Every race in World of Warcraft that begins at level 1 has their own, unique starting areas. These areas usually only cover levels 1-5, but some races are locked into starting areas that last up to level 15 or so.
This post covers the storyline of the starting area of Pandaren.
I hope you enjoy it. Remember, if you like what I write, you can always support my Patreon.
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The Wandering Isle – Pandaren Starting Areas
As a Pandaren raised on the Wandering Isle, you’re more adventurous than most of your race. Recently, something seems wrong with your home. You need to complete your training so that you can investigate and help. This starting area is set after the end of Cataclysm, right at the beginning of Mists of Pandaria.
First things first: Master Shang Xi tells you to get a weapon and hit targets. Once you’ve shown your basic ability to hold a weapon, you’re sent to spar against other trainees. Even though you’re new, you kick some Pandaren tail, and Shang Xi is impressed, but there’s still more to learn. He wants you to snatch a flame from his hand, then use it to burn the Edict of Temperance at the top of the temple. You manage this as well, and Shang Xi tells you the purpose of burning the scroll. Apparently, it’s a scroll of wisdom that’s been passed down from generation to generation. But now that darkness lurks on the horizon, the time for temperance has passed, and burning the scroll is a sign of your acceptance of that fact.
So there you have it. Everything that happens in Pandaria and to the Pandaren after this point is your and Master Shang Xi‘s fault. You just destroyed the priceless and ancient heirloom that was ensuring peace, one that managed to survive whole generations of Pandaren before you and your pyromaniac master came along, and now the whole world’s gonna suffer as a result. You caused the war. Well done.
Anyway. Shang Xi sees great things in you and decides to fast-track your training. You’re sent up against one of his eldest students, Jaomin Ro. You manage to defeat him easily enough, so you’re pretty much done with the training grounds. Now Shang Xi wants you to return the spirit of fire, Huo, to the Temple of Five Dawns. Don’t worry, you’ll have help. First, you need to find Aysa Cloudsinger.
Aysa‘s busy exercising, and Merchant Lorvo is watching her. He comments on how poised and beautiful she is. Not creepy at all. Lorvo doesn’t want you to interrupt her routine, but he could use your help in the meantime. The local Amberleaf Scamps attacked his cart, frightened his driver, Min Dimwind, and have stolen a bunch of his supplies. You rescue the driver, grab the supplies, and return to see Aysa‘s done. (Something I found mildly interesting: Lorvo mentions it’s OK to kill the sprites because they’re really plants and will just regrow.) Aysa knows where Huo is, but not how to get to him. She needs to meditate on the matter. Luckily, there’s a perfect place for that – a Cave of Meditation. You just need to protect her while she’s thinking, because Amberleaf Troublemakers keep attacking. (Because a cave in which you’re being constantly attacked and need to be protected, meaning you’ll have a steady stream of the sounds of fighting and killing behind you, is the perfect meditation spot, I guess.)
While Aysa‘s concentrating, Master Li Fei‘s voice echoes through the cave. He tells you where Huo is, that he’s protected by a challenge, that’s he’s hungry and will want kindling, and that he also could do with some wind. Shang Xi shows up and tells you to go find his other student that’s going to help you, Ji Firepaw. Ji is busy fighting Fe-Feng Hozen, monkeys who have been attacking and stealing supplies. You help him kill some attackers, then he sends you to get kindling and wind for Huo. Getting the wind involves punching something called ‘living wind’ into submission. Getting the kindling just involves collecting dry roots.
Shang Xi tells you you’re ready to rekindle Huo, who’s in a cave nearby, guarded by the same Li Fei from before. Li Fei, who seems to be a spirit, tells you a bunch of stuff about how you must be strong in character and how you choose your own path in life and all that, but the long and the short of it is you have to defeat him in combat. Beating him up shows you’re worthy, and you get to feed Huo the kindling and wind you’ve brought for him. Huo warms up to you right away, and you take him to meet Master Shang Xi in the Temple of Five Dawns.
Shang Xi tells you Shen-zin Su is in great pain, and that this is a problem because Shen-zin Su is literally the island you live on. (He’s a giant turtle – you live on his back.) Shang Xi needs your help specifically, because Aysa and Ji are each too single-minded, and you’re more balanced.
(Ji Firepaw follows the Huojin philosophy, a philosophy which teaches immediate action without hesitation. Aysa Cloudsinger follows the Tushui philosophy, a philosophy that teaches contemplation and reasoned action.)
You’re going to need to gather the spirits of water, air and earth as well, starting with water. All four spirits are needed to communicate with Shen-zin Su.
