Diablo III: The Unofficial Novelisation

By Alec Meer on May 28th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

The valiant barbarian warrior Slo’ugh gazed grimly upon the devastation ahead of him. Darkness had claimed this land, and no other soul in it was strong or capable enough to drive the demons away. Salvation fell only upon Slo’ugh’s rippling shoulders, this he well knew. He’d known it since almost the day he was born. A sense of a higher calling, a destiny which he must dedicate his life to meeting… Today, that destiny finally moved into sight. Timeless evil had returned, and only he might defeat it. He had the strength to achieve this mighty feat, of this he had no doubt. He would, Slo’ugh grudgingly admitted to himself, require the assistance of local mystics to unravel the mysteries behind the invading dark legions, but even their lore and magic was but a distant second to his prowess in battle.

Bodies were everywhere. Mutilated, burned, butchered. Stalking among them were the demons that had surely wrought this horror. Slo’ugh curled his lip and reached for his axe. It had been his faithful, dependable tool for literally minutes of his life. He could rely on it, he knew, but this would yet be a true test of his valour. A hulking man-mountain of muscle and sinew he may be, but he also possessed the finest military mind in a generation. These low creatures of Hell could not hope to compete. Slo’ugh appraised the wall of nameless monstrosities ahead of him, and considered his tactics carefully. Then he strode forward.

Then he hit a demon. Then he hit another demon. Then he hit the demon again. Then he hit it again. Then he hit it again. Then he hit another demon, then he hit it again, and again and again, then he hit another demon, then he hit another demon then he hit five demons at once then he hit them again and again and again then he hit a skeleton then he hit a demon then he another demon then he hit another demon twice. Slo’ugh paused reflectively for a moment, and then he hit a demon. Then he hit the demon again. Then he hit it again. Then he hit it again.

Then he hit another demon, then he hit it again, then he hit another demon, then he hit five demons at once then he hit just one demon then he hit five demons again then he hit another demon then he hit a slightly bigger demon then he hit it again then he hit again then he hit it again then he hit again then he it in a different way then he hit it again then he hit it again then he hit again then he hit again then he hit it again then he hit again then he drank a red potion then he hit it again then he hit it again then he hit it again in a different way then he hit it again in a different way then he hit and then it was dead.

A lesser man might have roared triumphantly, or sat down to catch his breath and think upon what he had just done. Not mighty Slo’ugh. The instant the demon’s leader was dead, he rummaged through whatever foul containers and orifices it used as pockets and brought up a handful of gold and a dagger he ruefully realised he probably couldn’t kill a hamster with.

Then he turned to the corpses behind him and picked up some more gold, then he picked up some more gold then he picked up some more gold then he picked up some more gold then he picked up a strange-looking hood which he immediately knew that some strange force would prevent him from putting on his head even though it was clearly the right size then he picked up some more gold then he picked up some more gold then he picked up an axe which wasn’t as nice as his own axe then he picked up some more gold then he picked up some more gold then he picked up some trousers and realised that he’d somehow passed the last two decades of his life without ever having worn trousers before so he put them on then he picked up another axe and even though it looked exactly the same as his current axe he just knew demons would die slightly more quickly if he hit them with this new one instead then he picked up some more gold then he picked up a sword and a necklace and some gloves and some more gloves and a double-ended spade and some more gloves.

Slo’ugh froze suddenly, gazing at his three new sets of gloves with an unblinking intensity. All that moved, for three long, silent minutes, was his eyes. They stared at first one pair of gloves, then the other pair, then the third, and then back to the first and then to second and then to the third and then to the first again and then to the second again and then to the third, and so it repeated. After a time, Slo’ugh shook himself out of his mysterious reverie and pulled the first pair of gloves onto his huge, meaty hands. He scowled, and immediately removed then. The second pair saw the honour of being donned by his heroic hands, but were similarly dispatched. On went the third, and then Slo’ugh froze again. Stared again. He grunted, and decided ultimately on the first pair. He stuffed the two new pairs, together with the new weapons and king’s ransom in gold, down his underpants and strode on.

