History never lies. Historians however...
— A common saying in the Durmand Priory
- 1 Characters
- 1.1 Pact Commander
- 1.2 Iconics (Destiny's Edge)
- 1.3 Biconics (Dragon's Watch)
- 1.4 Allies
- 1.4.1 Human
- 1.4.2 Sylvari
- 1.4.3 Other allies
- 1.5 Enemies
- 1.5.1 Asura
- 1.5.2 Charr
- 1.5.3 Elder Dragon
- 184.108.40.206 Jormag
- 220.127.116.11 Mordremoth
- 18.104.22.168 Primordus
- 22.214.171.124 Zhaitan
- 1.5.4 Human
- 1.5.5 Norn
- 1.5.6 Sylvari
- 1.5.7 Other enemies
- 2 Races
- 2.1 Asura
- 2.1.1 Arcane Eye
- 2.1.2 Culture
- 2.1.3 History
- 2.2 Centaur
- 2.3 Charr
- 2.4 Dwarf
- 2.5 Elder Dragon
- 2.6 Giganticus Lupicus
- 2.7 Human
- 2.7.1 Culture
- 126.96.36.199 On why Queen Jennah and Logan cannot love each other freely
- 188.8.131.52 On Ebonhawke tolerating charr
- 184.108.40.206 On Kryta and Queen Jennah trusting Lion's Arch
- 220.127.116.11 On the state of affairs since Ulgoth meta event
- 18.104.22.168 On who has claim to Orr
- 22.214.171.124 On Orrian royal bloodline
- 126.96.36.199 On humanity fleeing to Orr
- 2.7.2 History
- 2.7.3 Seraph
- 2.7.4 Six Human Gods
- 2.7.5 White Mantle
- 2.7.1 Culture
- 2.8 Norn
- 2.9 Ogre
- 2.10 Skritt
- 2.11 Sylvari
- 2.11.1 On sylvari being jungle dragon minions reveal
- 2.11.2 On whether sylvari can emerge from their pod with a handicap
- 2.11.3 Nightmare
- 2.11.4 Soundless
- 2.12 Tengu
- 2.13 Multiracial
- 2.13.1 On non-human languages
- 2.13.2 On cross-species relationships
- 2.13.3 Captain's Council
- 2.13.4 Order of Whispers
- 2.13.5 Pact
- 2.13.6 Zaishen
- 2.13.7 Zephyrites
- 2.13.8 Religion
- 2.1 Asura
- 3 Classes
- 3.1 General
- 3.2 Mesmer
- 3.3 Necromancer
- 3.4 Revenant
- 3.5 Ritualist
- 3.6 Warrior
- 4 Magic
- 4.1 General
- 4.2 Bloodstone
- 4.3 Foefire
- 5 World
- 5.1 Celestial bodies
- 5.2 Central Tyria
- 5.2.1 Kryta
- 188.8.131.52 On the borders of modern Kryta
- 184.108.40.206 Kessex Hills
- 220.127.116.11 Lion's Arch
- 18.104.22.168 Queensdale
- 5.2.2 Maguuma Wastes
- 5.2.1 Kryta
- 5.3 The Mists
- 6 Miscellaneous replies
- 6.1 On adding prominent ethnic and gay characters to the world
- 6.2 On characters that inspired the developers
- 6.3 On maintaining consistency of the Guild Wars universe
- 6.4 On focusing on characters over worldbuilding
- 6.5 On story creation process
- 6.6 On writing and spending time with characters
- 6.7 On bringing back short stories
- 6.8 On the accessibility of raids
- 6.9 On writings dungeon letters to player character from multiple sources
- 6.10 On eventually resolving unfinished plot lines
- 7 To be categorized questions
- 7.1 Lore Q & A 2016
- 7.2 GW2Guru 2010
- 7.2.1 On whether Shining Blade and White Mantle appear in GW2 and in what role
- 7.2.2 On the Inquest being the evil asura faction
- 7.2.3 On the Scepter of Orr making a comeback in GW2
- 7.2.4 On the Black Citadel being a renamed Iron Citadel
- 7.2.5 On the meaning of facet in asura death
- 7.2.6 On what Spirits of the Wild are canon after changes since GW2 pre-beta
- 7.2.7 On the histories of norn and asura and if they get expanded upon
- 7.2.8 On what happened to the Ophil, Gokir and Agari hylek
- 7.2.9 On the origin of Moa'vu'Kaal and if it was a skale god
- 7.2.10 On how much the grawl evolved between GW1 and GW2
- 7.3 Gmag Season 1 Interview
- 7.3.1 On how long karka and other aquatic races have existed
- 7.3.2 On whether the karka hive tentacles are tied to Deep Sea Dragon
- 7.3.3 On the origins of Aetherblades
- 7.3.4 On why the Nightmare Court splinter group joined the Toxic Alliance
- 7.3.5 On why Scarlet disliked humans
- 7.3.6 On the Toxic Hybrid and its last words
- 7.3.7 On the reason for Scarlet's invasions
- 7.3.8 On the fates of Mai Trin and other lieutenants of Scarlet
- 7.4 Talktyria Sylvari
- 7.4.1 On the population of Nightmare Court
- 7.4.2 On whether the sylvari awakening was a response to the Elder Dragon threat
- 7.4.3 On how other races first reacted to sylvari
- 7.4.4 On sylvar familial system
- 7.4.5 On whether sylvari need to eat
- 7.4.6 On sylvari humor and sense of fun
- 7.4.7 On the significance of sylvari seasonal cycles
- 7.4.8 On the sylvari redesign
- 7.4.9 On why Zhaitan awoke
- 7.4.10 On whether all dwarves turned to stone
- 7.5 Espirits d'Orr Questions to Angel
- 7.5.1 On spellcasting
- 7.5.2 On whether classes can use cross-class spell mechanics
- 7.5.3 On whether the four schools of magic exist in modern Tyria
- 7.5.4 On learning magic
- 7.5.5 On whether magic is hereditary
- 7.5.6 On the connection between Shadow Arts and magic
- 7.5.7 On illusion visibility to others
- 7.5.8 On waypoints and their function
- 7.5.9 On the technological gap between asura and bookahs
- 7.5.10 On the state of god worship after GW1
- 7.5.11 On the realignment of the Mouvelian Calendar
- 8 References
On the bond between the player and their NPC companions
Q: Lorewise, how close is the bond between a Player and their npc Companions (Ranger Pet, Necromancer Minions, Thieves Guild, etc.)?
Angel McCoy: That depends on the character. Everyone is an individual, and it would do no good to generalize something like this. Each player can choose to roleplay their relationships as they wish.
Iconics (Destiny's Edge)
On Garm's early history
Q: Some questions regarding Garm; how did he and Eir meet, and where specifically? And assuming dire wolves are by now extinct in Tyria (as well) with the only live specimen being him, what happened to the pack he was born into? Lastly, what happened between them that makes him follow Eir as his ‘alpha’?
Angel McCoy: That’s a big story. I’ll put it into my list of possible ideas to tackle in a blog post.
Biconics (Dragon's Watch)
On Kasmeer's family and being seen in the Dead End
Q: There was an interesting exchange between Logan and Kasmeer at the end of the cutscene in the journal which finished with an interesting close-up on Kasmeer. There are some people who consider that to simply be surprise at seeing her in a hive of scum and villainy like that bar. Others are wondering if it may be more significant. If we were to ask Logan about Kasmeer and her family, what might he tell us?
Scott McGough: Kasmeer’s from a prominent family that’s fallen on hard times. So they’re no longer a wealthy family, they don’t have the kind of cash reserves that other noble families have; that’s the main reason that Kasmeer has a job. She needs to work to support herself. I spoke with Angel McCoy who wrote that scene that you were talking about and that last moment where Logan says ‘Lady Kasmeer!’ with a sort of shock. And according to Angel that is the long and short of it, that Logan was shocked to see such a high born woman of such refined and gentile manners in this hive of scum and villainy. And that sort of points to the larger story that she’s in that place because she works with Marjory and that’s Marjory’s instance. The uh – I forget the name of the bar, it’s got a great name, Last Chance Salone, uh – Dead End that’s it! Yes, I think that Logan, being as plugged in as he is into Kryta’s society and Divinity’s Reach, he knows who Lady Kasmeer is and knows her background. I don’t think they’re close personal friends, Lady Kasmeer is close personal friends with Lord Faren. But Logan’s –
Jeff Grubb: That’s Lord Faren.
Scott McGough: Yeah, Faren’s friends with everyone.
Jeff Grubb: Yeah, come on.
Scott McGough: But, yeah, I think that was really more of a shock and surprise to find such a fine woman in such a low dive situation.
On Marjory's origin and the unusual disappearances in Divinity's Reach
Q: In Marjory’s story we also learn of “unusual” disappearances happening in Divinity’s Reach. We wonder how widespread these disappearances are, and whether the kidnapped people turn up one way or another, if they return at all.
Scott McGough: Well that’s very much part of the mystery. This was the motivating event that prompted Marjory to leave the Ministry Guard, she didn’t want to be part of this corrupted institution anymore. At some in the future we intend to circle back and that will be Marjory’s origin story. How she got to be how she is. The story that Angel wrote, the prose piece, is a hint of that.
Jeff Grubb: So will it be resolved?
Scott McGough: The plan is to.
On the size of Marjory's family
Q: Just how large is Marjory’s family?
ArenaNet: Marjory comes from a big lower-class family. She has three sisters, one of whom was just killed by Mordrem (Belinda). Her mother is still alive, as is her father, though her parents are estranged from one another. Both her surviving sisters are married, though we have never heard whether they have children or not. She undoubtedly has aunts, uncles, and cousins all living in Divinity’s Reach or nearby. It’s likely that some of her grandparents are also living.
On Taimi's parents and Zojja's role in Taimi's education
Q: Who were Taimi’s parents? What is Zojja’s role in Taimi’s education?
Bobby Stein: We intend to explore answers to both questions in future stories. Stay tuned.
Q: Why does Minister Arton think the bandits are connected with the Mantle?
ArenaNet: Minister Arton didn’t expound on that. Whatever his reasoning was, it didn’t convince Caudecus to take additional action.
On Ela Makkay's prominence as info source
Q: It gets very tiresome when we deal with the same individual (linking to Magister Ela Makkay) time and time again even though there are other alternatives such as LOR-748 Field Reporter and Tyrian Explorers Society that once were introduced.
Bobby Stein: I think you need to balance how you use particular characters. I think it’s bad form to throw “one-offs” all over the place that are there for purely functional reasons, but have zero personality or reuse potential. In Ela’s case, she’s a natural fit for imparting a lot of supplementary info of current (and past) events, and since she was a (small) part of the Season 2 story there’s a bit more context. Granted, she doesn’t have much to say outside of factual info, so if we were to do anything else with her I’d hope we’d flesh out her personality some more. But I hear where you’re coming from.
On Faren, Merula and the coveted 1324 AE wall calendar
Q: Faren seems to chase everything in a skirt. In the party scene, we find that he apparently has a fan in Minister Merula. If someone were to try setting them up, how would he respond, and why? (And for that matter, what makes the 1324 AE wall calendar so coveted?)
ArenaNet: Faren certainly is…generous with his affections, and Merula definitely has a bit of a crush on the rakish nobleman. All things being equal, Faren would respond enthusiastically if someone were to set him up with Merula. He’s notoriously bad at committed relationships, however, so we’d all have to wait and see how and if such a scenario would play out.
As for the 1324 AE wall calendar, its popularity among Divinity’s Reach Faren fans is due to its rarity (it was a small print run) and its content. Specifically, the calendar made liberal use of images featuring Faren in tastefully alluring poses, wearing tastefully enticing outfits (including but not limited to his stylish red beach briefs, as seen on the shores of Southsun Cove and in Scarlet’s cauldron).
On why menders care to the Avatar of the Tree specifically
Q: Why is it a concern that the Avatar of the Pale Tree stops breathing when it’s simply a projection the Pale Tree employs to speak with humanoids, and why do the Menders care about attending to the avatar specifically as opposed to the Pale Tree as a whole? For that matter, why does the avatar fall unconscious rather than simply dissipating?
ArenaNet: The menders are tending to the avatar primarily as a diagnostic tool to determine how badly the Pale Tree herself is injured. The avatar is a strong indicator of the Pale Tree’s state of mind and health, like the proverbial canary in a coal mine—if the bird shows signs of distress, something’s wrong. When the avatar drops like a puppet with its strings cut, the menders work on both it and the Pale Tree to identify and ultimately treat the problem. The avatar is not an independent being with independent life, but when it stops breathing it means the Pale Tree herself is in dire straits.
So the menders are absolutely tending to the Pale Tree itself as well as the avatar. Just as the avatar is used to represent the Pale Tree and make her more accessible in dialogue scenes, we use the treatment of the avatar to represent and make more accessible the treatment of the Pale Tree herself (which is more difficult to show in game).
On how Trahearne and Sayeh al'Rajihd first joined forces
Q: What exactly was it that caused Sayeh al’Rajihd and Trahearne to join forces the first time they met?
Angel McCoy: We’re keeping this story in our pocket for potential future release.
On the fate of Your Herald from dungeon stories
Q: Remember “Your Herald” from the dungeons? Said he’d follow your progress...whatever happened to him and his warnings of ongoing happening?
Bobby Stein: Your Herald was mostly a functional creation from what I understand. The dungeon letters needed to come from someone, and since we had some technical constraints that made it difficult (if not impossible) to originate from multiple potential sources based on your character’s decisions a nameless character was introduced. It’s kind of like the Tyrian Explorers Society notes you get for map completion. I think both have the potential to be very interesting but there wasn’t much need to develop them beyond the initial implementation. Perhaps that will change in the future. No promises, though. :)
On the lack of female Icebrood
Q: In Edge of Destiny it’s observed that men who go to fight Jormag’s minions and fail, return as icebroods but women don’t return at all. Is there anything more about what happens to women who fall under Jormag’s power?
Jeff Grubb: I don’t think they fall as much as they are killed. The Sons of Svanir just… the way that they worship Jormag has evolved is very chauvinist, very male chauvinist, in the fact that it is a very boys-only club, they don’t really get to reanimate. The women are just slain.
Ree Soesbee: I think it’s less that Jormag won’t corrupt a woman and more that as they are being corrupted, the Sons of Svanir will just kill any woman who is caught being given Svanir’s gift.
Jeff Grubb: Jormag doesn’t care. Jormag really does not care. It’s as if ants that are going off, the red ants and the black ants, that’s nice. But the Sons of Svanir…
Ree Soesbee: The Sons of Svanir have a cult, it’s a religious organisation.
Jeff Grubb: It comes through hat funnel, the Sons of Svanir are his mechanism in the world, so therefore their beliefs, and their prejudices, have that effect.
Ree Soesbee: And so they kill the women.
On Mordremoth's influence over sylvari
Q: Mordremoth’s influence on Sylvari wasn’t actual dragon corruption, right? What about the physical changes they went through as Mordrem Guard? Is that a form of corruption, or is it just Mordremoth forcing them to use Sylvari’s ability to alter their appearance (like Canach or Caithe did, but in a more extreme way)?
Scott McGough: Sylvari are a special case/special type of Elder Dragon minion, and their situation is made even more unique by Mordy’s influence over minds in general (and theirs in particular).
Mordremoth’s corruption is analogous to weeds and moss invading a garden and totally taking it over. The invader (for the purposes of this analogy, the weeds and moss) claims the nutrients and resources that would otherwise go to the existing plants, surrounds and envelops the native plants and digests them/converts them into more raw material it can use to grow, and then spreads outward, colonizing as it goes. The invader continues to get stronger and expand while the native plants are choked out/starved/digested and wither away. This sort of overwhelming growth/colonization can also be seen in the bodies of its minions like the Mordrem Wolf or Mordrem Troll (who were originally something else before they became Mordremoth minions—I’d call out an analogy to Alan Moore’s excellent classic Swamp Thing story, “The Anatomy Lesson,” where the creature’s original body is slowly replaced by plant material until you have essentially a plant version of the original that has the same general form but not necessarily the same function); there are also things like the Mordrem Vine Crawlers and Tendril Roots, which Mordy basically crafted from scratch using the plant material at hand.
A Mordrem Guard’s appearance is more due to Mordremoth’s ability to control and shape plant life—sylvari are plants, after all, and once Mordy’s mental influence takes hold of a sylvari, it then twists their physical form into this more formidable configuration. It is related to/a dark mirror of a sylvari’s ability to change their own appearance, but in this case it’s being directed by Mordy and not the individual.
On what Mordrem targeted in their assaults
Q: When the Mordrem attacked Fort Salma, their goal seemed obvious—krait obelisk shards were being stored there. However, their targets at Concordia and Iron Marches are not as clear; though we see caravans moving magical artifacts, they don’t seem something to be powerful enough to merit the Mordrem’s distant attention compared to, for example, the Durmand Priory or Rata Sum. What were the Mordrem after in those two places?
ArenaNet: The most powerful artifacts won’t be common knowledge. That stated, Mordrem don’t always attack with the sole purpose of consuming magic.
