Story of the Burning Crusade Expansion with Nobbel87
With the start of the Burning Crusade Classic beta, we thought it was a great opportunity for our monthly Nobbel87 lore collaboration to cover the story of the Burning Crusade expansion.
The Dark Portal
Crossing the Dark Portal, an iconic landmark in World of Warcraft, is the very first thing your character will do in Burning Crusade. While it's an impressive and ominous piece of architecture even if you don't know the full story, it's even more sinister with the proper context.
When Sargeras recruited the Eredar to the Burning Legion, the remaining Draenei led by Velen fled from planet to planet. Eventually, their ship crashed on Draenor, home of the Orcs, which turned to tragedy when the Burning Legion discovered their location. Through the blood of Mannoroth, the Orcs were then enslaved by the Burning Legion, fighting against the Draenei and spreading conflict to Azeroth. As Nobbel explains:
Setting up the Dark Portal meant establishing a connection between Azeroth and Draenor to have the Horde come in and weaken the world for ultimately the Legion to claim. In response to the Horde’s first invasion, the Alliance of Lordaeron rose up. They defeated the Horde, placed those that surrendered within interment camps, and shut down the Dark Portal. Only for it to re-open and the Horde to try again. This time not to conquer Azeroth--their goal was to gather powerful artifacts which would allow them to open up more portals to different worlds. They even gained the assistance of the black dragon Deathwing. He would help the Horde out and in exchange they would hide some of his black dragon eggs on their home world. In time the Alliance of Lordaeron figured out what the Horde was up to and were not about to let them get away with it.
Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, Khadgar, Kurdran Wildhammer, Danath Trollbane and so many others stepped through the portal to stop the Horde. They were succesful but not before many portals were opened up across Draenor. The already-corrupted world was about to blow so Khadgar had no choice but to shut down the Dark Portal again. They fully expected to die, but did not. Unknown to those left on Azeroth, the sons of Lothar actually survived the transformation of Draenor into Outland. Yet the Dark Portal remained shut and time passed on...
You can experience the opening of the Dark Portal for yourself through the dungeon
and learn a lot more about the backstory behind the Draenei and their ancestral homeland of Argus in the Legion patch
Shadows of Argus
. In this patch, we also see the return of
High Exarch Turalyon
, who continue to play interesting roles in WoW's current story, as Turalyon rules the Alliance in Anduin's absence and Alleria practices dangerous Void magic. There's even a short story,
"A Thousand Years of War"
which explains how Alleria and Turalyon made it to Argus after being trapped on Outland.
Kael'thas, Vashj, and Illidan in Warcraft III
Kael'thas and Illidan are charismatic characters even for new players, but it helps to understand their story in Warcraft III. In this earlier game, we see how Illidan formed an allegiance with Lady Vashj and Kael'thas Sunstrider while fighting the Burning Legion.
The story is quite complex, and looking back, the Burning Crusade doesn't really do a great job explaining these characters--they show up in promotional materials, but we mainly encounter them as boss fights where they are positioned as the clear villain. Modern WoW has tried to delve into the rich lore for these characters, with quests like the
storyline for Illidan in Legion that retells history from his point of view, including the Black Temple fight
which makes clear that Illidan was fighting against the Burning Legion.
Illidan's allies, Vashj and Kael, also return as friendly characters in the current expansion Shadowlands, with
Vashj aiding us in Maldraxxus
Kael'thas beginning redemption in Revendreth
Here's an excerpt from Nobbel's video showing how Illidan's power in Outland grew, with the help of Vashj and Kael, and how Kil'jaeden worked to destabilize things:
Vashj and Kael’thas set their master free and then it was time to claim Outland as their own by working together with the Broken, lead by Akama. Together they claimed the Black Temple as well as the title of Lord of Outland from Magtheridon. Hiding away from Kil’jaeden wasn’t going to be that easy though. One last chance was given to Illidan to end the Lich King and once again he failed. His allies dragged him back to Outland where he continued working on his real plans, working in secret on his true war against the Burning Legion.
Having the pitlord Magtheridon chained up meant that they could drain it of its blood, transforming orcs into ruthless battlecrazed soldiers ready to fight for Illidan. At the Black Temple, the Demon Hunter recruits started to train more in Illidan's way of fighting, Blood Elves and Night Elves following in his footsteps. However, more troops did mean that they were going to need more supplies. Food wasn’t easy to come by on Outland and water was even more rare. Vashj was sent out to secure recourses within the Zangarmarsh while the Draenei there kept to their main refuge, Telredor, and used its defenses to fend off the naga.
