Races and factions of Warcraft
The fantasy setting of the Warcraft series includes many fictional races and factions. Most of the primary protagonists of the series belong to either the Horde or the Alliance, however there are a variety of neutral races and factions, who are either friendly or hostile to both the Horde and the Alliance. All player characters belong to either the Horde or the Alliance, with a character's faction decided by its race. One exception is the pandaren, who can choose to become members of either faction.
By the time of Warcraft III the Horde and the Alliance both fight against the Burning Legion and the Undead Scourge, who are the primary villains of Warcraft III and World of Warcraft. By the time of World of Warcraft, the Alliance and the Horde are not engaged in all out war any longer, however they still are hostile towards each other and skirmishes between the two sides occasionally erupt. With Garrosh Hellscream appointed as the new Warchief of the Horde in Cataclysm, war has once more erupted between the two factions. This war plays a large role in the storyline of that expansion, and continues to do so in Mists of Pandaria.
- 1 Alliance
- 2 Horde
- 3 Other races and factions
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The Alliance has been present in some form in all Warcraft games. In all three real-time strategy games, the Alliance are the protagonists of their campaign, and are one of the two main protagonist factions in World of Warcraft. They are also the primary antagonists of Warcraft and Warcraft II's orc campaigns. They are enemies to the Horde. The major races of the Alliance are the humans, gnomes, dwarves, night elves, draenei, worgen and the Tushui pandaren.
Throughout the Warcraft games, the human are modelled on medieval Europe. In Warcraft and Warcraft II they were also depicted as the protagonists of the human campaigns and the antagonists of the orc campaigns; the humans fought for the side of Heaven against the Hellish orcs, though this theme was abandoned in the third game.
The humans descended from an ancient nomadic tribe known as the Arathi, who conquered and united the other warring human tribes and founded the empire of Arathor and the great city of Strom, later known as Stromgarde. The Arathi formed an alliance with the high elves of the far north after they aided them in a war against the Amani Empire of Trolls. In World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King it is implied that the Arathi themselves are the descendants of mutated Vrykul. By the time of the first Warcraft, seven kingdoms had arisen from the former lands of Arathor. The primary human faction in the first two games is the Kingdom of Azeroth (later renamed the Kingdom of Stormwind in World of Warcraft). The remaining kingdoms were introduced in Warcraft II, all centered in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms: Lordaeron (founder of the Alliance), Gilneas, Stromgarde (the former Arathi capital), Dalaran (home to the Arathi wizards, who became the Kirin Tor), Kul Tiras, and Alterac.
In World of Warcraft, humans can be played as the following classes: Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Warlock, Warrior, Death Knight, and Monk. The humans of Stormwind are led by Varian Wrynn, who also functions as the High King of the Alliance as a whole.
The dwarves are a short, strong race. The playable clans of dwarves, the Bronzebeard, Dark Iron, and Wildhammer dwarves, reside in the Eastern Kingdoms, in the kingdom of Khaz Modan. Their skin colour can be from a dark gray to a human tan. Originally a race of miners, due to a recent discovery that uncovered fragments of their ancient origin, they have changed their focus to archaeology.
Dwarves were introduced as a supporting Alliance race in Warcraft II, and are a playable race in World of Warcraft.
The dwarves make an appearance in the World of Warcraft patch Secrets of Ulduar, in which their origin is further expanded upon. The third Bronzebeard brother, Brann Bronzebeard, leads the expedition there to learn the dwarves' history. He tells the story of what relevance Ulduar has to the origin of many of Azeroth's native races.
Two other dwarven clans exist on Azeroth. The Wildhammer dwarves of Aerie Peak, though not playable in World of Warcraft, are friendly to Alliance characters, and they maintain the Alliance-aligned Wildhammer Stronghold in Outland and Aerie Peak in the Hinterlands. They are largely similar in appearance to their Ironforge cousins, though their focus is on gryphon riding, rather than the grounded pursuits of the Bronzebeard dwarves. The Dark Iron dwarves are a malevolent clan, hostile to both the Alliance and the Horde. These dark grey-skinned dwarves reside primarily in Blackrock Mountain and serve Ragnaros, an Elemental Lord of fire. In recent years, however, some Dark Iron dwarves, under leadership of Moira Thaurissan, have re-allied themselves with the other dwarves and thus the Alliance.
In World of Warcraft, dwarves can be played as the following classes: Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warrior, Warlock, Death Knight, and Monk. The dwarves are currently led by the Council of Three Hammers, an assembly representing each of the three main dwarven clans: Muradin Bronzebeard representing the Bronzebeards, Falstad Wildhammer representing the Wildhammers and Moira Thaurissan representing the Dark Irons.
