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- This article is about the race referred to as "undead" in published materials. For information on the living dead in general, see undead. For information on the Lich King's faction, see Scourge.
The Forsaken are a race and faction of undead who broke away from the Scourge and took control of much of the kingdom of Lordaeron, destroyed during the Third War by the death knight Arthas. They are currently allied with the Horde.
The Forsaken are led by their Banshee Queen, Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, the former Ranger-General of Quel'Thalas. Their capital is the Undercity, in the royal catacombs beneath the ruins of the City of Lordaeron.
Forsaken, unsurprisingly, look like dead people. Their skin is gray and rotting, showing bone and flesh in places. Their pupil-less eyes glow with dim, white ghostlight. Their muscles are withered, making them scrawny. Their movements are slow but jagged. Forsaken hardly ever smile (unless their lips have rotted away — in which case they can appear to be smiling all the time). Necromantic magic keeps them somewhat preserved, but natural decay still proceeds, just slower than normal.
Undead humans and elves freed from the Lich King's control, the Forsaken are a strange and dark force. Hailing from the twisted, skittering darkness of Undercity, the Forsaken are nominally allied with the Horde but serve only themselves. Their objectives are twofold: eliminate the Scourge, and establish a place for themselves on Azeroth. Four years ago, the high elven Ranger General Sylvanas Windrunner fell in combat against the Scourge. Prince Arthas raised her as a banshee and compelled her to follow his command. When the Lich King's power waned in the incidents surrounding the Frozen Throne, Sylvanas harnessed her fury and tore herself free from his skeletal grasp. She freed many other undead as well, and recruited powerful allies from the Burning Legion and the surrounding ogre clans. Sylvanas dubbed her new force the "Forsaken", and the undead established their capital in the labyrinthine crypts beneath Lordaeron's former capital city. Their sprawling, subterranean realm is called the "Undercity". The Forsaken made allies of the Horde out of necessity and convenience. They have no love for orcs, tauren or any other living creature, but they need time to strike against the Scourge and allies to help them do it. The Forsaken claim that they joined the Horde to prove their desire to leave their evil ways behind, but no one really believes this. The Horde accepts the Forsaken's help, as they do indeed have a common enemy: the Scourge.
The Horde is leery of the Forsaken's tactics, however, and keeps watchful eyes on them. This caution is justified. Forsaken culture is strange, a perverse combination of the lives they once knew as mortals and the mindless slavery they experienced in the Scourge, colored by white-hot rage toward the Lich King and an almost equally intense devotion to their queen. Never sleeping, eating or falling ill, abandoned by those they once loved, the Forsaken have a brutal set of priorities. A great portion of their efforts focus on dark alchemy, and the Royal Apothecary Society commands great power in Undercity's oily tunnels. The apothecaries constantly send Forsaken on missions to gather odd materials for their twisted experiments. Rumors tell that the undead creatures are working to create a plague that will exterminate the Scourge and every living being on Azeroth. Are the Forsaken evil? At times it can be difficult to tell. Some Forsaken attempt to reclaim their humanity by acting in kind and helpful ways. Others allow hatred to fester into cruelty and rage. All that can be said is that the Forsaken follow their own agendas, and the rest of the world be damned; and if they have their way, it will be. Not all Forsaken are evil, but many are, and other races definitely view them as such. A non-evil Forsaken must work hard to prove his or her neutral (or perhaps, good) intentions. Few good Forsaken exist, but many evil ones do, and their leadership is definitely up to nefarious ends.
The Forsaken are humanoids transformed into the undead, with all the powers associated with the Scourge. They serve the Banshee Queen, Sylvanas, looking to her as their savior for delivering them from the Lich King's mental dominance. From within the bowels of the Undercity, they are dedicated to seek vengeance upon the Scourge for damning them to their condition, they strive to undermine the Scourge's control of Lordaeron. The Forsaken have been limited in their ability to reinforce their numbers, having few necromancers among their kind. Instead, these fearless undead fighters are comprised mostly of warriors and warlocks dedicated to building a culture of their own amidst a world that hates and fears them. Only recently has Sylvanas recruited and trained necromancers into the Forsaken ranks.
