Ghosts of Ascalon Follow-Up Interview

ArenaNet more than graciously gave Kill Ten Rats a chunk of Jeff Grubb’s very busy time to ask five follow-up questions stemming from Ghosts of Ascalon.  Who better to ask than one of the co-authors  of Ghosts of Ascalon himself? Read on to hear about hints at the developer’s cut of the shadow show, more on the Deep Sea Dragon, and most importantly, thoughts on perspective.

Ghosts of Ascalon brings a lot of perspective to the Guild Wars world.  How do you keep all the lore bits straight for each separate group, like the different racial accounts of the Foefire?

We (the designers and writers) know what happened as far as the raw facts of the matter, and we keep an updated lore database in case any one of us steps in front of a bus.  Matt [Forbeck] strained those facts through the racial viewpoints of both human and charr, based upon what information they would have (i.e., as survivors) and their own prejudices. The end result creates more of a feeling of real world, and for the inhabitants of the world there are different flavors of truth, depending on who you are and what you are doing.

When the shadow show in Divinity’s Reach recounted the charr’s invasion, why did it skip over the assault on Kryta, which was ultimately repelled by the Mursaat and White Mantle?

The shadow show was longer in earlier drafts, including scenes from Cantha and Elona. I brought it down to its current state both for length and to send the underlying message that “Bad things happen elsewhere, but here in Divinity’s Reach you are safe under your Queen.” Yep, it’s a bit of propaganda, and the fact that Kryta itself has its own rocky history (can anyone say “civil war?”) is casually glossed over.  It underscores one of the themes of the book – different people tell different tales for different reasons.

Similarly, it appears that the true story in Guild Wars was not known or important to the characters in Ghosts of Ascalon, such as the audience with Glint (whose lair seems to be at the end of the Dragonbrand) or the destruction of the titans by humans. Is this the case, or is it just a matter of perspective?

It depends on the situation. The audience with Glint is a personal experience for the heroes – those who remember it probably would do so from family histories as opposed to racial epics. In the case of the titans, the charr put much more weight on the fact that THEY no longer believe in gods than on the fact that HUMANS killed their pretender-gods – you see that in Pyre’s statements in Eye of the North.

From the Movement of the World, Decimus writes of five Elder Dragons, one of which the community has named the Deep Sea Dragon. However, that dragon is not mentioned at all in the Ghosts of Ascalon timeline or text, save for Dougal’s hint about there might be more of “them.”  Can you tell us about this enigmatic fifth Elder Dragon?

 The DSD (Deep Sea Dragon) is a fave on the boards primarily because we’ve been so quiet about it. Part of the reason for our reticence is that it does not yet have as much direct impact on our five primary races. I mean, you have four impossibly huge and deadly dragons to start with, and you want a fifth? Oooookay.

In Tyria itself, the volume known as the Movement of the World by Decimus does exist, but it’s not for sale in the bookcarts that line the Kormir High Road in Divinity’s Reach. It belongs to the Durmand Priory, and is continually being challenged and researched and revised by the scholars there. Dougal has read the Movement (or one of its derivative works) and that is why he has problems with their book-lending policies.

Some Elder Dragons we know a good deal about in the game, while others we don’t. The supposed existence of a DSD gives us a “here be monsters” feel for the open ocean, and for the moment, that’s OK.

In the book, spellcasters seem to have specific names according to the magic they cast, such as Killeen the necromancer or the off-handedly mentioned mesmer.  Why didn’t the melee-focused characters in Ghosts of Ascalon seem to have such specific profession titles?

In Tyria, when a spellcaster uses a particular spell, it is pretty easy to determine what kind of magic they are using, so to make an in-world statement that someone is a necromancer or an elementalist is a safe bet (Fire spells? Elementalist!). Someone with a sword or bow could be a warrior or a ranger or something else altogether, so the easy tagging you see with spellcasters breaks down. In early drafts, we had a lot of use of “warrior” when we meant “hero” or “adventurer,” so we cleaned that up to reduce confusion.

Thanks for your time, Jeff!

Thanks for the questions, Ravious!

4 thoughts on “Ghosts of Ascalon Follow-Up Interview”

  1. I really liked not using profession titles especially for adventurers. I appreciate the extra time to describe someone without using game specific termonology. It makes it more of a standalone story and not a spinoff story.

    I always get annoyed by that in Forgotten Realms books, and liked how Ed Greenwood would avoid using words like “cleric” etc. Using those titles breaks the fourth wall/immersion etc and pulls me out of the story. I noticed when the book said “elementalist” since, barely having played GW I didn’t know what that meant. Necromancer wasn’t so bad since it’s not really game specific and is more of a generic word.

    Anyway the book was awesome and I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for more.

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