On Mordrem vines and whether destroyed waypoints will be restored
Q: Though the waypoints have been saved, the vines could still be tunneling beneath the ground—but now we have no means to track them. Are the vines continue creeping along? And will the destroyed waypoints ever be restored?
ArenaNet: Many Tyrians worry about this, especially in light of recent events. Where will they pop up next? What will happen when they do? What will they destroy? Will we ever be able to fix what they break? How many people will die next time? Will it be someone I love? These are all questions that cause many Tyrians to lose sleep.
On how Mordrem appear on attack sites
Q: Starting in Episode 2, we see attacks from Mordremoth starting with vines erupting at a waypoint (having travelled there down a ley line) after which as well as mobile vine enemies, free-moving mordrem such as the wolves, husks, and Thrashers/Leechers appear. How do the latter group of Mordrem appear at the attack site? Are they carried by the vines, carried as seeds that rapidly germinate on-site, or are they corrupted from local flora and fauna? Or do they appear by some other means?
ArenaNet: There’s still a good deal of research happening to try to figure this out. However, what observation has revealed is that Mordrem do seem to emerge from the ground.
On Primordus deciding to stay underground
Q: Primordus was the first one to awake. While (most of) the other dragons moved places (be it raising a continent or flying south), Primordus decided to stay in the Depths of Tyria. Why did it decide to stay there?
Jeff Grubb: Primordus has remained beneath the surface, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t moved around. He has been clearing huge tracks of the underground regions of the world, and his activities have sent a number of other races to the surface, including one that the asura are all-too-familiar with – the rodential skritt. As a result of his activities, the minions of Primordus can be found almost anywhere on the surface.
On Primorus corrupting the living and the rules of Elder Dragons
Q: Similarly in the Volcanic Fractal, it presents us an interesting setting: an abandoned mine, human captives, lava-infused with mystic powers, with bats and a crazed shaman turning into something a bit destroyer-like. Could it be a hint that Primordus can actually corrupt living beings since so far we’ve only been told that he can twist fire and stone.
Jeff Grubb: We’ve shown that from the early Eye of the North, and when we designed the Elder Dragons we were looking at them having specialties where they could corrupt more than just one type of substance. Some of them could affect life, some of them could affect inanimate objects, some of them could affect the elements, vegetation, water, you know they all had their some specialty but they also have some overlap and I believe Primordus, ‘cause we had the troll, the Destroyer Trolls who basically were very molten but also very humanoid as well. So I do believe that Primordus can affect the living.
Ree Soesbee: But probably not easily.
Jeff Grubb: But not with the same animating force you see from Zhaitan, reanimating the dead of Orr.
Ree Soesbee: I think that it’s, perspective wise, it’s more like the troll or the grawl has a layer of rock over them. They turn a little bit elemental in –
Jeff Grubb and Scott McGough: Sort of like Jormag and the Sons of Svanir
Scott McGough: The icier the Sons of Svanir, the more corrupted they are. I would say that Primordus can-
Ree Soesbee: The rockier they are…
Jeff Grubb: There are rules for the Elder Dragons but they’re not the same rules for every Elder Dragon.
Ree Soesbee: It’s kind of like he’s converting those living creatures into stone.
On Zhaitan's appearance in Arah
Q: Between some of the cinematics we see near the end of the personal story there’s quite a transmutation between those cinematics and his final form that we see in the Arah story dungeon. Was this simply a design decision to better reflect the feeling of Zhaitan’s necrotic powers and make him more of a Lovecraftian entity or is it the result of his weakening throughout Orr, such as being starved, taking their toll on his body?
Ree Soesbee: It’s a combination of things. A lot of times when you see him in those earlier cinematics, those things are coming from a perspective of a character and that person saw a certain thing or perceived him or carried the image of him in a certain way from how they had interacted or they had seen the dragon or the dragon’s activities. At the end it’s… we wanted it to be a little more of a revelation too. You hadn’t just seen this creature four or five times and now you get to fight it – it’s a little different. It’s not quite what you were expecting. Some of that is impacted by what the player characters do throughout their personal story and how they weaken him and how they impact him directly and some of it is just storytelling.
Jeff Grubb: Part of it too is that we evolved – behind the screen, we evolved as we moved forward as well. We did the early first (image of) Zhaitan awakening beneath the ocean. We were going that direction – we always had an Elder God feel to it, but it really crystallised around Kekei’s art piece, were we had a dragon that breathed dragon heads – that then breathed undead. Now, this is cool, this is different, this is what we really want to get to with the idea of making them, Elder Dragons, more alien, more outside the realm of your traditional, Glint-style dragon.
Scott McGough: I agree with everything that’s been said, but I also want to stress the second half of that that yes, the campaign of the Pact that is conducted in Orr has gone a long way towards weakening Zhaitan. We the storyteller worked with the designers and the artists to sort of present those last levels as a campaign. You enter Orr, and then it’s a very military progression. You kill of the spies when you kill the Eyes, you kill the food supplies when you kill the Mouths. All the things you do in Orr weaken Zhaitan.
Ree Soesbee: So he CAN be fought.
Scott McGough: And in the last few sections you actually hear him roar in anger and frustration after you complete something because you are making him weaker. It’s very much what Ree said but it’s also… I like that aspect of that sort of gameplay supporting the story and vice versa. This is a military campaign we’re conducting and it’s gone very well.
Ree Soesbee: It let us have a certain facet of the story where we had presented this Elder Dragon as completely undefeatable. Well, then, you can’t just march up to him and say “I’ve got my 80th level, thump, you’re dead!”
Scott McGough: I hammer it with my sword.
Ree Soesbee: You need to have a legitimate reason why he can be defeated NOW, and that’s why the campaign in Orr follows that direction.
Scott McGough: And that’s why we have that big air battle at the end. So that’s just, basically, we have to get everything rolling.
On the Pact not making expeditions to Zhaitan's corpse
Q: It concerns a lot of people that we never see Zhaitan’s corpse crushed under the debris of his last stand – that gigantic tower – and there’s also the incredible benefits that the studying of an Elder Dragon’s carcass could yield. And yet the Pact made no such expeditions yet. What might be the reasons behind that?
Jeff Grubb: The idea is that we have many stories that we can tell, that we are going forward with, and while I don’t know if we’ve got anything in the docket right now – I’m not going to speak for anybody as far as process – the idea is that we do have a big dragon carcass somewhere out there.
Ree Soesbee: Or potentially – when you go out there into the repeatable of Arah, when you go into that after thing where you’re… you’re dealing with his spirit.
Jeff Grubb: You’re dealing with the… well, no, you’re dealing with the fragments of the past as well. Basically that story of the elder races – I think that has a more prominent feel than the immediate “quick, let’s go loot the body”.
Ree Soesbee: Yeah, it’s not a quick let’s go loot the body but while you’re in there, some of the justification is that while you’re in there you’re doing research, you’re looking into that, you’re dealing with some of the after effects of his spirit.
On how Aerin was corrupted by Mordremoth
Q: How was Aerin corrupted by Mordremoth, having been so high up in the sky?
ArenaNet: It’s only conjecture that he was corrupted by Mordremoth, but it’s worth mentioning that he wasn’t always on the ships.
On the future of the Modus Sceleris
Q: Are the Modus Sceleris canceled?
Bobby Stein: Disclaimer: I didn’t work on the Modus Sceleris content so I’m not sure what the long term plan was, originally. I do get the impression that the team that added it did so with intentions to develop it over time, but there was likely a change in direction (e.g. LW Season 1) that caused it to be shelved. Those folks probably got assigned to other projects, if memory serves me.
Would we ever use Modus Sceleris again? I think if we had a compelling reason we would, but they’re pretty far down the list (narratively speaking) because there are other stories we’d like to develop and groups we’d like to explore first.
On Arcane Eye vs. Order of Whispers
Q: In asuran society, we know of the Arcane Eye. They’re briefly described as a secret service organization that works directly for the Council. In terms of gathered information, are they more advanced than the Order of Whispers?
Angel McCoy: The Arcane Eye and the Order of Whispers have two very different missions. The Arcane Eye is tasked specifically with protecting and advancing the causes of Rata Sum. They have no members from other races, and they couldn’t care less about anything that does not affect Rata Sum and asuran citizens.
The Order of Whispers, on the other hand, is a multi-racial organization that has been around for a long time. It is the oldest of the orders and originated in Elona as a specifically Elonian organization. Over the centuries, the Order of Whispers has grown into an international order with members from all races. They have gathered far more information than the Arcane Eye. In a fight, the Order of Whispers would definitely win.
On leaders of the Arcane Eye
Q: Who runs the Arcane Eye?
Angel McCoy: The Arcane Council runs the Arcane Eye. They direct the Eye’s missions and promote its leaders. The Arcane Eye is nowhere near as large as the Order of Whispers, and most of its members are kept completely anonymous so they can spy on their own people without censure—all in the best interest of Rata Sum, of course. In some ways, they’re like the “Internal Affairs” department in a police force, but sneakier.
On future developments
Q: Will we see more of the Arcane Eye in the future?
Angel McCoy: I think it’s safe to say yes, although I can’t say when or how. (: They’re so sneaky, you won’t see them coming! Hehe.
On asura marriage
Q: Can you explain how an asuran wedding ceremony might work ? Preferably with as much details as possible.
Jeff Grubb: Here’s what I have said publicly previously on Asura Marriage – Asura tend to practice serial monogamy, in that they have a serious romantic relationship with only one other asura at a time. Most of these relationships are equal partnerships which often (but not always) have a firm, pre-determined end date. Most often, such relationships come out of two asura who fall in love with the same beautiful concept. These marriages of the mind produce rapid development of ideas and increased conceptual paradigms. Oh yeah, and children. Relationships that break up tend to feature more fights about who gets the inventions than who gets the kids. – http://secretagentcat.com/2011/09/12/in-the-mind-of-genius/
I don’t think we’ve had an asura wedding ceremony yet.
On a prodigy's invention being seized by their college
Q: Councilor Phlunt’s claiming of Taimi’s device has stirred some controversy among the fanbase, but as yet we don’t have much context to judge what exactly happened. What usually happens with a prodigy’s invention when it is claimed by their college in this way, particularly (as is important for asura) when it comes to assigning credit?
ArenaNet: While an asura is a student, any device they invent can be seized by and belongs to the college. This works on the same principal as company proprietorship over anything you invent while working for that company. The college has the right to further research the device and to employ it in any way they see fit. The fact that Phlunt is also claiming some credit for the invention is just because Phlunt is a jerk.
On asura creating golems
Q: What inspired the asura to build elaborate architecture and GOLEMs?
Angel McCoy: Originally, the asura were entirely subterranean. They’ve always been hyper-intelligent, and while living underground, they built great labyrinthine cities. Without the stimuli that come with living on the surface, they turned inward, developing their minds, their designs, and their understanding of the Eternal Alchemy. Being somewhat diminutive, they needed muscle, and thus they invented golems. Their original architecture developed from a desire to keep the spaces in which they lived from collapsing. Plus, they appreciate beautiful things.
Centuries ago, the Great Destroyer drove the asura from their underground homes. At that time, they were forced upward, into the light and into open spaces in which they felt quite vulnerable. They no longer had complete control over their environment. Thus, they faced their greatest challenge.
In response, the asura had to adapt their knowledge, skills, and techniques. To this day, they still prefer labyrinthine and cave-like spaces over open air, although there are open-air courtyards in Rata Sum, the living quarters are deep inside the city where little outside light reaches. Many build their labs underground or in fortified bunkers. They also love their artificial lighting, especially blue.
On asura not staying on land
Q: A lot of asuran structures float, and are sky bound now (see: Rata Sum), why didn't they stay on land?
Angel McCoy: The surface of Tyria posed many threats to the asura who simply weren’t used to the creatures on land. Living underground, they’d created fortressed areas for themselves where they could control everything. Imagine what it must have been like for them when, practically overnight, they were chased from their homes by Destroyers and emerged into this vast, sunlit space that has no walls, no security, no clear paths. Suddenly, their enemies could come at them from any direction! This moment had a lasting effect on the psychology of asuran society.
It was a terrifying time for those asura who lived through it, and they immediately began building their structures out of reach of creatures, beasts, enemy races, and Destroyers.
Over time, some asura have returned underground, building labs there, but the majority of asura live inside the unbreachable walls of Rata Sum. The main access to the city is through the asura gates, which they control. If they ever felt the need, they could easily shut themselves off from the rest of Tyria and hole up in their floating city.
On how centaur society is structured
Q: How is the centaur society structured? What place does spiritualism, social rank, family take in day-to-day life?
Scott McGough: In modern times, the bulk of centaur society is structured more like a massive army under the control of a powerful warlord—specifically, Ulgoth the Mighty of the Modniir. In reaction to all the other sentient races pushing in on centaur territory (humanity being the first on their list of enemies), the Modniir mustered and organized the Harathi and Tamini tribes into a single large fighting force. The Modniir occupy the highest position in this tribal hierarchy, followed by the Harathi, and then the Tamini. The Modniir are ruthless and dictatorial, conscripting the less powerful centaur tribes into service and forcing them to fight according to the combat strategies and orders of battle laid out by the Modniir high command.
The centaurs are generally a very spiritual people that combine nature worship with ancestor worship. This worship was always fairly militant and violent, with rites that routinely ended in ritualistic combat between centaur tribes or between individuals from the same tribe. Years of struggle and border warfare have hardened the centaurs to the point where their religious observances are even more violent and martial than they had been, especially with the Modniir’s aggressive campaign of attacks on humanity. Centaurs still have a deep reverence for their nature spirit (whom they vehemently deny is an aspect of the human goddess Melandru) but these days they focus on the proud, wild, and free aspects of their spirituality far more than the growing and nurturing aspects.
Centaur family bonds have correspondingly diminished in importance as the war against humanity progresses. They still have defined family roles (in short, the males hunt and protect the tribe’s borders while the females aggressively defend centaur civilians while administering the day to day operation of encampments). Males are more common on the battlefield, but as the conflict with humanity continues to drain centaur resources, more and more females are being called away from centaur homesteads to participate in the front line fighting.
On the diaspora of centaurs
Q: So does that mean that the Krytans have been pushing the centaurs back even though they’re still there, or is it still pretty much what we’ve seen in the zones?
Jeff Grubb: Pretty much what you’re seeing in the zone. There’s still the incursions coming down out of the mountains. There’s still the Modniir controlling the other centaurs, uh, nations. What’s lacking is that whole unifications under one warleader, and another could arise.
Ree Soesbee: And another problem is that the centaurs don’t have anywhere to go. It’s hard to truly drive them off, you would have to almost eradicate them or find them somewhere to go. Because right now they don’t have anywhere else to go, they’re backed into a corner.
Jeff Grubb: Yeah they’ve hit the area around Lion’s Arch and that’s about as far south as they can go. The Modniir are just one more displaced people like the norn and the kodan who are basically driven south by Jormag.
On the centaur tribes
Q: I was wondering 'cause previously the centaurs were near the Maguuma, in the Wastes of the Maguuma Jungle.
Jeff Grubb: Those were the other – those were not Modniir. Those were the other races. Harathi. I think Tamini were around…
Ree Soesbee: The Tamini have always been nomadic. The Tamini don’t really have a homeland-
Jeff Grubb: They were the smallest of the groups.
Ree Soesbee: They used to have a lot of Kryta and some of the Maguuma, the Shiverpeaks they would just roam through. The Modniir in the Shiverpeaks just got moved as much as the norn and the humans.
On charr choosing a profession
Q: During their training in the fahrar, how is a charr’s profession decided? What would prompt a cub to be given training in spellcasting, when spellcasting is not particularly liked in charr society? Does the fahrar merely give charr a basic military training and they then leave and decide which profession they want to specialize in?
Jeff Grubb: Profession is determined by aptitude. If a young charr has magical tendencies, it would be unwise both for the cub and the warband to push him or her into another field. Some groups do this, but others are pragmatic about it – a hallmark of charr thinking. They are not big fans of magical abilities due to the previous power of the Flame Legion, but still see magical abilities as a useful tool. The best modern comparison is the American Football Team, which mostly consists of big, beefy warrior types, but really like to keep around the small guy whose only real skill is to kick the ball 50 yards through a set of uprights.
On charr love
Q: Do charr understand the concept of love, or do they select merely based on primal instincts like protection, best fit, alpha status and alike (much like in an animal society)?
Angel McCoy: Charr most definitely understand love, fall in love, fall out of love, and love friends and warband-mates deeply. When it comes to procreation, opinions vary. There are those who look for the partner with the best “genes,” and there are the surprise pregnancies as well. There are couples who love each other and want to make little versions of themselves. Everyone is an individual.
Scott McGough: I’d like to add that the charr are largely a military culture, so the qualities that make for a good soldier (bravery, fighting skill, leadership ability, loyalty, etc.) are considered attractive, but that is not the only criteria a charr has in terms of who they seek out as a compatible partner.
