The second installment of Stillman’s Slab is as timely as you could hope, with a humorous analysis of the Monk’s cinematic introduction, his (non) armor, and the general theme of D3’s characters (and demons) choosing to wear huge shoulder pads, colorful rags, and little else. We’re not yet quite into WoW-style “combat in bikinis,” but we seem to be heading in that direction. The D3 chars just wear more stylized, less sexy, versions of beach garments?

    Click through to read the full column.

    Nudist Monks

    Remember Marius? When he was not drinking Farnum under the table, he was starring in amazing Diablo 2 cinematic videos. There you could see his raw emotions, turmoil, nervous habits and fine details such as individual graying hairs. He couldn’t walk through that gate to Hell because it would have meant missing film school. And of course he handed over Baal’s soulstone after mistaking him for Tyreal.  For a complete idiot, he sure made some great videos. It all makes you wonder: how can the old school D2 videos narrated by a cowardly, bumbling drunk end up superior to the brand new D3 monk trailer? The monk’s trailer has none of that Marius richness and detail offered up in the 90’s. 

    What it does have is a 90’s arcade look. The monk’s trailer video was actually done in a trailer park, hence the name trailer. It certainly seems low budget enough.  Much of the music was the same from the first D3 gameplay video as though it was a rushed project. The trailer park sand looks really good. This reflects Blizzard’s habit of putting more love and care into background details than into the stars of the show. But the next thing you notice is the giant polygons that make up the monk’s staff, beads, and extremely thick bracers. It was a relief to see the staff (durability of 1) break in two later on. That was mistake number one (if you count being lured into a whole town of cultists a plot twist). Mistake number two was landing on a cold slab for observation. You can’t just put your hand through someone’s body and black out like that at the end of a video. You will face poetic justice when you wake up.

    The newly announced D3 DiabloWikiMonk class is here, and he looks much better than his 90’s arcade game portrayal in his trailer video. Some wonder if Blizzard should even be taking a bite of the Japan fighter genre with all its visual noise and flaws. But enough about the trailer. Let us delve in and learn the ultimate secret of our own Diablo universe that the monk has been keeping from us!

    Before we get to the meat of the discovery, we may as well start with mysterious subtleties. The monk’s striving for perfection fits in perfectly with us min-maxers who do the same. I find this embodiment of the players’ competitive drive a brilliant move by Blizzard. I like the monk’s wild beard (some do not) because it strays from the stereotypical clean shaved monk and invokes thoughts of ancient warriors. It also adds to the holy class appeal because I often think of knights as having thick beards. With the barbarian and the monk both sporting beards, we feel wrapped in dark, savage times.

    We still do not know for sure whether this holy man is humble or sitting atop a high horse. Blizzard’s Abd al-Hazir describes the monk as laughing while enjoying a good bar fight and later meditating to purify himself of sins. Perhaps a better way is to not sin in the first place. At first glance, his simple garb, few words, and hobo carrying stick, paint him as humble.  Yet closer observation may reveal otherwise. He has not one, but two red dots on his forehead. These are obviously borrowed Indian red bindi, just as the orange sheet is borrowed from Shaolin monks.  But why take two bindi? Is this to imply he has twice as many third eyes (figure that one out) just to outdo us?

    Likewise, the 1001 gods he worships with supportive tattoos seems excessive. His gear may be minimal, but again, the image of humbleness is illusion only. He sports a massive American Gladiators staff, baseball-sized beads, and overly thick goalie pads that make the barbarian’s shoulder pads look like sheets of paper. The rune he flashes for a moment in the trailer is huge as well. His Peacock Plumage tree really shows through without even being announced yet.  Is this class going to be a braggart personality no different than the DiabloWikiWizard we see strutting in her trailer?

    Speaking of the Wizard, note how the Monk’s attacks produce dazzling flashes that are much bigger than his entire body. Humbleness may not be a feature of the monk after all. Similarities and overlapping with other classes are abundant. We can easily picture the DiabloWikiWitch Doctor as being a staff wielder, the Barb having the same AoE melee prowess, and the Wizard having all the flashy light shows.  Abd al-Hazir describes the monk as ?ignorant to the cold? with ?skin as hard as iron?which sounds an awful lot like the natural resistance and iron skin passive skills from the d2 Barbarian.

