The (moral) choices we make

WoW Insider has an interesting discussion about the appeal of the Horde.

To me, the Horde just seemed like the more interesting faction of the two. Not only pretty much everyone wants to kill them, they also struggle with themselves. Take Thrall and Grommash Hellscream, for example. Their stories present very interesting questions. Can you stay honorable when your enemies have no honor and your own people are all too ready to be ruled by their instincts? Can you turn a life of violence into something positive and not lose yourself in the process?

To me, whether someone thinks of themselves as moral is a moot point if they have never been tempted. You can truly be moral only after you've successfully resisted the worst in you. The Alliance are in general raised to believe that they are moral, honorable and just. But in their day-to-day lives, those morals are never put to the test. And when they are, the results can be disastrous. Can one forgive dragons who were unable to save your son? Can one stick to your promise to pay the craftsmen who built a city for you, even if you couldn't really afford it? Can one recognize a common threat instead of clinging to old hatreds? Can you admit that your way might not be the best way to deal with an overwhelming threat, and that your end may not justify all your methods?

Sylvanas Windrunner is also one of the more interesting characters in WoW. Can you cope with a situation where unspeakable evil was done to you? Can you overcome your bitterness, self-hatred and not lash out at everything? Can you still appreciate the beautiful things in life, even if those things never will be yours to enjoy ever again? I like to think that Blizzard is exploring these same things. For example, one of the lowbie Blood Elf quests ends up with the player delivering a memento from the past to Sylvanas. Although she claims she doesn't care about things like that anymore, she still feels for the Highborne.

I've tried to explore the same aspects with my characters as well. My first character was a Forsaken priest who tried to cling to his humanity through all the hatred and evil he witnessed. Shalkis, on the other hand, is trying to balance her desire to do good with her violent nature. She may be megalomaniacal, scheming, bipolar, violent and sadistic. But evil? No. If the common good requires slaughtering a city full of her own kind worshipping a long-lost god, she'll be knee-deep in the dead. If someone needs some children rescued from the Arakkoa, she'll be happy to help. If the common good requires her to set aside her prejudices and smash Scourge together with humans, dwarves, gnomes and night elves, she will. If the best chance for peace includes joining forces with glowing thingamajics, a human mage, snobby elves and buffoonish squidfaces, she will do it with a smile on her face.

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