Blizzplanet Review – Diablo III: Morbed

diablo-iii-morbed-coverBack on October 12, 2013, at the New York Comic Con — Micky Neilson told me there were plans for a novella based on Morbed. Today Pocket Star released the new digital book Diablo III: Morbed by Micky Neilson (Blizzard publishing lead & New York Times best selling author). This character was first revealed within the pages of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael, foreshadowing things to come.

Details of this digital book were kept in shadows until barely four days ago when I stumbled upon it at Amazon. I check Amazon.com nigh daily in search of upcoming Blizzard books, and Diablo III: Morbed wasn’t in Amazon days ago. The digital book is now available today and can be read. I started reading it sometime around midnight.

Review

**Note: There might be spoiler elements beneath this line. Be warned.**

What is Morbed, and where is it based on in the timeline? The story seems to happen a few months before the events of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. The King of Westmarch was still alive, and it had not been invaded yet by Malthael’s forces. Here are a few details to share.

Morbed was a former thief. A band of adventurers defeated the King of bandits in Aranoch; and word quickly spread about their feat and reached the ears of Justinian the king of Westmarch.

Justinian summoned this band of adventurers to find a hooded vagabond who was seen entering some of the ruins hidden beneath the Bloodmarch. It’s said this vagabond collected relics from the catacombs and possibly pillaging the Tomb of Rakkis.

The band is composed of Morbed, Jaharra (wizard), Aedus (druid), Clovis (crusader), and Vorik (necromancer). Clovis the crusader was in this mission because he wished to find the bones of Akarat to renew the faith of his religious order. The crusader thought this mission would help his quest.

Now what most catches my attention about this story is the inclusion of, both, a druid and a necromancer to a story that took place sometime before Reaper of Souls. At one point, Jay Wilson said to MTV Multiplayer some of the previous classes might return in future Diablo III expansions.

Jay Wilson: “There’s a lot of people on our team who aren’t happy with our class choices,” he admitted. “But after we’ve established ‘Diablo III’ as its own game with its own type of gameplay and experiences, I wouldn’t be opposed to looking at old classes. We are trying to design [the Witch Doctor] class so that if we did bring back the Necromancer, there’s room for him. We’re looking out ahead of time at what our expansions are going to be, so we’ve got to keep room open for some of those other classes down the road.”
 

We have seen a necromancer NPC in Diablo III already, and most recently Zayl the Necromancer was among the five heroes recruited by mortal Tyrael to steal the Black Soulstone from the High Heavens (as seen in Diablo III: Storm of Light); but we had not heard of a druid in a very long time in-game or in the printed media based on Diablo.

Like in comic books, some characters are heroes — like Superman (DC Comics), Captain America (Marvel Comics) — while others are anti-Heroes with traits of heroism such as Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, even Batman. They are not 100% noble or moral. They have shades of grey. Willing to kill, or to follow their own personal agendas.

I think this is the first time I see a Diablo character such as Morbed. The only other Blizzard character I can compare him with is Prince Arthas (at Stratholme and Dragonblight).

Prince Arthas and even Kael’Thas were formerly noble, and righteous in their own way. Then their lives changed drastically. Dramatically. The scars were deep. Their emotions a maelstrom. Eventually, their morals shifted, and they turned to evil.

Morbed comes from a different background. He was a former thief. He is changed his old ways, but other non-heroic traits have stuck around. The way he is pictured in this story he is going from a scumbag to someone seeking redemption for his past deeds. That gives Morbed some depth as a character. As well as bringing up controversy. Why should we care about the character? Well, look at how Wolverine has boomed the Marvel Comics and films. It has been proven that Anti-Heroes, well written, are a formula that do work. Especially, if you as an author craft a good complex story with twists and drama. The reader becomes entangled into the story, and starts to care about the anti-hero, and wishes to learn more. The reader gets hooked to the anti-hero.

