Sometimes (especially for new roleplayers), finding a reason for your character to be wandering around Azeroth can be a challenge. It's not just a matter of what has happened in that character's personal lifetime; it's also a matter of how he relates to the current events of the day, how he reacts to those big developments in his racial history. With the launch of Cataclysm, there is suddenly a lot more story to deal with, and for new players, or even returning players rolling a new character, it's a lot to take in.
While timelines are all well and good for getting your character caught up to what has gone before, there's also a lot of current material that can be used to further a character's progress. In between all that new Cataclysm material, there are all kinds of opportunities for storylines and plot points that can help spark roleplay. To that end, we're going to start a new miniseries tackling each race in turn until we've got everyone caught up to speed. Today's topic: the Forsaken -- a relatively new race on Azeroth that has a ton of new story and lore going on in the wake of Cataclysm's devastation.
The Forsaken and the Horde
Those players who missed the Wrath of the Lich King expansion missed some major events in the Forsaken storyline -- mainly the Wrathgate and the Battle for the Undercity. While you can still catch the Wrathgate cinematic, the Battle for the Undercity is no longer playable in game.
What happened: At the battle for the Wrathgate, both Horde and Alliance forces were suddenly attacked by renegade Forsaken led by Grand Apothecary Putress. While Putress was busy spreading the new Forsaken plague amongst the living, Sylvanas' second-in-command, Varimathras, was busy booting the banshee queen from the Undercity and taking it over in a political coup.
Putress' actions at the Wrathgate killed thousands of Alliance and Horde, most notably Bolvar Fordragon, a hero of the Alliance and a brother in all but blood to King Varian Wrynn. His death was the spark that lit the roaring flames of hatred between Alliance and Horde and ended pretty much all hope of a peaceful alliance between the two sides. Whether Putress was truly working on his own or at Sylvanas' behest is still unclear; while Sylvanas claimed that he was working against her, she has been known to support the development of the plague.
Thrall and Sylvanas led a direct attack on the Undercity, killing Varimathras and reclaiming the Forsaken's home; however, a confrontation between Thrall and Varian Wrynn in the depths of the city ended in near disaster. While Sylvanas has been returned to her rightful throne, Kor'kron guards have replaced the old Undercity guards, to keep an eye on the city in the event of another uprising.
How this affects your character: As it stands right now, the Forsaken are in the doghouse with the rest of the Horde. While Sylvanas denies any involvement with the development of the new plague, the Horde -- most notably new Warchief Garrosh Hellscream -- don't trust her or her subjects. As far as your character is concerned, this means there is an almost automatic animosity from the other Horde races that can be expected. Speaking to any of the Kor'kron guards in the Undercity will give you an idea of what the Horde thinks.
What to consider: When pondering the current plight of your Forsaken character, consider how he feels about the actions surrounding the Wrathgate. Was he a silent supporter of Putress? Was he an avid follower of Sylvanas? Is he angry about the Horde's stance on the Forsaken, or does he simply shrug it off and go on with his life -- er, unlife? Is he truly a follower of the Horde or simply working for them because it's something to do?
Sylvanas and her intentions
What happened: After the death of the Lich King, the banshee queen was left with the ponderous decision of what to do next for her people. Part of the problem of being a Forsaken is that, as undead, the Forsaken cannot procreate. Prior to the Lich King's death, the Forsaken were former residents of Lordaeron and the surrounding areas that fell and were raised as Scourge by the Lich King, then later broke free of his hold. With no Lich King, there are no new Scourge -- and with no new Scourge, there are no new Forsaken. Left to their own devices, the Forsaken would gradually die out.
Sylvanas came up with a plan to combat this. She made a deal with the val'kyr, former servants of the Lich King. While nobody really knows the extent of the deal made, what we do know is this: The val'kyr are capable of creating new Forsaken from the corpses of the fallen. While some retain their intelligence, others are just mindless servants to Sylvanas. Although some Forsaken are all right with this plan, others are downright angry at Sylvanas for forging an alliance with a race they know nothing about.
