GW2 Path of Fire Elonian Desert Story Developer Diary

Arenanet released a little developer diary today featuring the background story on Elonian Desert since GW1.

Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire™ returns players to the Elonian desert region, the setting for the Guild Wars: Nightfall® campaign. An ancient land of magic and majesty, the desert is where giant sand wurms roamed and humans once strived for the right to commune directly with their gods.

But things have changed in the past 250 years, and the region once associated with the Land of the Golden Sun has grown much, much darker. The Elonian Desert is currently ruled by a tyrannical undead lich named Palawa Joko and beset by both the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik and the rogue god Balthazar. The growing threat of a clash between god and Elder Dragon doesn’t just threaten the desert, its people, and the rich cultural tapestry they’ve woven—it threatens the magical balance that holds Tyria itself together.

In its thousand-year-plus history, the Elonian Desert has been the site of some literally world-shaping events. As Guild Wars 2 returns to the desert, it’s important to remember how vital the desert region is, how glorious and terrible its history, and how it factors into the ebb, flow, and evolution of magic.

Timeline
786 BE: The Gods Arrive, and They Brought Friends

The Six Gods first appear in Cantha, bringing humanity with them. Like gardeners starting a new patch, they transplant human beings to this lush new world, working the soil and tending their seedbeds to ensure the new crop will take root, spread, and thrive.

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205 BE: Into the Desert

After centuries spent settling Cantha, and then Orr, humanity expands into Elona. Despite the desert’s harsh climate and a host of both magical and natural dangers, humans establish a foothold in this magically robust environment that will become one of the most durable societies in history.

200 BE: Royal Roots

The royal line of Primeval Kings begins its 250-year reign over the desert region. During that reign, one of their best and brightest, Queen Nadijeh, founds the Order of the Sunspears—a heroic militia that uses magical and military might to protect the innocent and oppose any who would harm the new nation. Over the coming centuries, the Sunspears will selflessly serve their rulers and the people, and they will come to command almost religious awe and respect from the people of the desert.

Year 0 BE: The New Age Begins With a Bang

Abaddon declares war against his fellow gods over the issue of humanity’s magic use. The other five gods band together to defeat him and imprison him in the Realm of Torment, but their victory is a costly one: the fury of this divine clash obliterates the Crystal Sea, transforming it into the wasteland known today as the Crystal Desert. Once Abaddon is imprisoned, the Forgotten—a mysterious race of advanced snakefolk who have allied with the gods—serve as Abaddon’s jailers to prevent him from doing any more damage.

452 AE: There’s a Nasty Bug Going Around

The scarab plague—a terrifying disease that horrifically kills its victims—spreads across the region. The Primeval monarchs at this time—twin sisters Nahlah and Dahlah—are woefully unprepared for the pandemic and fail to stop it from devastating their kingdom. Though the plague subsides in 456 AE, the suffering it causes ends the Primeval Dynasty, kicking off nearly 200 years of civil war, pretender kings, and lawlessness.

640 AE: Regrouped, Restored, and Ready to Move Forward

After enduring two centuries of lesser kings and brutal warlords, the independent states of Kourna, Istan, and Vabbi join forces to form a new nation: Elona, named for the great Elon River that flows through their shared kingdom. This alliance stabilizes the region politically and martially, allowing Elona to heal and finally begin to restore and reclaim its former glory.

757 AE: A New Threat Rises That Just Won’t Die

Undead lich Palawa Joko emerges, intent on ruling Elona through magic, fear, and an army of mummies. He builds his Bone Palace, from which he will launch attacks against his neighbors as he conducts his war of conquest. By 860 AE, Joko has taken control of Vabbi, earning him the nickname “Scourge of Vabbi.”

862 AE: A Duel for the Ages

Elona joins together to resist Joko’s advance. The war culminates in the Battle of Jahai, where Joko and the Elonian hero Turai Ossa square off in single combat, with the combined forces of both sides bearing witness. Ossa prevails, but Joko is not so easily dispatched—how do you kill a threat that is already dead? Ossa’s answer: bury it under a rock so big it’ll never dig its way out.

