea what the heck was going on. At all.

There's something really wrong with that.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up part 5 - Cataclysm Begins

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've covered the original game's story, gone to Outland to recap the Burning Crusade, and spent two weeks recapping the events of the Lich King's contumely. Now, we find ourselves facing the dragon that broke the world.

Deathwing's power came in equal measure from the Titans themselves and the Old Gods who opposed them. From the Titan Khaz'goroth Deathwing was granted the role of Aspect of Earth, lord over the land and all beneath it. From the Old Gods imprisoned within the deep earth, Deathwing gained the strength of a kind of madness, a mania with destroying that which he had been set to guard. Rejecting his nature as Aspect of Earth, he would in time dedicate himself to the death of all things living on the surface of Azeroth.

Even before the Lich King's return, Deathwing was taking steps. His prime consort, Sinestra, used the madness of Illidan to cover her own actions, convincing the Dragonmaw chieftain Mor'ghor to give into her keeping a clutch of Netherwing dragon eggs - essentially the eggs of her own descendents, as the Netherwing were born from black dragon eggs Deathwing left behind on Draenor before it was destroyed, exposing the eggs to the raw chaotic magic of the Twisting Nether. In turn, after Sinestra's experiments on the eggs in Grim Batol failed, Deathwing transported a clutch to the Obsidian Sanctim - these dragons were destroyed by the same adventurers who would ultimately kill Malygos. Yet these were hardly the only such eggs warped by Deathwing - a raid on the Ruby Sanctum would reveal that Twilight Dragons now served Deathwing, born from his experiments on the Nether eggs.

All of this was merely preamble. While the situation in Northrend died down following Arthas' death and the secret elevation of the new Lich King, the world had no time to rest. Deathwing had rested in Deepholm since his defeat by the other aspects. Now, he would rest no longer.

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

Know Your Lore: Khadgar, Archmage of the Kirin Tor

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 your life is stripped away? Khadgar is an Archmage of the Kirin Tor -- one of the members of the Council of Six, and a powerful mage in his own right. Ancient and wizened, in his lifetime Khadgar has confronted the shadow of Sargeras, faced the orc legions that poured through the Dark Portal, seen Draenor shattered into a wasteland, and even confronted Deathwing himself and survived. And after all that was said and done, he was the first human to reach out and connect with the enigmatic naaru, bringing A'dal and his forces to Outland.

And he's done all of this by age forty-four.

Forty-four? Yes. There's much more to Khadgar than his appearance might suggest. Although his body may be ancient and wizened, there is nothing stopping what is still a fairly young and incredibly intelligent mind. But Khadgar may not be where he expected to be when, at age 17, he was asked to apprentice to the most unlikely tutor in the Eastern Kingdoms. His name was Medivh.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

The challenge of roleplay in the face of Warlords

Roleplayers have to dance around a lot of lore in order to make their stories plausible and believable. While not everyone is concerned with being 100% dedicated to known canon material in their roleplay, the announcement of Warlords of Draenor brings up a lot of concerns and questions for those that are. The somewhat unorthodox method of time-travel used in the expansion leaves many players wondering exactly how to handle the situation -- and on top of that, we've been told we'll be stranded on Draenor, presumably with no way to get back to good old familiar Azeroth at all.

So how do you reconcile what's about to happen to your character? Do you ignore the main storyline of an expansion that hasn't been released yet, or do you embrace the idea that your character may not be able to return at all? What kind of challenges are roleplayers going to see in Warlords of Draenor? More importantly, is this something your character should be addressing now?

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Filed under: Lore, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Know Your Lore: A certain point of view

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 know I promised y'all a Cataclysm roundup, but I'm burned out after that huge Wrath of the Lich King post and I need some time to recharge, so I'm taking a week and writing something more personal. This week, I want to talk about how the lore can look entirely different depending on what faction you're playing, what characters you like or dislike - how the story is effectively a prism that bends and scatters based on your perspective.

World of Warcraft is the aggregate of a lot of stories. It isn't one story. This is because it's effectively the story of your character, whoever she or he happens to be, and the story of all the other characters playing the game - and it takes place in a world made and shaped by a long history, going back twenty years now to the first Warcraft: Orcs vs. Humans RTS. And one of the results of all that is, you can have opposing viewpoints be entirely correct from their own perspective. It's sort of the old line Ben Kenobi tossed at Luke - what we believe about the story can be true, from a certain point of view.

It's one of the reasons I think all players should have at least one alt on the faction opposite their main, to see and experience the story from the other side of the fence. I'm going to use my own personal experience here for a second - this expansion alone, I've leveled a tauren, draenei, worgen and orc warrior to level 90. What did I experience? Amazingly, even between the orc and the tauren, I saw radically different things, not just because I did different zones (my tauren did Krasarang, my orc skipped it, for example) but because of who they were.

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

Know Your Lore: 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.

He isn't a faction leader. He isn't an important NPC, he doesn't offer any quests. He doesn't even offer any flavor text if you happen to click on him -- he simply stands aboard the Skybreaker, letting other NPCs do all the grunt work of handing out quests and tasks for players. He didn't make an appearance in Cataclysm, nor was he anywhere to be found in Mists of Pandaria. To those who simply play World of Warcraft, completing quests and moving on, he is a nobody -- a peculiar NPC that happens to have a name, standing silent and without any apparent purpose at all.

Yet despite not actually appearing in the expansion, he was the draenei paladin featured in the cinematic for The Burning Crusade. He has his own impressive, deluxe action figure from the DC Unlimited series. And it was revealed at BlizzCon that he will play a major role in the Warlords expansion -- one of a few draenei mentioned specifically by name. So just who is Vindicator Maraad, and why does he rate all this attention?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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