Edwin VanCleef is one of the greatest human engineers in history, the unquestioned leader of the Defias Brotherhood and one of the most important criminals that threatens the kingdom of Stormwind.
Edwin VanCleef was once a "roofwalker" in Stormwind with a specialty in defeating mechanical defenses. Yet, when the Horde destroyed the city, he was called upon because of the skills he learned as a child at the side of his father, a master stonemason, and was one of the first to offer his talents to rebuild Stormwind City.
The reconstruction of Stormwind
Edwin VanCleef was originally one of the architects that worked on the rebuilding of Stormwind City at the end of the Second War. The reconstruction of Stormwind was an arduous task, but with such a genius as VanCleef masterminding the operation, the project was completed smoothly and in less than ten years. However, the House of Nobles refused to pay the Stonemasons Guild for their work.
Some of the more senior of the Stonemasons, including VanCleef, were offered governmental jobs if they’d just be quiet and play along. However, Edwin VanCleef was not willing to betray his workmen. He spat on the floor and walked out of the halls he'd built, vowing that he'd make the city pay one way or another. Shortly afterward, at VanCleef's urging, workers rioted in Stormwind City. Several people died, including the King of Stormwind's wife Tiffin Wrynn. As a result, VanCleef and various other artisans were the first to be cast out of the city gates.
The Brotherhood begins
- See also: Defias Brotherhood
After teaching the Stonemasons the skills he learned from the city's thieves, he helped them adapt to the wild until they had perfected their ability to ambush travelers. When the Stormwind Guard began to respond, VanCleef and the tinkers in their group augmented the abilities of the renegades with mechanical devices and weapons.
VanCleef then turned to more ruthless tactics: Merchants who brought goods to Stormwind were robbed, farmsteads that provided Stormwind with food were razed, or infested with harvest golems. As VanCleef strangled Stormwind, stone by stone, he used the money he stole to pay for bands of mercenaries. Some of his men were captured, but VanCleef played even that to his advantage; inside the Stockade of Stormwind City, his men gathered a force for rebellion. Stormwind and its loyal townships found themselves under an unexpected siege, and thanks to sinister machinations of others, the towns' cries for help went unheard.
VanCleef's search for a secure location where he could build a tinker's works led him across Westfall to the Deadmines. Once his laboratory was constructed, he entered the mines. The brotherhood hired bandits and captured the goblins of Westfall at Edwin's command. Mercenaries, brigands, criminals, soldiers, outlaws and rebels also joined the brotherhood, and buoyed by his success, VanCleef christened his gang Defias Brotherhood. And so, the Defias Brotherhood was created, founded as an instrument of revenge.
VanCleef and the other commanders prefer its members to master a wider variety of skills than those of a pure soldier. Later on, the Defias Brotherhood, led by Edwin VanCleef, attempted to take Elwynn Forest but failed.
After the Third War
He has rarely left the Deadmines in more than two decades, yet he knows of everything happening across central Azeroth, particularly where the Brotherhood is involved. Rumors say that in recent years he has grown particularly zealous in his belief in technology's means to defeat Stormwind.
Beneath the famed Deadmines of Westfall, located beneath the former Alliance town of Moonbrook, VanCleef commissioned the reconstruction of a huge war machine, an ogre juggernaut from the First War.
In World of Warcraft
This section concerns content exclusive to World of Warcraft.
- Main article: Edwin VanCleef (tactics)
From aboard the ship located deep within the Deadmines, VanCleef awaited the moment at which he would strike at his hated foe. Before this could take place, however, adventurers of the Alliance, having previously learned of the headquarters of the Defias Brotherhood, entered the Deadmines and assaulted VanCleef's ship. After a battle, they managed to defeat VanCleef. The adventurers took his head to Gryan Stoutmantle, who said that this event marked the end of the Defias Brotherhood. Yet they were left with the disconcerting worry that not all matters with the Brotherhood were yet resolved, subsequent events would prove that despite VanCleef's death, the plans of the Defias Brotherhood were underway. VanCleef's death was later informed to King Varian, who informed Jaina Proudmoore of it and they thought that the Defias was broken. But Jaina later discovered that the Defias were still active, even in Dustwallow Marsh.
In Wrath of the Lich King
This section concerns content exclusive to Wrath of the Lich King.
- Main article: Memory of VanCleef
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
VanCleef was previously expected to appear in the new heroic version of the Deadmines in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Lorewise, Edwin VanCleef is dead, but the Defias Brotherhood did not die with him. His daughter Vanessa, hiding under an alias, has arisen to become the new leader of the Defias Brotherhood. She has unleashed a plot to bring down Stormwind after witnessing the assassination of her father some five years before.
Small and wiry, the man has a mousy look about him. He wears the sweaty, oil-stained clothes typical of a peasant laborer, along with a short cloak and thick leather gloves. The man’s overall appearance is so common, in fact, that he would be almost instantly forgettable if not for the spotless, scarlet bandana fastened around his neck. Despite his unseemly appearance, he has a cunning look in his eyes and a partially concealed blade sheathed underneath one arm. His face is now wasted and hollow; he is no longer the noble figure he once was, but is obviously corrupt.
Edwin VanCleef relies on his unassuming appearance to avoid most fights. When engaging in battle, he always prefers to take the offensive; he is known to frequently retreat from combat only to circle around and strike a few minutes later when his enemies have lowered their guard. VanCleef uses his longbow to surprise enemies from a great distance away, then draws his rapier and sneaks to a second hiding spot. When his enemies approach, investigating the location from which the arrows originated, he springs forth and attempts a sneak attack. He prefers to strike at lightly armored targets first in the hope that he might be able to incapacitate or kill them outright with a single sneak attack.
He is involed in the following quests:
- Edwin Vancleef says: None may challenge the brotherhood!
- Edwin Vancleef says: Lapdogs! All of you...
- Edwin Vancleef says: Fools! Our cause is Righteous!
- Edwin Vancleef says: The Brotherhood shall prevail!
- VanCleef's name most probably comes from Lee Van Cleef, a western film actor, who usually played villains that were similar to VanCleef.
Defias Brotherhood Kingpin