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A beginner's guide to getting started in WoW Lore

Matthew Rossi

Truth is, I enjoy World of Warcraft's lore, which is why I write about it for the site alongside Anne Stickney. But I understand why a setting that's been around since the original Warcraft: Orcs vs. Humans can be daunting to new people trying to understand what's going on. Why does the human king have scars on his face, and why is this orc with giant tusks on his shoulders so upset about everything? Never fear, it's really not all that complicated. Here, we're going to discuss some ways for people who haven't really had a chance to get invested into the lore to start figuring out who those people are and what they're on about.

My first suggestion to you is, when you're playing WoW, start clicking on books. There are books all over the game world, in various dungeons, out in the open, hidden away in corners in inns and cities. If you see one, click on it. Hidden in all these books are stories about the world of Azeroth. You can get surprisingly caught up on the basics just via this exercise. Also try to click on plaques on statues and in structures. The statues in front of Stormwind have small plaques on them that tell you exactly who these are statues of and why they were placed there.

Second, you can always come to us for help. Between the four people who've written Know Your Lore since its inception, we have quite a few essays for you to read through. We've collected many of them on a lore guide that we keep updated. In addition to that, Anne has compiled a chronological guide to Warcraft lore media here that's well worth your time. We also run The Queue, where our staff will be happy to answer lore questions or forward them, and in addition to all that, we discuss a lot of lore-related questions on the WoW Insider Show, and we'd be happy to answer yours as well. We're more than happy to discuss game lore with you any time.

There's also the expanded universe section of the official World of Warcraft site to consider. Not only is it home to the leader short stories Blizzard has been producing, but it contains a history of the Warcraft setting and links to the Warcraft tie-in comics, manga and novels as well for ease of purchase. It even preserves short stories previously posted on the site. It's a solidly organized central location for you to branch out.

While you're at it, you should also consider playing the previous Warcraft games. At the very least, you can still purchase Warcraft III at the Blizzard site. It still holds up very well for a game that's more than a decade old, and its story cutscenes explain the world just before and during the Third War. Blizzard does a lot toward making its game settings approachable, and you can definitely make good use of the resources on that site.

Once you've gone through that, don't forget other resources. Blizzard's tie-in media was mentioned above both in Anne's chronological guide and the Blizzard site itself, but please remember that those books and comics and manga exist. Also, don't forget sites like Blizzplanet and Scrolls of Lore, which love to discuss in extreme detail all the nuts and bolts of World of Warcraft and its story. Also, there are wikis online like WoWwiki and WoWpedia that go into detail, and you can spend a lot of time browsing their pages. (I know I have.)

Hopefully, this will get you started on discovering the story behind why Deathwing hates Stormwind so much, who that Arthas guy was and why everyone was so upset with him, or why Alexstrasza dresses like that. If you figure out that last part, let me know.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

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