|The female mage clan of Zann Esu is one of the oldest of the ancient clans, although little is actually known about them. Centuries ago, the fourteen powerful covens of Esu witches convened for the first time in generations. What they discussed is not known, but the witches left behind their former lives and, as a group, disappeared into the Eastern Jungles.
The exact location of their community is a mystery. Until recently, their only contact with the outside world occurred during the recruitment missions. Once every seven years, the Zann Esu visited certain families across Sanctuary. These families had one thing in common—they each had a seven-year old daugther. Always good-natured and polite, the Zann Esu visitors would meet the girls, ask a few questions, and then leave. A select few of the girls were visited a second time and offered apprenticeships. The families of those chosen enjoyed good fortune for many years after.
The Zann Esu, or Sorceresses as they are generally known, are on a quest for purity, the pursuit of the perfect magic. They feel the other disciplines of magic are haphazard, and have instead chosen to focus strictly upon elemental magic. They mold the base elements into whatever magical forms they need—threatening all other magic disciplines with obsolescence. In order to achieve perfection in these elemental transmutations, they choose only those daughters of Sanctuary with the highest level of attunement to the magical elements.
The Sorceresses believe that it is through the search for perfection that they will attain ultimate purity and ascend to their destined role as the most powerful mages in Sanctuary. For centuries they have studied in secret, perfecting their art and bidding their time until the Emergence of Evil. Then, they will face their greatest challenge, either proving the purity of their magic or fading from existence.
The Zann Esu oracles have decreed that the time of the Emergence is at hand. The destruction of the Prime Evils is to be the great test of their clan. Recently, Sorceresses have appeared mysteriously throughout Sanctuary to do battle with the minions of evil wherever they are found.
TRAITS AND ABILITIES
Athletic, affable, and self-assured. Sorceresses hardly seem like scholarly bookworms hidden away from civilization. Sorceresses possess many of the same skills as the male members of the Eastern mage clans, but excel at the use of elemental magic. Like most mages, they consider melee combat vulgar and use magic almost exclusively to fight their enemies.
|During the mid-twelfth century, after the Church of Zakarum had gained prominence in the East, the Church decreed that the visions of Akarat would be spread throughout the known world in order to redeem the masses. Thus, the church selected a group of its most charismatic and devoted priests and sent them on a mission to proselytize the people of the West.
Unfortunately, the Church had not prepared these men for the rigors of travel or the hazards of the world. Those priests who survived their missions recounted tales of harsh weather, inadequate supplies, attacks from bandits, and even encounters with horrible monsters. To ensure the success of future missions, the Church set about training holy warriors, Paladins, to accompany and safeguard their missionaries. These “Protectors of the Word” proved to be more successful at converting the native peoples than the Priests they were assigned to defend. Impressing the locals with daring deeds, powerful weapons, and martial prowess was far more convincing than the condemnations of a soft-spoken monk. However, once the Word had been spread to every major city of the West, the Protectors of the Word faded from public view.
Some decades later, Paladins were again called into service. During the height of the Time of Troubles, the Church commenced a second campaign of conversion. This time, however, unconvincible were deemed to be evil. The Zakarum inquisition, spread through the lands like a tempest, laying waste to all suspected of demonic possession or corruption. Leading this crusade was a new generation of Paladins, known as the “Hand of Zakarum”. These cavaliers of righteousness swept through the lands, expunging the taint of demonic contamination wherever they found it.
In the midst of this bloody crusade, a rebellion arose within the ranks of the Paladins of Zakarum. The rebels condemned the methods of the Inquisition, proclaiming that their new Order of Paladins should protect the innocent, and that the evil corruption they fought was merely evidence of their forebear’s failure. They resolved to fight the true source of corruption. The Three Prime Evils – Diablo, Baal, and Mephisto. And so, these rebellious Paladins left their Zakarum brethren and ventured West.
