Diablo (series)

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Deckard Cain

Note: This page is for the first two games. Diablo III has its own page.

A Hack and Slash videogame series from Blizzard Entertainment. Notorious for having an elaborate backstory and plot that nobody ever follows concerning a war between Heaven and Hell. As a sort of simple graphical Roguelike, the pursuit of the perfect randomly-generated equipment and character build to satisfy one's inner Munchkin gives the game tremendous replayability.

The first game was essentially a huge dungeon crawl, consisting of 16 levels of increasing difficulty under Tristram, the only town in the game, where various NPCs provide you with quests, healing, and equipment. The goal was to get to the Big Bad, Diablo, in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. The non-canonical third-party expansion pack Hellfire added eight new separate levels, four new quests (a quest to kill another Diablo-esque baddy in the crypt near the church, a quest from Lester the farmer, a cow quest and a quest to retrieve a teddy bear) as well as three more characters (Monk, Bard and Barbarian) in addition to the original three (Warrior, Rogue and Sorcerer), but you had to enter a special edit to a text file to get the last two of those quests and new characters.

The second game followed the storyline, which ended with the protagonist of the original game implanting Diablo's soulstone into his own forehead (it's implied that it was the warrior). Despite remaining at 640x480, it brought numerous gameplay improvements and was now broken into four acts, each with its own town and six quests per act (except Act 4, which had only three). The expansion pack, Lord of Destruction, added 800x600 resolution, two new characters (Assassin and Druid) in addition to the original five (Barbarian, Necromancer, Amazon, Sorceress and Paladin) and added Act 5, in which, after defeating Mephisto and Diablo in the original game, the player confronted Baal, the last of the three Prime Evils.

The third game in the series, Diablo III, was announced in June 2008 and was released on May 15th, 2012. Trailers for it are on Blizzard's homepage.

Meanwhile, the developers of the first two Diablo games, Blizzard North, resigned en masse and formed "Flagship Studios", which continued to produce Hack and Slash games, specifically Hellgate:London and Mythos. After Flagship folded, the same people formed "Runic Games", which produced Torchlight. All three titles can be considered Spiritual Successors to Diablo; they certainly all play similarly.

See also Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and its spiritual successor Champions of Norrath. A character sheet is on the works.


Diablo (series) is the Trope Namer for:

Tropes used in Diablo (series) include:
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewers under Lut Gholein. Averted somewhat since there are passageways that are tiny and cramped and will only allow one character to move forward at a time. The sewers under Kurast are larger still.
  • Action Girl: The Amazon, the Sorceress, the Assassin, the NPC Rogues.
  • Affably Evil: "I shall take your position into consideration."
  • All There in the Manual: Background information for much of the series is not actually in the game, though you do get plenty of tidbits from NPCs.
    • In Diablo II, practically any information about items in the game, such as Horadric Cube recipes, crafted item formulas and Rune Words, or even what's a magic/rare/set/unique item and their colors, are not explained in-game, and are explained here instead.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Oddly enough, it's not the actual Amazon class but the Female Barbarian, who (at least in concept art) looks like a buff version of Red Sonja.
  • Ambiguously Brown: The sorceress and the paladin in Diablo II.
  • And I Must Scream: The Diablo Warrior. You know that somewhere during his voyage to the East, he realized that Diablo has more and more control over him, and that instead of seeking salvation, Diablo will make him free another Prime Evil.
    • Tal Rasha, deliberately having himself imprisoned with Baal's soul inside him in much the same way, intending to fight it inside him for all eternity.
    • Inarius the angel. Mephisto tore the wings from his back, sliced open his eyelids, and sealed him in a prison of mirrors. He's got nothing to do for the rest of eternity except gaze upon the reflection of his ruined form.
  • Animate Dead: Justified on the website. Evidently skeletons are actually dirt and bone dust held together by magic, rather than actual skeletons.
    • Revive is the Necromancer spell that turns corpses of monsters into your minions.
    • The Witch Doctor's Wall of Zombies spell in the third game.
  • Anti-Grinding: In the first game, each floor had a finite number of enemies, limiting experience and item acquisition.
    • It's obvious fast enough that you can still grind by starting a new game with the same character, resetting the entire dungeon bosses and all.
  • April Fools' Day: Deckard Cain GPS voice pack.
  • Ax Crazy: Every hero from 2.
    • Equip a Barbarian with an axe (or two). Cast Berserk. or Frenzy. Literal example. Ax, crazy.
    • Really, every hero from 1 as well. By the sequel, the first game's Rogue is Blood Raven, the Sorcerer is the Summoner, and the Warrior is the Big Bad (though they were all corrupted by demons to some degree).
  • Badass: Any character who dives into hell and makes it his/her own blood soaked parking lot deserves special mention. Especially single handed.
  • Badass Beard: Possible explanation for the Monk's Bald of Awesome.
  • Badass Boast: In Diablo II, just before you're about to fight Diablo; "Not even death can save you from me!" He's right.
  • Bag of Holding: The Horadric Cube is four inventory spaces outside, twelve inside.
  • Bald of Awesome: Diablo II Barbarian.
  • Barbarian Hero: The Barbarian is available as a character class in Diablo II.
  • Battle Trophy: In II, after a victory in PvP mode, you win the ear of your foe.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Diablo II has scores of them.
  • Big Good: Tyrael.
  • Big Red Devil: Guess who?
