Warning: What you are about to read is pure speculation, a Tin Foil Hat article if you will, about the nature of Light and Magic in World of Warcraft. Please do not take this as 100% true fact until you hear Blizzard themselves confirm or deny it.
Last night my guildies and I had a very interesting and speculative conversation about the Light in World of Warcraft. It all started off with a discussion of Sylvanas (as all good conversations do).
As the lore goes, Sylvanas was first killed by Arthas during the Third War and then resurrected as a banshee. Her first experience with the afterlife was peaceful, comforting, and warm. When Arthas was killed at the end of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Sylvanas jumped off of Icecrown Citadel to her death. However, this second experience with the after life was starkly different. It was dark, painful, and terrifying.
These two versions of the afterlife (Azerothian Heaven and Hell) seem to be connected with the Light since Sylvanas was a High Elf originally (and the High Elves were believers in the Light). So it is safe to say that the second time Sylvanas died, the Light had abandoned her. But this begs the question, why?
Was it because Sylvanas did evil things in her second life? Or was it purely because she had been raised by necromancy and the Light had deserted her right after that regardless of her own morality?
Pulling evidence from other Light users in the game lore, neither option seems to be the answer.
The Scarlet Crusade is many things, but morally right is not one of them. They commit acts of murder, torture, and worse. However, the Light has not abandoned them. In fact, the Light is one of their principle tools for wrong-doing.
Or another instance, the Blood Elves. Their Light practicing started out with them literally sucking the Light out of a Naaru like vampires. They stole and slowly killed Muru but were still able to wield that Light energy.
So is the Light simply a tool? Is there no morality, no good and evil attached to it? Wielded by the Scarlet Crusade, the Light seems more akin to the Force of the Star Wars franchise. But then that means Sylvanas was abandoned to the light because she was resurrected by corrupting necromancy.
This would make more sense when compared to other instances of Light abandonment. Take for example, Nobundo. Nobundo was a paladin fighting against the orcs in the original timeline. However, exposure to Fel magics caused the light to abandon him and he turned to shamanism. So there is yet another example of the Light abandoning because of corrupting forces.
But there is still a wrinkle here that hasn’t been explained. What qualifies as a corrupting force? How much exposure must a Light user have to corruption before the Light leaves them? And why is the Light so different between races?
The Blood Elves bear the fel taint in their very eyes, but they can still use the Light. However, the Broken have been exposed to fel and their connection is cut off. Night elven priests wield the Light of Elune (the Moon) whereas Tauren priests pull from An’she (the Sun). And what about Pandaren priests??
The more you look at it, the more inconsistent the Light seems to become. So many different races use so many different Lights and all of them have slightly different rules.
Is it possible… is it possible that there are different Lights?
That way all Light users are using the Light, but each Light they channel is slightly different. Because of the cultures of the races, they are more attuned to pulling a different ‘flavor’ of Light.
What if all magic was that way? All part of a spectrum of Magic with Light being just one ‘color’?
Imagine that magic in Warcraft is white light reflecting through a prism. So we have warlock, priest, shaman, druid, death knight, and mage magic are all different colors on the spectrum but essentially all part of the same rainbow. The rainbow of magic (oh how corny).
But if that’s the case, then what is the white light? What type of magic can be broken down into all of these varied forms. I would argue that it is Arcane.
When you think about it, every type of magic except arcane is modeled off of a natural phenomenon or element. Fire, Water, Shadow, they are all mimicry of a real thing in the world. But Arcane is the only one that is not. Arcane is not corrupting, nor does it copy an element in the world. Arcane seems to be the pure form of magic.
However, once you add the ‘prism’, Arcane magic can be broken down into many different colors of magic. So, within arcane magic, you can find the magics of every other class in game.
This can also help to explain why different races seem to use slightly different variations of the name magics. That is because they are pulling from different ‘shades’ of one color of magic.
Going back to light magic, Draenei, trolls, and Pandaren are all pulling from the part of the rainbow of magic that contains Light magic, but they pull from different colors of that spectrum. So for example, if Light were yellow, the Trolls might pull more of a green yellow color while Draenei pull more of a orange yellow and Pandaren pull the true yellow.
This can also explain why certain magic users seem to overlap in their magic types. Mages, Shaman, and Druids might pull from ranges of the spectrum that overlap, but they do not pull the exact same colors.
A races’ society and natural adeptness influences what types of magic they can pull from the spectrum of magic. And this spectrum is what creates the varied forms of magic throughout the World of Warcraft.
/end Tin foil hat