Ahead: demons! At least dozen, Slo’ugh calculated. This would require caution, and the most elaborate strategy his razor-sharp warrior wits could conceive of. He ran swiftly to the first demon, and hit it with his axe. Then he hit it again. Then he hit it again and missed because it was already dead, so he hit another demon then he hit it again then he hit it again then he noticed a fancy-looking hat appeared above the gore and intestinal fluid as it slumped to the ground so he stopped to examine it and then put it onto his head even as six other demons hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him.

Seconds later, Slo’ugh grunted in satisfaction and hit one of the demons and he hit five demons at once then he did it again then hit another demon then he hit it again then he hit another demon then he hit it again then he hit it again then he hit a larger demon then he hit it again then he hit it again then he hit it again then he hit again then he hit it in a different way then he drank a red potion then he hit it again then he hit it again then he hit it again.

Then he hit it in a different way then he hit again then it fell over then he picked up some gold from its corpse then he picked up some more gold then he picked up some more gold then he picked up some more gold then he picked up some more gold then he picked some more gold then he picked up a sword then he picked up some boots then he picked up another sword then, muttering in annoyance, he picked up another sword then he picked up an axe then he froze and inspected it then he muttered in annoyance again then he picked up some more gold then he picked up another sword.

What dark challenge might lie ahead? Slo’ugh was about to surge onwards, to a looming cave entrance, when he noticed something yet glinting upon the ground. A troubled, yet hopeful feeling came over him. It was an axe, that much he quickly ascertained. But how would it compare to his own axe? He had a sense, even without touching or smelling it, that there was something magic about this axe. Something rare. Ham-sized hands trembling, he reached out towards it. Dare he hope that it would be a little bit better to hit demons with than his current weapon was? Destiny surely awaited.

END OF BOOK ONE.

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136 Comments »

  1. eveningstar2 says:

    Don’t quit your day job, Alec.

    • The Army of None says:

      Unless this is your day job. Then never, ever quit.

    • mispelledyouth says:

      First line of your last blog post:

      “Stephen King has this advice for new writers: Write anything you damn well want. Anything at all. As long as you tell the truth.”

      I agree with that completely.

      I guess you imagined that simply writing “First!!” wasn’t worthy.

    • PJMendes says:

      I think this writing style would translate very effectively into porn stories; looking forward to Alec’s confirmation.

  2. Premium User Badge

    tikey says:

    A touching story. Kept me at the edge of my seat the entire read.
    The part in which he hit the demon in another way was thrilling.

    • Vorphalack says:

      He had me at double-ended spade.

      • Premium User Badge

        walaspi says:

        Me too! Google gives me a link to a “Rare double-ended Moling spade” which is asking for a (Lvl 35) suffix. Unfortunately there is no picture.

        • muut says:

          I’m intrigued. I’m going to assume that a moling spade is a tool for hunting down moles, but exactly what kind of hunting style is facilitated by having a double-ended spade? Was there once a school of martial arts tuned towards combating subterranean foes? Could skilled practitioners take out two or more moles at once, perhaps using a move like a suplex, slamming both ends of the spade flat onto the ground with all one’s body weight? Is there in that case a fine layer of strategy in mole-stalking that involves manoeuvering unwitting moles such that they pop up simultaneously exactly a spades-length apart? Geralt of Rivia has nothing on these guys. The mind boggles.

    • Greggh says:

      What about the gold?? What great fortunes must Slo’ugh be amassing by now!!

    • Flakfizer says:

      If this is a typical fantasy novel we’ll wait three years for the next book only to find they’ve killed him off and introduced nine other characters in new lands …

    • Screamer says:

      I hope book 2 focuses on how Slo’ugh learns new things by hitting demons. It would be truly captivating!

  3. HisMastersVoice says:

    When will the hardcover be available? Will you sign my copy?

  4. XisLoose says:

    Thank god there’s pictures in this book

  5. Shooop says:

    The abridged version:

    Click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-Error 37.

    • HisMastersVoice says:

      Just slap a director and an eight digit sum on it and you’ve got a summer blockbuster worthy of any Transformers movie…

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        squirrelrampage says:

        Boy, just think about how awesome the game to that movie would be!

        • Yar says:

          I bet RPS would probably pee all over that game for being too mainstream or something.

