Drow Mage - Griselda
Most of the spells that a drow is allowed to use, with the exception of charged bolt, are not available before level 18 (24 in some cases!). So, even though I ended up specializing in charged bolt, I didn't spent any skill points until level 18, to see how a drow mage could handle the early levels without skills. I also didn't use any item-granted skills during that time. At level 18 (act 3 IIRC), I put 10 points into charged bolt, and kept it there until beginning Nightmare difficulty (at which point I began to pump CB and LMastery in earnest) At level 24, I began to build meteor, but that is secondary to her skill in charged bolt. She loves to cast cb around corners and through walls and doors when she can. :)
Grizt used a bow for her younger levels. With the proposed rule change to prohibit bows, she'd have used a crossbow (if found) or perhaps some sort of throwing weapon or +charged bolt item if she didn't intend to take CB).
Stat Point Dsitribution
The "dexterity must be 1.5 X vitality" rule has really had an impact on her stat point distribution! First of all, she will never be able to achieve a useable DR due to item restrictions, and she can't use a shield. So, I just raised her strength to 41 (for duskdeep). But, because of the 1.5 dex rule, every point to vit comes at a steep price. She needs life, but the necessary points to dex are literally wasted on a mage who doesn't block or engage in melee (effectively reducing the total number of stat points she has available for useful stats). She can't ignore energy, either, because there aren't a lot of points left for warmth after fire and lightning mastery. At level 52, her current stats are 41, 130, 87, 122. (actually, she could use another point to dex to be "purely" legal). Fully dressed, that gives her 368 life and 439 mana.
I've played her pure, to ensure that the variant would be fun for untwinked characters. One nice side effect is that it didn't hurt her too much to have to remove her items for the desert!
So far, she has:
She also gets a little bit of life and mana from charms. Resists (except cold) are all positive in NM, but are going to really start hurting in Hell. The lack of defense and hitpoints is also likely to really start to hurt about now.
The real highlight for me has been the quirky personality of the drow. I envision her on a quest for power. She goes on the humans' errands in an attempt to gain power over the Prime Evils, not to save the world. But, my personal desire for good coop balances that a bit. In her mind, she'll just "deal with" her party members after they've helped her to gain the power that she so desires. Every now and then she does get a bit grumpy and drops a meteor on the barbarians she's supposed to save, and she can be a bit "grabby" with the shrines that aren't forbidden.
Crossing the desert was a lot of fun; I could really feel the heat as I tried to keep my character cool. I do appreciate the people who were patient with Grizt as she crossed the desert in normal and NM. I did the NM desert a second time, but to cross it again I TP'ed my coop partner down to the Lost City, so that he'd turn out the lights, before we began in the Dry Hills. I don't think Grizt would ever hit the Tainted Sun altar if it weren't for the promise of even greater magic in the Arcane Sanctuary!
The "don't kill spiders" rule was written about when Grizt started NM. After only parking a few in Act 1, it became a real challenge in Act 3. I was able to get Khalim's eye out from under Sszark, but only after multiple deaths; teleporting around naked and luring the mobs off the chest. I could have gotten the eye without any deaths if I'd have remembered to leave a space open in my inv for it (d'oh!). This will be much more challenging for non-sorceresses, but hopefully also fun!
There was also a huge crowd of Spiders guarding Lam Esen's tome, but luckily spiders can't see very well. It was a bit hairy getting spider mobs parked in the rooms on either side of the entrance, and there wasn't much room left to battle Sarina, but challenges like that are what makes the character fun, IMO.
She's played through most of NM with ShoseeXan, a S/S amazon. This combo works well in that Xan can tank, and Grizt has the artillery damage. I think that their biggest challenge (from Grizt's perspective anyway) in NM was probably De Seis; Diablo was distracted and unusually receptive to Faerie Fire (static), and even the Ancients and Baal made the mistake of paying attention to the flashy Amazon, and not noticing the deadly drow at their backs. I look forward to seeing how this progresses as the going starts to really get tough.