Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

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Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Drustai on Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:14 pm

Here's another one of my guides! As requested by Skarain, I've written up a quick and dirty guide to incorporating the sha into your roleplay (if you are RPing in Pandaria, that is!).

Most of the facts about the sha are common knowledge available through questing. Therefore I haven't included any quotes (aside from in the section about the Seventh Sha, which is theorycrafting). If anyone would like a quote to source any of the points I make, feel free to ask.

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Roleplaying the Sha

Introduction
The Sha are one of the most fascinating new additions in the Mists of Pandaria. Creatures of raw negative emotion, they have cursed the Pandarian continent for ages. With the Alliance and Horde bringing their devastating conflict to Pandaria, the effects of the sha have been exaggerated tenfold, threatening to overwhelm the foreigners and natives alike.

What are the sha? They are the remnants of an Old God struck down by the Titans ages ago. But what they are isn’t important. The sha aren’t threatening to reform into their original form, nor do they seek any ultimate cataclysmic goals. With the sha, all that matters is their effect on the present. If you'd like to read about the origins of the sha, then try WoWInsider's Know Your Lore article on the Sha.

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The Sha

The Cycle of Emotion
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Some might say the chicken, and others the egg. But one cannot truly say which. Afterall, the egg would have needed a chicken to lay it. The chicken would have needed to hatch from an egg and grow into adulthood.

The sha are much the same. The sha exist, and negative emotions exist. But both are needed for the other. The sha do not possess creatures in the way of demons. They do not force out a personality and replace it with their own. Their effects are much more subtle—at first.

For the sha to have any strength, they must be able to feed on negative emotions. Anger, fear, hatred, doubt, despair, and violence. The sha themselves do not outright create such emotions within their target. Rather, they nurse them. Encourage them. When a sha is near, natural feelings of anger become exaggerated. They build on themselves. Those who already possess these emotions will find themselves moving to the extremes. A mild anger will grow into a raging fury, while a simple brawl turns into manslaughter.

For centuries, Pandaria has had little to fear from the sha because the native Pandaren lived simple, happy lives that left little room for negative emotions to grow. With the Mists parted and the Alliance and Horde bringing their war to the island, these negative emotions have been given room to grow. The Alliance and Horde already bear their own deep hatreds and fears, let alone their propensity for violence. The Pandaren, likewise, have begun to fear for their lives, to doubt that anything can stop the war and the encroaching of the sha, to hate the foreigners for ruining their once-serene lands. The mantid, deep in the Dread Wastes, have become paranoid and see destruction at every turn; they have driven themselves into a frenzy to escape the coming doom.

Once this emotion builds to its breaking point, new sha are generated. Bursting forth from their host, or from the lands surrounding their hosts, these new sha then, themselves, begin to encourage further dark emotions.

The sha are a cycle, building upon themselves. The more sha present, the stronger the negative emotions. The stronger the negative emotions, the more sha are created.

It is no wonder that the sha have so rapidly consumed the Pandarian continent.

Corruption
Sha corruption typically acts in four stages.

Stage 1 – Negative Emotion
Though not yet corrupted by the sha, the first stage is the most important. When an individual begins to feel one of the 7 negative emotions the sha influence, they have opened their minds to the sha. The sha will attempt to influence these negative emotions, pushing the individual to more extreme states. Those of strong mental discipline and self-control may be able to resist this influence, but even the most restrained individuals will find themselves reacting stronger than they usually do.

Stage 2 – Aggravated Emotion
The second stage is when sha influence becomes apparent, but before any physical symptoms. At this stage, the individual has gone to the far extremes of the negative emotion. They will often lash out at their allies over the smallest slights, and have become a danger to everyone around them. Such an individual has allowed their emotion to control them. The sha are festering in such an individual, and may sometimes be strong enough to be expelled at this stage through Shado-Pan techniques, Hozen masks, Jinyu rituals, and other specialist magic in order to bring the individual under control. Other forceful techniques to quell the emotions, such as knocking the individual out, are also an option.

Stage 3 – Partial Possession
The third stage is when physical symptoms become present. Signs of sha corruption begin to manifest in the limbs of the target, slowly creeping up the arms and legs as it moves to incorporate the whole mass. As the corruption travels, the individual’s skin turns stark white, and an oily black tar-like substance begins to ooze and crawl over them. If you’re thinking the Venom Symbiote, then you’ve got the right idea. As the possession progresses, the individual may begin to develop bestial features reminiscent of sha creatures, such as claws and spines.

