The forthcoming Cataclysm gives us all kinds of cool new opportunities, but for me one of the most interesting aspects of the new expansion is a chance to go back and look at some of the cool people we encountered in the old world. The thing is, many of those people couldreally use some lore-loving. Vanilla WoW gave us a cornucopia of interesting places, peoples and stories but sadly many of them never really progressed, they just floated around as flavoursome lore candy. Cataclysm gives us a chance to change that and further explore some of Azeroth’s great unsung heroes and villains. So I present to you my top 5 Azerothian factions that really really deserve to have their backstories fleshed out:
No, really. I want to see Murlocs get some proper development love in terms of their lore. At the moment they exist as loveable, smelly critters without really much direction or a coherent narrative. There are few Murloc storylines, they just hang around on shorelines waiting for an adventurer to come along and whack them over the head. Occasionally they play second fiddle to the Naga, but only as a fishy kind of Zergling that mobs you before you get to the real bad guys.
This is rather a shame because there are a few tantalising hints that there is interesting stuff going on with the Murlocs. First of all, if you do the Murloc quests in Borean Tundra, its mentioned that despite initial appearances Murlocs are actually intelligent creatures with a complex language. The discovery of their Gorloc cousins are further evidence of this. Secondly, Murlocs are one of, if not the oldest race in the whole of Azeroth. We know they are at least as old as the Trolls, who are generally described as being the first sentient race in the world ( bar Dragons, who cheated anyway). However given their underwater existence and lack of a recorded history, its impossible to say how far they go back. So whilst they appear pretty basic creatures there seems to be something else to these little guys.
But most importantly for me is that in recent years, Murlocs have started popping up everywhere. Those ramshackle camps of them you keep finding whislt levelling up are actually a new development. After all, the Murlocs are an underwater species, they don’t normally hang around on land. That has all started to change though in the last few years, and the preponderance of fish-men on every coast suggests that the Murlocs are in the process of some kind of mass colonisation effort. Why this is we cannot say, but consider this – the Murlocs worship a powerful entity (or entities) believed to be sleeping in the depths of the ocean. This may be Azshara, Sargeras, an Old God or even something we’ve not come across. But whatever it is, they’re either doing its dirty work by surrounding the landmasses of Azeroth or they’re running away from it because its waking up. Be afraid.
2. The High Elves
Exactly what is going on with the Quel’dorei is something of a mystery at the moment. Events prior to the current expansion suggested that the High Elves were more or less a thing of the past. The majority of High Elves were either dead or undead. The rest had renamed themselves Blood Elves and trying to deal with the realisation that magic was their catnip and their supply had just been cut off. Therefore the High Elves were no more, save for a few stragglers remaining in Alliance cities and that little group hanging out in the Hinterlands.
At least that’s what we thought. Then Wrath of the Lich King rolls around and suddenly we find that actually there’s still loads of High Elves in Dalaran, and what’s more they’re really pissed at the Blood Elves. Whilst it makes sense they might not be too pleased with their former brethren, what’s not really clear is why these High Elves chose to abandon their people and stick with the alliance. What’s even more curious is that these High Elves seem to have done just fine with the magic addiction that so plagued the Blood Elves, despite being based in the magic capital of Azeroth.
These areas need more explanation than a bit of hand-wavery. We could use some serious development of how the High Elves feel about their current situation. How does it feel to have lost their home and the companionship of their Silvermoon brethren? Are they proud, conflicted or even regretful? What is their current relationship with magic given recent developments with both the Sunwell and the Nexus War? Most importantly of all, is there any hope of reconciliation between the High Elves and the Blood Elves? Or are they simply going to spend eternity glowering at each other over ancient relics? In my opinion some kind of emotionally-charged event really needs to happen here to bring these issues to the forefront.
3. The Stonemaul Ogres
A WoW player could be forgiven for not realising that the Horde actually has an entire clan of Ogres amongst its ranks. If you haven’t wandered into Dustwallow Marsh and if you hadn’t played through Rexxar’s tale in Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne this nugget of information may have passed you by. Personally I find this a great injustice. Not only are Ogres extremely cool but they’re a historic part of the Horde. The old Horde had a complicated relationship with Ogres in that enslaved and killed many of them, but many Ogre clans also became absorbed into Horde culture. The Ogre Cho’gall even managed to became chieftan of the Twilight’s Hammer clan, so Ogres and Orcs seem to be able to get on reasonably well together in the right circumstances.
