Since there is no time like the present, I thought I’d start rolling out sections of the draft compendium discussed here. As you’ll see, it will be broken into an intro and four sections. In the final, I plan to break those into five separate posts to allow direct linking to posts for people who wish to skip ahead or if it’s referenced in other posts later. To the get the ball rolling, here are drafts of the intro and first two sections (basics and SPF history). I hope to push out the next section (The Journey, which covers leveling strategies) sometime next week, and eventually the final section, which will include some miscellaneous info and tips. I very much welcome feedback and suggested additions or changes on these draft sections before finalizing and reposting. * * * INTRO A major challenge or goal for many members of the SPF has been to take a character to level 99. There is lots of great knowledge relevant to attempting a 99er in numerous threads, most notably The quest for level 99, 99 theorycrafting and stuff like that, kesteg’s original untwinked 99er challenge, and Kitteh’s recent reboot of the untwinked 99er challenge, Revenge of the 99ers, not to mention the character writeups for completed 99ers. But getting that knowledge means reading through all the posts in all of the threads, and then remembering which thread contained which pieces. This SPF 99er Compendium is an attempt to pull out the key tidbits, findings, and theory about 99er progress. Hopefully, it will be a useful resource for longstanding SPF members and newcomers alike who are looking for, or have undertaken, a new challenge. It’s also a tribute of sorts to this forum, those who’ve made it 99, those who’ve attempted it, and the many who have supported others along the journey. It’s broken up into four parts: The Basics The SPF’s 99er History The Journey Tidbits and Pro Tips There is no new knowledge or insights here, only the collection of what others have said or found. I may add some editorial comments along the way, but will try to keep that to a minimum. Also, if I leave out some key points or fail to attribute things properly, no offense is meant! As an appetizer to show what it’s all about, let’s feature a vid or two (or three), along with a ping shot for 99: * * * 1. THE BASICS [Edited 12/31/17 to add Baal run tables] So what’s this 99er thing? Level 99 is the highest a character can reach; once the character hits 99, there is no more experience points (XP) to gain. It’s one way of thinking about “completing” the game. What’s the big deal about reaching 99? In v1.10+, it’s a major challenge and commitment of time due to the mechanics of XP gain. In particular, the combination of three XP mechanics make the climb to 99 daunting. First, the amount of XP needed per level escalates at each successive level. For illustration, getting from 10 to 11 takes 18,036 XP points; getting from 50 to 51 takes 5,059,147 XP points; and getting from 90-91 takes 159,218,965 XP points. The table below from the Arreat Summit shows XP needed from 90-99 (full XP table is in the link). Spoiler: XP Table Code: Lvl Total XP XP to Next Lvl 90 1,618,470,619 146,072,446 91 1,764,543,065 159,218,965 92 1,923,762,030 173,548,673 93 2,097,310,703 189,168,053 94 2,286,478,756 206,193,177 95 2,492,671,933 224,750,564 96 2,717,422,497 244,978,115 97 2,962,400,612 267,026,144 98 3,229,426,756 291,058,498 99 3,520,485,254 - So, a character basically needs 2x the XP to get from 98 to 99 as from 90 to 91. Second, there is an XP gain penalty at higher character levels. In essence, starting at level 70, the character gets successively less XP for killing monsters at each new level. As with the amount of XP needed per level, this character-level penalty escalates drastically, ultimately reaching 0.59% at level 98. So that means that level 98 characters get slightly more than ½ a percent of the XP the monster would otherwise give. The table below from the wiki shows the character-level penalty. Spoiler: Character-Level Penalty Table Code: Level Experience Level Experience Level Experience 70 95.31% 80 48.44% 90 5.96% 71 90.63% 81 43.75% 91 4.49% 72 85.94% 82 39.06% 92 3.42% 73 81.25% 83 34.38% 93 2.54% 74 76.56% 84 29.69% 94 1.95% 75 71.