Nightmare Part One
Nightmare started out in much the same fashion as Normal had ended, with the druid team rolling through the nonthreatening monsters surrounding the Rogue Encampment. I missed the first session in Nightmare (on vacation in upstate New York) as the rest of the team full-cleared up through the Underground Passage. When I returned the next week, it was catch-up time on the quests, starting in the Den of Evil:
Shockwave gave me the ability to charge into these slow-moving mobs with impunity, stunning everything except bosses and champs. By this time my low dexterity had made my attack all but irrelevant, but Shockwave did a nice job of holding enemies still so that one of our mages could shoot them down in complete safety. Corpsefire and crew is getting a nice lesson in that above.
On this particular night, the rest of the team caught me up on the Den and Countess quests, then as soon as I finished, sunrise089 showed up - so we had to do the quests again! They were easily done, of course, so there were no hard feelings. From there, the druids cleared the Underground Passage, Tristram, and the Black Marsh. Jaffa had to leave for the beginning of his monthly absense, but T-Hawk showed up and so we were able to clear out the Countess quest before stopping:
She died VERY quickly, her Fire resistance not doing much to stave off an assault from Fissure and Molten Boulder. Difficulty remained relatively benign at this point, although killing pace was clearly much slower when mage druids were missing. Namarie's Tornadoes had come into their own at this point, and were ripping through the enemies like no one's business:
Some hapless critters are dying so fast here, gold looks like it's raining down from the skies! In contrast, Dathon and I were becoming nearly useless on the offensive end, although I'd like to think we were contributing in other ways. At one point in Act II, we tried to fight a handful of vultures on our own, and frankly had to beat an ignominious retreat. The return of the Hardly Able crew!
Back in town, we were piling up an unholy assortment of Sigon's gear:
All of this dropped within a couple of sessions, plus we had several more Sigon's Belts sitting around in stashes! Too bad that none of those set items were particularly good...
Now the team had turned up a Bonesnap (the unique Maul) in the session I missed, and we were able to upgrade it to its exceptional equivalent (War Club) at the start of the next night. For my werebear, this was a game-altering character find:
When playing the game untwinked, you can't plan character builds around getting particular uniques. However, I doubt I could have found a better weapon for Bearlin_Wall with a dozen mule accounts! Already required to use a two-handed weapon, Bonesnap provided massive damage, major resist boosts, and 40% crushing blow. With some more attack rating, my character suddenly went from a paltry meat shield into a major offensive force, especially against champs and bosses with that crushing blow. (I would later craft some Blood gloves to add another 10% to that number.) I may not have been hitting the enemies that often, but when I did, it was extremely obvious!
As far as the team's progress was concerned, we started in the Black Marsh and began tearing through the various parts of the monastery. The Smith had fairly pedestrian boss abilities:
Extra Strong merited attention, while Magic Resistant was rather less dangerous. We pinned him up against the wall with Dathon's wolves and let Fissure do its work. The rest of the night was fairly uneventful, as we full-cleared the rest of Act I. After finding a Combat Shrine on Cats Level 2, we parked a portal there and saved it for use against Andariel:
She went down very quickly with the whole team piling on. Viking's bear was doing as much or more damage as I was; when the two bears started connecting together, it was quite a sight to see! Then, since Jaffa was on vacation for the night, T-Hawk signed off and rejoined using Jaffa's character account - so we could kill Andariel again. No more backtracking for this group!
Unfortunately we found out at about this time that sunrise would be unable to stick with the group - night classes for law school are a real pain, it seems. Regardless, it was time to venture on into the Sewers:
Shockwave did a nice job of shutting up the Burning Dead archers; I started referring to it as "Dim Vision Lite", since it seemed appropriate. Note the Fissures opening up underneath the feet of the archers above; gonna be a LOT more interesting when these guys are all Fire Immune in Hell!
Radament was humbled by Dathon's wolves and Viking's bear:
Poor guy can't even move!
We full-cleared Act II up to the Viper Temple, still with no deaths to the group in Nightmare. A couple of the underground areas had trapped entrances that would have given the Rogues an absolute fit, but our small team handled them quite well. I had to drink some purples for the first time in ages, good to be getting back into some practice there! Battles like this one against Creepy could get a bit hectic:
Carnage strewn everywhere across several rooms. I think I'll let that picture speak for itself.
We learned one lesson on this night: apparently Molten Boulders will roll *UP* a flight of stairs without issue!
Our clean slate of deaths couldn't last forever, unfortunately. In the next session, we had no fewer than three of them pop up! First, my character was taken down for the first time by a Fire Enchanted/Lightning Enchanted Fyre Eye; the buggy interaction between those two boss traits caused an instant death when the boss exploded. 2000+ life gone in one shot - ugh. I didn't know about that bug, which I'll have to keep in mind for the future! Then Zed followed me through an unsecured Canyon before I could create a safe portal in the True Tomb, which resulted in a second death to a huge mob. Finally, Namarie accidentally entered Duriel's chamber before the rest of the team was ready and was bull-rushed by the big guy for the third death. All of these were the result more of chance and bad communications than genuinely poor play, and the team as a whole continued to roll over most enemies without issue.
Now I *HAD* pictures of all of these events taking place, but in mid-September I suffered through a terrible crash of my computer that wiped out much of the hard drive and kept me out of action with the team for two weeks. Thus, even though I was able to play through Act II and the first half of Act III, I lack pictures to display from any of these events. The druid team continued its good play throughout, with little to no deaths on most nights, doing just fine when I was absent. It wasn't until the first week of October that I was able to rejoin the action - which happened to be on Durance 3!
Here we are against Bremm Sparkfist, who also turned up with the buggy FEB/LEB combo. I didn't notice this, and Bremm's death explosion took both me and Jaffa's werewolf out. Blah. I blame at least part of that on rustiness, but I had been hoping to get through Nightmare with only the one death.
The other Council members were uneventful. Wyand is seriously getting his ass kicked here, so covered with spell effects that he's practically invisible. With all of the druid skills maxed out or close to it by now, the mages could dish out some serious damage in a hurry. Very entertaining to watch "live" in action!
Mephisto didn't fare much better either, as he spent most of his time concentrating on Viking's bear. Arctic Blast slowed him down while Fissure and Boulder (now being provided by Shadow, our third Boulder player!) did most of the killing. I was able to drink reds from my inventory and never slip below half health.
I apologize for the discontinuity of the reporting - all I can plead is that I never intended to go without a functioning computer for a full month! That threw off any number of different projects of mine. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing for the rest of the variant.