Last week, we asked followers of @Diablo to send us their burning questions about Crusader lore and history.
After pouring through all the wonderful tweets we received in response, we then worked with lead writer Brian Kindregan and Blizzard historian Justin Parker to provide answers to some of your most popular inquiries below. Check it out!
Answer: A heavily armored, deeply driven warrior is traditionally depicted with a flail or mace. Maces generally learn towards the clergymen or clerical type of character, and the Crusader definitely leans more towards the martial side of things. Plus, they’re just awesome!
Answer: The Crusaders are searching for anything that might redeem their faith. They don’t know what form it will take, whether an item, a lost text, or perhaps an ally. However, they do strongly believe in signs and symbols, and a falling star raining down on a small town not yet explored by their brethren could be a very good lead.
Answer: As detailed above, the Crusaders are very different than Paladins! While it’s true that the etymology of the term "Crusader" has its origins in the term "cross" and carries some real world connotations, it has grown in meaning (at least in the English language) to represent a faithful soldier of any kind, particularly those who devote themselves to a powerful cause or life-long task. This is exactly the kind of mission the Crusader is on, and their faction as a whole can certainly describe their journey as a "crusade."
Answer: Crusaders generally recruit their apprentices in the wilderness or working-class parts of a city. When they identify a child who exhibits talent with the Light, they often negotiate with the child’s family to start the apprenticeship. Rich families are less likely to initiate their children into such endeavors, so Crusaders usually come from peasant or lower class families.
Answer: When the Crusaders departed on their journey, they weren't heard from again. They didn't keep in contact, and Akkhan's belief that the rest of the church was corrupted kept them from communicating with the other sects. As a result, only very high level members of the Zakarum church are aware of the Crusaders' existence. Crusaders respect other devout and pure worshipers of their faith, but are wary of those who may have been corrupted. Depending on their Order and rank, some Paladins might react poorly or not at all to a Crusader.
Answer: In the Swamplands to the east, many male Crusaders (and some female!) would buzz their heads to reduce the chance of carrying lice infestations. Gross, we know, but for some that was a less cumbersome option than having to bathe more thoroughly and regularly between battles. Ain't nobody got time for that!
Answer: Mostly, from the same place Paladins do! The Crusaders follow the tenants of the old Zakarum faith closely, which in its simplest form states that all humans have the Light somewhere within them. While many Crusaders often show signs of their ancient nephalem heritage, simply being born with strong affinity to the Light is not enough. Crusaders train extensively throughout their apprenticeship to master their innate abilities.
Answer: Akkhan only knew some force was corrupting his beloved faith. He had no way of knowing the cause was Mephisto, and therefore couldn't act directly. He believed everyone above him in the Zakarum hierarchy was corrupted in some way, and without any real knowledge the best he could do was form the Crusaders to find the answer and solution to that corruption.
Answer: Not at all! As adherents to the Zakarum faith, they believe in the ascent of man, and that the melding of demon and angel produced the only truly balanced beings in creation.
Answer: Crusaders are incredibly experienced veterans. As they often spend their lives on the move, in the wilderness and city alike, they take part in thousands of fights from epic battles to back alley brawls. They see allies and enemies alike fall in combat. Even the very act of becoming a Crusader involves seeing your master die. Despite the core of seriousness and discipline that drives them deep within, they've been around too long and seen too much to take anything aside from the crusade itself seriously. This allows them to generally be relaxed individuals, and they enjoy witty conversation whenever possible. Excitement comes only from the thought of ending their crusade.
Answer: Many Paladin orders have been disbanded at this point. Some have formed into new orders, such as the Templars, while others have gone rogue or freelance. Others have simply died. The Knights of Westmarch have become a largely secular order, separated from the Zakarum faith and more focused on the defense of Westmarch from physical harm rather than spiritual. In Reaper of Souls, Lorath Nahr is a newly introduced character who has close ties to the Knights of Westmarch. If you'd like more information on this particular group, I recommend speaking to Lorath in-game once the expansion launches, or reading through Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon.
