I won’t mince words: Alot of Lore Characters are gonna die at the beginning of Legion. Then again, you probably knew that from the reveal last year in Europe as well as the wording on the official website for WoW. The difference between then and now is we now know the details of not just who dies but how.
It goes without saying there are major spoilers. Do not read any further if you don’t want major plot elements spoiled for you.
…We’ll start with the Horde.
- Warchief Vol’Jin dies on the Broken Front in the Horde version of the incursion into The Broken Isles. Mortally wounded, Vol’Jin is brought back to Orgrimmar where he tries to heal himself but is unable to. With his last words, he names Sylvanas the new Warchief of the Horde and appoints Varok Saurfang, also known as Saurfang the Elder–you may remember him from Icecrown Citadel back in Wrath of the Lich King–as the leader of the Orcs.
- Sylvanas is the “acting” Warchief of the Horde. Vol’jin hinted he may return from the dead. As a powerful Troll blessed by the Loa, that wouldn’t be too hard for him to do. Sylvanas as Warchief gives the Horde a seasoned military commander, who they are in need of at the moment. She was appointed Warchief in an emergency situation. Mind you, Sylvanas also has the power to raise dead humans as Forsaken. She also ordered the creation of the a New Plague that works on the living and undead–a fact that the other Horde leaders are wary of and have forbade her from using it (though she clearly has used it in Gilneas and Hillsbrad). The question to be asked at the end of Legion: Will she willingly give up the reigns or will she be forcibly removed from power?
- Thrall has been in a depression ever since his duel with Garrosh on Draenor and will not play much of a role in Legion. Speculation on this was ramapant up until it was confirmed in game: Because of how he killed Garrosh–using the elements and not Doomhammer–the elements no longer hear his voice and Doomhammer is heavy in his hands. During the Enhancement Shaman Artifact Quest to reclaim Doomhammer, Thrall passes it on to the Player Character. He’s last seen in in Dalaran at the conclusion of the quest with his wife Aggra and his son Durak (Thrall and Aggra were revealed to have another child yet to be introduced).
- General Nazgrim, who died during the Siege of Orgrimmar will be raised by the Knights of the Ebon Blade as one of the New Four Horsemen under the Lich King and the Player Character, who is the de factor leader of the Ebon Blade. More on this in a bit.
…That’s prettymuch it in Regards to the Horde. The Horde’s leadership changes aren’t as big a deal as the Alliance’s in the long run. I’ll speak more to what this could mean in a bit.
Now, on to the Alliance:
- One of the worst-kept secrets from the Legion Alpha: King Varian Wrynn dies in the Alliance version of The Broken Front. The Horde was covering the rear but the Horde was forced to withdraw when they were overwhelmed. Anduin–now a young man–assumes the throne as the next King of Stormwind. Stormwind Park is rebuilt and doubles as Varian’s final resting place. The Legion will be an interesting test for Anduin as a miltary commander. The Legion are enemy that can’t be reasoned with. The question to be asked is what price will the young king be willing to pay to ensure peace?
- Varian’s death renews Genn Greymane’s anger towards Sylvanas, who was leading the Horde forces on The Broken Front. For those who need a reminder, Sylvanas killed his son Liam in Gilneas during the Worgen starting experience after the Cataclysm shattered the Greymane Wall and the Forsaken invaded. It goes without saying he never forgot about that. Genn and Jaina separately depart from Stormwind City after Anduin’s coronation to strike at the Horde on the Broken Isles.
- King Magni Bronzebeard, who became one with the land around Ironforge just before the Cataclysm awakens. In the digital comic released a few weeks ago, Magni tells the Council of Three Hammers they can relax: He didn’t come back to reclaim the throne. He has returned to warn the Alliance of the looming threat of the Legion. Before leaving for Stormwind, he and his daughter Moira mend the rift between them.
The Exodar is attacked by the Legion shortly after their arrival. In a cruel twist of fate, Velen’s own son Rakeesh leads the Legion attack against his father’s people. Seeing his son’s lifely body causes Velen to snap. He gives the order for the Exodar to set course for Argus, their homeworld. The Draenei will take the fight to the Legion for the first time since leaving their homeworld. This prettymuch confirms the next expansion will at least in part take place on Argus, the homeworld of the Draenei. We could get solid confirmation on this as soon as the first major patch for Legion.
…That’s about it in regards to the Alliance. Compared to the Horde, their losses are far more devastating and long-reaching. The constant leadership changes by both factions since Cataclysm leads me to wonder if one of the following four things will happen:
- A third playable faction or more will be introduced.
- The two-faction system will be eliminated completely.
- The factions will unite into one (Lorewise).
- Some races will change factions.
The clear focus being away from the Alliance and the Horde since the end of Mists of Pandaria is why I think one of these four outcomes could end up happening: Warlords of Draenor focuses on the Council of Exarchs (Alliance), Frostwolf Clan (Horde), Iron Horde and later the Legion. The Alliance/Horde dynamic is barely relevant. In Legion, the focus is on Class Halls in regards to leadership. Hostilities between Genn and Sylvanas do promise to renew conflict between them but it depends on how it’s handled.
