Countless millenia ago before the world was shaped, Azeroth was ruled by the Old Gods and their mighty armies of elementals. They were five in number and between them they could command just about every aspect of their environment. But when the Titans arrived they resisted. Two were killed in battle, but the rest survived and were imprisoned deep beneath the ground. Of them two later escaped.
However their four greatest lieutenants, witnessing the destruction of their armies, escaped to the mysterious Elemental Plane to rebuild and recover. Ragnaros the Firelord, Therazane the Stonemother, Al'Akir the Windlord and Neptulon the Tidehunter are no longer under the command of their masters and now wage war against one another from their domains in the Plane. Ragnaros and Neptulon were later released back into Azeroth, but Therazane and Al'Akir are still trying to blast one another out of existance.
New Hero class - RunemasterEdit
Sixty thousand years ago, when the Titans left Azeroth to its own devices, they taught their earthen creations all the secrets of runic magic. The Runemasters prospered on the young world, using their great powers to help shape the deep places and to defend their people when external forces threatened them. But in secret the Pantheon buried a massive stone tablet deep beneath their city of Uldum. On it was inscribed everything that future races might need to know, from advice about how best to search for rare ores to the blueprints for a prototype Dimensional Ship. Among these gifts of knowledge was the secret of runemastery, so that even if the earthen forgot the art it would still live on and one day be rediscovered by others.
This was just as well, because fifty thousand years later just about all the Runemasters were wiped out during the War of the Ancients. A few managed to escape and fled back to their home in Uldaman, but then in the aftermath of the Sundering that followed they, along with all the other earthen, were sent into deep hibernation. When they awoke again the Runemasters had changed into dwarves, forgetting the art in the process. And there the final legacy of the Titans might have been lost forever.
But then, five hundred years before the opening of the Dark Portal, a lone tauren shaman stumbled across a cracked stone tablet in the middle of the Tanaris desert. It was badly worn, and a large part of it was missing, but enough remained to show the shaman that here was the thing that might change the fortunes of the tauren forever. He took it back to his tribe roaming in the Barrens, and then after hearing the legends of the stone creatures who would mark their skin to grant themselves fearsome powers, decided to take up that path once more. For many long years he pored over the ancient text, uncovering all the details of runemastery that he could find, and eventually succeeded in replicating one of the old runes on his own body.
After that runemastery became spread rapidly amongst the tauren youth. They used it to deadly effect against the marauding centaur clans, managing to help their people survive for much longer than they could have done without. In fact, it managed to prolong the lifespan of the tauren species for more than half a millenium, long enough for the orcs to arrive and crush the centaur threat for a very long time. Before long many other races followed the orcs, including the dwarves - descendants of the first Runemasters. When the dwarves landed on the shores of Kalimdor they were amazed to see the bull-men wielding those powers that they themselves had though lost, and many immediately asked to be apprenticed to tauren Runemasters.
The patterns that make up rune patterns are not simply arcane scribblings, each is the two-dimensional representation of a place in the world that some runecaster has had the opportunity to study. By discovering the precise layout of the ley lines in a place of power, the nature of that place can be recreated: The ley lines of a scorching desert rendered into a rune might create effects of burning destruction, while those of a deep swampland might perhaps create runes of rot or decay. For more information see Rune magic.
Runes come in three types:
Spontaneous runes are created when the rune-caster doesn’t have the time to properly scribe a rune on a surface (in combat, for instance). All rune-casters keep small pieces of wood or stone upon which they scribe the runes they know. These small plaques cost almost nothing to create, and most rune-casters create them in their spare time, storing them with their material components. When casting a rune, the rune-caster touches one of these runestones or runesticks to the target and channels the power through the rune. The rune fades from the runestone and appears on the target, appearing to be burned onto non-living objects or etched in glowing lines onto the flesh of creatures. While the quickest form of rune-making possible, spontaneous runes are also the most fragile. Casting a spontaneous rune, unlike other runes, is only a one-step process: Placing the rune on the target and empowering it occur at the same time.
