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Design a Legendary

Design a Legendary: Power BrainStorming

by - 10 years ago

On this very special episode we have game designers Travis Day and John Yang sit down with the Twizzcast crew, Monstrous and Flux to talk about the potential powers that the community build legendary weapon could possess.  There was a LOT brought out in this episode.  Things that went into design that the community was unaware of like graphical limitations.  We dipped a little bit into Reaper of Souls and what to expect from Legendary usage in the upcoming expansion as well.  So we encourage you to sit back and listen as we brainstorm with the developers.  Below is a good chunk of questions from the community as well as ideas for you to read through and decide for yourself!  As you can see…..there was a lot of ground to cover.



Weapon Power Suggestions – US:

By Godric:

  • Chance for an evil force to smite any demon below 25% hp within 20 yds (finishing blow)
  • Chance to shoot a skull missile at any running / feared demon for massive damage.
  •  Upon death, releases a frost and poison nova, freezing enemies in place and dealing 2000% weapon damage over 3 seconds.

By Vandet:

  • The sword could have a chance to cause enemies within a 5-10 yard radius from the point of attack to go into a frenzy of hatred and attack each other.

By Jonatyr (similar idea):

  • Unstoppable Hate – any enemy near your character will have 40 % chance to turn on their own kind for 7 sec

By Aggravate:

  • % Chance to enrage hit target, increasing aggro of target minion on yourself, and also increasing damage (think enraged-hatred, of the weapons wielder)
  • % Chance to cause targets to hate each other, along the lines of a confusion ability
  • -% chance for near by enemies to re-direct their hatred towards your target.

By Static:

  •  Have the affix as a chance to steal the souls of those around you, as in it leaches life in an AOE. In other words, it reaps souls! Would be epic to see their souls just being sucked into your weapon! Great for the Reaper of Souls’s signature weapon ;D

By HeavenlySky:

  • “when your primary ressource is below 50% you have a chance on hit to cast a poison cloud.”by poison cloud i mean the thing that elite monsters cast with the poison enchanted affix.

By ir0nmas0n:

  • 10-20% chance to cast Frost nova
  • 10-20% chance to cast poison cloud
  • 10-20% chance to cast lightning
  • 10-20% chance to cast skull missile (white orb)
  •  I would also like to see a visual added to wielding this weapon. Maybe a dark red aura or something demonic.

By Jrobb:

  • The sword could give a negative effect, such as “less 3-5% Critical Hit Chance”. In addition, every kills you make capture the souls of the defeated enemies into the sword granting is power of X% weapon damage per captured soul. A maximum of soul could be fixed to cap the maximum % damage granted.
  • Landing a critical hit, would break an X% of the sword durability and release all the souls captured, resetting the granting power damage % to 0. Those souls could flight to enemies and confused them, or deal an X% weapon damages to them. The more souls the sword had captured, the more damage it would deal.
  • With that weapon, character with high Critical hit chance would quickly break the sword and wouldn’t be able to use it decently. The opposite, character with low Critical hit chance would capture many souls before landing a critical hit and benefit of a constant high bonus of % damage increase. Landing their rare critical hit would make a huge splash, considering the %bonus per souls + critical hit damage increase + releasing souls effect.

By Azza2k:

  • Bonus damage – I like the idea from JRobb of the souls giving bonus damage, but maybe make it strings of kills that give you the bonus. For example,a kill streak 20+ monsters gets a limited time + damage on the weapon. Stacks to a max of 10 stacks or +100% bonus damage.
  • Drawback – if it is going to be powerful you need to ensure that its not the new mempo/skorn. In line with the hatred theme of Mephisto, I think it should have a chance to send you into a beserker rage, where you continue to attack everything around you (maybe not other players) regardless of health etc. The berserker effect lasts for a number of seconds equal to the bonus damage stacks that you have.

By Sanguinis:

  • Since fire often is used to show anger, perhaps a thorns effect that deals fire damage.
  • As for Mephisto’s affinity to poison clouds, perhaps poison damage should make up a large chunk of its damage and a small chance to cause a poison cloud upon striking (1-3%).
  • Also, since he consumes souls, upon weapon durability reduction, an arcane burst erupts from the sword dealing some moderate arcane damage to both you, your foes, and your allies. Then a hostile soul should spawn. It gives zero loot or experience, but if you kill the soul, it gives an AoEheal of the same effect as the arcane burst and there is a small chance it will repair the sword back for the durability lost.
  • Finally, a low percentage upon striking should release a soul from the ground directly in front of you, dealing a single AoE burst for Arcane in a 6 yard radius.


