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Video Game / Diablo

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"Stay a while and listen."
Deckard Cain

Diablo is an isometric Action RPG Hack and Slash game series from Blizzard Entertainment.

Notorious for having an elaborate backstory which nobody follows concerning a war between Heaven and Hell, Diablo is a huge dungeon crawl consisting of 16 floors of increasing difficulty under the old cathedral of Tristram, the only town in the game, where NPCs provide you with quests, healing, or equipment. The player has three characters to choose from: Warrior, Rogue, or Sorcerer. The goal is to reach the Final Boss, Diablo, at the very bottom of the dungeon and kill him.

As a sort of simple graphical roguelike, the pursuit of the perfect randomly-generated equipment and character build is the main draw.

The non-canonical third-party expansion pack Hellfire added eight new levels and four new quests: namely, a quest to kill another Diablo-esque baddie in the crypt near the church, a quest from Lester the farmer, a cow quest, and a quest to retrieve a teddy bear. Three more characters were also added: Monk, Bard and Barbarian. But you have to edit a text file to unlock two of those quests and characters.


The game spawned a heap of Sequels and Expanded Universe including:

Comic Books


Other Games

Tabletop Games

Western Animation

Meanwhile, the developers of the first two Diablo games, Blizzard North, resigned en masse and formed "Flagship Studios", which continued to produce Hack and Slash games, specifically Hellgate: London and Mythos. After Flagship folded, the same people formed "Runic Games", which produced Torchlight. All three titles can be considered Spiritual Successors to Diablo; they certainly all play similarly.

See also Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and its spiritual successor Champions of Norrath. A character sheet and a synopsis page are in the works.

The original Diablo, after being out of circulation for years, has been re-released on GOG.

Tropes found in the entire series:

  • Adventure-Friendly World: In the world of Diablo most of the magical equipment you come by (barring some made using ancient relics) was forged by the demons for use in their wars. The events of the first game created a bustling trade from adventurers dredging the items up from the demons of the cathedral, while most traders in Diablo III admit to getting their goods by stealing, looting corpses, or digging them out of the ground.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid: The series mainly focuses on the Angels and Devils, but some Squid are present in the novels, such as the dreamers, who are stated to come from a dimension beyond both Heaven and Hell, as well as whatever Trag'Oul is (although, he's more of a benevolent squid).
  • Antagonist Title: The titular Diablo is the Big Bad of the game.
  • The Armies of Heaven: In the series all angels are warriors, and they spend all of their time either fighting demons or planning to fight demons. As well, they all seem to be identical except for the five special snowflakes on the Angiris Council and their lieutenants. At least, this is how it was, until the creation of Sanctuary threw a wrench in the Eternal Conflict, leaving the angels to mostly mope about the Heavens in trepidation.
  • Armor Points: When you are hit while wearing armor, there's a chance that your armor's Durability will decrease. When its Durability reaches zero, the armor is destroyed. If you take it to the blacksmith before it's destroyed, he can repair it.
  • Artificial Stupidity: One of the first bosses in the game is the Butcher on the second floor, a demon that will easily, well, butcher you if you try to take him head-on. Fortunately, the game's primitive AI means it's relatively easy to trap him by kiting him into the stairs down to level 3: he'll go into the stair tile and just stop moving if you can get across the back railing from him. After that you can safely peck him to death with spells or a bow.
  • Big Bad: Diablo, the Lord of Terror, is the Big Bad of the series that bears his name, though in Diablo II, he shares this status with his two brothers, Mephisto and Baal, as the "Prime Evils."
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: See Light Is Not Good. With a few exceptions, the forces of Heaven have little to no regard for humanity. At best, they see them as pawns in their war against Hell and at worst they want to completely wipe out Sanctuary because it is part demonic.
  • Building of Adventure: The series tends to have these. The original had all its action take place in the Tristram Cathedral and its various basements.
  • Continuity Snarl / Retcon: There are several inconsistencies across the series, although most players pay so little attention to the story that they won't realise it.
    • The writings of Abd al-Hazir say that the Tristram Cathedral was built around 912 over the vault where Diablo was imprisoned, but Diablo hadn't even been exiled to Sanctuary at that time.
    • The Diablo 1 manual says that after their exile the Three Brothers ravaged the lands of the Far East for countless centuries, but in the game it is stated that they did so for decades. In the current timeline 50 years pass between their exile and capture.
    • Before he came to Khanduras Leoric was originally a northern lord, this has been changed to an eastern lord.
    • In the Sin War trilogy of novels the robes of the order of Dialon are azure, they should be crimson. While the robes of the order of Mephis should be azure instead of black. (To match the color of their Soulstone)
    • There are many errors in Scales of the Serpent, where the statue of Dialon has a hammer instead of tablets and where the one of Bala has tablets instead of a hammer.
    • In Scales of the Serpent, the high priest of Dialon is named Arihan and is said to have had his title for a long time, but in Birthright all the high priests are named (Malic, Herodius and Balthazar) and Arihan isn't part of them.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer
  • Council of Angels: The setting of Sanctuary in which the series takes place primarily concerns a war between demons from the Burning Hells and angels from the High Heavens. The demons are led by the three Prime Evils and the four Lesser Evils, and in the final book of "The Sin War" trilogy, a council of five angels referred to as the Angiris Council decide the fate of the world after the main conflict is over. The angels, by the way, are doing a really lousy job, but then they're kind of jerks anyway, the main exception being Tyrael, the archangel who cast the deciding vote for humanity to continue to exist.
  • Dark Is Evil: All the Prime Evils and demons.

Tropes found in Diablo I:

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    A - F 
  • Ability Required to Proceed: In Hellfire (an expansion pack to the original game), you cannot reach the insect hive until the farmer character knows you well enough to talk to you about his problems (be level 15+) and then he will give you the explosives you need to create an entrance to the hive.
  • Action Girl: The Rogue, who can be an archer, a mage or a melee fighter, depending on how you build her.
  • The Alcoholic: Farnham the Drunk, a comedic character who actually has a tragic side to him; he had to watch most of his friends get slaughtered during a raid in the dungeons. He lost his mind and fell to drink soon after being one of the only survivors of those who followed the treacherous Lazarus into the Cathedral.
  • All There in the Manual: Background information for much of the series is not actually in the game, though you do get plenty of tidbits from NPCs. The Diablo manual contained most of the plot and backstories of all the races and units. This includes a very vivid description of a little boy being transformed into Diablo.
  • Almost Dead Guy: The dying villager at the entrance to the Church that begins the "Butcher" quest in Diablo. Since he'll hang on forever as long as you don't speak to him, and you don't actually need to speak with him to deal with the Butcher, some players simply ignore him in order to save his life.
  • Ancient Tomb: The cathedral holds many free-standing stone coffins, many of which contain skeletons that will attack you. And then there is an entire level called The Tomb of King Leoric, which is not particularly ancient, but is still crawling with skeletons.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The Diablo Warrior. You know that somewhere during his voyage to the East, he realized that Diablo has more and more control over him, and that instead of seeking salvation, Diablo will make him free another Prime Evil.
    • Inarius the angel. Mephisto tore the wings from his back, sliced open his eyelids, and sealed him in a prison of mirrors. He's got nothing to do for the rest of eternity except gaze upon the reflection of his ruined form.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: At the end of Diablo, the hero defeats Diablo and jams its soulstone in his/her own forehead to contain it. This results in the hero becoming the new Big Bad in Diablo 2. This was later retconned in Diablo 2 by saying that said hero was more or less mindraped into doing so; the sequel also makes it explicit that the Warrior was the character to defeat and contain Diablo, while the Rogue and the Sorcerer were ultimately corrupted by Diablo's influence to become Blood Raven and The Summoner respectively.
  • Animate Dead: Justified on the website. Evidently skeletons are actually dirt and bone dust held together by magic, rather than actual skeletons.
  • Antagonist Title: It even provides the image for the trope page.
  • Anti-Grinding: Each floor had a finite number of enemies, limiting experience and item acquisition. Although it's obvious fast enough that you can still grind by starting a new game with the same character, resetting the entire dungeon bosses and all.
  • Area of Effect: Diablo and Diablo II feature lots of spells and effects with a circular hit radius, like Nova and its counterparts of other elements (including Diablo's Fire Nova), the Sorceress's Static Field (drops every nearby enemy's HP by a direct percentage), the Necromancer's Corpse Explosion and curses, the Barbarian's Warcries (both the buffing and de-buffing ones), and the Paladin's auras.
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix: In a roundabout way. A character's ability to wear a piece of armor (aside from level and any specific class restrictions on an item) more often than not depends on how many stat points are in STR. The result is that the 'pure' mage class (the sorcerer) can't wear the heaviest armor because the player has likely put most of their stat points into INT (and hasn't bothered with much in the way of +STR enchantments). In other words, they can't wear the armor because they're squishy, and they're squishy because they train their minds more than their bodies. Additionally, the first game gives sorcerers the lowest STR cap of any class, further restricting what armors they can equip.
  • The Artful Dodger: Wirt, who deals in illicit goods and has perhaps the saddest backstory of the entire first game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Diablo has a LOT of spells that are cool but useless. Town Portal can be learned as a spell, but you're very likely to find a scroll anyway. Couple that with the fact you have to learn it multiple times to reduce the mana cost to reasonable levels (especially for the Warrior) and, well... Likewise, Healing is a lot less useful than just slugging back a potion, and the unique ability each class has will see use only on the far side of never.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Diablo ends with the Big Bad successfully convincing the hero to make a Heroic Sacrifice and become the can to seal the evil in, which in Diablo II proves to be a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • Beating A Dead Player: Enemies will hack away at your corpse until you restart.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: King Leoric went from a righteous and noble king to a bloody-handed madman and eventual undead abomination by the time that Diablo and his Evil Chancellor Lazarus got through with him.
  • Big Red Devil: Guess who?
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tristram ends up a shadow of its former self, with most of its townsfolk either executed by King Leoric or slaughtered by the Butcher. But at least King Leoric has been laid to rest, Lazarus is dead, and the power of Diablo is contained... for now. Only the next game's Cerebus Retcon turns it into a Downer Ending.
  • The Blacksmith: Griswold repairs your weapons and armor and buys and sells them as well.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The first half of the game revolves around working your way down through a cathedral's basements and catacombs.
  • Bloody Bowels of Hell: Hell consisted of what seems to be bony walls filled with blood. The Nest in Hellfire was even more organic, but less infernal.
  • Boring Return Journey: Not only the Town Portal spell, but all the action takes place underneath the same town. Every now and then you'll find a secret passage that takes you right back to the surface.
  • Boss Banter: Four bosses (the Butcher, the Warlord of Blood, the Archbishop, and Diablo himself) have set phrases that they say when you encounter them. King Leoric speaks to you when you enter his tomb.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Interestingly, Diablo himself, the final boss of the game, is treated as a regular mook ('white' name instead of the expected 'gold') known simply as "The Dark Lord".
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Good for general strategy purposes, but the cumbersome nature of switching weapons makes it a poor 'quick switch' tactic. This is also popular for dealing with the early boss, The Butcher, who is a big jump in difficulty for that level, but is incapable of opening doors, even one next to fenced gaps in the walls.
    • Warriors might want to hang onto a decent bow for certain situations, some ranged enemies constantly run away and whittle you down, and few monsters can open doors, so you can usually snipe them through the 'windows' and take no damage in return.
    • Rogues are masters of the bow, but there are times a Sword+Shield can be handy as well.
  • Breakable Power-Up: In multiplayer, upon death all of a character's equipped items are dropped on the ground where they died, usually making retrieval quite difficult. A set of back-up gear (or a handy friend) are highly recommended.
  • Breakable Weapons: Using the repair skill at lower levels fixes the weapon, but lowers its maximum durability number, meaning it needs fixing again sooner. Also, items reduced to zero Durability are destroyed, making low durability items like the Thinking Cap very tedious to use. However, there are shrines in the game that raise maximum durability, and making use of the Thinking Cap item (which has 1 durability) to start with almost requires exploiting these shrines.
  • Breakout Villain: Old game it may be, there are some bosses that becomes really memorable that they may end up getting re-used for future titles.
    • The Butcher is just the first boss of the game, but he's become nearly as iconic as Diablo himself as far as villains go, thanks to being the first really difficult enemy to contend with (and his "Aaah, Fresh Meat!" sound byte considered really terrifying for its age), so much that he returns in Diablo III with new designs and tricks, and then confirmed for Heroes of the Storm.
    • Likewise, next in line of those bosses is King Leoric the Skeleton King. He also returns in III and he's next to enter Heroes of the Storm after the Butcher. He's also popular enough by fandom to get included in Defense of the Ancients and Blizzard cared enough for his image, leading to the lawsuit against Valve and the latter ends up having to change their Skeleton King into Wraith King.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The hero winds up with a case of The Virus, since the only way he could come up with to utterly stop the Lord of Evil was to shove a chunk of it into his face.
  • The Butcher: A powerful boss demon which you can be confronted with.
    "Aaaah, Fresh Meat!"
  • The Caligula: King Leoric of Khanduras was once a just and noble king, but was driven mad by Diablo's attempt to take him over. When his Evil Chancellor, Archbishop Lazarus, kidnapped his youngest son Albrecht to be made a vessel for Diablo, Leoric lost it completely and fell into this trope's territory, having many people tortured and executed, up to and including his own queen, out of paranoia, an event that would come to be known in Tristram as "the Darkening." Leoric was slain by the captain of his army, Lachdanan, who could no longer bear to see his people suffer under his liege's madness. Unfortunately for Lachdanan, his knights, and Tristram, the story did not end there.
  • Cannibal Larder: The Butcher's room is covered in blood and features corpses hanging from hooks on the walls.
  • Chain Lightning: The spell called "Chain Lightning" isn't actually chain lightning. Instead, it shoots piercing lightning bolts at all enemies within range. It can do quite massive damage against tightly packed enemies, but is also prone to making 'gaps' if too many enemies are in range.
  • Chaos Architecture: The labyrinthine catacombs to Hell with their dead ends and lava caves under the cathedral in Tristram weren't built that way. They were perfectly normal catacombs that just happened to imprison a Prime Evil, who took over.
  • Chewing the Scenery: The voice actress Lani Minella is no stranger to huge portions of Large Ham. Listen to her voice acting as Adria.
    Adria: The Butcher IS A SADISTIC CREATURE...
