World of Warcraft
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"Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down and short is long
And everything you thought was just so
Important doesn't matter
Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along
All you need to understand is
Everything you know is wrong"
Weird AlBlizzard's writers at every second expansion's release
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. But be warned: Wikia's dumbfuck UI is slowing eating that wiki.
- 1 Setting information
- 2 Geography
- 3 Factions and races
- 4 Classes
- 5 Plot summaries
- 5.1 Important Characters
- 5.2 Alliance
- 5.3 Horde
- 5.4 Neutral
- 5.5 Classic
- 5.6 Burning Crusade
- 5.7 Wrath of the Lich King
- 5.8 Cataclysm (Otherwise Known as TRYING TO BE "World of Warcraft 2")
- 5.9 Mists of Pandaria
- 5.10 Warlords of Draenor (Otherwise Known as "World of Warcraft 2")
- 5.11 Legion
- 5.12 Battle for Azeroth
- 5.13 Shadowlands
- 5.14 Dragonflight
- 6 See Also
Light and Void
The two primary forces in the setting. Retcon time! Two of a myriad of forces, these two were nailed down as the Big Bang of Warcraft. MORE RETCON TIME! The six forces in the image may be equal with Death as the top dog. In earlier versions of the plot, 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 a god; however in the RTS games the Light was the big-G God, maybe even the Judeo-Christian God. Retcons strike again), now it's an unspecified holy power which can be called upon if you assume that you can and grants courage and willpower (unless you're drawing on another power besides Arcane). The Void eats things and can turn you insane, yet also grants creativity to living beings. Both can give prophecy and visions of the future, but neither has the full picture (the Light causes zealous certainty while the Void causes maddening doublethink).
Originally the Light vs Void conflict was Good vs Evil, but Blizzard made some of the Light's followers ruthless and having people listening to the Void fighting its corrupting influence. Despite Blizzard bending over backwards to try and give the Light a bad side, the Light is still much better than the Void (Light nurtures while Void consumes, the Void's endgame is to corrupt a Titan and destroy everything else while the Light at worst just wants to stabilize and rule everything).
The angels of the setting and Vorlon knock-offs, the Naaru are glowing windchimes/energy beings with crystal "bodies". Their mission is to keep the other cosmic forces in check and bring hope, they are (supposedly) powerful and (mostly) benevolent but do not do much. Their names all have apostrophes in them. Despite the Light's primary enemy being the Void, the highest-ranking Naaru encountered thus far, Xe'ra, concentrated her efforts on fighting the Burning Legion until her story turned to Skub and she was jobbed to shill Illidan (more on him below). They can also reproduce somehow and some have genders.
Most of them try to heal worlds ravaged by the Legion or the Void, with the ones encountered so far helping or assist the player characters and heroic factions. When a Naaru dies or gets infused with Void, it becomes a void god and starts eating things, unless it is completely destroyed (since Xe'ra didn't turn into a Void God during or after her jobbing death) or can be reset to being a Naaru if they're not killed. A Void Naaru that's killed goes to the Void. Naaru can build crystalline spaceships, which the draenei then crash.
Originally the Naaru were all good except when they got void-infused, but Blizzard decided they needed an edgelord retcon and suddenly undermined their good guy status to make some "Extreme order/religious extremist" villains (Lawful Neutral but the story treats them like Lawful Evil; pay no attention to their valid complaints, such as the Iron Horde or Old Gods) because it wouldn't be a Blizzard game without a force of Order getting the villain bat (note, they set up the Titans for this in Wrath, then changed gears in Legion and did it to the Naaru).
The Old Gods
Giant Cthulhu space cancer sent by the Void Lords to consume planets and find and corrupt a Titan worldsoul. They corrupt everything they touch and that serves them. 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 if they are killed) 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 until it was killed once 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. This stuff, called Saronite, on the other hand is one of the most corruptive substances on the planet and only the Undead can actually use it safely, due to the Lich King overriding Yogg-Sarons whispers. Claims to have invented Death, and was implied to be fighting the Lich King for control of the Scourge (or subtly drove Arthas down his road when he was in Northrend, it's not really clear). Has minions called the faceless ones (think Illithid, but with no mouth). Killed during Wrath, but Legion hints it's either making a comeback or manifesting something like the Sha.
- 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-throne of
R'ylehNya'lotha (by summoning it to the past from a future where he had already built it) and started driving people around the world insane for a few hours, only to get promptly Kamehameha'd by the player.
- 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 Xal'atath, who was an Old God that got eaten except for a single claw that became a dagger her essence inhabits. 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 Voidwalkers are void-elementals that act like demons but are not.
It turns out that the voidwalkers, with their secret leaders called the 'Voidlords', are now part of the primary evil force in the setting. Not just the Void being the source of metaphysical evil, but the Voidlord leadership disturbing Sargeras into creating the Burning Legion in order to stop them, and inventing the Old Gods as planet-eating, people-corrupting probes.
Even less is known about the Voidlords themselves, though according to Xal'atath (so already dubious), the "faintest echos" of one of them led to the destruction of the Space Mummies' (Ethereals') planet. Major deal danger until the next retcon.
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 above). The Titans themselves can grow 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. Legion revealed that Sargeras' master plan was to restore the Titan Pantheon to their full power with the others under his control - he succeeded in turning his former understudy in demon-killing - Aggramar, birth the Titan Azeroth, make her his consort and finish his work of killing everything in the universe. The Nathrezim had also subverted Sargeras' plans and corrupted Argus to use his soul as a weapon against the Arbiter in the Shadowlands.
Elune (or Mu'sha, as she is called by the tauren) is the primary goddess of the night elf pantheon and a major goddess of the Tauren. 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 indicated 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", at a point when the Light was already part of the setting and she was introduced alongside the Titans, the Tauren's Earth Mother and the Wild Gods like Cenarius... until that lore was retconned too.
Leaks from Shadowlands suggested that Warcraft would go the DnD route with levels of gods, and Elune is a god - known as one of the "First Ones" - who's ranked just below the ultimate big-G God of the setting. This seemed further reinforced when Elune's champion Tyrande soundly defeated the Jailer's champion Sylvanas. Then she was revealed to be the sister of the Shadowlands entity the Winter Queen, making Elune just a "Life Titan" (which raises more questions than answers).
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. It exists so that if the Old Gods break out and Azeroth goes to shit, it can be copy-pasted onto the world via the Re-Origination procedure, completely wiping out all previously existing life 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). That is i-
Suddenly, RETCON VIA EXPANSION PACK!!
Oh wait, it is actually a series of floating afterlife-continents that souls are sorted into. Also contains a whirlpool/black hole called The Maw, which is Warcraft's equivalent of hell. All other places in the Shadowlands give the dead soul an afterlife where they will be transformed into a part of that afterlife, though it may not happen quick - as in, within the first two millennia of you being there. All of it is supposedly created by "The First Ones" who predate even the Titans.
In the metaphysical middle of the deathly pea-soup is the Oribos, a floating city-tower/airport where souls are sent to be judged before being sent off to the appropriate afterlife. It's the "city" of the Shadowlands expansion.
The First Ones
Remember the Titans above? These long-dead gods have their whole deal but one metaphysical level higher. From their HQ under the Shadowlands, they mixed the six forces of the universe in a giant factory and built the six planes and reality in the center. Afterlives are smelted in a big ball and sent off to float wherever. Then they 3D-printed the gods of the Shadowlands and had some secret plan that we don't know. The Jailer thought that plan was doomed to fail for reasons we don't know, so he tried to break the system through unspecified means. For his actions, the other secretly robotic gods subdued him, evicted him and locked him in the Maw.
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 to embrace nihilistic violence. 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 with fel as a by-product of that, but 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).
Also, for another retcon, one of the higher-ranking types of demon in the Burning Legion, the Nathrezim, turn out to "actually" be the agents of a death titan-equivalent who's playing 5d chess trying to infiltrate and defeat the other cosmic forces and screwed some of them over.
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
two threefour 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 then 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. Tied with Greens in terms of how much they suck at their job, being subjugated, corrupted and killed at every turn for the PC to step in and save the day.
- 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. Only two uncorrupted black dragons remain in Azeroth (not counting player mounts and pets) are Wrathion and Ebyssian (both of who were purified of Old God influence by the power of the Titans).
- Chromatic dragons are evil mixtures of all types of dragons, made by Deathwing's eldest son Nefarian. Chromatus was a five-headed example and the most powerful one produced, nearly defeating the Aspects themselves in battle; he was eventually incapacitated and his body locked in a magic vault since his artificial nature and combined draconic powers have 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 and strongest, but they work directly for Deathwing. Some of them got infused with even more Void power and became Void dragons, who have tendrils on their heads and radiate Void energy. The most powerful Void Dragon was Vexonia, who wanted to make all dragons serve N'Zoth and was worshipped by a cult as a demigod under N'Zoth.
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. Stormwind city proper serves as the de facto captial of the Alliance and Stormwind in general serving as the main staging ground and backbone of the the Alliance war machine (as of BFA also home to the bulk of the Gilneas and Dark Elf refugees). 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. Given everything thats happened to it the plague bombing was almost a mercy kill.
- 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 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 Cornish 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 became ruined and infested with criminal scum, ogres, and trolls. BY WOWBFA it had become a major warzone between the Alliance and Horde both wanting to use it as a staging ground to attack the other. Lore-wise the Alliance was victorious and Stromgarde and its capital was reclaimed and is finally in the process of rebuilding.
- 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 patrol 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.
And the ones that aren't part of the Eastern Kingdoms...
- 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. When it became apparent that they were going to lose the war against Arthas and the Argent Crusade, they killed their gods to take their powers, which is pretty fucking metal if you think about it.
- 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? They shit in the woods that's why!), 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. Has a running talent of being besieged multiple times but always seems to avoid destruction thanks to truces and plot-armour.
- 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. Teldrassil and its surrounding areas remained a burned out ruin until the Night Elves retook it for the most part in BFA war of thorns. As of the ending of the fourth war the Night Elves are anxious to begin rebuilding Teldrassil.
- 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 South Pole of Azeroth, except in the North (there is actual land in Northrend like Antarctica unlike the Artic). 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 arachnids who evolved from Aqir that had survived the continent cracking event known as Sundering, that had split Kalimdor from Northrend. Nerubians like their Aqir ancestors are a cruel, xenophobic and hyper-isolationist species with a hard on for culture and engineering, as well as architecture and magic so juicy the Lich King killed them for it. Basically Arachnid Nazi Eskimo Egyptian, though there are like 12 still alive and they are willing to pay people to help them get revenge.
