The Lost Journal of Li0nh8rt the Paladin


The problem with Online Role-Playing Games like Everquest and Diablo II is that they have nothing to do with Role-Playing. It's all click-and-kill, repeating the same actions and quests over and over again to gain power, money and items, with little thought given to character, interaction or true development on a personal level. But maybe that's because such things are truly impossible. Perhaps this recently discovered journal can explain what it's like to be a real character in a world bereft of meaning. Or perhaps it'll just emphasize the futility of trying to explain the inexplicable.

Week 1.

Today I wandered into a small hamlet, where I was greeted with some degree of skepticism by the inhabitants. I learned that they were having some problems with some monsters in a nearby cave, and needed some help clearing the place out. For some reason, despite the fact that I'm obviously destitute, running around in my underwear with a rusty sword, the town's blacksmith refuses to part with any of her armor or weapons to aid me in my quest. Perhaps this is merely a test of my resolve, handed down by the Almighty, in whose name I venture off to defeat the evil triad of Mephisto, Diablo and Baal. Anyway, off to the caves.

I returned from the caves this morning, having spent the night there in silent meditation after easily dispatching the twoscore creatures found therein. I have to wonder why a town filled with skilled archers couldn't handle a few zombies and porcupines. The point is moot, alas, since the people of the hamlet have finally accepted me at face value. The town elder even offered me training in a skill of my choice as a reward; I had no idea she knew how to train paladins. One thing that nags at me, however, is the fact that she wouldn't tell me about the magical artifacts I had found until I paid her up front. Oh well. These people have strange ways, I suppose, and these are difficult times. At least now I have some armor.

A steady rain in my face awoke me today, and as I rose and unkinked my back I once again wondered why these friendly people slept in warm tents while I was forced to sleep in the open air every night. At least I have a spot by the fire. And a companion -- a friendly sorceress has wandered into town, and she offered to assist me in my quest. In good time, too; apparently, the sorceress had been talking to the town's head guard, and she informed us that one of their leaders had been possessed by an evil demon, and had taken up residence in the nearby graveyard. How could we refuse to help these good people? We eagerly volunteered for the job.

Well, that was a fiasco, to say the least. The good news is that we killed the rogue archer and her undead minions. But that's about all the good that came of it. It turns out this sorceress was more powerful than I expected, and by the time I was able to unsheath my weapon and charge into the graveyard with a holy cry, she had already killed everything in sight and had proceeded to loot and desecrate the remaining graves and crypts, despite my protests. In the name of my Lord, I commanded her to stop, but she ignored me, and when I protested a second time, she got aggressive with me and started shooting bolts of ice in my direction. Luckily I had purchased a Portal scroll earlier in the day, and I was able to escape back to town. I will never again journey beside the Sorceress Skie(Ice-MageMule).

During my travels through the nearby swamps, I came across a ring of monoliths, guarded by some fierce demons who quickly chased me off. Luckily, there happened to be a skilled Amazon warrior in town, and she was more than happy to accompany me back to the stones to slay the beasts. I was not at all familiar with her language, but I had time to learn, as she accompanied me through a magical portal in the middle of the stones to another town, where we rescued an old Sage. Some Amazon words I learned include: "afk," which apparently means that it's time to meditate for several minutes; "pally," which is the Amazonian word for Paladin; and "ptptptpt," which indicates a desire for me to open a portal to her location.

When I spoke with the Sage this morning, he was so thrilled at having been rescued that he agreed to identify items for me free of charge from now on. The town elder will no doubt be upset that I won't be paying her for this service any more, but I'm running out of coin, so this is a necessary evil. And she didn't seem too upset, since she did give me a magic ring that she had laying around her tent. Speaking of evil... today, a Necromancer and an Assassin wandered into town, and invited me along on their quest to rid the local Monastery of evil forces. This seemed a bit hypocritical of them, but the Lord works in mysterious ways, so I agreed to come along with them. I must say that their powers were impressive; between the three of us, we managed to recover the town blacksmith's hammer, AND defeat the evil demon who lived in the catacombs. Interestingly, my two companions also spoke in the Amazon tongue; I must study this language more carefully, as it appears to be spoken across the land.

