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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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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: Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?

aka The Dilemma of Playing Realistic Female Characters in an MMO

I made my female Norn warrior last night, having decided to use some of that gold for a character slot after all.

Immediately, I was of mixed minds whether I should be keeping her.

This isn’t just the standard complaint of boobs and skin peeping out of convenient holes in armor that would be delicious for an attacker to stick a sword into, though.

Yes, we know GW2 suffers from a “first impressions” presentation problem.

defaultfemwarrior

The default appearance for several kinds of female professions delights in showing off skin and boob plates. This one’s not too bad though, it harkens back to the old Jora look (though she herself seemed designed to be one of those pinup girl faces of GW1) and you should see the female human light armor problems.

I’ve always been cool with that because as a well-educated GW2 fan, I am aware that this game has options beyond the barbie doll sex appeal look that is immediately attractive to the most populous youthful male demographic.

What I didn’t quite realize was how tricky reaching those options would be, while still looking like a character I’d want to play.

The default face and hair settings started making me a little depressed because a majority of them seemed tilted toward “female human” cute and perky.

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OMG. DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A NORN TO YOU?

The body defaults weren’t any better.

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The choice seemed to be between various shades of anorexic or downright plump.

(I’ll at least give Anet kudos for including the last option, though it wasn’t at all appealing to imagine myself running a giant fat lady character through the world and wondering what kinds of whispers I was going to get from other players. While it may be an amusing side goal to get them all 72 hour banned for harassment, I would actually just want to play the game here with a character that doesn’t attract abnormal amounts of attention.)

dorkyhelmet

Let’s not even talk about how dorky the helmets look, shall we? (Where the fuck did my hair go?)

Maybe my take on the lore isn’t as strong as I’d like, but I always envisioned most Norns to be big, trending toward the muscular, possibly Amazonian in stature.

Anyhow, because that is the type of character I am trying to make on a -roleplaying- server that values a lore-appropriate look, LET ME make the mannish, not immediately pretty and possibly somewhat homely, stern lady warrior concept in my head already.

I persisted. GW2 supports options. GW2’s character creation has sliders. There must be a way.

A great deal of slider pulling later, creating some of the awful-looking faces possible in the manner of most unskilled players operating sliders in character creation (ok, at least GW2 has that option for scarily ugly if you want it – click the link only if you’re prepared to see what greets people zoning into the Heart of the Mists on Tarnished Coast, they’re pretty famous), trying to get the closest I could to the character concept in my head, I eventually settled on a vaguely piratical, square-faced, stern-jawed appearance, complete with scars and bandana.

yarrillmakeyouwalktheplank

I still wasn’t sure whether I’d achieved believably realistic, or just plain fucking ugly.

(Something about the distance of the eyes still nags at me slightly, but I’ll be damned if I go through all that slider pulling in character creation again.)

You might ask, why was I so obsessed with how “I” looked.

Good question, I kept asking myself that too.

I think I just knew that walking around as a tall giant character draws eyes, and every last detail on the model is a lot easier to see on a Norn than say… a human or sylvari, let alone an asura. If something looks “off,” it’s just going to be a lot more obvious than say, some lil guy’s three toes sticking out of shoes that don’t fit.

Then I landed in the world and hit the Norn problem. An outsized avatar runs slowly. It also runs like a human female, complete with little dainty dance of the hands, that on a giant character make it look like a waddle.

I was already having second and third thoughts about going through with this.

I ended up taking her into the Heart of the Mists to check both the PvP locker to see if future skins held any hopes of looking good (minus about half of the options for ridiculous skin and boob designs, minus another quarter or third of the options for being plain butt ugly, there were a -few- left that seemed to hold some promise) and test out the combat animations for various weapons (which I have to say, I rather liked. Or found quite passable indeed.)

One of the reasons for why I wanted a Norn Female character is because they’re voiced by Claudia Christian (she of Babylon 5 fame.) I wanted to hear that voice acting through my personal story.

But I was really not sure if I was okay running around with an oddly proportioned giant lady towering over everyone in towns like a bad B movie.

Since the character was already made, I eventually decided that I’d take her at least up to level 10, where the personal story would drop a black lion key I could hoard and see if things got better or if she grew on me, or if I was going to continue feeling awkward and generally “not feeling it” for the character.

loreofgiants

It wasn’t so bad among other Norns in Hoelbrak or Wayfarer Foothills, though I developed a habit of running up to every NPC to measure my height and check if I looked out of the ordinary against other Norn females. (What the hell was happening to me? Why this sudden obsession about my self-image?)

I even met a Jotun giant who was taller than all the Norn who told some interesting stories about the Age of the Giants, of which Norn and Jotun shared a certain common heritage apparently. Thinking about it that way made me feel better, that I was part of a race of giants, rather than an awkward over-sized female human that vaguely resembled Xena and could look fat at certain unflattering camera angles.

None of which was probably going to help me the moment I hit a human proportioned town or have nosy asura looking up my skirt though.

Still dancing with the idea of deletion, I decided to hit the Hall of Monuments to see if a good (armor) skin and dye job could help.

tookyoulongenoughtogethere

It did.

Oh my fucking lord, how it did.

I suppose some of the problem was that the lowbie heavy armor was plain ugly, no matter what character you put it on.

I put on heritage armplates, leggings and boots, which gave me plate armor on all the extremities you’d expect a tall giant lady to have in contact with shorter beings in combat (also functions great to boot a nosy asura with), and left the top in chainmail for better flexibility (the better to reach over and thwap you with a gigantic sword.)

I was also surprised how good the default Ebony dye came out on this particular armor for Norns. It’s almost a true black. (On all my other characters, it’s always been a more dark grey.)

As everyone knows, black is slimming.

Add on Stone and Matte for shiny metal highlights, some Tarnished Steel for variation, and the end result is something I could probably live with.

surprisinglymuchbetter

At least for another 10-20 levels, where I might re-evaluate again once I get to non-Norn proportioned settlements.

Still can’t do anything about the dorky helmets though.

*Hides them all*

GW2: Asura Guardian Style

For lack of anything better to write about before the oncoming patch which we are anticipating with equal parts glee and trepidation – will my favorite spirit weapons ever attain more usefulness than being relegated to a PvE anything goes farming build? How badly are glamour mesmers hit by the confusion change and will those damnable mistform elementalists actually fall over and die for once? What other surprise are in store for us, etc…

… I thought I’d show off some of my lil asura’s heavy armor fashions.

Bear in mind, I like to dress up on a budget, and certainly cannot afford all Tier 3 cultural armor right now:

Me in my early days, contemplating an infallible murder scenario for the other guy's armor. Decided he'd turn around and kill me instead.

Me in my early days, in the standard crafted exotic armor, contemplating an infallible murder scenario for the other guy’s armor. Reached the conclusion he’d turn around and kill me instead and snuck away. (Picture courtesy of rich PiNK guy.)

Well, if you’re rich, abyss and celestial goes with anything and anything bright colored looks nice on the glowy parts of T3 asura armor.

For the rest of us, there’s still ways to look fancy and unique. I’ve seen a gladiator-sparta style gold/red asura running around, and a Marvin the Martian-colored one too. Alas, I forgot screenshots so you can imagine them instead.

This is actually my third set of armor. I was experimenting with different stat combinations and by the time I got around to the standard PTV gear, it was easier to just pick up the Orr Karma temple armor and be done with it.

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I like to think that it matches my chicken.

I had gotten tired of transmuting by this point (I only have a limited number of those crystals from map exploration, y’know) and decided to stick with the look, but try something different with the dyes. I also wanted something light colored to easily differentiate for myself which armor I was wearing when, as my other two sets are darker colored.

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winterkarmapalette

The brightest and most expensive dye in here is Winter Ice, which sets one back half a gold or thereabouts. I just happened to have it, so I used it for the skulls and the highlights.

Sea Ice is the main color, a very white-ish green that gives a tinge of sickly Orr, which feels rather appropriate for stuff that comes from Orr.

The last color is Blue Shade, which again I happened to have, and fits the ‘cool’ palette versus a more warm color. But I bet any dark chainmail-y color would be fine as a contrast too.

The one thing that’ll really set you back in terms of Asuran armor is if you’re a stickler for clipping. I gave up with helms because I like my asura’s ears and face showing. And ears sticking out of helmets with no visible holes is a big no for me. You could pick up a cultural helm, I guess, but they all look kinda daft to me except maybe T3, and that’s a 20 gold bomb right there. So much easier to hide helm and show off the snotty face I worked so hard on.

There’s one thing that pisses me off about the above armor set. My toes. They stick out. These shoes are not meant for asura feet. If they didn’t have spikes on and complement the rest of the set, I’d throw them out. But as of now, I just close an eye because I bought better stuff for the other two sets and I’m broke.

Here’s set number 2. The realistic dark-themed blue and grey gold-ish but dark and shadowy style.

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invader2

It matches the day time Ascalonian Catacombs hammer surprisingly well.

It started out as an entire WvW invader armor set, because I’m, you know, broke, and spend all my days in WvW (which explains the lack of monies part) and looked very decent if basic when colored appropriately. I was especially fond of the shoulder and armguards.

But I had cultural T2 chest and leggings left over from my first vanity dress up set, and those toes sticking out of my boots pissed me off, so I bought the booties as well.

The coat sets you back 2 gold, but I think it’s worth it as it gives a bulkier power-armored look to the asura. The leggings may or may not be necessary, 1.5 gold. The 80 silver boots that actually fit my toes are pretty worth it too, imo, but you could probably do without if you don’t look at your asura’s feet much.

For sure, no one else will, they don’t even see most of an asura anyway, it’s you that will be looking at yourself most often. 🙂

invaderpalette

Colors: Tarnished Steel, Blue Shade and Burnished Steel. Super cheap dyes, but if you ask me, super sexy color complement too.

Now vanity set 3, or to be truthful, the first set I put together because I wanted to splurge a bit and look cool, while still on a “modest” budget.

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The main goal here is the glow. And if you look really carefully, the main bang of the T3 cultural armor glow is from the shoulders and boots. Sure, every piece glows and adds to the effect, but I’m not -that- fucking rich. The protruding glowy bits are from the shoulder and boots. The boots, thankfully, are “only” 12 gold, but the very sexy shoulders will set you back 20 gold. (Ouch.)

It broke half my bank at the time, but it was worth it.

I cheat here and add the heavenly bracers from the GW1 Hall of Monuments rewards, because it also glows quite prettily. The downside is that it does clip. (But you know, no one looks that close at asura anyway.)

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The chest and leggings are left as the standard crafted draconic armor. This, I must warn, does cause the sheathed weapon to clip the shoulders a little at the back. But well, if your weapon is out all the time, who’s gonna notice?

I had actually considered swapping in the T2 chest and leggings at one point, which I think would also look very good in compact bulky power armored fashion, and might avoid the clipping issue (not tested though, the T3 chest probably takes into account T3 shoulders, but egads, it’s 30 gold.)

Eventually, I decided I liked the slimness of the chest as contrasted with the bulky attachments, and the winged skirt/kilt/robe of the leggings grew on me. You see, I am a big Warhammer 40k fan, and the T3 asura armor looks a heckuva lot like very sexy space marines power armor for tiny people.

And while you probably could use any decent color complement on such sexy armor and have it look good, I decided to recreate a Dark Angels theme and color scheme, just to see if I could. Mainly dark green, cream/bone, robes, winged/angel stuff, red accents.

You can, and it even sorta kinda matches the red golem mini from the HoM.

You can, and it even sorta kinda matches the red golem mini from the HoM.

The main color is Emerald, which will set you back 28-30 silver or so, but it’s the best dark green I can find right now. The secondary cream color is Frosting.

Because of the mixed armor, the palette is a little more complicated.

Because of the mixed armor, the palette is a little more complicated.

The silver chainmail part is Frost, and I used a lighter Evergreen as the last chest color merely because I’d bought a bunch of cheap green dyes to find the best. You could make it Emerald with very little difference, but the Evergreen just makes it a little brighter.

The fun bit is the glow can be any damn color you want. I went for blue after a while, because guardian, y’know, and my other guardian is all red and fiery anyway, so it’s Sky dye because if you’ve spent this much on vanity anyway…

(The red was Salmon on the heavenly bracers to make it flamey and either Melon or Cantaloupe on shoulder/boots to match the red orange-tinted bracers. I haven’t been arsed to explore the red spectrum long enough to find an exact match for the golem, but it’s probably possible.)

And when I’m bored, I get to change colors like a Christmas tree.

orange

Random orange, probably Citrus.

Because I now have too many greens. This is Sprout, but Wasabi's a good light green too.

Because I now have too many green dyes. This is Sprout, but Wasabi’s a good light green too.

When in doubt, glow white. Winter Ice pulling double duty here.

When in doubt, glow white. (Or white blue.) Winter Ice pulling double duty here.