Because it’s never too early to think about the next patch.
Okay, so, a little bit of (spoilery) context here. And I’m spoiling some of the details for myself, but wowpedia and wowhead aren’t entirely quest-ready, so some of the details here will have to wait.
The Sha we meet in Pandaria in 5.0 are created from the negative emotion of the Last Pandaren Emperor, in some kind of process I haven’t learned about yet. He removed Fear, Anger, Doubt, Despair, Violence and Hatred from himself, and those initial Sha were starved for millennia until the war the Horde and Alliance brought to Pandaria presented such a grand buffet of negativity and death that they basically exploded. Think how Occu’Thar was a cute demon dog in a small cage in 4.0, then in 4.2 he broke out and ate so many guards and other demons that he got stuck in a room. Except the Sha don’t have a room. They have all of Azeroth. Or at least Pandaria – and that’s enough for now.
During the course of 5.0, the Sha of Doubt escapes from its imprisonment in the Jade Forest and is defeated in the Temple of the Jade Serpent, the titular serpent of which it (he?) has grown obsessed with. The Sha of Despair escapes from its bindings in the Temple of the Red Crane and spreads gloom over Krasarang until it is defeated. Within Kun-Lai Summit, three Sha – Hatred, Violence and Anger – corrupt the land and the Shado-Pan Monastery.
The biggest of the lot, with good reason, is the Sha of Fear. Released by the war brought to the Jade Forest, this Sha ((Heavy spoilers)) moves across Pandaria to the (whatever the Dread Wastes’ historical name is) Mantid Empire, and corrupts the Grand Empress, Shek’zeer. She coerces almost her entire race into giving themselves over to the Sha, making it the most powerful Sha on Pandaria, and corrupting the entire Mantid Empire into a twisted mockery of its former glory. The Mantid under the Sha swarm over the Shado-Pan Wall a century earlier, taking the Pandaren completely by surprise. The Sha devastate Townlong Steppes, forcing the Yaungol to intrude upon the territory of the Pandaren in Kun-Lai Summit, and perhaps even causing the Mogu to reawaken and strike out with their Zandalari allies to retake their ancient holdings. After the Mantid are defeated by the warriors of the Klaxxi, the Sha is so powerful that it manages to break into the Terrace of Endless Springs and attempt to corrupt even the purest water of Pandaria before it is finally defeated.
The Sha, reawakened by the Horde and Alliance, have ravaged the many races of Pandaria – Pandaren, Mantid, Mogu, Hozen, Virming and Jinyu alike. It will already take a long time for all involved to rebuild. We have perhaps covered an immense story of expansion-size proportions already. But this is not the end.
Patch 5.1.0 will bring with it the main armies of the Horde and Alliance.
That’s right. The main armies. Those who were shipwrecked on Pandaria were a small proportion, a single fleet engaged in a single battle. Not ground troops. All naval. And just look at the devastation they have already wrought upon Pandaria.
The entire homeland of the Mantid is cursed for years. Their Grand Empress is dead and the remnants, still in swarm mode, are barely held in check by the provisional rulership of the Klaxxi until the new Grand Empress matures. All the greatest heroes of the Mantid have had to be recalled to save them from utter destruction, and their cultural history and total societal architecture has perhaps been lost. And there was much beauty in these insectoids, even if they had the same evil origins as the Qiraji.
The Yaungol have been driven out of their home and into war with the Pandaren for space to live. The Townlong Steppes are devastated by the Mantid Swarm, and will also probably take years to recover. The Yaungol have lost many to Mantid and Pandaren.
The wall protecting mainland Pandaria from the swarm of the Mantid has been damaged – and it was originally devised by Mogu. No Pandaren in history has been able to design architecture superior to that of the Mogu. The Pandaren now have an eternal weakspot in their defences against the Swarm – and the Swarm is still due in a century.
The forces of the Pandaren have had much of their blood drained by events they have had barely any control over. Their society has been shaken to the core by the rediscovery of all of Azeroth, the death of their emperor, the release of the Sha, the war and devastation wrought upon their land, and the knowledge that the Pandaren of Shen-zin Su had survived for so many years.
The Hozen, Jinyu and Virming have all been set back in some ways, no doubt, but they are minor races in this train of thought, ones who no doubt affect Pandaria but who are not as critically important in this story.
