WoW Lore: Who’s the Evil, now?

Even though not very much implemented and badly supported, the RP aspect of WoW exists. As such, the question must be asked – who are the “bad guys” of WoW?

Trolls, once cannibalistic and brutal, overcame their dietary habits and Vodoo practices to become a Shamanistic and loyal partner to the Horde. Orcs, the abused race whose homeland of Draenor was invaded first by Draenei and later by Sargeras on his pursuit of the Draenei, were first enslaved, then forced to act against their own peaceful and shamanistic ways, later imprisoned by Humans and only freed when Thrall rose from the shackles of the Orcish past. Tauren, another peaceful and nomadic people, plagued by Centaur invasions into their stomping grounds apparently had little to no help from Humans, Night Elves, Dwarves, or Gnomes. In their pain, Thrall came to help, and Cairne Bloodhoof built the Tauren’s first fortfied city above Thunder Bluff. Lastly, the Undead. Now, here we have some true opportunism, allegiance due to convenience, and a clear threat of Undercity breaking from the Horde as soon as the Dark Lady’s dark motives are met.

Blood Elves, likewise, aren’t that much of an open book to read. Seeking Magic like a Meth addict a dealer, there is no knowing how far this new ally will go to obtain their Precious.

Humans – advised by a Dragon, sister of Nefarian, and blinded by The Light as much as either ignorant or ambivalent to the dangers of Onyxia, the plight of their native neighbors, the Tauren, picked an alliance with Night Elves, Gnomes, and Dwarves.

Gnomes, exiles of Gnomeregan, infatuated by the might of what would be a planned super-technology center, allowed the radiation to give rise to the Mutant Troggs. Ever the inventors, High Tinker Mekkatorque and his men turned a whole city into one big nuke in an attempt to stem the invasion. Turns out that one didn’t quite work, giving us more infested Troggs all over Azeroth, a green glowing former city, run by the traitor Mekkiner Thermaplugg, and a reason not to trust Gnomes with technology.

Dwarves, a down to earth people, are maybe the true victims of this Alliance. Convinced to be the descendents of the mighty Titans, Dwarves seek nothing more than their own heritage. In this pursuit, mistakes were made that contributed to the expansion of the Burning Legion and powerhold of Sargeras, that might ultimately have destroyed any hope of knowing for sure about the where and when.

Lastly, Night Elves. If there is such a thing as “THE” perpetrator of the Burning Crusade’s deadly reign in Azeroth, it would be the Night Elves lust for power, egomania, and elitism. It was Azshara and Xavius who opened the Dark Portal, lured by Sargeras’ promises to eradicate “unworthy” races from Azeroth. The Highborne, Elves born into nobility, hoped to reap the fruits of what they perceived as their true calling, rulership over and cleansing of Azeroth.

The Draenei fell almost completely for the lure offered by Sargeras. Only a few survived uncorrupted, fleeing from Sargeras across the Universe onto Outland where their presence unltimately doomed the peace loving Orcs which were completely unaware of the danger, unprepared to fight it, and unable to withstand the corruption.

Who are the good guys? Neither Horde nor Alliance are free of past guilt, having doomed whole planets, given power to the Red Dragonflight, turned a city into a nuke, eaten their own, or scheming to develop a new Plague. Is there such a thing as playing a good guy?

11 Comments so far

  1. Josh (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 8:08 am

    This is the best breakdown I’ve seen yet. With the exception of the Tauren they’re all pretty much jerks in one way or another.


  2. Thud (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 8:13 am

    I think this is one of the victories of WoW.

    There’s not so much a “good” and “evil” side as there are two different political factions. As in real life, no one (and no race) is inherently a “good guy” or a “bad guy.” It depends on what side of what encounter you are on at the time. In one conflict, you may be on the side of good; on another, on the side of evil.

    The undead remind me of a wholly corrupt and evil regime; the leadership is unquestionably evil, but individual zombies aren’t so bad…


  3. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 10:24 am

    This is why I love WoW. Ambiguous characters galore!


  4. matt rossi (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 11:21 am

    Orcs, the abused race whose homeland of Draenor was invaded first by Draenei and later by Sargeras on his pursuit of the Draenei, were first enslaved, then forced to act against their own peaceful and shamanistic ways, later imprisoned by Humans and only freed when Thrall rose from the shackles of the Orcish past.