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1075 AE: Night Falls Over Elona

The events of Guild Wars: Nightfall take place. After centuries of preparation and manipulation from within his hellish prison, Abaddon makes his move, determined to break out and establish dominion over humanity and the world it inhabits. To stop Abaddon, players are forced into a devil’s bargain with Palawa Joko, the only one who knows how to safely traverse the most dangerous part of the Crystal Desert and take the fight to Abaddon. The cost of this information is Joko’s release from beneath his mountainous tomb.

After a titanic struggle, Abaddon is defeated and his power absorbed by Kormir, a Sunspear Spearmarshal. Kormir ascends to godhood and replaces Abaddon as one of the Six Gods, becoming the more benevolent Goddess of Truth.

1175 The Scourge Returns to Scourge Again

Free, and having had three centuries to reconsider his strategy, Joko begins a new campaign of conquest. He forgoes brute force in favor of diabolical subtlety, and he diverts the Elon River’s life-giving water away from Vabbi and the other Elonian states. Deprived of this essential resource, Vabbi soon has no choice but to surrender. Kourna and Istan follow suit, becoming vassal states in King Joko’s desert empire. Joko moves to consolidate his hold on the region and to root out his enemies without interference from the rest of the world by closing the region’s borders and turning his considerable influence and power inward, on his own subjects and his own territory. He kills or converts the Sunspears, along with anyone else who dares oppose his rule, until there is no one left with the strength to defy him.

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1320 AE: An Elder Dragon Moves In

Kralkatorrik, the Crystal Elder Dragon, wakes from its slumber and heads directly for the desert region, leaving a corrupted swath of Branded landscape and creatures in its wake. Kralkatorrik is determined to kill its rebellious champion Glint, but when it reaches her it finds the guild of heroes known as Destiny’s Edge waiting. Destiny’s Edge comes very close to stopping Kralkatorrik, but their effort ultimately fails. Kralkatorrik kills Glint, along with her Forgotten attendants, and Snaff, a founding member of Destiny’s Edge. This defeat leads the guild to disband, and Kralkatorrik goes unchallenged as it settles into the desert region and prepares to consume as much of the world’s magic as it can.

1328 AE: One Dragon’s Loss Is Another Dragon’s Gain

Heroes kill the Jungle Elder Dragon Mordremoth in the distant Maguuma Jungle. After absorbing a portion of the magic released by Mordremoth’s demise, Kralkatorrik rises from its lair in the Crystal Desert and heads south, toward the more populated areas of the Elonian region.

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1329 AE: Lighting the Fuse

Balthazar, the god of fire and war, returns to Tyria to kill an Elder Dragon and claim its power, despite knowing that doing so will plunge the world’s magic into permanent chaos. He acquires enough power to accomplish this daunting task, but players thwart his attempts to destroy Primordus and Jormag. With only one viable target left, Balthazar sets his sights on Kralkatorrik in the desert.

Which brings us to the present day: Kralkatorrik is at the peak of its power, Balthazar is obsessed with claiming that power for himself, and they’re headed for a showdown in Joko’s desert kingdom. The potential clash between these three formidable forces threatens not only the Elonian Desert but the entire world.

Even with your help, can the desert region and its people survive? Or will over a thousand years of culture and history disappear like grains of sand in the wind? Only time, and Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire, will tell.

  • Trillium

    Too lazy to read it all.

    Does it explain how Elona retained the mount-riding technology forgotten in the rest of the world?
    And how the heck did Mordremoth lay paws on that technology, if he had no ties with Elona?

    • Lithlius

      Not sure if this a seriously stupid question or if this is a stupidly serious question…

      • Trillium

        There gotta be some kind of lore explaining why NOBODY except for Mordrem and a bunch of evil Hylek has figured out riding in all of Central Tyria and Maguuma Jungle. What you see or don’t see in the game is actual canon, you know. Even waypoints, as it turned out in LS.

