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Sylvari - Hive Minded Drones

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#1 Zarffa

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 05:22 PM

I have been struggling with whether or not to make a Sylvari or Human Guardian. One of the things that I enjoy is coming up with a backstory to give my characters motivation. This is both hindered and supported by Guild Wars 2's Personal Stories.

When it came to a Human Guardian I was toying around with the idea of her being raised among the nobility but having never known her parents. My idea was that she is a Guardian because she was raised that it was her duty to take care of people. Obviously she excelled a tad more at fighting than ruling, but that is neither here nor there.

However, what is the motivation for a Sylvari becoming a Guardian? Well, before "birth" Sylvari have "dreams" and that is what determines their role. That sounds an awful lot like an excuse for being bred for specific purposes. In Sylvari lore there is mention that the Sylvari may have suddenly appeared as a means to combat the Elder Dragons. There is also some rumors going around that the Pale Tree herself is a dragon, making Sylvari her minions. Either way I get the strong feeling that the Pale Tree is the queen, and all her little Worker Sylvari are manufactored to do specific tasks. While this is awesome as a enemy (Ender's Game) or just badass in real life (ants) playing as one makes me uncomfortable.

I cannot get behind making a Sylvari whose profession was predetermined and ultimately has no choice in the matter. I post this as an interesting take on a beloved species and as a plea to anyone that knows more than I to do away with this silly idea and help me see what it actually means to be Sylvari such that I may avoid having two Human characters.

#2 Thalador

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 05:31 PM

As far as I know, the Pale Tree only decides on her children's gender, while everything else that defines them comes from the Dream (which the Pale Tree cannot fully influence - at least not in the sense to give them purpose) and their soul. Imo, your sylvari character would become a guardian because he or she had those traits in his or her soul or because he or she felt/saw something in the Dream that shaped him or her to use magic in the guardian's way and walk its path.

Edit: oh, and the Pale Tree being an Elder Dragon is the most ridiculous conspiracy theory I've ever heard (on par with the Moon and 9/11 ones) that is contradicted by established lore.

Edited by Thalador, 14 August 2012 - 05:21 PM.


#3 Blixcoe

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 05:36 PM

Go for the race you like the most. You don't have to make up your own insane history behind all this to match your character, play the race you feel is the coolest one that matches your wants.

#4 Leold

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 09:52 PM

While the Pale Tree is their mother and acts as their queen, she doesn't seem to have control over what individual Sylvari will experience in the Dream or their thoughts and actions outside of the Dream (otherwise there would be no
Nightmare Court).  Through the Dream of Dreams, they receive some experiences from the memories of other Sylvari including general knowledge and basic training in a profession.  Sylvari players also receive a calling known as a Wyld Hunt, a special mission in life that they feel compelled to fulfill and is normally unique to each individual (not for the PC, they share a calling to fight the dragon Zhaitan and it's minions).  They also see the Pale Tree's memories of Ventari and the principles of his tablet.  But it is my understanding that outside of their calling, the Dream doesn't influence their actions and decisions beyond their "upbringing", once they enter the real world they only connect to other Sylvari through dreams.  So what a Sylvari experiences in the Dream is similar to all the uncontrollable factors in a human's origin, their status in society, their parentage and relatives, and the principles they were raised on as children are chosen for them.

My Sylvari Mesmer saw visions of many other Sylvari, but was most impacted by the memories of another Sylvari mesmer, a peerless swordsman who combined his skills with his mesmeric magic to keep enemies off-balance and his friends safe from harm.  He understood from these images that the ultimate purpose of skill in combat is to protect those without the ability to defend themselves, and as a result, the Ventari principle closest to his heart is his command to "Act with wisdom, but act".  As a Sylvari born in the Cycle of Noon, he is driven to action and combat, but he has seen the Cadeyrn, founder of the Nightmare Court (this link, very good information on the Sylvari race as well, http://www.arena.net...m-and-nightmare), in his Dream and is determined to stay away from that path and the demented thinking of the Nightmare Court.  Besides his calling to combat Zhaitan, he saw the White Stag in his Dream and is determined to seek it out once he enters Tyria.