Draenei are the last of the original eredar, who fled their homeworld of Argus to escape the corruption of the Dark Titan Sargeras. The exiled eredar took the name draenei, meaning "exiled ones", and traveled through the Twisting Nether aboard the Naaru dimensional ship, Oshu'Gun, and landed on a remote world, naming the planet Draenor or "Exile's Refuge". The Burning Legion pursued the draenei to Draenor, having turned the orcs against the draenei, resulting in the destruction of much of the draenei race. Much of these events may be explained in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, which is supposed to be during this time. After a great cataclysm saw to the destruction of Draenor, the draenei used a satellite ship of Tempest Keep, the Exodar, to abandon the world, eventually arriving on Azeroth and crashing to the west of the coastal region of Darkshore on an island named Azuremyst Isle. They joined the Alliance, greatly respecting the Alliance's devout reverence for the Holy Light.
Draenei have skin ranging from purple to pale blue, and both genders are relatively tall compared to humans, have cloven, goat-like hooves, tails that resemble those of a lizard, and dark hair. Males often have tentacle-like appendages extending from their chin, and occasionally large, complex structures on their forehead, while females have two horns on their temples extending backwards and thinner versions of the male's appendages hanging from behind the back of the jaw.
The draenei were first mentioned in the Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual, and made their first official in-game appearance in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. In World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, draenei were established to be uncorrupted eredar, and the Warcraft III version of draenei were established to be a mutated variety of draenei called the "Lost Ones", which mutated hideously from the original species upon exposure to demon magic. The "Lost Ones" are short, with blue skin, pure white eyes, variously colored, very short hair, and huge, open mouths, resembling zombies, and can only speak in a whisper. A variety intermediate to the draenei proper and the Lost Ones also exists. The "Broken", as they are called, have been twisted to a lesser extent by the same demonic forces that corrupted the Lost Ones. Their appearance lies somewhere between that of the normal draenei and the Lost Ones. They maintain a greater presence of mind than the Lost Ones, making them able to maintain peaceable relations with members of other factions.
Draenei are hard-pressed to defend the crash site of the Exodar in World of Warcraft. Surrounding it are creatures such as Volatile Mutations, which have been altered by the energies emitted by detached, ruptured pieces of the Exodar. blood elves also prey upon the draenei in the vicinity.
In World of Warcraft, draenei can be played as the following classes: Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Death Knight, and Monk. The draenei have been led by the Prophet Velen since they first fled Argus millennia ago.
Gnomes are a short, intelligent, and inquisitive race with aptitudes in both the arcane and mechanical crafts. The gnomes' previous home was called Gnomeregan. Gnomeregan, a city with amazing and advanced technology, was rendered uninhabitable due to the release of radioactive waste by Mekgineer Mekkatorque at the suggestion of his advisor Thermaplugg to combat the troggs. Because of the release, many gnomes were subjected to high doses of radiation and became 'leper gnomes'. These crazed, delusional, and violent Gnomes attack any non-leper gnome, and non-trogg outsiders.
Gnomes have a notorious rivalry with the goblins, another mechanically minded race.
Gnomes were first introduced in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness as a supporting Alliance race. Prior to World of Warcraft the Gnomes were driven out of their home city by a primitive race known as troggs. Refugees were taken in by the dwarven capital of Ironforge, which the two playable races share in World of Warcraft. It was announced that prior to the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the gnomes would reclaim their city of Gnomeregan, because the political turmoil in Ironforge made them feel unwelcome. However, only the surface has been reclaimed.
In World of Warcraft, gnomes can be played as the following classes: Mage, Rogue, Priest, Warrior, Warlock, Death Knight, and Monk. They are led by High Tinker Mekkatorque.
Night elves (or kaldorei, meaning "children of the stars" in their native tongue) are one of the oldest humanoid races native to Azeroth. Ten thousand years ago, a schism occurred between the ruling Highborne mages and the rest of the population. The Highborne, led by the malevolent Lord Xavius, tampered with the energies of the arcane, attracting the attention of the Dark Titan, Sargeras, who sent his demonic armies to Kalimdor to try to wipe out all life on Azeroth. Thanks to the help of the Dragon Aspects which were chosen by the Titans to defend and protect the world from any threat, the night elf forces succeeded in preventing the Highborne from allowing the Burning Legion to permanently enter Azeroth, though the planet's continent was shattered in the process. The schism not only destroyed the magical Well of Eternity from which the elves drew their power, but also most of the rest of the continent, resulting in a vast ocean separating the continents of Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms and Northrend, and the Maelstrom in the center of the planet.
The remaining night elves in Kalimdor guarded a massive World Tree, Nordrassil, which was planted over a second Well of Eternity created by the exiled night elf traitor Illidan Stormrage. Blessed by the Dragon Aspect Ysera, the tree granted the night elves immortality. For the following ten thousand years, the survivors lived peacefully, until the second invasion of the Burning Legion. The races of Azeroth, both Horde and Alliance, together fought the Legion at the peak of Mount Hyjal, until the elves managed to unleash the primal fury of Nordrassil, killing the demon lord Archimonde and defeating the Burning Legion. Since then, the night elves have lost their immortality, and have planted a new World Tree called Teldrassil to try to recover it.