**% 85 25.00% 95 1.46% 76 67.19% 86 18.75% 96 1.07% 77 62.50% 87 14.06% 97 0.78% 78 57.81% ** 10.55% 98 0.59% 79 53.13% 89 7.91% 99 --- Third, there is a penalty if a monster’s level is more than 5 levels below the character’s level. Again, this level-difference penalty escalates until it caps out at gaining only 5% of the available XP when the difference is 10 or higher. The table below from the wiki shows the level-difference penalty. Spoiler: Level-Difference Penalty Table Code: lvl diff exp% 6 81% 7 62% 8 43% 9 24% 10+ 5% Boss packs in A85 areas are level **, so that’s the max level-difference penalty. The only three monsters with levels >** are Diablo (level 94), Nihlathak (level 95), and Baal (level 99). Putting it all together, level 98 characters need the maximum XP for that level (more than 290 million), get the max character-level penalty (getting less than 1% of XP from kills), and get no real XP gain except from the three targets above due to max level-difference penalty for all other monsters. At 98, those three targets give roughly 52k (Diablo), 22k (Nihl), and 80k (Baal) per run. (A more exact breakdown and link to handy XP tables is in The Journey section below). For context, the table below shows the number of Baal runs needed for each level from 90 to 99, the total/cumulative runs, and percent of the overall total for each level. The numbers are based on testing by jjscud and Reborn (now in the wiki but from early in the 99er progress thread). Although no longer considered an efficient approach for most characters, Baal runs provide a concrete illustration of how the three XP mechanics make the climb to 99 so steep. Spoiler: Baal Runs for Levels 90-99 Code: Start Lvl End Lvl Baal Runs Total Runs % Complete 90 91 20 20 0.36% 91 92 30 50 0.90% 92 93 45 90 1.63% 93 94 60 155 2.61% 94 95 110 265 4.8% 95 96 210 475 8.6% 96 97 450 925 16.7% 97 98 1100 2025 36.6% 98 99 3500 5525 100% I see. That's a lot of runs. And this doesn't account for character deaths. In Hell, the XP penalty for dying is 10% of the total XP for the character’s level, which is reduced to 2.5% with a successful corpse recovery. A death at high levels, even with corpse recovery, means loss of several hours of running. At 98, a death without corpse recovery means loss of >29M XP. So it takes a while? Various estimates are 50-60 hours for level 97 and then 100-120 hours for level 98 (in v1.13+). It will generally take longer if attempted untwinked. Why do people do this, again? Because it’s fun? Some common reasons that SPFers have mentioned over the years are: (1) it’s a major challenge; (2) it’s a nice goal to take a character all the way to “complete”; (3) early on, many SPFers made the climb through multi-player games and, more recently, through the untwinked challenge, so it’s a way to engage the SPF community; and (4) the journey is lucrative due to the drops that will happen during that many runs. So what’s the history in the SPF around this? That’s actually the next section. Oh, okay! * * * 2. The SPF’s 99er HISTORY As of December 30, 2017, there are 45 documented 99ers. Write ups for almost all of them are included in the quest for level 99 thread, with this post including links to the write-ups (as of December 30, 2017). Of particular interest are the 99ers prior to v1.13. The first 15 were completed before v.1.13 came out; presumably, at least the next several had also made significant progress prior to the patch release. This was the era of OKs with Iron Maiden. So the melee characters are pretty remarkable, and even for casters, IM was dangerous for mercs. Also, it was before respecs, which opened up different leveling strategies with different builds at different stages. Finally, it was before the increased drop rates for runes, so Enigma was much less common. As a result, Baal was generally the target because it was possible to get the throne room without teleport on a good map. As discussed in The Journey section, Baal is the least efficient option for the last level, and generally much less efficient from 94-98 than other options. The time investment was therefore much greater for the early 99ers. There is an interesting discussion within the 8 posts starting here that sum up the evolution from the “early years” to v1.13+. Certainly, the SPF knowledge base has increased, but v1.13 also opened up the possibility to test other targets, particularly CS, because OKs were much less of a threat with IM removed and higher rune drop rates. That said, it’s also interesting to see how some things now taken for granted were learned. It apparently wasn’t until November 2005 (after the first two 99ers were completed and several others were very far into the journey) that the XP cap for Baal (which also applies to Diablo) was discovered. Before that, it looks like everyone killed Baal on p8, even though it gives the same XP as p3, adding lots of time to Baal those runs. A quick breakdown of the classes and builds for the SPF 99ers (as of December 30,2017): Code: Amazon: 7 Assassin: 3 Barbarian: 2 Druid: 1 Necromancer: 2 Paladin: 14 Sorceress: 16 Most common/popular builds (at least 2)*: Code: Hammerdin: 11 Lightning Sorc: 10 Furyzon: 7 Blizz-based Sorc: 6 Trapper Assassin: 3 Summoner Necro: 2 * This may be somewhat misleading due to respecs in v1.13+. For example, Hiatus was pure Blizz until 98, then lightning for the last level.