Posted by: Jess Riley | February 3, 2009

A Few Disjointed Thoughts

I’ve not been updating according to a very strict schedule lately, as I’ve been running short of ideas. I still don’t have many I can riff on for a full post, but here’s a few thoughts I think are worth considering.

  • How can the Forsaken sleep? Originally, this was ‘do the Forsaken sleep?’, but Sean pointed out to me that this has a very quick and easy answer – yes, and we know this because of the handy-dandy ‘/sleep’ command. I gave it a little more thought, however, and I feel like I’m still either missing something, or I’ve picked up a flaw in the system. The Forsaken – by definition, not alive, but undead – would reasonably not have anything in the way of eyelids, and their brains are probably rotted beyond recognition. Sure, they still have thoughts, memories, ethics, motor control and any number of other things – but this seems to be more by magic than anything else, and all of these things have tangible benefits to the Forsaken in question. What benefit would magic-induced sleep bring?I don’t know what effect this has on roleplay in particular – except, perhaps, if we conclude that the Forsaken don’t need sleep, which could go some way to explaining how so many undead became so proficient in weapons, magic, etc. after they became Forsaken – they learned 24 hours a day! They could also reasonably be around and doing things at any hour of the day or night, without needing to justify why they’re out and about at an unusual hour.
  • Are the Forsaken cat people? Alright, so this is a less serious question, but I considered it when I noticed that there are a few Forsaken NPCs running around with cat minipets, and this, plus the fact that a Hillsbrad quest requires you to poison someone’s dog, seems to suggest that maybe they’re more cat people than dog people, as a rule.
  • Anger management? I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes I think that World of Warcraft offers us a unique opportunity to show, rather than tell, what emotions our characters are feeling. Sean talked about this in his most recent post, but I think there’s an unplumbed resource that he didn’t discuss – that of using spells and abilities to indicate mood and emotions as much as emotes. War stomp can show sudden, crushing anger, and stance changes can show a slightly wider variety, and virtually any spell or ability that can be used without a target can have some use in game, provided you use a little creativity. For instance, the brief bubble that appears around a mage using combustion can indicate drying off after a swim, or warding off people from coming too close.


  1. Here’s a few ideas for you, free of charge:

    How do you deal with words with etymologies related to locations in our world, such as “gypsy,” and “bikini?”

    How do you roleplay in zones inherently tied to certain parts of the timeline, like the Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isles, the Scarlet Enclave, or, more loosely, Westfall or the Plaguelands?

    How do you justify Forsaken priests casting holy spells, or draenei death knights using Gift of the Naaru, since undeath is supposed to sever their connection to such things?

    Failing that, you can rehash old topics like Mary Sues and wangst and hope no-one notices.

  2. “How can the Forsaken sleep?”

    First, they do not possess the need to sleep as they don’t tire whatsoever. And second, they can’t sleep.

    Because when it come to the undead, you can simply look at them as puppets. As a puppet is lifeless, yet a puppeteer (spirit or will of another) can grab the puppet strings and move the puppet as they wish. Of course, beyond movement the puppeteer will also provide its own sensory input to the puppet. Like a spirit can see, speak, hear and so on without having actual physical functions providing such due to their unique nature. And a necromancer, would have those actual biological functions and then project them through the puppet. Unless the necromancer was undead too, in which case the spirit factor apply.

    “Are the Forsaken cat people?”

    Truthfully, they aren’t animal people at all. As most animals, will instinctively react badly to undead. And dogs in particular, will react with the most hate. So with that, they definitely wouldn’t get along with dogs at all.

    And with all this, I say if your a forsaken with a pet. Then you always have something to talk about, as you always have a story behind why the pet you have is actually with you; despite the fact that they should hate and/or fear you.

    Course, not all animals act like that. Like undead pets like Frosty or strange pets like the Disgusting Oozeling or insects would not mind undead at all. In fact, insects would love the undead and I am sure a Disgusting Oozeling would too.

    And I know if I was an undead, I just love a Disgusting Oozeling. As they’re blind so they can’t see your horrid appearance, don’t need to sleep so they can be with you always, can’t smell you over their own stench (presuming they can smell at all) and most of all; they make you feel wanted all the time by trying to consume you into their body 24/7. 😛


    For a more in-depth look at undead physiology, of course check out my entry on such. 😉

  3. “Are the Forsaken cat people?”

    It would certainly make sense. The Ancient Egyptians believed that Cats could see into the World of the Dead, and there are lots of references to the ancient world in Forsaken culture and (especially) architecture.

    What’s better for accompanying the Living Dead – existing in both the Living and Dead worlds at once – than a loyal, furry, four-legged companion with insight into the World of the Dead?

