Guild Wars 2: To Be Norn - Questions, Answers, and Spirit Animals

An all new Norn Q&A has been published on the official ArenaNet blog that sheds some light on Guild Wars 2’s biggest race. The Q&A, found in its entirety on the following page, is full of information about these “taller than life” giants that will be one of GW2’s five playable races. Like many of our readers, we've been excited to learn more about this mighty race which was introduced during the last Guild Wars campaign, featuring a lot of fun and interesting lore. While Norn Week hasn't necessarily answered all of our burning questions about the norn in GW2, we've been given plenty of fresh insights into their culture and unique gameplay features.

Exploring Their Homeland

ArenaNet has also released an all new video featuring the norn. Found below, this video is one of brilliance to me. Looking at the details that go into these scenes makes me almost tear up with joy thinking about playing in such a vibrant world. Alas, we cannot play the game yet, so all these videos do is tease us more and more. One thing the video does well, however, is show us the scale of the norn and the various buildings found in their settlements. The buildings are actually extremely huge, even bigger than the Norn themselves, which makes for an interesting and highly unique overall design.


To Be Norn

One of the coolest things about the norn is that there are more than just the four spirit animals (bear, raven, snow leopard, and wolf) and the lore expands beyond that. An example given in the Q&A is that the norn can call upon the Wurm spirit to summon a temporary pet. This means that they’re capable of communicating with more than just a set number or type of spirits which grants a lot of depth to their lore, as well as some extremely cool gameplay potential.

Guild Wars 2 Norn Week

The norn have no qualms about hunting.

As for the “why would you want to play Norn” question, it gives us some further insight into something we were already pretty much aware of. The norn are going to be loud and fierce, trying to snatch glory any way that they can. To me, that’s a really fun playstyle, because I love anything that will instantly launch into a crusade in the name of justice and the Norn seem to be that type. I can’t wait to see a norn grab a battle axe and start charging into a group of enemies, trying to kill as many as possible while laughing about how glorious their actions are.

Spirits of the Wild

As mentioned earlier, there are more than just the four main animal spirits that the norn can transform into. The spirits themselves act as guides and inspiration to the the norn, as opposed to fulfilling the role of gods that interfere into their daily lives to assist them and help directly.

Guild Wars 2 Norn Week 2

The animal spirits are shown in a lot of norn design.

One interesting fact we've learned is that the norn will have no problem slaying these beats that they “worship” and have a very logical and level headed view of their place in the world. So if they see a wolf in the wild they will often see it as a challenge presented before them, kill it, and then offer their thanks.

The norn also don’t feel a sense abandonment from their “gods” like humanity does, which is a refreshing take on things. If a spirit animal doesn’t provide assistance then the norn will just assume that the creature was teaching them a lesson in self-reliance instead of just ignoring them.

Seeking Glory

A big theme this week has been how the norn seek glory and challenge. That they go above and beyond everything else to become the hero of the story. Their starting area is a great example, where you’ll explore caves and climb to the mountain summits for adventure before returning to a moot and enjoying a keg of ale.

Guild Wars 2 Norn Week 3

A wolf lodge displays a giant head of a wolf above the entrance. That should make it easy to find important landmarks.

The fun thing to think about is that you will literally have the opportunity climb mountains, explore caves, and toss kegs around because GW2’s engine should allow all of it based on what we've seen so far. We know that the world is going to be huge (just look at how huge the norn buildings are). We also know that mini-games will be a huge part of the game, so we're really looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble the norn will be getting into as part of their daily lives within the city.

One thing that is curious is how the norn are referred to as being more tenacious than humans, yet humans are often portrayed as the most tenacious race of them all. Considering humanity has survived even after their lands have been taken away, watched as their enemies have grown in power, and the world has seemingly conspired greatly against them, this seems to be the case at any rate. Perhaps the tenacity of the norn is meant to be considered on an individual scale, as the Norn are extremely strong, while humans are far greater when they band together? That’s a question I’m sure we’ll have answered at some point.

Guild Wars 2 Norn Week 4

It will be much more common in GW2 to see the norn working in groups.

Difference of Time

It’s interesting how the norn have not really changed much culturally in the 250 years between games. With all of the reveals so far we’ve honestly not learned much new when it comes to the norn other than the fact that they’re more open now to working with strong heroes (much like the end of GW:EN). Even throughout the Q&A the Norn remain strong and steadfast in their determination to be the most glorious in battle, much like the norn in GW:EN were.

