How will it affect people on Azeroth ? Assuming the champions who traveled to the Shadowlands don’t keep what they saw to themselves and do spread the knowledge of what death actually is. Also assuming the matter is addressed at all.
It would (should ?) have groundbreaking impacts on so many things. The first very concrete example that comes to my mind is the Forsaken. How many of them would decide to remain trapped in rotting bodies when they know the afterlife exists and is a decently enjoyable fate (that’s arguable yes, personally I think it sucks) once the Jailer thing is dealt with ?
I see no reason to assume this, since I am assuming that Blizzard won’t go into it. Ground-level lore hasn’t been much of a thing in ages. We don’t even get to see any impact on the main cast of characters. It’s just things happening.
And in this case I’m actually quite happy to leave it like that.
Writers consistently failing to provide ground-level lore is not something I will contest. However I think the assumption is reasonable, considering how at this point, people probably know that their leaders have been to the realm of death (citizens of Stormwind and Orgrimmar at least). Other individuals like Taelia and Calia have hopped in too since. And the whole expansion is set in the Shadowlands, so it’s fair to say the populations will have at least some knowledge of it, unless the entire expansion has absolutely zero impact on following developments ?
Even general populous like Ol’ Emma. Still no one is talking about the existential implications of any of this. I don’t think that’s particularly likely to change. So you can assume that no one but the people there are aware of it, or that no one is interested. Both aren’t exactly thrilling ideas.
That’s about what I’d expect, yes. Some of the characters might have impacts beyond it, but I think the setting won’t. Just like they did with WoD and alternate realities becoming a thing without it changing anything for anyone. Did you know that there is a giant sword in Silithus? Because I can’t figure out if anyone still remembers…
Most of the souls of the Forsaken would still end in Revendreth or Maldraxxus, (mostly in Revendreth for the majority who blindly followed Sylvanas since Vanilla WoW, at least, so the new Arbiter would likely send them there for that) and I doubt either of these two afterlives would be truly enjoyable for them better to stay on Azeroth even as Undead… which is relatively safe for them and they don’t have to face the long process of redemption for their past sins (yet)
That raises the question of, is time spent in undeath taken into account by the Arbiter when evaluating sins ? Sounds unfair. The very condition of undead makes you incredibly prone to doing questionable stuff, no matter how righteous your past life had been.
For those who had free will like the Forsaken, I think yes, the Arbiter will definitely judge them for their own actions during the period they were Undead. For those who were mindcontrolled by the Lich King like the Scourge members, probably not.
Also most of the souls of the Forsaken were not split like the one of Sylvanas, as the most died and were reanimated just by consuming plagued grain. So that will be an aggravating factor when being judged, because they did crimes willingly and while their soul was whole (unlike Sylvanas), even if they were corrupted by necromantic magic.
I dislike this interpretation as it undermines the consequences of undeath. If you are the same person in “unlife” as you were in life then undeath seems to be a mere inconvenience. The question of humanity is the theme that is at the heart of the Forsaken, I feel. When you become one of the Forsaken you adopt a new identity. Your family will not recognize you as the person you were and will consider your current form an abomination and slight to the memory of the person you once was. The very religion that was at the core of your society now shuns you, reinforcing your belief that you are an abomination.
Even if you were the exact same person in unlife, surely the arbiter would consider the circumstantial conditions that may explain your “ill” deeds. And if the Forsaken do lose their humanity in unlife (which is how I prefer to see them) then, like Connie says, it’s hardly fair to judge your life based on your actions as a corpse.
Wrapping this back on topic, I find that the arbiter is a problematic storytelling device. Morality is a human invention and what we may perceive as right or wrong differs tremendously depending on culture and belief. Even within homogenous cultures individuals may have moral views that oppose those of the group. An omniscient being like the arbiter kind of acts like the sole authority on morality. It has the final say in which pen you will be put in for the rest of eternity.
… full disclaimer though, as I don’t actually know all that much about the arbiter and its role in the narrative as I stopped playing when I got to max level, and what little I do know comes from my brief experience and from reading second-hand information. It is very hard to immerse yourself into a world where the character you see the world through goes to the afterlife and learns of how souls are categorized and sorted into “reality boxes” that are simultaneously alienated from everything we know about World of Warcraft and super familiar at the same time.
I think our characters might stop worrying about death – or perhaps worry about death in a different manner from before. It’s a worry that’s more akin to “which house will the hat assign me to?”. The real worry I would have as a denizen of Azeroth knowing that the Shadowlands exists is what would happen when you die in the Shadowlands. What does it mean to become anima? That seems to be the “real death”.
For the entire duration of WoD, they ignored the fact that at some point people would notice that these people in their garrisons bringing armies over come from the future where their own world got totally ruined. They also ignored the implication of people meeting their alternate-reality grandchildren, parents or other relatives. Durotan never had a talk with the hundreds or thousands of orcish grunts in the garrison next to his home. He never noticed that these people named an entire geographic region after him. He never bothered to ask or investigate why that is.
Thus, concluding, no obvious logical follow up question that should arise from shadowlands will ever arise.
Yeah that. The Forsaken are pretty much doomed to do things they would have loathed in their life, be it because it is now part of their nature (if I recall correctly they supposedly only experience negative emotions, although this part seems to have been retconned to death in Before the Storm), or because they suffer constant rejection from their living relatives, former fellow humans, and really almost all races in Azeroth at this point.
So it’s not only about free will. The Forsaken’s free will, no matter how real, is at work under very specific conditions, and it can’t be expected to lead to the same decisions living persons would make.
Back on topic, of course you all are right when you say it’s reasonable not to expect those writers to even think about it. I have nothing to respond to that. If they do end up addressing it then it should have tremendous implications though