|Playable races in World of Warcraft e|
|Draenei ( Lightforged) · Dwarf ( Dark Iron) · Gnome · Human ( Kul Tiran) · Night elf ( Void elf) · Worgen||Pandaren||Blood elf ( Nightborne) · Goblin · Orc ( Mag'har) · Tauren ( Highmountain) · Troll ( Zandalari) · Undead|
The night elves, or kaldorei ("Children of the Stars" in their native tongue of Darnassian), have a long and fascinating history. Native to the western continent of Kalimdor, the night elves ended a long period of seclusion at the end of the Third War and became members of the Alliance.
The kaldorei are a reclusive and mystical race born during the waking of the world. Theirs is a most ancient heritage, which has shaped them into a very self-sufficient and self-conscious people that often display strong streaks of isolationism. With the Well of Eternity once located at the very center of their civilization, the night elves were the first and the greatest wielders of magic, putting the craft to use with unmatched brilliance and inspiration. However, the arrogance of the highest caste of the ancient kaldorei, the Highborne, caused increasingly reckless use of the magic powers that the Well granted, which ultimately allowed the Burning Legion to first find its way into Azeroth. The Highborne fell under the thrall of Sargeras, and an apocalyptic confrontation between the remaining night elves and the invading Legion was set into motion that became known as the War of the Ancients. The outcome changed Azeroth for all time, causing a Sundering which tore the landmasses of the world apart and gave rise to the Maelstrom.
Although the mighty kaldorei proved themselves able of putting a decisive halt to the Legion's onslaught, both their civilization and the world itself were shattered as a result of their mistakes. Left with nothing else than their lives, grief and sorrow, the night elves withdrew to their ancestral forests of Ashenvale and isolated their culture from the rest of Azeroth for nearly ten millenia, renouncing magic and becoming devoted wholly to the natural cycle of the world they had almost led to ruin. Ever since, the kaldorei's ways have revolved around an intimate connection to the natural forces, animistic powers and the worship of their mysterious moon goddess, Elune. The night elves now stand as a people who are both highly spiritual and pragmatic, an often sophisticated paradox, and are possessed with a deeply seated desire to find their solace.
Virtually all remaining kaldorei consider it their sworn duty to maintain the safety and balance of the natural world. The night elves are honorable to a fault; a strict but just and sometimes even compassionate people. However, they tend to be dismissive and distrustful of the younger races they now find within the world, and whom they consider to either be living in stubborn ignorance or as too short-lived to ever attain the responsibility and wisdom which the kaldorei have gained through their burdened past. In turn, many of these younger cultures perceive the night elves' attitude as one of mere arrogance or of superiority, and the kaldorei tend to be mistrusted themselves, if not for their shadowy and secretive nature then for their aloof and judging demeanor.
At the beginning of the world, now known as Azeroth, the god-like titans created a magical well — dubbed the Well of Eternity by the kaldorei or night elves. Over time it became the source of their power, wisdom, and immortality. This immense source of mystical energy shone like a beacon throughout the Twisting Nether, eventually claiming the attention of Sargeras, the dark titan, Destroyer of Worlds, as he sought to claim its power as his own.
War of the Ancients
- Main article: War of the Ancients
Thus began the corruption of the elves. Posing as a venerable god, Sargeras managed to contact the most powerful of all the elves, Azshara. Sargeras convinced Azshara, and her most loyal assistant, the Lord Counselor Xavius, to open a gateway to Azeroth that this almighty "god" might come forth and bless their whole race (meanwhile eradicating all races deemed "unworthy"). In their insolence, those born to nobility, the Highborne, sought to use and control this source of unimaginable power and unspeakable evil; and for their pride, they were consumed by the magic they so eagerly wished to wield.
As the portal into the mortal world grew larger, Sargeras sent ever more numerous "emissaries" to aid with the portal and bring the word of their god from the beyond. These demons were members of Sargeras's immortal army, known as the Burning Legion, and they had put to the flame countless worlds throughout the void. As the portal grew close to its completion to allow the dark titan entry to Azeroth, a small band of kaldorei led by Malfurion Stormrage, the first druid, realized the threat posed to their entire world by this nameless evil and the now-crazed Azshara. Realizing his seemingly imminent victory could be threatened by these few elves, Sargeras commanded that his Legion make war upon Azeroth and destroy the unworthy, which included the entirety of the kaldorei race.
