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Big Chief


A good place to start researches is the famous page of Tommi Gustafson.
Some minor nits there.

what's a boss?

Difficult. The term itself is a bit vaguely used. You meet some monsters mightier than others of the same kind, and you certainly notice some ranking. Configuration data also is a bit foggy for determining the circumstances of being a boss. We should change perspective here.

ingame aspects

Now, that's easy. At first.
You'll meet monsters with a golden name of their own displayed on their life bar. Prominently the five Act Bosses, special Quest Bosses, and more or less randomly spawned Unique Bosses with some minions. Further a normal monster can become a boss monster while it is in vicinity of a just activated Monster Shine, it'll get an golden unique name of its own then. This one won't get minions of its own, unlikely to map-generated bosses.
All these bosses are immune to AI-bending effects. Their minions, recognizeable by 'Minion' displayed on their life bar, will inherit some abilities.
Those Minions show a slightly different behaviour than their common comrades. They're subject to AI-bending effects, but nevertheless will attack those who are attacked by their boss. They also guard their boss, you can't lure them successfully far away without the boss. The distance is something about 20 yards, a bit more than a sreen's size in 800x600 resolution.

technical aspects

There are quite a few places in configuration data, where bosses are marked.
In MonStats.txt every non-player unit of the game is listed. A column of its own flags units as 'boss' here.
This covers Act Bosses

Baal Crab to Stairs is by the way the non-attackable Baal in Throne Room.
Further units are specified as boss:

This are some Quest Bosses without assignment of a common monster class. Yeah, I know, Radament looks like a Greater Mummy, fights like a Greater Mummy and dies like a Greater Mummy. Still he has his own entry, maybe in dawn of the game he had another graphic appearance.
Surprisingly another complete monster species is defined as boss also.

Another file defines the fixed boss monsters which spawn in every game at the same location. They're called Superuniques, and in fact SuperUniques.txt is the configuration file. Each of those bosses is based on a common monster class, including the Countess and the Cow King. Also some entries are unused here.

Further the game randomly generates unique bosses (and Champions) via Rarity and umon{1...10} in Normal respectively nmon{1...10} in higher difficulties depending on Levels.txt.
Those are generated when the map is drawn, unlike to the aforesaid shifting from a normal monster to a boss monster by activating a Monster Shrine.


In Normal difficulty randomly generated bosses get one special bonus, in Nightmare two and in Hell three. Bosses from SuperUniques.txt have a fixed amount of special boni individually assigned in that file and will get additionally one random bonus per difficulty.
If a special bonus would lead to three ore more immunities the immunities granted by additional boni are skipped. If a special bonus grants more than one resistance they're applied in order Cold, Fire, Lightning.
Aura enchanted bosses use the very same aurae from Paladin's skill tree, but only one aura can be applied to one unit in a game. So if an aura is already assigned to a Superunique boss, a randomly assigned aura will be skipped. So the aura may change when you leave and re-enter an area with an aura-enchanted boss.

Bosses' Boni
to Minions
Bonus to
to Minions
Bonus to
No/NM/H: Normal / Nightmare / Hell
extra lifeincreases life by
300%/200%/100% in No/NM/H
increases life by
100%/75%/50% in No/NM/H
nonenot shown at
life bar
extra levelincreases monster level by 3nonenone
extra fastdoubles (attack and) movement speedditonone *
extra strongincreases AR and physical damagedito, but lessnone **
manaburnin fact a successful hit deletes all your ManaditoMagic +20%for details see:
Mana Damage
multishotranged attackers shoot three instead of one missile per attacknonenoneranged attackers only
since 1.10 emitted lightning from beetle monsters or lightning enchanted bosses aren't multiplied
teleportwill teleport awaynonenoneif life below 33% (?)
cursedchance to cast Amplify Damage on hitnonenonesee next table for sLvlAD
unlike to players also elemental attacks count here
aura enchantedPaladin's aura, see next tablenonenone ***
cold enchanteddoubles AR, additional cold damage, Frost Nova on deathadditional cold damageCold +75%freeze bonus (chill) when 0% player resistance
4 + mLvl * 0,2 seconds
according to Nefarius (1.11)
mLvl*5+100 frames
fire enchanteddoubles AR, additional fire damage, explosion on death ****additional fire damage
Nightmare and Hell only
Fire +75%explosion 7,5% bis 10% of (SP) life
lightning enchanteddoubles AR, additional lightning damage, Charged Bolts in eight directions
when forced into Hit Recovery
additional lightning damage
Nightmare and Hell only
Lightning +75%Charged Bolt damage
2 * [mlvl / 2] - 1
additional elemental enchantments causes the bolts to carry assigned death explosion damage
poison enchanteddoubles AR, additional poison damage, (invisible!) poison explosion on deathadditional poison damage
Nightmare and Hell only
Poison +75%not shown at
life bar
poison length mLvl*5+150 frames
spectral hitrandomly additional fire, cold, lightning, magic or poison damage to each attackNightmare and Hell onlyCold, Fire, Lightning +20%see onderduiker's and brianc84's statement
magic resistantincreases Fire, Cold, Lightning by 40%unknownditonot Magic and Poison!
stone skindoubles base defense *****physical +50%physical +50%.

