- This article is about the pandaren lore. For the playable race, see Pandaren (playable). For the language, see Pandaren (language).
- “To ask why we fight... is to ask why the leaves fall. It is in their nature. Perhaps, there is a better question. Why do we fight? To protect Home, and Family... To preserve Balance, and bring Harmony. For my kind, the true question is: What is worth fighting for?”
Long ago, the pandaren were the slaves of a cruel race of powerful warlords known as the mogu, until they successfully staged a revolution alongside several other slave races, establishing their own empire in the process. During the Great Sundering, the last pandaren emperor sealed their homeland away behind a veil of mist, hiding Pandaria from the outside world and leaving their culture to flourish free of influences from the outside world.
A second civilization of pandaren dwells on the back of the giant turtle known as Shen-zin Su, who travels around Azeroth's seas. Millennia after the Sundering, a pandaren by the name of Liu Lang set out to explore the world on Shen-zin Su, returning each year to Pandaria to pick up more adventurers to join him on the back of his ever-growing companion. Eventually, the turtle grew large enough for entire buildings and towns to be constructed upon his back, and the pandaren began referring to him as the "Wandering Isle".
Shortly after the Cataclysm ravaged Azeroth, the protective mists surrounding Pandaria dissipated, and before long, Alliance and Horde warships arrived on the continent, causing the native pandaren to become involved in the conflict between the two factions. Around roughly the same time, an Alliance gunship carrying Horde prisoners crashed into the side of the Wandering Isle, and shortly thereafter pandaren followers of the Tushui and Huojin disciplines decided to leave their home to swear allegiance to the Alliance High King and Horde warchief, respectively.
While the race was first introduced with Chen Stormstout in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, the pandaren made their first major appearance in World of Warcraft as a playable race with the fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria.
- 1 History
- 2 Biology and culture
- 3 Pandaren organizations
- 4 Notable
- 5 History of debuts, rumors, and controversy
- 6 In the RPG
- 7 Notes and trivia
- 8 Speculation
- 9 Gallery
- 10 See also
- 11 References
Origins and early history
- 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.
The exact origins of the pandaren remain a mystery. Brann Bronzebeard speculates that they are descended from an unknown Ancient Guardian. If the pandaren's own tales are to be trusted, they were around before both the kaldorei and furbolgs. Some druids say pandaren and raccoons are distant cousins, but never when a pandaren can hear them.
While the pandaren are predominantly a peace-loving race, their history is marked with turmoil and strife. The pandaren were among the races who settled in the lands surrounding the Vale of Eternal Blossoms roughly 15,000 years before the First War. Thanks to their wise and peaceful nature, they forged a strong bond with four Wild Gods who dwelled in the area — Chi-Ji, Niuzao, Xuen and Yu'lon. Referring to the Wild Gods as the "August Celestials", the pandaren formed a system of worship around the four, and in turn, the Celestials granted the pandaren knowledge and helped them hone their ties to philosophy and nature. Even in the ages before the old empire, there is evidence that the pandaren love of learning had created epic poems, agriculture, and medicine.
Slaves of the mogu
Long before the Great 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 set of written laws in all of Azeroth, written in the unified language. The brutal codes enshrined the mogu's place above all other creatures, and 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.
Zandalari Troll Wars
- Main article: Zandalari Troll Wars
One hundred years after the revolution, the allies of the mogu, the Zandalari trolls, sought to aid their allies by attacking the embryonic pandaren empire. The Zandalari numbers were vast, and their bat riders fought in such a way the pandaren had no counter to until a girl named Jiang used a cloud serpent to strike them from the sky. The Zandalari's assault lasted several years, even bringing their dreaded dinosaurs into the fight. During the Zandalari invasion of the Jade Forest, more cloud serpents were trained to bear riders, and the newly-formed Order of the Cloud Serpent turned the tide of the war.
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 pandaren's 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 pandaren's wisdom fell on deaf ears.
During 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.
800 years before the opening of the Dark Portal 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 traveled 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.
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. After a chance meeting with the half-ogre Rexxar, Chen helped Rexxar, Rokhan and Thrall found the new orcish homeland of 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.
Pandaren afflicted with the wanderlust often stared out across the sea awaiting the return of Liu Lang and Shen-zin Su. To this day, when someone is caught gazing off to the horizon for any reason, they are often asked if they are "Waiting for the turtle."