Thank you to everyone who sent us questions! We look forward to sharing even more information about the Crusader class all this week—so stay tuned!
Faithful of Akkhan. Bastions of the Light. Stalwart redeemers of the Zakarum. All of these names could very well describe the newest hero class available in Reaper of Souls™.
Unlike other orders of the Zakarum, the Crusaders bring a distinctly grittier version of a traditional holy warrior to the world of Sanctuary. But where did they come from? What is their role in the Zakarum faith? How will they tackle the looming threat of Malthael on the horizon?
The answers to these questions and many more lay below, so let's kick off our week-long inside look at the Crusader class with some delectable servings of lore!
The Zakarum faith was founded many years ago, sometime after the Mage Clan wars by the prophet Akarat, a wandering ascetic from Xiansai. According to many historical accounts, it was during this pivotal time (in which humanity was beginning to reject magic for the comforts of religion) that Akarat received a startling revelation from a being he referred to as Yaerius, or "son of light" in his native language.
While there is some debate among scholars as to the true nature of Akarat’s prophecy—specifically, whether the "being" Akarat saw was the archangel Yaerius or simply an echo of Uldyssian’s sacrifice at the end of the Sin War—its significance is undeniable. It is said that the vision, manifesting as a magnificent flash of light and energy across the sky, ignited the fundamental belief within Akarat that humans were powerful vessels of light, and that all should seek their "inner light" in order to live good lives.
Upon receiving this revelation, Akarat set out on a grand journey to the cities Kehjistan, spreading word of his findings and encouraging others to embrace the Light he knew existed within them. Although Akarat would eventually vanish from all historical record, his teachings lived on through the people of Sanctuary, serving as the spiritual basis for the Zakarum faith and church. (Fun fact: The name "Zakarum" comes from "Zakara," meaning "inner light.")
During the reign of Emperor Tassara and shortly before General Rakkis’ historic march to the West, a priest by the name of Akkhan sensed a foul taint growing within the Zakarum church. This taint, unknown to Akkhan at the time, was caused by no other than that of the Prime Evil Mephisto, Lord of Hatred, his darkness steadily seeping from the soulstone which lay beneath the Temple of Light in Travincal.
Determined to redeem his beloved faith, Akkhan sought out the most devout, talented warriors and issued them a sacred mission: find a way to cleanse the Zakarum of decay and corruption once and for all. These warriors traveled to the east, directly opposite the Paladins traveling with General Rakkis, following the rumored path Akarat took in the last days of his life before disappearing.
And so the Crusader order was born.
Long time players of the Diablo franchise are likely familiar with the Zakarum faith and may even fondly remember time spent with their Paladin, the playable holy warrior from Diablo II. While Crusaders and Paladins share a devotion to the Zakarum faith, they aren't directly related to one another nor necessarily serve the same goals.
So how exactly do the Crusaders fit into the picture?
Let's go over what we currently know: a quick overview of the well-beloved Paladin. Paladins are devoted warriors of the Zakarum. Over time since their founding, different sects of Paladins began to form, with separate goals and bases of operation. This includes the Knights of Westmarch, the Order of Paladins, and the Hand of Zakarum.
During the events of the Zakarum Inquisition, the Hand of Zakarum was discovered to be corrupt and collapsed shortly after the events of Diablo II. The Order of Paladins, disgusted by the corruption of their faith, broke away and fled to the west, eventually settling in Westmarch. The Knights of Westmarch, already established from General Rakkis' conquest and eager to diminish their connection to Mephisto's corruption, absorbed the Order of Paladins and disassociated themselves from the Zakarum faith.
These different orders, some intentionally while others as a result of malevolent misdirection, evolved their arts and practices over the years, eventually developing into the Paladins we see today.
Unlike the Paladins, the Crusaders are an elite and insular group that has seen very little change since their founding, maintaining beliefs and practices most close to the original teachings of Akarat. Though Crusaders may exhibit similar ability to wield and bend the Light to their will as their Paladin counterparts, their fervor comes from a much more pure sense of righteousness. This is in part by design. During their formation, Akkhan made certain to only recruit those with the strongest conviction and battle potential. He also actively avoided bringing in anyone with Paladin training, fearful of any existing defilement or corruption carrying over into his crusade.
