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Dethroning the Bronzebeards: Dark Irons and Dwarven Women

May 25, 2011

In my previous article on Dwarven artifacts, I highlighted the traditional Titan-based artifacts favored by the Explorer’s League as well as trivial current objects that reflect Dwarven culture. Today, I’ll look at Dwarven artifacts paying tribute to the Dark Irons, a clan bound in slavery to Ragnaros. Much has been made of the controversy surrounding Moira Bronzebeard/Thaurissan’s kidnapping and subsequent alliance with the Dark Irons, both from a political and feminist standpoint; there’s additional Dwarven artifacts that complicate these analyses and present the Bronzebeard clan in a worse light. Progressive from some angles, foolish from others, the Dark Iron Dwarves are a more multifaceted clan to players now thanks to their inclusion in archaeology. History is written by the victors; with Moira the heir to the Ironforge Throne, it’s in her hands to reshape the patriarchal narrative of the Bronzebeards into one that’s murkier, but more fulfilling.

A collection of dwarven artifacts helps the player navigate through the political intrigue behind the Dark Iron Dwarves—much more subtle than the Dark Iron stealing beer during Brewfest. These artifacts also allude to the ghosts of famous Dark Iron dwarves that reside in Blackwing Descent, some of which were unknown prior to Cataclysm. The Dark Iron dwarves, exiled to Redridge after the War of the Three Hammers, later became slaves to Ragnaros and live in Blackrock Depths. Their loyalty to Ragnaros is reflected in their strange orange eyes and unearthly grey skin. More recently, the Dark Iron dwarves have become splintered. The Thorium Brotherhood, friendly to both factions, formed to maximize business profit. Some Dark Iron belong to the Alliance now, following Moira Thaurissan, the daughter of Magni Bronzebeard who was ‘kidnapped’ in suspiscious circumstances by the Dark Iron. Other Dark Iron allied with Deathwing by joining the Twilight Hammer. Since Moira has been trying to force Ironforge to accept the Dark Irons, the new interest in Dark Iron artifacts is a logical conclusion. While the Bronzebeard-led Explorer’s League may not be thrilled to highlight these artifacts, perhaps Moira’s regime would.

The epic Staff of Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan references the leader of the Dark Iron dwarves during the War of the Three Hammers. Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan was responsible for accidentally summoning Ragnaros in his desperation to reclaim Ironforge, instead leading to his death and the formation of Blackrock Mountain. In this brief description, his fierce loyalty towards his clan as well as his hot-headedness is apparent, echoed in the Spirit of Thaurissan’s special ability, which increases his damage done. It’s a surprising move that the curators of Azeroth saw fit to assign such value to a weapon owned by the Dark Iron, a tribe initially portrayed as completely villainous.

The Mithril Chain of Angerforge is a chain worn by Thane Angerforge, the descendant of the commander of the Dark Iron armies in Blackrock Depths. The flavor text is neutral, but many players bemoan their time spent in Blackrock Depths—his armies are a serious threat. There’s two additional items in-game that speak to Angerforge’s battle prowess: the trinket Fury of Angerforge that drops from t11 trash and Angerforge’s Battle Axe from General Angerforge himself. The General used to be a challenging fight in vanilla as he would summon a party of adds to aid him at low health. While it can be dismissed as a simple boss mechanic, it is reflected in the current archaeology flavor text describing his skill at leading an army. The Spirit of Angerforge’s ability is Stoneblood, an allusion to the initial stone bodies of the Earthen.

The curators are not completely neutral to the Dark Iron, as the flavor text for the Winged Helm of Corehammer reads: “Judging from the size of this helm, Thane Corehammer of the Dark Irons must have been enormous, or possibly just enormously fat.” The Spirit of Corehammer is a bit of a pushover, he’s relatively harmless compared to the others. And in Moltenfist’s Jeweled Goblet, the curator moralizes in the flavor text, noting: “Even among Dark Iron rulers, Moltenfist’s avarice was legendary. This goblet, while once of high craftsmanship, has seen better days. It has been partially melted by exposure to lava or dragon fire.” The Spirit of Moltenfist casts thunderclap on the raid. It’s unclear beyond these two references who Moltenfist actually is—but the ruined luxurious chalice is an image that is paralleled in many other Azerothian cultures where excess has led to downfall.

