The Normal Set Project

Maltatai

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The customer kitten is always right. I did play a bit on Sigon earlier today, he has now smashed up Radament and gained a level. I am not at all looking forward to Fangskin but I hope Sigon can jump to the mound and not have too many guardians bombarding him.

Clueles has advanced to level 27 and after some laps of running among the shrines he has upgraded a ruby to crft himself a pair of bloody red hands he can be caught in. Nothing useful except 10% crushing blow and 2% life stealing but that was really the only thing I was afetr so a great roll. Requires level 28, which is just in time for beating up Duriel.
 

Maltatai

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Warm waves from Alice...
...who has her full set now! Ready the snowballs and prepare the north pole expeditions!

She is almost ready. Hoku Horton has got a strengthy falcata but could use an upgrade from that, preferably something with open wounds. He has the face of horror but it doesn't trigger too often it seems. Strange, for if you watch The Vicar of Dibley you will see that Hugo Horton is extremely scary. Hm. Alice is at level 72 and investing in strength points despite using light equipment. The reason is Aldurs boots which she found in a Baal run. She has replaced the Ral rune in her armor with an Ort rune to be able to drop the cold-and-lightning resistance boots currently in use. With the resistances mostly balanced out she could benefit from slightly faster speed and the life bonus from Aldurs. Lastly, just to ice the arctic cake, Alice managed to gamble a rare amulet with some resistances and teleport charges! Conquered claw viper mound, here we come!

Skill-wise, I have decided not to use ice arrow but freezing arrow, because it doesn't auto-hit like freezing arrow and therefore works badly with a mageazon. A real disappointment. Alice will still put points in ice arrow for the freeze length, though. All in all she has nine sources of cold damage so the frost does not thaw until May these days. Very convenient for Hoku and Geraldine.

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Maltatai

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Cleglaw and Hsarus are advancing steadily in nightmare but quite diferently. Cleglaw is clearing everything on /players8 while Hsarus is running through on 1 player setting to raid the tower for runes and experience. After visiting a lot of shrines Hsarus now also has a hat witht hree topazes and all in all good magic finding numbers. Hurricane is good enough but the main problem is his lack of damage reduction which means he can't stand in the middle of enemies to capitalize on hurricane. Cleglaw at level 49 and Hsarus at level 46.
 

Maltatai

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Hsarus's latest misdeeds
Since Hsarus had found a complete magic finding hat and packed above 200% I took a look at the odds of finding Hsarus' items. The numbers were not that encouraging but there are much, much worse set cases... The hardest item to find is the shield, and it is most commonly found among the first of the super unique enemies. This led to the somewhat unorthodox running targeting of Bishibosh - which I was very lucky to encounter just next to the waypoint of the Cold Plains, and on occassion Corpsefire and Bonebreaker. I decided to skip the latter quite early due to the remoteness. A great deal of bucklers dropped, and even the unique one so the strategy was evidently working. I also encountered this most aptly named shaman.

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Long past the time when this running had become boring and transcended into tiresome Hsarus reached his primary goal. I believe it took a couple of hours but I'm not quite sure. Next stop was Andariel. In contrast, Hsarus' belt dropped after just a very few runs.

Hsarus had his set!

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My next decision, after this mind--numbing grind, was one that only a hopeless veteran Diablo II player would make. I would of course hunt for a SECOND Hsarus' shield. The lack of weapon on the set unlocks a lot of very interesting potential for weapon switching. Melee/missile, weapon/wand, main weapon/weakening weapon... This took quite the time as well. After many dull moments Bishibosh matched Corpsefires generosity and gave me the second shield. Hsarus was free to play the game and hunt for much more fun things. And contrary to the grind of finding his set pieces, he would be very, very lucky with those. First, his rogue Gaile was using the Rattlecage plate. What turned up in the forgotten tower if not a scary mask to add to her dreadfulness? I was really after a Sol rune to upgrade Hsarus's weapon (Bloodrise morning star) but found some set pieces from other sets on the way...it is quite a good place for that too it would seem.

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Andariels quest drop was the worst in memory, just one rare and some gems. But the next time she more than made up for it. First, what a cool francisca. Secondly, what have we here if not the best notmal unique after Woestave? And yes, I have Cleglaws gloves too. And Bloodfist, which will be good against bosses who can't be slowed to more than 50% anyway.

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Rounding it all down, Twitchthroe! Cleglaw has that as well, and is therefore able to block things despite the puny shield. I did contemplate going for the same thing with Hsarus for the style of it (blocking with a mere buckler...) but I disliked the looks of the armor so much that I have decided against the idea. Besides, Hsarus runs around so much that blocking is a wasted investment and there will be much more prioritized bonuses to be gained from other armours.

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Now, Hsarus has risen to greatness at level 51 and is ahead of Cleglaw in nightmare Far Oasises. He still wears mostly magic finding equipment apart from his set and gameplay is very risky due to that. I am also being a bit too reckless running around close to enemies to hit them with the hurricane. Place your bets on whether the tankless caster can survive that for very long.

By the way, this is the first appearance I think of my new frames for druids and maybe assassins pictures too. Made it from part of the Horadric cube interface.
 

Maltatai

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Restles keeps searching for better bows for Annor, so he can run Baal efficiently. No luck so far but he has found a couple of nice grand charms, one with much needed lightning resistance and another with life and poison resistance.

Alice is running back and forth through early hell, now at level 73 and in the stony field. Hoku dies repeatedly, there is little I can do with an amazon and these gear restrictions. Barbarians rush so quickly into battle that they are almost impossible to keep safe with this kind of character. Fire and physical damage together with freezing has so far sufficed. I have yet to decide what to socket the bow with, ideally the countess will drop an um rune.
 

Maltatai

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Arcanna has advanced to level 29 after running rapidly through Act III to the city quarters. Her lightning spells continue to be effective enough but no set pieces have been found.

After looking in detail at the drop odds of the normal set items, especially so the amulets, I am very discouraged. I had admittedly not counted with the items being so insanely rare, especially since they are so underpowered. I am confident that hell can be beaten with any of the characters and sets, but finding them has proven to be the greater obstacle.
 

Maltatai

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@Zyr
"There is a matter which I hesitate to share," but since you brought it up yourself, you might (re)consider allowing characters within the Normal Set Project to donate required set items to characters who need them. I do understand and appreciate your commitment to untwinkedness, and it would be wrong if, for example, Snövit or Rödluvan were to contribute to the NSP. But it seems to me that completing the project prior to the heat death of the universe might be a valid reason to let team members help each other.
 

Maltatai

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@Zyr
It's a valid point and the thought has crossed my mind several times of course. After having thought it over and let the hopeless amulet odds sink in I decided to do nothing special, but simply concluded that I would likely not want to spend very much more time on this whole idea. Or, well, perhaps not exactly initially. My really initial conclusion, in typical Maltatai-manner, was that since I would obviously fail to achieve what I had set as a goal I deserve to have to cancel the entire endeavour and should probably be forced to delete the characters in question and depart in shame from the whole SPF too.

Now however I have changed my opinion somewhat and try to keep in mind that each of the characters is, or can be, an interesting character in itself and something of an achievement to guardian with the limiting gear. Actually, apart from trappers and sorceresses there aren't many untwinked guardians at all, gear restrictions or not. So, I will keep playing untwinked because that is my style and I know from past experience that anything else will ruin the gaming for me. I will also consider all characters lacking a set amulet to be a lost case. Those are more precisely six characters. I will write them off in my mind but not delete them.

Some days ago I tried out playing forward with Mimmi again and found that after shifting to an archer hireling she is...effective. The character concept basically works as intended and despite all the weak points everything has fallen into place. It was quite inspiring so I'll get back to update the thread a bit.
 

Maltatai

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Mimmis desert menacing I
In the last post Mimmi was about to enter the maggots lair and had kept to the surface of Aranoch for the most part. Now it was time to foul the sanctity of the holy places and tell the locals that their mummies belonged in a museum. The halls of the dead were surprisingly easy, with hollow ones not being particularly tough despite resisting the lightning from the traps. The returned and the sabre cats were vulnerable to trapping and kicking.

The maggot lair was complicated as usual with its twists and turns but the monsters were manageable even though the terrain made it dangerous. The scarabs are immune to lightning which is a big impediment since hteir lightning enchantment makes them unattractive to melee. They are however quite sensitive to corpse explosions so once you can fell one of them or an ally they can be seriously damaged. The best enemies were the swarms which like ghosts are easy to blast apart with traps. Coldworms lair was of course not good against a ranged attacker with area effect spells.

Despite the presence of poison-resistant undead, the lost city and the claw vipers first level was surprisingly easy. While vipers hit hard, they are quite vulnerable to lightning and poison. There weren't any guardians and skeletons either, which certainly sped up things.

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For once, I did not rush ahead and Mimmi scouted thoroughly with death sentries which hit something far away. Unfortunately they weren't effective enough and a few embalmed caught scent of Mimmi and Kundri. As they engaged those, a minion salamander suddenly slithered in from the southeast. Great... Sure enough, there was Fangskin. Cursed too. Mimmi had built up a good deal of life, about 1300, but with so little in the ways of defense I did not fancy meleeing Fangskin. Besides, kicking would knock him back so he could charge, at least I think it is enough to make vipers able to charge. There was however a gap in the salamander lines and Mimmis extreme speed could now shine. She darted between the serpents before they had time to even hiss and ran to the west corner where she portaled up to gather Kundri.

There were some more salamanders approaching and some mummies as well who threatened to surround the two in that corner. Mimmi cast death sentries and threw a few shurikens before they were in melee reange. It was tense, but she and Kundr could tank the pack until they got one down to let corpse explosions do their work. Seeing a new gap in the lines, Mimmi sprinted down to the small corner with the cage. Fangskin had not showed up, probably thanks to Kundris slowing from the Riphook couple with Mimmis running speed. Both were in the southwestern corner and in a good position to attack with traps from it, but I didn't want Fangskin to wander down and, hrm...corner them. Therefore Mimmi attacked the salamander minions now coming in from the east side and managed to fight and run her way to the mound (where vipers can't follow up the too narrow stairs...really silly)! Victory!

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Maltatai

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Mimmis desert menacing II
The palace cellar had some very dangerous pcks of mages and archers and the place was on the whole very inhospitable. Fire Eye lurked behind a random doorway and surprised me completely, leading to some very hectic and scared running across most of the level. Mimmi managed to split his pack up and take down one of them after the other, but it was tense since they appeaed in half a second to unleash their quick strikes. You do not want to be near when Fire Eye closes his lid.

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The Arcane Sanctuary was comparatively easy. Spectre packs are helpless against lightning traps and the goats are sensitive enough to them and to poisoned kicking to be manageable, as are ghoul lords. Open wounds negated their troublesome regeneration. True to her class' background, Mimmi proved very suitable to destroy the demon-crazy summoner from afar.

The canyon at last greeted with easy cats, enduring maggots and dangerous hairy goons. Tal Rashas tombs were as usual not any place I look forward to returning to. Those unraveler can withstand an entire barrage of five traps, and theya re highly resistant to anything else that Mimmi can toss at them. One single strike also infects her with their hideously overpowered poison, necessitating a trip to the town. While there are few enemies that are quick enough to catch such a fast character off guard, the boredom and grinding that the undead hordes represent is the true danger. It is easy to wish to deal quicker with that umpteenth unraveler and consequently take unnecessary risks.

It took two looong playing sessions to clear out the tombs. Somewhat wiser from past experiences, I dealt with Duriel early during the second one. The battle was a pitiful debacle nonetheless. Kundri died three times and Mimmi could neithert ank alone nor taking turns with Kundri. In retrospect I should have thrown out a lot of junk from the stash and stored rejuvenation potions instead - Mimmi is completed equipment-wise after all. At the end of the battle I got some sort of routine working. With Kundri slowing Duriel Mimmi could use her speed to stay ahead of him and cover the middle with death sentries, while the constant movement also forced Kundri to move. Still, it was very ineffective.

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True to tradition and custom, the heroes encountered a mighty scary lightning enchanted monster in the ancient halls. Yaaah! Run!

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Finally away from dried out old fossiles (read Drognan) and slimy maggots (read Jerhyn), Mimmi and Kundri can wreak havoc among the living and organically poison-sensitive minions of Mephisto. They have just made a small excursion, eager to try out Kundris jewellers armor which now instead of sol runes hold...jewels, strange as it sounds. Is that stylish or what? And also, look what an aptly named monster: the corrupted apes do indeed have horns on their spine!

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Mimmi, now at level 79 and in the Kurast Docks.
 

Maltatai

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Restles has found his set!
...and yes, it took ages. More precisely about three playing sessions and hours of running normal Mephisto and Andariel. But it was alright because I've felt rather tired and it's nice to have some braindead and safe Diablo playing for such occassions and not only shivering at the thought of hell bosses smashing the next item-restricted themed character.

Andariel dropped the sash rather early which really cheered me up. I had been running Rakanishu for a time but switched to the act bosses since they drop other interesting things too even if the odds for deaths stuff are lower.

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While the other set pieces had not been found, Restles nearly got himself a goblin toe... Grumble...

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I was alternating between Andariel and Mephisto but soon witched to almost only running Mephisto and once or twice Diablo and Baal for variety, since the path to Andariel is so long. It turned out, after resetting the map once intentionally and once accidentally, that the map I had with a short path to the lowest level of the durance also had an armor rack next to Mephisto that dropped low level items...such as leather gloves! I made a habit of always walking that way and checking the rack. And suddenly there they were!

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Now it was only the sword left. I had absolutely not expected to find the sword last of the set items. It took a great deal of time and I had time to start wondering if Mephisto could drop the item at all but eventually Restles had acquired his whole set.

On his way he had insane luck with normal Baal. All enemy leaders slowed to a slugs place - check. Useful mercenary with the sense to stay behind the army of tanking melee minions - check. And if someone wondered how it will go before any summons are summoned, it works like charm. Restles can tank with the enemy decrepified and with a Nef rune and Riphooks speed Diane can keep a few enemies at bay herself.

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Since the skeletons are so eager to follow and keep their necromancer guarded I don't know if telekinesis will help a lot when popping urns, but I guess you can at least stand next to a wall or sometimes a corner to avoid flank attacks.

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Now time for hell and yawning vacations of leisurely play. Restles has a fully built army of skeletons and mages after all. Diane and poison mages stop monster regeneration. Dianes other equipment isn't too good though; Twitchthroe and Duskdeep. Decent items but she could do much better. Maybe they will find a Lem, Um or Pul rune in hell, which all would make a decisive difference.

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Maltatai

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Restles has advanced through half of Act I with little difficulty except for the tower where the terrain hinders the army from time to time. Of course, with a ranged hireling and the mages, doorways can be bottlenecks that benefit him as well but it is not really needed at this time. I had considered levelling in the tower to maybe find some nice rune for Diane but decided to move on.

Now at level 75 at the Outer Cloister.
 

Maltatai

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Nokoz has completed normal and he is the luckiest character of them all!
Not only has he found his revultingly rare cap, he also stumbled on his belt!

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I have dropped the player setting for him, which turned out to be the right decision. He depends so much on his mercenary for killing speed so like the melee characters his progress will be much determined by what nasty sharp things he can steal from act bosses. Onward to nightmare Andariel to try out the fire golem against a sensitive opponent! Now at elvel 44 and with good hopes of completing the set. The wand is not the most common but the odds are not catastrophic.

Now he is at level 44
 

Maltatai

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Isenhart has rescued Cain and reached the black marsh. The tower is practically next to the waypoint but I am unsure about how they will fare down there. I thinkit will be too dangerous to hunt repeatedly for runes. Hope she drops a Pul on the first try...

Isenhart, level 73 now and with 29% chance to convert enemies.
 

Maltatai

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Restles has reached the Inner Cloister now.
Still level 75 and no particular difficulties so far. The smith was hilarious with decrepify, Dianes slowing and the cold mages chilling. I can absolutely never understand how some people can dismiss the mages outright in the way I have read. They are supremely useful in combination with the melee skeletons. Last but not least Restles found another of his sword! This opens up the option of weapon switching for him. As a reserve he is now wearing a rhyming unravelers head with +3 to attract. It is very valuable to be able to raise the lightning and cold resistances in case of suddend anger, and attract is useful as crowd control but also since it..attracts...monster from far away. And why is that important? Without a large mana pool it becomes tedious to raise the revived army again and again. It is much, much better if you can lue as many monsters as possible to the location where your army stands ready, and perhaps where the terrain favours you. Confuse and bone walls serve the same purpose.

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Maltatai

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Restles has made it to Act II. Andariel could tear apart skeletons with ease...in due time. Slowed by Riphook, decrepify and cold mages, few enemies are a match for Restles' army. Unfortunately outrageous heaps of enemies are a match for his army when they have ressurrecting greater mummies in command and a bottleneck of a door working for them. If they instead have to come through the door, it is easy. Restles' investment in damage reduction (Iron pelt and ruby amulet of life everlasting) means that he can afford to sprint through enemy formations to lead his army to a critical spot to attack or open a town portal to summon them.

Now at level 77 and the Halls of the Dead waypoint. Boring and tedious place. What kind of people would willingly surround themselves with undead skeletons freely?
 

Maltatai

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Imagine that indeed...

Another, more unrestricted, necromancer of mine got a rare circlet with teleport charges from hell Diablo recently. It will be quite the game changer against ancients and so, since he focuses on revives. But it was well earned, for the battle was the scariest in years and took two hours.