💯 {Staff Pick} [Let's Read] Diablo II: Diablerie

Max

A dapper chap without a doubt
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The chitter of countless insect strikes a strange symphony with the croaks of toads and lizards. Small snakes and lizards cross your path ahead. Nameless green birds cast shadows as they fly above. Of course, the short baskets, chests, and stone stashes offer more interesting opportunities for treasure and reward.
Implying that the wildlife are less interesting opportunities for treasure and reward. Let's shoot a bird and see what it drops!

Hah! Of course not. It’s just the same featureless wilderness rooms, with perfectly impassible streams that you cannot jump over or swim through.
Shenanigans! One of the reasons I loved playing a Barbarian was specifically being able to just jump over any rivers and ravines and gulfs of arcane void and whatnot! Shenanigans!
 

FrivYeti

Yeti On The Lam!
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Shenanigans! One of the reasons I loved playing a Barbarian was specifically being able to just jump over any rivers and ravines and gulfs of arcane void and whatnot! Shenanigans!
To be fair, the game doesn't actually say that it's all impassible. It just uses rivers to divide areas and doesn't give them widths or depths or DCs to interact with.
 

Poisson Resistance

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Implying that the wildlife are less interesting opportunities for treasure and reward. Let's shoot a bird and see what it drops!


Shenanigans! One of the reasons I loved playing a Barbarian was specifically being able to just jump over any rivers and ravines and gulfs of arcane void and whatnot! Shenanigans!
And it was easier if there was an enemy to pounce on. Leap Attack's range was "very yes".
 

FrivYeti

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And speaking of shenanigans...

Act IV, Part IV: If I Only Had A Brain

Well, we have a goopy eye in our pocket, so it’s time to go find the next part of this deranged fetch quest - Khalim’s Brain. Along the way, we have time for a second side quest, because we’re not on any kind of clock or timer until the world ends.

To do this, we have to start by going through the Great Marsh. No new enemies here. I don't remember this many Warped or rogues in Act III. Am I misremembering?

There are five Fixed Encounters here, three of which are just waypoints and exits. The only two of interest are an ambush by a literal dozen Drowned Carcasses, and an ambush by a concealed River Stalker. Drowned Carcasses are CR 6, so that's a CR 13 encounter. River Stalkers are not a thing. They don't exist. There is a River Watcher, which is a CR 20 monster. In the video game, River Stalkers are a type of Tentacle Beast, alongside the Water Watcher. So... I guess there's one CR-appropriate creature in this region.

Huh.

Anyway, the Marsh leads us to the Flayer Jungle, and our newest friend, racism!

The Flayer Jungle said:
A flimsy wooden bridge marks the passage into the Flayer Jungle. The surroundings look, smell, and sound much the same however, but you're anything but comfortable in this deadly area. The sound of hooting monkeys or maybe something worse - signals danger ahead.
Okay, so first off, the grammar in this passage is atrocious. There’s a missing hyphen, a “however, but” with no references, and of course the sounds are the same aside from the new terrible sounds.

Secondly, what way could you find to make the fetishes a more racist caricature? Refer to their cries as “the sounds of hooting monkeys or maybe something worse”. Congratulations, book! You took the most racist monster in Diablo II and made it worse.

The Flayer Jungle adds River Stalkers to its list of random encounters, so the CR range here is now from 2 to 20. (Well, to be fair, it’s from 2 to 6 plus a single CR 20 monster in a few spots.) By way of fixed encounters, it includes the Swampy Pit (which has three encounter charts, all just labelled “Pit”), the Flayer Dungeon, and… *sigh* the Pygmy Village. This is where the PCs can go for a ludicrous, painful, endless battle against racist stereotypes - a bunch of short jungle cannibals that serve Mephisto.

The Village has the usual fixed encounter problems - it only takes up the normal 40 feet by 40 feet on the map, but it has its own map that is 170 feet by 110 feet. It has a stewpot, some huts, a crude altar, and some stairs down that are not referenced anywhere in its description and presumably go nowhere.

The Village also has twenty-nine monsters, all of whom can spot the PCs as they enter and take action every turn. Combined, they are a CR 17 encounter, which also is an absolute nightmare to adjudicate. Fortunately, and without spoiling too much, the stats for fetishes are complete garbage, so each one only attacks once per round for 1d2 damage, has no special abilities, and can be killed in one hit by a fireball. I’m… not entirely clear on why they’re CR 6 and 7. We will discuss this mistake in the monsters section.

