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"May your spirit be raised, and always raise your spirits."
Pandaren are a playable race featured in the Warcraft series. They are panda bear-like humanoids who love ale and nature. Some pandaren join the Alliance, some join the Horde and others remain neutral.
Couched in myth and legend, rarely seen and even more rarely understood, the enigmatic pandaren have long been a mystery to the other races of Azeroth. The noble history of the pandaren people stretches back thousands of years, well before the empires of man and before even the sundering of the world. Some druids say pandaren and raccoons are distant cousins.
Slaves of the MoguEdit
Long before the Sundering, Pandaria was scorched by the endless conflict of the mogu, fighting amongst themselves. Powerful mogu warlords gathered up followers and made war on one another. Their battles waged across the land, terrifying the other mortal races. During this Age of a Hundred Kings, Lei Shen, the Thunder King, gathered together his followers and rose to power "the mogu way", eliminating his rivals one by one. The mogu flocked around the Thunder King's banner and eagerly did his bidding as he enslaved the pandaren, believing - as Lei Shen did - that the "lesser" races should serve the mogu, just as the mogu had once served their masters. Emperor Lei Shen unified the language, established a single currency and standardized weight and measures. He also created the first code of laws, written in the unified language. The first rule was that sedition, insurrection and rebellion be punished by public evisceration. The Thunder King saw great potential in the pandaren, and for this reason he did not trust them. After he conquered the land, the pandaren were forbidden to learn to read or write. Their leaders and philosophers were executed and all pandaren art and literature was burned. Mogu taskmasters forbade their slaves to carry weapons. The pandaren were reduced to a race of slaves. The lucky ones clowned enough to entertain their mogu masters. Those pandaren lived in stone palaces, and their lives knew relative luxury. But that luxury ended when a joke offended and only the snapping of a spine or the popped removal of a head could inspire more mogu laughter. 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. 12,000 years ago the pandaren, through tenacity, diplomacy, and a unique form of unarmed combat, staged a successful revolution that deposed the mogu and established an empire that would prosper for thousands of years. While the mogu were overthrown in a desperate revolution led by the pandaren, their legacy persists in thousand year-old ruins too immense to fall.
Before the night elves were addicted to arcane magic and summoned the Burning Legion to Azeroth, the pandaren were a close ally to the night elves. Some of them even lived with the night elves and witnessed the power of the Well of Eternity. Yet after the night elves became obsessed with the well, the pandaren decided to sever their ties and enclose their border in Pandaria.
Before they left, the pandaren decided to offer the Highborne a gift, a chest of pandaren design, said to contain all the arcane magic they would ever need. The gift was accepted and taken down into a royal vault in the Temple of Zin-Malor in Eldarath. However when the chest was opened, it was found to contain absolutely nothing. The pandarens' gift was actually a message of advice and wisdom to the Highborne: all the arcane magic they needed was nothing, or in other words, that they did not need it at all. The chest and the message it represented continued to exist in the vault even 10,000 years later, but as history would record, the pandarens' wisdom fell on deaf ears.
uring the bleak days that preceded the sundering of the world, when demons flooded onto Azeroth and threw the entirety of the mortal realm into jeopardy, the last Emperor of the pandaren discovered a way to protect his land from the devastation. His deal with fate shrouded his land within an impenetrable mist for ten thousand years, but the nature of his transaction has left Pandaria haunted ever since. 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.
After Emperor Shaohao disappeared, the power in Pandaria shifted to the local level. With all threats walled off there was no longer a need for an emperor anymore, making Shaohao the last Emperor of Pandaria.
The Third WarEdit
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. Never one to stay put for long, Chen moved on, always seeking new ingredients for the perfect brew.
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.
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: Shen-zin Su. 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. When the great turtle is threatened, and their whole wandering homeland is in jeopardy of being swallowed by the sea, young heroes had to accelerate their training and spring into action.
Mists of PandariaEdit
Following the events of the Wandering Isle storyline the Huojin and Tushui pandaren of the Wandering Isle made their way to the Horde and Alliance capitals, respectively, to pledge their allegiance to their new 'Emperor'.
Having each joined one of the two major factions, the respective pandaren groups began to train their new allies in the ways of the monk. As well as residing in the factions' capital cities, individual monk trainers travelled to areas such as the Valley of Trials and Northshire Abbey to train young members of each of their faction's races. In addition, these pandaren served to exchange customs and knowledge with their new allies.
Warlords of DraenorEdit
A number of pandaren - both Alliance and Horde, traveled through the Dark Portal, back in time to defeat Garrosh Hellscream and the Iron Horde, once and for all.
Pandaren are humanoid bears, generally between 5 and 6 feet tall, and covered in fur from head to toe. Every pandaren has two colors of fur; one is always white but the other color ranges from black to brown to red. They have paws for hands and feet, with four fingers, a thumb and three toes. Each digit is tipped with a black claw. They refer to their hands directly as paws. While the species has a tail, there are two distinct forms. The common form is a round stub of fur, but the second form, which is long and thickens out by the end, is exclusive to red-and-white females.
