The ninth installment of Stillman’s Slab arrives with a bang and a whiff of retcon. We’ve all got our favorite monsters in the series of Diablo games, but isn’t it a bit odd that the same ones keep returning every time, just to get slaughtered. Again? And yet they’re bigger and better each time. How much can they improve while dead? Stillman goes through several examples this time, but focuses chiefly on the lord of the underworld, Mr. Risen Skeleton himself… King Leoric.
Here’s the start of the column; click through to read the whole thing.
Diablo on Drugs
Well it’s halfway to Halloween, so prepare to throw up all over the place in advance. If you are not nauseous by the time you finish with this then you lack a stomach…kind of like King Leoric here. Today’s discussion is about the return of the king and what sick truths he teaches us about other characters in Diablo 3. Why did Blizzard bring back Leoric, and what are these empty syringes doing stashed in his crown? Why has his son Albrecht been missing school lately, and what happened to that wad of twenties I had in my wallet? It’s time to intervene and wrap a warm straitjacket around this family in crisis.
First, a brief history. King Leoric was an important figure in the Diablo 1 story. Diablo first drove the king mad then chose to possess the body of his son. This maddening of a king’s mind is an old trick employed in the works of Shakespeare, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books, and even Stephen King’s Eye of the Dragon and The Dark Tower series. There is also an eerie child as a staple ingredient in many successful horror stories. The cheese fest was over in Diablo 2 with the Leorics next door having absolutely nothing to do with the story after Diablo 1. The family problems had been nicely settled like dust after players beat it out of them?the perfect solution (Oh, we will discover some other ?solutions? of the liquid variety a bit later).
But now it is almost as if Blizzard is bringing King Leoric back and beefing him up simply for being a popular past character. Leoric will surely help lure fans of Diablo 1 into buying Diablo 3. But would Blizzard resurrect a popular character (who has already been killed twice) for no other reason but to make some extra cash? Would they really do this at the cost of making the game look redundant?
Of course not. Surely there must be some greater purpose. After all, Blizzard must know that the return of The Butcher in the form of The Smith in Diablo 2 did not go well at all. The Butcher was alone in a dark room with pink acrid gore covering every inch of the place whereas the copycat Smith had a dinky little hammer and a platoon of smurfs in there with him. What a sissy! Clearly they should leave some scary characters alone and not attempt to bring them back in new form because this would only degrade them. Leoric was pretty frightening in Diablo 1, but I can think of several other kings that are definitely more terrifying than the Diablo 3 Leoric:
So it is likely not the fright factor that brings Leoric back. See, Leoric was towering over you in Diablo 1 which really made him stand out menacingly. He was scary in part 1 because he was quite tall but still feasible as a once human king?a real threat. But huge monsters are commonplace in Diablo 3, so Leoric is now just another face in the crowd. Plus, we already gave him the beating of his afterlife and even did a number on his kid. But don’t worry; we shall get to a revelation that explains Leoric’s comeback soon.
The mystery is unearthed as we examine him piece by piece. Leoric in the Wizard Cinematic looks like he was once a man about three stories tall. He previously wielded a two handed sword and leaned under its weight. Now, however, he carries a mace bigger than the Barbarian which he easily hoists with one skeletal hand as if it were weightless. He even has massive armor never seen before. Everything is bigger; even Leoric’s jaw is much wider, and his crown is gigantic. It is as though Blizzard forgot he was once a human king, not some giant monster. This is Leoric on STEROIDS.
And this is where we make our revelation: Diablo 3 is on Steroids. It’s not just King Leoric either. Anabolic steroid abuse goes all the way down the chain of command to the Fallen. Take a look:
In today’s competitive video game market you would not believe the pressure put on fantasy characters to be a cut above the rest. The Barbarian has his visually massive shoulder plates (and steroids), the Witch Doctorhas a mask bigger than his body (and some crack laced with PCP), and Leoric has pretty much everything enlarged for show. Why do things have to be so big anyway? The Hammer of the Ancients is bigger than the Ancients themselves. They didn’t even use a hammer when they threw everything they had at you in Diablo 2 LoD just as Leoric never used a mace the size of your stash. The drugs have turned Leoric and others into completely different persons.
It appears Leoric is really in Diablo 3 just for the sake of being bigger and better. Blizzard wants to bring back big characters with big personalities. They even chose to bring back the Barbarian, the biggest character from Diablo 2, which supports this notion that size is a priority. Though Blizzard has not taken size to World of WarCraft extremes in Diablo 3, it almost reminds me of all the movies and mini series that were made about Prime Minister Trudeau. They just had to mummify this popular figure and parade his carcass around to the max after he died. Leoric is being used, man!
Not that I care, because I’m not too fond of royalty after what happened. I remember Cain going on about Leoric’s dead boy like it was a big deal while saying nothing at all about all the mutilated women skewered on poles I kept encountering. It was almost as if only royal family was mentioned because people seem to think kings and princes are bigger, better, and more important than the rest of us. Huh. Well Cain can go to hell because the only difference is that due to royal inbreeding ROYAL FAMILY MEMBERS ARE PRODUCTS OF INCEST. Although Blizzard is superb at creating a scary atmosphere, can they ever match the strange but true creepiness of real royalty?
With that off my chest, I can say this: our mistrust of royalty will make it all the more fun when we get to pommel Leoric into his third death in Diablo 3. I hope it’s a critical. I guess you could say I am tired of a lifetime of games and movies where the big hero is a prince, king, or someone with a special bloodline which automatically makes them better than everyone else. Well now the royal guy is the enemy, and I will finally have my revenge. Are drugs really even necessary for kings when they are bottle fed caviar since birth? Perhaps a king as a villain is a thrill of its own because you get to destroy an authority figure. The bigger the better I guess.
Good Lord! Is that a mustache on little Albrecht? Leoric, you’re going down! Thank goodness Lazarus got to him and intervened on time. It all makes sense now…Lazarus was phlebotomizing the boy on his slab to remove all the growth hormone his dad gave him. Diablo is just what he turned into for taking too many steroids.
Steroids…Micheal Jackson…fat Elvis…Robert Kotick with flames of hell in the background…gastric juices smeared on the Butcher’s ceiling…undead prime ministers…skewered women…generations of incest families…blood letting…child abuse…World of WarCraft. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to be sick!
But there is a King of Kings. Or shall we say a Lord. He is far more terrifying than anything Leoric or Micheal Jackson can shock us with. He is the Lord of Terror himself who makes us all horrified at the thought of going to hell. He is part of a trinity, and he is ready to take your soul. He is…
Oh dear. Guys, I swear this was supposed to be a picture of Diablo. Flux, did you tinker with the pictures?
Next week: Diablo!
Diablo will be clean and sober especially after her sex change operation and some self induced vomiting.
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.