Nerubians used to have an extensive amount of fluff covered in the Warcraft RPG series before Blizzard nuked the project and subsequently any development from it (like finding 'worship' to be confusing and suicidal, a plot point that later made sense when players met their god). They made a comeback in Legion, as refugees this time on an island only to be killed by the player, and there is no explanation for this provided, not even when we bring the corpse of their leader to the few living Nerubians.
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. Retconned into 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 who defeated said Avatar, then used that child to summon the orcs). The island was later raised by orc warlocks seeking power from the body. Retconned into 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 ledger must look like used bogroll a this point
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. They were savage and semi-peaceful hunter-gatherers on their home world 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 - Main Warlock clan, 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.
- The Shadow Council - Gul'Dans hand picked secret society of Warlocks and dark magicians. Pulled the strings behind the scenes that eventually lead up to the invasion of Azeroth by the Orcs. Their Azeroth branch was murderfucked out of existence when Doomhammer learned of the Council's machinations and their sway over the Horde, and their Draenor branch was also almost driven to extinction due to the Alliance forces that crossed the Dark Portal fighting them, Illidan and his followers occupying most of their original strongholds (like the Black Temple) and they themselves accidentally summoning a gargantuan exdimensional being that they couldn't control. Small of pockets of them still remain on both Azeroth and Outland, but they are far from being a unified or even significant force anymore.
- Black Tooth Grin clan - Blackhand's kids got their own clan due to Doomhammer killing him and seizing control of the Blackrock clan. Punching out a tooth is the rite of passage to give yourself their signature grin. Absorbed back into the Blackrocks at some point after Doomhammer's defeat, which would in turn become the "Dark Horde" under Nefarian.
- Bleeding Hollow clan - Rips out an eye to view their deaths. Lead by Kilrogg Deadeye.
- Dragonmaw clan - Dragon Riders. Maintained one of the last Orc hold-out strongholds after the original Horde's defeat until some scheming by Deathwing, and things going Not As Planned released the dragons. Some hold-outs later joined the modern Horde.
- Burning Blade clan - Psychotic Berserkers with a Samurai theme (even using Sashimono!). Eventually nearly wiped out, but the survivors became badass mercenaries. Later refounded by Demon-worshipers from the Shadow Council who tried to subvert the modern Horde from within before they too were wiped out.
- Shadowmoon clan - Shamans who were corrupted into becoming Warlocks, but later said to be Shadow Priests. Led by Ner'zhul.
- Frostwolf clan - "Good" wolfrider orcs. Makes up the majority of the modern Horde along with the Warsong and Blackrock clans. Thrall is from this clan.
- Warsong clan - Crazy wolfriders and warmongers with the most overt Mongolian theme. Led by Grom Hellscream.
- Shattered Hand clan - Former gladiator-slaves. Replaces a hand with a blade. Formerly led by Kargath Bladefist. Later became a multi-racial spymaster clan of Rogues and the like in the new Horde.
- Thunderlord clan - Hunts giants. Tames giant things.
- Laughing Skull clan - Pyromaniacs. Previously led by an ogre and sided with humans.
- Bonechewer clan - Savage Cannibals.
- Flowerpicker clan - A gag name for the unused blue team color for the Horde in the campaign 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, hydraulics 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 and the Draenei don't ask for reparations regarding the Iron Horde
(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, led by Yrel and some naaru, form a Light army and waged war on the Orcs who refused to join, getting dubbed "Lightbound" by the Orcs (protip, you're expected to pretend the Iron Horde never happened and the Draenei are just Light fanatic villains now). AU Draenor is dying for unknown reasons, with both Mag'har and Lightbound blaming the other "he said, she said" style, and the surviving Ogres either joined the Lightbound or are stuck in Mag'har-led prison camps.
Durotan died offscreen but produced a rule 63 Thrall called Geya'rah. AU Grom is both still alive and unpunished for his Iron Horde war crimes, but managed to have a son that joins the Lightbound for unspecified reasons (popular theories range from shame over the Iron Horde to wanting a piece of sweet Draenei booty). All of this for the two reasons of adding the Mag'har allied race - since the Mag'har from Outland already joined the Horde - and trying to give the Light a bad side.
Following the recruitment of the AU Mag'har, Draenor seems to be shut off until Blizz brings back Yrel and her group as future villains, much to the chagrin of Orc roleplayers (who love the place and just want to hang out there) and Draenei or pro-Light roleplayers (who hate the villain-batting of their groups).
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.
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. Other species like to complain about humans not doing enough for them, humans like to be a hero wherever possible, and they're kinda like sand in an Anakin Skywalker way. Given this, you won't be surprised to learn the humans created the first paladins in Azeroth.
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, save for their love of technology (especially guns) and archaeology. 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 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 - the 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 arcane 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, became drunk on power and hubris and hatched a plan to tap the Well of Eternity for enough mojo to wipe out the other races. Drawing all that power drew the attention of the Burning Legion, who started sweet talking Azshara into letting them in to do the job for her. Azshara accepted, and she would become infatuated with the Legion leadership, deluding herself that she was betrothed to Sargeras.
The rest of the Night Elves, who were still sane and also seeing that they weren't on demons' "do not kill" list, united with the other races and started a civil war, which would later be known as the War of the Ancients. The leaders of the sane side were: a young elf named Malfurion Stormrage, a student of the demigod Cenarius and the first Druid; Tyrande Whisperwind, the high priestess of Elune, and Malfurion's lover; and Illidan Stormrage, Malfurion's brother and a magic-addicted douchebag mage. Despite fighting for years against endless hordes of daemons, the Azerothian races realized they would need to invade the old Night Elf capital and destroy the Well of Eternity to beat back the daemons permanently. In this time, Illidan would defect to the nobility's side; originally it was due to his magic addiction/obsession and envy of his brother, then he was trying to bring down the Legion from the inside as a double-agent without telling anyone, then the latest retcon merged the two; he went to join the Legion for real out of envy and addiction but had a last-minute change of heart and worked to bring them down. In every version Illidan also wanted to close to the Well of Eternity to bottle some of its waters to keep for himself. Eventually the Azerothian side reached the well, and a climactic fight between Malfurion and Azshara ended with the spellworks summoning in the demons to implode and cause a chain reaction which was going to destroy the Well. The Azerothian forces fled for as long and as hard as they could before the Well exploded, ripping the world into four continents and leaving a gaping hole in the planet in the middle.
As for the nobility, during this time they'd been slowly whittled down by the war, but were relatively untouched enough that they evenly divided into three general groups. The first group had realized that Azshara was well and truly fucking everybody with her vanity and hubris, and defected to the other side; after the war, their views on aristocracy and the commons - plus their addiction to arcane magic - would force them to split with the surviving elves again, and they sailed East and would become the ancestors of the High Elves. The second group would be founded by Xavius, Azshara's chief mage who was killed and resurrected by the Legion as a demonic Satyr, and he would seduce Azshara's other minions into Legion service exclusively and corrupt them into other Satyrs. The third group was lead by Azshara, who survived her duel with Malfurion, but refused to abandon her palace as it survived the Well collapsing and started to fall into the new ocean. Azshara got a bit of divine help again, but from an old god who refused to see her potential go to waste, so kept her and her followers alive as the Naga.
After the war, the Azerothian side split into separate peoples again, and the Night Elves opposing the Legion would form their own society in the forests of Kalimdor. Illidan - who survived and managed to get back into his brother's good will but not off the shit list - took three of the vials from the Well of Eternity and dumped them into a lake to try to remake the Well. While having the Well in the first place is what drew the demons, Illidan said they would need arcane magic again should the demons come back (and while he did kind of have a point, everybody could see that the bigger factor in his decisionmaking was that he was a junkie trying to get his fix, which was even clearer when he killed some of the people who tried to stop him). For being an idiot, a murderer and a traitor, they put Illidan in jail for an Eternal Sentence. Not letting a good catastrophe go to waste, the Night Elves and the dragons planted a tree over the new well as a means of protection, making them immortal again so long as the tree stood. In the new society, the male Night Elves became druids who would go into hibernation to protect the spiritual side of the world called the Emerald Dream (more accurately, they did this when needed and most recently was hundreds of years ago, not millennia), while female Night Elves became rangers and clerics who stayed behind to guard the world (meaning staying in their forest doing nothing and then attacking humanity for trying to save the world purely because they believed only Night Elves can do that among other nonsensical reasons). Because this state of affairs wasn't friendly to MMO character creation, it was eventually retconned that gender roles weren't so strict or segregated, and only all the male Druids went to hibernate, while everybody else stayed awake to watch over their ass.
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.
As of Battle for Azeroth's War of Thorns, the Night Elves' tree house burned down by the superweapons of an undead edgelord and humanity welcomed them into their homes. Then many elves went to retake their lands and Darkshore along with their Gilnean allies while complaining about Stormwind doing nothing to help them (rather purposely ignoring the fact that they were well busy fighting the Horde on other battlefronts). They still manage to have a presence in other battlefields, though.
Gnomes are 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 their dwarf relatives 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. Well that is until the plot needs technology to beat magic and then a laser or supertank tears through everything in its path or some device basically just materializes whatever's needed just like magic.
Anyway... in yon olde days of classic WoW, gnomes were the power-gamer PvP choice. They had a racial root breaker, and they were short enough that they could literally hide in the underbrush in Stranglethorn Vale like short, cute Vietcong before hitting you with a PoM-Pyroblast and making half your health disappear in a second.
Draenei are 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 (all of said technology is actually magic and so doesn't remotely count as scientific advancement), 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.
Confused? Okay. The reality is that the Draenei are a fantasy adaptation of the Protoss aesthetic from Blizzard's other franchise Starcraft. They'd had Eredar and Broken as far back as Beyond the Dark Portal, but they'd never fleshed out a visual style for their stuff. All their technology, buildings, weird crystal shit, etc, is pretty much just Protoss in a "I'm not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens" kind of way.
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, strong enough to rip orks to pieces and beat his tauren friend to death with the meaty chunks, 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 especially the Banshee Queen (to be fair, Sylvanas did kill his son and mock him about it). Since then Genn strived to ensure Sylvanas' timely arrival on a date with Arthas in that special place in hell/the Maw, ever more vehemently with Varian's death and the Burning of Teldrassil, quickly earning the admiration and ire of the respective fanbases (sorta, even Horde players fantasize about brutally torturing Sylvanas to death for being a total fucking monster).
