Bashiok on Rune Levels and Progression

  • #1
    Bashiok recently revealed some very interesting information about DiabloWiki.com - Skill Runes Skill Runes in Diablo III which should put to rest some questions raised in a recent topic in these forums.

    The first question he responded to was in regards to how we will acquire runes in the game:

    Official Blizzard Quote:




    1. Will all ranks of runes drop or will it function more like gems where the high level runes have to be crafted to be obtained?
    All ranks are currently planned to drop, but that could change. Many ideas have been thrown around about runes being obtained through other means, but an increasingly lower drop rate as the runes go up in rank seems like a good option still. The question still comes up how they'll be bled out of the economy, and we have some good ideas for that.
    It seems that, unlike DiabloWiki.com - Gems Gems in Diablo III, gaining the maximum rank of a rune will be a much faster process. Where gems only drop the first five out of fourteen levels, as of right now all skill runes will drop in game, and will not have to be crafted. We should keep in mind, however, that this does not mean that lower rank runes will not be able to be combined to make higher rank runes. If the drop rates for skill runes in Diablo III are anywhere close to as low as the rates for runes in Diablo II, combining skill runes could prove to be one of the only ways to gain large amounts of high level skill runes.

    As Bashiok points out, this type of system could easily lead to there being too many skill runes in the economy. We can only speculate how they will be taken out of the economy, but one possibility could be some sort of downgrade whenever you respec or change the rune in a skill. This type of system would increase the cost of experimentation however, which is something Blizzard has said they want to avoid. Once again, it appears as though we must wait for more information.

    Official Blizzard Quote:




    2. Are all five runes equally as rare or is one or more types rarer than others?
    That's a good question, I can see how that could be justified. I don't know what the plan is there, I'll have to ask. My gut is that it would be too much to keep some type of rune 'power rating' in mind when altering drop rates, especially post-release where patches could jumble them around a fair bit. "This rune sucks now but it's still the rarest!" Also, ideally, each rune type will be equally viable to different people and builds. Saying one is more powerful than another would mean we're probably balancing them to be, and that's not the case.
    Ideally, every rune will end up being useful for some equally useful build. However, the ideal situation is often not the outcome. Having said that, Blizzard has a very good track record of keeping things balanced in their games, and given the amount of possible combinations of skills and runes, each rune will probably end up having its place. The real question becomes which rune will be useful for the most builds? If, for example, the Indigo rune is only viable in two legitimate and widely used builds, and the Crimson rune ends up being viable for five widely used builds, the Crimson rune will obviously be more valuable in trading, even though the Indigo rune has its place. Unfortunately, translating these discrepancies to drop rates is an entirely different story. As Bashiok points out, constantly micromanaging rune drop rates would probably become too much of a burden as the value of a given rune would end up changing far too often as new builds are discovered.

    Official Blizzard Quote:




    3. Will the increase in rank continue the change that the first rank made to the skill? For example, with the WD blow dart skill, the alabaster runes turns the dart into a snake. What does a higher ranking alabaster rune do?
    Yes the mechanic stays the same for the rune type in all ranks (more or less), it simply increases in power. For the alabaster in poison dart example I'm actually not sure the increase in effect, but likely plays off of the stun effect (higher ranks stun the target for longer). Runes that reduce cost reduce even more cost as the rank increases. A rune that would cause multiple projectiles would fire even more projectiles as the rank increases, etc. It's not necessarily a hard and fast rule though that the increase must only be one thing. Maybe it means more projectiles AND ups the damage a little to make sure it remains competitive with other runes or skills. It has to be a somewhat fluid system.
    In a pretty self explanatory answer, Bashiok makes it clear that each rank of each rune will continue to do the same thing. However, he does point out that additional effects will be added whenever it is necessary to allow the rune to remain viable. Whether or not this applies to more interesting effects than adding damage is still up in the air however, so keep your fingers crossed. Who knows? Maybe you'll be able to shoot two snakes at once after rank four of the Alabaster rune.

