Sylvari

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Sylvari are not born. They awaken beneath the Pale Tree with knowledge gleaned in their pre-life Dream. These noble beings travel, seeking adventure and pursuing quests. They struggle to balance curiosity with duty, eagerness with chivalry, and warfare with honor. Magic and mystery entwine to shape the future of this race that has so recently appeared.

— In-game description

The sylvari are a young, inquisitive race of botanical humanoids. The first sylvari sprouted from the Pale Tree in Arbor Bay, emerging in 1302 AE. The tree was planted by Ronan and raised by Ventari, who were attempting to escape the violence that engulfed Tyria.

Sylvari are one of the five playable races in Guild Wars 2.

Character creation[edit]

Selecting a sylvari character will start players off in the tutorial Fighting the Nightmare where players fight the corruption within the Dream of Dreams before awakening.

During character creation, a player can customize a sylvari's physical appearance and answer three race specific biography questions which affect their personal story:

  • which quest they dreamed of.
  • most important of Ventari's teachings.
  • what day time cycle they were born in.

The sylvari home instance is in the Dreamer's Terrace in the Grove.

Sylvari racial skills focus on support with themes of plant manipulation.

Physiology[edit]

Anatomy of sylvari.

The sylvari are omnivorous humanoid plants. Some sylvari closely resemble humans but with a fey cast to their features such as tilted eyes and pointed ear tips; most display plantlike features such as hard wood for bone structure, have foliage and petals for hair, and bark acting as flesh. They glow during the night. Sylvari don't have hearts;[1] golden sap moves through their veins instead of blood and pollen falls off of them as they move. They are much more slender than the average human and about a head shorter. Sylvari utilise photosynthesis as a "meditative supplement",[1] but most of their nutrition comes from food just like any other race.[2] They have fully functioning digestive systems and their excrement is something like mulch.[1] Sylvari do in fact have thermoreceptors as referenced by a sylvari explorer in the Grove. She states that she dislikes Hoelbrak as it is too cold, however Explorer Syllia states that the cold does not affect sylvari.

Sylvari emerge fully formed from golden fruit pods which grow on the branches of the Pale Tree. While many scholars now speculate on the sylvari's humanoid appearance, the original explanation was that the Pale Tree based it on her knowledge of Ronan, creating an abstract image of human biology.[2] Malyck, who was born from a different tree, cast doubt upon the accuracy of this explanation, and the matter is considered unresolved. Sylvari gender is selected by the Pale Tree prior to each individual's emergence, and is distinguished by the same general features as human genders,[3] and although they can mate they cannot reproduce.[1] It is unknown if the sylvari die of old age, as so far they have only died through violence, poison, or disease and show no signs of aging. When a sylvari is harmed, tendrils form over the wound and their bark expands to recover the area, leaving no scar. They heal at the same general rate as humans. All sylvari have luminescent cells in their skin, causing them to glow in the dark.

Prior to emergence they share a bond through the Pale Tree which they call the Dream of Dreams. In this dream, a growing sylvari is exposed to the consciousness of the Pale Tree and the vast pool of knowledge accumulated by all previous sylvari. When a new one emerges, a portion of this knowledge remains with them, including basic wisdom and understanding from the Pale Tree and a small fraction of what other sylvari have seen and experienced, though this rarely includes specific memories. After emergence, the bond with the Pale Tree is weaker but it links all sylvari and, to an extent, other plants. On rare occasion, twins can emerge from the same pod and they exhibit a greater empathy toward one another.

Spoiler alert: The following text contains spoilers relating to Living World Season 2.

The sylvari are immune to Zhaitan's magic in Orr. This was first thought to be because they were protected by the Pale Tree or the Dream, but in fact it was because they are already technically servants of Mordremoth, and dragon minions cannot be corrupted by other dragons.[4]

Spoiler alert: The following text contains spoilers relating to Living World Season 4.

Sylvari can be Awakened.[5]

Culture[edit]

Sylvari are usually honest, direct and focused, taking most things at face value. With the dream ensuring there is so much in common with the other sylvari, experience is cherished for creating uniqueness between them. They are eager to learn, experience and understand.

