"I have spent many years documenting historical figures. In all that time, very few have filled me with equal parts disgust and reverence. Zoltun Kulle is one of them."— Deckard Cain(src)
Zoltun Kulle was one of the founders of the Horadrim, but turned towards the side of darkness after the creation of the Black Soulstone. He was the most powerful mage in all of Sanctuary, and the Horadrim realized this. The Horadrim of Sanctuary then banded together, killed and then separated Kulle, putting his blood into jars and severing his head from his body.
"Murderer. Torturer. Monster. These were the titles bestowed upon Zoltun Kulle by the Horadrim. Though it cost them dearly, they killed the wizard for his crimes against nature and sealed his broken corpse within a shadow realm. It seems they were afraid he might return."— Adria(src)
The Hunt for the ThreeEdit
"I bear the same scars they all did. They knew the truth of it. But the fools buried their heads in the sand. They thought the evils were sealed away, never to trouble us again. They needed a solution. They needed to end it all."— Kulle, when asked about the Horadrim(src)
Kulle was one of the founding members of the Horadric order with the assistance of six other powerful mages. He had a great talent in alchemy, and was a member of the Ennead Clan. He was given custodianship over the three soulstones that would be used to bind the Prime Evils that had been banished to Sanctuary, for as a member of the Ennead, Kulle was deemed well suited to handling such magical objects. Kulle spent many hours with the soulstone during the Horadrim's hunt, and he became intrigued by their power. Jered Cain often found Kulle awake late in the night, experimenting with the soulstones and documenting their properties. His knowledge of them grew, to the point where it mystified even the other members of the Horadrim. However, as the Hunt drew on, the quest took a psychological toll on Kulle. Once mirthful and spirited, he became an unfeeling husk, numb to even the basest of human emotions.
At the beginning of the Hunt for the Three, the Horadrim realized they would need an artifact of immense power. Kulle provided it for them, designing a device called "The Cube". The Horadrim agreed on the necessity of the device, and forged the Cube over a period of weeks. In time, the Cube became the center of Horadric works, and they found themselves relying on it greatly. Aware of the dangers of corruption, and of the Cube's marred design, the Order determined that it was too dangerous for anyone to continue using it. That it had to be hidden from anyone, including them. Of all the Horadrim, only Kulle objected to the abandonment of the device. It was entrusted to a secret Barbarian order, and Kulle was left unaware of its exact location.
The Horadrim first bound Mephisto into his soulstone, before confronting Baal in Aranoch. The main account states that during the fight, one of Baal's attacks shattered the soulstone that was supposed to imprison him. Tal Rasha however, subdued the raging demon lord and, gathering the largest of the soulstone's shards, trapped Baal's destructive essence within it. Another states that it was Kulle's inability to properly handle the stone in battle that led to its breaking. Whatever the case, Baal was imprisoned, but the fragmented soulstone could not contain his essence forever. Accounts again differ as to whether it was Kulle or Tal Rasha who suggested the notion of a living host, but whatever the truth of the matter, Tal Rasha volunteered to take Baal's essence into himself, to wrestle with the Lord of Destruction for all eternity.
