|Faction/Affiliation||Old Gods' forces, Black Empire, Void lords|
|Racial capital||Y'Shaarj's temple city (destroyed)|
|Area(s)||Titanic prisons on Azeroth; numerous other worlds in the Great Dark|
“They do not die; they do not live. They are outside the cycle.”
Old Gods (also known as Shath'Yar in their own language, as well as various other names) are parasitic, eldritch horrors created by the void lords in order to find and corrupt slumbering titan world-souls. These immense mountains of flesh, physical manifestations of the Void, grow like cancers within the worlds of the Great Dark Beyond.
Four Old Gods — Y'Shaarj, C'Thun, Yogg-Saron and N'Zoth — ruled the planet of Azeroth during its primordial age, forming what would become known as the Black Empire. When the Pantheon arrived, they sent their armies, the titan-forged, to shatter the Old Gods' citadels and crumble their empire. Y'Shaarj, however, proved much too strong for the titan-forged to defeat, which prompted the titan leader Aman'Thul to reach down his arm and tear Y'Shaarj apart. This created a giant gaping wound in the planet's crust from which the arcane lifeblood of Azeroth, the nascent titan, was hemorrhaging.
Realizing that the Old Gods had embedded themselves too deep in the world's surface to be removed without destroying Azeroth itself, they instead decided to have the Old Gods imprisoned deep below the surface of the world to contain their evil forever. The Pantheon, in an attempt to study the eldritch monstrosities and find a solution to their existence, inadvertently created a fifth Old God, G'huun. It was subsequently sealed within the research facility of Uldir, now located on Zandalar.
Though incapacitated and, until recently, forgotten, the Old Gods still to this day influence the very people and events of Azeroth. Along with the Burning Legion, they are one of the most powerful and reoccurring threats found in the Warcraft series of games and books, especially during the Cataclysm where they attempted to bring about the end of the world, the Hour of Twilight.
N'Zoth was quite active and its servant, Queen Azshara, commanded even more naga attacks on the surface. After the last seal imprisoning G'huun was broken, it attempted to set itself free and became a potential world-ending threat.
With C'Thun and Yogg-Saron defeated, Y'Shaarj and G'huun deceased, and N'Zoth presumably gone as well, it is currently assumed that no Old Gods are active on Azeroth.
- 1 Known
- 2 History
- 2.1 Origins
- 2.2 The Black Empire
- 2.3 Early imprisonment
- 2.4 The fall of the Keepers
- 2.5 War of the Ancients
- 2.6 The birth of the Emerald Nightmare
- 2.7 War of the Shifting Sands
- 2.8 Recent history
- 2.9 World of Warcraft
- 2.10 Wrath of the Lich King
- 2.11 Stormrage
- 2.12 Cataclysm
- 2.13 Mists of Pandaria
- 2.14 War Crimes
- 2.15 Legion
- 2.16 Battle for Azeroth
- 3 Power and strength
- 4 Other names
- 5 Mortal worship
- 6 Quotes
- 7 In Hearthstone
- 8 Notes and trivia
- 9 Inspiration
- 10 Theories and speculation
- 11 Gallery
- 12 Videos
- 13 See also
- 14 References
The Old Gods' sole purpose is to corrupt a titan world-soul into a being of unimaginable evil, a "warped titan" or "dark titan". Should the Old Gods succeed, the warped titan would consume all matter and energy in the universe, bringing all of existence under the void lords' will.
- Main article: Y'Shaarj
Unlike the other Old Gods who were merely imprisoned, Y'Shaarj was ripped out of Azeroth and slain by the titans themselves. Its remains fell back on the land that would later become known as Pandaria and its essence, seeping into the soil, would spawn the sha. The titan-forged gathered its remains, notably the Heart of Y'Shaarj, which they placed under guard beneath the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. After the Aqir and Troll War, the aqir that settled in the surrounding regions where Y'Shaarj's essence still polluted the land were gradually transformed into a race called the mantid. Ages later, Garrosh Hellscream unearthed and managed to restore it using the magical pools of the Vale. Following the heart's excavation, the mantid, who worshipped Y'Shaarj, flew to Garrosh's side, with the Klaxxi paragons standing guard over the Old God's heart. After the heart's power was drained during the final confrontation with Garrosh at the end of the Siege of Orgrimmar, the last gasp of Y'Shaarj faded from existence.
The current primary goal of the Azerothian Old Gods is to escape their titanic prisons. Whereas in ancient times the Old Gods used to wage war against each other, Warlord Zon'ozz leading the armies of N'Zoth against the forces of C'Thun and Yogg-Saron, these three have now formed an alliance that the few mortals who have the knowledge call "the Three", destined to further their goals and influence the oblivious world. The Three were responsible for manipulating the events during the War of the Ancients Trilogy and the Hour of Twilight, but also for the corruption of Neltharion into Deathwing, or for the transformation of Azshara and her Highborne into naga.
- Main article: N'Zoth
N'Zoth was the first Old God to be neutralized by the titan-forged. It was imprisoned in an underground prison some distance west of Uldaman, but has since notably been responsible for the formidable growth of the Emerald Nightmare after its creation by Yogg-Saron. During the Cataclysm, N'Zoth was a driving force behind the actions of Deathwing. After being freed from its prison, N'Zoth ordered the Black Empire to claim the Forge of Origination and Engine of Nalak'sha in its goal to manifest Ny'alotha on Azeroth. Azeroth's champions invading Ny'alotha, the Waking City ultimately seemingly killed N'Zoth, with the forges he sought to claim being channeled into the .
