“Unto you is charged the great task of keeping the purity of time. Know that there is only one true timeline, though there are those who would have it otherwise.”
Alternate timelines (also referred to as alternate realities, alternate universes, or timeways) are alternate versions of the universe. There are an infinite number of separate alternate, possible timelines, creating the multiverse. Some are nearly identical, only differing in a few key events. Additionally, there are several methods of time travel that can alter the history of a universe's timeline. Bronze dragons exist to keep the main timeline inviolated and the order of events progressing as the fates intended.
- 1 Mechanics
- 2 Alternate universes
- 3 Altered timelines
- 4 Timeways
- 5 Notes and trivia
- 6 Warcraft film universe
- 7 See also
- 8 References
The flow of time
In all known realms of the cosmos, time flows forward, ever forward. Chaotic energies in places like the Twisting Nether can affect how quickly it flows, but it only flows forward.
Once an event happens, it cannot be changed. These events and choices, made up of all creatures and forces in the cosmos, join together like a river, sharing the same reality. Different choices and different possibilities naturally spin off the river of time like small creeks and estuaries, ebbing and flowing for a while. If these shades of what could have been are left alone, they will eventually dissipate into nothing. If efforts are made to preserve them (or alter them), they can indeed remain in existence indefinitely. They can even be made to feed back into the main river—dead creatures can seemingly "live again," and the past (or future) may literally come back to haunt you. This is not a natural phenomenon, and the inhabitants of the main timeway will often find these experiences to be quite alarming.
But the only timeway that has a permanent effect on the cosmos is the main timeway. Creatures like the bronze dragons, who have command of temporal magic, can see all the countless tributaries of alternate universes and timelines, and they can even move back and forth along the stream to observe the past and the future.
If that main river is disrupted, it could spell doom and disaster. All life on Azeroth depends on time to flow ever forward. Without the surety that the sun will rise and set each day, the seasons would not pass, the cycle of life would become meaningless, and all living creatures would eventually die from being unable to sustain themselves. It is the most sacred mission of the bronze dragonflight to keep that from happening.
Of Death and the Shadowlands
Lorekeeper: 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?
Steve Danuser: 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.
It is currently unknown how souls within alternative timeways that don't exist within the main timeway, such as Uther Menethil, those from an alternative timeline making their home in the main timeway, such as Overlord Geya'rah, or those from alternative timeways who became demons when their main timeway counterpart didn't function in this system.
Twilight of the Aspects
In this world, Thrall died as an infant while under the care of Tammis Foxton and his wife. As a result, Aedelas Blackmoore sobered up and raised an army of strong, loyal men. Blackmoore himself led the Battle of Blackrock Spire, killed Orgrim Doomhammer, and brought an end to the Second War. The orcs, rather than being put in internment camps, either became slaves to the people of Lordaeron or members of his private army. Any wild orcs had a very large bounty put on their heads. The Foxton family was not as successful - after failing to raise Thrall, Tammis was demoted to cleaning stables and eventually, he and his wife passed away.
Blackmoore returned triumphantly to Lordaeron and, in a swathe of destruction, he and his orcs killed several of the most stalwart defenders of humanity and dethroned the House of Menethil by killing Terenas Menethil. His army also killed Uther the Lightbringer and Anduin Lothar. He then became the self-proclaimed King of Lordaeron, assisted by his duplicitous chief advisor, Kel'Thuzad. He even had Doomhammer's plate reforged into a suit of armor for himself. Lordaeron's rightful prince, Arthas Menethil, fled southward with his wife and son to the kingdom of Stormwind, where Varian Wrynn took his old friend in. Despite the safety of Stormwind, Arthas and Varian fully intend to break Blackmoore's control over Lordaeron. Thus no Scourge, nor Forsaken were ever created and kingdoms like Dalaran and Quel'Thalas were not destroyed. However, Dalaran and Antonidas have severed ties with the chief advisor and their allegiance was more with Stormwind than Lordaeron. Similar to the standard timeline, Korialstrasz is consort to Alexstrasza (indicating she was liberated from the Dragonmaw clan) but still disguises himself as the Kirin Tor mage Krasus. He had a high elven apprentice named Devi.
