06/06/06 - The day of doom, destruction, and hardcore FAQ revamping! Added a section on TPPK's, updated the dangerous monsters list, removed all references to "Hydra pk," removed color tags, added methods to activate HC mode, removed references to the now-dead GAT team.
07/11/02 - Revamped a number of sections, especially the first character section and the magic finding section (3.1 and 4.1 respectively). Made a number of other small changes, and added two new sections, one on what to do after dying and one on avoiding hackers.
The Hardcore FAQ
Table of Contents
2. Welcome to Hardcore2.1 - What is Hardcore Mode?3. Gameplay in Hardcore
2.2 - How do I make a Hardcore Character?
2.3 - Hardcore vs Softcore…what's the Difference?
2.4 - I have a question for the forum...anything I should know before asking?
2.5 - What's this Banana channel and KTA that everyone keeps talking about on the Hardcore Forum?3.1 - What should my first character be?4. Item Hunting
3.2 - How do I avoid dying?
3.3 - What skills should I use?
3.4 - How should I allocate my stat points?
3.5 - How important are my resists?
3.6 - What's the deal with unique monsters and bosses?3.6.1 - Pandemonium Diablo ::NEW!::3.7 - What mercenary should I use?
3.6.2 - The Ubers ::NEW!::
3.8 - When should I move on to the next Act?
3.9 - What is the best Hardcore Character?4.1 - I don't have any good items? Can someone help me? Where and how do I magic find?5. Death, Lag, Looting and Losers
4.2 - Is Gambling still worthwhile in the expansion?
4.3 - How often should I mule?
4.4 - Are the item drops better in Hardcore than Softcore?
4.5 - What are some good starting items?
4.6 - What are Crafted Items?5.1 - How do I deal with lag?6. Playing in Parties
5.2 - How do I avoid being Player-Killed?
5.3 - Where do Player-Killers usually hang out?
5.4 - Who should I allow to loot my corpse?
5.5 - What gets looted when I die?
5.6 - Rachelene on Player-Killers.
5.7 - I died! What do I do now?
5.8 - Someone said there are hackers on realms? How do I avoid these losers?6.1 - Are there any special rules for playing in parties?7. Links
This collection of FAQ's is mainly aimed at assisting first-time Hardcore players. It deals with the principles of Hardcore play, the differences between Hardcore and Softcore mode, and the basics of being successful in Hardcore. It should also be explained here that Softcore (SC) refers to the mode of play in which your character has an infinite amount of lives. You will need to know this as it crops up throughout the guide.
2. Welcome to Hardcore
2.1 What is this Hardcore Mode?
Hardcore mode is an alternative mode of play within Diablo 2, with one key difference from the other modes: Death is final. Each character has but one life, and when they die, it's time to start over again. As such, this new game-play mode makes for a substantially different playing style and indeed, playing atmosphere. You will find caution and careful play come to dominate your thinking, as opposed to a reckless, gung-ho playing style. Also, the atmosphere of Hardcore Games is on the whole, different than Softcore games. Many players are more supportive, and watchful of other players, to a degree rarely seen in Softcore.
2.2 How do I make a Hardcore Character?
Originally, you had to first defeat normal Baal in Softcore in order to create Hardcore characters on your account. That method still works, but is not necessarily required. There are now alternate ways of enabling HC that are completely legitimate to use.
 One way of enabling hardcore is logging onto an account that can already create HC characters. Asking a forum member to create a "dummy" account for you to log in to is one way of doing this.
 If you don't have access to such an account the easiest way is to go through the following steps. I've tried to make this as simple as possible due to some people having inhibitions against messing with their registry.
1) Go to the Start menu, and open the program called Notepad (it's in the Accessories folder of the start menu).
2) Copy and paste the text below into a newly created document:
3) Press Ctrl+S (or alternatively File --> Save As…) and save the document with the name allowhc.reg making sure the Save as type: is "All Files".Code:Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Blizzard Entertainment\Diablo II] "AllowHardcore"=dword:00000001
4) Double click on the file you just created, click YES that you do want to add the information to the registry, and click OK afterwards.