    Official Blizzard Quote:




    4. Around what level will you have to be to use the highest level rune?
    The limitation, currently, is based on level of the skill. Level of the skill is determined by character level to pump points into the skill, but it's also determined by upping that skill to higher caps. As a completely made up example, you may need 6 skill points in a skill before you can socket in a rank 3 rune. But you can't spend more than 5 skill points in that skill until you up the cap! Ha HAH!
    In what is our first information about how skill rune progression will work, Bashiok reveals that the level skill rune available to be used in a skill will be determined by the level of the skill, not the character. This means that if you only got one point in, say, Leap Attack so you had a mobility skill, you won't be able to boost its power to that much of a higher level, as you will only be able to place a low level rune in the skill. This will most likely lead to some very interesting decisions when designing a build, as adding one skill point to boost a skill from level 5 to 6 could end up being much more important than the increase from level 4 to 5, as having a skill at level 6 will not only increase the skill's power, but also allow for a new rank of rune. However, your build could end up with two level 5 skills when you only have one point left to spare, and which skill you put that point in could very well end up defining your build. These kinds of options are what will really end up making each character unique in Diablo III.


    Bashiok had an equally interesting tidbit at the end of that answer:

    Official Blizzard Quote:



    Mechanics for increasing a skill's cap are still in design.
    Although previously we were informed that skill caps would increase with the difficulty level, with 5 being the limit in Normal, 10 in Nighmare, and 15 in Hell, it appears that the system has changed. The most likely system would probably have something to do with the character's level, but skill levels could also be increased by quests, progression through the Acts, or maybe by having to spend a skill point in order to unlock the next "tier" of skill levels.


    Official Blizzard Quote:




    5. How rare will the high level runes be? Can we expect to have top rank runes in each of our skills or will they be extremely rare?
    That comes down to drop balance, but the intent is that higher rank runes are a long term character improvement goal. For that reason they're incremental power upgrades and not necessarily giant leaps of "If you have rank 4 you will be decimated by rank 5". Although I have a feeling saying this will come back to bite me.

    Even though each level of rune currently drops in game, Bashiok has made it clear that gaining max level runes will still be a process, and a goal similar to gaining level 14 gems. However, this massive time investment is implied to be more for making your character the best it can possibly be, but is not completely necessary to remain at a competitive level. These two statements seem to contradict themselves, as if gaining a max level rune requires such a large time investment, or at least requires something valuable to trade, then why wouldn't they also be proportionally more powerful? If people are going to be spending hours on end looking for a rune, I for one believe they should be rewarded. Fortunately, Bashiok seems to imply that this system is still a work in progress, and every aspect of it is subject to change.

    Don't forget to give our very own Scyberdragon some rep for asking some great questions, and getting some great answers as a result!


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  • #2
    Great article mate! :) And great job asking questions Scyber!

    One way to remove runes from the economy that I thought of just now would be to use them in high level crafting recipes.
  • #3
    Great info here, smart questions! That curbed my D3 withdrawal for a while.
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  • #4
    Awesome info, just what I needed. Great questions that definitely needed answering!

    Something I realised is that between "flawless" and "excellent"(I thinK) sphere's there is only a slight difference. It might not be a problem really, but when you're tired but can still play and you mess up because you couldn't tell the difference, it'll be pretty annoying.

    All the other gems are fine in difference of appearance, but I don't really like the Sheriff Stars :(
    It's all been said. The pun, the not so funny joke, the phrase, something about oneself, the not so random picture.

    So... what else is left to put here?
  • #5
    great job Scyber for questions and Jackzor for posting this!! gz guys, there are nice infos.
    just enough to get through another ''waiting for D3'' day :D
  • #6
    I got a little giddy when readin this. Interesting news indeed.

    Quote from Jackzor

    This will most likely lead to some very interesting decisions when designing a build, as adding one skill point to boost a skill from level 5 to 6 could end up being much more important than the increase from level 4 to 5, as having a skill at level 6 will not only increase the skill's power, but also allow for a new rank of rune. However, your build could end up with two level 5 skills when you only have one point left to spare, and which skill you put that point in could very well end up defining your build. These kinds of options are what will really end up making each character unique in Diablo III.

