Class-specific role models (Where are all the Priests?)

Hunters. Whether you like her methods or not, you can't deny that Sylvanas is one badass marksman.

One of the cooler things about WoW is how major NPCs and characters sort of serve as representatives and role models for their respective classes. It's pretty fun for Mages to run across other famous examples of their ilk such as Jaina or Khadgar, and I know I immediately loved Sylvanas because she was a badass Hunter, even if she does eschew using a pet. :( (Although maybe Varimathras filled that role. I guess she didn't feed him and he got angry. OLD SCHOOL, BABY.)

Continuing on, Thrall is THE Shaman role model, of course, and there's been plenty of Shaman love with all the Earthen Ring lore in Cataclysm. Similarly, Druids got a ton of nice exposure in Mount Hyjal, which is ALL DRUIDS, ALL THE TIME. I think players of these classes should be happy for a long time with the love Blizzard showed them this expansion.

Death Knights. Darion Mograine is the DK class incarnate. Tragic, angry, full of angst and anguish.

Though they've been quiet lately, Death Knights certainly had a lot of great moments in Wrath, and have a decent assortment of revered figures such as Darion, Koltira and Thassarian. Rogues got some fun time in Twilight Highlands hanging out with master backstabbers Matthias Shaw and Garona, and Warriors could, I suppose, look up to Varian Wrynn and Garrosh if they weren't such colossal meatheads. (Actually, there's no shortage of awesome warriors, such as Varok Saurfang and Muradin Bronzebeard.)

And PALADINS. Don't even get me started on PALADINS. They have always been prominent, but Wrath of the Lich King was basically a giant Paladin wankfest, so yeah, they've definitely enjoyed their time in the spotlight.

Mages. Rhonin is a tool, but Jaina would burn me to cinders and Khadgar is boring looking, so...

Now, not every class has a noble hero to look up to. Take Warlocks, for example! There are no faction leaders or major Warlock NPCs whom you can hang out with or take pretty screenshots alongside. In fact, pretty much every famous Warlock is renowned for being horrific villains and monsters. Then again, they're WARLOCKS, so maybe this makes sense. After all, someone like Gul'dan might have been cruel, vicious, greedy and selfish, but isn't that what ever young warlock dreams of, growing up? Admirable or not, it can't be argued that there's some pretty well-known Warlocks in WoW's history.

But isn't there another class? One that's been around since Vanilla, one that fulfills one of the most traditional, classic RPG party roles? One that, due to being the only class in the game with not one but TWO support specs, has been described as the backbone of a decent group?

Where are all the Priests?

Now sure, there are some noteworthy Priests in the game. Prophet Velen is one, and so is Tyrande, both major characters. But are they really serving as role models for the class? When I think "Mage" I think of Jaina, because we've seen her teleport mass groups, freeze a room full of people - do all kinds of wicked Mage stuff, basically. But when I think "Priest" I think of Velen not because of what he's done, but...because there's really no one else.

Velen would actually be a perfect Priest role model. He's concerned about his people's welfare, his allies, and basically every living creature - he's pretty much the epitome of a healer. He's also incredibly in touch with the Light, perhaps more so than any other creature besides the Naaru, and he obviously has the charisma and leadership necessary to hold his tired people together over their many years of hardships. Hell, he could even handle the Shadow side of things, what with his close connection to the Naaru and their "Light cannot exist in the absence of Shadow" mantra.

Of course, most players would never know this about him, since all he does nowadays is sit about in the Exodar watching dust collect on their talking chandelier.

It's a terrible shame Velen's been so woefully underused in WoW. He really hasn't done much to make people go "I play a Priest because Velen is my hero!" Granted, he did some cool stuff in Burning Crusade, such as using M'uru's spark to reignite the Sunwell, but that always seemed to me like a Velen act, not a PRIEST act, if that makes any sense. I mean, it's not like he did it using Flash Heal and Penance. He was able to do it because, well, he's Velen.

Tyrande, on the other hand, is some weird, confusing amalgamation of a Priest and a Hunter. She's technically a High Priestess, but she wields a bow at all times (seriously, every piece of art with her, she's got one), uses Hunter and Druid(!) abilities in combat but not a single Priest spell, and used to ride around wearing decidedly un-Priest-like armor. Bizarrely, she also sometimes wears a glaive on her arm, though I think it's just for show. Still though - A GLAIVE.

To me, Tyrande just doesn't FEEL like a Priest.

