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Artifact Series: Druid

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Is it a bird? Is it a cat? Is it a bear? Nope! It's a Druid! Our artifact series continues with our favourite tree-hugging, nature-loving class.

 

As one of the most versatile classes in the game, Druids have a pretty wide-spread basis of lore. Admittedly, a great deal of it surrounds the Emerald Dream and nature, but it's extremely well-thought out stuff. Let's take a look at the different forms our druids come in!

  • Balance, taking the form of the Moonkin, control the powers of Arcane and Nature magic in order to destroy their foes.
  • Feral, taking the form of a cat, rip and bite at their enemies, causing them to bleed out slowly.
  • Guardian, taking the form of a bear, stand as the bulwark of a group, protecting their allies and weathering the attacks of the opponents.
  • Restoration takes no additional form, holding the closest kinship between their natural form and the essence of nature. They wield the powers of nature in a defensive manner, ensuring their allies' wounds are healed.

Balance Druid - Scythe of Elune 

 

The mention of Elune in the name already hints at a pretty powerful backstory to this weapon. Let's take a look:

 

"This mystical artifact was created millennia ago from the Staff of Elune and a fang from the wolf demigod Goldrinn. The Scythe of Elune carries a long and unsettling history for druids: those who are not careful enough can easily be overwhelmed by Goldrinn's spirit, which infuses the scythe. Tied to the origin of the worgen on Azeroth, the scythe is said to possess untold lunar power for the druid with balance enough to keep control." (source)

 

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Now, for those of you that don't know, this weapon is already an extremely established piece within lore, specifically for the Worgen. The backstory mentions two major names, Goldrinn and Elune, with the weapon being made of the tooth of Goldrinn and the Staff of Elune; to properly understand why this weapon is so important, we need to take a look at who Goldrinn was.

 

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Goldrinn, one of the Ancient Guardians of Azeroth.

 

Goldrinn was one of the demigods living on Azeroth, as well as being one of the Ancient Guardians. The Ancient Guardians have been present on Azeroth ever since the Titans began to reshape the world, acting as protectors of the natural world. While the Dragon Aspects were gifted their powers by the Titans, the Ancient Guardians were born from Azeroth itself, tied to its own life essence. Pandaria unveiled its own Ancient Guardians in the form of the August Celestials.

 

Goldrinn took the form of a white wolf and represented the essence of ferocity and savagery. He was present during the War of the Ancients, in which the Burning Legion invaded Azeroth for the first time. His bloodlust on the battlefield was insatiable. He slew countless demons, but eventually succumbed to the might of the Legion.

 

Despite perishing in the War, his legend has spread across Azeroth. The Druids of the Scythe worshiped the spirit of Goldrinn during the War of the Satyr, believing that Druids should still utilise their "pack form". This allowed Druids to shape-shift into the form of a wolf. 

 

The pack form was frowned upon since it allowed for a uncontrollable rage to preside over any Druid that used it. The Druids of the Scythe believed that they could finally control this endless rage by creating the Scythe of Elune, and then submitting to the power of the weapon. Rather than help to remove their never-ending fury, the Druids of the Scythe found themselves transformed into one of the races known around Azeroth today: the Worgen.

 

The war raged on and the newly formed Worgen tore through any friend or foe they found, turning every Night Elf they slew into Worgen as well. The war ended and the Worgen lost all control, running wild in the Emerald Dream until Velinde Starsong was granted the Scythe by the Moon Goddess herself, Elune. It was intended that Velinde would journey to Felwood and battle the demons gathering there.

 

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Velinde Starsong wields the Scythe of Elune, using it to summon the Worgen.

 

She battled the demons, utilising the great power of the weapon, but soon realised she could use the Scythe to summon the Worgen to battle under her command. She led them into battle, destroying much of the demon force present in Felwood.

 

She soon heard of an individual, Arugal, who had been doing as she had: summoning the Worgen to fight on their behalf. She travelled to meet with him, but found herself ambushed by Varkas, a Worgen who wished to de-throne the Alpha Prime. The Alpha Prime was the leader of the Worgen, the first created, also known as Ralaar Fangfire, when he was still leader of the Druids of the Scythe.

