- "In the time before time, when the world was still in its infancy, a battle between a Titan and a being of unimaginable evil and power raged on this very soil. The prophecy is unclear about whether or not the Titan was vanquished ... but it illustrates that a Titan fell."
- —Geologist Larksbane
The Old Gods (a.k.a. the Old Whisperings, the Elder Gods, the Old Lords or the Dread Elders) are mysterious, godlike and greatly malefic horrors which ruled in tyranny over the infant universe before they were defeated and sequestered within the primordial world of Azeroth by the Titanic Pantheon. Only very few mortals have ever been aware of the Old Gods' existence. Fewer still considered them anything more than ominous myths from a time before time began; the rumor of a dread and ancient past that should forever stay forgotten to the mortal races.
The Ordering of Azeroth
None now remember how Azeroth came to be, yet legends persist that the Titans traveled to the newly formed world--shaping the land and first seeding it with life. Beings as the Earthen were then created by the Pantheon to complete the mighty works the Titans had begun, and to prepare Azeroth for the time when it would give birth to the first mortal creatures. After the Titans had departed from Azeroth however, a great calamity befell the young world. From the endless void of the universe, unspeakable terrors known only as Old Gods came. The world buckled to its foundation under dire power unimaginable, and the elements were thrown into such great disorder that Azeroth degenerated back to a state of primordial chaos, atrophy and destruction; a world where no life could ever form or exist.
The creations of the Titans too were subjugated by the Old Gods, becoming afflicted with the Curse of Flesh. The elements that comprised the world had become as the dark pawns of the Old Gods, and the Titans' creations had either been destroyed or were suffering a far worse fate. When the Titans discovered what transpired upon their youngest seedling, they made their return. The Pantheon struck down the four Elemental Lords who were devastating the world and shattered the Old Gods' citadels, which caused the greatest battle Azeroth would ever know to erupt. One by one, the Old Gods were defeated and sequestered, but from this great siege between the gods, the rumor of a Titan having fallen echoes across the ages.
The Curse of Flesh had grown so malign, however, that it had symbiotically bound the infant world to the Old Gods, and their destruction would have ensured the annihilation of Azeroth. Instead, the Pantheon neutralized the power of the Old Gods, and sealed the entities away within the deeps of the world for the remainder of its existence. After the Old Gods were contained and their elemental servants banished, the spirits of the elements again settled into balance, and Azeroth's ability to birth and sustain life returned. The Titans reseeded the world, re-created the Earthen and empowered defensive measures, such as the Titanic watchers and the Dragon Aspects. They then departed from the world anew, leaving Azeroth to once again await the awakening of the first mortal beings.
In the novel The Sundering, it is hinted that the Old Gods are more powerful than the Titans, including even Sargeras. It is said that they are extremely powerful and that the combined might of many Titans are required to subdue them. It is also stated that if they are freed, even Sargeras will plead for peace of death. This is further supported by their statement that little effort is needed to destroy Sargeras and turn his Burning Legion into their minions.
Whispers of the Old Gods
Since the dawn of life on Azeroth, the imprisoned and sleeping Old Gods have been whispering to the subconsciousness of mortal and eternal beings alike, subverting their thoughts and feelings, and sometimes driving them to great malice, complete insanity, or both. The most notorious and tragic victim of the Old Whisperings is Neltharion the Earth-Warder; the once mighty Dragon Aspect who had been empowered by the Titan Khaz'goroth with dominion over the deep places of the world. Yet, not even Neltharion's great wisdom and power proved capable of breaking the grip the Old Whisperings had on his mind, causing the Earth-Warder to eventually lose all his sanity. Neltharion renamed himself Deathwing, seeking the genocide of all non-draconic life on Azeroth as well as the enslavement of the other dragonflights.
Malfurion Stormrage and Varo'then momentarily heard the Whisperings when they held the Demon Soul within their grasp. Malfurion has since stated that "Ysera's noble brood has fallen victim to the Old Whisperings", as well. The Highborne Queen Azshara is said to have heard the Whisperings moments before what would have been her death, causing her and her Highborne people to transform into the monstrous Naga-- an offer they either accepted willingly to avoid their fate or which has been coerced on them. The remainder of her surviving Highborne who made landfall in the Tirisfal Glades are rumored to have succumbed to insanity after hearing these same Whisperings.
