MMAgCh's Barbarian Guide

MMAgCh's Guide to Barbarians
by MMAgCh version 1.2

OR: War, Death and Total Mayhem

Well, what to say? Here, you'll find pretty much everything about the Barbarian, my favourite character class, which is only available in Hellfire, though. :(

Anyway...enjoy your stay, and have a very save and productive day! (translation: don't get killed yourself yet wreak havoc!)


I) Acknowledgements
II) General Remarks
III) Version info
IV) Technical facts about the Barbarian
     a) Very Technical Facts (How to make him work)
     b) The Stats
V) Gameplay Issues
     a) Examining the Barbarian
     b) Equipment
     c) Tactics
     d) Spells
     e) Items/Effects worth to be mentioned separately
     f) A Barbarian's career
     g) General remarks
     h) Helm of Sprits
     i) Beating Boss Baddies
     j) Barbarian Archer?
     k) Item Recovery
VI) Important resources
VII) The End

I) Acknowledgements

I'd like to thank a few people:

Jaurlf [fat grin] got the joke didya? don't hit me...NO! [smack]) for his guide from which I C&P'ed all formulas and quite some other stuff as well

Braedon because he managed to light the Hellfire in me once again >)

HowGozit for being my friendly, unofficial assistant ;)

Everybody who's nitted the guide, brought comments along or just said it's nice. :)

Oh, and you can't say "this belongs to the Hellfire forum"...after all you got to have a Diablo CD spinnin' in yer drive! :P

II) General Remarks

In case you're not familiar with them, the abbreviations used in this guide are:

AC = Armor Class
clvl = Character Level

dlvl = Dungeon Level

Str = Strength
Mag = Magic
Dex = Dexterity
Vit = Vitality
hp/HP = Hit Points
Life = Hit Points too
SP = Single Player (mode)
MP = Multi Player (mode)
XP = Experience Points
Stats = a) the player's attributes (Str, Mag, Dex, Vit)
           b) an item's magical effects

Also, any time periods given (like, attack speed of 0.30) are given in seconds.

III) – Version Info

"Beta Version" – pre 10/27/99
Version 1.0, posted on the DSF 10/28/99
Version 1.1 What has changed?
                 - of course Winged fiends can't drop items (chapter Vh)
                 - added Moriah's combat calculator to links (chapter VI)
                 - new subchapter "Barbarian Archer?" (chapter Vj)
                 - lots of corrections and additions all over the guide (OMG, I sound like Jarulf...!)
                 - yet another subchapter: "Item Recovery" (chapter Vk)
                 - added dream setups to chapter Vb
Version 1.2
                 -  added (sad) discovery about RoE
                 -  a few minor changes

IV) - Technical facts about the Barbarian

a) Very Technical Facts (How to make him work)

The Barbarian, being a hidden character in Hellfire, is only available after you upgraded to the 1.01 patch. To have him work, place a text file called "command.txt" in your hellfire directory. The file must include this (without the quotes: "barbariantest" Basically, that's it. I recommend it includes this (w/o quotes): "bardtestbarbariantestmultitestcowquesttheoquestnestart" If you wish, you can separate the words (bardtest, barbariantest, multitest, cowquest, theoquest, nestart) by semicolons ( ; <== those nifty-nice thingies), but it is not necessary.

This way, you get the Bard and the Barbarian character, the Theodore-quest and the Cow-Quest. "nestart" just sets a certain palette when playing the Hive and doesn't affect gameplay. The multiplayer option is deactivated in the 1.01 patch; you need a hacked hellfrui.dll in order to reactivate it. V&K's HF-Mod includes such a hacked file; it can be downloaded at . It also includes the command.txt , so you needn't do it yourself (in case you're lazy). If you did everything right, you should be able to create a hero using the Barbarian character class. Go for it!

b) The Stats

Let's go on to the not-so-technical facts. Like, the Barbarian's stats (taken from JG's):

Stat  Starting       Max
        Value      Value
Str         40       255
Mag          0         0
Dex         20        55
Vit         25       150

The Barbarian gets 2 hit points each level-up, along with 1% resist all. He gets NO mana, so his max mana is always as high as his magic stat (like the warrior, he gets 1 mana point for each magic point).

Now let's examine each of the stats separately.

Strength is only of semi-importance for the Barbarian. While its max value is a tiny bit higher than the warrior's (war: 250, bar: 255), vitality is more important until late in his career. Check chapter V for "good" distribution of points.

Magic starts at zero and goes gold at zero. Period. As I already said, this means the Barbarian's max mana is always as high as his magic stat. That also means he sucks at magic, plain and simple. His spell casting speed is 0.70, that's as slow as the warrior. So, unless you want to spend your time on collecting reading glasses (and to find out your casting capability is still bad), forget about it.

Dexterity is very important in the beginning. Max 55 means your ToHit% without any assistance by magical or unique items sucks just as bad. You won't get much AC out of it either. So, should a Barbarian go for perfection/+tohit% items? We'll see...

Vitality. Now that's something to live for. You get 2 hp for each vit point AND it increases your damage. Note this damage increase only applies when you're NOT using a shield/staff. You do more melee damage when using an axe/club than with other weapons (say: swords). See chapter V for more info.

The Barbarian's starting skill is "Rage", and it works this way (taken from JG's):
1. For 12 seconds it adds: 2*clvl to Strength and Vitality and 1.5*clvl to Dexterity.
2. For 12 more seconds, during a lethargy phase, it decreases Strength, Dexterity and Vitality by the same amount (counted from normal values).
3. Afterwards you lose 2*Vit life. There is a bug however so if you click on any item in your inventory your life is restored.

For infos about how to use this skill in the right situations, see chapter V.

V) - Gameplay Issues

a) Examining the Barbarian

If you don't like melee, forget about playing the Barbarian. It's safe to say he sucks at anything but melee. His damage and firing speed with the bow is horrible, and so is his spell casting speed. Of course, the Barbarian can get all spells to L15, thanks to the Enchanted shrine, but the main problem is, his mana will always be very low. He would have to wear only +magic items. When taking into account only non-unique items, his max mana would be around 165. To that, you add any +mana prefixes. But remember, you're sacrificing pretty much everything for that; no Zodiac suffix, no haste on your weapons...AND, you can't wear an axe that way, since you need sword + shield for magic (sword of sorcery, +20 MAG, shield of brilliance, +15 MAG). Ok, you're still capable of wielding a club, but remember, your "no-shield"-bonus doesn't count then.

When relying on +all suffixes, you'd have a total of 104 MAG and mana. Even less, eh?

The Barbarian is the exact opposite of the Sorcerer. While the mage doesn't need to care about melee because his immense magical abilities blow anything away, the Barbarian kicks serious demon butt with his axe without ever casting one single spell. Want to see the damage capabilities of a Barbarian? Here ya go! (Attention, formulae! ... and I *do* know MMs rock at melee combat too, but Barbarians are better IM(H)O )

The Barbarian's melee damage when using an axe/club is Str * clvl / 75, the bonus for "no-shield" is Vit * clvl / 100. That means, a naked L50 barbarian with maxed Str and Vit does the following melee damage: 255 * 50 / 75 = 170 ; to that, we add the "no-shield" bonus: 150 * 50 / 100 = 75 ; so his total melee damage is 170 + 75 = 245 WITHOUT the axe yet.