Tyrande the "High Priestess" and Malfurion. She look like any Priest you've ever seen?

You might point out that hey, Thrall also breaks the game rules - he wears plate armor! This is technically true, but there's a big difference. First, you'd only know it was plate if you know the lore. His armor is just a texture - it's not like the programmers took what type of armor his class can wear into consideration when setting his armor and toughness, nor does it ever arise when fighting him. Tyrande, however, definitely puts her bow to good use while fighting off assailants.

Secondly, Thrall ACTS like his class. He talks to the spirits, he visits the Throne of the Elements in Nagrand, he calls upon his elemental allies to help him during the Battle for the Undercity...because of what we see him do in-game, there is no doubt that he is a Shaman. Tyrande really doesn't utilize her Priestly powers, other than one quest where she and some other Priestesses call upon Elune to cleanse the corrupted spirit of Eranikus. Do you think many Priest players think to themselves "Man, I'm so glad to be a Priest like Tyrande. I mean, one time, she healed something."

(Of course, she may have healed Eranikus' spirit simply because she had already murdered enough innocent people in Moonglade for one lifetime. But I digress.)

So besides Velen and Tyrande, who are some other Priests of note? Well, the list is sparse. Anduin Wrynn is a pretty rad Priest, and one that I could definitely see people looking up time. Right now, he's not a role model, he's the cute kid people like to hang out with. He definitely has the makings of a virtuous, admirable leader (displayed to great effect in the Shattering novel), but he's not on the level of a Jaina or Thrall in terms of representing his class. He's a good person, yeah. But he's not a great PRIEST...yet.

Eventually Anduin will be a great Priest, but for now he OH DAMMIT ANOTHER PRIEST WITH A BOW

There is also Archbishop Benedictus, leader of the Cathedral of Light in Stormwind. Apparently he's an important dude, though he doesn't do much in-game. There was speculation before Cataclysm that he was going to betray the Alliance and be revealed as a Twilight Cultist, but this storyline never happened. It's almost a shame - it would have made him more interesting. Instead, he's kinda just there hanging out, doling out a few low-level quests and adding to the ambiance.

Horde-side? Well...the Twilight Highlands finale sees you fight alongside Garona, Zaela and Lady Cozwynn, a Forsaken Priest. (All three of them are female characters, actually. It was fun to see an all-female Tank-Healer-DPS team go to work.) But she only really does anything Priesty in that final quest, and there's no other info about her.

There's also the Troll Priest Zabra Hexx, who was a minor character in the Ashbringer comic series. He read books in the Scarlet Monastery and learned the ways of the Light, which saved his life when the Knights of the Silver Hand found him. Alexandros Mograine spared his life, a favor Zabra repaid later on by helping Alexandros' son Darion. He's had a few items named after him - Zabra's Misplaced Staff and the Tier 9 Priest armor set - but has never appeared in-game.

Annnnnd that's basically it! Considering the Light is such a major focus and power source, it's a little odd that all the storylines surrounding it always have to do with Paladins and not Priests. As far as I know, it's the same Light, so why the unbalance? Maybe Blizzard just likes the Holy Justice, Taste My Divine Wrath feel more when there's huge hammers being swung about? Or maybe Paladins are just OP.

I actually think Blizzard missed a GREAT opportunity to address this inequality, and bring Priests (in general) back into the picture as important cultural fixtures. During the Elemental Invasion, when regular civilians were being swayed by apocalyptic prophets and the world seemed like it was about to end, I kept waiting for the Priests to step in and calm the panicked masses. After all, who do you turn to in times of severe self-doubt, depression and stress? You look to your spiritual leaders, that's who.

Velen would have been PERFECT for this job. He should have been there in Stormwind, addressing worried audiences in the Cathedral of Light alongside his fellow Priests. Not only does he have the wisdom and tranquil nature to comfort fearful citizens, he also has countless years of experience as the heart and soul of his people. After being relentlessly chased by the Burning Legion for years, and after enduring incredible tragedies such as the events that took place on Draenor, I'm sure Velen has a LOT of experience dealing with sorrow, anxiety and fear.

Plus, how awesome would it be to see gentle, warm Velen go HOLY FIRE WRATH on some evil spirits or cultists who tried to break into the church? If I was a new player and I saw this cool grandfatherly figure telling us that everything was going to be fine, and then eradicating evil ghosts with the divine power of the Light, I think I'd be sold. THAT would be a Priest I could look up to.

