Normal Difficulty

The Low Rent Legion team started out with its first session on 8 October 2021, about two weeks after Diablo 2 Resurrected was released. We planned to run weekly Friday sessions for roughly 2-3 hours apiece and see how long it took to advance through the game. Unfortunately we were missing Barely_legal and Myth for this first session but everyone else was present and we were able to make great progress through the beginning parts of Act One. Normal difficulty rarely presents much of a challenge in Diablo 2 and this first session was no exception. In fact, our variant specifically required the team to be maxing their CLVL 1 skills rather than saving up a bunch of skill points for use later on. Everyone was at the absolute peak of their powers right out of the gate and the monsters stood no chance at all. We raced through each region at breakneck speed and the biggest limitation was everyone running out of Stamina to keep their characters in running mode.

From my perspective, the biggest challenge in these early areas was trying to avoid having Electric Tsunami run out of mana. I was dumping every skill point into Charged Bolt as we continued leveling at an amazing rate (thanks to being in a Players 6 environment) and the electric bolts would mow through anything even with the extra HP on the monsters. However, Electic Tsunami was well short of 100 mana and a few seconds of continued casting would drain her blue orb down to nothing. This was only magnified when the team found an amulet with 10% faster cast for me and then I was able to purchase a staff with +2 Charged Bolt and another 10% faster cast on it! Stat points were going into Strength to get it up to the minimal value of 35 that I'd targeted for the moment and that meant not skilling Energy at first. Boro's Barbarian LRL_PunchingBag was helping out with Find Potion and enough mana potions dropped that I was able to keep pace with our physical damage dealers. We had Gario pumping up his melee skeletons with additional skill points, plus casting Amplify Damage curse as needed, plus the Might aura from Dp101's Paladin. I think that anything the skeletons so much as sneezed on collapsed instantly.

We skipped all of the various quest areas at first in the hopes that our missing players might be able to join us, then went back and completed everything up to the Outer Cloister once it became clear that we would only have six players for the first session. Running the Den of Evil with characters at CLVL 12 was pretty hilarious and not for the enemies. Blood Raven was dead before she could finish speaking her villain monologue and Griswold exploded before half the team could even see his Cursed aura. The biggest danger that the team ran into in this first session was an Exploding Shrine that took out half of everyone's health bars when activated. We also had a single death suffered against the Countess, entirely due to lack of coordination when Dp101's Paladin was mobbed by a group of corrupted rogues in a separate room while everyone else was sorting through the treasure dropped by the quest objective. Ummm - sorry about that! From working with past variant teams, I can guarantee that the coordination gets a lot better with time as the group spends more time working with their characters. The sheer easiness of Act One Normal can also make things tough because the monsters die so fast that it's hard to develop any sort of tactics. We all knew that things would eventually get harder, if not for a little while yet.

We were missing Boro for our second session but everyone else was able to make it. The team continued clearing through each area at breakneck speed and managed to finish the rest of Act One followed by proceeding a good ways into Act Two. The biggest challenge for my character was grabbing and drinking a constant flow of mana potions to keep from running out as the team tore its way across the map. I don't recall anything in the second half of Act One causing any problems for the group in this session and I believe that we went deathless while proceeding from the Outer Cloister down to the bottom of the Catacombs. Andariel died in about three seconds and I'm glad that I was able to get the screenshot before she collapsed.

The plan for Act Two was to head straight for the Halls of the Dead to unlock the Horadric Cube and then see if there would be enough time left over for the Sewers afterwards, which fortunately there was. Out in the deserts we ran into our first modest difficulty in the form of the beetles and their sparking electrical bolts. Diablo 2 uses the same graphical effect for their sparks as it goes for the Sorceress' Charged Bolt and my character was already filling up the screen with SLVL 20 spellcasting. It was difficult to tell what was safe and what wasn't safe when Electric Tsunami cut loose against a mob of beetles. This problem was further exacerbated by Gario's skeleton minions who would produce lots of additional sparks with their melee attacks, and of course this early in the game not everyone had much in the way of lightning resistance. We suffered a couple of deaths until our melee characters figured out that they needed to back off a bit and let the skeleton minions do the tanking. Having Boro's Barbarian on hand would have been helpful here!

