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- This article is about Azeroth, the planet. For the titan world-soul slumbering at the core of the world, see Azeroth (titan). For other uses, see Azeroth (disambiguation).
Azeroth is the name of the world in which the majority of the Warcraft series is set. At its core dwells a slumbering world-soul, the nascent spirit of a titan. Long ago, it was invaded by the Old Gods, eldritch abominations from the Void. When the Pantheon arrived, the titans imprisoned the Old Gods deep beneath the earth, before healing and ordering the world, and seeding life across the planet. A great fount of magic that would nurture the land was placed at the center of Kalimdor, known as the Well of Eternity.
One day, attracted by the Well, the demonic armies of the Burning Legion found Azeroth and caused the Sundering of the world. Two major powers have since emerged, the Alliance and the Horde. Although ravaged by inner conflict and external threats, the peoples of Azeroth have, somehow, always managed to survive.
- 1 Geographical features
- 2 History
- 3 Resident races
- 4 Origin of the name
- 5 Notes
- 6 Globe models
- 7 Azeroth's backside
- 8 Maps of Azeroth
- 9 Videos
- 10 References
The world of Azeroth is comprised of five major continents, with a number of smaller islands scattered about them. Northrend is located in the north, Kalimdor in the west, the Eastern Kingdoms in the east, Pandaria in the south, and the Broken Isles near the center, just southeast of the Maelstrom. The Eastern Kingdoms are made up out of two large landmasses - the southern one includes Azeroth and Khaz Modan, and the northern land of Lordaeron.
At one time, all of the five major continents were part of one large continent known as Kalimdor, with a large magic lake known as the Well of Eternity in the center. When the well exploded at the conclusion of the War of the Ancients, this continent was shattered, leaving behind the continents and islands that exist today.
The Forbidding Sea is the expanse of water to the east of the Eastern Kingdoms and the Veiled Sea sits west of Kalimdor. South of Pandaria lies the Uncharted Sea. Between the continents lies the Great Sea, while at its center lies the Maelstrom — a massive chaotic whirlpool over the area where the Well of Eternity once stood. It's believed that a part of the Well still exists in the Rift at the bottom of the vortex. It has been active since the Great Sundering ten thousand years ago and still there is no foreseeable natural end to its existence.
The world of Azeroth may have lands located at the other side, beyond the Veiled Sea to the west of Kalimdor, and beyond the Forbidding Sea to the east of the Eastern Kingdoms. No one is sure or has knowledge of what (if anything) lie on the other side of Azeroth. Chronicle Volume 1 mentions that Ancient Kalimdor before the Great Sundering was the largest continent at the time, implying more continents than just Kalimdor existed at the time.
When Malygos diverted the magical powers that coursed beneath Azeroth to the Nexus, the world's crust splintered, and the resulting unstable rifts tore the very fabric of the magical dimension of the Twisting Nether.
- Main article: Timeline
This section contains information that needs to be cleaned up. Reason: The pictures are a mess, don't need so many and of all size and shape on both sides.
As the titan Pantheon traveled the cosmos, ordering worlds and searching for additional titans, a miraculous new world, which would later become known as Azeroth, was taking form in a distant corner of the Great Dark. Within its core, a nascent titan stirred to life. As this world-soul developed, she drew in and consumed much of the fifth element, Spirit, causing Azeroth's native elementals to grow increasingly erratic and chaotic. The four Elemental Lords — the ruthlessly cunning Al'Akir the Windlord, the brutish Ragnaros the Firelord, the protective Therazane the Stonemother and the wise Neptulon the Tidehunter — reveled in strife, constantly clashing with each other and keeping the world in constant flux. One day, however, the Old Gods arrived, plummeting down from the Great Dark and embedding themselves in the world's surface. With the aid of their servants, the aqir and the n'raqi, the eldritch horrors established the Black Empire, and though the Elemental Lords attempted to extinguish what they saw as a threat to their dominion, the elementals were eventually enslaved.
Azeroth eventually attracted the attention of the wandering titans, who fought the Old Gods in a war of ordering the world and shaping it with artifacts known as the Pillars of Creation. Though the elementals were powerful beyond mortal comprehension, their combined forces could not stop the mighty titans. One by one, the elemental lords fell, and their forces dispersed. The Pantheon shattered the Old Gods' citadels and, after killing at least one, they cast the remaining ones down into eternal imprisonment deep beneath the earth, the place of their confinement hidden from all and their powers bound until the end of time. With the elementals' departure, nature calmed, and the world settled into a peaceful harmony. With the help of their constructs (the ancestors of dwarves, gnomes, vrykul, and giants), the titans paved new landscapes and shaped the world as they saw fit, allowing life to flourish on Azeroth. Satisfied, the titans built hidden cities for their construct creations and created the Great Aspects to guard the planet before leaving on their cosmic journey.
