Next up in my series about the various interesting races of Tyria are the grawl. They’re hairy ape-men that live a primitive lifestyle and worship just about anything, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. Grawl seem to be simple and pretty gullible, and they often are, truthfully. But they have a depth and power that’s hidden to the casual eye.
The first place many players encounter grawl is in Wayfarer Foothills. There are a couple interesting groups of grawl pretty close by each other in the Grawlenfjord area. The first has an event chain where it’s revealed that the grawl are worshipping a Fleshreaver that eats the shamans. Once it’s dead, one of the norn NPCs comments that they’ll soon find something else to worship “…like a tree stump. Or a flower.” The other group of grawl nearby is mostly peaceful grub farmers. Why are they peaceful? A clever norn carved a statue of a norn out of ice to serve as their god, so the grawl just worship norn now and let people pass in peace.
However, in Fireheart Rise the player finds three tribes of grawl that the Order of Whispers is trying to recruit into fighting the Flame Legion charr. Each tribe has its own god and a shaman for that god. One tribe worships an artifact that looks like asuran garbage but they call it the “God’s Eye”. However, they seem really willing to listen to Agent Moop, an Order of Whispers agent who simply claims to speak with the voice of the Eye. And the Shaman goes for it:
One of the other shamans gets distracted by falling in love with a harpy, and the other gets tricked by a Whispers agent using fire placed on the eyes and mouth of the statue that serves as their god. But here’s the thing: the Order of Whispers is willing to go through all this trouble to recruit the shamans because they have power enough for it to be worth it. No matter how silly their gods may be, the grawl shamans have magic strong enough to combat the Flame Legion.
Another example of a powerful grawl is Shaman Okamuk, a skill challenge in Frostgorge Sound.
He doesn’t seem like much, but he’s recognized by the kodan as a powerful shaman, and the kodan have a notorious superiority complex. Okamuk sees the influence the player will have on the world and seeks to test you. A simple skill challenge, since you just have to fight him, but if you pay attention there’s hidden depth to the whole interaction.
Finally, the most fleshed-out grawl the player is likely to encounter: Shaman Gara, who is the main grawl you interact with in the grawl branch of the personal story. Spoilers about the personal story will follow!
He doubts that his tribe’s god is genuine, but the “ice god” (in actuality, an icebrood) tries to kill him and fails, confirming his suspicions. He goes back to his village to try to convince the other shamans:
At first they don’t believe Gara, but after the player brings proof back in the form of grawl devoured by the icebrood instead of being taken to ‘paradise’ the village rallies behind Gara. Rather dramatically:
A horde of icebrood attack the village, including the false god. They’re slain, but not without casualties among the grawl. Afterwards, Gara makes a rather surprising declaration for a grawl:
As you see from Gara and all the examples above, grawl may like to devote themselves to whatever gods they can find, but they are not merciful to unworthy gods. And there’s more to them than worshipping tree stumps and hopping around going “ook”. Take the time to get to know them.