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 Pandaria
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 traveled 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.
The pandaren's homeland, Pandaria, becomes a battleground between the Horde and the Alliance during the Alliance-Horde war. Many pandaren were caught in the conflict, and the Shado-Pan leader Taran Zhu was angered that their violence was awakening the sha. Eventually, the Alliance and Horde earned the favor of the pandaren by aiding them in defending against their local enemies: the mogu, the mantid, and other domestic threats.
When Warchief Garrosh Hellscream unearthed the Heart of Y'shaarj, the Shado-Pan tried to stop him but proved unable to. The Vale of Eternal Blossoms was corrupted by sha energy and both factions eventually sieged Orgrimmar to end Hellscream's reign. Afterwards, the pandaren mainly focused on healing the vale again.
Warlords of Draenor
Garrosh Hellscream was taken to the Temple of the White Tiger, where he was to be trialed according to Pandaren law for his defilement of their homeland. The former warchief managed to escape with the aid of the Infinite Dragonflight and the rogue Bronze dragon Kairozdormu, who opened a portal into an alternate version of Draenor.
During the third invasion of the Burning Legion, demons attacked Pandaria and destroyed the monastery at Peak of Serenity killing many monks training there. The survivors relocated in the Wandering Isle reorganizing into the Order of the Broken Temple to fight the Burning Legion. With the aid of a concoction called the Storm Brew, the monks managed to defeat a Legion attack on their new headquarters.
Battle for Azeroth
The islandic pandaren tribes sometimes visit Pandaria and purchase supplies. They live a very different life, always traveling from place to place and never settling down. When one group packs up to move on to a new island, it is not uncommon for another tribe to take their place.
Biology and culture
- Embrace the moment, the pandaren seek inner peace and harmony. Each breath is cherished, just as each meal, each brew, each laugh, and each battle is treated as if it could be their last. Tied inextricably to their island of Pandaria, they will fight with their entire being to protect their way of life and their home.
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. Due to their laid-back nature, pandaren—especially those on Pandaria—are a bit looser about time and the passage of seasons than other races.
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.
In the words of Tyrathan Khort, the pandaren are used to the mists. They see through them and are unseen within them. They would be a terrible force unleashed were they not so balanced and concerned with balance. In it they find peace and, with reason, are reluctant to surrender that peace.
Pandaren are humanoid bears with dark skin covered in fur from head to toe. The males stand at an average of 7'6", while the females average around 7'. Every pandaren has two colors of fur; one is always white but the other color ranges from black to brown to red. When pandaren grow old, their fur tends to run more to white. Some females artificially darken the area around their eyes. They have paws for hands and feet, with three 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.
Pandaren are usually very rotund, which tend to be a point of pride in their society (see cuisine section).
- The Timeless Isle was once a place of great reverence for the pandaren. It served as a sort of tournament ground, where the trials of wisdom, hope, strength, and fortitude took place in front of the great Celestials, and where warriors, heroes and aspiring leaders and emperors would show their willingness to walk in the footsteps of the great Emperor Shaohao.
- When preparing to travel to distant locations, pandaren will traditionally capture a mirror strider and safely relocate it to another body of water.
No pandaren approaches their death with joy, but neither should they feel fear, nor anger, nor doubt. They know that from their passing blossoms new life — this is the truth the pandaren hold most dear, and the truth for which they live, work, and die.
A traditional pandaren funeral ceremony involves the lighting of the "Incense of Life", which not only has a pleasant smell, but also has restorative properties and can even help plants grow. The incense is made from strongly aromatic spices, which gives it its unique scent, as well as blue crab shells.
- See also: Brewfather
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was once a favored dish of the ancient mogu, and has since become a staple in pandaren cuisine. is a pandaren staple, while is a pandaren specialty. A type of ancient spices have been a staple ingredient in pandaren recipes for millennia, since before the time of Emperor Shaohao.
Since the dark days of the old kingdom, the pandaren have turned to the mystical art of brewing to keep their spirits and strength high. The mighty brewmasters travel the world in search of exotic ales and the finest brewed spirits. These affable warriors rarely seek out danger or trouble, preferring instead to spend their time concocting new and tasty beverages for any brave enough to imbibe them. Wanderers by nature, brewmasters can be found roaming all over Pandaria searching for rare ingredients and concocting new brews. Nothing makes a pandaren happier than an untapped keg, and a pandaren worker without brew "just won't be very productive". Pandaren booze gets stronger with age.
