WoW: We look behind the veil - this is how death works in Azeroth
We are in the trenches of the Fourth War. The positions in front of Unterstadt have been overrun. The barricades are burning and the Alliance war machine is moving across the scorched no-man's land in front of the city with a loud rumble and the deep-throated rumble of gigantic, steel-shod wheels. Cut far off, in a crater behind enemy lines, we see two grunts, one with a sucking bullet wound in the chest. The two warriors' expressions are grim, for they know what awaits them. With a weak cough, the badly wounded grunt reaches out to his comrade and nods. His friend hesitates, but after a long heartbeat, grabs the offered hand in a firm warrior salute. By the wrist. As soldiers on both sides have done since the dawn of Azeroth. Steel flashes and the wounded grunt sinks lifelessly into himself. His comrade lowers his eyes, carefully avoiding staring at the bloody axe in his fist. The wind carries a whispered "Lok'tar Ogar" across the battlefield. At the lone grunt's back, detonations light up the night sky. A sick green floods the horizon, melting flesh, corroding metal, and resurrecting the bare bones of war victims. The warrior kneels slowly and rests the head of his dead comrade on his lap, while behind him the plague burns toward his position in a thunderous tidal wave. Just before the wall of death and filth hits him, he cradles his head in his neck and utters the orcish call of the warrior, informing the ancestors that a brave warrior is on his way to the afterlife. The tidal wave hits him like a titan's fist and the plague ensures that the young grunt will never pray to his ancestors again. A short time later, the tidal wave passes by. Two broad-shouldered skeletons rise. Grip their axes. And stomp in complete silence through the devastated environs of Unterstadt. All of the classes that can resurrect in WoW exist background-wise in a weird in-between world of "you can't" and "of course you can!" Source: buffed
Anduin the Alternator
Babyface or not, Anduin Wrynn doesn't cast Mass Resurrection in the Battle for Azeroth intro, but rather the God's Hymn spell - making the young armored priest still the only faction leader to reach the power level of our player characters.Let's change the scenery.Now we find ourselves in the Eternal Palace of the Naga ruler Azshara. At this point, the halls of the former night elf queen's beautiful and deeply disturbing summer domicile seem more like a flooded roller skating disco.From a bird's eye view, all you can see is a huge bunch of colorfully flashing adventurers armed with gigantic swords slithering across the damp floor at high speed. Every second another explosion shimmering in all colors of the rainbow is triggered, healing rain falls from the sky, wounds close in a split second and priests throw the light of the Naaru around like candy at a carnival parade. Suddenly it happens: one of the damage dealers is hit by a chain lightning strike and thrown across the room. His smoking body continues to twitch for a few seconds, then he is already forgotten and kicked out of the way by the heavily armored tank. After the fight, a disgruntled priest trots over to his fallen comrade, while in the background cheers and loot are already being distributed. A brief flash of holy light is enough - the rogue sits up, cursing quietly and holding his head. "Ouch." With a shake of his head, the priest stands up and pats out his magnificent robes. "Exactly, ouch. Stop tanking the ground and start doing damage, xXDarkshadowXx, or you'll be kicked out of the guild." The rogue shrugs indifferently. "Dude, who cares. The boss is lying and you can always revive me afterwards. Works for me." The priest exchanges an unnerved glance with the tank and leaves the grinning rogue behind. Not for the first time, the priest wishes that death in WoW would result in real consequences. Maybe then the rogue would finally learn.
Death suits us well - at least in WoW
Death in WoW is a strange affair. No two "experience reports" are really alike, everyone is of the opinion that they personally know what happens after death, and now Sylvanas is also messing around in the chaos, so we are finally confused: Are the gates of the maw already open with patch 8.3? Do we need to hurry up with dying so that we can still get to our favorite heaven? Should we emphatically help our grandparents into the afterlife with the words "Sorry Grandma, we have to hurry now"? There are a lot of interesting details as well as Lore-compliant stories and statements from the developers on this topic, and we jump right in. After taking a close look at the Shadowlands themselves in MMORE 01/2020, we dissect death in WoW and examine what happens when you die in the first place, how resurrections work in gameplay and story, and what would happen if we took everything our player characters are supposedly capable of at face value. Shoulder your proton backpack, put on the Ghostbusters music, and save the priest you trust on the speed dial of your rest stone - because we're lifting the veil and seeing what it's like to die in Azeroth.
