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View Full Version : Diablo 2: Doing What ToB Did 6 Years Earlier



jmbrown
2009-12-11, 10:05 PM
The year is 2000. Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 was just released. Also released is the hotly-anticipated-mega-hit Diablo 2. Wizards is excited because, as luck would have it, they licensed to do a conversion of Diablo 2 to their new rules!

http://i46.tinypic.com/14o6mpw.jpg

Unfortunately nobody bought it which is an absolute sham because Diablo 2: Diablerie is a combat heavy source book with incredible ideas that didn't see the light of day until 6 years later when Tome of Battle was released. Tonight was the first time I've dusted off my copy since 3.5 was released and I can't help but smack myself at some of the better features and ideas that homebrewers could certainly take inspiration from.

Character Classes
All the classes from Diablo 2 are included; amazon, barbarian, paladin, necromancer, and sorceress. The first thing one notices is the increase in martial prowess. Each class has good BAB save the necromancer (average) and sorceress (poor). The minimum hit dice is d6 shared by the necromancer and sorceress.

The defining aspect of the game system are magic abilities reflecting the powers you got in the PC game. Magic abilities were either passive or could be used once/day unless you succeeded on an ability check and the power subsisted. Amazons, for example, could choose "critical strike" giving them the improved critical feat or "fire arrow" allowing her to imbue arrows with +1d6 fire damage. This system was modified into the maneuvers and stances appearing in ToB.

The necromancer and sorceress cast spells like a sorcerer with a specific spell per day and spells known.

Items
Diablerie introduces the concept of mana potions to the system. These potions bestow lost spell slots, including magic abilities, based on their power. A mana potion restores 4 levels giving you an extra casting of 1 4th level spells, 4 level 1 spells, etc. Combined with health potions which were essentially double the effectiveness of 3E's RAW potions, adventurers were encouraged to remain in the thick of fight vice the 15-minute work day.

The weapon and armor durability system was copied over as well. Dealing more damage than the weapon's hardness rating caused the excess points (divided by 2) reduced its durability (armor durability was reduced by taking excessive damage). Low durability gradually decreased weapon damage and armor AC. This could be repaired instantly for a price or using Craft (Repair) adding an important use to an otherwise worthless skill.

Something that surprisingly never carried over was the importance of armor as a whole. As we're used to in 3E, only certain armors are noteworthy; a chainshirt is almost always preferred for a lightly armored fighter than studded leather, breastplate for medium, and full plate for heavy. Diablerie includes armor for your body, head, hands, feet, and belts each adding to your AC but also adding to encumbrance. Simple things that are ignored in 3E like capes and boots imply bonuses for classes that wouldn't normally benefit from armor.

Magic Items
By far the best section of Diablerie is the concept of magic item creation. Unlike 3E where weapons have an enchantment and specific properties, Diablerie encourages randomized creation with multiply properties and even curses. In addition, it introduces the gamble "grab bag" option from the PC game where you can purchase a random item with the chance of it being several levels above you. Purchasing items is also restricted by average party level * 10 thus encouraging adventuring as opposed to playing the economic game.

To give an example of item creation, my character just defeated a CR 1 creature and I've decided he drops a magic item. I would roll on the Base Item Creation table 1d100 (I rolled up a weapon) followed by the type of item 1d20+ CR (for this example I rolled a 20 + 1 giving me a claymore). I roll 1d100 for a prefix then 1d20 + 1 (5, glowing) then 1d100 for a suffix followed by 1d20 + CR (I got "of thorns).

The resulting item is Glowing Claymore of Thorns; it's a two handed sword that deals 1d10 points of damage, x2 crit, glows like a torch for 30', and any melee attack against me while wielding the sword deals 1d4 damage to the attacker (7650gp item).

Items have various other powers. Some are cursed to reduce your strength, some reduce damage, some increase damage, some give you ranks in skills... there's literally thousands of combinations for magic equipment and it's infinitely more fun finding equipment than in 3E. Because of the randomness, it's not possible to truly "optimize" yourself reducing players who start out buying the same old mithril-chainmail-ring-of-deflection-amulet-of-natural-armor cheapo combos.

