Effraeti's RP

One Woman, Two Timelines, Two Destinies.

Dern Pointy-Earred Tree-huggers

Darnassus, City of the Night Elves - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

I find my self regularly browsing the search terms that bring people to my Blog.  I find no surprise in the fact that “WoW” and “World of Warcraft” are at the top.  It is the next in line that amuse me most: “R.A. Salvatore” and “Drizzt Do’Urden.”

Drizzt Do'Urden - Property of R.A. Salvatore and Wizards of the Coast

A while back I wrote a post comparing Salvatore’s Orcs and Warcraft’s Orcs.  I wrote it because at that time I was reading the The Hunter’s Blades trilogy, and the differences were stark enough to strike me deeply while I was reading, to the point I felt like sharing.  Despite the popularity of this post as far as search terms go, I have no real feedback on whether the post was poignant or interesting.

But the topic interests me, and I have found myself thinking along a similar line in regards to elves.

A Dwarf and a Night Elf - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Drizzt's Dwarven Companion, Bruenor Battlehammer - Property of R.A. Salvatore and Wizards of the Coast

Dwarves and Elves are the quintessential fantasy races.  Humans are a given, but humans are always based in some way on real life humans.  So they always display the same flaws and redeeming qualities as we do, and so prove less interesting to compare.  Salvatore’s Dwarves resemble Warcraft’s Dwarves in most everything except their origins.  Salvatore’s Dwarves are rugged mountain men.  Warcraft’s Dwarves are the same in their present form, but they were originally beings of iron and steel and rock, “infected” with the Curse of the Flesh to give them their current forms.

An Earthen - Used from WoWwiki, Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

This leaves the Elves, a comparison that seems simple at first.

I was originally inspired to compare the Night Elves of Warcraft to the Drow of Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms (I do not really read much D&D outside of Salvatore’s work, except the Dark Sun world whenever I can get my hands on one).  In doing a little extra research, I was reminded that the Dungeons & Dragons world has a vast array of Elves…

Drow, Wild, Sun, Wood, and Moon Elves - Property of Wizards of the Coast

In a similar fashion, Warcraft has three races of Elves…

A Night Elf or Kal'dorei - Property of Blizzard Entertainment. Inc.

A High Elf or Quel'dorei - (Vareesa Windrunner) Used from WoW Insider, Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

A Blood Elf or Sin'dorei - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

While leveling my wee Blood Elf Priest, Caerise, I noticed that there is another type of Elf in the Ghostlands.  They look like a fascinating hybrid between Night Elves and High Elves, and I assume they are there as a illustration of the gradual change that took place when the High Elves separated themselves from the Night Elves – the Quel’dorei Ghosts and the Quel’dorei Wraiths.

Being a long time fantasy fan, I was quite confused in regards to Elves when I started playing WoW.  At that time, knowing no lore, I knew only of the two player races – the Night Elves and the Blood Elves.  Even though “Blood Elf” sounds ominous and they struck me fairly evil from the BC trailers, they more resembled what I had come to know as “good” Elves.  At that time, I had no connection between the green glow of their eyes and fel magic.  Adversely, the Night Elves reminded me more of Drizzt and the Drow or “evil” Elves than anything else I had come across in my previous fantasy experience – dark skin, glowing and pupil-less eyes, an affinity to night and darkness.

A Drider, minion of the Spider Queen, Lloth - Property of R.A. Salvatore and Wizards of the Coast

But leaving Drizzt (a non-typical Drow to say the least) out of the comparison, this was where most of the similarity stopped.

My first character on WoW (other than the Undead Warlock I created in a free trial WAY back when on some long forgotten account and server) was a Night Elf Druid, because I am at heart a healer and I liked the idea of changing into cute, fuzzy animals!

First of all, a Druid does not strike me a a Drow-type character at all.  Drow live underground, and have no connection to nature.  Instead, the Drow worship their Spider Queen, Lloth, in a matriarchal society run by Lloth’s Drow Priestesses.  Similarly, though the Night Elves are historically patriarchal, the Priestesses of Elune (their Moon Goddess) tend to have a high influence, especially now that High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind is their main racial leader.  Yes, Malfurion Stormrage, Arch-Druid and leader of the second most powerful group in Night Elven society, has finally returned to her side, but it is fairly obvious he leaves a lot to her…

New Tyrande looks so angry... Tyrande: Rawr! Nao! Malfurion: Ohhh, shiny!

Though both races have an affinity to the darkness, Night Elves live above ground in cities made of trees and buildings melded together through their magic.  Example: the Howling Oak comprising the background of the above screenshot.  The Night Elven capital is Darnassus, illustrated in the first picture of this post.  Drow on the other hand, live in the Underdark, a series of underground caverns and tunnels that cover nearly as much space as the surface world above them.  The Drow’s main city is Menzoberranzan (and yes, I had to Google that to make sure I spelled it correctly).

