Every now and then I catch a story that reminds me of why I play hardcore. Stories of death, stories of near death, stories of hardcore triumphs, all of which show what makes this mode so amazing. That’s what drew me to the story Galx had on the Diablo 3 forums, her tale is one of both rise and fall, victory and defeat and it’s after the bump.deeds

    Prior to publishing this I got a chance to learn a bit about the person behind the avatar and it’s just as impressive as the story she has to tell:

    I’m a 54 year-old woman in the Chicago area who has been playing hardcore since the Diablo 2 days, where I had multiple level 99 characters in ladder seasons 2 and 3. I played D3 softcore for the first few months of release, but once hardcore gets in your blood, you just never really feel fulfilled by softcore play again.

    Galxx, my paragon 90 hardcore barbarian, was born back in mid-July of last year, during patch 1.03. (So far, I have played only barbarians seriously in D3.) I leveled him up myself to 60, taking it slow and steady, playing almost exclusively solo until paragon 35 or thereabouts. Now I play him 100% in coop games with voice chat, because he is worth too much in heart, time, and gear invested to risk him losing him to a DC unnecessarily. He has more than 1,000 hours of play time logged because I spend a lot of time helping friends with gear and power-leveling and such.

    The narrow escape I wrote about was easily the most exciting adventure my hero has ever had!

    I ran into every hardcore player’s worst nightmare: the frozen/desecrator/waller/something pack that is stalking the waypoint, just waiting for some unsuspecting heroes to come bounding in looking for glory and riches.

    Instead, the two fellows I was with met their deaths, and I very nearly met my own, due to a very poor decision on my part once things went very bad, very very quickly.

    We were on MP-4, in Act 3, farming keys. I was running with Zneith (on his barb) and PraetorX (on his DH) using a Mumble voice chat for communication.

    We had gotten 4 stacks in Skycrown, and so I think what happened was, when we ran past the Stonefort stairs, the pack of Frozen/Desecrator/Waller/whatever Fallen Firemages were right above and probably made their way down the stairs as we ran past. When we came back around and reentered the Stonefort portal again to find the Keywarden, I remember happily saying, “Oh good, there’s a pack right here, we can get our fifth stack now.”

    Then I realized how deadly this pack was but my fellows had already followed me out of the portal. I was frozen right away, but blocked by walls, so as soon as I could, I leapt over them and up onto the main area so I could actually reach the monsters and attack them. In the meantime, both my fellow party members entered in short succession and before I could even warn them, they were frozen, in desecrators, and that message none of ever want to see, “[Name] has been slain!” appeared for both Zneith and PraetorX. 🙁

    Seeing two of your friends die in hardcore in quick succession has got to be one of the most terrifying things that can happen to you outside of maybe suddenly red-screening, and it’s something I have never seen before. Ever. Not even back when I had level 99 hardcores in D2. Not to be critical of whoever said it in the voice-chat, because I don’t blame them one bit, and I know they meant 100% good by saying it, but it didn’t help at all when I heard a frantic voice proclaim, “Galx, you might want to get the hell out of there!”

    I completely panicked. I popped WOTB and then made the worst possible decision anybody in my position could possibly make: I ran deeper into the instance to get away from the deadly pack! This was a particularly poor decision in Stonefort, which has no exit at the other end! By the time my Wrath ran out, I had seen 3 packs, and had to assume they were all following me at that point.

    I leapt up that high wall where we check for the KW (where one person checks the high spot and one checks that low ramp pathway) and fortunately the first pack that killed my fellows seemed to have gotten left behind. The second pack also got outrun or lost compass on me when I made my leap, but the Rare Horde/Frozen/Desecrator/whatever fatties that were on that middle platform were wending their way up the stairs and around toward me while I’m frantically trying to kill off a mid-size group of trash on that dead-end platform up there so I could portal out.

    Well, I didn’t make it in time. 🙁 The fatties all squeezed in with 2 or 3 more stuffed into the walkway blocking my ability to leap back out, so pretty much all I could do was alternately rend, wait out the frozen, try to watch for a spot where there was no desecrator to move to when the frozen expired so I could move again, sometimes just making semi-random (and mostly inaccurate) leaps toward areas clear of desecrate (they put them down where players are standing, but they do take time to expire, so there were several active ones going at any given time.)

