He isn't a faction leader. He isn't an important NPC, he doesn't offer any quests. He doesn't even offer any flavor text if you happen to click on him -- he simply stands aboard the Skybreaker, letting other NPCs do all the grunt work of handing out quests and tasks for players. He didn't make an appearance in Cataclysm, nor was he anywhere to be found in Mists of Pandaria. To those who simply play World of Warcraft, completing quests and moving on, he is a nobody -- a peculiar NPC that happens to have a name, standing silent and without any apparent purpose at all.
Yet despite not actually appearing in the expansion, he was the draenei paladin featured in the cinematic for The Burning Crusade. He has his own impressive, deluxe action figure from the DC Unlimited series. And it was revealed at BlizzCon that he will play a major role in the Warlords expansion -- one of a few draenei mentioned specifically by name. So just who is Vindicator Maraad, and why does he rate all this attention?
Truth be told, there isn't a lot of information out there about Maraad. As a draenei, it can be assumed he's just as long-lived as the rest of his kind -- it's noted in the short story Prophet's Lesson that Maraad has "seen scores of worlds and warred against the Burning Legion in endless conflict." It's clear from what little information we do have regarding Maraad that he was definitely on Draenor before it was shattered into Outland -- and may very well have been around long before the draenei even arrived on Draenor in the first place. But Maraad isn't really known for his deeds during this time -- it's the rest of his family that is noteworthy.
Maraad's sister, who has never been referenced by name, was an unfortunate draenei woman who was captured by Gul'dan at some point during the escalating violence between draenei and orc prior to the original opening of the Dark Portal. She was bred with one of Gul'dan's warriors, and the resulting child from that union was half-orc, half-draenei, magically aged, and bound to the Shadow Council by magical means. This child, ugly and deformed to the orcs, was Garona Halforcen -- who in later years would believe that she was half-human due to her appearance.
And although Maraad's lost sister most certainly died some time after Garona was born, Maraad somehow learned of his niece's existence and vowed to find her. It was a journey that would go on for years and span across two worlds, until Maraad finally arrived on Azeroth and found her at last. He was surprised to discover that not only did he have a niece, he had a great-nephew -- Med'an, the son of Garona and Medivh. Med'an was ridiculously talented, and showed an affinity for the Light -- a subject Maraad was more than familiar with and happy to tutor the boy in.
Azeroth, Wrath, and the Exodar
Maraad was asked to be one of the founding members of the new Council of Tirisfal, created to combat Cho'gall's plans in Silithus during the Warcraft comics series and set just as the events of Wrath of the Lich King were coming into play. The Council chose Med'an to act as the new Guardian of Tirisfal, channeling their powers into the boy and allowing him to defeat Cho'gall for good -- or so it was thought at the time. Maraad continued to tutor Med'an for a brief time, but when the call came to battle in Northrend, he chose to answer that call and serve at the side of the Alliance.
That's where players find Vindicator Maraad in game -- silently, stoically stationed aboard the Skybreaker, presumably helping the Valiance Expedition with whatever tasks they were carrying out in Icecrown. It's where he continued to serve until the war against the Lich King ended in a resounding victory, the Alliance triumphant. It's where he continued to serve until news of the Cataclysm reached the northern lands and he chose, at last, to return to the Exodar.
He arrived to find the startling sight of human refugee camps surrounding the place. The refugees had come from the Eastern Kingdoms seeking both refuge and some sort of clarity from the mysterious draenei leader who could reportedly see the future. Certainly the poor and destitute of humanity could use his guiding hand in the wake of the cataclysm's devastation. But the Prophet was seeing no one -- no one other than Prince Anduin Wrynn, his chosen student.
Maraad wanted to return to Outland. And without the Prophet's input on the matter, the Triumvirate agreed that perhaps this was the best decision. The sound of the Exodar's engines coming to life spurred a riot from the refugee camps, who assumed that the draenei were deserting the Alliance, deserting Azeroth, and taking the Prophet with them. Maraad fought alongside the Exodar Peacekeepers, unwilling to resort to violence -- but it became a necessity when the rioting refugees began attacking the draenei.
