Flameseeker Chronicles: Understanding Guild Wars 2’s Mordrem Guard

    
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If you pay attention to the images I use throughout my Flameseeker Chronicles articles, you’ll notice that one of my favourite characters to include is my little Sylvari Necromancer. She’s just stunning to look at, and I adore how her leafy outfit seems as if it’s a part of her, so she shares the spotlight with my iconic Asura, who frequents the summary text at the end of the article. I love that Guild Wars 2 gives me a great amount of choice in how I react at key moments in the story, and I take advantage of that with my characters by building up a personality for each one that’s defined and solidified by the choices I have them make.

Although she’s a Necromancer and as such has a whole toolset of undead craziness to throw around, Lillith tends to choose the cleverest or least combative path wherever she can, preferring to help others see reason rather than throwing her horrific bag o’ tricks straight at them without much provocation. She’s the sensible sort that’s great with words and knows her own mind.

Imagine my horror and surprise, then, when I eventually learned that the Sylvari are craftily positioned dragon pawns!

The Heart of Thorns expansion’s storyline isn’t going to drop that thread any time soon, so ArenaNet has been giving us a few pointers towards how that storyline bomb will play out. A Points of Interest show was dedicated to discussing the Mordrem Guard, an intelligent command wing of the Mordrem that were once Sylvari. Featuring Narrative Director Leah Hoyer, the episode detailed the rationale behind the design and lore associated with the Guard, which will be the topic of discussion for this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles.

Firstly, if you’ve not already watched the PoI episode I’m referring to, I’d highly recommend that you check it out below before you read on.

Turned Sylvari physically transform into Mordrem Guards

The first fact we should have taken away from the information given to us by Hoyer is that all of the Mordrem Guards were once Sylvari. The one-time Pale Reavers and Pact members are much tougher than they once were, having undergone brutal physical changes to suit Mordremoth’s purposes. I’m a fan of the art we’ve seen so far, and I can see a bit of a twisted tree-ent vibe crossed with the stylings of the Mordrem Husks in their depiction.

Mordrem Guards are 20% larger than their goodie counterparts, according to Hoyer. This is by Mordremoth’s design, and these noticeably more tanky, naturally armoured minions are perfect for throwing against what remains of the Pact. Hoyer explained that their outer flesh that was once a supple, flesh-like plant matter is now very protective hardened bark, which I presume is a nice story hook for the new break bar mechanics. I love that the Mordrem Guards are still recognisable to those who were close to them too; imagine seeing your old comrades as hulking, walking, and talking minions of the jungle dragon!

0e931Mordrem-Sniper-590x331Intelligent commanders in endless supply

Mordremoth’s call has so far been heeded by only some Sylvari, but the dragon’s new tools are perhaps the best minions yet. Possessing the memories and intelligence that they had before being turned to the dragon’s cause, the Mordrem Guard can converse, strategise, and plan out Mordem assaults with the pre-existing knowledge of basic Pact strategies and manoeuvres. They naturally make excellent commanders, and these specially created Mordrem Guards are fearsome elite fighters with three unique permutations. Each has it own set of magical attacks, unique weaponry, and an individual look.

To add to the horror of good allies turning bad before your very eyes, Hoyer teases that Mordremoth has these powerful pawns in an abundant supply. The jungle dragon can clone the commanders, replacing fallen minions with another who carries the same looks, name, and memories as its predecessor. To think that every commander Guard can come after us time and time again, with the number of commanders set to expand as the dragon continues to call out to the race, is a rather scary thought!

80ac3Mordrem-duo-590x331Talkers and creators: The Mordrem Guard outlook

The Mordrem Guards are minions with brains, albeit darkly twisted ones! These tactician minions talk among themselves, so eavesdropping can provide players with some vital insight into the dragon’s plans. They reject the Pale Tree and see her as a toxic distraction from the Sylvari’s true fate as devotees of Mordremoth. They mourn the time they “wasted” on Wyld Hunts and reject their past allegiances and the teachings they grew up knowing.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising to learn that the Guards actively try to recruit their old Sylvari brethren to the dragon’s flock, taking prisoners when they can for their new master. They create the Mordrem creatures we encounter in Maguuma by using Mordremoth’s blighting plants. Whatever the creature and its current state of health, the Mordrem Guard can turn it into more minions for the dragon’s army, even if the subject is dead. Cue rampant burning of the fallen to prevent Mordremoth from growing an even larger force through the corpses.

Mordrem-GuardSylvari must continue to resist Mordremoth’s call

The first call to the dragon is only the beginning for our poor Sylvari. Hoyer hinted that the race is still susceptible to turning, which heightens the mistrust and prejudice the race already faces. Our characters of the race will hear Mordremoth, and while that will offer them a chance to better understand the greatest enemy they’ve ever faced, it also makes it clear that they are far from immune to the jungle dragon’s corruptive powers. Resisting the dragon’s call will be an ongoing struggle for a Sylvari character players will encounter, according to Hoyer, and the Pact commander’s race will affect the outcome of the story.