 

Varkas wished to use the power of the Scythe to take control of the Worgen, but the ambush went wrong. A crate of dynamite exploded, killing Varkas, Velinde and everyone else involved. The Scythe was buried under the rubble of a cave, later to be found by Jitters, our lovable, yet strange, companion in Duskwood.

 

By finding the Scythe, Jitters summoned the Worgen to Duskwood, hence why there are so many running free. It was well known that the Dark Riders of Karazhan, individuals who hunted ancient artifacts, were seeking the Scythe. In the current story of Legion, Tyrande ordered the Scythe to be transported to the Twilight Grove. It was to be given to a druid player there. When the druid arrives, however, the Dark Riders attack and steal the Scythe. The player must retrieve the Scythe from the Dark Riders at their base of Karazhan.

 

With such a huge backstory to the weapon already established in the lore, the Balance Druids have got pretty lucky with this artifact. Between the Druids of the Scythe, the Worgen, Elune, Goldrinn, Jitters.. I really love this artifact and it's a fantastic addition to the set. The basis of this weapon in lore is the search for balance between rage and peace, the ability to create balance between two warring forces. The Balance Druid symbolises this beautifully, with the ability to balance the power of the lunar and solar energy. 

 

I don't think you can top the Scythe with an alternative, so I'm really not going to try. It's a fantastic choice already.

 

Feral Druid - Fangs of Ashamane 

 

It looks like Druids are getting yet another fantastic cat-form to use. Let's take a look at what the story behind this fantastic new visual is:

 

"The massive gray panther Ashamane, one of the first Wild Gods, was one of many to answer the call of the demigod Cenarius and defend the world of Azeroth during the War of the Ancients. She fell in battle against the Legion, but saved countless lives in the process. A great shrine was built in her honor in Val'sharah, and her fangs were adorned and put on display there. It is said they still carry much of her power." (source)

 

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Simply beautiful. An absolutely fantastic form, this might actually be the best looking artifact I have seen in the game. Unfortunately, however, there is very little basis of previous lore for the artifact. Let's see what we already know of this majestic beast.

 

When the War of the Ancients was being fought, the Night Elves knew that they could never possibly win against the might of the Legion alone. If the Burning Legion won the war, Azeroth would have been wiped from existence, as so many worlds have been before.

 

Malfurion Stormrage, the first mortal Druid, asked for aid from his mentor, Cenarius. Cenarius was a demigod, born from the love between the Moon Goddess, Elune, and her consort, the White Stag, Malorne. He appealed to both the spirits of nature, as well as the different dragonflights, on behalf of Malfurion. When the worst of the battle was underway, Cenarius led a charge against the Legion, his forces consisting of the various demigods and protectors of Azeroth.

 

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Malorne, father of Cenarius, battles Archimonde during the war.

 

Among these spirits was one of the first Ancient Guardians, Ashamane. She fought fearlessly against the Legion but eventually fell under their might. A shrine was constructed after the battle in Val'Sharah to honour her sacrifice. Her fangs were placed in the temple on display, rumoured to still possess a large portion of her extraordinary power. 

 

Ashamane is yet to be properly detailed in the lore surround the War of the Ancients. Her role as an Ancient Guardian is described briefly throughout lore, but there is no specific mention of her. 

 

Alternative Artifacts for Feral Druids 

 

This is a tough one, since there aren't many notable Feral Druids in lore. If we were to try find some form of cat-based being in lore, we will often come back to two possiblities: Ashamane or Xuen.

 

Xuen acts as an Ancient Guardian over the land of Pandaria; to some extent, we could relate the agility and speed of the Druid to that of Xuen, but he doesn't hold that "natural" aspect for areas outside Pandaria.

 

Our other option is to twist the lore slightly and look at the possibility of taking a Feral artifact from another race's lore, namely the trolls. We could look at the various Loa gods and goddesses that take the form of an animal and see if any equate to the cat form of Druids.

 

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​All of the Loa spirits worshiped by the trolls exclusively.

