The Scourge (or Undead Scourge and Scourge Army) is one of three major undead factions existing in the world of Azeroth (the other two being the Forsaken and the Knights of the Ebon Blade). Until recently, it was a major player for control of the world. Created initially as the precursor to an invasion by the Burning Legion, the Scourge broke free from their demonic masters and — under the iron rule of the dread — have built up their power base on the Arctic continent of Northrend. Their influence spreads throughout Northrend, as well as the Plaguelands in northern Lordaeron and southern Quel'Thalas, and even Kalimdor to a small degree. A terrifying and insidious enemy, before its downfall the Scourge was perhaps the most dangerous threat to the world of Azeroth.
A Scourgestone is an item given to all Scourge upon birth or creation. It provides certain benefits to the holder, but more importantly it allows Scourge leaders visibility into the location and movement of all their units. Please note that by "birth," is referring to necromancers and other dark magic wielders who are born into the ranks of the Scourge alive and gradually become undead, never actually dying themselves. It's important to clarify however that beings that transition in this way are also physically dead, their bodies bearing the mark of decay.
- 1 History
- 2 Organization
- 3 In the RPG
- 4 Notable former servants
- 5 Former command structure
- 6 Organizations
- 7 References
The Burning Legion had experimented with the undead for at least ten thousand years, with the first hint of the Scourge's creation being an experiment by the nathrezim to raise undead night elves in the ruins of Suramar during the War of the Ancients.
The Scourge was (and still is) a vast army of the undead created by the Lich King — the being formerly known as the orc shaman . Under the control of the Burning Legion, the Scourge's mission was to spread terror and destruction across the world in anticipation of the Legion's inevitable invasion. A mission that was almost undone before it even began when the Nerubians attacked and began the War of the Spider, however the conflict ultimately ended with the Lich King's first major triumph (while the Nerubians were immune to the plague, their corpses could still be reanimated). The Lich King was impressed by his enemy, however, and adopted Nerubian architecture for his own, as a testament to the spider lords' tenacity and age.
The Lich King, now uncontested in the ice realm of Northrend where he ruled from the Frozen Throne, unleashed the terrible Plague of Undeath southward into human lands. As the plague encroached on the southlands, countless humans fell prey to Ner'zhul's mental control and life-draining sickness every day, swelling the ranks of the already-considerable Scourge.
Reign of Chaos
Though Ner'zhul and his Undead Scourge were bound to the will of the Burning Legion, the Lich King constantly strove to free himself and gain vengeance upon the demons for dismembering his body and damning him so completely. To this end he sought a champion to carry out his will and decided that Prince Arthas Menethil would be the perfect choice. During the Scourge Invasion of Lordaeron Arthas became increasingly enraged at the devastation the undead caused and sought to end their threat by any means necessary. This would led the young prince to Northrend, the roof of the world, where he would obtain the runeblade Frostmourne and kill , who he had thought was in command of the Scourge. It was there that the whispers of the Lich King guided Arthas into becoming Ner'zhul's champion and the greatest of his Death Knights.
Arthas, now the champion of the Scourge, returned to Lordaeron, where he killed his own father and rallied the Cult of the Damned to his banner. The Scourge then preceded to destroy what was left of Lordaeron and ended the life of as well as ravaging the ancient elven kingdom of Quel'Thalas and defiling the Sunwell, using it to resurrect the necromancer into a Lich. With Kel'Thuzad once more among them the Scourge moved forward to destroy the magi-city of Dalaran and claim the Book of Medivh, the result of which was the summoning of the demon lord into the world, as well as Dalaran's destruction. It was at this point that Archimonde ordered that the Scourge be commanded by the Dreadlords; however, in his arrogance and haste to claim the World Tree as his own, Archimonde forgot to return control of the Lich King to , a move that Ner'zhul took advantage of.