#5 Red J

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 11:06 PM

This, folks, is what happens when you take baseless speculation here at forums as a fact.

#6 MyTabbycat

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 11:17 PM

Some Sylvari cannot handle the oneness of the dream. These become the Soundless - Sylvari who have separated themselves from the dream and cut themselves off from the shared consciousness.

Quote

"I don't understand. The Dream feeds us!"
"It doesn't feed me. It forces itself down my throat until I'm gagging on it."
"I'll be lonely."
"Perhaps. But I must go. I must find a way to break this curse."
"The Dream is not a curse!" -sylvari conversation

There are other Sylvari, turned evil by the nightmare court. Those are the ones who try to end the influence of Ventari's teachings. They seek to "free" the pale tree from what they consider to be an outside influence. Beware though that if you choose to play such a Sylvari, they is no recovering from the grasp of the nightmare court. It is permanent. I'm not even sure if it's possible to choose such a path in the game.

If you don't like the idea of the Sylvari "Hive mind" and pre-determined path, you might find it interesting to play as a Soundless Sylvari.

#7 Aveneo

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 12:16 AM

We are the Borg! Lower your shields and surrender your gnomes. We will add your biological and technological shrubberies to our own. Resistance is futile!

#8 draxynnic

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 07:19 AM

Biologically, comparing the Pale Tree and the sylvari to an ant queen and workers/soldiers is a fairly apt one. However, while the 'hive mind' concept is a common one in science fiction, in truth just how much control does the queen have over a single ant? Probably not much more than a human has over their white blood cells. The ants instinctively seek to protect and serve their queen, but they decide among each other how to do it, rather than the queen exerting some overall influence.

Returning back to the sylvari - each sylvari does have free will in how to serve, ignore, or even defy the Pale Tree. As far as we know, the Pale Tree has no control over what parts of the Dream a gestating sylvari will be exposed to - in fact, if she did, then she'd be able to filter out the Nightmare from the Dream. Instead of each sylvari being individually pre-programmed by the Pale Tree, your character would be the result of the random portions of the Dream your character experienced and how your character responded to them.

In short, sylvari do indeed have free will despite their unusual social structure and means of reproduction.
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#9 Zarffa

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 08:44 AM

View Postdraxynnic, on 14 August 2012 - 07:19 AM, said:

Biologically, comparing the Pale Tree and the sylvari to an ant queen and workers/soldiers is a fairly apt one. However, while the 'hive mind' concept is a common one in science fiction, in truth just how much control does the queen have over a single ant? Probably not much more than a human has over their white blood cells. The ants instinctively seek to protect and serve their queen, but they decide among each other how to do it, rather than the queen exerting some overall influence.

Returning back to the sylvari - each sylvari does have free will in how to serve, ignore, or even defy the Pale Tree. As far as we know, the Pale Tree has no control over what parts of the Dream a gestating sylvari will be exposed to - in fact, if she did, then she'd be able to filter out the Nightmare from the Dream. Instead of each sylvari being individually pre-programmed by the Pale Tree, your character would be the result of the random portions of the Dream your character experienced and how your character responded to them.

In short, sylvari do indeed have free will despite their unusual social structure and means of reproduction.

Thank you Draxynnic for the well thought out and articulated response. Being unable to filter out the Nightmare Court is a very good counter agrument.

View PostThalador, on 13 August 2012 - 05:31 PM, said:

As far as I know, the Pale Tree only decides on her children's gender, while everything else that defines them comes from the Dream (which the Pale Tree cannot fully influence - at least not in the sense to give them purpose) and their soul. Imo, your sylvari character would become a guardian because he or she had those traits in his or her soul or because he or she felt/saw something in the Dream that shaped him or her to use magic in the guardian's way and walk its path.

Edit: oh, and the Pale Tre being an Elder Dragon is the most ridiculous conspiracy theory I've ever heard (on par with the Moon and 9/11 ones) that is contradicted by established lore.

View PostRed J, on 13 August 2012 - 11:06 PM, said:

This, folks, is what happens when you take baseless speculation here at forums as a fact.

