Destiny. That fantastic first-person space shooter from Bungie and Activision that we all picked up and loved to hate because of the general lack of a clear storyline and post campaign content that trickled out in the form of smaller scale DLC. And yet, we kept playing because something about the game kept pulling us back in. Now, we’re coming up on the impending release of the long awaited Destiny 2, yet as gamers, a lot of us find ourselves asking the question we were asking from the very beginning: exactly what was Destiny all about? Something about Light, Darkness, and the Traveler? Who were all those people hanging out in the Tower every time I swung by? And why is everything in the universe trying to kill me? With the finer points of who’s who and what’s what being a bit more optional and easy to miss, it’s not all that difficult to make it through Destiny and still really not get what’s going on.
The funny thing is that a lot of that info was given to us in a lot better detail in the form of awarded Grimoire Cards and subtle in-game details. Let’s be real, though; not very many of us took the time to read these little tidbits of information. Have no fear though, Guardians. This is a compiled list of fifteen things you didn’t know about Destiny’s main characters, and it might give you some insight on the journey we’ve been in locked into for so long.
Destiny never had much in terms of story, so it’d be no surprise if this fact went straight over new Guardians’ heads. You read that right, though; before your Ghost found you, you were already dead. The reason why your Ghost found you in particular is because your corpse possessed a certain affinity to the Traveler’s Light. Lucky you.
Again, Destiny’s campaign throws you into the action really quickly and tends to skimp on certain story elements as a result, so the “Why?” and “How long?” and other such questions surrounding your death are just left to your imagination. That may not be all bad, though. If you’re super into the role playing aspect, it means you get to fill in the blanks your own way, which, intentional or not, is a small but neat little aspect of a personalized gaming experience.
Ah, Cayde. Hunter Vanguard and smartass extraordinaire. As a Hunter myself, Cayde held a special place in my heart (though you by no means have to be a Hunter to appreciate him). Probably Cayde’s most notorious trait outside of scripted cut scenes is his often expressed sense of cabin fever; he’d much rather be out in the field than holed up in the Tower. So why does Cayde stay?
Well, apparently Cayde has a bit of a gambling tendency and the Grimoire makes mention of a challenge called “The Vanguard Dare.” Now, what this dare means exactly is currently not specified. What we do know? The previous Hunter Vanguard died, and with Cayde-6 having the lost the dare, he had no choice but to take up the mantle of the new Hunter Vanguard and all the responsibilities that come with it. Sorry, Cayde. At least you’re an Exo of your word, though. That’s got to count for something.
Lord Saladin is a Titan of legendary status and, let’s be real, most of the Titans in this game are. Beyond the fact that this guy not only ran the Iron Banner, then served as the acting commander during the Rise of Iron campaign, he was also at the helm of the battle of Twilight Gap – a topic that you may hear mentioned here and there from NPCs in social spaces or read about in item descriptions.
The Battle of Twilight Gap was the City’s stand against the Fallen in their attempt to steal the Traveler away and, at the time, Saladin was commander of the Vanguard, leading the charge of the force of Guardians against the Fallen assault. Admittedly it wasn’t the prettiest of battles; a lot of Guardians died and, at one point, the Fallen did make it inside, but at the end of it all it was a victory for the City. Regardless of whether it was good or bad, being Alpha Wolf at Twilight Gap has got to look impressive on any resume.
Legends breed legends, as it turns out. Saladin is a wolf of many tricks, but some of his legacy is passed down through his old pupils; Commander Zavala and Lord Shaxx. Both literal and figurative Titans in their own right, Zavala is the new head of the Vanguard and responsible for the overall defense of the city and military action against enemies, basically big boss in the tower, and it’s good that he maintains a good relationship with his predecessor and teacher.
Shaxx doesn’t quite have as well of a relationship maintained with Saladin, and that stems from his service at the Battle of Twilight Gap. When the Fallen broke through, Shaxx was able to launch a counterattack despite the orders of his now former teacher. After the battle at Twilight Gap, Shaxx went on to create the Crucible, everyone’s favorite PvP arena in order to ensure Guardians are equipped to defend the city in the event of another attack.
So we’ve got the current Vanguard Commander and the Crucible Handler who are both former students of one of the last Iron Lords. Shaxx and Zavala both really did rise to that challenge.
