It’s been a long time coming, but the major players in Duncan Jones’ Warcraft movie were finally announced this week. For the uninitiated, this amounted to little more than a collection of rather daft names (Doomhammer? Really?), but to Warcraft veterans it opened the floodgates on a torrent of franchise lore that strongly hints at the film’s ultimate story. Always willing to bring you the skinny, Empire has delved into the World Of Warcraft on your behalf to find out what it all means and where it’s going. The answers, it turns out, are well nerdy. Gird your loins, strap on your armour and venture with us into Azeroth…
Warning: what follows is canonical Warcraft lore but, depending on how closely Jones adheres to the source material, may very well spoil the entire film. You have been warned!
Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel)
Who he? The Lion of Azeroth, The Last Of The Arathi, The Champion of Stormwind – whatever you choose to call him, Anduin Lothar cast a very long shadow... and held a very large sword. The last true descendant of the ancient Arathi people, Lothar grew up in the court of the human kingdom of Stormwind, childhood friend of both the future king Llane Wrynn and the arch-wizard Medivh. He rose through the military ranks to stand at the head of Stormwind’s armies and when the orcish hordes first invaded his world, Azeroth, throwing down his (epic) gauntlet and led the charge against them.
After spending nearly two years imprisoned by ogres in the Deadmines (LF1M DPS no rouges plzzz), Lothar discovered that his former friend Medivh was responsible for the orc invasion in the first place and led a force to the tower of Karazhan to grind Attumen the Huntsman for his mount kill the wizard. Too little too late to stop the orcs, though, and Lothar snuffed it at the end of Orgrim Doomhammer’s… er, Doomhammer, which stove his head in during an epic battle at the foot of Blackrock Mountain.
Where can I find him? He features in Warcraft II. However, if you’re up for a trip to Outland you can also find a touching memorial to Lothar’s memory amid the barren wastes of the Hellfire Peninsula. The Monument of Remembrance is in the middle of the courtyard at Honor Hold and reads: "In remembrance of the Supreme Allied Commander, Anduin Lothar: A man who would sacrifice everything in the defense of his king, his people, his home… Let our enemies know our names. Let our allies honor our passing. We are the Sons of Lothar. - General Turalyon." There’s also a statue of Lothar, sword raised, to be found in the Burning Steppes, near the base of Blackrock Mountain (right). Fun fact: if you clicked on a peasant enough times in Warcraft III, he would eventually respond with the line “Uncle Lothar wants YOU!” Incidentally, Lothar’s epic weapon – 'Ashkandi, Greatsword of the Brotherhood’ – drops from Nefarian in Blackwing Lair.
King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper)
Who he? It’s good to be the king – although King Llane The First did have a harder time of it than most. Packed off to the Alliance starting zone as a child (Northshire Abbey, levels 1-5), Llane waited out the early invasion, donning the crown at the age of 20 after the death of his father, King Adamant Wrynn III. Llane spent the next ten years battling against the tide of the orcish invasion, battering the greenskins quite soundly and pushing them back to the Swamp Of Sorrows (levels 51-55; points of interest include the drippy charms of the Sunken Temple of Atal’Hakkar). Hubris was his downfall, unfortunately, and Llane became complacent that his armies had the orcs soundly thrashed. With reinforcements pouring through the Dark Portal every day, the orcs launched a series of counter-offensives, but none of that would be Llane’s problem as he had his heart torn out by the half-orc Garona. That’s not a metaphor.
Where can I find him? Well, there’s a statue of Llane in Stormwind Keep, bearing the inscription: "King Llane I of the House of Wrynn. Liege Lord of Stormwind. Defender of Azeroth. He’s also the Alliance king in the game of spectral chess you play against Medivh during the Karazhan raid." Those looking for mementos can pick up a couple by beating up Yogg-Saron in Ulduar. The Royal Seal of King Llane is a nice keepsake, complete with regal blood stains and there’s also Kingsbane, the knife used to render him heartless. It makes a halfway decent rogue weapon.
Medivh (Ben Foster)
Who he? Pronounced Meh-deev, this reclusive figure was a grand wizard (of the non-racist variety) and one of the architects of this whole sorry mess. Ambushed by jungle trolls (it happens) while out with Llane and Anduin as children, he first tapped in to his arcane powers in order to fend them off. When his powers fully manifested he lapsed into a coma for twenty years.