The Warmaul of Burningeye belonged to Iron Thane Burningeye, a fascinating hybrid. The flavor text reads: “Iron Thane Burningeye delighted in battle. He was known to wield a pair of great warhammers. You have reassmelbed one, long drained of magic. That means the other may be out there somewhere and possibly still a potent weapon.” Burningeye, in addition to swinging melee weapons imbued with magic, also has a pair of cloth healing bracers named after him. He’s a mix of contradictions and there’s all sorts of speculations on what his missing weapon could be. It’s interesting to note that while the weapon currently lacks magic, it’s still worth a fair amount, when compared to a Draenei scabbard that has lost its magical properties. The Spirit of Burningeye has a warrior-like whirlwind ability.

While previous Dark Iron Thanes have been described in neutral or positive ways, Iron Thane Shadowforge by all accounts was a villainous leader in the Skull Staff of Shadowforge: “The Shadowforge family has left a long stain on Dark Iron history. Iron Thane Shadowforge was by all accounts a cruel despot who tortured ad killed many of his own people. While it is generally held that he was a warlock, some accounts cling to the rumor that he was one of the first dwrven shaman.” Implying that dwarven shamanism initially took root in such a corrupt individual is controversial, as well as linking shamanism to demonic warlocks—surely that’s a new parallel! This hypothesis has evidence in the Spirit of Shadowforge, who shoots chain lightning at the raid. But perhaps there is some hyperbole in the curatorial notes. Shadowforge City, the capital of the Dark Iron dwarves, houses the Grim Guzzler, one of the most fun places in Azeroth, featuring dancing dwarves, a steady flow of alcohol, a succubus for a barmaid, and guest musical appearances by the Tauren Chieftans. Shadowforge City also houses fairly pleasant living quarters in the Domicile and is home to the renowed architect Fineous Darkvire.

Ironstar’s Petrified Shield, according to legend, was carved from an elven tree. This either shows his audacity to destroy a sacred tree of the night elves, or his diplomatic skills in convincing the night elves to allow him to do so. While he is dressed like a priest, he has a necklace and cape named after him which allude to his skill as a warrior. The Spirit of Ironstar is the worst trash mob; his special ability is Execution Sentence which marks players for death. If you kill him first, he will humorously transfer his abilities onto the remaining trash mobs, meaning you are faced with multiple paralyzed players about to die.

The Spiked Gauntlets of Anvilrage are named for one of the Dark Iron’s most powerful generals. Anvilrage amassed a large following, as “his flaming anvil insignia is visible on tabards and shields beneath Blackrock to this day. While he no longer lives to command the Dark Iron army, many soldiers still bear his name.” The Spirit of Anvilrage casts a powerful AOE stun. In addition, this artifact is worth 20 gold, slightly more than the other artifacts from the Dark Iron Thanes.

The other Dark Iron artifact that is worth 20 gold is the Pipe of Franclorn Forgewright, who was the skilled architect behind Blackrock Depths and the Stonewroght Dam. He is generally believed to be a dwarf of a good moral nature—many are surprised to learn that a Dark Iron created such iconic monuments. Players can interact with the NPC by dying and finding him as a ghost en route to Blackrock Mountain; he used to give a quest series that rewarded the player with the key to the instance. In Cataclysm, the Dark Iron dwarves have rightfully reclaimed possession of the Stonewrought Dam, but Deathwing destroys it.

But by far the most valuable artifact is the Word of Empress Zoe, which vends for 375 gold. The text reads “The Word and the Oath of Empress Zoe were once a pair of powerful magical rings. The ring you have recovered was the Word, which sadly was stripped of its magical properties when it was shattered. The Oath has been lost but may yet endure. The empress herself was a little known Dark Iron ruler. Many dwarves lost their lives humoring her obsession with dragons by attempting to steal their eggs or young.” This artifact raises several immediate questions: Why is it worth so much, especially if she is little known? Is the high price a tribute to her skills? Or is it similar to a bride’s dowry in which a woman is measured by her economic worth? Why was the ring shattered in the first place?

