The information presented in these archived FotDs is now outdated, but that's often the most interesting thing about them, seeing how much the game has changed from then to now.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.
November 2, 1999
- Raise Skeletal Mage is a Clvl 10 skill from the Necromancer's Summoning Skill Tab. This skill enables the Necromancer to summon a bone mage, identical to the monsters of that type. Bone Mages are randomly generated upon summoning in one of four flavors, one for each base type of magic, and they all shoot a projectile attack of roughly equivalent damage, though all working a different resistance.
This is why there aren't 25 FotDs a month anymore. In the old days any skill info or game info was good, since many visitors wouldn't know it. A FotD like this today would gather mostly puzzled "Why are they saying that? Everyone knows that." reactions.
November 6, 1999
- Bone Spear is a Clvl 15 skill from the Necromancer's Poison and Bone Skill Tab. This skill does what it sounds like. It enables the Necromancer to fire a bone missile at a target. This skill has never been seen in use, but it is assumed to be like a more powerful version of Teeth, and as far as we know, it counts as physical damage, and is therefore unresistable, though it probably interacts with the target's AC and perhaps can be blocked.
Well, that's the fun of speculation. Sometimes you are right, and feel clever. And other times you aren't. Since magical resistance was removed from the Char window, we figured it was out of the game, rather than still there, but unresistable with equipment. So the assumption became that the Bone skills were physical damage.
November 7, 1999
- Glacial Spike is a Clvl 15 skill from the Sorceress' Cold Spells Tab. This skill is fired from overhead into the ground where targeted, and blows up on impact, sending out icy shrapnel, causing cold damage, and also freezing anything in the blast zone. This was previously set to be a Clvl 20 skill with a different icon, but as we all know, the skill trees change form regularly in this pre-beta period.
The cold icons changed a lot. There were about 5 different icons for the three cold armors, the one used for Cold Mastery changed a lot, and Glacial Spike and Ice Blast switched several times. There was even an Ice Storm that was much like Blizzard, that eventually was replaced by Frozen Orb.
November 10, 1999
- Concentrate is a Clvl 15 skill from the Barbarian's Combat Skills Tab. This skill is an interesting one. It enabled the Barbarian to perform an uninterruptible attack, and also improves his defense rating (AC) while he's doing it. There are at least two skills in Diablo II that offer decreased chances of having your attack interrupted, so clearly this will be more a somewhat important ability. Monsters hit fast and furious, and being able to hit them without being interrupted will be a valuable ability.
Clvl 15 became Clvl 18 when the intervals between skills increased from 5 to 6 levels.
November 14, 1999
- Hand of Athena is a Clvl 10 skill from the Amazon's Passive and Magic Skill Tab. This skill was initially planned to knock enemy projectiles from the sky, which would have been potentially very powerful, and interesting to use. However it has been changed so that now it is a sort of more powerful Eye of Zeus, in that it hits nearby enemies, slowing them and also reducing their Defense Rating. This should be a useful skill, and the wise Amazon could use it to escape from a crowd, and then make them very easy to hit once she was clear for a counter-strike.
The name changed to Slow Missiles, and the function changed to slowing projectiles, rather than slowing the actual enemies. The slowing enemy would have been hugely powerful, sort of a Holy Freeze for the Amazon. Once she had a minion this sort of thing was too powerful and not really necessary, so Bliz altered the skill's function.
November 17, 1999
- Concentration is a Clvl 15 skill from the Paladin's Offensive Auras Skill Tab. This aura benefits the Paladin (or anyone else who is bearing it) by lowering the chance that his attacks will be interrupted. This is very different than anything from Diablo, but it sounds like a sort of invulnerability, where he would still take damage, but wouldn't stop to block or be stunned by being hit. Possibly of use if there was some monster that kept hitting him back faster than he could hit.
Concentration changed icons (the Paladin's Auras were one of the biggest icon switchers) and the skill got a lot better, with the added damage, while the % chance to be uninterrupted was lowered to 20% and fixed there no matter the Clvl.
November 24, 1999
- Zealots are human "monsters" that you must battle in Act Three. Their leader corrupted by the evil of Mephisto, these priests of Zakarum have turned against you, and stand between you and your goal. There are numerous foot soldiers, and also these fearsome mages, commanding a variety of magical attacks, obviously including lightning. Screenshot evidence.
The exact plot of Act Three wasn't known until the game was out, so we knew they'd been corrupted, but not about Mephisto being the one corrupting, though since he was known to be imprisoned and guarded by the Zakarum, it wasn't a real stretch of the imagination to see him as the main act boss enemy.
This was the bloodiest screenshot ever seen, to date.
November 26, 1999
- Iron Maiden is a Clvl 10 skill from the Necromancer's Curses Skill Tab. This curse has a very clever function. A monster (or character?) afflicted by it does themselves damage as they deal it to others. Likely some %, determined by the Slvl of the skill, so if it were say 10%, then if a monster were dealing 100 points of damage with every strike, it would be taking 10 points of damage as well. Obviously something very useful here to hit monsters with while they are battling your summoned creatures, and you can make them kill themselves.
Iron Maiden turned out to be by far the most useful Necromancer Curse in D2, though it's much less useful in D2X.
November 27, 1999
- Blessed Hammer is a Clvl 15 skill from the Paladin's Combat Skills Tab. Described as "A spinning hammer which spirals outward, doing double damage to the undead." and with Holy Bolt as a prerequisite, this skill seems to be a more powerful version of its pre-requisite skill, Holy Bolt. However not the "spirals outward" portion, that sounds like it's not a straight line projectile, but something a bit less accurate. At least it works on non-undead monsters as well.
Blessed Hammer was changed a lot, from a physical attack that dealt bonus damage to the Undead, it became a magical attack that hurt everything equally. Blizzard meant this one as a supplement to the Paladin's other skills, as a way to hurt monsters with magic. However due to a bug in how this skill's damage was multiplied by Concentration, it did far more damage than intended, and the Hammerdin was the most powerful type of Paladin in D2, due to his ability to deal big damage to many monsters at once.
November 29, 1999
- Iron Skin is a passive Clvl 15 skill from the Barbarian's Combat Masteries Skill Tab. This skill is passive, and once enabled with at least one skill point, it will provide a permanent AC boost to the Barbarian. (Note that AC is no longer the term in Diablo II, it is called "Defensive Rating", which is more accurate, if less catchy.) Higher Slvls of Iron Skin should increase the "DR" boost.
No changes were made here, other than the Clvl going from 15 to 18, as every skill did.
November 30, 1999
- Avoid is a Clvl 10 skill from the Amazon's Passive and Magic Skills Tab. The second skill in the Dodge/Avoid/Evade triumvirate, this one has recently been changed, and now it gives the Amazon a % chance to move out of the way of a missile attack, as long as she is standing skill. Presumably "standing still" includes shooting a bow or throwing javelins or battling melee fashion, and "missiles" includes both physical and magical projectiles. Raising the Slvls of Avoid would allow for a higher % of Avoiding the missile.
Exactly what each of the Dodge, Avoid, and Evade skills did was changed a number of times. They were always "don't be hit by ____" sort of skills, but their exact functions varied. The options were to not be hit by melee or ranged attacks, and while standing still or moving, but which did what was often altered.