A mysterious race of vastly powerful beings known as the titans arrives on Azeroth. They create two caretaker races to watch over and help reshape the world. The dwarves are placed in charge of maintaining the earth, while the sea giants watch over the waters.
Azeroth consists of a single, giant continent known as Kalimdor. At its center is the magical Well of Eternity, placed by the titans as a source of restoring energy.
Before the titans depart, they empower dragons to watch over Azeroth and protect it from anything that might threaten the tranquility of the world.
A race of feral, nomadic humanoids is drawn to the Well of Eternity. Known as the Kaldorei, they are transformed by its power and become strong, wise and virtually immortal. Unbeknownst to them, their transformation accidentally releases magic into the world.
The Kaldorei begin to actively study and practice arcane magic. They bend magic to their will and use it to build beautiful cities, craft artifacts and reshape the land. Some Kaldorei resist the lure to use the Well of Eternity’s power and warn others of the dangers of abusing it. Their warnings go unheeded.
A group of upper-class Kaldorei call themselves the Highborne and revel in the use of magic.
The Highborne slowly descend into decadence, obsessed with using the Well of Eternity’s magical energies.
The Highborne unwittingly attract the attention of the Burning Legion — a race of magic-consuming demons from another dimension. Unable to enter Azeroth’s dimension physically without assistance, Sargeras, the lord of the Burning Legion,
begins subtly to manipulate the Kaldorei nobles.
The Highborne open a portal deep within the Well of Eternity. This portal stretches between dimensions and forges a path from Sargeras to Azeroth.
Cenarius hears their pleas and calls the ancient dragonflights to defend Azeroth.
The Well of Eternity implodes in on itself, releasing a massive shockwave. With Sargeras’ link to Azeroth destroyed, the Burning Legion is expelled from the world and hurled back to their dimension.
The seas rush in to fill the void left by the Well of Eternity and permanently split Kalimdor into several splinter continents. A furious, unending storm of elemental energy rages above the spot where the Well of Eternity once stood. It becomes known as the Maelstrom.
Illidan Stormrage secretly creates a new Well of Eternity using water that he had stolen from the original Well. Malfurion is enraged when he finds out and locks his brother away in an underground prison.
The surviving Kaldorei, now known as night elves, abandon the use of arcane magic. They exile themselves in seclusion around Mount Hyjal and the World Tree and begin practicing a safer form of divine nature magic.
Malfurion exiles the last of the Highborne. The remaining Kaldorei weave a powerful enchantment and seal the borders of their lands in a protective mist.
The high elves create a new source of magical energy and call it the Sunwell.
The human tribes band together in the face of frequent raids by the forest trolls and form the first human nation, Arathor. The high elves are also hard-pressed by the forest trolls and enter into an alliance with Arathor, teaching humans the ways of arcane magic.
Human and high elf wizards convene and form a secret order called the Guardians of Tirisfal. The order’s purpose is to empower a series of individuals to wage a secret, never-ending war against the Burning Legion.
The race of dwarves awakens and emerges from the expansive titan-created city of Uldaman, located deep beneath the earth. They call their new civilization Khaz Modan.
The current Guardian of Tirisfal, Aegwynn, learns of a growing demon presence on the continent of Northrend. With the aid of dragons, Aegwynn tracks the demons down and defeats them.
Sargeras appears and challenges Aegwynn. Although she easily slays his physical form, Sargeras’ spirit secretly enters Aegwynn’s body and hibernates inside of her.
Aegwynn seals Sargeras’ carcass in a hidden tomb, buried deep beneath the Great Sea.
Sargeras’ second-in-command, Kil’jaeden, discovers another world ripe for conquest. The world is Draenor, homeland of the shamanistic orcs and the peaceful draenei.
Kil’jaeden contacts one of the most powerful orc shamans, Ner’zhul. Through quiet manipulations, Kil’jaeden starts to spread violence and savagery throughout the orc race.
Ner’zhul realizes the threat that Kil’jaeden poses and cuts off contact. Kil’jaeden quickly replaces him with Ner’zhul’s most powerful apprentice, Gul’dan.
Gul’dan gathers the most powerful shamans in the orc clans and teaches them how to communicate with spirits in the Twisting Nether. A pact is formed between Guldan’s followers and the dark forces of Kil’jaeden. Together, they create the Shadow Council.
The Shadow Council begins quietly infiltrating the highest political ranks in each of the orc clans.