  • Black and Gray Morality: See Light Is Not Good. With a few exceptions, the forces of Heaven have little to no regard for humanity. At best, they see them as pawns in their war against Hell and at worst they want to completely wipe out Sanctuary because it is part demonic.
  • Black Mage: The Sorceress in Diablo II.
  • The Blacksmith: Griswold in Diablo I. Followed by several in the second game: Charsi, Fara, Hratli, Halbu and Larzuk.
  • Blood Bath: One monster in Diablo II, dubbed "The Countess" in reference to Elizabeth Bathory, is described as having "bathed in the rejuvenating blood of a hundred virgins" in the tome that initiates her quest. And her room in the old tower contains a basin full of (still fresh-looking) blood.
  • Boastful Rap: Bind Those Keys by Amerigo Vespucci. Yep, an actually good fan song about Diablo II.
  • Bonus Boss: Über Diablo. Lilith. Über Izual. Über Duriel. Beating the last three gets you items that take you to Über Tristram where you can fight Über Baal, Über Mephisto, and Pandemonium Diablo (who is even more Über than Über Diablo). There's a lot of them.
  • Bonus (Difficulty) Level of Hell
  • Boobs of Steel: How the Amazon in Diablo II can move around without her assets getting in the way is truly something. Other females in the series are more realistically endowed.
    • See also Breast Plate for the same Amazon.
    • Lampshaded in one of the dialogue options with Larzuk.
  • Boss Banter
  • Boss Dissonance: Boss fights in the series are often a lot more difficult than the areas before or after them. The Butcher in I Duriel in II are two good examples.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: Your warrior in the first game ought to hang on to a bow in case he gets a chance to shoot anything through a portcullis. (Most enemies can't open doors.) For the Rogue, this is much more important, as if she's caught at close range she needs a sword and shield to defend herself.
  • Breakable Weapons
  • Brutal Bonus Level
    • Hell Tristram and the super version, Chaos Tristram. They require items you have to fight Hell difficulty act bosses to maybe see. And this isn't the only stage in the process...
  • The Butcher: "Aaaah, Fresh Meat!"
  • Cast from Hit Points: A unique curse that Baal and some of his succubus minions cast causes players with more mana than health (i.e. most spellcasters) to use up health instead of mana when using their abilities, essentially forcing them to cast from their hit points.
    • The Paladins "Sacrifice" skill plays it straight
  • Catgirl: Jaguar Women enemies, and variants.
  • Cheap Gold Coins: * A gold piece is the tiniest unit of currency in the game. Level 1 monsters routinely carry up to 10 gold pieces (which they drop on the ground when you kill them). Vendors are willing to pay you 2 gold pieces for a damaged club (basically a broken stick). By level 10, you'll be carrying around (and paying) thousands of gold pieces.
  • Clown Car Grave: The infinitely annoying mummy sarcophagi. The official website says that they were never designed as a resting place but instead as a way to guard the tombs and that the fake mummies are artificially created whenever an intruder is detected.
  • Combat Medic: The Paladin is the closest thing to a 'healing' class in the game with his combat auras.
    • And, ya know, Holy Bolt, which is actually a healing spell. Still, the game consciously avoided healbots.
  • Combat Tentacles: Andariel, the Maiden of Anguish, uses four of these, each tipped with a spike.
    • Baal has this as an attack. He uses them to kill Marius.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Act IV's River of Flame.
  • Cool Sword: The angelic runeblade Azurewrath (which was mentioned in the first game's manual, introduced in Diablo II as a unique crystal sword, then later updated into a much more powerful phase blade) has been given an Awesome model for Diablo III.
  • Corrupt Church: The Zakarum in the second game, except for the PC Paladins. The Archbishop Lazarus was part of the Zakarum in the first game, although as an individual he qualifies as Evil Chancellor.
  • Council of Angels
  • Crapsack World: Well, technically the tie-in novels make it a Crap Saccharine World, but the games themselves focus on what happens when the veil's stripped away, followed three seconds later by the flesh off your skull.
  • Crate Expectations: Wonderfully averted in Diablo II. There is (usually) one interactive crate in the entire game. One. Everything else is either a barrel, a jar, or some horrible hellish construction involving Nothing but Skulls.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: A few of the archetypes.
    • "Smiters" and "Kicksins" rely on combining high crushing blow (takes a large chuck of a foes HP) chances with high attack speed (to get crushing blow off a lot). They tend to be poor in non-boss non-PVP situations.
    • "Summonmancers" are considered by far the easiest class to solo the game with. They can not function at all in PVP unless you're able to perform a successful "tele-stomp" which involves teleporting yourself and all your minions onto someone and killing them with the combined might of their blows.
    • In Hell difficulty, every monster has total immunity to at least one form of attack. If you're playing a character specialized in that form of attack to the exclusion of all others, your life will be... difficult. Single-element sorceresses, and warrior-type characters who deal only physical damage, are the most common victims of this.
  • Damage Increasing Debuff: Amplify Damage in II reduces the target's physical resistance, as do some other skills. Of course, enemies have similar abilities as well...
  • Damage Over Time: Lots of abilities and effects deal their damage slowly, poison being the most common.
  • Damage Sponge Boss: Izual, first boss encountered in Hell, from Diablo II.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Necromancer in the 2nd game is, going by his commentary, at worst an Anti-Hero. The official website states that his own purposes are often aligned with those of the forces of Light.
    • According to the manual his order are masters of keeping themselves level-headed and strive for perfect balance. He is on the side of good simply because evil is in danger of winning. In other words, the trope is played perfectly straight; Dark may not be good, but it sure as hell isn't evil. (Unless the angels somehow get the upper hand...)
    • The manual also states that the fact that they don't fear death and they seek only to maintain balance means that they're the only mage clan that has never been corrupted by demonic influence.
  • Deconstruction: Arguably. The protagonists spend the entire game battling Demonic Invaders and Eldritch Abominations. Of course they go bonkers.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: "Pulling"
  • Demon Slaying: You will be doing this a lot in this series.
  • Devil but No God: Averted. There isn't a devil either. In Hell you have the Three Prime Evils and their four lieutenants, and in Heaven you have the Angelic Council. Sanctuary itself was created by a relationship between an angel and demon.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The whole point of the game.
  • Downer Ending: In the first game your character is corrupted by Diablo's soulstone and becomes one of the sequel's Big Bads. The sequel ends with Tyrael destroying the Worldstone, which is apparently the only thing holding Sanctuary apart from Heaven and Hell.
  • Dual-Wielding:
    • In Diablo II, the Barbarian class is able to dual-wield any single-handed weapons, and use any two-handed sword in one hand (and thus dual-wield two-handed swords).
    • In the Diablo II expansion, the Assassin class is able to dual-wield claw-class weapons, and has a passive skill to use them as a shield while doing so.
    • The Bard had a crude form of it; they reused the Rogue animations so she's only ever shown holding one sword, but gets double damage and the ability to hit multiple enemies simultaneously when equipped with two.
  • Dump Stat: Energy tends to be looked down upon. There's only one, maybe two, builds where a guide does not explicitly tell you to never, ever put a point into energy.
  • Dying Town: Tristram in the original Diablo and the Kurast Docks in Diablo II.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: Used with the armors.
  • Elemental Powers: The basis of the powers used by the Mage Clans. The "traditional" Clans, exemplified by the Sorcerer of I and Sorceress of II, use Fire, Ice and Lightning. The Necromancer, also from II, uses Death (combines Necromancy, Blood Magic and Black Magic) and Poison.
  • Elite Mook: Quite literally. Elite mooks basically have a different colored name, more hit points, some new powers, and drop higher loot. Otherwise, they're the same as their type. They also tend to be surrounded by a cadre of their type, which are normal except for a single buff.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: The tie-in novel "The Kingdom of Shadow" centers around this, coupled with Crap Saccharine World.
  • Enemy Summoner: Sand maggots in Diablo II which spit poison and lay eggs.
    • The aforementioned "summonomancers" can have a small army of skeleton minions, plus a merc and a Golem.
  • Enough to Go Around: Played straight with anything you need to advance the plot, but unfortunately averted with the Infinity Plus One Charms dropped by the Bonus Bosses. Except the Standard of Heroes. Figures.
  • Eternal Equinox: Present in Diablo II.
  • Everything's Better with Cows: The Cow Level.
  • Lava Adds Awesome: The spells "Volcano" and "Molten Boulder".
  • Evil Laugh: Seems that Baal finds many things funny.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Summoner.
  • Expanded Universe: A number of novels penned in the world of Sanctuary, including the Word of God canonized Sin War Trilogy starring the Sanctuary equivalent of Heracles/Jesus set thousands and thousands of years before the games take place.
  • Experience Booster: The Experience Shrines in Diablo II provide a temporary boost to your experience gain rate.
  • Fallen Angel: Izual, Inarius, Imperius, and probably others. The apparent lack of any Ascended Demons bodes ill for the fate of the setting.
  • Fallen Hero: All three player-characters from the first game wound up this way by the time of the second. The warrior became possessed by Diablo's soulstone; the rogue...well, Blood Raven's her; and the sorcerer became the Summoner who's causing Lut Gholein a small hell's worth of grief. And possibly every hero from the second game has gone Ax Crazy or some other form of loopy. Yes, the Paladin included.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Both Tal Rasha and the warrior from the first Diablo make the unwise decision to insert a soulstone containing a demon into their bodies. The end results were not pretty for either of them. Tal Rasha knew exactly what he was getting into and why, and the PC had been corrupted by Diablo himself, but it still sucked in the end.
  • Fake Difficulty - Loads of it once you get to the aptly-named Hell Difficulty. -100 to all of your resistances, life and mana stealing is drastically reduced, minions and mercenaries are Nerfed beyond recognition, every enemy is immune to something (except act bosses, some really special superuniques, quill rats and hell bovines), massive experience loss upon death... the list goes on.
    • Arguably not "fake" since excelling at the various skills that the game demands (item collection, character building, etc.) allows you to overcome these penalties and then some. Well-made characters can exist quite safely in almost all areas of Hell. Particularly optimized defensive builds can literally be parked and left unmonitored for extended periods of time in all but the most dangerous of areas.
    • Pre-1.10 MSLE, and to a lesser extent, post-1.10 LEFE, LECE, or LEFECE monsters probably still count, though, since dealing any damage to them can mean insta-death.[1]
  • Fantastic Racism: The Angel Imperius displays this in the Expanded Universe. Even Tyrael shared his prejudice before Uldyssian's Heroic Sacrifice showed him that humanity was capable of nobility and virtue.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Played completely straight in Diablo, with the Warrior, Sorcerer, and Rogue, respectively. In Diablo II, the archetypes get expanded on and diversified, with the Paladin and Barbarian descending from the Warrior, the Assassin and Amazon descending from the Rogue, and so on. Most classes can be played as two or even all three types, though.