Things aren't going as planned. I returned to the town with my friends and discovered that the caravan master was willing to take me to the nearest desert town, which just so happened to be the direction I was heading in my quest to defeat evil. Since today is the Lord's day, I opted instead to spend it in meditation and rest. I remembered the cave that I had cleared out several days ago as being quite peaceful and restive, but when I returned there I was shocked to find that it was once again filled up with foul creatures from the underworld. Of course, I dispatched them (begging forgiveness from the Lord for doing such bloody work on the Sabbath), but a sense of doubt filled my head, and I wandered over to the nearby cemetery to discover that my suspicions were correct; not only had all the zombies once again risen from the dead, by their leader, the rogue archer, had also returned. I slew her again, but I fear that a cycle of evil has begun here that I may not be able to handle alone. And the worst part; no one in town wants to acknowledge that this evil has returned right outside their village. They seem to be in denial. I fear for their lives. Perhaps I had better head off to this desert town as soon as possible; dallying here to slay an unceasing stream of minor demons will only delay my showdown with greater evils elsewhere.

Week 2.

Apparently the folk here have heard of my prowess, for they accepted me with open arms; even the town elder came right to the gate to greet me as I entered. However, these people also appear to be suffering from severe financial difficulties, since they, too, seem unwilling to offer their services for free in exchange for my defense of their city. I treat it as just another tithe and do my work for the Lord in silence. As the afternoon waned on, a group of wanderers like myself asked if I would venture into the sewers beneath the town with them. I agreed, and together with an Sxkxhfe the Amazon, Wteuded the Barbarian and another Necromancer named D3thstab(poison), we vanquished the zombies in the sewers and returned triumphant to the surface. The entire time was spent in relative silence, the three speaking some odd language consisting of strange characters that I suspect is of Far Eastern origin. However, by speaking with them in broken Amazonian, we were able to convey basic concepts and get the job done.

A strange thing happened today that I can only explain as the work of the Almighty. I was questing in the surrounding desert for the component pieces of a staff that would reveal the location of a tomb I had to enter, when a group consisting of several Barbarians, a Sorceress and a Druid invited me along with them to the tomb itself. I attempted to explain as best I could in the Amazon tongue that I had not yet located the staff, but it turns out that the Sorceress already had it with her! Pleased at this stroke of fortune, I went with them and we defeated another great demon who resided in the tomb. To my dismay, Mephisto was not to be found there; he had already fled to a nearby swamp town. Luckily, a ship's captain was willing to take me there that very night, along with my companions. I had expected to spend more time here in this warm climate, enjoying the sun, but it appears my path will lead me down darker, damper paths.

The ship has arrived at long last, and I can tell already that I will not like this place much. The people are friendly enough, but the air is stifling and filled with large bugs who sting unceasingly. I had hoped to rest and get my bearings, but the other members of my party were eager to move along. The old sage, who accompanied me here, had told me that I would need to locate several relics from an old magician, but as it turns out he was mistaken; one of the Barbarians knew of a magical Waypoint right into Mephisto's lair, and before the sun had set my bold party had slain the demon once and for all. A portal to Hell itself opened before us, and singing songs of praise to the Lord for this great victory, I plunged headlong into it and was whisked away to do battle with Diablo.

Once again, my expectations were exceeded dramatically. I have waited my entire life for the chance to do battle with the dread lord Diablo, ruler of Hell, and I was expecting to have to wade through ranks of foul demons to get to him. However, shortly after a quick breakfast of hardtack and jerky, a blue portal opened before me and a Sorceress stepped through, inviting me along to kill Diablo. I trembled in my boots, but a quick prayer to the Lord Almighty gave me the courage to strap on my armor and join her in Diablo's lair. Shortly after we arrived, several stalwart Barbarians and a Necromancer joined us, and together we slew Diablo in just a few seconds. I had not expected the lord of Hell himself to be so easily succumbed, but perhaps this is merely proof that the power of the Almighty is greater than that of evil.

I am becoming a bit fatigued. Our adventuring party returned to the nearby safe haven, where we were shocked to learn that Baal, seeking vengeance for the death of his brother Diablo, had lain siege to a northern barbarian town. Shirking rest, my companions and I proceeded through a portal into this town, where the barbarian leadership there informed me that demons had surrounded the town, while Baal had fled to his mountaintop lair. As we broke the seige around the town, I began to notice strange inconsistencies in the world around me. For example, there is the matter of coin. Every demon I kill is carrying hundreds of gold coins, but none of them are wearing any clothing. Where do they keep it? And what about the porcupines and foul birds? Even they have coins. And the demons in Hell itself; what use do they have for coin down there? And this is to say nothing of the fact that these people leave their valuables sitting around in open view. Just today, I discovered several dozen chests and barrels lying around the hillside. Morality had kept me from pilfering these before, but I gave into temptation today and opened a few, and discovered all sorts of things: potions, weapons, armor... But even here, there is no logic. An unlocked barrel might contain valuable gems, while a locked, trapped chest could contain a broken sword. It is as if all sense has left the world.