- Main article: C'Thun
C'Thun followed after N'Zoth's fall and was sealed in the titan-forged research station of Ahn'Qiraj. After the Aqir and Troll War, many aqir settled within the confines of C'Thun's prison. The captive Old God's foul presence slowly warped the aqir's forms over time, molding them into a race known as the qiraji. 975 years ago, C'Thun sent its qiraji armies to ravage the world in the War of the Shifting Sands. Though they almost succeeded in conquering nearly the entirety of Kalimdor, the qiraji were defeated by the combined forces of the night elves and the dragonflights. They raised the Scarab Wall, an enchanted barrier that would contain the insectoids for centuries to come. Recently, Cho'gall and his Twilight's Hammer followers conducted a ritual to shatter the Old God's bonds. C'Thun awakened the thousands of qiraji and silithid laying dormant in Ahn'Qiraj and beneath Silithus, and rallied them for war. Though they almost conquered Silithus, the Alliance and the Horde combined their armies in a force called the Might of Kalimdor and defeated the Old God before it had time to regain its full strength.
- Main article: Yogg-Saron
Yogg-Saron, the last of the Three to fall, was imprisoned under the titan city of Ulduar in Northrend. Following the Aqir and Troll War, the aqir that settled near Yogg-Saron's underground prison gradually evolved into a race called the nerubians due to their proximity to the Old God. Their kingdom would become known as Azjol-Nerub. As the World Tree Andrassil grew, its roots pierced the prison of the Old God, granting him access to the Emerald Dream which it would share with his Old God kin. Over time, Yogg-Saron also managed to corrupt the Keepers who guarded Ulduar, and slowly broke through all but the last of its restraints. But thanks to the combined might of the Alliance and the Horde, aided by brave adventurers, the Keepers were freed, and together they defeated Yogg-Saron.
- Main article: G'huun
G'huun was an Old God born from the result of experiments by the titans. It was quite less powerful than the other Old Gods, but still represented a potentially world-ending threat to Azeroth. It was imprisoned within Uldir on the island of Zandalar. It was eventually killed by the combined forces of the adventurers and the defensive systems of Uldir.
Other Old Gods
- An unknown number of Old Gods were hurled into the Great Dark Beyond by the Void lords, and other Old Gods are active in the worlds beyond Azeroth.
- One unnamed world had become irredeemably infested by the Old Gods during the time of the Pantheon, leading to Sargeras destroying it. See Corruption of a world-soul.
- Other planets have been seen infected with Old Gods in-game. See Known unnamed worlds.
- A group of arakkoa known as the Dark Conclave attempted to call forth the Summoned Old God into Outland.
- Harbinger Skyriss yelled "We span the universe, as countless as the stars!" and A'dal stated that Skyriss' Old God masters sought to conquer all worlds in the universe.
- Some of the more outlandish theories regarding the creation of the sentient dagger known as Xal'atath claim that the blade is all that remains of a forgotten Old God who was consumed by its kin in the early days of the Black Empire.
- The Gods of Arak scroll mentions that Anzu would converse with "the gods of the abyss", and that he would find them "dull, witless creatures".
- A piece of artwork featured in Chronicle Volume 3 depicts the four known Azerothian Old Gods, in addition to a fifth creature in the top right corner.
From the moment the universe came to be, dark spirits within the Void sought to twist reality into a realm of endless torment and chaos. These void lords, envious of the Pantheon's power, pooled their power and created the Old Gods to exert their influence over a titan in its most vulnerable state: before it had awakened. Not knowing which planets contained titan world-souls, the void lords then hurled their creations out through the Great Dark Beyond, hoping that some would smash into a nascent titan. The Old Gods began contaminating mortal worlds and everything else they touched in their blind search for a world-soul.
Being creations of the shadowy void lords and physical manifestations of the Void, the old gods are deeply intertwined with the dark force, and can control it directly. Many mortal followers of the eldritch horrors make frequent use of shadow magic, and shadow priests who derive their power from the Void stray dangerously close to the domain of the Old Gods. The ritual dagger known as Xal'atath was used by dark priests of the Black Empire at its height.
The Black Empire
Long ago, the world of Azeroth became threatened by a group of Old Gods. These entities of chaos and destruction wreaked havoc on the world. Plummeting down from the Great Dark Beyond, C'Thun, Yogg-Saron, N'Zoth, and Y'Shaarj slammed into Azeroth's surface, embedding themselves in various locations of the world. A miasma of despair soon enveloped everything that lay in their writhing shadows as they spread their corruptive influence across the land, all the while sending their tendrils down through the world's crust, towards the planet's defenseless world-soul. Two races, the n'raqi (or "faceless ones") and the aqir, arose from the organic matter that seeped from the Old Gods' massive bodies, becoming fanatically loyal servants that built great citadels and temple cities around the colossal forms of their masters. The greatest of these structures was built around Y'Shaarj, the most powerful of the Old Gods, and the holdings of the Old Ones would soon spread over Azeroth, eventually forming the Black Empire. When they arrived, the Old Gods enslaved the elementals that had once raged freely on primordial Azeroth, though not before a brutal war in which the four Elemental Lords, who had previously been bitter rivals of one another, banded together in an attempt to fight the Old Gods' fledgling empire. Though the elementals were mighty, they could not stand against the constant swarm of n'raqi and aqir. Without the native spirits of Azeroth to counter the Old Gods' influence, the borders of the Black Empire crept over much of the world. As perpetual twilight descended, the world spiraled into an abyss of death and suffering.
Ragnaros, Neptulon, Al'Akir, and Therazane, having now been enslaved by the Old Ones, led their respective armies in an eternal conflict that ravaged the world to no end. Meanwhile, the n'raqi servants of the Old God N'Zoth raged war with the combined forces of C'Thun and Yogg-Saron.
