Magnus the Bloody Handed: A Norn in a Changed World

A slow grin began to appear on Magnus’s face, extending into his eyes. “The people of Lion’s Arch are my people. I have chosen my battles. ” Magnus shook his head and laughed ruefully. “The world is changing, Eir Stegalkin. You must change with it. Perhaps I should ask you to join me. Get some sun on that lily skin.

The pirate city of Lion’s Arch is a place of great contradictions; mortal enemies walk side-by-side in relative peace, it is built upon the combined ruins of the former great and righteous Krytan capitol city and the lowly and broken debris of wrecked pirate ships –it is a city of heroes and a city of villains. It follows that the big cheese of such a place would be rife with contradictions of his own; Magnus the Bloody Handed is such a norn.

Norn Pirate

Thought to be Magnus (although, Magnus has 2 eyes, so possibly not!)

Magnus is much like any norn male: towering, gruff, dread-locked, mustachioed and bearded. Unlike a typical pasty-faced norn, however, his skin has been tanned to a deep bronze due to his time under the Krytan sun. Magnus is described as being bedecked in a typical pirate garb: a pair of pistols holstered across his chest, silk band around his head, a bandoleer holding up a woollen kilt, leather boots and a walrus tusk necklace. I imagine he has a faint whiff of sea salt, fish guts and gunpowder.

There is little in the way of flowing water in norn lands – it is usually frozen into ice before they have a chance to sail on it. Magnus chooses a life on the Krytan Sea and, in seeming contradiction to his norn persuasions; he welcomes a life as part of a crew (albeit as the top-dog). The typical norn, whilst open to collaboration, seeks victory and glory upon their own steam and based upon their own merit. As a captain of a successful pirate crew, Magnus the Bloody Handed must have achieved his position through both individual cunning and efficient teamwork.

In Edge of Destiny he is described as “jovial and ferocious”, and you can certainly see the image of a great tanned norn swinging from the rigging of a ship, pelted with sea surf and bird poo – laughing his dreads off. I imagine him like the ghost of Christmas Present in “Muppet’s Christmas Carol”; scooping up the little guys for a big hug and booming with laughter. On the other hand, however, he is a leader of a band of crime-fighting privateers and the Marshall of a city built upon the idea that if you cause any trouble you will be thrown into a hole and forgotten about. So… yeah, don’t mess with the Mag’ – you don’t get the mantle “Bloody Handed” without cracking a few clavicles.

Was anyone else freaked out by the Ghost of Christmas past?

Now THAT'S a beard.

Unlike the other major characters (such as Logan and Queen Jennah), Magnus’ profession is not explicitly stated in the literature and there are only a few clues to go on. The biggest clue, however, appears to be the dual pistols slung around his chest – dual pistols being a feature of only two known professions: the thief and the engineer.

When you really think about it both are just as likely: thievery is the bread and butter of the pirate profession (piracy on the high seas being pretty much nautical larceny), however, there doesn’t appear to be any indication of Magnus’ ability to either shadowstep his burly arse around the ship or to turn himself invisible. Similarly, you can see the technical knowledge of an engineer being especially useful during the practical duties involved in running a sea faring vessel; and Magnus’ apparent lack of arcane ability would seem to point towards a more mundane calling. Unfortunately, at no point does he place down a turret to lay waste to Morgus Lethe, or whip out a flamethrower to burn the sails of the enemy ship.

Another clue might the his use of an axe during the final fight with Morgus Lethe; but again, this contradicts his use of pistols as there is no GW2 profession which employs both.

In all likelihood Magnus is a profession not available to players (yet!?), perhaps “privateer”, “buccaneer” or “pirate”; one which fights close range like a warrior, but employs pistols and rifles like an engineer or a thief. Or, it could just be artistic license; after all, Eir is a well documented ranger but she employs her mallets to great effect.

What are you doing up there, boat? Get down. You can't fly, you have no concept of aerodynamics

The boats above LA.

I can see Magnus being a pivotal character for players of every race. Lion’s Arch (much like in GW1) will be a meeting point for players from every corner of the game, and you can imagine that Magnus will expect a few favours from us as newly emerging and highly lauded heroes. Just as his personality is polarised (between jovial Destiny’s Edge benefactor and blood-thirsty buccaneer) I can imagine his quest chains tiptoeing the line between the darkness and the light. He’s a norn; but a defender of Kryta, a leader; but a fierce opponent, he’s a hero; but also a successful career pirate. These contradictions indicate to me that he won’t be averse to requesting that we sully our whiter-than-white image with a bit of piratical behaviour if it’s in the greater good of Lion’s Arch.

To the readers: Do you think Magnus is a thief, engineer, warrior or something else entirely? What do you think of him?
Check out our lore index for more profiles and story-centric articles.  

About the author:  Distilled (Will) has been playing Guild Wars for almost 6 years, he works as a clinical researcher in the UK but has aspirations of getting into social research. In his spare time he enjoys oiling well laid floors, practicing Buddhism and planking. He writes regularly on Guild Wars and gaming over at VeryDistilled. You can also follow him on Twitter at @Distilledwill!

Further reading:

  • I am just going to put him in the awesome category. So you think he will figure in prominently in our time in Lion’s Arch? I hope he becomes a sort of mentor for Engineers, since that is going to be my main profession.

    Excellent article!

    • Anonymous

      I really think he’ll be a big part of everyones stories, as he’s the head honcho of the main player hub.

      He is pretty awesome though.

  • ArcherAvatar

    Arenanet have been consistent in introducing *discrepencies* to the weapon usage of the big “named” NPCs that we’ve seen thus far on videos (or in the two books.)  Distilled noted the incongruity Magnus displays in using dual pistols AND an axe in the “Edge of Destiny” novel. 

    Another possible example is seen in the recently released video montage of the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon where Rytlock Brimstone is seen weilding his trademark flaming sword AND a pistol… while this combination is certainly possible for characters of the thief class, I for one, did NOT think of Rytlock as a thief.  (I’ve always viewed him as a warrior… perhaps I’m in error but, it is possible he is a warrior and ArenaNet have just made an exception for a “named” character as Distilled pointed out they did for both Magnus and Eir.)

    In answer to the posed question; my impression of Magnus placed him as a member of the thief class, although with exceptions to the rules as noted by Distilled.

    • Anonymous

      I’m with you on Rytlock – he’s always been a warrior to me.