My Beef With Tauren Paladins

Being the total nerd that I am, I’ve had to think carefully about all the new race/class combos and how they fit into the game’s lore.

I think there are a few combos that make quite a bit of sense:

  • Troll druids
  • Night elf and Dwarf magi
  • Human and Forsaken hunters.

However, there are a few that make me scratch my head:

  • Gnome priest
  • Orc mage
  • Dwarf shaman

Perhaps there is justifiable evidence for these bewildering combos in the lore that I’m just not seeing, and that’s okay.

What’s not okay, my friends, and what is most relevant to this blog: the blight of tauren paladins that is spreading across our servers.

Let’s look at a truncated history of paladins, shall we?

First there were human paladins. Alonsus Faol formed the Knights of the Silver Hand after the First War by rounding up knights and clerics and teaching them about the Light and how it can be used in times of war. Uther the Lightbringer was the first human paladin, followed by several others, including Tirion Fordring, Turalyon, and Gavinrad the Dire.

Gavinrad, by the way, is speculated as being the first dwarven paladin. Initially, the dwarves weren’t openly accepted into the Silver Hand, but after the Second War their membership was far more commonplace.

Then came the blood elves and the draenei.

The draenei are the more “legitimate” paladins of the two races, their order being the Hand of Argus, presumably founded prior to their arrival on Azeroth and well-founded in the Light-esque beliefs and powers of the naaru.

The blood elves, led by Kael’thas Sunstrider at the time, learned to be paladins when Kael’thas stormed Tempest Keep, captured M’uru, and brought the naaru back to Silvermoon as a source of magic for his people to sate their addiction. Since the naaru are beings of crystalline shards and Light-like energy, when the blood elves started siphoning energy from M’uru, they gained powers that normally one blessed with the Holy Light would gain, namely those of paladins and priests. The paladins, the first of whom was Lady Liadrin, named themselves Blood Knights.

To summarize the plot of Sunwell Plateau: Kael’thas, having been recently defeated in Tempest Keep, returned to Azeroth with his felblood elves, spirited M’uru away to the Sunwell Plateau. There, Kael’thas attempted to summon Kil’jaeden into the world but was thwarted by adventurers recruited by the Shattered Sun Offensive.

After the battle had been won, and the traitor prince now slain, Velen, prophet and leader of the draenei, reignited the Sunwell using M’uru’s spark (what I’m guessing is the very core of the former naaru and, as such, a source of immense Light-like power). Henceforth, all blood elf priests and paladins wield the Light properly through the Sunwell, thanks to the draenei.

I think it’s easy to see that I play a blood elf paladin. Also, what an odd twist for the draenei to redeem the blood elves! Anyway, moving on.

In some way, shape, or form, all paladins wield the Light, whether it’s directly (as is the case with humans and dwarves) or indirectly (through the naaru, as is the case with the blood elves and draenei). The Sunwalkers, the order of tauren paladins, derive their powers from… the sun?

An’she, as they call it, is the second eye of the Earth Mother, the other eye being the moon, Mu’sha. Blizzard attempted to justify the presence of tauren paladins through the use of balance. Supposedly, the tauren are a very balanced race, and it struck two beleaguered tauren as odd that their race would so revere Mu’sha, through druidism, but almost completely ignore An’she.

I’m not buying it. I can see the logic behind the balance argument, to be sure, but I think making the leap to paladins and priests is a little premature. It is my opinion that their link to druidism isn’t through the worship of Mu’sha but through their reverence for nature and all things living, much as their link to shamanism is through respect for the elements of Azeroth and not through the worship of some elemental lord.

In-game, the text “Forestlord and the First Druids,” as seen on the Elder Rise in Thunder Bluff, says that the first tauren (i.e. Shu’halo) druids arose through the teachings of Cenarius:

Cenarius taught the children of the earth to speak to the trees and plants. The Shu’halo became druids and worked great deeds of magic to nurse the land to health. For many generation the Shu’halo hunted with Cenarius and kept the world safe from the shadows that stirred beneath it.

Therefore, the tauren’s devotion to Mu’sha could be nothing more than the worship of the embodiment of the ideals which Cenarius taught (as he was fabled to be the son of Mu’sha and Ap’aro, known to the night elves as Elune and Malorne). Another explanation could be that the moon was simply another part of nature, much as the sun and the stars, and deserved their respect and admiration.