I have no doubt Morbed eventually becomes a hero, but in the first half of this story, Morbed is anything but a hero. He is selfish, he betrays, he won’t risk his life for his own band; and above all else… he is a survivor. He knows his way out of trouble. He uses all the abilities he learned as a former thief. He is no hero. The problem with Morbed is that he won’t risk his hide to help his own teammates in the battlefield. He is willing to leave behind his platoon. Yet, he is filled with guilt.

That element on its own can be exploited by the author. There is a potential way lingering in the air to redeem his past mistakes with this guilt element roaming his mind.

The question is … what is Micky Neilson planning to do with this new anti-hero? Diablo III: Reaper of Souls launched barely a month ago, and there is no trace of this character as a new NPC. Is he slated to appear in a future content patch? Or the next expansion? That is something to ponder about.

More questions inbound. Are we going to see more of Morbed in a full-fleshed novel in 2015? A graphic novel based on him? Otherwise, why write about a nobody character if you have no plans to expand? Makes no sense right? So, one must assume there are plans for this character.

Those characters birthed through the Diablo III short stories came to life in Diablo III: Storm of Light, and they assisted Tyrael — a central figure in the Diablo universe.

Hopefully, we will hear more from Micky Neilson on what plans he has for Morbed, when he is ready to share details.

Conclusion

I do recommend Diablo fans to read Diablo III: Morbed. If this story is foreshadowing things to come either in printed media or in-game at some point, then it is a must-read. We not only learn about a dark anti-hero who gains strange power through this enigmatic lantern, the reader also learns about an ancient history.

In Warcraft, we know the Amani Trolls lived in the region we know now as Quel’Thalas. The High Elves traveled there, decimated the trolls, and usurped their sacred lands to build Quel’Thalas.

In the Diablo universe, on the other hand, we have heard for years how Rakkis fought his way into the west lands and founded the city of Westmarch. However, have we ever learned who Rakkis fought and who originally lived in what we now know as Westmarch and Bloodmarch?

Indeed, Blizzard did never delved into that. Diablo III: Morbed gives us a glimpse into this when the hooded vagabond faces Morbed, and the vagabond reveals to Morbed his motives to pillage ancient artifacts from the Tomb of Rakkis and adjacent underground ruins.

What if this people — exiled from the former Blooming Moors (now known as Westmarch) — became a new class in the next Diablo III expansion? That’s another one to ponder. This short story would then be the prelude to that. Would you dare not to read even out of curiosity?

Diablo III: Morbed Giveaway

I will giveaway 10 copies of Diablo III: Morbed (via an Amazon Gift eCard). You must be a follower of Blizzplanetcom Twitter or Facebook.

Winners will be contacted through Facebook or Twitter. Winners will be listed beneath this line of text so check back. Make sure to check out your social account inbox. Giveaway ends Wednesday, April 23 at 11:59pm EST (New York).

Characters

Morbed (former thief)
Jaharra (female Wizard)
Aedus (druid from Scosglen)
Clovis (crusader)
Vorik (necromancer)

The fisherman – a merchant, posing as a fisherman, who brought the band to the isle.
The vagabond – descendant of the original inhabitants of the Blooming Moor (now known as Westmarch) who were exiled by Rakkis.

Kasha, Roshan and Ishkara (spirit wolfs summoned by the druid)

Locations

Aranoch (mentioned)
Westmarch
House of Bulkhan
Glooming Moors

Diablo III: Morbed by Micky Neilson Coming April 21, 2014

diablo-iii-morbed-coverPocket Star will publish a brand-new story based on the Diablo universe which is written by New York Times best selling author and Blizzard publishing lead Micky Neilson.

I am amazed at how quick this book is coming and how it utterly bypassed my long-range radar. All the more welcome. I already pre-ordered and it will be delivered to my Kindle PC software right on my computer desktop. Feel free to download the Kindle app for PC/Mac or for your favorite mobile device before pre-ordering, to sync the app with your Amazon account.

The new digital book is titled … Diablo III: Morbed. This is the same enigmatic character revealed to exist in the pages of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.