 

Our possiblities include Har'koa, who takes the form of a snow leopard, Halazzi, who takes the form of a lynx, Pogeyan, who takes the form of a mountain lion, Shirvallah, who takes the form of a tiger, and Kimbul, the God of Tigers.

 

The trolls that worship these Loas believed that the Ancient Guardians, such as Ashamane and Goldrinn, were a form of Loa. They worshipped them in the same way as their own gods.

 

We could perhaps extrapolate some of the Troll lore to the Druid lore, saying that one of the ancient Loa has been driven into madness, forcing them to seize control of the natural spirits of a certain animal. The questline could follow the Druid's path into freeing the Loa from corruption, perhaps teaming up with one of the natural druidic Guardians. We would venture through the Emerald Dream to find the "essence" of the Loa and battle the corruption within a mini Emerald Nightmare.

 

Since Trolls are now also able to become Druids, it might be likely that their lore would have become more tightly intertwined with the natural beings of Azeroth. This isn't a perfect suggestion, but would have perhaps been an interesting alternative had Ashamane not existed.

 

Guardian Druid - Claws of Ursoc 

 

It looks like the Druids have done very well on artifacts: another new skin for their animal forms! Let's see if the lore is as good as the new visuals:

 

"Forged from titansteel by the titanic watcher Keeper Freya, these claws were her gift to the great bear Ursoc, one of the Wild Gods. He wielded the claws in countless battles until his death during the War of the Ancients. Although his body faded away, the claws remained, and legends say a fragment of his spirit lingered within them. After wrestling the claws away from Ursoc's furbolg followers, a band of druids took the claws to the Emerald Dream, sought out Ursoc's spirit, and returned the claws to him for safekeeping." (source)

 

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It's a good thing we've already been over the Ancient Guardians, since it looks like we've got another one involved in the Druid lore! Before we look at Ursoc, let's just take a look at who forged this mighty weapon.

 

Freya was one of the titan watchers left on Azeroth to oversee the prison of Yogg-Saron, Ulduar. She resided mainly in the Temple of Life before the corrupted Loken began to rebel; she slowly became corrupted as well, moving to Ulduar, but left an Avatar of herself behind to guard Sholazar Basin from the Scourge.

 

She forged these mighty claws for the Ursoc the Mighty, who created the race of Furbolgs along with his brother, Ursol the Wise. Ursoc and Ursol were the first of the Guardians to answer the call of Cenarius, jumping to his aid as soon as they received word from him. They clashed with the Doomguard of the Burning Legion, tearing through the ranks with ease. Ursoc was slowly overwhelmed by fel stalkers, eventually perishing in his quest to defend the natural land of Azeroth.

 

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Ursoc the Mighty and his brother, Ursol the Wise.

 

Upon his death, the claws remained whole, retaining a portion of his incredible power. The claws fell into the hands of the Furbolgs, his direct descendants, but were eventually reclaimed by a group of Druids. They wish to take them back into the Emerald Dream and return them to the rightful owner, Ursoc.

 

The fact that there is going to be interaction with Ursoc means that he will most likely deem the Druid players worthy of wielding his power and blessing, given they can complete a certain task. I really like the recurring theme here of the Ancient Guardians being the root of the Druid artifacts' powers.

 

Alternative Artifacts for Guardian Druids

 

Unfortunately, Guardian Druids have a similar problem to Feral Druids when it comes to lore. There are very few notable Druids that followed this path, since the "big names" are generally the spirits upon which orders are based. Due to this, I think the alternative for Guardian Druids would be to follow a similar path to the Feral Druids: the Loa.

 

As detailed above, there are a number of Loa spirits that the Trolls worship. For the Guardian Druids, we can base their artifact on any of the spirits that symbolise some form of resolve and toughness, such as: Nalorakk, who takes the form of a bear, Rhunok, the arctic bear, and Akali, the Rhino.

 

If the Loa cannot be brought into the Druid lore, we could also base the Guardian Druid artifact on Tortolla, the turtle demigod. By his nature, Tortolla stands as one of the oldest Guardians still living, with his incredible fortitude and strength surviving through all those years.

