Thursday, July 29, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Maiev Shadowsong

From time to time I get requests to cover specific Rogues sooner rather than later. Some are expected, and others take me by surprise. Today's was one of those. When Jadzea asked me to discuss Maiev I could not understand how she thought she was a rogue. Jad's response? "Well, WowWiki lists her as one of its notable Rogues." Sure enough, she was right. Unlike Brann where I could easily understand the confusion, Warden Maiev Shadowsong is commonly called "The Huntress"....WHY would WowWiki ever consider her a Rogue? Lets see if we can figure out this mystery.

If you have not played the original Warcraft III game or read the War of the Ancients Trilogy, Maiev Shadowsong may be a complete stranger to you. So lets take this time to go over who she is, and what role she has played in the history of the Night Elves, Azeroth and even Outland.

Originally Maiev was little more than a young, somewhat ambitious priestess of Elune. As the oldest daughter of a minor night elf family she has a perfectionist personality. Easily seeing the faults in everyone around her, she often alienated those closest to her, including her younger bother Jarod, with her "I know best" black and white thinking.  By displaying superb organizational and leadership abilities she earned a position of assistant to the High Priestess of Elune. When the Burning Legion began it's invasion Maiev joined those of the Sisterhood who decided to participate more directly by taking up arms. The newly formed Sentinels were a good fit for her as she displayed a talent with blades and tracking. 

Unfortunately for Maiev she forgot that she worked for a "Goddess" not just a governmental organization. It didn't matter how great her abilities were if her heart was not on serving her Goddess, but rather herself. When the High Priestess announced that "country bumpkin" Tyrande Whisperwind would be the new High Priestess Maiev was incensed. Things reached a head when Maiev attempted to undermine the the succession. However she discovered you just can't argue with the direct intervention of Elune. Eventually circumstances handed her the title for a short time during Tyrande's imprisonment at the hands of Queen Azshara, grudging Maiev realized that Tyrande's effortless communication with Elune and selfless devotion was really what is needed. This didn't mean that she liked it.

It further galled her when she was bestowed with the position of  Tyrande's second in command. Now not only did she have to see the position she had always coveted for herself go to someone she couldn't stand, she has to serve that individual PERSONALLY on a daily basis. As far as Maiev is concerned how much worse could it get? As she would soon discover, much worse.

Following the finally battle at Mount Hyjal Maiev was part of the leadership delegation that headed to the summit in search of fresh water. The earlier sighting of a lake had risen hope of a sufficient supply for the survivors.  What they find is that Illidan has turned the once pristine lake into another Well of Eternity and killed all but two of those who tried to stop him. One of these happened to be Maiev's only surviving relative, her younger brother Jarod, by now an acknowledged war hero.

This is a turning point for Maiev. Once she is reassured that Jarod was only injured and not dead her focus turns COMPLETELY to Illidan. Maiev wants him to pay for all that he has done. While she states it is for his crimes against the Night Elf people, the reality is all her personal rage, disillusionment, disappointment and frustration of the past months now have an outlet and Illidan has becomes its acceptable focus. Maiev petitions Malfurion to become Illidan's jailer. Abandoning her hated position as Tyrande's Handmaiden.

Over the next 10,000 years Maiev creates a personally selected organization called the "Watchers". Like the Sentinels its members were made up former Sisters of Elune. She forms a high security prison in Barrow Deeps, the ancient cave system beneath Mount Hyjal, here they could safely lock away not only Illidan but many other dangerous creatures. With the help of  Malfurion, Maiev is able to gain the cooperation of some of Cenarius' offspring as well as some Wildkin to act as additional guardians. By making it their home as well as major base of operations, all of the Watchers could be on hand for continuous training, as well as instantly available when called for. Eventually the Watchers would earn a reputation as the elite Assassins and Bounty Hunters within Night Elf society. Perhaps it is this that leads to Maiev's inclusion on the "Rogue" list.

Even among the Watchers, (as few as there were) some stood out. It was Malfurion who first bestowed the title of "Warden" on Maiev and she then granted it to a select few under her amongst the Watchers.  This title has come to represent the best of the jailers and Marshals. Those who display the combination of extraordinary skill and personal drive. Those who played Warcraft III may even recall a certain ability that Wardens had which we Rogues receive at level 80. Fan of Knives. Perhaps this is another reason why Maiev ended up on the Rogue list. Their Blink ability is also not THAT dissimilar to the modern Shadowstep.

So things are going fairly well for Maiev up until this point. She doesn't have to deal directly with Tyrande. She can just hang out in Barrow Deep with friends. Sure the scenery isn't the greatest but the temperature is consistent and the rest of the Watchers really only answer to her.

