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Artifact Series: Monk

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Triple backflip into a double roll, fly across the room and then lash out with a vicious kick. Could this class literally be any more fun? It's the Monks!

 

Before we get started with our acrobatic friends, let's make sure you haven't missed any of your other favourite classes:

Without further ado, let's check out the specialisations available to the Monks:

  • Brewmaster uses the well-known powers of liquid courage to avoid damage and ensure that their allies are well protected.
  • Mistweaver takes a more traditional stance on battle, using ancient martial arts and medicines to ensure that their allies are healed.
  • Windwalker is the brawler of the three, with martial arts abilities unmatched by any others.

Brewmaster Monk - Fu Zan, the Wanderer's Companion 

 

An interesting name no doubt, let's take a look at what the story behind it is:

 

"Long ago, as the titanic watcher Keeper Freya set out to populate the world with life, she placed one of the first seeds in Pandaria. From it grew Fu Zan, the first, and all of Pandaria's forests descended from it. Before populating the rest of Azeroth, Freya fashioned a walking stick for her travels from one of Fu Zan’s branches. Eventually Freya passed her staff to the Jade Serpent, Yu’lon, who later gave it to a uniquely clever hozen. The Monkey King, as he was called, hung his most prized possessions from the staff, which he carries with him to this day." (source)

 

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This backstory really does have everything, doesn't it? A titan watcher, an August Celestial and one of the legends of Pandaria. Let's start off with the watcher, Freya, and who she was. As one of the watchers of Ulduar, she was tasked with protecting the prison of the old god, Yogg-Saron. She initially resided in the Temple of Life before Loken, one of the watchers, rebelled. 

 

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The remnants of Freya's temple, found in the Storm Peaks.

 

After Loken's betrayals, Freya's temple was destroyed and she now resides within The Conservatory of Life, in Ulduar, corrupted by Yogg-Saron. Her strong affinity to nature and life made her attempt to populate Azeroth with natural essences. She went on to plant one of the first seeds located in Pandaria, from which the first tree grew - Fu Zan.

 

She took from the tree a single branch and fashioned a walking stick, to ensure that she would make it through her travels. After years of use, Freya decided it was time to pass the walking stick on to the August Celestial, Yu'lon.

 

Yu'lon is known as the Jade Serpent and acts as the spirit of wisdom in Pandaria. The story behind Yu'lon is actually rather sad, spanning back to the conquest of Pandaria. When Lei Shen, the Mogu King, began his conquest, he and the mogu ended up capturing the four August Celestials: Xuen, Yu'lon, Niuzao and Chi-Ji.

 

Yu'lon evaded captivity for the longest out of the four Celestials, but was eventually brought down out of the skies by Lei Shen. She was gravely wounded, but the Pandaren miners hid her underground from the prying eyes of the Mogu. Touched by the Pandaren's actions, she infused the surrounding stone with her magic. 

 

She eventually requested that the Pandaren build a statue of her; they worked over hundreds of years to fulfill her request, but Yu'lon was still extremely wounded. When they finished the work, she eventually gave her last breath and passed away.

 

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The current statue of Yu'lon, found in Pandaria.

 

The Pandaren mourned her, but the statue eventually began to move. Yu'lon used the statue to reincarnate herself, still going through the process when she is weakened in the present day.

 

Yu'lon, as the spirit of wisdom, understood the value of wisdom. She chose a uniquely intelligent Hozen as the next wielder of the branch of Fu Zan. This Hozen was in fact the Monkey King, a close companion of Emperor Shaohao.

 

It is from the Monkey King that it seems we will be obtaining the Brewmaster artifact, but I do wonder why it was Yu'lon that was mentioned in the lore. Traditionally, when looking at Brewmaster lore, Niuzao was the "tank" Celestial. He was present as the patron of the tank cloak in Mists of Pandaria, he was present on tanking trinkets, there are even a number of Brewmaster-only moves that relate to the Ox. So why is it that Yu'lon was mentioned in the lore?

 

Yu'lon traditionally stands as the matron of wisdom on Pandaria, but has never been linked to the style of fighting for Brewmasters, nor any of their items and spells.

 

Alternative Artifacts for Brewmaster Monks

 

The Weapons of Chen Stormstout

 

Arguably one of the most well-known monks in the game, I feel like we've got a big missed opportunity here. The entire story behind Chen is actually amazing, but the majority of players only know him from the Mists of Pandaria expansion.

 

Chen was a martial arts expert during his early years, training each day with his friend, Strongbo. They would spar with each other all day, but Chen would occasionally drift off and just spend the day dreaming. Chen was never complacent on the Wandering Isle, but it was almost sacrilege to suggest that a Pandaren might leaving the Isle.

 

Strongbo and Chen eventually grew so talented in martial arts that they were to compete for the spot of master in the martial arts school. On the day of the challenge, Chen never showed up. He fled the Isle in search of what he truly wanted: adventure.

 

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He ended up on the continent of Kalimdor, eventually making his way to Durotar. Chen was a skilled martial artist, but he was more concerned with becoming a master of brewmaking. He had planned yet another brew, but was unable to get the ingredients himself. He eventually met another wanderer, in the form of Rexxar, the Beastmaster.

 

Rexxar retrieved the ingredients for Chen, but when he was offered the brew by Chen, he couldn't believe how strong the mix was. Chen realised his recipe needed some alterations, but that could wait. He volunteered to join Rexxar's journey and adventures.

 

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Rexxar tries some of Chen's brew.

 

Chen eventually found himself on Theramore Island, sent on a secret mission to try and understand why the humans were still attacking the Horde. On this mission, the group ended up meeting Jaina Proudmoore. Her father, at the time, was ordering the attacks on the Horde. She was disgusted with the atrocities he had committed, and so offered her aid.

 

They ended up defending Thrall and Durotar from the skrimishes put forward by the Kul Tiras army, but the main event was their counter-attack. They moved swiftly and put an end to the life of the great Grand Admiral, Daelin Proudmoore.

 

Chen ended up staying independent from the Horde and Alliance, instead acting as a wanderer, pledging allegiance to neither. He is a neutral entity with a very rare attribute: he is a Pandaren, traditionally trained in martial arts and brewmaking, but his history is still very strongly intertwined with that of the two player factions.

 

I think a combination of a barrel and weapon could have been an extremely cool way to give the Brewmasters an artifact, while still presenting an amazing story with Chen. He undoubtedly has the ability to weaponise his brews, so perhaps a 2-handed weapon with a completely customisable barrel skin for certain spells would have been possible.

 

Mistweaver Monk - Sheilun, Staff of Mists

 

Mistweavers using a staff of mist? That sounds more like it! Let's check out the story:

 

"During last pandaren emperor's reign, a prophecy arose that a ruthless Legion would invade the world of Azeroth and leave it shattered. To save his people, Emperor Shaohao embarked on a series of trials, taking with him the ancient staff Sheilun. Afterwards, he used his newfound wisdom to become part of the land. He made Pandaria into a separate continent and enshrouded it in mist to protect it. His staff clattered to the ground, where it lay until the monks of Tian Monastery found it and took it to the Terrace of Endless Spring for safekeeping." (source)

 

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For those of you that played during Mists of Pandaria, you most likely spent more than enough time on the Timeless Isle to realise who Emperor Shaohao is. For those of you that don't, he was the last emperor of Pandaria and is one of the most significant characters in Pandaren legend.

 

His story takes us back to a time before the Legion invaded Azeroth, to a time before the War of the Ancients. A prophecy was given, by a Jinyu waterspeaker, that a great power would invade and ruin the world as it was known. Shaohao took it upon himself to act as the saviour of his people; after hearing the prophecy, he climbed Mount Neverest, weathering the bitter cold and shearing winds, with only his robes for protection.

 

When he reached the summit, he found peace for the first time since being made emperor. He spoke to the Jade Serpent, Yu'lon, who told him that he must purify his spirit and become one with the land. He meditated on her counsel, thinking of her words, but he simply couldn't understand them.

 

It was actually his comrade, the Monkey King, who helped him in his path. The Monkey King created masks which enabled Emperor Shaohao to create physical forms of his fear, doubt, anger, despair, hatred and violence. He traveled to the temples of the Celestials, purging himself of every negative emotion.

 

Eventually, the day came when the Legion arrived and Shaohao assured his people they were not in danger. He went to the Terrace of Endless Springs and attempted to separate Pandaria from the other continents, but he found himself unable.

 

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Shaohao becomes one with Pandaria.

 

He couldn't understand what had gone wrong, he had cleansed his spirit just as Yu'lon had told him to do. The Sha that had been created began seeping into the world again and Shaohao feared he had lost everything. He cried out to Yu'lon for aid, but she only reminded him of that which he had forgotten. 

 

Everything on Pandaria was a part of the land, just as the Pandaren were. Shaohao remembered the walls erected around the Pandaren areas and realised his faults. His last emotion, pride, was finally removed from his spirit. He recognised the Mantid as equals to the Pandaren and his spirit began to seep into the land. His robes and staff fell where he had stood, left there until monks came to claim the staff. They kept it hidden until the time was right for another to wield it.

 

A great mist enveloped Pandaria, keeping it safe until the Horde and Alliance stumble upon it in the expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

 

While there is no particular mention of there being any regenerative powers on Shaohao's behalf, I do think the staff is a good choice for the Mistweavers. Shaohao symbolises the act of helping others, which is essentially what the healers do. They practice certain martial arts in an attempt to help others and keep them safe. There is also, of course, the fact that Shaohao literally wove mist to help his people. Technically, he's a mist-weaver!

 

It's an interesting choice, but I like it. I don't think you can really choose another artifact, since there simply isn't a notable Mistweaver in the lore. The only other possibility is a direct relation to the Celestial, Chi-Ji, but I actually think this works better.

 

Windwalker Monk - Fists of the Heavens

 

I'm already happy that they have chosen fist weapons, but let's hope they are the right kind! Let's take a look:

 

"Thousands of years ago, the famed tol'vir smith Irmaat crafted a pair of magnificent handblades. Unsatisfied with his work, Irmaat tried to capture the essence of Al'Akir the Windlord to infuse into his blades. Al'Akir was not amused. To spite the smith, Al'Akir poured unspeakable amounts of raw elemental fury into the handblades. When Irmaat attempted to unleash their might, a great vortex sprang up, engulfed his city, and scattered the weapons to the winds." (source)

 

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The first thing that really jumps out at me here is, well, Shaman. This really doesn't feel like a monk weapon, but let's take a look anyway.

 

Irmaat has actually been mentioned before, namely in regards to the djinn of the Four Winds. These djinn are generally referred to as the lieutenants of Al'Akir; they were each given a weapon crafted by Irmaat, one of which is actually in game and can be obtained through Archaeology - trade_archaeology_scimitar-of-the-siroccScimitar of the Sirocco

 

It seems like Irmaat must have got in over his head, since he ended up trying to double cross Al'Akir himself. For those of you that don't know, Al'Akir is the Elemental Lord of air. The Elemental Lords were the most powerful lieutenants in the armies of the Old Gods and included Ragnaros, Therazane, Al'Akir and Neptulon, who ruled over fire, earth, air and water respectively.

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Al'Akir in The Throne of the Four Winds.

 

When the war between the Old Gods and Titans occurred, these Elemental Lords acted as skilled tacticians. Despite their immense powers, they were no match for the titans and were defeated one by one. They were eventually banished to what is now known as the "elemental plane". They were left there to fight each other for eternity, never again reaching the mortal plane. Al'Akir made Skywall his domain, ruling over it from the Throne of the Four Winds. 

 

The idea of the elements and the introduction of the winds feels very Shaman-esque. I really think they had the right idea with using fist weapons, but went the wrong direction. They took it in a very elemental-based direction, with a melee aspect added in, rather than a melee-based direction with the elemental aspect being added in. I like the style, I like the story, but definitely not for a monk. 

 

Alternative Artifacts for Windwalker Monks

 

Paws of the White Tiger

 

This one is going to take a bit of lore invention, but stay with me. The August Celestials are without a doubt the most intensely applicable lore area for the Monk class. The Monks originated in Pandaria, they harness abilities based on the Celestials and they can even summon avatars of them. 

 

Xuen the White Tiger is undoubtedly best applied to Windwalker Monks, with his savage claws, fierce teeth and incredible strength. When he dueled Lei Shen, Xuen lost, but learnt an important lesson. He understood one of the most important aspects of a Monk's training: balance. He understood that ferocity could not win battles alone, his pride was put back into place by his defeat, but he grew stronger from it. 

 

Above I described the fact that I believe, since they are masters of martial arts, Monks should have a melee-based artifact, especially for Windwalker. The story behind the current artifact is too elemental-based.

 

Here's the lore invention part!

 

If you look at a number of the powerful beings in the Warcraft universe, they often have multiple "forms". The August Celestials are essentially the same as the Ancient Guardians, they just remained in Pandaria. 

 

When you look at the Dragon Aspects, beings of slightly lesser power, they have a dragon form and humanoid form. If we were to extrapolate this to the Ancient Guardians, we could implement lore based on Xuen's humanoid form.

 

Xuen, when fighting as his tiger form, uses his paws to swipe and claw at those he battles. If there were to be an alternate form for him, he could perhaps use a pair of very close-fitting fist weapons to mimic his "paws". Lore could have been created to say that, during his time of imbalance in the run up to the Mogu empire, Xuen lost sight of what he represented.

 

As the spirit of strength, one would expect this Ancient to have complete control over his own. When he began to lose sight of "noble" strength and instead slowly turn to pride-fueled ferocity, Azeroth might have betrayed its oath to him.

 

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Xuen battles Lei Shen.

 

Unlike the Dragon Aspects, who got their powers from the Titans, the Ancients were granted their powers by Azeroth itself. As Xuen lost focus and gave in to ferocity, he perhaps could have spent time after his battle with Lei Shen as a humanoid.

 

Azeroth had recalled the power it granted to him until it deemed him worthy once more. He would wander the world of Pandaria, trying to re-establish in his mind what true, noble strength was.

 

The Windwalker monks could have been given a questline in which we uncover this personal moment of Xuen. He describes his journey of revelation and what he discovered true strength to be. We are taken through his time as a humanoid, in which he had to fight for his life, equipped only with his "paws". 

 

We complete a feat which proves to him that we truly understand the balance of strength and so can wield his humanoid weapons, which are directly infused with the power of his raw strength.

 

The story, of course, is not perfect, but it's an idea. It presents a melee weapon, infused with the power of an Ancient, but not the power of the elements. The weapon itself would be far smaller, an extension of ones hands, rather than a separate entity. 

 

That's it for the Monks, as well as for the leather-wearers. Next time, get ready for the demonic powers of the Warlocks!

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