Scribed runes represent the preferred method of creating runes. Using a set of special paints, the runecaster can create a lasting rune. Because the rune exists upon the subject, none of the spell’s energy need be wasted in creating the rune, as is done with spontaneous runes. The benefit of a scribed rune is that it is more difficult to destroy and dispel than a spontaneous rune, and the range is usually longer. Placing a scribed rune upon the body of a creature requires that the creature be willing or helpless, while placing such a rune upon an object requires that the rune-caster handles the object. Scribed runes last for number of days depending on the skill of the caster, or until empowered. After the rune’s empowerment ends, the rune fades away.
Permanent runes are runes that, once created, are nearly impossible to destroy, for their magic is such that even with the passage of time, the rune remains. Living flesh must be tattooed with the marks (though some orc runemasters are said to practice a form of ritual branding). Most nonliving material is etched with a ritual stylus or set of special chisels. The rune-caster must also place a small part of his own spirit into the rune. The benefit of a permanent rune is that it is more difficult to destroy than a spontaneous rune. Thus, when the magic empowering the rune fades (i.e., its duration expires), the rune still exists on the target, and the runecaster can empower it again. Placing a permanent rune upon the body of a creature requires that the creature be willing or helpless, while placing such a rune upon an object requires that the rune-caster handles the object.
Scribed runes have already appeared in the form of Glyphs from the Inscription profession. Spontaneous runes can be crafted by a Runemaster and traded with other players, and each one when used gives a 30-minute buff. Permanent runes on the other hand are limited to Runemasters, and involve placing runes on the casters body. Although they are very difficult to destroy they can be removed by the Runemaster if he/she so desires. For this reason most use their runes in place of armour. Once a rune is learned it can be written out and transferred onto the body, afterwards being empowered to give the runes their power. It can go in any armour slot, but can only be used once. If removed or replaced by another the rune is destroyed and must be crafted again.
Of course, Runemasters can also use normal cloth armour, but this severely disadvantages him since he is no longer able to use many abilities. In addition the runes themselves give all the stats that are required, as well as a number of useful effects, so there is no need for regular equipment other than weapons. Any melee weapon other than daggers and polearms can be used, but no ranged weapons.
The Elemental PlaneEdit
The Elemental Plane is divided into four, one for each of the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Each is ruled by the lord of that element, so Therazane rules Deephome, Al'Akir rules Skywall, Ragnaros ruled the Firelands and Neptulon ruled the Abyssal Maw. Additionally on part of the surface of the Abyssal Maw there is a vast ice sheet known as Frostlands, which is currently contended and inhabited by icy conglomerates.
Access is reached through Uldum, the first of the three greatest Titan cities on Azeroth. For tens of thousands of years the giants and earthen dwelling within stayed true to their task - experimentation involving new forms of life in Un'Goro Crate, and also keeping a watch upon Silithus, where one of the greatest Old Gods had been defeated. However when the Sundering hit Kalimdor, Uldum was partially ruined, the earthen sent into deep hibernation, and the surviving giants forced out. In the aftermath the tentacles of C'thun overran the city and the Old God used the Titan technology for his own purposes.
C'Thun has again been defeated and is for now no longer a threat, but his elemental minions and corrupted earthen continue to infest Uldum. They have been working on a portal to the Elemental Plane in an attempt to reassert control over the Elemental Lords and build up the armies of the Old Gods once more. Fortunately the portal is currently small enough to only allow things to pass through one at a time, but unless the original inhabitants can seize control it may not be long before it is completed and a war of cosmic proportions begins.
Traditionally this has been the least disturbed part of the entire Elemental Plane. Therazane the Stonemother is the only one of the four Elemental Lords who is kind and peaceful, and as a result does not take part in wanton destruction for her own pleasure. She is also the only one who is friendly to the player, offering several quests. The surface of Deephome is rough, covered with fissures and craters, and it regularly quivers with earthquakes. When the realm of fire beneath breaks through, massive volcanoes form, until Therazane’s earth elementals can put a halt to the incursion. Deephome is lined with caves, tunnels and endless passageways. Worms, burrowing animals and other subterranean creatures abound. Gems and jewels of all kinds, including those not known to Azeroth, can be found within, though they are considered the property of Therazane herself. No mining efforts are permitted in her realm. Some sages believe that a few of the precious stones possess strong innate magical powers, but the truth of this speculation may never be verified.
