Something of troll history from WoW insider

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Something of troll history from WoW insider

Post  Vypra on Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:24 pm

copied from: http://wow.joystiq.com/2010/09/05/know-your-lore-the-dark-past-of-the-darkspear/#continued

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft is absolutely full of trolls -- not the trade chat kind, the actual race. Whether you're traveling the southern continents or icy heights of Northrend, the trolls are everywhere; vanilla WoW and both expansions have all included troll content of some kind or another. The original game had Zul'Farrak, Sunken Temple and then later Zul'Gurub. The Burning Crusade didn't see much of the trolls in Outland (beyond a few settlements, of course), but trolls played a large part in high elf (now blood elf) history and currently plague the Ghostlands. Eventually we saw the release of Zul'Aman, and with Wrath's release, we were introduced to the ice trolls of Zul'Drak and their capital, Gun'Drak.

While there have been vague hints -- stone tablets and other records -- documenting the history of the race, there's very little solid information regarding the trolls. Big events have been documented, but the day-to-day life and the origins of the trolls aren't really addressed beyond "they have been on Azeroth since the beginning." Of all the various troll tribes, only one is playable -- the Darkspear tribe that now makes its home on Kalimdor. The trolls of the Darkspear have not only made a new home for themselves upon Cataclysm's release, but they've also found two new paths to follow; players will be able to choose troll druids and warlocks with the expansion's launch. In order to understand the Darkspear, a closer look at its origins and the origins of one of the bloodiest wars in Azeroth's history is necessary.

WARNING: The following post contains spoilers for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. If you wish to remain spoiler-free, do not continue.

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Re: Something of troll history from WoW insider

Post  Vypra on Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:25 pm

At the dawn of Azeroth's creation, there were several races that roamed the small world. The trolls were one of these races, and they covered a gigantic portion of the sole continent on Azeroth at the time, Kalimdor. These trolls were all part of a tribe known as the Zandalar -- the very first tribe that all other existing tribes on Azeroth originated from. Eventually, the Zandalar split into two massive empires, the Gurubashi and the Amani. Keep in mind that the original trolls predate pretty much everything else on Azeroth, including the night elves, the Titans -- and heck, more than likely even Elune.

The Gurubashi and Amani Empires didn't particularly care for each other, but they didn't really fight much, either. Their efforts were instead concentrated on the Aqir, a race of insect-like creatures that were intent on claiming the entirety of Kalimdor for themselves. The Gurubashi and Amani Empires weren't too terribly keen about this and spent thousands of years making sure this never came to pass, by beating back the aqir until they split into two different areas of the Kalimdor continent -- Azjob-Nerub to the north, and Ahn'Qiraj to the south.

After the aqir were defeated, the trolls went back to their normal lives -- until the night elves appeared. Stories of the night elves' origins are also shrouded in mystery, but there are ancient troll legends that suggest a group of trolls sought to create their own colony in the heart of Kalimdor, stumbled across the Well of Eternity and were changed into what we call night elves today. The night elves fervently deny this, of course -- mostly because after their origins, the night elves spent the next several thousand years warring with both tribes and carving out a giant chunk of land to claim for their own.

When the Sundering occurred, the continent of Kalimdor split, shattering into the continents we know today. Most of the Gurubashi Empire was shunted off to the new continent of the Eastern Kingdoms, in the southern part that we call Stranglethorn Vale. It's from these leftover Gurubashi that the Darkspear tribe originated. In the thousands of years following the Sundering, the Gurubashi Empire desperately struggled to stay alive, a shattered remnant of the once-great civilization. And in their desperation, a group of the highest-ranking troll priests made the mistake of seeking out the gods of old for aid. The trolls had many, many gods, but only one answered the priests' call -- Hakkar the Soulflayer.

Hakkar brought the Gurubashi Empire the power that it craved, but at a terrible cost: The blood god required sacrifices to be made, and countless souls of trolls were fed to Hakkar in an effort to keep him appeased. This wasn't enough for Hakkar, however, and he demanded that the priests -- who were now calling themselves the Hakkari -- find a way to summon him physically into the world, so that he could feed upon the blood of his victims directly. Some Hakkari were horrified at the idea, but there was a small faction of priests that were entirely devoted to the old blood god and sought to do just as Hakkar wished. These trolls were called the Atal'ai.

And this is when everything exploded. The Hakkari who were against the Atal'ai rose up in revolt against Hakkar, along with the rest of the Gurubashi Empire. What resulted was wholesale slaughter; the Atal'ai were decimated, and the avatar of Hakkar was destroyed. The remaining Atal'ai fled north, hiding away in the Swamp of Sorrows, where they built another temple dedicated to Hakkar. But the Atal'ai weren't the only trolls murdered -- the Gurubashi, intent on wiping out anything to do with the blood god, also set their sights on the remaining Hakkari, despite the fact that the Hakkari were against the Atal'ai, as well.

