~The Warcraft Lore guide is intended to be viewed in a format too large for this forum.
~I have uploaded the Warcraft Lore Guide in three pieces to imgur.com so it may be viewed in its intended form, compete with (many) pictures.
~This guide is intended to give as short a synopsis of the History of Warcraft as possible while still hitting upon every major character and theme, and to provide images as references. The guide is for those playing World of Warcraft without proper knowledge of the Game's lore. As such, the guide ends where Vanilla Warcraft begins, and does not include the story of the game so far. Perhaps that will be my next Guide. :D
~Here it is in its plain text version:
Warcraft: Lore Guide
The Titans, benevolent, metal-skinned gods, set to bring order to the worlds of the universe, and guard them from the Twisting Nether, a dimension of chaos connecting the worlds and home to countless demons.The Titans elected Sargeras, their greatest warrior, to protect the worlds. He struggled for millennia destroying and capturing demons. After defeating unspeakably evil demons known as the Nathrezim, he fell into a depression that turned to madness and hate. He swore to destroy the Titans and their works.He freed the Nathrezim and began expanding his army. On planet Argus he found the Eredar, and promised their leaders untold power. Kil'Jaeden and Archimonde readily agreed, but Velen refused. He fled with his followers, known after as the Draenei. Kil'Jaeden and Archimonde became the leaders of this Burning Legion.
The Titans came upon Azeroth, and set to work molding it. They created assistants to help them, but strangely, these races slowly altered from their original form, becoming soft and fleshy. The Titans noticed raging elementals roaming this world and their powerful lords. Ragnaros, Al'akir, Therazane, and Neptulon all severed the same masters. The Old Gods were beings of unfathomable anarchic evil. It was their Curse of Flesh affecting the Titans creations; if they killed the Old Gods, Azeroth would fall to ruin. They banished the elemental lords and chained the Old Gods beneath Azeroth. They created a single Continent and placed at its center a lake imbued with unbridled energy as a font for life: the Well of Eternity.
The Titans empowered the leaders of the five Dragonflights to protect Azeroth. Alexstrasza the Red was given the power of life. Ysera the Green fell into a deep sleep and became guardian of the Emerald Dream, a realm of nature parallel to our world. Nozdormu the Bronze was given power over time. Malygos the Blue was given power over arcane magic. Neltharion the Black was given power over the earth. Ensured of Azeroth's Safely, the Titans left.
The Kaldorei, or Night Elves, settled on the banks of the Well of Eternity, which granted them strength, longevity, and intelligence. They met Cenarius, a reclusive forest demigod, who grew fond of them and taught them empathy for nature. Azshara, their queen, built a palace on the Well's shore and named her followers the Quel'dorei, or Highborne. They plumbed the Well's secrets, using its cosmic energies to develop primitive magic, and began to abuse it. The Druid Malfurion Stormrage and his teacher Cenarius warned them, but the now haughty Highborne refused to listen.
Their magic drew the attention of Sargeras. He desired the Well's energy, and Azshara agreed to grant him access to Azeroth. She and the Highborne made a portal for the Legion. Malfurion was concerned for his twin brother, Illidan, who practiced Highborne magic. He convinced him to leave with him. Cenarius enlisted the help of The Dragonflights, led by Alexstrasza, He also called to the Ancients, powerful forest spirits, to assist in the battle. Demons swarmed form the portal and laid siege to Kalimdor. This would be known as the War of the Ancients. Neltharion persuaded the other dragons to bind their powers to a golden disk, called the Dragon Soul, to defeat the Legion. He betrayed his allies and used it to lay waste to his fellow Dragonflights. Malfurion knew that the Well must be destroyed, but Illidan, desperately addicted to its energies, warned Azshara. Malfurion arrived to see her attempting to summon Sargeras himself, and their battle caused the unstable spell to buckle, collapsing the Well. A catastrophic explosion sundered Azeroth, destroying most of Kalimdor, and creating a great sea with a swirling maelstrom where the Well used to be. Azshara and her kin were horribly transformed into the Naga and cast to the bottom of the sea.
