Current politics and you
Regardless of your character's current whereabouts, there has been a noted shift in the dynamic of how the Horde operates. While the Horde's main forces are on Pandaria, there have been changes in the wind with pretty much every Horde race available. Although your character may not be directly involved with any of this, it's still a giant source of idle chatter around the world -- doubly so with particular races.
Blood Elf Lor'themar is on the move, and he's not happy. Silvermoon City isn't quite as safe as you'd think it would be. Garrosh Hellscream ordered the sin'dorei to research the Sha, with near-deadly consequences. He's been ordering more sin'dorei to Pandaria to research other magical items and relics as well. While your character may not be in Pandaria, if he has spent any time at all in Silvermoon, it's likely he's heard people talking about it. It's becoming more and more clear to the sin'dorei that Garrosh Hellscream isn't viewing their people as equals so much as tools to be used.
Troll Vol'jin has also traveled to Pandaria. The troll starting experience points out Vol'jin's worries about Garrosh, and the argument the two of them had, so it's pretty obvious there is a certain mistrust of Warchief Hellscream. In addition, players that head to Orgrimmar might notice that there isn't exactly a warm embrace for the trolls in the capital city. There's a tension between the trolls and the orcs, and the majority of that tension rests on Garrosh's shoulders -- to the point where Garrosh placed the Echo Isles under martial law. It has since been freed by Thrall, but the point is, no troll is safe right now, and that's an uncomfortable place to be.
Tauren Baine Bloodhoof has also traveled to Pandaria. It's no secret that Baine holds no particular fondness for Warchief Hellscream, and given Garrosh's part in Cairne's death, it's totally understandable. But that's not the only worry the tauren have. They're still rebuilding from the Cataclysm -- Magatha's treachery, Cairne's death, the Grimtotem invasion, the Alliance attacks in South Barrens, the uprising of the quillboar -- the tauren have never had it this hard. Cairne was the one that brought the nomadic tauren together under one roof, but Cairne is gone. The tauren are almost a sitting target right now, and Warchief Hellscream really doesn't seem to be concerned at all.
Goblin If you are a goblin, you are likely incredibly happy right now. Why? There's a war on! And with a war, there is plenty of profit to be had. While other races might be offended at Garrosh's callous use of their people, as far as the goblins are concerned, it's just another business transaction. Depending on your goblin's morality, he may not even be concerned with how Garrosh is treating others, or what's going on with the rest of the Horde. If the coin is rolling in, life is good.
Forsaken Oddly enough, life has been fairly quiet on the Forsaken front. Sylvanas has been reticent in sending anyone to help Garrosh directly, and she has yet to set foot on Pandaria as far as we know. But the Banshee Queen is not happy with Hellscream, with his plans, or with how he treats her people. Forsaken players may catch a murmured rumor or two about this, but there is nothing solid to go on as of yet. However, the stories coming from your blood elf allies to the north may be a little disconcerting.
Orc If you are an orc, it's pretty likely that you're living large and enjoying life to the fullest. Either that, or you're wondering why Thrall has not returned after leaving the Horde to Warchief Hellscream in Cataclysm. However, there have been some unsettling events that might have an adverse effect on your orc. In Orgrimmar, Warchief Hellscream has recruited orcs from the Blackrock clan as advisors and thugs. The Blackrock were enemies of the Horde throughout vanilla and beyond -- so why would Garrosh be making friends now?
Capital city discontent
Each race has its own concerns, and while they may not directly involve Pandaria, they by and large involve Hellscream, and Hellscream's reign. Regardless of what capital city your character happens to be in, you can be certain that every time the Horde gains some small victory, that victory is bellowed about all over the place. So while your character may not be intimately familiar with Pandaria, they are definitely aware that there is a war on between the Horde and Alliance.
And if your character spends time in any one particular capital city, it's likely they'll hear different tales of vague discontent. Thunder Bluff is rebuilding, but the tauren aren't terribly happy with Garrosh. The Echo Isles were under martial law briefly, because Hellscream viewed the trolls as potential traitors. Silvermoon City recently had a visit by an imprisoned Sha, and news of that is quietly disconcerting. In the Undercity, there's a hush -- Forsaken may know that Sylvanas is upset, but they may not be necessarily aware of what is so upsetting.
You'll notice all of these tales of discontent in other capital cities are being listed as varying degrees of quiet. That's because of what is going on in Orgrimmar. Garrosh recruited Blackrock orcs to act as advisors and thugs. They roam the streets of Orgrimmar, actively looking for any mention of dissent. And if they find any, the dissenting individual is quietly taken away and either killed outright, or beaten to a bloody pulp until the lesson is learned: You do not question Garrosh Hellscream.
At least, not where he can hear it.
For Horde roleplay characters that have chosen to avoid Pandaria for whatever reason, the rest of Azeroth is honestly looking pretty grim right now. There has been a shift in the attitude of the Horde. The various races are not allies or equals in Hellscream's eyes. They are tools, cogs for the machine, and it really doesn't matter what losses are suffered as far as the Warchief is concerned -- unless it's a strong warrior.
Pandaria on your own
But what if you'd like your character in Pandaria, without all of the nonsense of joining a militia? What if you didn't want your character to be part of that original strike force? As far as the lore is concerned, there are a few other ways to Pandaria. Sunwalker Dezco and his companions are a really good option for those not wanting their character to blindly follow Hellscream. Stationed at first down in Krasarang Wilds, Dezco and company traveled to Pandaria not on Garrosh's orders, but because they had a vision of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. They wanted to see what that was all about.
As another alternative, Nessingwary and his crew also traveled to Pandaria, supposedly on their own. If your character is an avid game hunter, he might have hitched a ride with this crew. Or perhaps your character was aboard that first fleet that arrived on Pandaria -- the ships that crashed into the shore, the ones that players are being sent to rescue in the first few quests of Mists
. Lastly, there's also the option that they are part of the full-on militia that just arrived with patch 5.1.
However, those are the only real, established, canon lore reasons for a potential player's arrival. Anything else would be pushing it into non-canon territory. Can you come up with another idea? Absolutely. It's mostly a matter of whether or not other roleplayers will accept that idea. If you're okay with potentially missing out on roleplay with those that are strict about lore and canon, it's perfectly fine to come up with an alternative.
Keep in mind, however, that the mists surrounding Pandaria did not dissipate until just before that first fleet's arrival. So if you'd like your character to have suddenly arrived via shipwreck, that's fine. If you'd like them to be a stowaway on someone else's boat, that's fine too. If you would like them to have discovered Pandaria ten years ago ... well, that's pushing it.
Next week, we'll look at the Alliance side of politics, and what Alliance roleplayers on the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor are seeing while everyone is off in the wilds of Pandaria.
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