As a result of this focused purpose and very guarded lifestyle, the order itself is actually quite small. In total, only 427 Crusaders were sent east, and over time, their numbers have dwindled to the 341 known today. In practice, the Crusaders remain a loosely organized group, often traveling alone or with, at most, a single apprentice—a partnership which will persist until the Crusader's death. When it comes time for the Crusader to lay down their weapon, generally by falling in battle, their apprentice will not only take up their shield and armor, but their name as well, continuing a legacy set in motion so many generations ago.
As with the other Diablo III classes, the Crusader is a nephalem, their blood pulsing with same hidden power. Hearing the tales of a mysterious star falling from the sky and having exhausted their search in the East, the Crusader has traveled to New Tristram, hoping to discover anything that might save their faltering faith.
Will you take up the flail and shield in the name of the Zakarum? Are you eager to smite your foes with the pure, unblemished power of the Light? Let us know in the comments below if you'll be rolling out your living, battle hardened tank on launch day!
Nestled in the shadows of Westmarch, the Blood Marsh may appear to be no more than a simple swamp to many who pass through its mephitic trenches—an unforgiving mire with an unnatural complexion, but one possessing little significance to Sanctuary or the Eternal Conflict.
But the marsh itself is far from ordinary, boasting a history as deep and furtive as the ruins which lie beneath its murky surface. It is a place of corruption and sorrow, of memory and magic. And, recently, the wetlands have become a refuge for an entity of great power. . . and great evil.
We've already delved into the lore and visual landscape of the Blood Marsh, but there's still one more important design element to explore: its music. To whet your auditory appetite, we've put together an exclusive preview track featuring just a small sample of new melodies you'll hear as you adventure through this haunting environment.
To get a better understanding of what goes into creating a soundtrack for a game like Reaper of Souls™, we also sat down with Diablo® III Music Director Derek Duke for a quick Q&A.
Derek: I do admit to burning candles when I was playing Diablo III. But for mood, certainly turning the lights down is the first step.
Derek: At the early conceptual stage, it's really about getting in the mood and the right head space. Immersing myself in everything Diablo is important, from playing early builds and perusing concept art, to studying the story and all other the sources of lore that are only available behind Blizzard's iron gates.
There's also quite a lot of scribbling in notebooks, drawing on manuscripts, singing into the phone, and talking to people. All that, gathered together, is key, so when it's time to make the musical and artistic commitments, the emotion, mood, and story have become part of my subconscious enough that they can influence the music without me "forcing" anything.
Derek: The Blood Marsh actually went through a lot changes, both artistically and from a design perspective. Musically, we also tried a lot of things. On one tangent, we recorded a bunch of really crunchy, long electric guitar tones, trying to get at that swamp vibe. Didn't work. Banjo. . .nope. I could never boil it down to any single simple idea.
In the end, what worked was actually scoring to the Blood Marsh's theme of a lost history, and the emotion and drama of events that take place there. I don't want to spoil any of that epic experience for players, so I’ll refrain from sharing too many details. The preview track does a great job of capturing the over feel of the zone, however.
Derek: The very first time you enter the Blood Marsh, you'll hear women intoning a sacred text. And you'll begin to hear more and more of these texts sung and chanted in game from this point through the conclusion of Reaper of Souls. (Fun fact: Much of the game’s music was inspired by and written to these texts.)
The Blood Marsh is also the first place the "inevitability theme," or "Chains of Fate," returns since its debut in intro cinematic. Down in the Ruins of Corvus, you'll also make first contact with some of the quasi-"aleatoric" (semi-random) music in the game. They are extended creepy, textural pieces created from a very different way of working with the orchestra.
Derek: It's certainly a challenge, and hopefully one we've done well in Reaper of Souls.