Night elves are imposing in stature, males being on average 7 feet tall. Male night elves are very muscular, with broad chests and shoulders, indicative of the strength that lies within both their minds and bodies. Female night elves are lithe and curvaceous, yet still muscular and strong. The race's prominent eyebrows, long pointed ears and natural aspects imply a feral grace. Skin tones vary from purples or pinks to blues or a pale whitish-blue, their hair ranges in colour from bright white to woodland green to an electric purple, and their eyes are either silver or amber. Amber eyes were considered a sign of great destiny, however, in World of Warcraft, all males have amber eyes, while all females have silver.
Night elves were introduced for Warcraft III as one of the playable races and night elves are a playable race in World of Warcraft. Within the main timeframe of the series, the night elves are ruled by the High Priestess of Elune, Tyrande Whisperwind, as they have been for roughly 10,000 years. In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Tyrande's husband, Archdruid Malfurion Stormrage, returned from the Emerald Dream, in which he had been trapped for years. He now leads the night elves together with Tyrande.
In World of Warcraft, night elves can be played as the following classes: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Warrior, Death Knight, and Monk.
First introduced in World of Warcraft, the first worgen were derived from an ancient druidic sect known as the Druids of the Scythe who worshiped the wolf Ancient Goldrinn. The chosen shapeshift form of these druids was the wolf form, but these druids lost themselves to the form's savage nature and descended into feral behaviour. To try to control this savage form, Ralaar Fangfire created the Scythe of Elune with the help of a priestess from the temple of the moon to try control the wolf form, but instead of mastering their powers, the Druids of the Pack, as they had named themselves, transformed into Worgen. The other Druids agreed that they must be locked away, and thus put them into eternal slumber deep beneath a tree in the Blackwald in current day Gilneas.
Worgen were announced as the Alliance's new playable race for the third expansion pack, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. During the aftermath of the Second War, the human nation of Gilneas sealed itself behind the Greymane Wall to keep Gilneas out of what King Genn Greymane considered to be 'other people's problems'. This prevented the undead Scourge from overwhelming the nation during the Third War. Some years later a civil war broke out in opposition to the isolation of Gilneas. During this time the worgen curse spread through the secluded nation and transformed nearly all of its inhabitants into feral worgen. Years after the initial fall of Gilneas a partial cure is developed and administered to the worgen, allowing them to regain control. However as they begin the process of rebuilding, the Forsaken sent a major fleet to capture Gilneas and use it as a new Horde port. The Cataclysm destroyed the Horde fleet, saving the Worgen, but also shattered the Greymane Wall and destroyed much of their land. With little choice left, the Worgen formed a new pact with the Alliance.
While the Stormwind humans have an American accent, the Gilnean worgen and humans have a cockney British accent.
In World of Warcraft, worgen can be played as the following classes: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Warlock, Warrior, and Death Knight.
Those pandaren who follow the path of Tushui have chosen to join the forces of the Alliance. Contemplative, disciplined and focused on abstract ideals of justice and morality, they are led by Aysa Cloudsinger, a master follower of the path of Tushui, who believes in living a venerable life through meditation, rigorous training, and moral conviction, and is attracted to the high ideals and values that cement the Alliance together.
Further information on the pandaren can be found below.
After being exiled from Kalimdor, the high elves sailed to the east and settled in the northern part of the continent. Their peace was to be short-lived, however, as the Amani Troll tribe was not keen on having their lands settled by these newcomers. In order to defeat the trolls, the elves made a deal with the human Empire of Arathor; the elves would agree to teach magic to the humans in return for their aid. Upon victory, the high elves solidified their dominion over the forests of Quel'Thalas and founded a mighty capital, Silvermoon City.
During the Second War, the elves honored their treaty with the humans and assisted in the defeat of the Horde. Troll forces under Zul'jin, now allied with the Horde, razed large portions of their borderlands and some of their runestones were stolen to power the Horde's rituals and to create Ogre-Mages, driving them to lend their full support to the Alliance. However, the massive losses they suffered and the lack of human support convinced the high elves to reinforce their usual isolation. Most of their forces withdrew from the Alliance after the defeat of the Horde, though independent elves sought employ with the Kirin Tor and as priests and sorceresses' of the armies. However, their efforts to protect their people through isolation would be their downfall.
During the Third War, the undead Scourge cut a swathe of destruction through Quel'Thalas in their mission to capture and corrupt the powers of the Sunwell. Fully ninety percent of the kingdom's population were slaughtered during the war, most soon to be raised as banshees and ghouls. Most of the survivors followed Prince Kael'Thas Sunstrider and began calling themselves sin'dorei (which in their tongue means "children of the blood" - more commonly referred to as blood elves) in homage to their loss. Only ten percent of the survivors, some twenty-five thousand high elves, cling to their old name and beliefs and have since aligned themselves with the Alliance and Kirin Tor.
