Diablo II: Armor Guide

Diablo II: Armor Guide

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Armor items are among the most important loot that you can collect in Diablo II. You will need them primarily to be able to complete the game in various difficulties. Also, the challenge and fun of hunting different armor items open the possibility of creating class builds that can produce truly powerful characters for your gameplay. It adds to the longevity of the game, extending your play by hundreds of hours in your search for the best items.

Armor Types

There are seven types of armor that you can find in Diablo II. We use the term armor to refer to all of them and the term body armor to those that protect only the torso. We listed the kinds below, moving from the top of the body to the bottom.

  • Helms
  • Circlets
  • Body Armor
  • Gloves
  • Shields
  • Belts
  • Boots

Class-specific Armor

There are armor items that can only be worn by specific character classes.

  • Barbarian Helms
  • Druid Pelts
  • Necromancer Shrunken Heads
  • Paladin Shields

Armor Quality Levels

Armor in the game are categorized based on their rarity and how they are obtained.

Low Quality

Low quality armor have a prefix that says:

  • Low Quality
  • Cracked
  • Crude
  • Damaged

If you find an armor item like that, then it is no good. Throw it, don't keep it. Such items have:

  • Lower maximum durability than normal
    • Around 33% degradation of the normal durability
  • Unusually low Defense, often below the minimum Defense for that armor type
    • Around 75% of the normal Defense, rounded down

So if you are planning to use it as an upgrade or crafting material for runewords, don't proceed.

Low-quality armor can't be ethereal, and they can't drop with sockets by default. You can, of course, add sockets to them using Larzuk's quest. But as shared above, it will be a waste.


This the default state of an armor. It is neither low quality nor superior.


Superior quality armor have a prefix that says Superior. Such items have improved Defense and Durability.

  • Defense - +5% to +15% Enhanced Defense
  • Durability - +10% to +15% Enhanced Durability

Superior armor can spawn as ethereal. Also, they may have sockets as well, if the armor type supports sockets. In other words, these are the best candidate as base armor for runewords.

The formula for the combinations of Superior with Enhanced Defense and Ethereal are shown below. Just remember, Superior and Ethereal are the best.

  • Superior AND NOT Ethereal: Defense = [(maxac + 1) * (100 + ac%)/100]
  • Superior AND IS Ethereal: Defense = [[(maxac + 1) * 3/2] * (100 + ac%)/100]

where ac% is the %Enhanced Defense, maxac is the maximum base defense


Magic quality armor are always shown in blue text. In addition to their standard attributes, they gain bonus properties that make them better than normal items. Such extra properties appear on the details of the item as prefixes and suffixes.

For example:

  • Prefix - Blessed - 51-65% Enhanced Defense
  • Suffix - Fortune - 16-25% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items


Rare quality armor are always shown in yellow text. They are similar to Magic items, but they have more bonus properties. These are often upgrades for your character when they drop. You can often get them from slaying the bosses.


Set quality armor are always shown in green text. In addition to their bonus attributes, they have synergy with other items belonging to the same set. The number of bonus properties increases the more items you wear from the same set. And finally, if you wear all the set items, there is a large bonus plus a magical reward, like a change in the appearance of your character.


Unique armor are the best items in the game, excluding some runewords, of course. They are the reason why the loot hunt of Diablo II is exciting. You will typically need to farm act bosses to get these really rare items.


Crafted armor are those created using the Horadric Cube using the various cube recipes. These are not the same as the runewords, though. You can complete the game without using crafted armor, as they are not really useful in Nightmare or Hell mode.


The best and most powerful armor in the game belong to this group. Runeword armor are god-tier level, as they enhance your character to a point not possible before. They are very similar to unique armor, except that you have some control in their creation - giving you the option to choose:

  • the base armor
  • the quality of the armor - whether it is superior or not
  • additional attributes - whether it is ethereal or not

It gives you that satisfaction in investing more, if you want, in the creation of your best armor.

Armor Durability

Durability is a property of armor that reflects how strong it is. It is a quantity that reduces in value when a character gets hit by physical attacks. When it reaches 0, the armor item becomes unusable, and its attributes temporarily lose effect. This broken armor needs to be then repaired at any of the town blacksmiths.

  • Missile attacks or spells do not reduce armor durability
  • When your hireling equips an armor, it does not diminish in durability
  • Ethereal items have a durability of (max/2) + 1
  • The Zod rune makes an item indestructible by removing the durability counter.

Ethereal Armor

Ethereal items were added in Diablo II during the expansion Lord of Destruction. They follow these game mechanics:

  • Ethereal armor could not be repaired, and they come with decreased durability
  • They increase an armor's defense by 50%
  • They decrease the strength requirement of an armor by 10
  • They always come with full durability, though it's half the normal
  • They lose durability slower than normal items
  • Those with charges could not spawn with full charges, and they have to be recharged through the Horadric Cube.
  • They have a dark gray name, similar to socketed items
  • They appear translucent when placed in the inventory and when equipped

There are three reasons why Ethereal armor are valuable for players:

  • When equipped on your hireling, the armor do not lose durability
  • When a Zod rune is applied to the armor, it becomes indestructible
  • Through a method called E-bugging, you can double the defense bonus


E-bugging is a method to double the defense bonus of Ethereal armor. Though it is a bug, it has never been fixed by Blizzard, and it is widely used in the community. You can perform E-bugging through adding sockets to the armor using the Horadric cube:

  •  Socketed Ethereal armor = armor + perfect topaz + Thul rune + Tal rune

The armor should could not be superior or having sockets already.

After performing this method, the bonus defense on the Ethereal armor gets applied twice, hence doubling its value.

Armor Defense

Defense is the primary attribute of armor. The main purpose of defense is to decrease the chance of an enemy being able to hit you. The game mechanics for defense are as follows:

  • Higher defense means a higher chance for the enemy attacks to miss you
  • It can be found on all armor items, even on rings and amulets
  • Your dexterity increases your defense. It multiplies your total defense from all equipped items
  • Charms can also increase your defense
  • Defense does not work against spells - either elemental, poison, or magical attacks.
  • It works against physical attacks that have elemental damage
  • Defense does not reduce damage. It only minimizes the chance of getting hit by physical attacks
    • Whatever your total defense value is, you will always receive the same damage
  • The only item properties that can decrease damage received are:
    • Reduce damage by %
    • Reduce damage by x value
  • Defense is very low when running, and physical attacks will most probably hit you
    • For defense to work, you must walk, stand, or attack
  • Several spells, auras, and curses can lower your defense.
    • Decrepify
    • Vindication
    • Blessed aim
    • Fanaticism
  • Defense is only useful in high amounts

Socketed Armor

Socketed armor spawn having sockets by default. Normally you would put sockets on an item using the following two methods:

  • Larzuk's quest reward - he will put a socket on your armor, but one-time use only
  • Horadric cube recipe - armor + perfect topaz + Thul rune + Tal rune

Finding a socketed armor is the third method. They always appear having grey text, similar to ethereal items.