Just imagine a Great Axe with +150% Damage (that's about the worst case of a King's Axe; King's +damage% starts at +151%)...base damage is 12-30; with the damage adder, you get 30-75 add your 245 points of raw melee damage, maybe "haste" it, and...voilá, a killing machine! Which you should expect when being L50, of course(?). By the way, the melee damage for a Barbarian NOT using an axe/club is Str * clvl / 100. That means he's as effective as a Warrior when hurting things, but less effective at blocking (due to lower dex).

While we're at weapon speeds, the Barbarian's swinging speed with axe/club is 0.40 without modified swinging speed, 0.35 with "of Swiftness" and 0.30 with "of Speed/Haste". He's always 0.05 slower with swords. Attack speed with bows is 0.55. (note that 'of swiftness' increases the arrow flying speed in HF, *not* the speed with which you fire the bow) Spells are 0.70, bare hands 0.45. As you can see, the Barbarian is 0.05 faster with a "hasted" axe/club than a warrior with a hasted sword/club.

Taking damage (or, better said, having enough hitpoints to do so) is also something the Barbarian is good at. His life is calculated with this formula: 18 + 2*Vit(Character) + 2.5*Vit(Items) + 2*clvl. So, taking our naked, maxed out L50-Barbarian: 18 + 2*150 + 2*50. Brings us to 418 Life. If all of your items would be adding 10 to vitality, you could add 7 * (2.5 * 10) = 175 points to that, so you've got 593 hit points. Not too bad, eh? The maximal possible amount of hit points is 1091, almost as much as a sorceror's maximal mana points (1216, 1196 in Diablo).

But as I said, dexterity is one of the Barbarian's weak spots. +Dex/+ToHit% items are very important. As someone once said, "what's the point of doing incredible damage when you don't hit anything?". But do not fear, it's really not that difficult to get a good ToHit%. A naked L50-Barbarian's ToHit% (given he has maxed Dex) is 127.5%. To that, you add any +tohit% adders from items. As you see, it's not that difficult to get 200% ToHit, you only need a good axe (preferably King's or Strange/Weird).

If you want to calculate your very own, personal ToHit%, the formula is 50 + Dex/2 + clvl + ToHit% from items. Also remember that all monsters (in Hellfire only) which have more than 127 AC get this AC cut due to a bug, so a very high to-hit% is not really necessary anyway.

AC...yep, you need AC. Taking our L50-Barbarian-With-Maxed-Stats again, his AC when naked is 23.5. That's it. Not much, and that's why you need good items. The formula for your AC is Dex/5 + clvl/4 + AC from items. Note that shields only give half AC (rounded up). Also note that, unlike all other characters (except for the Monk), the Barbarian gets an AC bonus (clvl/4), which can lead to 12.5 additional AC when L50. Not much, but interesting. You should be able to reach around 250 AC with good items (and that's without shield). Of course, if you kill your enemies before they can hit you, who needs AC? Keep that point in mind. It's most important for any Barbarian.

The Barbarian's hit recovery...he's got built-in "of Stability" (0.20) when using axe/club, unless he's got an item "of Harmony" (0.10). His recovery time when naked/using no axe/club is 0.30 (unless you've got an item that affects hit recovery, of course).

Also, the Barbarian has the ability to score a critical hit, just like the warrior does; the chance for doing so is clvl%, and the effect is doubled damage. Don't rely on it,'s that kind of "nice, but I can do without it" effect.

The Barbarian needs only one hand for two-handed swords, great swords and mauls, so he can equip a shield at the same time; this is still not a good idea (remember the "no-shield"-bonus or, better yet, the "shield"-penalty"?). As long as he's using axes, two-handed swords or mauls (without shield in the last two cases), he can hit up to three enemies at once (the three guys in front of him); that's called quarter damage.

Quarter damage, also referred to as sweep attack...see below for a small diagram. It is basically a penalty, because:

1) The ToHit% you get from the formula further down is subtracted from your actual character ToHit%, this ToHit% is then applied to the targets which are affected by the sweep attack
2) Damage for sweep attack is 1/4th of your normal damage. However, to me it seems this isn't working.

The quarter damage ToHit penalty is 70 - 2*clvl, with a minimum ToHit%-penalty of 30% (so it is "neutralized" at clvl 20). That's still not much, and you will find you hit all three guys in most cases (unless there are only two). That check is applied to the two squares to the left and to the right of the square you attack (left and right from your Barbarian's point of view). The Monk (when wielding a staff) and the Bard (when wielding two weapons at the same time) can deal out quarter damage too. It doesn't matter if your target square (M in the diagram) is occupied by a valid target; the quarter damage ToHit-check is always done, so it can sometimes be more effective to swing at an empty square (remember, your SHIFT key...) when the squares to your left and right are occupied by enemies.

            CMC Î
             Y  I

C = The squares for which the quarter damage ToHit-check is done
M = The square for which the standard ToHit-check is done
Y = You!
I = The direction you're facing

Note that, while you can hit monsters moving into square M, that does NOT apply to monsters moving to C-squares. Keep the strongest monsters always in M (or on the way there) so you can knock them back (almost) to your heart's content.

You could basically say the Barbarian is an enhanced warrior; he's got the same blocking speed, same damage formulas and so on. Only main differences are: he swings a bit slower with swords and a bit faster with axes, and he gets big bonuses for using axes/clubs and for not using a shield. He will have more trouble with blocking as his dexterity is lower. So, go for the axe!

b) Equipment

Of course, the preferred items for your Barbarian depend on what style of play you have. In case you go after melee only (my way), you can safely ignore +mag items and go after +dex, +vit and +all items. If you want to try and go with magic, +mag and +all stuff is your choice. For now, let's assume you got the melee way of life. And when talking about melee, we have to start with your weapon. Instead of discussing all possible effects, I'll just give you a selection of choices and explain why they are so good (or not). When I list non-unique items, of course you should try to get the best base item (Great Axe, Full Plate Mail etc.) as well as best prefix/suffix (Lord's Axe of Speed is of course also nice, but King's Axe of Haste is nicer ); what I give here are mostly "dream items".

- King's Axe of Haste ; not much to say here, eh? Gives ToHit%, does MUCH damage and deals it at an incredible speed.
- King's Axe of the Heavens ; no haste, but nice increase in damage, hit points, tohit% and magic/mana due to suffix.
- King's Axe of Blood/Vampires ; recover life or mana to your heart's content. Need I say more? ;)
- Axe of Devastation ; well...+200% *total* damage on occasion...need I say more? There's no real +ToHit%-adder available on such an axe, tho (only "bronze" – up to +5%...wooow!)
- Jester's Axe ; sometimes 0 damage...sometimes six times the damage...average is two times the damage (and, always total damage). Any good Barbarian can deal 900 points o' damage with a single blow, but again, no +ToHit%. Does not work against Diablo or unique monsters.
- Axe of Peril ; double total damage to monsters, weapon and character damage to you...masochist's axe.
- Messerschmidt's Reaver ; if you don't care about -50 hp and got enough +ToHit% on your jewelry, go on. This one's a bomb.
- BloodSlayer ; see Ring of Engagement (chapter Ve) for an explanation why this one could rock hell.
- The Butcher's Cleaver ; nice for any low-level barbarian. (SP only)
- The Cranium Basher ; yep, this is no axe, but the Barbarian is good with both axes AND clubs (blunt weapons). Just use no shield, and you've got a tool of destruction very similar to Messerschmidt's Reaver.
- Civerb's Cudgel: would be nice if it wasn't for the fact there's a ToHit%-penalty here. Is equivalent to BloodSlayer in all other ways, tho. Just don't use a shield.