Not all these questions can be answered, but starting from the basics and moving upwards, here’s a crack. The Oath of Empress Zoe remains in-game; it’s an epic drop from the Lich King’s cache after completing Halls of Reflection in Icecrown Citadel, the hardest 5-player dungeon. Zoe could be a reference to the Empress Zoe in Age of Mythology and Age of Empires III, which Ghostcrawler worked on. But that reference had to evolve from an out-of-game reference, so Zoe could also be a reference to the Macedonian queen, Zoe Porphyrogenita, whose name means “born into the purple,” easily spun into a witty reference on epics. Zoe, spending the first fifty years of her life in obscurity, successfully navigated a web of court intrigue, serving as consort to three emperors. She kept herself in the public sphere, without becoming so entrenched in politics that she ended up blinded, exiled, or poisoned like her more-famous political contemporaries. Early historians had negative things to say about her rule, but other historians have pointed out how she was a fair ruler.

The Oath/Word are ironic names, if alluding to Zoe Porphyrogenita, considering the fake pledges and alliances she formed to stay ahead in society. She poisoned one husband, marrying a lover the next day. She exiled her more-talented sister to a monastery, yet later on in life shrewdly allowed her sister as well as her third husband’s mistress to hold elevated positions of royalty. Her alliances, while fickle, were also powerful with long-lasting repercussions. Zoe Porphyrogenita was charismatic and beautiful; it appears Empress Zoe was particularly convincing as well, coaxing numerous dwarves on foolish suicide missions.

Female rulers in history are rare; their achievements are downplayed or they are dismissed as a ruler’s mistress. Ironforge is the only Alliance city currently to not include female guards. Modgud, the wife of Sorcerer-Thane Thassaurian, was a competent military leader that organized the assault on Grim Batol, yet she receives less attention than her husband does and no archaeological tribute. Empress Zoe probably did exert considerable power in her time; a rare feat considering the paucity of other dwarven artifacts owned by female rulers. In the hands of a vengeful curator (or a sexist one, based on the treatment of other dwarven women), her legacy could be misinterpreted, leading to the contradictory text.

A contemporary dwarven female ruler we have for reference is Moira, who left the Bronzebeards to ally herself with the more, as she claims, respectful Dark Iron clan. As the handful of known female dwarven rules were affiliated with the Dark Irons, there may be some truth to this. Treated poorly by her father, King Magni, who was disappointed his child was not a son, she ran away to the Dark Iron dwarves and married Dark Iron Emperor Dagran Thaurissan. Her escape was hushed up and described as a kidnapping by the Dark Iron dwarves instead. In Cataclysm, she returned to Ironforge with her young son to claim the abandoned throne. She further complicated issues by holding Ironforge and Prince Anduin Wyrnn hostage, requiring King Varian and SI:7 to storm Ironforge and threaten to assassinate her. As a result, the Council of the Three Hammers was formed, to guide her into becoming a fair leader (or, to hold back her power because she was a woman speaking out), as she and her son are the rightful heirs to the throne. While Moira’s recent behavior is questionable, she grew up belittled by her father for her gender. Taking any measures possible to secure respect and power was a logical choice, even if her form of power is currently limited and overly traditional.

The Innkeepers Daughter, of which much has been written about, reinforces the negative stereotypes Moira faced growing up in the Bronzebeard clan. This tale of a rebellious daughter turned into a hearthstone, with hints of slut-shaming underneath, drew much ire when first introduced.  In 4.1 additional animations were added to the hearthstone; a ghostly female dwarf sometimes follows the player around, blowing kisses and disturbingly collapsing, turning into a corpse. While the presence of such an item does not mean that Blizzard supports the ignorant views of the dwarves, adding controversial items is always a risk, especially in a fantasy world that already has a disproportionate ratio of successful and famous male to female NPCs. Sadly, the attitude taken by the controlling father in the tale resonates in Moira’s story; daughters should be obedient and not stray from home, or else they face censure.

There’s some women present in a few more artifacts: the door knocker and chalice. While the Bodacious Door Knocker can be analyzed as simply a bawdy pun on the word ‘knockers,’ it furthers the virgin/whore dichotomy present in other aspects of Dwarven culture. Outside of Zoe’s artifact, women are not a political presence in dwarven archaeology. The Innkeeper’s Daughter is shamed for her sexuality, while in other sections of towns, there were successful brothels as evidenced by this door knocker. The description of the knocker is fairly intricate, implying the establishment was well-to-do in order to commission one that would be expensive. In the Chalice of the Mountain Kings, dwarven women warriors perform a sword dance, described as “part ritual and part mock battle, apparently evolved from bloody duels fought during less sophisticated times in dwarven history.”  Women warriors are celebrated for their skills as entertainers off the battle field; the artifact is also a relic of “less sophisticated” times, subtly criticizing the ceremony. Women in contemporary Bronzebeard society are property: either daughters that contribute to a family’s worth, entertainers, or goods as part of a transaction.