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.
Honorable and filled with a love of good company, good food -- and every now and then, a good friendly brawl -- the pandaren have been content to live in seclusion, allowing their culture to flourish and thrive away from the influence of the outside world. However, every now and then, a pandaren is born with a thirst for adventure that rivals his or her thirst for a strong drink, and he or she strikes out to explore beyond Pandaria’s shores. One of the most famous such wanderers was the brewmaster Chen Stormstout, who set out looking for exotic ingredients for his special ale and wound up an integral part of the founding of the Horde.
For some young pandaren, riding the foul-tempered mushan is considered a rite of passage.
When preparing to travel to distant locations, Pandaren will traditionally capture a mirror strider and safely relocate it to another body of water.
During the dark days of the mogu dynasties, pandaren slaves were not permitted weapons of any kind. When training in secret, pandaren monks would often use farm tools or simple bamboo staves for practice. Emphasis was also placed on unarmed strikes.
In contrast, the favored weapons of the mogu were based on fear rather than practicality. They were large, cumbersome, and difficult to wield. Pandaren monks took advantage, developing fast strikes and the skill to quickly move around the battlefield. The larger, slower mogu were often completely disoriented by the speed of pandaren monks in open combat.
Over the years, fighting styles have changed dramatically, incorporating any number of other abilities, weapons, styles, etc. But the core foundation of pandaren fighting techniques remains the same: Defeat an opponent of any size with your bare paws if you have to.
The First MonksEdit
In the days of the mogu dynasties, slaves were the lifeblood of the empire. Pandaren, hozen, and jinyu worked fields, dug mines, and built the mighty fortresses of their masters. To help combat fatigue, maintain morale, and return the wounded to work, the mogu permitted a special caste of slaves that specialized in the brewing of remedies. Simple teas and poultices were their specialty at first. Over the years these specialists became healers, community leaders, and brewmasters. A noble tradition was born, and these early "monks" became symbols of hope and pride amongst the pandaren. It was these heroes who first learned how to fight without weapons, in secret. Monks taught the other slaves the secrets of martial arts. When the revolution came, the monks were the first into battle, inspiring the humble farmers, smiths, and masons to follow.
One of the two primary philosophies followed by pandaren of the Wandering Isle is the way of Tushui. It encourages living a venerable life through meditation, rigorous training, and moral conviction. Aysa Cloudsinger is one of the pandaren that have mastered this way and can be recognized as somewhat of a leader of the Tushui monks. This philosophy is very close to the ways of the Alliance, and Aysa has decided to join this faction along with the pandaren who uphold this belief.
Another philosophy is the way of Huojin. It states that inaction is the greatest injustice, and that there is no shame in defending one's homes and loved ones regardless of cost. Ji Firepaw is a staunch follower of this way, and the first of them who recognized the similarities of this way in the races of the Horde, and all that find themselves closer to this belief have decided to follow Ji and stand united with all these Horde races, whose desire is to live free.
Pandaren have a fierce and deep belief in the connection of the material and spiritual worlds. In many ways their faith mirrors the ancient beliefs of the night elves, and the tribal beliefs of the tauren, troll, and orc races. However, pandaren veil their beliefs in the trappings of a mystical and ancient method called geomancy. Geomancy teaches that the land is a reflection of the spirits, but that spirits are also a reflection of the land. Like the furbolgs, tauren, and Wildhammer dwarves, the pandaren follow a shamanistic faith, worshiping the Earth Mother and giving passage to their dead. They are true geomancers, drawing their holy power directly from the Earth Mother. They also follow a new philosophy (new to the other residents of Kalimdor, of course); they are a society that reacts, instead of acting first. They claim to be the water that flows around a rock: The water does not push the rock out of the way, it merely goes around it. They use this uncomplicated way of thinking in their everyday life. If they set their minds to a task, and they fail, then they believe they went about it the wrong way and try again. They do not mourn for failures, believing that they simply have mapped out improper ways to do things and they will know better next time. This philosophy seems simple, but the pandaren apply it to every aspect of their lives, from brewing beer to adventuring. They are calm, affable types who will extend the hand of friendship to a stranger on the road — but if the stranger is hostile, the hand of friendship can quickly turn into an excruciating joint lock.
All of the races that reside on Kalimdor view the pandaren with interest. Claiming to come from an island named Pandaria, which no one has ever visited, these gentle beings bring their love for beer, their quiet contemplations and their formidable fighting techniques to Kalimdor to experience life on the continent. The pandaren are the smallest of the bestial races and seem positively tiny next to the hulking bulk of the furbolgs. However, they seem much less like beasts than their apparent cousins. They value honor, discipline and friendship above all else. Gain the companionship and trust of a pandaren, they say, and you have a friend and protector for life. The pandaren are an independent race and any encountered outside the Barrens are wanderers and travelers, belonging to no affiliation. Their outlook meshes well with the Alliance, and most pandaren in Kalimdor are found in the company of Alliance races. Pandaren are eccentric, however, and some feel more at home around the Horde. In any case, they rarely stay in one place for long. Pandaren friendliness and combat prowess make them good allies and honorable enemies. Pandaren are on good terms with all non-evil races.
