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Lava is molten rock that is often found in volcanic regions or in areas where metal is being forged. In-game, lava is a broad term that encompasses the real life definitions of lava, magma, and molten metal since all three look and behave identically within World of Warcraft.
Lava can primarily be found in and around Blackrock Mountain and its related areas; Searing Gorge, Burning Steppes, Blackrock Depths, and Molten Core. It can also be found in the depths of Ironforge, inside Ragefire Chasm, and within the Obsidian Dragonshrine.
Generally there is a route over or around lava pools, however traveling through it is often the fastest way. Common shortcuts include Ragnaros' room in Molten Core and lava-swimming in Blackrock Depths from Lord Incendius to The Black Forge which allows players to skip a large part of the instance for a fast run or to complete the Molten Core attunement quest.
When touching lava, your character will take fire damage every 2 seconds until dead or clear from the lava. It is possible to avoid one damage tic with a well-timed jump into the air, even if it means landing back in the lava. Fire resistance reduces the damage taken.
Swimming in lava
Lava behaves like water in that a character can swim through deep pools or walk in the shallows. Underneath the surface, the breath meter will be displayed and drowning is possible if the character is not killed by the ticking fire damage first. There is almost never any need to actually travel below the surface of the lava, however, so this is a scenario easily avoided.
No abilities or circumstances that would allow a character to walk on water will work with lava. This means that even dead characters will have to swim through it. However, abilities that increase swim speed and allow underwater breathing will work while in lava.
Travel with care
In some areas, lava is used as a border to enclose a region and prevent a player from leaving the map. Players should take caution when swimming through such areas, as the map beyond the lava may be incomplete, possibly leading to areas with no exit to safe land, or even falling through the world.
Lava can be fished in, just like water. The quality of catches in lava is generally quite poor, if there is any fishing allowed in the region at all. Fishing in lava will usually result in poor quality catches, (a different loot table than poor quality loot obtained due to low fishing skill), with occasional fire-based elemental trade goods, or . Actual fish are rarely or never caught when fishing in lava, (one exception being , which used to be catchable in the lava of the Great Forge).