    • DrGonzo says:

      This is the problem isn’t it. Really want to like the Diablo games, but they just aren’t challenging and that makes you realise very quickly you are just clicking on fancy icons and watching a reverse loading screen.

      • emorium says:

        the same thing can be said about most games really.
        in racing games you accelerate and go left and right ocasionally.
        in shooters you repeatedly move the reticle over the enemy’s head and click.
        in bioware games you choose red or blue from a list of colors depending on your allegiance.

      • ashereize says:

        I think normal mode only gets challenging towards the 2nd half of act 4 – basically your first run through the story. Bit of a fail I’d say, I understand there needing to be a difficulty curve though. In nightmare mode it feels challenging enought to feel more satisfaction when having killed a rare spawn or a bunch of mini bosses. I dread hell mode and inferno mode – doubt i’ll be able to handle the 4th act on nightmare tbh. I think they made normal mode too easy for hardcore fans, but good fun for newbies. After you’ve gone through the story though, I’d guess a lot of people aren’t bothered about making it all the way to lvl 60 (u tend to be around lvl 30 when you complete the normal mode), and playing through a story again for the sake of levelling and aquiring new gear isnt enough incentive to play a more challenging game mode. Although I did complete Resident Evil 5 a few more times in order to upgrade the guns n stuff, so I guess if you enjoy the general gameplay enough…

        • Ragnar says:

          Honestly, I like that Act 1 Normal is easy, as it introduces new people to the game. I feel that experienced gamers often lose sight of what games are like to people new to the genre, or new to games in general. I played through the first 1/3 of Act 1 with my 8 year old daughter, who was new to ARPGs, and she then played through the same 1/3 of Act 1 with my 34 year old brother, who’s only played turn-based strategy games before. Neither of these would have happened if the beginning of Diablo 3 was a hard as the commenters here would like it to be.

    • Paravel says:

      You get a login error as you’re already playing?

  6. Caddrel says:

    Diablo III characters can’t have apostrophes in their name! Did you do no research at all?!

    Maybe you can retcon it, “While you were away typing your comment, I captured the apostrophe and all your friends!”

  7. Cooper says:

    I would genunely want to play Diablo III if this constant narration existed.

    Forget Bastion’s well judged, intermittent, beautifully writtena dn wonderfully voiced, used just to the right amount narration, this is what I want…

  8. Killercheese says:

    This made me laugh more than it should have. I almost spilt tea everywhere!

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      Skeletor68 says:

      Agreed, very funny, and I love the game! RPS peoples are being very serious lately.

    • Berious says:

      I liked the part where he hit a demon

  9. aliksy says:

    Meh. You could sum up most diablo-likes in this way, so the joke’s a little too obvious to be funny.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      It was pretty funny, but honestly you could some up most non-TBS/non-puzzle computer games of any type this way.

      Halflife, Counterstrike, Terraria, Starcraft

    • Cooper says:

      No other Diablo likes have actually existing novels based around them…

      • aliksy says:

        I refuse to believe those exist. I also ignore the whole “Aidan” nonsense.

  10. Conor says:

    Booker Prize winner 2012. Calling it now.

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    lowprices says:

    Diablo III: The Epic Tale of that time some guy killed 95% of everything and then sold all their stuff to the survivors.

    • Premium User Badge

      lowprices says:

      In other news: fuck Diablo III. I have a broadband internet connection, but apparently it isn’t quite good enough for the games’ refined tastes, so for the last two days I haven’t been able to log on.

      It’s my own stupid fault. I knew the problems, and I bought it anyway. So fuck me as well, I guess.

  12. Koozer says:

    You can’t leave it on a cliffhanger like that! That’s just downright cruel!

    • Vorphalack says:

      Personally i’d like to see the sequel done in the choose your own adventure style.

      • Ragnar says:

        You come across a Wretched Mother. Do you:
        1) Hit her with your axe
        2) Hit her with your hammer
        3) Stomp on the ground next to her
        4) Ignore her
        5) Run away

  13. MCM says:

    Next we’ll get an article by Mr. Meer about how the Game of Thrones TV show is so boring because its nothing but WATCHING. You don’t get to click or do anything!

    Smarten up, lad. Everyone knows Diablo is a slot machine with pretty colors.

