reetings, progeny! This latest issue of the GuildMagmagazine is all about asura,and in particular, the Inquest. This particular megakrewe can oftenbe found onthe wrong side of the Commander, willing to do what’s necessary in the name of research. With their involvement in the early episodes of Season4 of the Living World, nowis the perfecttimetoprobefurther into the organization -so here we are!Inside these pages you’ll find articles covering a huge
range of areas, including a lore primer on the Inquest courtesy of Draxynnic, as well as beautiful community artwork inspired by asuran characters, curated by Starconspirator. In addition, Phoenix and Maiirin present an exploration of Inquest labs in central Tyria, while Amala shows offtwo outfits for asuran heavy armor-wearingcharactersinCollege of Aesthetics.It’s not all about the Inquest, however. We’ve got two greatopinion pieces exploring the role of choices in storytelling and the latest updates to underwater
combat -make sure to give them both a read! Our guild spotlight feature is also back for another issue, this time with Black Lion Expeditions [BLE]- if you’re looking for a guild, this couldbe the new home for you!Our long-term readers may notice some changes in our team listing below. Since the start of the year we’ve recruited several new team members and re-shuffled some existing ones into new management roles, so please join me inwelcoming everyonenewandreturning!We hope you enjoy Issue 22!
Marc Martin W. Nick H.
6GUILDMAG #22 |LORE - The Inquest Threat
The Inquest Threat
BYDRAXYNNICA transcript of a lecture given by Professor Blorp to new Pact recruits early in the Season of the Phoenix, 1331 AE.
he Inquest. I’m sure you’re all familiar with these arrogant littlepus-stains on Tyria. They’re probably the Pact’s most persistent andannoying little irritations besides the Elder Dragons and their minions. Pretty much anywhere you mightfindyourselvesassigned in the field, you’re likely to find these slimeballs getting underfoot, stirring up any nearby dragon minions with their ill-conceived,so-called “research” into attempting to control the Elder Dragons, not to mention antagonising the locals by using them as unwilling test subjects and trying to steal artifacts and inventions needed for the Pact’s mission.You may think you’re here to fight dragons, but each and every one of youbookahs will need to be able to deal with these bottom-feeders poking their putrescent olfactory
organs where they don’t belong if you expect to be a successful Pact operative. Fortunately, you have me to educate you. You’re welcome. Listen closely,because there willbe a test on this. Passing means you get to make Tyria a marginally betterplace by killing them instead of getting killed.So,howdidourleastfavourite collectionofodoriferouspond scum get started?The Inquest’s origins started in the generations after the asura diasporato the surface. Many of the inventions made prior to the rise of the Great Destroyer were lost in the evacuation, and more still were lost in the years afterwards as their inventors refused to share them. After some generations of this, some bright spark decided that theyweren’t going to let this keep happening, and founded the Inquest
to become a repository of knowledge for all asura. Just how they went from the asuran equivalent of the Priory to the gang of thieves, kidnappers andmurderers we all know and hate is not something you’ll findin their recruitmentpamphlets. If I had to guess, I’d say that they found that the other asura weren’t too happy about just handing over their hard-wondata without a bit of strong-arming, leading to an increasing tendency towards ruthlessness among their organisation until it became their defining characteristic. Certainly, any inclination they mighthaveeverhadfor using this information for the good of asurakind has clearly been putinfavourofusingitforthe good of the Inquest… and I’m not talking about the suckers at the bottom.Since then, they have been presenting themselves as just another krewe that is
bigger and more organised than the others, but their actualstructure is more like that of a corporation…or a cult. Where most krewes are formed based on asura with mutual interests intheir research, anybody foolish enough to fall for their recruitment pitch - you can find their recruiters trying to pickupimpressionableyoung graduates inSoren Draa and even RataSum itself - will find themselves being told what their projects are going to be, whether they like it or not. Recruitment, as far as the Inquest is concerned, is for life; any recruit who sees sense and leaves the Inquest can expect to be pursued by their agents looking to enforce that clause…often, lethally.However,the Inquest doesn’t hold back from killing their recruits before they leave either, whether through overwork, unsafe laboratory practices,abandoningthemin life-threatening situations, or even using them as unwitting test subjects.Meanwhile, the Inquest maintainsaparamilitaryforce of agents and golems, which
it employs to intimidate, sabotage, and stealfrom other krewes.So,howdotheygetawaywith all this?Because the idiots on the Arcane Council let them. Those who aren’t Inquest themselves.As most asura are more interested in research than politics, the number of places on the Arcane Council that need to be filled are greater than the number of asura in good standing withthe ability to fill them. As a result, it has been simplicity itself for the Inquest to insert its representatives into the Council, ensuring that the Imbecile Council grants them status as a legitimate mega-krewe and does not formally recognise their illegitimate activities. In exchange, the Inquest uses its ability to demand that its researchers pursue projects of the Inquest’s choosing to take up projects that the Moronic Council considers necessary, but which no asura is likely to joinof their own free will. In the meantime, the Inquest ensures that its plots to take overRataSumaremaintained at a level of plausible deniability that allows the Oblivious Council tocontinue turning a blind eye, such as the use of supposedly “malfunctioning” golems.Meanwhile, the Inquest are givenfreereignthroughmuch7
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8GUILDMAG #22 |LORE - The Inquest Threat
of Metrica Province, opposed only by local Peacemakers andthekrewestheyvictimise. The height of their arrogance could be seen in the western Brisban Wildlands before the rise of Mordremoth, where they formed an open alliance with the Nightmare Court and human criminals from Kryta.From our perspective, however, their most dangerous activities come from their experimentation with dragon energy. These lunaticsthinktheycanharness andcontroltheElderDragons for their own usage, and they are obsessed with creating dragon minions - usually by infusing kidnapped victims with dragon corruption, including that of multiple dragons - and controlling them. Unfortunately, their efforts to control dragon minions have met withsome success, encouraging them to continue even if they do regularly lose control again. Every time one of their bases researching this has been destroyed, whether by their ownexperiments exploding intheirface, Pactintervention, or some other cause, they’ve simply built a larger and more remote base elsewhere to continue their research.This is not the only way in which they’ve been a problem for the Pact. While experimentation on sylvari hasbeenbannedamongmost asura, the Inquest continue this line of research,and seemparticularlyinterestedin
powering golems with sylvari life essence. Worse is that the Inquest does not restrict its theft to asura krewes - it is suspected that the airships used by Scarlet Briar’s Aetherblades were based on designs stolen from the Pact by the Inquest, although the Inquest appears to have withdrawn their association from the Aetherblades shortly after Scarlet entered the picture. I mightconsider giving them some credit for disassociating themselves from that psychopath,if not for the fact that they were partially responsible for creating her in the first place, and thus knew her well enough to know that she’d care about any promises she made to members of her little coalition about as much as the Inquest leadership cares about their subordinates.Whenthe Zephyrite fleet came crashing down in the opening stages of the rise of Mordremoth, the Inquest were also quick to swoop in, claiming salvage rights over the entire crash site, kidnapping the fallen Zephyrites, and attempting to steal the magical crystals littered around the crash site- probably as part of their researchintodragonenergies. Fortunately, though, they did not appear to be eager to get further involved in the region as Mordremoth’s forces grew in strength. The discovery of RataNovusapparentlypiqued their interest, but it was secured by Pact forces and
more reputable asura before they even knew about it.ThenexttimethattheInquest got in the way of the Pact came when they provided mercenaries to the fallen human god of indiscriminate murder, Balthazar, initially in his disguise as that other fallen human god of unseen murder, the mursaat Lazarus the Dire. As aresult, the Pact expedition pursuing Balthazar to Draconis Mons foundtheInquestalreadywell established there. However, the Inquest hadsplit away from Balthazar’s other mercenaries, being more interested in the ruins ofRata Arcanumandthepossibilityof uncovering some of the last discoveriesoftherogueasura Zinn to be found there.
Their most damaging act of colossal stupidity, however, might have been the decision tobuildtheirlatestsetofmajor labsontheislandsnearElona. We’restillcollectingreportsas to what precisely happened, butpreliminarydataindicates that Inquest bases on Istan and the Dajkah archipelago were compromised by the lich Palawa Joko,granting him access to theirwork on receiverless gates,the Scarab Plaguethatconsumed the Primeval Dynasty, and, knowing the Inquest, their latest work on dragon energies.Intelligencesuggests that the self-aggrandising windbag intendedto use these as part of some convoluted plot against Tyria in revenge for the co-opting of his armies during the final stages of the campaign against Balthazar. One might think that the insufficiently-decayed corpse might have reason to show some gratitude for the preservation of his empire and his release from a trap that could only be broken by the Arson God’s death, but apparently he saw it as a reason to unleash war andpestilenceonaninnocent
populace instead. Fortunately, his plot was foiledbeforethescarabswere releasedintheirmostvirulent form, but he wouldn’thave got that far without those short-sighted imbeciles at the Inquest.So, now that you know why they are a problem, you may be wondering what to expect when these grease stains get underfoot.First, they’re asura. So don’t expect many Inquest acting as meathead warriors or guardians when they can, and do, get golems to do the job. Expect to see golems providing the heavy
muscle, protective shields, and mobile artillery. They’re also fond of usinglittle golems that will try to sneak in and discharge energy fields, drop bombs, or just plain explode. The full range of golems that these scumbags have developed is too varied to detail them all, and newmodels are constantly adopted and old ones discarded. The Order of Whispers keeps dossiers on currently known models, and you are all advised to devote sometimekeepingyourselves up to date onthe latest developments inbetween drinking yourselves to unconsciousness or whatever it is you ignoramuses think isa good use of yoursparetime.
