The Diablo III Lore panel starts at 10am, PDT, on the panels stage at Blizzcon. I will be live blogging it in this post, as I did with the panel yesterday evening. Refresh this post for updates over the hour, and expect a full write up shortly after the panel ends.
Click through to follow the action and watch the full video of the panel….
The whole panel is written up now, and I’m fixing up the transcript. Warning, there are A LOT OF SPOILERS in this one. Act bosses for Acts 2 and 3 are revealed, along with the main plot of those acts. Nothing about 4 was revealed, but they built up to where it begins and the surprises it will clearly hold, so if you’re trying to keep your mind virginal on big D3 events, you may want to skip this one.
Diablo III Lore Panel
He says in 15 years of Diablo and 7 years of BlizzCon they’ve never had just a straight Lore panel. Not even for WoW, apparently. They’ll talk about the history of the games, some of Diablo 3 specifics, and then open up for public questions.
We put together this thing called the Book of Cain. They needed to streamline all the stories, it was developed across numerous writers and different games and books, etc. As they got deep into Diablo 3 they had new ideas and new concepts and needed to get everything organized. Tighten up and trim old concepts. Wanted a tight, smartly built game continuity in D3. All that started coming together and they thought Book of Cain would be a cool product.
This happens to them in Starcraft and World of Warcraft all the time. As they have to do some Retcons and such. People get emotional or don’t like it. No real major world changes in Book of Cain. But Metzen wants to say up front that they’ve been making some changes and they hope it’s not too upsetting.
They want to début the internal conflict. Ideas they’ve been building into Diablo III but aren’t really visible yet. So they’re going to talk about the Angels in the world. Not just Demons. The only one we see is Tyrael.
The idea is the Diablo universe is an eternal conflict between High Heavens and Burning Hells. What are they actually fighting about? Why? What are they doing? They came up with a mythic cycle of the creation of the universe. (See the sample pages 1 and 2 from the Book of Cain.) The Eye of Anu, which became the Worldstone. The 7 evils came from the heads of a dragon. The Worldstone can create worlds without end. Ultimately the High Heavens and Burning Hells are evidence of the first creation of the universe. As they become aware of each other, they start fighting over the Worldstone, since whoever creates it can shape reality to their whim. So the forces are fighting each other around the Worldstone, in the center of the universe. They call that area the Pandemonium. Angels controlled it in Diablo 2, where we saw it.
Different sides held the area over different times, as the Angels and Demons power waxes and wanes. Kind of a Jerusalem thing, where the different forces build on it over time. It’s vastly larger than the little bit we saw in Diablo 2.
As you move over time, the character of Inarius began to dislike the eternal conflict. He conscripts like-minded angels and demons (Lilith) to steal the worldstone from the heart of creation. It’s still there to the others visibly, but it’s been moved and hidden in another dimension. Into Sanctuary. With that power of creation the angels and demons make a paradise for themselves. They began to breed, angels and demons, and gave birth to the Nephalem. Who are very strong and mighty, but their powers diminish over time. And they become humans. The angels and demons were frightened that the Nephalem have the potential to become stronger than their parents. See the Sin War Trilogy for this in much more detail.
So, Angels. The Angiris Council. What are the angels up to? They’ve gotten much less coverage in the games to this point. These guys are analogous to the seven prime evils. They have specific roles.
Tyrael, the Angel of Justice. He’s about order, justice, the system of how things work. Very rigid personality and morality. When Tyrael found out about the Nephalem and Sanctuary… Uldyssian was a powerful Nehphalem, nearly becomes all powerful. Sacrificed himself to fix problems in Sanctuary. Tyrael sees this, is impressed by the honor and heroism. This causes Tyrael to become less prickly and legalistic in his thinking, and he becomes a helper to mankind.
Auriel, Angel of Hope and female. The most upbeat of the Angiris Council. Serious, wise, hopeful. She’s the cleric type personality. Powerful item Cord of Hope, can bestow blessings. She’s the heart of the group and she holds them together. The Council doesn’t often get along, very strong personalities.
Malthael, Angel of Wisdom. Still being developed. He’s served as the conciliary to the Angiris Council. The voice of reason. Everyone listens when he talks. At the point when Anarius and his buddies hijack the Worldstone, this caused Malthael to flip out. As the heart of reality vanished to Sanctuary, Maltheal flipped out, and it causes him to become a darker figure. He’s more grim now, carries twin scythes for weapons.
