The Holy priest is one of the classic MMORPG roles. When we think of the Fighter/Mage/Priest dynamic, it’s the Holy Priest being discussed. It’s no wonder, as a result, that this particular archetype has been the most popular for the priest. But there’s more than one that can be relied on, and more than one way to still play the healing priest.
The Stereotype: The Stereotypical Holy Priest is a good person, maybe a little quiet, often using one of the older looking character models. At heart they want to help people and serve their particular deity, not necessarily in that order. They don’t like conflict, but do not shy away from it if they have to do so to protect their flock. However, they will have a strong moral core and refuse to bend on it; if they don’t maintain a standard for themselves, how will they ever reach others? At their heart, they’re wise and steady, good counsellors as well as healers.
Alternatives: The Scrub: Young and idealistic, the Scrub is fresh out of the seminary, eager to teach others in the ways of their faith, to lead them to the righteousness of a good life. And after years spent learning about the theology of their faith, after learning the best methods for personal interaction and large scale preaching; they have stepped out into the world and learned a single, massively crucial fact: They don’t know jack. You can do all the preaching you want, but when your pulpit is an old crate that used to hold wine bottles, you can only get so far. None of your fancy counseling tricks matter if nobody is interested in your opinions as some punk kid who has spent his life in books instead of the real world. Surrounded by a parish who cares more about drink, gambling and seductions, you’ve done the only sensible thing – You’ve joined in, where you can. Oh, obviously not the seductions, you limit your drink to as little as you can get away with, and you donate all your gambling winnings back to the church. But you’ve learned, the hard way, that leading as an example only works if people actually consider you a friend, and that holding yourself apart from the community only serves to distance yourself from the very people you’re trying to save. (Best suits: Perfect for a dwarf, human or a draenei, although the draenei is probably ministering to the other races, rather than his own. Also works for a night elf, although you’ll need to tweak it a little, as is the case for a troll. Probably won’t work for an undead or blood elf.)
The Miracle Man: Praise be! Everyone raise your hands, and pray along with me now. The divine can’t help you if you won’t raise your voice in song, if you won’t give your heart and your mind in belief, and your wallet in sacrifice. But if you do all that, especially the sacrifice, why, you will be healed! Yes, the Miracle Man is a traveling revival show, usually with a few good looking (but wholesome!) women in tow, a great speaking voice, and a gift for making people part with their money. He’s actually the real deal; he grew up in a churched household and knows all the tricks and trappings of the faith, and staggeringly, he really can heal you. He can’t, to be fair, summon rain to grow your crops with, ensure your children will all be fair and strong or much of the other stuff he says he can do, but once you’ve seen him heal (and seen his hair, he has great hair,) who will you be to argue? The saddest thing about the Miracle Man is that somewhere along the line, he really believed. But belief never translated into a good life, it’s hard to meditate while your stomach is grumbling and, one compromise by one, he’s reached where he is. He insists that he, “puts on a good show” and that the people he fleeces are paying for the entertainment rather than the promise of salvation. It gets him to sleep for now, but will it always? (Best suits: Humans again do great with this one, as will dwarves, but the undead can get a surprisingly amount of milage out of this one; as he goes around ministering to orcs, trolls and tauren with ‘old human wisdom’. Blood elves might just get away with something similar, and this is tailor made for trolls with their voodoo secrets. Probably not a draenei archetype, but maybe.)
The Librarian: Monks were some of the earliest librarians human society has ever known, collating large volumes of material, painstakingly copying each and every one by hand so that every monastery and church would have one, archiving it so that the faith would never be lost. Meanwhile on Azeroth, just about every single religion is in flux. The Holy Light has lost much of its holy texts through three wars, and any recovered texts will help guide the faith as it rebuilds. Elune’s holy priestesses are being joined by priests; the entire Dwarvish population is in the grip of a religious mania, it seems, over the Titans. The trolls are having a difficult transition from voodoo priesthood to shamanic traditions, the undead are founding the Cult of the Forgotten Shadow. In each and every case, finding all the texts and keeping them indexed, stored and safe is crucial to the future of the faith. You are their seeker and guardian. Where most priests focus on keeping their flock alive, you focus on keeping knowledge alive. Where most priests see themselves serving their god, and then their people, but you see yourself as serving truth above all. No matter what it is. No matter where it is. You will find the ancient holy texts, or help them be created. (Best suits: As noted, humans, dwarves, elves, trolls and undead fit this archetype the best.)
[Note: This post was edited to include a detail I forgot in my original draft.]