The Wrath trailer & our tragic ties to Arthas (RP)

(Part 2 of 4 of a series of lore-related posts inspired by the Cataclysm trailer)

I urge you to take a few minutes and rewatch the first video (the Wrath cinematic trailer) and play the second video (the "Invincible" Battlecry Mosaic song) when you get to it, for effect.



My son...

The day you were born, the very forests of Lordaeron whispered the name...Arthas.

My child, I watched with pride as you grew into a weapon of righteousness.

Remember, our line has always ruled with wisdom, and strength.

And I know you will show restraint when exercising your great power.


But the truest victory, my son, is stirring the hearts of your people.

I tell you this, for when my days have come to an end...

You shall be King.


While writing the previous post about the Cataclysm trailer, I went back and watched the trailers for the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King for comparison. I have always loved the Wrath trailer, and while re-watching it I wondered just what about it so greatly appealed to me. Was it the lore? Terenas' hauntingly twisted words? The feeling of finality and closure? Or maybe it was simply the incredible, poignant music.

As I watched Arthas raise that incredible bitch Sindragosa from the ice, revelation suddenly struck like a thunderbolt. The reason the Wrath trailer had such a deep impact on me was because we are in it.

Set against the backdrop of his son's latest act of foul necromancy, Terenas' loving speech - full of warmth and love, and clearly spoken (or possibly written) in earlier, happier days - is heartbreaking and bitterly ironic. It's beautifully tragic, and one cannot help but feel sympathy for poor Terenas, a proud, caring father who had no idea his son would eventually commit such horrific crimes.

However, his role in the trailer takes on an entirely new meaning when you consider Terenas' perspective. As Arthas' father, Terenas watched Arthas grow, develop and mature from an inexperienced, brash youth to a heroic Champion of the Light. But he was not the only one. Someone else was there to witness Arthas' greatest moments, to revel in his joy, to share his pain.

That other person, is of course...us.



During the events of Warcraft III (and its expansion, The Frozen Throne) we as players guided Arthas like a son along his fated path, watching as his convictions were challenged and as countless foes fell before his might. But while Terenas was not there to actually witness his son slowly, gradually succumb to dark temptation and madness, and plummet farther and farther into the Lich King's clutches...we were.

In fact, we did not simply observe these events, we showed him the way. WE purged Strathholme, using Arthas as our implement. Arthas didn't burn his army's boats to maroon his sailors in Northrend - we did. And it was at our command that he drew Frostmourne from its icy tomb, forever dooming the young Prince of Lordaeron to his cruel fate.

Azeroth's historians may blame Arthas' fall from grace on Kel'Thuzad, Mal'Ganis, or the Burning Legion. But we know the truth. These forces may have laid the stones, but it wasn't any necromancer or demon who walked Arthas down that dark road. It was us. It was our hands that turned Arthas into the monster he is today.

And now, just as Terenas has waited long years trapped within Frostmourne for a chance to rescue his son, or failing that, to avenge his soul, so too have we waited. Through the emergence of Elemental Lords, the discovery of fearsome troll empires, and the exploration of other-worldly, alien lands, the specter of Arthas has always loomed in our memory, his story unfinished, uncertain...and unresolved.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Wrath of the Lich King trailer was received with excitement and anticipation by many players who had deep emotional motivations for finally putting an end to Arthas. This wasn't just a new raid boss or some evil Old God out to destroy the world - this was Arthas. OUR Arthas. After years of pondering the fate of the human boy we lifted to such heights, and then cast down to such depths, now we knew. Finally we would able to close the book on this tragic saga, redeem ourselves for our past mistakes, and lay Arthas' tortured soul to rest.

We caused his downfall...it's only right that we be the ones to end his torment.

We owe it to him.

Farewell, Prince Arthas Menethil, son of Lordaeron, our champion. You deserved better than what you received at our hands.

10 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar
    Redbeard

    In the case of Arthas, I'm reminded of the old line "We have seen the enemy, and it is us."

    October 20, 2010 at 5:41 AM

  2. gravatar
    Shintar

    Interesting perspective. Maybe this is why I, as someone who hasn't played any Blizzard games except WoW, got so tired of all the hype surrounding Arthas this expansion. For me he was just another raid boss.

    I do kind of wonder how much of the current playerbase has actually played the old Warcraft games. Considering that the last one came out over seven years ago, probably fewer than you'd think...

