[GW2] War for the Dream

Of all the enemy-within factions for the playable races of Guild Wars 2, the Nightmare Court of the sylvari is easily the most disturbing. Loresmith Ree Soesbee discusses the sylvari lore including the appearance and goals of the Nightmare Court in the final blog article for the Sylvari Week. They are the mirror of the noble sylvari. They see the commandments of Ventari’s tablet as shackles to the power and potential to the new race. They are the means that will end the pure-hearted sylvari race.

Soesbee analogizes the Dream – a type of memory bank for the entire sylvari race – in the most helpful manner. She describes it as a lake fed by the memories, feelings, experiences, and lives of each living sylvari. Newly born sylvari get a large bucket of these memories. Stronger memories, such as important moments in sylvari history, are found in most buckets, whereas weaker memories like the first taste of fish might not be present.

The Nightmare Court seeks to pollute this lake until the Dream creates sylvari free from any moral constraints of a dead centaur. They feel that if the lake waters become dark enough the Pale Tree too will break free. However, unlike many of the other intra-racial enemy factions, the Nightmare Court still wishes to free the world of the Elder Dragons. It’s just that they believe that nuking innocents to do that is well worth the cost.

The most interesting thing is that in order for the Nightmare Court to be stopped by their unsullied brethren, the good sylvari have to basically act like a Nightmare Court member and kill one of their own. If they allow the Nightmare Court sylvari to live, that darkened sylvari continues to pollute the waters of the Dream. If the good sylvari kills the Nightmare Court member, that final blow will too darken the Dream. That sense of failure makes the Nightmare Court far disturbing than any dragon-turned Son of Svanir or zealous Flame Legion.

I am extremely grateful for so many tabletop roleplaying demi-gods to be on the ArenaNet team. I love the depth and feeling of the races, and most of all, I love the touch of gray in each of the playable races. I have read plenty of roleplaying games that kept a race in two-dimensional form. Choosing a race was simply choosing a skin (which may have made me smarter or stronger). Good roleplaying games made choosing a race mean that I was choosing a direction, a feeling, a compulsion. The best made me want to explore what it meant to be faced with the problems of that race. I feel ArenaNet feels the same way. I can’t wait to explore some of the tales of the Nightmare Court. Hopefully, my sylvari character can find some light left in that darkness.


13 thoughts on “[GW2] War for the Dream”

  1. And… we have an answer as to the question “why human-ish?” Fair eenough.

  2. What kind of puzzles me is which of these Sylvari would actually do these things. I mean, Faolain is rotten to the core, we get that. But, going by the fiction that was posted during Sylvari week, it sounded as if the Sylvari who wanted to slaughter the young Krait only wanted what was best for his race, and went along best with his mission of ending the dragon’s, albeit with a more direct and bloody method.

    However, the Nightmare Court gathering described in the fiction in the “Dream and Nightmare” article showed a group of Sylvari who wanted to consume the world with nightmare, maybe with a touch of subjugation and slaughter mixed in there (for kids!). I don’t see the correlation between that one Sylvari, and these lunatics. They must have been dropped on their heads at some point to have made that transition from “Iron Fist” to “crazy, bloodthirsty broccoli cult”.

    That said, great article, though. I love the Sylvari as a race, and this week just made me love them even more (almost enough to tip my human heart to their side on release), and the three-dimensionality and sheer depth to the societies displayed in Tyria is just stunning.

    1. In response to Phantom:

      I think the Nightmare Court wants to consume, not the world, but the tree with nightmare. They believe it will make them stronger if the sylvari do not follow the teachings of Ventari.

      Converting the tree, by polluting the lake is pretty similar to killing the infant krait. Don’t let the krait grow to kill sylvari by killing them young. Don’t let the sylvari grow up to follow Ventari’s teachings by poisoning the lake (which will make up their prehatched memories) before they hatch. Both are ruthless, but effective.

      They want power. The do something evil to get it. They want to use the power for the greater good of killing the elder dragons. Does this make them evil in the end?

      This is not a one dimensional race. Yay for not having elves! Though we are bound to see many a sylvari named Lego Las.

      1. I agree with Bubbles, I think. The Nightmare Court commit such terrible atrocities because their experiences have to be very powerful to guarantee a place in future sylvari’s Dream. Cadeyrn, the founder, seems to think that extreme acts of evil are acceptable if that’s what it takes to achieve freedom – freedom in this case meaning the freedom for the sylvari to choose their own path, with their own interests in mind, instead of self-sacrificing to follow the Ventari Tablet.

        As with most good villains, they’re creepy because what they do makes a certain kind of sense! They’re looking out for their races’s self-determination, against what they see as a oppressive ideology. I think one of the creepiest things, though, is that it suits their goals best to torture other sylvari…

  3. @Phantom: The point is that to truly combat evil you must stand above it. By abandoning mercy the main Sylvari from the story begins to decend into darkness and madness.

  4. Interesting problem indeed for those sylvari who would fight the Nightmare Court. If I were sylvari, after much brooding, I would come to the reluctant conclusion that ending the Nightmare Court by killing its members would, over the long run, cause somewhat less darkness in the Dream than letting them amok. But that’s very arguable . . . and who’s to say, really. Mmm. Good stuff.

    1. Or you could fight the Nightmare Court at their own game of polluting the Tree. Flood the Dream with ‘good’ memories and emotions.

      Or you could take a page off the superhero genre. Heroes don’t kill. But they can knock a villain unconscious, and put them in a safe place where they can harm no one until they redeem themselves (or more likely, escape, to begin the cycle once more.)

      The broadness of the interpretation all around… good stuff, good roleplaying and lore fodder.

  5. You’re assuming that all killing is evil, it isn’t. Nothing wrong with killing in self defense which is what taking out the Nightmare Court will be.

    1. An act of valor, tinged with regret, in slaying a brother turned evil? The stuff heroic dreams are made of.

      Or at least silver age comic books.

  6. Didn’t see it here yet in the comments so I thought I should add the obligatory Nietzsche quote;
    “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

    As with all such sayings, and all such situations, this applies equally to those sylvari who have succumb to the Nightmare Court, as well as those who oppose them.

    Yes… killing is wrong… but any good gardener will tell you that “pruning” is necessary for healthy trees… It’s all a matter of maintaining proper perspective, and not allowing the necessary deeds to become personalized. There ARE oxygen thieves in this world that need to be removed for the good of all but, if that process becomes a personalized mission then one has mostly likely joined the ranks of the very group they were trying to eradicate.

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