As for the Horde? Well, on the PTR right now, Vol'jin has secretly sent ambassadors to Stormwind to warn them about the resurgence of the Zandalari Trolls. What better peacekeeper could Vol'jin send than Zabra Hexx? He's intelligent, non-violent, and most importantly, he follows the exact same religious ideologies and beliefs as Stormwind's now-revitalized Church of the Holy Light.


Furthermore, I haven't gone onto the PTR to check this out for myself, but I have to imagine not many Stormwind officials would believe or trust Vol'jin's emissaries. They're lucky not to have been killed on sight, honestly - the two factions ARE basically at war, after all. I'm sure Varian suspects all kinds of Horde trickery, that this is all some sort of evil plan by Garrosh, etc. But if Zabra were there, he and high-ranking Church dignitaries - such as Archbishop Benedictus - could undoubtedly put aside their social doubts and stigmas to communicate as peers, equal followers and faithful believers in the Light.

Varian might not be inclined to listen to a Troll, but when it's one of the most venerable, faithful people in the entire city? Someone that quite likely is Anduin's teacher and mentor? That might be another story.

In any case, Priests have really gotten shafted so far in WoW. There's hope on the distant horizon with Anduin, but I'd love to see some memorable, strong Priest characters show up soon and make an impact. The Light comes up so often in lore and quests, it'd be really nice if Blizzard acknowledged that hey, Paladins aren't the only Light-wielders in town.

Fordring can have all the glory from slaying the Lich King, Varian can have his fancy statue; that's all fine. We're a humble sort, we're fine being at the back and not basking in the limelight. But how about just a few cool Priest characters we can proudly adore? Is that too much to ask?

25 Responses Subscribe to comments

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    In one of the quests in The Swamp of Sorrows, you try to rescue a broken from dying from intense radiation and Velen ports in and does the whole godfather bit. It was kind of cool to see actually. You might want to take a look into to it. If you can't, I can do a post about it on Bag Overflow when my hunter quests there. Just send me a shout out on twitter.

    As for Priest role models you could mention the Priest trainer Aduin had in "The Shattering" although we don't really see him in game.


    April 13, 2011 at 6:42 PM

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    The questline in Swamp of Sorrows is, indeed, quite awesome... especially when taken in the context of this being a story update. The old questline there was focused on the distrust between the Broken and the draenei, and the two key characters in the new questline were the ones determined to try to make peace between the groups. I highly recommend doing this questline! But it still feels, at least to me, like it's more Velen being Velen when he shows up than Velen being "a priest".

    The human starting area has been redone, and there's a quest giver priest there named Brother Paxton. He's actually walking around healing wounded NPCs, and doing his quest as a warlock was kind of funny because I got the feeling he would have given me the same duties if he knew it was a warlock. He just kind of comes across as one of those "you not sharing my faith is no threat to it being my faith" sort of dudes.

    Anduin's mentor Anslym mentioned is High Priest Rohan. He's been a priest trainer in Ironforge all along, so I was happy to see him turn up in "The Shattering".

    It's funny that you mention turning to priests in times of trouble because, playing on a RP server, that's always been something of a sticking point between my character and her brother. She always suggests talking to a priest about troubles, and her brother reminds her that you can talk to one of the paladins in the Mystic Ward, as well. (Her brother is a paladin.) The reason behind it is that I forget there are any paladins there... it's always the priest trainers I see! And if I can't remember them, my character can't either. But it did eventually turn in to a very lore-oriented In Character discussion about the fact that paladins are priests. At least the human and dwarf paladins... Silver Hand. So now I wonder if that's part of why you don't see more priest role models. Maybe they wouldn't be very different from paladin role models when it comes to the things that matter most, like their faith? But we could still use more of them for other races where paladins are not Silver Hand, and so priests and paladins aren't necessarily so much alike.

    April 13, 2011 at 7:37 PM

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    There is also Ishanah, the Aldor High Priestess, who does take a bit of an active role in some questlines. Like Old Man Voren'thal, she's somebody you can respect and be inspired by. Which reminds me... You'd expect Voren'thal to be a mage --after all, that's the most of what the Sindorei do-- but since he has visions, could he qualify as a priest?

    As for Paladins, I've found that Lady Liadrin is a much better role model than the Argent Crusaders were. The same goes for the Hand of Argus bunch. (No, I still haven't started a Sunwalker yet, so no news there.)

    April 13, 2011 at 8:38 PM

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    I meant that the Hand of Argus was, like Liadrin, a better role model than the Argent Crusaders.

