- This article is about the dragons themselves. For the in-game book detailing the Elder Dragons, see The Elder Dragons.
The Elder Dragons are ancient, powerful beings of unknown origins. They keep the magic balanced by consuming it and drawing it into themselves; though indications show that this isn't their goal or intention, but rather a side-effect of how they function. Every several thousand years (roughly 10,000 years according to the Durmand Priory), the dragons wake and consume everything in the world, thereby reducing the world to a low level of magic, before going back to sleep. Then the magic they have consumed bleeds out into the world, harmless unlike when they're awake, only for the dragons to eventually awaken once more and the cycle to begin again.
Their most recent awakening had major effects on the races of Tyria, in many cases forcing them from their homelands and cutting them off from the rest of the world. Though each of the individual races has tried to deal with the threat largest to themselves, they remain on a defensive. To this end, three multi-racial orders have individually taken it upon themselves to find a solution to the dragons.
Ancient jotun stelae indicate that throughout prehistory, the Elder Dragons have gone through cycles of awakening, destruction, and hibernation, each time ending an era of life in Tyria and bringing forth a new one. As contact with other continents has been severed, it is not known whether or not the Elder Dragons are unique to the continent of Tyria. However, the records surviving from the previous cycle mention only six dragons.
What knowledge we have of the Elder Dragons comes from the survivors of the previous cycle of awakening, over 11,000 years ago. During that time, it is said magic was "wild," that the dragons had the world in their talons, and they are believed to have caused the extinction of the Giganticus Lupicus, along with most life on Tyria. The only surviving records exist in dwarven legends and jotun stelae, and according to these records only five sentient races battled and survived the Elder Dragons' last rise with knowledge of them: dwarves, jotun, forgotten, mursaat, and seers. During this time, the mursaat used their own magic to flee Tyria, while Kralkatorrik's champion Glint betrayed her master and hid the remaining races.
In 1078 AE, the first of the Elder Dragons to awaken, Primordus, began to stir. Its greatest champion, the Great Destroyer, and its destroyer army swarmed the Depths of Tyria, driving the asura to the surface and destroying multiple underground civilizations. The asura refugees united with the dwarves, as well as the norn and Ebon Vanguard, to strike at the heart of the destroyer army, defeating the Great Destroyer and delaying the awakening of Primordus until 1120 AE, but at the cost of the dwarven race, who underwent the Rite of the Great Dwarf in order to suppress the destroyer forces. To this day, the transformed dwarves fight them in the depths so that the surface may be spared, although in recent years small groups have made it to the surface world.
Following Primordus came Jormag, waking in 1165 AE. Jormag rose from the northern reaches of the Far Shiverpeaks, where it toppled kodan sanctuaries and shattered the mountains, creating inland seas that the kodan and quaggan of the north took refuge in. The norn of the Far Shiverpeaks thought to challenge the ice dragon and its icebrood minions, but they were outmatched and forced south, guided by the Spirits of the Wild.
In 1219 AE, Zhaitan's awakening caused the sunken nation of Orr to rise from the ocean, flooding the coastlines of Tyria and drowning thousands. Zhaitan conscripted those killed into its risen army, alongside the ancient dead of Orr, creating a fleet spanning the Strait of Malchor, and blocking access to and from Cantha while also invading north towards Kryta and southeast towards the Elonian border.
Another dragon awoke in the deepest parts of the seas, creating tentacled horrors from its surrounding. Its awakening forced the krait, quaggan, and largos living in the Unending Ocean to flee north toward Tyria, in many cases forcing them into the path of the risen armies. Little is known of this dragon still.
In 1320 AE, Kralkatorrik rose from north of the Blood Legion Homelands, flying south over Ascalon and corrupting everything in its path with its breath, forming the Dragonbrand. The Vigil was formed in response. Kralkatorrik landed in the Crystal Desert, where it sought Glint for her betrayal. It fought her and Destiny's Edge there, a battle in which it was injured but ultimately victorious and Glint slain. Kralkatorrik hasn't been heard from since—although its branded minions have been observed to be marching south and east.
In 1325 AE, Zhaitan launched an attack on Claw Island and prepared to strike on Lion's Arch. In desperation, the Vigil, the Order of Whispers, and the Durmand Priory pooled their resources to form a Pact led by Marshal Trahearne, and the combined magic and technology of the charr, humans, norn, asura and newly-awakened sylvari was enough to push into Orr and defeat Zhaitan itself, above the skies of Orr. This marks the first known time an Elder Dragon has been defeated, and proves that they can be killed.
Most recently, in 1327 AE, Mordremoth was awoken by Scarlet Briar as her airship, The Breachmaker, drilled into a ley line network underneath Lion's Arch. The disrupting of the ley line caused a magical chain reaction, causing the Elder Dragon to rise from the west, seemingly within Magus Falls.
 Nature and physiology
Described as forces of nature and primordial forces from the view of Tyrians, the dragons seem no different and just as unstoppable as a blizzard or earthquake. Each dragon holds a tie to a certain element - fire, ice, crystal, water, vegetation, and even undeath - and their minions reflect such. Though all share the common goal of consuming all life, each of the Elder Dragons have their own unique motivation and ways to act, ranging from what they and their minions do to how they corrupt their surroundings and those who seek their power. Similarly, Elder Dragons appear to be hostile to each other, as their minions will fight another dragon's minions just as they would fight any living creature.
The dragons themselves rarely directly intervene with the Tyrians, preferring to send their minions to do the work for them. The will of the dragons is realized by their champions, which maintain their territories and command their lesser minions.
The Elder Dragons are unique to biological creatures in that they do not devour in a traditional sense, but rather feed on magic. Some, such as Zhaitan, can do this through specialized minions. Before awakening, at least three are known to have had to champions or other individuals aid in their rising (Primordus, Jormag, and Mordremoth), two of which cases is known to be feeding them magic (Jormag and Mordremoth). The Elder Dragons exude this magic they consumed while awake when dormant, making their places of hibernation magical hotspots, which was why the asura built the Central Transfer Chamber near Primordus (believing it to be a magical statue) and one of the reasons the human gods built Arah near Zhaitan (not knowing of the Elder Dragon). While awake, the Elder Dragons can actively exude unique draconic energies which causes individuals and landscapes touched by it to become corrupted into their minions (only known exception being sylvari born from the Pale Tree for unknown reasons, and Forgotten magic). Under Kudu, the Inquest have been studying these energies at the Thaumanova Reactor (before its explosion) and at its successor, the Infinite Coil Reactor.
One of the remaining dragons, the dragon known as deep sea dragon has not yet been observed to have any noticeable impact in northern Tyria. Its exact nature and even name remains unknown. Mordremoth was awakened in 1327 AE by the renegade sylvari Scarlet Briar, though its effect on Tyria has yet to be witnessed by the sentient races.
- Only Zhaitan can currently be physically encountered in Guild Wars 2.
- The Inquest have multiple bases studying the Elder Dragon's energies. The Infinite Coil Reactor being the main base of these, with six zones - though only four are confirmed to deal with the Elder Dragons' minions (the other two are implied, though not confirmed, to as well).
- Although the gender of the dragons is unknown, they are sometimes referred to as males in-game, such as in the description of the Fight the ice dragon's corruption Renown Heart.
- Dragons were not always the main antagonists of Guild Wars 2. According to The Making of Guild Wars 2 book, original drafts for story included demons and angelic beings descending to the world to judge it.