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Guild Wars 2 Column: A Death in the Family

By Jason Winter on June 30, 2014

Death is certain. Death is eternal. Death is powerful.

Unless you're dealing with fantasy or sci-fi, in which case death is often uncertain, temporary, and/or meaningless.

But that doesn't have to be the case. Good writers find a way to make death impactful, especially the death of a major character. As I mentioned in my last piece, ArenaNet almost killed off Marjory Delaqua in season one of the Living Story, but apparently had a change of heart before things went live. As a result, the only significant death occurred was that of the primary villain, Scarlet Briar (and, to be honest, I think there's the teeniest, tiniest chance even that won't stick).

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I think that luck won't hold out. Now that ArenaNet's got their feet wet with the Living Story, not to mention the copious Personal Story, I think someone's due to get the axe in season two. Or the dagger. Or the scepter. Or the... well, you get the idea.

But who? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of characters in Guild Wars 2, so I'm not going to give a “Death Watch Ranking” to each and every one. (“And the 527th most likely character to die is: Hrok Sverresson!”) But I think we can narrow it down to a few, suitably likely groups of candidates.

A biconic. Marjory was due for the chopping block before, so it seems like ArenaNet is at least willing to consider offing one of these five new heroes. But this time around, I don't think it's too likely. First, there are a lot of other, arguably better candidates (as you'll see). Second, I still think they could use more development before their inevitable demise.

Third, they just seem like better characters than most of the rest, which would make it more of a waste to see one get bumped off. That's not to say that killing a well-written character is a bad idea, necessarily. But that kind of “shock value” can also be accomplished with a less well-developed, but still well-known and well-liked character. Hodor's not exactly the most robust character on Game of Thrones, but wouldn't you think it was awful if he died? There's no need to “waste” a death on a good character, except in a great while, especially if that character (or characters) is the future of your franchise, which is what I think the biconics are destined for.

A member of Destiny's Edge. Did I say “destined”? I've long held the belief that ArenaNet can't kill a member of Destiny's Edge because of how intertwined they are with the Personal Story, with dungeons, with the Zhaitan storyline...

But wait! That's all over! The second season of the Living Story takes place after the fall of Zhaitan in the storyline, so Destiny's Edge is no longer necessary. Granted, it might be a little weird to see, for instance, Logan die in the Maguuma Jungle and later face down Zhaitan with him, but I think it's just part of the MMO experience that we've all grown used to, on some level.

My pick for a dead DE member, though, is Zojja. Apart from the “Now she and Snaff can be reunited” notion, there might be a more practical reason for her death. As a guildmate pointed out to me recently, Zojja is the only one of the five who didn't appear in season one of the Living Story with any new lines. He theorized that was because she's voiced by Felicia Day, who is almost certainly the best-known – and probably most expensive and least available – of all the voice actors for Destiny's Edge. So, if she's difficult to nail down, it might be to ArenaNet's advantage to find a way to bring her in for one last day of recording and off her character so they don't have to deal with her again.

(Which sounds a bit harsh, when I put it that way. I'm sure Felicia is a wonderful person to work with, but, pragmatically, might not be the best option for a continuing character in a game that could go on for several more years. Zojja herself would see the logic in this assessment, I'm sure.)

Another semi-major character. Maybe the “death in the family” will be a member of the extended family. Again, since the Personal Story is officially concluded, any character who figures prominently in it – and isn't really needed elsewhere in the world, like Queen Jennah – could go... and there will probably be some sylvari-related drama in the new content... OMG, guys, could we dare to dream?

OK, we probably won't get that lucky.

Among characters we already know, I'd say the best chance to be offed is Belinda Delaqua. She's relatively minor and utterly disposable but has a strong, easily understood, connection to another character, so if she does bite it, it provides a great character moment for Marjory. How will she react? Will Kasmeer and the others be able to hold her back, to restrain her need for revenge? Will they even want/try to?

I also don't think we're done with the Ellen Kiel/Evon Gnashblade rivalry yet. We'll probably be a long ways from Lion's Arch, but it's not unreasonable to figure out ways for both of them to be involved in a trek to the Maguuma Jungle. Kiel's accustomed to leading expeditions into dangerous, unknown territory, as she did at Southsun Cove, and Gnashblade could be tapped to provide supplies for the undertaking. Having one of the two die, perhaps in defense of the other, could bring about a major change of heart for the surviving character as they come to realize that the other one wasn't so bad after all.

(Slight Personal Story spoiler ahead) Or, since it seems likely that the Living Story will elaborate on the non-Pale-Tree-born sylvari referenced in the Personal Story, we're likely to see Malyck again – perhaps for the last time. Granted, he's even more marginal than Belinda, but if we are going to learn more about the sylvari and the other Tree, it would seem a waste not to re-introduce him, at the very least.

A new character. Now we're entering into the realm of pure speculation here, but it's possible that ArenaNet won't want to cancel anybody that players are currently invested. They could, however, carefully cultivate things so that a totally new character is led to the slaughter. They'd have to be careful to plot out his or her entire story arc so as to not make people feel just attached enough to care but not so much that it would infuriate people when he or she dies.

It's a bit of a cop-out, but if people raged so hard when Kiel won the election over Gnashblade, imagine the risk ArenaNet would take by killing a popular character.

Nobody. Of course, this is an even bigger cop-out. Nobody dies, except for the most insignificant of grunts or minor characters, and probably a big, bad villain or two. Yawn.

So, what do you think? Who, if anyone, is going to bite the big one in season two?

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