Way back on January 8th of this year, I wrote a post to showcase some neat pictures I took from the top of the Tower in Karazhan, just before you enter the final passage to reach Prince.
The pictures were of the Skeletal Gryphon that circles in the distance, taken by zooming my Deathblow X-11 Goggles to get it up close.
At the time, I used it as the jumping off point for wishing we had more class specific mounts.
I thought, “Wouldn’t that make a great Warlock class flying mount?”
Well, I was of course immediately told that, no it wouldn’t, since Warlocks are all about the summoning demons and green fire thing, and a Skeletal Gryphon really wouldn’t make much sense.
Fast forward to the Beta…
Do you know what the Death Knight class flying mount, useable only by them, happens to be?
That’s right, my friends. The Death Knight gets the mount I gave you pictures of back in January. And it is class specific.
So, aside from having exactly one thing I can feel proud of having a ‘firsties’ on, since I don’t see anyone else talking about them before January, this opens up the conversation about class specific mounts all over again.
Let’s look at this from an RPG Gamemaster perspective for a moment.
When I am designing scenarios, one of the things I do is look at each ‘class’ or archtype that each person is playing, and I look ahead to how they could grow.
Everyone that plays an RPG wants to improve their character as they play; to grow, to become more powerful, and most importantly, to feel that their character or class is unique and special.
Towards that end I try to follow a principle of “equal but different” for each character.
I try to find ways that each class can grow and have fun, ways that are unique to each class or player, but that have a certain element of equality to them.
If we were talking about one player getting a pet or NPC, I’d look for a way that each one would be able to have a pet, NPC or companion, something unique to them, that would fit the position of “somebody who looks to the player and only the player for guidance and direction”. So a Spirit Wolf companion for a Ranger would fit that description, while a Squire for a Knight would fit also.
Just an example of what I’m taking about. Each player would have equal chance to have someone that looks up to them for guidance and inspiration, but it is different and unique to each of them.
I think the same principle should apply to the class mounts.
I just do not see why Paladins and Warlocks should have gotten class specific summonable mounts until 60, and no one else did… and then at 68 Druids got a class specific flight form and no one else did, and now at 80 Death Knights get their own class specific mount.
I still hold that it hurts nothing, and adds a great deal of fun, if each class were to have their own class-specific quest chain that would result in a class specific mount.
When we talk about other facets of the game, each class has certain things that are ‘equal but different’ to set them apart… but the whole mount thing stands out as being very strange.
It doesn’t take that long to spin out some simple ideas for class specific mounts, either.
I like the idea that Hunters could learn how to tame wild ‘travel’ beasts for use as mounts, like the Zhevra or the Alterac Ram or the Crocolisk or even the bloody Ancient Core Hound. Much like their pets, they would have to seek out a mount, and tame them, but they would be mounts from the existing beast population. It seems fair to me.
I like the idea that Warriors could have a quest chain that would result in them being able to use special military-oriented mounts due to having high status within the Alliance or Horde military hierarchy. A mount that was in the colors and heavy armor of their faction, unique and war-like, would just feel cool, it wouldn’t need to be all crazy.
I like the idea that Warlocks could summon and control flying demon mounts.
I like the idea that Paladins could summon their own flying armored Pegasi.
I like the idea that Priests could transform into angel versions of themselves with wings and halos and a golden nimbus of light… inverted to shadow for the Shadow Priests, of course.
I like the idea that Druids continue to have a special Eagle flying form to shapeshift into.
I like the idea that Mages could have a Flying Carpet that would really be class specific… and if not that, then perhaps could summon a cloud to ride on cross legged, or a lightning bolt to ride. Come on, who doesn’t want to ride the lightning?
I like the idea that Rogues could shift into a form made of black smoke, and their view would be shifted to see the world all shadowy similar to the way we shift vision and go out of phase when we do the Power Battery repeatable quest in Blades Edge Mountains. Basically, a ninja vanish in puff of smoke form, where you just stay as the smoke as you travel. No, I don’t think it’s a great idea, it’s just the best I’m coming up with right now.
I like the Shaman Spirit Wolf, I think it should have been expanded for the regular mount speed, or a new spirit form created for the mount travel speeds like an Antlered Courser, and I’d love to see that concept of transforming into a spirit creature taken to the next logical step for the Shaman in flight, such as turning into a flaming Phoenix, which could be thought of as a kind of spirit bird.
To me, the way class mounts are currently implemented shows a lopsided bit of favoritism that just doesn’t feel right. Like someone had some great ideas for a couple classes, and put them in, and they never got revisited for everyone else. But when Burning Crusade came out, the Druids got some attention, but no one was looking out for anyone else.
It’s not game changing, or unbalanced to have them for some but not all.. but it is a way that some classes have more flavor to them than others, and that sits wrong with me.
And yes, it’s been that way for a while now, but just because something is ‘the way it’s always been done’ is no reason not to revisit it.
An example… When Sam Colt designed his Colt Single Action Army revolver, he was left handed. So he put the loading gate on the right side of the gun, where it was most convenient for a left handed shooter to reload, holding the pistol in his left hand, and placing the fresh cartridges into the cylinder with his right.
For right handed shooters, they had to move the gun to their left hand, reload, and move it back. It was clumsy and awkward.
But because the damn pistol was so incredibly well designed in all other ways, no one thought to question the design for some 35 years.
35 years of right handed shooters swapping hands to reload, because hey, with a design that great, who would think to question it?
Sometimes, you just need to look at how things are, and say “Why are we still doing this? Is this really the best way to go? Is this finished? Or did someone leave a job half done, and we let it go?”
I submit that, after this many years have passed since the original game was released, it’s past time that each class be treated to their own ‘equal but different’ bit of travel fun.