I'll go first! How's this for a story hook:
- Signs that the deep sea dragon is becoming active. Tentacled horrors appearing on the shore, seas become too dangerous to travel, Pact gearing up for a response, players prepare for another epic showdown with an Elder Dragon and then...nothing. All of a sudden, it all seems to die out.
- A while (a few weeks? Months?) later, a resurgence in water dragon minion activity, but a shift in their behaviour. They're attacking non-humans...but leaving humans alone. Not long after, a huge armada is spotted sailing past Elona and appears off the coast of Lion's Arch. It's the Empire of the Dragon! And someone flipped the switch from "isolationist" to "expansionist".
- The armada, led by the Protector General of the Empire of Cantha, is there with a message for the last remaining human kingdom: submit to our rule, and we will liberate Ascalon from the charr, we will safeguard you against the depredations of the asura, we will wipe out the sylvari, lest Mordremoth's influence re-assert itself, and we will end the threat of the Elder Dragons. And they have a secret weapon...
- You see, they tackled and ended the threat of the deep sea dragon themselves. They explain patiently (because how could the Krytans possibly know this?) that according to their astronomers, the Elder Dragons play an important role in balancing the magic of the world, so if you kill an Elder Dragon, you better replace it. Fortunately, the Empire of the Dragon had just the thing...
- It's mother-flipping Kuunavang! She's absorbed the magic of the deep sea dragon, and the Empire of the Dragon intend to use her to end the threat of the remaining dragons. And if they find it necessary to convince Kryta to accept their protection by force, they are willing to use Kuunavang in that as well. It's a twist on the formula we've seen so far - an Elder Dragon, under the control (for now) of one of the nations of Tyria, who are meddling with power that they cannot comprehend. It's an inversion of the player's relationship with Aurene and a cautionary tale of what could have been if the player had been a different person.
- The Canthans are opposed by Dragon's Watch and, of course, by the tengu, who were driven out of one homeland and aren't prepared to have the same thing happen again. They emerge from their isolation to take up arms against the Empire of the Dragon. Are the tengu playable? Well, since this is a wild fantasy, sure, why not?
- Is the player successful in stopping the Canthans? Well, probably not. Whatever's most interesting. Maybe they get captured - and taken to the heart of the Empire of the Dragon to share what they've learned. Their backup is limited, however - with the magic of the deep sea dragon under their control, the Empire of the Dragon truly rules the waves, and will not allow anything they perceive as a threat to follow.
- The player arrives in Cantha to find an empire in the throes of a golden age. The state is led by the Emperor, who the people of Cantha revere almost as much as the gods, but with the gods' recent withdrawal there are signs of civil unrest brewing. Leading the government is the Ministry of Purity (who are democratically elected - bad things happening in the world aren't always the fault of a few bad people at the top, although you don't want to get too close to real-world politics), who have harnessed a spirit of nationalistic zeal following the defeat of the deep sea dragon. Evidence of the struggle is everywhere, with the not-too-distant conflict having obviously taken its toll on Kaineng City and its environs. The player might even pick up one or two hints of an impending critical resource shortage. Maybe this is the Canthans' true motivation in vassalising Kryta...
- The story opens with the Battle of the Dominion of Winds and takes players on a voyage across the Unending Ocean, through the sunken ruins of the Battle Isles, out of the opulent halls of Raisu Palace, through the slums of Kaineng City into the mountains, down into the lush Echovald Forest, where the legacy of the ancient Kurzicks is carved into the very trees, to the shores of the Jade Sea. The secret to stopping the Empire lies deep in the prehistory of the land, dating back to the time of the last dragonrise.
- The story builds to an epic confrontation between Kuunavang and Tyria's own equivalent - Aurene. But can the world withstand a clash between two Elder Dragons?
- Ultimately, the Empire of the Dragon's ability to project its power across the world is fundamentally shaken, and in the aftermath it is revealed that Kryta was not the first or only human nation to become an imperial tributary. There is another...and it's time to explore it.
Now let's hear yours!