    October 20, 2010 at 7:19 AM

  3. gravatar
    Poneria

    I, too, haven't played WC III or WC III: TFT. But there's always this one line in the cinematic that hits me now: "But the truest victory, my son, is stirring the hearts of your people."

    Well, he did that, didn't he? He stirred all those millions of raiders to come kick his ass, right? I keep seeing a lot of posts about this being the first time someone's killed an end-game boss during his relevant expansion. Now, I know that might be argued away by "easy raids" or the 30% buff.

    No matter, they managed to stick it through to kick his butt with Terenas.

    I'd say Terenas should be proud at least in one aspect.

    On a side note, why does everyone call Sindy a bitch and treat her with disgust? I feel sorry for her and almost want to give her a hug (despite her being a huge, frosty, spiky dragon).

    October 20, 2010 at 8:12 AM

  4. gravatar
    Redbeard

    I think the Sindy hate is because she's a tough boss to crack.

    October 20, 2010 at 1:00 PM

  5. gravatar
    Rades

    Very good point Shintar and Poneria, that it's very likely that a lot of WoW players haven't played the older games. I really did feel that the Wrath trailer was more of a reward for the "vets" than to appeal to newcomers, though. To new players, yeah he's just the next boss. But to the WC3 crowd, it really was like the achievement says: "Been waiting a long time for this."

    As for Sindy, there's a few reasons I hate her. Her voice acting screeching is agonizing. She's very difficult. And my guild suffers under the "Sindy curse" where our attempts inevitably fail from random RL emergencies mid-combat, sudden DC's, and other non-game mishaps. WE HATES HER!

    October 20, 2010 at 1:05 PM

  6. gravatar
    Rhii

    This is what I was trying to imply when I was saying that Arthas was *not* personal for me. I didn't play Warcraft 3, I really didn't have any idea what the Lich King was until Wrath came out, and all I knew about Lordaeron was that it was the wrecked city where the Undercity is now. I might have heard that the old king was killed by his son, or I might have heard that afterwards, I don't know anymore. I just associated it with a general pathos appropriate to a homeland of undead.

    There's a generation gap in WoW in more than just the I-played-Vanilla-oh-yeah-well-I-played-beta kind of way, and it has to do with how far back you go with the universe and the game lore. You're obviously an old hand, while I'm still a newbie.

    Arthas, not personal for me. Deathwing? Gonna be personal.

    I found the Cataclysm trailer intensely personal (although I seem to be in a minority on that one). When Deathwing was wrecking Thousand Needles I felt like he was kicking over *my sandcastle* a sort of mini version of how I think I might feel if I watched someone burglarize my house.

    October 20, 2010 at 1:50 PM

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    Lissie Beth

    I didn't play the old Warcraft games, and when everyone was so excited about Arthas, I asked: "Why's this guy so important?"

    I got told the lore, and I really got into it, especially when I saw the intro cinematic for WotLK.

    I think my favorite parts of WotLK are the quest/story lines involving Arthas directly.

    I had never paid attention to Arthas' story before, but I really enjoyed experiencing it in this expansion.

    October 20, 2010 at 1:57 PM

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    Rades

    I imagine, like Apple said previously, that Deathwing's personal destruction of Stormwind (is this actually happening? I don't know.) will be a major, major motivator/grudge factor. What a terrific game moment to experience! I'm a little jealous that the Alliance is getting this great hook.

    Myself, I couldn't really feel upset about him wrecking the Barrens or Thousand Needles because he wasn't doing it himself...it felt detached. I think my feelings will changes though, once Cata is live and I get the chance to talk to the mourning survivors in those zones.

    October 20, 2010 at 1:58 PM

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    Angelya

    The Wrath trailer gave me chills the first time I watched it, and it still does. Arthas was such a mega-villain, and it was my dream when I started playing again to get him down one way or another (which thankfully I've managed now). Let's hope Deathwing can live up to the legacy.

    October 20, 2010 at 10:19 PM

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    Anonymous

    I didn't actually play Warcraft 3 -- I was left cursing my antiquated (even then) Win 98 system while my boyfriend showed me the cinematics and I read up eagerly on the story behind them. Even so, the WotLK cinematic touches me, too, on a level that the Deathwing one doesn't.

    I think with this wonderful little essay, you've captured the true reason why.

    -- Maureen Lycaon

    October 22, 2010 at 5:59 AM