No villain in the World of Warcraft canon better represents the stalwart series than Ragnaros, eternal lord of the Firelands and the original ultimate raid boss. Ask any longtime, vanilla WoW player about their favorite in-game memories, and they are bound to mention 40-man Molten Core and Ragnaros with breathless enthusiasm.
Our fiery liege has returned to live in last week's patch update for Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm in the form of a playable hero that rains molten death with the greatest of ease. But who is the elemental monster behind all the yelling and destruction? Allow me to take you through a journey of World of Warcraft's most iconic villain, the wielder of Sulfuras himself, Lord Ragnaros.
The Ancient War, and Flame...
In the beginning, Azeroth was ruled by four elemental lords who were all big jerks. As it goes, Ragnaros was the largest bully of them all, with his penchant for destruction causing the other elemental lords to harbor a grudge against the Fire Lord.
When the Old Gods began to threaten the kingdom of the elemental lords, the lords combined their forces in an attempt to fight. However, their army wasn't enough to emerge victorious, and they fell into slavery and servitude at the feet of the Old Gods' servants, the Faceless Ones and the insectoid Aqir. Ragnaros and his ilk were shoved back into the elemental plane of the Firelands.
The elemental's forced exile caused old hostilities to bubble forth, raging an all-out war known as the Elemental Sundering. This 5,000 year-long fight resulted in Ragnaros devouring the power of his brother Thunderaan, who in turn split that power among his trusted lieutenants. Later on, these lieutenants would lose this power, leading to Thudneraan's return, and of course, Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker.
Don't tell general chat I just said that out loud - You don't want to get them going.
Time would pass, with Ragnaros biding his time until the mortals of Azeroth would do something stupid and give the Firelord his chance at freedom.
The War of the Three Hammers has less to do with Ragnaros as an entity, and more to do with his summoning thanks to the Dark Iron dwarves. With two warring dwarf clans ready to smack him down, Dark Iron leader Thaurissan made the mistake of thinking anyone could control Ragnaros.
Awaking the elemental lord brought forth great destruction, including the shattering of Red Ridge Mountains, becoming what would later be known as Searing Gorge, Burning Steppes, and the infamous Blackrock Mountain. The Black Iron leaders were slaughtered by Ragnaros and his forces, leaving the dwarves with a spot to fill in terms of deities.
Thus, Ragnaros took up residence at the center of Blackrock - renamed Molten Core - and the Blackrock clan worshiped the Firelord's might. The other two dwarf factions "nope'd" right out of there, calling off the attack.
Ragnaros wouldn't be disturbed again until 40 randos looking for shiny armor and weapons would wander into his abode, ready for a fight.
A World Of War(craft)
The story picks back up with Azeroth in disarray, with self-styled "heroes" completing quests to kill wolves and turn many Murloc babies into orphans. At this time, our friend Ragnaros was ready to strike. To aid in his war, his most molten excellency devised a way to create life via golems.
This new army would assist his Dark Iron toadies in their war against the Blackrock Orcs, who were vying for control of the mountain while under the leadership of Nefarian, Deathwing's eldest baby boy.
As it turns out, Ragnaros merely had to wait for the Alliance and Horde to get itchy trigger fingers and make a run at Nefarian. The combined forces of Azeroth eventually handled all of the Firelord's enemies, leaving him in sole control of Blackrock Mountain and Molten Core.
Nothing lasts forever though, as these same heroes would come for Ragnaros, slaying him and sending his essence back to the Elemental Plane and Sulfuron Keep. Since an elemental lord can only be killed while in their elemental plane, this gave Ragnaros time to plot, making a plan to snuff out the world tree Nordrassil and finish what Archimonde started at the Battle for Mount Hyjal.
Ragnaros would fall yet again, this time dying in his own keep and having his heart stolen by the blue dragon Kalecgos. For now, the story of Ragnaros ends. I suppose we'll always have Molten Core, old friend.
Ragnaros is now available for purchase in Heroes of the Storm. For more information on him and the entire World of Warcraft, don't hesitate to visit our Wiki.
Will is a freelance writer and reporter in Austin, Texas that has appeared in Unwinnable Magazine, VideoGameWriters, and Venture Beat. He is also the gaming critic for the Toledo Blade, a daily, Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in Toledo, Ohio. His wife and two cats keep him sane above all else.