At some point very recently, Blackmoore mysteriously vanished. The infinite dragonflight recruited him to enter the main timeline and kill Thrall before Thrall had a chance to stop the Hour of Twilight. When chasing the missing Aspect of the bronze dragonflight, Nozdormu, Thrall found himself in Hillsbrad Foothills] in this world, with Taretha Foxton threatening to sell him for the bounty on wild orcs. Thrall was able to convince Taretha of his identity, using a pendant that the Taretha from Thrall's memory had given to him. The two traveled to Dalaran and Krasus to gain answers on what was going on with the timeways. During their discussion, Thrall realized that time was an illusion and all that mattered was the single moment. Closing his eyes, the alternate timeline vanished before Thrall and he found himself facing Nozdormu.
Before entering the "Blackmoore's reality", Thrall met his parents in an alternate timeline.
When the time came to free Garrosh and escape to alternate Draenor, Kairoz summoned multiple alternate versions of Azeroth's heroes that fight their original counterparts, causing chaos in the Temple of the White Tiger and distracting everyone while the two make their escape. These counterparts came from alternate timelines including, but not limited to:
- A timeline in which Baine Bloodhoof murdered Garrosh and became Warchief of the Horde.
- A timeline in which Jaina Proudmoore used a tidal wave of water elementals to destroy Orgrimmar, resulting in a world war during which "everyone" died, leaving an insane Kalecgos as one of the few survivors.
- A timeline in which Varian Wrynn died unexpectedly and an unprepared, apprehensive Anduin Wrynn was coronated.
- A timeline in which Thrall did not rebel against Aedelas Blackmoore and became a general in his slave army.
- A timeline where things went "very bad", thus explaining alternate timeline Vol'jin's behavior.
Warlords of Draenor
An alternate timeline Draenor is the main setting of the Warlords of Draenor expansion. With the intent of gathering an army capable of defeating the Burning Legion, Kairozdormu used the to bring Garrosh Hellscream to this particular timeline because certain differences — such as Garrosh never being born and Ner'zhul's mate, Rulkan, surviving — were advantageous to his plan. Garrosh used his knowledge of the future to convince Grommash Hellscream to turn on Gul'dan, kill Mannoroth, and unite the orc clans into a technologically advanced Iron Horde. This Iron Horde then used a shard of the shattered Vision of Time to link their Dark Portal with the present day of the prime Azeroth in order to invade.
Prince Malchezaar has the ability to travel between alternate timelines, considering his quote "All realities, all dimensions are open to me!" This may explain why he has a version of the Gorehowl axe despite Thrall simultaneously having the one Grommash Hellscream used to kill Mannoroth. This is because the Burning Legion resides within the Twisting Nether which transcends all realities.
When the night elf Vandel was undergoing rituals to become a demon hunter, upon eating a demon's heart "he saw not just one universe but a near infinity of them, a complex fractal structure, where new worlds were born each minute from the decisions made a heartbeat before" and the Legion was destroying them all.
In an alternate future, King Mechagon activated the Mechoriginator reversing the Curse of Flesh from races of Azeroth. However, according to Christy Punchcog, his research was corrupted and his device flawed. The activation of the device ignited the skies and burned the flesh of most every living thing. Those with enough mechanization survived. Rustbolt is largely in ruins with most of its citizens slain after Bondo Bigblock sold them out in exchange for full mechanization. Izira Gearsworn and Christy Punchcog have survived, and Prince Erazmin was taken alive and fully mechanized. The goblin and gnome expedition parties on Prospectus Bay and Overspark Expedition Camp were turned into undead skeletons devoid of flesh.