The surface of this land is not pleasant to live on, but hardy plants and animals do eke out an existence here. Life for them is short and vicious, but Therazane the Stonemother nurtures them when she can. Striking at those she considers her “children" is the quickest way to earn her enmity. In a few rare places, the surface of Deephome resembles a rocky, deserted section of Azeroth. Visitors to the Elemental Plane can find some measure of rest here, although the ground does shake and tremble with frightening regularity. Underground, travelers face not only quakes, but also cave-ins, rockslides and other dangers.
Deephome is also the place where the portal from Azeroth emerges.
The air above the middle tier of the Elemental Plane looks much like Azeroth’s sky at first glance. A yellow sun, immobile and persistent, hovers in the air, surrounded by drifting clouds and other, more violent storms. Birds and much stranger creatures flit about. Above the sun, invisible from the ground, lies the fortress of the air elementals. Thick stone walls, fashioned of rock stolen from the earth below, hang suspended by permanent cyclones in the shape of pillars. Lightning and strong winds constantly swirl about the Skywall, making natural flight in the vicinity all but impossible.
Thankfully above cloud level the air is much calmer, allowing for the use of flying mounts. In fact, flying is the only way to get around as any other way of transport would see the player falling to the ground thousands of feet below. Thankfully there is the occasional patch of solid rock torn up from Deephome and suspended by the powers of Al'Akir, and for short journeys where it would not be worth mounting a buff, "Breath of Wind", is on the player at all times while in the zone allowing them to fly while on foot.
Instance - Nimbus TowerEdit
This is the base of operations for Al'Akir and he can move it where he likes thanks to the winds which he controls. It is built upon a lump of rock stolen from Deephome, suspended by permanent cyclones and surrounded with thick stormclouds. Al'Akir himself likes to hide among these, watching over the Elemental Plane whilst being all but untouchable by his enemies. Once he realises that his fortress has been invaded he will even use the power of the storm to shake it, causing significant damage to anyone inside - both friend and foe - and throwing them all over the room, as well as interrupting any spells. As the raid progresses these movements get more and more violent. The only way to stop it is to lure Al'Akir onto the roof of the tower, and there try to destroy him.
The realm of fire and ash which lies deep beneath the surface. Until about 300 years ago Ragnaros ruled it with an iron fist, but when he was summoned by the Dark Irons a political vacuum was left. Today there are a number of lesser elemental princes continually struggling for supremacy. While they are busy fighting they do not pose much of a threat to anyone, but if one should defeat his rivals and unite the Firelands then that one will become an unstoppable force capable of boiling the Abbysal Maw dry, melting Deephome down into a sea of lava, and pumping poisonous fumes into the air to choke any life left. After that, looking for something else to burn, they will no doubt do their best to penetrate Azeroth.
The Seven FrontsEdit
There are seven lieutenants of Ragnaros, each striving to hold dominion over the others. Each one controls approximately one seventh of the Firelands, and it's at the very centre where all seven meet that the fiercest battles take place. While two of the princes are busy fighting one another a third might try to ambush them, and then a fourth could easily sneak round and take over lands while the others are distracted. For now it's better just to leave them be, so long as none gains an advantage over the others, which is ensured by the player in quests. However while this state of affairs continues there will be no help coming from Fire to combat the growing threat of Neptulon, so Therazane wishes for the conflict to end - whether by diplomacy or a more direct method.
Instance - Portal of FlamesEdit
Ragnaros was unwillingly pulled into Azeroth by the Dark Iron dwarves, so as revenge he enslaved them while he tries to seek a way back. His few remaining loyal elementals in the Plane have been investigating portal magic ever since he was first summoned, and at last they believe they have found a way to create a portal between planes. Recent experiments have managed to transfer a few unlucky Dark Irons, most of whom were "discarded" as soon as they were received, and Ragnaros has now ordered his last loyal lieutenant to begin enlarging the portal so that the Firelord can return to his home and reassert control over his realm.