Diablo III: Morbed will be published on April 21, 2014. Contains 64 pages.

Book Description

An original e-novella based on the bestselling video game!

Morbed is a thief and a survivor, and his skills in both roles are about to be put to the ultimate test. Joining together with a wizard, a druid, a necromancer, and a crusader, Morbed has arrived at a remote island to track down an elusive vagabond and reclaim valuable items pilfered from the city of Westmarch.

But there is something loose on the island, something that has killed and is very close to killing again. In order to leave the island alive, Morbed will be forced to confront not only the terrifying creature that stalks the forests, but the darkest corners of his own spirit as well.

 

Blizzplanet Preview – Garwulf’s Corner: An Odyssey into Diablo and the World Beyond the Video Game

A month ago, I reported that Robert B. Marks plans to launch a book titled: “Garwulf’s Corner: An Odyssey into Diablo and the World Beyond the Video Game”. It is slated to ship on October 2014. A couple days ago, Robert shipped to me a review copy with a signed dedicatory.

garwulf-corner-1

Any veteran Diablo fan will no doubt remember the old good days when multiplayer games began to flourish. Players were still using 56Kbps dial-up internet connection services such as AOL, and CompuServe. Early DSL was running 128 to 256 Kbps and it was expensive. Diablo had become a success, and Blizzard Entertainment launched Diablo II on June 29, 2000.

diablo-demonsbaneIt was back then when a geeky gamer and writer age 24 managed to sell his first published story. Robert B. Marks wrote probably one of the first Video Game-based eBooks for Blizzard Entertainment based on the Diablo universe …. Diablo: Demonsbane. It was published on October 2000. Pocket Books published the first Blizzard eBook in an era where eBooks were a struggling experiment. The first eBook readers from 1997-2006 were not well-received. Not until the big boom when the first Amazon Kindle device shipped on 2007.

Back on 2000, Robert B. Marks also began to write a bi-weekly column titled Garwulf’s Corner for Diabloii.net (now found at diablo.incgamers.com).

He wrote about Diablo II, about gaming, literature, movies, hackers, AI, and other topics. In a time where there weren’t that many fansites or gaming websites with similar discussion topics other than news, reviews or strategy guides.

Garwulf’s Corner earned many readers over the few years it lasted. Even today, the archive can be read online. Those veteran Diablo fans can now get this piece of history in printed form.

The book contains a 3-page introduction written by Robert B. Marks, all 52 articles of Garwulf’s Corner, three articles that were never published in the Blurred Edge magazine, and an article the author wrote after Diablo III was announced.

Garwulf’s Corner: An Odyssey into Diablo and the World Beyond the Video Game will be published by Robert’s owned Legacy Books Press for a retail price of $19.99 US ($22.95 CAN/AU, €16.95, £ 15.95). Review copies are now available: contact(*)legacybookspress.com

If you haven’t read Diablo: Demonsbane, I recommend to get the Diablo Archive which reprinted it in physical form.

garwulf-corner-2

At the dawn of the 21st Century, the video game industry experienced a period of wild creativity, fighting for recogniztion as an art form while making the transformation into a media juggernaut. And as it did, Garwulf’s Corner was there.

One of the earliest, if not the first, video game issues columns on the internet, Garwulf’s Corner ran every two weeks from 2000 to 2002 on Diabloii.net, Written by Robert B. Marks, author of Diablo: Demonsbane and The EverQuest Companion, it explored everything up to and including Diablo, the birth of artificial intelligence, hackers, literature and movies, and the video game’s struggle for legitimacy.

Collected here for the first time in print — whith new introductions and updates — are all 52 installments of Garwulf’s Corner, along with the three columns written years later for the unpublished Blurred Edge Magazine, the holiday issue that never was, and the author’s final word (so far) on Diablo III and Diablo in general. Insightful, controversial, witty, and thought-provoking, Garwulf’s Corner is a journey into the world of video games that is still relevant today.