As for Thalador and Red J, the two rather dramatic responders. WoodenPotatoes ( a well respected member in the Guild Wars 2 community) has just recently posted a video on just this very subject matter. Equating an interesting perspective or take on a character in a video game and people that are not fully grounded in reality seems a bit unnecessary and counter productive. I don't recall a single person ever using the word "fact" nor is it entirely baseless. Whether or not the Pale Tree is a dragon is moot. My perspective of the Sylvari species being more like a hive than a community is an opinion.

Had I known we had such zealous Sylvari fanbois I would have raised my concerns in a more senstive manner.

Edited by iToasterHD, 14 August 2012 - 08:45 AM.


#10 Thalador

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 05:38 PM

There are two spot-on reactions to the post above.


Oh, took me some time to recover from the shock.

By the way... hmm, how should I say... I just picked apart your illustrious, well-respected WoodenPotatoes' "hypothesis." Here's the link if you are interested: http://www.guildwars...80#entry1732099

And I'm so fond that you react so nicely to a helping comment. It's so good to know that when I try to put someone's doubts to rest they respond in such a heart-warming manner... D'awwwww... my faith in humanity is restored...

P.S.: To be honest, I believe it's better to be a so-called sylvari fanboi than to be a blind fanboi of someone who can be wrong just like everyone else.

Edited by Thalador, 14 August 2012 - 05:46 PM.


#11 Snowboi

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 05:55 PM

As a human you are still following Queen Jenna.

Darn mesmers.

#12 Zarffa

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 03:56 PM

View PostThalador, on 14 August 2012 - 05:38 PM, said:

There are two spot-on reactions to the post above.


Oh, took me some time to recover from the shock.

By the way... hmm, how should I say... I just picked apart your illustrious, well-respected WoodenPotatoes' "hypothesis." Here's the link if you are interested: http://www.guildwars...80#entry1732099

And I'm so fond that you react so nicely to a helping comment. It's so good to know that when I try to put someone's doubts to rest they respond in such a heart-warming manner... D'awwwww... my faith in humanity is restored...

P.S.: To be honest, I believe it's better to be a so-called sylvari fanboi than to be a blind fanboi of someone who can be wrong just like everyone else.

I apologize, the fanboi comment was a bit harsh and I should have been more careful.

I haven't played the game so I hold no opinions on the matter of what or who the Pale Tree is. It just doesn't seem as cut and dry as you and Red J are making it out to be. I might check out the link you posted, as I said I am not really concerned with whether or not the Pale Tree is a dragon. That can be a subject of another thread.

I do, however, dislike the idea of the Pale Tree. I've always had a soft spot for leaders that earn respect and loyalty rather than just assume power because they have "royal blood" or because they happen to be the creator of the entire species. If I were a Sylvari I would not go the route of the Nightmare Court but it isn't entirely imppossible that I would question Sylvari heirarchy and perhaps establish the Indifferent Court. Unfortunately, all of this is speculation and is not driven from actual game play.

Again, I want to apologize for the harsh response.

#13 Ramei Arashi

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:08 PM

The Pale Tree doesn't assume power, she doesn't even try to force sylvari not to join the Nightmare Court.  She lets her children go their way then suffers grief over their loss, because once they fall to Nightmare they can't be restored.

#14 Red J

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:10 PM

View PostiToasterHD, on 15 August 2012 - 03:56 PM, said:

-snip-

I guess I should apologize as well for my post coming up a bit harsh. It wasn't aimed directly on you. What I meant is people here have tendency to present hypotheses as theories and theories as facts, which results in more theories and more speculations based on these hypotheses.

As said earlier. The Pale Tree has no direct control over her children. What Sylvari learns and sees in the Dream of Dreams seems to be completely random, though strong emotions and experiences are said to have higher chance to appear in one's Dream.

After their birth the Sylvari are connected to each other much less than in DoD. It's more like stronger version of empathy. There is no direct connection to the Pale Tree except the fact that what they do and experience have some chance to get into the Dream.

#15 Brynjar

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:50 PM

View PostiToasterHD, on 15 August 2012 - 03:56 PM, said:

I do, however, dislike the idea of the Pale Tree. I've always had a soft spot for leaders that earn respect and loyalty rather than just assume power because they have "royal blood" or because they happen to be the creator of the entire species.

