Lorekeeping in Warcraft 😓

So… it seems like the Blizzard firings did extend to the Lore historians. Which led to one of the now former ones explaining what they were actually doing on Reddit.

I found this thread here on the US forums, and this is basically me getting the same topic over here as well. So to start…

The most important revelation won’t be a surprise, but… the historians had no power to correct lore mistakes, they just had to point them out. If a stubborn dev wanted to get his cool but lorebreaking quest in, they could. Or to quote the ex-historian:

at the end of the day even if they’re writing lore that states Dwarves have always been born from eggs laid by troggs, I have no power to stop them from doing so. The best I personally could do if I felt particularly strong about it, is point it out to Danuser and say, “yo dawg, you aware of this?”

Apart from this they were pretty much responsible for creating any material on any lore topic so that the other devs had ressources at hand, and they consulted on the lore in meetings when requested. And they were apparently quite understaffed before the layoffs, so there is that as well.

Then there are some questions he answered, and which I ulled straight from the US thread…

Q : So someone making a quest could effectively write fanfiction and just because its rule of cool it couldn’t be overturned? Sounds a little disheartening for someone who’s job it is to create and catalog a cohesive world.
A : I can’t speak to the whole quest design process but I do believe that base level Quest Designers need to get their ideas approved at some level, but I’m not sure who approves that and Lore is not a part of it.
From a strictly Lore team perspective though, sometimes yes, that’s what it can look like from afar. If it has some sort of major lore issue, we can trigger another discussion on it, but Blizzard often prefers to treat lore as somewhat malleable rather than strictly concrete and would rather try to massage it than toss it or start over.

Q : Mentioning the Dragonflight Codex, I’ve got to ask. Alexstrasza’s page reiterated that the dragons lost their ability to reproduce after Dragon Soul. Was there any explanation on where all these Dragon Isle’s whelps came from?
A : So I’m going to refrain from going into what the current canon is because I don’t believe it had been properly decided (publicized) by the time I left and I don’t know if anything has changed, especially since basically anything that wasn’t said publicly can change any time.
What I will say is that I believe this to be a failure on my part. I believe I read the first draft very early after DF launch and my initial thought was “Yeah, they can’t lay eggs. That’s what Cata said.” Did some checking online and internally that said mostly the same and the community sentiment at the time was that “maybe these DF eggs were left from the before times?” and I guess I just internalized that and rolled with it. Didn’t realize the issue until much later, by which point I’d forgotten I okayed it in the draft.

Q : Are the specific race data still canon from the RPG-books, like the ages and heights?
A : This is a good question. Generally we treat them as a separate canon from the games., similar to how we treat the film. However we have on occasion pulled from the RPGs when we felt they had something interesting we wanted to utilize. For RP purposes I would say “dubiously canon unless contradicted or reinforced by game lore”.

Q : How did the writers justified the existence of the Void Elves, lore-wise?
A : Couldn’t say sadly. I’d guess “Rule of Cool” was part of it.

Q : Late to the party but I always wanted to know this: Is there a reason there is absolutely no defined population scales etc. In WoW? These seem to be purposefully never included in anything and I’ve always wondered why.
A : I don’t have a definitive answer but my understanding is that keeping these things vague allows more freedom for Narrative and more freedom for whoever takes over the story next.

Q : Is there an opinion on the change to telling “biased perspective” books that’s gone on in recent stories over objective lore sources? Either on the historian team specifically or the overall team. I’ve always wondered how much of that is a top level narrative decision that the team has to go with, or if it’s an overall shift that everyone appreciates.
A : I’ve kind of mentioned it elsewhere, but it allows authors more freedom to write the stories they want to write and not feel like they can’t pursue a cool idea because of what someone wrote years prior.

So yeah, as you can see there is still a big focus on “allowing writers more freedom”, so hard numbers and a firm stance on pretty much any part of world-building seem to be a no-no. Nothing new, Copeland said that years ago, but well, if anyone had expected this to have changed for the better… doesn’t sound like it did.

Sounds to me like firing historians likely won’t have much of an impact on general consistency, but might lead to even more lore ignorance in the ranks of the devs.

Oh, there was another fun one:

Why were the Class Halls abandoned story-wise?
I’m not certain as I was in QA at the time. But my personal opinion is that rather than a narrative justification, it had to do with the extra work creating quests and story for each class required, as opposed to universal or faction based storylines.

And this one as well:

So if I’m understanding this correctly, the Lore/Historian team is a separate team from the writing team?
Yes, the Lore team is separate from the various game Narrative teams. We’re in Story and Franchise Development, which also contains the prerendered cinematics as well as the Books team and more. Most Historians handle more than 1 IP, but I was unique in that I was wholly dedicated to Warcraft. I could pretty easily communicate with WoW Dev and could freely walk into their space, but our everyday workspace didn’t overlap.