Chromie sent an adventurer to this alternate Mechagon to scan the memory banks of the Clockwork Giants there, in order to use the data to ensure that reality does not occur. Likewise, the alternate Izira Gearsworn - who recognized that the adventurer was there due to a time anomaly - told the adventurer to deliver a to her main universe counterpart to also ensure that the Rustbolt Resistance could prevent the reality from coming to pass.
War of the Ancients
The events of the War of the Ancients were altered by the involvement of several time travelers from shortly after the Third War. While most of the major outcomes remained the same as before, some things were changed like the preservation of Blue dragon eggs, killing Hakkar the Houndmaster and Nordrassil being planted a thousand years earlier.
Due to the interference of the Infinite Dragonflight, Thrall's escape from Durnholde Keep has deviated slightly from how it originally occurred. Taretha Foxton was captured so she would be unable to create the diversion that allowed Thrall to escape. Instead, time-traveling adventurers from year 26 created the diversion, aided him in escaping, and freed Taretha from the Infinites. Taretha's and Thrall's memories of these events were subsequently altered so he would believe things occurred as they originally did.
One of an infinite number of potential outcomes, the End Time timeway depicts the desolate future of Azeroth should Deathwing fail to be stopped. Nozdormu has identified a powerful anomaly that exists in this moment and bars access to the past - and hope of retrieving the Demon Soul. The tormented echoes and his future self - Murozond - was attacked and killed. The timestrand of the End Time timeway was overwritten, giving Azeroth's protectors the opportunity to avoid this potential outcome. However, Nozdormu states that he will still fall to madness in the future.
Well of Eternity
The final moments of the War of the Ancients were disrupted once more when the adventurers and Nozdormu took the Demon Soul. After the death of Deathwing in the present era, the artifact was returned to its place in time.
The alternate universe of the Warlords of Draenor expansion already existed prior to Kairoz and Garrosh's arrival. However, their arrival 35 years into the past of this universe has changed the course of history for this timeline. As it was meant to unfold, Grommash drank Mannoroth's blood and made the orcs slaves of the Burning Legion.
- Should Azeroth's timeways come under attack, we must reconstruct history exactly as it happened, or the consequences could be dire.
The Caverns of Time act as a crossroads for the various tunnels called timeways, and through them, one can travel back and forth along the ebb and flow of time. They are infinite in numbers. Currently, there are at least 3 known timeways (the Escape from Durnholde Keep in Old Hillsbrad Foothills, Opening the Dark Portal in Black Morass and the Culling of Stratholme) marked as 'trouble spots' that are under the attack of the Infinite dragonflight and that the Keepers of Time were trying to preserve. They accepted the help of the mortals from the ranks of the Horde and Alliance. The malicious flight's goal is to destroy the true timeway. The master of the Infinite dragonflight tasked Aeonus to oversee the disruption of key moments in the true timeway. The Caverns' timeways were protected and its participants' memories were restored so the timelines continue as normal.
The Caverns also have a timeway portal to Battle for Mount Hyjal and it was initially hinted that the place is under the attack of the Infinite dragonflight but the dragons had no presence there.
During the Cataclysm era, Thrall was tossed to one timeway and materialized in Hillsbrad during the Year 0 of a timeway branch. which began his journey through realities in order to find the missing Aspect of Time. In the novel, it seems that the term timeway was used in meaning of a reality / universe. The timeway branch was later referred to as "...in one of the alternate histories of a malfunctioning timeway".
Krasus believed that Thrall from the true timeway wasn't destined to be killed by Aedelas Blackmoore from a completely different timeway. If he succeeded, all timeways would fall apart. Nozdormu was lost in the timeways because he was searching of how he would become the leader of the infinite dragonflight.
During the war against Deathwing, another timeways appeared in the Caverns - the End Time and Well of Eternity (which was blocked by the first one). Alurmi archived its events. The maddened echoes (Sylvanas, Baine, Jaina and Tyrande) spawned from the timeways that Murozond (Nozdormu tricked by the Old Gods in the future) shattered.
