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The Old Ways: An Analysis and Summary
#1
[Image: Title_zps3cf88837.png]

As the title above says, this is my attempt to write a guide pertaining to the Old Ways; humanity's proto-druidism. There is a lot of speculation here, as Blizzard didn't provide much other than HAY WORGANS NEED DRUIDS WHEE MCGUFFIN TIME.

Be that is it may, I hope I organized, and elaborated this clearly and concisely.

And I hope it provides material for other RPers!

[Image: History_zps0e57bd3b.png]

For the history section, I quoted material from WoWPedia and a very extensive guide to Gilneas and its culture. The citations therein are all links to source material.
Spoiler:
WoWPedia Wrote:              In the early days of humanity and its civilization, many tribes of humans had primitive belief systems that incorporated simple nature magic. However, the rise of organized religion such as the Holy Light and the potent arcane magics introduced by the high elves quickly supplanted such traditions. Gilneas, due to its relative isolation, has retained a degree of their ancient culture in the contemporary era. The religious leaders of what was in Gilneas referred to as the "old ways" eventually became "harvest-witches"; those who used their nature powers to augment Gilneas' agricultural output during and following its period of industrialization.

              Due to the presence of harvest-witches in their culture, when Gilneans learned about night elf druids (albeit through second, third and even fourth-hand sources) they became fascinated by them and their exotic connotations, to the point where many started referring to harvest witches as "druids", though this was quite far from the truth, as few Gilneans had any idea what a druid actually was. Harvest-witches have a limited control over nature, especially plant life, and the powers of harvest witches bear a coincidental resemblance to the low-level abilities of actual druids. Harvest witches who contracted the worgen curse (which was druidic in origin) found that their powers were somewhat amplified, and after making first contact with the night elves cursed harvest witches were offered induction into the Cenarion Circle for both study and training.

Spoiler:
Gilneas Compendium Wrote:              Gilnean culture has preserved a traditional form of naturalistic beliefs and magic referred to as “the Old Ways”¹. While the magical effects of the Old Ways are superficially similar to the druidism of the night elves, the Old Ways does not involve any actual druidism ². The Old Ways date to at least far back as early tribal human civilization, predating even the ancient human empire of Arathor ³. The holiday of Noblegarden, which has been historically celebrated among the human kingdoms, has its origins “steeped in druidic festivals from times long past,” which may corroborate this idea . The full nature and furthest origins of the Old Ways, however, still remains unclear and hotly debated among scholarly circles. Both the spread of the teachings of the Church of the Holy Light and arcane magic contributed to the rapid decline of followers of the Old Ways .

              In the face of external cultural pressures, Gilneas managed to retain religious followers of the Old Ways. Gilneas’s relative cultural isolation contributed to the perserverence of the Old Ways among its people. Gilneas remains the only known human nation with followers of the Old Ways. Gilnean followers of the Old Ways form the religious membership of the Order of the Harvest (Quest: Moonfire). The Order of the Harvest consider themselves as “keepers of the old ways” (Quest:Moonfire). Religious leaders within the Order of the Harvest are referred to as ‘harvest-witches’ ; (Quest: The Winds Know Your Name...Apparently). At some time around the Third War, off-hand reports of night elf druidism reached the fascinated ears of Gilnean citizens, who associated the name of ‘druids’ with their native ‘harvest-witches’ . Followers of the Old Ways were nevertheless not widespread in Gilneas, but apparently existed on the fringes of “civilized” society. Celestine of the Harvest claims that her order of harvest-witches “were driven to the edge of extinction once before”(Quest: Moonfire). The extinction of the Order of the Harvest was ironically prevented, however, by a Gilnean famine that struck the nation after the construction of the Greymane Wall when their crops failed. Celestine claims it was their order “who called upon the earth’s blessing and restored the harvest,” (Quest: Moonfire). The Order was also rare enough that King Genn Greymane “had heard that druidism was practiced among some of Gilneas’s agrarian folk, but he hadn’t been exposed to it until recently” (LoHP). It’s not clear how recently Greymane learned the Order of the Harvest, though it may have been during the crop failures of the Gilnean Famine (Quest: Moonfire). Gwen Armstead’s skepticism of Celestine’s beliefs and powers hints at urban or Light-following skepticism towards the Order of the Harvest (Quest: The Winds Know Your Name...Apparently). 