Before leaving, the titans created an enormous lake filled with arcane energy, known as the Well of Eternity, at the center of the great landmass of Kalimdor. The Well accelerated the cycles of growth and rebirth, and soon intelligent races evolved from the land's primitive life forms. The trolls were among the first and most prolific. Though the various troll tribes varied greatly in culture and traditions, they all shared a common religion centered around the elusive Wild Gods, or "loa", mysterious and powerful beings that originated from Azeroth itself. The Zandalari, the most powerful troll tribe, established the temple city of Zuldazar and a great civilisation upon the summit of the sacred Zandalar mountain range, where many of the trolls' honored loa dwelt. Soon, however, splinter factions of the Zandalari left Zuldazar seeking war and conquest, establishing the Gurubashi and Amani empires. Later, the aqiri empire of Azj'Aqir rose in the west, forcing the trolls to better defend their major holdings. With pressure from their trollish enemies, the empire of the aqir collapsed and split into the qiraji, nerubian, and mantid kingdoms.
After their war with the aqir, the trolls controlled most of Kalimdor. A group of dark trolls distanced themselves from their warlike brethren, instead dwelling in cavernous tunnel networks beneath Mount Hyjal and surrounding areas. Eventually, some of the dark trolls began migrating towards the heart of Kalimdor, establishing villages along the way and in time re-discovering the Well of Eternity. One of the dark troll tribes settled upon its shores, and the magic of the Well uplifted them into powerful and virtually immortal beings that would later become known as the night elves, or "kaldorei". Using the potent magics of the Well of Eternity, the elves broke troll influence in many regions and established a magocratic empire. At the height of kaldorei power, however, their reckless use of magic attracted the demonic armies of the Burning Legion. Queen Azshara and her Highborne summoned the Burning Legion into the world, sparking the War of the Ancients. The night elves not loyal to Azshara, along with their dragon and Ancient Guardian allies, were forced to destroy the Well, which caused a Great Sundering that split the ancient supercontinent of Kalimdor apart, creating several smaller continents: Northrend, Pandaria, the Eastern Kingdoms (including Azeroth, Khaz Modan, and Lordaeron), and "Kalimdor".
Following the war there was a schism among the elves. The night elves abandoned their arcane heritage, instead embracing druidism under the tutelage of the first druid, Malfurion Stormrage. The kaldorei, with the help of the Great Aspects, planted the World Tree Nordrassil on top of the last remaining waters of the Well of Eternity, in order to protect and heal Azeroth. However, the Highborne refused to give up arcane magic. Fearing their use of magic would cause another demonic invasion, the night elves banished the Highborne from Kalimdor. Renaming themselves high elves, the former servants of Azshara sailed across the Great Sea. They settled in the north of Lordaeron, establishing the mighty kingdom of Quel'Thalas. There, they rediscovered the Amani Empire, who still had a strong force over the land. Soon the two cultures clashed in what became known as the Troll Wars. With support from the young race of humanity, the high elves broke and scattered what remained of the Amani empire.
Meanwhile, on Kalimdor, the night elves were forced to fight with the reawakened silithid and their qiraji masters, in what would be called the War of the Shifting Sands. Bent on exterminating all non-insectoid life, the qiraji clashed with the night elves on the sands of Tanaris. With the help of their ancient dragon allies, the kaldorei were able to defeat the insectoid empire, and closed the Scarab Wall in order to seal the insectoid race inside Ahn'Qiraj, thus ending the war.
Living in peace within their mountain homes, the dwarves, cursed descendants of the titan-forged earthen, prospered. However, when their high king, Modimus Anvilmar, passed, a struggle for power over the capital city of Ironforge began. The War of the Three Hammers ensued, forcing dwarf against dwarf and split the dwarves into three clans; the Bronzebeard clan, the Wildhammer clan and the Dark Iron clan. Eventually, the Bronzebeards defeated the other two and banished them from the city. The Wildhammers went north and founded the city of Grim Batol, settling the Twilight Highlands and the Hinterlands. The Dark Irons went south and founded the city of Thaurissan. Angered by their defeat, the Dark Irons prepared two armies to destroy their cousins. However, both of these armies were defeated. Combining their forces, the Bronzebeard and Wildhammer marched to Thaurissan to end the Dark Irons once and for all. Sensing impending defeat, Sorcerer-thane Thaurissan accidentally summoned Ragnaros the Firelord into Azeroth. The resulting destruction formed Blackrock Mountain and halted the advance of the Bronzebeard and Wildhammer armies, but doomed the Dark Irons to centuries of servitude to the Firelord.