Kairozdormu created the artifact and had the essences of the Timeless Isle's creatures collected. He speculated that the isle moved from one timeway to another. The artifact allowed him to see through the timeways various visions - in Orgrimmar, Stormwind, Pandaria and the Caverns of Time. When he saw the vision of Soridormi, he wasn't sure if this takes place in this timeway.
Around the time of the Invasion on Pandaria, timeways were in flux. Nozdormu no longer had control over them and stated that it is now the duty of Azeroth's races to deal with them. Around that time, the mortals and the bronze dragons allied and formed the group Timewalkers. The bronze dragons can still travel through the timeways but they no longer have knowledge about them. Some dragons believe that they should use their remaining power to manipulate them. During the trial of Garrosh Hellscream, the former Warchief of the Horde escaped with the help of Kairozdormu, who spent his whole life studying them, through a timeway portal and materialized in an alternate Draenor.
At some point in the future, Nozdormu will shatter the timeways and begin to live outside of time as the corrupted dragon Murozond.
Notes and trivia
- Some pocket dimensions have the timeway altered.
- Chromie, when in Andorhal, worked from a different timeline.
- Though the developers have recently been using "timeline" and "timeway" interchangeably, they actually mean different things.
Warcraft film universe
- Main article: Warcraft film universe
Founded around the 2016 film Warcraft, the film universe is shared by the prequel comic Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood and prequel novel Warcraft: Durotan, and is expected to be used for any future film sequels or literature.
Notably, the film universe does not appear to be simply a different timeline, created by a deviation in key historical events, but rather a subtle reimagining of the main universe, with some contradictions best explained by the unavoidable practicalities of producing a successful film. Director Duncan Jones explains the main reasons for making such changes are to resolve contradictions; to simplify and streamline; for brevity; and on occasion to make things cooler.
- ^ Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, pg. 286
- ^ War Crimes
- ^ Metzen on lore
- ^ a b Afrasiabi on Twitter
- ^ Prophet's Lesson
- ^ a b Alex Afrasiabi on Warlords, Garrosh, and alternate Azeroth
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3
- ^ a b World of Warcraft: Illidan, chapter 9
- ^ a b c Hellscream
- ^ Bashiok
- ^ "Brood of Nozdormu" (HTML). Official World of Warcraft Community Site. Retrieved on 2008-05-14.
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 132
- ^ Ezgi Pajecki 2020-09-26. Maldraxxus, Shadowlands and Beyond - Interview with Steve Danuser. Lorekeeper. Archived from the original on 2020-09-27.
- ^ Christie Golden on Twitter (2014-08-22)
- ^ War Crimes, chapter 7: "...The joy of "meeting" his parents in one of the alternate histories of a malfunctioning timeway, and the heart-cracking anguish of being forced to watch them die..."
- ^ Christie Golden on Twitter
- ^ World of Warcraft: Illidan, chapter 14
- ^ Ultimate Visual Guide
- ^ a b
- ^ Patch 4.3 Dungeons Preview, Part One: End Time
- ^ Murozond#Quotes
- ^ Nozdormu's quote text after Deathwing's death
- ^ Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, chapter 2
- ^ Aeonus#Dungeon Journal
- ^ Christie Golden on Twitter
- ^ Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects
- ^ "So he had existed in this timeway - but had died in infancy... In another timeway, as I told you, I survived..."
- ^ War Crimes, chapter 7
- ^ Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, chapter 11
- ^ Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, chapter 12
- ^ Murozond#Dungeon Journal
- ^ Echo of Sylvanas#Dungeon Journal
- ^ a b
- ^ Dawn of the Aspects
- ^ Dave Kosak on Twitter
- ^ War Crimes, chapter 37 & epilogue
- ^ Murozond#Adventure Guide
- ^ Sean Copeland on Twitter (2014-08-23). Archived from the original on 2014-11-12.
- ^ Neilson on Twitter
- ^ Gizmodo - Director Duncan Jones Answers All Your Burning Questions About the Warcraft Movie