The remaining Hakkari were angered at this betrayal and fled north to find the remnants of the Atal'ai swearing themselves to Hakkar's service. The Atal'ai welcomed them with open arms. Together, they sought to bring Hakkar back to life -- and Ysera, Aspect of the Green Dragonflight, discovered their plot. She smashed the temple beneath the marshes, which is why the Sunken Temple today is ... well, sunken. Ysera assigned several green dragons to watch over the area, including her consort Eranikus. Eranikus went into the temple directly and found himself overwhelmed by the dark power of the Atal'ai.

Meanwhile in Stranglethorn, the remaining trolls of the Gurubashi Empire began to splinter and fragment into several different tribes, each tribe claiming chunks of the Stranglethorn jungles and fighting viciously with the others in order to keep hold of their respective lands. It seemed the Gurubashi Empire was no more -- instead, there were mere fragments. These included the Bloodscalp tribe, the Skullsplitter Tribe and a small group known as the Darkspear. The remains of the Gurubashi Empire, now calling itself the Gurubashi tribe, came to the conclusion that it had, perhaps, made a mistake in killing Hakkar's avatar -- after all, despite the sacrifices and the bloodshed, the old god had kept the tribes united. It wasn't until Hakkar's defeat that the splintering began, and so the Gurubashi decided that it would dedicate itself to preparing for the Soulflayer's return, convinced that he would restore the Gurubashi Empire in return for its service.


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Re: Something of troll history from WoW insider

Post  Vypra on Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:25 pm

Of all the splintered tribes, the Darkspear was the one of smallest -- and unfortunately, the tribe was unable to hold the lands it had claimed. The Darkspear was driven off of the continent altogether and forced to settle on a group of remote islands off the coast. There it struggled to survive, plagued by murlocs, violent storms and soon enough, humans -- the humans of Kul Tiras. The leader of the Darkspear was a troll named Sen'jin, who wanted nothing more than to give his people some semblance of peace after all the bloodshed that had plagued them for centuries. His task seemed fruitless, until one day he received a mysterious vision -- a vision of a curious green-skinned creature, a farseer like himself, who would drive the humans away and lead the Darkspear to a new and brighter destiny.

Soon enough, a fleet of ships carrying orcs washed up on the island. The leader of these orcs was Thrall -- and Sen'jin went to Thrall to warn him of the human encampments on the islands. Thrall, pleased at the information and the newfound allies, offered to drive the humans from the islands, and Sen'jin quickly agreed. After driving back the humans, Thrall, Sen'jin and the other orcs were attacked and captured by murlocs, dragged to their prisons below the island's surface. Thrall escaped and freed many of the imprisoned orcs and trolls, but the murloc high sorcerer was holding Sen'jin in the deepest caverns of the prison, in order to sacrifice the Darkspear leader to a mysterious sea witch. As Thrall arrived to save the troll witch doctor, the murloc struck -- and though Thrall managed to kill the high sorcerer, it was too late. Sen'jin was dying.

With his last breath, Sen'jin told Thrall of his vision and begged him to lead the Darkspear from the island and to a new destiny. The sea witch, furious at the defeat of the high sorcerer and her other minions, sent a gale of storms and waves to batter the island. Thrall and his forces worked to repair the damaged ships of their fleet, and when the repairs were completed, Thrall went to Sen'jin's son Vol'jin and offered him and the remaining Darkspear a place in the Horde. Vol'jin took Thrall's offer gratefully and sent some of his forces with Thrall. Vol'jin and the remaining Darkspear stayed on the islands for roughly a year after Thrall's departure, gathering supplies and then setting sail for Durotar, where they made their home on the Echo Isles. Despite Thrall's welcome reception, the trolls of the Darkspear found themselves having to adapt in drastic ways to their new life in the Horde ...

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Re: Something of troll history from WoW insider

Post  Vypra on Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:26 pm

There are a few things that are second nature to every troll on Azeroth -- rituals and beliefs that have permeated their culture and society since the dawn of time. While most of these things are accepted by the Horde, there are a few that are not. Shamanism and the worship of gods and spirits is just fine as far as the Horde is concerned -- but even though the Darkspear are the "nice" trolls of Azeroth, they still originate from the bloodthirsty and largely evil Gurubashi Empire. Traditions like voodoo, sacrifice, black magic and cannibalism were second nature to the Darkspear, part of its history and beliefs.

