Stillman’s Slab #20: Baaled Out

After last month’s sobering look at the Diablo I heroes, it is time for some comic relief. Is a touch of comedy acceptable in Diablo games, or should they stick to the horror themes they were founded on?  Maybe comedy should be left to the town drunks rather than the epic end game boss. Baal is more like a punchline than a climatic struggle, which seems weird for a Diablo game. If there’s something weird, and it don’t look good, I think you better read Stillman’s Slab. The first paragraph is below; click through for the rest.

Baaled Out

Nothing puts a smile on your face quite like killing DiabloWikiBaal. But are we smiling because of the loot and heroism or because we have just shot a bad comedian off the stage? The good old horror scenes of Diablo 2 take a drastic U-turn when Baal shows up and begins laughing hysterically at his own demise. He even pukes all over himself when he dies! Now that is funny. Today we examine how some clown made his way into the Worldstone Chamber. We also look at the possibility of Baal being accidentally switched at birth with Diablo’s real brother: Freddy Krueger (more on this later).

As for you, Baal, you’re busted. Baal is not horrifying at all for one of the three Prime Evils. In fact, he closely resembles the joker from a deck of playing cards:

Not only does he yuk it up whenever you kill stuff, he is really quite a joke gameplay wise. When Lord of Destruction first came out, his Mana Rift attack was very devastating, often taking out your character with two shots. Why did they gimp it down so much to a mana-draining nuisance instead?  Today, Baal is quickly euthanized by any good build even in 8 player games, making him a joke to most serious players. Baal also reminds me of Bill Murray but probably more so for the comedy aspects than the face.


Wait a minute; he looks a lot like Bill Murray. And you know, that Mana Rift attack used in the LoD cinematic looks familiar too…


Is Baal all about comedy horror instead of classic Diablo horror??

Even his environment seems more like a fun house than a haunted one. His whole Worldstone Keep and Throne Room look like a Disneyesque theme park castle. The Worldstone Chamber looks pretty much the same. The fear does not exactly cut into us like a razor; it is more like a handful of disposable razors an addict might use to divide up lines of cocaine. Did Blizzard North simply give up with the horror elements and just go with…elements? Jeeze, Baal’s entire keep is just a drunken orgy of magic spewing everywhere. Baal himself is not even armed! He just pokes you in the eyes like The Three Stooges and relies mostly on elemental spells. I wonder why they made Baal such a silly goof, and why does he have so many legs if he can just teleport at will instead of walking?

The legs are probably meant to give him that spidery look, which implies he was meant to be scary. I think his whole entourage of throne room guards was supposed to be scary too. The Salamanders have that snake quality, and we also see Mummies, Skeletons, Dolls, Ghosts and Vampires. Gosh, where is the Frankenstein monster? It seems Blizzard North used every old school spooky monster out there. Yet, Baal’s end game zone is anything but scary. The vampires, who have twigs for arms and weigh about 80 pounds soaking wet, remind me of this:


To top it all off, the Minions of Destruction (the only real challenge) can simply be lured out where they cannot find their way home, so you do not even have to fight them! And of all the vicious dinosaurs to emulate, did it really have to be the Duckbills?


The weakest monsters in the place are the Ghosts who conveniently stack on top of each other for easier killing, but I ain’t afraid of no?

Baal is kind of ghostlike himself. He cannot be hurt (nor can he directly hurt you) while you put up with mowing down these monsters and his waves of groupies.  This doesn’t help make him scary since he is harmless and not really ‘there’. Later, he creates an annoying clone which can hurt you. Being the trickster he his, Baal is like an illusion sometimes. All I can say is if you’re seeing things running through your head, I think you better call…

Diablo. Ah, good old Diablo is so evil and fitting in his frightening hellish home, unlike Baal. Let us just appreciate for a moment how Diablo resembles Freddy Krueger! Diablo is red in Normal mode and dark green in greater difficulties; Freddy Krueger’s shirt is red and dark green. Both are known for terror, both can appear in different forms, souls are freed from their bodies when they die, both appear in a ?nightmare? mode, they have similar voices, both have claws, both go to Hell in their series, both are killed but keep coming back, both have possessed a child’s body, and both are strongly associated with fire. Freddy is brought back by demons in ‘Elm Street part 6; Diablo is brought back by a demon (Mephisto) in Diablo 2. No one believes Freddy exists except those who have encountered him; no one believes the fight against Diablo happened except for those who have encountered him. After Diablo 1, Diablo possesses a guy who becomes Diablo in part 2; After A Nightmare on Elm Street 1, Freddy possesses a guy who becomes Freddy in part 2. Marius goes days without sleep just like the kids in most Freddy movies, and both series contain action, horror, violence and gore. The two current Diablo games and all Elm Street movies end as cliffhangers.  Diablo and Freddy Krueger are the same entity.

Baal, however, is big, jolly, full of loot, and says ?Ho ho ho? every time you slaughter a wave of his elf-like troops. I should have hacked him to pieces a week ago (on Christmas). Even the names of Baal games are often jokes. On USEast there is Taco Baal and Blue Baals. I know, it’s gross. Tacos are just…yuck. But Chaos runs are named more seriously because there is nothing in the Chaos Sanctuary to laugh at besides noobs dieing. Let’s see…there could be Chaos Theory and Order n’ Chaos, but those sound serious. I know I am really busting Baal’s you-know-whats here, but let me tell you something: Bustin’ makes me feel good.

This is really about what players are feeling when they go after silly old Baal. It is unfortunate that Baal drains so much of the horror out of Diablo 2 because the game funnels us into him. We pretty much have no choice but to grind out Baal runs if we want to be competitive on the ladder or if we want to find those coveted skiller life grand charms since only Baal and Nihlathak drop the best ones. And so, the adventurers teleport in like they are from Star Trek. Or, they are like Lego men looking at some bizarre new play set that doesn’t make sense in their world. The whole place is red like the inside of someone’s GI tract, as though coloring everything blood red automatically translates into more fright (which it doesn’t). It is just too weird and magic-clustered to be epic or as fun as it should be. Many players also feel forced to join Baal runs because it is the fastest way to level up newer characters. In most Baal games there is a leecher or two who just takes up space…like an invisible man sleeping in your bed.

Baal really is a joker with his puppet government and weird carnival ride that is his end area. The spider legs just give us more legs to hogtie him with since he doesn’t even move that fast. That gooey stuff between the heroes’ toes was Colenzo the Annihilator (I guess he ‘annihilates’ foot odor) and the confetti Baal chucks down with his second wave are skeletons that essentially fall apart if you bump into them. The Worldstone itself looks like an 80’s hairstyle that got frozen in time and then deep fried back to life. And at the end, we find out that the whole Worldstone is made out of barn lumber. Baal, and his end game area which we are forced to visit repeatedly, really is something strange in the neighborhood.

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

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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