A tabletop roleplaying game using the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, set in the Warcraft setting. Part of the Warcraft Expanded Universe.During the interval between the release of The Frozen Throne expansion pack for Warcraft III and the first release of World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment approached White Wolf with a deal; while most famous for their World of Darkness, Exalted and, later, Scion gaming lines, they also had a branchline called "Sword & Sorcery", which worked in D20 gaming lines, such as the 3rd edition revamp of Ravenloft and their own Scarred Lands campaign setting. The result was a tabletop game allowing players to use the familiar rules of Dungeons & Dragons 3.x to play in the world of Blizzard's Warcraft setting.In addition to the corebook and the natural monster manual (called "Manual of Monsters"), a number of splatbooks were released:
Alliance & Horde Compendium: An array of new rules, races and prestige classes for better emulating the diversity of the Warcraft experience.
Magic & Mayhem: New Warcraft-based spells, caster prestige classes and magic items.
Lands of Conflict: A "setting gazetteer" covering the lands of the Eastern Kingdoms in the wake of the events of The Frozen Throne.
Shadows & Light: A "high tier" splatbook covering The Multiverse of Warcraft, details on the various god-like entities, or Eternals, (the Titans, the Ancients, the Elemental Princes, the Dragon Aspects), rules for creating new Eternals, the rules to serve as the Warcraft RPG's version of the Epic Player's Handbook from D&D, and prominent figures from the videogames, such as Thrall, Jaina Proudmoore, Arthas, etc.
Eventually, World of Warcraft was released and so an updated version, "World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game" was released. Rather than replacing the original game, this was intended to be used as an updated version, moving on several years in-universe and being set around the same point in time as World of Warcraft was when the books were released. In addition to the updated corebook and monster manual ("Monster Guide"), the new splatbooks released under its banner were:
More Magic & Mayhem: New Arcanist and Healer paths, and a new spellcasting class, the Runemaster, plus new spells and new magic items.
Lands of Mystery: A follow-up to Lands of Conflict, covering the lands of Kalimdor, Northrend, and several islands.
Alliance/Horde Player's Guide: Two separate books focusing on fleshing out the races of the Alliance or Horde respectively. Included new races, creature classes (allowing a player to play more powerful beings, such as Dryads, Abominations, etc), spells, feats, items and other such details.
Dark Factions: An equivalent to the Alliance and Horde Player's Guides focusing on the neutral or antagonistic races of the setting, such as satyrs, Dark Iron dwarves and dragons.
However, eventually, Blizzard Entertainment chose to stop promoting the line, and so it ended after those final seven books, being rendered obsolete by the videogame it was meant to cash in on, with Dark Factions (2008) as its final released sourcebook. Blizzard has also declared in 2011 that the role playing game should not be considered canon anymore.
Actual Pacifist: In the Shadows & Light manual, it's stated that Elune, the goddess of the night elves, is a pacifist (in fact, if one observes its stats she has no attack bonus, only grapple bonus). She has abilities like a song that will make everyone that hears it drop their weapons and cease to fight.
Adaptation Expansion: What the RPG basically tried to do with a lot of elements, given how few a lot of details were in the actual games. Now Canon Discontinuity, leaving a few things without canon descriptions, until exposition is dropped in canon works.
Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game gives us a definitive list of Titans and their responsibilities, at a time when the only one mentioned in-game was Sargeras.
Brann Bronzebeard was expanded from a character mentioned in a single click-quote from Muradin Bronzebeard into a major character.
Alternate Universe: Arguable as to what extent, but the constant development and Ret Canons of the videogame mean it is quite different to the world presented in these tabletop games.
Armed with Canon: Blizzard and White Wolf tend to come into these kinds of conflicts from time to time, with Blizzard vying to keep the story faction-neutral, and White Wolf adopting a noticeably pro-Alliance standpoint, often having little to say (or only negative things to say) about the non-human or non-attractive races.
