Role Play: Troll lore and character development
For the Trolls of Azeroth, life has been a little different post-Cataclysm. Rather than being a tacked-on addition to the Horde, the Trolls have been in the spotlight after the Siege of Orgrimmar. Vol’jin, Chieftain of the Darkspear, is now Warchief of the entire Horde. Given what the Trolls went through during Garrosh Hellscream’s reign, that’s a welcome change.
Of all the Horde races, the Trolls faced a giant chunk of Garrosh’s derision and wrath in Cataclysm and Mists. Sure, Garrosh didn’t care for the Forsaken, but they weren’t right next door to Orgrimmar. Troll lore hasn’t gotten a lot of active attention since Mists, but there’s still plenty for Troll characters to think about. Please note: This post contains some pretty heavy spoilers for upcoming pre-Legion content.
On the one hand, Vol’jin is Warchief. The rebellion was a success, and while the Trolls aren’t necessarily “in charge,” they’re more respected. On the other…we haven’t really seen what Vol’jin has been doing as Warchief. After Mists, we were sent to Draenor — and while we get a glimpse of him here and there, Vol’jin hasn’t been what I’d call overly active.
But maybe that’s a good thing. Given Garrosh’s behavior in Cataclysm and Mists, maybe the Horde needed a break. Maybe Vol’jin needed to clean up the mess that Garrosh left behind. After all, that Siege in Orgrimmar left a lasting impression on the Horde leaders. They know what happens when power gets out of hand, now.
To a Troll character, Vol’jin’s new role as Warchief could be seen as a good thing, or a bad thing. It’s good because the Trolls have risen up from the bottom of the heap. Their rebellion was a success, and Vol’jin has managed to keep the Horde together. On the other, there haven’t really been any major moves made, which leaves the Trolls — and the Horde — in a temporary stasis of sorts.
And it’s going to be very difficult for Troll characters to forget just how they were treated in Cataclysm and Mists. Troll corpses littered the streets of Orgrimmar. Trolls were viewed with outright suspicion. They were told they had little to contribute to the Horde, despite being the first race to join after Thrall formed the faction. Other races had to be convinced to join that rebellion — it wasn’t an immediate banding together.
For Trolls, the harsh words and harsher actions before and during the rebellion aren’t apt to quickly fade away. Has your Troll character forgiven the Orcs for their actions under Garrosh’s reign? Do they still trust the Orcs, or do they view them with suspicion? If the Siege did nothing else, it exposed just what the Orcs were capable of under a different Warchief. It showed that they were perfectly willing to turn on their allies in the name of conquest.
Even though Vol’jin leads the Horde, it doesn’t erase everything that happened during the Siege. It doesn’t bring back those who died. The Darkspear were never a gigantic population to being with, and they lost a lot of people in the Siege. And although the other Horde races eventually stood with them, the question of who to trust, and how much to trust them, may still weigh heavily on the minds of Troll characters.
Troll lore after Mists
All that being said…there hasn’t really been a lot of Troll lore presented since the end of Mists. The Horde and Alliance were successful on the Isle of Thunder, and we haven’t heard a peep from the Zandalari since their defeat. But somewhere out there, Zul is still at large. We didn’t catch him, because he wasn’t actually on the Isle of Thunder. And we don’t really know the true scope of his plans.
Darkspear have it almost doubly tough, because they aren’t just trying to fit in and find their place within the Horde. They’re also working as outcasts from the majority of Troll society. The Darkspear were driven out of Stranglethorn Vale, and it was made clear that they weren’t welcome among the Gurubashi tribes. Since then, it’s been the Darkspear against their own kind.
And while the rest of Troll society has floundered, the Darkspear have continued to thrive. But it hasn’t been easy — and the actions and motives of the Zandalari are still a mystery. Is your Troll worried about the future of their race? What did they think of the Zandalari? Do they wonder what happened to Zul, or have they simply moved on and forgotten about it all?
This is where we get into heavy spoiler material. We don’t know how and we don’t know if it’s “real” or not just yet, but Vol’jin is gone in Legion. The implication is that he died — but the circumstances of that situation won’t be fully revealed until we see the Broken Isles scenario and actually get a look at what happens in its final moments. Players that have been on the beta know about this already, but they still don’t know the details — the final cinematic of the event hasn’t been seen by anyone.
What we do know is that in Vol’jin’s absence, Sylvanas has stepped up to fill the void and stand as Warchief. Your character’s going to have some kind of reaction to this beyond just mourning for their lost leader. Either they’re all right with the idea of Sylvanas as a leader or they aren’t. What we see in the Broken Isles should help you figure that part out.
Because let’s face it — the Trolls have already felt the brunt of one overbearingly powerful leader. They’ve been on the short end of the stick time and time again. Sylvanas could be a really good leader with the best intentions of the Horde at heart. Or she could be doing what she’s been doing all along: looking out for the Forsaken and their interests, and hang the rest.
For Trolls, that prospect is downright demoralizing. Sylvanas wouldn’t even be in a place where she could step in as leader without the Darkspear and their successful rebellion. Her plans for the Horde are as vague as Vol’jin’s nebulous idea of the Horde as “family,” and likely far more sinister in intent.
For Troll characters, this may feel like a repeat of a very familiar arc. A leader is lost, and the Trolls have to start from the bottom all over again as a result. The new leader may seem like a good leader at first, but they don’t have the best track record. In fact, they’re well known for violent outbursts and aggressive leadership.
And this time, the Trolls don’t have Vol’jin to lead the way out of the darkness. This time, they’ll have to seek out their own destinies without Sen’jin’s son guiding the way. Will your Troll be consumed by grief and a thirst for vengeance? Or will they take this loss, mourn it, and stand taller still in the face of the Legion’s overwhelming fury?
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