The Misadventures of Three Sorceress Archmages

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
I also used a lightning wolf for my exploding arrow amazon. Telash did fairly well but he had a crescent moon sword which is fairly powerful stuff for a mercenary.

The (few) people that have used iron wolves and described their experiences seem to generally agree on the following points: Cold wolves are the best because they freeze and they use focused and consistent attacks. They are the most reliable and most effective despite the lower damage numbers. Lightning wolves have the best damage but the charged bolts scatter so much so they don't focus that damage, making them less effective. The fire wolves are the worst, with inferno not only being useless but also making those mages wander close to enemies to get in range which then forces them to flee immediately after due to their skirmish ai.

Personally I see cold wolves having damage potential and lightning wolves can work too, especially thanks to crescent moon, if you have a built that can capitalize on their charged bolts, like area effect or area poisoning attacks of your own. Wilhelmina may actually be able to make a lightning wolf work because she can freeze the enemy long enough for him to safely bolt them at close range. Fire wolves are hopeless, with inferno ruining their damage and behaviour. The only good thing with that is if you actually want them to wander closer to the enemy if you use them as a defense...how fortunate that Wilma is doing just that and has her mighty hydras to deal out all fire damage she needs.
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
9. Terrors of Tristram

The Sorceress Academy is finally restored! Students and teachers flock to its halls once more...except three of the former. Theodora Tape has managed to find the ultimate perilous group assignment to send the WWW to. It turns out that the Zakarumite cathedral of a small town in the western kingdoms houses a labyrinth cellar, leading to some murky catacombs, leading to some damp caves, leading to...in any case, deepest down is a gateway to Hell itself and a corrupt bishop has kidnapped the prince of the realm to house the lord of terror himself, breaking free from the confines of his imprisoning soulstone that has been buried underneath the cathedral.

In any case, adventurers flock to this hovel, Tristram as it is called, and with Vizjerei sorcerers being among them it would not do for the Zann Esu to not be represented as well. Now, if the demons and undead servants of the burning hells can't get rid of Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina she doesn't know who could. Outrageously enough, the WWW cheats in an appalling way and has contracted three unscrupulous mercenary mages - Haphet, Narphet and Vanji to act as henchmen for them.

Together with a banner of rogues under their captain Blood Raven and several default warriors the WWW rampages through the halls of the hellish residents. Spells fly and hideously imbalanced melee attacks rain upon the heroic party of heroes and their moderately obnoxious spellcasters. Finally the lord of terror himself stands before them and everyone screams. Cowards to the core, the WWW take turns attacking, after much fervent debating on whose turn it is.

Wilma teleports close to the demon and casts a weakening curse from a pair of rare gloves she has gambled from a suspicious-looking innkeeper. She follows up with static field and must then run screaming from Diablos lightning, circling in order to close in again. Haphet the fire mage rolls and dodges fire that is used to fight fire, very illogically. Wilma tries to sneak close to cast blizzards and retreat. She then change tactics to sniping with hydras. It is hard to tell which spell is best at hitting the elusive lord of terror. Blizzard strikes immediately but hydras mean more chances to hit with a fire bolt and they can aim on their own. Wilma finally manages to fins a corner and summon hydras around it so Diablo cannot strike back.

Wanja follows up with a much simpler approach, content with setting Diablo on fire from afar. Even though he usually doesn't stay in place for long the fire walls are powerful enough to deal serious damage during that short time. Narphet the cold mage chills out from a distance.

Wilhelmina mimics Wilmas approach and teleports close to strike first with static field. It is a close call when Diablo nearly fries the impetuous witch with his imperial lightning. The force of Vanji the lightning mage is with her though when she hurries away and skirmishes with the demon, darting close to call down a meteor and back again while storms darken the sky. Which was of course a sky, and not dark, previously. Being in the pits of hell and so. A lord of terror can only stand so much insufferable vandalism and wearily disintegrates before the three Prime Insubordinates. The WWW are victorious and both witches and mercenaries have survived the encounter! They can now contently watch as the foremost warrior wisely cuts out the red stone in which the spirit of the lord of terror dwells, and thrusts it into his own head. That will show him!

9w1.jpg
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
10. Concerning Early Sorceress Progress

The early caster sorceress career is in my opinion hampered firstly by a lack of mana and secondly by a lack of skill points that means less damage per mana point that the spell costs. Caster sorceress in this case includes all sorts of damage-dealing by casting spells, which is most of the sorceresses builds. Going for a casting-only approach from the start is tedious and ineffective. Even the earliest bloomers like charged bolt and ice blast need a few levels of focus and a mana pool reinforced by sapphires or Tir runes. Despite this, progress need not necessarily be slow or boring early on. In the forgiving environment of early normal there are a number of underhanded approaches that even a frail witch can make use of.

There aren't many skills that can have a huge impact so early without focus in them, but frost nova is certainly one. It is in my opinion totally game changing in early normal and I can definitely recommend a point in it just for that convenience early on. Static field, our epic boss killer, may be overkill against common enemies but it is quite the bargain against a pack of brutes or goatmen. Probably best used if you are going for a shield setup.

Acquiring a minion...trusted ally...is obviously the first step on the road to world dominion. There isn't terribly much that can be done until that but once she has bludgeoned through the Blood Moor she can usually count on having enough gold to buy large axe or a bardiche and some armor, which will have quite the effect so early on. Investing heavily in strength is thus rewarding. Keep in mind that the sorceress swing very fast with two handed axes and mauls. Javelins and throwing knives are plentiful and quite effective, even though the sorceress is no expert with those speed-wise. The same goes for scepters for those who prefer to have a shield available.

If you prefer to take your time on 8 player settings it is easiest to level up and hire a rogue from Kashya. More impatient witches might want to take on Blood Raven as early as possible. An efficient way to do that is to level up to level 6 and bombard her with poisonous potions which are fairly common in the earlier areas. Since they are thrown in an arc the mob of hungry dead will not be an obstacle and the cloud they cause ensures a fair chance to hit when Blood Raven is standing still. The way to use throwing potions is to herd large groups of monsters together and thanks to the frost novas the sorceress shines. Generally speaking you want to run in a circle around a pack of scattered enemies to make them bunch together.

The WWW did all throw pointy and foul smelling things in every direction until they could hire a rogue after clearing out most of the cold plains. Wilma and Wanja had it easy with their frost novas, being a prerequisite for their cold skills, but Wilhelmina had to do without.

From Act II and onward some casting starts to look mandatory. For the late bloomers that specialize in level 24 and level 30 spells the best options are fiery, thanks to the easily available Leaf rune word. Fire wall can deal respectable damage with just five or six skil points in it, and an early enchant together with some warlike circlet and similar equipment is enough to play as enchantress throughout the act. The even more available Steel rune word is a useful addition. Going ranged, it may be worthwhile to cube an Ort rune in order to craft a Zephyr'd composite bow to quickly deal out damage from a circlet and enchantment. A bow with three Ral runes may deal more damage but the speed and hit rate of Zephyr are important additions as well. The general idea is that spells damage groups of monsters to maximize efficiency and single enemies are slain by the hired help and weapons to conserve mana. Last but not least, having teleporting available opens the door for all sorts of interesting maneuvers to separate unravelers from their minions and similar things.

The WWW all used leaf staves and one or two magical ones before that to get a workable spell for early groups. Together with frost novas and ice blasts and their rogues, no enemy pack was really very troublesome.
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
11. Spelling Snow

The autumnly autumn of Tristram gives way to winter, and the WWW return in triumph to the sorceress academy with a finished report from their group project, titled "Burn you all to Hel - a case study of applied elements and practical evocation".

While professor Theodora Tape is tearing her hair in dismay over the return of the insufferable brats, the WWW are somewhat grudgingly awarded their diplomas for having passed the basic elemental magics courses of the academy, the Zann Esu Elementary. The next step on the road towards becoming a full-fledged sorceress is to apprenctice oneself to a mage to learn from the tutors specialized skills. Influential sorceresses are highly sought by ambitious apprentices and cultivate their present and future influence meticulously. Being an influencer is the pinnacle of trendiness and popularity.

The requirement that an apprentice should choose, mimic and aspire to become like, a senior sorceress has been regarded as so obvious that it has never needed to be formally codified. On paper, one need only find a spellcaster of some sort. Surely no one but a sorceress can properly instruct the green n00b in the finer points of spellcasting.

Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina promptly proceeds to shock the entire academy by blatantly breaching this established convention. Instead of a stale and stuffy elder witch, they each submit their respective mercenary mage as tutor, having maintained their employment by means of looted treasure from the dungeons below Tristram. The academy is forced to accept this irresponsible decision but some mutter that it is just as well that none of the distinguished senior sorceresses need to experience the displeasure of dealing with the WWW.

Being the employer of their so-called "mentors", the fresh apprentices begin their terms with moderate fervor. As the other students struggle frantically to keep up with the tasks and expectations of their assigned sorceress, the WWW begin the coming year with a long, long winter holiday skiing and snowball fighting with telekinesis and teleporting.

While none of them would stoop so low as to actually study, in the way the school expects, the WWW are easily bored and busy themselves by researching and practicing some of their favourite destructive spells. While certainly not in any way obedient or serving, the witches seem to be inspired in a way by their respective hired mage.

Wilma has managed to summon and befriend five absolutely adorable hydras. They do of course immediately take to Haphet, being a fire mage, and he shrewdly points out the benefits of having someone else do fireball-casting while you yourself laugh manically from afar. Especially if the caster in question is a fiery three-headed dragon impervious to enemy weapons and spells...

11w1.JPG

Narphet is a cool fellow, always knowing what to say against wise guys and self-proclaimed advisors of their neighbours and nexts. When the enemy is frozen or chilled, the caster can chill out and do a precautionary sweep of the surrounding areas, while taking the time to invent a devastating retort or insult. Wanja notes the merit and also the fact that frozen orbs offer intriguing opportunities in the perpetual snowball wars against Wilma and Wilhelmina.

11w2.jpg

Vanji has been assigned to be the companies chef. The vote was unanimous after the presentation of his spicy hallmark specialty "Spinach Vanji", served with sticky Kurast rice and the circular Van' bread. The voters do however not meet his signature greeting with quite as much enthusiasm. You can only stomach so much of "Hellooo witches! How's it going?". Vanjis nerdy affinity for electrics is far more appreciated, especially by Wilhelmina who has become quite fascinated by thunder storms. Imagine if one could conjure a lightning flash and a thunderclap just as professor Tape was going to bed? Priceless!

11w3.jpg

Life is awesome in the northlands once you have made it through a hellish hell. Everything is easy and you can feel your skills improving almost daily.
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
12. Concerning Statistics and Equipment

Well, now the WWW are in a living nightmare and thus having the time of their lives like the material snobs they are. Like any true Diablo II player their keepers thoughts revolve around the fundamental philosophical question of life: what sort of equipment should they aim to procure and where would be most efficient to hunt for it?

As I have hinted before, I don't count on finding any armor more useful than Smoke. As for headgear, the obvious dreamy goal is some kind of insanely overpowered circlet. Although...it is a bit boring if they all wear the same kind of headgear, isn't it? Lowering the expectations a skill level or so leaves one with looking at the well balanced Lore rune word, which is also a bargain. It has the very welcome lightning resistance to save the WWW from gloams and beetles that cover the screen with sparks. Now, with both hat and coat being rune words, the witches can look the part. Wilma will aim for the finest and flashiest gilded elegance, so a full plate it is. She will aim to crown it with an equally golden crown. Wanja finds it dull and goes for the metal spellpunk look, achieved from scale mail. Completing the vision of badass rebel witch will be a bone helm, whose horns are in fact slightly grey and matches the iron. Wilhelmina yawns at the posers and chills out in common clothing and an unrestricting circlet instead. She will thereby have a chance to get far superior bonuses from her hat.

With +3 to all skills from the Memory staves, +1 from the hat and a modest expectation of +1 from an amulet the astute observer will conclude that the WWW will be expected to make do with a meager +5 to all skills together with whatever staff mods comes from the staff itself and possibly a skill charm or two if they are lucky. I expect to need to dedicate all other equipment towards defense and mana. The latter is the object of a lot of consideration. How much mana is optimal to aim for?

