If you thought the two-year wait for playable Scaramouche was unbearable, just think of how Baizhu mains (to be) have been suffering since before Genshin Impact was even released, when the green-haired, Dendro Vision-wielding doctor was among the characters first introduced in the game’s early closed beta tests – only for him to be a quest-exclusive NPC upon launch. Now, it’s not uncommon for a future playable character to appear in the game shortly before their release, giving them a chance to develop a fanbase, but few characters have had as long an interval between their introduction and their official release as Baizhu, or disappeared for so long during that interval period. Even Scaramouche became a major antagonist whose story spanned several Events and two Archon Quests. Baizhu, by contrast, has only appeared a few times, and it is still unclear if he’s actually all that relevant.
But it seems that HoYoverse has finally remembered Baizhu exists, or else he has some role to play in the story yet to come that requires him to be playable, because in Version 3.6 the long wait ends and Baizhu will join Genshin Impact‘s ever-growing roster alongside Kaveh, another Dendro character. We know next to nothing about either character’s kit and playstyle, so today’s post will be brief, focusing exclusively on the characters themselves (of course, there are the usual number of leaks going around, but I won’t be discussing any of that or entertaining discussion of leaked content in my comments section…what I will say, however, is that every leak I’ve seen pertaining to Baizhu has directly contradicted another, so take them all with a grain of salt until the Version 3.6 beta test begins).
Baizhu, from what we currently understand of his backstory, was born frail and sickly, and has spent his entire life working as a doctor in the hopes of one day stumbling across a treatment to his own relentless maladies. At some point, however, he became discontent with surviving and started aspiring to live – forever, that is. I imagine this is about the time when Baizhu received his Dendro Vision, although the green gemstone has probably proved less useful to his pursuit of immortality than the whispered advice of the magical white snake named Changsheng, who remains loosely coiled around his neck, and his study of the undead child Qiqi, who is something like an adopted daughter and apprentice to him now. Baizhu manages Liyue’s Bubu Pharmacy with assistance from Herbalist Gui, and has established a reputation for being one of Teyvat’s greatest doctors – though in early appearances of the character, it was suggested that he might be overcharging or even swindling his patients. I believe HoYoverse abandoned that idea, for there is no trace of Baizhu’s deceitful side in more recent months.
Kaveh, dubbed the “Light of Kshahrewar” by students of that Darshan which studies technology, is Sumeru’s most in-demand architect and interior designer – although you wouldn’t guess it from his current living conditions, which leave much to be desired. Conned by an elusive client out of his fortune, a frantic Kaveh had no other choice but to ask for help from Alhaitham of the Haravatat Darshan, his financially well-off rival. As roommates, the two men do everything in their power to avoid each other during the day, because when they absolutely must interact, one of them always finds something trivial to quarrel about (redecorating Alhaitham’s apartment, in particular, poses a challenge for two people so fundamentally at odds on the matter of interior décor), but that hasn’t stopped players from shipping them – quite the opposite! And you know I don’t even like Alhaitham all that much, but him and Kaveh both being so goddamn irritating is exactly what makes the “frenemies-with-benefits” trope work in this instance.
Assuming that Baizhu and Kaveh will debut together on the first banner of Version 3.6 (technically, it’s not officially confirmed that Baizhu is a five-star and Kaveh a four-star, but it’s pretty likely), will you be pulling for them or skipping their banner entirely based on what you know of the two characters thus far? In time, we’ll start to see kit leaks, and then there’ll be all the usual discourse about whether you should pull for either one, but which one do you want? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!
Having spent the last four months dutifully collecting Primogems and stockpiling Intertwined Fates in preparation for the release of Dehya in Version 3.5, I was cautiously optimistic that the 3.5 Special Program would give us new details about her character that would finally put a rest to the pervasive rumors that her kit is one of the worst ever designed by HoYoverse. I was not expecting HoYoverse to instead throw a wrench into my plans for obtaining the five-star Pyro claymore user I’ve been waiting for since Sumeru’s characters were first leaked by announcing without warning that she’s headed to the permanent Standard Banner in Version 3.6, joining such undervalued characters as Diluc, Keqing, Jean, and Qiqi. It’s practically tantamount to an admission that Dehya’s kit is indeed as bad as has been speculated all along, and that HoYoverse doesn’t foresee players spending enough money on her banner to make successive reruns worthwhile. You’d think they would just…improve her kit, but apparently not.
As for how this affects me, well, I’ve always intended to get Dehya on her debut banner, and that hasn’t changed. I didn’t pre-farm all of her Ascension Materials for nothing, and I’ve already got a Burgeon team where I think she’ll fit nicely. But my motivation to collect at least one additional copy of her character (the first six of which are referred to as Constellations in Genshin Impact, and provide upgrades that Dehya in particular needs to be viable) has admittedly dwindled somewhat now that I know I’ll probably get her randomly at some point in the near future…though with that said, I’ve been playing Genshin Impact for over a year at this point and I’ve only ever obtained two of the six Standard Banner five-stars currently available (Keqing and Jean). Going after her event-exclusive signature weapon, Beacon of the Reed Sea, might be a better investment.
