The God of War characters have been the inspirations of many a cosplayer due to their appearance. While it’s ridiculously hard to pull off a successful cosplay due to their physiques, that hasn’t stopped fans from drawing paint on themselves and acting like a badass Norse god.
For those who love lore, though, the Kratos, Atreus, and Baldur tattoos have their own stories to tell.
While some may write off their tattoos as simple design choices
In Norse mythology, tattoos are very important and meaningful. Well, they’re important and meaningful enough for even a character as young as Atreus, who was 11 years old in God of War, to have them.
Although Atreus doesn’t have as many tattoos as Kratos and Baldur, they all have some sort of meaning. You’ll find that their tattoos are runes and they have different meanings depending on the character.
In the article below, we’ll explore the meaning of these runes and how they connect to the characters and their stories. However, keep in mind that there may be some spoilers due to certain story elements that come into play. Read at your own risk! If you’re certain you want to, then keep reading to find out more fun facts about the three fan-favorite God of War characters and their tattoos!
Baldur Tattoos Interpretation
Taking a good look at Baldur, you’ll notice he has quite a few tattoos covering his body. The tattoos are icy blue and you can find them on his limbs, torso, and his eyes. He also sports a red tattoo on his back.
The true meaning of Baldur’s tattoos is unknown as the developers and creators have never commented on this aspect of his character. However, that hasn’t stopped fans from making their interpretations of the Baldur tattoos. Reddit user herpaderpmurkamurk seems to have a particularly good understanding of the Runic alphabet and corresponding language. You can read their interpretation below.
The most noticeable part and the one that is easiest to interpret are the runes on his body, covering the lower left half of his torso, his chest, and his back, as well as scattered across his arms. Considering these runes have real meaning and we can translate them, we’ll tell you the literal translation.
The red rune on Baldur’s back reads cursed, which may allude to the prophecy on the day of his birth. The prophecy states that Baldur will someday die a pointless death. This prophecy comes true in God of War (2018) when Kratos snaps Baldur’s neck after he refused to forgive his mother, Freya. It’s a brutal and sad story, but was Baldur’s death really that pointless?
The tattoo on Baldur’s chest translates to “I am death” and the one on his lower abdomen translates to “The Norms weave out this bound”. The tattoos on his arms mean “never forgive”, alluding to the fact Baldur couldn’t forgive his mother.
More importantly, it’s worth noting that some runes were used incorrectly or have weird meanings. This can subject Baldur’s tattoos to interpretation, so you can take these interpretations with a pinch of salt.
Atreus Neck and Arm Marks Meaning
As we said, Atreus has significantly smaller tattoos compared to Baldur and Kratos. However, his tattoos are the ones that may have the clearest meaning.
Atreus sports a few tattoos on his neck and arm. Like Baldur’s, they are subject to mistakes due to the developers’ improper use of the runic alphabet or fan interpretation.
He has one arm tattoo circling around his arm that reads “lucky shot” or “fortune to strike” from the Norse happ-skejtr. Interrupting the circle is another tattoo reading stjrkr-armr, which means strong arm, skilled arm, or main arm. The meaning is self-explanatory. The tattoo on the back of Atreus’s hand reads “hrađa hönd” which means quick hand.
Finally, the tattoo on Atreus’s neck reads “logn hugr” which means “steady mind”.
You’ll notice the positioning of Atreus’s tattoos is accurate according to the tattoo’s meaning. The tattoo meaning hand is placed on the back of his hand, the ones referring to the arms are on his arms, and the one referring to his mind is on his neck.
All of these tattoos seemingly allude to Atreus’s magical abilities. The fact that his tattoos glow yellow when he casts magic enchantments further proves this point.
Overall, the purpose of these tattoos is to bring Atreus luck on his journey to becoming a warrior. How Atreus got these tattoos is unknown.
How did Kratos get his red marks (for all those who haven’t played the GOW trilogy)
Finally, we get to the main character (kind of?) of the God of War games, Kratos. If you somehow don’t know what Kratos looks like, we’ll explain.
Other than his armor, Kratos has a red tattoo encompassing a great amount of his body, including his upper body and his face. The tattoo has changed slightly in its placement over the years, from God of War to God of War III.
In the earliest versions, the tattoo was much thicker and much closer to his sternum as well as going past his left nipple. The second game places the tattoo much closer to his nipple, while in the third game it doesn’t cover his nipple at all. His tattoo has also gotten thinner coming up to the last game.
Kratos’s tattoo is the one that holds the simplest meaning of all three. It ties in directly with the story of his brother, Deimos, who was taken away to Thanatos, the god of death, by Ares and Athena. In honor of his brother, Kratos had his exact birthmarks tattooed on his body and vowed to never falter again.
If you’re also wondering about the white markings on Kratos’s body, they are the ashes of his wife and child whom he was tricked into killing by the god Ares. They remain fused to his skin forever.