Blaugust Day 22: Asura Alt Collection – The Guardian (GW2)

Yep, a second guardian.

From very early on, I knew a charr guardian was going to be my main in Guild Wars 2, but coming a very close second was the idea of an asura guardian.

I was in love with the amusing contrast of really tiny yet really tanky, plus the fantastic asura combat animations, spinning around on a staff to empower, leaping and spinning everywhere like little dervishes with weapons way too large for them that pull them every which way with inertia.

shudd1

Shudd was my answer to that desire. (And we have seen him before, showing off various armor styles nearer the beginning of his career.)

Funny story about his naming – I knew he needed a proper asura name. One syllable, short and sweet, with two double letters in there somewhere.

You know, it’s a lot easier said than done.

I sat there for a good fifteen minutes, stuck at the naming portion of character creation, typing in any short, nonsensical but asura-sounding words I could think of, and coming to the conclusion that with the number of people playing GW2 that also care about naming conventions, a LOT of the possible one syllable word combinations were getting taken up… there are only so many vowels to go around and possible consonants to be arranged around them, right?

Somehow, the word “should” popped into my mind. (Maybe because the sequence of events went something like “There -should- be SOME names left, dammit.”)

There aren’t any repeated letters in that though…

So I tried, “Shodd.”

Nope. No go.

Erm, “Shadd?” Nothing.

“Shedd?” (Though it sounds silly) Nada.

Let us not try Shidd. (‘Tis a silly name.)

Eventually I went down the vowel chain, and badabing, Shudd got through. And hrm, sounds presentable to my ear. Works.

The great irony was when I played through the asura infinity ball personal story arc and realized that I had an NPC assistant named Shodd. Totally unintentional, but I suddenly had a pairing worthy of a law firm: Shudd & Shodd, World Domination Inc.

Then I got to Lion’s Arch, and realized there was another asura NPC, Captain Shud, in charge of the portals and on the captain’s council.

This was a perfect, if completely unintentional, demonstration of additional lore – aka how confusing asura names are to humans, yet utterly distinctive to the diminutive asura.

In my head, I could just hear it being patiently explained to a bookah, “No, no, you’ve got it wrong. It’s Shudd, as opposed to Shud… or Shodd,” each word carefully pronounced and articulated…

A giant question mark appearing over said bookah’s head…

…and the lil asura throwing up his hands and going, “Oh, forget it. Why am I even bothering?”

shudd2

Why -two- guardians, some would ask, when the one guardian could switch traits any time to be any build whatsoever?

Well, the idea was that my charr guardian was going to be built for solo wandering, to be mostly a one-handed weapon user, to be all hard-hitting berserker and stuff. The asura, on the other hand, was going to cleave a bit more towards meta, to do my group dungeons, to be a little tankier, to be used in WvW and we could achieve gear and build differentiation that way.

Best laid plans and all that.

It worked for a time. The meta of the day was the anchor guardian, so I faithfully picked up Knight’s gear, a hammer, a two-handed sword and so on. I did a considerable amount of dungeoning with Shudd, and couldn’t help but notice that I was picking up 95%-100% of the aggro of every fight and struggling to stay alive through self-healing, altruistic healing, renewed focus and pretty much every other trick in the book, while my group compatriots did nothing but dps (probably poorly too) and after that go, “Jeez, that was super easy. Piece of cake. Need harder difficulties!”

What? I was barely clinging on to life and it was so touch and go at certain points… And you want it, harder?!

Some time around the point between the Molten facility and the Aetherblade one, I realized I had finally had it with attempting to tank (or rather, anchor) for groups that couldn’t appreciate or see what was happening. Far better to split the aggro, let the ungrateful ones take a few hits of their own, and -feel- it, and all the stupid remarks about “easy peasy, need it harder” went away. I swapped to warrior for dungeoneering then, and retired the guardian.

He did, however, still see me through lots and lots of WvW. I swapped around cleric, soldier, zerker, zealot stats every which way, trying to figure out the best combinations, changing between tanky/bunker healbots, tanky frontline spearheads, not-so-tanky midline staff (lootstick) spam and basically played a ton of melee frontline in a zerg, during the best of times with superb commanders.

These days, I’ve been changing it up and playing more ranged backline (it’s also lazier and less stressful and easier to drop in and out unmissed) so poor old Shudd is sitting around unused, with bags still mostly bursting and untended to. Probably just a matter of time before things change again, I suppose.

shudd3

Personality-wise, Shudd is a lot more gregarious than Kujl.

His oddity, I suppose, is his adventuresome nature. He’s also off exploring the wilderness and interacting with all races of Tyria in a manner similar to the old GW1 hero, Vekk.

Yes, he is snide and snarky, like nearly all asura out there; he’ll cheerfully call you a bookah without thinking twice, but he’s not xenophobic about it. He’s in fact quite happy traveling and communicating with all races because to him, everything’s part of one giant lab experiment – his lab experiment.