During their journey across the cosmos, the titans eventually made their way to Azeroth and encountered the elementals, who vowed to drive the Pantheon back in the name of their dark masters. Upon discovering the deep and insatiable hunger for destruction in the Old Gods and seeing them as immensely evil, the titans initiated a war with them. Fearing that their enormous forms would severely harm or even kill Azeroth's world-soul — the most powerful one yet encountered by the Pantheon — the titans instead created mighty servants to do battle in their stead. Known as the titan-forged, these beings waged war against the elemental servants of the Old Gods, eventually managing to defeat them and seal them within the newly-created Elemental Plane. Once the titan-forged started to make their way towards the bastion of Y'Shaarj, however, the titans feared that their servants would not be able to stand against the Old God's might. Thus, Aman'Thul, the Highfather himself, reached down through Azeroth's skies and heaved Y'Shaarj from the surface of the world. The Old God was instantly ripped apart, but in the wake of its death, the lifeblood of Azeroth's world-soul rushed to the surface in a great wound later known as the Well of Eternity. The Pantheon realized that the Old Gods had burrowed too deep to be excised from Azeroth without killing the nascent titan, and so they ordered their servants to instead imprison the vile gods, rather than killing them. The campaign of the titan-forged to contain the remaining three was long and brutal, but eventually they succeeded in containing the Old Ones below the surface of the world.
C'Thun was bound within the great fortress of Ahn'Qiraj, located closely to the titan-forged stronghold of Uldum, and N'Zoth was imprisoned in a similar way, though it is not known exactly where (possibly deep below Azeroth's oceans). Yogg-Saron was the last Old God to be imprisoned, even unleashing its enormous C'Thraxxi generals in an attempt to halt the advance of the titan-forged, but eventually it was bound beneath the titan city of Ulduar under the watch of six keepers.
- Main article: Curse of Flesh
Due to the influence of Yogg-Saron and the other Old Gods, the earthen, one of the many races created by the titans, began to succumb to the Curse of Flesh. The same thing happened to the mechagnomes, tol'vir, mogu and vrykul, eventually resulting in their fleshy bodies, as opposed to their original stone composition or metal design. The vrykul, who had originally had iron skin, also began producing a smaller and weaker mutation of themselves. The Old Gods had presumably intended to subvert the titans' work from within, and to a great extent they succeeded; the titans were loath to unmake the world except as a last resort. Thus, many of the mortal races of Azeroth had their nature suspended between order and chaos, between their titanic birth and their Old God-originating corruption.
- Main article: Dragon Aspects
Knowing that they would soon depart a world full of deep corruption, the titans took several measures to contain it as much as possible. The Keepers created earthen to inhabit specific areas they had sealed off, and the Keeper Odyn was made Prime Designate of Azeroth. Through the keepers, they also created the five Dragon Aspects, designed to watch over and protect the world in their absence.
The great Galakrond, a monstrous proto-dragon who rampaged through what would later become known as Northrend, and who was stopped by Keeper Tyr and the future Dragon Aspects, was hinted to have been manipulated by the Old Gods. Though the Aspects were usually vital allies of the mortal races, Neltharion's affinity with the depths of the world would eventually prove to be his undoing.
The fall of the Keepers
After an affair with Keeper Thorim's wife Sif, Keeper Loken's guilt and fear made him susceptible to Yogg-Saron's corruption. Under its influence, he killed Sif, and blamed Arngrim of the frost giants, resulting in a war between the frost giants and Thorim. Loken then stopped it with his own army from the Forge of Wills. This army was infected with the curse of flesh that Yogg-Saron had designed, and which began to spread rapidly through the titan-forged races. Afterwards, Thorim retreated to his throne and fell into a depressed stupor that would last millennia.
Driven further to desperation and madness by his own actions, and fear of reprisal by Algalon the Observer or the Pantheon, Loken began to willingly bow to Yogg-Saron's power, hoping to use it to selfishly save his own skin. He murdered Keeper Mimiron, who was about to find out the truth about Loken, though the mechagnomes transferred Mimiron's consciousness into a new mechanical body. With the power of Yogg-Saron, Loken was able to ensorcell Keeper Hodir and Keeper Freya into complacency. Loken then convinced Helya, the first Val'kyr, to seal off the Halls of Valor and managed to imprison Odyn and the Valarjar within. The last threat remaining was the constellar Algalon. Loken modified Ulduar's systems and appointed himself as the new Prime Designate, giving himself control over the titans' alert systems, and damaged these to prevent anyone else from calling Algalon.
Highkeeper Ra, who had found out about the Pantheon's deaths, was driven into despair by the loss of his creators and locked himself away from the world. The remaining Keepers, Tyr and Archaedas, gathered earthen, mechagnomes, vrykul and a watcher named Ironaya, and led an exodus to the south to escape Loken's wrath. They also stole the Discs of Norgannon, which had recorded the history of all the events that had unfolded, hoping to show them to the titans. Loken sent two of Yogg-Saron's C'Thraxxi minions to stop them, but Tyr sacrificed himself to allow the group to escape. The vrykul remained behind to honor the Keeper at his side of death, while Archaedas successfully led the rest to refuge within Uldaman where they secured the Discs and entered hibernation.
To maintain its hold on the Keepers in Northrend, Loken included, Yogg-Saron kept them all complacent and dormant within Ulduar, content to maintain the victory it had accomplished instead of risking losing it by overextending itself.
War of the Ancients
- Main article: War of the Ancients
10,000 years ago Queen Azshara and her Highborne wanted to open a portal for Sargeras powerful enough for him to manifest in his full glory. In turn, Alexstrasza contacted each of her fellow aspects. It was one of the most respected of these dragons, the black dragonflight's leader Neltharion the Earth-Warder who proposed a plan should the worst truly be coming to pass. Alongside his old friend Malygos, Neltharion proposed that a simple golden disc, imbued with the power of each of the Aspects in turn, could be created that would be so powerful that no force on Azeroth or indeed even from outside could possibly stand against it. Should all these strange portents really be true, dragonkin would be ready. Convinced by Neltharion's arguments, the other aspects agreed and the Dragon Soul was created.