Aegwynn decides to bear a child and pass the mantle of Guardian of Tirisfal to him. The spirit of Sargeras quietly infects her unborn son as he grows in her womb.
Gul’dan teaches the dark arts of demon magic to other orcs, turning shamans into warlocks and training them in necromancy.
The Shadow Council manipulates the clans into forming a single, unified Horde. Gul’dan coerces its leaders into outlawing shamanism and installing his warlocks as key advisors.
Kil’jaeden dispatches the pit lord Mannoroth to Draenor in order to bind the orcs to his will. Chieftains from each of the twelve orc clans are tempted by his promise of power and drink from Mannoroth’s blood, ensnaring themselves in the curse of bloodlust and initiating a slow corruption of their entire race.
Aegwynn’s son Medivh turns 14 and abruptly falls into a mysterious coma. Sargeras’ presence perverts Medivh’s mind and soul and bends them to his will.
The orcs give in to rage and attack their longtime neighbors — a peaceful race known as the draenei. Virtually unchallenged, the Horde easily defeats the vastly overmatched draenei.
The orcs track down the last organized forces of the draenei and finally conquer all of Draenor. The
widespread practice of necromancy finally drains Draenor completely, leaving the land dead.
With no enemies left to fight, the orc clans fall into anarchy and begin waging war against each other.
Gul’dan begins to explore the Twisting Nether with a projection of his mind. He desperately searches for new worlds for the Horde to conquer.
Medivh awakens from his coma-like state and finds himself a grown man.
Sargeras, working through Medivh, sends Gul’dan a series of visions, showing him images of a rich and fertile land ripe for conquest. The land in his visions is Azeroth.
Medivh creates a small rift between Draenor and Azeroth. The rift is initially too small for even a single orc to pass through, but it grows slowly.
Orc scouts enter the rift and begin exploring the lands on the other side.
A small outpost is gradually constructed in the disease-ridden marshlands around the rift’s exit point, providing a military foothold for the Horde in the new world. Known as the Black Morass, the marshlands are completely uninhabited and provide perfect cover for the Horde’s arrival.
Gul’dan manages to open a permanent rift between the two worlds. The Dark Portal opens fully for the first time, allowing the orcish Horde to begin its assault on Azeroth.
Initial battles do not go well for the Horde. Expecting an easy victory against a weak opponent, the Horde rushes to assault the fortress of Stormwind Keep, only to suffer a defeat of catastrophic proportions. Few orcs survive the initial battle.
Gul’dan invokes shadow magic to enshroud the Black Morass in a blinding mist. The mist obscures the retreat of the last remaining orcs and prevents the human forces from pursuing them.
The Horde is humiliated by its unexpected rout, and the tribes swiftly descend into turmoil. Chaos ensues, with factions blaming each other for the Horde’s defeat.
Gul’dan manipulates a ruthless dictator onto the throne of the Warchief. Known as Blackhand the Destroyer, the new Warchief rallies the tribes back together again and prepares them for a new assault on Azeroth.
Medivh sends Gul’dan another vision, teasing him with images of the Tomb of Sargeras and the power it contains.
The Horde surges into Azeroth again, decimating towns and villages and plundering everything in its path.
Durotan, chieftain of the Frostwolf clan, is ambushed and slain by rival orcs. The assassins leave Durotan’s infant son for dead, but the young orc is quickly discovered and saved by a band of humans under the command of Aedelas Blackmoore. The infant is taken as a slave and given the name Thrall.
Lord Anduin Lothar realizes Medivh’s betrayal. He leads a small band of gryphon-mounted warriors to Medivh’s tower and confronts the wizard.
Lothar slays Medivh’s body and destroys the spirit of Sargeras. Medivh’s spirit escapes, however.
Blackhand the Destroyer is betrayed and slain by Orgrim Doomhammer, a trusted general and close friend. Doomhammer replaces Blackhand as Warchief of the Horde.
Stormwind Keep falls before the full might of the Horde and is sacked. During the battle, King Llane is slain by one of Gul’dan’s assassins, the half-orcGarona.
Spies loyal to Orgrim Doomhammer capture and torture Garona. In agony, she reveals the existence of the Shadow Council and directs them to the location of Gul’dan’s warlocks near the ruins of Stormwind Keep.