    Sometimes I wonder how I managed to pass my English classes.

    April 13, 2011 at 8:39 PM

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    I've always secretly thought of the entire Royal Apothecary Society as a bunch of priests (and perhaps a warlock or two). Turns out, SPOILER BE HERE!:

    that when you do the quests in Silverpine and Hillsbrad (yes, you convinced me to try it), many of the npcs that come along with you to help you are priests. If I remember correctly, all three of Baron Ashbury, Lord Godfrey and Lord Walden were priests. So we might not have a prominent characters like Sylvanas or Thrall, but plenty of important people who work/sneak in the background. And personally, I prefer it that way, it really fits with how I identify with my priest as well. *snicker*

    April 14, 2011 at 6:22 AM

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    I think that the lack of notable priest NPCs comes from everyone equalling priests with healers, and I suspect that even Blizzard secretly thinks that healing is boring. Which is a shame, seeing how priests have some pretty fun abilities. I was questing in WPL the other day and one of the priest NPCs used mind vision on me and I was just in love.

    Also, thanks for explaining who Zabra is. I remember seeing the tier nine armour sets and how they were all named after famous lore characters (Thrall, Hellscream, Sylvanas, Kael'thas etc.) - yet my priest set was named after some unknown guy called Zabra? Who the eff is Zabra?

    I also had no idea that Anduin is supposed to be a priest. I started reacquainting myself with the post-Cataclysm Alliance only recently, and everything I'd seen of him beforehand indicated that he was growing up to be just another generic fighter type of some sort.

    April 14, 2011 at 6:25 AM

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    I have to second Shintar here - and it's really a little telling that priests are such an afterthought in WoW lore. I wonder if Blizzard are even aware of the oversight.
    It strikes me as odd too, because priests are such a popular class, almost everyone I know has a priest alt (and our guild was always full on priest mains too). so really, a big imbalance there.

    That was a nice read by the way, I don't have nearly as much WoW lore knowledge as you do and your blog is always a great place for insights! :)

    April 14, 2011 at 8:44 AM

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    You are forgetting a very important Priest, who pretty much defines what a priest is. That being High Priest Rohan.

    April 14, 2011 at 8:45 AM

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    @Shintar - Anduin came to the realization during the Shattering novel that he was actually better suited to be a Priest, despite the martial/weaponry training he had been undergoing at Varian's request. It was a nice bit of character development, and it makes total sense considering his personality.

    @Glorwynn, @Gauss - I am actually a little torn on Rohan. On one hand, he's a fantastic example of who a Priest should be, as seen by his warmth and wisdom in the Shattering when he mentors Anduin. He's also powerful and respected, seeing as how he was named to the New Council of Tirisfal in the comics alongside noteworthy figures like Hamuul.

    On the other hand, he's basically non-existent in the game right now. He hands out some minor quests (actually, does he even still do this? I think those abilities have been removed...) and plays no major role.

    I agree that he's got a ton of potential to be a really cool Priest role model, though. Lots of opportunity for him to show up in a leadership/official position, too, considering Ironforge's fractured political state. Maybe a peacekeeper between the factions? I could see him being a neutral party who legitimately owed his allegiance to the Light first and foremost over any of the three "kingdoms."

    April 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM

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    Rilgon Arcsinh

    Alleria was better.

    April 14, 2011 at 10:09 AM

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    @Rilgon - In truth, there's really no shortage of fantastic Hunter role models. All the Windrunners were pretty great, there's Nathanos Blightcaller, Rexxar, etc. But yeah, Alleria was just as driven and intense as Sylvanas, for sure. A great character that I hope returns when Sylvanas inevitably snaps.

    April 14, 2011 at 10:14 AM

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    When you where mentioning the priest the only one that came immediately to mind was Anduin and the thought that he is just way to young.

    It is kind of interesting that one of the staple classes of fantasy in general is so underrepresented in the game but perhaps I can help shine a little light on that, at least from my perspective.

    As a published fantasy author, an avid fantasy fan and former serious role player I can tell you that good is incredibly hard to write for and even more so to role play.

    Being evil is easy. Writing evil is even easier. Being good is easy. Writing good sometimes hard. Being the pure and completely virtuous is not only hard to write but can be boring as sin and nearly impossible to play well.

    Now try playing someone like that in role play. (which is how NPCs in WoW are supposed to be) It basically leaves you on the outside of the action, passing your pure judgments on the good and bad alike.