The Black SoulstoneEdit
"I spent many hours with them as we hunted the three. I studied them, intrigued by their power. In the long years after our victory, I felt an emptiness within me, a bitterness that consumed my days and nights. With a soulstone of my own, Heaven and Hell could be brought low and humanity could rise. Unchallenged. Unrestricted."— Zoltun Kulle(src)
Following the capture of Diablo, and the end of the Horadrim's quest, Kulle's demeanor darkened even further. It is said that he became increasingly wary of the High Heavens, and on more than one occasion, ranted against the Angiris Council. It was, as he pointed out, the same body that had nearly eradicated mankind in the Sin War, such an outcome only avoided by one vote. He believed that the Eternal Conflict would eventually scour humanity from existence, in order to prevent humanity from reaching its true potential. At some point, Kulle learnt of the history of the nephalem. Deckard Cain later wrote that Kulle's belief in mankind's "true potential" stemmed from its nephalem forebears. And that maybe, in the tales of the nephalem, he had found a glimmer of hope, a way to mend the tattered remnants of his humanity
Kulle took leave of the Horadrim and returned to Kehjistan in order to pursue his studies of magic. He established archives all over Sanctuary, including one located beneath the Desolate Sands. As the years passed, Kulle felt an emptiness within himself. It was here that he first developed the idea of the Black Soulstone, a device which could imprison the Great Evils and the angels of the High Heavens. In his writings, Kulle stated his belief that he could use the stone to unlock humanity's nephalem birthright, as he believed that it was inevitable that wars would be fought between Man, angel, and demon in the future. The Black Soulstone would be his "gift" to humanity. And, of course, it would increase his own power to that of his nephalem forebears. However, in his own research, Deckard Cain stated that by trapping the souls of angels and demons within the stone, Kulle would be granted the means to repair his own soul and emotions.
As he worked on the stone, Kulle would lure unwilling mages into his archives and subject them to gruesome experiments. He would draw their blood from their organs, all the while trying to distill their "nephalem essence." Additionally, while he labored, he spent years setting traps in his archives in case the Horadrim came for him. As he worked on the stone, he developed an entirely new system of runes for trapping and summoning demons. Before long, he had marked a number of sites around Kehjistan for this purpose.
The Horadrim learnt of Kulle's actions, and believed that they would draw the attention of Heaven and Hell to the mortal realm. They found and entered Kulle's archives, and triggered the wards he had set for them. Kulle was caught unaware, and labored to finish the Black Soulstone before they found him. However, find him they did. The Horadrim found Kulle in the midst of a summoning spell, and in the battle that followed, many Horadrim lost their lives. They defeated him, but however, by this stage, Kulle had become immortal. He bled sand, and mocked the Horadrim to the end. As such, they separated his head from his body, and hid the latter within the Shadow Realm. The locks to the archives were sealed with two vials of his blood.
These artifacts were then hidden in vaults under the Desolate Sands, while his head was hidden in he Dahlgur Oasis. Iben Fahd carried Kulle's head, and the fallen mage mocked him until the end.
The Final Lords of HellEdit
"You were treacherous before. How do I know you won't be an even greater threat when you're fully revived?"— Tyrael and Kulle, in light of the latter's resurrection(src)
"You don't. So you must ask yourself: How much would you risk to save this wretched world?"
Long after Kulle's death, Belial and Azmodan began to plot to overtake humanity. A group of nephalem battled their way through the Legion, and meet a witch, Adria, who told them of the Black Soulstone. To this end, they revived Kulle after recovering his head, in spirit form. Kulle found himself reunited with Tyrael, and in the company of the Nephalem. Kulle agreed to help them, but on the condition that he be restored to life. It was not an arrangement Tyrael was happy with, but he and his followers nonetheless agreed to Kulle's terms.
The Nephalem and Kulle went to retrieve his blood from the vials it had been stored in. Along the way, Kulle conversed with the Nephalem, telling them of his time with the Horadrim, and claimed that they were the same, but that Adria and Tyrael would betray them. The verbal sparring continued, but the vials of blood were nonetheless retrieved, and they entered Kulle's old archives. Kulle instructed the Nephalem to use his blood to activate relics that were powered by the substance, and after entering the Shadow Realm, Kulle's body was retrieved. With the aid of Leah, Kulle was revived in physical form.
True to his word, Kulle accepted that the bargain they had made still stood, and ushered the Nephalem to the soulstone chamber, where the Black Soulstone awaited. To his surprise, he found that the soulstone already contained the souls of the lords of Hell. He demanded that the Nephalem give up their quest, that their allies sought to betray them. Together, they could rule over all Creation. The Nephalem refused, and Kulle came to blows with his former ally/allies. The Nephalem killed Kulle, and took the soulstone into their own possession.