  • Choice of Two Weapons: It's a fairly good idea to have this set up. Warriors occasionally find themselves needing to shoot at something (or, in the case of enemies trapped on the opposite sides of portcullises, want to pick enemies off at a distance.) A rogue often finds herself needing to resort to hand-to-hand if fast enemies are encroaching, so having a sword and shield and the strength to use both available helps. Straying out of Bow and Sword, in Accord and into Magic Knight, magic is helpful to the rogue as well, though the warrior's maximum magic is low that it's rarely worth his while. The sorcerer is pretty damn awful with the bow, and does poorly attacking with a sword, but sword+shield on a sorcerer is usually preferred for the extra set of enchantments on the equipment.
  • The Chosen Many: In all the games, all of the classes are canonically involved in the quest, regardless of which one the player chooses, though the player never meets the others in a single-player campaign.
  • Chupacabra: A Scavenger-type boss monster named El Chupacabras.
  • Class and Level System: You select one of several different character classes, but how you develop the character is up to you. Leveling up gives you five stat points you can add to your strength, dexterity, vitality or magic however you see fit.
    • To a point, every class has the same stat-maximums.
  • Color-Coded Item Tiers: The first game's division between standard (white) items, enchanted (blue) ones and uniques (yellow), may be considered an Ur-Example. The sequels add the green "set" category, where items from the same set are more powerful when used together, and gold or orange tier for uniques, while yellow items become a more powerful tier of "randomly enhanced" blue items.
  • Comically Missing the Point: If you ask Farnham The Alcoholic about the tainted water supply during the associated quest, all you'll get is a scoff and "You drink water?"
  • Compilation Rerelease: The Diablo Battle Chest, which includes both the first two Diablo games and the second game's expansion pack Lord of Destruction.
  • Concept Art Gallery: The game manuals themselves for the two first games had pages of concept art and background stuck in between everything else.
  • Continuing is Painful: Dying (in multiplayer) results in you dropping all your items on the ground until you can get them back, provided someone else doesn't gank them in the meantime. Getting to your stuff can be a headache in itself, especially if you died to something really tough or a swarm of them.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The main thread is a straight-up Crapsack World, but the tie-in novels show what it's like when it's not assaulted by Demonic Invaders. It's not actually any better, but it's better at hiding how screwed up it is.
  • Crapsack World: The world of Sanctuary. Well, technically the tie-in novels make it a Crapsaccharine World, but the games themselves focus on what happens when the veil's stripped away, followed three seconds later by the flesh off your skull. The game starts with the noble king of Khandruas going insane and being corrupted and his kingdom being destroyed. Then you have to kill the undead king, plus demons are killing people, the prince has been kidnapped and possessed. After 16 annoying levels you finally make it to the Big Bad, the title archdemon and beat him... except the prince is now dead and you just became Diablo's new, more powerful host.
  • Cross Player: There's a specifically-sexed sprite for each character: male (Warrior, Sorcerer), female (Rogue)
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: The series prides itself for its randomly generated dungeons, and apart from a few carefully-constructed areas (boss levels, the last parts of final dungeons, towns etc.) it manages to avoid this trope completely.
  • Cutscene: The games are renowned for having, at the time of their release, very well-done pre-rendered animation.
  • Cycle of Hurting:
    • Getting hit with enough damage will stun you (or an enemy) and you can get stunned repeatedly which leads to a stunlock. Avoiding stunlock is pretty much the basis of all warrior's strategies, and is important to ALL chars. If you do get stunlocked, all you can do is mash healing potions hoping for a chain of misses. Meanwhile, your equipment was taking damage along with you, could break completely in just a few seconds once the durability alarm appears, and once broken would vanish forever. But then this is the game where clicking the wrong shrine takes away mana permanently and some monsters cause permanent life damage, so it's fair.
    • On the bright side, this makes even the boss fight against Diablo a cinch. To elaborate: monsters can get stunned by spells they are not resistant to, usually dooming them because the cast speed of any character that wants to cast spells exceeds the hit recovery speed of the monster, but past the midgame just about everything is indeed resistant (or immune) to everything. Well, except Diablo himself, who for some reason is the only non-undead in the whole game that can be hit by the lowly Holy Bolt spell. And Holy Bolt deals pure damage that cannot be resisted...
  • Darker and Edgier: The first game is this compared to the sequels. Granted, the plot of all three games is fairly bleak (although the third installment is more cheerful overall, particularly in the ending) and Sanctuary remains a Crapsack World, but:
    • The limited scale of the first game, taking place only in one dark, subterranean location, without the sweeping fields/deserts/whatnot of the sequels, makes it feel more personal.
    • A sense of isolation is particularly present in the single-player - there are no NPC companions, in contrast to the sequels, and the number of friendly NPC in the entire game in general can be counted on one hand. Once your character descends to the dungeon, it's you alone against the demonic horde in the darkness...
    • The early game in Diablo is considerably more punishing than in both sequels, making your character -at early levels- look less like the archetypical world-saving hero and more like the average guy (well, average adventurer, at least...).
    • Even further enhanced by the more "realistic", dark art style of the game, which would not look out of place in a game like Darklands, had the latter been made a few years later - in contrast to the varied and colorful locations of D2, much less the even more colorful, slightly cartoonish signature art of WoW-era Blizzard found in D3.
    • All of this combined, plus the near-total lack of the trademark (again, WoW-era Blizzard) humor of the company, makes it the grimmest installment in a series that is sufficiently dark as such.
    • Diablo 4 is returning to its roots as a 'Dark Diablo'. The trailers imply that civilization has backpedaled from its post-medieval days in D3, to a near-dead wasteland of isolated, dying communities.
  • Dark Fantasy: Quite.
  • Deconstruction: The series as a whole is one to Heroic Fantasy. No matter how hard you fight, no matter how many hellspawn you slay, the Great Evils will always be one step ahead of you, your actions will, more often than not, help them with their goals, and they will always succeed in their plans and get what they want, even in death. Always.
  • Death of a Child: The story states that Diablo possessed a young prince's body. When Diablo is finally defeated in the end of the first game, his body turns back into that of the dead prince.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: "Pulling".
  • Degraded Boss:
    • The Butcher is an Overlord demon and a challenging boss early on, but later you can dispatch countless Overlords who are even stronger, albeit without the cleaver.
    • Zhar the Mad appears halfway through the game as a boss. Dark mage type enemies resembling him are later found in the final Hell levels.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons are a common foe in the early levels
  • Demonic Possession: Diablo: Diablo has possessed Prince Albrecht, the Warrior's little brother. And the ending? The player character gets possessed after he got tricked into inserting the dark Soul Stone unto his forehead.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: The Seven Great Evils: The Prime Evils Diablo, Mephisto, and Baal, and the Lesser Evils Andariel, Duriel, Belial, and Asmodan. Diablo is the only one you face in the first game; the rest come into play in the sequels.
  • Demon Slaying: You will be doing this a lot in this series.
  • Devil, but No God: Averted. There isn't a devil either. In Hell you have the Three Prime Evils and their four lieutenants, and in Heaven you have the Angelic Council. Sanctuary itself was created by a relationship between an angel and demon. But there used to be both.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The game ends with you killing Diablo and ramming his soulstone into your own head so you can contain him with your mind. It did not work so well. In fact, Diablo possessed the hero and used his power to strengthen himself so he could escape the dungeon and revive the other Prime Evils.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The whole point of the games, although how said punching out actually ends up turning out sets up the stories of the sequels.
  • Doesn't Trust Those Guys: Among drunkard Farnham's words of wisdom: "I've never seen [Adria the witch] eat or drink, and you can't trust somebody who doesn't drink at least a little." Well...
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Diablo is a case with both player and monsters suffering from this.
  • Doomed Home Town: Tristram. Especially in light of later games. It's bad enough that the trio of heroes that fought against Diablo wind up succumbing to a Face–Heel Turn, but for even more tragic points, with the exception of Deckard Cain, Gillian, and Adria, nobody in Tristram survives. Of those three, two meet their ends in Diablo III (even if one of them very much deserved it!) and the third, according to supplemental materials, got a case of Sanity Slippage.
  • Doomed Protagonist: The ending strongly implies this of the hero, who has rammed the soulstone into his or her own head to attempt to contain Diablo's evil. Diablo II makes very clear how bad an idea this was.
  • Door of Doom: Diablo has this in spades. Lets you go to hell with horrors at the other end.
  • Door to Before: There's a staircase/hole/bigger hole to each of the main areas.
  • The Dreaded: Diablo, the antagonist of the series. Appropriate, given that he's the Lord of Terror.
  • Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer: Diablo is almost MMORPG-like, with players able to join and leave at will, form into (informal) parties.
  • Dual Wielding: The Bard had a crude form of it; they reused the Rogue animations so she's only ever shown holding one sword, but gets double damage and the ability to hit multiple enemies simultaneously when equipped with two.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: In the ending, after the hero has fought through hundreds of monsters and finally defeated the Big Bad, what does he get? He shoves Diablo's Soulstone into his own forehead, which causes him to become Diablo in the second game. Justified in that it is a Crapsack World where No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
  • Dungeon-Based Economy: Played with and ultimately inverted. An otherwise normal village was made capital of its country because its local church housed one of the lords of Hell in a secret catacomb. The Prime Evil gradually corrupted the king, who bent the kingdom to ruin, but for a while, the town did well by selling to adventurers venturing into the church to fight demons. by the sequels, however, the demons had overrun the town and killed everyone.
  • Dungeon Bypass: As a game with randomly generated dungeons, it will occasionally end up generating a floor's exit right next to its entrance. You can't bypass the entire dungeon this way, but you pretty much end up bypassing that floor. One speedrunner takes advantage of this feature to finish the first game in a matter of minutes, by reloading every time the next floor wasn't laid out this way.
  • Dungeon Crawling: The series, which began life as a Roguelike which had you killing demons and undead in a sixteen-level dungeon and ultimately became the Hack and Slash series we know and love today.
  • Durable Deathtrap: Diablo doesn't have many traps of the classic variety, but a common baffling feature of dungeons is skeletons inside barrels. Who put the skeleton in there? Why hasn't the skeleton broken out? If the skeleton put himself in there so he could ambush you, why does he always wait to show himself until you've broken open the barrel and the skeleton is directly in the path of your weapon?
    • The manual states they were people who were sealed in barrels to die. As for why they hadn't broken out and wait until you destroy the barrels...
  • Dying as Yourself: Poor Albrecht...
  • Dying Curse: Lachdanan and his knights are cursed to eternal damnation by King Leoric, whom they were forced to slay to put an end to his madness.
    King Leoric: Traitors! Even in death, the armies of Khanduras will still obey their king! Even if you will not...
  • Dying Town: Tristram is slowly but surely decaying away as Diablo's influence spreads.
  • Early-Bird Boss: The Butcher. Early level players will get, well, butchered the first time they fight the dude, although fortunately you don't actually have to kill him the first moment you see his lair and you can wait until you're some levels higher, because you'd need a pretty high Dexterity level to be able to trade blows with him in melee. He can even be literally impossible for some characters when they first meet him, as he regenerates health too fast to kill.
  • Early Game Hell: The hardest boss is the Butcher, encountered at level 2 and quite capable of surviving all your mana potions and staff charges and killing you in two hits.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Diablo was markedly different from its sequels. Aside from the expected differences in scope, lore, balance and gameplay features, the first game was much more survival oriented and featured several instances of NetHack-style permanent character damage. Shrine effects were irreversible and not all were positive, and there was a monster that would permanently reduce your maximum life. When you died in multiplayer mode, all your gear would end up on the ground and would be lost forever if you were unable to recover it. This would be unthinkable in the sequels which revolve around Min-Maxing character builds and Item Farming.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Boss fights in the series are often a lot more difficult than the areas before or after them. The Butcher set the trend.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: Used with the armors.
  • Elemental Crafting: Diablo has this in a slightly unusual form; they have a rather standard set of metals and gems, but mechanically they're treated like any other magical item power, so an "Iron Short Sword" or "Bronze Dagger" is considered a magic item by the game. In the original Diablo, the useful metals are Bronze < Iron < Steel < Silver < Gold < Platinum < Mithril < Meteoric; the negative ones are Tin and Brass. Gems provide elemental resistances; Topaz < Amber < Jade < Obsidian < Emerald give across-the-board resistance to everything. The specific resistances are colors (Red and Crimson for fire, White for magic, Blue for lightning, etc.) at the lower levels, but become gems when more powerful; Pearl < Ivory < Crystal < Diamond for resistance to general 'magic', Garnet < Ruby for fire, Lapis < Cobalt (OK, it's a metal, not a gem) < Sapphire for lightning.
  • Elemental Powers: There are three types of magic damage/resistances: Fire, Lightning, and Magic. Four types if you want to count Holy Bolt and Apocalypse (neither can be resisted).
  • Elemental Weapon: A staple of the games. In Diablo, they can come with elemental powers.
  • Elite Mook: Quite literally. Elite mooks basically have a different colored name, more hit points, maybe a new power, and drop better loot. Otherwise, they're mostly the same as a normal monster. They also tend to be surrounded by a cadre of their type, which get extra HP and possibly share the unique ability/AI of the boss.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: The tie-in novel "The Kingdom of Shadow" centers around this, coupled with Crapsaccharine World.
  • Enemy Civil War: Two lesser demon lords made a pact to overthrow the three greatest ones in one civil war, and afterward they started another civil war between them.
  • Escape Rope:
    • The Town Portal spell, which takes you to a specific spot in Tristram (sensible as it's the only town) and is a fairly low level spell that has the same effect no matter what your stats are, so even non magic-focused character builds could learn it. Scrolls would also drop fairly regularly.
    • Hellfire added the Warp spell, which teleported you towards the nearest stairs. At best, it was a free escape from whatever battle you were in, at least unless the game was killing you the way it usually did or a free ride across half of the map. At worst, you were back where you started and had to walk across half of the map again.
  • Ethnic Magician: A black sorcerer and two white warrior types as player characters.
  • Everyone Has a Special Move: The three player characters in the original game had unique special abilities (item repair for Warrior, trap disarm for Rogue, and staff recharge for Sorcerer), while basically sharing the pool of abilities they could theoretically learn.
  • Evil Chancellor: Archbishop Lazarus was this to King Leoric of Khanduras. He was corrupted by Diablo long ago, and not only influenced him for the worse when the archdemon in question tried to take him over, but was responsible for many of the knights of Khanduras being killed in a war with Westmarch, the luring of many adventurers into the Tristram Cathedral to be murdered by the demonic Butcher, and the kidnapping of Prince Albrecht, Leoric's youngest son, to be a vessel for Diablo.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Upon entering the catacombs, the main character comments, "The smell of death surrounds me."
  • Evil Sounds Deep: No matter what game he's in, Diablo rocks the evil demonic voice.
  • Expanded Universe: A number of novels penned in the world of Sanctuary, including the Word of God canonized Sin War Trilogy starring the Sanctuary equivalent of Heracles/Jesus set thousands and thousands of years before the games take place.
  • Expansion Pack: Hellfire was an official expansion, but it was made by a third party and was pretty sloppy in quality.
  • Exploding Barrels
  • Eye Motifs: The seal of the Horadrim order includes what could be a pair of very stylised eyes, dripping, within a triangle.
  • Eye Scream: In the intro, you see a close up of a crow picking out the eye of a decaying body. While not looking too realistic by today's CGI standards, that was a pretty unpleasant scene at the time of release.
  • Fallen Angel: Izual, Inarius, Imperius, and probably others. The apparent lack of any Ascended Demons bodes ill for the fate of the setting.
  • Fanservice: Unlike her basic in-game sprite in which she has leather body armor, in the manual the Rogue is wearing a belly-baring bustier whose cut makes it clear that it's all she's wearing up there and a loincloth that only just reveals that she's wearing something under it.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Angel Imperius displays this in the Expanded Universe. Even Tyrael shared his prejudice before Uldyssian's Heroic Sacrifice showed him that humanity was capable of nobility and virtue.
  • Fantasy World Map: Sanctuary's a constantly changing place, though, since none of the maps looked like the other. The map, which is supposed to be of the same continent over a span of about thirty years, changes rather drastically from one game to the next.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: Goatmen, which are actually demons and not related to either goats or humans (or, at least, they weren't originally; Diablo III retconned it).
  • Female Angel, Male Demon: Diablo has a picture of a male demon and a female angel for the health and mana orbs respectively. This doesn't apply to the lore though, as both Angels and Demons are shown have both male and female, with mostly male characters being portrayed for both. The backstory, on the other hand, inverts it with Star-Crossed Lovers Inarius and Lilith, with the former being a male angel and the latter being a female demon.
    • Zigzagged with Imperius and Diablo. Both prefer male forms throughout the series, but Diablo possesses the female Leah, and later takes on some female features, such as slimmer waist and wider hips and chest.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Played completely straight, with the Warrior, Sorcerer, and Rogue, respectively.
  • Fireballs: It has fire magic in it after all so that's almost compulsory.
  • First Town: Tristram, was in fact the only town in the game.
  • Flavor Text: The games are full of Flavor Text.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: Evilly subverted. Azmodan pulls this with himself and his forces, sealing himself away until the heroes who defeated his fellow Prime Evils would be unable to stop him.
  • Follow the Leader: The series created its own genre called "Diablo clones" (Torchlight, Dungeon Siege, Untold Legends, etc.), and was itself a graphical spin on another fine tradition in Follow The Leader: Roguelike games, of which NetHack is the most popular.
  • Foreign Language Title: "Diablo" is Spanish for "devil".
  • Forever War: The ongoing war between Heaven and Hell, which is even called the Eternal Conflict. The period where angels and demons fought in the mortal realm of Sanctuary was called the Sin War, and it only ended when Uldyssian, a nephalem (one of the offspring of renegade angels and demons who were the ancestors of humanity), sacrificed himself for the sake of humanity.
  • Friend in the Black Market: That little snotrag Wirt.
  • Friend or Foe: Friendly fire is enabled.
  • From Bad to Worse: Diablo driving King Leoric of Khanduras insane, bringing him back as a powerful skeletal demon, and then possessing his youngest son Albrecht. He then Mind Controls the hero of the first game, who it turns out is the King's older son Aidan, into sticking the piece of Diablo's soulstone into his own head.

