Call off the dogs, fair readers! It’s taken a while, but I’m finally getting around to this. The Draenei Play File is here!
So what are the draenei all about? First of all, the draenei are about purity and incorruptibility. They do not see this in a sexual sense, or even a cleanliness sense. (A religious sense comes close, however.) No, they see this in a quite pragmatic sense: They’re a race who have been beset time and time again by those corrupted by the demonic. The corruptions of Sargeras saw their finest leaders turned into their betrayers. When the Burning Legion turned the orcs, it saw the decimation of their race. Even that flight was in turn attacked by the blood elves, who were at least a little corrupted by fel forces. In short, the draenei have seen time and time again the pain and suffering that demonic corruption brings – And are likely very wary of it. They tend to trust those who have shown they have the combination of moral fortitude, disgust at the demonic and purpose that makes one resistant to this sort of corruptive presence.
Dwarves: And it is perhaps the dwarves who best epitomise this at every level. While the dwarves weren’t the first race that the draenei encountered (that was humanity) nor the one they have the most dealings with (the night elves by sheer virtue of proximity) the dwarves are the race that most draenei come to trust. They are worshippers of the Light (mostly) giving them a point of common reference in their thinking. In addition to this, they stand firm and hard against demonic corruption within their own people – That there are no dwarvish warlocks is a major point in their favour. Your average dwarf may booze like there’s no tomorrow, they may be aggressive and violent, but they will never betray a friend, and lying goes against their code of honour. This shines as a beacon to the draenei that the dwarves do have a tightly defined sense of right and wrong, even if their sense of right and wrong is different to that of a draenei. In short, the draenei don’t believe they’ll be hurt by the dwarves, and thus they trust them.
“By the Light, we are blessed with a true ally in this place – An ally half our size, requiring twice as much living space, and four times as much drink. But an ally without peer, none the less.”
Gnomes: By contrast, the gnomes are a dreadful race to a draenei’s mind. Oh, certainly they mean well. No draenei would question this; gnomes are such an inherently friendly, forthright group of creatures that disliking them is difficult. But they really only seem to punish warlocks in order to please the dwarves. They are religious only to the slightest of degrees and show no sense of higher purpose. Their moral compass is so damn shaky it could be better used as a clock. A very unreliable, back and forth, fail at any moment sort of a clock. So do the draenei see the gnomes: Very unreliable, back and forth, fail at any moment sort of a race. They do mean well, but they have seen that well intentioned fall time and time again.
“Listen to me, little one. You call it ‘fel science’, or ‘dimensional analysis’. You call it harmless, or a valid field of inquiry. Well, I am a scholar. I have studied magic all my life, a life many times as long as your own. I call it ‘what killed my people’. Some books should not be opened.”
Humans: What a puzzlement the humans are! On one hand, they’re the most power-hungry, short-sighted, ferocious group of creatures the draenei have seen since coming to Azeroth. They’re a race who share not a little bit in common with a race they’re very familiar with: The orcs. And yet… the humans also share an incredible sense of higher purpose. The orcs were, the draenei know, an admirable race before they were corrupted. But were they ever this capable of incredible charity and kindness? Humans have a remarkable sense of empathy, perhaps moreso than the orcs can manage. The work of the Light, perhaps? For now, the draenei watch the humans with caution and hope.
“The humans have a phrase: Tabula Rasa, an old-tongue phrase meaning ‘clean slate’. I have never seen a race describe itself so perfectly.”
Night Elves: And then there are the Night Elves, a race whose many mistakes are countered by one unbelievably noble act: They sacrificed their immortality to defeat the Legion. This is a truly incredible feat, and it is one the draenei do know of by now. It amazes them. Unlike the humans and orcs who witnessed it, the draenei are immortal. They are perhaps the one race who can comprehend exactly what an incredibly fearful and terrible thing it was they had to do – They understand the fear of death that only one who is not built to die can hold. They understand the potential that was sacrificed. That one act washes away all else – It verifies the Night Elves as a race to be trusted.
“If they hate magic, then do not use magic around them. Take their words seriously, counter with your own. Argue, argue often, because you know they are the loyal opposition.”
Blood Elves: There’s got to be a bit of smugness going around the draenei right now, surely. The Blood Elves were ruthless about the draenei and for no real reason; their sabotage of Tempest Keep may have been motivated by greed, but they then continued to attack the draenei even after the crash landing, which seems to be motivated by little more than spite. Yet now, of course, the draenei’s actions have lead to the salvation of the Sin’dorei. That’s a pretty heavy affair, and it’s one that surely has a few egos pumped up, in spite of the draenei’s usual humility. This has probably moved the blood elves back down to #2 on the draenei’s “least well-regarded race” list, but they’re far from trusted. Your average draenei will, when confronted with a blood elf, either attack first or wait depending upon the circumstances, but they’re not going to turn their back on them for one second.
“They have their chance. This is a foundation.”
Orcs & Trolls: Then there are the orcs. While the draenei can distinguish easily between an orc and troll physically, I’ve still put these two together as they still unlikely to distinguish between the two socially. How much does a draenei know about a troll’s mindset? Very little, which is why most draenei will simply assume the trolls follow the same line as the orcs – Bloodthirsty brutes but a second away from returning to their old ways. While most draenei have heard of (and approve of) Thrall, they don’t believe that he speaks for most orcs (which is actually true) and assume most will readily descend right back into their fel-touched fury if given the chance. (Which may be true, but we don’t know yet.)
