The Mostly Harmless Quaggan
Quaggans are intelligent, benign, amphibious beings who originally made their homes in the depths of the Unending Ocean. They have recently moved into the shallower waters along the Tarnished Coast and the Sea of Sorrows, as well as inland to the freshwater lakes.
Ooooo. You must understand. Quaggans do not want to bother anyone. Quaggans want to be at peace."
Biology and Behavior
Quaggans can breathe both water and air. They can live in either fresh- or saltwater and can survive easily on the land, though after about a day or so, their skin becomes cracked, dry, and uncomfortable. Quaggans are omnivorous and live on a diet of harvested corals, seaweed, and fish. They lay eggs and their young are cared for by the entire community. Most quaggans come from the south and have a natural coloration that blends from a two-tone sea blue on the back to pale grey along the belly. There is also a northern group that is black along the back and white along the belly, much like penguins and orca.
Quaggans are peaceful by nature and rarely become aggressive unless provoked. When quaggans are threatened or in pain, their adrenaline levels surge and parts of their skin turn a dark-scarlet hue. Fangs erupt from their mouths and their flippers grow long, formidable talons. While in this state, instinct overcomes rational thought and the quaggan is little more than an aquatic engine of destruction. They are deeply embarrassed when they display such aggression, and it is considered a social faux pas among their people.
This transformation is the primary reason quaggans actively avoid fighting—they are a danger to themselves and others while in this state. They are unreasoning brutes driven only to destroy, and they think nothing of tactics or collateral damage. Heroic quaggans are capable of being a little more aggressive without succumbing to their rage, but they are looked upon by their society as being a bit odd.
Quaggans are unfailingly polite, so much so that they consider most self-reference to be offensive and self-centered. As a result, they rarely use the pronouns "me," "my," or "I," instead preferring to use the general term "quaggan." As a result, conversations with quaggans may frustrate more direct races. The phrase "I've lost my pet fish. I'm sad" becomes "Quaggan has lost quaggan's pet fish. Quaggan is sad." This manner of speech leads many to assume the quaggans are childlike or less intelligent. The quaggans are actually quite wise, but in ways that are different from most other races.
Other races generally regard quaggans as "kind, innocuous creatures—unless pushed." The quaggans themselves would prefer to lead quiet lives. They will move out of the way of more aggressive races if they are simply told to leave. The problem is that, due to ever-increasing attacks on their people by hostile races such as the krait, there is no place left for them to run.
"We started pushing around the little butterballs. All in fun, of course. Then they got mad, and that's when the REAL problems started."
— Argoth Onehand, former adventurer
Clothing and Equipment
Quaggans are comfortable naked but wear clothing as a sign of individuality and pride. Normal quaggan clothing consists of scale-sequined head-pieces with long, beaded harnesses around the upper chest and arms. They often adorn themselves as well with water-resistant feathers of colorful shorebirds, making a gathering of quaggans a festive occasion.
Quaggan homes utilize the resources of the sea and consist of round pods made of coral and corded seaweed. The pods are tethered to the ocean floor but can be easily towed to safer locations if needed. For light, quaggans farm luminous pearls and phosphorescent algae.
Until recently, quaggan history was largely uneventful, even boring. Quaggan sagas, as recounted by their "pastkeepers," consisted of bare recitations of who begat whom and where the sardines ran thick that year. That changed 50 years ago, with the invasion of their territories by the krait. This slave-keeping, aquatic race had been denizens of deep trenches, but they suddenly erupted into traditionally quaggan lands, destroying their civilization. The surviving quaggans fled into shallower water, eventually moving up rivers and streams into the larger lakes. Another group, fleeing the Elder Dragon Jormag like the kodan and the norn, have migrated south, into the more inhabited lands of Tyria.
Many quaggans, including their central leadership, have been killed in krait assaults. Though the race was once ruled by a leader known as the "markissios," the noble family has been slaughtered, eaten, or enslaved by the krait (depending on the account). Those quaggans who survived these assaults now rule themselves, following the leadership of a village mayor, the "varonos." These varonos work with one another, offering aid when they can, as the race is friendly and interconnected even in these difficult times.
A small group of varonos who govern villages throughout Kryta have reached out to that nation's human queen, and the two races have entered into a friendly alliance of help and support. Although both races are besieged, humans and quaggans assist each other as best as they can when the other is in need.
Quaggans venerate a single god, known as Mellaggan, who represents the bounty of the sea. In temperament and nature, she is very similar to the human goddess Melandru, so much so that human scholars connect the two. Quaggans are too polite to disagree, though they point out the obvious differences between a land-based, nature goddess and an aquatic deity, embodying the wealth of the ocean. However, quaggans muddle the waters further by using sunken temples to Melandru, such as in Lake Gendarr, for their own worship of Mellaggan.
Quaggan religion tends to be conservative and traditional. The pastkeepers serve as priests and are responsible for the legends of each community of quaggans.
Behind the Scenes
The quaggans originally showed up as more roly-poly, almost cartoony creatures, and they were quickly adopted as a cute aquatic race. Their original round appearance proved challenging to rig for animation, so they went through a number of iterations, at one point slimming down and becoming more like dolphins. Later they regained some of their weight but retained a beaver-shaped tail from earlier designs.
Their dual nature came from a concern that, being so cute and cuddly, they would never survive in a deadly outer world. That was when we hit on the idea of their hulking out—"Do not make quaggan angry. You would not like quaggan when quaggan is angry." This brought about the wide-jawed, fang-faced version of the quaggans and, with it, a new question: why wouldn't the quaggans just be quaggan hulks all the time? In a case of art informing lore, we determined that quaggans were embarrassed by this violent behavior. That self-consciousness led to further developments of quaggan attitudes about the individual and community, and the foundations of their society were born. In large part because of those unique societal norms, quaggans are one of the few races in the game that have a distinct speaking style, but that distinction can be difficult. Simply replacing every personal pronoun with "quaggan" is a challenge to clarity. Thankfully, teeth and all, quaggans remain our most cuddly race, so the hard work is easy to endure.
- The Mostly Harmless Quaggan, ArenaNet blog