On who found the Claw of the Khan-Ur and where
Q: In the Ghosts of Ascalon book, an unnamed imperator of the Flame Legion is mentioned to have had the Claw of the Khan-Ur. Where did he find the Claw and what was the imperator’s name?
Jeff Grubb: The Flame Legion Imperator who lost the Claw has had his name struck from the records and carved from the monuments. His story has not been revealed.
On Elder Dragons powering up after other Elder Dragons' deaths
Q: It seems when one of the Elder Dragons is killed, the others are powered up because they have more magic to consume. Would it be possible that the last of them is so powerful that the players would lose the last battle? We know that you like players’ actions to have consequences in the world we play in, so is that scenario possible?
Ree Soesbee: There are many different possibilities; Tyrians are only now learning about the Elder Dragons, how to defeat them, and what happens when one is defeated. We can certainly speculate on what will happen if only one Elder Dragon is left, but nobody knows for sure.
On potential Mordrem and Branded interaction
Q: In Episode 3 [of Living World Season 2], we see an invasion of Iron Marches. This is significant as the Iron Marches also contains a significant portion of the Brand, making this a location where minions of one dragon are possibly subject to corruption by another. Have any Mordrem wandered into the Brand, and if so, what was the result?
ArenaNet: To date that region has seen no interactions between Mordrem and Branded. Current theory among Tyria’s dragon researchers is that Elder Dragons would fight (at least via their minion proxy armies) if they expanded into each other’s territories, but so far this theory has not been confirmed.
On whether Deep Sea Dragon's name has been discovered and what it is
Q: Since Mordremoth’s name has been found by research in sources left behind by the elder races, has the Deep Sea Dragon’s name been similarly discovered? If so, what is it?
ArenaNet: Mordremoth’s name is known in certain circles and has been for a long time. This includes anyone in the Durmand Priory and anyone with an interest in the dragons. It’s only the common citizen without access to higher learning that hasn’t heard it—until now. Now, everyone knows it. There is some information about all the Elder Dragons in this ancient document [referring to the Tome of the Five True Gods], but some of that book was damaged and not all of the original information survived the centuries.
On the locations of lupicus
Q: Back in Guild Wars 1, we had that mention of the last appearance of the Giganticus Lupicus ten thousand years ago. And then the first people to get to the explorable dungeons in Arah were probably rather surprised to find the Giganticus Lupicus corpse sitting there waiting for them. Is there a story behind how one got to be there?
Jeff Grubb: How one got to be there… I think brought from its original resting place by Zhaitans minions for that big arena, central cathedral area as a watchdog, as a guardian. The whole… In many ways, the whole tale of the Elder Dragons begins with that one line – that was the first line of the timeline. During the Cantha project I said ‘what does this mean’ – well, we have some big skulls out in the wilderness and we didn’t know what they were so that’s what they are. But when we started telling the story of the Elder Dragons it just fit in so neatly that well, if they’ve come before, when did they come? Hey, we have the Giganticus Lupicus being wiped out in this era! Oh, okay, THAT must have been the last time the Elder Dragons showed up, and the story evolved from there. It’s one thing we’re very good at moving forwards – we leave a lot of hooks so future designers, future storytellers, ourselves in the future have a lot of potential that we can build off.
GuildMag: I was personally wondering that in the Crystal Desert back in Guild Wars 1 we saw lots of skeletons lying around and we considered them to be the skeletons of the Giganticus Lupicus.
Jeff Grubb: Some of them are, yes.
GuildMag: When we see him – the recent specimen in the centre of Arah, he’s sort of a jackal-like, Anubis sort of thing, and yet the skeletons back in Guild Wars 1 were sort of draconic or with large tusks or larger…
Jeff Grubb: I think the look of the Giganticus Lupicus evolved over time – in the fact that we started off with “okay, here’s the skull, build us a creature that looks like this.” Giganticus Lupicus also – Lupicus has a wolf origin to it, so we were thinking in terms of wolves at the time, and from there we basically got to that jackal-headed, Anubis type of figure. So they basically… I could see the older, larger versions of the Giganticus giganticus would be the huge skulls, because of course, with limitations within the game we could only put the figure so large and still have you be able to fight it in any reasonable sense.
Ree Soesbee: And I think that much like the centaurs, you’re gonna have this ancient creature that has some distinction according to territory, according to how it has evolved. So you can have a couple of different skulls that have similarities but aren’t.
On why Queen Jennah and Logan cannot love each other freely
Q: Why can’t Logan and Jennah love each other freely or marry each other? Is there a tradition preventing them? Can’t the queen choose her consort? Is Logan not highly born enough (he is still Gwen’s descendant)?
Angel McCoy: The nobility of Kryta is modeled on historic medieval feudalism. It’s unusual, and frowned upon, for people from different social strata to intermingle. Of course, there are always trysts between gentry, commoner, and street folk, and even love. But, socially, especially from the point of view of the gentry, it’s considered demeaning. There are also real social boundaries to it. A noble must behave a certain way and speak a certain way when in noble company. Most commoner and street people don’t dress, talk, or behave that way, and they actually disdain that kind of “snootiness.” There are stories in history of a royal loving and even marrying a commoner, but these are rare and come with heavy repercussions to both usually.
Specific to Logan and the queen, there are a lot of political machinations going on behind the scenes. They have many hurdles to overcome if they’re to be together, the least of which is that they both have bigger priorities to deal with. We’ll delve into these more at a later time.
On Ebonhawke tolerating charr
Q: I play a charr, but I can walk through Ebonhawke without getting the stink eye – where is all this sudden tolerance coming from?
Angel McCoy: The cease fire while treaty talks are under way. Humans and charr are currently under a cease fire arranged between the legions and the queen. Only renegades and separatists take action against the other race, and they’re bad guys.
Scott McGough: Also, random open hostility by humans toward charr in Ebonhawke would raise the ire of both Divinity’s Reach and the Black Citadel, and drawing too much attention to the Separatists’ provocative underground political/martial movement is a sure way to get that movement crushed before it gets results. In other words, the anti-charr humans of Ebonhawke don’t like charr, but they know enough to bide their time and pick their battles.
On Kryta and Queen Jennah trusting Lion's Arch
Q: How come Queen Jennah is so trusting towards Lion’s Arch? It is a melting pot lair of pirates ruled by the fiercest of them all, when she, on the other side, lead a battle against Kryta’s bandits who are not so different?
Angel McCoy: Lion’s Arch has been an established trade ally for a long time. She may not trust individuals from LA, but the city as a whole is very unlikely to attack Divinity’s Reach. Kryta’s bandits, on the other hand, are in the streets of DR and have damaged the DR economy as well as assaulting citizens. They are an immediate threat to DR.
On the state of affairs since Ulgoth meta event
Q: At the end of the Harathi Hinterlands meta event chain, we defeat the Modniir Ulgoth, also known as the War King, which is presumably a significant blow to the centaurs. Meanwhile from Marjory’s story it seems that the corruption in the Ministry has, if anything, grown worse. What is the current state of affairs in Kryta?
Ree Soesbee: Well the background of that story was of course – spoiler alert – were that there were ministers in Kryta who were sort of fueling the centaurs, who were making sure they had the weapons and the goods to really cause some unrest because they wanted to say that Queen Jennah is doing a really, really bad job. I don’t think that the minister’s purpose there necessarily changed at all regardless of who is the leadership, or who is in charge of encouraging that. The ministry wants to see Kryta destabilized enough that the queen can be deposed.
Jeff Grubb: Right. They want to see just enough unrest, just enough pressure from the bandits, from the centaurs, basically to create that doubt among the followers of the queen. Basically, to expand their own power base. So they’re exploiting the situation as opposed to creating. The centaurs are there but basically they’re seeing them as a tool that they could control or influence.
Scott McGough: And that dynamic between the Ministry’s Guard and the royalty is still very much in effect. There’s still a lot of intrigue. There’s lots of push me pull me tug-o-war on who’s actually making the decisions. The Ministry feels they should be making the decisions. Jennah and the Shining Blade feel the queen should be making the decisions. And so it’s very much a chess game.
Ree Soesbee: And you’ve got the situation where just killing the king of the Modniir doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve stopped the centaur. The centaurs have their own reasons for attacking. If they weren’t unified by the Modniir, they’d still be causing problems. They just wouldn’t be as organized, they wouldn’t be as effective. So taking out Ulgoth doesn’t eliminate the centaur threat, it just eliminates the organization of that threat, at that level.
On who has claim to Orr
Q: As the City of the Gods, Arah has a deep historical significance to humanity. What has been the reaction to Kryta to the events of the personal story? Because – I won’t speak much of the spoilers – but Orr is in a state that could lead to some recolonization.
Ree Soesbee: There’s a lot in Orr that could affect the culture of Kryta – to the story of the gods and the interaction with gods to the actual culture of Orr and the things left in Orr that Kryta can take up. We’re gonna have to see who kind of has primacy over these things. The Ministry’s going to want to seize it, the Queen’s going to want to use it. But I really think that the Pact and the various Orders are the people who have sort of the gateway of control about how those things are going to filter back.
Jeff Grubb: I actually disagree with Kryta being involved but they have restricted access. They might want it, but the idea – they aren’t in an expansionistic mode. That’s the challenges about being human in Tyria right now. Is the fact they’re basically “fall back, fall back” and basically they’re still stabilizing, fighting amongst themselves to a great degree. I do agree that the Pact forces are the ones that are going to be more prominent. Just because with the revolution of the story we have a still very state of unrest. There’s still a place for the Pact, there’s still a place for military forces. I don’t see people resettling that area. But I do see much, that like we did in the explorable mode of the final dungeon, basically seeing the Durmand Priory for example coming in and trying to research that area. And also the fact that Orr was not part of – was considered a separate nation at the time of the first Guild Wars, from Kryta. And while there’s that human heritage and that descent heritage, it’s like Ascalon in that it’s basically a different territory – the humans have fallen back from that area.
Ree Soesbee: There’s a story in another part of the game about, I believe he was the first king of Kryta. The son of Orr, the prince of Orr, who left Orr to settle that part of the mainland.]
Jeff Grubb: So there’s a heritage thing, but I think they’re separated enough that they’re considered separate nation.
Scott McGough: And just to expand the situation, the Pact is the organization that has their boots on the ground in Orr. So they’re going to have first crack at anything they find, and right now Kryta is not formerly part of the Pact but the three Orders are, so when the Pact finds stuff it’ll be funneled through the Orders first before it goes anywhere else.
Jeff Grubb: And it’s interesting that I just considered that the first Guild Wars came from the fact that we have nations that had large guilds that basically became super-national organizations dragging the nation-states in. And now we have unifying super-organizations in the Pact and the Orders that are basically trying to coordinate everything as well. And the question is: what’s the reaction of those nations – not just Kryta but the charr of Ascalon or etc. to the fact that there are these larger groups that are basically pan-species operations that are moving forward.
Scott McGough: And we don’t have any strong plans of this at the moment but it’s sort of analogous to a country objecting to the UN coming in and saying ‘we’re the ones who did this so we’re the ones who’ll decide what happens to it.’
Jeff Grubb: They’re NGOs. They’re non-government organizations.
On Orrian royal bloodline
Q: Although Queen Jennah has a rightful claim to the throne through the bloodline of King Doric. So what about that?
Ree Soesbee: I think that when the prince who left Orr to establish Kryta, when he went to do that, by doing that he – I want to say he completely left the claim to the Orrian throne, and he certainly has a bloodline to it. But I think that the distance between the two thrones is going to be too disparate for her to just step up and say ‘I own that.’
Jeff Grubb: And I think Kryta has their hands full.
Ree Soesbee: Well that’s certainly true. She could say it but couldn’t necessarily back it.
Jeff Grubb: Basically, they could claim Orr if they wanted but it’s not going to happen. They have just been emerging from fighting over Ebonhawke forever. And basically this is a long, long-distant claim operation that it’ll just create havoc. Do they really want another venture like that?
Scott McGough: And I think the distance is a key factor in that. I think it’s far more immediate for the government of Kryta to sort things out with the charr – with the Black Citadel. With Ebonhawke, with the Claw of the Khan-Ur, there’s peace treaties, there’s negotiations in motion. I think this is the first and most important and most achievable step to peace they could take, that Orr is secondary on their doorstep.
Jeff Grubb: And even though you have asura gates as being an instantaneous means to go from Divinity’s Reach to Ebonhawke very easily, they can basically set up something to get to Orr without going to Lion’s Arch. It’s still that, there’s the immediacy of problems right outside your gate versus of on the other side of the continent.
Scott McGough: And we’ve seen in the novel and the game that the peace process between the charr and the humans is making progress. I think their first priority is to finish that as best they can before getting into Orr.
Ree Soesbee: And there are also some implications in Guild Wars one when you get into the stuff with Vizier Khilbron and so forth, there are survivors of Orr. There are people who got away when the continent sunk. You’d need to look into those to see if any of those were move closely related to the throne because they might have a better claim. Not necessarily that they can pull it off-
Jeff Grubb: A secret heir lost off-end.
Ree Soesbee: Yeah a secret heir, a lord of Orr, because like I said, the queen’s descendancy dates back to the first king of Kryta. But that is not necessarily as close to the throne as someone who’s great-grandfather was king.
Jeff Grubb: And Salma was a revealed ruler as well. They had lost the entire Krytan house. And then they found her, and therefore that’s a step as well.
On humanity fleeing to Orr
Q: One thing I will comment on, coming back to the centaurs not leaving, it does strike me that if Orr was to be cleansed and the Pact would allow it, then Orr would be a good spot for humanity to retreat to if things got too tight in Kryta.
Ree Soesbee: They can certainly move some of their population but you’re never gonna have a situation where you say ‘Hello British people, there’s a lot of room in America!’
On King Jadon
Q: What happened to King Jadon of Kryta? He abandoned his throne, but where did he go? Is he still alive during Guild Wars Beyond, in exile somewhere? Might he try to reclaim the throne, or might some later child of his — born in exile — assert some claim to it? This could tie in to the various conflicts that Salma has to face over the next few years.
Jeff Grubb: The tides of history have closed over King Jadon and the rest of the royal family. While it is possible that his family may have survived, no word of it has come down into the present time.
On why humanity did not discover several Tyrian races until GW2
Q: Some Tyrian races, such as quaggans, kodan, skritt, or even largos, have appeared in Guild Wars 2. These races have their own history, and their origins are maybe found before the original Guild Wars. Why didn’t humans find them before?
Ree Soesbee: There were many races in Tyria that the humans hadn’t encountered yet in Guild Wars®, either because those races lived deep underground (such as the asura and skritt) or because they lived in very deep ocean waters (largos and quaggan). Only after the dragons woke up and created great tectonic changes did the humans encounter the kodan, who lived far to the north but had been pushed south by the upheaval.
On the Seraph investigating the copper smuggling ring
Q: Are the Seraph still interested in investigating the copper smuggling ring, or have they now decided they’ve done all they need to there?
ArenaNet: The Seraph have their hands full with spreading Mordrem. Suddenly, the smuggling ring seems much less important. They have not, however, forgotten them. They continue to track the ring as best they can, but the ring’s members scattered to the wind because of Mordrem.
Six Human Gods
On the absence of the Six
Q: Are the Six [gods] really gone or not? Their power is still very much present. Players can call upon the gods’ power with prayers, NPC priests can summon Reapers of Grenth etc., and their statues are still stuffed with energy. So if they left, why are their power still here?
Jeff Grubb: The human gods still exist, and their power is still felt within Tyria. However, they have pulled back into the mists, leaving the humans to stand (or fall) on their own merits. There has been a tendency for the human gods to, um, meddle with their worshippers a bit much, and in the wake of the final battle of Abaddon, they have been trying to cut back. Also, the destruction of the big A and his replacement with Kormir in the Pantheon resolved one of their ties with physical contact with Tyria. So there are ties, but you just can’t ring them up to take on the Elder Dragons.
On future appearances of the White Mantle
Q: In the human personal story we meet members of the White Mantle in Queensdale and Kessex. After their defeat in Guild Wars 1, they retreated to the Maguuma Jungle, where it was noted that they thrived in secret. Will there be more of them or will we hear more of them?
Ree Soesbee: That is a good question. I think by the fact that we mention them in game you can assume that there is information out there, you can assume that there is part of the story in history or current that spawned what you have seen in that game. That that is not the only White Mantle cell, that is not the only piece of that story. As to when or how we will tell that we can not answer.
On ogre religious beliefs
Q: Do ogres have religious beliefs?
Jeff Grubb: From our internal wiki “Ogres are not spiritual in any fashion; they have no concept of gods of religious spirits, they do not worship anything or anyone, they do not have religious traditions, superstitions, or any other fantastic explanation about how the world works or how life was created. They simply do not care. Ogres care only for the here-and-now, the concrete reality of the moment, and have no spiritual belief system to address anything beyond that point.”
On the skritt of Skrittsburgh and Dry Top
Q: What is the relationship, if any, between the skritt of Skrittsburgh in Brisban Wildlands and the skritt of Dry Top?