Fortunately, for those of us who have had never had much luck on the Weapon Banner, Dehya can make use of the new four-star claymore, Mailed Flower, that will be available for free in Version 3.5 as a reward for participating in the Windblume’s Breath Event held annually in Mondstadt to celebrate love and romance. The highly-anticipated Event will feature a minigame based on Pac-Man where players will run amok in the Knights of Favonius Headquarters (yes, even the building’s out-of-bounds upper floors) collecting balloons and evading floating enemies, and a rhythm game in which players can perform pieces of the Genshin Impact original soundtrack on three sonically distinct instruments. The Event’s main storyline will reunite Outrider Amber and Trainee Forest Ranger Collei for the first time since the events of the semi-canonical Genshin Impact manga where Collei visited Mondstadt as a child.
In fact, characters from all across Teyvat will be in attendance, including Cyno and Tighnari from Sumeru (Tighnari’s disgraced English voice-actor, Elliot Gindi, appears to have already recorded his lines for the Event, and will not be recast quickly enough to spare players from having to hear his voice, so consider switching languages or simply muting); Ying’er, a fan-favorite NPC from Liyue (who at first glance seems rather out-of-place in this particular Event, though it seems there’s something going on between her and a Mondstadt NPC, alchemist Timaeus); and of course, practically everyone from Mondstadt (with the possible exception of Kaeya, who is occupied elsewhere).
Specifically, players who have completed Requiem Of The Echoing Depths can expect to find Kaeya hanging out in Sumeru, where Genshin Impact‘s overarching story will continue with a new Archon Quest titled Caribert (seemingly a reference to Charibert I, the name of a 6th Century Merovingian king who was the first of his dynasty to be excommunicated – for having four wives simultaneously, but I doubt that’s relevant). Kaeya, the long-lost heir to the even longer-lost throne of Khaenri’ah, and Dainsleif, a morally ambiguous survivor of the Cataclysm that destroyed Khaenri’ah five-hundred years ago, will accompany us on an expedition deep into the bowels of the earth in search of answers to our questions regarding the Abyss Order (of which our protagonist’s sibling is a high-ranking member), whose stated purpose is to resurrect Khaenri’ah and usurp the gods responsible for wiping it off the face of the earth. Unfortunately, that’s everything we know for sure about the Archon Quest so far, but anyone who’s familiar with Kaeya and Dainsleif’s extensive lore knows that these two characters meeting onscreen could have game-changing consequences. When we’ve met them individually in the past, they’ve always avoided saying too much about themselves, shrugging us off when we press them about it, so having Kaeya on our side to help grill Dainsleif (and vice versa!) will hopefully force everyone to be a little more forthright.
The first chapters of Dehya’s Story Quest and Faruzan’s Hangout Event are also set to be released in Version 3.5, and I have a feeling from the brief synopses provided by HoYoverse during the Special Program that I’ll enjoy both – Dehya’s Story Quest in particular, as it will see the return of Dunyarzad, a beloved NPC who had a significant role in the Sumeru Archon Quest and was originally responsible for getting Dehya tangled up in the plot to rescue Lesser Lord Kusanali from the clutches of corrupt scholars at the Akademiya, because even though Dehya might have been hired to be Dunyarzad’s silent and stoic bodyguard, she’s too much of a big softie to turn her back on her friend (or girlfriend, depending on how you interpret their relationship dynamic). Anyway, with Dunyarzad now cured of the debilitating illness that required her family to hire a bodyguard for her in the first place, I’m excited to see how their relationship will evolve, and what new adventures they’ll go on together. Faruzan’s Hangout Event, by contrast, will primarily take place in the heart of the Akademiya, and explore the distinctions between the six Darshans and their conflicting philosophies.
As intriguing as this sounds, I still do not understand why Faruzan, of all the four-star characters from Sumeru, is first-in-line for a Hangout Event while Collei and Candace are still waiting months after their release, and Mika, the new four-star Cryo polearm user being introduced alongside Dehya in Version 3.5, is apparently going to be dropped into the game without any accompanying story content to remind players why they should want to pull for him besides the fact that he buffs ATK Speed and Physical DMG while providing a little bit of healing, making him a good support for characters like Eula (and Xinyan, especially if you’re using her as your Main DPS, the way I do). If only it made sense to run Mika on Eula’s banner, given that she’s canonically his commanding officer…or, you know, rerun Eula in general, seeing as it’s been over a year and there’s a Mondstadt Event in Version 3.5 and the aforementioned reward for participating in said Event is a claymore, Eula’s weapon…nope, definitely the logical choice by HoYoverse to slap Mika on a banner with Kamisato Ayaka and Shenhe, two characters with whom he has no real synergy, making for an inharmonious Mono-Cryo medley in the latter half of Version 3.5.
