One of the Witch Doctor sets in Diablo III is called Zunimassa’s Haunt. The set is useful if you want to do a pet build.
Those who played a Witch Doctor in Season 6, and who completed certain objectives in the Season Journey, received the entire Zunimassa’s Haunt set. The pieces are obtainable through random drops, too.
Playing a Witch Doctor during Season 6 left me with a question. Who was Zunimassa?
The artwork you see in this post is not necessarily of Zunimassa herself, but potentially could resemble her. (The art came from Battle.Net and was created by Glenn Rane.) There are two things we can say for certain about Zunimassa – that she was female, and that she was a Witch Doctor.
This is established in the flavor text of the Zunimassa’s Trail set piece.
Zunimassa spread her wisdom further than any other witch doctor of the Teganze.
The Teganze is an inner area of the Torajan Jungles. It is the home to the Umbaru “a race of fearsome Witch Doctors”. This indicates that Zunimassa was an Umbaru Witch Doctor.
It also shows that she was not only wiser, but also more influential than the rest of the Witch Doctors who lived in the Teganze. Her wisdom spread further than anyone else’s did.
Why did Zunimassa’s wisdom spread so far? Part of the answer to that question is in the flavor text of the Zunimassa’s Cloth set piece.
Zunimassa believed that power was born of movement, and movement born of legs.
This indicates that Zunimassa didn’t simply believe this – she acted upon it. She made an effort to walk to places where people gathered so she could speak with them and share the wisdom she had learned. In addition, the people who learned something valuable or useful from Zunimassa would walk to other places and share Zunimassa’s wisdom with people who she hadn’t met (yet).
A person who does this often enough becomes well recognized. Eventually, entire groups of people would know Zuninassa’s name and recognize her when they saw her in a crowd. The existence of an entire armor set that is named for her indicates that she was well respected. To achieve this, Zunimassa had to do a lot of walking and speaking. Movement is born of legs.
The rest of that phrase is “power was born of movement”. The physical movement of Zunimassa’s body, as well as the movement of her wisdom from one person to the next, was how Zunimassa gained power. She may or may not have been an official leader – but she was an influential leader in her own way.
What wisdom was she sharing? We have some clues about the content of her wisdom in the Zunimassa’s set itself. It is a good set if you want to play with a pet build.
Wear two pieces of the set, and your Fetish Army lasts until they die (and has a reduced cool down). Wear four pieces, and your pets (zombie dogs and gargantuan) take less damage for every Fetish that is still alive. Wear the full six piece set, and your pets can do more damage than before.
Zunimassa had learned how to summon and control these creatures. She figured out how to keep them under her control (even when there was a whole bunch of them to keep track of at the same time).
Was she the only Witch Doctor that could do this? Probably not. I think the thing that made Zunimassa so important was that she knew how to control all those pets and how to do it in an extremely efficient and effective way. This wisdom, that she was sharing with others, would have been something people truly wanted to know.
Zunimassa did not limit herself, or her control, to Fetishes, zombie dogs, and the like, though. She also learned how to summon and control the spirits of people who had died.
When threatened, she drew upon the spirits to unleash the fury buried within.
Zunimassa was carrying around the skulls of deceased Witch Doctors, whose souls had gone to the Mbwiru Eikura, which is also called the Unformed Land. (The explanation that Mbwiru Eikura, and the Unformed Land, refer to the same place can be found in The Book of Cain).
It is not clear exactly whose skulls ended up as part of Zunimassa’s String of Skulls. We can speculate that they were people she slayed when they tried to kill her. They might have been Witch Doctors from her own tribe, or from a different one, who wanted to stop her from spreading her wisdom.
Whoever they were – they failed. Zunimassa took their skulls and used them to summon their spirits from Mbwiru Eikura when she needed protection from enemies who were threatening her. It’s easy to see why those particular spirits were furious.
