Dota 2 is a huge game with hundreds of characters and years of history. It also has a story, told not through cutscenes and audio logs, but through random voice blurbs, character bios, and item descriptions.
This list details just a few of the weird and hard-to-find facts about the game’s history and lore.
1. Legion Commander was Originally a Man
The number in its title should make it obvious, but Dota 2 is actually the follow-up to something else. Defense of the Ancients, aka DotA, is a mod for Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, and the source of every Dota 2 hero, including Tresdin, the Legion Commander.
In DotA, Tresdin was a horse-riding, mustache-sporting fantasy racist. His Dota 2 successor has identical abilities, but lost the horse and had a change of race and gender. The new Tresdin’s voice work makes reference to this fact, as she appreciates other heroes’ mounts and facial hair.
2. The Nolan Northern Invitational
There are 107 heroes available in the main Dota 2 client. Each has distinct personality, much of which is thanks to some stellar voice acting.
Many of the game’s voice actors play several roles. The Canyman himself, Tony Todd, plays three, for instance. Meanwhile, Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett from The Walking Dead) handles a whopping eight.
But only one actor plays enough characters to draft an entire game of Dota 2. Nolan North, aka Nathan-Drake-and-every-other-male-protagonist-ever, voices Brewmaster, Gyrocopter, Earth Spirit, Meepo, Keeper of the Light, Lone Druid, Lycan, Ogre Magi, Shadow Demon, and Troll Warlord.
Drafting an entire game using only the prolific actors’ characters, I have decided, shall henceforth be referred to as a Nolan Northern Invitational.
3. There is a Hero Named Carl
The Invoker is a complicated hero with a proud backstory and a supremely arrogant demeanor. Also, his real name is Carl, thanks to Valve’s shared sense of humor.
Invoker’s “true” name was originally Kael, a reference to his Warcraft 3 origins. Google Translate misinterpreted this as Carl in some Chinese patch notes, and the community took a liking to it. So did the developer, apparently, ass you can actually hear Carl refer to his one, true moniker:
4. Aghanim had a Son
We know very little about Aghanim, other than that he made one of the most important items in Dota 2. Aghanim’s Scepter is an object that, when built in-game, will upgrade most heroes’ ultimate ability to its highest level.
Interestingly, every character’s voice work only refers to it as “scepter,” omitting the original owner’s name. The only hero that hints at its origins is Rubick, the spell-stealing Grand Magus.
Upon purchasing the staff, Rubick will often intone “Father’s masterpiece,” and “It’s been so long since I held this.” This has led most lore-savvy players to assume he is Aghanim’s son, and that the two likely knew each other at some point.
5. Where Roshan Got That Aegis…
Roshan is the strongest neutral creep in Dota 2, with good reason. Killing him will drop the Aegis of the Immortal, an item that resurrects its holder with full health and mana after death. It can easily sway the nature of a match all by itself.
But who is Roshan? Other than “a big, scaly monster” we don’t really know. However, we do have an idea of where he got the Aegis in the first place. The official Dota 2 comic, “Are We Heroes Yet,” explains that Roshan killed a Shop Keeper and stole the Aegis from them. As punishment, the gods curse him to die repeatedly at the hands of heroes and have his stolen treasure burgled again, and again.
6. The Four Fundamentals
The “Fundamentals” are four heroes in Dota 2 which hail from a universe where the fundamental forces of reality (weak, strong, electromagnetic, and gravity) gained sentience. Through vocal cues, character bios, and ability descriptions it’s possible to put together that these heroes are Chaos Knight, Enigma, Keeper of the Light, and Io.
Keeper (the representative of weak forces) seems to be the rebel of the group, having escaped their universe in some measure to spread light to other planes of existence. Chaos Knight (electromagnetism) didn’t like that, so he split off, too, in order to hunt down every aspect of the Keeper and extinguish his light across all reality.
Enigma and Io are much more chill. The former is convinced all existence will fall to entropy and darkness, making him the victor, while the latter is a ball of light that can’t really talk, but seems content with holding every particle of every universe together.
7. “Dota” is not an Acronym
To be clear DotA, which as I said earlier stands for Defense of the Ancients, is most definitely an acronym. “Dota 2,” on the other hand, has only one capital letter and is therefore just a nonsense word.
That was likely due to a trademark dispute between Valve, the owners of Dota 2, and Blizzard, the company behind Warcraft 3. Eventually, the dispute was resolved with Valve keeping commercial use of the word “Dota,” and Blizzard keeping noncommercial use for things like the original mod.
Valve likely could have called the game “DotA 2” or even “DOTA 2” if they wanted, but instead they chose to spell the game as it is, likely in order to step on as few toes as possible.
Similar naming switcheroos can be found throughout Dota 2. The Priestess of the Moon became Mirana, Wisp became Io, etc. Skeleton King went even further, changing not only his name but appearance and adding to his backstory by becoming Wraith King.
Trademark disputes are weird.