Flameseeker Chronicles: My name is Gwen

As we approach the height of the holiday season, we continue seeing a shift in the focus of the ArenaNet team. While there's not a complete move from Guild Wars 2 to Guild Wars 1, things are a bit more evenly divided thanks to Guild Wars: Beyond and the approaching Wintersday festivities.

I've mentioned before that it's interesting to watch Guild Wars 1 continue to progress and develop as its own game while at the same time begin telling the story of Guild Wars 2. That's a fine line to walk, and ArenaNet is balancing nicely. While the devs are doing their balancing act and we've got a little lull before Wintersday hits, I want to take a look at someone who is arguably the most iconic character in Guild Wars: Gwen.

Most of us have known Gwen since day one of our Guild Wars experience. She trailed around chattering and healing us. She skipped and twirled and stumbled. She became the face and voice of the victims of the Searing for us. She (sort of) welcomed us to the Eye of the North. And she became a legend that carried forward 250 years into Guild Wars 2. Love her or hate her, she is one of the cornerstones of the Guild Wars world. Follow along after the jump as I take a closer look at Gwen.


Flameseeker Chronicles wouldn't be complete without an account of the latest happenings in Massively Overpowered. MVOP began its Canthan journey this week by taking on Vizunah Square. I don't have a Livestream link for you this week, as I was unable to participate Thursday night due to a RL obligation, but my MVOP sources tell me it was a smashing success.

Vizunah is a fun mission and one of my favorites -- the insane amount of mobs makes it nuker heaven. As a highly social player, I also love it for its setup: It takes two full groups, each of whom start at opposite ends of the mission area and meet in the middle for a couple of huge chaotic battles. The Thursday night group wound up with two full parties thanks to MVOP players and allliance mates who jumped in to join the fun. I logged in to catch up the next day during a relatively quiet afternoon period and was joined by six guild and alliance mates. We tore through the mission handily -- with a few pauses to give Togo a swift kick to get him moving again.

Next week is Nahpui Quarter -- we'll be meeting at 9:00 p.m. EST in Japanese district 1. If you've got a character who needs the mission, or if you just want to hang out with us, you are more than welcome!


People have mixed feelings about Gwen. Some are fascinated by her, some are seriously annoyed by her, and some have no earthly idea what the big deal is. Why does she interest us so much?

I have to confess that I love Gwen. From the moment I met her in Pre-Searing almost four years ago, she made me laugh with her chattering. I sympathized a bit too -- she was a lonely kid with no real playmates of her own. Once I went to post-Searing, I wondered sometimes what had happened to her, and when I came across Sarah in the Underworld I had tears in my eyes.

I have two crystal clear memories from the Eye of the North preview weekend. One is of the godforsaken bunny cave (and my team's panicked yelling on Vent), the other is my arrival at the Eye of the North. The instant I saw that haircut I thought, "It couldn't be, could it?" When this mysterious figure said she was from Ascalon, my hopes rose. Then the camera lifted to her face, and she said, "My name is Gwen," and a huge grin broke out on my face. It was a fantastic moment.

Sure, she's just a fictional character, but we Guild Wars players often have a strong affection for the denizens of Tyria. I also think it's a testament to the extreme talent of the ArenaNet writers that Gwen has become such a rich, iconic character. But what of the Gwen of today? I joke about her never leaving the Hall of Monuments and her finely tuned sense of snark delights me. When she informed Keiran that she wore a little party hat in the Charr slave camps, I cracked up.

Underneath everything, though, Gwen has been through hell and back and is more than a little bit broken. She lost everything she knew and loved in a horrendous event; the aftermath of the event was even worse for her; and even now the hits just keep coming. Captain Langmar, someone she looks upon as a rescuer and mentor, is presumed dead.

I've heard so many people express impatience with her complaints and tell her to get over it, and I've had more than one urge to boot her out of my HoM with an admonition to "Cheer up, girl!" In the end, though, it's not so simple. Gwen didn't lose her homework or break a nail -- she was repeatedly and deeply traumatized.

That, I think, is half of the reason she fascinates us so much. The first half is the personal connection we made with her in Pre. Pre-Searing is a lovely place, but there is impending danger and everyone has something urgent he needs you to do now. Whether it's in preparing to fend off the Charr or dealing with the everyday problems of Ascalon, everyone is all business. In the midst of it is this lighthearted little girl who just wants to hang out with you and chat a bit. She's the most personal connection we made with an NPC. Knowing what happened to her after the Searing is important because Gwen was important on an individual level.

The second half is the knowledge that in spite of all of it, Gwen gets a happy ending. It seems impossible at this point -- she's bitter, angry, and lashing out at everyone around her. But she somehow manages to find love and a purpose in the end. And we get to follow her on that journey, just like she followed us over five years ago.

Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at rubi@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.