Hearthstone is set in the Warcraft universe, with the vast majority of characters, spells, weapons and locations drawn from World of Warcraft or earlier games. Wherever possible, the developers go to great trouble to recreate the feel and personality of cards' Warcraft counterparts. However, Hearthstone is not strictly tied to the lore of these games.
Hearthstone has introduced myriad new characters, spells, and weapons, as well as reimagining existing ones. The game's expansions and adventures often offer a fresh twist on classic tales and settings, with some reinventing them entirely, or introducing major new developments to familiar locations. The developers are "passionate" about creating new characters, such as Annoy-o-Tron and Arch-Thief Rafaam, as well as new lore, such as that of the Grand Tournament. The rate at which new characters and lore are being innovated is increasing, as the developers explore new possibilities within the Warcraft universe.
While Hearthstone exists within the Warcraft universe, the burgeoning roster of new characters and events introduced by the game are for the most part not yet confirmed as existing in the main Warcraft universe. From the Warcraft perspective, Hearthstone is a magical card game played by many of Azeroth's denizens, containing its own colourful depictions and "tavern tales", with the majority of the game's original content not confirmed as "canon", or real within the main universe. However, over time some characters and elements from Hearthstone have been introduced to World of Warcraft, thus confirming their canonicity. Hearthstone can therefore be seen to exist either as a separate lore universe, with its own version of events; or within the main universe, providing tall tales and rumours of many otherwise unheard of things, some of which may be true, some of which may not.
Regardless of its place within the main canon, as the game continues to expand, an ever growing body of lore emerges that is clearly and uniquely Hearthstone. Whether introducing new characters, adding new events to the existing Warcraft canon, or retelling classic stories with very different endings, this page aims to chart the emerging Hearthstone lore.
- 1 Lore within lore
- 2 New lore
- 2.1 Hearthstone
- 2.2 The inn
- 2.3 The Grand Tournament
- 2.4 Gadgetzan
- 2.5 Un'Goro Crater
- 2.6 The League of Explorers
- 2.7 The Old Gods
- 2.8 Karazhan
- 2.9 Blackrock Mountain
- 2.10 Tavern Brawls
- 2.11 Original characters, abilities and weapons
- 2.12 Expanded character lore
- 2.13 Racial lore
- 2.14 Flavor text
- 2.15 Miscellaneous
- 3 Breaking from canon
- 4 Collaboration
- 5 History
- 6 References
Lore within lore
When considering lore, it should be noted that Hearthstone is really two games - the matches themselves, and the overall player experience, including the Innkeeper, the Collection and the box itself. The game of Hearthstone is intentionally simplistic - the scenario of Ragnaros commanding an army of Ragnaroses to defeat the enemy Ragnaros should not be taken too literally - while the overarching game world fits, for the most part, into the larger canon of Warcraft lore.
However, the line between these two worlds often blurs, and which pieces of lore are intended to be a part of the real world of Azeroth, and which are simply devices for the card game itself, is in places unclear. Is Skycap'n Kragg based upon a real character from the Grand Tournament, or was he simply invented by the game's designers to entertain players? Did Karazhan once host the wildest parties this side of Argus? Did a night elf archaeologist really lead a group of children into the dinosaur-infested tar pits of Un'Goro Crater?
Several Innkeeper's blogs describe events playing out in the inn, with apparent connection to developments within the game of Hearthstone itself. It is possible that this reflects the creators of the game responding to these "real world" events, such as creating the Grand Tournament card set in order to celebrate the real tournament playing out in Northrend at the time. Alternatively, it is possible that the stories are themselves fabrications of the Innkeeper to entertain his patrons, created as backstory to already existing Hearthstone cards, and should not be taken too seriously.
The question of where the wider Hearthstone lore fits into the existing Warcraft lore is also a tricky one. Even if intended to be "real" within the Hearthstone universe, it may not be accepted as canon by the lore-keepers of the Warcraft universe. For example, the game of Hearthstone itself has since been integrated into World of Warcraft, but that doesn't necessarily mean the inn and the Innkeeper himself are "real" in that world. Likewise, since his debut in The League of Explorers, Sir Finley Mrrgglton has appeared in World of Warcraft, but how much of the adventure seen in Hearthstone is intended to also be canon - such as his companions Reno Jackson and Elise Starseeker, the villainous Arch-Thief Rafaam, or the Staff of Origination - is unknown.
