Thursday, March 15, 2018

Druid Form Images Essentially Confirm Kul Tiran Human Druids, also Kul Tiran Humans

If you thought dinosaurs were exciting (and yes, they are,) check this out:

(Care of MMO-Champion.)

This simple image tells us a couple things: Given the overall shape and familiar moon-like sigil on the shoulder, this would be a Druidic bear form. The gnarled wooden appearance heavily evokes the Kul Tiras zone of Drustvar.

We can thus, with a fair degree of confidence, that this means A: Kul Tirans have a druidic tradition, which does make sense given their connection to Gilneas. While Gilnean Harvest Witches were only scratching the surface of the practice until the whole Worgen curse came along and the Night Elves started training them, it's not impossible to imagine that the humans of Kul Tiras also developed these techniques (with Zandalari and potentially standard Trolls, we're seeing Druidic traditions not immediately descendant from Malfurion's teachings.)

Of course, if Kul Tiran Human Druids are going to be a thing, that means that this more or less confirms Kul Tirans as a playable race, and likely the Alliance's fourth allied race. Especially given the existence of Mag'har Orcs, it makes sense that the Alliance would get a variant on their flagship race as well, not to mention that they also mirror the Zandalari Trolls as the dominant race on their respective continents.

Personally, I've always wanted to see a darker side of Druidism in WoW, and while Worgen certainly come a little closer to that, this goes a big step farther by making these druid forms reminiscent less of animals but of the creepy wicker-man creatures found in Drustvar.

These days when you hear pagan or druid, unless you're in a very religiously conservative community, you probably think more of hippies and new age types, but there is of course a long tradition of seeing such things as terrifying - the province of witchcraft (again, if you meet someone who calls themselves a witch these days, you might roll your eyes but you're probably not afraid that they'll actually curse you.)

But that old-fashioned view of paganism has been a great source for horror fiction, and it's something I'm pretty excited to see in Drustvar. With their creepy looks (and we haven't seen the other forms yet,) it'd be cool to find that Druids in Kul Tiras are a sort of shunned and feared part of society, much like Warlocks are for most races or Mages are for Night Elves.

And yet, the bigger takeaway in all of this is that this pretty much confirms Kul Tiran Humans as a playable race. Again, it makes a ton of sense from a lore perspective, but I wonder, then what their class options might be:

Warrior: It's harder, I think, to justify a race not having Warriors than the other way. The only time we ever had a race that couldn't was Blood Elves during BC and Wrath, but they got them during Cataclysm, so here we are. And the burly Kul Tirans are very unlikely not to have any sort of classic martial tradition.

Paladin: This is up for debate. Gilneas apparently doesn't have a Paladin tradition (that seems to have been more of a Stormwind/Lordaeron thing among humans.) Still, Kul Tiras was less isolationist than Gilneas, so it's not that hard to imagine they'd embraced it.

Death Knight: I'd argue this ought to work - Kul Tiras didn't have a huge presence in Lordaeron from the Third War through Wrath, but if we can accept that some Argual-associated Worgen could be turned, I don't think it's a stretch for some Kul Tiran members of the Alliance to be turned as well (Jaina was certainly fighting the Scourge, though to be fair she was there more in her capacity as a Dalaran Mage than Kul Tiran royalty.)

Hunter: Much like Warrior, this one's harder to justify excluding than including. And especially given that Kul Tirans are supposed to be big monster hunters, this is an obvious fit.

Shaman: The only human-like people with a real Shamanistic tradition are the Vrykul, and as burly as Kul Tirans are, they're not Vrykul. I wouldn't say no if it was offered, but I doubt this one.

Rogue: Slightly less than Warriors and Hunters, but again it's pretty hard to imagine a race that can't have stealthy assassins, and certainly with all the pirates sailing out of Kul Tiras, they've got to at least have Outlaw Rogues.

Demon Hunter: I can really only imagine them ever adding Naga, Broken Draenei, or possibly Fel Orcs as Demon Hunter races beyond the ones that already exist. Which is a shame, because I could have totally rocked a Worgen Demon Hunter.

Druid: This is kind of confirmed and of course the impetus of the post. I'm really hoping for a creepier take on Druids in a game that has historically treated them as one of the most unambiguously good-guy classes.

