This FAQ answers questions about the Battle.net ladders, explains why some items are found only on the ladders, and more. Check this thread for updates and additions.
Ladder Only Items
When playing on a ladder, there are Ladder Only Items.
These include but are not limited to Ladder Only Rune Words and Ladder Only Uniques.
These items only drup during the current ladder season, and only in ladder games. However, these items do end up in the non ladder population after any ladder season ends.
There are two main character types on the Diablo II Realms: Normal and Ladder. Players choose these character types when creating their characters via check boxes as they are naming their characters.
Any character that is not marked as a Ladder Character is a Normal Character. There are two types of Normal Characters:
- Normal: Normal (also referred to as Core)(Non Hardcore)
- Normal: Hardcore
- Normal Core: Characters can only join games with other Normal Core characters. They cannot join games with Hardcore characters, or ladder characters of any type.
- Normal Hardcore: Characters can only join games with other Normal Hardcore characters. They cannot join games with Core characters, or ladder characters of any type. To create a Hardcore Character you must finish the game on Normal Difficulty.
A Ladder Character is a special character type that is allowed to compete on the ladder. These characters are separate from Normal Characters with their own games and economy.
All characters created before 1.11 are considered normal characters. Characters created before 1.11 do not have the option of being ladder characters. You must create a new character after patch 1.11 is released, and mark it as a ladder character to create a ladder character.
Characters created before patch 1.11 will not be able to join games with these new ladder characters, although they will be able to play with other normal characters that predate the 1.11 patch or characters created after 1.11 that are not created as ladder characters. This means that for the duration of the ladder season - which is yet to be determined - these ladder characters will exist in a new separate economy from the other Battle.net Diablo II characters. After the ladder season is over, all ladder characters become normal characters. To be on the ladder for the next season, players must create a new character and mark it as ladder, after the new season has begun.
Only Realm Characters can be Ladder Characters.
There are two types of Ladder Characters:
- Ladder: Normal (also referred to as Core)(Non Hardcore)
- Ladder: Hardcore
- Ladder Core: Characters can only join games with other Ladder Core characters. They cannot join games with Hardcore characters, or normal characters of any type.
- Ladder Hardcore: Characters can only join games with other Ladder Hardcore characters. They cannot join games with core characters, or normal characters of any type. To create a Ladder Hardcore Character you must finish the game on Normal Difficulty.
What's the advantage to creating a Ladder Character?
This is similar to starting out on a brand new realm. Players will be able to experience Diablo II like when the game was first released. When the Ladder Season first begins, players start at Level 1 and do not have powerful items. They also cannot use powerful high-level items or other high-level characters to help them level up faster. Players create a character in a brand new world (ladder character world) where everything (economy, levels) starts from the beginning. The main advantage of creating a ladder character is being able to join in on a totally new economy where powerful items are very valuable.
What if I don't play ladder or don't want to compete on the ladder?
Although they are called ladder characters, players do not have to compete on the ladder to play. You can simply play at your own speed and not worry about how you are ranked on the ladder.
Can I convert existing characters to ladder characters?
No, you must flag a character as a ladder character when it is first created.
How long will the ladder season last?
No one knows, but Blizzard tends to give a few to several days warning before starting a new season.
What happens when the ladder season is over?
All ladder characters become either Normal Core or Normal Hardcore Characters depending on what type of Ladder Characters they are. If you want to be a Ladder Character for the next Ladder season you must create a new character and flag it as a Ladder Character.
Do I get to keep my Ladder Only Items when the season is over?
Yes. Any Ladder Only Items will be converted over when your character is converted to a Core character. These items can now be traded with other Core characters. That is the only way for Core characters to get ladder only items, as leftovers after a season is over.
Do I have to beat the game with a Ladder Character to create a Ladder Hardcore Character?
No, you can finish the game with either a Normal character or a Ladder character to unlock Ladder Hardcore Characters.
Can you convert a Ladder Character to a Normal Character?
No. Blizzard does this automatically when the Ladder Season ends.
In addition, there are several Horadric Cube formulae that will only work for a ladder character.
Example : Rune upgrading, runes can only be upgraded higher than Hel on the ladder. There are other ladder only formulae. They can be found here noted with (ladder only) in red.
The Gheeds Fortune Charm is also ladder only, meaning it drops in ladder. Though it can be found in non ladder after the end of a ladder season.
How long will the current ladder last ??
We do not know, it may last as long as the last ladder or it could be shorter.
How long were the past ladder seasons?
- Season 1: October 28, 2003 - July 8, 2004
- Season 2: July 8, 2004 - August 8, 2005
- Season 3: August 8, 2005 - June 25, 2007
- Season 4: June 25, 2007 - June 17, 2008
- Season 5: June 17, 2008 -
When will the next ladder begin?
Blizzard has announced  that there will be a ladder reset that coincides with the release of the v1.13 patch, which is currently under development. There is no ETA on the patch. (Last updated, April 29, 2009.)
- We’re preparing for a Diablo II ladder reset to coincide with the release of the 1.13 patch that’s currently in development. We don’t have a final release date for the patch yet, but we’re providing early warning as a reset could occur as early as the end of April. We’ll be providing updates with more certain dates once the patch is closer to release.
- Please be aware that with a ladder reset all ladder characters are moved to non-ladder. This means that your characters will still be accessible but will no longer have access to ladder-only features and games. In order to play in the new ladder season after the reset you will need to make new ladder characters.
Where should I look for information on the next ladder?
Announcements are made on the Battle.net forums. All Diablo news is covered on Diii.net.