Pandaria is going to be great for roleplayers. Between the many open spots for group events and tons of places for smaller guild get togethers, the main continent is primed for some good old fashioned open world roleplaying. And the story behind Pandaria is apt to spark plenty of opportunities for roleplay as well -- the hard-hitting questions your character will be asking themselves as they travel through Pandaria's gorgeous zones should give you plenty of fodder to think about.
Perhaps the best part of Pandaria, however, is that we'll be grounded for the majority of it. Now why is that a good thing? Because it encourages exploration, my fellow roleplayers -- the old school style. The kind where you look at a mountain and wonder what's on the other side, and have to figure out a way to climb up and find out. Exploration doesn't just offer you fascinating tidbits of lore, you'll also occasionally stumble upon some out-of-the-way places that are perfect for setting up shop and roleplaying.
1. Thunderpaw Refuge
The first area on our list is hidden in plain sight -- as in, you'll know it's there when you get there, but no quests seem to really lead to the area at all. This means it's easily missed if you're not in the mood for exploring. Thunderpaw Refuge appears to be a training facility for Mistweaver monks, otherwise known as the healing branch of the monk talent trees. There's one nice building, and a pretty hill that overlooks the training facility as well.
But that's not all; there's also an NPC wandering around who appears to give a quest for a PvE scenario of some sort. She travels the small bridges that lead to the refuge, and at the present time you can't really do much with her. Whether or not this facility will actually be used for anything in the upcoming expansion is up in the air. However, it remains a pretty cool place for roleplayers to hang out, whether they are monks in training, or simply looking for a place to sit down and relax with no hostile mobs around.
And as an added bonus, there are not one, but two shrines nearby for those looking for more pandaren lore. Perched high above the rest of the Jade Forest just southwest of the Tian Monastery, the Thunderpaw Refuge can be accessed by climbing hills that have no real paths, or by following a series of tiny bridges that quest just don't point you to. It's well worth the visit, and if your character wants to stay awhile, the friendly pandaren monks certainly won't object.
2. Taster's Arena hidden home
Here's another hidden-in-plain-sight location: An empty home devoid of NPCs, perfect to claim as a temporary living space for your character. This house is hidden on a winding path just south of the Temple of the Jade Serpent in the Jade Forest. The zone just below the house is designated as the Taster's Arena, full of brew kegs and places for characters to sit. However, the entire area is devoid of both friendly NPCs and hostile mobs, making it a great spot to sit and have an uninterrupted chat with friends.
Because this is the beta, we may yet see this place populated with an NPC or two -- but if it's a pandaren NPC, they won't mind having a guest hang around. The house is a tiny Pandaren home with a stool and several scrolls scattered about -- and outside, a still awaits those characters that would like to try their own hand at brewing. If this sounds like something your character would be interested in, it's worth finding this hidden gem.
To get to the home, simply take the path south from the Temple of the Jade Serpent, and head east on the first fork. You'll see an area with several gorgeous and neutral crane mobs; the home is off to the northeast. While the path is clearly marked, a lack of quests leading players to that particular area means that this home may simply remain empty and waiting for the right roleplayer to discover it.
3. Hidden Heartland Hideaway
In what seems to be the going trend for pandaren properties, this hidden getaway in the Valley of the Four Winds isn't so hidden after all -- it's just in an out-of-the-way location that most people following quests won't see. There are a few NPCs scattered around that are from the Tillers faction, so it's possible that this area will open up into a small quest hub once the Tillers quests are opened on the beta.
For now though, the area is relatively quiet, and devoid of hostile NPCs. This particular farm is perched on a hill above the main farms of the Heartland, the farming fields in Valley of the Four Winds. While there are quests below involving pesky vermin, and quests to the west that involve ... other things that we shan't talk about for spoilers' sake, this farm is simply nestled between the two.
This makes it a pretty great spot for some open-world roleplay, because there's no hostile NPCs to be found nearby. If your character is fascinated by the idea of learning to farm from the pandaren people, or simply enjoys the quiet rolling hills of the Valley of the Four Winds, this may be a great spot for them to call a potential home-away-from-home.
4. The Secret Aerie
Ah, now this is truly a hidden hideaway! The Secret Aerie appears to have no real purpose in the game at the moment -- it is the home of some of Pandaria's hawkmasters. Nestled high above everything else in the Veiled Stair, this area features two fairly large buildings and a lot of friendly NPCs bustling about. There are no quests here, the area seems to have been built simply for flavor.
There are two ways, currently, to reach this hidden spot. In order to travel from the Veiled Stair into Kun Lai Summit, players must take a boat journey through a saurok-infested cavern. These saurok are level 90 creatures, including some level 90 elites sprinkled into the mix. However, these saurok-infested caverns appear to go back further than the simple tunnel one rides a boat through. For players that can stealth, that calls for some studious exploration. Heading back into the tunnels will eventually open up to a small pond on the other side, and a series of tiny bridges that lead up to the Secret Aerie.
The other option, of course, is to simply wait until you reach level 90 and can fly, thus avoiding the saurok-infested caverns entirely. That may lead to more traffic in this hideaway, but for now, it's merely a secret waiting patiently to be discovered. For stealthy players or for some clever hunters that don't mind chaining Feign Death through a tunnel of doom, the Secret Aerie looks like a pretty cool hangout with some pretty cool pandaren in a pretty cool area that not many people will be able to reach.
5. The Peak of Serenity
High above the rest of Kun Lai, the Peak of Serenity is one of the highest spots in Pandaria, topped only by a stunning peak just to the south. However, the Peak of Serenity is hiding a secret -- a full out monastery where monks following the path of the Ox train and relax. There are no paths leading to this area, nor, at this point, are there any quests for non-monk players leading to it. But players that don't mind a minor bit of climbing over a snowy ridge will discover this oddly peaceful paradise waiting for them.
There are several buildings at the monastery, and a variety of training, friendly pandaren NPCs. At the moment, it appears that there are no hostile mobs to be found anywhere. There are, however, a selection of hot springs nestled into the snowy mountain peaks. Who doesn't love a natural hot spring when the weather's chilly and the days have been long?
This hidden training retreat is just to the northeast of the Shado-Pan Monastery. It seems at this point that the Peak of Serenity is basically a version of Acherus for the monk class -- monks can use the spell Zen Pilgrimage to get to this area, presumably for spec changes. Those that are not monks will have to make the trip by foot, until we can take to the skies. Regardless of the hidden monastery's ultimate fate, it still remains as a perfect hideaway large enough for an entire guild to easily use as a makeshift base of operations.
Although we may not be able to fly the skies of Pandaria right off the bat, this is actually a blessing in disguise for roleplayers. Not being able to fly above the scenery means that there will be plenty of opportunity for roleplaying storylines of explorers and discovery, whether it be amazing events, or simply hidden spaces to get away from it all.
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