Partial possession represents the ‘birth’ of a new sha. If the individual is slain or otherwise stopped (even by simply knocking them out), the corruption will spill out from their body into a sha creature. If still in the very earliest stages of possession, such a sha may be very small and die without its host. As the possession spreads, however, the sha created upon expulsion will become larger and more powerful.

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Partially possessed Nazgrim being cured by Taran Zhu

Stage 4 – Full Possession
The fourth stage is when the sha within the individual completely takes over their body and mind. With such metamorphosis complete, the individual has become a sha. All lore so far indicates that when a person reaches stage 4, they can no longer be saved—expelling the sha is not possible because the person is a sha. The only solution available is to destroy the individual before they can spread their influence to others.

Corruption may also happen in areas, rather than people. Typically, such areas are where great amounts of sha corruption have taken place. If many of a village’s residents becomes possessed by anger, for example, then that village may find the very land itself twisting and oozing with sha corruption. Once so corrupted, the area will greatly exaggerate the emotions that birthed it, such as anger in this example.

Environmental corruption is often linked with the Great Sha—the great manifestations of each of the negative emotions that threaten to corrupt everything within their territories.

The Great Sha
The Great Sha are the seven massive creatures banished beneath the earth by the Last Pandaren Emperor, Shaohao. With the arrival of the Alliance-Horde War on Pandaria, they have gained the strength to break free from their bindings and spread their dark influence across the continent. While their influence has always been present in the form of the lesser sha, seeking to invade already-vulnerable minds, only since the Mists parted and the war was brought to Pandaria have negative emotions surged to such heights as to allow the Great Sha themselves to manifest.

By now, many of the Great Sha have been weakened by the efforts of Shado-Pan and other adventurers, perhaps banished back beneath the earth. However, their influence still permeates the land, and individuals residing in areas of their influence will find those specific emotions much harder control.

The Great Sha greatly amplify the emotions they reign over, though it should be noted that the other negative emotions are not entirely absent in these regions. While anger dominates Kun-Lai, feelings of fear or doubt could still manifest there.

The Great Sha are:

The Sha of Fear
The sha of fear is the most powerful of the sha so far seen. It has completely dominated the residents of the Dread Wastes, causing great paranoia in the hearts of the mantid. The mantid empress, fully possessed by the sha of fear, feared some great apocalyptic doom and struggled fiercely to combat it. Ultimately, that struggle became a self-fulfilling prophecy and lead to her demise.

Since the death of the empress, the sha of fear moved to the Terrace of Eternal Spring. Whatever its ultimate goals there were, it was ultimately defeated. However, as the strongest sha, it is likely that it, like the sha of anger, will soon be reborn.

The sha of fear is centered around the Dread Wastes and the Terrace of Eternal Spring (and thus the Vale of Eternal Blossoms and Veiled Stair). It has also left traces of itself behind in the Townlong Steppes, where it escaped from its burial grounds near the Niuzao Temple. Characters in these regions will find their fear greatly amplified by the sha’s presence.

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The Sha of Fear

The Sha of Anger
The sha of anger is one of the most persistent sha. With the anger between the Alliance and Horde, as well as anger from the native population towards the foreigners for the damage they have done to Pandaria, the sha of anger has proven difficult to eliminate. Even after being destroyed, it continues to rise again, sustained by the rage of Pandaria’s residents.

The sha of anger is centered around the Kun-Lai Summit. Characters in this region will find their anger greatly amplified by the sha’s presence.

The Sha of Hatred
The sha of hatred feeds on, and encourages, feelings of hatred, and is greatly empowered by the war between the Alliance and the Horde. Even those sworn to fight the sha, the Shado-Pan, became consumed by it, as they hated the foreigners for the destruction they have visited upon Pandaria. The Shado-Pan were ultimately saved by the very foreigners they despised, and took the battle to the sha of hatred in Townlong Steppes were they banished it once more. Despite this, the sha of hatred feeds upon an emotion deeply rooted in the Alliance and Horde soldiers, and so it may yet be reborn.

The sha of hatred is centered around the Townlong Steppes and the Kun-Lai Summit, especially the western regions. Characters in these regions will find themselves viewing their hated foes as unworthy of any kindness or mercy. Characters under the influence of the sha of hatred will be driven to commit genocide, making the sha of hatred potentially the most dangerous Great Sha despite its weaker strength.

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Taran Zhu, possessed by the Sha of Hatred

The Sha of Violence
The sha of violence resided in the Shado-Pan Monastery, and never saw fit to move far from it before the destruction of its physical manifestation. Though not as strong as the sha of anger and the sha of fear, the sha of violence has fed deeply on the actions of the war raging across Pandaria. Perhaps the only thing that prevents the sha of violence from attaining the strength of anger and fear is that many fighters truly feel their cause is just and noble, and are not seeking violence for violence’s sake.

