User talk:Andrew McLeod/Species

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I've seen a lot of questions about how creatures are set up in Guild Wars. This page is where I'll try to explain and clarify some of how things work. I wanted to explain this in more detail to help with classifying creatures here on the wiki, though we don't need to necessarily classify them in the same way here. I just figured that if everyone knew how things worked on the back end, it would help clear up a lot of the confusion and hopefully help find a system that works.


Each creature is classified by a combination of 4 different elements: a world, an army, a family, and a descriptor. Any combination of these can be used to group creatures for different skills or effects, with the exception that creatures cannot be referenced only by their descriptor. A creature will only ever have one of any of these elements, though in rare cases, a creature may not have one of the classifications. All 4 of these classifications are used in referencing a creature, so the combination of these must result in a unique identifier that is not shared by any other creature in the game.


The world is simply which part of the world the creature comes from. Each chapter of Guild Wars has it's own world, and Pre-Searing ascalon also has a world. This is very rarely used to group creatures, as anything that we did using this classification would affect every creature in that chapter.


The army is basically the political allegiance of a creature. For example, Stone Summit Dwarves fight alongside Ice Golems and Siege Ice Golems. Stone Summit Dwarves and Ice Golems all belong to the Stone Summit army. If a creature isn't sentient or allied with a sentient race, they are generally a member of a generic army of the region that they are found in. For example, Whiptail Devourers are members of the Ascalon army.


The family is the actual type of creature. Using the Stone Summit example, a Stone Summit Howler is a member of the dwarf family, while an Ice Golem is a member of the elemental family. Most effects in the game which target a specific type of creature will use the Family to determine if the creature will be affected.


This is not used to actually classify creatures, but rather to distinguish them from each other. For example, Stone Summit Howlers and Stone Summit Sages both belong to the Tyria world, the Stone Summit army, and the Dwarf family. The descriptor is the identifier which makes these two creatures distinct.

Creature Customization[edit]

When I make a creature, I can adjust almost everything about the creature. Some examples are:

  • Maximum Health and Energy
  • Health and Energy regeneration
  • Movement Speed
  • Attack Speed
  • Size(in relation to the default size of the creature model)
  • Weapon type, weapon damage, type of damage, etc
  • Armor level, including armor versus specific damage types
  • Profession
  • Attributes
  • Skills

In addition to these customizations, there are a number of specific flags which can be set for a creature to do common effects. Some of these include:

  • Fleshy- creatures that are not fleshy are immune to several conditions, and do not leave exploitable corpses when they die
  • Passive- passive monsters won't attack players unless they have been attacked first
  • Boss - boss creatures have the distinctive "boss glow", and give players a morale boost when they die
  • Hidden - creatures that are hidden aren't visible until a player gets close to them.

We also design a lot of buffs for creatures to give them specific behaviors. This is used for things like making Undead take extra damage from holy damage, or making Tundra Giants knock players down when they land a critical hit.

Things which affect creatures[edit]

Slaying weapon upgrades[edit]

There are many weapon upgrades which will cause a weapon to deal extra damage versus a specific type of creature. This usually is based on the family of a creature. For example, all creatures with the family classification of "plant" will take additional damage from the "of Pruning" modifier, regardless of what world or army that plant belongs to. There is one notable exception, which is the "Deathbane" modifier. The undead are an army of creatures, composed of different families, such as skeletons, ghosts, zombies, and mummies. As all of these creatures are undead, "Deathbane" was made to affect all creatures in the Undead army, as opposed to a specific family of undead creatures.

Disease and Edge of Extinction[edit]

Both of these skills will affect creatures based only on the family that they belong to.

Sunspear and Lightbringer bouties[edit]

The bounties for killing certain types of creatures in Nightfall are set up using either the family or army of creatures, depending on which was appropriate for the type of creature that we wanted the bounty to affect. In most cases, these bounties work based on the family of creatures, but in some instances, such as the undead in the Desolation, the army was used instead so that all of the undead-affiliated creatures would be affected by the same bounty.


Armies and families[edit]