The high elves residing in the city of Dalaran have rallied together as the Silver Covenant, an Alliance faction specifically opposed to the Kirin Tor's admission of members of the Horde. They are led by the Ranger-General Vereesa Windrunner, wife of the former leader of Dalaran, Rhonin. These elves maintain an Alliance-only quarter of the city, from which members of the Horde are instantly (though non-violently) expelled with magic. High elves are not a playable race in World of Warcraft, but do feature as non-player characters.
|This article is missing information about The Horde prior to Warcraft III. (October 2010)|
In the first two Warcraft games, the Horde is made of the orcs under the command of the Burning Legion and are enemies of the human led Alliance. The orcs attempt in both games to conquer the human kingdoms. Eventually the Horde was defeated, most of its leaders killed, and the orcs reduced to slavery.
In Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, the Horde is led by the young Warchief Thrall after he led an uprising to free the orcs from the vengeful humans of Lorderon. Thrall then led the orcs across the sea to Kalimdor after having a dream with a prophet who told him to travel across the sea to find his destiny, allying with the Darkspear trolls and the tauren. By the time of the orc campaign in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, the Horde also includes a few goblins, and it was revealed that the orcs first came from Outland, the shattered remains of their original homeworld Draenor. Later on in the reign of chaos campaign orc commander Grom Hellscream and his men drink the blood of the Pit Lord Mannoroth and became corrupt themselves once more, eventually leading to Grom's death.
By the timeframe of World of Warcraft, the Forsaken, a faction of undead who rebelled against the Scourge, have also joined the Horde. The blood elves join the Horde early in the storyline of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Early in the storyline of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Thrall steps down to deal with the Cataclysm, appointing Garrosh Hellscream, son of the former traitor then redeemed hero Grom Hellscream, as Warchief, and the goblins of the Bilgewater Cartel join the Horde. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria saw the Huojin pandaren join the Horde.
Orcs serve as the main villains of the first two games, but end up becoming one of the hero factions during Warcraft III. Orcs are generally green skinned (although it can range from brown to almost black at times), muscular humanoids with large tusk-like fangs protruding from the lower jaw of their mouths. Their hair colour can range anywhere from black, dark brown, to almost white, depending on the age of the orc. Valuing personal honor and the honor of their clan above all else, they enjoy the rush and excitement of battle. Their skin was originally brown, and, before their corruption, their culture was shamanistic and channeled their aggression into hunts and contests. When the Burning Legion discovered that the draenei were hiding on Draenor, they corrupted the orcs and nearly wiped out the exiled race. The orcs were then used as the Legion's primary war-machine in an attempt to invade and destroy Azeroth, through a device known as the Dark Portal. There, they were successful in their campaign against the Kingdom of Stormwind, but were eventually driven back through the Dark Portal to Draenor/Outland by the Alliance of Lordaeron, and defeated.
Upon their defeat, the orcs that remained on Azeroth were rounded up and put into internment camps. Separation from the Burning Legion eventually caused lethargy in the orcs and their bloodlust faded after a few years. It was at this time that a young orc named Thrall managed to escape his captivity at Durnholde Keep and free many of his captured brethren with the aid of Grom Hellscream of the Warsong Clan, who up until that time was able to avoid capture. The newly reformed Horde then fled the Eastern Kingdoms. They sailed west and eventually were forced to land on an island due to a storm where they befriended the Darkspear trolls, once the storm passed they left the island with their new allies. When they reached Kalimdor, they went in search of a place they could call home, along the way they met and befriended the tauren and their chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof after they saved them from the centaurs who constantly attacked them.
The orcs were eventually led into night elf territory and fought several skirmishes against them as they attempted to set up camps. Here, the Pit Lord Mannoroth returned and tempted Grom Hellscream into drinking his blood saying that drinking the blood will return the pride and honor of the orcs, once Grom and his clan drank the blood they were back under the corruption of the Burning Legion and they became rampaging war machines, that thirst for battle and blood. Grom then led his clan on a warpath through night elf lands and slaughtered the demi-god Cenarius. However, Grom was eventually freed and atoned for his deeds by aiding Thrall in defeating Mannoroth, sacrificing himself in the process and liberating the orcs from their blood pact.
The liberated orcs set aside their differences with the night elves and humans to help defeat Archimonde at the Battle for Hyjal Summit. The orcs then set out to carve a place for themselves on Azeroth in Kalimdor. They called their new homeland Durotar, after Thrall's father, Durotan. Their capital city was named Orgrimmar, after Orgrim Doomhammer, the former Warchief.
