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All life must end...

The Scourge is one of four major undead factions existing in the world of Azeroth (the other three being the Forsaken, the Knights of the Ebon Blade and the Risen), and a major player for control of the world. They have a vast "empire".[1] [2] Created initially as the precursor to an invasion by the Burning Legion after their previous failures, the Scourge broke free from their demonic masters and — under the iron rule of the dread Lich King — have built up their power base on the Arctic continent of Northrend. Their influence spreads throughout Northrend, as well as the Plaguelands in northern Lordaeron and southern Quel'Thalas, and even Kalimdor to a small degree. A terrifying and insidious enemy, the Scourge remains perhaps the most dangerous threat to the world of Azeroth.

Monstrous Scourge

Some creatures of the Scourge are not technically undead, but instead are monstrous constructions created by the science and magical experimentation of the acolytes and necromancers following Ner'zhul. A good example would be the Abominations. These constructed creatures fashioned by the perverse experimentation of the Lich King's followers are hideous and do not occur in any natural fashion.

Monstrous members of the Scourge are not particularly intelligent, having been created from the leftover pieces of enemies and friends alike. They are, however, very loyal and almost fanatically devoted to whatever task is appointed to them. These creatures are not truly individuals, having little will of their own other than that given to them on creation or through the current descriptions given in their orders.[3]


Ner'zhul's jailors being sent to Azeroth.

The Scourge was (and still is) a vast army of the undead created by the Lich King — the being formerly known as the orc shaman Ner'zhul. Under the control of the Burning Legion, the Scourge's mission was to spread terror and destruction across the world in anticipation of the Legion's inevitable invasion. The Lich King, who ruled the icy realm of Northrend from his Frozen Throne, created the terrible Plague of Undeath, which he sent southward into human lands. As the plague encroached on the southlands, countless humans fell prey to Ner'zhul's mental control and life-draining sickness every day, swelling the ranks of the already-considerable Scourge.

Though Ner'zhul and his Undead Scourge were bound to the will of the Burning Legion, the Lich King constantly strove to free himself and gain vengeance upon the demons for dismembering his body and damning him so completely. Shortly before the Battle of Mount Hyjal, Ner'zhul engineered the downfall of the Legion by having his Champion, Arthas Menethil, alert the Demon Hunter Illidan Stormrage to the presence of the Legion in Felwood. Illidan's attack on the demons there brought about the death of Tichondrius and the destruction of the Skull of Gul'dan, which greatly weakened the Legion and made it possible for the Alliance, Horde, and Night Elf forces to stop Archimonde during the Battle of Mount Hyjal. It was at this point that Ner'zhul was finally capable of making his bid for freedom, effectively cutting all ties to the remaining demons as well as the remaining demon lord, Kil'jaeden. Such a move inspired Kil'jaeden to incredible heights of anger, and it was the demon's turn to lust after vengeance. But, thanks to the Legion's defeat, Kil'jaeden was stripped of his capacity to simply bring about swift destruction, and was forced to use more subtle methods to dispose of his rebellious creation.

Shortly after the Battle of Mount Hyjal, Kil'jaeden contacted Illidan Stormrage with an offer too tempting for the Demon Hunter to refuse: Slay the Lich King and be granted the great power of a demon lord. Gathering his once-Highborne allies, the Naga, Illidan traveled to the Tomb of Sargeras and began weaving a massive spell targeting the Frozen Throne using the Eye of Sargeras. However, the spell was interrupted at the eleventh hour by Illidan's brother Malfurion Stormrage, Maiev Shadowsong, and Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider. Though the spell was not completed, enough potent fel energy had been siphoned to cause a fracture in the Lich King's icy prison. This caused Ner'zhul's powers to weaken, especially his control of his undead. It was during this time that a large band of undead, led by Sylvanas Windrunner, regained their free will and left the Scourge and named themselves the Forsaken. Desperate, Ner'zhul contacted Arthas, the greatest of his Death Knights, by telepathy and commanded him to return to Icecrown Citadel at once.

Army of the dead (fanart).

