The arakkoa are an ancient race of bird-like humanoids native to Draenor. They have brightly feathered bodies in a veritable rainbow of colors, hooked beaks, clawed hands, taloned feet, and an erectile crest of feathers on their heads. They wear ragged cloaks about their bodies. Arakkoa appear to also have "sage" (with ornate shoulder and head ornaments) and "warrior" (with a metal helm and mail epaulets) classes. Hazzik mentions they have a caste system.
They have great magical power over the arcane, and are also as "smart as any gnome you ever met", according to Gremni Longbeard in the Hellfire Peninsula. Most are aggressive to both Alliance and Horde, although there are friendly members of the arakkoa to be found.
Arakkoa breed a species of owl called "Kaliri", which have valuable feathers. They also use several types of ravens and owls as guards.
Most non-arakkoa only know the stories of a hero named Terokk, told by exiles to the adventurers who travel from the world of Azeroth. Terokk is said to have built the city of Skettis with his own claws, and ruled as one of its most powerful kings for centuries before he disappeared without a trace, leaving behind his relics: his spear, his mask and his writings. During his reign, members of the lowest caste of the arakkoa people were sacrificed by his talonpriests to the dark powers they worshipped. Even today, his minions work in his name to commit evils throughout Terokkar Forest. At Veil Shienor and Veil Reskk, the Eyes of Skettis allow Terokk to spy on those areas. At Veil Skith, the arakkoa use the Darkstone of Terokk as an altar of worship. At Veil Rhaze, Terokk raises the spirits of the dead arakkoa killed in the Auchindoun explosion. At Veil Lithic, his minions corrupt the avians into his service. At Veil Shalas, the closest colony to Skettis, the arakkoa sages conduct wars against the Light. When Terokk disappeared, the talonpriests began actively seeking to return him to their world.
The arakkoa continued a nomadic existence on Draenor for thousands of years, though they suffered terribly during the Horde's first wars across Draenor. The resulting grudge against the orc race encouraged an arakkoa, Grizzik, to serve as a tracker and guide for Danath Trollbane's forces during the Alliance's expedition to Draenor. This arakkoa, seemingly alone, led Trollbane's soldiers to Auchindoun, and aided in the battle.
Recently, however, some have broken away from Skettis - some to free themselves from Terokk's evil, and others deluded by power. The Skettis Exiles, taken in by the naaru A'dal, reside in the Lower City of Shattrath, where they battle against Terokk's forces. The Sethekk are also breakaways from Skettis, but for a different reason. When Auchindoun exploded, an arakkoa named Ikiss believed that this was the second coming of the mysterious master of the arakkoa, and with a group of followers set out for Auchindoun - where they set up in what became known as the Sethekk Halls. Ikiss believes himself Terokk reborn, and believes he and his followers are the true followers of their master and true leaders of the arakkoa.
But deep inside Skettis, the arakkoa continue their battles against all who oppose them. The Sha'tari Skyguard, a group of Sha'tari flyers, have a base at Blackwind Landing, just outside of the Blackwind Valley where Skettis is located. On an island in the middle of Blackwind Lake, Terokk awaits the proper alignment of the stars to herald his return...
Warlords of Draenor
This section concerns content exclusive to Warlords of Draenor.
The winged arakkoa are the proud descendants of the once-grand Apexis civilization, a glorious empire of the sun that ruled vast territories alongside the ogre empire centuries ago. While many of the great works of their forebears remain a mystery, the arrakoa of this era – proud, hateful, and defiant – have mastered their own distinct magical arts to channel and control the power of Draenor’s sun. Although they’ve been reduced to a shade of their former power and driven high to the peaks of Arak, the Arakkoa still look down on the ground-dwellers below. Approach winged arakkoa with caution, as they are known to attack ground-dwellers on-sight.
- Arakkoa Outcasts
Discipline is harsh for any arakkoa who conflicts with the sages ruling the capital of Skyreach. Those found guilty of breaking the law, dabbling in shadow magic, or worshipping gods other than Rukhmar are hurled from the spires and into the cursed pools of Sethekk Hollow, where their wings shrivel and their bodies contort. No longer able to fly, and forever cut off from their sun god, these outcasts have formed their own communities in the shadows of the spires, particularly in the refuge city of Skettis. The outcasts are a tight-knit group and deeply distrustful, but they share common enemies with adventurers from Azeroth, and it may be possible to forge a relationship with them if one knows who to speak with.
