Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dark Iron Destiny

The Dwarves of the Eastern Kingdoms were once united as a singular Ironforge Clan. All of known Dwarf civilization existed within the kingdom of Dun Morogh (though later discoveries would reveal the existence of the Frostborn in Northrend, and the dwarvish ancestry within the Earthen.) When King Anvilmar died without an heir, three clans formed and began to fight - the Bronzebeard, Wildhammer, and Dark Iron. While the war began as a three-way free-for-all, after the Bronzebeards drove the other clans out of the city, the Wildhammer clan seemed to accept their defeat and set about creating their own capital of Grim Batol off in the Highlands to the east. The Dark Iron clan acted similarly, journeying south into the Redridge Mountains where they would found Thaurissan, their own capital. But unlike the Wildhammer, the Dark Iron never accepted their defeat, and continually plotted against and skirmished with their Bronzebeard neighbors to the north in the hopes of one day capturing Ironforge.

Thaurissan, the Dark Iron's leader and founding monarch, decided that something great and powerful would be needed to defeat his foes, and so he gathered his closest allies and summoned forth Ragnaros the Firelord. The ensuing explosion killed Thaurissan and his seven fellow summoners and burned Redridge Mountains for miles in all directions, creating the Searing Gorge and the Burning Steppes. I don't know if this event also changed the Dark Irons physiologically (the Bronzebeard and Wildhammer look more or less the same, their only visible differences being tattoos and ornamental jewelry,) but it would not be that hard to imagine.

The surviving Dark Iron Dwarves, including Thaurissan's heir, swore fealty to Ragnaros, building Shadowforge city within the newly volcanic Blackrock Mountain. They would then wage war against the races who would one day form the Alliance as well as the upstart Horde invaders after the Orcs conquered the upper reaches of the mountain.

The Dark Iron Empire has kept some very disreputable company: their worship of Ragnaros caught the attention of Twilight's Hammer, who sought to aid them in spreading the chaos of Elemental Fire. We also know that when Thaurissan's queen, Modgud, led her attack on Grim Batol, she carried with her Xal'atath (the current Shadow Priest artifact weapon.) While she was killed, she ultimately unleashed a curse through the city that made it inhabitable, forcing the Wildhammer to live out in the countryside while their capital rotted.

The Dark Iron Dwarves were Warcraft's evil dwarf race, but things got more complicated starting even as early as Vanilla.

When Moira Bronzebeard, daughter of King Magni, disappeared, her father believed she had been kidnapped and held as a political hostage by the dastardly Dark Irons. Little did he know that Moira was, in fact, in Shadowforge City of her own free will, and had in fact fallen in love with Dagran Thaurissan, the Dark Iron Emperor. While we brave adventurers went in and killed her husband, we discovered the truth of their relationship: not only had Moira become Queen of the Dark Irons, she was in fact the mother of the infant who we had just unwittingly made Emperor.

As a union of both Dark Iron and Bronzebeard, Moira believes her son could become the true king of all Ironforge. But given what the Dark Irons have done in the past - holding slaves, worshipping destructive elementals, consorting with apocalyptic cults - a lot of people are very suspicious of her motives (not to mention that with an infant Emperor/King, Moira would probably have all the power until he was an adult.)

In Cataclysm, after Magni was transformed by the Titan ritual that would eventually reveal him as the Speaker (for like three expansions we kind of just assumed he was dead,) Ironforge went through a big political transformation. The Wildhammer and Dark Iron clans were officially allowed back into Ironforge and made part of the Alliance. The Wildhammer taught the Bronzebeards Shamanism while the Dark Irons introduced Warlocks and Mages.

But while playable Bronzebeard Dwarves can now pursue those paths, in Battle for Azeroth we'll be getting Dark Iron Dwarves as a fully playable race.

So how is that introduction going to work?

While there's been plenty of political strife after the formation of the Council of Three Hammers, Moira has pretty much proven her loyalty to the Alliance at this point. So in fact, it might be very easy to get the Dark Irons into the Alliance - simply allowing what has been available lore-wise since Cataclysm.

But I suspect we're going to get more of a story than that.

