Meet the new races of Pandaria...especially the Sha

We're going to encounter a bunch of new sentient races in Mists of Pandaria, some of them friendly, some of them not-so-friendly. Cory Stockton, WoW Lead Content Designer, gave us a breakdown of the races we'd encounter at Blizzcon. Here's what we know so far!

(These descriptions are paraphrased from Stockton's presentation, with the exception of the Sha. That bit is directly transcribed...for reasons that will be apparent later.)


The Jinyu are a race of fish-like creatures, kind of regarded as the wise men on Pandaria. They've been known to take their staff, stick it in the river and they can hear what the land is saying, it's literally talking to them. Players will see them across a wide number of zones, and they'll play into the story the whole way through.


The Hozu are a monkey-like race, they stand up on the hind legs and can walk around. They've been known to be really mischievous and like to play tons of pranks on the local Pandaren. They've been indigenous to the continent for a long time, and just like the Jinyu they show up in a lot of zones, as well as in the dungeons.


With the Verming, Blizzard really wanted to do a new kobold. The classic creature, whenever you see them you want to take them out. Players can fight them in droves, and because they're not too strong, players can fight a bunch of them at one time. The Pandaren have lots of farmland, and the Verming have dug tunnels under the farmland, and they're sucking the vegetables down underneath into their tunnels from below.


The Mantid are one of the "killer" enemy races. They will play a big role in the overarching story, and there will be whole raids/dungeons based around them. An insect race that's been on the island for millennia, lived next to the Pandaren the whole time but have been separated from the rest of the continent by a giant wall. Players will find out over the course of the expansion that the Mantid are starting to go a little crazy and they're starting to come through the wall in places, and players will have to deal with that. Unlike the other insect races like silithid, they're sentient creatures and can dress themselves. They're not a hive mind - they have their own houses and looks, can dress themselves, use weapons, etc.


Another ancient race, actually the first race on Pandaria before the Pandaren overthrew them over 12,000 years ago and took the island for themselves. And now the Mogu want it back. Players will see them in raids, dungeons, etc. Blizzard wanted a lot of villains for players to fight rather than one big bad guy. The Mogu are big and hulking, kind of an ogre-like race.


"And finally we've got the Sha. The Sha are really unique. Sha are the manifestation of negative energy on Pandaria. So if you imagine whenever someone gets killed or a fight happens, something like that on the island, any sort of battle (essentially what's happening with the Alliance and Horde once they get here), it releases Sha energy into the land. It's kind of a Shadowform creature, you're going to see it all over the place. Super aggressive, something you definitely want to take out. You can fight this guy as a raid boss for sure."

Of all the new races, my attention was immediately drawn to the Sha, for a few different reasons. First things first, they just sound cool. The manifestation of negative energy? That's pretty fun, and it really fits the peaceful nature of the Pandaren, the monks, etc.

We actually got a bit more detail about how the Sha work when Stockton talked about one of the zones, the Jade Forest, which is where the Alliance and Horde will be landing. Basically, the Alliance tries to befriend the Hozu, while Horde makes friends with the Jinyu, and they end up turning them against each other. This hostility releases a lot of negative energy, which of course releases/creates more Sha, which is "super bad." This is why the Pandaren aren't really big fans of either faction initially, because the Horde/Alliance have shown up in this pristine land and torn it apart with negativity.

Secondly, that's a pretty cool spider-ish look the Sha have, all spikes and fangs and tons of eyes. Very creepy, like a demonic ravager. Hmm, wait a minute, that sounds familiar. Wasn't there something like that in...Ulduar?


Pretty interesting! But still not what had hooked me. No, I actually freaked out a little when the Sha were announced:

Why was I so excited?

Sha...means Light.

So hey, that's pretty cool, these shadow, nightmare-creatures of darkness, their name means light? That's a nice touch of irony. And it is!


Sha means Light...IN DEMONIC.

(Also known as Eredun, and also the language of the Draenei, since they and the Eredar were originally the same race.)

Shattrath, City of Light.

Sha'tar, Born of Light.

And now these monsters of negative energy, the Sha.

Now, Pandaria's been isolated from the rest of Azeroth for thousands of years, way before the Draenei ever arrived, so it's not like Velen took a jaunt out there and taught the Pandarens the language of his people.

But if it wasn't Velen...

Who named these terrors? And why is someone on Pandaria speaking the language of demons? Did the Pandarens name them? And if so, why the HELL do they know that word? /paranoid

Then again, WE haven't found Pandaria until now...but that doesn't mean someone else hasn't been here first...

In closing, everyone's assuming that Pandaria is this pristine, pure land full of harmony and tranquility. And while it's true that the island has been untouched by war, how accurate is this assumption? I mean, the Mantids ARE going crazy for some unknown reason behind their wall, and there's these freaky shadow monsters whose names are demonic in origin.

