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All the World's a Stage: So you want to roleplay a worgen

Anne Stickney

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.

Cataclysm brought us two new races to roleplay -- for the Horde, it's goblins, and for the Alliance, it's the enigmatic worgen. These new races have the dubious honor of being creatures we've already encountered. We've been dealing with the goblins and the Steamwheedle Cartel for years, ever since the launch of World of Warcraft. The worgen are essentially human beings, a race we've played ever since the beginnings of the Warcraft games.

Each new race, however, has its own host of unique characteristics that sets it apart from the humans and goblins we're familiar with. In the case of the worgen, most of what we know about their history and their current situation can be discovered through the worgen starting experience, but for roleplayers, that might not be enough to build a character around. Today, we're going to go over the basics of being a worgen -- where the worgen came from, what you can do with them, and what realistically just wouldn't fit, character-wise, with worgen lore.

Worgen origins

This is explained fully in the worgen starting experience, so I'm not going to go into major amounts of detail here -- consider this a very rough summary, OK? The first worgen originated with a group of night elf druids who were playing around with an aspect of the druidic arts -- mainly by following the teachings of Goldrinn the wolf Ancient rather than the teachings of Cenarius. This was pretty unsafe, as the Ancient Goldrinn was a feral, wild spirit, and his followers usually ended up losing their minds to his savage nature. This was considered way too risky by Malfurion Stormrage's tastes -- he ordered these druids, the Druids of the Pack, to stop what they were doing.

The druids, on the other hand, didn't agree with this assessment at all. When they shapeshifted into worgen, losing themselves entirely in the process, it was decided that they needed to be locked away. So they were put into eternal slumber deep beneath a tree, and the Druids of the Pack were never spoken of again -- until now. Night elf roleplayers as a rule won't really "remember" the worgen unless they happened to be a druid that lived during this time, which would put that night elf at about 10,000 years of age.

Reports are mixed as to what happened next. There are stories that speak of a mage named Arugal, who summoned the worgen back to the waking world. Needless to say, they were decidedly cranky about this and set about chomping on people left and right. The bitten were transformed into worgen, an affliction that is now called the curse of the worgen. But there are also tales of Velinde Starsong, a night elf who discovered an artifact called the Scythe of Elune and used it to summon and control the worgen.

There were several misconceptions about the worgen at first, early quests and quest items share impressions of the worgen that are incorrect in light of what we know now. Arugal and the magician Ur, who wrote the book that Arugal used for summoning, were under the impression that the worgen were from another dimension; so was Velinde Starsong,
the night elf who used the Scythe of Elune to summon the worgen to her in an effort to cleanse Felwood. The Scythe also plays a big part in the worgen starting experience.

Some sources for more information on the original worgen curse can be found here:
  • Faded Journal This is a random drop from the worgen attacking Gilneas, but you can read it on Wowhead as well.
  • Curse of the Worgen This comic series goes into the history of the worgen, and it's an excellent read. You can find it at your local comic shop, or you can order it online if there are no comic shops nearby.
  • Know Your Lore: The Ancients A brief history of the night elf Ancients, including Goldrinn.
The quests involving Arugal, the Book of Ur, and Velinde Starsong have been removed, but you can still find the relevant journals on Wowhead:
  • The Book of Ur The magician Ur's original impressions of the worgen.
  • Velinde's Journal The journal of Velinde Starsong, in which she writes about receiving the Scythe of Elune and meeting the worgen.
  • Jitters' Completed Journal This is a journal written by a man in Duskwood who happened across the Scythe some time after Velinde's mysterious disappeared.
While these three documents aren't really "truthful" in terms of accuracy, they do give roleplayers an idea of what the general reaction to worgen was prior to Cataclysm's release.

Gilneans and the worgen of Cataclysm

The worgen that are now playable, however, are a different matter entirely. While the original worgen were these night elves, you on the other hand are a Gilnean who has been bitten by a worgen -- perhaps a worgen who was one of the night elves, or perhaps another former Gilnean who was afflicted with the curse. As a Gilnean, your history is entirely different from that of the original worgen from thousands of years ago.

The kingdom of Gilneas was part of the original Alliance back during the Second War, but after the Alliance's victory over the orcs, Gilneas as a kingdom withdrew from the Alliance. It's been about 20 to 25 years since the Second War (the timeline for Warcraft lore is notoriously iffy), but most adults living in Gilneas should remember the Second War and what occurred, although they may have been children at that time.

The important part is this: King Genn Greymane was a proud, often arrogant man, and so were his people. Gilneas was one of the most powerful human nations in the world at that time. It was well equipped to take care of itself, and Greymane knew it. So did everyone else who lived in Gilneas. Greymane agreed to join the Alliance, but he complained constantly about it, because it was costing his kingdom money and resources, and his kingdom wasn't even under direct attack from the encroaching Horde.

When the war was over, the orcs were put into internment camps, and that's the main reason Greymane withdrew from the Alliance. He saw no point in sinking money and resources into keeping an enemy alive and had no wish to spend his kingdom's fortune on those kingdoms that had been shattered by the war. Shortly after withdrawing from the Alliance, he ordered the construction of the Greymane wall. This wall prevented anyone outside of Gilneas from getting in -- but it also prevented anyone in Gilneas from getting out.

