Note: This post contains spoilers. If you read this post, you may be mildly spoiled.
The Old Gods are legendary parts of WoW. You've got C'Thun hanging out in southern Azeroth, whose unblinking eye stares balefully across the world. Those of us who were part of the Northrend expedition certainly encountered Yogg-Saron. Heck, many of us got so familiar with Yogg-Saron that we made armor out of his blood and danced around Icecrown Citadel in our favorite made-from-death-god prom outfits.
The Old Gods are a defining part of the World of Warcraft experience. They are unmistakeably influenced by the Lovecraft mythos, wherein ancient gods from the stars balefully disregard the lives of humans. (Remind you of a certain heavenly-bodied heroic boss fight?) An equally important part of the mythos, however, is the unknowable, abyssal fathoms of the ocean's deeps. This is a world where humans can not tread, where light does not shine, and where we can not know what exists.
That makes the sprawling underwater realm of Vashj'ir perfect for extending the story of the Old Gods. It is deep beneath the surface of an unexplored ocean. Only the magic of the Earthen Ring allows you to exist and explore this area where naga and unknowable things lurk.
One of the most clear hints to the Old Gods come when you're inhabiting a naga battlemaiden's body in your Visions of the Past: Rise from the Deep. Just when it seems that the vrykul may defeat the naga forces, something horrible appears from the bottomless ocean. These Cthulu-esque monstrosities come to your aid, responding to some distant summoning ritual. The quest text isn't thorough in explaining the source of these Deep Fiends at the time you first perform it, but you can't miss the fact that they look just like the Festering Prince. There is more about the Deep Fiends to be discovered.
Of course, the bigger news for Lovecraft fans might be the appearance of the demigods Nespirah and L'ghorek. These beings are so huge that hundreds of people can gallivant inside them. The story hook is that the naga are harvesting pearls from these monstrosities with the eventual plan of harnessing their immense power for war against Neptulon. When you free Nespirah from her naga captors, you are warned to flee as quickly as you can; something horrible is about to be unleashed. While it's more likely that Nespirah and L'ghorek are members of Team Neptulon than any Azerothian Old God, their design is a definite nod to Lovecraft's cosmic mythos.
The lore of Vashj'ir is exciting and interesting. These first hints of old gods make the future very exciting, with even further opportunity to explore the conflict between the old gods and the Titans.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.