Stillman’s Slab #21: Drunken Idiots Part 1: Marius


It’s time for a much needed lore fix. This week I examine the Diablo lore master himself: Marius. What, Marius? Seriously? Oh man. The only witness to the biggest events in Sanctuary history happened to have memory problems. When given a soulstone and an epic quest, the only thing that got smashed was Marius. How much do you trust this guy’s account of what happened, and will any of it matter in Diablo 3? This week, Stillman’s Slab takes apart the addict who knew too little. The first paragraph is below; click through to read the rest. 

Drunken Idiots Part 1: Marius

Substance abuse is only cool in high school. Never forget that, kids. Nothing is quite as disdaining as a washed up, gray haired man trying to keep the party going forever. In real life, grizzled bar flies become hospital fodder who occupy beds and live for each cigarette trip outside since they are not allowed to get loaded anymore. But surely, the popular drunks in Diablo games have some greater purpose and meaning. They are not just Blizzard employees’ personified dreams of after work activities. Do Diablo’s loners and losers have a subliminal message for us? Or, do the incinerated corpses of Farnham and Marius merely contain hard liquors that help them burn up to be forgotten? This week, we focus on the charred skeleton of Marius to see what he tells us about Diablo 2 and 3. But don’t hold your breath. Actually, do hold your breath…

Unlike Farnham of Diablo I, Marius’ role as the drunken fool graduated to narration. Marius was first seen introducing the entire Diablo 2 story in a cinematic video. There, we saw him smoking the same illegal substances Blizzard likes to indulge in when creating ‘content’ patches. The opium-laced content in Marius’s crack pipe has yet to be identified, however. If he is a bard, at least we know what his instrument is.

Ah, the problem with artists and their chemical sources of artistic insight is their procrastination. They get things done slowly, completing maybe one product each time they get around to changing the bong water. Marius never did get around to entering the gate to Hell as instructed by Tyrael.  But then again, I don’t see how Marius could have gotten anywhere near the Hellforge. Who do you think would win, Hephasto or Marius? What was Tyrael thinking? Maybe he was on angel dust when he came up that that not-so-brilliant plan.

The only thing Marius could win is a drinking contest. I did some research on this, and as it turns out, the only one who can drink Marius under the table is an Act 2 Lightning Spire. Observe:

 

Wow! That is one thousand poison resist in normal mode! Blizzard really doesn’t want these guards to get tipsy.

Did anyone notice that every character in Marius’ cinematic videos is tipsy? There is the little bar servant wobbling around, the nameless drunk who couldn’t handle fighting off one skeleton, the Wanderer with the shakes, Tal Rasha writhing around like he’s overdosing extra bad, and Tyrael being wrestled down by Mr. Rags-to-twitches. And the whole story is told by a hungover Beetleburst impersonator, Marius. There is even a collapsing camel getting kicked in the head. It all makes you wonder if Diablo 2 is just one big psychedelic road trip. It is no wonder Diablo lore is so hard to figure out.

I wonder if Blizzard is hesitant about releasing further lore because they are stumped like the rest of us. Maybe they are still trying to sort out the story after Diablo 2 got it more wrecked than Marius on weekends. At the last Blizzcon, Blizzard even pulled out of their promise for a lore panel faster than Marius pulling out as a sure method of birth control. I guess the world got pregnant with Prime Evils thanks to Marius.  He ruins everything he touches, releasing Baal and ensuring the doom of all of Sanctuary.  But did he also ruin the lore in the process by being unable to survive and confirm for us what is real and what is dream?

