Diablo II: Lore Guide
To play and enjoy any of the Diablo games, you don't have to be familiar with the mythology of its universe. You see a monster, you kill it and take its loot. That is the main loop of the game. It is so simple and yet remarkably engaging.
However, if you want to be immersed in its story and understand the characters you meet while you journey in the game, it is best to gain an insight into Diablo's lore.
The Mythology of the Diablo Universe
The Diablo franchise has a rich mythology. It didn't start like this, though. Between Diablo I and Diablo II, Blizzard developed most of the background history that formed the backbone of its lore. And by the time that Diablo III was released, this body of mythology is so extensive that it is comparable in breadth and depth with the mythologies of the ancient past.
One thing that makes the Diablo mythology special is how familiar it to us - it involves the concepts of angels and demons, heaven and hell, monsters and saviors, and other ideas that are already common knowledge to most people.
The Creation Myth - Anu and the Dragon Tathamet
Hence, like the mythologies of the past, it only fits that we begin with how it all started, the creation story.
In the beginning, there is only a single instance of creation, a perfect pearl. Within that pearl resides a might spirit, called the One, Anu. Within Anu lies everything we can think of - happiness and sadness, light and dark, physical and mystical, even good and evil.
To achieve a state of total purity, this singular god desired to remove his duality and cast-off all its negative qualities. These removed parts combined into one being of pure evil and became the creature called the Beast. The seven-headed Dragon named Tathamet.
The two gods, Anu and Tathamet, pure good and pure evil, fought each other for millennia until finally they delivered the final blow to each other and bought perished. Their death caused an explosion that gave birth to the entire universe and all the creatures within it.
Pandemonium and the Worldstone
At the center of this universe is a place called Pandemonium. And at the center of Pandemonium is the massive jewel called the Heart of Creation, also known as the Eye of Anu, the Worldstone. This jewel has control of both reality and time. It is the most powerful artifact of the Diablo universe.
The High Heavens and the Burning Hells
The High Heavens
From the body of Anu, from his spine, came forth what is known as the Crystal Arch. And around the Crystal Arch, sprang what is known as the High Heavens. The Arch gave birth to the creatures called angels. The manifestations of Anu's purest aspects, the archangels, formed the Angiris Council.
The Angiris Council
The Angiris Council governs the High Heavens and all the angels. They consist of five ruling members:
- Imperius, the Aspect of Valor
- Tyrael, the Aspect of Justice
- Auriel, the Aspect of Hope
- Malthael, the Aspect of Wisdom
- Itherael, the Aspect of Fate
The Burning Hells
From the body of Tathamet, came forth what is known as the Burning Hells, in which demons of all forms sprang forth. The seven heads of the Beast became the seven Evils.
The Prime Evils
The three strongest became known as the Prime Evils. Together with the remaining four, they ruled over all the demons, similar to how the Angiris Council ruled over all angels.
- Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred
- Baal, the Lord of Destruction
- Diablo, the Lord of Terror
The Lesser Evils
The Lesser Evils are four in number. Though they are labeled as "Lesser," they are nonetheless considered by Deckard Cain as more dangerous to humans than the "Primes."
- Azmodan, the Lord of Sin
- Belial, the Lord of Lies
- Duriel, the Lord of Pain
- Andariel, the Maiden of Anguish
The Eternal Conflict
Similar to how Anu and Tathamet clashed and battled each other, the High Heavens and the Burning Hells fought continuously in what is known as the Eternal Conflict, an endless war between the armies of good and evil.
Both sides desire for the complete control of the Worldstone, as this artifact gives them the power of creation. Hence, most of the battles in their never-ending war occurred in Pandemonium. The ownership of the Worldstone has passed from both sides, depending on whoever has the upper hand in their conflict.
The Creation of Sanctuary
Inarius and Lilith
With the war being eternal, some members of both sides became weary and tired of the conflict. The leader of this faction in the High Heavens was the angel named Inarius, who became disillusioned with the Eternal Conflict and had viewed it as unjust. He found an equal partner in the Burning Hells, the demoness Lilith, daughter of Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred.
Together they gathered like-minded followers, from angels and demons of both sides. Inarius and Lilith, with their followers, wanted to create a world where they can coexist and spend eternity in peace. To achieve this, Inarius altered the frequency of the Worldstone, enabling him to conceal it from the eyes of both the Heavens and the Hells. Then, with Lilith, they created Sanctuary, their own paradise where harmony for both sides is possible.
The Rise of the Nephalem
In Sanctuary, angels and demons commingled and produced offsprings called the nephalem. Similar to the original Anu, being creatures of both good and evil, the nephalem were mightier than the angels and the demons.
The first generations of the nephalem were called the ancients. In time, they grew in population and spread throughout Sanctuary.
Some of the remarkable ancients are:
- Bul-Kathos, ancestor of the barbarians
- Vasily, ancestor of the druids
- Esu, patron of the sorceress
- Rathma, patron of the necromancers
The early nephalem were so powerful that Inarius and his followers feared that they might affect the balance of the Eternal Conflict and cause havoc in the universe. Also, it will only be a matter of time before such powerful creatures get discovered by either the Heavens or the Hells.
Most of the followers of Inarius favored the destruction of the nephalem. Inarius bought time to decide their fate.
Lilith soon discovered the intent of Inarius and his followers towards her offspring. She went on a rampage and slaughtered all of the angels and demons in Sanctuary, except for Inarius.
In turn, Inarius, still having the power over the Worldstone, banished Lilith from Sanctuary. He did not, however, continue with his plan of destroying the nephalem. He attuned the Worldstone such that it will cause the nephalem to diminish in power over time. Afterwards, Inarius disappeared, hidden in Sanctuary for millennia.
Generations passed, and the nephalem indeed became weaker - their powers disappeared, and their life spans decreased, in turn becoming mere mortals, without awareness of their history or heritage.