It's always a lot of fun to see a big team working together against the swarms of enemies in Act Two's underground tombs. It could be a bit tricky to reach the Hollow Ones in the back of rooms since we didn't have any reliable cold damage to remove the bodies of undead opponents. Gario could clean the corpses by raising them as skeletons but that was too mana-intensive to rely on at the moment. Since this was only Normal difficulty, we could still bowl over the enemies and rush the greater mummies which usually worked out well. I think there was one moment where one of our characters was stuck in the doorway and couldn't retreat due to all of the rest of us pressed up against the entryway and then was swarmed under and killed. I was trying to balance my character's positioning so that her Charged Bolts would flow through open doors into the next room while also not being close enough to the fights to be in danger. For the moment, it wasn't too hard to stay safe with a ranged character.

Myth missed the first hour of our session before being able to join us. He created a new game so that we could rush him through the end of Act One and then pick up a Horadric Cube for his Firestorm Druid. This didn't take long at all and we were able to finish the session with everyone caught up through the Dry Hills / Halls of the Dead. The most noteworthy item finds for my character were making a Stealth runeword armor (the default go-to armor for a casting character early in the game) and then finding another Ring of the Apprentice. I had three Apprentice properties (10% faster cast) on both rings and the amulet slot, enough for 55% faster cast in total with the Stealth runeword! One of those items was doing nothing because the break points for frames on a Sorceress are 37% faster cast (10 frames) and then 63% faster cast after that (9 frames) but this was still pretty awesome. 10 frames per cast was much, MUCH faster than the default 13 frames per cast.

Here's one additional amusing screenshot. We decided to follow a pattern from some of the past variant teams that I've been on, assigning each player responsibility for collecting one gem type. For example, I would collect all of the Topazes with them being a thematic fit for my lightning sorcie. We decided who would get what type of gem and then everyone tossed down the extra gems they had been collecting thus far in the town square so that they could be reassigned to the appropriate individual. Needless to say, this is the sort of thing that you would never see in a public game.

We tried to run our normal session the next week only to run into terrible issues logging into It was well publicized that Diablo 2 Resurrected was still running all of the old legacy code underneath the fancy new coat of paint. What didn't leak out to the public until after the game released was the fact that Blizzard was still running all of the same server and networking code as well! Now I am not a computer programmer but even I could have told them that trying to run legacy server coding from 2001 was never, ever going to work for a game released in 2021. Apparently every single login to for D2R was being handled globally, not region by region, and each account had to be verified one at a time before it was possible to create or join any games on Blizzard drastically underestimated how many people would be online and the result was a rash of server crashes in the weeks following launch. Their response was to limit how many people could be online at any one point in time by throttling back login attempts with a queue upon launching No one could create or join a game until someone else somewhere in the world hopped off the servers to free up a spot in the queue. Furthermore, the login queues were downright terrible and it could easily take well over an hour to reach the front of the line and get into a game. Our planned third session had to be canceled because everyone was waiting in the queue without being able to get through to the actual game.

Needless to say, this was totally inexcusable on Blizzard's part. There was no excuse whatsoever for forcing people to stand in line for 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes or more to play a game that they had just purchased. Diablo 2 is not an MMO and there wasn't even any need for a global login queue, with this problem existing only because the design team idiotically thought that they could run server code from 2001 in the vastly different online environment of two decades later. Blizzard belatedly started working to correct the problem *AFTER* the game was released instead of proactively recognizing that this would be a problem and fixing it before release. The login queues were particularly bad for us because Friday mornings in North America turned out to be the same time as Friday evenings in east Asia where the bulk of Blizzard's player base was now located. Diablo 2 wasn't even released in China back in 2000 and now that was where a majority of the D2 players were logging in from - times had certainly changed a lot in the online world. This never should have been a problem but we were unfortunately hitting a poor timing window and had to work around this ridiculous login queue.

In order to deal with this hassle, everyone wound up having to log into far ahead of time to make sure that they would be able to get past the login queue. You were really playing with fire if you didn't login at least an hour ahead of time - again, this was completely nuts and I felt terrible that the other folks I had recruited for this team venture had to jump through these hoops. We could only hope that Blizzard would fix this nonsense in time and/or enough people would become annoyed enough to drop the overall server population.