Sylvari morality and ethics are based on those of the Pale Tree. These were formed by following the lives of Ronan and Ventari, during the early growth of the Pale Tree and later written on Ventari's Tablet situated at the base of the tree. After emergence a sylvari is guided by older sylvari to understand what they have dreamed and ensure they have a clear understanding of the tablet, their history and the world.

Despite the kick start of knowledge from the dream they still seem naive as there are some matters which seem beyond their comprehension. Emotions and tact, in particular, are difficult for them to grasp, so often a sylvari will state out loud something which would normally be politely avoided by other races. Death too is not fully understood but viewed as something to be embraced and, as with many things in a sylvari's life, is viewed with a great degree of curiosity. These views serve to form an acceptance of and fascination with death that other races may find disturbing.

As they are all born from the Pale Tree they could be considered all of the same family; however, their family bond is not as strong as most families, with many sylvari considering others more like distant relatives with few exceptions, such as twins born from the same pod or those who shared dreams, though the latter may also result in lovers. Romance is practiced among the sylvari, disregarding gender between those involved. To a sylvari, love is spiritual and eternal, regardless of physical form and contact, and sexuality is simply a natural part of life. So long as it is entered into with good will and joy, the gender doesn't make a difference.

Sylvari craft their armor and weapons from organic material, such as roots, leaves or leather, and sometimes grow their armor out of their own bodies in the form of leafy padding, spines or bark.

Religion[edit]

The sylvari have an agnostic view of the Human Gods, wishing to see proof of the gods' existence and work.[6] They venerate the Ventari Tablet as their most sacred artifact and testament. The Pale Tree is also much revered, though more as a wise parent than as a deity. If the sylvari need counseling, they often travel to the Omphalos Chamber and commune with her there.

Government[edit]

The Pale Tree leads the sylvari; she manifests a spectral being in a chamber at the base of the tree to communicate with others easily and give her guidance and instructions. Various sylvari act as ambassadors to the other races and will send reports to her so that she may judge what to do. On difficult decisions, the Pale Tree will call upon the Firstborn and any sylvari who may be a specialist in the situation(s). The Firstborn, being the oldest and having the most experience of the world, act as leaders to the sylvari, being respected for their wisdom and in turn they lead the sylvari underneath the Pale Tree. Four of them in particular (one of each cycle) have taken on positions of leadership, organization, teaching, and guidance for the sylvari people.

Names[edit]

Sylvari names, as well as place names in their starting zone Caledon Forest, are generally inspired by Celtic (Irish, Scots Gaelic and Welsh) names. Sylvari do not have surnames, as they're all part of the same "family," though to each other they are more like distant relatives except in special cases.

Sylvari do not "choose" their names nor are they outright given by the Pale Tree or other sylvari. Instead, the sylvari simply 'know' their names upon awakening, though why is never explored and the sylvari do not question why this is.

History[edit]

While humans explored the Far Shiverpeaks and the dwarves fought the Destroyers, a new race began to grow in the southern lands of Tyria. A single seed as big as a man's fist, planted in the ground of a ruined village along the southern tip of the Maguuma Jungle, began a centuries-long gestation—and heralded a new age.

Firstborn[edit]

This story began with a human soldier named Ronan whom, when separated from his patrol, discovered a cavern filled with strange seed-pods. This cavern was protected by terrible plant creatures, so he fled, clinging to a single seed to show his daughter when he returned home from war. But, upon his arrival, Ronan discovered the mursaat had destroyed his village and murdered his family, leaving only ruined houses and mass graves. In agony, he planted the seed on their graves and swore never to return to battle.

Ronan was joined by an ageing centaur named Ventari, who had also begun to lose hope in peace. The human and the centaur, against all odds, formed a friendship that surpassed the bounds of race. Together, they decided to begin their lives anew and create a refuge for human and centaur alike. They built their safe haven near the ocean and the budding tree for all those who sought peace and the shelter of friendship.

The pale oak grew under the watchful and gentle eye of Ventari, becoming strong and healthy, and giving the old centaur great joy. Yet with this bliss came sorrow. The centaur tribes of the north and west, crushed and driven out by Krytans fleeing from their flooding coastline, grew more and more savage and brutal. As more tribes joined the war, fewer were willing to listen to Ventari's words, and his new outpost became smaller and smaller.

