The priest class was the first class I choose when I started playing World of Warcraft almost three years ago, and the one I still play the most. However, my affinity for the priest character class extends to well before the genesis of WoW.
I have fond memories of playing Dungeons and Dragons as a kid. Every week my D&D group would all pile into a friend’s basement, order pizzas, drink a couple cases of soda, and spend countless hours adventuring, killing the wrong NPCs, pissing off the GM, roleplaying the wrong alignments, getting half the party seriously maimed, and reinforcing every nerdy-D&D-kid stereotype out there. My class of choice even then was the cleric (the D&D equivalent to a priest).
For those of you who are not familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, clerics in that game relied heavily on the “wisdom” stat for their spell casting. Wisdom, in D&D, is the stat that governs your common sense, intuition, and, well, how wise you are (as opposed to the intellect stat which provides a character with book smarts and a good memory). Playing a highly intuitive character had some great advantages, and was something I became quite attached to.
Here is an example of a time when playing the “common sense” character really paid off for me:
Our hasty band of misfits encountered a river that we needed to cross. Immediately, the other players sprang into action:
- Player 1 tries to swim across the river. Fails his swimming check (… because he is trying to swim in plate armor). Starts to drown in the fast-moving water.
- Player 2 jumps in the rescue him. Almost drowns, but manages to save Player 1 and makes it to the other side. However, they both ended up fairly far down the river from where the party started, due to the water’s current. They lost most of their equipment in the process, and what remains of it is now soaking wet.
- Player 3 tries to ford the river on his pony. Pony drowns, player lives.
- Player 4 decides to make use of rope to swing across. Spends a good amount of time creating a reinforced-rope system and testing the weight capacity of the rope before swinging across. Makes it across, but takes some fall damage.
- Player 5 builds a hasty raft to travel across the river without getting his armor and gear all wet. The raft gets torn to bits halfway across the river and the player eeks out a successful swim check. He loses any equipment that wasn’t strapped to him (most everything), but makes it to the other side, though farther away from where the party started than Players 1 and 2.
I wait until all the other players have taken their actions first. When my turn has come, I ask the GM: “Is there a bridge?”
He nods, “It is a little down the river, but you can see it from where you are standing. It appears to be well-reinforced.”
I grin and say, “Okay, I cross the bridge.”
My friends groan at me. I have a good laugh at their expense. And my character makes it to the other side of the river safe, dry, and with all her equipment.
Which leads me to the second element I like about the priest/cleric class: It is a support class. I get to stand in the back and watch the combat and contribute when my skills are needed. I am more of a spectator or a commentator than a leader. Being the wise character, I can roleplay a critic, a nagging voice of do-the-right-thing, or a smart-alec. My running commentary and advice can provide a moral barometer or a voice of reason for even the most motley crew.
However, in many RPG-style games, like the D&D-based Neverwinter Nights, solo play as a support class was tedious and difficult. In a single player setting, nothing had success quite like a hulking pile of muscle. Given that solo playability was important in these types of games, I would find myself forced to stray away from my tried-and-true favorite, the cleric. In these cases, I found monk-type classes enjoyable. I had the muscle to punch and kick my way to success, while still being able to be the wise character.
I like that game play in Warcraft is balanced in such a way that “support” classes do not need to only be support; they can have a solo career just like any other class. I can kick ass in a group, or kick ass on my own.
Lastly, I like the challenges that the priest class affords me. I like that I can take what most people think of as a weak or helpless class and blow their minds with some super skills. I was one of the few who raided as a shadow priest pre-TBC. Priests are not supposed to tank in instances, but I have done my fair share. When a jerk tries to train six mobs onto me during an escort quest, I burn them down without breaking a sweat, and give the other player a good /laugh.
I am wise. I am good in a group. I am powerful.
I am a priest. Hear me roar.