Monk: If they're allowing Nightborne Monks, then this isn't really about cultural traditions as much as their willingness to deal with Pandaren, so I wouldn't rule it out.

Mage: Jaina's a pretty huge precedent here, and there is some mention of a local tradition of mages on Kul Tiras that Jaina was initially sent to Dalaran in order to represent.

Warlock: Where there are Mages, it's not hard to imagine Warlocks coming as well. Kul Tiras doesn't seem to have a particularly strong holy/righteous vibe to it, so I see no reason to rule them out.

Priest: Priest is another broadly applicable class, and given the very Lovecraftian sea-priests we seem to be getting in Stormsong Valley (I'd love to see a place called Innswitch or Dunsmouth) there's clearly also some Shadow Priest stuff going on there.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Allied Races versus New Races

One thing that's gotten a lot of coverage in the Battle for Azeroth alpha is the fact that the Vulpera, a race of fox-people who seem to primarily live in the desert of Voldun on Zandalar, apparently have about as much customization options as a playable race, with different fur colors, facial features, and such. It's gotten people to speculate that they could become an Allied race, though Blizzard for now insists that it's just part of a new method for dealing with NPC races like Naga or Vrykul to allow for broad variation.

One thing I think distinguishes them as well is that they'd technically not be an Allied race.

Much like Hero Class, Allied Race is kind of a funny thing, suggesting something broad but meaning something specific (Hero Class, for example, is ironic given that its two examples are Death Knights and Demon Hunters, making it closer to Villain Class.) Allied Races have come in a larger group than typical playable races because they're ultimately not as novel: none of the Allied Races are entirely new. When the Draenei were introduced in Burning Crusade, there was nothing even remotely like them already available. But the Lightforged don't require all that much more establishment of background or visual design than their BC precedents.

I think we can safely define Allied Race as a variation on an existing race. Clearly, they can do radical things like have them swap factions (Void Elves being the Alliance Blood Elf variant and Nightborne being the Horde Night Elf variant,) but fundamentally they're not going all the way back to the basics and building, for example, a new 3D skeleton.

The question, then, is what we might expect of entirely new races.

For example, especially after Warlords of Draenor, I've often thought that adding Arrakoa as a playable race would be really cool. I've had similar thoughts about the Vrykul, Naga, Ogres, and Broken Draenei. Only the latter of these would really make sense as an Allied Race (in BC, their models were actually based off the Tauren, though the Argus variants, which have an entirely different origin story, seem more similar to standard Draenei in posture and body structure.)

Allied Races come with some interesting new features: they start at level 20, meaning they're never in that slow, mount-less period (though the heirloom motorcycle has given anyone with a high-level alt a relatively easy way to get their new characters around.) They also have the heritage armor, which encourages you to level up at least one of each race the old fashioned way.

I suspect that the only "new character incentives" we'll get in BFA will be Allied Races - it looks as if we're getting four per faction - but in future expansions, if we see entirely new races, is it possible we'd see similar features?

The starting at level 20 feature is probably going to be just Allied Races - it's mostly there to paper over the fact that they don't really have their own starting zones, which tend to tell stories that are specific to the given race (though I'd argue that everything from Tirisfal through Hillsbrad, or even through Eastern Plaguelands is pretty Forsaken-heavy story.) An entirely new race would presumably at least get a Cataclysm/Mists-style starting zone taking them to level 12-15.

I could see Heritage Armor being a thing for standard new races as well, though I wonder what the statistics will be after a few months regarding how many people leveled all the way for this cosmetic reward.

Allied Races seem like a relatively quick and easy way to pump out new playable races, and also allows for variations that would not really be big enough to justify entirely new races. I think we're unlikely to see new races in the expansion that follows BFA, though it's also possible that Allied Races will make such an addition something that does not require a whole expansion to justify.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Suramar and the Max-Level Zone

One of the biggest successes in Legion, an expansion I think I'm just going to come out and say has been WoW's best (not that it's flawless, of course, but what is?) is the level-scaling feature. It turned out so obviously well that they went back and applied the feature to the entire leveling experience, and while there are some kinks they'll need to keep working out of that system, having now leveled up one Allied Race character and another one coming soon (he's 103 now I think) I can say that it makes the experience of questing and leveling a lot more enjoyable.

