Thursday, January 28, 2010

Class, race and lore - an eternal struggle.

I'm an avid reader of Warcraft lore. Not necessarily the novels and comics and such - they are rarely very well written - but rather the canonical history of a world I partake in on a daily basis. To me, running up to Thrall is facing the world's greatest shaman, whose mastery of the elements is beyond any mortal - not just the generic orc leader of the faction I happened to join. To me, seeing Jaina with a yellow and not red name over her head signifies more than just the fact that I can't attack her. To me, Saurfaung's mere presence sends shivers down my back - before I remember he's on my side, and feel a great surge of pride and invincibility.

How any player lets lore affect their experience, is obviously individual. I very decidedly do not RP in World of Warcraft, but I'll more than gladly admit to "bonding" with certain NPCs. When walking next to Tirion in his disguise, complete with the Ashbringer in hand (real incognito there, Higlord), down the aisles of the Lich King's personal sanctum, I feel like I'm actively part-taking in Warcraft lore. That history, as future patches will implement, is being written and I'm taking part of it.

Then I return to Dalaran, and stare into the back of some undead Death Knight called "Arthazz" or the like. And I realize that this actually annoys me. Don't get me wrong - I strongly support and agree with the idea that everyone should be able and allowed to play the game their way, regardless of lore, opinion and preference. You can choose to ignore him, as much as he can choose to ignore you.

Nevertheless, the idea of a Forsaken Death Knight is, in my honest and humble opinion, backwards beyond recognition. I'll admit to having more than once voiced the idea that only the "Lordaerites" - humans, dwarves and high (blood) elves - should be allowed the Death Knight class. This is of course supported by pure, linear lore, however, Blizzard did a fine job of recreating the origin of the Death Knight through the Scarlet Enclave and the Drakuru-chains. In light of their making Arthas' focus more based on his champions, not his vast armies, and supporting it with three rock-solid and very well designed quest chains, Blizzard made the notion that any race in Azeroth is indeed a viable Death Knight.

But then Apothecary Putress looks down upon me and says "Did you think we had forgotten? Did you think we had forgiven?", and I realize that no matter how much his is a faction within the Forsaken themselves, the support he has (through both the Hand of Vengenace, but also Lady Windrunner's ability to let his operations in Northrend go unnoticed - we all know she's not that stupid) is massive. The Forsaken truly do hate the Scourge, and with just cause. Being reduced to an eternity of rotting limbs and bad dental hygiene, not to mention a faction leader with the most teethgrindingly annoying emotes in the game, could make any lesser man bitter. Even if the option is King Wrynn and Goldshire.

So what would prompt any Forsaken to take the mantle of Arthas' champion? The Forsaken pride is stronger than Arthas' lure of power, immortality is pretty much dealt with already and even the Argent Crusade are willing to let your racial "handicap" pass as long as you just stay loyal to your queen. The Scarlet Enclave event explains why Forsaken Death Knights exists past redemption - but is it really plausible that any Forsaken would put him/herself in a position to experience such redemption in the first place?

I would much rather see Forsaken Paladins. The existence of Priests in their ranks suggest that they still retain the ability to channel the light, and all Forsaken were once human. There is no reason and logic behind how the pre-plague Paladins now have to revert to just being a warrior. When at the same time the tauren Paladin is announced, it puzzles me. Tauren, a nomadic and tribal hunter/gatherer and warrior people, living in earthen community is to me, one of the strongest racial designs Blizzard has come up with. Their class selection is extremely limited, but the classes they do have, fits the image of the earthborne extremely well. How the sudden channeling the light (through Priests and Paladins) is going to fit in with this scheme, I do not know. Hopefully, Blizzard will have a viable lore adjustment. But I'm still afraid it means breaking down one of the strongest racials lore-designs they have.

Give me troll druids any day, though. I've already purchased the heirlooms and can't wait. Anyone for a quick Zul'Aman?


  1. I guess technically the "lore" reasoning for the lack of forsaken paladins, is that the forsaken were once members of the scourge, and had thus been killed by the plague. Paladins were immune to this plague, and as such, were not killed by it.

    But with things moving on and even cows learning to wield the power of the sun, i don't see why the forsaken wouldn't pull out their old copy of The Light and How to Swing It :P

  2. I still think "The Last Guardian" is one of my favorite books ever of any kind (not just Warcraft). Why yes, I do mention it in the same breath as Brothers Karamazov, Watership Down, and The Golden Compass.

    But then, I'm odd. And a sucker for Medivh.