Lightsworn: What races can be Paladins in Battle for Azeroth?
When Battle for Azeroth was announced at Blizzcon, we learned that our next expansion would have not one, not two, but six new races to play as. The Alliance will be receiving Lightforged Draenei, Void Elves, and Dark Iron Dwarves, while the Horde will get Highmountain Tauren, Nightborne, and Zandalari Trolls.
Of these, I personally can’t wait to try out the new Elves — Nightborne lore is fantastic, and I’m deeply curious to see what Blizzard does with Void Elves. Plus, this gives the Alliance a “short elf” and the Horde a “tall elf,” respectively. On the other hand, the other Allied Races seem like minor variants on races we can already play as, so for the moment, I’m less enthused about them. I’ll see how I feel when more information is available.
But let’s get to what’s really important: Can any of these new Allied Races be Paladins? And should Paladins be added to any of the other, older races?
The Lightforged stand alone
Currently, the Lightforged Draenei are the only Allied Race confirmed to have Paladins as one of their class options (a shocker, I know). We know that Highmountain Tauren, Nightborne, and Void Elves cannot be Paladins, and we don’t currently know what classes will be available to the Dark Iron Dwarves and Zandalari Trolls. While I don’t think Blizzard will give us Dark Iron Paladins, I also believe they could absolutely fit into existing game lore. On the other hand, I feel that Zandalari Paladins — while interesting — would be incredibly bizarre and out-of-place.
Now, Blizzard didn’t mention any other races gaining the ability to be Paladins, so we should probably assume that nothing will change there — but I think this is a real shame! We’re coming up on our seventh expansion, and still only a third of the game’s races can be Paladins. After what we’ve seen in Legion, I say there’s never been a better time to loosen up the membership restrictions on our secret underground Holy clubhouse and start letting other races in.
Paladins: really just Priests in plate
I’ve always found it odd that many of WoW‘s races cannot be Paladins, but can be Priests. I can understand why Orcs, who have never shown any aptitude or ability to use the Light, can be neither class. But what about Gnomes, for example? Gnome Priests have existed since Cataclysm, and Gnome Warriors have been around forever. They’ve lived in Ironforge alongside Dwarven Paladins for years now, and they’ve been part of the Alliance since the very beginning, so they’re definitely familiar with how Paladins work. Why haven’t we ever seen a Gnomish follower of the Light decide it was time to get their hands dirty, grab some armor and the biggest hammer they can find, and start dispensing Holy justice?
Now, you might say that becoming a Paladin is more complicated than that, but…is it really? Some of Azeroth’s first Paladins, the Knights of the Silver Hand, were literally Priests who became Holy Warriors during the Second War at the behest of Archbishop Alonsus Faol. You’ve probably heard a lot about one of them recently, someone who was trained for the priesthood and yet despite this, went on to accomplish some pretty important things as a Paladin. This guy right here:
And speaking of priests becoming Paladins, that sure doesn’t look like cloth being worn by Anduin in the new cinematic, does it?
Do I think that all Priest-eligible races should therefore also automatically have Paladins? Not necessarily. While I think Gnome Priests could make the transition fairly easily, it’s more complicated for some of the other races such as Trolls, who worship Loa spirits rather than the Light, or Worgen, who may be prevented from becoming Paladins simply by the nature of their racial curse.
There is one race, however, that absolutely should get access to paladins: Night Elves. And not even because it would be fun, or for faction/class balance, but simply because we’ve seen in Legion that Night Elf Paladins already exist.
Light of the Moon
I found Delas Moonfang’s journey from Priestess of the Moon to full-fledged Paladin of the Silver Hand one of the more enjoyable parts of our Class Hall campaign. It was nice to see the strong cross-faction friendship between her and Aponi Brightmane, and I’m glad Delas’ class change didn’t involve some terrible crisis of faith or unforgivable mistake that saw her drummed out of the Priesthood, only to then be taken in by the Silver Hand.
Of course, what’s most important about Delas is the precedence she sets. Night Elf Paladins are a real, canonical thing that exist now, so it’s only fair to expect the class to be available to Night Elf players soon — hopefully in Battle for Azeroth, but if it’s too late for that, then by the time the next expansion rolls around at the very least. Maybe once we’re finished on Argus, Delas will head on home to Darnassus and start a recruitment drive.
(We also met a pair of Night Elf Paladin ghosts during Legion: Delas’ uncle Nerus Moonfang, who followed in his niece’s footsteps and joined up with the Silver Hand after we broke his family’s curse, and Alynblaze the Sentinel, who sadly we never really learned much about.)
