Bolvar Fordragon: The most selfless man in World of Warcraft history.
So what happens when you give Bolvar control over an unstoppable undead army? Would he use all those extra hands to get that park in Stormwind finally fixed up?
Seriously though — we don’t really know; and that’s exactly what makes things so interesting. Welcome to the second edition of AiPT!’s “WoW What If?”:
What if Bolvar Fordragon takes action as the Lich King?
The setting: The Frozen Throne, Icecrown Citadel. Bolvar Fordragon, the new Lich King has been dormant for some time… until now.
He sat on the Frozen Throne, cocooned in that pale block of blue ice with his hands upheld.
“We must feed.”
He seemed an artifact on display, some malign parody of a fly trapped in amber. “Give us strength, so we might serve you.”
All his life, all he had ever known was sacrifice. Duty. Honor. Once, he had seen this labor no differently: Jailer of the Damned, another responsibility for Bolvar Fordragon to shoulder. But there was something else now. Not just obligation, but remuneration. His charred-looking flesh quivered as he shifted beneath the icy prison. Muted flashes of orange-red gleamed fanwise across the chrysalis walls.
“Dear friend, the world of the living offers you no comfort… but your suffering is over. We have come to a new world. A world where you are no martyr — but king.”
Pins of heat cracked the surface of the ice, a sound not quite like breaking glass as the split surged, left the prison a shard-pile at the foot of the Frozen Throne. Bolvar Fordragon, the Lich King, emerged steaming, eyes hollow slits in the Helm of Dominion save the deep orange flames that spit and flared and pulsed like embers from a furnace.
“The night is quiet. The great shadow passes over the living. The undead are the light. Misshapen, dark or grotesquerie — we press on.”
Before we begin, a refresher course on why Bolvar is that dude when it comes to altruism:
1. Held it down as Regent of Stormwind (interim king) when Varian got kidnapped by Defias.
2. Raised Anduin during the time and kept the kingdom thriving despite the fact that he was a fill-in.
3. “Died” in the line of duty when Grand Apothecary Putress and Varimathras betrayed the Horde and poisoned everyone with the New Plague at the Battle of the Wrathgate. Then, he was somehow kept in some ephemeral, quasi-state of living by the flames of the Red Dragonflight — a charred husk of a human being.
4. Instead of being granted a merciful death, was captured by the Lich King Arthas, chained cruciform to a corner of Icecrown Citadel and tortured with the intent to turn him into a Scourge commander. Despite all his shit luck up until this point, he never once gave in.
5. Then he made the ultimate sacrifice in accepting the Helm of Domination so that Tirion Fordring didn’t have to. He became the Lich King, where he’s in a perpetual battle of wills against Ner’zhul. (And possibly Arthas too. Or possibly neither of them.) As he put it himself, he became the Jailer of the Damned. “Tell them only that the Lich King is dead… and that Bolvar Fordragon died with him. Now, go. Leave this place and never return.”
Edgar: It seems that Highlord Bolvar, one of the Alliance’s greatest heroes, failed to learn the lesson of Tal Rasha, a hero from a different Blizzard game: Diablo II. The parallel here is that Tal Rasha was a legend; indeed, he was the founder of the mythic Horadrim, an order created with the sole purpose of combating the presence of demonic entities on the mortal plane. When the prime evils were bound in the soulstones, Tal Rasha suggested that he be chained inside a tomb, hidden in a vast desert, and that the soulstone of Baal, Lord of Destruction himself, be thrust into his chest. He, like Bolvar here, would wrestle with a vastly more powerful evil force for all time. Only, we know what happened to Tal Rasha.
Hero though he may have been, it seems to me like Bolvar made a short-sighted choice to struggle alone against the will of the Lich King; a will that when exercised in full left the Plaguelands where the greatest kingdom in Azeroth had once been. Was it a noble sacrifice, or is it possible that there was something more sinister afoot in his decision? When you can’t be dissuaded by Tirion Fordring, a character universally respected by Horde and Alliance alike, and in fact, admonish him for suggesting that your sacrifice would be remembered, it begs the question if Bolvar’s tortures may have affected his better judgment.
I wonder “What if?” Bolvar actually was broken by his tortures. I wonder if this hero, who endured much suffering at the hands of the Lich King, saw a chance to embrace significant power — a power that would make it difficult for him to become a simple play-thing to the next villain who comes around. I wonder if his decision was guided not by a sense of noble self-sacrifice, but by a burning need for vengeance. I wonder if Bolvar could be the vessel for an evil that still has its own designs for Azeroth.
Was Bolvar actually broken by his torture and we just haven’t seen the effects yet?
Perhaps if only there had been a Pandaren around to help Bolvar see reason, letting everyone have a say in what to do with the Helm of Domination, rather than quickly (and quite angrily, I might add) taking it all upon himself, then it would be less likely that we will eventually see an expansion titled: Return of the Lich King.