Fortunately, Cataclysm has introduced several female characters that show that dwarven society may be changing for the better, especially with the integration of the Wildhammer Clan; their women are bold but are not shamed for their actions. (There’s even something to be made of how the Wildhammer value their gryphons: Sky’ree died protecting her nest, but she was characterized as a war hero.) Stormcaller Mylra, a Wildhammer shaman allied with the Earthen Ring in Deepholm, is a tough interrogator. She questions a reluctant ogre about the Twilight Hammer, pressuring him to respond by dangling him above a propellor. She ignores his insults about her angry attitude and short appearance, successfully getting the information she needs.

Fanny Thundermar, an eligible bachelorette in Twilight Highlands, reinvents the cliché tale she’s trapped in. Your player initially tries to marry her off to bring about a political alliance between quarreling families. Instead, she proves to be more interesting than expected. When your player goes to save her from ogres, she announces that she’s already dealt with them herself. When you go to escort her out, she runs ahead and you’re left to escort her scared fiancé. And when your player asks her about the wedding proposal everyone is suggesting, she laughs and says “You, Kurdran, Firebeard, and now my brother- everyone’s got wedding fever! Fine, fine, I’ll marry Keegan Firebeard. But only ‘cuz he’s strong and handsome, with a jaw that can cut gravel and an arse like an anvil. Not for any political reasons.” Fanny resists falling into stereotypes; she’s comfortable both planning a wedding, slaying ogres, and cracking jokes.

While players level up primarily as allies of the Bronzebeard clan, this handful of Dark Iron artifacts presents a more nuanced version of the opposition. And in some respects, the Bronzebeards come out the worst; they’ve created a culture so steeped in patriarchal tradition that it promotes legends such as The Innkeeper’s Daughter, while the cultures of the Wildhammers and Dark Irons promote more respect for women and their own choices.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2011 6:37 am

    Love it 🙂 I will also say, it’s worth noting that Moira is not queen in her own right – she’s Queen Regent on behalf of her son, and thus is holding power in a traditional feminine way. SPOILERS FOR THE SHATTERING: Her coup is prevented by Varian, who then forces the dwarves to make a council rather than allow her to rule because he believes she is too immature to handle matters herself. SPOILERS OVER.

    Great article, wonderful series.

  2. May 25, 2011 6:52 am

    I’m so glad to see a post covering the Dwarven artifacts, particularly where they give insight into the Dark Iron culture Moira was kidnapped/escaped into. I feel like I keep making comparisons to Hesione of Troy lately, but Moira’s story always felt very similar to me – kidnapped for political reasons but in the end doesn’t want to be rescued because the rescue isn’t for her own sake but again for political reasons. (And if the quest text is Moira herself and not the ‘spell’ Thaurissian cast on her, because she cared for the Emperor.)

    Great post, as always. Loved the information about Empress Zoe.

  3. May 25, 2011 6:57 am

    Hi there, I haven’t read this blog much (but probably will from here on!), and I wanted to note one thing, that maybe is a sort of possible cross-reference, specifically regarding Iron Thane Shadowforge’s artifact. I do want to preface though that there are some timeline facts or otherwise some names that I may get incorrect (and at the moment, considering what time it is, can’t be buggered to cross-reference on Wowpedia).

    Now, in current Warcraft lore, the orcs of Draenor were originally shamanistic. I’m not sure if it has to do with Medivh specifically, or with Grommash Hellscream, but I do believe Mannoroth was involved in this whole deal. When we look at orcish warlocks, this all actually came about due to Gul’dan, formerly a shaman if I remember correctly, making some sort of pact with the Burning Legion, and thereby corrupting his shamanistic abilities, and allowing him to become the first warlock of the orcs (hence, the Skull of Gul’dan that drops from Illidan, and how big a part of warlock lore that whole deal is, not to mention a huge quest chain in Shadowmoon Valley).