10GUILDMAG #22 |LORE - The Inquest Threat
Every so oftenyou may find anInquest member piloting a golem suit, but this is becoming less common as latermodels become increasingly more autonomous. You’re probably more likely to see them being used as hazardous environment suits, prisoner control, or other non-combat purposes rather than being deliberately used inbattle. Some of the Inquest higher-ups, though, like to do their fighting personally, but the babies want to avoid actually risking getting hurt when they doso,sothey’llbuildthemost souped-upgolemexoskeleton they can and fight you from inside that. Crack it open and give them the thrashing they deserve.ThoseInquestwhohavemore braverythanthetypicalrabbit- mymost insincere apologies to any Hare followers there may be inthe norn section of the audience, why you would worship rabbits of allthings I just do not understand -
tend to be more predictable, probably since it’s abit harder toteach an Inquest dog new tricks than to come up with a new golem. Expect to face a lot of spellcasters, although they may not be all that competent,since those that are actually valuable will probably be holed up in a panic room somewhere at the slightest hint of danger, leaving apprentices to do the fighting. Elementalism seems to be their most popular form of magic, possibly because theyfindittheeasiesttowork into their magitech.Engineers, unsurprisingly, are also common to see in an Inquest deployment. As well as keeping largeritems of technology in passable repair, you’re likely to see Inquest engineers deploying field turrets and scrapper-style heli-drones. Grenades are also popular, and instead of flamethrowers they have developed a kind of ice-thrower - probably primarily intended for damage control whenone of their experiments inevitably goes haywire through their own incompetence, but they’ll happily turn you into anicicle if given the chance.Finally,ifyou’vedemonstrated that you have better short-termmemory than the average goldfish andyou recall the start of this lecture, you’ll rememberthat the Inquest likes to intimidate, sabotage and steal from from reputable krewes,Pact
bases, and anyone else who gives them an opportunity. Not surprisingly, they have a special forces division of thieves and assassins to perform such underhanded tasks. Don’t underestimate these operatives -they’re likely to be veterans in field operations ratherthan the usual stream of apprentices being sacrificed as cannon fodder by the Inquest higher-ups, so they may catch you by surprise by proving to have genuinely dangerous combat skills evenif they don’t have the typical magic and gadgets of the Inquest.Andthis isn’t considering the threats posed by whatever ill-conceived experiments and superweapons they might be developing. This will vary over time and betweenbases even more than their golem designs, and I really don’t have the time to give youan overview of the things that you might face that half of you will probably forget next time you drink yourselves silly. Remember to keep up to date withthe dossiers provided by the Order of Whispers if youeven suspect that there’s an Inquest base nearby. It probably won’t be enough to make sure you’re prepared,but at least then you might have a chance to not be surprised by whatever abomination they might cook up next to you.All right, that’s all I have for you morons today. Get out of here! Class dismissed!
e shall begin with the definition of draconic energy. Also known asdragon energy or dragon magic, draconicenergy can be described as the magical signature unique to each Elder Dragon.To illustrate, Zhaitan was the only Elder Dragon able to raise the dead, but after his defeat the remaining Elder Dragons absorbed some of his unique energy. Recent observations suchasKralkatorrik’sabilityto Brand the dead is due to this phenomenon.The Inquest, through diabolicalmeans and opportunistic accidents, have come to be at the forefront in experimentation utilising draconic energy. Here,I seek to chronicle the evolution of their research from the discovery at the Thaumanova Reactor to their present-day activity.
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Draconic Energies &
Your first encounter with the Thaumanova Reactor was likelyto beits ruins inMetrica Province. Amid the broken buildings and coughing asura, there was chaos in the most literal sense. The fallout of some disaster imbued the atmosphere with a high concentration of chaos energy,anunpredictableform ofmagicatbest,whichcaused the teleportation of random creatures fromall around Tyria to the ruins.Acrackle of energy would bring forth a minotaur and if you waited long enough that crackle would sound again, and the minotaur would now be a griffon.Certain rooms inside the building hadbeen transformed into distinct biomes. There was vegetation and a disorientated oakheart in one room. Not far from there,snowfellinaroomfilled with creatures native to the cold, such as Ice Elementals. The next hall wouldn’t be classed as a biome, but it stood apart from the others in its patchesof fire onthe floor. It was here that a giant fire elemental wascreated when a golem meant to clear the chaosenergy,had its core fuse with it instead. Lastly, there was the strange room filled with angry crabs. The walls were covered with
coral and a slow mist rose with the faint impression of bubbles.Where do the Inquest come into this? You wouldn’t see them amongst the casualties or the clean-up operations and you shouldn’t expect to, as this wasn’t even an Inquest lab. They were there though. Underneath the Thaumanova Reactor they conducted their dangerous research on chaos energyinsecret.Itisunknown howlong they had occupied the facility.
In 1326 AE, Captain Ellen Kiel ran against Evon Gnashblade for aspot on the Captain’s Council and won. She then delivered on the electoral promise she made towin over the asuran council members: an investigation into the Thaumanova disaster using the Consortium’s Fractals of the Mists. You could now immerse yourself in the moments before the catastrophe and discover itscause. Inside the Thaumanova Reactor fractal was puremayhem. Portals popped up all around the reactor. They spewed out aatxe from the mists,Flame Legion from Ascalon, Destroyers from the depths of Tyria and more.
Increasing the tension of the Inquest scientists was the knowledge that if they didn’t escape soon, they would be incinerated in a magical explosion. The Thaumanova Reactor was going into meltdown. They had pushed science too far.Several of the Inquest blamed the same person for their current predicament while they fought or fled for their lives. A ‘special consultant’, someone with whom the Inquest had previous dealings, had been called in to assist their research. It was this consultant who goaded the krewe chief into a little competition of who could pushthings further, faster. Some scoffed at this consultant, this sylvariwho told them that it wasn’t even chaos energy they were playing with, but something else entirely.
