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Vrykul, Humans, and the Old Ways
Vrykul, Humans, and the Old Ways

Hello, CotH!

With this post, I wish to discuss...well, what the title up there says. An aspect or few of the relationship between Vrykul, humanity and the Old Ways. I will also incorporate runes from real-world paganism, using Ogam and Futhark runes.

First, I'll go on and define each of those three things. I'm going to just copy-and-paste from WoWPedia for the blurbs on Vrykul and Humanity for convenience's sake. For the section on the Old Ways, it'll be copy-pasted from here.

...Read it! You internet kids and your silly tl;dr.

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.

              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.

              Old Ways
              Gilnean culture has preserved a traditional form of naturalistic beliefs and magic referred to as “the Old Ways” (Ask CDev #3). 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 (Ask CDev #3). The Old Ways date to at least far back as early tribal human civilization, predating even the ancient human empire of Arathor (Ask CDev #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 (http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/4779562). 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 (Ask CDev #3).

              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’ (Ask CDev #3; 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’ (Ask CDev #3). 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 drive 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 (Ask CDev #3).

...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.

Sometime today I was on another server, a PvE one, running around leveling my archaeology in Northrend. I come upon a Vrykul area, dig. Find a keystone named a Vrykul Rune Stick. 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. 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).

Neat stuff!

Apologies of this was long-winded or disorganized. I will likely go back and edit this to make it cleaner!
[Image: tumblr_nfm4t0FZcT1rtcd58o1_r1_500.gif]
[-] The following 8 users Like c0rzilla's post:
  • Cerb57, Harmonic, WindZealot, Geoni, WingedReaver, Vladdy, Edgar, Aphetoros
Awesome stuff, gonna have to incorporate things like this more. There's definitely some parallels that could be drawn!
[Image: desc_head_freemasons.jpg]

△Move along.△


It should be noted that there are unused female Vrykul models in the game's content listing her as a druid. Though the file names aren't always lore-accurate, this might provide some insight into Blizz's intent.

I would also go so far as to suggest that the "Old Ways" might have originated with the Avatar of Freya, who is a powerful titanic entity who is fixated on Life, wields Life powers, and looks like she's part-plant. She doesn't seem to have anything related to the Feral Druid skill set, either. It is likely that she was revered by the Vrykul and she may have taught or have been emulated by the first followers of the "Old" Ways.
I'm thinking, Dae (and this is just a guess), that you may be thinking of Freya?
Quite literally, Old Ways.

Update with a couple pictures. Was flying around Gilneas looking for standing stones, and I passed a house.

[Image: 23jpqg5.jpg]

Maybe I'm seeing what I want to see, but it looked familiar in basic structure.

[Image: wowscrnshot_060711_173219.jpeg]
[Image: tumblr_nfm4t0FZcT1rtcd58o1_r1_500.gif]
[-] The following 2 users Like c0rzilla's post:
  • Cerb57, FlyingSquirrel
Well, considering that the humans are descended from the Vrykul, I have no doubt that some traditions would stick. They would alter and evolve throughout the years, but definitely makes sense. The futhark are really interesting, too, and I love them. Here's a nice website I found about it, if you haven't seen it. http://www.sunnyway.com/runes/

But yeah, this has me wanting to make a worgen druid/old ways follower. I have no doubt that a religion based on the old ways would be titanic in origin, too! We know that the Vrykul practice a type of runic magic that confounds most sorcerers and wizards, which would lead me to believe that it has a different origin than that of highborne-based arcane spellcasting. It seems to be much more ritualistic and spiritual in origin, but I'm not quite sure on what sort of power it calls on, but it is likely divine in nature. It is alluded that the curse of the flesh struck the Vrykul after the Titans, the Vrykul gods and creators, left. Seeing as the vrykul viewed the titans as gods, it's probably divine/nature/runic magic. The Kvaldir [url="http://www.wowpedia.org/Kvaldir_Mist_Lord"]Mist Lords[/url] even uses an ability reminiscent to a druid ability.

And there are a lot of references and nods to the futhark in WoW, especially in relation to the Vrykul. The connection made here is really interesting, and I had no idea there was this little bit of lore about the Old Ways and druids of the worgen race. Really cool find.

P.S. Careful with thurisaz, it's testy.
[Image: Ml7sNnX.gif]
[-] The following 1 user Likes Aphetoros's post:
  • c0rzilla

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