The Mogu have returned from who-knows-where attempting to reclaim Pandaria. They have found their lands abandoned or destroyed, with the way Pandaren rule no doubt a mockery of their own empire. They have seen how the peaceful attitude of the Pandaren has led to their own downfall and the ruin of Pandaria, and they no doubt intend to reinstate their perfect rule (which won’t happen and will just make things worse because they’ll probably strengthen any Sha remnants around).
But I want to talk about the biggest spoiler of the lot. And what this means for 5.1:
‘For the most part, the Sha issues will be tackled by players in 5.0. BUT… not everyone wants to let sleeping Sha lie. Someone might start stirring up trouble beginning with the patches.’ – Dave ‘Fargo’ Kosak at the Best Buy Developer Q&A.
What this means is that someone wants to utilise the Sha for their own ends. And I can see three potential culprits for this:
- The Mogu. I’ve already mentioned that they’ve been out of power for long enough for the Sha not to potentially be remembered as a significant threat, especially if they’re arrogant enough. They might view the Sha as the key to overthrowing the Pandaren and reestablishing their own empire.
- The Mantid. These factor in slightly more than the Mogu, as many of the Mantid remaining in 5.1 will have already tasted power as the servants of the Sha – after losing that, some will understandably want it back. They can’t look beyond their lust for power, even though if they release more Sha it will spell doom for their own empire and for all of Pandaria. They will only lose everything, as will the Mogu by underestimating the power of the Sha.
- The Horde – more specifically Garrosh. There’s already threads suggesting that -something- will corrupt Garrosh, and while we don’t know what, it could easily be the Sha. Especially if he tries to utilise them as a weapon against the Alliance. Think about what the returning soldiers will speak of. Great behemoths of darkness, devouring everything in their wake and leaving the land dead. This is the greatest weapon Garrosh could ever use against the Alliance – and if he thinks he can get one, then he will try. And it may well be the end of him.
Then there’s our wild card. Wrathion.
Yes, Wrathion. He has agents all over Pandaria. He sees and hears everything that happens. He knows what we mortals are doing, and we will be his agents against the darkness of the Sha. And if he too tastes that power, and can use it to his own ends – to unite the Alliance and Horde for his own future plans – who says he won’t?
What is Garrosh doesn’t end up corrupted? What if Wrathion places the idea of using the Sha as a weapon in the Horde’s head? What if Wrathion is the one who causes Garrosh to seek a Sha on Pandaria to use as a weapon?
What if Wrathion -gives- Garrosh a Sha, so that he will lead the Horde to ruin and cause renewed relations between the two factions? He’s not above killing every member of his own Flight, so corrupting the Warchief of the Horde to foster greater peace is not a great step. And no one will ever know.
Except us. Because we’re his agents. Every player does that chain, every player that can zone into LFR can -do- that chain, and we certainly don’t know what’s involved beyond the 5.0 chain.
Now, that’s a dramatic conclusion, but there’s a noticeable flaw in this plan. There are no longer any Sha. The strongest ones have all been wiped out.
Or have they?
More spoilers here, but the Sha are born from the last breaths of the Old God Y’Shaarj, as you will find out upon reaching exalted with the Klaxxi. He cursed the land of Pandaria forever, so that all negative emotion would manifest and unleash chaos upon the land. The Sha we meet in 5.0 are the ones that were most powerful in the minds of the Pandaren – Despair, Violence, Fear, Anger, Hatred and Doubt.
But 5.1 brings the Alliance and the Horde. Their war. And their emotions.
Which they definitely do not control.
Credit to Rades of Orcish Army Knife for most of these, but there are so many Sha that 5.1 could propel into full behemoth status.
Grief. War. Death. Sadness. Sorrow. Greed. Envy. Lust. Sloth. Lies. Apathy. Pride. Decay. Atrophy. Misery. Terror. Rage. Horror. Chaos. Oblivion.
Each one of these are negative emotions that could be experienced on Pandaria by huge numbers of troops not skilled in controlling these emotions like the Pandaren. The Sha that result from them could be bigger, more powerful, more destructive and devastating and uncontrollable than any that have come before. And those that came before? Who says they’re not going to come back too?
One last idea. What if we’re not besieging Orgrimmar?
What if we’re saving it from the Sha? Sha that Garrosh sought to control because of the honeyed words of a draconic prince, brought back by wild-eyed and awed soldiers? Sha that corrupted Garrosh totally and would destroy all of Orgrimmar and be loosed upon the world if the Horde and Alliance do not unite to take down Garrosh?
What if, my friends? Well, it would make us pawns of Wrathion from beginning to end of this expansion. And that little whelp would become even more dangerous than he was when he killed every black dragon in the world.