Bolvar’s role as Lich King is interesting in that his character is sort of the antithesis of Arthas; he’s not nearly as arrogant or ego-driven. How would his motives be different from Arthas? Would he be an even more effective Lich King in the sense of using the Scourge to accomplish objectives?
Edgar: One thing can be clear about the motives of Bolvar – he believes he is acting in the best interests of the entire realm. That motivation could lead him to use the Scourge as a force for good, safeguarding the world from yet another attempt to gain a foothold by the Legion. However, he also could use that same motivation to, in an I, Robot-sense, save the realm from our pernicious and incessant warring.
Remember that Arthas was chosen to become Lich King for his passion, position and potential. At the time of his fall, he still had much to learn from his mentor, Uther the Lightbringer, whom Arthas would later slay in the events of WarCraft III. The Highlord, however, is a seasoned master of military strategy, with an intimate knowledge of the remaining human stronghold on Azeroth. We could be looking at a “Batman-with-superpowers-gone-rogue” situation…
According to the Arthas: Rise of the Lich King novel, Ner’zhul is no longer in control of the Helm of Dominion. At least, he wasn’t while Arthas was there. How much control over the Lich King entity do you think Bolvar has?
Edgar: Full and unfettered control. With Ner’zhul slain by Arthas, and he, in turn, slain by the PCs of WoW, the Lich King is a meat wagon full of angry undead just looking for a driver.
How much did Frostmourne, the legendary runeblade, attribute to Arthas’ power as Lich King?
What exactly were Frostmourne’s powers? Does Bolvar’s lack of Frostmourne make him less formidable? Who has been placed in charge of the fragmented Frostmourne shards?
Edgar: Without the soul-sucking Frostmourne feeding Bolvar with that power, it is possible that this iteration of the Lich King could be weaker by comparison. That being said, there’s an easy way for him to compensate for any perceived weakness – by simply making more undead. All those legions of ghouls, skeletons and crypt fiends feed the Lich King with power, as well. If Bolvar ever decided it wasn’t enough, and to make a play for the shards of Frostmourne, I think he’d find them difficult to reclaim under the ever-vigilant eye of Tirion Fordring and the Argent Crusade, to whom they were undoubtedly entrusted.
There are tinfoil theories that Arthas could have pretty easily taken over Azeroth with his Scourge army if he had truly wanted to — but his last shred of humanity was holding him back. But holding him back for what? Why would he want to test Azeroth’s greatest heroes to turn them to his side?
Edgar: I’m not sure I buy the idea that Arthas Menethil, the soulless entity in full command of the Lich King, couldn’t help but listen to the pleading whispers of his own personal Jiminy Cricket. We know that he held back because he needed commanders for the Scourge (in the form of Death Knights), and it took time to muster enough of them to fulfil his wrath. We also know that Arthas fully intended to raise the very heroes responsible for his death as champions of the Scourge. This is the greatest strength of the undead – each casualty lost in fighting them doesn’t just weaken your force, but strengthens theirs, and it’s no more evident in the fact that the last two Lich Kings are former heroes of the Alliance.
Possible scenarios: In the quest Shadowy Secrets, Darion Mograine is looking for a way to possibly cure Bolvar, so that shows that the writers haven’t forgotten him and are dropping little foreshadowing nuggets already.
One possible scenario is that Bolvar is eventually driven mad like Arthas, but that might be too much of a rehash of what we’ve already seen. Another is that Bolvar becomes the greatest ally against the looming threat of the Burning Legion and the Old Gods. (Saves the Horde and Alliance from an overwhelming assault from either.) How would you like to see Bolvar/The Lich King’s return unfold?
Edgar: Sylvanas is pushed into a corner by the Alliance fully liberating Gilneas, and pushing ever northward into Silverpine and Tirisfal.
In a desperate gambit, she reveals to the world the secret that the Lich King lives, and in the form of fallen hero Bolvar. She plans to destroy the hibernating Lich King, freeing the wills of legions of undead, and bringing them into her fold as Forsaken. As the balance of power tips away from Horde and Alliance and toward Sylvanas, both factions prepare to stop both her and whatever zealots she musters to her side. Bolvar eventually wakens in time to see a hard fought victory over Sylvanas. With the Banshee Queen vanquished, the world plots and schemes in the face of this new vacuum of power. Bolvar Fordragon, Lich King, does the only thing he can to restore balance: assumes leadership of the Forsaken.
Awesome. Then, just so we don’t build our excitement up too much: Worst-case scenario — Bolvar becomes a quest giver that gives 13 dailies for Fordragon’s Flunkies’ reputation. You might even get a cool Lil’ Bolvar pet as a reward after 3 months of handing in Scourge Scraps! Get crackin’ everyone.
Check out the last edition of AiPT’s World of Warcraft What If: What if Vol’jin Had Killed Garrosh?
What do you think Bolvar will do if he takes action as the Lich King? Sound off in the comments.