    I kept rending both for the heal, but also because I had had the foresight to equip my Echoing Fury beforehand, which very well may have saved my life by fearing these things frequently and interrupting their casts of frozens and desecrates. All this time, I’m waiting what seemed like FOREVER for my WOTB to come back off cooldown so I know I’d have a frozen-break if I did end up in a triple desecrator draining me badly. I honestly believe the only reason I wasn’t constantly chain-frozen like what happened with that first pack of ranged attackers that killed my fellows was the fear on my EF. Every rend some of these mobs got feared and interrupted.

    Anyway, eventually I started thinning their numbers and then the rare one went down and then the last two went down and then I realized I had actually survived this nightmare and I stood there in utter shock for a couple minutes, drenched in sweat and still shaking.

    And I didn’t even mention the shaking. Or the rescue attempt that nearly cost a paragon 98 monk (DiVerse) his character.

    The way the rescue came about was, at some point after I got to the dead end, I totally broke down physically in real life. I was shaking so badly I couldn’t even hold my mouse. I cannot handle adrenaline AT ALL. I HATE it!

    After seeing these two guys die, and running for my life (and having this guy say “Galx, you might want to get the hell out of there” was the absolute WORST thing anybody could have said to me, because in reality and hindsight, I wasn’t in any trouble at all with that first pack. I could have taken them down just fine in that wide open space there. We fight packs like that all the time. I simply panicked because of my lack of experience in high-stress situations.

    So here I am up on the platform in such bad shape physically I can barely hold my mouse enough to move out of desecrators because I’m shaking so badly from the adrenaline, and one of the guys that died says, “Should I get DiVerse to come help?”

    By then I could barely control my voice, either, but I managed to stammer out a “yes, please” or something, and I tell them, “tell him to flag on me, DON’T USE THE PORTAL, I need help where I am HERE” (although I’m not sure how intelligible any of that was) and next thing I know, he’s entering the game and I see his life draining in an instant. I thought he was dead, and then he has a little life again, and then he’s on voice swearing and saying he almost died, holy [f-word] and all the rest.

    Turns out he flagged on one of the dead guys and got instantly frozen, multiple desecrators, and his NDE procced. When he came back, he used Serenity and exited through the WP (both dead players were sitting very near to it.) He didn’t know to flag on me because he was in a different chat channel, and had entered the game without coming to our chat first to see what was going on. All he knew was that 2 people had died in this game to a bad pack, and that Galx was in deep trouble and needed help. So he came as fast as he could!

    I don’t know how most people define courage and friendship in this game, but it seems to me that any guy who is willing to risk a paragon 98 character to enter a game where two people have already died, to come in and try to rescue a third who is said to be in deep trouble, it seems to be that that would be it.

    And at the time he came, I was at the worst of my physical meltdown. But when I saw him almost die, I wouldn’t let him back him. I somehow found the calm in my voice (jr high school drama class acting lessons?) and said that I had things under control and that I would be alright (even as I was frozen and standing in another desecrator) because I didn’t want anybody else to die in this game. I could hear the skeptisicm in his voice as he asked “Are your SUUUURE?” because I’m sure he could see my life meter as clearly as I could, but I also know deep down that he wasn’t real eager to come back in this cursed game either. But he would have. I have ABSOLUTELY ZERO doubt of that.

    But I told him, “Yep, I’m sure, I’m getting a handle on things now, these guys are starting to go down” (which really meant their life was decreasing a little bit each rend, since there were now 4-players in the game instead of 3, lol.) But it was all good, I think DiVerse’s moral support helped as much as his character would have, and I wasn’t entirely sure his monk could handle that frozen/desecrate stuff safely after seeing him almost die that fast.

    Anyway, sorry for the long novel/wall of text. I hope it was at least interesting to read. It was definitely one of, if not THE most exciting adventure my Galxx has ever had in hardcore! Although, SERIOUSLY, I cannot handle adrenaline, and do not relate to how some people thrive on it. Different body chemistry, I guess. And by “exciting”, I do NOT mean “fun” or “enjoyable”.

    The biggest take-home for me from all of this is that Galxx, as a warrior, was never at any point below 80% health during any of this, despite being in very clear mortal peril. If I hadn’t dodged desecrators every time I could move, it might have been over very quickly while my WOTB was unavailable. However, Susan the human made a couple of horrible decisions last night, which would have been the real cause of the death, had it occurred. One more time, my Galxx lives today because I build him with very high EHP, which compensates a lot for my own personal errors (and things outside my control like lag/DCs.)

    What drew me to this story was how well it’s described. It’s more than just I almost died, I was scared. I can feel the peril, and see the struggle. Galx got out alive but who knows how we would have faired in a similar situation. What is your best near death story?

    One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!

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