Diablo II: Runes Guide

Diablo II: Runes Guide

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Runes, together with Runewords, are among the best innovations of Diablo II in its loot game mechanics. They were added to the game during the release of the expansion Lord of Destruction. Until today, there are no similar mechanics or as interesting that you can find in other loot-based action RPG.

Runes are items that you can socket on armor or weapons, to which they add a special bonus attribute. However, when you place a certain set of runes based on a recipe, that is when the magic happens. In addition to giving each rune's bonus attribute, they transform the socketable item into something else more powerful than the sum of each rune. They produce a synergy and create a new item, called a runeword.

Runes Game Mechanics

  • Each rune can be socketed on weapons, body armor, shields, and helms
  • Each rune has a special bonus effect that varies depending on the socketable item. It differentiates between a weapon vs. an armor/shield/helm.
  • Each rune has a tier and can be upgraded using the Horadric Cube. Hence, each rune has a recipe on how it can be crafted using the Cube.
  • Each rune has a level requirement
  • Each rune has a probability of dropping in various game modes. Hence you need to know if you should be hunting for a specific rune in Normal, Nightmare, or Hell mode.
  • Each rune has a probability of dropping in various areas. Hence you need to know the optimal monsters or locations where to farm.
  • When combined based on a specific recipe, runes can produce runewords.

Unsocketing Runes

A common question asked is, can I unsocket my runes from a runeword after it has been created? Let's say that you found a better base weapon for your already existing runeword. Can you take out your runes and use them again?

The official answer is - there is no existing Horadric recipe for gaining back the runes. However, there is a recipe for removing the runes to claim back the base weapon or armor. The runes will be lost, though, and this is not what you want to achieve.

Upgrading and Downgrading Runes

All the runes can be upgraded to their next tier version. You will use the Horadric Cube and the corresponding recipe to make the transmutation. In the table below, we included the recipe needed to craft each rune, using its lower-level version.

A common question is - if I can upgrade a rune to its higher version, can I also downgrade a rune to its lower versions? The official answer is - there is no existing Horadric Recipe for downgrading runes. However, if you get lucky and if this is what you want, you might find a mod or plugin that will allow you to do so.

Runes and Runewords

The game mechanics for creating runewords with the help of runes are as follows:

  • The runeword recipe must be known on the play mode you are doing. There are recipes that are available only online through Battle.net. Even if you have the correct recipe ingredients, it will not work if you do it offline. However, a plugin called Pluggy makes all known official runeword recipes available offline.
  • The runeword recipe ingredients must be correct for the transmutation to succeed.
    • Determine the correct item type - whether the runeword requires a weapon or an armor. And if it's a weapon, what specific type of weapon.
  • The correct number of sockets for the weapon or armor must be present.
  • The correct sequence of insertion must be done for the transmutation to succeed.

Guaranteed Runes

The game has a way of giving your guaranteed runes either through quests or farmable monsters. Though the runes are guaranteed, the specific rune types you will get are still random.

Rescue on Mount Arreat

After completing this quest, Qual-Kehk will give you exact and guaranteed runes:

The Hellforge

In this quest, your goal is to break Mephisto's Soulstone in the Hellforge. It will always reward you with one rune. However, it is random. It can be one of the following:

  • Normal - A rune from El to Amn
  • Nightmare - A rune from Sol to Um
  • Hell - A rune from Hel to Gul

The Forgotten Tower

You will soon realize that this is the most repeatable and predictable way of farming runes of various tiers. The rune is not guaranteed, but it has a very high chance, to the point that sometimes more than one can drop. She can even drop up to six runes if you get lucky.

  • Normal - Runes from El to Ral
  • Nightmare - Runes from El to Ko
  • Hell - Runes from El to Lo

Grouping of Runes

There are 33 runes in total, and they are typically grouped based on their rarity. All of the runes can drop in Hell mode. However, some runes are almost impossible to be found in Normal or Nightmare.

Common Runes (Low Runes)

There are 11 runes in this group, starting from El to Amn. They all drop in Normal mode and can easily be farmed with the Countess.

Id Name Details
1   El Weapons:
+50 To Attack Rating
+1 Light Radius 
+15 Defense
+1 To Light Radius
Lvl Required: 11
Recipe: None
2 Eld Weapons:
+75% Damage To Undead
+50 Attack Rating Against Undead
15% Slower Stamina Drain
7% Increased Chance of Blocking(Shields)
Lvl Required: 11
Recipe: 3 El
3 Tir Weapons: +2 To Mana After Each Kill
Armor: +2 To Mana After Each Kill
Lvl Required: 13
Recipe: 3 Eld
4 Nef Weapons: Knockback
Armor: +30 Defense Vs. Missile
Lvl Required: 13
Recipe: 3 Tir
5 Eth Weapons: -25% To Target Defense
Armor: Regenerate Mana 15%
Lvl Required: 15
Recipe: 3 Nef
6 Ith Weapons: +9 To Maximum Damage
Armor: 15% Damage Taken Goes to Mana
Lvl Required: 15
Recipe: 3 Eth
7 Tal Weapons: +75 Poison Damage Over 5 Seconds
Poison Resist 30%
Poison Resist 35%(Shields)
Lvl Required: 17
Recipe: 3 Ith
8 Ral Weapons: Adds 5-30 Fire Damage
Fire Resist 30%
Fire Resist 35%(Shields)
Lvl Required: 19
Recipe: 3 Tal
9 Ort Weapons: Adds 1-50 Lightning Damage
Lightning Resist 30%
Lightning Resist 35%(Shields)
Lvl Required: 21
Recipe: 3 Ral
10 Thul Weapons: +3-14 Cold Damage for 3 seconds
Cold Resist 30%
Cold Resist 35%(Shields)
Lvl Required: 23
Recipe: 3 Ort
11 Amn Weapons: 7% Life Stolen Per Hit
Armor: Attacker Takes Damage of 14
Lvl Required:  25
Recipe: 3 Thul