As war raged across the young world, many protectors of the world emerged to aid the young Malfurion Stormrage in closing this portal to the Twisting Nether and the malevolence which now stood poised to destroy them all. The demi-god Cenarius, the ancients, and the powerful dragonflights clashed head on with the advancing legion. Having learned much about the power and beauty of nature from his shan'do, Cenarius, Malfurion was able to disrupt the nearly completed portal spell and close his world off from the invincible Sargeras.
With so much power in flux, the Well of Eternity imploded in a magical cataclysm, sending untold numbers to their doom. Many kaldorei were dragged to the bottom of the sea, only to be twisted and transformed into the sea serpents now known as the vile naga. The catastrophe tore the continent apart into three sections, and left a permanent storm known as the Maelstrom where the well once stood. With the majority of the Highborne dead, the kaldorei turned away from their arcane legacy and began a new culture focusing on attunement with nature and their surroundings.
The surviving Highborne tried to assimilate into the new druidic society, but over time they could not ignore the burning addiction to magic their whole race suffered from. The Highborne (now calling themselves high elves), led by Dath'Remar, left Kalimdor, sailing across the sea to the other, newly-formed continent. Here, they established the nation of Quel'Thalas.
The night elves, as they now called themselves, settled into their new culture, living as closely to the land and its inhabitants as possible. In time, they were granted a chance to continue as immortals when the World Tree, Nordrassil, was planted on Mount Hyjal with the remaining essence of the Well of Eternity. Having established a future for their people, the druids slumbered, communing with the dragon Aspect, Ysera in the Emerald Dream. The druids were bound to the Dream through the Nordrassil and slept for centuries at a time, only to be awoken during times of great need. For untold ages, their civilization flourished, forgotten by the centuries.
Rediscovery and the Third War
The Third War led to the rediscovery of the continent of Kalimdor and the night elf race. The orcs, newly fled from Azeroth and seeking resources for their armies, began a lumber project against which the night elves took great offense. This led to many skirmishes between the Warsong Clan of the orcs and the night elf Sentinel force. Eventually, the orcs and the night elves suspended their enmity and fought alongside each other, along with the humans and dwarves of the Alliance, against the demonic forces of Archimonde, a colossal lieutenant of the Burning Legion.
The night elves are now trying to rebuild what was lost after the battle with Archimonde at Mount Hyjal. In destroying Nordrassil to prevent the return of the Burning Legion, the night elves made the ultimate sacrifice: that of their immortality. They have founded the city of Darnassus on the ill-planned and unblessed new World Tree of Teldrassil, and are trying to reclaim the forest’s inhabitants from the madness spread by demonic corruption of the Third War. In the absence of Malfurion Stormrage, the night elves are led by Tyrande Whisperwind and Arch-Druid Fandral Staghelm. Though they are now aware that there are allies outside the boundaries of their woods, one should not walk lightly in their lands. After all the sacrifices they have endured to keep their lands free of destruction or bondage, the night elves are not fond of strangers. Many have found arrows in their chest before they even knew danger lurked about them. It is currently unknown when the night elves joined the Alliance, but they may have just kept their alliance made in the Third War.
CataclysmThis section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm the night elves will be able to become mages using arcane magic. After the Sundering, night elven society outlawed arcane magic on pain of death. However, a Highborne agent sought an audience with Tyrande Whisperwind, to offer that they put their differences aside and combine their resources and skills to prepare for challenges ahead. This suggests that playable night elf mages could be Highborne night elves instead of the "traditional" variant players have been playing so far.
It is also likely that the night elves will fight alongside the Worgen in Gilneas, on the Forsaken front. And while it has not been explicitly stated what role the kaldorei will play in the war against the Forsaken. It can be assumed that they are attempting to establish close ties with the Worgen; and perhaps even train them as Druids to indoctrinate them into the Cenarion Circle.
