Role Play: Worgen lore and character development
What kind of person do you become when you’ve lost everything — possibly even your humanity? The Worgen of World of Warcraft are living examples of the answer to that question, forced to desert their home and flee their country in the wake of catastrophic devastation. Not only that, but cursed to become feral, monstrous beasts on top of all of it. Life — and Azeroth — haven’t been kind to Gilneas, or its citizens.
Considering all of that, what goes on the mind of a Worgen? Obviously there’s the internal conflict between beast and man, but beyond that, what do Worgen deal with in their day-to-day? Once again, we’re going to take a deep dive into the mind of a Worgen character — not so much Worgen history as a whole, but what’s really going on inside their heads.
The Worgen curse
Needless to say, forefront on the mind of any Worgen character is likely going to be the fact that they’re Worgen — it’s a curse, incurable so far as anyone knows. The best any Worgen can hope to do is master the transformation, by obtaining some kind of balance between man and beast. They’ll always be a Worgen — a monster, in the eyes of some of their fellow Humans — but at least they can manage it to the best of their ability.
With that, comes a choice for Worgen characters. They can embrace this new version of themselves, holding as much pride in their new forms as they held for Gilneas itself, or they can try to keep it hidden away. Gilneans didn’t ask for this curse, it’s simply something that happened — and the struggle with accepting what they’ve become is probably one of the heaviest things to weigh on a Worgen’s mind.
It’s not common knowledge, but a Worgen doing their due research into their condition might discover that it was the actions of King Greymane that brought the curse upon Gilneas. It’s not something Greymane has made common knowledge — he told his son Liam, but while he revealed his Worgen form to his kingdom, he didn’t freely admit his part in unleashing the curse on Gilneas itself.
Gilneans are typically a proud people, confident and sometimes unbearably arrogant about their ability to survive on their own. It’s part of the reason the Greymane Wall was built in the first place — after the Second War, King Greymane came to the conclusion that the rest of the world needed Gilneas a lot more than Gilneas actually needed the rest of the world. So he decided to seal his kingdom away, and let the rest of the world fend for itself.
After all, Gilneas and her people were more than capable of surviving on their own. Self-reliant, self-sufficient, and quite simply better than everyone else.
That stubborn resolve is almost an ingrained part of every Gilnean — now Worgen. But that stubborness works both ways — while some thoroughly agreed with Greymane’s decisions, others thought the king mad. After all, the Greymane Wall essentially cut off all trade routes and all contact with the outside world — and some of Gilneas’ citizens resented the forced isolation. When the Third War began, and Greymane denied Lordaeron any aid, this resentment led to all-out rebellion and civil war.
Rebel or supporter
Worgen characters usually fall on one side of the fence or the other — they supported Greymane and his ideals, or they, like Crowley, thought the king’s so-called ideals were a load of bunk. Although the rebels fought to the bitter end, the rebellion was eventually quashed … and that’s when the Worgen curse started to spread throughout the people, and then the Cataclysm occurred, the Wall came crashing down, and the Forsaken ravaged the city.
Regardless of a Worgen character’s feelings towards Greymane and the actions of his supporters, the Worgen all have one thing in common — a deep love for their home. Being Gilnean — no matter who you were — was something to be proud of, it was part of your identity. Worgen characters essentially watched their beloved home fall apart around them, and had to come to terms with the fact that no matter how strong Gilneas was, or purported itself to be, it simply wasn’t strong enough. Not this time.
Needless to say, there’s not a Worgen out there that doesn’t have a deep-seated loathing for the Forsaken, and to a lesser degree the Horde as a whole. They were directly responsible for the vicious destruction of your home. As far as the Worgen are concerned, the Forsaken are just as much a blight on the world as the Scourge were — and maybe even more than that, because the Forsaken are well aware of their actions. They aren’t mindless servants of the Lich King, they are monsters acting of their own volition.
A changed world
So here’s this person from Gilneas — part of a proud kingdom with a rich history, a kingdom that they love. They either fight for it, and for their king, or fight for it, and the need to liberate it from its king. And after years of isolation from the rest of the world, they’re suddenly reintroduced … and that world has changed. It’s changed a lot. The Alliance they knew — a unification of the seven Human kingdoms and a few allies — is gone. The seven kingdoms themselves are gone — all that remains is Stormwind, the one kingdom Gilneas refused to help.
As for that Alliance, it includes the dwarves and gnomes you may have been familiar with, but there are strangers, too. Alien beings — Draenei — from another world, a world you never knew existed. Night Elves, who showed your people kindness when you were all at death’s door, and offered you sanctuary and a cure for the curse that courses through your veins. Because make no mistake, you are cursed — and the beast within you will never go away.
With no home to speak of, no country, and any farmlands or holdings you might have once owned now blighted by plague and overrun by Forsaken, there’s no doubt that a Worgen character would be angry. Very angry. So angry, in fact, that they likely have to struggle with retaining control over that curse. You can’t go home. Home doesn’t exist anymore. You can’t be cured. The most you can hope for is to contain it.
The Worgen mind
And in the midst of trying to keep control, you’re also trying to come to terms with the fact that your world — the one you were born, raised, and grew up in, the one you thought was so all-encompassing at one point in time — was small. So, so small. What little you may remember — if you were even around at that point — of the rest of the world post-Second War no longer applies. There’s other continents out there. It’s not just Gilneas anymore. It’s not even just the Eastern Kingdoms anymore. It’s not even just Azeroth, anymore.
So while you might think that a Worgen character is automatically going to be angry, or bitter, or resigned — and they may in fact be all of these things — there’s another dimension to all of that: Humbled. Filled with wonder. Awestruck. After all, there’s an entire world out there they’re unfamiliar with, races of intelligent beings they’ve never seen before, and worlds beyond Azeroth to explore. And in some cases, that’s more than enough to deflate whatever anger they might be feeling.
Worgen may look like monsters, but appearances can be deceiving — and beneath the fur and fangs granted by a curse they never asked for, Worgen are undeniably Human, filled with the same joy, laughter, longing, sadness, anger, and regret as any other. As a former Gilnean, they may still be proud — as a citizen of Azeroth, they may be dumbstruck and lifted by the knowledge that while their kingdom may be lost, there’s certainly plenty left in the world worth fighting for.
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