Hearthstone therefore presents three nesting lore universes: the extensive universe of Warcraft lore; the emerging Hearthstone universe, whether taken as fact or myth; and the card game of Hearthstone itself. While the Hearthstone universe is based upon the main Warcraft universe, the same is certainly not true of the game of Hearthstone itself, which is happy to retell stories and reimagine characters in clearly lore-breaking ways. The game even goes so far as to put new words in the mouths of living heroes such as Thrall and Brann Bronzebeard, not to mention inventing whole conversations with infamous deceased villains such as Nefarian and Kel'Thuzad. This is easily understood as entertaining dressing designed to enchant and amuse the patrons of Azeroth's taverns as they play; however, the exact line between poetic licence and genuine glimpses of unseen details is unclear. Jaina Proudmoore was never recorded as speaking the words "My magic will tear you apart!" until her appearance in Hearthstone, but does the quote record a real phrase of the mage, or simply put words in her mouth?
Beyond this discussion lies of course the realm of creative licence, with the digital game's real-life developers intentionally seeking a fun and light-hearted experience, without taking the lore too seriously. This mirrors the idea of the in-universe game's designers wishing to entertain the tavern-goers, but often takes things even further, such as flavor text referencing real life culture or even breaking the fourth wall. Ben Brode describes Hearthstone as "a 'What If?' take on Warcraft lore."
No official statement has yet been made regarding the overall canonicity of Hearthstone, although the developers are happy to admit the game is only sometimes canonical. However, regardless of its relation to the Warcraft universe, Hearthstone is quickly creating a substantial body of lore, ranging from the colourful inventions of the game itself, to reports of developments within the wider world of Azeroth not yet glimpsed in games such as World of Warcraft.
- "It started in the inns and taverns, and the sight was always the same: two players studying the game board intently, laying down cards, smiling or snarling as they won or lost. Crowds soon gathered to watch. The game's popularity surged, and before long, you could find Hearthstone game boards all across Azeroth. You'd see players in cities, in merchant convoys, on ships at sea, in barracks and tents within military outposts. You've probably even spotted a few games in your garrison shortly after you arrived on Draenor."
The game within the game is itself a new piece of lore. The Azerothian game of Hearthstone was unheard of prior to the development of Hearthstone the computer game, but has since been added to World of Warcraft, with tables seen in the faction shrines in Pandaria's Vale of Eternal Blossoms, and various references, including as part of one Garrison mission. One of Hearthstone's chief developers has himself become part of Azeroth, through the NPC Ben Brode, a travelling merchant who sells Hearthstone tables and cards. For a list of cross-over elements, see World of Warcraft.
The Hearthstone Zodiac
The game of Hearthstone is regulated by the passage of the solar year, which apparently synchronises with a longer cycle of different constellations passing in Azeroth's night sky.
- "Each new Hearthstone year is symbolized by one of the zodiac constellations twinkling in Azeroth’s night sky. The moment when a new constellation comes into alignment heralds the start of the year and a time of jubilation and raucous revelry wherever Hearthstone is played!"
Each constellation is traditionally considered to depict a different beast, with the name of that beast then used to title the new year. For a list of known constellations and other in-game details, see The Standard year. The stellar phenomenon behind the cycling of the constellations is unknown, since with a steady orbit Azeroth should see the same constellations at the same times each year; the procession of different constellations on a near-annual basis may indicate a more unusual orbit. The term "Zodiac" however suggests that the constellations are eventually repeated, in a regular pattern, suggesting that the planet's orbit is ultimately fairly reliable.
Prior to Hearthstone, the humans of Azeroth have been known to mark the passage of time, traditionally using ADP (after the Dark Portal) and BDP (before the Dark Portal) as standards to number the years. However, the Hearthstone year does not seem to match this system, coming months after the end of the humans' year and the Lunar New Year, and having an irregular length. While certain constellations have been mentioned in Azeroth's night sky, the Zodiac and the known beasts do not match them, although with a range of possible signs this is not necessarily contradictory.
- "It's not easy to find. Most visitors can't tell you how they got there. A squad of orcs will say they stumbled in off the streets of Orgrimmar during an unseasonable storm. A caravan of gnome traders might claim they slogged through the Swamp of Sorrows for days before finding the inn in the middle of nowhere.
- All around the inn's common room, you will find stories of hard travels, tough fighting, and dangerous adventuring, of digging through snowed-out mountain passes and trudging across unforgiving desert plains.
- There is one constant: all found the inn when they needed it most, when they thought they couldn't walk another step or face another day. They discovered the right inn at the right time.
- It doesn't matter what faction they represent, what world they hail from, whether they walked into the common room alone or with a group, whether they're unarmed or clad in the finest armor. There to greet them all is innkeeper Stonebrew, the dwarf with a twinkle in his eye and quick hands that can top off a mug and slide it into your grasp before you sit down. If you're looking for a game of Hearthstone, he'll find you an empty seat. If you want to learn how to play, he'll sit across from you and walk you through a friendly match. If you want to watch others compete, he'll lead you to a spot with a view. Whatever you need to warm your soul or soothe your worries, he'll provide.
- Just don't cause any trouble."
