NeutralThe Primus
Image of The Primus
Gender Male
Race Eternal One (Humanoid)
Level ?? Boss
Resource Mana
Reaction Alliance Horde
Affiliation(s) Necrolord Covenant, Undying Army
Occupation Leader of the necrolords
Location Keeper's Respite, Korthia[63.0, 25.4]
Seat of the Primus, Maldraxxus[49.73, 52.23]
Status Active
Student(s) Bonesmith Heirmir

“Focus. Strategy. Relentlessness. These are the weapons of the Necrolords. Victory will be claimed not by a single house, but through the strength of our covenant. For Maldraxxus!”

— Vision of the Primus[1]

The Primus is the founder and ruler of Maldraxxus and the five houses of the Necrolord Covenant. The most tactical and long-thinking of the Eternal Ones,[2] he is a master strategist who is nearly unbeatable on the field of battle[3] and is notorious for always thinking far ahead of everyone else.[4] The Primus embodies the five traits of the ideal Maldraxxi soldier, virtues he also instilled into the five houses: ambition, might, insight, guile, and the relentless pursuit of victory.[5][6] In addition to his military might, he is also known as a legendary weaponsmith[7] and is responsible for the creation of Maldraxxi rune magic, which serves to manipulate necromantic energy,[8] and its more powerful counterpart, Domination, whose purpose is the suppression of another.[9] All necrolords receive a portion of the Primus' power in order to carry out their duty of defending the Shadowlands from external forces.[10]

At some point, the Primus left his sanctum to investigate the schemes of his fallen brother, the Jailer Zovaal. The Jailer defeated the Primus, took his memories from him, and confined him to the tower of Torghast as a prisoner called the Runecarver.[11] In this form, the Primus was forced to create countless armaments for the Jailer—including Frostmourne and the Helm of Domination, which were later used by the succession of Lich Kings on Azeroth. The necrolords were unaware of their leader's fate, and in his absence, Maldraxxus fell into chaos: two of the houses were nearly destroyed, and the leaders of the remaining three ruthlessly fought to claim the Seat of the Primus and the position of commanding the realm's armies.[12]

Before his disappearance, the Primus left behind cryptic messages and prophecies concerning the coming of one who would embody the might of Maldraxxus and save the realm from itself,[3] prophecies that were fulfilled by mortal Maw Walkers. During the four covenants' campaign to waylay the Jailer's efforts in the city of Korthia, these same heroes recovered the Primus' sigil, which he had concealed before his journey to the Maw. When brought to Torghast, the sigil restored the Primus' memories and freed him from his existence as the Runecarver, allowing him to lend his tactical genius to the covenants as they continued trying to prevent the Jailer from achieving his goals.[11]


Ruler of Maldraxxus

The Seat of the Primus.

The Primus was granted the power of flesh-shaping by the First Ones who shaped the cosmos.[13] In order to have Maldraxxus produce the strongest possible fighting force to defend the Shadowlands from external threats, he devised a system of great houses, barons, and eternal war games[14] (such as the Contest of Conquest)[15] to weed out weakness and allow the army of the necrolords to continually improve. The Primus himself used his time to hone his tactical and strategic skills beyond mortal constraints. It is said that he once sought out an unknown ally who could show him the infinite timeways and allow him to observe the same battle over and over again to see how slight differences in strategy and troop deployment could change the outcome of a conflict. After eons of such study, the Primus could instantly assess any situation and devise the likeliest path to victory.[14] The Eternal One devised a unique language of runes which individually represent a specific word tied to the foundations of Maldraxxus and the power of the five houses. Eons later, this same language would come to be used in the world of the living by Azerothian death knights to empower their runeblades with runeforging.[8]

The statue of the Primus within the Seat during the empowerment of a new necrolord.

The Primus was the victor of countless hard-won battles. In one battle in the Iron Trench, he destroyed a group of ambitious necrolords who thought to usurp him.[16] In another battle, he destroyed a group of invaders so utterly that it left fires that still burn to this day in the Burning Thicket.[17] He repeatedly allowed a venthyr historian to accompany him to battles, and she wrote down her own (unfavorable) perspective on the Maldraxxi.[18] The Primus had several apprentices, but the only one now remaining is Bonesmith Heirmir.[19] At his stronghold, the Seat of the Primus, he maintained a network of portals that linked the necropoli of each of the five houses.[20] He was personally involved in the design of at least one necropolis, Zerekriss, which he shaped with his bare hands.[21] In order to protect the Sepulcher of Knowledge, a tower storing the writings of the greatest military minds among the necrolords, the Primus placed several guardians in the area around the structure and filled the Sepulcher itself with various traps.[22][23]