Up until the Cataclysm, the orcs and the Horde as a whole were led by Warchief Thrall. However he has been forced to step down as Warchief in order to focus his full attention as a shaman to mend the shattered world caused by Deathwing's return. His successor, Garrosh Hellscream, has led the Horde since although in a much more violent and aggressive manner, preferring to engage in combat with the Alliance opposed to using diplomacy or peaceful negotiations as Thrall is known for.
In World of Warcraft, orcs can be played as the following classes: Hunter, Mage, Rogue, Shaman, Warrior, Warlock, Death Knight, and Monk.
The Forsaken are a rebel group of undead introduced in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Their founder and leader is Sylvanas Windrunner, a high elven general who was killed and transformed into an undead banshee by Arthas during the undead campaign in Warcraft III. During the undead campaign in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, the Lich King's power began to wane because of Illidan Stormrage and his Naga and blood elf allies attacking the Frozen Throne in Northrend, and Arthas' control over his section of the Scourge also began to wane. Sylvanas regained her sense of free will from Arthas and took charge of similarly free-willed undead, taking the name Forsaken and conquering Lordaeron.
In World of Warcraft, the Forsaken have joined the Horde, though they are said to care little about their new allies. The Forsaken control the western parts of the former human Kingdom of Lordaeron, namely the Tirisfal Glades and Silverpine Forest. Much of these lands were tainted by the mark of undeath left behind by the plague and the Scourge, so the lands themselves are haunting, dark and deathly in appearance. Their ultimate goal is establishing a place for themselves in a world that hates them, and creating a plague capable of wiping out the undead Scourge; along with anyone who stands in their way. Their new alliance with the races of the Horde is a relation of mutual benefit, since most members of the Alliance view them as evil monstrosities. In Cataclysm, more of the Scourge join them, this includes Val'kyrs, who possess the ability to raise new, ostensibly free-willed Forsaken, solving the problem of their inability to procreate.
In World of Warcraft, Forsaken can be played as the following classes: Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Warrior, Warlock, Death Knight, and Monk.
The tauren (Shu'halo in their native tongue) are one of the oldest races native to Azeroth, a proud and tenacious race with bull-like features and a culture that is very similar to a stylized Native American culture. They are for the most part, druidic, shamanistic, peaceful, and powerful beings. They resemble minotaurs, having horned bull's heads, large hooves in place of feet, three fingered hands, and a towering body structure. The largest tauren tribe, the Bloodhoof tribe, reside on the top of a cluster of tall mesas known as Thunder Bluff, in the grasslands of Mulgore. They are led by the High Chieftain Baine Bloodhoof, who replaced his father, Cairne, after his death. Introduced in Warcraft III, The tauren allied themselves with the Horde after the orcs intervened in their war with the centaur. Since then, the Tauren now reside in almost all Horde outposts and are firm members of the Horde, the Horde Expedition and other parts of the Horde. They are a playable race in World of Warcraft. In the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King, a sister race to the tauren, called the taunka, were introduced. They are similar to their tauren cousins, with the exception of their more bison-like appearance and decidedly more brutal nature due to the harsh landscape of Northrend. As of the Cataclysm expansion, tauren are able to become paladins, known as Sunwalkers.
The name 'tauren' may be a reference to the Greek 'Taurus' meaning bull, or to the related mythological creature the Minotaur, which has a similar appearance. It is also an anagram for "Nature".
In World of Warcraft, Tauren can be played as the following classes: Druid, Hunter, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Death Knight, and Monk.
The trolls of the Warcraft universe are one of the oldest races native to Azeroth. Long before the other modern races evolved they had constructed empires that controlled the majority of Azeroth and had even defeated the armies of C'thun. Their long history and scattered population has resulted in a vast and very diverse race; the four major troll ethnicities include forest, jungle, ice, and desert. They primarily worship animal spirits but voodoo and shamanism are also well-known among their race. The era of troll domination came to an end when the night elves discovered magic and used it to drive back the empires before the Sundering shattered them, resulting in a perpetual decline into darkness. Their defeat at elvish hands has spawned an intense racial hatred of all elves.
During the Second War, the forest trolls of Lordaeron allied with the Horde to help combat their ancient enemies, the high elves, who had aligned with the Alliance. This alliance dissipated when Orgrim Doomhammer failed to lend support to Zul'jin's attempts to purge Quel'Thalas. The playable trolls in World of Warcraft, the Darkspear, are jungle trolls who fled the Eastern Kingdoms to a series of jungle islands prior to Warcraft III. They joined the Horde when Thrall and his orc forces rescued the tribe from a sea witch and her murloc followers.
