Saturday

Mists of Pandaria Lore Speculation






Today, we'll be taking about World of Warcraft's purported next expansion, the Mists of Pandaria. We've gone from the bladed fortresses of the Burning Legion, to the frozen domain of the Scourge, to the shattered and war-torn Azeroth of post-Cataclysm. Now, it seems like we may be visiting the distant and forgotten land of Pandaria, and perhaps some other locales in the vast, unexplored oceans of Azeroth.

Keep in mind that this is speculation and not fact. We will be using current sources in WoW to attempt to project the future. We won't be dealing with class mechanics or balance issues here, as the only concern we have with the Mists of Pandaria is what we'll be dealing with in terms of the storyline.

Keep in mind that we will be using some of the Warcraft RPG books as a source of extrapolation, but Blizzard did explicitly mention that most of the lore from these sources is now considered irrelevant and inconsistent with the World of Warcraft MMO. Still, they are very careful to mention that the WoW RPG lore could be taken as canon if certain parts of that lore are adapted in game. A perfect example is the Forsaken Lightslayer prestige class, which has appeared to some degree in the World of Warcraft.

Here is Blizzard's official statement regarding the World of Warcraft RPG sources, quoted from the CDEV II:


Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment Creative Development Round II Q&A
The RPG books were created to provide an engaging table-top role-playing experience, which sometimes required diverging from the established video game canon. Blizzard helped generate a great deal of the content within the RPG books, so there will be times when ideas from the RPG will make their way into the game and official lore, but you are much better off considering the RPG books non-canonical unless otherwise stated.At this point, it is almost completely confirmed that Mists of Pandaria is going to be the next expansion, and also that we'll be seeing the Pandaren in a great number. Blizzard made the point to elaborate on the Pandaren's origins in the latest issue of the Warcraft Official Magazine, stating that the Pandaren's society predates the Night Elves and the Highborne's empire from the seat of Suramar and Zin-Azshari.

So what brings us to Pandaria after the world has been ravaged by Deathwing? Up until now, the Pandaren Empire has given the other mortal races very little interference. The last we've seen or heard from the Pandaren was Shen Stormstout's companionship with Rexxar during the Founding of Durotar. The Pandaren were also once a close ally of the Night Elves, but this alliance ended the moment the Highborne showed the first signs of madness from their demonic rituals and endless search for more magical sources to feed their addiction.

From what we understand, Pandaren society has progressed from a singular empire to a system of clans, or Shao'dins. Each Shao'din is led by an individual Shodo-pan, who is a legendary warrior of his people. In ancient times, the Pandaren Empire was ruled over by a single Shodo-pan who acted as the absolute ruler of the great nation. The vast bamboo forests of Pandaria are host to this intriguing race of scholars, swordsmen, and elementalists.

Interestingly enough, the Pandaren are known to immediately think of any traveler as a potential friend. It does not matter if that traveler follows the darkened path of a Death Knight or even a Warlock. So long as the traveler has done nothing to hurt the Pandaren, he will judged for his actions and for his kindness alone. The Pandaren are thus a contrast to the judgemental and suspicious Night Elves, who have been quick to condemn and punish those who follow a path that their people do not approve of. At the same time, the Night Elves have shown a surprising level of mercy for the Shen'dralar. Like the Worgen, the Shen'dralar may be seen as a direct result of the poor decisions of the past, and this may be the driving force behind the Kaldorei welcoming these indidivuals back into their society. However, as we have heard from Knaak and others, the new WoW novel "Wolfheart" deals with the conflict of reconciling the Shen'dralar Highborne and the Night Elves, leading to a murder of one of the Highborne magi.

The Pandaren race itself is host to poets and artists in great number, and Pandaren society is revered for it's creativity and wisdom. Still, the Pandaren live on Azeroth, which itself is a hostile world torn asunder by bloodshed. Over the last few millenia, Pandaren society has evolved to include a large warrior caste.

Pandaria's earth is known for containing rare gemstones with magical properties. These gems are highly sought after by traders and magicians, but very few have ever left the solitary nation. The Red Dragonflight once believed that gemstones from Pandaria were one of the cures for the corruption of the Sunwell, but M'uru's sacrifice has made any such alchemical pursuits unnecessary.

So what exactly are the "Mists" of Pandaria? Is Blizzard merely attributing this name to a thick fog or mist that hangs around the island, obscuring it from the eyes of sailors and explorers? Pandaria must be well-hidden to have been unseen by the other mortal races for tens of thousands of years, and one could assume that there was some magic or natural phenomenon obscuring it from view. Then again, Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have only recently seen great naval trafic spanning the vast oceans. Could it be that the expansion begins with an unexpected discovery of the Pandarian continent?

The "Mists" could also be sinister in nature. Perhaps the Mists themselves relate to a new threat, such as N'zoth or the Naga. Could it be that Pandaria was nearly destroyed or corrupted by their proximity to the Maelstrom during the Cataclysm? Could the Mists themselves be a living, malevolent source of evil?

Following Blizzard's patten of adding in a new "big bad" for each expansion, who else do we have left on Azeroth? An Old God has never been the focus of an entire expansion, but this could easily change. N'zoth is one possibility in this case, but it is more likely that Blizzard would resurrect Azshara as the main villain of the expansion. She would be the first female "big bad" in the World of Warcraft.

Another possibility is that the elementalists in Pandaria called upon a great mist to surround and protect the island, praying to the water elementals for help. Even more curious is the thought of a Pandarian civil war between the Shodo-pan and their Shao'dins. If Blizzard really wants to play up the Sino-Japanese inspired Pandaren culture, they could definitely create political instability in Pandaria with all of the individual Shao'dins battling for control over the war-torn country. Perhaps Blizzard will not create a unifying villain at all, but this is unlikely.

I would love to see a malevolent Shodo-pan of the Pandaren declaring himself the supreme emperor of the race. Perhaps the escaping Pandaren sail to the Alliance and Horde and beg them for assistance in the war. This could justify two distinct "factions" of the Pandaren fighting eachother on the island. It could be interesting to have two very distinct Pandaren races from different parts of the continent. I would like to see the warlike Pandaren join the Alliance to balance out the factions, while the more peaceful and benevolent Pandaren join the Horde to give the faction another Tauren-like race.

Question of the Week:
What do you think will happen in the Mists of Pandaria? Leave your comment below! We love speculation.
 

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