Sylvanas Windrunner. Love her or hate her, she’s been an integral character in World of Warcraft‘s lore ever since she broke away from the Lich King’s grasp and forged the Forsaken faction as we know it today.
Though her involvement in the narrative took a backseat in the past two expansions, World of Warcraft: Legion looks to be shaking things up for Sylvanas in a big way. AiPT’s Pat and Russ ruminate on what Legion has in store for the Banshee Queen:
Recent interviews with Blizzard and the “Heroes & Villains” tab of the official Legion website strongly indicate that Sylvanas Windrunner, Banshee Queen of the Forsaken will play a major role in the upcoming expansion. What part do you think Sylvanas will play in World of Warcraft: Legion?
Patrick: It’s no secret that Sylvanas has been experimenting with raising a Val’kyr army of her own to augment or possibly even supplant the current Forsaken dating back to shortly after the Cataclysm. And wouldn’t you know it, the Broken Isles, the new continent in Legion, features a new faction of Val’kyr for Sylvanas to gather intelligence on and possibly even use. It’s likely this is where her involvement with the Broken Isles begins, but who knows where the story goes from there?
It’s definitely no coincidence that Sylvanas’ addition of the Valk’yr into her ranks will somehow coincide with the Stormheim Val’kyr in the Halls of Valor. These are original Val’kyr that existed long before the existence of The Scourge. Will these Val’kyr share the same resurrective properties of the ones already in Sylvanas’ fold or be even more powerful?
Patrick: There isn’t much known about these Val’kyr at this time. Just by virtue of being considered Val’kyr, we know they are Vrykul of the undead variety, and anything that is undead can be raised again. Whether or not they are of sound enough mind to resist Sylvanas’ brand of resurrection is another question altogether, and one we can only know after exploring the Halls of Valor ourselves.
Prediction: Sylvanas does indeed raise an army of Stormheim Val’kyr ready to fight in her name. She begins to feel she is now at a point where the Forsaken are too weak to support her plans, and sets up shop in Stormheim, raising an undead army featuring super-strong Val’kyr that make the Scourge look harmless in comparison.
Interestingly enough, Genn Greymane, leader of the Worgen and ruler of Gilneas (whose city was taken by Sylvanas) is also listed as a major player for Legion on the official site. To what extent will his feud with Sylvanas be renewed?
Patrick: Genn Greymane is still rightfully pissed about Sylvanas murdering his son, Liam, in front of him with a poison arrow as well as her efforts leading the Battle for Gilneas City. We haven’t really heard from Genn much since this and his people being reintegrated into the Alliance following the save from the Night Elves, so it’s hard to know what Greymane’s plans for retribution are.
Prediction: Greymane leads a Worgen army to the Broken Isles to interrupt Sylvanas’ plans in Stormheim. Or, perhaps he has a more sinister idea: since Sylvanas took the life of his own flesh and blood, maybe he’s looking to return the favor with Sylvanas’ only known living relatives, sisters Alleria and Vareesa.
Do you think Sylvanas actually cares for her people, The Forsaken? She’s referred to them as “arrows in her quiver” in the past. We also know thanks primarily to her two resurrections from the brink of eternal damnation by way of Val’kyrs that she’ll do anything to avoid such an afterlife. How much of Sylvanas’ modus operandi is simple self-survival and how much of it is for the proliferation/advantage of the Forsaken?
Patrick: I’d argue that none of it is for the proliferation of the Forsaken. They’ve always been a means to an end for her—’arrows in her quiver’. She feels no allegiance to the Horde; they, too, have always been means to an end. An alliance of convenience. Basically, anything Sylvanas does is to further her own goals, and anyone else on her side is just a pawn.
Kind of puts a damper on all those “Dark Lady watch over you” and “Victory for Sylvanas” NPC Forsaken quotes. And what about Koltira Deathweaver, whose compassion for Tharassian had him snatched up by Sylvanas for “reprogramming” after the Battle of Andorhal? Poor dude’s probably strapped to a table somewhere getting dissected by Val’kyrs.
Patrick: During/after the Battle for Andorhal, Koltira briefly forged a truce with his Alliance Death Knight counterpart Thassarian. When Sylvanas finds out about this, she scolds him for being weak and he’s pulled by a hooked chain through a portal to Undercity where she promises to “purge him of his compassion and make him a true servant of the Forsaken.”
Seems like pretty damn harsh and myopic thinking on Sylvanas’ part. It’s tough to say what she’s doing with Koltira, but when he gets back — you can bet his demeanor will have been changed drastically.
