Alright, it’ been two weeks, and there’s a lot more to say about “Stormrage”.

For those of you who are sensitive to spoilers, you might want to back out now.  For the rest of you… I’ve got a big problem with this book.

So, what’s my problem?

When we play World of Warcraft we take it as a given, an unconscious assumption, that the game will provide us with the core narrative.

What the heck does that mean?  It means we expect the game to provide us with all of the “need to know” lore.

The “Stormrage” novel breaks that.  There is now a kink in the spine of Warcraft’s lore.

We’re lore-dorks.  Face it, to whatever degree, we are. Consider what a huge concept it is for us that WoW will now skip an entire expansion’s worth of material between WotLK and Cataclysm.

The real problem?  Imagine now someone who isn’t a lore-dork trying to wrap their head around that.  When an aspiring lore-dork asks me to explain something to them, it’s often as basic as “What’s Sylvanus Windrunner all about?”  I can only imagine what it’ll be like trying to explain to them that, “No no… the Emerald Dream expansion as we all imagined it has already happened.  No, it didn’t happen in game… Blizzard skipped over it. They only released it as a book.  Malfurion is back and married to Tyrnade, Eranikus is dead, the morrowgrain mystery was answered.  Fandral is in a straitjacket.  Oh, and Teldrassil is no longer corrupted.”

One could counter that players, who don’t care about the lore, aren’t going to mind if there’s a hole in it.

Wonderful.  So what’s the plan here?  To ensure that players who don’t care about lore keep right on not caring?  Aren’t these the players we should be *encouraging* instead of making immersion and lore that much more difficult?

Before “Stormrage”, the biggest hurdle was convincing people to pay attention.  Read the quests and boss dialogue, you’ll learn a lot.  As long as you give the game the attention it deserves, you’ll know WoW’s core storyline.  When Cata is released, this will no longer be the case; you will now also need to read a 400 page book.  Unfortunately, most people aren’t going to do that.  They’ll throw their arms up and decide it’s a lot less “work” to simply ignore WoW’s storyline.

We’re going to lose a lot of would be lore-dorks because of “Stormrage”.  It doesn’t matter how well we can summarize the book for them; all they’ll hear is, “To follow WoW’s core story, you now need to read a big thick book… yech.”

So, the book itself… how is it?

It has a lot of great moments and lost opportunities.

Remember the night elf civil war speculation?  It happens… but it only lasts for a couple paragraphs, and it doesn’t involve much more than a conversation.  An entire city of Night-Elves who went against Malfurion’s wishes by seeking to regain their immortality?  Yeah… we’ll just sweep that little inconvenient truth right under the rug.

Malfurion’s return is also underplayed.  Here it is… Azeroth’s darkest hour… the closest it has ever come to being conquered.  And then, right as hope runs out, the mythological messiah returns.  In the story, no one witnesses this.  No one is there falling into despair, only to see Malfurion step out of his barrow den.

A great moment that will very likely be milked later on is when Malfurion briefly becomes aware of every individual living being on Azeroth.  Why will this be milked?  Because it means Malfurion now knows of every hidden hero and danger on the planet.  And yes, that means Malfurion probably now knows where Jarod Shadowsong is.

Before I’m done, I need to give a shout out… and this one might interest you.

During the WotLK beta there was a guy on the beta forums, who declared himself as the “Official Lore-Dork of the WotLK Beta”.  In one of this posts, he came up with this crazy idea that Xavius was the Nightmare.  My reaction was to argue with him that this was only possible if Xavius was backed up by an old-god.

Well he nailed it.  Granted, I did too, but stating, “The old gods did it!” is hardly earth-shattering when it comes to WarCraft lore speculation.  I can’t remember the guy’s name (hopefully I’ll find him during the Cata beta), but credit should be given where it’s due.  I also know for fact he went to BlizzCon in ’08 and told Knaak his ideas.

So… there you go.  Blizzard’s creative development department certainly has their work cut out for them, proving they can now work around the kink in WarCraft’s spine.

Will they pull it off?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Quivering May - 2010 at 6:10 am

maybe there will be a new caverns of time in cata where we go back and are part of varian’s army in the nightmare, at least get to see some of these things that was described in the book. i was really hoping for some ingame nightmare raid or dungeon.

so you believe the great evil behind xavius was an old god? seems the most likely answer (almost feels like old gods are the go to “man behind the curtain” for blizz). several possibilities crossed my mind (deathwing, sarg, azshara) but it prolly is an old god. wonder who itll be this time.

2 Dangablad May - 2010 at 10:12 am

I unfortunately haven’t read Stormrage “yet”. (Which, for the fans of High Fidelity, is the same as saying “I haven’t seen Evil Dead 2 ‘yet'”) Now that I know how important it is, that will be changing in the near future. I am, however, going to go against Cocles on this and say that this may be a good thing for two reasons.

1. We aren’t that awesome. I like the feeling that we aren’t that awesome. I mean, 25-odd Horde may run into Stormwind and deal Varian a bloody nose, but they ain’t killing him. We may take down Deathwing with 9 of our closest friends, but the uber-heroes are still the uber-heroes. I like the idea of Malfurion coming out and saying something to the effect of “Thanks for offering heroes, but this is something I need to handle myself.” It makes Warcraft seem like a living, dynamic story with characters beyond the ones we create and play, and I have to give Blizzard props for taking the hard way out lore-wise in not letting us do it ourselves.