The most popular characters of shorstories involving any sort of befriendment of female elves (even surpassing the previous holder of that title that were the orcs).
Despite what some people believe, according to devs there is (dubiously in the case of many Forsaken plotlines) no evil playable faction. Which is why half the Horde chiefs went mad with power and go full genocide while the Alliance has at best been harsh. 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.
The orcs of Warcraft are 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. In a manner of speaking. Them being genocidal monsters has always been canon. The only point of contention is them choosing to continue being mass-murdering monsters. But Horde players who actually read the quest text as they level throughout the game will notice that the Horde quests get more and more vile and less and less justifiable until by the end the Horde quests are often just evil just because they think its funny. Some players might see this as a new Horde adventurer gradually having his eyes opened that although he is a noble savage who believes in the Horde's redemption, the Horde might not want redemption.
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...). Scratch that, Tauren and worgen are more popular for that nowadays
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 (even though even the super racist Alliance military leader in Warcraft III joined forces with the Forsaken and the monster murdered him and his men once they took Capital City and went to the Horde because they feared the Alliance wouldn't accept them...because they murdered an Alliance army that had given them the benefit of the doubt. Surely this could never possibly go wrong for the Horde.) and not much else, then afterwards functioning only as pawns for Baine's pining for humanity. Not helped by the fact other lore suggested the Tauren originally wanted help from the Alliance but was busy not being murdered by the Horde and so had to settle for accepting the Horde's help with the Centaurs (instead of joining the Alliance in exchange for protection from said centaurs just like they did with the Horde who was also in the same war the Alliance was).
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 undead people.
Among the gray area morality of the races in the game (the humans for enslaving the omnicidal monsters that tried to exterminate them, the gnomes for being short, the Night Elves for being psychopaths, the High Elves for being sociopaths, the dwarves for not being dwarfs, the orks for being mass murdering monsters unwillingly and later eagerly, the tauren for being couch-potatos, the trolls for being tall), Forsaken come furthest on the 'evil' end of the spectrum (due to being more evil than the Dark Eldar) 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 (dubious) 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-Apothecary 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 tribe 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...
Until Battle for Azeroth. Their patron god of death is now the king of all Loa and the coolest NPC in the game, Bwonsamdi. And yes, he is literal Troll Baron Samedi... and he's a total troll too. He'll bring you back from the dead and make your wildest wishes come true, for a price.
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. The Horde nearly exterminated them once or twice or something. Then they began hating humans because the Alliance more or less abandoned them when Arthas came knocking. Makes more sense when some human captain can command their fucking leader and his retinue to go die on the frontlines. Once that was done (as well as roughly more than half of their race killed or otherwise... "indisposed", supposedly only one percent of their entire species still exist.), 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 (first when a High Marshal decided their Prince fighting beside Naga, who had been pillaging and destroying human villages and ships for years, was really fucking suspicious, probably because the Naga were in zero danger from the Scourge so it looked like the High Elves were in cahoots with them, the second time was when the Alliance supposedly sent agents to sabotage the High Elves' defenses while also negotiating for them to rejoin the Alliance even though said Alliance had negative numbers of reasons to even considering any actions against them...or maybe they figured the elves basically becoming a bunch of warlocks and demonic magic addicts was not k) 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 human protection and almost invariably casting away everything from their culture to their clothing to willfully become basically point-eared humans and notable for their almost fanatical devotion to said species, which is hilarious considering normal elf relations with humans in fantasy), 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 thereby turning the well into a font of both arcane and holy energy the elves feed on; 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 that for some reason is still loyal to the Horde even though the lore heavily implies the whole reason for that was because their fel magic addiction had made them just shy of evil and so now they don't even have a reason to be in the Horde (and they mind-controlled nay-sayers in their populace to sing the Horde's praises and hate the Alliance). While they remain mostly Caucasian with blond hair, the Demon-suckling has turned the eyes of their race permanently green (except now with the holy light in their well they feed from, players can choose gold glowing eyes instead of green glowing eyes for their Blood Elf characters). 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 than attempted defection to the Alliance that failed because eldar don't have a standing monopoly on status quo (their attempt was ruined due to an attack on Darnassus enabled/executed by a faction of Blood Elves in Dalaran which made Lor'themar's attempt at defection seem like a trick/trap at worst or like he couldn't control his own subjects and therefore his nation couldn't be relied on at best). 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.
Goblins are basically gnomes, but green and Swiss capitalist and with a general disregard for the safety of whoever's using their creations (including themselves). 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.
In the short-lived RPG, hobgoblins were goblins transformed into giant, super-strong but dimwitted purple-skinned versions of themselves through alchemy. Of course, the transformation killed them after, like, 3 years, but their goblin masters didn't see the downfall in that.
There was a plotline involving the goblins basically having gained sapience and genius-level intelligence from a chemical when they used to be monkey-like critters that the troll empire used as slaves, but now the chemical that gave them their brains is all running out because they've squandered it, but it was dropped.
Goblin women are one of the foundations of the shortstack meme.
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, magma monsters and eternally cool dark iron armor and weapons (with other surprisingly advanced technology). Technically joined all the way back in Cataclysm where they were present as NPCs, but the canon explanation for them being playable only with BfA was that with all the shit going on at the time with Deathwing (and with everyone expecting the Dark Iron to backstab them at the first opportunity) no one bothered to actually fully officialize their joining until BfA. 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. Seem to be the Alliances long-term solution to what will become of high elves, as they are currently getting new recruits from both high elves and even blood elves that wish to embrace the void. At least they got shiny purple tentacle hair out of it... Led by Magister Umbric. Canonically, there numbers are relatively small though gradually growing, but that hasn't stopped blizzard from giving millions of players access to them, while still remaining notoriously iron-fisted about players wanting to make proper High Elf characters for no particular reason.
- 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. Notable for having one of the more interesting racial capitals.
- Lightforged Draenei: Originally made from Draenei soldiers given a Light supercharge by the naaru Xe'ra millennia ago (side effects include glowing tattoos and immortality), they formed a spacefaring holy army and spent 25,000 years fighting the Burning Legion and helped defeat them in the final battle. Led by Xe'ra, then by High Exarch Turalyon (a Lightforged Human originally from the Alliance), with the highest-ranking Draenei being Captain Fareeya, because of course millennia old Draenei need to be overshadowed by decades old humies. Currently controlling the single greatest military asset on Azeorth, the Vindicaar - a magic spaceship with a magic laser and teleportation... which the writers swept under the rug because otherwise the Alliance would ROFLstomp the Horde.
- Highmountain Tauren: An offshoot of the tauren race living in the Highmountain region of the Broken Isles. Moose-headed instead of cow-headed. 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. Haven't done much lore-wise lately but have apparantly been stealing some thunder from the common tauren among the player base who like their look. 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......Though beyond that it was a bit of stretch of them joining the horde completely since most memebers of the alliance not really minding them (but horde needed more Elven races so there it is). 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 and the writers pretend the anti-Draenei Iron Horde never happened to push yet another ham-fisted "dogmatism bad" story. 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 people or 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 and a secret bargain struck between him and Rastakahn.
- Vulpera: A race of goblin sized fox people(For those who like both Furries and Shortstacks, but don't like the Sonic The Hedgehog fandom.) native to the deserts of Vol'dun, they make a living traveling in caravans across the sands scavenging 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 belonging to the serpentine 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". A bit of a stretch in all honesty on the behavoir on the alliances part, not that the Alliance are always the good guys but it was a little forced just to justify them joining the horde, still a cute race in the horde isn't necessarily a bad thing. Furry Jawas, expect PROMOTIONS.
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 giant sapient insects that want to eat all other life about once every hundred years, so they tend to be sharper than they look.
Le new scaly bois
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: You have a single weapon, which you need to hold with both hands to use. You hit things with it until they die.
- Fury: You have a weapon in each hand. You hit things with both of them until they die. This spec used to be limited to one-handed weapons, but then Blizzard decided that this made them too similar to Rogues and Frost Death Knights, so they gave Fursy warriors the ability to wield a two-handed weapon in each hand.
- Protection: In Soviet Russia, things hit YOU until they die. Works best with a one-handed weapon and a shield. In a rare bit of class diversification during the universally regarded as awful Warlords of Draenor Expansion, Protection also became a decent damage spec that smashes people with its shield until it dies via the Gladiator stance. What's that? Interesting ideas? Blizzard can't have that and it was removed.
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.
Used to be quite sucky until Wrath of the Lich King finally fixed them (mainly because Blizzard pushed the game out a good 6 months early and the Paladin Talent trees and skills being last-second rush jobs that took years to bring into a remotely functional state); Protection Paladins were tanks that could not keep the attention of mobs glued to themselves and grossly limited tools for damage mitigation and threat generation, Retribution Paladins were so bad that people were kicked out of Guilds if someone dared to play one and Holy Paladins, while actually being decent tank healers in their own right were simply overshadowed by Priests, who do everything a Holy Paladin could do better, except for one thing: Applying some of the best buffs in the game to the raid. Said buffs lasted only 5 minutes, and a typical raid in ye olde days consisted of 40 people and Paladins being demoted to the sole role of buff machines. It also didn't help that their only active combat ability that could be used on all mobs was withheld from them until the Burning Crusade Expansion.
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: Historically 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 damage. Then for a while it was a spec that did damage by being hit, which was different and unique but not very flexible. 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 the most efficient single-target healing specialization in the game and little else up until Cataclysm gave them some tools to also do group healing.
- Protection: Basically the same thing as prot warrior, except you get Avenger Shield, which throws a magic bouncing shield at your enemies. Yes, exactly like Captain America.
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.
Just below paladins, and rival to mages, for the best transmogs.
Also they can MAGICALLY STRANGLE PEOPLE, DARTH VADER-STYLE!!
Their three skill trees are:
- Blood, which focuses on self-healing and having a really fucking massive health pool, making it an idea tank. Ironically, it cannot use shields, so it relies on a single big two-handed weapon.
- 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 inflicting diseases and summoning undead minions. 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 survivability, and dominance on ranged combat. Has, until rather recently, been infamous for being the class most new players felt attracted to.
- 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 one of the best builds 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/maim people in a single ability burst.
- Survival used to be the PvP-focused, annoying build with focus on traps, poisons and sleep darts. That was back when melee weapons and ranged weapons had their own inventory slots, and hunters could (and were expected to) swap between both. When that system went away, Beast and Marks became the "ranged" hunter specs, and Survival became the melee hunter spec.
Basically, they're D&D Rogues, except they aren't utterly worthless in combat. 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 to 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 the same thing but with a new name.
- 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 be in one at a time. 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?). These are also known as "Laser Chickens" or "Boomkins", and used to be known as "Oomkins" because of their tendency to go out of mana early and often.
- 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)
- In Mists of Pandaria, the bear form was split off into its own dedicated spec, "Guardian"
- 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 complementing 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. In Legion they got the most lore-significant legendary weapon, one of only three that are supposedly sentient and whisper to the player.
The classic wizard, minus the Vancian spellcasting system.
Arcane: I CAST... MAGIC MISSILE! Sacrifices raw damage for utility, giving you better mana efficiency, greater mobility in the form of teleportation and invisibility spells, and versatility with damage by giving you an array of AoE and single-target non-elemental spells.
Fire: Fireball solve everything, especially when you cast half a dozen of them. Focuses on DoT and AoE attacks, at the cost of utility. Long running rivalry with rogues for top DPS.
Frost: Stay cool and kick some ice. Focuses on crowd control with stuns and slows, survivability using protective frost magic, and is unique for letting you have a water elemental pet, making them the better choice for solo content as mages are pretty bad at surviving getting punched in the face. Mr. Freeze puns are not necessary, but encouraged.
Casters who use fel magic to drain and capture the souls of their enemies, then use those captured souls as fuel for other spells, which typically involve summoning demons, inflicting diseases, and/or setting things on fire. In lore they are generaly distrusted and feared, and are considered one of the most powerful individuals. In gameplay, they're basically hunters with more evil looking armor sets and a DoT tree instead of a melee tree.
They are divided into 3 specialisations:
- Demonology: Specializes in summoning better demons, and then making those demons even better. This spec also used to have the ability to turn yourself into a demon, but then that ability was given to demon hunters in Legion.
- Destruction: Hit a thing with a lot of damage all at once. Then do it again until the thing is dead.
- Affliction: Put a bunch of damage-over-time effects on the thing, then run around and wait for it to die.
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 too 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 and former High King of the Alliance. A well-intentioned but bull-headed, warmongering widower. Was initially one of the main characters of a long-running comic-book where he was attempting to find his weaker-willed half and merge with it, after it got split from him by a dragon disguised as a noblewoman. It's a long story. A proper warrior and quite popular among players, he got an awesome last stand against the Burning Legion (while the Horde counterpart got speared by a random goon). His son, Anduin Wrynn, has taken his place as the High King of the Alliance.
- Anduin Wrynn: Son of Varian, recently crowned King after his father untimely demise. A Priest of the Light, he's less impulsive and hot-headed than his father. Also, he kinda looks like a young Brad Pitt in the new cinematics. Obsessed with peace, compromise and finding the good in everyone - even his enemies - but the strain of leadership and war has begun to take a toll on him. The Alliance, while fairly happy with him, is slowly splintering, since several forces (Genn Greymane, Turalyon and Tyrande chiefly) are pushing and pulling to get him to open up to more aggressive methods in dealing with the Horde. Briefly imprisoned and under the control of Sylvanas' former sugar daddy, the Jailer, he's freed by the combined efforts of Jaina, Uther, Thrall, the PCs, the Primus and Sylvanas.
- Jaina Proudmoore: Current Lord Admiral of Kul Tiras, and the most powerful human mage in Azeroth... Or maybe it's Khadghar. It's difficult to say. 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 behavior 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. Recently mellowed out (but did not forgive) the Horde for the atrocities, and got to succeed her mother as the Lord Admiral of her kingdom, the naval-based Kul Tiras.
- Mathias Shaw: Spymaster of the Kingdom of Stormwind and WoW James Bond - except he likes the men instead. Was replaced by a Dreadlord during Legion (which partly explained why the Horde and Alliance was at each other's throats again during an alien invasion) and was the Alliance MVP during the Fourth War. He's got a great moustache and is in love with WoW Captain Jack Sparrow.
- Taelia Fordragon: Hammer-wielding daughter of Bolvar Fordragon, who used to be the Steward of Stormwind before Varian came back to take the throne. Joins the Alliance as a hero after Kul Tiras is cleansed of pirates, witches and old god-worshipping cultists in BFA.
- Flynn Fairwind: Drunken privateer/mercenary/rogue from Kul Tiras. Every DnD Rogue packed into one character with a bit of Jack Sparrow thrown in and a frequently-used agent to go where Alliance agents can't go. Has a thing for Shaw thighs apparently, but was into Taelia as well for a spell.
- Turalyon: Light infused immortal paladin champion, pretty cool guy and Alleria's partner and baby daddy. Was part of the Lightforged, a Light Crusade against the Legion, where he got a Light supercharge form their lead Naaru and became immortal. Now serves the Alliance again, until another threat in need of some LUX VULT! comes along, but has PTSD due to his experiences during the fight against the Legion. Currently minding Stormwind's throne until Anduin returns, and a popular candidate for future fanatical villain among certain fans despite all the evidence that he's not fanatical.
- Dwarven Council: Ruling council of ALL DORFS ever King Magni got turned into diamond in Cataclysm. Again, it's a long story.
- 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 beard bois. After some years singing "Let It Go" in DORFISH, he was found by the Alliance and was reunited with his brothers Magni and Brann. These days he represents the Brozenbeard Clan of Ironforge.
- Falstad Wildhammer: Gryphon rider with cool tats and a scottish accent thicker than your mom. Longs to just fly around in the Hinterlands, but responsibilities forces him to play politician in Ironforge.
- Moira Bronzebeard: Daughter of Magni, and next in line of succession of Ironforge. She was captured by Dagran Thaurissan (then-leader of the Dark Iron Clan), and 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 Dwarves with her. She's come around as a real force for the Dwarves and may actually rival Muradin in political power on the council. Used to have problems with daddy Magni, but they're figuring it out, now that he's a live again.
- Magni Bronzebeard: Former King of Ironforge, but was relieved from duty when he was turned into diamonds attempting to save Ironforge from succumbing to the Cataclysm. Was awakened as the Legion attacked and is now a sort-of messenger for the planet itself, though he's also liable to hear whispers from old gods... Can he still be categorized as a dwarf if he's made of diamond?... Also became a memelord in Battle for Azeroth as he would constantly send you on daily quests to close azurite fissures. So much so Blizz would even parody it in Shadowlands if your character joins the Night Fae covenant. "OCH, CHAMPION! AZEROTH'S BLEEDIN' AAL OVER THA PLACE! YE'VE GOT TAE HEAL HER WOONZ!"
- Tyrande Whisperwind:
QueenLeader of the Night Elves, Malfurion's wife and High Priestess of the moon goddess Elune. Cares deeply for her people but is slow to trust foreigners. Formerly their military leader as well for several thousand years, though she was left to do nothing for almost the entirety of WoW, and had a strange Jamaican accent out of nowhere. In Legion she started to return to her old self except for getting over her xenophobia. That is, until the Night Elf parts of Kalimdor were invaded by the Horde. One dangerous, eldritch ritual later, she received new powers from Elune, becoming the first "Night Warrior" in thousands of years, and then leading a guerilla resistance against the Horde in the Fourth War. ABSOLUTELY NOT FUCKING FINE with the peace agreement with the Horde and literally walks out of an Alliance meeting of representatives due to Anduin disallowing her to try and regain her people's homeland or take out Sylvanas and her loyalists. Attempted to do that, starting with Sylvanas' undead simp Nathanos before going on a killing spree in Torghast and fighting her way out to Ardenweald where she got her showdown with Sylvanas... only for Sylvanas' plot armor to break Tyrande's kill streak as Elune withdrew her power when Tyrande literally had Sylvanas by the throat, which Sylvanas uses to flee. Then Tyrande loses her Night Warrior powers helping make a new seal for Ardenweald, but is still Elune's High Priestess.
- 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 in WoW. 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 Teldrassil when the Horde invaded and nearly beat Sylvanas until he got an axe in the back from Saurfang. He barely survived and Tyrande took him to safety but didn't do much beyond a few cameos in Darkshore.
- Maiev Shadowsong: Royally pissed off prison warden of Illidan Stormrage and leader of the Night Elf Wardens. A real menace that just can't sit still without antagonizing someone; that someone usually being Tyrande. Now that Illidan is kept locked away, she assists the Night Elves as a general and agent when possible. Kinda made peace with Tyrande during the Battle for Darkshore.
- Shandris Feathermoon: Leader of the Night Elf military and adopted daughter of Tyrande Whisperwind. Helped fight the Legion as a teenager during the War of the Ancient, Tyrande took Shandris under her wing after Shandris' parents were killed. Sees Tyrande as her mother, and is neither racist nor anti-technology so she's a very sis-tier Night Elf (
does the term bro-tier count if the person is female... Manliness is unisex !No, it's not. But femaleness has a quality all of its own). She's also a leader of Azeroth's order of rangers/best hunting club The Unseen. Fears for Tyrande's life when she becomes the Night Warrior and works to help save her, tracking her down in Torghast and also being present when Tyrande's Night Warrior powers are removed.
- Gelbin Mekkatorque: Elected king of the Gnomes. Has his mittens full trying to reclaim the lost gnomish capital of Gnomeragon. Was a part of the Alliance attack on Dazar'alor, where he was dealt a vicious, lifethreatening blow that was later cured by the Mecha-Gnomes. Has a spiffin' Gnome Battle-mech!
- 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, had a crisis of faith 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 led the assault to Argus where he swung between delivering that butt-whipping and arguing with Illidan about fate. Serves as an advisor for the young Anduin when daddies Genn and Turalyon aren't around.