The pandaren have a rich history of tea. While much care is given to its brewing, the secrets to properly enjoying tea have always been equally valued.
There are six different "Ways" of traditional pandaren cooking:
- The Way of the Brew, based around brewing tea and alcoholic beverages.
- The Way of the Grill, which focuses on strength and good health and produces foods that increases one's physical strength.
- The Way of the Oven, which produces hearty, sustaining meals that increases one's stamina. To be skilled with the oven, one need to have endurance and patience, but the results are considered very much worth the effort.
- The Way of the Pot, whose cuisine helps expand one's intellect.
- A great meal can lift one's spirits, and none more so than food from the Way of the Steamer.
- The Way of the Wok, which produces dishes that increase one's agility. To "cook with the wok", one needs to be nimble.
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- Respect for the rule of law is dear to the pandaren, as it is the means by which wrongs can be righted and balance can be restored. Pandaren law is an ancient law of the Pandaria pandaren. After the Siege of Orgrimmar, the trial of Garrosh Hellscream was held according to Pandaren law. Baine Bloodhoof acted as the Defender, Tyrande Whisperwind as the Accuser, Taran Zhu as the judge (fa'shua) and the August Celestials as the jury.
- Despite the lack of a central pandaren government, the otters in Lonesome Cove are protected by law.
After Lei Shen conquered Pandaria, the pandaren were forbidden from learning to read or write. All of their art and literature was burned and they were forbidden from speaking any language but the mogu tongue. Ages later, other great pandaren scholars would be born, but the language they spoke was not truly their own. Consequently, the original pandaren language is now known as the "old tongue", the "language of emperors and scholars", which most modern pandaren are unable to speak or understand.
Pandaren use a number of unique expressions:
- Whenever a pandaren is caught daydreaming or staring off into the horizon for any reason, they are asked if they are "waiting for the turtle". This saying originates from the days when Liu Lang and Shen-zin Su regularly returned to Pandaria every five years and pandaren afflicted with wanderlust would stare out across the sea, awaiting their return.
- "Chasing the turtle" appears to be an expression used to describe the act of leaving one's home to pursue adventure.
- "Wild dog" is a derogatory term used by mainland pandaren to refer to pandaren from the Wandering Isle or to impulsive and adventurous individuals in general. Perhaps the most famous one is Li Li Stormstout, who became known as a wild dog during her travels in Kun-Lai Summit and soon started proudly calling herself "Wild Dog Li Li".
Song and poetry
- "It is wise to let sleeping pandaren lie."
- "When waking a tiger, use a long stick. Better yet, tell your friend to wake the tiger instead."
- "The timid feel fear before trouble starts; the cowards feel fear as trouble happens. The bravest among us feel fear only after the troubles have been taken care of."
- "Fear is not a criminal we must lock away. It is a teacher we must seek to understand."
- "With deep doubts comes deep wisdom."
When they first settled in the land later known as Pandaria, the pandaren formed a system of worship centered around four Wild Gods that they called the "August Celestials", believing the powerful beings to be benevolent deities. After Lei Shen defeated the Celestials during his conquest of Pandaria, worship of the animal spirits was outlawed on pain of death. Many of the pandaren's ties to the Wild Gods were lost, but a few brave individuals secretly continued preserving their teachings.
The pandaren do not worship their ancestors, but they revere their memory and the wisdom that they have passed on to them.
Folklore and beliefs
- “Our people's lore is a woven quilt of rich stories.”
Pandaren lore is filled with various stories and fables. The Lorewalkers is an organization dedicated to preserving pandaren stories and culture. According to Lorewalker Stonestep, the works of a thousand pandaren storytellers are stored within the Scrollkeeper's Sanctum in the Temple of the Jade Serpent.
- According to the legend, long ago, there were five suns that burned brightly in the sky. When the winds blew, their intense heat caused great wildfires. Crops wilted, villages burned, and families wandered endlessly to seek refuge from the flames. Great fires would sweep through the lands of Pandaria until the day that Zao Sunseeker, Champion of the Five Suns, shot a defiant arrow into the sky, bringing down 4 of the 5 suns. This story originated from a tragic tale of hardship. Legends tell of a horrific drought that ravaged Pandaria and its denizens. While the land has since recovered from that natural disaster, the facts gave way to a more fanciful tale that was more interesting for the Lorewalkers to tell and proved better at grabbing the attention of bored cubs.
