Let’s take a moment to stray off the golden path of story to, among other things, eavesdrop on some npcs. Ambient dialogue is just one way Grothmar Valley continues the trend of filling Guild Wars 2 maps with the smallest details required to breathe life into Tyria. Here are some of the things I was delighted to stumble upon as I partied with the charr.
Malice likes you more if you’re Ash Legion
It gives me such satisfaction as a player when personal story choices affect things this far into the Commander’s journey. Playing as a charr will reward you with an extra voice-acted line from your Legion’s Imperator, gaining you the hidden ‘Meet Your Imperator’ achievement along the way. When speaking to Malice Swordshadow as an Ash Legion charr, Malice does more than greet you as one of her own. She also gives you a hint to an Ash Legion secret..
“Oh, and Commander? The carvings will lead you. That’s all.”
Take a look at the table behind and to the right of her, and you’ll see the carvings which will take you on a journey to find the real Ash Legion camp. Anyone can follow the carvings, but it’s only Ash players who gain this helpful clue.
Kasmeer’s new look
The day Bound by Blood came out, I heard a few players wondering whether Kasmeer had a new voice actress. This wasn’t true. She certainly sounded different, but her lower modulation was in fact due to a development in her characterisation. It seems the realisations that came with Path of Fire and her off-screen time helping refugees in Season 4 have had an adverse effect on her.
Just before you load into the first instance of Bound by Blood, you can speak to Kasmeer and Marjory for extra dialogue.
‘Elona was hard. Kralkatorrik left a lot of misery behind. If you’ve lost the thing you lean on, that much ugliness…’
It’s not just her voice that hints of change. She no longer wears her golden tiara or her makeup. Her hair has also lost some shine, with some locks falling across her forehead. Overall, I’m getting a sense of dejection from Kas.
Metal Legion are popular outcasts
In the A Concert for the Ages meta event, your job is to raise the audience’s hype as Metal Legion plays their set. Fail however, and you’ll hear hecklers in between songs. One such heckler, reveals something about Metal Legion’s origins.
‘You’re no legion! You’re just a bunch of good-for-nothing gladia!’
Ouch. A gladium is someone who has lost their warband and is subsequently looked down upon by the rest of charr society. It’s possible to have guessed their gladia status earlier by noting their surnames: Fangwrencher, Havocstriker, Chainrazor and Fiendseeker. Typical warbands share a common word in their surname. For example, the Stone Warband includes Rytlock Brimstone and Crecia Stoneglow.
Metal Legion’s asuran technician, Cidd, can probably empathise with their position. During Episode 92 of Guild Chat, game designer Connor Fallon told us that Cidd is a college dropout. I can just imagine how the intellectual and academic world of the asura would have been untenable for the poor guy.
Auris Weirdbringer is back
If you were playing back in October 2016, you might remember the current events update featuring unstable magic rifts and a teleporting, time-travelling charr, Auris Weirdbringer. The side story was intriguing, confusing, and ultimately unfinished. We never found out who this Auris character really was or how he ended up in such a temporally unstable state. Well, here he is in Grothmar Valley, meeting us for the first time.
Interacting with Auris was a strange thing back in 2016. Cause and effect was all jumbled up, with him reporting things we’ve said before we’ve said it and vice versa. Amazingly, the writers have picked up threads from years ago to loop back now in the same manner.
When he asks who the Commander is, the Commander replies, ‘You’ve always called me cub, but…’ and so that’s why Auris called us ‘cub’ (regardless of our actual race) in 2016. See what I mean by cause and effect going weird?
If you finished the Auris Weirdbringer side story, you should have received a Class II Rift Stabilizer and if you’re like me, you might have kept yours in your inventory for three years, hoping for this day, because yes… it does something! Have it in your inventory and stand in the broken portal near his workshop area. He’ll demand to know what you’re doing and you’ll report that the device is buzzing and the dials are stuck on nine and seven, to which he’ll reply, ‘I don’t care about ninety-seven. Just make it stop.’
Ninety-seven seconds later, he permanently disappears.