- Genn Greymane: King of the werewolf faction, the Worgen. Definitely written to be a whipping boy of the story, with a lot of his woes being self-inflicted. Was apart of the original Alliance before building a wall between his Kingdom and the others when the Scourge reared their very undead heads. Ended up killing off most of his people doing so because he forgot to invite them in after building the wall. Ended up freeing the Worgen from their Prison in another dimension by having Archfurry himself, Argul, bring them from the Emerald Dream. The Worgen shortly turned against his people and turned them all into furries but British. During the Cataclysm expansion, Sylvanas raided his Kingdom (possibly in revenge for him leaving the world to deal with the Scourge) and killed his son. Lately he is trying to serve as parental figure to Anduin, as the new king just lost his own father. Thwarted Sylvanas' plan to enslave a Super Val'kyr into making more Val'kyr but took a poison arrow for it. Frequently advocates for increasing pressure on the Horde and is becoming a real power-player in the Alliance, in a "power-behind-the-scenes" kind of way. Given his anti-Horde policies and how the Night Elves aided the Gilneans, he gets along well with Tyrande.
- Alleria Windrunner: Long-lost sister of Sylvanas Windrunner, former leader of Silvermoon's army and partner and baby mama of Turalyon. After helping win the second war and leaving her son Arator on Azeroth, she and Turalyon went crusading with the Army of Light for several hundred years before being discovered again by the people of Azeroth. Willingly began to dabble in the Void and, with the aid of her Ethereal teacher Locus-Walker, now uses her affinity for these dark powers to guide the Void Elves.
- Umbric: Actual leader of the Void Elves. Unnotably apart from his sweet, bassy voice.
- Thrall/Go'el: The current leader of the Orcs and original creator of the current iteration of the Horde. 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. Wallowed in despair at drinking his own cool-aid after the elements abandoned him in Legion, until Saurfang found him and his family in Outland and brought him back to boot out Sylvanas. Is the current leader of the Orcs.
- 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). Was the "main character" of sorts of BFA, and the first to rebel against Sylvanas. Killed by her in Mak'Gora in front of the entire Horde with mysterious Death magic, but not before calling her out as a selfish edgelord and getting her to admit this, destroying her credibility as Warchief and making her flee.
- Garrosh Hellscream: Son of Grom Hellscream and rivals Sylvanas for "most divisive character in the game's history". A weak and sickly orc who joined the army, got exiled, was 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 took his character to the logical extreme instead. 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 the Alliance-allied fortress port of 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 on alternate Draenor, though not before spitting some hard-hitting truths at him. His soul ended up in the Afterlife Revendreth where the Venthyr try to redeem him, then milk him like a cow for anima ("Old Reliable" indeed) and later throw him into the Maw when he remains unrepentant. There the Jailer's servant Soulrender Dormazain tried to break him and feed on his anima, but Garrosh instead freed himself when the adventurers beat Dromazain, declared that he would do it all over again if he could, then used all his anima in an attack that destroyed both his soul and Dromazain, meaning Garrosh is gone for good.
- Vol'jin: Leader of the Darkspear trolls after his father's death. Led the rebellion against Garrosh and his Orc-Nazis and 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. Being dead didn't stop him, as he worked hard trying to figure out who the fuck would tell him to put a genocidal, sociopathic undead in the seat of Warchief. Now the new troll Loa of Kings with the destruction of his predecessor Rezan.
- Queen Talanji: Young Queen of the Zandalari Trolls after her papi die - Wow there's a lot of father-figures that die in this franchise, huh? Inherited a declining kingdom and a bond to the Loa of Death Bwonsamdi, so, like Anduin up above, she's really fucking stressed about the whole thing; especially since Sylvanas tried to have her assassinated. Hates the Alliance since they attacked her capital city and killed her fadda in BFA, especially Jaina.
- Zekhan: The ever-famous "Zappy Boi" that inexplicably became one of the key characters for BFA. Held Saurfang as a father-figure until he was killed, and is now kind of a roaming agent for the Trolls and the Horde at large. Bit of a horndog for Horde ladies of all races, especially Blood Elf women and Queen Talanji (he sure aims high).
- Rokhan: Old-ass character that has been in the series since Warcraft III, he is currently the leader of the trolls in the Horde.
- 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 Warchief 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 Zovaal the Jailer. Retconned into going full-retard nihilist, thinking that free will doesn't exist so she'll help the Jailer tear down the unjust cosmos... only to turn on him years later after he says the word "serve", despite seeing many similarities between him and the Lich King beforehand. She also simps for Nathanos.
- Nathanos Marris/Blightcaller: A human who was trained by Sylvanas to be a ranger and served her as an undead. Had the surname Marris in life, but took Bligtcaller in undeath. Decent ranger but a colossal, obnoxious jerk to everyone not named Sylvanas Windrunner. Was originally an absolute simp towards Sylvanas, but this was retconned to the other way around (She abused her position in the High Elf Military and later Horde/Forsaken to keep him around) though Nathanos is still a yes-man towards his elven meal ticket. Ganked by Tyrande in the latest expansion but likely ended up somewhere in the Shadowlands. Sylvanas somehow didn't know about his death until Tyrande told her.
- Lillian Voss: An anti-undead assassin from the Scarlet Crusade in life, but was turned into one of the Forsaken and began to take on her new charge and life doing what she does best - Stabbing people (starting with every Scarlet Crusader she can find). Currently the de facto leader of the Forsaken despite only being forced to join the faction in Battle for Azeroth, since they lack leadership in the form of Sylvanas.
- Calia Menethil: Last heir to the Lorderean throne and older sister of Arthas Menethil, who ended up killed by Sylvanas in a failed peace-meeting between the Forsaken and some of their living relatives from Stormwind. The very first undead reanimated with the Light instead of Undeath, which is very fucking strange since lorewise, using the Light hurts the Forsaken as if their bodies were filled with acid (healing their souls until they flip to regular dead) and the Light is able to properly resurrect people. Is positioned to take over leadership of the Forsaken, but many (both in-and-out of universe) still dislike the idea given to the fact that she's Arthas' sister. Definitely a Public Relations problem, though Blizzard seem set on making her the new Leader of the Forsaken (she is leaning on her father's good name), though the Forsaken made a council and she's just one of its members (albeit sympathetic to the Alliance).
- Cairne Bloodhoof: Former chief of the Tauren. 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 controversial son of fan-favourite Cairne Bloodhoof from Warcraft 3. Was a two-bit NPC until he was made racial leader following Cairne's death. Had a bit of development in BFA where he attempts to resist Sylvanas' edginess through sort-of-passive resistance but ends up being rescued by the actual resistance later. Often disliked by players who find him to be too "human" and unwilling to stand up for the Horde to the point that he once banished tauren for fighting the Alliance, said Alliance who were invading their lands in a war between Horde and the Alliance. Incidentally is a close friend of Anduin and this is his most developed relationship rather than anyone on the Horde.
- Mayla Highmountain: Leader of the Highmountain Tauren who the Horde picked up in Legion. A barbarian warchief who takes no guff... When she's allowed to do something. Apparently has a thing for Baine booty.
- 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 begun to claw his way out of obscurity through his new model and more and more plotlines involving him. Has a mid life crisis in Mists of Pandaria, which ends when he hooks up with Thalyssra.
- 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). Originally she took power from the Na'aru they had BDSMed up in SIlvermoon's basement, is a proper Light Paladin 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 snuck into the Paladin Order Hall to steal the body of Tirion Fordring and resurrect him as one of their own (Light-infused sacred halls of the hall were a big help, though).
- Thalryssa: Leader of the Nightborne in the Horde and a former resistance fighter who, with the help of the players, manage to overthrow the oppressive regime that controlled Suramar, their only city and capital. Decided to side with the Blood Elves instead of their closer cousins the Night Elves, since 1) Lady Liadrin was an understanding person who knew all about making unpalatable choices to survive, and 2) Tyrande was such a posturing bitch about union with the Alliance that she almost wanted to invite the Burning Legion back into her city just to make her shut up. Despite Sylvanas' being as evil as the Suramar tyrant Thalyssra rebelled against, she stays in the Horde. Really thirsty for Lor'themar, which he reciprocates after Sylvanas is overthrown.
- Gallywix: Former 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). JUST managed to get a new model before he was found to be in cahoots with Sylvanas and fled Orgrimmar while burning every shred of evidence he could find of his connections to her. Current whereabouts are unknown.
- Gazlowe: Mayor of Ratchet and is now also the Goblin leader in the Horde. Helped build Orgrimmar but wasn't a big fan of the politics so he kept to himself in the southern trade port of Ratchet. New leader of the Goblins with Gallywix gone.
- Chen Stormstout: The original hard-drinking panda boy and posterboy for all Pandaren. Fat old fuck made of about 16% beer and 184% awesome, he's in-universe recognized as a memetic badass that can outfight the best brawler, tell a better story than the best braggart and drink more beer than the largest drunkard. Is a bit closer to the Horde than the Alliance as he worked with them to safeguard Orgrimmar in W3.
- Lorewalker Cho: Soft-spoken historian and a bit of a troll. Turned out to be the envoy and spy of the Emperor, who no one knew still existed.
- Taran Zhu: I'VE HAD IT WITH THESE MOTHERFUCKING WARMONGERS ON MY MOTHERFUCKING ISLAND! Leader of the Shadopan, ninja pandas who defend the Pandaren from a swarm of locust people. Hated both the Alliance and Horde so much that he got possessed by an eldritch embodiment of hatred that he had to be purified/exorcised of. Mellowed out over time, but his "eye for an eye" moral speeches apparently did seep into the minds of the two factions... Until BFA that is.
- Emperor Shaohao: Ancient old fucker who seemed to disappear many centuries ago after surrounding the island in mist, but he survived as a spirit on the top of the largest mountain in Pandaria. Secretly guides his people from behind the scenes.
The Argent Crusade
Organization of paladins across factional lines who prefer to fight the dark forces intent on consuming and destroying the world rather than each other.
- Tirion Fordring: Paladin classic, a knight and veteran who gave up a comfortable life as a lord after becoming close friends with an orc, Eitrigg, before it was cool after the latter saved his life after a duel just because it was the right thing to do, and Tirion decided to repay the favor when Eitrigg was arrested despite that meaning committing treason and losing everything. The Light didn't abandon him for this, and Tirion hid away as a hermit before learning his own son, gone astray without Tirion there to guide him, had become the head of the fanatical and genocidal Scarlet Crusade, something that would ultimately cost the kid his life. Events galvanized him to come out of retirement, creating a faction-neutral organization of paladins to protect the world that ended up being some of the first responders against the Lich King during his eponymous expansion alongside the Ebon Blade. After helping in the boss fight against Arthas and being mostly-forgiven by the Alliance that cast him out, he then did fuckall for multiple expansions until Blizzard killed him to bribe straying players into staying with his shiny, special magic sword.