You head to The Shining Pools, where you meet Jojo Ironbrow, who needs you to gather reeds for him, but doesn’t want to tell you why. Then you report to Aysa Cloudsinger, who’s sitting in the middle of a pool. As you run to her, you can’t help but notice you turn into a skunk. Aysa explains that, over the years, so many skunks died here, their spirits infused the pools. There’s a bunch of pools like this, each one turning you into a different critter. (It’s weird how they each seem to have specifically chosen their own pool to die in, but OK.)
Aysa needs to meditate some more, so she sends you to a pool that turns you into a frog and is guarded by frog-eating cranes. The pool is filled with balancing poles, and you need to make your way across them to the center, where you can ring a bell to show you’ve done it. On your way, you spar with other trainees who are also perched atop balancing poles. Jojo‘s reeds are in this pool so you will have to hop around as a frog, dodging cranes, at least for a bit. You return the reeds to Jojo, who uses them to show a small crowd of Pandaren how strong he is by breaking them with his head, and then you head back to Aysa, who makes a bit of a song and dance about the importance of practice and discipline.
Aysa tells you how Shu, the water spirit, used to have a playmate named Old Man Liang. Liang, too old to play with Shu anymore, is a bit of a hermit now, but he might be able to give you some tips on how to draw the water spirit out. He suggests you bring Shu a gift – a Sun Pearl, and also asks you to clear out some water pincers while you’re at it. After you’re done, he tells you where to find Shu, and that the water spirit just wants to feel loved. You take the pearl to Shu and play a game with him to coax him into following you. Now that you’ve gotten the water spirit’s trust, Aysa sends you ahead to Dai-Lo Farmstead to Ji Firepaw and Wuguo, the spirit of earth.
You find Ji with a problem: Wuguo is asleep and nothing seems to be able to wake him. He’s hit him a bunch, but still nothing. While he’s busy with that, Ji reckons you may as well help the local farmers with their virmen problem by killing as many virmen as possible. Ji‘s very pro-active. You gather some crops for Gao Summerdraft while you’re about it, then you help Ji with his next plan to wake Wuguo by getting him a giant mallet. (If this seems like an unusually peaceful task from Ji, don’t worry, the mallet is guarded by a big virmen.) There’s a gong right next to the sleeping earth spirit. Bit weird to only think about hitting the gong after hitting poor Wuguo, but that’s Ji for you. Jojo Ironbrow is once again surrounded by admirers, and this time he needs you to gather some wood planks for him to break with his head.
You hit the gong, and it makes a righteous noise, but Wuguo still sleeps on. Ji suggests some water to the face might work, and sends you to fetch Shu. (Why use a bucket when you have a water spirit?) This plan actually works, and you’re able to take both Shu and Wuguo back to the Temple of Five Dawns.
Master Shang Xi tells you about the final spirit, Dafeng, the spirit of air. Both Aysa and Ji are going to help you with this one. On your way to Morning Breeze Village, you might stop to listen to Lorewalker Amai, who is busy teaching history to young Pandaren.
The story she tells is about Liu Lang, the first Pandaren explorer. Liu used to live in Pandaria, but he set out to explore on the back of a sea turtle named Shen-zin Su. At first, Shen-zin Su was only big enough for one Pandaren, but eventually, he grew so big, he started being called the Wandering Isle, the home you live on right now, though the great turtle only ever spoke to Liu Lang. Once every five years, Liu Lang would return to visit Pandaria. Even though Pandaria was lost in the mists, Shen-zin Su could always find his way home. Over time, other Pandaren, who also wanted to explore, joined him on his Isle, meaning everyone on the island is descended from explorers, including Pandaren who became famous explorers by themselves, like Chen and Li Li Stormstout. But the last time he visited Pandaria, no one wanted to join him, and he never returned again. Old and tired, he went into the Wood of Staves and became one with the land, and his umbrella sprouted and became a tree. The Wood of Staves is all made up of the staves of Pandaren elders who die there, and it’s a reminder that you should “Never mourn a life well-lived”.
You meet up with Ji, who’s not being creepy at all, he’s just staring at Aysa as she exercises and meditates. He tells you that, because their disciplines are so different, they don’t know each other very well, but he’s super impressed by her form.
But there’s other things to focus on, like Hozen. The monkeys have stolen and defiled various Scrolls of Wisdom, and since they can’t be recovered, you just have to burn the scrolls. Elder Shaopai also wants you to get back the paint brushes they’ve stolen, and Jojo Ironbrow, who is convinced you still doubt his magnificent strength, wants you to pick up some stone blocks for him.
