BlizzCon 2013 – Diablo III Lore and Story Q&A Panel Transcript
Fan #12: Hi! I have a religious studies question. It’s pretty clear that you guys have been inspired by a bit of Christianity when creating the story of Diablo. Has there been any other religions that you have been inspired of when creating the story of Diablo at all?
Kindreagan: Well I think… There’s sort of two things. There’s the Diablo Universe as a whole and then there’s a particular story of Diablo III and Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. I mean, obviously the Diablo Universe relies heavily on Judeo-Christan symbols and icons and iconography and all of that. But I think there’s definitely a heavy world religion influence throughout. There’s certain themes that are pulled from lots of different religions. For instance, the monks have a very different non Judeo-Christian take on the world. In terms of the particular narrative of the story, I think the universe has kinda taken on enough of a life of its own that the story that happens in that universe is really drawing upon the universe itself. The things that happen in the story are based on the kind of place that the Diablo Universe is. But in the creation of that universe there is definitely a … you know, I think there’s influences from all the major world religions.
Chu: I know, like, for my part, when I’m approaching, looking at a new culture, class or character, I really think of Diablo’s. It’s very similar to our world, but with some very specific differences. Demons, angels, magic, it’s sort of this awesome dark fantasy realization and so what I like to do a lot of times to draw inspiration from the world and stuff, our history and our beliefs, and then sort of change them or find what’s really interesting about them and then push them a little farther and see what that would be in a darker setting.
Fan #13: I wanted to ask you about Leah’s soul. Tyrael kind of alluded to the fact he hoped that maybe they could be able to have saved her. Are their plans to give us as players the ability to maybe go back and redeem her soul?
Kindreagan: I feel bad when you’ve got a bunch of writers on the stage and the lot of answers tend to be: “We’re not gonna say.” We’re always trying to figure out how to share really fun story information with you, without actually spoiling things that might happen. So, I would just say that right now we don’t have any plans to revisit what happened with Leah. I think one thing I always feel with major characters that have suffered a sad fate in-game is just that for that fate to have any meaning it has to exist for a while. I worked on Starcraft for years and right after Wings of Liberty came out everybody asked us: When is Tychus coming back? And the answer is: if he came back right away, then it wouldn’t mean anything. So, Leah is definitely on our radar; but we’re not looking into doing anything with her right now.
Omacron: So, I’ve read through the Book of Tyrael on the plane here; and I know also in the cinematic you’ve released there’s a lot of talk about nephalem ruins under Westmarch. And that got me thinking. Are the nephalem — we’ve talked about them as a race of powerful beings. Did they have a culture that’s distinct from the culture we see on Sanctuary now? Was there more than one nephalem culture? Did they have unique architecture, did the have writing or are they pre-literate culture? Is there anything you could tell us about the lives of these incredibly powerful beings and then maybe when they notice their power going away, did that effect their culture in any way?
Kindreagan: Absolutely, that’s a great question. I mean … This is one I feel like almost everybody on this panel probably has some good stuff to contribute, and I’m going to kick it to Justin to start, then invite the rest of these crazy folks to jump in.
Parker: Well, for starters at the grand temple when they realized that their powers were fading they were obviously scared enough to make deals, panic, hide out. As far as the multiple cultures go, they were around a long time ago, it’s hard to tell I know, and in some things it seem sit was really brief, but that was to angels and demons who were, at very least very long lived, if not completely immortal. As far as the actual details of the cultures, I’m gonna throw that back to …
Boyarski: I’ll jump in here. The ancients were the first nephalem. So if you think of Bul-Kathos versus other nephalem — they had very different cultures. They were technically brothers, but they developed along different lines. Bul-Kathos, I don’t think any of them were preliterate per se, because they were, it was a very strange childhood, but they were raised by angels and demons. And angels and demons are very intelligent creatures in different ways. So they did each have, there were a bunch of different cultures, there is Bul-Kathos and all the other ancients. That did influence different parts of the world that they came from especially, the most direct correlations from Bul-Kathos to the Barbarians. Anybody else has anything to add?
Chu: Valerie, I think you’ve done some work on how the nephalem felt when they started to become less powerful.
Watrous: Yes, if you can imagine a race of people who begin at their golden age essentially and then everything goes downhill from there. That’s pretty much what happened after Inarius changed the worldstone. These people who are used to their power and their knowledge, their children were born weaker and weaker and some didn’t survive, so it was just this crushing development for them which led to the splintering of these civilizations and what was essentially a dark age for the people of Sanctuary in which their powers were lost and their tradition was lost and only now in the events of Diablo III is that power coming back to humanity.