The Ebon Blade
Where Death Knights and other undead with free will go to safeguard the living and be totally goth about it.
- Bolvar Fordragon: The current Lich King; once the Lord Protector of Stormwind until Varian Wrynn recovered from his short but really fucking intense period as two people, he led the charge against the Lich King in Northrend. Things went tits up and he was nearly killed, kept alive by being engulfed in flames from a Red Dragon. Due to these wounds, he volunteered to take on the Helm of Domination after the Lich King was defeated, and held back the Scourge through sheer willpower until Shadowlands, where Sylvanas whooped him and broke his hat. Chill but incredibly emo guy.
- Thassarian: Incredibly bro-tier Death Knight and one of the few of their number to openly declare loyalty for one of the factions, here for the Alliance. Shares a Frenemy-type of relationship with his Horde counterpart, Koltira.
- The Four Horsemen: Because of course the undead army has four horsemen as its leaders.
- Nazgrim: Once a loyal general of the Horde, players killed him because of his loyalty to Garrosh Hellscream.
- Thoras Trollbane: A former lord of the destroyed human nation of Stromgarde.
- Sally Whitemane: The deceased leader of the Scarlet Crusade, a group of Light-worshipping, anti-undead fanatics. Since she had been manipulated by the Burning Legion, death actually made her much saner.
- Darion Morgraine: The leader of the Horsemen and the son of Alexandros Mograine, a famous Paladin.
The first species native to Azeroth. They are a very numerous species of intelligent insectoids organized in casts who were in the very distant past subservient to the Old Gods and built a world spanning Empire under their guidance, until the Titans showed up and royally shat on their parade by locking their bosses away. After the titans left, their Empire was left weakened and was crushed in a great war with the Trolls. This lead to the Aqir hiding from the world in great underground burrows and being forgotten about for countless millennia, where the four largest splinter groups of the Empire eventually assumed own identities and started to deviate from the original Aqir quite significantly. Most of them still serve the Old Gods and are their footsoldiers.
- Aqir: Crabs, Crayfish and Lobsters. A portion of the original Aqir somehow survived the fall of their Empire and waited until the time was right to reemerge during the events of Battle for Azeroth, where they were revealed to be the Insectoids affiliated with N'Zoth.
- Qiraji: Scarabs and Locusts. The Qiraji are affiliated with C'Thun and hail from the deserts of Silithus. C'Thun taught them how to twist native insects from their homelands into monstrous sizes using dark magic, making them into Silithids, with which they tried once to take over the World from their Capital of Ahn'Qiraj and were barely stopped by the Night Elfs and the Bronze Dragonflight. Despite being sealed away by powerful magic, they could use their Silithid servants to dig large caverns under the seal and prepare a new assault on Azeroth, by the time this was discovered the Bronze Dragons and the Cenarion Druids assembled a large combined force of both Alliance and Horde heroes to break the seal, get into Ahn'Qiraj and kill C'Thun for good.
- Mantid: Mantisses, if you couldn't guess that by the name. The insectoids that used to be affiliated with Y'Shaarj in Pandaria. Their main deal is that they are brutal, unwavering warmongers for the sake of it, starting assaults against the rest of Pandaria every century or so to weed out the strong and smart of their very numerous offspring and, by their philosophy, to strengthen their civilizaion as a whole in this manner. They were caught in a tough spot when the Sha of Fear got released and possessed their Queen who as a result turned unaturally paranoid. This caused her to start the next invasion of Pandaria prematurely and, as the rest of the Mantid leadership, called the Klaxxi, doom their race since she sends more Mantid to die in pointless fights against the "lesser" races as they see it than they could replenish. Players interact with the Klaxxi quite a lot in Mists of Pandaria, who task them with keeping the Sha corruption at bay to save their race, only for the Klaxxi to double-cross the PC in the Siege of Orgrimmar.
- Nerubians: Spiders, mainly. They used to be affiliated with Yogg-Saron, but have long since forgotten about it because his seal was the only one to be kept intact and are now the only Aqir race to openly defy the Old Gods. They built a vast subterrenean Empire called Azjol-Nerub and were a very successful civilization. Unfortunately, the Lich King dropped right into their turf and has since subjugated them by the means of Necromancy and Genocide. As part of the scourge, they were the Lich Kings favored shock troops. A precious few Nerubians managed to escape the Scourges clutches and have since been trying to get their Empire back; by BFA it is strongly hinted that this succeeded, but they prefer to remain isolationist xenophobes that don't care a whole lot about what is going on on the surface.
- 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, a night elf turned elf-demon hybrid and brother of current Night Elf co-leader Malfurion Stormage. Originally a selfish trickster, Blizzard did some slipshod retcons to his back story after killing him off to try and make him a hero. This resulted in 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 two traits: He's the younger brother of Malfurion Stormrage, and shared a crush on their childhood friend Tyrande Whisperwind. So how's his story go? 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.
- Everything here is post-retcon; after getting curbstomped by the players Maiev threw what was left of him back in jail. Gul'dan steals Illidan's remains and tries to use them to resurrect Sargeras, but this plan is disrupted by Khadgar, the player characters, a naaru named Xe'ra and several class-related NPCs who restore Illidan's soul to his body. Illidan thanks Gul'dan for retrieving his body and joins the Adventurers in the Tomb of Sargeras where they convince Kil'jaeden the Legion is a bad idea. Then he and his fan-club joins Velen, the PCs and an army of Light worshippers for a two-pronged attack on Legion HQ at Argus, arguing with Velen to pass the time. When they regroup on Argus, Illidan once again meets Xe'ra, who attempts to lightforge Illidan, but Illidan politely declines her offer and later invites himself to the Titans' intervention/group therapy for Sargeras so he can rehabilitate him.
- Gul'Dan: The settings resident Orcish Erebus. Irredeemable bastard that was the catalyst for almost all things wrong with the worlds of Draenor and Azeroth. Used to be a sickly, weak Orc cast out from his tribe until he was taken in by the Burning Legion and made into the first Warlock. While not as instrumental in the founding of the original Horde as Ner'Zhul, he and his secret society of Warlocks were for a long time the guys (and gals) secretly pulling the strings of the Hordes first Warchief Blackhand in service of his demonic masters. His deeds include: Leading the Orcs into demonic slavery by tainting them with fel magic, severing the Orcs connection with their home planet by corrupting its very soil, making life on Draenor unsustainable, therefore giving the final push for the first Hordes invasion of Azeroth, carrying out the Draenei Genocide on Kil'jaeden's orders in an effort to open the Black Portal on the Draenor side and tons of other shit. Like Erebus or Nagash from their respective settings, sociopathic and self-serving to an extreme degree, until it backfired when he attempted to find the Eye of Sargeras on the Broken Isles and bit off quite a bit more than he could chew. Came back as his past version in Warlords of Draenor to kickstart the last invasion of the Burning Legion and to re-purpose Illidan, which failed and subsequently saw his end.
- Medivh: Human mage and the last of the order of the Guardians of Tirisfal. Held the title of the most powerful mage in existence and served (unbeknownst to him or the Alliance) as a sleeper agent posessed by none other than Sargeras himself. Under Sargeras influence, he opened the Dark Portal for the Horde to invade Azeroth for the first time and was seemingly killed by his close friend Anduin Lothar, later came back on some occasions as an omniscient prophet to warn the people of Lordaeron from the Scourge and impending Third War, however to no avail. Has been dropping in and out of the happenings of the world over the course of the entirety of the Warcraft universe. Appointed Khadgar as his successor. No one quite knows for sure even more what his motives are or even where he is.
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 (not least because several of them starting selling services on their servers for cash) 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.
After release, WoW Classic has been considered a hit and a fan favourite, drawing in legions of resubbed players... for about a couple months. Predictably, the first to fall were the players spoiled rotten by the quality of life approach of modern WoW (AoE looting, not having to wait minutes between fights for your health to regenerate, traversing the world rather quickly etc.) and weren't prepared for the absolute grindfest ahead of them. Next to quit were old fans who realised that now, with full time jobs and/or families to take care of, grinding for hours just to access, let alone finish a dungeon wasn't sustainable if they wanted to keep taking care of these things. Finally, the playerbase - after almost two decades of playing Warcraft and facing more and more difficult challenges, have cleared in days the content that took weeks, if not months to finish in 2004. This split the playerbase in two: one part took it casually and attempted to clear the previously challenging content (seriously, one BfA boss encounter had more mechanics in it than the entirety of Molten Core) at their leisure, and the other went cuckoo about optimising every single aspect of their character builds, complete with farming buffs in the open world and hoarding world buffs, mostly given to characters present when somebody cashes in the head of a raid boss for a reward. The latter part eventually became prevalent, to the point of people making schedules of who is supposed to finish their quests when (and given those quests tended to give decent loot, that made everybody not next in the schedule majorly pissed) and flipped a gasket whenever someone popped one of those and didn't announce it. By the end of the "expansion" and when the Burning Crusade Classic was announced (because of course it was), the gameplay loop of a tryhard raider consisted of logging in for world buffs, heading to the zone in which it was awarded, waiting for it to be given out and then logging off to await either a next buff pop or the weekly raid. Thrilling gameplay. To prevent that, Blizzard later added an item that made world buffs not lose uptime and give their benefits until cancelled. So much for their promises of no changes.
There were some other less than desireable sideeffects that the Classic servers plagued as time went on; bot farmers that are very prevalent in other MMOs and had been nearly extinct in retail Wow due to Blizzard making in-game currency much more accessible over the years became a downright plight that destroyed any notion of a fair and balanced player driven economy with solid sources of money being much harder to come by (Repeatable Quests that gave gold weren't a thing until the Burning Crusade, and even in TBC they were largely limited to PvP and a large hub very late into the expansion, so the only ways to generate gold without interacting with the ingame economy was the finite supply of one-time quests and gruelling grinding). You could, at peak hours, see hundreds of bots running around in automated patterns in front of Dungeon entrances. Said bots created a lot of money that way, which, like the old days, were offered for real world money on dubious sites, a big no-no according to Blizzards TOS. Unlike in the OG days however, crafty players came up with a loot allocation system called GDKP (basically every raid becomes a big auction, where players would bid on items that dropped off bosses, a way to alleviate the awful loot systems of Vanilla Wow) where people who bought gold off these bots could not only easily launder their Dollar-bought ingame-money (the game lacks the technical means to track every transaction that happens between players) but effectively break one of the core tenets of Wow game design, namely that you would never be able to buy specific items with real money. Blizzard has proven repeatedly that they are either unable or unwilling to resolve these issues and even explicitly declared that GDKP was not against their Terms of Service, a statement that was expectedly met with furious arguments. The bot epidemic has somewhat lessened over the course The Burning Crusade Classic, but Blizzards poor handling of a genuinely problematic situation soured the mood of the Classic community to a great degree.