Velen arrived at last, breaking up the fighting and proclaiming that the draenei would remain on Azeroth. While Maraad was the only draenei bold enough to tell Velen that they should instead return to Outland, he was left with the Prophet's final words on the matter to consider:
I tell you this: our war is everywhere. In every deed and breath. We must prepare the people of this world to stand together. We must be their example to rally against evil. In service we will awaken them all to form the ultimate alliance against the dark.
All this explains what Maraad has done, the notable members of his family. But who is Vindicator Maraad?
We don't know a lot about Maraad. But in a way, Maraad is a distilled representation of the draenei race -- a character with a seemingly fascinating background that hasn't really been fleshed out beyond a few key events, one that hasn't really seen much in the way of development beyond a couple of stories that didn't take place in the game itself. And while we don't have some sort of confirmed, firm vision of Maraad, those few shining moments that he's appeared have given us a blurry glimpse of what kind of character he could potentially be.
He lost his sister to the orc clans, so we can assume that he bears little love for the orcish race. But we also know that despite whatever grief he may have experienced regarding his sister's fate, despite the appalling thought of his kin being used as nothing more than a vessel for a halfbreed child, Maraad went out of his way to find that child -- searching for years to find her. Along the way, he discovered that she was under Gul'dan's control, and that only spurred him further in his search.
We know that he embraced and welcomed Med'an as kin, despite his unusual mixed heritage -- enough to take the boy on a trip to Outland in an effort to protect him from harm. We know that Maraad apparently became friends with Archmage Khadgar at some point after the events of Beyond the Dark Portal, close enough that Khadgar recognizes him on sight.
We know that Maraad served during the war in Northrend -- something that we rarely saw because, as players see in the Borean Tundra, the Alliance are leery of letting the draenei help. While this is later revealed to be partially the fault of manipulation by the Cult of the Damned, Maraad somehow managed to slip by these reservations and not only prove himself, but prove himself enough to be stationed in Icecrown. And we know that Maraad viewed the war against the Lich King as a necessary fight against darkness -- but also that he's seen scores of worlds, warred against the Burning Legion, and lived to survive. Northrend, Azeroth ... it pales in comparison.
Who is Vindicator Maraad? He is one member of a race that is almost impossibly, incomprehensibly ancient. Generations of humans have been born, lived full, healthy lives and died of old age in the span of Maraad's lifetime. And as with most of the rest of his race, Maraad is absolutely dedicated to wiping out the darkness of the Burning Legion and bringing Light, prosperity, and peace to the universe. Yet Maraad doesn't let the enormity of his task or his tremendous lifespan overshadow the simpler things in the world -- the bond between family, the call of the Light, the need to serve.
Maraad is a man who sees what is right and just in the universe, and strives to uphold those values any way that he can. He has experienced utmost sorrow, seen worlds laid to waste by the Burning Legion's armies, lived through the hatred and bloodshed of the orcish uprising on Draenor, saw the planet he once called home shattered by chaos and darkness, and lived to tell the tale. He is a man of few words, but he will not hesitate to use those words to get straight to the point -- even if it means speaking out against the Prophet himself.
Yet he is a man who will ultimately heed the words of that Prophet, silently watch the war rage on, shoulder his burdens and continue to do what he can to make things right. Because Maraad understands what all draenei understand -- we are all small pieces of an intricate puzzle, beacons of Light waiting to be unleashed upon the endless dark. And he will soldier on, because no matter how heavy the burden, nothing will stand in the way of Maraad seeing that day come to pass.
Maraad isn't just a Vindicator -- as a character, he is representative of the draenei as a whole. A race that has experienced untold suffering, exile, prejudice, and bore the brunt of their quiet shame: the knowledge that the banners borne by that billowing cloud of darkness that threatens the universe are carried by none other than those that they once called kin. A race that has quietly taken its place at the side of the Alliance, waiting for their story to fully be told. In Warlords, we'll at last see that story -- and Maraad's -- come to light.
While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.