              The religious followers of the Order of the Harvest revere nature. Celestine told Gwen Armstead “the winds spoke your name,” which gives Gwen the impression that the Order spends their time “conversing with nature” (Quest: The Winds Know Your Name...Apparently). Celestine speaks of their practices in entirely spiritual terms, having not only “called upon the earth’s blessing,” but also placing their “fate in the hands of a higher power” in which they “learn what the wild has to teach [them]” (Quest: Moonfire). The Order of the Harvest, and Gilneas by extension, also preserved the older traditions surrounding the festival of Hallow’s End and the Wickerman. The Order may have been capable of shapeshifting even prior to contact with the night elves. It’s when King Greymane sees a night elf shapeshift out of flight form that it reminds him of Gilnean ‘druids’ (LoHP), and Gilnean druids disguised in bear form are part of the Gilneas Liberation Front (Quest: A Wolf in Bear’s Clothing). It’s also possible that shapeshifting for the Order only became possible when the worgen curse amplified their druidic powers .

[Image: Untitled_zpsdf2bf202.png]

Here, I just copy-pasted a discovery I elaborated upon in the Lore subforum. There is some repetition from the History section.
Spoiler:
Vrykul, Humans, and the Old Ways

This section will tie the Old Ways in with humanity's ancestors, the Vrykul, as it is my belief that Old Ways practices are a remant of the Vrykul culture. I will also incorporate facets of real-world paganism, using Ogam and Futhark runes.

First, I'll go on and elaborate a little on the history of Vrykul and Humanity. I'm going to just copy-and-paste from WoWPedia for the blurbs on Vrykul and Humanity for convenience's sake.

Other People Wrote:              Vrykul
              It is said that in ancient times the vrykul race inhabited the land, founding a vast and prosperous civilization. Suddenly, without warning or explanation, the vrykul race vanished, leaving behind only deserted villages and abandoned temples. Due to the encroachment of the Alliance settlement of Valgarde on their lands, vrykul have recently returned.

              Led by King Ymiron, these formidable warriors have begun attacking Horde and Alliance settlements from the fortress of Utgarde Keep, not far from Valgarde. Vrykul motives and their whereabouts for the past several thousand years remain a mystery, though they have recently become allied with the Lich King, accepting him as their "Death God".

              Vrykul are brutal in nature, and are served by worgs and a similarly mysterious race of proto-dragons. They practice a runic magic that even the most experienced wizards find unfamiliar. For some reason, they frown on manual labor, thinking it lowly.

              The quest Anguish of Nifflevar states that vrykul children born in a certain time after their gods "abandoned" them, approximately 15,000 years ago, were "weak and ugly". King Ymiron ordered all those children to be killed, but events observed in the preceding quest The Echo of Ymiron imply that not all of the parents obeyed this command, instead hiding their children in order for them to grow up far away from Northrend. This evinces that vrykul are the progenitors of humans, which is also stated by Thoralius the Wise - "There is no extinct "missing link" to humans as the Explorers' League proposed. The vrykul are the missing link. They are the progenitors of humanity".

              A dialogue uncovered by Brann Bronzebeard in Ulduar lists the vrykul (along with the earthen and the giants) as "seed races", implying that they are direct creations of the titans as opposed to having evolved from some other race over time.

              Humanity
              Humans (aka mankind or humanity) in Warcraft are a resilient species native to the world of Azeroth. Recent discoveries have shown that humans are descended from the barbaric vrykul, half-giant warriors who live in Northrend. Early humans were primarily a scattered and tribal people for several millennia, until the rising strength of the troll empire forced their strategic unification. Thus the nation of Arathor was formed, along with its capital, the city-state of Strom.

              After several centuries of peace, however, the increasingly prosperous and independent city-states of Arathor split into separate kingdoms: Gilneas to the west, Alterac, Dalaran, and Lordaeron to the northwest, Kul Tiras to the southwest, and Stormwind to the far south. Strom itself was renamed Stromgarde and remained a significantly powerful kingdom.

              Since the fall of Lordaeron (and other kingdoms), the kingdom of Stormwind has become the strongest bastion of humanity and the most powerful force in the now multiracial Alliance. Led by King Varian Wrynn, the people of Stormwind hold fast to the principles of honor and justice as they defend their settlements and their families.

              Though humans are among the younger races on Azeroth, they have faced many challenges with fortitude and resilience. Their continued ability to adapt and rebuild has made them a vital force in an ever-changing world.

...Now then! To tie all this together with a bow made from shiny real-world lore.

In my role playing and in a few In Character posts I have made reference to runes (not the rune master kind) and symbols bearing the weight of the Old Ways faith. These symbols come from real-world paganism. I pieced it all together into what I think is a respectful and fun tapestry for RP. A common rune I've used is thurs:

[Image: ThorRune.gif]

This is taken from Nordic paganism, and has lots of meaning I won't regale you with here. I thought it and other symbols would add some nice flavor and some historical weight. Sort of like taking various symbols from Christianity for RPing a priest or paladin of the Church of the Holy Light. I hadn't the slightest thought that these would be in-game.

Boy would I be wrong.

I would discover a certain item on another server, a PvE one, while running around leveling my archeology in Northrend. I came upon a Vrykul area dig and found a keystone named a Vrykul Rune Stick—it's also worth nothing that Vrykul casters rely heavily on rune working, and the use of elemental magics (though such may be twisted if they belong to the Scourge). The stick looks like this:

[Image: trade_archaeology_vrykul_runestick.jpg]

Uncannily familiar! As I stated in the introduction, these symbols are very very close to Ogam and Futhark. The thurs rune, as I said, is Nordic or Futhark. Ogam, the Celtic "tree" alphabet, is below:

[Image: 100px-Ogham_Con.jpg]
[Image: 100px-Ogham_Vow.jpg]

So, what to take away from all this?

Essentially, the Old Ways seem to be a remnant of Vrykul practices, and faith, if they had any (they were kind of mad at the Titans for “abandoning” them). While the runes shown aren't mentioned in any in-game reference to the Old Ways themselves, the Old Ways are inspired by real-world Celtic and Norse paganism, centered around agriculture. The Vrykul, as WoWPedia states, are likely inspired by the Norse Einherjar (spirits of those who died glorious deaths in battle). Old Ways followers tend to retain their tribal social structure, even amidst the industrialized city of Gilneas, keeping to the edges. It is also interesting that women seem to lead Old Ways groups, and that Vrykul women were given the highest gifts by the Lich King, and had a whole tribe to themselves for battle.

Neat stuff!

[Image: Church_zps40f36b8c.png]

NOTE: This section contains almost entirely my own speculation, though it is based on the history presented in Warcraft lore, and the comparison of that history of humanity to real-world events.
Spoiler:
The Church of the Holy Light is one of the key facets of humanity's modern culture. The Light is what brought civilization in humanity's early days, and all that went with it. Order, control, cities, structured hierarchy, all that. It is unknown when it was discovered, though an estimate is thousands of years ago. Whenever it was, the day it truly blessed the tribes of Arathi, humanity would change forever.

The new religion of the Holy Light was one of the forces (the other being the introduction of arcane theory) that wiped out the Old Ways. But why? Isn't the Holy Light a merciful religion, with its three tenets of Respect, Tenacity, and Compassion?

Today, it is, yes. However, when it was discovered, humanity was still deep in its old nomadic ways. Though not as cruel as the trolls, they were definitely not what we see today in Stormwind. Arathi is also known as the most brutal of the human nations--they have a rank in their military called Troll Hunter. They specialize in hunting down one of the most savage races...you kind of have to be savage yourself to do something like that.