  • @Meta80tv on Twitter: How does the design of a legendary start? With the idea for a orange bonus affix?
  • Arreat.de on Facebook: How do you select the name for a legendary item? Not all of them seem to have names matching their powers.


  • How much time does it roughly take to design a legendary?
  • Where do you get ideas for names of the legendary items?
  • Do you base the design of legendaries on mythologies sometimes, e.g. Greek or Nordic mythology?

Questions for Travis/John

Nolimit#725 – “What is the plan for building synergy among multiple Legendaries? If one Legnedary opens a new build, will the right four Legendaries open God mode?”

(Similar question) BDF#1838 – “Do you consider how new legendary effects might interact with other legendary effects? or do you let it stand on its own and let the cards fall how they may?”

(Similar queston) DamienJohn#1321 – “When designing a legendary’s unique effect, do you comprehensively consider it’s use in conjunction with existing legendary affixes, or are at least some of the resulting synergies purely out of left field?

If some are indeed unexpected, are there any examples of emergent synergies that have proven to be a particular challenge and/or delight to see?”

Waterfiend#1909 – “My question is: Can you describe the philosophy behind legendary design, and how it compares to set item design? How do you create set items that are worth giving up a slot where you could have equipped a legendary?”

Aphraell#196 – “[W]hen you envision the item being used how do you picture it? Do you categorise it into brackets like DPS, roleplay, D2 Nostalgia, bling, rarity, comical, Combo’d with other certain Legendarys or Brimstoned(had to add that). Or do just create something that you think is cool?”

Aphraell#196 – “Is the Legendary designed created by a team or 1 person individually and then approved by the lead designer?”

DamienJohn#1321 – “Is the total number of legendary affixes that are present in the game something that is important to consider? If so, what are the limiting factors that encourage you to “cap” or perhaps reduce that amount? (is it based more on development resources, or actual game balance?)”

OioxFul#2919 – “Have you done a legendary effect based on a THEME before? I find most of the legendary effects on items from D3 and what I now of from Reaper of Souls to be inspired by skills, other items or mechincs in the gameplay and not on a THEME like this sword of Mephisto…”

OioxFul#2919 – “When coming up with a legendary effect, what is most important – to create/change a game mechanic or to pay homage to lore/character/theme?”

TheSaint#1806 – “Build Changers : I have heard lots of talk about Blizzard wanting to create items that are build changers.

What makes an item a build changer ? , and why does Blizzard think a singular skill changer(such as reduction to resources cost, cool down cost, or damage increase) , or a chance to summon x( Summon Hyda, Skeliton, Demon, Angel, etc) is build changing?

What is the difference between choosing a bonus for …

1) An common affix.

2) A item set bonus.

3) A Legendary specific affix.

Do you not find that some designs are less thematic and more interchangeable, and that they possibly need to be tweaked in properties to gain their own identities, rather then just being amusing gimmicks that proc on a weapon or armor?”

Holy#1110 – “When you design a Legendary whats the goal of said legendary. Is it to just fill the quota for say polearms or to just put what “someone” considers cool into the game. Do you even have a goal for the legendary”


Fortifa on the Community Blog:

  • Every time an allied player (or follower) loses more than 20% of their max health in 1 hit, your next hit will do massive damage.

ELViNCER on the Community Blog:

  • Make this weapon’s stats replaceable. Like paragon points.

SparHawk on the Community Blog:

  • Summon fallen enemies to fight for you for a period of time.

Sycorax on the Community Blog:

  • Causes the armor of your enemies to decay

Tranquility on the Community Blog:

  • Make a bone prison that will stop the enemy from attacking for a few sec and also cause a small damage.

Has on the Community Blog:

  • Sword has an aura that makes all enemies around hate you so much – they get taunted and while effect works they take more damage and can use only simple attacks. Taunt on single monsters wear off after some time.

one43 on the Community Blog:

  • An aura of hate (or chance on hit) that can turn a monster against its allies. The monster will hate everyone and can thus attack other monsters as well as the player.

