The information presented in these archived FotDs is now outdated, but that's often the most interesting thing about them, seeing how much the game has changed from then to now.
The original FotDs are indented and italicized. Explanatory comments below them were written by Flux at the time the FotDs were archived, usually a couple/few months after the original FotDs had been presented.
February 2, 2000
- Frenzy is a Clvl 24 skill from the Barbarian's Combat Skills Tab. A clever skill, this one allows the Barbarian to strike the same target with increasing rapidity with each successful hit. With a high Attack Rating (to/hit), a Barbarian can belabor the same target with blows of such rapidity that the monster or character would have no chance to strike back. Sounds quite useful for targets with high hit points, such as bosses or monster generators.
The early info about Berserk sounded like you'd have to start it up from scratch again every target, and we figured that on normal monsters they'd be dead by the time the increase speed started to help, so you'd want it for big things. The six second timer we see on Frenzy in the final game was likely a later addition.
February 3, 2000
- Warcry is a Clvl 30 skill from the Barbarian's Warcries Skill Tab. One of the more powerful attack Warcries, this one "Injures and stuns all nearby enemies." Very useful for a Barbarian needing to make an escape from a tight spot, or if he wants to take a monster one on one and dispatch of it quickly.
Another one we'd never seen in action, other than a quick experiment at Blizzard North on our visit in Dec 1999. We also had all of the skill hover descriptions from noting them while playing at Blizzard North, so those are all quoted.
The FotDs went over about every skill in the game at this time, with much more info about all of them than we'd ever had before, and the skills coming along more towards the final game form also, with the beta on the horizon.
February 4, 2000
- Double Throw is a Clvl 12 skill from the Barbarian's Combat Skills Tab. With this skill the Barbarian is able to throw two items in very rapid succession, providing he has them dual wielded at the time. Much like Double Swing, where the advantage is a faster than usual attack with both hands. Likely there will be some sort of bonus to damage and accuracy at higher Slvls as well.
February 5, 2000
- Battle Orders is a Clvl 24 skill from the Barbarian's Warcries Skill Tab. Another of his quite useful party skills, Battle Orders adds to his friends' hit points, mana, and stamina. Not as powerful as Battle Command, but certainly useful before or during a major battle. As with Battle Command, it is not known for sure that this works on the Barbarian as well as his friends, but it seems likely.
This turned out to be by far the most useful Barbarian skill in a party, and probably the best party skill in the game. Nothing was known of the duration, or how it would reset if you waited too long to refresh it way back then.
February 6, 2000
- Berserk is a Clvl 30 skill from the Barbarian's Combat Skills Tab. This skill enables him to deliver a very powerful attack, but leaves him open to taking damage as well. Probably the math is something like +damage and -Defensive Rating, but it will need to be tested to see what exactly it does.
As with so many other higher level skills, we'd seen it very briefly at Blizzard North, and had the description, but knew nothing more. Most of these FotDs were brand new info at the time, from high level skills that had been known only by their name and a picture of an icon in some screenshot.
February 7, 2000
- Whirlwind is a Clvl 30 skill from the Barbarian's Combat Skills Tab. AKA the Tasmanian Devil Skill, this one is fun to see. The Barbarian targets a monster, and with a right click, whirls into action. Holding his weapons extended, he spins rapidly around, plowing through any number of monsters on the way to his target before coming to a halt, ready to continue the fight. The skill is not without danger, for the Barbarian can take damage while chewing up his enemies.
We actually weren't that impressed with how well Whirlwind worked in our quick testing at Blizzard North. It was cool to see, but we just had a single player game with a Clvl 35 demo character, and with no mana leech, we'd do two of these, kill everything with one hit, and then stand there. It wasn't until the game was out and players got to try this out in big Hell games that the true power of it was seen. The D2 Team nerfed the damage and AR of this one a couple of times, and added in weapon speed in the form of fewer to/hit checks per target in D2X, and it's still one of the best attack skills in the game.
February 8, 2000
- Battle Command is a Clvl 30 skill from the Barbarian's Warcries Skill Tab. This very powerful skill will be quite popular when playing with friends, as it will temporarily increase their skill levels across the board. This would allow all of their attack skills to do greater damage, increase the effectiveness of all passive skills, let a Necromancer raise additional skeletons, etc.