One of the more infamous examples is with Alterac Valley, a battlefield where dwarves and orcs fight for ownership of the titular valley. Blizzard had always advocated that which side truly had the right to the Valley was ambiguous, but then White Wolf, in one of their sourcebooks, declared that the dwarves were the rightful owners, and that the orcs were the bloodthirsty invaders who deserved to die for daring to intrude on the almighty Alliance's lands. Needless to say, both Blizzard and the fanbase were not amused.
There were a number of other issues where White Wolf took a distinctly different stance from Blizzard:
The setting of Warcraft revolves around the conflict between arcane and divine magic (Sourcebook: Magic & Mayhem).
All Warcraft undead are free-willed (Manual of Monsters)
The Blood Elves are only a small faction of the survivors of Quel'thalas and care about nothing but magic (Sourcebook: Alliance & Horde Compendium)
Illidan was trying to become the new lich king in order to conquer Azeroth (Sourcebook: Alliance & Horde Compendium)
Indeed, World of Warcraft was even the sources of some Retcons in the bookline, such as the Horde Player's Guide noting that the Darkspear and Revantusk Troll tribes are more open to female independence due to their membership amongst the Horde.
Badass Bookworm: Brann Bronzebeard. He's a member of the Explorer's Guild, which makes him a dwarven Adventurer Archaeologist. He's also a Mountain King in-game (like his brother from Frozen Throne), he's a veteran of the Second War (the events of Warcraft II), and by the time he's finished writing Lands of Conflict & Mystery, he's been across every part of Lordaeron, Kalimdor and even Northrend, rubbing shoulders with very powerful figures indeed.
Bears Are Bad News: Played straight with the corrupted Furbolgs, but subverted with the non-corrupted ones and the twin Ancients Ursoc and Ursol, who were renowned for their love of art and brewing.
Though being on the wrong side of a rampaging Furbolg Totemic certainly doesn't make non-corrupt Furbolgs look like an aversion.
Q: Are the Warcraft and World of Warcraft RPG books considered canon?
A: No. The RPG books were created to provide an engaging table-top role-playing experience, which sometimes required diverging from the established video game canon. Blizzard helped generate a great deal of the content within the RPG books, so there will be times when ideas from the RPG will make their way into the game and official lore, but you are much better off considering the RPG books non-canonical unless otherwise stated.
Before this statement, Blizzard went back and forth on the issue. In the end, the tabletop RPG just had too many errors and ideas that did not reflect Warcraft as it is or was.
Canon Immigrant: Quite a few concepts and NPCs may have originated here; the worgen race, in fact, originated in the pages of "Lands of Conflict", though it was the videogame that made them truly playable.
Creator Thumbprint: Arguably, the authors have a tendency to favor the "classically good" races of humans/elves/dwarves vs. the "classically evil" races of orcs and trolls.
To those who discovered the ''WorldOfWarcraft'' videogame first, trolls can come off as Demoted to Extra and draenei even more so. This is arguably because a lot of details about... well, things in general, but trolls and draenei in particular, were added after the tabletop game had been written.
Clear example: draenei became a playable race, and so got their history fully fleshed out, in January 2007, with "The Burning Crusade". The Alliance & Horde Players Guides weren't published until 2006.
Disproportionate Retribution: The Defias Brotherhood from "Lands of Conflict" were exiled from the city of Stormwind after rebuilding it in the wake of the Second War and demanding payment from the nobility, who refused to pay the amount they demanded. They promptly became bandits and, even now that Lordaeron has been annihilated by the Scourge, they continue harassing the human survivors and looting everything they can, completely ignoring the undead and other monsters stalking the land. Brann Bronzebeard, In-Universe, regards the Defias Brotherhood with disgust, especially when, as a sidebar notes, he gets to meet and talk to one of the Brotherhood face to face. This one individual is demanding a payment of one million gold pieces for his work to restore the eastern merchant's block of Stormwind.
The Dog Shot First: World of Warcraft lets us know that the bandit kingpin Van Cleef was originally the leader of a guild of stonemasons who turned to thieves when the nobles of Stormwind refused to pay them for rebuilding the capital. Even though it was made clear enough that the corrupt nobility was to blame, the rpg retconned the event into Van Cleef demanding insane amounts of gold for the work and flipping out when the king refused to pay him extra.
