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WoWAug 26, 2015 1:00 pm CT

Totem Talk: Artifact weapons for Elemental and Restoration Shaman

One of the more exciting things to be announced for the upcoming Legion expansion, at least for me, was the inclusion of artifact weapons — weapons of important stature due to lore that have now found their ways into players hands in some form or another. In some cases it will be the original weapon that we can upgrade and personalize, in others the remnants of a weapon will be reforged into something new. One of the cool things is that the weapons won’t be just class based, but also take into consideration a player’s specializations. For example we know that Hunters will be getting a spear for Survival, a gun for Beast Mastery, and a bow for Marksman.

When it comes to Shaman, it was revealed that the first weapon was of course the iconic Doomhammer for Enhancement Shaman. This was an obvious choice for one of our specializations: a weapon steeped in lore and which has been present at every major conflict since the start of World of Warcraft. It’s even surrounded by a prophecy, stated back in Burning Crusade, that even hints at hit changing hands. The point, is that it was an iconic and obvious choice.

A question was born from this revelation, however, and one that I want to take a stab at today. If Doomhammer, the weapon of Thrall and long-time symbol of his power and contribution to the Horde, and in truth Azeroth as a whole, is to be passed to enhancement shaman, well what about Elemental and Restoration Shaman? What do we get in the exchange? What possibly could be iconic enough to give to the other specializations? Now, this isn’t a question about iconic Shaman, because there are a ton of them in game: Nobundo, Initiate Goldmine, Stormcaller Mylra, Drek’thar, Magatha Grimtotem, and so many more. The question is which of them will step down or be taken out of the fight, and how will that translate into artifact weapons?


The conditions must be met

Artifact weapons present a few issues for us as a class. At least from what we know now, there are a few conditions for the artifact weapons to be handed off to players. First is that it be associated with an important NPC who has either fallen or no longer has a stomach for the continued fight. We’re not as a shortage for important NPCs, and Shaman have been present at almost every major conflict or story point in the game history of World of Warcraft. It is entirely possible for one of our key NPC to die in combat in defense of Azeroth or to lose the stomach for the never-ending wars we find ourselves in and decide that it is time to retire from the front.

The second condition that presents itself is that, with the exception of the Doomhammer, I’m hard pressed to name another “named” weapon wielded by Shaman. That’s not to say that they don’t use weapons — Drek’thar has been shown to use everything from a pair of axes to wicked looking long daggers and I’m pretty sure Mylra could pick up any weapon or weapon-like object and be an absolute beast in combat. Unlike Warriors or Paladins, however, we don’t have an abundance of Shalamaynes or Axes of Cenarius laying around. I’ve been wracking my brain for several days and I can’t think of any other truly iconic “Shaman weapon” other than Doomhammer. In truth, the elements are the primary weaponry of all Shamans, and that’s something that is rarely tangible.

That second condition is really the main issue. Lacking that sort of story-laden weapon puts us in an odd position. I’m not a fan of the idea of all three specs for Shaman getting the exact same weapon as their artifact; I would really like to see some variety here. Yes, I know that we will be able to customize the look of our artifact weapons, but the idea of wielding something of an iconic Shaman in the role of healing or calling down torrents of flame and lightning is just too good to let go of.


Solutions through Shaman lore

So, if you haven’t learned by now I’m a bit of a Warcraft lore nerd, and for a very long time that has been firmly centered around Shaman. I’ve always loved the class, the characters, and the idea of communing with the elements and working in concert with primal forces rather than bending them to our wills. I was drawn to the reverence for the ancestors as well as being able to communicate with them to seek guidance and help. Not to mention that it was a tradition that transcended races and factions, and even the completely unplayable races like the Furbolg called upon shamanism.

It was also a practice that transcended worlds. So to say that I’ve been excited about Shaman for a long time is no small statement. As I said before we’ve no shortage of amazing and colorful NPCs, many of which I hope will make appearances in the class hall, but it is in the lore of the Shaman that I start looking for answers to the question of what could our other artifact weapons be.

If the elements are our weapons of choice, and we routinely turn to our ancestors for guidance, maybe that is our answer. What if Nobundo decides he’s just too old for this and he’s only three days from retirement, so he chooses you as champion in his stead? In recognition of your service he communes with the elements and asks for their blessing, turning an ordinary staff or a two-handed mace (like that which he wielded before he became broken) into not only a symbol of your station, but as a focus for you to commune with your ancestors to help heal and protect your allies?

It fits surprisingly well, and when you consider that for the longest time we had an ability that was straight up called Ancestral Healing that has gone away in all of the Shaman reworks, you get an incredible nod to the lore of Shaman class. You also have a ton of potential visual modifications you could build around this concept as well. Ethereal weapons or weapon effects like the souls of your ancestors swirling about your focus? That could be pretty awesome if you ask me.

What if Drek’thar finally goes to join his ancestors —having fought so long and so hard it is just his time to go — but as all Shaman he does not fear what is to come?  There is still so much to do to safeguard Azeroth and the fight against the Legion must continue. Before he leaves the mortal planes, he chooses you to take his place, communing with you and the elements to give their blessing to you through one of his long daggers?

The weapon becomes a focus for you to call upon the aid of the elements to help you harness their fury and rain destruction upon those that threaten the world we call home. We’ve seen the power that Drek’thar can call upon to aid himself and his allies in combat. The idea of players being able tap into that, even if just in story, could be stunning. The visual cues could also be amazing here: fire, lightning, volcanic earth, and so much more could be introduced with so many amazing elemental spell effects at our disposal.

Because of the fact that we are Shaman, and the unique station of our class and the history of our NPCs, we have such an amazing opportunity here. We have a chance to actually use the lore of our class to create entirely new weapons. The Doomhammer and the Ashbringer are amazingly cool items steeped in lore and prophecy, but the idea of creating something entirely new is an incredibly exciting idea to me. The idea that we as players could have something which we could forge into our own legacy in the game world is just so enticing. Now, it doesn’t have to be those NPCs (in truth it could be any NPC), but these happen to be among my personal favorites.

So that brings me to the question of the day: what would you want to be your weapon for Restoration or Elemental? What NPC would you like to see it be born from? How would you like the story of our artifact weapon play out?

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