Some people play WoW for the PvP, some do it for the raids, and others want to get the shiniest gear and then rub in the face of others (Don’t roll your eyes. You know they exist. We all do.) Me? Well, I play WoW for the Lore. The stories, the characters and the idea of ever evolving world. I latch onto the continuity of WoW like a comic book fan beating their head into their desk because DC decided to bring back the multiverse (That reminds me, I still need to read ’52’).
So when the Creative Development team at Blizz decides to post a Q&A, I take notice. More than that, I comb through that thing with a fine tooth comb. More than more than that, here are the results of my combing:
Q: Are the Warcraft and World of Warcraft RPG books considered canon?
A: No. The RPG books were created to provide an engaging table-top role-playing experience, which sometimes required diverging from the established video game canon. Blizzard helped generate a great deal of the content within the RPG books, so there will be times when ideas from the RPG will make their way into the game and official lore, but you are much better off considering the RPG books non-canonical unless otherwise stated.
I made a passing joke about this on Twitter that this eliminates half of WoWpedia. They actually responded saying that it doesn’t but they welcome feedback on the site. Of course, they said this while the site (and all of the Curse network) was down. Dare I call their bluff? I don’t even know where to begin with all the information that I’ve used here on this very blog that came from the RPG books. Info on the Dead Goliaths? Yup. Populations of various cities, towns and countries? Uh huh. Details about day to day life in certain places in the game as well as info on races and characters? Oh there’s a ton of it in those books. See, WoWpedia can claim that this minor statement doesn’t invalidate a good chunk of the lore they keep stashed on their shelves, but it has essentially rendered any article citing those books as unreliable as most people think the real Wikipedia is. I’ll be using WoWpedia and WoWwiki with a grain of salt from here on out.
Q: Where is X? (X = Calia Menethil, Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, Med’an, Gallywix, etc.)
A: There are several “missing” characters in the Warcraft universe, but they are not forgotten! While we’d love to talk about these characters, doing so would spoil a number of the plots we have for Cataclysm and beyond. Believe us when we say that you will definitely hear about these characters when we’re ready to talk about them!
The trick to this answer isn’t that they let slip that they haven’t forgotten about these characters. It’s the little bit about plots for Cataclysm “and beyond”. You catch that? I wonder how far ahead they’ve got planned. The next expansion? The next three? Also the choice of examples here are very interesting. Calia Menethil, now sole heir to the throne of Lordaeron and had a crush on Deathwing’s human disguise, could she be returning to face off against the Forsaken? Maybe she was hiding out in the safety of Gilneas until the Cataclysm? Hmm… My brains a boil with the possibilities! And Alleria (no doubt ashamed of her sisters) and Turalyon, lost during the expedition into Outland, could this be a hint at a return to the desolate remains of Draenor? Or their triumphant return during Azeroth’s darkest hour?
Med’an and Gallywix are not so surprising. One’s a AWOL faction leader who is bound to turn up eventually (Fingers crossed for Her Tallness to boot his fat goblin butt out of office though) and the other is a Jesus allegory second only to Thrall who may be the key to finishing out this expansion ala Sunwell Girl. (Naturally Med’an will be even more upset when he learns what the Forsaken did to his REAL father.)
Q: Why isn’t there a(n) X Archaeology branch? (X = Tauren, Aqir, Faceless One, Furbolg, Murloc, etc.)
A: This is more of a game design question than a CDev one, but it was asked enough that we wanted to at least point out the following: just because a race doesn’t have an Archaeology branch now doesn’t mean there aren’t artifacts for that race, nor does it mean that the race isn’t a candidate for possible future additions to the profession.
Yes, yes, you can add more stuff to archaeology later. We know, we know. Moving on.
Q: Have we seen a true titan yet in World of Warcraft?
A: No, only their creations.
Well that closes out a lot of speculation doesn’t it? I had always assumed that everything we’ve seen thus far were just creations (Guardians of Ulduar) or interns (Algalon) of the Titans. But it’s nice to have a confirmation. Especially on Algalon who really could have gone either way with him being a lesser Titan of the pantheon or just their… /sunglasses Star Intern. YEEEEAAAA…
Q: Are night elves related to trolls in some way?
A: See issue #5 of the World of Warcraft Official Magazine!
Low blow, Blizz. Low blow. Somehow I expect to flip open the magazine and just find the big words “Yes” in there. Come on, do we really need to dance around this? Especially when just further down you state that Pre-Titans there were no night elves but there were trolls. Do you want us to believe that elves were titan creations too? Really? Were there pointy eared stone golems running amuck that got corrupted by the Curse of the Flesh and they just happened to look like the homo sapien to the trolls’ neanderthal? YES. ELVES ARE RELATED TO TROLLS. That simple. But nooo… you had to pimp your magazine.
Q: What is the relationship between the Ancients of the Emerald Dream and the loa?