    Now, we also have Ragnaros and Deathwing to account for in this expansion (not to mention previous expansions in some way, shape or form). I don’t remember how much the Old Gods have to do with the orcs of Azeroth short of Ahn’Qiraj events, but they do have to do with Deathwing and Ragnaros (and to a degree, Al’akir – see, the Orsis quest chain in Uldum).

    What I have to wonder is if there’s a correlation between the Old Gods and the Burning Legion in some fashion (perhaps they have ties to Sargeras?), since given the events of Mount Hyjal, and low level draenei quests, races of Azeroth were definitely aware of the Burning Legion. It stands to reason that the Old Gods may have been involved with the Burning Legion in some way, as well.

    Additionally, since the Old Gods also corrupted Nerubians and Qiraji (though in different manners), it also could mean that that corruption extended to Ragnaros. See, C’thun and Cho’gall. Throughout all this, there’s also Illidan to contend with in the midst of everything, and that whole deal – also going back to both the Old Gods and the Burning Legion via Arthas, namely with Yogg’saron and Kil’jaeden. (It really is interesting how all these major plotlines tie together so subtlely.)

    So to bring this full circle, do you think that the Old Gods of Azeroth may have been in cahoots (so to speak) with the Burning Legion, and that this corruption of shamanism led to dwarven and orcish warlocks in the same kind of manner? Moreover, one has to wonder how troll warlocks came about, with their loa, especially since they’re a primarily shamanistic race, too. I’d venture to guess that, after a fashion, the trolls have to answer to the Gurubashi (and, in more recent events, Zalazane) for this. Still, gnomes and humans also have warlocks. Does this tie back into Yogg’saron, since Earthen -> Dwarves, Mechagnomes -> Gnomes and Vrykul -> Humans? Lots to ponder.

    Very, very interesting article here, thanks for posting. 😀 Definitely bookmarking this blog.

  4. perculia permalink*
    May 25, 2011 7:42 am

    Going back to your comment on twitter about the Innkeeper’s Daughter, at first I thought that in a twisted way, she had achieved her goals (if part of her father’s displeasure is interpreted as her desire to travel/gain independence); to travel around the world and see great adventures, to follow a player around on epic questlines instead of being stuck in a small dwarven village. But with the emotes you brought up (kissing and then dying), it just makes her portrayal worse and further slams her sexuality.

    Magni and Moira present two different versions of what happened with the Dark Irons; I suppose it’s another case of the victors writing history and the truth is somewhere in between. I did find it interesting that even back in vanilla, Blizzard was adamant to show that political change occurred after you finished the BRD quests to ‘save’ her–odd considering how many other quests/zones didn’t reflect your past involvement. You killed a High Priestess of Thaurissan every following time, implying that something happened to Moira.

    I tried to look up some of the old BRD quests: . It does seem that Magi’s response at the end is political instead of personal: ” It seems that even in death, Thaurissan has won.”

    And I agree, Zoe is awesome. I’m glad there was a story to her instead of being someone’s relative at Blizzard.

  5. Lani permalink*
    May 25, 2011 7:44 am

    Where’s my “I love this post!” macro when I need it?! Seriously, I love this post. Cataclysm, and The Shattering have been really fantastic for dwarven lore, and you’re right that the the Bronzebeard clan has suffered for it. As I mentioned in the comment to your last post, in WoW up until this point the dwarven lore really has been all about how Bronzebeards are THE dwarves, and THE good guys, with Dark Irons omg evil and Wildhammers just sort of inconsequential. I love how this is being undermined in Cataclysm. I love that Moira’s character is so ambiguous (though if she ends up being evil I will cut somebody), but also easy to empathize with because you know if I were in her position I wouldn’t be too fond of the Bronzebeards either. And I’d be mad as hell. That the Bronzebeards’ cultivation of themselves as the good guys is crumbling as more information gets out and the other dwarven clans refuse to be overshadowed by them anymore is really telling as to how much of the history has been glossed over or “revised” to sell a particular image. I would not be disappointed to see Bronzebeard culture forced to restructure itself to address its failings.

