Role Playing a Sylvari: a Sprout’s Guide

So you are crusin’ along on kotaku when you run across an article on *ahem attractive plant people. You think to yourself those look

kind of cool, but I’m a hard core RPer from the halcyon days of SWG and DAOC how do I pretend I’m a plant? The obvious answer is to

spend a few hours talking to you plants at home to get a general feel of their ideals. (I have also heard that it helps them grow, so win-win). Once you realize your plants can’t respond verbally you make your way to Google and search “Sylvari Role Play” somewhere on search page fifty you find this guide. Jump past the break for a rundown on some basic information and recommendations about role playing plants.

The Body

The Sylvari are a newborn race having been around for about 25 years if you roll a character on launch day. They are a sort of seedless fruit/branch/flower/leaf that grows on pods from something called the Pale Tree (more on that later). When the pod opens they are dropped a fair distance to the ground where some are crushed by the impact. This may be a way to ensure only the toughest survive, because they are entering a very dangerous world. Having been grown from a single point in the pod their bodies radiate outward with their core a sort of trunk/stem. Their muscles are vines covered in leaves or bark and their head is formed with a rough wooden core that can grow into a variety of shapes. It is uncertain whether the Sylvari have a traditional brain or a diffuse nervous system.

Sylvari body types can be separated into two core types summer and winter. The summer body is a stalk like body covering supple and soft while winter type skin is a hard bark. Both skins are strong but they are very differently textured. Autumn and Spring Sylvari are born with a mixture of the bark and stalk type skin. The extra appendages that Sylvari have from flowers to leaves to branches truly define their season of growth. A spring Sylvari will probably be lighter green with buds or early season flowers while an autumn Sylvari may have orange or red skin and bare branches or be constantly growing and loosing leaves.

The Mindset

Sylvari cannot procreate as individuals, yet, so gender identity is essentially nonexistent. The dream influences the physical form of a Sylvari which is why they take humanoid form. Sylvari are grown for a purpose that is instilled within them while they are still connected directly to the dream. Many Sylvari believe they to exist to battle the world dragons (Guild Wars 2’s Big Bad) and protect the Pale Tree. This call to guard has resulted in Sylvari culture growing up around an ideal similar to classic knights of medieval legend.

One blatant manifestation of this philosophy is the Wyld Hunt (not to be confused with the Wyld Hunt of traditional fae). It is a life quest (like you get in the sims but more epic) that the Pale Tree gives Sylvari. Following the personal storyline of a Sylvari character will follow your steps on the Wyld Hunt for Zhaitan. For RPers that ignore the personal storyline in favor of more free form role playing can use a Wyld Hunt as a springboard for you adventures. As the Wyld Hunt is theoretically different for each individual Sylvari the tasks can vary greatly, from assisting a powerful mage to finding a lost artifact the Wyld Hunt can drive much of your character’s actions. Not having a Wyld Hunt or completing it does not mean the end of a Sylvari as their noble mindset pushes them to help others and aid others in their quests. A Sylvari that has completed their Wyld Hunt is generally greatly respected by other Sylvari and it may lead to them being granted a place as an elder.

Beyond being noble Sylvari are curious and have not experienced many things in the world. A new spell or seeing a hyleck for the first time can be exciting so Sylvari are a great race for role players new to the Guild Wars universe to start in as since they can ask many questions in character about the world and lore.

The Pale Tree

All Sylvari come from the Pale Tree they are her fruit and her guardians and she is their mother. The Pale Tree is self aware and connected to every Sylvari though the dream. She is about 250 years old having first sprouted aroundthe time the great destroyer was attacking Tyria. The Pale Tree was planted by a human and seems to have developed an empathy for the race as her children look like a plants attempt to create a human. We know the Pale Tree is creative as each Sylvai could have been created identical, but are born with a great many variations. The Pale Tree loves the Sylvari and many love her in return though not all of them.

The Dream and The Nightmare

It has been theorized that the Pale Tree is related to Lyssa because of dual aspect of her subconscious in aspects of The Dream and The Nightmare. The Dream is an empathic racial memory of the Sylvari and The Pale Tree. While the Pale Tree can contain the entire dream, individual Sylvari have been described as scoops of water from a pool. They know of the dream but they do not know all of it. A segment of the dream is The Nightmare full of corruption and abomination. This portion is usually blamed on the dragons. The nightmare court Sylvari have been known to fight the dragonspawn, as such it may simply be a portion of the Pale Tree’s psyche. The nightmare may be the Pale Tree protecting her children from her own darkness bottling it up and releasing it in small doses to specific Sylvari. All we know about the nightmare is that those who embrace it generally fall to evil acts. For RP purposes I recommend not fully embracing the nightmare court, but if you must, walk the line between light and dark.

The dream can be used to give your Sylvari extraneous information after they have been birthed. To keep it from becoming a crutch, don’t rely on it, instead use it to add flavor to your character. Occasional use for plot development is fine, but understand the dream is just that and pulling complex information from the dream is not possible. So while you may not know how to build a golem you can realize that it is possible. You can also learn locations through the dream though landmarks or a glimpse of a map. Keep your access to the dream lean and you should be able to avoid annoying your group mates with godlike knowledge.

Ventari and Roan

I’ll keep this part short. Ventari and Roan were two pacifists, a centaur and human respectively. Roan planted the Pale Tree and built a town around its sprout. Ventari was a friend to Roan and wrote the philosophies the two developed down on tablets which he placed at the base of the Pale Tree. The tablets serve as guidelines for Sylvari Law, but much of the pacifism has been lost.

Sylvari Law

Law amongst the Sylvari is first based on the tenants of Ventari then decided through a duel and if all else fails brought before an elder Sylvari for the final decision. It’s odd they do not include the Pale Tree in their judicial system, but the race is only 25 years old.

Sylvari Relationships (updated)

Sylvari relationships are perhaps the most alien thing about the race. I’ll get the fact that the pale tree made the sylvari fully equiped as their gender out of the way now as that only really matters to ERPers and Floriies you know who you are). An interesting effect of the youth of the sylvari is as a race they have no tradition of marriage (as far as we know).

While physical contact is not unimportant to a Sylvari it is much less so than in other species and they regularly do not understand the import of certain contact for specific examples see the Sylvari in ghost of ascalon. Physical intmacy for a sylvari is aparently recreational as they cannot bear children. (This will result in a large number of human sylvari couples and a horrid decrease in human birth rates resulting in the death of the species as we know it.)

Emotional relationships are the heart of Sylvari families. While Sylvari are more likely to group with other Sylvari to form a family unit they do not always. Sylvari do not necessarily feel a familial bond to other Sylvari so do not call other Sylvari brother and sister even though they have the same mother. Family when chosen by a Sylvari is bound to them at their roots. Once they find a family they will die for them no questions asked.

Romance amongst the Sylvari is extremely different than romance amongst humans. When the Pale Tree creates a Sylvari she is creating a form that emulates a human, sometimes she feels like making it look female and sometimes male. If the Pale Tree felt like making a Sylvari look like a charr or an asura or a hyleck it would be no less Sylvari. This means to play a newborn Sylvari is to play an androgynous character, though over time they can take on personality quirks that are masculine or feminine as it seems they grow to be more like the races they spend time with. Caithe for example is much more human then other sylvari as she has spent a great deal of time with them. A Sylvari won’t place as much importance on physical intimacy but they can grow to appreciate what it means to another race.

So there we go a super long post on Sylvari if it’s too long say so in the comments and I’ll split it up.

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One Response to Role Playing a Sylvari: a Sprout’s Guide

  1. Pingback: Reverse the Polarity of the Magitron Flow: Role Playing an Asura | Tyrian Stories

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