The most striking historic account of the Old Whisperings however is found within the ancient scrolls of lore of the Tauren, located in their capital city of Thunder Bluff at Elder Rise. The legend of creation of the formerly nomadic Tauren tribes makes a direct reference to the Whisperings, stating that the first incidents of Tauren committing acts of deceit, murder or warfare were because their early brethren "harkened to the dark whispers from deep beneath the world."
The War of the Ancients
During the War of the Ancients they corrupted the great benevolent Dragon Aspect Neltharion, to create for them the extremely powerful Demon Soul which they empowered as well, to have Sargeras use to unintentionally set them free. The Demon Soul was taken from Neltharion by Malfurion, then taken from him by Illidan and put in the Sargeras-summoning matrix, then taken back by Neltharion, who shortly thereafter was struck away by the Old Gods, who wished to have the summoning completed. Malfurion picked up the Demon Soul after Neltharion dropped it, and used it (in conjunction with Illidan) to prevent Sargeras' entry. It was then given to the dragons, stolen by Nekros ten-thousand years later, taken back by the dragons, and then destroyed.
10,000 years later the Old Gods invaded Nozdormu's realm and managed to open a rift in time, that, as they had planned, tossed some beings back through time, beings that would change the way the war of the ancients took place, and give Sargeras a new chance to enter the world, and therefore give them a new chance to set themselves free. Their plans were although again crushed by the very same Malfurion Stormrage.
The Blackfathom Deeps in Ashenvale was once, long ago, a temple to Elune. The Great Sundering ruined the temple and left it submerged in water and buried under rock. Corruption from the Old Gods seeped up and tainted the sacred moonwell. One may be in the Blackfathom Deeps. Hints that old gods lie in or under the Blackfathom Deeps. Not to be confused with Aku'mai who was only influenced by the powers of the Old Gods.
Some time between the Third War and the re-opening of the Dark Portal, C'thun awoke completely and was able to physically return to Azeroth in the ruins of Ahn'Qiraj. Packs of brave heroes marshalled outside the great Qiraji gates, tore them down and slew the old god.
At some point during his stewardship of Ulduar, Loken came under the sway of Yogg-Saron imprisoned within and eventually betrayed both the Pantheon and his own brother, Thorim. He resides in Ulduar's Halls of Lightning, seeking to free Yogg-Saron completely and bring down the Pantheon. During the crusade against the Lich King in Northrend this came to the attention of the Kirin Tor, who recruited adventurers from the Alliance and the Horde to lay siege to Ulduar. They were victorious and Yogg-Saron was defeated.
According to Malfurion Stormrage, one of the Old Gods is behind the Nightmare corrupting the Emerald Dream. Although the Nightmare Lord in the dream turned out to be the Satyr Lord Xavius, it is suspected that he was working for higher powers. This seems to be confirmed in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm later on (see N'Zoth).
The Old Gods are characterized as the sleeping evil beneath the earth, whose telepathic whispers eventually become indistinguishable from one's own maddened thoughts. Beyond the things attributed to the Old Gods as a whole, individual Old Gods share some common factors between them. Both C'Thun and Yogg-Saron are fought with a section of their bodies sticking out of the ground in the center of a room, with an unknown amount of their forms remaining invisible below. They both appear to have countless tentacles below ground, which can come to the surface to aid in combat. The battles with both Old Gods call for damage to be done to something within each Old God's submerged form to weaken or remove a shield: Killing a Flesh Tentacle in the Stomach of C'Thun and weakening the Brain of Yogg-Saron in the Mind's Eye (which may or may not represent physical places within the two Gods).
The avatars of C'Thun and Yogg-Saron, the qiraji and faceless ones respectively, are similar in a few ways. Faceless ones have similar posture and shape to qiraji gladiators (Which may be due to recycling of wireframes, to some extent). Also, both groups have a general with vaguely similar names, General Rajaxx and General Vezax, and a religious leader, The Prophet Skeram and Herald Volazj (Harbinger Skyriss too, but his affiliation is unknown).
The Number of Old Gods
Depending on the source, three, four, or five Old Gods lie imprisoned. Some of these sources seem to imply that these numbers were the limit to the number of Old Gods. The roleplaying game seems to imply that there were more than five Old Gods, including those imprisoned or killed.
- The Warcraft III manual states that five Old Gods were chained beneath the world.
- The Pantheon shattered the Old Gods' citadels and chained the five evil gods far beneath the surface of the world. Source: 
- According to the War of the Ancients Trilogy, there are three Old Gods still living, imprisoned and chained by the Titans deep beneath the surface of Azeroth. There may be more however, these three are indicated to have formed some sort of alliance in order to escape their imprisonment.
