• Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

The Story of World of Warcraft’s Corrupted Blood Plague and Its Real-World Parallels

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jul 8, 2022

“I woke up and there were skeletons in the room, which is not normal. Unless you had a really big night out.” So says Paul F. Verhoeven, who describes himself as having been a real World of Warcraft addict in 2005 when the Corrupted Blood Plague hit Azeroth. These skeletons were among the first victims of the plague. It would eventually expand to over four million players.

On September 13, 2005, the Zul’Gurub raid was launched. Corrupted Blood was intended to be a mechanic only for its climactic boss fight, dealing 263-337 damage every two seconds and spreading to nearby allies. These allies included pets, and since no one wanted to see their pets die, players dismissed them when they caught the debuff. Although no one realized it at the time, the consequences would be disastrous.

Although Corrupted Blood was eliminated from players leaving the raid, it was not eliminated from their rejected pets. Called back to town, these animals were still infected. Unbeknownst to their owners, these beloved companions were the Typhoid Marys of the Blood Plague – not so much bird flu as raptor, crocolisk and wind snake flu. It will take until October 10 for Blizzard’s reboot and patches to completely prevent its spread.

This is Hard Drive Tales (opens in a new tab): PC Gamer’s documentary series about the kinds of stories that come to life outside of the games that spawned them. Each episode centers on a real-life story that has become gaming folklore, retold and retold over decades on message boards and Discord servers and skeptical Reddit threads. These great stories represent what we love most about PC gaming: how truly passionate gamers can imprint their own personalities on our shared virtual worlds.

Tales from the Hard Drive, as told by Lenval Brown

Tales from the Hard Drive demanded a world-class voice, so we enlisted Lenval Brown, the amazing narrator of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, to help us narrate them.

In Episode 1, we told the story of Angwe, also known as the Terror of Menethil Harbor. Angwe was World of Warcraft’s infamous serial killer: an unstoppable rogue who embarked on a months-long ganking spree that became forum legend.

In Episode 2, we met the Fuel Rats, Elite Dangerous players who help pilots who run out of fuel in the pitch black. And given that it’s set in a replica of the Milky Way galaxy 100,000 light-years across, in Elite Dangerous the darkness gets very deep.

In Episode 3, we spoke to Dr. Wasteland, the heroic healer who became a legend in the early days of DayZ, proving that even a grim post-apocalyptic survival sim had room for selflessness.

Be sure to subscribe to PC Gamer’s YouTube channel to see the rest of Tales From the Hard Drive release this summer.