Considering that even below the Pale Tree, the sylvari leaders are the 'Firstborn' who are leaders by virtue of being born first, I expect you'd dislike that aspect too.

As far as racial leaders who have earned their position, we'd be looking at the Norn (who technically don't HAVE a leader, just people they respect and might listen to if they felt like it), the Charr, and the Asura. Though, with the Asura, apparently being leader is more of something to avoid rather than respect, so you might just be looking at the Norn and Charr.

#16 ProfGast

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 09:40 PM

Funny that you say you're not a fan of the Pale Tree for reasons of royalty when...

Guild Wars 2 Wiki said:

Queen Jennah, Queen of Kryta and Regent of Ascalon, descendant of Queen Salma and thus of King Doric, is the ruler of the last Tyrian human nation

That said you should probably try reading some of the Sylvari write-up pieces, since they have some interesting perspectives from the Founder of the Nightmare Court (evil Sylvari) and a few of the Firstborn.  From the impression I've gotten, the Firstborn aren't actually the LEADERS, but more respected elders due to being in the world the longest, and being closest to the Pale Tree.  And while the Pale Tree nurtures and influences the development of all of her children, and attempts to lead them in the right direction, she doesn't seem to impose on her children any more than the parent of another culture might.

#17 The Greyhawk

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 07:19 AM

As stated in the White Stag storyline, when the character meets the Avatar of the Tree, the Tree itself states that she does control the Dream, but is merely its caretaker.

#18 Brynjar

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 08:58 AM

So does that mean the Dream predates the Pale Tree?

#19 Generic Fantasy Name

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 08:52 PM

View PostRamei Arashi, on 15 August 2012 - 04:08 PM, said:

The Pale Tree doesn't assume power, she doesn't even try to force sylvari not to join the Nightmare Court.  She lets her children go their way then suffers grief over their loss, because once they fall to Nightmare they can't be restored.

For a moment there, I was picturing the Pale Tree not as a dragon but as Harbinger.

Sylvari: La de da de do! *walks on by*
Pale Tree: Assuming direct control!

#20 Lyall

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 08:54 PM

While Sylvari roles are often pre-determined, their personalities are very much their own.

Kileen from the GoA novel was a sparkling personality and I'd defy anyone to say that they didn't like the blacksmith from the Green Knight story path.

#21 The Greyhawk

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 09:58 PM

View PostBrynjar, on 16 August 2012 - 08:58 AM, said:

So does that mean the Dream predates the Pale Tree?
Unlikely, so far as we know.  It is a part of her, in one fashion or another.  I really can't say its something I understand perfectly, though.

#22 SlappedYak

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 10:53 PM

Interesting that you arrived on the conclusion that the sylvari are "hive minds" - by that logic, humans are also "mindless drones" because the gods created them and gave them paths to follow (destinies) ;)

The Pale Tree, at least how I understand it, to the sylvari is the embodiment of the Earth Mother, a deity, a force of nature, given a female prefix because she is the giver of life to the sylvari. I wouldn't say the roles are "predetermined" - because that implies some kind of conscious decision to only show certain bits of the dream to certain individuals but I actually don't think it's like that. I don't think the pale tree is an "interfering god" I don't think she is benevolent, or malicious, I don't think that level of conscious planning exists.

I envisage The Dream as a kind of collective consciousness, of which the Pale Tree is just a storage container or a "caretaker" I think would be better if you like, a big ocean of thoughts swirling around, all inter connected. Now when an individual is born (or germinated xD) it's like they get to dip a cup into that dream, and have that tiny portion of it as their innate knowledge, their personal dream (which is why sylvari aren't all knowing). Now, I don't think it's that the Tree partitions off bits of dream to give to one people, but of course your dream effects your story and your personality. Fate is something much bigger than the tree herself. Consequently I don't think sylvari are hive minded minions any more than any profession is "hive-minded minion" to Fate! Of course if you are a determinist we are...but yeh, side track :P

There is something quite nice and spiritual about that idea of connectedness, but of course individuals are individuals, they are given free reign to follow their dream, or to reject it, or to interpret it in a different way - for example just look at the Ventari tablets, like any holy text, even a set amount of words can have really interesting and diverse interpretations.