"Yes, I live once more. I'm very hard to kill and really, you did a sloppy job. But enough small talk. I need your help."— Zoltun Kulle(src)
Several months after Malthael's defeat, Zoltun Kulle managed to return to the Nephalem in his spirit form (but nonetheless not as powerless as he used to be when first awakened). He told the shocked hero(es) that not even they could have killed the undying Horadrim, and that he now required their help. The artifact designed by Kulle himself was hidden beneath the Ruins of Sescheron and could only be retrieved by someone who its guardians would deem worthy, while Kulle, obviously, would never pass their trial. The Nephalem agreed, and together with the deranged mage's spirit, managed to recover the artifact. As a token of his gratitude, Kulle unlocked its power, remaining at the Nephalem's side in their journey afterwards.
The moment player enters the Soulstone Chamber, the battle does not begin yet, but the zone is already under lockdown (no Town Portal, no changing skills). To start the battle, players need to approach Kulle from either side.
The battle takes place on a circular arena, with the central circle being impassable. Kulle is assisted by two Eternal Guardian golems, which are quite slow, but very resilient and hit very hard in close combat. Upon death, they drop a guaranteed Health Globe. Zoltun Kulle himself cannot attack normally, but can use the following abilities:
- Teleport: Can teleport anywhere on the arena. Used both to approach the player and to evade combat. Usually Teleport is immediately followed by a damaging spell cast.
- Slow Time: Absolutely identical to the Wizard spell, aside from slightly different graphics. Slows movement of players within a sphere by 80% and attack speed by 30%.
- Fireball: A medium-speed projectile that deals average area of effect Fire damage. Often used immediately after Slow Time.
- Energy Twister: Creates an erratically-moving tornado of Arcane energy, dealing heavy damage as Arcane on contact. Contrary to popular belief, the twisters do not home on players.
- Cave-In: After 1.5 seconds, causes a rockfall across the wide area, causing heavy Physical damage.
Zoltun Kulle has a hard enrage timer of 3 minutes. Once enraged, he no longer has a cooldown on Cave-In, and deals triple damage with that ability.
Kulle is one of the six handpicked Boss monsters to feature an Uber appearance. His Uber appearance, named The Undying One, Depraved Zealot, has little changes in strategy, but there are a couple things to be aware of. Firstly, he has the aid of the Savage Behemoth instead of Eternal Guardians, which can cause trouble even for the best equipped of heroes. Secondly, his Slow Time bubbles are much worse compared to his canon encounter in Act II; they mercilessly destroy a hero's attack speed and movement, leaving him/her relatively helpless, and should therefore be escaped from as soon as possible.
Zoltun Kulle is found only in Adventure Mode, operating the Kanai's Cube on the Nephalem's behalf. While the crafting itself is done through the cube's own interface, Zoltun's spirit is floating nearby, giving advice regarding the horadric recipes and taunting the player.
One of the recipes of the Cube, Law of Kulle, is named after him.
Personality and TraitsEdit
"In all things, the glimpsed the elements of life, ripe for growth. He was, in his better days, driven by dreams of elevating his fellow man to wondrous new heights. Kulle, perhaps above all other Horadrim, had the power and the wisdom to bring his grand vision of a better world - one devoid of its inherent flaws - to fruition."— Jered Cain(src)
Ancient texts have portrayed Kulle in a number of different ways. Some call him a virtuous man who lost himself to the darkness of obsession. Others call him murderer, torturer, yet heroic member of the Horadrim. Monster, visionary, misguided genius, such tomes have labelled him all these things. What is known, however, is that Kulle possessed curiosity towards anything associated with magic. Such fascination led to many magical experiments.
As a member of the Ennead, Kulle was devoted to the pursuit of science and material manipulation. While a member of the Horadrim, Jered Cain described Kulle as being an intelligent and pious mage. In his early days, Kulle possessed a mirthful and spirited personality, but as the Hunt for the Three took its toll on him, his emotions deadened.