Doomhammer dispatches his elite wolfriders to the ruins. They slay or execute most of Guldan’s warlocks and disperse the remaining members of the Shadow Council. Gul’dan pleas for mercy and offers complete submission. Doomhammer accepts and grants him mercy.
Lord Anduin Lothar concedes that the Kingdom of Stormwind has been lost. He rallies his countrymen and leads them in a desperate retreat across the Great Sea, eventually landing upon the shores of
The First War ends.
Gul’dan uses his powers to raise an unholy legion of Stormwind’s fallen soldiers and names them death knights.
King Terenas of Lordaeron offers the refugees sanctuary and convenes an emergency council to discuss the invasion. Together, Lothar and Terenas convince the others to form an alliance between the seven human nations and the kingdoms of the dwarves and high elves.
The Horde brings ogre allies through the portal from Draenor and replenishes its depleted ranks.
Afraid for the survival of his people, the trollZul’jin coordinates an alliance between the forest trolls and the orcish Horde.
The Horde pushes north, rolling through the continent of Khaz Modan and up into Lordaeron. The conflict is widespread and bloody, with large portions of Quel’Thalas destroyed by the Horde.
The Alliance makes a desperate stand and stalls the Horde’s advance. The combined forces of humans, high elves and dwarves manage to rally and push the Horde back to the ruins of Stormwind Keep. Gul’dan, consumed by his thirst for personal power, secretly forges an agreement with a group of demons loyal to Sargeras. They agree to help Gul’dan locate their master’s tomb.
Gul’dan searches for the Tomb of Sargeras and raises it from deep beneath the ocean. When Gul’dan enters the burial chamber, however, he accidentally releases a swarm of demons that kill him. The demons surge out of the Tomb of Sargeras and inflict great damage on the forces of the Horde.
Deathwing, an ancient and powerful black dragon, assumes the form of Lord Prestor — a young human diplomat — and infiltrates the high council of the Alliance. Using subtle magic, the dragon ensnares the minds of the human leaders and forces them to grant him the title of king of Alterac.
The Alliance pushes the weakened and disorganized Horde all the way back to the Black Morass, where the Dark Portal is located. Lord Anduin Lothar is slain during the Alliance’s final victory. The Dark Portal is shattered. The Second War ends.
Ner’zhul opens additional portals in Draenor and flees through one. The energies from the portals conflict and create a series of violent earthquakes and storms that tear Draenor apart in a catastrophic explosion. Its floating shards eventually become
Kil’jaeden captures the fleeing Ner’zhul and irreversibly transforms him into the Lich King, encasing him in a block of ice.
Under orders from the Kirin Tor, the conclave of wizards that rules Dalaran, Rhonin and Vareesa Windrunner free the imprisoned Dragonqueen, Alexstrasza. Three other dragon aspects — Ysera, Nozdormu and Malygos — are also awakened. Together, the dragons manage to defeat Deathwing and force him to flee.
Blackmoore begins instructing Thrall in how to fight. The young orc is a good student and quickly becomes an accomplished warrior. At the same time, he secretly learns to read and speak the language of men.
Kil’jaeden casts the Lich King’s icy prison into Azeroth, followed by a legion of undead followers. It comes to rest on the continent of Northrend, buried deep within Icecrown Glacier.
Thrall begins to fight in the slave pits as a gladiator and swiftly gains a reputation as a peerless warrior.
Thrall escapes from Blackmoore’s control and begins to search for his lost heritage. He learns of the existence of the Warsong clan — the only clan remaining that is undefeated by humans — and of its ferocious leader, Grom Hellscream.
Thrall defeats a disguised Orgrim Doomhammer in combat and earns his respect. Doomhammer appoints Thrall as his second-in-command.
Thrall, Hellscream and Doomhammer combine forces to raid the internment camps and free their fellow orcs from captivity. Thrall convinces them to reform the Horde.
Orgrim Doomhammer is slain in battle and Thrall becomes the next Warchief of the Horde. He turns his people from the practice of demon magic and reintroduces them to the abandoned shamanistic culture of their ancestors.
Kel’Thuzad’s Cult of the Damned infects Lordaeron’s farmlands with the Lich King’s plague. Uther Lightbringer and his Knights of the Silver Hand try to stem the tide of the disease, but fail.
Prince Arthas fears that the spread of the disease will tear the Alliance apart and eventually lead to the downfall of the entire human race. He tracks the source of the plague to Northrend and attempts to slay the Lich King. There, Arthas falls prey to a trap and loses his soul to the cursed blade Frostmourne.
