Flavor Text and Lore: The Priest Hero Anduin

This new Lore article focuses on the Priest Hero, Anduin Wrynn and the religions of Azeroth.

Welcome to another installment of the Flavor Text and Lore series. In this article, I will be writing about Anduin Wrynn, the priest Hero, and about how he fits into the overall Warcraft lore.

A Prince of Stormwind

Way back during the launch of the first version of World of Warcraft, one of the mysteries to be pursued by the players was the location of Stormwind’s King. varian-wrynn was nowhere to be found, and a boy-king sat in the throne in his stead: his only child, Royal Prince Anduin Llane Wrynn of Stormwind.

Only ten years old at the time, Anduin’s ruling was mostly decided by his mentors: Varian and Uther’s good friend, the paladin bolvar-fordragon, who stood by his side as both advisor and bodyguard, and Lady Katrana Prestor, who acted as seneschal and surrogate mother.

The first years of his reign were uneasy, as tensions mounted between the alliance and the Horde, especially in the southern half of the continent of Azeroth, and pleas for help went unheard by the throne.

While both Stormwind’s subjects and the allied kingdom of Ironforge, led by the alternate Warrior Hero Magni Bronzebeard, asked for the king to back them in their efforts to protect their land from warmongering orcs, ogres and savage drakes, Lady Katrana Prestor urged Anduin to be cautious in the commitment of his resources, and in this way severely limited the extent of Stormwind’s aid.

Originally, an end-game quest line involving the players escorting non-playable character Marshal Windsor through part of Blackrock Depths would expose Lady Katrana Prestor as the scheming onyxia, whose purpose had been all along to prevent Anduin and Bolvar from knowing the truth behind varian-wrynn’s disappearance and to cover the growing dominance of her brother nefarian over southern Azeroth.

But in order to get the lore more in line with the narrative that they had planned for the coming Cataclysm, Blizzard rewrote that part of the story, canonizing the version with no player involvement, from the Warcraft comics, where a returned varian-wrynn and allies rescue Anduin from captivity under onyxia, who, having had her schemes exposed by the return of the king, had sought to use the prince as a hostage and bargaining chip.

Anduin and the Holy Light

By the Cataclysm, Anduin would be 15 years old or close to that age. While his tutors initially expected him to follow the path of the Warrior like his father, Anduin had by then spent many years under the tutelage of the now-deceased bolvar-fordragon, and felt a special affinity for the holy light.

While he was remarkably adept at feats of dexterity like knife-throwing and archery, he had never been proficient with the tools of war, feeling more at home using his natural skills to heal and comfort the injured.

The alternate Warrior Hero and then King of Ironforge, Magni Bronzebeard, finally encouraged the prince to seek out tutelage under the priesthood, feeling that the path of the priest would be more in line with his gifts.

And so, Anduin Wrynn emerged from the Cataclysm a priest, and one whose compassion and aptitude for peace-making is noted even among the Horde.

The Origins of the Priest

The priest ultimately has its origins in the Dungeons & Dragons cleric, a caster unit who could draw on divine power to perform both minor and major miracles, in and out of the battlefield, and still wear enough protection and wield weapons well enough to be able to walk into the fray as a melee combatant.

The real-time strategy titles mixed this role around – the original Warcraft still had the classic Dungeons & Dragons cleric, albeit turning him into a more fragile unit. Wielders of the faith were then made rare on Warcraft II, as it was the paladins that took the cleric’s place in battle.

Finally, the priest surfaces in Warcraft III as a more defensive alternative to the mage, a caster through and through with little to no involvement in melee.  It is here that the established priest gameplay tenets first come into Warcraft mechanics: the class’ speciality is to heal and “toughen up” allies, as well as running interference on enemy casters.

Their trademark spell is the self-explanatory “heal”, later dubbed lesser-heal for starting Warcraft priests, a name that stuck with the Hearthstone Hero. But even as early as Warcraft III priests could also buff allies via inner-fire and remove buffs from enemies – much like silence works in Hearthstone – via “Dispel Magic”.

While creating World of Warcraft, Blizzard felt that they needed to give a wider range of options to players, more variety in the way they could play the base classes – and at the same time, while they wanted the priest to remain true to his origins as a healer and buffer, they did not want to cripple players that wished to play solo, by lack of offensive capabilities.

So Blizzard came up with different kinds of priests, varying depending on their affiliations and faiths.

Spirituality in Azeroth

Unlike most fantasy worlds, where one or two beliefs usually dominate, Azeroth has a rich tapestry of differing faiths and philosophies.

While some civilizations worship the tangible power of the elements, and as such turn to the Shaman for spiritual guidance, others embrace different kinds of belief, and sometimes even dichotomies in belief exist within a single society.

One such example is the Night Elf society. The Druids worship nature as represented by demigods such as aviana or cenarius, while most of the remainder of their people worship the Moon Goddess Elune. It is from the Moon Goddess, then, that Night Elf priests draw their power and to whom they commit in their spiritual pursuits – while maintaining a close relationship with their druid brethren and a healthy respect for their beliefs.

At the same time, a similar power is drawn by Humans, Orcs and Draenei not from any mythical entity, but from a force that they claim permeates the universe, much in the way “The Force” from Star Wars is said to work: the Holy Light.

