'Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond' Features a New Cosmology Chart and the Broker Perspective
World of Warcraft: Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond
by Sean Copeland and Steve Danuser is a lore book that was set to release in the US on July 14. However, there have been widespread reports of delays, with the
for the book stating it is out of stock. We currently do not know the reason for the delay.
Surprisingly, some Australian fans still received their book, and
has given us permission to share some of the images she's posted of her copy to Twitter.
Important Note: Before we dig into these images, we want to remind our readers that the
Grimoire of the Shadowlands and Beyond
has a title that specifically centers the Shadowlands for a reason - it is written from the perspective of a Broker,
and will therefore carry the biases and prejudices of a native to the Shadowlands
With that disclaimer out of the way, let's take a look.
Shadowlands' Cosmology Chart
The most immediately interesting images from this book are the ones featuring a new cosmology chart. It's presented alongside the one featured in
World of Warcraft: Chronicles
, but there are some important distinctions.
The text alongside the charts explains the reasoning for these changes. The Broker author spends some time tearing apart the cosmology chart from Chronicles, making it clear that they, at least, do not consider the Titans to be an authority on the Universe. Amusingly, the Broker then goes on to introduce the Cosmology chart that was developed in the Shadowlands as the "CORRECT" chart, utterly oblivious to their own bias.
In the course of my research on the works of the First Ones, a living soul from Azeroth (who purported to be a scholar of some renown) showed me a tome containing an elaborately painted illustration she claimed to be an accurate representation of how the cosmic powers related to one another. I must say, despite the extensive training I completed in order to interact favorably with the moral races, it was all I could do to muffle my derisive laughter! Instead, I patiently asked questions about the origins of this so-called "cosmology" as if I were hanging on every rambling word from the scholar's lips. When I learned that this woeful miscalculation of a chart had been passed down through the hands of her world's titan-forged races, it told me all I needed to know about the absurdity of the tome to which she clung so zealously. Why, every word wtihin was chosen so as to look favorably upon the titans, as if the Pantheon of Order were the architects of a flawless cosmos! How typical of their kind to claim credit for that which they did not build but inherited. As has been well documented, the language of the titans uses the same word for "created" as it does for "Ordered." Such blatant hubris!
I briefly considered sharing with this self-styled scholar our own cosmology, painstakingly researched by the finest minds of our combined cartels, designed to impartially relate the foundational truths of the cosmos. In the end, I realized the mortal would fail to grasp its subtelties, so rather than waste further effort, I thanked her for sharing her "wisdom" and sent her on her way. In the interest of completeness, I am including our CORRECT cosmology map here for reference.
With this introduction, the changes we can see in the chart make sense. Most strikingly, it clearly favours the powers of Death and - by extension - its opposite of Life.
While the differences between these charts are fascinating and have already lead to a lot of discussion, one thing that strikes us the most are the similarities.
Here are two charts, supposedly created by people from two entirely different realms, completely independent of each other, yet they both came up with the same basic framework of six opposing forces - Light and Shadow, Order and Disorder, and Life and Death. There are other similarities as well, for example, they both show Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit, and Decay, and line them up similarly - Decay is close to Death, Earth to Order, Spirit to Life, etc.
Ever since it was confirmed that the Chronicles were written from the perspective of the Titans, and therefore not to be considered irrefutable canon, there has been confusion about what, exactly we can trust,. How can we tell the difference between canonical truth and an unreliable narrator's biases? The similarities and differences between these charts seem like a good start.
One last thing we want to highlight is the comment that the Titans use the same word for "created" as they do for "ordered". There has been a lot of speculation about the First Ones, as well as about the Tazavesh lore books mentioning a seventh "primal force" or "fractal" that may have brought about reality by ordering the other six. Which brings us to,
The Brokers' Views on that Tazavesh Lore Book
The mega-dungeon Tazavesh contains several passages of a research report written by the Broker Al'firim.
Tazavesh Lore Book Speculation - Part 1 Tazavesh Lore Book Speculation - Part 2
The book's own introduction makes it clear that Al'firim was eventually labeled a heretic and a madman by his own Cartel, so it's no real surprise when the pages in the screenshot below confirm this. However, it does seem like Al'firim may be a bit of a contraversial subject, as the Broker author of
wonders if Al'firim was quite as mad as he's been made out to be.
While the evidence of the First Ones' wisdom is all around us, we know precious few immutable facts about these Progenitors. When they first walked this cosmos, whether they still do, or if the measure of their existence ended in ages long past—are all mysteries to which we have no answers. A fragment of a word here, a bit of geometry there—for all the vast knowledge we brokers possess, compared to the First Ones we ware like gormlings at the feet of the Winter Queen.
I can say with confidence that you, Overseer, must have been as intriduged as I by the promising intial reports delivered by Al'firim on his journey to locate the Sepulcher of the First Ones. The fact that he decoded any of the glyphs at all was more progress than has been made in many ages of study (though whether "zereth" is best translated as "keystone" or "cornerstone" remains a subtle, yet ongoing, debate).
The language of the First Ones seems to shift and grow as I find greater depths within it. I have no doubt that further meanings will reveal themselves as the glyphs and geometry of this fractal tongue become more known to me.
But sadly, as the trek dragged on and their search meandered from afterlife to afterlife and through the remotest byways of the In-Between, each subsequent dispatch from the Al expedition contained alarmingly less coherence. "The Mad Scribe" was how they spoke of him in the trade halls of Tazavesh. We have known others of our kind who have surrounded their intellects to the great mysteries, and as many cycles passed without further contact from the expedition, it grew even more certain that Al'FIRIM was destined to become another casualty of the fractals, a madman lost to a wilderness of inconguities.
