Diablo 2 Resurrected is set to be released in September 2021, a graphical re-skinning of the same game that came out more than two full decades earlier. Aside from making me feel impossibly old, the impending release of D2R had me scratching that old itch to go back and play some more Diablo once again. I've written about this a number of times previously on my website, about how every few years I'll get the urge to try out a different character build or some wacky new variant for the old game. With Diablo 4 still years away from seeing the light of day, this was the perfect time to dive back into Sanctuary and enjoy some more dungeon-crawling fun. Even better, with interest being high in D2R, I hoped to put together a new team variant and recruit some other folks to share in the journey. Some of my most favorite D2 experiences came with the Rogue Revival and Nature's Cabal teams which I chronicled for the website many years ago.
I started out by looking at the old variant list still hosted at Realms Beyond and quickly spotted a team concept that looked interesting. This was the Low Rent Legion originally created by Occhi, which I'll link here for anyone who wants to see in its original form. The Low Rent Legion was a classic example of Realms Beyond Diablo variant fare with the goal of creating characters that completed the whole game using nothing but the character level 1 skills for each class. In other words, clearing the game with the likes of Bash, Charged Bolt, Raise Skeleton, and so on. I did not take part in this variant team when it was played (I recall that they used Hardcore characters and had to do a ton of backtracking to catch up new characters when suffering the inevitable deaths) but it was a great concept that had a ton of promise. I'm making a few tweaks to Occhi's ruleset in the hopes of updating and modernizing the original idea - we'll call this the Low Rent Legion Resurrected to keep with the theme of D2R.
First I'll lay out some ground rules for the team and then look at the individual classes.
"The Low Rent Legion comes from the social dregs of Sanctuary. It barely gets its GED from school, or a certificate of passing the bloody exam in the Canadian system, and as such must learn on the job. As a result, the only skills that can be applied are CLVL 1 skills. Any further skill enhancement has to come from passive/synergistic skills that accompany the life lessons learned in applying those CLVL 1 skills. Any skill that boosts a CLVL 1 skill can be boosted, the way one boosts the weight on a bench press when working the pecs, triceps, and shoulders: more is better."
To explain Occhi's quote a bit better, I'm dividing the Diablo 2 skills into three categories: Active skills, Passive skills, and Synergy skills. Low Rent Legion characters can only use Active skills that are available from the very beginning of the game at character level 1. Any other active skills (i.e. anything that has a mana cost) can never be used under this variant. By contrast, Passive skills that have no mana cost and are never activated are always OK to be utilized. There are also Synergy skills which can never be actively used by characters but which can receive skills points for their synergy bonuses with other active CLVL 1 skills. Trust me, this will all make more sense when we look at the individual classes.
All data on character skills comes from the Arreat Summit which remains a fantastic resource for D2 information.
Amazon Active Skills: Jab, Magic Arrow, Fire Arrow, Inner Sight
Amazon Passive Skills: Critical Strike, Dodge, Avoid, Penetrate, Evade, Pierce
Amazon Synergy Skills: Exploding Arrow (for Fire Arrow)
Amazons can fortunately still opt into either of the two main paths for the class, bowazons or spearazons. Bowazons will be based around Fire Arrow and max out Exploding Arrow for the fire damage synergy; even this variant setup almost certainly isn't viable for a Magic Arrow-centered build. Spearazons are stuck with Jab which offers an excellent attack rating bonus and a rather poor damage bonus. To make up for these more limited active skills, the Amazon has one of the largest list of different passive skills, all of which can be maxed as desired (though many of them have severely diminishing returns on skill points). This is one of the classes that I have very little firsthand experience with running and I'd love to see what people can come up with in terms of character builds.
Assassin Active Skills: Tiger Strike, Dragon Talon, Fire Blast, Psychic Hammer
Assassin Passive Skills: Claw Mastery, Weapon Block
Assassin Synergy Skills: Shock Web / Charged Bolt Sentry / Wake of Fire / Lightning Sentry / Wake of Inferno / Death Sentry (all for Fire Blast)
Assassins can be built down the physical melee route with Tiger Strike / Dragon Talon or the spellcaster route with Fire Blast. The physical skills arguably aren't even variant material as serious builds are frequently run based around these skills. Fire Blast definitely is variant material but it has more synergies than any other skill in the whole game, six of them in fact, and there should be skill points enough to max it out and then drop another 70 or so skill points into synergies for legitimately good fire damage. (This will make the Assassin useless against fire immune monsters but that's what teammates are for!) There should be room for some fun stuff here.
Barbarian Active Skills: Howl, Find Potion, Bash
Barbarian Passive Skills: All Combat Mastery skills
Barbarian Synergy Skills: Stun / Concentrate (for Bash)
Barbarians don't have many choices in terms of active skills; Howl and Find Potion are utility-based skills that likely only need a single skill point. That means that this is going to be a character built around Bash and that's not such a bad thing. Bash does a lot of base damage and even more with its two synergies to potentially max out. Barbarians compensate for their limited active skills by having free use of the entire Combat Mastery skill tree. Every one of these abilities is a purely passive skill that can be maxed as desired. How many points to put in these skills should be one of the most interesting aspects of the character. Sadly there won't be any Leaping or Whirlwinding for these Barbarians but Bash + the weapon mastery of their choice should have them dealing a ton of damage.