Would Lilian Voss come close to filling Sylvanas’ shoes in a worst case scenario?
Let’s say, worst-case scenario, we have to take down Sylvanas as a raid boss (with Alleria and Valeera helping out) because she’s gone off the deep end.
Who would conceivably take over for the Forsaken? There hasn’t been much lore built for prominent Undead characters aside from Lilian Voss (who died in the Stratholme instance) and Nathanos Blightcaller, former Ranger-General of Quel’thalas and current champion of the Banshee Queen.
And tying in to one of our WoW What Ifs: What are the chances Bolvar Fordragon steps in and takes control of the Forsaken if we’re forced to take down Sylvanas?
Patrick: Probably zero. If Bolvar takes control of the Forsaken, who takes control of the Scourge? There must always be a Lich King, after all. And the Forsaken are different from the Scourge in that they have their free will in tact. They aren’t mindless zombies like the Scourge—they despise the Scourge and live every day in fear of becoming one of them, so there is no way they would live under the same banner as them.
As far as Lilian Voss goes, she actually did not die in Scholomance. She shows up in your garrison during Warlords of Draenor, committed as ever to eradicating the undead (though, weirdly, she doesn’t mention how she ended up surviving back in Scholomance).
Her story is similar to Sylvanas’ in that she is having a hard time coming to grips with being ‘one of them,’ and as such has an intense hatred for all things undead despite being one herself. While the Horde tried to have her join the Forsaken ranks during Mists, their advances were rebuffed as Lillian would not accept her fate. If and when she does, though, she could be a formidable addition to Horde leadership, and is probably the best choice for the next ‘Banshee Queen’.
At Gamescom, Blizzard dropped a big reveal that Alleria Windrunner, Sylvanas’ sister will be likely returning to the narrative from her “whereabouts unknown” status. What sort of reaction would the sisters have towards one another once more?
Sylvanas’ reaction to seeing Alleria’s necklace.
Didn’t she already try a reunion with Vereesa? (Refer to War Crimes novel. Sylvanas and Vereesa secretly plot together to assassinate Garrosh Hellscream by poisoning his food.
Vereesa’s increasing affinity for her soon-to-be home pleased her sister greatly, though Sylvanas had not given her the full story: the Forsaken would never accept a living ruler, so she planned to give Vereesa a painless death and resurrect her as a powerful banshee, like her, so that the two could rule together forever.
Would Sylvanas have learned from her previous encounter with Vereesa that turning Alleria to the side of the undead would sever their bond? Would Alleria side with Sylvanas where Vereesa did not?
Patrick: The fact that Sylvanas was willing to kill her own sister Vereesa and resurrect her as a powerful banshee, in effect making a second Sylvanas, shows that she is putting her own priorities over even her sister’s and I don’t think that will have changed much with Alleria — only that she’ll be more cautious in making sure whatever plan she has this time is pulled off without a hitch.
There have been rumors that there is an ominous evil lurking beneath Tirisfal (most likely an Old God).
“His fleet finally landed on the beaches of the kingdom men would later call Lordaeron. Forging inland, the high elves founded a settlement within the tranquil Tirisfal Glades. After a few years, many of them began to go mad. It was theorized that something evil slept beneath that particular part of the world, but the rumors were never proven to be true. The high elves packed up their encampment and moved northward towards another land rich with ley energies.”
— Except from “The Founding of Quel’Thalas” book
Could you see Sylvanas trying to exploit this or is it just a bone that Blizzard threw into the narrative and forgot about?
Patrick: Despite all her hubris, I don’t think even Sylvanas would believe she could control or otherwise defeat an Old God. The wording in ‘The Founding of Quel’Thalas’ is pretty vague, though, so we’re not even sure it was an Old God or anything at all.
Why is Sylvanas Windrunner your favorite character in WoW lore? What would your ideal narrative for her be in World of Wacraft: Legion?
Patrick: Sylvanas is an interesting and tragic character. High Elves are my favorite race in WoW, and the Windrunners are an iconic family amongst them. Her death and subsequent resurrection by the Lich King would have ended most people’s stories right there, but Sylvanas’ will was so strong she could not be controlled like any number of other Scourge. She took what would have ended most heroes—undeath—and turned it into an advantage. Her unwavering thirst for revenge is what fuels her, and she has taken a group of misfits who no one else wanted anything to do with and turned them into an integral part of one of the two major political parties on the planet.
Plus, gothic zombie elf ranger? It doesn’t get much cooler than that.