The survivors of the Sundering made their way to Mount Hyjal. They discovered, to their horror, the lake at the summit had been befouled my magic. Illidan had saved some of the water of the Well and poured it into the lake, witch formed a new Well of Eternity. Malfurion sealed his brother in an underground prison, and entrusted Maiev Shadowsong to personally guard him. Malfurion expressly forbid the future practice of magic. The dragons returned and made a pact with Malfurion to ensure the safety of the new Well. Alexstrasza placed a single magic seed within the lake which grew into a colossal tree named Nordrassil. Nozdormu enchanted the tree granting the night elves immortality. Ysera linked the tree to the Emerald Dream, binding Malfurion and the rest of the druids to it. As part of this pact, the druids agreed to sleep within the dream for centuries at a time.
As the centuries passed, remaining Highborne suffered withdrawals. Dath'Remar, their leader, insulted the druids for refusing magic, called a storm against the forests, and were banished. They sailed across the sea, landing in a land called Lordaeron. They rejected their heritage and embraced the sun, calling themselves High Elves.
The druids prepared for their long slumber and Malfurion said goodbye to his love Tyrande. It fell to her and her elite soldiers, the Sentinels, to protect the forests of Kalimdor. The sons of Cenarius, the Keepers of the Grove, also emerged to help maintain peace.
The high elves traveled Lordaeron searching for a new home. They suffered in the absence of the Well of Eternity, becoming pale and smaller. They met the barbaric Trolls of Zul'Aman, a heinous race they killed on sight. They settled in northern Lordaeron and built the kingdom of Quel'Thalas. This land was holy to the trolls, and suffered constant attack. Using powerful magic, they kept the trolls at bay, but were weary of its use. To guise their magic so the Burning Legion didn't detect it, they built runestones on the outskirts of their territory which also drove off the superstitious trolls. Quel'Thalas flourished for millennia, but the trolls returned and laid siege to the kingdom. Trolls also threatened the human tribes of Lordaeron. The Arathi tribe recognized the threat, and fought to unite the others to combat the trolls. United, they built Strom, capitol of the kingdom of Arathor in southern Lordaeron. Ambassadors from Quel'Thalas announced the fall of their kingdom to the trolls, and promised to teach select humans magic if they offered to help. The elves magic and the humans military might drove the trolls north, slaughtering the Amani nation. Grateful, the high elves swore loyalty to the Arathi bloodline, and headed north to rebuild.
The humans who were taught magic studied their new art, becoming powerful but conceited. The mages built Dalaran northeast of Strom. The city of magic flourished, but demons began to appear in Lordaeron. To keep demonic threat under control, the leaders of Dalaran consulted with the elves. Powerful mages from both nations met in secret north of Dalaran in the Tirisfal Glades. The Council of Tirisfal empowered a single mortal at a time to act as the Guardian of Tirisfal, and carefully guard against demonic threat.
More human cities began to grow, such as Gilneas and Alterac. They flourished and spread out, meeting and befriending the Dwarves. The lords of Strom abandoned the city and built a new one north of Dalaran they named Lordaeron, which became a mecca. The descendants of the Arathi bloodline reluctantly left their crumbling city and ventured south to the continent of Azeroth and established the kingdom of Stormwind.
The Council of Tirisfal made Aegwynn, a passionate human, the next Guardian. She vigorously destroyed demons where she could, but questioned authority and yearned to prove herself. As her powers grew, she sensed powerful demonic presence in Northrend. Venturing north, she found demons hunting the Dragonflights. They were too evenly matched against the demons, but prevailed with Aegwynn's help. As she vanquished the last one, an avatar of Sargeras appeared. Despite his immense hellish power, Aegwynn killed his physical shell. Fearing his return, she cast the shell down to an ancient city at the bottom of the ocean. His spirit, however buried itself in her soul and waited. The time came for her to give her Guardian powers, but she decided to choose her own successor. She seduced a mage named Nielas Aran and bore in secret a child named Medivh. The spirit of Sargeras migrated into the infant. She bestowed her powers to the boy, left him in the care of Stormwind, and disappeared. When Medivh reached adolescence, his guardian powers matured and Sargeras awakened. He fell into a coma, and a woke many years later, with Sargeras in control.