I should mention that while I was a big fan of Delas’ story, not everyone was as enthused. Some players were fans of the concept of Night Elf Paladins, but found Delas’ conversion to traditional Silver Hand ideals quite disappointing. Many felt that Delas had basically abandoned her Kaldorei faith and culture to become a somewhat generic Paladin who behaved like any old Human or Dwarf. Most egregious was the fact that Delas now prayed to and revered the Light, rather than Elune, something that would be exceptionally odd for any Night Elf, let alone a former Priestess.
Fair criticisms, and definitely something Blizzard should address. Other than Humans and Dwarves, every race has their own special flavor when it comes to Paladins: Vindicators differ Night Elf Paladins, I would expect their new order — Knights of the Moon? Moonstalkers? — to receive some unique, expanded lore firmly differentiating them from their peers. Additionally, something explaining exactly how Paladins might fit into Night Elf culture, which already has so many specialized groups and factions.
How about other races?
Night Elves can and should be eligible to be Paladins. But what about the other races? Should we expect to see Gnome Paladins any time soon? Forsaken Paladins? Goblin Paladins? Here’s some quick and very brief thoughts on each.
Gnomes: There’s nothing preventing it. They have the faith, the teachers, and the familiarity. Personally, I’d love to see them interacting with bewildered Vindicators, whom I think wouldn’t quite know what to make of them.
Worgen: No. Gilneans have little-to-no experience with Paladins — at best, they encountered them briefly years ago during the Second War, and then not again until the Greymane Wall fell and they joined the Alliance. They have no one to teach them — what Night Elf is going to do it? Malfurion? — plus no one knows if the Worgen curse would even permit it.
Dark Iron Dwarves: No. They’ve been in Ironforge for years now, and have proved themselves loyal and reliable allies, but adopting the faith of their former foes and becoming bulwarks of hope and valor? Probably still a little out of their comfort zone at this point. I could see them studying the Light and becoming Priests like their Queen, though — maybe that might lead to Dark Iron Paladins sometime in the future.
Void Elves: No, for obvious Void/Light conflict reasons. However, I do hope Blizzard gives us a few Void Elves who used to be Paladins, before succumbing to the temptation of the Void. I’d love to learn what might have happened to cause a Blood Knight to turn their back on the Light to instead embrace shadow and darkness.
Orcs: Definitely not. Orcs just don’t use the Light. Not their bag.
Undead: Theoretically possible. Years ago, the Creative Development team stated that Undead can wield the Light without being harmed (though the process is extremely painful), and that harnessing the Light is a display of personal faith rather than any benevolent moral goodness. However, any Undead Paladin would be in permanent agony, constantly burned by the Light it wields. I think if Blizzard ever does allow Undead Pladins, they’ll really have to pay attention to this aspect of them, to set them apart from the dour, “My life sucks so bad!” origins of Death Knights and Demon Hunters.
Trolls/Zandalari Trolls: Highly unlikely, given that Trolls don’t even revere the Light. I suppose Blizzard could announce new lore merging aspects of the Light with the various Troll Loa spirits…but such a move would probably feel pretty clunky, and likely wouldn’t go over well with Troll players.
Goblins: Hilarious, but no. Maybe there’s a Goblin or two out there with the conviction to become a Paladin — and I’d love to meet such a character in-game — but overall, Goblins would make abysmal Paladins. There’s no bargaining, no cutting deals, with the Light.
Highmountain Tauren: Yes. While Highmountain Tauren can’t be Paladins in Battle for Azeroth, I think we should absolutely expect them in the future. They already revere An’she, and they’re of similar temperament to Kalimdor’s tauren. It probably won’t be that long until we’re seeing the first Highmountain Sunwalkers.
Nightborne: No. Although Nightborne can be Priests, arcane magic is really their culture’s specialty. The Nightborne don’t have divine Warriors — they have arcane ones. While Thalyssra and her brethren would obviously respect what Paladins and the Light can do, having witnessed it in action against the Legion, I think they would find the societal role of Paladins to be utterly foreign and more than a little confusing. (Side note: Blizzard, how about Spellblade for our next hero class, combining sorcery and swordplay? Make it happen!)
Pandaren: No. While Pandaren can become Priests and channel the Light, their philosophies of balance and harmony clash terribly with traditional Paladin ideals. Paladins tend to want to get out and change the world; Pandaren are content to sit back and simply watch it.
Murlocs: You didn’t think I’d forget about Murkalot, did you?
What do you think? Do you think more races should be allowed to be Paladins? Is there any race that would make you immediately race change your current Paladin? Let us know!
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