    Did anyone else think of this as sort of an evolution to what synergies became in D2? Originally intended to allow you to diversify, the synergies really only forced you to focus on a few skills. This seems to do the same, but since the game is actively built around having only a few active skills, it seems like it would work really well this time around.

    Quote from Jackzor

    Don't forget to give our very own Scyberdragon some rep for asking some great questions, and getting some great answers as a result!

    Scyber workin' the CM ;)
    DiabloWiki.com - PlugY PlugY for Diablo II allows you to reset skills and stats, transfer items between characters in singleplayer, obtain all ladder runewords and do all Uberquests while offline. It is the only way to do all of the above. Please use it.

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  • #7

    Official Blizzard Quote:




    4. Around what level will you have to be to use the highest level rune?
    But you can't spend more than 5 skill points in that skill until you up the cap! Ha HAH!

    I know a sexy brain when I see one. And that's a sexy brain playing sexyness. Am I fracking saying sexy?

    Or am I getting affectionate viewing a serious look into Rune socketing.
  • #8
    Took me a blasted long time realize what "skill cap" was in question #4, but then I saw looked very carefully at the image below the text and saw the different Difficulties playing their own part. So that's how it's going to be...?

    So, basically, you can dump x-number of points into a particular skill based on Difficulty Level you are playing? And you can only drop a certain level Skill Rune into a Skill based, again based on the Difficulty Level you are playing with? That seems interesting. My experiences with previous Diablo titles suggests I'll never be able to play above "normal" Difficulty, but that's okay. I'll just read about the higher levels on this forum.
  • #9
    Look right below the image ^^

    Mechanics for increasing a skill's cap are still in design.
  • #10
    Quote from telperionmt

    Took me a blasted long time realize what "skill cap" was in question #4, but then I saw looked very carefully at the image below the text and saw the different Difficulties playing their own part. So that's how it's going to be...?

    So, basically, you can dump x-number of points into a particular skill based on Difficulty Level you are playing? And you can only drop a certain level Skill Rune into a Skill based, again based on the Difficulty Level you are playing with? That seems interesting. My experiences with previous Diablo titles suggests I'll never be able to play above "normal" Difficulty, but that's okay. I'll just read about the higher levels on this forum.


    Yea, as Ophion said they haven't nailed down a system. It used to be based on the difficulty level.

    And how the system works right now is that you need a skill to be at a certain rank to put a high level rune in it.

    Did anyone else think of this as sort of an evolution to what synergies became in D2? Originally intended to allow you to diversify, the synergies really only forced you to focus on a few skills. This seems to do the same, but since the game is actively built around having only a few active skills, it seems like it would work really well this time around.


    Pretty much exactly what I was thinking. Synergies tried to force you to use a small amount of skills when there was a huge amount of options. They definitely learned from their mistakes and are promoting using a small amount of skills in a much better way this time around.


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  • #11
    Yes, it basically gives the same power boost as a synergy, but without forcing you to take a specific set of skills to get the power boost.

    Although reaching rune caps will automatically be less useful in higher skill levels, since the difference between one tier and the next is reduced.

    Tier 1 arcane bolt = 2 projectiles.
    Tier 2 arcane bolt = 3 projectiles.
    Increase = 50%

    Tier 6 arcane bolt = 7
    Tier 7 arcane bolt = 8
    Increase: 14.3%

    Or something like that.
  • #12
    Well the lower upgrade at higher ranks would be made up for by things like adding damage as well as an extra projectile.


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  • #13
    I don't think it should be compensated for. Spreading out skill points should be a viable build decision as well.
  • #14
    They've gone out of their way to make it so that its impossible to spread out points more than just having seven skills. They want builds to be focused on very specific abilities.


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  • #15
    Seven skills is a lot if the max cap is 15 and the max skill points is around 60. I'm just saying that if they choose to not compensate, then it might be equally viable to go with a 10/10/10 distribution of skill points instead of a 15/15. The maximum strength of each skill would be lower, but the total power is higher, making it weaker but more versatile.
  • #16
    Quote from Ophion

    Yes, it basically gives the same power boost as a synergy, but without forcing you to take a specific set of skills to get the power boost.

