Monday, 8 August 2011

Unbe-freaking-leafable - Sylvari Week!

Hold onto your hyacinths, people; it's freaking sylvari week! Just like the other weeks, I thought I'd give you the whole branching sylvari story to pan the time between the end of Guild Wars and the start of Guild Wars 2. Also, I will be including as many plant puns as is humanly possible, so I apologise if I branch off onto irrelevant tropics - beleaf me, I'll try and keep them pruned.

The sylvari are a budding new race in the Guild Wars ecology. Their story is fairly cool in my opinion, and is worth telling from the very start:

After the end of EotN Tyria was still not a very safe place for humanity - they faced threats from the remaining White Mantle, Mursaat, Charr and the growing threats caused by the wakening of the dragons. One settlement of human exiles had sprung up in the Caledon Forest (east of Rata Sum, west of the Henge of Denravi). Ronan, a human soldier, had made this his home for himself and his family. Whilst on patrol and separated from his group, Roran came across a strange cave guarded by "terrible plant creatures" - he scooped up one of the fist-sized seeds and fled (hoping to give the seed to his daughter as a present to celebrate his return from the war). Unfortunately, upon returning home, Ronan found his family dead and the settlement ruined by a mursaat attack. In his grief, Ronan planted the seed on the graves of his family members. He swore never to return to battle.
Arbor Bay - Ventari's Sanctuary

Roran was joined by the centaur Ventari, who also shared his abhorrence for violence. Together the human and centaur built a small community around the ever-growing tree. As the tree grew, the world changed around it - krytans, fleeing violence in their own lands, clashed with centaur clans across the human kingdoms, the dragons began to emerge and allegiances and borders shifted and tore. Fewer and fewer people were willing to follow Ronan and Ventari's peaceful way of life. Eventually Ronan passed away, and before Ventari did the same he wrote his life-lessons on a tablet and placed it amongst the roots of the Pale Tree.

In his absence, the tree grew for 100 years. Eventually great cocoons began to sprout and twist away from the branches of the now massive tree - from these cocoons came the firstborn sylvari.

Dociu concept art of the Pale Tree
The sylvari almost worship the words written by Ventari on the tablets and attempt to live by the rules he passed on. Whilst in their "gestation" period the sylvari dream of the world, it is through these dreams that each sylvari learns the wisdom of their race. Ree Soesbee describes:
The Dream is a deep well, into which memory and thought are poured as each sylvari learns and experiences the world. A newborn sylvari takes memories from that well in part, not in whole; like a bowl filled with water from that lake, they see only a small fraction of their race’s collective experience. 
So, they are born with a working knowledge of the world - but are able to go out and explore and learn on their own. The sylvari are children in relative terms, the oldest of their race is only 25 when the events of GW2 occur. They bring an almost bitingly sheer look to a world filled with wholly cynical races. Their honesty is often misinterpreted as ignorance, their innocence as helplessness. They may appear to be children, but they grew from a tree grown on the site of a massacre, they bear the weight of the wisdom of a very old and very wise centaur and the passion of a shining blade warrior and their unending curiosity for the new world around them drives their race to expand like so many winding weeds.

I'm hesitant to talk too much about the sylvari culture until we learn a little bit more, that's what sylvari week i is about after all! But that's their history, at least. I'm also not going to talk about the FREAKING AWESOME SYLVARI REDESIGN here - as that's a whole other blog post altogether.


  1. The Pale Tree is sentient, to a degree, if I recall correctly. She may have based the bodies of the Sylvari on that of Ronan, giving them that humanoid appearance.
    Like you said on Ravious' post on Kill Ten Rats, she may have sprouted the Sylvari as a defense mechanism, and in doing so, emulated the human form for that protection.
    I'd like to see how they explain the Sylvari in the lore. Maybe we'll get some along these lines before the week's done!

  2. First, nice summary of the background on the origin story as we know it so far...
    Second, 100% WIN on the monday blog entry by Kristen Perry!

    Also... maybe this reference is too dated (I am old) but I thought "Audrey" bore some resemblance to a young Audrey Hepburn (who was always one of my favorites.)

  3. Nice recap of the history. Just one note, Ronan was there before the events of EotN with the tree already starting to grow by the time players reach Arbor Bay for the first time on their way to Rata Sum.

  4. Ah crap, you're right. I am ashamed. I shall take up my place as a hermit in the mountains, fare thee well everyone.



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