As you burn the scrolls, you might have noticed the Hozen have written their own words of wisdom on them, such as “Peel banana first, eat second” and “Poo not good to eat, but very good to throw.” Elder Shaopai tells you that he doesn’t mind the Hozen attempts at creating their own scrolls of wisdom, but it’s a problem when they start attacking and stealing from Pandaren to do it.
Jojo breaks the stone blocks with his head in front of his small crowd of admiring fans, and Ji has decided the best offence is a good offence. He and you are off to kill Hozen, including their leader, Ruk-Ruk, and to get back the fireworks they’ve stolen while you’re about it, as Hozen and fireworks is a dangerous combination. (You can advise him to just talk to Aysa, but he’s worried about seeming even creepier than he already no doubt does.)
While you’re kicking monkey tail, you come across a jade tiger pillar that’s very solid. You think Jojo might want it. Jojo is very pleased with the jade pillar, this chance to prove his power once and for all. Unfortunately, the pillar wins.
Ji thinks it’s time Aysa stop meditating and come help with Dafeng, so you go get her attention. Aysa tells you that Dafeng has been frightened by Zhao-Ren, the Onyx Serpent. You find him hiding in the Chamber of Whispers. You and Aysa calm him, and then you join Ji outside, who has a plan to defeat the serpent. You kill the poor thing with fireworks, which seems a bit excessive, and then talk to Master Shang Xi, who’s very pleased that you’ve managed to coax Dafeng. You should be able to communicate with Shen-zin Su now, but first, he needs you to accompany him to The Wood of Staves.
You defeat a guardian to get in, (which is tameable for BM hunters, but only at level 65, so don’t bother) and then you clear out some Thornbranch sprites and collect Kun-Pai Ritual Charms. If you were paying attention to the story earlier, you already know what happens. Xi tells you again about the tradition of elders planting their staves in this wood, and also that Shen-zin Su has never spoken to any of the Pandaren apart from Liu Lang. Now that you have the help of the four elements, you will be able to speak to him. And then Master Shang Xi plants his stave, which starts to grow, and he dies.
You bring the news to Aysa and Ji, who are waiting with the elemental spirits and a hot air balloon. You’re about to become the first Pandaren to speak to Shen-zin Su in hundreds of years. Shen-zin Su is pleased that he hasn’t been forgotten and tells you about a “thorn” in his side. The thorn turns out to be a ship, one that doesn’t belong to any Pandaren.
You report back to Elder Shaopai, who tells you it’s up to you, Aysa, Ji, and Jojo to remove the thorn, and that you’ll need to trust each other to do it. The shipwreck is in part of the isle that few ever visit, Pei-Wu Forest, but a hermit lives there who will help you. The gate to the forest is jammed, but Jojo, who has a new weapon – the jade tiger pillar – is able to open it for you. When you reach Wei Palerage‘s hut, you discover the hermit has been joined by strange creatures.
A Tauren named Korga Strongmane tells you the ship belongs to the Alliance. He and his fellow Horde were their prisoners. Aysa rushes off to speak to the Alliance, taking Jojo with her, and Ji and you stay behind to help the Horde. Korga needs your help gathering broken bamboo stalks, to be used to arm the Horde, and, since you’re here, Wei asks if you can clear out some of the tigers.
Korga sends you to find his engineer, a Goblin named Makael Bay because of course he is. Surprise surprise, Makael wants you to get some explosives for him, and Ji Firepaw wants you to kill things – Saurok, (violent-minded lizard-humanoids created by the Mogo, Pandaria‘s old slavemasters) have shown up. Ji suspects Aysa won’t be happy with a plan that involves explosives, and you’re the lucky Pandaren who gets to go tell her about it.
You report to Delora Lionheart, an Alliance Human, who tells you Aysa is busy fighting to protect her crew from the attacking Saurok. At her request, you rescue injured sailors and grab medical supplies, and Jojo gets you to kill Saurok Deepscale Tormentors, along with their leader, Vordraka, while you’re about it.
Aysa fights Vordraka with you, and she’s concerned about Ji and the others… until you tell her about Ji‘s plan to use explosives to blast the ship out of Shen-zin Su. Then she’s more concerned about both her turtle home and herself dying because of some hotheaded Pandaren. She rushes to him but the explosives are already all set up, and she tells him she won’t stop him, but he better know what he’s doing. You get a short cutscene where you see that the explosion did work to dislodge the ship, but it also tore a giant wound in Shen-zin Su‘s side.
Aysa is not happy and she pretty much tells Ji she’ll never forgive him. Ji is miserable, but he’s determined to save Shen-zin Su. He sends you to find as many healers as you can and to protect them from Saurok attacks as they’re healing the turtle.
