Last week the guys at Lion’s Arch Radio threw down the gauntlet and challenged their listeners to come up with the worst race/profession combination and sell the idea as if it was actually the best. Obviously a word like ‘worst’ is a very subjective term, but the general idea was to turn your back on traditional min/maxing and come up with an odd combination and make it work.
I “won” with my entry for the Norn Thief. I qualify that statement because I didn’t really win anything but the goofball satisfaction of hearing my entry selected and read on the podcast, but it was enough to make me geek out a little.
Here was my entry:
While many would consider it odd for a race as large and full of bravado as the Norn to take up the mantle of stealth and subterfuge, you must remember that to a Norn, they are perfectly normal in size. It is the rest of the world that is cursed to live as lesser heroes trapped in inferior, weak bodies. Any door she cannot smash from the hinges has a lock that she can pick. No keep or tower can keep her out. While it is true that the majority of Norn follow the callings of Wolf and Bear and face the enemy head on, it was that very tactic that threatened the Norn with extinction against Jormag and his minions. Snow Leopard tells her chosen to become a swift and silent hunter, and to strike from the shadows when least expected. The Norn thief takes this message to heart, and she embodies all that Snow Leopard teaches. Her twin daggers are her fangs, and with them she leaps across the battle only to vanish again in an instant. She chooses her utility skills to emphasize speed and mobility. And when the battle is most dire, she uses her Norn racial to become an avatar of Snow Leopard, unleashing her full fury upon her enemies before melting away unseen into the bloody snow.
It won’t win any awards for creative writing, but I don’t think it was too terrible for a quick email.
Of course, none of this rings any bells unless you know what a Norn is.
According to the Norn page on the Guild Wars 2 Wiki:
The norn are a race of nine-foot tall Nordic-like warriors that currently inhabit parts of Kryta and the abandoned dwarven fortresses in the Shiverpeak Mountains. The individualistic norn live for the hunt, so their tracking, stealth and killing skills make them invaluable allies in any combat situation. The largest gathering of norn one can expect to find outside trading posts is in hunting parties that have united to combat a powerful foe.
Oh, did I forget to mention they are natural shapeshifters and can turn into werewolves, werebears, wereleopards and the very, very disturbing wereraven? The thief I mentioned in my submission will use her racial elite skill to shift into her leopard form which has a stealth ability built into it.
That is one of the many things I am coming to love about Guild Wars 2. You can take almost any concept and not only make it work, but make it excel. I love that freedom, and the old concept of restricting races to certain classes seems tired and boring in comparison.
Of course none of this means much beyond aesthetics unless you have game mechanics to support these kinds of choices. Luckily, Guild Wars 2 meets and exceeds expectations there as well.
For example, here is my skill/weapon build for my Norn Thief.
- Twin daggers let me get up close and personal. It also has amazing abilities that let you leap to your foe, cripple them from range, and evade into stealth. Sounds perfect!
- The Shortbow is my alternate weapon. It has many cool abilities, but the highlight is Infiltrator’s Arrow which allows you to teleport to your target as an arrow of shadow.
- My heal ability, Hide in Shadows, does just what it says. Stealth and healing rolled in one.
- Utility skills are all based on evasion, removing conditions, or gap closing. My favorite is Shadow Trap which allows you to instantly appear at the trap location when it is triggered.
- Traits are all focused on Stealth and gaining bonuses when using Stealth abilities.
- Elite skill left vacant for the Norn Snow Leopard form.
I have no idea how competitive or effective this build would be in PvP or PvE, but it looks like a blast to play, and it perfectly fits the style I had in mind when I thought of this race/profession combination.
Perhaps most impressive of all is the fact that you can easily build out a different thief just as easily in dozens of different ways. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t seem to be a game where there are only one or two optimal builds for each class that everyone copies. It allows a lot more freedom because so much of your success or failure depends on your skill, the situation you’re in, your group and your play style. The challenge, and the fun, comes in picking the best combination of race, profession, talents, skills and weapons for how you want to play the game.
This game can’t release soon enough.
Thanks again to the guys at Lion’s Arch Radio for the fun challenge!
If you want to hear the episode my submission was included in, you can find them on iTunes or listen to it here: Lion’s Arch Radio – Episode 10: Double Digits
You can also find them at:
or on The Book of Faces at http://www.facebook.com/LionsArchRadio