[GW2] One Unique Snowflake

At the beginning of charr week, there was one interview at Now Gamer that asked broader questions including one that touched upon one I’ve had for awhile. What are race and profession conventions?

Unlike other some other MMOs, all races in Guild Wars 2 will be allowed to play all professions. Therefore, a height-challenged asura could become an aggressive warrior or a hulking norn could become a sneaky thief. My first lore-based thought came with the release of the guardian. The guardian professions had mechanical ancestry with the Guild Wars monks. Monks drew their power from the human gods. Where did the guardians draw their power from, especially the godless charr (and quasi-scientific asura)?

A lot of the Guild Wars deep lore questions are unanswerable. Or rather, there are misty shapes that can be connected together to create a multitude of finished composites. Think of Guild Wars lore as a type of Rorscach experiment, only ArenaNet can later modify the ink blots with new facts. Playing this lore game I could say that guardians draw upon an inherent power present in all races, and the charr guardians were one of the few charr that stopped to reflect on the need to protect. They redirect their inner virtues to channel aggression in to mettle, bloodthirst into a grim acceptance, and ruthlessness into an unrelenting resolve.

Surprisingly, ArenaNet said “there are professions that are against type for that race, so you won’t ever see a Charr guardian as an NPC.” This confused me full stop. When I talked to Jeff Grubb at PAX East, all his lore answers seemed to be pointing back to an ideology not to paint themselves in a corner. Yet, that’s exactly what I felt was happening when they said no charr guardian NPCs.

I wanted to resolve this with ArenaNet before I posted, and Regina Buenaobra graciously snagged Jon Peters and Jeff Grubb  to make sure to clarify their position. Grubb said “the charr do not by their nature reward more defensive or protective individuals, so NPC guardians are few and far between.” Peters echoed that it would have to be a pretty special charr to be a guardian. Still, Grubb emphasized that they were not absolute on no charr guardians (or I suspect other race/profession dichotomies), and that if they needed one to make a better game experience, they would not hesitate to add one. Buenaobra concluded that lore-wise charr guardians would simply be less trusted by other charr due to the magical nature of the profession. At this time there are no charr guardian NPCs.

ArenaNet is side-stepping lore conventions to make way for mechanical conventions. I fully agree that no restrictions on professions  for player character creation is the best way. Even World of Warcraft has been eroding it’s race-class restrictions with each passing expansion. At the end of the day, it’s better to give players the freedom, and like I said, it’s easy enough to give a personal reasoning for those unique characters. Still, it would be interesting to see, for immersion sake, ArenaNet’s take on professions that are against type for that race. What story would a charr guardian NPC tell? Twist it up by making her a gladium with no one to protect, and that could be a really cool event. Or perhaps the personal story already takes in to account the player’s choice to go truly against the lore grain. I honestly felt that a sylvari necromancer in the novels was ArenaNet portraying a rarity, but I guess charr hate magical defense more than plant-people hate death.

Grubb wanted to further clarify on a mechanics side that should a player choose a charr guardian their skills and racial abilities will mesh. Even if lore-wise the character is unusual, the character will not be hampered in the mechanical arena.

–Ravious

13 thoughts on “[GW2] One Unique Snowflake”

  1. As far as the Sylvari Necromancer issue goes, I think you’re associating plant life with a siding with the forces of Life, which isn’t really an inherent position in the Guild Wars Universe. As far as I know, from what Anet has said on their site and in other venues such as Ghosts of Ascalon, the Sylvari can easily take on the mantle of the Necromancer, purely because A) their likes, dislikes and personalities are shaped while being formed by the Pale Tree in the Dream, and B) they all possess a racial curiosity to attain new knowledge, usually in the effort to attain a unique identity. They’re about obsessed with that as the Norn are with being badass enough for other Norn to remember them in legends.

  2. I plan on playing both a Sylvari Necro and a Charr Guardian.
    Hadn’t really worried if they were against type or not.
    Given how Charr are brought up to work together as a Warband, I actually see a Guardian as making total sense. The warband isreally as close to a tank/heal/dps party as we’re likely to find, and given the more aggressive nature of Charr, a Guardian in the heal role makes a lot of sense to me.
    Seeing as how the human gods have gone quiet, I had assumed from day 1 that a Guardian’s powers came from an inner strength of character.
    An Asura Warrior is a little harder to explain, but maybe he want quite as smart as the otherAsura and got bullied (intellectually). Eventually, he resorted to physical prowess and became a Warrior.
    When you look at any combo on an individual basis, I think you can still rationalize any combo. Norn thief? Snow leopard is all about stealth, so…

  3. I’m planning on playing a charr guardian because it’s the closest I can get to play a charr shaman archetype from GW1 with their blasted circle of healing. (My minions just couldn’t kill them at level five). It would seem though that the caster charr except for the mezmers and necros (who I suspect are ash legion associated) were all flame legion… perhaps the go to standard for a charr guardian will be a defector from the flame legion.

  4. Concerning the sylvari necromancers, It’s not really the same as a charr guardian, The sylvari necromancers are widely accepted, and the practice goes hand in hand with the sylvari understanding of nature as a cycle of life and death, the necromancer in nature manages to complete this cycle by bringing life to death.

    So far there have been two sylvari necromancers mentioned in lore, Trahearne and Killeen that makes up 50% of the by name mentioned sylvari npc characters (others being Caithe and Faolain), I doubt the sylvari necromancers will be a rarity simply because they reflect the nature of the sylvari so well.