  • Fireballs: It has fire magic in it after all so that's almost compulsory.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: a few variants of this, but played completely straight by the Sorceress.
  • Fishing for Mooks: A strategy in some cases as you do not want to go wading into large melees, the barbarians taunt can be used to lure enemies away from other enemies. This can help in defeating fallen shamans but is generally regarded as a waste of skill points.
    • Waste of skill point, arguably, though the ability to get basically any monster that does anything complicated or dangerous to stop doing it and instead walk right up to you and get its ass kicked is handy sometimes.
  • Fling a Light Into the Future: Evilly subverted. Azmodan pulls this with himself and his forces, sealing himself away until the heroes who defeated his fellow Prime Evils would be unable to stop him.
  • Fourth Wall Observer: Malah in Lord of Destruction.

"You knew it would eventually come down to this. Kill Baal. Finish the game!"

  • Full Set Bonus: Some armor and items give these.
  • Get on the Boat: You need access to a ship to get from Lut Gholein to Kurast in II.
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: Technically Duriel. He is an important lore character and has a detailed backstory, but unlike Andariel he received no build up or foreshadowing for his fight.
    • Somewhat justified since he's essentially a Bait and Switch Boss there to end the act with a twist by making the player think they're about to face Baal.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: There doesn't seem to be a God in the setting (with the Prime Evils dividing up the duties of Satan) but the angels of the High Heavens are more concerned with saving their own asses than those of the mortals of Sanctuary (whom most angels would just as soon see effaced anyway, since the way it came to existence means it's inherently half-demonic. They don't want anything that isn't pure angelic to exist.). The demons from the Burning Hells, of course, aren't picky with their prey, so the world is just as crappy as you'd imagine as a result.
    • Although one angel, Tyræl, does eventually decide to take matters into his own hands (and gets his ass kicked.)
  • Gradual Grinder: Necromancers, and oddly enough, Paladins.
    • A well-made Paladin has no business grinding away. Blessed Hammer, Smite, and Zeal are some of the highest DPS skills in the game, and none of their other active skills are at all grindy.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: In a way - the name of the Unique crossbow "Buriza-Do Kyanon" is pretty much what you'll get if you spell out "blizzard cannon" in Katakana.
  • Grid Inventory: Diablo virtually named this trope.
  • Ground Pound
  • Guide Dang It: Many game mechanics are not described in game or in the manual. Attack speeds, for example, in Diablo II are different between characters, do not often correspond to the descriptions given for items, multiple attack moves like Zeal and Strafe increase the speed in unusual ways, and these and other properties are not described anywhere, they had to be found by outside players in outside guides.
    • There's a guide written up for the technical details how poison damage works, including how it gets overwritten and how to convert damage over time in-game as relates to time IRL, to help use it viably as a damage-over-time effect. Without knowing this, it's easy to overwrite/nerf your own damage and come to the conclusion that poison simply sucks.
    • This is compounded by the so-called "LCS" - or "Lying Character Screen". Literally the only number it can't get wrong is your level, and inaccurate stats can appear as early as level 3. The attack (and related chance to hit), defense (and related chance to be hit), and damage numbers are particularly meaningless, having absolutely no relation to the actual figures used once you have a few different sources of bonuses to these things.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Goatmen and catmen. Also inverted, humans are in fact demon/angel hybrids.
  • Happy Ending Override: The second game is one of the few games that matches Chrono Cross in the sheer brutality of this--everything you did only made the problem worse. It looks like the third will apply this to the second as well.
  • Hard Levels Easy Bosses: For most decently well built characters, act bosses tend to be more of a punching bag than any challenge. The real killers in the game? Multiple packs of unique and minions, bosspack archers and other dangerous melee monsters like frenzytaurs, gloams and tomb vipers, and generally speaking powered up regular mooks.
  • Hard Mode Perks: Drops on Nightmare and Hell difficulties are much better.
  • High Fantasy: The game takes place in a separate world called Santuary.
  • Hit and Run Tactics: Tonnes of opportunities to deploy this trope are listed on the trope page. Deploy this trope against any melee opponent who looks too scary.
  • Health Damage Asymmetry: In Diablo II:
    • Monsters in hell difficulty usually have base attack damage that are around 1/100th of their HP.
      • Maw Fiend (a Stone Wall): 1112819782 HP, 81139 melee attack, 130~160 corpse spit damage
      • Burning Soul (a Glass Cannon / Demonic Spider): 20085059 HP, 42108 attack damage, (42108)+(188282) lightning damage.
        • The Burning Soul is a poor example, simply because its damage is bugged. It is supposed to do 42~108 damage, but it actually does five times this figure because of a code bug, instantaneously making it the most dangerous monster in the game (pre-1.13, Iron Maiden using Oblivion Knights would have been competition; see below).
        • The Burning Soul is still extremely dangerous even with patch 1.13. The combination of fast, extremely long range, and high damage lightning that are rapidly spammed, which means a character without maxed lightning resistance in hell difficulty will die extremely quickly.
    • The Necromancer skill Iron Maiden bounces cause enemies to take 6.75x of damage they deal with their melee attacks. It's not an effective skill in Nightmare and Hell difficulties. On the other hand, Oblivion Knights using Iron Maiden was extremely deadly to players that rely on melee attacks, until patch 1.13 removed this skill from this monster.
