Characters: Warcraft The Old Gods
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The Old Gods are the Warcraft universe's resident Eldritch Abominations
. Their exact origins and purposes are unknown, but they have acted as a corrupting influence upon the works of the Titans since the birth of Azeroth. Titan history discovered in Storm Peaks and Ulduar reveal that the Old Gods apparently came to Azeroth not long after its creation and began altering the Titans' creatures with something called the Curse of Flesh. Upon discovering this, the Titans waged war on the Old Gods, eventually imprisoning several of them within Azeroth itself. To prevent the Old Gods from returning, they created the Dragon Aspects and charged them with protecting the world.
There were originally five Old Gods. At least one of them was killed in the backstory, and another has been defeated in the current storyline of World of Warcraft
. It is said that the reason the Titans did not utterly destroy them was that doing so would unmake Azeroth. How this relates to the players' ability to defeat them is uncertain.
However, the influence of the Old Gods has been felt throughout Azeroth's history, manifesting itself originally in the assault of the Qiraji, an insectoid race living deep beneath the sands of Silithus, discovered to be caused by C'thun. Other influences of the Old Gods include the corruption of Neltharion, Dragon Aspect of the Black Dragonflight; the gradual corruption of the Emerald Dream by an entity known only as the Nightmare; the whispers of madness afflicting the lands of Northrend from a being known as Yogg-Saron, which is confined deep within Ulduar; and possibly the infiltration of the timeways by the Infinite Dragonflight. There is also a race of creatures called Faceless Ones, which seem to consider themselves prophets or harbingers of the Old Gods.
The Old Gods' efforts seem directed largely at the destruction of the Dragonflights, as those are their principal foes. Unlike the Burning Legion, they avoid direct confrontation, preferring the slow whispers of madness and the tempting of mortals and immortals alike into acts of self-destruction.
Tropes associated with the Old Gods include:
- Ascended Extra: These guys were initially just briefly mentioned in the Warcraft III manual, and have been gradually getting more and more spotlight and have more focus than the Burning Legion.
- Body Motifs: C'Thun (eyes), Yogg-Saron (mouths), and Y'shaarj (faces). N'Zoth's appearance has yet to be revealed.
- The Corrupter: By far their preferred tactic.
- Cosmic Horror Story: The concept of the Old Gods draws heavily on this genre, although Warcraft in general is too idealistic to fall entirely within it.
- The Dark Side
- Eldritch Abomination: The Old Gods typically take on these sorts of forms when they deign to become visible to mortals. It's implied that they are in fact physical beings, since it's possible (in theory) for mortals to attack and even kill them.
- Eldritch Location: Many places under their influence become this. In addition, the city called Ny'alotha, mentioned by the Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron, seems to be associated with them. It has not appeared in game, but according to the box, it is hidden by a forest, might be sunken and was a scene of unnumbered crimes. Popular theory is that this city is Nazjatar.
- End of the World as We Know It: Their ultimate goal, which according to prophecy will be realized with an event called the Hour of Twilight, In which all life on Azeroth (including Deathwing) is destroyed, except for the Twilight Dragonflight.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Tends to happen to anyone who spends too much time listening to the whispers of madness emanating from the Old Gods in their places of power.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Old Gods are this. Three of the (allegedly) five are intact enough to try to break out.
- Shout-Out: To the entire Cthulhu Mythos.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: To the Burning Legion. The Legion still exists and is definitely a threat, but the forces of the Old Gods are already on Azeroth and therefore are getting much more attention.
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"You. Will. Die."
C'thun is the first Old God to be officially named within the Warcraft
story. After the defeat of the Old Gods by the Titans, C'thun was imprisoned beneath Azeroth, in what would later become the continent of Kalimdor. Although greatly weakened, it embarked on a program to strengthen and empower the Qiraji, an insectoid race living beneath the southern desert sands.
A thousand years prior to the events of the Warcraft
series, the Qiraji nearly overwhelmed the forces of Kalimdor in what became known as the War of the Shifting Sands, and were barely driven back by the combined might of the Bronze Dragonflight and the Night Elves under Archdruid Fandral Staghelm. In the present time, the Qiraji renewed their attack, but the heroes of Azeroth descended deep into the ancient Temple of Ahn'Qiraj to reveal their true master, the Old God itself. Still dramatically weakened since the confrontation with the Titans, C'thun's physical form was slain and the threat of the Qiraji was removed.
C'thun's initial physical form is that of an enormous eyeball. Destroying the eye reveals a gaping mouth walled by smaller eyes. It does battle with tentacles that emerge from the ground around it, some of which are capable of swallowing enemies whole. Its stomach is highly poisonous and contains additional tentacles that can be destroyed to render the main body vulnerable to attack.
Tropes associated with C'thun include all of those associated with the Old Gods, plus:
"MADNESS WILL CONSUME YOU!"