One of the big benefits of the system is that at level 110, all of the Broken Isles are effectively max-level zones. The developers were not forced to sequester little sub-zones that leveling characters would be forced to avoid and max-level characters would swiftly get bored of (like Warlords' daily quest areas,) instead everything is available.

But Suramar, the Broken Isles' southern central zone, was different. Unlike the others, it did not scale to level: you merely went there only after hitting 110.

That's not unprecedented, of course. Max-level zones have existed since the Isle of Quel'danas. But typically they're added later in the expansion. The only real precedent for Suramar was in Mists of Pandaria: the Vale of Eternal Blossoms (Tanaan Jungle could have counted if we had had access to it beyond the short intro quests in 6.0. It was technically there, but you couldn't go in.)

Here's the big difference, and indeed the difference between all other max-level zones and Suramar. In the past, max-level zones have all been about repeatable content. The Broken Shore, released in 7.2, is a great example (though again, it's a bit odd in that you could technically go there prior to the patch, both in the expansion-starting scenario and even just once you were in the isles, though there was not really any content beyond a ton of boss-level enemies in that latter form.) While there were story quests in a lot of max-level zones, such as the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, Suramar made those quests the primary focus.

Essentially, the richness you get from the story in a leveling zone is something you typically don't get in a max-level zone. I'm going to harp on the Broken Shore again by pointing out that its "story" quests were really only there to introduce concepts for the zone - there was almost nothing that actually furthered the plot of delving into the Tomb of Sargeras beyond, you know, actually doing it.

Suramar, on the other hand, had a complex narrative - one that was doubled in 7.1. You literally built a rebellion starting with just one other person, eventually taking back the city. And while Suramar City was clearly the main focus of the zone, there was also a ton of stuff outside the city that felt just as full and fleshed out as any quest chain in a leveling zone.

RPGs are, at their basic level, story-based games, and WoW often gets caught up in the MMO side of things to the extent that story takes a back seat. But as someone who's always excited to find more story, it was a joy to have an interesting plot to quest through even after I'd started putting together by badass raid gear.

What I wonder about is if Suramar will provide the model going forward. The Broken Shore was far more like earlier models, and while Argus had more of a plot, it was still more of a prerequisite to unlock your world quests (I was disappointed that Antoran Wastes, the most "final part" part of Argus had almost no proper quests.)

In Battle for Azeroth, we'll effectively be getting three max-level zones at the start in the form of the other faction's continent. I'm very excited about the fact that leveling a Horde character will be an entirely different experience from leveling an Alliance one. But I also wonder how much plot we'll get invading the other side's territory. I could imagine that we'll just get a short series of quests to establish a foothold and then we'll have a bunch of world quests, but I hope that we'll get a chance to really explore the plot and characters of the setting from this different perspective.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Kul Tirans and Druidism

With the (technically not officially confirmed, but definitely confirmed through datamining) addition of Mag'har Orcs as the Horde's fourth allied race, there's a fair amount of speculation around the notion that the Alliance could get Kul Tiran humans.

First off, this would balance the ratio of Orcs and Humans (though you could argue that Worgen and Undead are also kind of human as well,) which is kind of a theme in Warcraft. It would also make the Horde's courting of the Zandalari by going to Zandalar kind of balanced with the Alliance truly integrating (re-integrating, really) Kul Tiras. The only reason why you might not think of this is if you were to assume that the general playable race of "Human" covers all of humanity. But the Allied Races of course are all about respecting the different history and aesthetics of different branches of races, and someone from Kul Tiras is going to have a very different history than someone from Stormwind (one thing that doesn't come up often is how most humans from Stormwind probably spent a long time in exile after the First War.)

On top of that, Blizzard has gone out of its way to give Kul Tirans a slightly different physiology - it doesn't look universal - some NPCs look like your standard humans - but there are plenty of extra-burly characters (also some extra-scrawny) that have been showcased in Kul Tiras.

So I think the probability of Kul Tirans being the fourth Alliance allied race is pretty high.

On top of that, however, is a rumor that they might get Druids.

Druids are one of those classes in WoW that are much more limited. Unlike Warriors or Mages, Druidism has historically been considered part of a specific tradition, only practiced in a few cultures. In Vanilla, only one race per faction could be Druids. I suspect this was in part because they didn't want to have to make a ton of animal forms for every race, but as their ambitions and certainly resources have grown, they have brought forth a lot of new Druids.