Inside the village is the Gidbinn Blade, which helps fix the Docks’ defensive aura and lets you hire those absolutely terrible mercs.

The other locations in the jungle are the Swampy Pit and the Flayer Dungeon. The Pit has nothing required, although there is a suggestion to hide the Blade here to make the PCs trek down three levels. It’s just another side quest you’re supposed to be too busy to do. What it does have are randomly-generated unique monsters on each of its three levels, and a special treasure chest on the bottom level with three random magic items in it, guarded by a CR 1 set of monsters.



Finally, there’s the Flayer Dungeon. This is another three-level dungeon, with normal random encounters and a unique monster on each level. I notice that the Act III writer really likes placing unique monsters, which the previous Act writers almost never did. The Dungeon's random monsters are the usual set of CR 2-6 people plus one or two chances at Watchers and River Stalkers. Watchers are a category, not a monster, but probably refers to Water Watchers, a CR 17 monster.

There are five different fixed encounters that matter. The first involves two Water Watchers and a dozen Flayers, a fun CR 19 encounter that ambushes the players from water. The second is a trap that is hilariously easy to spot, and hilariously painful if you fail (Fortitude DC 15 or take 2d4 Constitution damage each.) The third is a dozen CR 6 monsters with three shamans.

The fourth fixed encounter is an ambush by five Water Watchers. That is, it is a CR 22 encounter that involves five monsters, each of which attacks twelve times per round for 1d8+12 or 2d8+12 and throws poison spit that deals 1 permanent and 4d6 temporary Constitution damage on a hit (Fortitude halves.) Their text is a little unclear on whether the temporary damage is at the same time, or qualifies as secondary damage and hits a minute later. Also they have a massive Hide bonus underwater and are explicitly hiding at the start of combat, and have 200 HP each, and have Reach 20. Also their grappling would be ludicrous, although they don’t have grapple stats listed.

If the players survive that, the last fixed encounter is another trap which is only DC 20 to spot, but deals another 2d4 Constitution damage to everyone who triggers it.

I’m noticing a very slight difficulty uptick from the previous section. Is it just me?

Finally, a literal human brain is just lying in a corridor, not even in a chest, surrounded by five fetish shamans, plus a CR 9 Witch Doctor standing on an actual tower of minions that he and his buddies can resurrect. The game suggests that this should be a tough encounters, but a single Meteor will kill all of them in one hit if you roll decently, and they only do 5d6 damage per attack, so it’s nothing compared to those watchers up above.

Picking up the brain means we can finally leave this nonsense dungeon, and get on with our lives. Hopefully, the next section won’t have as much racism.

Next Time: Heartless
 

Max

A dapper chap without a doubt
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Finally, a literal human brain is just lying in a corridor, not even in a chest, surrounded by five fetish shamans, plus a CR 9 Witch Doctor standing on an actual tower of minions that he and his buddies can resurrect. The game suggests that this should be a tough encounters, but a single Meteor will kill all of them in one hit if you roll decently, and they only do 5d6 damage per attack, so it’s nothing compared to those watchers up above.
I would suggest that an area attack would also fry Khalim's Cabbage, but I doubt the writer thought of such frivolities...
 

Darthavyn

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And speaking of shenanigans...


The fourth fixed encounter is an ambush by five Water Watchers. That is, it is a CR 22 encounter that involves five monsters, each of which attacks twelve times per round for 1d8+12 or 2d8+12 and throws poison spit that deals 1 permanent and 4d6 temporary Constitution damage on a hit (Fortitude halves.) Their text is a little unclear on whether the temporary damage is at the same time, or qualifies as secondary damage and hits a minute later. Also they have a massive Hide bonus underwater and are explicitly hiding at the start of combat, and have 200 HP each, and have Reach 20. Also their grappling would be ludicrous, although they don’t have grapple stats listed.

Next Time: Heartless
So, 60 possible attacks per round:eek: I'll need more d20s.

That is an average of 990 damage. On the other hand, 105 damage + lose 5 permanent CON + 70 temporary CON (or 35 if all saves made). It sucks to be point person on this encounter. A lot is riding on your AC and poison immunity for this one.
 
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