bobquasit: (Default)
It's kind of ridiculous for me to be writing about Diablo II, but I've been playing it again recently. Due to changes in Battle.net, I've been playing four different characters in turn, keeping them all within four levels of each other; that way they can "visit" each other's games and exchange equipment and items.

I'm playing:

- A sorceress who specializes in electricity and cold skills
- A druid, speciality werewolf transformations, combat, and dire wolves
- A necromancer, speciality golems (and later, Reviveds)
- A barbarian, speciality dual-sword use (aka Frenzarian)
Read more... )
But this time I took out ALL of the non-purple potions and filled up the belt solid with nothing but full rejuvenations. Result: I killed Mephisto without dying ONCE. And I still had enough purples left over to fill my #4 slot! I definitely would have died several times over if I hadn't loaded up with all-purples.

It sounds obvious, I know. But it took me a long time to figure it out. :P

Actually, I was also probably being stupidly cheap on potions. You can't buy purples, which makes them technically rare; so I tend not to use them. But since I lose lots of them when I die, it makes a lot more sense to use them and stay alive!

Diablo

Nov. 14th, 2008 03:16 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
I've been playing a fair amount of Diablo lately. At first I was back into Diablo 2, LOD. Most of my Battle.net characters had expired, so I worked up a bunch of new ones. Along the way I discovered something annoying: Battle.net had changed. I could no longer take a high-level character and drop a bunch of gold in a game for a starting character.

They seem to have put in restrictions that make it impossible for characters to enter a game that has been created or visited by a character that's more than four or five levels higher or lower. So if you want to exchange stuff between your characters, you have to make sure that they stay within four levels of each other.

I played so much that I got what I call "Diablo finger". But I also got bored. So just for the hell of it, one day, I popped in my old Diablo 1 disk. It still worked...and I have to say that it's a better game than D2. It doesn't have as many features, but it's sharper, clearer, and more exciting.
bobquasit: (NewQuas)
At [livejournal.com profile] ethesis' suggestion, I tried switching out the equipment on my D1 solo sorcerer. I bought a Bountiful Staff of Apocalypse (36 charges) from the witch, replacing my sword and shield.

I was surprised at the results.

My sorc had already beaten Diablo at Hell difficulty, but it had been a bit tedious; lots of Stone Cursing and beating things to death with the help of my golem. Triple-immunes (i.e. creatures immune to all three types of spell damage) in particular were a HUGE pain.

What I didn't know what that A) Apocalypse works on triple-immunes, and B) Apocalypse works through walls, and even in sealed rooms - with certain exceptions.

What that means is that I was able to clear out Hell/Hell with astonishing speed. On the final level, all I had to do was go up against the walls of the three sealed areas and Apocalypse until the monsters inside stopped flaming (which meant, of course, that they were dead). I had to go back to town for a staff recharge every so often, of course, but I was able to polish off huge numbers of enemies without any danger at all. It was interesting to watch the experience points zooming upward when I cast the spell; it almost seemed too fast for the program to keep up.

The open northern room was a bit more difficult, but even there I was able to pre-destroy a lot of enemies by getting up against the northern wall of the west room and using Apocalypse. Plus the spell was very useful when I waded in, of course. Combined with the golem, there was no threat at all.

The only exceptions to the spell were certain sealed-room uniques. For example, the Warlord of Blood; I was able to destroy all the other monsters in the room before I opened it, but although he himself flamed each time I cast Apocalypse, he was obviously immune to its effects until I opened the room and went close enough to activate him.

Diablo was also immune before the room was opened, although no other monster with him was. In that case I cast Infravision; it was interesting to watch the creatures inside flaming and dying. After I opened the room, I led Diablo on the traditional chase into the spiral maze and teleported out at the last minute, leaving him trapped. Then I went back to town, got a full charge on the staff, and went just far enough into the maze to affect him with the Apocalypse. It took 17 charges to kill him, although he may have still had some damage from a few Guardians when I led him in.

All of this sounds about as sportsmanlike as a Dick Cheney hunting party, I must say!

Having pretty much exhausted the possibilities of solo play, I decided to try the same technique on Battle.net - yes, I was bored at the time and had too much time on my hands (tick-tick-tick ticking away).

I wasn't able to pick up a Plentiful or Bountiful staff of Apocalypse, but I was able to find an Archangels Staff of Apocalypse with ten charges. Haven't had a chance to test it out much yet, though.
bobquasit: (Omac Destroys!)
Diablo II: LOD has gotten a bit boring for me again. And now that the new television season has started Teri is taping her shows most nights, so I haven't been able to play Zelda: The Legend of the Wind Waker. So a few nights ago I took out my old Diablo I CD-ROM and started playing again.

I'd forgotten. There's a reason why Diablo I was a smash hit. It's still a great game.

It feel slow after D2, of course, since in that game you can run. Characters in D1 just plod along. But the gameplay and atmosphere are outstanding, and once you've re-adjusted to the slower movement rate, the game is a LOT of fun.

One interesting problem is that there's a lot less information online about D1 than there used to be. A lot of sites have simply disappeared. And I needed to find out how to get a solo character into nightmare or hell difficulty games.

For those who don't know Diablo, once you've played the game in "normal" mode, you can play it again in nightmare mode, and then again in hell mode; in each of those modes the monsters are more powerful, give more experience points, and you get a lot more treasure and gold. For example, a normal first-level monster might drop 1-10 gold pieces in normal mode. That same monster would drop 100-500 or so in hell mode.

The problem is that nightmare and hell modes are available to characters on Battle.net, but not to solo characters. And there are definite advantages to playing a solo character. Response is quicker - Battle.net can be painfully slow and unreliable for Diablo 1 - and you can get quests that aren't available for Battle.net characters.

Once you've reached a certain level, there isn't much challenge to a regular game. There was a trick that could be used to make a nightmare or hell game for a solo character, but I'd forgotten it. I looked around online, but couldn't find it. So I plumbed my memory, and finally remembered the trick.

You need to have a multi-player character who can create nightmare or hell-level games; I don't remember the required level for nightmare, but for hell I think it's 30. This can be a Battle.net character.

Your solo character needs to have been created and saved in a game. I recommend that it be a brand new game, since any killing you do before putting the game into nightmare or hell mode will only game treasure and experience at the normal rate.

Start Diablo. Choose a multi-player game, and then choose Direct Cable Connection (NOT Battle.net). When you create the game, select Nightmare or Hell. Once the game has started, hit "Esc" to call up the main menu, and select "New Game". Back out of the menus by hitting "Esc" until you reach the point that you can select a single-player game. Select the character you want to play, load the game, and you'll find that all the monsters, treasure, and experience points are nightmare or hell level, whatever you picked.

I should probably mention that it's a good idea to start with the first level; if you jump straight in to fighting high-level monsters on nightmare or hell, you're likely to have trouble. And since even 1st-level monsters give hundreds of gold pieces per drop, I usually run the entire first three levels over and over to gain gold and levels.

Incidentally, one interesting thing about this trick is that while you do get marginally better magic items in these pseudo-nightmare and hell levels, the magic items you find at the low NM and hell levels usually aren't that good. Although 1st level NM monsters drop gold that's equivalent to the highest-level normal monsters, if not slightly better, the magic items that they drop tend to suck. High-level NM and hell monsters drop great items, of course.

An odd thing is that if you save the game and then start it later without doing the nightmare/hell game trick, the game will revert right back to normal mode. In other words, you can go through level one, kill monsters and get hundreds of gold pieces per drop, and then when you re-start the game, the monsters will go back to giving you 1-10 or so. You need to go through the whole nightmare/hell multiplayer character trick again to put the game back to NM/Hell equivalent.

On a related tack, there's a new trick I recently developed to pick up useful spells. It takes a lot of gold, which is another reason why I wanted to remember how to get to nightmare or hell levels. But it works quite well.

Adria the Witch sells spellbooks (among other things) at the east side of town, across the stream. Unlike Griswold the smith, her stock in trade changes every time you down down into the dungeon and come back. That makes it possible to find rare and useful spellbooks. But going down the nearest dungeon entrance (the catacombs) and coming back takes perhaps 20 seconds...an eon of playing time.

I found a much better way for solo characters. You need to have a lot of gold at hand; it doesn't have to all be in your inventory, though. You can scatter extra piles of gold all around you, in fact. Anyway, start by going to Adria (I recommend scattering your gold right there). Check out her stock, and if she has anything you want, buy it. If it's a spellbook, read it. Save the game. Then hit "Esc", and select "Load Game". You'll start right where you were, in front of Adria - but what I discovered was that when you load the game, her stock regenerates. That is, she'll have a completely new list of items for sale. Check out the list, buy and read any worthwhile spellbooks, then save the game and reload. If she doesn't have anything you want, skip saving and just reload the game until you find a spellbook that you do want. Eventually you'll use up all your gold this way, at which point it's time to go treasure-hunting in hell mode.

You can also find good staves that way, but of course staves are generally not worth using.

Good grief. I wonder if anyone who reads this will find any of this useful? And does it sound as pathetically geeky as I think? Jeeze.

Diablo

Oct. 3rd, 2006 11:39 am
bobquasit: (Laszlo Late)
I'm still playing Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. Lately I've been working two sorceresses, one Fire/Lightning, the other almost all Cold (except for a very effective level 13 Static Field).

I find the characters most interesting in the level 24-30 range. That's because at level 24 you get access to the next-to-last level of spells, and at 30 you get the final round of spells. If you've got decent skill-bonus items, you can get a big surge of power when you hit those new spell levels.

The best thing about playing a sorceress is the speed of play; you can really move fast, thanks to the teleport spell. And that is a great way out of the waypoint trap.

Should I bother to explain that? Diablo players will already know about it, and those who don't play won't care. Basically, you can end up sort of stuck in a game; if you don't find the next waypoint before you have to start playing, you can find yourself having to re-play an hour or even two hours of combat to find the waypoint the next time.

Anyway, I zapped around the various areas at high speed, starting with runs along the borders - framing the entire areas - and then additional runs to fill in my map along the centers of the areas. Theoretically there was a danger that I could teleport into the middle of a huge cluster of monsters (which I did, several times), get hit, stunlocked, and killed...but I have a pretty fast hit recovery, and the monsters themselves took a distinct fraction of a second to react when I teleported in. So I never really had a problem.

One thing I noticed was that it was smart to take the time to do a little monster-clearing at certain points. For example, on outdoor areas in Act 5, which are long and rectangular: I'd clear out the short side of the rectangle on the starting side, teleport up one long side, and clear out the monsters on the far end short side too. That way, I knew I had a safe final destination.

