Basic Lore Guide For Pandaren Role-Players!

Wyrmrest Accord
So you wanna write a backstory and role-play a Pandaren! What are they like? What's the difference between Wandering Isle Pandarens and mainland Pandaria Pandarens? Ever wonder how Monks came to be? What is this "Sha" anyway? Perhaps this guide can help you! Read on!

Source: Compiled official information from Blizzard's March 2012 Media Event. Sections/Titles are modified but information is verbatim.

-Who are the Pandaren?

The Pandaren are an ancient, intelligent race who have been cut off from the world at large since the time of the great sundering that split apart the continents of Azeroth. If a single trait could sum up the Pandaren culture, it's that they live in the moment. They embrace life with gusto. A Pandaren does everything with vigor, focus, and intensity. Every meal is an event. Every moment with the family is cherished. Every project or work of art demands their full attention. Every nap is treated as if it will be the last! The Pandaren work hard, play hard, fight like animals, love with all their soul, tell impossibly tall tales, drink like they mean it, and sleep like the dead.

On the whole, Pandaren are slow to anger and prefer measured solutions to problems. But underneath all of that practiced civility, there is a bear to contend with. When a Pandaren focuses on combat, each blow rings with the weight of his or her entire body. Living "in the moment" also means getting lost in the fury of combat; a Pandaren monk in the midst of battle has fists like wrecking balls and a roar that can be heard from horizon to horizon.

However, it takes a great deal to get a Pandaren wound up. On mainland Pandaria, negative emotions such as fear, anger, or despair can literally take on a physical form and stir up trouble. For this reason, Pandaren emphasize and cultivate a quiet life of inner harmony and focus. Conflicts, no matter how bitter, are quickly forgotten over cold drinks once the matter is resolved. The Pandaren sense of inner peace and love of life is infectious. Spend any significant time with a Pandaren and you, too, can't help but get lost in the moment.

-Why has Pandaria been hidden this whole time?

A veil of impenetrable mists has cloaked Pandaria since the time of the Sundering and the reign of the last Pandaren emperor. Previously, ships entering the mists have lost their bearings and spun about aimlessly before returning to the open ocean. As for the Pandaren, they looked out toward the mist-veiled seas and many presumed that the rest of the world had perished in the Sundering.

Sometime in the wake of the Cataclysm, the mists abruptly vanished. Alliance and Horde naval fleets, engaged in skirmishes around the world thanks to the new Warchief's aggression, suddenly found a new continent where once charts showed open seas. With both factions escalating their feud into a global conflict, the war for Azeroth shifts in a new direction.

Why did the mists collapse at this crucial moment in world history? The answers revolve around the will of the last emperor, and lie at the heart of this strange new continent....

-What is the Pandaren starting zone, the Wandering Isle?

Many generations ago, a particularly bold pandaren named Liu Lang set out to see what was beyond the mists by setting sail upon the back of a giant sea turtle. As the turtle grew, so did Liu Lang's desire to explore the world. Others joined him, until eventually a whole colony of pandaren explorers travelled the ocean, living atop the expansive "Wandering Isle." Although the Wandering Isle hasn't made landfall in many years, those who live there are still ignited by the spirit of adventure.

Chen Stormstout is a native of the Wandering Isle, as are any players who choose to create Pandaren characters. They are a rare breed, on the whole far more adventurous than their land-locked and long-lost relatives on mainland Pandaria.

-Your Panderen: Horde or Alliance?

Just as it's comparatively rare for a Pandaren to be struck with an urge to wander the world, it's rarer still that one would feel compelled to align oneself with a faction such as the Horde or Alliance. Only those who are convinced these factions are the key to healing Azeroth would even consider pledging their allegiance to one faction or the other.

The decision to join a faction comes at great personal cost, as any fellow Pandaren who join the opposite faction -- including friends or relatives -- will likely never be heard from again. Pandaren who choose to align themselves with the Alliance or Horde do so because of shared values and personal beliefs regarding their overall worldview and the best way to move forward after the Cataclysm.

