The race of sentient Pandas may finally get the spotlight in the next expansion for World of Warcraft.
The Pandaren were first introduced on a lark. Samwise Didier, chief artist of the Warcraft universe, drew the race of panda bears who walk on their hind legs to include in one of Blizzard's notorious April Fool's webpages in the days leading up to WarCraft III's release in 2002. The surprising fan response in support of such a race led to Blizzard including a Pandaren Brewmaster in the Frozen Throne expansion. There have been hints of Pandaren culture present in World of Warcraft, not the least of which was the minipet sold to support the Make-a-Wish Foundation. But now due to a trademark filing by Blizzard, it's a pretty good bet that we'll see more of the pandas in the next WoW expansion with the title Mists of Pandaria.
Blizzard submitted a trademark for that title a few weeks ago and based on other filings for Burning Crusade, WotLK and Cataclysm, it looks like this has a good chance of being the name of the next expansion. Pandaria is the name of the island that the Pandaren are from, rumored to be somewhere in the far seas west of Kalimdor. A new island or continent is always a good place for an expansion as it means brand new acreage for designers to plop in zones.
Also of note is an image released on the Warcraft Facebook page of three Ethereals selling stuff in an Alliance settlement. As a refresher about the race first introduced in Burning Crusade, Ethereals are beings made of light concerned mostly with profit and trading. The three vendors have interesting titles: Arcane Reforger, Void Storage, Transmogrifier. I have no idea what that's all about but if I learned anything from Calvin and Hobbes it means that in speaking to Vaultkeeper Razhid, I'll be able to create any item that I can imagine.
Will the Pandaren and the Ethereals be the two new playable races in Mists of Pandaria? Which side will they be on, Horde or Alliance? Is the image on Facebook just a red herring from Blizzard?
I suppose we won't find out for certain until BlizzCon in October. If I didn't let my WoW account expire last month, I'd definitely be a quiver with anticipation. For now, I'm only slightly vibrating in curiosity.