Lore in the Warcraft series of games is a term used for "background story". The use of the term stems from Blizzard's snippets of "lore" for many of the multiplayer maps in their Warcraft RTS games, although how much of it has a relationship to the main Warcraft universe storyline is unclear.
What is "canon" lore?
Canon is a term oft-used to refer to official lore, specifically the fictional accounts in the Warcraft universe. It is used to define which lore should be considered a genuine part of the universe's history.
The Warcraft 'canon' comprises those works and sources of information considered to be authoritative and representative of the 'true' or official history of the Warcraft universe. Therefore, 'canon' or 'canonical' lore is that which is part of this body of work, and is thus considered part of the true history of the Warcraft universe.
In contrast, 'non-canon' information, while often containing characters and depicting events from canon sources, is not necessarily a reliable source of official information regarding the Warcraft universe. An example of non-canon lore might be a piece of fan fiction which introduces new characters or events, or expands upon the background of a known character such as Thrall.
Characters, events and items from non-canon sources do not necessarily exist in the official Warcraft universe. Non-canon versions of known events may differ substantially from official sources. Non-canon sources frequently feature characters from canon lore, but their exploits in these sources are not considered canon.
Note that even canon lore is sometimes contradictory (or retconned), often representing the beliefs or perspectives of an individual or group, rather than any absolute truth. Nonetheless, the beliefs themselves can be considered a genuine part of the Warcraft universe as flavor lore, regardless of their accuracy.
Which sources are canon and non-canon?
- Everything released by Blizzard except mods and the table-top RPG is considered canon. This includes games, novels, short stories, manga, and comics as well as trailers and cinematics. Warcraft Encyclopedia, History of Warcraft, game manuals and original Warcraft RTS games are also considered canon but in some cases they are overwritten or modified by novels (i.e. history of eredar retconned in Rise of the Horde, War of the Ancients and its aftermath slightly altered by the time-travel in the novel, Dawn of the Aspects revealing the true history of the Aspects instead of a legend told in a History chapter, and Tides of Darkness with Beyond the Dark Portal setting a canon line of events for the first RTS games which had two versions of the ending).
- The current history of Warcraft was slightly retconned by the WoW Chronicle series.
- No longer available quests that were not replaced by new information should be canon.
- As Warcraft Adventures was never released, its story and information are non-canon.
- While not officially confirmed by Blizzard, the multiplayer RTS maps (such as Griffon's Roost, Brokenrock Mountains and Beetle Island) are probably non-canon.
- Alex Afrasiabi clarified that Med'an as a character, as well as the comic book series, is canon. Only Med'an becoming the Guardian is considered non-canon.
- Though originally considered to be part of lore, Blizzard has stated that the sourcebooks for the Warcraft RPG are not considered canon by default.
- They were created to provide an engaging table-top role-playing experience, which sometimes required diverging from the established video game canon. Blizzard helped generate a great deal of the content within the RPG books, so there will be times when ideas from the RPG will make their way into the game and official lore, but unless otherwise stated, an element from the RPG is not canon.
- "When something goes out the door at Blizzard—in a game, a novel, a manga, or anything other than mods or the table-top RPG—it's canon."
Trading Card Game
- Main article: World of Warcraft TCG lore
- While the artwork of some cards was overseen and sometimes edited with Blizzard's Creative Development department input, with Chris Metzen suggesting some of the cards and being particularly vigilant about the way named heroes were handled, Blizzard declared that the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game is not considered canon, and neither are its cards descriptions. Moreover, and contrary to Hearthstone, "there is no tie-in story for the TCG and it is not a mini-game within World of Warcraft".
- The Warcraft film and its related publications are similar in concept to the Ultimate Marvel line and are a separate continuity from the games because it is an alternative universe. That fact makes it canon in Lore terms, like the WoD universe and other alternative universes. Chris Metzen talked about this at BlizzCon 2013 and compared it with the canon of Marvel Comics' Ultimate line with the Warcraft Universe film, that makes the two universes canon but separated from the main universes.