However the Stonemaul seem to have been sadly sidelined by Blizzard, probably in-part due to the unfortunate under-development of the Dustwallow Marsh storyline for many years. This is a shame because the little pieces we do know about the Stonemaul give them a lot of potential for development. First off, the Stonemaul are currently experiencing a power vacuum and its strongly hinted that they would be more than happy for Rexxar to come back and lead them. Given that Rexxar is a very popular Horde character with a compelling story, placing the Mok’Nathal hero in charge of his very own Ogre clan seems like a recipe for fun. Such a development would also mean we’d actually see some Stonemaul Ogres taking part in Horde military campaigns, which is long overdue. We know they’ve been helping the Horde out as the Juggernaughts in the Horde navy appear to be Stonemaul in origin. If they can build the Horde’s ships then they should be a visible element of the Horde’s armies as well.
But the best part of further developing the Stonemaul Ogres is that they hate the Black Dragonflight. As in absolutely loathe them. Onyxia laid waste to their home and oddly enough they’ve never really gotten over it. When the Cataclysm hits and the Horde goes to war against the forces of Deathwing, they might just want to ask for help from those Ogres in their backyard who are eager to kick some Black Dragon butt! For Blizzard to ignore these guys in the Cataclysm expansion would be absolutely criminal.
4. The Pandaren
Similar to the situation with the Stonemaul, I feel very strongly that it’s about time we saw some lore progression with the Pandaren. Whilst they started out as an April Fool’s joke, they have captured the imagination of the players and several tantalising hints about their culture suggest that they could be a great addition to the storyline. I do however disagree with the fanbase that wants them as a playable race, because the more you learn about these enigmatic panda-men, the more you realise they are a unique faction. Where I think Pandaren would make a great addition is as a core faction to the game, much as the development of the Dragon’s storyline has been in Wrath of the Lich King.
Quite why the Pandaren have not been included much in the game thus far is something of a mystery. After all they are a people as old as the Night Elves, who place a heavy emphasis on shamanism, mystical arts and higher knowledge. Furthermore they possess a rich culture that combines martial arts, Taoist-style philosophy and drinking lots and lots of beer! On the whole, they are an intriguing prospect. Unfortunately they have rarely been seen outside of the WoW RPG book. To be fair, they are an extremely elusive people with an isolationist agenda. However there are many accounts of Pandaren mercenaries and travelling brewmasters, which would make for interesting characters to interact with and fight alongside. At the very least, it would be entertaining to see the infamous Chen Stormstout make a reappearance, rather than just leaving his used kegs all over Kalimdor.
5. The Grimtotem Clan
Early on in the levelling experience for the Horde player we came across the Grimtotem Clan of Tauren. This clan was notable for breaking with the mould of Tauren being peaceful and nature-loving, and seemed to have much darker feel to them altogether. Not only have they proved themselves murderers and kidnappers, but they even arranged a (rather convoluted) attempt on the life of Cairne Bloodhoof.
Now in a sense this is old news, but recent developments in the WoW storyline mean that now is the perfect opportunity to flesh out the Grimtotem storyline. Firstly, through various low-level quests it is discovered that the Grimtotem have made some kind of deal with members of the Forsaken. Whilst this at first seems benevolent, it becomes apparent that the Grimtotem have been receiving help from Forsaken Apothecaries in the form of poisons and other nasty chemical weapons. The recent coup staged by the Royal Apothecary Society now raises a potential powder-keg of questons about the Grimtotem’s affiliations. The rogue Forsaken apothecaries and their leader Varimathras were consorting with demonic allies (although exactly which demonic force remains unknown). By implication this could mean that the opportunistic Grimtotem have also come under the influence of demonic forces. This may be a possible explanation for the sudden appearance of demons in Desolace in some of the Cataclysm screenshots. Furthermore, there are rumoured upheavals coming for the Tauren leadership in Cataclysm and the Grimtotem are bound to be at the centre of it. With all this in mind, I feel it would be prudent to start giving players more access to the Grimtotem and exploring their motivations and personality.