    Although reaching rune caps will automatically be less useful in higher skill levels, since the difference between one tier and the next is reduced.

    Tier 1 arcane bolt = 2 projectiles.
    Tier 2 arcane bolt = 3 projectiles.
    Increase = 50%

    Tier 6 arcane bolt = 7
    Tier 7 arcane bolt = 8
    Increase: 14.3%

    Or something like that.


    In absolute value they increase equally. And theres no reason to use % over absolute value here.
    Increased number of bolts does increase the skill AoE, not it's damage. And AoE increase must be analysed by if the added AoE will or will not hit an target. It solely depends on the monster desinty of the maps you pretend to go.
    I'm just saying that progression is not that simple. And % to anylise increases is almost a mistake.
    "In time the hissing of her sanity
    Faded out her voice and soiled her name
    And like marked pages in a diary
    Everything seemed clean that is unstained
    The incoherent talk of ordinary days
    Why would we really need to live?
    Decide what is clear and what's within a haze
    What you should take and what to give" - Opeth
  • #17
    I'm assuming that all bolts will hit. The upgrade would be even more useless if bolts start to miss ^^
  • #18
    *Math warning*

    Actually the decreasing percentage increase is just an "illusion" created by using percentage increase instead of absolute damage increase. Each rune upgrade is as good from an absolute damage standpoint.

    If we say 1 bolt does 10 damage (an arbitrary number), then they go like this:

    Rune level 1: 1 bolt - 10 damage
    Rune level 2: 2 bolts - 20 damage
    Rune level 3: 3 bolts - 30 damage
    Rune level 4: 4 bolts - 40 damage
    Rune level 5: 5 bolts - 50 damage
    Rune level 6: 6 bolts - 60 damage
    Rune level 7: 7 bolts - 70 damage

    If the percentage increase remained the same (doubling each level), the skill would become exponentially better:

    Rune level 1: 1 bolt - 10 damage
    Rune level 2: 2 bolts - 20 damage
    Rune level 3: 4 bolts - 40 damage
    Rune level 4: 8 bolts - 80 damage
    Rune level 5: 16 bolts - 160 damage
    Rune level 6: 32 bolts - 320 damage
    Rune level 7: 64 bolts - 640 damage


    So how the change is right now, each of the runes is as big an increase as the past one i.e. the rune levels are "as good". In the latter scenario the rate of change would be exponential, i.e. each rune level would be increasingly better.

    Because only thing that matters at the end of the day is damage. The rate at which your killing time increases is stable. The rate of change measured in percentages - as percentage of damage increase from the past level - is irrelevant. Each rune level speeds your killing speed the same.

    If we say you can fire the spell once per second, we ignore resource constraints, and we assume each monster has 100 hp. We also assume each bolt hits and that you never have to move to find new monsters to kill.

    In the way it's set right now:

    Rune level 1: 1 bolt - 6 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 2: 2 bolts - 12 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 3: 3 bolts - 18 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 4: 4 bolts - 24 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 5: 5 bolts - 30 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 6: 6 bolts - 36 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 7: 7 bolts - 42 monsters killed in a minute


    Of course if we assume someone firing one bolt never misses, the spell decreases in usefulness, as you can't hit 7 monsters with 7 bolts all of the time. However, in practice, you sometimes miss with the one bolt (monsters move, you miss your click, etc.) As such, it is hard to factor "misses" mathematically into the change.

    However, the multishot also gains power from the fact that you have to move once in a while, and with multiple bolts hit, you can damage multiple monsters at once and as such kill more monsters while you're stationary. You also use less resources - assuming that the multishot does not increase the skill's resource cost.

    These two (misses and less time standing + less resource spent) somewhat roughly negate one another.

    And as such as it is now, the potential of the skill increases linearly (i.e. the skill's potential is a straight line).