One thing that I think they need to deal with is that Moira might be leading the Dark Iron Dwarves, but she's not one of them. Sure, you could point out that Sylvanas leads a bunch of former humans, with only a handful of undead elves, but that bond of going through undeath is probably enough to satisfy most of the Forsaken. Is her relationship with Dagran and her son enough to convince all the Dark Irons to follow Moira? I suspect not.

While the possibility of Void Elves, Nightborne, Lightforged Draenei, and Highmountain Tauren coming out before Battle for Azeroth's actual launch seems plausible (all the necessary game files seem to be coming in 7.3.5, meaning they could easily flip the switch any time after that,) it's clear that the Horde won't be getting Zandalari Trolls until we go to, you know, Zandalar. But are the Dark Iron Dwarves tied to Kul Tiras the same way?

Obviously, Kul Tiras is primarily a human territory, and the Dark Irons are pretty firmly established in the Searing Gorge/Burning Steppes area. I suspect that, rather than finding some lost branch of the Dark Irons over on Kul Tiras, it's more likely that while we deal with the intrigue of the Tirasian political environment, we might also have to have some kind of reckoning with the Dark Irons - consolidating their role and purpose as a member of the Alliance separate from the Bronzebeard dwarves.

Might we see some new Dark Iron leadership? Or, given the subtle underlying themes that appear present in Battle for Azeroth, is the Dark Iron connection to Twilight's Hammer and other servants of the Old Gods going to turn out to be an important asset when we have to fight them?

More than the other allied Alliance races (that phrase was odd,) we really don't know much about the actual details of establishing the Dark Iron Dwarves as playable. I suspect we won't until the Beta starts, which is probably still a couple months off.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Blood Elf Shadow Priest's Conundrum

Way back in Burning Crusade, an altoholic already (even having only played for a few months!) I decided that I would need to create both a Draenei and Blood Elf character. Not having a Priest, I went with that for my Sin'dorei. He's never been a high priority character (though I've enjoyed the Insanity mechanic introduced in Legion, which has bumped him up from his typical last place position,) but he's been there for over ten years.

As I've never been much of a healer, he's been Shadow most of this time, and with little lore dissonance - one could easily imagine that after experiencing the horror of the Scourge's assault on Quel'thalas, he decided that dark powers would be required to defend himself, and there is great power within the Void.

In Battle for Azeroth, the Alliance will be getting Void Elves as a playable race. For the first time in WoW's history, we're going to see a group of former members of the Horde joining the Alliance, rather than the other way around (though to be fair, the Horde group they come from had itself defected to the Horde from the Alliance, meaning a Void Elf character could have fought for the Alliance already during the Second War.)

The backstory on Void Elves, to the extent that datamining and such is reliable, suggests that the Void Elves were banished from Quel'thalas for communing with the Void. While Lor'themar and his regime will not tolerate this activity, Alleria Windrunner has mastery over this kind of volatile magic, and assists Alliance heroes in rescuing the Void Elves and recruiting them into the Alliance.

But what about my Priest?

I mean, if anyone has been communing with the Shadow, it's by Priest, who takes on a shadowform not unlike Alleria's at the end of Seat of the Triumvirate and clearly has a strong connection to the void. How is he not being exiled? Is it because, as High Priest of the Conclave (you know, for his individual character canon) he has proven himself too valuable, and that the Ren'dorei are meddling in things that they're not strong enough to manage? They do require Alleria and an Alliance hero to rescue them from the beings whose attention they draw - a position my Shadow Priest has never put himself in.

It's definitely possible that this is simply a case of Story and Gameplay Segregation - perhaps canonically, only the Forsaken have a large number of Shadow Priests, and in other cultures, you either go Holy or Disc or you pretend to do so.

However, I think there's another alternative:

Priests have a somewhat unexplored theme of being the Mind over Matter class. It's most obvious with Shadow Priests, given all their Mind-prefixed abilities (in D&D, while a Death Knight or a Warlock would both trade a bit in Necrotic damage, a Shadow Priest would be almost entirely Psychic.) But there are a few things even among the healers that seem to be mentally-themed. Think a Discipline Priest's Pain Suppression - you're not actually preventing physical harm, but you're making it so that the subject merely doesn't feel as much pain, which somehow keeps them alive. Even the theme of Power Word spells suggest that presenting the idea is enough to have a magical effect.

And in a way, that ties into the idea of Priests being disciplined minds: when it comes to magic, Faith is a kind of willpower - holding onto the idea of the miraculous so hard that it actually winds up coming true.