The sha of violence is centered around the Kun-Lai Summit, primarily the northwestern mountains around the Shado-Pan Monastery. Characters in this region will find their desires towards violence greatly amplified by the sha’s presence.

The Sha of Despair
The sha of despair has fed greatly on the suffering caused by the war. Despair thrives on the feeling that there is no point in living, that all one has ever struggled and fought for is for naught. Like the sha of doubt, it was able to overrun one of the four celestial temples, exerting its influence even over the Red Crane, Chi-ji. Even after its destruction, the sha of despair has left its mark upon the temple grounds, and efforts are still being made to purify it.

The sha of despair is centered around the Krasarang Wilds. Characters in this region will find their ability to feel joy sapped, as great sadness threatens to pull them into a deep depression.

The Sha of Doubt
The sha of doubt has manifested from the feelings of hopelessness felt by those who cannot see a bright future on the horizon of the great conflicts spilling out across Pandaria. It was even able to overrun one of the four celestial temples, exerting its influence over the Jade Serpent, Yu’lon. Is this not a sign that the sha cannot be stopped, that the war will destroy Pandaria? Is it even worth fighting? Some heroes still felt so, and were able to push their feelings of doubt and save the Temple of Jade Serpent, banishing the sha of doubt back beneath the earth. Like the other sha, however, the conflict ensures that its influence is not yet over.

The sha of doubt is centered around the Jade Forest. Characters in this region will find it very difficult to feel confident and hopeful about the future. Can the war truly be won?

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The Sha of Doubt

The Seventh Sha
The seventh sha has yet to reveal itself, though it may possibly be the most powerful one. While we do not know exactly what this sha is, we do know the emotions it influences. The hints are given in the story, The Seven Burdens of Shaohao, where the seventh sha threatens to undo all of Shaohao’s work towards enlightenment.

Legend tells that he ascended to the Terrace of Eternal Spring, there to separate Pandaria from the rest of the world. But try as he might, he was unable: the ground trembled, but did not move. Soon, he began to doubt, and the Sha of Doubt began to emerge from the east. He began to fear, and the Sha of Fear begain ripping out its shackles to the west. Desperately, he called out to the Jade Serpent for help.

The Jade Serpent circled the Vale, and spoke to the beleaguered Emperor. "Pandaria is more than just the Pandaren Empire," she told Shaohao. "Your enemies to the west are as much a part of this land as your empire behind the wall."

Seeing that all things were connected in an eternal whole, and that his beloved land was more than just the Pandaren Empire, Shaohao at last understood. His staff clattered to the floor as his spirit became one with the land. When the world tore itself apart, Pandaria drifted quietly into the ocean. And as the Emperor's robes fluttered empty to the ground, the land became enveloped in impenetrable mists, hidden away from the rest of the world.


- The Seven Burdens of Shaohao

As seen from this writing, the seventh sha is likely connected with feelings of pride, egotism, greed, and selfishness. Only when Shaohao was able to learn humility, to understand that Pandaria included all of its peoples, not just the Pandaren Empire, was he able to expel this final sha and ascend.

The Seventh Sha is the most dangerous, as it is the most subtle. Characters who have feelings of great pride, or a selfish spirit, may find their desires exaggerated just as any of the other six emotions. The influence of pride may not be aggressive enough to take an individual beyond the 1st or 2nd stage, but it could encourage the development of other emotions, like doubt and fear. These other emotions may proceed as expected along the four stages, growing to extremes and corrupting the body, and may make it difficult to determine that the true source was actually the seventh sha.

The seventh sha is likely centered around the Terrace of Eternal Spring, and therefore includes the Veiled Stairs and Vale of Eternal Blossom. Coincidentally, this was the heart of the Mogu Empire, whom are known for their great pride. Characters in these regions may feel over-confident in their own abilities, dismissing others as pawns and fools whose only worth is in how they might best serve the character.

Conclusion
Though many of the Great Sha have been buried beneath the earth, their influence still lingers. The sha still linger across Pandaria, in numbers beyond anything the Pandaren have seen in centuries. As long as the war between the Alliance and the Horde continues to spill out over the continent, the sha will continue to make themselves manifest.

Characters roleplaying in Pandaria should keep the sha in mind at all times. Negative emotions represent something far more serious in Pandaria than in the rest of Azeroth, and can threaten to overwhelm even the most restrained and disciplined individual. When one feels a negative emotion, the sha energies of the continent will threaten to exaggerate it to its extremes, before causing actual, physical corruption of the individual. Even if this physical corruption is halted, smaller sha may still be expelled, and these represent a threat to all present unless destroyed.

