6. Elves created the world by blowing it up
Azeroth wasn’t always Azeroth. Before the cataclysm, the entire world was all in one immensely colossal supercontinent. A fantasy Pangea, if you will.
As is customarily the case with world-breaking catastrophes, magic was to inculpate. More concretely, a magic lake full of ludicrously magic water. Named as the Well of Eternity, this lake was a font of seemingly-unlimited arcane power — and who better to control it than a bunch of elves?
These nocturnal elves (designated “night elves” for reasons obscure) utilized the might of the Well to expeditiously establish an imperium. None could challenge them while they controlled the waters that fueled their magic.
The elves eventually had a schism over how to utilize this incredible potency. One group wanted to keep its use to minimum and instead fixate on communing with nature. The other group wanted to turn the Well of Eternity into a massive portal, summon Sargeras (Warcraft’s version of Satan), and establish the terminus of the world. Needless to say, this was not one of those situations with a compromise that would gratify both parties.
This commenced the War of the Ancients, designated for some of its star contenders. The Ancients were fundamentally demi-gods of nature, and it took every last scrap of potency they and the night elves had to push back an illimitable tide of demons. They eventually prospered, but the only way to stop the Warcraft’s version of “El Diablo” (no, not that one) from coming into the world was to eradicate the Well of Eternity.
As it turned out, ravaging a font of seemingly-unlimited arcane power has some minor side effects. Namely, it resulted in an explosion that shook the world to its core, splitting Kalimdor into a number of pieces that spread across the oceans. In the place it once stood, there was instead a colossal, never-ending vortex of water called “the Maelstrom”.
5. Blood Elves used to be Trolls
A lot of people in World of Warcraft play as blood elves. About 1/3 of all Horde characters, as it turns out. And why not? They’re nice to look at, especially compared to their toothy, comrades. Yet, these green-eyed glamour kings and queens came from much more “humble” beginnings. In fact, they’re closely related to their allies, the trolls.
It’s difficult to imagine the two having much in common besides exceptionally long ears. Trolls are hunched, tusked people with bumpy skin and are only just now getting over a nasty habit of cannibalism. The luxurious and beautiful blood elves are the polar opposite, with eyes that literally glow with magic and poop that always smells vaguely of lavender. To see how these two wildly varied factions are related, we need to take a couple steps back.
Thousands and thousands of years ago, like even before the Super Nintendo, trolls ruled the world. They’d beaten just about everything that they’d come into contact with, and were pretty high on their laurels after conquering most of the planet — who wouldn’t be? Eventually, a tribe of nocturnal “dark trolls” came upon the Well of Eternity. Over time, it transformed them into the night elves. Somewhere in there, everyone decided to start wearing iron-forged bathing suits.
The night elves, after enjoying the rise of a society based around a magical lake, split into two groups. One group began practising druidism while the other continued drinking the proverbial Blue Berry Blast-flavored Kool-Aid, courtesy of the Well of Eternity. After the near-world-ending shenanigans that followed, the troublemakers ended up exiled across the sea. There, the splinter group used some of the Well of Eternity water and made their own, much smaller version, dubbing it the Sunwell.
This group of night elves ditched their nocturnal habits, and somehow exposure to the Sunwell transformed them yet again into the decidedly less purple “high elves”. They sat around being decadent for a few millenia, which they totally recommend, but it all went sour when endless droves of zombies and horrible undead abominations marched through their lands and befouled the Sunwell. Cut off from their source of magic, the high elves went into withdrawals and eventually gave into taking power from demons, turning their eyes from blue to green. To honor their dead (and possibly to sound extra cool), they renamed themselves blood elves. And then there was dancing.
To recap: Trolls hung out by a magic lake and became night elves; some of the night elves took some water for their own kiddie pool; theundead Scourge showed up, killed most of them, pissed in their kiddie pool, and the survivors became blood elves.
The Warcraft family tree is already more complicated than Game of Thrones, but it doesn’t stop here.
