Where are the Moms of Azeroth?

When Chris Metzen said at Blizzcon that Aggra, Thrall’s space-wife and baby momma, would not be going to Draenor because “that honeymoon is over, it’s more of a boy’s trip,” you could almost hear the cries of thousands of women players shouting “WHAT?”.

I was discussing that comment over some beers yesterday and my drinking companion noted that Azeroth and other WoW worlds are very good at making mothers disappear after they produce an heir or two. Admittedly my knowledge of WoW lore is pretty superficial, coming entirely from WoW itself and none of the books or whatnot, but I suspect that’s the case for the majority of players.

For example, who is Anduin Wrynn’s mother? Amusingly enough, WoWWiki describes him as “the son of King Varian Wrynn” alone, as though he leaped fully formed from Varian’s brain like Athena. In fact Anduin’s mother is someone named Tiffin, who I have never heard of before now, and she died a long time ago.

So who is Arthas’ mother? We know that his father is King Terenas — he was in both the Wrath of the Lich King cinematic and made a special appearance in the final Lich King battle. Looking at WoWWiki again, apparently his mother was someone named Lianne and “her fate remains unknown”. Okay then.

(It’s notable that Arthas has a sister, named Calia, and her fate is also unknown! Apparently the Menethil family has a problem with misplacing its female members…?)

Who is Moira Bronzebeard’s mother? As far as I can tell she didn’t even die, she just never existed.

Finally, who is Thrall’s mother? Surprise, while Draka is the one mother I had even heard of before, she too died suddenly and tragically at a young age.

So as I see it, aside from Aggra we have two living mothers in WoW. One is Moira Thaurissan, who was either mind controlled into having a Dark Iron Dwarf baby or just kind of a bad person who abandoned her family for an evil dwarf lover. The other is… Onyxia. And we kill her in part for trying to protect her whelp babies.

So what’s the deal with mothers, you guys? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because the Blizzard people are running with the trope of mothers being killjoys. (That is also the reason that often the mom is dead in movies where kids go on epic journeys.) “Thrall, you can’t go master lightning powers until you finish your vegetables.” “Arthas, if you’re going to try and conquer the world from an icy tower at least wear a scarf.”

It’s a pretty limited view of the role a mother can play. The Game of Thrones series has something of a similar faux historical context (battling kingdoms, sword fights, moderate technology) and Cersei Lannister and Catelyn Stark are forces of nature in their own ways, both supporting their children and fighting their own fights.

Adding Aggra to the pantheon of Warcraft women who are merely baby incubators and toddler nannies (bets on her dying suddenly and tragically?) is not only frustrating, it’s just bad storytelling.

Author: Jessica Cook

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28 Comments

  1. Part of that is what my wife calls the “Disney Effect,” since the whole missing/dead mother thing is pretty common in their stories. Dad is either left alone to do his best or marries a woman who becomes the wicked step-mother.
    Wilhelm Arcturus´s last post: A Return to Curse

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  2. ‘When Chris Metzen said at Blizzcon that Aggra, Thrall’s space-wife and baby momma, would not be going to Draenor because “that honeymoon is over, it’s more of a boy’s trip”‘

    Wait, he said WHAT? Seriously? How is that even a thing? Is Metzen from the 50s or something? How is the Internet not up in arms over that?
    Talarian´s last post: WoW: Fiction Has a Horde Bias

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    • Gah, the repeated sexism in WoW’s lore is just irritating at this point, since there’s no excuse for them to not have seen the broad theme they’ve had going of treated female characters like ‘add-ons’ an second class citizens.

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    • He said exactly that! It was super silly. And to be fair, certain corners of the internet are entirely up in arms about it. :)

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    • That wasn’t even the worst of Blizzcon. I was almost heartbroken at what I saw (virtual ticket) of the developers. It must seriously be a 19th century set in that studio. Those guys are OBVIOUSLY in the closet with their thoughts and ideas all day and bring on people who confirm those ideas for them. There can be no question.

      I want to write about my experience at Blizzcon but I don’t even know where to begin (that’s literally my reason right so far, heh).

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    • @Talarian: I don’t know but I’m about done with paying for games that are so unapologetic in despising and ignoring half the human race. Women play games. Apparently people like Chris Metzen don’t want us there. So I won’t be there. I won’t be buying Warlords of Draenor. Screw it. I’m sticking with ESO, where they actually treat women characters like humans not subhuman sexual objects.

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    • Slightly off topic, but childbirth WAS potentially deadly in the middle/dark ages, which is where most fantasy settings draw elements from.

      If at any point there were complication duting birth (and in a medieval setting, things usually weren’t optimal) then the mother would probably die and it was a race to at least save the child.

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      • Childbirth was certainly deadly way back when for humans! However, a world where gnomes and cow people fight each other with magic spells doesn’t seem to have a rigorous standard of historical accuracy. ;)

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    • Oh Sinestra! I forgot about her, so thanks for the reminder. Another dragon mom that we get to kill. XD

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  3. There are actually two other notable mothers I can think of.

