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The serpentine naga are some of the most formidable villains of Azeroth. Masters of sorcery, the naga were formerly night elves, members of Queen Azshara's court in the War of the Ancients. They were transformed into naga by the Old Gods, and now haunt the seas of Azeroth building a great civilization on the ocean floor.
War of the AncientsEdit
10,000 years ago the Well of Eternity was the source of all arcane magic in the world, which at that point consisted of a single landmass called Kalimdor. The kaldorei learned to tap into the magical energies of the well, and thus their ﬁrst arcanists came to be. Arcane magic is dangerous, however, and frequent use leads to a desire for more. Eventually a great kaldorei queen, Azshara, came to prominence. Azshara was the most powerful mage in the world and had a cadre of loyal arcanists about her; Azshara was so loved by the kaldorei that their capital was rechristened in her honor at the demands of the populace. Azshara and her followers — called the Highborne — turned their society's interest in arcane magic into an obsession, grewing ever more arrogant and casting ever more powerful spells. This abuse attracted the attention of Sargeras, master of the Burning Legion; after Sargeras contacted the Highborne, they worked to summon the demons into the world and eventually, they succeeded. What followed was the War of the Ancients, a momentous time in which infernals crashed through forests, demigods clashed with demon lords, and kaldorei fought kaldorei. Finally, the young druid Malfurion Stormrage, with the help of many powerful allies, caused the Well of Eternity to implode. The resulting catastrophe was the Sundering. The land split apart to become the continents and islands as we now know them. Thousands perished, and the kaldorei lands were devastated. The Burning Legion was banished. The land around the destroyed Well of Eternity and most of Zin-Azshari blasted downward, to the bottom of the inrushing seas, to smash into the ocean ﬂoor.
The Maelstrom, a large and violent magical storm that rages over the ocean, formed above the ocean at this location. Azshara and many of her kaldorei followers sank to the seaﬂoor with their city. It was Azshara's quick thinking that saved them: she managed to make a pact with the Old Gods, swearing loyalty to them to survive. They were cursed and became the naga, serpentlike, water-breathing creatures. Their men and women diverged in appearance, physicality and mindset.
When the naga awakened, they set about building a new life for themselves on the ocean depths, and within the abyssal sea trench beneath the swirling waters of the Maelstrom they built their new city, Nazjatar. Azshara herself expanded with hate and rage, becoming a massive monstrosity, reflecting the wickedness and malice that had always hidden within her core. For 10,000 years, these elves of the abyss dwelt in a dark and powerful empire. Pagodas and balconies line the deep trenches, glimmering lights picking out the shapes of cities in the cold black. Sinuous figures drift and twist along the passageways, their elven origins difficult to discern. Over the time the naga tamed some native creatures (like snap dragons and dragon turtles to use in warfare, studied arcane magic and clashed with the sea giants and makrura, whose capital Mak'aru is in the same neighborhood. Transformed into the monstrous naga, the former night elves found they were able to survive the ocean's depths. Even so, the naga knew they had little chance of reclaiming the lands that the Highborne had once dominated. Bitterly resentful at their enforced banishment to the sea, they resolved to bide their time until they could retake their rightful place in the surface world. There in the depths of the ocean for ten thousand years the naga plotted their revenge against the night elves.
The naga resurfaced in the time around the Third War. One of the ﬁrst sightings of naga took place when Warchief Thrall rescued the Darkspear trolls from a tribe of murlocs on a stormswept isle in the South Seas. The murlocs worshipped a creature they called sea witch - Zar'jira. The orcs and trolls didn't recognize her as a naga at the time, but later, when they learned of this race, they realized the truth.
A small group led by the naga Sea Witch Lady Vashj, answered to a summon from Illidan Stormrage to aid him in his quest to destroy the Frozen Throne. Lady Vashj joined her forces with Illidan's in order to serve her own ends. A subsequent contact with naga occurred shortly after the Third War. Kael'thas Sunstrider, prince of the newly-dubbed blood elves, encountered Lady Vashj, who offered her help to battle the Scourge. Kael'thas agreed, but when the blood elves' human commander, Grand Marshal Garithos, discovered this alliance, he denounced the blood elves. He believed naga were irredeemably evil, and the blood elves must also be evil for consorting with them. Garithos imprisoned Kael'thas and the rest of the blood elves and sentenced them to death. Before he could carry out this sentence, Lady Vashj helped them to escape. The two forces fought together and eventually joined Illidan in Outland, where they remain.
