The Emerald Dream, also known as the Dream and the Dream of Creation, is the verdant realm of the Dragon Aspect Ysera. It appears to those who travel within it as Azeroth would have appeared without the development of the sapient races, which means that it is what Azeroth would have been if not for humans, elves, and other intelligent creatures. In essence, this plane shows travelers what their world would be if intelligent races had not cut forests, farmed prairies, diverted rivers and built cities (and had Kalimdor not been shattered by the Sundering). It is a vision of the world as a verdant natural paradise. Tranquil forests stretch away in every direction, and rolling hills and majestic mountains mimic Azeroth's landscape.
Druids will be able to learn a spell which sends them straight into the Dream, since they spend much of their time hibernating there anyway. Everyone else, however, will have to get a quest. This involves defeating and cleansing the four green dragons who guard the five portals from Azeroth, but who are currently driven mad and attack anyone who goes near. Once a dragon is defeated, the player will be able to use the portal that it guards.
New Alliance Race - Furbolgs
Of all the races of Azeroth, the Furbolgs were among those worst affected by the Burning Legions attack on Hyjal. As the forests burned away so did the furbolgs sanity and before long most of the tribes had descended into madness. Of all the scattered tribes, only the Timbermaw, Stillpine, Bristlelimb and Barkskin escaped corruption. Each of these only survived by isolating themselves from the outside world - in Timbermaw Hold, Azuremist Isle and in the Barrow Deeps of Hyjal. For many years they hid themselves from the surface world, not knowing if the Legion had destroyed all or been destroyed itself.
The Timbermaw eventually ventured out into a changed world. The prisine forests which had once surrounded their home had been corrupted, turning the trees into stunted growths and the water into poison. So they were overjoyed when they stumbled across some survivors from one of the other tribes, but soon realised the terrible truth when they were attacked by their own brethren. For the survivors were of the Deadwood Tribe, which had been driven insane by the loss of the forest, and which now sought revenge on any creature they saw. They became mistrutful of any other than their own.
When the Stillpine, Bristlelimb and Barkskin heard this news, they resolved to see what had happened to their own territories and to restore them if they could. The Bristlelimb were delighted to see that Azuremist had survived relatively unscathed, but their jubilation was shattered by the sudden arrival of the Exodar which killed half the tribe and corrupted the rest. When the Stillpine followed them out they found radioactive crystals showering the island but were soon driven back by their comrades and were forced to accept the assistance of the draenei who had caused the disaster.
That left the Barkskin. Although the Burning Legion had ravaged Hyjal, they had not stayed long enough to cause permanent damage. Before long the forested peak was back to its pristine state. The night elven druids in the area were puzzled by this rapid restoration, since the furbolgs mostly hid themselves. But after diligent searching they stumbled across the furbolg stronghold in the depths of the Barrow Dens, and after sending ambassadors to Darnassus the Barkskin furbolgs accepted a place in the new Alliance.
- Starting Zone: Nordrassil - furbolgs start in the branches of the damaged World Tree, and have to take an elevator to the bottom. Quests mostly involve trying to cure it and at the same time stopping the remainders of the Legion who have infested the lower branches.
- 1-10 Zone: Hyjal Peak
- 10-20 Zone: Upper Hyjal
In this expansion the Hyjal zone from CoT is divided into Hyjal Peak (around the World Tree) and Upper Hyjal (further down and connected to Winterspring)
- Racial Capital: The Barrow Deeps
- Instance - Illidan's Prison. The families of those jailors that Tyrande slew to free Illidan have banded together to get revenge.
Nature's Call: +10 Herbalism skill
Strength of the Bear: +10 Strength and +10 Stamina
Feral Regression: Can temporarily acquire all the attributes and abilities of a bear.
Kindred Soul: Furbolgs start off as Neutral with Timbermaw Hold, unlike all other races who have to earn their trust.
- Warrior - Furbolgs are extremely tough and can deal massive damage.
- Shaman - They have a long tradition of shamanism reaching back thousands of years
- Druid - From shamanism it's no big leap to learn druidism
- Hunter - Furbolgs exist in a hunter-gatherer society, so hunters are essential for food
- Priest - They worship the bear demigods, Ursol and Ursoc.
To get to the rest of Kalimdor, furbolgs can take the road through Winterspring and Felwood, however this would be too dangerous for lower level characters and is too long for higher levels. Instead there is an Orb of Transolcation just like the one in Undercity and Silvermoon which takes the player to Darnassus. In additon the Barrow Deeps are only a small part of a vast cave network extending across most of northern Kalimdor. They eventually connect to Timbermaw Hold in Felwood and Azshara, and there is even a tunnel stretching all the way to Ashenvale. Naturally there are also plenty of aggressive creatures roaming these tunnels to avoid making the route too easy.
