World of Warcraft
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World of Warcraft is a Massively-Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game created by Blizzard, based on their popular series of Warcraft real-time strategy games. It is often suggested that Wizards of the Coast was strongly influenced by World of Warcraft (and possibly other similar MMOs) when designing the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons - in particular the power-based combat system. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing depends on what you think about World of Warcraft and/or 4th edition. As one can guess, Warcraft's popularity and history have led to it being a popular target of hate and bile, especially among its greatest fans. Expect a fair amount of rhetoric and Skub to follow.
Note that if you're serious about actually learning about Warcraft's lore, you should probably go to Wowpedia (Not WoWwiki, that shit sucks) for less lackluster information.
- 1 Setting information
- 2 Geography
- 3 Factions and races
- 4 Classes
- 5 Plot summaries
- 5.1 Important Characters
- 5.2 Classic
- 5.3 Burning Crusade
- 5.4 Wrath of the Lich King
- 5.5 Cataclysm (Otherwise Known as TRYING TO BE "World of Warcraft 2")
- 5.6 Mists of Pandaria
- 5.7 Warlords of Draenor (Otherwise Known as "World of Warcraft 2")
- 5.8 Legion
- 5.9 Battle for Azeroth
- 5.10 Shadowlands
- 6 See Also
Light and Void
The two primary forces in the setting. Previously just two of a myriad of forces, these two were nailed down as the Big Bang of Warcraft. In fact, originally it was just the Light, then the Void suddenly appeared and clashes between the two caused the Big Bang in Warcraft. The Void also used to be called the Shadow, and was a part of the Twisting Nether. The Holy Light of Creation is drawn to and bolstered by faith and positive feelings, not inherently good (despite human religion thinking of it as God; however in Warcraft 2 the Light was the Judeo-Christian God) and can be called upon if you assume that you can (unless you're drawing on another power besides Arcane). The Void eats things and can turn you insane, yet also grants willpower to living beings.
Originally the Light vs Void conflict was Good vs Evil, but Blizzard muddied the waters by applying the "morally grey" brush to the Light by having some followers be ruthless and having people listening to the Void fighting its corrupting influence. At worst, the Light vs Void conflict is now a Yin vs Yang type deal, but their end goals are still different (Light nurtures while Void consumes, and the Void's endgame is to corrupt a Titan and destroy everything else).
Naaru and Voidwalkers
The angels of the setting, known as Naaru, are glowing windchimes/runes that are extremely powerful but do not do much. Despite the Light's primary enemy being the Void, the lead Naaru concentrated her efforts on fighting the Burning Legion until her story turned to Skub and Blizzard flushed it down the toilet to shill Illidan. The Voidwalkers are void-elementals that act like demons but are not. When a naaru dies, it becomes a void god and starts eating things, unless it is completely destroyed (since Xe'ra didn't turn into a Void God when she was jobbed to shill Illidan) or can be reset to being a Naaru. When a voidwalker dies, it returns to the void. Naaru can build crystalline spaceships, which the draenei then crash.
It turns out that the voidwalkers are now the primary evil force in the setting. Not just the Void being the source of metaphysical evil, but the voidwalker leadership disturbing Sargeras into creating the Burning Legion in order to stop them, and inventing the Old Gods as planet-eating, people-corrupting probes.
Basically the Warp, but much less inherently evil if you factor out the locals. The line between the flow of the Light and the ebb of the Void. Full of demons, ones that are actually flesh and blood rather than ethereal-turning-temporarily-corporeal monsters. Also full of magic that nearly all generic magical spells use. There's even only one instance of the Twisting Nether in the Warcraft multiverse.
Heavy-metal terraformers. Lawful Neutral beings that benevolently order planets to promote life throughout the cosmos, these metallic space-giants are based on the Norse and Greek pantheons (with a little bit of Egyptian, and an even smaller bit of Chinese). Born from planets with souls, those planets eventually hatch (without destroying the planet) and the titan goes off and does whatever. Their creations tend to either be apathetic or outright Lawful Stupid (their highest-ranking servant Exterminatus-ing a 'million million' lives [or one trillion for a better idea] because they were flawed), but they usually mean well ('flawed' can mean being eaten by giant sentient space cancer; see below). Their leaders are large enough to wield blades that cleave planets in half. In earlier lore they were still running about, but in the current they are all dead at the hands of their champion turned traitor Sargeras (who was killed during the War of the Ancients due to a portal closing on either his main body or his primary avatar, but his soul survived).
The Titans souls survived, dwelling in the Titanic watchers of Azeroth for a time until Sargeras got the Burning Legion to capture the other Titans' souls. He had already turned the unborn Titan Argus into fuel so the demons can come back from things that would otherwise permanently kill them. His master plan was to restore the Titan Pantheon to their full power, but have the others under his control - he succeeded in turning his former understudy in demon-killing, Aggramar, then Sargeras planned to birth the Titan Azeroth and make her his consort and finish his work of killing everything in the universe.
Elune (or Mu'sha, as she is called by the tauren) is the primary goddess of the night elf pantheon. She is associated with the larger of Azeroth's two moons, the White Lady, and is widely considered to be the mother of Cenarius, the forest lord and patron god of all druids. Speculation about what Elune is and her nature abound throughout the lore and the fandom (the most popular fan theories call her a Naaru or another name for the titan Azeroth). Confirmed miracles include protecting Tyrande from Archimonde, empowering Moonwells and purifying Ysera's spirit and the Tear of Elune.
Recent lore indicates that Elune made the Naaru and is connected to the Light. Khadgar states it as a theory, the Tear of Elune unlocks Light's Heart and the Prime Naaru Xe'ra stated she and other Naaru were made during something called "the Ordering of the Cosmos", making Xe'ra at least as old as the Titans. This could make Elune either the Light-based counterpoint of the Void Lords or the Warcraft universe's version of God. Interestingly, in Warcraft 3, Elune was referred to as Azeroth's "only true deity", and that was at the same point when the Titans, the Earth Mother revered by the Tauren and Wild Gods like Cenarius had been introduced to the setting.... assuming Blizzard doesn't just retcon this lore too.
The Wild Gods
Eventually, a planet with life on it will just start producing giant immortal animals. If they hang out with night elves, they are Ancient Guardians. If they hang out with trolls, they are Loa. If they hang out with pandas, they are August Celestials. Their children can either be humanoid animals or just intelligent animals. On Azeroth, the servants of the titans connected them to the Emerald Dream and taught some of them to talk.
The Emerald Dream
Basically the Feywild, despite possibly pre-dating it.
The Emerald Dream is an unchanging copy of Azeroth's natural world, untouched by civilization. It serves as the afterlife for plants and animals. It is a universal force, but the titan's nailed down Azeroth's after the Old Gods messed with it, making it somewhat separate. Through the surreal Dreamways, this blueprint is connected to the subconscious mind of every living thing on the planet.
A force called the Nightmare emerged after the Third War to mess things up and make the entire dream twisted and surreal, driving wildlife and green dragons insane, promoting deviation and mutation in lifeforms, and severing the souls of sleeping druids from their bodies. The responsible party turned out to be Xavius working for the Old Gods.
Basically the Shadowfell, despite possibly pre-dating it.
The Shadowlands are a grey echo of the living world as it is, inhabited by the ghosts of intelligent creatures and the spirit healers (feral titan creations who send back souls that died before their time). Things lurk in it... that is it. Oh wait, it is actually a series of floating afterlife-continents that souls are sorted into.
The Old Gods
Giant Cthulhu space cancer that may or may not be indestructible. They corrupt elementals and everyone else. In older lore they acted on their own, but they go retconed into being creations of the Void Lords. Their primary purpose is to corrupt a titan world-soul and become unstoppable universe-eaters. Chained beneath Azeroth due to presumed indestructibility (and the very bad side effects of trying to kill them) by the titans. They are breaking out one by one. The four Old Gods (on Azeroth) are:
- C'Thun - Imprisoned in a massive desert in the southwest of Azeroth, this Old God commands an army of insect creatures that infested the research station that was built around its body (it had arachnid minions, but they were separated during a war and became atheists before they all died; Northrend's Nerubians are descended from them). It consists of a fleshy body covered in eyes with a mouth on top and tentacles everywhere. Feigning death after a battle with a titan, it was able to heal enough to pose a threat yet again.
- Yogg-Saron - Imprisoned in the far north of Azeroth, this Old God corrupted the leadership of the remaining titan minions on Azeroth before almost breaking out. It was only imprisoned because at that point the Titans learned killing Old Gods had very bad side effects for the world, so it was imprisoned and its power contained. Its body is covered in mouths, even where it looks like there should be eyes, and it also has a tentacle theme going. Its blood can be strip-mined and made into decently powerful things. Claims to have invented Death, and was implied to be fighting the Lich King for control of the Scourge. Has minions called the faceless ones (think Illithid, but with no mouth).
- N'Zoth - Imprisoned somewhere under an ocean, this Old God corrupted the Emerald Dream into the Emerald Nightmare and commanded Deathwing to blow up Azeroth. Has different faceless one minions. Looks like a multi-eyed octopus with a crown of teeth around its head. Also invented Naga and worked with Azshara to escape his prison. Raised the city of
R'ylehNya'lotha and started driving people around the world insane.
- Y'Shaarj - The former Old God king. Got one-shot by Aman'thul, the leader of the titans, leaving the Well of Eternity as a bleeding wound in the world. "Imprisoned" in the center of Pandaria, this Old God died in the war with the titans, leaving only its heart instead of a giant mass of flesh embedded into the planet. Had some bro-ish mantis minions. Its death caused negative emotions in Pandaria to turn into monsters that look like spiky tentacle monsters covered in oil. After the destruction of its heart, it went from dead-dead to dead-dead-dead.
- Something somewhere - There used to be a fifth Old God, but Blizzard seemed to have decided/realized they had no plans for it so they retconned it out of existence. It might have been eaten except for a single claw that became a dagger. May have originally intended to be Azeroth itself (check the name; Azeroth -> Azathoth). Later retconned to be G'huun.
- G'huun - After trying to make a substance that kills the Old Gods without harming their surroundings (see Y'Shaarj), the titans ended up accidentally making a fifth one, themed after rot, so they put the facility into lockdown to keep it contained there. Imprisoned in the swamps to the north of the Zandalari Empire, a corpulent slug with stubby legs and a lamprey-like mouth. He teaches the secret of Blood Magic, and had corrupted several of the titan's creations.
The Burning Legion
A militarized demonic army created when Sargeras, a titan tasked with defending creation, saw the ever-respawning, ever-dickish, and ever-hungry nature of demons and went nuts. Now they systematically unmake the multiverse to undo the metaphysical flaw that allowed them to exist in the first place. Azeroth is the only known world where they failed.
The aforementioned flaw turns out to be the Void, but demons were a secondary problem, not the problem: the Old Gods corrupting fetal titans was. Now the universe has to be unmade without the Void, but Light + Void = matter and demons hate the light too so no idea how that works.
Azeroth is so far the only world to ever withstand one of the Burning Legion's invasions. They did not take well to this and have been plotting to get even, but since just marching in failed they made plans to create another army to soften up any defenses that could impede them. Revenge Plan A was the Orc Horde, which nearly worked until the Orcs lost, and settled down and became among the defenders of the world they were supposed to destroy. Oops. Revenge Plan B (their second invasion) was the Undead Scourge, led by the Lich King, which succeeded in obliterating the human kingdoms of Lordaeron and Alterac; almost obliterating the elf kingdom of Quel'thalas; corrupting the Sunwell; forcing the human kingdoms of Gilneas, Dalaran, and Kul Tiras into hibernation; sapping Stromgarde's military forces just enough for it to be destroyed by ogres; and generally making a mess of the only organized military force in the eastern hemisphere. By the time they were done, Stormwind was the only human kingdom (out of the original seven) still in existence and in contact with the outside world. This plan hit a snag due to three factors: an extremely large faction of Scourge, led by Sylvanas Windrunner, broke free from the Lich King's control, signed a pact with the Horde, and became a resistance force just as powerful as the kingdoms it replaced; Lich King freed from its prison after Illidan (who was forced to re-fulfill Kil'jaeden's request to destroy the lich king after his first failure) beaten in a duel against Arthas and allowed him to merge and become the Lich King's host; The Invasion of Kalimdor was going well until in the final phase when Archimonde the defiler was met with the combine forces of night elves, humans and orcs, who were buying time for Malfurion to dealt the final blow against Archimonde and made the invaders run between their tails with their leader dead. Revenge Plan C was to funnel their forces through Outland, which became a portal hub when Ner'zhul made it into one to escape the Alliance. Retroactively, this is not seen as an invasion because they never made it to Azeroth in force. Revenge Plan D was just to show up again using the Tomb of Sargeras (a second portal was buried there and sealed, and they went through one of two Gul'dans before they managed to open it).
The War of the Ancients
The most important event in the backstory. Exactly 10,000 years before the Dark Portal opened and the orcs invaded Azeroth, the night elf empire ruled nearly all of the old super-continent of Kalimdor. Their leader, Queen Azshara, was the most vain, egotistical jerk that you can imagine, but her public face was that of the perfect queen. Wanting to kill off everything that was ugly, not an elf, or poor and become queen of everything forever she and her chief advisor Xavius found Sargeras and she decided that a massive omnicidal giant of molten bronze would make a good husband. She helps the demons invade and many heroes are killed. A resistance movement forms, mostly Night Elves and dragons but there are other participants, that eventually blows up the Well of Eternity. The aftereffects were many: The super-continent was split into four smaller continents and some islands that all lost contact with each other, Sargeras essentially died, Queen Azshara and her servitors became the naga, Xavius' followers became the satyr, the black dragonflight turned evil, and the remaining night elves became druids and left their old cities to rot and went from a nepotistic monarchy to a meritocracy/theocracy combo society. Also, the Old Gods tried to break out by first rewriting history to make sure that they never lost to the titans in the first place (which they failed at, but fixing that took the bronze dragon leader Nozdormu out of the war), and then by redirecting Sargeras' summoning portal to their prisons (which almost worked, and nearly happened again in Legion).
The Undead Scourge
An army of undead made by the Burning Legion to act as a replacement for the orcs. The demon Kil'jaeden, second in command of the Burning Legion under Sargeras, made this army when he took an Orc named Ner'zhul and used unholy tortures to force him into forming this undead force. After Ner'zhul agreed to serve Kil'jaeden again, his disembodied soul was put into a suit of armor frozen in a block of ice known as the Lich King. During this time he experimented with dark magic and plagues, his main creation being a magical plague that turned creatures (mainly humans) into undead minions that were telepathically controlled by the Lich King. After warring with some spider-people called Nerubians, he turned many of them into his undead minions and adopted their architectural style for the Scourge. From then on he sent forces to Lorderaen. There the plague was distributed by Kel'Thuzad, a mage from the human kingdoms who was fascinated with necromancy, went mad with power and made a deal with the Lich King that led to him becoming a lich. They took over Northrend and Lordaeron.
They were also kept on a short leash serving the Burning Legion by a subfaction of demons called the Dreadlords, since Ner'zhul was helping the Legion under duress and knew they considered him expendable. He made an escape plan, using Arthas, a former human prince and paladin turned into an undead Death Knight, as a pawn/host. After helping Kel'thuzad and Ner'zhul uphold their end of the deal serving the Burning Legion, Ner'zhul got the Scourge to indirectly undermine the Legion. With the dreadlords focused on helping their fellow demons and not paying attention to the undead, the Scourge went AWOL and started doing their own evil things.
After the Burning Legion's second defeat, Kil'jaeden was mad at the Lich King for going rogue so he looked for someone to kill him. He eventually found and gave the task to Illidan Stormrage, a roguish Night Elf and light BDSM enthusiast, now turned to a renegade half-Night Elf, half-demon light BDSM enthusiast. (Though Illidan had no stakes in this game, this task was of the "offer you can't refuse" variety, the deal sweetened by Kil'jaeden offering to feed his magic crack addiction) Illidan gathered up his followers and used an artifact to melt the Lich King from two continents away, but Illidan was stopped halfway when his brother Malfurion
beat him up nicely asked him to stop. Illidan was now forced to go to Northrend and finish the job in person, but he got his ass handed to him by Spiderman the undead leader of the spider-people and Arthas, now the Lich King's champion and the protagonist of the Undead campaign.
During all this, the Lich King's ice had cracked open and he wasn't feeling too well. Because he wasn't in top shape, about half of the Scourge woke up and threw off the Lich King's control, becoming a new faction called the Forsaken. The Forsaken took control of Lordaeron and would go on to do lots of evil of their own, but would maintain the image of being the edgy, morally-ambiguous faction. The Lich King got better by getting himself a new body by possessing/fusing with Arthas. Arthas the preceded to beatdown Ner'zhul's spirit so he was calling the shots instead. Though he would have to consolidate, this whole fiasco was more or less over, and the Lich King decided he needed some rest and took a nap for several years. Though they were mostly quiet until the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, the Scourge continued actions to keep their hold on their half of Lordaeron, occasionally made some noise to remind the player base that they were still a thing, and also expanded to include such things as undead dragons and elf vampires.
By the time the Burning Legion showed up in... Legion, the Lich King was now a former paladin named Bolvar, and he made an alliance with the Death Knights of the Ebon Blade (now led by the player characters) and has started to bolster his forces (angering the Red Dragonflight and stepping on the toes of the Paladin order in the process) to fight the demons. However, there were rumblings that Lich King Bolvar wouldn't keep the Scourge passive for much longer, but these have been waylaid as Sylvanas made a deal with a major death entity and her Grim Reaper sugar daddy gave her powers that allowed her to plot armor her way to victory over the Lich King. He was last seen chained up on Icecrown while Sylvanas shattered the helm, destroying the Lich King as an entity but still keeping undead Bolvar as the Scourge boss-man.
On Azeroth, to counter the five Old Gods, the titans empowered five colors of dragons each lead by an Aspect to watch over various things on Azeroth. The God-Aspect relationship is not 1:1.
- Reds led by the Dragonqueen Alexstrasza the Life-Binder protect life, and generally only kill mortals when the Reds are enslaved or acting as giant 'keep out' signs when the mortals are doing something stupid.
- Greens led by Ysera the Dreamer watch over a giant blueprint of the planet called the Emerald Dream, which is an alternate plane or even a series of planes tied into the planet. They are more savage than the reds, but also sleepier. Mercy killed by Tyrande and the Night Elves after infected with the Emerald Nightmare by Xavius, but Elune cleansed her soul which resides in the purified part of the Emerald Dream.
- Blues led by Malygos the Spell-Weaver protect mortals from magic, and magic from mortals. After getting slaughtered in the War of the Ancients, Malygos went crazy and into a deep depression, which kept him from doing his job for about 10 millennia. With time travel fixing their numbers and some delicious nether dragons fixing their unstable leader, Malygos decided to make up for lost time by killing all mortal spellcasters and blasting all magic into space (which is bad). Killed in Wrath by the player characters and red dragons on the orders of the remaining Aspects after failing to show up for his trial.
- Bronzes led by Nozdormu the Timeless One keep time from being altered. They are nice enough, but their primary character trait of "stoicism" tends for them be pretty boring as individuals, then the one who wasn't like that turned out to be an idiotic megalomanic who was quickly killed off. Norzdomu's still alive, but fated to turn evil and die in the future.
- Blacks led by Neltharion the Earth-Warder to keep geology stable. Having a sucky job that was right next to the Old Gods caused their leader to go insane and become Deathwing, the Aspect of Death and a Saturday morning cartoon villain. He was actually a plenty good schemer until he got made so powerful in the Cataclysm expansion that the only thing keeping him from winning was that he just... didn't get around to doing it. Killed by the combined efforts of the players, the Dragon Aspects and Thrall.
- Chromatic dragons are evil mixtures of all types of dragons, made by Deathwing's eldest son Nefarian. Chromatus was the most powerful one produced, and was killed and his body locked in a magic vault since his artificial nature and powers combined from the dragonflights has rendered him unkillable (enough magic will turn him on again).
- Nether dragons are black dragons corrupted by the Twisting Nether which turned them into weird ethereal dragons made of magic, though they turn sane (feral at worst) at the cost of their lifespan. Mostly there to be used by evil forces but the player characters can befriend some. Led by Neltharaku.
- Twilight dragons are any color infused with nether dragon essence and the energies of the Old Gods. Replacements for the chromatics. Dargonax was the first, Ultraxion was the biggest, but they work directly for Deathwing.
In a particularly derp moment, it turns out that the Aspects knew little of the Old Gods, and were created based on a vague vision of a single break-out attempt (via Deathwing, who only came to power via the vision). After Deathwing was extinguished, the Aspects became mortal and all dragons became somehow incapable of reproducing.
Azeroth is the kingdom/subcontinent/continent/planet that the series mostly takes place on. The planet's most apparent feature is the perpetual war where generic humans and their friends fight alien orcs and their friends. The planet's most notable feature is that this perpetual war makes both sides very prepared to temporarily ally and fight threats much worse than each other... before going right back to fighting over land.
Formerly a world with a single ocean and a pangaeic continent, the "perfect" continent exploded during the last phase of the War of the Ancients between the night elves and a demonic army known as the Burning Legion. This caused the middle section to sink leaving only a few islands and a giant magical hurricane-whirlpool while the outer sections became separate continents.
Apparently the determination and plot armor of the planet's residents comes from the dead titan soul of the world manifesting inside of the player characters.
A generic Medieval fantasy continent in about as much Medieval Stasis as Warhammer Fantasy was. There is not much that is not a kingdom on this continent. As far as "unclaimed" areas go, there are the orc territories around Blackrock Mountain. They stole Blackrock Spire from the Dark Irons, banishing them to their own basements. The titular kingdoms are:
The Human Kingdoms
- Stormwind: The first kingdom to be attacked by the orcs and the only human kingdom to remain as a major power after it was rebuilt. It serves as the seat of the Alliance' power and the capital (also called Stormwind) is among the most cosmopolitan and rich cities on the planet. The Kingdom also houses the infamous Goldshire, the greatest den of scum and villany in the Eastern Kingdoms
- Lordaeron: The biggest and most religious kingdom. It took center stage in the plot after Stormwind fell, but was eventually corrupted and driven to ruin by Arthas after being turned into a Death Knight in the third game. Now called "The Plaguelands", it's now a barren hellscape dotted with undead strongholds and a miasma-filled atmosphere, with only a few crusader factions still staying inside. Its capital city, also named Lordaeron was taken over by the Forsaken Undead for a long time, but was recently bombed by the Plague by the Forsaken's leader herself in a gambit. and is now an actually dead ruin.
- Gilneas: The second largest kingdom themed after an industrialized Regency-era England. They walled themselves off from being taxed by a rival sovereign power and the subsequent undead. Then they became werewolves, lost all of their land to different undead and climate change on bathsalts, and became a part of night elves culturally. Lore-wise, they're slowly rebuilding their capital of... Gilneas. See a pattern here?
- Dalaran: A single citystate full of mages. After being invaded by Arthas for a magical tome and subsequently nuked by an Eredar lord named Archimonde in the third game, the remaining citizens walled themselves off from the outside world... Until WoTLK, where they not only restored Dalaran to its shining self, but made made it airborne. Currently hovering around the Broken Isles and acting as a hub city for all factions. Neutral to the two factions, though they do take more of a shine to the Alliance.
- Kul Tiras: A naval kingdom loosely based on pre-industrial Britain or Denmark. They had an enormous navy.
Its navy was last seen in the WC3,being led by its "Lord Admiral Daelin Proudmoore", where he attempted to wage war again against the newly formed Horde and lost. A sovereign state, but technically not a kingdom due to the Lord Admiral being a noble but not royalty somehow (there are four houses, none of which rule). Featured prominently in BFA; extremely cockney and very maritime in all things they do.
- Stromgarde: A kingdom made from those who stayed behind to defend the aging capital of the first human kingdom. Things didn't go so well as Stromgarde is now ruined and infested with criminal scum, ogres, and trolls.
- Alterac: The weakest kingdom. A kingdom of rogues that allied with the Horde, only to be crushed by the other human kingdoms. Now a criminal syndicate in Stromgarde's lands with their capital as a frozen, ogre-infested wasteland.
The Dwarf Clans
- The Bronzebeards: Generic dwarves based in the city of Ironforge. Famous for their smithing and their Mountaineers; rangers with huge guns that partol the peaks of the Khaz Modan, the Empire of the Dwarves.
- Gnomeregan: Tinker gnomes that do not do much beside trying to regain their lost city. BFFs with the Bronzebeards and technically a protectorate.
- The Wildhammers: Dwarves that ride gryphons. They don't really have a city (having lost Grim Batol). They have the aviary of Aerie Peak and various other peaks and villages, but tend to avoid civilization in favor of the freedom of nature. Has actual Shamans.
- The Dark Irons: Shadowy dwarf sorcerers that live in Shadowforge City under Blackrock Mountain. Played with powers they shouldn't have and summoned Ragnaros, the lord of the Fire Elementals, who created Blackrock Mountain and enslaved them until his defeat. Originally kind of like discount Chaos Dwarfs but somewhat less evil, until Cataclysm, where their then-new Queen made attempts to improve relations with the two other clans. They are now considered to be a part of the Alliance, though they still work hard to show they actually aren't evil anymore. Well, not that evil...
The Troll Empires
- Amani Empire: Giant forest trolls with Cuban accents. Originally part of the Horde in the olden days, they've fallen on hard times after the High Elves and human kingdoms drove them off, leaving their cities in ruins. Their leader, Zul'jin, was revealed to be alive and is highly pissed off at the Horde for allying with the Blood Elves before subsequently getting murderized by the Horde in their capital of Zul'aman. Later allied with the Zandalari to take over the world but were once again defeated, this time by the Darkspear Tribe(Jungle Trolls that joined the Horde.)
- Gurubashi Empire: Jungle trolls with Jamaican accents. Had a massive flood followed by a civil war over excessive blood sacrifices to an evil god. Also in ruins. Also joined the Zandalari to take over the world, then some guy tried to eat the aforementioned god but got eaten instead due to the intervention of adventurers.
- Drakkari Empire: Trolls native to Northrend. Pretty much everyone was killed and raised by the Scourge, only to regain free will after the Lich King's defeat. Probably the second least relevant troll empire after the Farraki (sand trolls) these days.
- Zandalari Empire: The only troll empire to remain remotely intact (and relevant for that matter) in the present day. First introduced when they sought aid in helping the Gurubashi overthrow their evil blood-drinking god. Later, the Cataclysm caused their home-island to start sinking into the sea, so some guy named Zul tried to unite the trolls of the world to take new lands to live on, only to fail. They tried to do the same later when they went to Pandaria and allied with the Mogu, but once again failed. Will ultimately throw their lot in with the Horde in the BFA expansion. Also they have dinosaurs and can functionally be Paladins through worship of the Loa Rezan.
- Quel'thalas: The main stronghold of the High Elves. It housed the primary capital city of the elves named "Silvermoon" and also the Sunwell; the High Elves primary source of magic. In the third game, Arthas curbstomped Silvermoon and corrupted the Sunwell to resurrect a Lich named "Kel'Thuzad", leaving the majority of the High Elves dead and the rest went into hiding. By the first expansion, Silvermoon was partially rebuilt by the survivors, who renamed themselves Blood Elves, and are currently using it as their main capital city again. Its still, however, a shadow of its former glory. The majority of Quel'thalas is still infested by blight, undead remnants of the previous invasion, and grumpy Amani trolls. Allied with the Horde for pragmatic reasons in Burning Crusade, but has since come to consider the Horde as true allies.
A less civilized continent (how are Night Elves less civilized?), preserving elements from the old super-continent. It has the forests of the night elves to the north, the orc-conquered Barrens in the center, and largely unclaimed deserts to the south. The orcs, living in a sucky climate and loving conquest, are constantly trying to take lumber and land from the night elves. Major groups:
- Orgrimmar - Capital of the Nation of Durotar, as well as the Horde. A clanless group of united orcs made of mostly Blackrock, Warsong, and Frostwolf.
- Thunder Bluff - Capital of Mulgore. All the tauren tribes live here except the evil Grimtotem clan.
- Darkspear Tribe - Banished by the other jungle troll tribes to an island, they are trolls who are also Jamaican and allied with the Horde, currently residing in Kalimdor after Thrall led his clan's mass exodus to the west.
They're led by a Shadow Hunter named Vol'Jin.More or less lack a leader following the death of Vol'jin because Blizzard doesn't think they're important enough to have a representative.
- Ashenvale - A large forest on the north of the continent and homeland of the Night Elves. They had a vicious foreign policy, which was relaxed during the Third War, except when hostilities reignited with the Horde. This culminated in the War of Thorns where the Night Elves were ousted by the Horde, but then regrouped to take back their ancestral lands.
- Teldrassil - The main home of the Night Elves. Its capital is named "Darnassus" and is where the seat of Night Elf power is located in. Burnt down by Sylvanas using Azerite-infused siege weapons in the latest expansion.
- Exodar - A crashed spaceship where the draenei live.
- Theramore - A newer city-state made up of survivors of Lordaeron led by Jaina Proudmoore. Was the (rather small in the game) capital of the Alliance, but eventually ceded more and more authority to Stormwind until Garrosh nuked it.
Basically the North Pole of Azeroth. Way before Lich King's domination, it was the battlefield of Aegwynn, the guardian of Azeroth and Sargeras, the leader of the burning legion. The battle ended with Sargeras defeated but somehow cursed her by possessing her infant son Medivh before he was even conceived.
It used to be populated by the Nerubians, a race of intelligent arachnid who was known as Aqir that had survived the continent cracking event known as Sundering, that had split Kalimdor from Northrend. Nerubians like their cousin Aqir are a cruel and xenophobic species with a hard on for culture and engineering, as well as architecture. Basically Arachnid Nazi Eskimo Egyptian, though there are like 12 still alive and they are willing to pay people to help them get revenge.
Northrend was also a good place for dragons to die which many dragons will fly to the Dragonblight at Northrend when they are near their life's end.
The Lich King (Ner'zhul) landed here when he was thrown to Azeroth by Kil'jaeden as a WMD to further the demon's plan. He fought the Nerubians and were won through attrition warfare with a little help from dreadlords. Many Nerubians were mostly killed by the Lich King and made into spider mummies with their king Anub'arak turned into his slave. The Lich King, who was working for the Burning Legion at the time, spread his undead plague southward into human lands. By doing so, he infected and mind controlled some humans into his ranks creating his very own undead army: the Scourge. The Scourge's purpose is to follow the Lich King's will, kill all humans, and find a way to bring the Burning Legion in full force to Azeroth. During the conflict with humans, Prince Arthas came to Northrend to hunt down Mal'Ganis (the Lich King's demon overseer) and decided to take this totally-evil-sword Frostmourne because it gives him the strength to kill Mal'Ganis. Obviously, it turned Arthas so evil that he killed his own father, finished off his kingdom, and brought doom to the high elves.
Illidan had tried to destroy Northrend with The Eye of Sargeras with his fish people (Naga), but he was interrupted by his brother and his bitch of a warden. It did however weaken the Lich King due to the earthquakes Illidan had caused, forcing Arthas to come to Northrend and abandon Lordaeron to the Forsaken. When Arthas came to Northrend to save the Lich King, Illidan and his friends were there to stop him and they had an epic fight. Illidan lost like a bitch and Arthas became one with the Lich King. Also, an Old God called Yogg-Saron lives below Northrend in a massive titan facility built around main body.
Land of pandas and Chinese things. Once a region dominated by a titan-created race of lion statue-men called the mogu, the pandaren broke free with booze, martial arts, and friendship. The "death" of the Old God Y'Shaarj left the land cursed by emotion-creatures called the sha. After giving form to and kicking the asses of (with harmony, not ass-kicking) the sha, the last emperor of Pandaria used the magic mists of pride to isolate the region from the exploding super-continent, forming the island-continent as it is.
- Zandalar - True homeland of the trolls. Home of the last intact troll empire and cities of gold... until Deathwing sank it. Now it has sent out a golden fleet to screw over other troll tribes for resources (under the guise of helping them) and begging the remaining mogu for a home. Apparently a continent.
- Broken Isles - The ancient night elf city of Suramar was used to house the remains of the Avatar of Sargeras when he was killed as part of a convoluted gambit to infiltrate the planet (his soul possessed the unborn child of the one who was supposed to be keeping demons away, and that child summoned the orcs). The island was later raised by orc warlocks seeking power from the body. Apparently a continent.
- Kezan - The industrialized home of the goblins. It was where Pandaria is, but that was changed. Had the trade-capital of Undermine. Destroyed when Deathwing set off its volcano.
- Plunder Isle - Has pirates.
- Tel Abim - Has bananas.
- Tol Barad - A tiny, fallen kingdom turned into maximum-security prison that keeps changing hands.
The other planet visited in the setting. Savage homeworld of the orcs, the ogres, and (adopted by) the draenei. The orcs were recruited here by the Burning Legion to kill the draenei (rebel aliens and their descendants who rejected demonhood), and then were redirected for round two of trying to kill Azeroth. Too many escape portals opened after the orcs' defeat by the humans caused the planet to explode, leaving habitable chunks in the Twisting Nether called Outland. Much of its ecosystem was killed by Orc warlocks playing with dark magic.
Rivaling the human kingdoms were the orc clans. Currently, most are defunct. There were savage and semi-peaceful hunter-gatherers before warlocks gave them new magic, some technology and the unity of genocidal goals.
- Blackrock clan - Basic militant orcs, led by Blackhand the Destroyer. Later led by his ambiguously noble second-in-command Ogrim Doomhammer. Most were folded into the new Horde, but those who retained the name eventually merged with the Black Tooth Grin and maintained the Blackrock name.
- Stormreaver clan - Warlocks, led by Gul'dan.
- Twilight's Hammer clan - Doomsday cult seeking any means they can destroy the world. After the war they broke off from the warlocks and became Old God worshipers. Led by the ogre Cho'Gall, formerly Gul'dan's right hand man.
- Black Tooth Grin clan - Blackhand's kids got their own clan. Punching out a tooth is a rite of passage. Absorbed back with the Blackrocks at some point.
- Bleeding Hollow clan - Rips out an eye to view their deaths. Lead by Kilrogg Deadeye.
- Dragonmaw clan - Rides dragons. Maintained one of the last Orc strongholds after the original Horde's defeat until some scheming by Deathwing, and things going Not As Planned released the dragons.
- Burning Blade clan - Samurai. Eventually nearly wiped out, but the survivors became badass mercenaries.
- Shadowmoon clan - Also warlocks, but later said to be shadow priests. Led by Ner'zhul.
- Warsong clan - Crazy wolfriders. Led by Grom Hellscream.
- Shattered Hand clan - Replaces a hand with a blade. Led by Kargath Bladefist.
- Thunderlord clan - Hunts giants. Tames giant things.
- Laughing Skull clan - Pyromaniacs. Previously led by an ogre and sided with humans.
- Bonechewer clan - Cannibals.
- Frostwolf clan - "Good" wolfrider orcs. Thrall is from this clan.
- Flowerpicker clan - A gag name for the unused blue team color for the Horde in campaign mode of Warcraft II. Made possibly canon as Orc ninjas in Warlords Of Draenor.
In the past of an alternate universe, orcs were given a simple coal engine and a warning about the price of deals with the Burning Legion, so they never made any deals with any demons. These orcs try to invade modern Azeroth anyway while simultaneously trying to conquer their own planet. After the orcs' defeat, they go back to the demons. When the demons are defeated, the planet is freed and the remaining orcs are friendly to all parties
(for reasons) because Blizzard messed up the expansion and decided to end it prematurely to move on to Legion, leaving behind things such as an entire continent supposed to house the Ogre empire, and the island of Farahlon which was originally supposed to be where the Primals hang out.
It's visited again but somehow 30 years in the future (Except it's just catching up to the present for reasons) despite nobody ever wanting to touch it again (except avid Orc roleplayers because holy shit is Draenor gorgeous.) The resident Draenei lead by Yrel joined the Orcs in cleaning up the remnants of the Burning Legion. Afterwards the Draenei evangelized the Light to the Orcs at the behest of some Naaru. When some Orcs refused the Draenei waged war to force them to convert; there's also the fact that some Draenei might be sore with the Orcs over the Iron Horde, but the story glosses over that because gotta give the Light a bad side. The Ogres sitting on the sidelines had beef with the Orcs and saw the Draenei as the winning side so they turned to the Light, bolstering the Draenei battleline. Durotan died offscreen but makes sure to have rule 63 Thrall beforehand and Grom still lives but manages to have a son that converts to the Light and leads this combined army dubbed the "Lightbound" by the Orcs. All of this is for the sole purpose of adding the Mag'har allied race
despite having a whole bunch in actual draenor sitting around doing nothing. because the Mag'har from Outland have pretty much already joined the Horde because their homeworld is slowly falling apart. Following the recruitment of the Mag'har, Draenor seems to be shut off forever, much to the chagrin of Orc roleplayers who love the place and just want to hang out there (seriously Draenor is great if you ignore the shitty content of its accompanying expansion).
The "savage" geography of this Draenor is shaped by three warring factions of giants: the desert-loving Breakers (made of rocks and lava), the jungle-loving Primals (made of plants), and a third faction that showed up called the Zangar (aquatic fungus that used to be Primals). The Primals seem to be wiped out by the Orcs come Battle for Azeroth (another reason the Draenei cited for the war).
Factions and races
In WoW, you have the option of siding with either the Alliance or Horde. The different factions have different races available to them. Everything else is 'other'.
The Alliance are portrayed as the "more-civilized-than-thou" faction in the game. While they have a lot of the same bigotry as the Horde, Horde bigotry leads to threats and murder while in the Alliance its segregation and insults. Despite this the Alliance remains the more united faction, and the general theme is races trying to reclaim what was lost (always at the hands of the races of the Horde, leading to the question of forgiveness or justice as the way to move forward).
Your bog-standard humans. As far as it's known, humanity worships a vaguely defined entity comprised of collective will called the Holy Light (which may or may not be an actual sentient being). Pre-WoW continuity was basically Catholic, later continuity made their faith extremely vague with suggestions that they had a polytheistic background that became godless. Humans originally came from 7 kingdoms, although by the time of WoW all but two (one of which is comprised of Elves and Gnomes as well) have been destroyed with very few survivors. Humans are descended from robots created by the Titans, which later became fleshy viking Giants who started giving birth to tiny and softer-skinned children that were the ancestors of mankind. Apparently, many humans share a sever case of inward directed victim blaming. Thanks, Chris.
They're Dwarves. They like shooting with guns and hitting stuff with hammers. They've also perfected steam technology, bringing tanks onto the battlefield for the Alliance. Dwarves come in three subraces; Bronzebeard Dwarves, Dark Iron Dwarves, and Wildhammer Dwarves. This mattered a great deal early on in Warcraft, but after a series of events all three have finally united into one race again. Originally a race of robots designed to keep the world being shaped into the designs decided on by the Titans, they gradually turned fleshy until going dormant and waking up not knowing who or what they were while in an underground cavern. The city they turned the cavern into became their holiest site, Ironforge.
They are ruled by three major clans:
- Bronzebeards: The primary playable and standard Warcraft Dwarves that neatly fit the standard Dwarf archtypes. As the name suggests, they have a tendency towards brownish-gingerlike beards although all beard colors are found in the commonfolk of the Bronzebeards. They used to own Ironforge and ruled it alone until Cataclysm, when King Magni accidently turned himself into a giant living diamond and in the power vacuum the Dwarf Council was formed with the two other clans, uniting the Dwarf race for the first time in most of recorded history. These guys are the clan that actually has alliances with the rest of the Alliance; the two others are mostly just in it with them. Their current leader is Muradin Bronzebeard, Magni’s brother.
- Wildhammers: Aesthetically knock-offs of Slayers from Warhammer Fantasy although it can be argued that Wildhammers have even more development than their inspiration, they are the barbarian dwarves that fly griffons into battle, wield Stormhammers (a WARCRAFT DORF version of Mjolnir), and they also get cool blue tattoos. They are so Scottish their accent actually is fitting, and their homes resemble Hobbit Holes. Their skin tends to be ruddier and they have a fair amount more red hair than the other Dwarves. They live in a mountain carved like an eagle, and are not fond of staying inside mountains, weirdly. The Dorfs got Shamans when they reconnected with the Wildhammers, who have a more natural affinity for the world around them. Their main emissary is Falstad Wildhammer - they might not actually have leaders per se.
- Dark-Irons: Once the token EVIL dorfs, they used to scurry inside Blackrock Mountain and were controlled by Ragnaros the Fire Lord. These days many of them are reformed and are part of the Alliance with the rest of the dorfs, and during the Draenor expansion they show that they are pretty cool people (even pranking Yrel). They like magic and even teach new dwarves how to be Warlock and a Mage (or at least used to, until the players learned to do that by themselves). They have charcoal-black skin and burning red eyes, giving them a sort of demonic look. Their leader is Moria Thaurissan, once a Bronzebeard princess who was thought to have been kidnapped by the king of the evil Dark Irons Dagran Thaurissan. Turned out she actually went of her own will and was legit in love with him... Kinda sucked that we killed him, then. Moira is technically regent, ruling until her infant son can take the combined Bronzebeard/Dark Iron throne. When evil they tended to be dirty slavers lead by a refined aristocracy and insane cultists, the ones who have sided with the Council tend more towards aristocrats and tradesmen.
There are also many varieties of Iron Dwarves, the pre-flesh robot form of Dwarves scattered throughout the world. Some have personalities and cultures, others are mere robot slaves to their programming.
Purple-skinned elves. Their ancestors were Trolls, who discovered a massive source of magic - Well of Eternity - and lived near it so long that it turned them into the first Elves. The nobility became hedonistic assholes who suckled the magic, while the peasant classes tapped into the magic of nature and the priesthood that worships the moon goddess Elune discovered Light magic. Their queen, Azshara, went insane and decided that the leader of the Legion was her husband and had her servants begin summoning him into the world along with the rest of his army to wipe out all all but her and the nobility. This caused the leader of the peasantry named Malfurion and the high priestess of Elune named Tyrande (who were lovers) to lead a rebellion against her. Most of the crazed nobility, following their failure to accommodate their illustrious queen and her humble hubby delusions of grandeur, were sent down to the bottom of the ocean during the cataclysm known as the Sundering, which involved the original megacontinent to be split into the two continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, caused by them fighting over aforementioned massive source of magic with Malfurion, which caused them to mutate into fishfolk called Naga (courtesy of N'zoth, with whom Azshara made a deal to survive) and destroyed the source of magic, but the magic-addicted twin brother of Malfurion named Illidan (who was his rival for Tyrande's love) saved vials of it. The Elves who refused to swear off magic were sent across the ocean, along with the vials, while Illidan was imprisoned. The male Night Elves (originally, thanks to a retcon just all Druids who were all male at the time) went to hibernate and protect the spiritual side of the world called the Emerald Dream while the female Night Elves (originally, thanks to a retcon just everyone who wasn't a Druid) stayed behind to guard the world.
The first time they appeared in WarCraft III, they were a more hardcore version of Amazon/Celtic Wood Elves, to the point that Grom Hellscream was delighted in fighting them due to their savagery and determination (and got something of a WhyBoner watching them kill his men). Yes. The Night Elves used to be hardcore, savage, moon-worshipping, druidic elves with bitchin leather, cool weapons, sweet powers, and would royally obliterate your ass with nature's wrath if you so much as sneezed at a tree in their home that is Ashenvale Forest.
Basically shorter, more agile dwarves, with voices as if helium was their only source of air. They're Alliance's resident Tech-heads, being paired with their more drunken brethren responsible for the faction's overall technological progress, often tending towards weird Science-esque inventions like shrink rays, death rays, mind control helmets, robot ostrich mounts, and spider tanks which you never get to use, as opposed to more practical steampunkish shit little bearded men pack. Blizzard is notorious for sweeping Gnomes under the rug, leaving them with next to no lore or culture besides standing in the shadow of other Alliances races, metaphorically and literally.
