How Guild Wars 2 Welcomes Roleplayers

Pirate Outfit

Come, put on your pirate outfit and talk a bit of Roleplay with me.

The City Calls To Me

The above photo is my character in his pirate costume standing outside the giant music machine in Divinity’s Reach. It was always my plan to tour the towns a bit more during the next beta, but I managed to get some of my exploring done during the stress test. What I found during my short trip was a city more alive than I seen in most any other game. For this reason, I decided I should do a blog about something that may seem out of the ordinary for me: A Roleplaying Post.

I know Lord of the Rings Online has a good, active RP community and there are reasons for that. I am not a RPer myself, so consider this an outsider’s viewpoint on the chances of Roleplaying within Guild Wars 2, but I am not a complete stranger to this creative element. I did play on a RP-PVP server in WOW for years and do have a few LOTRO characters. These experiences taught me some of the elements a RPer looks for in a game and what sort of things attract them to a game. I also learned that the RP community is friendly, and most importantly, one of the more mature segments of the MMO userbase.

Wanting To Live Here

Divinity's Reach

Divinity’s Reach rises high into the clouds.

Imagine the busy lives of the people in Majora’s Mask. Imagine the wandering folk of Skyrim and the conversations you hear in the bars. Think of Stormwind filled with emissaries parading through town. Combine that all into a city bigger than any you may have seen in an MMO before. That’s sort of what you have in Divinity’s Reach.

Divinity’s Reach looks like Minas Tirith from the outside, that high standing and glorious Tolkien city from the Lord of the Rings. Inside, the city is a lively place of political discussion, racial tension, commerce and communities. If you wander around, you’ll find the place is more than a bank deposit and auction house. Go left and you may find yourself near the shrine of Lyssa. Keep moving. Go north. You may find yourself in the audience of the Queen. Maybe backtrack. You may find a Sylvari asking locals where to get some good grub. Hang around. You may find the locals asking the Sylvari if she eats anything but sunshine. She’ll reply in kind that she’s looking for some meat and some good ale. The Norn might butt into the conversion, because he’s nearly sober and that makes him miserable. Yeah, I’m not kidding. There is a procession of wonder to entering the city. The first step is the audacity of scale, the second is the artistic beauty and the third is multitude of NPCs with voiced conversations.

Part of Roleplaying is taking in the world as something more than just a bunch of static programs purposing a game. Within the high walls of Divinity’s Reach, a people live and work, gathering water from wells and talking to each other. The faithful are worried about the queen for they are worried she’s still single, and after the faithful pray, they stop to debate the cynical over the existence of their Gods. The cynics love a queen without a king. They say Balthazar was never there. Around the corner, the classes fall from exquisite to wanting. The poor are begging behind pillars and claiming all donations are tax deductible. The children are pretending to be Charr and chasing each other around. The mothers walk out of their modest homes, draw a bucket of water, and return to their kitchen. A child’s teddy bear shirt hangs on a clothesline behind the mother’s house. The wind blows the drying laundry back and forth. As far as I know, observing these elements are not quests, and they are not achievements. All of these little things are touches of detail to make the city feel alive. Divinity’s Reach is a prayer of devotion towards the pursuit of immersion. I imagine a Roleplayer appreciates such a thing.

But don’t thin that such elements are reserved to one city. The people of Beetletun praise their local patron. They discuss the issues of the carnival. The children hide from their chores, blissfully unaware of the dark realities of war. Meanwhile, the Charr cubs of The Black Citadel go on a school field trip throughout the city. Their teacher tells them of the uprise of the Charr and their technological accomplishments. The children ask why they just don’t eat all the humans. Their teacher says “good point”, but then reminds them of the dragons and the merits of a truce. Charr warriors discuss a Charr lady across from them at a bar. A Charr lady offers to tattoo their faces with an axe. Charr love is hard business.

The world of Tyria is alive and wonderous, if you pardon my awe.

Lore!

One thing that being a sequel provides a game is the opportunity to build on what the first attempt establishes. For Guild Wars 1 players, the first big change is that the Charr are now friendly instead of the initial enemy. The starting whispers of this change begins with the Eye of the North campaign in the first game, but here the world has truly adopted a multiracial existence. The humans no longer reign supreme. In fact, the Charr and Asura provide all the advancements. This does not mean pure peace, for old grudges die hard and relations between the varied people are still tense and suspicious, and the neutral city of Lion’s Arch is even seen as a bit renegade to the human populace. Plus, the sunken ruins of the old Tyrian city of glory rest in the oceanic depths beyond the sandy beaches of the new, shipwrecked city of cross-racial commerce and Mediterranean flair. Lion’s Arch is a beautiful yet grim reminder of what once was.

For the Charr, the heroes that lead them to this point have statues erected in their glorious honor. The people discuss their own history with pride. The legions fight for supremacy amongst each other.

