It’s another week of stillman hopelessly trying to find ways of killing time at work. I mean writing articles. Today’s Slab examines Ormus and town dwelling NPCs in general.
Ormus the One and Only Cool Cat
Ormus is one of my favorite NPCs. But I must ask myself why that is. For one thing, he does not say, “You are not welcome here, skank.” Nor does he praise you excessively even though someone rushed your lazy hero into his town. Instead, he speaks in first person and comes off as both interesting and weirdly different. His dreary voice and lack of a wacky accent are so refreshing! Located conveniently close to the town portal and Waypoint, he also has identify and town portal scrolls so you do not have to run very far. This minimizes the time you must spend in that godforsaken town of Act 3. Does anyone else find it strange that these are the best qualities of NPCs the game has to offer?
What I like most about Ormus is his Gossip regarding Cain:
?Deckard Cain…Ormus has no time for the last son of the Horodrim. Pride led that holy Order to failure.?
Damn right! I have no time for Cain either. Finally, someone who disrespects Cain almost as much as I do speaks out. Ormus is a more tolerable and likable guy simply for not being annoying as other NPCs. He even resembles someone from a float on the parades we have here in Canada celebrating the second underground railway…to same sex marriage.
Ormus was made even more interesting with the inclusion of his wardrobe items known as Ormus’ Robes. Here are two that I found this season:
Thunderstorm and Teleport? Damn, those are like the crappiest ones! Thanks Ormus. And that rare ring he donates upon completion of a quest is even worse. You almost always sell it right back to him. ?This magic ring does me no good,? he says. It does me no good either, Ormus. Thanks for giving me your garbage, though. It’s the thought that counts.
It is not really Ormus that is to blame here. Most NPCs suck pretty harshly. Anya gives you a rare item that she ?made ‘specially for you? of such pointless random junk that you usually sell it right back to her. This is during a three-click speech fest of the highest magnitude after you rescue her. Poor design there. Larzuk does what exactly? Reduce vendor prices by something tiny? Well no one cares. Players appreciate Radament (Atma’s nemesis) ten times more because he has the Book of Skill that adds a skill point. It should be Atma who hands over the Book of Skill.
For players getting bored to death of trifling town tasks, Ormus has a rather simple joke name: Orifice. You can add that to Arsie Charsie, Anal Anya, and Jerkin’ Jerhyn. Man, I play too much Diablo 2. Or is the real problem having to see (so very frequently) the talking trees in town with gossip buttons on some branch no one wants to climb to?
Like many vendors, Ormus becomes just that?a vendor. He is but a number crunching box of gold exchange. Every player likely frowns upon the fraction of time spent running over to deal with Ormus despite the relatively small time this amounts to. No one even looks at the gold gained by dabbling with Ormus; we just hurry through the clicks like with any other NPC. He is most memorable for his little spot closer to the town portal than any other NPC in Act 3. His characteristics and offers of wisdom become irrelevant in the speed fest to push on through the storyline. All his dialogue is meaningless to the experienced player. What really counts is his knack for selling town portal scrolls, and I find this saddening. This is not Ormus’ fault, but rather a consequence of the gameplay.
And this makes me wonder: why bother with all this if it just becomes a reluctant chore? Why not bypass NPCs altogether? Ormus is a nice character design, but when push comes to shove, no one cares. Players only care about items, progression to the hot spots of experience gain, and…more items. Yes, the ultimate solution is to not even bother with Ormus, or any other NPC for that matter. Ideally, every player would likely prefer…
NO TOWN WHATSOEVER!!
Oh yeah. That would be swell. Every trip to town is a pointless exercise in time wasting administrative anti-bliss. But what if there were no towns? Imagine playing Diablo where you are forced into one of those Iron Man challenges. Each class could have some survival skills that keep them functional outside of town (like item repair and self healing skills). There could be wondering merchants like in DragonView for NES, and when you save and exit, you start again at the nearest Waypoint which is actually a campsite. Or, what about Mech Warrior for SNES where you do your town preparations once prior to each mission, and returning to town only happens with humiliating defeat or cowardly escape. Or, what about Final Fantasy Legend II for Gameboy where monsters roam some towns? I really see no function of town at all except boring bartering and time wasting in some safe haven for pansies. Lore can be found in tombs and travelers if players need it so badly. And, trade with players can always go down at the rumored auction house.
Of course, towns are one of those hard-to-break traditions of RPGs. Towns and their action-stopping NPCs will always be around, even if they mostly annoy veteran players. Diablo 3 apparently has these little encampments which offer hope for guys like myself who are bored to death with town. And, Harrogath has been completely blown to bits, erasing all the NPCs there I didn’t like! That said, there are also massive cities and embarrassing small towns officially included like Caldeum and Tristram respectively.
Oh wait, there won’t be inventory-clogging charms in Diablo 3. Well that should solve 96% of the problems right there…
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.