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Cult of the Damned

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NeutralCult of the Damned
Icon of the Damned.jpg
Main leader

IconSmall TheJailer.gif The Jailer[1]

  Formerly IconSmall Necromancer.gifIconSmall Kel'ThuzadSL.gif Kel'Thuzad[2]
IconSmall Nathrezim.gif Mal'Ganis[3]
Secondary leaders IconSmall Arugal.gif Gandling
 Interrogator Grell
  Formerly IconSmall Dar'khan.gifIconSmall UndeadElf Male.gif Dar'Khan Drathir †
IconSmall Lich Female.gif Lady Deathwhisper †
Race(s) IconSmall Cultist Male.gifIconSmall Cultist Female.gif Human
IconSmall Undead Male.gifIconSmall Undead Female.gif Undead
IconSmall CultistOrc Male.gifIconSmall CultistOrc Female.gif Orc
High elfHigh elf High elf
GnomeGnome Gnome
DwarfDwarf Dwarf
Night elfNight elf Night elf
DraeneiDraenei Draenei
Blood elfBlood elf Blood elf
Character classes Necromancer, Acolyte, Shadowmage, Rogue, Assassin, Alchemist, Summoner, Necrolyte, Apothecary, Infiltrator, Plaguebringer, Bombardier, Engineer, Mad scientist, Mage, Priest, Necrolord
Capital Mord'rethar
  Formerly Icecrown Citadel, Scholomance[4][5]
Other major settlements Aldur'thar, Scholomance[6]
  Formerly Andorhal, Stratholme, Deatholme, Naxxramas
Theater of operations Eastern Kingdoms, Northrend, Kalimdor
Language(s) Common, Language of death[7][8][9]
Sub-group(s) Thuzadin
Affiliation Scourge, Mawsworn[10]
  Formerly Independent (Plaguelands)[11]
Status Active

The Cult of the Damned is an organization of the living beings who served the Lich King. The Cult was formed years before the Third War, as the predecessor and creator of the Scourge officially being loyal to the Burning Legion, and establishing its foothold on Lordaeron. The Lich King Ner'zhul, trapped in his prison-throne, reached out telepathically any dark soul lusted for power that would hear his call - most notably the then-Archmage Kel'Thuzad who would become an Archlich and the creator and leader of the Cult of the Damned.

While Cultists aspire to become undead, they remain alive because undeath is considered an honor one must earn, and because living beings are useful to the Lich King for their ability to spy in living Horde or Alliance settlements, and recruit powerful individuals from among the living, either into the Cult or the Scourge.[4]

Since the rise of Bolvar Fordragon as the new Lich King (and his proclamation as "Jailor of the Damned"), the Cult of the Damned have been seen leading the various remaining Scourge posts in Azeroth outside of Northrend. This would indicate that Fordragon's ability to contain the Scourge is limited to Northrend, giving heroes of Azeroth the responsibility to defeat the rest of the Scourge still beyond that continent.

After the destruction of the Helm of Domination and the fall of Bolvar as the Lich King, the Cult of the Damned re-emerged through Azeroth under the control of the Jailer and his Mawsworn forces.

The Cult of the Damned consists mostly of humans, but orcs, high elves, draenei, and other races are presented.

The cult is notorious for concocting grandiose plans that in the end, rarely succeed.[12]

History

Formation of the cult

Main article: Kel'Thuzad and the Forming of the Scourge
The Lich King

After the Lich King Ner'zhul defeated Azjol-Nerub in the War of the Spider, and gained control of Northrend, he turned his attention south, to Kil'jaeden's chosen targets: Quel'Thalas and Lordaeron. Though he was trapped bodiless and confined to the Frozen Throne, he could reach out telepathically across great distances to those seeking power and knowledge of necromancy - his first minions, and the beginnings of the Cult of the Damned.

Chief among the men and women who heard the Lich King's call was Kel'Thuzad, archmage of Dalaran. Forsaking his position as a senior member of the Kirin Tor, Dalaran's ruling council, Kel'Thuzad traveled alone to Northrend. The vast Nerubian ruins left decimated by the War of the Spider confirmed his desire to ally with the Lich King. His arrival was expected, and he offered his soul to Ner'zhul. In exchange for loyalty and obedience, Kel'Thuzad was promised immortality and power, but he remained a mortal human for his appointed task: the organization of the Cult of the Damned, which would set the stage for the Scourge's conquest of Lordaeron. The Archmagus was old, but still very charismatic, a useful trait for amassing more and more of Lordaeron's easily-swayed citizens under the shadow of the Lich King.

