Possible stance names: Slayer Stance, Render Stance
In the previous article in this series, we discussed a set of criteria for what I think makes a figure suitable from a lore perspective to be a candidate to provide the legend behind a future revenant elite specialisation. Now, we’ll look at the first of these candidates – the most legendary amateur dentist in Tyria’s history, Asgeir Dragonrender.
While possibly somewhat tarnished by recent revelations that Asgeir was talked into giving up the fight by Jormag when he might have had the opportunity to finish the Elder Dragon off, few norn can match the legend and impact of Asgeir Dragonrender. After slaying the champion Frostfang and fighting Jormag to the point of negotiation, Asgeir led the survivors of the norn south out of the newly claimed territory of the Ice Dragon and founded a new home for the norn in Hoelbrak. There, he strung up the tooth of Jormag he had claimed as a trophy – a trophy that would hang as a symbol of Jormag’s invulnerability, discouraging future norn from attempting to slay the Dragon of Persuasion, until Braham struck it with an arrow from the fire-infused bow of his mother.
While it’s likely that Asgeir was a regular warrior for much of his life, there are two aspects that can make a legend based on the Dragonrender stand out from the warrior’s skillset.
The first is that the connection with the Spirit of the Wilds is a big part of Asgeir’s story. At present, the demonstration of the Spirits’ power likely most familiar to players are the essence manipulation beams from the Icebrood Saga masteries. These probably wouldn’t be suitable to build a legendary stance around, however, with the possible exception of a high-power elite-level attack channeling all of the spirits, similar to the holosmith’s Prime Light Beam. Nevertheless, there is another source of skills that ArenaNet could draw on: the skills that were used for the norn animal form skills. Nowadays, these skills go largely ignored due to racial skills being pretty weak in the current balance environment, and are completely unavailable to norn revenants due to being locked out of racial skills altogether. Incorporating them into a revenant legend could give these skills a new lease on life as well as giving norn revenants the opportunity to call upon the Spirits of the Wild once again.
While the attacks of these forms would likely be redundant, some of the more interesting effects could be employed to provide skills for a Legendary Stance. Examples from each animal form include:
Bear: A knockback skill, a roar that provides Might to allies, and a charge skill that launches foes.
Wolf: A blood frenzy that steals life from enemies struck, a snarl attack that inflicts fear, a howl that applies fury and regeneration to allies, and a leap attack that knocks down enemies.
Raven: A gust of wind that knocks back foes, a swoop attack with an evade, and a shriek that dazes nearby foes.
Snow Leopard: A pounce attack that cripples foes, a growl that weakens foes, a charge attack with a knockback, and a stealth ability.
Now, there’s a lot of redundancy in these – for instance, they all have some sort of gap closer ability and at least one hard CC. However, a hypothetical legend could draw one skill from each: as one example, Bear could provide a living-wrecking-ball like charge; Raven could provide wind gusts for longer-range CC; Wolf’s blood frenzy could be turned into a sustained lifesteal ability (if that doesn’t overlap too much with Shiro and Devastation), or Wolf could provide a howl that buffs allies; while Snow Leopard could provide a stealth ability as the elite. Meanwhile, drawing on Owl could provide a source for a personal healing skill – while Owl does not provide a ‘Become the Owl’ transformation to draw inspiration from, she seems to be the Spirit of the Wild most associated with healing, as shown by one of the tasks for the Owl’s Abattoir renown heart being the healing of injured animals.
If ArenaNet was feeling particularly ambitious, they could even have transform abilities in the legend’s repertoire. While it would probably be unwieldy to have a transformation that changes skills on a profession already based around swapping between two sets of utility skills in combat, assuming the form of a particular animal (perhaps through function skills) could grant bonuses to associated attributes and modify the effect of skills related to that spirit, naturally coming at the price of an energy upkeep.
