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Old 07-13-2017, 10:57 PM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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Default Rectifying the Elemental Plane in a Post-Chronicle World

Got into something on the SoL Discord today that kinda gripped my attention, but it turned out Discord didn't really seem to be the right venue for exploring it, so here goes.

Chronicles' depiction of the Elemental Plane is impossible to rectify with past depictions, both in terms of timeline and functionality.

Pre-Cataclysm, this in-game book established some details about the place that the Elementals were banished to:

Quote:
The Pantheon shattered the Old Gods' citadels and chained the five evil gods far beneath the surface of the world. Without the Old Gods' power to keep their raging spirits bound to the physical world, the elementals were banished to an abyssal plane, where they would contend with one another for all eternity. With the elementals' departure, nature calmed, and the world settled into a peaceful harmony. The Titans saw that the threat was contained and set to work.
Alongside this, you've got Highlord Demitrian, the servant of Prince Thunderaan, who tells the story of the fate of his master to set-up the questchain for Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker.

Quote:
Look to this ravaged field and know the power that the elements hold, <race>.
> What do you know of it?

I know much, listen and be educated, <race>.
> I am listening, Demitrian.

In the time before time, what the usurpers would later call the First Age of Creation, my master and his siblings ruled over this world. It was they, the Old Gods who created all.
And it was they who would ultimately be cast down by those that would call themselves Shapers.

> Continue, please.

Their manifest forms weak from eons of battle, imprisoned beneath the world - the world that they themselves created - the corruption of the Titan Shapers would permeate through the surface and befoul the Old Gods.
It was then and there that the brothers did turn. For five millennia a battle was fought at the core of this world.

> A battle?

It was during the Elemental Sundering that the Firelord, Ragnaros, would seek to consume my Lord, Thunderaan, Prince of Air.
<Demitrian bows his head, his face contorted in rage.>
Speak his name and I will decorate this ravaged camp with your entrails. Be silent and listen.

> Nod.

It was the Lieutenants of Ragnaros, Geddon and Garr, who would perpetrate the betrayal against my Lord. Thunderaan was caught unaware.

> Caught unaware? How?

The Firelord's advances were wholly unknown to Thunderaan. before my Lord could react, Sulfuras, legendary hammer of Ragnaros, would strike an unmerciful blow. Thunderaan fell, utterly defeated.
The Firelord feasted upon the essence of my Lord, but was unable to consume him entirely.

> So what did Ragnaros do next?

What little remained of Thunderaan's essence was stored within a talisman of elemental binding. Ragnaros then shattered the talisman in two flawless pieces. The pieces assigned to his Lieutenants...
Now, when we move forward to Cataclysm, a number of new details were established:
  • The elemental lords were banished to four domains established within the Elemental Plane: Therazone in Deepholm, Al'Akir in Skywall, Neptulon in the Abyssal Maw, and Ragnaros in the Firelands.
  • Deathwing's forcible breach out of Deepholm triggered a worldwide cataclysm that weakened the barriers between Azeroth and the Elemental Plane. Skywall became accessible from Uldum, the Abyssal Maw became accessible in the depths near Vashj'ir, Ragnaros was summoned by Deathwing and began spreading the Firelands into Mount Hyjal, while Deepholm was only accessible by passing into the eye of the Maelstrom itself.
  • The World Pillar within Deepholm was described as a critical component of the Elemental Plane, and without it, Deepholm would collapse into Azeroth, with catastrophic results. The World Pillar was damaged by Deathwing's actions.

Now, when we get to Chronicle, a number of critical details about the nature of the Elemental Plane appears to have been changed.

#1: The Nature of the Plane
The in-game book established the notion that the Old Gods were defeated first, which caused the elementals to snap back to the abyssal plane from whence they came. Chronicle establishes that the Elemental Lords were defeated first, then sealed away in four inter-linked domains within a pocket dimension (created by the Titanforged) which was dubbed the Elemental Plane. With the elements out of the way, the Titan Keepers would go on to battle the Old Gods' servants of the Black Empire and then the Old Gods themselves.

The key difference here is that over time, Blizzard adopted the idea that the Titans created the Elemental Plane. Chronicles cemented the notion that these were prisons intended to separate and sequester the elements from the Old Gods. It also established that the prisons were necessary because, since the elementals were inherently a part of Azeroth, they would reconstitute themselves eventually if they were simply killed. Sealing them away prevented them from ever wreaking chaos on Azeroth again.

