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Flameseeker Chronicles: Returning to a simpler time in Guild Wars

Some days, saving the world from Elder Dragons just feels like such a drag. Every time you put a dragon lieutenant down, you know that another one is, even then, being knit together from crystals or rotting corpses and it won't be all that long before it's time to save the world again.

That sort of knowledge can really take a toll on a girl.

Making full use of the magic of technology, I've started escaping the pressure of dragonfighting by going back into Guild Wars. Because it's the game that most directly relates to the state of affairs in Guild Wars 2, I've been playing the original Prophecies campaign. I've also been streaming the experience for the uninitiated, so if you'd like to catch up and live the adventure vicariously through me, you can check out the first bits on Massively's Twitch channel. If you'd like to quickly familiarize yourself with where Prophecies sits in the grand scheme of things, I recommend acquainting yourself with our brief history of Tyria.

It's been a neat experience so far. I'd like to talk about it with you.

Flameseeker Chronicles Returning to a simpler time
A thorough history lesson

Guild Wars is dense. I don't mean that in any bad way. Lore-wise, it's like a nutrient-rich brick. For those of you who're unfamiliar with Prophecies, there's a sort of tutorial mode that takes place before a rather significant plot event. That tutorial mode, called pre-Searing (in which you can level all the way to max level, if you like), is just filled to the brim with things that will come back to haunt* us in Guild Wars 2.

*The joke is that most of them are ghosts.

Really, though -- I couldn't accept two quests without running into someone who was going to figure into the scenery of the early Charr experience 250 years later. Duke Barradin? Check. Captain Calhaan? Check. Vatlaaw Doomtooth? Double-check.

But you just have this moment when you're watching the Charr break through the wall during the Searing and everything just kind of sinks in. These Charr aren't just totally wrecking the scenery, leaving you with about five levels of nasty dust and desert out to the horizon. They're pushing past Ascalon; they'll make it all the way to Orr. Yeah, Orr. They're going to scare the humans there so badly that one of those humans is going to sink the entire city rather than letting it fall to the Charr.

Where did all the gargoyles go?

I was really distraught about this puzzle during part of the stream. See, there are no gargoyles in Guild Wars 2, but Ascalon is chock-full of them. I remembered reading somewhen and where about gargoyles disappearing. As it happens, they mysteriously vanished from Ascalon in or around 1185 AE (roughly 140 years before present-day Guild Wars 2 and 115 years after pre-Searing). Specific species don't just mysteriously disappear, you know? I mean, if they'd died during the time that Prophecies takes place, that would make sense. I personally slaughtered like thirty of them just to get enough skulls to trade in for a pair of shoes.

(As a side note, I think the disappearance of collectors as we know and are mildly disturbed by them in Guild Wars is probably for the best. I always had to wonder about someone who would hang around out-of-the-way places begging each and every traveler for skulls, scalps, or -- I kid you not -- eyeballs. What could you possibly need that many eyeballs for?)

I don't know if we're ever going to find out about the Great Gargoyle Emmigration of 1185. Did the animators just not get around to gargoyles? Did the Charr decide they were particularly tasty? Where did they go?

In the realm of other unanswerable questions: What the @#$! happened to the economy? Platinum, once the highest form of currency (aside from ectoplasm) has become so common as to have gone out of style as a monetary measure, while gold has gone through a staggering inflation.

Flameseeker Chronicles Returning to a simpler time
Hindsight is 20/20

If you've gone into the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon for even a little bit, you've probably noticed that King Adelbern was a bit of an eccentric individual. What I'd forgotten was how much you really see that in the way-early stages of Prophecies. It was one thing when he sent my character off to fight the Charr; that makes sense. It was another when he sent me out with the goal of basically kicking out the Krytan ambassador -- that is, the ambassador from another human nation. He's suspicious and unfriendly to the extreme, and I keep wanting to say something along the lines of, "You know, Rurik, family ties aren't all they're cracked up to be. Also, how would you feel about helping me steal your father's sword? Yeah, I have a feeling it'll be important later on."

Gameplay and things

I was really pleased with myself for not falling flat on my face upon re-entering the world (and mechanics) of Guild Wars. That actually may not be the best metaphor; Guild Wars literally makes it impossible to fall on your face. You can't fall over anything. The world is full of insurmountable waist-height fences, gentle slopes of unclimbability, and knee-deep water of uncrossiness. But I didn't try to dodge (much, that is, after the first half hour or so), didn't rely on having downed state or rallying, and didn't try to cast while moving all that frequently. It's a very different game, but I've spent so long playing it that I wasn't hideously confused upon going back to it. (Although, interestingly, when I was back in Guild Wars 2 today, I tried running up to the edge of a cliff, expecting an invisible wall to catch me so I could sit comfortably out of everything's aggro range and, uh, I fell. Oops.) Going back to such a different game has been less of an ordeal than I imagined, and it's been quite the practical history refresher to boot.

As it is, my brand-new character for this play-through has hit level 7. She's just barely started the storyline. One thing I actually quite enjoyed about Guild Wars's level cap was that you could expect to hit it well before the story was over. When you think about it, she's really almost halfway to her max level, and we've just barely gotten out of the tutorial.

I'm hoping to keep up this streaming adventure; do let us know if it's the sort of thing you enjoy. I'm having a blast, so I'll keep playing either way, but it is such fun to share these experiences with you.

Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at

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