The Innkeeper's blogs, especially The Innkeeper's Tale, are a rich source of lore for the inn and the Innkeeper. A mysterious and magical place, its doors somehow opening onto distant locations across Azeroth and perhaps beyond, the inn is also a rowdy and down-to-earth watering hole for all, regardless of race or faction. Patrons may arrive on foot or by mount, or even by portal.
While the inn is the site of many a heated game of Hearthstone, real violence is prohibited - although Tavern Brawls may represent an exception to this rule. The Innkeeper is also keen to avoid any major damage to the inn itself.
- "Oh, sure, the inn gets rowdy from time to time; there's no debating that. When two salty types sit down at a Hearthstone table, it's not uncommon to see a few punches traded once the match ends. Ask any dwarf: a night of fun isn't done without a brawl or two. But stick to your fists. Don't pull out any weapons—no blades, no clubs, no axes, no magic with ill intent. Cross that line… well, don't say you weren't warned. The innkeeper is stronger than he looks. You'd probably find yourself flying out of the front door before you landed a single blow, and if you were very, very lucky, you'd end up on a street in a city you recognized."
The Innkeeper also hates cheating, and appears to have the power to determine players' ranks, as well as which cards they are able to play with.
The game of Hearthstone is said to have "truly began" in the Innkeeper's very own inn. Some people have trouble finding the inn repeatedly, but may find themselves leaving with a Hearthstone board under their arm, spreading the game out into the rest of Azeroth. These "Fireside Gatherings" may even attract the attention of the Innkeeper himself, who may be seen refilling players' mugs and slapping unfortunate competitors on the back before vanishing as quickly as he appeared.
On at least one occasion patrons have taken their games outside the inn to finish them - with the rest of the inn peering out the windows to watch. This may mean the inn has an outside area that is still within the magical domain of the inn, or that the inn moves at intervals from location to location, resting at that place until its next shift. The Innkeeper may also have the power to control the movement of the inn. According to the Innkeeper, "the Inn has a knack for putting itself right where the excitement is", even if the Innkeeper doesn't know where that might be.
As well as transcending the usual rules of space, the inn appears to transcend the rules of time, or at least to provide a fuller framework to the non-canonical elements of Hearthstone. In one journal, the Innkeeper writes of the night King Magni Bronzebeard appeared at the inn, despite his having been turned to diamond years earlier. This could reflect the magical nature of the inn, or at least seems to show that Hearthstone is truly outside the timeline of the traditional Warcraft universe.
- The Innkeeper
Harth Stonebrew, better known as the Innkeeper, is the dwarven patron of the inn. He appears to control matches, determining matchups and rankings, as well as setting each week's Tavern Brawl. The Innkeeper also plays against players when not too busy, and seems to focus on helping newer players to learn the ropes.
The Grand Tournament
- "...and this is where our story takes a little bit of a turn from the story you may know from Warcraft..." - Eric Dodds
The Grand Tournament is one of the largest pieces of new lore to date, adding a new world event to Azeroth. Following the defeat of the Lich King, the organisers of the Argent Tournament found themselves missing the honorable combat of the tournament, and decided to restart the event, but with more of an emphasis on fun and sport, rather than on the threat of Azeroth's destruction. They named the new event "The Grand Tournament".
The organisers subsequently sent out invitations to heroes from across the world, including all the races of the Alliance and Horde. However, when the participants arrived, the organisers were surprised to discover that not only these races had received invitations - many others had also learned of the event, and had sent their greatest champions to do battle: murlocs, ogres, pirates, ethereals, and more. This resulted in a less conventional lineup than intended, with reputed warriors doing battle with never before seen champions of little-known races.
None of this has been featured in Warcraft lore. For the most part, this is obviously due to the Argent Tournament being part of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion; the Northrend zone in World of Warcraft has not been revisited by the developers since, and thus is still "frozen in time" in the era of the Lich King. In theory, the Grand Tournament, characters from it, or at least mentions of it, could be added to official Warcraft lore in the future, and intended to have been taking place all along. However, its design is distinctively Hearthstone.
The weather for The Grand Tournament is also meant to be slightly warmer than in the icy days of the Argent Tournament. This may be a result of the deposition of the Lich King (although another soon took his place) or simply due to the Hearthstone version of the event taking place at a less inhospitable time of year.
As with all cards, it should noted that most of the named characters within the Grand Tournament set are bosses from the Argent Tournament, who were killed during the tournament. Presumably their inclusion therefore reflects a fun revisiting of the characters for the purpose of the game of Hearthstone, rather than their actual appearance at the Grand Tournament itself.
Minor innovations include the tabards of some Argent Crusade members such as Argent Horserider combining the sigil of the Crusade with the Hearthstone swirl.
For official quotes on the Grand Tournament, see The Grand Tournament#Lore.