    Pity about those 1400 words, though.

    • Alec Meer says:

      You’re really boring.

      • MCM says:

        See how we both managed to get that across to each other without writing a turgid blog post?

        • PacketOfCrisps says:

          I think you should stick to Twitter.

        • Reefpirate says:

          I think Mr. Meer’s article, delightfully entertaining I might add, was less about Diablo being boring and more about the absurdity of its narrative. That was my take anyway.

          • Ringwraith says:

            …and that it’d make a terrible book.
            And likely make a terrible movie too.

          • Turkey says:

            Yeah, I thought the point of it was pretty obvious. I guess not.

          • MCM says:

            I didn’t say that his point was that D3 is boring. I agree with you: the point is that, like a slot machine, there is no “narrative” in D3, and that is blindingly obvious to anyone who plays the game for more than 5 minutes. Similarly, it would be blindingly obvious that there is no interactivity in television, and a post about that would have been equally silly. Try a closer reading next time.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Well there’s supposed to be a narrative, but you spend most of your time not dealing with it.
            For what it’s worth, I quite enjoyed its existence in Diablo II, and I can’t speak for III as I’ve not played it and won’t for the foreseeable future.

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            jrodman says:

            The point was that it was funny.

        • yabonn says:

          Yes, but what if the article was, in fact, funny?

          • MCM says:

            Possible, for a given value of humor. If it were, then… chuckles, I suppose?

          • Paul B says:

            MCM came to the realisation that there were other people on the internet – people with different opinions to him, some even with a different sense of humour to him. Perhaps, it was he who was in the minority, and most people had enjoyed Alec’s column. The thought shuddered forth from the dark recesses of his subconscious, then was swiftly overtaken by the need to pick fault with someone else’s opinion again. Fade to Darkness.

        • apollyonbob says:

          But just think – it gave you the opportunity to use the word “turgid” … And how often does such an opportunity come along?

          • NathanH says:

            Trust me, if you are a grumpyface then you get the opportunity to call things turgid all the time. In my opinion it is most effective when immediately followed by “dross”.

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          Smashbox says:

          Ugh, your superior intellect is INTIMIDATING ME.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Someone is butthurt, and that someone is not Alec Meer.

    • PacketOfCrisps says:

      I think we have found the next husk for Diablo to manifest himself in.

    • Antsy says:

      Slo’ugh sits down and starts singing about gold.

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      jrodman says:

      Unfortunately, laughter is not a loot drop.

  14. Hematite says:

    path of exile is way better than this because it doesn’t have the bit where you pick up gold or pick up gold or the bit where you pick up gold and pick up gold and some more gold

    • meatshit says:

      Neither does Diablo 3. It just kind of gets vacuumed into your loin cloth every time you step near a pile.

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      jrodman says:

      But … man… the suspense! The dramatic tension!

    • ichigo2862 says:

      forgive me for being forward, but your name makes me want to smelt you.

  15. Unaco says:

    Too many words. Witness!

  16. caddyB says:

    Hahaha.

  17. Rao Dao Zao says:

    No, Slo’ugh, YOU are the demons.

  18. Henson says:

    I preferred this novel back when it was about The Witcher 2 and written by Kirk Hamilton.

    • Premium User Badge

      AlwaysRight says:

      Agreed.

      (Sorry Alec, I still love you though)

      Edit: plus what do you expect playing a barbarian?

      Edit2: You can easily be this reductive to loads of games/sports/jobs

  19. CJ says:

    Wow! What can I say but wow!

    I hope an audio book is to follow soon.

  20. dazman76 says:

    Excellent work Mr. Meer :) I’d reserve my copy today, if such a link would exist.

  21. Kleppy says:

    That was hilarious. Also, I just played a few hours of Diablo 3 thanks to a friend’s guest pass and realized there is no way in hell I’m spending 60 euros on the thing. I am not the same gamer I was back in 2000 when Diablo 2 came out (also, was 13 years old then) and consumed my life, and just fighting my way to the Skeleton King was pretty boring. Guess I need more substance in my games nowadays.

