My first foray into “MMOs” goes back to the days of me playing on a SMAUG-based MUD called Realms of Despair. Unlike most people who started playing the game, I wasn’t introduced to RoD until I was in my second year of college thanks to a long-time online friend who had played it for a couple of years before I started. Before that, I played classic FPS games such as Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, as well as Descent (all three titles, though the third installment was severely underwhelming) so I wasn’t completely new to the types of folks you’ll encounter in various facets of online gaming. Doom, Duke Nukem, and Descent were pretty straightforward games… you ran around until you found you opponent and blew them to Hell and back.
The class I started playing on RoD, oddly enough, was a vampire. Queue the “lol emo” comments, but for the MUD that was actually a decent all-around class to start playing the game with, as you didn’t have to worry about being overly squishy (like a mage) or constantly running out of mana (since your ‘energy’ was gained from leeching life out of enemies). It was there I learned concepts of “aggro”, “damage”, and group play–things you’d find in a regular graphical MMO today. It was also the game where I learned the beginnings of situational awareness. You see, since RoD was text-based, there weren’t any telegraphs or graphical warning signs to tell you when things were going to go south while fighting a particular mob. You had to pay attention to the scrolling text for emotes or room descriptions that warned you about a particular ability or danger ahead, or else you could find yourself without weapons, armor, or your life.
It was also the game where my altoholic bug began to manifest itself. By the time I had stopped playing the game nearly six and a half years later, I had leveled or owned over 50 characters, with multiples of each class in some cases. Unlike on WoW and other MMOs, I was able to create characters and trade/give them away. (Password = ownership was the philosophy of that game, and each character had the ability to have their own unique passwords.) One of my favorite classes to level and eventually play at max level was a paladin, which much like its WoW counterpart, could go sword and board for extra survivability, or could go two-handed or dual wield (which makes it more like a warrior or DK in this aspect) for added DPS. Paladins there had some healing capability and other utility (blessings, a “revive” skill) as well.
When I later emigrated over to MMOs, the first class I picked up in a game called Runes of Magic was the Knight, which when you cross-classed it with their Priest, was essentially a protection paladin. It did pathetic damage in raids, dungeons, and open world, but you were damn near unkillable and acted as a bastion of light-empowered fortitude for your groups. The reverse combination, Priest/Knight, was one of the best classes for raid healing, though it did share a similar playstyle to the holy paladin outside of being unable to wear plate gear. Eventually I made my way to WoW and fell in love with the Paladin class there, though sometimes it’s waxed and waned depending on whatever stupidassed decisions the devs have handed down with their gameplay. When I hung out in RIFT I enjoyed the hell out of playing the Justicar (Cleric-based tank that was essentially MoP-style Protadin, generating the majority of its threat with self/overheals), ArcheAge I played a tanky-toon for about 20 levels similar to a paladin, and now with my recent foray into Final Fantasy XIV I’m playing, you guessed it, a Paladin as my primary job.
I still haven’t nailed down what exactly it is about the paladin class that draws me to it, but I can absolutely say without a doubt that I enjoy tanking in general, and not JUST because I can level faster via dungeon grinding. Perhaps that’s the biggest draw of it to me, but I just love being a plate wearing badass with a huge shield and sword/mace in hand, ready to be the frontline for the rest of my friends/groups. How about you?