The sha cannot be ultimately defeated. They cannot be truly destroyed. They can only be banished, and their influence fought. As long as a character dwells on Pandaria, they will always have to deal with the threat of the sha--and perhaps more importantly, on the threat from their own dark emotions.

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The Venom Symbio-- I mean, a sha.


Last edited by Drustai on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:01 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Thelos on Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:16 am

Excellent guide, though we have yet to see if there is a Seventh Sha, or whether #7 stands for something else, like for example attachment, to which the cure would be detachment! One might think of the general pandaren nonchalance, which other races often describe as "Laxness" or "Laziness" and which Pandaren players often describe as "Zen".

Or, if you prefer, Ignorance.
Spoiler:
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...That's not very likely, but still, I would enjoy a spooky Buddhistic spin on the whole thing.

I'm sure you wouldn't mind if I posted this guide on the Blooming Lotus forums?

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by erwtenpeller on Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:16 am

What I don't get though... How is "violence" an emotion?

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Amaryl on Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:28 am

i'm digging it

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by siegmund on Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:29 am

Would be cool if you added this link [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] to the post, not sure if it helped you in the making, but it's a nice read as well as yours.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Guest on Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:00 am

Looking good!

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Sadok on Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:02 am

erwtenpeller wrote:What I don't get though... How is "violence" an emotion?

If anything, I would align it with a pathological sadism - the will to inflict violence upon anything and everything, regardless of motives like anger or fear.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Rmuffn on Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:47 am

A great guide Drus!

Though I'm curious about the Celestials since they seem to empower / value counters to each respective Sha.

Like Xuen aids the adventurer to rid themselves of three negative emotions (or more so to fight them and banish them before they ever became a sha).

How does that work, can anyone do that or does it require the aid of a Celestial (and thus would be unattainable for the simple soldier?)

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Seranita on Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:52 am

ohh exelent guide.. acording to this that means my sonja is already at stage 1 and i didnt even know it o.O

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by erwtenpeller on Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:15 am

If that is true then Son'jah has always been in stage 1.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Thelos on Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:41 am

Erahn wrote:A great guide Drus!

Though I'm curious about the Celestials since they seem to empower / value counters to each respective Sha.

Like Xuen aids the adventurer to rid themselves of three negative emotions (or more so to fight them and banish them before they ever became a sha).

How does that work, can anyone do that or does it require the aid of a Celestial (and thus would be unattainable for the simple soldier?)

Read the Seven Burdens of Shaohao, that should help clarify how the Celestials are related to the Sha.

erwtenpeller wrote:If that is true then Son'jah has always been in stage 1.

Pretty much everyone except the Shado-pan and a handful of very disciplined and/or emotionless individuals (like robots) is.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Skarain on Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:53 am

Added a link from the Campaign post. Thank for Dru for writing this.

As for Erahn, the celestials are "gods". They have their own monks, their priesthoods. I imagine that you can ask for a blessing or guidance, just like you could a priest of Light. Being gifted a [Gift of the Great Crane] - "On the outside, simply a feather... but within, it bears a sacred power." - by such priest could help against the Sha, mainly through the faith you put into it. If you believe it can help, it does. That is least my belief from all faith-based magic.

Yu'lon's Wisdom will clear you of Doubt.
Chi-ji's Hope will drive away your Despair.
Niuzao's Courage will stand with you against Fear.
Might of Xuen will vanquish your hatred, anger and violence.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Rmuffn on Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:27 am

Paozi wrote:
Erahn wrote:A great guide Drus!

Though I'm curious about the Celestials since they seem to empower / value counters to each respective Sha.

Like Xuen aids the adventurer to rid themselves of three negative emotions (or more so to fight them and banish them before they ever became a sha).

How does that work, can anyone do that or does it require the aid of a Celestial (and thus would be unattainable for the simple soldier?)

Read the Seven Burdens of Shaohao, that should help clarify how the Celestials are related to the Sha.

erwtenpeller wrote:If that is true then Son'jah has always been in stage 1.

Pretty much everyone except the Shado-pan and a handful of very disciplined and/or emotionless individuals (like robots) is.

My point was more so in contrast to the guide, it'd be perhaps useful to have that info in it too.


@And Skar, I was more curious about the actual banishing that Xuen does for the adventurer, how canon is that, is that limited to the celestials alone (can only they summon your inner emotion out for you to fight and banish? Or can anyone help you with that?). Or maybe it's not even canon?

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Thelos on Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:00 am

Erahn wrote:

@And Skar, I was more curious about the actual banishing that Xuen does for the adventurer, how canon is that, is that limited to the celestials alone (can only they summon your inner emotion out for you to fight and banish? Or can anyone help you with that?). Or maybe it's not even canon?