Although there were enough quiet spots along the way that I could aways recover and take a mana potion when necessary.

For underground areas, I once again defined the perimeters first. That had the added bonus of helping me find the waypoints and exits quickly, because unlike in the open areas, they tend to be located on the edges.

My Fire/Lightning sorceress is level 31 or 32 now. I've finished all of the quests except Baal, and have all of the waypoints. She's ready for Baal runs and will quickly level to 55 or so. She's wearing gear which gives her +4 to all Fire skills, which is quite handy.

I got the Cold sorc to level 30 last night. She still has to finish the Ancients quest, and to get the final waypoint. She's wearing gear that gives +1 to all Cold skills and +1 to all skills, for a total of +2 to all Cold skills; not great, but helpful. She definitely needs better equipment, though.

As I said before, she has a level 13 static field; that's a wonderful spell when you're in a group. You can affect almost every enemy on the screen, and each casting of the spell reduces ALL enemy hit points by 1/4 of the current total. So the spell itself can't kill them...but you can reduce almost every enemy to a point where they're incredibly easy to kill. Unlike some other spells, Static Field isn't on a timer, so you can cast it as quickly as you can click, over and over.

Even in solo play, it's quite effective. I've got an Act I hireling, a rogue with a socketed bow with +175 in poison damage and +10-14 cold; she can take out a huge number of weakened enemies with great speed. I was actually able to kill Diablo solo without dying once, although my hireling died a couple of times in the process.

Recently I accidentally left a game open with my Fire sorc that I'd thought I had password-protected. Someone popped in, and rather than leaving the game, I decided to give them a hand. So I helped them get all the waypoints. It was kind of fun.

El Diablo!

Sep. 26th, 2006 11:32 am
bobquasit: (Grimjack)
I've been playing Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction again, and I've been having some fun with it. This time I've been experimenting with different kinds of characters. The most recent one is a fire/electricity sorceress.

Normally I stick mainly to cold skills, because they're so much more effective. A point or two in Warmth, a few points in Static Field, and a point each in Teleport and Energy Shield are as far outside of the Cold skill tree as I go.

This time, I've resisted the Cold tree completely. I did pick up a staff with +2 to Shiver Armor, just because some sort of protection is pretty much mandatory, but I haven't spent a single skill point in Cold. I originally planned to stick entirely to Fire, but Electricity has too many skills which are absolutely vital; I don't see how any sorceress can survive a solo encounter with Duriel without a decent Static Field.

I ended up trying some Electricity spells I hadn't used before. Chain Lightning was surprisingly useful and effective; I quite like Thunderstorm too, although I suspect that it isn't very efficient. It's pretty, though.

But my equipment makes the Fire tree very appealing. I made my first runeword object, a Leaf staff, and it gives +3 to all Fire skills. Combined with a unique circlet that gives +1 to all Fire skills, it makes for a nice package. It made a big difference to start Meteor at 5 instead of 1 at level 24, believe me!

Right now I'm level 26, using Meteor, Thunderstorm, Energy Shield, Enchant (on my Hireling, a very effective Act 1 Rogue using a 3-socket bow with a perfect emerald and a Tir rune - I'm saving the third slot for something interesting), and occasionally Fireball or Chain Lightning. My main goal is to get to level 30, at which point an instant Fire Mastery 5 and Hydra 5 should make things very interesting indeed.

Incidentally, if you're ever on Battle.net, my handle there is Omac.
bobquasit: (Default)
This was sort of an amusing website, although it may just be the sleep deprivation talking. Some of the items don't seem to be safe for work, but it's just text.
bobquasit: (Default)
Stayed up WAY too late last night; I was playing Diablo 2 for quite a while with the clan. Got an old sorceress to 18th level, at which point I was able to use some great equipment and become much more powerful.

After that I caught up a bit on the Daily Kos; my first diary entry was not a great success. Not a miserable failure, but it didn't get rave reviews. I'm okay with that, since it was a somewhat off-the-cuff entry.

By the time I gave up writing replies to comments it was just past midnight. I headed downstairs to get a drink of water, but right after I stepped over the child-gate there was a small noise from Sebastian's room. I stood on the top landing of the stairs as Sebastian opened his door and came into the hallway. He seemed to be almost sleepwalking as he toddled down the hall, right past me. His eyes were downcast, and might have been closed; it was dark, and I couldn't see. But he didn't react to me at all.

He walked over to our bed and climbed up onto it, right over Teri's head. She'd been sleeping, and was a bit distressed to have 40 pounds of toddler pass over her neck and skull; I heard some protesting noises as I hurried over the gate and helped Sebastian get safely to the middle of the bed. He was already out like a light, if indeed he'd ever been awake.

I went downstairs and took care of business. Then back up, picked up my sleeping baby boy, and put him back in his bed. He struggled a little when I held him, but hugged his bear and got quiet once he was in his bed.

At around 5 AM he started shouting; he's been doing that lately. Yesterday morning he was shouting for goldfish (the cracker, not the creature); I guess he must have been hungry. I've found that if I come over and hush him a little, then lie down for a few minutes next to him, he goes right back to sleep.

When I left at 6:10, Sebastian and Teri were both still asleep.

Side note: the Dean College parking lot is getting worse and worse. For the last two days I have arrived at least ten minutes before the train arrives, only to have someone take the last parking space before I can get there. That forces me to miss the train and drive at 90 miles per hour to the last station on the line. It lengthens my commute by 10-20 minutes, which I do not need. It really pisses me off.