“The orcs murdered our people many years ago. They murdered the humans years ago. They will murder more now. Their nature is regrettably set.”
Tauren: The Tauren would, if the draenei knew more about them, probably have as positive a reception as the dwarves. They are strong, noble, trustworthy and incorruptible. (Well, the Grimtotem aren’t, but anyway, the draenei don’t know about them and anyway anyway, what about the Dark Iron dwarves?) But they don’t. Sadly, your average draenei is likely to think of the tauren in the only comparison they know: By way of the Horde. And they know the blood elves as a corrupted race, the orcs as a corrupted race, the undead defined by their corruption. They see the tauren in the same light. A few (maybe some involved in the Argent Dawn, perhaps?) might see them more charitably, but this is rare.
“The largest of the Horde, and therefore the most dangerous. That is all we know.”
Undead: If corruption is the great vice for the draenei, what are they to make of a race defined by being aberrations of nature?The undead are the undead, and the difference between the Scourge and the Forsaken is slight – They simply don’t have enough history with them to think differently yet. Your average draenei is unlikely to see the difference between the two as being any larger than ‘The Forsaken are smarter and more deadly’.
“The only difference between the Scourge and the Forsaken I can see is that the Forsaken are smarter and more deadly.”
Viewing the Classes
Death Knight: One really has to wonder about draenei death knights. They’ve only been around a year and already they’ve fallen in battle. One would hope that the draenei would be forgiving and concerned about their fallen breathren (especially since, given the time frame, they’re the least likely race to have voluntarily become death knights) but considering the race’s paranoia and worry about the Broken it seems likely there may be a little body horror in seeing what the draenei have become.
Druid: There’s a great degree of respect that the draenei have for the druids – They’re naturally inclined to like any religious order that can oppose the fel forces. Given how readily they accepted shamanism and adopted it themselves, it’s not unreasonable to expect that a similar thing may well occur with the druids over time. Draenei druids? Why not?
Hunter: Draenei hunters are a hold-over from their time on Draenor, where they probably held two major roles – Food gatherer and scout. To the first, it would seem reasonable that there may actually be a slight religious element. I could definitely see a draenei hunter killing his prey in a very ritual way to cleanse the meat. The second is a result of their time being hunted. Draenei look to their hunters to be the first sign of danger.
Mage: The mage is an intensely respected person within draenei society. They are scholars but also expected to be leaders; there’s an element of technocracy in their society, it would seem. They are the ‘learned men’ of draenei society and the first people the draenei turn to when something unexplained occurs. Given the highly technological nature of their magical systems (such as the Exodar) it also seems there’s a pretty blurry line between magic and technology in their society (perhaps a nod to Arthur C. Clark) and I posit that more mages are engineers than any other class in draenei society.
Paladin: Paladins in the draenei belong to a society known as the Hand of Argus who hold the virtues of obedience, bravery, intelligence, and above all, honor. Some more introspective paladins may note that the name Argus is very similar to the word ‘argent’, meaning silver. The human paladins, of course, belong to the Silver Hand. In this, they see the subtle hand of the Naaru.
Priest: If the mage are the learned men of draenei society, then the priests are the wise men. While this is postulation only, it’s my feeling that the priests of the Holy Light amongst the draenei are less intellectually theological. Their theology is a more emotional one, attuned to the needs of their people. (The humans would be the contrast, with much of their theology discussing the nature of the Light.) Being so close to the Naaru, the mysteries of the Light are not so deep, and it is is how to use them that is more important. It seems unlikely that a draenei priest would be too dogmatic; the Light is more flexible than the humans and dwarves suppose. Pastoring is more important than preaching to them.
Rogue: The love of gold corrupts. A belief that the ends justify the means is a defence of corruption. A rogue’s method is one of sneakiness and trickery, not virtues the draenei hold to. The draenei do not, however, write them off completely. They accept that a rogue can in fact do less damage than a warrior; a rogue may kill one man to achieve the same effect a warrior would kill dozens for. This they respect. But they do not trust a rogue, and expect treachery from them.
Shaman: The shamanic traditions of the draenei are quite recent and as such they’re sort of the “respected radicals” of the society. Nobody really hopes their children will become a shaman at this point, but there’s also nothing wrong with it, and as noted before, anything that stands against the Burning Legion is worthwhile. Most look at shamans a little strangely, and socially they don’t yet have a strong role. This gives them freedom to be involved anywhere.
Warlocks: There are two types of warlock, to a draenei mind. Those who understand they serve demons, and those who believe they control them. The first are evil. The second are deluded.
Warrior: Warriors in the draenei are both needed and have had a hard life. Most of their enemies have corrupted and destroyed those they fight by their mere presence. As such, being a warrior, one of the front line troops, has been basically accepting suicide so that others might live. Draenei warriors are likely very grim, at least at heart. Some may disguise this with typical draenei joviality, but every one has had time to come to grips with the ideas of eternal exile, separation from everything they love, mutation, and death. A few may now just be beginning to realise they do not face this any more… and rejoice.