Pantheon of Death Characters
Several weeks ago, Game Director Ion Hazzikostas conducted an interview with ZoltanTV that hinted at a Pantheon of Death when asked about the Titans in Shadowlands:
I’m not going to provide any spoilers or specific answers. Genuinely I’m not confirming there’s any connection. For sure there are parallels between the Titan Pantheon that rules over our plane of existence that we’ve seen in Azeroth and sort of the ‘Pantheon of Death’ that has ruled over the Shadowlands. There are parallels there that are going to be fun to explore.
We know that the Titans travelled across the cosmos, bringing Order to the Universe while trying to seek out more of their kin, slumbering souls hosted within planets, eventually protecting and transforming Azeroth to give the spirit a chance at life. Should the Pantheon of Death have a similar origin story, they stumbled across the Shadowlands and created the different domains to protect it as well and fulfill their ultimate plans.
Below we’ll take a look at the rulers of each zone so far in the Shadowlands.
Oribos – The Arbiter
The Arbiter is the one who lays your soul bare and decides where every soul goes in the Shadowlands. Each soul brings a powerful resource called Anima, which fuels the operations of each realm. With the anima drought, the machine of death is broken. It’s still a mystery when this cycle was broken. Ysera’s death could be an indicator as she’s mentioned to be part of the last group to arrive before the drought began. Meaning that it would be around early Legion, soon after the death of Ysera. It could be interesting to have Elune intervene on Ysera’s behave and make sure she did not end up in the Maw, but it’s uncertain. Popular speculation points to the moment of Helya and Sylvanas making a pact, or Genn shattering the soulcage–but it could have happened at any point before the Burning of Teldrassil.
Oribos in Shadowlands serves as the main capital city for players, with many examples of imagery referencing the Ouroboros and the Titans.
Oribos City Overview
Bastion – Kyrestia the Firstborne
Kyrestia the Firstborn, the Archon, is the first of the winged Kyrians. She comes with her paragons, like the paragon of courage, of humility, service, wisdom, purity and loyalty. Bastion is also the place where the original val’kyr came from.
The souls sent to Bastion are those that in life had a natural calling to service in one way or another, such as Uther the Lightbringer. To be a Kyrian means shedding your past burdens and seeking virtue through meditation and reflection. However, this has a darker side as the ritual forces you to give up parts of who you used to be. As the anima drought worsens, more souls in Bastion wonder why they should let go of who they used to be, and wander the zone as Forsworn–including Uther. While initially the zone looks straightforward, a place for “good” heroes with many angel parallels, by the end of the storyline you’re left wondering if the rulings of Bastion are truly the way to go.
Bastion Zone OverviewKyrian Covenant
Maldraxxus – Primus
In the zone of Maldraxxus, we learn that the Primus has been missing for a while now. A master strategist and tactician, he was nearly unbeatable on the field of battle and served as the collective leader of all five of the Necrolords’ ruling houses.
This is a zone for souls that are relentless, unyielding, lived a life in search and pursuit of power. Not so much evil or good, but rather strength above all both inward and outward. Here you will find the military might of Shadowlands and the birthplace of necromatic magic.
Maldraxxus Zone OverviewNecrolord CovenantVashj, Draka, and Mograine
Ardenweald – Winter Queen
The Winter Queen is both the ruler and creator of Ardenweald, a domain deeply linked to the Emerald Dream. Spirits connected to Nature are sent to Ardenweald, where they recover and regrow until they are ready to return to the Emerald Dream. With the anima shortage, the Winter Queen must decide which spirits and groves can be nurtured and which must fade away, while also saving some anima to keep the Banished One held.
Ardenweald is also the zone in which we reconnect and protect Ysera, one of the last souls to reach the Shadowlands before the anima drought started.
Ardenweald Zone OverviewNight Fae CovenantYsera in Ardenweald
Revendreth – Sire Denathrius
Revendreth is a zone for sinful souls to pay the price for past deeds, like Kael’thas Sunstrider. We learn that Sire Denathrius created all the other Venthyr, forged from the souls of the redeemed in his likeness. However, Sire Denathrius is the character behind the anima drought in Shadowlands, an ally of the Jailer, while the first Venthyr he created has sided with the Rebellion.
Revendreth Zone OverviewVenthyr CovenantKael’thas in Shadowlands
Maw – The Jailer
The Maw used to be a place that only the most dangerous souls in the cosmos were confined to, but now innocent characters and some of Azeroth’s greatest heroes of trapped here. To be cast into the Maw is to be doomed a bleak eternity and this is where Sylvanas found herself after committing suicide at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. By forming an allegiance with the Jailer and the Val’kyr, she was able to leave the Maw and return to Azeroth.