Although they have been on Kalimdor a short time, the pandaren have already developed a special bond with the Ironforge dwarves. The dwarves are a race that appreciates good ale and a good story, and they have many tell of their own. The pandaren have enjoyed their stops at Bael Modan and the things they have learned of the Alliance, the Horde and the Scourge there. Being a race that honors their ancestors as well, they aid the dwarves in their search for titan artifacts when they can. They believe knowing where one comes from is an important aspect to living a full life. They have also made friends in the half-elves they have encountered, as the half-elves are beginning to adopt the same life-accepting philosophies as the pandaren, and they find them to be ideal traveling partners. Most pandaren have recently arrived on Kalimdor, but there are some that fought in the recent conflicts surrounding Illidan. A number of pandaren were visiting the dwarves of Bael Modan when the call came to the Alliance to prevent the blood elf and naga army traveling to Northrend. To honor their hosts, the pandaren visitors joined the fight. It was during this battle that they formed most of their opinions regarding the other races.
The pandaren have liked most of the other independent races they have met. Deciding to remain neutral themselves, they appreciate the other races' reasons for standing safely in the middle. They, understandingly, identify more with the races that they have philosophies in common with. Some pandaren spent many months recently with the furbolgs, learning of their simple life in Ashenvale Forest. They sympathize with the half-orcs they have met, and simply do not understand the goblins. They, like the other races of the continent, do not care for the blood elves and naga (there are exceptions as one was last seen fighting alongside the sin'dorei). The trolls are puzzling, as they practice divine magic, but for evil purposes, which doesn't coincide with the pandaren philosophy. Their fondness for the Ironforge dwarves doesn't put the pandaren in a likely position to join the Alliance any time soon. They feel the Alliance gives too much weight to politics, treaties, and arcane magic when, really, all one needs to do is step outside one's door, taste the air, feel the earth and take one’s cues from there. Overall, the Alliance is unnecessarily complicated for the pandaren, and although they do enjoy visiting Theramore (especially for the taverns), they don't plan on setting up homes there any time soon.
They have much in common with the Horde when it comes to spirituality, but they are unlikely to join their forces either. The Horde is formed of races in the midst of healing, the pandaren believe, and they need to find themselves before they can allow anyone else to join their fold. Besides, the pandaren are just visiting.
Pandaren rely on a well-regimented system of battle that uses infantry, archers, and cavalry, with elite units and spellcasters to bolster their forces. Pandaren are strict adherents to the practice of equipping each soldier with the best possible equipment and arms. Even the lowliest foot soldier has a jug of pandaren brew at his side to aid him in combat, and most units use the more powerful magic drinks before a battle. Pandaren are courageous and fearless, and thus their armies have amazing durability and cohesion. A unit of infantry serves under a wardancer, with a host of wardancers serving under a shodo-pan. Each shodo-pan from a shao'din has a host of warriors and wardancers at his command. Pandaren infantry are armed with pan-spears, round bamboo helms, thick lamellar-style armor made from woven bambus reed, and sometimes bear shields made of the same material. Using the spears to fight in regimented ranks, the pandaren infantry use a variety of tactics that involve engulfing, flanking, and leading enemies into a charge.
Pandaren archers often rest just beyond the infantry, using long supple bambus bows capable of taking the eye out of an orc at hundreds of yards. Pandaren archers are equipped with their bows and a variety of arrows with varying heads (broad, leaf-shaped heads for unarmored infantry, sharp, piercing heads for heavily armored opponents, and unusual “U” or “V” shaped arrowheads for dealing maximum damage at close range); they often carry short curved swords similar to shaktani warblades. Pandaren archers are skilled at long-range marksmanship and sniping, although the size of their bows prohibits their use from concealment, for they are almost as tall as a standing pandaren. Pandaren cavalry is almost entirely composed of wardancers riding combat-trained horses. The wardancers wear bambus armor reinforced with metal chain and buckling. Wielding shaktani warblades, the wardancers cut down anyone in their path.
Recently introduced to the pandaren are firearms, which are beginning to take a more important role in the way the pandaren wage war. While only a few of the shao’dins have rifle regiments, pandaren have taken to the rifle like a dwarf to ale. Some pandaren riflemen even go so far as to travel abroad to learn the shooting techniques of other races, and bring best techniques back to Pandaria. These riflemen mark a new evolution in the way the pandaren wage war, a change to traditions that most likely have not altered in millennia.
Trivia & NotesEdit
- Pandaren are excellent brewmasters, making countless different and famous alcoholic drinks.
- Pandaren have a board game called Jihui, designed to let both players win.
- Pandaren do, in fact, eat bamboo.
- Pandaren beds are circular, as they like to hibernate.
- Pandaren are the first playable neutral race introduced in the World of Warcraft series.