The D. Murphy Chronicles: Discovering the Lionguard

80 Scion 1331 AE

I encounter a spider cave after fleeing centaurs in the Heartwoods. That cave wasn’t best place to hide, but at least I inadvertently solved a spider infestation in the Township of Claypool! Lots to do in that little village. The militia stationed there requested I bring them a kask of ale from the Monks at the Krytan Freeholds. Having never been there before, I made an uneventful journey to the Freeholds by following the roads. On my way back I attempted to save time by riding cross country, but after being chased by Ettin and a very angry Treant, I’m not sure how much time I really saved. So many grumpy folks in this world! Anyway, the militia in Claypool were happy to get their ale and I earned a weeks wages for my trouble!

While resting in Claypool, I heard about a hunting lodge that had a problem with a wild bore, so I sought it out in the hope that I could hone my hunting skills. Unfortunately when I arrived I found that the job was already done by a group of adventures. I did get to help set some traps, until I crested a hill and my heart sank. Seeing the Shire of Beetletun on the far side of the valley below put a knot in the pit of my stomach… I camped out the night with some hunters in the Queen’s forest and made my way back to the Reach in the morning.

I brought Mrs. Hemmingsworth some fresh picked flowers and she traded me a hot meal for a smile and bit of raw bore meat. Later I headed into the city to see Gulvar. He wasn’t surprised to see me, but I could I tell he knew something I didn’t. He told me there was an armorsmith who could refurbish his armor, but it would take quite some time. I wasn’t sure if I could afford to get a replacement suit of armor, but I went to see the armorsmith at Gulvar’s insistence. There I made a contract to use their gear, both armor and weapons, at a discount provided that I tell folks about their shop while I am on my adventures. Not a bad deal considering they supply gear to the Black Lion Trading company too! Fixing Gulivar’s old suit will be expensive though, but I only had to pay half up front to leave it in their care.

Late that afternoon, as I sat on a side street wondering where to go from there, a dusty flyer for the carnival whisked up onto my leg. Wouldn’t you know it, the flyer indicated that Carnie Jeb and the gang were in Beetletun this week – not far away at all! After what the White Mantle did to my friend in there though… I’m honestly afraid to step foot in the village. But, I figured that if Jeb is there, then there must be money to be made and it was probably safe. I rented a room for the night in the Reach and set out for Beetletun in the early morning.

The carnival wasn’t hard to find, with its loud music and hollering drunkards. Speaking of hollering, Jeb wasn’t hard to find either – always sparing with someone! How he manages to remain both boastful and upbeat after countless defeats is anyone’s guess, but I think it makes him feel good to let average folks “beat the strong-man”. It was great to see Jeb. We tried sparring like the old days, but we kept being interrupted by a seemingly unlimited supply of adventurers! Ah well, at least Beetletun did prove to be a safe little town now. In fact, I helped solve some of its biggest problems by aiding some children with an infestation of bees and getting my hands dirty by removing some White Mantle graffiti from an elderly lady’s house. It was a good experience!

It was over ale with Jeb that I remembered the brewery monks had told me they would be in need of an escort through the swamp to make a delivery to a Lionguard outpost. Ever boisterous, Jeb pushed me out the door of the tavern and told me I had best “get to work, ya heathen!”, so off I went in the dark to the Krytan Freeholds. I arrived too late to make the escort (days apparently), but I was able to strap a keg to Misty and make a special delivery myself the next day. What a strange ride that was…

I left at the monastery near mid day, but after entering the swamp it was dark as night. I kept to the board walk and ignored the lights I saw in the mists until I heard a shrill scream. I’ve seen a lot in my time, but that sent chills through me something fierce… Still, Misty and I carried on down the boardwalk. Sharply the screams turned to moaning wails and persisted… Followed… At one point I looked to my right and saw a ghost, sad and alone not far off in the water. I had never seen a ghost before, only heard the stories of the Foefire… The ghost was weeping, the shadow of a man on his knees in the mud. Misty let out a huff as if to tell me to get off and speak with him, so I did. Listening to his tale lead me to freeing him and many other ghosts from the shadows that haunted them, using a spirituality I wasn’t aware was within until that encounter. Amazing… I fought shadows and horrors with light magic and I wasn’t afraid!

The swamp was quiet. I completed my delivery and met the nicest Lionguard captain. The Lionguard seem like a noble group of people from many races and walks of life – happy to put themselves in harms way to keep the trade routes open, safe. They seemed equally impressed by my steed, Misty, enough so that the captain asked if I could take some messages to their outposts far off in Caledon forest. I was apprehensive about leaving Queensdale for the first time, but life really was playing out for me just like Gulvar said it might: There I was out in the world meeting people and opportunity at every turn. So, I took the job! After supper I am heading off to visit all the Black Lion forts in the Caledon forest, delivering private mail and picking up any to bring back to Queensdale. What an adventure this will be!

– Dwayne Murphy


Levels 10 – 15

I think of the problems that I have noticed while levelling thus far, the only one of any importance really is that is hard to create your own narrative in the game. There are many interesting characters to meet throughout the game and you’re free to imagine anything you’d like about most of them, because there story isn’t told beyond that moment in which they are locked in time on the map where you can interact with them. However, they can’t join you on adventures, so you’re basically left playing the game with “imaginary friends”, making up an imaginary story along the way if you happen to wish to include any of these characters in your journey through the levels. Short of making a handful of roleplaying friends who you can call upon to play roles for you, it’s just you travelling the world all alone. And I am finding it difficult to both play the game and make a story told in first person journal entries that is more than simply a synopsis of the quests and events I encountered.

Maybe that is a good thing, telling the story that is actually in the game, because then other people would know that they too could have a similar experience as my own. I don’t know…

Anyway, game play wise it is obvious that the system which scales down the character isn’t perfect. Even in white gear with basic vitality/toughness runes, I was essentially invincible to non-critical direct damage from one or two NPCs. Of course that wasn’t true for condition damage, but it did mean that most of the content was no longer challenging. Apart from that, it really is funny how much of a focus there is on killing other sentient beings in the game. Like seriously, there is so much you can’t do if you choose not to kill sentient beings!

“Joining the Lionguard” as a role-play (which you will read more about later) was actually really cool, but it was difficult to translate my imagination into the practical playing of the game. However, I think if a person really took the time to research all of the content in the game related to the Lionguard, it would be possible to level throughout the game world as a Lionguard by “taking new assignments” at progressively higher level outposts. And then once you’ve reached level 80, you could decide where you’d like the character to be stationed out of all of the available locations. Some would say that is a waste of a character, but I think it would actually be a way to add more “character” to one’s character! It’s really too bad that there isn’t even a simple system to facilitate this sort affiliation, beyond our limited choices in the linear “personal story” that was included with the game. That’s not to say that I don’t like the personal story, it’s that once you’ve done it on a character, it will be pretty well the same story on all the rest of your characters too. It would have been nice if they had a system that was modular, where maybe you have UI that allows you to drag and drop events and associations that your character will encounter as they move through their story. They could have standard and random layouts, as well as layouts created manually by the player. Perhaps they could even have events, characters, companions, and faction associations that could be unlocked for use on new characters. I dunno, I think that would have a lot more replay value than what is in the game now and it would have allowed people like me to make characters like Dwayne be a real part of the Lionguard in the game itself, rather than just in my imagination.

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The D. Murphy Chronicles: The Dawn of a New Dwayne

63 Scion 1331 AE

Out of the pan, into the fire, they say. It wasn’t but a moment after I stepped through the gates of Divinity’s Reach when I heard the screams of villagers down the hill. My eyes hadn’t even fully adjusted to the blaring sun beyond the city walls… “Well, no time like the present to put Gulivar’s gear to the test!”, I thought to myself before charging headlong down the hill to investigate the commotion. Along the way I had a chuckle, remembering the silly old man’s stories and his insistence that he owes his life to my act of kindness. The truth is… he saved me and I can’t help but feel that now it’s time for me to live up to my own potential. In a way, to carry on Gulivar’s story by living the life he passed on to me…

It was about that moment when my train of thought was derailed by the thunder of hooves to my left. I turned, expecting to see the Seraph charging on horseback, but instead I was abruptly tackled to the ground by Mrs. Hemmingsworth, the Baker’s wife. Lovely lady, built like a four ox cart , with a demeanor as sweet as pie, unless she’s crossed. Turns out a band of Centaur had decided to raid the village and she wasn’t going to have any of that nonesense. Bravely and without a second thought, she had taken to the street with her trusty cast iron frying pan, wearing a look so stern as to cower even the most brash of adventurers. After rescuing my fool self from what most surely would have been a life threatening trampling, she dusted her self off, smiled, and charged on around the corner with a guttural roar. What an inspiration!

Now I have no misgivings with the Centaur, or any other free peoples, but I definitely don’t take kindly to violence. “Surely a peaceful arrangement could be made?”, I thought as I adjusted my ill-fitting armor and made my way further into the fray. I’m no pacifistic, but… but after taking Jordan’s life to save Gulivar from the evil that overcome my old friend, I… I can’t! Every life is a gift, a gift that is not mine to revoke, and by Dwayna’s light, I will fight to bring peace without becoming the very evil I wish was not part of this beautiful world. So when I reached the inn and spoke with Sergeant Walters, I offered to help defend the garrison in the hopes that I could help administrate a diplomatic solution to the crisis. I did have pretty good luck handling disputes between the other waifs in The Reach.

Long story short? I should have brought Mrs. Hemmingsworth with me, for either her hefty shoulder or her terror inducing display of frying pan swashbucklery. That Centaur Captain didn’t so much as flinch as he trampled over me when I attempted to parlay with him on the bridge to the keep. Shortly after I came to, I decided it would be a good time to put on the wacky helmet that Gulivar so kindly gave me. Unfortunately, the dutiful Seraph who revived me pointed down into muck below the bridge and smiled, eyebrows raised. No helmet it was! Throwing caution to the wind, and boy was it windy, I rushed toward a conjured monstrosity which looked like it was making to hurl a farm’s worth of machinery at the keep. Yup, two giant magical hands had sprung from the earth in the time I laid face down on the bridge. Finally, something I could smack with my new (old… very, very old…) mace!

“Something… something.. explode!”, and a bright flash of light is all I remember after that. Waking up in respite a few days later was a humbling experience to say the least, but I learned some valuable lessons. Firstly, helmets are good – wear the helmet! Secondly, there’s a world of opportunity beyond the walls of the great city – I should have left years ago! Why did I spend my youth and indeed, much of my early life, unaware that there was more than living day to day off scraps? People need help, they want help, and not only are they willing to pay for my hard work, they’ll thank me for my time! When Gulivar told me of his adventures that brought him from Elona to my dusty alley, I really didn’t believe him, because it all seemed so detached from my own experiences. But, now I see that all I needed was an opportunity and just a few resources to find a direction, a start…

– Dwayne Murphy


About Levels 1 – 10

Wow, is the “murder hobo” thing ever true about MMOs! When you’re actively trying not to damage, let alone kill, humaniod NPCs it’s a little shocking to watch other players bounce around gleefully murdering everyone in sight. What else becomes quickly obvious is that games such as Guild Wars 2, are designed with indiscriminate killing in mind. And I guess that’s fine, disturbing as it may be as a general concept, because they are games after all. In any case, by the time I reached level 9 I realized that no amount of stealthy or smart play will allow me to achieve “map completion” without having to murder a few dozen people along the way. Given that goes against spirit of the challenge (and Dwayne’s morals), I modified some of the post-level-80 goals so that I can reach them without having to make any exceptions.

Mr. Murphy is all setup with some extra bags I had kicking around and access to the following list of items that were “given to him by his old-man friend” Gulivar: A magic carpet, a suit of old armor, a worn out mace, a spectral glider, and a magical token which summons a freakin’ mystical jackal that is trained to be a mount! And if that wasn’t enough, Gulivar even gave him 20 gold worth of coins, along with a mandate to go out and live a life that would rival his own astounding story. For me, the player, that essentially means wandering the world trying explore as much as possible without getting into too much trouble along the way.

So far it has been pretty easy to complete hearts (quests) in Queensdale, though I did have the be sneaky when destroying Centuar supplies, because the Centaurs seemed to very much insist upon standing within the swing of my weapon. I’m pretty sure that is going to be the biggest difficulty with this challenge, because, as I said, the game seems to be designed with the assumption that folks will just kill anything that moves. Indeed, there are account wide achievements for doing that very thing!

And that brings me to my other important observation: One of the most awesome aspects of GW2, how so many things are conveniently account bound rather than character bound, also makes it difficult to track the achievements of a single character. It’s even difficult to set boundaries or limitations for particular characters, such as “only has X gold” or “can do X after completing Y achievement”. I could still set those types of limitations and track them externally from the game (in a book or a text file), but really that’s more work than I want to put into it. I mean, it’s a challenge I’m doing for my own entertainment, so… I think it’s OK for it to be a little lazy.

As of now, I am not sure where Dwayne will lead me. Maybe he’ll make his way to Hoelbrak to see if he can find out what happened to that nice Norn girl he met at a fair when he as a boy. What was her name again? Leona? I guess we’ll find out, won’t we!


The D. Murphy Chronicles (TDMC) is a fan fiction series based upon my adventures in Guild Wars 2, an online role-playing computer game.
Copyright © Semi-Nerdly 2018

The D. Murphy Chronicles: My Guild Wars 2 Challenge

Many years ago now I participated in the Ironman Challenge while playing World of Warcraft, an ongoing player driven event that aims to give the player a new way to experience the game. The idea is to level a character all the way to max level without dying, using only the worst possible (level appropriate) gear. There are some other rules as well, but that’s the jist of it. Personally, I was never able to get a character to level 80 without dying. I was doing really well on a Paladin until our internet cut out and he was killed by the tiger I was fighting at the time.

That was my fouth or fifth attempt and right about the time I decided the perma-death aspect of the challenge probably wasn’t going to work for me. However, I did enjoy the concept of leveling through exploring the dangers of the world (of Warcraft! lol…) thoughtfully and carefully and that’s what brings me to where I am now: challenging myself to not only level a character by sticking to some strict rules to make the process more difficult, but to have those rules be an integral part the character’s personal story. Only, I play Guild Wars 2 now, which is an entirely different game than WoW in many respects, so I had to think hard about how to make an interesting challenge.

Enter Dwayne Murphy, Human Guardian

My main character, a female Sylvari who I created in early 2015 when I decided I needed to give Guild Wars 2 a fair shake after having not played much at all in the 3 years I had owned the game, is a Guardian. I set her up for maximum burning damage, using sword and torch (with a back up septer and shield), and she completely out classes all my other characters in her ability to allow me to faceroll the open world content. I love this character; There is nothing about her that I want to change and I suppose that’s OK, because the game doesn’t make it easy to switch between gear/stat/skill combinations anyway. You’re best bet is to make a new character if you really want to play around with different builds for the classes you already play, so that’s what I did.

I made Dwayne a Human, because I wanted a character that would look good in a suit of heavy armor, but I loathed the voice acting on my original male Sylvari Guardian so much that I deleted him and rolled a female Sylvari instead. Sadly, the male Norm voice acting also bugged me to the point where I used a kit to change my ranger into a female too. Such is the problem with voice acting – when the acting doesn’t jibe with your feeling toward your character (or it just plain annoys you), well you’re shit out of luck, because that’s their voice. Anyway, I didn’t want another female Sylvari or Norn and I can live with the male human voice, despite the super cringy way he frequently yells, “STRAAWWHNNNG!”, so a human male I created! While in the proces of playing with the character creator I stumbled on a look that reminded me of a cross between The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and Eddie Murphy which made me smile and with that, Dwayne Murphy was born!

But What About Those Chronicles?

When I was coming up with the rules I’ll need to adhere to, my ever curious brain insisted on knowing Dwayne’s back story and his motivations so of course I endulged in some late musings on the subject! After expanding upon the general principles offered in the game’s personal story background choices, I thought to myself, “hey… I should totally make a journal of my experiences playing this character, both from my perspective as the player and his perspective as a person in the world of Tyria!”. And so The Chronicles of D. Murphy began!

As I play through the game, on no set schedule, I will create posts here that are broken down into two parts, a story section written in the form of a personal journal entry by Dwayne, followed by some commentary about my own experiences playing the character to that point.

My Rules

Guild Wars 2 is an easy game. It’s full awesome game play systems that truly respect the player’s time, while also going out of its way to ensure that players in the open world benefit rather than hinder each other. Almost every activity grants XP, from picking flowers to completing jumping puzzles, the game throws XP at the player like so much rain. Not only that, but once you’ve played a while on max level characters, you’ll end up with a pile of Tomes of Knowledge that can be used to grant free levels to your characters. And the XP buffs and the exotic gear and the food buffs and… yup, the real challenge here is finding a way to actually challenge one’s self while leveling!

Here is what I came up with…

  • Dwayne’s morality prevents him from killing sentient, living humaniods (excluding undead, risen, and ghosts). This is defined as: Asura, Char, Dwarf, Ettin, Exaulted, Forgotten, Giant, Grawl, Harpy, Hylek, Jotun, Kodan, Krait, Largos, Mursaat, Ogre, Quaggan, Skritt, Tengu Troll, and Treant.
  • Must level to 80 by exploring Core Tyria.
  • No Tomes of Knowledge or Scrolls of Experience.
  • No XP or combat related buffs/food/boosters (gathering/currency related ones are ok).
  • No leveling through crafting, but harvesting is OK.
  • Must use white armor and weapons purchased from Armor and Weaponsmith NPCs every 10 levels. For story purposes (and to actually USE it for something!) I started him in my set of Primal armor, which has level 8ish stats.
  • Trinkets must be blue quality and purchased only from Karma vendors.
  • May only use green Runes and Sigils.
  • May only use blue quality upgrades (jewels, runes, marks, and talisman).
  • Dwayne is afraid of portals and will not use waypoints (with the exception of maps that can’t otherwise be accessed). This includes travelling though The Mists.
  • When defeated, must respawn at the closest village (as though he was brought there to recover by good Samaritans).
  • Outside of the Crystal Desert zones, may only use the jackal mount, spectral glider, and magic carpet.

After reaching level 80, the following must be unlocked in order:

  1. May use all blue (fine) gear and any buffs/food/boosters.
  2. May use all green (master-work) gear and upgrades after discovering all the waypoints and vistas in Central Tyria.
  3. Mmay use all yellow (rare) gear and upgrades after discovering all the points of interest in Central Tyria and becoming a Master Jeweler and a Master Chef.
  4. May wear orange (exotic) gear and upgrades after discovering all the waypoints in the Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire maps.
  5. May where pink (ascended) gear after discovering all the waypoints, vistas, and points of interest in the Living World Season 3 maps.

I think that is a pretty decent set of parameters, given the very open, easy nature of the game and how I normally only participate in the open world content anyway (occasionally I will mash buttons in sPvP for the daily or other rewards). It’s definitely not as challenging as the Ironman Challenge from WoW, but it’s enough to create a game play experience that is unique to this character. I found it difficult to create sensible deterrents/punishments for things like being defeated or accidentally killing a sentient being, because ultimately it either hurts my whole account (by making me poorer if “x event costs x gold”, etc) or it needlessly wastes my time (repent for your sins by doing x activity), so I ended up not making any beyond having to re-spawn at a town. Ultimately, this challenge is something I’m doing for fun and I think what I have put together meets that criteria. Also, after playing up to level 9 I realized that world completion will not be possible for this character, as so much of the game is designed around killing sentient beings! Ah well, I there are other goals I can set.

In the next post I will provide Dwayne’s back story and some notes about setting up the character and playing through the first 10 levels or so. You’ll find them on my Guild Wars 2 page or sorted in the Guild Wars 2 category of the Post Archive page.