Indeed, there is a lot missing from Tauren culture concerning An’she, and that balance should indeed be addressed, but in my eye it does not give proper justification in the lore for the introduction of tauren paladins and priests.

But let’s shy away from the lore for a moment, I assume you’re getting a headache…

Logistically, the Horde only has one race to be paladins, whereas the Alliance has three. Remember, though, that before Burning Crusade, the Horde had no paladins at all. Paladins and shaman were faction-specific classes, and it was because of Blizzard’s unending quest to make the game “fair and balanced” that they eventually allowed a few to cross the faction borders and equalize the gameplay.

“But if I play Horde, and I want to roll a paladin, I have to be a blood elf! That’s not fair!”

To this claim, I say that there have always been restrictions on race/class combos that have been founded in, you guessed it, the lore. For the longest time, night elves couldn’t be mages. Why? Because the lore said that the night elf society despised those among them that practiced the arcane arts because it was those that had caused the Sundering by attempting to summon Sargeras to Azeroth through the Well of Eternity in their quest for greater magical power.

Draenei can’t be warlocks because it is through the manipulation of those same demonic powers that they become more like their distant cousins, the man’ari eredar, servants of the Burning Legion, their most hated enemy.

Okay, okay. I know I said let’s move on from the lore, but I felt those were good points to bring up.

Being forced to play a blood elf paladin if you wanted to play Horde? Okay, maybe that’s not so fair. Wanting another race to be available to players who aspire to be Horde paladins isn’t such a bad thing. What are our options, then?

  • Orc- No way in hell. The only possible link to the Light I could see would be through Thrall, but he is way too much of a tree-hugger shaman.
  • Troll- Again, no way, but slightly more likely than orcs simply because of Zabra Hexx and his embrace of the Light (which he learned by reading books in Scarlet Monastery; quite humorous if I do say so myself).
  • Forsaken- Maybe. With the recent turn of events in Northrend and Sylvanas’s use of valk’yrs to raise new Forsaken, I see some possibilities. Also, there are already Forsaken priests who worship the Cult of the Forgotten Shadow, so maybe some version of “dark paladin” could be devised. However, Blizz already went there with the Blood Knights initially bending M’uru’s energies to their will, so I’m unsure if they really wanted to do that again, reinforcing the stereotype that Horde = evil.

Tauren are all that remain, and it seems to me that Blizzard saw this and said “Okay, let’s roll with it.”

And that makes me a very sad, and irritable, blood elf paladin.

15 Responses to “My Beef With Tauren Paladins”

  1. Rades November 29, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    Very well thought-out and logical examination of the Tauren pallies which are everywhere you look. It does seem strange that the trolls, who have been able to be priests as long as WoW has existed, are unable to become paladins.

    However, I think when you look at the lore surrounding Tauren paladins and why they don’t “fit” it’s no different than when Blood Elf paladins were implemented. It’s slightly different in that the Blood Elves didn’t “exist” yet but I have a feeling the idea of Blood Elf (aka “evil”) paladins would have been met with just as much criticism and “THAT’S NOT WHAT A PALADIN IS!!!!!1″ arguments. So Blizz came up with a unique story and explanation for them, which I am SURE had Vanilla paladins screaming from the rooftops in outrage, because it didn’t fit their established view of how the Light and paladins worked.

    I think that’s what we’re looking at here with Tauren pallies – like belf pallies, they’re different than anything we’ve seen before. And just as the Blood Elves/Naaru connection evolved and changed as time progressed, I’m sure they’ll reveal more about the similarities and differences between Sunwalkers and traditional paladins as time goes on.

    Also – dwarf shaman is actually really logical, since for the first time in WoW the Wildhammer clan – very primal and shamanistic – are back involved with the dwarven nation, with the Three Hammers whatever-it-is. It’s similar to how with the new association with Moira/the Dark Irons, dwarves can now also be mages and warlocks, two vocations associated more with the Dark Irons than the Ironforge dwarves.

    • Antigen November 29, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

      As for the dwarven shaman, I must have missed out on a lot of the Wildhammer stuff. I read The Shattering, and I think they might have been mentioned in passing here and there (unless I missed entire pages), but nothing really major. The only problem for me was how they managed to reunite with the Bronzebeards, and since that’s been explained somewhere, that’s good enough for me.

      With respect to the rest of your comment, I really hope they explain some sort of connection between An’she and the Light in the future. Common sense is telling me that I’d be more well-informed if I rolled a lowbie tauren pally and read through the quest text, but I just can’t bring myself to do it, at least not yet.

