Sanctuary is world in which all of Diablodom takes place. Already most of us can see a map of that land in our head. We know Tristram is in the West of the land, and that between the monastery where the Sisterhood stay and the vast Eastern jungles lie a desert and then a sea. We know the Barbarians live in the north of the land, and the Amazons on an island to the south somewhere. Sanctuary is a world that is familiar to us.
As it should be. In one sense, we have been there. We have visited a city on the edge of the sands. We have climbed Mount Arreat, and we have walked through the seemingly endless jungles. We have roamed in the countryside of the West, and explored far out into the desert. Even into the mythological realms of heaven and hell, even to these places we have gone. We know Sanctuary. We have been there. Its architecture, its peoples, its music, all these are known to us. We even know something of its history. Sanctuary is not just a name for a fictional world, it is a vibrant and coherent place, constructed by the mind with the aid of Blizzard. Sanctuary is a very large part of what makes Diablo the immersive game that it is.
But consider, Blizzard accomplished this artistry with the advantage of graphics. Blizzard could let us see and explore for ourselves this world. An immense amount of work though it was to establish through that artwork a unity and cohesiveness for Sanctuary, the advantage of art and music gave them an edge. Blizzard, and all the artists and musicians and storytellers who worked on making Sanctuary come to life, deserve a great deal of credit for wielding that edge with incredible mastery. Nevertheless, that edge is not enjoyed by all who create new lands in the mind. Think of all the elements of light and melody and spoken word that generate Sanctuary, and remove them all. Leave nothing but black and white text. A sheet of paper. A book. Now imagine taking nothing but that plain black and white text and with it creating a world full of people, music, art, and culture. Better still, pop open your chosen word processor and give it a try.
It has been done. Many times has this been done. Every time there is a well written work of science fiction or fantasy, a new culture has been created. With nothing but a pen, out of nothing is created the history and art and language of the races and tribes of each land. The classic case is of course, Tokien. Many of us would have an easier time finding Hobbiton on a map of Middle-Earth than we would finding Azerbaijan on a map of Asia. Tolkien