ArenaNet: The skritt of Dry Top are cut off from everything in Brisban Wildlands—on purpose. They came out here to make their own community. They’re oddballs and have no reason to go back to Skrittsburgh at this time.
On sylvari being jungle dragon minions reveal
Q: Don’t you, or the other writers, feel bad about the Mordremoth-Sylvari connection being predicted. I saw that theory develop from the start, and to begin with it was wild speculation based on flimsy evidence that was mostly debunked on release… but it remained popular because people liked the idea. It turned out to be right in the end, but pretty much only by coincidence that an unsubstantiated theory turned out to be right until well into S1 when genuine evidence started to appear. In a way, it’s a compliment – it was a twist that was so popular it held on despite a total lack of solid evidence.
Scott McGough: The Mordremoth/sylvari connection (specifically Mordremoth as the “grandfather” / ultimate source of the sylvari race) was planned from the very beginning of GW2 story development and world-building. When I started at ArenaNet back in 2008, that was well established canon and one of the first lore bits I was entrusted with and told to keep entirely secret until we had the chance to reveal it in game. As such, we put clues in the game to hint at that conclusion, and people took the hints and figured it out. I was surprised how quickly people figured it out, but I was more impressed at our community’s theorycrafting than I was unhappy they had guessed the correct answer.
On whether sylvari can emerge from their pod with a handicap
Q; Is it possible for a Sylvari to be born mute, or blind ? Or with a severe handicap? Can they be mentally deficient ? What happens if a pod falls from the tree too early?
Scott McGough: It is entirely possible for a sylvari to be emerge from their pod mute, or blind, or otherwise physically challenged/disabled. I don’t believe there are any examples of this currently in game, but that’s down to the Pale Tree’s creation of new sylvari being so solid and reliable. If something injured a sylvari in the pod before they emerged, or if there was the human equivalent of a genetic quirk that affected them during gestation, it could happen.
I will also say that it’s possible for sylvari to be emerge from their pods with psychological problems (that can also develop after they emerge as a result of trauma, abuse, etc.). Ceara (who would become Scarlet), for example, emerged with and immediately demonstrated an extreme lack of empathy for others that, in humans, would be associated with antisocial or borderline personality disorder.
On Nightmare Court masquerading as Soundless
Q: There's no cure for Nightmare, but can a Courtier mask themselves as a Soundless if they're preying on Dreamers?
Scott McGough: Yes, a Nightmare Courtier could take steps to mask themselves as a Soundless. The Court uses many avenues of persuasion to seduce other sylvari into joining their cause. One potential way they could accomplish what you describe is through a set of meditations similar to the ones actual Soundless use to diminish their empathic connection to the Dream, much like a spy would become fluent in a foreign language to better blend in with the enemies they're spying on.
On detecting Nightmare's influence
Q: Can Courtiers have their corruption detected by menders or other members of the community by either physical or empathic means?
Scott McGough: Nightmare Courtiers often do register differently to other sylvari through their shared empathic connection, but it's not always an obvious "take one look and you'll know who's Nightmare" situation. As stated above, they use many methods of persuasion to convince other sylvari to join their cause, and so they have developed common methods of masking their intentions in order to make inroads with potential new recruits without frightening those new recruits off.
On Nightmare Court retaining sense of self
Q: Do Courtiers retain a sense of self after corruption, maintaining varied goals and methods for how to best spread Nightmare?
Scott McGough: Courtiers definitely retain a sense of who they were before they fell to Nightmare and also maintain aspects of their personalities (albeit twisted by cruelty and malice). Take Faolain for example: she is the highest ranking member of the Court, but she retains her obsession for Caithe while she also continues to spread the Nightmare Court's message.
On sylvari being born to Nightmare
Q: Can sylvari be born Nightmare from the pale tree?
Scott McGough: No. All sylvari born from the Pale Tree start off with a strong sense of the moral/philosophical lessons listed on Ventari's Tablet. Some reject those lessons, and some reject them almost immediately, but they all start with the same moral foundations, which are based on Ventari's Tablet and reinforced by the Dream before a sylvari awakens in the Grove.
On permanent disconnection from the Dream
Q: Can Soundless permanently cut themselves from the dream, or is it a meditation they must upkeep?
Scott McGough: Most Soundless sylvari perform a specific kind of meditation or mental exercise in order to shut themselves off from the Dream, a technique developed and disseminated by one of the firstborn. They need to perform this exercise often and repeatedly to minimize the empathic bond they share with other awakened sylvari. This minimization can be virtually complete, but it can never be literally complete—in other words, a Soundless sylvari cannot ever fully disconnect from the Dream, but through sustained and repeated meditation, they can minimize the common day-to-day empathic connection they feel with other sylvari. If the Pale Tree needed to speak to a Soundless sylvari, she could, but it would take more effort on her part than it would to speak to a regular sylvari.
On tengu remaining hostile in the present day
Q: After all the achievements we made during these three years, why are the tengu still so hostile? After all, we killed Zhaitan, defeated Scarlet (who was close to them), and destroyed the Shadow of the Dragon.
Ree Soesbee: The tengu are a very complicated race, filled with bureaucracy and warrior trials. It takes them a long time to trust other races—they were hunted in Cantha—and it would require a lot of discussion among their high masters before they could commit to any kind of treaty with the other races. Many individual tengu do believe in building a peace with the other races, but at this time they are still arguing their case before the leaders of the Dominion.
On non-human languages
Q: Norn are said to have a different language, but we never see nor hear it; charr used ideograms, but did they always speak “common” – and for that matter, is there a name for the language spoke? Some lines in GW1 called it “Tyrian” while in the Ecology of the Charr it is called “human” – and why do so many minor races (grawl, jotun, ogre, harpy, hylek, etc.) know how to speak it?
Matthew Medina: Norn do (or maybe it’s more appropriate to say did) have their own language, but we don’t name it and really all that survives of it tend to be names of places and people, like Hoelbrak. I think it’s unlikely that we would get into any more detail about it than we already have. Even in Eye of the North the runes we saw were few and far between, and so it was a language that was already being edged out in favor of the common tongue.
Charr ideograms weren’t actually designed to be part of a language – they were warband signs, used to leave each other messages only they could understand, like “ambush ahead” or “this territory belongs to the Smoke warband”. If charr ever had a language all their own, they’re being exceedingly secretive about it. I’ll get to when/why they speak common in more detail below.
Asura do have a spoken/written language that is as complicated as the asura are themselves, which is where the word bookah comes from. The alphabet we see on their screens/displays/signs in game is actually based on a small subset of their written language that they converted into a cipher of the common tongue; specifically the letters are derived from how they write mathematics.
Now, as to where the common language came from and why it’s become so ubiquitous in Tyria – that really goes back to ancient history, at the very least to the last cycle of the Elder Dragons awakening. In the cycle just before the one that Tyria is currently experiencing, we know that five races were shepherded by the dragon champion Glint and survived. Those races too, had their own languages, but as they fought and struggled to survive the predations of the Elder Dragons, they also realized that they would need to communicate, not only amongst themselves in the short term, but to convey to future generations whatever information they learned about the Elder Dragons. It’s not clear whether they adopted one of the race’s languages as the common tongue (in the same way that English or Chinese or Spanish have spread to become more widely spoken), whether the common tongue already existed and pre-dates those races or whether they devised a new “common” tongue that all the races learned and passed on to future generations. But whichever explanation is correct has been lost to history and what we are left with is simply the knowledge that it was that first cooperation among the races who survived the last Elder Dragon cycle which gave birth to the widespread use of a common language that all Tyrians are raised to learn. Over the millennia since the Elder Dragons returned to slumber, it became clear that being able to understand one another was vital for survival, trade, and even war and a common language facilitated this nicely. It probably is appropriate for RP’ers to call this language Tyrian, since its usage (if not the language itself) was initially born of that cooperation between all the races that lived in Tyria at that time, but internally we tend to refer to it most often as “Common” – in homage to Jeff Grubb and the original D&D design team who solved this exact problem years before us. :-D
I can’t remember how much of this information (if any) was included in my blog post about the alphabets from years ago that is unfortunately no longer available. I’d always intended to follow up on Villem Caragan’s journal on the languages with this information but time just got away from all of us. :-)
On cross-species relationships
Q: Are there relationships between races in Tyria? We know of Braham and Rox…but is such a thing more common or the rare exception? And is there a possibility for cross-species offspring?
Angel McCoy: That is up to each individual to roleplay. You will currently find no official cross-species NPC relationships in the game. Rox and Braham are good friends. That’s not to say we might not one day have one.
On what the Captain's Council is
Q: What exactly is the Captain’s Council?
Ree Soesbee: Leadership in Lion’s Arch falls to a group of individuals known as the “Captain’s Council.”
When Lion’s Arch was rebuilt after the great flood caused by the rising of Orr, it was led by the men and women whose ships were the strongest and fastest; the captains who could best defend the city against the minions of Orr. Over the years, as the new Lion’s Arch grew larger and more stable, the Captain’s Council became more of a system of governance than merely an alliance of powerful crews.
The Captain’s Council is led by a Commodore, a member whom the council has elected to be their primary leader. The Commodore remains in the city, governing Lion’s Arch from day-to-day and coordinating the various captains of the council. The Captain’s Council is still comprised of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the city, but now that council has been broadened to include merchants and other citizens with a vested interest in Lion’s Arch.
On the origins of the Captain's Council
Q: Lion’s Arch hasn’t always had a Captain’s Council. Can you give us a little history of how the Council came to be?
Ree Soesbee: After the flooding of Lion’s Arch, the Krytan population moved north to escape the catastrophic flooding that saturated the continent’s coastline. For many years, Lion’s Arch was in ruins, covered by the sea. As the waters slowly receded, smugglers and pirates began to use the area as a safe haven. The ruins were a shelter from storms and from attacks by Orrian monstrosities, which had difficulty navigating the shallow, treacherous waters of the bay.
Pirates and smugglers used the area as a harbor, and a rough structure of interaction evolved. Captains made deals with one another, working together while they were in the bay in order to ensure the safety of all. This truce of peace extended as more and more ships became part of the deal.
In time, these positions of authority – the Captain’s Council –solidified, and the city that was established looked to the council for governance.
On how to become a member of the Captain's Council
Q: So how does one become a member of the Captain’s Council? Is it as easy as having a ship?
Ree Soesbee: Originally, an individual had to be captain of one of the ships that used the ruins of Lion’s Arch as a harbor. As the city evolved, the custom became that you had to possess a ship capable of defending the city, and you had to be invested in Lion’s Arch. That ‘investment’ usually meant a massive monetary bribe to the Captain’s Council, which was used for the betterment of the city as a whole.
In modern times, individuals can’t just purchase a seat on the Council. When a seat becomes available (usually when another Captain dies or retires their city commission), they are voted in by popular acclaim and the majority agreement of the current Captains.
Order of Whispers
On the Order Threat Assessment Board
Q: In the Order of Whispers lair, we can see a huge planetarium. But it doesn’t seem to correspond to Tyrian continents. What are the blue areas on it? Of what use is this item for the Order?
Jeff Grubb: The huge orb is the Order Threat Assessment Board, indicating draconic and other supernatural threats on a huge scale. Much of the globe has not been explored by the Order, and as a result that space is used as expanded views for the areas that they are monitoring, and the end result does not look like the “real” world outside to someone just walking in (think of walking up behind a programmer when their screen is filled with code).
On the future of the Pact after Heart of Thorns
Q: During the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ beta, an NPC said, “Look around you, there is no more Pact!” Is the Pact officially disbanded, or only very weakened?
Ree Soesbee: The Pact has been weakened by the events in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, but it still exists. The mission of saving Tyria from the Elder Dragons is as important now as ever, and many people of all races still ardently believe in that goal. Therefore, the Pact still has recruits and is still around.
On the multiracial Zaishen Order and lore moments from Tyrian history in PvP
Q: And another question that someone wonders what the current situation is with the Zaishen order, has it shattered after the destruction of the Battle Islands or are they still in the PvP business? Why do we see so many non-humans in an order dedicated to the human god of war?
Ree Soesbee: Well, certainly the PvP and the battles in the Mists are not dedicated to the human god of war any more. The temple has… shamans of Bear who want to see norn fight and do well in battle, there are charr there with their atheistic tendencies, and it’s spread through the races.
Jeff Grubb: But the big thing is I think the way the Zaishen has reinvented itself in the wake of the destruction of the Battle Isles is they still have that component of combat to them but now they’ve spread out, they’ve become that large umbrella-type of order which can include asura and sylvari and others, so basically has dropped away its philosophical roots with Balthazar and embraced more the sense of conflict itself.
Ree Soesbee: One thing I’d like to see – a lot of our maps and a lot of our Into the Mists scenarios are very human-centric. I’d love to see a…
Jeff Grubb: A lot a points in human history.
Ree Soesbee: A lot of other human history, most from that history, but I’d like to see one of… not even the norn being south or the asura being driven upwards but even… who was the first asura leader, how did he get that position, what were the ancient norn in their glory days of old. The original charr, what was it like…
Jeff Grubb: Foundation of Hoelbrak.
Ree Soesbee: Even before, before the Guild Wars 2 chronology, what were the norn before they met the humans?
Jeff Grubb: I think one of the reasons we see a lot of human history in the fractals and in PvP in the mists is the fact that we’re in Tyria and a lot of these races have come in. The asura, the sylvari are very recent, the norn… the charr I think have great potential there for what their history was, the early battles against the humans that were pushing in to their territory.
Ree Soesbee: It’d be neat to have one of those PvP battles be right after the death of the Khan-Ur, when his children are fighting among one another after his death.
Jeff Grubb: That War of Succession would just be… has a rich feel to it.
Ree Soesbee: And those things exist in the Mists. We’ve established the Mists as being memory, and being the history of the world in all places for all races, and the Zaishen order have changed for the same reason, they’re looking back at wars in all places and for all races.
On the founding of the Zephyrites
Q: We have the introduction of the Zephyr Sanctum and that reading between the lines it seems that the Sanctum might be the successor organization of the Brotherhood of the Dragon acting on Glint’s behalf after the dwarves underwent the Rite. If we were to ask one of their historians about how the Sanctum was founded, what would they say?
Scott McGough: That’s a very good question. A lot of that is still in the works. We have introduced the Sanctum now. We’re not really ready to reveal all of the details about how it was formed and where it came from, but yeah, what you mentioned there is in the game and it is part of the set-up. There is sort of a passing of the baton from the Brotherhood of the Dragon to the current Zephyrites.
Ree Soesbee: I think that’s something the Durmand Priory would be researching too. Whether or not the Zephyrites wanted them to know or not the Durmand Priory would be poking around.
Scott MCGough: The Zephyrites have kept themselves very aloof from the other societies on Tyria, so they’re relatively secretive. People don’t know much about them so we’re looking forward to revealing more about them in the upcoming months but right now we don’t have a pad answer for you because we’re trying to stretch that out and maintain some of the mystery.
On Canthan and Elonian representation among Zephyrites
Q: So why do the Elonians and Canthans take up most of the crew of the Order of the Zephyrites?
Scott McGough: I believe it has to do mostly with the way the organization was founded and where it was founded. They do have this connection to the Brotherhood of the Dragon. They were in – like I said they keep themselves separate, they keep themselves distinct from the Tyrian races. So naturally the only thing left after you deal with Tyria is Cantha and Elona. It’s really just a question of geography. This is where the organization was founded so it drew on its members from those places before the Sanctum figuratively took off and floated away never to touch the ground again.
On the Great Dwarf and gods in general
Q: Can you give us more information on the Great Dwarf, is he really a god or more like a powerful spirit (like the spirits of the wild)?
Jeff Grubb: The Great Dwarf can best be thought of as collective consciousness of the dwarves themselves (indeed, in making the prophesy of the Great Dwarf defeating the Great Destroyer coming true). Has anyone MET the Great Dwarf, and found him to be a real being? Well, that has not happened.
The whole question of gods is based upon culture. The humans have tangible, powerful beings that they can interact with – hence, gods. The spirits of the norn also fit that description, so humans would call these beings “gods” as well. Norn would disagree. And describe the human gods as being “Spirits of Action” of the humans – Balthazar is obviously War, and should be spoken of as such. Kormir is Knowledge, and calling her Kormir is a quaint human thing.
Similarly, the humans would say that asura have no gods, or that they worship some concept. The asura would say that the Eternal Alchemy is obviously a true way of looking at the universe, and that that human gods were merely functions in that equation (really BIG functions, but functions nonetheless).
And while the charr recognize the humans gods as powerful patrons, they reject those patrons as being all-powerful or worthy of veneration. Indeed, such worship makes the worshippers weak.
On golems and other NPCs teleporting to cross gaps
Q: The ability of physical objects and immersion. Like what is just mechanical and what is canon. Porting in golems means that they have the ability to teleport, for example. There is no teleport effect if I am not mistaken and they just pop into existence (which also happens when NPCs in story move over gaps. We can suspend our disbelief with humanoid characters we are able to play ourselves, but if something like Taimi's golem suddenly pops up and there are not a lot of jumping golems ingame, it is questionable).