In the ancient past, the Primus detected treachery from his brother Zovaal,[14] the Arbiter, who defied the will of the First Ones and tried to forcibly lay claim to the sigils possessed by the other Eternal Ones in the belief that they were keys to forbidden knowledge locked within the Sepulcher of the First Ones.[24][25] The Primus led his siblings to victory,[24] and they proceeded to punish Zovaal by stripping him of his sigil and his anima to create a new Arbiter to judge souls in his place.[25] They then bound him within the inescapable Maw to make him its Jailer.[26] To keep Zovaal imprisoned, the Primus invented a new form of power that came to be known as Domination[9] and scribed its runes upon his brother's flesh.[25] The Primus hoped that the ages spent in the Maw would cause Zovaal to change his ways and repent for his sins, but they instead only caused him to grow more malevolent.[11]

Disappearance and imprisonment

The Runecarver in Torghast.

“I was used by him. The Jailer, they call him. Used to make... to make... Hmm. My memories. Did you take them? No. He took them. Used me for his purpose. Then left me here. Bereft of memory for... how long?”

— The Runecarver[27]

Ages later, the Primus noticed that the Jailer's influence was seeping outside of the Maw. Suspecting that Zovaal had worked with ancient allies during his original betrayal, the Primus left Maldraxxus to investigate the matter, leaving the margraves and barons of the realm to their own devices. However, due to his tactical genius, he had foreseen a time when the Shadowlands would face grave peril and could only be saved by someone from outside the realm. For this reason, he left behind a trail of messages and boons in Maldraxxus to help mortal outsiders set things right.[14][26] He placed a standing stone at the center of a lava pool in the House of the Chosen as a challenge of endurance and fortitude. In truth, this stone concealed an unfinished blade with no hilt, forged by the Primus himself[28] and enchanted with five runes representing the five ideal Maldraxxi traits.[5] Once fully empowered, this Blade of the Primus would act as a key allowing a worthy champion to access the Seat of the Primus[7] and discover its master's final message: a warning stating that the only hope for the Shadowlands was for all of the Eternal Ones to stand united once more, protect the Arbiter, and prevent Zovaal from reaching the Sepulcher of the First Ones.[26]

Concept art of the Runecarver.

The Primus knew that if his suspicions about Zovaal were correct, his own sigil would be at risk. He therefore traveled to the city of Korthia and entrusted the sigil to the attendants there.[29] He believed that even locking it away in the Vault of Secrets might not be enough to keep it safe, however,[30] so he created an additional safeguard by binding it with the magic of memory, which he believed that not even Zovaal could untangle.[31]

The Eternal One then traveled to the Maw, where his suspicions indeed proved true and the Jailer brought about his defeat.[26] In a reversal of how his brother had once imprisoned him, the Jailer stripped the Primus of his memories[27] and turned him into a broken prisoner called the Runecarver,[11] who was subsequently trapped in chains in an oubliette deep within Torghast, Tower of the Damned. Zovaal extracted countless designs from the Runecarver's mind to forge into weapons for his Mawsworn armies, the grandest of which were the "vessels of Domination": the mourneblade Frostmourne and the Helm of Domination, which he intended to use to claim "the secret that the First Ones sought to hide".[32]

Chains of Domination

The Primus restored to his true form.

“[The Jailer] is a fool for allowing us to live. His desire to see us bend to his will shall be his undoing. All is not lost, if you are willing to put in the work. There is still something that can be done.”

— The Primus after the loss of his sigil[33]

Mortal Maw Walkers eventually arrived in the Shadowlands. In Torghast, they uncovered a key leading to the oubliette of the Runecarver, who by then had become largely forgotten.[34] With some help from the broker Ve'nari, the heroes allied with the Runecarver, helping recover some of his memories and allowing him to forge them into weapons and armor.[11]

After obtaining three of the five sigils required for his plan, the Jailer pulled Korthia into the Maw and sent his Mawsworn to attack the Vault of Secrets in order to lay claim to the Primus' sigil as well.[29] However, a group consisting of the attendant leader Tal-Galan, the Primus' old apprentice Bonesmith Heirmir, and a Maw Walker retrieved the sigil before the Mawsworn had a chance to do so and brought it to Bolvar Fordragon at Keeper's Respite. Since Bolvar had watched through the Maw Walkers' eyes during their ventures into Torghast,[31] the magic on the sigil reminded him of the Runecarver and he suggested that the prisoner was their best chance of untangling it.[11]

The Primus battling the Jailer in Torghast.