While they get to appear quite often, its almost always just for a tech-related fetch quest and little else. That might, JUST MIGHT be due to all the tanks, walkers, attack choppers armed with actual machine guns and missile launchers, bombers and a freaking power armour that these guys make in no small quantities, which the Alliance NEVER use against the Horde (or anyone else, for that matter, other than making VERY occasional short cameos in some quests and cinematics), FOR SOME REASON. Because magic beats technology - tanks, machine guns and power armor aren't effective against beings who can summon volcanoes (shaman) tsunamis (mage) or meteor showers (mages and warlocks) at will.
Squid-faced, holier-than-thou hippie space goats who worship angel-equivalent aliens made of pure light called Naaru. Technically called Eredar, two thirds of their race joined the Legion as Manari (corrupt) Eredar and became the leadership of the Legion after Sargeras' "death", the Draenei (exile) Eredar have been fleeing from the Legion and trying to combat the forces of evil in between ever since. Have been slaughtered by just about everyone they've met in their history. The exception was the Alliance who welcomed them at the behest of the Night Elves, making them extremely eager and friendly members, though they had to clear up a case of mistaken identity since many Eredar serve the Burning Legion. Speak in vaguely Russian accents. Technically the most scientifically advanced race who can produce electricity, holograms, instant communication, teleportation, and even what can generously be called computers using their crystal magic technology, although they've lost so much over the many holocausts they've suffered that little of it remains. You'd think this would give them plots with the Gnomes, but Draenei are the single most forgotten race in Warcraft to the point that a story involving a meeting of all the racial leaders of the Alliance left out the Draenei completely, which Metzen later had a good laugh about and added references to it later.
One should note that neckbeards get ROCK HARD over Draenei women, and would give up all of their dice and their favorite 40k army to fuck one. Often said to possess massive horse cocks, but these rumours tend to originate from /d/ (in particular the MASSIVE amount of futanari porn that has been produced for them, which was probably inspired by the fact that they have hooves instead of human-like feet).
Cockney werewolves. While the image of Michael Caine transforming into a dire wolf sounds awesome, it's more along the lines of Dick Van Dyke's chim-en-ney sweep with some fur glued on. Formerly humans of Gilneas, their kingdom was ravaged by a bunch of werewolves, then conquered and occupied by the Forsaken of the Horde being warmongering assholes, causing them to join up with the Alliance, after the successful reclamation of the capital city of their nation resulted in Sylvanas killing the king's son and shit-bombing the entire kingdom with so much of her New Plague that it has made the place uninhabitable even by Forsaken standards. Taught to connect to Druidism by Night Elves to control their werewolf side, they've reclaimed their monocle+top hat and blunderbuss+hound ways and even enlisted feral Worgen into their faction as well as some remaining human populace of Silverpine and Hillsbrad - apparently being a Big Bad Wolf with little to none shortcoming and nigh immune to the Plague of Undeath is quite an enticing idea, when you live in a country infested with undead who'd like nothing more than to test some of their new and exiting stamms of chlamydios shit on you only to raise you from the dead for their army when you finally die. Currently, full speed ahead on becoming furry Night Elves themselves, at least culturally, embracing druidism and often abandoning the Church of Light altogether in favour of mixed Elune and Goldrinn worship.
Their king, Genn Greymane (named thus back in the days of Warcraft II, when worgen did not yet even existed, ironically), formerly one of the loudest decriers of the Alliance of Lordaeron, has become one of the most stalwart supporters of the Alliance of Stormwind (basically during the course of a short story and some of the books) and, due to the aforementioned events, is not at all fond of the Forsaken and their Queen, striving to ensure Sylvanas' timely arrival on a date with Arthas in whatever hell the Lich King created for both of them, ever more vehemently since Varian's death and the Burning of Teldrassil, quickly earning the admiration and ire of the respective fanbases.
Despite what some people believe, according to devs there is (dubiously in the case of many Forsaken plotlines) no evil playable faction. The Horde is in some ways as good or bad as the sometimes racist and oppressive Alliance, although the Horde tends to have the most bad seeds in their faction due to poor writing and character handling. The general theme of the Horde is races that have lost a great deal, usually to those within their faction who have also fucked the Alliance, causing them to stop and re-evaluate themselves while building an entirely new path forwards while dealing with the partially justified and partially overzealous vengeance of the blue faction.
Shamanistic warriors who live in the city of Orgrimmar and greater savanna region of Durotar and who, unlike Warhammer or 40k Orcs/Orks, are not entirely made ta fight an’ win, with the added benefit of primary (and not-so-bad-either secondary) sex characteristics, which means they have to reproduce by methods other than scratching their asses. Basically all that "Storm, Earth, and Fire" shit combined with "Victory or Death" mentality. They tend live in edgy and spiky all over black metal buildings with red lighting. The backstory for their place in the world is that their planet was like Vietnam hatefucked death metal album art, then some douchebags in their race sold them out to Demons and tricked them into wiping out every race they encountered before leaving the next generation to pick up the pieces and deal with those among them that have decided being a dumb asshole is a cultural value. Brown-skinned Orcs are natural untainted Orcs, Orcs with grey skin are a subrace of brown Orcs and tend to be highly aggressive (an alternate universe where formerly brown Orcs have grey skin instead of the green they got in the main timeline suggests this isn't a natural occurrence), Orcs with green skin have been exposed to a large amount of Demon magic, Orcs with red eyes and green skin are currently empowered by Demon magic, Orcs with red skin have consumed Demons and are becoming Demonic themselves.
Ever since their first attempts to make friends have been misunderstood for an attempted genocide by the Alliance races, have been chased down by said Alliance races to be properly forgiven for that. Still trying to vehemently befriend everyone around them, but get promptly forgiven time and time again, so it's cool.
Most of their history was retconned in the shitfests known as Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor to make them more evil, then zig-zag on this depending on which part of the fanbase whines the loudest.
The most popular characters of shorstories involving any sort of befriendment of female night elves (
projection much? eww. just eww. you sick Horde! you fucking sick.PROCEED...).
Fairly peaceful Minotaurs that were in a losing war for existence with Centaurs until the Orcs took them on as a welfare case, helping them establish their own land as Mulgore and their capital city of Thunder Bluff which sits on top of massive plateau connected by rope bridges and elevators. Basically HUEG beastly, American-Indian bulls and cows who walk on two legs. Unfortunately, have an extremely passive outlook in the Horde, which has grown even more so ever since the cool old guy Cairn Bloodhoof kicked it after loosing the election to national-socialist candidate and being poised by some douche named Magatha. His son only exiled her allowing and has since been a worthless self hating leader in between exiling his people for attacking military targets, breaking his oaths to the Horde and declaring tauren towns devoid of military forces worthy targets for firebombing by the Alliance. Its widely considered tauren lore died with Cairne. A good way to describe Tauren is they were initially just there to serve as fucking MASSIVE sidekicks to Orcs, inviting all sorts of Forsaken out of the goodness of their hearts into the fold and not much else, then afterwards functioning only as pawns for Baine's pining for humanity.
The Tauren used to be different. Back in WarCraft III they were the "good is not soft" type. Sure, they were peaceful already back then, but if you threatened their home and their allies then you'd be pulverized so hard with their fancy totems that not even bone chunks would be left after you.
Mostly the humans of the kingdom of Lordaeron and the Elves of Silvermoon, plus others that fell to the Undead Scourge Plague since then, which were originally mostly just mindless zombies or ghosts. After Illidan began a spell to weaken and destroy the Frozen Throne and trapped spirit of Ner'zhul while Arthas rushed to save him (before they merged into one being), Sylvanas and the undead Elves regained their free will and used it to start a rebellion, eventually freeing many Undead and returning their souls to them resulting in them going from mindless zombies back to ordinary people.
Among the gray area morality of the races in the game, Forsaken come furthest on the 'evil' end of the spectrum as either through damage to brain/soul, the traumatic unlife they've had or the fact that they were evil people in life, many have become psychopathic sadists. They would be counted still on the grey spectrum were it not for an utterly Skubtastic minor faction called the Royal Apothecary Society, basically a bunch of completely monstrous Fabius Biles of Warcraft.
Said society has a fully funded mad scientist corps devoted to creating a 'perfect plague' as well as perfecting and exercising already existing ones; among its other duties, performs numerous, horrific experiments (Mengele spectrum) on enslaved POW's (this includes a mind-broken ("A little torture, a pinch of magic, and an ample helping of invasive surgery. She was conscious, of course.") human slave named Theresa that wanders the city doing the errands of a minor mad (fucked-up is a better description) scientist, just to show off his "talents"), dissecting living Alliance prisoners, turning them into monsters, and trying to perfect a particular plague formula that will render their enemies into undead like themselves with no side effects (although this last one was considered by some Forsaken to be a means of "reproduction" of sorts to keep up their fight against the Lich King, while it lasted).
Even at the early game content, said society had quests like "shackle the human farmers and drag them to Hillsbrad Fungus Plantation" where they'll be worked to death and made torture subjects for plagues, which the players gladly took to drag refugees to their certain doom in chains. (See Sylvanas' character story below)
As a result of these atrocities, the Forsaken are on the back foot, being at war with just about everything (including a militant priestly organization that represented the last living Lordaeron humans left in their homeland called the Scarlet Crusade) that wasn't the Horde and smack dab in the middle of all invasion routes back then, which was often used as justification for your daily dose of nightmare fuel both in and out of universe. Undercity has basically a population of slaves being experimented upon, tortured and killed slowly for years with no attention from any Horde leader, each arguing about hating the alliance and extolling "honor" while ignoring an ongoing atrocity Thrall would be horrified of.
The aforementioned mad scientist organization turned against Sylvanas (allegedly) and into the ranks of the Burning Legion (she kept a demon around as an advisor who unsurprisingly was waiting for the chance to turn on her) in a short one-battle civil war that destroyed any hope for peace between factions left at the time as Varian Wrynn, by sheer coincidence - the King of Stormwind, saw their fucked up experiments done under his childhood home away from home, and were put onto probation as a race by the rest of the Horde up until a change of Warchief (and the following untimely demise of all Kor'kron overseers, presumably - due to the fatal overdose of the Audrey's Thrice-Spiced Crunchy Stew) unwittingly resulted in a green flag to do whatever the fuck they wanted. With the Lich King dead and the Scarlet Crusade mostly wiped out, the Forsaken were left free to explore their new and wonderful nature as undead, sliding ever further into the 'evil' side of the spectrum as they plotted against the rest of the whole world of living and waged open war on neutral factions, and generally kept their sick experiments on enslaved POW's.
Their initial (and true) claims that as the last humans of Lordaeron they rightfully inherit the kingdom and that the humans down south had no right to conquer and purge them suddenly became "let's claim the entire northern continent, supposedly minus the Blood Elf parts (definitely plus surviving High Elf lodges on the southern borders of aforementioned parts, regardless of their affiliation (or lack thereof) with the Alliance), and just fuck up humans in ways many and hilarious wherever they are to be found."
That isn't to say that all Forsaken by definition are evil bastards, non-Apotechary aligned Forsaken are socially between a grungy Goth and a metalhead, and are generally loyal to the Horde. The player character is generally left up to the player to decide as far as alignment goes beyond some basic quests pushing you in the general direction of your faction story (that any player on your faction can do), as well as an occasional Forsaken NPC who isn't a complete fucking asshole appear throughout the game, a notable example would have been Leonid Barthalomew, an ex-Paladin (a Warrior, actually, but good luck convincing the fandom) who didn't put up with the bullshit of the Forsaken faction and became a ranking leader in the Argent Crusade - the amalgamation of various "Holy Orders" (such as Argent Dawn and parts of Scarlet Crusade) as well as formerly independent champions of the just, currently devoted to the restoration of the Plaguelands and, amusingly, "watching" Sylvanas (Mission Accomplished!). While Horde Forsaken became more evil as a group, more Forsaken were depicted as relatively friendly to both factions in NPC organizations (although this is true of all races; organizations that were previously filled with the races that wore the hat the proudest now have any race than can be that class popping up, plus Goblins for everyone).
Forsaken have long been hated in the Alliance community for the fact that they were a favored race for PvP (immunity to fear has often been criticized as being Cheese), Edgy botched writing that makes them come across as dickheads who never suffer any kind of karmic payback for their actions, and their lore is the most openly aggressive towards all
non-Night Elf and non-Draenei factions (Pandaren not being tied to anyone's story but their own and a vague connection to the Alliance and Horde as a whole). However, there's also a great deal of skub regarding the direction of their story and the reason (neckbeards and fangurlz) obsessing over their faction leader Sylvanas), which we absolutely refuse to speak of here because dumbasses think this article is a good place to argue about it.
No, no, not the internet kind, the mythical Trolls. Very tall, have two toes and three fingers, have large tusks that come in different shapes and come from the back of their mouth like boars or the front of their mouth like Oni, tend to favor a mohawk or dreadlocks as a hairstyle, have a dewclaw, and their skin differs from subrace to subrace because their bodies are adaptive and become anything from treebark-like to full of magic to covered in a soft and almost invisible velvet (all of which basically just gives them a different color). Are into Voodoo and worship Loa, tend towards being Mesoamerican in culture even if they come from an Egypt or Black Forest expy. The Darkspear tribe aka the Horde trolls sound like they have bad Jamaican accent, while the other tribes seem to prefer Cuban. Used to be allies of the Old Horde (there was a time before Green Jesus...), sharing the orcish worldviews regarding their neighbours and dreaming of the rebirth of their once world-spanning empire, presumably to fuck shit up for everyone once again with their... enthusiastic approach to the worship of their gods. During Green Jesus's Exodus, The Darkspear became the Horde's first official allies, being another charity case Orcs took up in order to gain a race of sidekicks. Has been almost-but-not-quite as passive as Tauren in their overall relevance to the plot up until the time when their leader took over the Horde for a whole expansion. Then said leader died in an idiotic way, the more you think about it, and with him - the hopes of ever being relevant again, as trolls of all colours are being excluded from the plot and placed into pandaren limbo, alone and forgotten by devs...
As already mentioned, Night Elves are Wood Elves and the Blood Elves are straddling the midpoint between High Elves and Dark Elves without the matriarchal or BDSM undertones. They had a culture-wide addiction to arcane magic thanks to their ancestors leaving the Night Elves over the banning of non-hippie magic and all the generations since being bathed in constant magical radiation from a gigantic well of energy in their capital city. Once that was cut off by Arthas (as well as roughly more than half of their race killed or otherwise... "indisposed"), they split into those that figured that Kael'thas idea of consuming Demons to sustain their magic fix or else the withdrawal turns them into an Elf version of a meth addict in short order was fucking ingenious, the ones that that didn't think that munching on demons was healthy for their perfect skin, hair and eye colour and the ones that got hippie all the way, mirroring their ancestors. The former majority, now calling themselves Sin'dorei, gradually became more and more evil out of desperation and supposed betrayal by their twice former allies and the aforementioned remaining percentage of the populace (that were very not chill about the whole demonic blood margaritas and allying with the people who were gleefully slaughtering them just a decade prior and mostly left Quel'Thalas in self-imposed (or forced) exile, usually ending up under Alliance protection), even keeping an abused angel in the basement they'd molest for paladin powers. After The Burning Crusade expansion, said Naaru was destroyed after being corrupted and restored their magical well with its goodness; their paladins are now able to draw power from the Light directly like everyone else and the Blood Elves are returning to being a dickish but generally decent (more or less) race. While they remain mostly Caucasian with blond hair, the Demon-suckling has turned the eyes of their race permanently green. However, due to their lands still being extremely vulnerable to the undead invasion (courtesy of Arthas), be it by remaining Scourge or Forsaken forces, their leader, the self-proclaimed Regent Lord Lor'themar Theron, is forced to play Sylvanas' sidekick and expected to act accordingly, which he's not happy about, but won't do anything about it either, other then attempted defection to the Alliance that failed because eldar don't have a standing monopoly on status quo. Amusingly, over 50% (closer to 70% on RP servers) of the Horde population on most servers goes to this guys, despite Horde fandom claims to the contrary and overall standing on their hat, and not just because their story occasionally progresses forwards (unlike certain others), mind you.
Gnomes, but green and with a general disregard for the safety of whoever's using their creations. To make the obligatory comparison to Warhammer, they are basically a fluffy hybrid of Skaven, Plains Goblins, and Ork Mekboyz all rolled into one with their minds only revolving around money/gold, excitement, and sex (usually in that order), that is never the less still more stable then its component parts. Technically as a race they're free agents that refuse to ally with or against any of the superpower factions, but the Horde happens to be the highest bidder usually and the Alliance doesn't usually want them when they already have one race of technologically inclined midgets in the Gnomes (who have a rivalry with Goblins based on engineering philosophy although how violent this rivalry depends on the individual since they've been seen both engaging in attempted genocide, or working together to create a fucking permanent podrace track in the middle of the desert (which after being flooded became about hovercraft races)). They're also WAAAAAAAAY too into holidays, either because its a great money maker or because they're just obsessive and things like
Christmas Winterveil lights and fireworks make their (usually short) lives worth living.
The Goblins that joined the Horde are only a part of their race called the Bilgewater Cartel who tend to be New Jersey expies complete with bad pop culture and a combination of 1800's industrialization and 1980's pop culture living in a fantasy world.
Introduced in BFA, Allied Races are lesser races that joined the Alliance and Horde during the Fourth War. Most are based on previous races or a variant of them.
- Dark Iron Dwarves: As described in the above sections, the Dark Irons formerly got introduced to the game. Darker skinned with flaming hot eyes and hair, they joined with their own personal drill transports and eternally cool dark iron armor and weapons. Led by Queen Moria Thaurassian-Bronzebeard.
- Void Elves: A small cult within the Blood Elves who researches Void-related stuff and got exiled for their troubles when they nearly corrupted the Sunwell by accident. They turned to Alleria and the Alliance took them under their wing. At least they got shiny purple tentacle hair out of it... Led by Magister Umbric.
- Kul Tiran Humans: Again as described above, portly humans a few feet taller than their cousins. Come fully equipped with sailor gear, cool mustaches and one hell of a right uppercut. Led by Katherine Proudmoore, then later Jaina Proudmoore.
- Mechagnomes: Sadly not fully robotic Gnomes. Magitek-esque cyborg gnomes who loves progress and science and resisted their insane king, who attempted to remake the entire world in metal. Led by Prince Erazmin of the Rustbolt Resistance, later the Kingdom of Mechagon.
- Lightforged Draenei: An army of Draenei cooked up with more than the recipe's amount of Light sauce. First formed 25,000 years ago when Naaru evacuated the Draenei who refused to bend the knee to Sargeras. The Prime Naaru Xe'ra took charge of some of the soldiers, gave them a Light supercharge and led them on a campaign of rallying survivors of Legion-ravaged worlds and taking the fight to them. Helped both factions defeat the Burning Crusade in Legion, then joined the Alliance because Xe'ra got jobbed by Illidan and Velen and Turalyon were part of the Alliance. Led by High Exarch Turalyon (a Lightforged Human originally from the Alliance).
- Highmountain Tauren: An offshoot of the tauren race living in the Highmountain region of the Broken Isles. Divided into three tribes (formally four), they are based more off tribes from the Pacific Northwest. In Legion both Alliance and Horde and quest for them, but join the Horde at the urging of their Mulgore cousins. Lead by High Chieftain Mayla Highmountain.
- Nightborne Elves: An offshoot of the Night Elfs, these guys are like what the Night Hippies were like in the golden age of their empire. Duing the War of the Ancients they locked themselves behind a magic shield and stayed their for 10,000 years until the events of Legion. Players will join and build up a rebel group lead First Arcanist Thalyssra, who was exiled for a previous rebellion. After saving them from their magic addiction and withdrawal induced zombiefication, they join the Horde out of gratitude and protection from vengeful Night Elves, who made no secret how they felt about their cousins due to most Nightborne leaders signing on with the Burning Legion. Lead by First Arcanist Thalyssra
- Mag'har Orcs: Refuges from alternate Dreanor. Many of them used to be part of the Iron Horde - a militarized empire of Orc supremacists who wanted to conquer or kill everyone else - while some never joined. They were forced to flee alt-Draenor after the Draenei there somehow became Lightforged fanatics killing those who would not convert to Light worship, while the legitimate grievances the Draenei have - such as their past persecution by the Iron Horde - are swept under the rug because Blizzard wanted to give the Light a bad side. Alternate Grommash Hellscream sacrificed himself giving them time to escape. Lead by Overlord Geya'rah the alternate universe sister to Thrall.
- Zandalari Trolls: The first trolls they once had the greatest empire on Azeroth, but have fallen hard from the glory days. Initially lead by God King Rastakahn his death at the hands of the Alliance during the Battle of Dazar'alor is what led the Zandalari to formally join the Horde, now led by his daughter Queen Talanji. The Zandalari live very close to their Loa(gods), because most of them are huge, intelligent magic animals who hang out down the street. Bwonsamdi, Loa of Death, is the current patron loa of the Empire, due to their former patron loa Rezan getting killed/banished a secret bargain struck between him and Rastakahn.
- Vulpera: A race of goblin sized fox people native to the deserts of Vol'dun, they make a living traveling in caravans across the sands scavaging and trading relics from the many ruins that dot the landscape. Friendly to the Horde after their race is saved from slavery and stew pots beloinging to the serpintine Sethrak, they are pushed closer to the Horde after Alliance invasions of Vol'dun lead to vulpera thrown in cages and their caravans got burned by Alliance "heroes".
Introduced in the Mists of Pandaria were the Pandaren, who uniquely get a choice on if they want to be Alliance or Horde since until then they had been neutral to the conflict between the two factions. The Pandaren perform the double duty of being a Far East analog and a race for furries who didn't like wolves or cows.
A hyper-evolved version of Furbolgs, a bear-like primitive race that's friends with the Night Elves. Pandaren live on their own highly magical (thanks to many MANY Titan creations) continent alongside fishmen called Jinyu who are hyper-evolved Murlocs, and Hozen who are somewhat evolved monkey people. A small number of their race, which all of the player character (but not all since Pandarian Pandaren later join thanks to the players) Pandaren come from, live on the back of a gigantic turtle who was the companion of the last Pandaren Emperor.
