I like the story behind Wrathion, or should I say the story behind the story. The words unsaid are sometimes so much more powerful in the fantasy genre than those that are said, even more so in the medium of gaming. Telling us everything, while it might seem nice, is really something only a bad writer does.
As an aspiring writer (published but nothing that would even show as a blip on anyones radar) who has been working on fantasy the last few years I have my own character that I can say is a Wrathion type of character. Perhaps that is why I like him, I see something in him that is very familiar. My character however stays in the background and to most people he would just seem like a vehicle to move the story along, nothing more. He comes in, says a few lines, sends people off in a direction and then goes back to his, seemingly, inconsequential life.
To the eagle eyed fantasy reader they will notice that he often appears in scenes in the background. I make enough of an effort to mention someone is there but never mention it is him directly even if I might leave some clues for someone to deduce that. He remains a background player only with the intention to use him much further down the road. Blizzards writers are doing the exact same thing with Wrathion but with an admittedly much heavier hand. They are not exactly hiding the fact that he is an important character and will play a much bigger role later on. For some, the ones that like that mystery, this really takes away a lot from the character because he is basically shoved in your face and screams at you "I am really important, look at me".
Each time I go and talk to him I wonder why we just do not kill him. He is just a whelp and while he is an extremely powerful whelp he is still only a two year old whelp. Dragons mature much faster than us humanoids but you can tell some things even dragons share in common with humanoids and that is the fact that he throws a temper tantrum when things do not go the way he wants. I must say I really enjoyed that part and give credit where credit is due and it is due there. It was a nice touch for the writers to make sure to add something in there to remind the player that we are talking to a child. A child more intelligent than any of us, but a child none the less.
The biggest part of the Wrathion storyline that I enjoy however is the part that remains unwritten. The part you never hear mentioned. The part I made up in my own mind, and maybe you did as well. And that is the beauty of fantasy and even more so the beauty of a good hook in fantasy.
Lets change topics for just a moment before I head back to Wrathion. Lets talk about one of my favorite villains in the game, Gul'dan. I've been writing about him on and off for years now. Even if his name is on the tongues of many now because he has been brought to the forefront of the story line I have been pushing for more on him since wrath before cataclysm was announced. I was hoping that cataclysm would have been something to do with Gul'dan. Sure there was that pesky little problem with him being dead and all but that has never stopped any fantasy writer from using a character or finding some way to bring him back. The beauty of fantasy is that you know there is always a suspension of belief that people are willing to hold back and because of such you can get away with a lot of stuff you could not like with a crime drama or something else of that sort.
What it was about Gul'dan that I liked the most was that he was a pure villain. He did things for himself because he wanted to. He wanted power, more power than he could handle, more power than he could imagine. But he did not want it for any other reason than for wanting power. He would make a deal with the devil if need be to get it. He would kill anyone that got in his way to get it. He would parade around and bask in the glow of his own power for no other reason than to be in awe of himself. He has no ulterior motives for wanting it, he just wanted it because it was there and he could have it and that is what makes him a great villain in my eyes. Pure evil for no reason other than the desire to be powerful.
Now back to Wrathion and that background story I was talking about that was never written. We all know Wrathion is going to be a big part of the story later, most likely the boss of his own expansion. As I mentioned blizzard is really heavy handed with this character so that is not something that will ever come as a surprise to anyone.
They are not looking to play the long game of development and then twist it. They almost come right out and tell us he is going to be the bad guy even as they mask it in the idea that he wants to save Azeroth from the Burning Legion. Arthas was just trying to save his people too and I doubt you would find many people that would say what he did at the end of that quest was not something a bad guy would do. Sometimes even the most noble of intentions can lead to evil and that is what they are developing our little whelp to turn into.
The part of the story that has never been said and the part of the story that really intrigues me is the fact that Wrathion is not just on his own quest to turning evil. He is taking every single one of us with him and we are walking that path with him willingly in an effort to gain power. For the for sake of power, power to kill everyone in our way, power so that we can bask in the glow of our own power. Notice that cape proc? That is us basking.
What is the difference between my hunter and Gul'dan? There is very little difference.
Gul'dan does things because he wants to do things. There is no reason behind it. And he grabs for power wherever he can get it and no matter who he needs to make a deal with to attain it or who he needs to kill to get it. Stepping on or over people on his way does not matter as long as there is power at the end of the tunnel.
We are in the exact same position that Gul'dan was in and we have made the exact same decisions that Gul'dan has made. We are willing to make a deal with the devil to get power and we keep returning to the well to drain more power from it.
As I mentioned Wrathion is not fooling anyone, blizzard and their writers have made sure of that. We all know that he is the bad guy of the future but in our effort to gain power we go back to him and do tasks for him in exchange for power, no different than Gul'dan would do.
Once we get a taste of that power, the sha touched gem, one we know is evil as it is sha touched, It does not stop us on our quest for power. We keep going back for more power. We go back for a weapon enhancement, then for a meta gem and then for a powerful cloak and then for a cloak that has the power of the black drake himself. We keep offering up our service to Wrathion in exchange for what he has to offer us in return, power. We do so knowing that he is the bad guy but none of that matters to us, we want power. We did not need that power. We could have just as easily vanquished our foes without it but we could not resist that taste for power.
That is the part of the story, the untold part of the story, that really grabs me. Sometimes fantasy is so much better when you think of those words not spoken, the words not written, the knowledge not known. In this case, Wrathion has turned us all into exactly what we have been fighting against.
We are Arthas, someone who sought the power to do something he could not do on his own without it. We are Garrosh, someone who wanted power so he could carry out an agenda. And worse, we are Gul'dan, someone that seeks power just for the sake of having it even if he did not need it because the desire for power never stops once you have a taste of it.
Wrathion turned my characters and your characters into the power hungry, weapon wielding, messengers of death by giving us a little bit of power. He did it not because he thought we needed it to get the task done, not because he wanted us to be that powerful, but he did it because he knew that if he gave us just a little taste of power we would keep coming back and we would be serving his purpose. He controlled us by giving us little tastes of power and getting us addicted to it so we would keep coming back for more power.
Each time we returned to Wrathion after completing one of his quests we fell deeper into the realm of becoming everything we have ever fought against.
The unwritten story, the fact we have become Gul'dan, a person that thirsts for power for no other reason than to have it, now that is a story worth telling and the best part is that blizzard did not tell it, but if you are one of those eagle eyed fantasy fans, you can see it as clear as a motion picture running in your mind.
Knowing what he will become, seeing what is is doing to us, maybe we need some raid leader to yell out. One whelp... handle it.
We really should have killed him. But that would just complete our turn to evil now if we did it wouldn't it? Catch 22? If we kill him and take his power in the process then we are the evil he was turning us into with our greed for power to begin with and if we don't he will no longer be a whelp we can easily take out as I am sure he will never give us enough power to compare to him later on but just enough power to keep us coming back.
He is pretty damn smart of a two year old don't you think? He played us like a fiddle.
So how does it feel to know that you are the bad guy? No denying it. We are everything we have ever fought against now.
Streisand effect – Deliverance
5 minutes ago