At the time we figured it would add more points at higher levels, and didn't realize the duration would be so short, so this seemed like a really great skill. It's useful in the final game, but with the D2 team limiting the bonus to 1 level, and keeping the duration short, it's far less powerful than it initially was.
February 9, 2000
- Battlecry is a Clvl 18 Skill from the Barbarian's Warcries Skill Tab. Triggering this skill causes the Barbarian to throw his head back and emit a roar as energy surges out from him in a Nova-like blast. All monsters in the radius of effect will be struck and have their defensive rating reduced, as well as their damage lowered.
We all thought this sort of thing would be mandatory in Hell, since the monsters were supposed to be so much nastier in D2. Oh well.
February 10, 2000
- Sword Mastery is a Clvl 1 mastery from the Barbarian's Combat Masteries Skill Tab. Like the other five weapon masteries, Sword Mastery will increase the Barbarian's skill with a sword, adding substantially to his damage and Attack Rating. The improvement is said to be around 25% at Slvl one, and slightly less with each additional skill point.
At one point Blizzard was planning diminishing returns on Weapon Masteries, as there are on the similar Amazon skills. However they at some point changed that to a flat increase forever, much to the delight of Barbarian players.
February 11, 2000
- Find Item is a Clvl 12 skill from the Barbarian's Warcries Skill Tab. A potentially very useful skill, this one works like Find Health Potion, where the Barb targets a corpse and clicks the spell, and with a splat the body explodes, and an item pops out, if he's successful. Higher Slvl increases the % of finding an item. This skill is currently considered to be somewhat unbalancing, since it allows the Barb lots more good items, and far more gold from selling them than the other characters. This one seems mandatory to use on any boss monster as well.
Find Health Potion was changed eventually to just Find Potion, when it became possible to Hork up purple and blue, as well as red pots. Find Item probably is unbalancing, though since Barbs can kill so much faster than most other characters, it's just icing on the cake.
February 12, 2000
- Natural Resistance is a Clvl 30 passive skill from the Barbarian's Combat Masteries Skill Tab. A useful skill, especially on higher levels, this one does what it sounds like it would do. It adds resistance across the board: +9% resistance to Fire, Lightning, Poison and Cold at Slvl 1, and more at higher Slvls.
Natural Res was improved since the early look at it, adding more at Slvl 1 and more per level as well. It's one of the Barbarian's best skills, especially Hardcore.
February 14, 2000
- Cold Mastery is a Clvl 30 passive skill from the Sorceress' Cold Spells Tab. It has no pre-requisites except for the Clvl one, and has a very interesting effect. This skill lowers the cold resistance of all monsters the Sorceress encounters, including cold immune monsters. So with this one enabled, the Sorceress will never have anything impervious to her cold spells.
Cold Mastery was massive in D2, with nothing Cold Immune. In D2X it did initially break cold immunity, but this was changed during the beta. The icon for this skill, and most of the skills in this tree, changed several times. The current cold mastery icon is one that was juggled between the various types of cold armor during development. It's certainly more suggestive of cold than the pointy thing used here.
February 16, 2000
- Multi-shot Arrow is a Clvl 6 skill from the Amazon's Bow and Crossbow Skill Tab. A very useful lower level skill, this one enables the Amazon to fire numerous arrows in a fan pattern. At higher levels this can be an incredibly powerful skill, as you can see here. An additional bonus is that each use of this skill requires only one arrow or bolt. It is magically split into as many projectiles as the skill allows. Higher Slvl = more shots, of course, starting off small.
This screenshot is an interesting one, both for the obscene number of arrows (30+) being fired, but also for the weird curse on the monsters in it. Check it out for the caption.
February 18, 2000
- Holy Freeze is a Clvl 18 skill from the Paladin's Offensive Auras Skill Tab. A very useful protection aura, this one freezes any monsters that get too close, allowing the Paladin more time to deal with them. The length of time they remain frozen is unknown, but it most likely won't be that long, since this would be an incredibly powerful skill if they were locked up very long.
It was assumed that "Holy Freeze" meant "frozen", and we couldn't quite believe that, since it would have been the most powerful skill in the game. And of course it doesn't freeze, it chills. But "Holy Slow" or "Holy Chill" doesn't sound as cool. (Pun intended.)
