Flavor lore is lore that is written "in-universe" and doesn't necessarily agree with what actually happened, but exists in the world of Azeroth to add realism and make the world seem more alive. Flavor lore often includes beliefs, legends kept by various cultures in the world, and historical accounts written by in-universe authors.
In-universe authors of flavor lore will often discuss the current prevailing theories at the time the book was written. Some of these ideas turn out to be true or contain only kernels of truth. Other times the legend may turn out to be wrong. When something turns out to be wrong, cultures will stop believing the legend or continue to hold onto their own viewpoint. Outdated theories continue to exist as part of Azeroth's cultural evolution even though they may not necessarily be believed anymore by current inhabitants of Azeroth.
Flavor lore also includes references to books or documents that exist in the world but may not be published in the real world. For example, in the World of Warcraft: The Magazine Volume II Issue I, Brann Bronzebeard speculates about various species origins, yet the full manuscript does not exist in a book licensed by Blizzard.
Why flavor lore exists
In the real world, historians do not always agree upon what occurred in events in history or what caused the events to happen in the first place. Different religions, and even scientists, have different view points on how Earth was created and how the races of Earth originated. Many of these ideas become outdated, but still exist in Earth's cultural library. Authors will project their own viewpoints into their writing. Sometimes they will debate other hypotheses and theories made by other authors.
Flavor lore is created to emulate this mechanic of Earth culture in the world of Azeroth. It adds a dynamic of reality to the world. Some flavor lore however is created due to newer material retconning the older sources and is created as an explanation to reconcile the differences between old and new lore. Other flavor lore is written intentionally in order to add a sense of mystery to the unknown things.
Examples of flavor lore
The Warcraft III manual states that Cenarius was the father of the centaur. However, other sources state that this is only one belief held by night elves. It may not necessarily contain any truth and the centaur may have a completely different origin. In other sources, we find out that another legend for the origin of the centaur turned out to be actually true for the five tribes of centaur fathered by Zaetar (the Gelkis, Magram, Kolkar, Maraudine, and Galak tribes). The Cenarius legend may be true for centaur found in the Eastern Kingdoms and the Krenka tribe.
Night elves origin
In World of Warcraft, there are competing legends for the origin of the night elves. Some legends say that they evolved from trolls. The night elves themselves believe they were created by Elune. While Brann Bronzebeard eventually confirmed the former origin through Cenarius and Freya, night elves may find the truth difficult to accept. Brann's findings were confirmed by World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1.
In Warcraft III, there are several creation myths accounted, including one in which people think a God-like entity created the universe. It points out that none of the creation myths have been verified by people in-universe. However, the naaru do know the true origins of the universe. Chronicle Volume 1 describes its genesis as it actually happened from an out-of-universe perspective.
In the RPG
- "The appendices refer to the 3,000 attached pages that Brann included in his report to King Magni. Sadly, you and I don't have the proper connections or Ironforge security clearance, so we won't be seeing the appendices. (The references to them are for flavor.)
- We included the locations Blizzard asked us to include. If something isn't in there, it's *probably* because they don't want to release information on it yet."
Lands of Mystery
In another section, he discusses various theories of where the silithid race originated from. He mentions that current speculation and second-hand accounts at the time he wrote the book include; the silithid originating first, followed by the aqir, followed by the split forming the qiraji and nerubians. The other theory he included was that the aqir were first, then the split between the qiraji and nerubians, and the silithid were created by either the qiraji, or some other, at the time, unknown force.
Manual of Monsters: "Appendix Three: Other Monsters in Warcraft" created flavor lore to incorporate creatures originally derived from non-Warcraft sources so that they could fit into Warcraft lore. In some examples, the creatures are a separate species that share the same name as well-known Warcraft creatures, so special lore was written for the new creature to explain how they fit into the universe. The introduction to the book states that said lore takes precedence over any descriptions found in the non-Warcraft books the creature was derived from. There is nothing in the book that states that said creatures are not lore (in fact, it goes out of its way to tell how they fit into Warcraft continuity and that these are other creatures on Azeroth besides the ones discussed in earlier chapters of the book). However, many fans choose to ignore much of the appendix lore since most of the creatures do not show up in other Warcraft sources.