Heirmir and the Maw Walker traveled to Torghast and gave the sigil to the Runecarver. This caused its magic binds to disappear and the sigil itself to enter the Runecarver's body, instantly restoring all of his memories and causing a burst of energy that allowed him to destroy his shackles and regain his true form as the Primus. Heirmir was astonished that her master had been trapped in Torghast the whole time, while the Primus was furious that she and the hero had brought his sigil right to Zovaal's lair. Before they could argue further, the Jailer arrived with an army of Mawsworn. The Primus empowered the Maw Walker with the anima surging through the tower, and while they and Heirmir battled the lesser Mawsworn, the Primus and Zovaal fought by launching beams of energy at each other. As the battle progressed, the Jailer stunned Heirmir and the Maw Walker and summoned his vessel, Anduin Wrynn. The Primus reminded his brother that his sigil would be lost forever if he was struck down, but he wasn't expecting Anduin to be carrying a mourneblade, Kingsmourne. The Jailer and his champion launched a simultaneous attack to stun the Primus, allowing Anduin to use Kingsmourne to sever the sigil from the Primus' body and launch it into the Jailer's hand. Zovaal then teleported himself and his minions away,[11] allowing the Primus and his allies to leave the tower alive.

Since there were still heroes who needed the skills of the Runecarver, the Primus left an echo of his former state in the oubliette before traveling to Korthia with Heirmir and the hero to inform the covenants of his return. In a conference with Bolvar and Tal-Galan at Keeper's Respite, he declared that the mortals had to face the Jailer in his seat of power, the Sanctum of Domination. As a contingency, each of the covenants also had to "remember its purpose" and "find its future" in order to forge new sigils, so that they could pursue Zovaal in case the assault failed. The Eternal One told the Maw Walker that they could dwell on past mistakes when the current events were over, and gave them a token of gratitude for the help they'd given him while he was imprisoned.[33]

The Primus and Helya in Helgarde Keep.

The Eternal One's return to the Seat of the Primus.

In order to continue holding their position in Korthia, the covenants had to deal with the threat posed by two of the Jailer's minions in nearby Desmotaeron: Helya and the Maldraxxi traitor Vyraz. The Primus sent the Chosen baroness Draka (who had led the necrolords in his absence) with a Maw Walker and the orc hero Thrall to carry out a surprise attack and "cut the heads off these snakes".[35] The trio summoned the Zerekriss and began a united covenant attack on Desmotaeron, with the Primus seemingly leading the assault from the necropolis[36] while Draka, Thrall, and the Maw Walker confronted Helya and Vyraz in Helgarde Keep. Helya empowered Vyraz with her magic, but the Primus teleported in and gave Draka his own blessing to match. While their champions fought, the Eternal One and the sea witch threw magic and insults at each other. Vyraz was killed, and the Primus proceeded to banish Helya[37] back to Helheim.[38] After the battle, the Primus stated that he would reforge his sigil and entrust it to Draka until he had need of it.[39] He subsequently returned to his old Seat in Maldraxxus to reward Draka for her loyalty to the necrolords. He invited necrolord Maw Walkers to witness the ceremony in recognition of all that they, too, had done for the covenant.[40] In the Seat, he named Draka the new margrave of the House of the Chosen, signifying a first step toward rebuilding Maldraxxus' armies after the betrayals they'd suffered.[41]

Back in Korthia, the covenant forces started facing problems with enemy infiltrators in the form of nathrezim—servants of Denathrius who had long been exiled from the Shadowlands. Baroness Vashj of the House of Eyes reported this threat to the Primus, who commented that he should've suspected that the nathrezim would return but also that he was pleased to see the House of Eyes had not "lost their sight" in his absence.[42] The Primus asked a Maw Walker to travel to Revendreth and deliver a missive to Prince Renathal informing him of the nathrezim's return and telling him that it was time to recruit the Stonewright—the last of the still-neutral venthyr Harvesters and a major enemy of the nathrezim—so that her medallion could be used in the creation of a new venthyr sigil. He sent along a similar missive addressed directly to the Stonewright, curtly telling her that they needed her medallion and that the time for neutrality was over. The Primus sent Vashj to accompany the Maw Walker due to her experience with the nathrezim.[43][44] After a few twists and turns, the mission resulted in the creation of a new sigil and the Stonewright pledging her forces to the cause against the Jailer.[45]

Maw Walkers later helped both the night fae and the kyrian create new sigils by mending the relationship between the Winter Queen and her sister Elune[46] and creating a new path for the kyrian where the virtue of Loyalty was replaced with Devotion, respectively.[47] They informed the Primus of both of these successes, and he in turn called on the covenants to deliver their sigils to Korthia.[48]

The covenants present their sigils to the Primus.