First, Second and Third Wars
Though the Legion constantly sought to re-enter Azeroth, the Council of Tirisfal, through its agent, the Guardian of Tirisfal, ensured that the demons were kept at bay. However, thousands of years after the War of the Ancients, the Burning Legion attempted to destroy Azeroth once more, this time indirectly. The demon lord Kil'jaeden forced the once peaceful orcs and ogres of Draenor into Azeroth. Manipulating the orc Gul'dan and possessing the human Medivh, the last Guardian of Tirisfal, the Legion was able to open a Dark Portal between both worlds, and the orcs poured through into Azeroth. The extended conflict with these alien invaders became known as the First and Second Wars, during which time the Horde destroyed the Kingdom of Azeroth, as well as establishing strongholds in Blackrock Mountain, Alterac Valley, Zul'Dare, and the Swamp of Sorrows. However, the mighty Horde was eventually broken and scattered by an Alliance of high elves, dwarves, and humans. Feeling the effects of their demonic bloodrage dissipate as they languished in internment camps, the orcs were able to remember their peaceful, shamanic roots. Sensing this change, Thrall of the Frostwolf clan set about establishing a new Horde.
Angered by the Horde's failure, the Burning Legion prepared for yet another invasion, the culmination of their efforts, on both continents. The Legion sent its pawn, the Lich King to undermine the Azerothian defenses. After establishing his base in Northrend and defeating the nerubians in the War of the Spider, the Lich King set loose in the East a plague of undeath on the Alliance that the Legion so despised. This undead Scourge quickly broke the northern powers, demoralizing the people of the Eastern Kingdoms in preparation for a Legion offensive. Lured to north by the Lich King, Prince Arthas of Lordaeron became his death knight pawn and the instrument of his liberation from the Legion's grasp. The Scourge under Arthas scattered the Knights of the Silver Hand, obliterated Lordaeron and broke the power of the Sunwell in Quel'Thalas.
In the West, the demons and their satyr allies made a more direct assault on their old kaldorei enemies. In desperation, the elves turned to Illidan, a demon hunter from the War of the Ancients who had violated druidic law and had been imprisoned for ten thousand years. During the course of the conflict, Illidan was persuaded by the insidious Arthas to attack the demon known as Tichondrius and drink from the Skull of Gul'dan (a small part in the Lich King's greater scheme to emancipate himself from his Legion jailers).
Through the machinations of the then cleansed Medivh, leaders of the New Horde and the Alliance were drawn to Kalimdor. While traveling Thrall's Horde forged powerful alliances with the Darkspear exiles and the native tauren of Kalimdor. In Kalimdor the Alliance and Horde joined with the night elves to thwart the Legion advance into Hyjal, where the World Tree Nordrassil was vulnerable to demonic attack. Archimonde, the leader of the daemonic invasion, as well as most of his followers, were defeated in the Battle of Mount Hyjal.
Post Third War Azeroth
Concerned with the separatist Scourge, Kil'jaeden solicited the half-demonic Illidan into destroying the source of the Lich King's power. With the aid of his naga allies, who he had recalled from the Maelstrom, he succeeded in breaking at least some of the Lich King's power. Hounded by his night elf jailers and the seething blood elves, Illidan was unable to complete his task. Suffering under the effects of magical withdrawal, the blood elves were persuaded to enter into the ranks of the Illidari. Fearing Kil'jaeden's wrath, Illidan and his allies fled to the decimated world of Outland. There, Illidan toppled the regime of Magtheridon to become the new ruler of Outland.
The weakening of the Frozen Throne allowed some of the Scourge to regain their free will. Under the Banshee Queen Sylvanas Windrunner, these Forsaken managed to force the Legion-controlled undead from the ruins of Lordaeron and establish a stronghold beneath its streets. Arthas, meanwhile, fought a desperate battle in Northrend to save his master from the newly empowered lord of Outland, who under increasing threats from Kil'jaeden had taken up his quest to destroy the Lich King once more. Illidan was defeated by Arthas and retreated to Outland, while Arthas merged with the malicious spirit of the Lich King.