However, the matter was complicated by Kil'jaeden once again. Growing impatient with Illidan's failures, the demon lord instructed him, with his allies the Naga and newly named Blood Elves, to travel to Northrend and put an end to the Lich King personally. Arthas's undead forces battled Illidan's army at the base of the glacier, the aftermath of which left Illidan wounded and his troops broken. Arthas, victorious, proceeded into the Lich King's throne chamber where he used the runeblade Frostmourne to shatter the Frozen Throne and free the essence of Ner'zhul. The spirit of the Orcish shaman then bonded with that of Arthas, and Arthas/Ner'zhul became one of the most powerful beings the world had ever known.

After the merging of Arthas and Ner'zhul, the Lich King entered a period of dormancy as he slept and dreamed atop the Frozen Throne. In the meantime, his minions rebuilt Icecrown Citadel as he made his plans for conquest of all of Azeroth. Finally, after several years, the Lich King awoke and unleashed his attack on the unsuspecting world. The forces of both the Alliance and Horde then arrived in Northrend to confront the Scourge on its home soil, until at last they were prepared for a final assault on Icecrown. After facing a gauntlet of the Scourge's most powerful leaders, the greatest champions were able to reach the Frozen Throne to confront the Lich King himself. In the epic battle that ensued, Tirion Fordring used the sword Ashbringer to shatter Frostmourne, releasing the spirits within that then aided the champions as they sent Arthas to his demise. This did not mean the end of the Scourge, however, as the spirits of both Uther the Lightbringer and King Terenas Menethil II had warned that without anyone to control it, the Scourge would run rampant across the world. As Fordring contemplated placing the crown upon his head (thinking there was no one else who could accept such a burden) the disfigured Bolvar Fordragon appeared and stated that it was his fate to be the Jailer of the Damned. In addition, he said that the world must be told that both he and the Lich King were dead and never know the truth about what had really happened if it was to live free from the tyranny of fear. Fordring then reluctantly crowned Fordragon as the new Lich King, and moments later ice imprisoned the Lich King once more.

With Fordragon as the new Lich King, the majority of the Scourge are presumably now contained in Northrend. It is unknown how this will affect any of Arthas' surviving lieutenants. Also, it is unclear as to what will happen to the Scourge still in Lordaeron, Quel'Thalas, and Kalimdor and how their continued presence (if they do still exist) would be explained if everyone thought the Lich King had been destroyed. Furthermore, should Fordragon ever lose control or succumb to corruption, the Scourge will undoubtedly become a threat to the world once more.


A stylized and symmetrical banner seen around Icecrown.

Prior to Arthas' defeat, he was at the top of the organization as the Lich King, who sent orders from his ice fortress in Northrend. His direct underlings were liches, undead mages and necromancers with incredible power to spread plague and command undead armies. It is unknown how many liches there were, but Arthas’s right-hand lich was Kel’Thuzad, who reigned in Lordaeron and had his hands full fighting the Scarlet Crusade and the Forsaken, the undead who broke free from the control of the Lich King. Kel'Thuzad continued the fight against the Horde and Alliance in Northrend when Naxxramas moved to the Dragonblight prior to his final defeat. (Or his presumed defeat, anyway, as his phylactery was nowhere to be seen after his death.) The banshees under his command often led scouting troops to discover new areas to infiltrate, while other important Scourge members included necromancers, responsible for raising and commanding the dead, and the Cult of the Damned, a bizarre group of mortals so fascinated by the undead that they follow them, worship them, even emulate them, hoping to one day be damned as the undead are. They don’t see the foulness and evil, but rather power and eternal life.

Most of the undead reported to a region’s leadership of necromancers or liches, who in turn reported to Kel’Thuzad. He reported pertinent information to Arthas, but he didn't inundate his lord with all of the details of the happenings on the continents. If they took over another city the size of Stratholme, or re-enslaved the Forsaken, that would be news worthy of telling the Lich King. The rogue undead, the Forsaken, were wild cards: Arthas lost much of his power over the undead before becoming the Lich King, which allowed one of the more powerful banshees, Sylvanas Windrunner, to escape his hold. She freed many more undead creatures, and currently leads the Forsaken from her tunnel complex underneath the former capital city of Lordaeron. While they are not part of the Scourge and do not fall into the Scourge organization, they work along the same lines — kill the living and dominate the undead. Arthas saw the Forsaken as something akin to lost sheep, and would have rather brought them back into the Scourge than eliminate their forces. He had many plans for Azeroth, so he couldn't focus entirely on Sylvanas. The interesting thing about the Scourge was that the farther from a lich or a necromancer they got, the more disoriented they were. They lost the command of the Lich King, but they didn’t necessarily become free. Once the will of the necromancer or other controlling force left them, they had no memory of their former selves, and they shuffled around as mindless husks, searching for someone to lead them. Only necromancers can command the undead.

