BlizzCon 2010: Diablo III “Skill Runes” Explained

In Diablo II, you could attach “Runes” to weapons for various awesome effects. As we learned at the “Hero Emerges” panel at BlizzCon, Runes are returning to Diablo III, but they function very differently. Blizzard hadn’t discussed the Runes system in over a year, so there was a lot to learn.

As Julian Love, Lead Technical Artist on Diablo III explained, Runes have been transformed into “Skill Runes.” Instead of augmenting the powers of weapons, now you attach Runes (like gems) to your skills to alter what they do, and how they look.

There are five different “flavors” of Runes in Diablo III: Crimson, Indigo, Obsidian, Golden, Alabaster. Each of these Rune types bring an entirely different flavor of change to whatever skill they are applied to. Additionally, each Rune can be leveled up 7 levels, for varying degrees of intensity. The higher the Rune rank, the more crazy the skill becomes.

For example, the Wizard’s Magic Missile Skill: when unaltered, it shoots one missile per cast. With the level 1 Indigo Rune, it shoots 2 missiles per cast. With a level 7 Indigo Rune, it shoots multiple missiles per cast (below).

To illustrate how each of the Rune types affect a given skill, let’s look at the “Plague of Toads” spell for the Witch Doctor.

The Crimson Rune lights all of the frogs on Fire. The Golden Rune reduces the cost, so you can have more frogs. The Alabaster Rune causes the frogs to explode, and emit a blinding gas. The Indigo Rune adds a “toad blizzard” as Julian Love described it, a rain of toads. Finally, the Obsidian Rune spawns one giant toad that eats monsters.

I think I have to end this post right here. Nothing can follow a giant monster-eating toad.

One last detail on Runes. Obviously they will add bunch of possible build types, given all the different skill/Rune combinations. But how big is that number, you ask? Julian Love told us. Ready?


That’s ninety-six billion, and change.

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