Diablo® III

Zoltan Kulle the good guy/PC the Villain?

Is Zoltan Kulle the real (tragic) hero of the story?

He's certainly a lot smarter than every other character in the game, including the player character.

He calls everything right.

PC allies not trustworthy - check
Angels are bastards - check
Make humans all super-powered - check
Try and ally with us to fix everything - check

And then we kill him because we won't listen to him.

Stupid.

Zoltan Kulle was a good guy, no matter how many times Blizzard makes him laugh like Snidely Whiplash.

Killing him led directly the re-creation of the Prime Evil, who almost certainly isn't dead, and the loss of the Black Soul Stone, the only weapon useable against the Daemons and Angels.

So damn stupid.


Yeah, I agree, he's actually one of the best characters in the game. It is possible we may have him in the expansion, since he's the creator of the black soulstone. Furthermore, he knows how the whole black soul stone works.

Blizzard did it in such a way that there are characters standing for their own kind (but more extremist).

Zoltan kulle = nep
Imperius = angelic council
Diablo = hell
Edited by obiwankenobi#6536 on 6/5/2012 1:57 AM PDT
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He was the most fleshed out character in the game. I wonder if his dialog hints at heaven attacking humanity at some point. Imperius seems like a douche bag making it seem not to implausible.
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05/30/2012 09:52 AMPosted by Consulo
Adria found traces of all the Evils if you payed attention. In addition, you can't really truly destroy them...they regenerate out of the abyss or something like that. Can't remember specifics. As for Zoltun, he wasn't really a good guy to start...mistrust of the past lingered to the present.


The story is intentionally presented so as to manipulate us into believing Zolton isn't really a good guy, but where's the evidence? Sounding sinister and laughing like a maniac is not an evil act. The Horadrim called him a torturer, murderer, and monster, but that's just hearsay. It's important to think critically about these things, and extreme accusations require extremely strong evidence. There is some reason to believe the Horadrim are pretty decent people, which gives them a certain amount of clout, but even an extremely righteous organization should have to provide proof to convince you someone has tortured or murdered. It's not a stretch at all to believe they may simply have tarred him with these labels because of their divergent ideologies. (I.E. their view on angels)

06/03/2012 03:25 PMPosted by Austerity
Kulle declared his ambition to take over the world, that's not exactly the sort of thing you tolerate from a powerful person such as him. Agree that he is a tragic case, but that's why he is referenced as direct example of how if you fight evil too long you are at greater risk of becoming it. Also, he's wrong about the angels being just as bad as the demons; such a false equivalency shows he has accepted evil. Maybe if he acted more like a decent person he could have joined the good team, but he was corrupt.


These things are certainly more tangible as you can hear them with your own ears. Kulle's striving towards "godhood" is definitely a red flag about his personality, but power is not inherently evil -- it's the means you will stoop to to acquire it, and what you do with it once you have it that define whether a desire for power or even dominance is good, evil, or somewhere in between. There is reason to SUSPECT that Kulle will go to lengths for power and not use it perfectly, but a mentally and socially healthy person does not assume the worst about their friends.

Kulle's statement about angels being as bad as demons is probably the biggest real red flag there is about him. I agree that it is a false equivalency because demons would certainly vote unanimously to wipe out humans were they to have a similar vote. The tendency to generalize about a group as Kulle does with Angels shows prejudice which may indicate arrogance and contempt. (What about the half of angels that voted to keep humanity alive?) That being said, his view is by no means unsympathetic. If another country had a vote about whether to wipe out your country and leave no survivors, and the vote was nearly deadlocked, you'd have to be insane to not view people from that country with no small amount of suspicion, and take reasonable measures to protect yourself. The fact that they happen to be angels is no reason to ignore them as a threat, nor does it make defending yourself against them any less ethically validated. If half of them did vote for genocide, that's clear evidence right there that Angels are not all good.

The point I'm making is that these are certainly red flags, but not sufficient reason to judge a person, let alone kill him. The kind of hubris that makes one think it's up to them to "tolerate" or not tolerate different ideologies to the point of meting out death -- when those ideologies will not clearly lead to injustice and suffering -- is more than a red flag, it is arguably the purest kind of evil.