In the wake of Illidan's failed attempt to melt the icy continent of Northrend, the powerful energies possessed by the Lich King inside his Frozen Throne slowly began to decay. Inexorably this resulted in a partial loss of control of the more distant Scourge forces. The result was that many undead under the Lich King's mental domination had their conscious will restored. Their spirits and memories were somehow returned to their undead bodies. Even the Lich King's champion, Arthas, began to weaken as the Lich King's power waned. Arthas the death knight and his lieutenant Kel'Thuzad the lich were suddenly thrust into an undead civil war. Still fanatically loyal to the Lich King, Arthas heeded the call of his master and returned to Northrend as Illidan launched his second attempt to destroy the Lich King directly. Arthas left Kel'Thuzad in command of his forces when he departed.
With Arthas' departure from Lordaeron, the three Dreadlords Balnazzar, Varimathras, and Detheroc attempted to regain control over the undead forces in Lordaeron using their formidable mental powers. The former high elf Sylvanas Windrunner rallied many of the newly freed undead to counter the Dreadlords' efforts. Sylvanas was amazingly successful and not only crushed the Dreadlords' forces, but also utterly destroyed the last major contingent of human forces in Lordaeron. She forced Varimathras into her service in exchange for sparing his life and took control of the ruined capital of Lordaeron as her own. Within the sewer system of the ruined city Arthas had constructed his throne room; but with Arthas now gone, Sylvanas claimed this Undercity as her capital and set out to expand her ranks by freeing even more undead.
Dubbing her band of free-willed undead the Forsaken, Sylvanas worked to ensure that the damned such as herself would have a home free from threats by the living. To ensure their survival, the Forsaken have forged an alliance of convenience with the Horde, which has some sympathy for the Forsaken's condition. The orcs, having been enthralled to demon masters for a generation, felt an obligation to help similarly liberated people. Among the tauren the Forsaken found a champion in Magatha Grimtotem, who argued in favor of the alliance between the two peoples and who continues to work closely with them. Magatha claims she merely wants to aid the Forsaken in their quest to redeem themselves, although there are many who believe her true motives to be something very different and much less innocent. The Darkspear trolls are not particularly fond of the Forsaken because of their shamanistic beliefs, but tolerate them and have learned to trust them in times of war. The blood elves trust them more than the other members of the Horde and the trust is seemingly mutual as Sylvanas was a major component of the elves joining the Horde. While the Horde does not fully trust the Forsaken and vice versa, it is a start.
All members of the Forsaken race are either humans or of elven descent (high elves and half-elves). However they also control a few abominations as well. The Royal Apothecary Society has independently accepted in a few undead dwarves, leper gnomes, even some orcs, and trolls have joined the society, as apothecaries, but these are not considered true Forsaken.
In CataclysmThis section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
In Cataclysm, the Forsaken have launched an offensive against Gilneas. They have also employed the Lich King's old servants, the Val'kyr, to ressurect the fallen on the battle-field as their own to solve the issue of their falling numbers, much to the disgust of Garrosh Hellscream, the new Warchief of the Horde. The Forsaken appear to be being increasingly hostile since the death of the Lich King, launching attacks on, Southshore, Quel'Danil Lodge , their alliance counterparts in Andorhal, humans in Arathi Highlands, and as stated above, Gilneas.
Before the time of the Scourge, many of those that would become Forsaken were devout priests of the Light. It would seem, however, that the Forsaken have abandoned the light. However some are still able to channel it.
This section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft novels or short stories.The figure wore the robes of a priest of the Holy Light - not uncommon among the Forsaken, who mocked the order by wearing their garments and allowing the sacred robes to be soiled and tainted by their bloody work. Somehow, Andarin sensed, this figure was different; the robes seemed to be in almost tolerable condition, even if the body wearing them was not. "You wear the robes of a priest, Trevor. Why do you not channel the Light in battle, if you seek redemption?" The priest seemed to wince at that. "While I refuse to wield the shadow, the Light has refused me, or so it seems. And so, I am truly a broken man; I learned to wield spears of Light like Uther's knights did in the Second. Without the Light, I am unarmed and unarmored -- but not entirely helpless, as you see." Andarin couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the fallen priest, if his story was true. Perhaps a man, no matter how virtuous, could not channel holy power while in such a form."
Although most of the race is evil, the Forsaken cannot be thought of in purely dualistic terms entirely. Although undead, the Forsaken are still inherently human, the majority of whom were victims of the plague spread by Kel'Thuzad. Thus some of the Forsaken are still good beings, if no longer living. As the above suggests, some individuals among them are capable of a tragic form of nobility, in that they do not allow their inability to obtain redemption to prevent them from trying.
Those that try often leave the Forsaken, seeing its flaws, and join other causes. These Forsaken rebel against their race, seeking a better way to end the Lich King's reign or search for a way to reclaim their lost humanity, while others work to reform it from within, such as Roberick Dartfall.
It is arguable that such nobility is the only truly genuine form that exists, in that it comes not from duty, religion, or custom, but from a decision born purely of free will.
Even as they believe they have been abandoned by their faith, so have the Forsaken abandoned the faiths of their living days. Some still adhere to their old faiths, such as the Holy Light. Many no longer cling to any religion, placing their faith in their queen and their dark science. Most, however, have embraced new philosophies of their own creation: the Forgotten Shadow, the Echo of Life, or the simple value of knowledge. Some have even turned to the Burning Legion as a source of power, believing that only it is potent enough to defeat the Lich King.
The Cult of Forgotten Shadow is largely based out of Deathknell and the warrior quarter in Undercity. Priests of the Forgotten Shadow believe that the faiths they held in life have failed them, and so they instead rely on the power and teachings of the Shadow. The members of the Cult vary between lawful and chaotic, evil and neutral, and are taught to eradicate anything having to do with the Holy Light — and life in general. It is also a philosophy of divine humanism.
Priests of the Forgotten Shadow teach that there must be a balance between Light and Shadow, and while they should never forget that they are from the Shadow, members of the cult must learn the Light as well. Being intelligent undead, the Forsaken fully understand the limitations and vulnerabilities associated with unlife. One of these disadvantages is that they can be turned, rebuked or even commanded by powerful positive or negative energy forces. Naturally, the Forsaken are always on the lookout for ways to limit or negate this vulnerability.
Some Forsaken priests continue to wield the Light. Recent information provided by the Blizzard Creative Development team says that, while it is possible for Forsaken with intensely strong willpower to use the Holy Light, it is very painful for them to do so. Holy Light spells can still heal the Forsaken but they must suffer nobly.
Undercity is the home of the Forsaken. They also have control of Tirisfal Glades and have several towns in the region. Forsaken patrols have tried to secure Silverpine Forest for the past couple years, but they are unable to do so. Though the Forsaken do not trust anyone and no one trusts them, they are members of the Horde and, for now, do their best to help their allies and placate their ambassadors. Forsaken have even less love for the Alliance, particularly because they clash constantly with the human organization called the Scarlet Crusade. The only other Horde faction they even have a semblance of trust with is Silvermoon City and the blood elves. This is probably due to the fact that Sylvanas was a high elf ranger in life and finds trust in her former companions. The Forsaken and blood elves even took control of the village of Tranquillien in the Ghostlands to fight the Scourge in the area together.
Relations with the Horde
Though initially the Forsaken alliance with the Horde was one of pure convenience, in recent times it appears that their position in the faction has begun to solidify and many, though not all, of the Forsaken appear to be more or less loyal to the Horde now. Though the events at the Battle of Angrathar the Wrathgate may seem to contradict this, in the following quests it is revealed that Grand Apothecary Putress's actions were not very well received among most of the city's denizens. This seems to suggest that the Forsaken consider themselves part of the Horde now, or are at least upset by the new limitations his failure has placed on them.
Forsaken speak Gutterspeak and Orcish, the common language of the Horde. Forsaken learn the languages of their enemies and their allies (who may become their enemies). According to lore found in the Horde Player's Guide, Forsaken have not lost the ability to understand Common, the language spoken when they were alive. However, they never speak it under normal circumstances. They take fierce pride in speaking Gutterspeak instead. Some have forgotten how to understand Common.
The Forsaken used to be able to understand Common in-game, but this has since been removed as a result of the excessive amounts of spite and swearing going back and forth between the factions.
Like their Dark Lady, Forsaken keep the names they had when they were alive. As most Forsaken are human, these tend to be human names. If a Forsaken cannot remember their name, they may make up a suitable name or read one from a headstone. Some invent surnames that imply their desire to eradicate the Scourge.
- Male names: Roberick, Magan, Danforth, Lansire.
- Female names: Yellen, Limmy, Sarias, Mierelle.
- Family names: Dartfall, Blacksling, Ghoulhunter, Blastlich.
A cure for undeath?
Many of the other races (mainly the tauren) pity the Forsaken and a number of Horde healers all over Azeroth, such as Mani Winterhoof, work tirelessly in the hopes of creating a cure for undeath. Some of the Forsaken feel that their undeath is an illness or curse and long for a cure, but many think it is impossible. There is one case of a sentient undead (High Inquisitor Fairbanks) being restored to life, albeit by unrelated reasons.
