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Roleplaying in Pandaria: The basics

Anne Stickney

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.

Welcome to Pandaria, roleplayers! With the launch of Mists, players suddenly have a lot of leveling to do, and countless things to keep them occupied at level 90. However, that doesn't mean that roleplay should come to a halt. Because Pandaria is a land we've never before seen, there's a ton of information to be absorbed, stories to be heard, and lessons to be learned along the way. The things your character will see and hear in Pandaria will affect them throughout the course of the new expansion, every step of the way.

But what if you leveled in a frenzy, or you missed some important points? There's so much to see in Pandaria that frankly, it can be overwhelming to even the most seasoned roleplayers. Today we've got a primer of basic plot points for you to consider for your character as they travel the Pandarian wilds and make that trek to level 90 -- or a refresher course if you've already hit max level.

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Headed into Pandaria

Your character is not part of a massive Alliance or Horde army -- in fact, they're the furthest thing from it, part of a small strike force that was sent to explore the mysterious new island. Horde characters have been sent by Warchief Garrosh Hellscream to claim the land in the name of the Horde. Alliance players have been sent to find Prince Anduin Wrynn, who was lost somewhere near the strange new land. When you arrive, the consequences are immediate and disastrous.

Both Alliance and Horde characters discover that their arrival has heralded the return of the sha -- strange, malignant entities that manifest through negative emotions like fear, hatred, worry or despair. Because both sides of the Alliance and Horde war are quite frankly riddled with these emotions, the sha have returned in earnest, and riddle the land like a noxious plague. But that's only the tip of the iceberg as far as problems are concerned.

The mysterious island is none other than the lost continent of Pandaria, and it's chock full of pandaren residents who were living quiet, happy, and content lives, until you showed up. Now their land has been thrown into chaos, and the fault lies quite clearly at your feet. Despite this, the pandaren people have been nothing but gracious and welcoming, although some are far less trusting than others.

There are a lot of things immediately off the bat that can and will affect your character and how they play out this expansion. Make sure you keep these in mind while you're leveling, and think about how your character would react and respond to the situations. Remember that the Alliance and Horde are pretty much at a point of full-out war when your character is sent to Pandaria.

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Alliance plot points

For Alliance players, the need is immediate and desperate -- the son of King Varian Wrynn has been lost, and he needs to be found quickly, before he falls into Horde hands. Is your character a fan of Anduin Wrynn? Is he a loyal servant to the crown? Has he headed to Pandaria purely in service of the king, or is there another reason he has agreed to this dangerous mission?

Is your character venturing into Pandaria in the hopes of finding some sort of gain for himself? Is he seeking treasure, riches beyond his wildest dreams, enough gold to line his pockets and then some? Is he possessed with a thirst for adventure, eager to explore and discover the history and secrets this strange land has to offer?

Was your character somehow involved with Theramore? Did they have friends or family that died in the blast? Are they headed to Pandaria for the king, or for their own personal vendetta of vengeance? Are they planning on some peaceful exploration, or an outing of carving down as many Horde members as they can find?

Is your character even willing to go to Pandaria at all? Did he sign up to make the trip, or did he just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up recruited? Is he happy to be out in the world and exploring, or does he fervently wish he could just go home and take a nice nap?

Roleplaying in Pandaria The basics SAT 929

Horde plot points

For Horde, the situation is dire, but for different reasons. Warchief Hellscream has demanded a quick victory for the Horde on this strange new island, and he wants the Alliance wiped out. But Garrosh has been running a fear campaign in Orgrimmar. While some serve Garrosh with loyalty, others are driven by fear, afraid that disobedience will cost their lives.

Is your character venturing into Pandaria because he wants to get as far away from Garrosh and his thugs as possible? Is he seeking someplace to hide from the eyes of Hellscream? Is he hoping he can find someplace remote enough that he can simply drop off the face of Azeroth and out of the Horde altogether? Is he in actuality loyal to the Horde, or loyal to the Horde of Thrall's reign?

Or is your character instead a loyal supporter of Hellscream? Is he eager to spill Alliance blood? Is he happy to have a new land that he can conquer in the name of the Horde? What does think of those who speak ill of Hellscream, and what will he do if he finds any naysayers in his travels throughout Pandaria?

Or perhaps your character is following a neutral path. Does he have his own reasons for going to Pandaria? Is he seeking personal gain, or is he working for a hire by someone interested in what Hellscream is up to? Does he quietly follow Hellscream's orders, all the while making sure that he never comes in harm's way?

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Pandaren, sha and you

Regardless of whether you are Horde or Alliance, the problem of the sha is universal. The emotions your character carries now directly affects the world around him in a significant and unpleasant way. How does your character handle this information? Is he afraid of the sha? Worried that he will cause untold amounts of chaos with every step he takes? Does he blame the presence of the sha on the opposite faction?

Here's the interesting hook with the sha -- if your character is fearful, afraid, worried, angry, the sha are going to come into play. The pandaren have not had to deal with the sha because they've achieved a level of calm and inner peace, where they can keep these emotions in careful balance. These methods are only a small portion of the lessons that the pandaren have to teach us.

As far as the pandaren are concerned, we are a maelstrom of discontent that has suddenly been plopped in their laps. But the pandaren are not hostile -- they're curious. They want to understand who we are, and why we bring these emotions with us. They want to know where we've come from, and what's happened out there in the rest of the world. But more importantly, they'd like us to help clean up the mess we made.

That's right -- what's going on in Pandaria is pretty much the fault of your character and your faction, regardless of what faction you're on. How does your character feel about the pandaren? Is he curious about the race? Has he ever heard tales of the pandaren before? Is he eager to learn the lessons they have to tell, or does he think they are in the way of proper victory and glory for his faction, whichever faction that happens to be?

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How does he feel about what's going on in Pandaria? Does he feel guilty for what's occurring in this new land, given that it was the arrival of the Alliance and Horde that triggered the appearance of the sha? Is he lending a helping hand willingly, to try and atone for what he's done? Or is he perhaps a little clueless, and just going with the flow? Does he have some sort of ulterior motive for assisting the pandaren? Is he expecting something big in return?

Mists of Pandaria represents an interesting new way to look at roleplay. While there are a lot of outside factors to be considered, the conflict surrounding the sha is a decidedly internal one. What your character feels, how they react to the world is now physically represented by an enemy. It's up to you to decide how your character is going to process this new, unique type of enemy -- one that is not spawned from the Burning Legion or Old Gods, but is spawned from within.

Because of this, Mists presents us with a unique way to take a deeper look at our characters and what makes them tick. Mists is a great opportunity to discover a lot of new lore, but it's also a great opportunity to discover a lot more about our characters, too.

All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. Let us help you imagine what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying or even RP on a non-RP realm!

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