Unknown by the other Aspects Neltharion had found himself intrigued by the whispers of the Old Gods pinned within the very earth he was assigned to watch over for an untold time. These entities knew full well who Sargeras was and what his appearance signified for Azeroth. Having worked over the course of thousands of years to subjugate Neltharion, they now sought to make use of their newest and most powerful weapon. The Old Ones wanted to divert the power of Sargeras' portal to themselves and crack Azeroth open and after eons of imprisonment, they would be free. However, Illidan Stormrage gained the Dragon Soul and used it alongside his brother Malfurion Stormrage to close the portal, unknowingly preventing the release of the Old Gods.
10,000 years later the Old Gods invaded Nozdormu's realm and managed to open a rift in time, that, as they had planned, tossed some beings back through time, beings that would change the way the War of the Ancients took place, and give Sargeras a new chance to enter the world, and therefore give them a new chance to set themselves free. Their plans were although crushed again by Krasus, Rhonin and Broxigar, who were sent back by Nozdormu in time. This was a backup plan from the Old Gods' initial attempt to rip time apart and change history so they were never imprisoned in the first place, which was blocked by Nozdormu with great effort.
The birth of the Emerald Nightmare
4,500 years before the First War, an eerie greenish ore began to emerge across Azeroth. The ore, which would one day be named saronite, was extremely troubling to the night elves, particularly its dark properties and abrupt appearance. They sought to contain the outbreak, and the druid Fandral Staghelm conceived a plan to use branches of Nordrassil, the World Tree, to accomplish this. He planted the branches across the world, particularly focusing on a large deposit in the Grizzly Hills in Northrend. The branches grew into trees, which seemed to successfully contain the substance, and the tree in Northrend grew into a World Tree in its own right. Fandral named this tree Andrassil, or "Crown of the Snow".
For a time Andrassil flourished. But its roots ran too deep, touching Yogg-Saron's prison. It drove the native taunka and forest nymphs of Northrend to violence and bloodthirst, and the Cenarion Circle realized that Andrassil itself had become corrupted. To stop the corruption's spread, they destroyed the tree and renamed it Vordrassil.
The full extent of the damage to Azeroth caused by Andrassil would not become apparent for many many years. Unknown to the druids, Yogg-Saron's contact with a World Tree had allowed it access to the Emerald Dream. It spread this access to its fellow Old Gods, with N'Zoth taking particular interest in corrupting this new front. And so the Emerald Nightmare was born.
War of the Shifting Sands
- Main article: War of the Shifting Sands
Over vast stretches of time, C'Thun sought to subvert and corrupt. Its qiraji would come to C'Thun and conquer for it the titan complex that lies today in the sands of Silithus, the fortress temple of Ahn'Qiraj. C'Thun waited, until at last its forces had grown strong enough to contest the hated kaldorei for dominion over Kalimdor itself. Thus began the War of the Shifting Sands, which would see corrupted titan creations like the tol'vir battle side by side with silithid hordes and qiraji leaders to push the night elves out of Kalimdor. C'Thun's plan nearly succeeded. At first, the night elves held fast and defeated the qiraji in several battles, thanks to the brilliant leadership of the archdruid Fandral Staghelm. Following his son's death, the kaldorei were driven out of Silithus by the qiraji, and victory for C'Thun seemed nigh. But the combined forces of night elves and the bronze, green, red and blue dragonflight drove the frenzied qiraji back. But neither could those forces hope to win out against the Old God itself in its den. Rather than risk such an apocalyptic conflict, a solution was enacted that sealed the qiraji and C'Thun up inside their very fortress, the city complex of Ahn'Qiraj itself, by a magical barrier called "the Scarab Wall". Fandral Staghelm, entrusted with the Scepter of the Shifting Sands used to seal Ahn'Qiraj, shattered it out of bitterness over the death of his son.
|This section is a lore stub.|
After their defeat on the Broken Isles during the Second War, Cho'gall and his surviving minions of the Twilight's Hammer sailed west to the mysterious continent of Kalimdor, drawn in by the whispers of the Old Gods. They were followed by Garona, who was eager to hunt out the last members of the Shadow Council.
In the aftermath of the Third War, the Old Gods noticed Illidan and his hunger for power intrigued them. Illidan cast a powerful spell to summon the naga and they answered. A group led by Lady Vashj pledged themselves to him. They did not come because of their shared history, nor did they respect his demonic power. They came because the Old Gods willed it. They were aware that his quest to destroy the Lich King could spark a new war on Azeroth, one that would envelop the undead, demons and world's nations. With this chaos, Cho'gall and his cultists could awaken the Old Gods relatively unopposed. They saw Illidan as useful in this regard, and they were confident that he could bring a new age of conflict. The Old Gods sent the naga to aid him in his campaign against the Lich King. If the former elf became troublesome, they could order the naga to cut out his fel-corrupted heart.
World of Warcraft
The world of Azeroth, at large, first experienced the might of an Old God when C'Thun began to find ways to get qiraji past the Scarab Wall. This was noticed by the bronze dragon Anachronos who marshaled the Alliance and Horde to deal with the threat the Old God posed. After much preparation, the Scarab Wall was opened, and the Might of Kalimdor was forced to face the qiraji army. Ultimately the combined Alliance and Horde forces succeeded in pushing the qiraji back into the city, after which Alliance adventurers ventured into the city itself and toppled the qiraji leadership, and defeated C'Thun itself.
Wrath of the Lich King
Shortly before the War in Northrend, Cho'gall entered Ulduar and sabotaged Yogg-Saron's prison. With a greater amount of its power restored, Yogg-Saron swiftly cemented its grip on the Keepers, including Loken who had resided in Ulduar's Halls of Lightning. Now fully under the Old God's sway, Loken sought to free Yogg-Saron completely. To this end he used the Forge of Wills to create his own personal army made of iron, fashioned as a mockery of the earthen, vrykul and giants.
