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- This article is about the world of the deceased. For the other plane described also as spirit world, see Emerald Dream.
The Shadowlands (see below for other names and denotations) are the realm where the spirits of mortals go when they die. They are a nightmarish realm of decay, a labyrinthine spiritual plane teeming with the souls of the dead who have passed from the world of the living. It is a dimension, referred to as a "place between worlds". It appears as a shadowy version of the real world.
This is the plane player characters are sent to upon reaching zero health.
- 1 Background
- 2 Appearances
- 3 Other names
- 4 Inhabitants
- 5 Other afterlives
- 6 Associated quests
- 7 In the RPG
- 8 Notes and trivia
- 9 Speculation
- 10 References
The origins of the Shadowlands remain uncertain, but they have existed ever since mortal life first arose in the physical universe. They seem to span all worlds, including Azeroth. They are described as nightmarish realms of decay, labyrinthine spiritual planes teeming with the souls of the dead who have passed from the world of the living. Many believe that mortal souls are drawn into this place at the point of death, where they remain forever after. Still, others hope that their souls will go on to a brighter place, rather than languish for eternity within the cold confines of the Shadowlands.
In World of Warcraft, the Shadowlands are accessible upon death, where the player-character can roam, and can only be seen by other spirits. The Spirit of Tony Two-Tusk describes the Shadowlands as all grey and dark, swirling clouds. While Uuna was in the Shadowlands, she described it as dark and she was unable to see anything, though she could hear people interacting with her in the physical world. From within the Shadowlands, she could see the light of the naaru A'dal who was in the physical world, but it was so bright that it scared her. The moonlight at Lake Falathim allowed her to see a friend in the physical world.
When a soul is called from the afterlife, it is free to roam the material realm if it is not restrained within moments of its arrival. While in the Shadowlands, visions of past events may be seen.
Sometimes, the spirits roam the Shadowlands without resting. It can be because their resting place wasn't complete, because of a battle in their resting place or because of the corruption of their resting place. To bring eternal peace to the souls, it is needed to destroy the source of corruption or by making a ceremony with items such as . A spirit in the Shadowlands can, with enough power over other souls, tear a hole into the living world once they are strong enough. This is how Jin'do returned to Azeroth.
Time may pass differently in the Shadowlands, as Salanar the Horseman (who was last seen in the Shadowlands, during ) once said that the years since he last met the Deathlord were only days for him.
World of Warcraft
This section concerns content related to the original World of Warcraft.
In World of Warcraft, the Shadowlands can be seen when a character dies. They can be resurrected by a Spirit Healer (or by finding the corpse of their physical body, though this may be just a game mechanic).
The Shadowlands can also be witnessed by other means, such as with some specific . It can also be seen with some devices and potions while being alive. Many not-dead mortals who visit the Shadowlands do not return.
Wrath of the Lich King
This section concerns content related to Wrath of the Lich King.
- The Lich King gained rule over the Shadowlands with the help of the Val'kyr. Players encounter him while seeing visions of the past in the Shadowlands.
- Salanar the Horseman's dark riders kill captured horses and raise them as Acherus Deathchargers there, while death knight initiates must venture into this realm to defeat the horsemen and take the deathchargers for themselves, a task in which few of the initiates succeed.
- Shadowy Tormentors inhabit this dimension, and emerge from it to torment death knights such as Koltira Deathweaver, who implies that it is the Lich King who commands them. He even appears in the World of the Dead, as he calls it, riding a Frost wyrm during .
- Lady Alistra summons Shadow Constructs, Forgotten Servants and a Cenarion Scout from the Shadow Realm to train her Disciples of the Unholy. It's unknown how the Scout came there, but after wondering shortly Lady Alistra kills her too.
- Gan'jo, a Drakkari ghost, was able to resurrect the player from the spirit world.
- Har'koa sends the player into the Shadowlands at the Altar of Quetz'lun.
- Death knight players enter the Shadowlands to obtain their Acherus Deathchargers.