        • Scutilla

          There’s the question of what would you ride- dolyaks and cows are the only large domesticated animals we see in five races territory, and they’re not exactly speedy. Horses are non-existent in this universe, and a centaur would murder you for even suggesting it. We rode siege devourers in GW1, but these days devourers that size are rare and mostly feral.

          There are other animal species that are an appropriate size, but domesticating a wild animal species isn’t easy- ask the ogres how things went with the chak. Rangers can effortlessly tame a lot of species, but I guess you could argue the juveniles we charm aren’t big enough to use as mounts.

          Taimi and other asura ride their golems as mounts, and charr have cars and tanks, but presumably the PCs don’t have the time to devote to maintaining one. (Though the number of situations that could be resolved by a charrcopter makes one wonder why they didn’t just commandeer one from the Pact.)

          • Trillium

            There are desert Dolyaks.
            There are also plenty of animals that would’ve been domesticated to use as mounts in any fantasy setting, especially when no conventional mounts are available – griffons, for instance.

            • Kalavier

              There are mounts in central tyria. They are not “shown” because GW2 did not need mounts for travel purpose with the waypoints and size of map. Horses were not included ingame to avoid the endless whining for mounts that they’d spawn from the idiotic masses.

              But horses exist in guild wars, have been in guild wars since the first game’s lore. Mounts exist in central tyria, with Marmox’s being a charr mount at times.

            • Scutilla

              Alright then, here’s another idea- Tyria has other modes of fast transportation developed in the past two hundred years, such as asura gates and waypoints, so fast travel on foot (or by griffon or whatever) became unnecessary. Neither development appeared in Elona- the only known Elonian asura gate is under Kamadan, and GW1-style fast travel isn’t canon lore- so they came up with other ways to get around.

              (I’m assuming that waypoints in places like Orr, the Heart of Maguuma, and the Crystal Desert are built as the Pact expands into those areas, since until now the asura didn’t regularly visit those locations.)

              Unfortunately, we all know the real reason is “because they didn’t think it would be something players can do until now”. We have plenty of NPCs escorting animals in-game, and it’s easy to imagine they ride those animals from time to time, but we just don’t see them do it because it would require additional modeling work.

              • Trillium

                Problem with game universes is that no matter real doylist reason, everything that is or isn’t in-game is canon. Books, comics and other media that try to fill gaps in the lore are “expanded universe” and are not 100% canon, no matter what company says.
                Best examples would be Warhammer 40k – novels and stuff have a ton of background information, which is kinda canon, but not real 100% concrete canon unless referenced in rulebook or armybooks.
                Or, non-game example, Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has TV series and comics, but those are not to be directly referenced in the movies, and movies may ignore them as they please.

                So yeah, Central Tyria has no riding, no matter what side materials say.

              • Kalavier

                Um Trillium, are you saying that anet can’t list their own canon policy? And sorry, but you are wrong. Horses exist, a charr is mentioned ingame riding a marmox.

                The reason horses aren’t ingame or mounts aren’t used is purely gameplay, not lore. Central Tyria has known how to use mounts all this time, since GW1.

          • Kalavier

            Um, horses have existed in Guild wars since the first game. They are mentioned in the canthan history. They are mentioned in the white mantle’s founding. Undead horsemen are a foe in GW1.

            In GW2 there are mentions of ponies, many times. There is mention of a horse themed party. Edge of Destiny mentions a field full of grazing horses, that is not shocking to Logan and crew. There are jousting toys/models. Mad King Thorn is described as killing somebody by feeding her horse something that made it go crazy.

            Also, charr have blurbs about riding Marmox’s as mounts.

            Horses have, and always have existed within guild wars. Having mounts is a thing in guild wars, it’s just they weren’t included because the original game did not need mounts, and if there were horses all anet would hear is “MOUNTS PLZ? MOUNTZ PLS?”