  6. perculia permalink*
    May 25, 2011 7:47 am

    That’s definitely an important point–I’ve edited a few sentences to make it clearer that I’m a bit skeptical about the council (as opposed to summarizing Varian’s ideas but sounding like I agree with them). I mean, someone causing that much political upheaval/holding royalty hostage is probably not the best leader, but it’s not like WoW has all perfect logical leaders on the throne–a lot of rulers get away with the same or worse without needing to be watched.

  7. perculia permalink*
    May 25, 2011 8:07 am


    Thanks for your long comment!

    I think after this series is over (maybe a month?) it would be neat to perhaps spotlight the reasons for various class/race combos (e.g. a night elf rogue will belong to different groups than a human rogue) and hopefully untangle some of the stranger ones like troll warlocks.

    As for the Old Gods, well we know in game that they’re involved in corrupting the Emerald Dream, there’s groups of Twilight Hammer cultists in Silithus, BRD, Darkshore, and Grim Batol (with the Burning Legion having similar sorts of cults–would be interesting to compare), and that the Old Gods have the power to corrupt heros/players (see the corrupted princess in Silithus). Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a clear link between the Old Gods and the Burning Legion ingame–but–I can see how they could be related. Inspired by the story of the shadow princess in Silithus being corrupted by the Old Gods, I wrote a backstory for one of my alts; she was a mage in Dire Maul that had her magic corrupted by the presence of the demon Immo’lthar.

    I am a fan of any demonic-related plotlines, so I would personally love to see the Old Gods and Burning Legion team up. I think that the Old Gods resent the Titans for being defeated, so it’s logical that some would want to follow Sargeras who turned on the Titans. It seems this expansion, dwarf shaman are all about the Earthen Ring/Wildhammer Roots (or at least, that sounds better for historical purposes over THE DARK HAS CREATED YOU), but I wouldn’t rule out other fringe groups. My characters have somewhat rambling backstories, and if I ever rolled a dwarf, I would most likely write her as a Dark Iron after this convo 🙂

  8. May 25, 2011 8:34 am

    You’re welcome, it was definitely fun to read. 🙂 Sorry for the wall of text, re-reading it makes it seem kind of rambly, though. 😡

    My main idea behind the Old Gods-Burning Legion bit was the intent of both of them seeking destruction of worlds (or in a more limited sense, Azeroth, since we don’t know *for sure* if Old Gods are related to any on other planets). Plus, we also have the whole idea of Xoroth, if you remember the old warlock mount quest chain, which innately ties to the Burning Legion via demons, and that also ties into the Old Gods because of the Highborne in Dire Maul with the Well of Eternity and the Sundering, since that was influential with both the Old Gods and the Burning Legion, if I remember correctly.

  9. Lani permalink*
    May 25, 2011 8:43 am

    @Tomaj @perculia I think that’s a pretty interesting take on warlocks too. The “original” orc warlocks were corrupted shaman so I think it would be reasonable to speculate that dwarvish warlocks could have their roots in the same place. However I think that warlocks have also stemmed from corrupt mages (i.e. Highborne back in the day, who came across the Burning Legion via experimentation with arcane magic), so I would tend to think that human and gnomish ‘locks stem from that direction. Maybe trolls too, since trolls have been mages for ever? Troll culture is significantly different in this aspect, historically.

    I think a connection between the Burning Legion and Old Gods would be fun, plot wise. And interesting to see how different magical heritage (shamanism, arcane) can potentially lead to the same place if things go wrong…

    Edit: well, trolls have been shaman forever, too. TROLLS YOU ARE MY WRENCH IN THE WORKS. (Not really, I think troll lore is pretty fascinating. But trolls definitely have a different feel to them in Azeroth, as compared to other groups.)

  10. perculia permalink*
    May 25, 2011 8:54 am

    @Lani I really think trying to send a new thesis draft out has contributed to my hatred of the Bronzebeards. I think it’s SO interesting how we’ve got years of the Explorer’s League everywhere and then not many artifacts are actually related to their goals/Ironforge Museum. The more we learn, the more they seem like a bunch of ‘well-meaning’ explorers in the style of the Renaissance, that we celebrate without knowing quite why.

    I would love to see some changes reflecting the shifting dynamic in this year’s upcoming Brewfest, but I don’t think I’ve datamined anything from the database yet!