Following the Third War, the political landscape of Azeroth changed greatly. The orcish nation of Durotar was established in Kalimdor, as was the human colony of Theramore. The night elves joined the Alliance, and the Forsaken joined the New Horde. The remaining citizens of Lordaeron, broken by the Scourge, formed new regimes: the xenophobic and zealous Scarlet Crusade and the compassionate Argent Dawn, citizens that stay in Lordaeron along with the refugees that fled to the remaining Alliance strongholds such as Stormwind. With the armies of the Horde and the Alliance decimated by the Third War, the defense of their borders became the responsibility of small bands of heroes and adventurers.
After a thousand years of waiting, the Silithid stirred within the confines of their city. Unleashing it's armies once more, the Old God C'Thun wished to destroy all life on the world and leave nothing but chaos in it's wake. Silithid began attacking the areas all around their fortress, attracting the attention of both the Alliance and Horde. With no other choice, the two were forced to work together and created the Might of Kalimdor. With the help of the dragonflights, they recreated the . With it, they used it's power to unlock the Scarab Wall and entered the ruined city. There, they defeated the Silithid and their Qiraji masters. Adventurers fought their way through the city and finally reached the Chamber of C'Thun. After long battle with the great best, C'Thun was defeated and his remnants were brought to Caelestrasz. And so, the Ahn'Qiraj War came to an end.
After major threats in Silithus were neutralized by Horde and Alliance forces in the Qiraji War-Effort, the power-blocks once more formed a tentative alliance in response to the opening of the Dark Portal. The Horde formed an alliance of necessity with the blood elves, while the Alliance warily welcomed the draenei exiles into their ranks. The Invasion of Outland was fought on multiple fronts and against numerous factions. The greatest threat was the Burning Legion, who, after their defeat on Hyjal, were mobilizing their forces for yet another invasion of Azeroth, this time via Outland. Finally, Illidan's hegemony in Outland proved to be short-lived. After losing the support of Kael'thas Sunstrider, whose addiction to fel energy led him to side with the Legion, the scattered coalition of nagas, fel orcs, and demons called the Illidari were defeated by Sha'tari and Azerothian forces. After the destruction of the Illidari and his own defeat, Kael'thas returned to Azeroth, where he planned to restore his beloved Sunwell as a means of summoning Kil'jaeden, his new master, into Azeroth. To counter this, the opposing factions in Shattrath, the Aldor and Scryers, joined with the Blood Knights of Quel'Thalas. This Shattered Sun Offensive marched upon the Sunwell, slaying Kael'Thas and forcing Kil'jaeden back to the Twisting Nether. Using the power of the fallen Naaru M'uru, the Prophet Velen ignited the Sunwell, thus returning the blood elves' power.
Dragon Aspect Malygos after thousands of years regained his sanity and saw that magic had run amok throughout the world of Azeroth, and blamed this on the reckless use of magic by the mortal races that had arisen in his ten millennia of isolation. Using the powerful Arcanomicon, he began to siphon magic from the world. Realizing that Malygos had become a very real threat, the Kirin Tor used what remaining powers they had to magically transfer the rebuilt city of Dalaran to the skies of Northrend to combat their new foe in what would be called the Nexus War. Malygos' actions has also incurred the ire of the Red dragonflight, led by the Dragonqueen Alexstrasza. Forming an alliance with the other dragonflights, the Wyrmrest Accord sought to end Malygos' war. The final blow against Malygos was struck thanks to the efforts of mortal heroes where they were joined by drakes of the red dragonflight. With the combined strength of the heroes and the drakes, Malygos was defeated.
After years of sitting dormant, the Lich King awoke and began his invasion of Azeroth. Defending their major holdings from a Scourge incursion in Kalimdor and Azeroth, the Horde-Alliance blocks, emboldened by their conquest of Outland, launched a final joint offensive on the Scourge forces in Northrend, starting the War against the Lich King. Their efforts were bolstered thanks to an internal rebellion against the Scourge by the Knights of the Ebon Blade and the newly created Argent Crusade, led by the paladin Tirion Fordring. The Horde-Alliance entente ended with the crisis at the Wrathgate. Their joint forces were routed at the gates to Icecrown when a separatist faction of Forsaken bombarded the living and dead alike with their new strain of blight. The fragile truce was shattered by this event, and both sides almost entered into an open war once again. With the help of the Ashen Verdict, their separate efforts were enough to finally breach the walls of Icecrown. In a final battle, Tirion and the combined forces of the Horde and Alliance shattered Frostmourne and ended the Lich King. Highlord Bolvar Fordragon took the responsability to became the new undead king, in order to keep the Scourge forces at bay.
