Dec 2, 2011

Character Background - is Charr Legion Choice a bad question?

I was thinking about all of the characters I'll want to make in Guild Wars 2 and it dawned on me that there is one character background question that stands out as being slightly different from the rest: Charr Legion choice.
The reason that I think this stands out is that the answers to this question come with built-in stereotypes that could heavily influence people's answers.  And that brings up some other questions involving how strongly it will affect gameplay, your story and if certain professions will have an easier time of it compared to others.
Before we examine the Charr though,  let's look at the other races as a point of contrast. 
Because of the convention demos we know the most about the Humans, including how one of their choices immediately influences the story.  When rolling a Human character, you are asked to choose between a Commoner background, a Middle class one or if you are a member of the ruling elite.  Although some may be quick to point out that the Thief profession is stereotypically associated with Low class, there is nothing that says it must be.  One's choice of class background and the profession you choose are clearly unrelated.  Whether you are a Lordly Elementalist or a pauper one, there shouldn't be any advantage or disadvantage as you play through the story. 
The same is true for the other Human background question about your family.  While doing whatever adventures unfold from regretting that you never found your lost sister, one would assume that it will be a level playing field for all professions. Or, if you choose instead to be an orphan, it shouldn't matter if you've grown up to be a Necromancer or a Guardian. Looking at the background questions for the other races shows a similar disjunction between profession choice and background.  Does it matter which vision your Sylvari had in the Dream if you're a Warrior?  Not that we can predict now.  Similarly, your choice of favorite teacher for an Asura doesn't seem to suggest any particular match-ups between profession and answer.
One could try to argue that the choice of a spirit animal for the Norn has a correlation to profession, but I don't think it does.  Bear is for the solo character, regardless of profession while Wolf is for those who like to group with others.  Raven is for thinking players, which could still be Warriors.  Snow Leopard is the one exception where it will probably be stereotyped to Rangers and Thieves.  Whether or not the spirit choice / profession combo will have an impact on the story is still something that is hard to predict though.  Given one of the early quests were your character is transformed into a lynx to perform a task, it's entirely possible that the main story may use similar mechanics and your profession won't enter into it at all.
But what about the Charr's choice of Legion?
There are three legions to choose from: Blood, Iron and Ash.  The three legions fulfill different roles within the Charr military complex. The Blood legion are front-line soldiers -- the Charr equivalent of infantry.  The Iron legion is the engineering branch, responsible for developing the Charr war machines and weapons.  Finally, the Ash legion is the special forces of the Charr army, specializing in scouting, subterfuge and other shadowy operations. Given these descriptions, it would be logical to assume that your personal story will take on the flavor of your legion affiliation.
The built-in stereotypes for these roles raise some questions about how your answer could affect gameplay.  If your opt for the Ash legion, is it safe to assume that you'll get missions requiring stealth and caution?  Will these be easier if your character is a Thief or a Ranger?  Similarly, will Blood legion missions be more difficult for a squishy Thief than they would be for a Warrior?
I'm inclined to trust that ArenaNet has developed the game so that any profession will have an equally fun and challenging time with any of the story background choices.  They honestly seem to care about their players so I'd be surprised if there is an Ash legion mission that requires stealth, unless they give you a potion or some other way of becoming stealthed so that all profession's would have an equal opportunity.  In this case, a Thief's natural stealth would merely act as a backup, giving them a slightly larger margin for error.
I'd also be surprised if ArenaNet ever released statistics about player character creation choices, but I think it would make for some interesting data.  I'm guessing that you'd see a strong correlation between profession and answer for questions like Legion or Norn spirit where there are some obvious stereotypes while questions with no obvious stereotype (like the Asura's favorite experiment) would probably see a much more even distribution.
How about you?  Will you be picking your answers to conform to a stereotype?  Are you worried about picking the "wrong" answer and missing out on something?  Share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. I'll be picking to conform to a stereotype, but know I'm not bound by it. I'm choosing it. I suspect many other will do the same though...

    But sometimes I also like choosing the exact opposite of what is expected.

  2. I won't be picking my Legion (or any other background details) to make playing and adventuring easier for myself. Rather, I intend to choose my Legion and other options to build my character and his story up. I want to have a immersive, inspiring, involving time playing GW2.

    If that means possibly picking background details that will make things more challenging, so be it. Given the very personal touch ANet is putting into the game, I figure it's going to be very rewarding.

    A Blood Legion Warrior may be straightforward and easier to play, but a Blood Legion Thief, scholar or Engineer is too interesting to pass up.

  3. I can defiantly see the concern but I don't think Arenanet would willingly design a story branch that's easier for a certain profession but harder for another. They seem to be too smart to fall into such an obvious pitfall. Also if you're Ash legion not all your missions will be stealth based. You'll get other missions based on who your father was or what order you join.

    From a lore standpoint it makes sense because you can have a warrior that prefers to sneak up on an opponent then bash them senseless on the head or an elementalist who crafts rifles. Or you could just say an engineer ended up in the blood legion simply because his parents were blood legion but he grew up to like guns and bombs instead of swords and axes. Really it's up to the player to fill in those details.