In and ancient forgotten city named Uldum, those once known as the Earthen awoke. They emerged from their chambers and named the lands around them Khaz Modan. They called themselves Dwarves and carved into the mountains a city named Ironforge. Dwarven society slowly grew too large for their mountain, but Modimus Anvilmar justly ruled over the dwarven clans. The Bronzebeard Clan held close ties with the king and were Ironforge's defenders. The Wildhammer Clan lived around the mountain and sought more power in the city. The Dark Iron Clan hid deep in the depths and plotted against their cousins. Ironforge erupted in war with King Anvilmar's death. The Bronzebeards won and banished the other clans. The Wildhammers traveled north and founded the kingdom of Grim Batol. The Dark Irons retreated south and vowed revenge. Years later, led by Thaurissan and his wife Modgud, they attacked Ironforge and Grim Batol to claim all of Khaz Modan. The Ironforge dwarves repelled and sent Thaurissan into retreat. In Grim Batol, Modgud used her dark powers to call fourth shadows and evil. When she fell in battle, her forces retreated, chased by the Wildhammers. They joined with Ironforge dwarves marching north to assist them, and went south to destroy Thaurissan. He attempted to summon a powerful minion to help him destroy his foes, but unwittingly released destruction at the hands of Ragnaros the Firelord, born again into Azeroth. He destroyed much of the surrounding mountains and created a volcano known as Blackrock Spire in his wake. Thaurissan died, but his ancestors and allies were enslaved by Ragnaros. The other clans retreated, and the Ironforges returned home. The Wildhammers, theirs befouled by Modgud's evil, were offered refuge in Ironforge, but refused, traveling to Lordaeron and building the city of Aerie Peak.
Kil'Jaeden plotted the Legion's second invasion of Azeroth and sought a new force to weaken its defenses. He discovered Draenor, refuge of Velen and the Draenei, and home to shamanistic Orc clans. He sought to corrupt the orcs, and whispered to an elder named Ner'zhul, using him to spread lust for battle and savagery among the orcs. He wished for the orcs to devote themselves utterly to war and death, but Ner'zhul resisted. The demonlord turned to Ner'zhul's apprentice, Gul'dan. Gul'dan greedily studied demon magics and became a powerful warlock, and spurred the orcs into becoming more and more vicious. Durotan of the Frostwolf Clan warned the orcs not lose themselves, but was drowned out by chieftains like Grom Hellscream of the Warsong Clan. To ensure their loyalty Kil'Jaeden and Gul'dan ordered the clans to drink the blood of the Pit Lord demon Mannoroth. Led by Grom, every clan except the Frostwolves drank, becoming the Legion's slaves, consumed by rage and bloodlust. Gul'dan chose Blackhand the Destroyer, to act as a puppet warchief and lead the Orcish Horde. They used to orcs to obliterate the Draenei, and once they were almost completely wiped out, they knew their army was ready.
Kil'Jaeden told Gul'dan of the Tomb of Sargeras, where Aegwynn sealed the husk of the avatar, and of the untold powers there. With Medivh on Azeroth and Gul'dan's warlocks on Draenor, they opened the Dark Portal, a bridge between the worlds. Durotan again spoke out against Gul'dan, and was banished to the farthest reaches of the new world. The Orcish Horde established a foothold south of Stormwind, coming into conflict with the humans. The First War broke out as the orcs launched themselves at Stormwind. King Llane Wrynn held up in the city, but Sir Anduin Lothar knew the battle should be taken to the enemy. The young mage Khadgar, Medivh's apprentice, told Lothar of his master's betrayal and helped him lay siege to his tower and slay Medivh. Orgrim Doomhammer of the Blackrock Clan grew worried of the orcs bloodthirst, again warned by Durotan of Gul'dan's evil. Gul'dan's assassins killed Durotan and his family, orphaning his son. In retribution, Orgrim killed Blackhand, took control of the Horde from Gul'dan, and captured Stormwind.
Lothar gathered survivors and fled to Lordaeron. Humans united their remaining kingdoms in the Alliance of Lordaeron. Lothar and his lieutenants, Uther the Lightbringer, Daelin Proudmoore, and Turalyon, enlisted the Dwarves and their Gnome allies. Lothar, last of the Arathi bloodline called on the high elves. The Orcish Horde brought Ogres from Draenor and allied with the forest trolls. The Second War raged as the Orcish Horde marched north, taking all of Khaz Modan. The Dragon Soul, once held by Deathwing, had begun to tear him apart. Now called the Demon Soul, he led the orcs to it so they may use it against Alexstrasza. The Dragonmaw Clan of orcs used the Demon Soul to enslave her and force her brood to fight for the Horde. They were nearly victorious again, when suddenly, Gul'dan betrayed his allies and withdrew his soldiers to find the Tomb of Sargeras. Bewildered, Doomhammer sent his men after Gul'dan, who raised the tomb from the sea, but found within it only death at the hands of demons. His clans were finished off by Doomhammer. Given time to recover, Lothar drove the orcs south, trapping their army in Blackrock Spire. Doomhammer and Lothar clashed, and Orgrim used his mighty Doomhammer to smash Lothar's sword, then killed Lothar. Turalyon, in the eleventh hour, rallied the Alliance, pushing the Horde south into the swamplands and destroying the Dark Portal, ending the Second War.