Imagine yourself in your characters position. You've walked into the inner sanctum of the super powerful sorcerer who everyone repeatedly warned you not to trust. He tells you "Actually, your allies are all lying to you and you're being manipulated, so I'm not going to give you the soul stone. Instead you should work with me to conquer the word."

Do you a) Assume he's a tragic hero? or b) assume he's been manipulating you?

Admittedly, if Diablo's story had more depth I'd have liked to see Kulle stick around as our ace in the hole to deal with whoever was lying to us, but, whatever. Diablo games have always been very light on plot.


First, you're wrong on a factual statement. Kulle never says he's not going to give you the stone. His most recent position on the matter was that "the bargain stands."

continued in next post
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continued from previous post

Just for kicks, let's assume the hero is not being thickheaded and postulate that Kulle is in fact one bad dude, and that we have proof enough that he's been manipulating us. Kulle's still a smart guy, and no more a friend of demons than you are, but more importantly he's an independent thinker. Despite being surrounded by Horadrim who love angels and hate demons, he came to his own conclusions and had enough conviction in his beliefs to act on them at great risk to himself. This proves that Kulle, despite his dark and despicable ways, is an intellectually and philosophically rigorous person, and that's just the sort of person who WILL LISTEN TO REASON, especially from a fellow nephalem for whom he clearly has a great deal of respect and admiration given that he asks you to join him.

So what's the appropriate reaction to this situation? A strategic person would form an alliance with Kulle and use the opportunity to keep an eye on him while steering him towards good and away from evil using reasoned arguments. An honest person would begrudgingly let Kulle live in exchange for the soulstone, because that was the deal, perhaps with a warning that if he returned to his old ways you would come back for him. A compassionate person would at least do his due diligence on trying to make Kulle see the error of his evil ways before heading straight to murdertown.

Without this sequence of events, the whole game would be simple morally unambiguous. There's really no shame hinted at in slaughtering evil demons and undead wholesale. It's nice to have a part that does give a degree of moral ambiguity, but the problem is it goes past the point of ambiguity -- as I've hopefully exposed, the "hero" is clearly and unambiguously the villian in this situation -- because of his/her thickheadedness/stupidity/lack of intellectual rigour, hubris, contempt, dishonesty, and/or heartlessness, he/she murders an innocent, reasonable man who is trying to help. This makes the hero's character unrelatable to anyone (sociopaths excepted) who thinks critically and realizes how unjustified it is to murder Kulle.

On the plus side, there's a valuable lesson about heroism in this story, unintentionally or not. In most popular media, the hero is the brash, thickheaded one who plunges in headfirst, and the villian is the cunning one who schemes and plots and manipulates without getting his hands dirty. Diablo 3 turns this on its head by having the "hero" be the villian and Kulle, who appears villainous because of our preconceived notions of villainy, turns out to be the good guy. The consequences of the "hero"'s stupidity and lack of moral fiber are clear when Adria succeeds in her plan and heaven is ravaged by the prime evil. Were Kulle around, he would likely have prevented this horrendous chain of events with his strengths (willpower, cunning, and powerful magics) and desire to make the world a better place in his own vision and his own way, despite whatever shortcomings he may have. Isn't that the very definition of a hero?
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Is Zoltan Kulle the real (tragic) hero of the story?

He's certainly a lot smarter than every other character in the game, including the player character.

He calls everything right.

PC allies not trustworthy - check
Angels are bastards - check
Make humans all super-powered - check
Try and ally with us to fix everything - check

And then we kill him because we won't listen to him.

Stupid.

Zoltan Kulle was a good guy, no matter how many times Blizzard makes him laugh like Snidely Whiplash.

Killing him led directly the re-creation of the Prime Evil, who almost certainly isn't dead, and the loss of the Black Soul Stone, the only weapon useable against the Daemons and Angels.

So damn stupid.