To the trolls, the spirits of the dead are just as much an entity as living creatures -- greedy and dangerous entities that are jealous of those still alive in corporeal form. These spirits miss the land of the living and require sacrifices to appease them. This is why trolls sacrifice their enemies -- to keep the spirits of the dead satisfied and happy, so that they don't wreak havoc. As for cannibalism, the trolls believe that by eating the flesh of their enemies, they are also consuming their spirits -- or at least damaging the spirit enough that it will be rendered unable to commit any acts of vengeance.

This makes sense, to a small degree, as far as religious beliefs go. But while the trolls view spirits as jealous or vengeful entities, the orcs look at them in an entirely different light. The orcs revere the spirits of their ancestors, who often stick around in the afterlife to offer advice or guidance. They believe the spirits of their ancestors can lend them their power. In fact, the orcs revere spirits in general -- the spirits of nature, of the elements, of the creatures around them. It's a very shamanistic way of looking at things, but the orcs were shaman at heart, before they were corrupted.

So to the orcs, the trolls' practices of sacrifice and cannibalism are ... disturbing, to put it mildly. Think of it in terms of a devout Catholic taking a stranger into their home and offering them a place to stay, because the stranger is terribly friendly and the two get along very, very well. Both believe in God and Christ, but where the Catholic faith has the tradition of drinking the blood of Christ in the form of wine at church, and both Christ and God are generally benevolent and loving beings, the stranger says that his faith has always dictated that the blood of Christ is something you use to take a bath with. This is so that Christ does not come and kill you in your sleep, because to the stranger, Christ is the harbinger of a fearful and vengeful God.

Right -- that just isn't going to go over very well. Both stranger and Catholic recognize God and Christ as existing, but the difference lies in the viewpoint.

Thrall asked that Vol'jin and the rest of the Darkspear stop practicing cannibalism and that they stopped sacrificing their enemies. Vol'jin agreed to this. It wasn't an immediate change, but over time, most trolls have stopped these practices. Cannibalism is a no-no, and as for sacrifices, they are made with animals rather than sentient beings. The fact of the matter was that while the Darkspears' beliefs were strong, their desire to survive was stronger. Add to this the fact that Sen'jin foresaw Thrall's leading his people to a brighter destiny -- and Vol'jin knew of this and wanted to honor his father's wishes.

If spirits you worshiped told you that a person was supposed to lead you to a brighter and better future, and that person suddenly came out and suggested that you drop the things that had been a part of your culture for so long ... well, there really would be only one clear choice to be made. End the darker practices and continue towards that path of greater destiny, or continue the practices and abandon the destiny the spirits have foretold. After all, the dark practices of voodoo and cannibalism hadn't exactly gotten the trolls very far. It's a bit of a catch-22 in a way, but the trolls chose to end the darker practices and instead try to adapt and embrace the ways of the orcs.

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Re: Something of troll history from WoW insider

Post  Vypra on Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:27 pm

Or most did. There are rumors of those who still practice in secret, away from the eyes of their Horde allies, rumors of those who did not accept this decree as easily as Vol'jin and the majority of the Darkspear. While most of the trolls were content to remain quiet, others were quite vocal about their opposition to Vol'jin's ideas and practices, including a troll named Zalazane. Zalazane was the apprentice of Master Gadrin, a witch doctor, spiritual leader and Vol'jin's closest advisor. Gadrin chose to cease all use of the dark arts at the behest of Vol'jin. Zalazane, on the other hand ... Zalazane loved power.

He loved power so much, in fact, that he let it overwhelm him completely and ignored the decree regarding the dark arts, instead choosing to use dark voodoo to rob members of the Darkspear tribe of their free will, forcing them to obey his every command. His army of mind-controlled Darkspear grew larger and larger each passing day, until Vol'jin and the few Darkspear left were forced to abandon the Echo Isles completely. They created Sen'jin Village, a small fishing community on the coast opposite the Echo Isles. Vol'jin left Gadrin in charge and made his way to Orgrimmar to serve as Thrall's advisor and to try and come up with a plan to retake the Echo Isles for good. Meanwhile, Master Gadrin was charged with doing something about Zalazane, something he tries to accomplish even now: sending players to kill his former apprentice and bring back his head.

While many appear to succeed and even return with Zalazane's "head," days later the trophies revert to their true forms -- coconuts or rocks painted to look like faces, or even the severed heads of former Darkspear. Just before Cataclysm, Vol'jin finally launches an effort to re-take Echo Isles for good and enlists the help of players to achieve this. Along the way, another surprise is discovered: Zalazane and his mind-controlled army aren't the only denizens of the Echo Isles. For years now, there has been a group of troll druids living on the isles, watching Zalazane's activities and waiting patiently for Vol'jin's return.

