Warframe’s lore is fucked up. It’s insane. No one knows what’s going on, everything is dead or dying or desperate. Everything sucks. And most of this lore comes from little tidbits and past events you may or may not have missed. But what the fuck IS Warframe’s lore anyway? This article should cover most of it. Consider it an updated version of this angry rant.
Yeah there’s a story in Warframe. It’s a thing. It’s a weird, confusing, messed up thing. Pretty dark as well. You don’t actually see what’s going on 99% of the time, you’re just sitting on your ass (or slaughtering dime-a-dozen enemies) while people TALK at you. That’s why people get so excited about cinematic quests (Second Dream et al) because there’s less talking heads and more THINGS.
So here’s a really stupid, probably not particularly accurate but definitely more up to date than the last version, summary of whatever the fuck is going on in the Origin System.
Alright. buckle up, everyone. Things are going to get fucked up.
A long time ago in the distant future (like, maybe a million years or more), some bastards known as the Orokin form the Orokin Empire, worshiping things like good looks, gold and themselves. The Orokin leaders have immortality and a huge amount of power and everyone else is basically a slave to them. They are so powerful that they can terramorph planets (turning Venus into a cold planet for example) and travel across the solar system with ease, using Solar Rails. They decide at some point that they want to colonize another solar system, the Tau system, because resources are dwindling here. They’ve used up all the gold, clearly.
Being obnoxious douchebags who enjoy experimenting on people, they choke on their own hubris. A lot.
In order to get the Tau system ready for the Orokin, they decide to send a bunch of AIs there to build a Solar Rail and get everything working. The Orokin were originally against the idea of adapting, replicating AI (probably because it often became smart enough to not want to worship the golden cunts), but one Orokin bastard, a guy called Ballas, decides that maybe, this time it might be alright. So they make the Sentients, send them on a ship to Tau, with a single weakness – should the Sentients come back, they’ll go sterile and won’t be able to fuck and have kids any more.
After a while, the Orokin decide to start sending people to Tau, via a place called the Void. The Void is a big, sparkly place of chaos and insanity that makes people go insane and kill each other (of course) should they pass through unprotected. If you’re thinking of Warhammer 40K right now, you’re pretty much exactly right.
The Zariman Ten Zero is one said ship. It was full of families with lots of kids that weren’t actually supposed to be there. Because the Void is the Void and is a bastard, all the adults went crazy and tried to kill their kids, so the Void gave the kids insane powers and made them kill their parents to save themselves. When the ship is found, the kids are shoved into cryosleep because they’re monsters in a ton of pain and they keep on breaking things. Rather than, I don’t know, finding a better babysitter.
In the mean time, that adapting race of AI? The Sentients, the adapting bastards, were pissed off at the Orokin. They decided the Orokin weren’t going to fuck up Tau the same way they fucked up home, so they decided that the best course of action was to murder all the Orokin and anything connected to them. Because that’s clearly the best way to do things. The Sentients send through an army (which collectively gets neutered) and the army begins kicking Orokin ass, since they can control Orokin tech.
The Orokin are desperate. They throw everything they can at it, including hideous, manufactured diseases like the Infestation. Of course nothing works. In the mean time, someone considers making those Zariman kids fight the Sentients, but Margulis, a nice lady who just wants to make kids feel better, disagrees. So the Orokin blow her up. Ballas is not pleased that they killed his girlfriend.
Also in the mean time, Ballas has been experimenting with infecting humans with a specific Infestation strain called Helminth, and turning them into hideous monsters. These monsters are utterly uncontrollable and filled with insane amounts of pain. They’re in agony so they lash out. But it turns out those Zariman kids, now called Tenno, come in useful, and can calm down the monsters, soothing their pain. The Warframes are created.
And of course the Warframes are sent out to kill the Sentients. The war is bloody and brutal, but slowly the Tenno push back.
Around about this time, a Dax soldier (stuck up sages that protect the Orokin elite) discovers that Ballas has other plans. He is injured though and trapped. Ballas decides to experiment on him and forces the Dax soldier to kill his own son. The Dax soldier escapes and disappears, trapped in a Warframe body and forever haunted by what he had done.
This last ditch effort works. The Warframes kick the Sentients’ asses and they all fuck off back to where they came. There are several massive battles, like a Tenno using a Gara Warframe sacrificing herself to stop a huge Sentient on Earth, and a Tenno using a Mirage Warframe killing hundreds before falling. In the end, the few remaining sentients go off and hide or become dormant, like Hunhow on Uranus.
The Tenno become the Orokin’s loyal soldiers. Probably for the best since there’s shit to do and fix.
But the Sentients had one last trick up their sleeves. They’d placed one of their own, Natah, in the Orokin ranks, and she managed to convince the Tenno and their Warframes to kill all the Orokin. She does this by making herself look like Margulis, forming a mother-like bond with the Tenno. She directs them to slaughter the Orokin Elite during a ceremony meant to honour the Tenno. The slaughter is watched helplessly by low guardians and Daxes, some of whom swear revenge. The Stalker and his Acolytes form.