How this affects your character: The subject of racial procreation is generally considered as a good thing -- wanting your species to continue to thrive and live on well into future generations. For the Forsaken, however, it could be good, could be bad, depending on how your character feels about being a Forsaken. After all, you're looking at a character who was raised from the dead. He may not wish that fate on anyone else, or he may think that Sylvanas' research is a pretty good idea and the future of the Forsaken race should be ensured.
What to consider: What does your character think about Sylvanas' making a deal with former servants of the Lich King? Is it something he is okay with, or does it smack too closely to making a deal with the Lich King himself? How does he feel about being Forsaken in general -- is it a fate he is glad that others share, or does he wish that the Forsaken would simply die out, a tragic footnote in the annals of history?
Gilneas and you
What happened: As a result of the fallout from the Battle for the Undercity, Sylvanas is trying to regain her good graces with the rest of the Horde. To that end, she seeks to take over Gilneas -- a port town in a good location for the Horde forces. Forsaken forces are sent alongside Horde forces into Gilneas to try and claim it for the Forsak -- er, for the Horde, of course -- and countless Forsaken die out on the fields and in combat against the worgen of Gilneas.
Despite the supposed attempts to get in the Horde's good graces, there are several references slipped by Sylvanas that suggest she may have some sort of ulterior motive for what she's doing, although that motive is unknown.
How this affects your character: Your character, if leveling in Silverpine, is one of those Forsaken being sent out in combat. In addition, any recently raised Forsaken may not be former citizens of Lordaeron -- they may be former residents of Gilneas who escaped the worgen curse, died, and were subsequently raised by the val'kyr. These former Gilneans are now fighting their former family and friends.
What to consider: Where did your Forsaken come from? If he's a former Gilnean, how does he feel about being sent to fight against the residents of his former home? If he is simply a Forsaken with no ties to Gilneas, how does he feel about Sylvanas trying to regain her reputation with the Horde? Does he feel it's a waste of time or something that must be done? In particular, how does he feel about being sent into combat, possibly dying out there, when Sylvanas seems so concerned about preserving the longevity of her people?
Forsaken versus ... Forsaken?
What happened: This is a little out of the box, but bear with me, because the potential here is interesting. In game currently, we have two different "types" of Forsaken -- there are those who broke free of the Lich King's grasp, and there are those who were raised by the val'kyr. One experienced horrible amounts of suffering due to the plague that razed Lordaeron in Warcraft III; the other is simply a corpse that may have died in combat, may have died in the wars in Northrend, or may have simply died in a field somewhere, retrieved to be resurrected by the val'kyr. The contrast between these two types makes an interesting potential hook for roleplay.
How this affects your character: Which type of Forsaken is your character? How does he feel about the other side? Sylvanas isn't just creating new Forsaken; she's creating a whole new breed of Forsaken, as it were -- and while some retain their memories and their sense of self will, there are plenty of others who swear themselves to Sylvanas, mindlessly and without hesitation, with no apparent care or feeling for their former lives.
What to consider: Forget about how your character views the Horde and how the Horde views your character for a moment -- what about how you view the others of your race? Which type of Forsaken are you? How do you view the other type? Are the val'kyr-created Forsaken not really "real" Forsaken in your character's eyes? If you're a val'kyr-created Forsaken, how do you view the rest of Forsaken society? The original Forsaken had no choice in how they were created, but the val'kyr-created do, to a degree -- they can choose to join with Sylvanas, or they can choose to simply walk off and die. Obviously your Forsaken chose life; what made him do it?
Forsaken characters can be amazingly complex, if given enough background to work with. Not only is their life after death taken into consideration, but their life while they were alive can also play a part into what kind of creatures they are today. Whether angry and bitter about their fate, resigned and complacent, or simply trying to make the best of a bad situation, the plight of the sentient undead is interesting. Even if your character isn't the most sympathetic of creatures, the thoughts and motivations behind that Forsaken can be fascinating to play around with.
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