- "For Pandaria!" - A common Pandaren battle cry.
The enigmatic pandaren are one of the most elusive races of Azeroth. Native to the land of Pandaria, they are a strong and hearty people with a universal attachment to nature and a passion for all it offers. Many Pandaren are also expert brewers, and few members of their race possess anything less than a love affair with strong ales and alcohols.
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 pandas. 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.
The most famous of these warriors is Chen Stormstout, who assisted the half-orc Rexxar and the Horde after the fall of the Burning Legion. No one knows what became of him afterwards, but several of his empty kegs have been found scattered around the Barrens.
Pandaren resemble a cross between panda bears and humans; they are not dissimilar in appearance to furbolgs, though they are less feral. Pandaren average 5 1/2 feet in height, and make assured and precise movements. Pandaren smile.
The humanoid looks vaguely similar to a bear, with a stocky build and blunt ursine face. Its short-furred pelt is white with black markings around its eyes, although some have red and white markings whilst others have brown and white. As they age Pandaren usually lose their red/brown/black fur and it becomes grey.
They can run on either two or four "legs".
Pandaren hail from distant island Empire of Pandaria, which no non-pandaren has ever seen. A splinter group of pandaren arrived on Kalimdor in the aftermath of the Third War and has established itself in the Stonetalon region of the Barrens. Pandaren have arrived only recently in the west.
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 shado-pans, who ensure that pandaren culture survives. Most Pandaren don't belong to one specific clan. Most of the Pandaren at the academy are regular with special gifts for fighting.
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, worshipping 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.
In addition to both shamanistic and nature-based spiritualism, the pandaren also seem to practice and have an understanding of the Holy Light that is used by the dwarves, humans, blood elves, and so on. They, like some practitioners of the faith, believe in peaceful resolutions at all times. Their clerics emphasize the control of negative emotions like fear, sorrow, anger, fury, or any other form of emotional turmoil. The clerics of this race do in fact refer to the power they wield as "the Light," using it in both greetings and goodbyes as evident by the NPC Yalia Sagewhisper of the Shado-Pan. She often uses terms such as "May the Light guide you." and "Be blessed by the Light." Whether or not the Pandaren have quickly inherited and taken to the Light by way of its introduction by the Horde and Alliance, or if it was a part of their society ages before the mists had lifted has yet to be determined. , upon joining the Alliance, poses questions that suggest the pandaren of the Wandering Isle are unfamiliar with the Light.
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.
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, during 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.
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 shado-pan. Each shado-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.
- Chen Stormstout
- Mojo Stormstout
- Chou Ling Sing
- Hong Liu
- Shinjo Greatpaw
- Master Shang Xi
- Ji Firepaw
- Aysa Cloudsinger
- Li Li
- Shaohao Emperor
- Taran Zhu
Others: Mojo Dark-Ale, Sinjo Honeybrew, Kesha Wildbarley, Tatsa Sweetbarrow, Mushi Ale-Hearth, Jinto Reedwine, Masha Storm-Stout, and Polo Barrel-keg.
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.
- Male Names: Bobo, Gai Lan, Han, Haohan, He, Hei Mung, Kang, Kol, Kun, Leva, Lo, Ren, Shang, Yan, etc.
- Female Names: Anji, Chunhua, Fela, Ginsa, Injar'i, Jian, La, Lin, Meila, Nan, Ni, Ningna, Rin, Suchi, Sun, Sungshin, etc.
- Surnames: Arroweye, Autumnlight, Blackbrow, Bramblestaff, Cloudfall, Darkthorn, Darkwheel, Firetongue, Flowerbloom, Gentlepaw, Goldendraft, Greenfield, Ironpaw, Lakebloom, Longpaw, Mudclaw, Softfoot, Stonetoe, Tenderpaw, Thunderfoot, Whiteblossom, Whitebrow, Windfur, etc.
- Pandarens respect shamans because of their similar beliefs.
- Chen Stormstout helped Rexxar on his travels after Rexxar helped him.
- Pandaren are agile and physically tough.
- Pandaren can see twice as far as human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight and similar conditions of poor illumination. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
- Pandaren are bipedal creatures, but their pseudo-ursine forms allow them to move at tremendous speed on four limbs.
- Pandaren can fight effectively with their teeth and claws.
- Pandaren are as smart as humans.
- Pandarens are bouncy, which means that thanks to body fat, when they fall, they bounce and receive half the damage that other races would take.
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.
Lore and RPG classes
Pandaren classes were not defined in the same way as those of the other mortal races of Azeroth, due to their distinct culture and practices. Nevertheless, there are certain roles within pandaren society that are often defined thus:
Pandaren and Furbolgs
Pandaren are distantly related to furbolgs. In fact, a race of more feral looking pandaren live in Northrend and appear to be in league with the Wendigos there. 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. These pandaren are referenced in Alliance & Horde Compendium as having joined up with dwarves of Bael Modan in order to stop the blood elves and naga.