February 20, 2000
- Fist of Heavens is a Clvl 30 skill from the Paladin's Combat Skills Tab. Formerly known as "Hand of God", this skill is one of the more powerful in the game. When the Paladin clicks on the targeted creature or player, a cylinder of light comes down from above, instantly covering the target and dealing massive lightning damage. An instant later, four Holy Bolts shoot out in an "X" or "+" shape, dealing heavy damage to any undead they happen to strike. This skill can strike any monster on the screen, regardless of how well they might be surrounded by minions, which adds to its use greatly.
We'd seen this one briefly at Blizzard North, but hadn't been able to check the damage or how well it actually worked. So everyone expected this to be pretty cool, as the Paladin's only real attack spell, and him supposed to be a hybrid warrior/spellcaster. The worthlessness of the skill when players finally got to try it in the final game was a surprise.
February 22, 2000
- Defiance is a Clvl 6 skill from the Paladin's Defensive Auras Skill Tab. As the in-game hover description tells us: "Aura boosts armor." This aura adds to the Armor Class of the Paladin, and all others he shares it with, of course. How much of a boost is not known, but it will of course be more effective at higher Slvls.
Works as advertised.
February 23, 2000
- Meditation is a Clvl 24 skill from the Paladin's Defensive Auras Skill Tab. This aura allows the Paladin and anyone sharing it to regenerate their mana more quickly. Obviously of great use to a Sorceress, and other characters could benefit from it as well. This icon, like many other Paladin Aura Icons, has been changed a number of times, and will probably be different in the final game.
The icon did change. This one has no real indication of what the skill does, but then neither does the final one, the magical finger gesture. That was Blessed Aim for a while; this tree had a lot of icon changes.
February 24, 2000
- Salvation is a Clvl 30 skill from the Paladin's Defensive Auras Skill Tab. A resistance boosting aura, Salvation provides added resistance to all forms of magical attack, and will come in very handy against monster mages. In a recent change to the structure of the Defensive Aura skill tree, this skill, and the Paladin's other resistance skills, have had all their prerequisite skills removed, and now require only a certain Clvl to be reached in order to enable them.
The pre-req changes made Salvation 10x more viable, since previously you had to waste points in Resist Cold, Fire, and Lightning before you could enable Salvation.
February 25, 2000
- Conversion is a Clvl 24 skill from the Paladin's Combat Skills Tab. Not much is known about this one other than the hover description, which tells us that it "Converts monsters to fight evil". So sounds something like a Mind Control sort of skill, which isn't exactly the first thing one thinks of when thinking of the Paladin. It will be interesting to see this one in action, if it makes the cut for the final game.
Convert was a very useful skill early in D2, but they % chance to convert has been steadily nerfed, and the dangers of converted monsters with Thorns on them are so high that few players will risk this skill with that aura. The improved mercs of D2X make this one largely useless, especially with the very low % chance to convert.
February 27, 2000
- The Necromancer and Barbarian have a number of "corpse skills" in Diablo II, and some other chars might as well, but none are known at this time. Corpse skills are called that since they are used on and actually require a corpse to function. These are very important to the Necromancer, for summoning skeleton minions, as well as attacking with Corpse and/or Poison Explosion. Not all corpses can be used, however: Player corpses are not usable, and neither are dead minions. When you have a corpse skill readied, corpses will highlight and pop up a name when hovered on.
This was a cool new concept in D2, after corpses were non-interactive in D1. Just floor decoration no more.
February 28, 2000
- Skill points: You may place a skill point into any skill in any of your three skill trees, providing you meet the prerequisites. Skill pre-reqs are a Clvl, and usually some other skill or skills lower in the tree. You can save skill points up, but you can not dump more than one into a skill as soon as it becomes available. This is to prevent the cheese of getting to Clvl 12, and putting 5 points into Fireball, for instance. You can only put one point into a skill for each Clvl you are over that skill's pre-req level. So you'll need to be Clvl 20 to have 3 points in a Clvl 18 skill, for example, and you could put them in one each level, or all 3 at Clvl 20.
This was a very commonly debated issue, and generally the first question anyone asked after they first learned about the skill trees and Clvl reqs to enable a skill. Everyone thought about it and then figured, "Hey, I'll just save 10 points and load up on skill X the minute it's available!" and was then shocked when they found out Blizzard had anticipated that and taken steps against it right from the start.