Shortly before the Battle of Mount Hyjal, Ner'zhul engineered the downfall of the Legion by having his lieutenant, Arthas Menethil, alert the Demon Hunter to the presence of the Legion in Felwood. Illidan's attack on the demons there brought about the death of and the destruction of the Skull of Gul'dan, which greatly weakened the Legion and made it possible for the Alliance, Horde, and Night Elf forces to stop Archimonde during the Battle of Mount Hyjal. It was at this point that Ner'zhul was finally capable of making his bid for freedom, effectively cutting all ties to the remaining demons as well as the remaining demon lord, Kil'jaeden. Such a move inspired Kil'jaeden to incredible heights of anger, and it was now the demon's turn to lust after vengeance. But, thanks to the Legion's defeat, Kil'jaeden was stripped of his capacity to simply bring about swift destruction, and was forced to use more subtle methods to dispose of his rebellious creation.
The Frozen Throne
Shortly after the Battle of Mount Hyjal, Kil'jaeden contacted with an offer too tempting for the Demon Hunter to refuse: Slay the Lich King and be granted the awesome power of a demon lord. Gathering his once-Highborne allies, the Naga, Illidan traveled to the Tomb of Sargeras and began weaving a massive spell targeting the Frozen Throne using the Eye of Sargeras. However, the spell was interrupted at the eleventh hour by Illidan's brother , , and Prince . Though the spell was not completed, enough potent fel energy had been siphoned to cause a fracture in the Lich King's icy prison. This caused Ner'zhul's powers to weaken, especially his control of his undead. It was during this time that a large band of undead, led by , regained their free will and left the Scourge and named themselves the Forsaken. Desperate, Ner'zhul contacted Arthas, the greatest of his Death Knights, by telepathy and commanded him to return to Icecrown Citadel at once.
However, this matter was complicated by Kil'jaeden once again. Growing impatient with Illidan's failures, the demon lord instructed him, with his allies the Naga and newly named blood elves, to travel to Northrend and put an end to the Lich King personally. Arthas's undead forces battled Illidan's army at the base of the glacier, the aftermath of which left Illidan wounded and his troops broken. Arthas, victorious, proceeded into the Lich King's throne chamber where he used the runeblade Frostmourne to shatter the Frozen Throne and free the essence of Ner'zhul. The spirit of the Orcish shaman then bonded with Arthas and they became one of the most powerful beings the world had ever known.
World of Warcraft
This section concerns content exclusive to World of Warcraft.
The Scourge was primarily concentrated in the Plaguelands. Their primary fortification and "capital" in Lordaeron was the ruined city of Stratholme, under the rule of . The Scourge controlled the majority of the city, but the humans of the Scarlet Crusade held a small section. The Scourge has also been seen in Tirisfal Glades and Silverpine Forest in Lordaeron.
The Scourge is also reported to have a presence as far away as the Barrens in Kalimdor; The lich and his forces participated in the Scourge's assault on Mount Hyjal during the Third War. Afterward, the Lich King instructed his servant to remain in Kalimdor and expand the Scourge's influence, and so Amnennar began plans to create a base from which to strike at Orgrimmar and Theramore. To that end, Amnennar has set his sights on recruiting the recently displaced and desperate quilboar people, promising them power over death so they can repel invaders in their lands.
The necromancer-lich Kel'Thuzad, the majordomo of the Lich King, once controlled the Scourge in Lordaeron from his citadel of Naxxramas, floating over Stratholme and Plaguewood in the Eastern Plaguelands, but Kel'Thuzad recently retreated along with his floating fortress and returned to Northrend, in order to combat the forces of Dalaran and the combined might of the Alliance and the Horde.
The Burning Crusade
This section concerns content exclusive to The Burning Crusade.
The Scourge appeared many times in the blood elven lands of Quel'Thalas, mostly on the tainted land known as the Dead Scar. The high elf traitor , slain during the Third War, ruled the Scourge in Quel'Thalas from the fortress of Deatholme until he was eventually slain by blood elf and Forsaken forces. A few members of the Scourge were seen fighting the Burning Legion on Quel'Danas
Wrath of the Lich King
This section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.