I bought a King's Great Axe of Haste at Griswold...costs over 180000, so you gotta have the Auric Amulet (turn the Cow Quest off for this one) in order to carry enough gold. But you'll LOVE it!

As for helms:

- Godly Helm of the Whale ; try and get one from Wirt, as it boosts both your AC and HP.
- The Undead Crown ; you can actually recover life faster than you lose it with this one. Has low AC, tho. (SP only)
- Helm of Sprits ; MP replacement for the Undead Crown. Pretty much the same advantages and disadvantages.
- Veil of Steel ; very nice. +50% Resist All, +15 Str and Vit, -20% Light Radius, nice AC (29). Negative 30 Mana is unimportant. SP only.
- Royal Circlet ; may also be interesting; nice AC too, +10 all; +40 mana shouldn't interest you much either, +10% Light Radius can be annoying on witch levels. This helm is the best one for tele-killing, though.
- Gotterdamerung: unID'd if possible, provides you with 60 AC; that's almost impossible to top. If ID'd, still nice on melee-only levels.

My Barbarian switched to Veil of Steel recently; he still doesn't need to pop many potions on a level. Only exception: any level with mages. If it's all melee, a belt full of big reds is sufficient. As soon as magic attacks are used, it takes advanced tactics to keep potion usage reasonable.


- Holy FPM ; probably your best choice, AC-wise; Wirt sells those, and they're not even too expensive. Godly FPMs are possible too, but have fun getting one. ;) You could also go for a „worse" +AC% prefix, like Saintly or Awesome, and get a suffix on the plate; preferably Stars, Precision, Lion and all other +attribute(s)/+HP suffixes.
- Bovine Plate ; may look nice at first, but the only real advantage are +30% Resist All; AC 150 isn't much, any good Saintly FPM easily beats that, and +50% LR is a real bitch on just about any level. The decreases in mana/spells shouldn't interest you at all. May be useful until clvl 25; you should have at least Saintly FPM then (which is better in terms of AC; and that's more important than resists)
- Armor of Gloom ; if you ever manage to find this one, melee levels are no problem. Is as good as a perfect Godly FPM. Don't identify it, else its "all resists = zero"-effect applies. Remove it from your inventory before touching a cauldron/goat shrine, since it may be a Glimmering Shrine the game chooses. And, of course, enjoy its awesome GFX! (SP only – the armor, not only the GFX)

I got that Holy FPM (base 75, +151%...prefix is bad. Compared to a perfect Holy FPM, you lose about 13 AC)


Your personal decision. Along with 1% resist all per clvl, one perfect Obsidian Amulet/Ring does the job from clvl ~30 on. Remember, ToHit% (and thus Dexterity) along with vitality are most important. If you have to choose between a perfect ring of Life and a perfect ring of the Lion, use the "Life"-ring; not only does it give you the same amount of hit points, but it also boosts your damage. My Barbarian uses a Dragon's Amulet of the Zodiac and two plain Zod rings. Karik's Ring, along with Ring of Engagement, would be very nice here; check chapter Ve for more info.

Now, for those who like to hear about dream setups, here are some.

Compact AllRound Dream-Setup (mind you, dream setup!):

- Helm of Sprits (or maybe Undead Crown)
- King's Axe of Haste
- Godly FPM
- Obsidian Jewel of the Zodiac
- Dragon's Jewel of the Zodiac x2

This gives you, for a L35 Barbarian, around 275 average melee damage (and 35% chance of doubling that...!), fastest attack, 180% ToHit (if the axe is perfect), stealing about 15 HPs per hit (can be doubled due to critical hit), full resists (note that there is, for jewelry, NO useful prefix except for +resist/+mana, so I go with Dragon's here), 180 mana (for telekilling; healing is kind of pointless with this setup) and 538 life. For an experienced player, this is enough to do hell/hell without ever going back to town. I'd call this the most balanced setup; it leaves you short of nothing and gives you everything, so it is a true DREAM setup. Note that, with a L40 or higher Barbarian, your damage increases even MORE; at high levels, this setup is simply devastating. None of my Barbarians have got such a setup,'s a D-R-E-A-M setup, mind you again!

Another option would be to replace the Godly FPM with an Obsidian Plate of Vigor, therefore freeing up the Obs/Zod to be a Dragon/Zod, for even more mana (telekill!) AND adding some more damage and life (==> vigor suffix on plate), but your AC would be zero in hell/hell. Only recommended for very experienced players who are good at playing LAWs (without blocking, of course).

In SP, you could also replace the Helm of Sprits with the Undead Crown.

Compact Killer Dream-Setup (all damage):

- Royal Circlet (in single player: Veil of Steel)
- Messerschmidt's Reaver
- Obsidian Plate of Vigor
- any Jewel of the Zodiac x3

Melee damage here is approx. 287-341 with the Royal Circlet and even a bit more with the VoS. You still have full resists, but no real ToHit% adder (although the three Zods and the RC do increase Dex and therefor also ToHit%). You're left with 98% ToHit here, and that's not much. But IF you do hit, it WILL hurt. All regular singleplayer monsters won't need more than three hits from this one, even on hell...on the other hand, you could replace Messerschmidt's Reaver with BloodSlayer for even more damage vs. demons...try it!

Compact SinglePlayer Dream-Setup:

- Veil of Steel
- King's Axe of Haste
- Armor of Gloom (unid'd)
- Karik's Ring x2
- Dragon's Amulet of the Zodiac

Not much to say here. Lots of damage, good resists, high HPs, high AC...simply nice.

c) Tactics

The first thing you should do when arriving on a level, find out which kind of enemies inhabit it. An Infravision scroll can be nice there. Once you know what to expect (all melee, mixed melee/ranged, all ranged), plan your further steps. If it's all melee, no big deal. If your equipment's good (mainly AC and ToHit%, damage is usually no problem), go ahead and charge right into the bad boys. They won't live long enough to deal out much damage, unlike you. Make use of your quarter hit effect, it's more effective than attacking the monsters separately. If you find yourself overwhelmed, retreat a few steps and deliver mayhem while your foes are still busy walking up to you. Likewise, any other choke points (doors!) are very nice to decimate your enemies one after the other. Drink potions as needed (belt should always be filled with full reds); in case you're wearing the Undead Crown, Helm of Sprits or any Leech/Blood weapon, you shouldn't need many potions at all. If you're a skilled player, you don't even need any life-stealing stuff. Good melee tactics and good "Happy Feet"-skills are your main way to not using many potions.

You've got ranged attackers as well? Now it depends on whether they're "dumb" (skeleton archers; don't follow you when you leave line of sight to them) or "smart" (pretty much all other ranged attackers, including, but not limited to goat archers, witches, psychorbs and so on). When you're up to "dumb" enemies, it may be wise to first attract the melee attackers' attention, lure them to a safe place where you can't be hit by the arrows, then take care of them. With the infantry out of the way, go for the artillery! Since they're dumb, they won't run away in most cases, even if you stand right next to them, so it should be no big problem to depose of them. Oh: approach using the „happy feet"-technique, it'll reduce the damage you take (if you're lucky and good).

But when the ranged attackers follow you, well, I'd still suggest to get rid of the melee enemies first. After that, when it's just you and the artillery, you're going to have to use some small tactics in order to get rid of them. First, there's the cornering method. It's one of the most popular ones out there. It works like this:


I and - = Walls
M        = Monster
G        = The square you should be standing in
b        = The squares you should NOT be standing in since the enemy can/will run away.

You just need to make sure the monster's standing in the corner and you're in front of it, not to the left or right. The pictures' b characters show you where NOT to stand. G is fine. Cornering is also a nice opportunity to deal some quarter damage (like when both the M and the two b's are occupied by monsters).

Another one is "bring them round the corner", as I call it. (Some people call this one "cornering" too, and others call it "Peekaboo"; it doesn't matter as long as you know WHAT you are talking about) It's a tiny bit more difficult and requires good timing, but effective too. Here it is:

        L   ~Y

I and - = Walls
M        = Monster
V        = Direction monster runs
Y        = You
~        = Direction you run
O        = Obstacle, if you're lucky
L        = Monster, lined up with you, having a free line of fire

Basically, you hide behind a corner, and the monster runs up to you along the wall. You walk up to the corner as well, and ideally you end up in the "~" and the monster ends up in the "V" at the same time. Now hack away; hopefully you kill your foe immediately or keep him/she/it in stunlock until he/she/it dies. You may want to practice this technique with unique monsters (L15 is nice; Blackjade, Red Vex and Bloodlust make excellent, umm, training partners) first; their "glow" will help you to learn the right timing. Note that you can pull off this stunt also with doors; in that case, V is the doorway. The rest is similar, except the other monsters can't hit you as easily through the door. If you're so lucky as to have an obstacle one square away from the corner (as shown in the picture with the letter O), it will protect you from being hit by other monsters (unless they line up with you and get a free line of fire, as shown in the picture with the letter L). A spike can replace the corner too; step behind it. As soon as the witch finds out she can't hit you because the spike (and the poor, dead lad on it) deflects her blood stars, she'll close in and veer around the spike to get a line of fire. That's when you hit! Timing is tight here, tho. Note: it seems the obstacle needn't be capable of "blocking" blood stars/fireballs/etc.

Also take into consideration the "up against the wall" trick:

1.    ---------------
        /    Π   \
       /     M     \
      /      Y      \

2.    ---------------
              M <=== monster tries to run
               Y <=== you can hit it because it's in adjacent square

3.    ---------------
           M <=== monster runs along the
             Y <=== you're "too late"

4.    ---------------
         M <=== there it goes
          H Y <== go on chasing

- = Wall
M = Monster
Y = You
Î = The direction you're walking
/ = At which angle you should not be walking
\ = At which angle you should not be walking
H = The square in which you should have been (fig. 4)

For this to work, you need to be close up to the monster (one square is already too far away) and you need to walk straight up to the wall (figure 1). Walking in diagonal angles CAN work at times, but NOT always. The following happens when you do it right: the monster runs up into the wall and then turns left or right (sometimes it just stops and fires at you, which makes it even easier for you), but by the time it walking along the wall, you'll be one square away from the wall and have the baddy in one of your adjacent squares, as shown in figure 2. In figure 3 and 4, you see what would happen if you were two squares away from the monster you chase instead of one square. However, you can go on chasing it down the wall and may be able to corner it.

Note that those tactics are only really necessary for the more intelligent ranged attackers (in most cases, stronger subtypes are also smarter; e.g. a Soul Burner will never stop while running away from you. A simple Succubus will stop often and shouldn't prove to be a problem). I don't think it's really necessary to say you should not have yourself guided down into unknown territory by some friendly Soul Burner, or you'll get in touch with the bad guys'n'gals lurking there...

Of course, you should avoid chasing enemies further down into unknown territory; you could activate more foes than you can handle. Also be careful with your light radius; if possible, it should be = 0 or even negative (if that is the case, use Infravision scrolls) so you don't get fired at without knowing who exactly is doing so, because the arrows/blood stars/whatever are coming from off-screen. Especially if your resistances are not so high yet (<50 IMO), advance slowly and lure activated ranged attackers back into known territory.

Against melee monsters...that's not much of a deal. Just remember you can't block with an axe, so make sure they are dead before they have the CHANCE of hitting you. To stress it again: make sure YOU are the one to do the "Erstschlag", the first strike, and the melee world is yours.

Then again, charging into melee monster mobs and clearing them in a few seconds can be fun, just don't do it without enough AC. ;)

d) Spells

Yes, I know I said Barbarians suck with spells and can't even learn most without extensive reading glasses, but then again, some spells are for free. Yes, they are. All scrolls without magic requirement are free, to be exact:

- Identify
- Town Portal
- Healing
- Search
- Lightning
- Mana Shield (I always forget this one...shouldn't matter to you much, tho)

The following spells are free too, as they exist on unique staves (and those never have magic requirements). I added some comments to each as well:

- Golem (Rod of Onan)...a Barbarian's golem will almost always suck, because its HP, damage and other factors are being affected by the caster's max mana, and...take a guess. Its other effects are not bad (+5 to all Attributes, +100% Damage, meaning the staff alone does about 20-35 damage when counting in +5 all), but still not useful enough, seeing as how the axe should be the Barbarian's primary use for this: let Mr. Golem distract ranged attackers.

- Guardian (Mindcry)...this spell can occasionally be useful to clean out rooms. The staff has kind of many charges (69), as well as useful magical effects (+15 Magic, +15% Res All, All Spells +1 Level), in case you decide to make a slow-as-hell-turtle mage out of him.

- Healing (The Protector)...86 charges. Keeps you from touching your belt for a LONG time, as long as you don't need to replenish your hit points in mid-battle. AC 40 is also nice, and even +5 Vit is not bad. Staves should never be a Barbarian's main weapon, tho.

- Lightning (Thundercall)...76 charges, maybe, but simple lightning brings you nowhere, especially on deeper levels (hell on NM/hell diff).

- Phasing (Gleamsong)...hmm, if you want to use spells to move, better go with Naj's Puzzler. Gleamsong's other effects are Barbarian-hostile anyway (+25 mana, -3 Str, -3 Vit)

- Teleport (Naj's Puzzler)...allows you to teleport around 57 times before you need to recharge it. Its other effects are not so nice, tho. (+10 Dex, not much. +20 Mag, who cares? -25 Life, bah! +20% Res All is not that bad.)

Summa summarum, only the Protector and maybe Mindcry/Naj's Puzzler are something you would maybe like to have in your inventory. Note: the Protector is NOT a club, it just looks like a club. It is still a Short Staff.

Of course, even a Barbarian can get all spells to max level. Just make sure you know every spell with at least level 1, and then go'n'hunt Enchanted shrines. In my opinion, you don't need such high level spells, just because...well, you don't need 'em. You want to crush your enemies' bones and tear their flesh apart with your mighty axe, not scorch them with puny spells! But if you happen to play hell/church for XP/HoS, go on and hit those Enchanted Shrines... :-)

And while we are at L15 spells, you can get Holy-, Charged- and Firebolt to L15 sans problems. Yep, it's time for the evil shrines! Fascinating, Sacred and Ornate Shrines, to be exact. Go ahead and touch them, it won't matter to you! Those shrines decrease your base mana. But what is your base mana? Yep, the mana gained by your magic just remove all items that add to magic/mana after you touched such a shrine and re-equip them. Voilá, you gained two levels for that certain spell and still have the same mana count. Nice, eh? Thanks to Moriah for pointing that out on the DSF. (Personal Note, I touched such a shrine with my Barbarian and it seems like I didn't get any mana decrease at all...but oh well. In case you DO get your mana reduced, just do as Moriah said and you're fine) It seems that Mysterious Shrines work in a different way, tho. They DO reduce your base mana even if it IS zero. I don't know how they can do that; even "take off all +mag items and re-equip" doesn't work, your mana STAYS lowered.

Last but not least, you CAN telekill with a Barbarian. What you need is enough magic to read a Book of Teleport (req. 105 Mag; reading glasses!!) and after that, go hunting Enchanted Shrines. You only need to get Teleport to slvl 8; you have reached its minimum mana cost (15) then. After that, your equipment should provide you with as much magic (and therefore mana) as possible. A Royal Circlet would thus be a nice helm. Remember, it is really only optional to try and don't really need it. It can speed up things, that's it. King's Axe of Vampires, anyone?

Healing is of course nice for a Barbarian too...and you'll find that you have enough mana to cast it once or twice per big blue potion. Effective? I guess every player has to judge that on his/her own...but why not have a belt o' Full Rejuvs?

e) Items/Effects worth to be mentioned separately

Here, I'd like to point out a few items that you may want to know about, just because they are interesting (or not) for Barbarians.

- Amulet of Warding: Amulet, qlvl 12. Stats: -100 Life, +40% Resist All. This is really NO secondary option to any resists item, and if you find yourself using this much, get some good gear *fast* (that means Laz-Runs...I hear Charles W. turn away)

- Auric Amulet: Amulet, qlvl n/a. You get it as reward for solving the "Farmer's Orchard"-quest. It allows you to carry 10000 gold in one slot instead of 5000. Just as crappy as the Amulet of Warding, you say? That's what I thought too, until Griswold offered me that King's Great Axe of Haste for about 185000. Problem is, you can't fit as much gold into your inventory. You can carry only up to 170000 while still being able to buy an item that takes up six slots (armor, axes, etc.). This is most likely a design flaw, I think. The game checks for the required inventory place to put the item in BEFORE it takes your gold, not afterwards. Anyway, with the Auric Amulet, you can carry the double amount of gold (340000) in your inventory and still have enough room for any big item. So: get this one. Of course, you shouldn't wear it in the dungeon, especially not in combat, but it's nice when you plan to do some hours of shopping. Just blaze through hell/church. No big deal, but you won't want to have that axe offered to you and you can't afford it because you have got that gold problem...

- Bashing, of: qlvl 17. This effect and its "brethren" (of piercing/puncturing, qlvl 1/9) are way more useful in Hellfire than they are in Diablo. In the original game by Blizzard, they add 8-24 (piercing: 2-6, puncturing: 4-12) to ToHit%. That's not much. In the add-on however, they decrease any target's AC (not against players) by 75% (piercing: 25%, puncturing: 50%). And, if those effects are used by a Barbarian, you can add 12.5% to the percentage. So an axe of bashing can be very efficient in the hands of any Barbarian, as it decreases your targets' AC by 87.5% . Now, get a nice prefix for that axe (Savage should be possible; Massive IS possible) and you are ready for slaying dudes. Check the Ring of Engagement in this chapter for other useful information on the "penetrates/damages target's AC"-effect.

- BloodSlayer: Broad Axe, qlvl 3, can only be found on nightmare/hell diff in church (maybe catacombs.) Stats: -5 to all attributes, +100% Damage (raising its raw damage to 16-40), +200% Damage vs. Demons, all spells are decreased one level. Now what is so nice about this baby? Well, you certainly know the "+200% Dam. vs. Demons"-effect affects your total character damage. That means, your total damage against any demons is TRIPLED. Any high-level (about L35) Barbarian can do about 400 points of damage against demons with this axe. Amazing, eh? Only problem is, the BloodSlayer doesn't have any +ToHit%-modifier. Even worse, it reduces ToHit% a bit (-5 all, thus -5 dex). So you say now, "why use this when I don't hit", right? Well, check the Ring of Engagement a bit further down to see why this axe could be so great. Or of course, arm yourself with +tohit%/+dex items and go hunt some demons. The advantage of this axe over Civerb's Cudgel is, since it's an axe, you needn't fear dogs because axes hurt all kinds of critters the same (while CC, being a mace, scores 1.5x the damage against Undead, but only 0.5x against animals...dogs are animals...wasn't that one obvious).

- Bovine Plate: n/a, n/a. Stats: AC 150, indestructible, +50% Light Radius, +30% Resist All, all spells reduced by two levels, -50 Mana. Looks nice, doesn't it? Big AC, resists, and, as usual, we Barbarians don't care 'bout those freakin' magic penalties. So why don't you wear it? First of all, you can. Second, don't ID it. You'll like the resists, you'll like the AC, you'll probably also like the fact it's indestructible. What you won't like? +50% Light Radius. It makes you shine like a lighthouse. Enemies spot you from off-screen, and you'll feel like a Golem: Blood Stars fly after you even although you don't even know who's firing. If you insist to go with it, try it. If you find you can live with it, even better. I for one don't want to try. Just wear it unID'd, and everything will be fine. Sounds a bit like Gotter, doesn't it? Bovine Plate is just fine until you got that Holy Full Plate Mail. For that reason, you may want to keep it, since Griswold and Wirt always try to create a better item (in this case, FPM) than you have got. I don't know if Bovine Plate counts as Full Plate Mail, tho.

- Eater of Souls: Two-Handed Sword, qlvl 23. Stats: Hit steals 5% Life, Hit steals 5% Mana, constantly lose hitpoints (1.25 HP/sec), Indestructible, +50 Life. This one may also be a choice to consider in case you've got no good axe. Since it's two-handed, the sweep attack still applies (you lose your built-in "stability" and the axe/club-melee bonus though). "of Blood" is nice, but I doubt you'll find "of Vampires" handy (Hmm...did someone mention Telekilling?). +50 HP is a nice bonus, the fact it's indestructible is only interesting for LoL-characters IMO.

- Karik's Ring: Ring, qlvl 8. Stats: +60 Vitality, -30 Magic. Is really tough to find (SP only). But if you do, well, it makes your day. Worship it. This is definitely one of the best rings for any Barbarian. +150 Life and also much damage. Who cares about magic? Own this, and the world is (almost) yours! Problem is, you've got to have at least 30 Magic...check OverLord's Helm further down for a reason.

- Messerschmidt's Reaver: Great Axe, qlvl 25. Stats: +5 to all attributes, -50 Life, +200% Damage (so: raw weapon damage is 36-90), +15 Damage (raw damage now is 51-105), 2-12 Fire Damage. You could call this BloodSlayer's big (or maybe little?) brother. All in all, the things I said about BloodSlayer apply here to: get nice tohit%, and go crush all opposition. Oh, and some nice Life jewelry or Lion stuff would help against -50 life here.

- OverLord's Helm: Helm, qlvl 7. Stats: +20 Str, +15 Dex, +5 Vit, -20 Mag, altered durabilty (15). Is nothing more and nothing less than a nice helm for any Barbarian as long as you haven't got any of the advanced helms (Undead Crown, Veil of Steel...) and got at least 20 Mag...yep, you'll soon find out that if any of your stats go negative, some of your stuff will turn red (even jewelry can do that; the item doesn't need to be affected by the Str-decrease to turn red) This is a problem with all items that decrease stats, not just with this helm.

- Ring of Engagement: Ring, qlvl 11. Stats: AC 5, -1 or -2 damage from enemies, 1-3 damage to attackers, damages target's armor. Puny, you think? Not in Hellfire and definitely not for Barbarians. Wanna know why? Forgot about all stats except the last one: "damages target's armor". In Diablo, it would add 4-12 to ToHit% in Diablo. Forget about it. In Hellfire, however, it reduces the target's AC by 87.5%. Big, eh? It gets even better! When used by a Barbarian, add 12.5% to that percentage. Now, that means...reduces target's AC by 100%. Any monster's AC equals zero. Null. None. Forget about ToHit%, because there's just the 5% of AutoMiss left. Do you now know why BloodSlayer or Messerschmidt's Reaver are so great when used with this one? Worship this one too. Add Karik's Ring, and you cut through any legion of enemies like a lightsabre through warm butter. Sadly enough, this is only theory. The Ring of Engagement is not findable in Multiplayer. I’m not sure whether it’s findable in Singleplayer. :(

f) A Barbarian's career

Now, a good way of distributing your level-up points. I'm the type of player who always puts all points into one stat, so if you prefer to really "distribute" your points, this may not completely apply, but you should still get the idea. It's easy:

1. Dexterity is to be maxed first. Put all points you get into dexterity until it goes gold. Takes exactly seven level-ups.
2. Then, raise Strength to 90 (base Str, in case you get rid of items that add to Str), so you can use/wear all important (FPM, axes, etc.) items. Put points into vitality now and then, but concentrate on Str.
3. Once Strength is at 90, concentrate on Vitality. You get much damage from it and the added HPs are also nice. If you're <*VERY*> lucky with elixirs, Vit can be gold at clvl 30 (max vit is 150).
4. From now on, Strength. Level-ups get rarer anyway as your clvls increase, so elixirs/creepy shrines should be the major contributor to strength. It goes gold at 255, that's quite much, and you'll also get quite some damage points out of.

Some thoughts about this: in case you should manage to get some really good +Vit items (like, three perfect Life pieces o' jewelry), you could go for Strength a bit more, since your HP bonus from +Vit on items is larger than the one from your raw stat (raw stat: +2HP/1 Life, from items: +2.5HP/1 Life).

With that out of the way, let's see which items a Barbarian can possess during his career (SP here).

Clvl 1: starts with club and shield. Get ANY axe as soon as possible, even a plain small axe is better! Until you do so, try and get better clubs.

Clvl~5: time to beat the Butcher! Just make sure you got your belt full of healing potions, open the door to him and slay away! If you're playing SP, you'll get his cleaver, a very nice weapon. In MP, it's indeed a bit soon to attempt and slay him; wait until you're level ~13 and have a good axe (of Bashing!) that allows you to stunlock him (damage is not the problem; you just need to keep hitting, and for that you need ToHit%)

Clvl~7: kick Leoric's butt! Same procedure as SP, you'll get the Undead Crown. Keep it, you won't want to live without it. In MP, you may want to lead him to a choke point where you can eliminate each of his minions after the other, rather than be swarmed by them (which can be dangerous, even with your quarter damage, as your AC will still be low) and finally kill the King himself. (No, all you Elvis fans, I'm referring to Leoric!) If you find that archers are his servants, better start a new game, the arrow barrage will probably kill you. It's a good idea to wait with killing the King until you got a good axe (or, club, since it multiplies your total damage by 1.5 because Leo's an undead dude; just don't use a shield so you still get both axe/club bonus and avoid the shield-penalty. Also, remember bashing!). Also, some more damage would be nice as stunning Leoric CAN be a problem...he can drop good stuff, though. (Like Chain mail of the moon...nice when that soon)

Clvl 10-25: no big problems here. Get some more stuff (preferably an axe that either adds to Dex or to Tohit+Damage; Doppelganger's Axe of Anything is nice here, as it occasionally "dupes" a monster, which is good for your XP. Or how about bashing!).

While venturing through catacombs/caves, finding a suffixed Gold ring would be nice (my L33 Barbarian still wears that Gold Ring of Giants). A +resist all%-item is recommended as well, so is a good piece of armor (Glorious Splint Mail or similar Heavy Plate) If you're playing SP, make sure to check the Slain Hero on dlvl 9, he'll drop you a magical Battle Axe. It may actually be Hellslayer, a nice unique axe. Good luck! Bovine Plate would also be a good choice until you got a plate mail that exceeds BP's AC of 150. Remember to train your ranged-attacker-hunting-skills, you'll need it.

Clvl 26-35: by now, it's very possible to possess a really good axe (e.g. Master's Battle Axe of Speed). High-level armor is also preferable (Blessed/Saintly/Holy FPM, or Armor of Gloom if you're so lucky as to find it), so is maybe an Obsidian Ring/Amulet (suffixed if possible, e.g. of perfection/life). King's Axe of Haste could also be yours now (bought one at Griswold at clvl 32 for 185000...remember the Auric Amulet!). Your helm is probably still the Undead Crown, at least it was mine back then; remember to raise its durability with blacksmith oils, oils of fortitude or Hidden shrines; unlike other changes, dur changes carry over to new game. Same goes for all other items, you'll especially want to raise your most expensive items' durability so you need to repair them less often. Making them indestructible would be very nice (maybe using Oil of Permanence in SP; I *never* found one of those, though).

Clvl 36-50: not much to do anymore...dream equipment should be yours (or at least close to), all that's left to do is max Str (Vit *should* already be maxed), raise your items' dur and maybe hunt Enchanted shrines. That's it, basically.

g) General Remarks

Do shopping always on hell difficulty. Why? Now, imagine that King's Axe of Haste pops up at Griswold's, but you're short by 150000. Uh-Oh! On normal difficulty, it's almost impossible to get that much gold in one session, but it is on hell (or even nightmare)! Just clear church and there go 80000. Clear two or three more catacomb levels, and you're there. Don't forget you'll likely want to sell your previous axe too.

Killing Na-Krul is only of secondary importance to you. He drops nothing you could really use (Long Battle/War Bow; Book of Apocalypse; War Staff; and finally, Great Sword, but you know axes are better).

You can enter the hive with clvl 15, and that's just about the time to go there; have a look, it should be quite doable (more difficult in MP than SP, but possible). Against the Hork Demon and the Defiler, use your Rage skill if necessary. The Hork Demon will always drop an amulet with an ilvl of 26. If you're activated the Theo-quest, the demon will instead drop a...well, see it for yourself. Anyway, bring the thing he dropped to the person standing at the tree near to one of the bridges which lead to Adria's island, and you get an amulet from that person as well (ilvl 26 too). Be careful about thos Psychorbs down in the hive, their blasts hurt without resists. You'll already have at least 15% Resist All, which helps to cut down the damage at least a bit. Some people first clean caves, then go to Hive, Crypt, Hell, in that order.

Squirt sells Holy FPMs for 90000 (IIRC)! Go and get one! Griz sells Awesome/Lion FPMs for about 190000, so get one if you want the HPs! Also, you could try and go for a stars/precision/vigor suffix on those plates. Never saw one of those, but who knows? And why did this paragraph sound incredibly stupid?

