okay now i guess i'm a little too noobish regarding the lore of Diablo.
so a question:
who made the Worldstone? was it Inarius? and if he was, did he know that by making it he would seal his children? and why was it that he didn't want the Nephalem to awaken to their powers?
the above post enlightened me on what the humans really were. i'm just starting to read Birthright.
so basically, you were saying the Barbarians were nothing more than a collection of xenophobic warrior-clans? it starts to make sense now. Deckard Cain thought of them legendary maybe because of their secrecy and dislike for outsiders.
from what was said here so far, it seems to me that the Worldstone has diluted much of Inarius and Lilith's blood.
so this means we don't know anything about the Worldstone other than that it's some sort of a gate to keep out the Nephalem from infesting the world?
then how come the Ancient Ones existed in Sanctuary? i don't think i get it (sorry for being nub), but it seems that the Worldstone has a double standard. "keep out mama's boys, but never mind papa's." is that it?
or, as you said, the Nephalem forsook their hybrid powers to become full-fledged human, but still retaining the physical strength of their lineage. if this is the case, then Baal has nothing to fear from them (or has cause not to), since demons generally treat mortals with scorn. or maybe he doesn't really know it (which i doubt)...
i also don't think the tales of Barbarians having legendary strength is exaggerated. Harrogath wouldn't really be besieged that long if Barbarians were just like ordinary humans; what they lacked in formal training (like the Paladins of Westmarch) they compensated for their raw power. true that Harrogath is merely a thorn on Baal's foot, but it was a thorn nonetheless and he wanted it removed--which, of course, the Barbarian ward on the city refused to do so.
hi guys my first post here; the discussion is too irresistible not to join in.
so here's my take, as i recently replayed D2 and LOD.
it makes sense that the Ancient Ones ("We are the spirits of the Nephalem, the Ancient Ones") became the guardians of the Mount Arreat's summit as they were said to be the offspring of the Angel Inarius and the Demoness Lilith. according to what i read from Wikipedia, the Nephalem were polarized in their allegiance to either parent, and Inarius constructed the Worldstone to limit their powers in Sanctuary. it would go with the Nephalem being its guardians, those Nephalem loyal to their father instead of their demonic mother.
also, the Barbarians of Mount Arreat were legendary for their fearsome battle abilities and such. this would point to them as a bit more than humans, maybe owing to their angelic-demonic lineage. Larzuk says the Ancient Ones were not only their ancestors, but also their "gods" ("Every night I pray to the Ancients... And now you are going to fight them. Tell me... who do I pray to now?"), so this means that the Ancient Ones were indeed the product of Inarius and Lilith's unholy union then this would precisely mean that Barbarians were of a different breed than mundane humans.
and why Mount Arreat? i dunno. seems to me Blizzard patterned it after the Biblical Mount Ararat, where Noah's Ark came to rest after the Deluge (there's also a similar "holy" mountain here in our country, Mount Arayat, but never mind). maybe that mountain, aside from housing the artifact that empowered a kind of "seal" to limit the development of the Nephalem (or else the full manifestation of their powers), was the area where the first humans were born. or the site where Inarius and Lilith had their first tryst. whatever.
as for Baal fearing the Ancient Ones, i believe he did. Anya said "Now Baal will not be tested!" This would mean that the Ancients possessed some kind of potential that could rival Baal's sheer destructive power. Inarius was said (I dunno where I read this) to have envied the Nephalem their power, or else he saw the need to limit them or they would run rampant throughout Sanctuary, and thus erected the Worldstone. if that was that important, it makes sense that his guardians would probably have enough power to keep off intruders--especially that the Worldstone's natural enemies are demons. maybe the Ancient Ones were an exception to the Worldstone's effects (as they're dead--this also means that the Nephalem are mortal, or alternatively, they can choose a mortal shell, just like Diablo and his brothers could).
i dunno how to put this together, but it seems that being in close proximity to a Soulstone (or the Worldstone) grants inhabitants of the nether regions, i.e. Heaven and Hell, temporary boost in abilities. like for example, Tyrael had much more majestic wings before the Worldstone, and that Baal only assumed his true form after taking the last shard of his Soulstone from Marius. because the Nephalem possess both demonic and angelic blood, and they are repulsed by the Worldstone, it is safe to say that either of the purebred races suffer from it as well (or benefit from it). i think Baal needed a link with the Worldstone--his Soulstone, as it came from the latter--so he can corrupt it.
the theory with Tyrael--or what we saw as Tyrael--at the last part of LOD actually being Baal was a good one. i didn't see that one coming. especially since Baal's Soulstone was nowhere to be found.
my thoughts are a little jumbled right now, but i'm going to return soon.