The login issues overshadowed the actual gameplay for our third session but we did finally manage to get online again. This time we were missing bearly_legal and IAndrosov who had told us in advance that they wouldn't be able to attend. The goal for the rest of the team was to make it through Act Two Normal and we were able to race from the Dry Hills waypoint all the way through the rest of the act in our allotted two hours. Keep in mind that we were full clearing every area that we passed through, such as all four quadrants of the Arcane Sanctuary and all six of the False Tombs, not simply racing ahead to kill Duriel as fast as possible. The team was absolutely flying through the game and mowing down everything that we came across in brutal fashion. We remained well out ahead of the difficulty curve since we continued to pump all of our CLVL 1 skills. The raw power of maxing those early game skills was right about at its peak in this session as I maxed out Charged Bolt at SLVL 20 (+3 from staff) and had to begin adding skill points into the Lightning synergy skill. The monsters would keep getting stronger while my core skill already had the maximum 20 points invested.

Higher levels of Charged Bolt help to illustrate how the skill really works in practice. At low levels Charged Bolt only produces a handful of electric orbs that move in mostly random fashion. However, as more and more bolts are produced at higher skill levels, it becomes clear that the bolts fan out in a predictable cone shape. The picture above with the Summoner captures this quite well with the triangular cone shape easily visible against the dark backdrop of the Arcane Sanctuary. I wanted to position Electric Tsunami as close as possible to the monsters to put them near the origin point of that sparking cone while also keeping my fragile sorcie safe from danger. There wasn't too much danger just yet since this was only Normal difficulty and if anything I was probably more dangerous to the rest of the team than the monsters! Between my Charged Bolts and Gario's skeleton minions we produced a lot of sparks whenever we encountered beetles. Like, a *LOT* of sparks. Combine that together with narrow passageways in the Maggot Lair and the False Tombs and there was sometimes nothing that our frontline characters could do to avoid eating a mouthful of lightning. I was the main reason why Dp101's ArchaicMight suffered a couple of deaths thanks to putting so much lightning on the screen. At least we wouldn't have to worry about beetles and their sparks as much in Act Three.

On the other hand, when everything came together it was a beautiful sight:

We spent the back half of the True Tomb talking about what our strategy would be for dealing with Duriel. It was therefore an extreme anticlimax when the big demon hit the floor in maybe three seconds of real world time. On entering the boss chamber I ran to the right side of the room to put up a portal in a safe spot, then turned around and started casting Charged Bolts. By the time that I had the portal up and highlighted Duriel's lifebar, he was already at 1/3 health and dropping fast; I barely managed to get this screenshot before the boss was squashed. Dp101's Might aura combined with Gario's SLVL 20 melee skeletons and Amplify curse plus Boro's barbarian and Burninator1729's assassin all added up to an extremely dead Duriel. This was the kind of teamwork that we'd need to emphasize as the difficulty level scaled up over time. For the time being, it was pretty awesome annihilating one of the act end bosses this thoroughly!

Our next session was plagued by connectivity issues and we only managed to make it about halfway through Act Three. This was aside from the login issues with the queue, mind you, we had players dropping in and out of the actual games even after they had managed to connect to the server. We started out the session by rushing IAndrosov's Assassin past Duriel since he had been unable to join during the previous week. This took about 15 minutes in which we squashed the big bug quite thoroughly again, at which time bearly_legal joined the game and we realized that his Amazon also hadn't been present to defeat Duriel. We tried to rush LRL_Powerpoint past Duriel in a separate game only to find that bearly_legal kept crashing out of the game over and over again. It was so bad that bearly_legal couldn't even walk through portals to grab the Horadraic Staff and Viper Amulet that the team had split up to obtain. To make matters worse, Myth's local Internet was also acting up and he couldn't join us either while Gario knew ahead of time that he wasn't going to be able to make this session. We had to leave them behind and use the remaining time to progress through the jungles of Act Three.

As a result, this wound up being a smaller group of five for most of the session. We made it through the three jungle regions and claimed the Lower Kurast waypoint with the hopes of being able to finish Act Three in the next session. The outdoor parts of Act Three tend to be pretty easy since there's lots of space to maneuver and the monster mix generally isn't very dangerous. Whether for that reason or because we were playing better as a team, this was our first session with no party deaths at all, yay! Lack of beetles with their electric sparks also helped here. There were a couple of close calls when huge swarms of flayers and their shamans popped out but no one ended up hitting zero health. I was glad that we were traveling through these low-danger areas at a time when we lacked the skeleton army for protection. This is one of the less interesting parts of D2's gameplay and as a result I don't have too much to report from this session. The frequent hiccups were the most memorable part of our experience.

