Editorials

Blooming Minds in Dark Times

Sylvari Origin and Beginnings

Enduring the centuries in a small corner of a bay along the Tarnished Coast, the Pale Tree grew and grew, avoiding the devastation that was sweeping around her. Finally, around two decades before the present, the tree began to bear fruit of sorts, except it was not fruit at all, but cocoons holding members of a new race, called the sylvari. Fully grown, yet not fully experienced with the world, these beings approached existence with a sense of wonder and curiosity, unlike the other, much older and more experienced races.

Despite this, the sylvari quickly adapted and adopted a philosophy to guide them in the world, that of the old centaur Ventari, who wrote his ideals down upon a tablet that has conveniently and appropriately become known as the Ventari Tablet. Which, while not all of it is known, has seemed to lead the sylvari on a path that has kept them on good terms with many of the other races. A situation that one might expect, given that Ventari spoke often and at length, in his older years, of peace and neutrality, even in the face of utter catastrophes.

Sylvari Philosophy

As mentioned above, while much of the Ventari Tablet remains unknown, there are certain central ideas that we have been exposed to over the past year or so that it may have influenced the development of. Primary among those, it may be said, is that of honor in their actions, much unlike the charr that adhere to winning at any cost. For when a disagreement is had amongst sylvari, they engage in duels, and when that should fail, they appeal to an older and wiser sylvari to mete out justice. They do not simply allow themselves to be used by their leading officers, and sent out to die, as happened shortly before the Foefire with the charr, and the fall of Ascalon City, despite reports suggesting the final assault’s potential for disaster. More than this, the sylvari’s honorable nature would likely have lent itself to hearing out the scouts’ reports and considering them, rather than acting as rashly as the charr imperator in that case. However, nothing is certain, and this comparison is by no means airtight.

Besides their honor, perhaps what distinguishes the sylvari philosophy more than anything is their empathy, which likely influences their tolerance. The sylvari hold a special connection between themselves and plantlife, allowing them to understand and feel as they are feeling. This sensitivity, then, along with one of the tenets of the Ventari Tablet, seems to encourage them towards tolerance for the other races, even as members of them may come to harm their own kind and people.

Regardless, as is found in the case of the Nightmare Court, not all sylvari are predisposed to these ideas, and even ordinary sylvari do not simply accept their adopted philosophy completely. They discuss and debate its meanings with one another, as well as discuss other aspects of existence and life aside from the Tablet’s teachings. For it must be remembered, with the sylvari, almost all schools of thought are as new as the experiences of life itself.

ImageSylvari Experience

Much above has been concerned with repeatedly mentioning the experience, of, well, experience itself, and it may be wondered why the emphasis and what is meant. Well, the reason behind this is that the sylvari are exposed to much before emerging on Tyria, in their home of the Grove, within a special mental realm exclusive to the sylvari, called the Dream of Dreams. It is here that many of the experiences of the existing sylvari are pooled, and developing sylvari pull bits and pieces from this, gathering notions of the world before ever really having witnessed or fully felt any of it.

To put it another way, and hopefully this will be accurate, think about a photograph of a place you have never been. You see certain features of it and you get a sense of what it will be like, despite the fact that the location may be somewhere you don’t actually have any knowledge of. While not certain, this seems something like the case with the sylvari before they enter the world. Sure, they have developed notions of the world, just as you have notions of what that place in the photograph will be like, but until they enter the world, until you visit that place, they and you will never really have firm knowledge or experience of what either is like. So it seems to be with the sylvari.

It may be for this reason as well that, while they hold an idea of love, they do not hold its associations from the perspective of distinct genders, as the other races do. Being born from their mother, the Pale Tree, they possess no real impulse to mate in the way other races do, and so when they do feel an attraction, it is likely that of the minds, not the bodies.

For the sylvari newly emerging into the world, it might be said to be like being told tales of a mysterious land and reality, only to finally get to witness and explore almost every aspect of it. Thus have we a possible further reason for the sylvari curiosity about, essentially, everything.

Sylvari Motivation

Yet with all this curiosity, what focuses the sylvari is an innate calling, whether it is natural or planted by the Pale Tree is unknown, to protect the land and combat the threat of the Elder Dragons. This unites the sylvari, both those that adhere to the tenets of the Ventari Tablet and those that oppose it, the Nightmare Court. In moments that require it, it is likely they would set aside their differences to crush those minions of the Elder Dragons, or, should the opportunity arise, vanquish an Elder Dragon itself.

The actual reason for this drive is, as mentioned, unknown, but there are some thoughts that it has to do with the sylvari’s stronger connection with nature than the other races. Whether this is the case or not…We are likely to have to discover for ourselves.

Alongside this racial drive, a smaller number of sylvari find themselves with another calling, underlying but as important as their racial drive to fight the Elder Dragons and safeguard Tyria, called a Wyld Hunt. Each Wyld Hunt differs from sylvari to sylvari that have received it, but it is an especially important task…In what way, again, is unknown, yet for whatever reason, it is so.

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Of all the races, it is matters such as these that make them the most mysterious, and arguably, fascinating. They are only newly arrived yet act with honor and do not strike out as harshly as others may to those that make their lives difficult.

Further reading:

http://www.arena.net/blog/tag/sylvari

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