Here, there be dragons and magical beasts
Q: Wrathion constantly claims that he is the last black dragon, but what of Sabellian and the other black dragons in Outland (and even the Netherwing)? Did Wrathion somehow have them killed, or is he ignorant of their existence?
A: Wrathion states, “To my knowledge, I am the only black dragon who remains.” Thankfully, Wrathion is not omniscient, and he is simply ignorant of the dragons beyond the Dark Portal. Both the black dragons under his elder half-brother Sabellian and the Netherwing flight remain in Outland. There is also the possibility that some black dragons on Azeroth have managed to evade Wrathion’s detection as well.
Q: Alexstrasza states that the Aspects' "great purpose" has been fulfilled. However, the titans empowered the Aspects to watch over Azeroth and not to just stop Deathwing's second Cataclysm. Since Aman'Thul gifted Nozdormu with his powers over time, it's possible he predicted Deathwing's ultimate corruption, but that doesn't explain why the Aspects would be like, "alright, job's done, vacation time" when there's still other threats to consider (N'zoth and the Burning Legion, for example). Is this a retcon or are we missing something?
A: Aman’Thul, the wise leader of the titan Pantheon, had seen in a vision that the Old Gods would one day cause a catastrophe with the potential to wipe out all life on Azeroth. He and a few members of the Pantheon empowered the five Dragon Aspects with the ultimate goal of averting this single catastrophe, this Hour of Twilight, though they strove to defend Azeroth whenever a suitably apocalyptic threat emerged. Despite Aman’Thul’s vast powers, however, he was not omniscient: neither he, nor any of the other titans or Aspects knew that Neltharion the Earth-Warder would become a pawn of the Old Gods and the herald of the apocalypse. However, following the War of the Ancients and Neltharion’s betrayal, Nozdormu received another vision of the future that made it clear that their own brother would be the Hour of Twilight’s harbinger. The titans bestowed upon all five Aspects enough power to avert the apocalypse, and by turning one of the Aspects to their side, the Old Gods believed this would make their ultimate plan foolproof.
Q: Why don’t we see mountain giants, faerie dragons, chimaera, and certain ancient units from Warcraft III like the ancients of winds or wonders and trees of life aiding the night elves now?
A: Many of the forest creatures that assisted the night elves were not, obviously, part of the actual military hierarchy of the Sentinels. The mountain giants, for instance, hold allegiance only to the titans, while the faerie dragons and chimaera are simply somewhat intelligent animals with ties to the Emerald Dream and Nordrassil, respectively. These beings all assisted the night elves not due to a desire to help them in particular, but because the night elves were the largest local force who opposed the Burning Legion. Short of a planetary threat, it is rare to see mountain giants, faerie dragons or chimaera fighting with a mortal army. The ancients, on the other hand, suffered heavy losses during the Third War, with many, especially the varieties that were never in great supply to begin with, returning to the forests to hopefully spread their seeds and replenish their numbers undisturbed.
Magic and Elements
Q: Is there a reason that many priest spells, especially shadow priest spells, have names that refer to psychic phenomena like "Mind Spike" or "Psychic Horror?” Are priests implicitly telepaths?
A: The Light is often said to bring about feelings of positive emotion -- hope, courage, comfort -- and the like. Shadow abilities are just the opposite, able to impart feelings like despair, doubt, and panic. In a poetic sense, it can be said that the emotions which the Light brings about come from the “heart,” whereas the emotions manipulated by shadow are often based on survival logic, and therefore affect the “mind.” That said, priests and their abilities are not necessarily always psychic or telepathic in nature.
Q: Throughout the events of Cataclysm, every Elemental Lord except Therazane is killed or captured. What happens to the political structure of the Elemental Planes with their lords gone?
A: There are many elementals imprisoned within the Elemental Planes, though only the most powerful have intelligence comparable to that of a civilized humanoid. Most of these elementals were pressed into service by the Twilight’s Hammer and their Old God masters during the events of the Cataclysm, and most perished. As such, it will take a long, long time for the elemental planes to rebuild their forces into an army that could threaten Azeroth again, as most of the remaining elementals are of relatively bestial intelligence and have no desire to rule over much of anything. For the Firelands in specific, the Avengers of Hyjal are guarding its few remaining portals, to ensure that a new Firelord can never rise again.