They Blew It Up
A crackle of energy wouldbringforthaminotaur.
Chaos Energy is a Misnomer
12GUILDMAG #22 |LORE - Draconic Energies & The Inquest
Her name was Scarlet Briar. With her work at the Thaumanova Reactor,she identifiedthe global network of magical channels that, until then, scholars had only theorized: ley lines. This historic moment brought her closer to her goal of using them to awaken the Elder Dragon Mordremoth.Chaos energy was a misnomer, she told them. What the Inquest harnessed, and at her recommendations agitated and amplified,was in factdraconicenergy.Combine the Inquest’s ignorance with the fact that the Thaumanova Reactor sat on an intersection of multiple ley lines and you reach the explosive end of unstable research. The investigation could be closed.Solve one mystery and another one appears. The fractal’sexitroutewasblocked by a coalescence of energy which took on a humanoid form. Dessa, the headof research in fractals,called it an anomaly,a remark which ended up naming the entity ‘the Thaumanova Anomaly’.
Two years later, after the death of Mordremoth,more of these anomalies appeared. Created by the influx of magic borne by the death of the Elder Dragon, the Ley LineAnomaly is far larger than its Thaumanovarelative. Furthermore, contact with these new anomalies caused hallucinations where smaller unhappy anomalies flash in andoutofexistencenearyou, a condition which can only be cured with ashadowstone or some Consortium-sold krait oil.To avoid speculation,Iwill let you draw your own conclusions on the link between draconic energy, ley lines and these anomalous beings.
After the destruction of the Thaumanova Reactor,the Inquest committed resources to their facility in Mount Maelstrom: the Infinite Coil Reactor. There were six main zonesaroundtheperimeterof the facility.Each was assigned a colour and a different type of dragon minion for experimentation.Zone Black held the Risen.ZoneRedheldtheDestroyers. Zone Violet held the Branded. ZoneWhiteheldtheIcebrood.
Colours of the Coil
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14GUILDMAG #22 |LORE - Draconic Energies & The Inquest
Zone Green was intended for the Mordrem, but as Mordremoth was not yet awake, the area held dangerous plant life.Zone Blue was intended for the minions of Deep Sea Dragon, but the construction of this area was not completed.This separation of the types of minions resembles the aftermathoftheThaumanova Reactor, where different biomes appeared after the fallout. What seemed accidental and chaoticat Thaumanova was harnessed and controlled at the Infinite Coil - the Inquest appeared to have learned from their mistakes.Eventually, the Pact launched an attack on the facility and wrested control of it from the Inquest. It then became clear that the surface buildings were only the tip of the iceberg.
The central part of the complex, the Crucible of Eternity, went deep underground, witha pillar of light piercing through the levels. This light was caused by the draconicenergy that had been siphoned from minions, to be concentrated atthebottomofthecomplex, at Eternity’s Focus.
Kudu was the head of the operation. His work in the Crucible of Eternity expanded on the research done by his late mentor, Snaff, one of the founding members of Destiny’s Edge. However, where Snafffound research into draconic energy to be too dangerous to continue, Kudu was seduced by its potential. Zojja, who was Snaff’sapprentice at the time of his death, could not allow the perversion of their mentor’s work to continue, choosing to headastriketeamwhichwent down to stop him.As they went down throughthe labs which spiralled the central pit, they found evidence of disturbing experiments. Among the containment cells holding dragon minions were also cells holding captives. Some were saved by the strike teambefore the remaining captives were subjected to the ‘Transmutation Protocol’. Using the draconicenergy collected at Eternity’s Focus, the captives were turned into various dragon minions.Kudu wanted the power of Elder Dragons: the ability to make minions only he could control. He succeeded. By the time Zojja and her friends reached Kudu, he was unrecognisable. Corrupted by dragon energies, branded crystalshadsproutedfromhis
back and his skin was tinged purple. In that moment, he regretted nothing, claiming enlightenment was worth any price.Kudu was defeated, but in his dyingmoments,heunleashed a monster. The creaturelooked like a Risen giant but could not be classified as such asit not only had the abilitiestypical of the Risen, but also of the Branded, Destroyers and Icebrood. It would switch between these states while in combat, channelling them as elementalists do their attunements. Regardless, this creature was also defeated.Kudu’s monster was not the only one of its kind. Further exploration of the Crucible of the Eternity led to the discovery of Subject Alpha, one of Kudu’s early experiments. It toohad the abilities of multiple dragon energies, including all the energies that created Kudu’s monster as well as the energies of Mordremoth and the Deep Sea Dragon. Subject Alpha could also split its body into multiple glob-like essences which could slither away to escape in separate directions, before recuperating and reformingto fight again.Subject Alpha was defeated several times. Its lastbattle endedwithall its essences,
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save one, being destroyed. It isunknownwhathappenedto this last essence.
The latest Inquest facility to be discovered is Rata Primus, locatedinthesouthernregion of Dajkah. It reveals that the defeatofKuduandtheclosing of the Infinite CoilReactor did not abate their research into dragon energies. Instead, this mantlewastakenupbyKudu’s daughter, OverseerKuda,who also experimented in creating her own dragon minions. These minions were housed in the specimen chamber in the Western Complex of Rata Primus.An opportunityfor infiltration presented itself when tar seepage from the Awakened caused the laser array protecting the specimen chamber to lose power. Kuda was not present but she spoke to the infiltrators throughalargehologramand, unperturbed, continued her research by releasing some of herspecimenstoattackthem.Thechamberheldsixvarieties of dragon minions. Five were the standard type of dragon minions we commonly face, one for each Elder Dragon minus the Deep Sea Dragon. ThelastwasSubjectBeta.Like itspredecessor, SubjectAlpha, it had access to the various dragon energies and abilities.
It was also muchlike Subject Alpha in appearance, except Subject Alpha seemed closer to the Risen while Subject Beta seemed closer to the Branded.It is unclear how many specimens Kuda has stored in Rata Primus, as even after the defeat of a specific minion, she was able to reproduce it moments later. Instead of housing the original subjects, the specimen chamber holds simulacrums of those subjects.Kuda’s location remains unknown.
Though the Inquest have come far in their research of draconic energies, they are not the only ones with expertise on the subject.Professor Gorr of the College of Synergetics delivered a lecture in Rata Sum detailing his draconic enchanto-
consumptiontheory. He proved that the waking of Elder Dragons coincided with a drop of magic levels in Tyria andconcluded that they devoured magic. This theory led to his invention, the Vacuumagic Polarizer, which removes a person’s or object’s magic and sends it back poisoned.Taimi, also of the College of Synergetics,hasmadeseveral important discoveries in the field. She discovered that the death of Elder Dragons empowered the remaining ones with new abilities; that the energies of Jormag and Primordus nullify each other; and most importantly, that the death of any more Elder Dragonswouldbeapocalyptic without a viable solution for the extreme increase of draconic energy in Tyria.Without sacrificing ethics in thenameofscience,theyhave studieddraconicenergytothe benefit of all Tyrians whereas the Inquest have thus far only sought its weaponization.
The Legacy Continues
Outside The Inquest
16GUILDMAG #22 |GALLERY - Inquest Labs
BY PHOENIX & MAIIRIN
The Inquest perform all manner of research at this megacomplex in the Sandswept Isles. The giant floating cube in the center is based offof Rata Sum. Prominentstudiesconductedhereincludenon-asuragatetranslocation technology,therevivalofthe Scarab Plagueanditseffectsonlocalfauna,and the consequences of infusing Kralkatorrik’s minions with the magic of other Elder Dragons.
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The Infinite Coil Reactor was built after the Thaumanova Reactor fallout. There are six color-coded zones, each corresponding to an Elder Dragon, where the Inquest experiment on their minions. The center of the reactor houses several floating platforms as well as the entrance portal to the Crucible of Eternity.
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This is the inner underground complex of the Infinite Coil Reactor, primarily dedicated to studying draconic energy. It too contains Elder Dragon laboratories and an aquarium, presumably meant to hold minions of the Deep Sea Dragon. There are also facilities intended to hold prisoners andcontainment units for dragon minions.
Crucible of eternity
20GUILDMAG #22 |GALLERY - Inquest Labs
The Inquest Complex in Metrica Province consists of an inner and outer portion. The Outer Complex seems to be dedicated to studying golems including their weaponization and how to acquire energyto power them. Meanwhile, the Inner Complex dates back at least to the awakening of the Secondborn sylvari, as some of them were kidnapped and imprisoned forstudy there.
The Inquest maintain multiple underwater bases around the world: the AquanariumHydropostinBloodtideCoast,AquabaseTerrorSeveninMount Maelstrom, and Bauxite Alchemicals in Malchor’s Leap are among the most prominent. Theytend to experiment on quaggan in these bases and they don’t seem to care about the water pollution their research causes.
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Some time after Scarlet Briar became involved with the Inquest in the Thaumanova Reactor, there was a catastrophic explosion, destroying many ofthelabsandleavingradioactivematerialinitswake.Priortoitsmeltdown, the reactor was afully-functioning facility dedicated to studying chaos magic with dormitories, live-subject and repulsor labs, and at least a few roomsdedicated to studying Elder Dragon minions.
CHOICES INGUILD WARS 2’SSTORYTELLING
22GUILDMAG #22 | EDITORIAL - Downloading the Tyrian Consciousness
e watched the sylvariwrestlewith Mordremoth’s influence in HeartofThorns. We tried to appeal to the Herald of Balthazar’s humanity in Path of Fire.We also listened to the struggles of Glint’s offspring, Vlast, trying to come to terms with his legacy, and witnessed him jump in front of Balthazar’s greatsword to save our life. Now, in ABug inthe System, the second episode ofLiving World Season4, the classically corrupt Inquest become humanized inthe player’s eyes. As the player character, we made choices throughout our personal stories that altered our paths andchanged how we arrived at our climactic battle with Zhaitan. But recently,
ArenaNet has relegated the big choices to our allies and enemies to make us feel like although we are the starof the show, we are also part of something bigger. I’ll be looking at some of those NPCchoices and examining how they complicate our world.Recently we learned that Taimi’s college friends, two brothers named Blish and Gorrik,hadjoinedtheInquest, unwittingly assisted Palawa Jokoinreproducingthe Scarab Plague, and set up a network of asura gates to help him spreadit.Taimiisupsetabout her friends’ involvement in the organization: she laments that Blish is “tragically now an Inquest stooge,” and says Gorrik is “kinda weird. But still, the Inquest?”
Nevertheless, she is happy and nonjudgmental at their reunion, even after seeing that Blish’s consciousness had been downloaded into a golem.The personal story raises us to believe the Inquest are essentially evil, stealing patents and inventions, threatening the Arcane Council and the city of Rata Sum regularly, and tampering with dragon energy in their labs. Despite this, they are still allowedto operate in RataSum. As we keep discovering their bases throughout Tyria, this raises a question: eventhough the Inquest’s reputationhas been thoroughly besmirched and they’re associated with a lack of ethical principles, why do
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EDITORIAL - Downloading the Tyrian Consciousness | GUILDMAG #22
asura keep lining up to join? The most obvious reason is the additional freedom and productivity that comes with a lack of bureaucracy. Time and time again we’ve seen that the Inquest are on top of modern technology, from Kudu’s teleportation device to theoutboundasuragates that don’t require a receivinggate — they just spit you out of aportal whereverthe coordinates point. However, these marvels usually come as a result of thieving or plagiarizing the work of others. Zojja says Kudu stole the designs for his personalteleporterandTaimi tells us Zinn and the Rata Novans were working onthe advancements in asura gate technology. But if you place a high value on knowledge-sharing and believe that progress moves fasterif multiple people are able to look at a plan from different angles,it’seasytoseewhythe allureofthemorally-bankrupt Inquest trumps the strict regulations oncopyright and patent law.If you stick around a krewe’s camp in Mon Maelstrom long enough, you can hear some interesting ambient dialogue that addresses this issue.
Apprentice Klinx asks why no one has designed an anti-destroyer golem yet. Krewe Leader Ambr replies, “Snaffcame close, but he never sharedthedesign.”Wouldthis be a problem for the Inquest if they could have pilfered the data and schematics? Later,a lab worker expressesfrustration that they can’t beat the Inquest in the nearby lab if they can’t utilize shortcuts. Ambr tellshim that they’ll “prevail throughdedication tosound alchemical principles.” Understandably, this brings little comfort when you’re constantly being attacked by destroyers.As a “megakrewe,” the Inquest is also able to offer its members additional resources. A normal krewe is acorporate entity put together forone task or research project. It might get its financing from the krewe leader or an outside investor, but funds are limited and no one wants to spend more money than necessary. At the aforementioned camp belonging to Ambr and her krewe, Lab Worker Flinka says they should research flame-retardant fabrics. As another lab worker points out though, “Hiring new krewe
members is cheaper than the materials needed,” implying that bringing inbrave but disposable labor is preferred over trying to betterprotect the existing krewe members. Indeed, one thing Gorrik bemoans upon escaping the catastrophic explosion of Rata Primus is thathe and Blish lost their funding. In fact,Gorrikseemstocarelittle about where he’s working or who he works with, as long as he can continue the research hewantstopursueoninsects.During that same conversation, Blish mentions he was able to save data on Kralkatorrik. This brings up another advantage to working with the Inquest, namely that they perform a lot of research on the Dragons and their minions. This poses a dangerous risk as it’s led to such events as Kudu’s corruption by draconic energiesandtheThaumanova Reactor fallout. But with the threat posedby the Elder Dragons and the potential catastrophe that would result from killing them and releasing their magic without an entity to contain it,the research is necessary.Anyone who’s played the asuran personal story will rememberProfessor Gorr being booed offstage when he proposed his theory that magic was a finite resource being consumed by the Elder Dragons. Even the asura knowlittle about the Elder Dragons,letalonetheaverage
Thepersonal storyraisesusto believetheInquestare essentiallyevil,stealingpatents and inventions.