We were missing a few of our members the following week but was cooperating for once and the result was an excellent session that made outstanding progress. We picked up in Lower Kurast and once again raced through the back half of Act Three at breakneck pace. The outdoor portions of Kurast were easy as usual and the Sewers weren't too bad aside from getting everyone stuck on the architecture at various points. The six Kurast temples are some of the most notorious deathtraps in the game and several of them could have been pretty ugly on higher difficulties. The Forgotten Reliquary had a stairs trap with half a dozen brutes and almost as many spiders camping out at the entrance. That would have been tricky if this hadn't been Normal difficulty. We probably need to coordinate heading down the stairs a bit better since there were a couple times where one or two people entered a temple alone and that could go very poorly in Hell difficulty. Sarina and her boss mob proved to be easy this time around but we had a hairball in another temple (pictured above) where there were multiple archer bosses hitting us from the right and left side of the room. We were getting flanked from both sides at once and Gario's skeleton minions couldn't frontine against both threats simultaneously. Although no one died it was a hairy moment for a few seconds until the enemy archers started falling. We likely would have needed to retreat back around the corner and string out the monsters if this had been a higher difficulty.

There was nothing of much interest in the back half of Kurast. None of our characters had access to Leap or Teleport thanks to the variant and that left my Sorceress casting a whole bunch of Charged Bolts to kill the enemies up on the walkway running around the outer edge of Travincal. The lightning hitting the monsters up there didn't really make sense from a perspective vantage point but it worked. The Council members didn't charge out after our party and we fought them at the entrance to the Durance. I was holding down the right mouse button casting endless electricity at the doorway where Geleb was standing and I couldn't really see what the heck was going on. They dropped pretty quickly though and we were able to cube Khalim's various body parts into the flail that opened up the way forward.

The first two floors of the Durance are normal in size here on Normal difficulty and we zoomed right through them with no hiccups. We found the steps down to Durance 2 almost immediately and then found the waypoint and stairs down within the first 30 seconds on the second floor. If only we weren't full clearing every area, heh. On the bottom floor, the group killed Bremm Sparkfist so quickly that I didn't even get a screenshot. We circled around the left side of the blood pool and eliminated Maffer, then engaged with Mephisto in his usual spot. The demon lord died extremely quickly just as we had seen with Andariel and Duriel at the end of the previous acts, mere seconds in real-world time. It turns out that high level Might aura backed with Amplify Damage curse translated into a massive amount of damage. Burninator1729 found some equipment upgrades for Bootica in this session that had the Assassin dealing 300 damage before the Might / Amplify modifiers were applied and then we had all of the skeleton minions also hacking away for more of a pounding. At some point the act end bosses will put up more of a challenge but that day was not today.

The outdoor portions of Act Four generally weren't too bad. The most dangerous enemies proved to be the Venom Lords simply due to their Inferno flame breath. This pictured fight took place at the entrance to the Plains of Despair and Dp101 was caught in the crossfire from multiple different demons at once. We had drawn Gloams as another monster in this area and their lightning spells light up the battlefield with even more electrical energy. Izual was here of course and he also died quickly to the various abilities of the grouped team. The outdoor areas were most notable for me because there were several times where I took the wrong town portal and wound up off by myself facing a group of enemies. That kind of machoism would get me killed in short order in Hell difficulty but Electric Tsunami was able to solo down the monsters without too much trouble here. We had the good luck to see a bunch of helpful rune drops in these outdoor areas, multiple Orts and Thuls and our first Sol rune which became a Lore helm for my character. The group had also turned up an amulet with +1 to sorcie Lightning tree skills which allowed my character to reach SLVL 25 Charged Bolt with her +3 staff, woohoo! On the other hand, the Hellforge quest was a real disappointment as it produced nothing better than a Ral rune. Well I guess it was Normal difficulty so we couldn't expect much there.

There were no close calls or dangerous fights on the rest of the River of Flame. Normal difficulty just doesn't throw that many bosses at the player and the monsters only have a single boss affix apiece which makes them far less deadly. As proof of this, I didn't even get a screenshot of Hephasto before the team rolled over him. Inside the Chaos Sanctuary, we had some lively fights that resulted in one player death without anything winding up too bad overall. We had some miscoordination at the seals with the seal bosses getting released unexpectedly which didn't matter for Normal difficulty but could be very bad news later. Everyone was still learning their characters at this point and we'll be more in sync by the time that we get back here again. None of the seal bosses put up much of a fight and even the Infector wasn't able to get through the skeleton minions (although Gario noted that they were finally dying occasionally and weren't completely immortal as they had been previously).