Graduating from the College of Synergistics, he studies relationships and connections. You might call him a sort of sociologist or anthropologist, practising observational science. He studies various cultures, how they get along, relate to and interact with one another. He’s interested in psychology, history, economics and basically anything and everything that might suggest how it all synergizes into the Eternal Alchemy.

Because well, if he can understand that, then that’s it right there. The secret to life, universe and everything. Godhood, world domination, your heart’s desire, the fount of eternal life, the source of all magic, whatever, it all pales in comparison to the origin of knowledge, to understanding how it all ties together.

If the network of the Eternal Alchemy can be determined, mapped and understood, everything else would naturally fall into place like dominos following a chain reaction.

It’s going to take a life’s work. It’ll be a magnum opus, and possibly a swan song. It may mean slaying the Elder Dragons, if need be. So Shudd’s out there, observing, cataloging, fighting, searching for true facts and truth itself.

(And occasionally looking cute, in a gremlin-sort of way.)
(And occasionally looking cute, in a gremlin-sort of way.)

Everything else, well, it’s just stuff made in passing, inventions to kill time or serve a purpose.

The infinity ball? A toy.

The alchemagical devices that generate holograms like shattered dragon wings and his sword? Just utility tools.

His powered armor? #normalgeniusasurathings. Doesn’t everybody do that?

Whatever. The answer is out there. Somewhere.

shudd4

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 22, and 42.

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GW2: A Boy and His Golem

aboyandhisgolem

❤ ❤ ❤

When you’re located on the opposite side of the world from where these dang codes are being given out, you pretty much give up the thought of ever owning one of these beauties.

A big, big thank you goes to Gazimoff, who generously thought of sharing the codes he picked up via an online competition, and also to the folks at ArenaNet who generously gave him a bunch more codes to give away.

(Not to mention, the good souls working ArenaNet Support who swiftly responded within a day – during the weekend – and managed to fix the issue of code and account region not matching by manually applying said code to my account.)

Some really ingenious golem designs were submitted: among the winners was a Trahearne golem and Skritt golem very worth checking out, and all the other contenders whom you can see in the comments here were making me lose hope that my humble, amateur effort would make it. 🙂

Which, by the way, was the semi-secret work-in-progress project alluded to previously.

I’d only been procrastinating on painting miniatures for merely ten years now, so of course step one to getting back into the habit – decide to model and paint up a golem for the competition with a two week deadline… for fun!

Some GW2 wiki research on golems produced a very nice concept art of a giant golem.

http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/File:Giant_Golem_concept_art.jpg
http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/File:Giant_Golem_concept_art.jpg by Levi Hopkins

I doubted I had enough “green stuff” Kneadatite epoxy putty left in the house (the usual substance of choice for miniature sculptors of the Games Workshop/Reaper Mini backgrounds), nor its workability after a decade, so of course it became a big craft experiment into the world of air-dry modelling clay, which was way more easily available at a neighborhood book/stationery store.

Except they didn’t have any white color in stock either, so I had to settle for peach.

omg-wip-finalsculpt

Fortunately, asura aesthetics tend toward the geometric, which make things a lot more achievable for an amateur just enjoying the feeling of getting hands all gunked up with clay and shaping stuff.

Make a rectangular cube here, a ball there, a triangle or a pyramid elsewhere… Let it dry a bit. Then try to stick them together.

Curse and swear when things don’t.

Cudgel brain for solutions and resort to grabbing some wire to thread the shapes through and pin one to the other.

In retrospect, I’d make a more proper armature next time.

But for what was essentially a prototype of a prototype, just an idea simmering around in my head, the discovery process was pretty fun.

(I did have to resort to the ol’ rock trick to stabilize one super-heavy arm though.)

Several days of shaping and drying later, it was time to work out the painting kinks with a much larger surface area to practice on than a normal mini.

Step 1: Priming

omg-wip-blackprime

The really amazing thing is that both my black and white paint-on gesso primer and my Vallejo paints were doing just fine after so long a time of being ignored. (Go go air tight containers! Betcha your spray primers and cruddy Games Workshop paint pots can’t match that.)

Black and white priming is a variant technique that I experimented with and found I liked (thus avoiding the holy war of solely black primer vs white primer.)

Priming black gets black into all the deepest shadows, and with my particular brand of gesso, goes on more smoothly than white.

The problem is that subsequently painting colors on top of such a black coat takes forever, especially if you use thin coats of paint or your paint tends to translucency. Colors tend to be more dulled and less bright than applied on top of white primer.

Enter the drybrushed white primer on top of the black primed layer.

omg-wip-whiteprime

I was a little rough with the drybrushing on this big model, as most of the surface was meant to simulate stone anyway.

