Role Play: Draenei lore and character development
Of all the playable races on Azeroth, the Draenei are by far the most ancient. When roleplaying a Draenei, you may run into the same issues as playing a Night Elf, or any other long-lived race. Namely, just how do you roleplay someone so impossibly old? Think about it — we’re in the year 2016. A Draenei born 2,016 years ago is a baby compared to Velen, who’s clocked over 20,000 years under his belt.
With that in mind, what are the Draenei really like? What do they think about, when they live so long? Are the relationships they build on Azeroth real? How do they view races like the Humans, who live for what must seem like mere seconds to someone so long-lived? Let’s take a look at Draenei lore and what goes on in the mind of Draenei.
A tumultuous past
Life has not been kind to the Draenei of Azeroth. Forced to flee from their homeworld of Argus to escape the influence of the Burning Legion, they’ve never really stopped running. For a time, Draenor served as their home — until the Legion influenced the Orcs and essentially arranged their slaughter.
To be clear: the Draenei were a small subset of the Eredar who didn’t want to pledge their loyalty to Sargeras. On Draenor, nearly eighty percent of that small subset was completely obliterated in what was essentially a massacre. Wiped out. No more.
If your Draenei was on Draenor — and let’s face it, their arrival on Azeroth was five years ago, so unless you’re playing a child, you were on Draenor — they lived through this. They knew someone who died. They probably knew several someones who died. They may even have witnessed their deaths.
That… changes a person. When the Draenei arrived on Azeroth, they were strangers just trying to establish some kind of home. Some place they could recover from those staggering losses.
Joining the Alliance
And when the Draenei first encountered the Alliance, the reaction they received was anything but open and trusting. Why would it be? The Draenei look eerily similar to the demons that have wreaked havoc on the world. That first impression was incorrect, and the Draenei eventually joined the Alliance, but it may have left a bad taste in some mouths.
However, life with the Alliance isn’t a bad thing. Your character gets to learn about all the fascinating natives of Azeroth, creatures they’ve never seen before. And they also get confronted with the fact that even on Azeroth, Orcs exist. That’s right — there’s no running away from the Orcs, apparently.
Depending on your character’s situation when they fled Draenor, their reaction to the Horde may vary. There might be immediate, open hostility there. There might be curiosity — because these Orcs aren’t quite like the ones that killed your people. Although considering Garrosh Hellscream’s actions as Warchief, that viewpoint is probably a little less likely.
As for the other races — they’re short lived. Impossibly short lived in comparison to you. On the one hand, it might make your character question whether or not it’s even worth forming friendships. After all, they’ll be gone in the blink of an eye. On the other, it might be fascinating to see just how passionately these short-lived races live their lives. After all, they’ve only got so many years to do all the things they want to accomplish.
And in the end, the Alliance was kind to the Draenei. They offered them shelter, they offered them assistance, and they offered them their support. Kindness is one of those things that goes a long way with any race — it’s going to go even longer for a Draenei.
But that may be one of those thoughts that lingers at the back of your character’s mind in every conversation they have with a Human or Worgen, or even while idly talking to a Night Elf — far longer lived, yes, but still not as lengthy as you. It’s something that might make them sad, or it’s something that might make them pursue those friendships as quickly as they can.
But nothing, nothing can quite compare to the shock your character likely felt at returning to Draenor, and finding it whole. No longer corrupt, no longer shattered. Instead, it’s teeming with life — including a healthy, thriving population of Draenei. This may be an alternate universe, if you will, but to Draenei characters, it’s almost like returning home.
That makes things like the attack on Karabor, Shattrath, and even the destruction of Talador hit even harder. Because your character already lived through all this heartache once, and now they’re seemingly destined to live through it again. Your character witnessed horrifying brutality, and now it’s like it’s been undone, and they get a second chance.
Except it’s not a second chance. And the longer they stay on Draenor, the more they’re likely going to realize that despite all appearances — this isn’t home. It never was. It’s someplace similar, but not the same. And they don’t belong there. Maybe your character will decide to establish a home there anyway. Or maybe they’ll let that little universe exist all on its own, and keep the memories of those they encountered alive in their hearts for eternity.
If you’re playing a Draenei native to this alternate Draenor, you’ve got almost a mirror image of the situation. Here you are, on the brink of what appears to be total, brutal warfare with the Orcish race… and suddenly, strangers appear. They want to help. And there are Draenei among their numbers, but you don’t know any of them.
They might look a little familiar, but there’s something off about them. They look… tired. Weary and sad. Or angry, or strangely overwhelmed by the sight of whatever simple village you were raised in. They speak your language, they’re friendly and welcoming, but there’s a distance there.
And there’s something in their eyes, too. Something that says they’ve suffered far more than they should. It’s sorrow, or anger, or simple stern resolve, you can’t tell. But it either makes you want to know them better, or makes you wonder what happened to them, and hope you never learn the truth.
These kinds of things may weigh heavily on the mind of your Draenei. Or they might be trying to put it behind them, to forget what they’ve lived through and seen. Regardless, the lives of the Draenei have not been particularly easy in recent years. It’s up to you to decide how this shapes your character — whether it makes them fearful, wary of trusting anyone, or whether it makes them stronger and more determined to see the universe rid of the corruption that constantly beckons.
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