In the Borean Tundra! That's where it starts, anyway. There's certainly Gnome lore, and it starts at the Fizzcrank Airstrip in the very northern reaches of the Tundra. No, you're not retaking Gnomeregan or anything like that, but there's definitely a lot of history in what you see. Following Gnomish tradition, the story has a distinct fantasy feel laced with whimsical sci-fi.
I heard we were going to interact with Arthas a lot in Northrend. Is that true?
Yes. Very much yes. Wrath doesn't pull any punches as far as thrusting you right into the story. You'll be running into the Lich King very quickly after you reach Northrend shores. The Alliance starts seeing him a bit earlier if you quest in the Howling Fjord, but it evens out.
Tirion Fordring is an Alliance town in Wrath, but he was a neutral character before. Does the Horde get the shaft or something? We want to interact with him, too.
Tirion Fordring does indeed make an appearance in one of the Alliance newbie zones, but he doesn't sit still very long. He has his intro, and then moves on to bigger and better things. Both factions will be interacting with him in a very epic way when we meet up with the Argent Crusade in Icecrown.
So I hear a lot about these vrykul guys. What the heck are they?
The vrykul are a race of humanoid giants that are very viking-esque. 'Giant' may be the wrong word because WoW already has giants and these aren't them. They're very very big humanoids with ties to the Titans. They're ruled by their king, King Ymiron. They're a very ancient race that have been 'hibernating' for the last... uh, really long time. They've only recently started to wake up, and see the Lich King as a Death God of sorts. They now live in his service, and the strongest of the vrykul fight at Valhal become the Ymirjar, the Lich King's personal servants. Those found unworthy become the Vargul, sort of the clunky, ghoulish undead version of the vrykul.
That leads into another question that's been asked of the WoW Insider crew pretty often...
That sounds pretty Norse-influenced. Is there a lot of that in Northrend, or is it limited to the vrykul?
Northrend is very, very heavily influenced by Norse mythology. The Vrykul are the most blatant examples. The Ymirjar are the Einherjar, Valhal is Valhalla, and the Lich King also employs the Val'kyr, which are valkyries. It's a pretty blatant lift, but it's also pretty awesome. I'm not going to complain. It definitely extends beyond that as well. The Titans are heavily based on Norse gods and deities. For example, two of the Titans we learn of in Northrend are Loken and Freya, based on Loki and Freyja. It extends beyond that, but those are the biggest examples. You'll see a lot of it.
So what's up with the Dragons in Northrend? I know Malygos is acting weird, but I heard the Black Dragons have joined Alexstrasza's alliance, the Wyrmrest Accord? What's up with that?
Wyrmrest Temple is a sacred place for all dragons. It's sort of a sanctuary. You know how the Horde and the Alliance aren't supposed to fight in Shattrath? Wyrmrest Keep/Temple is a lot like that for dragons. The Blue Dragonflight isn't welcome anymore because they've broken the peace accord and attacked the Temple. A representative of the Black Dragonflight is there, begrudgingly agreeing to peace. Likely for survival or their own gains, but Alexstrasza sees fit to at least allow a representative of the Blacks. The Black Dragons definitely have something going on though, considering the Obsidian Sanctum portion of the Temple is one of our new raid zones...
So Malygos attacked the Wyrmrest Temple? What's up with that? Has he lost his mind?
Yes and no. You learn a lot about what he's doing while questing in the Dragonblight. He's very extreme in his methods, but he's decided there's no other way. Even the Kirin Tor and the Red Dragonflight agree with Malygos to some extent. They agree magic is out of control and something needs to be done to reign it in. Malygos is just of the opinion it needs to be forcefully taken away from all mortals, not simply controlled better. His methods are causing a little too much death for Alexstrasza's liking and obviously the Kirin Tor are Malygos' top targets.
So is Malygos evil? Yeah, his methods are very much wrong and the related quests will drive that point home. He has his reasons and they make total sense to him given Azeroth's history, but it's not something the Kirin Tor and the Red Dragonflight can let him get away with, even if they would've agreed with him had he been less extreme.
Do we see anymore of those Faceless Ones we saw in Warcraft III?
Yep! The Faceless Ones are servants of the Old God Yogg-Saron, who seems to be directly at odds with the Scourge and the Lich King. Yogg-Saron might also have ties to the Nightmare in the Emerald Dream... but you'll have to do the quests and find out for sure, won't you?
This is only a handful of the things people have really been interested in seeing. There is a crapton (that's a metric unit of measurement I think) that's going on in Northrend. This is quite seriously just a teaser. Here's a tip for you guys: Explore every corner of every zone eventually. Even if you don't cover entire zones from 70-80, go back later and do it. You'll find stories tucked away everywhere.