  22. .backslash says:

    You should novelise the next Field Call of Battleduty as well. Would probably go something like this:

    Marine Soldierton looked down his rifle’s iron sights and shot a Russian with it. Then he shot another one, and then he shot another one. Then he reloaded, and then he shot a Russian without looking trough his iron sights, then he shot two more while looking through them. Then he reloaded and sprinted twenty meters forward, where he saw more Russians. He shot a Russian, and then he shot another one, and then he shot another one, then he reloaded, then he looked through his sights and shot two more Russians, then he threw a grenade and killed three Russians with it. Then he sprinted some more, killed three Russians, one from the hip, two through his iron sights, but forgot to reload, so after he shot the next Russian(with iron sights) he got shot twice while taking out his pistol and shooting a Russian with it. Afterwards, Marine reloaded his pistol, then took out his rifle and reloaded it, and then he stood there for a few more seconds until the bullet holes had stopped hurting. Then he thought about reloading, but remembered he’d just reloaded, so he sprinted ahead and saw more Russians…

    • Nallen says:

      He couldn’t place why, but he knew he should surely FOLLOW the man in front of him before shooting another Russian…

  23. Hoaxfish says:

    The truth was a burning green crack through my brain. Weapon statistics hanging in the air, glimpsed out of the corner of my eye. Endless repetition of the act of clicking, always online to show off my moves. The paranoid feel of someone controlling my every step. I was in an ARPG. Funny as Hell, it was the most horrible thing I could think of.

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      Bluerps says:

      This made me chuckle.

    • unimural says:

      Well done indeed.

      I wonder if they ever did kung fu mod for Max Payne 2. Perhaps that would be an excuse to replay both of them. I recall the second one being rather inferior, but the fact that I immediately recognized the quote does speak to the memorability of the first game. At least for me.

  24. ShineyBlueShoes says:

    I was a little worried after the first paragraph that this was going to turn into Cloud on Sephiroth internet fan fic. In some ways it was equally disturbing!

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Yes well, there are five male playable characters and also Tyrael. It’s not as if there weren’t any possibilities for something like this. I’m sure it exists somewhere.

  25. Skabooga says:

    I cannot help but feel this is a response to the comments about the DayZ story posted in yesterday’s Sunday Papers. Delightful!

  26. otzenGulasch says:

    I have created this wordle for you, size of words relative to occurrences in your beautiful novel!

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      jrodman says:

      It seems something is missing.
      “then” “it” “again” and “he”, most pointedly.

      (Yes I realize that this is probably usually desirable, but NOT HERE!)

  27. mr.ioes says:

    Someone pls edit the ‘boring’-sound of Duty Calls into Diablo 3 (should trigger everytime an item drops). Also, while you’re at it, ‘bloody screen, so real!’.

  28. MasterBeef says:

    Im waiting for the part where Slo’ugh gets everything in his stash and all his gold stolen by crafty chinamen. Let me know if you need help writing it.

  29. Eddy9000 says:

    I was also expecting a plot twist where Slough lost all his powers and turned instantly into a journalist with deadlines, family responsibilities and a sensible car, before heroically typing various passwords and usernames into his magic box for hours to attempt to regain his strength and magical powers.

    Great article by the way, love debate getting stimulated by an ambiguous example rather than an explicit missive on games narrative.

  30. PopeJamal says:

    I tried to read it, but the servers were down ;)

  31. Elduc says:

    I can’t wait for The Secret World novelisation..

    Oh the endless zombie killing, each zombie as pointless as the next. Oh the angst as the main character struggles to make a connection between her fancy combat moves and the feeling she is actually fighting something. Oh the wonder as our heroine jumps high in the air, without feeling like she is actually completing more than a lazy squat.

    Oh the.. oops.. I forgot, we like the Secret World.. hard to keep track of which games we hate and which we have an unconditional love for. Sorry gentlemen..

    In the words of that most famous of Lithuanian songs: “Love is blind”

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      The Secret World needs to be presented as a gently cerebral mystery show, where the clue-finding is incessantly interrupted by sped-up fighting set to Yackety Sax.