Semi-Rare Runes (Medium Runes)

There are 11 runes as well in this group, starting from Sol to Um. They will only start appearing in Nightmare mode.

Id Name Details
12 Sol Weapons: +9 To Minimum Damage
Armor: Damage Reduced By 7
Lvl Required: 27
Recipe: 3 Amn + 1 Chipped Amethyst
13 Shael Weapons: 20% Increased Attack Speed
20% Faster Hit Recovery
20% Faster Block Rate(Shields)
Lvl Required: 29
Recipe: 3 Sol + 1 Chipped Sapphire
14 Dol Weapons: Hit Causes Monster To Flee 25%
Armor: Replenish Life +7
Lvl Required: 31
Recipe: 3 Shael + 1 Chipped Ruby
15 Hel Weapons: Requirements -20%
Armor: Requirements -15%
Lvl Required: None
Recipe: 3 Dol + 1 Chipped Emerald
16 Io Weapons: +10 To Vitality
Armor: +10 To Vitality
Lvl Required: 35
Recipe: 3 Hel + 1 Diamond 
17 Lum Weapons: +10 To Energy
Armor: +10 To Energy
Lvl Required: 37
Recipe: 3 Io + 1 Flawed Topaz
18 Ko Weapons: +10 To Dexterity
Armor: +10 To Dexterity
Lvl Required: 39
Recipe: 3 Lum + 1 Flawed Amethyst
19 Fal Weapons: +10 To Strength
Armor: +10 To Strength
Lvl Required: 41
Recipe: 3 Ko + 1 Flawed Sapphire
20 Lem Weapons: 75% Extra Gold From Monsters
Armor: 50% Extra Gold From Monsters
Lvl Required: 43
Recipe: 3 Fal + 1 Flawed Ruby
21 Pul Weapons:
+75% Damage To Demons
+100 Attack Rating Against Demons
+30% Enhanced Defense
Lvl Required: 45
Recipe: 3 Lem + 1 Flawed Emerald
22 Um Weapons: 25% Chance of Open Wounds
All Resistances +15
All Resistances +22(Shields)
Lvl Required:  47
Recipe: 2 Pul + 1 Flawed Diamond

Extremely Rare Runes (High Runes)

These are the 11 rarest runes in the game, starting from Mal to Zod. As expected, they will only drop in Hell mode. They are needed to craft the most powerful and versatile runewords known in the game.

Id Name Details
23 Mal Weapons: Prevent Monster Heal
Armor: Magic Damage Reduced By 7
Lvl Required: 49
Recipe: 2 Um + 1 Topaz
24 Ist Weapons: 30% Magic Find
Armor: 25% Magic Find
Lvl Required: 51
Recipe: 2 Mal + 1 Amethyst
25 Gul Weapons: 20% Bonus To Attack Rating
Armor: 5% To Maximum Poison Resist
Lvl Required: 53
Recipe: 2 Ist + 1 Sapphire
26 Vex Weapons: 7% Mana Stolen Per Hit
Armor: 5% To Maximum Fire Resist
Lvl Required: 55
Recipe: 2 Gul + 1 Ruby
27 Ohm Weapons: +50% Enhanced Damage
Armor: 5% To Maximum Cold Resist
Lvl Required: 57
Recipe: 2 Vex + 1 Emerald
28 Lo Weapons: 20% Deadly Strike
Armor: 5% To Maximum Lightning Resist
Lvl Required: 59
Recipe: 2 Ohm + 1 Diamond 
29 Sur Weapons: Hit Blinds Target
+Maximum Mana 5%
+50 To Mana (Shields)
Lvl Required: 61
Recipe: 2 Lo + 1 Flawless Topaz
30 Ber Weapons: 20% Chance of Crushing Blow
Armor: Damage Reduced by 8%
Lvl Required: 63
Recipe: 2 Sur + 1 Flawless Amethyst 
31 Jah Weapons: Ignore Target's Defense
Increase Maximum Life 5%
+50 Life (Shields)
Lvl Required: 65
Recipe: 2 Ber + 1 Flawless Sapphire
32 Cham Weapons: Freeze Target +3
Armor: Cannot Be Frozen
Lvl Required: 67
Recipe: 2 Jah + 1 Flawless Ruby
33 Zod Weapons: Indestructible
Armor: Indestructible
Lvl Required:  69
Recipe: 2 Cham + 1 Flawless Emerald