The personal story is the unique campaign of each character which, along with dynamic events and map completion, makes up much of PvE gameplay. The personal story is independent from random world events and is always available to follow through the game world and the events which occur there. The personal story is told through character specific instances and is personalized by decisions made before and during gameplay.
The story is played from one character's perspective for that character's story. Other players can help with another player's story but are not able to make choices that affect the outcome, though they can choose to accept the outcome as their own. The story instances scale with the number of players participating.
While the story is personalized and considers different decisions made in character creation and gameplay, the core story is the same for all: So dangerous and influential are the Elder Dragons that no one's life is unaffected by them. All characters begin as a member of their selected race, experiencing a specific storyline that winds through a racial homeland. As players progress, the different threads begin to intertwine and overlap, culminating in a final conflict against Zhaitan, one of the Elder Dragons. Along the way, characters will encounter the now-scattered members of Destiny's Edge, and have the chance to align with one of three major Orders that seek to deal with the Dragons in their own way.
Before entering the world proper, all characters must complete a short tutorial respective to whichever race was selected. These tutorials then connect into the first three arcs of the personal storyline, that players may follow at their own leisure.
See the following tutorials for more information on the racial storylines.
- Asura characters begin with the tutorial Explosive Intellect.
- Charr characters begin with the tutorial Fury of the Dead.
- Human characters begin with the tutorial Defending Shaemoor.
- Norn characters begin with the tutorial The Great Hunt.
- Sylvari characters begin with the tutorial Fighting the Nightmare.
The guild Destiny's Edge, once renowned for their efforts preventing the dragons from destroying the world, has fallen apart. Each of the members are from one of the player races and they can no longer see through their differences or pasts to work together. The members can be befriended and the group united again to set the stage for the overarching story. The beginning of this story is part of your personal story as well as some mail sent to you by your racial counterpart in Destiny's Edge. However most of the story is experienced through the story mode of the 8 dungeons in Tyria. The dungeon story is parallel to your personal story and they do not affect each other.
There are three different orders, each has their own philosophy and approach to learning about and ultimately removing the threat of the dragons. One of these orders can be joined and it will affect how the story of the dragons is experienced. For example, given the same storyline situation, if the Vigil were dealing with the situation they would take the fighting approach, if the Durmand Priory were dealing with the situation they would attempt to use knowledge and technology to find a solution, and if the Order of Whispers were dealing with the situation they would rely on subversion and infiltration to overcome the situation.
Each character's personal story is divided into eight chapters, with each chapter unlocking every 10 levels. For the most part there is little overlap between each chapter, with the early chapters determined by the player's choice of race and biography, and later chapters being determined by choices made within the game.
Act 1: The Races
Chapter I — Level 10
The character is introduced to their race's mentor (one of the members of Destiny's Edge), as well as their race's renegade faction. The specifics of the story depends on what race they chose, as well as one of their biography choices.
- Experiments Gone Wrong — Asura characters present their krewe's invention (either the Very Old Energy Detector, the Massively Impressive Golem, or the Interspatial Translocator) to the Snaff Prize judges, prevent sabotage by the Inquest with the help of Zojja, and prove their worthiness of the title of Snaff Savant.
- Getting the Band Back Together — Charr characters report back to their legion (either Blood, Ash, or Iron), rebuild their warband, and put an end to Flame Legion plots, aided by Rytlock Brimstone.
- Krytan Politics — Human characters reunite with their friends in Divinity's Reach (either Andrew and Petra, Faren, or Quinn), and assist Logan Thackeray in apprehending criminals and uncovering corruption in the Krytan government.
- Forging a Legend — Norn characters begin forging their legend (either by defeating a jotun leader, rescuing the Spirit of Minotaur, or protecting the Mists), seeking Eir Stegalkin's help to thwart the Sons of Svanir.
- Following the Dream — Sylvari characters seek out the vision they saw in their Dream (either a white stag, a green knight, or the Shield of the Moon), assisted by Caithe, and combat the Nightmare Court along the way.
Chapter II — Level 20
The character is confronted by something from their past, be it an embarrassing mishap, an old invention, or a missing family member.
- Interested Parties — Asura characters learn that someone is interested in their first creation (either the VAL-A Golem, the Transatmospheric Converter, or the Infinity Ball), and prevent it from being put to misuse.
- Sins of the Father — Charr characters are reunited with their father (either a loyal soldier, an honorless gladium, or a sorcerous shaman), and attempt to make their peace with him.
- Shadows of the Past — Human characters are reminded of a regret from their past (either their unknown parents, their dead sister, or a missed chance to perform in their circus) and are given the opportunity to rectify that mistake.
- Everyone Makes Mistakes — Norn characters are confronted with a mistake they made at the last alemoot (either blacking out, being defeated by a rival, or losing an heirloom) and must set things right.
- The Teachings of Ventari — Sylvari characters are given the chance to live up to one of Ventari's teachings, either "Act with wisdom, but act", "All things have a right to grow", or "Where life goes, so too should you".
Chapter III — Level 30
The character is introduced by their mentor to the three Orders and made aware of the true threat of the Elder Dragons. At the end of this chapter, the character is persuaded to permanently join an order to aid in the fight against the dragons.