Despite that, WoW Classic has seen reasonable success, enough to announce a re-release of the Burning Crusade (creatively called Burning Crusade Classic), and a re-release of "Vanilla" Classic, called Seasons of Mastery. What it means is that everybody starts from level 1 on new servers, with some changes implemented to make the experience different in theory. In practice, it was mostly the same. However, in a show of brilliance, Blizzard forgot to turn realm transfers off for those worlds, which meant people in full endgame gear absolutely decimating whole battlegrounds alone if they decided to pay and bring their OP mains to them.
Later, Blizzard also announced the release of Wrath of the Lich King Classic. Because of course they did.
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 extraterrestrial tiefling-lookalikes 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, Medivh 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, pretty standard "the magic goes away so now mortals have to fend for themselves" trope. 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 the plot of the game, even they agree the content was dope. 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 its leaderless races into its 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 action of using magic in this kind of duel (called mak'gora by the orcs) is contentious among the players, as depending on the sources, magic is either strictly prohibited for the duration and Thrall outright cheated, allowed in the shape of a weapon blessing by a shaman and Thrall still outright cheated, or entirely allowed and everything was fair and square. Notable is the fact that most of the sources claiming magic is allowed during Mak'gora have been written after Warlords launched, so make of that as you will. 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. The role of places players hanged out in was taken over by player-made garrisons, which only allowed other players in them after a party invite from the garrison's owner, unintentionally making it a good spot for roleplayers to hang out in (especially a certain kind of them). Said garrisons also served as the main base of operations for the players, have had plentiful gathering nodes (almost entirely eliminating the need to go farm resources in the open world and tanking the market for metal ores specifically, the herb nodes in the garrison were few compared) and sending NPCs out into the world to do quests and bring you back loot from them, which ranged from garrison resources to literal raid loot, turning the players into glorified questgivers for most of the expansion. 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 and having done nothing to atone for that). 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.
After being sent to the main timeline, AU Gul'dan (we'll call him Gul'dan because it's easier) was charged by Kil'jaeden with opening a demonic portal in the Tomb of Sargeras and retrieving Illidan's corpse for the Legion to use (which had been take by Maiev so she could trap his soul for eternity), and with the help of a brainwashed Night Elf warden, he succeeds. Later, forces from the Horde and the Alliance attack the Tomb of Sargeras, and make it to the beachfront despite heavy losses. At the gate to the Tomb of Sargeras, Gul'dan stands with every major demon they've killed throughout the raids (except Archimonde, Kil'jaeden and Mannoroth) comes back at once. After a vicious fight, the Horde army gets overwhelmed, forcing Sylvanas to gather the Horde and retreat. The Alliance sees the retreat but not the crushing defeat, so some (especially Genn) assumed the worst. The Alliance tried to retreat to a gunship, but Gul'dan summoned a giant Fel Reaver to grab it. Then Varian jumped off the ship to stab the Fel Reaver in the head so the others could escape. Stranded but alive, Varian tried to cut this way through them to Gul'dan, but was backstabbed by demons and blown up by Gul'dan (with Varian's dying words being a defiant" "For the Alliance!").
The Alliance mourn the loss, while Genn and Jaina called for payback against the Horde, which makes no sense as they should know the Horde prefers death over retreat and they saw the giant demon army. Genn plans revenge and Jaina literally rage-quits when none of the other leaders side with her (even Horde-hating Tyrande can see the bigger picture). Among the Horde, Vol'jin was 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 summoned the faction leaders and named Sylvanas Warcheif with his dying breath (To huge fan uproar. He cited it as the will of the spirits/Loa, though some fans suspected otherwise). The Burning Legion attack both 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 go to Dalaran, which the Kirin Tor teleport to the Broken Isles to serve as a staging area for combined (loosely) forces invasion. 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, Lich King Bolvar broke his self-imposed exile and allied with the Death Knights of the Ebon Blade against the Legion, offering help against the Legion in exchange for keeping the Scourge contained (which is the reason Bolvar took up the mantle in the first place. Could plans for skulduggery be afoot?). 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. The red dragons mostly stay out of the war because they, along with all other dragons, have become sterile and can't replenish their losses. On one hand, your race being the extinction clock is a good reason to avoid danger. On the other hand, the blue, black and bronze dragons are willing to join the fight despite being in the same situation. Meanwhile, Illidan's soul, on the run in the Twisting Nether, communicates with the Illidari, naming Demon Hunter PCs as the acting leaders.
Later, a powerful Light-infused object smashes into the ocean outside the Tomb of Sargeras. After retrieving it at the behest of Khadgar, it contains a magical message from Turalyon, presumed long lost, revealing the existence of a holy army called the Army of the Light and containing information vital to combating the Legion, which Velen needs to see. Upon arriving, it's revealed the Exodar is under attack by a demonic army, sent by Kil'jaeden and commanded by a cruel Eredar named Rakeesh. When Velen sees the object, he reveals what it is and rushes to bring it to the naaru O'ros. The object is called Light's Heart, and is the sentience core of a naaru (re: a brain, but it can be effectively detached and re-attached). This core is belongs to a powerful type of Naaru, a Prime Naaru, and this one's named Xe'ra. The information can only be accessed by a Naaru descended from Xe'ra, and O'ros is the last. Unfortunately, they encounter Rakeesh and a big battle occurs. Things get even worse when Velen recalls a repressed memory of a prophecy, and realizes Rakeesh is his long-lost son, abducted back on Argus and and corrupted into a demonic Eredar. Following the deaths of both O'ros and Rakeesh, Velen is devastated and has a crisis of faith, with Light's Heart stored in the Class Hall until an alternative can be found.
Over time, all but one Pillar of Creation, the Eye of Aman'thul, is retrieved. The Hammer of Khaz'gorath is retrieved after resolving a war between local tauren tribes and the power-hungry Drogbar with the help of a hidden uncorrupted black dragon. The Tidestone of Golganneth is retrieved from the clutches of the Naga in a city haunted by ancient elven ghosts after almost weaponized to destroy the Broken Isles by Queen Azshara (who has her own plans). The Tear of Elune is retrieved in Val'sharah, but not before it's corrupted by the satyr Xavius, who not only spreads the Emerald Nightmare across the Broken Isles, but briefly captures Maulfurion and also corrupts several guardians of nature including Cenarius and Ysera. It takes direct intervention from Elune herself to save Ysera's soul after death and purify the Tear. The Aegis of Aggramar is retrieved from Stormheim, after overcoming several challenges from a fractious group of titan Keepers who are pretty much expies of Norse mythology (revealing the Ulduar keepers' estranged leader, who has two pet ravens and is named Odyn, seriously, Blizzard? Odyn?). Things here are occasionally disrupted by Genn abandoning the fight against the Burning Legion to pursue his revenge against Sylvanas and the Forsaken.
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!)
There are several areas, Azsuna, Highmountain, Val'sharah, Stormheim, Suramar and the Broken Shore. 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.
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...
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.
Remember, 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 is eventually 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. It was an accident, though, as he couldn't see clearly through the smoke and all. When he realized the dishonorable blow he'd dealt, Saurfang had a BSOD and did not resist Tyrande when she arrived, but Tyrande chose to spare him in favor of getting Malfurion out. Originally planning to occupy the giant tree Teldrassil, Sylvanas went and ordered it burnt down even though the Horde had won the War and there were only non-combatants in Teldrassil at the time due to various reasons that kept getting retconned. The first two were to demoralize the Alliance and spite the dying Night Elf commander who said Sylvanas can't kill hope. Of course, there's also the practical fact that occupying a giant druidic tree from a druidic people who created the damn thing is pretty much guaranteed suicide (though this is never indicated in-universe). A handful of people are evacuated from Teldrassil but the majority die (well, sort of, it's completely unclear how many died because they had escape plans, but the fire spread quickly due to the magical ammunition the Horde used, and in the Alliance rescue mission even the best players can only save 50/1000 NPCs max from Darnassus, never mind the rest of Teldrassil). After Sylvanas went full terrorist on Teldrassil, the displaced Night Elves are forced out of Kalimdor and head to the Eastern Kingdoms, reminding Night Elf players what their place is in case any had the scandalous notion that the Night Elves are anything more than exposition or the Horde's punching bag. Azuremyst Isle Draenei become the last Alliance holdout in Kalimdor, and the humans welcome the Night Elves into their homes, reminding all the players of who the big good is supposed to be in case anyone had the blasphemous idea that their own faction/race was in any way special or good if they aren't Alliance humans.
However, Anduin evolved into MANduin! The Alliance bands together to retaliate, attacking Lorderaen to deal with the Forsaken once and for all. Strangely, the faction leaders most effected by the Horde's actions are absent, since even though one got an axe in the back, both he his wife have healing magic plus the latter's also the champion of a literal goddess. 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 Alliance army). Sylvanas heads further into villain territory when she flooded the battlefield with the Blight and Horde soldiers 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 walls. When Anduin, Genn, Jaina and Alleria confronted Sylvanas, Sylvanas 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 and hilariously they don't even have a reason to be the Alliance's enemy but a lot of genocidal reasons to be the Horde's enemy along with having been cleansed of their fel-magic induced insanity - with Alliance help, no less - back in the first expansion.
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, because Jaina believed the new Horde back when it was forming would be different from the one controlled by demons and so helped them defeat her father who was trying to purge said Horde. Good thing it only took a few world-wars and near apocalypse events to convince Jaina that the Horde was beyond saving as a whole... then she spared them like, twice or something. So Katherine disowned Jaina and sentenced her to death, refused Anduin's request and imprisoned the Alliance PCs. After being broken out of jail, Alliance players have to get Kul'trias' allegiance by solving problems in Kul'Tiras and helping fix the Proudmoore family's issues. After ousting the traitor, Lady Ashvane, Jaina is now in charge of Kul'Tiras, but Ashvane later gets sprung from jail by Sylvanas to help her. Meanwhile, the Night Elves mobilize the majority of their army under their faction leaders to try and take Kalimdor 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. Sylvanas 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 Tyrande becomes an avatar of her goddess Elune's 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 nor lift even a finger about the slaughtering of Night Elves and raising tauren despite these crimes being far worse.
