BlizzCon 2013 – Diablo III Lore and Story Q&A Panel Transcript
Thunderclaww: What happens to the human souls after they’re killed? Where did Deckard Cain’s soul or essence go?
Kindreagan: Well, we haven’t said where souls go. And I think at the moment we’re not gonna explore that too much. I don’t think we are ready to reveal the ultimate destination of human souls. But, I will say since the advent of Malthael, unfortunately a whole lot of human souls have not gone where they were supposed to. They’ve ended up being consumed by Malthael. You’ll see that specially throughout the beginning of Reaper of Souls, as Malthael’s minions are slaughtering people by the thousands and sending their souls off to Malthael, and he grows even more and more and more powerful. That’s part of the horror of what’s going on. It’s not just that people are dying, but that their souls were actually being consumed.
Fan #19: In the Diablo series, the hero or the player just doesn’t seem to really ever end up getting much love and Diablo won, he takes the soulstone on his head, and ends up being Diablo; and in Diablo II you go into some portal, says Hero’s End. And in Diablo III, Tyrael takes all the excitement. I’m wondering what happens to the hero in Diablo II? He goes to Heroes’ End, and first of all where is he going? Because I kinda of taught that maybe he should have showed up and whatever character you picked in Diablo III, you would’ve said: Oh since you’ve been gone all this has happened, we need you to be our hero again?
Kindreagan: For the … There was a couple of questions in there. For the answer to what happened to the hero of Diablo II, in terms of … their ultimate thing with the portal, I’ll ask Justin to answer that and then we’ll take the other parts of your question.
Parker: We haven’t answered any of this specifically. Obviously, we haven’t said that the sorceress did this or did that except for the necromancer who apparently had an apprentice — Mehtan. But generally speaking when you face the Prime Evils (or in this case later on the Lesser Evils), it’s very tiring. Most people either die, go insane or get corrupted. So, they probably needed a break from this and needed to pass it on to the next generation.
Boyarski: That was a good answer.
Kindreagan: And then, as to the heroes in Diablo III, about sort of not getting as much love and Tyrael taking a lot of the coolest moments. One of the things that we struggled with, and I mean this is just a technical answer to a story question, is that we can’t show your character in the cinematics because they won’t look like your character, you know. We could show at the origin, at the beginning of Diablo III we can show of the classes because you’re just in the basic underwear that you are gonna be wearing outside of New Tristram. But, once you start equipping your character we wanna make sure that if they appear on screen and you’re seeing them do something in a cinematic or whatever that it looks like your character and not just generic female barbarian number 6. So, we’re not able to actually show your character and that is a huge storytelling limitation for us. And it’s one that I think after Diablo III came out and we all played the game many, many times and of course saw all the feedback from the community and really when you work on something you get a strong sense that as soon as it’s out the door of things that you could’ve done better or all of that. But those are lessons that you can only learn by making the thing in the first place and making mistakes. So I think we really felt like in Reaper of Souls, given accepting that we still have that limitation of showing your character in a cinematic (about not showing them), we wanted to find a lot of ways to make your character more important to the story and not just feel like hired muscle, you know. Like a bunch of smart people get together and say: “Someone should go kill that monster!“ and then you show up and you go kill the monster, right? That’s what we wanted to make sure didn’t happen. So, we’ve been looking in a lot of different ways to try to make sure that your character is central to the story and feels like one of the main movers and shakers who’s driving this story forward.
Chu: And I actually did want to add back to the fist question about the Diablo II heroes. There is actually at least one Diablo II hero which you can find out the fate of in. We had these expanded short stories for the new hero classes and one of the fates is revealed in there.
Kindreagan: He’s not gonna tell you which, so you have to go read them all.
Boyarski: It was the sorceress. At one point in — and we even announced it, that the Barbarian was supposed to be the Barbarian from Diablo II. And as we were progressing in making the game we just found that we had to explain so much differently for a character that had experienced it versus characters that were new on the scene that it was kind of cluttering things up. And we have tried to find different places to reveal some of these stories and just wanna say it’s something we’re still working on and thinking about. The best way to do it without interjecting these things from the left field out of the story.