Ner'zhul gathered the orcs still on Draenor, planning to open more portals to new worlds. To do this he reopened the Dark Portal and sent his army to Azeroth to gather several magic artifacts. Though they found what they needed and quickly returned, king Terenas Menethil II of Lordaeron feared another invasion. He ordered Turalyon to lead an expedition through the dark portal to end the orcish threat. Even with Khadgar, Alleria Windrunner, Kurdran Wildhammer, and Danath Trollbane, he couldn't stop Ner'zhul from opening the other portals. Ner'zhul failed to see that the energy from so many portals would rip Draenor to shreds. Turalyon and the others, to save Azeroth from the same fate, selflessly stayed on the crumbling world to close the portal from their side. As Draenor was tearing apart, Ner'zhul escaped through one of the portals.
Orcs remaining on Azeroth were put in internment camps at the fortress of Durnholde Keep. Few clans of orcs remained free. Grom Hellscream's Warsongs evaded capture, while the Dragonmaw Clan still had the Demon Soul and therefore, Alexstrasza. A mage named Rhonin led a small group in destroying the Demon Soul and freeing the dragon, who decimated the Dragonmaws. Those orcs left in camps began to stagnate, their aggressiveness dwindled, and they turned lethargic. Durnholde was led by Aedelas Blackmoore, who took interest in an orphaned orc named Thrall he had found years ago. He taught him tactics, philosophy, and combat, seeking to mold him into a weapon. Thrall escaped and met Grom, who was trying in vein to rouse the orcs languishing in the camps. He learned of the exiled Frostwolf Clan, and upon meeting them, learned he was the son of Durotan. Thrall was taught the lost orc art of shamanism, and became a powerful shaman. The new chieftain of the Frostwolves set out to free the orcs and cure them of demonic corruption. Thrall met the hermit Orgrim Doomhammer, who helped Thrall in giving their people hope. In the assault on Durnholde, Orgrim fell, and Thrall took up the Doomhammer. He slayed Blackmoore, and freed the orcs, becoming the warchief of the new Horde.
Ner'zhul arrived in the twisting nether standing before Kil'Jaeden. For his defiance, Kil'Jaeden tore him apart but kept his spirit intact. He pleaded for death but the demon had other plans. He needed another army, merciless, single minded, and obedient. Ner'zhul was placed in a block of ice and given terrible powers, becoming the Lich King. He was cast down to Azeroth and landed in Northrend, and began to spread his vile influence. He created a plague of undeath, which would quickly kill and raise the infected as mindless undead. He used this plague to master every man in Northrend. The evil Nerubians, who lived in the underground kingdom of Azjol-Nerub, were immune to his plague. He invaded their vast network of underground caves and slaughtered and personally resurrected every nerubian. He was ready to begin his invasion. The Lich King called out to any who would listen. A powerful necromancer named Kel'Thuzad, a mage formerly of high regard in Dalaran, heard the Lich King's whispers, and abandoned everything to follow the voice. He traveled to Northrend and swore himself to the Lich King. He was left alive and sent back to Lordaeron to gather followers. He created the Cult of the Damned, and promised his agents an eternal life of equality. They were used to spread the plague across Lordaeron, and as the undead marched across northern Lordaeron, the Lich King's Scourge was born.
The Alliance of Lordaeron was splintering. King Terenas was straining them financially to rebuild Stormwind. With Lothar dead, the high elves parted ways. The Kingdom of Gilneas seceded, and sealed themselves behind a huge wall. Dalaran, Stormwind, and Ironforge stayed Loyal. The Kingdom of Lordaeron fell under siege by the Scourge. Uther and his paladins fought the scourge, unable to thwart its advance. His student, Prince Arthas Menethil, son of Terenas, rose to fight the scourge and killed Kel'Thuzad. The Scourge continued on, and Arthas grew maddeningly desperate to conquer it. He tracked the scourge to Northrend and discovered the cursed runeblade Frostmourne. The powerful sword stole his soul and made him a death knight of the Lich King. Arthas marched home, murdered his father, and crushed Lordaeron. Arthas was ordered to resurrect Kel'Thuzad by using the Sunwell, the high elves' mystical font of energy. They attacked Quel'Thalas, and despite the efforts of Sylvanas Windrunner, the Arthas decimated the high elves and raised Sylvanas Windrunner for the Scourge. Arthas Submerged Kel'Thuzad's remains in the Sunwell, befouling it, and resurrecting him as a powerful Lich. They headed south to Dalaran to obtain the spell book of Medivh and summon Archimonde to Azeroth for the Legion's final invasion. Archimonde trampled Dalaran and led his demons to follow the Scourge to Kalimdor to destroy Nordrassil.