    G - L 
  • Giant Mook: The horned demons appearing halfway through the game, and megademons on the later levels that are quite deadly and come in large numbers.
  • Gratuitous Latin: The bestiary in the manual gives the Latin names of all the enemies.
  • Grid Inventory: Diablo virtually named this trope.
  • God is Dead: It doesn't come up much, but Anu and Tathamet - local stand ins for [[God]] and the Devil respectively - battled eons ago until they achieved a mutual kill. Anu's corpses became the High Heavens and Tathamet's became the Burning Hells, which gave rise to the angels and demons respectively. Though neither had a hand in creating Sanctuary or humanity except indirectly. They were initially one being until Anu decided to purify himself of all evil, creating Tathamet.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: The first game has a similar arrangement, with a female Rogue who functions best as an archer, and a male warrior. The male sorcerer mostly just fireballs things though.
  • Healing Spring: Blood fountains and purifying springs, which provide an endless supply of health or mana at a rate of ONE POINT PER CLICK. Keep in mind a high level character will have hundreds of points in either stat.
  • Heart Drive: The Soulstones have a nasty tendency to get used as these by the demons corrupting them, complete with taking over new hosts.
  • Heaven Versus Hell: The entire conflict of the story is a battle between the High Heavens led by the Angiris Council and the Burning Hells led by the Seven Great Evils.
  • Hell: The games use Hell and an attempt to stop a demonic invasion in their stories. Diablo features the catacombs of Tristram's cathedral eventually warping into a Hellish landscape.
  • Hellgate: Reality is warped the deeper you go, until you actually enter Hell.
  • Heroic Fantasy: The game takes place in a world called Sanctuary that was created by rogue angels and demons.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Every protagonist. No exceptions. The manual foreshadows it with a prominent use of Nietzsche's quote.
  • Hide Your Children: In Diablo, there is a peg-legged young boy in Tristram named Wirt with whom you can "gamble" to buy items. He's the only child seen during the entire game; the manual and NPC dialog indicate that all the other children have already been killed by the demons.
  • Horny Devils: Diablo has an army of succubi. Albeit, they're not particularly sexual creatures, rather color-coded, fireball-flinging, batwinged, naked women.
  • Hot Bar: There's a hotbar where you can assign potions (perhaps most importantly, healing potions) and spell-scrolls.
  • Hub Level: The town of Tristram, where you were given quests and sold loot.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: The games have different inventory areas, each with a different amount of limited space, that represent easily-accessed belt pouches, holding space in a backpack, a treasure chest in town, etc. You still never see this backpack, and it can comfortably hold multiple suits of full plate armor.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Normal, Nightmare, and Hell difficulty levels; the game tried to make them multiplayer-exclusive, though there's a Good Bad Bug to get around that.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Used rather cleverly in the first game: killing its human host doesn't affect Diablo at all, so the hero tries to imprison the Lord of Terror in his own body. It doesn't work, and by the end of the second game he literally becomes Diablo.
  • Immune to Flinching: If you take more damage than your health, you won't get stunned. Because of this, combining the Mana Shield with low enough max health can make you completely immune to stun.
  • Informed Equipment: Despite the variety of different swords/staves/armor/shields/etc... the character models only have 3 main looks depending on if their armor is light, medium, or heavy. All weapons on model look identical for a given class of armor. This is particularly notable when you equip, say, a 2-handed sword and the character still swings a 1-handed sword like always.
  • Informing the Fourth Wall:
    • Whenever the player tries to make his/her avatar do something that it can't, it'll explain why:
      There's no room!
      I gotta pawn some of this stuff!
      Not enough mana!
    • More humorously, if the player clicks on a cow over and over, the avatar will confidently state: "Yup, that's a cow, all right." "I'm not thirsty." "I am no milkmaid."
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: Tristram is delimited by these on all four sides.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Trying to juggle between armor, weapons, potions, scrolls, and money could make for a very challenging time. Sure, money stacked, but the richer you were, the less room you had left in your inventory. Even worse, due to a glitch it became impossible to buy the most expensive possible shop armor in the game because carrying enough gold to pay for it meant there wasn't enough room for the item itself!
  • Invincible Villain: The series takes this trope and run with it Up to Eleven: for the first two games and most of the third game, all you character does by trying to defeat the Great Evils usually only ends up helping them in some way, to the point that the first game actually ends with Diablo winning anyway despite his death at the hands of the hero.
  • Invisible Monsters: The genuinely creepy The Unseen, which do come visible when they attack, but before that could fill the entire room without you knowing it. Also, due to a bug in the level generation routine, they do not respect the safe zone around the entrance. So when you just arrived in the level and you are gathering your bearings, casting Mana Shield, checking item durability, etc., they could be right behind you, getting closer. And if this is multiplayer mode, your gear is now on the floor next to a sea of enemies right at the stairs.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Played straight in the two first games, when the player character, on his way to killing demons that threatened a small town or destroyed it and overran the world, also can collect medicinal herbs for people suffering from random diseases, recover heirlooms with purely sentimental value, seek out treasure troves completely unrelated to demons, and help a not immediately hostile demon because he offers you a reward.
  • Is Nothing Sacred?: Pepin says that page's quote when you report to him that demons have stolen a sign from someone's home. He is disturbed by the idea that the demons from the labyrinth have become bold enough to have ventured through the village at night.
  • Isometric Projection
  • It Only Works Once: One possible quest is finding the legendary Anvil of Fury. Griswold says that this artifact will allow him to craft many wonderous weapons against the forces of Hell. When you bring it to him, he creates a unique sword for you and that's it, the Anvil of Fury is never used ever again.
  • Just You and Me and My GUARDS!:
    • In single-player Diablo, the Archbishop Lazarus is accompanied by two named witches; while this alone might not count as this trope (seeing as it can be considered a trio of bosses), the pack of Hell Spawn and Advocates that emerge from a disappearing wall does most definitely count.
    • Diablo himself is in a room with lots of high-level mooks, though he can be triggered by way of ranged attacks that leave the mooks out of the fight.
    • Most of the unique monsters tied to quests come with a cohort, notably including The Skeleton King and The Warlord of Blood. All of the regular uniques come as part of a group of regular monsters of their same type, though that's more of an inversion as the mooks come with a boss rather than the boss bringing along some mooks.
  • Keystone Army: In the single player game, all surviving monsters die when Diablo is killed.
  • King Mook: The game may pick several from a selection of Palette Swapped versions of the normal mooks as incidental encounters in the randomly generated dungeons.
  • Large Ham: All the NPC characters to some degree; given their limited sprites, their voice actors had to compensate. Adria takes the cake, though; all her lines are chock full of portentous pseudo-wisdom, and delivered in a thunderous, over-dramatic voice.
  • Last of His Kind: Deckard Cain is the last of the Horadrim.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: The Diablo series introduced the colouring of items that has since become standard in many RPGs. In Diablo, white was normal, blue magic and yellow unique.
  • The Legions of Hell: Numerous and diverse in this series. You will be fighting them a lot.
  • Level Drain: Yellow zombies (the "Black Death" variant), which permanently reduced your max HP every time they landed a successful hit. And certain Shrines would permanently reduce your max mana.
  • Level-Map Display: Especially necessary given that the maps are randomized.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: This occurs in Diablo and the sequels, where both your health and mana is restored on leveling.
  • Life Drain: One possible weapon special ability is healing your character when you damage opponents.
  • Life Meter: The Life Meter takes the form of a globe filled with red liquid, the same color as the life potions.
  • Limited-Use Magical Device: Most spells are available in one-use scroll form as well as in Spell Book form, which teaches the spell to the reader permanently (or increases the level for that spell). The scrolls have lower requirements, making them more usable for the non-mage classes.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Although spells could be learned by anyone with sufficient magic stat points, Warriors and Rogues often found themselves limited in learning capability without high magic-boosting equipment. A few of the game's most useful and powerful bread-and-butter spells often hit the required magic stat requirements way before maximum spell level, forcing non-sorcerers to rely on Enchanted Shrines that are difficult to come by. Additionally, spell damage were also frequently dependent on actual magic stat values. In a game that pretty much taught you to either kill overwhelming odds before they touched you or handle them one at a time (which required you to rely heavily on environment), spell-casting, and consequently the character with inherently superior spell-casting qualities, becomes the staple of endgame strategy.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: There's a particularly egregious example occurring when the player opens the door to the Butcher's room. This was presumably because the game had to access his infamous utterance "Ahh, fresh meat!" on the CD.
  • Long-Range Fighter: The Rogue specializes in archery.
  • Lured into a Trap: Archbishop Lazarus led a group of people from Tristram into the Cathedral to rescue Prince Albrecht, the little boy who he himself made a vessel for the title archdemon. He lured them into the second level, where he left them to die at the hands of the demonic Butcher. Griswold and Farnham were the only survivors of the attack, which left Griswold with a crippled leg and Farnham with a shattered mind and a broken spirit.

    M - R 
  • MacGuffin: The series is loaded with this trope, almost every quest has you off finding a MacGuffin needed to complete a side-quest or to move the plot forward. Optional sidequests in the first game has you go down into the church labyrinth to find a MacGuffin, (Ogden's Sign, Magic Rock, Anvil of Fury, Black Mushroom+Monster Brain), and then bring it back to the quest-giver NPC in Tristram. One that must always be brought back however, is Lazarus' Staff which is needed to access Lazarus' lair, and always happens to block the access to the final labyrinth level, Diablo's level.
  • Made of Evil: All of the Prime Evils and the Lesser Evils. No exceptions! Hell, the Big Bad himself became the game's equivalent to Satan.
  • Made of Explodium: The occasional explosive barrel and fireball.
  • Mage Marksman: The series each features one such character playable starting with the Rogue, an archer who was the middle ground of magic users between the Sorcerer and the Warrior.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet: Attracting demons is an Informed Flaw of using magic, but since you have a fair chance of being torn apart by them any time you set foot outside your house anyway, at least you'll be better able to defend yourself...
  • Magic Is Evil: It's an explicit part of the setting that most forms of magic carry a high risk of corrupting the user and making them into a servant of the demons. The only definite exception is necromancy, as necromancers are too True Neutral and unconcerned with fleeting personal power to fall to the lure of demonic might. Most people in the setting are fine with magic despite this, oddly enough.
  • Magic Knight: The Monk class from Hellfire. In the original game, the starting class mostly just affected the starting stats and character art, so it was possible to build any class into at least a partial spell caster by spending your level-ups right, although every class had a limit on certain stats.
  • Magic Staff: The series loves these. The first game had elaborate staves with some of them even having blades on either end. Staves are also the only item to have spell-charges.
  • Magma Man: Magma demons, which were created from Mephisto's foul blood spilled on Hell's lava. While they are made of lava, the boulders they hurl only do fire damage.
  • Mana: It's the fuel for spells of all types.
  • Mana Meter: Diablo uses round glassy "vessels", whose level of fullness varies.
  • Mana Potion:
    • Mana Potions restored your character's mana.
    • Magical weapons could have a special ability that restored your mana when they hit an opponent.
  • Mana Shield: The eponymous spell, which is the lifeblood of the middle-to-late-game Sorcerer, not only reduced all damage by a third but redirected all the rest of the damage to mana instead of health. In fact, due to a famous glitch, a high-level Sorcerer is well-advised to have as low of a health count as possible, enabling him to completely avoid stun from high damage attacks.
  • The Man Behind the Monsters: Diablo subverts this trope with the Seven Great Evils: despite leading the Legions of Hell, the Prime Evils and Lesser Evils don't look humanoid in any way themselves; it says something that the only one who look vaguely humanoid, Andariel, is a giant woman with claws and Spider Limbs.
  • Man Bites Man: In the tie-in novel Legacy of Blood, the villain is bitten on the neck by a woman he's about to torture. He starts to panic, thinking she might be a vampire, then realises she's just acting out of desperation.
  • Mascot Mook: Fallens and Goatmen are the better known enemies of the franchise, appearing in all 3 games, and receiving some backstory in Diablo III (the former are minions of Azmodan who fell in disgrace, the latter are former humans who were transformed by Vizjerei mages).
  • Matte Shot: They're not technically Matte Shots, but the same concept appears here. The game had what were essentially paintings for a background with characters and monsters moving on top of them. There were areas you could go (floors, steps, hills) and areas you couldn't (walls, cliffs, etc.). The action took place over top of a painting, like in a Matte Shot.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: The Zombie variation Black Death could do this with their punches.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: Tristram plays this up in full force.
  • Mega Dungeon: There is one 16-level dungeon in the game, broken up into four distinct areas.
  • Mind over Matter: Telekinesis is a spell. It can be used to push back monsters, but is mostly useful for opening doors and chests that may be booby-trapped. The manual states that when taught this spell, trainees are placed in a prison cell and the key is left out of their reach. Those who aren't good at it will be there for a while...
  • Mini-Boss: Unique monsters may play this role.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover the Hellfire expansion pack.
  • Minimalist Run: This was played to the extreme by Beyond Naked Mages. Players looking for extra challenge not only would ignore beneficial items, but would actively seek out cursed and damaged items which lowered the player's stats.
  • Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: Friendly fire. It was still possible until the mage learned Chain Lightning, after which his allies were forced to take cover behind walls every time monsters showed up.
  • Money Spider: Everything you slay can drop gold, from giant bugs to yetis to demons.
  • Monty Haul: The series and the majority of its clones tend to be like this in the end game. Bosses and major loot caches will often release a screen-filling fountain of gold and enchanted gear- from which players will pick the one or two very best pieces and leave the rest lying on the floor. At early levels, however, the player will want to keep anything that's better than the standard vendor gear. For a game where the whole point is to constantly upgrade your equipment, the progression is fairly even.
  • Mr. Exposition: Deckard Cain is the only character besides Diablo himself who will appear in all three games. His role is always the same: talk in a monotone voice about the backstory nobody's interested in.
  • Multi-Melee Master: Useful due to Breakable Weapons. Also, some enemies are weak against clubs, others against swords, and axes are useful against anything, but all axes are 2-handed, so you give up on using a shield.
  • Namedar: Diablo has an old man who actually works as the resident Namedar: his job is to identify any unknown item you pick up so you can sell it.
    • Under the hood, an object's name in Diablo is calculated as a function of its various attributes (for example, the suffix "of the Tiger" will always give between +41 and +50 max HP), so in the model world of the game, Namedar is a real physical law, and names following the pattern will be automatically deduced for, say, novel items created using a game editor.
  • Name of Cain: Subverted. Deckard Cain is a Last of His Kind scholarly good guy who will identify your magical items for you.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Black Death in Diablo, and their ability to permanently lower your health by one point causes even experienced players to avoid them like the plague. The fact that they can crash the game when dealing a finishing blow to the player in earlier versions makes it worse.
  • New Game+: Once you complete the main plot, you get a sort of 'New Game Minus', which lets you restart the plot but keep your stats and inventory.
  • Nice Hat: The Harlequin Crest. It has a drawback of -3 to your Armor class, but the +2 to all attributes is tempting.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Several female corpses were completely stripped. The Succubi, who became increasingly frequent enemies towards the end were wearing little more besides thongs, and showed quite a few details.
  • No Body Left Behind: Averted; not only do corpses stay behind, the bodies of acid/poison spitters create a pool of acid that can damage you if you stand on them.
  • No Hero Discount: Demons about to overrun the countryside? Tragic. Want your armor repaired? Cash up front!
  • No Man of Woman Born: In the Expanded Universe novel Demonsbane, the Big Bad has a glyph on itself that makes it invincible to all living creatures. The twist, then, is that the hero of the novel turns out to have been Dead All Along.
  • Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: Humans in this setting are the descendents of angels and demons.
  • Nonindicative Name: The Black Death are colored bright yellow.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: The succubi were so sexy they actually caused some controversy; their bosoms and rear ends are clearly visible, and they aren't wearing anything except arm warmers and thigh-high boots. The player characters don't seem to notice. The players, on the other hand, that's another story.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The dungeon levels are large and there can be quite a distance between the monsters, which only adds to the suspense and scariness of the game. Even more so because there are monsters that can turn invisible and sneak up on you, and others that charge you from far off-screen with a blood-curdling roar.
  • Notice This: Averted; items on the floor were otherwise unremarkable and only highlighted when the mouse hovered over them. Now imagine rings and amulets, which have a "on-floor" graphic that's a blue ring a couple of pixels across. On a blue floor. In a dark dungeon. While the unofficial expansion added a spell which highlighted every lost item on the floor, and there was a built-in zoom function in the game, cooperative multiplay could (and often did) degenerate into the equivalent of searching for a dropped contact lens whenever that distinctive "ding!" was heard.
  • Number of the Beast: Diablo himself has 1,666 HP.
  • Obviously Evil: While Diablo plays this trope straight with most of the antagonists, who are almost all blood-thirsty, cannibalistic, Always Chaotic Evil demons, this wasn't the case with Archbishop Lazarus from the Church of Light... who turns out to be The Dragon for Diablo, an Evil Chancellor and a Manipulative Bastard who tricked a gradually turning insane king into executing his own wife and people.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: If the game detects items created by the duplication glitch, it will destroy them, with an attention-grabbing status message in the chat log. Unfortunately (or maybe not), its detection range is extremely limited, and it can only catch dupes if they're both on the ground, in the same area. Oddly, the dupe bug itself was never fixed.
  • One Bullet at a Time: The sprite limit could be reached very easily with one Chain Lightning spell with many enemies in range or multiple Fire Wall spells. Sure, it's not a gun, but you still won't be able to cast any more until the effects finish up.
  • One-Man Army: Every playable character in the Diablo games can, and will, kill hundreds (if not thousands) of demons and other creatures over the course of the adventure. You venture into the depths of hell killing every demon, critter, and monster in your path including Diablo himself.
  • One-Word Title: Antagonist Title, Diablo.
  • Only One Name: Deckard Cain is the only NPC in the two first games with a first and last name.
  • Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: Accoring to Word of God, demons are genderless.
  • Our Demons Are Different:
    • In the setting, demons are psychotic hordes sometimes created or altered by their leaders, the Prime Evils and the Lesser Evils. Even though they seem to have free will, they still do the bidding of their particular masters without question. They come in a huge variety of forms — from almost-human to green porcupines to the Blob to totally alien. In the second game, many enemies are not true demons, but creatures mutated by the forces of Hell. Killing demons primarily sends them back to Hell, which is the reason that the Soulstones were created — the angels needed a way to keep the Prime Evils from returning.
    • The undead are not demons but corpses animated by the power of the Prime Evils, and the weaker creatures like Scavengers are mutated once-natural animals.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: Gargoyles were statues until you got too close, and turned back to stone if they took enough damage, making them a lot easier to hit, and surprisingly not much harder to finish off, although they do regenerate HP faster.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Even though it's more of a demon invasion, the game had a unique view of where zombies come from, although it's the only game in the series where this is mentioned. From the manual:
    Zombies are formed from the corpses of men executed for the most depraved and degenerate crimes against the innocent. They are driven by both the hatred that consumed them in life and the undead hunger for mortal flesh.
  • Palette Swap: The different monster varieties are shown in this fashion.
  • Path of Inspiration: The lore, expounded in tie-in novels, has two significant cases: the Triune, an apparently benevolent church that was actually a front for the machinations of the three Prime Evils. Much later, the Black Road did much the same thing, but it was a more obvious deal-with-the-devil situation.
  • The Pearly Gates: The Diamond Gates lead to the High Heavens. In the millennia that the Diamond Gates have stood, they have withstood countless sieges by The Legions of Hell, but have never fallen in the entire history of the Eternal Conflict. However, in Diablo III, during the end of Act III, those gates finally fall when Diablo, who has become the Prime Evil, makes his grand entrance into Heaven, setting up Act IV, where you have to save Heaven from Hell.
  • Perpetual Beta: Diablo had a long history of Game Breaking Bugs, most notably item-duplicating, in its day.
  • Physical God: The Lord of Terror himself.
  • Physical Hell: Of course, there wouldn't be a game otherwise. Not there originally, Diablo makes it literally out of terror incarnate.
  • Pixel Hunt: You could hear the sound of a ring drop from a monster, and spend the next 10 minutes carefully searching the ground around you. Fortunately, Hellfire added the Search skill/spell. Also, since you could pick up something as soon as the cursor was in the same square, you had to search much less than you'd think at first.
  • Planet Heck
  • Poison Mushroom: Cursed equipment, adding a bit of a gamble when you identified magical items. Cursed items reduced attributes and didn't sell for much money.
  • Power-Up Letdown:
    • Mana Shield absorbed less damage at higher levels due to a bug.
    • Levelling up Chain Lightning would cause you to run into the sprite limit in one shot, causing disappearing lightning sprites and making it unreliable.
    • Fighting your way through the Chamber of Bone to obtain the Guardian spell may seem like an incredible reward when really, it's one of the more 'meh' fire spells in the game. On the bright side, the Chamber of Bone always has good loot chests.
  • Random Drops: A given, taking into account the genre of the game.
  • Randomly Generated Loot: More or less the Trope Codifier for this sort of loot dropping. It featured individual pieces of equipment with random variations in stats, but special effects were mostly fixed to specific item types.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: Randomized dungeon layouts which include a handful of required rooms.
  • Random Transportation: The Phasing spell teleports you a fixed distance in a random direction. There's also a shrine that does the same thing, with the appropriate flavor text: "Wherever you go, there you are."
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: The bow is hardly the warrior's most useful weapon, but it can be handy if an enemy is behind a grate or if you need to exchange fire with something that won't let you close enough to engage in melee for a meaningful length of time.
  • Rare Candy: The original game had elixirs for the four primary stats (Strength, Dexterity, Magic, and Vitality) which were occasional drops in the dungeon and even rarely purchasable in the stores from level 26. With enough cash, one could patiently reach the maximum values for three of the four stats (Vitality potions aren't on sale) by repeatedly joining multiplayer games and seeing if Adria sold any elixirs.
  • Rare Random Drop: The games feature items that aren't just randomly dropped, but randomly generated from thousands of potential combinations of attributes, special abilities and base weapon types.
  • Red Filter of Doom: This happens when you die.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: This was mocked by players way back when it came out: some nameless NPC, sole survivor of the traitorous Archbishop Lazarus's doomed expedition into the dungeon beneath Tristram, sputters out his dying words and sets you a quest leading to the first major boss of the game, the Butcher. You may be a new, inexperienced adventurer without much magical talent to speak of (depending on your class), but you're carrying healing potions.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Part of the reason the Eternal Conflict between Heaven and Hell has been eternal is that both the Angiris Council and the Prime Evils have this. Even if their bodies are completely destroyed, they will eventually return.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: The games are loaded with destructible crates and barrels.
  • Robbing the Dead: The games allow you to loot crypts, coffins, urns, graves, piles of bones, and corpses both fresh and old.
  • Roguelike: The original game shows clear inspiration from this genre, especially Angband. Examples include the focus on dungeon crawling, randomly generated levels, the need to identify potentially-cursed magical items, and the risk of permanent damage to your character (the game was originally intended to have straight up permadeath, but Blizzard ultimately decided against this). Later games in the series moved away from this, however.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Fanfiction often focuses on the mysterious order known as the Rouge Archers.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: The first series of dungeons are supposed to be located under a tiny village church, and are a randomly-generated maze of passageways, tombs, and other rooms that go on for several sub-levels with no overall plan. One wonders what madman designed their church's undercroft, or how the people ever held services there. This was handwaved in the manual. The catacombs were built explicitly to be a maze that would safeguard the Sealed Evil in a Can... that has broken loose and made the deeper levels even more convoluted and filled the place with monsters and death traps.
  • Running Gag: Mentions of Wirt's wooden leg have spread to the other Blizzard game Warcraft (and all sequels/spinoffs that follow).

