Stillman’s Slab #17: Character Assassination


Why not end the beloved Diablo 2 character dissections with a bang?  She’s sneaky and mysterious, but should this week’s character really be keeping us in the dark all these years after beating the game? The opening paragraph below describes our first sighting of an Assassin; click through to read the rest. Even if she isn’t your cup of China tea, be sure to check out the biggest BONUS BOLUS ever! 

Character Assassination

The troubled yet determined pursuer of the wonderer wearily approaches a stealthy looking woman standing around in broad daylight. She basically has this to say: ?Well howdy. I’m Natalya, an Assassin.? The tired adventurer looks utterly vexed, like someone just stuck a vex rune in an orifice somewhere and didn’t get the expensive runeword he misspelled. He replies, ?So…are you going to kill me for this slip up, or are we duelin’, or is this a joke on the noob in town?? The dame, whose chest is mostly exposed I might add, responds warmly. ?Oh no, silly! I am a helping, friendly Assassin. You know, one of the good guys. I have some secret information for you, stranger, and for anyone else who comes through town. Let me tell you about my secret group, my secret mission, the secret target, and so forth.? The adventurer looks around to see if he’s getting punk’d, perhaps by the townsfolk who are within earshot of all this tasty dialogue. He says, ?Um? like someone just stuck and Um rune?oh never mind.

Well, the adventurer is actually me, and at this point, I press a chloroform soaked rag into her face while saying, ?You’re coming with me, Miss.? It’s going to be a long night at the slab extracting all the information I seek on Assassins, so put some tea on, folks. Like Natalya, the Assassin does everything out in the open and talks too much, but her real mysteries form a complex maze from the bowels of the Lord of Destruction (LoD) expansion set. Understanding the Assassin is like trying to find one’s way through, well, a Blizzard. The Assassin lures us into a trap where every aspect of her character leads to more questions, like where was Blizzard North when they were designing her?

We begin by looking at her appearance hoping to find some Star Trek gizmos that might explain all those electrical traps and land mines she has up her sleeve. I know the Asian stereotype goes something like: Asians + Technology = Asians, but let us check the diagram below to see all this other ?Asian influence? I keep hearing about.

 

Hmmm…you know, she is really not Asian-like at all. She is about as North American as Superman. Don’t believe me? Here’s the kicker:

 

In fact, her skin is as white as?Oh, just look at the picture below.

 

Well, there goes all my pictures. For questions, let’s make this quick?quick like an Assassin or a bunny; they’re both fast and friendly. Why not go with a Ninja or Bounty Hunter instead so she can assume that elusive bad guy and good guy role Blizzard likes so much? Why can’t Blizzard pick any characters that make sense wearing full plate? After killing Blood Raven, why does she say, ?what I kill stays dead? when, clearly, any carver shaman proves otherwise with a wave of his gnarled stick? Why does she hunch over as though ?sneaking? when everyone can see her? Why are her attacks so attention seeking like flash grenades? Why would she summon a meteor from outer space after kicking something when kicking requires her to be up close where the meteor hits? Why would Blizzard go from giant axes to merely kicking 600 pound ice cream demons?

Why is the speed on claw weapons changed to ?very slow? when viewed by other classes who cannot even use them? Why can the Barbarian use a scythe and a dagger, but not a hand scythe? Would Assassins really slaughter thousands of foes on the battlefield instead of targeting the higher ups? Why no stealth?  Why can she open locked chests without keys when the other classes have no such innate abilities? If Assassins only use magic devices and not magic spells directly, who among them makes these magic devices, and wouldn’t this require using magic spells? Isn’t there another expansion class who has claws? Why are there no male Assassins? Is she the type of female Assassin that works the streets and kills men in bed, and is that why we call her the sin? Why don’t I face reality and call her Trapper or Lightning Sentry claw coveter?