A lone, mysterious prophet, beckoned the mortal races to Kalimdor. Thrall lead his people to Kalimdor, befriending Vol'jin of the Darkspear Trolls and Cairne Bloodhoof, leader of the Tauren. They fought with the night elf Sentinels, and Grom began to feel the demonic bloodlust. He again drank the blood of Mannoroth, and killed Cenarius. He redeemed his honor by destroying Mannoroth and ending the orcs' blood curse, at the cost of his own life. Tyrande battled the demons and the undead, and woke Malfurion and the druids from their slumber for help. She also misguidedly freed Illidan. The prophet had much trouble convincing the humans to help in Kalimdor but eventually found the mage Jaina Proudmoore, daughter of Daelin. She stole away with half of her father's fleet for Kalimdor. She clashed with the orcs and the Sentinels upon arrival, but as Tyrande, Thrall, and Jaina were all about to battle, the prophet appeared. He revealed himself as the spirit of Medivh, back to redeem himself. He united the Sentinels, the humans, and the Horde to protect Hyjal. Unified, they defended Nordrassil and the Well of Eternity, destroyed Archimonde, and extinguished the Legion.
Free again, Illidan consumed the skull of Gul'dan and gained horrific powers and twisted demonic features. Kil'Jaeden, fearful the Lich King had grown too powerful, offered Illidan more power if he could destroy the Lich King. Illidan beckoned the naga for assistance. With their help Illidan found the Tomb of Sargeras and claimed the demonic avatar's remains. He traveled to Dalaran, and strengthened by the city's power, cast a spell to destroy the Lich King frozen in Northrend. Moments from victory, he was stopped by Maiev. He fled through the Dark Portal to the broken remnants of Draenor, now known as Outland.
Lordaeron and Quel'Thalas were toxic plaguelands. One group of survivors were elves led by Kael'thas Sunstrider. He called his people Blood Elves to honor their fallen. He allied with Illidan and the naga, and left for Outland.
Reeling from Illidan's spell, the Lich King Ner'zhul knew his time was short. His grip had slipped on the Scourge and half of the undead under his control were free. Led by Sylvanas, and calling themselves the Forsaken, they staged a coup for Lordaeron. Arthas, busy fighting them, was called to Northrend. He used Frostmourne to release Ner'zhul's enchanted helm. As he dawned the helm, Arthas Menethil and Ner'Zhul became no more. They fused into a being that was only the Lich King.
Thrall and his orcs settled in Kalimdor and named their new land Durotar after his father. The Horde was now a coalition dedicated to survival rather than conquest. They were joined by the Tauren and The Darkspear trolls, and allied with Sylvanas and her Forsaken. Jaina build the port city of Theramore and helped to form a tentative peace with the orcs. Her father arrived with the other half of his fleet. She faced the terrible choice to betray Thrall and the orcs or her father. She selflessly sided with peace and did not stop the orcs from destroying Daelin's fleet. Though they lost Lordaeron, and despite Dalaran sealing itself magically away from the world, the Alliance coalesced. The Dwarves of Ironforge, led by Magni Bronzebeard remained loyal, as did the Gnomes under High Tinker Mekkatorque. Stormwind, the last remaining human kingdom was ruled by the young Varian Wrynn. They were joined by the night elves who were still having conflicts with the Warsong Clan.
~Where this story ends, the World of Warcraft begins. It is in the making, and through its years, many things have come to pass. For more information, a play-through of all 3 Warcraft games is recommended. There are also several novels and comics that expand on the story. Browsing wowpedia.org is the quickest way to find out more about each character or event. I hope you enjoyed this brief (as brief as I could make it) overview of the History of Warcraft.
By Maelztrom, Thunderlord
I worked VERY hard on this, I hope you enjoyed it.
To Prove this is my Guide, i have included the following linked image: