This panel was conducted by Chris Metzen (Senior Vice-President of Story and Franchise Development), Kevin Martens (Lead Content Designer) and Leonard Boyarski (Senior World Designer).
Below you will find an approximate transcript of the Diablo III Lore Panel which shed some light on how Diablo: Book of Cain and Diablo: The Sin War fit with the Diablo III story.
Note: This is a work in progress: 40% done. A sneak peek.
Diablo III Panel Intro
Chris Metzen: It’s been kinda interesting. Fifteen years of Diablo. At least seven years of BlizzCon. We haven’t had a straight lore panel before, so this should be really cool.
We got some absolutely badasses on the stage today. This is Leord Boyarskii — our Senior Game Designer, and Kevin Martens — our Lead Content Designer.
We’ve been tag-teaming for what it seems a hundred years in Diablo III. We’re working a little bit on some new ideas, and talking a little bit about Book of Cain and some of the history we’ve tried to put together, and then we’re going to a Q&A.
As we get started here, I wanted to talk to you guys — we’ve put together this new thing called Book of Cain because the past few years while we have been developing Diablo III, it demanded that we relooked the world, and the relooked the way the history flows.
The Diablo series was developed between two different companies, probably something like eight different fiction writers across manuals and game scripts, and to be honest with you it was a bit of a mess.
As we started to get deep into Diablo III, new ideas were coming out and kind of new looks at the world were taking shape that look really cool.
We started looking at the history and tighting up and trim and looked at how all these ideas stack so that you get the most maximum, tight, and smartly built game continuity. As we got all these ideas, we came up with Book of Cain. Really badass, put it in a cover, and give it to people.
I want to say this upfront, we do this with Warcraft and StarCraft front all the time. We started tweaking things, and purposely retconning things, get a little emotional.
People like to know what they know, and the canon — the lore they have been following for years. I just wanted to say upfront, especially in the Q&A part if you want to ask about things (the preview of Book of Cain went up last night), and some things look a bit different than what they have looked like for years.
Not really major world changes or anything like that by the way. This all sounds very nerdy, but just want to say upfront we have been going back through history and trying to tighten up and make it as smart as we can make it. So wanted to say upfront as we get going here we’ll be talking about the Eternal Conflict.
We’ll be discussing ideas that we have been building into Diablo for a while, but we have early evidence in the game series about the Angels in the Diablo universe. We don’t talk about them a whole lot. The only character you have seen consistently has been Tyrael.
We kinda setup a little discussion about them. The idea is the Diablo universe is predicated on the Eternal Conflict. We have the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, and one of these modified ideas that we came up with, that we’ve running for the past couple of years in development is that “What are heaven and hell really been fighting about? What are they doing?”
We kinda had this idea that there’s a mythic cycle we came up with about the creation of the universe, the ultimate manifestations of good and evil fought at the beginning of time and pretty much wiped each other out in kinda a big bang of explosion — so, part of the good guy was this kind of massive crystal we called the Eye of Anu, it’s the Worldstone.
It began spinning out in the heart of the universe itself, and legend holds — “legend holds” as if I ain’t making this out as I go — legend holds that with the Worldstone you can build worlds without end. It’s essentially the heart of a supreme deity, it’s a force of creation.
With this thing, it’s theorized that you can build worlds without end, and ultimately the High Heavens and the Burning Hells are pretty much also evidences of this great powers of the universe.
As the Angels and Demons became aware of each other they began to fight over possession of the Worldstone, because whoever controls it can pretty much reshape reality to their whim. So the idea that we built is in the center of the universe where this Worldstone is the forces of the High Heavens and the Burning Hells are fighting there. We call that place “Pandemonium”.
You guys are familiar with the Pandemonium Fortress in Diablo II.
Kevin Martens: Yes, at that point the Angels had controlled it and the Pandemonium Fortress was sort of their operation base at the gates of Hell.
Chris Metzen: And the ideas is that over the Eons, since the dawn of time, Heaven and Hell have been fighting different lengths of times. This ten thousand years span: Hell owned it. The next thirty thousand years span: Heaven owns it.
So the architecture of the Pandemonium Fortress is kind of shaped around both of their cultures as they have occupied this place over time.
Kevin Martens: I should say the Pandemonium Fortress is also much bigger than what you have seen in Diablo II. There’s a lot more to it than what we have ever shown or talked about.
Chris Metzen: The idea is that the Pandemonium Fortress is built around the Worldstone, and kinda built to contain it, and certainly provide us with a little battleground for these forces to clash over.
As you move forward in time, the character of Inarius started to get tired at this giant battle, and didn’t want to play ball anymore. He thought that this unending Eternal Conflict was ridiculous. He was like “I’m done.” He kinda had a total break.
Long story short, he conscripts like-minded angels, and even stranger, like-minded demons. Like the demoness Lilith. And they pull off the maneuver — they actually ended up stealing the Worldstone from the heart of Pandemonium. Technically, it’s still right there. It still exists at the heart of creation, but somehow they dimensionally veiled it, they kinda blinked it out into a dimensional pocket that Heaven and Hell couldn’t see.
You could imagine what that would do to the Eternal Conflict. Suddenly the thing we are fighting over, the power of creation itself, Zoop! It’s gone.
So that complicated things for Heaven and Hell. What are we fighting over now? Where the Worldstone went is in the dimension of Sanctuary.
With this power of creation, Inarius and his goofy friends forged for themselves a paradise. A garden sanctuary where they could do their hippy-stuff, run around naked, have fun chasing bunnies, and there these renegade angels and demons began to … get it on.
They had babies. They had scary, mighty, supernatural babies called the Nephalem.
Long story shorter, over time these Nephalem … their bloodlines began to diminish, their powers began to diminish because the very very scary mighthy monsters — something that was never planned for in creation: hybrids of angelic and demonic power — (as this is said, Metzen is moving his hands as he talks, and he suddenly realizes it) what am I doing? This is weird. Grabbing air. (Metzen whistles and moves and gestures his hand to simulate a wave) … sorry, hold me. (Metzen grabs Boyarski’s hand).
(Crowd breaks into laughter)
So the Nephalems ultimately diminish and become us. Become men (… and women). And the idea is that locked within the mortal genetic code is the power of gods. Far beyond angels and demons.
The thing that scares the living hell of (aha!) Heaven and Hell is the fact that we are potentially far mightier than they. Some of these ideas, you guys may have seen in the Sin War trilogy that we put out a number of years ago by Richard A. Knaak.
We are kinda riffing in this space, and trying to construct a trilogy that would synch some of this stuff, but if you guys want to read the Book of Cain, you’re definitely going to get into this stuff, and kinda check the linear chain of events that really produced Sanctuary. So having said all that (catches a second breath) let’s get into this.