Arthas led the Scourge in Northrend from the Frozen Throne, completely dominating Icecrown. The Scourge’s secondary base was the continent of Lordaeron, in the city of Stratholme, Arthas’s first conquest. It was a bustling city of 25,000 people, and now it lies in burning ruin. There are few remaining mortals there, except for those of the Cult of the Damned and the Scarlet Crusade. Lordaeron’s northern and eastern areas are practically abysmal with the Scourge. Their foul stench permeates the air. Yet the Scourge has reached all areas of the world, dripping down through Khaz Modan and into Azeroth, and even west to Razorfen Downs Kalimdor. Arthas wanted his finger on everything happening in the world, and he had the forces to do it. About the only place the Scourge doesn’t go is the Undercity in Lordaeron, but there are so many Forsaken there, that one couldn’t tell if there is Scourge presence there or not. Though, the Forsaken might know.[4]

With Arthas' defeat and Fordragron's ascendancy as the new Lich King, it is unknown what the new command structure of the Scourge is or will be in the future. Of particular interest is what will happen with the Cult of the Damned and how they will react to the new Lich King, or if they are even yet aware as to the change in leadership.


The members of the Scourge are easy to spot, smell and identify. And it doesn’t take much to join. All it takes is to either love the Scourge or be undead and under the Lich King’s spell, and you’re in. One does not need to do much to be in this organization. Some of the first members were mortals who had fallen in the undead plague. People sickened from the plague and died, only to rise as zombies. This city-razing technique proved to be not as efficient as the Lich King desired, apparently, because he started telling his necromancers to desecrate graveyards and raise up even more members. Only two things seem to separate a Scourge servitor from the Lich King’s will: whatever faltering in the Lich King’s power allowed the Forsaken to free themselves from his grasp, and destruction of their bodies. Scourge creatures are bidden to do the Lich King’s will, and they do this with a blind fervor. The Cult of the Damned is an enigma. No one knows why they do what they do. Whatever the reason, they willfully follow the Scourge, dressing in dark robes, doing their bidding, while helping to spread the plague into more and more cities.[5]

The Scourge in Azeroth

The Scourge is primarily concentrated in the Plaguelands. Their primary fortification and "capital" in Lordaeron is the ruined city of Stratholme, under the rule of Baron Rivendare the scourge controls the majority of the city but the humans of the Scarlet Crusade hold a small section. The Scourge has also been seen in Tirisfal Glades and Silverpine Forest in Lordaeron, and all along the Dead Scar in Quel'Thalas which runs from the Ghostlands all the way into Eversong Woods through Silvermoon to the Sunwell Plateau itself. They also have been reported to have a presence as far away as the Barrens in Kalimdor; "ambassadors" from the Scourge as well as powerful undead beings have fortified themselves (along with the plagued Razorfen quilboars) in Razorfen Downs.

The necromancer-lich Kel'Thuzad the majordomo of the Lich King, once controlled the Scourge in Lordaeron from his citadel of Naxxramas, floating over Stratholme and Plaguewood in the Eastern Plaguelands but Kel'Thuzad recently retreated along with his floating fortress and returned to Northrend in order to combat the forces of Dalaran and the combined might of the Alliance and the Horde. The high elf traitor Dar'Khan Drathir, slain during the Third War rules the Scourge in Quel'Thalas from the fortress of Deatholme in the southern Ghostlands (to the northeast of Stratholme) while Amnennar the Coldbringer, a lich, rules the Razorfen Downs in Kalimdor