* extra fast uses walking velocity from MonStats.txt and calculates percentage bonus like this:
thus it'll take the smaller value from either 2048 / MonStatswalk - 128 or 10 (min function) and compares it to 100; it takes the larger value then (max function). An unit with walking velocity of 7 will gain
max(min(2048/7-128,10),100) = 100
a bonus of 100% to walking speed.
Attack speed seems to be ignored in 1.1x, it might have gained a bonus in earlier patches, too.

** Atair and tommi list different values. This may be caused by negating the modifications of MonLvl.txt and other files. 'extra strong' Bosses gain a damage bonus of 150% via MonUMod.txt, which is modified by MonLvl.txt. Next there's a global damage bonus from DifficultyLevels.txt of 90% / 75% / 66% in Normal / Nightmare / Hell difficulties, respectively. Same happens to Attack Rating, omitting DifficultyLevels.txt (no global AR modifier). Also same happens to damage bonus granted to Champions (which also don't gain global AR boni). Have a table for survey:

Damage and Attack Rating for Bosses
'Champion' here means all subclasses, individual boni will step in additively
Hell +99%+66%+49%+33%+66%+49%

*** Calculating skill level for aurae of bosses was different in earlier patches. Special thanks to Dosbis for fiddling out correct behaviour for Patch 1.1x. Elder information is based on Jarulf and may have been applied up to 1.09 or even 1.10beta. Still, an aura level equal to monster level looks a bit ... odd.

Curse and Aura Level of Bosses
SkillsLvl in Patch
1.09 Marke
1.09, 1.10beta
1.10 Marke1.11 Marke
1.10, 1.11, 1.11b
sLvl: skill level
mLvl: monster level
[ ]: Floor Function
Amplify Damage[mLvl / 4][mLvl / 5] + 1
Holy Fire[mLvl / 2][mLvl / 6]
Holy Frost[mLvl / 2][mLvl / 7]
Holy Shock[mLvl / 4][mLvl / 8]
only spawnable if mLvl ≥ 20
Might[mLvl / 4][mLvl / 6]
Blessed Aim mLvl[mLvl / 5]
Fanaticism[mLvl / 4][mLvl / 8]
Conviction[mLvl / 4][mLvl / 8]

1.11 Uber Mephisto's Conviction is not based on his monster level. It is realm-only assigned, but player tests indicate his aura lowers 125% resistance, this equals sLvl = 20. Player's defense therefore decreases by 90%.

**** fire explosion follows these rules

***** base defense is firstly doubled then percentage defense boni are applied if available; Amazon's Inner Sight skill will step in after base defense is doubled.
Tripling overall defense may have been valid in an older patch, or in Classic.

see also:



There exist some strange constellations, which are applied to beetle monsters (Scarabs) as well as to lightning enchanted bosses, since that bolt-emitting stuff is the same thing for both.

nice to read


Act Bosses drop from a special treasure class when the player defies them for the first time to enter next act. Because of a wrong quest flag in MonStats.txt Andariel and Duriel always drop that 'Masterdrop' if the character talks to any NPC in town after defeating that bosses.


I've skipped Champions and their subspecies completely so far.
Champions are recognizeable due to the blue-written term 'Champion' (or name of subspecies, see below), they don't have an individual name of their own. Like bosses they're immune to AI-bending effects. You may meet up to five subspecies.

Hit Point values

One kind of monster will have its hitpoint value modified dependent of its hierarchical ranking according to the following table. All values are percentages.

Unique Boss400300200
see also:

Hirelings and Pets do just 50% / 35% / 25% damage against Act Bosses in Normal / Nightmare / Hell respectively, but they suffer complete boss' damage. Crushing Blow equipped to a hireling isn't subject to that penalty.

Nihlatak's Corpse Explosion is like Necromancer's CE, but with its own skill progression.
The fire explosion of a fire-enchanted boss is toned down to 50% / 35% / 20% in Normal / Nightmare / Hell respectively.


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