Forsaken with an undead soul can be brought back with raise dead and reincarnate. The spells work normally on them. Resurrection, true resurrection and similar effects restore them to their undead life rather than to the being they were before they became undead. A Forsaken's body of this type is undead… and so is its soul, corrupted and changed to such a degree that it belongs to its new body now, rather than its old one. Forsaken priests have the power to restore those foolishly slain in battle, though only to unlife. Nothing short of a miracle can return true life.
Present day Forsaken
Reports say Sylvanas moves to and from Northrend; it's unknown if she is scouting for a possible attack on the Lich King, or if she has darker plans. There are rumors that Sylvanas Windrunner is setting up a Forsaken city somewhere in the continent.
It seems now with the threat of the Lich King's shadow looming greater than ever before, that Sylvanas has built up her forces sufficiently for a direct attack on Northrend. It appears that Sylvanas' plague is now fully ready for testing on the Scourge. With her navy now apparently on the shores of Northrend, the Forsaken have begun setting up a stronghold from which they can now launch their own unique plague onto the hateful Scourge.
In Wrath of the Lich King a number of Forsaken under Grand Apothecary Putress broke away from the Horde at the Battle of Angrathar the Wrathgate. While the Horde and Alliance battled the Lich King, Putress triumphantly launched a surprise attack against both factions. At the same time Varimathras successfully pushed the Dark Lady out of the Undercity, however the Horde and Alliance quickly destroyed Varimathras, his demon brothers, and the rebel forsaken in the Battle for the Undercity.
As the Forsaken are undead, that makes it impossible for them to reproduce via biological means. To this extent, the Banshee Queen has employed the val'kyr after the death of their Lich King, who resurrect enemies who fall in battle to serve the Dark Lady. This makes them different from the first Forsaken, who died by the plague during the Third War or by the Scourge, while these new Forsaken have been risen by the leader of the Forsaken to bolster their numbers.
Beings brought back from death with a prayer, spell, wish or miracle are fully restored to their whole and natural state, usually soon after death. If too much time has passed, it may well be that the difficulty and/or chance of failure of a resurrection spell may increase. The forsaken that are raised to undeath in Deathknell have been dead and rotting for weeks, months, or years. Prayers and spells will restore them to a "living state", but that state will be the same undeath they have known for so long now.
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 174.
- ^ Manual of Monsters, 138.
- ^ a b "The Problem of Evil, and Other Philosophical Conundrums", World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game: 53.
Most Forsaken are pretty despicable, and their motivations as a race are evil and destructive.
- ^ a b c d e f g h "Undead, Forsaken", World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game: 51-53.
- ^ Manual of Monsters, 137
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, pg. 153.
- ^ Lands of Conflict, pg. 164-165.
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, 170
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, pg. 173.
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 173.
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, "Magic in the Horde":87.
Priests of the Holy Light in particular struggle to reconcile the philosophy that guided their life with their unfortunate new condition. Some balance their old beliefs with their new forms, but most follow one of two paths.
- ^ a b World of Warcraft Trading Card Game: March of the Legion. Upper Deck Entertainment.
12: Chancellor Velora:
The Light rewards faith, not form..
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, "Magic in the Horde":87-88.
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, "Forsaken Knowledge":154.
- ^  , World of Warcraft. Blizzard Entertainment. Tirisfal Glades. Dark Cleric Duesten:
...the Holy Light no longer concerns you, the spirits of your forefathers are fairy tales, and creatures from the Nether don't want you..
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, "Cult of Forgotten Shadow":160.
They felt that the Light forgot them, and turned to the Shadow instead.
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, "Magic in the Horde":87.
Forsaken who feel betrayed by the Holy Light's failure to protect them sometimes find that turning their backs on the Holy Light is not enough; they throw aside the Holy Light and embrace its dark twin out of spite.
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, "Cult of Forgotten Shadow":160.
Alignment: Lawful evil, though chaotic neutral and neutral evil individuals are just as prevalent.
- ^ a b  , World of Warcraft. Blizzard Entertainment. Tirisfal Glades. Dark Cleric Beryl:
But before you can know the dark, you must also know the light..
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, "Cult of Forgotten Shadow":160.
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, "Technological Devices":126.
- ^ Ask CDev #1 Answers - Round 1. World of Warcraft - English (NA) Forums.
- ^ Forsaken and blood elves start as Friendly to each other, but Neutral to the other Horde factions
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, pg. 151
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, pg. 37.
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, 161
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, pg. 180-182.