Kindreagan: You didn’t wanna constantly have something that the monk didn’t know that the male Barbarian does. And then, whoever is playing the male Barbarian doesn’t get that explanation because their character should know that already.
Fan #20: Hi, guys! I have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. The first one is for Michael, so Covetous Shen is a really awesome character. He’s really interesting and seems to be mysterious. Do you have any more plans for him or any background to add in the expansion?
Boyarski: The answer is: absolutely yes! And I think Michael can elaborate on that.
Chu: Covetous Shen is indeed a very mysterious character. I would actually go so far to say his defining characteristics are either his mysteriousness or his hunger. But it’s pretty close. We definitely love our side characters, we love the artisans, we love the Followers, and we definitely plan on going into more detail in all of their back stories, because obviously in Diablo III we just sort of started introducing these characters to you. And I think we can actually talk about the fact that there are going to be some adventures that you can actually go on with your follower characters. I’m sure actually, we all like to talk to about them, so I’ll mention one of them is, you all get to find out a little bit more about Eirena and the Prophet and the mystery of what happened to her sisters. Possibly Covetous Shen might get a little bit of fun, too. But you’ll definitely find out more about him.
Kindreagan: There’s that jewel he’s been looking for. Something about that may …
Chu: He’s looking for that jewel and he probably wants to try out some restaurants in Westmarch. Tough, he might not have too much luck.
Kindreagan: But the key thing I think is that rather than talking to your followers and artisans and hearing about their backstory, sort of after the fact, I mean, you still talk to them quite a bit. But, their story is actually advanced during the Reaper of Souls, and you’re actually able to go on certain adventures with them and sort of help their story advance. I don’t know, Leonard or Valerie, if you wanna jump in and mention anything?
Watrous: Has anyone here wondered if the Thieves Guild will actually ever find you? Because, I think they will.
Boyarski: And the Templar, what’s a little upset with the order at this point. And he is fixed to do something about it?
Fan # 20: Sounds very cool! Which leads me to my next question – Kingsport. This Scoundrel is driven me nuts, always bragging about Kingsport. So when are we gonna see it?
Kindreagan: When will we get to see Kingsport? Valerie, what do you think?
Watrous: Well, you get to go to Westmarch which is a very, very close to Kingsport. Unfortunately, you are very busy in Westmarch so you don’t quite have time for that side trip, but because you are very close to the Scoundler’s little stomping grounds, you run into quite a bit of action concerning his story, and his past and certain barmaids with chicken feathers.
Chu: I really think he might have been exaggerating how nice Kinsport is too … He’s been known to do that.
Boyarski: It does have a lot of style, it’s a bit of a dump, honestly.
Fan #21: Hi! Okay. Originally I wanted to ask about druids; but I came up with something better. The End of Days prophecy. It is entirely dualistic in meaning, isn’t it? Dualistic in meaning. Like people assume that the events of Diablo III vanilla was the prophecy kicking off and now Malthael is death expanding its wings. But what if it is not? What if it’s tougher than that. After all evils are reunited?
Kindreagan: That’s a very interesting insight. I would say prophecy is almost always multilayered in meaning, you know. I think it’s the nature of a good prophecy at least that as events happen people go: “Oh, that’s what that was!” and then they discover that it actually goes much deeper than that and there’s more to it. And I sense Leonard wants to say something.
Boyarski: No, I’m fine.
Kindreagan: I said sensed wrongly.
Chu: That wasn’t a good prophecy. (laugh)
Kindreagan: But I would say that death spreading its wings is pretty indicative of Malthael. But there could be a lot more to it, for sure.
Fan #22: Good evening, my question is very similarly. Are you guys writing the rest of the story based on the Prophecy of the End Days?
Kindreagan: Well, I think … The prophecy certainly plays a part in the story. It’s kind of almost in way the insiding incident. This is what kicked off these events and this is what is supposed to happen according to this prophecy. But, the thing is the events of the story are influenced by the people who are living that story and who are going through it. What’s particularly forceful in all of this is the hero character. It’s your character, right? They’re not going to just let events unfold as they are supposed to. They’re going to kind of change the entire paradigm, if you will.