So many questions, and so few Assassin players to answer them all. I am sure there are answers to some of those, but should players feel forced to ask so many questions in the first place? Could a character make any less sense than the Assassin? She is shrouded in mystery, but it’s not exactly the good kind of mystery you see on Law and Order or a Peanuts cartoon. We all know Linus is still fondling a blanket and sucking his thumb because he has mother issues and is too small to fit into the hockey mask he is saving for his murderous rampage. We know Christopher Robin wears a skirt because it is just a phase he is going through on his way to becoming a transsexual vampire. The mystery is present, the questions persist, but we eventually figure it all out. But does anyone know why the Assassin wears all of Natalya’s stuff right in front of her?? If she puts an ad up saying single white female, Natalya better watch out!

 

The Assassin represents the bigger picture of LoD; too many unanswered questions and loose ends. For example, what is Tyrael talking about when he says the world will be vastly different after smashing the worldstone? Was he referring to 20 years of ensuing peace and a giant nuking of Mount Arreat which took out Baal’s army? And aren’t those kind of good things? If all you did was send the three Prime Evils back to the Abyss, isn’t that like sending them home with a free bus ticket? I guess we should just be happy that the Diablo 3 Monk is going to be fully explained and superior in every way.  Well, the Monk is more like a Paladin replacement than anything else…whatever; the Monk is superior, end of story. Most players can’t wait because, man, LoD is as funky and tough to figure out as the Assassin’s skill icons.

I know I’m having no luck at all figuring out this chesty goth girl. What’s worse, I got hit up with jury panel selection in real life. One of the potential jurors was a girl who looked like (you guessed it) the Amazon. Um, your honor, does it matter if I WANT to be married to one of the jurors? She got randomly selected as a juror and I didn’t, so I guess it wasn’t in the cards. How often do you hope to get stuck with jury duty? Well, I’m going to see what the heck is wrong with my chancies while I get someone else to look into this Assassin case. I think the right man for the job is someone who would rather do hard time than be given a hard time. It’s someone who leaves no case cold unless it’s his briefcase full of vodka and ice. This weeks BONUS BOLUS takes you on a dungeon crawl through that godawful place that exists on the other side of the starting gate in the Diablo 3 Gameplay Video. Who, or what, is stirring in there, and how stacked are his odds of finding the real Assassin? Will this square jawed lowlife with Womanizing Skills plead the fifth or become the fifth character class? You can’t have a quest for the Assassin without a little mystery that is about to be solved by…

The Gumshoe

The last thing I remember was telling the bartender to take the air out of my glass. I had been in hell mode since my third marriage failed, so waking up slumped over on my desk was nothing new. Some dame must have crept into my office and planted a card under my elbow I’d been using as a pillow the past four nights. The scent of perfume punched me in the face. It wasn’t anything I recognized which meant it’s not the cheap kind.

I flipped the card over. It said ?kill Diablo, lolz? in typical broad handwriting?ballooned l’s, knocked up i’s, the whole bit. But none of the ladies I know speak three languages at once. Diablo is Spanish or something and the last word can only be German. Nah, this was some punk setting me up with a hit job, and I’m not the type to turn rogue. I don’t do hits; I’ve been legit even though my plate number is DND 101, and everyone knows it stands for drinking n’ driving. You don’t need to be a translator to know that the card was planted evidence to set me up as the fall guy for murder. Heck, I’m just a private dic, but even I know that posing as a gal to lure players into a pit is the oldest one in the book.

In this town there’s always a swarm of bees looking for the queen bee. What did they think I was, some kind of new bee? I opened my desk drawer and took out my right hand man, a loaded revolver. The make and caliber are none of your business. I holstered it and put on my overcoat which could use a good ironing and some patches. Funny thing, I always felt enough warmth with just the piece of iron close to me.

I heaved a sigh, still tasting last night on my breath. Of the dying man’s choice of last words, mine will probably end up being, ?pounding the pavement, someone’s got to do it.? But leaving my rented office space was a greater difficulty. I opened the door and was stumped to see the whole damn building had been renovated into a movie set. The hallway leading out of my usual third story shack was turned into some kind of fake ancient temple overnight. I guess when the corporate bastards saw my name stenciled on the door they thought twice before completing the set. Looks like the owner sold out to the fat cats in the film franchise but forgot to inform all his tenants. Well that’s what I get for being so low key.