Scott McGough: Regarding golems “teleporting” to catch up/cross otherwise impassable gaps: it’s much more of a game mechanic/suspension of disbelief thing than a lore/continuity thing. As a rule, players move faster than NPCs, and have movement abilities/skills that NPC AI can’t employ as effectively as a living person, so NPCs need an additional mechanism to keep up. The same thing happens with ranger pets and necro minions. Players rely on having their NPC companions around to back them up, and story characters need to be there to participate in the story, so we make sure they are included.
On cross classing foreshadowing bloodstone weakening
Q: Was cross classing in Guild Wars a hint that the bloodstones were starting to have less of an affect (when it comes to magical limitations)?
Scott McGough: Yes. Magic continues to evolve on Tyria, as does the population's understanding of it. In the old days, as you stated, there was the possibility of cross-profession disciplines like Necromancer/Monk, which is an indication that the lines between the different schools could be blurred even then. In modern times, those lines are even more blurred as people delve deeper into magic and come up with more powerful magical techniques (as evidenced in game by the fact that all professions now have a healing skill). The way a player character's skills increase and expand as they level up is also an in-game indication of this greater facility and increased flexibility in terms of magic usage.
Lastly, in Angel McCoy’s interview, she states that some – but not all – people use an item to cast magic, in Sea of Sorrows, Verahd talks about needing his staff to cast. “A pity magic can't be done without weapon-focuses.” We’ve seen magic in the past used without weapons (or what one could question as a focus: The Cataclysm & The Lost Scroll).
On the need of a focus weapon for casting spells
Q: Do all people need to have a weapon or focus item in order to cast a magical spell, or is this only geared to some people, and can you give an example as to what a focus weapon might be?
Scott McGough: Verahd was speaking roughly 100 years before Guild Wars 2, so his statement, while accurate to the best of his knowledge at the time, is no longer 100% true. Some modern magic users can cast spells without a weapon, but it is much easier, more efficient, and far more prevalent to use a weapon because that's the way most magic-users were trained. In-game, a Guild Wars 2 player is obliged to use a weapon because that's how our skills and skill progression systems are set up, but an example of a spell being cast without a weapon to focus the magic occurs in the Human Commoner Personal Story when *Spoiler Alert* Countess Anise uses illusions/mesmer magic to make the player, Logan, and herself appear to be bandits, and does so without using her weapons.
And just to be clear, I interpret "weapon focus" as a weapon (sword, axe, mace) PCs use to channel magical attacks, and not a literal focus (i.e., the in-game off-hand weapon), so: nearly every weapon a PC can carry in Guild Wars 2 is a weapon focus. You start at Level 1 with a basic weapon that you improve/add attacks (skills) to by using it, which is a way of saying you're learning to channel magic through your weapon to make it more effective in combat. A weapon you improve this way cannot be used by anyone else (if they picked it up, they'd have to use it long enough to unlock its additional attacks/skills for themselves). Granted, there are some weapon skills that have no visible or obvious magical component (such as the shield's Shield Bash skill), and in that case the unlocking of skills represents the PC's increased facility with the physical weapon itself. However, a guardian with a shield can still channel magic through it to perform a Shield of Judgment or Shield of Absorption skill, so the shield still counts as a weapon focus.
On engineers and warriors being able to use magic
Q: Can warriors and engineers use magic?
Scott McGough: Warriors and engineers absolutely can use magic. Most of their skills are presented as nonmagical, but they do wield magical or magic-infused weaponry, so the lines get blurred (and the debate you’re describing occurs). Take the warrior’s torch skill Flames of War, for example. It creates a mobile flame field that follows the player around and explodes when it expires. There may be a non-magical weapon that can do those things, but a simple knotty branch with a burning oily rag tied to the end isn’t one of them. Likewise, the engineer’s pistol produces a lot of different effects—poison, burning, bouncy lighting blasts, glue—and it’s pretty hard to say there’s no magic involved in a pistol that serves as a dart gun, flamethrower, arc thrower, and glue bomb (and never needs reloading).
So there is no absolute in this case—i.e., you can’t say “warriors never use magic” any more than you can say “warriors always use magic.” Most warrior and engineer skills generally don’t use magic, but there are some with a clear magical component, be it in the weapon itself or in the skill’s effects.
On the lack of Heart of Thorns elite specs lore
Q: Before HoT launched it was suggested we might learn about the elite specs and their roles in the world in-game – that these weren’t just mechanical balance additions, but also were going to have more lore to them. Right now there is very little lore relating to HoT specialisations, was I hoping for too much or was it something that was just triaged out?
Scott McGough: GW2 has never delved very deeply into how the professions came about/were pioneered, in part due to character creation which starts you off as an established practitioner of that profession from the very first moment you enter the game. Players have room to develop their skills, but from the start they have basic spells and skills available without having a tutorial that teaches them how/shows them starting from zero and becoming a specific profession. That was mostly to get players in the world and playing as quickly as possible.
We opted to continue this approach for elite specializations in HoT. There is definitely a story behind how Rytlock became a revenant, but players don’t absolutely need to know that story in order to be a revenant themselves, any more than they need to know how an elementalist learns to channel earth/air/fire/water to play as an ele. For the purposes of gameplay, our introduction of the revenant and the other elite specs focused on exactly what they could do rather than exactly how they learned to do it.
On whether mesmers can permanently shapeshift
Q: In any case I actually have a question regarding her (Aid Worker Sya). Not sure if it is known. But she says something about being a mesmer helps her with her transition. But I'm curious can mesmer permanently shapeshift or does she only craft illusions to make her appear as her appearance has changed but has not actually?
Matthew Medina: Mesmers don't usually shapeshift in the way that term is usually meant; they use glamors and illusions to fool the senses into perceiving an appearance that is different from what it genuinely is. The exception to that is the "moa" elite skill since, as a polymorph, that affects characters outside themselves. But that's a pretty specialized skill whose origins remain somewhat mysterious. If Sya has determined a way to use her polymorph abilities to shapeshift it would be pretty revolutionary, and probably very costly!
But mesmers don't need to use that much magic to keep up smaller illusions, and those that are cast frequently and kept up for long periods might very well be considered "permanent" enough for someone like Sya, and a lot less costly than using a polymorph. Kasmeer herself has alluded in the past to the notion that her clothing might very well just be an illusion, and while there are those who believe that was just her way of being playful, the best mesmers are those who will always leave you wondering whether you can ever trust your senses again. :-)
On chronomancers and time manipulation
Q: Do chronomancers actually manipulate time or is it the perception of time?
Scott McGough: For both story and gameplay, actual time travel is a quagmire that has to be handled carefully.
I see the chronomancer as much more a case of manipulating the local perception of time rather than manipulating time itself. The Continuum Split skill text specifically mentions a rift in time and space continuum, but I’m like you in that I take that to mean “continuum” as a perceived possibility that the chronomancer is working with rather than an actual time jump. It visually appears to let the chronomancer rewind time, but functionally it’s a highly advanced, specialized mesmer clone that players directly control for a short duration while their real body is phased out—thus any damage, etc. happens to the Continuum Split clone (who disappears when the skill expires), and the PC resumes control of their real body unchanged from the moment they activated the skill (although they do retain any XP, etc. they garnered while in Continuum Split).
On greatsword-wielding necros foreshadowing reapers
Q: Since the release of the game, we saw Trahearne the necromancer proudly wielding Caladbolg, a greatsword—just like the new reaper elite specialization! Is this a wink, or is Trahearne the first reaper? And what about Marjory and the Delaqua-family greatsword?
Ree Soesbee: A lot of people use greatswords—these aren’t foreshadowing, nor are they hints toward the reaper specialization. Sorry!
On revenant legend interaction
Q: The idea of having a conversation with a revenant legend isn’t really covered in the story, but seeing as there is so much mystery surrounding Glint in the story right now, why can’t Glint enlighten a herald or two? Sylvari talking with Ventari, Ogden talking with Jalis – do revenants give us access to their knowledge?
Scott McGough: Revenant legends do have personalities and opinions and we do catch glimpses of them, but each legend also represents a snapshot of the character, a Mist-echo of the actual person and not the person themselves. As such, the revenant legend doesn't necessarily have the full range of memories & thoughts as the original.
Rytlock certainly could interact with the Glint legend he summons, but that legend wouldn't automatically know everything that Glint knew/have all the knowledge that Glint acquired during her life. Given their history, I agree it would be interesting to see what Rytlock and a sentient snapshot of Glint might say to each other in the present-day game situation.
On whether revenant legends need to be dead to be invoked
Q: I have been wondering... since LWS4 Episode 1, "The Hero of Istan" shows that Revenant Players in their cell could invoke Joko's power, despite Joko showing up later in said episode ... is it necessary for the legend a revenant is trying to invoke to be dead?
Scott McGough: Revenant Legends (the entities a revenant summons to access their skills) don't have to be dead to be summoned--they aren't ghosts or spirits of those entities, they are echoes of that persona that exist in the Mists; snapshots, if you will, of the entities, who are routinely high-profile, powerful personalities that had major impacts on the world.
On future use of ritualist's alternate magical energy
Q: Back before humans were granted magic, ritualists were believed to use something similar to (but not) magic. Will we ever see this alternative energy used, or has it faded in history?
Scott McGough: The alternate magical energy employed by ritualists has fallen out of general usage, as illustrated by the absence of ritualists in Guild Wars 2. The techniques ritualists used for casting spells are still valid, but in the 250 years since Guild Wars, Tyria has learned and mastered more efficient ways of casting spells. It's analogous to telegraph technology—it still functions and it still does the job of communicating across long distances, but in modern times there are newer, better ways to communicate so the old ways are effectively defunct.
On ritualist energy's relation to dragon corruption
Q: Was the energy ritualists used something that tied into dragon corruption, or are they two different energies entirely?
Scott McGough: The Guild Wars ritualist methods and techniques for casting spells/using magic are unrelated to the Elder Dragons.
On how warriors use shouts to heal
Q: Part of the “warriors and magic debate” I see a lot. Warrior shouts. Can a warrior use the one shout to actually heal a wound (Like the one skill does ingame)? Or is this a case of “most of the time, it’s just morale?”
Scott McGough: Without getting too meta or gamey: a player’s health automatically regenerates outside of combat, and conditions like bleeding or burning eventually wear off even if the player doesn’t administer first aid or stop, drop, and roll.
By the same token, I’d describe a warrior using a shout to heal as psyching themselves up to keep fighting, pressing on despite an injury, and otherwise refusing to let physical damage stop them—in effect, accelerating/activating that natural automatic recovery process that starts once combat is over—but bypassing the normal cooldown/out of combat requirement.
Q: Warriors do not summon banners from the sky, do they?
Scott McGough: Well, the animation does pretty clearly show the banner slamming down into the ground from above, or at least, blinking in/appearing as a result of the gesture the warrior makes. I could see that interpreted as the warrior had just pulled the banner out of their inventory and planted it (kind of like weapon swapping), but I come down on the side of the warrior magically summoning it from the sky.
Q: It could mean that the banner is nothing physical that is build by hand, but rather the expression of the warrior “planting” his power into the ground? Or does he really get one out of his magical satchel and slams it down?
Scott McGough: I say yes, because once it’s created, other players can pick it up and wield it.
On how often warriors use magic in a trained manner
Q: How often (in a generalized statement across all the races), do warriors use magic in a trained manner? How much magic could a Seraph warrior squad be expected to showcase? Obviously some warriors train in magic (asura especially), but how about the other races?
Scott McGough: Warriors rely on their physical skills more than their magical ones, but everyone in Tyria can use magic and almost everyone learns to do basic magic as a part of growing up/learning basic life skills.
Game-wise, one of the first things a new character does is level up their weapon skills by using that weapon; this is analogous to training hard and mastering the basics, which opens up access to the more advanced skills for that weapon. So as a natural consequence of perfecting their warrior abilities, the warrior PC learns some skills that have a magical component, and how to apply magic to some of their basic physical skills to improve the effect.
On uncontrolled magic changing Tequatl
Q: We still don’t know how and why Tequatl has evolved after the death of its master. Are there any clues?
Ree Soesbee: When an Elder Dragon dies, its magic isn’t just snuffed out. It doesn’t vanish. The creature itself is dead, but the magic that it put into the world through its creations is still there. Tequatl’s evolution is an aftereffect of the death of Zhaitan. The magic used to create Tequatl is no longer being controlled by Zhaitan, but it still exists within Tequatl. Therefore, like many uncontrolled magics, it is experiencing an evolution and it is shaping itself.
On how specific spellcasting is learned
Q: When stated that “Basically everybody learns their first spells from tutoring of their parents.” What does that mean? Human example: does this mean most people learn the “Prayer to Dwayna” style skills, or profession specific. That specific source mentions charr in Farhars learning their first spells (implying nearly all), yet we have Rytlock who never used magic, that is until his anti-foefire ritual.
Scott McGough: I’d draw an analogy to a child IRL learning to cook: the child sees their parents doing something, expresses an interest or is told “this is something you need to learn,” and the parent teaches the child how to do it. Once the child learns to grill a burger or mix up some mac & cheese, they may never use that skill again in their entire lives, but their experience includes learning how and, if ever called upon to do it later in life, they have some experience upon which to draw.
In other words, spellcasting in Tyria is a basic life skill like cooking, riding a bike, or swimming—it takes discipline and practice, and each family has its own way of teaching it, but learning how to master that basic life skill starts early. In your Rytlock example, he learned basic spells in the fahrar like every other charr cub, but he doesn’t routinely use spells in his adult life as a soldier (though he does carry a sweet magical flaming sword, so that does balance things out a bit).
On the power level of civilian spellcasters
Q: In comparison to adventurers/military forces/orders, what kind of spells or power levels do civilian spellcasters have, like the civilian necromancers in Divinity’s Reach?
Scott McGough: The average citizen has basic magic, but people who use magic everyday as a soldier or order operative have had a lot more practice and experience, so they’re able to cast bigger and more powerful spells more regularly. Think of it as a natural talent like singing or athletic ability—if you’re blessed with a lot of that talent, but don’t exercise it/practice it, you won’t be as good at it as someone who does. 
On bloodstone limitations no longer being strict
Q: Why are the bloodstone limitations not as strict as they used to be?
Angel McCoy: The bloodstone didn’t contain all the world’s magic, nor did it contain all types of magic. The dragons had already consumed some of the world’s magic, so it all wasn’t available to the Seers.
Each of the four magic-filled bloodstones had a particular “flavor” of magic when it was separated from its siblings. These flavors became the ancient schools of magic, and humans, who at the time didn’t realize there was a whole lot more magic waiting to leak out of the sleeping dragons, believed that was all the magic there was. And they organized their teachings, their research, and their spells according to that paradigm.
Over time, however, magic has gradually leaked back into the world from the sleeping dragons, becoming both more complex, more powerful, and more flexible. The citizens of Tyria have adjusted their spells, their research, and their teachings as they’ve had access to greater and more complex magic.
Since the dragons have been waking in recent years, one might assume that magic is at its peak right now, and the dragons are here to drain the world. They tap the world’s magic, consume it, and reduce the overall level of available magic in the world.
On future developments
Q: In the original Guild Wars we’ve already seen three of the five bloodstones, will we be able to find the other two and could you tell us some more about them?
Jeff Grubb: We are not revealing what has become of the Bloodstones yet, but they may have an influence in future expansions.
On Ebonhawke surviving the Foefire
Q: Why did only the inhabitants of Ebonhawke survive the Foefire, which has killed every other human in Ascalon and turned them into ghosts?
Jeff Grubb: Ebonhawke was not part of Ascalon at the point, though it was an outpost. It was beyond the effects of the spell.
On Tyria's Moon resembling Earth's Moon
Q: The texture of the moon in-game closely resembles the real world moon. Is Tyria supposed to be Earth? And if so, is the Guild Wars 2 universe based before or after our own time?
Bobby Stein: Any similarities to our moon are purely coincidental. Tyria is not Earth.
On the borders of modern Kryta
Q: In Guild Wars 1, Kryta extended not only further south, but further west than in the currently explorable areas. For instance, we had Loamhurst, which was just a little bit west of where the western border of Queensdale is now. Does modern Kryta continue to extend beyond the currently explorable regions towards the west and possibly to the north or is what we can currently explore all there is to Kryta nowadays?
Ree Soesbee: We had originally planned for it to go west, but we didn’t make those maps.
Jeff Grubb: Yeah, but we did not, and also looked further north as well.
(Ree Soesbee: Right above the lake.
Jeff Grubb: Right above the Divinity’s Reach area, which we did not see fruition on, because we were basically looking at what do we need for producing the game. So the answer is: Yes, Kryta is larger than just what you see there, but that’s the core. That’s the heart of Kryta, right there, in the game, and where the borders are exactly… western side of Brisban Wilderness?
Ree Soesbee: We roughly designed it but didn’t spell it out.
Jeff Grubb: Again, foundation for future development.
