Monday, July 16, 2012

Virtue or Venom?

The third and final beta is upon us and with it the opportunity to play the last two races, the Asura and the Sylvari. I've been thinking some about Tyria's young population of plant people and wanted to share a few things I've been thinking about.

Painful Discovery

Have you ever seen a child discover a rose for the first time? Many love them for their beautifully arrayed petals, sweet scent and deep variety of colors. As with any inquisitive little one, the next thing they want to do after discovering the flower is picking it. What follows next is a life lesson about nature. They grab the rose and a hand is impaled by numerous hooked thorns. " Look, but don't touch." is the message. Nature is replete with some of the most spectacularly beautiful flowers and plants that are also most lethal. Monkshood, Oleander, and Rhododendron are just a few examples. Think twice before underestimating plant life.

Speaking of plant life, the Sylvari are plants. They are plant people borne of the pale tree, a big plant. They are beautiful, arrayed in petals and an amalgam of leaves. They have a great many shades of color and probably smell like honeysuckle. What happens when you try to "pick" one?

Beautiful but Deadly

What intrigues me about Sylvari is how this race has such beauty, not just physical appearance but their nascent culture, their philosophy, their chivalrous actions and relations. Yet at the same time they have a dangerous side, in some cases poisonous. How will this race deal with death, killing, suffering, all the unfortunate results of creatures using their agency for evil but still remain true to their core principles. It will be most interesting to see.

The Sylvari's dangerous side can be seen in Ree Soesbee's blog post Dream and Nightmare. In it, we have a glimpse of the lethality the youngest Tyrian race. For example, Malomedies had initiated first contact with the Asura. Unfortunately they thought he was an interesting jungle plant and experimented on him. When they realized he was sentient they returned him and offered peace between their races. Cadeyrn, a second generation Sylvari, with mommy issues I might add, immediately reacted. "We must kill them all!""... His hand clenched around the hilt of his sword." That is a pretty belligerent statement for one so young.

We next learn of a Sylvari squad encounter with some krait. This line best describes the incident, "He [Cadeyrn] left nothing behind but scale and scream." As the blog continues, we witness Cadeyrn becoming offended, angry and resentful. He acts like a child not getting his way and as Spike put it, "there is nothing as innocent and yet so cruel as a child."
(Cowboy Bebop-Pierrot Le Fou). Cadeyrn is a microcosm of how bad a Sylvari can get. Don't believe me? Look what he creates later on.


The Nightmare Court is an organization created by Cadeyrn and made up of apostate Sylvari, you could say. Its the anti-Ventari tablet organization and a group of very poisoned plant people.

The Nightmare Court are sylvari who embrace the darkest parts of their nature, relishing a terrifying nightmare that contains as much horror as the Dream holds inspiration. Their dark vigils are things of legend, filled with depravity, twisted courtliness, and sadistic tournaments that pervert sylvari chivalry. Their greatest ambition: to turn the Pale Tree to nightmare. "Dream and Nightmare"
Not only will the race have to deal with dragons but their own internal family rebellion. A second born son who is bound and determined to change his mothers mind about what is right and wrong. Hmmm. I'm going to have to explore that theme some more.  I wonder if we will see a Sylvari civil war, or a redemption story where members of the Nightmare Court see the results of weakening the Sylvari nation and strive to rectify the situation.

I'm excited to play the Sylvari in the next beta. I greatly look forward to exploring the area and the lore but leaving enough for when the game goes live.

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