The Cataclysm Time Warp
Back when The Shattering was just beginning to peek in the door, and people who never got a beta invite (Curse you, Blizz. CUUURSEEE YOOOUUU!) were getting their first look at what changes were about to hit the world, a very interesting discussion arose. Amidst the chaos of “Fix this bug Blizz, U lAzy!” and “OMG my class is horrible nao!” many of the lore orientated players (and it never ceases to amaze me exactly how many are out there) took to the task of figuring out exactly how many years had passed since Wrath of the Lich King, or just from the original vanilla WoW (as opposed to Cataclysm Vanilla WoW… Catanilla?)
Oh there were discussions upon discussions about it. Anduin was this age and now he looks this age, how can Van Cleef have died five years ago instead of the three we thought had passed? I simply chopped it up to represent that each expansion was about one year and the original Vanilla WoW was probably 2-3 years from level 1-60. Van Cleef died at level 18 or so, so he would have died as part of the earlier years of Vanilla, where as the assault on Ahn’Qiraj or the beheading of Nefarian would be later on. That’s just me, and I don’t think there’s any official word on exactly how much time passed and in which expansion that extra time fell in. Heck, maybe the Northrend campaign took a couple of years. It’s not like the Lich King’s forces just let the Alliance and Horde walk in.
But after the Shattering and questing around some in the lower level zones I quickly forgot the question of how many years had passed leading up to the Shattering and became more interested in the time span of how much time had passed SINCE the Shattering. There a number of instances that suggested that some manner of time had passed from the Shattering to start of the player experience at level 1. I’m sure you’ll see me bring it up in my Adventures of Vrykerion series as I look at each of the zones but the two most immediate examples of this I can point to are the Goblin starter experience and the Tauren start zone at Camp Narache.
After the Shattering, Camp Narache has gone from a training ground for young tauren to the frontline defense against a potential quillboar invasion. So when did the quillboar decide to hop out of their little valley and began a full assault on Mulgore? Why after the Shattering, of course! But this isn’t a mere “The Shattering happened and now here comes an invasion” oh no. The invasion is over. Most of Red Cloud Mesa is now under quillboar control and they’ve already raised several of their giant razorthorn plants and converted the region into their charred, grey territory. They also killed the elder of Camp Narache, Unaya Hawkwind. So when exactly did all this happen? How fast do the razorthorn plants grow? Has it been weeks or months since the Shattering?
The Goblins probably would have put a nail into this entire mystery if it wasn’t for the fact that we don’t know how long it takes a raptor to reach adulthood. Yes, I’m talking about Subject Nine. She is really the heart of this entire thing. We know that Subject Nine was a baby when the Shattering occurred, Deathwing appeared and Kezan was destroyed. We know that she is a full-grown adult with children by the time we meet her in Azshara. So how much time is that? However long it was, it was also when the goblins were able to establish the Bilgewater Harbor and all the other buildings and structures in the region.
We also know that the Lost Isles takes place at some point after Thrall has returned from Outland but just before he has reached the Maelstrom. So the goblins couldn’t have spent that much time on Gallywix’s slave ship/yacht (or the Earthen Ring took their sweet time in getting to the Maelstrom), so the time jump had to have either been on their way to Orgrimmar or after they arrived there. Honestly, I don’t have a clue on this one. If I had to take guess on the time span between the Shattering and the majority of the game play experience, I’d say it would be at least a couple of months if not more. Maybe it ties in to how long it has been from the original vanilla to catanilla. (Vanillysm?)
Unless somehow time has been shaken loose and not operating in the sense of minutes or hours now that the world has moved on, this is probably going to a reoccurring WTF moment for me going forward from here. Because until I figure this out, I’m going to be trying to piece it together with every little bit of information I can scrounge up while leveling. So as I said, don’t be surprised if you hear me mention this again while writing, because honestly – this is driving me nuts.