 CryptKeeper on the Community Blog:

  • Weapon has no base damage, only a gem socket. Feed the weapon a gem and it does high damage. Weapon periodically needs to be fed gems to maintain high damage.
  •  Upon death you get a 5sec window to kill an enemy to siphon its soul. If you succeed, you will get revived with 30% of your total health

SoulReaper on the Community Blog:

  • Grants the wielder a 15% chance to summon a exploding blood golem (20 yards) with 350% weapon damage.
  • An explosion of skeleton heads for 20-30 yards with a fiery combustion look when they hit the target.

 Appelcore on the Community Blog:

  • Each hit stacks. When stacked reach XX size, your skill bound to the left mouse button has its resource cost reduced XX%. In addition, all enemies affected by that skill also gets hit by the hate of Mephisto, causing 30% lightning, 30% poison and 30% cold damage (of weapon damage). Also stuns the targets for 1 second, slows for 3 seconds and weakening (decrease of damage done and armor/resistances) by 20% for 5 seconds.
  • When you should have died: summon an explosive abomination in your place and turn into a black ghost for 3 seconds. The abomination explodes after 2 seconds. Dealing 1000% weapon damage. Every enemy you pass through as a ghost has a 10% chance to summon an additional abomination. When exiting ghost form you are healed for 0.1 times the damage the abominations made. Can only proc each every 10 minutes.

Demonbob on the Community Blog:

  • Each kill buffs the player with Spirit of the Fallen which stacks, lasts for 1 hour and the time is reset with each stack. Once the stack reaches 300 the player becomes a spirit vessel and spirits begin to rise beneath all enemy’s in view, dealing damage. In total, 300 attacks will be made (one for each buff and all at the same damage) meaning that the less enemy’s there are the longer the ability will last (1 enemy = 300 attacks per enemy, 10 enemy’s = 30 attacks per enemy thus needing less time)
  • Mephisto periodically speaks into the players mind sowing seeds of hatred. Chance of activating Pure Hatred, doubling he players attack and movement speed
  • Whenever receiving a massacre (kill streak) bonus a localised storm will appear above the players head. The higher the kill streak the more dramatic the storm (i.e. from black clouds to rain to the odd lightning bolt to a full on thunderstorm) and the longer it lasts. the lightning will damage enemy’s at 1000% weapon damage (will have to be made so it doesn’t impair view)

 LordBacon on the Community Blog:

  • Mephisto’s sword is actually the spine of his enemies ripped out in anger. making a whip-sword.
  • The sword would enslave the remains of fallen enemies with bone chains, enchanting them until death and syphoning off the reanimated corpses ‘health’ in the process.
  • The more units you destroy, the larger the troop of enslaved monsters.
  • The higher the INT value of the user the more enslaved corpses can be controlled.

MKIII on the Community Blog:

  •  Weapon absorbs one ability of each nearby elite and grants it to the wielder
  • Items dropped from enemies can now be ethereal (extra damage/armor, cannot be repaired)
  • Evil Mephisto laugh each time an ally is slain
  • Defeating a demon summons a Ghoul Lord to fight by your side for 20 seconds
  • Your skill effects get a darker appearance

Casmiel on the Community Blog:

  • Give the weapon aura effects:
  • Aura of Spinal Shivers: Reduces enemy movement speed by 40% and permanently lowers their maximum health pool by 10%.
  • Presence of Darkness: Reduces enemy resistance to Arcane, Poison, Cold and Lightning spells by 20%
  • Seed of Hatred: Enemies that die in a 30 yards radius have a chance to instantly be revived as Stygian Dolls.
  • Stygian Doll (lasts for 10-20 seconds): Attacks enemies for ~100% weapon damage. Explodes on death for ~400% weapon damage in an 8y area.