Guiding the decision to join a faction are two competing pandaren disciplines that are prominent on the Wandering Isle. Those who follow the path of the Houjin are impulsive, quick to action, and practical. Houjin disciples feel that the ends can justify the means, and they may find like-minded compatriots in the Horde. In opposition, followers of the path of the Tushui are more contemplative, focused on abstract ideals of justice and morality. Students of Tushui believe that a principled life is the only one worth living, and may find that the stalwart Alliance aligns more closely with their beliefs.

Every Pandaren player will need to make this difficult decision early on in their adventure. The vast majority of the pandaren population, however, will continue to follow the traditional path of isolationism and neutrality.

-Pandaren Leaders and Figureheads for Alliance/Horde

After the climactic events on the Wandering Isle, two pandaren monks will travel with players to the rest of the world to spread the wisdom of the pandaren.

Aysa Cloudsinger is a follower of the path of Tushui. She believes in living a venerable life through meditation, rigorous training, and moral conviction. Described as graceful and poised, Aysa has attained impeccable form and a refined intellect through diligent practice. To Aysa, to follow the way of Tushui is to defend what is right above all else. She believes that success in any endeavor never justifies dishonorable deeds. While the Alliance contains a diverse mix of cultures, Aysa is attracted to the high ideals and values that cement the Alliance together.

Ji Firepaw, a follower of the more direct Houjin philosophy, is adamant that inaction is the greatest injustice. Ji holds that it's honorable to defend home and family no matter the cost. Outgoing, passionate, and not one for deep thought, he is always the first into the fray. Ji finds himself attracted to the scrappy practicality that defines the Horde. Although it will cost him dearly, he will decide to carry the Horde banner when he leaves the Wandering Isle.

-Pandaren history of interaction with Horde and Alliance

Pandaren wanderers are very rare, but the deeds of a few are recorded in recent times. One brave soul that spirited his way into the annals of Azerothian history was the brewmaster Chen Stormstout. Warcraft III players may recall his chance meeting with Rexxar in the game's bonus missions, where he worked together with Thrall to found the new orcish homeland in Durotar. Later, he accompanied heroes such as Vol'jin and Jaina Proudmoore to liberate Theramore and protect the fledgling Horde from annihilation. Never one to stay put for long, Chen moved on, always seeking new ingredients for the perfect brew. Players will be able to catch up with him as he resumes his adventures on the Pandaren mainland.

-How Pandaren Monks Came To Be

Nearly 12,000 years ago, the empire now known as Pandaria was ruled by a monstrous race of warlords known as the Mogu (see below). Mogu taskmasters forbade their slaves to carry weapons. During these dark times, Pandaren monks tried to lift the spirits of their beleaguered brothers and sisters. They were the storytellers, the brewmasters, and the healers who helped knit their oppressed society together in the midst of darkness.

As the Mogu empire began to fray, the Pandaren saw an opportunity for a revolution. Because they had no weapons, they trained common people to fight with their unarmed fists and feet. They mastered the use of positive energy -- or chi -- to empower themselves. The revolution itself was a bloody affair that shattered an empire and left a terrible toll among combatant and civilian alike, but ultimately the Mogu were overthrown and a new empire was founded.

Although Pandaren monks have since incorporated weapons into their attacks, they remain focused on chi as a source of power and are still devastating when fighting with open hands. In the wake of events on the Wandering Isle, Pandaren monks will travel to key places throughout Azeroth to share their wisdom with young Alliance and Horde trainees.

-Threats within Pandaria

Just because Pandaria is isolated doesn't mean the continent is at all peaceful. Looming dangers, new and old, threaten to overwhelm the empire as players arrive.

The Mogu are an ancient race of monstrous warlords who founded the first empire through conquest and oppression. They enslaved nearby indigenous races and used their labor to build structures of awe-inspiring majesty, some of which still stand. Masters of flesh-shaping magic, they assured their dominance through cruel experimentation. Only by mastering unarmed combat were the ancient pandaren able to overthrow this terrible regime. After the mists collapse, the remaining Mogu get together with old allies and attempt to retake the empire that their ancestors founded.

