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Strength, Trickery, Friendship, and Stealth - A Look at the Spirits of the Wild in Guild Wars 2

Updated Mon, Feb 28, 2011 by Xerin

Norn week, a week dedicated to one of the five playable races in Guild Wars 2, continues over at the official ArenaNet blog. In the latest updated they share new lore information about the Spirits of the Wild, the animal spirits that guide the Norn and serves as their “religion” of sorts. Those who have played Guild Wars: Eye of the North should remember the animal spirits and the role they played during the campaign. We didn’t get to find out much about the spirits, beyond the bear spirit who played the most prominent role.

As kind of a refresh course, there were a few instances where you summoned the animal spirits for their blessing in GW:EN. The first time was in ‘Curse of the Nornbear’ where you gained the blessing of the wolf. You then summoned the raven spirit in ‘A Gate Too Far’ which protected you from the Destroyer tremors. You summoned the bear spirit in ‘Blood Washes Blood’ which either gave you the aura which turned you into a bear or the ability to break down Charr barricades.

The Spirits of the Wild become very important in GW2.

The Norn could also transform into a bear which was the source of a lot of Jora’s problems. As we discussed previous, her brother Svanir was cursed by Jormag and turned into the Nornbear. She lost the Bear’s favor and could no longer transform into a bear until you defeated the Nornbear, at which point the Bear’s favor returned to her once again.

Understanding the Spirit of the Wild

This article goes into a lot of detail about the features of each of the individual spirit animals. We already know that there are huge buildings and towns dedicated to the various spirits, but we weren’t exactly sure what each of them was “aligned to.” Here is a brief summary of the four primary spirit animals:

  • Bear: Bear appears to be a spirit of strength and is considered to be the mightiest to the Norn. While it is called the “Great Spirit” sometimes, it doesn’t mean that it is their primary spirit and is regarded on the same level as Raven, Wolf, and Snow Leopard. It just means it shows up a lot more.
  • Raven: Raven is the spirit of knowledge and cunning, more of a spirit of thought than brute strength. Raven appears to be mostly associated with puzzles and riddles, along with trickery.
  • Snow Leopard: This spirit is focused around stealth and doing things as one instead as a group. Which I assume is like the “ninja spirit” in my own words. Kind of a stealthy lone soldier. The Snow Leopard lore is hashed out during the short story of Viskar which we will go into below.
  • Wolf: Wolf is the spirit of “teamwork, friendship, and family.” Which I assume is more of a spirit aligned to doing things together, working hard, and being a good person which is a conflicting view with Snow Leopard.

That’s not the only spirit animals, just the primary ones. There are non-primary spirit animals that range from noteworthy to non-sentient, such as mountain or fire. These spirits play a much smaller role in Norn society, but shouldn’t be discarded and each have their own lessons to teach. Some are missing such as the Own spirit who died helping the Norn escape Jormag while Dolyak (Ox), Eagle, and Wolverine are missing currently.

These spirits guide the Norn and don’t necessarily directly intervene like the Human gods once did. They work to keep a balance in the Norn’s lives. They are not worshipped, like gods, but revered. They are mostly guides, leading the Norn to the correct path and keeping their tempers and their lives in check.

Shamanistic Fortune

Shamans have some awesome clothing.

A lot of new information about Norn Shamans has surfaced with this new article. The Shamans follow a certain Spirit of the Wild and work to teach others the lessons the spirit has to teach while defending sacred areas like shrines, hunting grounds, or lodges. The strongest and most powerful Shamans are the Speakers of Hoelbrak which speak on behalf of each of the animal lodges.

Then there is the Havroun, which is like the direct speaker of a spirit animal. The Havroun tends to the spirit and can even walk straight into the mists without having to open a portal or perform a ritual. They can just cross straight into it and arrive at the Hall of the Spirits with ease. There is only one havroun per Spirit of the Wild and there can be one in training to replace an old or weary havroun.

Which seems to be themed based on the Spirit of the Wild that they follow the most.

A lot of focus in the gameplay will probably follow the various problems the shamans and havrouns will have. I even would bet that you’ll need to go into the mists and deal with problems there whenever you meet a havroun who needs your aid. I’m sure there is the standard assortment of “help a shaman defend a shrine!” type quests while others may focus around stoping a shaman from going rogue and turning over to the Sons of Svanir. I also have a strong feeling that betrayal will play a big part in the Norn gameplay. That’s just my opinions though.

Wild Dragons

There wasn’t a lot of new information about the Sons of Svanir. We already know that they’re tolerated in Norn society, that they follow Jormag, and are pretty evil. What is interesting though is that the “dragon spirit” doesn’t have a Havroun nor do their shamans possess the same powers as the Spirit of the Wilds’ shamans do. It seems that Jormag just simply corrupts those who follow him instead of bless them and their journey.

The Legend of Viskar

If you haven’t read the full story, I’ll wait to avoid spoiling it. The entire story brings a tear to my eye but gives us some insight on the depth of storytelling that ArenaNet has waiting for us. The story pretty much sums up everything about the Norn we’ve learned so far. Viskar’s father is killed, unfairly, by Grimhilde. He then takes up the Snow Leopard spirit, becomes a hero of legend, and in four short years sacrifices his life for vengeance on Grimhilde. The story sums up the Norn ego perfectly. Upset about his father’s death he, alone, creates a huge story for himself taking out one of the most fierce Norn in existence, ending her story in disgrace and bringing his to a glorious end.

The Spirits of the Wild are honored everywhere by the Norn, but they are not their "gods" so to speak.

What’s impressive to me is the depth involved in the story and the emotion it brings out. I’m not much for sipping espresso and talking at length about the merits of novels, but this story brought a tear to my eye and moved me emotionally, something small snippets normally don’t do.

Well, Norn week is mostly likely over now and this should be the final update. What did you think about Norn week? Did you enjoy it or would you still like to hear more? Come to the Ten Ton Hammer community forums and share your thoughts.

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