Sylvari – Incorruptible?

Today the page for sylvari on the Guild Wars 2 website was updated, detailing the little bits of information we had before, as well as adding new information, screenshots, and an amazing video (seriously, if you haven’t watched it yet…go do so).

There was one bit of information in that page that struck me as very interesting, though. Interesting, and unusual, and it got me thinking.

“While the other races may be corrupted by the Elder Dragons, turned into undead minions or crystalline creatures of the Brand, the sylvari are never turned. Those born of the Pale Tree simply die before the corruption takes hold. Many sylvari believe that this is because they were born to battle the dragons, blessed with a certain protection against their most horrible powers. Some non-sylvari scholars state instead that the sylvari’s strange biology foils the corruption of the dragons. A few clever souls state that sylvari just taste bad to dragons. No one knows for certain which is the truth.”

Now, any of those three possible explanations could work. Maybe the Pale Tree does grant them some sort of magical protection against the corruption of the dragons. Maybe their plant biology prevents it from happening somehow. Maybe the dragons simply are carnivores. We don’t know.

Caithe, of the Firstborn

But there was something from the blog post about writing the sylvari that also stood out to me. Essentially, sylvari lack the prejudices and that the other races have. They have a strong sense of honor, and stand by it. They’re highly curious and wish to experience all they can. And while sylvari are capable of love and loving (in all manners of the terms), they do not reproduce, and hence do not subscribe to human-style gender roles. Who they love is not defined by gender.

In short, as they lack the typical prejudices that the other races have developed, they are likely the only one of the races of Tyria that is capable of truly capable of accepting everyone and anyone as they are. This doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily tolerate evil (they hold a strong hatred of the dragons, for example), but if you’re someone who doesn’t fit whatever norms your society dictates? A sylvari may as well be your best friend. They’ll be curious about you, but they won’t judge you for it. They’ll just accept that as being you.

What do these two points have to do with each other, though? Well, you’ll have to bear with me, as this is just speculation on my part, but I do believe that it does make some sense.

The reason why sylvari cannot be corrupted does not have to do with any magical protection, or their biological (botanical?) makeup, or the dragon’s opinions on salad. Rather, it is because of the race’s high sense of honor and lack of prejudice. They find all new information as something to be explored, not shunned, and are too young, as a race, to have developed the sort of prejudices that plague the other races. Essentially, they are too pure as a race, and lack any corruption within themselves for the dragons to take hold of and twist to their advantage. The other races do not have this advantage; they are old and have learned prejudice, both personally and as a society, and even the most heroic person will have a seed of negativity within them that can be used to corrupt them.

Of course, I could be incorrect, and there are some things we don’t know about. Are the Nightmare Court as equally free from the risk of corruption? They are merciless and believe that Ventari’s teachings have twisted the Dream, and that they are the true sylvari, and explore the darker side of things. If they are also incorruptible, then that’s a sort of wrench in my theory, but at this point we don’t know – and I doubt the Nightmare Court really have gone out seeking to fight dragons, preferring to add their nightmares to the Dream to try and win over the Pale Tree.

The other big question is, will the sylvari always keep this ‘purity’ and lack of corruption? After all, they love to learn and experience new things. Tyria is a harsh world. They are a very young race, but as they age (individually and as a whole) and learn more about the world and how things work, is it possible for a sylvari to become jaded and perhaps learn some of the prejudices present in other races? Again, we don’t know, and at this point in time it’s impossible to tell, I think.

I am also assuming that the corruption of the dragons uses and takes advantage of the negativity and fears that are within everyone. This could be the case, or it might not be! This is just an idea, after all.

I could be way off, but I feel that there’s a good chance that the inability to be corrupted and the race’s sense of honor and acceptance could be linked. Why do you think the sylvari can’t be corrupted by dragons?

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36 thoughts on “Sylvari – Incorruptible?

    • I know I’d like to read it, and hey, it’s all speculation at this point. That one point has me really interested, though, and wondering just why it is that they can’t be corrupted.

  1. Yea the only real issue with your theory is the Nightmare Court like you said if they are incorruptible as well then it’s all a wash. I don’t know if they theory can hold up with Sylvari capable of being evil themselves. (Although it is still specifically stated that they hate the dragons even then.)

    I think it’s more likely that they are either specifically designed by the Pale tree to fight the dragons or it’s just a part of their as you put it Botanical nature. :)

    • Oh yeah, I definitely recognize that there are a lot of possible holes in my theory. Still, it’s an idea that I like, and would be quite neat if it were the case. Even if it is likely to be far more mundane :P

  2. Well, there’s certainly a theory that can be ruled out: the Elder Dragons are *not* strictly carnivores, when it comes to corruption. In the book Ghosts of Ascalon, the Dragonbrand’s vegetation was crystallized as well. Having grass shatter under your feet is a pretty vivid image.