Can you have too much? Probably not. Even past the point of casting more or less indefinitely, mana is always required for the energy shield, not least by those who lack its economical improvement from the telekinesis synergy. Lowering the expectations to something approaching the reality of untwinked play, is there then some threshold or limit past which more mana investment becomes significantly less useful? I'm not nearly experienced enough to know beforehand how much mana will be required to cast enough of the main spells of the WWW to knock out the typical enemy pack. Another factor is however the effect of the available mana potions. If you have at least as much mana as can be restored by the local mana potions you end up with a decent economical balance early on I found out. At least 80 mana by Act II, 160 y Act III and above 200 by Act V has been what I aimed for in normal, which worked out surprisingly well.

I have initially kept one of each lower rune and chipped gem, anticipating the ability to cube up some runes to speed the way towards the first Lum. Unfortunately I have also hoarded magic finding setups for each of the three, without really thinking about it. The stashes are now growing full and I realize there won't be room for both approaches. I am leaning towards throwing the runes out and dealing with the hassle of having to dig up any missing lower rune later in the game. While my equipment ideas are mostly based on rune words and socketed magic items for the iron wolves, there are a few really cool unique items that would add variety, and stuff like the iron pelt or skin of the vipermagi would be godly for the hired help.

The WWW will prioritize vitality, while investing just enough strength to wear their ideal equipment. That being more precisely 63 strength to be bale to use any staff in the game. However, with their different fashion ideas, Wilma finds herself camping at the academy gymnasium a bit more than the others, going for no less than 80 strength to be able to don her gilded full plate. The weeds Wanja and Wilhelmina will do some silly gymnastics or something and invest 17 more points into dexterity instead to keep even. By now, some sort of endgame shopping list...eeeh, equipment plan and specification...is starting to take form.

Hat: Lore or comparable rare circlet.
Coat: Smoke armor.
Staff: Memory.

All these will be comparatively easy to come by.

Amulet: +1 to all skills and preferably tons resistances, life, mana, regeneration...
Rings: Hugely important sources of mana, and resistances, and regeneration...

These will decide a lot. The potential of rare and crafted jewelry is nearly limitless. Finding it is another matter.

Gloves: Unique caster gloves would be stylish, rare resistance gloves would be needed.
Belt: Some rare thing with resistances and life, perhaps even a magical with huge life.
Boots: Rare boots with huge resistances. Running speed is nice but not vital thanks to teleport.

These spots will have to fill much of the need for resistances. It would be extremely stylish if one witch wore the magefist and another the frostburn gloves. Crafted blood boots would be interesting for the added regeneration.

Life: 1000.
Mana: 500.

This is high for untwinked play, but not impossible with good rolls on some charms and jewelry. This is a somewhat loose goal. Damage reduction can compensate for lower life and I might find the WWW doing find with less mana.

Fire resistance: 75.
Cold resistance: 50.
Lightning resistance: 75.
Poison resistance: 10.

This can probably be managed, but the real question is at what expense?

Regeneration: 10.
Physical or magic damage reduction: 20.

This is the fun stuff that makes a character enjoyable and comfortable to play. I am addicted to regeneration in Diablo II and having it somehow makes me play a character much smarter. 10 will be noticeable but more would be very welcome. Damage reduction just owns, because it lets you maneuver much more unhindered and shoot where you cause the most trouble.
 
Last edited:

ioupainmax

Diabloii.Net Member
This is one of my favourite threads, I love Sorceresses, archmages and staff-wielding characters - this ticks so many boxes.

I have a quintessential sorceress called Isendra that is a staff-wielding archmage. I'm just waiting for a Mang Song's Lesson to drop...:rolleyes:
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
13. Magic Monday

Heretically enough, even winter vacations come to an end. What a nightmare. Back in the bleak and dull confines of the Sorceress Academy the WWW entertain themselves in whatever ways they can. They have heard rumors about a new safe delivered to professor Tapes office, presumably containing scandalous correspondence and arcane artifacts. It would be a stimulating group activity trying to reach that safe. Unfortunately it is placed in the cellar underneath her office and the only passage is through a long, straight tunnel with no cover at all. Even for an intruder that could teleport, it is all but impossible to avoid being spotted, and Theodora Tape is bound to have sentries and watchers guarding that passage. There is simply no way to approach save through the passage once you have entered by the stairs down just in front of it. Just like a dungeon of demonic or undead lordlings, when one thinks about it.

This ingenious design can only be the work of the foremost security sorcery firm - Franzesca Jaeger. The Franzesca Jaeger safes are world famous. Only the foremost adventurers repeatedly taking up insane challenges, such as the @jiansonz band, are believed to ever pose a threat to such deposits. Indeed, the tip about the safe is more than a little bit suspect. What if...what if it is in fact leaked by professor Tape in the first place? To lure Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina to try to crack a true Franzesca Jaeger safe and be caught in the act, and thus expelled from the academy? It would be just like that stuffy old desert wing bat! The WWW will not tolerate such provocations and promptly decides to break into the safe, just to show her. But how? There is simply no way to approach undetected through that long passage and even with the fastest cast rate possible to potentially teleport past prying eyes they would still be stuck trying to melt or freeze the safe for ages. However...the WWW do have those old building plans. They show that the areas around the passage and safe are rock and earth, with no other rooms, which makes it safe from surprise teleporting. But it is also safe to say that the safe location of the safe makes it safe from detection if one should decide that the academy needed an extra underground room or two, or perhaps a tunnel that happened to lead to the safe from an unexpected direction...

The witches have a plan. A brilliant plan. Everything is well timed and ready, to the smallest detail. They will tunnel parallel to the main entrance but at a safe distance to keep sounds minimal. Then they turn around and tunnel to breach the safe from behind. Approaching undetected will give them time to freeze the metal and crack it apart with telekinesis. But the work required is grueling! First they have to dig a deep shaft, so that the tunnel will go steadily upwards. That way they can construct a small rail and have a tiny mining wagon rolling down to the shaft with dug out rock and earth. Digging through earth is easy with telekinesis but takes such a time. Rock and stones are another matter. They must be cracked by heating and cooling the stone until it breaks. A slog of ice and fire awaits. Will such and endless crawl ever end?