Pandaren are culturally incentivized to be fucking chill at all times, which reflects in all they do; brewing, cooking, farming, travelling and that dumb smile on their faces. Though few of them know it, this idea comes from centuries of living with the Sha (embodiments of dark emotions) below them at all times, and any time a sour emotion breaks out, you suddenly have a few blobby nightmares to deal with. Don't mistake their relaxed nature and fat asses for complacence; all of them know some sort of martial arts and their lands are invaded by insects about once every hundred years, so they tend to be sharper than they look.
The classes of WoW are the staple of just about every role-playing game ever. Though each version has three different builds to them, in practice only one of the three is used with any level of frequency.
You hit things until they die with extreme prejudice and/or alternatively take hits for the guys who can't take them. Warriors are pure melee combatants who are designed to be in the thick of it, either marmalizing everyone with their weapons, or getting priority-targets to focus on them so that other people can do their jobs. They run on rage, essentially warriors get to use more of their skills, the angrier they get.
They come in three HIT THINGS UNTIL THEY DIE specs:
- Arms: Your average Fighter. They specialize in alpha-strikes that inflict massive damage in one go, hence they tend to use two-handed weapons to get the most out of their abilities.
- Fury: A spec that turns warriors to bloodthirsty, rampaging, frothing berserkers that brutalize their enemies with two handed weapons held on each hands.
- Protection: A spec that allows them to be hit until things die. A tank spec dedicated to mitigating damage and shieldbashing everything in their way.
The classic warrior of light, healing and buffing allies as he smites his enemies with divine power. Originally an Alliance only class, The Burning Crusade expansion gave this ass kicking holy warrior to the Horde. They are also known for signature spells, like their infamous "Bubble" a Divine Shield that protects the caster from ANY damage.
For REASONS Pallys get some of the best looking armors in the game, with Judgement Armor being one of the most cosplayed and draw armors of all the fandom.
They come in three specs:
- Retribution:Once one of the WORST DPS specs in the game, to the point that people used to level up with Protection because it was better at causing damange. These days Retribution uses a combination of a big weapon and magic, and each spell give you a unit of Holy Power and then you can spend it on better spells.
- Holy: The healing spec. Used to be about a mix of overhealing and then applying shields. In Legion is all about getting close to your allies, and hit things till they die. Holy Shock is this spec signature spell.
- Protection: Tanky spec. Avenger Shield throws a magic bouncing shield at your enemies. Yes, exactly like Steve Rogers.
Now the DK is what you get if you combined the Paladin and Warrior and got a Blackguard. A lulzy combination of spell-spamming and melee-skill spamming, all the while having damage that would put both two classes to shame (and used to be a decent enough tank), the only difference is that they can only heal themselves. They also have the ability to pull casters into melee range and shield themselves from magic damage. In-universe, they were the undead servants of Arthas but managed to regain their free will. Their three skill trees are:
- Blood, the 2-handed weapon wielding martial master, focused on physical damage and being almost impossible to kill.
- Frost, the dual-wielding cancer that was considered a tank build (focused on parrying), until someone discovered it can top all DPS meters with just the starting gear the class gets
- Unholy, focused on protecting himself from magic, while dishing out magical damage himself, and having a permanent ghoul pet (this build was completely broken on the release - the DK could make his ghoul jump you, summon gargoyles to your position, pull you to himself and slow you massively, and if you managed to kill the DK, he turned into a ghoul himself for about 30 seconds, while his pets kept on tickling you with their massive claws; did I mention killing a ghoul would make it explode for fuckton of damage? PvP was super fun back then)
A different name for the D&D Ranger, although they don't have the dual-wielding gimmick anymore (unless you're playing Classic WoW) and have a better choice of pets. Also one of the best classes to solo in-game content due to their utility, pet companion (who tanks most of the damage), decent surivability, and dominance on ranged combat.
- Be(a)stmaster, aka The Bearshagger, aka Rexxar-wannabe, like the name suggests, focuses on empowering the pet more than the hunter. Back when WoW still had shoddy netcode and dodgy servers, a pet empowered this way could take on 5-man party in PvP and win. Arguably the best build for soloing in-game content due to your portable tank pet, if a bit boring.
- Marksman, focused on dealing massive damage using range weapons with high critical hit chance; most known for its aura which increased ranged damage, and generally being able to kill/main people in a single ability burst.
- Survival, used to be the PvP-focused, annoying build with focus on traps, poisons and sleep darts, now it's for those who want to be hunting in melee range, with a spear.
Basically, they're D&D Rogues. They excel in burst damage, having one of the greatest melee damage outputs of any class (although later updates took them down a few notches), at the cost of having very little in physical defense, which is compensated by having a good number of escape tricks up their sleeve to escape combat if they find themselves outclassed. They're also thieves and assassins, being the only class able to pick locks and coat their weapons with a variety of debilitating poisons.
They have three specializations to choose from:
- Assassination, focuses on critical hits, finishing moves, and poisons, allowing you you finish off your targets quick and clean like, well, an assassin.
- Combat, focuses on making you a cunningly brutal berserker, who focuses on beating someone with a sharp stick as much as possible by augmenting basic attacks to hit more efficiently. The go-to PvE spec as its the best at giving rogues the best damage output in straight-up combat.
- Outlaw, is a newer spec that replaced combat in the current game. It still focuses on turning you into a cunningly brutal madman, but has more emphasis towards giving you more combo points to chain abilities.
- Subtlety, focuses on stealth combat and survival, making you the most brutally cunning git in all the realms. Fights revolve around you striking the killing blow when your opponents are unaware of you, and keeping it that way.
Nature-oriented shapeshifters whose abilities are dependent on their different forms. They have one form each for healing, casting, tanking, and straight-up melee combat but you can only choose one. They're pretty flexible and can fill out just about any party class, but are outdone by dedicated classes.
- Balance: magic DPS caster, comes with a Moonkin form (ugly, fat owlbear, could Bli$$ be taking a piss at otherkin?)
- Feral: You are cat or a bear. Melee DPS/Tank depending on the form it takes and talents it invests into - cat for is for damage (uses rogue's mechanics, with self-renewing energy), bear form is for taking hits (uses warrior's rage mechanics)
- Restoration: healer, with wide variety of Healing over Time spells, can transform into a walking tree-of-life, aka a treant
Similar to Shadowrun shamans, in that they use totems and spirits to empower their abilities. Shamans are also a flexible class like the druid in that they can be a caster, healer, melee, and tank class (sort of. Even in the best of circumstances and setups, they're pretty sub-par tanks) but are more focused on augmenting their and their party's abilities and equipment through their various totems.
- Elemental: the ranged caster, spamming a variety of lightning and magma/fire spells
- Enhancement: melee caster; has the ability to use Windfury, a buff granting a chance for extra attack with a melee weapon - back in the Classic version, this worked with two-handed weapons, meaning the shaman could jump you and take 4-6 massive swings at you before you'd finish casting one spell. It was hilarious
- Restoration: healing build, its signature spell being Healing Wave, an inverted Chain Lightning.
You heal people. That's it. Today people see WoW priest as the default priest archetype, but at the time of creation they were quite exotic with all the mind-rapey and buddhist discipline stuff. Out of D&D classes they are closer to the psion than to cleric.
As everything in WoW, they're in three flavors:
- Discipline, used to be completely shit, solely complimenting other trees, then changed into PvP mind control build, then into a hybrid between dealing holy damage, buffing and applying shields; the shield part has become the staple of this spec
- Holy, the go-to healing spec, allowing the priest to keep entire parties alive
- Shadow, for those who rolled priest, but wanted to be more edgy and play DPS. Damage dealt heals the priest and does minuscule healing to his allies
The classic wizard, minus the Vancian spellcasting system.
Arcane A spec built around spending all your mana, using evocation to regen it, then repeating
Fire A spec built around having high crit and chaining crits to cast fire balls and a phoenix at your enemy.
Frost probably the most balanced spec in terms of damage and difficulty, uses frost magic to slow down your enemy to make kiting easier, also makes heavy use of crits, movement effects, and a water elemental pet.
Casters who make use of demons and souls to fuel their spells. Although they dont wear much armour, dont be decieved. They can take incredible punishments and still come out on top, while draining you dry of life to heal their wounds. In lore they are generaly distrusted and feared, and are considered one of the most powerful individuals. If a warlock wants more power, he needs but grasp it... if he can handle it.
They are divided into 3 specialisations:
- Demonology: Typical summoner
- Destruction: Big and powerful but costly spells.
- Affliction: DoT, DoT and more DoT.
All the kung-fu gimmicks that you'd expect from this class. Also, they can tank as a drunken master or heal using weird mist magic.
Windwalker The damage spec, full of punches, kicks, and magically summoned tigers, basic attacks build chi points that are spent on more powerful spells.
Mistweaver The healing spec, uses mana to control magical mist the flows from player to player healing them. Formerly used chi but that was to hard for some people.
Brewmaster The tank sec, it focuses on damage mitigation from the stagger effect and dodging attacks. Primarily known for throwing beer on a mob then breathing fire on it.
The other melee warlocks, but different. High mobility, fel empowered damage dealers or meatshields, whose wings allow them to double-jump or glide by default. In-universe, they are the elven followers of Illidan who imprison demons in their bodies to draw power from them and risk corruption. They got thrown in magic-jail along with their master, but have been pulled out of stasis to help fight the Burning Legion. Even edgier than Death Knights, if you can believe that. Like warlocks, they get an in-universe bad rep for using Fel magic.
Also they get SWEET MOTHERFUCKING EYE LAZORS PEW PEW PEW!!
Havoc The damage spec and the one with eye lasers, makes heavy use of movement boosting effects to deal damage.
Vengeance The tank spec, focused around self healing and dodging.
WoW is notorious for its use of expansion packs, which add on lore not or loosely hinted at, sometimes coming with retcons. These are recieved about as well as you might expect from any other retcon.
Before we get started here, let's take awhile to go over who all these people are.
- Varian Wrynn: (Former) King of the playable human faction Stormwind. A well-intentioned but warmongering widower with a son called Anduin, until the devs realized that no one in the Alliance liked him and made him High King of the Alliance to give him character development during Mists of Pandaria, and tried to make him the "Alliance counterpart" to Garrosh before they realized how thoroughly they'd fucked up the latter. Very recently died while trying to repel the Burning Legion's latest attempt to invade Azeroth. He was also part of the WoW comicbook, as it tells how he recovers his memory after being a gladiator.
- Anduin Wrynn: Son of Varian, very recently crowned King after his father untimely demise. A Priest of the Light, he's less impulsive and hot-headed than his father. Best of pals with the dragon Wrathion. In the new Battle of Azeroth cinematic he shows himself pummeling a bunch of Hordies (which is weird as it was sort of cannon he wasnt good with swordplay, but when you got a named weapon I guess you one hit anything), but what truly showed why he is a badass is the fact that he is the only leader of the entire game to bother speccing as a healer and get his entire frontline back into the fight. Also, he kinda looks like a young Brad Pitt in the new cinematic.
- Dorf Council: Ruling council of ALL DORFS since King Magni got turned into diamond. (Or something. Apparently that was a side-effect of the planet Azeroth itself trying to communicate.) The DORF council is made up of:
- Muradin Bronzebeard - taught Arthas how to fight, then was rescued by the same dick on Northrend. Instead of dying he lost his memory and became the leader of frozen DORFS. After some years singing "Let It Go" in DORFISH, he was found by the Alliance and was reunited with his brothers Magni and Brann. Fought his way through the Icecrown Citadel and was part of a cool ship to ship fight in the same Raid. These days he represents the Brozenbeard DORFS of Ironforge.
- KUDRAN/FALSTAD Wildhammer. The first was wrongly appointed as representative of the Wildhammer DORFS, because Blizzard themselves forgot that Falstad was even alive, thankfully a Red Shirt Faction Check guy remember it during Blizzcon. He rides griffons and have cool tattos.
- Moira Bronzebeard. Daughter of Magni, and next in line of sucession of Ironforge. She was later captured by Dagran Thaurissan, and then rescued by the players. Or so we thought, until she revealed she was in love with the guy and in fact had a baby with him. When she came back to get her throne she brought the Dark Iron DORFS with her. Varian almost killed her for quarentining Anduin (and the rest of Ironforge), but instead was conviced to spare her and forge the COUNCIL OF THE THREE DORFS. Since then she had character development, alongside the whole Dark Iron Dwarves race, helping Varian saving Ironforge from ice trolls with her army while shaming the other two DORFS because they didn't want to fight alongside the Dark Irons.
- Tyrande Whisperwind: Leader of the Night Elves, Furion's wife and High Priestess of their moon goddess Elune. Cares deeply for her people but is slow to trust foreigners. Formerly their military leader as well for several thousand years, but unfortunately Blizzard hates her the way Games Workshop hated the Bretonnians, resulting in retcons of her personality , contrived bouts of stupidity galore and a really weird jamaican accent that wasn't there during Warcraft 3. In Legion she starts to sound like her old seasoned yet wary, pious warrior-woman self, and seems to have gotten over her xenophobia. She does have personal trust issues with the Nightborne elves, but there's reasons such as how most of them have allied with the Burning Legion and their eerily familiar reckless use of Arcane magic, and them siding with the Horde who went to displace the Night Elves from Kalimdor somewhat's validated Tyrande's distrust. Later got some new powers from Elune, becoming the first "Night Warrior" in thousands of years.
- Malfurion Stormrage: Leader of the Night Elf druids and Tyrande's husband. Spent most of his time trapped in a corrupted part of the Emerald Dream, but is brought back. He now leads the druids to protect the balance of nature. Will work with the Horde but won't make small talk with them. Shows up Legion when the Emerald Nightmare and his nemesis Xavius make a return. The player characters rescue him from Xavius and help him purge the Emerald Nightmare (except for one Void-corrupted flower nearly everyone missed...). Helped defend Kalimdor when the Horde invaded and nearly beat Sylvanas until he got an axe in the back from Saurfang (yes really!). He barely survived and Tyrande took him to safety but he hasn't shown up since.
- Velen: Immortal prophet of the draenei and co-leader of the Eredar alongside of Kil'Jaeden and Archimonde before the latter two (and a portion of their race) made a deal with Sargeras and became demons. Arguably the settings most powerful non-Naaru light user. He was tricked into fighting his long-lost son to the death in Legion and planned to storm back to Argus and give the Legion a righteous butt-whipping. Velen sort-of forgave Kil'Jaeden after he was killed in a raid, and now leads an assault to Argus. Got into arguments with Illidan about fate and the Light, which Illidan seemed to win because of author fiat (his arguments were hypocritical), but Velen kept his faith.
- Geblin Mekkatorque: King of the Gnome faction. Like Tyrande he is neglected by the writers, but unlike Tyrande he isn't shat upon by them.
- Genn Greymane: King of the werewolf faction, the Worgen. Hates Sylvanas for killing his son, enslaving his people and ruining (quite possibly, permanently) his homeland, though both share a strange love for towers. Lately he is trying to serve as parental figure to Anduin, as the new king just lost his own father. Smacked Sylvanas around and thwarted her plan to enslave a Titan champion into making more Val'kyr. Leads the charge against Sylvanas and the attack on Undercity to avenge the Horde's recent atrocities against the Night Elves.
- Jaina Proudmoore: The most powerful human mage in Azeroth... Until new-and-improved Khadgar rolled in and stole the spotlight, that is. She led the survivors of Lorderaen away from the undead invasion and helped fight the Burning Legion back in Warcraft 3. One of the key proponents of Alliance-Horde peace in setting, until Theramore was nuked by Garrosh Hellscream, followed by some more than a little questionable behaviour of Dalaran resident blood elves, at which point she did a complete 180 in her opinion towards the Horde as whole and orcs in particular. Hot and she knows it since she dresses like a belly dancer wherever she goes (maybe she does Pilates and those are a mage's gym clothes).
- Thrall: A part-Moses, part-Spartacus orc shaman raised by humans who leads the Horde to freedom. Was awesome for awhile until the main dev got a hard-on for him and made him give up Warchief to become saviour of the world in Cataclysm. This died down and now he's leader of the Orcs, but ceded becoming the Warchief again, and gave it to Vol'jin. As of Legion resides in a pit of suicidal depression as a result of his poor character judgement skill in regards to Garrosh and subsequent loss of his connection with the elements, as a result of forcing them to kill the aforementioned judgement error in his anger.
- Vol'jin: Leader of the Darkspear trolls after his father's death. Leads the rebellion against Garrosh and his Orc-Nazis. Was nominated as the next Warchief by Thrall and all other candidates went along with it. Highlights of being Warchief include and limited to: invading the alternate timeline of a parallel universe's orc homeworld and dying like a bitch. Was fatally wounded during the latest attempt of the Burning Legion to invade, and nominated Sylvanas Windrunner as Warchief as he passed away.
- Sylvanas Windrunner: Undead former high elf who leads the Forsaken - undead that broke free of the Lich Kings's control and became independent - and possibly the most divisive character in Warcraft's history. Very recently also nominated leader of the Horde as a whole by her dying predecessor Vol'Jin. She's Sarah Kerrigan from Starcraft, but as an elf with every instance of "alien" replaced with "undead". Unlike Thrall, rather than being too trusting for her own good, she has far too much of an "ends justify the means" mindset coupled with motive decay/shitty writing. The writers like using her to create easy conflict. Abandons the position of Warcheif after Saurfang exposes her selfish agenda to everyone in-universe, but not before killing him with death magic from her not-Grim-Reaper sugar daddy.
- Cairne Bloodhoof: Chief of the Tauren, despite being, like, almost a hundred years old. United the Tauren with the help of the Orcs, and then became besties with Thrall. Grandfatherly and all around cool guy. Ends up getting killed in a cage match with Garrosh after Cairne's token evil subordinate poisoned Garrosh's axe by pretending she was blessing it. And he was winning before the poison got him.
- Baine Bloodhoof: Current chief of the Tauren, the widely hated son of fan-favourite Cairne Bloodhoof from Warcraft 3. Was a two-bit NPC until he was made racial leader following Cairne's death. Since the WoW novels he was turned from a proud warrior willingly to fight to defend his people into a self hating loser that desperately wants to be human and |exiles his people for defending themelves.
- Lor'themar Theron: Current leader of the blood elves after Kael'thas was hit with the Villain Ball. Hates politics, loves battle, but is a good leader. An elf who has facial hair besides eyebrows and is not a pansy or a Mary Sue. Has a really crappy and unpronounceable/forgettable name. Pretty much nobody remembers him because of this, not helped by the fact that he barely appears in-game, which is a shame because he has a few good moments such as calling Skub Queen Sylvanas out on her nonsense (see her entry above) in Siege of Orgrimmar.
- Lady Liadrin: Badass female priest-turned-paladin. A rare case of well written female character, starting of as the leader of the Blood Knights, the Blood Elven paladins in the Burning Crusade. At first she was kinda of a bitch, teaching the blood knights how to use the Light by taking the power of a Naaru (basically torturing what is an angelic-like being in-game). Then Kael'thas stole said Naaru, and turned it into the HARDEST boss in all of Wow History, then Velen infused the Sunwell with the fallen Naaru's cleansed heart, reigniting it and making the connection to the Sunwell Light based, redeeming Liandrin and her followers in the process. Now she shows up more consistently than even Lor'themar, being part of the Draenor campaign, then becoming one of the Paladin Champions in Legion, and even beating the crap out of the Death Knight strike team that sneaked into the Paladin Order Hall to steal the body of Tyrion Fordring and resurrect him as one of their own (Light-infused sacred halls of the hall were a big help, though).
- Gallywix: Leader of the Goblins. A corporate asshole who left his people to die when a volcano destroyed their home then tried to enslave them when they escaped. Forgiven by Thrall and allowed to lead them for reasons instead of doing the sensible thing (offing him and making the Goblin who fixed everything for everyone (aka the player) the new leader). Skinny in the game, but he's a fat bastard in the art because Blizzard could not be arsed to make a new model for him.
- Varok Saurfang: An awesome Orc warrior. Lost his son who was killed by the Lich King, encounters his son as an undead servant of the Lich King and is forced to watch him die again. The fanbase holds him as the most badass motherfucker in the franchise, seeing him as the Chuck Norris of Warcraft (or Chuck Norris as the Saurfang of real life). Killed by Sylvanas in the latest cinematic with unexplained death magic, but not before calling her out as a selfish edgelord and getting her to admit this, destroying her credibility as Warcheif and making her flee.
- Garrosh: Son of Grom Hellscream and quite possibly the most hated character in the game's history. A weak and sickly orc who joined the army, got exiled, rediscovered, then became Warchief. After being shown that Grom was partly the cause and wholly the solution to the Orcs' corruption, he became obsessed with his father's legacy. He was initially meant to be Thrall's sidekick and the character who encompassed Orc id and overaggression as a counterpoint to everyone's favorite shaman. When the writers eventually realized they'd botched his character and killed any interest in him having a sympathetic character arc into becoming a better person with a power drill, they threw their hands in the air and said "fuck it!" and took his character to the logical extreme. He eventually decided "Orcs is da best!" and obsessed over Orc racial purity, considering non-Orcs Untermenschen; he created an Orc-only faction of enforcers, killed and/or imprisoned dissenters, gathered an organized army and turned nearly the whole world against him when he nuked Theramore. He had a few allies and sought to achieve victory by any means necessary, including occult research. Sound familiar? Was overthrown, and stupidly given a fair trial (stupidly because less evil villains are often summarily executed in this setting), then disappeared on a time-travel jaunt to try and re-write history. Thrall kills him with a gigantic lightning bolt in a Mak'gora (though apparently that was the wrong move because in Legion Thrall couldnt hear the Elements anymore).