Menzoberranzan - Property of Wizards of the Coast

Night Elves, as their name suggests, are nocturnal beings and prefer the cool light of the moon to the searing light of the sun.  Though they prefer nighttime, Night Elves function almost as easily during the day, darkness is a preference.  Drow, on the other hand, detest sunlight and find it physically painful.  They can move around fairly well on the surface at night, but without a good reason otherwise (such as causing trouble to the surface races), they usually stay below ground.  Many Drow never see the surface.  It seems that even the Drow’s magic is dependent on the darkness and energy that radiates from their cities, as spending time on the surface quickly degrades Drow-crafted items to nothing.  Night Elves have no such worry when being active during the day.

A Night Elf - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Another stark difference between the two races is their use of magic.  Night Elves rely on nature and their Moon Goddess, Elune, for their magic, and generally detest Arcane magic for the suffering it has brought upon them as a race.  They fault the misuse of Arcane magic and the Well of Eternity as the source of the Burning Legion’s interest in destroying Azeroth and the reasoning behind their lost immortality.  It was Arcane magic that created the divide between the Night Elves and the High Elves, causing them to banish their Arcane-wielding and addicted brethren from Kalimdor all together.

Lloth, the Spider Queen - Concept Card Created by Elnshaw*, Property of R.A. Salvatore and Wizards of the Coast

The Drow, though all their magical power comes from their Spider Queen, also use magic of an Arcane nature.  There is magic threaded into every piece of their society, all at the whim of their evil and fickle Queen.  Lloth’s Priestesses are the highest caste of Drow society, and these Priestesses lead their respective Houses (kind of like mob families).  The loss of one House to another immediately points to that House or Priestess having lost the favor of the Spider Queen, usually because the House or Priestess has done something to displease Lloth, but sometimes merely based on the direction of the Spider Queen’s chaotic mood at any given time.

Blood Elves - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

As I played WoW, and learned more of the lore behind the Elven races, I realized, despite their outward appearances, the Blood Elves are more akin to the Drow then the Night Elves are.

The Night Elves started out as a primitive race, brought to the height of their power by the glorious Well of Eternity.  Azeroth was all one continent at that time, and the Well of Eternity and the Night Elven city of Zin-Azshari was at the center of everything.  Eventually, the Night Elves began to become vain in their power, and the highest caste of Night Elven society and those closest to Queen Azshara, the Highborne, began to abuse the Well’s power.  This incredible source of magical energy caught the attention of the demon Sargeras, leader of the Burning Legion.  Sargeras began to twist the minds of Azshara and the Highborne to his own will, convincing them that creating a portal and ushering Sargeras and his demons onto Azeroth would lead them to even greater power.

Sargeras, Leader of the Burning Legion - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

As demons poured onto Azeroth, the city of Zin-Azshari fell right before the very eyes of Queen Azshara – her people died as she preened herself for Sargeras’ arrival.  It was a young Tyrande, Malfurion, and Illidan that noticed this, but by the time they gathered the other Night Elves behind them, the fight seemed hopeless.

It was only through the rousing of the Dragon Aspects and their kin, alongside the demigods of nature gathered by Cenarius, that the limitless army of demons was driven back.  But only the destruction of the portal being opened for Sargeras would truly save their world from destruction.

Cenarius - Taken from WoWwiki, Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

In the end, it was only the destruction of the Well of Eternity that would seal the portal.  The Well’s demise caused a great Cataclysm that torn the world.  The Well imploded and now sits between the two great landmasses of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms as the Maelstrom.  The once-great city of Zin-Azshari fell into the ocean.

The Well of Eternity

The Night Elves blamed the Highborne for the fall of their race.  Even though they attempted to forgive those who had turned against Azshara and helped the remaining Night Elves, suspicions and distrust still ran high.

The surviving Night Elves converted to Druidism, and any practice of Arcane magic was forbidden.  But the Highborne were still addicted to magic far deeper than those Night Elves who had lived further from the influence of the Well, and they spent much of their time seeking out new sources.  Eventually, the leader of the Highborne confronted Malfurion and the Druids, declaring them cowards for their shunning of Arcane magic.

Malfurion could not condemn so many of his brethren to death, as was the punishment for using Arcane magic.  So instead, the Highborne were outcast and sent away from Kalimdor.

When the the Highborne were exiled, they eventually settled in the Eastern Kingdoms, in an area now known as Tirisfal Glades in the then-Human kingdom of Lordaeron.  They settled there because they could sense the magic of the place, something the Highborne needed to feed their magical addiction since the destruction of their former source, the Well of Eternity.  Soon after settling in Tirisfal, some of the Highborne slowly began to go mad, and those who yet retained their sanity realized the source of the Glade’s magical power was something truly evil.  It is thought this evil magic is due to the presence of an Old God, imprisoned deep beneath Tirisfal.