13w1.JPEG

And so Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina go to work, masking their insubordinate intentions as deepened studies while they go to stupefying lengths to thwart the school rules in general and professor Tape in particular. They smile mischievously and glance from one side to the other in a most suspicious and shifty manner. It's just another magic Monday for the WWW.

Wilma:

Six o'clock already
I was just in the middle of a dream
I was kissing with Haphet
While my hydras were blushing off-screen

But I can't be late
'Cause our fine plans have just been laid
These are the days
When you wish that your tunnel was made

It's just another magic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
'Cause that's my fun day
My I don't have to run day
It's just another magic Monday

Wanja:

Have to catch the mining train
Rolling down the rail just fine
And if I had a flying mount
I still couldn't make it on time

It takes the writer so long
Just to figure out what we're gonna wear
Blame it on the train
Wilhelmina is already there

It's just another magic Monday
I wish it was Tuesday
'Cause that's my ruse day
My pranks to choose day
It's just another magic Monday

Wilhelmina:

Of all of my nights
Why did the others have to pick last night to get down?
Late night, last night
Doesn't it matter that I work for the three of us
Employment's down

We try out our new arch-angels toys
I hope no one will hear all the noise
Digs isn't going fast
Mornings aren't fun

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it was Friday
'Cause that's my ride day
My kayak won't be dry day

It's just another manic Monday
All about one day
Boring I dare say
It's just another manic Monday
 
Last edited:

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
Pleased to be of service. Especially after reading your dreadful work description in the daily thread. Apart from bike distance to home that could pretty much have been the summary of my job too. Uncanny :eek:.
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
14. Sky Trek: Exorcise

In the Sorceress Academy, both studies and mining operations have been put on hold for the moment. Not only is it Saturday, but an extremely important delivery by gloombat order has arrived!

"Nyyyooomm! Nyyyooomm!"

The federation sky ship Exorcise is on a super secret mission to explore the remote badlands of Tamoe. All is well on board but - oh dear! It is the mating season of the sky elves and sky elf first mate Spork is gripped by the porn fare. How will the brave captain Quirk deal with the situation?

To the delight of the lightning mastering Wilhelmina, the Exorcise comes with a set of copper wire and nails of copper and iron. They can be connected to lemons to power the lamps of the Exorcise. Wilhelmina is quick to conclude that most acidic fruits or vegetables should work too.

Wanja is not too pleased about this. Lemons should be used for lemonade or lemon sorbet or some other cool thing, which Wanja would know, being the master of cold among them.

"You are such a geek, Wilhelmina. Can't we use potatoes or something instead for the lights?"

Unfortunately the potatoes are reserved.

"No way! We're making salty chips with those! The potatoes are a hot potato."

"And you're a crazy potato, Wilma."

With the chips hotly defended by the master of fire, it seems the whole spectrum of nutritious ingredients in the WWW:s quarters are reserved for boring things such as eating. There is nothing left to do except raiding the teachers larder for yucky limey green lime things. They will practically be doing professor Tape and the rest a favor who won't have to eat such icky limey things. Wilma promises to cook hot chocolate for all once they are done.

After a brief detour towards the nether skies of eternal darkness, the Exorcise can resume its mission powered by the valuable fuel source that the crew has picked up. Although the crew seems to have grown to include both captain Jane Way the coffee addict and Seven past Nine, partly clock, partly human. They are really from the later Sky Trek editions. But...since when have the WWW really cared for such rules or conventions?

"Captain Quirk! Magical spyglasses have picked up another sky ship!"

"Very good Mister Spork, put in on crystal ball."

"There it is. The signature is not consistent with any known faction in this quadrant. It could be a scout for the clingy cling-ons, or perhaps the card-ass union!"

"Card-assians? I would have expected mules but not asses."

"That would be the Borg, sir. Their goal is to assimilate everyone to become a mule in their great collective, carrying their items like a droning NPC."

"Ha! We'll see about that. Activate the Emergency Meteorical Hologram, Mister Spork!

"Please state the nature of the magical emergency."
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
15. Current Nightmare Progress

The WWW have survived half the game without losing a single hireling and defeated nightmare Mephisto at about level 60. Not too bad for a supposedly underpowered kind of build and mercenary type. Both Wilma and Wanja happened to obtain optimal maps to hunt Mephisto as well, insanely lucky.

15w1.JPEG

15w2.JPEG

I am not sure whether it is wise to take advantage of that, though. Even with the opportunity to use the moat to keep the distance to him, Mephisto is still an act boss and poses a quite real threat to the hirelings. Wilma would be best suited for the task with the range advantage from the hydras. Wilma could probably use fire wall to good effect but would need to go closer to cast it at the right place and angle. It is in any case a matter to be decided later since none of them have magic finding gear ready.

When speaking of magic finding, the most dearly missed items are Lum runes. None have found any and they need two each, one for a memory staff and one for a Smoke armor. It is possible that the hellforge will yield one, or something else useful. With only casters my normal priorities are a bit off. I consider a Lem, Pul or Um a decisive find, in the sense that once found I am sure the character can beat hell. For the WWW the needs are somewhat different. Pul would be fun to try out the Enlightenment rune word, which actually has some defensive ability as well. Um would be cool for Wilhelmina so Vanji could have Crescent Moon. As for all the combat abilities that may open up, especially since Wilma has already found a Lem rune earlier, I see the witches needing to apply Prevent Monster Heal and slowing on dangerous bosses, and preferably from a range. That limits the applicability of Lem, Um and Pul runes for weapons and weapon damage but I wouldn't rule them out completely.

Spell damage is quite adequate so far, and the witches have decent resistances, mana and skill bonuses from their current equipment. The hirelings could use more damage reduction and especially the assistance of weaken curses from the mentioned Smoke armors.

The next step will probably be to complete Act IV. I am too eager to see what the hellforge drops to do anything else, and once there I'll probably want to get the dreadful meeting with Diablo over with. Against him no damage reduction in the world will make much difference for the iron wolves so there's little point in collecting Sol runes and such before.
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
16. Recurring Nightmare Progress

They all made it! Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina have all defeated nightmare Diablo without losing a single mercenary! This is a personal record in keeping iron wolves alive and with a little luck and much conscientious attention to detail they may very well survive until hell.

Diablo was quite scary as his title implies. I found it best to try and hide behind the eastern corner between lord de Seis wing and the infectors wing. By staying close enough to the corner the witches would lure Diablo to keep casting scary spells but with the wall in the way they did little and the witches could run out to cast a meteor or fire wall and then jump back behind the cover before any mercenary came to harm. Wilma did of course have it even easier as hydras allowed her to stay back behind her cover and attack from afar.

Diablo dropped the Deathbit exceptional throwing knives for Wilhelmina. They have some attack rating and she also found a charm of Anthrax. Sadly not a Castle Anthrax which would have been funnier for her. That may allow her to keep resistant enemies poisoned form afar, I don't know. I stashed the knives in any case. Apart from that nothing of note rewarded the shaken witches but nobody cares since the endless plundering and experience gains of Act V now lies ahead and both Wilma and Wanja have perfect maps to reach Mephisto.

The Hellforge was a mocking disappointment! What interesting rune did Wilma get if not...a Ko rune. It means cow in Swedish and was obviously intended to be not only useless but also an insult to her character.

16w1.JPEG

Wanja, then. A Pul rune, which would be great and unlock the interesting Enlightenment rune word, were it not for the fact that Wanja is using SCALE MAIL that can only have two sockets! The taunting. She could theoretically have stood a chance of discovering an exceptional or elite suit of scales but since this is Diablo II the game knows I want to find such an armor and consequently it will not drop for Wanja ever but many times for the other characters. And of course Wanja found a Ko rune earlier from a common monster...

16w2.JPEG

Fine, to the unbearably optimsitic Wanja is halfway through to a Heart of the Oak staff which would be the ultimate and I have found a Vex rune twice before if I recall correct, but just drop those silly ideas. Actually, if she found the unique long staff Serpent Lord it would be very interesting to upgrade it and socket with an Eth rune to steal back her mana from frozen enemies.

Lastly Wilhelmina would receive...ANOTHER Ko rune, and not only that but she had got one before as well. Hephasto, you do what the overgrown mosquitos of Act III do! Screw you!

16w3.JPEG

Now on to gather some levels or runes or magical items or anything else more fun that visiting that overly hyped tourist trap. I will have those Lum runes even if I have to cube them up from Dols and Hels!
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
17. Graduation Day
The safe has been breached! But alas, not only must professor Tape have hidden her foul plans and plots elsewhere, but some of the ice from the cold spells used to weaken the safe has melted and leaked into it and smeared the ink on some of the documents. The headline and logotype of one particularly curious paper is beyond recognition.

"Dear professor Tape,

Thank You for choosing ANTS to assist with the elimination of Your magical or supernatural causes of trouble. We have received the stipulated pre-payment and our staff will be deployed in approximately one months time as per Your request. We have no doubt that we will be able to make all Your magical troubles swiftly disappear.

Natalya"

A mysterious note indeed. Why would Theodora Tape hire ants?

The WWW have little time to debate and meditate over the subject for the term is soon ending and it's nothing less than graduation day! Hurry up! It's graduation day!

WWW:
The world is open!
So’s that door!
No more studying anymore!
No one to yell "you're eighty minutes late!"

For years we’ve roamed these empty halls
What's wrong with a little fire balls?
Finally they’re opening up the gates!

There’ll be actual real world people
It’ll be totally strange
But wow! Am I so ready for this change!

’Cause for the first time in forever
There’ll be magic, there’ll be light!
For the first time in forever
We’ll be dancing through the night
We'll plunder the snacks and the beverage
They're somewhere in that zone!
’Cause for the first time in forever
Schoolwork's left alone

I can’t wait to meet everyone!
But Wilma has likely met THE ONE

Tonight, imagine her plate and all
Fetchingly draped against the wall
The picture of sophisticated grace…not
She suddenly sees us standing there
An ambushing danger, how unfair
We're gonna throw some chocolate in her face!

But then we laugh and talk all evening
And be totally bizarre
Nothing like the life I’ve led so far!

For the first time in forever
There’ll be magic, there’ll be fun!
For the first time in forever
I am noticed by someone
And I know it is totally crazy
To dream I’d find romance
But for the first time in forever
Now I have my chance!

Professor Tape:
We let them in
Why didn't we see?
Be the bad girls
You always had to be
Conceal
Don’t feel
Put on a show…
Make one wrong move
And everyone will know

But it’s only for today

WWW:
It’s only one more day!

Professor Tape:
It’s agony to wait

WWW:
It’s agony to wait!

Professor Tape:
Tell the staff to open up the gate!

WWW:
The gate!!!
For the first time in forever

Professor Tape:
Don’t let them win, don’t let them see

WWW:
I’m getting what I’m dreaming of!

Professor Tape:
Be the bad girls you always have to be

WWW:
We'll bring magic to the world

Professor Tape:
Conceal

WWW:
Our chips are heating on the stove!

Professor Tape:
Conceal, don’t feel
Don’t let them know

WWW:
I know it all ends tomorrow
The last pranks must be today!
’Cause for the first time in forever
For the first time in forever
Nothing’s in our way!!!

The Sorceress Academy laugh and cheer as the terror of the three is finally over. The teachers and janitors not the least eager to celebrate the grand occasion. The WWW have passed in all their three fields but like most students their skills and talents are not evenly distributed. Wilma and Wanja both favour cold and fire spells, and to compete against one another in the casting of those, but are mediocre when it comes to lightning. Wilhelmina is at home with lightning spells and fire spells but has much left to learn about focusing cold. It should come as no surprise that the geeky Sky Trek witch appreciates thunder storms and meteors that fall from the sky.

The Nightmare of education under professor Theodora Tape is over.

The Hell of finding work in the corrupted job market of Sanctuary begins.
 
Last edited:

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
18. Nightmare Looting Evaluation
So, let's ramble and rant about the material progress in nightmare. Did the predictions prove true and the planning prove sound?

1000 life and 500 mana is, I still think, an attainable and preferable goal. Two of the witches has about that amount of mana, thanks to Frostburn gauntlets mostly, and it feels like a sufficient amount to wage war somewhat comfortably in early Hell at least. None of them has that much life which is a little disappointing although it would have required quite a lot out of their charms.