      • Rades November 29, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

        There wasn’t really anything in the Shattering re: the Wildhammers, but they were in the older games and in other novels. They were the gryphon riders from WC2 and WC3, I believe. Very in touch with nature, less hammer & forge, more earth & sky. It’s SLIGHTLY odd that they’ve been happily minding their own business in the Hinterlands and all of a sudden they’ve got to come work with their Ironforge & Dark Iron cousins again, but eh. ;)

      • Multh, the mighty and powerful Free to Play Tauren Paladin November 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

        Well, I guess you could look at it like this:
        The Tauren aren’t really a paladin-esque race. And like you said, completely ignoring the moon god is weird. I am limited on my knowledge of lore, but I guess I could use some historical reference. The reason Tauren sunwalkers worship the sun could be a denominational thing. Like the division between christian churches. They could be brewing up some kind of class combo for Tauren that is the denomination worshiping the moon, besides Druids.
        If you ask me, the whole “Well druids worship the moon, so it’s balanced!” argument is just…stupid.

  2. Sarlalian November 29, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    Nicely thought out. Not a huge fan of the Tauren pally’s from a lore perspective… but damn does holy beef look pretty badass…. I’m more confused by Tauren priests…. its just wrong… Tauren deserve Plate, or mail, but really they deserve plate.

    As for the dwarves, its the Wildhammer clan that had shaman, and since they are back into the alliance, they can now have dwarven shaman. “Wildhammer dwarves are feral and untamed, prone to revelry, shamanism and daring acts of bravery (and stupidity). ” — http://www.wowpedia.org/Wildhammer_clan

  3. Windpaw November 30, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Sigh….

    It’s obvious I’m going to have break out the Peanut Butter and Jelly dance on you….

    Don’t make me pop these tiny wings of mine!!

    • Antigen November 30, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

      In the lore, they say the tauren /dance emote is actually an ancient tribal dance performed by great sages, and its sole purpose was to pray that the Earth Mother bestow upon the shu’halo the gift of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

      True story.

  4. *vlad* November 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    The Taurens are similar in culture and beliefs to the American Indians of the colonial era (in my mind at least). Paladins are typically Arthurian in design; I think Lancelot or Tristan would be good role models for them. I think that the two belief systems are so far apart that it would be impossible for them to ever consider a change of faith.

    I can see Orcs being more suitable for Paladinisation than Tauren, simply because of the previous corruption of the Orcs by the Burning Legion. Burning Legion = bad. Sha’tar = enemy of Legion= good, Therefore Light = good.

    I have another problem with the Taurens. I really canot see any way that they would accept the Forsaken as allies, especially from the druidic/shamanistic view of the world. Anyway, that’s another argument!

    • Antigen November 30, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

      I agree that, fundamentally, the two belief systems seem opposed… but you have to return to the whole “Blood Knight” situation. Here was a group that, initially, made a mockery of “paladining” by taking Holy energy from a naaru and using it to meet their purposes. I believe one of the original Blood Knight quests to obtain your epic mount had you going into Strat and killing the ghosts of Alliance paladins, which isn’t very “paladiny” at all, in my opinion.

      Also, there’s the Scarlet Crusade/Onslaught, who have plenty of paladins but have some very skewed beliefs. So really, it’s not so much about what they believe in; it’s about how firmly they believe, whether they’re willing to don their sword and shield in defense of those beliefs.

      In terms of the tauren, the only real external power they believe in is the Earth Mother, and that doesn’t seem to be a viable source of the Light to me. But we’ll see, I suppose.

      If they just leave it at “Oh, they worship the sun, ’nuff said,” I might be a little upset.

  5. watafu March 3, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Blood elf paladin= bubble head. Nuff said, you complain about taurens channeling the energy from the entities they worship, but seem perfectly fine about eating them and accessing to their powers as a blood elf. Sorry to break your bubble (pun intended) but the light is not a red mushroom.

    • Jaxzs May 30, 2012 at 5:30 am #

      BUMP WATAFU!

  6. noatak October 12, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    Wow, tauren paladins are only called that for in game purposes, they are actually sunwalkers, and the lore is there and makes sense. Druids worship the moon so taurens thought of worshipping the sun to use his powers too, so you’re going to tell me trolls walking into the jungle and coming out druids makes more sense lore-wise? You sir are an idiot

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