Thursday, 7 June 2012

[GW2] Philosophy and Religion in the New Tyria

The history of religion is unavoidably a history of conflict; when sincerely held beliefs necessarily rub against each other, sparks are sure to fly. Tyria is no different in this regard; the events of Prophecies and Nightfall being particularly focused on our relationships with gods and those who serve them.

With the introduction of new races and new religions, the new Tyria is a landscape where old and new philosophies will collide.

Changing Relationships with “the Gods”

The races which have felt the greatest changes in their relationship with their Gods are undoubtedly the humans and the charr. Both relationships seem to have gone somewhat downhill – the humans noticing a marked absence of the gods since the events of Nightfall; and the charr renouncing all faith in deities altogether; after having been burned (sometimes literally) one too many times by Titans, Mursaat and most recently the Destroyers.

For the human race, this drift away from reliance on the Six Gods for aid has forced them to look elsewhere for support and solace. The disparate peoples of Kryta, Cantha, Elona and Ascalon have had to put aside their differences in order to survive. The absence of their gods has bonded the human race, rather than dividing it like the zealotry of the White Mantle or Varesh Ossa. You only have to look to the destruction wreaked by Abaddon and his Margonites to see how disruptive it can be when the affairs of Gods and men rub against each other. It could be that the Gods have intentionally stepped back from interfering in mortal matters to allow the human race to flourish and grow in these difficult times.

Where the absence of divine guidance has had a galvanising effect on the human race, it seems to have caused more disruption to the charr. The charr are a warrior-race, divided into warbands and trained for war almost from birth; their entire lives appear to be dictated by the movement of their enemy. When they were at war with the humans (under the banner of their Titan or Destroyer Gods), their race was able to band together against a common enemy. Since their rejection of any and all gods at the end of Eye of the North, their eye has now turned to an internal threat. Now the atheistic bulk of the charr force has turned against the Flame Legion, the only remaining charr to still follow a deity: a charr named Gaheron Balefire, whom they revere as a god. Their choice to abandon the Gods has driven a rift between the charr populace and the shaman caste who became the Flame Legion.

It is interesting to note, however, that while the charr seem to have no interest in reconnecting with their gods, the humans still seem to crave guidance from higher powers – and have placed their whole society very much within Divinity’s Reach.

Whether the absence of a divine presence has had a positive or negative effect on these two peoples will undoubtedly be a storyline explored in the game at large. Similarly, it may come to pass that the problems thrown up by the tumultuous shift from theism to atheism pale in comparison to the very real threat displayed by the Elder Dragons.

Ps. I want to cover the new philosophies of the sylvari as well as how the old thinking of the Eternal Alchemy of the asura and the norn Spirits of the Wild will fit into the new world, but I might save that for another time. ‘tis getting a little long!

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