TRAITS AND ABILITIES
Paladins use holy magic as gifted by the High Heavens. They must maintain strictly ordered lives, constantly upholding the cause of Virtue and Light. They must never succumb to worldly temptations lest they risk being deceived into following false lights—demons masquerading as heavenly beings.
Paladins may use their skills to increase their prowess with sword and shield, as well as lend blessing “Auras” to themselves and to any who join them. They are particularly effective against the Undead, as they know many holy incantations effective against these creatures.
|As might be expected, the devotees of magic are a segregated lot. They are as leery of students of rival disciplines as a layperson is of all arcane practitioners. None, however, are so widely maligned and misunderstood as the Priests of Rathma.
As with most users of magic, the priests of the cult of Rathma hail from the far Eastern Jungles. They reside in a vast underground city located deep within those jungles. Their specific geographical locale is particularly secluded, however, preventing their assimilation into a formal mage clan. But it is this same isolation that has allowed hem to pursue their distinct kind of arcane science. For it is through the teachings of Rathma, as well as through years of research and physical experimentation, that these men have come to understand and hold sacred the delicate balance of life and death and are able to twist the line that borders the two. For although the minions of Hell have long possessed this power, among mortals the knowledge to reanimate and control the dead belongs to these priests alone. It is this practice that has led outsiders to refer to them as Necromancers. They truly comprehend the balance of all things, and understand and accept their place in what they refer to as the Great Cycle of Being.
Their culture has subsisted in the shadow of the great mage clans from the earliest days, and in most ways their practice reaches back to a time before magic was formalized into strict disciplines. Although their art is considered “dark”, and the people of the outside world shun the priests who practice these arts, these mysterious cultists never suffered the epidemic of corruption that plagued the ancient mage clans. Pragmatists in the truest sense, they are above temptation. They see death merely as a natural part of life and do not seek to deny its arrival. Their singular knowledge of the unknown allows them to face death without fear. These ideals, coupled with an understanding of the natural balance between Order and Chaos, explain why they have not fallen prey to the influences of evil.
Their desire to uphold this balance has brought the Necromancers forth from the isolation of their remote, dank homeland to destroy Diablo and his brethren. The mere presence of these Prime Evils on the mortal realm upsets the natural symmetry of not only the mortal realm, but also the Great Cycle of Being itself. The followers of Rathma seek to right the balance by ridding the mortal realms of nonmortal intervention altogether. They resent any force that would treat humans as pawns in a cosmic game, though they apparently are willing to ally with the forces of Order, but only until such time as the balance is restored.
TRAITS AND ABILITIES
Necromancers have the ability to reanimate corpses of most entities and to control the recently dead. The dead release spiritual energies that haunt the mortal realms. The Necromancer can focus these energies, giving them manifestation in the corporeal world. Practitioners of necromancy can curse the very fate of a victim by manipulating the Prime energies flowing through all living things.
|It is said that when the world was very young the tribes of the Northern Steppes were given sacred charge. Somewhere deep within the great mountain Arreat, lies a source of great power, crucial to the well-being of all humanity. The tribes act as guardians of this artifact, and through this sacred duty, have shaped their way of life in observance of this power.
Steeped in mystery and tradition, these people refer to themselves as the Children of Bul-Kathos, the great and ancient king. To better protect their lands from outside forces they adopted a nomadic lifestyle, frequently moving within the confines fo the Steppes and maintaining few permanent settlements. Isolating themselves from the world outside their territories, they eschew the use of magic and complex machinery, as they believe these things can only weaken the resolve developed over so many years.
The Children of Bul-Kathos have developed a kinship with the land and have learned to harness the primal energies in nature to enhance their own substantial physical prowess. Because of this, and their freedom from the trappings of the outside world, the Western Kingdoms has historically referred to these tribes as barbarians, an epithet that belies the rich cultural and spiritual history these people possess. Although some trade with these curious folk, they do so only along the outmost borders of their lands. All intrusions into the territory surrounding Mount Arreat are forbidden, and warriors from the northern tribes are quick to thwart any incursions.