The WWW failed to easily obtain the expected Smoke armours and Memory staves because of a combination of abysmal luck with those runes and my own slightly compulsive collection of magic finding equipment. I failed to take into account how hard it would be to collect the fairly low level equipment that was the plan and overestimated the amount of staves that would drop. Magic finding and rune word focus is in the case of the WWW mutually exclusive since you want to find non-magical base items to put the runes in.

This would have been no big issue if unique staves had been as common than I expected but in the event none found an exceptional unique staff, or Serpent Lord which would have been sort of funny. At least Wilhelmina had a strike of phenomenal and much needed luck in finding the Spirit Shroud just after I had wasted the second socketing reward.

What I should have been doing is to focus completely on runes and gambling to fill in the rest, together with picking up crafting materials and such to add nice jewellery. Hel runes are so much more common than Io runes that those should have been collected and kept to work my way up to a Lum.

Playing through nightmare on one player setting most of the time was probably right, it would have been too slow and tense otherwise and thereby risk of losing one of the iron wolves which I want to avoid as long as possible. Undefeated throughout the game so far, Haphet, Narphet and Vanji have performed impressively for being such an underestimated class of mercenaries.

Amulets with skill levels have been much rarer than expected but crafted items have on the other hand been a welcome surprise.

Currently the WWW are equipped as follows.


Wilma
Arch-Angels Cedar Staff of Lower Resistance/Hel Wilmas Buriza-Do Kyanon
Lore Crown
Lionheart Gothic Plate

Hwanins Blessing Belt
Wilmas Frostburn
Loath Spur Battle Boots
Death Heart Amulet
Blood Master Ring
Shadow Knot Ring

Extra equipment
Smoke Field Plate
Amulet of Life Everlasting

Haphet
Jeweled (44 Cold Resistance, 55 Lightning resistance) Crystal Sword
SolRalSol Large Shield
Circlet of Life Everlasting
Treachery Gothic Plate

Strengths and weaknesses
While high on mana, Wilma is behind on skill levels but going with lower resistance as main curse will make up for that loss of damage if need be. She found a burning grand charm that her hydras liked. And of course there is that overgrown piece of artillery (a ballista indeed...) that takes up half her equipment. One shot will stop regeneration and then it is only a matter of time and timely teleports to get into position to win with even the undeveloped chain lightning. Her resistances could use some improvement and her amulet is a weak point in this regard that will hopefully be replaced sometime later before spectral hit gloam lightning starts flying.

19w1.JPEG

19w2.JPEG

Haphet is the least protected against physical threats with only 34 PDR but if fade triggers he gains some damage reduction that evens it out, and of course a good margin of elemental resistance. Not that Wilma will let him tank conviction bosses any century soon.


Wanja
Memory Battle Staff/Hel Wanjas Riphook

Nadir Bone helm
Enlightenment Tigulated Mail

Plague Clasp Plated Belt
Wanjas Magefist
Cruel Trample Demonhide Boots
Prismatic Amulet of Regrowth
Viper Eye Ring
Dread Grasp Ring

Extra equipment
Hailstone Crook Quarterstaff (Lower Resistance)
Ocher Amulet of Grim Ward

Narphet
Jeweled (26 Fire resistance) Ginthers Rift Dimensional Blade
SolSol Mosers Blessed Circle

Lore Bone Helm
SolSolSolSol
Full Plate

Strengths and weaknesses
Resistant and offensively highly skilled, Wanja is lower on life and mana and severely restricted by her limited magical ammunition. Nadir and one of her rings are currently necessary to wear the armour and use Riphook but with a couple of levels she can use the Lore bone helm and another ring with a bit more mana or life. Possibly Wanja will be better off replacing Riphook with the rare staff to gain access to a curse and reserve her archery for the enemy elite. Her lightning is her weak point but thunder storm from the staff adds a little more and poison from the charms allow her to stop regeneration for a while, provided she can hit.

19w3.JPEG

19w4.JPEG

Narphet is probably the best equipped mercenary with 49 PDR and 11 MDR together with a good level of resistances. That will serve him well as he accompanies Wanja on close range assaults to make the most of her limited mana and costly spells. If Wanja decides to grab the Lore bone helm Narphet will need new headgear, preferably something similar.


Wilhelmina
Memory Battle Staff/Spellsteel
Ort
Hailstone Circlet Circlet
The Spirit Shroud
Wilhelminas Nightsmoke
Frostburn

Amber Light Plated Boots of Acceleration
Havoc Clasp Amulet
Bahamuts Ring of Regeneration
Grim Eye Ring

Extra equipment

Nadir Circlet
Gnarled Staff of Lower Resistance
Black Barbed Club

Vanji
Jeweled (23 Cold Resistance, 26 Lightning Resistance, 9 Fire Resistance) Crystal Sword
SolRal Chromatic Bone Shield of Amicae
SolSolSol Artisans Mask of the Fox
SolSolSol Gothic Plate

Strengths and weaknesses
Chronically underestimated by the chronicler, Wilhelmina is undeserving of that sentiment with the highest life and mana and decent resistance, especially against the most dangerous lightning. She has access to the most extra tricks and the highest skill levels, and should be able to find something useful for every situation. The problem will rather be to use all those options effectively. With more evenly distributed skill points and access to decrepify and lower resistance, no barbaric weapon-wielding will be necessary to put monsters in their place.

19w5.JPEG

19w6.JPEG

Vanjis equipment is, as the attentive reader will register, scandalously crude with only three runes in the plate and insufficient fire resistance from the sword. One more fire resistance jewel for the last free spot in the sword will free up a spot in the shield for another Sol and if Wilhelmina could find a plate with four sockets and some more Sols Vanji would gain an additional 14 PDR, a not insignificant increase. Still, at 63 PDR he is already ready to stand up to many monsters long enough for a meteor to fall on their heads, not least after said monster has felt the icy flame of decrepification creep upon it.