  32. Saleck says:

    Bah.. and I was hoping for at least one Error 37 monster joke in there somewhere

  33. Howl says:

    HIlarious. This is Diablo 3 in a nutshell. I’m a little way into Act 3 but not sure why I’m persisting with what is basically Fruit Ninja, on the PC, with a rubbish story.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      I have the same feeling. People say it gets more fun on higher difficulties, but on normal it is SO TEDIOUS I feel I want to quit gaming altogether. Why oh why do they have essentially a mandatory 20-40 hour tutorial? Were they impressed with the praise Final Fantasy XIII got for that, or?

      Even with friends there was very little fun to be had. If anything the game got even easier when we were three playing?

  34. theleif says:

    Please place a spoiler warning on this. You gave away the whole plot! Now you’ve completely ruined it for me.

  35. Antorus says:

    When is the Cliquel coming?

  36. frightlever says:

    Better than Brad Wardell’s novel.

  37. 7Seas says:

    Hilarious….I smiled and then I laughed and then I chuckled and then I grinned and then I laughed and then I laughed and then I grinned and then I thought boy I have to share this with someone and then I laughed and then I giggled in delight and then I snortled contendedly.

    To everyone who seems to think this is something besides absurdist awesome hilarity, please come back after leveling up your funny bone further, this is great stuff.

  38. Rhin says:

    Is there some incantation we can perform to get the ghost of Quinns to do an RPS series?

  39. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    *applause*

    Looking at the screenshots, it seems Slo’ugh is from the usual barbarian tribe which managed to invent the creatin supplement, the protein shake and the gym machine before they invented pants. Same tribe seems to inhabit all films, series and games featuring barbarians.

    …not that I’m complaning though. With so much bare nubile female flesh in games, it’s nice to see an occational DILF.

    And while on the topic of games with great narratives, the anticipation of a possible Obsidian/Avellone Kickstarter is slowly killing me. No news apart from an occasional tweet or Q&A session where he says it is “still being looked at”.

  40. Premium User Badge

    Paraquat says:

    Well *I* chuckled like a moron all the way through this.

  41. Belsameth says:

    You don’t like D3. We get that now…

    • Toberoth says:

      I don’t think that’s what he’s saying.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I do like it, actually. Quite a lot. I also like thinking.

      • Belsameth says:

        That is actually a surprise, seeing the tone of most D3 posts here…

        Also, D3 isn’t for thinking…. Much like watching an action movie isn’t something you do for the deep and winding narrative…

        • hungrytales says:

          @Belsameth: Diablo isn’t for thinking, but this post was (for the author’s thinking – success). So was the above comment (for your thinking – fail).

        • Kresh says:

          @Belsameth

          You don’t like criticism of D3, we get that now.

          After all, there’s no way that a person could possibly have an opinion different from yours AND have come to that conclusion after thinking. Which shows that you haven’t been.

          The best way to get out of a hole is to stop digging. Or commenting, seeing as how your particular shovel is labeled “reply.”

  42. Nallen says:

    Well this dragged me out of my morning long morose :)

  43. pazmacats says:

    Good read! And easy to understand. – Which is most important for today’s audience as we all know and learn anew every day.

  44. Dances to Podcasts says:

    De Mus

    Tjielp tjielp – tjielp tjielp tjielp
    tjielp tjielp tjielp – tjielp tjielp
    tjielp tjielp tjielp tjielp tjielp tjielp
    tjielp tjielp tjielp

    Tjielp
    etc.

    (Jan Hanlo)

  45. Niymiae says:

    Being a long time Diablo fan and *raises the shield* actually enjoying Diablo 3 a lot – that was a really good laugh. Reminded me of the horribly slow murder with the extremely inefficient weapon.
    Our mouse.

    Thanks.

  46. Premium User Badge

    lasikbear says:

    Shame you didn’t play a witch doctor then instead of “hit him” you could have said “made an angry sky-face vomit on him”.

  47. RegisteredUser says:

    I liked the part where demons were hit.

  48. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    I prefer the official novelization by Robert E. Howard

  49. tejaskale says:

    I tried to read it , but i stopped after “Then he hit a demon”. I tried to read it again , and again , and again , and again , and again , and again , and again , and again , and again , and again and yet again. But then i ran out of mana. So i Drank a mana potion. Then i started reading it again, , and again , and again , and again , and again , and again …… again i ran out of mana. I tried to drink another potion, but saw that it had a cooldown. so i gave up and closed the page.