Sylvari Background

January 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 4 Comments
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A giant tree, but not the Pale Tree.

Durmand Priory is a section of the Guild Wars 2 Guru forums where people discuss lore. I would venture to say most people don’t go there, or don’t think to go there for news on Guild Wars 2.

That doesn’t mean developers or community managers don’t read it of course.

Ree Soesbee, Lore & Continuity Designer for Arenanet, saw some questions about the sylvari and decided to respond.

All credit goes to Gw2Guru and its members of course. I just figured less people would notice it due to it’s location inside Durmand Priory.

Now I don’t expect people unfamiliar with Guild Wars or Guild Wars 2 to understand much of what follows, but to help you out here’s a brief description of the sylvari. They are plant creatures, a race no more than 25 years old at the time of Guild Wars 2. They are born from a single pale tree planted by an NPC in Guild Wars. They experience something called The Dream, a semi-collective consciousness that allows them to be born with knowledge but no experience.

Originally Posted by Ree Soesbee
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that a newly born race, with no actual experience in the outside world, would know to embrace the tablet’s teachings without some sort of intervention by the maker of the tablet. How would they know how to read it? (…how did the first generation know HOW to read?)

Many of the first memories within the Dream of Dreams, the first thoughts and conclusions, belong to the Pale Tree herself, and are expanded upon by her children as they are born and go out into the world. The Pale Tree is not a humanoid, but nevertheless, she has thoughts, feelings, and wisdom that she shares with unawakened sylvari as they Dream. She was there when Ventari and Ronan shared their hopes for the future, and watched as they fell to despair that their vision of a peaceful world would not be established within their lifetimes. She was there when Ventari lived out the last of his years alone, though she could not speak to comfort him. She was there when he carved his last words into the Tablet; after he died, she held the carved stone among her roots, Dreaming of its lessons and sharing them with her children who would one day awaken, and be sylvari.

The memories are shared collectively within the dream? How, then, is each sylvari a unique individual?

Yes, but not in a unified manner. The Dream is a deep well, into which memory and thought are poured as each sylvari learns and experiences the world. A newborn sylvari takes memories from that well in part, not in whole; like a bowl filled with water from that lake, they see only a small fraction of their race’s collective experience. The Pale Tree ensures that each sylvari who awakens has been given a basic understanding of the Tablet, the world, and the love she has for each of them.

The Tree’s memories teach lessons, such as reading, the basic tasks of living, how to wield a weapon. Seeing and experiencing more personal memories from other sylvari does not make each sylvari less individual; they are free-willed, and can make up their own mind as to what they have seen. Each sylvari’s Dream is different; they do not see every memory that the Tree holds. Rather, they experience only a small portion of the whole. Each sylvari’s Dream contains both the Tree’s lessons, and a portion of memories and feelings drawn from the mélange of images and emotions of the combined sylvari experience.

Those Firstborn that remain with the Tree often spend a great deal of their time helping newly awakened sylvari understand what they have Dreamed. This includes lessons to explain the Tablet’s writings as the sylvari interpret them; a better sense of sylvari history; and education about the world around them.

I’d love to know about the “government system” of the Sylvari.

In the beginning, the sylvari didn’t need a government. They had the Tree, and only the Firstborn, and it was a small enough collective that no ‘rulership’ was needed. As the sylvari began to expand as a race, the Tree has continued to be a quiet font of wisdom. Many of the Firstborn took over the roles of leadership, teachers, and organizers for their people. The Firstborn are the wisest and most knowledgable, and the other sylvari respect them greatly. Even among the Nightmare court’s twisted hierarchy, the Firstborn Faolain is given a great deal of respect and authority; enough to have claimed the title of Grand Duchess.

There will be a lot more on the government, history, and biology of the sylvari available in the future. Be patient, saplings. There is still so very much to learn…

Some delectable tidbits about how sylvari come to be. With how little we’ve seen of some races aside from human and a bit of charr, I imagine there will be some kind of race showcase to help hype the game. Stuff like this would help a lot.



  1. That’s pretty cool, some juicy lore to fill in while we wait for the Sylvari revamp. I already knew I would be rolling a Sylvari first, and that hasn’t changed. I just want to see the darn things now! 🙂

    • As elvish-like as they are, playing a race that is 25 years old, who we know the least about, that are plants, sounds pretty awesome to me.

  2. Thanks for that, very interesting! These days I avoid most forums, so would have totally missed that.

    I’m curious as to how the Sylvari relay what they learn back to the Pale Tree.

    • good question. something to with the dream, once they leave the tree its still with them i think.

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