Narrative & Level Design

Guild Wars 2 Submission

Tarsis Folly

GUild wars 2 Submission

I was instructed by ArenaNet to develop an original game zone in a style consistent with Guild Wars 2. It required quests and events in keeping with existing content. I was given a single monster image and told create background for it and then incorporate it into the zone. When asked about limitations, I was told that there were none and that they would not "Place limits on my creativity."

I had 48 hours to complete the submission. I slept for five.

This submission has not been altered since its submission.


To create an area to serve a siege-like Dynamic Event that leads to a scripted boss fight, while lending exposition regarding the past and current state of the Crystal Desert.


The Past: Tarsis and "Heaven's Outlet"

Asura Thaumaturgist Tarsis was a leading mind in his field, ultimately coming to the conclusion that ascension was the solution to unending power. His quest was not for personal power, but scientific glory. As a god, he posited that one could, more or less, plug an extension cord into the universe for everyone to use. He set out into the Crystal Desert to prove his theory. His final invention, before his untimely demise, was generator he called the "Quintessence Assemblage". A resonance cube that, when activated, shifted into the membrane between worlds. The cube used the strain of existing within two realities simultaneously to generate power. Alone, the Quintessence Assemblage would have secured his place in history, but fate would choose another feat to fill that role.

With his cube in tow, he and an army of Series-7 golems, each super-charged by the power of the Assemblage, wandered out into the sands. When Taris activated the cube, the Elder Crystal Dragon Kralkatorrik sensed the dimensional tremor and attacked Tarsis, disrupting the cube. The dragon's fire struck the cube, branding the ignition trigger, converting it into a crystalline substance that shorted the device's cascade inhibitor. The resulting explosion vaporized Taris and the majority of his golems. The desert sand around the cube was instantly fused into crystal by the explosion, becoming a prison that surrounded the cube.

Over time, power continued to leak from the cube, and it was channeled and tuned by the crystalline structure. When the sun reached its zenith, the light became a catalyst, forming a primordial sentience around the cube. A being known as "the Focus" grew in power, seemingly obsessed with crystalline generation, channeling its power into the sands, producing numerous, smaller elementals or "Foci". They began wandering the desert, creating more Foci from the sand or disintegrating into smaller versions of themselves called "lenses".

The Present: The B-Team

"In 1325, a crack Order of Whispers unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These heroes promptly escaped from an Asura security stockade. Today, still wanted by the Arcane Council, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and you're still sure it's worth making a big fuss over, and you can find them, maybe you can hire . . . the B-Team."

Looking to clear their name with a legendary act of heroism, Ila the Smith put together a plan for her team to retrieve the Quintessence Assembly from the Crystal Desert and bring it back to Lion's Arch.


B-Team Basecamp

In the southwestern valley of Tarsis Folly, a rag-tag group of hero's has setup a base of operations. A number of tents surround a fire pit and a series of workbenches. Members of the B-Team sandbox around the area, most notably building strange metallic cubes. While Ila, Arthur, and Maedoc build Photo-Arcanic Cells, Bosca stands watch at the entrance to the camp, which is protected by a barricade comprised of Foci bodies and assorted golem parts. Foci persistently wander slowly toward the camp, but are shot down by Bosca and her Charzooka.

Seat of the Assemblage

The fortress on the horizon shines from the distance. White spikes of reflective crystal strike out from the sand, forever frozen in the shape of the explosion that formed them. Foci wander the sands around the structure creating more Foci from the sands. Inside, the Focus lies in wait with unknown ambition.

Cemetery Gorge

Since the time of Tarsis and before, adventurers and armies of fortune have sought treasure and ascension in Crystal Desert. Many have have been brought low by the Foci, who, with strange fastidiousness, collect enemy corpses around the Seat of the Assemblage and dump them into the nearby gorge.

The latent and purposeful forces of Orr have taken root in Cemetery Gorge, and the Risen claim it as their own, strangely supplied by the Foci who take no notice of their existence.

In its northernmost reach, the emergency beacon of Tarsis sits, fused into the rock where it landed when the Quintessence Assemblage erupted.

End of Ascension

The great majority of the golem army of Tarsis was destroyed by the explosion. The remaining golems, whole or severely damaged, had no more orders to follow. They returned to the mustering fields in the south to await further orders that would never come. The damaged golems often attack passers-by, the whole wait patiently. Swallowing Sands

To the east, the soft dunes are host to a nest of Sand Wurms. Areas of the Swallowing Sands are affected by Quicksand slowing players inside the area of effect, making it easier for Sand Wurms to catch up to them.