For a time, the Light's blessings were good, I imagine. Its healing potential unmatched, it could likely cure wounds and sicknesses the Old Ways practitioners could only battle with poultices and herbal lore. This likely swayed many people to the Light's "side". Even so, the Light would never have the power over agriculture the Old Ways had. It seemed one was a compliment to the other--Heaven and Earth.

Over time, humanity would become more and more organized. Huts would become stone buildings, which would become a small hamlet, which would become a town, and so on. The Light flourished amongst its new followers, and humanity's research into the Light would give birth to its first libraries. But what of the ones that still held onto humanity's old traditions? This is where things turn sour, for either side.

One of the interesting facets in comparing the Church to the Old Ways is its leadership structure. The Church of the Holy Light seems to be run mostly by men--yes, there are female priests, but its bishop(s) and archbishop are men. Highly, rigidly structured. In the Old Ways, women seem to rule, if Celestine's role is any indication. It is also very loosely structured. Celestine "leads", but she does not seem to order.

What if the men who could not rise in rank in the Old Ways, as unstructured as it was, would be the ones to flock to the new religion of the Light? What if they then built a new, rigid structure to counter the organic nature of the Old Ways, a structure in which they had authority and power where they didn't before?

In the real-world attacks on paganism and supposed "witch craft" in Europe, women were the majority of victims, and usually a certain type of woman. That type usually lived alone, could easily be taken advantage of, and had something the church or government wanted--usually land. The witch hunt craze flourished around when Europe was moving into a more centralized form of government and economy. Those that worked outside the norms, by themselves, were distrusted. Then hated. Then taken and hung for their land and resources under the pretense of "witch".

I imagine something similar occurred in the early days of the Church. The Church had no power over agriculture like the Old Ways did. If a farm went bad, the Light could do nothing to save it, whereas the Old Ways would have it flourishing. The early church, I imagine, would be concerned with scrabbling for new power and footholds in society, even if it did honestly preach its tenets.

So, what to do? Blame the Old Ways practitioners for the farms of their followers going bad, compare them to the savagery of the trolls as they slowly forgot their roots. Convert their dark souls from their paganism, or kill them if that didn't work--remember, this is the early days. Mercy wasn't necessarily as strong as it is in the church today.

Over time, the Old Ways would dwindle. The facet of its structure that defined it--it's lack of structure--would be its downfall. It could not stand up to the order of the new Church. So, slowly, the Harvest Witches would move further and further to the edges of humanity.

Time would march on, the Church would forget more and more, eventually writing its transgressions against Witches as the other way around--it was the Witches who were cruel to them, and it defended humanity bravely against their paganism. It is the victors that write history, after all.

...And then we come to today where the last of the Old Ways were on the edges of Gilneas. And then the world was cracked open.

[Image: Culture_zpsf8fd51ee.png]

Based on the descriptions above, and comparison with real-world paganism, I have come up with the following:
Spoiler:
              The Old Ways seem to be run by women. Not that men are barred from rising in its unstructured ranks. It just seems to be they think women match the powers of the natural world better. As they are run by women, meekness, shyness, and most anything we deem as "lady-like" would be met with confusion and mockery. This, coupled with Gilnean independence and pride would render an Old Ways woman as quite outspoken.

              While they are not savage, perse, they are not quite on the same level of "civilized" as the normal city-dweller. These people likely grew up on the edges of society. In the woods and fields.

              They likely revere their ancestors, and are more concerned with the natural cycle of things than their souls going to a pretty place in the clouds. It is unknown, or unclear what they think the afterlife is.

              Holidays! They have those. Today, they likely celebrate any holiday any other human does, but with their own historical twist. Do some research on the old meanings of European holidays, and you'll find neat notes to use in RP. Also the use of holidays like Beltane and Samhain (respectfully).

