With the announcement of Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons, an increasing amount of discussion among the community has started to turn towards the question of new elite specialisations. In this series, we’ll be looking at what possibilities there are for revenant elite specialisations.
For most professions, these discussions tend to focus on the shortfalls the profession as a whole is experiencing and which concepts would be compatible with the profession that would fill these gaps. In some cases, additional possible hints have come from NPCs wielding weapons or showing capabilities not currently available to PCs of their profession (such as Almorra’s use of an offhand sword as a guardian in the Darkrime Delves instance). For the revenant, however, there is one more angle that can be taken: revenant elite specialisations have each been tied to a single specific, legendary figure. As a result, it might be possible to identify some possible revenant elite specialisations by looking at figures from history that might serve as suitable legends.
In this, we do have the question of what level of significance such a figure would need to have to be considered suitable. The heroes of sPvP’s Stronghold appear to be heroes that, while significant enough to have an impact on the Mists, were not significant enough to be eligible to become a revenant legend, which sets a lower bound for what is required to become a revenant legend (note: the author recalls this being explicitly stated while the Stronghold mode was being promoted, but tracking down sources from before Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns released can be complicated at best). Conversely, gods and beings of similar stature, such as Elder Dragons, seem to be off limits, setting an upper bound.
With these boundaries in mind, I think that the following guidelines could probably be applied to evaluating which historical figures may be eligible:
1) The figure in question must have had a significant and permanent influence on the development of at least one major culture. To give some examples, Jalis presided over the Rite of the Great Dwarf, Kalla’s rebellion reshaped charr society, and it’s probably no coincidence that Ventari’s legendary skills are focused around the Tablet, given that the entirety of sylvari society revolves around either following the tenets of the Tablet or rebelling against it. Turai Ossa would likely have reached this level if he had succeeded in achieving Ascension for himself and his followers, but since his bid failed, his lasting legacy was not sufficient to propel him to this level..
2) The figure in question must have been the primary focus of the story they represent. If a character’s main claim to fame is his or her role in the downfall of another, it is likely that it is the opponent they defeated that is the center of the story, and the one which had the major impact on the world. Again, Turai Ossa is a good example here – his defeat of Palawa Joko would not have made him legend-worthy. Even if Palawa’s story had ended there, he would still have been the defining figure of Elona during that time. However, a character that has eliminated multiple threats over their career, like a PC from the original Guild Wars, might count. Similarly, characters that are simply a lieutenant or sidekick of another figure probably do not qualify, unless the entity they serve is too powerful (which is probably how Mallyx slips through – since Abaddon is too powerful, Mallyx becomes the representative figure of the impact that the fall, attempted rise, and final defeat of Abaddon had on the Mists). In fact, the revenant PC’s usage of the “Legendary Prisoner Stance” shows that Joko, even before his death, had achieved this status, but is disqualified from being available to players due to the Hero of the Mordant Crescent Great Hall’s vow never to tap into the power of Joko’s legend again. (It’s likely that if revenants were around back then, a PC from the original Guild Wars would think the same about Mallyx or Shiro.)
It’s possible that these rules are not the same as ArenaNet are working by (if they have any hard and fast rules about what it takes to become a revenant legend at all), but I think they do serve as a good starting point.
Another consideration is to balance the cultural influences that have gone into the revenant. At present, we have one legend that is primarily associated with sylvari (Ventari), one that is linked to charr (Kalla), two that are linked to humans (Shiro) or human religion (Mallyx), and two which are less directly linked to any race, but which still probably have more links to human history than other races (Glint and Jalis). This leaves the revenant without legends that draw from norn or asura history – something which is particularly strange in the former case given how obsessed the norn are with legends. This could be especially fitting to introduce now, as the focus on Jormag allows the opportunity for ArenaNet to put a spotlight on norn history in advance of offering up a norn-themed legend… or, alternatively, they could develop an asuran figure of legend as the focus of the conflict turns to Primordus.
On the flipside, it does have to be considered that the next expansion is going to Cantha, and that there may therefore be some expectation that the elite specialisation will be Cantha-themed. This expectation may be inaccurate – after all, we already have a Canthan legend, and Kalla showed that the Elonian expansion didn’t need to have an Elonian legend. Because of this, however, I will be focusing on possible legends that are either Canthan, or which are linked to the history and legends of a culture that currently does not have representation among the current revenant legends, whether playable (asura, norn) or one of the many nonplayable races.
A final consideration of mine, from a gameplay perspective, is that any legend should have some factor which distinguishes the legend from simply being a copy of an existing profession. Therefore, any figure whose main claim to fame is that they are a particularly powerful member of an existing profession should probably be excluded – an elite specialisation inspired by a particularly strong warrior, for instance, would probably be better implemented as a warrior elite specialisation that follows a school of training inspired by that figure. While figures with a known profession, such as Shiro, are not necessarily excluded, there should be some additional factor that takes them above and beyond the normal bounds of that profession that can serve as a basis for their legendary skills. In Shiro’s case, while his legendary stance’s dodges and teleports are reminiscent of thief and assassin shadowstepping, it’s worth noting that it still has two abilities that represent the Jade Wind in some fashion – which is to be expected, since it was through the Jade Wind that Shiro made his impression upon the world that echoed through the Mists. Similarly, while Jalis was a warrior in Guild Wars, the skills from his stance are not mere variations of warrior skills, but represent the spirit and accomplishments of the dwarves he led, culminating in the sacrifice that doomed them to extinction. (Fortunately, for balance as well as any hope the PC might have of having children some day, when used by a revenant, the Rite of the Great Dwarf wears off on its own all too soon.)
Over the next few articles, I plan to apply these rules to identify possible candidates for elite specialisations, and analyse the abilities of those figures and the story around them to speculate on how they might be translated into an elite specialisation in End of Dragons. To begin with, tomorrow we’ll start with the Render of Dragons himself.