Having completed a full pass through the original game, it was now time to move on to the experience bonanza of Act 5. This was only the second time I had personally played through the expansion part of Diablo 2, but I'm sure for most everyone else it was old hat by this point. The Bloody Foothills were simple as usual, and I think I gained a level before we even reached Shenk:
There's some serious carnage taking place in this picture! A lot of bodies on the ground there. Shenk couldn't even reach the Rogues, much less harm them, and a ton of meteors were in the process of falling on his head even as he was riddled with arrows. Fun stuff.
The Rogues full-clear all areas, so that meant heading down into the portals as well. These reincarnations of the River of Flame allowed ample opportunities to shoot at the cattle unmolested. The only reason Svava was hurt here was because I had just teleported back to safety from the other side of divide. What I was doing over there is open to question.
This is from one of the subterranean caves, not sure which one. The big furries aren't doing any better than the cattle before them were. The group was unusually small in this picture, but this was taken right at the beginning of a session on a night when several individuals were running late. This is also from the period when Jaffa was away for several weeks.
This from a little bit later on, after rescuing Anya and going after Nihlathak. All of the minions have been taken out, and Nihlathak is getting hit by five rogues onscreen (and at least one more offscreen, seeing by the arrow to his right). Here in Normal, without rampantly scaled-up Corpse Explosion damage, this quest was no more difficult than any others.
Taking on the Ancients here. Sirian and Dathon are our twin tanks here against Talic, while the other four rogues in the picture are firing away from a safe distance. I believe the missing rogue was distracting Korlic for us so that we could concentrate on Talic. Once the Ancients were handled, it was on to the Worldstone Keep.
The various minions Baal threw at the Rogues prompted a retreat back towards the stairs. This was noteworthy because it was one of the first times that we had to hit-and-run against our enemies rather than simply slogging through on pure damage alone. Things were touch-and-go for awhile right after Lister and his minions were loosed. In time though we got our act together, divided the minions, and started killing them off. This picture was from the tail end of that battle, with the boss finally isolated and surrounded. A good challenge and indicator of things to come.
Finally it was time to fight Baal. I don't remember the specifics of the battle exactly, but I think we had a fair number of deaths. Baal's freezing shot and the dreaded orange crush were dangerous for these variant characters. Of course, with time, the Rogues were able to persevere against the last of the Three:
Normal difficulty was completed on October 21, 2004. It took a total of three weeks - six sessions - to run through the opening phase of this venture. But Normal was really only an introduction to Rogue Revival; things were about to get much more difficult in a hurry, and progress would slow dramatically as time went on. Hold on - it's about to get much more interesting!