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Posts with tag Emperor-Shaohao

Know Your Lore: Pandaria's mark on Warcraft lore

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

A little over two years ago, Mists of Pandaria was officially announced as the next expansion at BlizzCon to the puzzlement of many players. The idea of an expansion built around the pandaren race was a polarizing one -- some people loved the idea, and some were less than enthused. Although the pandaren were included in game lore as early as Warcraft III, there were those that scoffed at the idea of an expansion built around a race of giant talking bears, saying that they had no place in Warcraft at all. A year later, Mists was officially launched, and a little over a year after that, the events of Mists of Pandaria are wrapping up in a suitably dramatic conclusion.

And to the delight of many, myself included, this expansion has been anything but lighthearted and silly. Mists of Pandaria wasn't just a random expansion about giant talking bears, it was a revolution in the way that story and gameplay intertwine. While it may have had its faltering moments -- the inclusion of enough daily quests to make players dizzy among them -- the story took a life of its own, and the tale it told has definitely left its mark on future lore to come. Let's be clear, here: For a continent left cloaked in Mists for thousands of years, Pandaria has managed to work its way into the face of Warcraft lore in a manner that won't be forgotten, and has given us enough material to spur the story of the game for quite some time.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Reputation in review: Pandaria

Reputation in review Pandaria
Mists of Pandaria represents a dynamic change to how we look at reputation in World of Warcraft. While Cataclysm's reputations were all by and large flat dungeon grinds aided by the use of reputation tabards, reputation in Mists took a much different approach. In fact, it took many, many different approaches -- each reputation grind in Mists of Pandaria was slightly different from the next, with no two taking the exact same process to get to the end of the climb.

On the WoW Insider show, we've talked before about how this is likely a grand experiment on Blizzard's part -- one to see which aspects of grinding reputation players tend to take really well, and which could be happily left behind. I've reviewed quite a few of the reputation grinds in Pandaria myself over the course of the expansion, largely because I'm obsessed with filling all those green bars. But what about the big picture? What really worked with reputation grinding in Mists, and what deserves to be left in the dust?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: This Was All Necessary

Know Your Lore This Was All Necessary
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

You pandaren tried to bury your hate and your anger, but such power cannot be contained. It must be unleashed!
- Garrosh Hellscream to Taran Zhu


The more I think about it, the more I believe it. This was all going to happen, with or without the presence of the Horde or Alliance. In fact, the presence of those two warring forces may have ultimately saved Pandaria from complete destruction. When Garrosh Hellscream defeated Taran Zhu and hurled the Heart of Y'Shaarj into the waters of the vale, he mocked the Shado-Pan's leader first about the pandaren and their tendency to suppress violent emotion. It's an understandable tendency in a land where emotions like doubt, anger, fear, and hatred can give rise to the Sha, but it was a tendency mired in one crucial error - there was always one Sha who wasn't imprisoned when Emperor Shaohao freed himself of the burdens of the others. For over ten thousand years, Pandaria dwelled in isolation, believing itself special among all the places in the world, believing that it had nothing to gain and nothing to learn from the outside. And in its special exceptionalism, its beautiful but stagnant isolation, the people of Pandaria settled into an eternal and endless cycle that allowed nothing to change it.

But a thing that does not change is not alive.

It's painful to look upon the Vale of Eternal Blossoms after Garrosh's actions, to see the blasted, corrupted land where waters flowed freely, to see the destroyed and defiled beauty. Taran Zhu blamed all those who came from outside Pandaria, and he's not wrong - it is because, at long last the mists have parted and new peoples have entered Pandaria that the Vale was destroyed, just as it was because of the same outsiders and their foreign war that the Sha of Doubt erupted and the serpent pillar fell. Destruction had indeed followed in our wake.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore, TFH Edition: The haunting refrain of the Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore The haunting refrain of the Mists of Pandaria
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

This column had a different subject earlier today. I was going to talk about the Warchief situation leading into patch 5.4, as we'll be playing through that content on Tuesday. But as I was gathering screenshots of relevant questlines and information on my Alliance alt, I flew absently into the Vale of Eternal Blossoms and happened upon the above scene, coming to a full stop and simply sitting there as I took it all in. Refugees. Hundreds of them, happily filing into the Vale just after the gates were opened and talking excitedly about the golden valley that was certain to be a verdant new homeland for those that had suffered at the hands of the yaungol and Zandalari in Kun-Lai.

