Stillman continues on his impressive column-a-week pace, with a new entry. This one’s about everyone’s favorite logorrheic NPC, and in it you will be encourage to stay a while and listen, as well as taught to hate the one who implores you to do so. It’s appropriate though, since we’ve all got that love/hate relationship with Deckard. This column is a bit more wacky and humorous than last weeks’ mind-bending and yet strangely-plausible Wizard SciFi installment. You have been warned. Here’s the start of the column: click through to read the rest.

    Sugar Cain

    He’s back. The question is, what is Cain telling us about the devil raising Cain, all the while using a cane to walk with. If you are feeling bombarded by Cain after just three sentences then you are probably used to it from playing Diablo games. He just keeps going and going. A cut down the midline, something all of you wanted to perform when Cain harasses you in town, reveals the truth about the Horadrims last member. Cain is not just the elder of Tristram; he is more like one of our own elders from real life. He has also been immortalized by endless talking about junk quest items. You see, in Cain’s day they didn’t have good item affixes..

    Other than that, there is little I can say about Deckard Cain. There are no revelations, no hidden purpose or agendas, and the only mystery is why he needs to get rescued again in the Diablo 3 Gameplay Video. Didn’t we already rescue him at least 100 times over in each of the Diablo 2 difficulties? Anyway, his purpose in the game is pretty obvious. He is the old mentor figure we find in every epic story. There is Merlin from the King Arthur legends,  Gandalf from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and Obi-Wan Kenobi from the older Star Wars movies. Last of the Jedi, last of the Horadrim, it’s all the same thing, really. Just plug in any epic movie and you will find a robed geezer who guides the heroes and gives them direction (whether they like it or not).

    Hey, are you still awake? If so, the only direction you should have in mind is to the door. I have described everything you need to know about Cain in the Diablo universe. You can go home now. Thanks for dropping by. Now, you know whose entrails I would like to look at? The Diablo 2 Assassin’s. [Turning on dictaphone]

    I never understood why the Assassin, or Snow White as I like to call her, would storm out onto the battlefield to slaughter thousands. Shouldn’t ?Assassins? silently target one higher up goon and maybe not make a spectacle out of it? She looks odd ?sneaking? around in full plate when everyone can see her plain as day, and—

    You are still here? (Seriously, you will want to get out of here fast. Cain will talk your ear off and I am all out of chloroform. But if you hand me those elephant tranquilizers I can tolerate his semiconscious mumbles for some further observation. The risk is he could overdose and die. You don’t mind? Alright. And no, you cannot use the tranquilizers on yourself to avoid listening to Cain. They are like quest items; You have no choice and you use them on Cain all at once to stop him from talking.)

    Cain’s comeback and rescue in Diablo 3 always reminds me of John Connor’s rescue in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. In both stories it is the same idea being concocted yet again, and you have to wonder why the creators could not come up with anything fresh. The T800 model was becoming outdated in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and was even more obsolete in the next movie. Likewise, Cain became rather useless in Diablo 2 which makes you wonder why he is being thrust into Diablo 3. Even in Diablo 1 you could buy scrolls of identify costing you only dirt (i.e. gold) you pick up off the ground. Do we really need Cain at all?

    There are a few reasons why he should return, however. One is for nostalgia sake. Another may be about maintaining the wise old mentor role described above. I was hoping Tyrael or some other archangel could be the mentor in Diablo 3. We would feel more powerful having our items identified by divine glances as opposed to being handcuffed to old gramps who follows us from town to town. But another reason Cain is still kicking may be due to a special role where he is required in the story. In Diablo 1 you had to give Cain the Staff of Lazarus to proceed. It was also nice to know what was going on, and Cain was the go to guy on that front. But then again there were tombs and town drunks which fulfilled the same duties. If only Farnham had been the one who survived Tristram and learned to identify items, albeit with less than perfect accuracy. His gossip was far better, and we would at least know the 100 gold per identified item is going to a good cause.

    Maybe I seek alternatives to Cain so much because he represents everything players in their teens, twenties, and thirties are trying to get away from. We are either trying to escape our parents’ house or get by on our own to avoid crawling back. Cain is much like a father or grandfather figure, and you just know that your godly character has to go home and report everything to Papa Cain after each epic battle. No exceptions. Isn’t my huge-breasted Amazon old enough to figure out on her own what to do next? You just torture the demons until they tell you where the soulstones are. Simple! Cain really kills the epic mood because you are pumped, psyched, and ready for battle, but you have to talk curfews with this elderly man hobbling after you. ?Don’t forget your mittens! I mean soulstone! Go do as I suggest! Now!? Even less exciting is when you read a family member’s diary only to find it is full of things you already know. Well that is what you get when you read Cain’s Journal.