Every witch possess regeneration, lower resistance and a mercenary with heavy defensive gear. So far so good. They are better prepared than most of my characters have been at this point in the game. Wilmas lack of cloak of shadows is not yet a cause for concern but maybe it was a mistake to not make a Nadir crown for her too. Strictly speaking she will only need it against stairtraps as hydra sniping or glacial spike freezing ought to keep mobs away so long as she has some space to work with. Another possible option is to use the Smoke armour and weaken lurking enemies as a safety measure but that won't stop her from being mobbed and interrupted.

Onwards toward the looting of a better amulet and a nadir crown for Wilma, mana rings for Wanja and improved mercenary defenses for Wilhelmina.
 
Last edited:

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
19. The Rogue Camp
Working experience this, extra-curricular activities that, the employment market of Sanctuary does what the Kurast mosquitoes do, twice over! The only ones hired before their studies are complete and able to obtain that experience are the ones with corrupted personal contacts who would be hired due to them anyway. Screw all that. Maybe private enterprising is the way to go these days?

The WWW decide to consult some of the mind-numbingly boring posters with such advertisements.

"Bring me 8 quill rat quills and you shall be amply rewarded with 50 100 400 gold coins.

Quest Giver 1
Box 123
17554 n00bville
"

What kind of alms is that for a reward, and what a ridiculous quest as well! What sort of heroes in what sort of world would accept that errand girl task?

"Bring me 9 tainted tongues, 8 carvers ears, 4 wendigo pelts and 1 steel scarabs left front claw. In return, I shall grant you a magnificent reward of 340 560 780 gold

Quest Giver 2
Box 456
16566 pwnton
"

Sigh.

But finally on a tattered notice board the WWW find a small poster.

"Mercenary demon slayers and undead hunters needed. Overrun monastic order offers Letter of Magical Marque to anyone willing to help us. All loot except for order relic may be kept and sold for revenue by private contractors.

Please apply as soon as convenient as we may not be around to hire anyone otherwise.

The Order of the Sightless Eye

Rogue Camp
Eastern Caravan Road 102 C
Tamoe Lowlands
"

Letters of Magical Marque issued by a state not in control of the realm... Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina are only swayed by the ominous looking black holes that once were the inner contents of their gold purses. Gathering their belongings they set out for the rainy homelands of the rogue scouts.

The rogues are as good as their advertisement and the formalities are quickly dealt with, especially since the camp is assaulted by a band of quill rats at the same time. They are too unimaginative to go past the palisade fence, though, and Wilmas hydras eat them.

The chief concern of the rogues are the many foes in the nearby Den of Evil. The bad guys live there. If you did not catch that. If the name was, say, a bit too ambiguous or open to conflicting interpretations.

In the Blood Moor Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina have no particular troubles and can somewhat surprisingly conclude that their magical education can be put to entertaining and amusing use. The Den is marked by obnoxious graffiti obviously made by the uncivilised fallen ones.

19w1.JPEG

The cunning Iron Wolves quickly prove their superior tactical insight compared to wood-headed town guards or cabbage-brained barbarians. When a big, hairy hooligan monster raises its arms to smash them to a pulp, they run out of the way! The brilliance is dazzling, and the enemy is left burning up for nothing.

19w2.JPEG

With teleporting and ranged attacks, the sorceress is a rewarding employer to work for if she is responsible enough to care for her mercenary. For whatever personality flaws the WWW may have, they will not leave their iron wolves unattended like amateur first graders would. Frozen foes litter their path.

19w3.JPEG

The shuffling commander of the demonic and undead host, Corpsefire, is too slow and lazy to react in time to organize an effective defense. The Blood Moor has fallen and the WWW have suffered no casualties.
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
20. The Cold Plains
The WWW have arrived to the less than invitingly named Cold Plains and after the early successes decided to split up to cover more ground effectively. It is up to Wilma to present the preliminary studies of the ecology and ethnography of the next region. The structured miscreants are taking turns to chair their operational meetings as it is very democratic and promotes the spirit of shared chaired responsibility. Also, the witches can only afford one chair at the moment.

"We are looking at the largest concentration of the fallen ones, bringing us to the first objective - the fiery high shaman Bishibosh. His camp is somewhere in the plains and will include other shamans and large numbers of common fallen. Freezing them is of primary importance and cold damage is generally preferable. For that reason Wanja and Narphet will destroy those shamans.

"The plains are otherwise populated by large numbers of corrupted rogues as well as the brutish wendigos, very resilient to cold. The rogues pose the greater problem due to their speed and thereby greater damage as well as a group since more of them will close in to hit us in less time. Here, have some more bread while it is still warm. We need to buy more chocolate too. Our supplies are critically low and Gheeds prices are extortionate. He won't even show what is in the box, so you have to buy three or four to make sure you do not end up with coffee or tea or some other useless junk. It's all quite the gamble."

"Our two next objectives is eliminating Coldcrow and Blood Raven."

"..."

"What is this, the great bird watchers plains?"

"We should hit the Darkwinged Duck too!"

"And Uncle Scrooge, that ought to pay off well!"

Somewhere along this path of the discussion it took a long detour. Almost to the point of degenerating into the corrupted insults of the featherbrained corrupted rogues - twittering. As wise and experienced travellers like Warriv could attest, only idiots like Gheed think that twitterers are bold.

Thus briefed and prepared, Wilma sets out to invade the caves, where hydras thrive. Dragons are at home in caves as everyone knows. More to the point, hydras are excellent scouts and the confined spaces ensure that there isn't much risk of being flanked by an overlooked enemy pack as in the vast wilderness areas outside. There are also several corners and obstacles that can be used to stay safe while your adorable pets eat. Haphet is practically on fire on occasion but sometimes he just fades from sight.

20w1.JPEG

20w2.JPEG

The second level of the cave is a narrow and restricted path, quite dangerous if you should be swarmed by lots of cold immune enemies or even one mean boss or champion pack. In this case the swarmed hero could perhaps teleport south or east if desperate but it would be preferable not to, and is not needed.

20w3.JPEG

Coldcrow herself is eaten somewhere around a corner.

Wanjas assignment is over before it has truly begun, for Bishibosh has made his camp right next to the waypoint, no doubt in the hope of taking cheap snipes at heroes emergingf from the transportation network hub unaware of his impending ambush. He is therefore quite the camper and very unsportsmanlike, meaning of course unsportsdevillike. Wanjas frozen orbs put his minons in their place, which is the ground, and contribute to the cold plains remaining the cold plains.