The Lich King transforms Arthas into a death knight. He returns to Lordaeron, assassinates his father King Terenas, and takes charge of the undead forces.
Arthas finds Kel'thuzad's corpse and puts them in his father's urn, which was held by Uther, killing uther in the process.
Arthas then invades Quel'thalas, fighting the ranger general Sylvanas, Sylvanas fails to defend her beloved city Silvermoon. Arthas ressurects Kel'thuzad using the Grand elven Sunwell, destroying Quel'thalas and reviving Sylvanas as the first Banshee in the process.
Kel’Thuzad seizes Medivh’s spellbook from the city of Dalaran and uses it to summon forth the Burning Legion. Archimonde and his host of demons arrive in Dalaran.
The spirit of Medivh foresees the eventual downfall of Lordaeron and begins to manipulate events in order to arrange the formation of a last-ditch alliance between the mortal races on Kalimdor.
Guided by a mysterious vision from Medivh, Jaina Proudmoore loads several ships and sets sail through the Maelstrom to the far-off continent of Kalimdor. Simultaneously, the Horde steals several human warships and also begins traveling to Kalimdor.
Thrall’s ships land on a mysterious island chain in the Maelstrom and encounter a friendly tribe of jungle trolls. Thrall helps the trolls to escape from their sinking island, and the trolls respond by joining the Horde.
The Maelstrom scatters the Horde’s fleet. After regrouping on Kalimdor, the orcs encounter a race of wise giants known as tauren. Thrall dispatches Grom Hellscream to lead a group of orcs north and begin collecting lumber.
The tauren lead Thrall to the lair of a mysterious Oracle, who turns out to be Medivh. Jaina Proudmoore is already there, and Medivh introduces her to Thrall. Medivh warns both of them about the coming of the Burning Legion.
Night elf Sentinels respond violently to lumbergathering incursions by orcs into the forests of Ashenvale. The orcs, led by Grom Hellscream, respond in kind and engage in battle with the night elves. Cenarius intervenes and temporarily halts the Horde’s advance.
Mannoroth deceives Grom into drinking from a corrupted well of demon blood. The power of chaos grants Grom and his followers incredible strength and near invulnerability. The orcs strike back and slay Cenarius.
The night elves awaken Malfurion and the rest of the slumbering druids.
The Burning Legion arrives in Ashenvale, seeking the World Tree and the Well of Eternity that it guards.
Malfurion and Tyrande free Illidan from his prison. Illidan consumes power from a demonic artifact known as the Skull of Gul’dan and then tracks down and slays Tichondrius. However, the artifact initiates a transformation in Illidan, irreversibly changing him into a demon. He is banished by Malfurion for his actions.
Thrall’s orcs and Jaina’s humans join forces with the night elves in a desperate attempt to defend Mount Hyjal from Archimonde’s advance. However, the demon is too powerful and systematically destroys their forces.
The night elves sacrifice their immortality and imbue the World Tree with the spirits of their ancestors. The World Tree becomes empowered and lashes out at Archimonde with a wave of pure magical energy, destroying the demon and all of his forces.
The Third War ends.
Now mortal and possessing only a fraction of their old powers, the night elves begin the process of rebuilding their society.
Thrall leads the orcs south to the deserts of central Kalimdor. They found a new homeland, called Durotar, and begin constructing the city of Orgrimmar.
Jaina also travels south, sailing her people to the large, coastal island of Theramore. There, the humans disband their fleet and construct a new city in which to live.
Illidan awakens the amphibious race of naga and bends them to his will. He journeys to the Tomb of Sargeras, following in Gul’dan’s footsteps. Illidan manages to find an artifact known as the Eye of Sargeras.
Illidan travels to Lordaeron and uses the Eye of Sargeras to open a portal to Outland in the ruined city of Dalaran. A band of night elf heroes ambushes Illidan and tries to take him captive. However, he dives through the open portal and escapes to Outland.
The remaining high elf forces gather under the leadership of Prince Kael’thas Sunstrider. Craving magic, they follow Illidan through the portal to Outland.
In Outland, Kael and the high elves pledge allegiance to Illidan. Together, they seize control of the Black Citadel, a stronghold of the Burning Legion.
Arthas’ undead forces reach the continent of Northrend and approach the Lich King’s throne. However, Illidan’s forces return from Outland and position themselves around the Lich King’s tower before Arthas can reach it.
