- This article is about the realm of death. For the expansion, see World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. For the arakkoa plane, see Shadow Realm.
|Level: 50 - 60|
Zovaal the Jailer|
Kyrestia the Firstborne
The Winter Queen
|Affiliation||Eternal Ones, Kyrian, Mawsworn, Necrolords, Night Fae, Venthyr|
“Death was not the end I believed it to be. No rest or joyous reunions in the Light awaited me. What I witnessed challenged all I knew. With my final breath, I saw impossible places—worlds within worlds brimming with beings that defied description. It wasn't until the Helm of Domination was placed upon my head that I understood the truth I had seen: Death is not an end, but a beginning.”
The Shadowlands (see below for other names and denotations) are the realm of Death, an infinite plane where the souls of deceased mortals go to be reborn, serve, find peace, do battle, or endure endless torment. The Shadowlands exist on the edge of reality, separated from the physical universe by a barrier known as the Veil, and consist of an infinite number of diverse afterlives sustained by the flow of anima from the recently dead. Mortal souls who cross the Veil between life and death arrive at the Eternal City of Oribos and are judged by the Arbiter, who then assigns them to the afterlife that suits them most, the largest and most significant of which are ruled by a pantheon of Eternal Ones and powerful orders known as covenants, each with its own unique role in maintaining the ecosystem of the afterlife.
- 1 Description
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Dungeons
- 5 Appearances
- 6 Inhabitants
- 7 Other names
- 8 Other afterlives
- 9 In the RPG
- 10 Notes and trivia
- 11 Speculation
- 12 Gallery
- 13 References
Until recently, the nature of the Shadowlands was obscure, with the living knowing the realm only as a cold and nightmarish place of labyrinthine spiritual planes. While many believe that souls of the dead languish in the Shadowlands forever, others hope their souls will go on to a brighter place. Spirit healers decide when it's time for a mortal soul to pass into the Shadowlands. When a mortal dies and their soul crosses the Veil between life and death, it is shepherded by the kyrian to Oribos so that they can be judged by the impassive Arbiter. All of the soul's contents—deeds, misdeeds, thoughts, accomplishments, and failures—are laid bare before the Arbiter, who then judges in a mere instant and sends the soul through one of the gateways in her chamber to one of the infinite realms of the Shadowlands, the largest of which are ruled over by powerful Covenants. The Covenants are ancient and powerful orders who have existed since the Shadowlands were shaped long ago, and who bear sacred duties to help maintain the afterlife's ecosystem. Not every soul is filtered into the main four Covenants. Each soul brings with it a vital force known as anima, the product of all of the soul's experiences and actions in life. Anima is the lifeblood of the Shadowlands, making trees grow and rivers flow and is the source that's drawn upon to conduct the magic of death. Great souls—both good and evil—have a lot of anima, while those who have lived humbler lives have less. Four of the realms—Ardenweald, Bastion, Maldraxxus, and Revendreth—are especially vital to the functioning of the Shadowlands. However, there could be infinite afterlives, some small and tailored to a single person while others are vast and full of either splendor or torment. All interpretations of the afterlife held by mortal cultures are possible somewhere within the Shadowlands. Because souls are constantly crossing over from the mortal plane, that means new afterlives manifest to meet the needs of the Shadowlands.
Between each realm is a cloudy space known as the In-Between which was once rich with streams of anima connecting the different domains, but the current anima drought has caused the realms to become cut off from one another, breeding fear and mistrust among the inhabitants.
Souls are not necessarily permanently stuck in their assigned afterlives. When the machinery of Death functioned the way it was supposed to, souls who had completed obligations in one realm sometimes had the opportunity to travel to some of the other realms of the Shadowlands. For example, romantic partners who are initially sent to different realms may eventually find an afterlife they can share together.
The Shadowlands transcend all worlds and realities, as evidenced with Soulbinder Nyami and the loa being able to use their power on alternate Draenor. All alternate versions of the same mortal are more or less part of the same being, such as in the case with Draka, using an analogy of a rope with different threads which can be pulled off, but which "at some time come together to make that rope" and eventually come together as one being in the Shadowlands.