The Maw Walkers and their allies attacked the Sanctum of Domination but failed to stop Zovaal: he enveloped Oribos in the Maw, claimed the final sigil from the Arbiter, and escaped through a portal to the Sepulcher. Thrall and Jaina Proudmoore returned to Keeper's Respite to tell the Primus what happened.[49] He stated that while the Jailer had won the battle, he would not win the war. Covenant representatives arrived to Korthia and handed over their reforged sigils, which the Primus could use to create a key to follow Zovaal to his destination: the land of the First Ones. First, though, he had to find something to replace the Arbiter's sigil. He commended Maw Walkers for their efforts but said that it was now time for his own work to begin and left through a death gate, telling the heroes that he'd call on them when the key was ready.[25]


The Primus owns a set of powerful armor. It is said that when he disappeared, the armor pieces were scattered.[50] Over the course of the Necrolords Campaign, necrolord adventurers gradually obtain the different pieces and place them on the statue of the Primus within his Seat.

The statue disappears during the Primus' return to the Seat in N [60] Filling an Empty Throne and N [60] The Roads We Walk, but it reappears after the quests.


For quests involving the Runecarver, see Runecarver#Quests.
The Last Sigil
  1. N [60] Untangling the Sigil Activequest
  2. N [60] The Primus Returns AvailablequestActivequest
An Army of Bone and Steel

Introductory portion:

  1. N [60] The Chains of Command Availablequest

Ending portion:

  1. N [60] Victory in Our Name Activequest
  2. N [60] Filling an Empty Throne AvailablequestActivequest
  3. N [60] The Roads We Walk AvailablequestActivequest
The Unseen Guests

Introductory portion:

  1. N [60] Dreadlords! Activequest
  2. N [60] Dread Tidings Availablequest

Ending portion:

  1. N [60] The Meaning of Wrath Activequest
The Power of Night
  1. N [60] Inform the Primus Activequest
A New Path
  1. N [60] New Sigil of the Kyrian Activequest
What Lies Ahead
  1. B [60] Doorway in the Dark Availablequest
  2. B [60] A Symbol of Hope
  3. N [60] Covenants Renewed Activequest


For quotes spoken as the Runecarver, see Runecarver#Quotes.


The Voice of the Primus during Through the Fire and Flames.

Maldraxxus storyline
Main article: Through the Fire and Flames#Notes
Main article: The Blade of the Primus#Notes
Main article: Straight to the Heart#Notes
Main article: In The Flesh#Notes
Main article: Fit For a Margrave#Notes
Main article: In Death We Are Truly Tested#Notes
Main article: The Door to the Unknown#Notes
Necrolords Campaign
Main article: Power of the Primus#Notes
Main article: Bindings of Fleshcrafting (quest)#Notes
Main article: Pride of Place#Notes
Main article: Pauldrons of Imperium (quest)#Notes
Main article: Staff of the Primus (quest)#Notes
Chains of Domination campaign
Main article: Secrets of the Vault#Notes
Main article: Lost Records#Notes
Main article: Into the Vault#Notes
Main article: Untangling the Sigil#Notes
Main article: The Primus Returns#Notes
Main article: A Job Done Right#Notes
Main article: A Traitor's Due#Notes
Main article: Victory in Our Name#Notes
Main article: The Roads We Walk#Notes
Main article: Inform the Primus#Notes
Main article: The Meaning of Wrath#Notes
Main article: Inform the Primus#Notes
Main article: New Sigil of the Kyrian#Notes
Main article: Doorway in the Dark#Notes
Main article: Covenants Renewed#Notes


  • The hour of battle is upon us.
  • War is at hand.
  • Our enemy is relentless.
  • Ah, the Maw Walker.
  • Fate has drawn you here.
  • Speak, mortal.
  • You must not falter.
  • The covenants must stand as one.
  • If we fail, all will be undone.
  • Do not forsake your duty.
  • Together we will claim victory.
  • We fight to save the Shadowlands.


Keeper's Respite
Only united can the covenants stand against Zovaal.
Seat of the Primus after N [60] The Roads We Walk
It has been long since I've seen the living expanse of Maldraxxus. While the denizens are prone to chaos, the land has stayed the same.