Of course, all of this only really works within the confines of the Diablerie game setting. A wizard with mana potions is an even greater force to reckon with. Regardless, character abilities, equipment being capable of outclassing magic, and the combat heavy mechanics make for a far better system when handling combat heavy dungeon crawling than 3E's RAW.

It's a shame such a great system was rushed to press then cast aside because playing a Diablo 2 themed game was great fun. If you want to play in the world of Sanctuary you should check out Diablo 2: To Hell and Back, a full 200 page campaign setting including adventures based on all four acts of the original game.

http://i46.tinypic.com/14o6mpw.jpg

Both systems are relatively cheap ($10 average for each book) and highly recommended for collectors and those looking to try something new.

Tequila Sunrise
2009-12-11, 10:17 PM
Coincidentally, I just played through act four in nightmare and was thinking that if I ever ran 3e again, I'd do it off-the-wall Diablo style. Ya know, almost no dungeon/encounter planning, just crack open one of the MMs (especially FF) every time the PCs enter a new room and run the first vaguely CR-appropriate monster I see. After each fight I'd let the players roll for random treasure that the monsters were carrying but inexplicably didn't use. I just joined a fun new group, and it'd be interesting to see how they took the campaign.

Diablo seems to just fit 3e so well, with all its broken monsters, classes and items. (Heck that goes for 2e too, though it wasn't as customizable after 1st level.)

Johanas
2009-12-11, 10:23 PM
I actually just played through Diablo 2 for the first time in years, just a few weeks back. My players have been getting a few subtle references, and there is an upcoming devil fight, which they have to free to kill. By releasing 5 seals. Just like you do with Diablo. It'll be fun.

jmbrown
2009-12-11, 10:42 PM
Coincidentally, I just played through act four in nightmare and was thinking that if I ever ran 3e again, I'd do it off-the-wall Diablo style. Ya know, almost no dungeon/encounter planning, just crack open one of the MMs (especially FF) every time the PCs enter a new room and run the first vaguely CR-appropriate monster I see. After each fight I'd let the players roll for random treasure that the monsters were carrying but inexplicably didn't use. I just joined a fun new group, and it'd be interesting to see how they took the campaign.

Diablo seems to just fit 3e so well, with all its broken monsters, classes and items. (Heck that goes for 2e too, though it wasn't as customizable after 1st level.)

Hard and Nightmore mode are actually options in Diablerie; they basically advance monsters by 3hd for hard and 6hd for nightmare.

There was also a Dungeons and Dragons Adventures Box Set released for 3E. Anyone remember D&D Adventures? It was a starter box with a simple and boring adventure, some cheap maps, and precreated characters. The Diablo 2 version included actual tiles that you could mix and match and creature/item tokens to create random dungeons.

It was a really neat system and something I wanted to see expansions for. Unfortunately it's pretty rare now so you're looking at $30-70 depending on the quality.

Starbuck_II
2009-12-11, 11:03 PM
The resulting item is Glowing Claymore of Thorns; it's a two handed sword that deals 1d10 points of damage, x2 crit, glows like a torch for 30', and any melee attack against me while wielding the sword deals 1d4 damage to the attacker (7650gp item).


In 3.5, 30% magic weapon do that glowing thing for free.


Fully 30% of magic weapons shed light equivalent to a light spell (bright light in a 20-foot radius, shadowy light in a 40-foot radius). These glowing weapons are quite obviously magical. Such a weapon canít be concealed when drawn, nor can its light be shut off. Some of the specific weapons detailed below always or never glow, as defined in their descriptions.

jmbrown
2009-12-11, 11:09 PM
In 3.5, 30% magic weapon do that glowing thing for free.

And I had a less than a 1% chance to generate a glowing effect. Had I rolled a point higher I would have been invisible to creatures more than 10' from me. Or, I could have received 2 points less damage from an attack. Or I could have gained a +1 to all summoned skeletons if I were a necromancer.

Basically I have hundreds more options available to creating unique items, something 3E lacks. Anyone can enchant a boring old +2 sword but there needs to be more unique items instead of finding Holy Avenger in every chest or a breatplate of command. I could probably homebrew a system like this for 4E since magic items have clearer effects.