Zeratul is one of the central characters in the StarCraft series. At six hundred and thirty-four years old (born in 1865) and holding the rank of prelate, Zeratul is a member of the Nerazim, better known as the dark templar, whose forebearers were exiled from the protoss homeworld of Aiur over a thousand years ago for refusing to submit to the Khala. A renowned psionic warrior and assassin, he is described by GameSpot as a "savior" and "willing scapegoat" for his people and ranked in their top ten heroes chart. During the later episodes he takes part in defeating the on Aiur and reuniting the dark templar with the rest of their people. He plays a more prominent role in the expansion Brood War, and is one of the primary protagonists for the upcoming sequel StarCraft II. Zeratul was voiced by the deceased Jack Ritschel in StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War, and by Fred Tatasciore in the sequel StarCraft II.
The character of Zeratul was created by Blizzard Entertainment's Chris Metzen, with concept art produced by other Blizzard artists such as Samwise Didier. He is depicted as a shadowy warrior whose powers are well respected by the game's plot, and capable of assassinating powerful opponents, having personally slain several zerg cerebrates and even the second Overmind. Zeratul once noted that he has "journeyed through the darkness between the most distant stars" and "beheld the births of negative-suns and borne witness to the entropy of entire realities", demonstrating his wealth and depth of experience which dwarf that of most of the other characters of Starcraft.
Chris Metzen mentioned that Ritschel passed away sometime during the development of the game, and thus Fred Tatasciore has taken over as the new voice actor. Tatasciore described Zeratul as an incredible character, a "Darth Vader" who invests so much in the survival of things, and one of the best characters he has ever played. Gamespot described all the characters in Blizzard's StarCraft as "three-dimensional, full of personality and complexity", and then continued to comment: "Yet even among this star-studded cast, it is Zeratul who stands out as the most noble of heroes, although he is shrouded in a cloak of mystery and aloofness".
A somewhat secretive and calculating character, Zeratul is nevertheless a venerable and wise leader who is honorable and loyal to his species. He would gladly risk anything to safeguard Aiur. During the Great War, Zeratul allied with the Khalai Tassadar, despite his hatred for the Protoss Conclave that once banished his forebearers. During the dire events leading up to the evacuation of Aiur, He also convinced the Khalai Protoss that his brethren, the dark templar, would be more welcoming of sheltering their estranged brethren in their lightless homeworld Shakuras in contrast to the consistently hostile attitudes of the Conclave towards his people. He knows that though he is scorned by the very same people who look to him for salvation, he is aware of what must be done to save the universe, and must still lead his people to salvation. He is also depicted as patient, tolerant and far-sighted: when Zeratul first met Tassadar, he refused to take offense even though he was attacked by the wary Protoss commander, even attempting to teach Tassadar the art of combat (while avoiding being struck). Eventually Zeratul overcame Tassadar's prejudice, beginning to heal the rifts between the Khalai and the Dark Templar. The two leaders (and Jim Raynor) came to an understanding, joined forces and hid from the Zerg.
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