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Episode 7
Episode 7
In the seventh BlizzCast, we take time to wrap up the second World of Warcraft expansion with Production Director J. Allen Brack and Lead Game Designer Jeffrey Kaplan. Also in this episode, Crygil sits down with Senior Vice President of Creative Development Chris Metzen to discuss the lore of Wrath of the Lich King.

Wrath of the Lich King Wrap-Up | The Story So Far
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Wrath of the Lich King Wrap-Up J. Allen Brack (Production Director - World of Warcraft), Jeffrey Kaplan (Lead Game Designer – World of Warcraft)
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Nethaera: Nethaera:Welcome to the BlizzCast, Jeff and J.
J. Allen Brack: How’s it going?

Jeffrey Kaplan: Thanks for having us.
[ 00:53 ]
Nethaera: Of all the possible expansions that could have come next, why was it important to do Wrath of the Lich King?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Well, I think we always wanted to go to Northrend when we were working on the original World of Warcraft game. We had development going on, on The Frozen Throne, so we’re working on the RTS at the same time, and we’re really inspired by the things going on in Northrend. When we wrapped up the development of World of Warcraft we started talking next expansions and came up with a lot of ideas. Our two front runners were Outland and Northrend. It wasn’t a matter of favoring one over the other it was more a matter of, you know, what’s the right timing. I think Lich King was probably very exciting to most of the team after the development of Burning Crusade. That was kind of our pushing it to the limits in terms of creativity and really testing the boundaries. Lich King was kind of this coming home experience for a lot of us.

J. Allen Brack: Yeah, Northrend actually was one of the very first zones that was prototyped back in the original days, so one of the zones that eventually we ended up making for this expansion was one of the first things that the team worked on.
[ 00:58 ]
Nethaera: Okay. So what was the most difficult decision that was made during the development process? You have all these ideas up in the air. What was it that made it so difficult?
J. Allen Brack: I think it was difficult to narrow it down from the 29 hero classes that we’ve got completed and which one we were going to go with.
Nethaera: (Laughs)
Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah. I think the class choice was super hard and eventually we had it down to three front runners which was pretty cool. We were talking for awhile about a necromancer. He would kind of be a range caster, do a lot of corpse explode, that sort of thing. Things we ended up incorporating into the death knight. We also had a cool idea for a rune master. That was going to be more of a melee type. Think rogue or monk type character, but death knight ultimately fit.

I know another hard decision that we had was what to do with the raiding game. I think steering it toward the 10 and 25 person paradigm was a really tough decision because you’re kind of in theorycraft land of, “Is this going to work? Is this the right thing for the game?” You just had to have faith that we were doing the right thing and it was going to play out and be fun.

J. Allen Brack: It seems like just the first month has really validated that decision. I mean, it’s worked out really well. I think everyone is really, really excited about the 10 and 25 man.
[ 02:11 ]
Nethaera: Okay. So how many people were involved in the creation of the expansion? I mean this is a pretty monumental expansion. It’s added a lot of content, so what did it really take to put this all together?
J. Allen Brack: We’ve got about 140 people that are on the development team proper, but that is kind of a small number of people that contribute to the overall kind of the success of WoW and success of Lich King. There’s 140 developers and that’s just producers, artists, designers and programmers who are working on actual Lich King stuff. But, of course there’s a huge QA team, community team, customer service, shared technology teams, web team that, that is not part of....

[ 03:36 ]
Nethaera: In extension to that, how many work just on the lore and the quests? With the increase in specifically story driven quests this seems to have been a monumental task all in its own.
Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah well the quest and lore group did an amazing job. Obviously the vision is spearheaded by Chris Metzen, who’s our VP of Creative Development here and the Creative Director on the project. Then you have Alex Afrasiabi, who’s our Lead World Designer, really pushing the design group forward that’s responsible for the story and lore. We have a group of 5 quest designers who are absolutely amazing. They all worked on Burning Crusade so they all, you know, really know what they are doing at this point or worked on the original game. Then we’ve also, in our Creative Development group, have writers there as well who help us further flesh out the lore. So all told it’s a group of less than 10 people who are driving that story line, but they’re just so good at it they’ve been doing it for so long and they work well with each other so I think that’s why it all kind of came together.

