Stillman’s Slab #31: Deadly Death of the Dieing Dead

This week I discuss the randomly named boss monsters of Diablo 2. Wish me luck! Hopefully I will not run into an Extra Strong Lightning Enchanted glitched boss. Or, I can just never play melee again because of these buggers. Click through below for a trip to the past.

Deadly Death of the Dieing Dead

In your lonely nights of playing Diablo 2 all weekend, do any of you fans hope to score by getting a hilarious sounding boss monster name? No? Not even Sin Skin the Howler? Ok. Just wondering. I guess I can write about something else then.

But wait! There is so much talk about! After playing Diablo 2 for just a short while, players soon learn that the randomly generated names of boss monsters sound, well, random and downright silly sometimes. Some of the names sound sexual, like the Sin Skin the Howler example above. But that is just the start of the problems concerning these tabloid names. How do our heroes even know their enemies’ names, anyway?

Boss names are often humorously inappropriate, removing their threatening nature completely. Lumbering melee thugs get stuck with ‘the Witch’ name when clearly they do not use any magic. Likewise, spectral monsters can end up earning the name ‘the Axe’ which sounds purely physical. Even worse, many combinations make no sense just by regarding the words alone. Take Steel Flame the Hammer for instance. We all know flames are not made out of steel, so does the steel emit flames? And how can he be a hammer on top of being a flame? Is he renowned for pommeling things like a hammer does or for burning things like a flame would?  Some names are outright impossible. Last night I encountered Flame Thirst the Dark. So…is he thirsty for flames which are wet? And how can he be dark if he drinks flames all the time? 

They often get stuck with two words that end with ?er? such as Grey Crawler the Slayer. Which is it? Is he a crawler or a slayer? And why is he an orange Blunderbore who never crawls? Then, you get the same names repeating themselves once in a while. I thought I already killed ?the Mad?, yet here is someone else who climbed to the ranks of ?the Mad.? When does a mentally sound spider cross the boundary and become mad? And how can two different monster types end up with the exact same name?

We have a real problem when this confusion makes you wonder which side they are on. A large proportion of boss monsters sound like good guys. There are many of these good guy type of names like Sin Rend. If he rends sin, doesn’t that make him good because sin is bad and rending it would be a good thing?  And take the name Devil Hack for example. If he hacks the devil, then shouldn’t he be helping me fight Diablo? I know what you are going to say: ?Stillman, it’s implying he is a devil who hacks stuff.? Ok, then shouldn’t it be Stuff Hack the Devil? And Stuff should basically be anything good, so you get Righteous Hack the Devil. But that would involve some serious Q Basic programming skillz!

Other times, the bad guys sound like they just want something to eat! So many of them have Hungry and Gut thrown into their names of glory. Spirit Skull the Hungry?where to begin? A hungry spirit? Spirits eat food now? Wouldn’t the food just fall out the empty bottom of the skull through the jaw? Should I leave this guy alone in his torment of being a spirit skull without substance and no need for moving parts of a skull? I feel bad for these bosses. Some of them sound like they have serious digestive problems, like Puke Feast and Gut Eater.

Sometimes the names sound even weaker and really make you think. A boss named Steel Web reminded me of how spider’s silk is stronger than steel. So if you had steel the same thinness as a thread, it would snap easily while the spider’s web can bend and strain. So a boss named Steel Web is really quite lame. Many names have Pus in them connected to Rend or something. How can pus rend something? It’s pus! Or, if they are going to rend the pus itself, isn’t that kind of too easy? 

Despite some of the names (like Steel Web) having only two words, they still fail to make much sense. Some examples include Star Head, Haze Burn, and Storm Blister. How can stars have anatomy, how can haze burn anything, and how can storms blister something?

There are too many times like this when the words will contradict themselves, like Ooze Fang the Slayer. It makes me wonder how the fang can slay anything if it is made out of ooze. Or maybe the ooze is coating the fang? Don’t be like me and ask too many questions, though. You will get stumped on Seethe Venom the Witch. Last I heard, witches use magic, so why the need to seethe venom? Heck, there are no witches in the Diaboverse, anyone notice?

Venom…Fang…why are these names not working out for me?

Here we have VenomfangX, former heavyweight Christian internet spokesperson. [Pssst, I have a hint: maybe your name should sound a little more appropriate!] 

You have to take these not so intimidating names with a grain of salt. I never gave the Diablo novels a try because their titles often sound like they are employing the same techniques for chucking names together. Diablo: Demonsbane, Diablo: Moon of the Spider, Diablo: Scales of the Serpent are a few examples that fall prey to this double negativity device. Moon of the Spider makes me chuckle a bit because it sounds just like a randomly generated item. I suppose they needed the novels to sound tough because it’s Diablo, so they didn’t go with Cuddles of the Kittens or Tummy of the Wrinkle Puppy.

But some of the names sound really cool. Oh wait…those are the Sperunique monsters, like Snapchip Shatter and Treehead Woodfist. These monsters are set in certain places each game and always have good names. It makes you wonder why they did not use this idea for randomly generated bosses. Instead of random words recklessly hitched together, why not have three giant lists of good sounding names for demon, undead, and animal types? Or, what if the names matched up with their abilities or appearance? For example, the Mauler name could go well with Doom Ape monsters, and Black Widow could go with Spiders. Most of the time in Diablo 2 the boss monsters who would not normally speak languages have these elaborate names. Why would animal type monsters even have frightening titles and reputations?

So my main point is that randomization is not a win-all mechanic. It works great for items because the words refer to specific powers attached to the item. But it does not take a new player long to realize that boss monster names are generated in the cheapest possible way: words are plucked from two or three pools of negative sounding words, and the words are added together. The effect of being scary is completely lost. Do players even have a reason to read the random mess of names? No. So come on everyone, let’s all petition Blizzard to change how they name Diablo 2 boss monsters exactly as I just described so it all makes sense. Who is with me?

Is that cricket chirping I hear? That’s what I thought.

There are actually bigger problems at hand than the names. Boss monsters have a very tiny pool of special abilities. In Hell games, bosses can have up to five of these plus a couple of immunities. That is all fine, but the problem is many of the abilities are just annoying rather than challenging. Holy Freeze, Spectral Hit, and Cold Enchanted all slow down your character. With so very few other abilities left in the basket to pick from, there is a good chance most mini bosses will slow you down by having any one of these slowing abilities. This results in A) you sighing and B) you making a ranged character.

There are also too many suicide bomber monsters and abilities. Fire, Lightning, and Cold Enchanted bosses all dish out automatic damage if you are close to them when they get hit or die. Again, play a ranged character or be annoyed.  Maybe the Fallen Lunatic is not a good idea for Diablo 3.

So hopefully this week’s ploy worked, and you are all Seething Spiritual Drool of Hunger over the Diablo 2 ladder reset happening this March 23. Yes, it was all a trick. I need melee players to get involved and tell me how smoothly it goes with the patch 1.13 changes now that the game is 500% easier. Last season (which I quit early many months ago) I found four high runes: Vex, Lo, and I think two Ist. So if the drop rates are up to 10 times more now, well that means I should have about 40 high runes dropping for me (and for the rest of you). Now are you going to play?   

To end on a more serious note, do you people want more words of utmost negativity in Diablo 3? Or, is there a problem of you being a tad bit desensitized to it all, like our eventual ignoring of tortured bodies so casually littered about? If everything in our heroes’ world is scorching, dire, maiming, venomous, black, vile and fungal, then does it all turn into a fluffy norm? I turn now to The Kids in the Hall with some deep philosophical rationale on this dark matter…of doom and despair. 

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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