Diablo 3 Item Primer

Diablo 3 Item Primer submitted by Delphic.

After seeing quite a few people worried and confused about the stat changes to Attack Speed and possible future changes, I decided to write up this summary of how items work in Diablo 3.

The important thing to know about items is based on the following three terms:

  • Item - What the item is, as well as its iLvl. This is also where base damage and base armor are stored. If you look at the white version of an item, you can see its base values. Item type also determines what affixes an item can get.
  • Affix - Called properties in the crafting window. Blue almost always 1-3 of these. Rare always have 4-6 of these. They are things like "of Pain", "of the Lion" and "Cruel". In addition to primary affixes, there are secondary affixes with lower stats, this is why rings have half the stats of amulets.
  • Mods - Affixes are actually a collection of one or more mods. For example, there is a +Dex mod. There is also a +Dex affix that has only a +Dex mod associated with it. There is however a +Dex/Vit affix which has 2 mods associated with it, one for +Dex and one for +Vit. Basically, a mod is always only one additional thing where is an affix can be a grouping of things.
Since legendaries can have stats outside the range of normal items there Legendary Affixes and Mods that go outside the range and restrictions of the normal ones that rares can get.

Here's how an item is built when it drops. Some of this is informed guessing so if you know that it works differently for certain, please feel free to correct me. I will be using gloves here as an example because it is a relatively simple item to work with.
  • Step 1: An item type is chosen randomly based on the iLvl drop range and chances of the area. This includes both the category of item (gloves in this example) and the item type (name and iLvl). So if the game has decided to drop a pair of gloves it would then choose which gloves to drop out of all possible gloves in iLvl range 50-63 (assuming inferno act 1)
    • All possible gloves: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/gloves/#type=common
    • Stats determined so far: iLvl, Base Armor (the lowest armor value in the range on the link above), possible affixes
    • If you look at the crafted items you'll notice they have a single armor value instead of a range, this is the base armor value.
  • Step 2: Now the magical nature of the item is determined. This is the part where your magic find comes in. A calculation happens and the item either stays white, becomes magic (blue), rare (yellow) or legendary (orange). The higher your Magic Find value, the higher chance of the item to drop as magic/rare/legendary.
    • If the item is white, it gets an armor bonus or some of the static bonuses such as "balanced" attack speed bonuses that white items occasionally get.
    • If the item is blue, it gets assigned 1-3 affixes randomly based on iLvl. The iLvl of the item is the maximum level of the Affixes assigned to it. Affixes are likely weighted that it is more likely to get a Affix level closer to the iLvl.
    • If the item is rare, it gets assigned 4-6 affixes randomly based on iLvl. The iLvl of the item is the maximum level of the Affixes assigned to it. Affixes are likely weighted that it is more likely to get a Affix level closer to the iLvl. Ilvl also affects how many affixes an item gets (higher iLvl items can have more affixes).
    • If the item matches a base item of a Legendary (all legendaries have a white item that they are based on) then the appropriate static and random affixes are assigned to it.
    • Affixes are restricted by item type.
    • Stats determined so far: What the item will have a bonus to, but not how much.
    • For our example, lets say a pair of iLvl 61 gloves has dropped with 4 affixes chosen as follows: Dex, VitDex, Haste (Attack Speed), DR (Armor)
  • Step 3: Once the item has had its affixes chosen, the mods that belong to those affixes are applied, randomized and combined
    • Dex affix for iLvl 61 has a range of 130-149
    • DexVit affix for iLvl 61 has a range of 39-124 for the Dex mod abd 39-124 for the Vit mod
    • Haste (Attack Speed) affix for iLvl 61 has a range of 6%-7% for the attack speed bonus mod
    • DR (Armor) affix for iLvl 61 has a range of 286-322 for armor bonus mod
    • Stats determined so far: All
  • Step 4: Mods are combined into a single value
    • Total +Dex range becomes 169-273 which is a combination of two separate random rolls, one from the Dex and one from the DexVit affixes
Primer continued after the page break..

Whew! That's a lot of random number generation. Fun fact, each unique item also has a "seed" value which is used to calculate each random value.
So now you're probably going. Okay, so what does this have to do with blizzard changing items? Here's the breakdown:
  • When Blizzard nerfed attack speed, they reduced the range of possible attack speed bonuses on the Haste and HasteSecondary affixes. Quivers have a "built in" attack speed bonus similar to armor or damage which was not affected. This is the same reason you can't search for items by armor/damage/attack speed (for quivers) on the auction house. This may have also caused the haste value to be "re-rolled", so if before the range was 14-15 and you had a 15 the range may now be 6-7 and you may have a 6. If this were any other stat with a larger range I'm sure they would not be able to have made this change so quickly/easily.
  • When Blizzard improves legendary items they will likely make a number of changes. Remember that legendaries have a different set of affixes that they chose from for their "special" stats and also have a normal set of affixes too. http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/stone-gauntlets has a few static, a few random special and a few normal affixes. What will likely happen is that blizzard will do one of the following:
    • If they chose to change the range of existing special affixes then those item values will be re-rolled affecting older items. This likely won't happen. Instead they will likely:
    • Change the "blueprint" of legendaries to use new better special affixes. Any new legendaries that drop will use these new better special affixes which may have a different set of mods or a higher range of them. Old items will not be affected as they will still have the old affixes assigned to them.
    • Change the "blueprint" of legendaries to have additional special or normal affixes. Any new legendaries that drop will have these additional special/normal affixes. Old item will not be affected as they have already been generated.
As you can see Blizzard doesn't really have control over existing items because which affixes were assigned to them and the range of values on those affixes is based on their seed value. Any change to these may re-roll the item and ruin it. They have to be very careful with item changes for this reason. They can change the "blueprint" of an item, but that only affects new items that drop because once an item is created it's very difficult to modify an entire database of items and add affixes to it without changing the previous affixes and possibly forcing the item to re-roll its values (possibly ruining it).

This is a bit complex, I know, but I figured the insight would be helpful for people trying to understand how the Diablo item system really works. Hope you enjoy the read.

Additional Notes:

  • You can only have one affix of each type per item. There are also likely other limitations that I'm not aware of.
  • All 2 stat affixes such as DexVit, IntStr, etc... are actually one affix so you can only have one of these
  • Affixes levels are "up to" the iLvl of the item and are likely weighted to be closer to the iLvl but not necessarily at it