- The Lich King: One of Warcraft's better villains. Started off as a noticeably popular and powerful Orc chieftain called Ner'zhul. Being manipulated by Gul'dan and Kil'jaeden (in the guise of the spirit of his deceased smoking hot wife), was effectively responsible for the formation of the original Horde, genocide of the draenai and overall orcish subsequent fall into demonic servitude. However, after being exposed to the method of the manipulation by the real spirit of his wife, was horrified and ashamed of his actions and attempted to put an end to the events taking place... but ultimately succeeded only in warning Durotan and his Frost Wolves about it all, after being captured and tortured into submission by Gul'dan and his Shadow Council. Skipping to after the failure of orcish conquest of Azeroth, in which Ner'zhul had no participation, as per Gul'dan will, the gradually descending into madness from grief and anger old shaman was approached by Teron Gorfiend with a solution to the problem that plagued Ner'zhul these past years - orcs fighting each other while their world died around them - reformation of the Horde and creation of portals into many a world, ripe for conquest. Driven further still into madness by the skull of Gul'dan, acquired in the process, he, with some help, was able to do just that, which had an unintentional side effect of literally tearing Draenor asunder, and after entering one of the resulting portals, Ner'zhul suddenly found himself in the Twisting Nether, right in Kil'jaeden's hands. After some subjective eternity of torture, he was given another chance to serve the Burning Legion, lest he wished to remain demon's plaything for the rest of forever. He lost his body and was encased in a suit of armour (specifically - the Helm of Domination), frozen in a block of ice. With newfound telepathic powers and necromancy, he slowly built up an army of undead - his Scourge. However despite his agreement with Kil'jaeden, his hatred of the latter born of the previously described events, has driven him to covertly arrange to, successfully, undermine him. He also nabs himself a host by corrupting the spoilt prince and paladin Arthas in Warcraft 3 and then fusing their minds together. Then he builds up the Scourge to make his own bid for world domination until the players and paladin Tirion Fordring manage to defeat him. Then another much more bro-tier paladin decides to play out the greatest story never told and willingly becomes the new Lich King to keep the Scourge under control. tl-dr; He's Warcraft's answer to Nagash, but with honor and compassion (yes, really!)
- Illidan Stormrage: Another one of Warcraft's long-running characters, he was a night elf and brother of current Night Elf co-leader Malfurion Stormage. Originally a selfish, trickster type character, Blizzard did some slipshod retcons to his back story after killing him off to try and make him a hero. Ignoring the inconsistencies, the end result was an edgy anti-hero, emphasis on edgy; at best he's rough around the edges at worst he gives Sylvanas a run for her money. He could serve as a cautionary tale about fan demand. All versions of his story share the following traits; He's the younger brother of Malfurion Stormrage, and shared a crush on their childhood friend Tyrande Whisperwind. Illidan lusted for power and studied Arcane magic, eventually becoming addicted. When Azshara decided that a Titan and his world-destroying demon army was just what Azeroth needed, Illidan signed on with the Burning Legion, but soon turned against them. He took some water from the Well of Eternity before it exploded, and after the resulting cataclysm made a new one. For risking the return of the demons and his apparent betrayal, Illidan was sentenced to life in prison (keep in mind he's immortal) while the Dragon Aspects fixed his mistake. Millennia later Tyrande freed him to get his help fightng the Burning Legion who had once again returned. Illidan, helped along by Arthas' suggestion, took in more demonic power to the point that his transformation was completed and used it to defeat a powerful demon Tichondrius. Horrified at Illidan's actions, his brother and Tyrande banished him. Later, Kil'jaeden contacted Illidan and commissioned him to kill the Lich King. Illidan accepting, enlisting several Naga into his service and raiding the Tomb of Sargeras but the Night Elves - including Illidan's former jailer Maiev - and some Blood Elves intervened. After trying to mend fences with his brother and Tyrande, Illidan fled to Outland - along with the Blood Elves who left the Alliance due to a genocidal racist human CO - to avoid Kil'jaeden's wrath, seeking to establish himself as a power there. But Kil'jaeden found him and gave him one more chance to kill the Lich King, which Illidan tried and failed to do thanks to the efforts of Arthas and the Scourge. Illidan retreated to Outland to lick his wounds and plan his next move, but a lack of communication with his followers meant several turned on him, and in the end he looked like a mad tyrant and was killed by the combined efforts of the player characters.
The story of World of Warcraft begins four years after Warcraft 3 ends, after Orgrimmar has been established as the city of the modern horde. Stormwind's king is missing, with a paladin named Bolvar Fordragon and a woman named Katrana Prestor (oldfag Warcraft fans recognize the name immediately) ruling in his stead. The game's plot didn't really build toward a single story, rather most zones were independent with quite a few questlines leading you all over the world ten times over. Each race and faction had a story, which you stumbled into rather than being yanked by an invisible collar to. Many of the biggest in scale however were actually unfinished, ending seemingly in the middle of the plot (this was because several different writing teams worked on the game, and there were inter-department communication issues).
At the start of the storytelling, the Warcraft team gave two important things to rely on for creating content; the first was to avoid typical fantasy situations that make players feel very unimportant at the start like killing rats in sewers, and the second was a general direction for the storytelling. The Horde is a bunch of outcasts and former (with some present) sinners who must build a civilization from scratch and survive, while the Alliance was a group of strongly united allies who have fallen on hard times working to retake their hard-won territory from usurpers and to rebuild what's been lost. Each starting area sets up this feel along with giving players a strong incentive to continue onwards (other than Trolls and Gnomes who shared plots with Orcs and Dwarfs for the most part respectively) and the trend continued on until they found themselves saving the world and plumbing ancient sites of antiquity. The players are members of their faction's armed forces whose quests are oftentimes taking orders from members of their faction, or allied factions. Each class had quests beyond that which gave players a sense of place in the world; Warlocks straddled the line between control and their own destruction while increasing their power via risks and generally keeping their activities secrets from the populace, Shamans connected themselves to the world and sought deeper understanding of balance, Druids fought against the enemies of nature and attuned their spirits to the wild, Warriors tested themselves against powerful enemies, and even in professions players would undertake long and perilous journeys to learn another recipe to make a robot squirrel or fry an omelet. Players actually had to finish the plotline that lead into most dungeons before they could even enter them as well. The fact that many, many plots left very little explanation as to where to go or what to do required players to actually read any and all flavor text.
The initial buildup lead the plot in two directions. In the first, the king of Stormwind was kidnapped by the the Defias bandits, and in the meantime his son and the regent were being manipulated by the dragon villain Deathwing's daughter Katrana Prestor/Onyxia who had organized his kidnapping. He later finds his way back in a comic book. The quest to rescue him on Alcaz Island is never finished, leaving players wondering why he just showed up. In the second, a third of the Dwarf race (the original inhabitants of Blackrock Mountain, which has meant Orcs since Warcraft: Orcs and Humans) called the Dark Iron clan had started a three-way civil war over three hundred years ago and when they were losing had summoned the fire servant of the mysterious Old Gods named Ragnaros who incinerated their foes, fucked up their land until it was nothing but volcanoes and lava with animals made of fire, and turned their skin gray, hair black, and eyes red. They then worshiped him as a god. Players invade Blackrock Mountain in it's three wings, then the actual pit itself where Ragnaros regenerates himself for a war on the rest of the world. An unfinished plot point involved gaining favorship with his opposite, Neptulon of the water elementals (you gain the help in killing Ragnaros, but the politics and aftermath are ignored, even when Neptulon shows up later).
After that, Warcraft added giant corrupted dragons and Demons that randomly wander the world to kill.
Player VS Player content (other than grinding as fast as possible to the level cap of 60 and violently violating new players doing their very first quests in the game) was added, involving a capture the flag and king of the hill mode each that represented skirmishes breaking out between the Horde and Alliance (who were at an armistice after the end of Warcraft 3) in the home of the Night Elves due to Orcs building a whole fucking civilization needing more wood than their desert and prairie home provided, and a war between the Dwarves of Alterac Valley (devoid of humans since Warcraft 2) and the Frostwolf Orcs with the former having been there first and wanting to rediscover their past via archeology and the latter having settled there during Warcraft 2.
A further addition to Blackrock Mountain involved Onyxia's brother Nefarian who was in charge of the remaining Warcraft 2 Orcs in the mountain (and has sired incest babies with her due to the low numbers of the black dragons left alive). He was attempting to create a master race of dragons like his father wanted, although his methods included misunderstood blood transfusions, magical metal, and the general Frankensteining of dragon corpses.
Another battle location was added, Arathi Basin which featured battles between humans and undead from the same region over who had the rights to the farmland. It was accompanied by a new raid and plotline involving the Trolls of the jungles south of Stormwind, which were worshiping what was probably a servant of the Old Gods named Hakkar (this mention of which meant players would come to expect more Old God nonsense in each update, and be correct time and time again). Players were tasked by the most civilized race of Trolls, the Zandalar who come from an island in the ocean, to wipe out the Gurubashi tribe and the smaller tribes they'd absorbed. Hakkar required blood and soul sacrifice, and his followers had taken control of the Loas (gods) of the jungle.
More Dragons and Demons were added to the game, and soon after the first event began. In Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, players fought back against the unnatural insectoid worshipers of the Old Gods called Silithid who had been invading the rest of the world via their Starcraft Zerg style of spread. Sealed away in ancient times by the Night Elves and their natural allies (plus Dragons), the Gates needed to be opened with a magic hammer which had to be forged through a fucklong questline. After the gates opened, the Horde and Alliance as well as the Druids of the world battled back the insect threat which was represented by players server-wide completing quests of gathering supplies, then handing them over to NPC's. Upon the Gates being opened, the Ruins and Temple of Ahn'Qiraj raids were added. In Ruins, players fight the leadership of the Qiraji armies including their general and spiritual leader. In Temple, players descend to kill the source of the Silithid and finally the very wounded but recovering Old God named C'thun, who consists of eyestalks and tentacles surrounding a giant eyeball that shoots lasers inside a giant black pyramid hundreds of miles below the surface of a giant black pyramid. All of the above was hinted at, very vaguely, in the expansion pack to Warcraft 3 where the undead somehow got a hold of mysterious obsidian Egyptian statues that ate magic (from the insect people's northern spider-cousins).
After that, Naxxramas was added. Furthering the plot of Warcraft 3 with the Scourge, Naxxramas was the single greatest of the flying magical pyramids/castles the Scourge use as bases. It floated above the remains of Lordaeron's kingdom, not far from the capital city, and unleashed hell on the remaining defenders both living (crazy, sane, and asshole alike) and undead. Players venture inside and kill powerful creatures representing the Scourge forces in a War quarter containing the Death Knights and skeletons, a Spider quarter, a quarter dedicated to the spread of the Blight and general ickyness, and finally a quarter dedicated to the patchwork golems called Abominations. This was followed by a giant ice dragon skeleton boss, and finally the second-in-command of the Scourge, Kel'Thuzad.
The Dark Portal event ended Classic World of Warcraft and lead into Burning Crusade, as Demons spread throughout the world and invaded a fair number of zones at random. At launch, the Dark Portal became a swirling vortex again and Burning Crusade launched.
For a long time many WoW oldfags have dreamt of the good ol' days of foot slogging and having adventures that actually forced you to pay attention lest you die to a monster five levels below you. A number of independent classic servers free to play and open to the public sprang up, such as Molten Core, Emerald Dream, Nostalrius, Elysium, Light's Hope and others in order to remedy that thirst. Some got the Blizzard banhammer for obvious reasons while others continue to persist, holding as true as possible to the original experience. While major gameplay experiences are typically the same in terms of leveling, looting, monster stats, etc. each server tends to enact their own small fixes in terms of balance and bugs that nevertheless deviate from that original Blizzard build.
At Blizzcon 2017, Classic WoW was finally announced as being a future thing, with a timeframe of "when it's done". This was accompanied by an insane amount of applause, cheering, crying, screams of "OH MY GOD", shit-flinging, and possible Mountain Dew-fueled orgies, though only time will tell how well or how badly this implementation of "vanilla" WoW will play out. Expect lots of RAGE from newbies who were softened by the luxuries of modern-day WoW and can't even with the 1000 gold epic mounts and more.
A year later, at Blizzcon 2018, the release date was specified as being Summer 2019. As of the moment, Classic is already out, and only requires you to pay the $15 subscription fee, and the game itself is free. True to it's name, it starts when WoW was at it's earliest (albeit, the future technical improvements such as bug and glitch fixes, class balancing....etc, are already implemented), so unlike the current game: its a lot more slow-paced, unforgiving, and grindy: a true MMORPG experience straight out of the early 2000s. Past server-wide events that took place in old WoW will also be implemented down the line.
Its not known if Cl-WoW will ever implement it's first 2 expansions, TBC and WoTLK (as these were before Catacylsm, which re-wrote the much of the game). The developers said they would consider them down the line after a year or two, depending on how successful Classic WoW turns out, but as of the moment: they're focused on perfecting the classic experience first before trying to advance any further, which isn't a bad thing.
BC was the first expansion of WoW and was centered around a couple of quasi-goat-alien creatures known as the "Draenei", a race of peaceful, holier-than-thou squid-faced goats who were devout to the Light but mutated whenever constantly exposed to Demon-energies. The other race was the "Blood Elves", a race of magically addicted, metro-sexual elves who crave magic like crack-whores. It also featured the Outland from Warcraft 3, which is the remnants of Draenor from Warcraft 2, which is a world of floating rock after a giant magic explosion caused by opening too many portals near each other ripped the planet apart. The game used a fair number of things from past Warcraft content, including heroes (and villains) from the RTS Warcrafts long since forgotten like Danath Trollbane and Kargath Bladefist.
When BC was released was when many players felt the loreraep came into play.
BC practically abused the lore, pinned it down, had dirty BDSM-themed buttsecks with it, and threw it aside like a used glove. Draenei, previously the vaguely humanoid whale-faced tribal monsters from Warcraft 3 became "Eredar". "Eredar" went from being a race of demons who helped corrupt Sargeras into a race of magitek extraterrestrials who look like a typical depiction of Satan, but weren't evil until Sargeras found them. Eredar were apparently not even early in the Legion's history (having not even been demons when the Legion was founded), but simply made themselves the ones in charge after joining due to being fuckstrong in magic and magiteck. Those Eredar who didn't sign on with Sargeras became Draenei, space Jews that split from their evil cousins as a subrace of Eredar that became 45% paladins, 45% priests and 10% shamans that learned magic from Orcs while the original mutated ones became mindless morlock mutant versions of the Draenei. Oh, and the anti-heroes from Warcraft 3 went mustache-twirling evil to justify villains who weren't the Legion (not like you don't fight a metric fuckton of them in the expansion anyway though), and a couple of them even signed on with the Legion (like Kael'thas, whose story was so badly messed up that Blizzard themselves apologized for it).
The game also become a lot more enjoyable with numerous aspects of the game revolving around points and badges, rather than raiding for gear your faction could never even use (paladin and shaman gear). Basically, re-tuned for
casualfags normal people who have a life outside the game. That is, right up until you had to grind for your netherwing drake (sparkly former black dragons) because that shit takes months.
On the good side, with the previously faction-exclusive Paladin and Shaman classes now open, you didn't have to worry about doing raids and getting Paladin/Shaman gear as a Horde/Alliance character. You also had the magnificence of Draenei horsecock booty shaking, and a simple way to track who the tryhards in the game were; they were the ones playing Barbie elves.
Oh, and you could FLY. That alone was a huge deal back then.
The plot began with the two new races; Draenei, a mostly-extinct race, were attacked by Blood Elves (the ones you played back in Warcraft 3) because...reasons, and took their...one of their five magical flying crystal castles called the Exodar (okay, not a TERRIBLE idea since the same thing was used a fair amount in the 80's where Chris Metzen got stuck developmentally) in which they'd been hiding from the Orcs in since the Orcs tried to genocide them (being so successful they managed to pave a road halfway across the world two-columns wide with their bones), and flew it away. Actually, the castles belonged to the Naaru and the Draenei were hiding in a swamp, but it was theirs in the initial drafts and nothing says how they got from the swamp to the ship. As the Blood Elves slaughtered the fuck out of everyone like SS in Paris, the ship careened out of control and ended up above Azeroth. The ship continued careening across the majority of the planet until it finally crashed onto a small island off the coast of the Night Elf home. The Draenei set about finishing off the invading Blood Elves, then cleaning up the environmental effects of their ship crash (which includes riding elephants for some reason), which earned them the respect of the hippie elves and an invitation to join the Alliance despite the fact they looked like Demons and explained the fucking Burning Legion is lead by their distant cousins (it helped that the Draenei are the Eredar who turned down Sargeras' offer to join the Buring Legion and have been fighting them even more than the Night Elves have). Meanwhile, the Blood Elves who stayed in the ruins of Silvermoon get in contact with the Forsaken to join the Horde because they need allies to survive until the rest of their race rejoin them and bring back whatever vague "salvation" was hinted at by their prince. To sustain their racial addiction to magic, they have been suckling at the blood and energy of captive Demons while controlling the citizenry, who need to keep themselves focused at all times or they'll devolve into Elf Ghouls that chew on magic wands just to suck out the last bit of magic, with propaganda and more than a little bit of mind control when someone gets uppity. As Blood Elves have lost their connection to the Holy Light, Kael'thas had (shortly after the end of Warcraft 3, and as we find out shortly after attacking the Draenei) sent Silvermoon City a gift of a strange living being made of light named M'uru, who the Blood Elves also drained to utilize holy magic again.
The plot kind of goes on hold as new Draenei and Blood Elves go about experiencing original content as if they had been there all along (an awkwardness that would continue in each expansion), until reaching Classic level cap (60). There, they are directed to the Dark Portal which has JUST reopened (despite quite a bit of time passing for Draenei and Blood Elf players) after it opened for some reason (a demon used an artifact to open it, but the artifact was never mentioned, instead, his minion leads a counterattack to find an unrelated sword that was never mentioned again). Demons have streamed out, so the Horde and Alliance have pushed in and rejoined their long lost kin from Warcraft 2.
You reach a continent called Hellfire Peninsula best described as the surface of Mars, but with green fire and lava everywhere. After a brief skirmish, the old Alliance and new Horde come to a ceasefire in order to deal with the Demons. Players muck about for a bit here, coming into conflict with birdmen called Arakkoa who are apparently users of shadow magic which is all the explanation you need that they're bad, kill a lot of Demons and the mutated wildlife, and probably get stepped on five or six times by the giant Demon robot that wanders the zone. The Horde learn that the natural Orc skin color is actually brown after meeting a small group of tribal isolationist Orcs, and the green skin that's always been seen so far is the result of Demonic taint which carries generation to generation. The bulk of the zone fighting is against "Fel Orcs", which you come to find out are Orcs which have suckled the blood of a very powerful Demon players beat as Illidan back in Warcraft 3 named Magtheridon to mutate even further than their green-skinned red-eyed kin into hulking brutes with red skin and spikes painfully sticking out of their bodies. The area is home to a massive fortress players assaulted back in Warcraft 2 called Hellfire Citadel, containing multiple wings (Ramparts to the fortress, a lab where they inject Orcs against their will with Demon blood, the garrison within where you kill their leader Kargath, and finally the room where the Demon is kept as a raid where you kill him once and for all).
Players are then lead to Zangarmarsh, a giant mushroom swamp hearkening back to Warcraft 2 where giant mushrooms were everywhere and you harvested them for lumber. If you had gotten sick of the colors red and green, you're in for a treat; everything is now blue and yellow for the next several weeks of your life! Players meet mushroom men called Sporeggar who look like mushroom Gnomes and are about as capable of defending themselves as the Polish. They also reconnect with the Druid organization which has for some reason decided to defend the animals of this world too. Like the last zone, the player spends most of the area killing wildlife without much progress towards the main plot other than "you were here". Horde players find that the Trolls have established a town for the purpose of hunting, and the Alliance find some Draenei who built a small town on top of one of the giant mushrooms to hide from the Orcs. The main plot involves the Naga of Warcraft 3, who have drained most of the water out of the surrounding area to make themselves a giant steam-powered underwater facility because...reasons. To control water supplies. Really. One dungeon against plant monsters within the steam machine, one against the slavers taking captive mutated Draenei, and one against the garrison of Naga leading to the raid where players kill Lady Vashj.
After that, players find themselves in Terokkar Forest. Filled with more animals to kill, and the Arakkoa make a reappearance (as well as a few friendly ones that fled from their kin, with still little to no explanation as to why either group behave the way they do). The players meet back up with the members of their faction who are actually trying to get shit done with the Blood Elves and Humans having both established towns to strike at some evil Orcs in the area. Also in the zone, two giant mostly-destroyed Draenei cities. Auchindoun being a giant Draenei mausoleum city full of their ghosts, which thanks to the mucking about of the Orcs back in Warcraft 2 was filled with Demons. A few years earlier, it had blown up for no known reason (except the sound god they summoned, but the area was there before that, so whatever) leaving a giant ash and bone strewn waste around it. Inside are four dungeons, one being fighting against insane Draenei priests and ghosts, one against...energy mummies who are interested in commerce, one against Arakkoa in which you collect relics of a mysterious god-king named "Terokk" to prevent his resurrection which would apparently be a bad thing, and finally a wing against Demons and Demon worshipers. The second Draenei city is Shattrath, which was retaken from the Orcs by Draenei not long ago. An army of Blood Elves were dispatched to take it from them, but after receiving a vision of the future their prince was leading them to they swore loyalty to the Sha'tar, the Naaru (giant angelic living runes made of pure light) who guard the city. Shattrath was the first in a long tradition of a single city where Horde and Alliance both use, with a buff preventing them from fighting each other within the city (although not preventing rude emotes). Players pick between two factions, the Blood Elf Scryers or the Draenei Aldor to grind rep with representing a political divide in the city. No matter your choice, you still work on reputation with the Lower City refugees of all races from Dwarf to Arakkoa, and the Sha'tar defenders of the city. At level cap, after learning to fly in Outland, players could access cliffs where Arakkoa have set up a city and attempt to do vague shadow magic which is a threat to Shattrath for reasons, slaughtering the fuck out of them every day and bombing their village to earn enough reputation to buy a pet, a mount, and cosmetic tabard (great life lesson).
Players then progress to Blades Edge Mountains, the dominant feature of which is giant dead Dragons impaled on giant spikes everywhere. Also, more volcanoes and some forest. The area is mostly populated by Ogres, which players discover are actually the devolved kin of giants called Gronn, the first of which was a mountain that came to life (no explanation given beyond that) named Gruul which players kill in a raid. Alliance sees their own Druid forces take an interest in the wildlife, while the Horde gets the bulk of the story as they reconnect with the lost Thunderlord Clan, which is now lead by the old Warcraft 3 favorite Rexxar. At level cap, players can access a mountain range where the minds of the Ogres have been uplifted by mysterious Apexis Crystals. Calling themselves "Ogri'la", they seek to bring the Ogre race to Nirvana. Players get involved in the action by collecting large bunches of the crystals by killing everything that moves, then either using them to bait down large monsters to kill or by playing a game of Simon on mysterious ancient devices where you get electrocuted if you fuck up. The energy mummy Ethereals are also here, because reasons.
