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All the World's a Stage: Timeline Q&A

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. Have questions about roleplaying, or roleplaying issues? Email me -- I'm always open to suggestions!

Over the last several weeks we've been going over character timelines as presented in the Warcraft RPG source books. While the life spans listed in the RPG books may or may not be canon -- it hasn't been given a definite yes or no from the story department over at Blizzard -- they still provide a good reference point for players looking to fit their characters into the Warcraft timeline.

More importantly, it serves as a good leaping off point for new players that aren't quite sure where to start -- how old to make their character, what that character would have lived through, or just how the timelines themselves line up. While there are discrepancies here and there within the timeline, hopefully this series helped new players with an overview of what happened when as far as the lore is concerned. Today we're going to answer a few of the questions generated by all this timeline review; some lore related, some timeline related, and some related to character development.

Amaxe asks:

Might I suggest a timeline showing more or less where the books etc fit into the Blizz timeline?

We've actually got one of those over on Know Your Lore! Part one of the Lore 101 series goes over different resources for Warcraft Lore, including all novels listed in chronological order.

QM asks:

I have a question. Is there any significant data on the 20 or so years before the First War?

Not as much as you'd think. Prior to the First War and the Old Horde's arrival on Azeroth, the world was a pretty safe place to be. Sure you had little scuffles here and there between trolls, elves and humans, and occasional attempts at Burning Legion takeovers, but nothing as major as the events that began with the fateful day Medivh opened the Dark Portal and let the orcs pour through.

There is some relatively minor information regarding Medivh's past in the novel The Last Guardian, but most of the novel concerns itself with events in the First War. Looking up Aegwynn on Wowpedia wouldn't be a bad idea either -- although keep in mind Aegwynn was not only Medivh's mother, she was a Guardian, and she lived for far, far longer than human beings are supposed to.

Zweitblom asks:

I have a somewhat off-tangent question concerning Night Elf druids. If I recall correctly, there were no female Night Elf druids before the Third War. If we consider the very short time-span female Druids had to learn their arts then, are all female Druids to be seen as apprentice-level druids? I recently got into an argument about that with a female 'Archdruidess'...

There are actually two female Arch Druids in lore right now. One is Arch Druid Elerethe Renferal, who players may have encountered in Alterac Valley. She has a couple of quests, one of which is to summon Ivus the Forest Lord -- something most players these days have never really pondered doing during a typical AV match. She also played a small role in the novel The Shattering, and was killed in the book. So in lore, she's no longer alive, in game, she's still around. The other is Arch Druid Lilliandra, who helps players looking to save Crusader Bridenbrad in Icecrown by opening a portal to Moonglade.

To really answer your question, we need to toss aside the issue of gender and look at what specifically makes an Arch Druid. An Arch Druid is an immensely powerful druid, far more so than lower-ranking druids. They have a superior understanding of nature, a mastery of control and influence. There are very, very few known Arch Druids in Warcraft lore -- exactly seven known currently, and one of those is Hamuul Runetotem, a tauren -- the only tauren to have that title. The rest are night elves.

So yes, it is possible for a female to become an Arch Druid, since we already have evidence of that occurring in game. It's not a matter of how long you've studied; it's a matter of how well you've mastered your craft. Whether or not a player character could be one is entering into shaky and potential Mary Sue territory. There are so few Arch Druids known in lore that presuming a player character could just magically become one is a bit of a stretch, regardless of whether they are male or female.

Loedian asks:

I have a question, how do night elves live in relative peace for 10,000 years and suddenly now we have this massive number of events happening in like 30 years, i mean first we get An Qirahji and we get Outland and Black Temple, Then ICC, and now Cataclysm, i mean geez how many catastrophes can happen in a few decades?

Plenty! But the night elves haven't been living entirely in peace -- they've had their own scuffles here and there, just nothing major enough to warrant any historical record of it. What you're looking at with the Third War is the beginning of another major attempt by the Burning Legion to take control of Azeroth via the Well of Eternity, or rather, Nordrassil's watered-down version of the Well of Eternity.

Back during the War of the Ancients, the Burning Legion was shut down, and shut down hard. The last 10,000 years or so, they've been slowly and quietly working their way back towards another War of the Ancients scale attack. Everything we've seen from World of Warcraft all the way through Cataclysm has been more or less a result of Burning Legion influence here and there. Between that and the Old Gods finally figuring out how to eke their influence out of the places in which they were imprisoned by the Titans, it's been a hectic 30 years or so for Azeroth -- for everyone, not just the night elves.