While the text establishes that the four elemental domains within the Plane were inter-linked, there's nothing in the Chronicles text that states or implies that the elementals were able to interact with each other. That throws a wrench in the timeline established by Demetrian's retelling to Thunderaan's fall, because that requires that the elements DID have contact with each other.

The point is this: given the nature of the elemental plane as a prison for the four elemental lords and their servants, it strains credulity that the Titans would allow them to interact with one another, as it might increase the odds that they would find a way to escape.

#2: The World Pillar
Introduced in Cataclysm, the World Pillar was a Titan relic that powered the Temple of Earth within Deepholm, and served as a key component of the process that prevented Deepholm from collapsing into Azeroth. The World Pillar was damaged when Deathwing forcibly broke out of the plane and back into Azeroth, which in turn triggered the Cataclysm.

The mechanism of the World Pillar as a load-bearing component for Deepholm is problematic, now that it's been more firmly established by Chronicle that the elemental plane was intended to be a prison for the elemental lords. Placing the World Pillar in the middle of the prison doesn't make sense, as it doesn't seem unreasonable that the elemental lords would simply destroy the pillar, allow the realm to collapse around them, and then eventually reconstitute on Azeroth.

The point: Leaving the elemental lords in prisons that also contained a method for them to escape if they destroyed it doesn't make sense.

(There is a separate issue of why the entrance to Deepholm is through the eye of the Maelstrom, but that seems like a whole 'nother discussion.)

#3: Deathwing and the Realm of Earth
So Neltharion was established as being the Aspect of Earth, custodian of mountains and the deep places of the world. Prior to Chronicle, this relationship linked him strongly with why he was corrupted by the Old Gods (since they were chained in the deep places) and in Cataclysm, Deepholm was advertised as being his home away from Azeroth, by virtue of his office as Aspect.

However, Chronicle's chain of events doesn't really allow for Neltharion to be related to either of those places. Deepholm is specifically created to sequester Therazane and the earth elementals AWAY from Azeroth, while the prisons of the Old Gods are Titan complexes staffed by the Keepers. Neltharion's corruption is more a function of the Old Gods' influence seeping into the bedrock around their prisons.

Moreover, Chronicle never mentions any relationship between Neltharion's charge and Deepholm. And in Legion, in what's really a kind-of bizarre turn for something that came about while Chronicle was in development, there's a quest in Highmountain where Huln uses the Hammer of Khaz'goroth to banish Deathwing to Deepholm after the War of the Ancients. Chronicle then goes on to establish that Deathwing somehow returned from Deepholm and went to sleep until the power of the Dark Portal's opening awakened him.

... there's a lot to unpack here, but the core of things is that Chronicle's establishment of the timeline and relationships of these ancient events calls into question the structure of things that were crucial to the conceit of Cataclysm as a setting. Cataclysm stated that Deepholm was a place of refuge and power for Deathwing, and it was his intent to escape there when Ultraxion failed to destroy the Dragon Aspects. But Legion gives the impression that Deathwing was BANISHED there, and then somehow GOT BETTER and was back on Azeroth taking a nap when the Dark Portal opened up, at which point the Old Gods told him to help the Horde (in increasingly ornate ways like manipulating Lordaeron's public opinion of Stormwind to isolate Llane from assistance and later sending his children to manipulate Stormwind and the Blackhand brothers) BECAUSE CHAOS.

Now I've got a few ideas about how these problems could be fixed, but it's less a function of trying to improve Chronicle to account for them and more a function of just rewriting whole swaths of history so that the end result is just more cohesive.

Solutions
That being said, the simplest way to rectify the issues might go like this:

1) The conflict between Thunderaan and Ragnaros took place in the primordial lunacy that was happening on the surface of Azeroth before the Old Gods showed up. Since Demetrian is really the only source of this information, and because his story has already been turned upside-down by Chronicle's delineation of events, it's easy to write-off his story as an artifact of 2003's rushed worldbuilding and simply state that Thunderaan was Al'Akir's predecessor as Elemental Lord of Air. Ragnaros wanted to have him for dinner and decided to do so in such a way that it would bind Thunderaan's essence and prevent him from reconstituting as the elementals themselves knew they could do.

