18 August 2009

A change for the good

An odd little quest popped up in Dalaran after the last patch. At least, I think that's when it popped up — certainly, I never noticed it before. There's a Tauren hanging around the portals, looking rather shifty. He asks you to deliver a shield to an injured colleague who has returned to Thunder Bluff to recuperate. You trot over to Mulgore, turn in the shield, and wait patiently for the follow up. But nothing comes. That's it. A seemingly dead-end quest that nets you a couple of gold, barely worth the time it took. Except, if you are patient, and can filter out the NPC dialogue from trade spam, something very interesting happens. The injured Tauren turns to a friend and starts talking about this new fangled night elf goddess, Elune...

I can only assume this is a nod to possible future developments within the Tauren culture — laying the foundations, so to speak. If you've read the mmo champion spoilerfest on the next expansion, you'll know what I mean. This post might let a couple of them slip, so stop reading now if you don't want to know.

I got talking about this with a friend, a real lore nerd who played the original warcraft strategy games and can tell you what colour underwear Gul'dan had on when he died. He's outraged by the very notion of Tauren preists and paladins, Troll druids, or Gnome shamen and considers any plans to alter or ignore warcraft lore a dilution and bastardisation of the game. He might even quit if any of these changes come to fruition.

I feel for my friend, I really do. He has invested a lot of time in this fictional world and grown to love it, and he doesn't want it to change. But worlds do change, frequently, constantly; this change is what drives them and keeps their people alive and evolving. Cultures and civilisations thrive on change, even though the people living through it may not always appreciate the experience — anything from a new fashion to a country invasion. And one of Warcraft's strengths is that it recognises this, using change to build a believable environment and story that keeps its inhabitants consistently engaged.

In the next expansion, something terrible may happen, something so monumental that the forces of Azeroth have no choice but to adapt and evolve.

It may not be in the nature of Taurens to wield the light, but it is in the nature of every culture that has ever existed to take what it values (and some things it doesn't) in alien cultures and adopt it for themselves. Taurens have fought alongsides Blood Elves and Trolls, they have fought against Night Elves and Dwarves, and it is inevitable that some of them will grow curious about these other powers and philosophies, and possibly experiment for themselves.

So Tauren priests and paladins may not be in warcraft lore, but it's inevitable that they should feature in warcraft's future.

In fact, in one sense, the next logical stage of evolution for the races of Azeroth would be a hybrid. Not in the sense that we know it now, but in the true sense — a being that has experimented with several philosophies and built a new one from the fusion. Just what kind of super class could you expect from, say, the combination of shamanism and druidism, or a priest with demonic powers? The next hero class, perhaps. Who knows, the future's not decided yet, but it's crammed with exciting possibilities.


teac77 said...

It's amazing how much hype a few masks will churn up.

If I could have my way, I would hope for a gnomish priest, or at the Pandareans.

teac77 said...

*at least the Pandareans