Your talking like WE KNEW he wasn't lying.
Untill beating A3, I actually thought he was trying to do a whole "Come to the Dark Side" thing.
It's this way for a reason. Its actually pretty well written.
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I don't understand how they build Zoltun Kulle up (at blizzcon they say he discovered immortality and the Horadrim couldn't kill him so they cut him) and then he ends up being one of the easiest fights in the game... You can make the argument that the main character is Nephalem but Kulle claims to posses equal power to one as well, plus he literally knows everything! Doubt this guy is truly dead.
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Your talking like WE KNEW he wasn't lying.
Untill beating A3, I actually thought he was trying to do a whole "Come to the Dark Side" thing.
It's this way for a reason. Its actually pretty well written.


Innocent until proven guilty, especially when doling out death.

Kulle's dialogue is indeed some of the best-written in the game because of how evil it sounds without actually implicating him concretely of any real wrongdoing. However, the way it plays out with the player character makes me scratch my head. He asks you to join him, so you kill him. The first time I played I was like "Wait why are we fighting? Did I miss something here?"
Edited by SchemingHero#1982 on 6/5/2012 10:14 PM PDT
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06/05/2012 06:09 PMPosted by SchemingHero
Isn't that the very definition of a hero?


I like your argument.
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Innocent until proven guilty


they dont believe in that in those days....
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06/04/2012 09:36 PMPosted by Andrew
Zoltan Kulle is proof that Blizzard can still write compelling, memorable, and fun characters. With the exception of the choice to have every line end with that stupid laughter and the battle coming about in a rather nonsensical way, Kulle was very well done. The voice actor did a great job, there was ambiguity to his character that allows for multiple interpretations of his ultimate moral nature. He felt like an extension of the Diablo universe touching on many of the themes established in D1 and D2. Kulle can be viewed as a villain, a dupe, or a tragic hero depending on how you take his lines (again, ignore the stupid laugh!) I loved Kulle.

Agreed. Kulle was a great character minus the cliche and nonsensical (I'm sure Chris Metzen had a hand in this.) He died too soon though. Kulle sounds more like a tragic hero, he served humanity and disagreed with both Angels and Demons in Sanctuary. They clearly tried to paint him as evil right-off-the-bat though, making him a very 1-dimensional character most of the time.
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The teaching we get from Kulle is pretty clear and easy, I'll explain to you paesants.

Not sure if you ever heard the sayings "When you look in the abyss, the abyss looks into you" and "When you go to war with monsters you become a monster yourself".
Kulle says that both angels and demons want to delete humanity, which may sound like sweet heroic swords.
But he's not actually fighting them for the humanity, he just wants to rule the world.

It's no surprise people fall for this, the worst dictators in the history raised to power by claiming they were saving their people from bigger evils.

That is why you kill him.
While your objective may coincide, he just wants to gain power in order to rule the world, and the hero isn't an idiot to go vote for him next election.
He kills both him and the demons, and then leaves heaven with a lesson learned (a lesson Tyrael will make sure to remind the angels).

Now go vote the local fascist party because they "want to remove the evils of capitalism and communism so they can give people freedom".
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Kulle was basically the Magneto of this story. I hope he comes back, and maybe creates a band of "dark nephalem." Maybe we have to join him to stop Belial, who managed to trick us the first time around? (Come to think of it, this would offer a good "theme" for PvP - Nephalem Vs. Dark Nephalem.)

Something to think about.
Edited by Vladkar#1243 on 8/23/2012 8:47 PM PDT
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That is why you kill him.
While your objective may coincide, he just wants to gain power in order to rule the world, and the hero isn't an idiot to go vote for him next election.


That's kind of the point. He was a really cool character, until they randomly make him way more power-mad than he had ever seemed, basically just say "join me or die", and we kill him. He's interesting until this part.

Kulle was basically the Magneto of this story. I hope he comes back, and maybe creates a band of "dark nephalem." Maybe we have to join him to stop Belial, who managed to trick us the first time around? (Come to think of it, this would offer a good "theme" for PvP - Nephalem Vs. Dark Nephalem.)

Something to think about.


I like the analogy of Magneto, but I don't think there will be Dark Nephalem. It would be way too easy for evil to win with Nephalem on their side. PvP with this wouldn't make sense, because everyone's character has gone through the good guy story already.
Edited by Jailbar#1136 on 8/25/2012 8:46 AM PDT
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The teaching we get from Kulle is pretty clear and easy, I'll explain to you paesants.

