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The Story of Chains of Domination - Shadowlands Lore with Nobbel87
2021/02/21 at 4:16 PM
Following the Chains of Domination reveal at BlizzConline, Nobbel87 is here to walk you through all the new lore details and piece together the story of Shadowlands.
Everything We Learned about Chains of Domination at BlizzConline
The Story Leading Up to 9.1
The main story in Chains of Domination will focus on the Jailer, Sylvanas, and the darkness of the Maw.
The Jailer is a new character to the Warcraft franchise who made a big entrance at Shadowlands' launch. He was imprisoned in the Maw by the Eternal Ones, a Pantheon of Death, as a cryptic message from the (now-missing) Primus explains:
Ages ago, the Eternal Ones punished our brother Zovaal for his treachery. He was bound within the inescapable Maw, to be forevermore its Jailer.
Now I fear that Zovaal did not act alone. I suspect he had ancient allies... and will seek to win others to his cause.
That you are hearing this message means my suspicions proved true. Zovaal has forged his chains into a weapon... and brought about my defeat.
There is but one hope to save the Shadowlands. The Eternal Ones must stand together once more, before the Jailer escapes the Maw.
Bring my warning to the Archon, the Winter Queen, and the Sire. They must see to our defenses. Do not let Zovaal reach the sepulcher.
The Arbiter is the final key. Protect her, or all is lost.
The Jailer has been locked in the Maw for unspeakable crimes, a zone where only the worst souls are sent if they are beyond redemption in Revendreth. Naturally. the Jailer has been working diligently at breaking free of his prison, secretly amassing a group of allies, including Sylvanas and Sire Denathrius, to help him with his plan. At an unspecified point in Legion, the cycle of death was broken and all souls were funneled into the Maw, leading to an anima shortage in all other Shadowlands zones, and even more power for the Jailer.
The Story Leading Up to Shadowlands' Launch
As we play through Shadowlands' end-game quests, we also learned more about the history of Frostmourne and Helm of Domination. These instruments of power were extracted from the Runecaver under the Jailer's orders, later making their way into the hands of the Dreadlords and Burning Legion. There's even a book in Revendreth that heavily links the Dreadlords to the Jailers, agents of a cosmic-wide war.
Runecarver's Memory Cinematic
Sire Denathrius, keeping his allegiances to the Jailer secret, has been gathering Anima to funnel into the Maw. When he's exposed, we then take the fight to his center of power, Castle Nathria, as the first raid of Shadowlands. He's defeated, but not dead--instead he's locked away within his blade Remornia. BlizzConline revealed that his character was so popular that he was kept alive and we may see him in a future patch!
Castle Nathria Raid
, we see Devos discover the reason for Uther's broken spirit and the power of the Maw imbued in Frostmourne. The Archon didn't listen so Devos took justice into her own hands and encouraged Uther to throw Arthas' soul into the Maw. While her motives may have started off noble, the in-game story shows how the Forsworn are tied to Helya, another ally of the Jailer whom we first met in Legion in Helheim, having broken free of Odyn's control.
Analysis of Afterlives: Bastion
We also solve some mysteries from Legion in Shadowlands. Notably, we learn in the Night Fae Campaign that Mueh'zala was the voice who told Vol'jin to appoint Sylvanas Warchief, leading to the war that played out in Battle for Azeroth. And of course, we have the mystery of Sylvanas' actions over the past few years clarified--she's an ally of the Jailer, growing in power as more souls are sent to the Maw. We've learned a little bit more about her motivations in some confrontational cinematics with Anduin--she wants to ally with the Jailer to tear down a system that has treated her unfairly and robbed her of agency--but it's very questionable if the Jailer will fulfill those goals.
Kyrian StoryNecrolord StoryNight Fae StoryVenthyr Story
As we play through the Torghast storyline to unlock Twisting Corridors, we will free Jaina, Baine, and Thrall from Torghast but Anduin proves too difficult to rescue. The Torghast story ends on a cliffhanger as Anduin throws Sylvanas' choice back in her face--will she turn him? Why is Bolvar tormented by the Jailer when trying to peer in Torghast to see Anduin? Why does the Jailer say the past Lich Kings were failures? When will Sylvanas learn that the Jailer was responsible for Frostmourne, a weapon used to shape her fate, which she bitterly despises?
Story of Torghast and Twisting Corridors
Chains of Domination Cinematic
BlizzConline started with the galvanizing "Kingsmourne" cinematic, revealing Anduin is now a puppet of the Jailer, attacking the Archon to retrieve a mysterious key. Sylvanas has made her choice.
The cinematic is filled with throwbacks to past iconic moments in Warcraft's history, visually linking Anduin to Arthas as the young light-wielding king embarks on a similar path. There are some really interesting pieces in the cinematic, such as Uther stopping to stare as Anduin passes by, seemingly recognizing the young King of Stormwind and putting his hand to his chest in apparent salute. It's a rather quick moment, and you wouldn't think twice about it, except Uther never actually met Anduin, at least not as a grown up. Instead, what he actually recognizes is a malevolent aura - one that reminds him of Arthas, as he places his hand over the death wound left on him by his former king. This is a very nice sequence that most wouldn't catch the first time they watch, until after seeing Anduin's reveal as the newest agent of the Jailer.
Going along with that reveal, there's a very nice parallel as Anduin stabs the corrupted Shalamayne into the ground in a scene nearly identical to the
Wrath of the Lich King cinematic
in which Arthas raises Sindragosa into undeath. There's also another parallel where Anduin leaps to stab the Archon in a frame nearly identical to Varian using the uncorrupted Shalamayne to attack the demons in Legion.
After the cinematic, we're left with three keys for the Jailer to retrieve and Sylvanas looking unhappy, perhaps slowly realizing the link between the Jailer and Arthas--he's the agent of her torment, not an ally.
Covenant Campaigns Continue in Patch 9.1
The story in Patch 9.1 will pick up immediately after the attack on Bastion in the cinematic. All the covenants band together, rallied by Bolvar, to take the fight to the Jailer. This will lead to new content such as the covenant campaign and quests, as well as systems changes such as the removal of Eye of the Jailer and ability to use ground mounts in the Maw.
The Covenant Campaign will detail the fight against the Jailer's forces, but also pick up the unfinished stories for characters like Uther. As a neat added bonus, all covenants will experience the same story so players will have a better sense of what's going on. Here's an excerpt from Wowhead's
Yeah, the story structure for 9.1 is actually pretty interesting.
Not only are you going to be having the Covenants sort of come together and taking the fight against the Jailer within the first couple of chapters, but we're also going to be returning to each of the Covenant storylines and sort of wrapping things up a little bit. Everybody will be able to do these because the Covenants have come together and you want to kind of get across that vibe.
If you're a Venthyr, you can join on the Bastion chapter and you can help the Kyrians sort of wrap up the storyline of the Forsworn and Uther and in that way not only do we get across the feeling that Covenants are coming together but everybody gets to experience the finale of all 4 of the Covenant questlines, at least as far as the finale goes in Chains of Domination. Certainly this is not the end of the story for most of our Covenants in the Shadowlands or the Shadowlands itself, but you'll at least be able to sort of get caught up on what's been going on on all the groups you haven't seen up until now, see what happens next and then of course, if you're a member of one of those Covenants and you're on one of those questlines, we want you to feel extra cool. So if you're Kyrian and you're doing the Bastion section of that questline, you'll have extra little quest elements, you'll have extra little lore tidbits that are specific to you so you still feel like Kyrian.
Completing the new Covenant Campaigns will be the only requirement to unlock Shadowlands Pathfinder. It will also be tied to unlocking new flying mounts, cosmetic armor sets, and covenant Pepes!
Cosmetic Armor Set ImagesCovenant Flying Mount Images
Korthia and the Return of the Dreadlords
Korthia is a new central hub in Chains of Domination that the Jailer pulled out of secrecy with his chains. The attendants and guardians left behind by the First Ones have been protecting the secrets of the Shadowlands, the First Ones, the mechanisms of death, and how the Shadowlands works--all things the Jailer is eager to unearth.
One exciting reveal is that the Dreadlords will make a return in Korthia! This all-but-confirms some theories linking the Dreadlords to the Jailer, as Nobbel explains:
In the later chapters we’ll even see our old friends the Dreadlords make a return. Within Revendreth there’s a book called Enemy Infiltration-Preface. We’ve already dedicated a video on this, but it pitches the idea that the realm of death has infiltrated all the cosmic domains. That the Dreadlords are actually connected to the domain of death, rather then disorder and the domain of the demons. This also explains the missing link between Frostmourne crafted in the Shadowlands and ending up in the hands of Kil’jaeden. As I said we’ve done a whole bunch of speculating on it already, Korthia is going to dive more into what they’re doing here, who they’re working for, will we see the Dreadlords strike out to save their Sire Denathrius from his current fate?
If you'd like to learn more about
Enemy Infiltration - Preface
, check out our analysis and collaborative video with Nobbel87.
Cosmic War and Enemy Infiltration Analysis
Sanctum of Domination Raid
Blizzard revealed the raid for Patch 9.1: Sanctum of Domination. This will be a 10 boss raid with notable Shadowlands characters such as:
The Tarragrue from Torghast everyone hates;
Eye of the Jailer, tied to the story of Odyn losing his eye from Legion;
Fate of the Damned, connected to some of the worst souls designated for the Jailer's personal torment;
Kel'thuzad, the architect of the turmoil of Maldraxxus explored in the Necrolord and Venthyr campaigns. This will be the third time we fight him, will the third time be a charm?
Sylvanas Windrunner was revealed as the final boss of Sanctum of Domination. Final boss encounters are always complex, but Sylvanas' encounter proves to be truly special as players have over a decade of history with her. While the details of the encounter are predictably kept a secret, the encounter will have weighty ramifications for the story of Shadowlands. If you also look back to the
series from Battle for Azeroth, us fighting Sylvanas will mean we've now fought all three characters as end-bosses.
Sanctum of Domination Details
Here's Nobbel's thoughts on the reveal:
This could mean that Sylvanas will end up like a Gul’dan, used to bring us into the next expansion to then just appear as a raid boss and it’s over and done with. I’ve heard from some that they’re rather sick of Sylvanas and just want her to be gone, but personally I hope there’s more to it then that. I think a characters like Sylvanas deserves more then just "Here I am, come take me out in a raid" but we’ll find out if we even take her out or if she manages to escape.
The end of this fight is going to change the future of the Shadowlands, so of course they weren’t going to spoil the ending of the patch. What they did instead was hype up confronting Sylvanas. Several interviews and Q&A’s where they mentioned that they definitely thought about her character. One of the most epic moments with so much story behind it. It’s not just going to be a simple matter of just fighting her with our swords, there will be a lot of story connected to it Really hope they can deliver!
Nobbel's Thoughts on the Future Story
There are still many details on the Chains of Domination story to be filled in, and Nobbel speculates on where it could go. Let us know in the comments what your thoughts are on the future story and what you'd like to see!
I'm really looking forward to see the details behind the Jailer and Sylvanas further explored. The mysteries of the First Ones, the connection to the Pantheon of Death and what might have happened in the past. What made Sylvanas an ally to the Jailer, what are they aiming at.
I’m still holding on to the guess that the Shadowlands as we see it right now is not the way it’s supposed to be. That this machine of death is purely designed to keep the jailer locked away and that the afterlife is not supposed to be a "sorting hat, now get to work" kind of deal. Would be surprised if the Shadowlands remains the way it is now when all is said and done considering regular people of Azeroth have popped into Oribos for a visit. Might learn what it takes to end up in a specific domain and then adjust their entire lives to it. I’d be surprised if that remains active.
Do wonder how all of them are going to react to Anduin’s transformation and if that’s a perma-fate or if they’ll reverse it later. It is a brilliant opportunity to give Uther a second chance at getting it right. With Arthas the prince was lost forever and Uther went for vengeance, he could be a great aid in turning Anduin back around. Varian as a Goldrin Logosh running around in Ardenweald would be sweet. Vol’jin a new Loa of Kings might offer the boy king some advice along the way. Even Arthas could play a massive roll in this. Anduin has once said to Garrosh that he wasn’t an Arthas, time to prove it.
Will Tyrande make it to the raid on time for that showdown with Sylvanas? Considering she’s been raging through the Maw and the halls of Torghast for so long, would be a shame if she missed out. Nathanos could also show up for the party but who knows what the future might bring, can’t wait to find out.
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I'm really surprised that we get to finish Sylvannas so soon. I thought she would have been the second-to-last boss to the Jailor himself at the end of the expansion.
But we don't. Apparently we'll be "learning more about her motivations", and we will be given a chance to "reconsider our position" when it comes to her. Of course, unless "we already decided that we hate her".
Really. We're not going to be finising her. The "fateful encounter" is going to be just another soap box for her greatness, to show us why she's a boss and we're only puny mortals. I'd like nothing more than to have her as a mid-boss in a raid, beating her as an afterthought as we push to undo the real villain's scheme. But that's not happening, she's too precious to a certain someone.
For the record, I like Sylvannas, as well as all the villains that come off as "the third faction" other than the good and the evil.
As I've written in the past, good villains need to be complex, and they must have a good goal, only to accomplish it by doing evil, immoral things, of which she thinks the end justifies the means, that the price, measured in deaths, is worth it.
We are too used to cartoon villains, which are one-sided and flat, and does evil deeds just because they like it. They are easy to understand, thus easy to hate. But they lack motives, and therefore hard to believe.
Real villains have complex psychological states, and the most interesting kind is one who has a morally-good goal, but they "use every means possible" to try to achieve that, including using immoral ways.
It's like in order to preserve peace, there must be war.
I applaud Sylvannas for wanting to go against the establishment. That's a great and noble goal and I like everyone who tries to destroy/hurt/change the establishment. But the way she goes to accomplish that, by killing uncountably many people, is wrong. With every death, the means become less and less justifiable against the end.