Kil’jaeden eventually realised that Illidan was more then just a nuisance and could pose a real threat to the Legion. While sending out more demons to take him out, plans were made to permanently stop him. The world already saw illidan as the enemy, like the Legion, which was something that Kil’jaeden could use to his advantage. As a bonus, if he could manipulate the Horde and the Alliance into committing their resources on Outland, that would leave Azeroth vulnerable to yet another Legion invasion. They could restore the Sunwell and use its power to create a gateway for Kil’jaeden to come in. All he had to do was manipulate Kael'thas, turn him to their side, which wouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Illidan had taught Kael'thas and his people how to drain energy from artifacts, creatures, and the environment to sate their cravings for magic. Yet these methods only left the elves wanting more. The prince started snorting fel magic and Kil’jaeden whispered to him that Illidan was holding out and that the Legion instead could reveal the true power of fel. In exchange, he simply wanted the prince to abandon Illidan’s side. Over time the trust in Illidan faded away and Kael’thas, unknown to most of his people, decided to ally with Kil’jaeden.
There's even more backstory to process including the Draenei crashing their spaceship into Azeroth and the formation of Blood Elf Paladins, which saw the creation of two new races for players in Burning Crusade, as well as the new
Blood Elf Paladin
And if you're wondering what all this backstory has to do with us jumping into Outland--Kil'jaeden, after seeing Illidan's stronghold in Outland, decided he needed more help to secure his defeat. Doomlord Kazzak was guided through a great ritual to reopen the Dark Portal, while the Legion's forces also attacked capital cities. We stepped through the Dark Portal to continue the fight, unknowingly serving as Kil'jaeden's pawns.
is intended to be the first questing zone players hit after passing through The Dark Portal. It is a scorched zone, the site of many former battles and the massacre of the Draenei. Players are introduced early on to the threat of the Burning Legion at The Legion Front, further learning about Magtheridon's creation of the corrupted Fel Orcs and the sacrifices made in past battles on Draenor. Players also begin to learn about Draenic and Orcish culture in quest hubs in the western peninsula.
You will also encounter the friendly
Players will return to the zone for the
Thrallmar and Honor Hold Factions
Tier 4 raid, and dungeons
is intended to be completed after Hellfire Peninsula. It is a surreal swamp, with neon giant mushrooms and hostile naga, where Velen and the Draenei hid after the fall of Shattrath. The Cenarion Circle is investigating why wildlife has been dying, discovering that Lady Vashj is draining Coilfang Reservoir for her nefarious purposes. Players can also gain reputation with Sporeggar, a group of sporelings at war with ogres. Alliance players also further learn about "lost ones"--Draenei heavily corrupted by shadow magic--and begin gaining reputation with the Kurenai.
In addition to facing off against Vashj (and the elevator boss) in the Tier 5 raid
, players will return to the zone for the
factions as well as the dungeons
Blade's Edge Mountains
Blade's Edge is filled with splintered mountain peaks, plunging lush valleys, and dusty canyons. Players learn about the presence of the Burning Legion through a mysterious Fel Mask, as well as how Blade's Edge was the original home of the Ogres. This was also the location where the battle between Khadgar and Deathwing took place over the Skull of Gul'dan, a key item to shut down the Dark Portal, and the aftermath of that battle can be seen while questing with many dragons impaled on the spiky cliffs.
We're also introduced to Rexxar, the legendary half-ogre, half-orc Champion of the Horde, who journeyed to Blade's Edge to reconnect with his Mok'Nathal clan. Rexxar is best-known for his story in Warcraft III, where he played an important role in the founding of Durotar and saving Orgrimmar from Admiral Proudmoore, but he also played a support role in Battle for Azeroth.
You will also find the Tier 4 raid
which is home to
, the gronn overlord who rules over the ogres of
, meaning "City of Light," is a large hub and sanctuary city in Outland. A former naaru temple, it is now inhabited by several factions. The center is run by the Sha'tar, who worship the spiritual being A'dal. You'll also find Khadgar here, and if you're used to his updated appearance in Legion, you may be in for a shock! Khadgar's elemental is also responsible for the infamous escort quest
which imparted a lot of interesting lore to the player, but took forever to complete.
are two factions working with Shattrath against the Burning Legion, but feud with each other. The Aldor are a draenic priesthood working with the Sha'tar, while the Scyrers are a group of formerly-hostile blood elves that recently offered to aid Shattrath. You'll be forced to pick a side, as each faction offers unique rewards.
is its own faction--it is comprised of war-torn refugees of all races. Profession trainers and vendors with unique recipes are located down here, as well as the World's End Tavern with a variety of colorful NPCs.