A: Troll druids visiting the Moonglade have been overheard calling the wisps who reside there loa, just as they refer to Goldrinn, Aviana, and the other returned Ancients as loa. Night elves and tauren have tried to counsel these trolls on “correct” druidic nomenclature, but the trolls thus far have been stuck in their ways.
This could indicate one of two things. A) Trolls simply have different names for things, and that includes Ancients, nature spirits, and perhaps even Old Gods. or B) The trolls simply refer to or assume anything supernatural is related to a loa. “Hey Mr. Troll! This is a lighter.” “Dat be a powahful loa, mon.” “No… it’s a lighter.” “Loa.” “Light-er” “Lo-ah” You get the drift. Though if the Ancients are just Loa, like how Goldrinn is also Lo’gosh, does that mean that you can siphon their power away from them and become more powerful like the Drakkari did? Hmm…
Q: If trolls are able to regenerate their limbs, why didn’t Zul’jin’s arm grow back?
A: For the most part, it is the speed at which trolls regenerate that makes them formidable foes. When in balance with the loa of their tribe, they are also able to regrow digits (fingers and toes). Tales abound in troll culture, however, of those blessed by the loa with extraordinary regenerative abilities, such as the ability to regrow limbs and even vital organs lost in battle. The tale of Vula’jin the Void speaks of how he regrew almost his entire body after standing in a pool of shadowflame. But just as the loa can bless, they can also curse; troll children are taught legends of those cursed by the loa, unable to heal even flesh wounds, to instill the proper respect for their patron spirits.
Really? Cause the patron spirits seemed pretty keen in Zul’Aman to… /sunglasses Lend a hand? (That was the last Sunglasses joke. I promise.) I know that this is essentially the voice of god telling us that he didn’t get his arm back because he was cursed by the gods (for defending his people? Going against high elves and humans? What exactly did Zul’jin do to tick them off exactly?) but would it really be that hard to say that the wound was cauterized before it would grew back so he wouldn’t die of blood loss? I mean he was only regenerating 5 hp per second (but to be fair, there was nothing the Alliance could do about it.)
Q: What races were on Azeroth before the coming of the titans?
A: Besides the elementals, the only known sentient races on Azeroth when the titans’ forces arrived to subdue the Old Gods were the trolls, the race known as “faceless ones,” and the aqir. Due to the Old Gods’ war against the titans, as well as the extensive terraforming that followed the war’s conclusion, records of what races existed before even the Old Gods’ arrival have likely been lost forever.
See! No night elves! Just trolls, Aqir and “Faceless Ones”. Which is slowly become a very broad category actually. We’ve seen faceless ones in Northrend, we’ve seen them in Vashj’ir, and a couple of other places too but they generally differ in appearance. My only assumption is that a Faceless One is some sort of highly corrupted form created by an Old God, and that each Old God creates slightly different looking Faceless Ones. The Water-type Faceless Ones are created by the Dark Below, which according to WoWwiki is a plane of monsters and demons possibly below the crust of Azeroth. This information comes from the Manual of Monsters, one of the Warcraft RPG books, which means it’s worth JACK SQUAT. *head to desk* Hands up for the folks who think the Dark Below actually being Old God related? Possibly N’zoth? Yea I thought so.
Q: What contact, if any, have the tol’vir in Uldum had with the rest of Azeroth over the course of their existence?
A: Although the systems keeping Uldum hidden from the rest of the world worked flawlessly from the ordering of Azeroth up until the Cataclysm, the tol’vir inside did have some knowledge of what was going on outside their home: many of the titans’ security devices in Uldum were in communication with the other titanic cities (Ulduar, Uldaman, etc.). The Halls of Origination were actually the system that Algalon the Observer intended to activate upon his arrival in Ulduar… which the players prevented from automatically triggering when they sent the “Reply-Code Alpha” signal from Dalaran.
In case you were wondering what the actual answer to the actual question was, it was ‘No’. They haven’t had any contact. You kinda have to infer that from the answer we were given about… Wait. Wait wait wait wait WAIT. Algalon the Observer had the authority to activate the Halls of Origination? Never mind the stuff about the tol’vir, what was the point of Reply Code Alpha then? If the titans had entrusted Algalon with the power the re-originate the planet using the Genesis Device – I mean Halls of Origination, then shouldn’t Azeroth not being rebooted been enough of an all clear? I thought the whole point of that was that Algalon was here to, you know, OBSERVE and then report his findings to the titans along with whether or not the planet needs to be rebooted. We stop him before he can send his report, so he gives us the all-clear code to send back instead.
So did we stop Algalon by defeating him and showing him that we don’t need to be rebooted, or did we stop him by sending the signal? Because one of these answers invalidates the other. You can’t have your plot cake and eat it too, Blizz. Don’t make me contact the Red Shirt Guy.
