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.