    If this weren’t a post about a video game I’d recommend you get a job spin-doctoring for Thrall.

    By all accounts the orcs and Draenei got along fine until a couple of orcs (Ner’zhul and Gul’Dan, to be exact) made the exact same decision you lambaste all night elves for, the choice of Azshara and Xavius (who were Highborne, the ancestors of the Blood Elves) – they threw in with the Burning Legion and Sargeras of their own free will. The only difference? The orcs did not see through the Legion as did the majority of Night Elves and had to be beaten back in two horrific wars before they were made to face their own corruption.

    And that’s after the orcs butchered the Draenei at the behest of Kil’Jaeden.

    Actually, I’ve always found Grom Hellscream to be an enlightening figure among the orcs: first to drink the blood of demons to gain power, first to lead his people into slavery to the Burning Legion, first among those who invaded the world of Azeroth, and finally first among those who listened to the words of Thrall and gave his own life to redeem his kin from the evil subjugation he himself helped lead them into.

    I’m not really arguing against your main point: neither side is ‘good’ or ‘evil’. I just don’t buy the way you framed it.


  5. Sabocat (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

    Tauren are the only good guys. They wander the world killing things for thier own good. It’s a public service.


  6. Reo (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 1:14 pm

    Beats me – I’m a rogue. ;)


  7. Josh (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 1:41 pm

    The Tauren really are the only race that haven’t commited some horrible act yet. And who can hate a bunch of giant cows?


  8. Jonas M Luster (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

    By all accounts the orcs and Draenei got along fine until a couple of orcs (Ner’zhul and Gul’Dan, to be exact) made the exact same decision you lambaste all night elves for, the choice of Azshara and Xavius (who were Highborne, the ancestors of the Blood Elves) – they threw in with the Burning Legion and Sargeras of their own free will.

    Now, let’s see… where is the difference between an elitist and egotistical bunch of Elves whose homeland was safe until THEY decided Sargeras was a good idea to have on their team, and a peaceful, shamanic, race whose homeland was chosen as a refuge by a handful of runners from evil, who can’t have been all that good, or they’d have chosen a world where they didn’t endanger innocents?

    Ner’Zhul? Once he saw what he couldn’t have fathomed (being from an isolated world that, by all the accounts you describe above, was mostly devoid of evil), actively defied Sargeras. Did Azshara? Heck no, just ask the Naga. Gul’Dan, yes, he knew what he was getting himself into, and he did it in defiance even of his master, Ner’Zhul, who never fully embraced demonic powers.

    Night Elves? If, as you claim, Night Elves and Orcs both were equally complicit, and both had been corrupted and had to be made aware of their own corruption, then there’s a question to be asked: how many Night Elves were imprisoned? How many were kept as simple, mindless, slaves? How many were murdered by Paladins and other disciples of “The Light” simply out of hatred for what a corrupted facade of them had done? Was there a mass extermination of Night Elves after the Magna had failed and her own son began to spread death over Azeroth? No?

    Yes, there isn’t such a thing as “innocent” in this war, but considering the circumstances there’s no moral high ground to stand on for anyone, and no reason for any Alliance race to scream “Light be with me” and feel all justified. Indeed, as I try to show above, the mere fact that Humans and Night Elves alike stood by and watched as the Tauren were systematically eradicated by Kolkar tribes, makes the whole “defender of the Light” thing dubious at best.


  9. Catriona (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 8:58 pm

    Really enjoyed this post :D


  10. James Foreman (unregistered) on May 20th, 2006 @ 10:45 am

    I’m calling Horde bias!

    I think it’s amazing how the ability to play characters of either side has created this intense loyalty in mains of either faction. I think I’ll post something more in-depth a bit later, but it comes through in your post. You obviously sympathize with the Horde (each snippet of description for each Horde faction is positive), while openly questioning the goodness of the Alliance (with each snippet ending in a negative).

    I’m not faulting you for it – I think it’s a sign that Blizzard is doing its job.


  11. Joi Ito (unregistered) on May 20th, 2006 @ 2:05 pm

    It’s just that Jonas is a Tauren trapped in a Dwarf body in RL.



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