When a soul is called from the afterlife, it is free to roam the material realm if it is not restrained within moments of its arrival. Mortal souls that cross over and are brought back do not appear, however, to retain defined memories of what they experienced in the Shadowlands. A spirit in the Shadowlands can, with enough power over other souls, tear a hole into the living world once they are strong enough. This is how Jin'do returned to Azeroth.
Time is perceived differently in the Shadowlands. Time and Death are not related, as Death is about eternity and not linear time. Time is a construct of order and structure, but circumstances in the Shadowlands are more chaotic. To a soul in the Shadowlands, it can therefore feel like eons have passed since their arrival whereas only a few months or years have elapsed in the world of the living, much like a dream in which a significant period of time can seem to pass even though one has only slept for a few hours. The Alliance and Horde leaders who were imprisoned in the Maw by the Mawsworn felt as if they were trapped for weeks or longer, enough for them to make countless escape attempts and for Jaina Proudmoore to feel as if time had lost all meaning, whereas far less time elapsed in the mortal world. Nevertheless, time of some kind seems to exist, as the Primus, before leaving his realm and disappearing, had an ally able to peer into the timeways to see every possible outcome for his military and its various tactics in order to determine the best possible ones.
The origins of the Shadowlands remain uncertain, but they have existed ever since mortal life first arose in the physical universe. They are ruled by the Eternal Ones. Originally, Zovaal served as The Arbiter, but he desired to conquer the cosmos and seize the Sigils of the Covenants in order to claim the knowledge in the Sepulcher of the First Ones, and so the other Eternal Ones brought him down, bound him with Domination runes within Torghast, Tower of the Damned in the Maw, and constructed a new Arbiter using his anima and sigil.
When Sylvanas Windrunner killed herself in Icecrown Citadel, she found herself in the darkness where she encountered nine Val'kyr that remained in service to the Scourge. While there, the partnership between Sylvanas and the Jailer started.
Shadowlands in disarray
|This section is a lore stub.|
The Shadowlands are in a state of disarray. In the natural order of things, souls are sorted and sent on to an afterlife realm appropriate to the lives they lived, but since around the time of the Burning Legion's third invasion of Azeroth, and some time after Ursoc's death in the Emerald Nightmare, the Arbiter has gone mysteriously dormant, and all souls who have perished—including the innocents slain at Teldrassil—are now being funneled directly into the Maw. The Shadowlands are starving for anima even as the Maw continues to grow from the glut of fresh souls. Sylvanas Windrunner has been seemingly perpetrating acts to bring about great amounts of death and destruction. In partnership with the Jailer, they have been working toward a common end for some time.
Members of the Alliance and Horde will manage to enter the Shadowlands with the help of Bolvar Fordragon and his death knights, and will directly be sent into the Maw. Thanks to the connection some of the heroes of Azeroth have to their world-soul, a number of them will be able to leave the Maw and travel the realms of the dead, being the first to do this kind of feat, and become known as the Maw Walkers.
Although the world map for the Shadowlands (pictured right) depicts the realms of the Shadowlands on a flat plane, this is only a top-down view. In reality, the Shadowlands are an infinite three-dimensional space, and Revendreth is the zone that is lowest down and closest to the Maw. Similarly, while Maldraxxus appears to be adjacent to the Maw, it's not being directly affected by it in the same way that Revendreth is.