But this idea of fate determining what profession you are, you could say it for any of the races to be honest! But it is not the pale tree, she is not making decisions, saying "you must be a warrior, you must fight the dragons". You say you are considering a guardian, well I think there is a great deal of scope for that within sylvari lore, one of the ventari tablets talks about all living things having a right to grow, if that was your main teaching i.e you decided/interpretted it that way , it would make sense that you wanted to uphold the virtues, protect innocents and punish the wicked, very neatly into the "guardian" RP side of things.


Also, the pale tree is not a dragon...I know lore is speculation, but that itself is complete rot I'm afraid. The most convincing theories I've heard put her as a kind of "divine intervention" by "something bigger" (maybe bigger even than the human gods, they haven't been very interested for the last 250 years!), to restore a balance to a world thrown into imbalance when the dragons awoke. Dragon's aren't complex, they aren't given "oh they're evil and killing us all, but what about their motives" they are just hungry, they (like the reapers in ME hehe..) awake, consume the world until they cannot support themselves and enter "hibernation". The pale tree is very clearly not a consuming force, but a creative one.  I will eat my Yak if Grubb writes her in as a dragon xD

#23 Thalador

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 01:04 PM

View PostiToasterHD, on 15 August 2012 - 03:56 PM, said:

I apologize, the fanboi comment was a bit harsh and I should have been more careful.

I haven't played the game so I hold no opinions on the matter of what or who the Pale Tree is. It just doesn't seem as cut and dry as you and Red J are making it out to be. I might check out the link you posted, as I said I am not really concerned with whether or not the Pale Tree is a dragon. That can be a subject of another thread.

I do, however, dislike the idea of the Pale Tree. I've always had a soft spot for leaders that earn respect and loyalty rather than just assume power because they have "royal blood" or because they happen to be the creator of the entire species. If I were a Sylvari I would not go the route of the Nightmare Court but it isn't entirely imppossible that I would question Sylvari heirarchy and perhaps establish the Indifferent Court. Unfortunately, all of this is speculation and is not driven from actual game play.

Again, I want to apologize for the harsh response.

Then I think we got it settled with the least amount of bloodshed. ;) And the addendum about the ridiculousness of the PT being an Elder Dragon or a champion was not in the slightest way directed at you, nor did I mean it as a snide way to insult you or anyone. I simply spoke my mind on that case, and I still believe in what I said there.

About the second post... I may have overreacted a little but getting lashed out at for trying to be helpful didn't feel good at all.

And I strongly suggest giving a chance for the sylvari. You may learn something about the Tree or the Dream that can help ease your concerns - or on the contrary, raise even more alarm bells.

#24 The Greyhawk

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:03 PM

View PostSlappedYak, on 16 August 2012 - 10:53 PM, said:

-Snip-
The Pale Tree isn't a mother earth deity.  The Sylvari do not worship it.  Revere, perhaps, but not worship.

Though your second statement about the Dream is prolly pretty close to the truth.

#25 Leold

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 10:39 PM

View PostThe Greyhawk, on 17 August 2012 - 09:03 PM, said:


The Pale Tree isn't a mother earth deity.  The Sylvari do not worship it.  Revere, perhaps, but not worship.

Though your second statement about the Dream is prolly pretty close to the truth.
This.  They respect her as their Mother and ask for her advice, but don't worship her.  For now they are as a race skeptical of the human gods (makes sense, they haven't been especially active since the end of Nightfall) and presumably gods in general.

#26 Ramei Arashi

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 07:24 PM

The avatar of the Pale Tree when asked about the Dream, says that she is its caretaker not its creator.

Edited by Ramei Arashi, 29 August 2012 - 07:25 PM.


#27 Deth Necros

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 07:11 AM

Well, if you dislike the Pale Tree, you could always rp Soundless. The Soundless cut themselves off from the Dream but are not evil like the Nightmare Court.

#28 SirRunningclam

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 03:50 AM

If they were hive minded drones, how do the nightmare court exist? The silent exist?





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