Nathan Lutsock è un ex Producer di Reaper of Souls che ha lasciato Blizzard nel 2014, ma che frequenta ancora il subreddit dedicato a Diablo. Lì risponde alle domande dei nuovi giocatori e ha scritto retrospettive sullo sviluppo del gioco, come ad esempio sulla realizzazione artistica degli equipaggiamenti e dei modelli dei personaggi. A lui è anche dedicato un paio di stivali leggendari.

Recentemente Nathan è intervenuto su un argomento che ha sempre fatto chiacchierare gli appassionati della storia di Sanctuarium: in seguito alla distruzione della Pietra del Mondo, tutti gli umani sono diventati potenziali Nefilim? Giocando a Diablo III si possono ricevere diversi indizi a riguardo, ma manca una risposta definitiva.

Nathan ha confermato che il team è stato intenzionalmente vago in proposito, affermando anche che l’idea originale era che se qualunque umano avesse manifestato capacità eccezionali era perché stava risvegliando i suoi poteri Nefilim. Nella spiegazione viene citato anche Uldyssian, di cui vi stiamo raccontando la storia nella nostra serie di articoli sulla Guerra del Peccato.

L’esecuzione dell’idea purtroppo non è stata perfetta e il team di Diablo ha effettuato delle parziali retromarce proprio sull’onda della critica “adesso sono tutti Nefilim” mossa dai giocatori. Ciò si è riflettuto nella scrittura di Reaper of Souls e ha spinto la successiva dichiarazione che gli eroi protagonisti di Diablo II non sono Nefilim, nonostante l’intenzione iniziale fosse opposta.

L’intervento completo

Are the characters from the 3rd game just normal mortals (with normal parents) that are starting to show traits of their Nephalem ancestry? Is this happening because of the World Stone’s destruction? Is everyone in Sanctuary a (potential) Nephalem now?

The greatest unresolved piece of narrative left over from D2 and D2x was the issue of the Worldstone. It was important, massive, and tied to Sanctuary. The heroes could not prevent its corruption at Baal’s hands, and Tyrael was forced to destroy it. But what did that mean exactly? It was a question we wanted to tackle directly in Diablo III.

What we resolved was that the worldstone had been established to anchor and contain the power of Nephalim. Nephalim, the offspring of demons and angels, were beings outside of the scheme of the Great Conflict… a mutation. Remember, war between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells was eternal, balanced, and perfectly stalemated.

[Simplifying some lore] After Nephalim arose they were sequestered on Sanctuary with the worldstone. The powerful Nephalim, over generations, would become what we think of as the humans of Sanctuary. The “big new idea” is that all humanity, even the stupid, selfish, and cruel that we see in Diablo and Diablo II, is born of the same cosmic power of great angels and mighty demons. Humanity, far from being pitiable bystanders in a contest of titans, are children of unknown potential, with a great legacy that has been hidden to history.

The story of Diablo III, from one point of view, is the emergence of humanity from the darkness of ignorance, the re-ascension of humanity’s power, and the challenge humanity issues to its parent races. In the course of the game, humanity breaks the stalemate of the Eternal Conflict and sets the universe on a course unknown for the first time since the dawn of time.

The lore of the Diablo universe includes powerful ancient Nephalim, including Uldyssian, capable of incredible feats. It was our idea that there was a quality that separated the average inhabitant of Sanctuary from the playable heroes, and that quality was emergent Nephalim power manifesting in the wake of the destruction of the worldstone. The intrinsic power of humanity would begin to emerge randomly, imbuing different humans with great power. For a Barbarian, that takes the form of radical exaggeration of the powers shown by other members of the Barbarian culture. For a Teganze Witch Doctor, the same. A Diablo III hero is an extraordinary individual representing an already extraordinary fantasy culture, further enhanced by unsupressed magic-genetic potential.

In a post Diablo III timeline, it would make sense that great swaths of human society with be born with new power. What that planet-wide manifestation would look like is probably outside even the grand scope of a Diablo game, and best left to the imagination.

Nephalim is plural for Nephalem, is that correct? Also, were D2 heroes also Nephalim, just some generations before, thus not as powerful as our heroes from D3?

Haha… I have to double-check the spelling. Whatever the answer, it’s not tied to the spelling from Christian myth.

We intended for Nephalim influence and power to retroactively explain instances of unusually influential or powerful humans throughout the history of Sanctuary, including previous game heroes. But writing yourself into a corner isn’t very helpful, so we made references to this very vague. We wanted to imply that anyone showing extraordinary qualities was probably benefitting from some (possibly unrecognized) Nephalim power manifesting itself.

However… everything is execution. When the game came out, there was a major complaint from the player base that “everything in D3 is ‘Nephalim’. If I never hear that word again it would be too soon.” And there is something to that complaint- a great deal of post release content seemed to focus on Nephalim concepts.

Aside- the word “Nephalim” was really useful. A voice actor could say it and in context it could mean any of the player hero classes, of either gender, and it could even refer to a group of them. In some places we had NOCs with dialog variants for the each class, and appropriate gender. Using the word ‘Nephalim’ as a character label saved hours of recording variant dialog in the studio (then more hours hooking up, then testing, then localizing, then testing THAT…). For us, time was a more valuable resource than money, and I can definitely see our writers going back to that word a little too much.

Starting with Reaper of Souls, you start to see new brains working on the ideas of the game- new designers, new writers, creators over in CDev, and even the writer over on Heroes of the Storm putting ideas down on Diablo heroes. A number of these folk wanted to prevent the word and idea of Nephalim from taking over all of Diablo lore. I think there was some concerted pushback, and at this time I believe there is official lore stating that Diablo II heroes were NOT Nephalim. But it was our intention that they would be.

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