    You basically become the voice of reason that no one ever listens to because if they did there would be no story. If people here truly virtuous they would be boring for a game, a novel or role play.

    As such, to keep the class and the role it would play in tact, they can't really make someone like that because they would not be interesting or they would be so incredibly underused, like Velen.

    How many opportunities would their really be for someone that is so virtuous to shine without taking sides or passing judgment? The (previously) virtuous one that take sides and pass judgment are called paladins.

    As for how a troll emissary could get into Stormwind?

    Easily, in times of war, even opposing leaders communicate. I am sure they where known to be coming.

    There might have been some distrust of course, but when push comes to shove Vol'Jin is not the bad guy and even a bonehead like Varian know that.

    Not to mention, there is past history of certain horde and alliance figureheads working together even in times of deep war. See Jaina, Thrall.

    Maybe Varian learned something from her. Not everything is an act of war.

    Another nice article.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:23 PM

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    The Pink Pally

    This made me want to roll a Priest, which is saying something. I've rolled 1 Priest in my years playing WoW & I'm not sure she ever made it to level 20. Healers and I just don't seem to get along....

    Blizzard should totally hire you, Rades. Seriously.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:30 PM

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    @Pink Pally-- If you thought the plotlines were convoluted already, just wait until Rades gets a hold of them!

    April 14, 2011 at 8:00 PM

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    I'd been thinking about this myself, not too long ago.

    Off topic, this is a poke for you to check the email associated with your gravatar.

    April 15, 2011 at 7:49 AM

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    Tyrandre is a bit of a toss up, I'll give you that for sure. The art that depicts her doesn't do her priestly manners justice IMO. Going on that alone certainly would not an paint of a holy servant of Elune. But her story in the War of the Ancients trilogy really depicts her pious devotion to the her Mother Moon very well. Heck, it's largely why I've taken up my priest again.

    It's a shame she isn't more involved. Perhaps we need more class specific quests that involve the class icons more often -- much like Arthas was prevelent in just about every zone in Wrath. He'd show up in one form or another and you knew - "Yep! I'm on the Lich King's turf now!"

    April 18, 2011 at 7:47 AM

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    I play a Shadow Priest. For the longest time I was Forsaken, and considered myself a member of the Cult of the Forgotten Shadow. But I kept seeing that there was not a single shadow priest in Undercity. How could this be? Just before Cataclysm I race changed, and I am now a Troll Voodoo Priest. While still under represented in lore, I saw my first Shadow Priest NPC, a Troll in the Hinterlands.

    April 18, 2011 at 1:01 PM

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    Excuse me, have you forgotten a little place called Scarlet Monastery with the bestest priest ever, High Inquisitor Whitemane?

    "Arise, my champion!"

    April 18, 2011 at 1:06 PM

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    I think part of the problem is that there weren't any good priests in WCIII even. They were all high elves (which don't really exist in WoW anymore) except for the Priestess of Elune, which as you pointed out is almost like a hybrid class than a pure priest.

    And really the only thing Tyrande did that was priest related in WoW was teaching you Starshards. Which they promptly took away! Bastages!

    April 18, 2011 at 1:27 PM

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    So basically what I got from all that is... priests should be able to use bows.

    I mean, right? Wanding is
    SO 2006.

    April 18, 2011 at 5:45 PM

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    The Renaissance Man

    There's Archbishop Bendictus in Stormwind, who actually had a brief stint as the Human racial leader in Vanilla WoW.

    April 18, 2011 at 5:47 PM

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    High Inquisitor Whitemane might not be the best sort of Priest to use as an example, Anonymous, especially given some of that fan art floating around....

    April 18, 2011 at 8:59 PM

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    Whitemane is definitely memorable, but she's hardly a role model. Also, Whitemane is just a random level 30 instance boss who never shows up again, doesn't affect any major storylines, and really is a minor character in the grand scheme of things. The fact that she is one of WoW's most memorable Priests says a lot about the lack of competition.

    April 18, 2011 at 9:48 PM

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    She may not show up often but she does show up more than just in the Scarlet Monastery, was she not in Old Hillsbrad when all the members of the Scarlet Crusade were discussing the crystal which later became The Ashbringer? Sure she didn't do much, but she was there! I think....

    October 7, 2011 at 3:59 PM

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    @Anon - She was technically present in Olds Hillsbrad when Alexandros Mograine is discussing the Ashbringer crystal, but not as a priest - she's only a child at the time, and is running around outside playing.

    October 7, 2011 at 4:25 PM