Garwulf’s Corner also explores the following:

  • The video game’s struggle for recognition and legitimacy as an art form.
  • How we play video games and what it means for our lives and society.
  • The birth of serious video game journalism
  • The ethics and dimensions of video game hackers, DRM, and piracy.
  • Issues such as sexism in video games, and how we should face them.

“It was amazing to be there at the birth of serious video game journalism,” says Marks. “When the first installment was published, video game coverage basically consisted of reviews, previews, and strategy guides – writing about issues back then felt quite a lot like being a voice in the wilderness. When the last installment was published in 2002, video games were something that people gave serious thought to and were coming to recognize as art. It was an honour and a privilege to be even the smallest part of that.”

Robert B. Marks is an author, writer, editor, trained historian, and publisher. He is the author of Diablo: Demonsbane, The EverQuest Companion, The Traveler on the Road of Legends, and the co-author of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Agora. Since 2013 he has also worked in public relations and community outreach for Darksword Armory.

In his spare time, Robert makes mead, practices German Longsword, plays Magic: The Gathering, and very rarely (and very badly) plays the violin. He lives in Kingston, Ontario, with his wife Johanna.

Available on October 31, 2014 at bookstores and online.

ISBN: 9781927537107
Price: $19.99 US

diablo-garwulfs-corner-book-front-cover

 

How to get Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Collector’s Edition Delivered on March 25

This has been a secret trick I have used for the past few years to get my Collector’s Editions delivered on release day.

Have you pre-ordered a Collector’s Edition and it gets delivered 2 days after the official release date? Maybe even longer? It is a nightmare when it takes several days to arrive. Especially with the Heroes of the Storm Valla Hero redeemable until March 31. Learn how to here.

How about getting it delivered exactly on the official release date? You can. If you follow my trick, you will get the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls CE delivered to your door on March 25th in the afternoon (tops).

Usually when the release date is approaching, Amazon adds the “On Release Day” shipping option. What happens is that the Collector’s Edition leaves the store and gets shipped on March 23 with a 2-day shipping. Amazon makes sure that the delivery arrives on the release date (March 25th).

1. Go to the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Collector’s Edition page.

2. Login to your Amazon account.

3. Hit the pre-order button.

diablo-iii-ros-ce-release-day-shipping-1

4. Whenever you see the shipping options, make sure to choose the following option: “Two-Day Shipping — get it on its release day: Tuesday, March 25.”

diablo-iii-ros-ce-release-day-shipping-2

5. The option will cost an additional $7.98 (more or less depending where you live in the United States), but it is totally worth it.

diablo-iii-ros-ce-release-day-shipping-3

A few years ago, I contacted an Amazon representative via chat when I first noticed the Release Day option. She had to explain it to me several times as I was skeptic. I was surprised when on release date the delivery man knocked my door. The Collector’s Edition was on my door on release date afternoon.

Hopefully, this may be of help to someone. If you had pre-ordered before, simply pre-order it again. Once you finish the order and you notice the estimate shipping date is on Release date, feel free to cancel the older order.

Garwulf’s Corner: An Odyssey into Diablo and the World Beyond the Video Game

Diablo fans who followed the Garwulf’s Corner at the former Diabloii.net years ago might be excited to learn something shared with me by its author Robert B. Marks.

Before we get into that, for those who weren’t around the Blizzard community back then — Garwulf’s Corner was a bi-weekly column discussing everything Diablo and Diablo II, as well as life topics in general such as movies, literature, video games, etc.

Robert B. Marks is also the author of Diablo: Demonsbane. Demonsbane was the first Diablo eBook published in 2000 and he is author of the EverQuest Companion. Most likely the first book in the Blizzard novel collection, and likely the pioneer of gaming eBooks in general — at a time where Kindle didn’t exist, and eBooks were just a first-time experiment.

Diablo: Demonsbane can be read in printing nowadays within the pages of the Diablo Archive.

Last night, Robert B. Marks informed me he is publishing a book titled … Garwulf’s Corner: An Odyssey into Diablo and The World Beyond the Video Game.