"It's about time someone popped that box out of there, and we are certainly someone."

"It's about time someone popped that box out of there, and we are certainly someone."

Ila the Smith

Ila got her nickname due to her habit of jury-rigging devices at the last minute to complete the mission. They don't always work as planned, but they always work. Ila is the brains of the operation, though it's been noted that brains rarely make it into the final product.



"It's not overkill. It's just better for the land if my enemies hit the ground in thousands of tiny, smoldering bits. Explosions are how I show the world I care."

"It's not overkill. It's just better for the land if my enemies hit the ground in thousands of tiny, smoldering bits. Explosions are how I show the world I care."

Bosca Thundercannon

"It's not overkill. It's just better for the environment if my enemies hit the ground in thousands of tiny, smoldering bits. Explosions are how I show the world I care."
Bosca was thrown out of the Iron Legion for ignoring orders. When taking an enemy fortification, Bosca fired her Charzooka into the enemy front line, just after her commanding officer had finished leading the vanguard. His fur has only recently started to grow back.

“Look, just because they’re undead, doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. I mean, they don’t have feelings, but you still shouldn’t go around jumping to conclusions.”

“Look, just because they’re undead, doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. I mean, they don’t have feelings, but you still shouldn’t go around jumping to conclusions.”



“Bad Dream” Maedoc

When Maedoc emerged from the Dream, his time there could not be interpreted. His memories of the Dream were a nonsense of contradicting moments and wild, non-sequitur images. Maedoc found it very difficult to interact with other Sylvari and this, combined with a natural talent for death-magic, caught the attention of the Nightmare Court. Instead, Maedoc struck out on his own, befriending Bosca before joining the B-Team.





“As a mesmer, I can become anyone I want, anytime I want, but why would I ever want to be anyone but me?”

“As a mesmer, I can become anyone I want, anytime I want, but why would I ever want to be anyone but me?”

Arthur Kalmbach

Son of nobleman Templeton Kalmbach, Arthur began a long career of disappointing his father and upsetting the Krytan aristocracy by becoming a famous stage actor and spokesperson for a signature series of summer wines. While on tour, Ila viewed Kalmbach’s performance in the famous Beauty and the Grawl in Metrica Province, wherein Arthur played the role of the titular grawl masterfully. After the fifth curtain call, Ila approached Kalmbach and suggested he might put his skills to better use.




Foci are the standard enemy force of the Resonant, intended to be the nominal difficulty enemy in the area.

After the Quintessence Assemblage suffered critical core venting, the branded corruption that disrupted the cube was burned away, leaving only the crystalline effect behind. As the cube continued to leak energy, it resonated within the crystals, generating the sentience known as the Focus.

Family / Society
The sentience known as the Focus used the Quintessence Assemblage to channel its resonant energy into the sands around the Seat of the Assemblage to create Foci, a seemingly servile sub-race. Subservient to the Focus, Foci are higher in stature than Lenses, if there is any stature within the Resonant. Self-propagating, Foci's primary function appears to be the creation of a Resonant army.

Combat Behavior
Foci attempt to keep their distance from their target, using Energy Prison to immobilize and Focal Surge when at range. If forced into melee combat, Foci use Gatling Fists to make the most of their sharp manual prisms.

When reduced to 10% its maximum health, Foci will activate the suicide ability Resonance Cascade.

Note: Foci will not initiate combat at Focal Surge's maximum range. Aggro range is normal, once combat is initiated, Foci will attempt to achieve maximum range.

Combat Skills / Abilities

Ability: Energy Prison
Foci launch an energy cube at their enemy, striking the first enemy within the line of sight to the intended target. The target takes damage over time while immobilized.

Cast time: 3 s
Damage over time
Duration: 8 s
Immobilize: 8 s
Range: 900
Recharge time: 30 s

Ability: Focal Surge
Foci fire a beam at their target The farther away it is, the more damage it deals.
Damage (3x): Damage if range is between 300-600
Damage (3x): Damage if range is between 600-900
Damage (3x): Damage if range is greater than 900
Range: 1,200
Recharge time: 30 s

Ability: Resonance Cascade
If Foci are reduced to 10% of their maximum total health, they will activate the suicide ability Resonance Cascade. If Resonance Cascade reaches the end of its cast time, they will suicide, summoning 2-4 Lenses in their place.


Lenses are a swarm enemy of the Resonant, intended to complicate combat.

See Foci for details.

Family / Society
See Foci for details.

