Guild Wars 2 Race | Norn

Well, to call the Norn "Man-Bears" may not be entirely accurate if you consider the statuesque female Norn. I remember what I was thinking at my first glimpse of Jora, the female Norn Warrior introduced to the Guild Wars world in the Eye of the North expansion... "Oh baby, we're going to win the 2-on-2 basketball competition" Guild Wars 2 Norn race(What did you think I was thinking? GW2 norn images )

Norn female and male picture A race of rugged, solitary hunters, the Norn are large, loud, and deeply spiritual, worshipping the Spirits of the Wild... The Bear, The Snow Leopard, The Wolf and The Raven... and have the ability to shape-shift into a half man / half beast version of these mighty bestial forms with unique skills and powers. Each totem has different virtues and lessons to teach the Norn.

The Bear is the embodiment of strength, ferocity and self reliance. Wolf teaches loyalty, unity in numbers loyalty, brotherhood. Raven is more into wisdom, cleverness, and being able to see clearly. Snow Leopard speaks of cunning and stealth and independence. Some Norn don't follow a particular path, preferring instead to revere all the Spirits of the Wild, following each whenever its lessons are relevant in their day-to-day lives.

There is also a small group of spirits that are revered with great sorrow. Owl, Dolyak (also known as Ox), Eagle and Wolverine are lauded for their bravery and their sacrifice as they remained behind to fight Jormag, aiding the Norn in escaping Jormag's fury. While it was confirmed that Owl had died, the true fate of the others is uncertain as even the shamans do not know.
The Spirits of the Wild have always been around to guide the Norn, and while the Spirits rarely offer aid directly, they always aim to help. If nothing comes of asking for their help, then clearly their help wasn't necessary. While the Norn are perfectly willing to allow the idea of gods, they think of them as a different type of their own animal Spirits.

Take a quick tour of the Norn homeland.

A Norn values glory and deeds of valor above all and will seek to drive their body and soul to greatness through constantly testing their own physical limits. They believe in living large and being as epic as possible and will become as strong as they can, and they surround themselves with others who are just as strong or stronger. The strong deserve respect, and the weak are useless.

Over the past one hundred years, more and more Norn have been seen in Kryta and lands beyond after being forced from their traditional homes in the Far North by the rise of the Elder Ice Dragon, Jormag. The Norn don't consider themselves as vanquished by Jormag; the dragon having broken their pride, but not their spirit. Instead they think of their situation only as a temporary retreat. The Norn re-settled in the Northern Shiverpeaks, building new Totem lodges and Homesteads amongst the high peaks and snow-filled valleys.

Asgeir, one of the greatest of Norn heroes, was unable to defeat the dragon but managed to knock out one of its teeth. He built the greatest hunting lodge Hoelbrak, placing Jormag's tooth in the center. Legend says that when someone successfuly breaks the tooth, that will be the sign that they are powerful enough to return to their ancestrial lands and defeat the dragons.

Hoelbrak became both a reminder of the foe they faced and a central meeting point for the Norn people where they can tell tales of their glorius battles and prepare for their next.

Now under the care of "Master of the Lodge" Knut Whitebear, Asgeir's grandson, Hoelbrak has become a hub of activity for the Norn and anyone looking to interact with them or hear their tales, and their tales are MANY! Norn tend to be very vocal about their deeds, giving importance and celebrating with great moots even the most routine acts.

The Norn want to be respected, and they want their legacy to be respectable. They boast and brawl and live their lives as though it will all be remembered and recorded, because they hope it will. They want to become a bigger legend to inspire those who follow.

On the right is a picture of Jormag's tooth, hanging in the Great Hall. Note the Norn people standing next to the tooth! That's one BIG tooth!
Jormag's tooth!
Five massive structures dominate Hoelbrak. The Great Lodge is the domain of the "Master of The Lodge", where one can find the greatest heroes of the Norn. Each of the other four lodges is dedicated to one of the four Spirits of the Wild. It is here that the wisdom of the Norn survives, as the shamans keep alive the faith and the skaalds tell the old tales of those who have gone before.

Hoelbrak is the Norn capital city in Guild Wars 2.

The four most powerful and dedicated shamans, one from each Lodge, are known as the "Speakers of Hoelbrak". The Bear's Lodge wise Speaker is Alarrin of the Frostborn. Moda the Black is the Speaker for Raven's lodge. The Speaker for the Snow leopard is the beautiful and mysterious Valharantha. Young Fastulf Jotharsson is the Wolf Lodge's Speaker.