J. Allen Brack: I think, you know, we certainly had a renewed interest or a new focus on story on really wanting to take the story to the next level after Burning Crusade. And yeah, those guys just did an amazing job and really bringing a lot of the story to the forefront and a lot of stuff that are really good elements that people can get behind. So yeah it’s really exciting to see … really exciting to play.
[ 04:19 ]
Nethaera: Excellent. What was one of the key elements that was learned from the Burning Crusade expansion that was important to the development of Wrath of the Lich King?
J. Allen Brack: Don’t dump the entire server into Hellfire Peninsula the second the expansion ships. That was....
Nethaera: (Laughs)
J. Allen Brack: That’s a good one.

Jeffrey Kaplan: That was a big one.

J. Allen Brack: Yeah. I really ... just kind of carrying in from the story question, I really like the decision to really push Arthas, or in this case the big bad guy, much more in the face of the person who’s even leveling up. You know we spent so much time in having this great hero Illidan in Burning Crusade, but not that many people got to interact with him or got to see him, and I really appreciate the Arthas cameos that show up throughout the expansion and, of course obviously, the new death knight class is all about your interaction with Arthas. So yeah, that to me is really exciting. A really big lesson.

Jeffrey Kaplan: We learned a lot of little lessons too. Itemization is greatly improved over what it was in Burning Crusade, and I think we can do even better but; an example is the heroic itemization players actually want to run heroics in Lich King the items feel good, they’re rewarding and you know, like I said, there’s a few missteps here and there that we can do even better in the future, but showing that we are watching the previous games, previous patches and learning from our mistakes.
[ 05:42 ]
Nethaera: One of the newest technologies added to the game is phasing. It has added a whole new element and is most noticeable in the Death Knight starting area. How does this technology work and how difficult was it to implement?
Jeffrey Kaplan: So one of the things people always ask us about in terms of the world is they want to have a dynamic effect on it. They want, if there is a village that’s there, full of bad guys they want to be the hero who goes in and burns that village down and drives the bad guys away. But the problem with that theory is that an hour later somebody else is going to log into the game, and they also want to be the hero and burn down the village, but somebody else got to it before them. So while the idea of a dynamic world is really cool, the reality of the game play isn’t always there. So what phasing basically is, is a tool that allows the designers and engineers to orchestrate these experiences where somebody can feel like they have a great dynamic impact on Azeroth when in reality they’re not taking any content away from anybody.
Nethaera: Right.
J. Allen Brack: Yeah, I think it’s a great tool. I mean if you play on the Horde side where you actually get to experience the lock down, the martial law of Orgrimmar, that’s a very cool scene and then for both factions the retaking of Undercity it’s just a really, really neat thing and then as you mentioned the death knight starting experience is one of the best things I think we’ve ever done. It’s very directed, very handheld kind of content delivery. It just works really well.
Nethaera: I know some people found it pretty surprising if they had never realized that was implemented in the game. They were kind of surprised.
J. Allen Brack: Yeah, we didn’t really talk too much about it, and really the people that experienced it a lot were obviously the people who were in the beta doing the death knight stuff. And kind of wondering what’s going on and how does this work. You know you can see sometimes a little bit behind the curtain as to where we’re making the changes which is a little interesting, but yeah.

Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah, I think our goal with it is to make it as seamless as possible so really the players aren’t aware that phasing is even going on. I mean it’s cool they’ve really honed in on it as almost, as a feature or you know a new addition to the game.

J. Allen Brack: Yeah.

Jeffrey Kaplan: Certainly it’s a new technology we weren’t using before, but I think our ultimate goal is that you just don’t notice that it’s happening but man is the world cool.