The night elves are a people who have dedicated their individual lives, as well as the very organization of their entire society, in the pursuit of the protection of the natural world. They are at one with the subtle ebb and flow of the Kalimdor forests they call home. The druids of their people spent ages walking in a spectral realm guarded by the great Green Dragon Ysera the Dreamer known as the Emerald Dream. The night elves were once immortal but after the Third War, they gave up their immortal nature to defeat Archimonde and were forced to fully rejoin the world and fight for its survival. Though the night elves venerate and honor many creatures, Moon Goddess Elune is honored above all others.
Prior to the conclusion of the Third War, night elf society was sharply divided by gender, with the vast majority of men being druids and most women serving as warriors, priestesses, or a combination thereof. These gender roles more or less defined the culture of the kaldorei for ten thousand years. In the years since the end of the Third War, this gender division appears to have eased in favor of more practical concerns, setting aside its historical strictures on membership. Women have taken up the mantle of the druids, just as men have begun to choose the path of war and have affiliated with the Sentinels. Although before the Third War there were women night elf druids they weren't let to affiliate the Cenarion Circle.
FaithThis section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft RPG, and thus unlikely to be canon.
The night elves worship the Ancients, who are nature deities attuned to the forest and the hunt. Elune the moon goddess and Malorne the Waywatcher are the most prominent figures of worship. While Cenarius has died, and the night elves will never forgive the orcs for this, his children live on and gain power each passing year. The night elves venerate the children of Cenarius as he was venerated, and perhaps one day these children of the slain demigod will aid the night elves in repaying the orcs for the transgressions of the past.
- Main article: Darnassian
The Sisters of Elune hold by far the most power; as one of a small handful of kaldorei organizations to survive the War of the Ancients, and the only one to be based upon aptitude and not lineage, they were largely responsible for the establishment of the new government after the War's conclusion. Among their early actions were to reorganize the old, class-based army into the Sentinel pattern used today, and to adjust the order's charter to include public service. The head of the Sisters would be the sole head of the night elf government.
The Cenarion Circle, then still under the direction of Cenarius himself, took no active part in governmental affairs, as their numbers included druids from several other species. Though Archdruid Stormrage did take part in the government on occasion, the druids typically remained aloof.
Though Tyrande is still the undisputed leader of the government, the Sisters are not the only players on the field; power in the night elf government today is set largely across three groups: the Sisters of Elune, the night elf faction of the Cenarion Circle, and the Sentinels. In particular, Archdruid Staghelm believes himself to be a much more capable leader than Tyrande, and a silent power struggle has erupted between the two leaders. Only the highest of the Sisters and druids are aware of the battle that could tear kaldorei society apart.
Night elves rely on their magic and the benefits of the natural world around them to maintain their society. Their magic is druidic in nature and flows straight from the natural world. They use this magic and their affinity for nature to shape the trees and stone and make friends with the animals around them. It is with these skills rather than engineering, steam power, or metalcraft that they survive.
While they cultivate a relatively low-tech society, when compared to those of the dwarves or gnomes, they seem to have been able to create some relatively simple mechanical weaponry, such as the large glaive Thrower, a mechanical siege weapon, which they developed during their period of isolation from other races. Though the night elves obviously have metallurgical skills (the aforementioned glaives don't forge themselves), there appears to be no forge present in Darnassus or on Teldrassil.
As the city of Darnassus exemplifies, the night elves are skilled at building and stonecraft. These skills probably date from before the War of the Ancients, when the kaldorei were more "traditional" in terms of technology. It should be noted that their lifestyle is not "anti-technology," but rather one where technology is not the goal.
The Art of War
Rather than drawing from the chaotic and darker side of magic, theirs is pulled from Azeroth itself. Stone, root, flora and fauna all are avenues through which their magic travels. Druids are able to change into animal forms, snare their foes with roots or harden their skin like tree bark.
Their warriors are not to be taken lightly either. The night elves are among the most deadly adversaries to be found anywhere, due to a combination of their proficient skill with a bow, their stunning agility, and the ability to melt away into the shadows of the night. Few use common weapons such as swords, most preferring the mighty glaives (triple-bladed swords) they have grown accustomed to. War panthers, hippogryphs and even the mighty chimaeras and mountain giants have all been known to aid the night elves in battle.