I think even for the players that skip all cut scenes it’s pretty clear that Ikora is not someone you want to mess with, regardless of whether she’s lost in her own thoughts or staring you down the scope of her Invective shotgun. During her frequent bouts of talking to herself, sometimes the keen listener can catch her speaking about a group called “The Hidden.” This refers to a network of spies and deep infiltration scouts that Ikora heads up herself. While we haven’t quite seen all that much action from them (and go figure; they’re spies), the fact that such an organization exists and operates throughout the solar system is kind of cool to think about.
I wonder if it’s more or less cool to know that Eris Morn is one of them…
While Rahool is at his core a history buff, he’s a bit of a snob too. After the player manages to steal the mind core of an enemy Vex Cyclops on Venus, they bring the encrypted information back to Rahool in the tower in order to have it decrypted. Rahool ultimately was able to give the Guardian info on how to summon a Gate Lord and invited the player to return with other “amusing puzzles,” assuming they survive.
I just got ambushed by a bunch of Vex nasties on Venus and you want to call this info I almost died over an amusing puzzle, Rahool? Well let’s see you out there digging up your own spoils for once. I guess it’s really quality over quantity though, huh? Got some downtime ever since that loot cave went out of commission?
Yeah, you heard that right. The Taken King could very well have been the Taken Queen had it not been for a series of fascinating events.
Originally born Aurash, to a race that predates the Hive and one of three sisters and daughters to a figure known as the Osmium King, Aurash was present when her father was usurped and murdered due to a traitor in his service. Aurash and her sisters fled their but vowed to return for vengeance. As soon as they were able and more capable, the sisters, equipped with a ship, decided to dive into the ocean of their homeworld, eventually encountering the Worm gods who granted the sisters immense power. Aurash obtained a king morph and was transformed into a male with the new name Auryx.
The spelling change from Auryx to Oryx happened a bit later down the line, when Auryx killed his patron Worm god and gained the power to “Take,” cementing his place as Oryx, The Taken King. Next time you find yourself wondering “What’s in a name?” just ask Oryx. I don’t know that there’s anyone else more qualified to tell you.
When you first gain audience with the Queen of the Awoken in the reef, your character’s initial reaction when the Fallen Wolves crawl out from behind her throne is to reach for a gun and deal with the problem. Prince Uldren is quick to stop you, of course, and Queen Mara Sov very vaguely explains that these Fallen are hers.
Whatever that means, right?
As it turns out, Mara Sov was integral in the detterance of the House of Wolves joining the other Fallen houses at the battle of Twilight Gap, a factor that, if allowed to happen, would have cemented the City’s defeat. During the Reef Wars, Mara Sov was able to not only kill the Kell of House of Wolves, but also pit the remaining Wolf leaders against one another. With Variks’ help, she was able to set herself up as the Kell of the House of Wolves.
When you first encounter Skolas, it’s easy to get the sense that he’s a rogue Wolf out to rally his remaining house and the other houses, but the fact of the matter is Skolas had actually escaped capture once already. During an event called the Cybele Uprising during which Skolas attempted an attack on an Awoken fortress, Variks’ betrayal resulted in Skolas’ initial capture. From there, the queen gave Skolas to the mysterious figures called the Nine as a peace offering.
The details surrounding Skolas’ escape from the Nine are a mystery, and a largely unresolved plot point from the House of Wolves DLC that I can only hope Bungie is sitting on for more quality content in Destiny 2. That aside, when you finally defeat Skolas, it’s by no means his first rodeo with the queen, nor is it his first trip to the Prison of Elders.
No wonder he’s so pissed in there.
Variks may be just a little creepy, but he’s got a soft spot for his fellow Fallen. A member of the old Fallen House of Judgement and one of the few remaining Fallen still loyal to the Queen of the Reef, Variks was integral to both captures of Skolas. Despite this, Variks truly desires peace for his race. In a section of the Grimoire, Variks reflects on the unfair hand the Fallen were dealt, wondering why he and his people can’t have the Traveler’s blessing, or the gods of the Hive or the time networks of the Vex or the reinforcements of the Cabal.
The sentiment begs the question; why not go along with Skolas? He, after all, wanted to unite the houses and mow down anyone that got in the way of the Fallen. The thing about Variks, though, is that he’s from House Judgement; the house that, for the Fallen, kept the order when things got too out of hand. It’s honestly no wonder that, while he was working as a scribe for the House of Wolves, he betrayed Skolas during the Cybele Uprising, unable to agree with attacking innocent civilians. Later on, in the House of Wolves DLC, he mentions that Skolas’ hate is too much for him to stomach.
He may be shifty and he talks like someone that would be hard to trust, but, at the end of the day, I guess you can’t really blame the guy for wanting what’s best for his people. Just how exactly do you plan to bring that about, Variks?