Chu: I also think in Reaper of Souls you will see a little bit more of the ancient nephalem culture and I think what’s truly interesting the lens in which you see through at this point is, there’s this really ancient culture that is sort of related to us. But they have all this architecture and the stuff they’ve left behind and it seem familiar to us because we share that bond with them. It’s also sort of a kind of weird and unknowable, there’s that aspect we’d really like to play out, the mystery.
Boyarski: I think that the other interesting aspect that we touched on slightly. But when it was first described in the Diablo Manuals and even in Diablo III… you get a feeling when the worldstone was attuned to reduce their powers, that somehow everybody over the whole of Sanctuary knew about it. That’s just not the case in societies that don’t have … There isn’t this big gathering where they say: “Hey. We’re gonna turn the worldstone down, you guys are all gonna lose your powers.” Some other cultures knew what was going on and some of them thought they were being struck by some bizzare plague or they did not understand why their children were sickly to them which would be probably still be superhuman to us.
Fan #15:: Hello! Who are the gods that the monks pray to and are they influenced by the angels?
Kindreagan: That’s a question for Michael.
Chu: Yes, the monks have this belief system that has tons and tons of gods. They see gods in everything. There’s the god of the forest, there’s the god of the river, there’s the god of abstract concepts, they have just basically a god for everything. And the intention is that there is the idea that there are these gods of order and then there are also gods of chaos which if you are observing you’ll think there are some sort of similarity to what’s going on in the overall story of the universe. That is intended. It’s sort of like … I always like to think of it as the religion of the monks that they have really small glimpse into the greater reality and that’s sort of what their foundation, their beliefs are founded on.
Boyarski: I think that goes for a lot of cultures. They kind of have, going back to the religion question from earlier, I think a lot of them either from cultural knowledge that’s been past down or just guys meditating in the hills and actually getting visions. I think they interpret, each culture has their own interpretation what happened, how the world was created and what their gods are. For instance, the witch doctor communes with spirits, but he doesn’t get a clear message from them. But, he is communing with actual dead spirits and he is getting a partial story of what went on and it’s just sort of the different ways, how different cultures interpret what actually happened in history.
Fan #16: Hi, what’s going on with Adria? Is she still backing up Diablo or is she behind Malthael, or she went back to her lair to plan evil plans again? What’s going on with her?
Kindreagan: Ooh, Adria! Well, … Let’s have … I didn’t want to throw two questions in a row for Michael, but let’s have Michael answer that.
Chu: Adria is a very interesting character. She’s obviously ticked us off all a little bit with what she’s been up to. We’ve definitely not forgotten about her. And her time will come.
Kindreagan: (echoes: Her time will come.) She … I think we can safely say that she is definitely still a disciple of Diablo. She is nothing if not tenacious, that one.
Chu: I would go so far to say she has an unhealthy obsession with Diablo.
Fan #17: Hey guys! Mine is a two part question. Does the Angiris Council have the ability to reinstate Tyrael as angel and if he had been, do you feel he would’ve wiped the floor with Malthael?
Kindreagan: I’ll take the second one first, actually. If Tyrael had been an angel during the cinematic, he would’ve been able to put out a more of a struggle against Malthael, but he would not have been able to wipe the floor with Malthael. In fact, I think the events of the cinematic still would’ve played out the same way. Malthael was obviously, as a member of Angiris Council in the past, one of the most powerful angels around. Since his transformation he has become far more powerful. I don’t know if we’ve said this publicly yet, but I think we can that he feeds on the souls of the dead. Even during that cinematic when he is taking in the souls of the Horadrim, he’s growing more powerful by the second. And so as an immensely powerful being that is able to continue to grow his power, he’s is kinda gone to a whole new level. So he is a far above the other angels at this point. That fight still would’ve ended the same way.
Fan #17: And then for reinstating him as an angel? Is that possible?
Kindreagan: That depends. Do you mean in terms of actually causing him to transform back into an angel?
Fan #17: Yeah, like, he would lose his physical form, put the hood back on and just become an ultimate badass again?
Boyarski: No, I don’t think the Angiris Council has that ability necessarily. We haven’t fully explored that yet. But really I would think that, again as with character deaths, I think that Tyrael’s sacrifice to have true meaning has to be something that is either impossible to reverse or at least extremely hard. It would take more than a vote of a couple of angels.
Chu: He’s gotta have like a Horadric (###) too?
Kindreagan: Oh, clearly, yeah.