About a year ago, I attempted to participate in a blogging challenge called “A to Z”. The rules were simple. Write one blog for each letter of the alphabet. Post that blog on a specific day. You could write about whatever you wanted to, so long as it fit the letter of the day.
I thought it would be fun to write my “A to Z” blogs about Diablo III related stuff. I quickly learned that I had a lot more to say than I anticipated, and found the blogging challenge to be overwhelming. I failed to finish it. So, why not incorporate the untouched, but planned out, topics into #Blaugust?
W is for Wives in Sanctuary. I noticed that NPCs (non-player characters) who are wives are just as strong and vital as their husbands – until death. For some reason, wives who have become ghosts need the player to help them. Husbands who have died, on the other hand, are strong and attack the player.
Pick a character class in Diablo III. Your character, officially, is single. None of them ever mention having a husband, or having a wife. The Demon Hunter and the Witch Doctor mention a sister, but that’s as far as the official story goes in terms of the player character. (If you happen to want to create a backstory for your character that includes a spouse – so be it.)
There are, however, several married couples scattered across Sanctuary. These couples seem to be pretty well matched in terms of personality and strength. The people of Sanctuary don’t seem to have a custom where either the husband, or the wife, is always expected to be the dominant person in a marriage. There is a sense of equality, even when the couples are having what could be described as an argument.
In New Tristram, there is a married couple that make comments to each other about the news of the day. They talk about Leah, who has been up all night tending to Haedrig’s wife (as one example). If you play a female character, the husband of this couple will say something that indicates that he is attracted to you. If you play a male character, the wife of this couple will say something that indicates that she is attracted to you.
But, neither one says this directly to the player character. Instead, they mention this knowing full well their spouse is listening. The spouse who did not make the comment about being attracted to the Hero character responds by saying something that boils down to “The Hero doesn’t want you!”. These two are, in a somewhat passive aggressive way, seeking a sign that their spouse still loves them and wants them around.
Rondal and Marta are an elderly couple that are in the Keep. At the start of Act III, Rondal tells Marta that he’s going off to fight, and there’s a chance he might not be coming back this time. She responds by reminding him that he’s been saying that “for forty-four years”, and encourages him to “go on, now.”
Rondal is not a young soldier! Yet, he’s still able to walk around in full armor (which must be heavy) and swing a weapon. He’s a seasoned soldier, and must be incredibly strong for his age. In a later conversation, these two discuss a time when Marta was kidnapped by invading Barbarians. She convinced the male Barbarian who carried her off to bring her back. She has since maintained a friendship with her former kidnapper. Marta is clearly an emotionally strong woman, who can keep her cool in difficult situations.
Lord Harold Snowe and Lady Serena are in The Survivor’s Enclave. Right from the start, it’s clear that Harold is an asshole. He suggests that Serena sell her wedding ring, and her dress, so they would have some money. He tells Serena that she could sneak back home to get her jewelry box (so they could sell it) even though it is clear that she would be in great danger from all of Malthael’s minions. He explains that she would be fine, because no one notices her anyway. It’s obvious that Harold is a selfish jerk that cares more for money than he does for his wife.
At first glance, this couple seems very unbalanced. Serena loves Harold – Harold doesn’t love Serena. Eventually, things balance out, after Lord Harold Snowe wonders aloud “I wonder if we could sell wigs made from your hair?”
Lady Serena: That is enough, Harold! If we survive this nightmare, I am leaving for my parents’ estate in Bramwell.
Lord Harold Snowe: That’s a great idea, dearest! Your father has more than enough money to –
Lady Serena: Follow me and I will tie you naked to a tree for the crows. Maybe then you’ll finally think of something other than money.
These three examples of couples in Sanctuary show that both the husbands, and the wives, can be strong. Being married doesn’t automatically cause either spouse to lose their power (be it physical, emotional, or sheer force of personality).