And while the Highmountain druids mostly just used the Tauren druid forms, adding moose antlers and changing the travel forms, we can see that with the Zandalari they're going in a radically different direction, even making the "Bear," "Cat," and "Moonkin" forms into entirely different animals (everyone's a dinosaur!)

So how might Kul Tirans be connected to Druidism?

Well, Kul Tiras was founded originally by Gilneans who sailed south to the island from their old country (fitting, as Gilneas is probably the second-most naval-oriented human nation.) Gilneas, perhaps owing to the druidic forest in the south that corresponded to the one in the Emerald Dream where the original Night Elf Worgen were imprisoned, had a tradition of Harvest Witches, who would bless the crops and draw forth a healthy harvest. Their magic didn't really go much beyond that, but these Harvest Witches who fell to the Worgen curse found that their connection with nature combined with the training of the Night Elves allowed them to become full-fledged Druids.

Is it possible that they might have developed Druidism on their own?

There's a question to be asked about the racial restriction on Druidism: is it purely cultural, or is it physiological?

Because there's actually one big distinction that all the Druid races, except the Worgen, share: They're not Titanforged.

Trolls were the original humanoid race on Azeroth (probably - it could have been Furbolgs or one of the nonplayable races.) As far as we know, the Trolls were not created - they simply evolved as organic life, perhaps from elementals like the Proto-drakes or simply from some earlier creatures. Night Elves came to be after a group of Trolls settled around the Well of Eternity. Similarly, the Tauren were Yaungol - another presumably naturally-evolved race - who were likewise transformed by the Well (though less dramatically, I'd say.) The Highmountain are of course just a group of Tauren whose ancestor, Huln, was blessed by Cenarius.

And Worgen are afflicted with a curse that effectively forces them into a druidic shapeshift form - a curse that wasn't ever intended as a curse, just a druidic practice that got out of control.

So the question is: barring some kind of forced Druidic connection like the Worgen, are artificial creations like humans incapable of connecting with nature enough to be Druids?

This question might have been simpler to answer before we know that Azeroth was a nascent Titan. At this point, it's clear that every playable race has a Titanic connection - there are the Titanforged descendants like Humans and Dwarves, the kinda-sorta Titanforged Orcs, and all the others evolved on planets with a Titan Soul in the center. So perhaps the distinction between Titanforged and naturally-evolved races is not so profound. We know of two examples of races with radically different histories producing offspring - Orc and Draenei have produced at least two hybrids: Garona and Lantressor. Likewise, there's a long history of half-elves with ancestry from both human lands and Quel'thalas (Alodi and Arator being examples.) If these people are so widely distinct (being from different planets even) and yet are still able to reproduce, one has to imagine that the physiological differences are really only surface-level, and thus probably not enough to bar the use of any particular magic.

So it's probably more cultural, and that to me says that there's nothing preventing a culture from developing a tradition on its own.

Troll Druids, and especially Zandalari Troll Druids, seem to have developed their Druidic tradition independent of the Cenarion Circle, based more around their connection to the Loa. Is it possible then that the humans of Kul Tiras discovered their own form of Druidic magic, perhaps extrapolating from the nature magic of their Harvest Witches - a tradition they likely carried with them from Gilneas?

Time will tell.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Unpacking the Vast Complexities of the D&D Multiverse

While I suppose at this point I've been DMing for nearly two years, I still think of myself, as someone who got into the game in his 30s, as a neophyte to Dungeons and Dragons.

I'm also a fantasy writer, and so naturally, when I got into D&D, I took the opportunity to create a new world for my players to inhabit.

But one of the oddities of D&D is that, while they encourage the creation of new worlds (such as Matthew Mercer's Exandria setting for the Critical Role games,) the Multiverse seems to be fairly consistent. The Dungeon Master's Guide outlines the inner planes - such as the Feywild and Shadowfell, which are sort of "just outside reality," and then the Elemental Planes - followed by the Outer Planes, which seem much more directly tied to the alignment system.

Whereas some established, commercial IPs are complex but not so complex that I couldn't match their complexities (I'd argue my Sarkon setting is roughly as complex as the Warcraft setting, though that's one that keeps getting fleshed out with each WoW expansion, meaning I'll have to keep working to keep pace with it,) the D&D Multiverse is utterly immense.