Another group of naga led by Lady Darkscale attacked Kul Tiras forces in Kalimdor and while many were killed the Darkscale took prisoners for an unknown reason. Soon afterwards Lady Darkscale, Scilla Murkshadow, and the rest of their naga forces were slain by the combined might of Jaina, Rokhan, Chen Stormstout and Rexxar, who were trying to find any survivor of the attack in order to determine what human force was attacking Durotar.
World of WarcraftEdit
More recently naga have begun to reappear around the coasts of the world, creating settlements on land, most noticeably in the ruins of their old cities in the region of Azshara. It seems as though they are now followers of the Old Gods, as they have made alliances with the Twilight's Hammer cult and the corrupted satyrs. They have claimed several stretches of coast on both continents, for example in Darkshore, Ashenvale, Desolace, Feralas, Dustwallow Marsh, Azshara, Hillsbrad Foothills, Arathi Highlands and Stranglethorn Vale. They have significant numbers and pose a serious threat to anyone standing in their way.
The Burning CrusadeEdit
The Outland tribes of naga have begun draining the water of the Zangarmarsh lakes and marshes with steam pumps. The pumps are all connected through underground drains to Coilfang Reservoir, where Vashj and her underlings reside, turning Serpent Lake into a giant water sink for the rest of Zangarmarsh. Due to the Cenarion Expedition's meddling, the naga operating the steam vaults end up at war with the druids, at the orders of Lady Vashj. The sea witch was later killed and her forces defeated by adventurers on behalf of the Cenarion Expedition.
Wrath of the Lich KingEdit
In the Borean Tundra, tribes of naga have made a fort in Northrend in Riplash Ruins. From here, the naga are making ominous attempts at melting the polar ice caps in order to flood the world and create an entirely underwater empire for their revered empress, Queen Azshara. The naga plans in Northrend did not come to fruition, as the kvaldir have slaughtered most of them, feeding them to a mighty sea creature.
The naga are displayed for the first time since The Burning Crusade. While the naga of Serpentshrine Cavern in Outland were loyal to Illidan through Lady Vashj, the naga in Cataclysm ultimately report directly to Queen Azshara herself. Darkshore marks the first appearance of Queen Azshara in World of Warcraft, and it's clear that like Deathwing had once done, Azshara believes she has her own agenda, but is in fact a completely enthralled servant of the Old Gods. While exploring the Naz'jar Battlemaiden quests in Vashj'ir, the nature of Lady Vashj's mother and her former stronghold were discovered, and above all the naga executed their plan to usurp Neptulon's control of the Abyssal Maw. Neptulon was abducted by Ozumat following the events of the naga invasion, and this abduction leaves the Abyssal Maw leaderless and Azshara very well placed as one of the most potent forces in Azeroth's oceans and perhaps beyond.
In general, naga are scaled humanoids with the lower bodies of large serpents. Naga can breathe water or air, and some naga have recently emerged from the ocean's depths. Yet most naga have continued to dwell in the ocean's depths, beneath the site of the original Well of Eternity. Thus, although the Well itself no longer exists, the naga have experienced a wide range of mutations due to the Well's residual energies.
Naga women are tall and slender, with fine scales and angular features, and often have at least four arms. For some reason naga women have proven better than naga men at maintaining pre-Sundering memories and personalities. As a result, naga women are intellectually and magically superior to their male counterparts, and naga society is matriarchal.
Bigger and physically stronger than naga women, naga men are relatively bestial in appearance. A male naga's head resembles that of a dragon, and he has a muscular humanoid torso. The scales that cover his body are larger and thicker than those that cover the body of a naga woman.
Naga tend to be long-lived, much like the night elves, blood elves, and high elves. Some naga have even gained immortality as part of their mutations. However, most immortal naga are women rather than men.
As former Highborne, the naga's past abuse of the Well has not been without additional consequences. The Highborne were obsessed with the Well, and the naga have been exposed to the Well's residual magics for millennia. Consequently modern naga are addicted to magic.