At last, old and grey, Ventari carved his life's lessons upon a marble tablet, which he placed at the base of the pale tree so that future travelers might read it and, perhaps, learn the ways of peace and harmony. Then, many years after his human companion had passed on, Ventari laid down beside the tree Ronan had planted, and died. The year was 1165 AE.

The tree, white and sparkling, continued to grow. Over a hundred years later, small cocoons appeared among its branches. These cocoons spun out, shifting and eventually ripping open, birthing a new race of people into the world—fully grown, as if they had awakened from some magical dream. They called themselves the sylvari, and these "firstborn" were only the beginning of a widespread emergence, all born from the same massive tree.

The marble tablet still bears Ventari's last words, and the sylvari who emerged from the tree found themselves strangely guided by these ancient lessons. Whether the tree, tended by Ventari, somehow became imprinted with the noble centaur's morals and ethics, or whether it absorbed both the remains of the centaur's flesh as well as his compassionate soul upon his death, no one knows for certain. But it is certain that his influence over the sylvari is strong, even so many decades after his death. Their race venerates the Ventari Tablet as their most sacred artifact and testament.

Secondborn[edit]

Spoiler alert: The following text contains spoilers relating to Living World Season 2.

In 1304 AE, two years after the emergence of the firstborn, the Pale Tree stirred again. These new sylvari were called secondborn, and their coming marked a turbulent new chapter in sylvari history. Among them was Cadeyrn, who was disturbed that the Pale Mother appeared to favour the firstborn, and Ceara, who would become the harbinger of Mordremoth. By the this time, Riannoc, the first of the sylvari to die, had already passed from the world.

After the emergence of the secondborn, sylvari continued to sprout from the Pale Tree at an increasing rate. They had becomes one of the established races of Tyria.

Cadeyrn was sceptical of the tenets of the Ventari tablet, finding them idealistic and naïve. He and the firstborn Faolain led a group of dissenters who met to discuss alternative philosophies. When the firstborn Malomedies was abducted by the curious, amoral asura, the firstborn refused to take revenge, in keeping with the tenets of the Ventari tablet. After these incidents, Cadeyrn founded a faction named the Nightmare Court, dedicated to freeing the sylvari from the yoke of the Ventari tablet.

After more asura captured three more secondborn (among them Canach), Faolain and the firstborn Caithe led the rescue effort. After rescuing the saplings, Faolain and Caithe headed out to the Silverwastes in pursuit of the firstborn Wynne, whom Faolain had become convinced was keeping a secret from the rest of the sylvari. Accompanied by the nascent Nightmare Court, they tracked Wynne down and found her consorting with the peaceful Maguuma centaur tribe. Faolain and Caithe pressed the centaurs to release Wynne into their custody, and after the tensions spilled over into violence Wynne fled and many of the centaurs were killed. Caithe and Faolain eventually tracked Wynne down to a sealed cavern, where they cornered her. While Faolain went to secure materials to torture her secret out of her, Wynne begged Caithe to kill her to protect her secret, revealed to her in her Dream: that the sylvari come from Mordremoth, that they belong to it, and that they are meant to serve it. Caithe took it upon herself to protect the secret, and with it the sylvari race. Faolain left to join the Nightmare Court, and would later lead it.

In the years to follow, another secondborn, Ceara, had found great academic success studying with the asura. She delved deep into the Eternal Alchemy, and on entering an isolation chamber she delved deep into the sylvari psyche, beyond the protection of the Pale Mother and opened herself up to the dragon's call. Under Mordremoth's influence she began a campaign to properly awaken the jungle dragon.

Recent developments[edit]

Spoiler alert: The following text contains spoilers relating to the personal story, Living World Season 2, and Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.

In 1325 AE, a sylvari named Malyck was discovered who did not emerge from the Pale Tree or share in the Dream. His pod was discovered on the western edge of a river that runs through Brisban Wildlands, suggesting his tree lies somewhere in the Heart of Maguuma. Called "the harbinger" by the Nightmare Court, he traveled west, promising to return with a host with which to fight the dragons. To this day, he has not returned, and his ultimate fate is unknown. That same year, the Nightmare Court in the Twilight Arbor tried to cultivate their own twisted version of the Pale Tree called the Nightmare Tree, but their plans were foiled.