For instance, how did his possession of the soulstone deteriorate or age him as he implied in his last video? It seems to me Marius was doing an excellent job taxing his organs without a soulstone. If the soulstone is like the ring on The Lord of the Rings, then why not stash it in that box Bilbo had on his mantle? Why does Diablo crumble away in the first game when a soulstone is extracted, but when Baal’s is extracted, Baal suddenly gets strong enough to entrap Tyrael? Was Tal Rasha just a powerful zombie puppet at that point? If soulstones are prisons to the demons’ souls, is smashing them a good thing for the demons, or…are they a source of power since Baal is seeking his? They are like ‘good’ prisons, then, right? Like where Marius is hiding out? All I’m saying is Baal was happy when it got pulled out, then he carries it around his neck in LoD, only to plunge it into his head at some point before the showdown in the Worldstone Chamber. Why does the Dark Wonderer in Act 3 dissolve, and where does he reappear? Why does he need Marius to tag along in the first place? Is pulling out a soulstone a two man job, and did Diablo/Wonderer have premonitions of Tyrael showing up to interfere with the extraction? He has two hands, so couldn’t he fence with Tyrael with one hand and pull out the stone with his other? But Tyrael wraps a tentacle around the Wonderer’s arm, so can’t he use his other 49 tentacles to tie up Marius’ arms too? So should the Wonderer take 25 guys in with him, or…What about all the other loose ends? 

As if the Diablo story is not screwed up enough as it is, the fact that much of it comes from the recollections of an intoxicated wreck is very disturbing. How much of Marius’ story is actually valid, and how much is confabulation? For all we know, he could have Korsakoff’s syndrome. Furthermore, Marius had difficulty distinguishing dreams from reality. This was established from the very beginning of Diablo 2, and the mingling of dreams and memories with reality is a persistent theme throughout all the Diablo 2 cinematics. Could much of the Diablo 2 story, then, be (gasp) utter nonsense?

More importantly, how much of the Diablo 2 story will be considered real in Diablo 3? Cain’s Journal barely mentions Marius, merely saying of him, ?I can only wonder what part he [Marius] plays in all of this.? Cain doesn’t even know that Marius released Baal and witnessed all three Prime Evils holding hands to open a portal to Hell!! I often picture Cain and Tyrael standing around in Act 4 thinking of things to talk about while they pass the time…and Tyrael does not mention any of this.

Even worse, Marius’ entire story was being told to…Baal in disguise! I do not think Baal is the sort of historian who carefully records everything and ensures the events are passed down honestly. Marius was killed and burned along with all potential witnesses in the mental asylum where he sought refuge. He started off as a speck on the floor like this…

 

…and he ended as a pile of ashes. Hence, almost nothing from the Diablo 2 story is reliable. Blizzard could easily wipe every word from Marius off the record books, discounting it as hallucinations and half truths. Has anyone considered this? It is feasible that all this time we have only been spinning our tires in the mud when it comes to the Diablo storyline. Much of what we ‘know’, all that we believe is nailed down, was nailed down by someone who was completely hammered.

 

So Marius’ role was much like that of a bard. He told a story, hung out in a pub, followed someone else who was far more powerful, and actually had some pretty decent prose at times. He even looks a bit like Phil Collins. Now I know many people would like for there to be a bard class in Diablo 3. But, a major theme regarding Marius is that he was too weak, too cowardly, too average to take on such a quest. Diablo heroes CANNOT be simple bards, storytellers, or average folk. No, the heroes who succeed have to be extremists. They have to be much better than the Wanderer who failed, and much braver than a common man like Marius. Bards are just commoners who spin their tales and weave their yarns. Leave the Sanctuary saving to those who were born and raised to slaughter giants. The Diablo storyline has always included the butchering of the weaker characters (like almost everyone in Tristram). There is even item finding gameplay that supports this very same ideal of elimination of the average. The one and only thing that does make sense in the Diablo storyline is that the weak must be destroyed, preferably by fire.


Marius saw many things go up in flames; however, he did manage to finish telling his story of the Wonderer and reveal Diablo’s return to power in Diablo 2. But none of it is set in stone, and all the witnesses are dead except Tyrael, who is probably too embarrassed to ever bring it up again. Diablo 3 might just spawn mass confusion (again) over what is really going on with the story. As Phil Collins wrote, ?Just think about it.?


The picture here is Phil Collins and NOT Stillman. Opinions expressed in columns and guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.

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