Arthas defeats Illidan in combat and dons the Lich King’s crown, infusing his body with the spirit of Ner’zhul.
Strange human forces begin to conduct raids against Orgrimmar’s outlying villages. Thrall empowers a half-ogre, half-orc beastmaster named Rexxar to investigate the situation.
Rexxar sneaks into the human settlement on Theramore Isle and confronts Jaina about the recent attacks on orc territories.
Admiral Proudmoore, Jaina’s father, arrives on Theramore with the remainder of the Kul Tiras navy and reveals himself as the force behind the recent attacks.
Admiral Proudmoore’s troops land on Kalimdor and engage Thrall’s Horde in a series of battles. The Kul Tiras marines lose badly and are forced to make a last stand on Theramore Isle. Jaina pleads with Thrall for mercy on the citizens of Theramore who are still loyal to her.
The Horde assaults Theramore Isle, slaughtering the Kul Tiras forces and killing Admiral Proudmoore. Thrall honors Jaina’s request and orders the Horde to withdraw, leaving Theramore damaged and in flames but still standing.
The non-aggression pact in Kalimdor between the Horde and Theramore Isle is tenuous at best, and tempers still run hot over the recent conflict. Both humans and orcs begin to expand across Kalimdor, settling in whatever habitable locations they can find.
Lordaeron remains loosely controlled by the undead, although a civil war rages between Arthas’ Scourge and Sylvanas’ forsaken. Demons roam freely across the continent, terrorizing what few human forces remain. Pockets of human knights
and dwarven warriors slowly gather in an attempt to regroup and initiate a counterattack.
Although Azeroth has been battered by bloodshed and warfare for years, there is still no indication that the turmoil will soon come to an end. Each of the mortal races begins to position itself for what could soon become the most crucial period of time in the world’s history.
Other dates given by Brann or within other documents, outside of the timeline.
For more than a thousand years, this battle is fought by the Magna Aegwynn, one of the last Guardians, until the close of the era when the dragonflights help her defeat and seal the demon lord Sargeras in an undersea tomb.LoC 20
The mighty city of Ironforge has served as home to the Ironforge dwarves for over a thousand years.LoC 75
Dwarves lived peacefully for ages, but three hundred years ago (scribe’s note — updated the time frame appropriately) they grew divided.LoC 67
Three hundred years ago Ragnaros’ arrival blasted this region, transforming it into the Badlands.LoC 68
Ragnaros’ summoning devastated the surrounding land 300 years ago. Since that time, the Searing Gorge has been the wasteland that it is today.LoC 79
The last fifty years have sundered the countryside and shattered entire nations. Once-proud castles and cities lay in ruins, and the ravages of battle have torn open the earth to reveal long-hidden secrets. From recovering artifacts lost in the battles beneath Khaz Modan to the catacombs that might have been hidden in the rebuilding of Stormwind...LoC 22
South and east Azeroth still suffers from the conflicts that ravaged it for the past fifty years.LoC 46
The mountains and foothills of Redridge were used as thoroughfares in the many wars in the past fifty years, but they somehow remained untouched while the surrounding regions suffered.LoC 51, 52
With all the rebuilding efforts in Stormwind in the past thirty years, the city has several notable structures.LoC 53
A friend of Brann's in the explorer's Guild has taken meticulous notes on every meal he has eaten everywhere in Azeroth for the last twenty years.LoC 25
...in the fourth year since the opening of the Dark Portal, Dun Morogh’s dwarves and gnomes joined the Lordaeron Alliance in the Second War.LoC 72
The Freeing of Alexstrasz occurred maybe a year after the Second War war ended.LoC 74
Gilneas does not allow anyone in or out, and none knows what has been transpiring there for the past ten years. Ten years ago, Gilneas was a cold, rainy place and it likely has not changed much.LoC 96
In the past five years, Duskwood has deteriorated at an alarming rate...LoC 46
In Duskwood...a pregnancy — human, elven or dwarven — has not been carried to term in two years...LoC 46
A year or two ago, Tirion Fordring was the Paladin Governor of the region now known as Western Plaguelands. One day they captured an orc warrior, Eitrigg.LoC 110
Timeline originally published by Blizzard in the Warcraft I manual (1994), with further dates established from the Warcraft II manual (1996), Beyond the Dark Portal manual, and Warcraft III manual. Also includes dates mentioned in the RTS games themselves.