- This article is about lore and history. For the post-Cataclysm zones, see Northern Barrens or Southern Barrens. For the pre-Cataclysm zone, see Barrens (original).
The Barrens is a large zone in central Kalimdor controlled mostly by the Horde. It is a massive savanna, with a few oases in the north-central region around the Crossroads. Before the upheaval, several large kaldorei cities stood here. Now, those brave few willing to scrape out a life on the arid plains inevitably run afoul of centaur warbands or quilboar raiding parties. Despite its often uninviting terrain and hostile inhabitants, the Barrens receive a good deal of interest from Alliance and Horde alike, as well as races native to Kalimdor. Trade routes crisscross the landscape leading to and from more inviting regions, and the most notable route is the Gold Road that runs north-to-south through the Barrens and beyond. Rumours suggest that precious minerals and treasure-filled ruins await those with the courage to investigate.
The Barrens used to be a lush forest, tended to by the kaldorei. An expeditionary force sent by Queen Azshara established the outpost of Then'Ralore in the lush wilds. After the Great Sundering, th region became the harsh, sun-scorched plain it is today.
It is said that at some point a person named Dethorin arrived to the land after he had found his Allurana in arms of her lover. Dethorin cried out and the sands of the Barrens burst forth the axe Killmaim with which he killed Allurana.
One year before the World of Warcraft, the Barrens was considered as a neutral territory.
World of Warcraft
This section concerns content exclusive to World of Warcraft.
The Horde built new settlements among the dry grasses and arid hills, and placed the Barrens solidly into the heart of Horde territory. The Horde has set up numerous outposts in this barren land, the largest being the Crossroads at the intersection of two major roads, and Camp Taurajo, a tauren outpost near the border to Mulgore. The Barrens are also dotted with numerous farms populated by orcs and their families, and watch towers manned by orcish and tauren guards. The Horde continued to fight against the quilboar and centaur.
The humans of Theramore have also occupied the land and have taken Northwatch Hold as a defensive outpost. The Ironforge dwarves have also established a stronghold near the titan excavation site of Bael Modan and named the stronghold Bael'dun Keep. The Alliance Outrunners were patrolling the area, usually near the Southern Gold Road.
The neutral goblin port Ratchet, led by Gazlowe, was also built here. A group of Cenarion Circle druids led by Naralex arrived to the Wailing Caverns in order to enter the Emerald Dream and restore the harsh land to its former green form.
After the Shattering
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
After the Shattering, the Barrens was split in two with a lava river separating the Northern Barrens and Southern Barrens. Southern Barrens is a generic term for all the lands on the southern part of the Great Divide. This region is not only one of the most hardest hit by the Cataclysm, but also is one of the biggest war zones in the escalating conflict between the Alliance and Horde. In the wake of the Cataclysm, the Alliance has been pushing into the Barrens in retaliation to the aggression of the Horde's new Warchief.
The Barrens are huge, one of the largest zones in the game. The land is mostly flat, with a few hills scattered throughout. The climate is harsh and hot, but survivable due to several lush oasis. With a stretch of coastline to the east, mountains to the northwest, plains to the west, forest to the north, marsh to the southeast, and the desert conditions to the south and northeast, the Barrens is surrounded by extremely varied landscapes.
In the RPG
The Barrens was once a thriving forest under the protection of the night elves and their kind. Several kaldorei settlements dotted the land, and there was no ocean for miles. Then came the Burning Legion and the Great Sundering, which shook ancient Kalimdor to the bedrock. This forested landscape transformed into a scorched plain and is battered now each day by the sun's rays. The Barrens is a sprawling and arid savanna that stretches between the Stonetalon Mountains to the west and Durotar to the east. The grasslands and mesas of Mulgore rise to the southwest, while the wetlands of Dustwallow Marsh lie to the southeast.
The majority of the region consists of vast plains. Mountains to the west hold in heated air, creating the swirling winds that rage across the plains. These windstorms stir up dust devils and tear apart anything larger than the small, tenacious scrub trees. Water is more valuable than gold in the Barrens, and the locations of hidden watering holes are the residents' most closely held secrets. Dry riverbeds and a never-ending spider web of canyons make any journey across the Barrens a dangerous and winding trek. The few brave adventurers willing to scrape out a life on the arid plains inevitably run afoul of centaur warbands or quilboar raiding parties. Despite its often uninviting terrain and hostile inhabitants, the Barrens receive a good deal of interest from Alliance and Horde alike, as well as races native to Kalimdor. Trade routes crisscross the landscape leading to and from more inviting regions, most notably the Gold Road that runs north-to-south through the Barrens and beyond, and rumors suggest that precious minerals and ruins await those with the courage to investigate.
Centaur warbands are most often seen in the Barrens' canyons, though they roam as far as the river that forms its eastern border with Durotar. Fearlessly aggressive, the centaur are known for their savagery, especially against tauren and night elves. They are not above attacking trade caravans also, for the goods or just for the sake of violence. Travelers who survive the centaur’s battle lust are used as slave labor in the hardscrabble mines the centaur carve into the hard-baked earth. Displaced from Durotar by Orcs, quilboar have built crude villages along the river that separates the orc nation from the Barrens. From there, they strike out across the river to raid settlements or deeper into the Barrens to attack caravans along the Gold Road. The caravan raids have hurt the goblin trade princes’ profits, so they have started negotiations to pay the quilboar gold and goods to protect caravans against centaur warbands. The quilboar have also erected a fortress called Razorfen Downs in the southeastern Barrens. Razorfen is a sprawling mass of giant, twisting thorns and crude mud huts. It serves as the center of quilboar society. Other dangers include harpies who watch from perches atop mesas in the northern Barrens and large beasts such as lions and thunder lizards - though these creatures tend to avoid the Gold Road. Native dangers have not stopped the Ironforge dwarves from establishing a stronghold near the titan excavation site of Bael Modan. The centaur have made forays against it, but are repelled decisively each time. Scouts claim that the centaur are amassing other tribes to launch a major attack, but the dwarves are unconcerned. Each day that passes sees Bael Modan grow stronger as the inhabitants build up its defenses.
- Patch 4.0.3a (2010-11-23): Split into Northern Barrens and Southern Barrens.
- Patch 1.6.0 (2005-07-12): The Barrens should now feel more alive.
- Patch 1.2.0 (2004-12-18): Kodos in the Barrens will no longer stomp incessantly while in combat.