The First Step
Before we get into the deeper processes of your soul journey, let's get one thing straight: What happens when we die in the game? By this we mean both the actual gameplay and the lore-technical transition to the afterlife. For this purpose, we'll make use of things we see and read on the screen, as well as statements from the developers and the "Chronicles" volumes one through three - these are considered official canon and contain a lot of interesting information on the subject. But let's not talk long, because we are in a hurry. Time to die! Dancing with the ghosts in Karazhan is always fun - before you kill them in a crowd. But where do "killed" ghosts disappear to? Into the Nether? Source: buffed The moment you kick the bucket in Azeroth, you already enter the Shadowlands. Correct, we have always been able to visit this plane of existence! But why do we see exactly what we have always seen, only with a gray haze underneath? The answer is not easy, but in general you can imagine it like an ocean: When you are freshly dead, you are in an echo of the real world. In our comparison, you are standing on the beach of death, while your feet are lapped by the surf. This is where all the souls are stranded who have not yet finished with their lives, have a strong will to live, or are magically prevented from continuing their journey. The moment you find your body again, you can return to life. Does this mean that each of us is virtually immortal lore-wise as long as we find our body again? No, definitely not. We all die normally when the time comes. Just think of the "Corpse Run" as a happy accident. You're not dead, you're just unconscious. You come to a little later and have to tend to your wounds first - that's why you don't get up with full life energy, but with a halved life bar. You just got away with it! The only exception to the rule, by the way, is the Demon Hunter player character (and only him), because he apparently possesses an immortal Demon Soul that keeps reforming in the Whirling Nether, as Illidan tells us in the tutorial. After destroying the World Soul of Argus, however, even our Demon Hunter champion will take a very, very long time to "respawn."
But one thing is still unclear: what about the Spirit Healers?
The first question that comes up when looking at the Spirit Healers is, of course, whether they are the new Kyrians. The answer to this is a cautious yes. Cautious because the spirit healers are obviously not simply "ascended" Kyrians with wings (the wingless Kyrians call themselves "aspirants"), but merely the "secretaries" of the nice blue guys we will meet in Bastion. Let us explain: The Kyrians in themselves are very interested in the souls of the deceased finding their way to Ouribos, the capital of the Shadowlands and "navel" of the afterlife - more on that later. Spirit healers, on the other hand, are "emigrated" Kyrians who judge whether you are ready to be sent on. If you are not yet, it's off back to your body and all you remember will most likely be the events before your "unconsciousness". We can only speculate, but since not every man and his leprechaun tells about the weird floating chicks that keep reviving people, this represents the most plausible explanation. The size is right, the wings are right, and the skin color is right: It's practically certain that WoW's spirit healers will work as the first instance for the Kyrians. Source: buffed With one exception! In Azshara, we find the quest "Simple can do anyone", during which we find out some very bizarre things about the Spirit Healers. At the request of Kalecgos, we seek out the blue dragon Azuregos and ask him to return to his old buddy. Things get really freaky when you arrive at coordinates 28/40 and find nothing there. Those who are currently playing Classic WoW will be able to guess where the former open-world boss is currently staying: He is dead. So you switch to the afterlife and find Azurego's ghost next to the spirit healer - very dead and also very satisfied. After a short conversation with the dragon, you learn that he is currently in a relationship with the spirit healer, that they are enjoying their time together and that he doesn't really want to return to the world of the living. To make a long story short, the snarky dragon is persuaded, is revived by his girlfriend Anara, and returns to Kalecgos. Much more interesting, however, is the conversation with the spirit healer. First, we learn here that spirit healers are definitely not just a gameplay mechanic, but actually have a very official place in the lore. Secondly, we learn that they have a personality and a name just like all the other rational beings in Azeroth: Anara is very kind to you and understands that Azuregos is needed in the world of the living. Third, we learn that spirit healers definitely know if a mortal is ready to enter the deeper Shadowlands, because Anara says that it is "not yet time" for us to move on. And revives us afterwards without a problem - noting that this revival is on her account, without any of the usual mali. This leads us to the question of whether the resuscitation disease also has a Lore-technical background. Unfortunately, we don't have the answer to this particular question for you. Maybe Shadowlands can help you out here?