This might sound incredibly creepy and disgusting to some of the other groups of people who live on Sanctuary. The Witch Doctors wouldn’t see it that way, though. They believe that there is only a thin veil between this world and the Unformed Land, and it is not uncommon for Witch Doctors to communicate with spirits.
Zunimassa was very powerful, but she was not immortal.
Contains the power of the plague that took Zunimassa to the Unformed Land.
Zunimassa died from a plague. Her army of pets and spirits were unable to save her from an enemy that they could neither touch nor frighten away.
I doubt that one of her enemies gave her the plague. If so, the ring would include the word hex or curse or some other word that indicates she had a bad spell put upon her.
Perhaps all that walking, and mingling with crowds of new people, is what caused Zunimassa’s death. She eventually encountered a virus that her body lacked the ability to fight off. There is no indication that the plague that sickened, weakened, and eventually killed Zunimassa spread to the other Witch Doctors in her village. They either didn’t catch it or were able to fight it off. The powerful Zunimassa had a hidden weakness.
Or, maybe it wasn’t actually a plague after all. Zunimassa might have walked through a part of the jungle that was new to her, brushed up against a strange plant, and broke out in hives. The “pox” could have been caused by a severe allergic reaction. This would explain why no one else caught the “plague” from her.
After Zunimassa died, someone (presumably someone who was in a position of power) collected up some of her items. The first was her ring, which they felt held “the power of the plague” that killed Zunimassa. The fact that this ring, and her other items could be safely handled by others tells me that she died of an allergy, not a virus or plague.
The person in power collected Zunimassa’s cloth pants, which reminded people of the power she gained by walking around and sharing her wisdom. He or she collected Zunimassa’s boots, which were undoubtedly well worn by the time she died. Together, these two items reminded people of Zunimassa’s personal belief: “power was born of movement, and movement born of legs“.
Her String of Skulls, an item of obvious power, was also collected. There must have been someone who had learned from Zunimassa how to control those spirits.
All witch doctors know that the best way to hear the whispers of Zunimassa is to perform the rituals flawlessly, with fingers nimble and strong.
Some of the wisdom that Zunimassa was sharing must have included details about how to perform certain rituals. It appears the ability to move one’s fingers, quickly and perfectly, in a particular way, played an important part in getting a ritual to work.
The person in power took Zunimassa’s gloves, presumably to pass them on to a Witch Doctor who was exceptionally talented at performing whatever rituals Zunimassa taught him or her. The “whispers of Zunimassa”, in this case, were likely metaphorical. It was a fancy way of saying the gloves were something to remember her by, or to remember the wisdom she shared.
The warrior who dons this armor will always have the spirit of Zunimassa upon them.
The person of power took the armor that Zunimassa used to wear so that it could be shared with one of the people that she influenced.
The word “marrow” is telling. It makes me think that this set piece is made up of the chest armor that Zunimassa wore and possibly some of her bones as well. Her spine might have been added to the back of the armor. Her ribs might reinforce it.
The elder spirit Zunimassa communes with the wearer of this mask to reveal the ways in which the world emerges from the Unformed Land.
Zunimassa’s Vision is not a typical helm. This is the skull of elder Zunimassa herself. The Witch Doctor who wears it becomes connected with the spirit of Zunimassa. She whispers words of wisdom, advice, and maybe even some small talk, to the Witch Doctor who is wearing her skull.
This time, the “whispers” are not metaphorical. Zunimassa’s String of Skulls establishes that obtaining a deceased person’s skull is a good way to form a connection with that person’s spirit. Well, if you are a Witch Doctor, that is.
Undoubtedly, the majority of people who live in Sanctuary would find this situation to be nightmarish and creepy. A Witch Doctor, however, who believes that the separation between this world and Mbwiru Eikura is thin, would find it comforting to have Zunimassa, the wisest and most influential Witch Doctor of her time, whispering wisdom to him or her.
Now you know why this set is called Zunimassa’s Haunt. Her spirit is haunting it!