The smell of recent construction and glue fumes sang like a bad choir. ?This place is thick with the stench of gouls,? I said. I don’t know, I guess I just like talking to myself. It’s a good thing I staggered down the new stone hall when I did because one of those metal gates you see in horror flicks damn near fell on my head. The years of experience crawling into places through windows sure would help me tonight, because the door to my office was blocked. 

 

The place was dark and misty, an improvement over the dump I was used to for sure. I ended up getting my loafers wet when I stepped into a damn pool. A pool on the third floor. These studio guys really go all out. I looked at my reflection in the water. What a baggy-eyed wreck. They won’t be making a movie about me any time soon. I just stood there in the shallow water for a while, disoriented and feeling the melancholy, but that’s old news. Heck, half of my cases are a case of the spins.

This time it’s tunnel vision. Finding my way out of the place was real tricky. I was hot on the trail of someone who had just roamed through here. He was in a hurry, more like a frenzy. He even left some cab fare on the floor. Signs of a struggle? Hard to say; the whole place was still under construction or being torn down again, I couldn’t tell anymore. If you stared at the walls long enough and really believed, the place started to resemble a nightclub. The fake cobwebs are the fishnet stalkings.

Anyway, the coins ended up in my pocket. Funny thing, I don’t remember putting them there. When you’ve been drinking bourbon half your professional life, tap water starts to taste bad and blackouts are a common occurrence. Hell, last night the only action I can be sure of is checking under my car for a children’s backpack in case I hit anyone. ?If only automatic pickups worked on women? I said with a smirk. That would be gold.

How did some junkie with no pants manage to get in here? He crawled out of the shadows and clawed at me, but I was faster.

?You’re pretty fast for a slug,? I warned. ?But I’ve got six of them right here.? I let him have it. The bullet took his whole arm off and blood jetted out like bootlegs getting tossed overboard in a shakedown. An axe he had on his back skid across the floor as he fell. It makes you wonder why he would come at me with his bare hands when he had a weapon the whole time. Oh well, self defense is a dish best served with a piece next to the body. And you’d think the deafening blast would attract some attention, but this place was as empty as my bank account and my second wife’s heart put together.

Something was very fishy about the way he takes his lead. As it turned out, he was just some mechanical puppet the studio had built. I didn’t get a good look at him when I reacted, but up close, I could see the monster mask, claws, fake blood, the whole kittie caboodle. How they got that toon to move is beyond me. There were no strings, you see. I’ll bet there was a whole string of ears around the corner; a bunch of the film crew getting a good laugh.

I like to keep a few rounds in my pocket so I have a full chamber just in case. But apparently my six shooter had already reloaded itself for me. I fired another round into the ceiling and the gun got loaded quicker than I do on Fridays. More blackouts? The empty casings were gone. Did I drop them? It’ll take some real magic finding those. It was kind of dark in there.

There was no set manager showing up to explain this mess to, so I got out of there. I came to a ladder with dust smudged off the rails as though someone just slid down it like a fire station pole. Of course this would actually make the ladder tip over, but it looks like the ladder had been reset.

I was feeling trapped in a labyrinth. Something huge nudged in the darkness, probably another high end puppet. 

?What the hells is that?!? Jeepers, was my speech getting slurred already? It wasn’t even afternoon yet. I needed a drink like a whale needs krill. The first thing I do when I get out of here is I’ll find a gin joint. Getting framed for murder will have to wait. I hear the Blue Amazon is a classy hangout. Lots of showgirls.

Speaking of not getting framed, I came across what looked like pictures of my third ex-wife scattered all over the floor. It just turned out to be a ransacked library though. But one of the papers was my next clue which I found in a fancy trunk on a manhole cover. It read, ? hammerz ftw!!!?

These were punks alright. I had seen that acronym in crooked graffiti on every alley brick wall in this sinking metropolitan nightmare of a city where I work my beat. As for the hammer spelled in ten percent German, how should I know what that means? Like I said, I’m just a private eye.

