Shadowlands Maldraxxus Lore Interview – What Happens to AU Souls, Future Draka Reunion (Spoilers)

Shadowlands Maldraxxus Lore Interview - What Happens to AU Souls, Future Draka Reunion (Spoilers), SA Gamer, and Cybersport conducted an interview with Lead Narrative Designer Steve Danuser on Maldraxxus in Shadowlands, discussing what happens to alternate universe souls and what’s next for Draka. Note that some parts of this interview contain spoilers.

Full Maldraxxus Interview on

Mechanics of Death and AU Souls in Shadowlands

The interview opens with several general questions on the mechanics of Death in Shadowlands. We get confirmation that if you die in the Shadowlands, your soul is completely gone–which really raises the stakes, as we saw in Afterlives: Ardenweald. He also touched on the unique situation Forsaken and others raised by Death find themselves in on Azeroth, admitting that being raised through Death can impact their souls and personalities based on the methods used. This could explain how some recently-raised characters, like the Night Elves in Battle for Azeroth, underwent large personality shifts.

The limited amount of Shadowlands realms was also brought up–this is just a sampling of the realms Shadowlands has to offer. While all four realms serve key purposes to the workings of the Shadowlands, there are also realms–both idyllic and punishing–that simply exist without greater responsibilities for their inhabitants.

The most interesting part of the answer covered the mechanics of Death for characters with AU versions–such as Draka, mother of Thrall. It seems like all versions and possibilities of a character have merged together, using the metaphor of a rope made up of many strands.

We’ve done some stuff that’s involved with time travel and alternate realities. What happens to those souls when they pass on? Do they go to the Shadowlands?

This is a complicated question. How do you deal with things like alternate Draenor? There was a Draka there. What is that Draka? Is she alive? Is she dead? Is she related to the Draka in Shadowlands that we see? Or is there another Draka? We know that in Warlords of Draenor, Velen of that universe died. Does that mean there is a Velen in the Shadowlands? But what about the Velen in Azeroth? All these things are very complicated questions.

The way I would have you think about it is think of a rope… If you look at a rope, it is one thing, right? It’s something that you can grab onto, you can hold it, you can see it; think of that as a character. Think of that rope as Draka or Velen.

If you look at that rope more closely, you can see there are different threads that make up the rope. There are different twines that pull together, and you can pull off one of these threads if you want. But it’s still a rope, and each of those threads you can think of as one of the realities of the character, one of the streams of time… There is a thread that is the Draka from Draenor we visited in the Warlords of Draenor. There is another thread that is Draka on Azeroth as we know her… And there are many other threads that could be other realities that we never peered into. But all of those threads at some time come together to make that rope. And remember also that, as you’ll see, that there are many characters in the Shadowlands when they refer to time, they usually say that time is not a construct of Death. Time and Death are not related. Death is about eternity, not linear time. The manner in which these threads come together, that can take a very long time from mortal perceptions. Those threads can be separated for a time, but sooner or later, they do combine to make one rope that is that character. You can think of it as the threads of that rope, all the individual threads, are just waiting. And over time, they will come together but they can exist as separate entities for a time. That still doesn’t change the fact that they are part of one rope.

Shadowlands and Cosmic Forces

Any Shadowlands interview inevitably circles back to a discussion on cosmic forces, with the knowledge that the cosmology chart from Chronicles plays an increasingly-important role in current WoW stories. This interview filled in some more blanks, such as what happens when other cosmic forces die. Building upon the precedent set in Legion, where Demons go to the Twisting Nether, we learned that other powerful creatures similarly return to their home plane–such as Naaru returning to the Light.

We also learned that cosmic forces can intervene to change the course for a character they’re very connected to, such as Crusader Bridenbrad in Icecrown touched by the Light. The wording of this answer, talking about “subverting” and “throwing the process off” makes us wonder if larger forces intervening have also contributed to the broken machine of Death.

Future Story for Thrall’s Family (Spoilers)

While the Afterlives: Maldraxxus focused on Draka’s achievements in Shadowlands, the cinematic opened with her family rent asunder. Draka and Durotan were murdered by spies of Gul’dan, with baby Thrall saved but abandoned in the carnage. Players have wondered if Thrall will reunite with either of his parents in Shadowlands, as Thrall finds himself captured by Sylvanas’ minions and held in the Maw until rescued by the player.

Steve Danuser first discussed the bond with Draka and Durotan, hinting that we could see them reunite when the unrest in Maldraxxus has quieted down:

So, Draka and Durotan, obviously some point along the way, did get separated. Where did Durotan go? We don’t know as of yet. Does Draka know? No, she doesn’t really know. But those strands of rope I mentioned before, think of those as strands of fate. Different souls that have crossed over or intersected one another through life, I think there is probably something that draws them, that keeps some tether between them even in the afterlife

So, don’t give up hope that Draka and Durotan might be reunited someday. But right now Draka has a job to do and that is front and center in her mind in terms of what she needs to do in order to perhaps earn the respite that she’s due and be able to visit the mortals she cared about so much in life.

Danuser also speculated on what sort of afterlife Durotan would find himself in. While we encounter realms in Shadowlands which are quite demanding of its inhabitants, there’s the also the potential for idyllic realms without responsibilities.

You know, like Durotan: If everything went great for him, he’s probably in this endless hunting ground where he has his wolves around him and he can just go out there, he doesn’t have to worry about any dark forces wrecking his world. He can just enjoy that forever… And you know what, maybe Draka can someday fulfill her obligations and join him there. Who knows? We’ll see…

Later in the interview, the topic circles back to Draka again, this time speculating on a potential reunion with Draka and Thrall. Danuser had a concrete reply to this question, confirming that we’ll see a reunion between Draka and Thrall later on in Shadowlands!

Many players are waiting for Draka and Thrall to meet. How important will this event be, and how will this reunion be emotionally for both of them?

I don’t think a reunion like that could be emotionally easy on either part.

We saw Thrall go to this alternate Draenor and we got to see him interact with versions of his parents, but they weren’t the same people. He got to pick up on a lot of their qualities and things like that. But there was probably still something within him where he knew that these weren’t actually the people who bore him, who lost the chance to raise him and so forth.

But this Draka that is in Shadowlands IS that person as we saw in the Maldraxxus Afterlives short. She was the one who gave her life trying to defend that little baby. And again, if we think of threads of fate bonding characters together, those kinds of threads transcend mortal life, then there is definitely a thread between Thrall and Draka that needs to be resolved there. And that is definitely something that we plan for in the subsequent chapters of the Shadowlands. Right now, when you play through the storyline, obviously Thrall has been taken captive, he is in a bad place; we’ve got to resolve that. Draka has a lot going on in the Shadowlands that she needs to immediately resolve in terms of what’s going on Maldraxxus. But there will definitely come a point where these paths are drawn back together, where they intersect. And I think that intersection will be a highly emotional moment for both of those characters and for the players who witness it. So that’s definitely a story that we are looking forward to telling.

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