The unfortunate slumber was caused by Sargeras, a demon lord of the Burning Legion, who took over Medivh’s mind and set him on a path to bring Azeroth to its knees once he woke up. Medivh contacted the orcish warlock Gul’dan in another dimension and the pair of them opened the Dark Portal, which launched the orc invasion, much to Sargeras’ delight. It all comes out eventually, though, with Anduin Lothar separating mage from head, placing a curse on his tower of Karazhan (making it an unpleasant place to visit for those below level 70).
Being a grand wizard has perks, however, and Medivh returned to life, popping up as a mysterious prophet in the Warcraft III intro cinematic. He lead Thrall (son of Durotan – keep reading) to Kalimdor, and saved Azeroth by teaming up with him, mage Jaina Proudmoore and druid Malfurion Stormrage to destroy the demon Archimonde and save the World Tree, Nordrassil, at the Battle of Mount Hyjal. He also turns into a bird.
Where can I find him? A few places, actually. He features in a couple of WoW's Outland quest chains (inexplicably appearing as a Night Elf) and he pops up in the Caverns Of Time during the quest Opening the Dark Portal (aka The Black Morass). His legendary staff, Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian can be reconstructed via a gruelling, multi-part quest chain in Northrend that will suck away weeks of your life before you give up in frustration. Finally, those venturing into Karazhan’s haunted halls will end up playing chess against an ‘echo’ of the wizard (inset above). He cheats, the swine.
Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer)
Who he? A wizard of the magical sect Kirin Tor, Medivh’s apprentice and the one who outs his master's involvement with evil orc warlock Gul’dan to the king (the wizard’s code meant nothing to him). During the battle in which Lothar slays Medivh, Khadgar has his life force drained and is prematurely turned into a grizzled old man. Despite this minor setback he continues to fight the orcs and is ultimately responsible for closing the Dark Portal and severing the link between Azeroth and the orcs’ home world of Draenor. Go Khadgar!
Where can I find him? Well, he’s a level 71 quest-giver on the Terrace of Light in Shattrath City, so it’s not hard. He doles out a number of tedious catch-and-carry quests as well as a few dungeon/raid related ones as well. There’s also a statue of Khadgar in the Valley of Heroes in Stormwind City. Herbalists will have spent their fair share of time picking a plant called Khadgar’s Whisker in Feralas and the Plaguelands. A silly name, but you can use it to make an Elixir of Frost Power, so that’s nice.
Lady Taria (Ruth Negga)
Who she? Queen of Stormwind, wife of King Llane I and his most trusted advisor. She is, however, a character created for the film so… that’s all we have.
Where can I find her? In the film.
Garona (Paula Patton)
Who she? Garona Halforcen is just that: a half-orc (the other half is draenei – a magical race of “uncorrupted eredar” who have little tentacles on their chins), bred by the increasingly important evil orc warlock Gul’dan. He magically aged her and placed her under his psychic control as an assassin and spymistress. (My) Garona became Gul’dan’s emissary to Medivh but, while spying on the wizard, found her loyalties wavering and developed a strong respect for the mage. Along with Khadgar, it was Garona who uncovered Medivh’s plotting and helped bring it to light, essentially doing herself out of a job. After the magus’ death she became an adviser to King Llane but eventually murdered him at the behest of warlock sect the Shadow Council. Obviously.
Where can I find her? Yogg-Saron shows players a vision of Garona assassinating King Llane, while she can be found in the flesh at Bloodgulch in the Twilight Highlands. She also pops up in the Twilight Citadel. Fact: during WoW’s beta phase Garona could be found in Ravenholdt Manor as Grand Master of the Assassin’s Guild but didn’t make it into the final release. Her Signet Ring drops from The Curator in Karazhan, a book on her exploits can be read by would-be rogues and the Tier 9 raid armour for that class is dubbed Garona’s Battlegear. Malyfous Darkhammer of the Thorium Brotherhood also does a passable knockoff of her famous breastplate.