Where? Valley of Bones, Desolace
I have a bone to pick with Cataclysm. It’s a punch to the rib cage with all the changes it’s making to the Old World and I’m rattling my skull trying to think of all of the weird ones I need to cover before the big patch comes and leaves me picking what’s left off the bones of these ideas. That being said, I’ve always been captivated with the large skeletons embedded in the walls of southern Desolace. I mean, there are a lot of stray bones in Azeroth, mostly of creatures you’ll never be able to figure out who or what they were. Heck, just take a trot further south to Silithus. It’s bone central! But these two skeletons are interesting because they seem to help tie an idea together that is deeply embedded in WoW lore, and kind have gotten concistently swept underneath the rug in favor of less subtle lore, like the God of Death hanging out in a Titan basement and Arthas’ not shutting the hell up about his crappy plan that is doomed to fail. So today we explore the mystery that is… The Dead Goliaths.
The Dead Goliaths, sometimes called the Twin Goliath (Not to be confused with the slightly less mysterious, more natural phenomon known as the Twin Colossus, which is further south in Feralas) have actually been a subject of some discussion. The general idea is that they were giant naga that fell in battle, either to each other or to dozens of centaur soldiers (as demonstrated by the arrows in their armor). Though it could be that the large targets proved to be useful as target practice for the Centaur and they had nothing to do with the destruction of the Dead Goliaths. But that’s the exact problem here, we know NOTHING about these things. We have nothing to go off of except for the remains. There’s no text that references them directly, in fact the only time they are mentioned in a quest is as a visual landmark, a simple sign for players to tell them “KILL TEH SKELETONS HERE GUYZ LOL!” However, they are mentioned in the Warcraft RPG books as an entry made by one Brann Bronzebeard in his explorations of Kalimdor, where he notes that they are: “bones of Old Gods.” There’s that name again – Old Gods. It seems to turn up as often as Twisting Nether only it carries much more weight because it tends to refer to a very specific thing, instead of an easy deus ex machina.
As I said before, most people have assumed that these two creatures are massive naga. While the connection between the Old Gods and the naga is well known, as well as the naga’s presence across the ocean shore of Desolace, I’m not entirely convinced that they are the same creature. My case for this stems mostly from the most overused plot device in any crime mystery: forensics. More importantly, the teeth on these things. Naga do not have fangs like these two goliaths do. They tend to have rows of sharp teeth of approximately the same size in their mouths, similar to that of a moray eel, where these creatures clearly have the teeth similar to that of a snake, with two large fangs. Not only that, but we’ve never seen a naga this big. Ever. Not even hints of one. Surely if naga grew this big, they would have used them before this point somewhere ( …Okay, there is Naj’entus. He’s pretty big. Maybe. MAYBE. But then there’s the whole teeth thing.)
However, there is another creature with teeth like that and while it’s a little smaller, it’s size does not extend beyond the possibilities of slightly larger variations. Another creature that Brann Bronzebeard had also described once as an ‘Old God.’ An ancient and powerful creature of unknown origin and unknown species. Oh come on, you must have thought of it by now. Heck I know half of you thought of it as soon as you saw the picture for these things. Hakkar! Hakkar the Soulflayer from Zul’Gurub. You can’t tell me the dead goliaths aren’t a dead ringer for the blood god. Which raises so many fun questions about Hakkar. Was he truly an Old God, or a servant of the Old Gods similar to that of the Faceless Ones or the Qiraji? If there were more than one, are there even more out there? Is that whats sitting underneath the basement of Gundrak?! So many questions! But I’m only going to discuss one today. How these two things got here.
Regardless of how they died, be it centaur, boredom or chilling in a valley having a cup of joe the moment the Sundering occurred, I want to know exactly what two giant snake people wanted in Desolace. It sure as hell wasn’t to take in the scenery. When you boil it down, there are the only 3 major features in Desolace: The Burning Legion area, the centaur area, and the satyr area. All of which are scattered with a combination of Highbourne and Titan ruins. So which of these things would two giant snake monsters want? Well, they could want to sign on with the Burning Legion. It’s a futile pointless effort, since Burning Legion is not an equal opportunity employer and they probably don’t provide dental since I don’t think any of their forces actually have teeth (Felhunters have beaks… Maybe? I don’t know) and that’s a huge downside for giant snake people.
If the giant snake people do turn out to be naga, it would give them a reason to talk to the satyr. They have similar origins, both being corrupted people. Maybe they were on their way to a weekly meeting of Corrupted Elves Anonymous. “Hi, I’m a gigantic horrible snake beast, and I’m a corrupted elf.” “Hi gigantic horrible snake beast.” While I’m not sure how canonical that is, but it does create some awesome mental images of a bunch of monsters sitting around a fire and one crying as it has a ‘moment’. The only other group is the centaur and the only thing I could possibly think that the snake people would want with the centaur is food. Seriously. There really isn’t a lot of advantages to dealing with those things. They’re a bunch of cannibalistic half-elemental fruit loops that have nothing better to do than to run around and fight anything they run into, even each other. Is there anything to be gained here for a giant snake monster? I mean, besides a quick snack. By which I mean eat them. Hey, it would explain why they would shoot arrows at you at least.