Role Play: Demon Hunter background and story
World of Warcraft: Legion is coming on August 30 — and if you pre-ordered the expansion, you’ll have access to WoW‘s latest class a little earlier than that. For most players, it’s a chance to learn the class and get a handle on how it plays before tackling the Broken Isles. For roleplayers, it’s a chance to create a new character with a new background…or advance an existing character’s story.
Either way, the Demon Hunter background is a little more convoluted than expected, and carries a lot more weight than we’d guessed. In the novel Illidan, the experience of becoming a Demon Hunter and what that entails is spelled out in full, horrifying detail. For roleplayers, that means we suddenly have a more solid footing on where to begin with our characters. Please note: There are obviously going to be some spoilers for both Legion and Illidan in this column.
What makes a Demon Hunter?
First things first: Being a Demon Hunter isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a sacrifice. In the novel Illidan, it was made very clear that each of the Illidari-to-be were elves that had gone through tremendous amounts of suffering at the hands of the Burning Legion. They were all driven to the Black Temple, and to Illidan, for one very specific reason — vengeance. They had nothing left in their lives but vengeance. No hope, no family, no friends, just the desire to see the Legion pay for what it had done.
That left them in a state where they were willing to do anything to see that accomplished, which is the only way they’d accept what was to become of them. It looked deceptively simple at first — kill the demon that wronged you, devour its heart. But that was only the first aspect of the ritual. That demonic blood caused visions that allowed the fledgling Demon Hunters to see — to really see — the vast, unstoppable might of the Burning Legion, and every atrocity the Legion ever committed.
That’s why Demon Hunters put out their eyes. It isn’t a moment of honor, it isn’t a moment of noble sacrifice. It’s a desperate moment in which they are trying to do anything — anything — to stop those visions from playing in their head. And after all that is said and done, what Demon Hunters are left with is the fact they have essentially become part demon themselves. In devouring the heart of their enemy, they have contained that within their own bodies, and have willingly pitted themselves in a struggle with the demon within.
Where do Demon Hunters come from?
In Legion, the story of Demon Hunters follows where they are left at the end of Illidan. All Demon Hunters were Illidari being trained by Illidan, sent to Mardum to retrieve an artifact for Illidan. All of this experience takes place in the starting zone, and in the timeline, it takes place at the end of Burning Crusade. Despite your best efforts, you are unable to return to the Black Temple in time — Illidan has been defeated, and you and your fellow Demon Hunters are captured by the Wardens and imprisoned.
Years later, you’re awakened on Azeroth in the Vault of the Wardens, where you’ve been released because the facility has come under attack by the Burning Legion. After finding your way out, you’re left on a world that desperately needs you — because the Legion has arrived in full force. That vengeance you were looking for? You’ll find plenty of opportunity to carry it out here.
But that’s the game’s story. If you wanted to, you could easily come up with a story of your own — there are other Demon Hunters out there in the world. Reclusive, yes, but they exist, and it’s entirely possible your character sought them out to learn their secrets. Or you could simply have your character approach the newly-awakened Illidari in hopes of learning their ways. You don’t have to take the game’s origin story, there’s plenty of ways to craft your own.
Demon Hunter character development
If you decide playing a Demon Hunter is right up your alley, here’s what you need to know: These are not happy people. None of them are. All of them have come to the point where they have nothing left in the world but their wish for vengeance against the Legion. Becoming a Demon Hunter means sacrificing everything you are, and everything you’ve ever been. It means that you will never be “at peace” again — your character will constantly be fighting an internal war of dominance with the demon they consumed.
That demon wants out. As long as it is contained by your character, it can’t return to the Twisting Nether, and can never be “reborn.” It can never be free — and it really wants to be free. It’s also really keen on death, destruction, corruption, and everything else the Burning Legion embraces. Your character has to contain that.
What does this mean? It means that every Demon Hunter is a little mad, in a way. They’re absorbed with destroying the Legion, and willing to do just about anything to bring that about. Things like politics, wealth, status, family — none of it means anything to a Demon Hunter. There’s just the hunt, the kill, and perhaps — when all the fighting is done and they achieve some semblance of victory — the sweet embrace of oblivion.
How are Demon Hunters viewed
Ironically, Demon Hunters are dedicated and obsessed with eliminating the Legion menace and protecting a world that wants absolutely nothing to do with them, for the most part. There’s a reason people are wary of Demon Hunters. It’s obvious just by looking at them that they’ve become at least part demon themselves — and it’s impossible to believe that anyone would willingly do that to themselves for any reason other than a thirst for power. Unless of course, they were completely insane. Neither of these options are particularly heartwarming.
What this means for your character is that they likely aren’t expected to be embraced with open arms…and they’re apt to be suspicious of anyone that chooses to do so. It also means that they’re going to be a little wary of the world around them, as well — and they aren’t going to let that world, or the people in it, distract them from the task at hand. Distractions might lead to that demon inside them suddenly gaining control — and that’s no good for anyone.
Demon Hunters are pretty fascinating characters, sculpted around the idea of internal dominance and control. I wouldn’t recommend roleplaying one if you’re wanting to create a cheerful, sunny character with an eternally optimistic view of the world. But if you’re looking for some complex, creative roleplay around a fascinating concept — and a character that ties into what the next expansion has in store — a Demon Hunter might very well be the breath of fresh air you’re looking for. And if you’re looking at creating a Demon Hunter, I highly recommend picking up Illidan for some research while you’re putting your character together.
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