Yogg-Saron, also known as the God of Death, is the second of the Old Gods to be officially named within the Warcraft
story. It resides beneath the snows of Northrend and its malicious influence can be felt throughout the continent. The Titan fortress of Ulduar was constructed for the sole purpose of containing it.
Yogg-Saron is particularly noted for the whispers of madness that emanate from the deep places of Northrend. Any being that listens to these whispers for too long is invariably driven insane. This influence seems to be felt most strongly around the ore known as Saronite, which is mined exclusively in Northrend and is highly prized by the Scourge in the manufacture of weapons and armor.
Tropes associated with Yogg-Saron include all of those associated with the Old Gods, plus:
N'zoth is the Old God that is responsible for corrupting Deathwing and for creating the Nightmare that infests the Emerald Dream. N'zoth is imprisoned inside the Rift of Aln, a location in the Emerald Dream that is probably a reflection of a similarly-named massive chasm in the seafloor beneath the Maelstrom. The Nightmare has entrapped such eminent personalities as the Green Aspect, Ysera, as well as the Archdruid Malfurion Stormrage.
- Bigger Bad: During the Cataclysm expansion. He was stated to be "the one signing Deathwing's checks" by the developers, but he doesn't actually make an appearance.
- Evil Versus Evil: According to the lore, it seems that some of his lieutenants fought against C'thun and Yogg Saron's minions. Apparently he's not on good terms with his brethren, but why remains to be seen.
- Sort of Justified in that the Old Gods, being parallel opposites to the Titans who revere Order, are all about Chaos. And what's more chaotic than constant, meaningless war?
- That, or he is somehow even worse than the other two. In a timeline where the Old Gods win with Deathwing (his plan), all life on Azeroth is destroyed except for the Twilight Dragonflight. In their previous rule, it was elemental chaos, but non-Old God related life (including the trolls) still survived.
- The Man Behind the Man: To Deathwing, more or less. Also likely to Xavius during his time as the Nightmare Lord, considering that he's the one who created the Nightmare in the first place.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite being a driving force in Cataclysm and the master of Deathwing himself, he doesn't make an appearance in the game proper. Some speculated that he would appear as the main antagonist of the next expansion, but this has been proven false since Mists of Pandaria will focus on the Horde vs. Alliance conflict. He'll more than likely show up at some point, though, being such an important character.
Y'Shaarj (pronounced Yah-Sha-Raj
) was an Old God located on the swath of land that would become Pandaria. Y'Shaarj possessed seven heads, and has been said to consume hope, beget despair, inhale courage and breathe fear. The mantid empire (or its predecessor) of primordial Azeroth worshipped each of his heads as their benefactors, and they remain loyal to him even after his death at the hands of the Titans countless ages ago.
He was killed in the war between the Titans and the Old Gods during the shaping of Azeroth, but his shadows have haunted the land ever since in the form the sha.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: After his heart and mind is reanimated by Garrosh, he cheerfully teams up with the fallen Warchief.
- Compelling Voice
- Deader than Dead: As far as Old Gods go. While his brethren are just sort of unconscious and crippled and will wake up again with time, there's no risk of Y'Shaarj just popping up again. He's as dead as any dead thing.
- Being as dead as any dead thing doesn't stop one from being manually brought back to life, however, as Garrosh demonstrates by dumping the Heart of Y'Shaarj into the waters of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.
- Then Garrosh uses Y'shaarj's soul as armor which results in Y'Shaarj's true death after said armor is destroyed and the destruction of his Heart. At this point all that's left of Y'Shaarj's evil is his spawn Xal'atoh, Desecrated Image of Gorehowl.
- Demonic Possession: The Heart of Y'Shaarj possesses one of the goblins who discover it.
- Dying Curse: Cursed Pandaria with the sha forever with his final breath. It is implied that similar hypothetical consequences for the deaths of the other Old Gods on Azeroth are the reason that the others were imprisoned instead of killed.
- Foreshadowing: Subverted. Images that resembled the sha appeared in Ulduar, Yogg-Saron's prison, but this was actually a happy coincidence.
- Killed Off for Real: After the Heart is destroyed in the Garrosh fight, Y'Shaarj is Deader than Dead once again. And this time, there's absolutely nothing left.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Being dead has done nothing to slow him down.
- Predecessor Villain: To the sha, the seven breeds of sapient, negative emotional energy that haunt Pandaria.
- Seven is a bit of an Arc Number with Y'Shaarj's story, but it was hinted that the seventh Sha was cut in development, breaking the pattern. There really are seven Sha (hatred, violence, anger, despair, doubt, fear, and pride), though Shaohao never actually purged himself of his pride. Garrosh takes up the slack, and the newly-revived Sha of Pride is a major boss in his raid.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: While Y'Shaarj is undeniably dead, the "Heart of Y'Shaarj" is found in a container beneath the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.
- Walking Spoiler
- Willing Channeler: Garrosh takes in Y'Shaarj's power during the final phase of his fight. Contrary to the goblin example above, it is not Demonic Possession and Garrosh is using Y'Shaarj as a weapon.