4. Pretty much everything is Elves
Most every native race of Azeroth that isn’t a walking cow or a kung-fu panda was the result of the night elves screwing something up and undergoing a dramatic transformation. Sometimes by their own choice — other times, not so much.
For starters, there’s satyrs. In traditional Grecian myth, satyrs are mischievous and incredibly romantic. The satyrs of Warcraft, however, are night elves who consorted with demons during the War of the Ancients and ended up being made part-demon, themselves. They’re wicked, cruel, and didn’t even say sorry when they erased their brother’s Final Fantasy save file. Hell, these satyrs are only “romantic” in the sense that they’d love to sacrifice you to summon more demons.
Then there are the naga. Why are these aquatic serpent-creatures infesting all the elven ruins in the game? It is, naturally, because they used to be elves. They were the ones that were near the Well of Eternity when the Maelstrom formed. The giant whirlpool sucked them to the bottom of the ocean, where they proceeded to uh, not drown and instead change their genetic structure. Magic: The cause and solution to all of life’s problems.
The worgen (Warcraft’s tailless werewolves), while technically not a race so much as a curse that turns you into a monstrous killing machine, were also made by the night elves. After the aforementioned world-beginning explosion, the night elves ended up warring with the satyrs, who were still pretty sure they could win the war they’d already lost. The night elven druids, known for being able to shapeshift into animal forms, tried to come up with a new trick to help fight the satyrs — wolf form. It worked really well, until the part where the new wolves started slaughtering everyone. In an attempt to “water it down,” they used an artifact to make the barbaric wolves into a half-human hybrid. But that just made it into a transmittable, disease-like curse. Way to go, druids.
Though unconfirmed, evidence points to harpies being ex-elves as well. There’s an Ancient of the Sky that gifted her most devoted followers with flight before she left reality, because Ancients can do that, apparently. These winged elves were presumably the first harpies, and proceeded to get super upset about being abandoned. After brooding about it for a few hundred years, they eventually took to savaging people with their razor-sharp talons while annoying everyone in earshot with their screechy voices.
The only reason humans, dwarves, and gnomes aren’t somehow related to elves are because they came from robots built by metallic space-faring gods, but that’s a whole other can of worms.
3. Warcraft’s Merlin was possessed by Warcraft’s Satan
And then there were orcs.
Okay, there’s a little more to it than that.
The wizard in question, named Medivh, was the “Guardian of Tirisfal”, who’s kind of like if Blade and Van Helsing had a Warcraft baby. Medivh was given much of his phenomenal magical power by his mother, a previous Guardian named Aegwynn. It was Medivh’s duty to hunt down demons and keep them from entering the world of Azeroth, but he went and got himself possessed by Sargeras, the Lord of the Burning Legion. If there were a final boss to the entire Warcraft franchise, it’d be him. Medivh, you had one job.
When Medivh’s mother was the Guardian, she tangled with an avatar of Sargeras. Much smaller, much weaker, but still very nasty. While the battle was monumental and probably involved lots of fancy pyrotechnics and CGI, the avatar ultimately let her win. See, his plan was far more insidious than stomping around across cities like a fiery Godzilla. When his body was defeated, his soul fled and hid inside Aegwynn — and later, her unborn son.
As a being of supreme evil and also a big fan of Ghostbusters 2, Sargeras was not above possessing babies. However, babies are not very capable of ending the world even on the best of days, so Sargeras waited to enact his plan. Decades later, after Medivh was granted his power by Aegwynn and he had established himself as the most powerful wizard alive, Sargeras awoke and began to take control.
Little by little, he drove Medivh mad, forcing the wizard to fight for control of his own mind. It was during this madness that Medivh created the Dark Portal, the gateway that would bring the bloodthirsty Orcish Horde to Azeroth. Let’s face it — anything called “the Dark Portal” isn’t going to have anything nice on the other side.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to face him down in World of Warcraft. Medivh was killed back in Warcraft 1, forcing Sargeras’ soul to flee. However, that means there’s an especially angry Sargeras somewhere in the universe looking to get revenge on the planet that ruined his plans twice. So don’t be surprised if the next expansion is called “Return of Sargeras: Satan Is Really Pissed Off You Guys.”
