Artistic License, and the Polytheistic Priest
I took a lot of art classes in high school. I remember for one particular project, we were told to paint a self portrait, and I was having a very hard time painting my mouth and eyes. I finally panicked, and painted a big black stripe across the mouth, making it look like tape, and left the eyes black and hollow.

When I presented the painting the next day in class for critique, people asked a lot of questions. I quickly concocted a load of bullshit about how I felt "stifled by society" and something about a dark soul and other such artsy emochick nonsense. Everyone believed it, because in high school I was cast under the "gothchick" label.

After class, my teacher pulled me aside and asked: "Why did you really paint tape instead and black holes for eyes?" Since he confronted me about it, I fessed up and told him that I simply ran out of time. He promptly gave me an A, and told me that I had mastered the test of demonstrating "artistic license". Also known as "cleverly manipulating words and ideas to justify how much you screwed up something".

I am a master of this art. For an example of this, you can read the column I wrote last night over at In the last SoDR episode (seriously, why aren't you listening to it?), they talked about gods, deities, and religion in gaming, and it happened to come up that I created a Dwarf Cleric character who essentially worshipped the wrong god. So yeah, I had to make up a justification for doing something that for all intents and purposes, I just really wanted to do. Take that, you silly rules! /poke /poke

Religion in World of Warcraft

To take this topic to the WoW level, religion and philosophies are my favorite part about WoW - I wish the developers would actually beef it up a bit. The "light" and the "shadow" are vague notions, and instead of being portrayed as some kind of divine presence, it actually comes off as merely a different school of magic. I prefer the D&D way.

The average player is perfectly happy being handed a backstory for their race/class combo. Even the small amount of individuality suggested through talent point allowances quickly becomes filtered into Elitistjerks-approved specs.

Light Versus Shadow

Religion and philosophy give the ultimate opportunity for individual character development. I'm fascinated with playing my new Forsaken Priest, because of the strange dichotomy between light and shadow amongst the Forsaken. Abandoned and literally forsaken by the Light, they can still choose to channel it - but why? Why would you channel a force, or a divine power, that has spurned you in the worst possible way? Or is that the ultimate in Light-endowed devotion?

Are the Naaru demi-gods of the Light? Where are the demi-gods of the Shadow? Shadow is different from Fel, so Burning Legion demons don't satisfy me. Does Shadow get paired so often with Frost simply due to the assumption that the absence of Light's warmth will leave a tangible chill?

The ultimate in Shadow for a priest is Shadowform - casting Holy spells drops you out. So, why is it that if you are channeling the Light, you can still cast Shadow spells? Juxtaposing the two different divine forces in one class makes it particularly interesting - and they should contrast and battle one another. How would this not present some exciting and challenging inner struggles for characters?

Though I probably do come off as somewhat indifferent to the Shadow side of Priestliness, I'm really not. I enjoy philosophizing about the relationship between the Light and the Shadow - in fact, the entire novel I've been writing in my head for some time is completely inspired by the idea of a Shadow priest.


While I suggested earlier in this post that I simply made up the crap about purposely choosing Sehanine for a deity for my Dwarf Cleric, that isn't quite accurate. Religion, both IRL and in game, fascinates me and intrigues me. Juxtaposing seemingly counter-intuitive religions with classes that usually suggest a "default deity" is a helluva lot of fun for me. Since I never really get the opportunity to debate or discuss religion IRL, I suppose that gaming religion is my outlet. The ultimate fantasy - non-controversial religious discussions.

People don't get pissed off when I say Moradin is for lemmings, and Sehanine is for the clever - at least, I sure hope not. Yeah, don't mind me, I'm just over here embracing the holy shadow.

4 Responses
  1. Fuubaar Says:

    This is why I always found the paladin such a facinating character. Someone who lives for the good of mankind and fights to save the rights & freedoms his country from tyrany and persercution of its people.

    Regarding ingame Religion and possibly taking it a step further, I would suggest looking at the Roleplayers. Having the ablilty to work for the church (donating gold, items, time,etc.) allowing for something in return such as reputation with the local town or faction.

    The opposite of this would be an actual change in your toon if you were to cast more shadowy spells. (Shadow Form)

    One game I found to really push these changes even further was a game called, "Fable". Your actions changed your toons physical & emotional appearance. If you strived to do good things, you would be more liked by others. If you trampled flowers, killed people, and other acts of trickery, you were shunned by society.

    The physical changed would be if you were to only fight at night, your skin would go pale. The list goes on & on until you because the product of your actions. You could become anything you like.

    I do wish that WoW had more "fable-like" features. Dropping you off in the world to do as you please to become anything you could dream of. Having the ability to work for an orphanage as a priest could make you more powerful (healing/ Holy spells)?

    I don't know but there are possibilities there...

  2. Jessabelle Says:


    /agree with like, everything.

    It would be really cool if all players had something akin to an "aura" - like a little force field around them that gave people an idea of their "goodness" value.

  3. Fulguralis Says:

    "looking at me like I’m some kind of feminazi anarchist hippie"

    Ha, here's looking at you, kid...

    Love the idea for the article over at SoDR. Good stuff.

    My wife played Fable... lol the things you learn in marriage, especially when you marry a fellow gamer. I've always been the twitchy one I guess... :-)

    Oblivion does a decent job of character alignment as well if you've played that one. I think alignment is really something the MMO genre in general could improve a great deal upon. WoW obviously doesn't nothing for this. There are so few "choices" and in the end "everyone loves you" which is just completely unrealistic from a roleplay PoV.

    Except for like the pirates and the minotaur, those bastards know how to pick sides ;-).

  4. Spanklin Says:

    It would be cool if I didn't have to read so much. So I didn't :c

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