    • Nihlathak's Corpse Explosion deals only 20% damage in Hell difficulty. And well-geared players still get owned by this badly.
    • Players deals 1/6 damage to other players.
    • As of patch 1.10 and later, monsters have +50% HP, +50% EXP and deals +6.25% damage for each additional player in the game beyond the first.
    • The game does not display flying damage numbers anywhere, just graphical health bars.
    • It's possible that poorly geared characters, that can deal more damage than their own HP, end up having trouble killing monsters in hell difficulty.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Every protagonist. No exceptions.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: The narrator and Mephisto are voiced by Paul Eiding, who some may instantly recognize as the voice of the Colonel from Metal Gear Solid.
    • And Aldaris from StarCraft.
    • And Grandpa Max
    • Marius and Lysander the potion merchant were voiced by Frank Gorshin, who played the Riddler in the 1960s Batman series.
    • Charsi the blacksmith in Act 1 is voiced by Glynnis Talken, who also voiced Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft.
    • The voice of the Druid and Nihlathak in Lord of Destruction is The Prophet and Raziel.
    • Natalya sounds a lot like Jaina.
  • Hospitality for Heroes: The reward for one of the quests in Diablo II is that shopkeepers give you a discount.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Den of Evil. Halls of the Dead. Flayer Dungeon. In fact, it would be easier to list locations that aren't this trope.
  • Ice Breaker: Using cold magic or cold-enchanted equipment can shatter an enemy to bits, leaving no corpse. This works best against skeletons in Act II.
    • It's also a good backup plan when you try to Cut Off the Snakes Head in a pack of enemies where lieutenants revive mooks and a unique revive lieutenants but fail because it's too tightly packed to allow you access to the unique. Destroy enough mooks that cannot be resurrected and suddenly their rapid-fire reviving is worthless.
  • Impossible Item Drop: One of the worst offenders. Watch in awe as a swarm of insects spits up a suit of plate mail!
  • Improbable Power Discrepancy
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests. Even in hell. To be fair, the chests there are skeletal cages and corpses. Although most of them are called "Hidden Stash" or similar, which is really weird since they usually stand in the wide open and consist of neatly tiled skeletons and a flickering flame.
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Tristram is delimited by these on all four sides in Diablo.
    • The sequel isn't nearly as bad as the first (Act II is a desert, with each region surrounded by cliffs; Act III is a jungle, and the trees are apparently solid walls; Act IV is Hell, at first on floating rocks in a field of darkness, and then islands on a river of fire; Act V is a mountain, and portals into Hell, and a big scary dungeon full of big red crystals), but Act I is a bunch of fields, surrounded by stone and wooden fences that a child could jump over.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: And the Assassin doesn't even need them...
  • In-Universe Game Clock: In Diablo II, a day/night cycle is present but it usually affects only visibility.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle
  • Last of His Kind: Deckard Cain is the last of the Horadrim.
  • The Legions of Hell
  • Level Map Display: Especially necessary given that the maps are randomized.
  • Level Up Fill Up
  • Light Is Not Good: Turns out all the angels except Tyrael, and perhaps Hadriel, are barely any better than the demons. Whether or not they're worse is up for debate because unlike the demons, no one actually knows what they're up to.
    • At least one of them, the Archangel of War, wanted to genocide the entirety of humanity and Class X-4 Apocalypse How the material plane of Sanctuary on the grounds of "Demons had some hand in making it exist." Light is definitely not good in the Diablo universe.
  • A Lighter Shade of Gray: While the other angels are described as unfathomable in their motivations, Tyrael has humanity's best interests at heart.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: As with nearly all branches of RPG's that host both Fighter and Mage types, Diablo II plays this pretty straight. In early levels your physical, combat class will sweep the floor with any Mooks standing in their way. Later levels see the caster become a borderline Game Breaker, especially those who went with Frost or Cold effects.
    • Not... really. Casters are easier since they depend less on items (most Fighters basically require quite good items to succeed, while some casters can get by with any old thing), and the Sorceress has free access to Teleport which makes a huge difference, but for the toughest bosses, a Fighter is always better. A "Smiter" can beat Uber Tristram with relatively mediocre items; for a Sorceress, it's almost impossible without preposterously rare items.
    • Averted in PvP: every single class has several builds to duel with at each PvP level cap. There are melee builds dubbed "caster killers" for how effectively they can trash Necromancers, casting Druids and Sorceresses. This is in part due to a piece of armor which gives any class the ability to teleport, a skill normally reserved for the Sorceress. Even low-level duels are well-matched between caster and melee.
      • But only with Enigma[2]
  • Living Legend: The hero of the first, not so much. But of the second? Travels the world, solving everyone's problems and actually kills all three lords of hell. Living Legend.
  • Made of Explodium: The first game had the occasional explosive barrel and fireball, but the second is particularly bad about this. Magic can make nearly anything explode - arrows, snowballs, the earth itself, and most notably, corpses in a variety of gruesome ways.
    • Any monsters with the Fire Enchanted property explode spontaneously when they die, no matter how it happens, leaving only copious quantities of blood and goo. You don't want to be too close when that happens.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet: Attracting demons is an Informed Flaw of using magic, but since you have a fair chance of being torn apart by them any time you set foot outside your house anyway, at least you'll be better able to defend yourself...
  • Mana
  • Min-Maxing
  • The Minion Master: Summon-focused necromancers. They can have more than 30 minions of various types on screen at a time, which is a Game Breaker in multiple senses.