- According to "The Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth", four Old Gods were imprisoned beneath the world. This could perhaps be reconciled with the War of the Ancients trilogy if it were taken to include the fallen C'Thun in the count of the imprisoned Gods. This is however unlikely as C'thun was believed dead and not imprisoned. Note that the version of this chapter presented in the story section of the official site does not reference the number of Old Gods.
- "There are more Old Gods than just the ones trapped on Azeroth. It takes a lot for them to become manifested on a physical plane, however."
In the Burning Crusade expansion, a group of Arakkoa known as the Dark Conclave attempted to summon an entity described as an "ancient and powerful evil" into Outland. It is nearly identical in appearance to the first named Old God, C'Thun.
Named Old Gods
- Main article: C'Thun
C'Thun was the first of the three Old Gods to be named so far, having received that name from its creations; the Qiraji. C'Thun was struck down in Silithus during the dawning of the world, in a battle which may have also resulted in the defeat of a Titan. C'Thun was believed to have been slain permanently, but the Old God resurfaced over the course of history as the driving force behind the Qiraji. It is trapped deep beneath the ruined temples of Ahn'Qiraj, where it has exerted its will for thousands of years over its Qiraji avatars, who in turn command the Silithid swarm.
C'Thun is the final boss in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj.
- Main article: Yogg-Saron
Described by the demigod Ursoc as "the beast with a thousand maws", Yogg-Saron is only the second Old God to be explicitly named as such. The dire entity refers to itself in ways as "the lucid dream", "the god of death" or "the true face of death", and appears to secrete a substance named Saronite across Northrend which is capable of driving any that have been exposed to it to murderous insanity. Saronite is the dried blood of Yogg-Saron, which the mortal races eventually fashion into armor. Slinkin the Demo-gnome discovered shortly before his demise that a mysterious connection seems to exist between the Old God Yogg-Saron and the undead Scourge. In his final note, he claims to have overheard some undead uttering the name "Yogg-Saron" with a tone of tremendous hatred and contempt, and that this was usually followed by outbursts of rage from other undead. Yet, the Scourge appear to be mining for Saronite on an industrial scale.
Yogg-Saron's underground prison extends through much of east-central Northrend; his influence has been felt directly in the Grizzly Hills (Vordrassil, the Grizzlemaw Furbolgs and Ursoc), Dragonblight (Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom, with faceless ones and a sect of the Twilight's Hammer dedicated to Yogg-Saron) and the Storm Peaks (Ulduar, and the corrupted Titanic guardian Loken). The Old God is located within his prison deep inside Ulduar, and is the final boss of the raid instance, much as C'Thun was the final boss in Ahn'Qiraj.
- Main article: N'Zoth
The third named Old God, N'Zoth, will appear in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (see also the 'Cataclysm' section of this page).
Until recently, only little was known about the Old Gods and their maddened worshippers--practically none on Azeroth were truly aware of the existence of the Old Gods until C'Thun made its ominous presence clearly felt within the depths of Ahn'Qiraj. It is self-evident however the Old Gods possess worshippers across all the world's peoples and cultures somehow. The Old Gods are imprisoned and asleep deep beneath the earth, but their power is so vast that their maddening, destructive taints seep from their prisons and appear to tear at the sanity of unknown numbers of Azeroth's inhabitants. To what extent sentient creatures can fall under the influence of the Old Gods in this manner is not well understood, but those who hear the Old Whisperings most clearly have joined together in a coalition that is known as the Twilight's Hammer. Many among these cultists and followers have lost every ounce of their sanity and have become completely unpredictable and malefic, and, sometimes, things which are much worse. Through the leadership of the ogre-mage Cho'gall, a powerful servant of C'Thun, the Twilight's Hammer has in recent times become the focal point for mortal worship of the Old Gods, and the cult's influence has since begun to increase alarmingly. Former members of both Alliance and Horde inexplicably flock to join in service and seek to assist in bringing about the final hour of mortal existence on Azeroth. Large groups of the Twilight's Hammer have been observed to settle at or near sites where they believe the Old Gods or their minions are sealed away; many await C'Thun's awakening in Silithus, while others appear to serve Ragnaros in the Blackrock Depths alongside the Dark Iron dwarves. The largest concentrations of the Twilight's Hammer however are located at Grim Batol and the Bastion of Twilight, within a region of the Eastern Kingdoms that is now referred to as the Twilight Highlands.