- Quetz'lun created her own domain within the Shadowlands (that she referred to as "underworld"), after her followers had sacrificed her physical embodiment, where she tortured those who had turned against her.
- An adventurer temporarily separated their spirit from their body to question ghosts at the Forgotten Shore.
The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm
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This section concerns content related to Cataclysm.
- Azuregos hid in the Shadowlands, together with the spirit healer Anara.
- Jin'do drained the powers of Hakkar inside of the Shadowlands and was also defeated there.
- Thoralius the Wise sent a hero into the Deadmines to see a vision of Edwin VanCleef's death inside the spirit world.
Mists of Pandaria
This section concerns content related to Mists of Pandaria.
- Pei-Zhi creates a tan-chao, a bridge from the living world to the heavens, to draw spirits called by the mogu back into the Shadowlands.
- Mogu tortured the spirits of pandaren in the spirit world at the Golden Stair in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, before the Vale was destroyed.
- During the battle with Gara'jal the Spiritbinder in Mogu'shan Vaults, adventurers were sent to the spirit world via his Spirit Totems.
Warlords of Draenor
This section concerns content related to Warlords of Draenor.
- It also exists on the alternate Draenor. (and thus probably in the original Draenor). It is likely within this realm that Terokk was sealed by the Talonpriests.
- The Arakkoa Outcasts are also able to travel to the Realm of Shadow at will, through use of magics, scrying orbs and special elixirs. However, crossing over often takes quite a toll on the uninitiated, leaving them grappling with their own minds in confusion.
- While within the Realm of Shadow, arakkoa claim to be able to move more quickly than in the normal world, although this may simply refer to travelling unhindered by their adversaries. Outcasts may hide in the Shadow Realm to escape their enemies, including the Adherents of Rukhmar, who appear unable to perceive their presence there. However, especially powerful individuals may attract unwanted attention from the Shadow Realm's inhabitants while within it. The Outcasts sometimes also hide powerful relics and items within the Realm of Shadow, usually at shrines to Terokk.
- The SI:7 rogue Owynn Graddock, shadow hunter Bwu'ja and the commanders of the Alliance and Horde entered the spirit realm in order to stop the Bloodmaul chieftain Borgal Doomfist using the on orcish spirits.
- The Edge of Reality in which Ner'zhul retreats is in the Shadowlands.
This section concerns content related to Legion.
- Keeper Odyn used knowledge he gleaned from this place to create the first Val'kyr, Helya, and tasked her with bringing the souls of worthy Vrykul to the Halls of Valor. Later Val'kyr were created by the Lich King and used to corrupt Vrykul into his servants.
- During the Burning Legion's third invasion, the Knights of the Ebon Blade traveled to the Shadowlands to acquire the Aggregates of Anguish, five tormented essences of powerful souls - Admiral Proudmoore, Soulbinder Nyami, Grand Empress Shek'zeer, Grand Apothecary Putress and Archmage Arugal. Salanaar required these to conjure the Steeds of the Damned for the order's new Horsemen.
- Salanar noted that while years had passed in the regular world, for him in the Realm of Shadows, it had been mere days since he had helped the Deathlord claim their own deathcharger.
- A Dark Place, entered by a portal at the Emerald Dragonshrine, is an area where "the barrier between the realms of life and death are thin". Adventurers travel here to save a young eredar ghost named Uuna from creatures called Soul-Eaters.
- In the battle with Argus the Unmaker, Argus slays the adventurers battling him. Eonar is able to bring them back from the Shadowlands multiple times with her power. Hungering Souls attack the heroes' spirits while in the Shadowlands.
Battle for Azeroth
This section concerns content related to Battle for Azeroth.
- Centuries ago, Summoner Mepjila cursed the followers of Kimbul to constantly relive their battle with her naga forces as spirits for eternity. Kimbul sends an adventurer into the Shadowlands to slay Mepjila's spirit and free his followers from her curse.
- Talanji, Rokhan, and Master Gadrin conducted a ritual to delve into the Shadowlands and locate Vol'jin's missing spirit.
