Mysterious Missives Part 1 & 2: Lore of Hearthstone's The Witchwood
Learn more about the characters of The Witchwood with some dedicated lore provided by Blizzard!
Quote from Daxxarri
As you prepare to face the evil in The Witchwood, it would be wise to arm yourself with knowledge of the key players in this unfolding conflict. Fortunately for you, such knowledge has mysteriously materialized. . . .
The source of the following dossiers is a mystery, and it is uncertain whether you should actually even trust the information contained herein. After all, in these dark times, rumors fly like a murder of crows.
Still, even the slightest knowledge of who’s who could be just the edge you need to survive the curse. Read on, brave monster hunter.
Hagatha the Witch
Profession: The Witch in the Woods
Hobbies: Croc-het, homebrewing, debating the plural form of “Shaman”
We do not know much about Hagatha’s true nature. Is she indeed the source of the curse, as rumored? Or is she merely another one of its victims? Was she a survivor of some great battle who dragged herself deep into the forest and fell prey to dark magic? A wicked manifestation of the forest’s anger, furious with intruders and despoilers? An unusually skilled shaman, whose ambition and desire for vengeance have outstripped all good sense?
Somewhere, on the bank of a dank and deadly swamp in the depths of the forest, she waits. When she speaks, every malignant thing in the woods bends an ear to listen. When she breathes, coils of glowing mist drift between tangled branches, and restless spirits wake from timeless slumber. When she rages, gnarled trees with jagged grins uproot themselves, and whole hillsides rise to lumber into the night. When she dreams, the people of Gilneas have recurring nightmares of a great serpent that threatens to devour the moon. In her despair, the vile and bizarre Shudderwock stalks the land.
She is terrifying, but she isn’t a mindless force of nature, nor is she all-powerful. She is lucid, cunning, and plotting.
We do not know why she hates this city and its people, nor whether she really even does—Gilneas may be just an obstacle to a larger goal. Whatever Hagatha’s ultimate motive, the curse is already closing its shadowy claws around the city, and she will not stop until it is lost to the Witchwood.
King Genn Greymane
Profession: King of Gilneas
Hobbies: Formerly: Hubris, Poor foreign policy, Vengeance (against Sylvanas the Banshee Queen). Current: Sovereignty, Fatherhood, Craft cocktails.
We dare not approach the king too closely, but this is what we know.
Genn Greymane is King of Gilneas (the country and the city). His arrogance, stubbornness, and overconfidence once led Gilneas down a path of isolationism that brought it to the brink of destruction. Had he not learned to be a better ruler since those days, the city might already be lost.
In the days since the curse began afflicting the wood, he has worked tirelessly in the service of his city. He is often confined to his study, working into the wee hours by gaslight, night after night. The constant flow of reports emerging from the city allow him no rest: disappearances in the wood, horrifying shapes with glowing eyes stalking the city streets, and an endless array of ever stranger and more disturbing phenomena. There are even rumors that citizens have turned to a doomsaying “Crowskin” cult that operates in shadowy back rooms and cellars.
The normally tough-minded people of Gilneas are gripped with fear, suspicion, and superstition, but King Greymane has an iron will, and he expects the same of his subjects. His response has been to crack down, demanding absolute discipline and dedication. He’s tasked one of his finest thieftakers with investigating the cult, a man named Shaw. That’s not all: the Worgen King is currently recruiting the best monster hunters in Gilneas for a sortie into the forest.
No subtlety here: he intends to confront the threat head-on and howling.
Princess Tess Greymane
Profession: Princess, Heir to the Throne of Gilneas
Hobbies: Espionage, tea, assassination, baking, knives, the interior design of sewers, secret societies
Princess Tess Greymane is heir to the throne of Gilneas, and by all accounts a woman of extraordinary skill and razor wit. Tess combines her father’s iron will with a subtlety and deftness he’s always lacked. She’s well renowned for cleverly using her enemies’ best tricks against them, and she’d make a powerful Queen—though she seems to have little interest in matters of state. In fact, she spends an unusual amount of time around low-born thieves, rogues, and rapscallions.
Lately her behavior has been most concerning. The Princess has been seen haunting—figuratively, as she’s not dead . . . yet—the lonely, rocky shorelines of Gilneas. As the fog rolls in off the sea, she confronts eerie visitors: spectral buccaneers from the depths, whose unquiet spirits rise from the icy gray surf. Even those who know how very formidable the Princess can be fear for her safety during these nightly sojourns. These spirits seem less spectral and more solid with each passing night.
She may need to abandon her pet project soon, in any event. The hunters entering the Witchwood will have need of her skills.
Prince Liam Greymane
Profession: Former Prince of Gilneas. Friendly Ghost
Hobbies: Doing good from the Great Beyond
Prince Liam’s devotion to his father and people was unceasing before he fell in defense of Gilneas. That was long ago—long before the curse. Recently, sightings of the Prince’s ghost have been reported. Rumors among the peasantry seem to imply that Liam’s spirit appears to people who are in great danger, and helps them do extraordinary, unbelievable things.
Perhaps the Prince feels that he failed his people once, and a desire to do better keeps him fettered to this mortal plane. Perhaps the curse denies him his eternal rest. Whatever the case, Prince Liam is not done serving Gilneas.
