Vrykul (pronounced ['vraɪ.kʊl]) are a race of heavily Nordic-themed half-giant warriors native to the Howling Fjord, located primarily in southeastern Northrend. It is said that in ancient times the vrykul race inhabited the land, founding a vast and prosperous civilization. Suddenly one day, without warning or explanation, the vrykul race vanished, leaving behind only deserted villages and abandoned temples. Due to the encroachment of the Alliance settlement of Valgarde on their lands, vrykul have recently returned.
Led by King Ymiron, these formidable warriors have begun attacking Horde and Alliance settlements from the fortress of Utgarde Keep, not far from Valgarde. Vrykul motives and their whereabouts for the past several thousand years remains a mystery, though they have recently become allied with the Lich King, accepting him as their "Death God". However, a few vrykul have joined the Twilight's Hammer clan in the Twilight Highlands.
Vrykul are brutal in nature, and are served by worgs and a similarly mysterious race of proto-dragons. They practice a runic magic that even the most experienced wizards find unfamiliar. For some reason, they frown on manual labor, thinking it lowly.
The quest states that vrykul children born in a certain time after their gods "abandoned" them were "weak and ugly". King Ymiron ordered all those children to be killed, but events observed in the preceding quest imply that not all of the parents obeyed this order, instead hiding their children in order for them to grow up far away from Northrend. These vrykul largely migrated to the region that would later be known as Tirisfal, where over time, they gradually evolved into modern humans. As stated by Thoralius the Wise: "There is no extinct 'missing link' to humans as the Explorers' League proposed. The vrykul are the missing link. They are the progenitors of humanity".
A dialogue uncovered by Brann Bronzebeard in Ulduar lists the vrykul (along with the earthen and the giants) as "seed races", implying that they are direct creations of the titans as opposed to having evolved from some other race over time.
Vrykul appear as very large and muscular humans. Males often have beards.
A few subraces of vrykul exist. The only currently known ones are:
- Have stone or metal-like skin with engraved runes. Sjonnir The Ironshaper appears to be this type of vrykul. Iron vrykul serve the titan Loken, as well as his master, Yogg-Saron. They are not true vrykul, however, as Loken created them from a saronite/iron alloy and so they are more akin to earthen.
- Have blue skin and are covered in ice. They are adapted to living in the colder areas of Northrend.
- A fleshy variation, covered in green scales and barnacles; they are almost entirely aquatic. They come from an unknown location and attack the beaches of southern Northrend. Additionally in a chain of flashbacks beginning with  , Varkul the Unrelenting leads a huge army and claimed the then abandoned Ruins of Vashj'ir. Both he and his kvaldir were defeated by an army of naga led by Lady Naz'jar and Fathom-Lord Zin'jatar.
Three undead variants derived from vrykul stock also exist.
- Incorporeal undead raised from vrykul females. The inhabitants of Valkyrion aspire to this transformation.
- Vrykul brought to undeath that weren't found worthy by the Lich King. They are the losers of the challenge to "ascend" at Jotunheim. The winners are the Ymirjar.
An organization exists of both live and undead vyrkul.
- Not a type, but an organization of frost vrykul loyal to the Lich King. They are the winners of the challenge to "ascend" at Jotunheim, but for some reason has vargul members.
Clans and communities
- The greatest of the vrykul warriors die and go to the Halls of Valor.
- The vrykul seem to be inspired by the Einherjar (ine-her-yar, "lone ravagers/army of one") of Nordic mythology who were the spirits of warriors who died glorious deaths in battle and were resurrected to serve the gods at the time of Ragnarök. Unlike the Einherjar however, the vrykul serve an evil purpose.
- At the Blizzcon '07 WoW Lore panel, Chris Metzen said “The first time we started talking about these guys, there were probably six different things that defined them, right? They’re giant…dark…vampiric…barbarian…vikings…from hell, right? The list just kept going.”
- In Heroes of the Storm, one of Leoric's alternate skins will be of a mace wielding Vrykul
- It can be speculated that the birthing of humans was a severe side-effect of the Curse of Flesh upon the vrykul.
- It can be speculated that the disappearance of the vrykul can be traced back to the Sundering, if like the earthen they were greatly affected by the event and retreated to hibernate for thousands of years, and this is seen in Jotunheim and Gjalerbron where some of the vrykul are in a state of hibernation. The Tribunal of Ages hints that Loken put them in stasis at the end of his war.
- Although the vrykul are generally seen as an inherently brutal race, focused on nothing but violence, power and servitude to their king, there are several cases throughout WoW where a disobedience to power, whether it be king or magic, are seen, for example, during the quest chain in Howling Fjord which gives a possible explanation as to how humans came to be, a vrykul couple choose to save their "weak" and "ugly" child (as they were described by King Ymiron) out of what appears to be the same moral values that their human descendants would currently hold.
- As mentioned, Thoralius the Wise stated that the vrykul is the "missing link" to the humans. As this theory is worked out by the Explorer's League, the "first piece" is probably the Titans or/and the Earthen.
- The name vrykul might come from the Greek equivalent of the vampire, the vrykolakas (from the Slavic vǎrkolak). (The vrykul were originally supposed to be vampiric in nature, this aspect was later seperated and implemented as the Darkfallen).