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan sees substantial expansion to the goblin city seen in World of Warcraft, essentially telling the story of the city following its appearance in Cataclysm, but with a distinctly Hearthstone twist.
- Main article: Journey to Un'Goro#Lore
Journey to Un'Goro offers a peek into the current state of affairs within the eponymous crater, and it seems that in the years since the Cataclysm the life within the zone has developed significantly - and in some startling directions. While the crater had always been home to elementals, dinosaurs, and some mysterious and powerful crystals, since adventurers last charted the zone it seems the three have begun to merge, with the area's reptilian inhabitants gaining strange new elemental powers, and even fusing with living crystals. Other races such as the tol'vir have also migrated into the zone, making a home for themselves amid the crater's bustling (and ravenous) ecosystem.
The League of Explorers
Featuring in the adventure of the same name, the League of Explorers is a globe-trotting, treasure-hunting team that seeks to acquire artifacts from around the world, with the goal of preserving them in the Hall of Explorers, the greatest museum on Azeroth. The League consists of four prominent members: its founder Brann Bronzebeard, famous explorer and younger brother of Muradin and Magni Bronzebeard; Elise Starseeker, the mysterious mastermind behind the League's operations; Sir Finley Mrrgglton, a gentleman, scholar, and murloc; and Reno Jackson, a profit-chasing treasure hunter who is currently on probation for bad behaviour.Recently however the League has sought help from brave adventurers to aid them in seeking the Staff of Origination.
The League is the Hearthstone incarnation of the Explorer's Guild, also known as the Explorer's League. While the two share a name, and the patronage of Brann Bronzebeard, there is a substantial difference in purpose and character between the two depictions.
While in Hearthstone the League is a small band of four explorers, in World of Warcraft the Guild is a huge organisation with digsites in all corners of the world, and a small army of prospectors. The loose intellectual guidance of Elise Starseeker replaces the direction of High Explorer Magellas. While the League appears to be fascinated with the preservation of all kinds of treasures, the Guild is firmly focused upon researching the origins of the dwarven race, seeking to better understand their true nature and history as the earthen. Created by Brann and King Magni Bronzebeard himself, the Guild is not only strongly dwarven, but clearly Alliance, finding themselves in direct opposition to the Reliquary in their work in Pandaria and Draenor.
The other members of the League besides Brann - the night elf Elise Starseeker, the human Reno Jackson, and the murloc Sir Finley Mrrgglton - are also original to Hearthstone, with almost every known member of the Guild in World of Warcraft being a dwarf. Sir Finley is especially original, showing remarkably un-murloc-like behaviour, attitudes and diction. Both the adventure's villain Arch-Thief Rafaam and the ultimate objective - the Staff of Origination - are also original to Hearthstone.
Following his introduction in Hearthstone, Sir Finley was added to World of Warcraft with Legion, appearing as an NPC in Stormheim. This makes him the first original Hearthstone character to become part of World of Warcraft and canon Warcraft lore.
For story and related lore, see The League of Explorers.
The Old Gods
The overall theme of the expansion is an awakening of the Old Gods, which is not yet known to have any correspondence in the main Warcraft universe. Indeed, each of the Old Gods besides N'Zoth are known to be dead in the main universe, Yogg-Saron and C'Thun having been killed by players during some of World of Warcraft's older raids.
One area of difference is the large amount of characters which have sprouted tentacles, extra eyeballs, and other slimy appendages as a result of Old God "infestation", apparently purely through the power of their whispers. While this is not exactly non-canon, it is not something that is featured in World of Warcraft - the whispers of the Old Gods can drive even mighty Dragon Aspects insane, but do not cause them to spontaneously grow new limbs. However, the overall result, while perhaps exaggerated, does roughly fit the more direct influence of the Old Gods seen during the latter portion of the Garrosh Hellscream fight in the Siege of Orgrimmar.
Hearthstone's readiness to combine elements from different points in the Warcraft continuum arises again in the expansion with cards like Klaxxi Amber-Weaver - a Klaxxi which worships not its creator, Y'Shaarj, but instead C'Thun. This is explained as being partly due to the game's combination of multiple timelines, since Y'Shaarj is dead in the main contemporary Warcraft timeline. However, within Hearthstone this can be a little confusing, since Y'Shaarj appears to be alive and well, appearing on the battlefield alongside the Klaxxi as a legendary minion card. Likewise, despite being created by C'Thun, some of the qiraji follow N'Zoth; this is explained as being due to the death of C'Thun, with its now masterless servants ready to rally behind any remaining Old God. Again, this can be confusing as piratical qiraji are distinctly original to the game, and yet C'Thun is alive in Hearthstone. Ultimately, the expansion throws together elements from various versions of the Warcraft universe, with no single cohesive narrative.