The necromancer Kel'Thuzad

For three years Kel'Thuzad worked, preaching his new religion to the masses, promising them immortality and an ideal society free of all the burdens the existing one forced upon its citizenry. Many of Lordaeron's overworked laborers and disenfranchised masses were taken in by this charismatic individual, and willingly sold themselves into service to the Lich King. Kel'Thuzad also used his fortunes and offers of great powers and immortality to attract and convince nobles and landowners to join his cause, bringing them into the Cult through the promise of using the lower classes to defeat their rivals and obtain even more wealth.[13] Some of the earliest known members of the Cult of the Damned include Baron Rivendare,[14] Bronjahm,[15] Maleki the Pallid,[16] and Ras Frostwhisper.[4] Eventually, many of Lordaeron's northern towns were completely under the control of the Cult of the Damned, and it became time for the Lich King to act.

Third War

The Cult rallied by Arthas and Tichondrius.

As the Third War started, the cultists began openly operating alongside Scourge forces, led by their master Kel'Thuzad, distributing plagued grain throughout northern Lordaeron.[17] They were eventually scattered by the vengeful Arthas Menethil and went back into hiding.

In the days since Prince Arthas took the fleet to Northrend, the Scourge continued to grow, taking villages and its turned inhabitants, with a small help from Baron Rivendare and his corrupted food supplies.[18]

When the prince of Lordaeron became corrupted by Frostmourne and changed his allegiances, Tichondrius ordered him to rally the Cult once more. The death knight began his work in Vandermar Village, where many hidden acolytes lived, though they eventually fell under suspicion of the local town guard. Arthas gathered the cultists and saved those in danger, destroying the village in the process. The acolytes began serving Arthas and openly acting once more.[19]

Plague cauldrons, artifacts which would spread the blight plague over wide areas, were created and placed by the Cult of the Damned in the cities they controlled, beginning in the northernmost reaches of the kingdom of Lordaeron. The plague spread quickly, wiping out the towns' populations and raising them as Scourge. Though this was a horror for an unsuspecting citizen, for a Cultist, undeath was a welcome reward.

When Arthas shattered the Lich King's prison and took on the Helm of Domination and the spirit of Ner'zhul, the cult continued to serve him in the years to come.

World of Warcraft

WoW Icon update.png This section concerns content related to the original World of Warcraft.
Cultist

The Cult was still active, secretly present in nearly every city of the Alliance and Horde,[4] but its true objective was hidden; the Lich King's next move had yet to be revealed.

As the only living humanoid boss in Naxxramas, Grand Widow Faerlina is likely a high-ranked member of the cult. Other members include Maleki the Pallid, leader of the mortal Thuzadin in Stratholme.

The Cult of the Damned makes a strong comeback in Wrath of the Lich King, and have managed to infect many villages with the Undead Plague, including the Magmothran magnataur in Borean Tundra, the Alliance town of Farshire, and the Horde farms north of Warsong Hold, and have infiltrated both factions' main strongholds within Borean Tundra.

The Cult of the Damned trains, practices, and kills within Icecrown, mostly upon the gigantic series of gates the Lich King built to fortify his citadel.

Cataclysm

Cataclysm This section concerns content related to Cataclysm.

After the events of the War against the Lich King, the Cult of the Damned is now independent of the Bolvar-controlled Scourge.[20]

The Cult is still active in the Plaguelands, attempting to spread the plague and creating new undead horrors.

However, their task is mostly to re-blight or prevent the healing of the Plaguelands (which has mostly failed outside of the Eastern Plaguelands).

In the Hour of Twilight, Wastes Taskmasters are still commanding ghouls around Galakrond's Rest.

Legion

Legion This section concerns content related to Legion.

Despite attacks on Scholomance, the Cult of the Damned appears active on the island of Caer Darrow still and in possession of the Book of Medivh, until Gul'dan and the Shadow Council took it.[21]

Exploring Azeroth

WoW-novel-logo-16x62.png This section concerns content related to the Warcraft novels, novellas, or short stories.

Following the Fourth War, Mathias Shaw stated that according to Argent Crusade reports, the Cult of the Damned is still in Scholomance with Darkmaster Gandling at their head.[6]

Shadowlands

Shadowlands This section concerns content related to Shadowlands.

