[As it turns out, I did another retrospective on Diablo II: The Awakening exactly 4 years ago to this day. But its more about me griping about the transition from AD&D 2e to 3e.]
“Over 1,000,000 new magical items from the AD&D game.”
It’s right there on the back cover. Its one of the reason I bought it back in the latter days of AD&D Second Edition. I was a Diablo fan, and loved the idea of hordes of monsters attacking my players’ characters.
So I used Diablo II: The Awakening as soon as I could.
As the player characters fled the castle of an evil cult, the cult’s master summoned a small army of monsters to chase them down. It looked very close to something like this:
Except now I have more miniatures painted.
The horde came in three waves. In this case, the supplement delivered; I got use monsters from the Diablo franchise: Fallen Ones, Corrupt Rogues, Goat Demons, and even Black Knights and Overlords. The PCs held them off as long as they could.
It was the third-wave, the aerial attack from bat demons and gargoyles, that pushed the characters back into a cave. One player-character (or NPC… I can’t quite remember) cast a scroll of Apocalypse.
In retrospect the Apocalypse is on par with Meteor Swarm, if not better. It does 20d6 to everything a 28 10ft-cube area as determined by the caster. As opposed to either 8 spheres doing 5d4 damage, or 8 spheres doing 10d4.
And just because Apocalypse means “revelation,” I added another effect: amid the conflagration the PCs witness vision things to come–right before the entrance to the cave collapsed and they had to spend the next session to find their way out.
And this was pretty much the only time I used this rule supplement.
You can even run character “kits” (that’s AD&D 2e lingo) from the Diablo franchise: Amazon, Barbarian, Paladin, Sorcerer, and Necromancer. I’ve never used these, beacuse they’re designed for the massive hack-and-slash fest of Diablo.
Sure, I rolled up a couple of magic items on the tables. And there are over a million magic items you can roll up using the “magic of combinatorials” (as either Mike Selinker or Bruce Cordell wrote).
Most of these come straight from the video game. So you can generate a Spiked Club of The Jackal (+4 hit points), or a Pyrite Mask of the Thief (+3 save vs. acid, +33% find/remove traps, -50% damage from traps), or the vaunted Great Sword of the Zodiac (+5 to all ability scores).
These item generation charts do not mesh with the standard charts in the Dungeon Master Guide. Its a different system.
Yet if you want ideas for unique items for your game, this isn’t a bad resource. Just watch the power levels–these items are usually more powerful than the standard fare.
If, for whatever reason, you decide to run your players through a standard Diablo campaign, you’ll roll on these charts every time character breaks open a chest, smashes a barrel, or kills a monster. Every time. That’s a lot of checking for treasure.
(Though the Item Generator on the Wizards of the Coast’s website is still available…you might what to get it while you still can.)
In the middle of the book you’ve got over a 100 monsters–well, sort of. Just like in the video game each critter has a base type and “upgrades.” So the Counselor has a base of 7 HD while an Advocate has 12 HD.
Last, but not least, comes the levels from Diablo I converted into an AD&D format. Griswold is a 7th level fighter, Deckard Cain is a 24th level wizard (sorcerer). Characters can fight “The Butcher”, enter the “Chamber of Bone” and “The Halls of the Blind,” and decent all the way to lowest level and fight Diablo himself. If you’ve played the video game, you know what to expect.
The adventure in the back just has maps of each level, little or no actual room descriptions. Little icons represent monsters. But there are no stats–not even for upgraded monsters such as The Butcher, Gharbad, or the Warlord of Blood. A game master has to do quite a bit of prep work to run the scenarios.
There are quest variants for those familiar with the computer game. For example, after the PCs kill the Butcher on Level 2 there’s a 1 in 4 chance of being ambushed by more monster, or the poisoned river might have healing properties once cleansed.
In sum, there’s enough ideas here that it might be worth getting if you can find it for a reasonable price.
As for actually playing it as is: probably not. Just play the computer game instead.