2) One way to rectify the World Pillar scenario requires a bit of explanation: essentially, taking the implications of the quests surrounding the World Pillar and the Temple of Earth at face value, the best explanation is that there was both a World Pillar and an elemental temple in each of the four elemental domains that protected it from tampering. The consequence of the World Pillar's failure was stated as "the realm collapses into Azeroth." Now, the Abyssal Maw appears to be directly accessible from the Shimmering Expanse near Vashj'ir, and Skywall appears to be directly accessible from the skies over Uldum, and the Firelands appear to be asserting themselves on the slopes of Mount Hyjal, but Deepholm doesn't appear anywhere one Azeroth itself to the same extent as the other realms. So what if Deathwing destroyed the other three World Pillars in those realms to cause them to collapse back into Azeroth? He does Deepholm last but does a shit job of it, which is why we're able to stitch it back together and prevent Deepholm from collapsing too.

3) I have no idea how to rectify Deathwing's relationship with these places, or even if it's possible, but how it sits right now just seems so incomplete. So much about the history of the dragon aspects and how they've been managed throughout the life of the franchise is so ludicrous to me that I don't really know if it CAN be rectified without just rewriting the whole thing.

... anyway, have at it. Being able to put the whole argument down on paper works a lot better for me than trying to do it ad hoc in Discord.
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:03 PM
Mutterscrawl Mutterscrawl is offline

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The description of the elementals warring with each other, and their ability to make portals like in the elemental incursions prior to Cata, make me wonder if they could open short term portals between each others planes to attack each other or something in that vein.
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:18 PM
ARM3481 ARM3481 is offline

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To be fair, the Pillar is rather notably located in the realm of the one Elemental Lord who's thoroughly disinterested in escaping and would likely aid in protecting it against the other three if they intruded upon Deepholm seeking to destroy it.

Therazane doesn't want to go back to Azeroth, and she doesn't want her fellow Elemental Lords invading her domain either. It's almost like the Elemental Plane was made with the intent that its willing prisoners would be compelled to preserve it against those who would seek to bust out.

One might recall Khaz'goroth's words to Neltharion: "But know that the earth is the basis of all things." Of the four elements, earth is what grounds and stabilizes the other three. It's the tangible, static barrier that locks them into their respective places. Fire rages and consumes, air storms and howls, and water crashes and flows, but it's the rigid earth that weathers the onslaught and holds them all back.

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Old 07-13-2017, 11:24 PM
Ethenil Ethenil is offline

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutterscrawl View Post
The description of the elementals warring with each other, and their ability to make portals like in the elemental incursions prior to Cata, make me wonder if they could open short term portals between each others planes to attack each other or something in that vein.
I don't think portals would be needed. There is only one Elemental Plane, divided in sections. The Skywall is literally above the landmass within which is Deepholm, surrounded by the ocean of the Abyssal Maw, all of which are above the Firelands down below.
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:01 AM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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Originally Posted by Ethenil View Post
I don't think portals would be needed. There is only one Elemental Plane, divided in sections. The Skywall is literally above the landmass within which is Deepholm, surrounded by the ocean of the Abyssal Maw, all of which are above the Firelands down below.
You gave this depiction in Discord, but I don't think the game really supports it. The Firelands appear to be landmasses floating in a red sky. The Maw doesn't really seem to be expressed in any part of the other realms.

I don't really think they're related to each other in the way you're describing unless you've got a source for it.
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:19 AM
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You all know the obvious answer: It's post-TBC Blizzard.
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:28 AM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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Originally Posted by Almed View Post
You all know the obvious answer: It's post-TBC Blizzard.
I'm sure you're referring to something specific, but I also think you're misunderstanding my remarks here:

I'm not saying "why did this happen, why is it so inconsistent" because I KNOW why it happened. Blizzard's writers string together a story to justify the vision that they develop in tandem with the designers and artists to create an expansion. The fact that the inconsistencies exist because is because Chris Metzen didn't go full Brandon Sanderson on his worldbuilding in 1999 and then spend the next 16 years bullying Team 2 into implementing it to match HIS desires. That's not how game development works.