Market Street

Statues, flowers, and people fill the entrance.

All of these things add up to a sense of history and lore. Beyond the fact that the world exists, there is the evidence the world has existed. Ruins lay about in the sunken depths of swamps. The Asurans have built over ancient ruins and have begun to research their history. The Dredge have taken up keep in Sorrow’s Furnace. For a roleplayer, there is history to draw from and biases to play off of. Races have distinct personalities, but those traits are not set in absolute stone. One of the great bits of the Guild Wars 2 world are the children that seem to undercut all assumptions of a people. Even the great warriors of the Norn lineage start out with snowball fights.

Looking Good Old Chap.

Armor design in the game is pretty impressive from what’s been seen so far. If you want, you can tour the vendors of Divinity’s reach for a quick look at some available armor sets. The game has no class specific armor, but just three basic armor levels of which any class of that armor level can use. There is also the ability to transmute stats onto a piece of armor and vice versa, allowing you the benefit of upgrades without losing the spiffy look you’ve established for yourself. Beyond this, a costume panel

is open for players to outfit themselves with, but if I had a criticism of RP elements in the game, it would be that the costume panel only works outside of combat. Once you enter combat by any means, your character switches to their basic armor set in appearance. Still, for town wandering and RP meetings, you can dress as  a pirate if you so want.One important element of Commerce Shop costumes to note is that there are weapons for these sets and these weapons have their own set of skills. My pirate outfit had five total skills tied to a wooden sword. These skills includes a Yarr emote, summoning a parrot, doing a splash dive, and building a canon. Yes, a canon, but also, a canon that can be fired by anyone. That’s how you party, matey.

The Lyssa Shrine

A pirate stands above the shrine of Lyssa.

Things to do; People to beat.

One thing lacking from the first beta weekend event were the small events that will be available within the city walls. These sort of events include bar fights, shooting galleries and carnivals. You could travel on over to Beetletun and see the carnival folk waiting around and killing time, but the festivities have yet to begin within the game. Hopefully, a future beta will open these events up so that people can partake in some non-combat fun, which I feel is always beneficial to a RP community. It not only breaks up any monotony found in constant combat, but helps build a world that is a functioning, living place.  You will find little events out in the world to enjoy as well. The Norn children will have snowball fights and if you think you can walk in, toss a snowball and forget them, be prepared to take a icy fastball to the back of the head. Those little runts will knock you down. The Charr area also features a cow launcher. I cannot comment on this event much, for I haven’t tried it, but there is a Cattlepault. I imagine the Asura have their bits of fun. I hear there will be Golem battles to be had in Rata Sum.  Beyond the little events, the city offers the player the ability to just go lurking and leaping around. I found myself rooftop hopping, trying to find a new area or a secret alcove. There’s a giant garden/observatory in the middle of Divinity’s Reach that is absolutely beautiful. The world kind of makes you want to go play a game of hide and seek in it. You skitter between houses, looking at the surrounding paintings, rugs and people. You think to yourself that here might be a good hiding spot. What this means is that you can invent your own fun due to the detail of the world, so little or large RP events have a place to play out.

What doesn’t quite welcome RPers

It’s important to note what the game lacks for RPers, the main missing element being a RP labeled server or a server with strict RP rules. This means there is no server with enforced naming conventions that weed out the

Lion's Arch

Lion’s Arch is a haven for all sorts of creatures.

Chuck Norris factor. There will be a Roleplay community in the game, as there are already fansites set up for Roleplaying in Guild Wars 2, but that only means that a server may become the main home of RPers. We’re probably still months away from release, so time will tell if the community decides upon somewhere to gather or not.

Guild Wars is also a fairly fresh intellectual property. The game world and Lore are based upon the first game and its expansions, plus a couple of books. ArenaNet does have a team that works and story and lore, but you can’t instantly create something on the level of Star Wars or the Tolkien world.

What this means is that there will be a certain leap taking with venturing into RP within Guild Wars 2. I would suggest keeping in touch with the forums to see where RP action will be had. I imagine the Roleplay community will build up within the game. While there is less establishes and less well-known lore, the world is so full and alive, I think it overcomes its youth.

Will the Moletariat RP?

No, most likely not. I get along with RPers and will play along if grouped with them, but for some reason I never care about the issues of lore or whatnot. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be out in the city, doing non-combat things and planning my hide and seek game. I may even snoop in on an RP event if I come across one. I am a curious fellow.

Lion's Arch High Dive

It’s a long way down from the Lion’s Arch high dive, but you’ve got your diving goggles on.

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Investigating the Dredge

The Dredge Alert

The Dredge Report!