    S - Z 
  • Save Scumming: You could save scum the normal way.
    • Saving and reloading causes Adria and Griswold to re-stock their inventories. This means you can throw down a save in front of either of them and reload until they have the equipment you want to buy.
    • Goat Shrines' and Cauldrons' effects are picked randomly from the list of all shrines and set, making it wise to save beforehand in case they may have the bonus you want— or don't want.
  • Saving the World: What you are supposed to do.
  • Scenery Gorn: The Butcher's room in Diablo, red with blood and full of human bodies mutilated, impaled and/or hung up on hooks.
  • Secret Character: Hellfire came with two secret, "unlockable" characters: the Bard and Barbarian. The Barbarian has since reappeared in the sequels.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Naked runs (that is, runs with no equipment) are popular for classes that can handle them. The first game, however, takes it one step beyond with the Beyond Naked Mage, which uses any and all cursed gear it finds, and only cursed gear. (When there's a choice of gear for the same slot, one must use the item with the greater penalties). In addition to providing an extra level of challenge, this also provided a type of Ironic Hell for Griefers who lured players into being killed by monsters in order to steal their equipment. Have fun with some life-decreasing jewelry, jackass!
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog Story: The second game reveals that not only do all of the goals and accomplishments of the first game become pointless, it also turns out that every player character becomes corrupted and begins tormenting humanity as demonic beings themselves. The protagonist (canonically the Warrior) finally defeats the Big Bad, only for it to be revealed that he was being played all along, and is corrupted by its Soulstone, eventually being transformed into the new Diablo himself. Also, the Rogue becomes Blood Raven, the Sorcerer becomes The Summoner, and Tristram is destroyed, along with nearly everyone in it being slaughtered or turned into even more demonic pawns.
  • Shield Bash: It deals same damage as a punch or kick, but it gives you the chance to block enemy melee strikes.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sidetrack Bonus: Because of its randomised dungeons, moving forward in the series is largely a matter of luck, with the player as likely to find an empty dead end as anything else, but exploring a whole area before going on will naturally yield some treasure and some unique monsters.
  • Sinister Minister: The Archbishop Lazarus.
  • Skyward Scream: The first game's ending, after the hero plunges the Soulstone into his forehead.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: The games are gritty in the extreme, depicting a world invaded by demons who decorate with blood, limbs, impaled corpses and tortured souls.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Only one of the three classes (the Rogue) was female. Diablo was either more or less balanced with the inclusion of the Hellfire expansion depending on how you approach it. It added the male monk class by default, plus mildly altered remakes of the Warrior and Rogue that could only be unlocked by futzing with a system file.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: The item spread is carefully controlled by which area of the game you're in; the starting levels will give you nothing but light armor, weak weapons of all kinds, and marginally magical items. As you continue through the game, the range of droppable items increases, so that Dagger of Poking you picked up in the cathedral will eventually be replaced by the Pointy Short Sword of Sharpness in the catacombs, the Serrated Flamberge of Wounding in the Caves, and the Butt-kicking BFS of Evisceration in hell.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Cain Rap.
  • Speedrun: The original Diablo was crushed in 0:03:12(!) through obscene luck manipulation and glitching.
  • Spell Book: One of the less abstract uses of the spell book trope in video games. A spell book, when read, simply adds that spell to your repertoire so that you can use it as much as you want in future (as long as you have enough mana). If you find another book of the same spell at a higher level, reading it will let you cast a more advanced version of the same spell.
  • Stop Poking Me!: Clicking the town's cow would cause it to moo. Clicking it repeatedly would make your character start commenting on it. "Yup, that's a cow all right..."
  • Story Breadcrumbs: The first game had a setup like this. Books placed on pedestals throughout the catacombs under Tristram would tell you the story how Diablo came to be buried under Tristram, along with other events that precede the game. That said, the game's manual contained all the same story elements in more detail.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: When you finally meet the Archbishop, he stands there and speechifies at you for a good while. Neither side can attack while he's talking, but you can run out of the room, which is recommended as he's accompanied by a number of minions and it's easier to kill him if you've lured them out piecemeal first.
  • Story-to-Gameplay Ratio: The series is a little odd in this regard. There's lots of story in terms of dialog from NPCs and other characters, but all of it can be (and often is by most players) ignored by those who just want to jump into the quests. The universe has a really good storyline but it is safe to say that the game's immense popularity is not because of its story. The game would likely still be as popular as it is even if it had virtually no story
  • Sturgeon's Law: 90% of any drops you get is worthless junk.
  • Subliminal Seduction: The game contains the satanic message (at least in the game files): Eat your vegetables, and brush after every meal. (backwards, of course)
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: According to the manual, the minions of Baal, the Lord of Destruction, seek the undoing of the universe.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Lazarus's Staff. It's not a weapon you can equip, but you need to give the staff to Cain so the portal to Lazarus' lair opens afterwards.
  • Tactical Door Use: Closing doors will stop certain demons in their tracks. Combine this with a grate nearby that allows you to shoot through to the other side of the door, and soon you've got a pile of dead demons lying on the other side of said door.
  • Take Your Time: You can dillydally as much as you want in completing the quests you're given.
  • Teaser Equipment: The enterprising young boy Wirt randomly sells a high-level item, but you're unlikely to be able to purchase it until later. Even though that item is generated at random, it's generally of a higher level than what the normal item shops are selling, though not always relevant to your class. By the time you'll generally be able to purchase it, the gear in other shops has largely caught up.
  • Teleport Spam: Those wacky teleporting mages.
  • This Was His True Form: When you slay Diablo and pull the soulstone from his forehead, his body reverts to that of Prince Albrecht, whom Diablo had possessed. (It is unclear whether Albrecht is alive or dead at this point.)
  • Thong of Shielding: A curious case are the succubi, because they seem to wear only a "low-cut" thong when you look at them from the front, but are clearly butt-naked when you look at them when they turn around.
  • Timed Power-Up: Every game since the first Diablo features Shrines, stationary objects with random effects that commonly include temporary buffs to speed, defense, offense, experience gain, etc.
  • Turn Undead: There are three types of enemy: animal, undead, and demon. For each of the first latter two, there are certain types of weapons (clubs for undead, swords for animals) that do extra damage against that type (although they will also do less damage against the other type, this was dropped in later games), and some uniques items have specific attributes that only apply against one of the last two. There's also the Holy Bolt spell, which specifically harms only undead.
  • The Turret Master: The Guardian spell summons a three-headed beast that would shoot firebolts.
  • Twinking: Thanks to rampant item duping glitches, hacks, and exploits, in the game's heyday you couldn't wander into a public online game without being offered a full set of the most powerful non-Level-Locked Loot available.
  • Unbreakable Weapons: There's a durability exploit in which, through the use of Hidden Shrines, the player can raise the durability of an item to the specific value of 255, which the game recognizes as indestructible.
  • Underground Monkey: The games were full of this. Every single enemy in the games, apart from quest specific bosses, came in various levels of strength denoted by colour and had otherwise identical sprites as others of its type. It's mentioned in the first game manual that this is because the Prime Evils, the leaders of the demons, would alter their servants forms to better deal with whatever threat they were facing at the time.
  • Unidentified Items: You can take your unknown items into town and have Cain identify them, or buy a scroll to do it (for the same price of 100 gold).
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • Diablo disables the "SAVE" option when you die. However, it does so a few frames late, and during these few frames it's difficult, but possible to save already dead and watch your character die instantly each time you reload. There's only one save slot. While you can start the game over with your character's current stats (much like a New Game+, except accessible from the very beginning), you'll lose anything you had left lying around in town (which is likely to be a lot, due to Grid Inventory and Nothing Fades). But hey, it's your own damn fault for saving when you knew you were dead.
    • You can just plain save while surrounded by monsters and one hit from death. This is obviously user error. Another variant is to save immediately before getting dealt a final blow such as by a projectile, which is more of an accident.
