"From the east shall come a monarch whose rule begins in blood and ends in bone. In the light of a comet he will die a third and final death at the hands of true men/a chosen woman."
King Leoric was formerly the ruling monarch of Khanduras. Once a devout follower of the Zakarum faith, he was ultimately corrupted by Diablo, the result being the end of his line, his kingdom and everything he strove for.
Arrival in Khanduras
"We have just arrived in Tristram, and I must say I'm a bit dismayed. This place is a backwater filled with serfs and an ancient, broken-down monastery, hardly fit for the king of Khanduras! I cannot fathom why Lazarus was so intent on this becoming our new seat of power."
— Leoric in his journal(src)
Leoric originated from Kehjistan. At some point in the 13th century, at the behest of the Zakarum Church Leoric came into the lands of Khanduras and, in the name of the Zakarum, declared himself to be king. He was unaware that Zakarum had been corrupted by Mephisto and that Lazarus, subtly under Mephisto's influence, was to ensure that Tristram would be his seat of power—the resting place of Diablo.
Leoric brought with him his family, knights, and priests, the latter two groups forming his Order of the Light. Along with his advisor, Lazarus, Leoric and his entourage made their way to the town of Tristram, appropriating the decrepit monastery on the outskirts as his seat of power. Although the people of Khanduras were not pleased with coming under the rule of a foreign king, Leoric served them with justice. Eventually, his subjects came to respect him for his purity of heart and deed. A case in point was Griswold, who forged Leoric's mithril sword and crown.
The Darkening of Tristram
"I am convinced that some malevolent being is attempting to wrest control of my thoughts away from me. Voices direct me to horrendous acts, and there are times when I seem unable to control my body. Lazarus knows; this is certain. He looks at me strangely when he thinks me otherwise disposed."
— Leoric in his journal(src)
Unknown to Leoric, however, his seat of power was the resting place of Diablo, imprisoned in the catacombs beneath the cathedral by the Horadrim long ago. Lazarus fell under the Lord of Terror's sway, shattering his soulstone. Requiring an anchor to the world, Diablo chose the strongest soul available to him to be his host—Leoric himself.
For many months, Leoric, unaware, fought against Diablo's will. Sensing that he had been possessed by some unknown evil, Leoric kept his condition a secret from those close to him, believing that his piety would be enough to exorcise the demon's corruption. In this he was sorely mistaken, and Diablo stripped away the core of Leoric's being, burning all honor and virtue from his soul. Lazarus, now also under Diablo's sway, kept close to his lord at all times, and sought to keep Leoric's condition a secret. Despite this, Leoric's change in demeanor became known to his subjects. His once proud visage became ravaged and deformed while his sanity slipped away. Becoming increasingly deranged, Leoric began ordering summary executions of any who questioned his decisions or authority, while he sent his knights to the outlying towns to force them into submission. At the height of his madness, Leoric would evince his displeasure by pummeling courtiers, servants, and even foreign dignitaries with his scepter. It is said that merely a glance in Leoric's direction was enough to earn death at the height of his paranoia. In his hunting grounds, where he had once led hunts, he would kill any peasant he came across. Horrified by his actions, Leoric's subjects began calling him "the Black King."
Concerned by the "traitorous rabble" in Tristram, Leoric ordered Chancellor Eamon to secure his manor. He ordered that the caves to the east be sealed, and filled with spiders that Lazarus had obtained. Eamon sorrowfully obeyed.
Lazarus, concerned of the suspicions Leoric's subjects had, convinced the now delusional king that the kingdom of Westmarch was plotting to take over and annex Khanduras, manipulating him into declaring war, diverting attention, as well as sending many troublesome knights into their deaths when the armies of Westmarch inevitably crushed those of Khanduras. Leoric's priests were, meanwhile, sent as emissaries. Thanks to Lazarus's influence, Leoric even ordered the execution of Queen Asylla, his own wife.
The Fall of King Leoric
"Traitors! Even in death, the armies of Khanduras will still obey their king! Even if you will not..."
— Leoric's final words to Lachdanan and his knights.(src)
With the lack of inquisitive eyes, Diablo had free rein to assert his will over his vessal. However, Diablo found that a part of the king's soul still fought against him, and that he would still not be able to take full control. Thus he abandoned his attempts to take over Leoric, leaving him broken and insane as he much more easily took control of Leoric's youngest son Albrecht instead.
When King Leoric found that his son had gone missing, he went into a rage and had many innocent people executed for kidnapping the prince, slipping deeper into madness with each passing day. He was eventually slain by his own lieutenant, the knight Lachdanan, who returned from the Westmarch war only to find that he, too, was being accused of the kidnapping, and that the king was nothing but a raving madman who set his guard upon those knights who were returning. The knights came to blows and Lachdanan begged Leoric to explain his actions. Leoric simply spat at him, condemning Lachdanan and his men as traitors. Sorrowfully, Lachdanan struck down his liege, Leoric cursing him and all of his knights in his last moments.
Rise of the Skeleton King
"The warmth of life has entered my tomb. Prepare yourself, mortal, to serve my Master for eternity!"
— Leoric to his foes(src)
Despite his crimes, Leoric was nonetheless given a proper burial beneath the cathedral. He was buried in his armor within the royal crypts. Unfortunately, Diablo was not content to leave Leoric in the peace of death, and raised Leoric from the dead as a powerful undead warlord called the Skeleton King. Lachdanan's knights were overcome at once, becoming the dreaded Hell Knights, with only Lachdanan himself still retaining his mind and choosing to venture down into the labyrinth of the cathedral to die alone rather than put Tristram in danger if he should fall to the same darkness that claimed his men.
