Lore class is in session! As the Academy of Scholomance opens its doors for the very first time, Hearthstone players get the chance to experience one of Warcraft’s most iconic places in their very own way.
The light-hearted approach in which Scholomance is depicted through Hearthstone’s newest expansion adds a unique flavor to an otherwise very sinister piece of Azerothian history. Thankfully, the legendary cards introduced have their story to tell as well, and through them, we shall take a look at what really happened – or should we say is about to happen – to Kel’Thuzad’s school of necromancy.
For the sake of storytelling and because of the dual-class Legendary card system, we will move away from Lore of Legendaries’ traditional class-by-class format. Instead, we will tell the story of Caer Darrow, the Barov family, and a powerful mage from Dalaran …
Caer Darrow and the House of Barov
Just before the Second War, the Barov family was one of the wealthiest in Lordaeron. Back in the day, their domain included numerous cities including Tarren’s Mill, Brill, and Southshore. But for the patriarch, Lord Alexei Barov, this wasn’t enough. His greed for more and more power was only outmatched by his paranoia about the evil plans of rivaling families.
Alexei’s wife Illucia shared her husband’s sentiments, and together they tried to come up with the evilest of plans to expand their reign, but to no avail. Rumour has it that they fought regularly during the nights, thinking about looking into immortality and other immoral techniques to keep their status within Lordaeron.
All this happened in the headquarter of the Barov family, Caer Darrow, an illustrious keep on an island in the Darrowmere lake, located in what today is known as the Western Plaguelands, just east of Tirisfal Glades.
The Deal with Kel’Thuzad
One day, a mage from Dalaran entered Caer Darrow and wanted to speak with Lord Barov. It was none less than Kel’Thuzad of the Kirin Tor, archmage and member of the Council of Six, offering his help to the desperate nobleman.
What Alexei didn’t know though was that Kel’Thuzad already made a pact with the Lich King, one of the most powerful villains of Azeroth and leader of the menacing Scourge, an unstoppable army of undead. His immense interest in the twisted magic of necromancy has only been known within the borders of Dalaran, the city that he was exiled from after Antonidas, colleague and future leader of the Council of Six, found out about his evil-doings.
Kel’Thuzad heard about the futile situation of the Barovs, and offered them the one and only solution: Immortality. In return, the mage demanded that the Barovs would make Caer Darrow available to Kel’Thuzad and his necromantical studies. What followed may be one of the darkest chapters in Warcraft lore.
The Dungeon of Scholomance
Once the pact between Kel’Thuzad and the Barovs had been sealed, the necromancer relocated several of his most eager acolytes to Caer Darrow. Ever since it has been called the Scholomance, a school of necromancy and important outpost of the Cult of the Damned, Kel’Thuzad’s organization that directly served the Scourge.
In World of Warcraft, Scholomance was one of the first end-game 5-player dungeons. Back in the days of Vanilla WoW, it was considered as the hardest dungeon experience – and not only because of the complex gameplay needed to finish every boss of the dungeon.
When entering the dungeon, players could immediately see and feel what Kel’Thuzad has done to the Barov family seat.
One of the abominations that were in charge of turning Caer Darrow into the Scholomance was Doctor Krastinov, or as his victims called him, “The Butcher”. Krastinov was one of Kel’Thuzad’s most loyal servants and specialized in the fields of surgical necromancy. He drained blood off of innocents to use it as some sort of life elixir, and rumors say that he was the scientist who put together the very first abominations of the Scourge.
The master in charge of Scholomance during Kel’Thuzad’s absence was Darkmaster Gandling. Similar to his boss, Gandling once belonged to the Kirin Tor, and has followed Kel’Thuzad’s interest in necromancy.
From what players can see in Scholomance, Gandling looks to be some sort of wretch, not dead yet, but not very alive as well.
This theory is confirmed through his card art in Hearthstone now, and not only that: His armor shows heavy Old Gods influence – something we have seen in the Scholomance Academy announcement video as well. But why would Kel’Thuzad, loyal to the Lich King, mess with the Old Gods?
Unlike most mages in their lifetime, Ras Frostwhisper never went to Dalaran to become a mage under the Kirin Tor.
He instead learned the craft all by himself, only through books and other mages visiting Stromgarde Keep, his home, and eventually, he became exceptionally talented with it. That may be the main reason why he caught the Lich King’s attention, and thus he became one of the first members of the Cult of the Damned as a lich, hoping for even more power through immortality.
Lichs are magical miscreatures that appear as a ghost-like mages. Their souls are contained within so-called phylacteries, which appear once the lich has been slain.
In Scholomance, he initiates the higher-ranked cult members as one of Kel’Thuzad’s closest subjects.
We don’t know much about Lorekeeper Polkelt, one of the many mini-bosses in the Scholomance dungeon. One theory says that he once served the Barovs as some sort of family historian. His Hearthstone card art is the first official depiction of Polkelt as a living human – WoW players only knew him as a brainless zombie until then.
