Lightsworn: The promise of Legion for Protection Paladins
Like many people I think, I went into the livestream of the Legion debut feeling somewhat cynical about what could possibly be in store for us. Then, like most, I found myself significantly more excited about the next chapter of this game than I expected possible earlier that day. Perhaps the reveal that resonated most with me was the kitchen sink attitude that Blizzard was suddenly taking towards class lore. Since Wrath of the Lich King I have been starving for more Paladin-flavored lore in this game, and it was exhilarating to see the new push that the game is taking to focus on the different classes and the stories that make them distinct and special.
It’s still early, and so I think I have some time before I everything I write ahead is proven wrong, but I’d like to talk a bit in this post about Protection Paladins in the next expansion and what we have in store for us with regards to the new class lore. I especially want to brainstorm a bit on what our Artifact weapon may be, and what options are potentially available.
Getting the old gang back together
Legion marks the renaissance of the Knights of the Silver Hand as the Paladin class order. As far as in-game organizations go, the Silver Hand had a pretty rough go of it since their founding in the days of the Second War. The order was allowed to enjoy the glory of triumphing in that war, only to succumb to the betrayal of one of its initiates in the Third War. After the onslaught of the Scourge and the death of Uther Lightbringer, the Silver Hand morphed into a sort of resistance group in the northern Eastern Kingdoms. Eventually its remnants splintered, with some Paladins forming the Scarlet Crusade, while others formed the Argent Dawn in response.
Some still held true to the old order, training new Paladins in Stormwind and Ironforge under the fraying banner of the Silver Hand. There was also Aurius Rivendare in Stratholme, who died (either defending the Alonsus Chapel from Blood Knight initiates, or assisting heroes in defeating Baron Rivendare) while continuing to represent the Silver Hand. Later on, in Wrath, Tirion Fordring combined the Argent Dawn with the remaining Silver Hand knights to create the Argent Crusade.
Now it seems that we, as the players, have rebuilt the Knights of the Silver Hand to combat the Burning Legion invasion that kicks off the expansion. The new Class Hall for the reborn Silver Hand will be located under Light’s Hope Chapel, and will feature well-known Paladins from both factions, including Lady Liadrin and even Arator the Redeemer (the half-elf son of Turalyon and Alleria).
As someone who has been wearing the Tabard of the Lightbringer (and mourning its missing thumb) for about six years now, I’ve always looked to the glory of that first order of Paladins as something that my character should aspire to reflect. The Silver Hand is where Paladins began, and it is only right that it should be reformed to once again serve as beacon of the Light for our allies. Some of the class orders will probably be a bit of a stretch for Blizzard, but at least with regards to this one they have hit it out of the park.
The Protection Paladin artifact
Our specialization’s Artifact weapon is one of many that were not shown or hinted at during the Legion reveal. Further, I think we can all drink deep from the cup of jealousy and bitterness that we are currently feeling for Retribution Paladins and the fact that they get to wield the Ashbringer. I only hope that we can pursue the Artifact weapons of our off-specs as well, because it will burn away a small piece of me not to get to wield that mighty blade, at least while doing dailies.
While we don’t know what our Artifact weapon is, there are some things we can infer about what it will eventually be. For starters, we know that the Protection Warrior Artifact is a sword and shield, which means we can assume that our Artifact will also be the pairing of a weapon and shield. (Personally, I’m hoping for a mace over a sword, because of the obvious class flavor.)
In addition, it seems established that Blizzard is not using weapons that have already dropped in game (Ashbringer is an exception because that’s a bit of a special case, what with the corruption and all) so we should not expect something like a beefed-up or reforged Quel’Delar or Quel’Serrar. When trying to figure out what famous weapons we might look to as a potential artifact for Protection Paladins, I found myself stumped, because very few Paladins hew to the sword-and-board archetype.
All of the Paladins in Warcraft 2 are represented as cavalry units, upgraded from simple knights, wielding a non-distinct weapon in one hand and a shield in another. So that’s close, but they use that same tiny sprite for all of the knight and Paladin heroes in that game: Uther, Turalyon, and even Anduin Lothar (who is most certainly not a Paladin and Matthew Rossi will show up at your house if you try to claim otherwise). That doesn’t give us much to go by as a result.
In Warcraft 3, all of the Paladin units (other than Arthas) were clones of Uther Lightbringer. They all carried that massive two-handed mace that Uther is famous for. Arthas himself carried a massive mace as well. Indeed, it wasn’t really until WoW came out and had to offer three different specializations for Paladins that we saw Paladins using different combat styles. And yet, since vanilla we have had only one major Paladin character that definitively used a weapon and a shield: Bolvar Fordragon. Every other Paladin character used a two-handed weapon of some type, following the general stereotype for the class.
So as for where our Artifact weapon will ultimately come from, I can see three possibilities. One is from the dropped weapons of Bolvar Fordragon, plucked from the ruins of the Wrathgate. However, the weapons he bore there were fairly unremarkable and were adorned in Alliance insignia, so I’m not sure they would work as well cross-faction. But Bolvar’s arms would definitely fit the theme of retrieving what used to belong to famous and fallen heroes.
The next possibility is a stretch, and that would be some kind of mace and shield that ostensibly belonged to Turalyon. We know that Turalyon is coming back in Legion, and he will surely play a big part in the class lore that Paladins get to enjoy. Surely one of the three specializations will get their Artifact from him, and with Retribution already declared, that puts us at potentially 50/50 odds. Further, Turalyon doesn’t strike me as a Holy Paladin, so I think we have a fair shot here. We’ve never seen him bear that iconic two-handed mace, and the closest he’s gotten to a two-hander of any kind is the shattered remnant of Anduin Lothar’s (again: Warrior!) sword.
This slide from the Legion debut shows a mace with the Silver Hand insignia and what can only be described a Judgment Tier coloration. This might be our mace, or it might be the one for Holy. We will have to wait and see. The last possibility is that Blizzard just makes up a Paladin Artifact from someone that we’ve never heard of or met before, like the warriors and their Vrykul-via-Neltharion sword and shield.
I hope that’s not the case, however. Paladins have such deep and rich lore and a whole wealth of characters to pull from, so it would be a shame if Blizzard didn’t mine that a bit. For those of us that like to immerse ourselves in our characters and their class, this expansion holds a great deal of promise. Done right, this could be one of the most satisfying expansions ever for the Paladin class experience.
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