Asura: Cute and cuddly or heartless and selfish?

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Asura are the smallest of the playable races in Guild Wars 2. They’re the cute* race. Fuzzy, cuddly… wait – are those pointy teeth? And what’s with this maniac grin? Is… is that a golem running towards me? In other words: They are everything but cuddly and cute, that is for sure. I wonder what it will be like playing an asura…


“You give a new meaning to the term “counter-intelligence.”
(Vekk in Guild Wars)

They know that they are very intelligent and they will inform you about this fact whenever possible. Be prepared to be called ‘bookah’ on more than one occasion. They are also very ambitious with their inventions and experiments. So the real question I’m asking myself is: How far do they go? Are they a heartless and selfish race always looking for gaining an advantage, furthering their career and succeeding with their experiments?

“You care more for that walking statue than you do for the rest of us,” said Gyda.
“Untrue,” said the asura. “I just have less invested in you than in it.”
(Ghosts of Ascalon, p. 7)

Asura often organize in “krewes” where they work together on a certain project. Once the project is done, they may split up again and do something else or they may start their next project. They try to excel and outdo every other asura (they do, by nature, outbrain every other sentient race anyway, so other asura are the only real competition they have). This goes so far that some asura have a hard time finding asuran assistants because too many have found their untimely death while working in their labs before. Fortunately for them, they can always find a human or two who apparently need the money and help them out in their labs.

“They find – I’m gonna put the Inquest aside – that directly harming sentient beings is generally considered a bad thing. However they have much more an attitude toward putting others at risk be they Skritt or Humans or lab assistants than risking their own mighty brains.”
(Jeff Grub in the interview with Al’Ellisande)

You can see their ambition in every project they do, they ‘sacrifice’ their lab assistants for their work, and in the worst case, some of them – known as the Inquest – even went so far and abused and experimented on Sylvari only because they wanted to know who this race was. The asura that belong to the Inquest apparently do not share the same morals, as your common asura finds such treatment horribly cruel. The Inquest will not be playable for us, though, which is probably for the best.

Speaking of morals, ArenaNet once said that asura want to eradicate the skritt. Wanting to extinguish a whole race simply because it’s annoying to you (although we do not know the exact details of what kind of damage the skritt do to the asura), sounds extreme. And ArenaNet agrees, as you can see in’s interview about the asura.

“That is extreme. I think we may have gone too far at that point. I think the idea that they are a danger to the Asura and the Asura are very concerned about them is definitely there. Eradicate? Maybe too tough.”
(Jeff Grub in the interview with Al’Ellisande)

So while trying to extinguish a whole race and torturing sentient races go too far for most of the asura (thankfully! 😉 ), they do dangerous research and experiments which has led to countless deaths. Are they rational and without emotions like Vulcans from Star Trek? I doubt it: There is at least one asura that we know of who is very likely to have cried after thinking he was responsible for the death of somebody with whom he had gone through quite a bit adventure-wise. I can’t say where I got this bit from because it could be a spoiler otherwise. 😉

What’s it going to be like playing an asura then? Will you be an asura that leads a krewe with an important research project? Will you try to build the biggest golem you can? Or will you be a tiny little lab assistant trying to get through till the end of the day without having anything explode close to you? And how ambitious will you be?

I could imagine that those questions aren’t that important for us non-roleplayers (I like roleplaying in general but I’m not roleplaying in MMOs) but I can already see that the roleplayers among us will have to make some very important decisions about their asuran characters before they set foot into the game. Where does your character stand morally? How many lab assistants has your character seen come and go so far?

Or, in other words: What’s your story? 😉


*They haven’t always been this cute. Check out this ArenaNet blog posting about previous designs.

Sources (if you want to know all about asura):
Asura in Guild Wars 1
Asura in Guild Wars 2
Angel McCoy on writing asura interview with Jeff Grubb about the asura
Matt Barrett talks asura environment art
Matt Barrett on asura design
Ree Soesbee on the asura

Information about the skritt

And last but not least, if you want to have a look at Asura in action, I can recommend following these two Twitter accounts (if you know of any others, feel free to leave a comment): Asura Action News and Bamff.


About the author: Paeroka enjoys playing and writing about various MMOs (including Guild Wars, of course). Guild Wars 2 has been on her radar for years now and she is more or less patiently waiting for its release. She also has her own blog over at Nerdy Bookahs. If you want, you can also follow her Twitter account Paeroka.

Further reading:

  • Asura can be described as: every brilliant adjective in the known and unknown universes and dimensions.

  • Asura are pretty interesting in that regard.
    Personally, I’ll be playing mine in a rather unorthodox matter. She’s ditsy! At least, she acts ditsy to everyone around her while leading in the advancement in Etheralilization of Cumulus Bodies and Other Atmospheric Entities. In other words she has her head in the clouds! xD
    Seriously though, she like to enjoy life a lot and is very helpful to others when it interests her. This leads other to find her suspicious, but she doesn’t really mind/care. One think about her though is that she doesn’t treat others are people, but more like pets. She’ll give them nicknames, and offer them treats, but she really won’t consider some as smart as a moa at times. That’s just how she is! 😛

    • Paeroka

      I have the story and background of my Asura worked out rather well already. Of course, as I wrote, I’m not a roleplayer in MMOs but I can’t help creating backstories for my characters anyway. 😉 

      She’ll be an asura warrior, so she’ll be rather unorthodox by default. 😉

  • ArcherAvatar

    What a fun read.  I especially liked the “What’s your story” touch near the end.  That’s also a nice collection of links all in one spot for anyone interested in some follow-up.

    These little fellows, and the sylvari, are easily my favorites in GW2, and the vast majority of my characters will be members of one or the other.  I love the aesthetics of both races, and from what I’ve seen of their cities/starting areas so far their’s is the environment I’m likely going to enjoy the most.  In fact, it may take me quite awhile just to make it out of Rata Sum strictly due to rubber-necking – I may be at risk of doing serious harm to myself as I whiplash about trying to take in all the sights all at once… heh.

    • Paeroka

      The “What’s your story” was actually bookahnerk’s idea. I read my entry to him and he just exclaimed it at the end. It fit too well to not include it. 😉

      I’m not sure yet about the Sylvari. As a race, they’re certainly very intriguing. But they… look like plants on close-up and that’s weeeeird. I’ll have to see how much I like or dislike it when I’m in the game (whenever that will be… *sigh* ^^).

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  • Syl

    This was an awesome read, late as I may be to comment! I love what I’ve seen of the Asura this far, I think I’m going to include this post in an Asura feature on my own blog soon! cheers 🙂

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