Just like Polkelt, Vectus is one of the mini-bosses located in Scholomance. Kel’Thuzad commanded him to research the possibilities of breeding dragons exclusively for the Cult of the Damned, resulting in the creation of the plagued dragonflight. For that, Vectus illegally bought black dragon eggs from a particularly greedy goblin. In Scholomance, Vectus is portrayed as a skeletal mage.
But where are the immortal Barovs in all of this? Well, Kel’Thuzad put them to good use: Located in the Barov Family Vaults, the second section of Scholomance, all three of them serve the Cult of the Damned, Kel’Thuzad, and the Lich King. Not only did he make Lord Barov one of the first death knights – he also turned Mindrender Illucia and her daughter Jandice Barov into never-resting ghosts.
Funnily enough, Jandice still uses her abilities learned from the Kirin Tor as an aspiring mage, creating multiple images of herself to distract her enemies.
In Hearthstone, two of three Barov depictions fit greatly – however, Lord Barov looks nothing like his death knight self of WoW’s Scholomance. Maybe we’ll find the reason for that during SA’s single-player campaign!
Hearthstone players know Lilian Voss already from the Knights of Frozen Throne expansion. And while her inclusion back then seemed somewhat random, Lilian plays a starring role in WoW’s Scholomance – or at least in the revamped version that has been released during the Mists of Pandaria version.
In “modern” Scholomance, she serves Darkmaster Gandling as a mindless tool of war against all adventurers that seek to explore the dungeon. Initially, it was herself who wanted to assassinate Gandling, since she hated necromancers and everyone who was associated with the twisted magic around resurrecting the dead against their will – a fate that she experienced first-hand. However, she didn’t like her current self and her kin, the Forsaken, either, so she basically turned into a lawless vigilante, fueled by the endless hate against the Scarlet Crusade, her father, the Forsaken, and the Cult of the Damned.
In the Scholomance encounter against her, players eventually free her from the spell of the necromancer, and Lilian begs for a quick death. But that death doesn’t come, and players have been wondering ever since what happened to the incredibly interesting character. Years later, Lilian reappears in World of Warcraft lore as a character involved in the happenings around the Rogue Order Hall in WoW’s Legion expansion. Since then, she turned towards her people, the Forsaken, again, and now she even supports the undead after Sylvanas’ betrayal during Battle for Azeroth.
What’s incredibly interesting though is that, just like many other characters, Lilian is portrayed as a fully intact human – and a member of the Scarlet Crusade! Her attire gives away her affiliation to the fanatical organization that worships the light and – much more importantly – wants to completely destroy everything that doesn’t do exactly that.
Her Deathrattle effect summons Forsaken Lilian, telling the story of Lilian’s death – a story that has never been told before in Warcraft! Rumors had it that she died a terrible death fighting for the Scarlet Crusade, but getting killed and resurrected in Scholomance, trying to stop Kel’Thuzad’s plans, certainly sounds like a very Warcraft way to become one of the Forsaken’s most important characters of today’s lore.
If you want to read more about Lilian Voss, you can also check out my Wowhead lore guide about her!
Similar to Lilian Voss, Professor Slate has been added to Scholomance with Mist of Pandaria’s revamp. After defeating him in his mini-boss encounter, you could obtain a buff that damages Scholomance’s enemies through drinking one of his acids.
As one of the few creatures, Rattlegore serves to showcase the true power of Kel’Thuzad’s necromancy studies. The bone golem really is a result of its surroundings and most likely created through the combined power of the resident lich mages.
Turalyon, the Tenured
There is always the inclusion of this one legendary card that makes almost no sense when looking at canonical Warcraft lore, and this time it is Turalyon, the Tenured.
How in the heavens could Kel’Thuzad lure Turalyon, one of the five first paladins of the Silver Hand, one of the purest living beings in the existence of the Holy Light, into teaching at Scholomance Academy? Maybe because KT is one heck of a manipulative servant of the Lich King?
Or did young Turalyon turn himself in as some sort of holy double agent to oversee the twisted rituals of the Cult of the Damned? Could being an assistant teacher at Scholomance have been Turalyon’s very first job before even thinking about becoming a paladin?
Archwitch Willow is one of my favorite legendaries in Scholomance Academy. We can’t be fully certain, but her character could be inspired by Willow, a Forsaken cultist of the Twilight Hammer located in Desolace. This cult worships the Old Gods and played an important role with the resurgence of Deathwing himself.
Just like many other characters, Scholomance Academy could hint towards Willow’s story during her lifetime as a necromancer and powerful warlock with a certain affiliation to the Old Gods – not least shown through her voidy shoulder pads, the Mantle of the Horned Nightmare.
Ace Hunter Kreen
As the only Hearthstone-exclusive character, Ace Hunter Kreen definitely receives an honorable “meta lore” mention – because this card is the annual world champion addition for 2019’s Hearthstone champion: Hunterace!
Thanks for the post!
Thanks for reading it! 🙂
no lore about shando wildclaw or speaker gidra?
I wish! They’re both exclusive to Hearthstone’s universe.
The only thing we could talk about is the term “Shan’do”, an honorary Thalassian title that elves use to pay tribute to their teachers! 🙂