  11. May 25, 2011 8:56 am


    Yeah, class speculation is definitely an intriguing thing (I’m also of the opinion troll witch doctors were the original shadow priests – NOT undead).

    And you are correct, some of the warlocks were corrupted mages (see, blood elves, possibly humans and gnomes), though I think that Yogg’saron’s influence could definitely have also been part of gnome and humans turning to fel magics as well. That, and perhaps dwarven warlocks came from both ends – shaman and mages, since Dark Irons had both.

    The question on troll warlocks (or any of their magic classes, actually) come about specifically because of the loa. It’s really an unknown how much of their lore ties into demonic influence, short of the Zalazane events. But, given that trolls have shadow hunters (which are basically shadow priest/hunter/shaman combinations). Interestingly, night elves have no warlocks, Highborne or otherwise, hence my bit of speculation regarding Dire Maul and Xoroth (or more specifically, Immol’thar and Prince Tortheldrin – I think that’s his name).

    With Arthas corrupting the Sunwell, and Kael’Thas Sunstrider destroying it (and later aligning with the Burning Legion, leading to Scryer defection), this is an easy way to go with Blood Elf mages becoming warlocks.

    What’s funny to note, though, is that out of all the races, ONLY Trolls, Undead and Blood Elves are actually accepting of their warlocks. Orcs, Humans, Gnomes and Dwarves all tend to oust theirs (as can be seen in lower level areas like Goldshire, Kharanos and Valley of Trials, never mind their specific places in Orgrimmar, Ironforge and Stormwind for those particular races).

    I was actually extremely saddened that there wasn’t any specific lore tied into troll warlocks with the new Cataclysm starting zone, like there is with druids, as a side note.

  12. May 26, 2011 12:02 pm

    Great post! The Cataclysm world has been so full of dwarf lore, it’s almost overwhelming. I remember studying those Archaeology dwarven artifacts myself, recently, though I didn’t examine their specific abilities and how they’d relate – very interesting to read. 😀 (Also, have you noticed how of all the Thanes, only the one wearing the priest robes has a different weapon? He has a polearm, but all the other Thanes have identical hammers. Anyway…)

    And the new female Dwarf NPCs are quite entertaining and most importantly, strong independent characters. I have no doubt that both Fanny and Mylra are already fan favorites among many players, regardless of gender. And Moira is certainly interesting, though she hasn’t done much in-game…yet. I hope they don’t waste her potential. And I REALLY hope they don’t make her “Oh, I was being influenced by demons, I’m actually a very nice, servile girl after all!” because that would cheapen her great, believable personality. At the same time, I don’t want her to be openly plotting like Magatha. Hmm. Moira’s such an enigma!

    As for orc warlocks originally being shaman, this is true, but they’re not directly related. Their shamanistic powers didn’t become “corrupted” into fel magic, but rather, they lost their shaman powers completely as a result of what they were doing to the Draenei, and then opted to become Warlocks so they could once again use magic against their foes. I don’t think their pasts as shaman really had anything to do with their becoming warlocks except that they were spellcasters who were used to wielding magical energies.

  13. Siadea permalink
    May 27, 2011 1:20 am

    Are you sure that the trolls are all that accepting of warlocks? After all, when you ask one of the Darkspear guards for the trainer, they pretty much tell you that you’re crazy for wanting to mess with that stuff. I was pretty ticked to see the warlock standing right next to the priest, until I realized that the priest could be keeping an eye on her, rather than tacitly approving of her.

    As for this post itself: THANK YOU for writing it!! I’ve wanted to play a dwarf, but I never could find an ‘angle’ into their lore; it just left me cold. Now, though, now I have a hook.

  14. May 27, 2011 5:10 am


    It’s relative to other races. Example, in the starting zone on the Echo Isles, warlocks are right there with everyone else. Humans, dwarves and gnomes are all kind of off to the side away from everyone – out of sight, out of mind. Same goes with rogues.

    But, anyway, here’s what the Darkspear guard says:

    “You be crazy, mon, meddlin’ with dat bad mojo. But I ain’t one to stop ya.” It’s also interesting to note that it’s near the shadow priest’s shrine (this again leads back to my earlier point with my own belief troll priests were the first shadow priests). So anyway, back to my point – they’re accepting. They may not necessarily approve entirely, but they’re aware that it’s part of their society, and they’re okay with it. Before, an orc guard would take offense to your even asking for a warlock trainer (now they just give you directions, which is a shame – no flavor text dialogue, QQ), which is a huge difference from a troll’s attitude.