Sure.

Why not? If people want to role-play out banishing of negative emotions, I don't see why you wouldn't go ahead and just do it.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Melnerag on Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:22 am

A hozen who builds a silly mask can draw out negative emotion. A waterspeaker doing a ritual can draw it out. A shado-pan with a toten can draw it out. So...yes. Everybody trained can do it. (Trained: Pandarian religious specialists: waterspeakers, hozen shamen, shamen, monks, priests)

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by erwtenpeller on Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:36 am

There's lots of things you could do. You could use dark evil magic to penetrate someone's mind and force the negative emotions out, you could pump someone full of brew and drugs and force them to calm down.

Hell, you could play them a nice relaxing song. Who knows?

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Drustai on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:15 am

Paozi wrote:I'm sure you wouldn't mind if I posted this guide on the Blooming Lotus forums?

Of course not.

siegmund wrote:Would be cool if you added this link [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] to the post, not sure if it helped you in the making, but it's a nice read as well as yours.

Added in introduction. That article deals mainly with the origin of the sha, which mine doesn't focus on.

Sadok wrote:
erwtenpeller wrote:What I don't get though... How is "violence" an emotion?

If anything, I would align it with a pathological sadism - the will to inflict violence upon anything and everything, regardless of motives like anger or fear.

Yup, my thoughts exactly.

Erahn wrote:A great guide Drus!

Though I'm curious about the Celestials since they seem to empower / value counters to each respective Sha.

Like Xuen aids the adventurer to rid themselves of three negative emotions (or more so to fight them and banish them before they ever became a sha).

How does that work, can anyone do that or does it require the aid of a Celestial (and thus would be unattainable for the simple soldier?)

Anyone specialized in such magics can perform it. As others have said, this includes Shado-Pan, Jinyu ritualists, and with Hozen masks. Typically this is done during the 2nd stage (and is thus the part of the guide where I mention such magic), as the emotions usually aren't strong enough during the 1st stage. Though you could accelerate the emotions from 1st stage to 2nd stage and then proceeed to expel them, and this is how I see Xuen and Paozi's 'sha lessons' handling it.


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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Lexgrad on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:19 am

So in terms of the Light... Faith does not protect as such however, good Light belief is about Respecting others, good deeds and such light. There for a correct belief could be seen to make your mind more positive and therefore less suitable for Sha?

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by erwtenpeller on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:22 am

Yes. The Naaruvada's teachings at least, offer a pretty good protection against the Sha.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Lexgrad on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:27 am

Church of light too I suspect, not for the light but for the nature of the belief.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Drustai on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:29 am

Lexgrad wrote:So in terms of the Light... Faith does not protect as such however, good Light belief is about Respecting others, good deeds and such light. There for a correct belief could be seen to make your mind more positive and therefore less suitable for Sha?

I personally consider the Light to be in every way the opposite of the sha. It is positive energy force, and encourages positive emotions in its faithful. It encourages people to show respect, compassion, and tenacity, which run counter to anger, fear, hatred, doubt, despair, and violence. A proper follower of the Light should be quite safe from the sha.

Now of course, simple faith in the Light doesn't necessarily protect you if you don't actually follow the proper tenants (so the Chapter won't be protected regardless of their faith because they willingly and readily give in to negative emotions), but if you do follow them, then you will be. The Light's doctrine is something the Pandaren would like a lot, I think (and we already see a Shado-Pan follower of the Light in-game).

_____________________________________________________
[I] Drustai the Necromancer - Outcast
[A] RADM Areyah Conover - Missing in Action
[L] Saphra Emberstone - Felsworn
[H] Atsenkha - Former Kor'kron, Red Blade Tribesorc


"...in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself... In all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions."

—The Iron Law of Bureaucracy

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Melnerag on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:51 am

Chapter gets bonus against the Sha of Doubt though!

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Lexgrad on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:54 am

It is a good thing I think Dru as it requires a deeper understanding of the church and your chars relation to it. Still unsure if Lex would be munched or not by Sha.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Lexgrad on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:54 am

Melnerag wrote:Chapter gets bonus against the Sha of Doubt though!

DO NOT DOUBT!

Though that is the other side of the coin ofc, it isnt just faith but Psychology. A sha that might make your char be "so what" Would make another crumble. At least one of the Sha will be a threat to any chars psychology I am sure.

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

Post by Raelan on Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:45 pm

Shame there is no seventh Sha though.

Think some blue once acknowledged it in a post or dev in a interview, can't remember

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Re: Roleplaying the Sha - Guide

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