All this sounds quite reasonable. A great evil would be banished from the world of Azeroth, along with many fire elementals and most of the conglomerates would lose part of their essence. In addition the remaining Dark Iron dwarves would lose quite a lot of the powers granted to them by Ragnaros, allowing the Alliance to focus on bigger threats. However the mortal shamans have spent time studying the Elemental Lords, particularly the formation of Blackrock Mountain, and have concluded that Ragnaros banished would cause an even greater catastrophe than Ragnaros summoned. The latter merely blasted apart a mountain range and turned the remains into a barren wasteland of fire and ash, while the former would do all that in reverse but on a much bigger scale. Preliminary conclusions suggest the collapse of the crust and the sinking of several continents.
So it's clear that it is in nobody's interest to let these plans go ahead. Fortunately a number of Dark Irons survived the experience of crossing over to the Firelands, and they too wish for Ragnaros to remain where he is. They are able to provide crucial information concerning the Portal of Flames, and will guide the player as they venture to destroy it.
After suffering defeat in the Great Sea (see Return of the Queen), Neptulon has returned to the Maw to recover his strength and build up his armies again. Before taking on Azeroth again he has resolved to first dominate the Elemental Plane as a secure base, and so has declared war on the other three elements. By this time Al'Akir and the lieutenants of Ragnaros have been defeated, allowing Therazane to take command of the resistance. Earth, air and fire have all formed a temporary coalition to combat the threat of water, and with legions of Pyroclastic Elementals as the heart of their army they now wait on the coast ready to do battle.
This is an undersea trench thousands of feet deep, reaching down far enough to touch the borders of the Firelands. It is also the site of one of the fiercest battles in the Abbysal War, with the water elementals boiled away in an instant and the fire elementals extinguished under the crushing pressure. But for now Neptulon is winning and it won't be long now before he breaks through the defence and goes on to drown the Firelands. In the form of a naga the player must venture down to the ocean floor and there fight back. Quests mostly involve defending against attacking forces, sabotaging macinery, and eventually leading a squadron into the field to deal death to the enemy. Eventually Neptulon himself appears in order to crush this minor irritant, and if he is defeated the battle is won.
Spires of AirEdit
At the coalition camp there are repeatable quests, gathering supplies so as to make preparations for war (See Gates of Ahn'Qiraj). Once enough are stockpiled they open up a second front, this time in the shallow waters just off the coast of Deephome. The battleground is in the midst of a small archipelago, where the tides form hundreds of whirlpools that will consume any who go near. Only water elementals are able to survive this doom, and this gives them a huge advantage over the coalition forces who must avoid the whirlpools at all costs. The quests are similar to those from Poseidal Trench, only more difficult. This time Neptulon sends Ahune to command instead. Once he is down the water elementals retreat, and the armies march on the stronghold of the Tidehunter.
The location of Neptulon's capital and the site of his last stand. A magical shield covers the entire valley to stop anyone going in or out, save for water elementals. This shield must first be breached using an enslaved water elemental, and then the city is besieged. Underwater siege weapons are used to break down the defences, and finally the palace itself is stormed, where you do battle with the Tidehunter to the death.
Ten thousand years ago Neltharion the Earthwarder was corrupted by the Old Gods and turned against his fellow dragons. With the power of his Dragon Soul he decimated the Blue Dragonflight, rained destruction down on demons and night elves alike, and proclaimed himself ruler of Azeroth. Ever since that fateful day his name has induced terror in young and old, his black dragons spreading death and destruction wherever they can, particularly among the other dragonflights whom they betrayed long ago. His original name now long forgotten, the Aspect of Earth is now known by a much better description - Deathwing.
For many years, however, he has not been seen by mortal eyes, and no-one knows what has happened to him ever since he was driven forth from Grim Batol by his fellow Aspects. Some speculate that he is dead, others that he was captured and now languishes in a dungeon somewhere deep underground. However the truth is that he hides in the caverns of his old stronghold at Grim Batol, nurturing a few precious Twilight Dragon eggs in the hope that they will develop into a new dragonflight that will sweep aside all opposition and bring to fruition his dreams of world domination.
Suspecting that some dark power still dwells within the broken halls, the reds have taken it upon theirselves to guard the gates and allow nothing to pass either way. But recently the nether drakes have issued forth to begin their invasion and slaughtered every last one of the guardians. It now falls upon brave adventurers to battle past and subdue Neltharion once and for all before the full invasion of Azeroth truly begins.