I've suggested way back when they introduced Insanity as a resource for Shadow Priests that it's sort of shorthand for a more complex idea: a Shadow Priest is building up and holding onto the paradoxical notion that there is power in an absence of things - that the Void, which by definition is completely empty, nevertheless has beings and power within it. The greater the power drawn from the void, the greater the paradox, and thus I think that staying in Void form is more and more mentally taxing as more power is siphoned off until the Priest must relent, reverting to a more stable and static Shadowform.

While the form is changed, like most priest spells, it is probably based within the mind - the Shadow Priest does not undergo any permanent physical change. In fact, the Shadowform itself may in fact by a kind of psychic projection - an illusion so real that it might as well be, even though on some fundamental, objective level of reality, the Shadow Priest is still a being of flesh and blood.

And that's where we get the opening to distinguish Void Elves from Shadow Priests.

Void Elves are not all Shadow Priests. They can be, and they are probably very well suited to the role. But they can also be anything from Mages to Monks to Warriors. A Void Elf Fury Warrior is probably not thinking very much about the mysteries of the Void when she charges into battle, painted in her enemy's blood and swinging a pair of massive greatswords. But she does carry the Void with her.

I would suspect that while a Shadow Priest engages with the Void on an intellectual level, the Void Elves have done so on a physical level. What they sought to accomplish with their experiments, we don't know, but they are changed in a physiological sense. Ultimately, my Shadow Priest can drop his void form, change his practices, and become a Holy Priest, who is probably not going to worry anyone in Silvermoon.

But that aforementioned hypothetical Void Elf Warrior is always going to be just that. They are tainted with the Void to a greater degree than the Blood Elves were ever tainted with Fel.

A class is what you choose to do. Race, in WoW, is who you are. One of these, lorewise, can be changed. The other can't (well, perhaps we should say that changes like this are a one-way street.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hakkar, the Blood God

We have yet to meet a friendly Wind Serpent deity.

To step outside WoW for a moment to another iconic RPG, in Dungeons and Dragons, the closest equivalent to a wind serpent is a Coautl, which is actually a Lawful Good Celestial (the creature type shared with beings like angels.) Inspired by Mesoamerican mythological figures like Quetzalcoatl, they're basically good guys.

In WoW, Wind Serpents are an ordinary type of animal, and thus there are Loa (Wild Gods) who take that form - possibly they began life as ordinary animals that were uplifted by the Keeper Freya, which we know is what happened to make Ashamane a Wild God.

There are four wind-serpent deities we know of in WoW. Three are affiliated with Trolls (two even within Zul'drak specifically) while one is from Draenor.

Sethe was a Wild God (if that's what huge, powerful, magical, intelligent beasts are called there) who allied with the bird gods Anzu and Rukhmar to free Arak from the Primals. Each brought their own powers to the table, and what Sethe brought was a connection to the Shadow and the Void. After their victory, Sethe became jealous of Rukhmar's ability to fly high above the spires, and plotted against her. But Anzu confronted him, slaying Sethe by slamming him into what is now the Broken Spire. Sethe threatened to poison the whole world with his blood, and so Anzu ate up all of his flesh to prevent the spread of his corruption. Anzu was cursed for this, losing his ability to fly and being connected to the Void himself. Later, when the Adherents of Rukhmar cast down the Talon King Terokk to be maimed by the blood of Sethe in Sethekk Hollow, Anzu came to him as a patron deity.

How did Sethe become connected to the Void? By the time of his death, he was so filled with it that he blood created a poison that would curse people forever. This curse was the basis of the Red Mist the Horde used against the Draenei of Shattrath, creating the Krokul, or Broken, just as the Adherents had created the Arrakoa Outcasts (the existence of Krokul on Argus, independent of the Draenei who lived on Draenor, is another big question mark in that puzzle, though it could be the influence of L'ura, even so high above the surface in Mac'aree.)

On Azeroth, there are two Drakkari Loa who were both slain by the Drakkari in their desperate attempt to hold of the Scourge. Quetz'lun was slain at her shrine, and her only solace has been to torment the souls of her killers within the Shadowlands. Now, the question of Tharon'ja is sort of open: it's possible that Tharon'ja was actually a Troll, perhaps the one who siphoned the power of Quetz'lun to take on a Wind Serpent form, albeit a skeletal one. Either that, or Tharon'ja was a Loa who was somehow already undead even before the Scourge conquered Drak'tharon (with our unwitting help.)

