No doubt many of you are starting to feel at home in Tyria. You’ve seen many of the sights there are to see, though many still remain. You’ve slain Invaders and Defenders alike. Perhaps you’ve even participated in a Tournament. Be it PvE, PvP, or WvW, it has all been covered in one form or another.
Yet there is one group that has been neglected, if only slightly so. Roleplaying is in the heart of Guild Wars 2 (I mean, it IS in the title; mmoRPg). While I’m not a member of the GW2 Roleplaying community, nor have I ever done that much RPing in games, I’ve got a deep respect and appreciation for it. So this week, I’d like to talk about something a little different. I’d like to talk about developing a character and more importantly, your own story in Guild Wars 2.
What is The Thief?
If you’ve ever taken an upper level English course, or perhaps a course or two on Classical Mythology, you’ve probably been introduced to the idea of archetypes. Archetypes represent the core ideal of a figure, their perfect form from which all others are copied. The idea was pioneered by the famous Carl Jung, and has been a staple of literary and mythic analysis ever since.
So what is the archetype of The Thief? Caroline Myss, known as a guru in the Archetype community, offers us an explanation of the Thief Archetype:
“ The Thief is thought of as a nocturnal, hooded figure who slips silently into places and takes what he wants. In the hierarchy of thievery, the most respected is the Jewel Thief, associated with glamour, class, and sophistication. The Good Thief steals on behalf of others, as in the case of Robin Hood, and appears to be relieved of all wrongdoing because of his benevolent motive to be of service to others, but often that is just a rationalization. The Bank Thief maintains a degree of respect because the target is corporate and impersonal and the implication is that the thief has an intelligent and strategic mind. The Street Thief and Pickpocket, on the other hand, rank lowest because they rob ordinary individuals and their methods yield small gain.” [http://spiritlibrary.com/caroline-myss/a-gallery-of-archetypes]
While the Thief Archetype covers many of the different flavors of Thief that exist in Guild Wars 2, it does sadly fall a little bit short of covering the entire lot. While you could easily make a Bank Thief, or a Good Thief in game (in fact, I think ArenaNet probably wants you to lean toward the Good Thief Archetype), you could just as easily make an Assassin, a Ninja, a Pirate or a Gunslinger. Part of the draw, at least for me, of this class is its flexibility, not only in play style but in story. A Thief can come from just about anywhere in life. However, we do intrinsically feel that some Thieves are more noble than others.
A Hierarchy of Thieves
The most obvious question you need to ask yourself when creating your character is what KIND of Thief he or she will be. Did you come to thievery out of necessity, or is it all for the Thrill of the Crime? What kind of thievery are you interested in? Is it gems or lives you hope to steal?
While this is all well and good for the fanfiction writers and story lovers among us, I imagine there are a few people out there wondering what this has to do with gameplay. Normally, nothing. Most MMOs give very little time toward the development of your story based on your choices. There is a set path that you must follow, and while GW2 does follow a path, it is a path with options, starting with the very first question you’re asked: Which race will you play?
Each Race can play a Thief, but that doesn’t mean that they would ever be the same. Sure, you have black sheep and oddballs in every community, but this is still something to consider. More importantly, however, once you decide on a race, you have to make your first personal story choice.
Granted, it has no real effect on the game, and it is entirely cosmetic, but if you have a eye for stories, your choice of your Thiefly value can be fairly important. Are you a Bruiser, an Assassin, or a Street-stalker?
Now, most of you are probably into the higher levels by this point. I myself am nearing 80. So how do these choices affect your character as he grows and gains experience and has experiences in the world of Tyria? Well, they don’t have to, but if you give them a chance, they can do amazing things.
I for instance went with Subterfuge as my Thiefly virtue. I favor Subtlety in most situations and had an inkling that I wanted to play a ‘support’ thief. I’ve stuck to this idea throughout my personal story, and become quite adept at providing support to my friends, be the NPC’s or other players. While my choice didn’t actually do anything for my playing in the game, I did relish the sense of progression and growth.
More than anything, though, I’m going to advocate flexibility. There is nothing that will kill any idea of character development or roleplaying than someone refusing to adapt to a situation, or not bending something in their story to fit the logic of the scenario. As you progress through your story, be ready to expand on things in your character’s backstory, or change little things that you do in-game.
For example, I have a tradition in MMO’s of always having a stack of some sort of alcohol on my main character. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, and maybe I’m just playing out some strange desire to be a heavy-drinking adventurer, but I stick to it. For the first 50 levels or so of my gameplay, this was a stack of Hylek Absinthe. It worked well with my internet pseudonym, and I knew that I was going to pursue the Hylek as an ally. However, as I progressed through the personal story of the Order of Whispers, specifically past level 50, I sold off my absinthe and bought some Hard Cider. (If you’ve gotten to this point in the story, you should know what I mean. If not, go play it and meet an amazing character named Tybalt.)
I adapted to the story, taking the input of the game, and changing the little things about my character to reflect the journey of Mrell, my Asura Thief. Maybe it is a weapon, a trinket or a piece of armor, but these kinds of decisions are the kind that’ll make your character memorable not only to you, but to others.
While I imagine many of you were hoping for an analysis of mechanics or other such things, I hope that this resonated with a few members of the community. It is something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, and something that I think really gives games like Guild Wars 2 an extra level of depth. This game is certainly one of the types that gives you more as you put more into it. Until next week…
May your story be written for the ages,