- For the language, see Vrykul (language).
Vrykul (pronounced ['vraɪ.kʊl]) are a race of fearsome half-giant warriors native to the Howling Fjord, located in southeastern Northrend. They are the progenitors of the human race, who were originally vrykul offspring that became weak and ugly as a result of the Curse of Flesh. They were introduced in Wrath of the Lich King.
While most vrykul dwell in Northrend as servants of the Lich King, thousands of years ago a group of them migrated to the sacred region of Stormheim on the Broken Isles in search of their true gods.
- 1 History
- 2 Culture
- 3 Appearance
- 4 Notable vrykul
- 5 Types
- 6 Trivia
- 7 Inspiration
- 8 Speculation
- 9 Gallery
- 10 See also
- 11 References
The Curse of Flesh
One clan in particular struggled against the curse of flesh. After exhausting all natural attempts, the tribe sought the aid of its priestesses. These women plumbed the world of spirits for answers, but they found the malevolent Helya, lying in wait. Their ritual went horribly wrong, as Helya further corrupted those that sought freedom from their curse. These eternally vengeful beings would swell the ranks of Helya's Kvaldir.
On the other hand, a powerful clan, the Dragonflayer clan, arose. Becoming weaker because of the curse, they balanced their diminishing strength by taming proto-dragons. Oktel Dragonblood was among one of the first to ride these dragons. Unlike the Winterskorn clan, they didn't see them as mere beats of war. They used the dragons as hunting companions and rode them during the battle. Over time, the proto-dragons became an inseparable part of the clan's culture and powerful allies against their mortal enemy, the jalgars.
The rise of humanity
Under King Ymiron's reign, 15,000 years ago, the curse caused vrykul children to be born in a disfigured state, which was considered "weak and ugly" by vrykul standards. These infants were dubbed "aberrations" and "runts", and vrykul society was deeply divided on how to deal with them. Some vrykul were disgusted by these "aberrations" and beseeched their ruler, Ymiron, to have them all killed, citing a need to keep the vrykul race pure; others pleaded with him to show them mercy, protesting that despite their weakness, these infants were still their children. Ymiron meditated on the issue for some time before reaching a dangerous conclusion: that because the Titans had not come to aid them in their hour of need, and because the vrykul knew of no other beings with power on the same level as their gods, the curse must have been created by the Titans. Although this was not the case, the vrykul believed it, and at Ymiron's bidding they forsook their gods and Titan worship was outlawed. Ymiron then took the side of those calling for the death of their malformed infants, and decreed that all parents with so-afflicted children must kill their young or be taken to Gjalerbron for execution.
However, not all vrykul could bear to kill their own flesh and blood. Despite their king's harsh decree, they sheltered their children and took them away to a land far away from Northrend, the modern Tirisfal Glades. They had heard stories of the vrykul clan that had followed Tyr and had settled in that area, and decided it was a safe haven for their children. There they nursed and raised their children in secret, and taught them the stories and values of ancient vrykul society. Finally, with heavy hearts, they left them in the care of the vrykul that inhabited Tirisfal, before returning to Northrend. These outcast vrykul "runts" would later form their own cultures and kingdoms, and became known as humans.
It is unclear what happened to all of those parents who did not kill their children, but many if not most of them would come to no good end; a vicious vrykul warrior, Skadi, relentlessly hunted them down and killed any of them he came across. For this he was judged to have committed a true act of depravity, and was thereafter known as Skadi the Ruthless.
Most of the vrykul that had settled in Tirisfal Glades enventually died off or succumbed to the curse of flesh. The members of Tyr's Guard decided to induct some of the new humans into their ranks, to ensure the future of the group. They taught these new members the history of Tyr and the truth about the tomb.
In an effort to stave off the curse of flesh, the Dragonflayers went to sleep beneath northern Kalimdor in facilities such as Gjalerbron. The Tribunal of Ages, a record of false history created by Loken, erroneously claims that he ordered this hibernation. The vrykul left their homes, villages and keeps vacant as they slept. There they would remain undisturbed for thousands of years, even by the Great Sundering of the world.
