Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Diablo Magic Items for OSR Games

I've loved the Diablo series since the beginning. I've played endless hours on Diablo 2 and 3. I love the lore, and enjoy the mindless destruction of the endgame game play. I also love OSR games.

Wizards of the Coast released a series of Diablo II licensed supplements for AD&D and D&D 3.X: monstrously faithful conversions, brilliantly showing how the videogame game play is abysmally distant from the type of experience I like in tabletop RPGs.

In diablo video games you pulverize monster after monster, looking for magic items that will make you stronger, gaining xp from kills, which will unlock more skills to pulverize faster.

In OSR rpgs you hunt treasures in dangerous places, and for the most part try to avoid danger...

And yet I think there's room for some kind of Diablo(ish)-OSR(ish) mash-up. It's something I've always dreamed of designing. 

For now, here's some iconic Diablo (2, specifically) items that I've always found interesting, converted for Old-School Essentials and similar OSR retroclones, in a handy d20 table.

These are not "faithful" conversions. Every item has 1 to 3 special properties, not 10+. They are my interpretation of each item, when translated into a simpler game like Old-School Essentials. 

d20 Unique Items

  1. Stormshield: Shield +1. All fire, cold and lightning damage is halved.
  2. Magefist: Iron gauntlets. Fire spells that inflict damage cause +1d6 damage (can be used by any class).
  3. Duriel's Shell: Plate armor +3. +1 to all saves, +1 hit point per level (max +10).
  4. Highlord's Wrath : Amulet. The wearer gains one extra melee attack every round.
  5. Ormus Robes: Fire, cold, and lightning spells that inflict damage cause +1d6 damage.
  6. Ravenfrost: Ring. Cold damage heals the wearer by the same amount, instead of harming them. Cold spells and effects never affect the wearer in any negative way.
  7. Skin of the Viper Magi: Leather armor +2. +2 to saves versus spells.
  8. Steelrend: Steel gauntlets. Metal weapons inflict +2 damage (may be used by all classes).
  9. Mara's Kaleidoscope: Amulet. +2 to all ability scores.
  10. Metalgrid: Amulet. +2 to melee attacks, +2 to AC. May summon a Bronze Golem (2d4 charges).
  11. The Cat's Eye: Amulet. +3 AC versus ranged attacks.
  12. Windforce: longbow +2. May fire 2 arrows per round, range is doubled.
  13. Thundergod's Vigor: Belt. Lightning damage heals the wearer by the same amount, instead of harming them. Bare hands melee attacks inflict +1d8 lightning damage.
  14. Halaberd's Reign: Helm. When worn by a fighter or barbarian, all their retainers gain +1 to melee attacks and damage and +1 to Loyalty.
  15. Sparkling Mail: Chain mail +2. +2 to saves versus lightning-based spells and attacks; lightning damage from spells and attacks is reduced by 1.
  16. Iceblink: Chain mail +2. +2 to saves versus cold-based spells and attacks; cold damage from spells and attacks is reduced by 1.
  17. Venom Ward: Plate mail +1. +2 to saves versus poison.
  18. Leviathan: Plate mail +2. Indestructible. Grants Strength 18.
  19. Azurewrath: Crystal longsword +2. Indestructible. Deals +1d4 cold damage. All undead in melee range suffer 1d4 holy damage at the beginning of every round.
  20. The Grandfather: Two handed sword +2. +3 hit point per level (max +30).
Into Old School? Check out my other OSR posts!


  1. A couple of thoughts. . .

    Have you played the original Diablo? It is much closer to a TSR era dungeon than the later versions of Diablo.

    I started playing D&D in 1977, so I can definitively say that Diablo and D2 actually capture the way D&D was played back then better than any other videogame. That's because the way everyone I knew back then played a "kill all the monsters, take their loot, and go up levels" kind of campaign. Sure, players were *supposed* to avoid combat and roleplay with monsters, but in actual practice nobody did. Dungeons were all about hack & slash, solving puzzles, and overcoming environmental hazards. White Plume Mountain and Tome of Horrors are the best examples.

    1. Hey there! I've played D1, 2 & 3.
      You are perfectly right, D1 is very close to the play and feel of an OS (and OSR) dungeon crawl/hack and slash game.

      With D2, things change quite a bit, in my view: as you start the game, the pace is still like that, and very similar to an old-school game, let's say until you hit level 30.
      As you level up past 30 and into 60 and more, and venture into Nightmare and Hell difficulties, the gameplay becomes fast and frantic, and the fidgety bits of the game (skill builds, magic item properties, monster immunities) become more and more complicated.

      The way I see it, the Diablo 2 gameplay from level 1 to 30 (or, the Normal difficulty) could very well be translated into a game such as Old-School Essentials!
      The gameplay you experience after that, not so much, in my view. The hyper-detailed, high performance builds would be better translated into a different game such as Savage Worlds, or D&D 3.x or D&D 4 (perhaps the best match!).
      On the other hand, the frantic, high-speed action could be better translated into a more modern game engine such as Hutton's Three Sixteen, which allows you to slaughter dozens of enemies with a single roll.

      Personally, I think I would enjoy playing both an OSE and 3.16-inspired adaptation, and much less so a 3.x/4 adaptation...


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