5) Proceed to create HC characters at your leisure.
2.3 Hardcore vs Softcore…what's the difference?
When it comes down to it, the difference is not that great. Apart from the one life aspect of HC, the game is exactly the same; the same items, same skills, same levels, same monsters. However, the spectre of your mortality looming in the background has an enormous effect on the way you build and play your characters, and this will be explained in the section below, entitled Gameplay in Hardcore.
2.4 I have a question for the forum...anything I should know before asking?
General Rules of Thumb:
1) The SEARCH function of this forum is your best friend. Use it.
2) Vague questions will get vague answers or dismissals. Try to be thorough and detailed in what you're asking.
3) DON'T POST IN ALL CAPS. No need to shout.
4) Last but no least, be polite. Poilteness will get you a long way. If you have received a few helpful responses to a question, try and find the time to go back and post a quick thank you to those who helped you out. You will bring a smile to their faces, and encourage others to be helpful as well.
2.5 What's this Banana channel & KTA that everyone keeps talking about on the Hardcore Forum?
I feel that both of these are definitely worth a mention in the FAQ, since many people from these forums are either involved or know about them.
The Banana Channel - op xbananax on USEast
Op xBANANAx is a community of like minded individuals that help eachother, make Baal runs together, among other things. It's a channel where many people idle, come to talk, and generally have a good time and relax. Many people from Diabloii.net frequent the channel, and new people show up every week. It's an atmosphere that promotes trust and friendship while trying to remain as legitimate as possible. Feel free to stop by an introduce yourself! PS: People in the Banana channel are generally bananas.
KTA - Kill Them All
KTA is a group of untwinked players that meet on a regular basis. They try to get as far as they can through the game using what they find along the way. Many people here at the forums are involved or have been involved in one of these KTA groups. The most active group of KTA is the Europe division, led by Tikaeda.
Click here for the latest KTA posting.
3. Gameplay in Hardcore
3.1 What should my first character be?
This is perhaps the most controversial question in the FAQ, with no real correct answer and no real agreement either by the forum members. Instead of providing a detailed guide based on one character, what I've attempted to do is provide a few general hints and tips on making your first Hardcore character, and how to go about choosing what type it will be.
Generally, the best character to make as your first Hardcore character is one that you are most familiar with. If you've had lots of experience on playing a particular character class or type, then that is what is most important. Prior experience will stand you in good stead. However, this must be balanced with the fact that when you first start Hardcore, you have no items to your name. Therefore, you want a character that you know how to use, and one that can kill effectively without being overly dependent on items. Basically, what you are aiming for is to get to act 5 normal alive and well. Once you get there, you can hit the normal baal runs, up until level 40 or more if you want. You will also be able to start finding decent items with which to equip your new characters.
Possible builds that the forum has suggested would make excellent starting HC characters:
- Lightning Trap Assassin
- Summoner Necromancer
- Lightning Fury Amazon
- Orb Sorceress (or possibly Meteorb - see the sorceress forum for more details on sorceress variations)
- Blessed Hammer Paladin (aka Hammerdin)
The most important considerations for your first character should be, in this order - Life, Resists, Damage, Defence and Attack Rating (if melee).
Important attributes to look for on your character should be mana/life leech (melee chars only), +mana/energy (spellcasters only), as well as anything with good resists.
If you are having trouble reaching Act 5, consider trying out a shapeshifting druid or a barbarian, both of whom benefit from having lots of life, far more than most other characters. This gives you a greater chance of survival and the ability to get yourself out of difficult situations without as much fear of dying.
Once you feel you've got the hang of Hardcore, feel free to experiment with new characters and builds. Above all, have fun! This is a great game, and Hardcore is undoubtedly one of the most fun experiences you can have in it.
3.2 How do I avoid dying?
This is the eternal question of Hardcore play, and again, one for which there is no correct answer. Avoiding Death in Hardcore is all about calculated risks…knowing your character, knowing its limits; knowing when to fight, and when to pull a Rincewind and run away screaming. Play sensibly in Hardcore, and you will live longer. Most of this guide is full of advice to avoid dying, so in effect, this question is answered throughout the FAQ.