The Holy Light can be drawn from the world around the priest, and seems to be malleable much in the same way arcane magic is. Fallen paladins can be “cut off” from the Light by decision and ritual performed by their brethren – much like tirion-fordring once was; and at one point the Blood Elves even took the power of the Holy Light by force from the Naaru, in order to power their own blood-knight paladins.

Being alive is not even a requirement, as the Holy Light is often used by undead Forsaken priests. There are also sentient beings entirely made from the Holy Light: the Naaru, who have at times been worshiped by the Draenei.

Finally, the Tauren priests seem to derive their Holy Light powers from the worship of the Sun, while the redeemed Blood Elves, once forgiven by the Naaru and purified by prophet-velen, started drawing it from their mystical Sunwell, located in the far reaches of their homeland of Quel’thalas.

The Holy Light, then, is intrinsic to many religions and spiritual beliefs both in Azeroth and other worlds. It is possible that the many religions are just different forms of interpretation of what is in effect an universal force, but it is not out of the question the possibility of the Holy Light itself having originated many supernatural phenomena.

What is unquestionable is that, when not manipulated or otherwise corrupted, the Holy Light is a force for good. The Holy Priest is a healer foremost, mending and protecting his allies.

Darker Pursuits

Of course, every light casts a shadow, and if you read the section about the Titans in my lore piece on the League of Explorers, you will know that Azeroth was once held in thrall by powerful supernatural entities known as the Old Gods.

These Old Gods dwell in the realms of madness that are opposite to the Holy Light: the power of the Void.

Just as the Light has its counterpart in the Void, so does the Holy Priest have his dark reflection in the Shadow Priest.

The Shadow Priest is an expert in pain and corruption. He draws his power directly from the Void, straying close to madness due to his proximity to the Old Gods while in shadowform, in order to smite all who oppose him with spells such as mind-spike, mind-blast and shadow-madness.

In World of Warcraft, the Shadow Priest is mostly a ranged damage dealer, much like the Mage or the Warlock, though he still has command of a few healing capabilities, usually within the theme of leeching, much like the Warlock’s drain-life. But make no mistake: these people are usually either flat-out evil, or simply mad. Probably both.

Finally, the Discipline Priest seeks balance in all things. A healer and a protector first and foremost, these philosophers recognize the power of the Holy Light and that its counterpart in the Void cannot be ignored, and instead try to strike a balance, drawing on both while shielding their minds from the madness that is inherent to any contact with the Void. They are adept at empowering allies and debilitating foes.

The Priest Hero in Hearthstone embodies the characteristics of all three different aspects of the priest class over its wide array of cards and minions, even going so far as to enable players to radically change their approach to the game via shadowform.

Anduin, the Diplomat

At 15, Anduin found himself travelling in his father’s ship, and after an attack from the Horde, he was shipwrecked in the lost continent of Pandaria.

His time on the ancient continent, where nature was ruled by wise animal-gods and the land was inhabited by the kind and gentle Pandaren – who had an especially deep appreciation for beauty and life, and love of living – cemented the young priest’s belief that peace was the worthiest of goals.

It was there that Anduin further developed his sense of justice and his commitment to peacemaking, reigning in the warlike disposition of his father varian-wrynn, working to build bridges between the Alliance, the Horde, and the Pandaren, and bringing help and relief to the natives of Pandaria that found themselves helpless in the wake of the Warrior Hero Garrosh’s violent bid for power.

Wounded during one of Garrosh’s acts of destruction, the prince is well and recovering in a tavern nested between the tall mountains of Pandaria, enjoying the company of the only uncorrupted member of the Black Dragonflight, deathwing’s last remaining son Wrathion, the Black Prince, who expresses considerable dismay over Anduin’s peacemaking disposition, but seems to enjoy his company regardless.

The Future of the Priest Hero

Anduin has been hinted at as an important actor in the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Legion, and an updated, more adult model appears on the game website.

The current word from participants in the expansion’s alpha test is that he bears the title “King of Stormwind”, making it a possibility that his father varian-wrynn has died or otherwise abdicated in his favour – it wouldn’t, after all, be the first time. But this should be taken with a grain of salt as Blizzard is known to seed inaccurate information in the test build data.

As for the question of whether there could be an alternate Hero for the Priest in Hearthstone, there are a couple of possibilities that come to mind.

Tyrande Whisperwind is the most obvious candidate, being Malfurion’s lover and one of the most important priestesses in Warcraft lore – as the main Priestess of the Moon, she is in fact the religious leader of the whole Night Elf nation.

But a Horde option would be preferable. Sadly, the most important Horde Priest (technically, a Witch-Doctor) voljin is already a card.

My suggestion here would be Archbishop Alonsus Faol. Yes, the paladin Hero Uther’s mentor and founder of the Order of the Silver Hand.

While having been deceased since before the Third War – and having allegedly died of natural causes – he seems to have been resurrected by the Forsaken and now follows the Dark Lady sylvanas-windrunner.

While it is as of yet unclear what, if any, will be his part to play in the greater story that is being told in Legion, he stands as one of the most important figures in Warcraft history, and would be a good chance to have a more dark and brooding character to balance Anduin’s cheerfulness on the board.

So what do you think about this? Who would you rather see as Anduin’s alternate Hero? Let us know in the comments!