Soon after, the Nightmare Lord launched his attack against Azeroth from the Emerald Nightmare. Forcing people to lay trapped within their own nightmares, he used these victims to attack those unaffected by the nightmare. And so, the War Against the Nightmare began. However, led by Malfurion Stormrage, the people from Azeroth were able to fight back. Using their dreamforms, they took the battle to the Emerald Nightmare where they freed Ysera and confronted the Nightmare Lord and his army. With the help of druids on the waking world, Malfurion was eventually able to destroy the Nightmare Lord's power source, both in the Emerald Dream and on Azeroth. People awoke from their nightmares and things returned to normal. The Horde and the Alliance tried once again to make a treaty, mostly because both groups needed to recover from the recent wars. But this treaty was not meant to last.
Deep within Deepholm, the domain of earth in the Elemental Plane, the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing had been waiting, recovering from the wounds of his last battle against Azeroth and biding his time until he could reforge the world in molten fire. Some time after the end of the War against the Lich King, Deathwing returned to Azeroth, and his eruption from Deepholm massively damaged the world. The kingdoms of Azeroth witnessed seismic shifts in power, the kindling of a war of the elements, and a return to open war between the Horde and the Alliance. With the help of the Twilight's Hammer led by Cho'gall and the powerful twilight dragons, Deathwing sought out to destroy the world in molten flame. Coming to the conclusion that the only way to defeat the great dragon, the Aspects and Thrall agreed they would need the Demon Soul to end him. While Thrall retrieved it from the past, the Wyrmrest Accord and their mortal allies battled the forces of Deathwing at Wyrmrest Temple. On his way to hand over the Demon Soul, Thrall was attacked by the new leader of the nearly extinct Twilight's Hammer, the Twilight Father. After defeating him, Thrall returned the Demon Soul to the Aspects who empowered it. After unleashing it's wrath upon Deathwing, the great dragon was finally destroyed at the Maelstrom. With the powers of the Aspects gone, the Age of Mortals began.
After the world was finally free from the grip of Deathwing's destructive rampage, the conflict between the Alliance and Horde began to intensify to an unprecedented scale, especially after the Battle for Theramore which led to massive uproar in the other Alliance nations and a full retaliation. The discovery of the Wandering Isle, the pandaren clans of Tushui and Huojin, and their newly found allegiance have brought the tales of their mystical homeland of Pandaria to the attention of the warring factions, which hope to gain the favor of its inhabitants and gain their natural resources, as the land is undamaged by the Shattering's effects.
The arrival of the Alliance and Horde in Pandaria and their war led to a large disturbance in the emotional harmony of Pandaria. The newcomers' hate, anger, violence, doubt, despair, fear, and pride manifested as Sha, ancient deadly creatures created by the Old God Y'Shaarj's last breath. For thousands of years, the pandaren learned to contain their negative emotions in turn to contain the Sha from wreacking havoc. Brave adventurers managed to purge the Sha one by one, but as they did so, other forces were at work. The mogu and their Zandalari allies resurrected Lei Shen the ancient emperor of the mogu. The mantid of the lands beyond the Serpent's Spine fell under the influence of the Sha of Fear, leading them to attack the great wall separating them from pandaren lands. Also attacking the nomadic yaungol, forcing them to also attack the pandaren to escape. Lei Shen's forces gathered at his seat of power to prepare for a great invasion of Pandaria. The Alliance and Horde were quick to land forces on the island to stop Lei Shen, and he was soundly defeated and killed forever at the steps of his throne. The power-hungry Warchief of the Horde Garrosh Hellscream began to attempt to use Sha corruption to infuse Horde warriors. After discovering a terrible hidden artifact through goblin excavation, he used it's power to corrupt the great Vale of Eternal Blossoms, killing most of the Golden Lotus and Shado-Pan in the process. Returning to Orgrimmar, he built a great underground citadel for his plans of conquering Azeroth and creating a pure orcish Horde. His actions eventually led a rebellion in his ranks to ally with the Alliance and lay siege to Orgrimmar. Most of Garrosh's followers were killed, captured or happened to escape during the chaos of the battle, the war between the Alliance and Horde was proclaimed to have ended, and the rebellion took control of the city and began to rebuild. Garrosh was then taken to Pandaria to await trial.