Surprise after surprise. A Necromancer in town told me that he had knowledge of a magical Waypoint in the heart of Baal's lair, which we used to enter unseen, sneak up on him and slay him within 10 minutes of my arrival. I have to wonder why a town of angry, strong barbarians couldn't handle this task, especially considering how easy it was to get inside Baal's fortress. After we dispatched Baal, a portal appeared, and I happily walked through, a bit confused but nevertheless pleased to have finally defeated the great evils. Now that the world is cleansed of their foulness, I can return to a life of poverty and service to mankind.

I spent today in silent meditation to atone for my foul thoughts yesterday. I feel that the Lord has forgiven me, and tomorrow I will venture forth to do battle with some of the minor demons that still plague the area. They seem to be a lot tougher than I remember, however.

Week 3.

What in God's name is going on here? Am I having a nightmare? As I mentioned, I was whisked away to the small hamlet where I began this adventure, but now it seems that all of the inhabitants have been rendered dumb, or cursed with amnesia, for none of them ever remember seeing me before. And to make matters worse, the old sage has been recaptured, the swamps and caves are filled with more creatures, and the townsfolk are once again milking me for all my money. Don't these people have any sense of morality and decency? Arrrrrggggh!

I have no doubts now that this is just a horrible nightmare from which I will never awaken. Knowing the path before me, I had expected to once again have to do battle with hordes of foul creatures, but instead a group of adventurers invited me along with them and in a two-hour blitz, we skipped along magical Waypoints to defeat the head demons who had once again risen from the dead to seize control of the world. By the time the day was through, my head was spinning and we were once again staring down at the corpse of Baal, who had joined Mephisto and Diablo in eternal rest at the end of our blades. I have to wonder why they were foolish enough to keep these Waypoints into their lairs operational; if I were in their shoes, I would have destroyed them the first time.

Forget the nightmare; it is obvious that I am no longer asleep, or even alive. I am in Hell. Yes, that's it, Hell. I entered the portal after defeating Baal, and once again found myself in the original hamlet, with no one remembering who I was. Once more, the countryside was filled with evil creatures bent on our destruction, and once more I joined a group of adventurers in skipping along Waypoints to defeat the prime evils. But no... this must be a test from God. I will do his will and vanquish evil, even if it means that I must spend my life in Hell.

It never ends. Every night I sleep, and every morning I wake up and a group of adventurers are there ready to wander off into the hills surrounding the barbarian town to break the seige. Can't these people see that this war cannot be won? Evil is sending an unceasing string of demons our way, and no matter how many of them we kill, or how many of their magical weapons we capture, we can't ever seem to put them to rest forever. I believe I am going insane.

Sleep is but a memory. Today, my fellow adventurers and I broke the seige around the barbarian town 27 times in a row before my hands could no longer hold a sword steady. I no longer have any doubts that I am trapped in Hell. I cannot escape. I never eat. I never sleep. I never urinate. I have been killed and resurrected dozens of times, often several times in a row, and in the end it always ends the same way, with me throwing my body and sword into the fray and walking away covered in demon blood. I am become Death, destroyer of demons.

The Almighty has abandoned me at last! Today I was accompanying a group of Barbarians and a Sorceress on our 57th trip to break the siege around the barbarian town when the Sorceress attacked and slew me without cause. I returned to vanquish her, but she killed me again while the Barbarians laughed at me. I died a dozen times before she got bored and let me retrieve my equipment. Now, as I look around me at my fellow adventurers, I can see the same behavior in all of them. No longer content to merely defeat evil, they have taken to killing one another, knowing that they cannot truly die. Do none of them see that they are trapped in a Hellish nightmare from which there is no escape? They almost seem to take pleasure in the killing. I fear that I am starting to share in their sentiment.

It occurs to me that I haven't seen any other Paladins since I started this adventure. Maybe it's just me. Maybe my doubts and my sins have cast me into the fires of Hell, into an eternal loop from which there is no escape. Let's see, what did I do today? Killed a thousand demons. Broke seige 78 times. Killed Baal 17 times. Killed Diablo 5 times. But I can't kill the bastard shopkeeper for charging me 250 coins for a potion that he knows I can find lying outside on the ground for free. I've decided that it's not worth going on any more. I'm going to find a nice empty field and fall on my sword. I know that suicide is a sin, but what difference does it make? The demons can't kill me permanently, my companions can't kill me permanently, and if I'm already in Hell then what difference does it make? Maybe this way, at last, I can find eternal peace in oblivion. Farewell, cruel world...