Maybe it's just me, but I'd be VERY concerned about this apparent demonic presence, especially because everything seems so peaceful and wonderful.

Because all that means is that whatever IS there on Pandaria... really, really good at hiding.

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Unless it's rose in Demonic
then we just burn the place to the ground.

(The reason this is so interesting to me is because I used this EXACT hook in my Blizzard fiction submission - I had someone who definitely SHOULD NOT know the Eredar language cast a light spell by saying "Sha", which was a hint at his true, darker nature. And then a week later at Blizzcon - introducing, the Sha!)

17 Responses Subscribe to comments

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    OOOOH! MoP didn't grab me very much at first but the more I'm reading about and the more theories are proposed, the more excited I get. I really love this line of thinking, 'where does it all join up?' 'who did what, when?'. Keep it coming please!

    October 26, 2011 at 3:44 AM

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    After reading this, this is what came to my mind. Granted, been up for nearly 24 hours, so a little loopy.

    Now, silliness aside, something to consider. Demonic has made absolutely zero changes in the language between Outland, Azeroth, or wherever else. It's all one big deal.

    Now, I'm not 100% sure of the timeline of Pandaria vs. Well of Eternity, etc., but if the trolls were around at the time (a safe assumption), and given the troll warlocks, and other things (I forget what they're called, old Zandalari quests had something to do with it, for the gear stuffs), it makes sense that the name would be there, if there were any old interactions between trolls and pandaren.

    Alternatively, since pandaren have warlocks available, they obviously know about Curse of Tongues, and that it makes you speak Demonic for the duration, another lead-in to the naming process.

    Now, another bit of irony for you. Though Sha may, in fact, be "Light" in Demonic, consider that neither Shattrath nor the Sha'tar are particularly dark - in fact, they're rather sparkly. On the other hand, naaru are technically born of light and dark both (see, M'uru). In the same regard, both the Sha'tar and Shattrath have seen much darkness, and that darkness could indeed be seen as the "light" (read, Nobundo story).

    Also. Chen's Empty Keg. We may not have had any direct interaction on Pandaria itself, but we do know of their existence as a general rule, both as PCs and the game world at large.

    (I still go back to Burning Legion/trolls/Curse of Tongues, though, personally.)

    October 26, 2011 at 3:50 AM

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    Well, if this were the real world, I'd not get too hyped up by the naming of the Sha, because names mean different things in different languages. In fact, misinterpretation has been the order of the day for a lot of cultural communication, like the story of how Cortez reached the Yucatan and asked one of the natives whom he'd taken captive what the place was called. "Ma c'ubah than," the native said, which the Spanish thought meant "Yucatan." What the native had actually said was "I don't understand you."

    Of course, this being an invented world, you can put a pile of money on the Legion's influence and you'd probably be right.

    October 26, 2011 at 3:59 AM

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    @Tomaj As of now, Warlocks are not listed as one of the classes Pandaren players can select (this is according to Blizzard's official MoP site). There seems to be some confusion around this, though, and I recall reading a question from one of the Q&A's where a fan asked about this.

    Isn't it possible that the Sha named themselves and told the other creatures of Pandaria that name? This could open up some equally interesting questions about why this manifestation of negative energy can speak Demonic, but I'm guessing that would still be a much tidier explanation than trying to figure out why the Pandaren know this word on their own.

    October 26, 2011 at 6:09 AM

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    That is pretty cool. You are right, the Sha sound a little bit of awesome.

    I love the mantid concept art. Now if that was a playable race I would be all over that like white on rice. They look fantastic.

    October 26, 2011 at 7:21 AM

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    The Tauren/Shu'halo names for the sun and the moon are "An'she" and "Mu'sha" -- another use of the "sha" syllable as a root word for "light", from an entirely different linguistic tradition than Eredar. I've heard that in the RPG books, the Pandaren are described as having originated from the central region of pre-Sundering Kalimdor... perhaps the Pandaren and Shu'halo languages share linguistic roots because of very early, long-lost to history interactions between the two races?

    October 26, 2011 at 7:28 AM

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    This is why I love your blog. I would never ever in a million years have caught this. Super cool.

    October 26, 2011 at 10:42 AM

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    @Tzufit yep, talked about that on twitter. XD I blame my loopiness at the time. Still, the other Pandarian races (those that are not pandaren) still have the option to be warlocks, so it still stands to reason that they have had some interaction with the class.

    October 26, 2011 at 11:39 AM

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    The concept of the Sha raises some big questions given that the central mechanic of World of Warcraft is combat.