With the arrival of the Cataclysm, Blizzard states that the trolls would retake their old capital, The Echo Isles, therefore killing Zalazane and taking back what is rightfully theirs. Now not only have they built their island sanctuary on the Echo Isles, their Leader Vol'Jin has relocated there from his place in Thrall's Chamber in Orgrimmar after falling out with Garosh Hellscream, the then-new Warchief of the Horde. After Hellscream's defeat during the siege of Orgimmar, Vol'Jin is appointed as the new Warchief to the Horde.
In World of Warcraft, Trolls can be played as the following classes: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warrior, Warlock, Death Knight, and Monk.
The blood elves were introduced in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne after the undead Scourge destroyed the high elf capital of Silvermoon in Quel'Thalas and the source of their power, the Sunwell along with most of the high elf population. The remaining High Elves split into two factions — approximately 10% kept their original heritage, but the rest followed Prince Kael'Thas Sunstrider (who would eventually go on to betray his people, and in fact all of Azeroth) and began calling themselves sin'dorei (which in their tongue means "children of the blood" - more commonly referred to as blood elves) in homage to their loss. With the leadership of their prince, the blood elves continue to defend their homeland from the Scourge, allying with the naga in the process. Due to their alliance with the naga, Lord Garithos, commander of the Alliance forces in Lordaeron and Kael'thas' superior officer, charged Kael'thas and his troops with treason and imprisoned them in Dalaran. Kael'thas and his lieutenants are rescued by Lady Vashj and her naga from their imprisonment in the underground jails of Dalaran (which contain anti-magic enchantments, once used for the Kirin Tor's pets), and then using a re-opened portal to flee to Outland.
In World of Warcraft, the blood elves who remained in Eversong Woods have renounced their allegiance to Kael'thas and are now led by Regent Lord Lor'themar Theron. The Alliance distrusts the blood elves and their lust for a source of magic, so their race has aligned with the Horde for the mutual benefit of reaching Outland. Also, Sylvanas Windrunner, as the former Ranger General of Quel'Thalas, played a significant role in the admittance of the blood elves into the Horde. The capital city of the blood elves is the partially ruined Silvermoon City. Blood elves have a usually peachy skin tone and green glowing eyes. As of the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion, they can be played as warriors. They all have a gift for magic and they have the ability to draw mana from their surroundings and silence surrounding enemies for 2 seconds. The blood elves can be divided into three distinct political factions: the Thalassian elves allied with the Horde (these are the player characters), the Illidari elves in Outland loyal to Kael'Thas, and the Scryers, a group of Kael's elves who rebelled and fled to Shattrath City to seek refuge with the naaru; they are led by Voren'thal the Seer.
In World of Warcraft, blood elves can be played as the following classes: Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Warlock, Warrior, Death Knight, and Monk.
Introduced in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, Goblins are diminutive, green-skinned humanoids native to Azeroth. Early in their history, goblins were an unintelligent race used as slave labor by a tribe of trolls on their home island of Kezan. Constant exposure to a rare ore, called Kajamite, caused them to develop into a hyper-intelligent race that soon overthrew their masters and created a new civilization. However the supplies of the ore were eventually exhausted and, facing a slow loss of their intelligence, the goblins took to trade and exploration in search of new deposits. During the Second War they aligned with the Horde, providing the technical services the dwarves and gnomes offered the Alliance. Following the Horde's defeat the naturally mercantile race took a neutral stance in world affairs. In Warcraft III and World of Warcraft, the various goblin business cartels based out of the city of Undermine now supply both factions. Several trade princes, however, have maintained closer ties with the Horde due to clashes with the Alliance.
Goblin engineers are best known for their affinity for explosives, their signature explosives being the Goblin Sapper Charges, a portable explosive which upon detonation deals devastating damage to anyone in its wake. Rocket launchers, various experimental explosives, and dangerous "Dimensional Rippers" make up most their arsenal of flimsy, yet devastating equipment.
Goblins were announced as the Horde's new playable race for the third expansion pack, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. As part of their initial questing area, a previously dormant volcano on their home island begins to erupt. Fearing for their lives, the Bilgewater Cartel fled the island only to be shipwrecked on the Lost Isles due to the crossfire of Horde and Alliance ships. The old racial ties between orc and goblin came to the front and, after rendering assistance to the remaining Horde forces, the goblins are invited as prospective members of the Horde.
In World of Warcraft, Goblins can be played as the following classes: Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warrior, Warlock, and Death Knight.
The Huojin pandaren are impulsive, quick to action, and practical, and have chosen to join the ranks of the Horde. They are led by Ji Firepaw, a passionate, outgoing pandaren who believes that it is honorable to defend home and family no matter the price. Not one for deep thought, and always the first one into a fray, Ji believes that inaction is the greatest injustice, and is attracted to the Horde's scrappy practicality.
Further information on the pandaren race can be found below.