True. True.

Online Diablo sucks. People just treat it like a glorified version of quake, which it is in a way. The worst thing is the complete lack of interaction and the obsession with grabbing items and killing monsters all the time. When was the last time you ever had a meaningful conversation with another player? Also, Blizzard may boast hordes of female characters running around (Amazon, Sorceress, Assassin) but you just know that it's only blokes playing this game. They like to titillate other guys in the hope that they're playing with a female gamer. :-)

I might be mistaken here, but I don't think that Diablo 2 was ever meant to be a role-playing game. It was meant to be an adventure game. People often assume that any game with a fantasy theme is intended as an RPG, and I'm not really sure why.

Related: Welcome to Lut Gholein (here is your cracked buckler).

>People often assume that any game
>with a fantasy theme is intended as
>an RPG, and I'm not really sure why.

Because the lines are blurry. Ok, top-down 3/4 view games: Diablo 2, Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment, Arcanum. Which are RPGs and which are Adventure games? All involve little figures running around killing things, all involve some dialogue interaction with other characters. All involve the ability to increase your statistics and gain items. All involve playing a role as another individual. So where does the line get drawn?

Or take first-person style games: Half-Life, Everquest, Anarchy Online, Unreal. All involve some degree of improvement (for the first-person shooters, this is typically in the guise of better equipment, whereas with Everquest and AO, it's also in the guise of character improvement.) All involve dialogue interaction to some degree. All involve mass killing of things. Again, where does one draw the line?

To get back to Diablo II, I assert that it's being considered an RPG. Most game review sites and online stores freely refer to it as "an action RPG ". Consider: They use the same terminology (NPCs, PCs, etc) as RPGs; the same style of hack-and-slash killing is present in plenty of Dungeons & Dragons campaigns I know of; and Diablo II even released a d20 System rulebook or two. For most people, this *is* role-playing. And I suppose technically, it is; they're playing a role, after all, even if that role is bloodthirsty killer.

And for the final word on this one, visit

I quote from their little blurb on Diablo, the original game: "this dark role-playing adventure..."

Also look at the awards Diablo and Diablo II won:

Role-Playing Game of the Year - Computer Games Strategy Plus
Role-Playing Game of the Year - Computer Net Player
Role-Playing Game of the Year - Online Game Review
Role-Playing Game of the Year - Gamecenter
Role-Playing Game of the Year - runner-up - PC Gamer
1998 Best Role-Playing Game - Software Publishers Association
Best Role-playing Game of the Year, Editor's Choice Awards - PC Games
Ranked second Best Role-Playing game of All Time - Gamecenter

Diablo II:
Roleplaying Game of the Year - Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences
Roleplaying Game of the Year - PC Dome Magazine

I think the lines between RPG and action are definitely blurred in Diablo. Funnily enough, it was D that got me interested in RPGs in the first place. I think the best way to think of Diablo and its' sequel is as an 'action RPG' - taking the bare esentials of hack & slash and making them palatable to the mass market. The problem is, though, that many of us D1 players expected a greater degree of complexity with new challenges in D2. Consider another Blizzard game, Warcraft. The original game had just two races, a fairly basic set of units and two terrain tilesets (swamp & woods). In the sequel, vast numbers of new units, terrain types and plot twists were added, but it was still fairly easy for new players to get into the game. In the next Warcraft, Blizzard are going to include even more races and 3D graphics technology. Now be honest - apart from a variety of new weapons, skills and characters with which to eviscerate hordes of demons, what is there to really set D2 apart from the first game? As far as I can tell, the only really effective new edition is the inclusion of Mercenaries. This at least allows you to maintain a semblance of 'party based' exploring and interaction. Also, you tend to care for the mercenary more as they get more experienced (more valuable) adding a slightly RPG-ish slant to the proceedings.

Hey I am one of the few woman that play on D2 and I try to always play the female chars, simple because they rule more than the barbarians, necros and paladins. Although I did play a druid up to 40's. Anyways, my husband got me hooked on the game and so I'm stuck to persue this endless loop forever like Lionh8rt!