And of course, she's terrible at communications and leadership skills.
Back to the story, I expect Sylvannas to attempt to usurp the Jailor.
That's just another type of a very clichéd and boring villain. Sylvanas is not a complex character. She's driven by plot device and writer preference, rather than evolving organically. Yes, Thanos was a boring villain too, and so was Loki. But I guess that's just what I get for having grown up with actually interesting villains, like David Xanatos, Skeletor, or Angelica Pickles.
Yeah Thanos was far from boring *outside* the MCU.
Write a villain that is not in some way "clichéd" or driven by a handful of--if not a single--motive.
That said, you mentioned Angelica Pickles. I wish I could give you infinite upvotes for that...
Back to the endgame tho (pun not intended), I'm hoping Anduin kills Bolivar, Sylvanas saves Anduin and condemns herself to taking the mantle of Lich Queen. No happy ending for her, not quite redemption, but still around in some way. I'd rather that than have another character killed off only to have them come back again, and again... *cough*Kael'thas*cough*Kel'Thuzad*cough*
I actually do like Sylvanas, and always have. Whether that is attributed to her character itself or for a number of ridiculous tropes found only in the deepest recesses of /4chan (I hate /4chan), I'm still not sure.
The Forsaken were my first chosen race back when Vanilla launched and much like those who are die-hard fans of other races, Sylvanas made a lasting impression on me the same way that Thrall's journey from slave to leader (along with Grommash's sacrifice) was in part the reason I started playing WoW to begin with after WC3.
I understand why so many are done with her and want her straight up dead, but there are also those torn between what fate they think is appropriate for her, as well as those who simply think there's more to her and are reluctant to address the (seemingly inevitable) day she bites the dust.
The Jailer is a giant cliché himself. Ambiguous but threatening enough that we want to know more. The simple want for power, likely fueled by his banishment/exile. The same could be said about Sylvanas' beginnings as a villain.
Garrosh as a character was relegated to a handful of dialogue before Thrall passed on the mantle of Warchief to him. He then became a power-hungry tyrant, albeit mainly because he was just (deep down in his loincloth) a whiney orc-child who felt angry, let-down and betrayed. Oooooo such depth there.
Betrayal, anger and loss run deep in most characters that are at the forefront of the game. Every character in WoW is essentially a clichéd bag of tricks. Even Jaina and Thrall who have some of the most fleshed-out histories (well.. Jaina took a while to get there).
- Arthas was corrupt after a brief starry-eyed history as a prince living in his father's shadow, betrayed his father and his own people.
- Kael'thas was betrayed. Repeatedly.
- Sylvanas was betrayed. Repeatedly.
- Their entire race was betrayed. Repeatedly.
- Thrall went from messianic leader to humble nomad almost in a forced attempt to "make him different," was betrayed by Garrosh who was betrayed by Thrall.
- Cairne was betrayed by Magatha who decieved Garrosh who was betrayed by Thrall, leading to Baine feeling alone and betrayed.
- Vol'jin was decieved by the Jailer, leading to The Alliance feeling they were betrayed by Sylvanas/The Horde (who was only doing what she was told) and driving Anduin's entire story arc (more loss at the hands of betrayal).
- Gul'dan betrayed and was betrayed. Repeatedly.
- Archimond and Kil'Jaeden felt betrayed when Velen denounced the "prosperity" offered by Sargeras, leading to Velen being betrayed by Kil'Jaeden and Archimond (they literally hunted him across The Great Dark because they were blind to the forces bent on corrupting them, even after Velen's warning).
- Malfurion was betrayed by Xavius.
- Jaina felt betrayed by Thrall/The Horde.
- Katherine Proudmoore felt betrayed by Jaina.
- Anduin: Betrayed by Sylvanas. Again.
- Calia Menethil: Betrayed by Sylvanas, a product of Calia's brother, Arthas (did I mention he betrayed his entire kingdom?).
- Lilian Voss, anyone?
- Sargeras? I mean this one's easy.
- Illidan THE BETRAYER? Edgelord of all!
Almost any example I can think of (and I would happily droll on) stems from a want for power, a want for revenge/vengeance on someone/something due to the results of a want for power, loads of betrayal and almost always loss.
Even Anduin's quest for peace is breached by doubt, anger and loss, making him wholly innocent of nothing.
Many of these examples could even be said to mirror each other.
So at this rate, the entire story is just a giant cliché? Or?
You know the one thing people fail to mention when they go off about "failed writing," "bad characters," etc.?;
It all boils down to the (often absurd) expectations of the playerbase/fanbase--something that is fast becoming a cliché in-and-of itself.
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