Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Flameseeker Chronicles: Crashing Guild Wars 2's anniversary bash

Anatoli Ingram

ArenaNet's latest release for Guild Wars 2, the Queen's Jubilee, takes place in the human capital city of Divinity's Reach. Not everyone is as giddy about this as I am. Humans are boring. Do we really need another festival-based event? Where's the real lore? However, Divinity's Reach is a hotspot for plot-based drama and intrigue, and setting an event there does more than just encourage players to return to the city for the sake of livening it up: it also sets the stage for ArenaNet to (hopefully) revisit some of the plot elements introduced at the launch of the game.

The update will have gone live by the time this article is published, but chances are we won't know every bit of the story right away, so I'm going to take this opportunity to recap some of the pieces on the chess board which could make this event important to more than just humanity. This will necessarily include massive spoilers for the plot of GW2.

The Ministry

The ministers were interim rulers of Divinity's Reach before Queen Jennah came of age. They got used to the power, and the human nobles got used to having people in charge who were willing to put their interests first. Many of them feel that Legate Minister Caudecus Beetlestone would be a better leader than Jennah, and Minister Caudecus agrees. This is because Caudecus is a narcissist with delusions of grandeur who would hurt his own flesh and blood for a chance at the throne, but hey -- nobody's perfect.

Nothing would make many of the ministers and nobles happier than finding a way to paint Jennah as a silly young girl who is too immature to handle the responsibility of leadership, and to make the Seraph look like an incompetent, corrupt waste of money. In fact, a great deal of the human personal story involves uncovering their plans to do exactly that: the bandits are being supported by Caudecus's allies, and have been directed where to attack in order to spread the Seraph's resources thin and cause its maneuvers to fail.

In reality, Jennah is an intelligent, compassionate woman who is well aware of the plots and intrigue surrounding her; she's savvy enough to not let on how much she knows, which allowed her to ensnare Caudecus at the end of Caudecus' Manor story mode and keep him under her watchful eye while still appearing to be above reproach. Her people are split, however -- she's often blamed for not being able to help everyone, and her enemies use that to turn public opinion against her wherever possible. Right now Jennah has the upper hand, but what could work out better for the campaigns against her than a horrible disaster at the very event meant to celebrate the anniversary of her reign?

Unfortunately for Jennah, there may be just such a disaster lurking beneath the Crown Pavilion -- one that might let the Ministry reap the benefits without even getting their hands dirty.

Flameseeker Chronicles Crashing Guild Wars 2's anniversary bash
"Drakes" in the sewers

Until recently, the Great Collapse was a giant, scary hole where the arts and entertainment district of Divinity's Reach used to be. The official story is that weak foundations caused the sewer system to cave in, and the Seraph and Shining Blade had advance warning, allowing them to evacuate everyone with zero casualties and nearly full reimbursement of lost property. At first glance, it would seem that it was just an unfortunate accident, and it's a darn good thing Queen Jennah finally decided to fill the pit with something nice. Whew!

But then things get creepy.

A man standing outside the gates to the area tells his companion that the collapse makes him uncomfortable, and that he's heard strange noises coming from it. A sylvari NPC innocently mentions that the hole looks similar to sinkholes made by tunneling animals. Interacting with a street grate elsewhere in the city yields a dialogue box about hearing noises and wondering if rumors about drakes in the sewers might be true. Two Seraph talk having found "another body" in the sewers in hushed tones. Even miles away in Hoelbrak, you can find norn hunters discussing the possibility of a dangerous creature living in the hole. And the Ministry Guard has been trying to gain access to the area, only to be shooed away by the Shining Blade.

All of this plays into several potential outcomes: some kind of unknown creature might have caused the collapse; the Seraph and Shining Blade may know about it (or at least suspect); and if ArenaNet hasn't chosen to retcon all of this, Jennah couldn't have chosen a more dangerous location in the city for her jubilee. If there is something deadly down there which is either big or numerous enough to have caused the sinkhole, the noise of the celebration probably wouldn't make it particularly happy. And if it emerges, it could spell political ruin for Jennah.

It would be bad enough to have an uninvited monster show up to crash the party, but even worse if Jennah or her allies can be credibly accused of knowing about the danger and choosing to build in the area anyway. Jennah hasn't said anything about the collapse personally, but the Shining Blade and Seraph are loyal to her. The Ministry would be bound to start asking questions immediately: How much did Jennah's people know, if they were able to move everyone out ahead of time? Why did they keep the citizens of Divinity's Reach in the dark if there was evidence of danger? Why was Jennah so grossly uninformed if she didn't know what her allies knew, and if she did know, isn't it awful that she ignored the threat just to throw herself a childish, expensive party?

Flameseeker Chronicles Crashing Guild Wars 2's anniversary bash
The White Mantle

The White Mantle are a group of ancient cultists with a long-standing grudge against the line of Queen Salma, who led the Krytan resistance -- the original Shining Blade -- to victory against them in the original Guild Wars. Jennah is Salma's descendant, and the Shining Blade are now the queen's personal guard. The White Mantle are still jerks, and their goals are suspiciously in line with those of the Ministry. It's never confirmed that they're working with Caudecus, but they've got a few ministers in their pockets and have been inciting disgruntled poor citizens (such as Riot Alice,
whose father died in the supposedly casualty-free collapse and is convinced of a Shining Blade cover up) to join the bandits. That's either a clue, or the world's cutest coincidence.

While it's unclear where they would fit in the story of this particular release, their absence in the "historical enemies of Kryta" exhibit that is the Crown Pavilion Arena is conspicuous. Of all Kryta's ancient foes, the White Mantle and Mursaat are arguably the most important; they didn't just attack the kingdom, but held it captive under tyrannical rule while abusing its citizens for years. According to the lore of GW2, the Mantle is commonly believed to be completely defunct, and possibly even to have never existed at all, but Logan Thackeray and Countess Anise know better, and if they know it's almost certain that Jennah knows as well. Including these particular foes in the festivities as enemies of the kingdom would surely tip Jennah's hand, but from the perspective of GW2's writers it might be a timely opportunity to have the Mantle and its menacing "gods" rear their nasty heads again.

Marjory's Story, a relatively recent official lore release, explains the background of living story character Marjory Delaqua and reveals that she left the Ministry Guard after discovering that it was covering up a terrible crime. The sole witness is murdered before Marjory can learn the name of the culprit, but she does learn the nature of the crime: a woman was taken into a cellar by a minister and tortured with dark magic. I won't go so far as to suggest that the minister in question might have been Caudecus, or that he could have been experimenting with a gift from his unseen masters, because it would be crude to accuse the man without evidence. Draw your own conclusions.

On that not-at-all sinister note, I hope everyone's decided what they'll be wearing to the celebration! I'll be in full armor, since fighting stuff is always a great excuse to avoid making small talk with the beautiful people. Got any ideas about what might be in store for us? Looking forward to beating up robots? Have an unexpressed passion for hot air balloon travel? Let us know in the comments below, and I'll see you at the party!

Anatoli Ingram suffers from severe altitis, Necromancitosis, and Guild Wars 2 addiction. The only known treatment is writing Massively's weekly Flameseeker Chronicles column, which is published every Tuesday. His conditions are contagious, so contact him safely at Equip cleansing skills -- just in case.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr