• March 30, 2023

There are new insights into the background story of WoW: Shadowlands! A few days ago, the editors of Lorekeeper, SA Gamer and Cybersport conducted an exciting interview with Steve Danuser, the Lead Narrative Designer of World of Warcraft. The conversation focused on the story of Maldraxxus and Draka's fate. In the interview, we also learn about what exactly happens to the souls in the Shadowlands and how important the afterlife is to the Warcraft universe.

Watch out! Spoilers follow!

Death in the Shadowlands and the horrors of necromancy

The souls of the Loa and the Wild Gods are connected to the Emerald Dream. However, they also possess a strong bond with the Forest of Arden. After death, their souls rest in the realm of the Winter Queen, whose servants prepare the animal spirits for rebirth. Source: Blizzard In the interview, Steve Danuser answered many general questions about death in WoW and what role the Shadowlands play in the cosmic fabric of the Warcraft universe. For example, Blizzard's developer confirmed that souls disappear entirely when they die in the Shadowlands. This topic is particularly complex because death is nothing really tangible, even in World of Warcraft (buy now € 14,99 ). What happens to the soul in the Shadowlands depends on its strength. Souls of strong personalities, for example, linger in the Shadowlands for a while, while weak minds perish immediately in the anima stream. This info is especially important because after the release of Afterlife: Ardenwald, we don't know if the mighty Ursoc died for good in the Great Drought or if there is still hope for the soul of the Wild God.

Undeath and the Forsaken are also an exciting topic. Danuser explained that the experience of death and the violent return as undead can completely change the personality of the revenant. This explains why the resurrected Night Elves in Battle for Azeroth turned their backs on the Alliance and joined the Banshee Queen. We don't know anything specific about the resurrection process yet. All we have learned through numerous dialogues from Warcraft 3 and WoW is that most souls torn from the Shadowlands by necromancy return confused and often without memories of their former lives. So it seems logical that they avoid the living (whom they consider monsters anyway) and join other undead at first.

The True Greatness of the Shadowlands

The Shadowlands are a domain that consists of countless small realms and the four large ones. In WoW: Shadowlands, we get to explore the four major realms of the dead for now: Bastion, Maldraxxus, Ardenwald and Revendreth. These areas are the focus of the story of the upcoming expansion, and this is where the main story takes place around the Eternals and the Dungeon Master. However, Danuser explained that there are many other small realms of the dead that are both idyllic and gloomy. If we understood the whole thing correctly, there are souls who can create their own little realms after they die, which exist in the Shadowlands independently of the four major realms. The said small realms are comparable to purgatory. Some souls later move on, while others are eternally trapped in their own little hell.

Another great mystery are the WoW characters from the alternate timelines. Draka is a good example at this point, after all we have seen different versions of her in recent years. There is Draka from the original timeline, who gave life to Thrall. In Warlords of Draenor, we met another Draka who had no children. According to the Bronze Dragonflight, there are many more versions of Draka in the Infinity of Time that have basically nothing to do with each other. Nevertheless, the fates of these characters are connected on a different level. At this point, Steve Danuser used an interesting metaphor. He compared the stories of these characters that coexist in the Warcraft universe to a rope. Each story is just one thread, which in turn winds around other threads to create a strand at the end. So you can look at these fates individually, but you can also tie them together to form an overall picture. Whether the whole thing makes sense is up to each person. The original wording of Steve Danuser on the subject of time travel and alternative worlds is as follows:

Question: We've done some stuff that's involved with time travel and alternate realities. What happens to those souls when they pass on? Do they go to the Shadowlands?

"This is a complicated question. How do you deal with things like alternate Draenor? There was a Draka there. What is that Draka? Is she alive? Is she dead? Is she related to the Draka in Shadowlands that we see? Or is there another Draka? We know that in Warlords of Draenor, Velen of that universe died. Does that mean there is a Velen in the Shadowlands? But what about the Velen in Azeroth? All these things are very complicated questions.

The way I would have you think about it is think of a rope... If you look at a rope, it is one thing, right? It's something that you can grab onto, you can hold it, you can see it; think of that as a character. Think of that rope as Draka or Velen.

If you look at that rope more closely, you can see there are different threads that make up the rope. There are different twines that pull together, and you can pull off one of these threads if you want. But it's still a rope, and each of those threads you can think of as one of the realities of the character, one of the streams of time... There is a thread that is the Draka from Draenor we visited in the Warlords of Draenor. There is another thread that is Draka on Azeroth as we know her... And there are many other threads that could be other realities that we never peered into. But all of those threads at some time come together to make that rope. And remember also that, as you'll see, that there are many characters in the Shadowlands when they refer to time, they usually say that time is not a construct of Death. Time and Death are not related. Death is about eternity, not linear time. The manner in which these threads come together, that can take a very long time from mortal perceptions. Those threads can be separated for a time, but sooner or later, they do combine to make one rope that is that character. You can think of it as the threads of that rope, all the individual threads, are just waiting. And over time, they will come together but they can exist as separate entities for a time. That still doesn't change the fact that they are part of one rope."

