Know Your Lore: Arakkoa as an Allied Race
What’s the difference between an Allied Race and simply a new race option? At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a fairly substantial one. The six new races that have been announced are cosmetic variations on standard playable races: Elves (both Blood and Night varieties), Tauren, Draenei, Trolls, and Dwarves. The major difference here is in the story — these races don’t have the same backstory as their already playable counterparts.
And just because the first six are cosmetic variations doesn’t mean that others added later will automatically follow that pattern. Allies are allies, after all. Last week, we dug a little bit into the idea of Ogres as an Allied Race. They’ve long been viewed as the likeliest of future playable options. But there’s another potential Allied Race that’s been just as intriguing, with a history just as convoluted — the Arakkoa.
Ancient Arakkoa origins
The Arakkoa have a long and storied history that goes all the way back to the days of primal Draenor. Three primal gods inhabited the Arak region — Rukhmar, Anzu, and Sethe. When Sethe and Rukhmar came to blows, it was Anzu who dealt the final blow to Sethe. With his dying breath, Sethe cursed his own flesh and blood — and when Anzu attempted to contain the curse, he was afflicted by it. Flightless and beset by dark visions, Anzu would take to the sky no more. Ashamed of his fate, he hid away from Rukhmar, certain she would be disgusted by what he’d become.
But Rukhmar went on to leave Arak, and created a new race of children in Anzu’s honor — the Arakkoa, “heirs of Arak.” She taught them how to command the Light, and they were apt and clever enough pupils. So clever, in fact, that they moved on to study the arcane as well. In due time, Rukhmar ushered the Arakkoa back to Arak, passing on once her children crossed the border. Left to their own devices, the Arakkoa built a civilization that outshone any other on Draenor. The Apexis were a dominant force on Draenor, led by two factions — the Anhar and the Skalax.
Eventually, the two factions came into conflict as they vied for support from the rest of the Arakkoa. The Anhar thought of themselves as the one true voice of Rukhmar, and tried to gather all Apexis crystals, the source of Arakkoan knowledge, in an effort to seize power. The Skalaxi realized what was going on and tried to reclaim the Apexis crystals by force. And the result of that conflict was an explosion that shattered the great spire of Arak into many smaller spires, the surrounding land nothing more than barren wasteland.
The great Apexis civilization crumbled into dust, leaving only remnants of the Skalaxi and Anhar behind. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later that Terokk rose to lead the Arakkoa. After defeating the saberon Pridelord Karash, the Arakkoa hailed Terokk as a hero, a living legend — and the reincarnation of Rukhmar. This didn’t sit well with the Anhari, who had by now convinced the rest of the Arakkoa that they were the only ones allowed to speak in Rukhmar’s name. When Terokk began passing new laws that restricted the Anhar’s authority, they struck back. In the dead of night, they cast Terokk from the heights of Skyreach to Sethekk Hollow.
There, Terokk was afflicted by the same curse that had afflicted Anzu, his body twisted, wings shriveled, and his sanity slowly seeping away. Anzu saw Terokk and took pity on him, giving him command over both sorcery and shadow magic. But Terokk was not alone — other Arakkoa Outcasts survived as well. Together, they gathered and built the city of Skettis. And at the height of Skyreach, the Anhar declared that the Arakkoa would no longer be ruled by one king, but by the former Anhari — now the Adherents of Rukhmar.
The two factions still fought, but it was the rise of the Horde that dealt the deathblow to the Arakkoa. Seeking a way to deal with the Adherents of Rukhmar and their powerful weapons, Kargath Bladefist approached the Outcasts. He struck a deal, offering to help slaughter the high Arakkoa in exchange for the disabling of their weapons. Once the Outcasts held up their end of the bargain, Kargath held up his — then promptly turned on the Outcasts as well. It was a massacre — the Arakkoa were either killed outright, or flung into Sethekk Hollow to be cursed and transformed.
Two fates awaited the Arakkoa. In one reality — our own — the destruction of Draenor after the Second War wiped the Spires of Arak from the map. The shattered realm of Outland is now home to a small population of cursed Arakkoa. Some call themselves servants of Terokk — the cursed king who had long since descended into darkness and madness. Others saw the evils of Skettis and fled, seeking refuge in Shattrath City and embracing the Light.
And in another reality, on another Draenor, Kargath’s betrayal never happened. Champions from another world arrived to assist the Arakkoa Outcasts, bringing about the return of Anzu, and defeating the Adherents of Rukhmar. High Arakkoa cast aside old differences, reuniting with their cursed brethren and forming the Order of the Awakened. Although some foolishly turned from the Order to ally with the Burning Legion, they were also swiftly vanquished.
Needless to say, the Arakkoa have a complicated, tumultuous history. But whether dealing with our own reality or the alternate version of Draenor, the story ends much the same. Some Arakkoa are not-so-good, and others seek our aid. It’s the latter that make for a good Allied Race.
Arakkoa as an Allied Race
As the lore stands, there’s no immediate factional loyalty the Arakkoa currently display. On Outland, the Arakkoa that have embraced the Light may be more likely to lean towards the Alliance, simply because that’s where the Draenei — and the Naaru — have gone. But Burning Crusade was an expansion where both sides came together and fought as one, which might lead the Arakkoa of Outland to assume a more neutral stance. After all, representatives from both factions helped them out.
The story is much the same on Draenor, where champions of both Alliance and Horde helped the Arakkoa Outcasts. With that in mind, one would assume that the Arakkoa would happily help whichever faction asked. Although one lingering factor in that assessment might be the association of Thrall’s new Horde with the Horde of old. Given what the old Horde did to the Arakkoa, they might not be so trusting of Orcs or their allies.
Either way, the Arakkoa would make tremendous allies. As descendants of primal gods, they have an exceptional grasp of magic, both Light and arcane. The Apexis civilization was dominant for a reason — the Arakkoa developed sun-harnessing technology the likes of which Draenor had never seen. The Arakkoa were responsible for teaching Ogres the ways of magic. What arcane secrets could they teach our spellcasters on Azeroth?
Maybe not as likely as we’d hope
But with all that said…there’s one major hurdle to the Arakkoa as an Allied Race. Of any race, the Arakkoa have seen the folly of factional loyalties. It tore their civilization apart, several times over. After all, it was the fighting between Anhar and Skalaxi that eventually led to the downfall of the Apexis. Would the Arakkoa willingly throw themselves into a faction war they have no vested interest in?
It’s possible, of course — anything is possible. But it would take some clever writing to justify that kind of alliance with either faction. Still, the idea of a playable avian race remains an intriguing one. We’ll have to see if Blizzard can find a way to let us play the Arakkoa — or if they’ll remain distant allies, removed from factional conflict.
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