Garrosh escaped with the help of Kairozdormu to an alternate timeline of past Draenor. The former warchief created the Iron Horde and had the two universes connected through the Dark Portal. The Iron Horde's invasion force, the Ironmarch, attacked and raized the settlements of Blasted Lands, eventually triggering the heroes of the Horde and Alliance for an counterattack to Draenor itself. The campaign in Draenor resulted in demons taking over the Iron Horde thanks to the alternate Gul'dan. When the natives with the Azerothian forces defeated corrupted orcs and their demonic masters, Gul'dan was sent to the Twisting Nether by Archimonde. From there the diabolical orc was sent to Azeroth and he opened a portal for the demons on the Broken Isles. Pouring from the Felstorm above the Tomb of Sargeras, the Burning Legion began their third invasion of Azeroth.
Azeroth ultimately survived the invasion and ended the Burning Crusade, but not without scars. Sargeras impaled his sword into Azeroth in Silithus forming the Wound in the World. Cracks began occurring all across the planet's surface, the planet hemorrhaging its 'life-blood,' spilling to the surface as a blue-gold substance. As it emerged, it cyrstalized into thrumming spires reaching towards the sky. The scrambling over this new substance would ignite the conflict between the Alliance and Horde. The two sides recruit new allies to bolster their depleted ranks.
- See also: Race origins
A wide array of sapient races call the world of Azeroth home.
Races of native heritage
Wild god heritage
Presumed wild god heritage:
Troll and elf heritage
Races of alien heritage
- The Old Gods were among the first residents of Azeroth, but they did not originate on the world's surface. It is unclear exactly where they came from, but what is known is that they crashed down onto the world from the Great Dark Beyond. Before long, they had embedded themselves in the world's surface and enslaved the native elementals. The organic matter seeping from their blighted forms gave rise to two distinct races: the insectoid aqir and the cunning n'raqi. The aqir later gave rise to three distinct races as their empire of Azj'Aqir collapsed after centuries of war with the trolls: the qiraji, the nerubians and the mantid.
- Many races can trace their descent back to "seed races" created by the titans as caretakers and servants that were later afflicted by the Curse of Flesh. Examples include humans, dwarves, gnomes, tol'vir, giants, vrykul, mogu.
- Orcs and ogres who are originally from Draenor have large populations on Azeroth as a result of the First & Second Wars as well as from later conflicts.
- Demons are also a prominent non-native species. Most have either been summoned by warlocks or came here during the Third War, and stayed.
- Draenei from Outland and the Army of the Light have come to inhabit Azeroth.
- Some ethereals have ventured to Azeroth from other worlds.
Origin of the name
It is said that when the Arathi brought the scattered human tribes together as the empire of Arathor, they named the land as a whole in homage to their ancient ancestors: Azeroth. It is unclear whether they named the world or named the continent.
- Azeroth can be seen from the Black Temple in Outland (how that is possible is unknown).
- World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1 hints that the Kalimdor landmass wasn't the only continent on Azeroth. World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3 however states that the night elven empire was located on Azeroth's single landmass.
- Several things can be found in Azeroth's orbit, such as the Vindicaar, Orbital Support Shredders prepared for call-down by ground units, and Ulduar's orbital defense system.
It should be noted that, as with real world history, globes may only represent the known world from the point of view of the person or people who created them. Globes in World of Warcraft are also not meant to be entirely accurate, and serve more as decorative doodads. For example, many globes show the world with only a few islands dotting the seas of Azeroth, while in-lore there are many more. In some models, the western edge of Kalimdor looks to be near enough to the eastern edge of the Eastern Kingdoms to suggest that there is not enough room for a big landmass in between them, which contradicts the view of Azeroth from Argus.
Polar ice caps
In the latest model of post-Cataclysm Azeroth, shown by Wrathion during , no polar ice caps are present. Meanwhile, the globe of pre-Cataclysm Azeroth in the Halls of Lightning shows Azeroth with northern and southern polar ice caps. This may suggest that the polar ice caps melted some time after the creation of the Halls of Lightning globe, or it may be an oversight.
On some models of Azeroth, such as the one in the Halls of Lightning, there is a landmass in southern Azeroth. This is often mistaken for Pandaria, however it is actually Azeroth's southern polar ice cap. This is apparent by the fact it is identical to the northern polar ice cap also shown on the globe, being identical in shape and size. It is also further south than Pandaria is depicted on other globes such as Wrathion's globe in . It is also not the same shape as Pandaria and is completely white, suggesting it is covered with or made entirely of ice.