              They likely view aging differently than most city-folk. Whereas most people would view aging with trepidation, I imagine the Old Ways welcome it as a new stage in life, a new level of wisdom to share with the new generation. They aren't very concerned with physical beauty, at least not as much as a city-dweller.

              Ancestral reverence is present, though likely not to the degree of the orcs' faith. Gilnean grave markers possess candles, and often empty bottles of some alcoholic drink or another. In a number of quests, spirits and a worry about upsetting the restful dead are mentioned.

              Reverence for Elune and Goldrinn has likely started to catch on with Gilneans being introduced to Darnassus.

              These are just some basic notes! You will likely find and develop your own, as you should.

[Image: Powers_zpsa6600feb.png]
The Old Ways practitioners and Harvest Witches rely on natural magics. Simple sounding stuff, right?

Since I've been RPing an Old Ways follower, I've seen people take many paths in RPing their powers. I'll try to break it down here with some examples.

Do note that you don't even have to have fancy nature powers to follow the Old Ways! Just like Light priests and the congregation. You also don't have to be a worgen.

Spoiler:
The Farmer
This type sticks to his or her roots, just using their gifts enough to aid the harvest. He or she is likely not a worgen, as the gift of Goldrinn increases a Harvest Witches powers.

The Druid
This type has dived head-first into true druidism. They adopt a form and learn all they can about it. That aside, it's good to remember that Gilnean druids have only been learning for a few months, if they started when they got to Darnassus and haven't stopped.

Wither-Witch
I've taken this route myself, and I love it. This type relies on decay and death to bring life. Fungus, molds, insects, the burning sun. Good forms for this are bird form and moonkin.

Sun Priest
Yes, Old Ways followers can have priests! With how important the sun is in nourishing crops, revering the sun makes sense. An Old Ways follower could have adopted sun-reverence and attained Light-like powers when the Light blessed humanity.

Moon Priest
On the opposite side is the moon, and dark forest shadows; your shadow priest. These bring balance to the sun, and the sun brings balance to them. They make the rest of the clan strong by making them resilient against fear and darkness.

Knight of the Thorn
With the rise of dangers to the Old Faith, Harvest Witches need protection. These are warriors whose martial skills are enhanced by natural magics.

...Fancy Name Hunter or Rogue
Ok, couldn't think of a name. But you get the idea! An Old Ways following hunter or rogue that uses natural magic to explain his or her abilities.

Sources:
Gilneas Compendium
Wowpedia
Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts
Ogham Alphabet
Futhark Runes
[Image: tumblr_nfm4t0FZcT1rtcd58o1_r1_500.gif]
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#2
Yes! Now I can finally play a Druid without feeling scared!
“Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”
— G.K. Chesterton

Spoiler:
[Image: tumblr_n9hl98KKPd1r4fnslo1_500.gif]

Have a puppy Ruby and a nice day.
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#3
Made a small edit to the powers section.
[Image: tumblr_nfm4t0FZcT1rtcd58o1_r1_500.gif]
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#4
Quote:Wither-WitchThis type relies on decay and death to bring life. Fungus, molds, insects, the burning sun. Good forms for this are bird form and moonkin.

Spoiler:
[Image: 1338309126549.jpg]

[Image: return-to-ravnica-art-spoiler-golgari-2.jpg?w=604]

Wither Witch. Prelude to the Golgari.
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#5
Just in time too as I made a worgen druid.
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#6
(11-28-2013, 08:05 AM)Kage Wrote:
Quote:Wither-WitchThis type relies on decay and death to bring life. Fungus, molds, insects, the burning sun. Good forms for this are bird form and moonkin.

Spoiler:
[Image: 1338309126549.jpg]

[Image: return-to-ravnica-art-spoiler-golgari-2.jpg?w=604]

Wither Witch. Prelude to the Golgari.

