Posted by: Sean | December 3, 2008

Theme Week Undead: The Undead Play File.

What do the undead feel about the other races? As with most things, the answer is: Nothing strong. Whatever the reason (Jess calls post-traumatic stress disorder, David Bowers calls rotting glands) it’s clear that the undead don’t feel very strong emotions. The strongest emotions they can call up isn’t even the passionate negativity of hate or fury, but rather the darker and more poisonous emotions of bitterness and spite.

So when they look at other races, even other enemy races, they can’t really get too worked up. Instead, they evaluate. While some races they may have some inbuilt spite for, mostly, every race is yet another part of the living. As far as an undead mind is concerned, if you’re alive? Then the rest is details.

And if you’re Scourge? Then that spite may become something a hint more frightening again.

The other side to the Forsaken is their inherent knowledge of corruption. They see the openings for such corruption in every group, and usually move to pinpoint them.

The Horde

Blood Elves: The undead were, upon a time, very happy about the inclusion of the Sin’dorei in the Horde. How could they not be? The Sin’dorei were a firm ally in a union where they were the distrusted minority, and they had three holds on this ally that made them far more dependable than cheap loyalty ever could. They were the ones who brought them into the Horde and gave them a chance. (A weak hold, that’s basically just loyalty.) Secondly, their magic addiction made them distrusted: Who knew what the elves would do for their fix? And this line of logic always held more sway among the Kalimdor Horde than it did the Forsaken. Finally, and most potently, the undead’s strong magic and alchemy made them an excellent source of temporary remedies for the Sin’dorei, and they knew they could peddle these to them.

Now, the two strongest holds they had are gone. Only cheap loyalty remains, and neither side were under any illusions of friendship. Worse, the Forsaken know that if the elves do get into the orcs’ good graces (a distinct possibility) then the Forsaken will be outnumbered four to one in the Horde.

As such, most Forsaken are rather uncertain around the blood elves now. They’re desperate to keep them as allies, but it may well be now that the Forsaken have nothing to offer them.

The point of corruption in the blood elves are the guilty. A lot of Blood Elves did Very Bad Things™ to satisfy their magic addiction and wish that they could have never done so. The Undead are happy to offer the next best thing, and make sure nobody finds out.

“You’d be wise to listen to what I have to say, elf. Just because you have your Sunwell again hardly means your troubles are over, does it?”

Orcs: Contrary to what some may think, the Forsaken have no interest in controlling the Horde, so the orcs aren’t really seen as rivals. What’s the Horde? It’s not a prize, it’s a tool. Being the leaders doesn’t mean you win. It just means you can control the tool more directly. So the real question is: How easy are the orcs to manipulate indirectly? Answer: Pretty easy. Orcs can be riled up to take on any foe, even ones they’d not be well advised to take on. A clever operator can pretty easily get an orc to do the ‘right’ thing. And they so handily never stop to think these things through. Forsaken tend to thus treat orcs with false friendship and hidden contempt.

The point of corruption in the orcs is pride. The orcs have always been a warrior people and none can deny that, despite the horrors of the blood curse, they waged two wars more spectacular than anything else in their history while enslaved to the Burning Legion. Nobody wants to be demon-cursed again, but a lot would like the glory back. This is the point to play on.

“No, no. Look, I have proof. See this? This is a soul-stone. It’s a stone the warlocks make from the souls of their victims. I stole it from his tent. He’s part of the … the Burning Blade, yes, that’s their name.”

Tauren: But the tauren are another matter. Slow to anger, quick to think, they’re a difficult group to shift about. Generally, the Forsaken realise that the Tauren aren’t a good target to be used, and instead play to minimise their advice and impact upon the rest of the Horde. The standard gambit against them is the rationality point; the Tauren are a heavily spiritual tribe, and while their shamanic heritage is hard to argue against (since more than half of the Horde believe in such) their druidic roots are a good point to harp on. Arguing the need for evidence can delay perfectly good warnings from the spirits; presenting misleading reasons can trip up a tauren’s firm convictions. Tauren tend to be seen with a mix of respect and spite; they’re too good to be used, which makes them both resistant to the Forsaken’s tricks and yet supremely annoying.

The point of corruption for the tauren is the high expectations they’re placed under. Tauren society is so ‘good’ that those who fail in the moral strength tend to try and hide their failings. Undead can offer to hide them. In a way, this is how the Alliance with the Grimtotem has worked.

“You can’t expect me to believe your claims when I can’t see what you see. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m merely asking you to be reasonable. That’s a fair request, surely. I believe everyone else here would agree.”

Trolls: The most hostile race to the undead within the Horde are probably the trolls. They’ve not only got the quite reasonable suspicion of the undead’s motives (Which even the most jaded Forsaken would admit is pretty fair) but also a deep based superstition about the undead due to their being, well, dead.

You know what? That’s fine with the undead. There are worse places to bargain from than being seen as a horrible dark magical force with the power to do terrible things to you, and many undead are happy to play that role. As such, trolls are seen by most undead as primitives; stupid and self-destructive. They’re unpredictable, making them perhaps a little less useful than the orcs, but they can be used, too. You just have to be a bit more careful about them.

The point of corruption for the trolls is their history. The trolls are changing, and many don’t like this one bit. Smart undead find the unhappy trolls, and suggest ways the change might be stopped.

“Ah, yes. Don’t trust the corpse. I might have hands anywhere, after all. What else might I have hidden? What might I have hidden in you? Don’t speak against me like that again, you foolish little jungle savage. Or else you’ll find what I have hidden.”

The Alliance

Draenei: Being untied to the Lich King, the Forsaken are not susceptible to the forces of the Light that repel the Scourge so severely. That doesn’t mean they like it. They’re still undead, after all, and few find much to find in the Light but bitterness now. (Lest it be forgotten, Arthas Menethil, the Lich King, was a paladin.) The Draenei practically bleed Light. Most Forsaken are, ergo, likely to be somewhat unreasonably savage and and nasty to the draenei on principle.

“You came all this way, across galaxies, just to cruelly expire to the forces of my Fel energies? How tragically ironic. Now die. I have other things to do.”

Dwarves: The dwarves and humans have a long and storied history, long enough for most undead to know them pretty well. As such, undead are pretty clear about the strengths and weaknesses of the dwarves: They know that dwarves are fine shots with guns, that they’re stalwart warriors and have paladins in their ranks. They therefore have a healthy respect for them as enemies. That said, they’re likely to be ignorant of more recent developments, they’ll assume (for instance) that all dwarves are worshipers of the Light, the movement to the Titans beginning after their turning to Undead. Role-play accordingly. Emotionally, they’re no more or no less an enemy than any other. Individual Forsaken may have slightly different attitudes based on personal history.

“Ah. Watch, my fellow Horde. You lot think of dwarves as such stalwart foes, so fearless. It only takes a pure nightmare sunk into their head to prove this isn’t true. Watch him run. Screaming. That is the difference between a dwarf and a Forsaken!”

Gnomes: Similarly, the undead can tell the difference between a gnome and a dwarf, and won’t be distracted by the guns or other technology to assume they’re all the same group. No, they can see the gnomish body shape, and ergo expect bombs, ray guns and other sneaky traps when fighting them. They’ve appropriate cautious when confronting one, and also know them as expert mages, especially sneaky rogues and slightly less convincing warriors.1 They’ll react appropriately. The fall of Gnomeregan was prominent enough that the undead will know of it too, though the details won’t be known. Also much like dwarves, they’ll not have too many strong memories of them; Lordaeron wasn’t exactly loaded with gnomes, after all.

“What do you have, little man? What sneaky little trick have you got up your sleeve this time? Do you think I’m foolish enough to not expect one?”

Humans: Here, there’s plenty of emotion, even for the Forsaken. They were human. Do they feel a twinge of sorrow, slaughtering those they once were? Do they feel contemptuous and superior, as if they’ve left that weak flesh behind? Do they feel bitter anger that drives them to slaughter humans, because humans remind them of what they’ve lost? Or do they instead feel bitter regret and try to avoid killing them for the same reason?

The choices are infinite. Sorry, but no play advice this time. This is a choice so personal that every Forsaken player must make it themselves.

“I was once like you, you know. I was weak, and afraid, a creature of flesh and blood. No longer. Now I am held together with raw will, and collect souls. But not yours. Run, you weak fool! Run! And guard your soul well. Others may not be so generous as I.”

Night Elves: In many ways the night elves, among all the Alliance races, represent the greatest fear to the Forsaken. Why? Because they’re the only ones whom they genuinely don’t know about. (Alright, the draenei too, but those lot are Johnny Come-Latelys to the discussion.) Since the night elves never were known to humanity before most undead were created, very few of them have any substantive knowledge of them. Combine this with the elves’ notorious secrecy and carefully preserved mystery, and they’re nearly the stuff of mythology for the Forsaken. The night elves are probably the most alien and unknowable race to the Forsaken, and if do not know something, you cannot control it. This intimidates the Forsaken.

“Ah, so you’re the ones the blood elves have spoken of. Taller than I’d have thought. Livlier, too. Stop trying to struggle, you’ll only hurt worse. I wonder if what they say about you is true? Let’s find out, scientifically. My succubus here will be the assistant. She’s as good with knives as whips.”

Viewing the Classes

Death Knight: The Forsaken are likely very conflicted about the Death Knights. The less introspective among them will despise them with the heat of a thousand blazing suns, or at least to the full extent of their capability. Their families, villages and towns, and most importantly themselves were killed by the Scourge’s forces, after all. But the more introspective will realise that the Death Knights have just undergone the same journey each and every Forsaken has made, and perhaps be more charitable.
Druid: The druids are a spirit of life, in all its forms. The Forsaken are dead. There may not be any great antipathy there, but few Forsaken are likely to hold great opinions of druids. They’re too far removed.
Hunter: Since few undead fear pain greatly, the distanced combat hunters favour is not something the undead are too concerned about. But then, why not have variety? Undead appreciate effective killers, and hunters are effective killers. They’re good to have around.
Mages: Take all the lessons humans have learned about magic. Take the human ambition and drive to their usual ends. Now remove all the caution and safeties. That’s an undead mage. You’re welcome.
Paladin: As noted above, few undead are likely to have a very positive opinion on paladins, many of them died to one. They likely enjoyed the irony of the Blood Knights stealing the Light for themselves, but now that this has been shown to be a falsehood, most undead are simply dismissive of the entire group, yet again.
Priest: Most undead priests are members of the Cult of the Forgotten Shadow. Far from just a rejection of the light, it’s a true inversion of it, following the virtues of Respect, Tenacity and Power. Undead priests run the gamut from crazed lunatics babbling blasphemous tongues, to darkly charismatic preachers who tell their followers that they can be dark gods. An undead priest is a frightening thing.
Rogue: In a society with such dedication to poison, it’s unsurprising that undead rogues lean toward the path of the assassin. Cloaked in shadows, they can be silent, lie underwater in wait for very long times, and do not need to breathe (and thus be heard breathing) in palaces. There are fewer combat rogues among the undead, in all likelihood, than assassins.
Shaman: The shamans are a sign that their people are primitive. Priesthoods and such are more… civilised. Some Forsaken may, deciding that priests and paladins failed them, think about shamans more positively, but they’re rare.
Warlocks: There’s no real shame to being a warlock in undead society. They’ve already sacrificed their soul, after all. Why not throw in with the devil for free? Even so, warlocks are still probably seen as … extreme. Hardly wrong, but just a little worrisome none the less.
Warrior:Imagine a warrior who felt no fear, not even when facing impossible odds. Imagine a warrior who got his arm hacked off and just kept fighting. Whose fingers are razor sharp bone. Now you know why undead warriors are to be feared.


  1. “Just because you have your Sunwell again hardly means your troubles are over, does it?”

    Again, the Sunwell’s restoration and its effects on the blood elves is a bit ambiguous. So their addiction should still be prevalent…unless I am missing something?

    As for undead rogues, while they make perfect assassins in many respects. They unfortunately have to contend with the putrid smell of their bodies, which give them away quite easily; unless they managed to mask it of course.

    Plus to add to the warrior part. They be even more feared with their cannibalizing fallen foes and regenerating back to full health soon after.

    And for death knights, I say they be accepted by most (particularly by those who think like Sylvanas) as they are just like the forsaken were a few years back after all. And they clearly accept any undead who break free of the Lich King’s will. Plus, at this point they are willing to do anything really as seen by them creating a new plague and practicing necromancy. So accepting death knights into the fold be an easy transition for sure, even if they disliked them.

  2. […] beyond that, it keeps digging into the shifting nature of politics within each faction: why are the Forsaken and the Blood Elves on shakier ideological territory with each other now? Why are the Night Elves so standoffish with […]

  3. I think many Forsaken see becoming a warlock as a form of revenge. They used to be slaves to the demonically-controlled Lich King, but now they have a chance to turn the tables and order demons around.

  4. If you read this, do youself a favour and ignore it. Go immediately to the wiki page and scrub this from your mind.

    • Hi Seriun,

      Sorry you didn’t care for it. Care to elaborate on why you feel it should be ignored so thoroughly?

  5. Why assassins? Deathstalkers looked to me more like normal warriors who just are a bit sneaky and like using poisons.

    Concerning the paladins Undead might feel especial hate for them due to the fact that paladins cannot turn Scourge. The Light keeps them safe from this fate unlike to thousands of Forsaken.

  6. This is very helpful thank you 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: