Sometime in the distant past of Destiny
, the arrival of the Traveler marked a rapid rise of technological expansion, and thus a new Golden Age began for the human race. Within decades, humans were able to colonize and populate many of the planets within the Solar System, and even go beyond. However, this would not last, for some unknown force managed to transform much of what was gained into ruin, and the human race had to return to a single city on Earth or face extinction.
Hundreds of years after the cataclysm, the human race is equipped once more with the technological arsenal that the Traveler provides. A chosen few among the many left on the planet have been deemed Guardians (Hunters, Warlocks, and Titans), which are bestowed with magic-like powers to strengthen their forces. On Earth or across the galaxy, the human race is once more ready to take back what is rightfully theirs.
Guardians in General
- Action Girl: Female Guardians, naturally.
- Back from the Dead: Most Guardians seem to be reanimated.
- Came Back Strong: Whatever they were, it's unlikely they were as powerful as they are now.
- Deadpan Snarker: They seem to be this at times in story mode.
- Double Jump: All three classes are able to perform this with the actual mechanism of doing so depending on the class.
- Functional Magic: Thanks to the influence of the Traveler, the Guardians are able to harness ethereal powers.
- Limit Break: All Guardians unlock their Super Abilities once their Subclass has reached level 4. What they do, vary on both your main class and subclass chosen.
- Mage Marksman: All Guardians qualify, to varying degrees courtesy of the Traveller's influence. Warlocks are just more up front about it.
- One-Man Army: Oftentimes Guardians will find themselves battling hordes of enemies alone.
- Player Character
- Purely Aesthetic Gender: The gender, and even the race, of the Guardian has no effect on gameplay. All it does is change your appearance, voice, and dance animation.
- Resurrective Immortality: Guardians seem to constantly come back from the dead, provided that their Ghost is still functioning. This point is driven home on the very first Moon Story Mission, where a Guardian is completely dead with his Ghost missing.
- Badass Cape: One that also functions as a hood.
- Bounty Hunter: The key influence on their design.
- Crutch Character: An odd example; The Hunter's "Golden Gun" Super is pretty decent in PvE, but is incredibly overpowered in PvP. Compared to most other Supers, the Golden Gun at minimum gets 3 shots that can instant kill, whereas a Warlock and Titan gets an AoE. Because of this, Hunters are this for PvP oriented Hunter: They'll be good at hunting down Guardians, but they'll lack a powerful punch during missions.
- Hunters are so favoured in PvP because of that, that you'll probably clear most Crucible bounties that require Hunter kills, than any other class.
- Knife Nut: Their melee weapon and they can even throw it.
- The Gunslinger: One of the possible focuses. An ability named the Golden Gunnote , lets the user wield a powerful Hand Cannon that kill enemies in a single shot or two.
- In the Hood
- Sniper Rifle: Their special weapon of choice. If you chose a Hunter, the first mission gives you one as well.
- Badass Bookworm: The Flavor Text of their items and Grimoire entries on Bungie.Net show the Warlocks are as interested in learning humanity's past as they are defending the present, and they are just as devoted to protecting humanity as Titans and Hunters.
- Badass Longcoat: Warlocks can be recognized by their long coats and rounded helmets. The coat gets longer as you get better and higher leveled gear.
- Critical Status Buff: The Sunsinger's signature Super. Your grenade and melee ability recharges way faster, you have additional buffs to your guns, and to top it all, you give said buff to teammates nearby, which lasts on them until your Super runs out.
- Energy Ball: Both the Warlock's grenades and the Voidwalker special ability lets them throw a much more powerful void orb that consumes enemies. Their skill tree can vary the effect of it.
- Kill It with Fire: The Sunsinger Subclass' signature attacks.
- Magical Guardian: Bungie states that their design is largely based on characters like Obi-Wan or Gandalf.
- Mage Marksman: They use both magic and guns.
- Master of None: Weapon-wise, they don't get any bonuses to guns, so if you favour weapons over your own skills, you probably shouldn't be a Warlock. On the other hand, Sunsinger averts this, by having a Super that causes buffs to you, your allies and all of your weapons.
- Barrier Warrior: The Defender subclass, which specializes in protecting the Titan and his allies with Deflector Shields made of space-bending void energy.
- The Big Guy: The largest and most imposing Guardian.
- Ground Punch: Their arc super ability involves leaping into the air and driving a fist into the ground, causing heavy damage to nearby enemies.
- Lightning Bruiser: They are capable of moving around just as fast as their Hunter and Warlock coutnerparts.
- Power Fist: Their primary melee weaponry is built into their gauntlets and triggered by impact, either shocking opponents with crackling arc energy or disintegrating them with volatile void energy.
- Shoulders of Doom
- Space Marine: Bungie based the designs of this class on the modern Space Marine.
Humanity and Allied Forces
Humans In General
- Advanced Ancient Humans: Sort of. The ancient extinct civilization the game begins after is implied to be our future, but their past. Subverted in that "modern" humans have weaponry augmented by the Traveler. Which makes sense, since earlier humans were wiped off the face of the Solar System with their own weaponry.
- Humans Are Average: From a technical standpoint, humans are a fairly balanced race.
- Humans Are Special: The Traveler would certainly think so.
- Space Elves: Extended lifespans, far more advanced tech than their rivals, while being hampered by low population.
- Vestigial Empire: Originally, they were one of the most influential species within the galaxy. Hundreds of years after the fall, they're just now attempting to take back the vast amount of land that they lost, and are barely holding back the Darkness from their last outpost, the City.
A mysterious object that appeared over the Earth in the distant past. Its appearance gave rise to hundreds of new technologies, and allowed the human race to expand their influence over the galaxy in a short period of time. However, some cataclysm caused most of what was gained to be lost, and the Traveler had to sacrifice some of its power in order to stop the threat from destroying all of humanity. However, the Traveler has not been destroyed; it stil remains as a protecting force over the last city on Earth, and grants power to those who will fight for it.
- Big Good: Is seen as this for humanity.
- Blue and Orange Morality: No one knows why the Traveler is aiding humanity.
- Deus Est Machina/God/Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Possibilities on what this thing is.
- Heroic Sacrifice: At the end of the Golden Age, the object apparently made some sort of sacrifice in order to stop the forces that nearly wiped out humanity.
- Eldritch Abomination: Nobody is able to comprehend what this thing is. It appears to be a good one, given its actions in the past.
- Functional Magic: It can grant special abilities to Guardians.
- Light is Good: This bright white object is what's been keeping the human race alive for hundreds of years.
- That's No Moon: People still aren't quite sure what it is, but they can agree that a moon it isn't.
- Plot Device: A shard of the Travler was stolen by the Hive and used by them to teleport forces to Earth. You do get to free the piece and limit the battle with Hive on Earth.
- Reality Warper: At the very least, if bringing rain to Mars and making both Venus and Mercury safe for human colonization are any indication.
- Where It All Began: This the very thing that set the plot in motion.
The ethereal and aloof Awoken were once human, but were transformed by some unknown force back as they fled the Collapse.
- Blue Skinned Space Babe: Female Awoken can qualify as this. They have bluish-gray skin, and are exotically beautiful.
- Our Monsters Are Different: They are influenced from a number of mythical creatures, according to Bungie.
- Transhuman: According to lore, they were originally humans that tried to flee Earth in the wake of the Collapse. During their exodus, something happened to them out in deep space that led to their being changed into the Awoken race.
Robots built by humanity during the Golden Age. Much about them has been forgotten, even by themselves.
- Creepy Good: As far as the allied races go, this is certainly the most ominous-looking one.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: They were apparently brought into sentience by a subroutine of some kind.
- Implacable Man: It is said that very little can stop them.
- Mechanical Lifeforms: The Exos are a race of sentient machines designed for war in a long-forgotten conflict.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: That they have human proportions makes sense given that they were built by humans to interact with a human-centric civilization, but that they are divided into male and female designs or that their personalities are practically indistinguishable from humans puts them right into this trope.
- Throat Light: Like their eyes, their mouths show a light when open.
Robots, non-sentient and more primitive than the Exo, built to serve the City.
Flying robotic drone companions that accompany Guardians and serve multiple functions such as navigation, hacking computers, opening doors, and other useful tasks.
Residents of the Tower
A combination scholar, oracle, and high-priest, the Speaker is a position held by one who conceals their face behind a mask and keeps constant watch on the Traveler to interpret its will and speak for it.
- Big Good: If the Traveler can be considered a Bigger Good, then the Speaker can be considered this.
- Mouth of Sauron: The good version, he describes himself as the voice of the Traveler until it awakens.
The Awoken leader of the Vanguard and overall commander of the City's standing forces, he mentors Titans who come to him.
- Bald Blue Leader Guy: Keeps his hair perpetually shaved and is voiced by Lance Reddick.
- Colonel Badass: A Titan with a the bearing of a professional military officer and campaign ribbons on his armor who is in overall command of the City's standing forces.
An Exo who loves the open frontier, the loss of a bet has resulted in him being stuck behind the Vanguard table in the Tower, where he coordinates the intelligence efforts of City agents in the field and outfits Hunters who visit him.
- Deadpan Snarker: He teases Warlock players about getting lost in the library of (their) minds on occasion and some of his patrol dialogue is a lighter version of this.
- Desk Jockey: Much to his displeasure, but he fulfills it out of a strong sense of duty.
A one-time lone wandering Guardian, Ikora returned from the wild with her knowledge heavily tempered by practical experience and her temperament extremely even. Her esteem among several different Warlock schools made her the logical choice to represent them among the Vanguard.
- The Archmage: The highest representative of all the Warlock schools and serving as their mouthpiece and will on the Vanguard, the upper command of the City's defensive forces.
- Bald Women
A veteran of the battle of the Twilight Gap, Shaxx's experiences there convinced him that the City was too unprepared to repel a direct attack should the Traveler's protection falter. Thus, he created the Crucible, a series of tournaments and battles that pit Guardians against one another in combat that they may be sharpened by the experience.
Voiced by Shohreh Aghdashloo
An enigmatic Exo, Lakshmi is full of secrets that she only divulges to those who ascend into the mysteries of the Future War Cult. Those who can get past her rather brutal philosophy of endless struggle have found her to be otherwise excellent company.
An Awoken with dreams of the stars, Jalaal is an Arach of the Dead Orbit, and fears that if humanity does not make a diaspora from the solar system of its birth than it will surely be destroyed if the Darkness returns.
An industrial magnate of the City's foundries and well-known philanthropist, Hideo has become convinced that the City needs stronger leadership and less factionalism if it is to survive the trials everyone can feel coming. Thus, he has turned his resources to forwarding the cause of the New Monarchy, and seeks out Guardians to champion it.
A Frame that acts as the postmaster for the Tower, Kadi has a somewhat worried personality matrix.
One of the City's Crypto-Archaeologists, Rahool's insatiable hunger to study history has brought him to the Tower where he can be the first to see, study, and catalog new items that Guardians bring in from the frontier.
- Adventure Archaeologist: Downplayed. While he does not go out adventuring, he prefers to be at the Tower where the Guardians can be found instead of at the Cryptarch's Archives, since that is where he is best positioned to get the first look at artifacts coming back from the wild and talk to the Guardians who found them about the adventures they had getting them.
A "fixer" of a sort, Tess is known for her wide web of connections and abilities to procure unusual goods. She has a kiosk in the Tower from which she can get Guardians special orders not found anywhere else.
- The Fixer: She can get almost anything for the right price.
An artist and meta-material hacker who looks to both past and present for inspiration, Eva has a long career of outfitting Guardians with custom heraldic signs and recoloring armor and equipment.
The daughter of traveling pilgrims, Holliday learned mechanical maintenance from a young age as a necessity, and when she settled in the City her expertise won her a senior position repairing and refurbishing jumpships and other vehicles.
- Southern-Fried Genius: Presumably her family of pilgrims was from the southern parts of North America, if her accent is anything to go by.
- Wrench Wench: Ever since she was a child.
An Exo soldier who saw too much during his long existence and has the damage-repair seams to prove it. His numerous resets have kept him functional after all this time, but his vast memory is fragmented and even he has trouble sifting it. Never the less, his experience with guns is second to none, and he spends his days building and repairing weapons used by Guardians.
A mysterious humanoid of slumped posture and drawn hood, Xûr comes and goes from the Tower as he pleases and trades strangely exotic coins for equally exotic equipment. He serves the enigmatic Nine, rulers of the Jovians, the four gas giants beyond the asteroid belt.
A well composed Frame, Roni functions as the quartermaster for the Vanguard. He remains unflappable, despite Cayde's attempts to produce a reaction.
A former combat frame under the control of Lord Shaxx, Arcite has long since been repurposed into assisting Shaxx's with some of the more clerical parts of managing the Crucible. While he has been demilitarized, he retains his memories and some of his programming as a combat frame, and carries the personality that comes with it.
One of the newest model of Frames to come out of the City's foundries, Xander is responsible for tracking bounties posted for Guardians in the Tower and is authorized to distribute compensation when brought proof of completion.
The many races that have taken over the lost colonies, or have appeared to be hostile to humans and those allied with them. It is unknown if they are the cause of the cataclysm that ended the Golden Age.
A nomadic race of four armed humanoids, the Fallen were once a noble hierarchical society. In the aftermath of the Collapse, they have become bandits and pirates, raiding settlements on Earth and the moon.
- Expy: Their tall height, four arms, aggressiveness, and inhabiting the ruined cities of others makes them one for the Green Barsoomians from Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars series. This is likely part of Destiny's Genre Throwback to Planetary Romance.
- Evil Counterpart: Like humanity, they are a Vestigial Empire that seeks to reclaim their previous influence.
- Fallen Hero: It's stated that they earned their name due to not only the fall of their civilization, but to their decaying morality. See "Meaningful Name" for more details.
- Space Pirates: Their own fall has reduced many of their kin to this.
- Spider Tank: This thing.◊ It requires a two-man crew and functions as a Mighty Glacier.
- Meaningful Name: At some point before the events of the game, the Fallen were once a race comprised of multiple noble houses before descending into their current state as nomads and pirates.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Most have an extra pair of arms. The Dregs, the lowest levels of their society, have the lower set of arms cut off until they can prove they're worthy of having them regrown.
- Our Souls Are Different: When a member of the Fallen dies, their soul appears to be ripped from their bodies. Getting headshots on them reveals an odd light whisping away from where their head was.
- The Usual Adversaries: Fallen are encountered on every planet, often fighting the dominant faction controlling it. Humanity just happens to be the one they're fighting on Earth.
- Vestigial Empire: The Fallen went from being a powerful race of nobility to one shrouded in poverty and crime.
A race of mechanical creatures which lurk in the Jungles of Venus.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Unlike most of the humanoid creatures in the game, the basic Vex's weak spot is the glowing light in its abdomen. Blowing its head off just makes them more aggressive.
- Clockwork Creature: The only alien race that is entirely mechanical. Except for some biological components your Ghost discovers while analyzing a dead Vex's head.
- The Dragon: Is this to the Darkness, serving as The Darkness' faction of choice for Venus.
- Hive Mind: After analyzing Vex remains and their minds, Ghost concludes that every units is a part of a singular mind. The Grimoire indicates the whole race is one gigantic cross-temporal computer system.
- Mechanical Lifeforms
- Teleporters and Transporters
- Theme Naming: Mythological creatures are the basis for the names of their units.
- Time Travel: They can somehow use this to their advantage. According to the description of one weapon that seems reverse-engineered from them (or possibly stolen, it's not clear yet).
A massive race of rhinoceros-like humanoids who are found on Mars. They are at war with Humanity and the Vex.
- Base on Wheels: They employ several giant land tanks which crawl across the Martian desert and house entire companies.
- The Empire: Mars is only a small part of their territory. It's said that they've conquered more worlds than humanity has ever known— and yet, one Ghost speculates that they're running from something...
- Expy: They share more than a few similarities with Warhammer 40,000's Space Marines, being a race of vaguely Roman-themed giant warriors in heavy blue armor serving a militaristic Empire. Their Slug Rifles also function very similarly to bolters, firing armor-piercing "microrockets".
- The Brute: Not only are they immensely powerful, but they have a personal vendetta against humanity.
- Gatling Good: A massive one carried by a huge Cabal class called "Gladiators".
- Space Romans: Explicitly so.
A mysterious race of techno-zombies who's primary base is on the Moon.
- Beef Gate: In the Beta, a few Hallow Knights are presented as this in areas that contain goodies, or near places you can't explore.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: The Thrall (a mostly mindless version of them) function and act like Zombies.
- Expy: A lot of Hive units seem to draw inspiration from the enemies from Marathon. This is especially apparent with Acolytes and Wizards, who are dead ringers for Pfhor Fighters and S'pht Compilers, respectively.
- Names To Run Away From Very Fast: The Hellmouth, their base on the Moon.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: They're essentially Zombie Alien Wizards from the Moon.
- Religion of Evil: While the Cabal and Fallen see humanity is a pest that needs to be destroyed for them to be able to take their possessions, the Hive worship the Darkness and see their war with humanity as a Crusade.
The ancient enemy of the Traveler, and supposedly what drove Humanity to near extinction.
- Big Bad: Pretty much the reason why humanity fell during the Golden Age, and the backing power behind all of the hostile alien factions.
- Bigger Bad: You never actually fight it, you just fight its proxies and those taking advantage of humanity's fall. The Hive worship it, the Vex are controlled by it and the Cabal are implied to be running from it.
- Dark Is Evil: In contrast to the Traveler.
- Eldritch Abomination: It is the Traveler's equal, and thus counts as this. Precisely what the Darkness actually is tends to be up to debate. Some philosophies argue that it is an Eldritch Abomination, others that it is a technological weapon, others that it is simply the leadership of the various alien factions that have despoiled human civilization, and others that it is the Traveler's Evil Counterpart. What is known about it is that it's got a complex structure, is intelligent, and is angry. It's also described as "acausal", i.e. it's acting on future events. Something that might have been a part of the Darkness is encountered at the heart of the Black Garden.
- God of Evil: Is worshipped by Vex like a god, because they could not apparently comprehend it. The Grimoire entry on the Sol Progeny it creates indicates that this was but a small component of the overall Darkness.