Wrath of the Lich King
This section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.
Shortly before the beginning of the War against the Lich King, the Lich King stirred from his Frozen Throne and sent his Scourge minions to swarm across the land, destroying all in their path. The slumbering vrykul awakened soon after. Many of them would come to believe that the Lich King was a god of death, and pledged themselves to him and the Scourge.
When they arrived in Northrend, the Alliance and the Horde built two ports on the shores of the Howling Fjord, Valgarde and Vengeance Landing. The vrykul of the Dragonflayer clan turned against Valgarde, launching an ongoing series of attacks which were coordinated by Ingvar the Plunderer from the fortress of Utgarde Keep. In turn, the Winterskorn clan turned against Vengeance Landing.
The dwarven Explorer's League set to work excavating Dragonflayer ruins near Valgarde, speculating that the vrykul were related to humans and that they were connected by evolution, via a "missing link" of some kind. It was then that a draenei shaman, Thoralius the Wise, sent an Alliance adventurer into the spirit world to uncover the vrykul's past, where they found two visions of the past which revealed the events described above, thus revealing that there was no "missing link"; rather, the vrykul themselves were the missing link – they were the progenitors of humanity.
Other vrykul were seen around Northrend, often aiding the Scourge in their endeavours. They held competitions where many elite warriors competed for the chance to become powerful undead servants of the Lich King. The victors were made undead and became known as the Ymirjar; those who were not successful, or who fell in battle with adventurers, were turned into vargul instead. The responsibility for raising the dead in this fashion fell to a new type of val'kyr, winged spirits of vrykul women with vast necromantic powers under the control of the Lich King. The inhabitants of Valkyrion aspired towards this state, and many obtained it.
However, a small holdout of hyldnir situated in Brunnhildar Village refused the call of the Lich King and reasserted their loyalty to the Titans, or at least to the Titanic watcher Thorim. One of their number, Sif, had been Thorim's wife a long time ago, and they held a contest, the Hyldsmeet, to see which among them would prove worthy to rule alongside Thor in her place.
Fall of the Lich King
By the time the Ashen Verdict lay siege to Icecrown Citadel, most of the vrykul loyal to the Scourge had been either killed or wiped out entirely in Icecrown. With the Lich King's defeat atop the Frozen Throne, some of the last remaining val'kyr pledged themselves to Sylvanas Windrunner afterwards, becoming part of the Forsaken. The fate of the vrykul people afterwards was left ambiguous, though they may have simply returned to their normal way of life and abandoned the Scourge to its fate.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
A group of vrykul became elite drake riders who served as Deathwing's personal guard, under the command of Warmaster Blackhorn. Both he and they are fought during the fight against him in the sky.
Mists of Pandaria
This section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
The vrykul of Stormheim are ruled by one king until the day his son, Jarl Skovald, murdered him with the assistance of his brothers. The brothers then turned on each other, with Skovald's blade proving to be the fastest. He fought his mother last at Kingsfall Pass. Queen Bretta disowned him as her son before dying, to which the Jarl replied that he was her king.
The vrykul of Stormheim on the Broken Isles are now led by God-King Skovald and in his quest to gain access to the Halls of Valor, he perverts the ancient trials that open the gates. During the Trial of Might, he shatters Yotnar instead of besting him and attempts to destroy Aggramar's Vault so that no one else can know the criteria for the other trials. For the Trial of Will, he opts to enslave the Thorignir. For the Trial of Valor, he uses the Bonespeakers to attempt to enslave the souls of the ancient rulers of Stormheim, forcing them to give their blessing.
On the other hand, several vrykul attempted to fight the Legion. On the Broken Shores a group led by Ragnvald Drakeborn fought until death the demons, led by the pit lord Malgalor. Thank to their glorious death, their spirit has been taken in the Halls of Valor by Danica the Reclaimer. After the battle, the powerful warrior of Azeroth is named Battlelord by Odyn under the eyes of Valarjar and the vrykul from the Halls of Valor.
A forgotten tomb named Tomb of the Old Kings contained the remains of several great Vrykul Kings. Odyn sent his Skylord, with the help of Hruthnir son of Magnar, in the tomb to reclaim the armament of the Black Wyrm from the hand of the King Magnar Icebreaker. However the tomb was deconsecrated by the unholy magic from the Burning Legion and the guardian didn't recognize the Odyn's envoys. The Skylord and Hruthnir fighted the tortured spirits of Magnar and his soldiers. Vanquished, Magnar recognized his son and gave the to the Skylord to avenge his death in fighting Helya. Finally, the spirits of Magnar and his soldiers were sent to the Halls of Valor.
In the Shield Hill, the spirit of Gorvold Ironbrow was called by the Tahu Sagewind and Orik Truehearth in order to find the place of a powerful artefact of the Light against the demons. The Gorvold's Story led the paladins group to the Tomb of the Old Kings. Inna the Cryptstalker tried to stop the despoilers to enter in the tomb but she was killed by the paladins. In the Shrine of Truthguard, Yrgrim the Truthseeker, champion of Tyr, and Runeshaper Griselda challenged the paladin's group and lost the battle. He accepted his defeat and gave in order for the future Highlord of the Silver Hand to become the new champion of Tyr.
Later, Prustaga helped the Unseen Path to penetrate in the Tomb of the Old Kings in order to find a powerful artifact against the Legion. When they entered the tomb of Warlord Volund, his spirit was awakened. Taking the intruders for thieves, he decided to defend his tomb. When his spirit had been vanished, Prustaga betrayed the Unseen Path and took the . Her next and last move was to lead her vrykul followers until the Temple of Storms in order to absorb the powers of the storm and the makers. Finally, she has been killed with several of her followers by a alliance between Thorim and the Unseen Path.
Contrary to popular belief, vrykul drinking horns were not common drinking vessels. While most drank mead or ale from bowls or cups, only those of great prestige quaffed wine from elaborate horns. Indeed, even the passing of such a vessel to the vrykul in question was a matter of ceremony, usually performed by the highest-ranking female present along with formal declarations of rank and deed.
In vrykul culture, it is the woman of the household who keeps all the keys, often displaying them prominently to show her status.
The vrykul assign nicknames based on accomplishments. Cleansing a Drakkari bloodline or decapitating taunka might garner the appellation of "dutiful" but it takes a true act of depravity to be called "ruthless".
Technology and armaments
The vrykul craft their homes and armaments from wood, stone, metal and whatever else they can gather from their surroundings. Animal motifs are known to be used on vrykul tools, weapons and armor, such as a flint striker with a rod carved like a dragon's head, with the flat blade of metal fashioned to look like a stylized fish. They also use proto-dragon fangs for tools, such as cloak pins. Vrykul technology, however, is slightly behind that of the Horde or Alliance.
Many of the axes forged by the vrykul display an unusual style: the bottom edge of the axe blade extends down below the width of the butt. This style increases cutting area while minimizing weight; it can be used on both weapon and tools. Some dwarven axes show a similar construction. Scramseax are large, straight knives with a single edge and a simple hilt worn by many vrykul warriors as a sidearm. One common fighting style among warriors involves an axe in the main hand and the scramseax in the offhand.
Vrykul appear to use shoveltusk bones for weapons and armor, as can be seen in the Shaman Tier 10 armor set (Frost Witch's Garb) and . This can also be seen in concept art for a female vrykul warrior.
While Northrend's vrykul know little to no magic, some have been trained in necromancy by the Lich King. It seems that some of them are also familiar with rune magic, though the practice is not widespread. On the other hand, the mystic vrykul of Stormheim are masters of rune magic. Many are known to infuse their tattoos with ancient magic and, culturally, hold their inkbinders in very high regard.
Vrykul appear as very large and muscular humans. Their infants, unlike human infants, apparently are able to stand on their own not long after birth. The males are usually, but not always, bearded; indeed, some vrykul skeletons retain their facial hair long after their flesh has rotted away, as evidenced by the Risen Vrykul Ancestors at the ancient burial ground known as Shield Hill. Many males also have intricate tattoos on their arms and torso.
