As I said in my last article, Warcraft is not given enough credit for the in-depth character development that tends to suck players into their universe. For an example of this, look no further than Prince Arthas Menethil.
A brief warning before I begin. As with most video game universes, there is a lot of information you need to know in order to understand everything. I am trying to simplify the background stories in order to ease into the character study.
Arthas Menethil was introduced in Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III. In the game, Arthas was tasked with defending his kingdom of Lordaeron from an upcoming plague of undeath.
To understand Arthas’ actions, you first need to understand the idea of a plague of undeath. In essence, Warcraft‘s plague, created by the universe’s main villians, The Burning Legion, is spread through grain. The potential victim eats the grain and is killed by it. In the victim’s death, he is raised as a mindless minion of the unseen Lich King, which is turn is following the orders of The Burning Legion.
Of course, all Arthas knows is what he has seen: his kingdom’s people are dying and being reborn into undeath. After visiting the city of Stratholme, he finds that the city may or may not already be plagued. The idea of losing his kingdom and the people he was born to to protect drives him to kill the entire city’s population in order to prevent the spreading of the plague.
Arthas, for lack of a better term, snapped. His drive to find the plague’s distributor, a Burning Legion dreadlord (demon) named Mal’Ganis, takes him all the way to Northrend, effectively the Antartica of Azeroth (the main planet, where most of the playable races in World of Warcraft come from).
While in Northrend, Arthas willingly gives his soul to the runeblade Frostmorne. Only problem? Frostmorne is the sword of the Lich King. In an effort to protect his kingdom, Arthas sacrifices his soul to the enemy he’s trying to defeat.
This driving force pushes Arthas to kill Lordaeron’s king, his father, and allow the undead plague, called the Scourge, to overrun the kingdom. In the end, Arthas merges into one with the Lich King to become the Lich King.
Why is all of this important? The player of Warcraft III controls Arthas as he falls into madness. In essence, you are experiencing going mad. And going mad is hell.
At another level, you are shown Arthas love his people so much that he goes mad trying to protect them. Whether Arthas’ madness is able to be diagnosed is questionable; I honestly think it falls into a generalized psychopathic path. But the main thing is that Arthas, by trying to protect his people from undeath, ends up dooming them to undeath through his psychosis.