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  #126  
Old Yesterday, 12:50 PM
BoxCrayonTales BoxCrayonTales is offline

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One of the common trends in Blizzard retcons was a sort "six degrees of separation." That is, the writers felt the need to make everything connected in some extremely important way.

A perfect example of this would be the development of Medivh.

In WC1, he accidentally opened the rift to Draenor but didn't control the orcs. Though he presumably planned to conquer them anyway due to his arrogance.

In WC2, he was working with Gul'dan the whole time by offering him the power of Sargeras as a temptation. Sargeras is just a generic demon lord here, but he was apparently traveled enough to have tutored Kil'jaeden at some point.

In The Last Guardian, Sargeras is retconned to be a god-like being leading the Burning Legion and responsible for the destruction of the Well of Eternity 10,000 years prior and for Medivh's corruption when his avatar was repelled by Aegwyn. Here Medivh mentions that "Tirisfal" is an unknown concept (this was later retconned to the Tirisfal Glades).

In WC3, Medivh comes back from the dead without explanation to warn Azeroth of the Burning Legion's return. Then he vanishes without explanation.

As far as retcons go, these weren't particularly extreme. These were kind of weird in that IMO they were too neat or uncreative by recycling concepts briefly mentioned in older lore by expanding them into new directions, but they didn't betray the spirit of the older lore like the later retcons would.

In fact, Starcraft suffered much more extreme retcons (technically internal contradictions) at the time as a result of Metzen seemingly changing his mind way too many times during development and then forgetting to go back and rewrite the rest of the lore to be consistent with the latest changes. For example, the SC manual explains that the Zerg were in Koprulu to assimilate humanity so they could R&D their latent psychic powers into a weapon against the otherwise invincible Protoss. In the game, however, this plot point is forgotten and contradicted: the Zerg seemingly stumbled onto Koprulu at random while searching for the Protoss to invade, rendering the entire terran plot tangential to the more important zerg/protoss conflict. These cumulative changes severely weakened and disjointed the final story, resulting in the Terran campaign feeling completely disconnected from the following two aside from cameos, the Zerg campaign being uninteresting, meandering and generally pointless, and the Protoss campaign feeling like it was taken out of context from a completely different trilogy. The BW expansion is full of plot holes that make it look absurd, presumably due to a combination of limited budget and even more rewrites during the drafting process (e.g. the BW website circa '99 made zero mention of the UED or 2nd Overmind in the plot synopsis, and recent interviews mentioned that at one point the Zerg were planned to invade Earth). As a result, the SC1 manual, the SC1 game, and the BW expansion all feel like they belong to alternate universes of one another.
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  #127  
Old Yesterday, 03:11 PM
Marthen Marthen is offline

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Well, it's sort of a trend for Blizzard that games, manuals, expansions, and so on each feel like from a different alternate dimension.
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  #128  
Old Yesterday, 03:23 PM
BaronGrackle BaronGrackle is offline

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Thanks for the good read, BoxCrayon. Have you read Day of the Dragon and The Last Guardian? They came out between WC2 and WC3 and share elements of both lore sets. They depict a very large universe, in terms of worldbuilding.

They also showcase the old understanding of orcs, before demonic corruption was in lore. The Last Guardian hits it deep, with Garona explaining a lot of orcish culture to Khadgar throughout the book.

That's when you realize the WC2 cutscene of an orc burning the row of human corpses might've actually been an act of respect for the fallen, worthy enemies.

EDIT: Wait, of COURSE you read them. You mentioned so in your posts.

Last edited by BaronGrackle; Yesterday at 03:30 PM..
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  #129  
Old Today, 05:57 AM
BoxCrayonTales BoxCrayonTales is offline

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marthen View Post
Well, it's sort of a trend for Blizzard that games, manuals, expansions, and so on each feel like from a different alternate dimension.
Still extremely aggravating. If they want to do something completely different, they should make an alternate universe.

Games Workshop has done plenty of huge retcons, but at least they justify it by stating that the lore should be viewed as in-universe accounts and thus subject to unreliability based on the biases and knowledge of the narrator. Of course, it helps that Games Workshop actually understands the scales they are working with and thus treat their universe as the enormous sandbox it is. If it wasn't for the fact that the Tyranids are utterly devoid of the brain bug politics that made the Zerg so interesting in the first place (as it was, and still is, a clever twist on the devouring swarm scifi archetype), I would have switched to 40K a long time ago.

What's to stop me from writing fanfiction that rewrites Starcraft to fix the problems or 40k to give the tyranids brain bug politics? Well, nothing. It's just that I like to write fanfiction to show off my ability and, hopefully, entertain others. When I try to write fanfiction where the Zerg are the big bad evil guys or the Tyranids have brain bug politics, the fans generally hate on it.

