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WoWJan 25, 2016 3:00 pm CT

Zen Meditation: Where are the champions of Monk lore?

Pandaren Monk

In the lull before Legion, the class hasn’t undergone terrible many iterations. Frankly, we aren’t expecting to see more changes to the live game, and one can only write so many posts about how to use Tigereye Brew. So what should we be talking about while we wait for more Monk news from the alpha? I asked you what you wanted to know, posting to Twitter to find out what types of questions people had concerning Monks.

Most were pretty general questions that I either tried my best to answer on Twitter (or will answer in future posts), but one in particular stood out as being pretty different altogether, asking about Monk lore. Just when will we see more (non-player) Monks in the Warcraft universe?

Dyecast asked:
when will there be more about great monks? Many classes have characters they can look up to. Chen doesn’t count

To be honest, I nearly decided this would be better hit on in Know Your Lore. Despite the fact that I’ll admit I’m a pretty big lore nut myself, Anne and Matt’s overall knowledge of Azeroth and the surrounding universe more than trumps mine. However, I think Dyecast brings up a pretty good point — what kind of Monk lore have we really seen in comparison to other classes? While other classes see representations of themselves among major characters of different races, Monks are a bit different.


The martial masters

Now — confession. I actually really enjoy writing in my free time. I bet nobody could have possibly guessed that someone writing a bi-monthly column on a Warcraft-related site would also actually really enjoy writing in general. I also really enjoy reading. Growing up, my nose buried itself in a book more often than… well, whatever people generally bury their noses in. Specifically, I’ve always loved the fantasy genre.

However, not terribly much of our genre really has monks. The Cleric Quintent from R.A. Salvatore has a monk character (and was actually supposed to star one — however, at last minute, Dungeons & Dragons removed the class. Big mistake!), but not terribly many other spring to mind. You can probably think of plenty of fantasy novels with assassins, hunters, mages, even priests… But not many with monks.

Perhaps the lack of actual depictions of the class in fantasy overall led to the limited number of martial masters in what is very Dungeons & Dragons-esque game. Perhaps this is why we have so few Monk characters — other than Chen — in Warcraft lore.

Without many Monk-themed characters to look up to — within or outside of Warcraft — I have to wonder just why players enjoy the class so much.


Representatives of Brewmasters, Mistweavers, and Windwalkers

Let’s take a look at the Monks we actually do see in Warcraft lore: most of the Pandaren we see in Mists of Pandaria are Monks. The Shado-Pan, in particular, are a sect of Monks which worked to protect the rest of Pandaria from the Sha — making the downfall of Taran Zhu all the more interesting.

In case you’ve forgotten, when players reach Pandaria, they encounter a temple that’s absolutely crawling with Sha. Near the end of this quest chain, we encounter a big Pandaren guy that seems pretty angry — Taran Zhu. He leads the Shado-Pan and decided that the emergence of the Sha en mass came as a result of the Horde and Alliance entering Pandaria. When we storm Shado-Pan Monastery, we meet up with Taran Zhu and another Monk, Master Snowdrift — both of whom have been infected by the Sha that overtook the monastery. But despite that fall, these two could probably be considered our master representations of Windwalker.

Then, of course, Chen Stormstout represents Brewmasters. Thus, we can see that there were some important figures acting as representatives for both Brewmaster and Windwalker. But what about our healing brothers?

It may be a bit of a stretch, but Lorewalker Cho seems to represent the Mistweaver mindset fairly well — and I don’t mean just the fact that he makes us have tea with him in an early quest. A seeker of knowledge, he has taken up the idea of collecting and maintaining the lore and trials of the Pandaren, in addition to Pandaria as a whole. Consider that Mistweavers enlighten and soothe those around them; this indicates that perhaps they come from the Lorewalker sect, in a sense.

Additionally, there are a few masters that we don’t specifically meet, but are introduced in other means. Consider Emperor Shaohao, who was never specified as a Monk, but once weilded the Mistweaver Wrtifact, Sheilun, Staff of the Mists. Perhaps he observes the Monk’s many mantras that are central to Pandaren culture. Also worth mentioning — Shaohao shrouded Pandaria in mists, which could be stretched into indicating that he may have been the original weaver of mists. (In other words, we can blame Shaohao for Pandaren — and Monks — having only recently being introduced to the game.) Still, Shaohao has the traits of many classes, and perhaps shouldn’t be labeled a Monk at all, despite Sheilun.

Additionally, Archaeology in Pandaria mentions another Very Important figure — Kang, the Fist of First Dawn. We can thank Kang for introducing the Monk way of life — after all, he was very first of us!  However, he never made it into the game as an NPC, and as learning about him requires Archaeology, he’s easily missed.

mistweaver monk header

But what about our future?

Monks came as a playable class in Warcraft 3 mostly through Chen Stormstout. Meanwhile, other classes were woven throughout the lore. Paladins had Uther and Arthas, Death Knights had Arthas and Ner’zhul. As the totems of Orc culture, Shaman have had many great heroes to look up to. The list goes on.

The truth is that Monks simply have not been woven into lore as much as other classes. This creates a hole in the spaces outside of Pandaria: while other classes have been part of the lore from almost the very beginning, Monk lore involves being cut off from the rest of the outside world until the mists dissipated.

Does this mean that new lore should likely be added to also incorporate Monks? Personally, I say yes. Being a Monk does not make a character simply Pandaren. In fact, it would be pretty interesting to have a major Monk character who isn’t Pandaren. While it does make sense for our symbolism to take on their culture, given its roots, it would still be nice to see a new face, whether Night Elf or Human or Orc or Troll or anyone else.

As it stands, my current play status in Legion‘s alpha has not yet indicated that we will see another Monk character. However, I think that it would do our class as a whole some good to see a new major lore character. When we create our characters and our classes, oftentimes the major lore characters have an influence upon this. I’ve played alongside many a Paladin that loved Uther as a character, and many a Warrior that strongly resembled Varian Wrynn. There’s more than enough room to add more story, and thus, to add more Monks to inspire players.

In the comments, what sort of new Monk lore character would you love to see?

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