    The Monk’s role may therefore be to encompass the ?versatile? class much like the Amazon’s role in d2. Just as a brief reminder, she had freezing arrow, multiple shot, and lightning strike which resembled glacial spike, teeth, and chain lightning effects respectively from other d2 classes. Something tells me this monk can shapeshift. If the monk is able to be the assassin, amazon, paladin, druid, wizard and barbarian classes in unison, and Blizzard decides to inform the fans about it at a later date, then we can draw one vital conclusion: Blizzard is really screwing with our mids.

    The few monk skills revealed can all be learned about in the forums, so I will only mention two things. First, one skill (seen in the Crippling Wave short video) appears to be a much faster version of the d2 Amazon’s fend skill judging by the flower petal pattern of dead foes it creates. Secondly, I hope that for his remaining skill names Blizzard goes with Mongoose instead of Tiger. Quivering Jello would be better than Tiger for originality sake.

    A boxing match between the unarmed monk and a boss should look something like this:

    Unless, of course, they are magic punches, which explains everything.

    Of course a good claw weapon will make all the difference:

    Good old magic may explain why an unarmed monk can knock down a thousand pound ice cream demon, but how does he punch through plate armor with his bare knuckles? Oh wait, there is no such thing as armor on opponents anymore. Yeah, according to all the video footage of d3 monsters seen thus far, all the bad guys are naked for your sick enjoyment. Ok, maybe they have scraps of armor, but it is hard to tell with everything dying at a glance.

    The monk will presumably wear some heavy armor and look reasonable in it. However; it certainly will not resemble a medieval suit of armor given the freedom of movement, speed, and look the class requires. I cannot help but wonder if Blizzard has put any thought at all into what these toons will wear later on. Many players are going to miss the awesome look and feel of a very heavy suit of armor that offers head to toe protection.

    The barbarian shoulder plates are strangely responsible for most of his chest protection. The wizard will of course have lighter looking armors. The witchdoctor will have god knows what, but it will not be knightly. Will the appearance of armor be meaningless as it was in D2 where rags could offer more defense than metal? D2 became silly with most of us coveting dusk shrouds and archon plate (elite quilted armor and elite light plate respectively). I always hoped D3 would remedy this backward notion of armor and set things right again where full plate is appreciated for what it is.

    I decided to unstrap the monk and release him back into the wild. He appeals to me despite having driven home the ultimate message: Blizzard does not care at all about armor or shields any more. The monk has my thanks for this sad revelation. Armor fans can now mourn. Nearly all of the monsters are as naked as Tom and Jerry, and both the witchdoctor and monk are logically better off with no armor or just a leaf covering the privates.

    It is not about getting the Paladin back as the holy class. It never was. It is about maintaining the blissful look and feel of the old ways. Nothing instantly speaks of your power and intangibility like a suit of godly armor with no hints of skin underneath except for the chain mail you wear at the joints. But those days are almost certainly gone. We have four classes now who make no sense at all in a full suit of armor. Shields would look silly too, even on the barbarian who is supposedly fearless. The monk’s ultimate secret message is that the fifteenth century style of heavy armor has likely been abandoned and will be replaced by some very wacky stuff indeed.

    Blizzard has been fostering naked characters from day one. The D3 barbarian starts off more nude than he was in D2. The witchdoctor has never even heard of clothing. And now we have the monk who prefers hitting things with his bare hands.  Abd al-Hazir describes the monk’s skin as being ?impenetrable by the blade of any sword or by the point of any arrow.? So there you go; he is perfectly fine being a naked class forever.

    It looks like my dissecting days will be much easier, what with every D3 class being pretty well butt naked before they even arrive on the slab. What a shame; I will never get to use these bolt cutters…unless the fifth class is a blacksmith. 
    But I can picture it now: ?The Smith hails from the nudist beaches of the Twin Seas. Though he can construct the finest steel plate known to exist, he will not dare to equip anything he makes. It all gets shipped off to paladins who refuse to get involved in any more demon slaying shenanigans. Their shako business is still going strong, ‘so why PvM anymore?’ as they say. The Smith’s ultimate goal is to discover the elusive wet toilet paper which can be enchanted until it exceeds the strength of all known materials. ?

    Overall, the monk is an awesome and exciting new addition to d3, but some of us will miss our goldskins. Silks of the Victor will henceforth be taken literally, as silk is about the heaviest thing that would look right on him.

    Oh, just watch Excalibur. Then you will understand.

    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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