By David Wilson February 22nd, 2011 My name is David Wilson. I’m an editor and writer on the Guild Wars 2 design team. We’re putting a lot of effort into bringing Tyria to life, making it feel like someplace people actually live. With each race taking a prominent role in Tyria now, making sure that they feel true to their roots while still feeling alive and unique has taken a lot of care and consideration. Of all the races, it may seem easiest to keep the norn intact, but like the others, their culture has grown and advanced over time. It’s been two hundred fifty years since the days of Guild Wars: Eye of the North, and while the norn may not have been been hit as hard as humanity, they’ve still had their fair share of problems. Jormag, the Elder Ice Dragon, drove the norn from their lands in the Far Shiverpeaks one hundred sixty years ago. Their greatest heroes attempted to slay Jormag, but none were its match. The norn would have continued their battle against Jormag until none were left if the Spirits of the Wild hadn’t guided them south, down into the Northern Shiverpeaks. It was there that the hero Asgeir built the great hunting lodge Hoelbrak, placing Jormag’s tooth in the center. Hoelbrak became both a respite from and a reminder of the foe they faced. A Place to Call Home Hoelbrak is the great hunting lodge in the center of a sprawling encampment that grew around it over the years. Throughout the settlement, people can be heard going about their daily lives. Now under the care of Knut Whitebear, Asgeir’s grandson, Hoelbrak is the safest place around for people to prepare for a hunt, meet up with friends, or just share a drink at an ongoing moot. It’s become a hub of activity for the norn and anyone looking to interact with them. When Others Come Calling After their move south, the norn have had to learn about and deal with the other races much more closely. They respect charr for their strength and military prowess. They tolerate humans, weak and soft as they may be. The power an asura can bring to a fight proves that size isn’t the only determining factor in one’s strength. And sylvari are still a bit of a mystery; they’re clever and curious, but sometimes they just don’t make sense. Learning about their potential allies became a necessity as new threats appeared. As independent and self-reliant as the norn are, even they usually understand the benefit of working together. Strength above All Why are the norn working with others? Because they’ve learned the hard way that some foes are too strong to fight alone, and sometimes there’s no time to become stronger before a battle. The norn are proud, but they’re not stupid. They don’t follow leaders, but they will follow heroes, and even a hero needs help sometimes. Asgeir, one of the greatest norn heroes in history, knocked out one of Jormag’s teeth, but even he wasn’t strong enough to defeat the dragon. So norn 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. Power for a Price Strength for strength’s sake can come at a high cost, though. There are some norn who have turned to Jormag for power, abandoning the Spirits of the Wild. 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 call themselves the Sons of Svanir 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. Wild and Natural The path to true power is one of independence, not barter as the Sons of Svanir seem to believe. 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. No one can become stronger by relying on others; it’s adversity and besting challenges that hones the hunter. What Legends Are Made Of Strength alone isn’t enough, though. The strongest person, no matter their race, will be forgotten in time if they don’t do great things. A lasting legend requires exalted deeds, tremendous fortitude, and unmitigated heroism. But even that isn’t enough if nobody hears about it. Norn tend to be very vocal about their deeds, giving importance and gravity to even the most routine acts. Few people can know for sure what they’ll be remembered for once they’re gone, but the important thing is that they’re remembered. So long as someone keeps telling the legend, they’re immortal. The Importance of Legacy The norn may seem obsessed with their strength and status in the present, but it really boils down to caring about the legacy they leave behind—remembering those who came before you and trying to live up to them, self-improvement and self-worth, surpassing what is remembered to become remembered. They 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. Likewise, we’ve taken the legacy of the norn from Guild Wars and tried to stay true to the elements that made them memorable. As we forge new legends, we hope to leave as grand a legacy with Guild Wars 2 as we did with Guild Wars. And I personally look forward to seeing how your legends play out. Maybe I’ll see you at a moot sometime. Sound clips for this article can be found at the official ArenaNet blog.