Unfortunately it looks like I'll have to start leaving the house at 6AM sharp to get a parking space, which means I'll have to set my alarm clock to wake me at 5:20. This is getting really hard to live with.

Catching up

Nov. 2nd, 2004 09:15 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Let's see...there are a few things I meant to post, but forgot about.

Last week I was at the top of the stairs on a two-story train, pulling into my station at the end of the day. As the train slowed to a stop, it gave a sudden jerk. My feet were swept off the top stair, I went up in the air, and took a hard fall. It was about a five-foot drop.

275 pounds of meat hitting the floor from that distance makes a considerable sound. I looked up to see people staring at me, their mouths hanging open in shock. I struggled to my feet. "I'm okay", I said, adding stupidly "thanks."

I made it out before the train started moving again. Nobody said a word to me. For the next few days I'd be suddenly assaulted by odd aches and pains here and there, but it wasn't until five or six days later that Teri noticed I had a HUGE bruise on my upper right arm. Still, nothing seems to be broken.

****** ****** *

Not long after, I was driving home when suddenly the car lost power. I was heading down a long incline in a relatively unpopulated area. Stepping on the gas didn't seem to do anything, and the steering and brakes had clearly lost their power. So I steered into the parking lot at Bellingham Lumber.

I was out of gas. Fortunately Teri and Sebastian were able to drive over with a gas can and rescue me.

I've always wondered what it's like to run out of gas. Now I know. Although I may have done it before; I can't remember.

****** ****** *

I've been having some fun playing Diablo online with the clan. My druid's up to level 63.

****** ****** *

Currently reading: Believe it or not, the fundamentalist "Left Behind" series. I'm on book 4 (of 12). They're really badly written - C- or D+ quality - and feature some creepy wish fulfilment by the authors.

I just finished re-reading Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut. I'd forgotten what a good book that is. But I'm a little biased, since it's the fictional autobiography of an Armenian artist and WWII veteran. There's quite a bit about the Genocide in it.

That said, it's quite funny and nowhere near as dark or depressing as many of Vonnegut's books. I'm loaning it to my parents today.

****** ****** *

Sebastian has been extremely affectionate lately! He demands lots of hugs and kisses before I go to work. I wonder how long this stage will last? A long time, I hope.

****** ****** *

I'm doing everything I can to avoid thinking about the election. I'll be voting tonight. Then I'm heading over to my D&D game. Which is probably just as well, since otherwise I'd be glued to the TV in a state of panic.

Not that I expect the election to be resolved tonight...or even a week from now. Unless Bush decides to go into full-junta mode and uses the troops to support his regime.

If you had any doubt that the Republicans are still dedicated to ratfucking, read this - Republican operatives are pretending to be gay marriage proponents supporting Kerry in front of black churches. I think we'll see a lot of this sort of thing today...or rather, we may not see it, but it'll happen.

Tired...

Oct. 27th, 2004 08:16 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Man, am I tired.

I'm so tired that between typing the last sentence and this one I ran out of steam and just sat there for five minutes, blinking stupidly at the screen.

Blink, (pause), blink.

The night before last I got caught up playing Diablo online with the clan. By the time I checked the clock, it was 12:48am.

I should mention that playing with the clan has been a lot of fun. I've learned quite a bit, and over the weekend I took my druid from 32nd level to 56th. The secret was open Baal runs, which I hadn't understood before; you start an open game with a name like "baalrun01", and wait for people to enter. Once you've got the maximum, eight people, at least one player makes their way to the Throne of Destruction as quickly as they can - it's basically a mad dash, bypassing almost every attacking monster. Once in the door on the level of the Throne, you open a town portal. Everyone else comes in (you've all joined the same party, of course, so as to share experience points), and deal with the waves of powerful monsters that Baal throws at you.

Once all the monsters are dead and Baal has departed, you announce "02" (or whatever the next number in sequence is), exit the game, start a new game with the next sequential number, and do it all over again. It only takes five to ten minutes per run, and typically you'll gain a level every run or two.

I was given a Gavel of Pain, and socketed it with a Shael rune to increase the attack speed. I'm doing something like 1,200-2,000 damage per blow, and my life-stealing percentage is so high that I'm basically healing myself to full on every attack.

Okay, enough Diablo. Last night...oh yeah. I left something out.

Blink, (pause), blink.

You wouldn't believe the number of typos I'm making here.

Remember back a while when I had to get a big filling? And the dentist told me that it might well turn into a root canal, because it was so deep? He said I'd "know" if I ended up needing one.

With my dental phobia my brain immediately interpreted that as a prediction of agonizing, mind-raping pain.

Oh, and I'll spare you a recap of my dental phobia, okay?

Anyway, I was scheduled for a cleaning for last night. Inevitably, a few weeks ago I woke up early in the morning and had a drink from the glass I keep by the bed. When the tepid water hit the tooth that had been filled, it hurt. Quite a painful twinge.

Instantly I entered a state of absolute terror. I spent the next hour or two trembling in fear, sweating and shaking in the dark, until the alarm went off and I went to work.

I spent the next morning the same way, although the pain didn't come back.

Blink, (pause), blink.

So I was morally certain that I'd be facing my first root canal. Or probably two of them, maybe three (I know that's not rational, but that's why it's called a dental phobia).