Furthermore, Hoyer made it very clear that the Nightmare Court and Mordrem Guard are two entirely separate and distinct Sylvari factions, and that their outlooks are not likely to be in line with each other’s ideals. This is something that we’ve been promised will be explored in the storyline of HoT, and I’m really excited to see how that will play out. I actually think that the Nightmare Court may become the antiheroes here, perhaps being more resistant to the dragon’s call because they’ve already established themselves as a willful, independent voice against Ventari’s control over the Pale Tree and the Dream as it stands. Their personal freedom is so key to the Nightmare Court’s beliefs that I’m sure they’ll be hard to break.

Over to you!

I am always impressed with the immensely rich narrative that’s woven so deftly by the ArenaNet team, and I can see that the Mordrem Guards will be critical to the expansion’s storyline. What do you think of these turned Sylvari? How do you think they’ll relate to the other bad-guy Sylvari factions? What do you think of the concept as it stands so far? As ever, do let me know in the comments section below!

Tina Lauro has been playing Guild Wars 2 since it launched and now pens the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles column, which runs every other Wednesday and covers everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see covered, drop a comment Tina’s way or mail her at tina@massivelyop.com.
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thegirlwiththehair
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thegirlwiththehair

vinicitur Laelgon

No, the problem is that he is poorly written.

The first lesson of creative writing (after the difference between “there” and “their”) is that it is always better to show your reader than to tell your reader.  Use the actions of the character to show what they are thinking, rather than just have them say what they are thinking (cue the scene from Futurama).  If you look at the mentor stories, their characteristics are shown very well through their actions… you see Seiran’s love of life, you see Tybalt come out of his depression, you see Forgal do Forgal things (sorry, been a while since I lvled a Vigil).
Traherp?  You are just told he is a great hero.  That’s it.  “Trahearne is a hero, he is well respected by all three Orders”…. but why?  We are told “Trahearne is a great strategist and commander!”…. but why?  Every choice he “made” was made for him by others.

We are never shown a reason to respect him as a character, we are only told to, and that’s why he is so disliked.  It’s less that “we deserved the promotion” but rather that he did not.

BobDobalina
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BobDobalina

vinicitur I played a sylvari during the beta and that is true. Basically the Pact NPC’s don’t like or trust you even if you are the commander of the Pact during the first story mission. As well, during a mordrem attack, you can hear Mordremoth calling out orders to the mordrem and asking you to submit. When I played the same mission as a human, I couldn’t hear the same dialog during the attacks. It was pretty cool.

Peregrine_Falcon
Guest
Peregrine_Falcon

It would have been nice if they’d released this information about the Sylvari and the Mordrem Guard before the BS event that failed. Then maybe people would have cared enough about it to actually log in and try it.

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

Laelgon Ronda Rousey says….Trahearne is a Do-nothing-Birch.

Superbrak
Guest
Superbrak

Archebius I would argue that Sylvari were always supposed to be minions of Mordremoth that were “corrupted” by Ventari’s tablet and the Pale Tree, and NIghtmare Court were “corrupted” by their overwhelming hatred of subservience to any authority but their own.
Is it still bothersome if the race is corrupted to something good?

Superbrak
Guest
Superbrak

vinicitur Laelgon Here’s the problem with Trehearne.
He’s not Forgal, Seiran, or Tybalt. He’s not Lord Faren. He’s not my Golem love machine krewe. He’s not my Charr drinking buddy. He’s not any one of the Charr from the warband I freaking formed. He’s none of the memorable characters you met along the way… because they don’t matter anymore. Your personal story doesn’t matter anymore. He is the end of your personal story and the beginning of his.
Made the worse by the way he’s portrayed in the game. At least if he was likeable and cool it might not sting so bad. Honestly, corrupting him into a super badass general of the Mordrem Guard would be nothing short of an upgrade to his character… with the added bonus that the players get to chop him into kindling.

Superbrak
Guest
Superbrak

bryanjturner skoryy Talk about your tree hugging hippies…

bryanjturner
Guest
bryanjturner

skoryy The Nightmare Court isn’t so bad, they’re just an all inclusive S&M club with a lack of safewords.

bryanjturner
Guest
bryanjturner

vinicitur Laelgon But I’m the motha Fing Hero of Shaemoor!

Superbrak
Guest
Superbrak

I’m a bit worried that Anet is kind of spoiling a lot of the Living Story by releasing so much info about the Mordrem Guards. I would have just teased the Nightmare Court connection and the different player experiences if you play a Sylvari or not.
I mean I’m sure the first couple chapters are going to be about the B-Iconics and our player character learning all this stuff about the Guards in game that we already know about from the blogs. A lot of “Bear’s bald butt! They’re CLONES!” and “By the Alchemy! It’s like they know our tactics before we enact them!” sort of thing. It’s risking going pretty bland at the beginning… when you really want to hook the player.
Unless they corrupt Trehearne immediately. Like they should. Really, really should.