More Totally Unnecessary Character Backstory – Diablo IV Necromancer

A short story set in the world of Diablo IV

Beyond the sealed door of the buried temple a series of stairs descended from the aboveground world like a runaway blasphemous thought. Corizande stepped lightly, her skeletal minions matching her quiet step for step. She followed a whisper, the unquiet dead. A distant friend she had seen fall in a dream who now haunted her. The compulsion had led her here on the trail of whatever demon had slain him.

              The dust suspended in the still air did not yield for them, resisting the slightest breeze as if even the air was dead down here. The only illumination other than her conjured light was a soft glow from green mineral veins that permeated the stone around them. Unlike the manmade mines and temple above, the underworld below seemed untouched since the old gods had hewn it.

              Reaching a landing in the subterranean cavern she commanded her light ahead of her, examining the precisely cut stone floor marked with a massive metal seal, imprinted by forgotten magic into a mural of the demon whose voice Corizande knew. Corizande’s book of spells hovered in the air over her open hand, pages turning by her thoughts. The silence here was imperfect, the air thick with a scent like iron and filth, some she recognized as the cruel Fallen that had spilled from the depths into the valley throughout the long winter. Corizande knew she was not alone.

              She pulled the loom woven cloth armor tight over her shoulders, its pale blue from dye a secret only her coven knew. Sewn into it and her long gloves were ancient coins of bronze inscribed with forbidden verses. Together they radiated a formidable shield, strong enough to protect her from the common threats of the worn roads of home at least. Against the hordes of Hell, it had been barely enough to get her this far. To her credit, her devotion to dark magic also afforded her a personal guard of animated dead, her skeletal skirmishers and hollow-eyed spellcasters. Against the Fallen she often needed not raise a finger herself to fight, but whatever fiend had drawn her colleague here was anything but common hellspawn. Somewhere in the dark lurked a much more powerful foe.

              Not ten paces beyond the seal Corizande found the first signs she had been looking for: piled corpses of Fallen and cursed beasts torn, frozen or incinerated by the high magic of a sorcerer. This was the work of her lost friend, a trail of destruction that bore his signature appetite for destructive elemental forces. She recalled his kind dark eyes, warm smile and infectious laughter. He was an arrogant son of a bitch, but had treated her with uncommon respect which earned her friendship. Today she repaid that respect by finding the monster that had been his match.

              The carnage led her room after room of the same, her minions dispatching stragglers and other lesser Fallen lurking about to loot the dead. The trail led lower until she encountered a series of previously sealed gates that now lay open. Dried blood magic runes on the floor betrayed the nature of the foe she pursued, along with strange, scattered petals. They were red like roses but made the hair of her neck stand on end. The sensation felt like creeping madness, but one that bore dark wings and had heavy cloven footsteps. Not just any demon, but one she knew. The same on the seal she passed as she entered; Lilith. Daughter of Hatred.

              Finally she arrived at the bottom of the cavern, a dark lake that suffocated the last beam of her magic light until only pale ambience remained. A long polished stone path extended over the edge of the lake, like an unfinished bridge between worlds. The floor was covered by interconnected blood runes, some of them still wet. At the far end of the open space she could see a figure knelt, back facing her as they continued inscribing the summoning spell. A barrier of blood magic surrounded the figure, who was breathing erratically. As Corizande approached she could make out it was a woman not many years older than her, seemingly driven mad by the same demonic voices. Nearby was the broken body of her friend, his staff shattered not far from his lifeless hands.

              The woman, who was stammering under her breath to someone Corizande could not see, glanced at her nervously and hurried to continue her blood inscription. Corizande’s skeletal guard drew close around her as movement began increasing beyond the edge of her waning light. Corizande turned her wand to the body of her friend.

              “Speak’, she uttered. A faint image of her friend appeared like a spirit above him, but beyond the veil he was unable to reply. He simply signed thank you and nodded his head in a final act of parting.

              Corizande was not numb to the sting of grief at the sight. She blinked away fresh tears and fought a well of emotion as the clamor of approaching monsters grew louder. The woman started laughing as the blood runes on the floor began to glow bright red. Swirling clouds of choking darkness rushed into the space, forming a horde of demons flanked by beasts, winged succubus and a towering monstrosity wielding a blade of bones. His weapon crashed into the shields of her skeletal soldiers even before his hooves touched the stone. The chaos grew into a deafening pitch as her spellcasters rained dark bolts on her enemies. She pointed her wand at her departed friend.

              “Rise, and be avenged”

So, I asked Bing AI to write a character backstory

This is a bit of a departure from my usual content, but I could not resist sharing the results. I asked the Bing AI to write an example of a character backstory for a Rogue in Diablo IV. I do not know the data set it is trained on or whose work it may have dredged to create this, but I was impressed at how specific it got. What follows is the output from my single sentence prompt, no edits.

Your name is Zara, a female human rogue who specializes in Exploit Weakness and Shadow Imbuement. You were born in the city of Westmarch, where you grew up as an orphan on the streets. You learned to survive by stealing, lying, and fighting. You also developed a keen sense of observation and a knack for finding and exploiting your enemies’ weak spots.

