As I implied in a recent post about the most recent Ion Hazzikostas interview, the line about making sure that there was a narrative justification for adding “missing” class/race combinations in World of Warcraft irked me. Part of this is because it’s not like we had some important narrative justification for making Gnomes able to play Hunters or some big revelation in 10.0.7 that explains Lightforged Draenei becoming Monks. But part of this is simply because the narrative justification is not actually difficult.
Seriously, a better answer would have been “we really don’t want to make all of those additional druid forms.” But because “narrative” is the reason we were told, let’s go ahead and play with it and provide narrative justifications for all 49 combinations of the game that currently aren’t available. Yes, I’m sticking specifically with non-hero classes here and excepting the Dracthyr for obvious reasons; that still leaves 230 combinations in total, and 49 of them are currently unavailable, all of which are under four classes: Paladin, Warlock, Shaman, and Druid. So what can justify all of those?
First things first: This column is operating from the point of view that while you could convincingly argue that later developments have made prior events kind of nonsensical, the lore right now is the lore that is. So, sure, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that Humans couldn’t already be Druids if Gilneans and Kul Tirans (both of whom are human) were being Druids for ages. But whatever; right now, there’s no longer any justification for it. There are Kul Tiran Humans who have the more slender build, there are Gilneans who haven’t been afflicted by the Worgen curse, there should be Human Druids. Period.
Similarly, this should extend to Undead. It’s not as if Kul Tiran characters who die suddenly forget being Druids; we’ve had them roaming around before. Ditto Gilneans, especially since the Forsaken have full access to Gilneas at this point, and I’m willing to bet there are some corpses there for Druidic purposes. There. Done.
“But how can an undead being channel life?” Same way they can channel the Light, which is supposedly anathema to them. We’re moving on.
Blood Elves are really easy because, again, we’ve had Blood Elf Druids since The Burning Crusade. We know that much of Eversong Woods is maintained by nature magic, too. It feels pretty straightforward to me. And Void Elves are… really 90% of the same thing, so there’s no reason that they should be left out. Heck, ditto the Nightborne. They talk to plenty of Druids, it wasn’t that hard for Night Elves to get it!
Gnomes, of course, are easy to understand. Gnomes love learning, and they love science. What, are you going to tell me that engineering is so much more scientific than biology? And Mechagnomes are even easier. They can be actual Transformers. C’mon. Easy.
Goblins, of course, will do anything that Gnomes do but with extra aggression and explosions. Dwarves have lived with ton of Druids, and Dark Irons even have Ragnaros endorsing some Druids of the Flame or whatever. Let’s be cats and bears, but on fire! Pandaren are already bears, so that’s more of a lateral move.
Vulpera have Zandalari Druidism to draw from, so that’s not hard to figure out either. Orcs just love the heck out of Tauren, so it’s kind of weird that this isn’t already a thing. Mag’har Orcs are, again, just freakin’ Orcs. That just leaves the Draenei out of the equation so far, and… well, you have to imagine some Night Elves are taking refuge in the Exodar, right?
Yes, I admit that part is a little tenuous, but it’s within the realm of possibility. And that’s the hardest one!
First of all, we’re not going to fall back on the idea that if you can figure out Priest and Warrior, you can figure out Paladin. Realistically you might think these things go together, but it’s been long established that in Azeroth Paladins are kind of a distinct thing. So we’re not going to do that. Paladin is not just smooshing Warrior and Priest together.
That being said, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have Kul Tiran and Gilnean Paladins for the Druid rationale, but reversed. I’ve also mentioned before that there’s no good reason for Undead Paladins not to exist; sure, you can say Paladins can’t become Undead, but you could be almost a Paladin and then die, right?
Night Elf Paladins also, like… already exist. We already know we have at least one. There was a whole story about that! There’s every reason for us to have more; that’s literally the point of having a narrative reason.
Honestly, it’s pretty easy to just explain things in the Alliance by that point. Gnomes? Look at where they live and hang out. Mechagnomes? Same deal. Void Elves? They’re ostensibly led by Alleria, and her husband is a Paladin. “Why can creatures of the Void use the Light?” Well, they can be Priests, so that logic ship has sailed.
But what about the Horde? Well, we know that Druidism moved to the Trolls from the Zandalari, and there’s no reason Paladin traditions couldn’t as well. Similarly, we know that Orcs have been active in the Argent Crusade for ages, and it’s not as if there’s tons of daylight between Thunder Bluff and the Highmountain Tauren. After a certain point, just as with Hunters, you realize that it’s hard to explain why races can’t decide to be Paladins rather than explaining why they can. Nightborne are close to Blood Elves, Vulpera are close to Trolls, Mag’har Orcs are Orcs, etc. And Pandaren would probably like to cleanse the Sha and such these days, now that everyone has moved on… you get the idea.
Basically everyone in the Horde can already be a Shaman. Seriously, there are like seven or eight Shamanistic traditions there. Just have someone open an adjunct program for the elves and the Undead. Or say that it’s an Undead Kul Tiran, again, because they can be Shamans… which means that, once more, there’s no good reason Humans or Gilneans can’t be Shamans.
Night Elves? Come on, the arbitrary distinction between “nature” and “elemental” stuff has never made much sense, and that discussion with the Draenei works both ways. You can’t convince me that the Draenei can’t teach a Lightforged how to be a Shaman. You’re telling me no Gnome has ever decided “hey, the elements are cool”? If Goblins can have mechanical Shaman totems, why can’t Mechagnomes?
You’ll also probably notice that after a certain point the question is really “why can everyone else do that and I can’t?” It’s not for nothing.
Look, if a race can be a Mage, it can be a Warlock. The two just aren’t that different. One studies and the other grabs demons. So the question becomes really about the four races that are the most dedicated to not being Warlocks: Night Elves, both flavors of Draenei, and the Mag’har.
Except again, that’s not really a question; Night Elf Warlocks have been an NPC thing for ages. All you need is recognizing that the larger Night Elf society has stopped shunning them. Similarly, the Burning Legion isn’t a thing any more; the perpetual war mentality of Lightforged Draenei alone would lead to a conclusion of “maybe we can just use the tools of our enemy,” and it’s pretty clear that being a Warlock doesn’t instantly make you an Eredar.
The Mag’har? The lore is already incredibly inconsistent about why most Orcs were brown until they were green. Yes, letting Mag’har be Warlocks adds to that inconsistency on one level, but the inconsistency was already there. Heck, make it an “opening of the Dark Portal by Medivh” thing if you want.
And if you’re about to state that some of these justifications are thin on the ground, please, let’s investigate the narrative justification for Goblins, Worgen, and Lightforged Draenei becoming Monks. I’ll wait.
If Blizzard doesn’t want to commit to these combos because it’s too much work for the number of players who would avail themselves of the option, fine – just say so. Don’t use “narrative justification” as the excuse. Lore is always a paper shield.