However, the most famous of the Wind Serpent deities is Hakkar the Soulflayer. A ruling priesthood within the Gurubashi Empire attempted to summon Hakkar multiple times, first in the Temple of Atal'Hakkar, also known as the Sunken Temple. It earned that second name when the Green Dragonflight descended upon the massive temple and sunk in beneath the swamp - in fact, there's a good chance the Swamp of Sorrows is the way it is because of this destructive act to safeguard the world.

Ultimately, the Atal'ai were eventually successful, though, and summoned Hakkar to the central palace of Zul'Gurub. There, Hakkar loomed over the empire in total domination until a band of adventurers journeyed within and defeated him.

Later, when the Zandalari, spurred on by the prophet Zul, attempted to re-create their global empire, the Gurubashi, led by Jin'do the Hexxer, now called Jin'do the Godbreaker, began to channel the power of Hakkar. Jin'do pulled us into the Shadowlands, and we were only able to escape by breaking the shackles on Hakkar and setting the Blood God free. That's the last we've heard of him.

But what is Hakkar's deal? Why is he so dangerous that the Green Dragonflight had to destroy the Temple of Atal'Hakkar? And perhaps most cryptically, why does the flavor text of Soulflayer's Corruption, a Blood Death Knight legendary, specifically point out that his origins are a mystery and that he does not exist in any Titan records?

The simplest explanation for Hakkar would seem to be that he's a Wild God like the other Loa. But why such special attention, or rather, why such a mystery?

Hakkar, in addition to being called the Soulflayer, is also known as the Blood God. In the announcement for Battle for Azeroth, we learned that in the swamps of Nazmir, we're going to enter a facility called Uldir, where the Titans attempted to experiment with the Old Gods. They knew that they couldn't just tear them out of the planet after what happened with Y'shaarj, and so instead they tried to understand them and potentially change them into something that could help foster life on Azeroth rather than threaten it.

What they created instead was something that Blizzard made a special point to call a Blood God - something that was potentially more dangerous than even the Old Gods.

We know that Nazmir and even Zuldazar are being overrun by fanatical Blood Trolls, maybe devout followers of the Blood God.

But is this Blood God, which I think I read somewhere is called G'huun, the same sort of thing as Hakkar?

It could actually offer a different explanation of that line from the legendary's flavor text. Perhaps the reason there are no Titan records is not because the history has been forgotten, but because it was intentionally redacted. Maybe whatever Titanforged being was running the experiments wanted to cover up his or her actions. Maybe they wanted the record purged so that the experiments would not be repeated.

But if Hakkar was the unfortunate result of Titan experimentation, it could explain why such massive efforts went to preventing his summoning.

Still, we have a few unanswered questions:

Where were the Atal'ai summoning Hakkar from? We see him in what I assume is the Shadowlands during the Jin'do the Godbreaker fight, but that makes sense seeing as he's dead (you know, thanks to us.) Where was he when the Atal'ai tried to summon him to the Swamp of Sorrows?

Is there a connection between Hakkar and Sethe? Both are wind serpent deities whose blood is highly corruptive. They're from different worlds, but given that the Orcs associate Goldrinn with their own wolf spirit, Lo'gosh, is it possible that Hakkar and Sethe might even be the same entity in different forms?

And is Hakkar truly a "Blood God" in the "Titan+Old God" sense? Did Hakkar come out of Uldir, or somewhere else? And what connection, if any, does he have with this G'huun entity?

And why does he have the same name as a prominent Legion demon who is the final boss of the Hunter class campaign, Hakkar the Houndmaster? (Ok, that one's a silly one - I assume they named Hakkar the Soulflayer after forgetting that they already had a Hakkar in the lore. Hey, you know, one of my best friends has the same first name as I do. It happens.)

Depending on the answers to some of these questions, we might learn a lot more about Hakkar in Battle for Azeroth, and perhaps finally follow up on setting him free back in 4.1.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Shadows Die Twice in FromSoft's Teaser

FromSoft, the company behind Dark Souls, its spiritual predecessor and its spiritual sequel (interquel? Given that Dark Souls III came out after it?) Bloodborne, has a bizarre and creepy teaser for a new game.