For ten thousand years, all night elven war and "foreign policy" has been based solely on the safety of Ashenvale Forest and Mount Hyjal from outside incursion. The Sentinels, hidden safely among Ashenvale's leafy trees, effectively sealed off the region from unwanted interference for ten millennia. The Sentinel's method of deterrence was successful until the invasion of the Legion-endorsed Scourge; at which point the night elves were forced to awaken the Druids and accept aid from the Alliance and the Horde.
Night elven society has changed since the battle of Mount Hyjal, and the Sentinels now function in an entirely different manner. As the Burning Legion threat has been averted, at least for now, the night elves are no longer considered in a state of war. However, many Sentinels and druids have begun to hunt down and kill Warsong Orcs, as a result of their operations in Ashenvale, and the death of Cenarius.
Night elves are imposing in stature, males being on average 7 feet tall. Male kaldorei are very muscular, with broad chests and shoulders, indicative of the strength that lies within both their minds and bodies. Female night elves are lithe and curvaceous, yet still muscular and strong. The race’s prominent eyebrows, long pointed ears and natural aspects imply a feral grace. Skin tones range from pale white to blue or even ruddy red, and their hair ranges in color from bright white to woodland green to lustrous black.
Night elves have skin colored subtle shades of purple ranging from dark to light, and from almost blue to bright pink. Their hair ranges from blue, green, dark violet, white or black (though black is not an option to players, numerous E3 posters picture night elves as dark haired). Female night elven eyes glow blue while male's eyes have an amber glow to them. For the most part, they are suited to quick and deadly combat.
While gathering lumber from Ashenvale for Thrall's war effort, Grom Hellscream, unaware of the night elves' identity, remarked that they looked "like elves, but they're far too tall, and far more savage".
Night elf males are very tall, range between 6'6" and 7'6", with broad shoulders and a lithely muscular torso whereas females are far more slender. The men are typically of a slim-waisted yet firm, muscular build including long, muscular arms and large hands. The women are quite different, standing between 6'2" and 7' 2" in height. According to the WoW game manual, having a slim, athletic build. Unlike most other elves, night elf men often have thick beards and bushy eyebrows.
Among night elves, amber-colored eyes, as opposed to the traditional silver, are a sign of inherent druidic potential and/or a night elf destined for greatness. Among the class-obsessed night elves who lived prior to the War of the Ancients, amber eyes were rare, and thus viewed as a sign of underlying greatness. Queen Azshara and Illidan Stormrage, both extremely powerful sorcerers, had amber eyes. The night elves became vastly more egalitarian since the War's end, abandoning their former obsession with bloodlines, and thus, amber eyes are now far more common. In addition, druidism spread throughout night elven society, and many night elves develop amber eyes after birth if they practice the art.
Though amber eyes are a sign that the individual has a natural ability for druidic magic, it does not mean that all amber-eyed night elves become druids, or that silver-eyed night elves are unable. Malfurion Stormrage himself was born with silver eyes, and developed amber eyes only after studying druid magic. His own brother, though born with amber eyes, lacked the patience to succeed in the art.
In-game, all male night elves have golden eyes while all female have silver ones. This is purely graphical and does not have any effect on gameplay or class choices.
The symmetrical markings worn by many night elf females do have some meaning. The tattooing "mark[s] an earlier rite [sic] of passage". It is yet not clear what the rite of passage consists of, or whether the act of tattooing itself is the rite of passage.
The night elves are members of the Alliance, but they are not the most trusted or highly regarded members of this group of races. Although honorable and just, the night elves’ natural distrust has tainted their relations somewhat. Traditionalists and supremacists within Night Elven society, such as the Archdruid Fandral Staghelm have shown great mistrust in what they consider "lesser races". Combined with their mystical appearances and mysterious natures, interactions with other races become uncomfortable at times. There is a strong streak of isolationism in the kaldorei, for they are uncomfortable leaving the verdant mists of Teldrassil. Still, the night elves’ leaders see wisdom in an alliance with the younger races. The younger races show potential, and because of this the night elves see themselves as observers, waiting to step in to correct any dangerous mistakes. In addition, the other races possess one quality the night elves have been missing for some time: excitement. Adventure and exotic locales now have appeal to novice night elves. The kaldorei have more than a few among them who have braved leaving the forest to seek out fortune and intrigue in far-off lands. Their hatred of orcs has also fueled their participation in the Alliance. After the death of Cenarius during the Third War, many sentinels, druids and warrior night elves began a great hunting of orcs as a repayment for Cenarius’ murder.
