DW: On the subject of Gnome Priests, I'm going to point out that Gnome healers of a type do exist in game. There's been Gnome Medics spotted in Gnomeregan, and more recently in the Howling Fjord as part of the Alliance's Northern Fleet. If you really want to be thorough, you could point out that Gnomeregan offers a Gnomeregan Bonesaw as one of its Argent Tournament rewards, and a bonesaw is traditionally a healer's tool.
MS: Yeah, absolutely. Gnomes clearly have the ability to heal, though we've not necessarily seen it magically done before. One the other hand, it's not as if other gnome magic users are few and far between.
DW: I definitely agree, which is why my final word on why Gnomes should be Priests would probably come from Northrend itself.
MS: Yeah, Northrend has certainly been eye-opening for the gnomes, or at least for those gnomes that choose to believe what they've seen in Borean Tundra and Ulduar.
DW: Right, the Gnomes have had a very interesting time of it there. They've had their whole origin and original purpose laid out before them at Fizzcrank's Airstrip in the struggle with Gearmaster Mechazod. Given that they now know where they come from, they need to come to grips with that. Are they horrified that they're descended from near-mindless Automatons and Machines, or are they proud that they were once the perfect machines of invention and innovation? Those are the type of questions a new Gnomish religion would work on answering.
MS: True; Blizzard has said before that religion might be beyond gnomes, but they've been interacting with other religious races for a long time now. Maybe they could take a step away from the drawing board and into more abstract concepts.
DW: Yeah, exactly. I'm going to raise the flag in support of Comparative Religion and Mythology in Azeroth again. I'd like to see the Gnomes not worship the Light, but rather start a Church of Innovation and Discovery, with Priests of the same preaching the virtues of said ideas.
MS: The Holy Light is comparable to Mimiron's Spark of Imagination, really, when you get down to it.
DW: Yeah, the idea of Gnome Priests being able to heal and harm via pure belief in the power of thought is actually scarily cool to me.
MS: And hardly as outright scary as some other stuff gnomes have done!
DW: Haha, right. But hey, if it comes down to it, I can deal with Gnomes depressed by their origins seeking solace in the Light too. But it would be cooler to have that whole Church of the Imagination concept, and would open up a lot more interesting lore and storytelling possibilities.
Priest columnist Matt Low's perspective: With the inclusion of Gnomes, every race in the Alliance will have access to Priests. It's very difficult to hate a Gnome (some exceptions may apply depending on faction loyalty). It's possible to see these knee biters as Priests. We already see them wielding arcane powers and demonic spells in the form of Mages and Warlocks.
For naming a Gnome Priest, might I suggest the likes of Gnoheals, Gneedmana, and Gnoblegnome?
From a tactical perspective, the Expansive Mind racial effect increases Intellect by 5%. That in itself is great as Intellect ties into Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope and Replenishment. Escape Artist could very well rival Stoneform in terms of PvP racials. Lastly, Priest Engineers will have a head start.
DW: I'm really very excited for what all these new race and class combinations could mean not only for immediate gameplay options but for the long term story of the Warcraft Universe. With Arthas probably dying in Patch 3.3, we're entering a whole new chapter of the story, and it's a perfect time to shake things up. With new religions, new paths, and new philosophies permeating the races and stories of Azeroth, I'm very excited to see where the lore team can take the story next.
MS: Definitely. I think that while these additions are more overtly for gameplay reasons, to facilitate more choice in faction switches and to encourage rerolling in a game where we've had the same class options for years, they also show that Blizzard isn't afraid to advance the game lore and mix things up a little. Hopefully these are just one small step toward making that happen on a large scale.