It’s a touchy subject for a lot of people, but it’s one worth talking about. We’re talking about restrictions today, specifically those of which classes are available to which races. Even more specifically, we’re talking about how much I’d love to see those restrictions thrown out the window.
I know some of you will stop reading at that last sentence there, and that’s fine. I’m going to keep going though as I take a look at each race, and discuss the classes that are, and are not, available to them. Some of these combinations do not exist for Lore-based reasons, and while I can respect that as a generalization, I can’t rationalize that for…well, you’ll see.
You’ll see down below that I bring up religion a lot as being the reason for the restriction, and that I feel it’s rather ridiculous. For the sake of clarifying my stance on religion in the real world, I am a dually ordain priesthood holder. I’m not here to attack real world religions nor to infer anything about the two churches that I mention below, I’m simply saying it’s a rather weak argument for a video game as people of real world religions are free to chose to leave that religion at any time for another or none at all.
Human Hunters: This is the first one that just jumps right out at me and shines as a glaring example of brainlessness. Seriously!? How the crap can you not justify a human being a hunter? Thankfully, this one is getting fixed in Cataclysm, but to be quite honest I have no idea how this one wasn’t taken care of to start with or in Burning Crusade at the very least.
Dwarf Mage: Ok, I don’t get this one. Maybe there’s a small snippet of Lore sneaking in here that say Dwarves have fat fingers so they can’t make the proper hand motions…maybe? Maybe I haven’t been reading my quest text close enough or something, but after having leveled two mages to level 80, I don’t recall ever having to wiggle my fingers a certain way to cast my spells. Thankfully, we’ve got a Cataclysm fix for this one too.
Dwarf Warlock: Just because Tolkien’s dwarves couldn’t handle the Balrog doesn’t mean the WoW dwarves can’t summon an Imp. To my knowledge (limited though it is), there’s no Lore preventing a Dwarf from being a Warlock other than the the religion of their race overall being the worship of the Light. But you can’t tell me that there’s not a single dwarf in the world that wanted to go out and learn the dark arts. No fix for this one in Cataclysm and the only reason I see for it is a limp argument of religion.
Dwarf Shaman: One of the most iconic races of fantasy, closely tied into the element of earth, and they can’t be shamans. Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot, Bliz? They worship the Light, yeah we got that in the Warlock blip up above, but this one makes that argument even more limp. Cataclysm fixes this one for us, which I know thrills a lot of other players that I talk to on Twitter.
Undead Hunters: See Human Hunters as Forsaken were either Human or Blood Elf in origin; one race that should be hunters and one that already is. I suppose I could see why someone wouldn’t want to be a hunter when you just eat whatever you kill, but again I see no reason why this wasn’t already in place. Like the humans though, this one also gets fixed come Cataclysm.
Gnome Priest: As per Lore, Gnomes place faith in themselves, their friends, and their inventions. So per Lore they woudn’t become priests because they don’t have a deity to follow. Yet also in their Lore some of them actually do pay their respects to the Light. If they can pay their respects, then why can’t they become priests? Blizzard saw that logic too it seems, so we get it fixed in Cataclysm, though this is another issue where I feel it should have been open to us already.
Tauren Priest: This one might not be quite so glaringly obvious, but it’s one that bugs me. Saying that this race cannot be a priest because they only follow religions of shamanism or druidism is like saying a white guy has to be either Baptist or Catholic. Racial restrictions are bad enough, but did you seriously need to add a religious restriction as well? Again, this one gets fixed with Cataclysm. Thank the Light! You’re telling me that simply because “everyone else” worships one or the other deities that you can’t branch out and do your own thing? Please.
Troll Warlock: We fight a Shadowbolt-flinging troll in our starting area for crying out loud. We fight them throughout the whole stinking game for that matter. Where the crap did this one come from, and why wasn’t it fixed the day after Vanilla was released? The only reason this one isn’t even more brainless than the human hunter is because human hunters exist in the real world.
Weak Lore-based Restrictions
All Shamans and Paladins: Here we have a “simple” matter of religion. Yeah, I know as far as Lore is concerned these are “secrets” or some such, but still. I don’t think “it’s a secret” is a firm enough argument to keep it restricted. What does keeping that secret really have to do with the overall story of Warcraft? Does the Lich King care if humans can be shamans or not? Does Deathwing care whether the paladins he faces are gnomes or trolls? Did Ragnaros care? Not that I’m aware of, no. There’s one exception I found for the Paladin which I’ll cover in the next section, but that’s it.