As the Shadowlands story expands, we learn that Sylvanas is not the Jailer’s only ally. Sire Denathrius caused the Anima Drought, Mueh’zala told Vol’jin to appoint Sylvanas Warchief, and Helya makes an appearance in the introductory questline.
The Maw is a max-level zone which is not yet open for testing, but we can experience parts of it in Torghast and the introductory questline.
Torghast Zone OverviewSylvanas in “Edge of Night”
Parallels to Azeroth’s Pantheon
The Pantheon brought Order to Azeroth and after playing through the four Shadowlands zones, we can see that the leaders of each zone acted in a similar fashion, bringing order to the Shadowlands through creation. The Winterqueen created Ardenweald, Denathrius made other Venthyr in his image, and the Archon is the first of the winged Kyrians. Maldraxxus is the only zone that remains a mystery, due to the disappearance of the Primus. As the Maldraxxus storyline highlights weapons forged by the Primus, perhaps his disappearance is tied to the Jailer, who would want to prevent a master craftsman from repairing the Helm of Domination.
Imprisonment of the Jailer
Another parallel to the Titans is the fate of the Jailer. He’s referred to as the banished one, and the Titan Keepers have a history of locking away things that stand in their path of bringing order. Some examples include the prisons for the Old Gods, the Elemental Plane for the Elemental Lords, and Sargeras at the Seat of the Pantheon. Could the Jailer be imprisoned in a plane of existence created by the Keepers to house their problems? What did the Jailer do to deserve such a fate and what methods did they use to contain him?
The Jailer turning against the other members of the Pantheon and plotting to bring Disorder also parallels the Fallen Titan Sargeras, who sought to destroy Azeroth. He preferred to obliterate a world prone to corruption instead of slowly watching worlds be corrupted over and over–breaking the cycle.
The Arbiter contains a heart filled with anima, while the Jailer has an empty cavity, perhaps hinting that the fate of these characters is intertwined.
Emerald Dream and Ysera
The Emerald Dream was placed under the protection of the Green Dragon Ysera, and now we learn that Ardenweald is intrinsically linked to the Emerald Dream. Following the events of the Ardenweald questline, Ysera is now bound to Ardenweald, unable to regenerate and one day travel back to Azeroth. Ysera is now tied to the parallel realm she was assigned to protect by the Titans.
Titan Architecture in Oribos
It’s curious that Oribos, the center of judgment for souls, has many throwbacks to Titan architecture on Azeroth considering how fantastical each Shadowlands domain is. Also of note is the constant Ouroboros motif, representing an infinite cycle of life and death–which the Jailer wants to break.
Odyn and Helya
The story of Odyn and Helya had many loose threads in Legion, as we never knew how Helya returned in the Trial of Valor, what her bargain with Sylvanas entailed, or how to account for Odyn’s tall tales and confusing behavior.
The book The Legend of Odyn describes many tales of Titan Keeper Odyn, including a ritual aided by Helya to peer into the Shadowlands, for which he sacrificed an eye. However, this book has many red flags that it was written by an unreliable narrator, due to its boastful tone. The Chronicle series also portrays Odyn in a negative light, as he forced Helya to become a val’kyr and obey his orders, which led to her imprisoning him and the Valajar and the Halls of Valor. Yet in-game, Odyn is presented as a friend while Helya is the evil witch.
In the introductory questline we see Helya by the River of Souls, who throws us right into the river surrounded by tortured souls. In retrospect, it’s now clear that Sylvanas’ pact with the Jailer and her meeting with Helya were related.
Thrall: Hold. I hear something…
Helya: Your unworthy souls will feed the coming darkness!
Lady Jaina Proudmoore: “Unworthy”? I hear you were beaten quite soundly by “unworthy” champions, witch!
Helya: You will pay for that insult! The skies of your world will be darkened by the wings of my Mawsworn!
Thrall: For Azeroth!
Helya: Drown! Drown among the souls of the damned!
The story of Odyn and Helya now explicitly straddles Azeroth and Shadowlands, providing another possible titan link.
With the alpha in such an early state, it’s hard to gauge the motivations of the Pantheon of Death and why Sylvanas, the Jailer, and his other allies want to bring disorder. On one side, if the Pantheon is tyrannical then Sylvanas’ motivations for working with the Jailer means she wants to free and restore the true Shadowlands. On the other hand, there are numerous lines referring to the Jailer negatively, that he’s a prime evil threatening all of reality.
While we don’t always know the full story, the Pantheon on Azeroth brought Order to Azeroth to protect the world-soul, fighting off the threat of the Black Empire and blessing the Dragonflights to protect the planet. What reason could a Pantheon of Death have for protecting the Shadowlands through Order?