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Implications of lore after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

diablo19 - Implications of lore after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
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This is a long post so if you're the type of person who's strained by a wall of text, just read the Nephalem Backstory section below and skip the rest.

Just to be clear, English is not my native language, so expect some grammatical and syntactical mistakes.


Nephalem Backstory

The preface fantasy of the Nephalem is fundamentally the syncretization of Nazism and Scientology.

This is the whole point of the Nephalem: as the superior Aryan-Thetan race, the Nephalem must exterminate the lesser inferior races to prove they are the master race (Nazism) and the achieve the Eighth Dynamic (Scientology).

There are five takeaways of the Nephalem in relation to Nazism:

  • Racial superiority (Aryan race and Nephalem)
  • The superior race's degeneration (Untermensch and humans)
  • Destiny of the superior race as the master race (Herrenrasse and Rise of the Nephalem)
  • The dangers of the inferior races (those of the "Judenstern" and believers of the Sin War religions)
  • Religious genocide (the Holocaust and Knaak's Sin War)

And there are five takeaways in relation to Scientology:

  • A previous omnipotent version of humanity (Thetan and Nephalem)
  • A disruptive interference on humanity by an external entity (Xenu, and Inarius and Malthael), which leads to:
    • An amnesia narrative (R6 implants and memory erasure of the Edyrem)
    • The divestment of powers and regression into mortality narrative (R6 implants and the altered Worldstone)
  • The emergence of a luminary figure capable of restoring humans to their former powers (Scientology founder Hubbard and Uldyssian)


Richard Knaak's Sin War trilogy

Nephalem Power

It is common knowledge that the Nephalem have supreme powers. Uldyssian was the most powerful Nephalem. Not just a Nephalem, according to the Veiled Prophet:

His head pounded with the knowledge that he had the power to do what even the Burning Hells or the High Heavens could not. He was more than merely Sanctuary's savior: he was the god that Inarius had believed himself.

Uldyssian was capable of pushing back the armies of heaven and hell to their respective realms.

I doubt Uldyssian's apotheosis into a godhood was based on Warcraft's "epic" style of writing. Warcraft's counterpart, Med'an, is one of most hated characters in Warcraft (more information here, an article
2013 06 12 know your lore a discussion of medan - Implications of lore after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

here, or video

).

The conflict of the story begins with this:

Lilith betrayed Inarius and attempted to use their children against the High Heavens. Inarius, however, killed many of their children. The remaining ones became depowered when Inarius altered the Worldstone to not just keep Sanctuary hidden, but also to depower the Nephalem into mere mortals. The descendents of the firstborn became Humans as centuries passed.

Notice the wordings "depower the Nephalem into mere mortals" and "became Humans". This means that the Nephalem and humans are not the same. Rather, humans are the disempowered version of Nephalem.

This regression from Nephalem to human does bear a resemblance to Scientology's Thetans:

Thetans fell from grace when they began to identify with their creation, rather than their original state of spiritual purity. Eventually they lost their memory of their true nature, along with the associated spiritual and creative powers.

Much like humans had a grander Thetan past, so too were humans previously Nephalem. There is a loss of "spiritual and creative powers" as there is a "depowered" "Nephalem into mere mortals". The Book of Cain describes what happened after the Sin War:

Though the Sin War faded quietly into history, it is that we recognize its import, for it stands as a testament to the sheer power that all human carry within them. And, I would argue, it is a war that echoes within each of us to this very day.

I should add that, in Mein Kampf:

No, this wonderful creative faculty is a special gift bestowed on the Aryan, whether it lies dormant in him or active, according as the adverse conditions of nature prevent the active expression of that faculty or favourable circumstances permit it.

Although humans aren't Nephalem, they have this potential, a power or "special gift" within. And it is up to an external factor that determines whether or not it is expressed, something like in epigenetics.


Rise to Power

These are the events in Sin War Book One: Birthright:

The noblewoman's prediction came to pass barely two days later. By this time. Uldyssian had touched nearly everyone in the town. There were astonishingly few people hesitant about awakening the gift within themselves and fewer yet that he could deny.

But Uldyssian himself had no such tears. The moment that he touched the other man's hands, the force within him surged forth. Uldyssian immediately felt it stir something within Romus.

Naturally, Uldyssian greeted each newcomer and did what he could. Although progress was slow, at least now he had proof that what he had told them was true; in addition to Romus, nearly two dozen others had manifested some sign of powers. Those signs varied wildly, from healing minor injuries or causing flowers to blossom to a child's sudden ability to call birds to her hand. No two were exactly the same.

Now, this act of Uldyssian is similar to something else:

Scientology believes that people have hidden untapped abilities. It is believed that increased spiritual awareness and physical benefits are accomplished through counseling sessions referred to as auditing.

Uldyssian acts as a Scientology auditor, using Dianetics to unlock the power within. According to the official Scientology website:

A person receiving auditing is called a preclear—meaning “a person not yet Clear.” A preclear is someone who, through auditing, is finding out about themselves and life. The period of time during which an auditor audits a preclear is called an auditing session. A session is conducted at an agreed-upon time established by the auditor and preclear.

Regardless of experience or background, however, the individual is assisted in locating not only areas of spiritual upset or difficulty in their life, but the source of the upset. By doing this, a person is able to free themselves of unwanted barriers that inhibit, stop or blunt their natural abilities and increase these abilities so that they become brighter and more spiritually able.

But there is something
higher than "Clear":

In Scientology, Operating Thetan (OT) is a spiritual state above Clear. It is defined as "knowing and willing cause over life, thought, matter, energy, space and time (MEST)".

Scientology doctrine defines OT as the "highest state there is". The OT is able to "control or operate thought, life, matter, energy, space, and time" whether he or she has a body and mind or not.

Uldyssian is not merely a "Clear" in this sense, he is an "Operating Thetan". And again, there are many levels within this spiritual state. The highest is "
Operating Thetan - Implications of lore after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction


Operating Thetan VIII: Truth Revealed":

This Solo-audited level addresses the primary cause of amnesia on the whole track and lets one see the truth of his own existence. This is the first actual OT level and brings about a resurgence of power and native abilities for the being himself.

He is of the highest pedigree of Nephalem.

Of course, this awakening of powers isn't really meant to build a better mankind. It was meant to be unleashed as a weapon. The Edyrem themselves were formed to supply an army for Uldyssian. Even healing powers were meant to quickly return them to the battlefield.

It brings to mind the
schutzstaffel the ss - Implications of lore after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

Schutzstaffel:

The black knights of Himmler’s Schutzstaffel (SS), a special class of warriors defined by race and blood. They were hand-picked as the most racially Germanic of all Germans. In Himmler’s mind, they were the nation’s tangible link with the primordial warriors, who were both supermen and gods… They were ruthless true believers… Even today, the image of an SS trooper causes chills.

Remember that in the Sin War books, the strength of the armies aren't equal. The Edyrem are both "supermen and gods" and are indeed the second generation of "primordial warriors". Their enemy are mainly ordinary humans. It is this power difference that substantiates Uldyssian as good by virtue of strength alone, as other creatures and even angels and demons themselves are nothing. The weaker sides are merely "belong to the wrong side".


Evil Religions

Since the plot of the Sin War involves portraying Uldyssian as the supreme good, it is worth understanding what his motivation is. According the the founder of Scientology himself:

The church trying to control large masses of people down through the ages have become very expert in this. And the state trying to control large masses of people and keep law and order, generally will look very kindly upon any activity such as the church which is using this God trick. You can just call it the God trick, and it’s a very easy trick to understand. And the thetan’s always had this happen to him.

Further:

At this point, in 1953, God is just a “trick,” but a few years later in 1967, Hubbard spins the Xenu story, saying that a galactic overlord had implanted the ideas of Christianity and other world religions in an “R6” implant some 75 million years ago.

It is because of an "R6 implant" that religion exists, and that it is. Meanwhile in Mein Kampf:

The destructive workings of Judaism in different parts of the national body can be ascribed fundamentally to the persistent Jewish efforts at undermining the importance of personality among the nations that are their hosts and, in place of personality, substituting the domination of the masses. The constructive principle of Aryan humanity is thus displaced by the destructive principle of the Jews, They become the 'ferment of decomposition' among nations and races and, in a broad sense, the wreckers of human civilization.

By Hitler's own words, Judaism destroys "Aryan humanity". Comparing this to role of the religions in Knaak's Sin War trilogy, these "false believers" undermine the Nephalem supremacy.

Now combine the Nazi and Scientology conception of "evil religion", it elucidates a reasonable conclusion for what Uldyssian did. These justifications are concordant, and the Sin War trilogy accommodates this as righteous.


Religious Genocide

The conflict of Richard Knaak's Sin War trilogy is centered on Uldyssian's fight against two religions: the Temple of the Triune and the Cathedral of Light.