Not sure if you ever heard the sayings "When you look in the abyss, the abyss looks into you" and "When you go to war with monsters you become a monster yourself".
Kulle says that both angels and demons want to delete humanity, which may sound like sweet heroic swords.
But he's not actually fighting them for the humanity, he just wants to rule the world.

It's no surprise people fall for this, the worst dictators in the history raised to power by claiming they were saving their people from bigger evils.

That is why you kill him.
While your objective may coincide, he just wants to gain power in order to rule the world, and the hero isn't an idiot to go vote for him next election.
He kills both him and the demons, and then leaves heaven with a lesson learned (a lesson Tyrael will make sure to remind the angels).

Now go vote the local fascist party because they "want to remove the evils of capitalism and communism so they can give people freedom".
Obviously, a lot of people are trying to make sense of the nonsense that is the story of Diablo 3.

First of all, the Player-Character isn't thinking for himself. numerous examples can be put forward to demonstrate this.

What you are saying is that the Nephalem, the Player-char, kills Kulle because he has a reason, the reason being that he has judged Kulle's character. However, in order for him to have judged Kulle's character, he would have had to have been thinking for himself, which he clearly never does.

In short, all of the Nephalem's ideas about Kulle are given to him by Adria, and her mindless-zombie-follower Tyrael. Is Adria a truthful source of information??? If the Nephalem is such a great judge of character that he can kill Kulle and feel good about it, then why does he trust the information he gets from Adria???

Adria is the one with the dark motives. Adria is the one planning the overthrow of the High Heavens and thus Sanctuary, but the Nephalem never makes any character judgements about her, mindlessly, blindly follows her every command.

Zolton Kulle is killed, because he's a plot-device and he's served his purpose. Keeping him alive (as I try to point out elsewhere) would introduce more complication into the story than the writers want.

There's no getting around the fact that its a poorly written story.
08/23/2012 08:39 PMPosted by Vladkar
Kulle was basically the Magneto of this story.
This is just another attempt to make sense of nonsense.
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I like the analogy of Magneto, but I don't think there will be Dark Nephalem. It would be way too easy for evil to win with Nephalem on their side. PvP with this wouldn't make sense, because everyone's character has gone through the good guy story already.


They wouldn't necessarily have to be "evil" - they would just be Pro-Nephalem. They would see Nephalem as the next step of human evolution. They would be against both heaven and hell, and would be willing to go to whatever length to see Nephalem take their rightful place as the rulers of Sanctuary.

As for PVP, I think it would just be a good theme. When teams are divided, one group of players are assigned to the Nephalem team, one to the Dark Nephalem team. It wouldn't have any bearing on your actual character's story.
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I totally agree. When I played through the first time with friends, I made the same comments. If it was up to me I wouldn't have killed him. He didn't even seem evil, at all. A sinister cackle DOES NOT MAKE YOU EVIL!
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I agree that Kulle was a well built-up character, minus the laughs (who does that?).

But the end was just so stupid - like many already said, why just kill him?

And HOW did we kill Kulle? The Horadrim, those mighty badass sorcerers who hunted down the 3 prime evils and imprisoned them in soul stones (Tal Rasha even offering himself up as vessel) were unable to kill Kulle.

Fast foward, some random Barbarian hits him in the face with an Axe, dead.
No explanation offered. Seems legit.
If this is due to his "resurrection" – why did not the Horadrim just resurrect and then kill him? They could have done it twice.

Its like Kulle was done by a separate writer, but the evil force who twisted all of D3's plot eventually corrupted this character too.
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Zoltan Kulle woulda made a better diablo then leah...
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Of course Kulle is evil! Did you see his "lair"? None of those corridors have railings. And everyone *knows* having no railings is a sure sign of evil.
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As he would like to rule the world with the player and not fulfill what he promise. This is the evil side from him.

For sure, he has his own vision that to make the world better. If you think that some past leaders with great vision from world war 1 / 2 is actually making the world better. Then i will agree that Zoltan Kulle is a good guy.
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