The Shadow and You: Why I Love Priests

11 Jan

In January 2005 I installed World of Warcraft because my husband, deployed in Afghanistan at the time, wanted me to play with him while he was far away. Since then I’ve put in more gaming hours than I’d care to admit. I’ve picked flowers, tailored armor, cut gems, farmed materials and killed every kind of beast and baddie under the sun. I’ve tried every class and every race, filling twenty character slots on Feathermoon across two accounts and deleting countless more, and I have a favorite.

I. Love. Priests.

Four of my Feathermoon slots are reserved for priests. I have a troll, goblin, human and dwarf, all but one of them with a shadow spec. “Bika,” you might say, “that sounds a little obsessive.”

Yes. Yes it is.

Obviously I like the playstyle. I wouldn’t roll new priests over and over again if I hated using dots and a priority system for spellcasting. There’s something satisfying about settling into the rhythm of casting spells, fitting them together into a seamless dance of rolling yellow numbers. It’s the Tetris of specs, demanding efficiency and timing to rise to the top of the meters. But the mechanics aren’t the reason I love shadowpriests. I could easily play a warrior (my second favorite class) or any other class and find a niche. No, I love them for a more in-character reason: because they melt friggin’ faces.

Priests who dabble in the shadow realms draw on the dark downcycle of balance rather than the life-giving upcycle. They funnel the power of shadows, death and darkness directly into the unguarded minds of their quarry, reducing them to shrieking heaps of meat unable to do more than flail wildly as they try to tear out their own eyes. A high keening mental howl, properly timed, forces the victim to drop his weapons and huddle in fear or send him fleeing in terror. Whispered shadow words wriggle into the victim’s ear and replicate themselves, tearing slowly and steadily at the psyche until sanity is nothing but a dream.

The wrath of a dark priest is a terrible thing to behold.


This guy is about to get The Treatment. Hint: it's melty

Does that make your typical shadowpriest evil? I don’t think so. We’re not talking about some kind of Star Wars universe where black is black, white is white, and there is nothing in between. Even the good guys need an offense, and that’s where a devotee of the shadow really shines. Just as a doe-eyed innocent of the Light is needed to heal the wounds of her allies by calling upon her chosen deity, a dark priestess channels the forces of destruction to crush her foes, thereby aiding her cause. That’s not to say you can’t play an evil shadowpriest. There’s room for everyone on this pain train.

From a roleplaying standpoint, there are as many ways to handle the shades of grey as there are people in Azeroth. Because Blizzard doesn’t define the specifics of how a priest takes his or her power from Light or Shadow, it is left to the player to decide what makes sense. Their talents run the gamut from mind-control to levitation; they influence the mood and decisions of others at will. Not every priest has the same strengths. Like most mortals, they have weaknesses.

Ambika, my troll priestess, is a shadow manipulator of the highest order; her methods are the blackest of the black, but I wouldn’t call her evil. Her specialties just happen to lie in harnessing the raw power of the Nether and turning it, much like a firehose hooked up to a vat of boiling pitch, onto her enemies. She is able to use the Light, but prefers not to.

By contrast, my human priest is a timid creature with a natural affinity to the Nether, dwelling on some thin border between the world of the living and the realm of the dead. Thiyenn uses her powers in self-defense, protecting her kin in a strange world she can never quite understand. It’s not that she doesn’t want the Light in her life, she’s just not been trained to wield it and is clumsy when she tries. Heredity and rigorous discipline molded her into what she is–a powerful beacon attuned to the dark aspects.

Both play the same as far as the game is concerned. They have identical specs, gear and spell priorities, no matter what pixels I control at the moment. Their differences are in the skill and motivation of the characters, the fullness of their lives in my imagination, the vibrant color of their stories. Any class can yield a fine, multi-layered character but each cleric, priest or acolyte has a unique path to darkness, and that’s why I like ‘em.


4 Responses to “The Shadow and You: Why I Love Priests”

  1. Itanya Blade January 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    I feel much the same way about paladins. From Dorri’tow who is a Sin’dorei Blood Knight to Tarelyn who is a human bastion of holy protection. Both Dorri and Tare have the same spec (prot/ret) they have very different attitudes.

  2. Sarai January 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    This + replace priests with druids = me.

    My druids run the gamut from pure feral to (almost) pure spellcaster. Pitch, for example, has no ability to cast magic, but Alanon has more than enough skill to make up for it. Taurros can use magic but prefers not to. Rheugan’s ability with spells has some potential, but his feral side is so dominant that he will likely never -not- be feral. And Shaurria falls in-between all that.

    And this doesn’t even cover my baby troll druid, who hasn’t developed a personality yet, or any of the future alts that I will probably make. Obsession? Maybe, but at least it’s a fun one.


  1. The Shadow and You « Bika Central - January 11, 2011

    […] This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 at 1:39 pm and tagged with priests, Seven Deadly Divas, WoW and posted in Seven Deadly Divas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. « Listfinity LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. So You Want to Play a Shadowpriest. « Seven Deadly Divas - January 19, 2011

    […] So you have a priest. Maybe she’s a total badass with her shadow powers cranked up to eleven, blastin’ bad guys and defending her city. Perhaps he’s a helpful sociopath looking to rid the world of everyone who isn’t useful. Or maybe he adores puppies, kittens and sunshine, but everything he touches sort of dies. […]

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