For some reason, this balance changes the instant the wife becomes a ghost. In general, wives that have become ghosts end up waiting around for a Hero to happen by who can help her solve a problem. She cannot help herself. Whatever power she had in life has disappeared.
Meanwhile, it’s obvious that husbands that have died keep their power. They immediately attempt to kill the player character.
Penny Bartholomew is one example of a ghost wife who has no power anymore. Find her in the Briarthorn Cemetery, and you start an event called “Penny For Your Troubles”. The goal is to help free the spirit of Friedrich Bartholomew.
Penny Bartholomew: I can hear my husband moaning inside his sarcophagus. Please end his suffering.
Penny can’t help her husband on her own. So, she floats around and waits, in the hope that someday a Hero will come by and help her to end her husband’s suffering.
The player cracks open the sarcophagus, Friedrich Bartholomew pops out – and wastes no time getting into a fight with the Hero. He clearly still has plenty of strength, and the ability to use it.
Penny Bartholomew: Do not struggle so, my love. This hero has come to set you free.
Meanwhile, Penny will be off to the side, waiting for the hero to set her husband free from his suffering.
The Hero is able to finish the event, and kill Friedrich. He and Penny are reunited for a short time. They get wiped out by a Death Maiden who comes to collect their souls for Malthael. For some reason, the Death Maiden never noticed the ghost of Penny Bartholomew floating around by her husband’s grave until after her husband was released, killed for the second time, and turned into a ghost.
Lady Dunhyld is located in the Defiled Crypt. She’s been floating around in there, for who knows how long, waiting for a Hero to help her.
Lady Dunhyld: Grave robbers have defiled my tomb. Now, my husband writhes in torment because I do not rest at his side.
The player needs to go to three, glowing, points in the dungeon (all of which are nearby). Click them, and a bunch of skeletons come out to fight you. It doesn’t matter what order you do them in. Lord Dunhyld won’t appear until you click on the last one.
Lord Dunhyld, Phantom of Anguish, appears. He’s immediately ready and able to fight with the player. As he does, he’s asking “Why do you torment me?” and assuring his wife “I will not let them desecrate you!” He sounds really sad, and somewhat confused, and the player has to kill him.
Return the bones to the Dunhyld Sarcophagus. One can assume that the spirits of Lord and Lady Dunhyld are resting inside it.
The dead are now at peace.
Penny and Friedrich appear to be common people (yet rich enough to have a big space in the Briarthorn Cemetery). Lord and Lady Dunhyld are important enough to have titles in front of their names. In each case, the wife becomes a ghost with no agency while her husband becomes a wrath that has the power to kill off whatever Hero comes along to help his ghost wife.
What would happen if a King and Queen died? We have an answer to that question with an NPC named Queen Asylla. She is the wife of King Leoric, who went mad and later became the Skeleton King. Would a Queen, who holds the highest title a female can obtain in Sanctuary’s royalty, continue to keep at least a little of her power after death?
Nope! Queen Asylla has become a ghost who has to wait around in the Cursed Hold until a Hero comes to help her free her servants. She can’t do it herself, and she is also unable to accompany the Hero on this quest.
Queen Asylla: I am Asylla – once queen to our beloved Leoric. My servants and I were consumed by his madness.
Queen Asylla: Now I give you my blessing, champion, to release my people from their eternal torment.
There goes the Hero (in this case, my Crusader) off to fight her way through the prison, find Queen Asylla’s trapped servants, and set them free. Queen Asylla stays behind, floating around, for no good reason. Does she disappear after the player frees her servants? It’s anybody’s guess.
If you played through Story Mode, then you’ve already killed Queen Asylla’s husband – in his Skeleton King form. The Skeleton King not only has the power to attack the player, but also can summon lots of minion skeletons while he’s in the midst of a fight. What is it about Sanctuary that causes dead husbands to become powerful, and that at the same time, causes dead wives to become ghosts who have no power to do anything?
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