  4. @ Badger

    The thing is, that is the Egyptians view of cats. In Azeroth, cats aren’t held in such regard to the point that only the mighty Saber cat’s are looked to as sacred…etc.

    Course, if the WoWWiki is correct. Then many cats cross into the Emerald Dream on a regular basis. Though until I actually see the supposed source of that statement, I will be skeptical.

  5. Right, but I was more looking at it from a designer’s perspective, rather than the perspective of a character in the setting. I was thinking of the Cats thing as a sort of “inside joke” for any of the writers and designers who were looking to make the Undead more mysterious while rooting their aesthetics in real-world history.

    That’s really interesting about the Emerald Dream, though … Sounds kinda similar to what I was saying, actually: Cats walking in a strange, metaphysical world separated from the world of the Living. (I would scamper off to WoW Wiki right now and read the article you’re citing, but apparently, it’s “Restricted” here at my office.)

  6. @ Badger

    While much of what is in WoW is rooted in real-world history. At the same time, we can’t go to far off the beaten path laid out by the lore. And lore wise, cats really aren’t revered in that way. Though, if the Emerald Dream thing is true. Then they definitely make good pets for druids and other nature worshipers, due to their innate connection with it.

    Besides, I think undead are plenty mysterious already. As most people can barely grasp just how and why they work.

    And as for the entry I was citing, it was the House cat entry. Though I still ultimately doubt the Emerald Dream connection unless that is Blizzard’s way of connecting their cats with how cats are viewed (in the supernatural sense) in our world.

  7. @Jess and Alex,

    See, I tend to disagree — I believe the Forsaken can and do sleep, and I think you can use a classic undead stereotype as a basis; vampires.

    Vampires sleep. And I think the Forsaken do, as well. Though for different reasons. I think that the Forsaken sleep because it connects them to their humanity and gives them the chance to dream. I think it’s an ingrained behavior and a habit from their humanoid lives. I tend to believe that they don’t -need- to sleep, but that most choose to simply because it’s something that you do.

    I say chalk it up to the variety of other biological functions that a Forsaken is capable of that, by virtue of them being dead, they shouldn’t be capable.

  8. @ Travis

    When it comes to many things, we can theorize much due to the fact that much is never fully explained. But when it comes to undead, they literally can’t sleep. As they are immune to its effects like spirits are. And as they don’t tire, they never think to sleep as well.

    Sure, as an undead you might act as if your sleeping to connect with your past life and feel normal as possible; like you would also eat & drink despite it not doing much for you. But in the end, you just be sitting in the bed fully awake. And food and drink for the most part, just stay in your body as it never be digested.

    Now of course, you say what about vampires. Well, comparing them and vampires really isn’t fair. As while both are undead, their biology is vastly different. And even if they weren’t, vampires can’t sleep either. As at best they can go into a sort of meditative hibernation which be the equivalent to the us “resting our eyes” or mediating. And such “resting” would only be done to generally conserve strength during the day. As their bodies be more vulnerable then, plus they use such to slow their metabolism so not to burn through their current blood reserves; as they would when moving out & about.

    Of course, there are so many different kinds of vampires, that maybe some who’ve been thought up could require sleep. But generally as a whole, they wouldn’t and couldn’t do so in the traditional sense.


    If you want a better understand of undead physiology, you should just check out my entry on it. As I explain as much as possible, with what is known so far.

  9. All this is good and well, but we have to take into account that, really, there is only one firm lore source – the games themselves. Everything else is ‘almost-canon’ or ‘nearly-canon’, and cannot really be taken as 100% firm canon.

    And the fact is that in game, Undead respond to the /sleep command, regain health and mana from eating and drinking, and suffer fatigue if they venture too far out into the ocean. Sure, this is a game mechanic thing, and one might argue that this is, therefore, a reasonable segregation of gameplay and story, but it’s still there and we need to consider it (even if the final conclusion is still ‘it’s just for gameplay purposes’).

    Upon further reflection, the psychological need for sleep also occured to me. The Forsaken certainly think, even if they aren’t strictly alive, and so would still face the psychological need for, firstly, an end to the day (when they go to bed), a beginning to the day (when they get up again), and a time to put their thoughts in order and experience something along the lines of, as Travis said, dreaming. Now, whether this is strictly a matter of fatigue or simply a mentally conjured replica, and whether it’s really a requirement or simply a strong desire – and, for that matter, whether it’s really sleep or deep meditation… it’s a point to consider.

    It’s also interesting if you marry the two concepts; if the Forsaken ‘sleep’ not because they are fatigued and need to, but for psychological reasons and/or because they want to, they probably don’t follow normal patterns. Do they follow approximately 36 hour days? Do their periods of ‘sleep’ only last a few hours? Do they last longer, but less frequent? These are interesting questions for role-play purposes.