As for Diablo, well, he didn't do any better than his brethren in terms of putting up a challenge. Diablo is infamous for wiping out player-control minions with his flame nova combined with the 10x damage boost that act end bosses get against minions. He had no such opportunities against the team however as Diablo's lifebar plummeted down to zero in mere seconds. I noticed that at least some of the skeletons were still alive when I snapped this screenshot moments before the fight was over. Eveyone basically wailed on the poor demon with their skills and he died almost instantly; we never had a chance to see a bone prison or the infamous Lightning Breath of Doom. That was perfectly fine with me since Electric Tsunami was sacrificing on resistances to retain 45% faster cast and more +skills for Charged Bolt. I think that she had something like 30-40% fire and lightning resistance which would have been near-suicidal for this fight without having the rest of the team to tank for her.

We experienced a sad parting at our next session as two of our players unfortunately had to drop out from the team due to personal reasons. Myth's fire druid and bearly_legal's bowazon would no longer be continuing with the team as the two of them were unable to keep making the weekly sessions. We were sad to see them depart and I wish them the best going forward. For the rest of our variant group, the loss of two sources of fire damage meant that we were happy to see IAndrosov respec his Assassin LRL_Psycho to focus on the Fire Blast skill. Physical damage would always be our principal means of attack thanks to having Might aura and Amplify Damage curse, however it was handy to have sources of fire and lightning damage as other options for opponents which were particularly strong against physical blows.

We started out this session by rushing Boro's Barbarian through the final portions of Act Four. The Chaos Sanctuary went smoothly once again and Diablo lasted about 15 seconds before he fell for a second time. Then it was on to Act Five with the goal of seeing how far we could make it before running out of our weekly time slot. This proved to be very fast indeed since everyone had enough skill points by now to have maxed out at least one of their CLVL 1 skills. The Enslaved in the Bloody Foothills put up no threat at all and then the various types of imps were more annoying than dangerous. The toughest enemies for the moment were the Crusher Beasts due to their flame infernos which weren't a lot of fun for our melee characters.

The other primary danger came from the frenzytaurs when they showed up in the Act Four subdungeons and then the icy caves in the middle of the act. Their Frenzy attack is still bugged as far as I know and it's very easy for them to stunlock melee characters and kill unexpecting players in a matter of seconds. As a ranged character, I had the advantage of being able to stay at a distance and avoid taking any blows. Sooner or later our front line was going to collapse in one of these fights and then I'd have to run for the hills but at least thus far we'd been able to keep things under control. We cleared through the first half of Act Five extremely quickly even though these areas are obnoxiously large for no good reason. We proceeded up through the Anya quest and for once I landed something shockingly useful from the quest reward: a one-handed Jared's Stone item with +1 sorcie skills, 20% faster cast, +17 life, and 36% fire resistance! That was amazingly good for something in Normal difficulty and it was more than worth dropping Electric Tsunami's staff of +3 Charged Bolt to make use of it. We had earlier seen the Wall of the Eyeless unique shield drop in the same session, and while that wasn't a perfect fit for my character, it was by far the best thing to wear for the moment in the shield slot. I needed to refresh the Act Two vendors at some point to find a 3 socket Large Shield and then collect three Perfect Diamonds from Dp101. Electric Tsunami was fine on resists for the moment but I was going to need some resist all stuff for the higher difficulties.

We concluded the session by full clearing Nihlathak's temple of ugly brown hallways. This is one of the most boring parts of the game and the constant chatter with the rest of the team on voice communications made this a far more enjoyable experience. We didn't have any particular strategy in place for Nihlathak and largely bumrushed the traitorous necromancer. That worked fine for the moment even though it felt questionable for harder difficulties. Then again, Gario will have a lot more mana by the time that we make it back here again and Dp101 should have a higher level Redemption to make cleaning the corpses that hit the ground much easier. (Wait a second - Dp101 can only skill Redemption for the Sacrifice synergy, not actually use the aura itself. Whoops!) We'll figure it out one way or another. Finishing up with Nihlathak put us beyond the halfway point for Act Five and we hoped that we'd be able to complete Normal difficulty in the next session.

The group picked up the next week at the Glacial Trail waypoint where we unfortunately had to reclear the whole area before finding the trail up to the Arreat Plateau. We were also full clearing the various subdungeons along the way (the Drifter Cavern, the Infernal Pit, etc.) which are often some of the worst deathtraps in the game. Here in Normal difficulty there weren't enough bosses for any of these regions to be too dangerous. The Arreat Plateau was noteworthy for rolling two different types of imps as enemies which wasn't a lot of fun for our melee characters. The blasted things kept hopping over walls and forcing our Barbarian and Kicksin to run around in circles after them. At least the skeleton summons were having a field day chopping them down; Gario was up to 10 skeleton minions in total now! That was likely to remain the limit for a long time until we could manage to turn up a lot more +skills gear (the Necromancer needs SLVL 27 Raise Skeleton to get the eleventh melee minion).

