atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#143: They call him MR-Acererak!

I play "Diablo II" a lot.

I have never been any good at computer games. Or video games. Or anything that requires really fast reflexes and razor-sharp timing. Or strategy.

I got D2 on the day it came out, or close to it. I had loved the original Diablo; when D2 was finally released I left work at lunchtime and went to Best Buy for it. I read the manual on breaks. When I finally got home that day, I was impressed with it.

Game sequels are always iffy. The sequel to "Carmageddon" just ruined the entire concept. The original "Carmageddon" was a fun game; C2, "Carpocalypse Now", tightened up the graphics and physics, but utterly ruined the way the game played. What I wanted was "Carmageddon" but with updated software and different tracks; they gave us an entirely new game that was like Carmageddon, but wasn't.

Blizzard didn't make that mistake. D2 was "Diablo" with updated software and a ton of new features. The game world was four times bigger, the list of monsters longer; the number of magic items just exploded and it all was utterly seamless. There were usability changes to the software which made it easier to play, and some things which didn't make sense at the time. Still, it was as good as it could be.

The "fighter" and "mage" character classes had disappeared. "Amazon" was still there, but with the new skill-based system she was almost unrecognizable. The new character classes were "Barbarian", "Druid", "Necromancer", "Sorceress", and "Paladin". AS I RECALL, anyway, because the expansion module "Lord of Destruction" added at least one character class, the "Assassin". The expansion module had been planned from the beginning and was developed in-house at Blizzard rather than being farmed out to someone else. It showed.

Anyway, I came up against my limits fairly early on with that game. The new game had some tough spots to get through, and I finally met my match in the third "act" of the game. SO I found a trainer (ie cheat) program which kept me from getting killed, and I was able to finish the game.

So, since 2000, I have been playing D2 on and off a LOT. Over the past year or so I've been trying to see how high I could build characters, level-wise, before they became unable to get much more than one or two experience points per monster.

There are three modes you can play D2 in: "normal", "nightmare", and "hell". You must defeat a mode in order to unlock the next one. Each one gets progressively more difficult but the treasure and magic get progressively greater. A character who has defeated "hell" mode can reasonably expect to have experience points (EPs) in the hundred millions.

Well, I wondered what level a character would be if he had received all the experience that all my characters had ever received? So I looked up the experience totals and added them together, and created a "necromancer" character...but what to name him? He was going to be a serious badass (assuming that my plan didn't just crash the computer) so I needed a decent name for him.

I'm an old-school RPG gamer. I was playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) in 1981, for crying out loud. And in 1981 TSR released a module--a pre-fabricated adventure which could be "dropped" into any campaign with just a little modification--called "Tomb of Horrors". It was one of the S module series, the "special" modules.

"Tomb of Horrors" was legendary for being a meat-grinder. (Okay, a paper shredder; characters were just numbers on sheets of paper, right?) It was infamous for its lethality; where most adventures gave the characters a fighting chance, "Tomb of Horrors" maximized the danger and minimized chances for success. Chances were good that if your character died in one of its traps, that character was gone for good. No resurrection (nor even a "Wish" spell!) could bring him back! In some cases the character's actual soul was also consumed, not just permanently killing him but utterly erasing him from existence.

It was possible to kill the one entombed in the Tomb of Horrors. He was Acererak, a demi-lich; all that remained of him was a skull, which had gems in the places of eyes and teeth. The gems in the eyes could suck out your soul, and if you were left in there long enough that would be it for you. Two people could be trapped that way. There was a way to get someone out of there, but that would involve defeating Acererak, and the only way to defeat Acererak was to pelt him with big gems, which would be destroyed in the process. He was immune to pretty much anything else. A group of high-level characters had a better chance of defeating a dragon than they did of defeating Acererak.

"Tomb of Horrors" could be beaten. I once tried to build a campaign around the Tomb, setting it up as a short-run campaign in which the characters needed to retrieve something from the Tomb in order to prevent a coming catastrophe. I was giving them some legendary-level support to accomplish the task, and they were starting out as ninth-level characters because otherwise it's just impossible. The two people who were playing had actually never read the module, or played it before, so that was something.

Sadly the concept never went very far. But it had been a good idea, and they'd actually gotten past the lethal entryway without any help from me, after some six hours of solid gaming. It was a good time.

So--when I wanted to name my necromancer in D2, what name could occur to me but "Acererak"? But I couldn't just call him that; that was cheesy. The first necromancer I had run through D2 had been named "Dr Spootenheim" (long story) so anything starting with "Doctor" was out. Then I thought about the Sidney Poitier line, "They'll call me MISTER Tibbs!" and realized that was it: this character was named "MR-Acererak" (I used the dash because you're actually entering a filename and it doesn't let you use periods).

Anyway, I ran MR-Acererak up to tenth level without the cheat program. Then I fired up the cheat program and slapped...

one billion, four hundred and fifty-seven million

...EPs on his ass. Then I left camp and found a monster to kill. I killed one monster--a quill rat--and instantly went from tenth level to eighty-eighth level.

I had 390 statistic points and 78 skill points to distribute. When I was done, he had at least one rank in every skill and was well over 100 in each stat. And the next monster he killed garnered him one experience point.

What an anticlimax. But I'd expected that, anyway. He now had an undead army following him, and in about eight or ten hours of game play, spaced over several days, I've gotten him to the fourth "act" of the game. I feel kind of sorry for the monsters now. A monster shows up, the skeletons head over there, and pound it into the dirt. It's kind of creepy, really.

There are some jokes floating around in the back of my head about MR-Acererak having killed "the Quill-rat God" or something. One rat, 1.457 BILLION EPs...about the only thing he didn't do is become a demi-god....
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