- Rescue Researcher — Asura characters work with the orders to rescue a researcher who has discovered that the dragons consume magic, whose research is being covered up by the Arcane Eye.
- Crystal Corruption — Charr characters work with the orders to find and destroy a dragon crystal that raises the dead and consumes the land.
- Traitor to the Queen — Human characters work with The Orders of Tyria to stop a rogue Seraph from killing the human queen, Queen Jennah
- Death from Below — Norn characters discover that the dredge are targeting Durmand Priory and scriptures of powerful technology hidden in their archives.
- Justice for Riannoc — Sylvari characters work with the orders to recover the legendary blade Caladbolg from the squire Waine and then confront Mazdak the Accursed, the lich responsible for the death of the firstborn Riannoc.
Act 2: The Orders
Chapter IV — Order Neophyte — Level 40
The character witnesses a meeting between the members of Destiny's Edge. They then meet with their new order, are assigned a new mentor, and are sent on their first mission, where they prove themselves worthy of becoming a full member.
- The Durmand Priory sends Magister Sieran to journey with you to the leader: Gixx. On the way, you stop to investigate a newly discovered dwarven cave, where you will find artifacts that tell of a sword made out of dragon blood. After this, Gixx will send you and Magister Sieran to recover the sword. The first quest a member of the Durmand Priory experiences is Dredging up the Past.
- The Order of Whispers assigns you with Lightbringer Tybalt Leftpaw to find Demmi Beetlestone who has gone missing after contacting the Whispers to provide information on her father, Minister Caudecus. The first quest a member of the Order of Whispers experiences is Stealing Secrets.
- The Vigil sends the character to Ebonhawke with Warmaster Forgal Kernsson to prevent renegades from disrupting the peace treaty between the humans and the charr. The first quest a member of the Vigil experiences is A Fragile Peace.
Chapter V — Helping Hands — Level 50
The character's order assigns them the task of assisting one of the tribal races of Tyria (note not all racial sympathy plotlines are available for each playable race). The character will assist in one of the following:
- Doubt (asura/charr/norn): Stop a grawl tribe in Dredgehaunt Cliffs from worshiping a minion of Jormag.
- Champion's Sacrifice (asura/human/norn/sylvari): Reveal to a hylek tribe in Bloodtide Coast that their champions are turned into corrupted monsters.
- Untamed Wilds (charr/norn): Help the Ogres in Blazeridge Steppes to defend themselves against their former leader who's become branded.
- Bad Ice (asura/human/sylvari): Help the quaggans from Falooaloo to defend themselves against the icebrood.
- Rat-Tastrophe (charr/human/sylvari): Help the skritt in the Harathi Hinterlands to defend themselves against a destroyer incursion.
Chapter VI — The Battle of Claw Island — Level 60
The character's order sends them on a mission that leads them to discover that Lion's Arch is Zhaitan's next target. The character and the mentor leave for Claw Island to defend it, but the fortress is lost. From there, the order sends the character and Trahearne to gain an ally for retaking the island fortress. Each order has the choice between two potential allies:
- Priory characters can make use of stolen dredge weaponry or get help from Carys and Tegwen.
- Order of Whispers characters must decide whether to use a weapon made from Professor Gorr's research or to enlist the help of Benn Tenstrikes and his mercenaries.
- Vigil characters chose either Fibharr or the competitive Charr: Snarl and Galina.
After bolstering the pact, Trahearne suggests visiting the Pale Tree to get her advice. She offers a vision of the future, taking the character and Trahearne to Orr. After returning from the vision, the pale tree gives the sword Caladbolg to Trahearne.
This sequence ends with defense of the character's order's headquarters, the creation of the unified Pact with Trahearne as its military commander, and the retaking of Claw Island.
Act 3: The Pact
Chapter VII — Forming the Pact — Level 70
The storyline follows the founding of the Pact after reclaiming Claw Island and gathering recruits or resources for the Pact's inevitable invasion against Orr. The first quest a player experiences during this story arc is Forging the Pact.
Chapter VIII — Victory or Death — Level 80
The Pact invades the Ruins of Orr in force while the character systematically searches for means of weakening Zhaitan's forces - either through obtaining ancient artifacts, or by destroying powerful servants, such as the Eye of Zhaitan. The player begins this storyline with the mission Temple of the Forgotten God. After the mission Further into Orr, the player can choose to continue with the plan of one of the orders. The choice to join one of the orders made earlier does not exclude the two other choices.
- In the eight chapters of the storyline, there are a total of 308 missions, divided as follows:
- Chapter 1: 90
- Chapter 2: 75
- Chapter 3: 50
- Chapter 4: 16
- Chapter 5: 19
- Chapter 6: 18
- Chapter 7: 17
- Chapter 8: 23
- To play through all of the mission options, as the primary on each mission, requires 30 characters.
- These thirty have to play through the chapter II missions.
- Fifteen must play through chapter III.
- Ten must play through chapter V.
- Six must play through chapter VI.
- Three must play through until the last mission prior to Against the Corruption, in chapter VIII.
- Two must play through the two missions after that one.
- And, one must play through the end of the storyline.