MisterRik asks:

You bring up a question I've wondered about for some time now: What did the orcs originally call their home world? In the RTS games we learned their world is called Draenor, but then with the introduction of the draenei in WoW, we discover it was the draenei who gave it that name. By the time of TBC, it's simply called "Outland" by the people of Azeroth - even the orcs and draenei call it that.

This reminds me of another question that nags me every now and again: Why is the night elf language called Daranassian, when the city of Darnassus wasn't founded until after Teldrassil was created after the Third War? One would assume the language would be called kaldorei or something similar, but nope! The answer to the Darnassus question can be explained away by assuming that's what the other races of the world, who recently came into contact with the night elves, decided to call the spoken language, and the night elves went with it.

As for the question of Draenor ... given that the orcs of the world were essentially nomadic, many choosing the path of the shaman, it may be that it never really occurred to them to give the earth they communed with a name. It would be like giving the wind a name -- pointless, as it's the wind. The earth is the earth, it's an essence, an element -- there's no reason to give a name to it.

Shadda asks:

I've always been a little confused by Auchindoun. According to Blizzard's own site: "the original exiles on Draenor found death to be an unsettling and unfortunate consequence of life, and so the draenei hid their dead away in the subterranean grave-city of Auchindoun, a labyrinthine marvel located beneath the forests of Terokkar." If the Draenei are in fact immortal, where did all of these dead Draenei come from?

Hold up there -- we're talking about immortality here, but the definition of immortality isn't clearly defined. When we're talking immortals, we aren't talking about creatures that can't be killed -- we're talking about creatures that aren't going to expire of old age. There's a distinct difference there. Although immortality means that a creature could live indefinitely if left alone, the immortals of Warcraft aren't immune to death.

In Warcraft, it's absolutely possible for immortal beings to die -- sometimes they can be brought back, as we saw in Hyjal with many of the Ancients being resurrected, but sometimes they just stay dead. For a race as long-lived as the draenei, death would indeed be disturbing -- it's difficult to contemplate death when one has the potential of living forever.

Taruun asks:

Great article, but one question I would like to have answered is what is the "cut-off" point for how young a Draenei character could reasonably be. Just like it's basically impossible to RP a night elf that was born on Teldrassil, what are the events that every Draenei PC would have experienced?

Assuming that the draenei are much like the other nigh-immortal races of Warcraft, they reach maturity at a very old age in comparison to humans -- 110 to 500 years of age for a "mature" draenei wouldn't really be a stretch. That said, it's entirely likely that all draenei currently being played as characters absolutely remember the events of the Exodar's escape from Draenor -- the fight to get to the ship on Draenor and the subsequent crash landing.

If they were originally a resident of Shattrath, they'd likely remember the orcs laying siege to the city. The story Unbroken by Micky Neilson offers some insight into this time of draenei history. Draenei that originated from the Temple of Karabor (now known as the Black Temple) may recall Gul'dan's arrival and the subsequent slaughter of the draenei that called the temple home.

If you really want to make a long story short, most draenei living today would absolutely remember the sheer amount of devastation and slaughter wrought by the orcs on Draenor. Even if they were a child at the time and escaped unscathed, they likely had relatives or friends that perished during the onslaught. Draenei do not have the happiest of histories.

Matthew asks:

So, what language is spoken in the Cenarion Circle? Do Nelfs know Orcish or Tauren Common, or is there some common druid language (aside from kitty purrs and moonkin squawks)?

It's assumed that everyone in the Cenarion Circle speaks a single dialect, though that's never been confirmed. It's probably not any one language in particular, but if anything, it would likely be a kaldorei dialect of some sort, as the kaldorei were the first to form the Cenarion Circle. This is where in game mechanics beat out lore, though -- tauren druids cannot speak to night elf druids in game because one is Alliance, the other Horde.

You'll find however that in most novels and in the comic series, creatures of different races can understand each other without even thinking about it. For example, in the Warcraft comics series, Thrall and the other orcs of the peace summit in Theramore didn't need a translator. In fact, if you go back as far as the original Warcraft games, the orcs and humans have been speaking to each other without needing translation. In this case, it's really a matter of game mechanics getting in the way.

If you have any RP related questions, feel free to leave a comment on this post and I'll take a look back here for the next Q&A!

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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