Hello again! Much like everyone else, I have been trying to get as much Beta information as I can while praying that I will get my own beta invite any day now. Some of the more interesting beta videos I found were done by Total Biscuit over at The Cynical Brit. While he admits he has no interest in lore at all, the Loremaster inside of me dies a little every time he attempts to speculate on lore, and I thought maybe other people care about the lore. I’ve had a few articles in mind about characters who were seriously retconned (Garona, Akama, Rend, and Maim) or who magically disappeared (Jarod Shadowsong, Maim) but I’ve thought that they probably aren’t enough to justify an article. Then I realized that Garona, Rend, and Maim are all orcs and perhaps some people aren’t aware of what the different colour of orcs mean. Well, I can fix that! I know about orcs! And while I’m sure the obvious starting place is the green orcs that you can find all over nowadays, I thought it would be best to start with the “original “orcs, the Mag’har.
Types of Orcs
The Mag’har Orcs
If you play World of Warcraft, you first encountered the Mag’har in Outlands, the ruined remains of the planet Draenor. The Mag’har orcs, or “brown orcs,” are native to the planet and lived happily there as shamans for years upon years. Much the same way my Night Elf article talked about how Elf + Something = New Species, these are the “base orc” the way Night Elves are the “base elf.” As most orcs have gone through something horrific to become what they are now, you may be wondering why the Mag’har orcs are still brown and happy. Well, it’s simple — they were too weak or too old to be of service to the Horde during the first war. Grom Hellscream and Kilrogg Deadeye’s children are among them, along with Thrall’s grandmother. Oh, and Saurfang Jr., of course. When you first meet them as a Horde player they are sick and losing the fight on many fronts. Garrosh Hellscream is in charge of the largest camp of Mag’har, and he is slowly losing territory to the Draenei and ogres. The other Mag’har clans come to him for aid, and he does nothing. The player eventually gets a quest to bring Drek’thar and Thrall to Outlands. It seems Garrosh knew his father was the first of all orcs to drink the Blood of Manneroth and enslave the race, and he can’t live with the burden of what his father did. Thrall shows him that Grommash Hellscream killed Manneroth to free them all, and Garrosh is freed of his lethargy. So the Garrosh we see leading the Mag’har in Outlands is fairly apathetic while Deadeye and Saurfang Jr. do all the work, then the Garrosh we see in Wrath of the Lich King is a bloodthirsty maniac. A bit of a change, but I guess Thrall’s encouragement worked. Speaking of Grommash Hellscream drinking the blood of Manneroth, that brings us to our next section.
Ner’zhul was leader back in the day, and in his madness he saw visions of his ex-wife warning him of an incoming invasion by the Draenei. While ogres and orcs are native to Draenor, the draenei are actually eredar who fled there to hide from the Burning Legion. And yes, I’m thinking the same thing you are: how egotistical do you have to be to show up on a planet with a ton of other sentient races and name it after yourself? Regardless, Ner’zhul combined the clans and served as Warchief to fend off the imaginary invasion. As time went by, the same voice had him train some of his shamans to be necromancers and warlocks, and he began to realize that perhaps his deceased wife was not really speaking to him. Then Gul’dan took over and locked him away. Around this same time, the orcs were told to drink the blood of Manneroth, a great demon. Grommash Hellscream, as mentioned before, was the first to drink. Drinking the blood transformed them all into fel orcs. And, if Warcraft 3 is to believed, allowed them to do chaos damage instead of normal damage. After the orcs were defeated in Warcraft 3, they went into a strange lethargy that was a side effect of drinking the blood. Thrall rose up during this time and encouraged them to go back to shamanism, and many followed. This return to shamanism is akin to the Night Elves turning their backs on magic after the War of the Ancients and becoming druids and priestesses. During the course of the third war, Cenarius arrived and destroyed several orc encampments. The Warsong Clan was in trouble, until their troll allies located a fountain of demon blood. Manneroth had spilled his own blood into the fountain to lure the orcs back under his control. Grommash made the decision to drink the blood again and killed the demigod Cenarius. Soon after, Thrall returned and saw what had happened to Thrall. Jaina, being a master at stealing people’s souls, explained that she could help them purify Grom. Together they returned him to his sanity, and Grommash ultimately killed Manneroth. In a fairly touching scene Grommash, dying from his wounds, explains “I have finally freed myself.” Thrall, ever the carebear, gives him a hug and explains that “You have freed us all.”
