World of Warcraft RPG: Dark Factions - Luke Johnson Q&A

The World of Warcraft Roleplaying Game Line has been robust with variety over the past few years. Not only are they purchased by d20 system players, and RPG fans, but by Warcraft III and World of Warcraft players hungry for some Warcraft canon lore about the regions, culture, faith and races found everywhere in the world of Azeroth.

Of all the World of Warcraft RPG Books, besides the Monster Guide, the World of Warcraft RPG: Dark Factions has been the most awaited anxiously by fans.  This book has taken around three years to develop for various technical reasons. Fans haven’t been thwarted by this. Every month there was a discussion on the White Wolf Publishing forums: “When is Dark Factions coming out?”.  Fans don’t just want this book. They crave it with a passion. The reason?  It’s content.

With World of Warcraft RPG: Dark Factions coming out to bookstores (on April 30th, 2008), Blizzplanet contacted Luke Johnson (World of Warcraft RPG Developer) from White Wolf Publishing to discuss details of this Blizzard-Licensed product. Here are some of the questions submited by the Warcraft Lore Community.

1. First question. Why was the book delayed for so long?—by malcom_west

This book includes more new lore (at least, it was new at the time we wrote it), and the process of gaining and verifying it took some time. I wrote an article for about the process of converting the computer game into a tabletop RPG; it might clarify things a bit. You can see it here.

2. There have been a good number of inconsistencies when it comes to the RPG, RTS and MMO stacking up against each other. Will this RPG edition, since it took so much longer to make than the others, be specifically written to fit with the MMO better? – by Omacron

Our hope is that everything, especially in the new edition of the game, matches up with established Warcraft lore. One problem is that, at best, we write a book about 8 months before it hits shelves. Thanks to the fluid nature of video game development, that means that what we wrote down as accurate 8 months ago may no longer be appropriate. I suspect that most inconsistencies to which you refer are of this nature.

3. The WoW RPG seems to have slipped into decline of late. What used to be an interim of a few months between books mushroomed to over a year since the Monster Guide. What kind of steps were taken, if any, to reinvigorate the WoW RPG and, potentially, make it more relevant to players of the Warcraft video games and table top players alike?—by Nephalim

I’m hoping everyone will think Dark Factions kicks ass. Along with all the cool game elements, it includes new Warcraft lore, which isn’t available anywhere else (to my knowledge), such as the history of the goblin race.

4. The Monster Guide in particular, which was full of only in-game models with smoother edges and lines, was a great disappointment, especially when compared with the Manual of Monsters which had an art piece for virtually every entry, most of which was new. Does the development team feel the same way? Can we expect more of the same, or has art been given more attention in Dark Factions?—by Nephalim

I think the art for the Monster Guide was awesome. It all looks great, no matter where it came from. If we commissioned a hand-drawn piece for each monster, the book wouldn’t have been full-color, for one, and may have been sparser on content to boot.

All the art in Dark Factions is hand-drawn. I think it’s mostly from the UDON studio

5. Will each of the Old Gods be named? Including the ones already dead (like the one in Darkshore). How much of their past and present story will be featured?—by Tharion @ Earthen Ring

Dark Factions describes the Twilight’s Hammer cult, which reveres the Old Gods, but does not include much information on the Old Gods specifically. Blizzard controls how new information about the Warcraft universe is released, and they didn’t want us to include much Old God stuff in the book. I agree with them these beings are mysterious, and I’m sure Blizzard has much cooler ways of revealing this sort of information.

6. Since this is about Dark Factions, Will there be a module included, based on the Scythe of Elune, Arugal & the Worgen, and the Dark Riders of Karazhan story lines? If not, could you consider with Blizzard Entertainment and White Wolf Publishing a downloadable supplemental about them? They pretty much fit into the Dark Faction vibe.—by Drahliana @ Earthen Ring

The book does include a couple adventure modules, much as the Alliance Player’s Guide and Horde Player’s Guide do. Neither of them deals with the events and characters you mention. No plans are currently in development for a supplement of this nature… which means it’s up to the fans to make their own!

7. The Naga, Dark Iron Dwarves, Quillboars, and Satyrs already have Racial classes in the Monster Guide and the Murloc Racial Class is covered in the Lands of Mystery. Why the redundancy? How much new material are we getting here?—G-ForceTG and malcom_west

Each race of Dark Factions gets a full racial write-up of the sort that appears in the WoW RPG core book with entries for Description, Appearance, Region, Affiliation, Faith, Names, and Racial Traits. We felt that these races were some of the most important dark factions in the Warcraft world, and we wanted to do them justice by writing them up as full-on player character races. The racial classes associated with them are the same as those that appeared in the Monster Guide; but it would have been awfully silly of us to include the entire racial description and then leave out the racial class!

8. Will this book provide any real, new information regarding the New Lich King?

We wrote this book before any information on the New Lich King was available.

9. Why is there no Pandaren Culture and History in Dark Factions Chapter 6?—by SBulla

I imagine that a number of fans might look at the table of contents and say, What, they left out [blank]? Sorry about that most of [blank], whatever it is, is really cool, and I would have loved to have been able to include it. However, the issue is similar to that with the Old Gods: Blizzard likes to release some new information via the RPG books (e.g., goblin history) and some they like to release in other ways.

