World of Warcraft Exposed: The Lore of the Horde
['World of Warcraft Exposed' is a weekly column by Michael Zenke about the culture and experience of the globe's biggest online game phenomenon, the ten million subscriber-strong World of Warcraft. This week's final column (more about this in the outro!) looks at the stories behind five of the game's character races.]
World of Warcraft's lore is an organic thing. It changes and twists with every new patch, book, or card game expansion Blizzard releases. The stories behind each of the player races, though, have remained largely static.
Each of the lengthy tales detailing how the races came to be sets up a theme that players can experience as they play through the game.
Today, following up on the guide to the lore of the Alliance, we'll explore those themes for the races that make up the might Horde: the Blood Elves, the Undead Forsaken, the Tauren, the Orcs, and the Trolls.
The Blood Elves
At one point, not too very long ago, the Blood Elves fit one of the standard fantasy tropes: porcilein-skinned, pointy eared mages, wise because of their years and dedicated to goodness and Light. Then came the Scourge, an army of undead monsters lead by the Death Knight Arthas. They burned, slaughtered, and defiled the ancient homeland of the High Elves.
That act had many consequences. It shattered the resolve of one of the Human Alliances staunchest allies. The destruction of the ancient Sunwell artifact left a people without purpose, and a deep hunger in their soul. And it left Sylvana Windrunner, a hero to her people, trapped in a mockery of unlife.
One powerful mage refused to allow his people to be destroyed. Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider sought out powerful allies to shore up his people, a group he dubbed the "Blood Elves" because of their violent past. With something like 90% of his races slaughtered, Sunstrider wasn't very picky in choosing allies. Ilidan Stormrage, the demon-tainted Night Elf that rules the Outlands, ended up offering Kael exactly what he wanted. As a result, an army of Blood Elves aids Ilidan in his rule of that hellish dimension.
The Blood Elves that find themselves adventuring through Azeroth are a different group. Realizing that Kael'thas has gone astray, the elves of Silvermoon have pledged themselves to the light and to their new allies in the Horde. Low-level Blood Elves work to fight the undead still on their doorstep, and many have hopes of laying low Kael'thas himself, a figure they see as contrary to their racial destiny.