This is an interesting fact that comes up and is hard to miss during the Shield Brothers strike, but on some scripts, Cayde mentions that when the Cabal go to war, their soldiers are effectively exiled from the Empire. That is to say, they aren’t allowed to come back until victory is achieved. If that isn’t incentive for some very serious fighting, I don’t know what is.
Considering all the promo information for Destiny 2, I guess that idea is pretty strongly enforced. You’ve got to hand it to them, after all. They did it. They managed to bring down the City; something the Fallen couldn’t manage for years and years. Maybe this is their way of getting back at the fact that they didn’t get a DLC dedicated to their race. What a bunch of sore losers.
No, she didn’t always look like that.
It’s hard to not know Eris’ story. I mean, she’s kind of a celebrity. The one that went down with a full raid team and tried to stop Crota only to have things go horribly, horribly wrong, so she had to fight to survive until she was able to make it back to Earth. We hear about it a lot.
Eris’s eyes, though? Well, any Guardian that’s fought against the Hive can recognize that arrangement of eye parts as distinctly Hive. According to the details of her venture, Eris somehow lost her own eyes to the Darkness of the Hellmouth. Ultimately, though, she was able to somehow replace a Hive enemy’s eyes with her own and make that work for her.
How? Look, I really may not be the guy to be asking that. That said, you’d probably be able to just ask her. I mean, Eris loves talking about everything that happened. Sometimes it seems like she won’t shut up about it.
When I first started playing Destiny, I couldn’t find much of a point in interacting with the glorified Bill Nighy cameo that hangs out in his little loft with a perfect view of the Traveler. I get it, the Guardians need a sort of a figurehead or something, but besides the occasional cut scene, what does this guy even do? Well, the honest answer is: in game? Not too much. But in terms of lore, this guy has been pretty involved.
Remember Saint-14? Or at least his exotic helmet that makes it so that anyone that jumps into your Ward of Dawn is blinded? Well, he was a big deal of a Guardian and, apparently, the Speaker was his adoptive father. How good of a father is what begs to be questioned, considering the Grimoire shows that when Saint-14 reports his victory over the Kell of the House of Devils, the Speaker immediately tasks his adopted son with dealing with Osiris.
Speaking of, Osiris and the Speaker also have a bit of a history. Per Saint-14’s recommendation, the Speaker at one point appointed Osiris, a warlock renowned for his pragmatism (and now for his trials), as Commander of the Vanguard and took him on as his apprentice.
Unfortunately, the position of power along with his boundless curiosity resulted in Osiris diverting resources away from the Vanguard and ultimately even forming a cult surrounding his personality and the Speaker decided Osiris had to go, exiling him from the city.
So the main takeaways here are that the Speaker is kind of a tough love dad and he may have accidentally aided in the forming of a cult. You know, maybe it’s best that he just hangs out with the Traveler.
Did you know that Ghosts are like lobsters? They partner up for life. Actually, I heard that might not actually be true about lobsters, but it’s definitely true about Ghosts. When Ghosts are created from the Traveler, they don’t just float out and find whoever happens to be closest. Each Ghost seems to have one specific person in mind to find. It’s an interesting concept and doesn’t seem very practical, but the opening cut scene of The Taken King content paints a very clear picture if you spare the couple of minutes to watch it.
The Ghost mentions that it was made to bring YOU back. Not someone back, but specifically you. To top it off, Ghost also says that centuries went by before it found you. That’s hundreds of years. Thoughtful? I’d say so. Then again, the Guardian/Ghost dynamic is probably the most important one in the game. I’d say we lucked out with our little partner.
The Traveler. That massive and mysterious celestial body that hangs above the city in slumber and the main subject of everyone’s interest. Very little is known about what the traveler is or how it works, but a little bit of info can be gleaned by reading the Grimoire cards that reference the poem, Dreams of Alpha Lupi. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the poem is that the Traveler itself never had any desire of being worshipped, idolized, or even thanked by the civilizations it helped.
The current cast of Destiny’s obsession with the thing is interesting, despite the fact that it never really wanted to be in spotlight in the first place, just do its thing and then disappear. Due to the fact that the Traveler’s enemy, the Darkness, caught up to it, though, it ended up not really having much choice but to park itself above the last city on Earth before it died.
If, at some point, the Traveler ever manages to wake back up, I can’t imagine it would have any interest in sticking around for too much longer. Maybe we’ll get lucky, though, and it’ll share with us a secret or two more.