Combat Behavior
Lenses occur when Foci activate Resonance Cascade, breaking into 2-4 Lenses. Lenses immediately activate High Frequency, increasing their speed. Once an enemy target is acquired, Lenses move into melee range to activate Convex Flare, blinding and damaging their target.

Note: Lenses will despawn after five minutes of inactivity so as not to pile up and create a player-made swarm.

Combat Skills / Abilities

Ability: Convex Flare
Once in range of their target, Lenses bursts with Resonant light in a point-blank area of effect. Targets caught within the affected area take moderate damage and are blinded.


The Focus serves as the boss fight for this event chain. Its attacks are intended to have puzzle-
based solutions using objects and evasion skills rather than direct damage.

After the Quintessence Assemblage suffered a critical core venting, the branded corruption that disrupted the cube was burned away, leaving only the crystalline effect behind. As the cube continued to leak energy, it resonated within the crystals, generating the sentience known as the Focus.

Family / Society
The sentience known as the Focus used the Quintessence Assemblage to focus its resonant energy into the sands around the Seat of the Assemblage to create the Resonant race. Foci serve whatever ambition it might have.

Combat Behavior

See Dynamic Event Defeat the Focus for attacks and combat.

Ronin Series-7 Golem [Ronin Golem]

The Ronin are wandering, standard Series-7 Golems. Some are missing parts or limbs.


Support the B-Team Basecamp

Overview: Support the B-Team Basecamp by killing Sand Wurms and Risen, or collecting Foci and Golem Parts.
Display: Kill Risen and Sand Wurrms to protect the B-team Basecamp or collect Foci and Golem Parts to reinforce the barricade.


"It took a while to realize I wasn't aging, which is good, but eternity is sooooooo boring . . ."

"It took a while to realize I wasn't aging, which is good, but eternity is sooooooo boring . . ."

Help the "Ghost" of Tarsis Alleviate His Boredom

The holographic "Ghost" of Tarsis is bored out of his tiny Asuran skull. Tell him something entertaining about recent world events. Try not to bore him further.

"I have reached outside the Eternal Alchemy and into the Divine, for which I have paid the ultimate price."
- The Last Words of Master Thaumaturgist Tarsis, Leader of the Rush Krewe

The last words of Tarsis are well known. They are inscribed on a plaque displayed in the laboratory run by his progeny . . . but they aren't true. Tarsis was a notorious micromanager, who was only known to work with a single partner in his lifetime, his wife Desqual. Temporarily separated, as per the parameters of their nuptial hypothesis, Desqual was not with Tarsis when the event occurred, so there was no one to hear his actual last words, which were:

"That's interesting . . ."

His progeny decided it would be better if their progenitor served as a cautionary tale to others, discouraging them from wasting time researching the divine. Tarsis wasn't religious, but accepted that divine powers existed, and since they existed, why couldn't he plug his devices into them?

Reports of his death . . .

As a Krewe leader and Master Thaumaturgist, Tarsis was one of a select few to own a FOB, a small cube attached to the various security keys he kept on his person. The FOB, or Finality Override Beacon, monitors its owners vitals and, in the case of a sudden cessation of those readings, expands to roughly five times its original size and begins emitting a homing signal. The purpose being that many Asura are destroyed by their own research, but immortality can be achieved if someone carries on their work . . . as long as someone knows about it.

The FOB interpreted the absence Tarsis' vitals as user death, but that wasn't strictly correct. His vitals simply ceased to exist in this world. Tarsis wasn't killed by the famous blast that became his folly. His proximity to the Quintessence Assemblage pulled him into the membrane between worlds, as is the mechanic of the engine. The endless nothing-scape of his new reality was disappointing to say the least.

The FOB is designed to resist up to five-megamorts of user death causation, which includes temporal or dimensional sundering. Thus the FOB was rocketed into Cemetery Gorge by the explosion, tethered by the thinnest of gossamer aetheric strands to the lost thaumaturgist. Skill Challenge

Tarsis has hacked his own FOB to communicate with the physical world. He wants to know what's been going on since he disappeared.