Recounted by the Book of Cain:

At this time, the forces of the Triune clashed repeatedly with Uldyssian and his edyrem, and it was soon revealed that the Triune was held under the sway of demonic influence. Uldyssian declared war on the Triune, obliterating its churches and decimating its holy armies.

In the Scales of the Serpent:

All concern for these fellow men and women abruptly faded. They cared nothing for the lives of his followers nor the innocents who came to listen to the "holy" sermons. As he had done with the morlu, Uldyssian swept away the ranks of the faithful. Screams echoed throughout the vast chamber as bodies went flying in all directions. Several flew high in the air, others crashed against the walls. Uldyssian left no direction unscathed. All those serving the Three were tossed aside like the refuse that they were.

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In short, Uldyssian committed religious genocide, and did not even spare the innocents because they were "tossed aside like the refuse that they were". This bit shows not only intolerance, but also a lack of humanity.

A previous passage of the same book:

"One thing only, Lord Raoneth."

The man looked wary.

"The Triune is no more here. If it grows in Toraja again—like a weed can—I'll return."

Once more. Raoneth pursed his lips. "If the evil is as you said. that weed I will personally pluck clean from my city's soil."

They talk of people as if they were just weeds. This disregard for human life applied to those of the Cathedral of Light as well, as it is written in the Veiled Prophet:

As that vision magnified in his head, Uldyssian burned inside with an anger he never experienced before. The son of Diomedes felt as if he were about to explode, yet he had no outlet. He needed something at which to strike, and there was only the grass.

As had happened before, fire burst into manic life all around him. It was not merely fire as might have been seen in the camp last night, but gargantuan emerald and yellow flames that devoured the nearest blades so quickly and thoroughly that there was nothing left from which to sprout new grass.

And that fire then shot through the region, racing with calculated madness among the edyrem. It left of the grass only black dust, but not one of Uldyssian's people was so much as singed. For them, the flames felt instead like a brief moment of cool air caressing them.

There was not a living blade of grass in sight. In fact, the only living things left were the edyrem…and not all of them. There were bodies here, there, and too many other places

Many of them were children.

However, Uldyssian had no time for Inarius's innocent victims, so concerned was he about the one belonging to him.

The deaths of the children and innocent victims didn't matter because they were of Inarius. That the flames of Uldyssian's will is biased on whom to inflict death is telling of his character.

Being a hero in this sense means it's alright to be desensitized to the deaths of innocents — to instigate an assault in an unprovoked and non-retaliatory circumstance, and that this assault isn't strategically necessary and is completely avoidable in the first place.



Diablo III

Reaper of Souls

In the events of Reaper of Souls, Malthael's reapers created soul crucibles — basically a cluster of human souls used to, according to General Torion in game, "turns the living into Malthael's death creatures".

This is similar to the events in Scientology:

The souls of those killed were collected together using super cold, transported to volcanoes on earth (he gives a list of these and they are checked out in this paper), H-bombed at the volcanoes, collected up again using electronic ribbons and transported to Hawaii or Las Palmas. They were there subjected to 36 days of hypnotic "implants" using films and simple apparatus, which in their already shocked state was supposedly very effective and kept them clustered together and trapped on earth as demons.

These clusters are "trapped on earth as demons". There also mention of volcanoes, which coincidentally is one of the
concept for Pandemonium. In Reaper of Souls, Tyrael reveals Malthael's method to achieve his goal:

I bear grave news. my friend. The sliver has revealed Malthael's plan to me, and it is worse than I could have imagined.

He means to use the Black Soulstone to capture all demonic essences—even those that linger in human hearts.

There is a similarity of "demonic essences" with the "
Body thetan - Implications of lore after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction


Body Thetan":

A body thetan or a BT is a disincarnate thetan who is "stuck" in, on or near a human body, and all human bodies are said to be infested by these disembodied thetans, or clusters of them.

Malthael's genocide of the human race paints him as the
erlich possession - Implications of lore after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

dictator Xenu:

75 million years ago Incident II was perpetrated by the evil galactic Overlord Xenu. He had too many subjects. He ordered billions of them on various planets to "report in" to their local IRS office. There they were killed in nazi assembly-line fashion. Their "thetans" were frozen in alcohol, packed into little boxes, placed in spaceships that looked like "modern" DC-8s, and transported to earth. These two parts of Incident II are specifically called CAPTURE and TRANSPORT.