But I've learned some techniques to help me cope. And so, although I was tense, I was able to live with it. I practiced relaxation techniques as often as I could.

I think I'm starting to wake up a little, finally.

Anyway, last night I rushed home, put on a brave face for Sebastian and kissed him goodbye, and drove to the dentist. And to my amazement, it went quite well. There was a back tooth with had a very sensitive filling (I've never had any problem with it before), but there were no cavities and no real problems. I'll start using flouride rinse to remineralize a couple of decalcified points, but that's all.

Incidentally, Sebastian had his first dental cleaning a week or two ago. Teri took him, and apparently he was really good and had a great time.

After the cleaning I drove home for a few minutes, kissed Sebastian goodnight, and headed over to my weekly D&D game. As always, Sebastian begged me to stay home and play with him. He breaks my heart every Tuesday!

At the game my sleep deficit hit me, as it sometimes does. But once combat started (the first combat in three weeks) I woke up again.

We had teleported into a temple to free a priest from mind control, only to discover that he was a lich, an undead monster. Shadows (evil ghosts, basically) boiled out of the walls and ceiling. The cleric (who served the same god that this temple supposedly served) realized that not only were we not on holy ground, the ground was now actually unhallowed.

We were in trouble.

Lots of combat, an NPC taken down and turned into a shadow himself, and the lich finally touched my character, Mongo, with a Harm spell that did 134 points of damage. Anyone else in the party would have died, but Mongo just went deeply unconscious.

A round or two later I was healed, and the lich was destroyed moments later. At which point we looked at the clock, and saw that it was almost 11:30pm! I headed out and drove home. Fortunately I was still charged up from the battle, or else I would probably have been fighting to stay awake the whole way.

I got into bed just after midnight, and while the thought flashed across my mind that I could play Diablo or check my email, I ignored it. I was asleep within five minutes.

At 5:08am, a small boy shuffled into our room and climbed up between me and Teri. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

5:30am BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! That damned alarm. I turned it off.

Twenty minutes later I got up, dressed with frantic speed, and ran out of the house. Made it to the train station just in time to snag one of the last two parking spaces and catch my train.

Fell asleep on the train, of course, and woke with a start when the conductor shouted "Ruggles!" Ran out of the train, upstairs to the station, and was corralled for a quick handshake by a Presidential candidate. He was charged up, smiling and full of energy as he pumped my hand.

"We need to get out of Iraq, and get healthcare for everyone!" he said enthusiastically.

Dazed, I could only say "That's true!" and smile as I walked on.

It wasn't John Kerry, of course, nor that bastard Bush (I wouldn't have shaken his hand). It was David Cobb of the Green Party. I'll give him credit; as far as I know he's not campaigning anywhere where he might throw the state to Bush. Campaigning in Boston six days before the election? That sends a pretty clear message. He might well pick up some votes, because this is a pretty liberal state in some ways (particularly because at Ruggles he was in the center of a comparatively poor urban area with a high minority population AND a large urban university at the same time), but he's not going to threaten Kerry's chances here. Good for him.

So that makes two candidates for the US Presidency that I've met in Ruggles station.

Okay, looks like I've woken up now.
bobquasit: (Default)
I've been having some fun with Diablo 2 lately. My level 32 Paladin seemed to have stalled out; he's wearing a nice set provided by the clan, but right now it's very hard to do much damage. He doesn't get HURT much, if at all, but it takes a lot of hits to take down almost any foe.

That's boring (and a strain on my mouse finger), so I started up a necromancer. Had some fun with him, and got him up to level 24 or so; I specialized in summoning, skeletons and such. He's pretty effective.

But space is at a premium, so I started my first personal mule. A "mule" in D2 is a character who exists to store equipment that you don't want to sell; stuff that might be useful later, or for a different character. This is possible because if you play a private solo game for at least five minutes, you can drop stuff on the ground in a safe area, log out with one character, and bring another character into the same game to pick up the dropped stuff.

I used this technique to consolidate gems from all of my characters, for one thing. Very useful.

Since he wasn't going to be an actual playing character, I made my mule a druid. Out of sheer curiosity, I took him out for a spin. I'd played a druid once before, and it had been kind of boring; the werewolf form looked interesting, but didn't seem to be too effective. But this time I took the poison creeper skill, and it was pretty cool.

So I made a new druid, a non-mule one, and have been playing him almost exclusively. I think it's my best character so far; he has remained consistantly effective. I've mostly been using equipment I've found myself, rather than stuff that the clan has given me. I've been finding a lot of great stuff lately, including set pieces and uniques.

Quick explanation for people who don't know Diablo 2: Set pieces are magic items which belong to a named set. They are rare, and you only find one item of a set at a time. But if you use more than one item from the same set (for example, Angelic armor & an Angelic ring) you get extra, bonus magical enhancements. Wearing all the items of a set simultaneously gives you even more bonuses. The thing is, set items are so rare that a single player by themself would need to play for many hundreds of hours to complete just one set. That's when being a member of a clan is particularly useful, because if you're missing one or more items, someone else in the group may be able to fill in the gap. Unique items are extremely rare and powerful items, more powerful than "normal" magic items.

Anyway, I was doing some solo online playing on Battle.net recently, when someone came into the game. I should explain that clan people customarily create games with a particular name and password; that way if any other clan people come online later, they can join right in. But the password seems to have gotten out among non-clan members, some of whom are pretty obnoxious.