Then the Burning Legion return just as Illidan had predicted. While Malfurion and Tyrande hadn't really FORGOTTEN about Illidan, he hasn't been at the forefront of their minds for the last 10,000 years. Malfurion has been off taking an extended nap and Tyrande has been trying to rebuild the Night Elf people. When they DO remember the troublesome twin Tyrande wants to release Illidan to help but Malfurion doesn't agree, forbidding it. (NEVER try to tell a woman what to do when you have left her to do nothing but clean up for 10,000 years while you snoozed....) Furious Tyrande parts from Malfurion and heads to Barrow Deep. She then proceeds to SLAUGHTER the Watchers in Barrow Deep defying  Maiev, and freeing Illidan.

Maiev is devastated and enraged. Not only has her sole purpose in life been violated (guarding over Illidan) but her friends and really what has become her family have all been heartlessly murdered by the individual who is SUPPOSE to be the leader of her people. The SAME person who she lost the only position she ever wanted in life to. For the rest of Maiev's life her only goal is to capture and return Illidan to Barrow Deep, she will now begin what many call her "Huntress" period.

Maiev, along with her second in command Naisha and what few Watchers managed to survive Tyrande track Illidan across Kalimdor, always close but never managing to corner him. Upon reaching the coast they encounter the Naga for the first time, revealing them to be allies of Illidan. It is actually Maiev who discovers that the Naga are in actuality the Highborn who served Queen Azshara, now transformed almost beyond recognition. Appalled Maiev rejects any kinship with the Naga, defeating them before commandeering a ship and heading out after Illidan once again. Their sea journey is short, as they find themselves on a set of uncharted Islands. Maiev soon realizes that someone, or some THING has risen the ruins of the former Elven capital city Suramar from the ocean floor.  Pursuing Illidan into the Tomb of Sargeras, Maiev believes her quest will soon be over, but it is a trap. Illidan repays the Watchers for their centuries of guardianship by collapsing the tomb on top of them, only a handful make it out alive. The hardest blow to Maiev is the loss of Naisha.

Devastated and outnumbered Maiev sends a plea to Malfurion for assistance. However when Tyrande chooses to accompany him the two almost come to physical blows. As far as Maiev is concerned EVERYTHING horrible that has happened is as a direct result of Tyrande and her choices. Tyrande on the other hand believes she had only done what was needed and would make the same decisions even now. Mulfurion just wants the two of them to focus on the task at hand. (He REALLY does not understand women at ALL does he?) Lucky for him they agree and continue on after Illidan.

However when shortly after their arrival in the Eastern Kingdoms and encounter the Blood Elves Maiev is forced to rely on Tyrande's more developed negotiating skills if she hopes to proceed in her quest. Personally Maiev finds Arcane Magic abhorrent and blames it for all the corruption found in the world. Those races such as the Naga and Blood Elves who find their roots in the Night Elf Aristocracy she denies any kinship with. Going so far as to state their current troubles are nothing more than what they deserve for the abomination they insist on practicing.

Her patience is eventually rewarded. Tyrande is swept down river after an attack and Maiev intervenes so that no rescue efforts take place. She goes one step further, deceiving Malfurion into believing Tyrande is dead and it is all Illidan's fault. (NEVER tamper with a vengeful female if you weren't already aware of this rule.) When the group finally DOES located Illidan a grief stricken Malfurion rains accusations down on his brother's head for the death of the woman they love. Gleeful Maiev volunteers to execute Illidan on the spot. Bemused the Blood Elf allies innocently expose her deception by remarking that no one really knows for CERTAIN that Tyrande is dead, she just washed down stream after all....

At this point Maiev loses everything. As far as Malfurion is concerned SHE is now the "Betrayer". Joining forces with Illidan the two brothers set off to find and rescue Tyrande. By the time Maiev is able to locate them Illidan and his allies are slipping through a portal to Draenor. Incensed Maiev and what few Watchers remain follow through the rapidly closing portal. As Malfurion puts it, "She has become nothing more than vengeance."

For quite some time it appeared as if Maiev ultimately failed before perishing on Draenor. However with the release of the Burning Crusade her true fate was revealed. The jailer has now become the jailed. While Maiev HAD actually managed to capture Illidan at one point, she had no where to go. The Blood Elves she had one counted as Allies now served Illidan. His supporters freed him and took HER captive. Illidan decided turn around was fair play and had Maiev imprisoned in Warden's Cage near his new head quarters at the Black Temple. There she is watched over by Akama and his Ashtongue Deathsworn. Restlessly she paces, calling curses down on her jailer and belittling him for his slow moving rebellion.

Eventually Akama invites Maiev to assist him in overthrowing Illidan as part of The Fall of the Betrayer quest chain. What is interesting is that while Maiev gets the killing blow,  Illidan still manages to get the last laugh. As he dies he mocks Maiev that hers is a hollow victory, for without him what is she? For centuries the two have been inexplicably tied. Both prisoners to their fates. Maiev acknowledges he is right, what does she have now without her vengeance? The Watchers are no more, she created and ran the faction, and it was never revived after her original disappearance. As to her fate following Illidan's death, no one knows, she simply vanished. Maiev has to be one of the loneliest individuals in the universe.