After the Helm of Domination was destroyed and so the Lich King no longer existed, the Scourge and the Cult of the Damned re-emerged under the control of the Jailer and his Mawsworn forces.[10]

Members

Named

Name Location Status
Mob  Alumeth the Ascended Aldur'thar: The Desolation Gate Icecrown Killable
Mob  Baron Rivendare Various Locations Active (Undead)
Boss  Bronjahm Forge of Souls Icecrown Citadel Killable-Active (Undead)
Mob   Dar'Khan Drathir Tower of the Damned Deatholme Deceased-Killable
Neutral  Darnavan (temporarily) Lower Spire Icecrown Citadel Unknown
Mob  Deathspeaker Kharos Deathspeaker's Watch Icecrown Deceased-Killable
Mob  Deathspeaker Selendre Eastern Plaguelands Killable
 Diodor the Damned Unknown Unknown Deceased
Mob  Doctor Kohler Deathspeaker's Watch Icecrown Killable
Boss  Darkmaster Gandling Headmaster's Study Scholomance Killable-Active (Undead)
Boss  Grand Widow Faerlina Arachnid Quarter Naxxramas Killable
Mob  Grimkor the Wicked Ironwall Rampart Icecrown Killable
Alliance  Guard Mitchells Valiance Keep Borean Tundra Killable
Mob  High Cultist Herenn Shaper's Terrace Un'Goro Crater Killable
Mob  High Cultist Zangus The Pit of Narjun Dragonblight Killable
Neutral  High Deathpriest Isidorus Death's Stand Borean Tundra Unknown
Mob  High Invoker Basaleph Cathedral of Darkness Icecrown Deceased
Boss  Jandice Barov Hall of Illusions Scholomance Killable-Active (Undead)
Neutral   Kel'Thuzad Maldraxxus Shadowlands Active (Undead)
Boss  Lady Deathwhisper Lower Spire Icecrown Citadel Killable-Active (Undead)
Boss  Maleki the Pallid Gauntlet Stratholme Killable
Mob  Malicia Malicia's Outpost Western Plaguelands Killable
Mob  Overseer Deathgaze Jintha'kalar Dragonblight Killable
Mob  Overseer Faedris Aldur'thar: The Desolation Gate (South Rampart) Icecrown Killable
Mob  Overseer Jhaeqon Aldur'thar: The Desolation Gate (Mid-Rampart) Icecrown Killable
Mob  Overseer Savryn Aldur'thar: The Desolation Gate (North Rampart) Icecrown Killable
Mob  Overseer Veraj Aldur'thar: The Desolation Gate (East Rampart) Icecrown Killable
Boss  Ras Frostwhisper Laboratory Scholomance Deceased
Mob  Rothin the Decaying Maw of Neltharion Dragonblight Killable
Neutral IconSmall Darion.gif The Black Knight Argent Tournament Grounds Icecrown Killable-Active (Undead)
Alliance  Tom Hegger Valiance Keep Borean Tundra Killable
Mob  Varidus the Flenser Warsong Slaughterhouse Borean Tundra Killable
Alliance  "Salty" John Thorpe Valiance Keep Borean Tundra Killable
Icon-RPG.png  Jack Unknown Northrend Alive
Icon-RPG.png  Pai Stormbringer Unknown Unknown Alive
Icon-RPG.png  Ul'haik Hadanot Unknown Unknown Unknown

Unnamed

Icon-search-48x48.png This section contains information that needs to be cleaned up. Reason: Trim; leave some interesting / distinct examples.
 

In the RPG

Icon-RPG.png This section contains information from the Warcraft RPG which is considered non-canon.

The Cult of the Damned considered the demons' defeat a victory for the Scourge as well. The Lich King was finally freed from the Legion's control, and could begin furthering his own plans using his powerful death knight, Arthas Menethil. He already had the greater part of Lordaeron under his control, and he wished to expand his influence. The Cult of the Damned rejoiced in the release of its leader and continues to work for him after the war. They didn't blink an eye when Arthas shattered the Lich King's prison and took on the spirit of Ner'zhul, making the new Lich King the strongest being in the world. The Cult simply vowed to serve this new entity as it did the old, as long as he furthered the efforts of the Scourge. Considering the new Lich King is now a mobile individual, the Cult works itself into a frenzy with the thought he may leave his new home in Northrend and grace Lordaeron with his presence some day. Working beside the undead, delving into the dark magic of necromancy, and striving one day to become undead themselves, the Cult of the Damned is truly a frightening organization.[22]

Organization

The base of operations of the Cult of the Damned is Stratholme, and its leader is Kel'Thuzad. Kel'Thuzad takes orders from the Lich King himself, and orchestrates the spread of the Scourge. His two closest living lieutenants are referred to as simply "Next In Line", and are raised as shades and replaced periodically. These leaders serve the Lich King without question, seeing undeath as the ultimate reward. Under the Next In Line, the Cult of the Damned appears to run with little rhyme or reason, but the (apparent) chaos serves the group's purpose - individual leaders cannot be picked out and targeted. Underneath the chaos is a tightly run operation with mortals dedicated to the study of dark magic, the conscription of new mortal members and undercover scouting for the Scourge's forces.