And it hit me like a particularly vicious kick to the gut. It's been so long since I unlocked the Vale and leveled through that content last year that I'd forgotten this idyllic little scene, before all the chaos erupts. You, the player, are the hero of all of these pandaren -- you are the one who fought back the yaungol, the Zandalari, and offered these people a glimmer of hope. You're the person that single-handedly convinced the August Celestials to open the gates of the Vale and offer refuge to those that had lost their homes in Kun-Lai.

And you're the one that allowed what's going to happen in patch 5.4.

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on how it happened. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore. Please note: There are some spoilers for patch 5.4 content in this post.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Patch 5.4 PTR: Shaohao reputation preview on Wowhead

Patch 54 PTR Shaohao reputation preview on Wowhead
You've heard about Shaohao, the last Emperor of Pandaria, and patch 5.4 brings us an Emperor Shaohao faction on the Timeless Isle. No, this isn't another painful series of daily quests you'll have to grind through: instead Emperor Shaohao faction will be gained by killing things on the Timeless Isle and offers vanity loot in exchange for Timeless Coins, which you also collect by killing things on the Timeless Isle.

For those hungry for more info, Wowhead has posted a guide to Emperor Shaohao reputation as it exists on the PTR. So check it out and be ready to dive into Timeless Isle grinding when patch 5.4 hits the live realms on September 10th.

Filed under: News items

Micky Neilson, Doug Gregory discuss The Burdens of Shaohao

Micky Neilson, Doug Gregory discuss The Burdens of Shaohao
The Burdens of Shaohao, a six-part series released earlier this month, was met with resounding praise across the board from players and devoted lore fans alike. The sweeping tale of the last Emperor of Pandaria was unlike anything we'd ever seen before from Blizzard -- a stunning, gorgeous piece of animated, narrative storytelling featuring artwork by Laurel Austin. While we've seen narrative tales in the form of cinematic-style storytelling, this is the first time we've seen anything of this nature.

We sat down with Lead Story Developer Micky Neilson and the director of Shaohao, Doug Gregory to discuss the piece and how exactly it all came to be. While we were originally supposed to have lead editor Lucas Merino on board as well, he was unable to attend the interview as he and his wife received a special gift shortly after the release of Shaohao -- a healthy baby boy! Despite Lucas' absence, we had a delightful time discussing the film, its development, and the possibility of future projects in the unique style of Shaohao.

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Filed under: Lore, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

The Burdens of Shaohao: The Sundering

The Burdens of Shaohao: The Sundering is now available on Blizzard's Youtube channel. In the final installment, Emperor Shaohao travels to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to comfort and protect his people from the devastating Sundering that is nearly upon them all -- yet as it turns out, there are still lessons for the Emperor to learn, and lessons for all of Pandaria as well. We all know how this story ends, having witnessed various accounts of the tale throughout Pandaria. But this interpretation puts a little more perspective behind the Emperor's final decision.

Now that the series is over, I'm wondering what you guys thought of the tale. Pandaria's stories certainly set themselves up wonderfully for interpretation in this fashion -- but I'm wondering if we'll see more tales of Azeroth in the future. I'd love to see the story of Andorhal told in this fashion, or the story of Tirion Fordring and Eitrigg. Or heck, any number of myriad tales from troll or kaldorei history, as they're both apt to have plenty of stories worth retelling. Or how about the stories of the draenei? We haven't heard much from them, it would be interesting to see the flight from Argus as told by a draenei storyteller, or even Velen himself. What do you guys think? What kind of stories would you like to see come out of this experiment?


Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

The Burdens of Shaohao Part Four: Anger

The Burdens of Shaohao Part Four: Anger takes young Emperor Shaohao in a new direction. Having found his trusted friend the Monkey King, Shaohao seeks to find an army -- at the heights of Kun Lai, in the Temple of the White Tiger. While there is certainly an army there waiting for him, there is also Xuen, the White Tiger to deal with. Will Shaohao get his army to fight the forces of the Burning Legion?

I've heard some say that this particular tale points to a return of the Burning Legion next expansion. As a reminder, The Burdens of Shaohao takes place on the cusp of the Sundering during the War of the Ancients. What we're viewing here are events from over 10,000 years ago -- this isn't current-day material, this is the story of how Pandaria came to be floating in the middle of nowhere, cloaked by mists.

Therefore, while the tale is certainly entertaining, the inclusion of the Burning Legion isn't really relevant to the story today. However, Wrathion's visions certainly have indicated something similar coming in the future, so who knows? Watch the video above, and don't forget to like it on Youtube and leave your comments if you like the content and you'd like to see more!

Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

The Burdens of Shaohao Part Three: Fear

The Burdens of Shaohao Part Three: Fear has debuted on Blizzard's official Youtube channel. In this installment, Shaohao faces the insidious Sha of Fear, and confronts an enemy that frightened both pandaren and mogu alike -- the mantid. Artist Laurel Austin's stunning visuals of the Dread Wastes and the mantid are incredibly dark and creepy, and really capture the off-putting feeling of the zone and its residents. I also absolutely love the illustrations of Niuzao. While I love the August Celestials, I always felt like Niuzao really didn't have the same depth of character as the other Celestials, so seeing him in this tale was a welcome addition.

Some of you have noted the differences between this tale and the scrolls we've read -- how there seems to be an absence of the mask portion of the tale told in game. While this is true, keep in mind that this is all ancient history that took place over 10,000 years ago. There are always bound to be several differing versions of the same tale, just due to the nature of the story being passed down for generations. Which version is the true one? For that, I suppose you'd have to ask Shaohao himself! Watch the video above, and don't forget to like it on Youtube and leave your comments if you like the content -- it's the best way to insure we'll see more of it.

Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

The Burdens of Shaohao Part Two: Despair

The Burdens of Shaohao Part Two: Despair is now available on Blizzard's official Youtube channel. Picking up where the last episode left off, Emperor Shaohao continues his search for the Monkey King, this time traveling to Krasarang Wilds. Once again, Shaohao is faced with the Sha, and once again he looks to Pandaria for answers -- but will he find the Monkey King?

Blizzard really wasn't kidding with how fast these shorts would be released! And, according to Lead Story Developer Micky Neilson on Twitter, this isn't the last we'll see of animated shorts in this fashion. Honestly, whether it's more Pandaria tales, or tales of other major impact in Azeroth, I don't really care -- the way these are being presented is something new, unique, and incredibly beautiful. Watch the video above, and don't forget to like it on Youtube and leave your comments if you want to see more.


Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

The Burdens of Shaohao Part One: Doubt

Hot on the heels of the prelude released this weekend, Blizzard has just released the next official installment in The Burdens of Shaohao. Part one of the tale follows chapters three and five of the in-game book, The Emperor's Burden. Reading the complete text gives you a nice bit of lore, and the quest The Seven Burdens of Shaohao. However, there's a distinct difference between reading an in-game book and watching an animated version of it -- the gorgeous artwork and animation really brings the tale to life.

What I really like about these animated shorts is that they expand on what we've already been told -- rather than a simple seven days of fighting, we get to see exactly how Shaohao defeated the Sha of Doubt. I'm hoping that as the tale goes on, we'll get more of these little details to help fill the story in. It'd be great to see exactly what happened when Shaohao pulled Pandaria away from the rest of the world in detail. As it turns out, we won't have long to wait -- according to Lead Story Developer Micky Neilson on Twitter, we should see the rest of the story released over the course of this week.

This is a pretty new direction for the Blizzard lore department -- we've never seen animated works like this before. If you like the tale and the methods used, I'd suggest letting Blizzard know by liking the video on Youtube and leaving a comment. Who knows, it may get us more of these delightful little pieces in the future!

Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Blizzard introduces The Burdens of Shaohao Prelude: The Vision

Do you guys remember that really great video series featuring Wrathion at the end of Cataclysm, the one that explained the legendary quest chain and served to introduce the errant son of Deathwing? It seems that Blizzard has decided to produce another short series for Mists of Pandaria along the same lines, starting with the video above, The Burdens of Shaohao Prelude: The Vision. The dramatic tale is told by none other than Lorewalker Cho and accompanied by beautifully animated illustrations by Laurel Austin that tell the tale of Shaohao's remarkable journey as the last Emperor of Pandaria.

According to Blizzard, this is the first of a six-part series that will tell the tale from beginning to end. And unlike the Wrathion montage from Cataclysm, this features original art rather than in-game footage, which only adds to the whole flavor of the tale. It may not be World of Warcraft: The Animated Series, but it's a really lovely, vibrant way to introduce some of the most important lore in Mists of Pandaria. Take a look at the video above to watch the beginnings of the tale, and stay tuned for the rest of the series as it's released.


Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Taran Zhu and the Shado-Pan

Know Your Lore Taran Zhu and the ShadoPan
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

They are the Watchers on the Wall, the Sword in the Shadows. They are the Shado-Pan, Pandaria's fiercest warriors and arguably its darkest residents. Charged with restraining and controlling the sha -- vile creatures born of negative emotion -- the Shado-Pan have protected Pandaria from destruction for centuries. And although their numbers may be small in comparison to the rest of Pandaria's population, the Shado-Pan have succeeded in that mission ... until now.

Taran Zhu, leader of the Shado-Pan, holds the distinction of having what is likely the most tumultuous run as leader of the Shado-Pan -- and a great deal of the troubles he has had to deal with directly involve us. Oddly, Taran Zhu is one of the more contentious of Pandaria's new lore figures -- yet his actions are no different than one would expect, from his place in pandaren society.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The best of Tin-Foil Hats

Know Your Lore The best of TinFoil Hats
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

A funny thing happened this week. For the past two weeks, I've been working on Tinfoil Hat Editions of KYL -- fun, speculative posts that attempt to predict just what the heck is going on with the Warcraft universe. I was, in fact, working up to a super big reveal of an a-ha moment I'd had a couple of weeks ago regarding the nature of the mists surrounding Pandaria and what exactly happened to Emperor Shaohao.

Except that I was preempted, for want of a better word. The PTR hit for patch 5.3, and in all of the datamining of the sound files, that pet theory I'd been working with was addressed directly. On the one hand, it was nice to see that I'd been dead on and correct with what I was assuming. On the other, it meant I had half of an article written that I couldn't really publish. ... oops?

So Adam Holisky suggested in his infinite wisdom that this week, I look back on some old TFH editions of Know Your Lore -- a best-of recap of some of the wilder things I've pointed out. It seems as good a time as any!

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Azeroth

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition Azeroth
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Last week, we took a minor plunge into the idea of Azeroth as a fully-connected entity, and what the implications of that entailed. But there's more to the story than just a matter of connectivity. We know everything is connected. But what we really don't know at this point is why. What is the purpose of Azeroth? What were the Titans thinking? Why did they choose to forgo re-originating the world after discovering the Old Gods? Why have they gone silent, ignoring Azeroth for thousands of years?

Why does Azeroth exist?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on what is to come as a result. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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