On Garrenhoff being part of Kryta
Q: Speaking of the somewhat soft borders, one of the edge cases is Garrenhoff, it’s in a region that is classified as being Kryta and has a human population, but there doesn’t seem to be much sign of it being Krytan…
Jeff Grubb: No Seraph there, no…
Ree Soesbee: It is technically Krytan, but it’s Krytan in the way that the very distant regions of a lot of countries – they don’t pay a lot of attention to Kryta, they don’t really have people there
Jeff Grubb: It’s also got that somewhat semi-independent city-state vibe to it.
Ree Soesbee: If you look at a map in Divinity’s Reach, it’d be marked as Kryta. Divinity’s Reach would mark it as Kryta.
Jeff Grubb: Yeah, Divinity’s Reach would mark it as part of the area, but I don’t think they’ve seen an official from Kryta there.
Ree Soesbee: There isn’t a Minister from Garrenhoff.
Jeff Grubb: No, it’s very much this secluded territory underneath the shadow of the great floating castle and its warmness, its kind wizard.
Ree Soesbee: And its awesome cliff jump.
On the Wizard's Towers of Garrenhoff and Ascalon
Q: Do the wizard towers in Kessex Hills and Ascalon have any relationship? What´s the story behind them and what happened to the Ascalonian one?
Jeff Grubb: I think the two towers are similar chiefly because of the chains. The idea of chaining down your tower makes sense for when you are dealing with particularly powerful powerful magics allows you to move the tower away from populated areas when you are experimenting with particularly powerful energies, and, of course, to move away once something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. The tower in Kessex Hills was in a nearby location in GW1 and was towed to the present location. The one from Ascalon in GW1 is missing and its fate is unrevealed.
On the significance of Deverol Gardens
Q: Is the Deverol Gardens arch in Lion’s Arch a clue about future marriages between players? Or is this place just here for the creativity of role-players?
Ree Soesbee: It was designed to give players a place to hold weddings or other important events. We’ve also got a wedding attire outfit in the gem store to further support such role-playing. Guild Wars 2 fans are big role-players, and we love to give them the tools they need to have big, important events!
On the secret rooms in Caudecus's Manor
Q: What is the story behind the secret rooms in Caudecus’ Manor and the faces therein?
Jeff Grubb: The rooms of madness were something that Josh [Josh Foreman] came up with for the Caduecus explorables, which we put into the map but did not implement in the game due to time. They remained on the map itself, but were not connected. Fans located the rooms by getting behind the architecture. There is currently no official story regarding the faces.
On the reason for the naming of Maguuma Wastes
Q: On the Ghosts of Ascalon map, the Maguuma Jungle seems to be called the Maguuma Wastes. Is it no longer called the Maguuma Jungle or is it just the top, dry portions seen in GW1 that are now called Maguuma Wastes?
Jeff Grubb: The northern parts of the Maguuma Jungle have dried out, creating the wastes (the southern regions, where the asura and sylvari have set up their nations, are considered part of the Tarnished Coast). This change has been attributed to the rise of the Elder Dragons, but that has not been confirmed, and there may be other nefarious agents at work.
On whether Prosperity will be rebuilt
Q: How are the survivors of Prosperity reacting to the destruction of their town? Is rebuilding in the cards at all, or are they just going to leave?
ArenaNet: The residents of Prosperity didn’t see the Mordrem coming until it was too late. Many of their people are dead and many buildings destroyed. So long as Mordremoth and the Mordrem remain a threat, it would be foolish of them to try to rebuild. Many have already skedaddled. Those who remain have personal reasons for doing so, like burying family members or an unwillingness to leave their homes.
On what the Mists are
Q: What can you tell us of the Mists that is not already explained in the Prophecies and Nightfall Manuscripts? Is it best to compare it to outer space in real life, or is it something vastly different, that you will continue to subtly develop in side quests with races like the asura?
Jeff Grubb: The Mists are the building blocks of reality, the proto-reality that exists between the worlds. It is where we find afterlifes and the homes of the various gods and other powerful entities. The Mists also resonate from the worlds around them, such that they form bits of their own reality – islands of existence that reflect the histories of their worlds.
In GW2, our PVP will take place in the Mists.
On the timeline and nature of the fractals
Q: Okay so, in a previous interview with TowerTalk there was a tease of a mention of about just when the Cliffside Fractal takes place, but we still don’t know much about the Underwater and Volcanic Fractals. In the former we see some sunken statues which look a bit Elonian but the surrounding ruins feel Ascalonian. Can you shed some light on when and where that takes place?
Scott McGough: Uh, not very much I’m afraid. I feel like I’m letting you down here. But yeah, the existing fractals are all scattered far and wide throughout Tyria’s history and pre-history. Some of these things are from the time of myth and legend and so we can’t exactly verify exactly how they happened or how they connect to the modern world. That one, uh… yeah, I’m afraid that’s just going to have to be my answer for now.
Jeff Grubb: One of the things with Fractals is because they’re in the Mists, they are echoes. They are not true history, they are basically the resonant history. So therefore you’re seeing a lot of combined feelings coming in sometimes. Maybe there is a place that had that Ascalonian Elonian crossover area. But just as easily, it may be the effect of the Mists.
Scott McGough: And, check me on this guys, the Mists as we define them – the Mists by definition: anything that can be there, or has been, can show up in the Mists. So we get some strange pairings sometimes. Sometimes, for examples, in the Urban fractal, it’s a recreation of the battle for Ascalon, but it’s not – it’s a recreation, not the actual – there’s no time travel involved, you’re not taking part in the actual battle.
Ree Soesbee: If it was just the actual battle, if it was just a very precise rendition of history, you couldn’t go fight there, you couldn’t do things there. The Mists very much are flexible because they’re like memories – you can go back in your own minds and sort of write someone into a memory where they weren’t there and what would have happened ‘if this person went to the movies with us.’ And the fractals are very simpler, the Mists are very simpler.
Jeff Grubb: It also makes it easier for the players who are of other races. No one’s saying ‘hey what’s an asura doing here’ or ‘what is this strange leafy creature.’ It opens the entire pasts for all of our races. Which is a cool thing and we basically use that as a sounding board and a starting place like our PvP Raid on the Capricorn, that’s a piece of history, there weren’t any norn there.
On the Uncategorized Fractal being potential future of Rata Sum
Scott McGough: We're not ready to reveal the whole truth about the Uncategorized Fractal yet, but I can tell you that it does not represent a potential future for Rata Sum. All of the other fractals represent discrete sections of the past, recreated. We have the ancient past, more recent past, and mythic/lost to history past, but there are no futures in there.
The similarities between the two maps cited is more a function of asuran architecture having common elements rather than a story-related easter egg. In other words, the maps look similar because they were designed and built by like-minded builders with similar design aesthetics, not because they represent the same place at different points in history.
On adding prominent ethnic and gay characters to the world
Q: Do you have plans, or would you consider, adding a prominent gay male couple to the world (not sectioned off into one sylvari personal story path), and additional prominent people of color (i.e. non-white human/norn) to the world?
Angel McCoy: Absolutely. But we’re not in any hurry to do it just to do it. We’ll do it when the story calls for it.
On characters that inspired the developers
Q: Which characters and their relationships inspired the developers the most?
Scott McGough: Every developer and designer has a different answer, but (tongue firmly in cheek here), if we had to pick one answer, it would be Hobo-Tron and Minstrel Marcello.
Bobby Stein: Lord Faren and himself.
On maintaining consistency of the Guild Wars universe
Q: What sort of internal structures do you have at work to maintain consistency of the universe in the long run [among so many designers and writers]? I know you have a big wiki for pure objective and logical consistency, but what about the spirit of the universe?
Bobby Stein: We use a combination of wikis, internal documentation, and interdisciplinary communication to both maintain and evolve the spirit of the Guild Wars universe. Every team that is building story content has an assigned narrative designer who drafts character dialog and plot, but also checks for continuity.
On focusing on characters over worldbuilding
Q: Why the focus on the characters instead of the world…
Bobby Stein: We’ve populated most of the explorable and city maps with lots of ambient characters, creatures, events, and secret areas. I don’t believe we’ve chosen one over the other, since we’ve put a lot of resources into building an immersive, interactive world that players are free to explore at their own pace.
Q: …And why the emphasis on providing a narrative of a character before we’re really given a chance to make our own assumptions and preferences about them?
Bobby Stein: For the Personal Story, we wanted to give players the opportunity to do a little roleplaying by letting them customize the look of their characters and pick their backstories, which affect certain chapters in their journey. This is a bit of a change from the original Guild Wars, but we felt it was an important evolution of the player experience.
On story creation process
Q: Could you explain to us the steps of the story creation process based on a well-known example? From the idea to the game—including the different people dealing with it. How were different teams involved in creating it?
Bobby Stein: Living World story creation has evolved considerably over the past year, as we’re always striving to create interesting character moments that resonate with our players. It all starts with a concept or plot outline involving our main characters. We pose a question that we want players to ask. Then we set out to answer that question through a combination of story beats, character moments, art set pieces, and gameplay. We discuss those ideas as a team, and narrow them down to a more focused story. From there, the teams are able to take that framework and build the content that you play every two weeks.
To show that evolution, I’ll use two different release groups. Flame & Frost started out as a series of teaser events that would lead up to the introduction of Rox and Braham, the retaking of Cragstead and the devourer hatchery, and the destruction of Molten Alliance weapons facilities. A relatively small team built that content over several months, with the members focusing on specific story and gameplay bits from concept to completion. We used open world events to draw players in, and then developed the story and characters mostly in story instances.
Contrast that with the Nightmare Tower releases, which had a larger cast of characters, bigger story instances and world zones, and action on a larger scale. Since we were using established characters, we were able to build some quieter moments to allow roleplayers a chance to get to know them a bit better, and we were able to put those out in the open world for increased visibility.
With each release, members of the various Living World teams earned valuable experience that they’d apply to their next projects. By the end of 2013, the writers and narrative designers were working more closely with gameplay designers, which led to greater synergy between disciplines and stronger stories as a result. You’ll see evidence of that in the remaining four releases of the Scarlet story.
On writing and spending time with characters
Q: Recently, characters seem a lot more fleshed out and entertaining. Is this due to a specific change in how you write or just learning from experience?
Bobby Stein: Thanks for the compliment! We actually haven’t changed too much about the writing itself, but we have put more resources into the presentation, which is probably what you’re noticing. We’ve learned a lot over time, and as a result we’ve evolved our story creation process. Our story meetings these days are a lot more involved and are very collaborative across disciplines. People on the teams are becoming very invested in these stories and characters. That makes a huge difference in the quality.
In the past, we generally didn’t build story instances where the player could interact with these characters, nor did we have the resources to build a lot of cinematics or special areas like Scarlet’s Lair. We even wrote (and voiced) a lot of character-building moments that unfortunately never made it into the game due to time constraints.
We examined player feedback over the course of 2013, and realized that we weren’t giving people enough opportunities to get to know our characters or understand the season plot. We were being a little too secretive and leaving too much to speculation. So starting with the Nightmare Tower releases we built more content specifically to impart story and develop our characters, and the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Because of that, we’ve more closely partnered with designers, artists, and audio folk to continue to improve the story and characterization.
I’m especially excited about the remaining episodes of this season. We’ve got a couple of surprises in store, so I hope you’ll join us for the season finale!
On bringing back short stories
Q: Where are the short stories? Bring them back.
Scott McGough: I will do my best. No promises, but I was also fond of the short stories we published in support of Living World Season 1 and 2 and would like to see more of them in the future (and for them to be included in game).
On the accessibility of raids
Q: I think the raid storytelling is some of the best group storytelling in the game. It beats the storytelling in dungeons by a mile, so I want all of the community to be able to experience it as well (as I’m sure Bobby does!). I hope that a story mode IS implemented at some point but if they don’t have the resources available to do that, I’d rather he still sticks to making raids have a compelling and interesting story that is relevant to the world of Tyria.
Bobby Stein: Certain player frustrations aren’t with the fact that there’s a story in raids (or that the story is “bad” or “poorly told” in their opinion) it’s just that the content is out of reach for them and they want to experience playing it somehow.
Since that’s not something I can personally change, I’m hesitant to engage in discussions surrounding that because I have nothing to add. I can’t/won’t/don’t want to convince anyone that their opinion is bad or invalid, but since many of these suggestions fall outside the scope of what I do (or what the vision for raids as a whole is) I can only listen.
On writings dungeon letters to player character from multiple sources
Q: Letters from multiple sources isn’t impossible, given that you did that with the letters from the Destiny's Edge member of your race in the Personal Story, and during Flame and Frost which was from DE [Destiny's Edge] of your race or Almorra if you were Vigil.
Bobby Stein: It was impossible from a budget standpoint. Having to write 5 letters per dungeon meant we’d have to write 40 letters total instead of 8. From a logistical standpoint it would have driven up costs for localization and editing. These mails were generated very late in the development process. Multiplying them would have resulted in the wordcount ballooning by 5 times.
On eventually resolving unfinished plot lines
Q: My only question is, if the near future will trim some of the “loose” storylines, that are mostlikely not being resolved in the next 1-2 years.
Scott McGough: Sorry, I’m a little unclear on the specific storylines you mean. I’m not playing dumb or trying to assert that there are no open-ended plotlines from GW1/GW2 that need resolution—it’s just that I’d have to guess which plots you mean. Which brings me to:
This is a great example of the type of question we’d love to answer, but really can’t. We do have plans to address some of the big questions/unresolved plots that players (and especially players on the forums) have been asking about, but to confirm or deny which ones (or even when) would directly or indirectly create a spoiler for the upcoming storylines. “Directly” as in we say an upcoming release definitely will feature <fill in the blank> plot; or “indirectly” by saying an upcoming release definitely won’t feature <fill in the blank> plot, so by the process of elimination, we make it clearer what the upcoming release will be about.
Add to that the mad skillz of our community’s theorycrafters, and we quickly find ourselves in a situation where the plot we’ve settled on (and dozens of people from various departments and disciplines are working on) gets thoroughly discussed, dissected, examined, and evaluated before it ever gets released, so that by the time it does get released, it’s old news and there are no surprises.
Firstly, regarding unresolved plot lines, I’m going to have to refer you to my answer above: while we’d love to get into the details of what stories and characters we are/are not going to explore in the near future, we can’t and won’t. Partly because it’s our company policy not to talk about future releases, and partly because doing so creates spoilers and undermines the impact of future stories no matter how carefully we phrase the answer.
So if I seem to have skipped your question, it’s probably because I can neither confirm nor deny anything about the topic you’ve raised.
Yes, we are aware that there are multiple unresolved plot threads in the Guild Wars universe, and it’s best for everyone if we stop adding to that list. The Narrative team is dedicated to resolving as many as we can while introducing as few new ones as we can; with the caveat that we will be doing those things organically, as part of the current story we’re telling.
To be categorized questions
Copypasted Q&A stuff goes below here until the responses are sorted under proper subheaders. ;)
Lore Q & A 2016
On mesmers and magic tricks
Scott McGough: A. Mesmers routinely cast convincing illusions, some of which have substance, so their magic is more than just tricking people’s minds. But they do have control over what people see or how they see it, so that things that aren’t really there seem to be, and things that are really there seem not to be—this control is limited by their power and experience in casting illusions.
Using the Tower of Nightmares as an example, there was mesmer magic concealing the huge tower so that anyone who happened by wouldn’t see it. The spell that concealed the tower was on the tower itself, rather than on all the people who might happen by.
As Angel and Yojimaru said, top-level mesmers may be able to exert genuine mind control, but if they can, they’re keeping it secret—if everyone knew, someone would work out a countermeasure. Apart from that, most mesmers use spells to create something like a post-hypnotic suggestion rather than turning a sentient being into their puppet. As such, they can get people to do small or seemingly unimportant things based in misdirection, but the larger or more obvious/contrary to their preference the thing a mesmer wants them to do is, the more likely the target will resist/their brains will say, “Hang on, why am I doing this again?”
B. Spellcasting is a strenuous discipline and magic is an unpredictable form of high-octane energy, so the kind of tiny, precise spell impacts you’re describing are beyond the skill of most spellcasters. It’s analogous to painting a wall with a can of spray paint vs. painting a photorealistic image of a duck on a postage stamp with a brush—casting a giant ice spike to crush somebody is a lot more accessible and doable than casting a spell that boils a tiny bit of the water in somebody’s brain, especially in a combat situation.
C. Not sure I fully understand the C question about magic being restricted to skills; there are definitely spells in the world that do not appear on a player’s skill bar. People channel and focus raw ambient magic via specific spells and skills, and also through devices and constructs, but unfocused magic can also produce strange and unpredictable effects spontaneously (such as in the Thaumanova reactor, where the disaster led to raw magic creating all sorts of strangeness without anyone directing it or focusing it).