- The Maw (50 - 60)
- Bastion (50 - 60, Storyline 50 - 52)
- Maldraxxus (50 - 60, Storyline 52 - 54)
- Ardenweald (50 - 60, Storyline 55 - 58)
- Revendreth (50 - 60, Storyline 57 - 60)
- Oribos (sanctuary)
- The In-Between (space between zones and parallel to them)
- Unnamed native realm of the Brokers
- Craftenium, implied to be an engineering afterlife
- The Sepulcher
- The Inn of Forever, where people put up their arms and enjoy an eternity of fireside festivities
- Main article: Instances by continent
- The Necrotic Wake
- Mists of Tirna Scithe
- Halls of Atonement
- Spires of Ascension
- Theater of Pain
- De Other Side
- Sanguine Depths
- Tazavesh, the Veiled Market
- Torghast, Tower of the Damned
- Castle Nathria
- Sanctum of Domination
- Death knight champions have interactions with characters that have been to the Shadowlands:
- Dark Summoner Marogh came a long way to Acherus from deep within the realm of the Shadowlands.
- Knights of the Ebon Blade were sent to the Shadowlands to acquire the Aggregates of Anguish, five tormented essences of powerful souls - Admiral Proudmoore, Soulbinder Nyami, Grand Empress Shek'zeer, Grand Apothecary Putress and Archmage Arugal. Salanaar required these to conjure the Steeds of the Damned for the order's new Horsemen.
- A Dark Place, entered by a portal at the Emerald Dragonshrine, is an area where "the barrier between the realms of life and death are thin". Adventurers travel here to save a young eredar ghost named Uuna from creatures called Soul-Eaters mysterious denizens of the dark place that cannot be harmed by mortals.
Battle for Azeroth
- Talanji, Rokhan, and Master Gadrin conducted a ritual to delve into the Shadowlands and locate Vol'jin's missing spirit.
Beings of death are ancient and powerful, and it is dangerous to meddle in their realm. When Odyn peered into the Shadowlands, he saw some of its inhabitants: souls in torment, the husks of the dead, ghostly wraiths with no face, and others with no form, all made of death itself. This was enough to frighten even him.
Many beings in the Shadowlands are souls of deceased mortals, some of which have been transformed to serve a new purpose, such as the kyrian of Bastion. Other creatures—such as dredgers, faeries, and stewards—are endemic to the Shadowlands and are naturally born from the magic of Death to serve the different realms and help facilitate the process of the afterlife.
Aside from intelligent mortal races, the souls of animals are also sent to the Shadowlands. For example, all cats are sent to Revendreth when they die, and the steeds of dark souls may be sent to Revendreth to become sinrunners due to either their own sins or their masters' sins.
If a being of Death is killed on the mortal plane, their essence returns to the Shadowlands to be reformed, similar to how demons reform in the Twisting Nether. However, if such a being—either the soul of a former mortal or a native being of the Shadowlands—is destroyed in the Shadowlands, they die permanently and their soul is lost forever. Their energy then disperses and joins the greater whole of the magic of Death. If a "workforce" creature like a dredger or steward dies, another member of the same race will eventually manifest to take the place of the one that was killed. Interestingly, Thanikos ordered to blast the corpses and sunder the souls of House of Rituals in order to prevent them from being raised by death magic to fight again. A person that is still alive when they cross the veil into the Shadowlands, however, has a tether to their homeworld that might nudge them back to life when killed there.
- Transformed mortal souls
- Endemic creatures of death
- Anima infused constructs
- Unique beings
- Pantheon of Death:
- The Arbiter - Judge of the Shadowlands in Oribos
- Kyrestia the Firstborne - Archon of the Kyrian in Bastion
- The Winter Queen - Queen of the Night Fae in Ardenweald
- Sire Denathrius - King of the Venthyr in Revendreth
- The Primus - Leader of the Necrolords, ruler of Maldraxxus
- Zovaal - Jailer of Torghast in the Maw, The Banished One
- Mueh'zala - God of Death, he is the one that Odyn made a pact with in exchange for his eye to peer into the Shadowlands.
- Bwonsamdi - Loa of Death who watches over deceased trolls, once a priest elevated by Mueh'zala and current ruler of the Other Side
- Prince Renathal and The Curator - Two of the original venthyr Court of Harvesters that remain made from Denathrius's will instead of mortal souls.