Notable commanders and allies

Notable former servants of the Scourge

Minions of the Scourge

  • IconSmall Lich Male.gifIconSmall Lich Female.gif Lich: The Lich King's most powerful spell-casters, most of them were once orc shamans, warlocks and Death Knights. Kel'Thuzad, resurrected by Arthas during the invasion of Quel'Thalas, is the most renowned and most powerful of the liches, and is styled as the Archlich as a result. Other liches include Araj the Summoner, former headmaster of Scholomance, Ras Frostwhisper, who conducts experiments in Scholomance's laboratory, and Amnennar the Coldbringer, master of Razorfen Downs.
  • IconSmall Necromancer.gif Necromancer: Members of the Cult of the Damned who practice death magics. Kel'Thuzad, the master of the Cult of the Damned, is a former necromancer. In life, Dar'Khan Drathir — overlord of the Scourge in Quel'Thalas — was a necromancer, but whether or not he retains his powers of necromancy after his death at the hands of Anveena Teague (and later resurrection) is unclear.
  • IconSmall Skeleton.gif Skeleton Warrior: Raised by the necromancers to battle against the enemies of the Scourge.
  • IconSmall Gargoyle.gif Gargoyle: Fliers who possess the ability to turn to stone to heal themselves.
  • IconSmall Zombie.gif Zombie: Shambling, mindless corpses with a desire to consume human flesh; they also serve as "cannon fodder" in the mass armies of the Scourge.
  • IconSmall Skeleton.gif Skeleton: Mindless, bony monstrosities, and the primary "grunt" of the Scourge Army.
  • IconSmall Ooze.gif Ooze: Plague carrying oozes serve as its spreaders.
  • IconSmall BoneGolem.gif Bone golem: Deadly undead constructs made entirely of bones.
  • IconSmall CryptFiend.gif Crypt fiend: Formerly the warriors of Azjol-Nerub, raised by the Lich King after the Spider War.
  • IconSmall Shade.gif Shade: Ghosts of acolytes who give their lives willingly to the Lich King. Often shades serve as scouts, unseen by normal eyes, allowing the undead to ambush the unwary. The dreaded Eyes of Naxxramas in Stratholme are prime examples of the use of this tactic, as they will summon gargoyles to attack if they are not killed quickly. The Eyes of Dar'Khan in Deatholme are also shades.
  • IconSmall Wraith.gif Wraith: Vengeful spirits that retain their intelligence and individuality.
  • IconSmall Ghoul.gif Ghoul: Among the Scourge's shock troopers, ghouls — especially those in Eastern Plaguelands — have the trapped souls of the innocent still within their rotted forms.
  • IconSmall Abomination.gif Abomination: These massive creatures are made from several human bodies tied together. They are exceptionally strong, and are used by both the Scourge and the Forsaken.
  • IconSmall FrostWyrm.gif Frost wyrm: The resurrected corpses of blue dragons, combining their frost magics with their fealty to the Lich King. Sapphiron, guardian of Kel'Thuzad's inner sanctum in Naxxramas, is a frost wyrm.
  • IconSmall DeathKnight.gif Death knight: Corrupted Paladins who have forsaken the Light in favor of eternal life as a servitor of the Lich King. Before fusing with the Lich King, Arthas was once the first and greatest of the Death Knights; others include Baron Rivendare, Lord of Stratholme; Darkreaver, who is summoned in Scholomance; and the Four Horsemen, who reside in Naxxramas.
  • IconSmall FleshGiant.gif IconSmall Cyborg.gif Flesh giant: Gigantic versions of abominations, flesh giants are created by stitching together the corpses of slain giants native to Northrend. A different type of flesh giant, developed in Naxxramas (Grobbulus) is an example of this) have had huge syringes placed where their right hand would be, allowing them to inject vile substances into their enemies.
  • IconSmall FleshTitan.gif Flesh titan: Horrific constructs created with greater intellect than the simple-minded abominations, and they possess deadly electrical attacks. Thaddius, located inside Naxxramas, was the first flesh titan to be seen in WoW; it is said that he was stitched together with the bodies of women and children, and that their souls are bound together in eternal torment within this cursed form. Another flesh titan is Thrym, created by Prince Navarius using the corpses of storm giants.
  • IconSmall Plague-dog.gif Undead beast: Humanoids are not the only things stitched together into horrific monsters. These creatures are created using only animal parts. Gluth, the plague-dog that feasts on defective zombies in Naxxramas, is one of the few undead beast known to exist.
  • IconSmall FungalMonster.gif Fungal monster: Essentially gigantic walking fungi, these beasts are either corrupted bog beasts from Azerothian swamps or actually grown within places like Naxxramas (as the plague grows huge fungal vales, such as Plaguewood). Loatheb, who resides in Naxxramas, is a fungal monster.
  • IconSmall Vrykul Male.gif IconSmall Vrykul Female.gif IconSmall FrostVrykul Male.gif IconSmall FrostVrykul Female.gif Vrykul: In recent days, the vrykul — a race of vampiric half-giants native to Northrend — have made their reappearance after millennia of slumber. Led by King Ymiron, the vrykul have allied themselves with the Lich King so that he will raise their dead as warriors in his service. In addition, the Scourge appears to be aiding the vrykul in expanding underneath the Howling Fjord.
  • IconSmall Val'kyr.gif Val'kyr: Vrykul women "ascended to immortality" by the Lich King to aid him in dominating the spirit world.
  • IconSmall PlagueEruptor.gif Plague eruptor: The Lich King's most recent experiment, the rotted skin of these grotesque creatures are covered with plague-ridden pustules which spread the Lich King's dread contagion when they burst.
  • IconSmall Darkfallen Male.gifIconSmall Darkfallen Female.gif Darkfallen: Darkfallen are what appear to be vampiric elven necromancers. The San'layn, a group of renegade elven princes, are darkfallen.
  • IconSmall Geist.gif Geist: These creatures were once executed criminals that have been raised in undeath by the Scourge.
  • IconSmall Worgen.gif Worgen: Large, wolf-like humanoids, reminiscent of a werewolf, that exist only to terrorize and destroy. These creatures are thoroughly evil, delighting in torturing victims and devouring intelligent creatures. It was due to Arugal's summonings that some of the ravenous worgen were brought into the world of Azeroth.