After the merging of Arthas and Ner'zhul, the Lich King entered a period of dormancy as he slept and dreamed atop the Frozen Throne. In the meantime, his minions rebuilt Icecrown Citadel as he made his plans for conquest of all of Azeroth. Finally, after several years, the Lich King awoke and unleashed his attack on the unsuspecting world. The forces of both the Alliance and Horde then arrived in Northrend to confront the Scourge on its home soil, until at last they were prepared for a final assault on Icecrown. After facing a gauntlet of the Scourge's most powerful leaders, the greatest champions were able to reach the Frozen Throne to confront the Lich King himself. In the epic battle that ensued, used the sword Ashbringer to shatter Frostmourne, releasing the spirits within that then aided the champions as they sent Arthas to his demise. This did not mean then end of the Scourge, however, as the spirits of both and King had warned that without anyone to control it, the Scourge would be free to destroy the world. As Fordring contemplated placing the crown upon his head (thinking there was no one else who could accept such a burden) the disfigured appeared and stated that it was his fate to be the Jailer of the Damned. In addition, he said that the world must be told that both he and the Lich King were dead and never know the truth about what had really happened if it was to live free from the tyranny of fear. Fordring then reluctantly crowned Fordragon as the new Lich King, and moments later ice imprisoned the Lich King once more.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
By the time of the Cataclysm, the Scourge is little more than a shell of its former power in Lordaeron. The Lich King is dead, the Scourge command structure all but wiped out, and the remaining legions of undead held in check by Bolvar's sacrifice.
Becoming the new Lich King has been a difficult transition for Bolvar and he needs a bit of time to reign in the Scourge. Though the Scourge in Northrend are asleep, the Scourge and Cult of the Damned operating in the Plaguelands are autonomous. There are still sizable Scourge forces in the Plaguelands of Lordaeron who continue to serve their now-dead master. The island fortress of Caer Darrow, home of the Scholomance, is the major Scourge holdout west of the Thondroril River, and their forces can also be found in Andorhal.
Some former servants of the Scourge have found their way into the ranks of the Forsaken. The val'kyr, the winged harbingers of the Lich King, were brought into Sylvanas' fold after the Lich King's demise; the Banshee Queen used their necromantic powers to solve the problem of her people's limited numbers by raising their slain mortal enemies as Forsaken.
After the Shattering, both the Alliance and the Forsaken started making major efforts to expel the Scourge from Andorhal. The ruined city became a warzone between the Alliance under the command of , and the Forsaken under the command of . led what remains of the Lich King's forces in Andorhal, their power diminished by the death of their lord. This major conflict in this war effort came to be known as the Battle for Andorhal. The combined forces relentlessly slaughtered these Scourge and ultimately destroyed Araj.
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
Following the return of the Burning Legion in the Broken Isles, the Lich King Bolvar has entered into a pact with the Knights of the Ebon Blade, where the death knights of Acherus will once again act in the Lich King's name if the Scourge remains confined to Northrend. As part of this agreement, the Lich King has offered assistance to the Ebon Blade to obtain powerful artifacts to use against the Legion. Acherus briefly relocates to Icecrown Citadel, where a champion of the Ebon Blade obtains the shards of Frostmourne to forge into potent new weapons, while directing other champions to obtain similar weapons. Once the artifacts are found, the Lich King grants his blessing to the champions, whose orders are to be obeyed as if they were his own.
Prior to Arthas' defeat, he was at the top of the organization as the Lich King, who sent orders from his ice fortress in Northrend. His direct underlings were liches, undead mages and necromancers with incredible power to spread plague and command undead armies. It is unknown how many liches there were, but Arthas's right-hand lich was Kel'Thuzad, who reigned in Lordaeron and had his hands full fighting the Scarlet Crusade and the Forsaken, the undead who broke free from the control of the Lich King. Kel'Thuzad contained the fight against the Horde and Alliance in Northrend when Naxxramas moved to the Dragonblight prior to his final defeat (or his presumed defeat, as his phylactery was nowhere to be seen after his death). The banshees under his command often led scouting troops to discover new areas to infiltrate, while other important Scourge members included necromancers, responsible for raising and commanding the dead, and the Cult of the Damned, a bizarre group of mortals so fascinated by the undead that they follow them, worship them, even emulate them, hoping to one day be damned as the undead are. They don’t see the foulness and evil, but rather power and eternal life.
