The Horde has experienced a number of dramatic changes in the Cataclysm expansion. In vanilla, the Horde was struggling, largely due to a lack of resources. In Cataclysm, largely due to Garrosh Hellscream's efforts, the Horde has expanded its borders. With the help of the goblins, Azshara is being mined for a wealth of resources, and land is being grabbed all over Kalimdor. Things are beginning to look up for the Horde -- well, if you're in Orgrimmar. Elsewhere, the land is riddled with turmoil and tragedy.
If you're roleplaying a tauren, the events of Cataclysm are a bitter pill to swallow. A leader has been lost, entire settlements have been wiped from the map, racial infighting between the Grimtotem and the tauren of Thunder Bluff continues to rage. Yet in between it all are moments of hope -- and it's up to roleplayers to decide whether to wallow in the sorrow, fight back in fury, or simply try and keep an optimistic amidst it all.
What happened Cairne Bloodhoof, beloved leader of the tauren and founder of Thunder Bluff, lost his life in the novel The Shattering. But that's not the worst part. The worst part is that he lost his life at the hands of Garrosh Hellscream, the guy currently leading the Horde. Despite the fact that Garrosh's blade was poisoned, the very fact that he was in a duel to the death with Cairne suggests that Cairne was less than receptive to the new Warchief. Yet Cairne's son Baine still keeps the alliance with the Horde alive.
How this affects your character Cairne was a fixture in tauren culture. Prior to Cairne, there wasn't really a leader of the tauren; they were a nomadic race split into their own individual tribes. Cairne was the one who brought all those tribes together under one roof, putting an end to the nomadic and distant lifestyle the tauren had been following for generations. He was beloved, and his death affected the tauren people greatly.
What to consider This is a time of uncertainty for the tauren. The leader that united the scattered tribes has been lost, and his son is doing his best to follow his father's path. Does your character approve of Baine? Is he happy with the way the tauren are being led? What does he think of Garrosh and the "new" Horde? Is he happy with the direction the Horde is taking, or is he frustrated with this new leadership? Did Cairne's death affect him deeply?
What happened Cairne's death triggered an uprising by the Grimtotem -- an uprising that was quickly quashed by Baine. That event does raise a question, though. If one tribe was willing to try and overthrow Thunder Bluff, are there other tribes out there that would do the same? But that's not the only fighting the tauren have on their hands -- the Alliance have crushed Camp Taurajo, and the tauren have constructed a wall between Mulgore and the rest of the world as a result. The quillboar have risen up and begun attacking Camp Narache in earnest as a result of the Cataclysm.
How this affects your character If you're leveling in Mulgore, it's immediately obvious that the tauren are fighting on all fronts, with the Alliance, with the quillboar -- and even with each other. For a tauren who's just starting out, you are confronted with bloodshed very, very quickly -- and it doesn't seem to ever let up. It's an odd world, one in which a leveling tauren feels obliged to constantly, warily be looking over his shoulder.
What to consider What kind of tauren are you roleplaying? Is violence something that bothers him? Is he disturbed by the sheer amount of people that seem to be working against the tauren, or is the heat of battle something he embraces? Is he the type to fold under pressure and cave? Or does the presence of battle simply make him fight harder? Did your tauren lose any friends, relatives, or loved ones in any of the attacks?
What happened It isn't just the creatures of Azeroth that are in turmoil with Cataclysm. The very world itself has buckled and pushed apart, the elements themselves in chaos. Once a canyon, Thousand Needles has flooded and killed many of the residents of the sandy canyon. The tauren follow the Earthmother, and they are very much in tune with nature as a result. For a people beleaguered by battle on all fronts, it seems like even the earth is fighting against them at this point.
How this affects your character If you are playing a shaman or druid class, this is the sort of thing that would affect your character deeply -- even more so than the fighting between the different races of the world. The Earthmother is a beloved deity to the tauren, the creator of all things (and in a way, the land itself). Now that land is crying out in terror, rising up and tearing apart.
What to consider Is your tauren a shaman or a druid? How does he feel about the devastation brought about by Deathwing? Is he deeply connected to the earth, and if so, how does the sudden upheaval of the land make him feel? Even if your character isn't a druid or a shaman, how does he feel about the physical events of Cataclysm? Has he lost any friends, relatives or loved ones to natural disasters? Does he view the shattering of the world as an assault on the Earthmother, or perhaps the Earthmother striking back at the tauren people for something they've done?
What happened Just before Cataclysm, a tauren named Tahu Sagewind came up with a curious thought: If the tauren follow Mu'sha, the left eye of the Earthmother, what exactly happened to An'she, the right eye? In the end, Tahu's questioning and research brought about the Sunwalkers, a group of tauren priests and paladins who follow An'she's path.
How this affects your character If the character you choose to play is a priest or a paladin, this is an incredibly new path for the tauren to follow. If your character is playing one of the other classes, Tahu's teachings are a bit of a radical change for the tauren. They've been following the path of Mu'sha for so long that An'she wasn't even a consideration. So it represents a wholly new way of thinking -- and with the amount of upheaval the tauren are experiencing this expansion, this is just one more thing to add to the pile of developments.
What to consider Is your character a priest or a paladin? If so, what made him decide to choose an entirely new path to follow? What does he think of An'she? How does he reconcile his version of the Light with that of the blood elves (or even the Alliance's version of it)? If your character is neither paladin nor priest, what does he think of Tahu's teachings? Does he trust the Sunwalkers, or does he view the revelations of An'she's Light as a load of nonsense? Is he indifferent to it entirely? Is he curious about what other missing elements of tauren culture could be sitting around, undiscovered?
But more importantly, there is an emotional element to the tauren race, much more so now than in vanilla. The tauren people have experienced heartache after heartache as a result of Cairne's death, and the Shattering that seemed to be a catalyst for anyone and everyone to launch attacks. Though the tauren are arguably one of the more peaceful races Warcraft has to offer, current events have broken that idyllic life.
It makes for a rich, evocative, emotional environment that has the potential to color all aspects of your roleplay. Your tauren could be utterly devastated, weighed down by the events of the world. He could be fighting back with all his strength, determined to regain that which was lost. Or he could simply be a stalwart proponent of peace, standing tall no matter what is thrown his way. One thing's for certain -- roleplaying a tauren has never been more interesting.
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