One guy was abusive to other players if they didn't do what he wanted. Another actually STOLE set items and SOLD them on eBay!

The thing is, there are a lot of people in the clan. And it's not always easy to recognize names. So when Azz_Killer entered the game, asked to join my party, and asked for a town portal, I thought twice - and let him in. There was already a town portal open near me anyway, since I was about to try a quest that I had never done before - one that I feared could kill me.

It was the Summoner, a corrupted mage who does a huge amount of damage with his elemental bolts. I rushed towards him with my dire wolves, poison creeper, spirit of wolverine, and raven just as Azz_Killer appeared behind me. I killed ALL of the Summoner's henchmen myself, as well as the Summoner himself...and at that moment Azz_Killer teleported in FRONT of me and emptied out all the treasure from the Summoner's horde.

He did it with amazing speed, so quickly that I didn't even get a chance to see what he was stealing.

"Was there anything good in those chests?" I asked politely. But there was no response. Feeling decidedly robbed, I decided to drop out of the game.

Later, I confirmed that there was no Azz_Killer in the clan, and as a result I'm not using the standard clan password (I posted my own variant on the clan discussion board, along with a warning about the thief). But here's the strange thing: Azz_Killer was a level 46 sorceress. I was in normal mode, playing a level 24 druid. What was a challenge for me would have been literally NOTHING for Azz_Killer. So why did this jerk bother to steal the fruits of my quest, when he could have done the same quest at incredible speed for himself any number of times?

What a punk.
bobquasit: (Default)
I've joined a Diablo 2 clan: Spirits Reborn. They're nice folks, not cheaters or PKers, and they tend to be on the mature side. Last I heard, the average age was 27.

They also have a Yahoo group, but you can't read the posts in it unless you're a member.
bobquasit: (Default)
Man, am I sleepy. Teri went to a sleep clinic last night to see if she had apnea (looks like she doesn't), so I took care of Sebastian on my own. He's still adjusting to the new big boy bed; unfortunately the lack of rails means that there's nothing to stop him from hopping out of bed and seeking me out, over and over and over.

I even heard, for the first time, that there was a "monster under the bed". I pointed out that his huge stuffed lion was next to and partly under the bed. We put it there in case he falls out in the middle of the night, although the carpet is thick and soft and the bed is not high. I also pointed out that he was surrounded by a particularly fierce group of bears, dinosaurs, and other animals, all of whom could easily scare any monster away - and, of course, I reminded him that there were no monsters except on television and in books.

None of that helped, so I ended up sleeping on the floor next to his bed for an hour until he finally fell asleep.

Then I went over to my computer to spend a few minutes on Battle.net with Diablo - or so I thought. I ran my new paladin, Macabee, in an open game again. This time some really decent people joined in, and we had a good time chatting while they explained things to me. I had so much fun that I didn't get to sleep until almost midnight! I may join their clan; if so, I'll doubtless write a bit about it here.

Oh, and I think I found a sort of work-around for my Diablo crashing problem. As I mentioned before, it seems to have a problem if my system was shut down normally the last time it was on. On a hunch, I removed and re-inserted the D2LOD disk, and when the install/play screen came up I hit Cancel. Then I started the game normally, and it was fine! I haven't had a chance to try that again, but if it works it's certainly superior to crashing my system in order to play.

I wrote to Blizzard support about that, incidentally, but haven't heard back from them yet.

Anyway, Sebastian woke me up at 5:30am, so I'm pretty tired.
bobquasit: (Default)
Just noticed something funny. From the description of the Paladin Blessed Hammer skill:

"The Visions of Akarat tell of a hopeless battle. Legions of the undead had laid siege to a small convent of nuns who were the keepers of a sacred relic, the Hammer of Ghrab Thaar."

Does something sound familiar? Remind you of a movie, perhaps? Then please envision Alan Rickman with fish-head makeup on:

"By Grabthaar's Hammer...what a savings."

So which came first - Diablo 2, or GalaxyQuest?
bobquasit: (Default)
I got a bit bored with single-player Diablo 2, so I decided to start new characters on Battle.net. The first was a sorceress named Slaytheist; I accidentally made her a ladder character, whatever that means. Since I fear that Battle.net is swarming with PKs, I only played her in password-protected games by myself. It didn't take too long to get her up to 16th level.

But it was boring.

So I made a new character, a Paladin named Macabee, specifically to play in open worlds. And sure enough, people came. The spoke the crude patois of the web generation - "thks", "tp", etc. - but at least they didn't kill me.

On the other hand they all seemed to be in a huge rush. They dashed across the screens as if, well, Diablo was after them. They didn't even bother to pick up magic items! It was very confusing.

I was having fun, though, until Teri called. It was Sebastian's bedtime, and he wanted me to tuck him into his new big boy bed. I did, but by the time I got back all the people had left the game.

Maybe I wasn't playing right. I'm used to solo play, so my tendency is to seek out certain types of foes and kill them first, leaving the less-dangerous enemies until later. Shamans, for example, are high on my list of targets because they resurrect other enemies. And I'm not all that comfortable with Paladin auras yet; sometimes I cycled between different auras rather quickly.

Maybe I should have been protecting the spellcasters, although none died that I could see. Maybe I went too slow. Maybe I should have used the auras more wisely, somehow. I don't know.

