It seems that every day we are accosted by a new wave of people seeking to claim that Diablo II is not a ?true RPG?. Naturally this results in the spawning of several hundred ?defenders of the faith?, willing to argue otherwise until ]]>

    In the end neither side can win. For if Diablo II is indeed an RPG, then it is a very limited one. It?s sitting there, simmering softly, resting someplace between Planescape: Torment and?.oh, let?s just say Tetris. The storyline isn?t bad, certainly, but your character has about as much influence on the game?s outcome as your toilet does on which way the water swirls. Naturally this is assuming that you aren?t in possession of some sort of magical toilet that can do back-flips and cook you dinner while you sleep. But I digress.

    So what if one wishes to spice up their Diablo II experience? Is it possible for us to inject our own vision of ?life? into what long ago became a twisted testament to cattle hustling? The answer is of course ?yes?, otherwise I?d have nothing else to write about for the remainder of this piece.

    I briefly glanced at the game?s character line-up, and immediately found myself gazing upon a wealth of untold stories. What is Percy the Paladin?s troubled, forgotten past? What?s so special about Ugg the Barbarian?s ultra-sharp axe? Why isn?t Amy the Amazon wearing any pants?  And so forth.

    I rapidly came to the conclusion that I didn?t really care. Because ? and let?s be honest here ? the characters are all about as one-dimensional as an invisible drawing of an atomic particle that doesn?t exist. But in spite of this rather major shortcoming, I soon realized that the situation could prove to be advantageous. Who can deny the fun to be had in role-playing shallow, stylistic characters without motive nor purpose?  Hell, it worked for Final Fantasy.

    Pretty soon I had come up with three wonderfully clich?d characters that could easily be put into play on Battle.net. Of course it is important to remain in-character during your forays into the world of Sanctuary, and I have no doubt that this could lead to some rather unusual (and potentially awkward) conversations with your fellow gamers. But then that?s kind of the whole point.

    [B]1. The Zealot[/B]
    The name given to users of the Zeal skill worldwide, causing the collective majority to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the alternative title ?Zealadin? wasn?t used. I think it?s a fairly appropriate description for this character; if you disagree then you?re probably a communist.

    Basically you just have to play as a Paladin. Skill choices really don?t matter; in fact it might even be preferable to ignore skill investments altogether, relying on faith alone to see your character through the coming ordeals. You must always speak in bastardised Olde Englishe, and never for a moment should you let your opposition get a word in. Note that the definition of ?opponent? is of particular importance when playing as this character. It simply means ?everyone and everything within the game world, whether real or imagined?. As far as you?re concerned, they?re all in league with El Diablo. And they?re out to get you.

    The main perk of playing this character is that most of the time nobody will have the slightest idea what you?re talking about. In other words, you?ll be just like the typical Korean player. The fact of the matter is that 93% of B.net?s denizens speak only in numbers, symbols, and vague insults concerning your sexual orientation. Use this to your advantage, by all means. When somebody asks ?hey can u gime occy soj bugged??//? you can reply ?Vile spawn of Mephisto! Thou shalt not live to see another moon!? before going hostile and causing them to mysteriously disappear from the face of Sanctuary (rumoured to be an example of a divine magic known only as the Alteph Ore. I prefer to call it ?Rapture?).

    [B]2. The Princess[/B]
    This one is only a little more complex than the previous. Have you ever noticed how female gamers are treated differently from their far-more-common brethren? They tend to receive a greater number of marriage proposals, for one thing. This is generally attributed to the fact that they?ve got girly bits.

    Now I know what you?re thinking. You?re thinking, ?Dude, is he really suggesting that we pretend to be female in order to toy with the minds of others? And boy, I could sure go for a taco right about now.? Well your tacos can wait, Tubby, as this is far more important. And as to your question?yes, yes I am.

    All you need to do is choose one of the four female characters (Amazon, Assassin, Sorceress or Necromancer) and select a name that contains any combination of the following words:

    Names you should avoid include:

    The next step is to introduce yourself to the channel. Explain in no uncertain terms that your ex-boyfriend bought you this game just before you broke up, and how you?d love for someone to help teach you the basics. Make sure you utilize plenty of winking emoticons, and feel free to abbreviate words as you see fit. Examples include ?any? to ?ne? and ?you? to ?u?. This clearly showcases how clever you are in knowing such time-saving shortcuts. It will cast you as endearing in the eyes of the masses.

    Once you?ve hooked the prospective saps (and believe me, it won?t take longer than a few seconds. This is the Internet, after all) you can then proceed to the final stage of your role-playing. More specifically, the part where you test the tolerance of those who would wish you well because you don?t have a ?y? chromosome. Beg for free items. Ask them to show you their most powerful characters. Tell them that you prefer guys who fight unarmed. Or naked. Make a huge deal about the first boss they mention, and talk about nothing but how much you?re looking forward to fighting it. Then just as they rush in to do battle with said adversary type ?BRB ? phone call? and idle for approximately twenty minutes.

    In the end you will have driven off all but the most love-starved of the online community?s bottom feeders (no pun intended). And hopefully you?ll have had some fun in doing so.

    And for those of you who think that I?m being malicious in suggesting this, just remember: there are folks out there who use the phrase ?omg i r lub teh

    ? in normal, everyday conversation. These people are the enemy. Not me.

    Now that I?ve made a weak attempt at deflecting potential criticism, let us move on to the third character.

    [B]3. Ugg[/B]
    Or, if you prefer, Ogg. Or even Gar if you?re feeling a wee bit adventurous. This time around you?re playing as the Barbarian stereotype. And what fun there is to be had.

    First and foremost, your character is brain damaged. Maybe he took one-too-many axes to the spine, or something. Who cares? The point is that he is unable to speak and function properly, and furthermore has absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of his skills and abilities. This type of player is generally referred to as a ?newbie? or possibly ?n00b?. Wear this badge with pride. You?re going to earn it.

    Here are some key pointers that should help you on your way (and never forget that ultimately this method of role-playing will require some degree of spontaneity. Be creative!):
    [*]Run, don?t walk.
    [*]Ask your team-mates how you can make your character shoot lightning. If they respond, state indignantly that it?s unfair that your character can?t cast spells or have unlimited skill points.
    [*]Proudly declare that you are raising your character?s energy so that he can run faster. Ride out the abuse that will inevitably follow.
    [*]Ask why you can?t throw your sword at enemies. Don?t take anything for an answer.
    [*]Insist that there is no possible way that something called a ?Buriza? could ever be more powerful than your Heavy Crossbow of Haste. Also ignore queries as to why you are using a crossbow in the first place.
    [ *]Ask what an SOJ is, then immediately proceed to question each and every player you encounter as to whether they have one available for trade.  Offer your Heavy Crossbow of Haste in exchange. If somebody gives you one out of pity, exclaim that it?s ?crappy? and promptly sell it to Charsi.
    [*]Make fun of Druids. Actually, don?t bother. Everyone else already does that.

    I guarantee that you?ll see the expression ?omg lol stoopid n00b? at least seven-hundred times before your first hour of play is through. If not, then you?re playing single player, Doofus.

    And there you have it. Tips on how to act out the roles of a Fanatic, an AOL grrl, and a Newbie. Okay, so maybe it?s not role-playing in the traditional sense. But it?s more fun than arguing over whose turn it is to roll the dice.

    Unless of course, they?re magic dice.

    [B]Disclaimer:[/B] [I]The Lion’s Toes[/I] was written by Leon (Robert McGrath-Kerr) and hosted by Diabloii.net. The opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.


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