The longest journey
Okay, you are dead and in your opinion you have done everything in your life so far. Alternatively, the spirit healers will judge that you have completed your task and are ready to begin your longest journey. To stay with our ocean parable, you now wade from the beach into deeper water and shortly thereafter are swept out into the open ocean by the tides. And the ocean is gigantic, infinitely deep, dark and wide. There is no more land in sight, no more comparison to your former life - all you see now is water. We speculate that the vortex you see when you look up into the sky in your spirit form is a foretaste of this ocean visible from the beach. Another theory is that the swirling vortex is the maw, but we think that's unlikely: the maw only becomes an issue the moment Sylvanas crumples Bolvar's Twinkle Cap, and that doesn't happen until Patch 8.3 at the earliest - and the vortex in the sky has been perched there since 2004.05:23
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You are now floating in the ocean and have no idea where to turn? No problem, because now the new Kyrians will make their grand entrance, because the guys and gals are responsible, among other things, for escorting your soul to Ouribos. Since the Shadowlands are older than pretty much everything else in the WoW cosmos, the "First City" is also an eon-old metropolis from the abyss of prehistory and at the same time the core of the Shadowlands. From here you can reach all the heavens and hells that exist in the WoW universe. At the moment, the choice of afterlives seems to be tending towards infinity, as the four worlds we will visit are only a small selection. Before the journey continues, however, you'll have to go to the so-called Soul Judge. The "boss" of the
Beyond takes a long look at your soul and then judges which afterlife suits you best. We're sure you've at least marginally heard about the function of the zones or read our article "The Shadowlands and Death in Azeroth," but for safety's sake, here's a quick rundown: Bastion is the afterlife that awaits virtuous souls. Here you will reminisce about your life and deeds, train your body and soul, and indulge in meditation. Newcomers to this realm become so-called "aspirants", that is, Kyrians without wings. Those who pass all the tests may take up the spear and shield of the Kyrians and henceforth serve the Shadowlands as guardians and pathfinders. Revendreth, on the other hand, is the realm of arrogant souls consumed by pride and envy, who still have a chance to escape the Maw. The Venthyr torture the souls entering here until they have paid their debt and are allowed to move on to another realm. Maldraxxus is not necessarily a realm designed to receive or purify souls - instead, the barren rocky landscape of Maldraxxus is practically the warforge of the Shadowlands. It is here that the endless undead legions responsible for defending the afterlife are produced. The most interesting is certainly the mystical and peaceful Arden Forest, for the gloomy forest holds the souls of nature spirits and mortals friendly to nature.
Die more beautifully
Why do we think that the glittering purple fairy world, of all places, is highly interesting? Quite simply, all the information so far has pointed to green dragons, nature spirits, and druids entering the Emerald Dream after they die - and this afterlife model works against the concept of Ardenwald. Of course, the simple explanation for this is that Blizzard simply changed the background; so-called "retcons" are nothing new in WoW lore. However, this consideration leads us to a few more special cases, because death in Azeroth is by far not as uniformly regulated as the Soul Judge would have you believe. The Holy Light, for example, guards its flock very jealously: the quest line around the crusader Bridenbrad, who can be found in Icecrown at coordinates 80/31, is a story beloved by the community about a paladin infected by the plague. Bridenbrad stands for Bradford C. Bridenbecker, a close friend of Chris Metzen and Alex Afrasiabi, who tragically died of cancer in 2007. Just as in the real world, Crusader Bridenbrad's illness cannot be cured - resulting in the brave paladin being taken by the hand of a whole three Naaru himself at the moment of his death and passing into the light itself. A beautiful scene, but one that raises the question of what "passing into the light" means. Odyn is one of many special cases in the WoW universe, because he helps himself to powerful souls without taking the detour via the Soul Judge. Source: buffed Bridenbrad is not an isolated case, for the Broken Magtoor is also dying. If you want to experience the spectacle yourself, seek out Anachoret Avuun at coordinates 27/34 in the Swamps of Misery. The peculiarity of this situation is that the broken are normally cut off from the light. However, when Magtoor succumbs to his affliction, Prophet Velen himself enters the hut and guides Magtoor, you guessed it, "into the light" at the moment of his death. We combine that this process is possible only for a select few and must be accompanied by a being who has a strong connection to the light. Secondly, it is also very likely that the soul enters directly into the Plane of Light, a separate sphere in