    • This can screw up first-time Diablo players who come from Diablo II. There, you CAN save and exit when you die and get away with it. In that game, you will be brought back to town carrying whatever was in your inventory when you died. Anything on the ground or that you dropped(potions, usually), were gone... If you're used to that, the change in save-after-death in the original can burn.
    • Multiplayer characters can screw up in a different way: there is no regular save function and dying in multiplayer mode causes your items to fall to the ground. If you die in a place where you can't get them back (there is one notable enemy type that ignores the safe radius around level entrances and is also invisible, so you can die very quickly after entering a level, only to see a mass of hidden ones manifest around the stairs) and have no choice but to leave the game, you lost all of your items permanently. Good luck completing the game after that.
    • Diablo has strong roguelike influences and can screw you over in numerous other ways. Black Death in particular take away 1 hit point permanently on striking (with no indication that this is the case) and can render the game unwinnable if you are playing very badly and get hit hundreds of times, leaving you with a tiny amount of health. You have to try really hard to make this happen, though.
    • Black Death in particular take away 1 hit point permanently on striking (with no indication that this is the case) and can render the game unwinnable if you are playing very badly and get hit hundreds of times, leaving you with a tiny amount of health.
    • Unless you're a mage who's using Mana Shield... at which point you get to use the ludicrously advantageous "No Stun" bug.
    • When you die, the save function is disabled, but not immediately. Yes, saving at this point makes the current game unwinnable. It requires timing by the milliseconds, though. A frame too late and the game disables the save function. The easiest way is probably to get a +HP item and then get yourself down to health lower than said item provides you. When you remove the item, you die. If you click and press ESC almost exactly at the same moment, you get to save without having that item on you. No, there is no time to put it back on.
    • It's possible to make the game unwinnable by abusing the Chamber of Bone entrance in a hilariously stupid way. You need to teleport there before you use the book to open it (either with a scroll of teleport or using a scroll of town portal then going there from town) and leave yourself stuck in a sealed room. Yes, you need to be completely stupid to do this unless you're doing it intentionally for the lulz.
  • Unusual Halo: Imperius, the leader of the Council of Angels, has a crown-like metal halo that matches the design of his 24-Hour Armor. The other angels generally don't have halos.
  • The Usual Adversaries: The series, as one can probably guess, primarily has the demons of the Burning Hells in this role, though undead are also a big threat early on.
  • Vendor Trash: Played straight with the copious amounts of low-quality weapons and armor to pawn for gold.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The final battle with Diablo takes place on the lowest level of Tristram Cathedral.
  • Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Inferno was a very slow moving flame that crept along the ground, had a very short range, almost always missed if cast at an angle due to the game being grid-based and its only benefit was that it could hit multiple targets if they were right in your grill. You would probably get a book of this spell at about the point where the first Lightning Bolt staves started to show up, which had the same line damage effect, unlimited range, a much wider area of effect and did about five times as much damage.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: The game's title is the name of the main antagonist. Do we really need to say more?
  • Villainous Breakdown: In the backstory, King Leoric is possessed by Diablo and effectively starts having a Villainous Breakdown while he's still a good guy. He doesn't remain good for long when that happens. He starts getting increasingly paranoid and less sane, until finally when Diablo leaves him, unable to take over completely, he's a raving madman. When Lazarus takes his son as a more fitting vessel for Diablo, it goes even more downhill from there - he randomly tortures and kills villagers he suspects of abducting the prince and finally has to be killed by his own most loyal knights.
  • Voice of the Legion: Many characters, but especially Archbishop Lazarus.
    • In the expansion, Baal himself has the voice that echoes and can shake mountains. He roars out a massive "ENOUGH!!!" in the Intro.
  • Voodoo Zombie: The various undead are often of this kind, with powerful undead such as the Skeleton King being a result of Diablo's direct influence.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The Butcher, who is an extremely tough opponent for the part of the game he appears in, being very fast and capable of dealing huge amounts of damage in close combat. He quickly becomes That One Boss to lower level characters because the only way to beat him safely depends on the randomly-generated terrain spawning in such a fashion to let you plink him to death at range, or to level up your Dexterity to at least 55 so that you can trade blows with him in melee while taking fewer hits. Thankfully, he only has a 50% chance of appearing, drops a nifty unique axe when he finally goes down and you can just ignore him if you don't want to fight him yet - his room is a dead-end and its unique shape and decor make it obvious who resides there.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: The Warrior sans armor.
  • Wallet of Holding: You can have up to 5000 gold per available inventory slot, which led to a glitch where you can't buy the best armor in the game because you can't hold enough money. An item added in the Hellfire expansion doubled your gold capacity to 10,000 per slot.
  • Warp Whistle: The Town Portal scroll, though as the name implied, the scrolls primarily sent you back to town (which you would need to do often in order to sell off your old or excess gear, repair the gear you were using, and resupply on essentials such as potions, ammunition and Scrolls of Identify or Town Portal.
  • Was Once a Man: Humans possessed and altered to fit their shape by the Prime Evils, through Demonic Possession. Diablo's body turns back into that of the young prince at the end of the game when he's killed.
  • Water Source Tampering: One of the potential side quests involves Tristram's water supply being poisoned. When you go into the catacombs and find the spring, killing the monsters around it will turn it back to normal.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: Diablo gives clubs this effect against undead monsters, and swords receive the same effect for animals. Notably, in this game clubs will also deal less damage to animals and swords will deal less damage to undead as well (later games drop this penalization, as well as the sword bonus against animals).
  • We Buy Anything: Averted; only related items can be sold to the relevant shopkeeper — weapons and armor to Griswold, and mage items and potions to Adria.
  • With This Herring: Played with. In both games, you don't start out with much, but your initial equipment isn't terrible. It'll do for a bit until you can get better stuff. Justified in both games because A) you're not really all that special of an adventurer and B) the areas you're in are typically going through hard times.
  • Words Can Break My Bones: The scrolls in the series work this way, with the written words becoming the spell as they're spoken (and consequently, disappearing). The magic books from the first installment may be similar, as they too disappear when used.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: The Butcher's cleaver has Gameplay and Story Segregation - while it is said that the wounds inflicted by it can't be healed because of infection, you can heal them as much as you like.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: Killed by standing in fire.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: The entire human race is the result of interbreeding between angels and demons.
  • You All Look Familiar: Averted, but only for NPCs. PCs of the same class all look quite similar.
  • You Are Too Late: Archibishop Lazarus pulls this when you finally confront him:
    Abandon your foolish quest. All that awaits you is the wrath of my Master! You Are Too Late to save the child. Now you will join Hell!
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Or Stage 2: both games end badly for team Human.
  • You Have Researched Breathing:
    • Everything including rings and necklaces have stat and level requirements to wear them. You could wear Unidentified items, but bear the risk of it being cursed.
    "Alas, poor adventurer - he accidentally put on the Necklace of Self-Decapitation."
    • Your Sorcerer starts out with a level two Firebolt and is incapable of casting Holy Bolt, which according to the lore was explicitly created to be easy to cast for anyone with no particular magical talent. It gets worse in the sequel, where the sorceress and necromancer start the game with zero magical or necromantic abilities whatsoever and rely on their staff or wand to cast anything at all.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: This happened to the hero; after killing Diablo and removing the soulstone from its forehead and freeing his former host, the hero rams the thing into his own forehead, becoming Diablo and taking his place.
  • You No Take Candle: "We strong! We kill all with big magic!" Poor little Snotspill had obtained a tavern sign depicting a sun and naturally expected it to be magical.
  • Zip Mode: In Hellfire, your walk speed was doubled in town.

Alternative Title(s): Diablo I


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