Of the four, I will admit the third is the least likely to happen. Although some of the races do see eye to eye, the clear animosity between some races make a stable union of the Alliance and the Horde temporary as has been the case up to now. They’ll work together to deal with a threat to Azeroth neither can handle alone but that’s as far as they’ll go.
The fourth has happened with the Blood Elves: Before the Third War, Quel’Thalas was a part of the Alliance. After the Scourge ravaged the kingdom, they were left to fend for themselves and ultimately joined the Horde. Thrall was originally against it but later agreed after Cairne and Sylvanas voted for them to be allowed to join the Horde. During the second third of the events of Mists of Pandaria, Varian revealed he was in secret talks with the Blood Elves to bring them back to the Alliance. Those plans were derailed after Jaina took control of Dalaran, kicked out the Horde and imprisoned the Sunreavers, who advocated for the Horde to have free use of the city.
Speculation of the first one came from the Pandaren, which are initially unaffiliated with either faction. Blizzard slammed the door on that mid-expansion, mostly due to player feedback. Despite this, the idea might be back on the table due to the political upheaval within both the Alliance and the Horde:
- Alliance side, the Humans will be struggling to rebrand themselves in the aftermath of losing Varian. Gilneas may leave the Alliance (again) so it can focus on the Forsaken. The Draenei are preparing to leave on the Exodar for Argus. The Gnomes continue to work towards reclaiming Gnomeregan while supporting the Alliance. The Dearves and the Night Elves are both politically stable compared to the rest of the Alliance.
- Horde side, the Orcs will have their second non-Orc Warchief since the Siege of Orgrimmar in Sylvanas. Varok Saurfang as the leader of the Orcs may usher the need and desire for the Orcs to rebrand themselves. The Darkspear Trolls lost their leader with the death of Vol’Jin. A new leader has yet to be revealed. Lorthe’mar has embraced his long-term role as leader of the Sindorei. His dealings with Garrosh as Warchief has led him to make his people less dependant on the rest of the Horde to survive. The Goblins and Tauren haven’t been relevant as political factions within the Horde since Cataclysm.
- The Pandaren Factions haven’t been relevant since Mists of Pandaren either.
…I think the second one is the most likely to happen. Gameplay wise, there will be two factions but the focus will be less on the factions and more on other threats in general. The door will be opened for cross-faction collaboration and open inter-faction conflict. Lorewise, the factions will have split up or merged to focus on other things. I’ll speak more to how this could look in a separate post.
…I’ll end with this major development. We now know who the NEW Four Horsemen are:
- General Nazgrim: Originally killed during the Siege of Orgrimmar.
- Thoras Trollbane: Former King of Stromgarde.
- Sally Whitemane: Former leader of the Scarlet Crusade/Onslaught.
- Darion Mograine: Killed during the attack on Light’s Hope Chapel trying to get the Ebon Blade’s original choice, Tirion Fordring.
Death Knights will undergo quests to reform the Four Horsemen with the guidance of the Lich King, Bolvar Fordragon. For those who forgot, Bolvar donned the Helm of Domination after Arthas was slain. Lorewise, he’s been the Lich King for a few years but doesn’t have the mastery over the Scourge anywhere near that of his predecessors, let alone the Ebon Blades rank and file Death Knights. Anyway, getting the first three Horsemen was simple compared to the fourth–Darion almost refuses to go along with it not just because of who the target is but because of where they’re going to get him: Light’s Hope Chapel. Anyone who’s done the Death Knight starting experience should remember why.
Basically, it’s The Battle of Light’s Hope 2.0 only this time Tirion’s dead (he died at the Broken Shore. Retribution Paladins can get Ashbringer from him as part of that Artifact Quest). The fourth Horseman has been chosen: the second-greatest Paladin to have ever lived, the late Tirion Fordring (Uther The Lightbringer being the greatest) who was buried in Light’s Hope Chapel. Darion notes the irony from the first time he attacked Light’s Hope on the Lich King’s orders back in the day.
As expected, there is fierce resistence. Even Lady Liadrin–the first Blood Knight–is no match for the might of the Ebon Blade. Things don’t go as planned when the Death Knights reach Tirion’s body. and Darion is struck down by The Light. Back on Acherus, the Lich King goes with Plan B: “Death is for the Living. Undeath is for the damned.” Thus, Darion is raised (again, ironically) as the leader of the Four Horsemen. Unlike the previous version, the new Four Horsemen are loyal to the Ebon Blade and their focus is on the Legion.
The Ebon Blade formed an Alliance with the Lich King at the beginning of Legion, serving as his arms and legs in the world. The new Lich King isn’t anywhere near as powerful as his predecessors and needs the Ebon Blade more than the other way around. The rift between the Silver Hand and the Ebon Blade over this would be worth returning to at a later point ^_^