D. Rata Sum politics is a complicated beast. The Inquest hold a seat on the Arcane Council, and that advocacy at the highest level of government buys them a lot more leeway than they’d have if they didn’t hold such a powerful position. Think of a parliamentary government with lots of different parties; there are often fringe parties that hold controversial, even dangerous views, but they have representation in the government and are part of the body politic, and therefore part of the political/social landscape. If they commit crimes, the local constabulary steps in to address it—this is what you’re seeing when Inquest and Peacemakers skirmish. The Inquest is allowed to operate, and as long as they aren’t openly committing crimes or atrocities, the Peacemakers let them be. There’s also the question of corruption and officials being rewarded or threatened to look the other way, but in general the Inquest is allowed to operate because they’re part of the rich tapestry of Rata Sum’s social and political structure.
The Inquest doesn’t like its members to leave, and they have taken extreme steps to punish or reclaim those who try. They’re especially tough on those who try to get out if those people have valuable or incriminating information the Inquest wants to keep to themselves. That said, it’s not an automatic death sentence/those who leave always have to spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders. To bring it back around to politics, if the person who wants to leave has leverage (i.e., “kill me and this box full of incriminating evidence goes to the Arcane Eye (or worse, a competitor’s krewe)”) and/or it’s not politically expedient to exact retribution at the moment (because the person in question has friends in high places, or the heat is on and the Arcane Council is currently watching the Inquest’s activities closely), the Inquest will bide its time and wait for an opportunity to act…and they’re very patient.
Follicle-wise, I’m afraid we’ll have to wait and see if asura can grow beards on their faces (or anywhere else).
On side NPC stories from the NPC’s POV
Scott McGough: This is a great idea and one that ArenaNet did in GW1 with the Bonus Mission Pack. Right now ANet resources are focused on telling the mainline story of the Elder Dragons and their impact on the world. Belinda’s story (for example) would be fun and illuminating, but tangential to the larger story we’re telling.
On loose plot threads from HoT and the origins of HoT elite specializations
Scott McGough: Still not at liberty to discuss future story developments, but: I understand you see missed opportunities in HoT that could have advanced or resolved some of the big outstanding questions surrounding the sylvari race. HoT’s story (both in story instances and the open world) was conceived and designed with a tight focus on the urgent, PC-led response to Mordremoth destroying the Pact fleet. For example, we initially had plans to include Malyck, but ultimately his plotline fell outside that focus.
This tight focus, along with the precedent of not having detailed backgrounds for every profession in the core game, was also a factor in the decision to not present background lore for the new elite specializations. The elite specs did not all originate in the jungle during the relatively small window of time covered in HoT; exploring their origins would have meant tangential story threads that took place outside the jungle and outside the timeline of the events in HoT.
On whether Shining Blade and White Mantle appear in GW2 and in what role
Q: Will the Shining Blade and White Mantle still be around in Guild Wars 2, and if so what role will they play?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: As might be surmised from recent web activity the White Mantle and the Shining Blade still have much going on in 'Guild Wars: Beyond', so I don’t want to harsh their mellow.
However, I don’t think I am giving anything away by pointing out that 250 years later , the Shining Blade are the personal guard of Queen Jennah of Kryta. The White Mantle, like the Mursaat, are a bogey-man used to scare small children (“Listen for the curfew bell, or else the White Mantle will get you.”).
On the Inquest being the evil asura faction
Q: So far, four of the five races have a faction within their race that are in opposition to the rest (Flame Legion, Sons of Svanir, Nightmare Court, White Mantle/senators that are against the queen), is there an 'evil' faction within the asura race as well?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: Yes. Yes, there is.
Oh, you want more? You know how the asura work in krewes? Well, one of them invented a corporation. They call themselves the Inquest. This is a major innovation, by the way. For all of the brilliance of the Asura, their biggest weakness is their own egotistic and selfish nature. They tend to hide their notes, write in code, keep secret bases, train only a few apprentices and even then keep their biggest secrets to themselves. So often the most brilliant inventions of the asura become lost enchantments and technology.
The new revolution brings a number of asuran researchers together under a common leadership with a common goal. The individual members of the group may not be aware of the greater goal, but those running the organization know what’s going on. The gathering (and just as important, storing) of knowledge allows members of this group to build upon the research of predecessors. Of course, being asura, they don’t want to share that knowledge and power with anyone else. The Inquest runs a very tight ship – once you’re a part of it, you aren’t going to be allowed to leave. They believe that everything you learn is proprietary knowledge, and they have the right to reach into your brain and take it out, if they so choose. Freed of even the tentative ethical limitations that keep the ordinary asura in line, the Inquest engage in research that even the maddest asura would shudder from. They are meddling in things that were not meant to be known.
The Inquest also have their own way of looking at the Eternal Alchemy; the unifying philosophy of the asura race. They believe that the universe is a great machine, and given enough power and knowledge, they can run that machine. They can control everything. And, being asura, they might just pull it off.
On the Scepter of Orr making a comeback in GW2
Q: Is the Scepter of Orr going to make a comeback in Guild Wars 2?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: It is unlikely that something as powerful as the Scepter of Orr will stay hidden forever. When we last see it, at the very end of Eye of the North, Livia is reaching for it. What happens next has yet to be revealed, but yes, she does command the power of the Scepter, for a time.
On the Black Citadel being a renamed Iron Citadel
Q: Originally, the Iron Legion was said to have their capital named the "Iron Citadel" but recently they have been said to have a capital named the "Black Citadel." Are the "Iron Citadel" and the "Black Citadel" the same, renamed, place?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: The Iron Citadel and the Black Citadel are one and the same. It is the headquarters of the Iron Legion, but the other legions have representation there as well. There are four great legions, each descended from the quarreling children of the last Khan-Ur, the ruler of all the charr. Each of the children commanded their own legion, and upon the death of the Khan-Ur, fell into squabbles (making it relatively easy for the humans to take and hold Ascalon). The four legions are Flame, Iron, Ash, and Blood.
Eventually, the Flame Legion, controlled by its shamans, dominated the other legions, and launched the attacks that resulted in the Searing. They captured a blasted, war-torn land, but their gods were destroyed and the shamans revealed as frauds. The other legions regained their power and drove the Flame Legion out – they refer to the Flame Legion as “the Gold Legion” because gold is soft, malleable, and weak. The Flame Legion’s lands were divided among the other legions, with the Iron Legion commanding the old human ruins of Rin, upon which they built their Black Citadel.
The Blood and Ash legions have their own major citadels, to the north and east, but the one closest to the other races is the Black Citadel of the Iron Legion. The Flame Legion is still active in this region as well, for they believe this land (and all charr lands) to be rightfully theirs.
On the meaning of facet in asura death
Q: In a recent interview with IncGamers, Ree stated that when an asura dies they "become no more than a facet in the Eternal Alchemy" - does the use of "facet" have any connection to the other seen facets? And what does this line mean?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: ‘Facet,’ in this case,is not to connected with the facets found in Glint’s Lair or in the “Paths of Redemption” quest. Those facets reflect a much older power.
Ree’s comment reflect the nature of the Eternal Alchemy. Living, or dead, we remain components of a greater whole. The system is effectively closed, and those things within it may transform or ascend, but still remains part of that larger alchemy – whether it be thought of a structure, a system, or an interlocked machine.
On what Spirits of the Wild are canon after changes since GW2 pre-beta
Q: In the aforementioned interview, Ree said that the list of norn spirits is incomplete - are the two spirits, Eagle and Snow Lynx, which were released in pre-beta lore and the manual respectively, still canon lore?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: The Spirits of the Wild that norn are in contact with are Wolf, Bear, Raven, and Snow Leopard. ‘Snow Leopard’ and ‘Snow Lynx’ are the same Spirit. There are others which have been lost (Eagle’s story is unknown) and a few that have been chased down and eaten by Jormag.
On the histories of norn and asura and if they get expanded upon
Q: What can be said about the history of the norn? And for that matter, the history of the asura? Will their histories before the events of Eye of the North be expanded upon in the future?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: Both races are integral to GW2, and players of both races will be able to delve into their racial history and discover a great deal about the past of both the asura and the norn.
For the norn, their great story is that of fighting Dragon (as Jormag is called by them). Great heroes went up against the beast, but to be defeated time and again, while the rimebound minions of the Elder Ice Dragon drove their peoples further and further south. Within Hoelbrak, the norn’s great stead in these warmer mountains, there is a single great tooth in its Great Hall. That is the legacy of Asgeir, the mightiest of warriors, who cut the fang from Jormag’s mouth and led the norn south to this safe haven.
The asura’s story with dragons is known to those who played Eye of the North – they were driven up from the deep places of the earth by Primordus’ lieutenant, the Great Destroyer. But they were not the only race driven to the surface. In their wake came a particularly irritating race of scavengers – the skritt. The asura have a particular dislike for these creatures, who seem intent on spreading to every corner of the world.
On what happened to the Ophil, Gokir and Agari hylek
Q: Among the frogman race, only the Hylek tribe have been mentioned to be around in GW2 - what has happened to the three other frogman tribes: the Ophil, Gokir, and Agari?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: The hylek name now refers to the entire race, though many hylek can claim descent from the other sub-species of hylek as well. There are innumerable tribes of hylek along the Tarnished Coast and along the Sea of Sorrows, living in grounds that they have captured from other, weaker races, or in lands ignored by more powerful ones.
On the origin of Moa'vu'Kaal and if it was a skale god
Q: In Nightfall, the Skale race was expanded a bit with their own god, Moa'vu'Kaal: are there more of these gods and is there an origin to this one?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: Moa’vu’Kaal is a great monster, venerated by the skale, but is not a god in human terms. Of course, the charr say that the human gods are nothing more than great monsters. Or great humans. Or possibly great lies.
The skale, by the way, are akin to seagulls – rapacious omnivores that feed on anything they can fit into their mouths (and a number of things that they cannot). They live at the edges of towns and cities, and survive by the fact that they breed in huge numbers.
On how much the grawl evolved between GW1 and GW2
Q: How much did the Grawl evolve in that 250 years (technology, architecture, religious and "political" system)?
Jeff Grubb & Ree Soesbee: Only a little. They are still below the other races in technology and are still organized on a tribal system. As far as faith is concerned, they are similar to the skale, in that they venerate powerful natural objects and great monsters, and vary from location to location.
Gmag Season 1 Interview
On how long karka and other aquatic races have existed
Q: During The Lost Shores, Zommoros hints at the age of the aquatic races mentioned (Hylek, Quaggan, and Largos) – calling at least one of them ancient; and he makes mention of knowing the karka from a time when the continents were a different shape. Furthermore Matthew Medina in a forum post around the time of the release stated that the karka had experienced dragon corruption before. Just how old are these five races and where any around during the previous Elder Dragon awakening?
Angel McCoy & Scott McGough: Zommoros was speaking in typically grand and poetic fashion when he called out that the karka have been around for a long time. Zommoros suggests players interview "the aquatics, those that swim and have swum since ancient times" to find out more about the karka, but that doesn't necessarily mean those races (hylek, quaggan, largos) are old enough to have experienced dragon corruption first-hand. There's ancient, and there's *ancient.*
As the karka aren't capable of speech, it's very difficult to accurately gauge how long they've existed, or if they have any Elder Dragon experience. Zommoros is powerful and wise, but he's not always a reliable source. Levvi and others will have to dig deeper into the karka's history before Tyria can declaratively state exactly how long they've been around.
On whether the karka hive tentacles are tied to Deep Sea Dragon
Q: In The Secret of Southsun and Last Stand at Southsun, some strange tentacles were added to the Karka Hive. On top of that, there was the Sclerite Backpack featuring similar tentacles. The only bit about the deep sea dragon is that it twists water into tentacle minions; are these tentacles tied to the deep sea dragon, or to the karka? Neither? Both?
Angel McCoy & Scott McGough: Short answer: neither. Long answer: only to the karka, and only kind of. The tentacles on the karka hive and the Sclerite Backpack are meant to be evocative of the effect Canach's Fervid Censer toxin had on the island's inhabitants, especially the karka.
On the origins of Aetherblades
Q: While most of the other members of Scarlet's alliances were known beforehand, the Aetherblades have been a completely new entity. Before Scarlet linked them with the inquest to give them stolen airship and lightning-based technology, just who were the Aetherblades? Were they a single pirate group under Mai Trin or some other leader even before Scarlet approached them? Were they recruited as individuals from the pirate and outlaw community in general, or formed through the amalgamation of several smaller bands? Or is their background something else, possibly even one that is a total mystery to the inhabitants of Tyria as well as us players looking in on the game world through our limited filter?
Angel McCoy & Scott McGough: The Aetherblades started out as a particularly greedy and bloodthirsty pirate crew in which Mai Trin held high rank; when Scarlet found them and presented them with Inquest magitech, they became far more dangerous and far more successful at the business of pirating. Officers like Mai kept the Aetherblades organized and active, and their ranks swelled as more and more unaffiliated pirates and pirate bands signed on, lured by the promise of easy money and power. Once they were in they found it problematic to get out again, as Scarlet had plenty of work for them to do and kept them hard at it or they'd face her wrath.
On why the Nightmare Court splinter group joined the Toxic Alliance
Q: It's never revealed - yet at least - why the Nightmare Court splinter group joined Scarlet; this is a bit weird since Scarlet has expressed distaste for both Dreamers and Courtiers, though it's clear she went to them for their knowledge in plant altering magic. But why did they agree to work with her?
Angel McCoy & Scott McGough: The splinter group of Nightmare Courtiers that worked with Scarlet did so to further the main objective of their organization: adding more Nightmare to the Dream. What a better opportunity to do so than to join with Scarlet and spread terror, destruction, and death?
On why Scarlet disliked humans
Q: In The Nightmare Ends instance prior to the fall of the Tower of Nightmares, we find a note indicating that Scarlet has a particular dislike for humans for "getting in the way". Is this simply referring to the Shining Blade preventing her from nabbing Jennah during the Jubilee, or is there something deeper there?
Angel McCoy & Scott McGough: This line is an expression of Scarlet's superiority complex and her habit of treating anyone that isn't part of her plan as an annoyance. She also has a long-standing disdain for humans, who collectively (in her view) have not made the kind of magi-mechanical advances the asura or charr have (evidenced by the fact that as Ceara, she never studied or sought to study with human engineers before she became Scarlet).
That said, yes, it's also in part due to the Shining Blade interfering with her plan to take Jennah hostage (and winding up with Lord Faren instead).
On the Toxic Hybrid and its last words
Q: What, exactly, is the Toxic Hybrid? Also on the Toxic Hybrid – during the fight, the Hybrid says “No! I cannot be the last of my kind” and yet by all appearances, it is the first. What exactly did he mean?
Angel McCoy & Scott McGough: The Toxic Hybrid started out as a regular krait that was transformed while inside the tower. It thought it was being transformed into a Prophet. Perhaps it was. Perhaps it wasn't. We may never know, but the krait believed it was. Not only did players stop them from creating any more of these monsters, but they killed the one that had been made.
The Toxic Hybrid spoke those words because it is the first and last of its kind. It's expressing shock and dismay as it dies, as it expected to be the first of many such monsters to emerge from the tower.
On the reason for Scarlet's invasions
Q: What was the point of Scarlet’s many invasions? Just general chaos, or something more? They weren't even touched upon as of late.
Angel McCoy & Scott McGough: Scarlet's invasions were a series of tactical plays, each leading toward the eventual assault on Lion's Arch. She tested her armies and devices, confiscated materials, and built fear in the hearts of Tyrians. In her grand finale, she invaded Lion's Arch in order to gain unhindered access to the ley lines beneath the city, so that she could poke the dragons with it. The repercussions of her actions have not yet fully played out.
On the fates of Mai Trin and other lieutenants of Scarlet
Q: We don't seem to see Mai Trin in the invasion of Lion's Arch. Nor do we ever see any named leader of Scarlet’s other alliances. Where were they during this time?
Angel McCoy & Scott McGough: Mai Trin remained in the Edge of the Mists map, mustering, staging, and sending out Aetherblades for the big attack on Lion's Arch. It remains to be seen if she will stay there now that Scarlet's out of the picture.
Leaders of the other alliances were in similar situations, and tasked with making sure their followers showed up to crush Lion's Arch in overwhelming numbers. The only reason people know Mai Trin's name is because she got caught. None of the other leaders have been caught, and thus, they remain a mystery.
On the population of Nightmare Court
Q: Can you tell us anything about new about the Nightmare Court? Like how many of the sylvari have joined (population percentage, maybe)? Can players choose to be a part of it, or are there any related titles? Who started or leads it?
Ree Soesbee: The Nightmare Court is going to have a lot of coverage in my blog post for Sylvari Week, so I don’t want to spoil too much of that! I can answer your direct questions, though. The population of the Nightmare Court is roughly ten to fifteen percent of the sylvari. As with all enemy groups (the Sons of Svanir, the Flame Legion), players may not join the Nightmare Court. The Nightmare Court began during the time of the Secondborn sylvari (the second generation of sylvari born from the tree, about six or seven years after the Firstborn). The Nightmare Court’s current leader is the Grand Duchess Faolain, who is a Firstborn. She converted to the Nightmare Court and was not part of its original inception.
On whether the sylvari awakening was a response to the Elder Dragon threat
Q: Was the sylvari’s birth into the world a response to the threat of the dragons like they believe? Or something else?