The post on reddit :slight_smile:

Former Warcraft Historian here to explain what it is they do.

Good morning everyone. I’m not sure about the rules regarding this type of post, but after perusing a thread about the layoffs to the Lore team, I was hit with the realization once again that few understand what it is the Lore team does.

So basically they do nothing ? No wander they got fired . Why do you need editors and QA’s who are basically ignored and people just write stuff like fanfiction .
They can just look at the forums , see some logical arguments and than totally ignore them as well . And best of all it is FREE .

And I don’t try to be mean here to anyone , especially people losing their jobs , but lol that’s the feeling I got from it .

1 Like

Reading the thread I wouldn’t say that. Just that they are powerless. Pretty much a third party hired to look over all old and new material, internal and external, because Blizzard wouldn’t want to unintentionally break continuity, while having no qualms with breaking it intetionally. So every time some name, place or concept comes up, the historians give everyone involved the readings on those… and while WoWpedia might be almost as good, it doesn’t have access to the provisional lore that the historians have. Also, they were sometimes in meetings, so they might have some influence on where the story was going, I guess…

But yeah, from a pure consumer standpoint, I don’t think gutting this team will change much, if anything. At most it represents a lack of on-paper commitment to continuity, which might have been a copium-source once.

Oh well, Metzen probably knows all the lore ever anyways and doesn’t need historians to remind him! :wink:


Also I am pretty sure that Microsoft has their own “AI chat bot” , which can easily just scan all quest texts , books , interviews , future and in the making lore and provide answer to “Did Mankirk have a wife” type of questions .

From a nihilistic viewpoint then their departure means very little. If their role was purely advisor and was often ignored then what is the point in keeping them around? What is the worst thing that’ll happen that hasn’t already happened?

It is clear they have a direction they want to go in with the story and that wasn’t enough to course-correct then, I doubt it will in the future beyond minor issues. As long as the game itself is in decent shape and the story holds up on surface, then the majority of people will tolerate it.


This lol. What a useless job they had if the writers just did what they please anyway. But it’s not their fault they were made useless. Remember that Danuser, the big head chief had every power to listen to the lorekeepers at Blizzard if they had a problem with certain things, but Danuser just neglected that part of the department as he pleases.

If Danuser keeps greenlighting horrible decisions in lore, then what’s the point?

More reason that that man should’ve been fired in Shadowlands. Dude doesn’t care about Warcraft, just wants to push his own garbage.


Thank you for compiling this. I wasn’t aware of a lore team at all, and it’s reassuring to know that there were reasons behind poor quality of lore.


This destroyed Wow lore. Everything wrong here has roots in this.

1 Like

WoW/Blizzard has, and unfortunately most likely will, always run on an outdated story design; that story design being “rule of cool” and “having their cake and eating it” philosophy. Additionally, when combined with the limitations you have with gameplay (such as certain events, characters, wars etc…) not being allowed to reach their logical conclusion because it would affect the gameplay element too much, you have a cocktail of bad story design.

WoW’s story is a rotten building, it looks good enough on the outside but the moment you try to enter the structure it’ll just collapse. Even back during the “golden age” of WoW’s storytelling, there were serious issues.

Illidan and Kael turned purely evil and are raid bosses? Well-sign-me-up-I-remember-them-characters-this’ll-be-so-cool. Then if go to open the door and ask why they are evil? Or better yet, how the hell did they make it out of Icecrown, especially given the fact Illidan was sliced by Frostmoure dying? Well, ehm…
Arthas/The Lich King is the final boss of this expansion wow cool wow I remember playing him in Warcraft 3. Open the door again, why is there a massive shift between Arthas/Lich King between Warcraft 3 and WotLK? Why is he a monologing disney villain who lets you go (or better yet kills and resurrections) I kid you not 20 or so times throughout the Northrend campaign? Dunno, but he looks cool.

Metzen might make the story better, perhaps even good again in terms of WoW storytelling. But it isn’t going to be anywhere near some of the quality stories we are getting out of other games, even in the same genre, so long as they keep this outdated relic

As long as the gameplay is good people will be willing to accept even trash levels of story as long as they don’t look past the surface.

Sums up a lot of the current state of writing/storycrafting in general.

These hacks take up someone else’s work, think they know better than the original writers and end up creating utter drivel.

I am pretty sure the dude said season 8 of GoT was great, that should sum up his state of mind.

I agree, but I don’t think that’s everything. I mean, yes, Warcraft’s story was always full of nonsense. But it kept to a tone that made it our nonsense. That made it marginally fun to try to make sense of it. Now that tone has shifted… but the nonsense remained. And maybe among the people that stuck 20 years to the same game there might be a relevant number of people who aren’t that much into changing the tone to be a better fit for modern audiences…

If there is any hope for Metzen making things better you are right not to look at the objective quality of the story. That has little chance of changing for the better. But he could bring a change in tone that might please the old fans more than what we had. Not that we saw any of that in the last months, but I’m willing to suspend judgement on his management until WW at least.

Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think there is any way to recapture the spirit of “our nonsense”, not to the extent we had with pre-BfA expansions (well, maybe an extension of classic but that has basically its own audience at this point). WoW previously had mythos, it has speculation and theory-crafting, it had great characters from their previous series and it still had open-ended questions regarding everything. We just don’t have this anymore (not to the extent to what we had previously), the wackiness and “nonsense” from what we had previously has moved gone.

Perhaps Metzen can rejuvenate what we all had in the past with these new expansions with a different focus. And if he does I will be the first one to admit I was wrong, but I don’t see it. The foundations are rotten to the core, it needs to be ripped out and replaced.

I guess I wasn’t ever that impressed with the old characters or the world-building, so that wasn’t what attracted me to Warcraft. That probably can’t be brought back in any satisfying way, yeah.

I was thinking more of “angry orc goes on an brutal suicidal rampage to save the day” vs today’s “melancholic orc reminisces over the futility of violence” thing. The time when every character was actually a cheesy action hero and not a cheesy drama role. And that’s what I could see making a partial return under new story leadership.

I would much prefer if we move away from 1D characters. While I don’t mind the odd character being tropey aka “orcs solves problem with big axe” I would like to have some more development than just that.

There is only so many times you can do that without it being repetitive, just like how “ENOUGH” bosses or “YoU cAnNoT pOsSiBlY uNdErStAnD” have become too dominant in a lot of genres, especially in WoW.

There needs to be more depth.


It is unfortunately becoming increasingly common for anyone invested in consisted world building and coherent characters to be treated as an annoyance and with utter contempt.

Not even Henry Cavill was immune to that as witnessed with the handling of a certain TV show inspired by a particular book/game series.

1 Like

That’s what they have been trying for quite a few years now. I’ll take a repetition of the old stuff I like over an ill-considered change I don’t like any day. Especially since Blizzard has proven quite bad with that depth-thing.

I can’t really think of any well-done character with depth in Warcraft, but there were so many fun single-minded idiots back in the days. So I really don’t see why people who like the franchise wouldn’t just want them to stick to what they were good at.

1 Like

Can we make a challenge out of this? I’m inclined to agree with you, but I don’t want to let an opportunity like this pass.

Do you mind giving me some examples? While I could give broad reasons as to why these characters (assuming the ones you are thinking of are the same as mine) failed, it is far better to go for more on a case by case basis.

As one example, giving Jaina more depth through breaking her at the destruction of Theramore wasn’t bad, it was probably one of the most interesting things they did with their characters up to that point. The reason it became bad was because they basically did it to her 3 times. And the last one in BfA just came across as a rug pull after the buildup they did around it.

What metric are we using here? Well done in general or in terms of WoW’s story?

The only one I can proper character I can think of which was done well and had barely any character outside 1 or 2 traits was Gul’dan. He was evil because he loved power. Outside him, who else was there?

Like I said before, having the odd single-minded guy doing XYZ is fine, but it cannot be all you have, especially in this day and age.

I’d say that’s an example. They tried, and showed they were bad at it. Really, as far as I’m concerned you can pretty much pick any headliner of the last 5+ years. Thrall, Anduin, Jaina, Saurfang, Tyrande, Sylvanas, Genn, Baine… the more I see of them, the less I care.

…pretty much everyone back in the days. Gul’dan, the demons, Arthas, Uther, old Jaina, Grom, Cairne, Doomhammer Illidan, Kael’thas, Kel’thuzad, whatever. All the fan favourites, take your pick. The depth of a rain puddle, never really rising above the tropes they represent, but some cool lines and actions. They were much, much more concerned with what the characters were doing and how awesome they were at it, than with presenting different sides of the same character.

1 Like

I’ll be honest, I did not consider most of the characters you’ve listed to be 1D characters, I would say they were beyond being simplistic.

I’ll take back a lot of what I have said, going back to the types of characters you’ve put would be better, albeit, I would still like some more complex characters thrown in the mix (assuming they can actually write one that works).

I guess there might be room for an epilogue at the end of a story, but I think generally this game is most fun when it’s just cool stuff happening, and people reacting immediately. That doesn’t exactly make complex and interesting characters impossible, but I don’t think it lends itself to focussing on it. That said… that’s where supplemental material could do wonders. If they didn’t have to focus so much on explaining the shoddy main plot, a novel or short story here and there could be a great exploration of some characters’ hidden depths. Or an RPG in the Warcraft franchise, if one would dare to dream…

1 Like