In case you were wondering, of course you cannot get both Auric Amulet and Bovine Plate in the same game. Cow-Quest turned off allows you to get the amulet, Cow-quest turned on allows you to get the plate. You have to judge which one you want. Of course, you can get the amulet, start a new game and then switch to the plate, it won't cause any problems to change the quest even when in game. Just make sure you and your multiplayer-partners have the same settings when playing; if you don't do so, either the game crashes or it goes out of sync. I wouldn't try it anyway; sometimes nobody can get the rune bomb, sometimes only one person can get it...and so on.

h) Helm of Sprits

If you're playing MP, the Undead Crown will not be an option for you. Instead (and if you can afford the AC loss), go after the Helm of Sprits. It is an unique helm that looks like the Undead Crown (looks like crown on the floor) and can be found on nightmare/hell diff.

From all normal monsters you can find in church, the following can NOT drop Helm of Sprits (OverLord's Helm instead):

- Bone Gasher
- Burning Dead Archer
- Dark One
- Flesh Clan
- Flesh Clan Archer
- Horror Archer
- Horror Captain

The following normal monsters in church can drop Helm of Sprits (there is no difference between Fallen one w/Sword and w/Spear):

- Black Death
- Burning Dead
- Burning Dead Captain
- Carver
- Corpse Axe
- Corpse Bow
- Corpse Captain
- Devil Kin
- Fallen One
- Ghoul
- Hidden
- Horror
- Plague Eater
- Rotting Carcass
- Scavenger
- Shadow Beast
- Skeleton
- Skeleton Archer
- Skeleton Captain
- Zombie

The following bosses in church can't drop Helm of Sprits (OverLord's Helm instead):

- Blackash the Burning (Burning Dead Archer, dlvl 4)
- Bongo (Devil Kin w/Spear, dlvl 3)
- Brokenhead Bangshield (Corpse Captain, dlvl 3)
- Deadeye (Skeleton Bow, dlvl 2)
- El Chupacabras (Plague Eater, dlvl 3)
- Gharbad the Weak (Flesh Clan, dlvl 4, SP-only quest)
- Goretongue (Rotting Carcass, dlvl 3)
- Gutshank the Quick (Carver w/Sword, dlvl 3)
- Madeye the Dead (Burning Dead w/Axe, dlvl 4)
- Pulsecrawler (Shadow Beast, dlvl 4)
- Skeleton King (dlvl 3; in SP, drops Undead Crown...duh)
- Skullfire (Corpse Bow, dlvl 3)
- Snotspill (Dark One w/Spear, dlvl 4, SP-only quest)
- Spineeater (Bone Gasher, dlvl 4)
- Warpskull (Hidden, dlvl 3)

This means that the following bosses in church can drop Helm of Sprits:

- Bladeskin the Slasher (Fallen one w/Sword, dlvl 2)
- Boneripper (Skeleton w/Axe, dlvl 2)
- Bonehead Keenaxe (Corpse Axe, dlvl 2)
- Butcher, The (dlvl 2; in SP, drops his cleaver...duh)
- Pukerat the Unclean (Fallen One w/Spear, dlvl 2)
- Rotcarnage (Ghoul, dlvl 3)
- Rotfeast the Hungry (Zombie, dlvl 2)
- Shadowbite (Scavenger, dlvl 2)
- Soulpus (Zombie, dlvl 2)

As you can see, your best bet of finding HoS is to scour dlvl 2 on NM or hell diff, going for the bosses. All three HoS's I've ever found (all in Classic D) came from Rotfeast the Hungry, Soulpus and Boneripper, in that order.

It's not really a disadvantage to wear Helm of Sprits instead of Undead Crown (except the helm's AC is slightly lower); while the Undead Crown is Life Stealing (that means 0%-12.5% per hit), the Helm of Sprits steals 5% Life per hit. Note I do not know if the Undead Crown's stealing effect has an average value; if anybody knows, please reply.

You want yet more information about the famous Helm of Sprits aka HoS? Well then, take it from Moriah:

Hi :*)

Here's the standard accepted reasoning on how to get a Helm of Sprits.

Monsters can only drop items according to some internal variables and guidelines. Very similar to recipes, actually, but in computing terms, the recipes are called algorithms. Trust those nerds to mumble some technospeak ...

Anyway, the recipe goes as follows.
Kill a monster, get a chance to drop something.
Monster has a drop, get a chance to have an item.
Monster drop an item, get a chance of it being magical.
Have a magical drop, get a chance to have it unique.
Split: Unique drop, get best unique possible.
Non-unique drop, get a plain (blue) magical item.

Well, those are the basic steps.  Next we have to do is to figure out what steps are needed to get a Helm of Sprits.

At this stage, I would like to point out that a BOSS monster will always drop an item. Books are items with a magical enhancement (the spell), thus the bosses can drop this item too, but they will never drop a potion, elixir, scroll or gold as these items can't have a magical enhancement. Already you should note that boss monsters have greatly increased odds of a unique item. Add to this the fact that the CHANCE for a magical item to be a unique item for normal monsters is 1% or 2%, boss monsters have this figure raised to 15% or 16%.

Onwards to the internal values that he game has put on any variable. Variables here include you, the player, monsters, bookcases, short bows, gold, the Pentagram on level 15, a Town Portal, basically, anything that the game does or keep track of is a variable (though some variables are constants). This would make the unused spells like Etherealise and Blood Boil variables too, however, you will never get to activate these.

Internal value of a Helm : 8
Internal value of Fool's Crest : 12
Internal value of Overlord's Helm: 7
Internal value of Helm of Sprits : 1

Monsters have values too, as I mentioned. And monsters have a rather complicated recipe for dropping items, as I mentioned too. So, how do the monsters really drop an item?

I will only bother with items now, saying nothing about chances.
A monster has a level, mlvl, that will determine the best item they can drop. This is a one to one correlation. For a Helm to be dropped, the mlvl of the monster must be at least 8. But all plain base items less than 8 are also on the list. Moreover, bows are added twice. Thus a short excerpt from a mlvl 8 "drop-item" list would be:

potion of healing
potion of mana
full potion of healing
short bow
short bow

spiked club
skull cap
Thus, the headgear list is cap, skull cap, helm.

Next we'll need to see the rules about a monster dropping a unique item. A monster will always drop the best possible unique for a given base item (disregarding those base items that don't have a unique item). Thus a mlvl 8 monster will drop an Overlord's Helm in this case. A mlvl 12 monster (or better) will always drop a Fool's Crest.


So, if a mlvl 8 monster can only drop an Overlord's Helm ... and a monster with mlvl less than 8 can never drop a Helm of Sprits, how can they be dropped at all?

Enter Nightmare and Hell difficulties.
The designers and/or programmers of Diablo saw it fit to have the Nightmare and Hell difficulty monsters drop base items according to a MODIFIED mlvl value. Thus a mlvl 1 monster in Nightmare actually has a modified mlvl of 1 + 15(bonus) = 16. In Hell difficulty, the bonus is 30, thus 1 + 30(bonus) = 31. This bonus will allow for a more expansive "drop-item" list. For example, a Nightmare Zombie with an mlvl 16 item list will include the following headgear:

skull cap
full helm
But .................

The modified mlvl does NOT affect the magical enhancements to the base items dropped. This means that a Nightmare Zombie (base mlvl 1) could drop a Cap of Strength, Skull Cap of Strength, Helm of Strength etc, but not a Cap of Might. For the record, the Strength suffix has a value (qlvl) of 1 and Might is qlvl 5.

To bring this small diversion back to the Helm of Sprits discussion, the best unique helm that a Nightmare Zombie can drop is a Helm of Sprits. This Zombie will never drop anything unique higher than qlvl 1, as its base mlvl is 1.

To expand this a bit more into a range of monsters, any monster with mlvl 6 or less can drop a Helm of Sprits, provided they have a modified mlvl of 8 or higher. The lowest modified mlvl being 16, this latter requirement is of no concern.

The range of monsters includes:
rotting carcass
black death
corpse axe
burning dead
fallen one
devil kin
and a few more.
Please note the absence of the Dark Ones.
Please also note that a Helm of Sprits can be found off a plain monster as deep as dungeon level 5 (dlvl).

One last remark about the boss monsters. They actually have a +4 bonus to their item drops. This means that most of the dlvl 2 and some of the dlvl 3 bosses qualify in Nightmare and Hell difficulties. I'll leave it as an exercise to you to look it up in Jarulf's Guide:


Well put, my friend! :)

i) Beating Boss Baddies

Just some quick notes on beating the Butcher, Leoric and Diablo. They all work the same: as soon as they manage to hit you, it's likely you'll be put into stunlock (low AC!). Therefore, you've got to stunlock *them* before they can stunlock *you*. One thing is important for that: ToHit%. Damage is usually not an issue to the Barbarian (axe!). I recommend an axe of bashing in order to take on Butcher and King Leoric; attack them when they try to move on the square next to you. If you hit them (and do enough damage), they will be stunned and ‚returned' to their previous square. Rinse and repeat. In case you miss and they end up in an adjacent square, you may still be able to hit them before they hit you, so you can still stunlock them.

Another option – axe of the bear. You may not hit always, but if you do, they'll be knocked back. The Fat One (speak: Butcher) will immediately try to close up on you again, Leoric may do so as well or just stand in his square, wondering what the hell just happened. Wait for him to come – if you try to close up, he may very well swing at you, and then *you* are the one who can't get close. Bringing him up against a wall is another way that may work, given your toHit% is high enough, because he'll be in stun-lock all the time without ever moving away from the square he's on (as you can't knock him into the wall...not REALLY...)

Diablo. This one is a bit tougher. You should try to take on him when he's alone (maybe use Holy Bolt to lure him out?), he's a PITA anyway, even without his friends. Unlike the Butcher and the Skeleton King, he's got a distance attack, and you'll feel it soon enough. The attack is physical, so resists don't matter. Wait until he's closed up enough and hack away. You'll probably want to have him standing next to you; if you knock him back, he may use his ranged attack instead of closing up again, and you don't want that. Here, use your Rage skill – unlike fighting the Butcher and Leoric, you won't drop your stuff when you die, but that can happen quickly if you use the skill and don't look for the different phases of the skill (see chapter IVb for more info). An axe of haste would come very handy can't stunlock Big D in Hellfire anyway (hit recovery: 0.10) but an Axe of Haste allows you to deal out damage faster, so Diablo dies faster, and you'll like that.

Na-Krul. Pretty much same deal as with Diablo, except you can lose your stuff down in the Crypt. You can't stunlock this guy either (hit recovery: 0.15), but you can use the "dude-stay-in-yer-own-square"-trick here since Na-Krul hasn't got a ranged attack. So: Axe of Haste, Axe of Bashing, Axe of the Bear – you know, the usual option. Or, just read the books in front of his lair in the correct order – boom, he's not so tough anymore.

In case you've got Cow-quest turned on and are strong enough to survive at least 25 seconds against Na-Krul...listen to his speech. Nice reward, eh?

All other boss monsters (be it "real bosses" like the Defiler or standard unique monsters) are not much different too. Use choke points, don't get yourself surrounded (but if you do, let 'em feel your sweep attack), the usual stuff. Don't use the Rage skill too often...the bonus is high, but so is the penalty. If you feel like it, you can exploit the bug mentioned in chapter IVb; that's up to you.

j) Barbarian Archer?

Here, I'd like to talk about something Moriah pointed me to. It is the use of bows against mage-type monsters (Counselors, Magistrates, Cabalists, Advocates – the only type of monster which does NOT follow you [or at least try to do so] once they're activated). Now, why would I want to do that? Can't my axe do the job?

Of course, your axe can do it. But under certain circumstances (like low resists and/or high difficulty level), it will just hurt big time to chase after the mages (while they don't follow you, they DO flee) while being hit by lightning, fireballs, or whatever the bad guys throw after you. Also, talk about "sniper" activities – running around with –80% LR and an infravision spell while taking off single enemies from the distance is fun (well, it is with a rogue)! The question is: does the Barbarian fulfill the requirements to be a good archer? Well, to make a long story short: it is possible. You will want to use Eaglehorn for that because it's just about perfect (for a Barbarian!). You should also be in stealth *OR* be good at "happy feet", else you will take quite some damage. You will also have to accept the fact you can't stun all mages (esp. not at high difficulty levels).

I, for one, will continue to slay the mages with my axe. That's how the Barbarian is supposed to be played!

k) Item Recovery

Item recovery can be tough with the Barbarian. That brings us to rule #1: simply don't die. Be sure to have the following things ready:

- at least one +mana/+magic item
- Telekinesis spell as high as possible (not really necessary, but the less mana it costs, the more often you can cast it...duh)

If you died in a "good place", that means on one side of a room, you can stand at the other side and retrieve your items via Telekinesis. You may also want to use some –light items like Gotterdamerung to 'go stealth'; you can still see items even with full stealth, so you can pick them up from a distance.

In case TK is not available, you'll have to clean your dying area. For that, you basically only need a good axe (bashing!). First lure away the melee attackers one after the other and take them out. Then proceed with the ranged attackers. One after the other!

VI) – Important Resources

Here are some links to other sites/pages where you can find more information about meleeing, Diablo in general etc.

Freshman Diablo – Has many excellent guides, including, but not limited to Leoric 101, Butcher Bashing 101 and (of course!) Melee Tactics 101 by Charles Warren, something you don't want to miss!

Jarulf's Guide to Diablo and Hellfire – Also referred to as "The Diablo Bible". You can actually find out more about D and HF here than you ever wanted to there.

Diablo Strategy Forum – The place to go to if you got questions to ask and/or even hell became too boring for you. Meet our beloved bot L.A.N.D.R.U. (Legendary, Artificially Named, Dread Robot Undercover – at least that's my guess), get flamed to death and just be there to hear Cat's legendary "walk in the park"! Another options include seeing a very certain, gnomish BNM (or was it BNMish gnome?) and other absolutely...erm, insane people.

Moriah's Diablo Combat Calculator Project - lets you exercise all the nifty-nice melee calculations I've done here yourself!

The Lurker Lounge - is kind of a "sum-up" of pretty much everything what happens in the Diablo Strategy Community. - you can find quite some good strategy guides there, including Bolty's High-Level Warrior Guide. Featuring neat graphical explanations of Peekaboo and other helpful tactics which I finished off with just some cheap ASCII diagrams...

VII) – The End

Ok, that's it. We're done. Now go on and...enjoy. Don't forget to play.



Email me!