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- "Oh-oh, excuse me if I'm interrupting tea time! I'll just step out until you've finished, if that's more convenient!"
- ―Arne Magnusson[src]
Dr. Arne Magnusson is the leader of White Forest. He is a grey-haired, stocky, Caucasian man who looks to be in his early sixties. He is a former member of the Black Mesa Science Team, one of the few survivors of the Black Mesa Incident, and an important orchestrator of the Resistance.
Before the Black Mesa Incident, Magnusson worked at Black Mesa as a scientist. As said by Eli Vance in White Forest, Arne used to compete for grant money with Isaac Kleiner (Eli: "The way he and Magnusson have been going at it, you'd think they were still competing for grant money!", to which Alyx answers "Some things never change..."), and took grievance with Gordon Freeman when the latter destroyed his microwave casserole back at Black Mesa (see below). It is never directly explained how Dr. Magnusson managed to survive the Black Mesa Incident.
After the Combine invasion he came to head a major Resistance base, White Forest, and used his scientific expertise to make technological advances to aid the Resistance. Most notable amongst these are the rocket he constructed to tap into the old Black Mesa/Xen satellite array, as well as the Magnusson Device, a deadly anti-Strider weapon. He was aided in these endeavors by Uriah, a Vortigaunt. Dr. Magnusson is held in the same high regard by the Vortigaunts as is Dr. Eli Vance, both as an accomplished scientist and leader of the Resistance.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
In Episode Two, he is first seen through transmissions between Alyx and Gordon and White Forest during the ride through the Outlands, showing his eagerness to receive Mossman's transmission. After they arrive at White Forest, he is first heard when a false alarm is triggered in the secondary silo. He is first met in the rocket chamber, where he is working and arguing with Kleiner. Before Alyx, Eli and Kleiner go back upstairs to have a look at the data packet, another alarm is triggered in the secondary silo. Magnusson then sends Gordon to the area to investigate. Gordon then seals the silo after an actual Combine breach occurs. Back in the upper levels of the base, Magnusson introduces him to his Magnusson Device and how to use it against Striders (see below for the "casserole debacle" reference). After the assault, he thanks Gordon for the success of the mission and goes oversee the rocket launch in an office. He is last seen on a screen during the rocket launch, and shows himself very enthused by the success of the launch.
Personality and skills
Arne Magnusson has a fussy, petulant nature. He makes constant complaints about the completion of his satellite rocket, an object that he dotes upon. Verbose, egotistical and authoritarian, Magnusson thinks highly both of himself and his inventions, to the point of naming them after himself. He finds shows of emotion distasteful, particularly when he feels it comes at the cost of industry. He despises Isaac Kleiner's pet Headcrab Lamarr just like Barney Calhoun does (Magnusson: "And get your cranio-conjugal parasite away from my nose cone!", to which Kleiner answers: "Now listen here, Magnusson, there's no call for hurtful comments!"). Magnusson is not, however, without a softer side; he grudgingly thanks Gordon Freeman for saving his rocket during the events of Episode Two, and his joy at the rocket's successful launch is palpable. His dedication to the Resistance comes above all else.
Behind the scenes
- Magnusson was created for several reasons:
- As said by Marc Laidlaw, in early drafts of the episode, Eli and Kleiner had warmed up White Forest all by themselves to have it as equipped as it is in the brief time after fleeing City 17. When the team realized it was "ridiculous", they developed a backstory in which Black Mesa had acquired an extremely cheap Cold War bunker and developed some projects in response to budgetary and oversight problems associated with basing all work in North America. Magnusson would have been working there for some time when Eli and Kleiner were to reach the base from City 17.
- As said by John Morello, the addition of a new character was also to counter the lack of interpersonal conflicts between the characters, Alyx, Eli and Kleiner having a lot of affection for one another. While at Valve they all value the benefit of strong positive relationships, they were "happy to have Dr. Magnusson around to get irritated by all the hugging."
- Magnusson's appearance was based on that of Paul Eenhoorn, a prominent actor from the Seattle-area filmmaking community.
- According to the developer's commentary, Magnusson is inspired by the scientist who appears in the "Anomalous Materials" chapter of the original Half-Life who says "Gordon doesn't need to hear all this, he's a highly-trained professional" in the test chamber airlock. It is unlikely these are canonically the same character, as this scientist is seen dead when Gordon wakes up after the resonance cascade in "Unforeseen Consequences."
- According to the Episode Two games files, Magnusson was to appear older and balder. The current model is more faithful to Eenhoorn's features.
- In the Victory Mine, the Vortigaunt says at some point "What next in the parade of constant obstacles?", a variant of one of Dr. Magnusson's sayings, "What next in the parade of constant interruptions?". According to Marc Laidlaw, the affinity between the Vortigaunts and Dr. Magnusson has caused some of his mannerisms to spread among them by way of their lowgrade telepathy.
- Just after Gordon has tested the Magnusson Device, Magnusson tells him that he might forgive his "microwave casserole" debacle at Black Mesa if he succeeds in protecting the rocket from the Striders (Magnusson: "Oh, and Freeman! If you pull this off, I might just forgive you for that debacle at Black Mesa. You know the one I mean... involving a certain microwave casserole."). This is a reference to the beginning of Half-Life, when the player can turn on a microwave and explode the meal inside. The scientist apparently waiting for his food to be ready yells at the player "My God! What are you doing?", although it is unknown if this particular scientist is actually a retconned Magnusson. According to John Guthrie, the team thought it was finally time to let the player know whose lunch had been ruined in Half-Life, and give them a chance at redemption. This however does not prove that the scientist sitting on the table near the microwave oven is actually a retconned Magnusson, a scientist sent from Magnusson's office to cook his meal for him, or simply an unrelated scientist.
- "Arne" is a Scandinavian first name. It was originally an Old Norse short form of names beginning with the element "arn", meaning "eagle". "Magnusson" is also a Scandinavian surname, literally meaning "son of Magnus", a Late Latin name meaning "great". It was borne by a 7th-century saint who was a missionary in Germany. It became popular in Scandinavia after the time of the 11th-century Norwegian king Magnus I, who was said to have been named after Charlemagne, or Carolus Magnus in Latin. The name was borne by six subsequent kings of Norway as well as three kings of Sweden. It was imported to Scotland and Ireland during the Middle Ages under the form MacManus. A "Magnuson Park" found in Seattle, where Valve is based, may be the inspiration for the name. Furtheremore, of note is that "Magnus" itself means "big" or "great" in Latin, making it the opposite of Isaac Kleiner's surname, "klein" meaning "small" in German. We may therefore surmise that Dr. Arne Magnusson is of Nordic descent. Even further, it might be assumed that he is of Swedish descent, due to his last name being spelled "Magnusson", as it is spelled in Swedish, and not Magnussen, as it would have been spelled in Danish and Norwegian. Interestingly, Paul Eenhoorn, the model for Dr. Magnusson, is of Dutch descent.
List of appearances
- Half-Life: Day One (First appearance) (Possible appearance) (Retcon)
- Half-Life (Possible appearance) (Retcon)
- Source Particle Benchmark (Game files only) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two (First identified as Arne Magnusson)