The sha (known as ikk to the hozen) are physical manifestations of negative emotions — such as doubt, despair, fear, hatred, or anger — found in Pandaria. These malevolent spirits were spawned from the essence of the Old God Y'Shaarj after it was slain by the titan Aman'Thul and its remains fell back on the land that would later be called Pandaria.
For thousands of years, the sha lay relatively dormant below Pandaria, but the arrival of the Alliance, the Horde and their war on Pandaria's shores caused the sha to once again rise up to threaten the land. However, since the Heart of Y'Shaarj was drained of its last remaining power during the Siege of Orgrimmar, the sha will eventually cease to be.
When the titans and their armies fought the Black Empire, Aman'Thul had to slay the seven-headed Old God named Y'Shaarj by tearing it out of the planet's crust and ripping it apart. However, its remains fell back on the land that would one day become known as Pandaria, and its essence would spawn the sha. Due to the efforts of the pandaren Song to spread peaceful and harmonious teachings in the years following the pandaren revolution, the sha mostly lay dormant within Pandaria for many thousands of years, with only the lesser sha known to have ever manifested at this time.
Ten thousand years ago, Shaohao, the last pandaren emperor, sought to save Pandaria from the impending Great Sundering. To protect his people, Shaohao undertook a grand quest to strip away his own negative emotions. He succeeded, and the doubt, anger, fear and still more that he plucked from himself was imprisoned beneath the earth. But it did not lie still. It seeped into the very land Shaohao hoped to protect. In the heart of Pandaria, Shaohao's darkness – the Sha – waited, feeding off every harsh word, angry fist or pang of despair.
The pandaren have trained themselves in compassion, patience, and love of life in order to limit their contribution to the power of the sha, but with the arrival of violent outsiders on Pandaria, all their care may be for naught. It is not clear if the sha have an agenda, but there is no doubt that they exist in disharmony with life. Wherever they lurk, they bring and delight in discord and death in a cycle that seems difficult for even the greatest heroes to end. Swords cannot slash doubt. Armor cannot deflect hatred.
Unwary mortals can also become possessed by negative sha energy, becoming embodiments of pure anger or fear. Individuals turn black and white and may gain other sha-like features such as sha arms or masks. It is possible to reverse sha transformation in the beginning stages, as Rell Nightwind and Nazgrim were both possessed but saved from such a fate by Taran Zhu. It is also possible for an individual to completely transform into a sha, like Ga'trul and Doren do.
The sha maintain a very big presence in the Dread Wastes, the homeland of the mantid race. Due to being possessed by the Sha of Fear, the mantid queen Grand Empress Shek'zeer initiated the mantid swarm a decade too early, and many of the sacred giant kypari trees of the wastes have begun dying due to being infested with sha energy.
Recent developments in the Alliance-Horde war have led to attempts to harness the sha as a weapon against the opposing force, unaware of the potential danger it poses to its very users. After Garrosh Hellscream arrived in Pandaria he began experimenting with the sha he found in the mountains of the north, believing that the sha could strengthen his soldiers. The results, however, were quite the opposite. His troops began erupting into random violence, and it was later revealed that the sha control those who try to use it directly, rather than the other way round.
After the last of Y'Shaarj's power was consumed by Garrosh in the Siege of Orgrimmar, the Wild God Yu'lon stated that the sha would eventually fade from existence. However, some sha remnants still exist at Shado-Pan Monastery during the third invasion of the Burning Legion.
The sha's strength is mostly determined by their size; the larger the manifestation the more powerful they have become. In World of Warcraft three models are used to represent them: lesser weak ones, medium-strong ones, and large powerful ones. The latter are the 'main' sha aspects of negative emotions.
Most of the sha and the energies associated with them are monochromatic, the exceptions being the Sha of Fear, which is a mixture of dark purple and red, and the Sha of Pride and its associated spawns, which are more blueish in tone rather than black or gray.
The sha minions created directly by the Heart of Y'Shaarj (both inside and outside his realm) are a bit more violet in tone in addition to their original monochromatic forms, signifying their infusion with the Old God's power.
- Sha of Anger - A world boss found in Kun-Lai Summit, respawning every 15 minutes after being killed.
- Sha of Despair - A quest mob in the Temple of the Red Crane located in the Krasarang Wilds.
- Sha of Doubt - A boss in the Temple of the Jade Serpent located in the Jade Forest. Archnemesis of Yu'lon, the Jade Serpent.
- Sha of Fear - A boss in the Terrace of Endless Spring, located in the Veiled Stair, this Sha also has corrupted the majority of the Mantid, including Grand Empress Shek'zeer.
- Sha of Hatred - A quest mob in the Townlong Steppes, also confronted indirectly, possessing Taran Zhu in Shado-Pan Monastery in Kun-Lai Summit.
- Sha of Pride - A boss in the Siege of Orgrimmar. Referred to as the most insidious sha, and the cause of the mist around Pandaria. It was released along with the power of the Heart of Y'Shaarj upon the Vale of Eternal Blossoms by Garrosh Hellscream.
- Sha of Violence - A boss in the Shado-Pan Monastery located in the Kun-Lai Summit. Imprisoned by the Shado-Pan, he is eventually freed from his cage and defeated.
As a companion pet
- has a chance to drop from the Sha of Pride in Siege of Orgrimmar on Raid Finder difficulty.