Paragon

In its current incarnation, Paragon is a system that was introduced in Diablo 3 that allows a character to continually gain power, and doesn't have a limit. There's an interesting passage of Mein Kampf that references this "infinity:

The progress of mankind may be compared to the process of ascending an infinite ladder. One does not reach the higher level without first having climbed the lower rungs.

So basically, the levels from 1 to 70 are the "lower rungs" while Paragon levels are the "process of ascending an infinite ladder", since there is no cap. Note that as it is in-game, it isn't an actual infinity. Rather, it is a process that theoretically projects towards infinity.

It doesn't sit well that the words of Hitler very accurately encapsulates the functionality of a major gameplay mechanic, which incidentally is also a gameplay representation of the Nephalem's superhuman lore.


Corvus

According the Reaper of Souls lore:

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.

Rakkis' search for Corvus mirrors the Nazi's search for Atlantis:

Adolf Hitler’s henchman Heinrich Himmler had a dream. He believed the Third Reich was a modern incarnation of an ancient super race. It was his justification for the Nazi party’s authoritarian rule, it’s ambitions towards Europe — and its persecution of Jews.

What he needed was something to ‘prove’ this Aryan superiority.

And the myth of Atlantis gave him just such an opportunity.

As a side note, if the "Third Reich was a modern incarnation of an ancient super race", then the Edyrem, similarly, are the newer incarnation of the Ancients (first generation Nephalem).

This is the origin 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.

Now compare this to the words in Mein Kampf:

All that we admire in the world to-day, its science, its art, its technical developments and discoveries, are the products of the creative activities of a few peoples, and it may be true that their first beginnings must be attributed to one race.

The Nazi's conception of Atlantis is fundamentally the same as the Nephalem city of Corvus.


Zoltun Kulle

Zoltun Kulle is one of the more regarded character introduced in D3. And I've noticed that many sympathize with him (probably against the expectation of the D3 writers) and say he was right that humanity should embrace their Nephalem heritage. But as described by Leah in the Book of Tyrael:

Mother told me that Kulle would lure initiate mages into his archives and subject them to gruesome experiments. He would drain their blood and extract their organs, all the while trying to distill their nephalem “essence.”

The Nazi were notorious for conducting
unethical human experimentation to improve the quality of life for the superior race, or find means to improve conditions in the war effort.

It's not known if the D3 writers forgot to add this explicit lore to Zoltun Kulle to the game as a means to incriminate him as a villain (instead of just his maniacal laughter). That some players sympathized with him and acknowledged the veracity of his ideals, then publish this backstory feels contravening to them.


Temple of the Firstborn

The term "firstborn" has a great significance in Judaism. For example, in the Bible, Israel is the firstborn of God. Note that both usages of this term are ethnological (refers to Jewish people and the Nephalem), and not legal primogeniture.

So who are present in the Temple of the Firstborn in Diablo 3? The answer: the Blood Cultists. This is how the cult is described:

While no match for a true Nephalem, the cultists have been kidnapping villagers from the surrounding areas, concentrating on children. Their blood has been specifically requested by the leader of the cult in rituals to help empower himself.

A notable antisemitic defamation is the blood libel. Merriam-Webster defines blood libel as:

the false and maliciously perpetuated accusation that Jews have murdered non-Jews (such as Christian children) in order to use their blood in rituals

Blood libel was a Nazi propaganda used to justify their antisemitic policy. From Facing History and Ourselves:

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the blood libel was rooted in religious beliefs. When those beliefs changed, the lie persisted. By the 1800s, it was often linked to notions of “race.” Accusations that Jews engage in ritual murder were now considered “proof” of the depravity of the so-called “Jewish race.” In the 1930s and 1940s, Adolf Hitler and his followers used the blood libel as propaganda.

Also, regarding Vidian at the end of the temple:

When we finally find our way through the cultist stronghold within the Temple, we find ourselves face to face with the leader of the cult — Vidian, the Lord of Envy.

Vidian is the "deity" of the cult, and represents "envy". This part is interesting because in the Ten Commandments, God describes Himself as a "jealous God". The significance of the Ten Commandments is that it is the foundation of Jewish law, and actually appears twice in the Bible (Exodus and Deuteronomy), therefore elevating the prominence of this self-descriptor.

This is the whole setup: a temple, dedicated to an ancient superior race (though the naming is ironically reversed), has been desecrated by a "Judenstern" group who worship a "jealous deity" by abducting children and draining their blood for "rituals".

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