Boyarski: As we noted in Diablo III, the Nephalem aren’t in the Books of Fate. So basically the character represents this giant monkey wrench thrown into the mix here, so who knows what’s gonna, what kind of a direction he’s gonna set it off or she’s gonna set it off into.
Chu: No. That was a good answer.
Fan# 22: My second question is: Is Inarius still alive? Inarius?
Kindreagan: Inarius? Or that’s how I say it. But I’m terrible at pronunciation. Ahm, Justin?
Parker: Last thing we heard he was being tortured in Hell, while Mephisto has been busy for a good, long time and then later a little bit killed, I’m sure you had someone to look after Inarius for him, he really didn’t like Inarius.
Kindreagan: So unfortunately for Inarius, yes, he is still alive.
Fan #23: Hi, again. I wanted to get your opinion on, there is some debate that came about on Zoltun Kulle’s moral ambiguity. I wanted to know if you guys did that intentionally or what your opinion on it is, because when I played it, I kind of agreed with him, maybe your plan wouldn’t be that bad.
Kindreagan: Right, right, I think that Michael can speak to that.
Chu: Yeah, so Zoltun Kulle, this one does comes up a lot. So, I guess at a basic level, it comes down to whether or not you agree to letting this guy, who is so dangerous — you know the Horadrim took him apart and couldn’t kill him — and whether or not you think that sort of giving him the keys to ruling the world is a good idea or not. I definitely think that what we were going for with that particular character was to sort of come up with this ambiguous character though. At certain times you really think: “Hey, he kinda has a good point.” I think that at his core Zoltun Kulle is all about humans, he’s all about man, he thinks that, you know, angels and demons are all … They can’t be trusted, they don’t have our best interest at heart. The only problem is that, he may also not necessarily have our best interests at heart.
Kindreagan: He thinks … Humanity is the best thing ever, but among humans, he thinks he’s the best thing ever. So, part of that equation is maybe not so good for the rest of us.
Boyarski: But I think you’re correct. We were playing with your mind.
Kindreagan: Yeah, I would say, just more broadly, you know a lot of our stories in our games are obviously about a fight for survival and a fight against overwhelming odds and a lot of times that broader struggle doesn’t have room for a whole lot of ambiguity in it, because you want to be fighting against somebody that is, from your point of view at least, evil, right? But any time we can find a place to introduce moral ambiguity or just even more specifically something where there’s, I guess I would say valid arguments all around, and it’s a chance for players to think like I maybe think this guy is not so bad. Or to even argue with each other. We always love that. Anytime we can have people, you know sort of arguing with each other about what was the best thing to do or who was right and who was wrong, then I think that shows a greater level of engagement with the story.
Chu: Also can you imagine if you just let him go, he would just be following you around for the rest of the game Reaper of Souls always piping in, always have some comment about something, you’d have to laugh, you’d have to laugh a lot.
Fan #23: Hi. So, at the end of the first game, Diablo III that is, you see in the cinematic the Black Soulstone falling out of heaven and fall into something looking like the ocean below. And in the beginning of the Reaper of the souls cinematic you see Tyrael picking it up in heaven. What’s the story there? Where’s the story on how Tyrael got this soulstone?
Kindreagan: So, it actually was, heaven is a tiered place and it was actually falling off one of the tiers and just further into heaven and just landed on another lower tier. I know that is not necessarily as clear as it could be, but really there’s just tiers all the way down. And so the angels retrieved the soulstone, because obviously they couldn’t just leave it laying about anywhere and so as you saw at the beginning of the cinematic, they brought it into the council chamber and kept it there for safekeeping; and then we actually have a novel coming out that will detail Tyrael’s journey into realizing that he had to reform the Horadrim and get the Black Soulstone out of heaven. So, there’s an entire story there that happens between the events of Diablo III and Reaper of Souls. Oh, and its’ called Diablo III: Storm of Light.