This is the first in what I hope to be a new series of articles here on All Things Azeroth going over the “what if’s” of the warcraft universe. First some back ground. The Butterfly effect, summarized, is that a small change in one time or place can have huge consequences in other times or places. The basis of the theory is that a butterfly flapping its wings in one place can be the deciding factor of a hurricane forming in another place, weeks later. This is the theory I will be working with in this series. If x event had happened differently, what might have happened later on? What might have been the result in the Warcraft universe?
Our first “what if” to examine is the idea of Ogrim Doomhammer killing the warlock Gul’Dan. “what if” instead of listening to Gul’Dan’s pleas for his life, Ogrim had simply killed him? Another option, “what if” Ogrim hadn’t even waited for Gul’Dan to wake up from his coma, and just taken his head there and then? Those two would likely have had different effects, as the Horde may have lost respect for a Warchief willing to kill a defenseless Orc in his sleep. We will, though, be examining the first one. Gul’Dan wakes up, finds out the newest state of the horde, and pleads for his life from Ogrim Doomhammer, and is refused. Following this we have a very public beheading, and Gul’Dan is slaughtered.
Let us first look at what would have immediately changed, had Gul’Dan been killed instead of spared. The first thing is that there would quite possibly be no further Warlocks in the horde. There were only a few remaining after Doomhammer slaughtered the Shadow Council, and those were chained and guarded to limit what they could do. It is possible that one of them may have been able to take Gul’Dan’s place, but it is likely the Warlocks would not have been as plentiful or as strong in that instance.
Another thing the Horde would have done without was Death Knights(version 1.0), in the likes of Teron Gorefiend, and others. They would have remained warlocks and served the Horde or died. Perhaps Teron would have become the new head of the Warlocks to take Gul’Dan’s place? I am not sure how much Doomhammer would have trusted any warlocks that had been raised under Gul’Dan’s watch, though he may have seen a practical need for it.
Let’s go with that theory, he allows all but Gul’Dan to live, which means either Gorefiend or Cho’Gall would become the new leader of the warlocks. Still, there would be no Death Knights. I don’t think either would have thought of that without Gul’Dan’s creativity. The Horde moves north, chasing the last remnants of Stormwind. I believe that most of the events to follow would have gone very similarly, with the Warlocks countering Mages, and the Horde tearing their way through the known world at the time.
I believe many would agree that the turning point of the second war was the events at the gates of Lordaeron, where Doomhammer learns of Gul’Dan’s betrayal and that he has left with those forces loyal to him in order to find the Tomb of Sargeras. If those forces had always remained loyal to Doomhammer, and had never fled, then it is not unforeseen that Lordaeron would have fallen. As the last human Kingdom, humanity would have been destroyed, the last few humans remaining enslaved to the Orcs.
At Lordaeron, the numbers who would fall would include Terenas, Arthas, Varian, and more. This would change the face of Azeroth completely. Only Kul’Tiras would remain, and it would not be hard for the Orcs to find and defeat the forces of the island nation by either invasion or attrition. Dalaran might have survived for a while, but without martial reinforcements the forces of the Horde would have worn the mages down until the city fell.
Gilneas, Alterac, Stromgarde, Stormwind, Kul’Tiras, Dalaran, and finally Lordaeron. The seven human kingdoms. No Theramore to fall back to, no newly discovered Kalimdor as a place to flee. No Night Elves to recruit. In fact the Night Elves would likely not hear of the Eastern Kingdoms for many years, until an Orcish ship or two found it, and then, if not stopped, left to bring back more forces.
Would humanity ever recover? Would the Night Elves have a chance at holding off the Orcish horde? The Dwarves might find they have no choice but to ally with the Orcs, after their Human allies are defeated. The gnomes would quickly follow. By the point in the timeline that we are currently at in WoW, it would not be unheard of that the entirety of Azeroth could be awash in a sea of Horde red. That is to say that there would even be an Azeroth left, as Draenor’s history doesn’t show this to be a certainty.
The Burning Legion would not have need of a Lich King, as they would have Azeroth via their Orcish minions who are demon blood infused. Grom would still be alive and likely training his son, Garrosh, to be a future leader, if not having made him one already. Doomhammer would not have fallen, and Thrall would be Go’el and still have his parents. Go’el would likely have become a respected leader of the Frostwolf, and trusted advisor to Doomhammer, or to whoever leads the Horde.
I think the end result of this “what if” would be that Azeroth would be changed forever. Orcs would be rulers for a time, though I somehow suspect that they would overextend themselves before long, and this would open the door for possibly the rise of Humanity again, the Burning Legion to fully take control of Azeroth, or perhaps the final re-emergence of the Old Gods as a force of utter chaos and destruction.
What do you think of this “what if”? What scenarios would you like to see explored in the future? Medivh surviving the attack by Khadgar? Jaina becoming the Lich Queen? Let me know by email or on Twitter. Cheers!