References in World of Warcraft prior to Mists of Pandaria
- : Refers to the secret pandaren brewmaster hero Chen Stormstout who aided Rexxar in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.
- An NPC child, , who walks around Stormwind and fishes with two other NPCs tells unbelievable stories, one of them includes him saying "It's true! People have seen them! Pandaren really do exist!"
- A Pandaren companion called Pandaren Monk is available at Blizzard Store.
- The Bag of Fishing Treasures (reward from Marcia Chase's fishing dailies) has a chance of dropping an item called Fantasy Portrait. The item's icon is a picture of a Pandaren's face, the art of which was created for the 2005 April Fool's Pandaren Xpress.
- See also: Samwise Didier
A history of rumors
The pandaren started as a creation of the Blizzard artist Samwise Didier and an April Fool's joke, but they got a massive response from Warcraft fans. In the first BlizzCast episode launched on Jan. 10, 2008, Samwise recalled the process to the creation of the Pandaren April Fool's page: "But so we put that up in there and everyone was like “Oh my God! A PANDA RACE? That’s kind of cool!” And I’m like “Are you kidding me, really? You want to see pandas in Warcraft III or whatever?”" Soon, they were included in the Warcraft III expansion and Chris Metzen began to write them into the game lore. Due to this popularity, pandaren were rumored to be the new playable Alliance race to be introduced in the Burning Crusade expansion.
Their possible appearance in WoW has been hinted at multiple times by Blizzard. Katricia: "Maybe they will be found in the beta or retail version of the game and maybe they will be granted a special place in an expansion. Just imagine how exciting it will be to find one!" and "pandaren will not be a playable race ... at this time. Will they make cameo appearances in the game as NPCs? Some things are best left unanswered I think :)"
Supposedly, a gaming magazine was brought to Blizzard's offices in the fall of 2005 to view the Burning Crusade expansion pack for the first time. There were dozens of posters and artwork depicting the pandaren as the new Alliance race. This rumor goes on to suggest the race was then canceled for reasons concerning "pandas being a sacred animal" in China, or with the "political problems [associated with a] Japanese/Chinese hybrid", in WC3 beta, pandaren wore samurai armor, but this was soon fixed. Other gaming sources stated that when "mentioning the ex-April-Fool's-joke Pandaren Empire to Blizzard staff got a surprisingly cagey response..." Blizzard has yet to confirm or deny these rumors directly.
In any case, Blizzard revealed in May 2006 that the new Alliance race for the expansion was to be the draenei, thus rendering most rumors incorrect. Nevertheless, Katricia's comments still leave some possibility for a future appearance in World of Warcraft.
Another persistent rumor regarding their non-inclusion in the game is that there is a law in China prohibiting any depiction of violence against pandas, even anthropomorphic pandas, even in a video game. This rumor is, in fact, baseless. Not only does such a law not exist, but there is at least one Chinese MMO that does feature both PvP and a playable race of pandas.
During the discussion panel at Blizzcon 2009, it was stated that the Pandaren have not had an increased presence in the game due to legal issues with China.
Mists of Pandaria
This section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.
Pandaren were announced as the new playable race for the Mists of Pandaria expansion at BlizzCon 2011. Pandaren can choose between Horde and Alliance after their "training" ends upon the Wandering Isle.
- The name pandaren is derived from the words "panda" and "rén", the Pinyin 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.
- The pandaren originally had a Japanese appearance, using samurai-style armor and weapons. After a negative reaction by many in China, who regard that animal as their national heirloom (indeed, wild pandas only exist in China), they were redesigned with Chinese-style clothing.
- A recent interview, with Samwise, on how the pandaren came to be can be found here.
It may suggest a future appearance into the World of Warcraft.
- ^ WarCraft 3, Frozen Throne
- ^ a b c d e f Dark Factions, 16
- ^ Dark Factions, 204
- ^ a b c d e Manual of Monsters, 76
- ^ Alliance & Horde Compendium, 9
- ^ Alliance & Horde Compendium, 21
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 360
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 368
- ^ a b Alliance & Horde Compendium, 21
- ^ Lands of Conflict, 123
- ^ Alliance & Horde Compendium, 74
- ^ More Magic and Mayhem, 182
- ^ a b Alliance & Horde Compendium, 75
- ^ Manual of Monsters, 131
- ^ More Magic and Mayhem, 135
- ^ More Magic and Mayhem, 137
- ^ More Magic and Mayhem, 147
- ^ Alliance & Horde Compendium, 74-75
- ^ Alliance & Horde Compendium, 73-74
- ^ a b Alliance & Horde Compendium, 22
- ^ Dark Factions, 181
- ^ Dark Factions, 182
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 376
- ^ a b c d e Manual of Monsters, 78
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment. Pandaren. Classic.Battle.net.
- ^ Elizabeth Harper 2007-09-05. AGDC: How to rule the World (of Warcraft). WoW Insider. Retrieved on 2007-10-10.
- ^ fewyn 2009-12-16. Interview With Samwise: Pandaren Brewmaster Deluxe Figure. Wowhead News.