Druid Active Skills: Firestorm, Werewolf, Lycanthropy, Raven, Poison Creeper
Druid Passive Skills: None
Druid Synergy Skills: Molten Bolder / Fissure (for Firestorm)
There are viable options for two of the three Druid paths under this ruleset, the spellcaster route and the weredruid route. The summoning Druid appears to be ubervariant material with only Raven and Poison Creeper available and is not recommended. On the spellcasting route, Firestorm has two synergies to max and will deal respectable damage after dropping 60 points into the skill; this is another build that can't deal with fire immunes without help but toasts everything else. The weredruid path is limited to Werewolf and unfortunately can't make use of any of the werewolf-only skills which leaves it a bit crippled. It still may be viable, however, especially if there's a Paladin around to help out with damage. Werewolf gets tons of attack speed and attack rating and only needs something to boost damage.
Necromancer Active Skills: Raise Skeleton, Teeth, Bone Armor, Amplify Damage
Necromancer Passive Skills: Skeleton Mastery, Golem Mastery, Summon Resist
Necromancer Synergy Skills: Bone Wall / Bone Spear / Bone Prison / Bone Spirit (all for Teeth), Bone Wall / Bone Prison (for Bone Armor)
This looks like one of the most entertaining classes under the LRL ruleset though that may be due to my personal fondness for Necromancers. There are several options here, starting with the summoning Necro who gets to bring skeletal warriors (but not mages) backed by Skeletal Mastery and Summon Resist. Note that Golem Mastery is technically allowed but the Golem skills themselves are not! Amplify Damage is available to greatly increase the damage of the party's physical attackers and Bone Armor comes with all of its synergies for additional protection. It may actually be possible to run a Teeth-based character here by making use of all four synergies; slvl 25 Teeth would fire more than two dozen projectiles with each one dealing roughly 300 non-elemental magic damage. Probably not optimal even under this variant setup but it certainly would be fun!
Paladin Active Skills: Might, Sacrifice, Smite, Prayer, Resist Fire
Paladin Passive Skills: None
Paladin Synergy Skills: Redemption / Fanaticism (for Sacrifice)
Paladin auras are considered Active skills for the purpose of this variant even when they don't cost mana; sorry, no Fanaticism or Salvation for this setup. This in no way reduces the usefulness of the Paladin, however, as Might is available at CLVL 1 and will be invaluable to any team effort. Every physical attacker of every class will want to have their holy friend along to supply them with the massive damage boost from that aura. But the Paladin isn't just a walking aura bot as the class also gets to play around with the huge damage of Sacrifice (if they can keep from killing themselves) and the invaluable crowd control of Smite. Prayer and Resist Fire are probably ubervariant materials but hey, you never know.
Sorceress Active Skills: Fire Bolt, Charged Bolt, Ice Bolt, Frozen Armor
Sorceress Passive Skills: Warmth, Fire Mastery, Lightning Mastery, Cold Mastery
Sorceress Synergy Skills: Fire Ball / Meteor (for Fire Bolt), Lightning (for Charged Bolt), Frost Nova / Ice Blast / Glacial Spike / Blizzard / Frozen Orb (for Ice Bolt), Shiver Armor / Chilling Armor (for Frozen Armor)
My favorite class has an active skill in all three of the elemental trees to use under this variant, though Sorcies are encouraged to focus on lightning or cold since there's plenty of fire damage available elsewhere from Amazons, Assassins, and Druids. If no one is playing these classes, Fire Bolt backed by full synergies and Fire Mastery deals serviceable damage to a single target. Ice Bolt is likely the stronger choice from a pure numbers perspective thanks to having more synergies and being able to cut the cold resistance of non-immune targets with Cold Mastery. Both of these skills have exceptionally low mana costs and no casting delay which should make for some entertaining pew-pew-pew action. Get some fast cast items and have at it! There's also full access to Frozen Armor as well as Charged Bolt though the lightning skill probably doesn't do enough damage to be viable. We'll have to see.
* No mercenary hirelings. It defeats the purpose of the variant if the Act II town guards can make use of forbidden auras and so on.
* No use of items with spell charges. Again they basically defeat the purpose of the variant!
* No twinking items. Use what you can find, buy, or make for yourself (or trade within the team). This is a pure team concept.
* No running games with these characters outside the group please. This is intended to be a team variant that plays together.
* No "variant within the variant". You can run solo characters any way you like, but no macho stuff when playing as part of a team. Follow the rules and play within them to your full potential.
Obviously a team variant would be impossible without other players. I'm posting this prior to the release of D2R in the hopes of starting on the organizing well ahead of time. We can run this team with a couple of players or the full maximum of eight - the more, the merrier! In terms of scheduling, I'd like to run these games during my normal Friday Livestreaming sessions; there's some room for adjustment there but the timing falls between roughly 10:00 - 16:00 EST. This should be pretty good for Europeans and Americans who don't have to be at work during the day; it's terrible for Oceania and East Asia but unfortunately that's life. We can run the sessions towards the beginning or the end of that time range depending on what works better for the group (it won't be the full 6 hours, more like 2-3 hours). I'm assuming that Battle.net will still let people choose their server for cross-region games as it did a decade ago for D2. I'm looking for people who can make a weekly session for at least a month or two. If you can't make a consistent schedule then I'd rather keep that spot open for those who can.
Most importantly, you do not have to have any prior experience with Diablo 2 to sign up! Some of us are grizzled veterans at this game but D2R provides a new opportunity to learn this classic title. The only things needed are a copy of the new Diablo 2 Resurrected game and a willingness to learn. Send me a message on the Sullla Discord or an email to let me know if you're interested in joining. We'll be using Discord for voice communication in-game and additional planning/logistics so keep an eye on it for more information. Feel free to play any character build desired, we can have multiple versions of the same class and that's part of the fun! I'm hoping we can get a great turnout for this team so let me know if you're interested. Thanks!