Narrative Design: ArenaNet Mentorship Program Original Episode Outline
I designed this original, speculative Guild Wars 2 narrative outline as part of the ArenaNet Game Narrative Mentorship Program. All primary characters are original except for the Pale Tree's Avatar and the PC, and this episode is the first in a longer five-episode season.
Guild Wars 2 Living World Season X Episode 1
Logline The PC and a long-lost Firstborn discover the origins of a cursed tree and team up to prevent its evil avatar from furthering its lord’s quest to become the new god of war.
Dramatic Premise Fear and violence cause chaos and death, but friendship triumphs to restore unity and peace.
Short Summary Alongside a spiritual norn and a long-lost sylvari Firstborn, the PC discovers a tainted sibling to the Pale Tree and unravels an evil Eternal’s plot to become the next god of war. With the help of benevolent spiritual forces and friendship, the trio eradicates the tainted tree’s avatar, Embrim, at least slowing Noverat’s ascendance to power.
Set-up – Simply looking to make some coin, the PC follows up with Amlax’s posting on a Metrica Province bounty board about locating a “strange artifact.”
Theme Stated – Amlax seems gruff and self-centered, but he hints at missing a long-lost friend and states that he believes in the power of miracles.
Catalyst – The PC agrees to search for the source of the strange bow in exchange for a map to a forgotten Peacemaker cache.
Debate – The PC is concerned that they won’t know how to find the source and that they may not be strong enough to fight the things protecting that source on their own.
Break Into Two (Choosing Act Two) – Fleshreavers attack the trading post, and the PC defeats them with the help of Kolgrima. Kolgrima’s connection to spiritual energy can help them find the bow’s source, and Kolgrima’s battle prowess can help the PC fight off foes along the way. Doubts erased, the PC and Kolgrima venture on to the Brisban Wildlands.
B Story – Kolgrima shares her full vision and quest to find a spiritual purpose, seeking to use non-violence as a way to overcome evil. The PC agrees to help Kolgrima figure things out.
The Promise of the Premise – The PC and Kolgrima wander into Shael, where Embrim runs tournaments to the death. In the course of questioning Shael’s inhabitants and observing Embrim’s cruel method of maintaining control, the PC and Kolgrima realize that Shael is not safe. After barely surviving one of Embrim’s tournaments, the PC and Kolgrima uproot the Vermilion Tree and flee.
Midpoint – On their way out of town, they stumble onto Vagaeron, who has been hiding just outside of Shael. Vagaeron reveals that he is a long-missing Firstborn born on the cusp of Dawn and Noon who initially tried to nurture the Vermilion Tree. Because he now fears that the Vermilion Tree is tainted, Vagaeron insists that the three of them bring it to the Pale Tree at once.
Bad Guys Close In – On the road back to the Grove, a messenger informs the trio that the Metrica Province is under attack. They return to Amlax’s trading post, which Noverat and his fleshreavers are destroying, as Noverat traced the magical bow there in his search for his tainted offspring. Amlax gives Vagaeron a love-imbued amulet that Vagaeron had left behind when the two of them parted ways years ago. With his dying breath, Amlax urges the PC to preserve the Vermilion Tree.
All is Lost – Noverat then kills Amlax and tells the PC of his intention to become the new god of fire, war, and challenge by consuming the Vermilion Tree (the source of the magical bow) and bringing regimented chaos and cruelty to the role. The PC tries to confront Noverat, but the PC barely escapes with their life, and Noverat takes the Tree.
Dark Night of the Soul – With the Tree back in Noverat’s hands and Amlax dead, the trio mourns their losses. Kolgrima tries to channel spiritual forces to find their new direction, and Vagaeron tries to tap into his connection with his mother, the Pale Tree.
Break Into Three (Choosing Act Three) – Hearing his call, the avatar of the Pale Tree astral projects to Vagaeron and show the trio the memory of how the Vermilion Tree came into being. The spirit of Nian shows them how to destroy the Vermilion Tree. The Ox begins to communicate with Kolgrima and offer its support.
Finale – The trio confronts Embrim back in Shael (where Noverat has replanted the Vermilion Tree), eradicating Noverat from the Vermilion Tree with the power of Vagaeron’s amulet, the Ox’s protection, and the power of the trio’s friendship. Noverat is still out there, but at least his fae childling can no longer cause harm and corrupt the tenets. The Vermilion Tree is now the Violet Tree, and its future and current power are uncertain.
PC The PC initially only helps Amlax in order to access the hidden Peacemaker cache, but the PC’s focus shifts to a) helping Vagaeron solve the mystery behind the Vermilion Tree, b) preventing Noverat from becoming the next god of fire and war, and c) helping Kolgrima find her purpose.
Amlax While he seems like just a materialistic trader, Amlax eventually reveals that he cares deeply for his lost friend Vagaeron. He can also imbue items with potent love-based magic and believes that the Vermilion Tree has some part to play in the Eternal Alchemy; he learns to share his knowledge and gifts before Noverat kills him.
Vagaeron One of the twelve Firstborn and born on the cusp between Dawn and Noon, Vagaeron sees the best in all people and things, embracing the tenet that “all things deserve to grow.” After learning that the Vermilion Tree is evil, however, Vagaeron vows to find a way to destroy it, even if it means sacrificing himself.
Kolgrima Having been cast out from her norn family for rejecting a life of war, Kolgrima joins forces with the PC in order to find a purely nonviolent purpose, eventually connecting with the Ox and moving down the path of becoming its shaman.
Noverat Disgusted by his former lord’s chaotic approach to warfare, Noverat instead prefers organized plans of attack and extreme cruelty. Upon discovering the location of the Vermilion Tree, Noverat aims to harness its power to replace Balthazar, and the former Eternal will destroy anyone who gets in his way.
The Pale Tree’s Avatar The Pale Tree has sensed the Vermilion Tree’s presence for quite some time, and she possesses powerful knowledge that will aid the PC in confronting Noverat.
Embrim, The Vermilion Tree’s Avatar While first appearing to be a mischievous fae childling, Embrim is in fact the avatar of the Vermilion Tree and a malevolent extension of Noverat. It methodically brainwashes sylvari to help Noverat take Balthazar’s place, and it believes that the key to power is chaos and violence.
The Spirit of Nian After Noverat murdered him atop the Vermillion Tree’s seed, the spirit of Nian roams Tyria, awaiting a worthy champion who can stop Noverat. Once the spirit of Nian teaches someone to defeat the evil Eternal, it can finally rest.
Copyright Alexandra M. Lucas 2018