Notes and trivia

  • The Primus is voiced by Abraham Benrubi.
  • The Primus' statue and the Runecarver's concept art only show four fingers on each hand, but both the Runecarver and the Primus' in-game models have five fingers on each hand.
  • His appearance resembles the necromancer unit in Warcraft III, only instead of wearing a horned skull on his head, the horns are sprouting from his own skull.
  • Some aspects of the Primus' character has similarities to imperial Roman, Catholic, and Norse myth themes:
    • His appearance as a skeletal figure in a hooded robe resembles common modern depictions of the Grim Reaper.
    • The Primus' visage is depicted on the  [Antiquated Verdigris Coin], a practice used since antiquity in coins to depict the rulers of the moment they were minted.
    • The "Primus" title in real life occurs rarely, based upon the Latin phrase and concept of primus inter pares ("first among equals") in the context of the Pope being the "first" among the five Bishops of the Pentarchy during Antiquity.
    • This ecclesial connection is also seen in how the name "Primus" is translated in localizations of World of Warcraft. In Spanish, he is referred to as El Prelado ("The Prelate"), and the Seat of the Primus is translated as Trono del Prelado ("Throne of the Prelate"), which in real life would refer to a cathedral.
    • The armor worn on his right arm resembles a manica, an armguard used by Roman gladiators, and his mantle resembles a stole.
    • As the inventor of both Maldraxxi necromantic runes and Domination runes, this may be borrowing from how Odin invented runes and runic magic. One of Odin's titles is "Lord of the undead", and Maldraxxus is the birthplace of necromancy.
    • While more elements of Warhammer Tomb Kings can be seen in the Maldraxxi forces and Maldraxxus at large, some superficial similarities exist between Nagash and the Primus.

Patch changes


  1. ^ N [60] Staff of the Primus
  2. ^ Cass Marshall 2020-09-24. World of Warcraft’s Maldraxxus is the grittiest zone in the Shadowlands. Polygon. Archived from the original on 2020-09-24.
  3. ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard Entertainment 2020-06-11. Shadowlands Preview: Maldraxxus and the Necrolord Covenant. Archived from the original on 2020-06-11.
  4. ^ N [52] The Path to Glory
  5. ^ a b N [52] Meet the Margrave
  6. ^ N [60] Welcome To Our House: Baroness Draka yells: Though the Primus has long been absent from these halls, the Maw Walker embodies the virtues he instilled in the five houses.
  7. ^ a b N [52] The Seat of the Primus
  8. ^ a b Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond, pg. 118
  9. ^ a b Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond, pg. 116
  10. ^ N [60] Power of the Primus
  11. ^ a b c d e f g N [60] Untangling the Sigil
  12. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard Entertainment. Necrolord - Covenants - Shadowlands. Retrieved on 2020-06-11.
  13. ^ Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond, pg. 112
  14. ^ a b c d Garth Holden 2020-09-24. A deep dive into Maldraxxus, the defenders of Death. SA Gamer. Archived from the original on 2020-09-24.
  15. ^ N [52] Land of Opportunity
  16. ^ N [50-60WQ] Battles Won Long Ago
  17. ^ N [50-60WQ] Battles Won Long Ago
  18. ^ N [60] The Two Sides of History
  19. ^ N [52] Forging a Champion
  20. ^ N [60] Powering the Portals
  21. ^ a b N [60] Search the Place
  22. ^ N [54] Read Between the Lines
  23. ^ N [54] Secrets Among the Shelves
  24. ^ a b N [60] Voices of the Eternal
  25. ^ a b c d N [60] Covenants Renewed
  26. ^ a b c d N [54] The Door to the Unknown
  27. ^ a b N [60] Deep Within
  28. ^ N [52] Through the Fire and Flames
  29. ^ a b N [60] Secrets of the Vault
  30. ^ N [60] Lost Records
  31. ^ a b N [60] Into the Vault
  32. ^  [Clearing the Fog]
  33. ^ a b N [60] The Primus Returns
  34. ^ N [60] Prison of the Forgotten
  35. ^ N [60] The Chains of Command
  36. ^ N [60] A Job Done Right
  37. ^ N [60] A Traitor's Due
  38. ^ Lore Book: An Army of Bone and Steel
  39. ^ N [60] Victory in Our Name
  40. ^ N [60] Filling an Empty Throne
  41. ^ N [60] The Roads We Walk
  42. ^ N [60] Dreadlords!
  43. ^ N [60] Dread Tidings
  44. ^  [The Unseen Guests Among Us]
  45. ^ N [60] The Meaning of Wrath
  46. ^ N [60] Winter's Sigil
  47. ^ N [60] The New Path
  48. ^ N [60] New Sigil of the Kyrian
  49. ^ B [60] Doorway in the Dark
  50. ^ a b N [60] Bindings of Fleshcrafting
  51. ^ N [60] The Mantle Returned
  52. ^ N [60] Pauldrons of Imperium
  53. ^ N [60] The Third Fall of Kel'Thuzad

External links