Imperius, Angel of Valor. The biggest ass-kicker to Diablo history. Fun new character. He’s very commanding and a bad ass in combat. Lives to fight demons and has been fighting since the dawn of time, killed billions of demons. He’s a very loud voice on the council, almost a bully to get his way. The danger for Imperius is that valor can often turn to pride, and that leads Imperius and Tyrael to much interpersonal conflict. Their views on mankind’s right to exist differ.
Itherael, Angel of Fate. Can’t literally read the future, but sees the possibilities. Vast knowledge, doesn’t speak often, but very valuable guidance. Since the Worldstone was stolen and Sanctuary was created, he can not see mortals. In his foreseeing he can only see Angels and Demons. Mortals are the Gordian Knot that these angels can not understand or predict, and it vexed them greatly.
Sanctuary was a new place, formed by both angels and demons. There was a non-interference pact between the angels and demons. They wouldn’t mess with mankind.
The demons thought that mankind would drift over to darkness by themselves, with a few pushes here and there provided by the Prime Evils themselves. This didn’t sit well with Lesser Evils, especially Belial and Azmodan and they started a civl war in hell over it. Eventually the Prime Evils lost this war, and were exiled to Sanctuary in what is known as The Dark Exile and this in turn led to the Sin War and the events setting up Diablo 1 and Diablo 2. They were imprisoned by the Horadrim. They were then hunted down and destroyed by the players, along with Andariel and Duriel.
Belial is the Lord of Lies. Belial is about corruption from within. Manipulates. Plays on your fears and mistrusts. He uses these skills to take over Caldeum, the most important trade city in the world. He’s sent his cultists and snake demons out into the borderlands. This is driving refugees towards Caldeum, but the city is closed and there is starvation and disease. You must figure out how Belial is doing it. He doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, he uses his underlings for that purpose.
Magda, a witch who leads the coven filled with dark cultists. They are the antagonists you meet for the first good portion of Diablo 3 before you even meet Belial. Also on his payroll are snake demons and in keeping with Belial’s theme of deception they can disguise themselves as humans, so you never know when you’re dealing with them or when they’ll turn into monsters and attack you.
Azmodan is the Lord of Sin. Has as his lieutenants the 7 deadly sins. The first one will not be known until the game is released but the second is Cydaea, the Maiden of Lust. Who was called the Mistress of Pain at the point. She was cut from the game, they’d tossed her aside. But when the Blizzcon 2009 costume winner was the Mistress of pain they decided to put her back into the game. *applause*
She’s like Belial, she likes to taunt and torment the player.
Azmodan is all about power and destruction. Raw power. Royalty, wears a crown. He ruled hell for300 years after the Dark Exile. He’s greedy and avaricious and ostentatious. Wears gold and trappings of wealth. Gilding.
As a personality, he’s not into deceit or hiding. From the very beginning of the act you know exactly where he is, you just can’t get to him. He’s behind the demon invasion that Cain has been warning about for 20 years.
In the cinematic you see Azmodan confronting Leah. He knows the player is coming for him. And he knows about the Black Soulstone. It’s a very powerful artifact, that you’re going to use to capture and destroy him. But Azmodan knows that if he gets his hands on the Black Soulstone, he’ll be the most powerful lord of hell ever. “Quite a surpise to the player when they find out.”
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, Azmodan is the last lord of Hell. You’ve defeated Belial already. No more lords of hell, the burning hells are empty. Who can continue to influence or corrupt Sanctuary? Once Azmodan is dead there will be no more evil… at least that’s the theory… and then there will be happiness and rainbows for everyone!
Back to Chris Metzen.
Talking about looking at the continuity of different parts of Sanctuary. One change hinted at in the beta is that the Dark Wandererfrom Diablo 2 now has been given an identity. Why?.
Retcons can piss people off and we are very sensitive to that , we don’t want to put anyone of, we want you guys to enjoy these ideas.
The reason we gave him an identity… I’m not announcing anything, but if you were theoretically going to tell this in a different media type, like a movie or mini series or novel, but wanting to tell the story outside the bounds of the game, this guy is the hero from Diablo 1 who took Diablo power into himself for the betterment of mankind. And then he travels east, and winds up freeing his brothers. We think it’s an interesting story for a larger project.
