What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Even More R&R: Diablo II - The Awakening [pt.2]

In part one, I talked about an often overlooked accessory that came out at the tail end of the life cycle of 2nd Edition AD&D -- mere months before the release of 3rd Edition.  As far as an adventure/accessory is concerned, it is a diamond in the rough.

After flipping though it a few times, I can't help but think this could really be an epic campaign and possible be considered a 'megadungeon'.  Now some people will argue what makes a megadungeon and it's probably a term that is thrown about a bit much.  I probably have used it out of precise context on occasion and others will disagree on the nature and label of some well known dungeons and adventures.

One point: Does a megadungeon have a big overarching plot and goal?  Some will say no, it does not.  Others have no problem if it does or not.  Was the Temple of Elemental Evil considered one?  Depends who you ask but, at the very least, it shares many things that a megadungeon happens to possess.

And so does Diablo II: The Awakening.

The story for Diablo really begins when the demon was first trapped by a group of magi into a crystal of sorts which was then buried and a monastery was built on top of it.  After several generations, a town sprung up next to the ruins of the forgotten monastery and the King decides to take and make a Cathedral on top of and out of the ruins of the old monastery.  The old evil remained however, and the biship was 'compelled' to free the demon from his prison.  The King became possessed, and then his son, and evil shrouded the small town.  Many people die and many atrocities are committed.

The adventurer in the game arrives some time later and essentially has to set things right.  Now, in the original game, you end up playing through the Cathedral, down through the Catacombs, followed by the Caves, and finally Hell itself.  16 levels worth where you end up fighting the animated skeleton of the king, the archbishop that freed the demon, and finally Diablo himself.  At the very end, you have the original crystal shard and, you decide to sacrifice yourself to take the crystal away in an attempt to 'contain' the evil.

In the second game, you essentially find out that the adventurer from the first game wasn't quite successful in his efforts and again, you must hunt down Diablo as well as his brothers.  The game once more starts off in the small town but has you traveling the globe and many different dungeons to combat this evil.  Once more, you grace the edges of heaven and hell.

The point, I'm trying to make is that the game is pretty much using a recognizable model  Just consider the list:

  • A small town besieged by evil which can be used as a base of operations for multiple forays into the 'megadungeon'.
  • A very basic plot line to give players a goal to strive for but with little to no direction on how to best accomplish this task (at least in the first Diablo game).  Well, maybe 'go down till you reach the last level of the dungeon'  ;).
  • Each section of the larger dungeon has it's own creatures, foes, challenges, and traps and a creative DM could easily build an 'ecosystem' and societies accordingly which can function independently from other sections.
  • There is no reason to believe that most of these sections could ever really be cleared either... not with a gateway to hell open at the very bottom at any rate.

It would only take a few notes and minor effort on the part of the DM to transform this into a viable and memorable adventure.  Some of the overarching themes are very reminiscent of other classic adventures and campaigns.  Given the price point of a used copy, there are many gaming sessions that could be had with this little gem.