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Know Your Lore: Undermine, The Broken Isles, and Pandaria

Anne Stickney

Undermine Didn't we already blow up Kezan? Well yes, we did, but that was just the surface of the island. Beneath it are the tunnels of Undermine, a vast city that is pretty much the center of goblin civilization. Undermine was mentioned briefly during last year's Quests and Lore panel as still being around -- and that the goblins of Kezan want to go back -- so it's entirely possible we'll see it in upcoming content. Though Kezan may be gone and the goblins of the Bilgewater Cartel may be happily allied with the Horde, there's still the matter of the rest of the goblin race that is presumably either trapped in Undermine or blissfully unaware of the goings-on of the island above.

That said, it's not really a far leap of imagination to consider the fact that the goblins of Azeroth, now largely split into two major cartels (Bilgewater and Steamwheedle) might want to go back to their original home, try to dig through the wreckage, and see if any of their goblin brethren have survived. Kezan is an entirely unique zone that players don't get to experience if they've never played the goblin race; it would be nice to see a major goblin metropolis. As to what exactly is going on in Undermine ... well, they are underground. I suppose they could always play up the Old Gods angle, if they wanted to.

The Broken Isles We know where the Broken Isles are -- just off the Maelstrom. ... or are they? Cataclysm created a massive amount of tectonic shifts, and Deathwing burst through the Maelstrom, meaning anything remotely near it would have been flung to parts unknown. The Broken Isles are the location of countless night elf ruins, including the city of Suramar, the city Tyrande Whisperwind and Malfurion Stormrage grew up in. But that's not all.

It's also home to the Tomb of Sargeras, the place where Aegwynn planted the corpse of Sargeras' avatar after she defeated him back in the distant past. The reason that Aegwynn took his body to this location is because the thing was still reeking with so much power and corruption that it needed to be hidden away.

This area was explored and addressed in game once before, during Warcraft III. Illidan traveled there in search of the Eye of Sargeras for his own purposes, and Maiev Shadowsong followed him, as always. Illidan found the Eye first, using its powers to destroy most of Maiev's forces. But Maiev lived, and she continued to hunt Illidan all the way to the Black Temple in The Burning Crusade expansion.

So the Eye is no longer in the Tomb -- but there's still the little matter of Sargeras' body. On top of that, we've got some really old night elf ruins and possibly a heck of a lot of naga. If we do have to go take a look at the Broken Isles, it's almost a certainty that we'll need a guide to get to them, someone familiar with the lay of the land.

Say, isn't the upcoming Wolfheart novel bringing back Maiev Shadowsong? And isn't she pretty familiar with the Tomb of Sargeras, since she's the one who chased Illidan through the thing back in Warcraft III? Interesting that they'd bring her back into play now, isn't it?


And we come at last to the place mentioned prominently by name. I've already gone over parts of pandaren history and where they developed out of game in a previous Know Your Lore, so I'm not going to touch that in detail. However, here's what we know from the RPG sourcebooks, which is pretty much the only place any history regarding the pandaren has appeared.

Pandaria is the island home of the pandaren race, and nobody has ever been there other than the pandaren. It exists solely in rumors and tales told by traveling pandaren mercenaries and brewmasters. The pandaren race is a shamanistic society, much like the tauren -- they believe in the Earthmother and the spirits, and draw much of their power directly from the earth itself.

Say, wait a minute -- wasn't the earth irrevocably damaged during the Shattering? Why yes, yes, it was. Enough damage in fact that the highly reclusive pandaren may be wondering what the heck the rest of the world is doing.

It's been rumored that the pandaren came about roughly the same time as night elf civilization reached its peak prior to the Sundering. The pandaren are even rumored to have traded goods and ideas in the years prior to the War of the Ancients. However, as the night elves grew more obsessed with arcane magic, the pandaren grew warier of the true motives of the kaldorei and simply withdrew from sight. They traveled far across the seas, eventually settling on a remote island and calling it Pandaria. As for the relative size or location of Pandaria, there's been nothing written in lore about either of these things.

Pandaren philosophy is a little different than what we see in Azeroth today. They are a reactive society, rather than the type that acts first. They describe themselves as the water that flows around a rock; the water doesn't push the rock out of the way but simply goes around it. This different way of thinking is likely behind the pandaren's neutral stance in the world. The pandaren have no enemies. Everyone is a potential friend until they prove themselves otherwise.

That said, there are two possibilities for the pandaren race. We'll get a new hero class, taught by the pandaren -- a monk class of some sort, or possibly a geomancer. Alternatively, the pandaren will be available to Alliance and Horde equally. The pandaren race isn't likely to ally with one side or the other as a whole; each individual pandaren will make that choice for himself or herself. One new race, for both sides. Otherwise, Blizzard is going to have to deal with the uproar of which side the pandaren actually ally with. Personally, I'm rooting for a monk class; that sounds like a good time to me!

So how does all of this random information tie together into enough content to warrant its own expansion? All we have to go on is a bunch of unexplored islands. Where does that fit in? Why would the natives of Azeroth suddenly go into exploration frenzy, when they've never seen fit to do so in the 10,000 years since the Sundering? And who, exactly, would be the main villain of an expansion featuring a bunch of fuzzy pandas?

Follow on to the next page, where I attempt to pull together a storyline for The Mists of Pandaria. Warning: This may or may not contain spoilers for future content. As far as I know, I have no unusual psychic powers -- but hey, you never know.

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