As one of the finest sailors in Sanctuary, I feel I must also add my angle of this story. There is another occurence which Lionheart failed to mention. As you know, after he had defeated Duriel, the noble paladin enlisted my services in order to sail east of Lut Gholein, across the vast sea to the jungle lands of the far east. After we had reached Kurast, the paladin discovered some plate armour which he deigned worthy enough to be imbued by Charsi, a blacksmith of the Rogue Sisterhood back in Kanduras. I offered the use of my ship once more, but Lionheart decided instead to use the portal in the docks to return to the faraway rogue camp. It's just as well that only adventurers can use those things, or I'd be out of business. Then, the strangest thing happened. I found myself back in the docks of Port Lut Gholein, with my trusty ship somehow transported across the ocean. There was Lionheart, arrayed in his splendid new ensorcelled armour, apparently oblivious to the fact that I shouldn't be there at all. I kept quiet, and agreed when he suggested I sail back across the sea to Kezekstahn again. Eventually, we reached Kurast and no more strangeness occurred, although I did exchange a golden figurine for another statuette with my companion before he disappeared somewhere in Upper Kurast. Still, 'tis strange, no?

And you never seem to notice that I keep sneaking on board without paying. It's amazing that I'm so clever when it comes to sneaking onto ships; I manage to get captured by the Blacksmith of Tristram every other week it seems. You'd think I'd learn to avoid that place.

I would have done it, too, if it hadn't been for you pesky adventurers!

It is always nice to see people make comments and post information to support arguements that are completely misdirected.

To those of you who feel that there is an issue with RPG or the lack there of using Diablo as an example is a poor choice.

For starters role-players create role-playing environments. It is not possible for a game such as EQ or Diablo to wholly create an RPG feel. As a matter of fact the game needs to lend very little to a gamer other than story line and a method of chat to allow for good "role-playing".

Most of you are correct however, in saying that there is a "lack" of RPG, but I think that statement should be clarified to mean a lack of RPG gamers. It is unfortunate that the majority of players who enter game worlds such as EQ, AC, UO, AO, and play them as Quake or a glorified shooter. These non-RPG'rs are definately masking the efforts of those of us who care to play the part.

So to say that it is impossible to have a game with true RPG potential is incorrect, RPG is out there and people are participating. RPG games have not failed, the players have failed the game in some sense.

To play the devils advocate here I do want to say that there needs to be subcategories of the RPG genre. Diablo is an RPG by defintion of character development etc, however I as do most of you feel that there are other forms truer to the word RPG that should be evaluated differently. As Bud pointed out, Diablo winning so many awards for best of this and that , HEH makes me sick.

Thank goodness I managed to find someone in a similar predicament to me. Lionheart, you think things are bad. Believe me, you have no idea. I am a Sorceress, aged - well, it's hard to explain. Like my mother, who's always lived a sheltered, non-magical existance in a hut in the woods with my father, I have pale skin, blue eyes and long, dark hair. I'm slender, but not so much so as to be unattractive. Like you, I set out to defeat Diablo, but found myself side-tracked when I chanced upon a strange cave in the northern marches. Don't ask me what I was doing there, but I stumbled upon a couple of other enchantresses who were looking for a third member of their coven. It seems that they had discovered a unique scroll, the Parchment of Tybesdar, which had lain undiscovered for a thousand years. The other two girls had realised that the scroll would allow us to cast Mezuman's Temporal Travel, the only spell in existence that can take a person back in time.

Our plan was simple - return to Kanduras many years ago, when Leoric was younger, and convince him to take steps to prevent anyone from penetrating the depths of the Horadrim Monastery. Here, however, was the catch - only one of us could go back in time, and once there, she could never return to her own time by magical means. After some deliberation, it was decided that I, being pretty powerful at just 23 years old, should be the one to go back in time. Full of determination, I readied my most powerful spells (and put on my best dress) for the task ahead, although not before returning to my mother and explaining what I was about to do. She seemed strangely unaffected, and I wondered if there was something she wasn't telling me.

Anyway, I rejoined the girls and we chose a suitably dark and stormy night in which to cast the spell. Thunder roared all around as we chanted arcane liturgies, and there was a great incandescent flare as a searingly bright, dimensional portal appeared before me. Posing dramatically, I turned to the others and waved goodbye, before stepping into the portal. As I did so, I grinned with smugness. All these problems had been caused by men - Archbishop Lazarus, King Leoric, and the dumb warrior who thought he could contain Diablo by ramming a Soulstone into his head. Now, these problems would finally be solved, and a WOMAN would be the one to do it. After all, all those years of feminism and female empowerment must have achieved something, mustn't they?

How wrong I was. In our haste to alter history, myself and my fellow enchantresses had overlooked one small but important detail. The temporal portal only allowed living tissue to pass through, not items or weapons of any kind. To make matters worse, (unbeknown to us) any magical powers or skills would be totally erased by the dimensional journey. Thus I found myself on the same dark, rain-lashed hillside, several decades ago. Surrounded by wild boar. With no spells, potions or scrolls, no Viridian Staff of the Jackal and worst of all, no clothes. I raised my hand to blast the angry pigs, but instead of an invocation the only sound that came from my mouth was a high-pitched, girlish scream. I realised with horror that I had become just another pathetic damsel in distress, and I yelled helplessly with terror as the wild boars advanced on me.

Then, from nowhere, a tall (well, he was about 5' 9") leather clad warrior appeared and began spinning and twirling a bejewelled runesword around as though it was some majorette's baton. It flashed impressively in the gloom, then he dropped the damn thing and I screamed, desperately 'Will you just get on with killing them, and stop showing off!' He looked at me, then when he saw I wasn't wearing any clothes looked quickly away again, and got on with the unpleasant business of slaughtering the agressive hogs.

I stood by, trembling with embarassment as he slew the last of them, then returned his attentions to me. 'Come with me if you want to live,' he said (although he said it so awkwardly that the heroic effect was spoiled somewhat) and swept me up in his arms. As I felt the creaking black leather brush against my quivering, naked body I was ashamed to realise that I was actually enjoying this. What would Akara, or Kashya, or Xena think of me? I shuddered.

The young man eventually laid me down when we reached some woods, and quickly took a spare robe and some clothes from his pack, for which I was very grateful. He chivalrously looked the other way as I clothed myself once more, then gently began to try to calm me down, for I was understandably in quite a state. He explained that he was a wandering adventurer in Kanduras, and was journeying to Tristram to join the court of King Leoric. Immediately, I blurted out everything that had happened, and by now I was of the opinion that my quest was a lost cause. What could I, divested of my magical powers, do to stop the collapse of Leoric's kingdom? Desperately, I tried to convince the warrior that we should go into hiding in the northern forests, and lie low until the strife and turmoil had dissipated. He protested at first, but eventually he laughed and agreed, saying that he would like to spend some time with me to get to know me better. I think he was somewhat enamoured of me, and to be quite honest, I was already rather growing to like him for his decency and understanding nature. Perhaps, I reasoned, men weren't so bad after all.

We stole away into the forests of Kanduras, leaving all thoughts of politics and worldly concern to spend time together, alone in the verdant depths. My companion built a little log cabin in the woods at the edge of a small village, and we spent months and months in each other's company. Time passed, and our love was not diminished; rather, it grew and blossomed into a raging inferno of adulation and wild passion as we fell head over heels in love with each other. Eventually, we got married and settled down together, with not a care in the world.

It occurred to me that we had made our home in the woods very close to where my mother and father lived, or at least, were GOING to live, and I often wandered the woods alone trying to find them. I knew they wouldn't recognise me, but my confidence was unrewarded as I always failed to find them. Eventually, I stopped worrying about this niggling matter and returned to my husband's arms, delighting in the sensation of his warm and loving kisses.

Years passed and I all but forgot about my past (/future?), so much so that it eventually seemed as though I had never been a Sorceress. I tried, of course, to do some spells, and when those failed, I attempted minor conjurations and feats which, even when I was a girl, I had been easily capable of. Again, nothing. I forgot about sorcery - what use was magic when I had love? My husband, ever understanding, was wise and sympathetic - truly, he is the man I've always longed for. Eventually, we had a child, a daughter, whom I named Kassandra after myself, for she bore an uncanny resemblance to me. The likeness was always an amusement to my husband, who was as amazed as I was at the incredible similarity I shared with my daughter.

When she was approaching her teens, my daughter, to my great surprise and joy, started to display signs of magical aptitude. It began with small things - making pencils hover in mid-air, then setting fire to the cat (which I hastily doused, of course), then pushing a stool over with the force of her mind. My husband, slightly worried at first, began to share my delight as it became obvious that like me, the girl's destiny clearly indicated she would become a Sorceress.

The time came at last, when the Zan Esu selected my daughter to try the test of magic, and she was delighted when, of course, she passed the trial, showing herself to be worthy as a Sorceress. Our girl left home, and we didn't see her again for many years as she immersed herself in the arts of magic. Eventually, she came home, a fully fledged young sorceress, and I was overjoyed at how beautiful and confident she looked. My husband gasped, and he later explained to me that it was because our daughter looked EXACTLY as I had done when he first rescued me from the hillside all those years ago (although, of course, with more clothing).

