Diablo III’s Skill-Transforming Runestone System In Action

Diablo III’s Skill-Transforming Runestone System In Action

When it was first explained to me way back in 2008, the power-enhancing rune system of Diablo III sounded like it would lead to countless permutations of every skill and spell in the game. Now it’s only five, but they’re still pretty spectacular.

This slimmed-down runestone system made its debut at last year’s BlizzCon. Rather than messing about with damage runes, multi-shot runes, frog runes, and the like, Blizzard slimmed things down to a more manageable five, colour coded for convenience. Affixing these crimson, alabaster, obsidian, indigo and golden runes to your powers dramatically effects how they perform.

Take the Demon Hunter’s Cluster Arrow skill, seen above. Adding a crimson runestone to the skill merely increases the damage done. A golden rune transforms the explosions into shadow creatures, leeching life from enemies and returning it to the Demon Hunter. Alabaster adds a stun effect, obsidian rains down grenades, and indigo fires enemy-seeking missiles.

Runestones come in different power ranks as well, with their special effects becoming more pronounced as the power level increases.

For a closer look at this simple-yet-effective way of mixing up skills and spells, check out the Diablo III runestone page.

Ray of Frost

Sweeping Wind

Acid Cloud



  • That sounds like quite the nerf, down from countless to only 5. I can fully see why they would do this, the amount of customisation if there were dozens of runes would be high, which is good, but it would make balancing and nerfing an absolute nightmare.

    I am pretty disappointed in them that they didn’t consider this at the start though and instead have decided to change it. I did like the idea of some of the rune abilities that they showed originally, I hope these haven’t been removed.

  • You know when you read or watch something about a game made by blizzard the whole thing could be scrapped entirely for a different system or something cooler or just taken out because it doesnt suit the game… Just like the first iteration of Diablo 3 was scrapped entirely for a new design.

  • Hrmmm, this doesnt look like a nerf, it looks like a complete change? I thought the idea behind Runes was to change the spell in some way.. say like Ray of Frost gets a rune which splits the beams? or may reduce the range but vastly increase the power?

    Right now, Runes look like nothing but enchantments.. Adding an “elemental” effect from what I can gather to a spell, and in some cases, adding a slight twist to the spell.

    Still a cool concept but its nowhere near what they were making it out to be.. God I hope this doesnt turn out like WoW where only one enchantment is desirable for your skills/spec -_-

  • I’m kinda surprised at the negative comments about this. The new system looks pretty cool and provides a lot of room for customisation. I’d recommend checking them out on the diablo 3 site rather than here however, as the videos alone doesn’t do a great job of showing the differences, largely because of the lack of enemies to demonstrate the effects on.

    • To be honest, I made my comment before I’ve had a chance to watch the video. The reason for that is because while at work or on my phone, I can’t see the flash objects to watch.

      The skill runes were absolutely the most exciting thing I’d heard about in Diablo 3, and to hear that they’ve been dramatically slimmed down or changed is a little frustrating because all that excitement and anticipation I had just sorta fizzles.

  • For all of you who are up in arms about what has been shown today, we have known that this was how the rune system was to work for months now. Last year at blizzcon the devs discussed the changes to the rune system because some of the rune-types they had didn’t quite make sense with certain spells so they decided to set 5 types in this ‘colour-coded’ system.

    And they don’t just change the spells element, they can have more drastic, core changes to a spell depending on what that spell is of course.

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