World of Warcraft (WoW)

There should have been a Shaman Zone: What Bwonsamdi’s Covenant Could’ve Been

Late night thought, but here what I'm noticing is missing from the narrative: Shamanism was not centered at all in Shadowlands. Death Knight Shadow Mages(TM) sustain the portals, Mueh'zala was featured but not explained, The Other Side ie the Troll Afterlife was rendered an instance (Like Zul'Gurub, Zul'Farrak, Zul'Drak, Zul'Aman, Dazar'Alor, Atal'Dazar, King's Rest, i.e. every single major city or area of Trolls except Echo Isles), and in general Shamanism hasn't been explained.

It didn't have to be this way. Was discussing this on the forums today: https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/wow/t/the-horde-characters-feel-so-out-of-place/934898/103

Blizzard could have made Shamanism as part of the core metaphysics of WoW in the following way:

  • Make Mueh'zala one of the Eternal Ones, and have Bwonsamdi be his usual envoy on all things while he's off doing Mueh'zala things.
  • The Shaman Land (lets call it Guineeland, based on IRL voodoo afterlife) = the Other Side.
  • The Duty/Job of Shaman land is two fold: 1) they are in charge of guarding the veil (separate from Maldraxxus who guard Shadowlands proper and are allowed to enter reality to stop other forces) and cannot manifest in reality under any and all circumstances and 2) they are in charge of sustaining lines of communication between the Ancestors and their people
  • This ancestral communication is important because the living must listen to the dead, whether through history or literally, in order to help guide people into a better future. Also, the veil needs guarding, and Maldraxxus is too brute force for it.
  • They get anima by extracting a tiny bit every time someone accesses the Ancestors, and another bit every time someone enters Guineeland fully; same way Ardenweald takes some anima in exchange for the Soulshape power.
  • Guineeland doesn't have its own "natural" geography, but rather each people is based in small city-temples.
  • The Shamanistic races in WoW are: Orc (MU and Maghar), Tauren (Mulgore and Highmountain), Dwarf (all three clans), Troll (Zandalari and Otherwise), Vulpera, Pandaren, Draenei and Kul Tirans
  • The center of Guineeland would be Bwonsamdi's/Mueh'zala's Necropolis, but the rest of the zone would feature a copy of Shadowmoon Burial Grounds, a giant tipi on a plateau like a supped up Spirit Rise in Thunder Blufffor the Tauren, a Dwarven Citadel like a supped up Hall of Thanes (like the inside of the Lonely Mountain from the Hobbit movies), a copy of Atal'Dazar for all the trolls (and the vulpera!), a supped up golden pagoda structure like in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms for the Pandaren, a copy of Auchindoun for the Draenei and a copy of Shrine of the Storm for Kul Tirans.
  • The narrative tells us as planets rise and fall, and shamanism expands and shrinks, the realm's geography changes. Maybe add a subzone where dead culture's temples are seen, like the realm in American Gods where dead gods are forgotten.
  • The ancestors speak to the living through a magic pool located at the center of each location; these locations are intentionally modeled after places in reality because that is why spirits can "appear" at these locations (like Shadowmoon Burial Ground) or in certain interfaces (like the Tauren and Orcish Spirit Pools). They are where the veil is "thin". The pool requires anima to be activated, but also takes anima from the living upon use, so usually a net gain.
  • Normally, Mueh'zala is the formal ruler but takes a laissez faire yolo attitude, he leaves Bwonsamdi in charge, and Bwonsamdi has a council of one representative per major enclave
  • The Elder Council could've been: Cairne for the Tauren (SO WE GET BAINE DEVELOPMENT), Durotan or Grom for the Orcs (SO WE GET THRALL PARENTAL REUNION), Rastakhan for the Trolls (SO WE SEE WHAT HAPPENED AFTER BFA), Dwarves get Madoran Bronzebeard (or Thaussarian! To be spicy), Pandaren get Emperor Shaohao, Kul Tirans get idk Daelin Proudmoore, or the original Lord Stormsong from long ago (Jaina development!), and Draenei could get Vindicator Maraad
  • The plot would be: discovering Mueh'zala has betrayed the Eternal Ones (the dungeon could stay the same, but changed to the Gates of the Other Side similar to IRL Gates of Guinee), he's been stealing Loa/Wild Gods from Ardenweald, he's been letting Maw Shades into the veil (ergo the Vol'jin questline, the Talanji coronation allied race questline, and the Tauren heritage questline), he kidnaps Cairne/Durotar/Daelin/Madoran and sends them to the Maw and we have to rescue them with Rastakhan, we manage to subjugate Muehzala same as we have now, but before we managed that Mueh'zala sapped all the anima from the spirit pools of each temple! Oh no!
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It really could've been something cool if Blizzard had been willing to engage with themes, cultures, and characters they usually don't engage with or empower within the story, and would've been a cool way to "validate" but also "correct" in-game metaphysics of shamanistic practices on the "ancestor worship" end.

Thank you for your time if you read through it all.

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