J. Allen Brack: Yes.
Nethaera: Right.
J. Allen Brack: Just a story telling technique.
[ 07:09 ]
Nethaera: One of the areas that we use the phasing is with the Wrath Gate and that’s a good example of an in-game cut scene as well. This hasn’t been seen in World of Warcraft before. What was the catalyst for the idea to do this and what do you feel it adds to the game?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Well I think the catalyst to do it was that our quest team, along with Alex Afrasiabi and Chris Metzen, where jamming up the expansion overall story art and part of that was to have three main story moments that would define the three acts of the expansion. And the end of the first act is that cut scene at the Wrath Gate, so obviously, you are probably wondering well what are other two acts and that’s what the patches are all about. But, they really wanted to set the stage and wanted to do it in the most dramatic fashion possible. So that’s where we got to talking about whether or not we could do an in-game cut scene. We can script a lot of things in the game engine and do a pretty cool job of it, but to really have a hand-tailored narrative experience like that, we had to go above and beyond and explore other avenues, so that’s why we developed that little movie.

J. Allen Brack: And yeah, there’s a lot of things that we’ve talked about doing this for a long time. You know, one of the things people talk about wanting to see is you go into the dungeon and you hear maybe the main boss give some kind of oration or gives you some kind of history as to why you’re there and what’s going on and that runs into a lot of problems where, you know, this is my first time in the dungeon, but I’m with 24 other guys, or 9 other guys who have seen it a hundred times.
Nethaera: Right
J. Allen Brack: And we don’t want to have to see it again. So it was also kind of, it worked really well in terms of it being part of the progressive line, part of the quest progression, part of that story telling thing where it can be a singular kind of experience that a player had and it didn’t really annoy anyone else it was just an awesome....
Nethaera: Right
J. Allen Brack: Awesome epic experience.
Nethaera: Right and they can go back and watch it again if they....
Jeffrey Kaplan: They can go back and watch it again. You can escape out of it if you don’t want to see it at all and the other thing that I think was really important with it is it was this epic story line moment that you get at level 73 or 74.

Nethaera and J. Allen Brack: (agree)
Jeffrey Kaplan: So it wasn’t something that only the end game, you know, most elite players are ever only going to have access to and everybody else just has to watch it on youtube. It’s very accessible within the game and sort of everybody can have that awesome moment.

Nethaera: Right.
J. Allen Brack: Then having the achievement tie into that is really cool because you see people get the achievement in guild and you immediately know what they’ve experienced, or are wondering what that is if you haven’t experienced that yourself, and kind of waiting for that moment.
Nethaera: Right. I’ve noticed a lot of people too are looking specifically for that quest line just so that they can do it.
J. Allen Brack: Yeah.
Nethaera: Cause they’re looking forward to it so much.
Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah.
[ 09:28 ]
Nethaera: What more do players have to look forward to in the future patches, in particular, what types of new encounters should they expect?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Well one of the things that we’ve talked about a little bit that’s on the horizon, and players should be really excited about, is Ulduar. So they’ve got to experience a little bit of Ulduar with Halls of Stone and Halls of Lightning, but we have an absolutely massive raid zone coming up and it’s going to serve both 10 and 25 person raid groups. I think that’s probably the most exciting thing on the very near horizon.
[ 12:13 ]
Nethaera: What is the one element of the expansion that you are most proud of?
J. Allen Brack: You know, I think introducing the new class into WoW was super challenging. It worked out just really awesome in just every possible way. I think the class is awesome. The dynamics are awesome. The actual gameplay is very cool. The new rune resource mechanic is great. The starting experience and the content from which you, you know, create your hero class all the way up to the moment where you’re in the world kind of on your own I think is absolutely incredible. So just that whole, you know, 2 to 3 levels that you play is a great, great fantastic thing. I love it.
Nethaera: (laughs) Jeff agrees?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Well it's really hard not to give a corny answer. Cause....
Nethaera: (laughs)
J. Allen Brack: Wait a minute. Mister corny right here.

Jeffrey Kaplan: No. No. No. I don’t think J’s answer was anything but corny, but what I was going to say is it’s sort of the way the whole expansion comes together and works with itself. I feel like the zones and the quests tie in so nicely together in this expansion. The hub city Dalaran ties in with the rest of the expansion extremely well and is much better designed and looks more beautiful than any other city we built previously. And then the way the content flows from the questing level up experience right into the dungeons and heroics and then naturally segues players into raiding. It’s just a nice experience how overall tied together everything is, but I know that’s not a single element or whatever.