- From an in-universe Warcraft perspective, Hearthstone is a magical card game played by many of Azeroth's denizens, containing its own colourful depictions and "tavern tales", constituting flavor lore.
- From an out-of-universe perspective, Hearthstone as a video-game is not canon to the lore of Warcraft, and it also may not accurately represent things as they really are, as it is more of a "what-if?" scenario and spin on Warcraft. However, if the World of Warcraft team wants to, they are able to take elements of Hearthstone and implement them into World of Warcraft, such as happened with Sir Finley Mrrgglton, making them canon.
- See also: Hearthstone lore
Heroes of the Storm
- Heroes of the Storm is not canon when it comes to the lore of World of Warcraft.
- The Heroes team does contact teams behind the respective franchises in order to obtain the most accurate source material regarding descriptions of various items and maps, but in terms of "canon" the Nexus is pretty loose, as they experiment with alternate realities and crossovers. Nexus lore should not be taken as die hard facts, but as more of a crazy "what-if?" universe.
World of Warcraft
The representation of the world in World of Warcraft is not entirely canon as Azeroth's scale had to be reduced for gameplay purposes. For example, Ironforge is a lot bigger than we see in the game. Similarly, Lordaeron is bigger in lore as evidenced in the Battle for Azeroth cinematic. The Chronicle series also offers a more accurate scale of the world, continents and islands, than the in-game world map; for instance, the Broken Isles are shown to be roughly the size of the Howling Fjord, and Kul Tiras is about the size of Gilneas, compared to the in-game map.
For example of continental size, Kalimdor in-game is about 20,920 yards, or roughly 19 kilometers long from the bottom of Uldum to the tip of Winterspring. When compared to Africa in real life, which is about 8,000 kilometers long, Kalimdor is a meager 0.002375% the size of Africa. As such, Kalimdor would be somewhere around 421 times longer in lore than it is in-game if the size of Azeroth is comparable to Earth and Kalimdor to Africa.
Dungeons, quests, mobs and other
Sometimes, player actions in dungeons are not taken into consideration, as observed in the story of Blackfathom Deeps. Despite the fact that the players / adventurers killed its inhabitants, when the dungeon was updated, it was stated that the inhabitants were killed by the new inhabitants instead of players / adventurers. Another example may be seen in the Dagran Thaurissan encounter where players from both factions killed the Emperor, but The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm established that Dagran was killed by the Alliance agents. Another one may be seen in the original Scarlet Monastery dungeon with the Ashbringer event which were made non-canon as they were retconned by the Ashbringer comic.
Several quests and quest lines become non-canon and retconned when overwritten by a later source of lore such as the ending of the Onyxia questline (originally available since Vanilla) being replaced by the story of The Comic (happening between the events of The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King).
In several occasions, Cataclysm brought continuity errors, such as mobs being killed (their heads being brought to the quest givers) but remained alive after the revamp (such as the deaths of Weldon Barov and Alexi Barov). Sometimes, these "deaths" were explained as having evaded death and being just wounded as in case of Lieutenant Valorcall or Vanessa VanCleef.
The final cinematic of Warlords of Draenor doesn't seem to be entirely canon as Blizzard stated that Archimonde died in the Twisting Nether instead of at the Black Gate in Tanaan Jungle on alternate Draenor.
Although some easter eggs exist within the Diablo, Starcraft and Warcraft games, the Diablo and Warcraft lore is separate.
Wowpedia's position on canon lore
- Chris Metzen has stated that some things are less canon than others, but he wants everything as integrated as possible:
- ...yeah, the novels are pretty much considered canon, ahm, the funny thing is that some things are less canon, you know, but we shoot for canon... that's a strange statement... we shoot for canon... but yeah, typically the characters in novels are canon.
