Diablo 3 Lore & Story Guide
Underneath Tristram, Diablo works assiduously to corrupt his Soulstone. Eventually, he is given the perfect opportunity: Tristram becomes the capital of Khanduras, and seat of its king, Leoric. Drawn by the power of the Soulstone, the king’s closest advisor, Archbishop Lazarus, delves deep into the catacombs of Tristram Cathedral and discovers Diablo, who corrupts him.
Diablo needs a mortal body to escape from his prison, and attempts to corrupt King Leoric, who proves too strong (although he is made insane by the attempt). Seeking a weaker host, Diablo manipulates Lazarus into bringing the king’s son Albrecht into the catacombs, and corrupts the young prince in his father’s stead — Lazarus inserts the Soulstone into the prince’s forehead.
At this point, all Hell literally breaks loose, as Diablo begins summoning demons to abet his return to physical form. Leoric’s maddened behavior causes further chaos, and the Archbishop emerges from the catacombs and tricks the townsfolk into entering the Cathedral, where he sacrifices them to a demon known as The Butcher (memorable for his terrifying rallying cry “Fresh Meat!”).
In Diablo I, the player character must enter the catacombs beneath the cathedral and defeat The Butcher, Lazarus, Leoric, and eventually Diablo. The game’s final cutscene shows a defeated Diablo transforming back into Prince Albrecht, and the victorious hero inserting the Soulstone into his own forehead, in an attempt to contain the Prime Evil. This leads directly to the events of Diablo II.
Diablo II has a whopping three stories: one, a frame story played out in cutscenes; second, a story-within-a-story in those cutscenes; and finally, the events experienced by the player character.
In the frame story. Marius, a pathetic, wizened old man, is visited by a hooded figure, who treats him kindly, claims to be the Archangel Tyrael, and asks him to explain how he ended up in such a wretched state. The story-within-a-story begins in a tavern, where a younger Marius drinks idly until another hooded stranger staggers in. Mocked by the other patrons, this stranger (known as the Dark Wanderer) suddenly loses control, unleashing a violent outburst of demonic energy that destroys the bar and everyone inside, except – by accident? By coincidence? – Marius.
The Dark Wanderer, as it turns out, is the Warrior class from the first game, who has become corrupted by Diablo’s Soultone, which is still lodged somewhere in his forehead. What’s more, in preparation for Diablo 3, Blizzard have given him a name and a backstory: he is Aidan, King Leoric’s eldest son, a powerful warrior who also fathers the Diablo 3 NPC Leah with Adria, a Tristram Witch.
Throughout the cutscenes of Diablo II, Marius follows the Dark Wanderer, who is compelled by Diablo’s Soulstone to free the other Prime Evils. The Wanderer goes his about his business tirelessly, even as his demonic corruption becomes more and more apparent. After passing through the desert city of Lut Gholein, his first main stop is the Tomb of Tal’Rasha, where he battles the Archangel Tyrael in an attempt to free Baal. In the confusion, Baal tricks Marius into removing the Soulstone from Tal’Rasha’s mutated body, freeing the Prime Evil’s spirit. Marius, at the bidding of Tyrael, escapes with the Soulstone; Baal and Diablo subdue Tyrael and chain him up in the tomb.
After the completion of the game’s third act, another cutscene shows the Dark Wanderer and Baal rendezvousing with Mephisto, who has already corrupted the Zakarum priests who were his captors. Casting off his human form, Diablo manifests in all his bright-red, spiky gory, and together, the three open a portal to hell, which Diablo enters.
Throughout the game, the player follows in the Dark Wanderer’s footsteps. Beginning near the Rogue Monastery, he or she defeats the Lesser Evils Andariel in Act I and Duriel in Act II, freeing Tyrael from Tal’Rasha’s tomb in the process. This is followed in Act III by a showdown with Mephisto, who has remains in the Zakarum Temple to guard the gate to the Burning Hells. Retrieving Mephisto’s Soulstone, the player enters Hell itself in Act IV, intent on destroying the Baal’s Soulstone (at a special location in the Burning Hells known as the Hellforge) and defeating Diablo, retrieving and destroying his Soulstone as well. With these tasks completed, the main game ends.
The cutscene that ensues is a return to the frame story. Marius sits grovelling in his cell as he finishes his tale. The hooded figure asks benignly for the Soulstone, which it turns out Marius still has (Tyrael asked him to destroy it, but the old reprobate never got around to it). Thinking he is giving the Soulstone to Tyrael, Marius reluctantly hands it over, only to learn that he has been tricked! The hooded figure is actually Baal! Roll credits.
This colossal failure directly introduces the events of Diablo II’s expansion pack, Lord of Destruction, which centers around the newly-resurrected Baal’s attempts to corrupt the Worldstone using the power of his Soulstone. Baal invades the Barbarian lands surrounding Mount Arreat, which houses the Worldstone. The player pursues him through the invasion’s aftermath, eventually confronting and defeating the Lord of Destruction in the shadow of the Worldstone itself.
Unfortunately, these efforts are in vain. By the time Baal is defeated, he has already corrupted the Worldstone beyond repair. Tyrael is forced to destroy it, theoretically erasing the boundary between the Burning Hells and Sanctuary in the process. In a sense, the Prime Evils achieve their plan, rendering Sanctuary vulnerable to demonic invasion. And yet, the expected invasion does not arrive. 20 years pass, uneventfully, while citizens of Sanctuary wait for the other foot to drop.
No one’s quite sure what form the story of Diablo III will take, but its obvious that the long-awaited Demonic invasion will commence, in some form, led by Belial and Azmodan, the two heads of Tathamet that have not featured in a game so far. One assumes they have been getting arrogant and powerful in the absence of the Prime Evils they deposed.
After visiting the Burning Hells in Diablo II, Act IV, Diablo III will give players access to the High Heavens for the first time — during Act IV, the speculation suggests — though the story context for this is not yet clear.
Leah, daughter of Aidan (aka the Dark Wanderer) also has an important role to play, although again, the specifics are a carefully guarded secret. You’ll have to play the game to find out! Until then, we hope that this Lore Guide has proved useful.
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