J. Allen Brack: Yeah obviously I echo those things. I think it’s fantastic and it’s got a lot of lessons. The zones I think are obviously great and fantastic and just some of the best stuff we’ve done as well on that front. And the verticality of the zones, particularly in Howling Fjord, is just really great as well.
[ 12:45 ]
Nethaera: Okay. So now that the encounter with Arthas is inevitable, does this mean Wrath of the Lich King is the end of the road?
J. Allen Brack: Ar...Ar....who?
Nethaera: (laughs)
Jeffrey Kaplan: Well certainly not. I mean Arthas is just one bad guy. A lot of people will really get upset with us when we talk about Wrath of Lich King and the fact that you’re going to have a chance to encounter Arthas and they’ll say, “How could you kill Arthas? He’s what Warcraft was built on.”
Nethaera: Right.
Jeffrey Kaplan: But that really is a recent view of things. A lot of people don’t realize that Arthas was mainly developed in Warcraft III which was the game right before WoW and there were many Warcrafts before that and expansions to those RTS games where we introduced new villains and we killed them and introduced new heroes and killed them off. So I feel like Arthas is awesome, he’s one of our greatest bad guys but, you know, we can come up with a lot of great bad guys for you to fight. There’s already a lot of villains out there in the WoW lore or the Warcraft lore that people haven’t even encountered or want to know, you know, what’s going on with that. If you look at Onyxia and Nefarian, they’re just the son and daughter of a really bad guy, that nobody’s encountered yet.
Nethaera: Right. They’ve heard about him but they haven’t seen him yet.
Jeffrey Kaplan: There’s a lot of bad guys out there for the players to fight still.

J. Allen Brack: I think we also just have a lot of stories that we still want to tell, you know, we just finished the Burning Crusade expansion, but we haven’t met the boss of the Burning Legion yet. Sargeras is still out there. What’s going on with him? What is he doing? I’m certain that he’s not done. So yeah, there’s a lot of guys out there.

Jeffrey Kaplan: Plus we’re notorious for killing everybody off....

Jeffrey Kaplan and Nethaera: ....and then they come back.

J. Allen Brack: Yeah. We’re big fans of that.
Nethaera: And then you get to kill them again.
Jeffrey Kaplan: The real goal is throughout the Warcraft games how many times can you kill Mal'Ganis?
Nethaera: (laughs)
Jeffrey Kaplan: So, we’re doing a pretty good job so far.
Nethaera: Nice. Okay. Well I think that wraps everything up. Thank you so much.
J. Allen Brack: Appreciate it.

Jeffrey Kaplan: Cool. Thanks for having us.

J. Allen Brack: Thanks so much.
Nethaera: Up next we have "The Story So Far" with Community Team Member Crygil with Senior Vice President of Creative Development Christ Metzen.
[ 14:47 ]
The Story So Far Chris Metzen (Senior Vice President of Creative Development)
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Crygil: Hello everyone, this is Crygil. Welcome to “The Story So Far”. We have our special guest, Senior Vice President of Creative Development – Chris Metzen.
Metzen Hello
Crygil: Hello sir. So we have a few questions for you today.
[ 17:25 ]
Crygil: With so much of the focus on Outland last year, what has been going on in Azeroth?
Metzen: Well, all sorts of stuff. By now, everyone playing Wrath of the Lich King has pretty much seen any number of events unfolding in the world of Azeroth.

Specifically, one notable bit would be the return of King Varian from his sojurn as a gladiator, as chronicled in the comic series we’ve been putting out with Wildstorm. So that’s come off pretty cool. We’ve been very pleased with all that and his (kind of) new arrival on the scene heralds a lot of things.

We are trying to, over time, re-engage the engines of hate and violence between the Alliance and Horde. It has been argued by some that for the past couple of years, under Thrall’s leadership, the Horde has had its teeth pulled. Since he is, I guess , I wouldn’t say a man of peace, but is very farsighted. Thrall tries to stay away from petty conflicts and tries to say focused on what’s going to be best for his people. Like I said, it has been argued by some that it has decreased the sense that the Horde is a very dangerous entity when riled.

So we figured to stir that pot, it would be interesting to reconstruct an Alliance hero that could come packing and really could have a view of the orcs and the Horde that is very dangerous. So Varian could do some very interesting things, over the haul, in terms of escalating the tension between the Alliance and the Horde.

