Saturday, February 12, 2011

Who's the Big Bad of Warcraft?

For anybody not familiar with this Joss Whedonism: the Big Bad was from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Each season, Buff and her pals would have some adventures but ultimately, there was always one hideous entity behind everything. Usually, the Big Bad was going to try and destroy the world, or at least Hill Valley High School, and would get foiled. Nexseasonson, there would be a new Big Bad, and Willow would even say things like, "Dont worry, Buffy, we've taken out worse Big Bads than this."

I think it might not be possible to identify The Big Bad of Vanilla WoW, but each expansion has definitely had its Big Bad even if Blizzard muddled it up a bit. The clearer easiest example of The Big Bad is definitely The Lich King. Arthas was the renegade mastermind behind each piece of the Scourge, we stopped him and then one of the greatest threats to Azeroth was destroyed.

But who, or what, is the Ultimate Big Bad of WoW? Who is really manipulating everything as we know it into the conflict we have now? Y'know... the the Guy behind the Guy, behind the Guy. Let's look at some candidates:

Why Sargeras might be the Big Bad ...
  • He is an ex-Titan, and kinda the big mean martial one at that
  • He is a galactic threat. WoW sometimes gets bogged down in "local" trouble. Sargeras is above all that
  • He is stark, raving crazy.
  • He has the biggest baddest army around- The Burning Legion
  • When it comes to entities that most players know by name as being "bad" Sarge is at the top of that list
Why Sargeras might not be the Big Bad ...
  • Sargeras has already failed three times to conquor Azeroth.
  • One of those times, he was largely defeated by just one orc who hit him on the big toe. I mean really? The big toe?
  • Sargeras is fully in the "missing" ranks following his last ploy, when he gestated inside Medivh
  • The Burning Legion's greatest "victory" was corrupting the orcs. And let's be honest, corrupting a pre-literary hunter/gatherer based society isn't all that hard. I cold do that if I put my mind to it. So I'm not impressed.

The Old Gods
Why the Old Gods might be the Big Bad...

  • Well, if you ask me, Metzen and his minions have been pointing at Old Gods for some time now.
  • Old Gods are the essential "brainy" enemies. While Sargeras basically zergs Azeroth with his huge army, the Old Gods are playing the long game, full of guile, deception, and contingencies based in contingencies.
  • Old Gods even have successfully manipulated Sargeras and Deathwing for their own purposes. The failure of these plans came not from the manipulated wising up, but because the hearty folk of Azeroth intervened.
  • The do have the word "gods" in their title. That implies some serious celestial power.
  • While most every other bad guy in WoW was a good guy who went bad, the Old Gods were just plain bad from the start.
  • They have inscrutable goals: They just want to get free so they can play with worlds some more. No reason for this other than that they are apparently bored otherwise.
  • Lore suggests that Old Gods may be unkillable.
  • They have this whole scary "madness" thing going on.

Why the Old Gods might not be the Big Bad...
  • Even if the Old Gods are "unkillable," they certainly fall hard when you bring 24 of your best friends to go kick their asses.
  • Their "trickery"backfires with alarming regularity. They try and control Deathwing, but when push comes to shove, DW pushes back. They try and control Sargeras, and take their eye off the heroes of Azeroth. They try and control my guild but we are just too clever for that.
  • The Old Gods, or at least Yogg-Saron, failed to manipulate The Lich King, and in fact, only created a situation in which he was exploited to serve the Scourge's needs.

Why Kil'Jaeden might be the Big Bad...
  • He got foiled too, but really got farther into Azeroth than Sargeras ever did.
  • He's not crazy: He's just ambitious and hateful, and has a big grudge against our world.
  • He has a big grudge against our world, with the Draenei presence especially. This really counts for a lot.
  • While most of these other villany types are kind of "hands-off" villains, Kil-Jaeden has a history of really jumping in and doing things himself.
  • Kil'Jaeden has not succeeded in destroying Azeroth either, but he has come a lot closer than his boss. It was Kil'Jaeden's plan to corrupt the orcs. It was also him who set the Lich King on us.
Why Kil'Jaden might not be the Big Bad...
  • He is still basically the "second-in-command" of the Burning Legion. I think he has the ambition to take over the demon army, but with Sargeras only listed as "missing" and not "dead," we all know it's really only a matter of time before the Boss comes back.
  • Kil'Jaden was basically Archimonde's twin and we now know all it takes is a whole bunch of wisps to blow up a giant eredar, so Kil'Jaden is toast unless he manages to take us by surprise.

Why Illidan might be the Big Bad...
  • Because a bunch of goofs decided to run around to each panel at last year's Blizzcon demanding to know when Illidan would be back. And now it has spilled over into forums and other places where individuals can leave behind lame attempts at WoW-related humor.

Why Illidan might not be the Big Bad...
  • Because he's really dead.

Nozdormu, The Aspect of the Bronze Dragonflight
Why Nozdormu might be the Big Bad...
  • He has the power. Nozdormu operates in all times at once. There have been instances when dozens or even hundreds of himself have converged on a moment of history in an attempt to "stabilize" history. We say how the Old Gods work through guile and manipulation... well, Nozdormu has all the means to one up those guys if he decides it's necessary.
  • He has the motive. When the Titans gave him all this power over time, they showed him the moment of his death as a way of suggesting to him that even he couldn't escape fate. It was supposed to be a lesson in humility, but really, if somebody showed you how you were going to die, wouldn't you do frakking everything you could to prevent that?
  • He can change fate. As a follow up to this last point, Nozdormu did effectively change the flow of destiny by removing Rhonin, Korialstrasz and Broxigar to the time of the War of the Ancients. The changes they made were ostensibly small. But they were changes. Look out because the word is that we'll be going back to the War of the Ancients any time now ourselves, via the Caverns of Time.
  • Nozdormu is up to something tricky. It was revealed in the last expansion that he is the master of the Infinite Dragonflight, that organization of spotty black malcontents who we keep fighting in the Caverns of Time. Those guys are trying to undo history, so much so that the rest of the Bronze flight, operating without the boss' input for the most part, are quite alarmed.
  • We should be used to our dragon "protectors" going bad by now.

Why Nozdormu might not be the Big Bad...

I'll be honest, I can't really think of anything. I was really done with this article after Kil'Jaden, then I decided I'd refer to Illidan on a lark and then thought a little more about it and came up with Nozdormu. I think his power trumps all but whatever Titans gave him that power, and he has the simplest, easiest motive for doing all this.


  1. hai frend u u ver ver preeedy an i think it old gods cus they cant die an r scary an hav tantecles

  2. Nozdormu is an Aspect, I think that should at least count for something in your "might not be" column. True 1/5 have already perished, and it is only a matter of time before that is 2/5, but I like to think that Blizzard won't make the number of Aspects that have fallen from grace the majority =(

    In any case, my vote is for Sargeras. I base that on the fact that he's directly or indirectly had a hand in creating almost all of the antagonists we've fought this far, and because the Naaru are gathering an "Army of the Light" to one day fight against an "Army of Darkness", which pretty much has to be the Burning Legion.

    * Fixed some typos.

  3. Just something to point out here, but Blizzard never came out and said (to my knowledge that is) that Nozdormu is the leader of the Infinite Flight. There was the quest where it shows him working/hanging out/not utterly destroying them on the spot, but we should not jump to conclusions. All the quest did was point us into that direction and make us wonder.

    As for the ultimate baddy, I think it is Sargeras. The whole
    "One of those times, he was largely defeated by just one orc who hit him on the big toe. I mean really? The big toe?"
    is the product of the imagination of a really terrible author. That being said, I think with him out of the picture for so long, hes long overdue for a comeback.
    And when you get right down to it, who else is there to kill? More Old Gods? KJ... again? Maybe Kaelthas?

    I feel like it almost has to be Sargeras, and if you wanted to take a small leap of the imagination, you could say that Sargeras was responsible for the whole emerald dream being corrupted....

  4. Sean, I think they say that Nozdormu is the leader in their novels. I'm pretty sure I read it in Day of the Dragon.

    My bet for the big bad is the Titans themselves. We could be their weapon against Sargeras, but they'll end up having nos us for us and think they should destroy Azeroth so that they can get rid of the Old Gods and we'll say "Uh-uh, ain't happening, we don't want our planet to go boom!".

  5. @Sean: The whole point of that quest and ritual was to reveal the leader of the Infinite Dragonflight. When you complete the ritual: boom, Nozdormu appears. When you turn the quest in Chromie just kinda awkwardly says that she guesses the ritual didn't work.

    But I'm with Poilbrun. I think it will come down to the Titans. They already installed a giant self-destruct button IN our planet. It took a big battle and show of indomitable mortal will to convince the button presser (Algalon) to refrain.

    I have a feeling the Titans will see the Old Gods running amok, Sargeras, Killy'J, and the Burning Legion tearing in from the Twisting Nether. We'll deal with that and the Titans will twitch like someone with OCD whose house has been rearranged and decide Azeroth is too far gone to preserve. That's when we mortals will roll up our sleeves and say, "Well, we'll just see about that".

  6. Buffy was Sunnydale.

    Hill Valley was BttF.

  7. “I know what you hide from her, from usss. It is my fate and curssse to know such things and be unable myssself to prevent them. Know that I now asssk for forgiveness for the wrongs I will caussse you in the future, but I mussst be what I am destined to be... as Malygos is.”

    this is a direct quote from the Bronze Aspect. I for one, see a Time War on the horizon. But, definitely not the big bad.

    (WTB Harrison Jones-Esque NPC. The Physician. And a Blue Box)

    I had this long post but unfortunately I lost it in the comment section. I will do my best to rewrite it.

    -Sargeras wasn't defeated by a blow to the big toe. He was attacked with a magical axe, which although wounded him.. still had the power to crush Brox, and then step through the rapidly closing portal to Azeroth, getting stuck, and thus losing his physical form.

    -Old Gods, although they are at the forefront, I don't see them being the ultimate bads. Although, they've been the final boss in 2 raids, and several of the minions are main antagonists, I don't believe Blizzard would use such a weak (not magically, just creatively) NPC as the ultimate bad. But, I wouldn't discount it automatically, knowing Blizzard.

    -KJ, and any other previously 'defeated' boss, would just be a cop out, and I think everyone knows that. But, again, not out of the realm of possibilities.

    I wouldn't be surprised if we see more Loa gods make a return at some point. But, even those draw their corruption from an outside force.

    My money is on one of three things. Either the Sargeras/Titan route hinted at in the posts above.

    A possible 'Old God' Boss. I can't be the only one that's noticed a trend. Those deemed actual 'Old Gods':
    C'Thun: Themed around Eyeballs
    Yogg-Saron: Themed around mouths.
    N'Zoth: As yet, unseen. Resides underneath the Maelstrom.

    Old Gods have always been heavily influenced by Lovecraft, and there is so much of the Lovecraftian universe to still borrow from. And seeing as how most of the antagonists come from a different world, we could barely know the half of it. Or, hell. Perhaps what we've been fighting and calling old gods are just pieces of a greater entity lying beneath the surface of the world, attempting to emerge from the cracks in their prisons. Perhaps this greater entity is the reason the old gods couldn't be destroyed. Perhaps it's seeped into the core of Azeroth, and destruction would make the world itself implode.

    And last but not least, I wouldn't put it past Blizzard to pull a massive retcon or lore-summit to create a new antagonist. Something not previously mentioned. Just because we know who the bad guys are now, doesn't mean we won't see some new ones come out of nowhere in 1 or 2 expansions. Look what they did with the Draenei. Look how many times they've changed the number of living or dead Old Gods, or even the origins of the old gods. I for one, go with this theory the most. Our Ultimate bad, probably won't be established in the Canon for a couple more expansions. We may be misled to thinking on on this list is.. but Blizzard can't ever let us know everything.

  8. Also, I forgot one thing from the lost post.

    -We know who was causing the corruption in the emerald dream. Although we don't know who he was working for, his history, pretty much speaks for itself.

  9. Hi guys, I just wanted to say how utterly delighted I am to see so many visitors commenting on this. I love the points about the possibility of Titans getting up in our faces, and I like K's suggestion that having the Old Gods dominating everything is creatively a bit weak. Yah, WoW is derivative and owes a lot of inspiration to a lot of sources, but I think Metzen and the boys ought to be capable of bringing up a satisfying denouement that doesn't feel like a rip-off from Lovecraft or anybody else. (although cramming four films worth of Indy Jones into Uldum has given me pause)