- The Trial of the Yaungol tells of how the young yaungol wanderer Osong faces his own Strife and Peril. He must find a balance between the two to set his soul free.
- Pandaren pass the stories of the great pandaren book of fables on to their cubs — stories of the cricket and the hawk, or the slow-moving turtle — to teach them lessons that they will find useful in life. What few cubs know is that the specific creatures named in the stories actually exist in Pandaria. Though the stories of their travels are made up, they are powerful denizens of the world.
- In the ancient fables, the first Tolai hare strode across the gulf between the stars before it upset them and they tumbled from the heavens to the world below.
- Other stories include:
- Following the defeat of the Zandalari during the Zandalari Troll Wars, and the eventual forming of the mists and Pandaria's separation from the rest of the world during the Great Sundering, the Zandalari became regarded as little more than mythological savages in superstitious stories; a tale used to scare children and ensure compliance with the instructions and requests of parents. Because of this, both mainland and Wandering Isle pandaren knew of trolls even prior to the mists' collapse, and trolls were described as evil in pandaren story books.
- Azure cloud serpents are believed by the pandaren to be harbingers of good fortune.
- The Jade Forest's pandaren consider temple snakes to be distant relatives of the revered Jade Serpent, Yu'lon.
Games and celebrations
Pandaren love games. One game, in particular, has been a favorite among the pandaren since the time of the first pandaren emperor. According to Anduin Wrynn, pandaren board games such as jihui are designed for both players to win.
While most pandaren in Pandaria aren't very adventurous, some still have the spirit of adventure. During the Wanderer's Festival, they gather at Turtle Beach in the Krasarang Wilds to celebrate the first explorer, Liu Lang, with contemplation and song. On the Wandering Isle, the Spirit Festival—which also honors Liu Lang—is considered the most important celebration of the year.
Pandaren fighting tactics
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 monks
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.
The Wanderer's Way is a philosophy of the Wandering Isle pandaren, made famous by Chen and Li Li Stormstout. Basically, it means to take each journey one step at a time, observe everything around you, speak to everyone you meet, and soak in all the details. However, it also teaches the importance of knowing when to explore and when to stand your ground and fight.
- Anglers — An organization of pandaren fishermen who hope to feed their people and grow their knowledge of fishing. Based out of the Anglers Wharf in southern Krasarang Wilds and led by the esteemed human fisherman Nat Pagle.
- August Celestials — Disciples and servants of the four Wild Gods of the same name and protectors of their four temples.
- Emperor Shaohao — Disciples of the spirit of Emperor Shaohao, the last pandaren emperor. Found on the Timeless Isle and at war with the savage Ordon yaungol.
- Golden Lotus — Secretive protectors of the sacred Vale of Eternal Blossoms, even after the vale was ravaged by the Heart of Y'Shaarj. Formerly based out of the Golden Pagoda and formerly led by Zhi the Harmonious.
- Lorewalkers — Caretakers of Pandaria's rich history and folklore. Based out of the Seat of Knowledge above Mogu'shan Palace and led by Lorewalker Cho.
- Order of the Cloud Serpent — An order of cloud serpent riders and trainers founded during the Zandalari Troll Wars by Jiang. Based out of the Arboretum in the Jade Forest and led by Elder Anli.
- Shado-Pan — A secretive organization dedicated to the protection of Pandaria, as the continent has no standing army. Based out of Shado-Pan Monastery in Kun-Lai Summit and led by Taran Zhu.
- Shang Xi's Academy — An academy on the Wandering Isle with the purpose of preparing young pandaren heroes for a life of adventure. Named after and formerly led by Master Shang Xi.
- Tiller's Union — A peaceful and protective union of farmers who work the land in the fertile Valley of the Four Winds to feed the massive appetites of their people. Based out of Halfhill and led by Haohan Mudclaw and a small council.