So we have had that going on... What else? Obviously the Lich King has been turning up the heat in anticipation of Wrath of the Lich King. We had the undead plague roll out. That whole event played out and further illustrated that the sense of scale and conflict is still very real with the undead. As that all rolled into Wrath of the Lich King, I think it worked very well as an experiment, as a world event, and as a fictional event. Just to show how much at stake there is, should the undead ever really plague the world.

Other than that I don’t know. I mean, there’s all sorts of little stories “popping” in what we’ve started calling “terrestrial” Azeroth. But really, I think the events of Wrath of the Lich King really show all sorts of stuff. Both factions really mobilizing their forces, heading to the north, and the Kirin Tor teleporting Dalaran up above Northrend. These are pretty big events, as the armies move north and attempt to engage the Lich King. I think that’s occupied a lot of the “happenings” on Azeroth, specifically during the end events of The Burning Crusade.
[ 17:40 ]
Crygil: So how have the happenings in Outland and the apparent death of Illidan actually affected Azeroth as a whole?
Metzen: That is a good question and, well, the death of Illidan, its kind of hard to say. I think that players of Wrath of the Lich King right now can see that we have made a concerted effort to make the villain more foreground this time. We wanted to put Arthas in your path repeatedly and really make him feel like a personal villain, like you have a personal stake in his demise.

We wanted to ramp up the tension with both factions and show that while we may yet defeat the Lich King (in subsequent patches), we are all going to lose a little bit of ourselves up there in the snow. The general war against the Scourge has cost us something, right? You have leaders like Thrall, and Varian, and you have upstart personalities, like Garosh Hellscream, really agitating things. We see that the fight against the Lich King is going to be very costly for both sides. This is a theme we are very interested in these days.

So, having said all that, when we look back on Burning Crusade, I think that one of the lessons learned is that Illidan didn’t feel very personal. You didn’t get to meet him multiple times. There were a couple bits in Shadowmoon Valley where he would make an appearance with Akama and those scenes played out, but we didn’t really feel, in looking back, that he was evident enough. So when you say we defeated Illidan, and you can argue that at some logistical level with Outland degrees safer, the universe in general is safer from the Burning Crusade. Azeroth specifically is safer from the Burning Legion, but you know, if I was just a general citizen on Azeroth, would I feel that? Would I really understand what was won in Outland? Maybe not and, in saying that, that was part of our reason to try and make the war against the Lich King feel a lot more in your face and a lot more vital.
[ 20:42 ]
Crygil: With Northrend opened and expeditions taking place right now, how have the events of the past lead inexorably towards this end?
Metzen: I guess... how to answer that safely? It would be what points in the past that your talking about? There are a number of historical events that have led towards this current conflict in Northrend. Some of which are widely known to players and some of which are not. There are plotlines that we plan on moving forward with, slowly and surely, as these subsequent event patches roll out for Lich King.

Certainly, the creation of the Lich King by Kiljaeden, as a part of the machinations of the Burning Legion, resulted in the corruption of Prince Arthas, who should have been humanity’s best and brightest. I think that story, as played out in Warcraft 3 and the Frozen Throne, really had a lot of equity with our fans at the time. So I think that story of Arthas, his fall from grace and that kind of inevitable want for justice to put him down for all the things he has done, was something that a lot of fans wanted to see. I think that particular part of this expansion sets [the] character. I mean, obviously it is central to the plot, but I think there is an emotional undercurrent about Arthas, as a villain, that is something we haven’t seen in Warcraft in awhile. I think it’s particularly cool for the fans who are familiar with this setting before, to be able to take part in the events of Warcraft 3 and really get in Arthas’s face and bring some resolution to that whole chain of events.

Apart from all that, there is a whole other aspect the Lich King, which is the Yog Saron plot line. We are suggesting that there is a certain old god component that really moves as a major undercurrent in the Warcraft continuity. Just how is Yog Saron tied to the Scourge or Lich King specifically? I won’t tell you, at this point, but it is definitely a major hook that we are driving forward. Whatever the old gods’ story is, it is not going to end in Northrend. It’s a global threat and really plays to the much broader context of what the Warcraft conflict really is.