        • narg

          absence of mounts (horses or wagon etc) have pure practical reason, and it is, that GW2 engine DOES NOT HAVE ANIMATION FOR RIDING horses, or wagons, and add that to engine will take too much time, which game team rather invest in story mode. For this same reason character cant sit on chair, even chair are in game, engine just dont have sitting animation. So Anet come with not shown any mounts in game, not even with npc, coz dont have animation for that and coz you dont have seen any monts, you dont have any info about them, coz you dont need it (self sustain loop 😀 ). its same stuff like with gliding in all Tyria, you must upgrade your game engine, maps, zones etc.

          so praise the FIVE that PoF finally add mounts and its took just 5 years

          now we need just add that sitting at chair pls, Anet

        • Raziel

          Riding ? a mount ? nah i’ll just keep blowing my warhorn mate, eat my dust while i outrun a centaur !

    • OldTimer

      The lore in these games never makes a lot of sense to me, but it’s nice to at least have it laid out. In GW1, dwarves were riding around Tyria on dolyaks not that long before Nightfall. Maybe Mordremoth noticed and thought it looked fun. And then the Crystal Desert is connected to both Tyria and Elona, at least by portals, so maybe word spread in every direction.

    • Lockheart

      Suspension of disbelief is required for many of these things really. Early iterations of the game did not intend to have mounts, so they did not make it a focus. Secondly, the waypoint system is a cannon method of travel. Its likely once asura gates became a thing, the mass populace lost their need for many long distance travel creatures.

    • EEE

      The developers mentioned this in a earlier video about the difference between Core Tyria and Elona development.

      Their lore explination is that due to Core Tyria’s advancement in technology for Waypoints and Asura gates the need for mounts was greatly reduced and rarely used anymore. Elona, however, did not have access to Waypoints and the advancements of technology that Core Tyria was experiencing thus they remained more behind in technology with no access to Waypoints nor Asura gates until recent events in GW2 S3 and PoF caused Pact Forces and other organizations within Core Tyria to move into Elona’s territory bring with them very few Waypoints to set up bases and access trading post locations. Due to this Elona area depended greatly on Mounts for long distance travel.

  • Lithlius

    This post is food and fuel for Wooden Potatoes from anet im telling you lol

    SO i guess this finally settles in stone as cannon that Humans :
    a) did come from another world/realm/plane/

    b) DID indeed settle first at Cantha.

    Now this raise a bigger question. If cantha was where the gods came first, wouldnt Canthan depiction of the gods be the most accurate? because it was the ” Original one?” or perhaps this modern depiction 250 years later is more in par because we HAVE Orr which was where the gods last lived and since they actually DID live there people had a better chance to sort of know more accurately how the gods looked like?

    It did bother me a bit How Balthazar turned out to look exactly as we pictured him now in GW2 instead of having even the tiniest look like what CANTHA did portray him as.

    • Suan

      Maybe we see him as we do because we are Tyrians? No matter if you are human or from other races [since you have your knowledge and understanding about gods from human books]. You could counter that statement saying that if you choose “Lost sister” second origin as human we can say to Logan where are we from [Kryta, Ascalon, Elona and Cantha] but we all now that it does not really matter these days [S3E6 ignored completely origin possibilities]. Perhaps if GW3 would be all about Cantha and thanks to PoF story gods will return to our world, we’ll see them as Cantha people would? Who knows, for now we can just wait and see what PoF will bring us.

    • Scutilla

      I think your second-to-last paragraph has it right- the gods lived in Arah for what sounds like a couple centuries, and we know that at least Dwayna personally modeled for artists. Therefore, they have the most accurate images.

      Another possibility is that the gods simply change their appearance over time like humans do, and the Canthan depictions are simply from farther in the past. No one claimed Balthazar has only one set of armor.

      Looking at the wiki page for Arah, I noticed it claims to mark the spot where the gods first set foot on Tyria. I’m now curious what the source on that tidbit is, since it semi-conflicts with this info that the gods and humanity arrived in Cantha and didn’t move north for a few hundred years.