- Executor Tarvold and High Torturer Darithos
In some situations, souls may be taken to other places besides the Shadowlands:
- Souls can be sent to the Light, such as Uuna's parents or Crusader Bridenbrad. Requirements for this are unknown.
- By extension souls can also, presumably, be sucked into the Void.
- Spirits can go to the Emerald Dream including green dragons, most Wild Gods, and some druids such as Elerethe Renferal and Thaon Moonclaw.
- Halls of Valor is where spirits of vrykul warriors who prove their valor can be taken to by Odyn's Val'kyr to become his Valarjar.
- Helheim is where vrykul souls that are stolen by Helya's kvaldir are brought to. Despite touching the Shadowlands, it is specifically not contained in it.
- Elementals and demons respectively return to the Elemental Plane and Twisting Nether upon death, where they are then reborn. Dying in these planes kills them permanently. With elementals, however, it's known that their primal energies are recycled into the Elemental Plane they're from.
- Creations of the Old Gods that die in reality seem to return to Ny'alotha, or at least they did before it was destroyed.
- Quetz'lun's underworld is a special underworld created by the loa at the time of her death as a home of her and her cursed worshipers that killed her.
- In Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, Hades was where an orc's soul descended into for judgment when he died, and his essence was divided into good and evil. This is likely flavor lore or has since been retconned.
- Frostmourne had thousands of souls contained within the blade.
In the RPG
The final destination of the spirits of the deceased remains a mystery to the priests and philosophers of Azeroth. However, as spells such as can reunite a dead body with its spirit, and a majority of living creatures from the tauren to the troll shadow hunters claim they can communicate with and call upon the power of the spirits, a widely held belief is that the spirits of the dead remain on the Material Plane — in an immaterial state that can only be altered or contacted through the use of magic.
- Shadow hunters deal with the darkest aspects of the spirit world. Their connections to powerful voodoo spirits give them the ability to curse and heal at a whim.
- The spell called "spiritual projection" or "astral projection" brings the caster to the Twisting Nether; and the Twisting Nether is also referred as "realm of ghosts".
Notes and trivia
- The first mention of the Shadowlands was in World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1.
- After World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, the Veil and the Shadowlands were confirmed to be different places.
- The had a deep connection to the Shadowlands.
- from the Legion expansion provides a significant increase to character experience.
- Death knights are able to learn the ability which pulls their ally's spirit back from the Realm of the Dead and forces it back into their body. Upon doing so, a "Void-Touched" debuff is applied to the player stating that: "A touch of the spirit realm still lingers..."
- The Shadowlands were originally intended to be a fully playable zone in World of Warcraft, designed for high-level play. The idea was that as deceased characters made their way back to their corpses, they'd see high-level players battling creeps in the area, which would inspire lower-level players to increase their character level so they could experience the zone for themselves.
- In a number of quests spirits can be seen ascending to an afterlife:
- is used to sanctify the corpses of Reanimated Crusaders so that their spirits may be freed to ascend, seen ascending as Released Souls.
- Sent by Enohar Thunderbrew, Alliance adventurers defeated cursed Gilnean spirits in the Blasted Lands, releasing their spirits from the physical world and allowing them to pass into the next.
- On Tol Barad Peninsula, the spirits of tortured souls are released at Forgotten Hill by paying respects to Forgotten soldier's Tombstones, after which Released Spirits are seen ascending.
- Pei-Zhi creates a tan-chao, a bridge from the living world to the heavens, to draw spirits called by the mogu back into the Shadowlands.
- In lore, it is possible for magic users to perform resurrection, which can be accomplished with different sources of magic.
- Cultural inspirations for each Shadowland seen thus far are wide and varied, see each page for more information.
- Some players have observed that the four governing zones of the Shadowlands can be taken to be the four stages of each day. Ardenweald is described as "moonless night", Revendreth's red sky box may be a reference to the ancient adages regarding red sky at morning thus dawn, Bastion almost always appears with daylight, and Maldraxxus would thus be dusk. Other comparisons have been attempted with the four humors.