Profession: Countess, Unknown
Hobbies: Being enigmatic, magic, acquiring dangerous friends
The Countess is an enigma. No one in Gilneas seems to have heard of her noble line prior to the Witchwood curse, but suddenly, the records show an Ashmore family tree stretching all the way back to pre-Alliance days, written in a hand none of the royal scribes recognize. She’s taken up residence in an old manor that’s been abandoned since before the first battle of Gilneas, but while some claim that many voices can be heard emerging from the old estate, she’s the only one who’s been seen entering or leaving. Rumor has it that she’s researching the curse, and she’s been seen asking questions of those who claim to have witnessed dragons in the wood.
Is she truly the scion of a forgotten noble family returned home in a time of great need? Or something much more dangerous?
Profession: Royal Master of Hounds, thieftaker
Hobbies: Dogs, doggos, pups, hounds, grooming, flea baths, unleashing justice
A renowned hunter of criminal, beast, and monster, the man known as Houndmaster Shaw has humble roots. So humble, in fact, that he is rumored to have been raised by a pack of hounds on the streets of the city! While that story is of dubious provenance, there’s no questioning the man’s skills. He has an almost supernatural way with the animals in his care, and he ascended from the gutters into the king’s service as a thieftaker and master of hounds—all on his own merits. He certainly didn’t charm his way into the position—Shaw doesn’t get on nearly as well with people as he does with his four-legged charges—but he does get results. The tracking ability of his prize hounds—Princess, Butch, and Bubba—as well as the shocking speed of his raids on thieves and smuggler’s dens, are the stuff of legend in the Gilnean underworld.
While many others have given themselves over to fear under the influence of the curse, the unflappable houndmaster has been calmly getting to work. The sharp noses of his hounds, as well as his own keen instincts, have put him on the trail of the leader of the Crowskin cult. It’s only a matter of time before he tracks the hag down in her lair.
Profession: Cult leader, pawn
Hobbies: Motivational speaking, shadow puppetry, cooking, the care and feeding of huts
The ancient forest surrounding Gilneas was never entirely safe, even before it was cursed and transformed into the Witchwood, and entities like Glinda Crowskin are the reason why. For as long as anyone in Gilneas can recall, there have been tales of a sinister crone in the woods who can grant one’s fondest desire—for the modest price of a human heart.
It’s very likely that Glinda Crowskin is the mastermind behind the “Crowskin cult” that has sunk its claws into the city’s underbelly. Her deluded followers believe that Hagatha will grant them power in exchange for devotion. They break Greymane’s curfew, sneaking into the forest in the dead of night to drink strange concoctions and perform mysterious rites. More disturbing still: somehow, more of the cultists return to the city after these nightly sojourns than had snuck into the woods in the first place.
Lord Darius Crowley
Profession: Gilnean noble, military commander, former rebel
Hobbies: Cannons, cannon towers, cannonballs, and cannons
Despite a colorful past, Lord Darius Crowley has earned an unassailable reputation among the people of Gilneas. Once disgraced and imprisoned for leading a rebellion against King Genn Greymane, Crowley nonetheless proved himself a staunch defender of Gilneas in conflict after conflict. Due to his exemplary service—not to mention dauntless ferocity—he and his once-bitter rival now pay one another grudging respect. King Greymane knows who he can call upon when he needs results at any cost.
Crowley is eager to crush Gilneas’ enemies in the Witchwood, and he is approaching the problem as he would a military campaign. While some might turn to mystic trinkets or ancient superstitions to get an edge, Crowley has yet to encounter a threat that well-crafted iron, steel, and wood could not dispatch, especially when explosives are involved. Darius has the city’s genius engineers working the foundries night and day to construct engines of war—cannons in particular.
When Crowley’s confrontation with the monsters in the Witchwood comes, it will not be quiet.
Profession: Former Gilnean noble
Hobbies: Betrayal, plots, manipulation, ambition, regicide, trick shots, polishing glasses
Even while still among the living, Lord Godfrey had a penchant for cold-blooded self-interest and treachery: he devastated Lord Darius Crowley by political maneuvering, probably instigating a rebellion in the process. Then, while Gilneas itself was under siege, he betrayed King Greymane. After Godfrey’s untimely demise, the Dark Lady Sylvanas resurrected him among her undead Forsaken, but expecting anything resembling loyalty from a creature like Godfrey is always a deadly mistake. He betrayed her as well, then fled to an abandoned keep to continue doing what he does best: pursuing his own interests.
Precisely what those interests might be remains a mystery, but it seems that Godfrey has chosen this moment to act. Since the curse descended on the Witchwood, he left the seclusion of the keep he’s haunted for years, and has recently been sighted near the city. It’s not clear what he’s planning—or what he hopes to gain—but devastation tends to follow whereever Godfrey treads.
Profession: Puppet maker
Hobbies: Puppeteering, puppet making, puppets, poppets, dolls, action figures, marionettes, figurines, homunculi, collecting, conventions, auctions, amateur surgery
Master Dorian is a very nice man.
A kind man. Very kind.
He knows what’s best.
He makes puppets, did you know?
(This report is to be disregarded. It was delivered by a doppelganger of the agent we sent to investigate Dorian’s possible association with the Crowskin cult. The duplicate has been disposed of, but we still do not know the whereabouts of the missing agent.)