The Bear Necessities: A Peek at the Lowland Kodan and the Story of Janthir Wilds

by The Guild Wars 2 Team on July 10, 2024

Hey there! This is Indigo, the Guild Wars 2®: Janthir Wilds™ Narrative Lead, and Chloë, the expansion’s Story Design Lead. We’d love to walk you through a high-level look at the Guild Wars 2: Janthir Wilds story to help set the stage for launch next month.

The story of Guild Wars 2: Janthir Wilds is a treasure trove of intrigue and lore, both past and present, and we’ll be encountering a variety of allies and enemies as we venture into the long-awaited region of Janthir. We’ll be picking right up where Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure™ left off.

Let’s dive in!

Please note: Light spoilers ahead! We’ll be teasing a little bit about the region and current affairs surrounding the start of the expansion, so if you’d rather go in totally unspoiled, you’d best skip this one!

A lush, green wilderness with two deer drinking from a stream.

Bridging Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure

To get things going, let’s look back at last year. Following the end of the dragon cycle, Tyria had no idea what the ramifications would be. As we learned in Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure, Soo-Won’s death caused a powerful blast of magical instability that fractured all sorts of magical forces and barriers within Tyria. Aurene immediately went to work reestablishing herself as a filter for those magics, and stability was quickly restored, but we’ve only just begun to understand the consequences of that transfer of power.

Right at the onset of Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure, the commander was thrown into uncharted territory. We learned that the World Spire, a powerful conduit forged by the wizard Isgarren, was fractured following that blast. The spire was one of the few barriers sitting between us and potential calamity, and it only took a moment for the denizens of a parallel realm to worm their way in. And thus, the commander was introduced to the long-fought war between the Astral Ward and the Kryptis.

A foggy marsh with a large skeleton of a monster laying on the rocks.

Through the story of Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure, the commander aids the Astral Ward in rescuing the Wizard’s Court while toppling the malevolent Kyptis king, Eparch. While the fight against the Kryptis was won, there are a lot of stories left to be told about our wizardly new “friends.” The Astral Ward has proven to be a worthy ally with a benign cause, but we’ve barely touched the surface of some of their more questionable choices—not to mention their cantankerous leader, Isgarren. We know they helped in some ways, but why didn’t they get involved sooner? Where do we even start with the fractal fiasco?

Time to pull us back to the present. While the commander—now the wayfinder—was fighting back against Eparch in Nayos, the threat of the Kryptis didn’t go unnoticed by the rest of Tyria. In fact, that threat was very much noticed, and nations started talking. At the start of Guild Wars 2: Janthir Wilds, the commander will receive an invitation to the inaugural meeting of the Tyrian Alliance—and oh boy, do they have a lot of thoughts about our latest demonic invaders. After everything the world has endured, Tyria’s patience with destruction is limited.

While we want to keep some of the minutia surrounding the Tyrian Alliance under our hats for now (including our lavish host of guest appearances), in addition to providing the player with a new directive, the alliance also gives us the ability to demonstrate Tyria’s growth outside of the main story path. What’s happening in the rest of the world? How are things progressing when we’re in the thick of adventure?

Queen Jennah and Countess Anise standing in front of a podium.

The Greater Janthir Region

One of the results of this first Tyrian Alliance meeting will send the commander and a very small team of allies into the dangerous wilds of the Janthir region—starting due north of Divinity’s Reach, over the Krytan border. The initial focus of our mission is to establish a diplomatic connection with a small faction of kodan. The lowlanders, while hesitant, welcome us into their village—we spend some time getting to know their culture as we explore the Lowland Shore (which we’ll dig into a bit more in a moment!).

Partway through the story, we’ll be pulled even further into Janthir. That’s when we’ll make our way into the isles themselves. The bay is rich with history—bloody, brutal, sullen history. And we’ve never strayed too close until now! We know that Saul and his fledgling White Mantle went to the isles in search of something, leaving with an Eye of Janthir. We also know that other conspicuous figures have ventured into the region, too. On the first island we reach, Janthir Syntri, we’ll begin to unravel the tragic history behind the ruined village of Gavril.

But that’s a good spot to pause because, most importantly: bears.

A brown fur lowland kodan stands in a circular arena.

The Lowland Kodan

One of the most exciting things to dig into has been our new faction of lowland kodan, who have called Janthir home for many generations. Despite the region being viciously dangerous and inhospitable, they are expert survivalists and have carved out a comfortable—even cozy—way of life in these lands. All lowlanders are capable fighters and learn survival tactics from the time they are cubs. The wayfinder will spend much of their time in Janthir learning about—and learning from—the lowlanders, as they have much to teach.

As a population isolated from their northern kodan cousins for so long and living in a much different environment, they’re a little different than the kodan we are familiar with. Perhaps the most notable difference lies in their spiritual belief system. Unlike other kodan, who revere the will and balance of Koda, the lowland kodan hold in reverence the environment, the relationship they maintain with it, and the responsibility they have as stewards of the land. Rather than viewing themselves as enlightened protectors chosen by Koda, lowlanders act out of a duty to maintain necessary balance in a harsh place where taking is easier than giving and survival can be difficult.

These differences trickle down through other aspects of their society. Kodan leadership is typically a partnership between a spiritual mouthpiece of Koda, called a Voice, and a physical protector, called a Claw. However, the lowland kodan have a Claw as their sole leader, a feature of their society that goes back as far as anyone can remember. The Claw is not without balance, though: a council that represents key roles in the village lends the Claw perspective and advice.

As the wayfinder spends more time with the lowland kodan and begins to earn their trust, we’ll gain more glimpses into their lives and their history as denizens of Janthir.

A campfire with two kodan sitting around it with their warclaw pet.

Heading North to Janthir

The inhabitants of Tyria are on the cusp of a new era. It’s time for nations to ally and work together on a more global scale. Those seeds of alliance were planted under the threat of the Elder Dragons, but the need did not end with the Elder Dragons. As new threats rise, it’s good to have friends on your side. What better place to start than with people living next door? The lowland kodan might prove to be valuable allies…if we can earn their trust and convince them it’s worthwhile to join the global conversation.

We’re so excited to be able to give some first looks into the narrative of Guild Wars 2: Janthir Wilds! There is so much fun existing lore and history to dig into and build upon with new stories and characters. We can’t wait for you to experience it all!

A yellow landscape with acid pools and poisonous steam clouds.

Prepurchasing any edition of Guild Wars 2: Janthir Wilds before the expansion launches will grant you the “Homesteader” title, the Whispering Serpents Pauldrons skin, and a box with your choice of one Serpent’s Wrath weapon skin.

Visit the official store page for full details on the items included in the Standard, Deluxe, and Ultimate editions.