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 as their world has become a desolate wasteland and the Draenei 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 (an army of Light-infused Draenei who joined the Alliance because Illidan jobbed their CO and the second-in-command is Alliance) 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.
You might be wondering why the Nightborne would join the faction that has a tendency to start wars of annihilation, has multiple attempted genocides under their belt for at least three member factions, is just plain ugly to contrast the Nightborne valuing beauty and largely disdains magic. The reason the fans were fed is that the Nightborne feel kinship with the Blood Elves even though the Blood Elves are the antithesis of everything the Nightborne pride themselves on (self-control, not being highborne, hating the Burning Legion, no demonic bullshit allowed, not really all that big on the Holy Light, etc.) and Tyrande's distrust of the Nightborne because they sided with the Burning Legion twice (even though the Blood Elves are recovering fel addicts whose entire civilization proved Tyrande's point).
Queen Azshara stepped back into the spotlight as a major villain with a new and tentacled form. She might have married N'Zoth, who 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 which 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. 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 (and according to the story, this is Hail Mary pass - or a desperate last shot to those who don't know U.S football - and if it 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 treachery and mind break her into being loyal to N'Zoth. After N'Zoth's servants are killed, Azshara is freed and offers Xal'atath, saying it's vital to killing N'Zoth before saying she seeks the true throne of power and teleporting out (with neither Wrathion nor the player characters trying to stop or kill her for some weird reason). Then N'Zoth nearly mind-controls the players and wins before getting hit with lazers channelled through the necklaces and has a defeat cinematic which in no way resembles Sauron's defeat from the Peter Jackson version of "Return of the King'.
Patch 8.3 brought two new allied races. On the Horde's side, the Alliance warfront campaign in Vul'dun had a nasty habit of treating the Vulpera as Horde collaborators, which drove the fox people to go full mujahideen and join the Horde out of spite. Meanwhile, because allied races are traditionally added in pairs, the gnomes discovered an isolated island of gnomes fighting a civil war over what degree of turning gnomes into cybermen is going too far, but was really just a mount and xmog grindfest with rayguns and chainswords.
Sylvanas is 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, chained him up and shattered the Helm of Domination, which somehow made a giant hole in the sky that leads to the afterlife. Frankly after the Cataclysm, several years of attacks by legion space fleets, a planet-sized fel portal, a planet-sized demonic titan stabbing his sword into Silithus and it being stuck there, burning down the nelf city tree... seeing a hole in the sky to a nightless hellscape wouldn't get a second glance from the typical Azerothian.
There are different afterlives, such as various purgatory-type places, afterlives for reincarnation and a place called the Maw which is post-retcon Warcraft's version of hell. The most influential being in the Shadowlands is the Arbiter, an ancient being who assesses a person's deeds then sends them to an afterlife based on that. But she's unconscious and unable to judge (Sylvanas and Helya were chief suspects, it was later revealed to be Dreadlord meddling and Argus' soul) and the Jailer is sucking the souls of everyone who dies into the Maw. Meanwhile, the rulers of the other afterlives only know that there's an absence of new souls and an anima drought in addition to their own issues.
In a weird way, the Shadowlands harvests soul energy and uses those people in their armies. Many of the actions taken are ruthless, though some have good reasons. 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. Big hit A-listers like Draka....remember her she was Thrall's mom? What a perfect and relevant character to bring back, Shadowlands is sure to succeed with such a star. /s Thankfully, major characters like Uther, Kael'thas - a blood elf prince introduced in Warcraft 3 whose story was screwed so badly Blizzard themselves apologized for it, and Kel'Thuzad appear and have significant story roles. Garrosh only appeared in a trailer and as a raid boss' captive in the Jailer's base... where he literally yeeted himself out of the story just as quickly to destroy his captor with him. Also Lady Vashj is there too. Anyone remember Lady Vashj?
After the Jailer, with Sylvanas' help, mind-controlled Anduin into wielding his finest weapon, the Jailer starts his endgame (yes, that word was chosen for a reason). The expansion turns out to have been the final part of plot by the Jailer to gather the five
Infinity Stones covenant sigils and enter Zereth Mortis: the origin point of the cosmos and the true heart of the Realm of Death. Home and grave of the SUPER GODS that were even better then that Titans! There, he plans on rewriting the rules of reality. To what? Literally no one knows, including Sylvanas who sacrificed everything to help this guy do whatever it was he was trying to do to fate and reality and death. It is kind of weird to have a whole arc to go by without a motive for the villain, but I'm sure it will be evil! With the help of the newly-returned Primus, we try to fight back against the Jailer, and Tyrande's "Night Warrior" story is sloppily ended with an Elune cameo and Tyrande losing said powers. Even "better", we fail and Sylvanas, who has literally seen him have so much in common with Lich King Arthas - to the point of turning Anduin's sword into Frostmourne 2.0 and making her do to Anduin what Arthas did to her - turns on the Jailer after he says the word "serve".
It's at this point that things turn meta. The sloppy Sylvanas double-cross was frankly the last straw for a large and vocal segment of the WoW userbase. Multiple prominent streamers and bloggers very visibly left for Final Fantasy XIV, in turn causing Square Enix to temporarily freeze digital sales in order to bring more servers online. By the start of 2022 it's clear that Shadowlands was not a bold new direction for the WoW franchise, but rather part of a holding pattern - one previously hidden behind fanservice and nostalgia-bating - for a writing team that has no long term story and is scraping the dirt under the barrel for ideas. The Jailer, the main villain of Shadowlands, ends not with a bang, but literally a whimper, his whispered dying words used as a vague cliffhanger to set up a future expansion; showing that not even Warcraft's version of heaven and hell can end the infinite regression of the bigger evil.
Once the dust is settled and the Jailer dead, there's still the matter of what to do with Sylvanas (the Jailer having given her half of her soul back to let her feel guilt and torment her after she turned on him). In a surprisingly actually-not-badly written ending, Tyrande decides that Sylvanas's fate will be to spend however long she needs to rescue every single soul she's been responsible for sending to the Maw, and only then will she be judged by the new Arbiter (Pelagos, a Kyrian who stepped up to replace the previous one). Which gives Tyrande a say over Sylvanas's fate while also removing the banshee from the game's plot for the forseeable future and still allows the potential "redemption" (since souls that doomed entire planets are shown to still be given the chance to atone in Revendreath, completely refusing any such opportunity to the now-fully-souled and regretful Sylvanas would have been odd)
We're finally going to the Dragon Isles. Looks like the love-child of Northrend and the Broken Isles. New playable race are the freshly made-up Dracthyr (rather than one or two of a dozen already fleshed out and existing races fans actually wanted such as Ogres and Tuskarr, though they do seem to be based on old concept art for WoW creatures), veering between monstergirls/monsterboys and scalies via a Worgen-like transformation power. Lots of new dragon models (though the aforementioned Drachtyr's mortal forms use retextured blood elf models with spikes and scales added here and there), including dragon characters such as Kalecgos and Alexstraza (the latter showing less skin as part of Blizzard's push to clean their image after a sex scandal).
Plot seems to be similar to Mists of Pandaria, where there's no clear huge evil guy at first and instead will be mostly about exploring the islands. In the background gradually moving to the forefront as the expansion goes on is the Primalists, a faction of Proto-dragons. Unlike the ones seen in Northrend which were like the neanderthal ancestors to Dragons, the Primalists were the fully person-like subordinates of Galakrond (the giant Dragon skeleton in Northrend) who fought against the Dragons and Titans for control of the world. Big daddy Galakrond was killed and the Primalist leaders, the Primal Incarnates (AKA evil Dragon Aspects) were imprisoned for some reason in Thaldraszus, which turns out to be the physical location of the fucked up timespace the Bronze Dragons use to police time that you enter from Tanaris. The Titan Tyr, patron of humanity (and the reason Lordaeron or more specifically Tirisfal was so messed up) did the bulk of the work there, building the Chekhov's gun Titan facilities. Deathwing, before he was evil, created the Dracthyr in case the Primalists ever escaped to be the soldiers among the Dragonkin races and made them more independent and intelligent (one Dracthyr even comments on Dragonkin aesthetic not having changed at all in the millennia). When the War Of The Ancients broke out the Dracthyr were sealed underground, basically having the same backstory as the Dwarf ancestor robots that became Ironforge, although he activated a device left by Tyr to put the entire island including the Primalists into stasis and unreachable until the Titan Watchers deactivated it, though they remained still and died over the years until the last surviving one finally woke up, allowing the Dragons to return and waking up the Dracthyr who are quite confused and angry to have found out they were abandoned for so long. Of course the Primalists also woke up, and the Dracthyr wandered off rather than being there to fight them to either join the Horde or Alliance depending on their disposition (and just like the Pandaren your patron faction leaders are "the patient planning nerd" and "the moron who met the Horde first"). Within the Horde they take the position of powerful allies that nobody trusts and have no idea what is going on in the world they are in that the Draenei did in Burning Crusade, and likewise the Alliance ones become the arrogant and somewhat racist sophisticated former isolationists realizing they need friends that the Blood Elves did for the Horde.
Apparently as a result of seeing two faction wars (one that got a town nuked with a neutral continent and an alternate timeline being dragged in, the other starting with a genocide and ending with an Old God released and almost destroying the planet), another Legion invasion that got the planet fucking stabbed by a continent-sized demonic sword, the release of said Old God's most powerful servant - Azshara - who's now free with all her planet-wrecking power doing who the fuck even knows, and the very concept of death and the afterlife goddamn breaking, the Dragonflights decided that this "Age of Mortals" thing might not have been a good idea after all and that they're gonna regain their powers to return as protectors of Azeroth and we're along to help them - which is important, given they themselves have been mortal since Cataclysm. Hopefully they get their sterility issue fixed while at it, because being on the extinction clock is a bit of a problem. Meanwhile Wrathion has been accepted by the other Dragons as the best chance they have at Black Dragons not being evil and all the other non-evil Black Dragons who thought they were the rest of their race and only sane member, including the ones in Outland, have united in an awkward family reunion to decide the pecking order.