    What happens to the energetic balance when you go wipe out all those Verming? Presumably they experience their own deaths negatively. What happens when you wipe in a raid? Each member of your raid causes Sha energy to be released into the land (which the Jinyu is listening to). Does raiding cause you to lose rep with the Jinyu? What about 5-mans? Even in successful ones, you end up killing a lot of someones, which again releases Sha. What about "kill 10 rats" quests? All that combat releases negative energy into the land. In a way, the Sha is a little bit of karma. The more you fight, the more you empower an aggresive, hostile enemy. You don't escape that kind of karma with purples.

    Pandaria is this pristine, pure land full of harmony and tranquility? Except for the Mogu who apparently hold millenial grudges. And there's a huge wall between the Pandaren and the Mantids? That kind of engineering feat doesn't arise from harmony and tranquility.

    October 26, 2011 at 3:34 PM

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    Lues Jenkins

    You are such a nerd in all the right ways!! I was so not into this expansion because I was sure that Azshara and N'zoth were the next villains and they would bring the Legion back in... and I got pandas. But with the info coming out and you playing hype man, I must admit I'm having a massive change of heart. Waiting for the fallout from the destruction of Theramore now!

    October 27, 2011 at 7:27 PM

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    This is an awesome post. Side note give the alliance pandas I want to be a fish man.

    October 28, 2011 at 11:51 AM

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    Actually, I had a different theory;

    There are Titan repositories in the Mogu Raid (or so I remember anyways), there is an insectoid race on Pandaria and there is that stained glass window in Ulduar. Sha are also created through negative acts (Chaos/Violence.)

    It could be entirely likely that the Sha are the manifestations of an Old God who is near or under Pandaria.

    Especially if the Mogu were originally the owners and titan-created to be Jailors. It's not unusual for a Titan construct to go rogue, for the most part. Why they decided to resume their duties, no idea.

    And the Mantid; it could be that they are fleeing from their home because the Old God has awoken due to the Cataclysm and is going back to reclaim his former insectoid slaves. That's a bit of a stretch though.

    October 28, 2011 at 10:34 PM

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    Considering that the Pandaren are loosely based on Chinese/Asian cultural themes, the name Sha could also be from the Chinese word that means "Fever" or "Disease" caused by disrupted Qi.

    October 28, 2011 at 10:40 PM

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    More uses of "sha" in the context of being negative energy.

    Cool theorizing nonetheless! And good catch on the Ulduar images...I have always assumed that those represented Old Gods, but the resemblance is striking!

    October 29, 2011 at 1:18 AM

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    Well, I'd imagine that if the pandaren race as a whole at least dabbled in Monkness, it would allow them to fight off enemies and chase away annoying rabbids without being hateful about it, thus not creating Sha. But the alliance and Horde dont know how to do that.

    I would like to point out something.
    I was thinking what it would mean for something negative and demonic to be named "light". Well what is something that is pure negative. Shadow, darkness, ect. What is its opposite? Light. What are creatures made of Light? Naruu. What creatures are made of light and periodically turn into darkness? Naruu. Thus proving Light and Shadow are the same thing, just different polarities (or somesuch).

    Now what is a semi ethereal creature with pointed, segmented, weirds physical bodies? Naruu....and (if you look at that picture) Sha. Naruu have beautiful crystalin forms, made of energy and solidified energy. Well what would a creature that is like a Naruu but instead of being light that turns to darkness when it dies, of going the opposite....what would that look like. Probably simular to that Sha.

    Just an idea.

    October 29, 2011 at 2:40 AM

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    Interesting post. Considering its Chinese meaning, I'm not sure "Sha" is intended to have any Demonic connections, but it's fun to think about regardless. Since the Sha are supposedly kept prisoner beneath Pandaria, I'd be more inclined to connect them with the Old Gods.

    I'm more interested in the Mogu and Mantids. Maybe it's just me, but the picture of the Mogu reminds me of an Asian-inspired Vrykul. Couple that with the supposed Titan connections the Mogu have, and I'd be inclined to view them as a Vrykul subrace.

    The Mantids will likely be another offshoot of the Aqir, like the Qiraji and Nerubians, which pleases me, as those are both very interesting races.

    Also, this is the second time I've made this comment, cause Blogger's comment system apparently sucks.

    October 29, 2011 at 9:45 AM

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    Thanks for comments, all! The possible Naaru connection is an interesting one - the whole "two sides of the same coin, one cannot exist without the other" dichotomy is very interesting, as it definitely seems to exist for both the Naaru (as we know) and for the Sha, with the positive/negative energy idea. Perhaps this is something similar, only it evolved into a slightly different state, involving emotions? Or perhaps it's really just that simple - that "positive energy" = Light!

    It'll be fun to see what we learn about the Sha and the energy system on Pandaria, that's for sure. :D

    October 30, 2011 at 1:08 PM