    TL;DR: Each rune level adds the same damage.

    Percentages are hard. This is no joke. They're rather easy to calculate, but really hard to understand their implications properly.

    Don't let me get started on integrals and derivatives and similar calculus and how hard their practical applications are to understand.

    Blizz has some math wizards there, so I have confidence in them that they miss the obvious pitfalls like this one.
  • #19
    Rune level 1: 1 bolt - 6 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 2: 2 bolts - 12 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 3: 3 bolts - 18 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 4: 4 bolts - 24 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 5: 5 bolts - 30 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 6: 6 bolts - 36 monsters killed in a minute
    Rune level 7: 7 bolts - 42 monsters killed in a minute



    This is exactly what I mean. The difference between killing 6 monsters/minute compared to 12 monsters/minute is a 100% increase. You will kill twice as fast. But upgrading your tier 6 rune to tier 7 will only make you kill about 17% faster. Upgrading the lower tier rune will impact skills in a much more significant way than upgrading a high tier rune. The linear increase will make each upgrade less significant than the previous. An upgrade from tier 20 to tier 21 would increase the number of bolts from 20 to 21, not a very significan't improvement. You might want to spend that skill point on a low level skill you are using, since a rune upgrade would have a much bigger impact.

    Do you increase the damage of your 50 dps Meteor from 600% to 700%, or do you increase the damage of your 50 dps Frost Meteor from 100% to 150%? Meteor gives more dps on first glance, but it is useless vs fire immunes and will not make you kill much faster. The upgraded Frost Meteor on the other hand would kill the immune enemies 50% faster compared to base Frost Meteor. It is the common tradeoff between extreme and balanced builds. Balanced builds tend to have higher total stats but are weaker in the specialised areas of the extreme builds.

    That is why a character with tier 6 runes won't be destroyed in PvP by someone with tier 7 runes, since the tier 7 runes are only slightly better. But a character with tier 1 runes will be destroyed by someone with tier 2 runes because the tier 2 runes are much more powerful than tier 1 runes. The advantage of an upgrade decreases with each tier.

    Frost Bolt
    No rune - 10 Damage
    Rune 1 - 20 Damage (100% more damage than tier 1)
    Rune 2 - 30 Damage
    Rune 3 - 40 Damage
    Rune 4 - 50 Damage
    Rune 5 - 60 Damage
    Rune 6 - 70 Damage
    Rune 7 - 80 Damage (14% more damage than tier 6)

    I think this is what Bashiok means with being able to stay competitive without the very best runes, but still letting the best runes be a significan't reward. Can you beat someone with twice as much dps as you? Probably not, but you should be able to beat one with 14% more dps. You only have to avoid 14% more damage, compared to 100% more damage in the first case.
  • #20
    Quote from Ophion

    This is exactly what I mean. The difference between killing 6 monsters/minute compared to 12 monsters/minute is a 100% increase. You will kill twice as fast. But upgrading your tier 6 rune to tier 7 will only make you kill about 17% faster. Upgrading the lower tier rune will impact skills in a much more significant way than upgrading a high tier rune. The linear increase will make each upgrade less significant than the previous. An upgrade from tier 20 to tier 21 would increase the number of bolts from 20 to 21, not a very significan't improvement. You might want to spend that skill point on a low level skill you are using, since a rune upgrade would have a much bigger impact.


    I know my post was TL;DR, so I'll give an another short explanation:

    The fact that 12 is 100% more than 6 and 42 is only 16,7% more than 36 is irrelevant.

    Each rune level makes you kill 6 more monsters in a minute. The change is equally as significant at each level. The divisor increases and as such the percentage decreases, but on a practical level this is irrelevant. The rate of change is the same.


    Factoring choices between several different skills is a whole another thing. I agree that in reality it is a lot more complex than this when you have constraints and must choose between different skills. But change as rune levels increase is constant.

    It's the same as WoW's armor stat (which is how I suspect DIII armor stat will work, too). The damage reduction percentage is increased at a decreasing rate, but the amount of survival one point of armor adds is the same from the first to the Nth.
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