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Behold World of Warcraft: Shadowlands’ new vampire haven

Meet the Venthyr Covenant and their realm of Revendreth

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - Revendreth concept art Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Revendreth is one of the four zones in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands and home to the Venthyr Covenant. The Venthyr are uniquely spooky, pulling off a gothic aesthetic in a realm full of vampires, castles, and blood rituals. It’s not all atonement and misery; Revendreth is also full of courtly politics and drama that are unique to the Shadowlands.

Polygon spoke with Blizzard Entertainment about the zone’s development, from the initial concept to the Dreadlord connection to the first raid of Shadowlands, Castle Nathria… and we discovered some surprising details about the Venthyr Covenant and their goals.

Welcome to Revendreth

“When we were talking about the different possibilities of the Shadowlands, we talked about what classic themes are related to afterlives and undead.” says Steve Danuser, lead narrative designer on World of Warcraft. A natural conclusion to that conversation was vampirism and blood magic, pulling inspiration from classic tales like Dracula. This also explains parts of Azeroth we’ve seen before, from the blood trolls of Nazmir to Blood Queen Lana’thel and her servants in Icecrown Citadel. We’ve seen the powers of the Venthyr before; now we get to meet them up close.

That initial premise of the zone was mixed with Greek mythology, Gothic architecture, and Blizzard concept art of tombstones designed for Shadowlands. These deliberate design decisions carry over to characters like Sire Denathrius, the Covenant’s leader, who just happens to have quite a lot in common with the series’ nefarious Dreadlords. Danuser is careful to avoid spoilers, but confirms that resemblance is intentional.

While the Maw is a super hell —the ultimate dark place where evil souls show up —Revendreth is a much lighter kind of damnation. This is a place where bad people can atone and make up for their sins. These sins are inscribed in a very literal stone that damned souls have to carry around as a reminder of their atrocities. That includes iconic characters like Kael’thas Sunstrider, who died in The Burning Crusade.

Kael’thas is a character fans have wanted back for a long time; many found his sudden heel turn and allegiance to the Burning Legion to be out of nowhere. Blizzard has an opportunity to revisit that story and flesh it out. We’ll find out more about Kael’thas and why he turned from an anti-hero into a villain that players had to kill not once, but twice. It also looks like we have a chance to redeem him and cast off his sin stone, suggesting that he’ll have a role to play in the story of Shadowlands as the expansion progresses.

Cleaning up the Court

World of Warcraft players aren’t dead souls getting judged — we’re heroes of Azeroth checking out the afterlife to solve its problems. The entire Shadowlands is starved of its life-fuel: Anima. While zones like Ardenweald and Bastion are wilting, the party is still going on in Revendreth. “It’s really a case of the haves versus the have nots,” says Danuser. The higher class nobles are doing just fine, but Venthyr who are on the outs are left to starve.

This leads to a series of conflicts, and while the inspirations for Revendreth are highbrow, in practice the Venthyr live for drama. Some characters believe in the mission of redeeming lost souls and helping them atone. Others are interested in accumulating power. Some Venthyr, like the Countess, are flexible, and try to play the Court to get as much power as possible. A player who joins the Venthyr Covenant will be smack-dab in the middle of these struggles.

This includes the Ember Court, the special Covenant activity at Shadowlands’ endgame. This is a Venthyr-only activity, where players have to manage a huge party and make sure it’s not a flop. Players will navigate the court and make their own choices. There’s some agency as to what the player thinks the perfect ball will look like: You’re bouncing out undesirables, but you’re also making small talk and party planning.

While the other afterlives of Shadowlands have strong themes of nobility, martial might, or nature, the Venthyr are more complex. That being said, there’s still a goodness there — the Venthyr do ultimately want to help souls move on, whether that’s to one of the other zones in Shadowlands, or to become a Venthyr themselves and join the Court. As they progress through the Covenant storyline, they’ll get to resolve the class war brewing between the various levels of nobility in Revendreth. Once players choose the Venthyr, they’ll get introduced to a whole new layer of intrigue and politics.

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