What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook - 7th Print Edition

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Even More R&R: Diablo II - The Awakening [pt.1]

Back in the TSR had just bought out and work was progressing on Third Edition, someone must of have thought there was some great value by licensing the Diablo brand.  Diablo was insanely popular and Diablo II even more so and it provided a great PC game for some good old "hack n' slash" in the Action RPG video game genre.  It had a decent backstory... NPCs to converse with... and tons of critters to kill and much loot to be had.  It's been 12 years since Diablo II and now Diablo III is providing amusing entertainment to older and new players alike.  However, back around 2000, someone thought that Diablo and D&D were a good match and they released a box set as well as a separate sourcebook to do just that.  It was among the last in a line of AD&D 2nd Edition materials WOTC was publishing prior to the release of 3rd Edition.  Subsequently, they also recycled and put out d20 / Third Edition versions of the material.  I distinctly remember my thoughts on it when I bought my Third Edition PHB (when it was first released, the first printing was MUCH cheaper in order to woo older AD&D players -- a mere $20).  I dismissed it entirely as a cash grab.  I loved Diablo II *very* much but didn't see the need of an AD&D sourcebook for the computer game.

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
The bulk of the book is the tables for items, the monsters, and the spells, skills, and kits given. Really, what else would you really want from a book which is promoting a D&D version of a video game whose primary focus is hack n' slash and monty hauling?

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.

M