We didn't feel the need to drop a bunch of red and blue potions on the ground to face the Ancients, not here in Normal difficulty. Sure enough, the living statues collapsed in a matter of seconds when confronted with the Low Rent Legion team. I positioned myself at the edge of the combat zone and wound up next to the skeletons mobbing Korlic. Between the skeletal axes and a wave of electrical enengy, Korlic dropped almost instantaneously. The rest of the group was off to the north dealing with Madawc and Talic who I barely even saw and didn't manage to capture in a screenshot. It was another easy win for the group as Normal difficulty kept racing past.

The Worldstone Keep had no monsters returning from earlier acts and didn't pose much of a threat either. There were frenzytaurs and witches here but neither monster type was strong enough to slow down the team's progress. This was the first time that I'd seen the new graphics on the witch Bloodstar attacks and they look very different here in D2R, more like a circular fireball than the old star-shaped blob from the original game. We duly cleared out the side wings first for safety at the Throne of Destruction and then engaged with the waves of boss packs. None of them were dangerous enough to force our group to retreat back into the maze and separate the minions with footwork; Ventar was probably the toughest simply because of the Infernos from the Venom Lords. This sequence of fights was amusing because the game kept printing out text that said "[Game] Baal says: Laughs" which made the whole thing feel kind of ridiculous. Baal is a pretty lame villain to begin with and this made the situation even more cartoonish.

I accidentally pathfinded my character to the right side of the red portal leading into the Worldstone chamber. It took about ten seconds for me to realize that I'd gone the wrong direction and that was nearly enough for me to miss Baal entirely:

Even as Electric Tsunami was opining about the power of the Worldstone washing over her, the rest of the team was murdering Baal with great efficiency. There was no time for the Act Five boss to produce his clone as he was overwhelmed with Barbarian Bashes, Assassin kicks, Paladin Smiting, Assassin Fire Blasts, and a metric ton of skeleton swings. Add in the massive bonus to physical damage from Might aura and Amplify Damage curse and the whole thing was a massacre. Baal's lifebar was below a third HP by the time that I was able to plant Electic Tsumani and start spamming out Charged Bolts and the whole thing was finished a moment later. None of the act end bosses put up any kind of a fight whatsoever in Normal difficulty and only time would tell if that would continue as we moved on to greater challenges.

There was one remaining area yet to tackle before moving on in the form of the Secret Cow Level. This place can be pretty tough for character builds that lack some kind of AOE damage but we had that well covered between Charged Bolt and Fire Blast. The packed masses of cows went down like bowling pins as the team barreled its way through the open spaces of the Moo Moo Farm. This is apparently one of the best places in the game to find normal (non-magic and non-rare) items for use in crafting and runeword recipes. Sure enough, we managed to find two different normal Crystal Swords here and due to the ilevel of the weapons they were guaranteed to roll 4 sockets if we used a socket quest on them. We had been lucky enough to find two Amn runes thus far and that meant a pair of Spirit runewords for myself and Gario's Necromancer. Spirit was absurdly good for Electric Tsunami with +2 to all skills, 31% faster cast, enough faster hit recovery at 55% that I never had to worry about that stat again, and major bonuses to Vitality (+22) and mana (+112). In fact, this was such a large increase to mana that I was able to respec my character from 60 Energy down to the base value of 35 Energy and translate those stat points into 25 more points of Vitality = 50 more HP. This was definitely good enough to use for the whole game on at least one of the two weapon tabs; I might replace down the road with a Memory staff if we could turn up Lum and Io runes but this was plenty good enough to use forever if needed. I think I'd rather use a Lum rune on a Smoke armor anyway to get the big resist all affix.

That wrapped up the Low Rent Legion team's journey through Normal difficulty. We had no party deaths at all in our last session and the group was rounding nicely into form as everyone continued to get a better grasp on their own characters as well as how we worked together. Outside of a few mishaps with beetles and Venom Lord fire breath, we weren't particularly challenged at any point in the initial difficulty. How much tougher would things become as we ventured into Nightmare? We were about to find out.