The corruption of existing characters specifically presents new lore, notably in the case of Hogger and King Mukla - or rather, Hogger, Doom of Elwynn and Mukla, Tyrant of the Vale - as does the "uncorruption" of Ragnaros the Firelord into Ragnaros, Lightlord. Other corrupted characters are more generic, but also appear not to be represented in the main Warcraft lore. The Ancient One is another character original to the expansion, described as "the Old Gods' greatest creation".
Despite some confusion from other sources, official lore for the expansion also states that while Yogg-Saron "opened the door when it corrupted Vordrassil", it was "not the only Old God at work in the Emerald Dream". The precise canonicity of this is not yet certain.
Whispers of the Old Gods also presents a new possibility in how to regard the canonicity of its contents:
- Ancient evil rises, and a window to an alternate reality has been opened. Here, the Old Gods’ grasp has corrupted Azeroth, plunging the tavern into madness...
The window between these realities may have been opened by the Old Gods of the other reality, seeking to spread their corruption even beyond their own universe. Alternatively it may have been opened by the desperate denizens of the alternate Azeroth, seeking aid in their losing battle against the rising darkness, or simply hoping to escape it. It may also may mean that many of the cards from the expansion - likely including the corrupted versions of existing minions - are set within (or climbing through from) this alternate reality, rather than representing changes to the known minions within the main reality.
In this reality, all four Old Gods are awake (and alive), and unleashed upon Azeroth. This has corrupted many of the world's inhabitants, while others such as Ragnaros, Lightlord have been inspired by this cataclysm to stand and fight against the ancient horrors, with the Elemental Lord forsaking his evil ways.
"Alternate reality" may refer to an alternate timeline, similar to that explored in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.
The alternate reality model could explain the contradictions in the concept of the Old Gods "awakening", with that referring to the Old Gods of the other reality; however, the strength of their grip upon the alternate Azeroth may suggest that they are already well-awakened in that reality. Alternatively, the Old Gods of the main reality could be awakening due to the influence of the Old Gods from the other reality. Ben Brode states, "Whispers of the Old Gods (if not all of Hearthstone) is definitely a 'What If?' take on Warcraft lore", confirming that the events of the expansion are not intended to be canon within the wider lore.
Channeling the power of the Old Gods
While the expansion presents a theme of corruption and unimaginable evil, the inclusion of its cards in players' decks appears to represent not corruption but intentionally "channeling the power of the Old Gods". This could explain why "good" heroes such as Thrall, Malfurion and Uther, who have long fought against the influence of the Old Gods, would now so readily embrace their powers. In contrast to the many corrupted (if empowered) minions, the cards seem to present a way of using this power without suffering corruption, although a few cards like Tentacles for Arms leave room for doubt.
The efforts of the player in channeling this dark power apparently win them "the admiration of the people of Azeroth", later contributing to their invitation to a certain party in Karazhan tower.
One Night in Karazhan reimagines the glory days of the haunted tower of Karazhan. Set in a time period that is distinctly original to Hearthstone, the adventure depicts a young Medivh as Azeroth's most eligible bachelor, and prone to throwing the best parties known to man, elf or murloc. At the party friends and enemies alike join in drinks, dancing and groovy disco music, all the while benefiting from Medivh's entertaining enchantments. Given the dark and haunted history of the tower, the adventure represents not only a substantial reimagining of both Karazhan and Medivh, but one that is distinctly contrasting to the main universe lore.
For background lore on the adventure itself, see One Night in Karazhan.
- Brode notes that from a story standpoint, this is "a total departure from World of Warcraft." However, he also believes it's just bringing something forward that was always there. "Really, we have two masters of Blackrock: Ragnaros and Nefarian," Brode says. "This rivalry between them — that didn't come to the forefront ever in World of Warcraft, because they were never in the same place at the same time."
Blackrock Mountain saw some key departures from existing lore, with the two infamous villains of the mountain seeking the aid of adventurers to defeat one another. While in World of Warcraft Ragnaros was defeated several patches before players first encountered Nefarian, in Hearthstone the players encounter both at once, and are entreated by Nefarian's human form, Lord Victor Nefarius, into assaulting Ragnaros' forces in the lower half of the mountain. Once the Firelord is defeated, Nefarius is surprised to find the player turning upon his forces, too. As the black dragon's forces are slowly defeated, Nefarius' tone turns from friendly to hostile, and he is eventually forced to reveal his identity in battle with the player.
The two villains also do battle in the first ever Tavern Brawl, Showdown at Blackrock Mountain. This time they're leaving adventurers out of it, and going head to head to settle the score once and for all. As is common with Hearthstone lore, this Brawl might be considered to take place prior to Blackrock Mountain (thus leading to its story) or simply as part of the apparently unending feud with the two characters.
However, since all of these events take place within the game itself, these departures are presumably more a matter of retelling a legendary tale than a retcon of existing lore.
Tavern Brawls are set within specific pieces of Hearthstone lore. Most add a light lore context to explain rule alterations, such as Webspinners having overrun the players' decks, Dalaran floating overhead, or an encounter at the Crossroads; while some invent more extensive lore, such as a great gathering of summoners or the mages of dalaran unleashing hundreds of portals upon Azeroth.
Tavern Brawls are clearly set within the game of Hearthstone itself, but use places and events from the wider universe as setting, including both standard Warcraft canon and Hearthstone-specific lore. Thus like many other examples of Hearthstone lore it is often unclear where the Brawl ends and the 'real' world of Hearthstone begins.
The Masked Ball
- "At the SI:7 mansion in Stormwind they have a grand masked ball every year. Everyone is in disguise!
The Masked Ball appears to be a new piece of Hearthstone lore, set in the "SI:7 mansion" in Stormwind. While the SI:7 - the secretive all-rogue branch of King Varian's forces - does indeed have its base in Stormwind, the title of "mansion" is new to Hearthstone, and the deadly nature of their work (and guards posted around its entrance) make a light-hearted masked ball there seem unlikely in the traditional Warcraft canon.
Clockwork Card Dealer introduces a new character - Optimotron. Created by the gnomes of Tinkertown, this prototype card-bot appears to sort the decks of those playing Hearthstone, ensuring they will draw an appropriate-cost card each turn.
- "An encounter at the crossroads... under a manastorm! Choose a class, get random cards. Each turn your cards' cost are randomized!"
Randomonium introduces the concept of a "manastorm". Judging from this Brawl's rules, the effect of a manastorm appears to be to impact mana use within a localised area. Given that cards' costs are only lowered and not raised, it could be speculated to specifically facilitate magic use. Note that the game of Hearthstone itself uses 'mana' to play any card, thus involving the use of mana even in simple physical actions such as equipping weapons or armor. Within the wider Hearthstone lore, a manastorm may only impact genuine mana use, or may indeed also affect other resources or even physical capabilities.
The circumstances under which a manastorm might occur are also an interesting subject for speculation; the phenomenon may be natural or artificial, but is apparently occurring at The Crossroads, a small town in the Northern Barrens. However, the location could be an invention of the Brawl's creators, with the phenomenon itself originating in a mana-rich environment such as the Netherstorm. Indeed, the Netherstorm is known to be locked in a constant magical storm, slowly tearing the region apart.
While mana is a common element in Warcraft lore, and various technologies such as manaforges exist, manastorms have not before been documented. The term itself has been used before, most notably as the surname of Millhouse Manastorm, and two pieces of gear also use the name: Manastorm Leggings and Manastorm Band. There is a single NPC ability in World of Warcraft called Manastorm, which was added in Cataclysm, but its use is uncertain, and likely obscure.
Original characters, abilities and weapons
- Main article: Original cards in Hearthstone
While Hearthstone is set firmly in the Warcraft universe, many characters, abilities and weapons have made their debut with Hearthstone itself. Hearthstone has also introduced numerous new character types, and titles for existing types. Original cards in Hearthstone provides a list of named characters original to Hearthstone.
In terms of lore, since most of these characters exist purely within the Hearthstone card game itself, it is not certain whether they are intended to be modelled upon "real" people and classes in the Hearthstone universe, or are simply fictional characters invented by the makers of the game for the purpose of entertainment. Some original characters do exist beyond their appearances as cards, such as in the Innkeeper's journal or the Gadgetzan Gazette, which could be taken as confirming their presence as real characters within the larger Hearthstone canon.
Expanded character lore
Many well-known characters from the Warcraft universe find themselves re-imagined in Hearthstone. Even aside from the practicalities necessary to make minions fit within the card game itself, the overarching Hearthstone lore often adds flavour and detail to existing characters.
For example, in World of Warcraft King Mukla is simply a level 33 hostile mob, who has taken a tauren princess captive. However, in Hearthstone he not only has acquired a love of bananas (and extremely nourishing ones at that) but wishes to share his love with all and sundry - even the adventurers who defeated him! He is also apparently still in power in the era of The Grand Tournament - even going so far as to send a minion of his own to champion him in the tournament.
There are too many instances of character lore to list here; see individual card pages for details.
Racial characteristics and abilities is another area of new lore. However, given the clear relationship between these abilities and play within the game itself, these innovations should be considered more as new directions of lore than as literal descriptions of racial abilities.
With Goblins vs Gnomes, the game's first troggs were introduced, from the start possessing a very distinctive characteristic: each type of trogg has its own triggered effect which activates when the opponent casts a spell. This represents their ability to "metabolize magic" that is used near them. However, it is otherwise not a characteristic seen in any other Warcraft game.