Where did these druids come from? That's a good question, and one whose answer isn't made immediately clear -- but there have often been shapeshifters in troll lore, most notably the champions of the loa like those found in Zul'Gurub, and the animal lords of Zul'Aman. Remember, the troll race has been around since the dawn of Azeroth -- they don't really need anyone like Cenarius to "tell" them what to do; they are simply so intertwined with the world, the spirits and the gods that shifting into different forms isn't a huge stretch. It isn't likely that these trolls called themselves druids, but that's how they're referenced now. It could very well be that in the beginning, before the word "druid" existed, these guys were around in one form or another -- they simply didn't have a name for themselves.

Regardless, the troll druids of the Echo Isles are very keen on helping Vol'jin take the islands back, and after the island has been restored, they are more than willing to stick around and teach the Darkspear the ways of the druidic arts. Most druids have some kind of deep connection with the earth, and it's likely that these trolls knew that something larger and more terrifying was approaching. The Darkspear would need all the help they could get.

As for the Echo Isles, there was another factor involved in their reclamation. In addition to their spiritual beliefs, the trolls also believe in gods or loas, and one of these loa plays heavily into Zalazane's fall. Bwonsamdi is the loa of death; it is he who controls and watches over the spirits of the dead. Unfortunately, Zalazane drove the Darkspear away from the Echo Isles, and they were unable to continue the rituals and offerings to the death loa. Vol'jin has to make a plea to Bwonsamdi, beg his forgiveness and ask for his help in overthrowing Zalazane. Bwonsamdi agrees to this, and Zalazane is at last destroyed for good -- but Bwonsamdi now expects the rituals to continue.

And they will, of course -- though the sacrifices offered are now animal, rather than humanoid. But Vol'jin's people still have things to consider in regards to their alliance with the Horde. Thrall has led them to a brighter future, but Thrall will soon be stepping away from his role as leader and putting someone else in his place. His choice? Not Vol'jin, not the troll leader who has been steadfast by his side for the past several years. No, Thrall instead chooses Garrosh Hellscream, a vocal, loud, obnoxious orc from Outland, and son of one of the greatest heroes the orcs have.

To Thrall, this is a no-brainer -- his people want a war hero to lead them, and Garrosh has a thing or two to learn in regards to leadership, respect and honor. To Vol'jin, this is shaky territory. First, there is the fact that his father's prophecy foretold Thrall, not Garrosh, leading them to a brighter future. Second, Garrosh hails from Outland, not Azeroth -- and his views on the world and the way it should be are brutal, harsh and unforgiving. Third is Garrosh's attitudes towards the other Horde races, and the trolls in general.

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Re: Something of troll history from WoW insider

Post  Vypra on Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:28 pm

Garrosh Hellscream kicks Vol'jin out of the throne room. He has no interest in keeping Vol'jin on as an advisor. He allows a small subsection of Orgrimmar to be troll-run, but the leader of the Darkspear and his advice are not welcome in the capital building. Vol'jin isn't terribly pleased with this, and the two have a heated discussion in which Vol'jin tells Garrosh he is just like his father, that Vol'jin has no intention of sitting idly and watching Garrosh run the Horde into ruin, and when the day comes that Garrosh dies, it will be by Vol'jin's hand. Needless to say, this doesn't go over well with the new Warchief. Vol'jin has much to think about -- should his people remain with the Horde, now that the Horde is no longer being run by the orc of his father's prophecy?

More importantly, the trolls of the Echo Isles aren't terribly impressed with Garrosh, either. And the Horde that Garrosh leads isn't necessarily the Horde that Vol'jin or his people wish to be a part of. Suddenly, the respect shown to the Horde, the years of denying the cultural aspects of the trolls, the practices of dark voodoo ... well, it may not seem quite so necessary to hide these aspects of troll culture anymore. If Garrosh isn't going to give the trolls of the Darkspear the respect that they deserve, why should they bother altering practices to accommodate his beliefs?

The trolls of the Darkspear are not only learning the ways of the druid -- they are once again openly practicing the dark arts. Players will be able to roll troll warlocks in Cataclysm, and though there doesn't seem to be any explanation for their sudden appearance, the tense political situation between the Darkspear and the rest of the Horde suggests that perhaps the Darkspear simply isn't interested in dropping its beliefs for Garrosh. Not only that, but considering the scope of what the Horde faces in the upcoming expansion, it's going to need all the help it can get -- even if that help comes in the form of voodoo. As Vol'jin says after discussing the matter with Thrall, "The future right now be lookin' very grim and bloody." And he couldn't be more right.


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