  • Mirror Boss: Nihlathak and The Ancients use skills accessible to Necromancers and Barbarians. Nihlathak in particular is fitting, as using your abilities quick enough prevents him from using the same (very deadly) abilities against you (both use up corpses)
  • Money for Nothing: Money has three uses in Diablo II. Reviving your mercenary, repairing your gear, and gambling (in which you spend money on an item with unknown properties). It's still one of the best ways to get good equipment in single player.
    • Early on, it's a good idea to buy gear regularly. And every now and then, you can get some useful but expensive gear from the right merchant. Especially for the Paladin, the Sorceress and the Necromancer, because they need specific weapons that don't drop more often than others, and cannot be acquired through gambling.
  • Money Spider: Everything you slay drops gold, from giant bugs to yetis to demons. Usually they drop an item or two as well.
  • Mook Maker: Several enemies can revive dead enemies (such as the fallen shaman). Also, the player character, if he plays as the necromancer, as he has the ability to summon Helpful Mooks (such as skeletons and Golems).
  • MST3K Mantra: This is a requirement. Fridge Logic avoided.
  • Multishot: Several of the Amazon powers.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Black Death in Diablo, and their ability to permanently lower your health by one point causes even experienced players to avoid them like the plague.
    • The fact that they can crash the game when dealing a finishing blow to the player in earlier versions, makes it worse.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Every hero in the series has done something or another to screw things up. Including frigging Tyrael, your archangel ally.
  • Nintendo Hard: Hell difficulty since patch 1.10 in Diablo II, where it was massively beefed up as a result of being It's Easy, So It Sucks in the prior patches. To stand a chance in this difficulty level you need to have a proper character build, to play through the game so many times over to level your stats, and the proper equipment dropable only on this difficulty at extremely low rates, to stand a chance against the later bosses.
    • In Hardcore mode, the difficulty of the game essentially forces you to play cooperatively; beating the game on your own requires a very specialized build and a great deal of skill and/or patience.
  • No Hero Discount: Demons about to overrun the countryside? Tragic. Want your armor repaired? Cash up front!
    • Even Tyrael and the two merchants in Act IV of Diablo II will charge money, though they at least have an excuse. Tyrael charges because he's an angel, and because of the pact, cannot directly intervene on behalf of humanity. Being the only angel who gives a shit, he still wants to help. There are similar rules for the two human merchants in the Pandemonium fortress with Tyrael.
    • Hilariously lampshaded in the official Diablo II online database; "In Act IV, Tyrael will resurrect your Hireling but he will charge you. What does he do with that gold? Angels got to pay the bills too."
    • Oddly subverted in that there is one quest in act II which will reduce prices. But there isn't in act V, which underlines most your transition from "unwelcome stranger" to "hero of the nation".
      • There is one in every act. But the one in Act V reduces the prices from double than normal to normal, so it's basically the highest discount.
  • Nothing but Skulls: Skullpiles as treasure chests, in addition to lying strewn about in Chaos Sanctuary. Made worse by the nature of the Random Drops game - How can you not find a skull in a pile of skulls?
    • Justified in that the skulls you want are the skulls of arcane demons - apparently the rest are a more mundane variety.
  • One-Hit Kill: Some builds are focused around doing so much damage in a single strike that they can kill any monster or opponent in PvP. Notably, the twinked Blizzard Sorceress and the Charging Paladin. It is also technically possible, with perfectly set-up gear and skills, to kill the final boss on the hardest difficulty over the course of several minutes with a single stab from a Necromancer's Poison Dagger skill.
    • Due to a bug in how damage is dealt when Fire-Enchanted monsters explode upon death, they can easily OHK an unprepared player. The mini-boss Nihlathak is infamous for both his potential to drop desirable items and his potential to kill even prepared players in an instant by using the corpses of his dead minions as area-of-effect bombs.
  • One-Man Army: Every playable character in the Diablo games can, and will, kill hundreds (if not thousands) of demons and other creatures over the course of the adventure.
  • One Size Fits All: A frail and shaky Witch Doctor can wear the same armor as a massive Barbarian, provided the stat requirements are met.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: In most cases, non-Vitality point assignment is only recommended for meeting equipment requirements. What happened to avoiding getting hit, and so being able to add to strength and agility? Well, all right, so far it's only Amazons who get to enjoy Slow Missiles...
  • One-Time Dungeon: The Cow Level can only be played once per difficulty level if they kill the Cow King.
    • Apparently it just sets the flag to being unable to transmute the Cow Level opening formula, rather than barring entry into the portal. Therefore subsequent Cow King kills are possible in multiplayer with the help of other "virgin" Cow Level players.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Light tentacles instead of wings, tend to wear armor and face-concealing cloaks. As far as alignment goes, they are ostensibly on your side, but don't expect any help from anyone other than Tyrael. Appear to lean towards being dicks, again with the exception of Tyrael and a few novel-only angels.
  • Overdrawn At the Blood Bank: And not just monsters. The Paladin in Diablo II has a skill called Sacrifice, which grants him bonus damage in exchange for losing some health. Every time he uses the skill, about a gallon of blood spills out of him.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: It's hard to make the Diablo II expansion climactic when the previous game ended with you effectively beating the Devil in Hell.
  • Palette Swap: The different monster varieties, from 3 to 6 variants, as well as champion/unique monsters.
  • Pamphlet Shelf: Bookshelves in the series usually yield a single spell tome at best.