The Mantid are an intelligent and highly evolved race of insect-like creatures who have menaced the people of Pandaria since prehistoric times. While their society has a queen, they don't operate as a hive mind. Mantid act with individual cunning, making them formidable in single combat and unstoppable when their numbers converge. Every mantid generation, the young hatch in incredible numbers and then swarm toward the rest of Pandaria, devouring anything in their path. Only the strongest return. Although the ancient mogu managed to protect their lands by building a gigantic wall between themselves and the mantid, the generational swarms require an all-hands defense of the wall or the very heart of Pandaria will be lost.

-What is Sha?

Sha is a dark energy unique to Pandaria, a legacy left behind by the last Pandaren emperor. Fear, doubt, despair, anger, violence, and hatred are all emotions associated with the Sha -- emotions that can manifest themselves physically if left unchecked. Unwary mortals can become possessed by negative Sha energy, becoming embodiments of pure anger or fear. When the Alliance and Horde bring their war to the shores of Pandaria, these negative emotions threaten to engulf the continent.

-Other Races and Creatures in Pandaria

After millennia of isolation from the rest of Azeroth, several unique indigenous races have developed alongside the pandaren on the ancient continent.

Ferocious and impetuous, the Hozen are a short-lived race. They have their own uniquely filthy language and a determination to always improve their station, no matter how inept their efforts. While the pandaren respect their tenacious hunger for life they're also wary of the chaos created by such recklessness. The ever-expanding hozen are often the bane of the nearby jinyu, and it's up to the Pandaren to play the role of reluctant peacekeeper.

The industrious and amphibious Jinyu dam the rivers in order to create lakes around which they make their home. The Jinyu live under a rigid caste system, with warriors and priests chosen at a young age. Many of the Jinyu elders are Waterspeakers. Placing a staff into the river, these sages listen to the knowledge of the island as it flows downstream. Any events that touch the rivers will make their way down to the Jinyu, giving the Waterspeakers a connection to the future. While the Pandaren balk at the overly rigid structure of Jinyu life, they hold in great reverence this power to gain insight into what's to come.

The cloud serpents are an intelligent race of dragon-like beings inhabiting the island. They exist in a wide array of shimmering colors. Some may be the bright green of the treetops through which they fly, while others may be the sparkling blue of the stream or the shocking crimson of flame -- their beauty always complementing their beloved land. Pandaren will often raise the playful creatures from hatchling to adulthood, as their cleverness and speed make them excellent mounts. While a handful have become corrupt or dangerous, the vast majority coexist happily with the other inhabitants of the island.

Other unique races include the dangerous lizard-like Saurok, the superstitious diminutive Grummles, the obnoxious scavenging Virmen, or the ferocious nomadic Yaungol tribes.

-Factions In Pandaria

~The Shado-Pan: The bravest and most disciplined of pandaren fighters, the Shado-Pan were established by the last Pandaren emperor to act as guardians against the negative Sha energy that permeates the continent. Part of their duties also involves manning the mighty wall that protects the pandaren homeland from the dangerous mantid race. They welcome the assistance of any who have the bravery and skill to aid them in their sacred charge.

~The August Celestials: Four powerful ancestor spirits have always watched over the lands of the pandaren: Yu'lon the Jade Serpent, Xuen the White Tiger, Chi Ji the Red Crane, and Niuzao the Black Ox. Each of their four temples will call on the service of bold adventurers.

~The Golden Lotus: Nestled in the center of Pandaria is the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, an ancient place of great power that's been around since the time of the Titans. The Vale and its magical waters were once used as a weapon by the Mogu, and after their overthrow it was decided to seal off the vale from any intruders. The Golden Lotus is an order of pandaren priests and fighters who defend and maintain this sacred land. Members are specifically chosen at a young age by one of the four August Celestials.