(So rough the right arm fell off. Cue hasty ball of clay propping up the re-attached and heavily superglued limb into position.)

The idea of drybrushing white primer is to lift out all the surface detail (which would be there on a less amateurishly sculpted model) while leaving black in the crevices, giving some instant contrast.

Step 2: Basecoat

omg-wip-basecoat

In this case, I did end up obliterating most of the primer contrast when I added the grey basecoat since it was more of a slapdash preliminary test of contrast.

You may notice I smear a lot of paint on the supporting paper.

After learning one too many times the hard way why one should not apply an unknown glop of paint directly onto a model, it’s just a habit I developed to test how much paint is loaded onto my brush.

(I find tissue too absorbent for this, and while testing it out on one’s nail or thumb does work, it nets you a lot of strange looks later when your thumbnail is streaked with multicolor acrylics and is a bitch to scrape off, even with soap and water and plenty of scrubbing.)

Step 3: Wash (Shading / Color tinting)

omg-wip-dirtwash

It was a little too grey, so instead of simply washing with a darker grey to add shadows, I opted for a thinned down layer of brown and let it pool in the recesses to simulate more of a dirt / granite look.

Step 4: More Painting Steps Combined into One

omg-wip-drybrushafterwash

The lighting is a bit bright in this shot, but lighter greys were subsequently drybrushed in layers to create a more ‘rough stone’ textured look.

The brown wash got added to the untouched black-and-white primed rock and turned it fairly interesting and differently rock-like right off the bat.

A blue basecoat was applied to the cubes that were going to be ‘power crystals.’

While I was now more or less satisfied with the ‘stone-ness’ of the main body parts, it was becoming obvious that the model was too big and low detail for a simple wash and drybrushing to provide sufficient contrast.

Step 5: Layering – Shading to Highlighting

omg-wip-shading

Enter a slightly clumsy recollection of a more advanced painting technique.

Layering involves thin layers of paint, applied more carefully than washing all over the model with a thin layer of paint or drybrushing across the entire model.

Shade is applied in areas which are likely to be in shadow. In this case, a thin layer of black paint was used – note the translucency. The basecoat color (and my painstaking stone texture) is meant to still show up under it.

omg-wip-reapplybase

Then from black, we go back up to the basecoat grey, a thin layer again, to blend with the shadows and smooth out any clumsy brushstrokes of black that may have gone in places not meant to be black.

omg-wip-firsthighlight

A little white is mixed with the basecoat grey to get a lighter grey color as the first highlight.

This is where the magic starts to happen after all the previous patient steps. The highlight is applied on all the raised areas where one would expect light to hit.

And you can start to see the forms take on a more defined look with contrast that wasn’t there before.

omg-wip-highlights

We push the contrast even further with one more layer of highlight, grey mixed with even more white, and add it to the very tips and edges.

Really dedicated painters do even more layers for the smoothest blends. I could have done more smoothing of the black and grey parts, for example, but I was already getting too excited and eager to finish.

Power crystals were highlighted up in the same manner and I was happy to call it done. For now.

omg-oblique-small

The photos were duly submitted along with the design idea, a siege golem specialized for that last bastion of WvW – fortified walls.

Trebs take forever. I overheard a guy wanting a siege tower to roll right up to the walls and unload the zerg off. Well, who needs those when this beaut could stomp right up and tear that frickin’ wall down?

It needed a name just like the Omega Golem so that “OMG OMG OMG” would be a great abbreviation for when folks see a bunch of either golem trundle up to their keep.

Thus, the Omicron Golem was born.

omg-front

And I had just the right Asuran designer for it too.

Greetings and salutations!

Fortified walls in the Mist War get you down? I bring to you the next evolution of siege golem, just as game-changing as the Omega Golem from an Alpha.

The Omicron Golem is designed to tackle what the Alphas and Omegas cannot, the solid stone and metal structures of a keep left too long in enemy hands. Why endure primitive bookah technology like catapults and trebuchets pounding away for eons when you can roll up in air-conditioned comfort and direct the Omicron to deconstruct fortifications just as rapidly as Omegas on gates?

Inspired by a historical image discovered in an old abandoned asuran lab, and re-utilizing salvaged Inquest technology for better purposes, this new design marries the latest in eco-friendly thaumafusion power crystals with the robustness and longevity of a proven golem construction material: granite.

It is eventually biodegradeable, but will last you centuries! (See footnote 1 in small print.)

Its four-legged chassis is able to navigate rough terrain where wheels or bipedal models may operate at severely reduced efficiencies. Its three-digit hands are numerically efficient, with each digit able to rotate independently and form a claw or hook as required for grasping material or a shovel for earth-moving. Its camera and vision functions are programmed for wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to x-rays to best determine optimal areas of weaknesses to attack a fortification.

An add-on purchase can be made for lens crystals and arcane mirrors that generate a defensive laser beam from its eye. Other optional add-ons include cushioned seats for asura and bookah sizes, an audio-generator that automatically provides music for optimum relaxed alertness or aggression as the situation dictates, and an excellent espresso machine.

No sentient creatures were harmed in the making of this golem.

Yours truly,
Shudd
Genius Inventor, Pact Commander, and the distinctly better half of
Shudd & Shodd’s Agency for World Domination

1: Claim does not apply in eventualities such as hostile acts of the enemy, civil commotion, sabotage, or other unforeseen acts of gods. Fire, flood and earthquakes may increase wear-and-tear and induce diminished operating lifespan.

I’m really glad Gazimoff liked it, because now I have a virtual mini to go with the RL one too.

Mr Sparkles is absolutely awesome.

And this guy fits in the palm of my hand pretty snugly.

A little blurry
A little blurry, alas, but the only pic I have that shows off the crab look.

P.S. World domination plans are coming along nicely, says Shudd.

GW2: Thaumanova and the Mists

"Time stabilizer damaged. He's unstuck in time. Zathras warned, but no one listen to Zathras, no."

I’m going further and further down the rabbit hole here. The more I read up on stuff and poke around things in-game, the more bits and pieces are starting to suspiciously come together.

Still groping for the most part, but some things that sounded odd and were initially dismissed seem to have a deeper second meaning.

It’s hard to know where to start and how to situate you all in this bizarre layer of theories, but I’ll try to begin where I did this time around.

It begins with Dessa.

She says she is the krewe chief of the fractals project. And there’s a lot about her that seems “off.”

First of all, she assumes you’re here as volunteers and she’ll be your experiment manager. She makes reference to something she calls “Mistlock” which seems to be some kind of process to stabilize bits of the Mists. In fact, that seems to be her dream and ambition:

“I can’t believe I made explorable chunks of reality from the Mists. I’ve dreamed of doing it for so long. Now, it’s real.”

“We can now lock down and enter any point in the Mists. The legacy code of Tyria is ours to explore, assuming it doesn’t collapse.”

Hang on, let’s backtrack a bit. What the hell are the Mists to begin with?

themists

Well, in the lore of Guild Wars (1 and 2), the Mists appear to be the fabric of space/time themselves.

Jeff Grub from a Guild Mag interview describes them as:

“The Mists are the building blocks of reality, the proto-reality that exists between the worlds. It is where we find afterlifes and the homes of the various gods and other powerful entities. The Mists also resonate from the worlds around them, such that they form bits of their own reality – islands of existence that reflect the histories of their worlds.”

According to the wiki, the Mists are further described as only being accessible via portals.

Previously these portals seem to be created by vast expenditures of magic and link to only one place (see history as described by wiki) but Dessa seems to have the magi-technology to target different parts of the Mists.

(But so far, besides the uncategorized fractal which is…as yet uncategorized, only the past. Discrete sections of the past. No futures in there, says Scott McGough.)

But hang on again, WHOSE past are we talking about?

dessa

My google-fu isn’t strong enough to locate any other links, but surely someone has commented on the futuristic style of clothing that Dessa is wearing?

littlestormtroopers

Even the rest of her krewe look like miniature stormtroopers.

I leave this as an exercise for my readers (mostly because I haven’t taken screenshots yet) but we may want to compare these guys’ helmets to the Steam mechataur creatures. To me, they look suspiciously similar in style.

Are there any other asura in our present day Tyria that look like these guys?

Where the hell do they really come from? Or WHEN?

Could they be from that alternate future reality that we are positing exists? The one that has magi-tech and steampunk styles all over the place, is probably full of Aetherblade pirates and Steam creatures, likely contains a money-grubbing group known as the Consortium, and very possibly contains a Conclave and a Grand High Sovereign?

Dessa certainly recognizes the name Consortium. “Those money-grubbing connivers? It’s bad enough I lost my boyfriend to those shady “businessmen.” Take my advice: reject their advances. Nothing good will come of their machinations.”

In our reality, they still seem pretty harmless, just creating gift shops and tourist attractions. They don’t seem to have gotten that sort of “corporate evil” vibe that I may be reading too much into what Dessa says.

And she says one more thing. When asked about how they got connected to the gate in Lion’s Arch, where we entered from, she exhibits confusion. “Lion’s Arch? No, there must be a misunderstanding. We’d never launch this lab from that pirate haven.”

Well, yes, our Lion’s Arch is a united gathering of pirate captains forming a peaceful haven of trade and diplomacy to go fight dragons.

But could LA be an Aetherblade pirate haven in Dessa’s reality?

Let’s go look at the portal gates in Lion’s Arch.

normalgate

Normal tame asura gates look like this. They shimmer with magical energy and transport us from place to place.

fractalgate

The fractals gate looks like this.

Seriously, go -look- at it yourself. There’s VIOLENT lightning strikes crackling across its surface every couple of seconds. (And I’ve been jumping into this thing all the while with nary a care. Aieeee.)

If you talk to the Lionguard guarding the gate, he tells you that this… doorway appeared instead when some asura tried to open a gate to an island. (Presumably a reference to Consortium/Southsun, but I’m not chasing down that rabbit tunnel just yet.)

When we go through, we end up in the Fractals of the Mists. OF THE MISTS.

The crackly lightning gate appears to symbolize getting access to The Mists, where little pockets of various realities/pasts/reflections of worlds are floating like islands, unstuck in time.

Let’s take a trip to Metrica Province and go look at the Thaumanova Reactor.

thaumanova

We’ve all seen it before. It’s a gigantic sprawling dark stone structure that is suspiciously (to me anyway) open to the elements.

Full of asuran architecture and Inquest-y technological trappings, sections of it echo the Elder Dragons’ elemental magic, though it’s unclear if these existed pre or post explosion. Chaos magic is raging all around, displaced monsters are popping in unstuck in space or time, and most importantly for this post, there is also a honking big portal if you amble over to the center and look up.

thaumaportal

No, I mean it. Go there yourself and look up. The camera angle is really tough to screenshot, and those animated lightning flashes are tricky to capture in a still image, but there is as much violent lightning energy crackling across the surface of the portal over Thaumanova as the… doorway in Lion’s Arch.

Probably more because this portal is fucking huge.

How huge? Well, it’s like covering the roof of where a second floor might have once been…

…Could the Thaumanova Reactor have been a LOT bigger than it is now?

Could a chunk of it have actually been broken and hurled through the… doorway now hovering above the reactor and ended up in The Mists?

File:Uncategorized Fractal 2.jpg
Credit: Pic from GW2 wiki, I ran out of energy trying to solo the last fight just to get to this cutscene.

We know what the Raving Asura says, right?

Raving Asura: “Breach! Broken! Falling! Screaming! Dying!”
Raving Asura: “I couldn’t save them. I heard them all. Pleading. All gone. All on my watch!”

Could something have breached the security of the reactor?

Could something (or someones) have broken an important part of the reactor?

There would naturally be a lot of falling, screaming and dying as a result.

I wish I could tell you I sacrificed myself to get you this screenie, but it's just me sucking and failing to figure out how to manage the damage from this fight.
I wish I could tell you I sacrificed myself to get you this screenie, but it’s just me sucking and failing to figure out how to manage the damage from this fight.

The clothing style of the raving asura unfortunately doesn’t give anything away. He’s using a standard for our time asura style staff, he’s in what seems like dark brown medium armor and has a monocle/eyepatch thingy, and has poofy grey hair – which might be his usual hairstyle, or just overall meant to simulate a Rip Van Winkle hermit look.

Another possible link:

holdingcell2

There are holding cells in the Uncategorized fractal – containing a Flame Shaman charr, a human bandit saboteur, an ettin and a rabbit. Holding cells, we know, are the main purview of the Inquest.

And we know the Thaumanova Reactor was an Inquest facility, where they were researching on a Thaumacore Energy Source (which they later moved to the Thaumacore Inquiry Center after the exposion) and Elder Dragon magic (which they later rebuilt as the Infinite Coil Reactor and Crucible of Eternity to continue their research.)

uncategorizedtop

Dessa, too, has some kind of reaction on seeing this fractal. It’s just not very clear what because she doesn’t reveal much of any emotion over the line she’s using. She just needed to leave for a while, and then comes back later and apologizes for her absence.

It’s possible that’s an indication she recognizes it, but possibly not in this configuration and can’t quite put two and two together as to what happened.

The name for this fractal is Uncategorized, after all.

Maybe in her reality, the Thaumanova Reactor never blew up.

Seeing it in pieces in what is supposed to be Tyria’s past is perhaps a paradox that floors her for long enough to shut off communication with her lab rats and try to puzzle it out.

"I don't wanna be a lab rat. Can I go home now?"
“I don’t wanna be a lab rat. Can I go home now?”

We leave now the shores of plausible theory to venture further into speculation.

I started scouring the Guild Wars timeline because I suddenly realized there are actually documented yearly dates attached to some of these historical events.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any documented source on when exactly the Thaumanova Reactor blew up. We know it’s pretty recent an event, but not exactly how recent.

It’s recent enough that they’re still dealing with the fallout in the present day, but far back in the past for the Inquest to have built replacement facilities.

Stay with me here, it’s a bumpy ride…

Now I’m going to build on my hunch that we ourselves are going to enter the Thaumanova Reactor in the to-be-built fractal and blow shit up, because if we don’t, we face an alternate reality of magitech horror and villainy.

I’m going to assume the explosion caused realities to diverge somehow – in one reality, the reactor never blew and we enter our future world  of magitech steampunk villainy, in another reality – ours – the tragedy happened but yielded our present-day racially united renaissance fantasy heroic world.

Dessa recognizes the name Lion’s Arch. Now LA has existed since GW1, so that doesn’t tell us very much, but it’s a pirate haven for her.

She doesn’t go, oh the capital of Kryta (GW1), oh that flooded ruins? (circa 1219 AE)

Lion’s Arch slowly became a haven for pirates and the LA we know today was founded by Cobiah Marriner somewhen around 1230-1231 AE… I think. I haven’t read the Sea of Sorrows novel yet. That is probably our lowest bounds for when Thaumanova blew up in our day, and my personal guess is that it’s a lot more recent than that.

This rather nixes the part of my theory that the explosion could have released/formed the Elder Dragons themselves because those bad boys were operating way before that. In hindsight, they had servants dating back to GW1 and were perplexing the ancient races like mursaat and what not, so yeah, the Elder Dragons long existed, they’re forces of nature/magic and that bit of speculation is all hogwash, forget it.

But we need another piece of baseless speculation to replace it now, don’t we?

Let’s look at the timeline at very recent historical events. Two events stand out rather prominently to me:

1325 AE Guild Wars 2 story begins.

1320 AE Kralkatorrik, the Elder Crystal Dragon, awakens. Creation of the Dragonbrand. Breaking of Destiny’s Edge. Founding of the Vigil. Glint is killed by Kralkatorrik.

1302 AE The sylvari first appear along the Tarnished Coast, sprouting from the Pale Tree.

If the Thaumanova Reactor blew up five years ago, could it be tied somehow with the waking of the Crystal Dragon? There are linkages of chaos magic / Thaumanova Reactor lore with the Chaos Crystal Caverns – the Injured Inquest Researcher talks about the twinning effect of the crystals they were using at the reactor affecting the ones in the cavern.

That’s the more logical, has links in-game, speculation.

Of course, I like the wild and crazy theories the best.

According to the wiki, golden fruit appeared on the branches on the Pale Tree over one hundred years later after Ventari passed away in 1180AE, leaving his tablet behind. In 1302 AE, the fruit opened to reveal the first Sylvari.

If the Thaumanova Reactor blew up anywhere from 23-45 years ago, could the wave of chaotic magical energy have fueled the possibly premature rousing of what are speculated to be the jungle dragon Mordremoth’s minions? Except with him still snoozing, they have no guidance except to turn to this convenient guidebook lying at the foot of their tree, producing Tyria’s youngest and most recent race.

In Dessa’s reality, this would not have happened. Sylvari might still be evil servants of the jungle dragon. And of course, we’re now dealing with a lunatic sylvari by name of Scarlet Briar that exhibits some very strange abilities and seems to have some familiarity with alternate realities/portals/stuff.

I’d talk about Mad King Thorn and all the jungle-bramble-plant-death theme that seems to be happening here, but that’s just reaching now, even for me.

Over to you all. Believable or no?

GW2: The Slimy Asura’s Guide to Southsun Survival

Basic information about the new GW2 minigame can be found at Dulfy’s.

Suggestions for Bookahs Trying to Survive:

1) Arm yourself well at the beginning. Make a grab for a weapon like the pistol or a pipe and see if you can get a free kill or two for a slight point lead at the start.

Demonstrating the head shot bow draw. This slimy fellow is also asking to get shot in the back... (see below.)
Demonstrating the head shot bow draw. This slimy fellow out in the open is also asking to get shot in the back… (see below for grand plan.)

2) Be aware of what the head shot animation looks like. Your options are: Dodge this with good timing, run out of range, use scenery to obstruct line of sight, or use bow 1 to interrupt them. Have eyes in the back of your head. Be paranoid. Suspect everybody of being out to get you. Look up, down, all around. Be wary of locations where people may be respawning during grace period too.

3) Make a beeline south for the rations from passiflora and stock up on as many as possible. Be aware that some may have a bomb trap already in-built and get ready to run off/dodge away if needed. Be aware of the normal places passiflora spawn and where suspicious lone flora are merely passiflora traps that will explode on proximity. Preferably be the first to get to them so you don’t have to worry about smarter players dumping a trap in the same place where real passiflora spawn.

4) If well stocked on rations, 5+ or more, enter hiding sequence. Find secluded place, preferably out of the way and high up so ghosts find it tougher to get to you and ruin your day, or in the water and only come to random spots of shore to heal up. Move as little as possible so that you do not run into any traps placed by ghosts. Stay super alert for the rumble of a karka being summoned and have a backup place to hide, preferably out of LOS of said karka.

5) If not well stocked, it’s going to come down to luck and good reflexes. Go hunting. Find someone, preferably with lots of rations, and do your best to kill them and loot their rations. Be aware that scavenging produces revenge motes, so if you’ve produced an angry ghost or two in your bid to survive, do try to lose them or at least not give them 10 motes to work with to kill you. You’re probably still screwed anyway. There’s only one survivor out of twenty.

But really, all surviving does is give you some temporary satisfaction, a splendid chest with a bit more support tokens and silver and a bad case of paranoia, suspicion and nerves. And frustration when you don’t survive (which is pretty good odds) and have garnered very little points because you were so focused on staying away from anything that might kill you.

(Unless you’re so awesome that you’re consistently winning – folks like you don’t need to read guides to outsmart the dumb competition anyway.)

No, where it’s really at, what MOST people want, is the “achievement get.”

Played games just take patience and time. Head shots, just scavenge arrows, keep spamming head shot and you’ll eventually get lucky. 2,500 points?! Will you not be an old cranky asura or an old dead bookah by that time?

No.

Embrace the freedom that comes from giving up your splendid chest dreams now. You can still get the Desert Rose skin from normal chests. They drop like candy anyway if the TP price is anything to go by. I have two and I wasn’t even trying. And you can buy them with 200 fortune scraps, which also drop like candy from kite fortunes.

You will be playing a new game of maximizing your point score.

I assure you, it will be lots more fun than running your arse off and cowering in caves trying to hide, and then either haunting people as an angry ghost trying to get them killed or giving up and waiting in bored frustration for the game to end.

The Over-Arcing Grand Strategy for Point Domination

1) Use the grace period to score kills. Fuck rations. Eat them when low on health to keep yourself alive and deny other people the eventual loot. Grab a weapon, pound peoples’ heads in. 5 points per kill. Get a trap? Set it immediately and let someone trip it in the crowd. Who knows, he may be low on health and die from it, giving you 5 points. If not, 2 points.

Maybe keep the passiflora trap if you want to be cunning and dump it right on top of a real spawn, but you’re probably not going to survive the grace period either with this strat. Use it or lose it to someone else. Scavenge an arrow or two. Immediately turn around and off somebody. 1 point per hit, 5 if you get a kill. Preferably someone not looking at you and who is busy bending down to scavenge. Head shot if you can. Shoot a quick shot on people low on health from others also sniping.

2) You want to look like a total griefing asshat and make a few enemies who got shot in the back. If you do this well, you will look pretty scary and end up with a settlement to scavenge and trap by yourself (until an angry respawner makes their way back.) If you do die at this stage by accident or getting shot in the back yourself, you will look like a harmless idiot who may be just farming the head shot achievement and is absolutely no threat and a free kill to be attacked when opportunity arises. Win-win.

3) Do your best to stay in the vicinity of the Refugee Camp (where Kiel’s Outpost WP is on the real Southsun Cove map) where you start at, or the northeast most camp (Pride Point WP) because there will be a crazy amount of revenge motes from everyone shooting each other and scavenging here. You’ve a 50% chance of turning up here each time you die anyway – either on the Pride Point ship or in the Kiel outpost camp. (The other two places are at the bar on the southeast resort beach or the Under New Management jumping puzzle roof.)

4) The moment the grace period ends, DIE. Commit suicide. If you did your annoyance job properly, there should be a ton of people aiming a bow at you. It may help to be asura – people love to pick on the small obnoxious ones. Stay still and let them off you. Failing which, run into a trap (run around like a headless chicken with torment on and let hunger do its work too) or a karka.

5) If you did this right, you’ll be the first one dead, preferably in the middle of the camp where twenty people scavenged with their greedy little hands and where ten people probably had a bit of a scrum.

A modest haul. Mostly for screenshot demo purposes. There was a bit more behind me, and I've had even better ones when things go right.
A modest haul. Mostly for screenshot demo purposes. There was a bit more behind me, and I’ve had even better ones when things go really right.

6) Have a ghostly orgasm at the sight and pac-man up the revenge motes. Toss a karka up and vacuum up more. Just be careful not to create too much competition for the motes until you’ve grabbed mostly all of them.

7) Now that you’re a ghost, you are safe. No one can harm you. You do not need to keep looking over your shoulder. You can race around the island with skill 5 spam. You are free. You could do like the bookahs do, find a live one and kill them. But why kill your source of points? That orange dot is your new pet. Follow him, get a little bit ahead of him, and drop the teleport trap 1. If he is a nice, predictable person, he will be rushing ahead and tripping them, giving you 2 points per trap tripped. If he is more canny, then it gets a little bit harder and turns into a fun minigame of predict where he is going in order to score your 2 points. You’ve got 15 motes to use, anyway.