  • Perpetual Beta: Both games have suffered from this. Diablo had a long history of Good Bad Bugs and Game Breaking Bugs, most notably item-duplicating, in its day. The second game is more notable for being in this state even after a decade of semi-annual support. Most skills are bugged and many are outright broken even after ten years of patches. A few particularly offensive examples of bugs that still plague it:
    • The "Lying Character Screen". Due to the character screen not being updated in patch while fundamental game mechanics have been, the character screen is notorious for displaying incorrect numbers for every gameplay value except the player's name, level, experience, and health.
    • Melee spear skills for the Amazon class are so broken that players will call you crazy for considering them. One skill has such a slow animation that a monster can walk away before it lands. There's also a multi-strike skill that, as soon as any hit misses in the sequence or is interrupted (including by any of the Amazon's passive damage avoidance skills), all subsequent hits will miss while the animation plays out and you are beaten to death.
    • Both skills that use a certain attack animation, which looks like a continuous blast of flame or ice, can only hit one target. Furthermore, these skills do less than 1/3rd the damage they should. This is because the missile used disappears once it hits a target, rather than continuing to exist to deal damage in spite of the ongoing animation giving the illusion it's working.
    • There is the Gloam enemy that has two attacks: a powerful touch-based attack and a ranged lightning blast. The damage from the first attack is inexplicably added to the damage from the second attack making it one of the most infamous monsters in the game.
    • Due to faulty coding a Viper enemy, on Hell difficulty, fires poison blasts from its mouth that leave behind invisible hitboxes that do massive physical as well as poison damage and hit up to 12.5 times per second. This can and will kill any character not specifically built to fully negate the damage to be killed within seconds if they meet the conditions to trigger the bug. The conditions? Walking, or having an ally stand near you. They're also notorious for murdering your NPC ally without a moment's notice. Veteran players will usually just Save & Quit rather than deal with them.
    • If a boss monster gets a certain kind of randomly generated Mana Drain power, it drains 512x as much mana as intended. This makes it go from an annoying perk to an instantly debilitating one that can result in (nearly) instant death for sorceresses who used the Energy Shield skill (which allows the player to lose mana instead of health when attacked).
  • Physical Heaven: Diablo II has you sent to Hell to kill Diablo. Turns out the forces of heaven have set up a fortress there and in fact have a few angels patrolling the place trying to keep things under control. Care to guess how that turned out?
  • Physical Hell: Of course, there wouldn't be a game otherwise. Not there originally, Diablo makes it literally out of Nightmare Fuel.
  • Random Drops: a given, taking into account the genre of the game.
    • Rare Random Drop: At extremely slim odds for some items. For example, the chance of anything in the game dropping a Zod (the rarest rune) ranges from zero (cannot drop) to 1:some six digit number.
      • Mercifully, the latest patch has made the rarest runes drop more frequently - still incredibly rare, but it is now reasonably likely for a high-level player to see a few in a Season. Before it was possible for a player to never see some runes in their entire career - unless you traded for dupes.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: The bow is hardly the warrior's most useful weapon, but it can be handy if an enemy is behind a grate or if you need to exchange fire with something that won't let you close enough to engage in melee for a meaningful length of time.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: The Holy Bolt spell does two things: damage undead mobs, and heal friendlies.
  • Roguelike: The randomly-generated dungeon maps and loot, and the Save Game Limits designed to prevent Save Scumming, essentially make it a real-time Roguelike with isometric graphics and multiplayer. Hardcore mode in Diablo II features the Roguelike tradition of the permanency of death, and the option of having your corpse lootable is similar to the bones file feature of Nethack.
    • Word of God says that it was a more traditional turn-based Roguelike (albeit one with isometric graphics) during early development, until someone turned off the pause between turns to see what would happen and was pleasantly surprised...
  • Ruins for Ruins Sake
  • Rule of Three: To craft the weapon that will open the path to Mephisto's lair, You must use the Eye, Heart, and Brain of Khalim.
  • Saving the World: What you are supposed to do.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Soulstones.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: In Diablo II, Tal Rasha uses his own body as an extension of a soulstone to imprison Baal. He is possessed, and has to be tied up and magically bound in a tomb, his spirit fighting Baal's for eternity. Or until Marius came along and tugged on the ringpull. Ooops.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The randomly-generated items and monsters sometimes have matching affixes, leading to things such as "Flaming Longsword of Flame" and "Ghostly Ghost".
  • Shout-Out: In Diablo II, it's possible to hire a mercenary named "Jarulf"; being the screen name of Pedro Faria, the author of the greatest Diablo resource Jarulf's Guide.
    • It's also possible to hire a mercenary called "|Klaatu"
    • And a bunch of the Rogue mercenaries are named after staff on the old "official unofficial" diabloii.net site.
    • Also, one of the rare 'Dirk' class weapons is called 'The Diggler,' which is almost certainly a reference to the movie Boogie Nights.
    • Let's not forget the lore behind the Blessed Hammer skill. If you use it, you're channeling the energy released the day when a bunch of nuns nearly sacrificed themselves to save a holy Hammer. What's the name of that hammer? Why, the Hammer of Ghrab Thaar, of course, according to the game's manual.
    • In the first Diablo, there was a Staff called the 'Rod of Onan' which could never ever be a reference to the Biblical story of the sin of Onan. It summoned golems from the earth.
    • There's also the mini-boss The Summoner, who bears a distinct resemblance to a certain kids TV Villain...