Throughout the Warcraft games, the world of Azeroth has usually been shown with the area surrounding the Maelstrom (Great Sea), placing Kalimdor in the west and the Eastern Kingdoms in the east (which the latter's name itself is a reference to). This has caused Azeroth's "backside" - that is, the area between western Kalimdor and eastern Eastern Kingdoms - to rarely been shown. It includes the Forbidding Sea and Veiled Sea, but is otherwise hardly (if ever) mentioned in the lore. It holds no travel routes.
Azeroth's backside did not make any appearances prior to World of Warcraft, in which it is rarely seen as well. Known appearances are:
- Note: This list may be incomplete.
- On some locations, everyday Azeroth globes can be found. These were implemented in the original version of World of Warcraft, and does as such not include zones introduced in expansions.
- Within Ulduar, a few titan-made Azeroth globes exist. Implemented in Wrath of the Lich King, they are more detailed, realistic and up-to-date than the earlier globes.
- In the quest (implemented in Cataclysm), the player is shown a slowly spinning Azeroth, briefly showing the backside.
- Azeroth's backside is also seen in some World of Warcraft-logos (see above).
On all these depictions it is shown that Azeroth's backside is sea, although they do size it differently.
Globe seen in HoL.
A peculiar feature of travel between continents on Azeroth is the tendency to use the air and water across the Great Sea, even though this area also holds the precarious Maelstrom. The sea on Azeroth's backside contains, however, no traveling routes, although this sea seemingly contains no such dangers.
Possible explanations for lack of mentions in lore
The lack of the backside-sea in lore can presumably be applied to a lack of travel across it:
- While the western coasts of Kalimdor appears mostly accessible, the eastern coasts of the Eastern Kingdoms seem being fairly rugged and mountainous with few major settlements. There are however several areas, including the Swamp of Sorrows, the coast created in the Blasted Lands by the Shattering, and Eversong Woods, which would have been suitable for harbors. Several eastern harbors - Revantusk Village, Fuselight-by-the-Sea, Surwich, Bogpaddle, Highbank and Dragonmaw Port - even exist already.
- It has been suggested that the backside-sea is much larger than the Great Sea. This seems to be the case for the earliest globes, but the backside-sea has shrunk on later ones. In , the backside-sea actually appears to be smaller. The large size of the backside-sea on the earliest globes can however possibly be attributed to how the globes, lore-wise, were made by beings that were unable to properly eastimate the sea's actual size.
- While the backside-sea doesn't hold any Maelstrom, it may hold other dangers. This may explain why Medivh told Terenas Menethil II to "travel west, to the forgotten lands of Kalimdor". For some reason, Thrall did also sail west after likewise being told by Medivh to find Kalimdor, but Medivh never told him to sail that direction. It is however possible that Thrall did not know about the Maelstrom at all, and that he chose to sail west purely by random. Medivh did nontheless speak to himself with the words "sail west to the lands of Kalimdor" as he watched Thrall depart, and while unknown, it's likely that Medivh would make sure his helpers sailed the safest sea to increase the chance of them reaching Kalimdor. As Thrall's fleet sailed dangerously close to the Maelstrom, was damaged by storm, ambushed and captured by an army of murlocs, had to escape an erupting volcano while fighting off said army of murlocs led by an undead naga queen sorcerer and eventually shipwrecked onto Kalimdor, one may assume that the backside-sea is somehow pretty darn dangerous.
- Blizzard may be leaving the backside sea alone and intentionally mysterious for use in the future, as it provides a huge unexplored portion of Azeroth to feature in a future game or expansion. Alternatively, they may feel that developing the area simply isn't necessary due to the game being focused on the Great Sea.