But they had to answer the question about who actually did the Diablo killing deed. He was already male, so could not be the rogue, so they wanted to give him a full identity. The idea now is that he’s Aiden, Leoric’s oldest son. Leoric had two sons Albrecht, the young one who didn’t end well. Aiden comes back as Leoric is being possessed and going mad, arrives after all the wars with Westmarch have been lost and Leoric killed by Lachdanan. His Dad’s dead, his brother has vanished, etc. Gives much more emtotional investment to the events of Diablo 1, with that as the hero’s identity.
Metzen says that sometimes retcons are errors, but usually they do them on purpose when they think they’ve got a better new theory.
World of Sanctuary
Kevin Martens talks now. They have three brand new areas being shown today, with video.
Caldeum, the Jewel of the East.
Caldeum is the major trading center of the world. It’s the Rome of its time. Everything comes through from all directions of trade. There’s a big refugee crisis here and Belial is obviously behind it. You know that but you don’t know, how, when and why.
This city had three major groups in it. They hadZakarum priesthood, the big merchant families and it had the Ishari Sanctum which is the major wizard school, in fact the Wizard from Diablo 3 schooled here for a while. These groups are always vying for power. Recently the Emperor brought them all into control, and the city grew even more powerful and wealthy. They’re still vying, but more orderly.
The emperor died mysterious circumstances. Now a child emperor Hakan II has taken power but he’s struggling for survival.
Then we are taken on a fly-over of a part of Caldeum.
The first part is a trading pass that comes in from the west with an overlook of the city, moving on over a central bazaar and then a tavern and finally over thrones and plazas.
Caldeum Bazaars and Tavern
The society is very stratified in fact, literally, the rich people live above in a sort of cloud city approach on these massive platforms above the poor people.
The child emperor, Hakam II was found through a Zakarum ritual. The Iron Wolves, the mercenary company from Diablo 2, work with the Zakarum to find this child and make sure the merchant houses or the Ishari Sanctum don’t take control of him or kill him and replace him with one of their own.
Asheara is the leader of the Iron Wolves. They have recently been kicked out of the palace by the emperor, replaced by Imperial Guards and they won’t let anyone into the throne area, Asheara is outside the walls, trying to help the refugees, wondering if she should stick around to help the child emperor. (She was seen in the Blizzcon 2009 demo.)
Dahlgur Oasis. This is the farming region for Caldeum and is where most of the water comes for the area. It fuelled the rise of Caldeum. Legend has it that a mysterious desert prophet named Algert came in from the wastes, showed the early city fathers the oasis, then vanished never to be seen again.
There is now a short video of a female monk running through oasis area. There are Palm trees, water to the ankles, exploding plants. It is also overrun with Belial’s forces, lots of Naga. It’s a contrast from the harsh desert areas you see in Act Two.
The next area to be demoed are The Archives of Zoltun Kulle. This is the teaser area from today. Zulton Kulle is a new character we have created. He is one of the original Horadrim along with Jerad Cain, Tal Rasha, etc. They founded the Horadrim and tracked down the original lords of hell.
Zoltun Kulle turned evil and became the most dangerous man in the world. Everyone teamed up to go after him. They could not kill him, he became immortal. They cut him in half and buried his head in the desert and his body in another dimension. This was shown a bit at Blizzcon 2009. Little sandy side dungeons, in ruins, where all the magic is broken.
Archives that have set undisturbed for hundreds of years. Not going to tell why the player is in those areas, or what the missions are. But they show some videos of those dungeons. Monsters have been removed for the demo. The demo shows a female Monk and a Scoundrel follower running over platforms, standing out of mist below, huge vortexes of sand flying around. They stop at a vortex, perhaps waypoint and then evil laughter rings out and the demo goes black.
Thus concludes the planned part of the lore panel. Now to questions.
Q&A Portion of the Diablo 3 Lore Panel
Adria question. I Couldn’t find any evidence that she died in Diablo 2. Will she appear in Diablo 3?
Leonard: Adria is Leah’s mother, as revealed in the beta. The full game will reveal more, how she died.
