I was looking at fantasy character archetypes on tvtropes, and it seems a good deal of them are covered in WoW classes, except for a few. To explain, I'll list the current classes, and the archetypes they fulfill.
- Paladin--Paladin (oddly enough)
- Death Knight--Dark Knight/Magic Knight/Necromancer
- Druid--Druid (another strange origin)
- Priest--Cleric/Psion (for shadow)
Of these archetypes, there are many that aren't exactly fulfilled, but are close enough to a class that their addition would likely be an additional spec (Warlord for Warrior, Templar for Priest/Paladin, DW Ranger/Dark Ranger for Hunter, etc.). Therefore, I feel that the only solid roles that a new class could come from would be the Bard, or a mixture of Engineer/Alchemist (likely in a Tinker class). A more fleshed out Psion could also possibly work, but with all the mind-using powers of the shadow priest, I'm not as sure as with the others.
The only armor class without three classes is mail, meaning the next class is likely to be a mail-wearer
Using D&D as an example, Bards are able to wear chainmail armor without a problem
Why the Bard is more likely than the Tinker
The Tinker, if it became a class, would be highly reliant on technological/magitech creations and various elixirs (if the Alchemist archetype was added, as it was in Guild Wars 2). In my opinion, this would be too close to the in-game professions of Engineering and Alchemy. I really don't see a way this class and profession(s) could coexist. Would Tinkers be forced to take Engineering and Alchemy as professions? Why couldn't someone with those professions have access to a large amount of Tinker spells? Blizz could retcon it as a Tinker having far greater knowledge than Engineers/Alchemists, but surely someone with 600+ points in the professions knows more than low level Tinker.
The Bard, however, has little problem with this. Only a few items (mostly trinkets or 2-handed axes) have anything to do with music, and those can be explained away easily, as non-bards can still play music, Bards would just be taught how to fuse magic with music. Easy peasy.
I want Demon Hunters as much as the next guy. Glaives look awesome, blindfolds look awesome, and being Illidan Jr. is pretty awesome. However, I think Blizzard is making it pretty clear that characters wanting to be Demon Hunters should play Warlocks instead, and the likelihood of the DH as a class is getting pretty slim. Here's why,
- Glyph of Demon Hunting exists, turning Warlocks into psudo-tanks by giving them some demonic features. Warriors don't get Glyph of Paladin-ing, giving them iconic paladin characteristics. It seems like this Glyph was supposed to be the fan service for Demon Hunter enthusiasts
- Demon Hunter spells from Warcraft 3 were given to other classes. Mana Burn was given to Priests, Evasion was given to Rogues, and Immolation and Metamorphosis were given to Warlocks. Monks and Death Knights, on the other hand, kept their WC3 powers.
- It would've been a good time for them in WoD. We're headed back to Draenor, which was Illidan's romping grounds (in the original reality). Demon Hunters could have been placed in as a class very easily here, but they weren't.
How would Blizzard fit Bards into the lore?
Extremely easily. Bards basically sing/tell tales of heroic deeds, and there have been a LOT of heroic deeds in WoW, especially in the last few years. Bard could easily pop up to sing about heroes stopping KJ/killing Arthas/fixing the Cataclysm/defeating Gary/whatever we do in Draenor. In fact, I'm surprised there aren't a ton of bards in-game already singing our praises.
But, Bard is a support role, and that's not part of the Holy Trinity
"World of Warcraft Lead System Designer Greg Street, aka ghostcrawler, along with the game's Technical Director Marco Koegler, told at ChinaJoy 2013 today that they are considering adding a supportive class that focuses on providing buff for the group. He didn't tell any other details about the new class. Another thing that can raise WoW fans' attention was that Greg Street teased this year's BlizzCon is a very good place and perfect time to announce the next expansion." --2p(dot)com/1081218_1/Blizzard-Considering-A-New-Supportive-Class-For-WoW(dot)htm
Even though Ghostcrawler is not on the team anymore, Blizzard could very well still be considering a "buff class." and Bard would be perfect for this. Instead of pumping out pure numbers, the Bard could inspire his allies to improve on their respective rolls, as well as cause the enemies to do less damage and take more. And that could be just one of the bard's spec. He could have another spec as a dedicated healer, mixing helpful buffs with direct healing, and a third spec as a full DPS, either using his jack-of-all-trades style to jump between melee and ranged, whichever suits him best, or attack from afar, mixing magic and music to damage mobs.
In that case, wouldn't you have to play the damage spec if you wanted to quest efficiently at all?
This is more my own speculation rather than reasons for Bard to be a class, but I believe a support/buff style spec would be fully capable of leveling alone. I feel this is accomplishable by writing the spells as such: "Increase X by Y% (split among a maximum of Z party members)." This way, bards are functional solo, in scenarios, in dungeons, and in raids. Say the spell increases damage by 10% split among 5 party members. In a group, everyone would receive a 2% boost, but solo the bard would receive all 10%, allowing him to deal reasonable damage by himself.
What about weapons? Don't Bards use musical instruments instead?
As I see it, there are a few ways to accomplish this, all relatively simple to do.
Method 1, The Monk solution: Similar to Monks, give the Bards whichever weapons needed, but rarely use them. Instead, design a lute (could be the same across the board, could vary based on faction/race/etc) and special strumming/singing animations for most attacks, much like how monks have special unarmed animations. The lute, in this case, would not be counted as an item.
Method 2, Instrumental Bungaloo: Add in instruments as a weapon category, with only Bards having proficiency. In this case, weapons could be either be off-hand weapons, hidden unless using them, or two-handed weapons, again with special animations. This would be more difficult than the first option, but not extremely. All that would need to be done would be sprinkling some instruments in various quests/dungeons, using a few different models for different expansions.
Method 3, the Method that nobody wants: No instrument/strumming animations at all, the bard simply sings. Easiest option, but also the most boring and disappointing. This would be like warriors without weapons, monks without kung fu, or death knights without noobs immediately rerolling to them upon level 55. It's simply iconic.
Nobody would take the Bard seriously, it would be the butt of so many jokes!
Gnomes are playable.