Of the Gods
Q: Is there truly an Old God underneath the Tirisfal Glade?
A: Nope! There’s something incredibly unsettling there, but it’s not an Old God. It isn’t recommended to go digging through the Glades, though.
Q: What is Elune? Is she tied to any other beings (Naaru, Titans, Loa, Elementals, An’she, etc.) in the setting’s cosmology?
A: See the final answer in Ask Creative Development, Round 2. Velen has been a prophet of the naaru for many thousands of years, and it’s unlikely that he would propose such a theory without significant evidence and consideration.
Q: Why do some Alliance soldiers raised by the Forsaken immediately become loyal to the Forsaken while others do not? Are they being mind controlled? If so, by whom: Sylvanas or the Val’kyr? How does this relate to the fact that the Forsaken cultural identity is based on their free will and rebellion against the Lich King?
A: Free will is one of the cornerstones of Forsaken culture, with the great capacity for both good and evil that it entails. However, some undead, especially those who die in combat or under extreme stress and are raised soon after, enter into a violent, frenzied state. Undead in this state are easily manipulated and their rage is often directed at the foes of those who raised them. After the effects wear off, if the risen corpse has not been destroyed, they are given the same ultimatum that other Forsaken are offered: join the Dark Lady or return to the grave.
Q: From the quest “A Special Surprise,” a Worgen Death Knight could learn from Lord Harford that they were servants of Arugal before their death and resurrection. But, how did they keep their humanity and intelligence without drinking the Ritual Water?
A: When the player death knights are pressed into the service of the Lich King, their minds are flooded with his indomitable will. The mind of a worgen who has not undergone the purification ritual beneath Tal’doren is in a state of constant battle between the wild, animal instincts of the curse and the rational mind of a human. Almost invariably, the curse overwhelms the human mind and renders the worgen little more than a ravenous beast. With the addition of the Lich King’s control, however, the instincts of the curse are shattered by his power, leaving the logical, human mind in the service of the Scourge. And with the Lich King’s will removed, as was the case with the Knights of the Ebon Blade at Light’s Hope Chapel, only the human portions of the mind remain, giving the now free, undead worgen control over its destiny. Similarly, the Forsaken discovered that the Archmage Arugal had access to enchantments that allowed his favored worgen servants -- which included Lord Harford -- to retain a fair deal of their human intelligence as well. The source of these enchantments remains a mystery to this day, as Arugal took these secrets with him to his grave.
The Price of Rule
Q: Why did the throne of Khaz Modan fall into the hands of the Bronzebeard clan, when the Anvilmar family still had descendants? Was it one of the causes of the War of the Three Hammers? Did the Bronzebeard clan usurp the throne from the Anvilmars?
A: Though the bloodline of the Anvilmar family was running thin by the death of Modimus Anvilmar, it was by no means defunct, as evidenced by its modern-day descendants Thargas and Hjalmar Anvilmar. Modimus had done an admirable job of easing the tensions between the three main clans of Ironforge during his tenure as high king, though tensions always simmered under the society’s surface. After Modimus’ death and before his eldest son could be officially crowned, civil war broke out between the three clans. None know who struck the first blow -- Bronzebeard and Wildhammer dwarves blame the Dark Irons, while the Dark Irons blame the Wildhammers -- all that we know is that the Bronzebeard dwarves emerged victorious due to owning the largest, best equipped army of the three clans. Madoran Bronzebeard, leader of the Bronzebeard clan, became the ruler of the now shattered nation of Ironforge. However, due to his clan’s close ties with the Anvilmar family, he offered the now-deposed prince and his descendants a permanent seat on Ironforge’s senate as a token of reconciliation.
Q: Can we get some information on Garithos? Where he was from and on whose orders was he acting? Was there any significant event in his past that caused his hatred of non-human races?