Question about concept art which looks like two angels, one angle is powering up and Tyrael is cowering back. Can an angel fall and become a demon? Do angels have separate forms when they’re fighting vs. their normal appearance.
Kevin martens: Not sure which concept art you’re referring to. To answer broadly, can angel fall and turn to demons?I don’t want to get to into that, but I don’t think that’s the case. Take a look at Izual, the corrupted angle from Diablo 2 and here’s some free lore, he’s going to appear in Diablo 3 again. How, when, where and why, I’m not saying.
Chris: Angels can not become demons, but they can fall and become very dark and warped. But they are very different creatures. Angels are light and sound. They do not have physicality at all. They just look physical and in armor. But the Crystal Arch, the heart of the high heavens, is rumored to be the spine of the primordial creature. The eye became the worldstone. The Angels are not physical Their wings are what they are. The bodies are just sort of projections.
Questioner goes back to the image, says he thought it was Tyrael and Inarius fighting. answer remains “don’t know”
Kevin: Don’t know who her father is. Just a warrior who went off to battle and as far as she knows he’s dead.
Chris: It may play out as a significant thing down the road but we will see.
Kevin: Probably because Gheed is so very beloved and who said we didn’t kill Gheed? Who knows. Where is Gheed?
Will we see more Diablo 2 chars in the game or just mentions of them?
Kevin: It’s more hinted than confirmation and some aren’t mentioned at all. Some are more specifically revealed. One thing… an apprentice of the necromancer from Diablo 2 you’ll meet in the Stinginig Winds, which is an Act 2 region we showed in the Blizzcon 2009 demo. He appears in two possible events in that area.
At the end of Lord of Destruction Tyrael destroys the worldstone in the Diablo 2 cinematic which seems like a really huge event. Does that have any implications on Sanctuary?
Chris: Yes…. Yes. The destruction of the worldstone… or was it? Is a huge moment in the universe of Diablo. Can you destroy a worldstone? I know what we saw, but was that real?
Kevin: The Worldstone was suppressing the growth of the power of the Nephalem. What changes from that?
Chris: It exists on multiple planes of reality.
Kevin: We know the answer, and we’ll get more of it in time.
Leonard: The Worldstone kept large numbers of angels and demons from coming to Sanctuary so now it’s gone people are wondering why the invasion hasn’t happened as Cain kept saying. But now you’ve run into Azmodan the demon invasion is actually happening and that’s one way that it’s affecting Sanctuary.
Kevin: Azmodan isn’t an idiot, he’s seen what’s happened to all his brethren and he knows how dangerous humans are so he’s trying to be careful and come with overwhelming force.
You’ve been talking a lot about the high heavens and burning hells. Does the necromancer god Trang-Oul factor in?
Kevin: He was last seen in the Sin War Trilogy. Trang-Oul is a world protector, a dragon figure. He may be a living constellation, he might be a personification of the past, present and future of humanity. He is the founder of the necromancer order and he’s very concerned with balance. He is not around any more. After he set his necromancers on the path, he’s gone. We don’t say where, but that’s one of the mysteries of the universe that’s out there somewhere.
Leonard: Hmm. that’s very interesting. *smirk*
Chris: I wouldn’t leave them lying around. That would be dangerous.
Kevin: You should play Diablo 3, you’ll learn so much when you do.
Why are they coming in from that particular point?
Chris: It just seemed the obvious location. Where the worldstone went away, the fabric of reality is weakest there so it’s the easiest place to push through the demons. It’s cool, how does that sound?
Chris: I just asked him that this morning!
And the second part to my question: Which tribe does the Witch Doctor come from.?
Kevin: I don’t know but the answer to the first question is it’s skin cream, you have to look after your skin.
Leonard: In the webstory by Abdul al-Hazir he writes about visiting the Witch Doctor’s tribe. I forget their name. (IncGamer’s note: It’s the Tribe of the Five Hills as detailed in the Writings of Abd al-Hazir: Entry no. 0013.)
Kevin: It’s a little different to how it was in Diablo 2 in that the exterior, the non-dungeons, don’t have randomized edges, those are set and as a result they can look a lot cooler. What we have is like giant squares of content in the middle that switch out. So you could walk through and one time there’s a little encampment and it’s full of snakemen and you kill them and get some lore and it’s Belial’s orders and you learn a little more about the story. But the next time you go it’s the entrance to a temple and inside is a treasure hunter and he’s got theThe Idol of Rygnar and then you’ve got a 30 minute dungeon underneath. And the time after that it’s one of Zoltun Kulle’s archives. So we do it that way. Another time you could walk through and it’s just empty desert and that’s where a lot of the randomness comes. The way that the main quest objectives are set up you have to be exploring a zone to find that and as you do you will run across all of these other random events.
