It’s important to note that while this is as comprehensive and summarized as possible, much of the origin lore is up for debate and is subject to change based on the needs of current patches and expansions. Like stars in the sky, this lore is dense; yet scattered, and detailed. What follows is the best culmination of information through the games as well as novels, comics, and official videos.
With Battle for Azeroth raiding our world in a little over a month, fleshing out some lore is essential in knowing the climate of the coming expansion. Where we begin is with the origins and significance of Azeroth; the world in which Warcraft primarily takes place.
What are Worlds?
Before there was an Alliance and Horde. Before there was a Lich King or crippled warlocks. Before the Burning Legion was created. Before time was even a concept, there was Light and Void.
The vast expanse of Light ebbed and flowed amongst all of existence, which eventually created null pockets in their absence, where the Void was birthed and revolted. As the Void grew from the abandoned places of Light, it continually clashed with its counterpart causing cataclysmic explosions.
From one of these many events existence fractured, bringing forth a new realm within the scar that we understand as the physical universe. Matter accreted and generated an innumerable number of worlds. Some of these planets were pulled to clusters of immense energy called ‘World-souls’. One of these World-souls awoke as a powerful being: Aman’Thul.
Now before we continue with this extremely brief synopsis of billions of years, let’s talk a bit more about world-souls, because (spoiler alert) that’s what Azeroth is.
World-souls develop in the fiery cores of a small number of worlds. If left to their own natural development, world-souls eventually become full fledged titans (we’ll cover them in the next section), but before that happens, these worlds are attracting Spirit. Spirit energy is that which resides in all living things. It is that which brings about life and connects living beings to the elements.
Life is born and dies on these world-souls for millennia before they awake in their ‘final form’. Azeroth is currently in this state of development. Much like humans on our earth today, the Horde and Alliance are merely specks on Azeroth’s ancient history and future.
The Pantheon and the Old Gods
Back to the story. Aman’Thul awoke as the first titan. All-powerful, and with the ability to control creation and Spirit itself, he set out to awaken those like unto him. He would rouse the world-souls he discovered, so they could progress to maturity faster, in order to assist him on his search. His fellow titans became known as the Pantheon. In their search for more titans, the Pantheon would roam their corner of the Great Dark bringing order to discordant worlds (such as Draenor and countless others) in attempts to find more world-souls.
The Pantheon wasn’t the only group of beings in search of world-souls, however. The void lords are creatures of the Void who, much like the titans, ceaselessly looked for a world-soul to corrupt and become a champion for torment and evil. Also, similar to the Pantheon, the void lords couldn’t be certain of which worlds contained a world-soul. As beings of the Void, they remained weak outside of its safety, so rather than manifesting themselves into reality, they sent an unknown number of emissaries to distant parts of the Great Dark Beyond in search of a titan in it’s weaker world-soul state. These emissaries are known as the Old Gods and with every contact with life, they brought destruction and disorder.
In a distant corner of the Great Dark grew a world-soul named Azeroth, her elementals in constant conflict with each other due to the tremendous amount of Spirit she attracted. Constantly clashing and warring with each other, the elementals altered much of Azeroth’s surface making the landscape both beautiful and hostile.
Just as a nose-blind dog will eventually unearth a hidden bone if given enough time, the Old Gods eventually stumbled upon Azeroth. Plummeting to her surface, came 4 Old Gods: C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, N’Zoth, and Y’Shaarj. They had found a world-soul with the potential to become the greatest titan in existence.
War for the World-soul
Upon their arrival, the Old Gods embedded themselves into Azeroth at different locations throughout the surface. These monsters towered over the landscape, draping all beneath them in despair. With the arrival of these monumental terrors, came servants: the aqir and n’raqi. With their combined efforts, the Old Gods built cities around themselves coming to be known as the Black Empire.
Azeroth still contained her built in immune system, the Elemental Lords. Once waging war on each other, the elementals banded together to revolt against this new infestation. Utterly unsuccessful, the lords were swiftly enslaved by the Old Gods.
After a time, the Titans also stumbled across the world and discovered Azeroth riddled with the Old Gods power. Initially troubled by the discovery, they were relieved to find that the inner soul remained remarkably uncorrupted. Knowing they had to act quickly (yet not directly due to their fear of their vast power destroying Azeroth in the process) the Pantheon crafted their champions later known as the Titan-forged. From the very crust of Azeroth came the aesir and vanir, the aesir were made of metal and controlled storms, the vanir were composed of stone and held power over the earth.
From these creations, the titans made a few titan-forged in their own images to lead the campaign. Later known as the keepers, these commanders took the fight to the Black Empire.
And so a war began on Azeroth’s surface between the most powerful beings in the known Dark Beyond. Enslaved by the Old Gods, the Elemental Lords lash out against the titan-forged with their respective armies of elementals. Large battles followed where the titan-forged confronted, countered, and defeated each lord, banishing them to the Elemental Plane where they continue to do battle amongst each other. With their full attention on the Black Empire again, the titan-forged pushed onward to the city and hulking body of Y’Shaarj, who was known to be the most powerful of the Old Gods.
As the titan-forged approached, Y’Shaarj proved to be more formidable than they had initially anticipated, infecting their minds with fear and despair. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the Pantheon knew they must take direct action or risk losing Azeroth to the Void. Aman’Thul himself reached down and uprooted Y’Shaarj from Azeroth’s body, tearing him apart. The Old God had burrowed deeper into Azeroth than Aman’Thul had expected and from the gaping hole in her body came a surge of arcane energies – the blood of the world-soul.
The Pantheon realized that they could not fully destroy the Old Gods embedded in Azeroth. So rather than ripping out and destroying the last three, they defeated them and managed to imprison the timeless evils beneath Azeroth’s surface where enchantments negated the Old Gods’ power.
Recovery and Order
With the Old Gods dealt with, and the elementals gone, Azeroth began to thrive. The titans went about the work of getting Azeroth in order creating dwarves, gnomes, vrykul, and giants to assist them. The Pantheon rearranged mountains and carved out valleys making Azeroth even more prosperous and favorable. To ensure that Azeroth wouldn’t fall to the corruption of the Old Gods again, the Pantheon also created five dragon aspects. Each aspect was tasked with maintaining order within their respective domain (Much more on them in articles to come).
Confident that things were developed enough to be out of their hands, the Pantheon created a large pool out of Azeroth’s life-blood known as the first Well of Eternity. The Well was placed in the middle of the landmass Kalimdor and sloshed with arcane power which assisted in growth and nourishment of all living things.
Many more wars and disasters befell the living beings of Azeroth as demons would not give up on the fight for the world. These wars eventually resulted in the Well being destroyed, thus splitting Kalimdor into different sub-continents.
The State of the World
There’s much more to be said about details and dealings that had to be glanced over today, but rest assured we’ll discuss many more of these topics within Warcraft. This simply brushed the surface of the origins of the world and where we are geographically. We’ve seen arcane and ancient powers put into play and will soon discuss specific battles, weapons, and characters.As for now, Azeroth is in the hands of its life forms, fending off demonic invasions and trying to make sense of the lives and world they know. Though often falling to civil wars, the races still have common enemies among them… demons. Tensions rise and fall on this world-soul but, with the assistance of adventurers like us, she will flourish and become the great titan we know she can be.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again for the next installment of Warcraft lore!