Ogre society is clan-based, with ogre clans erecting mounds and generally avoiding contact with outsiders save for raids. Within the clans, the hierarchy is based on physical size and strength; the leader of an ogre clan is almost inevitably the largest and strongest ogre. Ogre-magi fall outside this norm and powerful magi often control the clan through the leader thanks to the rather large advantage in intelligence. If an outsider defeats the current leader of a clan, they are often deemed the new leader, partially out of fear of being killed as well.
Introduced in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Ogres are members of the Horde in Warcraft II; in Warcraft III they are encountered both as hostile critters and friendly mercenaries. Ogres are not a playable race in World of Warcraft, though some ogres appear as monsters and non-player characters. Following the defeat of the original Horde, the various ogre clans scattered across Azeroth, claiming land and erecting ogre mounds. Most ogres hold allegiance only to the strongest ogre of their clan and are hostile to any outsider, though some also take up mercenary work. The Stonemauls are the only clan to maintain a friendly relationship with the Horde, though they no longer lend the orcs direct support.
In the expansion World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, many ogres can be found in Outland. Their presence has proved a serious issue for the Mag'har and Kurenai, only exacerbated by the efforts of the Gronn. However, ogres in the Blade's Edge Mountains have established an enlightened group who have transcended their brutish nature aided by the powerful influence of the Apexis Crystals, forming the group of Ogri'la. Players of both factions are neutral with this group initially but can become friendly after a series of quests that result in the player being named a King or Queen of the Ogres.
Other races and factions
Introduced in Warcraft III, the Burning Legion have become the main villains of the series. Founded by the titan Sargeras, the Burning Legion includes many demonic races, the most prominent of which include the man'ari eredar (such as Archimonde and Kil'jaeden), Nathrezim (or Dreadlords, such as Tichondrius) and Annihilan (or Pitlords, such as Mannoroth). Member races are either subjugated and absorbed as slave races or enticed into joining with offers of demonic blood to empower them. In a few rare cases the races have joined of their own accord, such as with the Nathrezim who saw an opportunity to feed on more souls. It is uncertain how many races were truly evil to begin with, such as the Nathrezim, how many were corrupted with the offer of power, such as the eredar and fel orcs, and how many are slave races.
The Burning Legion is notorious for its conquering and eventual destruction of entire worlds. Their task is to undo all the works of the titans and to spread their taint to all corners of the universe. So far the Burning Legion has committed three major attacks on Azeroth: the first in antiquity (as described in World of Warcraft), the second, the invasion of the orcs during Warcraft and Warcraft II, and the third when the Undead Scourge summoned Archimonde in Warcraft III.
After the Third War the Legion has tried to destroy the Frozen Throne and kill Ner'zhul to eliminate the Scourge threat due to the Lich King's defection from the Legion. After the failure of Illidan Stormrage to defeat the Lich King in The Frozen Throne, Illidan returned to Outland and no longer serves the Legion. The Legion then turned its attentions to Kael'thas Sunstrider, who attempted to summon Kil'jaeden into Azeroth through the Sunwell but failed.
First introduced in Warcraft III, the Scourge is an army of undead created by the Lich King to destroy all life on Azeroth. It includes undead humans, elves, Nerubians and several other assorted races. The Scourge was created by the Burning Legion as a means of weakening the races of Azeroth, primarily the human Alliance, to prepare for the invasion of the Legion itself. The Legion captured the spirit of the former orc shaman Ner'zhul and forced him to become the Lich King, the power and mind behind the Scourge. As Ner'zhul's power grew, he began to become powerful enough to corrupt paladins to join the Scourge as Death Knights, one of these being Arthas Menethil, heir to the human kingdom of Lordaeron. Ner'zhul began crafting a plan to break out of his imprisonment, and to break away from the Burning Legion. When Kil'Jaeden realized what he was up to, he sent Illidan to destroy the Frozen Throne and Ner'zhul to end his treacherous endeavour. However, Ner'zhul commanded Arthas, his new champion, to come to his aid. Arthas fought Illidan and defeated him, then went to Icecrown and shattered the Frozen Throne, putting on Ner'zhul's helm. Ner'zhul's soul merged with Arthas' mind and body, and they became one of the most powerful beings on Azeroth, as Ner'zhul had planned all along.
The nerubians are intelligent arachnoids native to Northrend. They used to control a vast empire underneath the frozen continent until the Lich King Ner'zhul defeated them in a battle known as the "War of the Spider" in the game. Several nerubians were resurrected by the Lich King to serve for the Scourge, including their former king, Anub'arak.
The naga are mutated Highborne, an elite part of the ancient night elf culture. They have snakelike tails in place of legs, and have other serpentine features such as scales and fins. The naga were created when the Well of Eternity imploded and sundered the land. Many of the Highborne went down with their city into the depths of the sea. Their queen named Azshara made a pact with the Old Gods to save the remaining Highborne, thus the Old Gods cursed them and twisted them into the naga. The naga capital lies underneath the Great Maelstrom. Males are large, with muscular arms and torso, and additionally have two dorsal fins starting near their tail and running up their back, short tentacles erupting from their chin, and are most often dark blue. Females are slimmer by comparison, have four arms, larger dorsal fins and are usually a pale green color. Their faces are much more humanoid compared to the males snake-like snouts. The females also tend towards the role of spellcasters, as opposed to male warriors.
In Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, a group of naga are led by the Sea Witch Lady Vashj, who is under the servitude of Illidan "The Betrayer". They make multiple appearances throughout the first two campaigns, as enemies in the first campaign and allies in the second, and a few in the last campaign. They are a playable faction during two levels (not including a third where the player can control a few naga units). In World of Warcraft the naga appear primarily as enemies, being present in almost every region with a coastline and in certain dungeons.
The Naaru are a race of sentient energy beings locked in a struggle to defeat the Burning Legion. They are deeply devoted to the Holy Light, and work to bring its tenets to mortal races, such as the draenei, with whom they are closely aligned. The naaru debuted in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, with their most significant presence in Shattrath City, controlled by a sect of naaru known as the Sha'tar, led by A'dal, the most recognizable of his kind. The naaru are apolitical; their sole priority is the eradication of the Burning Legion. The naaru have access to advanced technology as evidenced by their stronghold, Tempest Keep, which allowed them to traverse the Twisting Nether and visit different worlds. Tempest Keep, however, was commandeered by Kael'thas and his army of blood elves, and its sole remaining occupant, M'uru, was imprisoned in Silvermoon, where his energies were siphoned off by a new breed of paladins known as Blood Knights.
Through the course of the Burning Crusade, it is revealed that the naaru are prone to falling into a "void state," in which they become inverted into a font of dark energy, which attracts spirits to it and consumes them. Over a very long time, the naaru will eventually regenerate into their light state. The origins of the naaru have not been revealed, and their relationship with the Holy Light has not been fully articulated, but some have speculated that they are the very source of the Light. They can be easily compared to angels.
The naaru played recurring roles throughout the Burning Crusade, particularly the final raid of that expansion, the Sunwell Plateau, in which the conflict with the Burning Legion reached its climax. M'uru reappeared in this raid, in which he fell into the void state, becoming a being named Entropius. After Kil'jaeden's defeat, M'uru's heart or "spark" was used to reignite the Sunwell as a font of holy magic, as opposed to arcane magic. Additionally, Lady Liadrin of the Blood Knights pledged her order's service to A'dal. They have had very little involvement in the game since.
Murloc are amphibious creatures which dwell along the coastlines of the Eastern Kingdoms, and few other locations. Little is known about this species, although they seemingly have enough intellect to form societies and tribes, even having their own faith system. They have their own spoken language, although it is unpronounceable in the common tongue.
Outside of the game, murlocs have been used as a mascot for Blizzard Entertainment, given away as in-game pets at BlizzCon, the convention hosted annually by Blizzard Entertainment. The murloc has also been used to advertise products outside of the Warcraft series, such as a Murloc Marine advertising StarCraft II. A song has also been written, with murlocs as the subject, named "I am Murloc" by Samwise Didier.
Pandaren are a humanoid race which closely resemble pandas. The pandaren occupy their own continent, Pandaria, which split off during the Sundering and magically shrouded from the rest of Azeroth until the release of Mists of Pandaria. The pandaren were originally introduced as an April Fools' joke by Blizzard's art director Samwise Didier as a playable race in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne; in the "bonus" campaign centered around the Horde, the pandaren brewmaster Chen Stormstout is a supporting character, marking the first appearance of the race in Warcraft.
The playable pandaren in Mists of Pandaria are currently the only race in World of Warcraft that begins neutral, choosing between the Alliance or the Horde at the end of their starting area, around level 10. The player pandaren hail from the Wandering Isle, a land built on the back of a giant turtle known as Shen-zin Su, and inhabited by the descendants of pandaren wanderers who ventured beyond the mists of Pandaria to explore the world. The player character begins at an academy, where they undergo extensive training in the fighting arts and the philosophies of the pandaren. Shen-zin Su remarks on a "thorn" in his side that prevents him from swimming straight, putting the Wandering Isle in danger. The "thorn" is revealed to be the crash of a flying Alliance warship carrying Horde prisoners from the initial battles for Pandaria. After rescuing the survivors, the pandaren return to their temple to "choose their destiny" - to either join the Alliance, or the Horde. The player then flies by hot air balloon to the gates of Stormwind (Alliance) or Orgrimmar (Horde) with the chosen representative(s) of their people.
Pandaren are able to play a Hunter, Mage, Rogue, Priest, Shaman, Warrior, or Monk. Owing to timeline conflicts, the pandaren are the only race in World of Warcraft that cannot be Death Knights, as the events on their starting area of the Wandering Isle occur well after the death knights' storyline in Wrath of the Lich King.
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