Chris Metzen on Diablo’s Lore and Plot

This nicely-produced, four-minute feature taken from the Blizzcon 2011 Virtual Ticket shows DiabloWikiChris Metzen (and lots of artwork and video clips) as he talks about the lore and history of the Diablo series, and gives some insight into the plot of Diablo III. There’s nothing “new” but it’s a good summation of past events as they lead into the story of the game.

A quick summary of his address:

DiabloWikiDeckard Cain is a key figure in the series and his journals collect his research and knowledge about the Prime and Lesser Evils. There are some powers of the DiabloWikiHigh Heavens " target="_new">Burning Hells that we haven’t seen yet, and Cain believes they’ll soon arise, leading their forces towards the final conflagration between the DiabloWikiHigh Heavens and Hell, which will take place on the mortal plane.

The game begins with the falling star (meteor) crashing into the DiabloWikiTristram Cathedral. Cain believes that this is the first sign of the apocalypse, though there’s far from universal agreement on that point. DiabloWikiLeah, for instance, doesn’t really believe the legends. She’s Cain’s adopted niece and a key character in the story. Metzen says that they’ve really tried to make Leah likable. (So we’ll be distraught when bad things happen to her…?) She’s meant to represent hope and the best qualities of humanity.

Metzen stresses that the first Diablo games were very dark, and that they needed to be. Metzen says he’s long felt that the story of the Diablo series is potentially the most interesting of any of Blizzard’s franchises. He was very motivated to be sure that this long-delayed sequel rose to the challenge and gave the most detailed and sharpest look at the series yet. And he’s confident that it does so.

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21 thoughts on “Chris Metzen on Diablo’s Lore and Plot

  1. I believe its a nice tip when he says “A star comes down from the Heavens…”
    Maybe it wasn’t enough obvious for me, but that kind of confirm a lot of speculations. Some popular beliefs were that this star could be Diablo, but it now comes from the Heavens!
    There were also speculations only about conflit of Hell vs Heavens IN sanctuary and he kinds of put it clear that we will see that happen. Some angels want to conquer sanctuary too, so I guess we will see both of the sides trying to catch the black soulstone or something like that. And Tyrael shall save the sanctuary!

    • Pro tip:  “the heavens” in the plural is usually referring to the sky or outter space instead of the place known as ‘Heaven’… so yeah… doesn’t mean it’s anything more than meteor…

  2. I still think the star is Tyrael and that the heavens cast him out for acting without their consent.
    (Hence Blizzard always saying it fell from the heavens as opposed to the sky or something)

    What this truly did to him is unknown…

    This is definitely a sign of the apocalypse as Deckard thinks because without Tyrael protecting mankind Diablo has more of a free reign.

  3. The page on the Blizzard website detailing the Collector’s Edition refers to a ‘long-forgotten evil’ being awakened by the meteor. The Prime Evils aren’t long-forgotten – they stopped by twenty years ago, and people are still freaking out about it. And Metzen says there are some evils and some agents of Heaven that we haven’t seen yet. So what’s being awakened by the meteor? Azmodan? Belial? Maybe – but the meteor fell in Sanctuary, and they would’ve been in Hell. The Black Soulstone Cinematic shows Azmodan’s troops entering Sanctuary through the Arreat Crater, so the meteor impact site may or may not be a doorway to Hell – maybe it’s just the resting place of a really long-forgotten evil – Lillith. She was one of the progenitors of the Nephalem. She’s been banished from Sanctuary twice – once for trying to rally the Nephalem against the forces of Heaven and Hell, and again for trying to bring out their true power by degrading the Worldstone. Now the worldstone is gone, and what she wants more than anything is to use the Nephalem to end the Eternal Conflict. She returned to Sanctuary at least once, and twice if the Pandemonium story is taken as canon, so she could do it again. If Cain is correct in predicting that the meteor is the beginning of the end, is there any chance at all that she won’t show up?

    • You’re working way too hard.

      “Long forgotten” by the people of Tristram, who have settled around the site of old Tristram and forgotten the demons, etc. General theme of D3 is that only Cain remembers/worries about the demonic state of affairs.

  4. To quote the Shade from Warcraft 3: All shall be revealed 🙂

    And I think Mr. Metzen is the coolest guy on earth 🙂

    • He has his critics, but having him as a boss must be great. I can’t imagine the work environment at Blizzard ever being hostile, especially without deadlines.  😛

    • He definitely seems looser/more down to earth than some of the other Blizzard higher-ups and doesn’t take himself as seriously as you would think a vp would… It’s refreshing… Sometimes I kind of feel sorry for him because he gets all the lore stuff jumbled around in his brain sometimes (which is why they’ve hired a second historian) and people jump at the chance to make out Blizzard’s storylines to be crap…

  5. I think Chris Metzen is the sort of person that thinks of an idea that’s cool(to him) & will incorporate it into already established lore even if it doesn’t fit.  He’s a retcon maniac & it makes him look bad.

    • A lot of video games have a tendency to retcon a ton. It’s the nature of video game storytelling.

  6. I’ve always wondered what Blizz mean when they call Leah Cain’s \adopted neice\. Was Adria Cain’s adopted sister or something?

    • Yeah it’s kinda weird… My guess is that he calls himself her uncle (even though he could be her grandfather really) because she knows vaguely who her parents were and he didn’t want to replace them… so yeah… adopted uncle instead of adopted father…

  7. So if Leah is Decard Cain’s niece then that would possibly mean that Deckard Cain is Diablo’s brother or maybe Tyrael’s brother ? And the plot thickens…

    • Um what? He’s not related to Aidan or anybody else I’m sure… He just calls himself her uncle like a lot of people call themselves uncle or aunt so and so to kids who they feel close to (usually because they are good friends with the parents) but aren’t really related to…

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