Tirisfal Glades - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Whatever its source, the Highborne fled and continued further north into the continent.  Many succumbed to illness and cold in the mountainous trek, since their source of immortality and power was gone.  Despite the terrotorial and savage Trolls of Zul’Aman, the self-proclaimed High Elves (or Quel’dorei) founded Quel’Thalas and created a new source of magical power – the Sunwell – from a secreted vial taken from the Well of Eternity before its destruction.

The Sunwell - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

The High Elves of Quel’Thalas prospered for four thousand years, despite the encroaching Trolls, until the fall of Lordaeron and the rise of the Scourge.  The High Elves witnessed the fall of their society and the corruption of their sole source of magical power at the hands of the Death Knight, Arthas (eventually to become the Lich King).

Silvermoon, Capital of Quel'Thalas - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

The destruction of the High Elves’ home had devastating affects on the race.  Many died to the Scourge invasion, but many more wasted away to mere shadows of themselves, wretched creatures barely identifiable as the Elves they formerly were.  Some survived both of these horrible fates to the pain and hunger of withdrawal from the source of magic.  Kael’thas, the leader of his race, began to play with fel magicks, and convinced my of his follows into the same.  Those who disagreed fled, outcast to the edges of their former home.  Some you can even still find in northern Eastern Plaguelands, though, I regret I have found little to do with them…

Kael'thas Sunstrider, Leader of the Blood Elves - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Those High Elves who stayed with Kael’thas partook in the same fel magicks their leader tampered with, and the they began to identify themselves as Blood Elves, in honor of their fallen brethren.  But with fel magic and consorting with demons, there is always a price.

Burning Crusade Loading Screen - Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

This fel dabbling did indeed arouse the interest of the Burning Legion once more, and the Blood Elves served these evil masters much like the Drow serve Lloth.  The problem with masters of a chaotic nature is these beings tend to revel in conflict and destruction more than the prosperity of their followers.  Sargeras is not as interested in followers as he is in destroying every world and living thing created by the Titans.  The Blood Elves were too lost in their addiction to realize the evil they unleashed upon the world and willingly served.

Kael’thas was too far gone to be redeemed, but eventually the Blood Elves discovered the destruction caused by their addictions and poor choices.

Why won't you die?? Because "Tempest Keep was just a setback!" - Taken from WoWwiki, Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

The Blood Elves sought the help of the Na’aru and the other races of Azeroth.  The forces of the Burning Legion were driven back once more, and the Sunwell was restored.

They still do not strike me as a very “good” race, but at least they are “good” enough to seek to right their race’s wrongs.

<insert evil-sounding Blood Elf female laugh here>

~ Effy

* On a completely unrelated aside, I like this Elnshaw guy completely based on the quote on his profile: “The enemy gate is down.”  <3

Parting Note: I spent way too long putting together this post, as I was constantly sidetracking myself while verifying the spelling of one thing or another and finding pictures.  As you may notice, I found several pictures that struck my fancy.  I mean, how can you not love Elves?  Anything that is not a personal WoW screenshot of mine is noted.

13 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this although I know nothing about the Drow, but now I have a burning desire to search the servers for one of my abandoned Blood Elves and resume leveling them!

    • Yah, I was playing my little Blood Elf Priest earlier this week, and I love their start area. The NPCs are kinda rude though. :P

      I think a good Blood Elf story would be a story of seeking redemption. Of course, that maybe be a cliche storyline for a Blood Elf. Hmm…

      ~ Effy

  2. You may have spent a long time on it, but it’s obviously a labor of love, and very much appreciated. I still have so much to learn about the lore, and this resource is wonderful! Thank you so much!

    • I love Warcraft’s lore, especially since I am a life-long fantasy fan. And it fascinates me to see how the same basic races change at the hands of different creators. Nearly all fantasy includes Elves, but rarely are the depicted in the same manner. :)

      I have been disappointed with some of the storylines Blizzard chopped to pieces in game, leaving the story only available in a book. Top on that list is the Emerald Nightmare. There were so many in-game possibilities for that storyline, instead they told it all in a book and called it finished. I hope they revise that thought at some point and let us experience it.

      ~ Effy

  3. Awesome post! I never really thought about the parallels between the Blood elves and the Drow. Years ago (1990s) I was working on my own RPG world and had a race of dark elves that were very similar to the Night Elves in WoW, extremely tall, dark skinned, nocturnal, and nature oriented. I never finished that work.

    • Thanks, Fae!

