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First off, would it be possible to take the core of a powerful elemental and 'steal' magic from it to fuel spells? Like if you had the core of a Fire Elemental could you use it to cast fire spells?
Second, how do totems actually work? I can't really find anything on exactly how they work or their real purpose in Shaman lore.
Third, is this basically correct - Elemental mainly uses Fire/Wind, Enhancement mainly uses Wind/Earth, Resto mainly uses Water/Earth?
Fourth, is there somewhere I can read about the nuances of the different elements? Like I read somewhere Fire can be used to look into the future somehow. Do the other elements have hidden powers like that as well if that's even true?
Lastly, can all Shaman speak to the ancestors of all races or just their respective race?
So many mysteries with Shamans !
Shaman lore is not too crazy specific. A lot of the times, if you are rping or writing a WoW fic, you have to fill in your own gaps. Learning as much if the shaman lore available can help you make educated guesses.
So first question, unless you are a taunka shaman and have inherited the secrets to force the elements to your will, that is not really shamanism. Shamanism as practiced by the other races, minus goblins, is about reverence and harmony and wisdom and the chaotic yet simultaneously balanced nature of the elements. Misuse the powers of nature too much and the spirits will stop answering.
Second, to have one's totems taken away is a very crippling event to a shaman. But I do not know more than that. I can guess that totems are used to help channel the elements or encourage responsiveness. Perhaps also a form of tribute to the powers that you obtain your magic from.
Third, this is mainly a game mechanics thing although you are free to disagree as there is no evidence for or against it. For a shaman to outright ignore certain elements would be counter-intuitive to the nature of shamanism. Perhaps it may be better put that certain elements are more likely to respond to certain actions.
Lastly, yes one can see visions through fire. Sadly, I do not know of other examples off the top of my head. All races that revere the spirits can speak to their ancestors except orcs, due to their drinking of demonic blood and almost wiping out the draenei.
Well you don't need to take anything from an Elemental for anything other than more powerful spells and rituals.
A Shaman gains his powers directly from the elements themselves, and it's implied that any Shaman can "bully" the elements Taunka style into doing whatever they want. But this isn't an honorable way of doing things and is limited to Taunka (Who had no choice in the matter, and had to do it to survive in Northrend) and bad guy Shaman.
Every Shaman has a single totem for each element, and they are a Shaman's conduit to the elemental spirits. They can be different depending on a culture - Troll totems, for example, would be better called Wards. Goblin totems are said to be kept on a key ring with his bike keys.
Not really. Every Shaman can use every element. And Lightning attacks can be Earth as well as Wind (Volcanic Lightning).
Resto uses Water as it's primary element, and would be the only spec that 'focuses' on a single one. They also gain healing from worshiping the ancestors.
Other than that, Elemental and Enhancement pretty much use all of the elements.
It's thought that they can speak to the ancestors of any race, but said ancestor may not be as willing to approach them.
This short story might be worth your time. Its the story of how the Dreanei learned Shamanism to begin with.
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