With all the announcements about Mists of Pandaria, one of the most important questions that was running through my mind was: Where is Chen Stormstout?
In Warcraft III, Chen was a Pandaren Brewmaster who had left Pandaria to travel Azeroth, searching for exotic brewing ingredients. In his travels, he met Rexxar, and asked him to fetch him some strange ingredients. Rexxar, who apparently wanted the quest reward, got him what he asked for, and Chen made an awesome brew which they bonded over. Chen decided to travel around with Rexxar to better check out the cool new land (Durotar) he had found himself in.
They (and a Darkspear Troll, Rokhan) went to Theramore Island on behalf of the Horde, to find out why the humans there had been attacking them. After meeting up with Jaina, they found out that her father, Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, was behind the attacks, as he still hated and feared the Horde from the wars. He wanted to crush Thrall's new Horde before they could settle and grow too powerful to defeat.
The Grand Admiral tried to have Rexxar, Chen and Rokhan arrested, but Jaina helped them escape. As a result, Daelin seized control of Theramore and began launching attacks on the Horde. Jaina tried to convince her father that Thrall's Horde was different and simply wanted to live, not conquer, but the Grand Admiral refused to listen. In the end, Jaina realized her father's obsessive hatred would only lead to pointless deaths on both sides, and she helped Thrall and the Horde lay siege to Theramore, culminating in the death of the Grand Admiral at Rexxar's hands.
This small but important role is especially noteworthy for one major reason - it firmly, 100% establishes Pandaren as being canonical. A lot of people who don't like Pandaren have been complaining that they're a joke race, or that they were never actually part of the game universe. But the events of Warcraft III ARE canon. Arthas vs. Illidan, Grom and Thrall defeating Mannoroth, the purging of Strathholme...and Grand Admiral Proudmoore being killed because Jaina sided with the Horde, for peace. If you ignore one of these historical events, you may as well ignore them all.
To put it bluntly, it's fine if you don't LIKE Pandaren or if you don't WANT them to be the next race. But if you say they don't exist and have never been in the Warcraft universe, you're WRONG. Simple as that.
Anyway, we've never seen Chen in World of Warcraft, nor any other Pandaren (other than the Pandaren Monk vanity pet, which is a joke. After all, there's also mini versions of Kel'Thuzad and Ragnaros.) We have, however, "seen" Chen in-game when a player purchases the Monk from the Blizzard store, as the letter in the mail that comes with the pet is from Chen. Furthermore, he's also a special Neutral card in the WoW Trading Card Game, usable by both Horde and Alliance players. He also has a toy! (Which you can still buy from the Blizzard store.)
Since I first started playing WoW, one of the earliest traditions while leveling was a little random quest in the Barrens called Chen's Empty Keg.
It was an unusual quest, in that you came across it randomly in your travels, in the form of a little keg just sitting out in the wilderness. You wouldn't always find it - I think I got it about half the time? But anyway, if you found the keg it started a quest to go find someone who would know about it.
This...was harder than it sounded, because remember, this was before quest objectives were marked on your map. So you were really in the dark with this one! But anyway, the person you needed to find was Brewmaster Drohn, an orc in Ratchet. Drohn would then offer a few mini quests (all called Chen's Empty Keg) which entailed going out and fetching a few random body parts from Barrens animals, to make another brew that he "learned from Chen."
This was actually an important quest back in the day, as it was one the only repeatable quests players could do to increase their Orgrimmar rep. Since the only other real alternative was farming cloth, many players preferred to simply do this quest over and over again rather than scrape together or purchase expensive cloth. On my original server, I did this quest many times on my Troll Hunter, because I despised the raptor mounts and wanted a wolf instead.
Sadly, the animals required for this quest were wiped out in the Cataclysm, so it is no longer possible to complete this quest. (Though I have read reports that you can still *get* the quest from Drohn...) The only real in-game link to Chen was gone.
But with the Mists of Pandaria announcement, we learned that one of the first dungeons we'd explore in Pandaria would be...the Stormstout Brewery!
Apparently it's been overrun by the Verming and Hozu, two of the new races we'll be encountering on the island. We'll have to clean out the brewery...but will it be for Chen? His family? Or just because it's the right thing to do? I don't know!
But I hope Chen is there. Or at least somewhere on Pandaria!
I want to give him back his keg!