The Zerg are more interesting than Tyranids from a storytelling perspective because they have personalities, study tactics, have much more specific short-term goals, and aren't going to magically steamroll their way through most problems. That's why they're a clever twist on the devouring swarm scifi trope.

However, Metzen has poisoned the well so thoroughly that fans cannot think outside the insanely tiny box of Raynor, Kerry and Mengsk. Most fans are seemingly physically incapable of imagining Starcraft as a functional setting, rather than a shallow stage for a handful of recurring canon characters. For whatever reason, the franchise doesn't attract many creative fans.

I find this insanely disappointing because Starcraft, while full of scifi cliches, had enough novel ideas that it could have resulted in interesting, thought-provoking storylines. Unfortunately, Metzen totally botched it and destroyed that potential so thoroughly that even fans can't think beyond his tiny box.

This is in complete contrast to, say, Mass Effect. For whatever reason, Mass Effect attracted more creative and critical fans than Starcraft did. To the point that the vast majority of fanfiction dealing with the Reapers will generally rewrite their backstory completely because, for whatever reason, the majority of creative fans think the motivation "stop organics from creating and being destroyed by synthetics by creating synthetics to destroy them and convert them into more synthetics" was mind-numbingly stupid.

Contrast that to Starcraft 1 and Brood War, which were full of plot holes, inconsistencies, etc (especially in BW where all the key plot points are obvious phoned-in plot contrivances with no effort put into them), which the majority of fans seem quite happy to just ignore despite the fact that the writing is so bad that it makes the Twilight books look good. Stephanie Meyer is a terrible writer (not because she lacks command of the English language but because her plots are silly as hell), but she is still way better than Metzen because her plot follows a logical progression without constantly contradicting itself on key plot points and her characters while shallow and unlikable still act in a consistent manner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaronGrackle View Post
Thanks for the good read, BoxCrayon. Have you read Day of the Dragon and The Last Guardian? They came out between WC2 and WC3 and share elements of both lore sets. They depict a very large universe, in terms of worldbuilding.

They also showcase the old understanding of orcs, before demonic corruption was in lore. The Last Guardian hits it deep, with Garona explaining a lot of orcish culture to Khadgar throughout the book.

That's when you realize the WC2 cutscene of an orc burning the row of human corpses might've actually been an act of respect for the fallen, worthy enemies.

EDIT: Wait, of COURSE you read them. You mentioned so in your posts.
It's speculating on that sort of nuance that makes Retrocraft more interesting to write compared to the absurdities of modern canon.

One of the multiple interesting bits of the proto-WC3 draft of lore is Medivh's account of the origin of magic. Supposedly all magic was originally concentrated in the Well of Eternity, and destroying it allowed magic to be accessible across the planet and to pool in various places (analogous to the concept of ley lines and such in real world occultism).

WoW isn't anywhere near as consistent. It has the Second Well of Eternity and the Sunwell being deliberately created from vials of the Well of Eternity, as well as the Nightwell being created spontaneously by ley lines. There's no explanation given for why things would work that way.

If you're building a magical cosmology, then you need to devise a coherent rational underlying basis for it. On Earth, all usable energy may trace its origin to the Sun or to the core, and undergoes transitions into many other forms. Similar principles should apply to "magical fields" or whatever the jargon would be.

WoW's explanation that magic is the blood of the "world-soul" doesn't explain why it's possible for vials from the Well of Eternity to create new wells when the only other times wells are created is as a result of digging into the crust to the access the arteries or the movement of ley lines (external arteries) across the surface. Dabbing a drop of your own blood somewhere else on your skin isn't going to spontaneous open a wound there.

There's also a blink-and-miss-it line where Medivh states that Sargeras was apparently imprisoned by the Well's explosion. I think this was supposed to explain why Sargeras was apparently orbiting Azeroth for the next 10,000 years when he could have left to find easier targets. The use of "prison" is weird, since the explanation that demons can't access Azeroth from the Nether without inside help isn't analogous to a prison metaphor. You could assume that the Nether isn't a physical place, at least not at this point in the lore. Prior to WC3 stating that Ner'zhul entered the Nether physically, WC2 only stated he opened portals to other worlds directly.

Ner'zhul traveling to another world, rather than the Nether (which here would be a non-physical plane), would have important implications for the backstory of the Scourge in a Retrocraft 3 storyline. What other world (or worlds) did Ner'zhul visit before he returned to Azeroth? How did he meet and seduce the Dreadlords? Who else did he meet? What are the other "extra-dimensional entities" that joined the Scourge? How did he become a suit of possessed armor encased in ice?

The tumultuous development of the death knight is of particular fascination to me. I'm partial to the idea of having multiple death knight orders in order to explain the differences between their multiple canon iterations.

The original death knights were created by binding the souls of former Shadow Council warlocks into the bodies of fallen knights of Stormwind, and gifting them with "jeweled truncheons" (phylacteries? soulstones?) containing the power of sacrificed necrolytes. (In terms of game mechanics, this explains why death knights replaced warlocks and necrolytes between WC1 and WC2.) The "jeweled truncheons" used by the death knights could be recycled into the phylacteries used in the creation of the liches (who are generally former warlocks, shamans, necrolytes, death knights, etc).

In the WC3 alpha, they used the model later used for revenants for some reason. The revenants have pretty inconsistent throwaway lore, but I think they could be worked into the alpha Scourge somehow. In canon, they are ghosts bound to elemental spirits that animate suits of armor. For whatever reason, they aren't controlled by the Scourge and resist domination. For the Retrocraft, I think they could be explained as the results of experiments by Ner'zhul's shamans to bind elementals. They went rogue and, among other things, stole and guarded Frostmourne.

Thinking on it now, there doesn't really need to be a one-to-one correspondence between the WC2 death knights and the WC3 undead heroes. Perhaps the warlocks, shamans, necrolytes, death knights, paladins, mages, etc joined those vocations that best fit their abilities. The new order of death knights would focus on martial pursuits and were granted "vampiric runeblades" forged by the tothrezim (a type of dreadlord from the d20 RPG), while the new order of liches would focus on studies of magic.
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  #130  
Old Today, 11:50 AM
BoxCrayonTales BoxCrayonTales is offline

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Here's some more ideas for revisionist history i came up with:

Scourge revisionist history
Ner’zhul, the Shadowmoon clan and their remaining allies flee through one of the portals he created. Ner’zhul is drunk on the magic of Draenor and develops a god complex. Not simply prideful and greedy, but paternal and possessive; perhaps stemming from his feelings of guilt and self-pity over the Horde’s defeat.
The Shadowmoon clan ends up on a pristine world that they christen New Draenor. They rebuild a new Horde and form the precursor of what would become the Scourge. Ner’zhul and his followers consort with demons to acquire further power. He meets the demon lord Archimonde and makes an alliance; the demon lord in turn learns of Azeroth and suggests that they invade it.
Ner’zhul’s magic addiction takes its toll and slowly warps him into something other, creating the blight. Something that Archimonde finds useful for much darker purposes. Tothrezim forge powerful artifacts (possibly long before for a forgotten conflict): The Frozen Throne, Helm of Domination, Plate of the Damned, and Frostmourne. Ner’zhul’s mutating spirit is bound into this panoply, creating a powerful undead being named the Lich King.
The Lich King contacts the Nerubian King Anub’arak by astral projection and telepathy. Although the Nerubians lack a concept of worship, they do have philosophical schools that the Lich King is able to take advantage of. The Mortuary Cult of Azjol-Nerub summons the Frozen Throne to Icecrown Glacier and secretly assists the Scourge in gathering power.
Archimonde sends the dread lords led by Tichondrius to observe and assist the Lich King. Although initially planning to make the Lich King their puppet, the dread lords become infected with the blight and turncoat instead. Indeed, they eventually come to worship it.
Archimonde underestimates how alien and powerful the Lich King has become compared to its humble origins. After building a foothold on Azeroth, the Lich King betrays Archimonde and leaves the Burning Legion to rot in the Nether.
The Lich King and the Mortuary Cult wage the War of the Spider against the Nerubian orthodoxy. The Cult wins and rechristens itself the Cult of the Damned.
The Lich King sends out telepathic calls to attract individuals sympathetic to his goals, lured by promises of power, or tricked into servitude. The disguised dread lords scatter to the various polities and manipulate politics to create unstable conditions for the Cult to take advantage of.
Certain powerful individuals like Kel’Thuzad are converted to the Cult, providing inroads to the polities. The decline, disbanding and civil wars among the Alliance provide numerous opportunities to acquire converts. The blight slowly spreads over Lordaeron due to the Cult’s machinations.
Paladins and clerics attempt to halt the advance of the plague. The channeling of the holy light renders them immune to disease including the plague, but because of growing discontent and envy this results in accusations of deception and witchcraft. Rumors of the plague’s origin in Northrend incite several unsanctioned crusades being led there, but these ultimately fail and provide opportunities for the Scourge to gaslight and convert the erstwhile crusaders.
At the Lich King’s behest, the Shadowmoon clan’s mystics and their Mortuary Cult allies perform various horrific experiments with the goal of producing an army to conquer the world. The guinea pigs include both willing cultists, captured victims, and dark spirits called from the corners of the world and the Nether.
A new order of death knights is created, armed with vampiric runeblades and riding astride skeletal nightmares. The jeweled truncheons of the elder death knights are used to create the first phylacteries, and these empower lich mages.
The Cult’s shamans experimented with binding elemental spirits into undead forms. This results in the revenants, but disaster struck, and the creatures went rogue. In an attempted coup, they fracture the cursed Frostmourne from the Lich King and flee into the wilderness. Although bound to the Lich King, Frostmourne was a sentient being that hungered for souls. Realizing the power and danger of the demonic blade, the revenants enshrined it in a tomb and guarded it against plunderers.