So again, I understand WHY these inconsistencies exist. What I'm doing here is trying to find a way to justify past events given current knowledge. Numerous events in Cataclysm straight-up SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED based on how Chronicle sets things up, and while waiting for Chronicle Volume 4 to address that is a possibility, I felt like it warranted discussion.
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:39 AM
BaronGrackle BaronGrackle is offline

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What if the elemental plane prisons were not kept up?
Could they have been neglected for so long that decay, entropy, and transdimensional cosmic hoodoo caused the barriers to break down so that the elementals were eventually able to interact with each other again?

Could decay have opened a "rift" that leaked into Deepholm, so that Deepholm still had that influence?
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:33 AM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaronGrackle View Post
What if the elemental plane prisons were not kept up?
Could they have been neglected for so long that decay, entropy, and transdimensional cosmic hoodoo caused the barriers to break down so that the elementals were eventually able to interact with each other again?

Could decay have opened a "rift" that leaked into Deepholm, so that Deepholm still had that influence?
It's possible (we know the Keepers were all mostly neutralized by Loken and proceeded to do fuck-all for 10k years), but Demetrian's story gives the impression that Thunderaan's defeat wasn't a recent thing.

That's really the thing, though: Demetrian's story is the ONLY thing that relies upon the elemental realms being able to interact after they were imprisoned. The text is old and Demetrian isn't a reliable narrator, so it's hard to say that things definitively happened the way he describes.
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:48 AM
Ethenil Ethenil is offline

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Originally Posted by MisterCrow View Post
You gave this depiction in Discord, but I don't think the game really supports it. The Firelands appear to be landmasses floating in a red sky. The Maw doesn't really seem to be expressed in any part of the other realms.

I don't really think they're related to each other in the way you're describing unless you've got a source for it.
Apparently the source is the rpg, but it doesn't contradict anything. The Firelands' sky could look like that just because of the smokes and fumes and stuff.
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:19 PM
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The Firelands were going to be a giant lava lake, but the horizon line from the in-game draw distance made it look lame.

Deepholm was going to have portals to the other planes in the corners, but that didn't happen.

Ideas come and go. Maybe they are still one plane, maybe not.
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Old 07-14-2017, 02:06 PM
Ethenil Ethenil is offline

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Which is why this new tech they're using in Argus to make it look huge is amazing. Imagine seeing Deepholm, Skywall, the Firelands like this.

Imagine future places it might be included in, like underwater in Nazjatar.
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Old 07-14-2017, 06:13 PM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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Which is why this new tech they're using in Argus to make it look huge is amazing. Imagine seeing Deepholm, Skywall, the Firelands like this.

Imagine future places it might be included in, like underwater in Nazjatar.
What's interesting is that building a zone that has a skybox like this might make it more difficult for it to be one that's contiguous with other zones. It shows an evolution of design from how WoW was at the beginning, where minimizing loading screens between zones was a primary objective. In this case, having a loading screen into a zone like this pays off because of the breathtaking views, which would be hard to deliver on with the view distances as high as they are now.

I mean the Broken Isles is REALLY PRETTY but these skyboxes on Argus are just ART.
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:29 PM
Lon-ami Lon-ami is offline

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The Elemental Plane should have been established as the domain of the black dragonflight, much like the green rules over the Emerald Dream. The plot would be that Deathwing is trying to spill the elemental plane into Azeroth. We don't need to see him directly commanding the elemental lords.

The Elemental Plane itself should be its own new continent, with 4 zones (1 per element), distributed like:

* Outland, with floating isles of each element.
* Prison-bubbles for each element, kinda like Deepholm.
* Giant prison-bubble for all elements, like Deepholm as well. The elemental lords would be fighting each other constantly.

Both the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor would get 2 new zones each (the same ones we got with Cataclysm could work), that would be the merging point for each plane. There would be huge ass portals on each, and we would need to close them down.

Deathwing's final objective would be to restart Azeroth to cleanse it of corruption. So, he wouldn't be a pawn of the Old Gods, at least willingly/knowingly. Wrathion could be an intentional plan of Deathwing, too.

Old God presence would be reduced to a minimum, or appear as secondary villains. Same for the Twilight's Hammer. Deathwing would be eventually corrupted by the Old Gods, and we would need to kill him.
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