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: In-game, at least. Everyone who was present in the canonical games and expansions has a part in the canon. As a boss.
  • Skill Point Reset: Diablo II is infamous for its unforgiving skill tree system which forced many players to start the game all over again when it turned out their skill build wasn't any good later on. Fortunately a one-time reset was added in a patch, and a certain late game item also allows this, making it slightly less jarring.
  • Skyward Scream - The first game's ending.
  • So Long and Thanks For All the Gear: If you hire a new mercenary while you have an old one, the old one disappears with whatever equipment you gave him/her.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance - The Cain Rap.
  • Speed Run - Diablo manages to hold two speedruns that are astounding for entirely opposite reasons: The original Diablo was crushed in 0:03:12(!) through obscene luck manipulation and glitching, while Diablo II has a much longer run of 4:22:xx beating the game 100%... on Normal, Nightmare, and Hell, all from a fresh file.
  • Squishy Wizard - The Necromancer and Sorceress are the 'squishy' classes. The Druid can be as well, but certain builds (especially those that focus on shapeshifting) are more durable.
    • Despite being squishy by his stats, a Necromancer who focuses on summons is easily among the safest of heroes, having several tons of undead flesh and bone between him and anything nasty. Highly recommended for fresh solo characters, who must go it without hand-me-downs. Sorceresses focusing on Energy Shield can accomplish exceptional feats of durability as well, but it's much harder and much less common.
    • For enemies, there's the Summoner, who can deal lot of damage to you from a long distance but goes down pretty easily, if you can manage to get through the multitude of weaker enemies surrounding him to actually hit him.
  • Stock Sound Effect - Blizzard abuses this often. Minotaurs' death in Diablo II is one of the examples.
  • Sturgeon's Law: 90% of any drops you get is worthless junk.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: The hero from the first game is the Big Bad of the second.
  • Sword Drag - the Rot Walkers in Diablo II, Act V do this.
  • Take Your Time: Present in all games, although some exceptions do exist. If you don't rescue Cain from his cage in II before moving on, the Rogues will do it for you and he'll ask for a fee when identifying items.
  • Teaser Equipment: The enterprising young boy Wirt randomly sells a high-level item, but you're unlikely to be able to purchase it until later. Even though that item is generated at random, it's generally of a higher level than what the normal item shops are selling, though not always relevant to your class. By the time you'll generally be able to purchase it, the gear in other shops has largely caught up.
  • Third Person Person: Ormus's dialogue.
  • This Was His True Form
  • Too Awesome to Use: Jewels and runes in II are just rare enough, and can only be used once.
  • Underground Monkey
  • The Unfought: As of Lord of Destruction, Azmodan and Belial are the only Evils, Prime or Lesser, that have not been fought.
  • Universal Poison: And universal antidote. It's elemental poison, after all.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The protagonist of Diablo. Even the Archangel Tyrael falls into this category a bit. Or a lot, if you believe Izual. Arguably everyone in the series was a Unwitting Pawn to the Prime Evils. Especially in the first game. Nobody ever figures out the true agendas of the Prime Evils until it's too late.
    • Poor, poor Marius.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: The cow level in the first game. It's an actual level in the second, with its "secrecy" in It Was His Sled territory.
    • Possibly referenced with the exploding cow corpses in Tristram in Diablo II.
  • Urban Segregation: Kurast.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted for the most part. While at first sight anything that has to do with freezing, stunning, knocking back, fleeing, or converting won't work on anyone important, they DO work well on those "anyone important"'s minions, and a well built character (and their merc) can take on even the scariest uniques one on one if the minions are not joining the fight.
    • The synergy system succeeded in averting this trope, although certain skills such as Psychic Hammer and Blade Sentry are still viewed as useless beyond the first few character levels. Classic Diablo II played this straight. Minion-based Necromancer builds had to rely on golems because of how weak skeletons were and most Sorceresses had to wait until they were level 18-24 to have a single skill worth putting more than a single prerequisite point into.
  • Vendor Trash: Played straight with the copious amounts of low-quality weapons and armor to pawn for gold.
  • Villain Based Franchise: the game's title is the name of the main antagonist. Do we really need to say more ?
  • Wallet of Holding: The first game allowed up to 5000 gold per available inventory slot. The sequel has a separate storage for gold in the inventory.
    • Hellfire for the first Diablo bumped up the limit to 10,000 per slot.
  • We Buy Anything: Shopkeepers love to buy items from you.
    • In the first game, only related items can be sold to the relevant shopkeeper. The sequel relaxes the rule and plays this trope straight.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: When you kill Mephisto, Natalya disappears. There's still no word as to where she went.
    • She described herself as a "Hunter of Evil" whose job was to hunt down rogue mages, and Tal Rasha was a rogue mage (to put it lightly), so it could be inferred that she went after Baal... but you never see her in Lord of Destruction either.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: The entire human race is the result of interbreeding between angels and demons.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Or Stage 2: both games end badly for team Human.
  • Zip Mode: In the unofficial expansion Hellfire, your walk speed was doubled in town. In II, you could run in towns without depleting your Sprint Meter.

Notes

  1. LE, or Lightning Enchanted, causes a monster to release sparks when hurt. The other modifiers mentioned either greatly increase the number of sparks (MS or Multi-Shot), or add enormous amounts of damage to them (FE and CE, or Fire Enchanted and Cold Enchanted).
  2. A basically-impossible-to-legitimately-obtain armor that can give anyone the Sorceress's Teleport skill.