    To finish up very nice article Ravious was great to have the racial preference thing cleared :)

  5. The first character Mrs. ArcherAvatar is planning to create is a sylvari necromancer because according to her, ‘It just makes sense that a ‘plant’ would see the corpses of animals as useful things.’

    She usually says this sort of thing with a slightly wicked glint in her eye… I think she will make an excellent necro.

    To Ravious’ point however, I see no logic break in ‘innocent’ sylvari becoming necromancers… is a plant malicious when it sends it’s roots through the corpse of an animal and ‘feeds’ on it? Let’s face it… it’s merely a matter of time before we hear a sylvari refer to a member of one of the other races as ‘fertalizer waiting to happen’ or something even more colorful.

    Honestly, the names we are inevitably going to see on other PCs will be far more immersion-breaking than any race+class combo. Some will be cute, some will be stupid, but so many of them will have no place in the ‘lore’ of Tyria.

  6. Anybody can be anything, dontcha know? Part of escapism is the freedom to do whatever suits you, so even if you want an asura warrior to go toe-to-toe with a nine-foot tall norn, it’s still an even match.

    Of course, there are points that tend to stretch the suspension of disbelief a bit far. That’s one of them, but I gotta say: I kind of trust Anet to get it right. The asura will probably be riding or travelling in their golem, so it will be a fair fight. The norn may have their totem, and so on.

    Remember: GW was essentially a giant game of rock-paper-scissors. Any approach could be beaten by another under the right circumstances. Skill really mattered but it wasn’t done in a way that let you button-mash.

    I only hope all of this refinement time actually does make it hum.

  7. I am blind to the issue.
    Yes, I agree very early on that some race and some proff just don’t match.

    But as come to think of it, you are playing an “Adventurer”, someone who had the opportunity to get out and see the world. In that respect, you are less bound by the conservative nature of your origin society, and are more willing to experiment, try out new things, and learn new professions from other race. Afterall, you are a “Hero”, and not some grant in the local militia.

    (of course, still need to see more of the racial skill to make better statement on race/proff issue)

  8. My philosophy has always been this: If the player doesn’t care that a race/profession combo doesn’t make a lot of sense lore-wise, the game designers shouldn’t either.

    Make it possible to create a character with meaningful race/profession combinations(e.g. Charr Warrior, Sylvari Ranger, etc.) for those who care about the lore/like to role-play. Also give freedom to the players to roll whatever they want to if they are not that much into the lore.

  9. The way I see it, a charr guardian NPC can be justified like this: The Iron Legion rules the Black Citadel. The Iron Legion negotiates with humans. The Iron Legion permits humans into the Black Citadel. The Iron Legion soldiers learn the guardian profession from humans because they realize its combat strategic potential and/or because they want to know their enemy 100%.
    As for the asura warrior NPCs – the asura treats magic as a tool (see Races of Tyria vid) which may place it on the same level with swords, bows, etc. The asura favors intelligence over muscles, but who says that a warrior is an idiot without brains (surely there are warriors like that but they tend not to stay alive for very long). Besides, if you think of Dungeons & Dragons and one of its feats, Weapon Finesse, which allows benefiting from your dexterity instead of strength, the asura have the ability to qualify as warriors.

    1. I see the race+profession freedom as a boon for roleplayers and gamers alike. It puts all characters on an even footing power-wise and allows for interesting combinations that are disallowed by other games. As evidenced by the replies above, there is a story for every character, including the asuran warrior (which existed in GW) or sylvari necro or charr guardian. I think ActionJack said it best: We’re “adventurers” and “heroes,” we don’t have to fit neatly into cultural expectations. In fact, player characters often thrive in spite of cultural expectations.

      I will be rolling a charr guardian and a sylvari necro in GW2 because they make sense for the characters I have created and the stories they tell. I will also be rolling a sylvari ranger and a norn warrior, because they also make sense because of their stories. My characters don’t care whether or not they fit into some sort of cultural mold and I will still have fun playing them for who they are, rather than what they can do.

      It’s all about the freedom to play the character you want to play, and ANet is letting us do so without intruding on our ability to play a powerful character. Choice over necessity. You can play all 8 professions and never roll a charr if you like, and in doing so, you are at no advantage or disadvantage to your gameplay. You can whine all you want about how an asuran warrior being equal to a norn warrior is unrealistic or that a charr guardian makes no sense, but at some point you gotta realize that you are playing a FANTASY game, and in fantasy, anything goes.

  10. Lore nerds think too much in black-whites concerning these race vs class combinations.

    Why wouldn’t there be an Asura that worships the human gods above it’s own technology. Maybe this Asura encountered something in his life that changes his beliefs… so in that sense you could always rationally explain why some player of one race picks an “unpopular” class without destroying the lore.

    In most situations it would be more unnatural or unlogical to exclude a certain class to exist amongst a race (restriction professions like WoW did). What happened to individual preferences then and who gets to rebel in a community? You always have people who want-to-be / are something special, or different…

    It would be the same thing as saying that all European’s live by the Bible and all Mid-East people live by the Koran… oh hell no. Thinking too black & white is wrong, and it’s something I see way too often among lore discussion topics.

    PS: I’ll make an Asura Guardian just for the phun of it and I decided this when the Guardian got revealed. I want to have something special yeah.

  11. To me it makes more sense for the Sylvari Mesmer (No it isn’t a confirmed profession. But c’mon, we know it’s in there) to be against racial type than the Sylvari Necro. Killeen couldn’t manage to lie to the Krytan interrogators and Caithe was very straight forward. I think the Sylvari, being so new to the world, would have a hard time with mental manipulation. They’re still trying to figure out how things work themselves so creating illusions wouldn’t be natural to them.

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