Back in 2016, Auris was muttering to himself ‘Ninety-seven… ninety-seven…’ When you ask him what’s that about, he says that you mentioned ninety-seven and asks you what it means. Nobody knew. It’s uncertain if we’ll meet him again, but I hope we get to save him one day. I’ll be keeping my rift stabilizer, just in case.
The original side story with Auris is still playable. Go to the bottom of Gillscale Pond in the Fields of Ruin to pick up the Mysterious Device to start your quest.
We’ve met Mellitus before
When you enter Grothmar Valley, one of the first events you see may be Mellitus’ cooking one, where you throw him ingredients for his soup. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this particular chef though. Mellitus was there in Thunderhead Keep when we set the trap for Kralkatorrik. He’s the chef you can speak to before the fight for some food which will give you a special buff ‘Hearty Meal’ to help take down an Elder Dragon.
That’s not all. During his soup event, one of the ingredients he asks for, are apples. Grab your tissues, everyone, because there’s a chance he’ll also say this:
‘You know, an apple would be perfect for this. Knew a charr who couldn’t get enough of ‘em. Ah, memories.’
Of course, he’s speaking of the beloved Order of Whispers mentor: Tybalt Leftpaw. What a beautiful heart pang.
Here’s another reference to a renown heart in Thunderhead Peaks. With our army of allies gathered to face Kralkatorrik, many were feeling hopeless in the face of an impossible task. It was up to the Commander to rally the troops. While inspiring a group of charr, the Commander says:
‘What’s wrong with you? Pick yourselves up! Are you the Ash, Iron and Blood Legions, or are you a book club?’
To which one charr comically replies ‘What’s a book club?’
Fast forward to the All Legion Rally, and there’s a group of three charr discussing the over the top prose of ‘The Charr Rise of Rin’. It’s a hilarious exchange where one member has obviously not read the book.
‘Praise all legions. You buy?’
I had my first encounter with an Awakened in the Path of Fire demo weekend, and that guy was Awakened Merchant, a non-threatening dude with a stall selling Palawa Joko figurines for your personal worship. Business has slowed down since then and now his business travels.
There’s another merchant in Grothmar Valley who can be recognised: Helf Stonebrow, a norn who had set up shop in Divinity’s Reach. He usually sells weapons. Today, he has bread. For your pleasure, here is a comparison of his dialogue:
Divinity’s Reach: ‘My deals are legendary! Poets through the ages will write of the bargains you received this day! Even the cheapest of my swords could split the mythical three-tailed devourer in half!’
Grothmar Valley: ‘My deals are legendary! Poets through the ages will write of the bargains you received this day! So…buy my bread!’
Helf makes the astute observation that charr merchants have ‘a pretty solid lockdown on weapons’ and that he is less likely to be a victim of the hate crimes plaguing non-charr merchants if he is not in direct competition with his gracious hosts.
On the west side of the map, is an area called Longeye’s Landslide which shows the ruins of a norn hearthstead. The building was whole in Guild Wars and belonged to Olfun Longeye. Both humans and charr raiding parties stopped here during the war, but somehow, Olfun maintained a no violence policy.
Wearing the hide of your enemy
Remember when Bangar talked about how humans trimmed their armor with charr fur and attached charr horns to their helms? Yes, that actually happened, and yes — you could do that if you played a warrior in Guild Wars. Warriors had an armor set called Charr Hide armor which looks even more grotesque that Bangar described. The helm is designed to look like (and I hope it’s only that) a decapitated head!
Did Bangar steal the rum?
There’s a bartending event at the Rank ‘n’ File Pub, where you give patrons the drinks they order in a timely manner. When they ask for rum, the drink you need to pick up is ‘Bangar’s Private Reserve Rum’. If you look closely, however, you’ll be able to see New Krytan text on the bottle, which reads: Beetlestone Vineyards. I find it hard to believe the human-hating Imperator would purchase anything from the late Caudecaus Beetlestone or the current Lord of Beetlestone.
So those are all the fun details I’ve had the pleasure of finding. Grothmar Valley was absolutely rich in them. Did you find any that weren’t mentioned in this article? Let us know!