Burning Legion revisionist history
Long ago the Eredar destroyed their home world after becoming addicted to magic. Now they are demons forced to invade and devour the life of other worlds. Although typically considered evil by mortal races, demons are more akin to tragic figures enslaved to their hunger. Not that this make them any less monstrous.
Archimonde is an Eredar warlock and the leader of an army he christened the Burning Legion. He met the rebuilding Shadowmoon clan during their forays into the Nether and made an alliance with them, creating the Scourge. However, the Lich King turned his dread lords against him and left the Legion to rot in the Nether.
However, Archimonde had hedged his bets and found other agents on Azeroth. Several demon-worshiping cults existed in the obscure corners of the world, including the corrupted ancients and the fel orcs. With their assistance, the reign of chaos was summoned.

Naga revisionist history
Shortly prior to the Third War, something dark stirred within the Maelstrom. It was attributed with the creation of the mutant murlocs and later the mur’gul. An emissary of this force, the Sea Witch, was encountered by the new Horde when Thrall sent expeditions to found new colonies. This force was the Naga.
The Naga are descendants of the Kaldorei. When the Well of Eternity was destroyed and Kalimdor sank beneath the waves, some of the Kaldorei survived when they were transformed into the Naga. They remained obscure for most of the last 10,000 years, believing the surface world had been destroyed by the explosion. All of that changed during the Second War, when the orcs sent large numbers of ships across the seas and Gul’dan investigated the Tomb of Sargeras.
Fearful of the interlopers and their warlike intentions, the Naga have decided to strike first and ask questions later.
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  #131  
Old Today, 12:44 PM
Cacofonix Cacofonix is offline

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What about Arthas
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  #132  
Old Today, 01:07 PM
Marthen Marthen is offline

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoxCrayonTales View Post

In the WC3 alpha, they used the model later used for revenants for some reason.
There was a reason for this; the death knights of the Scourge had formerly a different backstory, and this model was created for them. Only after they changed this backstory, this model was given to the revenants.

It's important to remember than in Warcraft III Alpha, the death knights and the corrupted vampiric runeblade wielding paladins were two completely separate entities. The death knights were a unit, and they were further transformed Warcraft II death knights. The corrupted runeblade knights, at that point called Anti-Paladin (possibly a work in progress name), were on the other hand a hero unit, their backstory pretty much the same as of the final (as in the release version of Warcraft III) Scourge death knights.

This was the original backstory for the Scourge death knights;

Death Knight
The nefarious Death Knights were created by Gul'dan during the Second War using the corpses of slaughtered Human Knights and the malicious spirits of the dead Orc Warlocks. Death Knights replaced the Warlocks as the Horde's magic-users, but their insubordination and apathy for the Orcish cause led them to be widely mistrusted. The Death Knights, along with their master, Ner'zhul, were captured by the Legion after the war on Draenor concluded. When the Legion remade Ner'zhul into the Lich King, the Death Knights refused to give him homage. As punishment for their insubordination, they were stripped of most of their power and bound to Ner'zhul's iron will. Now the mystical Death Knights serve as some of the mightiest warriors of the Scourge.


There was also another unit, the Cold Wraith, which had this backstory;

Cold Wraith
The few surviving Warlocks who were captured along with Ner'zhul by the Legion were transformed into spectral apparitions of living cold. Renamed Cold Wraiths, the damned spirits became twisted and evil. Filled with the desire to inflict pain and suffering, these former magic users now serve their Lich King without question and use their newfound necromantic powers in his name. Cold Wraiths can fly across any battlefield and rain down their terrible bolts of cold-fire.


Essentially, at that point, the idea was that some of the warlocks following Ner'zhul were transformed into cold wraits, some death knights stripped of most of their power and bound to sets of armor because of their insubordination, and those most loyal, be it shaman, warlocks, death knights, transformed into liches.
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