This variant involves dedicated characters, which are started from scratch and used only for a single run at the Ultimate Quest. The idea is to play all the way through a single game of Diablo, from level 1 all the way to eliminating Diablo, in multiplayer.
The Ultimate Quest may be undertaken solo, or in partnership with one or two friends. If playing in partnership, no character classes may be duplicated. So the possible combinations are Warrior/Mage, Warrior/Rogue, Rogue/Mage. For three players, Warrior/Rogue/Mage. If Questing alone, any character class may be chosen.
If a soulstone is earned by slaying Diablo in normal mode, the Quest may carry over to another game in Nightmare mode. Each successfully completed game opens the way for another game to be played. Note that it may take more than one complete game in Nightmare mode for characters to reach level 30, to be eligible for Hell mode play. If three soulstones are earned by legally completing an entire game in Hell mode and slaying Diablo, the Ultimate Quest is fulfilled and the highest honor achieved. Additional games may continue to be played for as long as all the rules and conditions are met.
The Ultimate Quest is a closed contest. You must create brand new characters and begin the Quest in Normal Mode.
The games must be completed or the Quest ends. There is no limit to the number of times players can die, but if you run out of resources (money and items) and are unable to proceed because of inability to buy more potions and resurrection scrolls, then your quest ends there.
Partners in the quest must resurrect each other when dead. Dead players must wait patiently until they can be reached and resurrected. There is to be no restarting in town unless all players in the game have died.
If Questing alone and you die, restarting in town is allowed; however, each player must go and buy a resurrection scroll (or get one that was already found) and then waste it. This means that each player-death will cost 250 gold. If the gold runs out to where there is no way to purchase resurrection, even by selling off surplus or even must-have equipment, the Quest ends.
Quests are closed events. Other players can visit the game while its in progress, but there can be no trades or other interaction. The Ultimate Quest is a 100% Pure event to be in line with the game's backstory.
It takes a great deal of time to play a complete game, particularly when you are making do with limited resources and limited opportunities. It can be difficult to set aside an entire day for a Quest game when your real life is a busy affair, but that is pretty much what is required. You MAY NOT play Quest games in stages, as this will give you additional opportunities for equipment purchase, as well as interfere with your ability to spread surplus items all over the ground and save them for later use. The Ultimate Quest is a special event and should be treated with all due respect, therefore, play complete games only.
If there is a disconnection, game crash, or other unexpected interruption, and the game is lost, players will be out of luck if they were playing the first game of the Quest in Normal Mode. However, if they are on the second or later game; playing in Nightmare or Hell mode; they had made it down into the Caves or Lower; they may count it as a legal game and be allowed to play another (starting at level one) with whatever gear they have left. If they had not made it down to the Caves yet, they are allowed to restore their characters from Backup at the point they were when the failed game was started, and replay from there. Also, if they had made it to the Caves, they have the option of restarting from backup if they prefer that to continuing from the crash point.
The Ultimate Quest is measured in "Levels Cleared". Each complete game, obviously, will be worth 16 Levels. So, say that a team completed a whole game on Normal, and then reached level 11 on Nightmare, where they ran out of resources and were unable to continue. That would be 16 levels from game 1, plus 10 cleared levels from game 2, for a total score of 26 Levels Cleared. That would be a glorious achievement indeed, since at every stage of the Ultimate Quest players are playing with seriously limited resources: Money, experience, and opportunities for item purchases will be those of a single game only, and so you will have to make do on what the game provides for you.
As of yet, only one player has completed the Ultimate Quest solo, and nobody has completed it as a team. At least to my knowledge. The most levels cleared as a team was 42. The logistics in the arranging of games has a lot to do with victory, although the challenge is NOT to be taken lightly.
Back to Variants