History of debuts, rumors, and controversy
- Main article: History of pandaren in Warcraft
The pandaren started as a creation of lead artist Samwise Didier and an April Fool's joke, but they got a massive response from Warcraft fans. When the expansion to Warcraft III was announced, the Pandaren brewmaster was added as a neutral hero, available and playable on nearly every melee map. One Brewmaster, Chen Stormstout was included as an optional playable hero in the expansion's orc campaign. Due to this popularity, pandaren were rumored to be the new playable Alliance race in The Burning Crusade expansion. Their possible appearance in World of Warcraft has been hinted at multiple times by Blizzard. On October 21, 2011, at BlizzCon 2011, Blizzard officially announced World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria as the fourth expansion, and the pandaren became the first playable race available to both the Horde and the Alliance. However, the WoW community became somewhat divided over the expansion.
In the RPG
The pandaren are originally from central Kalimdor where they established the Pandaren Empire. They were allies of the night elves until they saw their obsession with magic getting out of control. The clans severed ties and left Kalimdor behind eventually establishing a new home on an island they named Pandaria. After the Sundering, some pandaren returned to the "new" Kalimdor to explore it. "Where once the pandaren were a mighty empire, standing proud beside their night elf allies, now they are a simple people who want only peace and a safe home." Since the Third War, more pandaren have come to visit Kalimdor.
Hailing from their own secret empire, the pandaren are a race of humanoids resembling panda bears. This appearance leads some to underestimate these noble creatures, thinking them harmless and "cute". They may be cute, but they are not harmless. Pandaren have a long tradition of mystic warfare and are exceedingly strong and agile. The traditional pandaren fighting style focuses upon mobility, speed and precision, as well as stunning acrobatic tricks. Many pandaren are skilled at fighting bare-handed.
Only the pandaren know the intricacies of their society, but alcohol is a central feature. All pandaren are connoisseurs of ale and stronger drink, leading to a unique kinship with Ironforge dwarves. A caste of wandering pandaren warriors called Brewmasters is highly respected in their culture. A few Brewmasters have been spotted in Kalimdor, searching for new beverages to sample and ingredients to add to their own brews. Pandaren are affable and noble, trained in battle but always seeking peace. Pandaren philosophy centers on a harmony of opposites — male and female, calm and chaos, existence and non-existence. Pandaren feel a strong link to the natural world and seek to maintain a peace between all races and nature. Very few pandaren ever leave their hidden island homeland of Pandaria, although there is a place called Pandaren Settlement within the Stonetalon Mountains, but those that do have proved themselves to be strong warriors specializing in Drunken Brawling with great command of the elements.
Each pandaren belongs to a shao'din, which is their word for “clan”. Pandaren society has changed from its origins. Where once the pandaren were a mighty empire, standing proud beside their night elf allies, now they are a simple people who want only peace and a safe home. Yet the world is a dangerous place, and only through an acceptance of the violence that comes with life can the pandaren continue to prosper. Pandaren society is, in many ways, compartmentalized. At their core, the pandaren treasure peace and creativity. Most pandaren are poets and singers, and the craftsmen of their culture are truly revered. The danger of their lives, however, has necessitated the evolution of a class of warriors to defend those ideals — it is these warriors, from the simplest pikeman to the great shodo-pans, who ensure that pandaren culture survives.
Pandaren are known for their art of acupressure. Acupressure points such as the one in the right arm, can quicken the heart rate and cause the muscles to contract. Other points on the left arm can calm a user down if needed.
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.
What may surprise those who encounter the pandaren most, however, is their unabashed love for beer. Most religious and meditative people on Kalimdor consider alcohol a drink for the masses, a drink whose properties cloud the mind and block contemplation of the gods. The pandaren laugh at this notion. The ideal day for a pandaren begins with meditation and ends with a good drink with a better friend. They love encountering folk who live life to the fullest; they enjoy adventuring; and they are happiest in a tavern swapping stories and buying rounds for the house. Those lucky enough to meet a pandaren and share in his ale will undoubtedly find it to be the best beer they have ever tasted. The down side to this, of course, is that they will no longer enjoy Kalimdor-brewed beer as much. The pandaren are an old and refined culture with many traditions and arts important to their way of life, none of which have influenced the pandaren so thoroughly as the art of brewing. Drink is in every aspect of pandaren life; and because of the craft involved, a tradition of brewing potent fluids has become a cultural institution for the gentle people of Pandaria. The pandaren brewmasters travel the world for new and exotic ingredients and recipes. These affable yet deadly warriors practice a unique combination of healing arts and martial skill. With their knowledge of alchemy, potion-making and brewery, the pandaren have created superb ales and liquors that have become a welcome drink at any adventurers table either before or after a battle. The brews hold magical properties, as plants, berries, and fungi that harbor powerful spirits are often included as ingredients in whiskeys, ales and other alcoholic beverages. Distilling these ingredients focuses potent magic.
