Thursday, 15 April 2010

The sun will rise

For me, one of the most interesting changes in Cataclysm is the introduction of Tauren paladins, or Sunwalkers. Of course all the existing races are getting additional classes in Cataclysm, so what makes the sunwalkers special? Most of the other new classes are a natural extension of what the race already has or had. For example, Wildhammer Dwarves already have shamanic powers and the Night Elves used to practice magic in the past.

The Tauren have no history of links to the holy light - they are a simple people who worship nature as personified by the Earthmother. however, in Tauren mythos, the Earthmother's eyes are themselves special - they are known as An'she (the sun) and Mu'sha (the moon). Mu'sha is a deity that is familiar to many players under her night elf name of Elune; she is strongly associated with the druidic powers shared by the  Tauren and Night Elves.

An'she has been barely discussed in lore so far. The only real reference is a vague hint that can be found in the conversation between Tahu Sagewind and Aponi Brightmane that can be heard if you follow the quest An Injured Colleague. Superficially, this is one of the strangest quests in the game. You pick it up just next to the portal to Thunder Bluff in Dalaran, jump straight through and drop it off. There is no challenge, no continuation. The only reason it exists is to take players to a place they might not normally visit so that they overhear the conversation. Tahu and Aponi are talking about the lack of balance in the current Tauren beliefs - they give great reverence to the moon, but ignore the sun. In all likelihood, this is Blizzard's way of introducing the beliefs behind the sunwalkers into the game.

In my view the Tauren are a great fit for paladins, they are probably the only Horde race that could unambiguously be described as good, but this is a big challenge to the way they see the world. New religions can be incredibly disruptive and different Tauren may respond to it in highly varying ways.
  • Rejection: "This is a heresy that disrupts our ancient ways - it can lead to no good".
  • Tolerance: "I don't agree with them myself, but Aponi is a good person, so let her have her say".
  • Acceptance:  "They are right, we have neglected An'she. It is time to redress the balance".
  • Fanaticism: "We have been deceived all these years by those who followed the elves' goddess. An'she shows us the one true way".
It's the interaction between these different responses that makes it interesting. Could the currently harmonious Tauren society become factionalised in response to this new faith? Could there be conflict between those who reject the new ways and the fanatics?

So if, like me, you're rolling a Sunwalker the day Cataclysm comes out, now is the time to start thinking about how they fit in. There's more to being a paladin than spamming consecrate!

I'll leave you with a free preview.

No, this isn't a beta leak. It's someone having fun with a graphical bug.
It's still cool, though.

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