Beyond that, a few small adjustments and improvements are being made to the game in Version 3.5, of which the simplest and most popular by far is the new system of rewarding players for completing currently released and upcoming chapters of Genshin Impact‘s main storyline with one Intertwined Fate – exchangeable on any limited-time banner – for every Archon Quest. Whether generous or merely exploitative, I will be taking those Intertwined Fates, thank you very much. Dehya will come home to me, and that’s final. But how about you? Pulling for anyone in Version 3.5, or skipping the patch entirely? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!
My fellow Ittorou shippers, our time has finally come.
What’s that? You thought I’d start off by talking about the long-awaited gameplay preview for Scaramouche, who graces the thumbnail of the Genshin Impact Version 3.3 trailer (above)? Well, if it’s commentary on Scaramouche’s redesign and unique gameplay mechanics that you’re looking for, allow me to redirect you to a post from earlier this month where I went over most of the information that was only officially revealed in yesterday’s Special Program, including what I would consider to be a far more concise description of his Elemental Skill than what was offered on the livestream, which got a little bogged-down with ornate names for everything under the sun. Seeing as that post has not yet been outdated by any new information from the game developers, there’s actually not too much more to say about Scaramouche – I mean, besides the fact that he’s getting his own Archon Quest, apparently. Don’t worry, we’ll go over all the details in due time.
But first thing’s first, and the thing in question is Ittorou – which I suppose is its own kind of ornate term, so let me explain. “Ittorou” is the nickname for a popular queer ship in the Genshin Impact fandom that involves the characters of Arataki Itto and Gorou. The one is a Geo on-field Main DPS, the other a designated Geo support, and they are apparently both at their best when played alongside each other (I wouldn’t know, having never gotten my hands on a copy of Gorou, despite him theoretically being the easier of the two to obtain as a four-star character). They debuted simultaneously in December 2021, and Gorou has only ever received a drop-rate boost on Itto’s limited-time banners; in fact, he is likely to reappear on a banner next month when Itto gets his second rerun. Yet despite their obvious synergy, they’ve never interacted onscreen.
Until now, that is. For the main Event of Version 3.3, Akitsu Kimodameshi, characters from all over Inazuma have been invited to participate in a “test of courage” organized by the Yashiro Commission…and the trailer confirms that Itto, Gorou, Heizou and Yoimiya are amongst the champions hoping to venture into Chinju Forest on Narukami Island, where malevolent spirits roam under the cover of eternal darkness, and come out the other side unscathed both physically and mentally. Now, as much as I hate to see my favorite characters suffer, just think of the potential interactions we could see – Itto cowering behind Gorou at every strange sound, Gorou leaping into Itto’s arms in a moment of weakness, Gorou’s fur bristling and Itto trying to comfort him by patting his head like a dog. Even though we know damn well that MiHoYo has no intention to put any of its characters, straight or queer, in canonical relationships, they’re giving me what I want, which is a canonical basis for the very much non-canonical fanfic I intend to consume in massive quantities after the Event.
And to be fair, despite never having interacted with each other previously, Itto and Gorou are already about as blatantly queer-coded as the male characters in Genshin Impact can get (it’s a very different situation for female characters: although they’re just as unlikely to ever state that they’re queer, it’s no secret that Jean and Lisa, Ningguang and Beidou, and Ei and Yae Miko are more than just extremely close friends). The reason fans started shipping Ittorou in the first place is because Itto has a voice-line where he talks about the warm, fuzzy feeling that he gets around Gorou, and also because he has a massive crush on Gorou’s alter ego, the advice columnist “Ms. Hina”, who is depicted on posters and standees as Gorou wearing a dress. But we still don’t know how Gorou feels about Itto, so this new Event is sure to be very illuminating in that regard.
As an additional incentive for participating, one of the limited-time rewards obtainable through the Akitsu Kimodameshi Event is a new weapon named the Toukabou Shigure, technically classified as a sword but more closely resembling an umbrella with a claw-like handle, a leering mouth, and a single eye. The weapon’s distinctive design is based on depictions of the Kasa-obake, a type of yōkai or demon, found in Japanese art and literature dating back to the Edo period. And looking at the amount of research that went into this one weapon, I can’t help but again be reminded of the stark difference between how MiHoYo lovingly takes inspiration from Japanese culture when expanding the region of Inazuma and its accompanying lore, and how they grabbed a bunch of random, orientalist stereotypes of Southwest Asia and North Africa when it came time to do the same for Sumeru.
In fact, despite the region still being fairly new, Sumeru and its roster of characters are already being neglected by MiHoYo in favor of Inazuma, Liyue, and Mondstadt, with only one Sumeru-based Event announced for Version 3.3 and no Hang-out Event for the new four-star character, Faruzan, whom I was excited to learn more about after it was revealed during the Special Program that she’s over a hundred years old and knows a great deal of lore pertaining to Sumeru’s desert-dwelling ancient civilization, having spent decades trapped in the ruins beneath the desert. Unfortunately, it’s possible we won’t see or hear from Faruzan until some random side-quest or Event brings us back to the desert, and that could take a while. She was not mentioned in association with Misty Dungeon, a popular Event that will return in Version 3.3 with a desert theme.
Misty Dungeon first appeared in the spring of 2021 under the title Battlefront: Misty Dungeon, and was so popular it was brought back later that same year as Misty Dungeon: Realm Of Light. This year’s reskinned version of the Event is titled Misty Dungeon: Realm Of Sand, and will take place in Sumeru, but it will still follow the same general concept, requiring players to move through a labyrinth, completing puzzles and timed challenges until they unlock an encounter with a final boss. And it won’t be the only fan-favorite Event making a comeback in Version 3.3 – Windtrace, Genshin Impact‘s version of hide-and-seek for co-op mode, will also be returning with some cool new perks for both hiders and seekers, including giving players the ability to continue participating in the game even after being captured.
And if you don’t share in the nostalgia for Misty Dungeon and Windtrace, well, Genshin Impact has got you covered with Across The Wilderness, a brand-new Event where players run around rooftops capturing balloons. From the description and preview, it looks relatively stress-free, but there’s no doubt that having multiple Anemo characters like Venti, Xiao, Kazuha, and Scaramouche on your team will give you a literal boost while running, jumping, and climbing (if you needed any more reasons to pull for Scaramouche, he’s about to make exploration in this game ridiculously easy).
On that note, I guess it’s time we talked about Scaramouche’s Archon Quest: Interlude, which presumably picks up right where the final chapter of the Sumeru Archon Quest left off, with Scaramouche hidden away at the Sumeru Akademiya in the care of the Dendro Archon and making a full recovery from the traumatic head injury he sustained after falling from the cockpit of his giant robotic exoskeleton (long story). But of all things, an Akademiya inquiry into the events on the island of Tatarasuna leads the Traveler back to Scaramouche and forces the former Fatui Harbinger to begrudgingly sift through his scattered memories and construct a full account of what happened there roughly four-hundred years ago.
Scaramouche getting an Archon Quest in place of a Story Quest is interesting because Archon Quests aren’t optional, so whatever dark secrets are contained in Scaramouche’s backstory, MiHoYo wants us all to know this stuff. The only other characters in the game with that level of personal significance to the overarching storyline, besides the literal Archons of each region, are…honestly, maybe only Dainsleif and Kaeya, and they’re both so integral to the story of Khaenri’ah and its destruction that they literally can’t appear for too long or one of them will inadvertently spoil the game’s ending. I pray that we get a little more time with Scaramouche before he’s put in a similarly awkward position.
One more thing before we finish up here: new, completely optional permanent gameplay is coming to Genshin Impact in Version 3.3, in the form of an animated card game named Genius Invokation TCG, but for the time being there are no plans to offer rewards or allow players to track their progress in the game, and it’s subsequently unclear how MiHoYo intends to keep players from growing bored of this after the novelty of challenging friends and random NPCs to duels wears off, as I’m sure it will sooner rather than later. Until I sit down and actually read the rules, my first impressions of Genius Invokation TCG are neutral. Admittedly, I’m a little bitter about the absence of Itto – he literally plays Genius Invokation TCG! How is he not featured on a character card? – but the art and animations are the only things catching my eye in the gameplay preview.
Anyway, what did you think of the Version 3.3 Special Program? Will you be spending your hard-earned Primogems on Scaramouche’s banner, or waiting for another character? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!
We’ll probably never know if MiHoYo, anticipating backlash to the first official look at the three new playable characters coming to Genshin Impact in Version 3.0, revealed the identities of the game’s mysterious villains, the eleven Fatui Harbingers, as a distraction – something to keep the fans content, by feeding them hollow promises of more varied and interesting character designs in the far-off future while in the here and now, the game developers couldn’t even be bothered to experiment with different skin-tones for new playable characters, much less designing entirely new character models. But there can be no doubt that, whether by design or by coincidence, the distraction worked.
In a new Teyvat Chapter Interlude Teaser titled “A Winter Night’s Lazzo”, nine of the ten remaining Fatui Harbingers gather in Snezhnaya to mourn the recent loss of their troupe’s eleventh member, La Signora, and to bury what little remains of her. But the solemn evening quickly devolves into chaos as the Harbingers begin hurling insults at each other from opposite sides of La Signora’s coffin, until only an intervention by the mysterious Pierro, first and foremost of the Harbingers, can put an end to their little lazzo.
For those unfamiliar with the now somewhat archaic Italian term, a lazzo is any short comedic routine in the Commedia dell’arte, typically improvised by its performers to smooth transitions between scenes or recapture an audience’s waning interest. The Commedia dell’arte were comedic or satirical plays performed by wandering troupes of actors that originated in Italy sometime in the 16th Century and later became popular across southern Europe (until they were outlawed by Napoleon in 1797) – these plays always involved the same stock characters with exaggerated personality traits, outlandish outfits and grotesque masks, but the plots would change around them depending on the audience a troupe was catering to at any given moment.
For reasons that remain unclear, the Harbingers have each adopted or been assigned the name of a stock character from the Commedia dell’arte, and they each share a handful of similarities with their Commedia counterpart – although there are key differences worth mentioning as we work our way through the Harbingers in order of appearance. But first, a little background on how the Harbingers came to be: don’t be impatient, this part’s not very long, anyway.
The only thing we can say with absolute certainty regarding the Harbingers’ origins is that they were formed shortly after the Cataclysm (the destruction of the nation of Khaenri’ah and the systematic genocide of its people by Celestia, or by Archons responding to Celestia), and that their founding member was a survivor of the Cataclysm known only by the Commedia alias he took when he first established the Harbingers – Pierro, the Jester. In the roughly five-hundred years since the Cataclysm occurred, Pierro has recruited ten new members (that we know of), and each one seems to harbor a grudge against a particular god, or just against gods in general.
Rosalyne, who became known as La Signora after joining the Harbingers, hated the Anemo Archon Barbatos because he was nowhere to be found when she prayed to him for help during the Cataclysm. Kunikuzushi, or Scaramouche as he was later known, was designed to be a container for the Raiden Shogun’s Electro Gnosis – but she deemed him unfit for the task and discarded him, leaving him to wander the earth aimlessly for centuries until he found the Harbingers. As for Ajax, later Tartaglia…well, I don’t really know what his deal was, but after falling into the Abyss at the age of fourteen and having to battle his way out I wouldn’t blame him for hating the gods just because.
But gods can hold grudges too. At some point, Pierro aligned himself with the nameless Cryo Archon of Snezhnaya, who – despite being a god herself – was also angry at Celestia. We still don’t know why (although it’s been postulated that perhaps the Cryo Archon regrets the role she played in Khaenri’ah’s destruction, as she seems to have been a gentle goddess before the Cataclysm) and we don’t know whether Pierro is actually loyal to her or whether he’s been exploiting her guilt to get what he wants out of the arrangement. It’s telling that Pierro is playing chess with the Gnoses collected from the Anemo and Geo Archons at the beginning of the teaser, indicating that he hasn’t handed them over to the Cryo Archon despite taking them in her name.
Speaking of chess, I know for a fact that I was not the only one who gasped out loud when I saw the Anemo and Geo Gnoses on Pierro’s chessboard, standing in for the white queen and remaining white rook, respectively. The Genshin Impact “chess theory”, which has been around for a while now, has always hinged on the idea that the Archons correspond to specific chess pieces represented by the design of their Gnoses, but this outright confirms it: the Archons – or at the very least their Gnoses – are the pieces that Celestia has been using to protect themselves, but based on the layout of this board time is running out for them and the Fatui would have to make a grievous error for the gods to take back control of the game.
Mind you, we don’t know for sure that this chessboard represents the current state of affairs in Teyvat or if this is just one of many scenarios envisioned by Pierro for how the war could proceed, but the fallen black pawn certainly seems to stands in for La Signora, which means the white knight that took it off the board presumably represents Raiden Shogun, the Electro Archon whose Gnosis is still in the hands of the rogue Harbinger, Scaramouche. Pierro, however, is playing as white (I assume he’s gauging what his enemy will do next), and white is losing badly – at least according to people more knowledgeable about chess than me. I’m starting to regret having never finished The Queen’s Gambit…
Speaking of queens, which piece on this board represents the Cryo Archon, and why doesn’t Pierro have her Gnosis in his possession? That’s very interesting to me. The Cryo Archon’s Gnosis should be the easiest for Pierro to obtain, but if he doesn’t have it does that mean she’s still somewhat distrustful of him even now? And who here represents the Traveler, and their twin sibling? If Celestia is white, what happened to both of their bishops, their other knight, and their other rook – or is Pierro leaving those pieces off the board because he hasn’t obtained the equivalent Gnoses yet? Is Pierro himself the black king, black queen, or neither? Are we overanalyzing all of this?
Anyway…I mentioned that La Signora is the fallen black pawn in this scenario, and that’s largely because a red moth symbolizing her lands on the pawn. Later, near the very end of the teaser, it alights on the stone lid of her coffin and bursts into flame. Because this is Genshin Impact we’re talking about here, we can’t be 100% certain that La Signora is dead. I mean, she’s definitely dead, but if a little bit of her consciousness was able to stay alive in a moth long enough to fly all the way from Inazuma to Snezhnaya, there’s no saying that other moths carrying fragments of her being couldn’t have escaped to various far-flung corners of Teyvat, where they’re just waiting for us to piece them back together and reconstruct Rosalyne.
But for the moment, she’s dead – and for her sake, I hope that her little moth fragments can’t hear what her so-called comrades are saying about her over her literal dead body, because it’s appalling. The only Harbinger in mourning is Columbina, the Damselette, a young woman with what looks like a biblically-accurate angel strapped to the back of her head. Columbina (or Colombina, which translates to “little dove” in Italian) is arguably the most prominent of the female characters in the Commedia dell’arte due to the frequency with which she appears and her close relationships with other characters – she is Pierro’s adulterous wife, Arlecchino’s flighty lover or best friend, the Innamorata’s gossipy confidante and the object of Pantalone’s desires. It makes sense that her Fatui counterpart would be the only character close enough to La Signora while she was alive to even shed a tear for her now that she’s dead.
By contrast, the Harbinger Pulcinella declares loudly that he thinks half a day is all the time needed for Snezhnaya’s citizens to mourn La Signora before getting back to work, with a callousness in his voice that surprises even Pantalone and Arlecchino, who are both equally appalling in their own ways. But if you know anything about the Pulcinella of the Commedia dell’arte, you probably know this much: that he cares about no one but himself. He takes no course of action that is not guaranteed to benefit him, and even when he misjudges a situation or is deceived and led into a trap by his enemies, he still somehow manages to come out on top in the end because he is extraordinarily lucky. The Fatui’s Pulcinella is referred to as “Mayor”, and I have no doubt that he weaseled his way into a position of power by the same means his Commedia counterpart would employ – bribery and deceit.
Before we move on, I want to take a moment to appreciate Pulcinella’s nose. Genshin Impact‘s characters are typically designed in such a way that their noses are almost invisible, but Pulcinella’s not only dominates his face, it dominates the entire space directly in front of him – it’s extremely long and pointy, extending far out beyond his bushy white mustache. We can safely assume this is a reference to the rooster, the bird from which Pulcinella’s name is supposedly derived, and to the long-nosed mask worn by Pulcinella in the Commedia. It hasn’t made him very popular with the Genshin Impact community, sadly, but if there’s any justice in this world, Pulcinella will one day be a terrific five-star unit – just you wait.
If Pulcinella is remarkably alike to his Commedia counterpart, however, than Pantalone is surely the furthest removed. Gone is the skinny old man dressed in tight, brightly-colored trousers and a comically large codpiece, his face hidden behind a half-mask with exaggerated wrinkles – in his place now stands a tall, broad-shouldered, bespectacled man of indeterminate age sporting a tumbling mane of luxurious raven hair and a permanent smirk. It’s only when he opens his mouth that he betrays his true identity, because just like the Pantalone of the Commedia dell’arte, this Harbinger can’t string together a sentence without slipping in a boast about his wealth.
There’s still a difference in their delivery, because whereas Commedia Pantalone is deeply insecure about himself and therefore boasts loudly to ensure his listeners know he’s still richer than they’ll ever be, Genshin Impact‘s Pantalone seems to be content, and thus his boasts are so subtle they might fly over a listener’s head entirely, only to circle back around later like one of those insults that our brains don’t register as insults at first. In short, he’s everything that Commedia Pantalone desperately wishes he were, but could never be.
I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll meet Pantalone in-person shortly before Version 4.0, probably as part of an Event Quest involving Yelan or in a second chapter of Yelan’s Story Quest, Umbrabilis Orchis. The two characters have already been established as archenemies, with Yelan’s character profile revealing that the Harbinger once stole an heirloom belonging to her family – so as payback she snuck into a Fatui camp, stole a priceless fur-coat that Pantalone had intended to present to the Cryo Archon as a gift, tailored it to fit her, and now wears it around all the time. I also firmly believe that every Harbinger has a nemesis amongst the cast of playable characters who will one day either face them in battle or convince them to turn their back on the Fatui.
And on that note, let’s move on to Arlecchino – because in my research for this post, I came across this theory by Reddit user u/catcul7 linking the Fatui Harbinger to the character of Eula, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. I’d call it a coincidence that the two women look remarkably similar if not for the fact that Eula’s family, the Lawrence Clan of Mondstadt, is known to have ties to the Fatui and at one point was even plotting to overthrow the Acting Grand Master of the Knights of Favonius with their help. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since we last had the chance to sit down with Eula and chat about her family, so here’s hoping she pops up randomly in an Event Quest sometime soon.
Arlecchino in the Commedia is a little bit of everything rolled into one character and stuffed in a checkered costume. He can be the trickster, the fool, the romantic lead, the master of physical comedy – and he can be all of these things separately, or simultaneously, depending on what will hold the audience’s interest at any given moment. The person playing Arlecchino needed to be able to quickly determine what that might be, and to improvise accordingly – sometimes even requiring the entire play to change course and follow after him. He is an agent of chaos, and there’s really no telling what he’ll do because even he doesn’t always know for sure.
That said, there’s only so many different routes you can take a character after two centuries of Commedia dell’arte performances, and certain patterns in Arlecchino’s behavior began to emerge – he was frequently the rival of Pierro, and the lover of Columbina (among countless other women, but Columbina was always his one true love). With Genshin Impact deliberately casting a woman in the role of Arlecchino, they’re teasing the kind of queer representation that fans have pleaded for in the past and never received, and there’s nothing to suggest this will be any different. Arlecchino and Columbina will have flirty voice-lines about one another, they’ll talk about each other in their birthday messages to us, their character arcs will intertwine and they’ll be inseparable in every event where they’re together…and their relationship will linger in that state of nearly-but-not-quite canon forever.
Next up, we have Tartaglia – but players will have already met him during the Liyue Archon Quest and might even have him in their party already, so I’ll just run through the basics real quick before moving along. Tartaglia is a fairly minor character in the Commedia dell’arte, just as he is the weakest of the Fatui Harbingers in Genshin Impact, and both are subjected to constant ridicule. The similarities end there. Tartaglia in the Commedia is typically a civil servant who stumbles through long speeches and “often will find himself stuck on the most obscene syllable in any given word”. Tartaglia the Harbinger is a friend and ally of the Traveler, but nonetheless remains devoted to the Cryo Archon and is currently hunting Scaramouche with the intention of recovering the Electro Gnosis in her name.
His attempts to capture Scaramouche have proved unsuccessful, and the other Harbingers need no further excuse to pile on the insults, with Sandrone remarking that he is “utterly risible”. Sandrone, typically depicted as a peasant from the Italian city of Modena with wooden puppets for a wife and son, has been reinvented as a small girl who uses Khaenri’ahn Ruin Machines as her playthings and servants, earning her the title of “Marionette” from her fellow Harbingers. Now, we know for a fact that Tartaglia is the youngest of the Harbingers, so despite her childish appearance, Sandrone must be older than him – and there’s a strong chance that even this child we think is Sandrone being carried around in the massive hand of a Ruin Machine (dressed rather handsomely, I must admit, in a top hat and ruffled collar) is actually a puppet speaking with the real Sandrone’s voice.
Who knows, maybe the real Sandrone is one of those Russian nesting dolls – maybe we’ll never find her, we’ll just keep finding dolls inside of dolls inside of dolls inside of yet more dolls, until our minds fracture and reality crumbles around us and we begin to question whether there ever was a Sandrone to begin with, or whether this is all an elaborate prank. I’m just throwing out ideas here, but it could be cool in a trippy, existential-crisis inducing kind of way.
Then we have Il Capitano, the great military strategist responsible for leading the Fatui to their recent victories in…uh, somewhere we obviously haven’t been yet! The Harbinger talks a big talk for someone we’ve never once seen at the frontlines during any of our frequent battles or skirmishes with the Fatui – trust me, I would remember a seven-foot tall man with no visible face behind an iron mask. And what’s up with that, anyway? Is he hiding his face, or the fact that he’s not even in the suit of armor? That would track with what we know about Il Capitano from the Commedia dell’arte, which is that he’s almost always depicted as a coward who pretends to be a decorated war veteran in the hope that women will find him more attractive.
It’s still very early in the game, but I suspect that Capitano will play a significant role in Natlan (so probably around Version 5.0 and onwards), when we meet the Pyro Archon who has modeled her nation around the ideal of War. And until Capitano’s true identity is actually revealed, I’m gonna cling to my headcanon that he’s somehow associated with Natlan because I need Genshin Impact to finally acknowledge that Natlan actually exists. We’re two years into this game and we haven’t even met any NPCs from Natlan. I worry that there’s a correlation between that and the fact that we know of exactly one playable character from Natlan, who happens to be darker-skinned than the majority of the cast…but I’m also steeling myself for the inevitable reveal that the rest of Natlan’s playable characters are either light-skinned or white.
