Designing Diablo III: Part Two: Characters

    What, no items?

    While I promised coverage of items and characters for part 2, giving the character descriptions the space they need has taken all the column space, so items, including more notes on item crafting, monsters, mercenaries, and a few technical and other details will be covered in Part 3.

    All Change
    There are no characters from Diablo II in this list? Why? The simple answer is because they were in Diablo II. The characters from this game have already been thoroughly explored. New game, new challenge. New characters will rise to face this challenge. Just as the characters from Diablo II had some similarities to those from Diablo, you will doubtless see certain similarities. For example the Knight and the Paladin are similar in some respects, but completely different in others. You will find connections to Diablo II in the characters below, but nothing is being simply repeated, or ‘fixed’- this is the job of patches and expansion packs, not sequels. Diablo II established a complete change of character options between games, and this is something that can be continued here, while still retaining the essence of the game.

    In general terms, all characters gain levels experience, etc. as before. As this game is larger than Diablo II, characters can gain levels up to 200. In addition, every character has some advanced skills that cannot be accessed until level 70 at the earliest.

    Some character types are gender-specific (eg the Battle Sister). With others, it does not really matter, and I see no reason why a variety of character models cannot be made available for each character class, simply for some added variety.

    There are no non-human characters below. Elves and dwarves don’t belong in Diablo. In this game, it’s simply humans versus demons. Elves and other fantasy types can be left to Warcraft. I have tried to walk the fine line here between avoiding ‘generic’ fantasy characters, and having only characters that are too esoteric for players to identify with. Diablo II did a good job of this using geography, each character type was from a particular place, and had a reason to fight the evil in the land. I have taken a slightly different route here. For the most part, characters are products of their environment, a land of upheaval greatly affected by demons and the destruction of the Worldstone.

    Horadrim Acolyte
    The Horadrim have an interesting training method. Most of their students, or acolytes, are trained by the masters of the order. Those of the most promise, however, are sent out into the world with minimal equipment. They must live their life among normal people, and often return decades later, laden with the honours of great deeds done. For how can a person act as protector of the world without truly understanding it? The acolyte is one student of great promise. With no use for dry books or theories, the acolyte will have only raw experience as a teacher.

    As a Horadrim, the acolyte’s skill trees naturally contain magical spells of various kinds. However a Horadrim must learn to use wits and well as wizardry, so other skill types will also be present, ones that represent physical fitness and dexterity. Horadrim spells emphasise the properties of various metals, rather than taking the elemental approach favoured by the sorceress clans.

    Battle Sister
    The Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye suffered greatly at the hands of Andariel and the corrupt rogues. The new sisterhood has emerged from this ordeal, tougher and more ruthless than before, particularly in regard to demons. Many such ‘Battle Sisters’ roam the lands, killing demons, and often humans who collaborate with demons, wherever they find them. In addition, they have the ability to bind the demons they meet to their own will, using the enemy’s strength against them.

    The Battle Sister has one tree for magic, and one tree for combat related skills. The third tree is for ‘binding’ skills. This allows the Battle Sister to take over a demon from a map (this only works on monsters classed as ‘demon’). Like the necromancer’s golems in Diablo II, a Battle Sister can only control one such demon, and while they will move from map to map, they cannot be saved, like mercenary companions. Other skills in the binding tree allow the Battle Sister to augment here captive demon in various ways.

    In a world devastated by magic, many humans have turned to their own two hands for their survival. Technology, not magic, is in favour throughout the lands, and the new guilds of Engineers are the personification of this trend. While Engineers prefer mechanics to magic, they are not above magically augmenting their creations where they can.

    The engineer’s skill tree naturally reflect his ability to work with and improve items. For example, the “Repair” skill allows the engineer to take a cracked item and turn it into a normal item of that type. The “Improve” skill allows the Engineer to take a normal item and turn it into a superior of that type. With both these skills, the percentage chance of success starts at 50% and improves as you put points into the skill. If you fail, the item in question is destroyed. More advanced Engineers can use their skills to add sockets to an item (not set or unique items though). The number of sockets and chance of success also improves with the points you put into this skill, though with this skill the success chance starts at 70%, with a maximum of 1 socket. Again, failure means the item is destroyed, so use with care!

    The other skill the engineer possesses is in the use of firearms. Yes, you read correctly. Guns will be available in this game, perhaps the epitome of mechanics over magic. While any character can use firearms, subject to the usual level and start requirements, the Engineer fires faster, and can also use two pistols, with the appropriate skill.

    Nobility in battle is a luxury few can afford in these dark times. The gladiator is simply a fighter. Skilled certainly, which is why he (or she) still survives. In demon occupied lands, the gladiatorial arenas are the main source of entertainment. Few gladiators are there by choice, and the few that escape often take up arms against their demonic oppressors.

    The gladiator is the closest you will get to a Barbarian in this version. No war cries, certainly, but weapon masteries abound, for all types of weapon, excepting firearms. In addition the gladiator can choose to fight with a single-handed weapon in each hand. The gladiator has learned to fight with anything to hand, so bashing with a shield, butting with helmets, and kicking with boots are all skills that can be perfected.

    Not a man of faith, but a man of arms. Many nobles wander these shattered lands with nothing to their name but the arms they bear. The knight is a noble of independent means. The third or fourth son of a noble house, or perhaps the last survivor from lands overrun by demons, he has to find a way to make his mark on the world.

    The knight’s skill at martial arms forms the basis of his skill trees. Sword and shield is his preferred method of attack, and this is reflected by skills that enhance attack and defence while using a sword and shield. Unlike the paladin he cannot make weapons from his faith, rather his martial prowess improves as he gains skills, and the majority of the skill tree is devoted to skills of this type.

    Shades are a mysterious folk. Sometimes called Shadowfolk, or the Order of Shadow, they are a secretive group, and no one has managed to find out anything much about them, other than that they hate demons. Squads of soldiers have returned from skirmishes with tales of shadows becoming men who saved them from certain death. Shades are part of some secret society, and in everyday life look no different from anyone else. When the times comes, they too play their part in the endless war.

    The shade is the most nondescript of all the characters here. Expect NPCs to think you a simple adventurer, as this is how you will appear to them. Only a few of the wisest folk (like Deckard Cain) will know your true calling. Shades are adept at stealth and close-quarters fighting, and their skill trees reflect this. Shades can dodge melee and missile attacks, and also become harder to hit with any type of attack. Two dagger class weapons can be wielded at once, and the Shade can block attacks with this particular combo. Other than the dagger, the crossbow is the other favoured weapon of the Shade, who can use this type of weapon far better than any other character in the game.

    Disclaimer: The Ninth Circle was written by Lorelorn (David Kay) and hosted by Diii.net. The views expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

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