Shadowlands and the other domains

The Warcraft universe is divided into several large and small domains. The Shadowlands seem very small compared to the rest of the realms. Nevertheless, the Otherworld plays a major role in WoW. Source: Blizzard In the Warcraft Chronicles, in which Blizzard summarizes the most important WoW stories, there is a particularly exciting illustration that shows the structure of the universe. Well, in the picture we see a clear division into different domains, yet the role that the afterlife plays in WoW raises a lot of questions. For example, Steve talks about the fact that the other cosmic forces, such as the Light or the Void, were not separated for no reason. Creatures that originate from their respective domains return to their realms after they die. The best example is the Demons, who return to the chaos of the Whirling Nether after their defeat. If they die there, it is considered a final death. The same rule applies to the Naaru, who return to the Light after their death. It's not quite that simple, though, because there are countless exceptions in WoW's history. At this point, it seems to play a big role if and how strong the connection of the being is to the respective domain.

Danuser emphasized that the cosmic forces try to break the rules of the game and the boundaries seemingly imposed on them by the First Ones. For example, they can influence the fate of a hero and snatch them from death. This means that not all mortal creatures end up in the Shadowlands after their death. Some souls merge directly with the light or disappear into the void forever. So the perfect balance that the First Ones tried to achieve with their creation is only an illusion. If the machinery of death should be at the core of creation, then we are not surprised that different parties such as the Demons, the Light and the Void have it in for the Shadowlands.

Draka, Durotan and Thrall: Will the Orc family find each other again in WoW Shadowlands?

The fact that Draka plays the main role in Maldraxxus campaign was surprising for many players. Similarly unexpected was the fact that her companion Durotan and her son Thrall play no role at all in her new story. It's a good thing that Thrall is also in the Shadowlands, she can't suspect. Nevertheless, many WoW fans are currently discussing if and when Draka will be united with her son and why Durotan's soul disappeared while his wife ended up in Maldraxxus.

Steve Danuser first talked about Draka and Durotan's connection in the interview. He at least hinted that there is hope for the separated orc couple. Perhaps they will get back together when Maldraxxus and the Shadowlands are once again pacified. Here follows Steve's original quote:

"So, Draka and Durotan, obviously some point along the way, did get separated. Where did Durotan go? We don't know as of yet. Does Draka know? No, she doesn't really know. But those strands of rope I mentioned before, think of those as strands of fate. Different souls that have crossed over or intersected one another through life, I think there is probably something that draws them, that keeps some tether between them even in the afterlife [...].

So, don't give up hope that Draka and Durotan might be reunited someday. But right now Draka has a job to do and that is front and center in her mind in terms of what she needs to do in order to perhaps earn the respite that she's due and be able to visit the mortals she cared about so much in life."

Danuser also speculated about what happened to Durotan after his death. It seems that Durotan was better able to come to terms with his life than Draka. The uncertainty of whether her baby survived the attack or not upset Draka so much that she wanted to prove herself again in the afterlife. For this reason, the judge sent the orc to Maldraxxus. Durotan's soul, on the other hand, went directly to the eternal hunting grounds after death. This is what Steve says about Durotan's fate itself:

"You know, like Durotan: If everything went great for him, he's probably in this endless hunting ground where he has his wolves around him and he can just go out there, he doesn't have to worry about any dark forces wrecking his world. He can just enjoy that forever... And you know what, maybe Draka can someday fulfill her obligations and join him there. Who knows? We'll see..."

So the developer doesn't rule out that Draka will one day follow Durotan into the eternal hunting grounds. However, this assumes that she will fulfill her duties in Maldraxxus. Danuser also reveals that there will be a reunion between Draka and Thrall at a later point in Shadowlands. That's great news!

Question: Many players are waiting for Draka and Thrall to meet. How important will this event be, and how will this reunion be emotionally for both of them?

"I don't think a reunion like that could be emotionally easy on either part.

We saw Thrall go to this alternate Draenor and we got to see him interact with versions of his parents, but they weren't the same people. He got to pick up on a lot of their qualities and things like that. But there was probably still something within him where he knew that these weren't actually the people who bore him, who lost the chance to raise him and so forth.

But this Draka that is in Shadowlands IS that person as we saw in the Maldraxxus Afterlives short. She was the one who gave her life trying to defend that little baby. And again, if we think of threads of fate bonding characters together, those kinds of threads transcend mortal life, then there is definitely a thread between Thrall and Draka that needs to be resolved there. And that is definitely something that we plan for in the subsequent chapters of the Shadowlands. Right now, when you play through the storyline, obviously Thrall has been taken captive, he is in a bad place; we've got to resolve that. Draka has a lot going on in the Shadowlands that she needs to resolve immediately in terms of what's going on Maldraxxus. But there will definitely come a point where these paths are drawn back together, where they intersect. And I think that intersection will be a highly emotional moment for both of those characters and for the players who witness it. So that's definitely a story that we are looking forward to telling."

WoW: The second afterlife short film - Maldraxxus World of Warcraft from €14.99

So we can expect a lot of emotional moments in WoW Shadowlands. Perhaps Draka's meeting with Thrall will be the point in her story that gives her soul eternal peace so that she can later join Durotan. Can you remember the dramatic separation of mother and son from Afterlife: Maldraxxus? In her death throes, Draka could not touch her infant son one last time. His fate was uncertain for her. Imagine if Thrall could take this burden from his mother and tell her that her sacrifice was not in vain and that he could grow up to be a great warrior and leader. Then Draka could possibly leave her old life behind for good.

What do you guys think? How might Draka and Thrall's story end? How important are the Shadowlands in general? And what cosmic secret surrounds our heroes, who seem to be able to walk easily between worlds? Write us your theories!

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