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Is further worldbuilding needed for your characters?


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Hi! I'm Mora, I have been roleplaying a few characters for about two years, and playing the Guild Wars franchise for around six years. A very enjoyable but also frustrating part of that experience was worldbuilding in Guild Wars 2, mostly around magic, politics, ancient ruins and delves, etc. I still periodically write an overly long grimoire of elemental spells, that my former guildmates likely remember and dread in equal parts. Which brings me to today's topic.

 

Is further worldbuilding needed for your characters? 

 

It's no secret that Guild Wars 2's lore can be extremely vague. We know very little about the practice of magic, for instance. The only human school of magic to be confirmed (via a gemstore product with no lore) is the Queensdale Academy. There doesn't seem to be any data for the language used in incantations, despite repeated mention of incantations in source material from both games. We know quite little about the upper limits of most magical crafts, meaning blood magic could make you into a nigh-immortal vampiric caster and you would find little lore to gainsay you. Not that I've done that... cough. Is it even forbidden to use mind control, or chaos magic, which is notoriously unpredictable? Is it allowed to raise corpses on the battlefield? Or in civilian life? Is there a codex of laws on magic that we don't know about? I could go on, but you get my point: at some point, when exploring a topic in roleplay, you will run into an area that lacks substance, and there are a number of options that you can go for.

 

The first one is, quite simply, headcanon. Logical supposition made from comparison with other source materials. For instance, the headcanon I use for nobility in Tyria, which is usually ill-defined at best, is a comparison to Tudor-era aristocracy: rich landowners with specific management powers over their community, but whose military, judicial or legislative power is derived from appointment by the Queen, or election to the Ministry. This in itself contains complications, for instance regarding the very principle election, because that has been a fluid concept throughout history. In an era when aristocracy still overwhelmingly controls the levers of power, it is uncommon to see universal voting, so I tend to believe that the electorate is smaller, perhaps an electoral college, or even regional customs and busybodies. 

 

What a guild believes in terms of lore and headcanon is going to be key to understanding that guild's fantasy and in-character rules, and that is pretty much down to lack of lore.

 

Of course, we cannot expect devs to write down lore on everything, but the fact that we still don't have any lore on any gemstore item, or even the 1st-generation legendary weapons is frustrating.  Lore, where it exists and is available even out of the game, can fuel the passions of roleplayers over years. I still remember the interview of Angel McCoy with Esprits d'Orr, which for years served as a basis for most speculation on magic. And while I welcome any dev answers, blogposts or articles on the practical, material nitty-gritty of roleplay, I know I would ultimately have more questions every time I got an answer.

 

So I wanted to ask this particular community if, within the intellectual property of Guild Wars, and with relation to the existing lore, they felt that major headcanon was needed to compensate the lore pitfalls, and whether they had guidelines they used for their own headcanon.

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12 hours ago, Adamixos.6785 said:

Seeing the most recent interview, Anet's response to this, I assume, would be "roleplay magic however you want." 🤷‍♂️

Honestly, some part of me kind of enjoys that freedom. While I'd definitely like more examples of how magic in GW2 works for certain, ESPECIALLY for Engineer and Revenant, I feel like the overall openness to magic really lets you get creative and work with less restrictions than other settings. After all, with how magic is present in GW2, as this all-existing thing that is literally everywhere and used by almost everyone, it'd be impossible to narrow down any one way it is used or operates. Again, I'd like more clarification into how it functions and how it is classified, but not so much that it removes that ability to do as you'd like.

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I agree with most of what you say here; the openness of magic in GW2 is not just a problem, but also a considerable strength if you have creative players. The problem comes from having to build most of the practical lore you're going to use from the ground up, which can cause lore conflicts within a given guild. I think all experienced roleplayers have horror stories of that one loremaster putting down every shred of creativity, or the opposite end of the spectrum, the coexistence of a thousand conflicting headcanons. 

 

However, I would still argue that there is a clear middle ground, simply because of how... variable magic can be. The idea of a magical force that reacts to belief and willpower, and has evolved throughout history to constitue fluid schools of magic means that there are likely dozens of different philosophies of magic. You could have an Asura using complex theorems to cast magical spells, or a Zephyrite who basically does elemental bending. You could have a Sylvari whose mesmer magic unfolds through song and dance, or a human scholar who researches incantations written in ancient languages, constantly adjusting his glasses on his crooked nose while he blows the dust away from mouldy grimoires. Giving us four or five philosophies of magic would stimulate and guide player creativity, so long as it was clear those philosophies were far from all-encompassing.

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