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layperson. We, as player characters, have enough trouble wrapping our heads around the idea that we can nolongerkilltheDragons,but must rather protect ourselves from them ortransfer their magic to adifferent source. How are we to convince the rest of Tyria of this if the research is frowned upon and isn’t easily demonstrable? Maybe the Inquest withtheir low regard for appropriate, law-abiding research subjects and methodologies have it right... at least in some ways.The Inquest simply has more money, more expendable labor,and larger, more widespread facilities. In addition, since the krewe never disbands, itallows asura to continue working on their projects for as long as possible, whereas a regular krewe might disband as soon as they accomplish their goal, even if new or superior ideas are on the horizon. If you’re able to sacrifice some workplace safety and moral sensibilities for efficiency
and vast technological advancement,the Inquest might not be such a bad organization to be apart of.Blish and Gorrik might be the first members of the Inquest tomake players consider there are additional motives for joining beyond an inherent wickedness. This is not, however, the first time the storytelling of Guild Wars 2has put delicate and difficult choices under ascrutinizing eye.Forinstance,suchchoices areingrainedinsylvariculture. A sylvari can choose to abide by the tenets of Ventari, embrace the nightmares in the Dream of Dreams, or cut offall contact with the Pale Tree and the hive mindof their fellow sylvari, becoming Soundless.Heart of Thornsis notorious for not expanding onsylvari culture as much as it could have. It failed to go into any detail about the state of the Nightmare Court afterFaolain’s corruption and eventual death and
disregarded Mallyck’s origins completely. For all its failings though, it did provide us with a fascinating bit of dialogue between Faolain and the player character. When we discoverEirandFaolainlocked inavinecagebytheMordrem, we ask: “Why is Mordremoth locking upsomanyNightmare Courtiers?” The implication is that bothMordremoth and the Nightmare Court are evil. The Elder Dragons are gluttonsformagic,consuming or destroying anything in their way to obtain it. The Nightmare Court performs dark rituals and unspeakable acts of cruelty to try to taint the Dream and urge the Pale Tree away from the influence of Ventari. Some in the Court also try to forcibly subvert sylvari to join their cause by placing them in conversion pods. BothMordremoth and the Nightmare Court are bad seeds,sotheywouldnaturally mesh, right?Faolain snaps back at the player character,insisting, “You knownothing of the Court. We seek freedom, and Mordremoth’s yoke is even more onerous than the Pale
EDITORIAL - Downloading the Tyrian Consciousness | GUILDMAG #22
Tree’s.” It can be said that the ultimate goal of the Court is merelytoreleasethePaleTree from the tethers of Ventari and Ronan,urging sylvari to create their own destinies instead of performing the goals given to them by the Dream.In Siren’sLanding,agroup of sylvariareattemptingtostudy theroaming Risen, unchained and seemingly without purposeafterZhaitan’sdeath. In particular, an NPC named Rose, inspired by the courage and willpower bestowed upon them by the Pale Tree, sets offon her ownin hopes of befriending the intelligent Risen, the kingpins. We meet one of these kingpins face to face while searching for Rose and converse with it. The kingpin says he is “free to continue dispensing Zhaitan’s wrath to the world” because it is already lost.
So what would happen to the sylvari themselves if they were not Soundless, not questing on their Wyld Hunts nor tapped into the group network created by the Pale Tree, not taking part in evil acts with the Nightmare
Court, and not turned into Mordrem? In theory, we’ve only seen two characters like this: Scarlet Briar, who eventually went madfrom staring into the Eternal Alchemy and discovering that the sylvari were creations of Mordremoth, and Malyck, whoweknowverylittleabout. In fact, the last time we heard about Malyck,he was offto his home in the Heart of Maguuma to tell his fellow sylvari about the Pale Tree. Was his tree what eventually became the Blighting Tree in Verdant Brink? Were all his fellow sylvari converted to Mordremoth’scausewhenthe Elder Dragon rose because they lacked the Pale Tree’s protection? These are the unanswered questions Heart of Thornsleft behind, along with the idea that perhaps all the big bad organizations of each race aren’t so bad after all.What about Path of Fire? The developers had a lot more time to work on this expansionand it’s been lauded for its storytelling, whichmany players claim is better than Heart of Thorns by far. The most interesting choice you might discover is the continuous one Vlast must make. He is the offspring of Glint, who was originally Glaust,a champion of Kralkatorrik.Glint was purified by the Forgotten and, as we’ve seen with both Vlast
and Aurene, her scions are free from the Elder Dragon’s influence. This makes them neither good nor bad at the startbutgrantsthemacertain freewill,contingent upontheir upbringing and socialization.
Socialization was something Vlast severely lacked. The Forgotten and the Exalted attended him but it’s difficult to knowhow tobond a dragon to the mortal races of Tyria,especially when dragonsequatetodestruction in the minds of most. Thus he was kept secluded, growing up with a strict destiny,a piece of a larger grand plan to protect the races from the Elder Dragons. But how could he developempathy or compassion for those races if he never encountered them and never watched them grow or interacted with them at all? Despite this major flaw
Themostinteresting choiceyoumight discover is the continuousoneVlast must make.
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in his younger years, he stuck with the plan set forhim by his mother, trusting in her judgment if nothing else, and to pass on hope and wisdom tohisyoungersisterwhenher time came.The question this leaves with us is obvious: if we treat Aurene better and continue allowing her to explore the world, will she be more convincedofherpurposethan Vlast? Currently, she seems to be assisting us as necessary with help in battle and visions of things and places we can’t see. She doesn’t stick byour side like a lap dog though. Maybe she’s found a good middle groundbetween the freedom Vlast craved and the wanderlust that haunted him in his later life, and the prophecy and goals set forth by her mother. Unlike the sylvari storylines hung out to dry in Heart of Thorns, the mystery of Aurene appears to be gradually unfolding with Living World Season 4.Thesearebutahandfulofthe choices made by NPCs that keep popping up in the story. Consider also Balthazar’s Forged - the developers revealed that the Herald of Balthazarwas actually Devona,awarrior fromthe original Guild Wars. On her deathbed it’s clear she’s retained some of herfree will, requesting we dispatch Balthazar.Howaboutthestill-
living and Awakened trying to resist Palawa Joko’s influence: people like Koss who found a loophole in his undeath or Tahlkorawhoretainedherwill after Awakening. There’s also the Sons of Svanir, anotherclassically evil organization like the Inquest or Nightmare Court, but they are tolerated in the norn’s individualistic culture. Maybe we’ll see more about theirstory if a future expansion brings us north.Wherever youlook,I guarantee you’ll find plenty of instances of characters in Guild Wars2dealing with hard choices, especially with ArenaNet’s improved storytelling and the loss of the “Elder Dragons bad, mortalracesgood”dichotomy that we hadpreviously. Next time yourun into something stereotypically evil or think about anapparently easy choice in-game, maybe you’ll think twice about its true nature.
Pestilence & Plague
S4 RECAP: Episodes 1, 2 & 3
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he Living World continuesto expand the game, bringing us newheroes, new cultures,apair of sympathetic scientists, and a looming catastrophe. At the beginning of the Path of Fireexpansion we set offfor the Crystal Desertintent on stopping a god. Through our journey, Elona opened before us, givingus access to Vabbi and Kourna. When the story picks up in Season 4, we continue intoIstanand the nearby islands intent on uncovering,andputtingastop to, Joko’s plans.With Kralkatorrik awake and Aurene missing after the fight with Balthazar,several members of Dragon’s Watch remained near Amnoon, repairingTaimi’s golem. Meanwhile, Jory andKas have tracked Kralkatorrik to a far-offmountain range. Yet, despite being so far away, the Elder Dragon is far more powerful, having absorbed the power of agod, and is abletotouchoffadevastating brandstorm in Amnoon! Like all good heroes, we hurry to the rescue, discovering a
city full of people trapped in crystal, branded, and turning on their friends and allies. These fights against the Branded bring into play an empowering crystal mechanic wherewemustfirstshatterall thecrystalsinAmnoonbefore we can destroy the Branded that is being shielded. Aurene joins us for the final battle against a Branded wyvern and, once we are victorious, Taimi and Scruffy appear along with Shadows Agent Kito.In the aftermath,Aurene shares a vision with everyone showing the Forged and undeadBranded along with an unknowncity. Agent Kito recognizes it as Fahranur,
the First City, ancient seat of power in Istan. In order to find Fahranur, we must make contact with the Sunspears, which won’t be easy. The few remaining members of the ancient order are in hiding; Palawa Joko, undead king of Elona, has hunted them nearly to extinction. Agent Kitosuggestslookingforthem in the Astralarium and we quickly secure passage to the southern island of Istan.
Stowing away on a ship, we soon find ourselves in the Domain of Istan. Joko has placed a price on our head
Istani Trip Down Memory Lane
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and his forces in Istan are incredibly hostile. There are few safe places for us as we search for the Sunspears. The Mordant Crescent holds power here, supported by Joko’s Awakened and loyal human servants. We land at the Chalon Docks and,for players of the original Guild Wars, the nostalgia beginsanew. There is little here, but directly to the south lies the great city of Palawadan, Jewel of Istan (formerly known as Kamadan,Jewel of Istan). As this section of the story encompasses a rather open exploration of the new map, it is possible to spend a great deal of time exploring. To the north of the Chalon Docks,along the coast,we discover a corsair flotilla of both airships and sea-going vessels. Just to the southwest of the flotilla wefindtheAstralarium,which has become an enormous library in the intervening centuries since Nightfall players visited this area.The Astralarium bustles with scholars researching stars, history, and the flora and fauna of the area. Palawa Joko’s forces work tirelessly to revise history but Scholar Rhadha suggests that we aid the scholars as they attempt to preserve the truth. By impeding Joko’s influence in the area, we can convince Scholar Salwa to allow us entrance into the secret archive, whichwill give us access to the hidden Sunspear base. Once the Renown Heart is filled, we are
directed toward Salwa who allows us entrance. There, we speakwithFirstSpearHakima and ask if she can let us into Fahranur. Sadly, she cannot as only the Spearmarshal Zaeim knows the way into the ancient city.War rages across the land of Istan. Joko’s forces hoard supplies in Palawadan and his armies reach outto take control of the island’s towns and cities. They have most recently taken the city of Champion’s Dawn and SpearmarshalZaeimhasgone south to retake it. Since only the Spearmarshal knows the way to the ancient city, we decidetoheadsouthinsearch of him. Besides, beating up Awakenedand Mordant Crescent has become an enjoyable pastime!This chapteris beginning to feel like a really long game of hide-and-seek. The storyline helps open even more of Istan and each place we visit is spiked with nostalgia for those who played the original Nightfallcampaign. So long as the journey through Istan is your goal, these quests to findvariouspeoplearesimply a natural outgrowth of your exploration.However,running throughthestoryasquicklyas possible means criss-crossing a small portion of the overall map,chasinggreenstarbursts back and forth as you search for yet another personor quest item.
A quick run south of the Astralarium along the Bone Wall takes us to Zehlon Breach and the outskirts of Champion’s Dawn,a farming village. Here, we witness Joko’s treatment of those who do not worship him: Villagers are starving,surrounded by hostile forces and propaganda. Many have been taken prisoner and are caged throughout the village. Zaeim is nowhere to be found but we do find Priest Sazeer, who tells usthat the Spearmarshal has been captured by the corsairs. In order to strike a