Every attempt at conquest has always been met with fierce and decisive resistance in an account of one skirmish, hordes of Barbarian tribesmen silently appeared where none had been but moments before. Their bodies painted in mysterious designs, the tribesmen descended on the invaders, howling as the charged like the fierce mountain winds. Fully half of the trespassing soldiers immediately dropped their weapons and fled, the remainder were set upon by the Northmen with a fervor that none of the battle-hardened invaders had ever witnessed. No quarter was asked and none was given, but in the end, when the outlanders sounded a full retreat, no chase was given either . . . at least none that could be observed.
It is interesting that recently, since news of Diablo’s re-emergence has spread, a small number of Barbarian warriors has been seen roving the lands outside the Steppes, prepared for war and seeking information regarding the recent activities of the Prime Evils.
TRAITS AND ABILITIES
Renowned for their awesome combat prowess as well as their arrogant demeanor, the Barbarians appear to be perpetually girt for battle. Through harsh conditioning, the Barbarians excel in physical combat and tremendous feats of strength. They derive their power chiefly from intense physical training, but also tap primal energies from the living world around them. They can manifest these or add to their already considerable catalogue of superhuman feats of strength and power.
Amazon | Barbarian | Necromancer | Paladin | Sorceress
|The Amazons are women warriors who hail from a group of islands in the Twin seas, near the border of the Great Ocean. Only the permanently snow-covered peak of Mount Karcheus breaks the expanses of lush forests on the islands.
The Amazons are a relatively isolated culture. Adapting over the centuries to their tropical milleu, they have built magnificent cities in the forest canopy. These cities are an architectural phenomenon and a source of great pride to the Amazons. They do not follow the teachings of the Zakarum, but instead practice a polytheistic religion that adheres to the strict principles of Order. Their oracles long ago predicted the Dark Exile, and they have been preparing to combat it ever since. Amazons regard the destruction of the Three Prime Evils as their destiny, ushering in a new era when mortal men and women, no longer merely playthings for the beings of the Outer Realms, can at long last take their rightful place in the universe.
The Amazons are a seafaring people, one of the first to have made trade contact with both the kingdoms of the West and with Kejhistan in the East. Their prominence in the world’s trade establishment has afforded their warriors the reputation they currently enjoy as cunning strategists and skilled combatants. Much sought after as mercenaries, they are expert soldiers and extremely loyal—as long as the assignment does not conflict with their strict sense of ethics.
There pantheon of gods consists of a well-defined hierarchy, each member upholding some segment of the balance of Order. It is this strong sense of order that drives the Amazon people to achieve greatness in even the smallest of their endeavors. Their prime deity is Athulua, who with her consort, Kethryes, rules over the seasons and the weather. Under these goddesses are a wide assortment of lesser deities. Each responsible for his or her own sphere of influence among the amazon people’s daily life. The Amazons believe this pantheon is the remnant of the original inhabitants that settled the islands centuries ago. According to ancient records, they share the same name as these gods, although aspects of their personalities seem to have evolved over the centuries.
TRAITS AND ABILITIES
The Amazon is more than competent in hand-to-hand combat. Training in the jungles of her native islands have shaped the Amazon’s skill with the bow and missile weapons into one of unparalleled excellence. With the bow, her only rival are the Sisters of the Sightless Eye. But, unless her sisters in arm, the Amazon is also highly adept in the use of spears and other thrown weapons. The powers they possess are a combination of Prime magic, Holy magic and ingenious weapon construction.
“I have walked the paths; the shadowed roads that led to terror’s breast. I have plumbed the depths of Hatred’s womb and scaled Destruction’s crest.
For every secret left unveiled, for every power learned, I’d sell the remnants of my soul, regardless how it burned. And still I sought a higher wisdom few could have attained. Though I found it, it would leave me—broken, damned, drained.
For now I find this power gained is more unto a curse. My spirit burns with every spell and each irreverent verse. Despite this strength and knowledge earned, I have paid a heavy toll, Never should’ve traded power for my own immortal soul.”
- Chris Vincent Metzen