- A lot of times... depending on when one thing gets started during another, we happen to be in the middle of the game, or doing the manga thing for instance or this comic series specifically, we try to engineer as much inner play as possible. Like characters in the manga series showing up in Netherstorm and we are doing stuff like that, so we want to make everything feels as continuity friendly and as integrated as possible. Cause that would make it cool as if all its moving, right.
- Creative Development Blog explains some of the hazards of game writing:
- ...As more content is added to a given universe, by different teams, there is always the danger of unintentionally contradicting existing lore. But we have never intentionally done it. When something goes out the door at Blizzard—in a game, a novel, a manga, or anything other than mods or the table-top RPG—it's canon. This can be quite unwieldy; someone may have made a decision 12 years ago that was a well-reasoned, smart choice back then, but boxes us in today… but that's the hazard of game writing. We have to find a way to live with it and still tell our story.
- Sometimes there is an area where we haven't established exactly what happened, and we have room to define it at need. When we do this, some think that we've "retconned" it, but it's only retconning if we actively contradict known lore, not if we elaborate on something that was not defined.
While we cannot stop the use of the term "canon" in talk page discussions, the term is not allowed in articles. The only exceptions are when one is denoting RPG information, or when verifiable public quotes from actual first-party Blizzard employees (such as Chris Metzen) are allowed in articles, and then only if there are direct links to the sources of the quotes.
For more on Wowpedia's lore policy, see Wowpedia:Lore policy.
- ^ a b c d e StarCraft II Creative Development Q&A - Part 6 (2012-11-26). Retrieved on 2014-07-14.
- ^ Micky Neilson on Twitter (2014-06-15).
- ^ Micky Neilson on Twitter
- ^ Micky Neilson on Twitter
- ^ Alex Afrasiabi on Twitter (2016-11-06). Retrieved on 2016-11-06.
- ^ BlizzCon 2016 Q&A Panel
- ^ WoW -> Info -> Story. Archived from the original on 2007-12-06.
- ^ Micky Neilson on Twitter (2015-05-20)
- ^ Ask Creative Development -- Round II Answers (2011-06-23). Archived from the original on 2014-04-06.
- ^ Mike Sacco on Scrolls of Lore
- ^ Mike Sacco on Scrolls of Lore
- ^ Mike Sacco on Scrolls of Lore
- ^ Mike Sacco on Scrolls of Lore
- ^ Jeremy Feasel on Twitter (2016-11-28) - "Ah, gotcha, there was no tie-in story for the TCG, no, and not considered canon. ... if you're talking about the description on the card: nope."
- ^ Alex Afrasiabi Twitter (2017-01-13)
- ^ Alex Afrasiabi on Twitter (2017-01-12) - "if it's in WoW then it's canon. The TCG doesn't dictate what is canon in WoW. Sorry."
- ^ BlizzCon 2013 Movie Panel
- ^ Micky Neilson on Twitter (2015-07-10)
- ^ Micky Neilson on Twitter (2015-07-12)
- ^ Christie Golden on Twitter (2015-08-24)
- ^ Muffinus on Twitter (2017-11-27).
- ^ Muffinus on Twitter (2015-07-04).
- ^ Sixgamers on Reddit (2016-11-27)
- ^ Medievaldragon 2017-08-22. Gamescom 2017 World of Warcraft: Legion Patch 7.3 - BlizzPlanet interview with Ion Hazzikostas. Retrieved on 2017-09-01. “Heroes of the Storm, much like Hearthstone in many ways, is not canon when it comes to the lore of World of Warcraft.”
- ^ BlizzDev_PIGonzales on reddit (2016-09-14). Retrieved on 2017-09-08.
- ^ 2014 March 23 – "@Loreology How big is Ironforge lore wise? In game it’s just a small boring circle yet even Grim Batol which is ruined puts it to shame." "Lore-wise, it’s immense. Game size tends is not accurate lore-wise."
- ^ Jeremy Feasel on Twitter
- ^ a b Wow It's World of WarCraft podcast (35:06). DCComics (2007-07-28). Archived from the original on 2011-08-22.