In 1327 AE, the machinations of Ceara (now known as Scarlet Briar) came to a head as she attacked Lion's Arch to access the ley line nexus beneath it, creating a surge of magical energy that awakened Mordremoth. Her actions caused the sylvari to be widely distrusted among the other races, but her true motivations and the sylvari's wider connection to the Elder Dragons was not yet known. As Mordremoth's power grew, soundless sylvari such as Aerin began to fall under its influence, and eventually its lieutenant the Shadow of the Dragon staged an attack on the Pale Tree herself, seriously weakening her and inhibiting her ability to protect the rest of the sylvari.

In 1328 AE, the Pact launched a full-scale assault on the dragon. However, as their airships flew over the jungle and came in closer proximity to the dragon, the sylvari aboard them (who made up a large proportion of the Pact forces) felt Mordremoth's call, and many of them succumbed and turned against their comrades. The airships crashed and burned on the outskirts of the jungle, and those sylvari who had fallen to the dragon's influence reorganised themselves as the Mordrem Guard, dedicated to spreading the dragon's influence and creating new minions.

Following Mordremoth's demise in the Pact's campaign, some Mordrem became unhinged without the Elder Dragon's voice to guide them and continued being a threatening presence in the Heart of Maguuma in 1329 AE and beyond.[7] Others returned to Central Tyria, free from the dragon's influence but forever changed by the experience.

Gallery[edit]

Concept art
Renders

Notes[edit]

  • The term sylvari is used in the plural, possessive and singular forms.
  • The sylvari race underwent a redesign early on, the results of which were revealed on August 8, 2011.
  • The sylvari race was playable for the first time during the 3rd Beta Weekend Event.
  • Though "25 years ago" is often used to describe the age of the sylvari race, they first awakened in 1302 AE, per the novels' timeline.

Trivia[edit]

  • The sylvari are based on arthurian legends, and their personal story has strong ties to them.[8]
  • Silva is Latin for "forest", "wood" or "grove". The suffix -ari corresponds to a form of the Latin suffix -ārius "belonging to".
  • The unimplemented Guild Wars Utopia included the sidhe, a race based upon the Irish mythological aos sí, also known as as sídhe. Sylvari also have some similarities to Irish and Celtic folklore.
  • Ogden's Benediction from Guild Wars: Eye of the North hinted at the existence of sylvari by showing the Pale Tree moving with the line "new creatures would stir."
  • From release to around mid-2016, most sylvari NPCs have an orange or white luminescence glow. The known exceptions are: Toxic Alliance NPCs (lime green), Scarlet Briar (red), Trahearne (darker orange), and Amaranda the Lonesome (green). The reason for this is because the glow is difficult to set on NPCs. Those who have an orange glow (including Trahearne) will have a white glow during most cinematics during the Personal Story. As of mid-2016, sylvari NPCs have a wide variety of glows.
  • Although the lore states that sylvari pods are golden, they appear as green pods with a cyan glow both in the initial cinematic and in-game by the entrance to the Grove in Caledon Forest.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d I attended the GW2 China Beta Festival! Here's some pics I took of the event, as well as some lore/update info I asked from the Devs! : Guildwars2
  2. ^ a b Sylvari Lore Interview with Ree Soesbee & Kristen Perry, TalkTyria.net (Archived)
  3. ^ Post by Martin Kerstein, GuildWars2Guru.com (Archived)
  4. ^ Dragon corruption — Guild Wars 2 Forums
  5. ^ The Crystal Dragon
  6. ^ Wiispace Interview With Ree Soesbee, World Designer and Writer For Guild Wars 2, Wiispace.com
  7. ^ Eir's Memorial in Hoelbrak
    <Character Name>: I still can't believe it. How did you find Garm?
    Rox: Tracked him from the crash site. Wasn't easy—the jungle's still crawling with Mordrem.
    Rox: Some of them have come unhinged without their master's voice. Poor Garm followed Eir's scent into the middle of it all.
  8. ^ Guild Wars 2 EuroGamer Expo 2011 Colin Johanson Interview, YouTube.com