Player: "Can . . . can you hear me?"
1a. (Player is Asura) "Ah, a kindred spirit! I was afraid it would be another one of those Human adventurers. They always end up getting killed before they get around to saying anything interesting."
1a. Player Response (Asura): "They can't help it. Where are you?" (Next to 6a)
2a. (Player is Charr) "Hello? Oh, a Charr. I - WOULD - LIKE - TO - TALK - TO - YOU, DO - YOU - UNDERSTAND - WORDS?"
2a. Player Response (Charr): "I can always drop this chunk of metal down a volcano . . ."
2b. (Player is Charr) Good luck prying it out of the cliff. (Next to 6a)
3a. (Player is Human) "Drats, a Human, oh well . . . Human! Take stock of your surroundings. Do you feel you are in danger of sudden traumatic injury?"
3a. Player Response (Human): "Everything seems safe . . ."
3b. (Player is Human) "That's what the last one said." (Next to 6a)
4a. (Player is Norn) "You, Norn! Blast it, crouch down! I didn't survive that tremendous explosion to have a conversation with your belt buckle."
4a. Player Response (Norn): "I don't have to wear the belt you know."
4b. (Player is Norn) "By the Eternal Alchemy, no! Spare me an eternity with that image. (Next to 6a)
5. (Player is Sylvari) "I didn't pay for this thing to talk to a shrub elemental."
5a. Player Response (Sylvari): "I'm Sylvari, don't you know us?"
5b. No, I've been . . . out of town lately. (On to 6a)
6a. I've been stuck in this membrane between worlds since the Seat of the Assemblage was forged from the sands. It took a while to realize I wasn't aging, which is good, but eternity is sooooooo boring. Tell me something interesting! What is happening in the world?
Option 1: "([If option two has been selected beforehand.] Seriously? Alright.)The dread Zhaitan has been defeated, the hordes of Orr will soon be banished from our world."
Tarsis Response: "Yaaawn! Dragons practically beg to be slain. I would have slain Kralkatorrik myself, but it caught me off-guard."
Option 2: "([If option one has been selected beforehand] Not interesting enough for you? Okay.) An enormous mechanical puppet descended from the sky, then shot lasers at everyone, then tried to crush Tyria's mightiest heroes with colossal, high-heeled shoes!
Tarsis Response: "That just sounds silly. How could that have possibly been a calamity of such proportions. Was Destiny's Edge on vacation?"
Option 3: "([If option one or two or both have been selected beforehand] You're impossible! Uhg, okay how about this one. This should knock your socks off.) Moto has created an entire world which is itself a game, and it exists within a single box no larger than a hut!! If you don't think that's impressive, the world within the box is itself formed of tiny boxes!
Tarsis Response: I dunno . . . I do like cubes . . .
You can collect bauble bubbles and exchange them for prizes!
Tarsis Response: Prizes you say. Wow, I wonder if Moto could send me one of those boxes. It would certainly pass the time between moron visits.



A01: Defend B-Team Basecamp Against the Risen

Summary: Standard camp defense versus oncoming enemies. Intended to add a sense of activity to the area. While Bosca Thundercannon has been able to hold off the advancing Foci, she can't handle the risen streaming down from Cemetery Gorge alone. Waves should generate as existing enemies are defeated.

Included Enemies: Risen Thralls, Risen Corrupters, Veteran Thralls (scaling to existing player number) Display Note: "Defeat the risen horde before they destroy the barricade."

A02: Retake the B-Team Basecamp

Summary: Standard camp retake. Defeat the Risen that have overtaken BTeam Basecamp.

Display Note: "Retake B-Team Basecamp from the Risen."

A03: Repair the Barricade

Summary: Repair the barricades to reactivate vendors and other NPCs.

Display Note: "Repair the barricades so the BTeam can get to work."

B01: Slay the Sand Wurm Menacing the B-Team Basecamp

Summary: A Champion Sand Wurm has tunnelled into the camp from the nearby Swallowing Sands.

Display Note: "Kill the beast."

C01: (Primary Event Chain) Collect Power Converters for Ila

Summary: To prepare for the assault on the Seat of the Assemblage, Ila needs power converters to finish her Photo- Arcanic Cells . Travel to nearby End of Ascension, collect Power Converters or loot them from Ronin Golems. Display Note: "Collect Power Converters in the End of Ascension."

ILA: (On Player Talk) You look like the kind of adventurer who'd like to remembered as one of the all-time, bravest heroes Tyria has ever known.
1. Yeah, that sounds like me.
2. Whatever you're selling lady, I'm not buying. (Leave)

ILA: (On Response #1): Nice! We're the B-Team, and we aim to retrieve one of the most significant inventions of our age! The Quintessence Assemblage! The most powerful arcane generator ever known! . . .The only snag is that it's currently powering a malevolent sentient energy force with the power to incinerate flesh just by staring at it . . .
(On Response #2): You don't know what you're missing! The history books will be using a very compelling font! (End)
1. I don't know, I'm pretty attached to my flesh . . .
2. Nope! (Leave)

ILA: (On Response #1) Don't worry, you'll have the B-Team at your back! And you can bring any friends you have with you. There's plenty of history to go around!
(On Response #2): Awwwww! Come on! (End)
PLAYER: So what do you need me to do?