Players then progress to Netherstorm, resembling a giant purple Hellfire Peninsula but with lightning instead of lava. Once again, you will hate the color by the time you're done. Here players take their missions either from Goblins who have established a town called Area 52 dedicated to launching rockets and having Men In Black Goblins wiping your memories periodically (if you don't take a flying mount in anyway), and Ethereals which have set up "Eco Domes" and created jungles within because reasons although players finally learn some of the backstory of the Ethereals; creatures of the void called Voidwalkers (which Warlock players use as their damage-taking pet) destroyed their home planet ages ago, and only by becoming beings of pure energy could they survive and thanks to all the magic everywhere have taken an interest in Outland. Most of the fighting (that isn't mutant animals) is against the Blood Elves of Kael'thas, which by now you have found out are up to something shadowy and against the interests of Shattrath and the Horde/Alliance. At the culmination of the zone is another set of grouped dungeons and a raid, which are the four floating crystal castles (the Exodar was the fifth in the set). One is Blood Elves with a botanical garden growing abominations with magic for reasons, the second is a giant prison for Demons and other monstrosities, and the third is a garrison full of Demons and Blood Elves. In the raid, players find that Kael'thas has separated himself from Illidan (although both are utilizing Demons and have the plan of wiping out everyone else, Kael'thas has apparently decided that Illidan's plan is stupid and has relied more on magitek to...do all of jack shit other than siding with the Burning Legion itself over Illidan and his rebellion against it). Players kill him. You may have noticed by now that most of Outland follows a pattern.
Players then hoof it to Nagrand, which by polls from Blizzard was proven to be the best zone in the entire game according to the player base. Looking mostly like Africa except with floating rocks and beams of magic in the sky, Nagrand is home to the bulk uncorrupted Orcs called the Mag'har. Thrall travels to Outland and sees how his people once lived, and while there meets a whiny little emo kid named Garrosh that players have been trying to cheer up. Thrall, after finding out Garrosh is the son of Grom Hellscream, takes him back to Azeroth and appoints the sad crying hunter boy to be a member of his cabinet. Meanwhile, the Alliance quest for a group of Draenei in a city called Telaar. The zone continues the tradition of fighting Orcs, Ogres, animals, Demons, and Ethereals on behalf of other Ethereals as apparently the GIANT diamond ship the Draenei first used to reach Draenor, the Oshu'gun, draws Voidwalkers and enterprising Ethereals like a magnet. In the center of the map is a ruined Draenei city on a hilltop surrounded by cliffs called Halaa, which Horde and Alliance fight over for...reasons.
The final zone is Shadowmoon Valley, the place where the original Orc Warlocks originated. The entire land is dark gray/black and green with molten green lava on almost every surface. Kurdran Wildhammer, the Warcraft 2 crazy Dwarf riding a gryphon, runs the Alliance garrison in the area while the Horde are a newly established site. Demons and mutated wildlife are almost the entirety of the zone, with evil Blood Elves making up the last bit. The area is full of Draenei ruins as the bulk of their race once lived there. Scryers and Aldor both have towns in the area, and fight against the Blood Elves loyal to Illidan. In the southeast, a floating rock is home to a race of Dragons which were the mutated eggs left by Deathwing in Warcraft 2 which were cleansed of their "Always Chaotic Evil" curse as well as mutated by the magic radiation bathing the land. These "Netherwing Drakes" represent the single longest grind most players would undertake, doing multiple daily quests and hunting for their eggs to return for reputation in order to earn some as mounts. In the easternmost part of the zone is the Black Temple, once the Draenei equivalent to the Vatican which was taken over by Orc Warlocks when the genocides began and has since become the single most evil place anyone could visit, with the golden crystals turning black from pure evilness. Here Illidan has made his palace, and has given fully into insanity. Players undergo a long quest chain, starting with Akama and Maiev Shadowsong from Warcraft 3, and ending in gaining access to the temple via a broken hole in the courtyard where players slip in while the Sha'tar and a Naaru bolstered by both Aldor and Scryter battle the endless waves of Demons as a distraction. Beginning in the sewers, players slaughter their way through the remaining Naga, then wipe out the command of the remaining Fel Orcs from behind, and make their way into the temple where the kill the reborn Teron Gorefiend as well as a harem full of succubi and inebriated Blood Elves, finally working their way up to Illidan himself where players kill him. Logically, this would be the end of the expansion; all of the main villains dead, every single plot thread explored and finished.
Blizzard then released one addition; a zone existing north of Silvermoon was added, Sunwell Plateau consisting of an island full of Blood Elf buildings plus the building containing the Sunwell. The Blood Elves of Kael'thas regrouped and attacked the Well, slaughtering all of their player-faction Blood Elf kin they met and stole M'uru along the way. Here they seek to summon Kil'jeaden into the world through the Well, effectively fucking over Azeroth in it's entirety; all in a bid to save the Blood Elves loyal to him from what he sees as inevitability by signing up with the guys who wrecked his homeland and messed his people up in the first place (full-retard reliant storytelling). The Aldor and Scryers finally unite into one faction, the Shattered Sun Offensive, and fight to take back the Sunwell. Each day players would complete daily quests, and each contributed towards an unlock point where players would take more and more of the city, eventually pushing the Demons back to the Sunwell itself. A dungeon on the island contained more Demons and Blood Elves, the final boss of which was none other than the partially undead Kael'Thas himself. After his defeat (whereupon he apparently used magic to trick players into thinking they'd CUT OFF HIS FUCKING HEAD AND PRESENTED IT TO THE SHA'TAR) he wound up with magical crystals embedded in his body, keeping him barely alive. Players kill him again, permanently this time, then move onto the raid. After fighting your way through a metric fuckload of Demons and Blood Elves, players come to the Sunwell room proper. The plot that follows is completely reliant on a Warcraft manga that had wrapped up not long before, where the Sunwell energy had formed into a human girl named Anveena with amnesia who fell in love with the crown prince of the Blue Dragons Kalecgos. Players fight M'uru, who was drained so much of his magic that he reversed polarity and became a being of pure darkness instead of light. Upon entering the Sunwell chamber, players find Anveena suspended in midair. Kil'jeaden claws his way through the portal and his upper half fights the players (one can't help but imagine his army on the other side of the portal watching his legs flop about as he fights) before they defeat him and he is pulled back through the Sunwell. The girl sacrifices herself to once again become the Sunwell, which is purified by the leader of the Draenei Velen and the leader of the Blood Elf Blood Knight Paladins Lady Liadrin by adding what remains of M'uru to it, making it both a source of holy and magical magic (arcane is the generalized unflavored magic of the setting). Thanks to being bathed in magic once again, the Blood Elves no longer drink from Demons and the Demonic taint is burned from them thanks to the holy magic of the Sunwell (although they keep the green eyes, as apparently that's permanent; note that the Orcs kept their green skin). Both races kiss and make up, then none of this is ever mentioned again except in one quest chain for a fucking magic sword later that just kind of goes "yeah, that happened" as Blizzard mainly focuses on the new groups before reverting back to Orcs and Humans being the main characters of the setting.
Of course, there was a side diversion where in the old Warcraft world the "Caverns of Time" was opened in which players were sent by the Bronze Dragonflight (guardians of time) to go back in time to important events in disguise and prevent shadowy mysterious Dragons from mucking up time. Thrall's initial escape from the Humans, Me'divh opening the Dark Portal, and finally the big climactic Warcraft 3 battle where the Night Elves, Alliance, and Horde fight the Burning Legion.
Maiev Shadowsong becomes free again in the aftermath of the expansion and appears to have schizophrenia as she spends half her time teamkilling and half her time thinking about teamkilling.
The plot continues in a comicbook series (western this time, although really REALLY shitty) when the king of Stormwind named Varian Wyrnn came back and acted like a whiny little bitch causing there to be tension between the two factions when they had already done everything except SIGN a fucking treaty (A trade agreement consisting of lumber and food from the alliance for ore and exotic goods from the horde specifically. It's seriously that fucking simple apparently to have world peace). In the time between Nagrand and this, Garrosh has completely abandoned his weepy persona and has instead become a roid-rage dick who spends half his time openly criticizing his leader in front of foreign dignitaries, who he greets by telling them they are inferior to Orcs and threatening them if they don't line up to lick the boots of Orcs. Despite this, Thrall just shrugs his behavior off.
In another post-expansion patch, the giant tower of Medivh (guy who kickstarted the entire plot of Warcraft off) which exists as a giant mindfuck of magic temporal anomalies and undeath was added to the game as a raid. Inside players fight ghosts, Demons, Ethereals, and numerous other things before reaching the top of the tower which instead of leading to the top of the tower leads to the fucking asteroid void of evil where the Burning Legion makes their home. Yikes. Hints existed that like Castlevania, there was a second inverse tower underneath the first one (this was in one of the novels, but in-game the final boss is in the aforementioned fucking asteroid void of evil which the top of the tower overlaps with). Similarly, there was a creepy as shit crypt out back which players could bug their way into (usually exploring a bit before receiving a big fat ban for breaking the rules) although it was never implemented.
The expansion ended with a lead in event to Wrath of the Lich King (which was covered in the comics as well) where the giant floating pyramids of death used by the undead appear outside of racial capitals and spew undead (as well as a zombie plague that affected players). Eventually, the king of Stormwing rides a gryphon and crashes the one outside his city while Thrall (pissed his duel for leadership of the Horde with the uppity Garrosh was interrupted) simply throws the Doomhammer at it causing it to blow up. Both factions remember who the main villain of the setting has been built up to be. The Alliance sends Bolvar Fordragon, the regent in charge of the city while Wyrnn was away that players remember fondly for being the guy to turn in those fuckhard dailies to in Classic while for some reason Thrall appoints Garrosh to a position of authority over the Horde forces (alongside the Horde's Bolvar equivalent, Varok Saurfang). Que Wrath.
Wrath of the Lich King
WotLK was the second expansion of WoW and centered around the North po....I mean Northrend, tons of undead gubbins, Norse mythology, and Death Knights.
Follows the main plot of Warcraft 3 when the Scourge, sick of the Legion and random fucking jungles in the middle of nowhere getting all the attention, attacks both Stormwind and Orgrimmar by releasing another undead plague and using giant flying castles (which in the comics are killed by one fucking gryphon, and Thrall getting pissed and throwing a hammer at it). Both factions then remember who the main bad dude of Warcraft is (With the Burning Legion dead or MIA and the Old Gods still a footnote in lore, Arthas) and invade Northrend. But along the way, a new fuckwad son of Grom that Thrall met in Outland was promoted to a fucking command post, and he immediately attacked the Alliance which at that point was pretty on board with the Horde...which is another retard ball when you realize your captured humans never re-appear or get ransomed. (Read below for what happened)
Then, after players manage to get everything important done FOR the entire armies of their faction (which consists of 70% humans/orcs and 29% dwarfs and trolls and 1% everyone else except the Draenei and Night Elves, the latter pretty much sit in the corner and hum quietly). The main two leaders of the horde and alliance forces (the son of a very important and popular horde character, Varok Saurfang, and good old Bolvar Fordragon) call a truce and try to take the Lich King on themselves. This goes about as well as one would expect, with Arthas curbstomping Saurfang JR without much build up then making it clear he's about to kill the shit out of two whole armies for lulz. Then a group of Forsaken attack both sides, teamkilling everyone. And that just is the tip of the shit iceberg the Forsaken have been cooking to the detriment of both sides.
Wrynn, invading the Undercity, realizes the horrid truth when he sees human prisoners, who disappeared in captivity all these years had been tortured, experimented on and used as meat and disease resources, and attacks the city while Thrall is told by Sylvanas "Yeah, we did a lot of evil shit you told us not to do and it's biting us in the ass, we need halp plox ty". Wrynn sees the massively fucked up shit that the Forsaken have been doing, and declares war on the Horde while Thrall stands there wondering why his faction is so fucked up. (Hint: Sylvanas and her fucked up snuff surgeons might have a hand in that.)
Then come a subplot that eats up about six months of player's lives where you find out that Titans created Dwarfs and Gnomes, and viking giants named vrykul who are the ancestors to humans, as robots to help them keep the natural races of the world (mostly trolls, plus a group that mutated and became the first elves; night elves) in line. Then Cthulhu monsters (which before were just some minor thing not really important to the plot) made them fleshy for reasons and the robots forgot their entire purpose and started having sex and building castles instead. Then you kill another Old God locked in the Titan city Ulduar (one of Warcraft's most well-loved raids) made of mouths and tentacles, this one being responsible for apparently most of the bad shit that's happened in the world. Here's where most fans agree the lore rape really starts to pop in as a result.
Then another detour where you help establish a jousting tournament right outside the Lich King's castle. Yeah. That goes about as well as you'd expect.
Then, you finally help the Death Knights and Paladins of the world kill the Lich King...nah, not really. Turns out he was baiting you along the whole time trying to lure the best and brightest in the world directly to his doorstep to make a new generation of Death Knights capable of fucking EVERYTHING. Oh, but then Tirion Fordring (a character important to a Classic WoW questline, and had two books involving him from the Warcraft 2 era) gets empowered by the light, goes all 'DEUS EX MACHINA!' and breaks Frostmourne. The newly-freed spirits rebel and weaken him to the point that the players can deal a finishing blow. Arthas's father forgives him for killing him, then he dies. Meanwhile, MASSIVE amounts of undead that apparently Arthas was holding back on using for reasons are still around for no reason. Your friend and mine Bolvar Fordragon, charred to a crisp and barely alive/undead, puts the helmet on and condemns himself to a personal hell of keeping those undead from doing anything forever.
Players then fuck off back home, with the Death Knights keeping vigil in case Lich King Bolvar turns evil. However, expanded lore stated that Lich King Arthas' body and the pieces of Frostmourne mysteriously went missing, along with the phylactery of his right-hand Lich, Kel'Thuzad, who's the Smithers to Arthas' Mr Burns... in a plot thread that Blizzard has left hanging.
Wrath continued the badge/point system introduced in TBC, and would have been one of the best expansions for fixing many of the problems in Burning Crusade (primarily HUGE amounts of grinding and availability of gear), if it hadn't gotten rid of the original versions of Naxxramas and Onyxia's Lair and all the sweet-looking armor and weapons that dropped from them, especially Corrupted Ashbringer.
The expansion was notable for doing something not seen before in an MMO where it would have the main villain appear through the main story to make it look like the player was making progress in defeating him prior to the final raid against him. While this worked in most players eyes, it also pretty well de-fanged the Lich King as a threat since all his appearances had him getting driven off or defeated and just shrugging instead of vaporizing you on the spot (something he does to his own minions literally standing RIGHT next to you for the price of failure), sometimes because of him being uncharacteristically dumb, and supposedly this was all part of some master plan to use the heroes that fight him the raid as new champions, even though the plan involved sacrificing a bunch of powerful minions he already had that could have killed the heroes if he sent them all after them at once. Then again, since undeath is his M.O, after reanimating the heroes as his new champions he could've brought back those powerful minions the heroes killed as well. After all, he apparently does bring back Anu'barak (one of his lieutenants from Warcraft 3 and leader of the undead spider-people) ,an old dungeon boss as a raid boss so it's clearly something he can do.
Cataclysm (Otherwise Known as TRYING TO BE "World of Warcraft 2")
Cataclysm is the third expansion of WoW and centered around the
revival of a brood of EEEEEEVVVIL dragons known as the Black Dragonflight the return of the black dragons' big daddy: Deathwing; a business SO FUCKING serious that said returning tore the Classic continents apart... Or at least that was the excuse to revamp the "Old World" and try to make questing easier, and update the plot so you aren't reliving everything from Classic WoW every time you roll a new character.
The main plot of this expansion was that the Twilight Cult, who appeared in every expansion as some crazy cultist fucks worshiping the Old Gods, have finished healing another very important villain from Azeroth's past (for all the information about him, and his defeat, refer to an external novel; seriously, Warcraft by this point had made a habit of making the gameplay more in-game, while driving the setup for in-game plot into novels and comics). Deathwing then fucked up magnets in the Elemental Plane of Earth pissing off the main earth elemental Therazane, brought back Ragnaros from the Elemental Plane of Fire to fuck the world for lulz, and involved the Naga in their bid to take over the Elemental Plane of Water from Neptulon, the poppa water elemental. Also the Elemental Plane of Air guy Al'akir was there for some reason. He never really got much plot.
Players then drag their ass all over the world again, from the bottom of the sea to ancient Egypt populated by cat-taurs (not even joking), many of whom turned evil because they want to be robots (again, not making this up). You visit Mount Hyjal (meaning Blizzard finally remembered the Night Elves, as Hyjal's their turf and Ragarnos popped up there with plans to turn the World Tree into kindling to burn Azeroth), which is awesome, then visit the Twilight Highlands, which is even MORE awesome since it brought the Wildhammer Dwarfs (crazy CRAZY shirtless gryphon riders) and Dragonmaw Clan (crazy CRAZY grey-skinned dragon riding Orcs) into the game.
You fight a shit ton of elemental monsters, Twilight Cultists, Lovecraftian beasts, and dragons leading up to Deathwing himself. Also, a detour (which is fine for once since it
involves Trolls, and Warcraft Trolls are awesome ties into an ongoing plot for once).
Thrall gives up Warchief-hood, but becomes an even bigger Mary Sue in the process by becoming the savior of the world. He decides to put that fuckhead son of Grom, Garrosh, in charge for reasons (apparently it's because the horde is mostly full of jackass racist Orcs, and Garrosh was the only non-old Orc he trusted). Garrosh proceeds to turn the end of the world into one giant war against the Alliance where he begins somewhat noble and wanting more land for Orcs (though said land belongs to the Night Elves), and quickly goes into baby-eating insane when he imposes martial law, going from "get more land for orcs" to "kill all Night Elves".
The game also brought two new races into the game. Worgen, werewolves that are humans half the time and speak in a Cockney accent, and Goblins (long demanded by fans), who push that even further and have essentially a toxic wastedump of a racial home covered in neon signs, rockets, cars and giant robots everywhere. Surprisingly, this isn't lore rape so much as it is a complete sidetrip into comedy (it was still considered one of the best parts of the expansion by fans however, with MANY angry that the Worgen and Goblin plots, like the Draenei and Blood Elves before them, simply stop in favor of more Human/Orc bullshit).
In the end, you kill Deathwing and severely cripple another Old God who never shows whatever passes for its face (if it has one). The Dragon Aspects relinquish their demigod powers to mortals, with Thrall becoming the new Aspect of Earth. He also gets married and becomes a father. Yay, that was sure important.
Now all that said, Deathwing does manage to be the threat the Lich King should have been. His appearances have the NPCs of note trying all failing to kill him throughout the story and prior to the patch that introduced the raid where you kill him, he would randomly show up in the sky and autokill everything in an entire region of the world in flames.
Thanks to all of the revamping (removing one-sided hills and broken textures in areas players weren't meant to go) you could finally fly in the "old world", something players had wanted since Burning Crusade.
It made the game more challenging (until
the dreaded patch 4.2.0, which took the game's difficulty straight to hell, hell being piss-easy and brainless grind tailored for mouthbreathers. Remember gearscore? THAT'S the kind of retardedness I am talking about...and I don't want to even mention patch 4.3.0... patch 4.2.0 which broke down the barriers keeping players who spend all day on the game from reaching the level of players who do not by streamlining class mechanics and implementing the ability to simply queue for dungeons rather than actually have to find a group for them). Excellent expansion for the MOST casual of players, whose mindset is simple enough to withstand mindless grinding in the same six TWO instances day after day for months, doing the same daily quests over and over, watching those same bots in the auction house cut out your auctions over and over without Blizzard ever responding to your reports, and playing those two new battlegrounds to the point of madness...
Unfortunately, as great as some of the newer features were, Blizzard ran into a BIG snag; by spending the time of the devs working only on the revamped Old World, they only ended up with a small amount of endgame content which reused assets as much as possible along with a big update-less gap where players simply continued the same course of action (same few dungeons and dailies) for months. Many players disliked the new plots, and wanted to replay the content they knew and loved. Furthermore, playing a new character and feeling like a new part of the world was great until level 58 where they suddenly went back in time to Outland, and back in time to Northrend at level 68. Many fans considered Cataclysm as the worst expansion as a result not of actual mistakes, but of dropping the ball on content so badly. Later, Warlords of Draenor would show everyone what a REAL fuck-up looked like, and make everyone realize that Cataclysm was actually not that bad.
Mists of Pandaria
The fourth expansion for WoW, Alliance fans regard it as the best thing to happen to it since Burning Crusade, Horde fans regard it as the shit that killed the game. Turned the game slightly less easy and ensured the complete death of Star Wars: The Old Republic and Warhammer Online], leading to even more rage from nerds and neckbeard hipsters who hated the popular thing.
The continent of Pandaria was surrounded by mists for ages, which just decided to part a few months after Deathwing was killed. This place is full of drunken, happy, jumpy, fat-arse panda people, which are a playable race consequently leading to every goddamn furry who plays to spend $25 to race change on release so they can stare at a fat jiggly arse while their character engages in the horrid ritual of Caramelldansen. Alongside these disgusting creatures live some magic fish people (who are re-skinned Wood... Night Elves, and plot-wise are the evolved form of those annoying fish monsters that have been raping your corpse since your first day playing Classic WoW), talking monkeys that are obsessed with feces, rabbits who have replaced those annoying fish monsters in the exact same role that like carrots but not turnips for some reason, Lizardme.. err..."Sarlok"-I mean "SAUROK"-who kill and torture shit for fun, some race of all-male statue dudes called Mogu (except for two females hidden in a raid where you kill their leader Lei Shen, who stole titan power and used lightning to become God-Emperor of the Mogu) that like to torture pandas because they're ANOTHER RACE OF TITAN ROBOTS who are gigantic douchebags because they were supposed to be Robocops but lost the plot and became ED-209s, some unimaginative AZN style dragons, and yet another Tauren reskin.
While the whole thing was certainly more interesting than it sounded, with the storylines actually bringing players in to a degree not seen since Classic WoW, many players were left pining for high resolution models that Blizzard teased would come (as the face of the Pandaren female had as many polygons and moving parts as the entire Human model did).
While in Pandaria you find out that the place has an infestation of these Sha monsters which appear as black and white smoky-tar skeletons, which manifest in negative emotions. Stub your toe and next thing you know a bunch of black and white crawly bitches will be flying out of you and ripping up your shit. You find out quickly that they are the mortal remains of the only Old God that was ever killed prior to Classic WoW, and kill each of the papa emotions (pride, fear, anger, doubt, hatred, despair, and violence; which is not an emotion as Spite or Malice would've made a better sha and with a T-for-teen rating Blizzard wouldn't make a Sha of Lust and change the others so they could go for a 'seven deadly sins' reference) which results in mostly having finished off the still-living corpse of Y'Shaarj. The Horde and Alliance are at full out war by the end, and you the player are manipulated by the last surviving black dragon (who Blizzard flat out said is meant to be morally gray and neutral, and something of a mob boss personality. Way to let your players figure shit out of their own Blizzard).
Garrosh changes characterization for no reason aside from shitty reason and steals up the heart of an Old God and fucking up a huge amount of Pandaria just to for the sake of a shitty plot. After spending the entire leveling experience committing warcrimes for Garrosh, the Horde player revolts against him for no given reason, with the Alliance joining along as an ally in the crappy civil war. You massacre a very large chunk of the Orc population (which has massacred a large chunk of the rest of the Orcs) before defeating Garrosh himself.
Vol'jin, the old fan favorite Horde leader, is appointed the new Warchief while the Alliance (who's king had a huge chunk of plot development to become not as much of an asshole at the cost of good ol'Jaina Proudmoore flipping her shit and damn near starting an anti-Orc KKK while Night Elf military leader Tyrande Whisperwind somehow forgets her thousands of years of military experience to become purple Leeroy Jenkins with boobs) finally suggests peace between the two factions again. Of course we know that won't last, since they forgot that old lumber for tiger pelt agreement they had way the fuck back when.
Wrathion is FURIOUS, as he wanted the Alliance to crush the Horde then admit it's leaderless races into it's ranks to become one faction. He flies off, saying he will be more direct next time. Then players get sidetracked to visit an island that exists outside time to...fuck around. Kill shit, get loot. Like Valhalla, kind of.
The plot continues in a book (you were doing SO good there Blizzard...) in which the Horde and Alliance try Garrosh for war crimes (despite the fact that more redeemable villains, such as Nazgrim, were killed for less, and let's not even start with Sylvanas...). Garrosh is then given a time amulet you the player helped forge on the Timeless Island by a dragon who likes experimenting with time magic because reasons. He uses it to go back in time, and sideways into an alternate universe, where he prevents the Orc race (specifically his own father) from joining the demons prior to Warcraft 1. He gives them modern blueprints for warmachines used by Goblins along with techniques for modern armor and firearms, then after a few years uses the amulet to connect the Dark Portal to our present day Azeroth where the Iron Horde (the Warcraft 1 Horde, but with advanced technology and no demon worship) attacks seeking to conquer all timelines and universes for...reasons. Fuck, what a mess, and after such a good expansion too...
Since both the Horde and Alliance want Pandaria to be theirs, negative emotions are hardly a rarity, which leads to most of the expansion where you aren't fighting back the giant insects of tigers of the Vietnamese national forest being fights against big black and white crawly bitches popping up everywhere along the way or possessing other races to fight you. The first area in the continent has a reasonably nice storyline about said war but that only lasts for the first level, and then you'll just be killing bugs and picking up carrots until level 90 (this is actually fucking fun though, as the immersion and plot threads were well-done). You are also expected to listen to one
shitty and mediocre cool and relaxing Chinese restaurant backround track set at different pitches for every new area until you crave Asian food and by the end of the expansion plump up and don't shave until you LOOK like a Pandaren. Blizzard seems to think this is amazing and endlessly makes forum posts titled something like "You have your in-game music turned OFF?!?!". But still, Blizzard really saved the entire franchise with this game after the retardness that was post-4.2.0 Cataclysm.
The game implemented new systems everywhere, from new "for fun" items found all over the fucking place to hidden items which give you a few paragraphs of storyline info to Pokemon-style minigames involving cosmetic pets (not making this up, it was literally created just to keep players playing...and it somehow fucking worked). Most players find themselves giving up on being an adventurer, and retire for months on end to farm like it's Harvest Moon (again, not kidding). So many changes were made to the game it's hard to even list them, most of which were positive. Content (as in, the story) can now be experienced by even the most casual while the REAL challenge (and cosmetic rewards) still exists for hardcore gamers. But thanks to the ease by which players can simply que for content (including role-less, short three-man dungeons) players are now socially interacting at a minimum, seeing the game as mostly single player with multiplayer cooperation needed to attain their own goals. Players don't even fight over loot anymore, as you are automatically awarded something only you get (usually gold). In addition, Pandaria's plot was never fully clear; the Sha are bad, but you more or less stumble on them and kill them as they appear. The Horde/Alliance conflict was widely considered to be shit that appealed to few players. There were several major patches - one where you help your leaders create a base on the south of Pandaria and where WAR happens once more on Warcraft (oh, and Dalaran is purged because REASONS), the next where you prepare with Vol'jin the Darkspear Rebellion, and start attacking Kor'kron units in the Barrens, and the last patch where you besiege Orgrimmar.
In addition, the Pandaren themselves, while adorable mixed with kickass, flip between condescending about their fully neutral attitudes and entirely reliant on you to wipe their asses for them.
Warlords of Draenor (Otherwise Known as "World of Warcraft 2")
After a clusterfuck of a lead-in, Blizzard rolled out the 2014 Warlords of Draenor. The expansion is mostly noteable in it's massive increase in visual quality for the game, and the fact Horde and Alliance have separate storylines for the bulk of the questing. Side-stories are also tied directly into most player quests, so players aren't left wondering why they put off their orders of destabilizing the Lich King to participate in jousting or forgetting they've been ordered to the frontlines against the other faction in favor of growing turnips a mountain range over.
The lead-in event brought players to the Blasted Lands where the Dark Portal had been closed off from Outland and was rippling with new magic. The portal had been reconnected to parts unknown, and out of it charged Orcs with brown skin (meaning 100% free from any past Demonic taint in them or their parents, a rarity among all known Orc populations barring a small number in Outland) bearing weapons forged from unknown metal and utilizing advanced warmachines. They struck fast and hard, taking over outposts as well as making a beeline for Blackrock Mountain. The Horde and Alliance, now formally at truce, quickly determine these mysterious Orcs are being lead by Garrosh. Khadgar, the expert on all things pre-Warcraft 3, determines the portal now leads to an alternate timeline Draenor. The Horde and Alliance pick a team of heroes (mostly representing players) lead by the big name characters Thrall, Maraad, Khadgar, Vereesa, Baine, and others including YOUR character who is in charge of the entire expedition. Specialists are also brought, who become the subordinates of the player. After fighting your way to the other side of the portal, you find the Iron Horde has near limitless reinforcements. You quickly shut down the Dark Portal by freeing the evil warlocks (same old faces from Cho'gall, Gul'dan, and pre-Death Knight Gorefiend) who were being used as living batteries to power it.
After taking massive casualties, the bulk of the player stand-in NPC's are left to make a final stand so everyone with a useful skill or action figure can escape into the jungles. After making your way through you encounter each of the Warlords of Draenor and fuck up their plans. Alliance players along the way meet Yrel, described by Blizzard as "Draenei Joan of Arc" whom you eventually use as your second in command after several shared experiences as well as a Draenei Exarch (governor paladin) who brings you into meet and become an ally of the undestroyed Draenei race, while Horde players save Drek'thar's past self and he brings you in as savior to the Frostwolf clan as it faces extinction.
After blowing up the Dark Portal structure and ensuring the Iron Horde cannot invade Azeroth without going through you, Horde and Alliance go their separate ways via commandeered battleships (as this Draenor has oceans rather than outer space between it's continents). The Alliance sail to Shadowmoon Valley, a deep foresty place bathed in both holy and void magic due to the presence of many Naaru as well as one fallen Naaru in a stationary place in the sky over the area who causes it to always appear to be nigh. Shadowmoon is where the bulk of the Draenei race are settled and as a result much of the early questing involves proving the Alliance is not only trustworthy, but the only ones who can defeat the Iron Horde. After accomplishing this they supply your growing army, and you establish a garrison (which grows with the player until it's a fortress with a castle). Before long you encounter Ner'zhul, who split his clan along a faction that swears loyalty to the Alliance (yes, delicious chocolate Orcs in the Alliance) and his own clan which looks to void magic through the fallen Naaru to destroy not only the Horde and Alliance, but the Iron Horde as well to ensure his people's safety forever. He tries to accomplish this by sacrificing the souls of the bulk of the Shadowmoon Orc ancestors, and his own to take control of the Naaru before the Velen of the past sacrifices himself to cleanse the fallen Naaru after deputizing Yrel as a Vindicator (minor paladin). The player, their army, and that newly reborn Naaru travel to Karabor (the past version of the Black Temple, before being taken over by Orc Warlocks and becoming Dark) where the bulk of the Iron Horde's navy destroys itself trying to take it.
The Horde travel to Frostfire Ridge, the half-volcanic half-tundra home of the Frostwolf clan. Thrall meets his alternate parents, although he keeps his identity a secret (at one point Drek'thar compliments himself by saying that Thrall's teacher did his job well).
Both factions then progress to Gorgrond, the past version of the Blade's Edge Mountains and Netherstorm. Gorgrond is essentially if Australia and Vietnam had a baby which was raised by Mount Doom, being a place of savage jungle complete with treemen worshiping GIANT treemen who grow from GIANT GIANT lizard-taur tree hybrids called Genesaurs who want to mulch all intelligent life and in possession of very potent mind control fungus, the a large chunk of the Ogre (and almost all of their derivatives, the Tarrasque-level Gronn and the chubby Xenomorph Gronnlings) race, and finally the Blackrock Clan of Orcs. After establishing an outpost (or two) and pushing back the wild, players mount an attack on the Blackrocks and damage their infrastructure enough that their ability to replenish the rest of the Iron Horde is greatly diminished. Horde players ally themselves with the old Laughing Skull clan, which has experienced a change of leadership as a result of the attacks from the Iron Horde after their refusal to join. Alliance players find the Dark Iron Dwarfs are not only allies of the Alliance, but active members of it as they do the bulk of the non-Draenei heavy-lifting in the zone.
Players then travel to Taledor, part of the past version of Terokkar Forest. Here, players fight to repel Iron Horde invaders that have besieged Shattrath (which players sadly cannot enter and use as a city) while an alternate Burning Legion summoned by Gul'dan lay siege to past Auchindoun (the massive burial complex and artificial purgatory for the Draenei) for the purpose of eating Draenei souls. Most Draenei towns and cities have been destroyed by one faction of villains or the other, and players find themselves with a fair number of friendly Draenei refugees (yep, Horde gets delicious blueberry monstergirls... Draenei now). At the culmination of the zone story, the Horde and Alliance big name character regroup and lead an attack on the Iron Horde spearpoint force, fighting their way through to Blackhand's own battleship. The past version of Orgrim Doomhammer realizes that Blackhand will only lead the (Iron) Horde to ruin and challenges him for leadership of the Horde (just like in the original timeline). This time however, he faced a Blackhand armed with magical Truesteel armor and was killed. He is immediately engaged by Yrel, Maraad, and Thrall's father Durotan while the players and the other big names take a battleship nearby. The player is teleported to the main battleship, where Blackhand defeats everyone present (and kills Maraad) before grabbing Yrel and giving a monologue. Before he can snap her neck she throws her weapon to Durotan, who attacks Blackhand from behind allowing the characters to be teleported to the second ship which blows up Blackhand's (Blackhand somehow survives despite falling into the ocean while being clad in ALL the metal). The Horde and Alliance reaffirm their truce. A subplot in the zone involves the player helping Arakkoa refugees, who in Burning Crusade were
Tzeentchian Dark Crystal Skeksis you slaughtered wholesale because of a vaguely described plot involving them using shadow magic and dark powers which was a threat to Burning Crusade is Shattrath. The Arakkoa form you've seen since then is a devolved state due to a curse, and you see in Warlords that the uncorrupted Arakkoa use the curse as a means of weeding out undesirables in their society which gives them an excuse to commit genocide on them periodically.
Players are then sent to the Spires of Arak, making up the other half of old Terokkar Forest (and more). Players enter the zone by walking along a path with refugees they saved in Taledor, and upon reaching a ridge where a visible ornate city/nest sits on a mountain spire in the distance, a laser shoots from it burning away a large section of the forest in a literal localized exterminatus. The refugees flee to the city, where you meet a scholarly Arakkoa named Reshad along with his Kaliri (owl-things the Arakkoa use as companions you used to slaughter literally in hundreds in Burning Crusade) named Percy. Shortly after meeting him, the city is attacked by uncorrupted Arakkoa, slaughtering every defenseless civilian they can find. Until the player steps out of Reshad's hut, and reverses the situation (as well as finding relics of Terokk, old quest items tied to an instance in Burning Crusade). The zone questing continues along these lines, helping the corrupted Arakkoa and fighting the uncorrupted Arakkoa who seek to wipe them out. Many of the terms vaguely given in the old expansion, as well as characters who served only as boss fights, are fully elaborated on and the Arakkoa mythology and history is told.
Originally the race had three deities; Sethe (the name given to the undefined birdy evils in BC), Rukhmar (new term, mentioned once), and Anzu (old BC secret boss that Druids had to kill to earn the ability to turn into a bird who also later dropped a mount version of himself). Rukhmar was a sun-loving giant Arakkoa, Anzu was the god of giant ravens that only roosted in the dark, and Sethe was a being of evil and misery caught between both where he was chilled by the dark and burned by the light. Sethe one day chose to kill Rukhmar, and enlisted Anzu's aid; Anzu had a crush on Rukhmar and instead informed her and together they fought to defeat Sethekk. To stop the spread of Sethekk's dying curse, Anzu ate his body leaving him only a giant skeleton surrounded by cursed pools of his blood. Rukhmar then created the Arakkoa race players have been fighting which harnessed the power of giant crystals called Apexis (another old term from Burning Crusade that meant nothing until now) to run their great technology including giant robots (because it's fucking Warcraft, of course it has giant robots somewhere). Eventually the Apexis civilization exploded but the arakkoa lived on. The newborn Arakkoa fought constantly with most other races. At one point, the greatest king of the Arakkoa named Terokk lead his people into a golden age but his subordinates grew jealous and threw him into the cursed pools of blood near Sethekk's body. There, he lost the sun-blessed powers he once possessed and crawled through the muck trying to think straight with his addled mind. The rest of his followers were thrown in, and the council flew back to their nest-cities to lead the remaining Arakkoa into a decadent lifestyle which abandoned the knowledge of the Apexis. Upon finding the broken body of his daughter within one of the pools, Terokk surrendered to the curse of Sethekk. Anzu, observing the fall and abandonment of the greatest of his sister's followers, took pity and blessed them with clarity and shadow magic to replace their lost faculties and holy magic (seems dark/light is a theme of the expansion) while those too damaged to ever be sane again where taken by his wife Ka'alu to live among the giant ravens who were their mortal devotees. Terokk lead his people to establish nests on the ground, far from the eyes of their uncorrupted kin before losing his mind many years later and becoming the aspect that the player would one day fight against the resurrection of in the original timeline.
But in this new altered timeline, the player saves the refugees and gathers them into an army. After summoning Anzu and Ka'alu, players recover the artifacts of Terokk and by both reliving his life and at the same time forcing him into reliving yours, his spirit is cleansed. Together he and the player deal a crippling blow to the assassin forces of the Kargath Bladefist (one of the Warlords). Terokk, having lost the bulk of his remaining power, appoints the player as leader of his people. You then lead the ravens and corrupt Arakkoa to conquer two cities of the uncorrupted Arakkoa and destroy the giant sun lasers they use to burn the cities of the corrupted Arakkoa, invading the final city and putting the thread of Rukhmar's people down for good. You also establish a town for your faction, and save a town full of Goblins from their own fuckups. Tying back to the major plot, the groups you saved (Arakkoa and Goblins) now aid your faction. Players also find that the Alliance town established by their own quest-giver Admiral Taylor has been destroyed by Necromancers in service to the Cult of the Damned (yes, they apparently still exist). He joins the players as a follower posthumously (in the end, you wind up with a total of three ghosts wandering your garrison saluting you).
In the final zone available at launch, Nagrand (which largely resembles the original albeit without floating rocks and bands of evil light in the sky) players establish a final outpost. Players find the original Alliance town of the zone, Telaar, destroyed by the past Warsong clan who are intent on destroying every race and clan not their own and taking Draenor and all other lands for themselves. After stopping a plot to use the Oshu'gun (giant crystal spaceship the Draenei first used to reach Draenor) to summon Demons via void magic (as if you didn't know that was coming), calming the elements of the zone, destroying the leadership and the bulk of the Burning Blade clan of samurai Orcs before finally breaking their spirit by taking out their greatest champions in single combat (barring their new female leader who swears she will be the one to kill you), saving the souls of the Orcish ancestor spirits of the Warsong, and finally participating in gladiatorial arenas (the first because the prize money will aid your garrison, the second because the Ogres once had an empire here which they are trying to rebuild and it teaches the dumber clans not to rejoin out of fear of having their shit slapped by you personally) you reach the zone finale. Your faction gathers a fuckhuge army and assaults the Warsong clan base, wiping out most of the resistance and taking Garrosh prisoner. Garrosh and Thrall challenge each other to finish the duel to the death they started immediately before Wrath. After a beating back and forth, Garrosh hulks out and claims that only a warrior can lead the Orcs to their rightful place as masters of all creation. Thrall responds "fuck you, mono-faction development settings are shit!" and causes a giant fist to rise out of the ground to hold him in place while he's electrocuted by a massive lightning strike from the sky. The Horde and Alliance big name characters once again meet and affirm "yep, we're still working together in a friendly way" before deciding their next moves. To prove Garrosh really is dead, his corpse is actually left in-game within the giant stone fist only feet away.
Then a new patch added the truly final zone. There's lots of burnt trees and tainted ground because the blood of Mannoroth (the demon introduced in Warcraft 3 whose blood corrupted the orcs) has been seeping into the ground since Grom killed him. Gul'dan, sick of the player characters messing up his plans, confronts Grom. He spills the beans about Garrosh being Grom's son and overthrows Grom before corrupting the Orcs with demon blood. He takes Hellfire Citadel and taints it with even more demonic magic. Players fight their way through several bosses. First are demonic versions of Goblin machinery including a giant goblin mecha powered by demonic energy and the father of the Gronn race (a giant hybrid of ogre, gorilla, cyclops and rock). Then players fight Teron Gorefiend, who gorged on so many souls he's now a soul-eating fat bastard with a mouth on his belly. Then there's a council of corrupted Orcs and Kilrogg Deadeye, where you finally give him the death he foresaw. Then you fight your way through corrupted Draenei, including the ghost of a Draenei engineer with his own Wraithlord (which you can commander in the fight) and their leader, a fallen paladin who, going by her raid mechanics, really hates healers. You free Grom from being tortured by demons, fight a corrupted Void Lord then fight your way through Arrakoa to Gul'dan. He resurrects Mannoroth and you defeat him. Then you get to the portal where Gul'dan summons alternate timeline Archimonde and you fight him for a second time (this time without Wisp help). While dying, Archimonde blasts Gul'dan before dying and the Legion's plans for alternate timeline Draenor have been thwarted, for now. Khadgar thinks Gul'dan will be back and flies off while Yrel appears to forgive Grom despite his orcs killing a lot of Draenei including her sister.
The expansion changed quite a bit of the game's dynamic by focusing all professions on items that can only be made once per day, giving players access to NPC's who can craft the minor recipes of any other profession whether the player has it or not, and giving players renewable sources of raw crafting materials which made gear much more accessible to the community and ensured the players who have no life aren't as much above the players who do. The focus on a garrison with a fair number of different options as they are built added a choice and specialization dynamic to characters outside their fighting style. The most drastic gameplay changes were the addition of a "toybox" which converts old "for fun" effect items into spells rather than something to carry, a readjustment of stats in the game to reduce the numbers of some stats (which were approaching and surpassing millions) down into three digits without causing an effect on the actual PLAYING (so the simplification was to make gear easier to understand) which came with retooling abilities across the board. Each class was given more survival abilities while healers were nerfed to the point of having to choose when to heal rather than just spamming healing at all timies. Players were given new storage spaces for crafting materials of all kinds in their bank and items were made to stack in bunches of 200 rather than 20. Garrisons replaced any centralized city players would use, and gave the player a heightened sense of importance in the world. Rare spawns were retooled greatly, respawning quite often and being a somewhat expected part of the playing experience.
Oh, and flying mounts cannot be used in Draenor to promote exploration to find hidden treasures and quests rather than flying from point A to point B. Player reaction was mixed greatly.
Perhaps the most popular part of the new expansion, players received high resolution models, where player faces have a look and can emote rather than being a painted face on a flat model with flapping lips resembling a rhombus. Cut scenes make up a large part of the game's storytelling, with models which can actually make facial expressions like a Steam Film Maker model.
