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Know Your Lore: The Tinfoil Hat worgen edition

Matthew Rossi

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

While we certainly have heard quite a lot about the worgen lately, one thing we haven't really outlined in any detail is who and what they were and are, especially in light of the new revelations about them in the Gilneas starting zone. Our 2009 post was working with the information we had at that time. Since then, there's been a lot more revealed in the beta, and it's time to take a look at what we've discovered. Note: there will be so many spoilers for Cataclysm starting as soon as this sentence ends that you could eat them with a fork.

If you're not familiar with the Tinfoil Hat concept (as created by our own Anne Stickney), this week's KYL is going to take in-game lore as it currently exists and then jump around with it, making unfounded leaps of speculation as to what it might all mean.

First off, let's cover what we have found to not be entirely true: The worgen do not come from another world or dimension -- at least not originally.

Not all books are true

The Book of Ur does not contain the entire story. In fact, if it were not for the fact that the book was the means by which Archmage Arugal summoned forth the worgen who cursed the people of Gilneas, the book would be entirely discredited now. But it appears that Ur simply didn't understand what he was seeing when he first contacted the ancient worgen of the Druids of the Pack sect. Either he interpreted their dreams as they slept in their confinement beneath an ancient tree, or their spirits range the Emerald Dream doing battle with forces that would threaten it -- for after all, they were druids once and under the same druidic oath to protect it.

At any rate, mistaken or not, Ur's book did provide Arugal with the information he needed to draw worgen from their imprisonment and into the lands of Gilneas. In fact, I'm reminded of the Forsaken and their deliberate defiling of the Dor'danil barrow dens in Ashenvale. If Arugal did pull the spirits of sleeping proto-worgen from the Emerald Dream with the Book of Ur, it could explain why they, like the druids in Dor'danil cut off from their bodies, became so aggressive and malicious.

Of course, they didn't really need a crazy wizard from halfway across the world yanking their souls out of the endless prison they'd been confined to for that, because there was a reason they were confined their in the first place. They were crazy. I'm not talking crazy like "Ol' Matt Rossi's a tech eccentric with his beard jokes" crazy, I'm talking killing and eating your own pack leader crazy.

Faded Journal - excerpts
Day 23

Something strange has been happening of late. My brothers spend more and more time in pack form throughout the day. Many of them claim that it is a necessity to mastering the form, yet I feel that is not the sole reason.

An urge, primal in origin, grows inside of me. It is a desire that I can only sufficiently sate when I take on the pack form. I fear that the others feel it too.

Day 38

First time out of pack form in seven nights. Live as a wolf like others, from one night to next. Pack leader Thaldrus says night elf bodies are weak. All trust him. All follow him. If he saw me now, he would kill me.

Goldrinn's spirit consuming us. Fighting it feels just as wrong as giving in.

Day 42

Still taste pack leader Thaldrus' blood in my mouth.

Cannot recall details. Only remember Thaldrus taking Goldrinn's fang from fallen tree. Caught him dragging it into his den and--

<This part of the page is illegible due to blood stains>

Took two nights for Thaldrus to come out. We were waiting. Fangs and claws and rage. Tore him apart. Fur and flesh everywhere. Only gnawed bones afterward.

No leader now.

A bad company of wolves

What we learn from the faded journal illuminates the essential nature of these original worgen, former druids of the pack who first came into possession of a mysterious artifact they called Goldrinn's Fang and which would later be known to us as the Scythe of Elune. Despite warnings from Malfurion, the self-named Druids of the Pack used the artifact to meditate and focus their shapechanging abilities into a new form they called the "pack form," a melding of humanoid and wolf familiar to us as the skulking form of modern worgen. While things went well at first, over time, these druids lost themselves to the furious bloodlust of their new form and could not remember their origins.

At least some druids, like Gaedrin Moonfang (the writer of the faded journal quoted above), retained some hint of their original selves. These druids were eventually found by Ralaar Fangfire, a druid who had somehow managed to retain more control of himself.

Faded Journal - excerpts
As one we encircled him, yet the intruder held his ground. I smelled not a hint of fear on him, despite the fact that he remained in night elf form. His arrogance was quite infuriating.

Three of my enraged brothers charged Ralaar, and the newcomer took on the pack form and bested the challengers with little effort... yet he did not kill them.

In that instant I became aware of a difference between him and us. We had become savages... scarred, lean, and disheveled. Ralaar, however, was powerful, majestic, and still rife with Goldrinn's essence.

When no others dared challenge him, Ralaar took on his night elf form and spoke. In a tirade that reminded me of Malfurion, he berated us for becoming mindless animals and squandering what he referred to as the purity of Goldrinn's essence. Yet unlike my former shan'do, Ralaar also promised to teach us the true path to harnessing the wolf ancient's spirit. I sensed tremendous rage in his voice, tempered by a self control that I had somehow lost in recent weeks.

One by one we all left our pack forms. I can only guess that my brethren, like I, felt a strange affinity to this newcomer, as if he were a messenger of Goldrinn himself.

Ralaar has since begun teaching us as he had promised, though he no longer answers to his given name.

Rather, he now refers to himself simply as Alpha Prime.

One of the interesting things we learn is that, although Gaedrin Moonfang speaks of the war with the Satyr as a reason for continuing the ways of the druids of the pack, it also appears likely that there were worgen or proto-worgen druids in Gilneas. This is interesting because it means there were night elves in the Eastern Kingdoms after the Sundering but before the return of the Burning Legion allowed the free exchange of peoples from Kalimdor and back. The quest Tal'doren, the Wild Home seems most clearly to indicate that at some point, night elf druids of the pack lived in Gilneas itself.

Suspicious synchronicity

This level of coincidence is pretty astonishing. Arugal, thousands of years later, finds and settles into the forest of Silverpine, just north of where the ancient druid of the pack stronghold Tal'doren resides, and uses the Book of Ur to summon worgen? Perhaps it's not coincidence at all. The quest text states that the druids of the pack were imprisoned by the other druids beneath a tree identical to Tal'doren. Well, Tal'doren is identical to itself, is it not? It seems likely that Arugal pulled the spirits of the sleeping druids from the nearest possible source, doesn't it?

When considering this possibility, also consider that Gilneas, even before the coming of night elves as the worgen curse unfolds, has a druidic tradition of its own with human druids. Celestine of the Harvest will later be found as another worgen in Stormwind City, as the resident druid trainer, but before she was cursed, she was merely a Gilnean woman -- and as a Gilnean woman (a human, just as a native of Stormwind or Lordaeron would have been), she calls herself a druid unquestioningly.

Where would the humans of Gilneas, an isolationist nation which sealed its walls well before the Third War, have gotten druidic lore from? Clearly, they couldn't have learned it from the night elves who joined the Alliance after that war, because Gilneas remained sealed even as the worgen curse raged through it. Furthermore, Celestine says that the druids of Gilneas saved the land from famine after the Greymane Wall sealed the nation up directly following the Second War, at least a decade before the Third War. There were no night elves in Gilneas to teach Celestine the arts she and others used to help save the kingdom from famine -- and yet there they are, unquestionably, there.

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