ILA: I have a master plan. The intelligence currently using the Assemblage is called the Focus. We need to collect the massive amount of energy it can produce as it tries to turn us to ash. Then use that energy against it!
PLAYER: I'm on my way.

C02: (Primary Event Chain) Escort the B-Team Assault Wagon

Summary: Ila, Arthur, Bosca, and Maedoc load a golem-pulled cart with Photo-Arcanic Cells and other equipment. They then head to the Seat of the Assemblage. On the way, they will be attacked by Foci on stage one and three, and Risen on stage 2 of the road.

Display Note: "Escort the B-Team to the Seat of the Assemblage."

C03: (Primary Event Chain) Disrupt the Energy Pylons

Summary: To lower the defense field protecting the Focus' chamber, players must disrupt the energy matrix powering them. The antechamber contains four beams of teal-white light flowing vertically from floor to ceiling and several Foci standing inactively throughout. When approached, the Foci will activate. Four Foci will be designated with the symbol. These highlighted foci will flee to the four energy beams and stand inside them. The Foci will charge for three seconds, then fire a laser in a horizontal arc across the room (dodge or jump to avoid).

Players are instructed to destroy the highlighted Foci, but only when they are in the beam charging, which will disrupt the energy matrix.

When all four beams are disrupted, Foci will no longer spawn and the energy gate protecting the Focus' Chamber will go down.
Note: During this time, The B-Team is assembling the PO-KER (Polarized Ocular Krystallin Energy Resonator) and will not assist in this section of the event chain.

Intent: This establishes that the Focus is well protected, but also teaches the mechanic for disrupting the energy matrix using the energy beams and Foci. This will then carry over to the Boss Fight with the Focus.
Display Note: "Destroy the Foci when they enter the energy beams." Included Enemies: Foci, Lenses (potentially from Foci ability Shatter)

C04: (Primary Event Chain) (Group Event) Defeat the Focus

Summary: Ila and the rest of the B-Team push the PO-KER into the entrance of the Focus' chamber. Assembled, the PO-KER is a large Asura canon requiring a seated gunner to operate. The wagonload of Photo-Arcanic Cells (PACs) is brought in behind them by the golem.

Once the cannon is placed, Bosca will place/throw (depending on available animation) three square sockets onto the floor a significant distance in front of the cannon.

The players will be instructed to place a PAC in each socket. A player acquiring a PAC will hold the item, overriding their powers, leaving them with a PLACE ability, a DONK ability, and a DROP option.

Allows the player to place a PAC inside a socket.
Attack: Limited Damage; Significant Knockback, 5 Second Cooldown; Intended to give the carrier some limited crowd control.
The player can drop the PAC if needed, though it will be destroyed when the Focus uses its SWEEPING LASER ability.

Once the sockets are placed and three PACs placed in the sockets, the Focus will activate. Its opening attack will be SUMMON FOCI.

The Focus fires a beam of energy at the crystal floor summoning Foci that will attack the players or enter the two available energy pylons if they are vacant.
When the Foci enter the energy pylons, the Focus will become invulnerable until the players destroy the Foci within the beams.
Once the beams are disrupted, the Focus will become visibly irritated, and will telegraph and use SWEEPING LASER.

The Focus fires a huge beam of teal-white energy in an arc across the room. Players are encouraged to retreat and avoid the beam altogether.

If the three PACs are installed when the SWEEPING LASER is fired, the PACS will absorb energy from the attack and become charged. The room will shake, and Foci will emerge from rubble or from the walls. Players will then be instructed to retrieve the PACs and place them in ammo receptacles connected to the PO-KER. Once installed, Bosca will fire at the Focus, heavily damaging it.

The process will repeat until the Focus is destroyed. The Quintessence Assemblage will then fall to the ground.

Display Note: Destroy the Foci when they enter the energy beams. Place Photo-Arcanic Cells in the collection sockets. Retrieve the Photo-Arcanic Cells and load them into the PO-KER. Included Enemies: Foci, Lenses (potentially from Foci ability Shatter), the Focus


Focal Surge
Used by: Foci
Request: Alter Spatial Surge color to a teal that matches the other Resonant effects.
Energy Prison
Used by: Foci
Request: Alter Lightning Cage color to a teal that matches the other Resonant effects. Alter lighting to reinforce the idea of a cube. See Concept Art #03 under Foci.
Convex Flare
Used by: Lenses
Request: Alter Solar Flare color to a teal that matches the other Resonant effects.