- The Edge of Reality in which Ner'zhul retreats to is ether in the Shadowlands, in the Void or in the Twisting Nether.
- When Lich King Arthas died he spoke of "Seeing only darkness before him" while Sylvanas Windrunner said the same in Silverpine Forest after being risen from the dead by the Val'kyr. They could've in both cases have been sent to the Maw, as that appears to be the place Sylvanas was sent to when she killed herself in Icecrown Citadel.
- A Found Memento: Raising a King has Anduin Wrynn in a surprising vision see his father Varian Wrynn, it's unclear if this is a memory or perhaps a vision of Varian from some sort of afterlife in the Shadowlands.
- Some Kul Tirans speak of a boatman that calls them after death, and Jaina Proudmoore saw and paid the obol to a hooded figure, this boatman and Jaina's visions could be related to the Shadowlands.
- While the Shadowlands and Death for most of World of Warcraft's history have been associated with the most cryptic and mysterious of the cosmic powers, it has been hinted that some powers within its realms, such as the nathrezim and Sire Denathrius, have nevertheless been secretly responsible for many of the major events that have occurred in the universe of the living, including the Burning Crusade and the fracturing and eventual destruction of the Pantheon, as well as the eventual creation of the Scourge and the Lich King which helped pave the way for the Third War. The Pantheon of Death and their realms also seem to be at least indirectly involved in the cosmic war, with servants of the Light and Void having assaulted Revendreth and Bastion respectively in the past, Draka being dispatched to a Legion world to spy on their activities, references to Pantheon members such as Eonar and Norgannon existing in the Covenants of Ardenweald and Revendreth, and the very purpose of the Primus and Maldraxxus being essentially to create an unstoppable and infinite army capable of holding its own against outside threats to the Shadowlands.
Cosmic map with the Shadowlands.
- Player death
Spirit Obelisk at graveyards in the Shadowlands.
- BlizzCon 2019
- Concept art
- ^ The Art of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, pg. 5
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-02. World of Warcraft at BlizzCon® 2019 News Round-Up. Retrieved on 2021-03-07.
- ^ a b c d Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-26. BlizzCon 2019 | World of Warcraft: What's Next | Full Panel. YouTube.
- ^ a b c d e f g h Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-01. World of Warcraft: What’s Next Panel Recap. Retrieved on 2019-11-02.
- ^ a b World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 12
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-01. Shadowlands Preview: Bastion and the Kyrian Covenant. Retrieved on 2019-11-02.
- ^ a b MrGM 2019-11-02. Blizzcon Shadowlands Interview: Frank Kowalkowski & Steve Danuser - Titanforging/Tier Sets & More! (23:30 - 25:00). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-02.
- ^ Heather Newman 2020-07-17. How Warcraft: Shadowlands’ Story Unfolds, And Why It’s Not All Guest Stars. Forbes. Archived from the original on 2020-07-18.
- ^ a b c d e Ezgi Pajecki 2020-09-26. Maldraxxus, Shadowlands and Beyond - Interview with Steve Danuser. Lorekeeper. Archived from the original on 2020-09-27.
- ^ Garth Holden 2020-07-09. Interview with World of Warcraft art director Ely Cannon. SA Gamer. Archived from the original on 2020-08-04.
- ^ a b c d Judgehype - Interview de Steve Danuser sur l'histoire de Shadowlands
- ^ perculia 2020-07-09. Shadowlands Lore Interview with Lead Narrative Designer Steve Danuser - Elune, Sylvanas, Calia. Wowhead. Archived from the original on 2020-07-09.
- ^ WoWChakra 2020-05-15. Entrevista a Ion Hazzikostas sobre Shadowlands | Shadowlands interview with Ion Hazzikostas [EN/ES] (08:35). YouTube. Retrieved on 2020-05-19.
- ^ Bellular 2020-07-13. …SCOURGE INVASION! Pre-Patch, Shadowland’s Anti Grind, LESS RNG, New Gearing + MORE | Ion Interview (06:15 - 08:40). YouTube. Retrieved on 2020-09-27.
