Interview with Jeff Grubb, Ree Soesbee and Scott McGoughWritten by The GuildMag TeamArticle Type: Interview

For the occasion of having a new magazine issue to release, we wanted to do an in-depth lore interview with the Guild Wars 2 lore team. In this interview we talk with Ree Soesbee, Jeff Grubb and Scott McGough about the Zephyrites, Kryta, Centaurs, Zhaitan and other lore topics. We also ask about the upcoming August update as well as a feature for Living Story cutscene that won’t take up space in your inventory.

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GuildMag (Thalador / Tom): Our first question would be that, starting with the recent living story update, we have the introduction of the Zephyr Sanctum and that reading between the lines it seems that the Sanctum might be the successor organization of the Brotherhood of the Dragon acting on Glint’s behalf after the dwarves underwent the Rite. If we were to ask one of their historians about how the Sanctum was founded, what would they say?

ArenaNet (together) : Woooow.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Yeah, that’s a good one.

Anet (Scott McGough) : That’s a very good question. A lot of that is still in the works. We have introduced the Sanctum now. We’re not really ready to reveal all of the details about how it was formed and where it came from, but yeah, what you mentioned there is in the game and it is part of the set-up. There is sort of a passing of the baton from the Brotherhood of the Dragon to the current Zephyrites.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : I think that’s something the Durmand Priory would be researching too. Whether or not the Zephyrites wanted them to know or not the Durmand Prioriy would be poking around.

ArenaNet (Scott MCGough) : The Zephyrites have kept themselves very aloof from the other societies on Tyria, so they’re relatively secretive. People don’t know much about them so we’re looking forward to revealing more about them in the upcoming months but right now we don’t have a pad answer for you because we’re trying to stretch that out and maintain some of the mystery.

GuildMag (Thalador): So one more question. So why do the Elonians and Canthans take up most of the crew of the Order of the Zephyrites?

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : I believe it has to do mostly with the way the organization was founded and where it was founded. They do have this connection to the Brotherhood of the Dragon. They were in – like I said they keep themselves separate, they keep themselves distinct from the Tyrian races. So naturally the only thing left after you deal with Tyria is Cantha and Elona. It’s really just a question of geography. This is where the organization was founded so it drew on its members from those places before the Sanctum figuratively took off and floated away never to touch the ground again.

GuildMag (Draxynnic / Chris): Okay so, moving on to Kryta. At the end of the Harathi Hinterlands meta event chain, we defeat the Modniir Ulgoth, also known as the War King, which is presumably a significant blow to the centaurs. Meanwhile from Marjory’s story it seems that the corruption in the Ministry has, if anything, grown worse. What is the current state of affairs in Kryta?

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Well the background of that story was of course – spoiler alert – were that there were ministers in Kryta who were sort of fueling the centaurs, who were making sure they had the weapons and the goods to really cause some unrest because they wanted to say that Queen Jennah is doing a really, really bad job. I don’t think that the minister’s purpose there necessarily changed at all regardless of who is the leadership, or who is in charge of encouraging that. The ministry wants to see Kryta destabilized enough that the queen can be deposed.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Right. They want to see just enough unrest, just enough pressure from the bandits, from the centaurs, basically to create that doubt among the followers of the queen. Basically, to expand their own power base. So they’re exploiting the situation as opposed to creating. The centaurs are there but basically they’re seeing them as a tool that they could control or influence.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : And that dynamic between the Ministry’s Guard and the royalty is still very much in effect. There’s still a lot of intrigue. There’s lots of push me pull me tug-o-war on who’s actually making the decisions. The Ministry feels they should be making the decisions. Jennah and the Shining Blade feel the queen should be making the decisions. And so it’s very much a chess game.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : And you’ve got the situation where just killing the king of the Modniir doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve stopped the centaur. The centaurs have their own reasons for attacking. If they weren’t unified by the Modniir, they’d still be causing problems. They just wouldn’t be as organized, they wouldn’t be as effective. So taking out Ulgoth doesn’t eliminate the centaur threat, it just eliminates the organization of that threat, at that level.

GuildMag (Draxynnic): So does that mean that the Krytans have been pushing the centaurs back even though they’re still there, or is it still pretty much what we’ve seen in the zones?