~The Klaxxi: Keepers of the mantid culture, these stoic mantid lords have determined that their own queen has been corrupted and must be destroyed. Although wary of outsiders, it may be possible to earn the trust of the Klaxxi, gaining access to their unique arms and armor.

~Order of the Cloud Serpent: This order of flying warriors was founded long ago, during the Zandalari wars. Gain their favor, and they'll reveal the secrets of training a cloud serpent to become a loyal mount.

~The Lorewalkers: This peaceful faction has been charged with safeguarding pandaren history and culture. Intrepid explorers can win their favor by collecting historical artifacts from around the world.

~Artisans: Many Brewmasters have wandered the world in search of exotic ingredients to expand their craft, while the Tillers and Anglers are simple farmer and fisher folk, respectively. These three factions are the backbone of civilian life on Pandaria, and offering assistance to these artisans will reap great rewards.

There you have it! Hope this helps when creating a backstory for your character along with fan-fiction. Looking forward to Pandaren role-players here in Wymrest! :D
I dig this! <3 Thanks for writing this all up.

My pandaren was going to be just another alt, but I'm slowly considering RP...
I dig this! <3 Thanks for writing this all up.

My pandaren was going to be just another alt, but I'm slowly considering RP...

Glad to hear it! :D I didn't write this though, just modified it and compiled accordingly to help role-players. Blizzard actually released many of the info here during the March 2012 Media Event. <3
Good Job.
Always did love Pandaren since Chen was introduced on the bonus maps. It just seems unreal that Blizz put so much love into their lore, and really made it work. Agh! So hard to believe the expansion is only a month away! I can't wait, and reading over all this info just makes me want it more.

Actually, you had some stuff I didn't even know about - namely about the Jinyu. Didn't realize they had a caste system, though I haven't played Alliance on Beta much either. Thank you for compiling this information. I hope it'll give players an idea of what it means to play panda.
Voted for sticky, to go with the other Racial RP guides!
Oooo, nice compilation! I was hoping someone would get around to lumping all this stuff together in a thread ^^
Thanks for putting this here on the WrA forums. There are some that don't know where to look. And for those of us that do, it's still a great read.

A wonderful beginning point for any Pandaran players, thanks so much for posting it!

Now my only problem is that, philosophically, I won't ever be able to play a Horde Pandaran, and I really like seeing both sides of EVERYthing. *sighs* Oh, well, at least I have my rogue over there.

I know it's a month away, but I swear, on patch day, I'm picking up the novels that I've missed getting, including the new one, so I'll have something to do while I wait!
This makes me feel good in my decision to make a Pandaran mage to join the Alliance, it seems that race/class combo will fit in very well with the ideals here.

Thanks so much for posting this! <3
No problem, friends! Glad I can help!
Early morning bump. :D
I'm pondering doing something a bit different with my panda-I'm looking at race changing my 85 hunter, then zipping through the opening part fast as I can. When my friends catch up, she'll be in Paw'don Village, and after some confrontation, end up being hired by them as a guide-and to seek vengeance on the Horde who killed her family.
08/30/2012 04:18 AMPosted by Duskie
I'm pondering doing something a bit different with my panda-I'm looking at race changing my 85 hunter, then zipping through the opening part fast as I can. When my friends catch up, she'll be in Paw'don Village, and after some confrontation, end up being hired by them as a guide-and to seek vengeance on the Horde who killed her family.

That is an awesome idea O_O

I hope someone will try it on a large scale!
What is the lifespan of a Pandaren?

Great job btw OP.
08/30/2012 07:32 AMPosted by Moonsword
What is the lifespan of a Pandaren?

I've heard it might be comparable to a dwarf, but that was a while ago. I don't think they're as long-lived as elves (of either flavor).
08/30/2012 07:34 AMPosted by Minzel
What is the lifespan of a Pandaren?

I've heard it might be comparable to a dwarf, but that was a while ago. I don't think they're as long-lived as elves (of either flavor).

Thanks! I was just curious since their existence goes as far back as the Sundering.

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