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!
Intelligent 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!
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.
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!