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Diablo 1 Guide: Hellfire Monk

Guide by: Flux -
Diablo 1 Hellfire Monk
Diablo 1 Hellfire Monk

Inherent Skill

The Monk has inherent access to the Search skill. It works just as it does for other characters, causing items on the ground to glow and making a blue square appear where the item lies on the overlay map. The only difference is that the Monk doesn’t have to read a book or spend any mana to cast Search.
  • Tip: Casting Search several times in rapid succession will make the effect last much longer than it does from a single cast.

Stats and Attributes

A collection of useful stats and figures for the Monk.

Start Values Max Values
Max Values (Equipped) *
Diablo / Hellfire **
Life: 45
Mana: 22
Strength: 25
Magic: 15
Dexterity: 25
Vitality: 20
Life: 201
Mana: 183
Strength: 150
Magic: 80
Dexterity: 150
Vitality: 80
Life: 741
Mana: 728
Strength: 385
Magic: 315
Dexterity: 375
Vitality: 305
Armor Class: 419
To/Hit: 437
Per Level Up: ***
  • Life: +2
  • Mana: +2

Per Attribute Point:

  • 1 Vitality = 2 life
  • 1 Magic = 2 mana
  • * Not all maximum values can be achieved at once. Each value is only attainable by devoting all of your equipment to that particular attribute or statistic.
  • ** Hellfire maximum values are higher for the Rogue, Warrior, and Sorcerer since new uniques added in Hellfire make possible much higher attribute levels. The values for mana and life do not include the unique jewelry that transfers life to mana, or vice versa.
  • *** No life or mana increases are granted at level 50.

Armor Class

The Monk has an odd property in that he gains less defensive benefit from heavier armor. High AC plate will still give the Monk his highest possible defense, but he’ll gain less defense from it than any other character class in the game, and he will usually suffers an AC penalty by wearing mail. His AC with mail on will be lower than his AC without any armor at all. The net result of this is that Monks have by far the highest AC without any armor on, or in light armor, but their highest armor values are lower than those of the other classes.

  • Plate: Dex/5 + AC (items)
  • Mail: Dex/5 + AC (items) + .5 x Clvl
  • Light: Dex/5 + AC (items) + 2 x Clvl
  • No Armor: Dex/5 + AC (items) + 2 x Clvl

Unique armor modifies this slightly: Uniques count as the next lighter type of armor, so unique plate is penalized as if it were mail, unique mail as if it were light, and unique light has no penalty at all.

Monk Tactics

The monk balanced stats lead to him having about the same amount of mana and life, and he can raise his strength and dexterity to impressive levels. He’s also able to deal very high damage to three targets at once, and can clear out levels of melee monsters far more quickly than the Warrior.

On the other hand, he has the lowest armor class in the game, and his hit points are much lower than those of other combat characters. The Monk is essentially a melee style glass cannon and with his overpowered offense and very lacking defense, he’s not a very well balanced character.

Melee Combat

Defensive issues aside, on levels composed purely of melee monsters, a monk with a good staff is a titan. He’s overpowered with the weapon, able to hit three spaces at once, with very high to/hit (he has much more dexterity than the Warrior) and blinding speed. Monks can play much more aggressively than Warriors, since they can kill three monsters at once they don’t need to worry about being swarmed, and can hold positions that no warrior would dare. Simply standing along a wall and swinging diagonally to the front, any monster that comes straight on, diagonally (the way drakes do) or even to the side will be slaughtered before they can even get off a swing.

Monks are dominant on hell levels since so many of the passageways and doorways are three spaces wide. A monk can simply park himself in one of those openings, aim straight ahead, and swing constantly. He’ll grind up any melee monster that comes into range, and a bold player with a well-equipped Monk can turn whole quadrants of hell levels (D13-16) into miniature Chambers of Bone. If there are only melee monsters in the level, Monks can move into new areas, walking boldly right past the monsters and weaving around to attract as many as possible, before teleporting back to the opening. They then position themselves in the three-wide choke point and start swinging as the monsters walk into the meat grinder. Gold and items simply fly.


The other side of the coin to the Monk’s slaughtering offense is a very suspect defense. Monks have less vitality than Warriors or Barbarians, and they gain fewer hit points for each point of vitality. They also have substantial penalties to their Armor Class when wearing heavy armor, and while they can block with their staff, they lose the AC a shield provides. A fully-equipped Monk will have much lower AC than other combat characters, and less than a rogue or a Sorcerer as well.

As a result the Monk tends to feel simultaneously underpowered and overpowered. His killing speed is ridiculous, and you feel almost guilty rampaging through levels of just melee monsters. Until… something goes wrong and you die in two quick hits, or you get a level of witches and mages and find yourself stopping to heal every 3 seconds and nearly dying any time you enter a crowded, spell-filled room.

Life Leech

Monks can enjoy life leech from a helm, just like Warriors and Barbarians. It doesn’t do the monk as much good though, since he has such a shallow life pool. Life leech benefits other melee characters since their many 500+ hit points allow them to take 200 or 300 damage without risking death; points they’ll refill while killing the next few monsters. This doesn’t work for Monks, since they’ll be dead, or nearly so, after taking damage that wouldn’t worry a Warrior or Barbarian. Monks must cast heal or drink a potion after taking that much damage, or else risk death from the next hit.

As a result, though the Monk’s huge damage can yield very quick leech refills, it’s risky to play that way since the next hit will result in death. Using mana leech with mana shield active would be a good option, but there are no helms that grant mana leech, so this approach would mean forgoing haste on his staff, and that’s not a worthwhile exchange.

Monks tend to be feast or famine; full hit points and cruising, or nearly dying and desperately stabbing at their healing potions.


Monks are about as good as Rogues at using spells. They have roughly the same casting speed and mana pool, and can be effective in mini-mage mode, though they can’t approach the casting speed of a Sorcerer. Monks have substantially higher magic and mana than Warriors, and one way they can help their weak defense is to use more spells. Stone Curse ranged attackers, telekill rather than walking through incoming spells, use corners to lure witches into range, etc. Monks are far easier to do corner traps and telekilling with than Warriors, since their staffs hit three spaces at once, so they hardly even need to aim. They can even telekill multiple targets at once.

Bow Strategy

Monks are totally useless with bows. They fire slowly, and even though they can raise both their strength and dexterity over 200 with fairly common equipment, their bow damage is pathetic; far, far lower than their damage with a staff of empty-handed.

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