I guess, you could say, there are a lot of things rooted in the past that have necessitated this conflict at this time. As we see the Alliance and the Horde rushing in to fight the big bad guy, you can argue that the little bits of their soul, the little bits of their sanity, that they will leave up there on the snow, even if they achieve victory, might be part of a larger machination, as well. Some thing wearing our heroes down. It’s kind of an interesting theme.
[ 22:53 ]
Crygil: With all this going on, how have the dragonflights been dealing with the threat of Arthas? Have they been continuing to see him as a threat? Is this something new and interesting to them?
Metzen: Right. As played out (at this point, I think a lot of our players have pounded through a good portion of our Lich King content so I don’t think its really spoiling anything to say that), the dragonflights have been somewhat distracted lately. They are also under siege.

I guess it wouldn’t hurt to illustrate that someone came along and created this nightmare scenario within the Emerald Dream and, effectively, really put a serious distraction along Ysera and the Green Dragonflight. Someone came along and put a zap on Nozdormu, who has been absent for a few years in the continuity, as evidenced in the Caverns of Time scenarios. So the Bronze Dragonflight is also very befuddled and distracted in this current age. The Black Dragonflight, for about 10,000 years now, has been, you could argue, distracted. It has been veered from its pure purpose in defending this earth. Not too long after that, the Blue Dragonflight got super distracted. Malygos kind of lost his mind there for awhile. So you could argue, are these random events or is there some unforeseen force at work trying to destabilize and/or bring ruin upon the five dragonflights that were originally empowered to protect this world?

As we see all those tensions play out, certainly as Malygos got his wits about him and decided to begin his great Nexus War on magic, we see the dragonflights at each other’s throats throughout all the Wyrmrest Temple quests in the middle of Dragonblight. I think we have done a pretty good job of drawing players into that conflict, into the world of the dragons. To see how their relationships are playing out, to get a sense of what Alexstrasza thinks of these times and these events playing out. So they’ve already got a lot of conflicts brewing before the whole subject of Arthas even comes up. You might wonder, well that seems very timely. So, again are these all things connected by some vast conspiracy? Perhaps that would seem to make sense at this point but, again, those are questions we will explore a little bit further down the road.
[ 26:12 ]
Crygil: So Medivh, he showed up right in the nick of time, I guess you could say, in the last true time of peril for the world. Is there any chance we will get to see him again?
Metzen: Medivh. He has had two good runs at life. Interesting story with Medivh. I think with the first leg of his career being largely unsuccessful, as he was corrupted and used by the Legion to open the portal, and thus really bring about the great conflict of the modern era. Warcraft 3 really allowed him the chance to reconstitute himself, in some form or another, and make amends for the mess that he made by rallying and acting as this sort of Gandalf-like prophet and rallying the various leaders of the Alliance and the Horde to stand against the Legion for that great battle at the top of Mt. Hyjal.

I think that as a story, dude, we have played him out and bringing him back too many times could start to feel a little X-mannish and I love me some X-men, but I don’t want to get into the whole Phoenix thing where every eight years we bring him back.

But having said that, I do believe there is a lot of equity in the legacy of the Order of Tirisfal, the legacy of the Guardian concept, the singular empowered warrior against the forces of darkness, roaming the earth like Kane. I think there is a lot of equity there.

I definitely feel that (hint, hint, hint) that it may be a plotline or a track of ideas that we are likely to get into at some future point. I think that there is a lot of really cool pepper there and we have had a number of discussions about what the Order of Tirisfal really was back in the day, how it worked, how these very disparate people imparted their powers on to a singular champion. I think there is a lot of really good hooks there.

What the question would be, with the Burning Legion essentially stymied for the time being in Outland and in “terrestrial” Azeroth, what kind of guardian does the world need now? That’s actually the cool hook that I think we’re interested in pursuing. And could the guardian take a different shape this time? What the world needed most back in the day, turned out to be some dude from the kingdom of Stormwind, but how interesting [would it be] if the guardian did not come from the human line?