A: Grand Marshal Othmar Garithos was the only son of a baron who ruled over lands in what would later be the Eastern Plaguelands that bordered Quel’Thalas. While his father ruled from the town of Blackwood on the shores of the similarly-named lake, Garithos joined the army as a knight during the Second War, where he saw combat in Quel’Thalas defending the elves’ homeland from invading orcs. While he was in Quel’Thalas, however, a small band of orcs broke off from the main invading force and burned his home town to the ground, killing all of its inhabitants in spite of the valorous defense marshaled by its lord. Othmar’s family perished doing their duty, defending the homes and lives of their subjects. He blamed the elves for the loss of his town and family, believing that the elves diverted forces away from the Alliance’s true goal: the defense of humanity alone. After his father’s death, Garithos was awarded his title and continued his service in the armies of Lordaeron. By the time of the Scourging of Lordaeron, he had attained the rank of Grand Marshal and was the highest ranked surviving military officer in the region, promoted not necessarily due to his own abilities, but his father’s reputation and title. Cut off from the chain of command, Garithos amassed a small army of volunteers and conscripted civilians, and gave them the mission that he assumed the Alliance should have always had: the preservation of humanity above all else. Despite the ad-hoc nature of his forces, other states recognized him as potentially the last remnant of Lordaeron’s government and certainly the strongest warlord in the area. As such, officials from neighboring non-human states such as Ironforge and Quel’Thalas sent him aid, ignorant of his intolerant policies.
For the Alliance
Q: What is the lore behind Gilnean druidism and the existence of “harvest-witches”? Is it a native practice, developed by the humans? Did they somehow pick it up from the night elves, even before the Eastern Kingdoms’ discovery of Kalimdor?
A: In the early days of humanity and its civilization, many tribes of humans had primitive belief systems that incorporated simple nature magic. However, the rise of organized religion such as the Holy Light and the potent arcane magics introduced by the high elves quickly supplanted such traditions. Gilneas, due to its relative isolation, has retained a degree of their ancient culture in the contemporary era. The religious leaders of what was in Gilneas referred to as the “old ways” eventually became “harvest-witches”; those who used their nature powers to augment Gilneas’ agricultural output during and following its period of industrialization. Due to the presence of harvest-witches in their culture, when Gilneans learned about night elf druids (albeit through second, third and even fourth-hand sources) they became fascinated by them and their exotic connotations, to the point where many started referring to harvest witches as “druids”, though this was quite far from the truth, as few Gilneans had any idea what a druid actually was! Harvest-witches have a limited control over nature, especially plant life, and the powers of harvest witches bear a coincidental resemblance to the low-level abilities of actual druids. Harvest witches who contracted the worgen curse (which was druidic in origin) found that their powers were somewhat amplified, and after making first contact with the night elves cursed harvest witches were offered induction into the Cenarion Circle for both study and training.
Q: In Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, Maiev Shadowsong mentions the Night Elves wiping out various races in the past. Was this just bluster, or have they actually engaged in genocidal campaigns?
A: Maiev may not be the most balanced individual on Azeroth, but she does understand the value of intimidating her enemies. The night elves have never completely wiped out a species, though they have engaged in brutal and efficient campaigns of total war that have shattered their enemies’ civilizations, such as the War of the Satyr, in which they completely decimated any semblance of central leadership for the satyrs, forcing them to live in small sects to this day.
For the Horde
Q: How did the blood elven fel eye glint become so widespread? The Warcraft Encyclopedia suggests that Rommath only taught the blood elves of Azeroth about how to siphon arcane magic, as most of the populace would likely be “horrified” if they knew the true extent of Kael’s dealings with Illidan.
A: The situation regarding blood elf eyes is, in fact, extremely similar to that of the green skin of orcs: just being around heavy use of fel magic turned the eyes of the blood elves green. You could be the most pious of priests or most outdoorsy of Farstriders, chances are, if you were a high elf in Quel’Thalas or Outland following the Third War, you were around fel energies, and your eyes would turn green. Like the orcs’ skin color, such an effect would take a very long time to wear off. Fel magic works a bit like radiation in this sense; it permeates the area and seeps into anything in the vicinity. Anything near a source of fel magic shows signs of slight corruption, it just so happens that high elves and orcs manifest it in a very visual way.
