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Azeroth magic, plural Azeroth magiks or Azeroth magics, has existed on Azeroth since the titans created the Well of Eternity. The Well’s energies evolved the nearby kaldorei, who harnessed its power. Disagreements over magic divided the ancient kaldorei empire, and magic was at the heart of the Burning Legion’s invasion, which caused the first major war and split Kalimdor into the continents that cover Azeroth today. Magic has played a role in every major conflict in Azeroth, and was instrumental in the creation of not only the Burning Legion but also the Horde and the Scourge.
Does this mean magic is evil, however? Does it mean the Alliance stands against all magic?
Not at all.
The Alliance recognizes that magic is a tool. It can be misused, as it has been many times throughout history. But it can also be used wisely, to aid people and to minimize dangers and combat evil. Indeed, against foes like the Scourge and the demons magic is one of the only weapons available. The Alliance would be foolish not to recognize that and take advantage of it when their enemies are so willing to grasp the same power for their own purposes.
At the same time, the Alliance is wary of magic, particularly arcane magic. Divine magic is far more benevolent, coming as it does from well-intentioned gods or directly from nature. But arcane magic draws from the Well of Eternity, which was not part of Azeroth until created by the titans, themselves outsiders. And arcane magic is far more vulnerable to corruption.
Of course, the Alliance is not a unified front. It is a loose collection of like-minded races and individuals, each with their own beliefs and convictions. Each of the Alliance races has a different attitude toward magic, based upon history and hard experience.
Dwarves traditionally had little use for magic. They are creatures of earth and stone, and understand the physical far better than the mystical. The fact that elves are more prone to magic use (and abuse) may have something to do with the dwarves’ antipathy toward both that race and that realm — magic is strange and elusive and impossible to grasp and hold and measure, just as elves are sly and slippery.
This attitude has changed recently, however. As the dwarves discover more about their own heritage, they are re-evaluating their stance on the world around them. The titans were clearly masters of magic, having created the Well of Eternity. They also created the dwarves, which means the dwarves and the source of Azeroth’s arcane magic share a common ancestor. Does that mean dwarves might possess an innate gift for magic as well, thanks to this shared heritage? Perhaps.
The dwarves’ newly rediscovered history is also causing new interest in divine magic. The titans were majestic creatures, akin to gods, and supposedly they personally fashioned and breathed life into the dwarven people. That gives the entire race a direct connection to their creators, something that can easily inspire belief. More Ironforge dwarves have become religious recently as a result, either in efforts to communicate with their progenitors or as a way of following their footsteps.
Of course, many Ironforge dwarves still frown on magic, both arcane and divine. This is particularly true with older dwarves. These elders still favor steel and stone over magic, and disapprove of their children’s new fascination with such strange rituals. Over time, however, as more and more young dwarves not only study magic but grow proficient with it, this attitude will shift farther, until the race as a whole at least tolerates its presence.
Wildhammer dwarf culture is different from that of their cousins in Ironforge. Wildhammers live out in the world, residing in forests and mountains rather than in caves. They spend their days out under the sky and surrounded by animals. Though no less pragmatic, this lifestyle has left Wildhammers with a greater appreciation for nature, and a greater admiration for natural beauty, majesty and freedom. As a result, Wildhammers have always been more religious than their cousins, though their religion is nature-worship. Divine magic is well known and highly respected, particularly any magic involving animals, weather and air.
Arcane magic is less common, and most Wildhammers are wary around magi. Study is not a common practice among these dwarves, who prefer climbing and riding to reading, and any dwarf who buries himself in books is a matter for concern. At the same time, Wildhammers are more accepting of individual quirks and so more tolerant when one of their own wants to do something unusual. They may not understand why anyone would spend his days buried in dusty tomes rather than riding gryphons, but they will not force him to abandon his own interests.
The Wildhammers know their true heritage but they show no interest in pursuing it. To them, the titans are still only legends and myths; the world is their home, the sky their parent. This means the Wildhammers’ attitudes toward magic may not shift as much as the Ironforges’, but they are already more tolerant toward the arcane and more attuned to the divine; so the cousins may grow closer in their views rather than farther apart.