One of the ways we've tried to bring musical cohesion into the Diablo franchise this time around was to filter all the music through a single person and process. The Diablo series was originally scored by a single composer and, while the other Blizzard franchises have benefited so much from having all of Blizzard's unique musical personalities contribute to a project, it really felt like Diablo—and Reaper of Souls in particular—wanted a single voice.
While writing a majority of the music myself, I was also able to leverage themes written by Russell Brower, Jason Hayes, Joseph Lawrence, and Glenn Stafford. Those themes were then built upon, arranged, stretched, and orchestrated to sound as though originating from a singular musical voice.
In addition, all our music was recorded with the same orchestra in the same decommissioned church with the same team over two years.
Derek: It's an edit of quite a few things, starting with the bells tolling, into some of the creepy, textural orchestral music of the dungeons, then an ancient text chanted. Next, you'll hear some darkness and another choral text into an earlier musical progression from when the Blood Marsh (originally called "The Bog" within the team) was first being worked on. The piece then concludes with a version of the inevitability theme, mentioned previously, heard as a duet of solo violin and oboe over the descending four notes.
That solo violin, heard so much in Reaper of Souls, has always represented to me, since I started working on the expansion, the hero's personal and solitary decision (and commitment) to fulfill his or her destiny. It's a great symbol of that singular choice to do what is needed to save Sanctuary and the whole of humanity.
The rot of organic life assaults the senses as fetid earth gives way beneath each step. Murky water bubbles along the sunken trails and strange, violent creatures lurk just beyond light's reach. Beneath the layers of silt and grime, this unwelcoming marshland lays an ancient ruin of great power. . .and even greater mystery.
Welcome to the Blood Marsh, the second locale to take the spotlight in the upcoming Reaper of Souls™ expansion. Just as we've covered the founding of Westmarch in our previous First Look series, let's take some time to peer beyond the marsh's veil of uninviting squalor and dig in to the lore and design of the wondrous treasures hidden within.
Enveloping a large portion of the western reaches of Khanduras, the Blood Marsh is a massive, swampy stretch of land, split by rivers and tributaries often utilized for passage and trade. Despite its current inhospitable nature, it was not always a dread-inducing locale and in fact was once the home of one of Sanctuary's greatest civilizations.
Long before King Rakkis ever touched foot on the land that would become Westmarch, the Blood Marsh was the site of untold glory—the city of Corvus.
In ancient days, when the world was still teeming with the children of Inarius and Lilith, Corvus became one of the first cities ever founded on Sanctuary. A community entirely composed of nephalem was certainly a site to behold, and for many years, it thrived. After the events of the Purge (as covered in The Book of Cain), Inarius attuned the Worldstone to diminish the power of the nephalem. As this power waned and the years passed, the nephalem grew mortal and ignorant of their past. So did the glory of Corvus come to pass, and through the years, it, too, was lost to history.
Glorious finds have a habit of attracting attention, and when Rakkis swept across the West, one of his greatest draws were the ruins of this ancient city. The king was fascinated by the nephalem and the ancient power they held, and it became his greatest desire to unlock their potential. He founded the city of Westmarch nearby, likely to feed his curiosity and obsession. The lure of potential immortality convinced Rakkis that he might even be nephalem himself, though after many fruitless years of wandering the crumbling remnants of the city, his only consolation was to have his remains entombed within.
In time, the Blood Marsh’s ancient secrets were forgotten, and the powerful defenses left behind by the nephalem have deterred most adventurers from plumbing the ancient (and undoubtedly lucrative) depths.
As noted, the Blood Marsh wasn't always as dangerous as it is today. While the land itself has always been marsh, recent events (including, but not limited to the return of Malthael) have brought out the worst in the local flora and fauna.
The bogans, for example, tribal creatures that have inhabited the area for as long as anyone can remember, have recently grown more aggressive, defending their territory with increasingly insidious traps and fortifying their hovels with crudely constructed watch towers and palisades. What was once a verdant wetland has quickly evolved into a repugnant quagmire that grows less habitable by the day.