Durotan (TOBY KEBBELL)
Who he? Father of Thrall, nature-loving shaman and Chief of the Frostwolf clan, Durotan was part of the vanguard that launched the orc invasion of Azeroth. Far from being a loyal captain, however, Durotan had long been a thorn in the side of both the warlock Gul’dan and the Warchief Blackhand. While all the other orcs drank the warlock’s Kool-Aid (actually the blood of the demon Mannoroth, if you’re wondering), Durotan and his friend Ogrim refused. As a result he, along with the entire Frostwolf clan, was exiled once the invasion began and forced to carve out a home in Alterac Valley (a place that must have become far less fun to live in after the battleground opened in patch 1.5.0). Durotan had planned to confront Gul’dan and reveal his bargain with the demon lords but, alas, the warlock’s assassins kill him before he has the chance.
Where can I find him? Well, you can see the chieftain’s grave in Alterac Valley (if you take a few moments away from rushing the towers), and the orc kingdom of Durotar was named by Thrall in honour of his father.
Orgrim (Rob Kazinsky)
Who he? Orgrim Doomhammer (named after the legendary warhammer he wields) was one of Blackhand’s lieutenants during the invasion of Azeroth but grew suspicious of his Warchief’s motives and those of the warlock Gul’dan. After murderising Blackhand and seizing control of the Horde, Orgrim went on a warlock-killling frenzy, wiping out the Shadow Council and eradicating their influence over his orcs – although he reluctantly spared Gul’dan's life. Orgrim was also quite the diplomat, brokering treaties with the trolls and the goblins and bringing them into the Horde.
Later, betrayed by Gul’dan and pressed by the Alliance, Orgrim retreated to his stronghold in Blackrock Spire, where he defeated Anduin Lothar in single combat. Lothar’s death did not rout his armies, though, and the Alliance redoubled their attack, forcing the orcs back to the Dark Portal, while capturing Orgrim and many of his allies. He dies at the end of a lance while helping Thrall in a daring rescue attempt to free imprisoned orcs from an Alliance internment camp.
Where can I find him? The place where Orgrim died is now the site of Hammerfall, the Horde camp in the Arathi Highlands, while the Horde capital of Orgrimmar is named after the legendary Warchief. The Airship that floats above Icecrown Citadel is also called Orgrim’s Hammer. Tenuous but worth noting is that the male orc dance animation is taken from MC Hammer’s routine in the video for U Can’t Touch This. Coincidence? We think not!
Blackhand (Clancy Brown)
Who he? His nickname was ‘The Destroyer’, which gives you a decent idea as to his temperament. Leader of the Blackrock clan, Warchief of the orc invasion and all-round badass, Blackhand stormed across Azeroth in an axe-wielding blitzkrieg. Victorious against his foe, he was nonetheless slain by his second-in-command, Orgrim Doomhammer, who would later be referred to as Backstabber by Blackhand’s supporters. Never to his face, obviously.
Where can I find him? Remember the chess game in Karazhan we mentioned earlier? Blackhand is the Horde King.
Gul’dan (Daniel Wu)
Who he? The principal villain of this story, Gul’dan (“Your soul will be mine!”) of the Shadowmoon Clan was once an orc shaman and apprentice to the elder shaman Ner’zhul. However, after being perverted by the demon lord Kil’jaeden, he was turned into the first orc warlock and orchestrated his people’s enslavement by the Burning Legion. Gul’dan formed the Shadow Council in order to shape orc society to his ends, worshipping his demon masters and butchering the draenei (which, by and large, they didn’t really appreciate).
After being contacted by the (also demon-controlled) Medivh, Gul’dan opened the Dark Portal and commanded the invasion of Azeroth with Blackhand as his pawn. Bound to Medivh, Gul’dan fell into a coma at the wizard’s death and woke to find Doomhammer in control of the Horde. Relegated and rejected, Gul’dan made a last power play in trying to become a god at the Tomb of Sargeras. He was instead torn to pieces by pissed off demons, his skull becoming a favoured bauble of druid-nightelf-demon-hunter Illidan Stormrage (below). There’s a moral in there somewhere.
Where can I find him? He materialises in Shadowmoon Valley in Outland as a vision on the Altar of Damnation. He also pops up in Warcrafts II and III and is the face of the Warlock character class in Hearthstone (Zoo is SO overpowered). He (along with several of the other characters mentioned here) will play a prominent role in the impending WoW expansion Warlords of Draenor, which plays out just prior to the events of the Warcraft movie.