    So it seems that the Sylvari’s protection isn’t due to them being plants. I kind of suspect it’s because they’re utterly new. They’re incredibly different from anything the Elder Dragons could have encountered from their previous awakening, and maybe they’re just different enough to be beyond any adaptation on the Dragons’ part. In essence, perhaps the shielding from corruption isn’t philosophical or biological, but rather ecological.

    • @jwlux
      That comment was brilliant, and in my opinion, spot on accurate.

      Musing about the origins of the seed found by Ronan that eventually become the Pale Tree… where did those seed(S) come from? Is it even possible that the fact that one went missing was somehow connected to the dragons awakening? What strange ritual did Ronan possibly interrupt?

      I’m hoping that sylvari members (and others) of the Durmand Priory might find in-game lore investigations that lead to some potential answers to those types of questions.

  3. Plants and (non-sentient) animals were also branded by Kralkatorrik in ascalon. These organisms do not possess any kind of negativity. If anything, they are as pure as can be.

  4. All that makes the Nightmare Court what it is is there in the Dream for all sylvari to experience.

    Joining the Nightmare Court does not seem to me to be a matter of corruption from the Dream, but a choice as to what to do with that corruption.

    Zombies, you know, undead, need flesh, I would say that the reason the sylvari can’t be turned is due to the lack of flesh. Chloroplast just does not make for good zombies.

    • This is true, though Zhaitan is the only dragon that turns them undead; Jormag basically corrupts by turning them into ice creatures and Kralkatorrik corrupts by crystallization. Their plant nature and makeup would make them poor zombies indeed but would only explain why they can’t be corrupted by one of the dragons.

  5. The big problem here is that these are traits you would have to apply to individuals, not a race. If the Sylvari are immune on account of their noble nature, why isn’t a noble human also immune? If you are implying that Sylvari somehow naturally have a level of morality unattainable by other sentient life then I would have to disagree very heavily (as, aside from anything else, those values came from one human and one centaur).

    It’s probably going to be because they are the reaction of the natural world to the unnatural force of the dragons- but I’ve not seen anyone yet consider that the dragons can’t corrupt them simply because they don’t know anything about them. It might be a process that involves knowledge of the race affected and the EDs know about all the races except the Sylvari.

      • Haha, didn’t expect to see you actually pop up here!

        There’s going to be a big lore post tomorrow, though, so maybe some more of this will be explained then. I fully accept that I could be way off, it was just an idea that struck me as I was reading everything.

  6. Of course, one other person has been immune so far- that Charr General from GoA. Though she was totally unaffected, whereas apparently the Sylvari just die.

    I would bet my money on either ‘spiritual resistance due to natural druid jungley weird stuff’ (official title) or ‘biology simply incompatible so they drop dead’

    • Almorra Soulkeeper? Yeah, the fact that she wasn’t corrupted (and survived as well) is interesting. Makes me curious what the deal with that was.

      Nice official title there.

  7. The only flaw in you theory, apart from the Nightmare Court, is that the sylvari do have some…not prejudices, but they have a certain opinion about the charr and the asura (both in a slighly negative way) that I wouldn’t say fits their ‘pure’ image. It could be, though, that the Elder Dragons pull out the worst in you, killing off the good parts. For the sylvari, there might be so much good and so little bad (I’m not willing to stretch to no bad what-so-ever) that there tiny bit of bad that is left isn’t enough to keep them going.

    • They have a bit of a negative opinion about the asura, but it’s less a prejudice (which is usually based on nothing) and more of learning from their experiences.

      And that’s kind of what I was getting at – there’s just not enough bad in a sylvari to subject them to corruption.

  8. quote: “Those born of the Pale Tree simply die before the corruption takes hold”
    My theory is that since there is a connection to the Pale Tree and all other sylvari that when the corruption sets in the connection is severed and do to the loss of this empathic (sp?) connection they die. Much like if you tried to cut the roots off of a plant – it won’t continue to live, but shrival up and die. So if you destroyed the pale tree – the entire sylvari would cease to exist.

    • There is some sort of connection between sylvari and the Pale Tree, since a sylvari’s experiences will enter the Dream and provide new information for newborn sylvari. However, while the death of the Tree would cause the race to die off (no new sylvari would be born), I don’t think it’s quite that sort of connection.

  9. It seems to me that sylvari are amongst the few beings who are essentially “one-way-traffic”. The thing with corruption is, you need a practical response. if you spread corruption and the receivers only observe it, understand it, file it under “evil” and then go on their merry way, corruption is useless. If you give corruption, you want it to go directly to the emotional core leaving the recipient in a red-eyed obedient rage. The difference between sylvari and other races is that with Sylvari, everything that is observed hits the curiosity nerve first as apposed to the other races with whom it immediately hits the emotional core. And corruption needs to sink its teeth real deep into your emotions. so i agree with your speculation.

