Base(s) of operations
Theaters of Operation
The Shado-Pan (or Shado-pan), also known as the "Sword in the Shadows" and the "Watchers on the Wall", are a secretive organization of pandaren with a ninja-like culture dedicated to protecting Pandaria. The Shado-Pan are in a timeless struggle with the sha and the mantid. As Pandaria has no standing army, it falls to them to defend the land, so other pandaren can go about their peaceful lives. Hopeful recruits who wish to join the Shado-Pan must undergo a trial named the Trial of the Red Blossoms every seven seasons, when the trees of the monastery turn red. The trial consists of three challenges, which are simple, but also deadly. The Shado-Pan are allied with the Golden Lotus and the August Celestials. The Shado-Pan are the most elite warriors of pandaren society and they understand the threat of the sha. Despite the arduous joining process, it is possible to retire from the Shado-Pan.
The Shado-Pan order, originally consisting of one-hundred warriors was founded by Emperor Shaohao 10,000 years ago under a charter, just before the Sundering occured. He knew that the dark energy of the sha - the physical embodiment of negative emotions like anger, fear, hatred or doubt - represented a great threat to the pandaren if allowed to fester beneath the land. He tasked the greatest warriors of Pandaria with the sacred duty to restrain and control the sha, and to defeat it wherever it darkens the hearts of their people. And so it was that mere hours after Emperor Shaohao bested his own anger, hatred, and violence, the first of the Shado-Pan took their knee and spoke an oath to the Last Emperor. The same words have been spoken to the Lord of the Shado-Pan by every Shado-Pan initiate who has passed the Trial of the Red Blossoms ever since.
Alliance-Horde War in Pandaria
Template:Wod-section The Shado-Pan sent several warriors to Draenor to aid in the fight against the Iron Horde, despite their small numbers. They found a fitting adversary in the arakkoa of Skyreach, whose deadly dance made use of winds similar to those which lighten the steps of the Shado-Pan themselves.
The Lord of the Shado-Pan is the leader of the order, currently Taran Zhu (and before him, his father). The rest of the order is divided into three "disciplines", each headed by a Master, who reports directly to the Lord. Shado-Pan-in-training are acolytes, who wear white scarves, while the main forces wear red scarves.
The Omnia discipline is led by Master Yalia Sagewhisper. They are charged with maintaining the wisdom, knowledge, and sacred traditions of the order. Classes known to be in this discipline include priests and mages. Omnia Mages can be found in Townlong Steppes holding open a portal between the Shado-Pan Garrison and Shan'ze Dao. Omnia Priests and Mages can also be found assisting adventurers seeking to gain reputation with the Shado-Pan. Frost and Fire mages have been witnessed among the ranks of the Omnia, along with Holy and/or Discipline priests. The discipline also contains scholars.
The Blackguard discipline is lead by Master Wan Snowdrift. The warriors of the Shado-pan must answer to the Blackguard master, and the master's blade tests the blade of each and every Shado-Pan, including the ones guarding their walls, such as the Serpent's Spine. Classes known to be in this discipline include warriors and monks.
The Wu Kao discipline is lead by Hawkmaster Nurong. They are the order's scouts, hunters, spies, and assassins. They bring death from the shadows and teach monsters to fear the night. Classes known to be in this discipline include hunters and rogues.
Trial of the Red Blossoms
Not just anyone can be a Shado-pan. Every seven seasons, the sacred trees of Shado-Pan Monastery grow blossoms of a fiery red: the sign to begin the trials for those wishing to join the order, a gauntlet of pain and rigor that kills most who submit to it. Only a maximum of six can pass all the trials. At least three months beforehand, each applicant is selected by Shado-pan agents from across Pandaria as a worthy candidate, often teenagers but some as young as 11 years old, and given a ring. Skillfully carved from a white tiger's fang with the order's snarling tiger symbol inlaid with silver across the top, the rings guarantee safe entrance through the front gates. The initiates must enter alone and told to bring no weapons or armor, as it would not help them (and if necessary, to wear some warmer clothes).
As the initiates stand on the Bridge of Initiation, the Master of the Omnia explains that the trial consists of three tests: the Test of Resolve (which they themselves will preside over), the Test of Strength by the Blackguard Master, and the Test of Spirit by the Wu Kao Master. While each is a traditional trial, each Master has the right to forgo tradition to conduct their Trial as they see fit. The Omnia master will also point out that each one is deadly for those that don't pass, and gives the candidates one last chance to change their minds about going through with the trial; while there is no dishonor with walking away at this point, neither will they ever be allowed to return. Once the ones that quit are escorted away, the master will offically begin the Trial of the Red Blossoms.
- Test of Resolve
The initiates must get to a small, tiger-shaped iron brazier on a rocky shelf at the other side of the lake, which the Bridge of Initiation hangs over, and retrieve a coin buried under the hot coals to return to the Omnia master in the grove. To continue, each initiate must get a coin, and there are only six. They are given vague advice about "swimming quickly" just before the collapsible bridge dumps them into the lake. Here is where listening to the advice of "no armor, no weapons" pays off; those that do not strip off their heavy gear in time drown, not to mention the ones that can't swim at all.
On the other side, six chains are provided to climb the twenty feet up to the brazier. Digging out the white-hot coin out will at least give them a blistered palm. They can then run back around the lake to the master, hand over the coin and motioned to wait at the side.
- Test of Strength
The initiates that pass are led to a training dojo by the Omnia master, who leaves them there for the Blackguard master. At the very center of the arena sit three massive bronze bells; ancient, sacred artifacts marked with words of power, crafted with magic and metallurgy to withstand the depredations of time, and each tuned to sound one perfect note. As part of their magic, they will not ring properly unless lifted and struck hard. Each bell hides a different type of death: the death that steals, the death that hides and the death that saves. The master will wait in the grove until they hear all three bells and then return. The master will then uncover the death that steals, leave, and lock the doors.
The death that steals is represented by venom, such as from the fangs of a bamboo python: it sneaks into the body through tiny little doors and leaves with your soul, like a thief. The death that hides can be represented by a stealthy hunter, like a tiger. The death that saves are weapons, so that the initiates can kill the animals. Part of the test is not just surviving it, but using your head to figure out the clues and discover which bell hides the weapons, instead of having to fight both animals at the same time. It also forces the initiates - who were all competitors in the previous trial - to work together, or die.
- Test of Spirit
It is unknown how a traditional Test of Spirit is conducted, as when the mists vanished from around Pandaria, mantid assassins from Grand Empress Shek'zeer attempted to smuggle a sha-infested tiger into the trial, in the hopes that untrained initiates would cause the sha to fully manifest and be killed by it. It could then go on to hide in the monastery and continue killing initiates and raise no suspicions, because initiates die at every trial anyway. Three surviving initiates defeated this sha, but were told by the Wu Kao master that the sha have marked them and now know everything about them. Every encounter in the future would become more difficult and more terrifying. For their test, they were asked if they would still join the Shado-pan, willfully chosing to face the sha again for the rest of their lives, even knowing what senior students did not, and only veteran Shado-pan dared to face. The three agreed to join.
As for the blistered palms received from the white-hot coin, these heal into scars shaped like the face of the tiger minted on the coin - a permanent mark of the initiate's resolve.