While the game's first ogres had no special defining characteristic, Goblins and Gnomes introduced several new ogres (and one ogre weapon) all featuring the "forgetful" ability. This semi-official term refers to a triggered effect that gives the minion a 50% chance to attack the wrong enemy. Variously styled as "clumsy", "careless", "wild and uncontrollable", and "forgetful", the effect could be interpreted in several ways. While clumsiness and a tendency to ill-controlled aggression are known characteristics of ogres in lore, the specific tendency to attack entirely the wrong target is new to Hearthstone.
Some other races feature specific synergies and characteristics not explicitly seen in World of Warcraft:
- Dwarves in Hearthstone have a specific theme of dealing damage or destroying minions.
- Demons exact specific and immediate penalties upon the summoner. This is far more direct than the general sense of sacrifice generally seen in other Warcraft lore.
- Several n'raqi (faceless ones) have abilities themed around copying the characteristics of or disguising themselves as other minions. Examples include Faceless Manipulator, Faceless Shambler, Darkspeaker, Shadowy Figure, Faceless Rager, and the tokens created by Doppelgangster.
The flavor text within Hearthstone is clearly non-canon. While most stay within the Warcraft universe, some include clearly non-Warcraft elements, quote real life song lyrics, or even break the fourth wall. While most could be seen as "fun facts" being written by the designers of the game for entertainment purposes, these exceptions seem to clearly show that flavor text cannot be taken as serious lore. Even the developers admit that the flavor text is not intended to be canon.
The presence of flavor text within the Collection also serves as a reminder that while the box and cards are intended to be "real", the user interface is not.
Nexus-Champion Saraad's card art depicts Saraad riding an "energy-camel", a new ethereal racial mount original to Hearthstone. The mount was innovated during the design of Nexus-Champion Saraad, with earlier ideas including a giant scorpion.
Murlocs in Hearthstone are known to sometimes ride frogs, essentially as a kind of racial mount. This appears to be first known instance of murlocs using mounts. Seemingly inspired by the knights of other races in the The Grand Tournament, it is possible murlocs only adopted mounts in order to imitate the other riders, and may not do so outside of such special occasions.
- Gorillas and hippopotamuses
Mukla's Champion is depicted riding a hippopotamus. This is notable, as hippopotamuses are not previously known to exist in World of Warcraft. The planet of Draenor has hippo-like creatures called riverbeasts, but they have rocky plates covering their backs, as well as long, club-like tails, neither of which are possessed by the beast ridden by Mukla's Champion. This is also the first known reference to gorillas riding mounts.
Hearthstone's virmen are notably depicted as being more antropomorphic and intelligent than their original World of Warcraft incarnation, possessing a more upright and humanoid body shape and seemingly lacking the long, rat-like tails seen on the latter.
Breaking from canon
- "I mean, very little makes sense. Uther is dead. You can polymorph a totem. It's fine." - Ben Brode
As a trading card game, Hearthstone by necessity overlooks some key elements of the Warcraft universe. Factions are practically non-existent, especially with the introduction of alternate heroes; Garrosh Hellscream, former Warchief of the Horde, can command a Goldshire Footman, while a fierce Frostwolf Warlord is happy to follow the orders of Jaina Proudmoore, who once tried to use her magic to wipe the Horde capital of Ogrimmar from the face of Azeroth - with all its civilian inhabitants inside. In stark contrast to Warcraft's strong theme of faction pride, Hearthstone's developers "don't really see cards as having a faction".
Hearthstone gameplay mechanics present even more examples of events and actions that could not be considered possible in the real world of Warcraft. The young Anduin Wrynn can do as much damage with a Death's Bite as the towering Garrosh, and a Sheep can destroy a full Health hero in only 30 butts of its head - something that in World of Warcraft would require a whole raid of well-geared players to achieve. A Squirrel is capable of destroying Deathwing in a single strike if a hunter has placed his mark upon it first, while if Cairne Bloodhoof dies in the company of Baron Rivendare, his son Baine will be cloned.
Time is another key factor that is brushed aside in Hearthstone. In the Warcraft canon, Gul'dan died nearly 25 years before Hearthstone was released, yet he can fight in battle against Uther Lightbringer, who himself died 15 years later, and with the right luck command an Iron Juggernaut, which wasn't even invented until nearly 10 years after Uther's death. In the words of Ben Brode, "Time is not something we worry about in Hearthstone."
The combination of multiple timelines at times presents some odd incongruities. For example, Klaxxi Amber-Weaver serves the Old God C'Thun, due to its creator Y'Shaarj being dead in the main timelines - even though in Hearthstone, Y'Shaarj appears to be alive and well. Brode states, "we use whatever timeline gives us the coolest stuff, not afraid to mix and match."
