Mention "Plainsrunning" and every tauren will get a nostalgic twinkle in their eyes. Most taurens have some sort of relationship to this mystery skill although very few have ever tried it. So what's the deal with Plainsrunning? What's it all about and why isn't it in the game?
Blizzard originally intended for Taurens to be a mountless race. Since Taurens are big boned, Blizzard thought it would be more correct lore wise to have them handle the running around by themselves instead of using any of the puny mounts that were in the game then (we're talking beta here). Although Taurens can use most mounts nowadays, it still looks pretty hilarious to see them on such mounts as the Blood Elf chocobo or the Undead horse. They're so big and the mount is so tiny.
Blizzards solution to this lore problem was initially the invention of Plainsrunning. It meant that when the Tauren was running around it would eventually get up to mount speed by themselves. This took 10 seconds of running to accomplish and would be in the same speed as the regular mounts. There are some rumours going that the now semi-meaningless npc Samantha Swifthoof in STV would've been the one who was going to teach tauren to Plainsrun. She currently does nothing and her name would suit such a role. Over at wowwiki.com however, they claim that a Saern Priderunner in Thunder Bluff was going to teach the taurens to Plainsrun. Perhaps both the rumors and wowwiki are correct as the one might teach the 60% speed and the other the 100% speed. In any case, we will probably never know.
Plainsrunning was never implemented in the final release of the game. After some beta-testing Blizzard found the solution to be a bad one and invented the Kodo mounts instead. So what was the problem with Plainsrunning?
Well, like mentioned it would take ten seconds for the extra speed to kick in. This wasn't really equal to the other mounts that only took 3 seconds to engage (and now they take 1,5 seconds). That means it would take Taurens more than three times the time to get into mount speed than any other class. Imagine that in Bgs.
Secondly, because this wouldn't get overpowered in pvp, the tauren would stop the Plainsrunning as soon as they were hit. This wasn't really equal to regular mounts either, as you don't have a 100% chance to be dazed when hit when mounted (although sometimes it certainly feels like it). That meant "dismounting" a tauren was extremely easy, just throw a rock at him. Imagine that in Bgs (again).
Thirdly, as soon as the tauren stopped running, the buff would be gone and the tauren would have to run another 10 seconds to reapply it. Yet again this wasn't equal to regular mounts, since you can stand still while mounted without having to dismount and remount. I won't even tell you to imagine that in Bgs.
Fourthly, and this is quite funny, sometimes the Plainsrunning would kick in when people least wanted or expected it, like in say a boss fight where there would be a lot of running around. Imagine running around like crazy and suddenly you accelerate 100%. Apparently this caused alot of ninja pulls in the Beta. But seriously, that's really funny.
Another issue, not thought of then, would be how to explain the flying mounts. Surely no one would suggest flying taurens... would they?
So alot of adjustments had to be done to make sure this wouldn't be to good in pvp, and eventually that turned out too hard to do. One issue was probably that a Plainsrunning tauren could still hit stuff, and you can't do that when mounted. All the tweaking made Plainsrunning virtually worthless in any other setting however, or at least at lot less good than having a regular mount. So Blizzard decided to drop the hazzle and simply remove it alltogether. Which is sad, because it didn't have to be that way.
One solution would've been to make Plainsrunning work like a mount, but look like a running Tauren. Make it have a 1,5 second cast where the tauren would go from zero to 60/100% runspeed, just like with any other mount. When hit they would have a chance to be dazed, reducing their speed from 60/100% to regular runspeed. They would have the extra runspeed buff until cancelled, even when standing still. And maybe the runspeed buff would prevent you from being able to swing your weapon. Why couldn't it have cast time? Maybe Blizzard thought of this idea but thought that if it was going to have cast time it might as well be a regular mount. The immersion would be lost anyway. Why would you need to cast something to start to run? Why can't you swing your weapon with the buff on, even if you're standing still? Well I could think of some rp reasons for that, like having to prepare yourself mentally or whatnot. Perhaps tauren are too stupid to run fast and swing weapons at the same time. Even when standing still the thought of running fast so absorbs them that swinging a weapon would be too difficult. Or maybe you have to be in a certain stance to run fast and you couldn't use your weapons in that stance. And it really isn't about immersion anyway. It's about being able to run like Speedy Gonzales with your Tauren!
Every Tauren I know who's heard of Plainsrunning loves the idea and longs for the day it would be implemented. I am sorry to say, don't hold your breath for it. But it truly would be totally rad. (And use the Engineering Rocket Boots or Nitro Boosts to live the possibility for a short moment).