    You just want to scream ?I HATE YOU? and storm out the town portal so you can hang out with your friends instead. But gosh, he’s got that exclamation mark over his head. You will just have to sit down by his rocker next to the juke box and listen to stories about the old days. No epic battles for you, missus. Did Cain ever tell you he had a Ford Model T? Well if you don’t listen to him now you will just be making it worse by saving up story after story for later. Now go clean your inventory.

    Blizzard is doing some cleaning of their own, claiming to take care of these problems for Diablo 3. We will not have to get absorbed in dialogue if we feel like mashing up enemies rather than looking at Cain’s mashed up face. They even talked of removing the new dialogue screen feature (below) so as to not take us out of the action. I wouldn’t mind Cain being removed with it, but I can appreciate that he has some fans who definitely want him to stay. They even want to play as Cain?obviously so they can off themselves repeatedly for some much needed revenge.


    Blizzard acknowledged this by revealing (and exploding) the Archivist class as an April Fool’s Day joke. They also said Cain himself could not be a playable class because he is too important to the story, which means it sucks to be you if you’ve had enough of Cain. We even get a full screen shot of Cain as a ?reward? for beating Lord of Destruction. [Sigh.] Is there no escape? And why is there no useful information on Cain’s Corner of Arreat Summit? Because he is Cain.

    There is more to it than the little annoyances when you use the psychoanalyticalapproach. If you have ever been practically forced to sit and listen to the ramblings of an old man you may understand my frustrations. You want nothing more than to get up and leave. You are not interested in being a mere recipient of someone else’s outburst of babbling. You are being USED. Why does the old man assume you want to hear all about it? Surely if you wanted an earful you would have asked for it. Whether it is your grandparent gabbing irrelevant stories for his own satisfaction, your father sitting you down for a talk or venting session, the oldest alcoholic at a party chatting away at you like you asked for his life story, or a combination of those, it is the last thing you want to be a part of. Trust me.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I do not want Cain bugging me again in Diablo 3. He often hogs the show, stealing the spotlight as the hero sometimes, and pesters my characters ALL the time. Worst of all, he keeps calling me his ?friend? even though I’ve been plotting his death for ages. Maybe Cain is evolving into the sweet grandfather figure, a sort of sugar coating for Diablo 3. He is candy Cain. But after my childhood , folks, the only relative I want to see in Diablo 3 is this one:


    Now that is some real candy. Something tells me Blizzard is aware of all these forced attachment issues, and maybe Cain will have a less in-your-face function in Diablo 3.     

    What a relief. With Cain out of the way, I wonder who is next up on the slab. The beautiful Amazon? Alkor the Alchemist? The beautiful Akara? The beautiful Asheara? The beautiful Anya? The beautiful Atma? Jay Wilson? There is no one left from Diablo 3. I covered them all.

    Well, except for….Oh no. This has got to be some sort of horrible prank. It’s Abd al-Hazir!  He is the same thing as Cain and Sanctuarys biggest sissy. His name is almost an anagram of Alzheimer, and he wants YOU to hear his stories!

    * * *

    Time for the BONUS BOLUS. This week has been a bit confusing with me describing Cain as an everlasting, annoying, sweet and fuzzy follower household machine that kills the epic mood. Unbelievably, such creatures do exist.

    While the Energizer Bunny is about as noisy as and intrusive as Cain, only Toonces the Driving Cat from Saturday Night Live sketches has the grey color and makes you want to run away. Funzofrom The Simpsons, however, actually destroys fun just like Cain.

    Before you describe how much you admire Cain, ask yourself these questions:

    • Have you ever wanted to kill Cain? Be honest now.
    • Have you ever gotten angry when Cain hides behind that wall in Act 5 wasting valuable seconds?
    • Have you ever scolded Cain after he identified a unique with low stats?
    • When the Archivist self destructs, do you ever fantasize that it is really Cain?
    • Do you think the high point of Cain’s career was becoming a rapper?
    • Did you ever leave Cain in his cage in Tristram even though you knew it would only take 11seconds to sneak around the blacksmith shop to save him?
    • Do you ever identify all of your items manually with scrolls just to avoid talking to Cain even though it is faster with Cain?
    • Have you ever gotten annoyed when you talk to Cain and he makes the Quest Log icon appear on the corner of your screen and if you don’t click on it you end up doing so in battle by accident which brings up your quest log at a very bad time?
    • Have you ever listened to Cain describe how to make a quiver of arrows in the Horadric Cube and wondered if he is joking because you can buy all the arrows you want for cheap?
    • Do people skip Act 3 because Cain has something to say about the eye, brain, heart and flail you need to collect, plus their final product?

    If you answered ?yes? to six or more then congratulations; you are a seasoned Diablo 2 player!

    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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