So what the hell are we even looking at? It almost looks to me like a device meant to set a bone, this bone seems to have already been extracted from a body.

With Dark Souls III supposedly ending the franchise, many of us who loved Bloodborne have been eagerly hoping for a Bloodborne II.

This neither confirms nor rules out that possibility.

Admittedly, the blood and gore and the mechanical device would both fit well in Bloodborne's universe, but it is, of course, very little to go on.

And it's possible that "Shadows Die Twice" is not a tagline, but rather the actual name of a new IP.

Still, given that Bloodborne is one my favorite video games of all time, I'm eager to find out any information about a possible sequel.

Kobolds and Catacombs Live

First of all, you need to see this:

Ok, with that taken care of:

Kobolds and Catacombs is the new Hearthstone expansion, heavily inspired by tabletop RPGs, especially the quintessential member of the genre, Dungeons and Dragons (the name of the expansion is clearly a reference.)

While the expansion itself has plenty of fun new cards, the thing I really recommend checking out is the solo adventure that comes with it.

Unlike previous adventures, which have had set bosses that you'd have to build decks to beat, in this "dungeon run," you build a deck as you beat bosses, gaining higher max health and powerful abilities, but also encounter far tougher enemies.

It's hard to build your deck around these enemies, as you don't know what boss is around the corner. So far, I've managed to beat three bosses in a single run - but to beat the whole thing, you need to defeat 8. With new decks each time (and no, you don't need to provide your own cards, which makes this great for players with smaller collections) you're going to have to try different strategies on each attempt.

It's lots of fun and it's an entirely PVE-based, so even though it's very difficult, it should be a relatively low-stress way to play, and because it changes every time, it'll stay fresh.

The Shal'dorei Reckoning

Before we begin, let's take a look at this little fun fact: Elves on Azeroth have an interesting naming convention, which is to have a prefix followed by the suffix "dorei," meaning "child of," which is how they name the different races of elves. Kaldorei, the Elvish (technically Darnassian, which I think we can assume is a dialect of some greater elvish language or language group) word for Night Elves, literally means "Children of the Stars." Quel'dorei is the term for High Elves, and literally translates to "Children of the High" (I believe.) Sin'dorei means "Children of Blood." The upcoming Void Elves are called Ren'dorei, which I'd assume means "Children of the Void" (with Ren perhaps being related to the English word rend, like a rend in the fabric of space.)

Shal'dorei is the term for the Nightborne, introduced in Legion. It's not immediately obvious what the prefix Shal means. One potential definition could be "night," which would make the Nightborne the "Children of the Night," which sounds about right. The irony here, of course, is that Night Elves really ought to be called Star Elves, and we could then just call the Nightborne Night Elves, which they sort of are (then again, all elves are sort of Night Elves. And all Night Elves are sort of trolls.)

We actually see the "Shal" prefix in a lot of places. Shal'aran is the hidden facility that Thalyssra and her Nightfallen rebellion use as a headquarters. Shaladrassil is the world tree that served as a prison for the Satyrs after the War of the Satyr (the first major conflict to follow the War of the Ancients) and thus became the focal point for the Emerald Nightmare (which actually could explain how N'zoth usurped the Nightmare from Yogg-Saron, who had started it in Grizzly Hills.)

But let's talk about the Nightborne.

The Nightborne will be joining the Horde in Battle for Azeroth - a move has raised quite a few Alliance eyebrows, given the efforts that individual Alliance heroes put in to freeing the Nightborne. Indeed, two of the major Broken Isles factions are going Horde, and unlike the Highmountain Tauren, who seemed inevitably likely to join their Mulgore-based brethren, the Nightborne seemed really appropriate to either side. From a meta-perspective, I think that they wanted to find a way to give the Alliance some form of High Elf (and while I think they're cool, I don't know if all the people waiting a decade for High Elves were really looking for something like the Void Elves) and so it made sense to give the Horde an equivalent to an Alliance race.

