Guild Wars 2 players will be asked "several detailed questions" about their character's personality, history and background that will shape their personal stories, their homes and the way they interact with NPCs.
That's according to lore & continuity designer Ree Soesby, who told the Guild Wars 2 website that after you've decided which race, class and gender you'd like to be, and what your character should look like ("there are a ton of options"), you'll be quizzed about your biography.
Biography questions will be influenced partly by race and class. If you're an asura, you'll be asked which of the asura colleges you attended. If you're a human, the game will want to know if you're from a Gentry, Commoner or Streets social background? The landlocked charr won't be able to pick a story involving the water-based quaggan. But charr can focus on ogres, skritt and grawl, whatever they are.
There are a few questions that span all races. If you choose to be intimidating and unfriendly, as opposed to say charming and polite, then your character will behave accordingly when interacting with NPCs.
There are around 10 biography questions in total and they have three to five answers each.
Your answers affect the type of house you'll be given when you start Guild Wars 2. Yes you did read that correctly: Guild Wars 2 gives you a house instance in your race's capital city at the start. A human from a Gentry background will likely live somewhere better than a human from a Streets background, and have better clothes to pick from.
Merchants and NPCs (and love interests?) can inhabit your house and your space will evolve over time depending on the decisions and progress made during your personal story.
Soesbee said each story will have at least one major moment of choice that can completely alter the chain of events thereafter.
The story follows the overarching battle of the world, Tyria, against the awakened Elder Dragons. But beneath that are more stories. There are the Iconics - the heroes of their respective races - that need coercing into action. These are Rytlock Brimstone, Logan Thackeray, Eir Stegalkin, Caithe, and Zojja. And, somewhere down the line, you'll be offered a place in an order.
There are three orders in Guild Wars: the secretive Order of Whispers that believes the dragons cannot be destroyed, only sent back to sleep; the scholarly Durmand Priory, with vast knowledge that may contain the secret to stopping the dragons; and the combative Vigil, who crusade zealously to fight the Elder Dragons.
Once accepted you'll unlock story paths based on the order you've joined.
And on top of that there's the story of the diminishing Destiny's Edge adventuring guild and many smaller side-quests picked up in between.
"Really, the number of stories is gigantic, and it will only get bigger over time," promised Soesbee.
What that means is that all of the choices snowball to create a storyline "tailored to meet your interests" and unique to you. Friends can join you on your personal story, enabling you to show them a world full of choices and consequences they might otherwise never have experienced.
Personal story missions will scale, which means a group of friends will find as sufficient challenge as a solo adventurer.
Importantly, story decisions are not better or worse: picking one path will offer no better rewards than another. There will be no gameplay advantage. "While no storyline effect will alter the mechanics (or power level) of your character, all the stories, experiences - and the flashy fun stuff - are distinct," said Roesbee.
Rewards for persevering with story include titles and unlocked lore. Keeping track of all this will be a history page, which starts automatically charting events from your very first biography quiz.
"MMOs have become extremely popular, and with their advent, some feel that personal story of a unique character has been abandoned," concluded Roesbee. "Guild Wars 2 is fighting back against that perception, giving players both the widespread, fully interactive feeling of a multiplayer game as well as the customized, choice-based story one expects from a personal role-playing game."
"In both cases - the epic and the personal - our goal for Guild Wars 2 is to bring enough story pieces to the table to allow a player to pick and choose their own; to essentially let the player tell their own story within the environment of our world. "
Personal stories are one of two key quest mechanics in Guild Wars 2. Dynamic events are the other. Read all about those and more in Eurogamer's still-warm Guild Wars 2 interview.