Another special type of shaman known as a "Havroun" is a special servant of the spirit, a vigilant and active defender of the spirit's interests both in this world and the next. Havrouns have the unique ability to physically cross into the Mists and go to the Hall of the Spirits, where the brave live forever. They do not need to open a portal or perform a ritual unless they are taking others with them. Alone, they simply step into the spirit realm, sending their spirit into the Mists as easily as crossing a hearthstone. There is only one Havroun for each Spirit of the Wild though there may be another in training if the current Havroun has grown old or weary and is preparing for their final crossing into the Mists.
Take a quick tour of Hoelbrak in this 4-minute GW2 video!

Along with their passion for hunting, the Norn also enjoy some "sporting" combat amongst themselves. In Guild Wars 2 you'll get to play a game in Hoelbrak called "Keg Brawl" that's basically a Norn interpretation of basketball, with passing, shooting, etc. except the "ball" will be a heavy keg of ale.

A player creating a Norn character in Guild Wars 2 will select their personal totem, choosing to walk in the path of bear, snow leopard, raven or wolf. From these and other initial determinations, a wealth of personalized storylines develop, so that each Norn player experiences a story that is individually tailored to their character. One thing that's important to note: the choices made to determine a character's personal storyline do not affect the power of the character. For example, a Norn choosing to walk the path of bear can still choose to use snow leopard form instead of bear form.

Appearances will also vary widely. For those who love their bearded norn, there'll be a full range of beard options during character creation in GW2 and it will be the norm for norn NPC's to wear beards as well. I am of course just referring to male norn, female norn almost never have beards. By the bear! Bearded Norn!
Here's a video showing the start of the personal story of a female Norn Guardian.

Leading into Guild Wars 2, the eastern border of the Shiverpeaks has been stable for nearly 200 years. During The Searing, the Norn had allowed the Charr armies safe passage through the northern pass from Ascalon into Kryta, setting the stage for the Charr invasion of the central human lands. The Norn respect the Charr for their strength and military prowess as the Charr could certainly have destroyed the Norn resistance if they had turned their entire army, or even one full legion, to the cause. Warbands and smaller raiding parties could not overcome the individual strength of the Norn.

Although this mutual respect is not a real alliance, it has allowed the two races to live within a watchful peace... The Charr are allowed passage through Gunnar's Hold, and the lower canyons where the Norn had spread. The two races allowing one another passage and trade, while keeping their borders secure.

In Guild Wars 2 though, all is not peaceful for the Norn (which probably suits them just fine). After the demise of the Dwarves at the hands of the Great Destroyer, the Dredge seized the opportunity to claim Dwarven lands for themselves, resulting in the Norn and the Dredge fighting for control of these lands in a continual war that rages along the highest mountains.
Sons of Svanir As well as this, a group of corrupted Norn have abandoned the Spirits of the Wild and now worship the Ice Dragon Jormag as the ultimate Totem spirit. Known as the "Sons of Svanir", they believe Jormag is the ultimate predator, the strongest force, and thus he should be worshipped instead.

These norn recall the legend of Svanir, the corrupted Nornbear, and the "gift" he received from the dragon. They name themselves in his honor, and they seek to gain the abilities that he once had. The enhancements they receive make them more aggressive and more dangerous, but being a member of the Sons of Svanir doesn't automatically mean that someone is evil. Most norn are tolerant of other viewpoints, so a Son of Svanir is accepted until he proves to be a threat.

Only time will tell what brutal and bloody destiny awaits these traitors.
After their move south, the Norn have had to learn about and deal with the other races much more closely. Learning about their potential allies became a necessity as new threats appeared. As independent and self-reliant as the Norn are, they understand the benefit of working together to defeat those threats. They recognise the power an Asura can bring to a fight, proving that size isn't the only determining factor in one's strength. The Sylvari are still a bit of a mystery to the Norn who view them as being clever and curious, but often they just don't make sense.

As for the Humans... The Norn tolerate their human friends, weak and soft as they may be, although the Norn often felt betrayed by their unpredictable human allies. Recently, that sense of betrayal has increased, as the Norn do not trust the Krytan Queen, believing her to be too dependant on her advisors, too unwilling to act on her own as a hero must. Although relations have cooled, the Norn hold out hope that the Krytan queen will prove herself by dominating her race, or that someone else will rise from among the humans to show them what it means to be strong.

In their battle with Jormag the Norn learned the hard way that some foes are too strong to fight alone. The Norn are proud, but they're not stupid. They don't follow leaders, but they will follow heroes. For now they wait until the hero who will shatter the tooth of Jormag arises and shows the Norn the way back to their northern homes.

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