While some Gilneans were OK with this, some were entirely against it, and when the worgen curse began to spread, more and more unhappy people began to let their king know about it. A civil war broke out, with many Gilneans caught in the middle -- and of course, during all of this, the Gilnean people were dealing with the worgen that had mysteriously appeared and begun chomping people left and right.

What you should keep in mind as a Gilnean
  • Gilneans are in general a proud, arrogant people -- but as of late, they've discovered that they aren't as self-sufficient as they'd like to believe and may have a more humble attitude.
  • King Genn Greymane is extremely apologetic for what he did in the past. The Greymane wall was an obvious mistake. He wants nothing but what's best for Gilneas and the tattered remains of his people, now.
One of the more fascinating aspects to play with is this: As a Gilnean, you have essentially been lost in time for around 20 years or so according to the Warcraft timeline. Most of the important events that are happening today are completely foreign to you.
  • You have never seen a night elf before meeting the ones in the worgen starting experience. Night elves didn't join the Alliance until the Third War -- long after Gilneas stuck itself behind that wall.
  • Likewise, draenei are completely foreign to you. Matter of fact, the thought of traveling to other worlds like Outland is probably difficult to comprehend.
  • You weren't aware of the rise of the Lich King. You may have vague memories of Terenas Menethil, but you weren't aware of his death at the hands of his son.
  • The whole mess with Varian Wrynn and Onyxia? Yeah, you don't really know anything about that, either.
  • The war with the Lich King and the victory in Northrend completely passed you by. Yes, from a game standpoint you can go back and play through it if you like -- consider it a gift from the Bronze Dragonflight. Timelines between Cataclysm, Outland and Northrend are screwed up, and Blizzard knows about it.
  • You have never seen a troll or a tauren. You may have seen a blood elf at one point in time or another, but back then, they were high elves that had nothing to do with fel magic.
  • The Forsaken are basically the undead remains of your former neighbors. They are likely horrifying to you.
Loads to play with, isn't there? And that doesn't even take into account the effects of the worgen curse. Here are some other resources about Gilneans and the time line surrounding the Second War:
How do you solve a problem like Gilneans?

The points listed above are all possible things you want to keep in mind while creating a backstory for your worgen, but as with anything else, it's entirely open to interpretation on the roleplayer's end of things. Your character can be a Gilnean of old attitudes -- proud, arrogant, aggravatingly self-sufficient and extremely proud of it. Your character can be a Gilnean who has been humbled by the devastation of your former home. You can make yours a vengeful Gilnean who wants the Forsaken dead and Gilneas returned to its former glory at all costs.

You can be thankful that the night elves stepped in and are currently trying to help your people deal with the worgen curse. Or you can be a very, very bitter Gilnean who is ticked off about the fact that these strange, alien people from another continent decided to muck around with unusual magic in the first place and, in the process, set up a series of events that ultimately messed everything up. You can be the bewildered and shocked Gilnean who's just realized that the world hasn't revolved around you and that there's a ton of history to catch up on. Or you can treat the passing of time with nonchalant bravado -- after all, you are a Gilnean. You can handle anything thrown your way.

The possibilities are endless.

What if I'm not Gilnean?

This is a little tricky to address, but let me make it as plain as possible: All current playable worgen in game came from behind that great huge honking wall that went splat when Deathwing fluttered his fancy way into the world. The only exception to this are worgen death knights, who were former slaves of Arugal that managed to break free and get themselves killed and resurrected by Arthas. You can read more about worgen death knights and their origination in a Know Your Lore from a month or so back.

Is it possible to roleplay a worgen as a citizen of Lordaeron or Stormwind? Yes, it could be argued that traveling adventurers that scampered their way into Shadowfang Keep got themselves bitten and managed to come down with a case of the worgens. Is it possible to play another race as worgen? To put it bluntly -- no. The case could be argued for night elves, but there are no playable night elf worgen in game; they all exist as NPCs. There are no draenei worgen, there are no gnome worgen, and there are no dwarf worgen; these races weren't part of Gilneas.

When push comes to shove, though, it's a matter of roleplaying taste. You could try to play a draenei worgen, but it's likely that other roleplayers are going to look at you funny or flat-out refuse to roleplay with you. When you're roleplaying a race -- even one that seems to be an offshoot of an existing race like the human/worgen connection -- you want to keep the lore of that race in mind. Stepping too far out of existing lore is kind of a recipe for disaster. You could do it, sure, but other roleplayers may not be as accepting of your character's "unique" qualities, leaving you with nobody to roleplay with.

And in the end, why would you want to? The Gilnean people have such a rich, vivid history that roleplaying a Gilnean, much less a worgen, is a fascinating concept in and of itself. There are literally millions of scenarios that you can fiddle with until your character is perfect, countless ways you can make them unique within the context of the lore. Sure, we haven't heard anything from Gilneans in years -- but that's exactly what makes them so interesting. Keep that in mind when you're constructing your character. Have fun, and go wild!

All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. Let us help you imagine what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying or even RP on a non-RP realm!

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