2. The zone of Uldum is a doomsday weapon
No, there isn’t a doomsday weapon hidden in it. The whole thing is the weapon.
When people remember Uldum, they usually recall Harrison Ford Harrison Jones and the zone’s many Raiders of the Lost Ark references, including the Nazis goblins with inexplicable German accents. All of those Indiana Jones jokes do a lot to hide the fact that the entirety of the zone is built on top of a massive doomsday device.
Now, why is there a world-ending machine buried under the desert? Like a lot of things in the Warcraft universe, the Titans did it. If you’re unfamiliar with Titans, they’re essentially gods who go around fixing planets according to their whim. Unfortunately, Azeroth is a bit of a problem child when it comes to this sort of thing, thanks to the Old Gods trying to infect the planet with evil like big, tentacled tumors.
The solution? If the Old Gods get too uppity, wipe the slate clean by destroying the world. Needless to say, this becomes an issue because the players and all the other races of Azeroth are not a part of this clean slate. As it happens, most people enjoy not being apocalypsed.
“How can you start fresh if the world’s destroyed?” you might ask. The Titans thought of that, and that’s why the dungeon in that zone is called “the Halls of Origination”, not “the Halls of Blow Everything To Bits”. After annihilating everything and jamming all the continents back together, the complex would reintroduce life to all of Azeroth. A similar plan on Earth would involve killing all humans, reconstituting Pangea and bringing back the dinosaurs. Which doesn’t sound so bad, when you put it like that.
“But how would the weapon do that?” you ask aloud, unaware that the article you’re reading cannot respond. The Titans created a blueprint based on what they determined to be the primordial, natural life of Azeroth, more or less a USB stick containing a save state from before any sentient races arose and started mucking up the planet. That blueprint was the Emerald Dream, the realm of natural magic that all druids draw their power from.
Thankfully, the whole thing was shut down by the players (after accidentally starting it up). Good thing the Titans never needed to activate it, right? After all, mortals seem to have a pretty good handle on this Old God nuisance. We killed C’thun in World of Warcraft and we killed Yogg-Saron in Wrath of the Lich King. Except we didn’t.
1. The Old Gods we’ve killed aren’t dead
Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? This isn’t a case of them just coming back from the dead like so many comic book heroes and villains — it’s that we didn’t actually kill them to begin with.
The Old Gods, as mentioned before, are basically big, evil planet-tumors, corrupting anything they can get their tentacles on. They’re heavily inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s Elder Gods; unfathomable evils that can drive mortals completely and utterly insane just from a glimpse of their true forms. Imagine seeing your grandma out of the shower, only it’s Cthulhu and you’re not sure where her saggy genitals end and the mass of demon tentacles begins.
As mortals are, we can’t kill them. According to in-game encounters with servants of these Old Gods: “They do not live, they do not die. They exist outside the cycle.” We haven’t been able to kill them because death just isn’t a thing they do. It’d be like saying, “Today, I slew the color purple. Purple is no more. We offer our apologies to Barney and Grimace.”
Only one Old God has ever been destroyed, and even that is iffy at best. It was Y’shaarj (gesundheit), who was killed by the Titans in Pandaria. Even the Titans, essentially gods, couldn’t manage to kill one of the Old Gods permanently, and instead had to lock up his still-beating heart. Even without a body, Y’shaarj managed to corrupt Pandaria and coerce the current leader of the Horde to go rampaging across the continent. He was a bit of a dick to start with, but Old God corruption didn’t help.
The heroes of Warcraft have faced down countless evils — the Lich King and endless armies of the undead, a world-shattering dragon and doomsday cultists — but none of them compare to the unspeakable, unknowable evil of the Old Gods. Except, perhaps, the dire threat of being disconnected in the middle of a boss fight.