Cairne Bloodhoof (who had never seen one in person) described them in the following way: "They looked like humans—if humans were larger than tauren and sometimes had skin that was covered in ice, or made of metal or stone."
Note that this is the only known official mention of "stone vrykul" that some players assume to have existed at some point. Interestingly, Cairne implies that they have already been seen. He may mean that iron vrykul have some stone parts, though it is possible that this was meant to be confirmation that there were stone vrykul.
Both men and women have deep voices.
|King of the Northrend vrykul and ruler of the Dragonflayer clan||Scourge, Dragonflayer clan||Deceased-Killable||Winter's Terrace, Howling Fjord; Ymiron's Seat, Utgarde Pinnacle|
|Queen of the Vrykul and wife of Ymiron||Scourge, Dragonflayer clan||Deceased-Killable||Winter's Terrace, Howling Fjord|
|King of the vrykul on the Broken Isles and ally of the Burning Legion||Tideskorn clan, Burning Legion||Killable||Halls of Valor|
|Arena master of Valhalas||Scourge||Active||Valhalas, Icecrown|
|Famed bard who lived in the town of Nifflevar and wrote three sagas||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Commander of the attacks on Valgarde; raised as a vargul by Annhylde the Caller after failing to kill a group of adventurers||Dragonflayer clan||Killable||Tyr's Terrace, Utgarde Keep|
|Rumored to have been the finest vrykul warrior to ever live||Mjordin, Scourge||Killable||Halls of the Ancestors, Icecrown|
|Master of Jotunheim||Scourge||Killable||Balargarde Fortress, Icecrown|
|Slaughtered the vrykul who refused to kill their malformed offspring; now rides Grauf in Utgarde Pinnacle||Scourge||Killable||Eagle's Eye, Utgarde Pinnacle|
|"Companion" of Dalronn the Controller||Scourge||Killable||Utgarde Keep|
|Lieutenant of Ingvar the Plunderer; transformed into a val'kyr by the Lich King for her service||Scourge||Killable||Observance Hall, Utgarde Pinnacle|
|Vrykul warleader, commander of the forces at Savage Ledge||Scourge||Killable||Ufrang's Hall, Icecrown|
|Amphitheater of Anguish gladiator||Scourge||Killable||Amphitheater of Anguish, Zul'Drak|
A few subraces of vrykul exist. The currently known ones are:
- Have stone or metal-like skin with engraved runes. Sjonnir The Ironshaper appears to be this type of vrykul. The current generation of iron vrykul serve the titan watcher Loken, as well as his master, Yogg-Saron. They are the original form of vrykul made of iron, and are to the vrykul as the earthen are to the dwarves.
- They are all female and have blue skin. They are adapted to living in the colder areas of Northrend, more specifically in the Storm Peaks. They are sometimes categorized as frost vrykul alongside with the ymirjar.
Four undead variants derived from vrykul stock also exist.
- Incorporeal undead raised from vrykul females. Two similar versions exist: those created by Odyn (through Helya, and later through Eyir), and those created by the Lich King. The Valkyra aspire to be transformed to the first type; the inhabitants of Valkyrion aspire to be transformed to the second type.
- Vrykul brought to undeath that were found worthy by the Lich King. They are the winners of the challenge to "ascend" at Jotunheim. They are sometimes categorized as frost vrykul alongside with the hyldnir.
- Vrykul brought to undeath that weren't found worthy by the Lich King. They are the losers of the challenge to "ascend" at Jotunheim. The winners are the Ymirjar.
- Undead spirits, covered in green scales and barnacles; they are almost entirely aquatic. They were created by Helya in order to serve her in Helheim, and to kill and capture new spirits for her. They attack the beaches of southern Northrend and sections of Stormheim. Additionally in a chain of flashbacks, Varkul the Unrelenting leads a huge army and claims the then abandoned Ruins of Vashj'ir. Both he and his kvaldir were defeated by an army of naga lead by Lady Naz'jar and Fathom-Lord Zin'jatar.