The high elves have a lot to answer for, particularly when it comes to magic. Some blame them for the Burning Legion gaining entrance to Azeroth, and thus for Kalimdor being shattered and the various races being dragged into war. If not for the elves’ obsession with the arcane, they say, none of this would have happened. Demons would not have gained a foothold in this world, the Scourge would never have existed.
However, these people misunderstand the high elves. High elves long knew that arcane magic was dangerous, and built runestones around Quel’Thalas to hide their arcane magic from the Legion. High elves also helped establish the Guardians of Tirisfal to further protect the world from arcane magic’s dangers — though, as all know, the Legion insinuated itself into the world anyway.
In ancient times, the Highborne simply didn’t believe that arcane magic could be bad. Today high elves are particularly susceptible to (arcane) magical addiction because of their magic withdrawal subsequent to Arthas’s pollution of the Sunwell. High elves created the Sunwell shortly after founding Quel’Thalas; since that time, all high elves everywhere could draw upon that powerful arcane magic.
They were bathed in power every second of every day. Some high elves never knew anything else: they had the Sunwell all their lives, up until recently. Now that the Sunwell is befouled, every single high elf suffers acute pangs of withdrawal and having a hard time of it. Some of them know why. Some of them don’t.
This feeling inspired the schism that created the blood elves, who far outnumber the high elves. Blood elves have a different set of priorities and behaviors than high elves and no longer consider themselves high elves. Still, an arcane tradition links the two races, and arcanists appear often among both.
High elves have held a long association with the Holy Light, as well. Though few become paladins, their priests proved invaluable in the Third War. High elves understand the importance of both arcane and divine magic.
The night elves are the opposite of their cousins, the high elves, in many ways, but particularly in their attitudes toward magic. After the War of the Ancients, the night elves recognized the magical addiction of their kin and pulled away from it, resisting magic’s lure and maintaining their discipline despite its temptation. They urged their brethren, the Highborne, to resist as well; but the Highborne surrendered to the magic, trusting their own intellects to control its flow. This sundered the race. Ever since, night elves have viewed arcane magic as, if not evil itself, at least as something too powerful for anyone to control. Those who study the arcane do so at not only their own risk but the risk of everyone around them, and it is sheer arrogance to think anyone could tame such a force and bend it to her will.
The night elves turned to nature and their Eternals for protection instead, and over the centuries they developed a deep and abiding love for the world and all its creatures. Night elves commune with the world, seeking to understand it, and as a result it is common for a night elf to become a healer, particularly a druid or priestess of the moon. This occupation is a high calling, and night elves revere their druids and their priestesses of the moon. Druids comprise about 8% of the night elf population; though some outsiders believe they rule the race, that is not the case. The Sentinels command the rest of night elf society (not including druids). Priestesses of Elune, who answer to Tyrande Whisperwind, direct the Sentinels.
Every race has its rebels, of course, and so some night elves believe they have been removed from the Well long enough to have overcome its lure. These young night elves believe they can study the arcane arts without fear, and finally master the skills that overwhelmed their ancestors, using the Well’s magic to repair the damage done so long ago. Most night elves consider this preposterous, and believe their kin have become high elves in all but name, falling into the same trap those cousins do and thus heading toward the same dire fate. Many night elf elders believe these misguided children should be shown the error of their ways by any means necessary, to save not only them but the rest of the race and even the world.
Despite their size and strength the furbolgs are a quiet, unassuming race. They live in small tribal villages and keep to themselves. Because they keep their lives uncomplicated and live so close to nature, furbolgs are closely attuned to the world around them, particularly animals. Every furbolg tribe has its shaman, and they are held in high regard. Because of this furbolgs have great respect for any divine spellcaster, but particularly for druids and shaman.
They believe the world speaks to its people through every plant and animal; those who learn that language are simply more blessed because they can communicate more directly with nature and thus better understand its needs and desires.