Little is more revered in the pandaren culture than brewing. These refined soldiers consider brewing as important to their culture as art and traditional ritual. In fact, many of their society’s arts and rituals would suffer if not for the brewing. Although various kinds of alcohol are in every part of life for the pandaren, they are far from a drunken society. Because of the love of drink, the tradition of brewing is considered one of the noblest pursuits, and they revere their brewmasters like other societies honor their priests. The brews, for the most part, carry the hallowed names of the original brewmasters who created them. Chou Ling Sing, Hong Liu, and the brewmaster known only as Xiang are the three most revered brewmasters, and they had a frequent and friendly rivalry. Chou and Hong put their names on their brews, whilst Xiang preferred hers to go anonymous — if she named none of them, she could claim all that did not bear the other two’s names. With these masters long dead, their present day protégés carry on the traditions. Pandaren brewmasters go on long quests in order to find new and exotic ingredients for their drinks, looking for herbs and ingredients to create new recipes. The brewmasters are affable and kind, yet deadly soldiers if crossed. They are proficient in both healing arts and their own form of martial arts. With their knowledge of alchemy, potion-making, and brewing, pandaren have created superb ales and spirits that have become a welcome drink at any adventurer’s table.
Rarely a pandaren overimbibes, and suffers the next day. Hangovers can happen, and a pandaren cannot afford to be knocked down with a pounding head and a queasy stomach. There is beer to brew and questing to do and martial arts to practice, none of which are easy when suffering. Pandaren parables say that if someone pulls you, instead of resisting, you should push. So in the same light, instead of fighting the hangovers, pandaren drink the Chou’s Hair of the Dog Ale, a deep red amber ale that has a light taste and leaves the head feeling clear and sharp. While beer is treasured in pandaren culture, whiskey is revered. It represents health and good fortitude and even luck. Pandaren brewmaster philosophy says that the best whiskey can make a pandaren strong enough to face an army. The particular vintage named Wounded Warrior Whiskey has amazing healing properties, plus causes the wounded warrior to become as strong as a lion after drinking.
They take the same stance regarding their martial arts as they do every other part of their lives. They use what works, perfecting it with terrifying results, and they don't use what doesn't work. If an injured leg won't allow the pandaren to kick very high, he gives up that kind of kick and perfects another. If up against a massive opponent, the pandaren will not waste time trying to match strength with strength, as the opponent represents the rock in the river to them. They find a clever way to best their opponent while expending the least strength necessary. They are formidable monks, following their philosophies to the letter and perfecting their martial arts as they see fit. Even the lowliest pandaren is capable of defending himself, using the fangs and stubby but needle-like claws that are a natural part of his body. All pandaren can use these natural weapons to fight and hunt, as pandaren grow up playing rough and tumble games meant to hone their abilities while learning the admonishments of their elders that such things are a last resort. In general, pandaren prefer to use the weapons they craft, feeling that their natural weapons hearken back to a primal time. Pandaren are bipedal creatures, but their pseudo-ursine forms allow them to move at tremendous speed on four limbs. When a pandaren drops down to all fours, his speed increases greatly. He must have nothing in his hands to use quadrupedal movement.
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 naming practices are similar to those of humans: each pandaren has a given name and a surname. The names themselves, of course, are different.
- Male Names: Chen, Jinto, Kesha, Masha, Mushi, Polo, Sinjo.
- Female Names: Huan, Jiang, Lian, Mei, Ping, Shui, Zi.
- Surnames: Earthsong, Greentouch, Honeybrew, Lightgrace, Reedwine, Sweetbarrow, Swiftpaw.
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.
The clever pandaren craftsmen have learned to make the most of the sparse building materials found in their environs. Steel is a rare commodity; in fact, most of what steel they have is left from bygone days in central Kalimdor, reforged and reshaped by craftsmen. The rest of what they have is usually taken from the weapons of enemies. As such, the pandaren have developed weapons and armors that rely on very little steel. In fact, only the shaktani warblades are made wholly of steel.