Most of the undead reported to a region's leadership of necromancers or liches, who in turn reported to Kel'Thuzad. He reported pertinent information to Arthas. The rogue undead, the Forsaken, were wild cards: the Lich King lost much of his power over the undead before merging with . This allowed one of the more powerful banshees, Sylvanas Windrunner, to escape his hold. She freed many more undead creatures, and currently leads the Forsaken from her tunnel complex underneath the former capital city of Lordaeron. While they are not part of the Scourge and do not fall into the Scourge organization, they work along roughly the same lines — kill or otherwise eliminate those that oppose them and dominate the undead. He had many plans for Azeroth, so he couldn't focus entirely on Sylvanas and devote much of his time to 'reclaiming' the Forsaken. A thing to note about the Scourge was that the further from a lich or a necromancer the weaker undead got, the more disoriented they were. They lost the command of the Lich King, but they didn't necessarily become free. Once the will of the necromancer or other controlling force left them, they had no memory of their former selves, and they shuffled around as mindless husks, searching for someone to lead them.
Arthas led the Scourge in Northrend from the Frozen Throne, completely dominating Icecrown. The Scourge's secondary base was the continent of Lordaeron, in the city of Stratholme, Arthas's first conquest. It was a bustling city of 25,000 people, and now it lies in burning ruin. There are few remaining mortals there, except for those of the Cult of the Damned and the Scarlet Crusade. Lordaeron's northern and eastern areas are practically abysmal with the Scourge. Their foul stench permeates the air. Yet the Scourge has reached all areas of the world, dripping down through Khaz Modan and into Azeroth, and even west to Razorfen Downs Kalimdor. Arthas wanted his finger on everything happening in the world, and he had the forces to do it.
With Arthas' defeat and Fordragon's ascendancy as the new Lich King, it is unknown what the new command structure of the Scourge is or will be in the future. Of particular interest is what will happen with the Cult of the Damned and how they will react to the new Lich King, or if they are even yet aware of the change in leadership.
In the RPG
Some creatures of the Scourge are not technically undead, but instead are monstrous constructions created by the science and magical experimentation of the acolytes and necromancers following . These are constructed creatures fashioned by the perverse experimentation of the Lich King's followers and do not occur in any natural fashion.
Monstrous members of the Scourge are not particularly intelligent, having been created from the leftover pieces of enemies and friends alike. They are, however, very loyal and almost fanatically devoted to whatever task is appointed to them. These creatures are not truly individuals, having little will of their own other than that given to them on creation or through the current descriptions given in their orders.
The members of the Scourge are easy to spot, smell and identify. And it doesn't take much to join. All it takes is to either love the Scourge or be undead and under the Lich King's spell, and you're in. One does not need to do much to be in this organization. Some of the first members were mortals who had fallen in the undead plague. People sickened from the plague and died, only to rise as zombies. This city-razing technique proved to be not as efficient as the Lich King desired, apparently, because he started telling his necromancers to desecrate graveyards and raise up even more members. Only two things seem to separate a Scourge servitor from the Lich King's will: whatever faltering in the Lich King's power allowed the Forsaken to free themselves from his grasp, and destruction of their bodies. Scourge creatures are bidden to do the Lich King's will, and they do this with a blind fervor. The Cult of the Damned is an enigma. No one knows why they do what they do. Whatever the reason, they willfully follow the Scourge, dressing in dark robes, doing their bidding, while helping to spread the plague into more and more cities.
Notable former servants
- Once the Ranger-General of Silvermoon, before being slain and raised by Prince Arthas personally into the first of the high elven banshees. She served as one of Arthas' primary generals, until she and a number of banshees broke free from the Lich King's control, creating the foundations of what would become the Forsaken.
- Once a member of the Argent Dawn, and eventually became a high-ranking servant of the Lich King. Mograine and the death knights under his command broke free of the Lich King's grasp and became known as the Knights of the Ebon Blade, dedicating themselves to bringing down the Scourge.