Manual of Monsters

Appart from the mentioned above, the Appendix Three of Manual of Monsters mentions the following allies of the Scourge: Alley Reaper, Chardun-Slain, Corpse Whisperer, Golem, Crystal, Fleshcrawlers, Huecuva, Fleshcrawlers, Nightshades, Wyvern (Drakonid), Hag, Swamp, Ice Haunt, Marrow Knight, Mistwalker, Ratman, Red Witch, Bane Cloud, Demon Spider, Bonewing, Corpse Whisperer, Dark Womb, Demon, Locust, Despair, some Gallows Eye, Siege Undead, Skull King, Touch Corrupter, Vermin Host, Barrow Wight, Blood Bones, Bog Mummy, Demiurge, Shadow, Lesser Shadow, Zombie, Juju Zombie, Bone Cobbler, Coffer Corpse, Draug Zombie, Brine Zombie, Four-Armed Gargoyle, Green Gargoyle, Margoyle, Haunt, Ghoul Wolf, Shadow Wolf, and Spectral Troll; however the validity of the source is disputed.

Command structure



With most of Arthas' commanders dead, and his desire to lead a more passive Scourge, it is unclear what command structure (if any) Bolvar will employ.

Cults & groups of the Scourge

The Scourge in Cataclysm

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.

By the time of the Cataclysm, the Scourge is little more than a shell of its former power. Arthas is dead, the Scourge command structure all but wiped out, and the remaining legions of undead held in check by Bolvar's sacrifice. However, there are still sizable Scourge forces in the Plaguelands of Lordaeron who continue to serve their now-dead master. The island fortress of Caer Darrow, home of the Scholomance, is the major Scourge holdout west of the Thondroril River, and their forces can also be found in Andorhal and in some of the more easterly farms of the Western Plaguelands, a continued blemish on the slowly healing land.

A very small number of former servants of the Scourge have found their way into the ranks of the Forsaken. The val'kyr, the winged harbingers of the Lich King, were brought into Sylvanas' fold after Arthas' demise; the Banshee Queen used their necromantic powers to solve the problem of her people's limited numbers by raising their slain mortal enemies as Forsaken.



WoW Pro Lore Episode 22 The Birth of the Lich King-2

Kil'Jaeden creates the Lich King


Wow Pro Lore Icecrown and the Frozen Throne-1

The Lich King creates the Scourge


  1. ^ MoM, pg. 69, 136, 150
  2. ^ World of Warcraft The Roleplaying Game, pg. 360
  3. ^ MoM, pg. 132-133
  4. ^ Lands of Mystery, pg. 187-188
  5. ^ Lands of Mystery, pg. 188