That was a bit of a tangent, but maybe not given that our next character is Il Dottore, and he’s the Harbinger we’re almost sure to meet in Sumeru when Version 3.0 releases just about a month from now. If I ignore everything about Sumeru that infuriates me to no end, like the white playable characters dressed in orientalist parodies of Southwest Asian clothing, I could maybe get excited for those interactions because Il Dottore is a character we’ve been waiting a long time to see (he first appeared in the Genshin Impact manga, albeit in a very different form), and he’s blessed with a phenomenal English voice actor (whose identity has not yet been revealed, as of this writing).
In the Commedia dell’arte, Dottore is a doctor – usually a very bad one, whose methods range from humorous to horrific. But because he went to university (or at least, so he claims), he regards himself as the foremost authority on every subject and often spouts utter nonsense to make himself sound smart. He is the rival of Pantalone, and in stories that revolve around the Lovers these two are usually the fathers of the male and female love interest, respectively. In Genshin Impact, Dottore studied at the prestigious Sumeru Academiya to become a doctor, but only avoided being expelled because he became very good at hiding the evidence of his abhorrent experiments on unwilling human test subjects. Yikes.
Based on an exchange between Columbina and Dottore later in the teaser, where the Damselette asks after one of the Doctor’s other “Segments”, specifically “the Segment in the prime of his life”, it sounds like the Doctor was able to successfully clone his younger self for posterity’s sake. Whichever Segment is actually present at La Signora’s funeral is presumably the most senior of them all, but he clearly has a great deal of faith in his younger self, because as he says to Columbina, he’s assigned him a task; some vague “experiment in blasphemy” that involves a burning tree somewhere. I’m guessing it’s somewhere in Sumeru, because from there we immediately cut to Collei, one of the new playable characters from Sumeru, waking up in a fright after a terrible dream.
Collei, another character introduced in the manga, was one of ll Dottore’s test subjects who narrowly escaped from his laboratory after being pumped full of Archon Residue to see if her body could contain the raw powers of a god. I don’t know whether everything that happened in the manga is still canon (Dottore, for instance, now wears the distinctive one-third mask of his Commedia counterpart, and his hair is longer, wavier, and a slightly paler shade of green than it once was), but I doubt there have been too many changes on that front. Collei is obviously the prime candidate for the role of Dottore’s archenemy, but there’s a strong case to be made for Dottore himself being his own archenemy.
In other words, at least one of Dottore’s younger Segments has probably had a lot of time to think things over and maybe they’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t actually want to be the person they know for a fact they’ll become if they continue down the path they took the first time around. I’m not saying this will definitely happen, but if Dottore is going to be a playable character someday (and he’s rumored to be, as are most of the Harbingers), I just hope people know that his playable version is probably not going to be the one whose hobbies include murdering children. The playable version of Dottore might have contemplated murdering children, but I highly doubt he’ll have gone ahead with it.
The first of the Fatui Harbingers is also the last to step out of the shadows and into the light – but Pierro seems oblivious to the theatricality of his own delayed entrance, and commands his minions to stop playing their parts so he can deliver a booming monologue about seizing authority from the gods and burning away the old world. That’s the thing about Pierro; he’s never in on the joke. In the Commedia, he’s most frequently depicted as a naïve and gentle-natured clown who is hopelessly with Columbina, although she will never notice him. When he tries to help his friends, they dismiss his advice and ignore his warnings. When he tries to take matters into his own hands, accidents ensue and he is shamed and laughed at by his castmates and the audience.
So for this man – whoever he may truly be – to go around calling himself Pierro and embracing the identity of the Jester (although not the outfit), well, that takes either remarkable courage or an equally remarkable lack of self-awareness on his part, and I have a feeling we won’t know which it is until we finally confront the guy…which probably won’t be for several years, but in the meantime I guess we can speculate about what he’s hiding behind that antlered mask that only covers the right half of his face. It’s a variation on the eyepatches that Kaeya and Dainsleif wear over their right eyes, which is notable because all three of these characters are originally from Khaenri’ah and we have reason to believe that their right eyes either contain esoteric secrets or somehow are esoteric secrets in and of themselves.
It’s complicated. But basically, eyes are a big part of Genshin Impact‘s lore, and it’s very rarely a coincidence when two or more characters have similar eyes. There are already theories floating around that Pierro is Kaeya’s father, or Dainsleif’s father, or both their fathers, or perhaps their grandfather, and honestly…all of those sound plausible. It would be one thing if their left eyes weren’t all identical, but they all share ice-blue eyes with diamond-shaped pupils, and I refuse to believe that’s not intentional. The only problem is that even if it is, we still don’t know what it means or why it’s significant (Genshin lore is like that, though).
But now that we’ve made it through all eleven Harbingers (excluding La Signora and Scaramouche, because one’s dead and the other one wasn’t in the teaser so there’s nothing new to say about him), it’s time for you to tell me which of the newly revealed Harbingers is your personal favorite, and when you expect to see them in-person. Feel free to share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!