I went back to where I wrecked the puppet only to find someone had tidied up. I hate it when the bodies disappear.

I later came across an actor half buried in bricks, his acting career cut short by low budget shoddy props. He stood too close to a faulty wall as it turned out. How many men go out dressed in medieval archer outfits? The only time I’m going to see an archer again is in another year or so, after release.

That is, when the cops release this guy’s crime scene photo to the newspapers, and that’s if the body stays put. Don’t mind the jargon.

I knew someone’s got to pay, and I really needed some scotch, so I barged through a door where a scene was underway. Three broads were flailing around on a stage while a circle of men dressed in robes looked on and chanted. Strange, I didn’t see any cameras. Was this thing being shot from above? You know it’s a bigtime production when no one has to worry about where the camera is.

It was time to wrap this case up and move on to my personal problems. I had problems at home, problems with getting framed, problems with getting a drink, and the elixer of vitality I found in the library contained no liquor whatsoever. It was as though one day I woke up and no one was allowed to rely on drinking anymore.

I rushed in and gave the usual introduction. ?Show’s over boys and girls. There’s a stiff outside and I want names.? I wanted numbers too. Those girls were lookers. Hey, I’m not immune you know.

They started chanting faster, can you believe it? These guys apparently worship the almighty dollar. My scorn was palpable. Trying to finish the take, were they?

?A man is dead. Stop rolling. He’s still warm for god sakes.?

One of the girls blew up. The explosives must have been hidden in what little attire she had on. When a second girl blew up, I was certain of one thing: someone is going down for double homicide.

The first suspect I thought of questioning was the third girl, no doubt a jealous tramp who knew enough about the biz to plot the deaths of the other actresses so she could later get the star role. With the studio taking the fall, she could move on with her scheme to marry the producer and blackmail him by—

She blew up.

The dolls were blowing up pretty fast in there. The suspects then became the men in robes who didn’t even budge or bat an eye. They just looked on as bloody bones and limbs floated up and assembled what looked like a dinosaur skeleton on center stage. I didn’t like their purple robes either. Perhaps they’d enjoy the striped smoking jackets they’ll get after I put them all in the slammer for conspiracy to commit murder.

It all became clear now. There was only one explanation for all of this. In a diabolic attempt to make the scariest movie of all time, the director planted explosives on the girls and had them blow up for the most realistic special effect possible. Live explosives. Live women. Makes sense to me. Strings tied to their limbs were likely explained as being used to levitate the girls when the real ploy was to kill them. The unseen puppeteers were amazing, for psychopaths. Actors are a dime a dozen. The man outside had been tricked into letting a real wall fall on him purposely meant to crush him. This was all in the name of making a buck. This movie will rake in thousands of dollars. But not if I have something to say about it.

?Where’s the director? Hell, I wouldn’t mind seeing the art director while we’re at it.?

No one was talking, but maybe a visit from the tooth ferry’s middleman would get some conversation going. I stepped forward, but a huge explosion occurred right where the dinosaur was being assembled. Typical. The suspects were all blown to bits. Typical. Never get too close to a boss. I stumbled out of there while I still had the chance. The way this movie was turning out, the whole room was a destructible environment.  The director was looking at mass murder now.

I noticed another card on the floor that I missed before. I picked it up and it said, ?tptptptptptptptp plz.?

Oh god, there was more on the back. I flipped it over and it said, ?rdy gogogogogogogo?

I drew my gun. I was going to go through that room. Surely the director, big d, would have some muscle on guard for a hush-hush project like this, but I was ready for it. Hell, I was ready to face the mob at this point.“No one owns Frank Haddock!” I yelled. “Welcome to blood moor, sissies!” I meant to say “more blood,” but I was still pretty wasted form last night.

I stormed back in with my gun raised, the hammer cocked, and prepared to take down whoever was in there to stop me. I wasn’t scared. I had seen it all before. It’s not like he could weigh a thousand pounds or anything.
   


Opinions expressed in columns and guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.

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