SMITE: Demigods, Deities and Gods Explained is a column dedicated to introducing prospective players of SMITE to its massive back story of lore. From the Greek to Hindu, each week we’ll look at two characters from a major pantheon and provide a quick recap of their history and in what capacity their digital incarnation will represent on the field of Hi-Rez Studios’ upcoming MOBA.
Lore: Ne Zha, or Nezha as his name is most commonly spelled, originally came to Chinese folklore as a Taoist protection deity in Buddhist mythology. The boy was born as such after gestating in his mother for three and a half years. Upon his unusual birth his father, a powerful military commander named Li Jing, assailed his son with his sword in fear of creating a demon. Unphased by the cut, Ne Zha sprang from the ball of flesh a boy grown, fully capable of talking and walking at birth. This would not be Li Jing’s last attempt on his son’s life.
Ne Zha is best known for his roles in the popular culture Chinese mythology of Investiture of the Gods and Journey to the West. It’s not his competition and later friendship with Sun Wukong, or conquering of the sea that gave Ne Zha his identity as a protector. It’s his work against the summons of Ao Kuang for boys and girls of his home province, Chentang Pass, that the Third Lotus Prince is held in such high esteem. After hearing that his minions had been defeated, Ao Kuang arranged a meeting with his family and that of Ne Zha. The embarrassed Dragon King threatened to flood the entirety of Chentang Pass. To save his family name and the people of his hometown Ne Zha committed suicide, returning his body to his parents.
His death only venerated Ne Zha in the eyes of many, including his teacher Taiyi Zhenren. Steeled by his student’s steadfast dedication, Taiyi resurrected his pupil and bestowed him with Wind Fire Wheels and a Fire-tipped spear. Complete with his Red Armillary Sash and Universe Ring, the Third Lotus Prince became an unstoppable deity, defeating the Dragon Kings and harrying his father to the point of (unsuccessful) suicide.
In-Game: Ne Zha is not your typical protection character in SMITE. Instead, Hi-Rez Studios developed the youthful character as showcasing his defense by being capable of dispatching opponents before they’re capable of bringing allies to harm. A melee physical assassin character with gobs of personal utility, players should focus on increasing Physical Power to make all but one of his abilities more deadly.
Most of the time, players will want to optimize a character’s passive. Considering Ne Zha’s only matters on death, it’s entirely dependant on one’s playstyle and selected game mode to determine its utility. The debilitating debuffs and personal buffs make one-on-one or clean-up Ne Zha’s specialty. For most players, maximizing burst damage, including critical strikes, will be of the utmost importance. To do this, grab items like Deathbringer or Rage, debuffers like The Executioner and, naturally, Warrior Tabi.
As for Ne Zha’s ultimate, we’ve a little more on that topic in this opinion piece.
Ne Zha on Wikipedia
Chinese Mythology on Wikipedia
Journey to the West (PDF)
Investiture of the Gods (WikiSource guide)
Head over to SMITE: Demigods, Deities and Gods Explained for details on all of the playable characters.
HI-Rez is going for the most masculine character 2013.