- Shaktani Warblade
- Shaktani are considered masterwork weapons — It is simply not possible to create the elegant curving blades and precise balance of the weapon without extensive and painstaking craftsmanship.
- Pikeman Armor
- Crafted of bambus backed with leather and woven with iron-beaded wire, the heavier pikeman armor is meant for front-line battle. It tends to be heavy, allowing for greater protection for the warrior.
- Wardancer Armor
- Likewise crafted of bambus, wardancer armor is similar to pikeman armor, although rare steel-silk replaces the wire and tiny hollow steel orbs replace the iron beads (the orbs make an echoing sound when struck). The armor itself is lighter, but it allows a greater freedom of movement, essential to the wardance.
Notable RPG pandaren
Others; Mojo Dark-Ale, Sinjo Honeybrew, Kesha Wildbarley, Tatsa Sweetbarrow, Mushi Ale-Hearth, Jinto Reedwine, Masha Storm-Stout, and Polo Barrel-keg.
Notes and trivia
- The name pandaren is derived from the words "panda" and rén (Chinese character: 人) , the Mandarin Chinese word for "person". Literally translated, pandaren means "panda-people".
- Pandaren philosophy points indirectly at the Chinese martial Tai-Chi because of its soft gentle nature and powerful attacks. The style also shows the same philosophy as the pandaren religion. However, due to the drinking, it could lean towards the infamous style of Drunken Monkey Fist.
- Some of their culture is much like the Chinese religion of Daoism.
- An interview with Samwise Didier in 2009 on how the pandaren came to be can be found here. (Due to community site updates the interview has been lost; Wowpedia mirror)
- A race of more feral looking pandaren live in Northrend. A few of the more bestial-appearing pandaren were in the command of a pandaren brewmaster, under Garithos' Elite Guard, to try to stop the blood elves & naga from fleeing to Outland.
- Pandaren have a lifespan roughly comparable to humans.
- In case you were wondering, yes, they do like to eat bamboo.
- During the development of Mists of Pandaria and Pearl of Pandaria, the pandaren were originally depicted with green eyes, but Blizzard artists later learned that green eyes are believed to be a sign of demonic corruption among certain Asian cultures. In the interest of being sensitive to those cultures, the pandaren's eyes were changed to gold.
- A pandaren plushie was available at BlizzCon 2013.
- Pandaren children have the same animations as ogres and wildkin.
- Even though the shao'din concept is only mentioned in the non-canonical Warcraft RPG, several pandaren clans concept arts were made for Mists of Pandaria. They were replaced by monk and priest orders serving the four August Celestials. It is possible that these clans were scrapped to make the pandaren society more peaceful and united to fit with the story of the expansion pack.
- Judging by their similar appearances, pandaren could be distant cousins of the furbolgs (and, by extension, the jalgar). When Aysa Cloudsinger, Jojo Ironbrow and a pandaren adventurer first enter Stormwind City, Marty mistakes them for gnolls while Josie claims that they are furbolgs. Similarly, Elloric mentions that his parents once spoke of a "strange, furry folk" that lived far to the south of night elven lands prior to the Sundering, but that he always assumed they were speaking of smarter furbolgs. It's possible that pandaren are descended from furbolgs or jalgar that migrated south and came into contact with the magical waters of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, much like the murlocs that evolved into the first jinyu.
- In the non-canonical Warcraft RPG, Brann believes pandaren are related to furbolgs due to both being big and bearlike. He theorizes that furbolgs may have descended from pandaren who settled in Northrend, forgot their heritage, and became more brutish. Or that pandaren may have descended from furbolgs who settled in Pandaria and became more contemplative. He admits that nobody knows, but wouldn't be surprised if the two races were related.
- World of Warcraft
Ji Firepaw, a male pandaren.
Aysa Cloudsinger, a female pandaren.
Hao, a pandaren boy.
Aerial, a pandaren girl.
Pandaren model for the intended The Burning Crusade Alliance player race, shown at BlizzCon 2011.
"Balance" by Samwise Didier.
Fan art of Ji Firepaw by Kan Liu, later used as an official representation of a generic pandaren.
- Warcraft III
Geomancer concept art.
Wardancer concept art.
A pandaren easter egg in a wallpaper by Samwise Didier.
Original pandaren brewmaster concept art, with Japanese elements.
- Fan art
Pandaren fanart disguised as a "leak" in The Burning Crusade.
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