The irons came into conflict with the invading Alliance and Horde forces who had come to destroy the Lich King and his Scourge. During the course of this conflict, Loken was able to enslave Thorim as well but was killed some time later by adventurers. This set off Algalon's alert systems, while Yogg-Saron's power reached a peak, leading Brann Bronzebeard to alert the Alliance and Horde in Dalaran of the dire situation in Ulduar. Adventurers were sent into Ulduar to deal with the disaster, and during the course of their assault they freed the Keepers and defeated Yogg-Saron, forcing it back into dormancy.
After the War in Northrend, the world of Azeroth became seized by an endless, cursed slumber. This state was brought on by a power within the Emerald Nightmare, and Malfurion Stormrage led a group to discover just what that power was. What they ultimately discovered was that the satyr Xavius, Malfurion's ancient nemesis, had been transformed by the Old Gods into the monstrous Nightmare Lord. Xavius sought to merge the Emerald Nightmare with Azeroth and thus gain control of both. Malfurion was able to stop his plans, and together with a group of his closest friends and allies, killed the satyr. The Nightmare retreated into the Rift of Aln, but Malfurion sensed great darkness within and realized Xavius had merely been a pawn to a much darker entity. Unable to purge the Nightmare within the Rift, and realizing they were needed elsewhere, Malfurion and Tyrande sealed off the area around the Rift, imprisoning Xavius' spirit within. They agreed that this matter would need to be dealt with another time.
Nozdormu revealed that the Old Gods caused much of the suffering the Aspects experienced. The madness of Malygos and Deathwing, the Emerald Dream turned into a Nightmare, the altering of the timeways, the attack of the twilight dragonflight, the construction of a monster out of alternate Aedelas Blackmoore, and the Twilight Cult were all intertwined into a dreadful conspiracy of the Old Gods to destroy the Aspects and the dragonflights forever, and with it all chance of order and stability. The Aspects were shocked by this.
Mists of Pandaria
When Warchief Garrosh Hellscream launched the Alliance and Horde into war, their conflict brought accompanying adventurers to the shores of the hidden land of Pandaria. There the Alliance and Horde forces discovered a strange corruption known as sha that fed off negative emotions. Though believed to be tied to the land's last ruler, Shaohao, and his attempts to save his people from the Burning Legion and the Great Sundering, the true source of this corruption was not fully known at first.
As the war in Pandaria dragged on, Garrosh grew increasingly desperate to win and descended further into bloodlust and megalomania. To this end he had the Bilgewater Cartel excavate the Vale of Eternal Blossoms in search of a mysterious artifact. What they found was the still-beating heart of the deceased Old God Y'Shaarj itself; the true source of the Sha. Garrosh's lieutenant Malkorok claimed this terrifying relic for the Horde, and a short time later Garrosh used the waters of the Vale to fully rejuvenate the Heart. He then took the Heart with him to his new base, the Underhold, and hung it in his throne room. Garrosh intended to use the Heart to power his new organization, the True Horde, after it showed him a vision of his conquest of Azeroth using its power. Using the Heart he transformed Malkorok into a twisted dire orc and forged a new axe for himself.
The Alliance and Horde, working together and led by a group of adventurers, laid siege to Orgrimmar to stop him. The adventurers were able to fight through the Underhold to confront Garrosh directly. During the battle with him, he drained the Heart's power in a desperate attempt to achieve victory. Even this act was not enough, and Garrosh was defeated, with the power of Y'Shaarj draining away and leaving nothing but a Fading Breath that soon vanished from existence.
When an alternate version of Gul'dan traveled to Azeroth and ushered in a third invasion by the Burning Legion, Azeroth's defenders became desperate for anything that could help stop them. While an adventurer traveled with Khadgar and Brann to Ulduar as part of this search, they discovered that Yogg-Saron's influence still haunted Ulduar, though not enough to be anything more than a minor threat.
The newly formed Class Orders sent their greatest champion, and eventual leaders, to find ancient and powerful artifacts to use as weapons against the Legion. Some of these involved fighting ancient forces of the Old Gods. Of note, the dark blade Xal'atath was recovered during this period by the Conclave.
During the course of the Burning Legion's invasion, they received help from the resurgent Emerald Nightmare, which had successfully begun beyond the Rift of Aln once more. Leading the Nightmare was a resurrected Xavius, the Nightmare Lord, and under his control large parts of the Dream had already fallen to corruption; including the Dream's versions of Mulgore, Grizzly Hills, Un'Goro Crater, and Moonglade. While Xavius worked to aid the Legion, he and the Nightmare were still firmly under the control of the Old Gods. They seemingly aided the Legion as they delighted in the chaos the demons caused and hoped to keep their mutual enemies' attention focused on the Legion, allowing the Old Gods to work their manipulations in the background.
Ultimately Xavius was killed once more, this time in the Rift of Aln, and the Nightmare dissipated almost completely. However a small Remnant of the Void indicated that it still had not been completely destroyed.
Battle for Azeroth
|This section is a lore stub.|
After the Legion's defeat and the Alliance and Horde breaking out into open war, the Old Gods, particularly N'Zoth, sought to take complete advantage of the situation.
On Kul Tiras, N'Zoth and Azshara worked to corrupt the tidesages, transforming them into k'thir. In Drustvar, the Alliance emissary discovered an ancient power being used by the Heartsbane Coven that drew from a mysterious death realm called Thros. Unknown to them, this was an offshoot of the Emerald Nightmare.
Meanwhile, on Zandalar, the artificial Old God G'huun had forged a pact with the troll prophet Zul to escape its imprisonment in Uldir. In return, G'huun would become the loa of Zul's new troll empire. A C'Thrax named Mythrax was also resurrected, thanks to the hunger for power of the sethrak Korthek and his troll ally Jakra'zet. G'huun's forces sought to destroy the seals keeping it imprisoned in Uldir. Zul and Mythrax were ultimately successful in this, leading a massive army of G'huun's zealous blood troll worshippers in an attack on Dazar'alor. Though Zul was slain in the assault, Mythrax was able to launch an attack on the seal in Dazar'alor and destroy it.