  15. May 27, 2011 5:46 am

    Really interesting post, I love it! I’ve always loved the Blackrock area, so I spose that explains why I find Dark Iron Dwarves so interesting.. that and they are deep. They aren’t exactly evil but neither are they good, and we clearly don’t know enough about them. So this summary reveals so much and yeah, I got a little lost in it.

    As for Modgud, whilst she doesn’t have an artifact, you can get your hands on her blade from the first boss in Grim Batol. Thankfully she gets mention somewhere ^^

    I never really saw the sexism prevalent in Dwarven culture either, aside from Moira and her father’s relationship, it’s not something that comes to mind when you think of Dwarves. You simply wouldn’t expect it.

    Very interesting post!

  16. Siadea permalink
    May 27, 2011 10:24 am

    That might be partly because warlockery is new to the Darkspear – they haven’t had time to shove it off to the side. Then again, I could be wrong. (Or projecting my troll priestess’s very strong views on the matter.) I’m leaning towards my being wrong – I think the technicalities of which class is calling on what powers are lost to most people who aren’t decently knowledgeable about priests, warlocks, or shamans.

    As for trolls being the first shadow priests – well, I’m not gonna argue! *lol* I’m horrible with dates. The one thing that bothers me a little is Blizz forgetting that actually, there are non-shadow troll priests out there. They get nothin’. The priest tier set is named after Zabra Hexx, for goodness’ sake! You know, the priest in the Ashbringer comic that threw over troll beliefs for human ones. That’s the penultimate priest of the Horde? REALLY?

  17. perculia permalink*
    May 27, 2011 1:49 pm


    I was pretty surprised myself to see how neatly the Dark Iron artifacts matched up with in-game NPCs. I wasn’t aware of the Thane with the priest robes having a different weapon, but usually I’m concerned with killing the Thanes in the wrong order so that they destroy the raid 🙂 (And we killed BoT first this week or I would have included a pic of them.)

    I think that Moira is limited by tradition–for a Bronzebeard, she’s done a lot, but in a larger context, she appears to be a traditional queen on the throne. Escaping for her was a big step. I wish Blizzard could have shown some cutscenes of her holding IF hostage; for players that haven’t read the books, they go from Magni defending IF to Magni encased in crystals. I hope they don’t waste her potential and do something like ‘yay Magni has returned from the dead, everyone go back to their friendly zones.’

  18. perculia permalink*
    May 27, 2011 1:57 pm


    I never really saw the sexism either on the surface (especially leveling in vanilla where everything was like ‘hooray Ironforge and Bronzebeards!); just from digging deeper and poking at the epic narrative presented by the Bronzebeards/Explorer’s League was I able to speculate on how some voices in Dwarven culture were silenced.

    It probably got axed with budget/planning, but it would have been interesting to have the Skardyn get their own models like in the beta, as opposed to having the Trogg model in Grim Batol. My priest uses Modgud’s weapon, but it would be nice to see her featured with archaeology so more players could learn about her combat skills and curse of the Skardyn.

  19. May 27, 2011 2:46 pm


    I’d actually be one to disagree. One could say the druidism is “fairly new” to the Darkspears, too, but in truth, it was just forgotten (remember the pre-Cata Zalazane stuff). Moreover, the Darkspears were originally part of the Gurubashi Empire, and even the old stuff about the Demoniac Raiments (the warlock vanilla ZG set) mentions that they had warlocks for quite a long time. So only on this point do I disagree.

    As far non-shadow troll priests, though, I definitely understand and agree, but I think the main point there is twofold. With Zabra, he’s the only “major” lore character that happens to be a troll priest. Most others were witch doctors (Master Gadrin, Zalazane), Shadow Hunters (Vol’jin, Sen’jin), or otherwise batshit insane (ZG, ZA, Zul’Drak). On the other hand, Zabra’s not exactly the greatest representative of troll priests in general; to my knowledge, one of the few that does worship the Holy Light as opposed to the Loa, like most other trolls.


  1. Fantasmical Friday #2 « Jaedia's Menagerie

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