But there is some logic to it. The Nightborne were largely Highborne at the time of the War of the Ancients, when the mages there sealed the city away to escape the Burning Legion. Like the High Elves of Quel'thalas, the Nightborne of Suramar grew dependent on magic - though while the High Elves' connection to arcane magic was more of a choice and even status symbol, in the case of the Nightborne, it was pure survival. The city was sealed away with no farmland or wilds to hunt. Other than the vineyards and perhaps the city canals, they would literally starve to death if they could not sustain themselves through magic.

Perhaps because Elves in general exist only because of the Arcane power of the Well of Eternity, they are highly susceptible to magic addiction (makes me wonder if something similar would happen if Tauren learned to be mages, as they have a similar origin.) And those who were cut off from the Arcwine in the city, perhaps through exile (I don't really know the timeline - whether they could push people out of the city without allowing anyone to get in or if all that exiling happened after Elisande sold out of Gul'dan,) would lead to a painful devolution first into Nightfallen and then Withered.

When the Scourge defiled the Sunwell, the High Elves suffered as well. The withdrawal from magic addiction after their source of arcane power was cut off led many High Elves to suffer a nearly identical fate, eventually devolving into the mindless Wretched. However, it was Illidan Stormrage who presented a solution - teaching the newly-named Blood Elves how to siphon Fel energy from the Twisting Nether to replace the arcane power of the Sunwell (this is what turned their eyes from blue to green.) It's not totally clear why High Elves like Vereesa Windrunner never went Wretched, but it could be that as her followers were largely rangers, they might have spent less time over their lives as permeated by Arcane magic, and thus might not have had the same level of addiction.

The Blood Elves and the Nightborne have a ton of common experiences, and so it actually makes plenty of sense that the former would recruit the latter for the Horde.

But there are issues to address:

First off, while many joined up in rebellion against Elisande and the Legion (even Elisande seemed contrite after we killed her, through some kind of post-mortem memory-echo,) one has to imagine that a ton of surviving Nightborne were totally on team Green, and they will need to answer for those crimes.

Likewise, with the conflict between Alliance and Horde building up to a fever pitch, the Nightborne are going to have to have some serious break with the Alliance. Even if they didn't have the same connection to the Kaldorei that they did with the Sin'dorei, the Alliance also put a ton of effort into helping Suramar free itself, and turning around and declaring war on them is a pretty nasty act of betrayal.

I wonder how this will be handled. Now, it is true that some Alliance and Horde races have gotten along fairly well individually - the Tauren and Night Elves have historically been rather friendly with one another, at least until they joined opposite factions. It's possible that the Nightborne will support the Horde, but not directly attack the Alliance except as part of larger Horde operations. It's also possible we'll see some event to set off greater animosity - perhaps some ill-advised aggressive move on the part of the Alliance.

In the end, we're going to wind up with way more playable elf races in WoW, which tend to be popular (but give me that updated Worgen model as soon as you can, Blizz.)

Monday, December 4, 2017

After the Fall of Sargeras, Who Threatens Us?

While we never get to fight him directly (something that I'll confess I'm a little frustrated about,) the end of the Antorus raid sees Sargeras defeated. Forced into his giant (as in, the size of a planet) humanoid form rather than the cloud of fel darkness encroaching on our world and drawn into the Seat of the Pantheon in a far smaller form, imprisoned by the other Titans with aid from Illidan (for, like, all eternity or at least until Blizzard decides they need him back as a villain,) Sargeras is no longer there to lead the Burning Legion, and with the engine of Antorus destroyed with the death of the Titan Argus (though how permanent that death is remains to be see - the other Titans were killed by Sargeras after all but seem relatively ok after the raid,) the Legion cannot regenerate at the same rate it used to (again, wish we'd get a less ambiguous explanation for what, exactly, Antorus did for them, as demons naturally resurrect in the Twisting Nether.)

So the Burning Legion, the most deadly force the Warcraft cosmos had ever seen, is scattered to the winds.

If the defeat of the Legion in the War of the Ancients put Azeroth's heroes on the map, this victory puts us at the center of it.

If the mighty Legion can fall before us, who could dare oppose us?

First, to step outside of the narrative for a second: Ultimately, nothing can stand against us because this is a game, and any instance of our failing to defeat the big bads (if they are indeed fightable as a boss) is rendered non-canon as soon as we take them down. There are games, of course, that end in defeat, but even in those, one usually triumphs against some big fundamental monster. Anything in WoW that can we set our murderous sights on is ultimately going to be defeated.