The corruption isn't unwelcome by all, however. Shortly after the defense of Bastion's Keep, whispers began to circulate of a powerful force arriving in the area. The marsh itself, renowned for the lost nephalem city of Corvus, is a hotbed for Blood Magic and surely one could only have nefarious deeds in mind when looking to exploit such terrible, primal power. . .
Crafting a treacherous bog to explore as a bridge between two fantastic locations (Westmarch and Pandemonium, the final stage for Act V) could have been a relatively simple, straightforward task. Our designers, however, rose to an unspoken challenge and took the creation of the Blood Marsh a step further, delving into this location both physically and thematically.
The first step in exploring any area's design is nailing down the ultimate fantasy of the environment, or its theme. In the case of the Blood Marsh and Ruins of Corvus that rest within it, the central theme happens to be one that's integral to the story of Diablo itself: blood.
When thinking of a sinking, festering marshland, the idea of exploring ruins of an ancient civilization hidden beneath the grime and muck became too tantalizing to pass up. Not only did this setting pair well with the physical representation of blood (in terms of palette and textures), but it also allowed the designers to touch on the environment's theme in perhaps a less obvious way—blood in terms of lineage.
In addition to affecting the visual look of the Blood Marsh and Ruins of Corvus, the blood theme also plays an important part in determining how the environment interacts with your heroes. Specifically, with their heritage, or bloodline.
At this junction of their journey, each hero has fully embraced their birthright and shown but a glimpse of their powerful potential. This power has a long history, and though it was once thought to be lost to the passage of time, it's certainly not been forgotten. As you explore the Blood Marsh and surrounding areas, distant remnants of the past will reach forward in time, resonating and responding to your very presence. In fact, don't be too surprised if you find the ancient relics and defenses that lie within coming to your aid.
The theme of blood and bloodlines even stretches into Diablo's own history when it comes to inspiration. For example, one of the main quests you'll complete in Act V involves finding the correct entrance to the Ruins of Corvus. Long-time players of Diablo II might experience a pang of familiarity for an oft-remembered tomb search from Act II.
Speaking with Senior Game Designer Michael Chu, he shared some of the many ways in which this blood theme is explored in nearly every facet of the location:
"From the standpoint of the visuals, you can see how the marsh, the water, the mud, seems to evoke that feeling of blood. There are also the blood golems, enemies created through blood magic rituals. If you really take a step back to think about the various storylines in the area, you can definitely also see the influence of the idea of blood, in the concept of lineages, relations, and in the more traditional sense."
The Blood Marshes are, both literally and figuratively, steeped in blood. Be it the blood spilt by the conquest that swept across the land or the distant lineage of Sanctuary's first inhabitants, you'll find remnants and reminders under every rotten log or crumbled passageway.
The Ruins of Corvus provide a glimpse into the past while the Blood Marsh itself represents the arduous journey that lies ahead for our nephalem heroes. Blood, sweat, and tears have been shed on this journey, and the losses continue to mount. How many more must fall before the world can be at peace? What will it take to stop Malthael’s slaughter, and more importantly, to what lengths will you go to end it?
Are you prepared to take on the challenges ahead? Tell us what excites you the most about exploring the Blood Marsh in the comments below, but be warned: This journey leaves no room for faltering hearts.
Known Issue: We are aware of an issue currently occurring with players and followers where they play their level up sound upon every experience gain. Please visit this thread for more information.
Attention: Maintenance has been extended for Patch 2.0.2. More information can be found on our forums, where we will provide updates as we receive them.
Diablo III patch 2.0.2 is now live in the Americas. Check out the full patch notes below to learn all about the latest changes.
Currently active and upcoming hotfixes for Patch 2.0.2 can be found here.
Important: Please note that you will not be prompted to download patch 2.0.2 until the patch is live in your home region. If you are logging in from a European or Asian client, you will need to wait for this patch to release in that region before it can be installed. Additionally, if your home region is in the Americas, you will be unable to log into Europe or Asia using Global Play after patch 2.0.2 is live until those regions have also patched.
If you are experiencing technical issues with the patching process, connecting to Battle.net after installing the patch, or errors while playing a newly-patched game, please visit our support site or post in the Technical Support forum for assistance.