WoW cosmology from the Shadowlands, which, along with the Plane of Shadows (not the Shadowlands), is one of the "Outer Planes" that are furthest from the Material Plane. Other examples of "special status" after death include Elementals returning to their respective Elemental Plane, and Demons reforming within the Whirling Nether. Odyn has also been helping himself quite generously to mortal souls with which he populates the Celestial Fortress lately - those who paid attention during Legion will remember that Odyn isn't exactly one of the nicest demigods and definitely harms the afterlife with this action by keeping the strongest souls from finding their well-deserved rest. Bwonsamdi also takes a special position, because he takes the souls of the trolls into "his care". Extremely disturbing, however, is that during Battle for Azeroth he showed concern for angering his "boss" if certain souls slipped through his fingers. Since we can rule out Sylvanas, Bolvar, and Helya, that leaves only the infamous "Jailer" in all likelihood.02:55
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There and back again
With the Jailer and the soul-eating maw, we finally come to one of the most interesting lore topics in WoW: resurrection! First of all, let's get one thing straight - as soon as patch 8.3 hits the servers, the maw will most likely open up and absorb all mortal souls that go over the edge from that point on. Again, and in capital letters, because it's extremely important: All souls! ALL! Not just the war criminals involved in the genocide around Teldrassil and evil bandits, but also your kind-hearted orc grandma who bakes you Christmas cookies and the heroic Stormwind soldier who pulled as many elves as he could from burning Teldrassil. Your cuddly cat. Little one-legged Timmy, who died of consumption. Remember Wyll Beton, the old butler who was Anduin Wrynn's last father figure and died peacefully in his sleep in Before the Storm by Christie Golden? Everyone. Everyone. No exceptions. You don't want your grandma and little Timmy to be super-ultra-turbo-tortured in the maw for all eternity? Then you better make sure you have good health insurance or get it over with beforehand, because ultra-maximum-torture hell awaits us all later! But what if we could just bring our loved ones back? What if we could laugh in the face of Sylvanas and the Jailer and say "not today"? Good news: To a certain extent, this is not a problem lore-wise!
Read that right, resurrections are not purely a game mechanic, but are definitely anchored in lore. As an example, let's take the quest "The Tome of Revelation", which you can play on the Classic servers. Here, at coordinates 39/27 in the Church of Stormwind, we find a paladin quest giver who will teach you your resurrection spell in exchange for reviving a dwarf named Henze Faulk - in this case, with the help of a holy symbol. When you get to Henze (73/52), he is definitely dead. Not exhausted, not "almost dead", but dead. After you use the symbol, Henze congratulates you on your power and thanks you for "bringing him back". So we can bring back dead characters. But what are the rules for a Lore-compliant resurrection? The quest "Redemption of the Dead", which could be accepted in Silvermoon before Cataclysm, provides clarity. Here you must resurrect a Blood Knight named Sangria's Stillstrike - and be quick about it, because we learn that a creature cannot be dead for too long for the resurrection magic to work. Another example of this is the orc in the trailer for The Burning Crusade, who is revived by a blood elf. And before you complain, no, he wasn't just wounded. Check out the trailer, the poor guy had definitely been through it. At least until his girlfriend brought him back. On display on both the Live and Classic servers is the impressive life-and-death mastery of Inquisitor Sally Whitestring. She first revives Renault Mograine, consolidates her powers after her first defeat, and then easily brings Durand back to life - both revivals are absolutely ironclad in lore and by no means just a boss mechanic. Want more examples? No problem. Arthas' former mentor Tirion Fordring revives us during the boss fight against the Lich King. Again, we weren't "badly wounded" or anything like that, but dead - as well as in the fight against Argus, which we could only win by using Eonar, because Argus flattens the raid within seconds. Sure, because Argus is the "Death Titan", it's what he was created for, just as Eonar is the Titan of Life. So death in Azeroth is nowhere near as final as all the dramatic cutscenes would have us believe. So why do people still die in Azeroth?
Ever since Rastakhan made a pact with Bwonsamdi in WoW, the royal bloodline of the Zandalari has been closely connected to the realm of death. We are curious.
No ruler of the underworld?
Bwonsamdi, the Lich King, Helya, Odyn, Mueh'zala, the Jailer - there are so many gods in Azeroth who are responsible for death and the afterlife that it gets a bit crowded in Olympus. We wonder if Shadowlands will remedy that in that regard. And when, at the end of the expansion, a certain ethically challenged undead sits on the throne because she wanted to "free" us from the start, we'll probably fire our PC out the window at the speed of sound.