But to step back into the narrative:

What we're basically creating here is a list of villains. There is a lot of what I'd call "umbrella-ing," where some powerful foes fit within the context of a larger foe. However, if something feels different enough to be an independent expression, I'll list both. That includes two of the biggest, which I'll get too early in the list.

This list is also something that will continue, and must continue, to grow. Given that Warcraft as a setting is less a singular epic like Lord of the Rings and more of a diverse universe meant to be a setting for many stories, like the Marvel Universe, new threats and new heroes will always have a chance to rise up, and old enemies or even old allies will transform into things we're going to have to fight.

So, without further ado: The remaining villains of Warcraft:

Each Other:

While this would normally be the last entry on such a list, the "huh, makes you think" entry, given the nature of the upcoming Battle for Azeroth expansion, this threat is actually going to be center stage. It's all well and good that your Horde character has become nearly god-like in his or her power, but the Alliance has been keeping pace with you, meaning that a rivalry between mere mortals has ascended to mythic levels. Yes, you beat the Legion, but so did your counterpart on the other side.

This is also the villain that, for gameplay purposes, as well as meta-narrative purposes, can never truly be defeated or subdued. Blizzard could probably never tell half their players that they are the losers in this central conflict, which makes me very, very curious to see how Battle for Azeroth's plot resolves.

The Old Gods:

We know of four Old Gods to have infested Azeroth. There are probably many others out there in the cosmos, but they are not likely to be a direct threat to us, as the Old Gods seem to focus on whatever planet they have infected. There is a possibility that there was a fifth (or more,) but unless we get some big reveal and confirmation, right now we know of only Y'shaarj, Yogg-Saron, C'thun, and N'zoth.

Y'Shaarj is the most likely to be fully dead. Even the Sha, which cursed the land of Pandaria for eons, were considered only an echo of the Old God, and the Klaxxi, who were devout worshippers of Y'Shaarj, saw the Sha as abominations, which suggests that Y'Shaarj has truly been dead all this time. It is unlikely that it could be resurrected, as it seems the last of its essence was used to empower Garrosh Hellscream, who was still defeated.

C'thun was defeated in Ahn'Qiraj. After its death, it managed to possess Cho'gall, meaning that even in death, it was still powerful. Now the question is whether Cho'gall's death meant anything more serious for C'thun. There is one other major element here, though, which is that when Sargeras was imprisoned, he stabbed Azeroth with his massive sword directly into Silithus, meaning that the sword most likely hit C'thun's body. In my mind, this seems most likely to have done damage to the Old God, though it's also possible that doing so weakened C'thun's bindings, perhaps giving him greater freedom to escape (given Sargeras' opinion of the Old Gods, any help for C'thun was almost certainly unintentional, which makes me doubt that it did help the Old God. Sargeras may be evil, but he's no idiot.)

Yogg-Saron was defeated in Ulduar. The fact that we directly attacked its brain (which, interestingly, seemed to exist in a strange realm of memory and imagination or vision) suggest we must have done some real damage to it, but on the other hand, his servants pop up as we enter Ulduar to speak with Magni at the beginning of Legion. That means he's probably not totally out of the picture.

Finally, N'zoth remains at large. We woke him up, ending the Emerald Nightmare but in the process maybe freeing him. I'm also about 80% convinced that using the Pillars of Creation unlocked his prison in Ny'alotha. N'zoth has never been killed, so there's no reason to think anything is standing in his (its, sorry, defaulting to male pronouns) way other than his original (likely faulty and crumbling) Titanic restraints.

The Void:

The creators of the Old Gods are mysterious. We're learning more and more about the Void as a source of magical power - one that is dangerous but not necessarily malevolent (though usually it is.) The Void Lords are really the only villains who could unseat Sargeras as the Biggest Bads of the Warcraft cosmos. But it's also possible that destroying them isn't even metaphysically possible. We're far more likely to encounter agents of the Void, including the Old Gods, than actually facing against them directly.

That's also assuming we haven't already. We've encountered plenty of relatively innocuous Void entities (some bearing the actual name of Void Lord) in our travels, and Warlocks even have them as minions. What if the Void Lords individually are actually no more powerful than any given Voidwalker, but that they are collectively an incredibly powerful force that could threaten even the Titans? In the void, what do power and even the individuality versus collective identity even mean?