The northern half of Terokkar Forest is lush and the quests cover the threat of the Arakoaa and magic-addicted elves. The southern half is a wasteland known as the Bone Wastes, created when the Shadow Council accidentally summoned Murmur and blew up Auchindoun, a sacred burial ground for the Draenei. The remaining Draenei could not withstand the attacks of the Orcs empowered by the Blood of Mannoroth, and were chained up while Murmur was contained. Players can explore the aftermath of this battle in four dungeons:
There is also a daily quest hub, Skettis, for players with flying mounts to earn reputation with
, an air wing of the Sha'tar of Shattrath City, defending the capital from attackers in the hills as well as battling against the arakkoa of Terokk.
is a peaceful lush zone in Outland with grassy areas and floating islands in the sky, a taste of what the continent was like before the Burning Legion. It is home to the Kurenai and Mag'har factions. The Horde especially have an interesting time because the final quest chain (
) covers the ancestry of Thrall and introduces us to Garrosh, future Warchief of the Horde. Other side quests involve slaughtering more animals for Hemet Nesingwary, defeating enemies at the Ring of Blood for a powerful weapon, and learning about demon hunters and fel dangers.
Players enjoy returning to Nagrand to earn reputation with the
for mounts like
Netherstorm and Tempest Keep
is the northern-most zone in Outland. It is covered in magical currents, giving it an unnatural sci-fi look--except in the protected Eco-Domes, which are lush green. Goblins and Ethereals have made outposts here, as well as the Burning Legion and Kael'thas' blood elves, with numerous Mana Forges across the region. This region has numerous quests that grant Aldor or Scryer reputation.
Here we see it is undeniable that Kael'thas has become the Legion's pawn, and so we enter The Eye, one of the wings of the former Naaru fortress
and defeat him...for now. Players can also run the dungeons
in Netherstorm and interact with the
This raid instance is most notable for dropping
, one of the most coveted mounts in World of Warcraft. It also drops Tier 5 shoulders and chest tokens. As always in Burning Crusade, there's a long attunement process, which you can check out in our
Black Temple and Shadowmoon Valley
In this final Outland zone, we'll free Maiev and turn the Broken, led by Akama, against Illidan. When the Black Temple raid finally opened, players eagerly faced off against Illidan, hoping for
. Yet as we learned in Legion, we were actually helping the enemy. Demon Hunters, in the
introductory starting zone
, also replay their last mission and capture after Illidan's defeat at the Black Temple, filling in more plot holes.
Another notable part of Shadowmoon Valley, relevant for players even in modern WoW, is the Netherwing faction. Deathwing wanted to hide eggs on Draenor, and due to the infusion of raw nether-energies, a new dragon flight was created. Many players enjoy earning reputation with the
faction to earn mounts such as
You'll also need to complete the notable
Cipher of Damnation quest chain
here as the first step to unlocking Tempest Keep Attunement.
Unfortunately, defeating Illidan was exactly what Kil'jaeden wanted as we removed a huge threat to the Legion's plans. He planned another invasion of Azeroth, re-formed the ruined Sunwell and even brought Kael'thas back from the brink of death to turn the Sunwell into a gateway for Kil'jaeden.
This final content patch for Burning Crusade added the outdoor zone
, a daily quest hub where the
attacked the Sunwell, the dungeon
where Kael'thas is defeated for good, as well as the raid
featuring the legendary
We're eventually successful defeating Kil'jaeden, but the corruptive energy in the Sunwell would spell doom for the Blood Elves once again--until we use the core of the slain Nauru M'uru to purify the Sunwell.
We'll continue to revisit these plot points in later expansions, such as returning to the purified Sunwell in
, fighting Kil'jaeden again in the
Tomb of Sargeras
, and understanding Kael'thas complicated past in the
That about wraps it up for the major plot points in Burning Cruasde--it certainly covers a lot of different story threads and it's interesting to look back at this early expansion with the new knowledge that Blizzard would eventually bring back major characters like Illidan and Kael'thas for recent expansions.
If you want to learn more about a specific character or plot from the Burning Crusade, Nobbel has linked more videos in his video description!
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