This link with the spirits could also provide a structure for the major traits for the specialisation – with Snow Leopard having only become a major spirit after the exodus from the north, Asgeir could have three lines of traits focusing on the teachings of Bear, Wolf, and Raven. A Bear-focused traitline, for instance, would be focused on personal strength, boosting damage and durability. Wolf could provide traits suitable for party support, representing Wolf’s promotion of community, while trickery-focused Raven could have traits that support disrupting an enemy through CC, debilitating conditions, and possibly even boon removal. Alternatively, one of the latter two spirits could provide a condition-oriented alternative, especially if the weapon (which we will get to soon) is more of a hybrid weapon suitable for either power or condition damage rather than pure power.
This brings us to the second factor that could distinguish Asgeir’s skillset as a legend to that of a regular (if highly skilled) warrior: Asgeir’s weapon. According to Braham in the Frozen Out instance, the jotun scroll he used to enchant Eir’s bow with fire magic was similar to one used by Asgeir before he went up against Jormag. The weapon of an elite spec based on Asgeir therefore, could be an echo of the weapon he used in that battle, and have skills that reflect that.
So, which weapon would that be? The Statue of Asgeir shows him wielding a sword and shield, but these are weapons already available to the revenant. In addition, the weapons depicted in the statue are not necessarily those he took to his battle with Jormag. In the interests of representing Asgeir’s weapon with a full set of weapon skills, in this case I’d recommend the sword’s bigger brother.
From this starting point, we have a ton of sources for inspiration for what sort of fire-themed greatsword skills that an Asgeir revenant might have. There’s the elementalist’s Fiery Greatsword, the skills gained through the Avatar of Balthazar transformation in the Ghost Rite instance (a personal favourite of mine), the skills granted by Sohothin at the end of Path of Fire, and even Ryland’s flamesaw in Darkrime Delves. While obviously any set of permanent weapon skills would need to be toned down compared to these, they do give some solid ideas for what sort of weapon skills Asgeir’s weapon might have – a melee autoattack chain, fiery charge and/or spin attacks, throwing flames from the blade to strike enemies at a distance, and maybe even invoking the fire magic within to generate damaging fire fields. Think of any of the above instance-specific weapons, adjust the numbers and effects so that they are suitably balanced for competitive modes and regular PvE, and you’d have a pretty good prototype for what Asgeir’s weapon skills might look like. As is typically the case with fire-oriented skills, this would likely make this weapon a good candidate to be a hybrid weapon, providing decent power coefficients while also being a source of the burning condition. As a predominantly melee weapon which also has the potential to generate fire fields, such a weapon would likely combine nicely with gap-closing skills provided by the Spirits of the Wild, or knockdowns that keep enemies within a dangerous region long enough to take full damage from the effect.
Visually, I could see the base greatsword being of norn design, possibly resembling a greatsword from one of the Norn cultural sets or perhaps the Etched Avenger – albeit of higher quality and of a more archaic design, befitting a hero of the past. In this initial form, it would represent Asgeir’s weapon before he used a jotun scroll to enchant it, so it would only generate flames as part of the weapon’s skill animations when used by the revenant. The Ascended form of the weapon, however, would represent the weapon after its enchantment and be permanently enflamed – at least when being wielded.
This just leaves the armour piece. Asgeir’s helm has already been added to the game, and the rest of his equipment according to the vision seen through Raven’s Lens appears to be Stag Armour, the heavy tier 3 norn cultural armour. It probably isn’t appropriate to simply copy over a piece of cultural armour, but perhaps ArenaNet could go to the same source of inspiration as the Helm of the Dragonrender, and produce another piece of armour based on norn armour designs from the original Guild Wars: Eye of the North.
So there’s a starting prospect for a revenant legend in a future elite specialisation: Asgeir Dragonrender, invoking the power of the Spirits of the Wild to empower himself as he lays waste to his enemies with a fire-infused greatsword.
Stay tuned in the following weeks where we’ll look at a potential legend from the norn who’s seen as a little more… controversial.