The reasons for these departures is clear. The prime focus of Hearthstone must be on gameplay and its underlying mechanics. While factions did feature in Hearthstone's spiritual predecessor, the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, it is one of many factors removed in order to far simplify the game, helping to achieve Hearthstone's key goal of accessibility. Flexibility, consistency and simplicity are also critical factors, with cards like Polymorph able to affect any minion - even a simple wooden Totem - rather than featuring a range of different behaviours depending on the specific circumstances of its use.
If taken too seriously, these behaviours can lead to a warping of underlying lore. Could the heroes of Azeroth simply have used a Poultryizer to turn Deathwing into a Chicken, and avoided the Cataclysm entirely? Could a lone Magma Rager defeat Al'Akir, mighty elemental lord? Will Thrall explode if he runs out of cards? In the Warcraft canon, the answer to all these questions is "No". But in a game of Hearthstone, the answer is "Yes". For this reason, it is important to bear in mind that the game of Hearthstone is mean to be just that - a game, albeit a magical game played on a living, breathing board and featuring genuine explosive and pyrotechnic effects.
Another place in which Hearthstone potentially splits from existing canon is in its use of card art. The most infamous example of this is undoubtedly the Stampeding Kodo, which actually depicts a clefthoof, and not a kodo. Another example is Malygos, which in fact features an illustration of Kalecgos. Ben Brode has stated that these were deliberate decisions, based upon the art available for use at the time, and that the developers "felt like most people wouldn't notice or care." However, specific mis-depictions are not the only example of artistic divergence from canon.
Many cards in Hearthstone use art taken from the game's spiritual predecessor, the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. This art often depicts specific named characters, many of whom are exclusive to the TCG, but some of whom are not. In apparently all cases, no connection is intended between the Hearthstone card and the characters or events depicted in the art. In the case of most spells the art merely depicts the type of action or event that the spell represents, but minion (and more rarely weapon) cards often give entirely new names and identities to pre-exisiting characters, or in other cases apply inconsistent types or descriptions to them. For example, the art for Eydis Darkbane is taken from the TCG card "Askalti Darksteel"; while the art for the shaman spell Rockbiter Weapon actually depicts the legendary druid weapon Axe of Cenarius; and the art for Blackwing Corruptor actually depicts Forang Deathrattle.
With regard to character depiction in World of Warcraft, Ben Brode points out that in many cases the developers "don't have the bandwidth" to make characters "visually unique", a point which appears to be validated by the ongoing refinement of character models in that game, for player characters and also in more detail for specific characters such as Thrall and Varian Wrynn. This may justify the depiction of characters in varying forms, especially given how this has already occurred throughout the Warcraft game series, as can be seen in Wowpedia articles such as Thrall. More primitive technology means most older characters started out life fairly crudely depicted by a handful of pixels, while even the hand-drawn concept art for many characters differs substantially from their appearance today.
However, beyond the question of depiction, there is also the question of identity. Regarding such conflicts between Hearthstone and the TCG, Brode has stated that he would not "consider the TCG the source of authority on characters." Examples like Blackwing Corruptor make it clear the developers are happy to redefine identity within Hearthstone, regardless of the original identity ascribed to the art.
- Main article: World of Warcraft#Collaboration
The first Hearthstone lore had its origins in Goblins vs Gnomes. While Curse of Naxxramas featured a very specific and well-known setting, Goblins and Gnomes was the first content release to not provide the developers with an extensive cast of pre-existing characters. The developers' desire to feature a range of "interesting personalities" led to the innovation of the game's first original characters, including Annoy-o-Tron and Snowchugger.
Following the release of Goblins vs Gnomes, the developers received positive feedback from the community that they could "make some cool new personalities and lore for Hearthstone as well." The developers considered the innovation a "successful experiment" and decided to pursue the creation of new lore.
The next adventure, Blackrock Mountain, mostly focused on authentic reproductions of well-known bosses and minions, but also featured substantial storyline deviation from the Warcraft canon, with Ragnaros and Nefarian actively battling each other - at least by proxy. The following expansion, The Grand Tournament, saw the largest number of original characters to be added to date, as well as the innovation of a whole new event set in Azeroth - the Grand Tournament itself. The Tournament served as inspiration for numerous original characters, including the many Champion minions. The League of Explorers continued this trend, with a core cast of entirely new characters and a mix of familiar and new bosses. The adventure also features an original narrative combining pre-existing locations with new and likely non-canon events.
Since then, the game has continued its trend toward more original content. Whispers of the Old Gods depicted an imaginary Old God invasion (or possibly one taking place in an alternate universe), offering a "what if" take on events; while One Night in Karazhan explored the heyday of the legendary tower, putting a funky twist on even the most mean-spirited of villains; both putting a distinctly original spin on existing lore. The subsequent Mean Streets of Gadgetzan and Journey to Un'Goro depicted how the zones featured had developed and changed in the years since World of Warcraft's last updates, each introducing a large cast of original characters and creatures.
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