      I too wrote about Elves and such through middle school and high school. The main race of Elves were connected to the trees (their Ancients) in a similar manner to the pequininos of Orson Scott Card’s Ender series. When an Elf died, they became a Aspen tree, retaining all their former knowledge and sharing it amongst the other Ancients. A sort of community of Elders.

      I likewise never finished those, adulthood took over and that whole “being responsible” thing. :) I still have all my notes and such packed away in a box somewhere, I believe. Hmm….

      ~ Effy

  4. Awesome post, as I had never thought of a lot of these parallels yet. I’m coming at this for a completely different direction than most of you readers. I for one know nothing about the Night Elves (as I usually play Horde) and didn’t even realize that they enjoyed the darkness and worshiped the moon goddess Elune. I also had no idea that there was a third race of elves in WoW, such as the High Elf or Quel’dorei.

    I’m a huge R.A. Salvatore fan and I have read most of the books he has written about the Drow and the Dwarfs of Mitheral Hall. But I had never connected them to the Night Elves and the dark skin. I have always thought of Drow as black-skinned like African American and the Night Elves to have blue/purple skin like the space goats. Maybe that is just my personal take on the Salvatore literature and the fact that there are few pictures.

    I going to go read your post about the Orcs compared to the orcs of R.A. Salvatore’s Hunter’s Blade Trilogy. I enjoy the transition that orcs have taken in the Forgotten Realms.

    • Well, honestly, the Drow appear to have black skin – not dark blue or dark brown, actual black. So in that respect, it would be difficult to compare them to anything else. But I am also from a comic book and cartoon background, and illustrating something cartoonish in pure black just does not work. So most cartoons and comics tend to portray black (say hair for an example) as a dark blue. I guess with the cartoonish figures of WoW, I immediately reverted to that ideal and thought “dark blue/purple skin = dark elf or Drow.” Whereas “good” or “light” elves are always portrayed as fair-skinned, like the High Elves or the Blood Elves.

      In fact, other than their addiction to magic, High Elves most closely resemble the typical “good” elf. So it comes as no surprise to me that these were the first elves portrayed in the Warcraft series and the first to meet the Humans. And Humans learning magic from Elves is also a pretty standard fantasy storyline.

      I am not talking down on the Warcraft series in any way, having never played it, but I am glad to see that Blizzard expanded from a stereotypical Humans versus Orcs with some Elves and Dwarves thrown in storyline to the vast world that we know in WoW. The Titans, the Curse of the Flesh, the Dragon Aspects, the Old Gods, the Burning Legion… all add to a gloriously broad world with so many beautiful facets to explore.

      Forgive me as I wax poetic…

      I have not really read past The Hunter’s Blades trilogy, because I got a little lost on what came next. I am currently (and unfortunately, grudgingly) reading Gauntlgrim, which seems to have skipped over a lot of story. I am wading through it like molasses, mostly because my favorite character is just suddenly dead. :( If you know of what books come in-between, please let me know.

      And thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and viewpoint. :)

      ~ Effy

      • I believe the next 3 books after the hunter’s blades are like the Orc KIng, Pirate King, and Ghost King.. not sure the order. I have not read them either but have read most everthing else up to and including the hunter’s blades. -Faer

      • Thanks, Fae! I will have to double-back and check those out! :)

        ~ Effy

  5. kofaile

    hey,
    Fae told you correctly, those are the books, and not a spoiler, but a warning….. so much changes… (Transitions trilogy, Orc, Pirate, Ghost in that order) apparently, WotC let Salvatore bring in the spellplague, (him and a couple others ive read so far) that has so affected RPG-D&D.
    i too am struggling through this new Gauntlgrym, Neverwinter, Charon’s Claw (out in Aug) trilogy. it feels as if Salvatore’s entire story focus has changed… i dont know, i cant put my finger on it, but its not as good as the older stuff.
    i digress though, because im mainly writing to say that i think you sold the Drow a little short. im coming from the other side of the room, im a D&D’er, not so much WoW. so here’s a quickie world broadener :)
    the drow actually have three main deities, Lolth and her two children Eilistraee, and Vhaeraun. Eilistraee sounds a lot like Elune, moon, night, good stuff, but with a spin toward naked dancing rituals (check out Lisa Smedman’ s The Lady Penitent series) with a small but respectable following (one of the Seven Sisters even) and Vhaeraun is god of male drow, and a lord of thieves, and evil on the surface world. he has a pretty good following topside.
    something else is their magic… it doesnt come from Lolth. the ladies, because they are 90% clerics and 90% warriors :) get their divinely evil spells from Lolth. however, the boys tend to be purely Arcane, which is a different animal altogether. check out War of the Spider Queen, (edited/designed/coordinated by Salvatore, but not written by him) when Lolth goes to sleep, the women have some woes to handle and the men get a little frisky…. :) it also precludes Lady Penitent.
    sorry, just felt this side of the story needed a little more meat.

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