So far Wanjas frozen orb has proven to be much superior to Wilmas blizzard since it is far more reliable to hit enemies with. Blizzards damage potential against crowds is still notable but Wilmas dependency on it even for single enemies, except the odd fallen she can finish with her crossbow, brings forth the worst of the annoying inability to hit a specific enemy when you need it.

20w4.JPEG

Wilhelmina is somewhat peculiarly assigned Blood Raven. While her meteors crush the undead hordes the hostess herself is not what you would call a stationary target. Luckily Wilhelmina is familiar with the Sky Trek episode where Mister Spork must fend off the rabid vendors of the Vendengii and their market tents sprouting like weeds all over the ground. The heroes sublime and graceful solution to rid them of the assailants is called carpet bombing, which Wilhelmina finds to be quite useful in order to deal with Blood Raven. As a complement to just standing still and letting the thunder storm strike her down, that is.

20w5.JPEG

Most of the assembled army lairs underground. It is well that the witches has picked the right people for the assignment of clearing out the crypts.

20w6.JPEG

The Cold Plains has fallen to the WWW. Wilma has found a four socket full plate that may be useful for Haphet if she can find Sol runes for it. He already has good resistances without fade and 28 PDR will be more useful than 15 % DR most of the times. On the other hand it is a unique look to have fade and if Wilma could make use of the venom in some way, most likely by gaining strength enough to shoot with her crossbow even without the Lionheart armour, it is very useful to have a servant carrying the switch armour for you. Haphet does not need to be reminded of the similarity with a caddie carrying the golf clubs or a piccolo carrying the bags.

Wilhelmina has found a jewellers ancient armour of the squid for sale from Gheed, an excellent upgrade for Vanji if she can find four Sol runes. She also found a tiara that could make a stylish hat if imbued by a skilled smith. Perhaps there is someone nearby that can be persuaded to give it a try.
 

Maltatai

Diabloii.Net Member
21. The Search for Cain
"It is clear that we are facing an evil difficult to comprehend, let alone combat..."

No, actually it isn't. Demons ravage the world in service of the burning hells and the undead are their allies or minions. This is all a fairly straightforward military conquest. We witches eliminate the enemy and loot their belongings to sell for a decent profit. Couldn't be simpler. Magic is might and might is right.

Or is it that magic is right and might, and hence might is right? Wilma, Wanja and Wilhelmina debate the subject hotly as they walk towards the Stony Field.

The Stony Field is an easier area to battle in due to the simple reason that the unfreezable enemies are slower than their preceding colleagues. They are thereby easier to outmanoeuvre and hurt before they overwhelm the iron wolves and forces the witch to teleport them away.

The passage is far more treacherous, for the confined spaces and quick corrupted rogues could easily trap an unlucky sorceress near the entrance. She would then need to retreat or teleport past them blindly which is an unpleasant prospect. The WWW are in luck however and can clear a space before engaging unfreezable enemies.

Wanja may lack the sniping expertise of Wilma but fire walls are not only useful to keep intruders away from the witches personal information, they are also effective for attacks around corners. The dreadful damage capacity of the spell means that even a few seconds hits are enough to silence most opposition.

21w1.JPEG

The Underground Passage has a second level where demons nest and store some looted treasure. Wanja faces especially rabid and ill-tempered carver captains that practically boil over in their frenzy and just explode with ire when her spells cut their guards and themselves apart.

21w2.JPEG

On the other side is the Dark Wood, more risky than the Stony Field due to faster enemies and also the obscuring terrain. Ruins and old walls left by the woodcutters speak of a more cultivated age but currently the loudest voice is the roaring Treehead Woodfist, proud of his assignment of guarding a murky old tree. Or maybe just mad in general about trespassing witches. Once stirred from his fascinating hobbies near the tree, he chases Wanja to an old wall and must endure the brunt of WWW insults from across.

21w3.JPEG

Since Wanja has been blessed by a skill shrine her taunting is even more corrosive than usual.

"Larvae-eaten headmistress-rubbing old pile of herring remains", that is it! Treehead Woodfist sends his currently available subordinate brute around to catch the insufferable girl.

21w4.JPEG

After setting the lackey on fire, Wanja remains in place and continues her irreverent behaviour.

"Aardvark-romancing hair-knitter of a guano brain!

Treehead decides to take the matter in his own woody fists and charges around furiously. Wanja smiles under her horrifying bone helm and simply teleports to the other side of the wall, leaving a fuming brute squadron leader on the opposite side yet again.

21w5.JPEG

"Hedgewizard Hamfist is so thickheaded his left ear doesn't hear last mornings news from his right ear until tomorrow..."

Treehead Woodfist storms around yet again and runs straight into Wanjas firewall only to catch a glimpse of her teleporting away again. Furiously stampeding ahead he encounters yet more fire walls and so ends the most brutish of the brutes.

If any monster of the wood was left alive they could attest that the WWW waz here...unfortunately no one is left to admire their subtle ways.

21w6.JPEG

With the combinations in hand the Cairn Stones can be activated.

Haphet is testing some of his rather theoretical concepts of camouflage while standing practically enveloped by a hydra. Or perhaps the hydra just wanted a hug.

21w7.JPEG

Wilma takes point with eager hydras and is met by a cold and fire immune shaman. Her underdeveloped chain lightning would have trouble overcoming the regeneration of such an elusive and mobile foe were it not for the fact that she has all the time in the world after one hit with her crossbow...no hurries on Cains account or anything.

21w8.JPEG

Tristrams mighty goat men and undead are no match for the witches underhanded tactics. The many ruined buildings and walls make sniping the witches difficult for the skeletal archers.

Deckard Cain is the only one who hurries on his own account, not even bothering to join the party to fight the forces of evil so more people can travel with his town portal.

21w9.JPEG

Wilhelmina encounters a persistent smith that seems to insist on taking a closer look at their equipment and offer premium items from the good old days, classy wares instead of the everyday. Wilhelmina tells him rather coldly to get stuffed and return to his roots on his own, presumably found a couple of metres below the ground. Spellsteel is already perfect, thank you very much!

21w10.JPEG
 
Last edited:
Top