Commanding a host of undead and finally serving the evil he had resisted while alive, the Skeleton King was poised to lead forth his undead horde to the surface and overwhelm Tristram. Many adventurers tried to slay Leoric, but ultimately failed. However, he was felled by his eldest son Aidan and two other heroes. Standing over the fallen king, they assured him they would find his son.
Return of the Skeleton King
"The warmth of life has no place among the damned!"
Due to his corruption of the monarch, Diablo had left some of his power tied with Leoric's blackened soul.
Seven years after his defeat, the rogue Necromancer Lethes intended to gain that power by summoning Leoric's spirit. She did this by resurrecting the spirit of Asylla, and in doing so, provided a tether. The ritual was interrupted by Xul, but not stopped before Leoric returned to the world of the living. A hero/group of heroes ventured into Ashwold Manor to slay the king, in which they succeeded.
Despite this, Leoric still endured, and it was warned that once he returned, he would summon an undead army. Adventurers were urged to travel to Ashwold and slay Leoric before his army could be raised.
Fall of the Skeleton King
"The power of the fallen star awakened me, and soon, all will suffer as I have suffered!"
— A newly arisen Leoric(src)
22 years after his first death, Leoric reawakened. The Fallen Star had descended upon New Tristram, smashing through the cathedral, awakening Leoric and his undead minions. Enraged, he set his minions on Deckard Cain, who had fallen into the depths of the cathedral after the meteor's impact. The scholar was saved, however, by The Nephalem, who went on to retrieve Leoric's old crown and use it to bind Leoric's spirit into his skeletal body. In a furious battle, the Nephalem defeated Leoric, this time permanently.
Because of his actions at Tristram, Leoric earnt himself a place among the tyrants of history.
After Leoric's (apparently final) defeat, a villager in New Tristram intended to write an epic poem on Leoric's final death. All they needed to do was to find out how he was killed. While another villager pointed out that they could simply ask The Nephalem as to the details of the battle, the aspiring poet refused, as they didn't want to give up their artistic license.
Main article: Skeleton King (monster)
Leoric appears in multiplayer games in the first Diablo game in his Skeleton King form. He forms the basis of the quest of the same name. He can be found and fought on the third level of the Tristram Cathedral. He leaves behind his Crown, a Unique item with Life-Stealing properties.
Main article: Skeleton King (Diablo III)
Leoric once again appears in Diablo III, as the first real boss faced by the Nephalem. He can be found in the Crypt of the Skeleton King in the old Tristram Cathedral. There are also legendary items called Wrath of the Bone King, Leoric's Crown and Leoric's Signet. Horadric Caches from Act I also contain items that once belonged to Leoric (namely his mace, amulet, bracers, shoulderpads and his second ring). Leoric's Regret is a crafting material obtained at level 70. On PS3, one can also obtain Leoric's Gauntlets.
Heroes of the Storm
"As King, I dedicated my life to Tristram, and served its people with all my heart. In exchange, they called me a Madman and betrayed me! But I have returned, stronger than ever. These so-called heroes think they can destroy me. But I cannot be killed again! Here, in the Nexus, I will have my revenge. I am Leoric, the Skeleton King! And I will only choose allies who I know will never betray me."
"The rule of king Leoric is remembered as a time of great tragedy, fear, and madness. In life, he was a tyrannical ruler, driven mad by the Lord of Terror; in death, Leoric rose again as the dreaded Skeleton King. Swinging his giant mace, Leoric laughs in the face of death. When struck down, his ghostly form drains the essence of the living, replenishing Leoric until he rises to terrorize the field of battle once again."
— Heroes of the Storm(src)
Leoric appears in the Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients with the name King Leoric- the Skeleton King.
Personality and Traits
"Even King Leoric, who so many thought was wise and just. He was a devout follower of the Zakarum faith, a man who always sought peace and stability. Perhaps it was his desire for those things that made him weak. A king who expects loyalty fears betrayal. A father who loves his family fears losing them. A believer who finds comfort in his faith fears that he will discover it has all been a lie."
Leoric was originally a deeply religious man and a kind one, but lost these traits due to Diablo's corruption. By the end of his (un)life, he was a malevolent being. In his mind, even as madness took him, he had dedicated himself to his kingdom, and it was his people who had betrayed him. Adria regarded Leoric as a man who sought peace and stability, who loved his family and found comfort in his faith. All of these things, according to her, made him weak, and it was his hidden fears that allowed Diablo to corrupt him.
"Pardon the pun, but there wasn't a lot of meat on the bone relative to his backstory. So I tried to conjure this sense of family tragedy: the eldest son is lost, the youngest son has been dragged down into the mines, and this once-noble guy is just losing his marbles. I wanted there to be a relatable core to the fiction, to create a big, classical, mythical backdrop behind what was a relatively simple gameplay experience in terms of lore."
- According to the manual for the first Diablo game, Leoric hailed from lands north of Khanduras. According to dialogue in Diablo III and Book of Cain however, he hailed from eastern lands, specifically Kehjistan.
- In the first Diablo game, his Skeleton King model used a two-handed sword. As of Diablo III, his signature weapon has been changed to a two-handed mace.
- Leoric's 'death count' appears to have been retconned by Diablo Immortal. In Diablo III, Malachi refers to Leoric dying a "third and final time." Counting Diablo Immortal however, this would mark his fourth (or potentially fifth) death, depending on whether one completes the "Rise of the Mad King" bounty.
- The original conception for Leoric began as a monster in Diablo I, simply titled "Skeleton King." The monster was simply a skeleton wielding a broadsword. Backstory was added by Chris Metzen.
- Diablo Immortal, Mad King's Breach
- Diablo Immortal, Rise of the Mad King
- Book of Cain
- Cite error: Invalid
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