There are two main ways in which to play Diablo III. You can do Adventure Mode, and spend your time completing bounties and running through Rifts. Or, you can do Story Mode, go through the game Act by Act, and experience the story chronologically.
I suspect that Adventure Mode is the more popular of the two options. It’s faster. It gives players a more efficient way to level a character. It could very well be the best way to find the “loot” you have been seeking.
Story Mode gives the player the overall story that involves the main characters, as well as some history. In addition, there’s a bunch of smaller stories in it just waiting to be found. One of those stories is about an NPC (non-player character) named Morgan that the player never actually gets to meet. All we have to go on are some pages from his journal.
Who is Morgan? He is a guard who was assigned to Bastion’s Keep. Players can find his journals in satchels that are on top of the Keep in Act III. Together, they tell a story of a young soldier. We know Morgan is young because the game automatically reads journals to the player. Morgan’s voice is that of a young man.
The player never actually finds Morgan himself (either alive or dead). All that is left is his journals. Put them together, and you end up watching a soldier become more and more disillusioned with his lot in life.
Morgan’s Journal, Part 1: Transferring to Bastion’s Keep is as dull as I’d imagined. The soldiers spend most of their time gambling. I guess this is what I should expect from this hollowed-out rock, a shadow of its former glory. Still, I am here to provide for Anna. I hope she is well – Guard Morgan.
From this, we know that Morgan did not start out his military career in Bastion’s Keep. We also can tell that it wasn’t where he wanted to go. Before he arrived, he expected the place would be “dull”.
Upon arriving, he finds that the place is as dull as he imagined it would be. This is an example of a situation where a person believes something – and at the same time hopes to be proven wrong. Instead, Morgan finds Bastion’s Keep to be “a hollowed-out rock, a shadow of it’s former glory”. I get the feeling he finds it discouraging that the soldiers are spending most of their time gambling. Either he disapproves of gambling, or was expecting that they would be busy in battle.
It is clear that Morgan is bored and unhappy. But, he can’t quit. He’s there “to provide for Anna”, and he hopes that she is well. Who is Anna? To me, Morgan seems to be a bit young to have a wife. He’s an adult, though, or I doubt he would have been allowed to become a guard. So, it’s possible Anna is his wife. Morgan could be sending his wages back home to provide – financially – for Anna.
Or, Anna could be Morgan’s unmarried sister. Maybe she’s younger than he is and not eligible for marriage yet. Or, she could be his older sister who hasn’t gotten married. When Morgan writes that he hopes Anna is well, it appears he’s not concerned that she caught a cold. Anna has some kind of serious illness that probably makes it difficult for her to find a husband. That illness could be expensive to treat, and probably prevents Anna from working. Morgan could be sending his wages home to provide for his sister Anna.
Morgan’s Journal. Part 2: The captain looked grim today. A messenger came in the middle of the night. They know something they aren’t telling us. Maybe coming here was a bigger mistake than I thought… – Guard Morgan.
There’s no way to know, for certain, how much time passed between when Morgan wrote the first journal page and when he wrote this second one. It appears he’s been in Bastion’s Keep for long enough to have gotten used to the way things typically worked.
Something changed, though. Morgan noticed that the captain looked grim today. This indicates that Morgan knows the captain well enough to discern between when he looks grim, and when he looks “normal”. Morgan also noticed that a messenger came in the middle of the night. While the other guards have been spending their time gambling, Morgan has been paying attention to what’s going on around him. He has picked up on something very subtle that the other guards may not have been aware of.
Morgan puts the captain’s grimness together with the messenger that arrived in the middle of the night, and concludes that the message contained very bad news. He seems nervous about what could be coming next. He must have known that he would be put into battle at some point. However, the situation now seems much more dangerous than what Morgan may have been prepared to deal with.
He starts to question his decision to come to Bastion’s Keep in the first place. What once must have looked like a good opportunity for him, and that would pay him enough to “provide for Anna”, now seems like a big mistake. Morgan has grown anxious and has started second-guessing himself.
Morgan’s Journal. Part 3: The demons came at night, silent as death; the night watch was overrun in moments. Since then, it’s been an endless massacre. Those creatures… they’re straight out of a nightmare. I don’t think I’ll be going home after all. I’m sorry, Anna… – Guard Morgan
Morgan’s suspicions that something very bad was about to happen proved to be correct. The battle started before the guards were prepared. Demons attacked Bastion’s Keep at night, and wiped out the night watch. Just like that, an entire watch of soldiers was dead and gone.
Morgan described what happened next, and what is continuing to happen as “an endless massacre.” The guards at Bastion’s Keep are no match for the demons who are attacking. This is no ordinary battle. “Those creatures… they’re straight out of a nightmare”. There’s no reinforcements coming to help, and the demons vastly outnumber them.
This is the point where Morgan realizes that he could be dead very soon. In what might have been his last spare moment, he writes one last page in his journal. He doesn’t have the time to send Anna a letter, to tell her what happened to him, so he uses his journal instead. Maybe he is hoping that someone will find his journal and send it to Anna.
What happens to Anna? There’s no way to know for certain. We are left wondering how long it took for word to reach her that Morgan had died. Who is providing for Anna now? Did she die from whatever illness she had, the one that made Morgan “hope she is well”? The story is a compelling one. I can’t help but wonder if Anna was unwell after a zombie bite, and is now out there, somewhere, wandering around in search of dead villagers.
This is the kind of thing that can be missed if you completely skip over Story Mode. The player doesn’t need this information in order to progress through Act III. It has no bearing on how well or poorly a player does in Rifts. It can be ignored without consequence. That being said, I happen to like discovering the little pieces of story that help to paint a picture of what Sanctuary is like for the people who aren’t the Hero character.