FROM TITANS AND OLD GODS, TO ORCS AND HUMANS, TO THE SCOURGE'S REIGN OF CHAOS AND ONWARD TO THE LEGION, NO OTHER HAS A HISTORY AS RICH AND EXCITING AS THAT OF THE WORLD OF WARCRAFT UNIVERSE.
With the World of Warcraft Classic release, many new adventurers to Azeroth are becoming interested in WoW lore. While it’s true you don't have to know the Warcraft history in order to appreciate the magnitude of World of Warcraft, learning about the history and lore can really add to the experience and immersion into the Warcraft universe. Azeroth's history is exciting and fun and full of mystery. Azeroth's history can be found everywhere. In addition to the Warcraft games, novels and shorts, "World of Warcraft" itself offers so many nuggets of lore within the storylines as well as books found throughout the game. From the book "Mythology of the Titans", found in Scarlet Monastery, to taking the fight to the Legion on Argus in the World of Warcraft Legion expansion, here's part 1 of the breakdown of the expansive history of the Warcraft universe.
IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WERE TITANS AND SHADOW...
Well, the Titans didn't exactly create the universe. We still don't know how the universe came to be. But the Titans, led by a council called the Pantheon, regulated the universe, the worlds and the beings that inhabited them. But from the Twisting Nether came dark magic--shadow magic and beings who sought to either destroy or control everything, the Eredar warlocks, enslaving countless worlds. The in-game book "Sargeras and the Betrayal" explains the rise and fall of the titans' greatest warrior, Sargeras. Sargeras was appointed to defend and protect the worlds from the spreading evil. And though Sargeras defeated the Eredar, he fell into depression, making him susceptible to corruption by his next foe, the Natherim or dreadlords. Sargeras, unable to shake the corruption and the depression joined the Natherim's Burning Legion. Sargeras acted as a sort of double agent, undermining all of the progress that the titans made as they went from world to world shaping and organizing.
Disclaimer: "Sargeras and the Betrayal" is the original tale of Sargeras' downfall. His lore was rewritten for Legion.
BEHOLD! A NEW WORLD CALLED EARTH AZEROTH!
The titans made their way to a new world and called it Azeroth. But there, they discovered the inhabitants worshipped powerful, elemental beings referred to as The Old Gods. And so, the Pantheon waged war on The Old Gods. The Old Gods' armies were led by Therazane of earth, Al'akir of wind, Ragnaros of fire and Neptulon of water. Though the elemental lieutenants were powerful, they were not powerful enough to defeat the Pantheon's armies and were imprisoned far beneath the earth. After they felt their work was done with the ordering of Azeroth, they charged the dragon aspects, Alexstraza, Ysera, Nozdormu, Malygos and Neltharion to watch over their prized accomplishment, Kalimdor.
On this new world was a mysterious lake of great power, the Well of Eternity. The quel'dorei or Night Elves believed that the moon goddess, Elune, slumbered in The Well during sunlight. So the priests studied the well. Their quest of knowledge allowed them to create civilizations across the whole of Kalimdor. Queen Azshara built a civilization on the coast. She and her loyal subjects were also fascinated with the magical properties of The Well and began experimentation. They discovered their powers grew and soon could create or destroy life as they saw fit. It wasn't long before Sargeras felt the power of the Well and the practicing highborne from worlds away. Malfurion Stormrage, a powerful student of druidism suspected there was something corrupting Queen Azshara and her highborne elves. And so Sargeras convinced Queen Azshara to create open a portal at the Well of Eternity, prompting the first invasion of The Burning Legion. With the help of the dragon aspects, the Burning Legion was defeated, but not before Neltharion went mad and turned on his fellow aspects, renaming himself Deathwing. The Well of Eternity was destroyed and the highborne were exiled.
THE HOMELESS HIGH ELVES FIND A NEW HOME.
After surviving the War of the Ancients and being exiled, the highborne, led by Dath'Remar sailed the turbulent waters of The Great Sea. Finally, they landed on the beaches of northern Lordaeron. They trekked inland, settling in Tirisfal Glades. However, there was something quite evil beneath the earth and many of the highborne went mad. They continued northward, encountered new creatures and beings and tribes of primitive humans--the Zul'Aman trolls--and finally they found a place that they could call home. They founded Quel'thalas and made Silvermoon City their capitol. They defeated the invading trolls and lived in peace for over 4,000. And then, having regrouped in the shadows, the trolls attacked, nearly destroying Quel'thalas.
The humans warred with each other constantly until one tribe, the Arathi tribe led by Thoradin, sought to unite the tribes. After defeating rival tribes, the Arathi would offer peace to those he conquered, gaining their respect and loyalty. With all human tribes united for the first time, they built Strom, becoming the first human empire led by King Thoradin. Envoys from Quel'thalas ventured to Strom to plead for help. The elves decided to some of the secrets of their magic with 100 select humans. Together, the elves and humans laid waste to the troll armies. Quel'thalas pledged their friendship and loyalty to Arathor and its bloodline.
AND THE HUMANS FUMBLED THE BALL.
The select 100 who learned the ways of the elves passed their knowledge down to a newer, naive generation. The humans began to spread out and built a second city called Dalaran just to the north of Strom. The new magi, feeling constricted, moved to Dalaran hoping to practice magic freely. They built up Dalaran, but their frivolity lured the Burning Legion back to Azeroth. Luckily, they did not come in armies, but launched small scale attacks. Still, they proved too powerful for the novice mages. The Dalaran mages sought help from the Quel'thalas.
The elves told them of the history of the Burning Legion and the dangers of practicing magic. The elves and human magi of Dalaran made a pact: they would entrust the magic of all with one responsible mage. The elves stressed the importance of keeping magic and the Burning Legion a secret, as to not spread fear, pandemonium and more recklessness. Thus, they created a secret council, The Guardians of Tirisfal. As more humans practiced magic throughout the lands, the Guardians' job was to monitor and assess to which degree of power was used. The Guardians of Tirisfal became known as the Kirin Tor or Mage Senate.
In addition to the many books, short stories, and comics about World of Warcraft lore, you can find lots of juicy little tidbits of history in various books, scrolls, letters, NPC interaction in-game.