The Moletariats

The theme of this blog is inspired by the Dredge race within the Guild Wars universe. Originally, the Dredge were mostly found in dungeons of the world. They are a mole-like people who are enslaved for their tunneling techniques, forced to dig away and mine for dwarf taskmasters. Over the course of the first Guild Wars, this race goes through some changes and growth. By the time you find them in Guild Wars 2, they are their own people and still mining away. They are not friendly folk and some early quests involve fighting them within the mines.

No Allegiance Owed

The offspring of a few desperate escapees from the Shiverpeaks who tunneled for hundreds of miles to reach their strange new home, these Dredge have no reason to feel any friendship toward humans or anyone else—they escaped slavery on their own, and plan to establish their race anew in the petrified woodlands.

-Guild Wars wiki

Molenin

The friendly hero Molenin

The interesting part about the Dredge up-rise is how transient the player races are to the forming of the new Dredge society. In the Eye of the North expansion, there is a friendly Dredge named Molenin who stands guard outside the entrance to Vloxen Excavations. You can go inside the Vloxen dungeon and fight the Stone Summit Dwarfs, setting some of the Dredge free, but the game does not take these small parts as important to the collective liberation of its molemen. Some of the Dredge you set free run off, while others seem to wander aimlessly around.

There are few places to find the Dredge in the first Guild Wars if one was to out Dredge hunting. The previously mentioned Vloxen’s Excavations features enslaved Dredge folk, as does the Stone Summit run Sorrow’s Furnace. These are the typical Dredge slaves and you can find friendly versions in the mines of these areas. Over in Cantha, within the Echovald Forest, lives the freed society of Dredge. These Dredge are not friendly and are given workmanlike names for the different enemy class types. For example, a hostile Dredge monk is a Dredge Gardener and a hostile Dredge Ranger is called a Dredge Gatherer. Within the Echovald Forest, the Dredge live near dirt mounds that are likely the signs of their tunneling skills.

The Canthan Dredge have their own leaders in various Boss NPCs found in the explorable areas. In these forest areas, I have run across a couple of the named Dredge bosses called Tarlok Evermind and Wagg Spiritspeak.  It is tough to say whether there was an established naming convention for the Dredge yet or if their names are just a product of their specified class. Looking at the names Molenin, Tarlok and Wagg you have a mix of mole reference names, guttural sounds and warrior-society sounding first names.  On the other hand, Ferndale features a Dredge boss named Maximole, so the naming convention again returns to the mole puns.

Vloxen

Some Dredge will fight with you to free themselves.

Names aside, it’s pretty clear that the Dredge are a race that is on their own path in the Guild Wars universe. Even the Tengu seem closer to the sort of race you may find hanging out in Lion’s Arch as a friendly visitor than you would the Dredge.

A Return to Sorrow

The dredge are an intelligent mole-like race found in the Shiverpeak Mountains. They view themselves as the true heirs of the dwarves and are involved in an ongoing conflict with the norn over territory.

-Guild Wars 2 wiki

Dresge Tower Sketches

Dredge Architecture

Vloxen Lock

A gearwork lock in Vloxen’s Excavation

Interestingly enough, the Dredge of Guild Wars 2 come to inhabit and basically take over the old evil dwarf stomping grounds. It is thought that Sorrow’s Furnace is now the Dredge capital city. If so, this brings in some interesting possibilities. Mostly, I’m curious to see if Sorrow’s Furnace will return as a neutral city or as a hostile area. The early dynamic event involving a fight against the Dredge are found in the Norn area of the map. Here, you run into a mine and try to push the Dredge out. It’s a simple war for resources as your reasoning and vidya-gaming impetus, but it’s also interesting to see within the event that the Dredge have begun constructing objects of more interest than dirt mounds. While the complexities of the Dredge’s handicraft have been found mostly within their tunnels, the dynamic event involves a boss on a wooden platform and desparate attempt to keep the Dredge from rebuilding a tower.

ArenaNet has released some artwork of sketches of Dredge towers and buildings. There are similarities to be found between the Dredge constructions and those found in Sorrow’s Furnace and Vloxen’s Excavation. The heir of Dwarves may mean that the Dredge adopted the Stone Summit construction techniques seeing as they fit their spelunking lifestyle and new homes.What has happened with the Canthan Dredge we probably will not learn of until the first Guild Wars 2 Expansion.

Possibilities

The Dredge’s Moletariat society offers a lot of possibilities for future use in Guild Wars 2. They could become a neutral race that the player can befriend. Their home of Sorrow’s Furnace could become a major battle area or a dungeon. Their fight with the Norn could escalate at higher levels or perhaps you can negotiate a settlement between the Norn and Dredge at some point. It may be obvious, but I am hoping for some friendly Dredge to be found within Guild Wars 2. I have a hard time killing former slaves just to get to some iron ore.

Long live the Moletariat! (Until one of those Dredge tower workers try to stab me with an axepick.)