Wyrmguard

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Wyrmguard
A Wyrmguard
A Wyrmguard
Only appearance: Ultima IX

The Wyrmguard are a specialized unit of human warriors who serve the Guardian in Ultima IX.

Description[edit]

Readily identified by their distinctive dragon hide armour, Wyrmguards vary widely in combat prowess, from relatively weaker anonymous footsoldiers to the superhuman fortitude exhibited by their named elite. In melee, they tend to favor the broadsword, occasionally also brandishing a protective shield. Wyrmguards are generally found in the dungeons of Britannia, with a particularly notable presence in their strongholds of Destard and the Fortress of the Guardian on Terfin.

History[edit]

While their exact origin is not clear, the Wyrmguard appeared in Britannia during the latter years of the Age of Armageddon, where they served as loyal agents of the Guardian in the wake of the interdimensional conqueror's successful incursion upon the realm and subsequent raising of his eight malevolent columns throughout. The regiment acted under the direct command of the Guardian's chief subordinate, Lord Blackthorn, while also upholding an ongoing arrangement with Destard's Queen of Dragons, Talornia, in which they were permitted to recruit the great creature's young in exchange for supplying her with yields of precious gems mined from the surrounding caverns.[1]

With the Avatar's final journey to Britannia in Ultima IX, having entered a moongate from Earth, the returned Champion of Virtue materialized on the rocky outskirts of the Guardian's Terfin citadel and was promptly set upon by a dragon-mounted Wyrmguard, barely escaping incineration with a timely transposition to Stonegate by the Time Lord, Hawkwind. After emerging from this towering sanctuary, the hero was intercepted in an adjacent cave by yet another Wyrmguard, Colando, who impeded access to a teleporter to Britain before being either dispatched or evaded.

Britannia's enduring protector would go on to face many of these troops while questing to overthrow the Guardian's hold of the land: they almost invariably patrolled the entryways to the villain's monstrous columns in the depths of each corresponding dungeon, and would readily engage the Avatar when approached. In the course of such encounters, the hero made the startling discovery that several former comrades-in-arms (Iolo, Mariah, Julia, Jaana, and Geoffrey) numbered among the ranks of the Wyrmguard, having fallen into the Guardian's servitude through the perverse influence of the columns. Confronting each of these wayward companions, the Avatar could choose to slay them or, alternatively, spare their lives that they might soon be redeemed.

The Avatar's final brush with the Wyrmguard came during the infiltration of the Guardian's fortress, where his minions were found in abundance throughout its second level and attempted to prevent the hero from advancing to their master's chamber. This last remaining cluster was overcome, however, and the Avatar proceeded to a fateful clash with the Destructor of Worlds himself, reunifying as one entity and ascending beyond the mortal plane.

Notable examples[edit]

Companions[edit]

Three of the Avatar's eight companions did not become Wyrmguards: Dupre, who sacrificed himself in Ultima VII Part Two; Shamino, whose soul was trapped in the Spirit Realm by the Guardian prior to the events of Ultima IX; and Katrina, who, while affected by the columns, managed not to succumb to the lure that corrupted her five old friends.

Others[edit]

  • Colando: Guarding the teleporter near Stonegate, Colando is the first Wyrmguard encountered in battle and of far lesser capability than others.
  • Eve: Found in Shame guarding the Glyph of Honor, Eve is not only the mightiest of her cohorts, but also numbers among the realm's most formidable adversaries altogether.

Earlier plots[edit]

Main article: Bob White Plot
A Wyrmguard riding a dragon, as seen in the introduction sequence of Ultima IX.

In a previous draft of Ultima IX's plot treatment, developed during the tenure of lead designer Bob White, the Wyrmguard were conceived to be rangers turned by Lord Blackthorn on the basis that, with their embodiment of Spirituality, their corruption would resonate throughout Britannia.[2] Unlike the final release, none of the Avatar's companions were to be among these agents of the Guardian.

In this version of events, the Wyrmguard would have been prominent for their riding of steadfastly loyal dragons (as alluded to in the second of Ultima IX's introductory cinematics) and accordingly served as the airborne contingent of the Guardian's occupying forces. Also carrying out nefarious acts as small bands of footsoldiers, they were to have frequently come into conflict with the Avatar; one Wyrmguard in particular, Slaine, made recurring appearances throughout this iteration of the game and fulfilled much of the role eventually taken on by Blackthorn in the retail version, including losing her eye when ambushed by Raven and later terrorizing the Minoc gypsy camp (here named Mystvale).[2]

Furthermore, equipping the armaments of a Wyrmguard was originally intended to elicit a negative reaction from certain characters, particularly Lord British and Geoffrey, whereas in the final release they may be freely worn without consequence.[2]

Trivia[edit]

  • In the fan-made dialogue patch for Ultima IX, the Wyrmguard are provided with a backstory in which they originate from a world previously conquered by the Guardian.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. BaneUltima IX TranscriptUltima IX. "serve".
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 White, Robert. Ultima IX: Ascension - Plot Treatment. July 17, 1997. Pages 3–4, 11, 25, 29, 32, 34–36, 39.