I think I'll try it again, though. I'm kind of looking forward to it.
bobquasit: (Default)
I've been busy lately; I've been spending more of my computer time at home answering emails, working on my RuneQuest site, and that sort of thing. To tell you the truth, I've been just as happy to have an excuse to avoid playing Diablo 2.

But things have been getting quieter lately, so with mixed feelings I took up D2 again. But this time, rather than continue with the single-player characters I've been working on, I decided to venture out into the world of Battle.net.

I'm chicken; I've set all of my games there at a maximum of one player, and I password-protect my games as well. Somehow I'm sure that if I go into an open game I will be instantly PKed.

That kind of sucks, to tell you the truth. I'd really like to play with other people on Battle.net. But I don't know anyone who's playing D2 these days. Charibdis doesn't have the time. Klyfix doesn't have the software. Unquietsoul5 doesn't have a decent net connection.

So what do I do? How do I find some decent people to play with online, people who won't explode me the first time they get me alone in a combat area? I just don't know.
bobquasit: (Default)
Diablo: I haven't had much free time lately, but I've managed to catch up a little with Diablo 2. One nice thing: since I upgraded to Windows XP, my system can now play all the cinematics. On the down side, when I start the game it freezes solid about half the time, requiring a full manual system shut-down. Once it has started, though, it's good to go.

I'd played a barbarian up to level 22; he was at Tal-Rasha's Tomb, but I suddenly found myself having real problems. When that happens it's usually time to drop back down to an easier area and level up a few times, and/or get some better equipment. But no equipment was available, and somehow I didn't feel like wandering around the Arcane Sanctuary for days on end. So I started up a new character, a sorceress.

It was more fun than the barbarian, so I stuck with it. On the old system the barbarian had been much easier to play than the sorceress, but this time the sorc was much easier than I expected. This may have been because I was playing smarter this time.

For example, in the old days my sorc had a HELL of a time with Duriel in Tal-Rasha's Tomb. I must have died thirty or forty times before I managed to kill him, at least. I remember running around with Blaze up for what felt like hours...it sucked.

This time, though, I stood there and cast Static Field over and over. It's already up to level 12 or so, so it has a nice range - and it wipes out 25% of the current hit points of all enemies in reach. Meanwhile my henchman kept firing arrows. I died twice, and then finally killed Duriel.

Another odd thing: my new sorceress is having a much easier time finding magic items than the barbarian did. The annoying thing is that they're items which would be great for the barbarian - and since I'm in single-player mode, I can't switch the items between characters. I've found the Barbarian Hauberk, Cleglaw's Pincers, and Cleglaw's Brace...all of which aren't much use to a sorceress, unfortunately.

The sorceress is up to level 26 now, and is in the jungle looking for Kurast.

D&D: Everyone else in my Thursday night D&D game is in the SCA, so they're all off for Pennsic this week...therefore no game last night. But last week (or was it the week before?) I came up with what I think was a pretty clever idea.

We needed to find someone who had been kidnapped. We didn't know who had kidnapped her, or where she was. She was completely blocked from scrying. There were virtually no clues at the kidnap site, and no witnesses. It seemed to be a total dead end.

And it was probably meant to be, but I found myself interested. I found myself pacing back and forth, trying to figure out some way to get more information.

Eureka! The Sending spell is not the same as scrying. It lets the caster send a 25-word verbal message and get a reply. I wasn't sure it would work, but it seemed worth a try. But now we had a new problem: you can only Send to someone you know personally, and none of us had known the kidnappee. In fact, NO cleric had ever met the victim.

I was thinking pretty furiously at this point. I'm not all that familiar with the D&D 3.5 system, but I remembered that spells can be placed in scrolls, which can be read by non-spellcasters with the appropriate skills. And one of the victim's servants, it turned out, could read magic scrolls.

The odds weren't good for success on the first try, but the DM rolled well and the message went through. The reply was a bit disconcerting; it seemed that the victim had chosen to leave, and her reply was either threatening, a prophecy of doom, or (possibly) a warning.

I don't know if we'll be following up this thread any time soon, but it was nice to have a chance to use my brain.


Currently Reading: Touched By the Gods by Lawrence Watt-Evans. A lengthy non-Ethsharic fantasy novel. Not bad, but not his best work; it's longer than his older novels, and somehow that doesn't seem like a good thing. One flaw, I think (at least as far as commercial success goes) is that the hero seems a bit dumber than LW-E's usual, and (spoiler, invisible ink - click and drag from here to the end to read) that he insists on rejecting his role as champion. If you want to appeal to teen-aged boys (which I suspect is the majority of the modern fantasy-readers demographic), you want to write something that those boys can identify with - and boys generally aren't into demanding a life of anonymity and non-recognition as a reward for feats of incredible heroism.
bobquasit: (Default)
I've been slowly restoring various programs to my home PC over the past few weeks; although the primary hard drive was not destroyed (as I originally feared), it became a slave drive and a new OS (Windows XP Home Edition) was installed. This killed a number of my installed programs.

Not Agent, fortunately. All of my email and addresses transferred perfectly. But Teri used Outlook, and lost everything.

I also lost the passwords and logins for a couple of websites that I administer - not my own sites, but for other people. I was able to recover those, but it took a while.