10. Will the Pandaren section in Dark Factions describe the Pandaren in Pandaria, or the Pandaren in the known world? I mean, Will we see Pandaria Isle’s new stuff like places, cities and more races, or just Pandaren stuff?—by Lon-ami

Uh, I think I’ll have to say pandaren stuff. The issue is the same as the above issue with their culture and history. But it’s cool pandaren stuff! Shaktani warblades! Pandaren wardancers!

11. If you have done history and culture on goblins in “Dark Factions” have you covered how they govern themselves? It is my personal belief that the only form of law they have is a signed-contract “break it at your own expense”. If they do have a government how do they protect from corruption? … which is bound to happen when your race is a bunch of crooks.—by Marshall

The book does go into detail on goblin history and culture. The culture section discusses various roles in goblin society, including information about corruption. I’m not sure if it
answers your specific question again, some information simply wasn’t available when we were w
riting the book.

12. The new Dragon Monster Class is something I’m really looking forward to. How many levels/HD are we looking at, and will Dragons be getting some sort of humanoid-shapeshifting ability like they always seem to have in the MMO and in the pocket books (Krasus/Korialstrasz, Onyxia, Nefarian, Deathwing, etc.)?—by Kerrahn

I’m glad you’re looking forward to it! The dragon monster class has 13 levels and 9 Hit Dice. The class does not include shapeshifting ability; but dragon mages or druids could acquire such power. Obviously, dragons in the Warcraft world can get to much higher than 9 Hit Dice, so perhaps older, more powerful dragons come by these powers naturally.

13. What’s your personal favorite part of this book? Is there anything in particular that you’re proud of?—by malcom_west

I’m proud that it’s finally coming out!

I also think it’s cool that we’re able to release some lore that isn’t available elsewhere. I think we came up with some cool game elements. I’m proud of the classes I designed, such as the naga anomaly and high divinist.

14. Any Information on the Pantheon from Zul’Aman, Zul’Gurub, and Zandalar tribes?—by M.Arellano

The pantheon is mentioned, but briefly. This is another issue regarding what information was available to the authors.

15. Hakkar the Soulflayer section is two-pages long. Are we gonna find out more about Hakkar’s past and his short-lived reign at Zul’Gurub in modern times?

Luke: I guess it depends on what you mean by more. Again, we used the information we had at the time we were writing it. So, if you somehow know all the stuff we knew at the time (I’m not sure how much of it is available in-game, via Blizzard’s website, in the novels, etc.), then you won’t find anything new. If you didn’t have as much info as we did, then you’ll find new stuff.

16. Will Dark Factions cover any of the Draenei variations? There are several version of them. The lost, unbroken, Eredar, and non-corrupt Draenei Eredar.

Luke: Unfortunately, draenei information appeared just after we finished writing the book. So, no draenei. =(

17. I am highly interested in the Dark Iron Dwarves Culture and History sections of this book. Will the story cover the civil war 300 years ago, the summoning of Ragnaros, the love affair of King Bronzebeard’s daughter with Thaurissan, and recent dealings with Twilight’s Hammer emissaries?

Luke: It covers most of that, yes.

18. Why is Xavius in Dark Factions? He was thought dead in War of the Ancients Trilogy when Malfurion turned him into a tree. Or has he been brought back by the Satyrs via demonic ritual? Either way thanks for bringing Xavius to Dark Factions.

Luke: Xavius appears in the Faiths section of the Magic and Faith chapter. He shows up there because satyrs, which the book describes, feel some loyalty to him as the progenitor of their race.

19. Tuskarr History and Culture section will be one that fans will gladly look forward to. This race will be important in Wrath of the Lich King. What can we expect in Dark Factions about them? Do they have a pantheon, god or respect a higher being such as the dragons or the ancients?

Luke: You can expect information about their history and culture! Based on what was available at the time of writing, of course. Here’s a snippet from the tuskarr section:

“For a tuskarr, family does not simply come first. Family is what a tuskarr is. Every member of this race defines himself by his family, and a tuskarr’s family name is always given first, before his personal name. When a tuskarr does something, everyone in the family is responsible for the individual’s action. Thus, when a family member does something good, each family member shares the credit; when he does something bad, everyone shares the blame.

20. The Argent Dawn is another section fans look forward to read about. Are you covering how they were founded? Will the book explain their matters at Desolace, Blackfathom Deeps, Darnassus and Eastern Plaguelands?

Luke: Since we cover, like, thirteen factions and ten races (or something), for the most part we didn’t have the space to get into specifics. Most factions are described with an eye on their general activities, with a few specifics when they fit in nicely.

The Argent Dawn’s founding is still a mystery, at least to Brann Bronzebeard. (Something to explore in your own campaign!) Here’s an excerpt from that section:

“I still don’t know how the Argent Dawn came to be; some say that Lord Maxwell Tyrosus, once a mighty knight, founded it in disgust after Arthas’s betrayal. At first, most believed the Argent Dawn to be a new subsect of the Silver Hand, but swiftly it became evident that they had developed some unusual, different principles and methods. For example, many are known for having cast off paladin armor to find ways to turn the Holy Light toward destructive uses.


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