Afterwards, G'huun's influence began to rapidly spread through the Shadowlands, corrupting spirits and throwing the plane into turmoil. When the Zandalari princess Talanji, the Horde emissary, Rokhan, and Master Gadrin discovered this from the spirit of Vol'jin, they decided the time to assault Uldir and put a stop to G'huun was now. A group of Horde adventurers, led by Talanji, descended into the depths of the titan complex and successfully defeated the so-called Blood God. To prove to the Zandalari that the monstrosity was dead, Vol'jin's glaive was dipped in its blood.
Power and strength
“For I bear allegiance to powers untouched by time, unmoved by fate. No force on this world or beyond harbors the strength to bend our knee. Not even the mighty Legion.”
- Based on ancient tales, Krasus incorrectly believed that should the Old Gods open the gates of their prison, even the titan Sargeras would find himself pleading for the peace of death. Krasus further thought that the Aspects were the most powerful creatures on all the mortal plane, so all five of the Aspects combined would represent a force capable of defeating the elder beings.
- However, Sargeras and Aman'Thul both demonstrated the ability to kill Old Gods with ease, mostly by taking advantage of their significant size difference. Sargeras killed numerous Old Gods simultaneously with a single stroke of his sword, destroying a nameless world-soul infested with Old Gods. Aman'Thul killed the most powerful of the Old Gods on Azeroth, Y'Shaarj, by tearing him from the surface of the planet. In doing so, he inadvertently wounded the sleeping world-soul due to how deeply Y'Shaarj had burrowed into the planet's crust. Though the titans could have easily destroyed the rest of the Old Gods in a similar fashion, it was avoided so as to not damage Azeroth any further.
- On the other hand, the Old Gods of Azeroth don't seem particularly concerned with the Legion or Sargeras, and Star Augur Etraeus considers the 'avatars of non-existence' to be the 'true horror of our reality'. While they may not be as strong as titans, they should not be underestimated.
One of the Old Gods' most notable abilities is their psychic power, being able to mentally twist the thoughts of most beings and take full control of them. Entire armies of titan-forged would turn against themselves under the influence of the Old Gods, and even the weakest of the Old Gods was able to completely corrupt one of the strongest of the Keepers. Even confined, their mental abilities can reach out to nearly anything around them in the form of dark whispers.
Old Gods have also immense power over Void and twilight magic and can spread a seeping miasma from their bodies. Their corruption is strong enough to transform a pure world-soul into a twisted abomination. They are so confident in their corruption that Xal'atath stated all things could be corrupted, and are willing to wait millennia for it to bear fruit, showing incredible patience. Only awakened titans are known to be able to fully resist the corruption of the Old Gods. Organic matter seeping from the Old Gods' blighted forms gives birth to hideous minions, such as the n'raqi and aqir, who serve their masters with fanatical loyalty.
They've also proven tricky to deal with on a permanent basis, particularly if they've already begun to burrow into a planet with a world-soul. Y'Shaarj has demonstrated that even killing an Old God is not necessarily an end to their evil, as even a single fragment of it became a curse on Pandaria for millennia. The Old God that attacked Fyzandi also illustrates this principle, as even after its death, the wasteland where it had dwelt remained, and the lingering power of the Void was sufficient enough to drive those who entered the wasteland to madness.
Since the dawn of life on Azeroth, the Old Gods have been whispering to the subconsciousness of beings at the surface, subverting their thoughts and feelings, and sometimes driving them to great malice, complete insanity, or both. The old whisperings urge one to do dark, terrible things. They are subtle whispers that eventually become indistinguishable from one's own thoughts.
The most notorious and tragic victim of the Old Gods' whispers is Neltharion the Earth-Warder, the once-mighty Dragon Aspect who had been empowered by the titan Khaz'goroth with dominion over the deep places of the world. Yet, not even Neltharion's great wisdom and power proved capable of breaking the grip the old whisperings had on his mind, causing the Earth-Warder to eventually lose all his sanity. Neltharion renamed himself Deathwing, seeking the genocide of all non-draconic life, the enslavement of the other dragonflights, and the release of his masters.
The night elves Malfurion Stormrage and Varo'then momentarily heard the whisperings when they held the Demon Soul in their grasp. Malfurion has since stated that "Ysera's noble brood had fallen victim to the old whisperings", as well. This was a reference to the Emerald Nightmare. The highborne Queen Azshara too heard the whispers moments before what would have been her death during the Great Sundering. She accepted the Three's offer: Azshara and her Highborne would be saved, but they would become servants of the Old Gods. They were subsequently transformed into the monstrous naga.
The most striking historic account of the old whisperings, however, is found in the myths of the tauren tribes. According to them, their goddess, the Earth Mother, heard the whispers of the "Old Ones" in the time before time but was unswayed by them. She created the world and the elements so she could give birth to her children, An'she and Mu'sha, in a place safe from the Old Ones' corruption, and for a time the elements kept the darkness of the depths at bay. However, after the creation of the tauren and while the Earth Mother slept, the Old Ones stretched their influence across the land and whispered to the tauren, teaching them of hatred, greed, sorrow, and war. A number of the tauren were swayed by the whispers and began unleashing the elements on each other, while others "lost their light" after the darkness invaded their minds and took from them their very selves. The Earth Mother ultimately sacrificed herself, embracing the land and giving all of herself, in order to keep her creations safe from the corrupting shadows, while An'she and Mu'sha took up a place in the skies where they could chase away any traces of shadow their mother could not hold. Ysera acknowledged that the beings the tauren stories speak of were the Old Gods, and that their whispers penetrate even into the Emerald Dream.
All the Old Gods encountered by adventurers to date have whispered to them throughout the fights, trying to convince the heroes of Azeroth to turn on their allies and give in to loneliness and despair. For all the mystical and military might the Old Gods command, it is perhaps these whispers, and their penchant for manipulation, that are their greatest ability.
