It would be several years before I decided to track down and pick up the sourcebook from a secondhand source. Why did I do it? I honestly don't remember to be honest. Probably because I was able to get it very inexpensively. I had also starting buying a whole bunch of d20 and AD&D based material I didn't already own because of the rekindled interest in RPGs of the sort after picking up Castles & Crusades.
I liked what I saw. It's not exactly an adventure though everything you need to run an adventure based on the computer games is included. It's a shame that most people (unless they were Diablo fans coming to D&D) have the same sort of reaction I had when I first saw it.
The book covers a few key things to make this experience 'Diablo-esque':
- The AD&D version gives PC kits to convert/upgrade various classes to be recognizable to what you played in Diablo II.
- It stats out the various monsters and key villains for AD&D... Diablo is kind of sick as a 50 HD critter. ;)
- Provides spells and skills inspired from the game
- Provides the means to construct random magical items in a manner that is reminiscent of the computer game.
- It gives maps and details of various levels found in Diablo as well as a summary of the plot and information on town of Tristram
For this, an accessory such as Diablo II: The Awakening, is deserving of some scorn. However, I've come to love the book for what it is. It's a diamond in the rough, so to speak. In the hands of a capable DM and someone who has the capacity to look at the greater picture, this can be a campaign of epic proportions. Just a bit of work is required to turn this into a mega-dungeon based campaign that can be fondly remembered as opposed to a book left on a shelf.
If you lack vision, the critters and magic tables (as well as the magic shrines), provide enough material to be consistently used as a tool for your own games. The spells and skills may seem a bit 'video game' in presentation but that's hardly surprising either. Still, there is some good stuff here too. It's a solid resource at minimum.
Speaking about 'minimums' ... fortunately, it isn't expensive if you are stumble upon a copy. It is part of the WOTC collection which got yanked from PDF vendors but a physical copy of the AD&D version shouldn't cost more than $10 - $12 used. Noble Knight Games has a couple in stock. As to my thoughts on the 3rd Edition version... well, while the Skills and Abilities lend themselves quite well as Feats, due to the level of crunch Third Edition play has, it looks like the one book as been converted and split up into two books. One is entitled "Diablo II: Diablerie" which contains the what's needed to create 3rd Edition versions of the characters, as well as usual Player Guide stuff as well as some monsters and a sample adventure. The other is entitled "Diablo II: To Hell & Back" which covers various regions and maps from Diablo II from the various acts and a bunch of more monsters. In my opinion, the AD&D version is a lot more 'bang for your buck' when comparing to the Third Edition versions.
Now, since that's settled -- Why do I think this "Diablo II: The Awakening" is possibly a worthy megadungeon and what would be needed to solidify and transform it into one? That my readers, I will talk about in Part 2.