"I'm a simple man. Give me a good meal, a warm bed, and a handful of jewels."
Shen has gone by many names throughout his life, the alias "Covetous Shen" being the latest. He has, at times, been compared to Zei, the Trickster God in Xiansian mythology; it is implied several times that the connection might go deeper than mere comparison. He does not deny that he is far from normal, and has lived longer than a normal man.
Early Life and Adventures
Shen hails from Xiansai, a land he would come to express negative sentiment about. He left due to his wanderlust. During his youth, he had "interesting experiences" with Zakarum priestesses. Another interesting experience Shen had at a (relatively) young age was during the Festival of Masks, where a woman stole his money pouch, with only a kiss in return. Mask still attached, Shen chased her halfway across the city's rooftops. He lost her, but still remembered her laugh.
Shen claims to have met Zoltun Kulle at some point in the past, considering him to be "perfectly reasonable" for a mage. During his travels, Shen came to search for a cursed jewel, said jewel containing a terrible creature named Dirgest. It had killed thousands, and could not be held without harm by anyone but himself. The jewel had, in Shen's own words, taken everything and everyone from him that mattered, it was dangerous; on par with the Black Soulstone. He spent his life searching for it. One location his search took him to was Skovos, said adventure including sea monsters and poisoned arrows. It evaded his grasp, but the adventure wasn't entirely without gain, as he literally fell into the arms of the woman who would be his seventh wife.
The Orphan and the Jeweler
Jewels in the East
In 1285, Shen was in the Caldeum Sewers. Here, he joined a band of heroes, suspecting that they might have an eventual hand in finding the jewel he sought. Until then, he would provide them with his services. His travels then took him to Bastion's Keep. Foul weather and a demon invasion weren't exactly pleasant, but Shen kept warm thanks to his fire opals. He suggested that after Azmodan was defeated, the heroes could travel with him. This wasn't to pass however, as the heroes had to enter Heaven itself to thwart Diablo's invasion.
Chasing the Jewel
Soon after coming to Westmarch along with the Nephalem, Shen told a tale about Zei, the thief who once cheated a demon god, Dirgest, in an attempt to seize his most prized possession, Liria. Zei imprisoned the demon inside a priceless jewel, the one Shen had been looking for all this time, but not before Dirgest slew Liria and everyone Zei held dear.
Once the gates to Pandemonium opened, Shen revealed that the jewel was buried in the Unearthed Ruins close to the city. Together they managed to fight their way through the ruins, only to discover, much to Shen's horror, that the jewel had been shattered, and the demon god has been freed from his imprisonment. After the Nephalem defeated Vekriss, the demon guarding Liria's spirit, Shen suddenly changed his manner of speaking beyond recognition. Liria's liberated soul asked Shen if he was Zei (as did Vekriss before the battle), to which he replied he was just a simple jeweler, and that Zei was long gone, but sadly said he was happy to see Liria's face one final time. Later in Westmarch, despite all attempts of The Nephalem to get some answers, he only explained that now it was crucial for him to find Dirgest, no matter the cost.
At some point prior to these events, foreseeing that he might meet Dirgest one day, Shen has made a precious jewel to face him, but eventually traded it for food.
In the events of Diablo III, Shen provides the Nephalem with Jewel-crafting services (combining gems and adding or removing them from items), after rescuing him from a barrel in the Caldeum Sewers. The hero proceeds to kill Shen's possessed companion, Gavin, after he touched a cursed crucible. Shen will then be found at the base camp of the Act, where he provides Jewel-crafting services or conversation. Exhausting his dialogue earns the Everybody Loves Shen achievement. In Reaper of Souls, Shen can also craft jewelry, including the Hellfire Rings and Hellfire Amulets.
As with all artisans, Shen only needs to be recruited once per account. He will be present in New Tristram, from the beginning, in all subsequent play-throughs on all difficulty levels. He will briefly disappear from his normal spot when the player reaches his recruitment quest, but will return following quest completion.
Personality and Traits
"You know, there is nothing in the world quite so perfect as jewels. They have color, size, shape... transparency."
Shen is filled with wanderlust and has a carefree nature, giving every appearance of being a man without ambition, and trusting in fate to guide him to where he needs to be. Shen’s lax attitude only changes when jewels are involved. His greed for glittering precious stones is legendary; he may even love them more than he loves his own life. "Covetous" is a name that he lives up to, though he claims to not be greedy. In fact, while he's had well over seven wives over the course of his life, he's never had more than two at the same time. His tenth wife was a Barbarian, two heads taller than Shen himself. Shen also enjoys mocking The Nephalem by evading any direct answers regarding who he really is, giving hints that Shen is much, much more than a simple jeweler.
- James Hong provided the voice of Covetous Shen.
- Shen was married to Myriam Jahzia at one point.
- Due to game mechanics, in Act II Shen is not present at his usual spot immediately before and during the quest that involves saving him from the Ancient Aqueducts. His shop can be accessed as normal during that time, though.
- "Covetous" is a synonym for "greedy". "Shen" is the Hanyu Pinyin for both the surname "沈", and "神" which mean god/deity, each pronounced with a different tone. Shen's name is given as "沈老貪" in the Chinese version of the "The Orphan and the Jeweler", which is literally "Shen the Covetous".
- A "Shen's Delights" attraction features in the Blizzard World map in Overwatch.