Essentially, it seems that each setting, with exceptions for plane-hopping "settings" like Planescape or Spelljammer, is really just one of the worlds within the Prime Material Plane. What this means is that there's actually a lot of crossover between them.

Typically, humans have different gods to worship in each of the material plane worlds, but the other races tend to have the same ones. And entities from the other planes, like the Raven Queen of the Shadowfell or Asmodeus with his infernal hierarchy from the Nine Hells, play roles in each of these worlds.

This presents a bit of a conundrum for me and my setting. I'm torn between wanting to connect it with the greater D&D multiverse (which, for example, might make it more welcoming for veteran players) and creating my own thing. (I'm reminded of an Arrested Development line where GOB, the only slightly successful stage magician, buys a katana that apparently has a complex mythology and he interrupts the guy telling him saying "Yeah, I make up my own patter. Just ring it up with the dong tea.")

The thing is, I think that tons of writers have been adding to D&D lore since before I was born, so there's a ton of stuff that's rather firmly established on which I only have a partial grasp.

Currently, my thinking is that the multiverse of my own setting is actually outside of the main multiverse, in a kind of pocket of reality across the Far Plane. It's a setting with a very important and strong cosmic horror element, but I figure it's connected enough that faint whispers of existing D&D stuff could get in.

But one of the odd consequences of making my own stuff up is that sometimes I think I've come up with a clever take on an existing element only to discover that someone else has already had that idea.

Take, for example, my version of the Drow (Dark Elves.)

In my setting, no humanoid race is inherently evil - Half-Orcs, for example, are actually just Orcs but given that name because Orcs are so associated with barbarism and thus the other races feel that referring to them by the actual name of their race would be an insult.

Anyway, the Drow are an ostracized minority within the general culture, most forced to live in isolated villages in the more dreary and dangerous parts of the Empire. However, a large faction of them were evangelized by strange bird-like emissaries of an entity called the Dire King, who rules the Shadowlands - Sarkon's equivalent of the Shadowfell. This faction, who call themselves the Dire Elves, are far more vicious and cruel, like the Lolth-worshipping Drow of the main setting.

However, clever as I thought I was being, I then learned about the Shadar-Kai - a group of, yes, Drow, who, rather than worshipping Lolth, have become worshippers of the Raven Queen, who, you know, rules the Shadowfell.

Not only that, but my bird-like creatures, inspired mainly by the Taheen from Stephen King's Dark Tower series (which, if I had to name one top influence on me, that's the one) as well as the "Winged Servants" of the "Distant Prince" from the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, actually bear a resemblance to the "Nagpa," a somewhat obscure, but apparently about to appear in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, bird-headed group of Shadowfell creatures (themselves partially inspired by the Skekses from The Dark Crystal.)

There's a granularity to D&D's established stuff that is really intimidating.

Take, for example, the fact that there are both Demons and Devils. In my setting, I've taken inspiration from Warcraft (or at least my interpretation of Warcraft lore) and have three major, mostly independent major evils - the Lovecraftian Great Others, the ominous and corrupting Primal Shadow, and the undead legions of Gorendan, the God of Death (the latter being complicated by the fact that Gorendan himself might not be strictly evil anymore, even if his legions still are.)

So the Great Others have a pretty good spread of Aberration--type monsters to associate with (I've even got a history for Ilithids/Mind Flayers that suggests they were once benevolent before the influence of the Great Others corrupted them.) Gorendan and his lieutenant Absolon are a great source for all kinds of Undead monsters, but also work pretty well to introduce Devils - Absolon is essentially an Undead Angel, and in my setting, there are tons of fiendish creatures who serve a similar role that the Angels do to the benevolent gods, only they serve Gorendan.

The Primal Shadow is somewhat more vague, but the Dire King serves as a kind of tangible manifestation of its power. All the nasty Shadowfell stuff could come through this branch, but again, it's complicated. In the standard D&D stuff, the Shadowfell is actually home to much of the undead/necromantic magic. My Shadowlands are really more equivalent to the Dark World from A Link to the Past.

The thing is, I think that if you look at D&D's official, established canon, there's way more than just that. I mentioned Devils and Demons, but those are only the denizens of the Nine Hells of Baator (the Lawful Evil plane) and the Abyss (the Chaotic Evil plane.) But that's only two of seven evil-aligned planes, not to mention the Shadowfell or any of the other places where there's nasty evil stuff, like the City of Brass in the Fire Plane or the bad parts of the Feywild.