New Horde race - Ogres
The Emerald Dream
Recently signs of corruption have begun to appear in the Dream. The inhabitants of Azeroth can unknowingly influence it, and with all the death and destruction caused by the Burning Legion and the Scourge their nightmares have escaped into the Dream. What was once no more than a patch of blackened grass has grown to collosal proportions, and now the Emerald Nightmare is a roaming horror that corrupts all in its path. Neither the Green Dragonflight nor the druids are able to cope with this on their own, so to deal with the physical cleansing they have recruited adventurers from all the races while they work to find a lasting cure.
Neutral City - The Eye of Ysera
For countless millenia no mortals were permitted to enter this most sacred sanctum of nature. Not even the druids could pass the threshhold of the golden domes within, and any that tried were torn to pieces by the furious guardians. However, with the ensuing crisis the dragons are beginning to relax rules, and the valley that houses the dwelling of Ysera has at last been opened so that the adventurers may be tasked with battling the Nightmare.
Forests of Elune
What would have become the home of the night elves exists as a vast swathe of forest covering much of northern Kalimdor. Darkshore, Ashenvale, Hyjal, Azshara, Felwood, Stonetalon and the northern Barrens are all covered in it. Most of the night elven druids are located here as it reminds them of their homes, and they do their best to care for all living things. Unfortunately the Nightmare recently passed nearby, and thousands of crazed animals have fled here where they cause daily terror. The druids are unable to heal them, yet it is against their morals to cull them and save the rest. So they must rely on mortal adventurers to help them and restore the forest to its pristine glory.
The Shu'Halo Plains
The ancestral homelands of the Tauren, stretching from Stonetalon to Dustwallow and Mulgore to Durotar, and then far into the Great Sea. Its southern border is the River Feralas, which in Azeroth dried up long ago to form the great canyon of Thousand Needles. Once, thousands of years ago, the Earth Mother herself manifested here in front of the first tauren druids, and this became the basis for their worship of her. Still today the tauren druids practice the Great Hunt in reverence to her, and the Green Dragonflight tolerates it as a necessary part of keeping the animal population under control.
The Emerald Dream may be what Azeroth would be like without humanoids. However this does not stop intelligent life from evolving of its own accord, nor does it stop Azerothian life from influencing it through dreams. In theory the dreams of one powerful being could change the destiny of an entire species. The result is the rise of a second empire of Azj'Aqir, which has no connection whatsoever with the original empire save in appearance and culture. In fact they would not even know of the original if a foolish troll priest had not told them of it and made them feel the need to live up to expectations through world domination. For now they only control the southern deserts, including Silithus and Tanaris (the absence of Un'Goro is a major point which is explained through quest chains). But if they are not stopped soon their plans may come to fruition.
Much that once was has been lost. Much that was lost still exists in the Emerald Dream. Most important of these is the Well of Eternity, which was destroyed in the Sundering. However in the Dream its chaotic magics still pour forth in abundance, but without anyone to use them it is absorbed by the ground. The result is an area of land saturated by magic, making it extremely unpredictable. It is not unknown for the land itself to change shape, raising a mountain range where once there was a lake for example. At other times an entire settlement might vanish and reappear ten miles away.
The dragons quickly realised that this could be a source of temptation for many Moonguard-turned-druids. So, just as they had done on the peak of Hyjal, they intended to plant a World Tree. However no World Tree turned out to be big enough, so they transplanted G'Hanir, the Mother Tree, instead. Unfortunately the turbulence deeply affected G'Hanir, and before long it had withered and died. So they gave up on that idea and hoped that nothing would come of it. Later on when the druids rediscovered the Well the dragon's fears became reality. Nearly a third of the druids reverted to sorcery and now claim the Arcane Plateau for their own.
This is the region in and around Northrend, but it is completely different to what players would be used to from WotLK. Without intelligence to create warmth in certain areas just about all life has succumbed to the cold. Mighty glaciers descend from the mountains to cover just about all the land in impenetrable ice. With no way to feed the rest of the life ended up starving to death or migrating south. Such an environment, where there is no-one to foil your plans, is ideal for evil masterminds who would like to conquer the world, so it's no surprise that one of the Old Gods, after penetrating the Dream, decided to make his base here.
In Azeroth this was once the empire of Zul'Aman. In the Dream it is a stretch of woodland extending south from the Ice Wastes to include Lordaeron and Quel'Thalas. If it weren't for the Nightmare currently lingering in the area it would be quite pleasant, sharing many similarities to old Lordaeron in the days of peace. However, since the Nightmare has been here for several years and shows no sign of moving on, the woods have effectively become a haunted forest such as might be described in horror stories. An unwary traveller would be lucky to survive the first night, as it is at midnight that the true terrors of this land reveal themselves...