- Vol'jin's spirit and a Horde adventurer traveled through Orgrimmar in the Shadowlands as Vol'jin relived the day of his death and realized it was not the loa who told him to make Sylvanas warchief.
Beings of death are ancient and powerful, and it is dangerous to meddle in their realm. When Odyn peered into the Shadowlands, he saw some of its inhabitants: souls in torment, the husks of the dead, ghostly wraiths with no face, and others with no form, all made of death itself. This was enough to frighten even him.
- The ghosts of the dead dwell in the Shadowlands.
- Spirit Healers are val'kyr who chose, after Odyn's imprisonment, to remain in the Shadowlands and assist the dead in returning to the land of the living.
- Bwonsamdi is a loa who watches over deceased trolls.
- There was a "great spirit [...] billowing up from the ethereal mists, shapeless" that Odyn gave his eye to in payment in order to see into the Shadowlands.
- Shadowy Tormentors
- Soul-Eaters are mysterious denizens of a dark place in the Shadowlands. They cannot be harmed by mortals.
- The Shadow Realm of the Spires of Arak is filled with shadowy fiends, flesh beasts and shades. Huge and nightmarish shapes float high above the trees, while the lower denizens of the realm feast on the dead, feeding on the stray life essence that seeps through from the living world.
- Spirit Flayers are trolls phased into the spirit realm, unable to be harmed from the mortal plane.
- Umbral Lurkers
- Dark Riders of Acherus, including Dark Rider Ghrave
- Forgotten Servants
- Shadowy Tormentors
- Shadow Constructs
- Essence Fiends
In some situations, souls may be taken to other places besides the Shadowlands:
- Souls can be sent to the Light, such as Uuna's parents or Crusader Bridenbrad. Requirements for this are unknown.
- The spirits of green dragons, most Wild Gods, and some druids such as Elerethe Renferal and Thaon Moonclaw, can go to the Emerald Dream.
- The spirits of winged creatures, including dragons, tend to be sent to G'Hanir, within the Dream.
- Vrykul warriors who prove their valor to Odyn can be taken by his val'kyr to the Halls of Valor.
- Elementals and demons respectively return to the Elemental Plane and Twisting Nether upon death, where they are then reborn. Dying in these planes kills them permanently.
- Some Kul Tirans speak of a boatman that calls them after death.
In the RPG
The final destination of the spirits of the deceased remains a mystery to the priests and philosophers of Azeroth. However, as spells such as can reunite a dead body with its spirit, and a majority of living creatures from the tauren to the troll shadow hunters claim they can communicate with and call upon the power of the spirits, a widely held belief is that the spirits of the dead remain on the Material Plane — in an immaterial state that can only be altered or contacted through the use of magic.
- Shadow hunters deal with the darkest aspects of the Shadowlands. Their connections to powerful voodoo spirits give them the ability to curse and heal at a whim.
- The Inner and Outer Planes doesn't appear to exist in Warcraft universe, however, they are related to the Shadowlands.
- The spell called "spiritual projection" or "astral projection" brings the caster to the Twisting Nether instead of the Shadowlands; and the Twisting Nether is also referred as "realm of ghosts". However, both planes don't appear to be related, as Outland is floating on the Twisting Nether, but the Shadowlands can be reached in Outland in The Burning Crusade.
Notes and trivia
- The had a deep connection to the Shadowlands.
- Spirits without a material manifestation are still able to send items from the Shadowlands to the living.
- Apparently, powerful death knights such as Lady Alistra, Salanar the Horseman, Koltira Deathweaver and the Lich King can teleport others (and probably themselves) to and from the Realm of Shadows.
- Spirit healers wait within the Shadowlands for those unfortunate adventurers whose spirits will soon join them. These floating figures of death and rebirth return people to life where their spirit stands.
- In World of Warcraft, some quests require the player to die in order to visit the "Shadowlands" to complete objectives.