Second, there are a lot of self-proclaimed lore dorks out there, myself included, who don’t necessarily like spending game time getting lore. I tend to pass over quest text when I play. “Xavius? Who the heck is that? Some satyr I was sent to rough up in Ashenvale? Oh. Okay. Wait, I just read War of the Ancients, this Xavius guy is freaking EVIL!” I get the real story from people who have more time to spend in-game reading and not playing than I do. I like the idea of walking into Hyjal and seeing an npc say something to the effect of “Did you hear what Malfurion did? No? Well, get theeself to a local book respository and read Stormrage, you fool!” Not only does it get lore-dorks like me interested in the lore outside the game, but it gets the wanna-be lore dorks away from their computers and reading actual books, which is an entirely different experience that can be more rewarding in many cases.

And the best part is, it doesn’t cost any extra money or risk the FBI tracking you down for copyright infringement. Authors for a long time have resigned themselves to the fact that, in order to facilitate the education and entertainment of the populace as a whole, city and county governments make buildings that hold tons of books, CD’s, and movies for the free enjoyment of the public at large. Awesome lore that I don’t have to buy an expansion, spend hours of grinding, or make a microtransaction for? On top of that, it’s lore that my character doesn’t have a hand in, so I just get to sit back and spectate. And I can run to a library, be given a couple weeks to absorb it, and not pay a penny outside of taxes I would have already payed? Or, I can go drop less money than a month of WoW and have that lore around to re-experience any time I want or to lend to friends to maybe create a new lore-dork? There is something of the old ways that we have lost, my friends.

3 Dangablad May - 2010 at 10:12 am

TLDR Version: Cocles is wrong, stand-alone books are awesome

4 Cocles May - 2010 at 1:00 pm

Just to be clear… all WarCraft novels are stand-alone. I have no problem with that.

5 Dangablad May - 2010 at 4:22 pm

okay… stand-alone books that cause the lore in-game to jump forward.

6 Izzie May - 2010 at 4:46 pm

Wow, I finally got around to reading this.
I’m still kind of in a daze about it…I think I’m going to have to re-read it.

It was really good. Better than a lot of the other novels. I had just finished reading WotA, too, so it was interesting seeing the jump in maturity (at least on Tyrande an Shandris’ parts).

There were some things that I found confusing like…when Varian saw Jaina in Stormwind, was that actually “her” sleepwalking or her ghost or what? Didn’t all the spirits kinda look at her?

Hmm. And what ever happened to Fandral?

It’s going to be confusing in-game but I wonder that they might have the crazy mists come along for an event or something.

Why’d you get rid of your forums?

7 Cocles May - 2010 at 6:08 pm

Izzie– If I remember correctly, I believe Varian was simply “seeing” Jaina, the way he was “seeing” other people in his life such as his wife and son.

As for the forum, it proved to be a bit of a redundancy since 99% of the readers preferred to stick with commenting within the blog itself. If the forums required zero upkeep then that wouldn’t have mattered. The only remaining concern was “What if someone wanted to write up their own post and discuss it?” Since we accept submissions on the blog, though, that base is covered.

8 Izzie May - 2010 at 5:20 am

Ahhh, gotcha. So he was seeing her as a vision. Hmm, interesting.
I dunno, I think there may be something happening with those two one of these days.

Thanks for clearing that up, then.

Maybe I’ll get un-lazy one of these days and submit something, haha.
Cheers, good stuff. Looking forward to the next one!

9 justin May - 2010 at 11:22 pm

So basicly we skipped an expansion and replaced it with a book well somone should get blizzards attention and let them know that we know they skipped and exspansion and we are pissed and what is the expansion after cataclysm going to be? Im a bit confused.

10 DeShaun July - 2010 at 4:35 pm

So you say malfurian might know where Jarod Shadowsong is? Well, he does. And so does everyone else.

Towards the bottom is the part of Jarod Shadowsong…. prisoner of the Twilight Hammer.

11 DeShaun July - 2010 at 4:35 pm

So you say malfurian might know where Jarod Shadowsong is? Well, he does. And so does everyone else.

Towards the bottom is the part of Jarod Shadowsong…. prisoner of the Twilight Hammer.

12 DeShaun July - 2010 at 4:37 pm

sorry, my first comment has the wrong link 🙂

13 Cocles July - 2010 at 4:42 pm

Yep. One of my next posts is going to be about Mount Hyjal and my opinion of it. I’ve honestly been holding off, since my thoughts aren’t positive and I’m unsure if Loregy’s readers will particular enjoy watching me slam Cataclysm’s most well-known new zone.

14 DeShaun July - 2010 at 5:04 pm

Personally, I’m looking somewhat forward to Mount Hyjal because that’s the closest we’re going to get to the Emerald Dream in the game. But, of course, i’d much rather perfer and expansion….

15 tamonke October - 2010 at 5:26 am

the thing is though ive played cata beta and there is alot going on about the world tree and infact taking it from the fire elementals is a big thing almost as big as fixing the maelstrum

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