These mountains are actually made up of several smaller ranges, such as Khaz Modan in the north and the Redridge Mountains down the eastern coast. It's no coincidence that all the best ore bodies and rock strata are located here - it's in these mountains that the earthen would have been first placed. And the Titans wouldn't have wanted to leave them with no work to do. However, since the earthen don't exist here, all those metals are still inside the rock just waiting for someone to come along and extract them.
To the ancient Kaldorei these mountains were the edge of the known world - beyond was nothing but the Forbidding Sea. So it's only fitting that Cenarius, whose spirit was drawn back from the edge of death, should dwell here. All young druids are welcome here to receive his teachings, as are most members of other classes.
Before the founding of Stormwind, Zul'Gurub ruled not only Stranglethorn Vale but also the rest of the region as far as Redridge. And before the Sundering their empire was larger still - all the way to Tanaris in fact. Although not all the empire was rainforest, the jungle extended west and north for many miles, bordering the Arcane Plateau and the Silithid Desert at a point somewhere in the middle of the Great Sea. Wildlife here is as expected - big cats, crocolisks, apes, raptors, and most of the rest of the animals found in Stranglethorn Vale today. The jungle produces many plants that are found nowhere else, and the druids want to experiment with them to see what new properties they might have.
In this expansion there are two new hero classes - Keepers of the Grove and Blademasters. They are faction specific, so only Alliance can become Keepers and ony Horde can be blademasters. However any race in those factions can become one. Upon reaching level 80 the player can create either a Night Elf Keeper or an Orc Blademaster. To unlock other races the player must get a character of that race to Exalted with the Keeper or Blademaster faction.
Keepers of the Grove
The original Keepers of the Grove were the children of Cenarius, but when vast numbers of them were wiped out during the Third War they taught their skills to their allies in the hope that the Keeper way would live on. Guardians of all things growing, these powerful druids can integrate themselves into the balance of nature rather than simply take on the form of an animal like normal druids. While young they devote themselves to the study of a single beast of their choice and can eventually become one with it, spending most of their time in that form. They learn the behaviours and personalities of the beasts of their chosen form, and this enables them to better understand how best to mantain the environment.
The majority of spells are beast-specific, however there are a few which are shared by all.
- Sustenance - healing over time
- Absorb Essence - At the end of a quest Keepers recieve this ability, which can be used to absorb the essence of any beast. Once that is done, the Keeper can become that beast at will. The Keeper can change the beast at any time, but by doing so he loses any skills he might have acquired already as his previous form.
- Spiritual Call - summons a swarm of forest spirits to attack the target. They are individually quite weak, but there are so many that they will easily kill a target of a similar level within a few seconds. You have no control over them and once the last target is dead they turn on you, so it's best to get out of the way. This spell has a 30min cooldown and drains all remaining mana.
The first Blademasters originated among the orcs when they were corrupted by the Burning Legion. They began to acquire a bloodlust and before long desired nothing less than to kill in many painful ways. Although the orcs have now redeemed themselves, that bloodlust has never fully gone and now lurks beneath the surface waiting for an opportunity to unleash itself. Blademasters were some of the most skilled fighters of all, and in a society dominated by violence they rapidly became the Horde's war leaders. When the demons trickery was discovered they changed to sating their thirst for blood by slaughtering demons instead, and under Rexxar they played a pivotal role in defeating the Burning Legion during its second invasion.
Today the Blademasters are still honoured among the Horde, although they have less influence in politics than they did before. They specialise in dual-wielding weapons, particularly swords and axes, and when a Blademaster is given two decent weapons and an appropriate foe very few can stand before him and live. In recent years the art of the Blademaster has been taught to other Horde races, and now the new generation is ready to take on the mantle of their predecessors.
Blademasters use Rage, like warriors. However they also have Bloodlust power which builds up as abilities are used, and which when full can be used to trigger even more devastating strikes.
- Dual-wield Specialisation - all damage done by dual wielding weapons is increased by 100%. In addition the offhand weapon does full damage.
- Decapitation - Removes the targets head, instantly killing any humanoid, beast or demon, with the exception of boss mobs, and does 300% weapon damage to others.
- Challenging Roar - Will either force targets within 20 yards to attack the blademaster or cause them to run away in fear.
- Cloud of Steel - The Blademaster creates a whirlwind of steel, causing significant damage to anyone who comes near.
New Profession - Botany
Botany can be seen as being somewhere between a gathering and production profession. Botanists can collect herbs but instead of using them for alchemy they take the seeds and use them to grow more of that herb. In many locations there are allotments where seeds can be planted and once given water and food they begin to grow. Most grow from seed to herb in less than a week, after which they can be gathered, and multiple herbs can be grown at once, although only one type in each alottment.
Botany specialisations are Intensive, which focuses on producing as much as possible, Organic which produces better quality herbs, and Experimental which is about cross-breeding, unnatural selection and genetic engineering.