The girl had a troubled look on her face, and I asked what it was that distressed her so. She explained the ills that had befallen Tristram and Leoric's madness - how Archbishop Lazarus had betrayed his countrymen and unleashed Diablo upon the world. My husband cursed, but his spirits were lifted when he learned that another warrior had slain the demon. But then my daughter told me what I already knew, what I had dreaded - that Diablo had now risen once more, and had wandered into the far East to raise an unstoppable army of demons.

My husband wanted to fight for his kingdom, but even he knew that it was too late - he was too old, we both were, to be of assistance. If only I had not lost my magical powers! I tried to stop my child, but she was adamant that she would take part in the battle against Diablo. Eventually, we gave her our best love and bid our beautiful daughter farewell, wishing her every success in her brave battle. A thought came to me - I don't fully know why - but I vaguely suggested that she might journey awhile in the northern marches to build up her experience before travelling eastwards. She nodded thoughtfully, and gave us a smile of such heartbreaking beauty that I had to fight to keep the tears from my eyes. Then she left us, and we prayed that she would return one day, in good health.

Some time passed, and as my husband and I waited anxiously, the news reached us, even in our secluded little hamlet, of countless atrocities committed by demonic hordes that assailed the kindoms of Sanctuary. Finally, the wondrous day arrived at last when my daughter returned, and I was pleased to see that she was, as yet, unnaffected by the rigours of battle. She explained that she had not yet travelled eastwards, but her adventures had taken her to a cave in the north of Kanduras. There, she had met a coven of enchantresses who had devised a plan that might rid Sanctuary of Diablo's curse forever. I and my husband were encouraged to hear this, and although I didn't say it out lour, I was curious as to whether this was the same coven that I had joined.

I had never told my daughter the manner of how I came to meet her father, but for a moment, I was tempted. Eventually, I decided not to, but for a moment, I was tempted. Eventually, I decided against it, but again I wished her success in her plan. She explained to me that I would probably never see her again, but she would do her best to stay alive. My husband and I nodded - we strove to hide our overwhelming grief at this seemingly inevitably panting, but convinced ourselves that it would be a justified sacrifice in the struggle against the common enemies of manking. My daughter left, and fortunately she was too far away to hear when I broke down in great floods of tears, hugging my husband as he held me warmly and lovingly. We stood there for long minutes, clutching each other tightly, then I asked him if I could be on my own for a while. He agreed, and left me alone, although I knew that he would have held me and comforted me for an eternity if he had to.

I went into my study, for though I had lost my powers, I still enjoyed reading, and consulted my books. I had tried to record and document the strange events surrounding my life, and although the details of the time-shift were vague to me, one thing stood out. It was the date upon which I had walked through the portal, emblazoned forever on my mind. And there it was, on the page. And as I looked at it, a strange suspicion came over me. I picked up the calendar, dreading and disbelieving what had just insinuated itself into my mind. Eventually, my finger reached the date, today's date. And the breath left my lungs; for a moment, my heart almost stopped beating, and I had to count to ten to try to calm myself down. For the date upon which I had entered the temporal shift was exactly the same as the today's date.

Instantly, I rushed to my husband and told him what I had seen - he didn't believe me at first. But he sure believed me when he saw the date written on paper. We held each other's hands tightly, our hearts pounding - what were we going to do? If only I still had my magical powers, I could have used telepathy to warn my beloved daughter. But somehow, I knew that fate was at work here. We sat together that night, as a great storm enveloped the western kingdoms, and I somehow knew what I dare not tell my husband. At last, the fateful hour arrived.

As my husband and I sat there, holding each other's hands, a searing, crackling energy enveloped us and I felt myself being flung back across gulfs of time. As I was hurled through time and space, I somehow knew that my husband was with me as well, being cast into boundless depths of infinity.

Finally, lighting flashed and I found myself on a dark hillside again, young, unclad and horrified at suddenly losing my Sorceress powers. Shocked, I looked up as wild boars came towards me. I raised my hand and tried to speak words of power, but a high pitched, wailing scream was all that came out. I shrieked again and my husband appeared, youthful once more, his sword gleaming in the moonlight. Swiftly he slew the wild boars - once they were dispatched, he took me in his arms, naked and trembling, and gazed into my eyes. Desperately, I began to ask him if he remembered going back in time. Bemused, he met my frenzied gabbling with a puzzled expression.