The Hour of Twilight
- Main article: Hour of Twilight
An ancient prophecy speaks of the Hour of Twilight, the final days of the world and if the Old Gods that were chained long ago had their way set in motion, this chain of events would enact their final vision to remake the world in their image.
This, however, may be one variation of the prophecy, as the Pale Orcs of Draenor had also heard of an Hour of Twilight, one whispered to them by the Void lords themselves, stating that the Hour of Twilight is when the Void will consume all existence.
The Old Gods have been called various different names by different individuals and organizations.
- Gods Below
- old lords of the earth
- Those Who Sleep
- Old Ones
- Gods of shadow
- Lords of twilight
- Elder Gods
- elder beings
- dark elders
- dread elders
- Main article: Old Gods' forces
“Body and soul, to be swallowed whole!”
- — Cho'gall
The Old Gods' crazed worshipers seem to spring from all of the world's cultures and peoples. The Old Gods are asleep and imprisoned deep beneath the earth, yet their power is so vast that their maddening, destructive taint seeps out from their prisons and appears to tear away at the sanity of some of Azeroth's inhabitants. To what extent sentient beings can fall under the influence of the Old Gods in this manner is not well understood, but those who hear the Old Whisperings most clearly have joined together in a coalition that is known as the Twilight's Hammer.
Most of these followers and cultists have lost every ounce of their sanity and have become completely unpredictable and malevolent, or were forever changed, for example into faceless ones or elemental ascendants. Through the leadership of the ogre-mage Cho'gall, a powerful champion of the Old God C'Thun, the Twilight's Hammer became the focal point for mortal worship of the Old Gods. Large groups of the Twilight's Hammer have been observed to settle at or near sites where they believe the Old Gods or their minions are sealed away; many await C'Thun's awakening in Silithus, while others appear to serve Ragnaros in the Blackrock Depths alongside the Dark Iron dwarves.
The largest concentrations of the Twilight's Hammer, however, were located at Grim Batol and the Bastion of Twilight, within a region of the Eastern Kingdoms that is now referred to as the Twilight Highlands. The mantid, a race cousin to the Qiraji and Nerubians, still worship Y'Shaarj, an Old God killed by the Pantheon in ancient times.
Whispers to Neltharion
- "The night elves will destroy the world..."
- "The Well is out of control..."
- "No one can be trusted... they want your secrets, your power..."
- "Malygos would take what is yours..."
- "Alexstrasza seeks dominion over you..."
- "They are no better than the demons..."
- "They must be dealt with like the demons..."
Whispers to Azshara
- "There is a way... there is a way..."
- "You will become more than you ever were... more than you ever were..."
- "We can help... we can help..."
- "You will be more than you have ever been... and when the time comes, for what we grant you... you will serve us well..."
The Old Gods are the main focus of the third expansion for Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods. In addition to adding legendary card versions of the four Azerothian Old Gods, the expansion added a myriad of different cards related to the eldritch beings in some way — mainly in the form of faceless ones, mortal cultists and "what-if" corrupted versions of existing characters such as the Polluted Hoarder (Loot Hoarder) or Hogger, Doom of Elwynn (Hogger).
C'Thun was the primary focus of the expansion, and was accompanied by a total of 16 different minion cards who either buffed C'Thun in various ways or activated unique effects if C'Thun had been buffed a sufficient amount of times.
A mechanical version of C'Thun named Mecha'thun appears in The Boomsday Project. This version was built by Dr. Boom "for some reason" and, contrary to the goal of its organic counterpart, seeks to end all flesh.
The Old Gods returned in the sixteenth expansion, Madness at the Darkmoon Faire, having been awakened on Darkmoon Island. In addition to a new set of legendary cards for the Azerothian Old Gods, the set also added a legendary card for G'huun, as well as N'Zoth as an alternate hero for the Warlock class as a pre-order bonus. Additionally, four cards - Mask of C'Thun, Idol of Y'Shaarj, Jewel of N'Zoth, and Oh My Yogg! - were added, calling back to the Old Gods' original effects.
Notes and trivia
- Prospector Whelgar uncovered a large tablet called the Goaz Stone. Upon receiving the missing tablets called Ados, Modr, Golm, and Neru, he was able to translate: "Old Gods... Chained Beneath the Land."
- The Twilight Beetle is an enigmatic species, said to feed off the chaotic energies of the Old Gods.
- According to legend, three Old Gods ruled over a bloody chaos that even the Lords of the Burning Legion could not imagine. They had ruled over the "primal plane" until the coming of the world's creators. After a war of cosmic proportions, the Old Gods fell and were cast down into eternal imprisonment. The place of their confinement was hidden from all and their powers were bound until the end of time.
- Some Old God minions claimed that "They do not die; they do not live. They are outside the cycle." The death of Y'Shaarj and of the Old Gods killed by Sargeras seem to contradict this.
- The Old Gods do not actually have gender. When referring to an Old God, it is better to use the gender-neutral pronoun "it" rather than "he" or "she".
- All Old Gods that have so far appeared in World of Warcraft have had male voice actors, which is likely why they are often mistakenly referred to as male.
- Yogg-Saron is referred to as male in Ulduar.
- G'huun is referred to as "him" by Grand Ma'da Ateena.
- Azshara refers to N'Zoth as "he" and "his" in Nazjatar and during the Eternal Palace raid more than once.
- During Blizzcon 2010: Quests and lore panel, a person brought up the Tribunal of Ages event, pointing out that despite us players having "killed" two of the Old Gods, "we're not really seeing much calamity happening." The response from Afrasiabi was a succinct, "Have you played any Cataclysm?" followed by a, "You know, where the world blows up? Because of the Old Gods?" from Metzen.