- has a chance to drop from the Sha of Pride on Normal, Heroic and Mythic difficulty.
- has a chance to drop from Grand Empress Shek'zeer in Heart of Fear.
- is rewarded from .
Notes and trivia
- The pandaren refer to them as the "breaths of Y'Shaarj".
- According to Nat Pagle, spinefish, one of Pandaria's deadliest predators, are malformed abominations created by the sha's presence.
- Six emotions of the sha are mentioned in The Warlord and the Monk as the mogu turned against each other: "War waged before the temple as the mogu destroyed themselves, unleashing the full weight of their doubt, anger, fear, hatred, violence and despair."
- The sha are of a similar nature to the trolls' loa in that both embody the darker aspects of intelligent nature.
- The sha seemingly produce "Void Flames".
- Ironically, sha is the draenei word for "light".
- Most sha are classified as elementals, though some are marked as demons.
- details the use of hozen masks to exorcise the sha, an element that was left out of the animated web series The Burdens of Shaohao. This is due to the story being an in-universe legend interpreted differently by each storyteller, with the animated version being Lorewalker Cho's interpretation. Beyond that, the masks "just didn't work" for the animated series. The tale of the hozen masks is at least partially true.
- According to the concept art, the warlock tier 14 set Sha-skin regalia is made from stitched together pieces of sha skin bound by talismans to prevent the sha from breaking loose.
- In the Descent into Madness in Ulduar, there are stained-glass windows resembling the sha. During a developer chat, it was mentioned that they were not meant to be the sha and it was a "happy coincidence".
- Based on the poor vendor trash that they usually drop (, , etc.), sha are made of mist and bone.
- The lesser sha is based on the Fleshbeast model, and the medium sha is based on the unbound elemental models. However, the large sha model is a unique skeleton.
- Priests can make their appear as a lesser sha with .
- Until patch 5.3.0 there were only six known 'main' sha, though there were seven heads of Y'Shaarj. This led to the speculation that there is another sha somewhere. Dave Kosak said in an interview that "The seven heads of Y'Shaarj breathed out the ... Seven Burdens, although that was from an early draft of the story, we really only see six sha in the game ... which have to do with the Burdens of Shaohao." In patch 5.3.0 the final sha was revealed to be the Sha of Pride.
- The sha were loosely inspired by Mark Gibbons's research into feng shui, a Chinese form of geomancy. In feng shui, sha is a toxic form of energy that is believed to cause negative emotions, misfortune, and illness. It is the negative counterpart to chi; while chi is channeled as a positive force, sha must be dispersed.
- Sha (煞, shà) is Chinese for "evil spirit".
- The author of the wrote about how they were tormented by loa, hungry for blood and hate, who talked to them and told them to give up. It is possible that they were in fact sha.
- Seething Hate, a shadowy fleshbeast-like creature rarely found at Vordrassil's Heart, Vordrassil's Limb or Vordrassil's Tears, resembles the sha, but was likely spawned from Yogg-Saron's corruption.
- A type of aberration spawned by the Emerald Nightmare bears a great resemblance to lesser sha. It is unclear if the two types of creatures are connected or if it is simply a case of model reuse.
- The sha bear a strong resemblance to the Spirits and Avatars of Vengeance created by night elf wardens. Both are described as beings of shadow and are created from a person's negative feelings; in the specific case of the Avatar of Vengeance, vendetta.
Essence of Corruption a horned sha.
- ^ Dave Kosak on Twitter. Retrieved on 2017-03-25. “Sha is aimless breath of a dead god. Klaxxi worship the god, hate the breath. Mogu kill the god, use the breath.”
- ^ a b Mists of Pandaria Press Tour. MMO-Champion (2012-03-19). Retrieved on 2012-03-19.
- ^ a b c
- ^ a b c Best Buy Live Chat
- ^ Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 89
- ^ The Emperor's Burden - Part 2
- ^ The Emperor's Burden - Part 3
- ^ The Emperor's Burden - Part 4
- ^ The Emperor's Burden - Part 5
- ^ The Emperor's Burden - Part 6
- ^ Mists of Pandaria Bestiary
- ^ Dread Wastes storyline
- ^ Patch 5.3 - Old Seer Emperor Shaohao
- ^ Stackpole, Michael A.. "7", Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde, 114. ISBN 978-1416-55067-9. “The sha are of a similar nature to your loa. They embody aspects of intelligent nature—the darker ones.”
- ^ Micky Neilson on Twitter. Retrieved on 2017-03-25. “From a lore perspective, different interpretations of the same legend. Beyond that, the masks just didn't work for Burdens.”
- ^ Dave Kosak on Twitter. Retrieved on 2017-03-25. “The "Burdens of Shaohao" is a legend. Every storyteller puts a different spin on it. The animated series is Lorewalker Cho's interpretation.”
- ^ But Wait! There's Lore! S5E01 : Dave Kosak & Chris Metzen
- ^ Patch 5.3 - Old Seer Emperor Shaohao
- ^ "Well, one of the things, when I was doing research, I read up about feng shui [...] The sha being the darker side of feng shui. Chi is the channeling of the positive energy, the sha is the dark stuff you try to disperse." - Mark Gibbons, BlizzCon 2011 World of Warcraft Art Panel