Q: How does Cenarius view the Horde? Considering that Cenarius’ first instinct upon seeing orcs in his forest was to attack them, and Cenarius was killed by the father of the current warchief, it seems odd that Cenarius and his allies are so cordial to the Horde and orcs in particular in Hyjal.
A: Despite no longer having warlocks in their ranks, the orcs of Thrall’s Horde still carried within them the unmistakable mark of the Burning Legion upon their very souls up until the moment that Grom Hellscream defeated Mannoroth. Cenarius, as a being so attuned to nature that he can sense the slightest corruption, assumed that the orcs in Ashenvale were scouts of the Legion. This, ironically, sent the Warsong clan back into the service of Mannoroth and lead to the reestablishment of their connection to the potent fel magics that first bound them to the Legion. Cenarius’s spirit returned to the Emerald Dream after his defeat, and within it, he was able to sense the events of the Battle of Mount Hyjal. Cenarius saw the orcs defend Nordrassil hand-in-hand with the night elves and humans, and developed a growing respect for them. Cenarius saw that, despite their fel taint, they were allies against the Legion and defenders of the land (noting Garrosh’s father’s victory over his former enslaver in particular), so when both he and the Horde returned to Hyjal to defend the World Tree once again, Cenarius saw the orcs and their allies in a new light.
Q: Are the Wastewander Bandits of Tanaris and nomadic humans of Uldum native to the region or did they come to Kalimdor during the period of the Third War? If it’s the latter, why did their societies change so much in the short amount of time between then and WoW?
A: The Wastewander Bandits descend from a small band of human pirates who arrived in Kalimdor shortly after its discovery by the peoples of the Eastern Kingdoms. When the Southsea pirates arrived and entered into competition with them, they were essentially marooned in Tanaris after their few ships were stolen. They took to a new life as bandits and started raiding rich goblin settlements and capturing their life-giving water wells. After the failure of Uldum’s cloaking device a few bandits split off from the Wastewanders to pilfer the treasures of the titans.
Q: The New Council of Tirisfal stated in the comic that they intended to investigate Cho’gall and the Twilight’s Hammer. However, in Cataclysm itself and the Bastion of Twilight in specific, the New Council of Tirisfal is nowhere to be found. What have its members, such as Meryl Firestorm or Med’an been up to?
A: Most of the members of the New Council of Tirisfal have scattered to the winds, as it was not quite the secret and binding order that the original Council was. Reghar Earthfury is a member of the Earthen Ring and compatriot of Thrall. Vindicator Maraad returned to the Exodar and helped quash a riot caused by asylum seekers. High Priest Rohan returned to Ironforge, assisting Prince Anduin Wrynn of Stormwind with relief efforts following the Cataclysm, and also helped sort out the short succession crisis during the city’s Dark Iron occupation. Hamuul Runetotem joined the Cenarion Circle in battling the fire elemental forces of Ragnaros and the Twilight’s Hammer invading Mount Hyjal. Broll Bearmantle settled in Darnassus, temporarily assuming Malfurion’s duties of overseeing druid scouting parties while he assisted Tyrande in combat in Feralas. Jaina Proudmoore’s recent adventures following her tenure on the New Council of Tirisfal can be read in Christie Golden’s upcoming novel Tides of War. Meryl Felstorm, though not officially part of the new Counci, has been seen in various ancient libraries researching ancient tomes related to binding, imprisoning and banishing demons, in hopes that he might find a permanent prison for the dreadlord possessing him, Kathra’natir. As for the wonderfully unique Med’an, no one has seen hide, nor hair of him following Maraad’s return to the Exodar, leading some to believe that he has traveled to a new world or plane to continue his training.
Q: Why is Tol Barad apparently home to a population of tauren?
A: The island of Tol Barad’s location on sea lanes and lack of policing due to the collapse of many of the Alliance’s states during the events of the Third War made it a very attractive location for pirates. The town of Rustberg, originally housing many of the nearby prison’s staff, was abandoned when they were recalled to Stromgarde to deal with the catastrophes back home. The town was repurposed by a band of pirates into a base from which they would strike at the wealthy trade towns along the shores of the Baradin Bay. Over the years, some pirates had journeyed to Kalimdor and recruited or impressed various tauren into their crews, tauren who would later call Rustberg home just as their shipmates do.