The tol’vir are a race of cat-like humanoids who were created by the Titan Keepers in the Forge of Wills in Ulduar, along with many other types of titan-forged, to aid in their ordering of Azeroth. Many tol’vir, along with the anubisath and mogu, followed Highkeeper Ra on an expedition south to install the Forge of Origination. After the Forge was constructed, Ra and his followers created a large sprawling fortress around it named Uldum, which would become the Keeper’s base of operations in the south of Azeroth with Ulduar in the north. Ra placed some of his tol’vir and anubisath to safeguard and maintain Uldum forever and took the rest with him to construct the city of Ahn’Qiraj, which he would assign to them to safeguard as the prison of the Old God C'Thun.
Some of the tol’vir stayed in the north near Ulduar, but would be later corrupted and enslaved by the aqir - insectoid servants of the Old Gods - and became Obsidian Destroyers. Aqir that traveled south waylaid Ahn’Qiraj and gave the titan-forged there a similar treatment.
When Ra disappeared, the tol’vir of Uldum were left to themselves and developed a unique culture from their northern kin. They would later be infected with Yogg-Saron’s Curse of Flesh, which was spread to them by contact with agents of the traitorous Titan Keeper Loken, who now served Yogg-Saron and had perverted the Forge of Wills to weaken the titan-forged by turning their durable stone bodies to flesh.
Later in history, when the mogu Lei Shen ruled over Pandaria as The Thunder King, he summoned the tol’vir, who had been patiently waiting for Ra to return ever since his disappearance. Lei Shen showed them the wonders of his empire, but the tol’vir were repulsed by the mogu’s harsh treatment of the mortal races they had enslaved. They were moved to furious action when Lei Shen revealed that he had stolen Ra’s power and claimed dominion over all instruments of the keepers. He now wished to take control over Uldum so he could remake the world as he saw fit. The tol’vir ambassadors rejected this, so Lei Shen led his combined mogu and zandalari armies to take Uldum by force. This would be the end of Lei Shen’s rule, as he was killed and his armies decimated when the tol’vir activated a small portion of the Forge of Origination’s power to purge all life from the land around Uldum. This action turned Uldum from a jungle to a desert, with many tol’vir dying in the process, sacrificing themselves to keep the power of the Forge out of the tyrant’s hands. The surviving tol’vir then used magic to seal off Uldum from the world, making it invisible to mortal eyes, so that no one could follow in Lei Shen’s footsteps.
The magically-hidden gates of Uldum as seen in World of Warcraft prior to the Cataclysm.
With Uldum sealed from the rest of the world, the tol’vir wouldn’t play into larger events until the time of the great Cataclysm caused by Deathwing. Ever since the tol’vir had succumbed to the Curse of Flesh, they had mourned the loss of their stony forms, but took the pragmatic route of not obsessing over something they couldn’t change and went on with their lives and duties.
When Deathwing emerged to destroy the world, the magical titan device that sustained the illusion barrier was destroyed, revealing Uldum to the rest of Azeroth for the first time in thousands of years. As part of his quest to bring about the will of the Old Gods, Deathwing allied himself with the lord of the air elementals, Al'Akir the Windlord. Deathwing came to the tol’vir and offered to lift the Curse of Flesh from them and return their stone forms if they agreed to serve him and the Old Gods. The Neferset tribe, led by Dark Pharaoh Tekahn, agreed to the deal, believing they could overthrow Deathwing and Al’Akir once they received their stone forms. Al'Akir sent Siamat, Lord of the South Wind, to lift the curse from the Neferset. However, the effort of the task left Siamat drained and exhausted. Taking advantage of his weakened state, the Neferset captured and imprisoned him in The Lost City. When champions of the Horde and Alliance later infiltrated the Lost City and slew its leaders, they accidentally released Siamat, but ended up slaying him as well.
Another tribe of tol’vir in the city of Orsis refused the bargain, and Al’Akir buried their city under the sand as punishment. The northern Ramkahen tribe, led politically by King Phaoris and religiously by High Priest Amet, took measures to avoid this fate while still defying Deathwing, holding true to their duty to protect Uldum’s tombs and vaults from defilement.
Eventually, with the aid of the Horde and Alliance, King Phaoris was able to invade and take control of Neferset City, becoming the undisputed leader of Uldum. Neferset still dwell in the south of Uldum and have a stronghold in the Lost City.
New tol’vir known as the Amathet emerged after Sargeras thrust his giant sword into Azeroth at the end of the Burning Legion's Third Invasion, opening the previously sealed tombs which contained them. They spoke little to other tol'vir, believing them to be betrayers of their sacred duties. They believed that they, stewards of the titans, should alone control the power of the Azerite spilling from the world’s wounds. They also controlled an active titan forge, which they used to construct their own new Titan Keepers.
Tol'vir have also appeared in stories told around the Hearthstone Tavern, although it is unknown just how much truth are in these stories. One story claims that, on his hunt for the Rod of the Sun on behalf of the League of Explorer’s quest to restore the Staff of Origination, Reno Jackson encountered a tol’vir guardian named Sun Raider Phaerix in the Temple of Orsis. After a struggle for the rod, Phaerix was defeated and Jackson escaped the collapsing temple with his prize.
At some point, a group of tol’vir traveled north and settled in Un’goro Crater, adapting to it's jungle landscape.
In another attempt to take over Uldum, Dark Pharoh Tekahn joined the League of E.V.I.L. and helped them unleash the Plague Lords locked within the Tombs of Terror. One of the many catastrophic effects was a rise in undeath in the area, including tol’vir tomb guardians.
Uldum as it appears in World of Warcraft today.
What do you think of the tol'vir? Would you like to see more of them in Hearthstone? Tell us in the comments below!