The Cult is situated mostly in the Plaguelands and, to a lesser extent, in the rest of Lordaeron, always extending the Scourge's sphere of control. The Cult will often be found wherever the Scourge is.[23]

Military tactics

The Cult of the Damned is not a military organization. It is an arm of the Scourge, and the Scourge has other methods of waging war. However, the cult contributes a pair of special weapons: necromancers and blightweavers. Their dark rites support the cult, bringing curses on their enemies and raising new legions of undead.

On the battlefield, they are scavengers, using spells to bring their dead enemies under their control before the carrion birds can get to them, gathering large undead forces and directing them at key targets chosen by their Scourge commanders.

Death comes in many forms — and it's the job of the blightweaver to make sure that death comes in as terrible a form as possible. These tinkers of the vile concoct new poisons and breed new diseases, hoping to discover new plagues that will extend the Scourge's terror to every corner of Azeroth.

On the battlefield, the Scourge occasionally employs blightweavers as sappers of life; instead of sending teams of goblins to destroy a wall with a burst of explosives, they send these vile priests out to destroy a populace with an explosion of disease and poison. They sneak into a town while the battle rages elsewhere, plant plague animals in stables, and poison wells.[24]

Membership

High elf cultists welcoming a new member.

While the current members of the Cult of the Damned are zealous individuals wholly dedicated to their cause, most new recruits are shy and weak-willed people unsure of themselves. Unpopular, abused people, often considered failures in their careers or their lives in general, are ripe for the manipulation of the Scourge as they don't have much to hold onto in the first place. With the promise of wealth, power, knowledge — whatever will motivate them — the Cult draws them in. When the mortals commit to the Cult, they are forced to drink a concoction that steals their will and enslaves them forever to the Lich King, to help them with the final act of submission. Afterward, they are given an Orb of Illusion, used to disguise a cult member, allowing them to gain safe passage, infiltrate, or simply blend in with an enemy, and are confident and in the full sway of the Lich King's powers, ready to work tirelessly to spread the will of the Scourge. Members view the Scourge with envious fascination, and many felt this way before any dark influences helped convert them. The undead seemingly defy the natural order of things and show limitless potential, for if one can beat death, one can do anything. To be undead is the greatest goal one can have in life. It is considered a reward for a life well lived (according to the Scourge, of course) to be given undeath. There is sometimes a murmur of dissent in the ranks when some feel that their fallen enemies are gifted with undeath undeservedly while cultists must work to receive that divine payment. Such grumblings are often put down quickly, usually with the threat of death with no final reward. The officers in the Cult explain that their enemies die and become allies because their numbers are much greater than the Cult of the Damned. If the Scourge only raised deserving mortals, it would not be the great force it is today. The Scourge needs the Cult because they need mortals to serve them.

Kel'Thuzad personally appoints officials and leaders for the Cult, looking for people both talented in espionage and in pursuing the dark art of necromancy. Good leadership abilities, a talent for recruitment and the ability to blend in with normal mortals are also valued skills. It is impossible to reach any officer ranks without magic, however. There are no ranking members of the Cult who do not know at least a handful of dark spells.[25]

Notes

  • Pledges to the cult are forced to drink a concoction that steals their will and enslaves them forever to the Lich King. Some say the potion contains the twisted soul of a being who was tormented before being mercilessly slaughtered.[26]
  • All cult initiates are given a special item called an Orb of Illusion. These artifacts are used to disguise a cult member, allowing them to gain safe passage, infiltrate, or simply blend in with an enemy.[27]
  • The members of the cult located in Scholomance celebrated the Midsummer Fire Festival.[28]
  • Mobs and NPCs that are members of the Cult of the Damned will usually have the title <Cult of the Damned>.
  • According to N [81] The Defector, an unreleased Cataclysm quest, a Twilight's Hammer instructor in Mount Hyjal was to be involved with the remnants of the Cult of the Damned.

Speculation

Questionmark-medium.png
This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials. It should not be taken as representing official lore.
  • Before being a part of the Anub'ar, the humanoid cultists were likely a part of the Cult of the Damned.

Gallery

Fan art

References