Their political trend towards isolationism, a lack of intimate involvement in Alliance politics, would indicate that kaldorei ties with the Alliance are not significant overall. Most roles they play in the presence of other Alliance members focus around the elements of protection and restoration. For example, in the Plaguelands the kaldorei make it their mission to cleanse and restore life to the land, whereas the other races focus primarily on eradicating the scourge threat. In Northrend, night elves can be seen tending the trees spread throughout the grounds of the Argent Tournament. The general racial inhibition to involve themselves in the folds of Alliance politics does not always apply, however, and various exceptions to the rules can be made. On the same Argent Tournament grounds, night elf champions stand ready and proud to take on any jousters willing to challenge them.
Notable night elves
|High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind||High priestess of Elune, Head of the night elf government||Alive||Temple of the Moon, Darnassus||Kaldorei, Sentinels, Elune, Alliance|
|Archdruid Malfurion Stormrage||Archdruid of the night elves, Arch-druid of the Moonglade||Alive||Emerald Dream||Sentinels, Cenarion Circle, Druids, Alliance|
|Illidan Stormrage||"The Betrayer". Lord of Outland, Master of the Black Temple||Deceased (lore); Killable (WoW)||Temple Summit, Black Temple||Himself, (formerly Burning Legion and Kaldorei)|
|Archdruid Fandral Staghelm||Leader of the Cenarion Circle in Malfurion's absence.||Alive||Cenarion Enclave, Darnassus||Cenarion Circle, Druids, Alliance|
|Valstann Staghelm||Military Leader during the War of the Shifting Sands, killed by Rajaxx. Son of Fandral Staghelm.||Deceased||Unknown||Cenarion Circle|
|Sentinel General Shandris Feathermoon||Commander of the Sentinel Army. Close personal friend of Tyrande Whisperwind.||Alive||Feathermoon Stronghold, Feralas||Sentinels, Alliance|
|Warden Maiev Shadowsong||Leader of the Watchers and Illidan Stormrage's former jailor. Ex-priestess of Elune.||Unknown||Warden's Cage, Shadowmoon Valley or Temple Summit, Black Temple||Watchers, Elune|
|Lieutenant Naisha||First lieutenant of Warden Maiev Shadowsong. Killed by Illidan Stormrage in the Tomb of Sargeras.||Deceased||Unknown||Watchers, Elune|
|Captain Jarod Shadowsong||Ex-captain of Suramar. Leader of the Kaldorei Resistance after Stareye's death in the War of the Ancients.||Alive||Unknown||Sentinels, Kaldorei Resistance, Guardians of Hyjal|
|Lord Kur'talos Ravencrest||Heroic noble and general during the War of the Ancients. Master of Black Rook Hold.||Deceased||Unknown||Kaldorei Resistance|
|Lord Desdel Stareye||Raventcrest's Lieutenant by nobility. Took command after his Lord's death.||Deceased||Unknown||Kaldorei Resistance|
|Queen Azshara||Former ruler of the night elves. Transformed and mutated during the Sundering. Currently ruler of the Naga.||Eternal||Nazjatar||Old Gods (presumed), Quel'dorei, formerly the Burning Legion|
|Lady Vashj||Former member of the Highborne caste. Mutated into Naga. Powerful sea witch and ally of Illidan Stormrage.||Deceased (lore); Killable (WoW)||Serpentshrine Cavern||Queen Azshara, Illidan's forces|
|Lord Xavius||Former member of the Highborne caste and High Councilor of Queen Azshara. Transformed by Sargeras into the first Satyr.||Eternal||Emerald Dream||Old Gods (presumed), Formerly Burning Legion, Queen Azshara|
|Dath'Remar Sunstrider||Former member of the Highborne caste. Exiled from Kalimdor and transformed to one of the first high elves.||Deceased||Unknown||Kaldorei Resistance, Quel'Thalas, formerly Queen Azshara|
|Broll Bearmantle||Powerful Druid, fought valiantly in the Third War, friend of Varian Wrynn. Member of the New Council of Tirisfal.||Alive||Unknown||Alliance, New Council of Tirisfal, formerly Crimson Ring|
Night elf factions and allies
Throughout the extensive history of the night elves they have garnered support from many different kinds of creatures on Kalimdor and more recently the Worgen of Gilneas
- Farstriders of Ashenvale Forest
- Ancients and treants
- Dryads and keepers of the grove
- Chimaera s
- Faerie dragons
- Some furbolgs
- Some mountain giants
- Some dark trolls (Shadowtooth clan)
It has never been officially stated whether or ancient or elder kaldorei will continue to live the average lifespan of a night elf now that their immortality has faded. Though as Staghelm and Tyrande continue to live in what can be assumed good health, we can make an assumption that most venerable kaldorei will live, along with all kaldorei, the remainder of their normal lifespan after the destruction of the World Tree.