    Vereesa Windrunner – Mother of twins. In a twist, the husband died. Currently Jaina Proudmore’s right hand and still kicking ass.

    Aegwynn – Medivh’s mommy, Jaina’s advisor. Notable as one of the greatest sorcerers of all time. She’s been kicking ass for over 500 years. Arguably set the modern story of Azeroth in motion when she ‘gifted’ Medivh her power (and cursed him with Sargaras’s will). Finally died protecting her grandson.

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    • I was also going to note Aegwynn for continuing the trend of having died tragically. Yes, it’s lazy.

      Garona has a kid, though I don’t think he’s ever appeared in game.

      That said, the lore isn’t exactly overflowing with kids either – beyond the now-grown Anduin it’s relatively uncommon to see kids as anything other than one-off questgivers (e.g. Children’s week orphans).
      Green Armadillo´s last post: Daily Rewards and Non-Subscription Games

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      • Yeah, I was just thinking too that it’s not like there’s a lot of living prominent fathers in WoW, either. Like, I think everybody mentioned in the post except for Anduin has a dead or missing father, too. Maybe WoW is just hard on family life in general.

        That said, I was actually hoping someone would bring this up again today, because I suddenly had a thought and was hoping maybe somebody more involved in the WoW community might be able to tweet it to Neth or something: during Blizzcon, Metzen also stated that the new Orcish Racial Leader had yet to be decided. He was thinking Eitrigg or Saurfang, but Thrall passed them up last time for Warchief because he thought they were too old and it’s not like they got any younger in the meantime. So I was thinking, why not Aggra? It may be a little awkward to suggest his wife, but she is young, strong and a Mag’har, like Garrosh, but also a shaman. We already have a mother in Moira as a Dwarvish Racial Leader, too.

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        • WoW is hard on family life, but it seems harder on the moms. There are dead fathers, but at least we know who they are! Magni Bronzebeard seems to have asexually reproduced to get Moira, and I’ve never heard of Arthas’ mother before now.

          At least the dads are memorable!

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          • Asexual reproduction is somewhat traditional with Dwarves in modern fantasy. At least in that no-one, least of all the other dwarves, can tell what gender any of them are. It’s a wonder the race didn’t die out millennia ago.

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      • You’re absolutely right — aside from Anduin, basically all kids in WoW are orphans.

        And thanks to you and lazybasterd for mentioning some mothers that I missed!

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  4. Tyrande is adobted mother to Shandris Feathermoon. Does that qualify?
    Rhea would be a tentative option, but as she is another mother that died (although in this case she sacrificed herself and her own unborn child to protect the son of her killer that she had only aquired through the forced breeding of his mother). Alexstrasza is another tentative (being a life aspect first and dragon second)
    Therazane is also quite maternal, although again that is another tentative option since she is an elemental.
    Dobablo´s last post: Sexism in Business – The New White Man’s Burden

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    • Therazane and Alexstrasza don’t count with me, personally. Although both have a maternal “earth mother” thing going on, they’re not the counterpart to Varian or Terenas. I’d consider them more like.. Nourishen, maybe? An “all-father” type of magical creature.

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      • But Alextrasza was a literal mother (much like Sinestra and Onyxia)! And, while she isn’t dead, we do kill her daughter and, at some point during the second war, she was forced to breed dragons as mounts for the Dragonmaw clan. Motherhood is a dangerous affair in Azeroth. ):

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        • Ugh, I really didn’t realize until the comments here how often “forced to breed” comes up in Azeroth. Hella gross!

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  5. Since Aggra only seems to exist because Metzen was tried of people shipping Thrall and Jaina I think she’s safe from the fridge for the foreseeable future.

    Hey, maybe Bolvar could fill in as orc racial leader. He could be transformed into a half orc by Garrosh’s stupid pauldron things or some nonsense. It’s not like the racial leaders are required to do anything, just ask Gallywix, Velen, Tyrande, or Mekkatorque. It’s an easy job with no heavy lifting.

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    • HALF ORC, HALF LICH KING.

      Look, it’s not sillier than anything else they’ve done so far.

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      • I wonder when Jaina will have a kid and then get pushed out of the spotlight instantly. As I recall some book paired her up with Kalecgos.

        Hmm. Half-dragons for new Alliance race in next xpac?

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  6. Since we’re having fun bringing up mothers – http://www.wowhead.com/achievement=5859

    Leyara outlived her husband (?) and daughter (correct gender from memory) and joined her father-in-law in accepting evil fire powers for revenge. Not a bad little side-story from the Molten Front dailies. Anyway, she’s dead now, and Malfurion sent me a trophy from her dead corpse (or something).

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    • The list of dead mothers grows! I missed that quest chain, thanks for the mention.

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  7. Gah, why did I miss this post… it seems my blogroll doesn’t like updating from your site as of late. :/ Both very true and hilarious; the comments too!

    And ahh, Tiffin. I remember she was in one of the WoW comics I bought back in the day. Basically her role was to keep Varian in a good mood… until she died from having a rock thrown at her head. Yep.
    Shintar´s last post: Too Many Goodies!

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