I actually had no idea about this entity/guild in MtG! Neat-o. And yes, that's a very good comparison. Except for the allowance of undead.
[Image: tumblr_nfm4t0FZcT1rtcd58o1_r1_500.gif]
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#7
Very helpful text! Sure does encourage ideas and RP.
[Image: 4ab673a110e5324a7acf57e330a6c8eb.jpg]
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#8
(11-28-2013, 09:52 AM)c0rzilla Wrote: I actually had no idea about this entity/guild in MtG! Neat-o. And yes, that's a very good comparison. Except for the allowance of undead.

And now I go to find a guild similar to the Golgari. .. And all the other guilds they got in Return to Ravnica.

Spoiler:
[Image: izzet_4mjvjntdh0_1.png] Anyone wanna play with fire and science?


Anyway. The thread is pretty helpful. Worgen are a race I have trouble writing about to begin with. Druids in general are hard for me. I'll be using this when I make my own harvest witch.

Spoiler:
[Image: arcana1097_menace.jpg]

Nature, y u so scary?
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#9
Since people seem to like this, can it be moved to Guides?
[Image: tumblr_nfm4t0FZcT1rtcd58o1_r1_500.gif]
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#10
This is interesting. I mean, some of the history would probably be a bit different, but I don't know. The power over agriculture being important before the humans stopped being nomadic would be interesting, and -could- make sense, but agriculture (in terms of farms and things) wouldn't have really existed until they settled down. But that's really irrelevant now that I think about it.

What's interesting about the practitioners of the Old Ways is that you could really even make an excuse for mage. There's that whole thing about how it doesn't truly matter how you get your powers, for example having a troll mage who gets his power from the loa and though he uses mage spells, they are fueled by divine energy as opposed to the arcane. IT would be interesting to see a kind of witch based on the mage skill-set. But really, there are so many possibilities.

This is great.
[Image: Ml7sNnX.gif]
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#11
(12-29-2013, 10:49 AM)Aphetoros Wrote: What's interesting about the practitioners of the Old Ways is that you could really even make an excuse for mage. There's that whole thing about how it doesn't truly matter how you get your powers, for example having a troll mage who gets his power from the loa and though he uses mage spells, they are fueled by divine energy as opposed to the arcane. IT would be interesting to see a kind of witch based on the mage skill-set. But really, there are so many possibilities.

No, not quite. The Old Ways are specifically natural, proto-druidic magic. Maybe if you gain access to Vrykul runes you could, but I can't see that happening.

Could I get this moved to guides?
[Image: tumblr_nfm4t0FZcT1rtcd58o1_r1_500.gif]
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#12
Moved to Character-Guides.
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#13
(12-29-2013, 02:11 PM)c0rzilla Wrote:
(12-29-2013, 10:49 AM)Aphetoros Wrote: What's interesting about the practitioners of the Old Ways is that you could really even make an excuse for mage. There's that whole thing about how it doesn't truly matter how you get your powers, for example having a troll mage who gets his power from the loa and though he uses mage spells, they are fueled by divine energy as opposed to the arcane. IT would be interesting to see a kind of witch based on the mage skill-set. But really, there are so many possibilities.

No, not quite. The Old Ways are specifically natural, proto-druidic magic. Maybe if you gain access to Vrykul runes you could, but I can't see that happening.

Could I get this moved to guides?

I was more referring to simple things with fire, water, and ice, weather/tem9perature. Not like, arcane missiles. The arcane skillset would be locked out for sure, (well, I mean, excluding really simple things that resemble moonfire, which is nature-based arcane.)
[Image: Ml7sNnX.gif]
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#14
Even still, it wouldn't be possible. Fire and water are not in a druid's repertoire. Again, maybe with Vrykul runes, but I don't know how those would be accessed, if that's even allowed. I don't think anyone really ICly has a hint of the connection.
[Image: tumblr_nfm4t0FZcT1rtcd58o1_r1_500.gif]
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#15
An old ways runemaster would be pretty neat to see... and something I thought about.

And while I'm aware monks are in pandaria... there aren't Worgen monks. Runemaster would be the next best thing. So sad you can't be a Worgen monk.
[Image: desc_head_freemasons.jpg]

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