In some cases, evil but still sane individuals deliberately attempt to turn to worship of the Old Gods out of spite, when they feel that other, more mainstream powers have mistreated them. Anarchists also sometimes turn to worship of the Old Gods out of a desire to destroy the world; some believe a new, better world will rise up in the wake of the destruction. In either case, these individuals are deluded or misinformed and any who do manage to make even the barest real contact with the Old Gods go hopelessly and irrevocably insane.
C'Thun created avatars from the silithid in its own image. These avatars, known as the qiraji, represent dark and powerful mockeries of life and have served as the Old God's heralds for millenia. Likewise, Yogg-Saron is associated with the entities known only as faceless ones, which appear to serve the Old God as its heralds and avatars as well.
Queen Azshara and the bulk of her Highborne people seem to have struck a pact with, or have fallen to, the power of the Old Gods, and have since become the monstrous naga. The naga have been seen in the presence of faceless ones in regions such as Vashj'ir, suggesting that the darkest fears about the change which overcame Azshara and many of the Highborne indeed hold true.
In CataclysmThis section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, players who decide to quest in Vashj'ir, will first sail on a ship that will be destroyed by mysterious giant tentacles. There will also be strange tentacles in dark pools in the naga area on the Lost Isles. It appears that Stonetalon Peak is being attacked by an Old God or some of its minions. In Twilight Highlands, a minion of the Old Gods - Iso'rath can be found.
In Blizzcon 2010's Quests and Lore panel, Chris Metzen revealed that the third named Old God, which is to be revealed in Cataclysm, would be called N'Zath (though this maybe just how people heard the name as later references call this entity N'Zoth). It was mentioned that he may be the mastermind behind the corruption of the Emerald Dream. Metzen also implied that this Old God may be the one "signing Deathwing's cheques".
Whispers to Neltharion
- Main article: Deathwing
- "The night elves will destroy the world..."
- "The Well is out of control..."
- "No one can be trusted... they want your secrets, your power..."
- "Malygos would take what is yours..."
- "Alexstrasza seeks dominion over you..."
- "They are no better than the demons..."
- "They must be dealt with like the demons..."
Whispers to Azshara
- Main article: Queen Azshara
- "There is a way... there is a way..."
- "You will become more than you ever were... more than you ever were..."
- "We can help... we can help..."
- "You will be more than you have ever been... and when the time comes, for what we grant you... you will serve us well..."
The names and overall nature of the Old Gods are an homage to the various group of deities from the Cthulhu Mythos in the works of H.P. Lovecraft (first stage), Brian Lumley (third stage), and the Call of Cthulhu RPG. C'Thun appears to be based on Cthulhu and Yogg-Saron appears to be based on the Outer God Yog-Sothoth. Furthermore, the story which concerns the Titans' imprisoning of the Old Gods is an inspiration from the story August Derleth proposed as the ancient outcome of the war between the Elder Gods (represented in the Titans) and the Outer Gods (represented in the Old Gods). Interestingly, the origin of the Titans is alien to Azeroth, while the Old Gods are native to it, swapping the names and some facts. An alternative name of the Old Gods is the Elder Gods.
- ^ a b Waking Legends, WoW. Blizzard Entertainment. Malfurion:
"Ysera's noble brood has fallen victim to the old whisperings.".
- ^ The Master's Glaive, WoW. Blizzard Entertainment. Onu:
"That cult worships the old, old lords of the earth. Lords defeated long ago.".
- ^ Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 155
- ^ a b The Sundering, 157
- ^ The Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth. Retrieved on 2007-12-06.
- ^ The Founding of Quel'Thalas. Retrieved on 2007-12-06.
- ^ Knaak, Richard A.. The Sundering. ISBN 978-0-7434-2898-9.
- ^ WoW. Blizzard Entertainment. Elder Bluff. Scrolls of Lore:
"As the children of the earth roamed the fields of dawn, they hearkened to dark whispers from the deep beneath the world.".
- ^ Dark Factions, 164
- ^ Lands of Mystery, 8
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, 169
- ^ History of Azeroth
- ^ Warcraft Lore FAQ 1
- ^ http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/info/story/chapter1.html#3
- ^ World of Warcraft Forums - Ask CDev #1 Answers. Retrieved on 2010-06-30.
- ^ [60R]
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, 169
- The Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth
- Tribunal of Ages
- Lorgalis Manuscript
- Prophecy of C'Thun
- Forgotten one
- Faceless one
- Elemental Lieutenants
- Old Gods speculation
- Twilight's Hammer clan