Ok, so… yesterday, I was looking for information on suggested secondary classes for my lowbie Assassin char in Guild Wars, when I stumbled across a preview of Nightfall at Softpedia.com.
I read some of it, hoping that it might be informative or at least entertaining. Nope. What it DID manage to do is get me all sorts of riled up about the current state of idiots in this country in a way that I’ve not felt in a few months at least 😛
To quote the preview:
Paragons would be more suitable named paladins, but I guess that monicker is already taken by a World of We-know-what class. Paragons hold heavier armor, similar to a Rangerï¿½s, with extra protection from elemental and either fire or lightning attacks.
Questionable grammar aside, What kind of idiot even vaguely qualified to post reviews on fantasy games thinks that WoW is in any way has claim to the word ‘paladin’?
According to the dictionary:
pal‧a‧din /ˈpï¿½lədɪn/ [pal-uh-din] ï¿½ noun
- any one of the 12 legendary peers or knightly champions in attendance on Charlemagne.
- any knightly or heroic champion.
- any determined advocate or defender of a noble cause.
[Origin: 1585ï¿½95; < F < It paladino < LL palātīnus imperial functionary, n. use of adj.; see palatine]
That’s right. The word is over 400 years old. In the more modern sense of a knight with healing spells, it has seen use in fantasy gaming for 30+ years. Probably before the author of this preview was even born.
I bet he spells rogue “rouge” and thinks Warhammer Online is a WoW rip-off too.
Two weeks ago, OGX had a very good article on this particular one. The Warhammer thing, not the makeup.
Back in april, Penny Arcade also commented on this misconception apparently prevalent in today’s world of newbish children who wouldn’t know a d4 if they stepped on one in the dark.
From Tycho’s blog post that day:
On forums of wanton reputation, I sometimes hear that Games Workshop – Games Workshop – has stolen this or that from Blizzard, and that odious charge will only grow in volume and intensity as screens and news of Warhammer Online achieve wider circulation. There is no small amount of danger involved in presenting this notion: as proof, I offer Exhibit A (ed: that day’s comic strip).
A charitable person might call the many points of continuity “homage.” These days, I think Blizzard genuinely owns their contexts to a much greater extent – there are what I would call “significant” story innovations in Warcraft 3, Brood War, and World of Warcraft that assert their homegrown narrative power. As Games Workshop has begun to license its properties in a more measured, “skilful” way, it’ll be interesting to see how well they actually do against the worlds they inspired.
Yeah… I’ve been waiting for a good Warhammer game for 10 years now. Mythic had better deliver with this one 🙂
But back to the subject of traditional FRPG character classes and their linguistic/historical origins. Here are a few other words that are ‘unique’ enough that the average wet-nosed kid might not have encountered them before.
I’ll start with one of the easier and more interesting ones. I don’t really suspect that anybody seriously doubts this one, but so long as I’m in full rant, I may as well…
Assassin derives from the Hashishin, an old (like 11th century old) secret society who had members who engaged in the odd political murder or two. These missions were often suicidal and they were promised the standard extremist’s afterlife care package, which in this case included a substantial amount of hashish (pot).
The Wikipedia has a decent article on the subject.
One interesting thing to note from the article: They called themselves fedayeen from the Arabic fidā’ī, which means “one who is ready to sacrifice his/her life for a cause.” Coincidence that Frank Herbert’s death squad commandos are the “fedaykin“? I think not 😛
Druids were the ancient Celtic priestly caste. In addition to the worship of assorted gods and chopping off people’s heads as saccrifices, they also worshipped trees and mistletoe and stuff. Legends have them doing all sorts of interesting magic like changing the weather and turning people mad. In several versions of the Arthurian legends, Merlin was a druid.
The shape-shifting aspect of the class comes from old fantasy roleplaying stuff. 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons (1970’s) had a druid class that could turn into animals… which ability is probably originally derived from old ceremonial costumes or from Merlin or whatever.
A bit of abbreviated dictionary searching will discover that:
rang‧er /ˈreɪndʒər/ [reyn-jer] ï¿½ noun
- one of a body of armed guards who patrol a region.
- a soldier specially trained in the techniques of guerrilla warfare, esp. in jungle terrain.
- a person who ranges or roves.
- British. a keeper of a royal forest or park.
[Origin: 1350ï¿½1400; ME; see range, -er]
Let it also be known that Tolkien’s ‘ranger’ (Aragorn) was based on this original definition of the word and is the original template for all future incarnations. Aragorn does such rangerly things as dual-wield swords, track, shoot, talk to elves, run through the forest, etc…
Sorcery is generally defined as black magic.
The modern WotC class and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld seem more inclined define the term in a slightly less evil terms and see it as a more primal, ancient type of magic. Less of written spells and incantations, more of making it up as you go along.
The word itself is a 16th century adaptation of some really old latin for ‘to cast lots’. Fortune teller types.
I like this definition of shaman:
shaï¿½man (shï¿½mn, sh-) n.
A member of certain tribal societies who acts as a medium between the visible world and an invisible spirit world and who practices magic or sorcery for purposes of healing, divination, and control over natural events.
So what did we learn today, class? That’s right. Any time somebody’s coming up with a new character skill set that they need a name for, they’re actually go with existing words… because, well, those words already exist.
It’s like in that that 1960’sish sci-fi novel whose name and author I can’t remember right now where the author introduced this strange new creature with a strange new name. The creature looked like a bunny. It acted like a bunny. It even tasted like a bunny. But he refused to call it a rabbit. And that was dumb, he should have just called them rabbits and been done with it. And so people made fun of it sufficiently that I was told the story as a small child.