 

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Tortolla, one of the Ancient Guardians and arguably one of the oldest.

 

To some extent, he would allow the Guardian Druid to perhaps shield themselves by wielding a fragment of his shell as a weapon. 

 

Neither of these suggestions are as good as the claws of Ursoc, but I felt they were good enough to warrant a mention. I think Blizzard did a great job with including Ursoc and Ashamane, I just wish there was more backstory to them both.

 

Restoration Druid - G'Hanir, the Mother Tree

 

After three fantastic artifacts already, we're going to need an equally special one for the Restoration Druids. Let's see what they've got in store:

 

"This is a single branch taken from G'Hanir, the first tree, which was gifted to mortal druids by the demigod Aviana long ago. Its connection to the mystical Emerald Dream serves as a healing and stabilizing influence on the world of Azeroth. In recent times, druids have used this staff to hold back the corruption and madness of the Nightmare. As a result, satyrs within the Nightmare are desperate to see G'Hanir destroyed." (source)

 

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Once again, we see the recurring theme of the Ancient Guardians present in the form of Aviana. She used to be a normal raven until she was selected specifically by the Moon Goddess Elune to act as a messenger to her son Cenarius. This quickly led to Aviana acting as a messenger for all of the current Guardians, until eventually the powers bestowed upon her by each Guardian made her an equal to them. 

 

She eventually took on the form of a Night Elf when they were beginning to study the Well of Eternity. Aviana wished to study magic with them, but she quickly began to see the corrupting influence that surrounded magic and Azshara herself. She returned to Elune's side, only returning to the Well during the War of the Ancients.

 

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Aviana, ancestor of the Harpy race we know today.

 

When the war was underway, Aviana would take on her mortal form and attempt to guide mortals that might wander into the path of the Legion. When she wasn't doing this, she acted as a scout for Cenarius; she utilised her innate ability of flight to scour the skies above the ranks of the Legion, gathering intelligence for the demigod. 

 

When attempting to join the conflict, Aviana found herself by Doomguards. They impaled her body numerous times with spears, but her body continued to fight. As her lifeless corpse dropped from the skies, blood spilled out from the body. The blood itself was infused with her power, burning away and purifying any demon that came into contact with it.

 

When reading the book, we only see the "death" of Aviana from the eyes of Rhonin, a human Mage. In reality, Aviana survived the attack. She flew back above the battlefield and witnessed the death of Ursoc, Ursol and Agamaggan. She made sure to keep Cenarius updated with information on exactly what was happening, especially the battle waged by Malorne. Cenarius sent her to contact Elune, to apologise for the deaths caused by the war and for the outcome so far. She knew that there was nothing that could be done to stop the war and flew towards the moon on which Elune resides.

 

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Agamaggan, prior to being slain.

 

Aviana's life-force is directly connected to the well-being of the Mother Tree. When she was injured in the War of the Ancients, the tree ended up supposedly dying along with Aviana, who was supposedly killed. We are still unsure of the circumstances surrounding Aviana during that period. There are a number of theories detailing whether she in fact never died, did she regenerate, is she a spirit... There's plenty of theories. What we know is that Alexstrasza held an acorn from the Mother Tree, from which the World Tree Nordrassil would eventually grow. 

 

The tree itself was a representation of the "afterlife" for dragons. There is a great deal of speculation as to whether or not Aviana actually led to the creation of the dragons, but she considers all of them part of her domain: the skies. It is an exceptionally powerful entity, very clearly suggested by the fact that Nordrassil sprung from a simple acorn. 

 

To wield a part of the tree as a weapon is no small feat, since there is most likely an extraordinary amount of power contained within the branch. It looks like Blizzard have succeeded in finishing off the Druid artifacts with yet another fantastic weapon.

 

While there was perhaps room for Blizzard to toy with bigger characters known in the WoW universe, I think the Druid artifacts have been the best so far, at least on a lore basis. They stuck to their ideals and pushed the Ancient Guardian idea as much as they could.

 

Let's hope we can find artifacts just as good in our next Artifact Series, where we're going to be looking at our shady friends: the Rogues!

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