Guild Wars 2 Norn Week 5

That’s not a bad thing, not at all; however it is rather interesting to see a race not change much as time moves forward. It’s somewhat refreshing actually. While humanity has changed drastically, from its government to its land holdings to its views on its own gods, the norn still seek glory in battle and will do almost anything to obtain it.

Guild Wars 2 Norn Week 6

ArenaNet Creators Discuss the Norn in Guild Wars 2

  • Jeff Grubb – Continuity and Lore Designer
  • Ree Soesbee – Continuity and Lore Designer
  • Eric Flannum – Lead Game Designer
  • Bobby Stein – Writing Team Lead

Guild Wars 2 Line Style

Q: Why should a Guild Wars 2 player pick a norn character? In game terms, what distinguishes norn from humans and other playable races in the game?

Eric Flannum: A player should pick a norn if they want to play a larger than life character. Norn do everything to extremes and they live life to its fullest. To a norn, the journey is more important than the destination and one should always live in the moment. In game terms, norn player will have access to skills that draw upon their reverence for the spirits of the wild. This means that norn will be able to call upon the spirits and take bear, raven, snow leopard, and wolf form. Beyond taking animal form, the norn can use their affinity with nature in smaller ways as well. For example, a norn can call upon the wurm spirit to summon a temporary pet wurm.

Jeff Grubb: The norn are probably the most outgoing race in Guild Wars 2 – they take each day as a challenge, as an opportunity for greatness. If you want to wrap yourself in tales of personal glory and achievement, the norn are for you.

Ree Soesbee: There is no race in Tyria as tenacious, as stalwart, as the norn. We are building a world of heroes that fight against impossible odds and overcome through courage and determination; who fits that description better than the norn?

Bobby Stein: If youÂ’ve ever wanted to be the biggest, baddest, loudest guy in the pub then youÂ’ll love playing a norn.

Q: The norn hold certain animals in high esteem and can shapeshift into animal form. What role do these animals play in norn society?

Ree Soesbee: The Spirits of the Wild are the manifest essence of the natural world. They teach the norn lessons about survival, glory and battle, as well as home, hearth, and family.

Shapeshifting is an integral part of the norn culture and mentality. It shows clearly that each norn is a part of the natural cycle of predator and prey, that they are at peace with the more primitive instincts of their soul. The ability to shapeshift comes in part from nornÂ’s spirituality, in part from their culture, and in part from their physical nature.

Jeff Grubb: The norn see themselves as part of the natural and spiritual world around them. They hunt, but they respect that which they hunt. They see the wild beasts of the field as sustenance, challenges, and companions. They venerate the Spirits of the Wild, and in their great halls and shrines they keep sacred versions of these animals, who live peaceably with the norn populace. That is not to say they are pacifists. They may venerate the Spirit of the Wild they call Wolf, but have no problem fighting wolves. Indeed, they feel that such a battle is a test provided by Wolf. They offer thanks to the creatures they kill, take only what they need, and keep the balance.

Bobby Stein: The Spirits of the Wild represent virtues that the norn take very seriously, but they are not worshipped the way some humans might treat a god. If Bear does not help someone overcome an obstacle, a lesson in self-reliance is learned. Norn often align their behavior with the Spirit that most embodies their attitude, and not the other way around.

Q: What are some of the initial challenges and experiences a norn player can expect in Guild Wars 2?

Bobby Stein: Norn get famous or they die trying. We crafted many story elements and dynamic events to support that feel, so rather than have the player fend off bandit raids or centaur invasions we put them in the harsh wilderness to confront all manner of wild prey and enemy threats. YouÂ’ll explore caves and summit mountains in search of adventure and bounty. Once youÂ’ve had your fill, you might unwind with a casual keg toss or friendly brawl at the local moot or listen to a story from a skaald.

Ree Soesbee: The norn character seeks to make their name, earn glory, and be a hero. The initial norn story is one of meeting challenges and earning the respect of their peers. They may choose to approach the world from a position where they use physical tenacity to overcome obstacles, or one where they look to their spirituality and instinct to guide them, but in all cases, it will be true to the spirit of the norn.

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Pretty interesting stuff if you ask me. Come on over to the Guild Wars 2 - Ten Ton Hammer community forums and share your thoughts about Norn Week, the Q&A, and anything else that might be on your mind.

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