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The Hardcore FAQ

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Hardcore Moderator and America Trade Moderator
Jun 22, 2003
New Port Richey, FL
The Hardcore FAQ

06/06/06 - The day of doom, destruction, and hardcore FAQ revamping! Added a section on TPPK's, updated the dangerous monsters list, removed all references to "Hydra pk," removed color tags, added methods to activate HC mode, removed references to the now-dead GAT team.

07/11/02 - Revamped a number of sections, especially the first character section and the magic finding section (3.1 and 4.1 respectively). Made a number of other small changes, and added two new sections, one on what to do after dying and one on avoiding hackers.


The Hardcore FAQ
Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Welcome to Hardcore
2.1 - What is Hardcore Mode?
2.2 - How do I make a Hardcore Character?
2.3 - Hardcore vs Softcore…what's the Difference?
2.4 - I have a question for the forum...anything I should know before asking?
2.5 - What's this Banana channel and KTA that everyone keeps talking about on the Hardcore Forum?​
3. Gameplay in Hardcore
3.1 - What should my first character be?
3.2 - How do I avoid dying?
3.3 - What skills should I use?
3.4 - How should I allocate my stat points?
3.5 - How important are my resists?
3.6 - What's the deal with unique monsters and bosses?
3.6.1 - Pandemonium Diablo ::NEW!::
3.6.2 - The Ubers ::NEW!::
3.7 - What mercenary should I use?
3.8 - When should I move on to the next Act?
3.9 - What is the best Hardcore Character?​
4. Item Hunting
4.1 - I don't have any good items? Can someone help me? Where and how do I magic find?
4.2 - Is Gambling still worthwhile in the expansion?
4.3 - How often should I mule?
4.4 - Are the item drops better in Hardcore than Softcore?
4.5 - What are some good starting items?
4.6 - What are Crafted Items?​
5. Death, Lag, Looting and Losers
5.1 - How do I deal with lag?
5.2 - How do I avoid being Player-Killed?
5.3 - Where do Player-Killers usually hang out?
5.4 - Who should I allow to loot my corpse?
5.5 - What gets looted when I die?
5.6 - Rachelene on Player-Killers.
5.7 - I died! What do I do now?
5.8 - Someone said there are hackers on realms? How do I avoid these losers?​
6. Playing in Parties
6.1 - Are there any special rules for playing in parties?​
7. Links
8. Conclusion
9. Credits


1. Introduction

This collection of FAQ's is mainly aimed at assisting first-time Hardcore players. It deals with the principles of Hardcore play, the differences between Hardcore and Softcore mode, and the basics of being successful in Hardcore. It should also be explained here that Softcore (SC) refers to the mode of play in which your character has an infinite amount of lives. You will need to know this as it crops up throughout the guide.

2. Welcome to Hardcore

2.1 What is this Hardcore Mode?

Hardcore mode is an alternative mode of play within Diablo 2, with one key difference from the other modes: Death is final. Each character has but one life, and when they die, it's time to start over again. As such, this new game-play mode makes for a substantially different playing style and indeed, playing atmosphere. You will find caution and careful play come to dominate your thinking, as opposed to a reckless, gung-ho playing style. Also, the atmosphere of Hardcore Games is on the whole, different than Softcore games. Many players are more supportive, and watchful of other players, to a degree rarely seen in Softcore.

2.2 How do I make a Hardcore Character?

Originally, you had to first defeat normal Baal in Softcore in order to create Hardcore characters on your account. That method still works, but is not necessarily required. There are now alternate ways of enabling HC that are completely legitimate to use.

[1] One way of enabling hardcore is logging onto an account that can already create HC characters. Asking a forum member to create a "dummy" account for you to log in to is one way of doing this.

[2] If you don't have access to such an account the easiest way is to go through the following steps. I've tried to make this as simple as possible due to some people having inhibitions against messing with their registry.

1) Go to the Start menu, and open the program called Notepad (it's in the Accessories folder of the start menu).
2) Copy and paste the text below into a newly created document:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Blizzard Entertainment\Diablo II]

3) Press Ctrl+S (or alternatively File --> Save As…) and save the document with the name allowhc.reg making sure the Save as type: is "All Files".
4) Double click on the file you just created, click YES that you do want to add the information to the registry, and click OK afterwards.
5) Proceed to create HC characters at your leisure.

2.3 Hardcore vs Softcore…what's the difference?

When it comes down to it, the difference is not that great. Apart from the one life aspect of HC, the game is exactly the same; the same items, same skills, same levels, same monsters. However, the spectre of your mortality looming in the background has an enormous effect on the way you build and play your characters, and this will be explained in the section below, entitled Gameplay in Hardcore.

2.4 I have a question for the forum...anything I should know before asking?

General Rules of Thumb:

1) The SEARCH function of this forum is your best friend. Use it.
2) Vague questions will get vague answers or dismissals. Try to be thorough and detailed in what you're asking.
3) DON'T POST IN ALL CAPS. No need to shout. :)
4) Last but no least, be polite. Poilteness will get you a long way. If you have received a few helpful responses to a question, try and find the time to go back and post a quick thank you to those who helped you out. You will bring a smile to their faces, and encourage others to be helpful as well.

2.5 What's this Banana channel & KTA that everyone keeps talking about on the Hardcore Forum?

I feel that both of these are definitely worth a mention in the FAQ, since many people from these forums are either involved or know about them.

The Banana Channel - op xbananax on USEast

Op xBANANAx is a community of like minded individuals that help eachother, make Baal runs together, among other things. It's a channel where many people idle, come to talk, and generally have a good time and relax. Many people from Diabloii.net frequent the channel, and new people show up every week. It's an atmosphere that promotes trust and friendship while trying to remain as legitimate as possible. Feel free to stop by an introduce yourself! PS: People in the Banana channel are generally bananas.

KTA - Kill Them All

KTA is a group of untwinked players that meet on a regular basis. They try to get as far as they can through the game using what they find along the way. Many people here at the forums are involved or have been involved in one of these KTA groups. The most active group of KTA is the Europe division, led by Tikaeda.

Click here for the latest KTA posting.

3. Gameplay in Hardcore

3.1 What should my first character be?

This is perhaps the most controversial question in the FAQ, with no real correct answer and no real agreement either by the forum members. Instead of providing a detailed guide based on one character, what I've attempted to do is provide a few general hints and tips on making your first Hardcore character, and how to go about choosing what type it will be.

Generally, the best character to make as your first Hardcore character is one that you are most familiar with. If you've had lots of experience on playing a particular character class or type, then that is what is most important. Prior experience will stand you in good stead. However, this must be balanced with the fact that when you first start Hardcore, you have no items to your name. Therefore, you want a character that you know how to use, and one that can kill effectively without being overly dependent on items. Basically, what you are aiming for is to get to act 5 normal alive and well. Once you get there, you can hit the normal baal runs, up until level 40 or more if you want. You will also be able to start finding decent items with which to equip your new characters.
Possible builds that the forum has suggested would make excellent starting HC characters:
- Lightning Trap Assassin
- Summoner Necromancer
- Lightning Fury Amazon
- Orb Sorceress (or possibly Meteorb - see the sorceress forum for more details on sorceress variations)
- Blessed Hammer Paladin (aka Hammerdin)

The most important considerations for your first character should be, in this order - Life, Resists, Damage, Defence and Attack Rating (if melee).
Important attributes to look for on your character should be mana/life leech (melee chars only), +mana/energy (spellcasters only), as well as anything with good resists.
If you are having trouble reaching Act 5, consider trying out a shapeshifting druid or a barbarian, both of whom benefit from having lots of life, far more than most other characters. This gives you a greater chance of survival and the ability to get yourself out of difficult situations without as much fear of dying.
Once you feel you've got the hang of Hardcore, feel free to experiment with new characters and builds. Above all, have fun! This is a great game, and Hardcore is undoubtedly one of the most fun experiences you can have in it.

3.2 How do I avoid dying?

This is the eternal question of Hardcore play, and again, one for which there is no correct answer. Avoiding Death in Hardcore is all about calculated risks…knowing your character, knowing its limits; knowing when to fight, and when to pull a Rincewind and run away screaming. Play sensibly in Hardcore, and you will live longer. Most of this guide is full of advice to avoid dying, so in effect, this question is answered throughout the FAQ.
Here are a few brief tips though to increase your chances of survival:

- Use a four-slot belt (4x4) and always keep it stocked with at least one slot of Rejuvenation Potions, preferably Full Rejuvenation Potions. Rejuvenation potions can be found, or they can be made in the Horadric Cube with 3 healing potions + 3 mana potions + any chipped gem. Full Rejuvenation Potions require 3 healing potions + 3 mana potions + any normal gem. You can also make Full Rejuvenation Potions by transmuting 3 small rejuvination potions in your Horadric Cube.
- Maintain a high level of Life Leech (for melee characters) if possible, to refill your life pool in just a few hits. If you are running out of potions, leech can often save your life until you can hack your way out of danger.
- Items with Knockback, Slow, and cold damage are also invaluable to a melee class, as they handicap the monsters severely, and gives you a much greater chance of being able to get away if you find yourself in trouble.