One project that was quite interesting was my digital camera. It's a cheap old Polaroid 640, and it uses PhotoMax software; I assumed (and hoped) that it would transfer over easily, but it didn't. In fact, it didn't work at all. I almost resigned myself to getting a new camera (which would inevitably have at least four times the resolution of the old one), but a little research made that unnecessary. Polaroid knew that PhotoMax didn't work correctly with XP, and had detailed information on a fix. I was quite impressed; I didn't know that XP actually had a wizard to help make programs work that were designed for older versions of Windows. It took me a little while, but after I was done I was able to download some five-month-old photos from my camera - including one I'll probably put up here soon.

Another aspect of the restoration was re-installing Diablo, Diablo 2 (and the LOD expansion), Warcraft 2, and Arcanum. I haven't bothered reinstalling Warcraft 3 and NeverWinter Nights because (to put it politely) they suck.

Diablo is always fun for playing around, and is relatively easy to beat; I haven't played it much yet, but I may get online with a friend or two some evening (and if anyone reading this is up for it, drop me a line - I mean it!).

But D2 and Arcanum are bigger games, so I've been playing both alternatively. It's an interesting experience, because although the games have many points in common (they're both anamorphic computer "RPGs" in an essentially fantasy genre), the tone of the games is remarkably different. Put simply, Diablo 2 gives me a lot of stress; I could even say that it scares me. Arcanum, on the other hand, is much lighter - though the tone is hardly comic.

Why? A large part of it is the way Save Game works. In Arcanum you choose when your game is saved, and you can save many different versions of it. When you restart, you're back exactly where you were at the moment you saved.

In D2 the game only saves when you quit, and what's saved is not the precise scene you left. Instead, your character begins at a safe base camp, basically in the same condition as when you quit (and with a lootable body lying nearby if s/he had died before quitting), but often there is a great deal of territory to re-explore. The maps are also completely re-populated with monsters which must be fought. There are waypoints that let you skip over different areas, but the areas are large and the waypoints are widely spaced - it can easily take a couple of hours of play to get from one waypoint to the next.

And that's what sucks about Diablo: you can get stuck playing it. The only time that it makes sense to quit is when you've just found a waypoint, because otherwise you'll have to re-conquer all of the terrain you passed since your last waypoint. Which is, frankly, a pain in the ass.

On other fronts: I'm strongly tempted to emulate [livejournal.com profile] unquietsoul5 and start posting lots of photos on my site, now that I can. On the other hand, my photos won't be as good as his. For one thing, I'm a lousy photographer. For another, my camera is a primitive piece of junk. Still another reason is that he has Cambridge and Harvard Square to shoot in (although the Square is by no means as wonderful as it used to be, having been developed nearly to soul-death). I, on the other hand, have...Woonsocket. If you haven't been there, let me explain: a large portion of the population smokes and looks genetically defective (aka "shuggoths"). While Joe can take photos of attractive young people who don't at all mind being photographed (assuming that they are even aware of what he's doing, since their lives are so wonderful and absorbing), I would be photographing people who are A) bored, B) drunk or high, and C) looking for a fight. Oh yes, and D) incredibly stupid. Not everyone in Woonsocket is like that, but the majority of people who sit around in public areas are. I'm told there are a number of prostitutes, too, and no, I won't be looking for them.

So...maybe I'll take up photographing rocks and street signs in out-of-the-way places.
bobquasit: (Default)
Okay, I'm 39 years old so I can't be cool any more. And actually I never was cool. This is not a surprise to anyone who actually knows me, of course. :D

But I've found a couple of cool links, and rather than just note them down for myself, I thought I'd post them here for the 4.2 people who might actually read this.

Unfortunately I'm short of time, so this will be briefer than usual.

Adventure
Adventure was a really fun game for the old Atari 2600. Extremely simple, but it had great playability. There were three levels and three dragons, but there was a rumor that there was a secret fourth level with an acid-breathing dragon (I love that phrase). The actual fourth level wasn't really much of a level, although it was still pretty cool.

Anyway, a guy named Craig Pell made a complete re-creation of Adventure for the PC a while ago. For various reasons he called it "Indenture". And it's available for download here.

Easter Eggs

I found a fun site for Easter Eggs while I was Googling for Adventure/Indenture.

Diablo Columns
Last but not least, this guy wrote a series of Diablo columns that I find extremely amusing: Flux's Decahedron


And now, something that's useful for me.
bobquasit: (Default)
The Ancients were so easy that I went right back and did them again, just to see if I'd get more experience from them (I didn't). I think I used no more than two full rejuves, and both I and my hireling came through in perfect health.

So I quickly cruised down to the next waypoint. The day after I went roaring through the endgame; my hireling died once, but that was it. Baal himself was easy, of course. The worst time was on the final wave of monsters at the Throne of Destruction; they killed my hireling, and I had to lead them on a chase through the rest of the area. That made it easier to pick them off one by one.

Baal himself was fairly easy. Fortunately the ending cinematic is one that doesn't crash my system, so I got to watch that again as well. It's a pity that Blizzard will probably never make a theatrical movie, because someone over there is a fantasy film-making genius.

Since then...I finished off the secret Cow level (although how "secret" can a level be that's documented on the official website?), and cruised through the first two quests on Nightmare level almost before I had realized it.

So now what? Well, I might take a break for a while. It seems that I've reached one of those annoying areas where it's almost impossible to level up. In fact, I suspect that going back to a Normal game and fighting through the last few levels might be more profitable, experience-wise, than running through the Act 1 maps on Nightmare level.

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