Maybe you're in the beta, or maybe you aren't -- either way, it's hard to avoid information coming from the beta servers. If you're a roleplayer, spoiler information is one of those double-edged swords. Sure, it's nice to know what's coming ... but at the same time, you don't want advance information leaching into your roleplay, especially if your friends and fellow roleplayers are avoiding spoilers themselves.
Thankfully, today is spoiler-free -- well, unless you count some truly gorgeous screenshots of Pandaria's scenery as spoilers, that is. While Pandaria doesn't really appear to have a neutral capital hub at this point in the beta, most of Pandaria's towns and villages are decidedly neutral. This makes them ideal roleplay hubs for both Alliance and Horde and offers something we haven't seen since the days of Dalaran: locations where both factions can roleplay out in the open and interact. Given the rising tensions between Alliance and Horde, it's an excellent chance to grab some compelling roleplay.
Plus, did I mention Pandaria is gorgeous? Seriously, you guys, once you visit, you'll never want to leave. Let's look at just a few of the locations Pandaria has to offer that are ripe for roleplay.
Nestled on the eastern edge of the Jade Forest, the Arboretum is a quiet and soothing getaway for characters. Vivid pink trees dot the landscape, their blossoms covering the ground. Small wooden bridges arch delicately over the many waterways, and peaceful pandaren snooze in the shade. The whole place exudes serenity and calm, which may be why the pandaren chose this area to raise the Cloud Serpent mounts that players will eventually get to ride.
For roleplayers, this place is an excellent getaway from both the destruction the rest of Azeroth is still recovering from and the frantic and sometimes chaotic events going on in Pandaria proper. Just north of the Temple of the Jade Serpent, the Arboretum is a beautiful, quiet, and ultimately serene spot for roleplayers to chat, watch the Cloud Serpent races, and simply forget about the troubles of the world. The Arboretum also includes its own flight path, making it a simple and quick trip.
This charming pandaren village is nestled in the eastern half of the Valley of the Four Winds. Home to some of Pandaria's best chefs and farmers, Halfhill is a fairly quiet village full of buildings begging to be explored. Halfhill is also the location of Pandaria's cooking trainers and a quest hub for players on the way through the Valley of the Four Winds. This of course means that there's bound to be a lot of foot traffic through here, making it an excellent location for roleplayers to set up shop.
Surrounded by the verdant fields of Pandaria's finest farmers, Halfhill offers the kind of breathtaking greenery we haven't seen since the days of Nagrand. Unlike Halaa, there's no need to fight over who gets this central location; both Alliance and Horde are welcome here. Like the Arboretum, Halfhill includes a flight path, making it easy to return to once you've discovered it. Whether your character is just looking to pick up some culinary skills from Pandaria's best chefs or simply partake in the cuisine and the excellent local brews, Halfhill is a bustling central hub that is certain to appeal.
Speaking of brews, perhaps your character is more interested in grabbing a pint or six and taking a break from the rigors of travel to simply drink their cares away. If this is the case, you'll want to hang your hat at The Drunken Hozen, a tavern located in Dawn's Blossom, a neutral town in the central portion of the Jade Forest. One thing is made blatantly clear the moment you step into the tavern: The pandaren know how to drink. Heavily. This tavern is an ideal location for lighthearted events, drinking contests, and bouts of enthusiastic storytelling.
The Drunken Hozen is a two-story tavern, so even if the lower floor is filled to the brim, there are still the upper levels to explore and hang out in. Dawn's Blossom is an active quest hub, so roleplayers should see plenty of traffic and activity bustling through. Dawn's Blossom also contains a flight path for easy travel purposes. With friendly citizens and endless amounts of tasty brews, The Drunken Hozen is the perfect party paradise for those wanting to sit a spell, kick back, and unwind.
If your character is less interested in copious amounts of drinking and more interested in shadier pursuits, they may want to pay a visit and spend a little time at the Tavern in the Mists. Located in the Veiled Stair, the Tavern in the Mists is high above the Valley of the Four Winds on the way to Kun-Lai Summit. And the tavern has one very familiar face at the moment -- Wrathion, the uncorrupted black dragon, last of Deathwing's descendants.
Wrathion doesn't appear to have anything up his sleeve just yet, but his presence along with his bodyguards is an indicator that this tavern is less a place of jovial pursuits and more a place of shady deals and ulterior motives. In addition, there are a few quests in the area -- just a few, but more may be added as the beta moves on.
If you're roleplaying a character who delves into darker things like black market trading and trading coin for deeds that might make others cringe, this is an excellent choice for a hangout. The Tavern in the Mists includes a flight path, so while it's out of the way, it's not so far out of the way that you'll never see anyone passing through. This two-story tavern features not only some colorful company, but a working set of hot springs in the back with a rotating cast of characters. Though the surroundings may be just as brutal as the company you'll find inside, the Tavern in the Mists is an ideal location for villains, thieves, spies and other shady characters.
Who doesn't love a relaxing fishing getaway? And who wouldn't love to call this languid and tranquil lagoon home? Angler's Wharf is home to the fishing faction in Mists of Pandaria. This tiny village is a series of huts perched above the water. Not only is it an excellent place to fish, it's also an excellent place to simply kick back and stare at the sky.
Located off the southeastern coast of Krasarang Wilds, Angler's Wharf does not include a flight point at this point in time. That may change before release, or you may simply have to swim your way out there. Regardless, it's a lovely retreat and a potentially pleasant tropical home for roleplay characters.
Even if your character isn't particularly interested in fishing, Angler's Wharf is a great place for storytelling events or beach cookouts. And because it's the location of Pandaria's fishing trainers, you're liable to see plenty of foot traffic through the area. If your character is far more at home by the water than carousing in a tavern, Angler's Wharf may be just the place to call a home away from home.
These are just a few of the scenic vistas to be found in Mists of Pandaria -- and these are only from the first three zones! There are plenty more places that I haven't discussed, and I may do so over the next few weeks. Despite the circumstances of the Alliance and Horde's arrival on Pandaria, the continent is a breaktaking, beautiful change from the ravaged landscapes of post-Cataclysm Azeroth. And if your character is going to be stuck in Pandaria, they may as well find some place to call home, even if it's a temporary one.
Although Mists is shaping up to be an expansion about the conflicts and rigors of factional war, Pandaria's verdant landscapes are ultimately welcoming and inviting, as are as the natives of the area. The pandaren certainly don't care about factional conflict at this point, and whether your character is fed up with the factional fighting and wants to get away or just wants to take a moment from fighting to breathe and look around, Pandaria is a continent ripe with locations for roleplay opportunity.
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