  1. Do unaffiliated races such as Centaurs, Dredge, Giants and Tengu belong to armies corresponding to their families?
  2. Are significant human organizations such as the Shining Blade, the Order of the Sunspears and the Crimson Skull generally their own armies?
  3. How are human non-combatant NPCs such as merchants, quest givers and generic friendly NPCs classified? Do they belong to the same generic region armies as unaffiliated monsters, or does each region have a "generic monsters" army and a separate "generic human NPCs" army?
  4. Does the Stone Summit army include Enslaved Ettins, Enslaved Frost Giants and Furnace Guardians, or just the Stone Summit Dwarves, Ice Golems and Siege Ice Golems?
  5. Do the Insect Hunt and Sunspear Monster Hunt bounties work by checking for multiple families, or is there a "great beasts" army and an "insects and spiders" army?
  6. Is Kanaxai's Nightmare Horde treated as an army by the game mechanics, and, if so, which groups does it include?
  7. Minions do not appear to be part of the undead army. Are summoned creatures an army?
  8. Do player characters have armies or are armies only for NPCs? How are armies handled for heroes and henchmen?
  9. Are the undead ghosts (Smoke Phantoms, Wraiths, etc.) and the creatures currently categorized as phantoms (Banished Dream Riders, Mindblade Spectres, Phantoms etc.) and miscellaneous ghosts (the Ghostly Hero, the ghosts in the Crystal Desert etc.) all members of the same family with different armies?
  10. How do disease and Edge of Extinction mechanics work for Charr and other creatures without families?

-- Gordon Ecker 04:40, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

1: The listed races all belong to the generic army of the region that they are found in. In Prophecies, there are Centaurs in the family for the Shiverpeaks, the family for the Maguuma Jungle, and the family for the Crystal Desert. In general, if creatures don't have an obvious political affiliation that is shown in-game(white mantle, corsairs, etc), they belong to these generic families.
2: The Shining Blade, Sunspears, and Crimson Skull all have their own armies, just like the White Mantle or Kournans.
3: NPC's in each region generally have a generic army for the region, which is separate from the creature army for that region. For instance, in Post-Searing Ascalon, the NPC's belong to the Ascalon Army, while the creatures belong to a generic Post-Searing army.
4: Sorrow's Furnace has it's own army, which functions similar to the generic armies for a region of the world. All of the creatures in the Sorrow's Furnace update belong to that army, including the new Stone Summit dwarves that are found there.
5: The Insect Hunt looks for both Insects and Spiders. All of the giant beasts for the Monster Hunt are in the same "Giant Beasts" family.
6: Each of the end-game areas(Underworld, Fissure of Woe, Tombs, Urgoz' Warren, Deep, and Domain of Anguish) have their own armies, which encompass all of the creatures found in that area. All of the creatures in the Deep belong to Kanaxai's army, and belong to the same families as when you fight that type of creature elsewhere(outcasts have the same family as elsewhere in the Jade Sea, but belong to a different army)
7: There is a Minion army for summoned necromancer minions. There is also a separate army for ranger and ritualist spirits.
8: I do not believe that players have an army. They are treated differently than creatures, so I'm not sure exactly how player characters are set up.
9: The Undead Ghosts are generally members of the undead army and the ghost family. Smoke Phantoms have their own family(though wraiths are ghosts). Undead found in the end-game areas, such as the Fissure of Woe belong to the army of that end-game area, however, and keep the family that they would otherwise belong to(Underworld Skeletons still belong to the Skeleton Family, but are not in the Undead Army). Due to this, I would expect that deathbane modifiers would not work against these undead, though skeletonslaying modifiers should still be effective.
10: I believe that Edge of Extinction and disease will treat creatures that don't have a family as being in a [null] family, or something similar. These would affect all creatures without a family as if they all had the same family. One way to check would be in the Last Day Dawns quest- the titans found there also do not have families, so if they are treated the same, Edge of Extinction should affect both the Charr Lords and Titans that are found in that quest.
Andrew McLeod (Freyas) - ArenaNet creature designer 00:56, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
  1. How is the World variable handled for The Mists and The Battle Isles?
  2. How will the Charr be handled in GW:EN, given that we will have at least one Charr hero, probable Charr rebels and that normal Charr army?

Backsword 12:53, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

1: There is a PvP World for creatures and NPC's encountered in PvP.
2: In GW:EN, the Charr are getting their own family.
Andrew McLeod (Freyas) - ArenaNet creature designer 00:56, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

  1. And what about animals? Do they have their own army or are all of them a separate family?
  2. And there are some monsters that will attack others. That hostile behavior depends on the area they are in or in the family or army they are in?

--The preceding unsigned comment was added by User:MithranArkanere .

1: Animals have their own family. All charmable animals belong to the same family, and initially belong to the generic army of the region that they are found in.
2: Monsters determine who to fight based upon the team that they are assigned to, which is set by the designer which spawns the area.
Andrew McLeod (Freyas) - ArenaNet creature designer 00:04, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

"All of the giant beasts for the Monster Hunt are in the same "Giant Beasts" family." -- this seems to contradict in-game behavior: Scytheclaw Behemoths don't pass disease to the cobalt creatures. --Rezyk 06:13, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

I didn't realize that the Behemoths were counted for the Monster Hunt bounty. The Behemoths have their own family, which is different from the Beast family. I would assume that this bounty looks at both families, similar to the insect bounty.
Andrew McLeod (Freyas) - ArenaNet creature designer 19:03, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
The 'great beast' that hunt talks about are: Cobalts, Behemoths/Rinkhals, Tusked and Ntouka. Are Behemoths the only ones with different family? MithranArkanere 21:33, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
The Rinkhal Monitors, Ntoukas(beasts and birds), Cobalt creatures, and the Tusked apes all belong to the "Beast" family. I assume that the Behemoths were also counted for the bounty as they are not found often enough to really deserve their own bounty.
Andrew McLeod (Freyas) - ArenaNet creature designer 02:02, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
I've got two questions about behemoths ...
  1. Are Rinkhal Monitors behemoths or great beasts?
  2. Do the Nightfall behemoths (Behemoth Gravebane and Scytheclaw Behemoth) belong to the same family as the Prophecies and Underworld behemoths (Tar Behemoth, Crag Behemoth, Dune Burrower, Crag Behemoth, Obsidian Behemoth and Obsidian Guardian)?
-- Gordon Ecker 02:48, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Rinkhal Monitors are part of the great beasts family.
The Behemoth's in Nightfall do indeed use the same family as the ones in prophecies and in the Underworld.
Andrew McLeod (Freyas) - ArenaNet creature designer 02:02, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Question: Are the wildlife Army of the Shiverpeaks split in a northern and southern army, or is there a unified wildlift army for this region? Backsword 00:20, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

The creatures in the shiverpeaks use the same armies for the northern and southern regions.
Andrew McLeod (Freyas) - ArenaNet creature designer 02:02, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

How are armies and families set up for the afflicted, Shiro'ken and sickened? Do they all share the same army with separate families? Are sickened in the afflicted family? -- Gordon Ecker 01:36, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

World trait[edit]

Thanks for your answers. I think we have a good understanding of this variable now. I have two questions more. Backsword

  1. You meantion 'end-game areas'. Do creatures in these belong to the continent you enter the area from? If so, what about The Underworld and Fissure of Woe?
  2. Some creatures (Eg. Dredge and Terrorweb Dryders appear on more than one continent, sometimes all three. Is there any rule for what world such creatures belong to?
I'm guessing that every individual "unit" / "mob" type (i.e. Charr Stalker, Dredge Shaman, Terrorweb Dryder, Shiro'ken Mesmer) gets the world trait of it's native campaign. -- Gordon Ecker 05:27, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
1. The creatures in end-game areas such as the Underworld still belong to the world that the area was released with. The creatures in the Underworld and Fissure of Woe belong to the Tyria world, while creatures in the Domain of Anguish belong to the Elona world.
2. Creatures that are found in multiple worlds have different versions based upon where the specific creature is found. For example, the Dredge found in Sorrow's Furnace belong to the Tyria world and Sorrow's Furnace army, while the Dredge found in Cantha belong to the Canthan world and the Echovald Forest army.
The one exception that can occur is when specific creatures from one campaign are used elsewhere, such as the Torment creatures used in the quests to bring characters to Nightfall. These creatures belong to the Elonan world, despite appearing in Tyria and Cantha.
Andrew McLeod (Freyas) - ArenaNet creature designer 02:12, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

"Animals" in Eye of the North[edit]

  1. Are Berserking Minotaurs the same species as regular Minotaurs? What about Berserking Aurochs, Berserking Bison and Berserking Wendigo?
  2. Are Arctic Wolves, Fenrir Spawn and Stone Wolves great beasts, animals or their own species?
  3. Are Stormcloud Incubi great beasts, demons or their own species?

-- Gordon Ecker 23:13, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

1: Berserking Minotaurs, Wendigos, etc. all belong to the Minotaur family.
2: The hostile animals(wolves, Fenrir Spawn, etc.) belong to the same family as the Great Beasts in Nightfall.
3: The Incubi are their own family, unique in Eye of the North. There are 4 different creatures in this family: Bloodthirst, Bloodbath, Cryptwing, and Stormcloud Incubi.
Andrew McLeod (Freyas) - ArenaNet creature designer 08:25, 10 September 2007 (UTC)


  1. Are Rinkhal Great Beasts, Behemoths or their own family?
  2. Are related in any way the Prophecies Behemoths and the Nightfall Behemoths?

MithranArkanere 23:45, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Scroll back a bit Mithran. Gordon already asked these questions. -- CoRrRan (CoRrRan / talk) 13:49, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Lavastriders and painweavers[edit]

Needling Lavastriders look like spiders, Deadly Lavastriders look like insects. Are they spiders and insects respectively, both spiders, both insects or their own family? -- Gordon Ecker 06:14, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Also, Painweavers look like scarabs, are they insects or spiders? -- Gordon Ecker 03:19, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
The Needling Lavastriders are arachnids, while the Deadly Lavastriders are insects.
Painweavers are arachnids, despite not having enough legs.Andrew McLeod 19:28, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm guessing that Lifeweavers are also spiders / arachnids. -- Gordon Ecker 01:09, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Correct, Lifeweavers are also arachnids.Andrew McLeod 01:17, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Harpy vs Skree Harpy[edit]

Are Skree Harpies part of the Harpy family? Or is Skree harpy the name of the species itself? -- CoRrRan (CoRrRan / talk) 13:49, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Skree Harpies are the type of harpies found in Elona. If there were harpies found in other areas of the game, they would be different harpies.Andrew McLeod 19:31, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
So it's the same about Griffons? Skree Griffons are those found in Vabbi too~, and they are Griffons, not harpies? MithranArkanere 19:51, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
The Skree Griffons are members of the harpy family there, but are distinctly Griffon in appearance, so they were named Griffons instead of Harpies.Andrew McLeod 01:16, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Shadow Army[edit]

A problem with classifying the shadow army has appeared. Each separate creature entry states that they are demons, but the demon page clearifies that they do not take extra damage from demonslaying weapons and as such cannot be demons. The question now is what would be the best "species" name for them. Morgoth Bauglyr 20:05, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

And they're divided between three armies: the Fissure of Woe army, the Domain of Anguish army and whichever army is used by the Realm of Torment shadow army members. -- Gordon Ecker 01:31, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
Internally, they're Nightmares, though I'm not sure if that's the best name for them either.Andrew McLeod 01:13, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm sure either 'shadows', 'shades' or 'Nightmares' are all good names. So, now we know their family, we can just go to the Nightmare page and begin a talk about that. MithranArkanere 17:11, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Mad King Thorn (and other NPCs)[edit]

Now that Halloween's comming I came to think about 'unique' NPCs...: We know that Varesh is maronite in her last battles. And Glint is as dragon as Kuunavang, but what about those others:

  • Mad King Thorn seems to be 'Undead', but 'Undead' it's an army. What's his family? Does he have any? Ghoul? Skeleton?
  • And the Lich? Is he a separate family (Lich) or any existing other? (Ghoul, Zombie, Ghost, Spirit, Skeleton?...?)
  • And Shiro? Has he always the same family, or does his family change in his different appearances? (Spirit, Human, Demon...?)
  • And what about Abaddon? God family?
  • And the grentchies? Own family?
  • And yule deers and winter moas? Animals?
  • And the Corn Golems and Snowmen? Are they elementals?

MithranArkanere 21:32, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

All of the events have their own armies that all of the creatures for that event belong to. As for families:
  • Mad King Thorn is a ghost.
  • Lich belongs to the undead army, and has no family
  • Shiro is a demon until the end of the Raisu Palace mission. When you fight him in Imperial Sanctum, he is a human.
  • Abaddon is in the same army as the other torment creatures but has his own family.
  • Grenches are demons.
  • Yule Deer and Winter Moas are animals.
  • Candy Corn golems and Snowmen have their own families.
Andrew McLeod 00:53, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Ghouls 'n... Spirits[edit]

It seems that not all those 'greenish' ghosts take holy damage, but some take. It seems too that some may burn, and some may not...

Examples of Ghostly-looking NPCs are:
  • Old Ascalon Spirits.
  • Eternals
  • All Ghostly allied NPCs. (Mostly seen in Crystal Desert, the Desolation and the Torment)
  • Dwarven Ghosts.

Do all those 'greenish' ghosts share the same family, or there are different families for some cases? MithranArkanere 21:32, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Isn't everything flammable now? -- Gordon Ecker 02:05, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Remember that those being 'flammable' or take holy damage is not enough, since they can manually set those properties for each creature. And since they are inmmune to disease and allied NPCs can't be attacked, we can't also use edge of extincttion. The main question is this: Eternal, Ghosts in the Undead army and allied ghosts are all the same? MithranArkanere 10:13, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Excluding pre-update spirits and mobs with spirit immunities (Corrupted Dragon Scales and Corrupted Dragon Spores), I believe that Destroyers are the only creatures in the game with natural burning immunity. -- Gordon Ecker 10:27, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
But the question is not that, the question it's if all greenish looking NPCs are all ghosts or are some that are not, since we can't tests Eternals and ghostly NPCs, hm... and there is that thing about Banished Dream Riders... MithranArkanere 19:41, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
All of the greenish ghosts belong to the Ghost family, though the armies that they belong to vary based on the region they're found in. I believe that they are all succeptible to burning, but are not fleshy, so they are immune to poison, disease, and bleeding, and will not leave corpses when they die. Most, if not all, are weak to holy damage- that is added separately from the army and family, so it may have been overlooked for some ghosts.
Andrew McLeod 01:21, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
So Eternals and Banished Dream Riders are both ghosts? MithranArkanere 15:51, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes. Andrew McLeod 22:23, 4 December 2007 (UTC)