3.3 What skills should I use?

This question doesn't need much answering, as a good skill in Softcore is a good skill in Hardcore. All you need to do differently in Hardcore is perhaps give more thought to skills that assist your survival, such as pumping Holy Shield before you start maxing out Fanaticism, as in the case of the Paladin.

3.4 How should I allocate my Stat Points?

Unlike skills, stat allocation in Softcore and Hardcore differ widely. In Softcore, it can be said that your stat allocation is designed to give you the best possible equipment setup, combined with a reasonable endurance to death (although some deaths are to be expected). In Hardcore, death is not an option. I know it sound like something out of the Marines, but that's the way it is. Survival is paramount and everything else is subservient to the continued wellbeing of your character. Stat points play a huge role in how well your character is going to be equipped to deal with the rigors and trials of the game.

There are two basic ideas on how to distribute your stat points:
The first is to gradually build up your strength/dexterity (depending on what your character class needs), while putting most of your points in vitality. This build ensures you maintain a high life pool, at the expense of your equipment setup. You may have to wait until the mid 40's or later before you have sufficient strength and dexterity to start equipping the really nice items.

The second is a high risk, high yield strategy, that requires some planning beforehand to execute properly. Before starting your character, you plan out what you are going to be wearing equipment-wise, and work out the level and stat requirements of each of your items. You then put all your points into strength and dexterity, aiming to reach the requirements for each item at the same time your character level allows you to wear it. Any surplus points go to your vitality. The shortfall in your life pool is made up for by wearing lots of +life gear, such as mammoth/colossus/squid/whale etc, or by using socketed equipment with rubies. The only downside is that your life may be a little low, but if you think you can survive, then go for it.

As a final note, the second strategy mainly applies to melee characters, as character classes like sorceresses and necromancers rely less on high item requirements, putting most of their points into vitality.

3.5 How important are my Resists?

Resists are arguably the most important aspect of your character build, especially once you get to late Normal and Nightmare difficulties. By this stage, the monsters are starting to become more powerful, and their elemental attacks can REALLY hurt. Even with 400 life, a Lightning-Enchanted or Cold-Enchanted monster in Act 5 Normal can easily chew through that if your resistances are not up to par. It is difficult to say which of your resistances is the most important, as each act tends to have monsters using one main elemental attack, with the others only cropping up occasionally. Act 2 for example calls for high poison resist, whereas Act 3 calls for fire resist. When it comes down to the crunch though, it is far better in Hardcore to try and have all your resists up at reasonably high levels, if not maxed. A 3 socketed shield filled with perfect diamonds is good, as well as the shield runeword Ancient's Pledge (RalOrtTal) for a quick and easy boost to your resistances. If you equip one of those two, you should not have a problem with your resistances until you reach Nightmare, where the resistance penalty becomes a real problem.

Often in Nightmare and Hell you will find you have to sacrifice wearing godly armour or other such items, for a less powerful one with better resists. The one thing that you should never change for one with better resistances is your weapon; a drop in your killing power can be just as lethal.

For melee characters, resistances are life and death, for characters using ranged attacks or relying on minions, they are not as important, but should still play an integral part in your character's development.


Hardcore Moderator and America Trade Moderator
Jun 22, 2003
New Port Richey, FL
3.6 What's the deal with the Unique Monsters and Bosses?

In Diablo 2, the most common cause of death for characters (apart from disconnects/lag) is to fall prey to a superunique boss or a unique boss and his minions. It is quite rare that you will see a character fall prey to a normal, run-of-the-mill monster (unless it's a Hell Bovine).
As such, special care needs to be taken around unique boss packs, for which some advice is given below:
  • Always identify the attributes on the boss monster before you engage the pack. If it's something nasty, such as Cursed/Extra Strong, back off and retreat. If you want to run or avoid it, you should still have time. If you want to attack, it gives you a chance to spread the pack out, as well as a warning of what to expect once you hit the boss. If you do decide to engage, it is often best to hit it once and see what damage it does from just one hit. The last you want is to start zealing at a monster for 5 hits and the first time it hits you it takes half your life away.
  • Be very wary around auras. Even something as innocuous as Blessed Aim can be deadly if you are surrounded by a large pack. Needless to say, other auras, such as Might, Holy Shock/Freeze/Fire should be taken very seriously, while Fanaticism, especially in Nightmare and Hell, is often fatal when not treated with the utmost caution.
  • If you are cursed with amplify damage, go back to town and heal it or wait until it wears off. The last thing you need in a combat situation is a monster inflicting double damage.
  • If you feel that you can't win the fight, back off and live to fight another day. "Your Deeds of Valour will be Remembered" is a fallacy, for the only person who will remember them is you, as you bash your head on the keyboard and curse. Cowards are not court-martialled and shot in Diablo 2…they live to fight again
  • In 1.10, FE monsters got revamped. Be VERY careful around FE monsters in NM, as in addition to their already deadly normal attacks, they have a bugged death explosion damage that can deal a fatal blow to even the most prepared characters. In Hell, the "bugged" explosion damage has been patched and tuned down - but can still be lethal, especially around high life monsters like Lister the Tormentor, or the Ancients.
  • A VERY important grouping of superunique mods to watch out for is FE LE. Fire enchanted, lightning enchanted monsters have an additional bug to watch out for. As you already know, when a FE monster dies, he explodes, dealing massive fire damage and physical damage based on the amount of life he had. When a FE LE monster is sent into Hit Recovery from a skill such as smite, mind blast, stun, etc. He sends out his death explosion IN EVERY WAVE OF HIS LIGHTNING BOLTS. Needless to say, any characters caught in these waves will be in for a world of pain. Also do note that an FE LE will send out a single wave of death explosion charged bolts when it dies.

Specific Information on Bosses:

Act I
Andariel - Poison Resistance and Poison Reduction gear. A shield is also advised.

Act II
Duriel - No resistances required. Block recommended.
The Summoner - This boss is included, as he is often the cause of death for many new characters in Act 2 Normal. He has a very deadly firewall, so do not stand directly in it unless you have adequate fire resists. When attacking him, try and close with him as soon as possible, as once you are within melee range, he uses his frost nova and glacial spike, which are far less damaging. He also casts weaken to the dismay of melee characters.

Mephisto - Cold, Lightning and Poison resistances are all advised.
Stygian Dolls - This little guys deserve special mention, as they are one of the few monsters in the entire game that can kill any character with one hit. Found in Act 3 in the Durance of Hate, and sometimes as guest monsters in Act 5 NM and Hell (particularly in the Throne of Destruction), they are extremely fast and pack quite a punch. Especially on Nightmare and Hell, if they are using the fanaticism aura, or are extra strong/cursed for example, they can kill players in just a few hits. However, that is not the worst part about them. When they die, they explode, dealing damage based on their hitpoints. While I'm not sure of the exact figures, it is a hell of a lot of damage. This damage increases with more players in the game, so be very wary of killing them in large games. Fortunately the damage radius is fairly small, so as long as you kill them from a distance, you're safe. Melee characters should let their mercenary do the final blow, as mercenaries take no damage from exploding deaths.

Act IV
Diablo - Max your Fire and Lightning Resistances if at all possible, and have a high level of blocking or defence.

Act V
Baal - Fire and Cold resistances are advised.
The Ancients - A quick note with regards to the terrible trio: If they spawn with very nasty special abilities such as FE, Cursed or Fanaticism Aura, you can "re-roll" their abilities, so to speak by simply opening up a town portal. They return to their pedestals until you activate the altar again, and when they respawn, they will have different, and hopefully easier mods. This mainly applies to Nightmare and Hell difficulty, as in Normal difficulty they are fairly easy to kill. When fighting an FE ancient, be sure to be a fair distance away from him when he dies, as an FE explosion from an ancient can be lethal.
Nihlathak - The reason why this guy is dangerous results from his use of the Corpse Explosion spell. The damage from this spell is calculated based on a percentage of the hitpoints of the monster's corpse he is exploding. Corpse Explosion damage varies from 60-100% of the corpse's hitpoints. So, if you kill an enslaved with 1000 hitpoints (easily reached, especially in games with lots of people) the resulting damage will vary between 600-1000. Even if some of this is blocked, it's still a hefty punch to your lifebar. Most hardcore players do this quest with caution on Normal, and avoid it entirely after that. On Hell, Nihlathak is probably the most dangerous opponent in the entire game. Consider using items with the modifier "Slain Monsters Rest in Peace" to deny Nihlathak corpses to explode. Also remember that any monster your mercenary kills will NOT rest in peace even if you have that mod on a piece of your equipment; however, two items can grant a mercenary the rest in peace mod, Tyrael's Might (unique sacred armor), and the Lawbringer (Amn+Lem+Ko in a sword) runeword.
Tomb Vipers - These guys are often seen in the Halls of Vaught, on the way to Nihlathak. They have a bugged poison projectile attack. This bug makes it so that if you move around in the poison cloud left from the poison projectile, you will get hit many many times. Think of it like a machine gun going off if you move into a cloud. The best way to counter this bugged "machine gun"-like effect, is to wear a boatload of PHYSICAL DAMAGE REDUCE (ie items that say: damage reduced by X - where X is any number). % Damage reduce does not work effectively to counter this bugged poison cloud damage. The recommended amount of damage reduced by X is anywhere between 30 (feeling some pain) to 55 (completely nullifies the damage).
Gloams - The updated, nastier version of the willowisp from Act 3 areas. They deal physical, as well as lightning damage with their lightning bolts, not to mention they also drain mana with each hit. Be very very careful around these, as without lightning absorb and some damage reduce, they can pack quite a punch! Also be watchful of conviction, might, and fanaticism packs of these creatures; as they can often kill you in just a couple hits.
Re-animated Horde - I feel these are worth a mention. Be careful around these guys, while their normal attack isn't very worrisome, Re-animed Hordes have the skill Charge, which amplifies their damage by an enormous amount. Being hit by more than one charge at the same time can prove to be fatal.

> 3.6.1 Pandemonium Diablo

Pandemonium Diablo is a new monster added in 1.10. It requires a special condition to be met to trigger a "world event" and spawn the Pandemonium Diablo. After killing him, you will receive the Annihilus unique small charm, which gives +1 to all skills, 10-20 to all stats, and 10-20 to all resistances.

Diablo 2 on battle.net uses multiple servers. Each server can handle multiple games with multiple people playing on them. These servers are totally separate from one another.

When a Stone of Jordan (SoJ) ring is sold to a merchant, in any act, a message appears in gold stating: "# Stones of Jordans sold to merchants." Where the # is a count of SoJ's that have been sold on that particular server. If enough SoJ's have been sold on a particular server (usually between 70 and 130), a new gold message appears stating "Diablo Walks the Earth." This is what I refer to when I say a "world event."

After the "Diablo Walks the Earth" message appears in your game, the next superunique monster (ie Rakinoshu, Eldritch, or Bishibosh) you come across will be replaced by the Pandemonium Diablo.

The Pandemonium Diablo is a much more powerful version of the normal Diablo; in addition to the signature Lightning Hose attack and Ring of Fire, Pandemonium Diablo uses a deadly Armageddon attack, as well as a devastating physical attack. On top of this, Pandemonium Diablo regenerates extremely fast and has massive hit points, so a powerful character is needed to kill him. Items with open wounds and prevent monster heal are useful, as is crushing blow. Life tap is also recommended when fighting him.

Note: Common characters that kill him are ones with massive crushing blow (such as smiters, kickers, etc), and characters that possess massive damage (such as infinity lightning sorcs, suped-up blizzard sorcs, and hammerdins).

>> 3.6.2 The Ubers

A new quest of sorts added in the 1.11 patch is the Uber Tristram quest. It requires many steps, and at the end, you will receive the Hellfire Torch unique large charm, which gives +3 to a specific classes skills (ie +3 all sorc skills), 10-20 to all stats, and 10-20 to all resistances.

Step 1. Collect Keys

Key of Terror - Go to the Black Marsh in Act 1, hell difficulty. Find the Forgotten Tower, and get all the way to level 5, to where the Countess is. Kill her a lot, and she will eventually drop keys of terror. Recommended builds to run her with are: a fire sorc (with a even-leveled merc), a cold sorc (with a really well-equipped merc) or lightning sorc (dont even need a merc). Countess is fire/cold immune, and her lackies are all cold immune, but they have fairly low HP.
Key of Hate - Hell Summoner runs. He drops nothing else of value, so you will only be killing him for the key. Very easy run, for pretty much any type of sorceress.
Key of Destruction - Recieved from hell Nihlathak. Obviously, this is the most dangerous key to get. See notes on Nihlathak, Tomb Vipers and Re-animated Hordes above for things to watch out for.

Note: You will need 3 of each key before continuing on to the next step.

Step 2. Kill the Semi-Ubers

In Act 5 Hell, take one of each key (Terror, Hate, and Destruction), put them in your cube, and hit transmute. It will open one of three possible portals to a Semi-Uber area; Hell's Furnace (Uber Izual), Matron's Den (Lilith), or Forgotten Sands (Uber Duriel). In each area will be a Semi-Uber. It is recommended you open all three areas in one game to guarantee a full organ set (more on this below).

Matron Den
Lilith - Lilith is related somehow to Andarial. To kill her you will need maxed poison resist, max block, massive crushing blow, and possibly some DR. You MUST use life tap, have it be from a life tap charged item, or from a % to cast life tap on striking item. Outside Battle Orders is also highly recommended.
Lilith is the hardest Semi-Uber. She has a massively damaging attack that can easily shave off over 1k hit points in one blow. Beware : she often spawns with monsters around her that can cast amplify damage.

Furnace of Pain
Uber Izual - Can be hard to get to. Fairly easy himself, max resists and block are recommended. Life tap is also highly recommended. He can do some nasty damage in one hit, but nothing compared to what Lilith is capable of. Beware : He often spawns with oblivion knights around him, so be very careful around them due to the Iron Maiden curse they can cast.

Forgotten Sands
Uber Duriel - Easiest of the three Semi-Ubers. Max block is really all you need here. Life tap is also highly recommended. Basically just Duriel with more damage, and perhaps a faster attack speed.

After killing a Semi-Uber, they will drop an organ: Diablo's Horn, Mephisto's Brain, or Baal's Eye. The organ they drop is random; however, no two Semi-Ubers can drop the same organ in the same game. Therefore it is recommended to open all three Semi-Uber portals in the same game to ensure you get all three organs.

Step 3. The Ubers, AHHH!

After getting all of the three different organs from the Semi-Ubers, put the organs in the Horadric Cube, and click to transmute (in Act 5 Hell). This will open the portal to Uber Tristram, where you will encounter the three Ubers.

Uber Mephisto - Extremely dangerous, definitely the most deadly Uber. He has an inherent conviction aura that reduces all resistances by 125. Stacked resists, cold and lightning absorb, life tap, and outside BO are all highly recommended when fighting Uber Mephisto.

Uber Baal - The easiest of the three Ubers. Maxed cold resist, fire resist, life tap, and outside BO are all highly recommended.

Uber Diablo - Similar to Pandemonium Diablo. Maxed fire resist, lightning resist, life tap, and outside BO are all highly recommended.

Note: All three Ubers spawn minions out of nothing; Mephisto spawns elemental skeletons, Baal spawns Vampires, and Diablo spawns Uber Death Lords that are immune to cold, fire, poison, lightning, and magic. Diablo and Baal tend to spawn minions only when targeted.

After killing all three Ubers in Tristram, they will drop a Hellfire Torch large charm, and a Standard of Heroes (the latter does absolutely nothing so ignore it if you choose to).

3.7 What Mercenary should I use?

This largely depends on the character class you are playing. Most ranged attackers prefer to have a strong melee mercenary to attract monsters and keep them from attacking the character, whereas melee characters either go for a mercenary to help them out in battle or to act as artillery. An added benefit in 1.11 is that mercenaries can always be hired close to your character level, so it is better to hire mercenaries from Normal than from NM or Hell (unless you need one of the NM act 2 mercenary auras). This is because Normal mercenaries have better stats than NM or Hell mercenaries.

Normal Mercenaries
  • Act 3 Cold Mercenary - one of the best choices when going through normal, due to his glacial spike and ice blast skills, which will freeze most of the monsters you engage. Not really viable for most builds in Hell difficulty.
  • Act 5 Barbarian Mercenary - also an excellent choice to make. Although they confer no bonus to you or your party, they are much tougher than Act 2 mercenaries, in that they survive longer, have more life and regenerate health faster. Viable in Hell difficulty.
  • Act 2 Defensive (Defiance) Mercenary - often used by defence oriented characters, as more defence = less chance to be hit by monsters. Viable in Hell difficulty.
  • Act 2 Combat (Prayer) Mercenary - often used in conjunction with an "Insight" runeword polearm, to provide a double prayer synergy bonus (which equals twice the healing). Viable in Hell difficulty.
  • Rogue Mercenary - Rarely used. Often used only for auras provided by specific runewords such as "Faith," "Edge," or "Harmoney."
NM Mercenaries
  • Act 2 Defensive (Holy Freeze) Mercenary - by far the most popular choice of mercenary. His Holy Freeze aura slows and freezes all monsters within his radius, reducing your chances of being hit and giving you far more time to react to any nasty surprises you may get.
  • Act 2 Offensive (Might) Mercenary - also popular, especially with amazons, who don't necessarily need the monsters frozen, but prefer a substantial boost to their damage.
  • Act 2 Combat (Thorns) Mercenary - mostly used by characters with a large amount of minions, namely Necromancers and sometimes by Paladins or Assassins using Conversion/Mind Blast.
  • Ignore all other mercenaries in this difficulty.
Hell Mercenaries
  • Ignore all mercenaries in this difficulty.

3.8 When should I move onto the next act?

This too, is a question for which there is no correct answer, as people move at a different pace to one another, depending on their playing style. For Normal difficulty though, this is a rough guide as to when you should move on:

Act 1 - Levels 1 - 12. You should do all areas here, especially in large games. If you are thorough in Act 1 and go through it in order, clearing each areas you go, you can easily reach level 15 or more, and with very little difficulty. The Catacombs are a great place to get extra levels.
Act 2 - Levels 12 - 20. If you want to redo some areas in this act, the 3 best are the sewers, the arcane sanctuary and the canyon of the magi. Stay in here till around level 20 or so, because Act 3 is rather difficult.
Act 3 - Levels 20 - 26. This is one of the more difficult acts, especially the starting 3 areas. Expect to encounter hundreds of tiny little flayers to begin with. Once you reach Kurast city though it gets a lot easier, with good experience to be found in all 4 areas of Kurast.
Act 4 - Levels 26 - 30. The hardest part of Act 4 is undoubtedly the Chaos Sanctuary, and you want to be at least level 25 or more, with good resistances. Oblivion Knights HURT.
Act 5 - Levels 30 - 45. Ahh, good old act 5. Loads of experience everywhere in here, but particularly in Baal runs.

With the predominance of poweracting these days, this guide doesn't apply in that case, as most characters will level until 20, do the Ancients and then jump straight into the Hills, but if you plan on working your way through the acts in chronological order, it's a good plan to follow. You may have to re-do some areas a few times to level up, but it's well worth it, as you will find yourself far better equipped to handle the next Act. One or two extra levels can make all the difference.

3.9 What is the best Hardcore Character?

This is a question that is often asked by new players, and one that often draws sharp rebukes from many veteran players. Don't be discouraged if you've been flamed, it's just that such a general and vague question as this one has NO correct answer. Although the character classes have innumerable sub-variants to play, some with faster killing power, others with huge life, others with maxed resistances...there is no best character. What works well for someone else may not work at all for you.

In short, there is no best Hardcore Character. There's just the characters you want to make and enjoy playing. Nothing else.


Hardcore Moderator and America Trade Moderator
Jun 22, 2003
New Port Richey, FL
4. Item Hunting and building up your Item Base

4.1 I don't have any good items! Can someone help me? Where and how do I magic find?

This is the most common complaint from those migrating from Softcore to Hardcore; having to start again in building up an item base. First and foremost, don't join the beggars in the Hardcore channel spamming "GIVE ITAM" or make games called "Itam PLZ" "Windforce PLZ." Such an approach will get you nowhere. It is also not generally a good idea to start your HC career off by asking for free handouts in the Hardcore Forum. That is somewhat akin to taping a "kick me" sign on your back. Begging for items almost always rubs people the wrong way, even "low level crappy items". Make some friends first, and let their generosity manifest of it's own accord. Do not beg for items.

The most important thing to do is to try and get a character to Act 5 Normal, and level it up until they are capable of doing solo Baal runs. See section 3.1 - "What should my first Hardcore Character be?" if you're having trouble reaching Act 5. Baal Runs will net good experience if you do them in a party, and usually, a set/unique/rare will drop from the big bug (even more likely if you have a bit of Magic Find), but you'll need to go solo to have any chance of getting it. Start collecting any gems you find, especially topazes as flawless grade gems begin to drop in Act 5. Topazes are especially valuable as when placed in helms and body armour they give bonuses to your Magic Find (MF). Bear in mind also, you don't have to transmute 3 flawless topazes to a perfect every time. 3 flawless topazes give 60% MF, whereas 3 perfect give 72% MF. However, it is far easier to find 3 flawless topazes than 3 perfect, and the difference in MF is so slight as to be hardly worthwhile, unless you have a lot of topazes to play with.

The easiest way to item find is to use a 3 socket Mask and a 4 socket Gothic Plate, all filled with topazes, which should give you a MF rating of at least 140% MF (using only flawless topazes). This ensures Baal should drop something worthwhile almost every time. Once you have started to build up a nice item base, you can start bringing other characters up to Act 5 and beyond, with decent gear to pass onto them.

The more popular place to item find is Nightmare Mephisto. The best characters to use for Meph runs are either sorceresses or barbarians. To do these quickly, you will need good resistances (lots of elemental attacks in the Durance and from Mephisto himself), as well as teleport or an item with teleport charges. Barbarians should just use leap attack. You don't need the teleport by any means - it will just take a little longer, that's all. To get through the Durance 2, take the waypoint and follow the wall to the left of your character. The entrance to Durance level 3 is almost always found in a clockwise direction from the waypoint, and always on the outside wall. Sorceresses should just keep teleporting, barbarians can just run straight on through.

Once you reach Durance level 3, head straight across from the entrance. You can kill any monsters you encounter - just be wary of boss packs, especially Stygian Dolls. Barbarians should then turn right, and run straight for Mephisto, leaping over the blood moat to land on the little island with the portal. Watch out for Bremm. Sorceresses should head straight across from the entrance, teleport over the wall on the left hand side and then head for the island. Once you are on this island you are safe, just head straight up and kill Mephisto. Please note that there is not much point doing NM Mephisto unless you have a fair amount of Magic Find - 200% or more is best. Also, you don't have to use teleport or leap attack to skip most of the monsters, however if you want to do runs quickly, it's better to skip everything except Mephisto himself.

Good Items to use for Magic Find that are easily found (apart from helms and armour with Perfect Topaz) include Goldwrap (Unique Heavy Belt), Nagelring, (Unique Ring), Ali Baba's (Unique Tulwar), Tarnhelm (Unique Skull Cap) and Chance Guards (Unique Chain Gloves). There are other, better items with more MF, such as Tal Rasha's Armour, however such items are much harder to find, and cost a lot more to trade for.

4.2 Is Gambling still worthwhile in the Expansion?

Yes. Although you can no longer find set or unique items by gambling, (Well, you can, but at odds of 1/100000 you're not going to) rare items and excellent magic items still crop up quite often. If you're not after any item class in specific, excellent items to gamble on are rings, amulets and anything in the circlet class, which can spawn with excellent mods. Rings and Amulets are always in the gambling screen and it is a simple matter to keep re-spawning the gambling screen until a circlet appears for you to gamble.
In order to collect gold for gambling; make sure you collect the items you find along the way. Most body armours sell for at least 10000 gold pieces or more and many magical weapons also sell for quite a bit. Don't disregard it just because it doesn't have a colourful name…sell it, and get some use out of it.

4.3 How often should I mule?

Muling, for those of you who don't know, is the process where you transfer items from one of your characters to another of your characters. Maybe items you want another character to use, or just items you want to put on a character for safekeeping, for use further down the road. Such characters, which do nothing except store items, are called "mules".

In Hardcore, muling should be a reasonably common activity, as once you die everything in your stash and inventory is lost forever. As such, you should never be running around with a stash full of juicy items for extended periods of time. In short, you should be muling once your stash and inventory become full with items you want to keep.

Muling however, is a matter of personal preference; if you prefer to play untwinked, (playing a character with only the items you find with that character) as many do, by all means do so and feel free to disregard this section.
There are different methods to mule, and the three that follow are the most common ways of doing so.
  • You can mule with a friend. This is the safest option, as a friend of yours you know and trust can hold the game open for you and hold onto your items. This ensures that if the game crashes for some reason, at least your stuff is not gone forever.
  • You can mule by yourself. This the option if you don't have anyone who you trust sufficiently to hold onto your stuff. Basically, make a private, passworded game and sit in it for about 5-10 minutes. After 5 minutes has elapsed, the game will still stay up even after you leave, but only for a few minutes. Drop everything you want to mule, leave and return with mules and other characters to distribute the equipment as you see fit. Don't do this in heavy lag though...even if you were able to get back in the first time, there is no guarantee you will be able to get back in again. This muling method is the most unpredictable.
  • You can mule in a public game This is an option if you want to mule and not worry about a game going down because it crashed and no-one was in it. Pick a game such as "Act 4 Kill Diablo" and mule your stuff in act one or two. Anyone else who joins is likely to go straight to act 4 for the Diablo kill, so your chances of being discovered are remote. If you mule in games like these, don't just drop your stuff where anyone could find it. If you drop it in town, drop it in an out of the way place where no-one is likely to walk. Consider dropping it near one of the waypoints out in that act, such as the Stony Field or Far Oasis, so even if someone thinks you're muling and comes to find your stuff, they won't know where to look, unless they're truly persistent. DO NOT use this method if your characters have names with the word "mule" in them, or any other such word that gives everyone a heads-up that someone is muling in the game. The moment people see that a mule has entered the game, you're quite likely to find people nosing about in act one or two for any freebies lying on the ground. Also if you're entering and leaving with multiple characters, even if they don't have giveaway names, 5 different characters on the same account entering and leaving is going to point to the fact that you're muling.

4.4 Are the item drops better in Hardcore than Softcore?

No. Monsters drop exactly the same, regardless of whether you play hardcore or softcore. Contrary to urban legend, hardcore does not reward players with better items.

4.5 What are some good starting items?

You will find that a lot of items in this game, especially most of the normal uniques and set items have nice stats, but a level requirement that makes them virtually useless, as by that stage you are using something better.

Apart from the set and uniques though, keep your eyes out for nice magical items on sale from vendors, as well as items with sockets that you can put gems and jewels into. Gems are very useful at early levels, but are often overlooked by new players in favour of the more glamorous set and unique items.

However, there are a few set and unique items that new players should look out for, as they are very handy in the early stages of the game. For detailed stats on these items, please consult the Arreat Summit

Bloodfist (Unique Heavy Gloves)
This is one of the finest items for new players in the game. Not only does it give you a very handy life boost, but it also speeds up your attack speed and your hit recovery, meaning you will kill and recover from hits faster. If you can trade for a pair of these, do so, or if you run Normal Baal or Mephisto a few times, you have a fair chance of getting these.

The Centurion (Unique Hard Leather Armour)
Twitchthroe (Unique Studded Leather)
Both of these armours are excellent for starting characters to have, however they can be somewhat hard to find, now that gambling for uniques has been turned off. Again, the best sources for finding normal unique and set items are Baal and Mephisto runs on Normal. You should do these with a bit of Magic Find (using topazes in socketed armour/helms) or from other items to make them more worthwhile.

Biggin's Bonnet (Unique Cap)
This is probably the best headgear for an early character to wear, with bonuses to life/mana, as well as other useful boosts, combined with a very low character level requirement. This cap can often be very useful up until Acts 2/3 if you haven't found anything better.

Pelta Lunata (Unique Shield)
An excellent starting shield, for either melee or spellcaster characters, this shield can be difficult to find, as it is somewhat popular with low level duelers or Player-Killers. However, any monster from Cold Plains onward has the potential to drop it, so if you find one, hold onto it, and put it to good use.

Angelic Wings (Amulet) and Angelic Halo (Ring)
Although the bonuses from the Amulet are pretty ordinary, the main reason it is used is that the Amulet, when worn with another piece of the Angelic Set confers a bonus of +75 life, a phenomenal boost for a level 12 character. The amulet isn't that easy to find, but someone may have it on a mule if you ask nicely. Although you can get this bonus from any angelic set item, wearing it with the ring is best because the ring gives you a huge boost to your Attack Rating, which is very handy at low levels as well.

Arctic Furs (Quilted Armour)
This is an excellent armour for any starting character, and will give excellent service throughout Acts 1 and 2 normal. By act 3 though, you should be looking for something better.

Cathan's Seal (Ring)
Excellent amount of Life Steal from early on, especially with magical 6% life leech rings having a lvl requirement in the 30's. Fairly commonplace as well.

Civerb's Icon (Amulet)
Good amulet for a spellcaster to have early on, especially to help in the troublesome problem of running out of mana.

Death's Guard (Sash)
This is a handy item to have in your stash if you hate being frozen, however the fact it only has 2 slots will rapidly become an inconvenience. Note also that it does not work monsters with Holy Freeze, such as Duriel.

Death's Hand (Leather Gloves)
This is a great item for act 1 beginners, mainly for the purpose of dealing with Andariel and her poison attack. It's also good to keep on throughout Act 2, but after that you'll probably want to ditch it as not many monsters use poison after that.

Hsaru's Iron Heel (Chain Boots)
Handy boots to have early, especially with fire being the element you encounter most in the early acts.

Hsaru's Iron Stay (Belt)
Nice life and resist bonus, and it also has 3 slots, which is very useful early on, saving you less trips back to town.

Infernal Cranium (Cap)
Extremely nice headgear, and comparable with Biggin's Bonnet in usefulness, although for different reasons. Resistance bonus is good, and the 20% damage will help refill your mana quickly if you are in combat.

Isenhart's Case (Breastplate)
This is one of the most hated items in the game, as Mephisto often drops it on Normal and Nightmare when players are looking for much better items. However, it is an excellent armour for new characters, and its abundance makes it much easier for you to get your hands on one.

Vidala's Fetlock (Light Plated Boots)
This item is a godsend for low level characters without much stamina, as it basically means they can run all the time without running out of stamina (unless you plan on running from the Rogue Encampment to the Outer Cloister without stopping)​

Also, when you've finished with a low level item and have found something better, don't just sell the old one and move on. Either mule it and save it for another new character later on, or give it away to someone else for their use. It's often a good idea to keep a mule equipped with low level gear to outfit new characters in, and help speed their levelling early on.

4.6 What are Crafted Items?

Crafted items are items that are made in your Horadric Cube, using various recipes. They come with 3 preset mods, and up to 3 other random mods. Not many people use them any more, however some of their stats are better than uniques and set items can get, and as such can be very useful. For more information about crafting, go to the Crafted Items Section

5. Death, Lag and Looting

Death is always in the back of every Hardcore character players mind; when they take a town portal or waypoint, when they attack a nasty boss, when they confront Diablo…death is always in the background. It should be noted that Death is not the nice Death of the Discworld with his scythe, hourglasses and horse named Binky, taking you away to the afterlife with dignity…no, in Diablo 2 death comes in the form of your body being either deep-fried or pulped by the various nasty creatures inhabiting the gameworld. This is a situation you want to avoid at all costs and the information below is designed to help you do that.

5.1 How do I deal with lag?

A disconnect from the realms or lag whilst playing is a very dangerous time for your character, as you may have up to 10 seconds wait before you are disconnected totally, which is plenty of time for Diablo's minions to reduce you to a nasty stain on the ground.

The only way of dealing with lag is to be able to identify the signs that everything is not well between you and Battle.Net. Easy ways to tell that something is not right:

- Your stamina bar is not decreasing when you are running around
- Your mana doesn't decrease when you cast a spell

Please note that on characters with high stamina or high mana, this may not be readily visible. Better ways of telling if lag is present are:

- Your mercenary is standing still but you are still moving
- Monsters don't seem to be moving around
- You cast a town portal and it doesn't appear
- (Sorceresses Only) If you can cast timed spells without the 2 second spell timer
This four are sure signs that you have lagged or de-synchronised. You can either save/exit immediately, or cast a town portal and wait for it to appear on the minimap. When the yellow cross appears, run over to that spot to re-synchronise your character with Battle.Net. Do not try this if you were in close proximity to monsters, as by the time your character re-syncs, you are likely to be dead.

Once you have encountered lag, it is not recommended to keep playing that character. Find something else to do, as playing in laggy conditions is a sure-fire way to get yourself bumped off.

A final piece of advice: If you do decide to keep playing in laggy conditions, typing "/fps" in the game (without the quotation marks) will bring up your current ping as well as your frames-per-second. The moment you see your ping begin to spike past 500, you are lagging badly and should either save/exit or portal back to town until the lag dies down.


Hardcore Moderator and America Trade Moderator
Jun 22, 2003
New Port Richey, FL
5.2 How do I avoid being Player-Killed?

Avoiding TPPK (Town Portal Player Killers):
TPPK is a method of PK'ing out that allows players to fire spells or skills off, and immediately go to town and hostile before that spell or skill disappears. This is done using a third party hack, and is one of the deadliest forms of PK'ing. In other words, they will aim their spell at you, start firing it, and within the blink of an eye, you will be dead. The most common types of TPPK'ers are as follows: Bone necros using bone spear or bone spirit, Cold sorceresses using ice blast, Fire sorceresses using fireball, Guided-Arrow amazons, and Wind druids.

Be wary of ANY of these high level classes. The best way to avoid a death to TPPK when you achieve a high level is to not play in public games; as this is their territory. Try to avoid playing in public games past normal baals. I know this is hard, but unless you're willing to risk all your hard work to be hack-killed, it's the only way. If you insist on playing in public games with high levels, never stay in one spot; always keep moving. This can throw off their aiming and make them completely miss if they attempt to TPPK you (not possible for bone spirit and guided arrow).

Avoiding "Normal" PK's:
The first thing to do is to get out of harm's way…IMMEDIATELY. Either use a town portal if you know you have time or save and exit if you know the Player Killer is nearby. If you have no particular desire to stay in your current game, simply save/exit and look for another one. If you do want to stay, do not try and pick a fight, especially with high level Player Killers. Simply wait, and they will usually leave the game after about 5 minutes.

If you save and exit the moment you hear the hostile sound, you are almost certain to escape. That is unless the PK is right on top of you, ambushes you as you leave town etc.

If the Player Killer is of about your level or a lower level, and I cannot emphasise this too strongly: DO NOT GO OUT AND FIGHT. As Rachelene, one of the best low level duelers said:

"Some little monsters are so heavily twinked that they can send people 3 times their level to the grave."

I must concur, for I have seen it happen too. A level 15-18 character that hostiles people in Normal Hill Runs is not insane; rather, they are likely to be uber-twinked for Player Killing, and easily able to kill or seriously damage characters of a much higher level.

Unless you have a character that is either particularly dangerous for its level, or one that is equipped for duelling, it is best to be safe then sorry. Some of the Player-Killers in Hardcore are among the best in the game, especially those that attack characters of a higher level than their own. Their builds combine not only raw killing power, but also the ability to survive attacks from higher level characters.

A few quick tips on how to avoid being Pked in general: THIS IS IMPORTANT…

  • Be very careful of characters whose level indicates that they should be somewhere else, eg. Level 40 characters in Act 2 Normal.
  • Don't leave town if a character is standing by the entrance. They are likely to hostile you the moment you leave. This is especially true with characters such as amazons, who can hostile and send arrows flying out after you in seconds. Also be wary for assassins who may have hidden traps outside the town.
  • Don't take portals from people you don't know well. The portal could easily be trapped by monsters that a player has led back to the portal.
  • Beware of high-level sorceresses/bone necros and other ranged-attack characters. They can use a third party program to cast a spell, go to town, and hostile you before that "spell" fades out.
  • Be wary around enchanters in chant games that use act 1 rogue mercs. Do NOT go outside town if their rogue mercenary is also outside town, and you are above lvl 8. They can hostile you and their rogue merc can kill you if you are both outside of town.
  • Don't let yourself be taunted into fighting. Many PK'ers are expert in taunting players out to fight with well-aimed insults. Just remember: "Sticks and Stones…"
  • Finally, always be on your guard and suspicious of everything and everyone. Trust is a very valuable commodity in Diablo 2 and should not be given out lightly. Always beware, for even the nicest person may be setting you up for a sucker punch. I know it's not a nice way to play, but it's the only way to survive.

5.3 Where do Player Killers usually hang out?

Most of the time, you will find Player Killers in games such as "Baalrun" "Tombrun" or "SewerRun", where the name of the game indicates where the majority, if not all players in the game will be found, meaning the Player Killer does not have to spend time hunting for their prey. Always pay attention to the party screen when playing in games such as this, as quite often a high level character is immediately invited without anyone looking at their character level. If you notice someone in your party who you think looks suspicious, especially someone of a much higher level than everyone else be very careful. If you want to continue playing in that game, stay a long way away from that player and always be on your guard. Many Player Killers though may not be immediately noticeable, being of about your level and not drawing attention to themselves until they hit the hostile button. Really though, if a high level character joins a game they have no reason to join for co-op reasons, just leave. They're 99% of the time going to be a PK, and there are hundreds of other games out there. Only stay if it's something really important - like you're just about to finally reach a waypoint etc.

Another good solution to avoiding being Pked is to level in hard to find places. For example, join a baal run, but instead of leveling in the baal, level in the Crystalline Passage. If a PK joins the game, he's going to head straight for the Throne of Destruction, as he has no reason to suspect anyone might be in the Crystalline passage. This strategy works best if you don't party up, as the PK may very well join the party prior to hostiling, just to scout out what he's up against. Sure, you won't be able to leech, but you get all the item drops and you're completely safe from PK's.

In short, be very careful. Careful play is the path to survival.

5.4 Who should I allow to loot my corpse?

Again, this is a matter of personal choice. Some people like to allow loot to everyone in their party, so that if they die, at least someone will loot them. The only problem lies in the fact that the people who loot you may not want to give you your stuff back. Other people only allow loot to their friends or to people who they have played with for a while and who seem fairly trustworthy. The downside of this, is if you play in a party with no-one you know and you die, you have absolutely no chance of getting your stuff back, whereas if you had given loot to someone in your party, you at least had a chance to get your stuff back.

When it comes down to it, it's a matter of personal opinion. If you are happy for anyone to loot you, and prepared to risk not getting your stuff back, by all means give loot to everyone in the game. It should be noted though, that for some people, the fact that they will be able to get your stuff if you die is incentive enough for them to try and kill you. You have been warned.

However, if you'd rather your items died with you, rather than someone you don't know stole them from your corpse, don't set loot. If someone does return your loot to you out of kindness, not out of prior friendship, a nice gesture is to give them a little something for their troubles, such as an item of some sort, particularly if you died in a nasty situation and they risked life and limb to loot your corpse. This ensures that they'll continue to help others the same way they helped you, and makes the realms just that little bit friendlier.

5.5 What gets looted when I die?

When your character dies, everything that you currently had equipped is able to be looted. Therefore, this is everything you were wearing at the time of your death, as well as whatever you had in your weapon switch. Nothing from your stash or inventory can be looted - so no charms, potions, gold etc - that stuff is lost permanently. When someone loots you, you may find that your corpse still remains on the ground after they have looted you. This means that they haven't got everything off your corpse, and that there are still items remaining to be looted. In this case, they'll need to go drop some stuff in their stash to free up some room in their inventory before they come back. Once your corpse disappears, that means that everything is looted. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT PRESS THE ESCAPE KEY UNTIL YOU ARE SURE THAT YOUR CORPSE HAS BEEN COMPLETELY LOOTED. Once you press escape, you and your corpse are removed from the game along, with whatever items it still had on it. Once you press escape you cannot be looted, so avoid the instinctive reaction when you die and wait until all your items are secured.

5.6 Rachelene on Player-Killing.

What follows is the edited version of an old post made by Rachelene, an old school, notorious in his time PK'er/dueler to ever grace this forum and Battle.Net. I cannot over-emphasise how sound his advice is, and I urge all of you who are worried about PK's and who want to avoid PK's to read his words of wisdom. The advice below is advice that only a PK can give, not a co-op person such as myself.

[Rachelene Switched On]
  1. PK's, like it or not, are here to stay. They can use bugs, hacks and other dirty tricks, and often can inflict huge damage with low level characters. They PK because they can, and you must make allowances for this. They get off on attention - swearing from the guy they just slaughtered is music to their ears. Finally, they are almost always found in heavily used areas.
  2. Be wary of strangers. Any stranger. The level 10 that just joined your party could be a spotter for the hydra sorceress, and he will pass this info to her so she'll find you easy. Always be on your guard.
  3. Don't ask for waypoints, unless you are ready to pay the price. This is basically asking to being PKed. Yes, the nice clvl 70 sorcie will give you the TP you asked for to durance2. Will it REALLY be any wonder that it will be full of monsters, or a spell aimed at you when you get there? Do you give your car keys to someone you never met, too?
  4. If, like me, you think maphack is for wusses, keep in mind that the Automap is your best friend. Have it on ALL the time.
  5. Assume everyone is a cheater. Although rare, people can lag/hack/freeze you and then kill you before you time out. Even better, solo in remote areas. Sure, you can't leech experience, but you get all the drops. You might to need to mule a few items over to your character, but hey, freedom from being PK'ed is worth it, right? If you're soloing, and no-one knows where you are - you have no chance of being PK'ed.
  6. Don't taunt, insult or otherwise even talk to the PK. Squelch him. Don't feed the monkey. Move to another game. If they keep following you, put level restrictions on the game so they can't get in.
  7. Assume the PK has maphack. Act in consequence.
  8. If you are caught by a legitimate PK, congratulate him and leave. If you are caught by a cheater, just leave. Don't show you are upset. Joke lightly about it if you can. If the PK asks if you are upset, keep a light tone, don't insult, and ask "Why? It's a game". If he cheated, just say "Oh well, I've died to disconnects and sillies before, why bother about you?". Again, don't feed the monkeys.
  9. Very important. Don't call for Mommy. Don't go get your fat level 79 MF Barb because you were hostiled by a level 12 pally in a sewers run. Such lameness will likely get you in trouble. If you can get your Mommy, I can get my Daddy, and I assure you that my level 71 Barb probably can have you eat your shorts in short order... AFTER I give you a wedgie. Just don't do it. If you must get something, get a well built dueller of the same level or about, and if you are indeed correctly built, you should be able to give the PKer a run for his money, since PKers may have trouble coping with a well built dueller.
  10. Know your enemy. Learn the basic of PvP, even if you don't plan to do any. Be aware of what can be done to you, and how. Always assume your opponent has a trick off his sleeve.
[/Rachelene Switched Off]

Thank you Rachelene, for that succinct and excellent advice. It's rare to see a Pker express such sentiments with bluntness and good humour. I hope you all took something out of it.

5.7 I died! What do I do now?

The important thing is not to get discouraged. Death is a part of Hardcore, just as much as anything else, so you musn't let it get you down. The best thing to do is to remember where and how you died, what you did wrong and how you can avoid repeating the same mistake again. Then, rebuild or start a different character. Also, you might want to swing by our Fallen Friends Thread and post the details of your death to share it with the community at large.

5.8 Someone said there are hackers on realms? How do I avoid these losers?

It is unfortunate but true that certain individuals on Battle.Net use various hacks, cheats and exploits to further their own item base or to unfairly kill other players. As legitimate players, there is not much you can about these people except try and avoid them. In order to do that it is simply a matter of keeping your eyes open and remaining alert to any suspicious activities going on in a game. Below is a brief list of the hacks you should be watchful for. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS FAQ DOES NOT, WILL NOT AND WILL NEVER CONDONE THE USE OF ANY HACKS. The information provided below is intended for informational purposes only and should be treated as such.

- Pindlebot - This is one of the most loathed hacks on B.Net at the moment. Basically it turns a char into a robot and runs Hell Pindleskin repeatedly, without any player interference whatsoever. It makes game after game while the owner is away (at work, school, etc) and runs Pindle. It has caused a sharp decline in the value of many high-level items, since they are now much more common and some claim it is responsible for some of the lag on realms, what with all the new games being made one after the other. If you see anyone using this, treat them with scorn.
- Drophack - Another, MUCH less common one, this one is used by people for Pking purposes. I'm not even sure if such a hack is still active in 1.10, but we'll assume it is. Basically they activate the hack and your connection "freezes" and you begin timing out. During the 10 seconds before you time out they kill you. The only way to combat this is hit alt-F4 the moment you see lag, and you may be able to exit before you die.
- Maphack - This is probably the most common hack, and it does what it says - it hacks the map to reveal the entire area. You can easily pick maphackers as they make an unerring beeline for the exit of each area, and always seem to know where the good shrines are. Not much you can do on this one - if you're getting sick of playing with a person who just wants to rush through an area and not kill anything, as many people do, just leave the game and find another one.
- TPPK - This is one of the most hated hacks in existence. It allows the user to fire a projectile attack at another player, and instantly go to town + hostile them, causing that projectile to go "hostile" to the target, and often killing them.


Hardcore Moderator and America Trade Moderator
Jun 22, 2003
New Port Richey, FL
6. Playing in Parties

6.1 Are there any special rules for playing in parties?

Although there are no official rules for playing in parties, common sense says that you should, at all times play fairly and properly with your fellow party members. Even if you've never met them before, there is no excuse for acting like a jackass. Spamming the chat screen with requests for items, poweracts etc, is a sure-fire way to get yourself squelched. More importantly though, is to make sure you are doing your utmost to assist the party at all times. Below is a quick table on what each character class should pay special attention to:

Barbarians: Always make sure Battle Orders or any other warcries you are using for the party remain up at all times. If there is more than one barbarian in the party and you both have Battle Orders, work out who has the higher level of Battle Orders and let that person cast it all the time. The reason for this is, that if a person with lower level Battle Orders casts over higher level, everyone's life gets reset. The loss of 500+ life in the middle of combat can be fatal for some people, so pay attention if you're the person doing the Battle Orders.

Druids: Keep your minions summoned, especially your Oak Sage. With your huge life, you'll often be called upon to take the lead, so make sure you draw monsters away from weaker characters in the party.

Amazons: If using a Valkyrie, keep re-summoning it when it dies. Consider using your Decoy as well, as it can draw monsters off your fellow party members; as well be used for scouting.

Assassins: If using traps, keep pushing them forward ahead of the party, to scout the way ahead.

Paladins: Use the aura that most people will benefit from. For example, if you have a party with a predominance of sorceresses, consider switching to conviction if you are using something like fanaticism. Try to put a point in salvation and ask people if they want it before tackling an area with a lot of magic-using monsters, such as the Chaos Sanctuary or the Durance.

Necromancers: Regulate your supply of minions according to the current situation. If you have a large party with 3 or 4 melee characters, don't go raising huge numbers of minions, as they will be surplus to requirements and just lag everyone. Often a Golem and 3 or 4 more powerful monsters are more than enough protection for your party. Also use the curse that suits the situation. There's no point in using Iron Maiden simply for your minions, when using Lower Resist will allow a sorceress to kill 3 times as fast as all your minions put together. Other curses that are a much better choice than Iron Maiden are Amplify Damage, Life Tap and Decrepify.

Sorceresses: Consider using static in conjunction with your main killing spells, especially against any bosses that the melee characters are having a bit of trouble with. Cold spells are beneficial for everyone in your party, so use them if you can. The exception to this is if you are playing with a necromancer who relies on corpses either for minions or for exploding. If you are freezing and shattering most of the monsters the party encounters, you will have a very unhappy necromancer on your hands. In this case, use either a fire or lightning spell if possible, and let him know you are doing so. He will be very appreciative of your efforts.

With regards to leeching in a party, it should be noted that many people frown upon this, and may hostile you or attempt to form another party without you in it, especially if you are, for example, a level 12 character leeching in the Bloody Foothills. There is little point in leeching experience in an area that is a long way above where you should be, as you receive a severe experience penalty. The best place to be for gaining experience, is an area where the monsters are of a level within +/- 5 of your own. Any difference greater than that and you begin to be affected by experience penalties. So if you were level 12, you'd be much better off levelling up in the Act 2 sewers, than the Bloody Foothills. You will also be able to contribute to your party, instead of standing around bored near the entrance to Harrogath. See the Arreat Summit Bestiary for further information regarding monster levels (level = monster level).

Most of the other stuff you need to observe if playing in a party stems from common courtesy. Unfortunately, too many people seem to think that the anonymity of the internet and online play gives them a license to play the fool, without fear of retribution. There's nothing you can do about people like this, but the best thing you can do is not join in their antics.

Introduce yourself to people. You don't have to carry on a ten minute conversation with people, but it's nice to at least say hi to the people in the game. Bear in mind who is in the game as well, if you're doing a quest, ask if anyone needs the quest as well. If you find an item that you don't really need but someone else might want, tell people about it, offer it for free and if no-one wants it, then go and sell it.

Finally, if someone is asking for a favour, don't just dismiss them as a newbie, but consider helping them out. It's a matter of personal preference. Me, if I see someone going "PA PLZ ZON HELP ANCIENTS PLZ PLZ PLZ" they're hardly likely to get any help. But if you get someone asking "Hi, would you be able to help me kill Mephisto in Nightmare" and they seem reasonably polite about it, help them if you can. They've made the effort to ask you nicely, so you should at least give them help, or a polite no and a reason why you can't.

Really, it's about remembering that this is a game, with a huge online community. You can either be a helpful part of it, or nothing more than an inconvenience and a pain. It's up to you which path you take.

7. Links

Below are a list of links to some very useful resources on Diabloii.net to help you in your quest for Hardcore Information:

- The Strategy Compendium is home to a vast range of specific guides for almost every Character variant in the game. Note though that many have been written by softcore players, so you may need to balance their advice with the one death concept. Apart from that though, almost all of the information within them is of excellent value. Just check out all the links on the left menu bar.
- The Arreat Summit is the official website for the Diablo 2 expansion. It contains the most thorough items database, aswell as other information regarding crafting, runewords, and magic items prefixes and suffixes. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
- This article, by Iguelmay contains almost abbreviation and acronym used by players on Battle.Net. Don't know what this SOJ everyone is talking about is? Wondering why people are screaming PK? Step right this way.
- There is a very useful skill calculator for planning characters, but it cannot be linked from this site. So instead, search google.com for Diablo skill calculator.

8. Conclusion

Well, that just about wraps it up for the FAQ revision. Hopefully the information is adequately updated to be useful in the 1.11b patch! However, this guide does address only the broader questions, leaving many more specific questions unanswered. Please, if you have any questions not fully answered by this guide, don't hesitate to ask the members here on the Hardcore Forum. Many Hardcore experts frequent the forum, and are happy to answer any and all questions you might have.

Thanks for reading,
Relativity & Demandred

9. Credits
Original FAQ created by Demandred
Updated by Relativity for 1.11b on 06/06/06
Thanks to all people from the Hardcore forum who contributed
Special thanks to Rachelene for his section on PK's


Nov 19, 2003
Inside my head.
4.1 -The more popular place to item find is Nightmare Mephisto. The best characters to use for Meph runs are either sorceresses or barbarians. To do these quickly, you will need good resistances (lots of elemental attacks in the Durance and from Mephisto himself), as well as teleport or an item with teleport charges. Barbarians should just use leap attack. You don't need the teleport by any means - it will just take a little longer, that's all. To get through the Durance 2, take the waypoint and follow the wall to the left of your character. The entrance to Durance level 3 is almost always found in a clockwise direction from the waypoint, and always on the outside wall. Sorceresses should just keep teleporting, barbarians can just run straight on through.
Babas don't really do meph runs all that well since the durance 2 has been increased in size, and the durance 3 is not nearly as consistent in it's placement.

Also 4.1...
Pgems should not only be collected for use, but they are also an accepted currency for lower value items such as Whistan's Guard, Suicide Branch, etc. LLD items (small 15 life charms, 5 str or dex LCs, any carnage jewels, any wrath jewels, 3/6/10 max sc/lc/gc) are also very tradeable on HC. Since I haven't played SC in years I'm not sure if this is actually different from the norm or not, if it is it should probably be mentioned.

4.5 -
This section mentions a lot of items, but neglects some of the easiest, and best...
At the low level range a mask&breast plate with 3 regular rubies (or saphirres) if needed can go a long ways. An easy way to pick up gems is to join cow games that have already been cleared and just wander around picking things up... also a good way to make some cash. Obviously caution is required, but you can take a level 1 into the game.

Another good socket choice is Tir. Six or so of them to be exact. I feel mana after kill works MUCH better than mana leech for javazons and zealots especially... my favourite javelins are increased stack size with +4 mana/kill until I get titans on any zon =) For a sorc it can work if you're leveling in single player games after you get glacial spike because you'll be killing good sized packs with every spike, but if you're in 4 player games you'll be using too much mana for it to be worth while. Conviniently, normal countess runs give nice exp while you go around finding these Tirs.

Those are my favourite things to level to ~30ish with anyways, barring actually twinking.


Nov 22, 2006
Staring at the stars... RaauuwwwrR
Hey Zappa.... GAT does still exist...but we don't play DII anymore ^_^ . The europeans are still hanging together, with some really old guys, and the easties and westies moved to the Disaster Guild.

anyways, I wanted to add a little something to the PK part of the FAQ.

So, you really really really want to fight back huh? Really? Are you sure? This is going to be messy. Right. Here is what you need to fight back the cheap way:

Sigons Boots
Sigons Gloves
Sigons Belt
4 socket gothic plate
3 socket Crown/ Helmet / Mask
Angelic Rings and amulet
Bone Shield of Deflecting, preferably with 2 sockets,Eld-Eld
6 socket Crystal Sword

Socket the armor (plate/helmet) with perfect rubies, socket the sword with 6 perfect topazes (or perfect rubies if you're a sticker for fire damage... not too bad either). Socket the shield with Eld Runes for better block. Level an assassin to 18, and don't bother with PA-ing her through nightmare, as this is a cheap and clean build. Stick 2 points into BoS, the rest into Dragon Talon. Take all the +Str and +dex charms you can find, as well as +life charms, +lighting damage charms and at least one +1 cold damage charm. Stick them onto the character. Enough dex for max block, enough strength to wear everything, the rest into Vitality. Forget about energy. Get 16 full rejuvs, and go for it! You now have a kicksin that does 25-35 physical damage per kick, plus 1-40 lighting damage. Provided you are sick enough, you can add another 1-60 lighting damage by charms. Whilst this setup is not enough for serious duelling, it will give 90% of the pk's a run for their money, as they are clueless level 18 chargerdins with a big 2-hander.

The expensive variant:
4 sock goth plate
3 sock helm/crown/mask
4 sock paladin shield (40%+ res all)
Cow King Boots
Deaths sash
Deaths Gloves
Angelic rings +ammy
cleglaws Sword with a socket.
+15 max damage jewels all around (that's 12 of them)
+14 to life small charms, preferably with a 2nd mod, 38 of them, one scroll of Town Portal, one spot for the ear. 8 Full Juvies.

Level a paladin to 18... feel free to give him a hell PA. Its worth it. 1 pt into Holy Frost. 4 pts into Zeal, the rest into Sacrifice, and if you still have leftover points after that into Zeal again. Enough Dex for maxblock, enough Str for gear, rest into Vit.

Turn holy Frost on once your opponent has contacted you (chuck a juvie), and start slapping. Within 2 seconds they either leave the game, or die. This build is expensive, but perfectly suited for duelling and punishing anything that comes in your way. It is almost unbeateble at the level... perhaps a jabber with a very nice amp-dam javelin, but that's about it. Good luck!

Oh, and no auto-run... set run to alt or something. Trust me on that ok?


Feb 21, 2004
"The Summoner - This boss is included, as he is often the cause of death for many new characters in Act 2 Normal. He has a very deadly firewall, so do not stand directly in it unless you have adequate fire resists. When attacking him, try and close with him as soon as possible, as once you are within melee range, he uses his frost nova and glacial spike, which are far less damaging. He also casts weaken to the dismay of melee characters."

Actually, "magical damage reduced by" mod does much better here. The key is that the summoner's firewall only does 5 damage, but attacks really fast. So if you get three magic damage reduction, then the firewall will be much more managable.

On the other hand, his ice attacks do single big hits of damage, so cold resist is recommended.

Also, in act 2, fire and lightning resists are more important than poison resist. The reason for fire resist is all the Burning Dead, the reason for the lightning is for the Horror's (the archers in the Cellar are the most potent example) and especially the Dung Beetles. Another reason why they are more important than poison resist is that poison doesn't matter in normal difficulty, ever. If you get hit by some nasty poison from a Mummy or the queen Maggot, just go to town and heal up when you get low.

Here's my act-by-act resistance mini-guide for normal (the resistances are listed in order of importance for each act):

Act I:

Fire resist. For the annoying Fallen Shaman attacks. You can easily make it without Fire resist, since the fallen shaman fireballs are more of an annoyance rather than a danger. But you need fire resist for every other act anyway, so why not?

Don't bother with poison resist for Andariel; just fill up one or two belt slots with Antidotes.

Act II

Magic Damage Reduction. The Ghoul Lord's firewalls only do two magic damage, and the Summoner's deal five. This means that if you have a mere two magic damage reduction, you can stand in the Ghoul Lord's Firewalls and take no damage! I recommend at least three for the Summoner. (easily obtained on armors, shields, rings, and amulets).

Lightning Resist. The Beetles attacks have been upgraded; they really hurt now. Also, the Horror Archers in the Cellar can get really scary if you let the situation get out of control.

Fire resist. Without it, the Burning Dead melee skeletons will be annoying, and packs of Burning Archers will be dangerous.

Cold Resist. (optional) Helpful for the Summoner's Glacial Spikes, but you could just use Rejuvination potions. Or you could simply dodge them.

Poison resist really isn't important here, since the Cadaver's poison clouds, the Maggot's poison spit, and the Zombie's attacks are all negligible. The only thing to really watch out for are the Greater Mummy's melee attacks. Kill them from a distance, or be prepared to use some health / rejuvination potions. (Ironically, their Poison Cloud attack isn't really a big deal; it's when they swipe you with their claws that they deal the most poison damage.)


Fire Resist. The Flayer Shamans' Infernos hurt, as do Hydras from the Council Members.

Cold Resist. The Heirophant's Blizzards are annoying, but the real reason for having Cold Res is Mephisto's Cold Ball. Very nasty. You could also stock up on Thawing potions, but it's good to have some backup cold resistance as well.

Lightning Resist is not important for this act. Gloams don't hurt yet, and the Heirophant's lightning attacks are negligible, as are Mephisto's. The only true lightning danger is Bremm Sparkfist, but I recommend just accepting the danger and approaching him with extreme caution, or holding on to some lightning resist rings to fight him.

As always in normal difficulty, poison resistance does not matter. The Spider Magus deal about two poison damage per second. This isn't a big deal (just use a potion), but it stays on for approximately 72 hours :)tongue:), so go talk to Ormus after clearing each temple.

Act IV

Fire Resist. Venom Lord's Infernos, Abyss/Oblivion Knights, and Diablo. Need I say more?

Lightning Resist. Diablo's Lightning Hose attack, and the Burning Souls in the Plains of Despair can hurt somewhat.

Cold Resist. (optional) For the Knight's elemental attacks. Diablo also has a Cold Claw attack. You could get by without it though.

The Knight's also have poison attacks, but I still don't think it's a problem. Use a health potion and keep going. Of all of the poison in normal difficulty, this is the worst, and I did consider putting this as an optional resistance, but decided against it.

Act V

Cold Resist. For the Frozen Terror's and for Baal's incredibly annoying Cold Wave. Those suiciding guys do cold damage too, I think.

Fire Resist. (optional) For the annoying Imps and the more dangerous, but only one-time Hydras from the Council minions. Also I think those suiciders deal fire damage, but you should avoid them.

Despite the fact that Act V is frozen and all, I generally have more problems with Physical Attacks there. Death Maulers, Enslaved, Abominables, Prowling Dead, and most notably the Frenzytaurs all deal varying degrees of physical damage. So just stack up life, cold resist, and block (if possible) for this act.

Nightmare and Hell

Random unique monsters get nastier, and bosses get nastier. Gloam-type enemies become a real threat here. All resistances are important. I would say that overall, from most to least important, the resistances are: Lightning, Fire, Cold, and Poison.


Hardcore Moderator and America Trade Moderator
Jun 22, 2003
New Port Richey, FL
Re: The Hardcore FAQ

Thanks to Tai for this nice summary regarding Act Boss "glitching".

4.7 What is “Glitching” or “First-Drop”?

When you kill an act boss (Andariel, Duriel, Mephisto, Diablo, Baal) for the first time the game rewards you with a superior ‘quest’ drop. In this drop all items are of rare quality or above, except for set items that fail to spawn because there is no set item in that item type which spawn as magical, so it is potentially very profitable. Glitching or ‘first-drop’ is a method to get the game to drop you the quest drop every time.

• For Andariel it’s easy as pie. After you kill Andariel for the first time simply make sure you talk to Warriv and go to act 2 without leaving the game. Other variations don’t matter, you can talk to Cain, gamble with Gheed as long as you talk to Warriv and go to Lut Gholein without leaving the game. Many of you have probably done this without realizing it, which is why we all seem to have good luck from Andariel. Her drop rates make jewellery a very common sight, and when it can’t be magical you get some very nice finds from her.
• Duriel is harder to bug for you need to have two characters or do the runs very slowly. Create the game with a character who has already completed the end act quest. Join with a second character who needs the quest and kill Duriel with that second character. The game will see you haven’t done the quest yet and give you the drop, but it can’t complete the quest so you can continue to do this. Obviously Duriel is not a particularly efficient character to run, as it is a pain to get to him relative to the others and he has lower drop rates for most of what we find useful but for the sake of completeness that’s how you would do it.
• Mephisto is much more commonly first dropped. You go about it the exact same way as you would for Duriel, but he is much more likely to drop what you want because of his higher level and the runs are faster than Duriel. The most common configuration for this is a Barbarian who has completed the quest and a Sorceress (usually Frozen Orb or Blizzard) who kills Mephisto to get the first drop. This setup gives you the most possible speed and the safety of the Barbarian’s ‘Battle Orders’.
• Diablo is a potentially powerful first drop, but rarely run as you have to clear the seal bosses first and compared to the ease of Mephisto and the raw power of Baal he falls by the wayside. As before, same method as explained for Duriel. Probably not worth your effort as you have to intentionally keep a character from rescuing Anya or levelling in act 5 to make this possible and the rewards simply aren’t on par with the losses.
• Baal, the big bad target of most first droppers. He is a common choice because first dropping him fits neatly into a series of Baal runs for experience. You have someone who has already completed the quest create the games and have a character or two capable of killing him quickly stay without the quest and you have a fast, efficient machine. Same exact procedure as Duriel, but this time you get experience and potential drops from the waves of minions, making him perhaps the most viable boss to run.

One important thing to note is that if you glitch Andariel on your way through the game you can run her in any game and still get the quest drop, as long as you are the one to kill her. Thus, first dropping Mephisto and Andariel is easy, fast and prevents you from going too fast and getting realm down messages. Happy Hunting.

Cheers and thanks for the input

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