The Scourge:

The end of Wrath very pointedly had us crowning a new Lich King. The Scourge is absolutely still around, but we ended its war against us and installed someone who would not act as a conqueror, but rather a "jailor of the damned." But Bolvar has been acting in disturbing ways lately, given the Death Knight quests in Legion. Even if his intentions are ultimately benevolent (in a greater good sort of way because those red dragons sure did not deserve what happened to them,) it's also possible that he does not have full control over the Scourge. There's no reason to believe that Kel'thuzad has not resurrected somewhere, as we never found his phylactery the second time we raided Naxxramas, and he could easily take command of legions of undead. There are also some splinter factions within the Scourge that might be small for now, but could wind up growing uncontrollably, you know, like a plague. The Cult of the Damned still exists.

Something From the Shadowlands:

I'm still holding on to my theory that the Lich King is not demonic in origin, but rather is a powerful entity of the Shadowlands that Kil'jaeden extracted and stuffed in a suit of armor. But even if he's not, the Shadowlands are clearly host to many undead threats, from Helya (who we did kill,) to the Drust spirits, Bwonsamdi, and whatever taught Odyn how to turn Helya into the first Val'kyr (if that's not my theoretical Lich King spirit.)

The Infinite Dragonflight:

Yes, we've killed its leader, but first of all, that was in a timeline that no longer happens and second of all, killing a time-traveling villain means next to nothing if you can't account for every moment it spent (according to its own personal timeline) between becoming that villain and dying. From Murozond's perspective, he might have spent twenty-five thousand years messing up the timeline between transforming from Nozdormu and when we caught up to him. Hell, if he can "fix" his death to that moment, maybe he's unkillable until that moment (I think it would be awesome to have a raid fight against him where we can't kill him - we can only try to prevent him from interfering with our killing him back at level 85.) Also, does the infinite dragonflight die with him? We know they certainly haven't been erased from the timeline, and they even aided in Garrosh's escape (which notably led to our contact with another timeline plus a demonic invasion that will probably have helped free the Old Gods, who serve the Void Lords, who exist in a state where there is no single true past or future...)


We're probably going to get a good long break from demons after Legion, but just because its leadership is dissolved doesn't mean that demons as a thing no longer exist. And they're not known for being polite and helpful.

The Elements:

Much as the Alliance and Horde have historically set aside their differences to face larger threats, the only time you tend to see the Elemental Lords working with each other is to counter some external danger. The Shaman class campaign was all about navigating the politics of the Elemental Plains. But without the Legion threatening doom to everyone, and with Azeroth's soul in torment as she suffers from Sargeras' attack, I don't think that this cooperative peace is going to last very long.

Something We Thought Was Good:

X'era's vision for the universe is actually pretty terrifying. As a being of pure light, she pursued purity. And perfect purity means no life, because there would be no disparity. The Light is generally seen as benevolent, but if the ultimate goal is to make everything uniformly filled with light, that existence loses meaning just as much as the total annihilation of all things apparently sought by the Void. Now, I'd guess that not all Naaru are like this - many seem to have a nuanced enough view that they're happy to foster life and peace and just generally want people to be safe and happy. But an obsession with purity on the part of powerful beings of Light could prove a very dangerous threat indeed.

Similarly, the Titans and their creations are agents of Order. And while Order can generally mean safety and stability (which seems to be primarily what they sought to establish on Azeroth) it can also veer into tyranny and totalitarianism, as we saw with the Mogu, who were one of the Titanforged races. Odyn has been an ally in our fight against the Legion, but even if Helya's response to his behavior made her a villain, his actions toward her - imperiously forcing her into undeath to serve as his first Val'kyr, to then grant fallen Vrykul a form of undeath in eternal service to him - was pretty awful, and I can't say I blame Helya for being pissed at him.

Even Life in abundance can be villainous. The Botani and their ilk - the spawn of Draenor's massive Sporemounds - were so feral and all-consuming that they threatened to choke the planet like a cancer. And the ferocity of wild beasts, while revered by druids, is not always directed at the monstrous threats to our world. The Worgen struggle with the power of Goldrinn that has infected them like a disease, and the ferocious power of beasts can threaten to topple the safety and order of civilization, as it nearly did in Gilneas.