So now we know who Maiev IS lets get back to the original question. Why would WowWiki consider her a Rogue? First of all you have to remember that WowWiki is NOT an Official Blizzard site, this means that just anyone can edit it and put their personal perspective on the information. Second, the Maiev inclusion is a recent addition. Third, as the game has evolved some of the abilities that Maiev displays such as Fan of Knives, and  Shadowstep have been recent additions to the rogue arsenal. Personally, I think Maiev, like Brann is a "special case". If you backed me into a corner she is more like a hunter than a rogue. Her gear sets are mail, she sets traps and she is called "The Huntress".  I would HAPPILY take her cloak at ANY time though because that thing is just cool, as are her circular weapons...I don't know what they would be classified, my leaning would be swords, as but I still like them. She has always had a stealth ability, but as she IS a Night Elf, this does fall under the "racial" category. Do any of you have an opinion?


  1. To me she always was and always will be a hunter. Can't see her as any other class. To be honest, it is a bit similar to how Illidan is a rogue, in name and in his game, but has the warlock demonform ability. I think that pinning heroes down to a single class is difficult (okay, Malfurion is a bit easier ;)), as most of them are just so skilled that they have abilities and skills of multiple classes.

    Oh, and concerning the Maiev blades:

    They look a bit like them. Not completely, but it is the closest I have seen so far. And seeing that not everything is known yet itemwise, there could be even better ones.
    Just a warning of course: Nothing is known about the blade apart from how it will look, so might even be a hunter weapon (...).

    ps. *poke* *poke* you kept misspelling Malfurion's name. He is not pleased ^^.

  2. Dangit!! Sigh, Thanks DarkKnight.

    Now as for the Illidan being a Rogue comment, REALLY? Illidan's whole issue with Malfurion was that Illidan was pursuing Arcane Magic while Furion was going after a NEW magic, Nature based magic.

    When Illidan became a Demon Hunter he seems to have more warrior like abilities than rogue. Makes for something interesting to think about anyway.

    As to those weapons, it will be interesting to see if we get to use them in game. They really do look nice.

  3. Yes, if I am going from how Illidan played in WC3, he was definitely a rogue at that time. Mostly considering how he was able to stealth and use rogue-ish gear. Although judging from the books (what I remember from them anyway), it would be rogue with mage abilities or vice versa.

    Of course, with becoming a demon hunter he gained some new special abilities and made him less like what I like to classify as a rogue and more of a warrior/warlock 'abomination'.

    So, I'll admit that Illidan is probably the least easy to put into any class, but based on how he was in the beginning, my opinion that rogue with mage ability is the best description, at least until he used demon hunter form.
    How would you describe him? And are there more of these characters? As I didn't even think about Maiev as being anything else than a hunter, and always looked at Illidan as a rogue with special skills ;).

  4. I will admit it has been quite a while since I have played WC3 so I don't remember his game play much. For me his magic abilities stood out over his melee skills. But as you stated Heroes should always be considers classes unto themselves.

  5. This is fantastic, thank you so much for posting this. I love learning about the watchers.

    A rogue in a non-game-mechanic sense, is someone who does their own thing, who goes it alone against social norms.

    There was intense debate for a while about whether Elune is a Naaru.

    I think a lot of these cloudy areas in the lore occur because they have come together over time with different influences and perhaps the people who originally came up with some concepts are no longer around and many hands have shaped the stories.

    In addition, most of the early lore and backbone of the Warcraft universe came about before the MMO. So when a historical figure wears a certain armor type or uses certain skills, it's not necessarily a reflection of WoW as we know it. In D&D games, a rogue is typically responsible for traps, both laying and breaking them. A hunter is a woodsman, in tune with the ways of beasts. The quest for vengeance, a personal vendetta, seems better tied to a rogue archetype.

  6. If you looked up "Rogue" in the dictionary it would say "a dishonest, or playful person, uncontrollable." And we wonder why no one ever trusts us...

    I have to agree with you Anaia, what we all call "Rogues" in Wow really have their roots in the Thieves of D&D, as time has gone on even those table top games have evolved.

    What is interesting is they are going BACK to some of those old games and snatching skills, then spreading them around. (Blink for example is a staple Mage skill yet it came from Maiev, Only later did Rogue's get it as Shadowstep.)

    I am glad to know you enjoyed reading up on the Watchers. Sadly to my knowledge the Night Elves have no other ORGANIZED "rogue" type organization. By that I mean one with a recognized leader. If you happen to stumble across one let me know.