Leonard: The dungeons are completely random like they were in Diablo 2.
Kevin: I believe that we are implying that Blood Raven is the rogue from Diablo 1 when it all became corrupted and we referenced the Sorcerer in Act 2 of Diablo 2, I think. We do not explain what happens to all of the heroes from Diablo 2, some of them are referenced and some are not.
Leonard: Even during Diablo 2, it was established that the Warrior from Diablo 1 was the Dark Wanderer.
Kevin: So we’ve clarified his background and specifically tied him to Leoric and the events of Tristram
I liked the fact that some of the items in Diablo 2 had direct connection to the lore such as Azurewrath. Is there the same sort of thing in Diablo 3? Will there be loot that’s more desireable from a lore point of view that the player really wants to have?
Kevin: Absolutely. Most of the legendary items have lore info on the tooltip, and references to existing lore, hints at new lore, etc. Also lore books in the game with narration by Deckard Cain and Abdul al-Hazir who is a great traveller character.
Also, will Ormus appearing in D3?
Kevin: As for Ormus….
Leonard: Okay, here’s a big reveal. Ormas, sadly, didn’t make it to the final game. He was in the game for a while and that means we have a model for him and I put my money on him showing up again somewhere but didn’t make it in.
Blank looks from the panel. They confer, unsure.
Chris: Wasn’t that Horazon?
Kevin: Yes the summoner was supposed to be the hero from Diablo 1.
Is there a relation between Horazon and Zoltun Kulle, the new Horadric Sage in Diablo 3. Is there a lore reason that Azmodan is sewn up like the exploding demons? (IncGamer’s Note: He means Grotesque)
No, it just looked cool. No lore reason behind the stitching. Horazon is totally different, he has nothing to do with the Horadrim. Not to get too deep into it but him and his brother were mages and they ended up in this big huge mage battle which almost decimated the world at one point in time so he had a totally different history to the Horadrim and Zoltun Kulle was the Dark Horadrim so they are completely different.
Chris: But they are certainly similar kinds of characters. Powerful wizards who went nuts and had subterranean bachelor pads.
On the theme of revisiting story elements from previous games, what about the locations such as [wikiKurast[/wiki] and Lut Gholein?
Kevin: No, not seeing those again. Almost all new areas in Diablo 3. We deliberately started the game in new Tristram which is across the river from old Tristram to set the early tone and theme and memory. And for new players it brings in the history with the Skeleton King being your first boss etc. But while we do back toKehjistan and some of the other areas we wanted to show new things. Of course Arreat being an exception to that later, that’s where the demon army is coming from but the area has changed so much it might as well be a new area. We talked about bringing those areas back but we decided on a brand new things instead. We love to expand the world and show you new things whenever we can.
Regarding the vessel of Diablo. As far as I remember neither Duriel or Andariel has a vessel and no other lesser demon had a vessel and Diablo even made an appearance in the Sin Wars without a vessel so why does he want a vessel, what does he need it for?
Chris: Define vessels. Soulstones?
No, the human he takes possession of, the king’s sons, first the younger one then the older one.
Kevin: The prime evils lost their power when they overthrown by the lesser evils and exiled to Sanctuary. They lost a ton of their power when they did that and that allowed the Horadrim to capture and hold them in soulstones. Diablo at the time of Diablo 1 is very weak, he got this essence and he’s got these insidious plans and it’s kind of slow moving. He’s got to take over a kid, he tried to take over Leoric but he couldn’t quite do it and by the end he tricks the warrior into taking the soulstone so he would get a more powerful vessel. Essentially he’s still just building his power and he’s not strong enough to show up as Diablo although he does get the strong over the coarse of the games.
Chris: I think you can argue that technically that while the Worldstone was up and doing its thing which is to suppress Angels and Demons to a degree that most of these evils would have to be anchored in some kind of mortal form. Although, with the Worldstone blown to bits all bets are off.