Night Elf Mage: This restriction does have some basis in Lore, so I can understand to a certain extent. I’m not a huge Lore fan, so I’ll let my buddy Tharion Greyseer give you the Lore details in his post: Lore Has Been Sundered: Part I from September of 2009 shortly after the year’s BlizzCon event. So the Night Elves shunned arcane magics for damage it caused thousands of years ago, I’ll give you that. And there’s no chance that a Night Elf would ever feel the least bit curious/rebellious and go study it anyway? I didn’t think so, so grats to Bliz for fixing this one come Cataclysm.
Night Elf Warlock: Once again we come back to religious restrictions. Why can’t we be Warlocks? Because we worship the Ancients such as Elune and Malorne; though some also worship dragons. So, tell me again why we can’t be Warlocks? Oh, because it seems too mean for our race? Ok, umm…sure. No fix for this one has been mentioned yet.
Draenei Rogues and Warlocks: More religion, anybody? These are probably the most ridiculous of them all. We can’t be evil, because our race is good… Uh, no. Alright, so we praise the Light and love our little floating symbols, that’s fine. You’re telling me I can’t get pissed off at crashing onto this horrible, plague-infested planet and change my mind? If I can decide to worship elements rather than the Light, but by Fel I can decide to summon a freaking Doomguard, and if I’m starving and broke you can bet I don’t mind lifting a few coins from someone’s belt pouch.
Orc Priests and Paladins: Another religious restriction, who’d have guessed? I don’t buy into any of these in case you haven’t noticed. Forcing races into or out of certain classes based purely on generalized religion doesn’t work. I call Bravo-Sierra on that one, Bliz. Maybe Lore tells us that the Orcs are still tied to closely to the Fel energies from their Outlands origins or something, but if baby Orcs can be born, then they can be brought up to worship the Light, and if the Light is anywhere near as “good” as it’s supposed to be then it would accept them.
Tauren Rogues, Mages, Warlocks: Alright, so cows are the most dexterous race in the world; I’ll give you that. But I’d fear a Taruen Assassin over a Gnome Assassin any day of the week. Besides, Byron breaks all of those rules and does a great job of it. Mages and Warlocks – do we go back to the whole “my fingers are too fat” thing here, or are we still stuck on the whole religion thing?
Strong Lore-based Restrictions
Worgen Shaman and Paladin: I’m going to back off on these and simply accept them for one reason. If we assume that these people have been locked away in their little town for a long time, then I’d say its acceptable to assume that they’ve simply had no one around to teach them how to be either of these classes. For that reason alone, I’ll not argue against these two. However, if we assume that there will be another expansion after Cataclysm, then I fully reject these restrictions.
Undead Paladin: This is the one exception where Lore has is strong defense against allowing the combination. When the scourge plague hit it was only the Paladins that were able to withstand and resist it. That plague is what created the Forsaken “race”, and as such it’s fair to assume that no paladins became undead.
But if you take that just one step further, are you telling me that they couldn’t simply choose to become a Paladin? What if I hadn’t chosen a “class” to become yet? Heck, I was still in my high school years trying to figure out which college classes to take when the plague hit me. Now that I’m a couple years older, I think I’d like to become a paladin. You’re not going to discriminate against be just because of my race now, are you? If you check some of Greyseer’s other articles you’ll see he’s found in-game Lore justifications for Undead Paladins as well.
Druids In General: While it’s not especially Lore based, though at the same time it is, you’ll see that the races who can become druids have a natural closeness to Nature. Perhaps the Worgen not so much due to the nature (pun) of their’s, but they are all much more closely tied to nature than races such as Gnomes and Undead. I can see why Blizzard would not want to allow races turn into animals that aren’t at all tied into nature, but at the same time I don’t see why one of those races couldn’t go out and strive to strengthen that bond.
Wrap It Up
So what I’m trying to say here is, I would love to see Blizzard drop all of this silly racial restriction crap on the classes. I see their reasons why and I’ve told you how I feel about them here. For the most part I don’t think there’s a strong enough reason to keep the majority of the restrictions that exist.
Having played every edition of Dungeons and Dragons that has been released to date, I can tell you from my experience there that in the early days the racial restriction (after races and classes weren’t the same thing, at least) were kind of cool because of how that defined the world and the setting. But eventually it just became an annoying hassle that needed to be done away with, and eventually they were discarded.
You do lose a certain amount of uniqueness when you open things up and remove restrictions, but at the same time you add more uniqueness as well. If someone tells you they’re a druid then you only have to ask which faction they are no know right away which race they are. They’re made rather bland because of their uniqueness.
When Cataclysm comes out we’re going to see a flood of Worgen Druids. “Everyone” wants a worgen druid; heck even I did at first. They already are not unique because there’s finally a second option for the class. More variety lends itself to more uniqueness.
Anyway, that’s my opinion. Anyone else care to share theirs?