Here are a few brief tips though to increase your chances of survival:
- Use a four-slot belt (4x4) and always keep it stocked with at least one slot of Rejuvenation Potions, preferably Full Rejuvenation Potions. Rejuvenation potions can be found, or they can be made in the Horadric Cube with 3 healing potions + 3 mana potions + any chipped gem. Full Rejuvenation Potions require 3 healing potions + 3 mana potions + any normal gem. You can also make Full Rejuvenation Potions by transmuting 3 small rejuvination potions in your Horadric Cube.
- Maintain a high level of Life Leech (for melee characters) if possible, to refill your life pool in just a few hits. If you are running out of potions, leech can often save your life until you can hack your way out of danger.
- Items with Knockback, Slow, and cold damage are also invaluable to a melee class, as they handicap the monsters severely, and gives you a much greater chance of being able to get away if you find yourself in trouble.
3.3 What skills should I use?
This question doesn't need much answering, as a good skill in Softcore is a good skill in Hardcore. All you need to do differently in Hardcore is perhaps give more thought to skills that assist your survival, such as pumping Holy Shield before you start maxing out Fanaticism, as in the case of the Paladin.
3.4 How should I allocate my Stat Points?
Unlike skills, stat allocation in Softcore and Hardcore differ widely. In Softcore, it can be said that your stat allocation is designed to give you the best possible equipment setup, combined with a reasonable endurance to death (although some deaths are to be expected). In Hardcore, death is not an option. I know it sound like something out of the Marines, but that's the way it is. Survival is paramount and everything else is subservient to the continued wellbeing of your character. Stat points play a huge role in how well your character is going to be equipped to deal with the rigors and trials of the game.
There are two basic ideas on how to distribute your stat points:
The first is to gradually build up your strength/dexterity (depending on what your character class needs), while putting most of your points in vitality. This build ensures you maintain a high life pool, at the expense of your equipment setup. You may have to wait until the mid 40's or later before you have sufficient strength and dexterity to start equipping the really nice items.
The second is a high risk, high yield strategy, that requires some planning beforehand to execute properly. Before starting your character, you plan out what you are going to be wearing equipment-wise, and work out the level and stat requirements of each of your items. You then put all your points into strength and dexterity, aiming to reach the requirements for each item at the same time your character level allows you to wear it. Any surplus points go to your vitality. The shortfall in your life pool is made up for by wearing lots of +life gear, such as mammoth/colossus/squid/whale etc, or by using socketed equipment with rubies. The only downside is that your life may be a little low, but if you think you can survive, then go for it.
As a final note, the second strategy mainly applies to melee characters, as character classes like sorceresses and necromancers rely less on high item requirements, putting most of their points into vitality.
3.5 How important are my Resists?
Resists are arguably the most important aspect of your character build, especially once you get to late Normal and Nightmare difficulties. By this stage, the monsters are starting to become more powerful, and their elemental attacks can REALLY hurt. Even with 400 life, a Lightning-Enchanted or Cold-Enchanted monster in Act 5 Normal can easily chew through that if your resistances are not up to par. It is difficult to say which of your resistances is the most important, as each act tends to have monsters using one main elemental attack, with the others only cropping up occasionally. Act 2 for example calls for high poison resist, whereas Act 3 calls for fire resist. When it comes down to the crunch though, it is far better in Hardcore to try and have all your resists up at reasonably high levels, if not maxed. A 3 socketed shield filled with perfect diamonds is good, as well as the shield runeword Ancient's Pledge (RalOrtTal) for a quick and easy boost to your resistances. If you equip one of those two, you should not have a problem with your resistances until you reach Nightmare, where the resistance penalty becomes a real problem.
Often in Nightmare and Hell you will find you have to sacrifice wearing godly armour or other such items, for a less powerful one with better resists. The one thing that you should never change for one with better resistances is your weapon; a drop in your killing power can be just as lethal.
For melee characters, resistances are life and death, for characters using ranged attacks or relying on minions, they are not as important, but should still play an integral part in your character's development.