- The first of the death knights to rejoin the Alliance. Like the other death knights, he was once a servant of the Lich King.
- Notable death knights of the New Horde. Like the other death knights, he was once a servant of the Lich King.
- The creator of paladins, he was raised from his tomb after Arthas invaded Lordaeron. Was able to free his bond by himself.
Former command structure
- ( )
- (Second-in-command to the Lich King and Master of Naxxramas)
- (Commander of the Scourge forces assaulting Wintergarde Keep)
- (Former ruler of Stratholme and current leader of the )
- (Leader of Scourgeholme)
- (Ruler of the ruins of Andorhal)
- (Ruler of Scholomance)
- (Headmaster of Scholomance)
- (Leads Scourge forces in Agamand Mills)
- (Head of Plagued dragonflight production)
- (ruler of the ruins of Azjol-Nerub)
- (leader of the Scourge forces in the ruins of Icemist Village)
- (Overseer of the Pit of Saron)
- (Godfather of Souls)
- (Overseer in Sholazar Basin)
- (Commander of Talramas)
- (Commander of Icecrown Citadel defenses)
- (The Grand Necrolord of the Scourge)
- (Chief Reanimator in the Obsidian Dragonshrine)
- (Overseer of Razorfen Downs)
- (Blood Queen of the San'layn)
- (Second-in-command to the Lich King and Master of Naxxramas)
After the Fall of the Lich King
With most of Arthas' commanders dead, and his desire to lead a more passive Scourge, it is unclear what command structure, if any, Bolvar will employ. It is noted though that all remaining Scourge posts in Azeroth that continue as a threat are run by the Cult of the Damned, who had retained their will during their service to the Scourge to begin with.
- Boneguard - A group of Scourge members located at the Court of Bones.
- Frostbrood - Elite frost wyrms that were raised from the bones of blue dragons at Sindragosa's Fall. These frost wyrms are now one of the strongest weapons the Scourge have.
- Plagued dragonflight - The Cult of the Damned began breeding a plagued dragonflight within Scholomance as another method of spreading the Plague of Undeath.
- The San'layn - A faction of darkfallen, lead by a host of 'vampiric blood elf princes' who appear to hold influential positions within the Scourge. The San'layn were created after Arthas took the most powerful of Kael'thas' shattered forces into his service.
- - A group of three darkfallen princes.
- Ymirjar - The elite warrior caste of the Lich King, the victorious vrykul in the battle of ascendance at Jotunheim. They inhabit the city of Ymirheim in the center of Icecrown.
- Cult of the Damned - An organization of the living beings who serve the Lich King. Members are mostly Human, but including all races. The Cult was formed during the opening days of the Third War, when the Scourge was loyal to the Burning Legion, and establishing its foothold on Lordaeron.
- Death knights of Acherus - A death knight order under the command of the Lich King, specifically trained for destroying the Scarlet Crusade and the Argent Dawn. The necropolis Acherus is their base.
- Dragonflayer clan - A vrykul clan under the control of the slumbering . They have taken up residence in Utgarde Keep.
- Drakuru trolls - A small group of hostile scourge trolls found in Zul'Drak. They are led by .
- Rot Hide tribe - Withered creatures that, like many other creatures in northern Lordaeron, were unable to escape the 's Plague. Now a number of them serve as undead minions to the Scourge.
- Valkyrion - A vrykul settlement located in the western area of the Storm Peaks. The frost vrykul of Brunnhildar Village hate them for becoming the Lich King's servants. The Blighted Pool can be found here, where proto-drake eggs are corrupted by hyldnir of Valkyrion.
- Winterskorn clan - A tribe of vrykul that live in Skorn and Baleheim in Howling Fjord of Northrend. They are led by .
- Wolfcult - A mysterious organization that is predominantly found in the Grizzly Hills of southern Northrend. It is led by none other than the , who had previously adopted the worgen of Silverpine Forest in northern Lordaeron as his children.