    • Well, sylvari are emotional beings, that is made clear. But I do agree that attempts to corrupt them would not work because they would observe out of curiosity and then mentally file it away under “so, that’s bad” and then keep on doing what they were doing.

  10. A few things we know about the sylvari:

    – Every sylvari receives a part from the Dream, which is passed on by the Pale Tree;
    – The Pale Tree collects it’s knowledge through awoken sylvari.

    I bet the Pale Tree has some machanism to protect itself from getting corrupted by getting knowledge from corrupted sylvari. It’s a lot like ‘letting go’ of the corrupted sylvari like a tree letting go of it’s leaves in the fall. A tree in the fall losses it’s leaves so they do not kill them in winter time.

    • It’s possible, but I don’t think it’s very likely, else the Nightmare Court would have never been able to take hold. Their entire purpose is to try and change the Dream and the Pale Tree.

      • that is true, but at the same time, the sylvari are immune to all forms of corruption, even kralkatorrik.. so if the lack of biast and prejudice were what stopped them from falling to that sort of corruption, the same would go for the other plant life, and non sentient creatures. if you read Ghosts of Ascalon, even a mountain was corrupted.

  11. I have a different theory on it. Every dragon has it’s own type of minions that shows their aspect. Undead, Crystal etc. What if there is a nature elder dragon and Ronan stole one of the seeds that was intended to sprout it’s guardians. The nightmare court may actually be right that Ronan did corrupt the Pale Tree. One sentence in particular make me think I may be correct. “The sylvari believe it is their destiny to hunt the dragons, throughout their dream there is a shadow cast over them” They may have misinterpreted this vision in the dream.

    At the moment even the nightmare court is against the Elder Dragon. If this theory is correct and they realize they are actually an elder dragons’s minions would the Nightmare court become its willing servants? How would the rest of the sylvari race handle such a revelation?

    Then there is the fact that the Pale tree was only one of the seeds that was in the cave. Will the other seeds sprout as well? Will we see more monstrous formed plant creatures from these?

    • That is a very interesting theory; just why were there seeds in a cave guarded by plant-creatures, and what were they originally intended to grow into?

      I hope that’s something they cover eventually.

  12. I don’t really have anything to add to the corruption discussion, my guess is magic, but did have something to add about some of your other lore.

    “This doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily tolerate evil (they hold a strong hatred of the dragons, for example), but if you’re someone who doesn’t fit whatever norms your society dictates?”

    I’m not sure that the sylvari hate the dragons any more than they hate anything else. What I have gotten from their lore is that they are concerned about the threat the dragons pose, maybe bordering on fear in the Cold War sense, not abject terror. I get a very Jedi vibe from the noble sylvari and think that hatred may be beneath them. They will fight for any number of reasons but not because they are driven by emotions alone.

    • Hatred may have been a stronger word than I meant; they do certainly dislike the dragons and feel they are a big problem that needs to be dealt with.

      I definitely see the Jedi comparison, though unlike the Jedi they embrace their emotions, instead of avoiding them.

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  14. Incorruptible… not by biology alone (plants branded by Kralkatorrik for instance), as for the Pale Tree mystical powers on par to an Elder Dragon, that could be the case.

    Sylvaris have no internal organs, not even a beating heart or a formed brain per se… even their voices are a mere controled echo from vibrating vines and shocking barks in the throat region… no breathing or pulse to animate these, yet they are vibrant with their sap-filled life.

    To add to the mystical explanation of this peculiar “blessing”, tales from more than two hundreds years ago spoke about another race with a very strong anti-dragon (innate) purpose : the dwarfs… They even gave up to their very bodily existence to “control” the enactions of Primordus (in latin : first to rise) and avert an early awakening of him and his kind (by a couple generations at least).

    Incorruptible or simply incompatible, as far as my meager knowledge goes : it is unheard that a minion of a specific Elder Dragon could be corrupted by another one. The similarities between the Pale tree and the primal force of an Elder Dragon, its relation to its minions/childrens and lieutenants are tingling, aren’t they?
    Let me go on for a while on that path. For those scholars around who have studied a bit the destroyers (the children of Primordius), they may have been told the tale of a visions from heroes in the Eye of the North outpost and how many “generations” of destroyers hatched into existence full-grown (and ready to go with a sentient intelligence) from the lava soup surrounding this dragon’s resting place.

    But to be honest, down to the roots of the question : can a dream which took form/shape can really be corrupted in the “flesh” to begin with?

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