Ultimately, Ji‘s plan works as you’re able to save Shen-zin Su. Ji did what he had to do and is sorry Aysa doesn’t seem to understand that. For now, it’s time to return to the Temple of Five Dawns and sort out what’s to be done about these new allies. There’s a little confrontation between Korga and Delora just to remind you that Horde and Alliance do not get along.
At the Temple, you find the spirit of Master Shang Xi, who’s super proud of you. But the foreigners have brought some dire news. It’s not just Shen-zin Su that needs healing. The whole world is in turmoil and needs your help. So now you have a choice. Join the Alliance? Or joint the Horde?
Aysa Cloudsinger picks the Alliance. Ji Firepaw chooses the Horde. You can speak to each of them to hear their views. Aysa thinks some risks should never be taken because they’re too dangerous. (Even though that risk saved your life and your home, but whatever Aysa. #ForTheHorde.) Ji thinks sometimes it’s valuable to have the courage to do what needs to be done. Both of them are fairly bitter about each other’s choices, both of them have really gotten on with these new allies. (Ji really likes Korga‘s sense of honor and boy do I feel bad for him – he’s about to join Garrosh‘s Horde. He has no idea. #ForTheAlliance)
It’s a tough choice, though the description for the Horde is less than complimentary.
Whatever you decide, you get a cutscene that shows you flying away with either Aysa or Ji in a hot air balloon.
If you join the Horde, you land outside Orgrimmar‘s gates with Ji Firepaw. He tells you there are many problems out here beyond the Wandering Isle, and Master Shang Xi would want you to try help solve those problems. You need to speak to Warchief Garrosh Hellscream.
Garrosh asks you to walk with him as he tells you about the Horde. How some call them barbarians, but they’re wrong because Horde members are all really good in battle. (I’m not sure he knows what ‘barbarian’ means at this point.) He goes on to tell you that Pandaren who joined the Alliance are now your enemies. They’re dead to you. (Convenient that your enemies are dead.) In short, you’re welcome to the Horde, providing you pull your own weight and remain loyal.
If you join the Alliance, you land outside Stormwind’s gates with Aysa Cloudsinger and Jojo Ironbrow. Aysa tells you that it’s your duty to spread the Tushui philosophy and that the best place to start is here at the heart of the Alliance. You need to speak with
King Varian Wrynn King Anduin Wrynn?
This was a genuine surprise to me and not a little confusing. I know for a fact that Alliance Pandaren used to speak to Varian, as he was still king during the events of Mists of Pandaria. Apparently, they changed this to Anduin after Varian died on the Broken Shore. But Horde Pandaren still meet a phased-in Garrosh Hellscream, even though he hasn’t been Warchief since the beginning of Warlords of Draenor. What’s more, the Horde introduction questline has been changed to no longer include a bit that I’ll go into later, so they changed so much but no more? So why do Alliance Pandaren have to meet an Anduin when, at this time in the story, Varian was definitely still King? Do Horde Pandaren and Alliance Pandaren arrive in different timezones? What’s going on??
Anduin welcomes you to the Alliance… And that’s it.
It’s a bit of a letdown.
And that’s the end of the Pandaren starting area.
Both introductions used to be longer. Thankfully, Youtube exists, and I was able to find videos posted by MMO-Champion about both original questlines. The Horde one can be found here, and the Alliance one can be found here.
If you join the Horde, After Garrosh asks you to walk with him and gives you his little speech, he takes you to the Valley of Honor, claiming to have a gift for you. You meet with him inside the Ring of Valor (or the Brawler’s Guild) where you and Ji Firepaw are pitted against some monstrous creatures to prove your ability. (Garrosh gives the worst gifts.) Once you’ve won, you return to Garrosh, who’s very impressed. Welcome to the Horde.
If you join the Alliance, Varian asks you to walk with him, and he tells you that allies are always needed, but you will be expected to do your bit. The Alliance all look out for each other. He also tells you that the Horde are barbarians (hey, Garrosh was right about that prejudice) and those Pandaren that joined them are now your enemies. Friendships with Horde Pandaren will not be tolerated. Finally, Varian needs to know if you can fight. He has you trying to land a hit on him. You finally manage it, and he’s very pleased. Welcome to the Alliance.
And that used to be the end of the Pandaren starting area. I kinda miss it and wish they didn’t make the change, but no doubt they had their own reasons. One thing I love is the fact that we can go back to the Wandering Isle now at – least, Monks can.
We’re officially done with low-level starting areas. There’s also Death Knight and Demon Hunter starting areas to go through, as well as the recruitment quests for all the Allied Races, but for now, I think I want to do some low-level questing first.
Lok’tar ogar, and Zandalar Forever x
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