Ree Soesbee: The sylvari believe they were created by the Tree because of the dragons. I can’t tell you anything they don’t know!
On how other races first reacted to sylvari
Q: When they were first born into the world, how did the other races initially react? Were they generally welcomed or did they have some sort of proving of themselves they had to do? Was there anybody there when the first group awoke?
Ree Soesbee: There were no other races at the Pale Tree when the Firstborn awoke. They began to explore the world, and first found the asura, who saw the sylvari as a particularly new species of flora—test subjects, at best. After that particularly rude awakening into the social environment of Tyria, the sylvari were far more cautious. Luckily, the second race they met were humans. The sylvari already knew of them because the Pale Tree held the memories of Ronan and his encampment so many years ago. That was a far more positive encounter, and taught the sylvari that there are good people in the world as well as bad.
The sylvari did have to prove themselves – they still do! It’s only been twenty-five years, and many of the other races don’t wholly accept them. The sylvari struggle to discover their place in the world, and to forge those relationships. They are very much the ‘outsiders’ in Tyria, and they face a world that is unsure about their nature and their capabilities as a race. It’s a fascinating story to tell!
On sylvar familial system
Q: Are there any sort of familial systems for this race? Are newborn sylvari taken under the wing of older, more experienced sylvari or do they go off on their own right away?
Ree Soesbee: The Firstborn are seen as ‘elders,’ wise counselors and mentors. Four of the Firstborn lead the various cycles, the internal factions of the sylvari (Dawn, Noon, Dusk, Night). Those four, in particular, are seen as authority figures, and run the government of the Grove. The other Firstborn are also seen as guides and leaders, and are given a great deal of respect because of it, but these four ‘elders’ actively turn their attention to the day-to-day running of the city and the political interaction with other races on behalf of the sylvari.
The sylvari don’t have ‘family’ in the way that humans, norn, or other races do, but they very much consider their cycle to be sort of an extended family; a group in which they are welcome and to which they owe a certain allegiance. They see this as a sort of family in the way a charr sees their Legion as a sort of family.
One unusual thing that you might not know – there are sylvari twins on occasion! Once in a while, a pod will flower upon the Pale Tree, and there will be two sylvari inside instead of just one. These ‘twins’ tend to exhibit a greater empathy toward one another, and are usually very close. The visions they experienced before awakening also usually seem linked, as if they were walking through the Dream of Dreams together.
On whether sylvari need to eat
Q: We know from the novels that they can eat food like the other races, but do they need to? Can they get energy by other means, like from the sun?
Ree Soesbee: They need to eat and drink. Sylvari biology is very different from humans (and they can rest in the sun to feel rejuvenated), but they do have the same functional needs as most mammalian species.
On sylvari humor and sense of fun
Q: Being new to Tyria, they don’t seem to have the same sense of humor we’re accustomed to. What sorts of things do sylvari do for fun? What would they find humorous or entertaining?
Ree Soesbee: Sylvari sense of humor has come a long way since the Firstborn awakened. At first, they didn’t understand humor too well, but over the years, the race has begun to show a sense of fun. They have a fairly dry wit, and enjoy letting others ‘get the joke’ after a moment or two. Some of them are mischievous and pull pranks – especially when they are newly born from the Tree.
For fun, sylvari do the things other people do – go swimming, explore new places, try new things, spend time with friends, tell stories, put on plays, and sing songs. An individual sylvari might enjoy fighting so much that she thinks weapons training is ‘fun,’ while another might currently have an obsession with cooking.
On the significance of sylvari seasonal cycles
Q: What significance do the seasonal traits hold, if any? Does it affect their personality at all, or is it purely aesthetic?
Ree Soesbee: The cycles affect sylvari personality, but you could also say that human social strata (gentry, streets, commoner) affects personality. I go into a great amount of detail on this in my blog post, so I can’t be too descriptive here without being redundant! There are aesthetics for various ‘seasonal’ appearances, and we encourage players to choose appearances related to their cycles, but the two are not forcibly connected.
On the sylvari redesign
Q: What was the motivation behind the re-design? Was it because of player reactions or were you guys not happy with how the first iteration turned out?
Kristen Perry: The sylvari race always needed to be noble, beautiful plant people. Previous designs took into account many different proportions of those three tenets, but not really as much of a balance of all three together. The more diverse and deep the lore of the race became, the more we realized we really wanted a visual that matched, so I began developing my new direction on my own time while we were preparing for gamescom last year.
The main key to the design was developing an obvious anatomy that clearly described the race as plant rather than an offshoot of human. However, because the race tightly relates to the essence of human due to the Pale Tree’s influences from Ronan, the overall form has a human silhouette. But if you look more closely, you’ll see the forms are really quite alien. They are a collection of abstract notions the Pale Tree had about what made up the human, as she really only saw the surface. They are a tree’s interpretation of humans.
In exploring the anatomy, you can see a lot of different details. The forearms, for example, are not a human arm with leaves tacked on top, but rather a shape created by many stem tendons and long leaves coiling around one another to create the structure. The faces of the sylvari are not restricted by the anatomy of the skull as a human would, but are created by layers upon layers of plant materials that press together, forming the illusion of anatomy. On the outside, they are beautiful and elegant. Looking closer, you’ll see how different they really are. I hope everyone enjoys exploring the details!
On why Zhaitan awoke
Q: When Zhaitan awoke, was it because someone/something woke him or did he just naturally awaken (aka: cycle of awakening)?
Ree Soesbee: There are no apparent signs that anyone or anything ‘woke up’ Zhaitan, nor do scholars of Tyria believe that it, or any of the awakenings, was a triggered event. For one thing, the dragons’ awakening began 250 years ago and has slowly and methodically continued since then. It would be very difficult for anyone to have been around to trigger each over that large a period of time.
On whether all dwarves turned to stone
Q: It is said all dwarves who participated in invoking the Great Dwarf’s power to battle the Great Destroyer were turned to stone. Are there dwarves then who are not stone out in the world somewhere still (assuming then there were some dwarves who did not participate)? If so, how are interactions between them and their stone brethren?
Ree Soesbee: All of the dwarves eventually participated in the ritual. There are no non-stone dwarves in Tyria.
Espirits d'Orr Questions to Angel
Q: How should we consider the cast of a spell according to the lore (and not from gameplay perspective) : Is it an incantation? Does it necessarily require a weapon to cast it? How is energy managed compared to GW1? Does casting a spell consume magical energy, or is it possible to cast as much as you want without any tiredness or decrease in effectiveness?
Angel McCoy: Magic is the lifeblood of Tyria. The entire world is infused with it, and it flows through everything via ley lines that criss-cross the planet. The natural role of the dragons is to keep this magic balanced. From time to time, in the long history of the world, the dragons have awoken and begun to draw the world’s magic into themselves, reducing the level of magic flowing through the ley lines.
When the dragons have consumed enough and thus reduced the world to a low level of magic, they go back to sleep. From then on, the magic leaks from them, back into the world at a reasonable rate. Eventually, it builds up in the world again, and the dragons awaken again to tip the teeter-totter back in the other direction.
The citizens of Tyria have ready access to this flow of magic from a very young age. They are, after all, as much a natural part of the world as are the dragons. There are as many individual ways to tap into that magic as there are people in Tyria. Some follow the methods taught to them by mentors or teachers. Others devise their own special style and relationship with magic. Some use items to enhance or channel their powers, such as the Zephyrites who use their crystals to access the Aspects.
An individual’s level of experience and knowledge affects how effectively she utilizes the magic available to them. For the most part, she can channel magic without fatigue or risk to her health. However, if a person were to stretch too far, say by using an item she’s unfamiliar with or attempting a spell more powerful than what she’s used to, then that person is taking a risk. An uncontrolled spell can do terrible damage. For this reason, most intelligent magic-users stretch carefully into spells and magical items they don’t understand.
This is part of what makes Tyria such an interesting, dangerous, and diverse world.
On whether classes can use cross-class spell mechanics
Q: For gameplay considerations, each class can cast only a specific type of magic. However, in terms of roleplay, would it be possible for wizards to have a wider magical knowledge or potential, and therefore be able to cast spells from a variety of branches (such as an elementalist fireball coupled with a mesmer illusion) ?
Angel McCoy: I love that idea, as do many people living in Tyria. The reality, however, is that only the most powerful have the time and energy to do this. It’s like getting two doctorate degrees, one in medicine and one in engineering. Few have the time to do this, and usually, an individual doesn’t want to turn her back on everything she’s already learned to start a new magical discipline. She’d much rather continue advancing her knowledge in the discipline she’s invested decades in. Some, however, may dabble and experiment with specific spells. If a master elementalist can find a mesmer to teach her to produce an illusion, then she may explore ways to combine them. Most professions keep their secrets close to their chests though. And, the danger of a conflict between magical energies and thus, an explosion, is very real.
On whether the four schools of magic exist in modern Tyria
Q: We heard that a link exists between the ancient times' four schools of magic (Preservation, Destruction, Denial, and Aggression) and the classes of the game. However, we haven't found any reference in game about these schools. Do they still exist, are they known to the races, and if so, to which kind of current magic are each of them related to ?
Angel McCoy: These schools aren’t as important in modern magic as they were even 250 years ago. They have fallen out of style as people have realized that magic doesn’t need these kinds of limiting factors. Only the most ancient magic users, those who based their magical constructs on this dogma, continue to pursue their knowledge in this way. Thus, you’re only likely to find reference to them in the back-most shelves at the Durmand Priory and in jokes made by young people about old people.
On learning magic
Q: How do you learn magic in the GW2 universe? More specifically, beyond Asura universities, how is it taught in each racial society?
Angel McCoy: Humans and norn learn their first spells in the home, under the tutelage of their parents. Charr learn in the fahrar, and sylvari awaken with some knowledge and learn the rest via experience. It’s not uncommon for a toddler to begin showing signs of magical talent by creating illusions to entertain herself, putting up a crude barrier between itself and something threatening it, or producing water when thirsty. The early manifestation of magical abilities appears to be a survival mechanism.
Fortunately, the more dangerous abilities don’t manifest until the child is older. Nevertheless, in a world where magic is so common, accidents do happen.
On whether magic is hereditary
Q: Magic is a birth gift, but is it hereditary? Without this gift, is it still possible to cast spells using other methods?
Angel McCoy: All creatures in Tyria have a natural ability to access and use magic. It is EXTREMELY rare that a person is born who does not have access to magic, and current theory implies this happens only when magic is at its lowest point in the world—after the dragons have been awake and consuming it for some time.
A person’s profession, however, may be hereditary, more nurture than nature. Just as a young person may want to grow up to be a Seraph like Mama, so a young Tyrian may want to grow up to be a Mesmer like Papa. The opposite could happen as well, especially if the young person is rebellious.
On the connection between Shadow Arts and magic
Q: Do Shadow Arts have anything to do with magic, or should they be considered as advanced fighting techniques?
Angel McCoy: Those who practice the shadow arts (such as thieves) utilize a combination of physical prowess and magic. Their magic enhances their stealth and other skills, but they have also worked hard to get good at the arts. Just as a guardian has a deep understanding of combat strategy and can read a battlefield in the blink of an eye, a thief can read the landscape of rooftops and find just the right place to step. Magic, for any profession, is nothing without the knowledge, diligence, and alertness that any user brings to it.
On illusion visibility to others
Q: Are the illusions created by mesmers visible to anybody or only to the caster and the spell target ?
Angel McCoy: This depends. Casting an illusion that can only be seen by one person is an extremely advanced skill as it requires getting directly into an individual’s mind. Only the most skilled of mesmers can do this, and mesmers don’t talk about this ability. If people were to find out that mesmers could do this, it would prejudice people against mesmers and damage the trust and love mesmers work so hard to inspire in others.
No documentation of this ability exists outside the Mesmer community because the targets of this kind of spell don’t realize they’ve been duped. No one else can corroborate their experience either, so…it’s often explained away as battle fatigue. Even within the mesmer community, knowledge of this kind of spell is “need to know” only, which means only the most elder and experienced are initiated into the circle.
On waypoints and their function
Q: Should waypoints be considered from a roleplay perspective? If so, how do they function?
Angel McCoy: Absolutely! Waypoints are asuran devices, and all the money you spend to use them goes straight into the coffers at Rata Sum. The asura have been developing these magi-matter-transportive devices for centuries and have seeded them across the world. They’re often contested if creatures or bad guys disrupt the traffic coming through them, but the asura work hard to maintain this money-making web of mini-gates. The fee, in case you wondered, is automatically separated from your person and transported directly into a guarded room in Rata Sum. The coins drop in and pile up there, and workers put them in carts and carry them to the vaults.
On the technological gap between asura and bookahs
Q: Is there an explanation for the technological gap between Asuras and other races ?
Angel McCoy: Before Primordius’s devourers drove the asura from their underground world, they were already inclined toward engineering and magical innovation. What really turned the tide for them, however, was when they were forced to the surface. Plunged into a world that was no longer safe, a world that differed greatly from their home, they had to learn to survive.
This exaggerated some of their existing attributes: focus, determination, ambition, and competitiveness. Over the past 250 years, the asura have never quite gotten over the feeling that they have to keep striving in order to not only survive, but thrive in this open-air environment. The dragons have further detracted from their sense of security. Their response has been to work harder, to experiment, and to single-mindedly strive to find ways to protect themselves. This isn’t a conscious motivation for all asura, but it certainly is a subconscious element of their society.
The other races haven’t experienced the same kind of complete disruption to their worlds. Humans come the closest, perhaps, but they are still so deeply entrenched in defending their homelands and trying not to become extinct that they haven’t had as much time to dedicate themselves to research and innovation. Humans aren’t necessarily wired that way either. They’re just not as single-minded as asura. They’re more social. The asura, of course, would say that humans are more childlike, less mature as a society. And, perhaps, there’s something to that.
On the state of god worship after GW1
Q: Are the Gods still worshipped with the same intensity as in GW1?
Angel McCoy: They are not. When the gods withdrew, many humans saw it as a betrayal, as if the gods were abandoning them to the dragons. More than a few humans turned away from their worship as a result. There are those at the other extreme as well, those who think that all they need to do is worship harder to entice the gods to return.
The grand majority of the human population falls somewhere between these two extremes. Only the most ancient of humans (who have magical longevity) have lived more than 250 years and have seen a god or avatar face-to-face. 99% of the population has not. Thus, the “fact” that gods once walked among humans is quickly taking on the characteristics of myth. Some even disbelieve that it actually happened and blame reports of such incidences on mass hallucination or wine.
On the realignment of the Mouvelian Calendar
Q: The Mouvelian calendar has 360 days. How does it match with our 365 days calendar? When does the Tyrian year begin?
Angel McCoy: The connection between the Mouvelian calendar and our real-world calendar is a practical one. Thanks to your question, we had a big discussion here. The Mouvelian calendar was established way back when Guild Wars was first being created. At that time, we had no idea we’d ever be doing Living World content like we are now. We’ve decided that we’re going to change the Mouvelian calendar to a 365-day year. Here’s the official in-game asuran announcement:
“Friends and fellows. Due to recent (amazing!) reasoning by scholars of the Astronomagical Society, we are pleased to announce that we have added the five hidden days to our calendar year! That’s five extra days we’ve recognized for you to advance your work before the annual review. Gifts and gratitude are unnecessary. We merely acknowledged them officially; we did not create them. May all your projects be almost as successful as ours.” — Mikk
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Dolyak Express Feb 10, 2014, Old Guild Wars 2 Official Forum (Archived)
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Lore Interview with Jeff Grubb, Ree Soesbee and Scott McGough in GuildMag Issue 9, GuildMag.com
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Living Story Lore Interview, November 2014 (with Angel McCoy, Bobby Stein, Leah Hoyer, and Scott McGough), GuildMag.com
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Lore Q&A, Old Guild Wars 2 Official Forum (Archived)
- ^ a b c d e f g h Lore Interview with Jeff Grubb in GuildMag Issue 5, GuildMag.com
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o 2RP's Lore Interview with ArenaNet, GuildWars2Roleplayers.com
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Dolyak Express January 10, 2014, Old Guild Wars 2 Official Forum (Archived)
- ^ a b c d e f g Lore Interview with Ree Soesbee, March 24, 2016, GuildWars2.com (English translation from the French source at GW2Shop.net)
- ^ a b c Cutthroat Politics Q&A with Ree Soesbee, GuildWars2.com
- ^ Sya the transgender character, Old Guild Wars 2 Official Forum (Archived)
- ^ Post by Scott McGough in "Revenants and their invocations", Guild Wars 2 Forums
- ^ Post by Scott McGough in "The Uncategorized Fractal is Rata Sum", Old Guild Wars 2 Forums (Archived)
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Guild Wars 2 Lore Q & A, GuildWars2Guru.com (Archived)
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Season One Lore Interview, GuildMag.com
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sylvari Lore Interview with Ree Soesbee & Kristen Perry, TalkTyria.net
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l [VO] Questions to Angel Leigh McCoy, Espirits d'Orr (Archived)