  10. Alex, my comment is simple: The game is the #1 canon source for info. The /sleep command makes a Forsaken sleep. Clearly, ergo, they can sleep.

    How do you refute this?

  11. @ Jess

    First, if we only act as if the games is 100% and the rest is so so. Then much of what we know when it comes to characters, classes, races and other things could be disputed easily by any passerby. Who could with ease, just say that the authenticity of the RPG books, novels and what not is comparable to the authenticity of a WoWWiki entry. And that just opens a can of worms, that should not be opened.

    Second, the “psychological need for sleep” doesn’t apply to undead. As such issues only apply to living beings, who possess the necessary biological functions to produce such effects on the mind.

    Of course, spirits and other undead can go insane. But such is on a metaphysical level and truthfully our definition of sanity really couldn’t even be applied to them anyways, with their mind & soul being one rather than separate entities like with the living.

    @ Sean

    Jess explained why such can be refuted. Their ability to use the /sleep command is for gameplay purposes. Because if undead were represented as they actually are then they be substantially more powerful than other races. And in addition, be a pain to manage with most food and drink doing little to nothing for them.


    Ultimately, I don’t see why this has to be explained. What with lore and everything we know in general about zombies, saying that they don’t need to and can’t sleep.

  12. Alex, it would help if you told us where your source is for saying they can’t sleep.

  13. @ Sean

    My source? I have already done an entry on undeath, with sources a plenty linked throughout.

    But if you rather not look at that then I can simply say that they can’t sleep, because they are immune to it. And this immunity is shown both in-game and in lore. With the Will of the Forsaken (the original version), undead in WoW in general being immune to sleep and in the RPG, where they are designated as being immune to sleep as well.

    So I would say, if magic can’t put them to sleep, how exactly could they put themselves to sleep?

    And if that isn’t enough, then you can simply look at it biologically. As they physically couldn’t make themselves sleep, as there are no biological processes they could do to shut their bodies down to allow them to sleep.


    In the end, you can simply look at forsaken as dead bodies possessed by their own spirits. And with that, can you say spirits in general need to or can sleep? No, you can’t. So how would the forsaken be different, when their bodies are just puppets for their spirits to manipulate.

    So in summation, just because the game mechanics allow them to sleep doesn’t mean they actually could lore wise. As last I checked, the game mechanics also allow them to use holy magic; even though that be impossible lore wise.

  14. I looked through it, Alex, and your source for “does not sleep” was Will of the Forsaken – And that’s not persuasive to me. The point there is that they cannot be forced into sleep, being charmed or artificially scared. It’s will of the Forsaken, after all. I’m also intrigued why Will of the Forsaken is, to you, a persuasive piece of evidence, but /sleep isn’t.

    (I’d also point out that nothing in the lore says they couldn’t use Holy magic, rather the lore states that they could not use The Light, which is a very different matter. Trolls have holy priests as well, but their holy spells are almost certainly Loa-centric, not Holy centric. I see your point there, but I think you’re not thinking broadly enough.)

    As for the RPG? This is trickier. The whole argument hinges on one sentence as far as I can see, in the Horde Players Guide: “Old habits such as eating and sleeping are hard to give up, and many are simply unwilling to accept that they’re dead.” This either indicates that they can sleep but don’t need to, and getting them into an ‘undead frame of mind’ is diffcult… or that they can’t sleep, but new undead often try to.

    I’m tempted to still argue for the former, though, because of one simple fact: We know they can eat. Again, the game trumps anything else, and here we have a golden standard proof – Cannibalism. Surely you’re not going to write this off as “just a game mechanic”, right Alex? We know they can eat, which would suggest within that sentence that yes, they can sleep.

    That said, you have sparked another possibility in my head. I’m beginning to think the undead can sleep… just not well.

    Think about it. A forsaken can be charmed by something – But it won’t be particularly strong. They can indeed be frightened – But terrified might be too much for them to handle. So is it possible, going on your Will of the Forsaken idea, that they can sleep… but not restfully? Do the Forsaken shift and twist in their sleep as their bodies get uncomfortably close to rigor mortis again? Is it not that the undead can’t sleep (and sorry Alex, but I’m not willing to write off a /sleep command as easily as you) but that they can’t sleep well?

  15. “Teeheee, you think I’m lying dead in the grave, but when you turn your back to me I will rise and backstab ya!” <——- this is how I see Undead /sleep emote.

    They don't mean it, they just want to fool are the living, act "dead".

    Sleeping could prove to be even harmful for them, in my opinion. While you sleep you might loosen control over yourself and give the Lich King a chance to manipulate you.

    Would you prefer to give up your sanity or your free will?

    Also, Sean, Forsaken are classified as Humanoid even though they are clearly Undead. It was changed during Beta because it was too difficult balance.

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