Now, you may be curious why there are still fel orcs by the boatload in Outlands. Well, that comes later. When the Dark Portal was sealed at the end of Beyond the Dark Portal, the Burning Legion retakes a large portion of the planet and Magtheridon, another pit lord, takes over the Black Citadel and creates his own army. What happens here is a little fuzzy, because according to Warcraft 3 Rend and Maim of the Blacktooth Grin clan are the main fel orc clan. this is clearly not the case in World of Warcraft, as Rend is in charge of Blackrock Spire and Maim is missing in action, and the orcs we find in Outlands are not part of the Blacktooth Grin clan. Regardless, after Illidan takes Outlands for his own with the help of Kael’thas (Princess of Silvermoon), Lady Vashj (Ambassador for Queen Azshara), and Akama (leader of the Draenei clans being persecuted by the demons) he chains up Magtheridon under the Hellfire Citadel and uses his blood to create his own army of fel orcs. Almost all of the orc heroes “forgotten” on Draenor at the end of Beyond the Dark Portal return as part of the new Fel Horde. The orcs on Azeroth had no idea what happened to them, which is why you will find Azeroth cities named after evil orcs in Outlands. At the time, Thrall didn’t know that naming a city Kargath might be a bad idea as Kargath Bladefist was leading the Fel Horde. Oops.
While there are still some fel orcs in Outlands, for the most part they are a relic of the past. The Burning Legion could always create more, however, as it appears that drinking the blood of a significantly powerful pit lord will do it. It is also possible that demonic essence is all you need. Blood Elves were transformed into Fel Elves by drinking the magical essence from doom guards given to them by the Burning Legion. We will just have to wait and see what exactly is required. Of course, when the fel curse wears off, you get green orcs.
Ah yes, the most common type of orc. Most of the orcs you see in game today are the green orcs. After losing the blood of Manneroth effect at the end of the Second War, the orcs left in Azeroth became green orcs. It also appears that their children are green orcs, too. At first, the effect on the orcs was to cause them to become lethargic and listless without the ability to run rampant. Thrall fixed this by creating a new, shaman-themed Horde. Also, he freed them from slavery and earned them an entire country. Still, being a shaman, Thrall would like you to believe that it wasn’t the influx of new jobs or lack of slavery, but his amazing shamanistic skills that brought about the new Horde. Of course, he didn’t bring all of the clans under his control.
In addition to the fel orcs in Outlands, the rightful heirs of the Horde and their Warcraft 2 allies — Forest Trolls and Ogres — continued to wage war against the humans from Blackrock spire. In a little bit of retcon, Rend is in charge of this Horde. In the old days, the Horde player get a quest to kill Rend so there is only “one, true Horde.” The Dragonmaw Orcs are also leading their own campaign against the dwarves in the Wetlands, but as far as I can tell they are currently unaffiliated. The Dragonmaw orcs in Outlands, however, joined the Fel Horde.
There are two clans which are not quite clans but are also worth mentiong. The Twilight’s Hammer was an “orc clan” that was ruled by the ogre Cho’gall. They were manaics and determined to end the world, but Cho’gall was fiercely loyal to Gul’dan. After they were nearly wiped out by Rend and Maim’s Blacktooth Grin clan for betraying the Horde in the second war to seek out the Tomb of Sargeras, they went into hiding. Cho’gall will return in Cataclysm as a major player, and is also in the WoW Comic Books. I warn you now, if you loved Cho’gall from Warcraft 2 you are going to cry a little when you see him in the comic books. The Twilight’s Hammer always allowed non-orcs inside its ranks, but after nearly being wiped out they allowed any and everyone to join them. The Old Gods share a similar agenda, and now you see the Twilight’s Hammer clan working almost exclusively for the Old Gods. Gul’dan, as mentioned earlier, was in charge of the Stormreaver Clan and also the Shadow Council. While the Stormreaver Clan is basically one guy sitting outside the Tomb of Sargeras talking to himself now, the Shadow Council remains as one of the major Burning Legion agents. Whenever you find the Cult of the Dark Strand or Burning Blade or any other obvious group of warlocks, be prepared for the last quest to reveal that they were simply a faction of the Shadow Council. Surprise! I cannot wait for us to find a new group of Scarlet Crusaders with warlocks who turn out to secretly be the Shadow Council led by a dreadlord. While I’m not in the Cataclysm beta, we’ll just call that “spoilers” as it’s bound to happen sooner or later.
Kvn’s List of Awesome Orcs
While I could list every clan chieftan or minor orc who shows up, these are the list of orcs who matter to me. Also included is why they matter. I know you can make an argument for many orcs, but these seem to remain relevant to me even today. If you want to list someone like Eltrigg and why he matters, just use the comments below.
Rend and Maim I know, why list two people? Well, Rend and Maim are twins and inseparable, except by retcon. Blackhand was the Warchief, but was being manipulated by Gul’dan in Warcraft 1. Ogrim Doomhammer, before Warcraft 2 began, killed Blackhand and put himself in charge as Warchief. When he did this, he kept Rend and Maim on a short leash. They were co-leaders of the Blacktooth Grin clan, and worked hard to keep from meeting their father’s fate. They were responsible for hunting down and killing the Stormreaver and Twilight’s Hammer clan. What happened to them after that is a mystery.
Version one of the story has them both returning to Draenor and becoming leaders of the Fel Horde under Magtheridon. In The Frozen Throne you face them down with the combined armies of demon hunters, blood elves, naga, and draenei inside the Black Temple before you are allowed to kill Magtheridon. In World of Warcraft, they act as though Rend was always in Blackrock Spire and there’s a throwaway line in WoW or the RPG that says Maim died and Rend mourned him. Assuming the World of Warcraft version is correct, Rend and the “Old Horde” are under control of the Black Dragonflight. In World of Warcraft Vanilla, they are locked in a constant war with Ragnaros, the Twilight’s Hammer, and the Dark Iron Dwarves. With the combination of the Twilight’s Hammer with the Black Dragonflight, it’s unclear what is happening with Rend and the Old Horde. As it appears Cataclysm is having the Dragonmaw clan join with Thrall’s Horde, it will be interesting to see what happens to Rend. The Blackrock orcs, while they appear dark grey, are technically “green” orcs.
Garona the Half-Orc was a pawn of the Shadow Council. Originally, she was the offspring of an orc raider who went across the Dark Portal and a human. This only worked when the portal had been open for 15-20 years before the orcs launched their offensive. When it was changed to only be 1 year, it no longer made sense for Garona to be part human, and she was made half-draenei instead. Garona spent some time at Karazhan speaking with Medihv, the mage who opened the Dark Portal. According to the novels, she joined the Alliance task force that assassinated Medihv, also. Having earned their trust, she went and assassinated King Llane, which more-or-less brought an end to the Kingdom of Stormwind at that time as Blackhand invaded and levelled Stormwind Keep. At this point, she disappeared. The comic books series goes on to explain that she was secretly pregnant with Medihv’s child, who would be orc, draenei, and human. And possibly titan, since Medihv was possessed by a dark titan when he supposedly had crazy sex with Garona. This whole concept is pretty awkward, and the child ends up being called all sorts of things by “fans” of the comic series, most of them unpleasant. Of course, this isn’t what Metzen intended.
Metzen, when asked, talked about how Garona was intended to be a character just as important as Thrall for Warcraft 3 but they didn’t have room to add her. He said that she is one of her favorite characters, and he always thought of her as a future love interest of Thrall. He went so far to say that if Thrall was the “father” of the current Horde, Garona was the “mother.” I really like this idea of Thrall, and can only hope that he wrests control of one of his favorite characters from the comic creators.
Saurfang There are two Saurfangs: Senior and Junior. Senior was an incredible orc warrior and later friend of Thrall who is a major player in the new Horde. He received a bit of a reputation among players because he could handle entire Alliance raids upon the city if they came close enough to aggro him. He would later go on to help the war effort in Northrend against the Scourge. His son was too young to drink the blood and became one of the Mag’har. He became disgusted with Garrosh’s apathy, and after being ambushed by ogres he went into a blind rage and killed everyone. He later seeks revenge upon the Murkblood draenei, and goes off to seek answers. His father puts him in charge of the war effort at the Wrathgate, where Arthas kills him and steals his soul with Frostmourne. He later is raised as a Death Knight and serves as a boss under the name Deathbringer Saurfang. His father leads the Horde’s invasion of the Citadel. As Alliance, when you kill his son, Saurfang the Elder shows up. Muradin at first refuses to let him in, but King Varian Wrynn arrives and tells Saurfang that he has heard of his son’s bravery at the Wrathgate and it would be his honor to allow him to take his son’s body. Saurfang says he is taking his son back to Nagrand to the graves of his ancestors in Nagrand.
