Ever since the revenant was revealed at PAX South, theories about the new profession’s origins and how it might fit into the world lore-wise have been circulating through the community in abundance. As an avid fan of the original Guild Wars campaigns, my personal favorite of these theories is the notion that the revenant’s powers originated with Razah, a character encountered in Guild Wars: Nightfall . I love this theory not only because it fits so well with the class, but because examining it in greater detail actually taught me a great deal about the Guild Wars universe and cleared up a few misconceptions I had about how things work in the lore. Due to the learning experience that was the fleshing out of this particular theory, I want go over it from the beginning so that people with the same misconceptions can rectify them.
I suppose everything starts with the character itself: Razah. But who was Razah? At the end of Guild Wars: Nightfall, the player character was required to enter a realm of the Mists known as the Realm of Torment. After the defeat of the fallen god Abaddon at the hands of the player, the player could acquire the loyalty of a mysterious entity found deep within the Realm of Torment. This was Razah. A genderless, bipedal entity spawned by the Mists through methods unknown, Razah was not quite human. It had the body of a human, and its mind was similar to that of a human, but since it was spawned by the Mists so mysteriously, its true nature will likely remain largely unknown.
This is where we can draw parallels with the revenant. Revenants wield magic tied to the Mists, which is also known to be the source of Razah’s life and power. However, in and of itself, that isn’t much to go on. To get a better idea of why Razah being Tyria’s first revenant makes so much sense, we must compare the skillsets of the two parties in question. In Guild Wars, Razah was a Hero, an NPC that players could add to their party and micromanage. However, Razah was unique in its role as a Hero, as it was the only one in the game that could have its primary profession changed at will. This unique ability correlates well with the revenant’s ability to channel the abilities of characters from the original games and swap between them at will, especially since each legend has such a different skillset. This is also where I developed a bit of a plot hole in my original theory.
At first, I believed that the Bloodstone, which was created by the Seers during the last Elder Dragon uprising to house the magic of the races, effectively starving the Dragons, should prevent the revenant from being able to wield so many different types of magic. I believed that the same went for Razah, so I came to the conclusion that since their magic was born of the Mists, it must be completely outside the Bloodstone’s realm of control. However, after double-checking with GuildMag’s resident scholar on all things Tyria, Draxynnic, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a flawed theory. I bring this up because I believe it to be a common misconception in the conceptualization of this theory. The Bloodstone merely limits what type of magic can be wielded by a person at any given moment, so it actually has no bounds over the ability to, say, give up the ability to cast one type of magic in favor of another, which is exactly what both Razah and the revenant do. Sure, primary profession swapping for player characters in Guild Wars was not possible, but there is sufficient evidence to suggest that this was purely a balancing decision and holds no weight in lore. First of all, there’s Razah and the revenant, not to mention Rytlock Brimstone, who has officially changed primary professions. Furthermore, the character Keiran Thackeray, ancestor of Tyria’s favorite pillock, went from a ranger to a paragon in Guild Wars: Hearts of the North. So the changing of one’s profession does hold ground in lore.
However, that doesn’t make it any less likely that Razah could have been a revenant, or at least an early precursor to what the Mists (or some entity within them) has now refined into the revenant. It simply means that the Bloodstone could still hold sway over Mists-based magic, which just makes the Seers’ magical power all the more impressive. I mean, they may have successfully shackled the Mists. That’s serious… Erm… Stuff, right there. Serious stuff.
So it’s clear that there are undeniable parallels between Razah and the revenant class. They both have close ties to the Mists, and they both seem to be able to swap the type of magic they wield at any given moment with much more versatility and ease than other professions/entities. What is important to remember is that that really does not prove anything. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s flimsy, circumstantial evidence at best. There are numerous other possible reasons as to why Razah functioned the way it did, and the same goes for the revenant. Razah’s profession swapping could hold no basis in actual lore, and could have been a purely mechanical choice as an endgame reward. Razah’s mind could simply be sharper than a human’s when it comes to magical and martial aptitude. Its connection to the Mists could have granted it the ability to quickly mimic the magical abilities of others, or it could be something else entirely. The fact is that Razah was such a mysterious specimen that no conclusive evidence can be drawn as to what it was, what its purpose was (if any), and how its powers worked.
Now, that is not to say that the theory holds no weight, because it does. I personally find it to be both a likely theory and one that would be very pleasing for the developers to confirm in some way, or at least drop subtle hints at (knowing ArenaNet, it would be subtle hints). My personal spin on this theory is that ArenaNet wanted to create the revenant in Guild Wars, but lacked the technology to make it work the way they wanted it to. Thus was born Razah, an incomplete template for an idea that would eventually be brought to life years down the road in another game entirely. Viva la revenant!
Special thanks to Draxynnic and Dayo for helping me with this theory.