Their capital is the hidden city of Skettis, located in the southeastern corner of Terokkar Forest. They have established various colonies across Terokkar Forest, known as veils: Veil Shienor and Veil Reskk in the north of Terokkar near the border with Hellfire Peninsula, and several along the Bone Wastes - Veil Skith, where the Darkstone of Terokk is located, Veil Rhaze, destroyed by the Auchindoun disaster, Veil Lithic, where the arakkoa corrupt avians into Terokk's service, and Veil Shalas, their greatest colony at the base of Skettis itself, where Terokk's sages wage war against the Light.
They also have established presences at Veil Ruuan, Veil Lashh, Veil Vekh and Grishnath in Blade's Edge Mountains and the Den of Haal'esh in Hellfire Peninsula. There are also two areas where arakkoa appear to have settled in Shadowmoon Valley, but all that remain of their settlements are ruins...and the ghosts of the inhabitants.
Known arakkoa factions
- Skettis: The veils of Terokkar Forest and the Blade's Edge Mountains are united under the control of Skettis. The city was reportedly built up by Terokk himself, and ruled for many hundreds of years before his sudden disappearance. Terokk was once a revered hero of the arakkoa, but it is now believed that he - and as a result, the arakkoa he ruled - have now turned to evil, raising the ghosts of the dead, corrupting the avians of Terokkar. Their hidden capital, Skettis is made up of four Veils, and controls all the veils of Terrokar, Blades Edge Mountains, Shadowmoon Valley and Hellfire Peninsula.
- Skettis Exiles: The Skettis exiles are a small faction of arakkoa who broke away from Terokk's evil and now reside in Shattrath City. Led by Kirrik the Awakened and his apprentice, Rilak the Redeemed, the Skettis exiles are affiliated with the Lower City of Shattrath, where the refugees of every war ever fought on Draenor (before and after its transformation into Outland) make their home. According to Rilak, the exiles' break from Skettis is believed to have been influenced, in no small part, by a revelation from the naaru.
- Sethekk: Led by the demented Talon King Ikiss, the Sethekk believe themselves to be the only true servants of the mysterious master of all arakkoa. When Auchindoun exploded after the summoning of Murmur, the Sethekk believed that this was a sign of the second coming of their master. Ikiss led his followers from Skettis to the ruins of Auchindoun, taking the relics of Terokk with them, and set up in what is now known as the Sethekk Halls. Here, Ikiss has declared himself Terokk reborn and expects all arakkoa to bow before him as their new ruler.
- Dark Conclave: A group of arakkoa, loyal to Skettis, who resided in Shadowmoon Valley prior to the rise of the First Horde. The conclave prepared to strike against the warlock Gul'dan as he conducted the ritual that would sever the orcs from the elemental spirits. Gul'dan discovered their intentions and, with powerful magic, destroyed their encampments and left them as little more than ghosts. Undeterred by their undeath, the Dark Conclave prepares to summon an ancient and powerful evil into Outland...
- Apexis: The Apexis are a now-extinct arakkoa civilization that resided near the area of the Blade's Edge Mountains now known as Ogri'la. The exact cause of their extinction, as well as the exact nature of the relics they left behind, is unknown.
Most arakkoa worship the god Rukhmar, and relatedly Terokk. The Sethekk worship Talon King Ikiss (who thinks himself Terokk returned) in the stead of Rukhmar. However, the small tribe of Skettis exiles worship the Light.
Players can use a trinket obtained off of Terokk, called Time-Lost Figurine, to turn their player character into an arakkoa for five minutes. While in this form, going into combat does not change the player back, making this a fun and near must-have for many players. The difficulty, length, and rareness of obtaining the item, however, make it so players with it are scarce.
There are several possible inspirations for their design:
- The Skeksis, an evil race of bird-men who feature in Jim Henson's 1982 fantasy movie The Dark Crystal. There is even a "Darkstone" in Veil Skith, on the western edge of the Bone Wastes.
- The Aarakocra in Dungeons & Dragons were likely also an influence on Blizzard's designers.
- There is also the possibility that the name is inspired by the Aracuan from the Disney movie The Three Caballeros.
- Though not proven, the arakkoa may also be inspired by the bird-like Chozo of the Metroid video game series. This theory can be backed by the extinct Apexis civilization and the relics they left behind.
- They also bear a strong resemblance to the Shrykes of The Edge Chronicles, both in appearance and architecture.
- The Amarantin from Alistair Reynolds science-fiction novel Revelation Space are a race of avian humanoids that bear a strong resemblance to the Arokkoa in both appearance and history.