Jabbolol on the community blog:

  • The more players are in the game, the higher the damage dealt by the sword (since it is a communitylegendary)

Hadrian Ken Chau on Facebook:

  • Chance to execute a monster on hit (Yes, insta-gib)

Max Grafe on Facebook:

  • Chance to turn regular monsters into your allies on hit

Caroline Frommelt on Facebook:

  • Chance to become invulnerable to damage for a few seconds

Ronny Reznicak on Facebook:

  • Chance to unleash a wave “Demonic Energy” on hit that knocks back and stuns enemies in a short radius

Fogeye on the community blog:

  • Chance to cast a half sphere on hit that moves away from the hero and deals terrible, terrible damage to everything it hits (reminiscent of the ‘Skull Missile’ in D2)

Daniel Malik on Facebook:

  • Blood harvest: Every slain enemy donates blood, represented by blood spheres surrounding the hero. Once enough blood is collected, a blood nova explodes and deals AoE damage based on weapon damage. After the detonation, the hero is protected by a blood shield absorbing an amount of damage equal to the one dealt by the explosion (not exceeding the heros max HP)

Holy Warrior on the community blog:

  • Chance on hit to summon Mephisto’s spirit which hovers over the hero for a certain time and attacks enemies with abilities reminiscent of the Diablo II boss fight
  • (Different ability) Mephistos spirit infuses enemies on hit and turns them into allies fighting alongside the hero for X seconds. When the timer is up, the infused minion dies (horribly, of course). Cannot affect elite monsters or bosses.

Eduard Zimmermann on Facebook:

  • Chance to trigger “Hatred” on hit. Affected monster is attacked by all other monsters on screen for X seconds
  • Chance that slain monsters explode in a poison nova.
  • Chance to cast “Static Field” when hit dealing 25% of current HP as damage to all monsters in a certain radius, less to champions & elite (essentially, the original beta Crushing Blow damage)



  • Demon Hunter: Give the sword 5% chance to generate Hatred Overflow for 30 sec (no Hatred cost whatsoever but empties the Discipline gauge)
  • Other classes: all enemies’ resistance are decreased by 10% and all damages are increased by 20%.


  • Mephisto’s soul on the sword would give chance to critical hit by 2/4.5% and 15/25% chance to block.



  • Demon Hunter: bonus on Hatred generated
  • Barbarian: bonus on attack speed and movement speed
  • Wizard: bonus on damage done by skills on all enemies
  • Monk: bonus on damage for each spirit point spent for skills
  • Crusader: bonus on DOT for all enemies around based on the generated wrath.
  • Permanent:
  • Mephisto’s shadow infuses the character and increases some skills


  • % chance to summon Mephisto to fight by your side.


  • Give extra Hatred to Demon Hunters
  • Give extra “main resource” to other classes



  • pulls in the mobs and taunts them to attack the character using the sword/ causes the bearer to have an aura of hatred that drains life of the monsters or weakens their defensive statistics


  • Adds to the dominating character stat but reduces all resistances or all other stats
  • Revival – has a chance to revive a Zakarum council member  who will fight together with the hero for a limited amount of time and cast meteors/hydras
  • Increases damage to elites by 10–30% and at the same time increases the damage taken by elites by  10-30% 😉


  • Has 1-10% chance to summon a spectre that is a fracture of Mephisto soul and will fight as a spectral pet but can be killed and when it’s killed it makes the player lose a percentage of their life (the spectre would cast spells similar to the ones Mephisto was casting and its stats would scale with player’s stats similar to the way the stats of WD pets do)


  • Gives 5% chance to cast a chain lighting and  1% to cast a powerful thunder that hits a single target
  • Lowers your resistance to one element by 20% but increases the damage done with this element by 10%


  • Has a chance to cast one of the Mephisto signature spells (or similar) Lightning, charged bolt, Poison Nova, “Skull” Missile, Frost Nova, Blizzard on critical hit or monster kill

posted in Diablo
JR Cook

JR has been writing for fan sites since 2000 and has been doing Blizzard Exclusive fansites since 2003. He helped co-found BlizzPro in 2013. You can hear JR every week talk about Hearthstone on the Well Met Podcast published on iTunes.

One response to “Design a Legendary: Power BrainStorming”

  1. Nikos says:

    I know I’m way too late… and also that what I’m going to propose unlikely to be the kind of idea that will please the developpers… but I’ll throw my 2 cents:

    For a new item (sword for eg), would it not be super cool if, when equiped with, it grants the player one of the following (not always the same):
    – Another rune (hidden otherwise) with massive power for all or a few spells
    – the ability to choose 2 runes per spell
    – the ability to choose an extra passive skill

    PS: I also like the chance to summon Mephisto (I read it above)