- Though the Shadowlands and the Void are not the same, the ability gives players the "Void-Touched" debuff which reads, "The touch of the spirit realm lingers..."
- The Shadowlands were originally intended to be a fully playable zone in World of Warcraft, designed for high-level play. The idea was that as deceased characters made their way back to their corpses, they'd see high-level players battling creeps in the area, which would inspire lower level players to increase their character level so they could experience the zone for themselves.
- Inner Veil is inside the "spectral realm" in the Kalecgos fight in the Sunwell Plateau raid, possibly the Shadowlands.
- When Sylvanas Windrunner committed suicide in Icecrown Citadel, she found herself in the darkness, which was described as an infinite void where souls are tortured and tormented. The Val'kyr can reach this dimension and bring back souls from it to the material plane, suggesting that it is the Shadowlands.
- The Shadowlands may transcend all realities as evidenced with Soulbinder Nyami.
- The arakkoa shadow realm displayed in and inhabited by Essence Fiends and Face-Stealers could be the Shadowlands.
- Mueh'zala is another loa of death who presumably also resides in the Shadowlands.
Realm of Shadows
The Realm of Shadows may be the same World of Shadows as the one that becomes visible when an consumed. It may also have something to do with shadow magic and shades. Death knights, necromancers, and undead as a whole share a strong connection with the Realm of Shadows from many hints that can be seen in-game. In the death knight starting zone, death knights are given the task to enter the Realm of Shadows in order to gain their Deathcharger. Later on, death knights are eventually able to learn the ability which pulls their ally's spirit back from the Realm of the Dead and forces it back into their body. Upon doing so, a buff is applied to the player stating that: "A touch of the spirit realm still lingers..." This shows that death knights and necromancers both have a connection to the Realm of the Shadows/Dead to perform necromancy which furthers the idea that they actually are drawing their magical power from it.is
Furthermore, upon the Lich King's death he even spoke of "Seeing only darkness before him" while Sylvanas Windrunner said the same in Silverpine Forest after being risen from the dead by the Val'kyr. This may hint that because undead, death knights, and necromancers are connected to the Realm of Shadows when they die (again) they actually become apart of the Realm of Shadows and are forced to wanders in its dark mists for the rest of eternity. If this is so, then it can also be implied that when a death knight is given his/her own personal runeblade, the runeblade is actually used to bind the individual to the Realm of Shadows in mind and body, making it impossible to ever be rid of the death knight curse. In Howling Fjord, players are even able to witness the Lich King himself standing within the Realm of Shadows with two Val'kyr. The idea that necromantic magic and death knight runes drawing power from the Realm of Shadows itself is not yet proven, but it is heavily supported by in-game quests and lore.
- ^ a b c d e
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. ??
- ^ a b c
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 12
- ^ pet description
- ^ a b c
- ^ a b
- ^ The Day of the Dead has Arrived: "Can you feel it? The spirit world draws close during the Day of the Dead."
- ^ a b
- ^ a b , , , , , ,
- ^ a b Quetz'lun's quotes
- ^ a b The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, chapter 25
- ^ a b c
- ^ a b
- ^ a b c
- ^ a b
- ^ a b Ner'zhul (tactics)#Quotes
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 48
- ^ a b Spirit Healer dialogue
- ^ and Salanar the Horseman (mission)
- ^ Day of the Dead
- ^ Zarhym (NPC)
- ^ a b World of Warcraft Official Strategy Guide, pg. 28
- ^ Fuel for the Voodoo#Completion
- ^ King Rastakhan (tactics)
- ^ a b The Legend of Odyn
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 57
- ^ Roughneck Logger#Quotes
- ^ Warbringers: Jaina
- ^ a b Shadows & Light, pg. 132
- ^ Magic & Mayhem, pg. 45
- ^ a b Shadows & Light, pg. 131
- ^ Shadows & Light, pg. 152
- ^ Jeremy Feasel on Twitter
- ^ Game Informer #308: Reforging Real-time Strategy
- ^ Edge of Night
- ^ Unholy Attainment: Essence of Shadow