Furbolgs have little understanding of arcane magic, however. Arcane magic involves bending the world to one’s will, and that concept is antithetical to furbolg philosophy. As a race, furbolgs believe in living within nature, adapting to its demands and thus finding harmony with the world around them. Arcanists destroy that harmony, wresting control from nature and forcing it to serve them instead, and in many ways this is a gross violation. Because of this belief furbolgs do not trust arcanists, seeing them as either fools with delusions of control or madmen meddling with forces they cannot comprehend and should not touch. They also see arcane magic as a tool of the Legion, which corrupted many of their people. Those few furbolgs who study the arcane learn to do so quietly lest their tribes find out and punish them for such arrogance.
Gnomes are bright, curious, friendly people. They love questioning, love inventing, and love exploring — all of which makes them oddly suitable for arcane study. Yet most gnomes have too much humor and humility to become enamored of their own power, or to look down upon others. This attitude is a great relief to those who have seen gnome magi in action, because if they had the same arrogance as blood elves or ambition as humans, gnome spellcasters could pose a serious threat to the world.
Gnomes are far less likely to follow the path of divine magic. Most of them are too grounded in earthly desires and too distracted by spiritual pursuits to become devout, or even to pay much attention to the various Eternals and religious philosophies. Gnomes revere creature comforts and creativity more than nature or any particular being, no matter how grand.
Gnomes do not look down upon healers, however. In many ways the gnomes respect such people because they cannot imagine following such a path themselves. They can see the merits of a devout life, and the clear results of divine favor, but have no interest in pursuing such activities. Many gnomes feel that way about arcane magic as well — they admire the results, and respect the dedication, but are not willing to spend all their time in such pursuits. The gnomes tolerate magic, perhaps more than any other Alliance race, because they are content to let others follow their own interests. Most gnomes are not concerned about the risk of magi creating another magical cataclysm, especially since they are always ready to interrogate each mage, get his advice, and then deflate his ego and help keep him from becoming power-mad.
Members of the other races sometimes feel that humans could be their salvation — or their destruction. Humanity has demonstrated time and again its capacity for overpowering passion, levels of emotion far beyond what their allies consider seemly or even approachable. Coupled with this passion is a burning ambition, not just of an individual but of the race as a whole — humans wish not just to survive but to improve and to win. This makes them incredibly useful, incredibly strong, and incredibly dangerous.
Nowhere is human potential more evident than in the realm of magic. The high elves taught humans arcane magic and were astonished to discover their short-lived students’ capacities. Many human magi succeeded where others failed — and not because they were wiser or smarter, but because they would not surrender control. Yet despite this, humanity does not have the arcane addiction the high elves suffer. Some humans become obsessed with the arcane, but many want nothing to do with it and are perfectly happy avoiding all signs of magic. In the same way, some humans have no use for religion but others show a religious fervor unmatched by the most devout night elf or the most reverent furbolg. Druidism is more difficult for humans, because it involves quiet contemplation and a sense of one’s own inferiority compared to the needs of the whole; but some humans have the necessary concentration, consideration and calm and have become exemplary wardens of the wild.
As a race, humanity is fascinated by magic. More people want it than don’t, and even those who want no part of magic love hearing tales of its use and seeing demonstrations of its might. Humanity’s gift and curse is its youth. Many claim the race is young compared to its allies, and so humans as a whole have not learned caution. They listen to the tales of magi corrupted by their studies, and believe such a disaster could never happen to them. They hear about healers who lost faith and pity the other races for being weak or losing discipline. Humans believe they can overcome any obstacle, and do not understand that some obstacles are insurmountable by their nature. This arrogance gives humans a great advantage when daring some new feat, or striving against a powerful foe, but it also makes them overconfident and easily lured into bad situations.
Contact with the other races has slowly changed humanity’s attitude. As more humans learn both arcane and divine magic, and hear the advice and experience of their older friends, they see their true place in Azeroth and their true importance in the grand schemes of the world and its major powers. This may some day temper human enthusiasm with wisdom, and human ambition with responsibility. The other races continue to hope for this outcome, and continue to watch human arcanists and healers with a mixture of awe and dread.