If he stays still, you have a number of options. If you’re really good at judging distances, it seems to be possible for the trap to be triggered by a stationary person if you manage to place the edge right on them. You could wait for them to move, wander off to find someone else more accomodating or just pac-man more points elsewhere, or spend 10 motes to summon a karka which will almost certainly make them move, if only a little, depending on how shrewd they are. Calling the karka pretty much totals your point-garnering ability and moves you back into the regular ghost-griefing territory of ordinary bookahs.

8) The grand plan may have to be altered on the fly as the situation dictates. If you end up respawning away from revenge mote central, you want to either get killed again before grace period ends or just grab a few more kills with whoever is around and go back to playing bookah style, especially if you luck into killing someone who harvested a ton of rations. A poor run like that may yield 30 points. Aim for a more achievable average run of 50 points, and if all goes well, it is very possible to be Top Scorer with upwards of 70-100+ points, You still won’t get the splendid chest, since yer dead, but you’ll have cut down on the number of repeat Southsun Survival trials to be done if you’re going for the achievement.

I'm not a survivor! (What?) But who needs "Final Survivor" to get a good score?
I’m not a survivor! (What?) But who needs “Final Survivor” to get a good score?

And now the tongue-out-of-cheek analysis:

I surprisingly find this game quite tolerable despite the FFA PvP nature of it and the built-in griefing-permitted design.

I suspect that it’s a combination of factors helping my acceptance along. One, the game fits the Survivor or Hunger Games-style stuff to a thematic T. Backstabbing, randomness, arbitrary unfairness, very temporary alliances, ruthlessness and drama are all part of this genre. It’s a Gnashblade game, it’s meant to be a selfish, conniving, one person wins at the expense of everyone else type of affair.

Two, the player does have some control over his or her fate, as long as they have good strategy and alert reflexes. The first few games, one will fall victim to some seemingly arbitrary happenings, but one eventually learns that game karka will spawn at camps as time wears on, rendering them inactive (to speed the game up and increase fatalities) so don’t linger too long at them, that player karka can be summoned if ghosts are given too many revenge motes through your actions and can reach you, and how to try to avoid traps (move erratically, jump up and off stuff in different directions, swim, climb up where ghosts find it hard to get to, etc.)

Three, the minigame creates opportunities for some hilarious short player-created narratives through emergence – there was the time another player and I duked it out with like one arrow flying between the both of us for the rations each of us was carrying. I had less rations and more arrows. I had to attack him. He dodged. He shot. I dodged. He ran out of arrows and I had one arrow remaining. Unfortunately I lost because I made the mistake of not canceling the head shot animation and he dodged it, then ran away. In retrospect, I should have just humped him until he got low and had to pause to eat rations or die.

Or the time I stalked a player in ghostly form as they swam across to the far shore (where the less known reef skelk are on the real map) and karka’ed them just as they presumably thought they had gotten away with it.

Or head-shotting another player who was trying to head shot another person. It’s a pretty frequent occurrence and have occasionally been victim to it myself.

There are just some tremendously good “LOL” moments to offset the pain of not being able to “win” this time, especially for those watching as a ghost. Cathartic, maybe.

Catharsis is having your pet karka area deny a camp and kill a few people. It comes with a guild tag, so everyone knows it's you.
Catharsis is having your pet karka area deny a camp and kill a few people. It comes with a guild tag, so everyone knows it’s yours.

(It’s also hard to take death and losing personally when you know 18 other people didn’t win either. And if there’s one person consistently winning, they may eventually make enough enemies to sabotage their future runs in true Survivor reality games fashion.)

And finally, the game and achievements do not place winning and being the last man standing on a pedestal for frustrated players to stare longingly at. Everyone participating gets to take back a support token, a green and some silver in the chest for their time spent playing this (as opposed to say, running CoF1 non-stop) so it is worth just having some fun with it. For whatever definitions of fun you prefer.

I did actually win two games by chance before I decided just to point-whore, so it is doable. I don’t have the ping (other people consistently beat me to the campfire supplies, and WvW supply camps, for that matter) or reflexes (mis-timing head shot dodges are the death of me) to do it consistently, but people in the right geographic location may.

I really like that there are multiple possible games-within-games to be played here. One can strive for a decent number of points per game, one can play with headshots and death match it out if they feel like it, one can just enjoy the sensation of griefing living players as a ghost (some people like the schadenfreude, I guess) or one can play the “proper” hunger survival game.

It’s sort of similar to Team Fortress in that sense. Yes, there’s an overall objective. But some people may just be enjoying their own personal sniper headshot game, or spy backstab game, or seeing how many people they and their sentries can gib and infuriate to the point of seeing players change class to spy and come as a group just to get past that nuisance of an engineer (guilty as charged.)

Giving more players the opportunity to feel like they are winners of their own personal little game makes the whole thing more popular, or at least, more well-received.