Pregnancy and Fertility
The lack of presence of kaldorei children has led some to believe that birth within the Night Elves' society to be a rare occurrence. This is quite contradicting to the blessing of nature that the kaldorei have received.
Interestingly, it could be argued that the kaldorei have a similar stance to mating and producing offspring to the dwarves, being that they see no reason to have children often, and do so every few centuries. This likely subject to change since the loss of their immortality. Indeed, in more recent Feast of Winter Veils, it is not unusual to spot night elf children visiting Greatfather Winter in Ironforge.
It has been stated due to traditional gender roles the vast majority of Night elf males became druids. Since the druids entered the Emerald Dream for 10,000 years of sleep, and comprised the vast majority of the Night Elf male population their sleeping would have meant the active breeding population of society was devastated. So the only active breeding population was equivalent to the couple vast minority of males leading to a very small birth rate.
- Night elves are the only race that can front flip.
- The night elves were originally based on the Drow from the various Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings. The gender divisions (warrior and ruler women and magically-inclined men), darker-hued skins, and a very powerful goddess are the only elements of this that survive.
- The night elves were actually referenced several times in Warcraft lore long before their unveiling as the fourth race in Reign of Chaos. There is a reference to dark elves in Day of the Dragon and a reference to the history of the "kaldorei" in Lord of the Clans. Medivh actually narrates the story of the kaldorei, the Well of Eternity and the War of the Ancients to Khadgar in The Last Guardian (published before the unveiling of the night elves), as a warning against magocratic arrogance.
- One of the male jokes is "Who wants to live forever". This is a Queen song written for the movie Highlander, in which the last immortal being of good must battle an equal force of evil for "The Prize" — ironically, mortality — which is what the night elves receive in the destruction of Nordrassil.
- The architecture of the night elves, according to an interview with Chris Metzen, draws its influences from both Nordic and Japanese building style. This is most obviously apparent in the night elf city of Darnassus, which includes several tower buildings in the style of the Pagoda at Yakushi-ji (薬師寺).
- The male night elf's dance is based on Michael Jackson's Billie Jean.
- Alizée's dance from "J'en Ai Marre" was the influence for the night elf female dance.
- All night elf guards are female unlike guards for most other races of Azeroth. On an interesting note, all blood elf guards happen to be male.
- The Night Elves appear to be almost the exact opposite of the Blood Elves and differ in somewhat ironic ways: while the Night Elves' beliefs are linked to the Moon, the Blood Elves' beliefs are linked to the Sun. While literally all Night Elf guards are female, all Blood Elf guards are male.
- ^ a b c World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 174
- ^ a b c d e World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 38.
- ^ a b World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Class combinations (JPG). Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved on 2010-01-31.
- ^ a b c d e f g h The Warcraft Encyclopedia - Night Elves. Retrieved on 2009-05-11.
- ^ World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Media. Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved on 2010-01-31.
- ^ a b c The Warcraft Encyclopedia - Sentinels. Retrieved on 2010-01-31.
- ^ a b c The Warcraft Encyclopedia - Cenarion Circle. Retrieved on 2010-01-31.
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 38-39.
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 39.
- ^ [[Stormrage]
- ^ Lands of Mystery, pg. 22
- ^ Warcraft: Legends Volume 3, I Got What Yule Need
- ^ The Art of Warcraft, pg. 58
- ^ Day of the Dragon, 160