- While it is not seen in-game, Blizzard employee Chris Metzen stated at BlizzCon 2007 that the vrykul were vampiric (see "Inspiration" section below). Whether or not this is canon has not been looked into publicly. Some speculate that the vampiric aspects were split off into the darkfallen.
- Vrykul vampyres were later confirmed to exist.
- One of the females are voiced by Jessica Straus.
- One of the females are voiced by Rena Durham.
- One of the males are voiced by Richard Epcar.
- One of the males are voiced by Christopher Corey Smith.
- According to the Wrath of the Lich King game manual, vrykuls are descendants of giants. This seems to be retconned as seen in Ulduar.
- Early concept art shows that they were originally called vry'kul.
- In Heroes of the Storm, Leoric, a character from Diablo, has a skin called "Vrykul Leoric".
Vrykul culture, naming and architecture are all heavily inspired by Norse mythology and culture. More specifically, they may be inspired by the Einherjar (ine-her-yar, "lone ravagers/army of one") of Norse mythology who were the spirits of warriors who died glorious deaths in battle and were resurrected to serve the gods at the time of Ragnarök. Unlike the Einherjar, however, the vrykul serve an evil purpose.
The name vrykul comes from the Greek equivalent of the vampire, the vrykolakas (from the Slavic vǎrkolak). (The vrykul were originally planned to be vampiric in nature, but this aspect was seemingly later separated and implemented as the Darkfallen.)
In addition, the vrykul may have ties to the Warhammer universe's Norscans, a nomadic and violent race of humans enthralled to the Chaos gods. The Warcraft series is believed to be originally inspired, in part, by the Warhammer games.
At the BlizzCon '07 World of Warcraft Lore panel, Chris Metzen said "The first time we started talking about these guys, there were probably six different things that defined them, right? They're giant... dark... vampiric... barbarian... vikings... from hell, right? The list just kept going."
- It can be speculated that the disappearance of the vrykul can be traced back to the Sundering if they, like the earthen, were greatly affected by the event and retreated to hibernate for thousands of years. This possibility may be seen in Jotunheim and Gjalerbron where some of the vrykul are in a state of hibernation. The Tribunal of Ages hints that Loken put them in stasis at the end of his war.
- Although the vrykul are generally seen as an inherently brutal race, focused on nothing but violence, power and servitude to their king, there are several cases throughout World of Warcraft where a disobedience to power, whether it be king or magic, is seen. For example, during the quest chain in Howling Fjord which gives a possible explanation as to how humans came to be, a vrykul couple choose to save their "weak" and "ugly" child (as they were described by King Ymiron) out of what appears to be the same moral values that their human descendants hold.
Vrykul building concept art by Jimmy Lo.
Vrykul in World of Warcraft: Legion
Vydhar, a tree with a vrykul face
- ^ BlizzCon 2015 World and Content Overview Panel (around 29:40)
- ^ a b c d World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1
- ^ Ask CDev - Round 4 Answers
- ^ Class Hall Mission: Dragonblood
- ^ a b
- ^ Skadi the Ruthless#Dungeon Journal
- ^ Libram of Ancient Kings, The Silver Hand
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 65-66
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, 65.
- ^ and
- ^ and
- ^ Twilight Slayer
- ^ Icecrown Citadel (instance)
- ^ Edge of Night
- ^ Warmaster Blackhorn
- ^ Quest:Rise of Skovald
- ^ God-King Skovald (tactics)
- ^ Mount Journal entry for and
- ^ a b
- ^ Mount Journal entry for
- ^ Adventure Guide entry for Skadi the Ruthless
- ^ Adventure Guide entry for Skarvald and Dalronn
- ^ Fjord Worg Pup
- ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Legion, pg. 85
- ^ The Old Wizard's Almanac
- ^ BlizzCon 2015 World and Content Overview Panel (around 30:30)
- ^ Class Hall Mission: Inked
- ^ The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, 17