Expanded Universe: What the game was created to be, as a way to help flesh out the world beyond the roleplaying games. Sadly, lack of communication between Blizzard and White Wolf's writers combined with retcons means it's now exiled from continuity.
Half-Human Hybrid: Half-elves and half-orcs are introduced as playable races in the Alliance and Horde Player's Guides respectively.
Human Notepad: Runemasters completely cover themselves with runic tattoos, which are the source of their powers.
Instant Runes: Subverted. Inscribers, Dark Inscribers (a variant that can use Warlock or Necromancer spells) and Runemasters all need to prepare their magical runes ahead of time, or at least be given a minute to draw it on something convenient; no runes or time to draw runes, no magic.
Loads and Loads of Races: And how. Just looking at the corebook and "faction books" for the World of Warcraft RPG line alone, we have: three kinds of dwarves (Ironforge, Wildhammer, Dark Iron), two kinds of elves (High and Night), humans, gnomes, goblins, orcs, two kinds of trolls (Jungle and Forest), the Forsaken, tauren, mok'nathal, nagas, pandaren, satyrs, tuskarr, quilboars, murlocs, dragonspawn, furbolgs, half-elves and half-orcs.
And then we have the "creature classes", which allow characters to play more powerful beings like dragons, nerubians, centaurs, ogres, etcetera.
Don't forget the races from the Monster Guide or Lands of Mystery, either.
Magic A Is Magic A: As part of the World of Warcraft RPG update, a single "Arcanist" and "Healer" class were created as the sole repositories of arcane and divine magic, respectively. The various in-game classes (mage, necromancer and warlock for Arcanist; druid, priest and shaman for Healer) were "paths" chosen when taking levels. This ultimately meant it's possible to be "multi-classed" as, say, a mage/priest or a warlock/necromancer or a druid/shaman.
The Defias Brotherhood, at least in the eyes of Brann Bronzebeard, who at one point calls them "whiners who charged too much for their work in the first place", noting that he did his work and he was paid what he, a dwarf, felt was decent compensation for it.
The Syndicate, ex-nobles of the Alterac Mountains turned bandits and raiders who hate the Alliance for ousting them and the Horde for betraying them, completely ignoring that they were exiled from the Alliance for turning traitor and trying to deliver the Alliance to the Horde, and that the Horde's ignoring them was a non-lethal case of Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves.
Sacred Hospitality: Subverted. In a short story in the "Lands of Conflict" sourcebook, a group of soldiers find refuge in a peasant's home in post-fall Lordaeron. Having been fighting the Scourge for days, they are grateful for the hot food and beverages the peasant offers. Unfortunately, the peasant is actually a Scourge agent who was using hospitality to fish out information about troop movements. Once one of the soldiers lets slip some details, the peasant kills all the soldiers.
Ret Canon: Well, more like Canon Marches On, but a lot of elements that players of the MMORPG take for granted are missing from the tabletop RPG, because they came out after it was concluded. These include, but are not limited to, draenei as player characters, the dubiousity of half-orcs (these were based on the now-retconned idea of Garona being a human/orc hybrid instead of an orc/draenei hybrid), the existence of the Naaru, details on Pandaria...
This is also a notable source in some of the canonicity issues (trollish gender attitudes, for example); the gamebooks came out before the videogames created those details, meaning the writers had to make it up more or less whole-cloth.
Special Snowflake Syndrome: Explicitly discussed when it's mentioned players are almost certain to want to play things like a multi-classed character, a "multi-pathed" Arcanist or Healer (both of which are technically impossible by game lore), or a half-elf with Night or Blood Elf lineage (despite the fact that the game is set too soon for such half-breeds to have occurred).
Underground Monkey: A rare example of player-races being based on them. Forest Trolls are literally nothing more than Jungle Trolls with a different language (which is explicitly stated in the Horde Player's Guide), while Sand and Ice Trolls possess an equally minor difference.