We take a look at some of the new creatures in Guild Wars: Nightfall.
The roads between towns and outposts are perilous, surrounded by the hunting grounds of vicious creatures. Unthinking beasts and insidious societies of rival races contest with humanity for control of the continent. Experienced adventurers usually prefer to avoid bothersome creatures like the heket, skale, and drake, since they can all slow down travelers with their frequent attacks. Inexperienced adventurers take them far more seriously. Any newly recruited Sunspear patrolling the roads of Elona should know more about the dangers that lie ahead.
Heket are a nuisance to anyone traveling across Elona. These amphibious creatures thrive near lakes and rivers, but roaming packs can be found in the more distant, desolate, and arid areas of the nation. No matter where they prowl, heket spawn at an alarming rate. From birth, they compete with each other for food, slaughtering smaller and weaker siblings. Once they’re strong enough to leave their breeding grounds, they form packs and roam further from home, using those same vicious instincts to prey on unwary travelers. Any adventurer who crosses the path of a pack of heket should be ready to defend their supplies, their food, and their very life. If they aren’t stopped, then larger, more vicious heket may be bold enough to attack humans near the gates of outposts and settlements. Human adventurers accept the fact that they must keep the population of heket to a minimum, if only for the sake of survival.
Skale and Drakes
Skale and drakes are two more nuisances of the Elonian countryside. Skale breed prolifically, and ravenous drakes eat prodigiously. In some areas of Istan, skale and drakes are numerous enough that young soldiers practice their swordsmanship and archery by dispatching them as quickly (and painlessly) as they can. In ancient times, some Elonian tribes measured the worth of their warriors by the number they could kill in a day. In modern Istan, the Sunspears have elaborate ways of testing martial skill and leadership abilities, but out of tradition, a soldier’s ability to dispatch skale and drakes quickly is still seen as a reliable test of whether someone is worthy of promotion.
Some irontooth drakes are clever enough to hunt near human settlements, seeking out wounded and freshly killed skale. A small handful of hunters who have repeatedly stalked these hunting grounds have learned the habits of these territorial ironteeth and managed to train them. Unfortunately, these hunters won't pass on their secret methods for training an irontooth, let alone sell these rare pets, so adventurers and heroes must content themselves with more typical animal companions.
Similar to the Ascalon devourers that burrow beneath the wastelands of Tyria, mandragor usually hunt in packs, and they always attack with the element of surprise. Mandragor use their rudimentary command of magical energy to travel and hide underground, blasting their way to the surface when they sense victims nearby. Tyria’s devourers, however, prey as much on misery as they do on weakness, using magic to demoralize and slow their opponents. Mandragor are brutally straightforward, lashing out with wild blows as they gradually leech lifeforce from their victims.
The Centaurs of Elona are different from the “half-equine, half-human” creatures seen to the north in Ascalon. They bear a resemblance to the gazelles that run across Elonian plains, and they’re more leonine and carnivorous than Centaurs on other continents. Their social behaviors are similar to those of big cats—in fact, a family of Elonian Centaurs is called a “pride.”
Elonian Centaurs are civilized enough to have organized families, oral histories, and treaties with other races, but they still retain many feral instincts. Territory remains critical to them, and they have suffered because of it. As Kournans have expanded their network of settlements, they have driven prides westward. In recent years, tension between humanity and the Centaurs has increased, leading to the infamous Kournan “pacification campaigns.” Many humans in Istan and Vabbi disapprove of the recent practice of Centaur enslavement in Kourna, but they are powerless to oppose it. Refugee and renegade Centaurs now raid human settlements—some for survival, and some for revenge—stoking the heated animosity between these two races.
Harpies prey upon weaker creatures for anything they can steal. Whether they do this out of greed, need, or pure delight in the torment of other living things remains a point of debate. A few Vabbian visionaries claim that harpies are intelligent or civilized, but adventurers have seen plenty of evidence to the contrary. They’ll steal food after they’ve feasted, take shiny baubles with no worth whatsoever, and stalk wanderers for miles with no discernable purpose. The Elonian species of harpies is sometimes referred to as the “skree,” and skree harpies are among the most relentless and vicious in the world.
Despite their baser instincts, skree harpies are organised enough to form a crude society, deferring to the will and whims of corrupt matriarchs. Once a harpy matron claims a stretch of land as her own, her progeny prey upon any who pass through it. Unfortunately, harpy matriarchs aren’t always particularly wise or intelligent in their choice of territory. Vabbian princes hire guards for many reasons, but all of them must prepare for the next time a pack of skree harpies begins scouting outside the walls of a princely estate.