After that slaughter, Natah was supposed to kill all the Tenno and Warframes, since they were the no. 1 threat to the Sentients (because killing everything seems to be the only thing Sentients do). But Natah got all emotional. She was made sterile from the trip through the Void and here were all these babies that needed looking after. So Natah drops her ties with the Sentients, becomes the Lotus, freezes the Warframes and seals all the Tenno away safely on the Moon. Which she then hides in the Void to keep to herself.
In hind sight, that’s pretty creepy.
Of course, with no one ruling the solar system, literally everything falls apart. The left over infestation seems to die down, flaring up every few years. The Corpus, made up of a mixture of the general population, come to power, adapting their own technology from what remained of the Orokin while enslaving everyone else via huge amounts of debt. The Twin Queens, two surviving Orokin girls who were exiled literally only because they were twins, take control of the Grineer, a cloned workforce built to, uh, build things, and turn them into their loyal army of clones and slaves. They too go around either killing or enslaving everything.
We then get a fucking long period of bad stuff. Corpus and Grineer constantly fight over the scraps of the Orokin empire, because they clearly have nothing better to do.
At some point closer to the current day in Warframe, a Grineer douchebag by the name of Admiral Vor has been going around killing the Warframes before they can wake up. But suddenly Vor thinks to try and capture Warframes in order to experiment on them and try and find a way to stop Grineer health issues from excessive cloning and probably make some weapons too.
The game starts when Admiral Vor finds you. Natah, now calling herself the Lotus to sound overly mysterious but motherly, helps you escape. You get a ship and meet Ordis. Vor gets demoted then tries to get you back but fails, getting stabbed and limping away on Mercury, thanks to you, Ordis and some dick called Darvo. After this quest, Vor’s Prize, you’re free to wander around the Solar System.
Meanwhile, the Infested has been dormant. That is, up until a Dr Tengus, a Grineer doctor, unleashes a bunch of scientific experiments. And blames it on the Tenno. Even though he totally did it on purpose.
After that, you come across bits and pieces that point to what you really are. With the help of Ordis and some annoying bitch called Maroo, you get a cryptic message about a ‘womb in the sky’. That same message pops up while you help Cephalon Simaris locate a rogue Chroma Warframe. Clearly something’s going on. Although we never found out who was controlling that damn Chroma.
You make your way across the solar system and reach Uranus, where Tyl Regor, another Grineer dick but with a smooth, buttery voice, has been digging up Orokin treasures to help with his studies in curing Grineer cloning defects. A few years back, the Tenno helped sabotage his labs and his ‘Tube Men’, setting back Tyl’s studies and destroying all his work.
Aaaaanyway, Tyl Regor accidentally wakes up Hunhow, a massive Sentient who’s been asleep all this time. Lotus panics and legs it, leaving us in the hands of a Dax Soldier called Teshin and a Corpus bloke called Alad V. Alad V used to cut up Warframes to make into four-legged pets but he’s all forgiven now because… I don’t know. He’s also the reason why the Infestation can infect machines these days, and he once managed to infest a Warframe so he could control it briefly. But he’s helping us.
Turns out, Hunhow is Lotus/Natah’s daddy and he’s pissed that Lotus didn’t finish her job and kill us all. But we decide to bury him underneath an ocean with a ton of explosives. Because that will definitely kill a being that adapts to things.
Of course Hunhow isn’t dead. He somehow manages to stick himself inside a badass sword, and uses this sword and some of his minion Sentients to power up the Stalker. He then directs the Stalker to the Womb in the Sky. Hunhow knows these things because he’s been inside Lotus’s head.
The Womb in the Sky is Earth’s Moon, now called Lua, where Lotus stuck all of us Tenno. This is where we find out that the Tenno are telepathically controlling Warframes rather than physically being with them. The Stalker tries to destroy the place so Lotus panics and decides to remove the Moon from the Void, which throws Stalker off briefly. The Player then rescues their own Tenno from the Reservoir, where your Tenno has both been sleeping and telepathically controlling your Warframe for all this time and takes them back to your ship.
Surprise though! Stalker sneaked on board and is trying to kill you. He stabs your Warframe with the Hunhow sword and is about to murder your Tenno when he hesitates, wondering if he is a Warframe or a Tenno as well. He certainly looks like an Excalibur with a custom helmet. This hesitation gives your Warframe an opportunity to break the Hunhow sword, freeing Stalker of his influence. Stalker panics and legs it, while the Lotus helps you into your new special chair. Now that you’re no longer on Lua, you become a bit more powerful.
In the mean time, the Twin Queens are getting old. They’ve been using a thing called Continuity (not the mod but a ritual) from earlier to keep themselves alive, by stealing the bodies of other people, destroying their minds and then using those new bodies until they need to do it again? Well the Elder Queen (the older and more broken of the two) needs a new body. And what better body to steal than that of an ageless teenager?