At that moment, I realised that he didn't know. We were back to square one again, doomed to start over. Then another thought struck me, and I realised the full horror of the situation. You see, I AM my own mother. I had gone back in time and given birth to my future self. And now I'm doomed to repeat the cycle ad infinitum. As I looked up into the kindly face of my husband-to-be, I gave a despairing little sigh, shuddered weakly, and passed out.

When I came around, I tried all sorts of things, I tried changing my actions, trying to steer us in a different direction or make things happen differently. But I can't seem to do it - every time (and I've been repeating the loop for what must be an eternity) things DO happen slightly differently, but the overall outcome is always the same. I've tried to reason with my husband, but he never seems to be able to affect things. If I didn't have his kind and loving support, I think I'd go mad, but deep down in my heart I know that he is just as much a prisoner in this as I am.

There has to be a way out, but I just can't figure out what it is. I can't tell my daughter not to do the ritual - if I don't send her back, I won't exist. God, a girl could go insane thinking about this. And the worst thing of all is that I seem to be the only one who's actually aware of what's happening. I must have accumulated years of knowledge and wisdom, but I can't do anything to alter my destiny. I never have my magical powers, because they only exist when my younger self is in being, and there's no way I can access them, as they're in HER possession, and I'm terrified that if I interfere in some way I might upset the very fabric of reality.

The bottom line is this, pally - before you start shooting off and moaning about how bad your life is, remember that there's always someone worse off than you are. Believe me, giving birth HURTS. It was bad enough the first time, but can you imagine what it's like to give birth to YOURSELF over and over again? I've done it 364 times so far, and no, it DOESN'T get any less painful with experience. I'm sorry, but I'm sure you'll understand now why I'm a little cranky. I'm an optimist, and I keep trying to tell myself that one day it will all be over, but somehow I have a curious feeling that this is something to do with destiny. I don't think I can actually die. You see, this loop, this... neverending circle, actually seems to be PART of the space time continuum now. It's no longer within my capability to effect change, but I shall go on, for evermore if I have to. But just be aware, there are people in the same boat as you, and you have my deepest sympathy. Maybe one day you'll find some way of getting us out of this infernal mess.

- Kassandra

Stupid barbarians. I betray them to Baal and imprison their stupid Anya in ice, and after the heroes rescue her and "kill me," somehow they all forget what I did and let me back into the village again. After that, it's a simple matter of luring the little girl back into the River of Ice with some candy.

PS. I think Kassandra tells a good story. It would be cool to see someone like her writing a story every week or two here. I for one would read them weekly. Even if I am an evil necromancer.

Rakanishu rakanishu rakanishu. Rakanishu rakanishu. Rakanishu. Pika pika pikachu chu.


Nihlathak: In response to your comment, I certainly might think about it. I'll need to proof-read a bit more carefully, though - there are still some spelling mistakes in the script (ngggh) :-)

I read with great interest the journal of Lionheart, whom I remember aiding whilst he was adventuring in Lut Gholein. As a learned Vizjerei mage, I am usually more nonchalant about strange ocurrences than most people. But I have noticed a few extremely curious happenings here in the Jewel City. Firstly, although Greiz maintains to be protecting the city with his free company of mercenaries, there seem to be none of them in sight. It is extremely strange, as Lionheart tells me that the Rogue Camp in Kanduras and the Kurast docks are heavily patrolled by sentries. Yet the only thing keeping the minions of darkness out of Lut Gholein seems to be the threat of my puissant magic. Another disquieting revelation is the fact that there seem to be no more adventuring Vizjerei. Even worse, whenever a charming young Zan Esu sorceress comes into town, I have to greet her with an extremely patronising and sexist comment about her powers probably not being great enough. I can't understand why I feel compelled to do this, because I have the greatest respect for both fellow mages and women. And of course, many of these sorceresses are very powerful even before they have finished their adventures in the desert. But the strangest thing of all is this - every now and then, the city gate changes position. Sometimes it's in the northeast city wall, near my stall, and sometimes it's in the northwest wall. I cannot for the life of me work out why, unless it's part of some ancient enchantment to protect the town from intruders. Anyway, I have often seen adventurers lead groups of monsters back to town, the beasts becoming 'stuck' by an invisible barrier just outside the gates preventing them from entering. Curiously, I can't seem to launch magic at them, despite the fact I would very much like to aid the adventurers. Most peculiar.

*ROTFL* I love it.. That's really how I felt, and I was playing the 1-player game! Thank you, I'll stick with tabletopping...

Heh heh heh.....

All paladins fall to me once or another...

Oh, and Lionheart, the reason you have seen no other Paladins is because Paladins SUCK.

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Such are the crosses that we bear Li0nhe8rt.