I’ll keep you updated as details become available. I’ll get a review copy as soon as it comes out of printing. The book is slated to ship on October 2014 from the Legacy Books Press. Robert B. Marks websites: The Dragonmage’s Realm and Garwulf’s Corner (Livejournal)

At the dawn of the 21st Century, the video game industry experienced a period of wild creativity, fighting for recogniztion as an art form while making the transformation into a media juggernaut. And as it did, Garwulf’s Corner was there.

One of the earliest, if not the first, video game issues columns on the internet, Garwulf’s Corner ran every two weeks from 2000 to 2002 on Diabloii.net, Written by Robert B. Marks, author of Diablo: Demonsbane and The EverQuest Companion, it explored everything up to and including Diablo, the birth of artificial intelligence, hackers, literature and movies, and the video game’s struggle for legitimacy.

Collected here for the first time in print — whith new introductions and updates — are all 52 installments of Garwulf’s Corner, along with the three columns written years later for the unpublished Blurred Edge Magazine, the holiday issue that never was, and the author’s final word (so far) on Diablo III and Diablo in general. Insightful, controversial, witty, and thought-provoking, Garwulf’s Corner is a journey into the world of video games that is still relevant today.

ISBN: 9781927537107
Price: $19.99 US

diablo-garwulfs-corner-book-front-cover

 

JINX Super Secret Sale: Diablo III Jackets 30% OFF w/ Free Shipping

JINX has a limited-time offer of Diablo III Jackets at a 30% OFF discount with FREE Economy shipping. This offer is only active through March 5-6. So hurry up.

Simply type the promo code during checkout at the promotional code field: THEREAPER

In addition, jinx-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-no-one-can-stop-death-premium-t-shirtTo celebrate the release of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, JINX is selling all Diablo III T-shirts 20% OFF (PLUS Free Shipping**) through March 1-31.

**The free Economy Shipping applies only in the United States.

March 2014 – All Diablo T-Shirts 20% Off

jinx-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-no-one-can-stop-death-premium-t-shirtTo celebrate the release of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, JINX is selling all Diablo III T-shirts 20% OFF (PLUS Free Shipping**) through March 1-31.

**The free Economy Shipping applies only in the United States.

Critical Hit – 25% OFF

In addition, this week’s Critical Hit offer drops the following Diablo III products 25% OFF.

BradyGames Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Signature Series Strategy Guide

Those who pre-ordered the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls might want to add the BradyGames Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Signature Series Strategy Guide.

bradygames-diablo-iii-reaper-of-souls-signature-series-guideThis Signature Series Strategy Guide from BradyGames leads gamers through the sprawling streets of Westmarch to save the city, and all of Sanctuary, from a new threat.

  • Complete quest guide covers every quest in the new Reaper of Souls expansion with town maps, minions, lootables for each new area, and descriptions of all unique monsters as you encounter them.

  • Exclusive dungeon maps & tactics for the most challenging areas and expert strategy for all boss battles.

  • In-depth heroes section provides a thorough rundown of all active and passive skills for each hero, including the all new Crusader.

  • Exhaustive overview of the Diablo III crafting system, including the new Artisan, Myriam the Mystic.

  • A comprehensive listing of all legendary and set equipment items—weapons, armor, and accessories—including descriptions for all affixes that enhance items in the game.

  • Bestiary includes a visual encyclopedia of all creatures, old foes and new threats alike, including critical stats and detailed descriptions of special attacks, abilities, and behaviors.

About Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

Though Diablo has been vanquished, the Prime Evil rages within the Black Soulstone, screaming for vengeance and release. Malthael, the Angel of Death, manifests in the mortal realms with a new purpose: to steal the Black Soulstone and bend its infernal power to his will. Take up arms with the new Crusader class or as one of the classic Heroes. It’s up to you to save the city of Westmarch, and Sanctuary itself.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: BRADY GAMES (March 25, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0744015421
ISBN-13: 978-0744015423

 

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