Possible technical explanation
The reason for the backside-sea's lack of usage is unknown. However, it is possibly because the backside-sea simply didn't exist up until World of Warcraft, at which point the Warcraft-universe was already "established" around the Great Sea. Areas on Azeroth (and Outland) did initially appear as "simple" Medieval/Early modern period-style maps (for example, compare the Azeroth map of the First War to Carta Marina.jpeg), a feature often seen in fantasy-settings, such as Kingdom of Gwynedd, The Wheel of Time (see Wheel of Time locations), and Dungeons & Dragons (map of Blackmoor, copyrighted 1977). Fantasy-maps like this were possibly inspired by things like J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age and C. S. Lewis' Narnia. Although still using antique-style maps, World of Warcraft was the first game to depict Azeroth as a round planet. The first globes were also somewhat vague, not including locations which were still established in lore, such as Northrend. The perhaps first realisitc depiction of Azeroth as a planet appeared in The Burning Crusade in which Azeroth could actually being seen from the Black Temple in Outland. This did however not show the full planet, and Azeroth's depiction in the new "super-map" was still similar to an antique map (compare to this Old World map). The Ulduar globes in Wrath of the Lich King are seemingly the first attempt at depicting the entire Azeroth in a realistic manner. This "shift" from a 2D-map to a 3D-planet appears to be what causes the globes to somewhat differ; on the earliest one the pre-World of Warcraft map is simply slapped onto a ball, whereas the later globes in Ulduar and attempt to create a more realistic appearance.
In other words; the backside-sea had originally no place in the Warcraft-universe due to how Azeroth was depicted. As the lore expanded, Azeroth's "form" changed, and the backside-sea was created as a result. It should however still be possible for Blizzard Entertainment to fit it into the lore, though.
Maps of Azeroth
In-game maps of Azeroth
In-game world map in World of Warcraft release.
In-game Azeroth map after patch 2.0.3.
In-game Azeroth map after patch 2.4.0.
In-game Azeroth map after patch 3.0.3.
In-game Azeroth map after patch 4.0.3a.
In-game Azeroth map after patch 5.0.4.
In-game Azeroth map after patch 7.0.3.
In-game Azeroth map after patch 8.0.1.
Azeroth on the in-game Cosmic map after patch 6.0.2.
Azeroth depictions in in-game locations
Kalimdor on a projected globe in the Halls of Lightning.
A map of ancient Kalimdor as seen in Black Rook Hold.
Chronicle Volume 1 Azeroth maps
Azeroth after the Great Sundering.
Chronicle Volume 3 Azeroth maps
The lands of Azeroth before the Third War.
Azeroth at the time of Ahn'Qiraj's reopening.
Azeroth after the Cataclysm.
Other depictions of Azeroth
Azeroth as seen in the Warcraft III alpha.
World of Warcraft World Map poster publication.
Azeroth Wrath of the Lich King pre-release map, used in the 2007 expansion Reveal trailer.
In-game Azeroth map from Cataclysm beta.
In-game Azeroth map from Battle for Azeroth beta, a similar map was used in 2 official trailers.
|Map Overview by Jesse Cox (advised to watch on youtube, as it is interactive)|
- ^ Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 29: "This burgeoning civilization was located near the center of Azeroth's largest continent."
- ^ Blizzcon 2015: World and Content Overview Panel (around 41:30)
- ^ Mists of Pandaria Zone Preview: Kun-Lai Summit
- ^ Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, chapter 2
- ^ a b c d World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1
- ^ Legion reveal
- ^ 2017-11-07, BlizzCon 2017 World of Warcraft: Gameplay and Systems Panel Transcript. Blizzplanet, retrieved on 2017-11-15
- ^ a b Lands of Conflict, pg. 18
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 29: "This burgeoning civilization was located near the center of Azeroth's largest continent."
- ^ This event is seen in the WCIII-cutscene The Warning.
- ^ This can be seen in the WCIII-mission Chasing Visions.
- ^ He did not tell him to do so in his prophetic vision to Thrall (seen in the cutscene Thrall's Vision), nor in their later meeting during the WCIII-mission Chasing Visions.
- ^ This can be seen during the WCIII-mission Departures.
- ^ The loading screen on the WCIII-mission Riders on the Storm depicts Thrall's route, sailing right into the Maelstrom.
- ^ WCIII mission Riders on the Storm, loading screen description: "As Thrall and his companions set out for Kalimdor in their fleet of stolen ships, they are beset in the open seas by a sudden, fierce storm. To prevent the ships from taking a heavy pounding, Thrall orders the fleet to seek shelter in the cove of a nearby, remote island." Four ships are shown in the intro cinematic, one ruined and burning.
- ^ They are taken captive at the end of Riders on the Storm.
- ^ These events happen in the WCIII-mission Countdown to Extinction.
- ^ WCIII-mission Landfall loading screen description: "Following the mysterious Prophet's instructions, Thrall led the Horde across the Great Sea. Now after weeks of traversing the raging seas, the orcish Horde has landed upon the savage shores of Kalimdor. With their stolen ships broken and drowned, the orcs cautionsly venture inland, wary of the unseen dangers lurking within the crags of the desolate land...". The level's first quest is also to find survived soldiers.