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.