The Queens send Teshin to find a new body. He’s been wandering around that Reservoir on Lua. He catches your attention and tells you to fuck off because he doesn’t want to hurt you, but you ignore his advice and follow him anyway. He ends up leading you into the Twin Queens’ massive Kuva Fortress, a bunch of asteroids chained together and powered by massive engines. You sneak inside and bump into the Queens, who have Teshin under some sort of mind control via a
specter scepter. A magic stick, not a ghost. Although it turns out, basically the same thing.
The Elder Queen does… something and you’re separated from your Warframe. Kinda. Your Warframe is dumped in a hole and you appear on your ship.
A dream sequence reveals more of your past. Haunting memories. Killing adults. Things like that. You gain the ability to move around outside of your Warframe and begin to properly access your Void Powers. You use these powers to save your Warframe, briefly fight Teshin, kill some of the Queens’ guards then hurt the Elder Queen. It’s implied that she dies no matter what option you pick, but the Worm Queen (the other one) can be heard saying she’s gathering Kuva to save her sister later on. So bleugh.
At least you saved Teshin.
Everything is still sucky though. Yes, you can now walk around your ship as you, a Tenno, and you’ve got some cool powers, but eh. Everyone is still trying to kill everyone else.
While you work things out, a colony of people who live alongside the Infested ask the Tenno for help against Nef Anyo, you compete in the Index, save some friendly Grineer, fight a rebuilt Ambulas and get to visit a place on Earth. In the mean time, Hunhow has come back briefly. He’s trying to take over Cephalon Suda, an AI, and use her to take over the Warframe equivalent of the internet. With the help of Ordis and Simaris, you save her and defeat Hunhow. Whether he comes back or not… He probably will.
One day, a bunch of Red Veil syndicate blokes go mad and start killing. The killing is very much like what happened to the Zariman Ten-Zero in the Void. The source of the insanity is coming from a guy called Rell. Rell is a Tenno like you, but he was outcast by Margulis because he was a bit strange and didn’t probably under- he was on the autism spectrum. Margulis exiled him because he was autistic. Because even Margulis was a fucking bitch. We’re possibly millions of years into the future and you’re telling me that the Orokin elite can’t deal with an autistic kid?
Anyway, Rell could see a thing called the Man in the Wall, the personification of the Void, and he rightly feared it. After all, it had killed his parents and everyone else’s parents on the Zariman Ten-Zero. Guided by the early iteration of the Red Veil, he fought against the Man in the Wall, protecting the solar system and other Tenno from it. But without Margulis and cryosleep, Rell knew he’d die and chained himself to his Warframe, extending his life that way.
The Man in the Wall though managed to beat Rell, so the Tenno went and freed Rell from his pain and doing his duties themselves, but also kinda letting the Man in the Wall through.
With Rell dead and the Tenno half-assedly keeping an eye on this Man in the Wall problem, things go from bad to worse. On Earth, the Eidolons, broken, half-hearted Sentients, are waking up and wandering around, while Vay Hek, a Grineer bastard who’s too angry for his own good, has been attacking the town of Cetus with his newly developed monstrosities. We help a Cetus woman called Saya make peace with the fact her husband is gone, when in fact he’s worked out a way to both see into the multiple possibilities of the future and has tech to help us make our Space Kid powers more powerful.
Then suddenly, the Lotus buggers off. One minute she was there, the next she was being seduced by a long-armed freak, who does something to her and makes her ditch us. This long-armed cunt is Ballas. Who we all thought was dead. She walks off into a portal with Ballas, leaving us with nothing more than a helmet and some personal quarters.
After a while of Ordis pretending to be the Lotus, we discover Sentient activity on earth. We go there and find some scattered bits of Warframe, as well as a Virtruvian Artifact, which we use to fuck up Ordis. We use scans from the bits of Warframe to rebuild this Warframe, who was apparently blown up while fighting Sentients not too long ago.
Weirdly though, the Warframe attacks us. Remember that Dax soldier who got fucked up by Ballas ages ago? That’s this Warframe, Umbra. We manage to calm Umbra down long enough to see what happened to the poor fucker, and we agree to help him kill Ballas.
Which we nearly do. We stab Ballas through the stomach. But Lotus, who is now calling herself Natah again, saves Ballas’s ass and loudly claims that she’s going home. They both disappear, leaving the Tenno incredibly pissed off.
After some anger and some soul searching, the Teno go back to trying to bring balance to the solar system, whether Lotus is around or not. Soon, they will head to Venus to try and stop Nef Anyo from terraforming (and probably accidentally destroying) Venus, and there are plans to reclaim the Solar Rails too.
But all that is overshadowed by the fact that Natah is coming back soon. With an army. Because she’s 100% sentient again, and Natah’s mum is pissed off at her. Not only did Natah stay out too late, break curfew and harbour a bunch of kids who murder Sentients, but she also got too emotionally involved and got her dad murdered. The only way for Natah to regain her mum’s trust is to come back and destroy us.
Which means there’s a fucking war coming, and we’d better be fucking ready.
Although let’s be honest, the Tenno already are ready. We’re a horde of directionless, angry, hormonal demons from the Void, controlling angry, directionless humans mutated into infested monsters.
Yeah. That’s Warframe’s lore.
Like I said, it’s pretty fucked up.