At his heart, Kulle was a humanist. In his early days, he dreamt of elevating humanity's condition. After the sealing of the Prime Evils, he developed a high opinion of humanity's place in Creation, believing angels and demons couldn't be trusted. He argued that it was humans, not angels, who were the true inheritors of Anu, for it was only when Anu rejected his darker half that true evil and suffering was born. In his mind, unlike Anu, humanity had to embrace its inner demons, and be all the stronger for it. However, while he believed in the worth of humanity, he believed himself amongst the greatest of his kind, which led to a dichotomy between his goals and his actions.
An egomaniac, Kulle's personality was laced with cynicism, sarcasm, and great ego. He regularly taunted his allies, though still afforded some respect to Tyrael. He has displayed moments of megalomania, but also some honor. Leah commented that Kulle struck her as being spiteful, obsessed only with himself and his own vision.
Kulle eventually came to pity others who would not share his grand vision of power. He concluded that perhaps his mind was too great for anyone else to truly comprehend his plans.
As a former member of the Ennead Clan, Kulle was a master of alchemy, alteration, and transmutation. Such was his magical strength that he could shape the earth itself. Kulle was able to achieve immortality, and Cain speculated that he had managed to awaken his nephalem birthright. In battle with the Nephalem, Kulle demonstrated abilities associated with arcane magic.
Kulle effectively achieved immortality by preparing artificial bodies with preserved memories for himself, just in case of tasting death again. Anticipating more "deaths" ahead, he referred to it as "the sheer wonder of being Zoltun Kulle."
- Kulle was voted as players' favorite Diablo III villain in a poll conducted by Blizzard Entertainment.
- When questioned on the subject, Chris Metzen answered that if Kulle walked into an Outback Steakhouse he would order chicken McNuggets because "he's a dick."
- Concepts for Kulle existed by 2010. It was intended that Kulle be a morally ambiguous character. Brian Kindregan has commented that this distinguished Kulle from other antagonists in the game, who were purely evil.
- Kulle's voice actor is Steven Jay Blum.
- The method that Horadrim used on Kulle to 'kill' him (separate head and body, then bury them in different caves) duplicates the method that was used to prevent Bartuc (better known as the Warlord of Blood) from resurrection.
- His name is referenced in the Bottomless Potion of Kulle-Aid.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Book of Tyrael
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Book of Cain
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Diablo III, Act II
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 2015-07-28, Patch 2.3.0 Preview: Kanai's Cube. YouTube, accessed on 2015-08-31
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 2015-07-28, PATCH 2.3.0 PREVIEW: KANAI'S CUBE. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2015-08-02
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Diablo III, Dark Exile Scrolls
- ↑ 2018-11-02, BlizzCon 2018 Diablo: What’s Next Liveblog. Blizzard Watch, accessed on 2018-11-07
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Diablo III, Hunter's Journal
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Diablo III, Kulle's Journal
- ↑ Diablo III, Adventure Mode
- ↑ Book of Adria: A Diablo Bestiary
- ↑ 2013-12-08, BlizzCon 2013 – Diablo III Lore and Story Q&A Panel Transcript. Blizzplanet, accessed on 2014-03-11
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 2013-12-08, BlizzCon 2013 – Diablo III Lore and Story Q&A Panel Transcript. Blizzplanet, accessed on 2014-04-20
- ↑ Diablo III, Death Mask
- ↑ 2018-11-17, BlizzCon 2018 Diablo Immortal World and Q&A Panel Transcript. Blizzplanet, accessed on 2018-11-20
- ↑ Diablo III, They Never Listen
- ↑ Diablo III, Revival
- ↑ 2013-02-06, Poll: Who's Your Favorite Diablo III Villain?. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2013-04-19
- ↑ 2013-03-15, StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm interview with Chris Metzen. PC Gamer, accessed on 2013-04-19
- ↑ Zoltun Kulle Concept Art, Aquatic Moon. Accessed on 2015-10-17