Who wants to live forever?
Reading the lines above, you might be led to believe that death in Azeroth is pretty easy to "cure": drag your paladin buddy into the house for a minute and Grandma will be fine. After all, the guy can not only resurrect but also cure diseases, right? Also, with the amount of adventurers bumbling around Azeroth, it should be possible to drag a friend who died violently to the nearest temple, slap a generous donation on the table, and wait ten seconds for your colleague to stagger back out of the church, somewhat pale but in perfect health. So why do important characters, such as Saurfang, die when resurrections are firmly entrenched in the world of World of Warcraft (buy now €14.99 )? For one thing, of course, there's the obvious disconnect between gameplay and lore: it's a generally accepted fact that we don't get a slap on the seat of the pants from the nearest druid or priest every two or three minutes and return from the realm of death when the boss is once again polishing the floor with the raid.
Why are there no recognizable human features in the "invisibles" in Raven's Flight? And why are they invisible when other spirits are not? Source: buffed On the other hand, there are indeed occasions when resurrection is simply absolutely impossible: Frostmourne's victims no longer possess a soul, because after the death stroke it is in the blade itself. A horrible fate, which accordingly causes sheer horror among all the leaders - further proof that resurrections do play a role in the considerations of the Lore characters. Likewise, resurrection becomes impossible if the soul of the person in question has been buried in the machines of the Burning Legion. The moment it is consumed, the soul is gone and your buddy is dead forever. In the end, the resurrector may simply be unlucky: In the novel The Lord of Clans, the shaman Drek'thar was unable to bring his wife back to life because the elements simply refused. Since druids in particular are also committed to a natural balance between life and death, tree huggers will probably also be difficult to persuade when it comes to cheating death. Undead, by the way, are usually just the "shell" of mortals, while their souls continue to bounce around in the afterlife of their choice. One exception is various Scourge constructs, such as Thaddius, which explicitly serve as prisons for the souls of women and children - and you thought the Burning Legion was bad.
Mages can resurrect?
No, they can't.People like to use Medivh's mother Aegwynn as an example, who brought her son back from the swirling Nether - but that required the last of the Guardian of Tirisfal's magic, as well as her special bond.To flesh it all out a bit, the RP community has been pondering this for a long time. One fairly plausible theory, for example, is that the body of the returnee must not be too damaged - our favorite dust pile Varian Wrynn sends his regards. This is consistent with the known resurrections in the lore, with one prominent exception: Loramus Thalipedes, a demon hunter whose quest you can accept in the Devastated Lands at coordinates 63/26. Poor Loramus has literally been hacked to pieces and can only be revived when you put his body together like a Loramus puzzle. Despite his condition and the long time, the ritual works without any problems, so you can talk to Loramus afterwards. A very interesting special case - and probably the exception that proves the rule. Also interesting is the theory that powerful characters are difficult to bring back to life, because their soul is closely connected to the respective afterlife - the more powerful the character, the less likely that a resurrection will work. This also explains special cases, such as Saurfang or Vol'jin. The latter, in particular, had a lot of bad luck with his poison cure: would a quick nature cure really be too much to ask? It becomes trickier with this explanation approach with the question, why there are then still dead farmers. Couldn't all the war victims be lined up like dominoes and simply assigned a priest to revive them? And the most important question of all: Can we still resurrect and create death knights once the maw opens? The ghosts in the Kodo Graveyard in WoW are almost invisible. What happens to the animals in Azeroth after death? Because apparently they have souls. Source: buffed
Beyond the Horizon
We're mostly looking forward to Shadowlands because the expansion has the potential to finally fill in a lot of blanks when it comes to death in Azeroth. It doesn't matter if you're a pig farmer or a paladin general, if you're resurrected and nursing your body ... Sooner or later you will embark on your final journey. And since there are an endless amount of interesting concepts for the afterlife in Azeroth, we fervently hope that we'll get to see one or two more spheres during the lifetime of Shadowlands. We want to know if the inhabitants of Azeroth remember the spirit healers! If animals have souls, will they be sorted into the Forest of Arden? And finally, tell us how the resurrection thing works! So many questions, so many possibilities. We'll have to be patient until the first playable version of Shadowlands arrives. And until then, we'll continue to explore the final frontier in Azeroth - after all, the Spirit Healer is a good acquaintance by now.Support buffed - it'll only take a minute. Thank you!
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