by Richard “Tharion Greyseer" Powell
The path of the demon hunter calls to a great many people, but the rigors of physical combat between mortal and demon can be too much for all but the most skilled of fighters. To ignore the strengths of those who seek to follow a less physical path would be folly, so it was that the path of the exorcist was created.
Exorcists are dark spell casters who specialize in manipulating the soul energies of demonic beings. Going far beyond expelling demons from a possessed victim, exorcists can even expel a demon's soul from its own body. This takes great concentration and mental strength, but is invaluable when trapping essences to fuel demon hunting rituals.
On the metaphysical planes, the exorcists form a vanguard against the Burning Legion's onslaught, capturing and breaking down fel spirit energy and feeding it back into the demon hunters that often accompany the exorcist. This allows them to shape reality to their will, or even heal a fel-infused being's wounds where holy magic would be inappropriate.
Exorcists rarely choose to bind themselves to a demonic essence, for they require great concentration and cannot afford the risk of possession themselves. However, they do take upon demonic aspects the longer they manipulate the souls of demons. One cannot touch the abyss without the abyss touching back.
An exorcist needs to have the utmost control over her own spirit. While this does limit the opportunities for “split personality" type roleplay, it does lend a heavier weight to the character's behavioral stability. They often see themselves as immune to the risks that other demon hunters face, and many overlook the changes that overcome them the longer they work with demonic energies.
This could provide a strong opportunity to differentiate a young exorcist from an experienced exorcist. The young exorcist would still display a fear and an uncertainty in her path. She would likely have nightmares after having to step so close to a demon's spirit. An experienced exorcist, on the other hand, would be full of self-certainty. She would question the sanity of everyone else around her before questioning her own. She has seen and survived much, and only those who have done similar are worthy of respect.
Exorcists do most of their battle on the spiritual planes of existence. However, this does not mean that all their combat is invisible to others. Often times actions in the physical realm reflect in the spiritual realm, and vice-versa. However, many exorcists have found it necessary to step into a trance or other meditative state in order to be at their most effective. This makes them potentially vulnerable to beings that have a weaker spiritual projection.
Finally, the paladin, shaman, and death knight versions of the exorcist are similar to the cloth wearing versions. The only real difference is that these are characters who have a greater physicality than the others. A paladin is an exorcist who chooses to encase herself in plate armor, and a shaman is an exorcist who has chosen to use totems through which to manipulate the spiritual energies. Death knights are a little more unique in that they would call upon the undead to either consume or pull the demonic spirits away.
(Y - Yes, N - No, O - Optional, U - Unique)
N - Physical Training
Y - Mental Training
U - First Hunt
O - Blinding
N - Second Hunt
N - Binding
Y - Naming
Exorcists choose to focus on mental training over physical, despite the physicality of the character. While a paladin exorcist may be a physical character, her training would still focus upon mental discipline and concentration.
The first hunt ritual for an exorcist is unique, as she is not going out into the wilderness to track and hunt a demon. She would be finding a demon who has possessed another, or a demon who has disguised itself into common society. The battle would happen more prominently on the spiritual plane rather than the physical, though a physical reflection of that battle would be evident as well.
Some exorcists do choose to blind themselves, and some do not. The ability to see flowing demonic energies allows a blinded exorcist to see directly into the spirital plane without having to step into a trance or meditative state. This is an advantage that many cannot overlook.
Visually, an exorcist character is often foreboding. Their clothing will often be reflective of a strict discipline and order, so items with a more rigid design scheme are appropriate here. These characters have a strong presence, and they should be visually imposing, but not necessarily large. Simple and understated can often be more visually striking than something that's heavily overwrought.
For cloth wearers, dark robes and cloaks will fit the exorcist style. For Paladins, there are a few plate kilts that work well enough, such as the old Tier 2 Judgement set. For death knights, the set in which they start is a good working baseline, with adjustments made to suit the personality of the exorcist herself.
The Exorcist was one of the first pseudo-classes designed years ago, when the need first formed. We had a difficulty incorporating non-warlock caster classes into the guild as demon hunters, because the caster classes were not physically oriented classes. Sure, it was easy to simulate a demon hunter with a rogue or warrior, but it became difficult with a priest, for example.
However, a friend of ours suggested the idea of the Exorcist, drawing from real world inspiration. Exorcists may or may not actually bind a demonic essence to themselves, but they would become very skilled at manipulating demonic souls. We soon realized that we could simulate this manipulation of "soul energy" through the other caster classes as well, so we expanded the roster of classes that could take the exorcist's path.