      • Shaggy

        i think youre right that they change appearances.

        and its possible the gods first visited tyria and seeded humans in cantha, but didnt set foot on the world itself until making their own homes in arah

        • D.aki

          The “modern” appearance might be an intentional choice, to make him instantly recognisable for any Tyrian and most other races.

          Also, Tyria and Cantha are different continents.

        • Lithlius

          I agree with the ” Tyrian continent” statement we know that Tyria is both the name of the planet and one of the continents so perhaps the text talks about the actual place they set a foothold for themselves. Cause it says that they brought humans to Cantha and. Helped them grow but doesn’t necessarily mean they where living among them. And that’s where a lot of the discussions about history are. This article is Gopd cause it sets straight a few things history wise and hopefully we get more lore on these ” Mist Beings ” or Gods on PoF.

          I’ve always been a fan of Magic the Gathering and the Planeswalker lore, so I can’t help but notice that the more and more we learn about these ” gods” the more they seem to be nothing more than the GW2 equivalent of Planeswalkers. Being able to absorb and control large quantities of “Mana/Ley energy” , the ability to traverse between ” Planes/Realms” , the ability to shape to a certain degree their own ” plane/realm” (Mirrodin for Karn/ Fissure of Woe The underworld for. Balth/Dhumm) . The “Spark/Godhood ” being transferable upon death or depowerment ( Glyssa to Slobad and Gerard to Karn/ Dhumm to Grenth and Abbadon to Kormir) and I could go on and on and on lol. Maybe it’s just coincidence or there is a MTG fan there at ANET. I love it though.

    • Shaggy

      it was said you couldnt look upon the gods directly or be rendered blind, and the ONE artist who dared DID create statues (was it malchor? i think it was malchor) but killed himself over how beautiful dwayna was.

      so to say we know what the gods look like based on any one example is like taking the christian post-iconoclast jesus at literal face value.

  • Suan

    Interesting, I rarely do it but I’m kinda proud of myself that, after reading through all of this, 90% is what I remember very well. Story is what I care the most in Guild Wars 2 so I hope that ArenaNet will do a good job with PoF story. Especially that they end this article/diary on a huge 3 armies with 3 powerful forces at the front of each. I really hope we’ll see a huge war between Balthazar, Kralkatorrik and Joko, with us in the middle of it all.. 17 days and we’re here!

    • Lockheart

      I’m just waiting for the norn batman shoe to drop and he shows up and drops the idiot ball to create more conflict.

  • Alot

    When the game launched, every dragon was strictly themed and the first dragon was the “undead” one, I was super chuffed at the thought of getting undead enemies permanently out the way and moving onto more exotic opponents. Alas getting mmo designers to do something other then undead seems to take more then a really large rock -.-

    • Shaggy

      i wonder if theyll tie that in somehow, have joko comment on the demise of zhaitan- whether it helped or hindered his cause.

    • ultimaistanza

      I don’t see why you’d think that. If Primordus was first, would you have thought that his death would lead to no fire enemies or fire-based attacks being used against us? ¯_(ツ)_/¯ lol

      To me, the different forms of undead help (ironically) to make the Guild Wars universe feel more alive. In this world, Necromancy is a somewhat common (albeit can be morally grey) practice and there’s numerous interactions between Tyria and various realms of the dead/death-like state. If the Risen were the only undead used against us, then I’d seriously have some reservations on how some of the lore of the world is reflected in the game.

      If it’s any consolidation though, Palawa Joko and his minions don’t necessarily act like typical undead. They may have that rotted look to them, but they are sentient. This could lead to some interesting storylines and potentially even bring back some Nightfall characters in undead form.

      • Alot

        I liked the idea of dealing with sentient undead. It would be interesting to see the culture of an immortal race who’s method of reproduction was essentially shopping with an executioners axe.

        The devstream seemed to focus on the idea that they were only marginally sentient however, which puts them below the intelligence displayed by zaitans minions to me.

        If Joko was a neutral party, and you had to consent to some morally grey tribute to operate in his domain, then these undead would be very interesting. As an enemy though, he seems a bit bland unless you played through the events of gw1 – which I haven’t done yet.

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