So that is very fertile ground.
[ 29:17 ]
Crygil: So, let’s go back to Varian’s appearance here. With Varian appearing, how has the relationship between Thrall and Jaina persevered? Does she feel a lot of political pressure to stop making peace overtures?
Metzen: Well, I don’t know how much is a spoiler alert, but that scenario definitely plays out in Lich King, where we see the Wrathgate event. There are certain elements of the Forsaken, such as Putress and Varimathras, [who] have hatched a plan that they have had for quite a while now. To develop this super plague that will just destroy everybody. At the Wrathgate event, we finally see them enact their plan and unleash their super plague. This event really creates a lot of tension between the Alliance and the Horde and within the Horde itself. It was kind of questionable [for Thrall] to even take the Forsaken in many years ago and make them part of the Horde because of potential situations just like this.

To guys like Varian, he looks at this instance like “Hey, what did you think was going to happen? These guys are evil scum. Of course they dropped the plague on top of everybody.” So it doesn’t help Varian’s view of the Horde. Even though you can likely prove that the orcs had nothing to do with it, Thrall didn’t rubberstamp this event, but it just goes to show that the Horde is a very dangerous assortment of savage races. As seen through the eyes of Varian, “Hey Thrall, if you can’t keep control of all these bruisers, then I’m going to do something about it.” I think that’s what Varian believes and we see that play out, his very specific thinking towards all these events plays out in the Undercity quest component where we see him at the end, giving Thrall a piece of his mind. I think they actually come to blows as well. I played it the other night. It was pretty cool.

So where does young Jaina come into play? I think she has always tried to tow the line and try and keep channels open with Thrall, specifically so that area of Eastern Kalimdor didn’t just plunge into madness. You would have Theramore and Durotar, just going at it a lot more aggressively, if the two of them had not made this pact to try and contain this racial hatred that has always underlined the interactions between humans and orcs. So what the Wrathgate event and the subsequent liberation of Undercity does, is just really ratchets up the hate and mistrust and misunderstanding.

I don’t think Jaina is really gonna have any legs to stand on in terms of keeping the peace. I don’t think Jaina is going to have a lot of success in negotiating any peace accords any time soon. I’m sure it’s really heartbreaking to her because she knows Thrall and she knows what drives [him] and she knows that essentially he is a really noble guy. He’s watching as things are playing out, that are really starting to tear away at the stability of the Horde and that’s terrifying to him. We shall see what he does.
[ 32:24 ]
Crygil: Let’s shift gears a bit and take a look at some of the cool newer players. The Order of the Ebon Blade. Definitely very exciting, very new, very cool. How long has it been around? Where has it been in Azeroth?
Metzen: – Order of the Ebon Blade. So, obviously we made this thing up recently. The origins of the Order really kind of get their start with (this sounds like a plug but..) the Ashbringer comic series that Mickey Neilson is currently writing for Wildstorm. This is really the origin (in a roundabout way) of the death knights, certainly the origin of the sword and the Mograine family and Ashbringer legacy, but I think all of that really rolls one-to-one into the creation of this current order of death knights, who Darian Mograine is the chief of. Really, I think the origin of the group plays out in the death knight starting area, as you get your start as a death knight on the Lich King’s payroll. Then ultimately the intervention at Light’s Hope Chapel, by Tirion Fordring, really allows the death knights to win their freedom.

While they are still very dark and wielding very dark powers, at least they are not on the Lich King’s payroll and they are out to kind of make him pay. So, I think, in a lot of ways, we’re still kind of talking about how it will play out longer term in the world, like post-Lich King, as we deal with Arthas and put him down and dispense that justice. What happens in Northrend after that? What is the ultimate fate of the Lich King and ultimately, what is the fate of this Order of these very dark anti-heroes? When they’ve completed their mission, what do they do now? They can never go home again and eternity is a very long time if you’re one of these cats. I think that’s definitely a question we are still discussing and working through. We have some pretty cool hooks for the Order of the Ebon Blade, potentially how they play well with the Order of the Silver Hand, the paladins and the Argent Crusade. But I think a lot of that is still being discussed.
[ 36:10 ]
Crygil: Very cool, I look forward to seeing a lot more about the Order of the Ebon Blade and the Death Knights in the future. Thank you very much sir and it was great doing this wonderful segment with you.
[ 38:48 ]
Transcribed by Brennvin and Grimiku
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