In Path of Exile: Scourge, we introduced The Last to Die, a new NPC from an alternate Wraeclast swarmed by ravenous demons. For this news post, our Narrative Designer, Matt, has taken a moment to reflect on writing for Scourge League. Here are his thoughts.
Narrative work on Scourge League took a very different approach for a number of reasons. For one, essentially the entire league was created during lockdown here in New Zealand, so getting voice acting recorded was an interesting odyssey over multiple online recording sessions. In a sense, we got lucky that our plan for The Last to Die NPC was for her to have a limited number of lines and essentially retire soon after handing off the Blood Crucible. If she had been anything akin to the complexity of Expedition league three months before, it would have no doubt been impossible to finish her scripts. As it turned out, the voice actress for The Last to Die, Genevieve Kent, nailed the tone we were looking for despite working at a distance - and, in one case, during a massive windstorm that forced us to record lines multiple times and then edit around the wind!
The second reason things were different this time around was a new approach we decided to try for this content. The vast majority of lore for this league is inferred or implied instead of directly stated. Where Expedition had a detailed historical saga to follow, Scourge league was made in conjunction with numerous details mentioned in the core game and previous leagues. There's enough out there already that, before Scourge league even released, observant players were giving TED talks on the upcoming lore. I can't confirm or deny if any particular theory was right, but there's more fun to be had with the Scourge than might be immediately apparent.
With The Last to Die too traumatized and depressed to wax on at length about what she's seen, we have to guess with what little we know. She does tell the Exile that the Blood Crucible functions through a pact with Chaos, which is the second time we've encountered someone working with them. For those who remember Ultimatum League, the Trialmaster described Chaos as an entity who is aware of different possibilities at the same time. The Last to Die outright states that she has been to 'other Wraeclasts,' which we can reasonably infer are other possible versions of the continent. Her pact with Chaos must allow her to Shift between them, and, indeed, that is exactly what the Exile temporarily does when the Blood Crucible is activated.
If the Wraeclast we know is perhaps one of the better ones thanks to the Exile's path of destruction, then one might imagine there are versions of the world out there where events instead went very, very wrong. What exactly went wrong? What are these invaders? All we know for sure at this point is that the apocalypse is out there. We are a single beleaguered jewel floating on a sea of madness, and it's only a matter of time until doom comes knocking on our door.