- It was not necessarily anything related to their deaths which caused the Cataclysm. Consequences of killing an Old God were explored with the sha, and then expanded upon in Chronicle, which states that the only reason killing the Old Gods would destroy Azeroth is because they had embedded themselves too deep in the planet's crust for the Pantheon to tear them out without causing permanent damage to the world-soul.
- Various sources give conflicting information as to exactly how many Old Gods exist or existed on Azeroth.
- The Warcraft III manual, as well as the Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth in-game book, stated that five Old Gods were chained beneath the world.
- In reference to this discrepancy about the number of Old Gods found in The Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth, Nyorloth commented that "Perhaps to actually destroy something that lives outside of time and space, life and death, you would have to erase it from existence completely" implying that there were, in fact, originally five who landed on Azeroth, but one of them was completely destroyed. One of the possible origins of Xal'atath refers to this comment and suggests that its counterparts were the cause of its annihilation. 
- According to the War of the Ancients Trilogy, there are three Old Gods actively trying to escape their prison. There may be more, however; the Three are indicated to have formed a sort of alliance in order to escape their imprisonment. However, according to a legend Krasus describes, there were only ever three.
- World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1 finally establishes that there were four Old Gods on Azeroth, and since Y'Shaarj was slain this would agree with Krasus's statement that there were three trying to escape.
- The Warcraft III manual, as well as the Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth in-game book, stated that five Old Gods were chained beneath the world.
- The Tribunal of Ages, a device created by Loken to tell a false story of the events that unfolded on Azeroth to the Pantheon or Algalon in his favor, described the Old Gods as "parasitic, necrophotic symbiotes". "Necrophotic" is not a real English word. The term necrophotic is composed of the Greek roots necro- (> νεκρὸς/nekrós 'dead') and photo- (> φῶς/phôs 'light'). The suffix -ic describes something as having the character or form of, as of or relating to, or as having coming from or containing. The combination of roots and suffix would thus mean "having the character or form of dead light," "of, or relating, to dead light," or "coming from, or containing, dead light." This could be referring to Shadow.
- In the non-canon RPG book Lands of Conflict, Ragnaros is called "a blazing Old God", while Ula-Tek is suggested to be one, and Hakkar is simply said to be an "old god". This was probably in a time where the current Old Gods had not been invented yet.
The names and overall nature of the Old Gods are an homage to the various group of deities from the Cthulhu Mythos in the works of H.P. Lovecraft (first stage), Brian Lumley (third stage), and the Call of Cthulhu RPG. C'Thun and Yogg-Saron are named after Cthulhu and the Outer God Yog-Sothoth. N'Zoth's name is most likely derived from Zoth-Ommog of H.P. Lovecraft's shared Cthulhu Mythos. Furthermore, the story which concerns the titans' imprisoning of the Old Gods is an inspiration from the story August Derleth proposed as the ancient outcome of the war between the Elder Gods (represented in the titans) and the Outer Gods (represented in the Old Gods). An alternative name of the Old Gods is the Elder Gods.
Theories and speculation
- Main article: Old Gods speculation
- Fan art
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 36
- ^ Yor'sahj the Unsleeping#Quotes
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 14
- ^ a b c d World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 36 - 37
- ^ a b c World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 21
- ^ a b .
- ^ a b Patch 4.3 Raid Preview: Dragon Soul
- ^ a b c d The Sundering, pg. 157 - 158
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 44 - 45
- ^ a b c Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 33
- ^ a b c Quests and Lore Panel, Blizzcon 2010
- ^ N'Zoth the Corruptor
- ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 38
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 125
- ^ Game Guide: Ulduar
- ^ Ask CDev Answers - Round 1: There are more Old Gods than just the ones trapped on Azeroth. It takes a lot for them to become manifested on a physical plane, however; ...
- ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 24
- ^ Word of the Conclave
- ^ WoW Legion: Game Systems Panel - Blizzcon 2015
- ^ Legion Class Preview Series: Priest
- ^ Legion: Priest Artifact Reveal
- ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 29 - 30
- ^ Ultimate Visual Guide, pg. 176
- ^ a b The Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 31 - 32
- ^ a b Stormrage, 389
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Magazine Issue 2, pg. 75
- ^ Xal'atath, Blade of the Black Empire#Quotes
- ^ The Sundering, Prologue
- ^ a b Malfurion Stormrage#Conversation with Remulos
- ^ The Prophecy of C'Thun
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 198
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 86
- ^ The Warcraft Encyclopedia: Gods
- ^ http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/info/dungeons/wrath-ulduar.xml
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 3, pg. 191
- ^ a b c Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects
- ^ BlizzCon 2014 - Krasus' words were qualified as "hyperbolic" and they are not to be taken "too literally".
- ^ a b c d The Sundering, chapter 10
- ^ Qadarin#Gossip
- ^ Knaak, Richard A.. The Sundering. ISBN 978-0-7434-2898-9.
Faces of Cataclysm: Deathwing(Dead link)
- ^ The Sundering, pg. 332 - 333
- ^ "Eyes of the Earth Mother"
- ^ Sorrow of the Earthmother
- ^ World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Collector's Edition, Chris Metzen
- ^ Warcraft III - Firelord description
- ^ Paragons of the Klaxxi#Quotes
- ^ a b Samuelson Unmasked#Quotes
- ^ The Sundering, chapter 16
- ^ The Sundering, chapter 21
- ^ Herald Volazj#Quotes
- ^ Loreology on Twitter (2014-05-08) "The Old Gods do not have gender. When referring to an Old God, use the gender-neutral pronoun "it", never "he" or "she"."
- ^ Yogg-Saron (tactics)#Adventure Guide
- ^ Warcraft III manual, 79
- ^ Blizzard lore posts#Nyorloth
- ^ Word of the Conclave#Xal'atath, Blade of the Black Empire
- ^ Tribunal of Ages
- ^ Lands of Conflict, pg. 191, 117, 59
- ^ Blizzcon 2010: Art Panel HD Part 2
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Magazine Issue 4, 25