One day, you caught the eye of a mysterious woman named Lilith, who offered you a place in her secret cult. She promised you power, wealth, and freedom in exchange for your loyalty and service. You accepted, hoping to find a new purpose and a new family. You became one of her most trusted agents, carrying out her orders and spreading her influence across Sanctuary.

You learned to imbue your weapons with shadow magic, making them more deadly and unpredictable. You also mastered the art of creating shadow clones, which you used to confuse and ambush your foes. You enjoyed the thrill of hunting down and eliminating Lilith’s enemies, whether they were demons, angels, or humans. You felt no remorse or pity for your victims, only satisfaction and pride.

However, as time went on, you began to notice that Lilith was not what she seemed. She was cruel, manipulative, and obsessed with her own agenda. She cared nothing for you or the other cultists, only for her own power and glory. She also had a dark secret that she kept hidden from everyone: she was the daughter of Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred, and the mother of the Nephalem, the first humans.

You realized that Lilith was using you and the other cultists as pawns in her grand scheme to overthrow the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, and to create a new world order under her rule. You also learned that she was planning to unleash a terrible evil upon Sanctuary: the Worldstone, a powerful artifact that could shape reality itself. She intended to corrupt it with her blood and use it to create an army of loyal Nephalem who would serve her as gods.

You decided that you had enough of Lilith’s lies and tyranny. You resolved to stop her before it was too late. You gathered some allies who shared your doubts and suspicions, and prepared to confront Lilith at her lair. You knew it would be a dangerous and suicidal mission, but you had nothing left to lose. You hoped to find redemption for your sins, or at least a worthy death.

Bing AI

Diablo IV Beta Impressions

Returning to Hell? Bring a friend.

Following the lessons of transitioning Diablo from PC to Console and adapting it for regular new content and seasonal activities, the team at Activision-Blizzard set out to build a new experience from the ground up for the current generation of game systems. The result is far from just a new coat of paint on an old dungeon crawler. What begins with a hint of the familiar during character creation around a campfire quickly leaps into something new, something bigger. These are my impressions, followed by some feedback from both my wife and I.

Diablo 4 establishes itself right away as different, from the way the story is told to the scale of the world we arrive in. To say that the game is darker is both an understatement and an oversimplification. The world is more detailed and densely populated, both with foes and things and places to discover. Familiar enemies seem more dangerous, and the puzzles feel fresh.

My wife and I both chose the second tier of difficulty as we had played the previous titles on higher difficulty and found the challenge was worthy. It felt tuned to be just on the cusp of too difficult to play solo, and ideal in a party of two. The dungeons, bosses and some elites are significantly harder than Diablo 3, requiring much more attention to gear and skill choice earlier in the game. It adds up to gameplay that is immediately engaging and difficult to put down. We spent most of the weekend playing and felt like we had barely scratched the surface.

Diablo 4 is also a feast for the ears. I love the choice of haunting music and ambient sounds. The effects feel more dramatic, the hits land harder. The audio team really outdid themselves in weaving a vibrant atmosphere.

As for the gameplay itself, it was evident the game was still in beta. There were numerous minor bugs, although neither my wife or I ran into excessive crashing. She played first a Barbarian and found that the difficulty for melee characters in the early boss fights was very steep compared to ranged characters. This evened out somewhat later, although the toughest encounters still seemed extra punishing for characters that rely on sustained close-range attacks to fuel their stronger abilities. I played a Rogue and enjoyed the challenge, although I feel some of the abilities when combined with the right gear were probably overpowered in all but the toughest encounters, especially how shadow-imbued attacks scale with gear that augments the core damage attacks.

It was nice to run into as many players in the world as we did, which made the world feel that much more alive. The above world encounters scaled well to the number of players, leading to unprecedented mayhem in challenging encounters. The variety of these was also refreshing, and they were frequent enough that it was not hard to find something to do when you ventured away from the safety of town. It was also not uncommon to discover an overworld boss or challenge far more difficult than a small group can manage, which encourages groups of players to work together.

Between side quests, overworld events, world bosses, numerous dungeons and other things to explore for, we felt like there was no shortage of things to do. By the end of the weekend there was a staggering number of side quests available on top of a quickly growing challenge by level 20. I felt very attached to my character after two short days. He was not just another rogue. With the level of customization and depth of the skill tree and gear choices I felt strongly that he was my rogue, and this is a pretty big step for the Diablo series where characters once were nearly indistinguishable from one another. Our heroes get more screen time than in the past, too, including improved cutscene mechanics where we get to see our customized characters up close, and in speaking roles.

I believe this is one of the ways Diablo IV shines the brightest. Even at the title screen, our hero is close enough to admire the detail of the armor, tattoos and even the glean of sweat on their skin. It is not just a gritty, dark world. It is further removed from the arcade feel of its predecessors. From an early point in the game, it makes it easy to customize your armor and weapon appearances based on items you have found without punitive cost. We could tell this was a popular feature based on the number of strangers we ran into near the first area where your wardrobe can be managed.

I hope the teams that planned and built these areas and experiences looked down on crowded Kyovashad with pride. It was certainly a sight to behold.

My wife and I eagerly await our return to Fractured Peaks when the game is released later this year.

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