- ^ a b Garth Holden 2020-09-24. A deep dive into Maldraxxus, the defenders of Death. SA Gamer. Archived from the original on 2020-09-24.
- ^ The Day of the Dead has Arrived: "Can you feel it? The spirit world draws close during the Day of the Dead."
- ^ The Legend of Odyn#First of the Val'kyr
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 48
- ^ wowhead - BlizzCon 2019: A: We'll find out more of her motivations in Shadowlands and that her relationship with the Jailer dates back a bit. Edge of Night story involves this relationship. Working with Varian was a long term strategy in order to get war chief - had to make allies but now we're seeing the fruition of that.
- ^ Azeroth Radio 2019-11-03. John Hight & Johnny Cash SHADOWLANDS Interview! | BLIZZCON 2019! (06:57). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-07.
- ^ Interview with Steve Danuser on the history of Shadowlands
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment 2020-05-21. Shadowlands Preview: Oribos. Archived from the original on 2020-05-21.
- ^ a b Wam 2020-09-24. Maldraxxus Deep Dive With Steve Danuser. GamerBraves. Archived from the original on 2020-09-25.
- ^ Archetus the Mad Designer
- ^ a b Spirit Healer dialogue
- ^ a b The Legend of Odyn
- ^ a b Warcraft Radio 2019-11-03. John Hight & Johnny Cash SHADOWLANDS Interview! | BLIZZCON 2019! (10:15 - 12:40). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-07.
- ^ a b The Lost Codex 2019-11-05. BlizzCon 2019 Interview: Steve Danuser & Frank Kowalkowski - Story and Systems | The Lost Codex (18:00 - 19:58). YouTube. Retrieved on 2019-11-07.
- ^ Lucy's Lost Collar
- ^ 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.
- ^ Sybia 2020-09-24. WoW Shadowlands : Interview exclusive de Steve Danuser à propos de Maldraxxus (in French). Millenium. Archived from the original on 2020-09-24.
- ^ Mueh'zala yells: It be Mueh'zala who brought Helya to da Jailer's side... struck a deal for ol' Odyn's eye... and made da Banshee warchief with a whisper!
- ^ Shadowlands official site
- ^ Fuel for the Voodoo#Completion
- ^ World of Warcraft: Shadowlands#Features
- ^ World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Features Overview
- ^ : Sire Denathrius says: Ah! The mortal who escaped the inescapable prison. A living soul restoring hope to the realms eternal.
- ^ : "Or you may choose a different path. One that lets you forge a bond with a covenant now, and move freely through the realms of Death to forge your own destiny."
- ^ : Voice of the Primus yells: The realms of Death awash in darkness.
- ^ : Voice of the Primus says: I am the Primus. Your presence within my sanctum means a darkness has fallen upon Maldraxxus... and all the realms of Death.
- ^ : "The Jailer will surely use this power to shatter his bonds. Should he break free of the Maw, all the realms of Death will fall."
- ^ : Vision of the Primus says: Defend the realms of Death.
- ^ Sire Denathrius (tactics)#Adventure Guide: "For countless ages, Sire Denathrius stood among the Eternal Ones who rule the realms of Death."
- ^ Shadows Rising, pg. 179
- ^ Il'gynoth, Heart of Corruption whispers: N'Zoth... I journey... to Ny'alotha...
- ^ Il'gynoth, Corruption Reborn#Adventure Journal
- ^ Quetz'lun's Spirit
- ^ Warcraft: Orcs & Humans manual
- ^ Shadows & Light, pg. 132
- ^ Magic & Mayhem, pg. 45
- ^ Shadows & Light, pg. 131
- ^ Shadows & Light, pg. 152
- ^ Jeremy Feasel on Twitter
- ^ Game Informer #308: Reforging Real-time Strategy
- ^ Ner'zhul (tactics)
- ^ Roughneck Logger#Quotes
- ^ Warbringers: Jaina