The deeper I delve into the mysteries of the Progenitors, the less I believe Al'firim was as mad as his cartel labeled him to be. The Al seem all too eager to discredit the research they have achieved on his behalf and are quick to ascribe his disappearance to a seemingly troubled condition. While the popular opinion that the Al expedition met an unfortunate end is, I admit, the likeliest outcome of the various possible scenarios, I cannot help but wonder if this "mad" individual leveraged his unique perspective and succeeded where all others had failed: locating the Sepulcher of the First Ones. Rather than coming back to us empty-handed, perhaps Al'firim simply cannot yet return for the sheer volume of knowledge that has been revealed to him. The truth of this matter, like so many others, remains to be discovered.
The Brokers Do Not Trust Elune
In this screenshot, the Broker declares "beings of origin "cannot, under any circumstances, be trusted." Bold words, especially from a Broker.
One unique trait of these night elves is worth particular note: while most of their people's souls are borne across the veil as expected, certain night elves may also linger in the mortal realm in a soulshape they refer to as a WISP. It is this author's opinion that this phenomenon is caused by the soul's intrinsic bond with the magical nature of its home forest, thus creating a tether that allows the wisp to remain among the living. Though, it should be acknowledged, ,I cannot entirely rule out the interference of Elune, their revered deity, in this matter. As we well know, beings of her origin cannot, under any circumstances, be trusted.
In The Shadowlands, Death Isn't Death
The concept of death in the Shadowlands is a confusing one. Just recently,
Steve Danuser clarified
the difference between Necromancy as it's practiced in the Shadowlands, and the Necromancy we've seen practiced in the mortal realms.
Perhaps it should be unsurprising, therefore, that the actual denizens of the Shadowlands do not use "death" to describe both the death that occurs in the mortal realm - which merely causes us to enter the Shadowlands - and the death that can happen after that - which causes the destruction of the soul. They actually find our use of the word mildly offensive.
Of secondary concern is the difference in nomenclature that exists between our kind and the mortals. While we, of course, know Death to be the eternal force of magic woven throughout the very fabric of the Shadowlands and beyond, mortals have an entirely different—and shockingly obtuse—interpretation. They use the word "death" to signify the end of their existence within the mortal plane. My apologies, Overseer, if you find that revelation to be as distasteful as I do. But I fear that to accurately convey information on mortal perceptions, I must, from time to time, include observations from their own flawed perspective.
Mueh'zala and Bwonsamdi
The page about Mueh'zala details some of the history between Mueh'zala and Bwonsamdi, including chapters from the Night Fae campaign and the dungeon De Other Side.
Night Fae Covenant Campaign: Chapter 4 - Da Boss The Story of Ardenweald's Dungeons: De Other Side
Interestingly, the Broker author of the book does not appear to know Odyn's eye was used to create the Jailer's Eye, making this one topic where we, as players, are more informed than they are.
Chains of Domination: Chapter 3 - Focusing the Eye
Lore Spotlight: Odyn, Helya, and the Jailer's Eye
As I researched the funerary rituals of Azeroth's native populations, I learned that the first troll tribes worshiped numerous deities they referred to as loa. While these spirits of nature are, as we know tethered to Ardenweald, one among them possessed a spirit realm of his own, a place perched upon the precipice of the Shadowlands that the trolls referred to as the Other Side. His name was UEETAY NO MUEH'ZALA. According to stories passed down through countless of their mortal generations, he was a fearsome and vindictive god, demanding living sacrifices and brutal displays of reverance. Even after the conclusions of their mortal lives, Mueh'zala feasted unpon their fear and despair, hoarding these souls within his necropolis rather than allowing his supplications to pass on into the infinite realms of the Shadowlands.
As the ages passed, the primitive troll settlements gave way to a thriving civilization—one with little need for a loa whose only interests were cruelty and death. Clever as he was, Mueh'zala must have realized that a loa without worhsippers was doomed to fade into powerless obscurity, so he took measures to ensure his legacy would be preserved.
The loa appeared before one of his high priests, a loyal follower named Bwonsamdi, and offered him a deal. Mueh'zala would make Bwonsamdi his successor, giving him control of the Other Side and elevating him to be the trolls' new loa of death—one better suited for the changing times. In exchange, Bwonsamdi would continue to deliver a regular tribute of power and influence to his benefactor. Where the ambitious priest saw the deal as the fruition of his hard work, the loa saw a puppet unawware of the severity of the bargain he had just accepted from his new "boss".
It appears that this arrangement remained a satisfactory one for both sides until the breaking of the Arbiter caused all souls to plummet into the Maw. Rather than subject his loyal followeers to such an undeserved fate, it seems Bwonsamdi used his power to tether them to his necropolis, keeping them out of the Jailer's clutches—and away from Mueh'zala as well. Outraged at this defiance, Mueh'zala invaded the Other Side and held his former priest captive, until the crafty Bwonsamdi was aided by living mortals and was able to turn the tide and regain his freedom.
It was in the course of the ensuing battle (and by way of long, meandering diatribes spouted by each of the vociferous loa) that it as reveald that Mueh'zala had long been in league with the Jailer. It was he who had brokered the bargain with Odyn in which the titan keeper was allowed to peer into the Shadowlands and observe the kyrian, trading his own eyes to the loa in exchange for the power to make winged soul-bearers called Val'kyr. Why the Jailer desired to possess the titan-forged eye is unclear, and its fate thereafter is unknown.
Mueh'zala is, as of this writing, in Bwonsamdi's custody. Despirte this captivity, so long as Mueh'zala exists, he remains a considerable threat.
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