My problem here is that there's a certain hubris I possess that says "ok, you've (and by you I mean countless different writers all working at different times) had 40 years to establish this enormously complex canon. I must match it!" I'm not generally a competitive person - I don't even enjoy player-versus-player video games much. But I guess I found a worthy opponent and a challenge I find compelling.

May Dor, Sarass, Byzerak, Yad and all His saints have mercy on this foolish soul.

Friday, March 2, 2018

1/4: Heritage Armor of the Lightforged Achieved!

Man, the Broken Isles quests fly by.

The only hiccup in leveling through the Broken Isles is that, due to the fact that you can start at level 98 (and basically give a big middle finger to Alt-Nagrand,) if you really only focus on the main quests - getting the loremaster achievements in each zone but not sticking around for side-quests like the Nesingwary quests in Highmountain - you'll need a bit extra to get you to 110. However, Legion invasions provide a pretty big bump to XP - you get temporary authorization for world quests when there's an invasion in the zone.

Anyway, leveling up an additional Paladin was perhaps less novel than other classes might be. As a Protection main, I have plenty of opportunities to go Ret while doing world quests and the like, so the rhythm of Retribution, especially before getting Legendaries and the like, was not unfamiliar.

I suspect that my next Allied Race character expected to hit the cap (he's currently 79, nearly done with his time in Northrend,) the Void Elf Rogue, might be fairly different, as I've really stuck mostly to Subtlety for my main Rogue, and with this guy I'm thinking I'll focus on Assassination (Outlaw's tempting, but I already have a Worgen Rogue who's full pirate.)

The Allied Races actually feel a lot like seasonal characters for Diablo III - you're not necessarily going to make them your new main (though I imagine many will,) but it's a fun little challenge that reminds you what it's like to be low-level.

It's an excellent showcase for the new level scaling, and I think they've struck a decent balance of how quickly you get your abilities. Most specs feel pretty complete in the 40s or 50s (Rogues could probably get their AoE tools a bit earlier,) and while the rate of getting new abilities drops off in the higher levels (I think you get a full spellbook at 80 on every class, leaving only talents and eventually artifact abilities at higher levels to look forward to.)

In terms of the specific Lightforged Armor - I mostly like it, though I hate that the helmet (more of a collar really) cuts off the magnificent beard my character has (given that that beard is like 40% why I created that character, I've got his helmet turned off.) I also feel like it's a little too red in places - I get that the Lightforged Draenei don't have the blue/purple aesthetic of standard Draenei, but I'd rather have Gold, White, and Grey as their colors.

I do hope we get some NPCs to flesh out the relationships between the established races and the allied ones a bit more. I'd love them to emphasize the difference between the Lightforged Draenei and original flavor ones - my sense is that Lightforged are very martial and stubborn, more Lawful than Good, while the standard Draenei have a more nuanced view of the Light (much as Velen has demonstrated) and an overall warmer (and somehow also chiller) vibe, being a long-established rag-tag group of refugees instead of a cohesive military unit.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Zandalari Druids Getting Reptilian Beast/Moonkin Forms

Trolls have been able to play as Druids ever since Cataclysm, and one of the unique features that they got was that their flight form was a bat, rather than a bird - we knew from quests way back in Zangarmarsh that the Darkspear consider bird spirits to be unworthy (not sure how 110 Troll Druids feel about the Lunarwing flight form,) and Trolls have a long-existing relationship with Hireek, the Bat Loa.

Well, the Zandalari are going a couple steps further. All Trolls have some relationship with dinosaurs (see the standard Troll racial mount) but Zandalari appear to have all dinosaur druid forms. Flight form will be a kind of Pterrodax. Moonkin from looks to be a saurian version of the healthy Arrakoa model we saw in Warlords. Bear form will be a big, spiky dinosaur that looks vaguely turtle-like (I believe it has the same skeleton as the standard bear.)

I wonder if, for flavor, we might see some of these forms renamed. Obviously things like Rake or Swipe work fine for a reptile, but calling in "Bear form" or having abilities like "Bristling Fur" might not quite fit.

(Image links seem to be broken, so you can see the forms at WoWhead.)