Ultimately Warlords of Draenor proved to be one of, if not the least popular WoW expansion to date. While the updated character models and sleeker cutscenes were definitely well received, they were overshadowed by a variety of issues that began to crop up as the expansion developed. The city of Karabor (an uncorrupted Black Temple) and the Bladespire citadel were initially planned as the Alliance and Horde hub cities of the expansion, though midway through the beta, these hub locations were hastily crammed onto the relatively controversial PvP island of Ashran, much to the chagrin of many players. Additionally, WoD has the fewest amount of content patches between all WoW expansions to date, only ever reaching patch 6.2 before Blizzard announced Legion (Most other expansions reach some iteration of either X.3 or even X.4 before the next expansion launches). At this point, what little development wasn't already focused on the upcoming expansion shifted over into full gear, leaving players high and dry for several months without any new content to tide them over until then. Because of the rushed development cycle, many of the features and raids that were planned (A raid on Shattrath City and the highly anticipated Farahlon zone are two major features) were axed due to time constraints or "story flow conflicts". Finally, the narrative became slightly disjointed and nonsensical midway through the expansion; while Grom Hellscream was announced and initially set up to be the final boss of the expansion, the role and theme was shifted to a demon-centric focus while Grom was "redeemed" (despite being personally responsible for all of the Iron Horde's atrocities up till just recently). Part of the reason is that Blizzard actually acknowledged that people were getting sick of everything Orc related (Didn't help that Garrosh was making everything extra orcy at the end of the prior expansion either), which is definitely saying something considering Blizzard's hard-on for everything orc. The other primary factor was simply that Blizzard likely acknowledged that between the dwindling subscriber count and mounting complaints regarding the expansion, it would simply be best to dismiss WoD as a lost cause and focus on churning out the next expansion to revitalize the diminishing interest in the game.
A tiny island from the previous games is now an entire continent. Each zone is dedicated to a former crowd-pleaser, including the vrykul (viking giants), the Emerald Dream, and a fourth race of elves: ones descended from good Highborne that locked themselves under a magic dome for 10,000 years because they thought the demons won (making the decision to give Night Elves mages to represent the original Highborne even more redundant). The Lore is based mostly on the War of the Ancients novels with a sprinkling of Warcraft 3.
It turns out Gul'dan was sent by Archimonde to one of those islands where he finds Illidan's corpse (which had been take by Maiev so she could trap his soul for eternity) and with the help of a brainwashed Night Elf steals his body. Later forces from the Horde and the Alliance attack the Tomb of Sargeras (with Varian, Genn, Jaina and Geblin leading the Alliance forces while Vol'jin, Thrall, Sylvanas and Baine lead the Horde forces), and make it to the beachfront despite heavy losses. Gul'dan stands at the gate to the Tomb of Sargeras as every major demon they've killed throughout the raids (except Archimonde, Kil'jaeden and Mannoroth) comes back at once. There is a fight between the demons and the joint forces army. The Horde army gets overwhelmed and Vol'jin gets stabbed by a Felguard, forcing Sylvanas to gather the Horde and retreat. The Alliance only saw the Horde retreating, not the demon army fighting them and some (especially Genn) assumed the worst. They tried to retreat on a gunship, but Gul'dan summoned a giant Fel Reaver to grab it. Then Varian decided to be awesome; He jumped off the ship to stab the Fel Reaver in the head and make it let go so the others could escape. However this left him stranded in the middle of the demon army. He tried to cut this way through them to Gul'dan, but two demons stabbed him in the back, then Gul'dan tried to mock him (it didn't work "For the Alliance!") and blew him up.
The Alliance mourn the loss of Varian, while Genn and Jaina put the fight against the Burning Legion on the backburner to plan for payback against the Horde. Genn attacks the Horde while Jaina leaves after a hissy fit when none of the other leaders side with her (even Horde-hating Tyrande can see the bigger picture). Among the Horde, Vol'jin is immediately killed by a random mook as part of a warped attempt by the writers to even the scales, even though Varian was leader since Wrath whilst Vol'jin only got the last expansion to be war chief and even then got to do nothing. He summons the faction leaders and then randomly (and to a huge uproar among the fans which creats a Broken Base) he names Sylvanas Warcheif with his dying breath (he cites it as the will of the spirits/Loa, though some fans suspect otherwise). The Burning Legion attacks during the funerals to try and assassinate all the faction leaders, but two of Illidan's demon hunters head to Stormwind and Orgrimmar respectively and reveal the ambush, thwarting the attacks. The Alliance and Horde return after the mages teleport Dalaran to the Broken Isles to serve as a staging area for combined (loosely) forces invasion. There are several areas, Azsuna, Highmountain, Val'sharah, Stormheim, Suramar and the Broken Shore. From there, the players lash out in search of the Pillars of Creation, artifacts the Titans used when they remade Azeroth,
to free N'Zoth to defeat the Burning Legion, of course.
During this time the Lich King Bolvar "reluctantly" broke his self-imposed exile and allied with the Death Knights of the Ebon Blade against the Legion. He contacts the player character Death Knights with his offer; however he also says aiding him is a condition for keeping the Scourge contained (the reason Bolvar took up the mantle in the first place); could the Lich King be planning some skulduggery? He outright says if the leader of the Death Knights (the player-controlled ones) die (lore-wise) he'll assume control and has plans for them. The player Death Knight becomes his champion, getting (up to) three sweet weapons stolen from the Burning Legion (including one forged from the pieces of Frostmourne), with the other Death Knights making the player character their leader. Understandably leery of the Lich King, the Death Knights keep an eye on the player character for everyone's sakes. Things get even shadier as the Lich King tries to reform the Four Horsemen (stealing the corpse of a Horde hero, an Alliance hero, an Ensemble Darkhorse and raid the paladin Class Hall for Tirion's body... the latter only failed because of Liadrin's defense and the Light itself burned the Death Knights and forced them to flee) and sends the player Death Knight to raid the Red Dragonshrine (making enemies of the Dragons, who don't die off due to a retcon following massive fan backlash over how Blizzard have been dragging them through the mud) to find the location of a powerful dragon's corpse to raise it as a special mount.
Though Gul'dan has Illidan's body, Illidan's soul is still free to communicate with player demon hunters, where he is on the run from demons in the Twisting Nether and names the player character demon hunters leader of the Illidari in his absence. Khadgar informs the player of a Light-infused object that landed in the ocean. It's retrieved and contains a message from Turalyon to bring it to Velen. It's taken to the Exodar, but the Exodar is under attack by the Burning Legion. It's revealed that the object is the heart of a Naaru, the Prime Naaru Xe'ra, who could have lots of information, and only a Naaru she made can access it. Unfortunately the demonic commander Rakeesh destroys the Naaru on the Exodar and they battle. Things get even worse when it's revealed said demon was Velen's son, abducted and corrupted into a demonic Eredar, as part of a big twisted plan for revenge by Kil'jaeden. Velen is devastated and has a crisis of faith. A conversation with the Naaru Prime Xe'ra hints that Elune may have made the Naaru at the beginning of the universe. Elune is also hinted to be a light-based counterpart of the Void Lords (making her either an angel-equivalent or Warcraft's post-retcon version of God). Xe'ra states that it seeks the "Child of Light and Shadow" who is destined to defeat the Burning Legion and that person is Illidan (dun-dun-DUN!)
In Suramar (a sunken but raised city in Warcraft 3 retconned into a city either ruined or protected under a magic dome), Gul'dan offered the Nightborne (some of the original elven race who weren't Highborne mutated by arcane titan magic) an alliance, asking for access to their Nightwell (very similar to the High Elves Sunwell, but better) in return for their lives and power. Its implied he uses magic to send their leader false visions of all of them dying if they refuse and most of the Nightborne government decide to ally with the Legion. Some refuse, and the player allies with those who survive to aid the rebellion.
Things get heated in Val'sharah. Cenarius is found corrupted, while the druids and the player characters deal with the rise of the Emerald Nightmare and the return of Xavius (the first Satyr returned from being stuck in the Emerald Dream who now serves the Old Gods). He corrupted several druids and is one step ahead of the player. Eventually Ysera, the green dragon's leader, is summoned. She authorizes use of the Tear of Elune. The player tries to retrieve it but it is stolen by Xavius. Malfurion is captured and Ysera is corrupted by Xavius by stabbing her in the chest with a corruption-filled Tear of Elune (one of the five aforementioned Titan macguffins). Tyrande frees the player and the two of them track Xavius down. Xavius sadistically forces Tyrande to choose between serving Elune and saving Furion; she chooses the former, sending players to help the latter. Under the Nightmare's influence, Ysera attacks the temple of Elune in Val'sharah, but is mercy-killed by Tyrande, the player character and several Night Elves and druids. Upon Ysera's death, the goddess Elune herself performs a miracle that cleanses Ysera's soul of the corruption and purifies the Tear of Elune so the players can use it. To resolve the situation, the player characters later enter the Emerald Nightmare as a raid. Apart from corrupted dragons and Wild Gods the only other bosses are Xavius himself and a sentient Lovecraftian tumor made of eyes, mouths and tentacles that looks like a brain smushed with a heart (the latter spouting some foreshadowing). Eventually Xavius himself is reached and killed with the help of Ysera's spirit. The Emerald Nightmare recedes and the Emerald Dream is cleansed, except for a Void-corrupted flower hidden in a cave, which the Shadow Priest dagger Xal'atath (Knaifu to fans) comments is a sign that
N'zoth's prison is weakening so it must make preparations everything is fine...
- Some tauren and undead elf ghosts do things. Not important things, but things.
- In Stormheim there are a group of titan Keepers who are pretty much expies of Norse mythology (they live in a floating city made from part of Ulduar, a popular raid from Wrath of the Lich King, and their leader has two pet ravens and is named Odyn, seriously, Blizzard? Odyn? At this point with a character called Loken, Tyr, that was pretty much given). They're in a war with a Hel-expy called Helya who is making a deal with Edge Queen Sylvanas to take control the good, titan-based Val'kyr. Genn Greymane, leader of the Worgen, thwarts Sylvanas' plan by freeing the Val'kyr leader Sylvanas captured (some say: long live the Werewolf King!). The conflict is resolved in the "Trial of Valor" raid where the players kill Helya, who is the final boss, at Odyn's behest and break her curse on him... though Helya did it because Odyn wanted to conscript the dead in an elite army and force someone into a shadowy undead existence to facilitate the recruitment: forcing the latter on Helya herself, despite him being her adopted father, when she opposed his plan. The morality of Odyn's actions is never addressed, but then Blizzard is not known much for giving a hoot about details and any logic consistency nowadays (keep in mind how they tried to sweep Sylvanas' war crimes under the rug)... unless Odyn is a future raid boss, but he is written as a jolly bro-king, or not. At this point anyone that knows a bit of him dislikes the dude, mostly because HE KEEPS DEMANDING YOU SHOW YOUR WORTH TO HIM. ALL. THE. FUCKING. TIME. Its even WORSE if you are Warrior, because you are supposed to ALREADY be WORHTY (since it's a warrior culture, maybe Odyn doesn't want the player character to become complacent or rest on their laurels).
- The Nighthold, the palace of Suramar, is raided. The Nightborne leader is killed but briefly returns to life through time travel, realizes the error of her ways and uses her remaining power to help the players fight Gul'dan (who is trying to use Illidan's body as a vessel for Sargeras). After the players defeat Gul'dan, Illidan returns to life and kills Gul'dan while the players get the last Pillar of Creation, before ordering the players to follow him as he wants to raid the Eredar capital of Argus (it was a KILL STEAL like Thrall, but better because at least we get some good imagery with Illidan holding the asshole skull like in the BC cinematics). The Nightwell is shut off (dooming everyone in the city who can not eat a piece of slowly-growing fruit from one magic tree outside the city to a slow and painful death).
- Later on the Tomb of Sargeras is entered which contains, among other things, an avatar of Sargeras himself and Kil'jaeden, current leader of the Burning Legion with Sargeras in limbo (revealing that Kil'jaeden wasn't at full strength when fought in Burning Crusade, which is kinda obvious his legs were still inside the Sunwell, so he was at half his power...because that is how magic works). Fighting Kil'jaeden takes place on some interdimensional Burning Legion vessel alongside Velen (who's had enough of running and wants payback regarding Rakeesh). When you defeat Kil'jaeden the vessel starts to dive to Argus and crash-land. But Khadgar teleported everyone away after Illidan opened a huge portal between Argus and Azeroth. Kil'jaeden and Velen share some parting words, where Kil'jaeden admits his motives and admiration for Velen, who touches his forehead and disappears. Kil'jaeden dies, exploding and taking his vessel with him, and since it was in the Twisting Nether this means Kil'jaeden is gone for good, cutting the head off the Burning Legion. Back on Azeroth it's revealed the huge portal is stuck open, doing the Legion's work for them instead of just sending raids to Argus. Even Dadghar got pissed at that, and that guy is cool as a cucumber.
- Everyone heads to Argus to take out the rest of the Burning Legion's command center. Once there, they find the remnants of the Army of the Light (including pre-WoW favorites Turalyon and Alleria; the latter being conflicted about her skubby sister's "Queen of the Undead" power trip). They revive the Prime Naaru Xe'ra and bring Illidan to her. She thanks him for what heroic stuff he has done (a first), and tries to imbue him with the Light and purge him of the Fel, forcing it on him when he said he wasn't interested. Illidan refused and after being forceful Xe'ra got jobbed by Illidan (to the outrage of Turalyon), her death cutting the head off the Army of the Light (and unintentionally making the Burning Legion's job easier), which can come across as hypocritical given that Illidan did worse to Akama for similar reasons. On further SKUB, Alleria was imprisoned by Xe'ra because she was using the Void - the Light's archenemy whom Xe'ra loathes at a personal and fundamental level. While Velen himself seems conflicted about Xe'ra death, as he says himself that he has been forced to do the Naarus bidding before (which is either an expansion or contradiction of the lore about the Naaru).
- It's revealed that Sargeras has spoiler: captured all the other Titans save Eonar and Azeroth and is trying to force them to serve him in this titan fortress on Argus called Antorus, the Burning Throne. He successfully swayed Aggramar, is hunting Eonar and had enslaved a hitherto unknown Titan which was hiding in Argus, called Argus the Unmaker, to power the Burning Legion.
- After Argus is defeated Sargeras himself shows up and engulfs Azeroth in cloud form. The Titans souls and Illidan band together to imprison Sargeras at the Seat of the Pantheon forever. Illidan gives a farewell message to the player, Furion and Tyrande. Back on Azeroth we find out Sargeras has stabbed Silithus, which is leaking Azeroth's blood, potentially becoming a second Well of Eternity.
- We are definitely NOT being manipulated into opening N'Zoth's prison. Not one bit. There is no traitor, don't be paranoid. Your friends WILL NOT betray you.
Battle for Azeroth
Surprise! The next expansion
isn't will eventually become Old God-centered. We're going back to the faction war. Each major faction tries to claim their continent. As the Horde move to claim the Night Elf lands in what will be called the War of Thorns, the shitstorm is in full swing. The Horde sneak around the mountains and defeat the Night Elves army, whose forces are spread thin across Azeroth. Their druid leader Malfurion tried to solo Sylvanas but after nearly killing her, he was downed by an axe in the back from SAURFANG of all people. Tyrande showed up and saved Malfurion's life but they were forced to flee. Originally planning to occupy the giant tree Teldrassil, Sylvanas went and ordered it burnt down to demoralize the Alliance and to spite the dying Night Elf commander who said Sylvanas can't kill hope, even though the Horde had won and there were only non-combatants in Teldrassil at the time. A handful of people are evacuated from Teldrassil but the majority die. After Sylvanas went full terrorist on Teldrassil, the displaced Night Elves head to the Eastern Kingdoms (the Night Elves really are being treated like the Horde's punching bag) with the Azuremyst Isle Draenei being the last Alliance holdout in Kalimdor.
However, Anduin evolved into MANduin! The Alliance bands together to retaliate, attacking Lorderaen to deal with the Forsaken once and for all. The survivors most effected, the Night Elf leaders, are absent because one - big daddy druid - is recovering from an axe in the back and the other - hot moon priestess - is nursing him back to health. The Horde forces lose and are forced to retreat. However, in a show of plot armor, none of the Horde leaders turn on Sylvanas, not even dishonor-hating Saurfang (who was so disillusioned with the Horde he nearly committed suicide by soloing the Alliance army). Sylvanas heads further into villain territory when she flooded the battlefield with the Blight and Horde soliders were caught as collateral damage... but then JAINA made a comeback on an arcane-empowered ship (which could now fly), dispersed the Blight and breached the defenses. When Anduin, Genn, Jaina and Alleria confronted Sylvanas, Sylvanas rage-quit and flooded Lorderaen with the Blight which would've killed them if Jaina didn't teleport them out. The end result is that the Blood Elves are the last Horde holdout in the Eastern Kingdoms.
Seeking to gain more allies, Jaina and the player characters head to Kul'Tiras, but Jaina's on bad terms with her mother Katherine for letting the Horde's army kill Daelin, Katherine's husband/Jaina's father, so Katherine exiles Jaina and refuses Anduin's request along with imprisoning Alliance player characters. After being broken out of jail, the Alliance players have to get their allegiance by solving problems in Kul'Tiras and helping fix the issues the Proudmoores have. After outsting the traitor, Lady Ashvane, Jaina is now in charge of Kul'Tiras, but Ashvane later gets sprung from jail by Sylvanas to help the Horde. Meanwhile the Night Elves mobilize the majority of their army under their faction leaders to try and take their ancestral home back from the Horde's forces, retaking enough to establish a base and are starting to push the Horde occupiers out, but both sides get bogged down in a guerilla war. Sylanas responds by going full Arthas and raising the dead against their will to serve as commanders and reinforcements - including the aforementioned Night Elf commander - while the moon priestess Tyrande becomes an avatar of her goddess' wrath.
The Horde travels to Zandalar, to met god-king Rakastan of the Zandalari trolls and help him fight a rebellion against his rule. The Horde learns about G'huun, a blood god trapped in an abandoned Titan facility; the Titans used the facility to experiment on the Old Gods to learn about them and accidentally created a new Old God-like being, at which point they promptly closed the facility and buried their mistake. During this, King Rastakhan's advisor Zul is revealed to be a traitor and kills Rastakhan's Loa, so he made a deal-with-the-devil type arrangement with the loa of death Bwonsamdi, which will also follow his bloodline forever. After Jaina took control of Kul Tiras, she led an attack on Zandalar which resulted in the death of King Rastakhan, shoving the Zandalari into the arms of the Horde. Princess Talanji became queen and also inherited her dad's pact with Bwonsamdi. Meanwhile Sylvanas continues to raise dead Alliance soldiers and heroes into undeath, some of them against their will, which is provoking resentment if not outright dissent among Baine when this is done to Derek Proudmoore - despite the fact that Sylvanas has done this many times before and that Baine didn't dissent even though he seemed to oppose the slaughtering of Night Elves and raising tauren as undead even more.
New races join both factions: the Horde gets the Highmountain Tauren and Nightborne from Legion as well as Zandalar trolls (the Horde being more familiar than the Alliance with how a few bad seeds can make the whole faction look bad, yet that doesn't always mean that's the case) and Mag'har orcs (unaltered Orcs from alt-Draenor seeking refuge from Draenor which is now a desolate wasteland and the Draenei who formed an army of Light extremists seeking to settle old scores with the Orcs or convert them). The Alliance gets Void Elves (a "small number" of elves Alleria trains to use void powers, which sounds more like a class than a race but whatever), Dark Iron Dwarves (who have been working with the Alliance since Cataclysm), and Lightforged Draenei (Draenei who are pretty much non-asexual, gender-balanced Salamanders that serve Warcraft's Light instead of the Emperor and don't Exterminatus) and Kul'Tirans (burly or chubby humans with an affinity for sailing and the ocean). Major gameplay features include Warfronts, which are
nostalgia bait for fans of the actual Warcraft RTS games focused around building bases and units and gathering resources in enemy territory to fight back against the incursions that both factions have made, and some randomly generated islands that players will figure out the optimal way to clear in a week enjoy for the entire expansion.
Also, Queen Azshara is stepping into the spotlight as the big bad in a new and tentacled form. She might have married N'Zoth, who is an Old God that looks like an octopus with more tentacles and a head made of mouths and eyes. Azshara uses arcane magic and one of the Pillars of Creation - which she somehow stole - to raise her homebase of the past ten millennia, Najzatar, from the seabed (a story element mostly used for gameplay reasons, since Vash'jir from Cataclsym had underwater mechanics yet proved complex and unpopular). This involved a move from Sylvanas which implies she knew what was coming and led the Alliance fleet there to decimate it at the cost of her flagship (either Just As Planned or Sylvanas is being used since Xal'atath's blade is involved). The players explore this realm while finding allies from the locals and learning that Ashvane had ultimately allied with Azshara the Naga. In the raid the player fight alongside Jaina, Shandris, Thalyssra and Lor'themar (Tyrande and Furion are busy retaking Kalimdor for the Night Elves, thus don't show up despite some fans hopes) to clear Azshara's palace (including killing Ashvane who, big surprise, gets double-crossed by Azshara and killed by the players). Then we face Azshara herself and learn her master plan during the fight; she wanted the players to come to her so she could co-opt the power from the Heart of Azeroth necklaces to break the chains of N'Zoth's prison. Though Azshara is beaten into submission by the players, her plan succeeded and N'Zoth is freed, grabbing Azshara with his tentacles before disappearing to parts unknown and leaving the characters with an vague but ominous warning.
N'Zoth proceeded to raise the city of Nyalotha from the depths and spread his corruption across Azeroth. The adventurers go there, with a link to channel all the power the Titan Azeroth can muster through them and the Titan defences to kill N'Zoth, but if that one shot fails, N'Zoth wins. In Nyalotha, a lot of thing are learned about Azshara. For one, she's still alive. Two, she was planning to betray N'Zoth and take his power for herself. Three, N'Zoth knew of her treachery, so Azshara is found imprisoned and being tortured by N'Zoth's servants to punish her and break her mind into being loyal to N'Zoth. After N'Zoth's servants are killed, Azshara offers Xal'atath, saying it's vital to killing N'Zoth before saying she seeks the true throne of power and teleporting out.
Blizzard finally made it official that Sylvanas is a villain. She's revealed to be a chief agent for the Jailer, a powerful death being who resides in the afterlife and is responsible for her increased powers. With her newfound powers, Sylvanas solos Icecrown and defeats Lich King Bolvar. She then precedes to chain him up and shatter the Helm of Domination, which made a hole in the sky over Icecrown that leads to the afterlife, which is where the expansion takes place. There are different parts to the afterlife, such as various purgatory-type places, afterlives for reincarnation and a place called the Maw which is essentially Warcraft's new version of hell.
Just like how Warlords let Blizzard use long-dead characters again without retcons, the expansion features constant reminders of old characters, quests, dungeons, raids, and anything else that has a reference fans will recognize.