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2RP's Lore Interview with ArenaNet!

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ArenaNet Lore Interview.png
Thank you Elian for the header.

Hello Tyria!

Just in time for Wintersday, I have a very special gift from myself and the ArenaNet lore team. As you can guess by the header, I have a lore interview. Now, I've spent multiple weeks chatting back and forth with Stéphane Lo Presti -- the Guild Wars French Community Manager -- who has been an amazing person to work with. Not only was he incredibly kind, but he was informative and on the ball with updates and responses. So I'm giving a huge shout out to him for being so patient and delivering information back and forth between myself and the lore team.

This interview has three sections, five questions in each section, with a total of fifteen questions. I want to thank Scott McGough and Angel McCoy for taking the time out of their developments, not only reading and looking over my interview, but actually responding with meaty answers. So thank you, to the both of you, for reading, and responding thoroughly. Everyone greatly appreciates your time.

I went into this with butterflies in my stomach, but seeing the final results has really made my Wintersday, and I hope it makes yours too! So without further wait, I provide to you, the lore interview!




Sylvari : The Soundless & The Nightmare

When we were first introduced to sylvari in game, people recognized the three main philosophies to sylvari life. First, we have dreamers. Secondly, we have soundless. Lastly, we have nightmare. With the recent Living Story updates, there's a great amount of people who are more interested in sylvari. In particular, people are curious about Soundlessness, Nightmare, and how everything comes together.

Question One: 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.

Question Two: 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.

Question Three: 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.

Question Four: 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.

Question Five: 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.


Asura : Technology & The Arcane Eye

The next we have are asura. We know they’re quite technologically advanced and we know that they're the embodiment of genius. Yet, we don't know why!

Question One: 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.

Question Two: 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.

In asuran society, we know of the Arcane Eye. They’re briefly described as a secret service organization that works directly for the Council.

Question Three: 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.

Question Four: 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.

Question Five: 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.


Magic & The Bloodstones

Recently, Angel McCoy's interviews brought some interesting thoughts to magic, bloodstones, and how they affect Tyria.

Back before humans were granted magic, ritualists were believed to use something similar to (but not) magic.

Question One: 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.

Question Two: 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.

Question Three: 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.

Question Four: 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).

Question Five: 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.




A Huge Thank You!

I want to give one last shout out to Angel McCoy, Scott McGough, and Stéphane Lo Presti. You were all wonderful and easy to work with. The material you have provided will be amazing for discussions. I want to thank those who take the time to read, discuss, and comment on this interview! Admittedly, it's my first one. So, I'm quite thrilled with how it turned out. For now, that's all from me. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

~Mint, 2RP Journalist, xo.
Home Page Link
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Aurora Amara Enaeve Nighlla Serenity
ooc shh
Posted Dec 12, 13 · OP · Last edited Mar 29, 14
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Glad to see stuff about the Arcane Eye confirmed!
Posted Dec 12, 13
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Totally rad, Mint!
Posted Dec 12, 13
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All of my likes. So many questions answered... So many more I want to ask.
Posted Dec 12, 13
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Stéphane is a guy, though.
Will read this later.
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Posted Dec 12, 13
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I've updated some grammar issues (like changing certain asura to asuran), because despite reading this multiple times, they escaped my eye. I also added a home page link to the article.
{All tumblr links are potentially nsfw}
Aurora Amara Enaeve Nighlla Serenity
ooc shh
Posted Dec 12, 13 · OP
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D'aww, no questions about politics or Norn things >.> Maybe next time :d
Posted Dec 12, 13
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Thank you, Minty, for this outstanding reference! <3
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Posted Dec 12, 13
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As for a proper response this time;

I love the clarifications they give, and the parts about magic and foci is -great-.
I was doing it "right" all along. Feels good.

And of course, thank you for getting an interview :d
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Got to agree that this is amazing. The parts on sylvari certainly mirror how most have been playing, but it's good to have confirmation from the devs. It's also nice to know that there's no such thing as in instant courtier test, as that's one thing I have seen in RP before.
~Zagzag.7901~ Piken Square
Posted Dec 12, 13
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