All naga revere their queen, the mighty Azshara. They have never had another queen, and Azshara has become a living demigod for the naga. Everything they do is according to her design — and she has had ten millennia to reﬁne her plans. The civilization of the naga has extensive codes, laws, and ceremonies. Factions, some millennia old, work continuously in bids for power, seeking the blessings of their queen. She plots her revenge on the night elves, biding her time until the growing might of the naga can be brought to bear.
Naga have finely worked robes that function as leather armor. They hunt large prey with tridents and scimitars. They are experienced in formation fighting, particularly in dealings with murlocs and mur'gul. A warband will deploy male infantry to engage at moderate range with tridents, while the females cast spells. The men are willing to sacrifice themselves if ordered. Leaders will avoid heavy losses, but are otherwise open to small risks.
Naga live in tribes.
Over the eons, queen Azshara, the most powerful arcanist of the ancient world, has grown in power and magniﬁcence. To the naga, she is a living demigod, and they venerate her. Her presence in Nazjatar is a powerful motivating force for the naga, and in their minds Azshara, Nazjatar, and the naga are inextricably linked — perhaps the same thing, in a way. Naga pay homage to their heritage and their queen. The beings they once worshipped as kaldorei — Malorne, Cenarius, even Elune — are nothing but memories.
Some naga instead worship the water elemental lord Neptulon the Tidehunter as a god. Judging by Skar'this the Heretic's title and status as a prisoner, it seems these naga are frowned upon - and even considered traitors - by their fellow naga.
The naga fear turtles, considering them bad luck and giving the species wide berths of shorelines to live away from them.
The most striking aspect of naga culture is the role that gender plays in their lives. Due to the ancient curse that transformed them into naga, males and females are physically and mentally different, and this difference affects their culture. The men are thickly built, with humanoid torsos merging into a serpent hind section. Their scales are large and thick, and their heads are reminiscent of dragons, showing little sign of their elven ancestry. Naga men are bestial and considered less intelligent than females, but are remarkably strong and tough, able to withstand a great deal of bodily injury. Naga women more resemble the kaldorei from whom they came, their faces fair, even beautiful. This unearthly splendor is ruined by their monstrous deformities — they often have multiple limbs (four to six arms). Females kept more of their elven features and their intelligence.
Because of these traits, naga society is matriarchal. Naga see women as superior to men. Naga men don't chafe under these conditions; rather, they are happy to serve their beautiful (for naga) mistresses. While exceptions exist, naga men perform tasks requiring physical strength and stamina, while naga women take up intellectual pursuits. Naga women are natural spellcasters and rely on magic and poison to defeat their enemies. Men mine stone and coral for building, for example, while women draw the blueprints and create the strangely delicate frescoes that adorn Nazjatar’s buildings. In military matters, men are warriors and guards, while women are generals and magi. Naga Myrmidon and Royal Guard, for instance, are strong males and powerful melee fighters Some exceptions do exist, and male naga commanders are not completely unknown. Males can rise to prominence and even lead communities, but there is a limit to what they can achieve.
Naga typically speak their own language, Nazja, and most know Common. For various reasons, individual naga learn to speak with the creatures with which they interact. Some also learn the language of their heritage, Darnassian.
The naga have armies composed of various races. They have managed to enslave large numbers of mur'gul; this aquatic race fears the nagas' magical abilities. Mur'gul slaves are used as staging troops and cannon fodder, with artillery support from mighty dragon turtles. Naga males serve as shock troops; they deploy as infantry in close formations wielding scimitars, tridents and nets while females stand back hurling spells at the enemy. Some few are priestesses of the tides. Naga women act as both a source of support magic for their allies and as offensive ranged punishers. Males may have command over small numbers of troops but females will always be in overall command of any naga force. Naga Royal Guards, as their name implies, serve as protection for important individuals. Naga sea witches are some of the most powerful champions the race has to offer. Sirens are more common but still deadly, using their magic to incapacitate foes so the naga myrmidons can sweep in and finish them off.
The naga have a powerful military, though they have yet to truly make their presence felt in the world. So far, their efforts are limited to certain select engagements (such as against the Scourge during Illidan's attempt on the Frozen Throne and in Vashj'ir after the Cataclysm) and various exploratory missions along Azeroth's coasts and other remote places. Rumors say that the naga are preparing for a major invasion of the land; they are now building their forces, securing strategic locations, claiming important items and informations, and probing the defenses of the Alliance, Horde, Scourge, and their numerous other rivals. Whispers say that Azshara seeks to regain her position as queen of the land.
Naga society is ancient and cunning, and their warriors are the same way. All naga enjoy using their aquatic natures against their foes, particularly against generals who have not fought naga. A naga commander attempts to maneuver his forces to meet the enemy on a battlefield with rivers, lakes, marshes or similar features; such bodies of water are no impediment to naga, but serve as barriers for land-based forces as well as hiding spots and roads for the naga forces.
As far as anyone knows, the only real naga armies that currently exist are beneath the waves, in Nazjatar and Vashj'ir, and in Outland, where a force of naga under Lady Vashj worked with Illidan until its defeat. Other, smaller groups are scattered across the world, where they investigate items and places of importance to the naga's mysterious purposes. These forces usually have a single leader — a powerful spellcaster (female) or warrior (male) — a dozen or so naga myrmidons, and a few naga sirens. They may have some mur'gul slaves to serve as expendable troops and do the dirty work, and some groups include a couple of snap dragons, couatl, or tidal guardians as support, depending on the nature of the mission. In addition to these groups, naga explorers travel out from the coasts and from naga bases, gathering information for their queen.
Naga are dangerous and avaricious, and most races are unaware of their existence. Naga play well with blood elves, trolls, and other dark, independent powers, but only the rarest naga joins the Alliance or Horde.
The naga traveling with Illidan have a more educated view of Kalimdor's races than the naga who remained at the bottom of the sea or in one of the eastern outposts. These travelers hold the blood elves in high regard, as they are also evolved children of the Highborne, and they too fought with Illidan. The time spent together in battle made the two races respect and admire each other's skills.
The naga can either take or leave the goblins and trolls, creatures who care nothing for their own pasts. The half-orcs, furbolgs, and pandaren don't trust the naga, and the naga feel the same way in return. They feel that divine magic practitioners are weak and without ambition. The naga are a neutral race for a very good reason: neither the Alliance nor the Horde will welcome them. The Alliance elicits nothing but rage in the minds of the naga. Their former brethren, the night elves, still thrive on the continent, and have not forgotten their grudges with the naga. Their blatant hatred of the night elves is only rivaled by the night elves' feelings for them. As night elf leaders Tyrande Whisperwind and Malfurion Stormrage are highly respected within the Alliance, their hatred and distrust of the naga has spread to the other races.
The races of the Horde are met with derisiveness from the naga; they would have no part of the Horde even if invited to join. The spiritual natures of these races are similar to the pandaren and furbolgs, and therefore worthy of similar disrespect. The naga consider the Horde to be nothing more than barbaric, weak-minded fools. They would sooner accept the night elves as masters than join the Horde. Even though the blood elves of Quel'Thalas are members of the Horde, there is no sign of diplomacy between the two powers; in addition to naga opinions, the Azerothian blood elves do not unilaterally accept the philosophy that Kael has adopted, and likely wish to avoid association with the naga. The naga seem to be hated by the Horde as they've assaulted their newfound friends, the tuskarr. The nagas' main rival for dominance of the ocean are sea giants and kvaldir; these creatures hate naga and slay them on sight.
Naga are dark creatures, evil and cunning. A naga might join forces with a being of another race in order to serve his own ends, however, much as Lady Vashj did with Illidan and his forces. Naga are selfish creatures, though, and think only of their own (and their race's) dominance. Their minds have little room for charity or kindness. A naga that renounced his evil ways would be a unique individual indeed. Some naga may be sent to the land on a mission, or they may be exiled who defy the naga queen. Few among the humanoid races are aware of the nagas' history, so most encounters deal primarily with their strange countenance. Naga characters can use disguise or magic to avoid notice. Naga heroes are usually limited to a few mutations. Far from the power of Nazjatar, the powers of the flesh are less likely to be awakened in this way.