Ner’zhul is the orc that began it all. As explained above, he was in charge until his apprentice, Gul’dan, took over. He realized what was going to happen to his people if they continued consorting with demons and repented. Later, when things went horribly awry in Warcraft 2 and the Dark Portal was destroyed, he takes over the Horde again. He has them retrieve artifacts to try to open portals to new worlds to save the orcs, but it ends up tearing apart Draenor and turning it into the Outlands it is today. His trademark is that, after his wife’s death, he painted his face with a skull. If you see an orc that is incredibly badass-looking, you’ve just seen Ner’zhul. For a quick glance at him, check out the Black Temple Gameplay Trailer from the official site’s movies section. “Even as the orcs’ reckless sorcery tore the planet apart” is the line that appears about 40% of the way through and shows Ner’zhul rendered in the WoW engine. After stealing the necessary artifacts to steal his people, the Burning Legion ambush him as he goes through the portal. They tear apart his soul, and eventually freeze what is left of his spirit in ice taken from the Twisting Nether. He is then thrown to Northrend where he becomes the Lich King. The rest of his story will be covered in a future article about the Scourge, but as most people remember from Warcraft 3 h3 guides Arthas into betraying the Burning Legion to liberate the Scourge from their control. In WoW, the only reference to Ner’zhul we really get is when the Alliance forces in the Howling Fjord attempt to use Shamanism to spy on the Vrykul. The Lich King appears for a second and says “You forget. I, too, used to be a shaman.” and then makes the player explode. Sadly, in Wrath of the Lich King this character is otherwise forgotten. He also makes an appearance in the novel Arthas.
Ogrim Doomhammer became warchief by killing Blackhand at the end of Warcraft 1 and start of Warcraft 2. Gul’dan was in a coma from having been inside Medihv’s mind when he was killed, and Ogrim Doomhammer was much smarter than Blackhand. He had not partaken of the Blood of Manneroth, suspecting treachery from it. While the Horde ultimately lost the Second War, Ogrim Doomhammer still did an amazing job. According to the Alliance, Doomhammer ambushed and killed Lord Lothar, champion of the Alliance. According to the Horde, they fought in honorable combat outside of Blackrock Spire until Doomhammer killed him. Ogrim received the Doomhammer from his father. Depending on what you read, Ogrim was part of the Thunderlord Clan, too, though that makes no sense. Doomhammer brought the Forest Trolls and Goblins under the Horde’s control, and together they razed Dalaran and Quel’thelas before he was finally captured. He escaped easily, wandered the land, and eventually met Thrall and fought him. Thrall won, they went and liberated the orcs from their slave camps, and a lucky shot stabbed Ogrim in the back and he handed the Horde over to Thrall with his dying breath. In return, Thrall engraved a frost wolf on the Doomhammer and named several things after him. Orgrimmar, the Ogrim’s Hammer airship, and Hammerfall are all named after him.
Teron Gorefiend was an amazing warlock during Warcraft 1. When Ogrim Doomhammer had the warlocks killed, Gul’dan took their souls and put them into some slain Knights of the Silver Hand to create the original Death Knights. Teron continued to serve the Horde after Gul’dans betrayal, and wore a trademarked banana-yellow cloak and hood throughout Warcraft 2. Think April O’neal, but instead of reporting news and talking to ninja turtles he was DEATH INCARNATE. He aided Ner’zhul in opening the portals, but met his fate in Shadowmoon Valley before going through the portals. Ultimately the player is able to free him from his bonds in a quest series in Shadowmoon Valley by gathering his items of power and allowing him to take over your body to destroy his jailors. For no plot-related reason he showed up as a boss in Black Temple. Thankfully, he was awesome enough that this did not significantly hurt his coolness factor.