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : it’s a back and forth-

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Pretty much what you’re seeing in the zone. There’s still the incursions coming down out of the mountains. There’s still the Modniir controlling the other centaurs, uh, nations. What’s lacking is that whole unifications under one warleader, and another could arise.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : And another problem is that the centaurs don’t have anywhere to go. It’s hard to truly drive them off, you would have to almost eradicate them or find them somewhere to go. Because right now they don’t have anywhere else to go, they’re backed into a corner.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Yeah they’ve hit the area around Lion’s Arch and that’s about as far south as they can go. The Modniir are just one more displaced people like the norn and the kodan who are basically driven south by Jormag.

GuildMag (Ollannach / Marc): I was wondering cause previously the centaurs were near the Maguuma, in the Wastes of the Maguuma Jungle.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Those were the other – those were not Modniir. Those were the other races.

GuildMag (Thalador) : Those were the Harathi?

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Harathi. I think Tamini were around…

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : The Tamini have always been nomadic. The Tamini don’t really have a homeland-

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : They were the smallest of the groups.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : They used to have a lot of Kryta and some of the Maguuma, the Shiverpeaks they would just roam through. The Modniir in the Shiverpeaks just got moved as much as the norn and the humans.

GuildMag (Draxynnic) : Sounds like a lot of foreshadowing, possibly.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : One thing that’s really cool about Tyria is that it’s a big world and we keep a lot of plates spinning in the air, a lot of groundwork to provide a foundation so that as we move forward we can pick up a piece and say ‘you know we haven’t talked about the Ministry versus the queen, is there a story we can tell here?’ And given that we’re now on this two week cycle of updates, we’ve been doing this for eight weeks now, and we finally went live and said ‘hey guys we’re doing this.’ We’ve now moved forward with our living story and that gives us potential for new stuff.

GuildMag (Thalador): As the City of the Gods, Arah has a deep historical significance to humanity. What has been the reaction to Kryta to the events of the personal story? Because – I won’t speak much of the spoilers – but Orr is in a state that could lead to some recolonization.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : There’s a lot in Orr that could affect the culture of Kryta – to the story of the gods and the interaction with gods to the actual culture of Orr and the things left in Orr that Kryta can take up. We’re gonna have to see who kind of has primacy over these things. The Ministry’s going to want to seize it, the Queen’s going to want to use it. But I really think that the Pact and the various Orders are the people who have sort of the gateway of control about how those things are going to filter back.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : I actually disagree with Kryta being involved but they have restricted access-

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : -I meant they want it-

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : -they might want it, but the idea – they aren’t in an expansionistic mode. That’s the challenges about being human in Tyria right now. Is the fact they’re basically “fall back, fall back” and basically they’re still stabilizing, fighting amongst themselves to a great degree. I do agree that the Pact forces are the ones that are going to be more prominent. Just because with the revolution of the story we have a still very state of unrest. There’s still a place for the Pact, there’s still a place for military forces. I don’t see people resettling that area. But I do see much, that like we did in the explorable mode of the final dungeon, basically seeing the Durmand Priory for example coming in and trying to research that area. And also the fact that Orr was not part of – was considered a separate nation at the time of the first Guild Wars, from Kryta. And while there’s that human heritage and that descent heritage, it’s like Ascalon in that it’s basically a different territory – the humans have fallen back from that area.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : There’s a story in another part of the game about, I believe he was the first king of Kryta. The son of Orr, the prince of Orr, who left Orr to settle that part of the mainland.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : So there’s a heritage thing, but I think they’re separated enough that they’re considered separate nation.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : And just to expand the situation, the Pact is the organization that has their boots on the ground in Orr. So they’re going to have first crack at anything they find, and right now Kryta is not formerly part of the Pact but the three Orders are, so when the Pact finds stuff it’ll be funneled through the Orders first before it goes anywhere else.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : And it’s interesting that I just considered that the first Guild Wars came from the fact that we have nations that had large guilds that basically became super-national organizations dragging the nation-states in. And now we have unifying super-organizations in the Pact and the Orders that are basically trying to coordinate everything as well. And the question is: what’s the reaction of those nations – not just Kryta but the charr of Ascalon or etc. to the fact that there are these larger groups that are basically pan-species operations that are moving forward.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : And we don’t have any strong plans of this at the moment but it’s sort of analogous to a country objecting to the UN coming in and saying ‘we’re the ones who did this so we’re the ones who’ll decide what happens to it.’

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : They’re NGOs. They’re non-government organizations.

GuildMag (Thalador): That makes sense. Although Queen Jennah has a rightful claim to the throne through the bloodline of King Doric. So what about that?

ArenaNet (Ree) : I think that when the prince who left Orr to establish Kryta, when he went to do that, by doing that he – I want to say he completely left the claim to the Orrian throne, and he certainly has a bloodline to it. But I think that the distance between the two thrones is going to be too disparate for her to just step up and say ‘I own that.’

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : And I think Kryta has their hands full.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Well that’s certainly true. She could say it but couldn’t necessarily back it.

ArenaNet (Jeff) : Basically, they could claim Orr if they wanted but it’s not going to happen. They have just been emerging from fighting over Ebonhawke forever. And basically this is a long, long-distant claim operation that it’ll just create havoc. Do they really want another venture like that?

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : And I think the distance is a key factor in that. I think it’s far more immediate for the government of Kryta to sort things out with the charr – with the Black Citadel. With Ebonhawke, with the Claw of the Khan-Ur, there’s peace treaties, there’s negotiations in motion. I think this is the first and most important and most achievable step to peace they could take, that Orr is secondary on their doorstep.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : And even though you have asura gates as being an instantaneous means to go from Divinity’s Reach to Ebonhawke very easily, they can basically set up something to get to Orr without going to Lion’s Arch. It’s still that, there’s the immediacy of problems right outside your gate versus of on the other side of the continent.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : And we’ve seen in the novel and the game that the peace process between the charr and the humans is making progress. I think their first priority is to finish that as best they can before getting into Orr.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : And there are also some implications in Guild Wars one when you get into the stuff with Vizier Khilbron and so forth, there are survivors of Orr. There are people who got away when the continent sunk. You’d need to look into those to see if any of those were move closely related to the throne because they might have a better claim. Not necessarily that they can pull it off-

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : A secret heir lost off-end.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Yeah a secret heir, a lord of Orr, because like I said, the queen’s descendency dates back to the first king of Kryta. But that is not necessarily as close to the throne as someone who’s great-grandfather was king.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : And Salma was a revealed ruler as well. They had lost the entire Krytan house. And then they found her, and therefore that’s a step as well.

GuildMag (Draxynnic): One thing I will comment on, coming back to the centaurs not leaving, it does strike me that if Orr was to be cleansed and the Pact would allow it, then Orr would be a good spot for humanity to retreat to if things got too tight in Kryta.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : They can certainly move some of their population but you’re never gonna have a situation where you say ‘Hello British people, there’s a lot of room in America!’


GuildMag (Draxynnic) : True enough.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : We’ll give you Jersey.

GuildMag (Draxynnic): Okay, so we mentioned Marjory’s story earlier on. There was an interesting exchange between Logan and Kasmeer at the end of the cutscene in the journal which finished with an interesting close-up on Kasmeer. There are some people who consider that to simply be surprise at seeing her in a hive of scum and villainy like that bar. Others are wondering if it may be more significant. If we were to ask Logan about Kasmeer and her family, what might he tell us?

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Kasmeer’s from a prominent family that’s fallen on hard times. So they’re no longer a wealthy family, they don’t have the kind of cash reserves that other noble families have; that’s the main reason that Kasmeer has a job. She needs to work to support herself. I spoke with Angel McCoy who wrote that scene that you were talking about and that last moment where Logan says ‘Lady Kasmeer!’ with a sort of shock. And according to Angel that is the long and short of it, that Logan was shocked to see such a high born woman of such refined and gentile manners in this hive of scum and villainy. And that sort of points to the larger story that she’s in that place because she works with Marjory and that’s Marjory’s instance. The uh – I forget the name of the bar, it’s got a great name, Last Chance Salone, uh –

GuildMag (Thalador) : Dead End.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Dead End that’s it! Yes, I think that Logan, being as plugged in as he is into Kryta’s society and Divinity’s Reach, he knows who Lady Kasmeer is and knows her background. I don’t think they’re close personal friends, Lady Kasmeer is close personal friends with Lord Faren. But Logan’s –

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : That’s Lord Faren.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Yeah, Faren’s friends with everyone.

AreaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Yeah, come on.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : But, yeah, I think that was really more of a shock and surprise to find such a fine woman in such a low dive situation.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : By the way, that particular cutscene I really like, I thought that was – (interruption by Scott) – I hold that up as an example of as we move forward we get better at everything; (interruption by Scott) that whole noir feel of that: ‘It was Thursday. Back in..’

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : And if I can detour from that, that kind of scene is a new storytelling tool we have. And that was the first time we were able to use it. I am really fond of them, I was really fond of the film noir effect that Angel stroll for and that the cinematic team delivered. But that kind of cinematic interaction, that’s a kind of storytelling device we’re going to see a lot more use in the future.

GuildMag (Thalador) : In Marjory’s story we also learn of “unusual” disappearances happening in Divinity’s Reach. We wonder how widespread these disappearances are, and whether the kidnapped people turn up one way or another, if they return at all.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Well that’s very much part of the mystery. This was the motivating event that prompted Marjory to leave the Ministry Guard, she didn’t want to be part of this corrupted institution anymore. At some in the future we intend to circle back and that will be Marjory’s origin story. How she got to be how she is. The story that Angel wrote, the prose piece, is a hint of that.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : So will it be resolved?

ArenaNet (Scott) : The plan is to.

GuildMag (Ollannach) : That’s great.

GuildMag (Ollannach): So I have a question I’m seeing on the internet quite often. With the living story about Marjory, we get a journal. Are we going to get any sort of personal story book in the future of the game that collects all the cutscenes, just like the personal story one?

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : You mean some kind of mechanism to replay the cinematics and cutscenes?

GuildMag (Ollannach) : Yeah, well the current journal takes up an inventory space. So I’ve seen people asking if it would be possible to have a menu like the personal story menu.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : That’s a technical hurdle we’re trying to overcome at the moment and we are working hard on it. I know I have a meeting later today to discuss that very issue, but yes we are working towards a better story tracking system for the living world.

GuildMag (Draxynnic): Okay, one thing I was wondering about: Kasmeer’s father, it’s mentioned that he’s one of the disappearances. Is there a story behind that?

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : There is but I can’t tell it here. (laughter) I’m not trying to be extra cagy but you’re hitting on a lot of the plot points that we’re planning to explore in future releases.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : It’s wonderful that you’re asking these-

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : I love the interest. I feel terrible I cannot satisfy your interest. But no, you’re on the right track. These are all things we want to explore and delve into deeper. I mean –

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : You’re in the first quarter of the book here.

GuildMag (Draxynnic): Fair enough… okay, let’s move onto some questions we had regarding Fractals. Okay so, in a previous interview with TowerTalk there was a tease of a mention of about just when the Cliffside Fractal takes place, but we still don’t know much about the Underwater and Volcanic Fractals. In the former we see some sunken statues which look a bit Elonian but the surrounding ruins feel Ascalonian. Can you shed some light on when and where that takes place?

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Uh, not very much I’m afraid. I feel like I’m letting you down here. But yeah, the existing fractals are all scattered far and wide throughout Tyria’s history and pre-history. Some of these things are from the time of myth and legend and so we can’t exactly verify exactly how they happened or how they connect to the modern world. That one, uh… yeah, I’m afraid that’s just going to have to be my answer for now.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : One of the things with Fractals is because they’re in the Mists, they are echoes. They are not true history, they are basically the resonant history.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Exactly, yes.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : So therefore you’re seeing a lot of combined feelings coming in sometimes. Maybe there is a place that had that Ascalonian Elonian crossover area. But just as easily, it may be the effect of the Mists.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : And, check me on this guys, the Mists as we define them – the Mists by definition: anything that can be there, or has been, can show up in the Mists. So we get some strange pairings sometimes. Sometimes, for examples, in the Urban fractal, it’s a recreation of the battle for Ascalon, but it’s not – it’s a recreation, not the actual – there’s no time travel involved, you’re not taking part in the actual battle.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : If it was just the actual battle, if it was just a very precise rendition of history, you couldn’t go fight there, you couldn’t do things there. The Mists very much are flexible because they’re like memories – you can go back in your own minds and sort of write someone into a memory where they weren’t there and what would have happened ‘if this person went to the movies with us.’ And the fractals are very simpler, the Mists are very simpler.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : It also makes it easier for the players who are of other races. No one’s saying ‘hey what’s an asura doing here’ or ‘what is this strange leafy creature.’ It opens the entire pasts for all of our races. Which is a cool thing and we basically use that as a sounding board and a starting place like our PvP Raid on the Capricorn, that’s a piece of history, there weren’t any norn there.

GuildMag (Thalador): Similarly in the Volcanic Fractal, it presents us an interesting setting: an abandoned mine, human captives, lava-infused with mystic powers, with bats and a crazed shaman turning into something a bit destroyer-like. Could it be a hint that Primordus can actually corrupt living beings since so far we’ve only been told that he can twist fire and stone.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : We’ve shown that from the early Eye of the North, and when we designed the Elder Dragons we were looking at them having specialties where they could corrupt more than just one type of substance. Some of them could affect life, some of them could affect inanimate objects, some of them could affect the elements, vegetation, water, you know they all had their some specialty but they also have some overlap and I believe Primordus, ‘cause we had the troll, the Destroyer Trolls who basically were very molten but also very humanoid as well. So I do believe that Primordus can affect the living.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : But probably not easily.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : But not with the same animating force you see from Zhaitan, reanimating the dead of Orr.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : I think that it’s, perspective wise, it’s more like the troll or the grawl has a layer of rock over them. They turn a little bit elemental in –

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb and Scott McGough) : Sort of like Jormag and the Sons of Svanir

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : The icier the Sons of Svanir, the more corrupted they are. I would say that Primordus can-

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : The rockier they are…

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Yeah.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : There are rules for the Elder Dragons but they’re not the same rules for every Elder Dragon.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : It’s kind of like he’s converting those living creatures into stone.

GuildMag (Draxynnic): Okay, so moving onto some questions regarding Zhaitan: Between some of the cinematics we see near the end of the personal story there’s quite a transmutation between those cinematics and his final form that we see in the Arah story dungeon. Was this simply a design decision to better reflect the feeling of Zhaitan’s necrotic powers and make him more of a Lovecraftian entity or is it the result of his weakening throughout Orr, such as being starved, taking their toll on his body?

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : It’s a combination of things. A lot of times when you see him in those earlier cinematics, those things are coming from a perspective of a character and that person saw a certain thing or perceived him or carried the image of him in a certain way from how they had interacted or they had seen the dragon or the dragon’s activities. At the end it’s… we wanted it to be a little more of a revelation too. You hadn’t just seen this creature four or five times and now you get to fight it – it’s a little different. It’s not quite what you were expecting. Some of that is impacted by what the player characters do throughout their personal story and how they weaken him and how they impact him directly and some of it is just storytelling.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Part of it too is that we evolved – behind the screen, we evolved as we moved forward as well. We did the early first (image of) Zhaitan awakening beneath the ocean. We were going that direction – we always had an Elder God feel to it, but it really crystallised around Kekei’s art piece, were we had a dragon that breathed dragon heads – that then breathed undead. Now, this is cool, this is different, this is what we really want to get to with the idea of making them, Elder Dragons, more alien, more outside the realm of your traditional, Glint-style dragon.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : I agree with everything that’s been said, but I also want to stress the second half of that that yes, the campaign of the Pact that is conducted in Orr has gone a long way towards weakening Zhaitan. We the storyteller worked with the designers and the artists to sort of present those last levels as a campaign. You enter Orr, and then it’s a very military progression. You kill of the spies when you kill the Eyes, you kill the food supplies when you kill the Mouths. All the things you do in Orr weaken Zhaitan.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : So he CAN be fought.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : And in the last few sections you actually hear him roar in anger and frustration after you complete something because you are making him weaker. It’s very much what Ree said but it’s also… I like that aspect of that sort of gameplay supporting the story and vice versa. This is a military campaign we’re conducting and it’s gone very well.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : It let us have a certain facet of the story where we had presented this Elder Dragon as completely undefeatable. Well, then, you can’t just march up to him and say “I’ve got my 80th level, thump, you’re dead!”

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : I hammer it with my sword.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : You need to have a legitimate reason why he can be defeated NOW, and that’s why the campaign in Orr follows that direction.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : And that’s why we have that big air battle at the end. So that’s just, basically, we have to get everything rolling.

GuildMag (Draxynnic) : I remember that discussion about the “dragon made of dragons” back before release, actually.

GuildMag (Thalador): Thank you. It concerns a lot of people that we never see Zhaitan’s corpse crushed under the debris of his last stand – that gigantic tower – and there’s also the incredible benefits that the studying of an Elder Dragon’s carcass could yield. And yet the Pact made no such expeditions yet. What might be the reasons behind that?

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : The idea is that we have many stories that we can tell, that we are going forward with, and while I don’t know if we’ve got anything in the docket right now – I’m not going to speak for anybody as far as process – the idea is that we do have a big dragon carcass somewhere out there.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Or potentially – when you go out there into the repeatable of Arah, when you go into that after thing where you’re… you’re dealing with his spirit.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : You’re dealing with the… well, no, you’re dealing with the fragments of the past as well. Basically that story of the elder races – I think that has a more prominent feel than the immediate “quick, let’s go loot the body”.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Yeah, it’s not a quick let’s go loot the body but while you’re in there, some of the justification is that while you’re in there you’re doing research, you’re looking into that, you’re dealing with some of the after effects of his spirit.

GuildMag (Draxynnic): Back in Guild Wars 1, we had that mention of the last appearance of the Giganticus Lupicus ten thousand years ago. And then the first people to get to the explorable dungeons in Arah were probably rather surprised to find the Giganticus Lupicus corpse sitting there waiting for them. Is there a story behind how one got to be there?

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : How one got to be there… I think brought from its original resting place by Zhaitans minions for that big arena, central cathedral area as a watchdog, as a guardian. The whole… In many ways, the whole tale of the Elder Dragons begins with that one line – that was the first line of the timeline. During the Cantha project I said ‘what does this mean’ – well, we have some big skulls out in the wilderness and we didn’t know what they were so that’s what they are. But when we started telling the story of the Elder Dragons it just fit in so neatly that well, if they’ve come before, when did they come? Hey, we have the Giganticus Lupicus being wiped out in this era! Oh, okay, THAT must have been the last time the Elder Dragons showed up, and the story evolved from there. It’s one thing we’re very good at moving forwards – we leave a lot of hooks so future designers, future storytellers, ourselves in the future have a lot of potential that we can build off.

GuildMag (Thalador): I was personally wondering that in the Crystal Desert back in Guild Wars 1 we saw lots of skeletons lying around and we considered them to be the skeletons of the Giganticus Lupicus.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Some of them are, yes.

GuildMag (Thalador) : When we see him – the recent specimen in the centre of Arah, he’s sort of a jackal-like, Anubis sort of thing, and yet the skeletons back in Guild Wars 1 were sort of draconic or with large tusks or larger…

GuildMag (Draxynnic) : Sea monsters.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : I think the look of the Giganticus Lupicus evolved over time – in the fact that we started off with “okay, here’s the skull, build us a creature that looks like this.” Giganticus Lupicus also – Lupicus has a wolf origin to it, so we were thinking in terms of wolves at the time, and from there we basically got to that jackal-headed, Anubis type of figure. So they basically… I could see the older, larger versions of the Giganticus giganticus would be the huge skulls, because of course, with limitations within the game we could only put the figure so large and still have you be able to fight it in any reasonable sense.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : And I think that much like the centaurs, you’re gonna have this ancient creature that has some distinction according to territory, according to how it has evolved. So you can have a couple of different skulls that have similarities but aren’t.

GuildMag (Ollannach): So we’ve also gone to Twitter and asked our followers to send us some questions. While we read through a few of them and chosen the ones that were most important. So… in Edge of Destiny it’s observed that men who go to fight Jormag’s minions and fail, return as icebroods but women don’t return at all. Is there anything more about what happens to women who fall under Jormag’s power?

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb): I don’t think they fall as much as they are killed.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Yeah, they die.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : The Sons of Svanir just… the way that they worship Jormag has evolved is very chauvinist, very male chauvinist, in the fact that it is a very boys-only club, they don’t really get to reanimate. The women are just slain.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : I think it’s less that Jormag won’t corrupt a woman and more that as they are being corrupted, the Sons of Svanir will just kill any woman who is caught being given Svanir’s gift.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Jormag doesn’t care. Jormag really does not care. It’s as if ants that are going off, the red ants and the black ants, that’s nice. But the Sons of Svanir…

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : The Sons of Svanir have a cult, it’s a religious organisation.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : It comes through hat funnel, the Sons of Svanir are his mechanism in the world, so therefore their beliefs, and their prejudices, have that effect.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : And so they kill the women.

GuildMag (Ollannach): And another question that someone wonders what the current situation is with the Zaishen order, has it shattered after the destruction of the Battle Islands or are they still in the PvP business? Why do we see so many non-humans in an order dedicated to the human god of war?

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Well, certainly the PvP and the battles in the Mists are not dedicated to the human god of war any more. The temple has… shamans of Bear who want to see norn fight and do well in battle, there are charr there with their atheistic tendencies, and it’s spread through the races.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : But the big thing is I think the way the Zaishen has reinvented itself in the wake of the destruction of the Battle Isles is they still have that component of combat to them but now they’ve spread out, they’ve become that large umbrella-type of order which can include asura and sylvari and others, so basically has dropped away its philosophical roots with Balthazar and embraced more the sense of conflict itself.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : One thing I’d like to see – a lot of our maps and a lot of our Into the Mists scenarios are very human-centric. I’d love to see a…

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : A lot a points in human history.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : A lot of other human history, most from that history, but I’d like to see one of… not even the norn being south or the asura being driven upwards but even… who was the first asura leader, how did he get that position, what were the ancient norn in their glory days of old. The original charr, what was it like…

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Foundation of Hoelbrak

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Even before, before the Guild Wars 2 chronology, what were the norn before they met the humans?

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : I think one of the reasons we see a lot of human history in the fractals and in PvP in the mists is the fact that we’re in Tyria and a lot of these races have come in. The asura, the sylvari are very recent, the norn… the charr I think have great potential there for what their history was, the early battles against the humans that were pushing in to their territory.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : It’d be neat to have one of those PvP battles be right after the death of the Khan-Ur, when his children are fighting among one another after his death.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : That War of Succession would just be… has a rich feel to it.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : And those things exist in the Mists. We’ve established the Mists as being memory, and being the history of the world in all places for all races, and the Zaishen order have changed for the same reason, they’re looking back at wars in all places and for all races.

GuildMag (Draxynnic): One I was wondering: In Guild Wars 1, Kryta extended not only further south, but further west than in the currently explorable areas. For instance, we had Loamhurst, which was just a little bit west of where the western border of Queensdale is now. Does modern Kryta continue to extend beyond the currently explorable regions towards the west and possibly to the north or is what we can currently explore all there is to Kryta nowadays?

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : We had originally planned for it to go west, but we didn’t make those maps.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Yeah, but we did not, and also looked further north as well.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Right above the lake.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Right above the Divinity’s Reach area, which we did not see fruition on, because we were basically looking at what do we need for producing the game. So the answer is: Yes, Kryta is larger than just what you see there, but that’s the core. That’s the heart of Kryta, right there, in the game, and where the borders are exactly… western side of Brisban Wilderness?

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : We roughly designed it but didn’t spell it out.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Again, foundation for future development.

GuildMag (Draxynnic): Speaking of the somewhat soft borders, one of the edge cases is Garrenhoff, it’s in a region that is classified as being Kryta and has a human population, but there doesn’t seem to be much sign of it being Krytan…

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : No Seraph there, no…

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : It is technically Krytan, but it’s Krytan in the way that the very distant regions of a lot of countries – they don’t pay a lot of attention to Kryta, they don’t really have people there

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : It’s also got that somewhat semi-independent city-state vibe to it.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : If you look at a map in Divinity’s Reach, it’d be marked as Kryta. Divinity’s Reach would mark it as Kryta.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Yeah, Divinity’s Reach would mark it as part of the area, but I don’t think they’ve seen an official from Kryta there.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : There isn’t a Minister from Garrenhoff

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : No, it’s very much this secluded territory underneath the shadow of the great floating castle and its warmness, its kind wizard.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : And its awesome cliff jump

GuildMag (Draxynnic) : Sounds kind of like the Two Rivers in Wheel of Time

GuildMag (Thalador): I think we’re done with the questions, although, it might sound a bit demanding, Ollannach mentioned something about the August Living Story, that we could get a glimpse or a morsel of what’s coming up in August.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Ahhh, okay, yes. It is the one-year anniversary of Guild Wars 2 release, so we have a celebration planned. It’ll be… not so much I want to give away, but it’ll be in Divinity’s Reach, we’ll be dealing with…

GuildMag (Draxynnic) : Interesting

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Sorry?

GuildMag (Draxynnic) :I was saying it’s interesting, considering how many have been in Lion’s Arch. Continue.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Yes, this one will be in Divinity’s Reach, the story will move to Divinity’s Reach, and we will follow up on some of our iconic characters. We are going to have a celebration, an anniversary party, that all the players are going to be invited to. There’s a different reason for it ingame – I think I’ll keep that to myself for now so it doesn’t spoil the surprise – but yes, the action in August will return to Divinity’s Reach, we’ll have a bit of a celebration, and then a bit of a surprise.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Drama, escapade, and shenanigans!

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : Fun for the whole family! Bring the kids!

GuildMag (Ollannach): Let me see… there are some other questions from readers, but they’re mostly speculation, I’m not sure if you can answer them…

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : One of the things is that we love speculation, okay, but again we don’t confirm or deny them…

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Send it to us, we’ll giggle over it.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : We love the fact because it’s an engagement, because people are, so I say, this must mean this, because of this statue, and this plaque, and this encounter, and that’s really cool, I really do enjoy that, and we do not comment in part because… we may pick up those pieces and do something else with them. It’s a living world, a growing world.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : It does help us see how subtle or unsubtle the story needs to be., what people pick up on and what they haven’t, what we need to say louder and what we’ve said enough.

GuildMag (Thalador): Just one more thing, I always wondered if you guys look at the forums, and get inspired or something about the theories going on there – so you see something there that’s actually very compelling or unlikely or…

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : We’ve actually even responded to some forum theories from time to time and say this is good or this is bad or that’s a bit of a stretch or maybe you should look over in this area.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : But I don’t think we’ve looked at anything and said “Oooh, that’s good, let’s do that”, it’s been more of a case of “Ooooh, that’s good, they’re getting it.”

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : Sometimes it’s a “Oooh, that’s good, we’d planned to go in that direction, and that’s a piece I can add to it.” Sometimes there are bits of lore that we’ve forgotten and somebody mentions and we go “oh yeah, that does tie in.”

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : In case I always when I see something like that I go back and check our own primary sources to see whether it’s coming out of our own primary sources or some other theory that they had two years ago.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : I want to echo what Jeff said, whether the theories we read on the forum are absolutely correct or if they’ correctly predicted what we planned to do or if it’s a case of “Oh, they’re out to lunch” - they’re way out in the left field with no correction to reality. We love the enthusiasm, we love when people put the time and effort into thinking, into trying to connect these dots. But we do plan ahead three, six, sometimes twelve months, so often when someone mentioned something that we’re planning to do in a different form than we don’t respond to it because we don’t want to give away the secret of it. But yeah, we don’t want to discourage theorising, we love that stuff.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : If nothing else, it helps get the gears flowing.

GuildMag (Ollannach): One example of such a question is that someone wants to know… in the human personal story we meet members of the White Mantle in Queensdale and Kessex. After their defeat in Guild Wars 1, they retreated to the Maguuma Jungle, where it was noted that they thrived in secret. Will there be more of them or will we hear more of them?

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : That is definitely a question.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : That is a good question. I think by the fact that we mention them in game you can assume that there is information out there, you can assume that there is part of the story in history or current that spawned what you have seen in that game. That that is not the only White Mantle cell, that is not the only piece of that story. As to when or how we will tell that we can not answer.

GuildMag (Ollannach): This actually hooks kind of into another question of a concerned fan, particularly because of the Living Story – she’s not really amused by the recent developments in Guild Wars 2, it all seems to be losing ground for short-term business decisions. She feels it’s more like a themepark where there’s minigames, jumping puzzles, etcetra, but not really bigger, lore-enhancing stuff. She’s mostly just concerned that because of the Living Story there’s only going to be small new lore added to the game, which will, in the end, result in a bigger story.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : We wanna be more epic, right, AND we have this huge, flying city, just, go for it. Whatever you want.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Well, two things. The reality of the situation is that this is our first year doing things this way, and after the initial game release and people got to experience all of the content that was in Guild Wars 2, we specifically tried to introduce some new characters to broaden things and stretch things out, and to make… a bit of surmounting the problems of how to make the iconics… we didn’t want them to be in two places at once.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : We don’t want to be continual.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : There’s a lot of stories to be told.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : This gets back to the whole big world concept. It’s more than just Destiny’s Edge, it’s more than just Kryta, it’s a larger world.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : That’s really the main surrogate, the Living World is much bigger than any one group of characters and so, we were expanding and adding to that. We wanted something cool to be happening every month, to make people come and check it out, but we’re also trying to lay the groundwork for a larger story, much more in the line of the epic story we saw in the personal story in the game launch and in the dungeons we saw.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : I’d like to refer this questioner to some of your earlier questioners who were asking questions like “What’s the background story behind this character in the cinematic! What’s the background story behind that character in the cinematic! What’s the background story between why Logan was there!” I think that story is there, but what we’ve done, a lot, is to, as Scott has said, we’ve put those characters there and made you want to ask questions. Is the lore there? Well, because you can’t answer the questions, I guess you can say that no, the lore is not all there so far, but I assure you it will be and you can see where it will be.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : And there’s a lot of stuff that’s under the hood and behind the scenes that isn’t appropriate to include in the story because it’s just background, but we will be delving into these as we explore these characters more fully.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : New PvP maps that show history stuff, new characters here to show areas of the world you haven’t been to yet.

ArenaNet (Scott McGough) : Callbacks to existing content and descendants of existing characters.

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : We’ve got a LOT of plans, we’re back to shenanigans – we’ve got a lot of them.

ArenaNet (Jeff Grubb) : I think our greatest regret is that we can’t do everything at once. We would love to address all of these in one giant monthly release but it’s not physically possible.

GuildMag (Ollannach) : I guess we’re done!

ArenaNet: (Ree Soesbee) : It was good to talk to you guys.

GuildMag (all) : Thank you too!

GuildMag (Draxynnic) : And… may your Life-Quest never blow up in your faces.

– Laughter –

ArenaNet (Ree Soesbee) : May your shenanigans never be found out.

– Laughter –