WoW: The Burning Crusade gets racey

Blizzard spills a few new details on the upcoming expansion paladin/shaman classes

While the weekend brings burgers, sunshine and mild concussion (thank you, the morbidly obese woman who slammed us between the closing doors on the Norhern line with her huge, angry arse), Monday morning proffers brand new details of the paladin/shaman classes (and their new implementation) in Blizzard's upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, The Burning Crusade.

In a nutshell, the expansion will enable Alliance players to create shaman-class characters while gamers with Horde characters can create paladins, using the two new races - Draenei and Blood Elves. As Blizzard puts it, this development "opens up exciting new gameplay opportunities, with fresh group-play dynamics. Those who have faithfully pledged their allegiance with one faction or the other will finally have the opportunity to try out a class that was once unavailable to them". Blizzard also points out that while shamans and paladins will be similar between factions, each side will have some unique abilities.

In case you're wondering how Blizzard are justifying this latest bunch of changes in the World of Warcraft universe, there's a whole mythology to go alongside the new. You can check that out below, or have a gander at a bunch of new screenshots below that.

One legend involves the noble leader of the Draenei, Velen, and his vision. Velen's vision was given substance in the form of Nobundo, a one-time Draenei priest who had devolved while the orcs decimated his race and tore the planet apart. Like his fellow Broken, Nobundo had lost contact with the Light, and so he ventured far into the deserts of Outland to meditate and pray for guidance.

After decades of silence, an unfamiliar voice finally answered his prayers. It was not the Light that whispered to him, but the wind. The breeze spoke to him of lost truths, of the might of the elements--of the delicate balance of power embraced by the shaman. Nobundo listened eagerly and learned all he could. When he judged the time was right, he departed the desert determined to use this knowledge to help the Draenei race.

Meanwhile, the Blood Elves busied themselves by establishing the fearsome Blood Knights. Their founding was made possible through the capture of a naaru from Tempest Keep by Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider. Kael'thas delivered the naaru to Silvermoon, where Magister Astalor Bloodsworn began months of study and experimentation on the naaru. Eventually, Astalor and his fellow wizards learned how to manipulate and corrupt the naaru's luminous energies. In the end the wizards devised a process by which the powers of the Light could be transferred to recipients who had not earned such abilities. Instead of feeding upon the naaru's magic, the blood elves would wield the naaru's Light-given powers themselves.

Lady Liadrin, formerly a priestess, had recently renounced her vows, for she felt the Light had abandoned her people. She learned of the wizards' achievement and volunteered to be the first to bend the stolen powers to her will. With her decision a new order was born: the Blood Knights. These renegade paladins are able to harness the sacred powers of the Alliance's noblest heroes.