From Diablo Wiki
- note:All mechanics are prone to being changed during development
A Skill is any ability, be it passive or active, characters and monsters can have.
Not every Skill a monster uses may be used by players.
For information on Skills from a specific Character class, see the following articles:
Active and Passive skills
Skills are divided in 2 types: Active and passive.
There are many more passive skills than active skills. At Blizzcon in October 2008, each skill tree had 4 or 5 skills per tier. On each tier, one or two were active and the rest were passive.
Effects from active skills range from dealing damage to enemies to protecting your character. Most active skills are direct attacks (Soul Harvest, Hammer of the Ancients, Magic Missile), or buffs (Battle Cry, Magic Weapon).
Passive skills can affect other skills (increasing damage, lowering resource cost), or certain statistics of your character (defense, chance to block). Effects from passive skills, as the name implies, are in effect from the moment a point is spent on the passive skill. In Diablo II, most passive skills were called "Masteries"; this term is applicable to most of the passive skills in Diablo III.
All skills can be viewed in one screen, are sorted into 3 distinct skill trees and divided in a number of Tiers.
Skill Trees do not affect which skills of any given tier you can choose to invest in.
Skill are divided into 5 tiers. Tier 1 is automatically unlocked for every character. To unlock a higher tier, 5 points have to be spent in a lower tier, ex. to unlock tier 4, 5 points have to be spent in tier 3.
The current game design favors specialising in one tree.
Initially, every skill has a hard point cap of 5. A quote from Bashiok on the matter:
- Currently we’re envisioning the majority of skills to be capped at 5 points, to begin with. As a form of progression we’re planning for players to be able to increase the point caps of skills. More than likely to a maximum of 15. It’s a system that’s still under heavy design, but the fact of choosing and increasing key skills beyond their initial cap is important to this new unified tier system.
There has been no further information on increasing the cap on skills.
Hovering on a skill produces a visual like the one seen to the right. The name of the skill is displayed, along with the current and maximum points that a character may spend in it. The current function is shown, as is that of the next skill level.
One prime difference from Diablo II is the slot for a skill rune that you see below the skill, in the skill tree. Only active skills have slots for skill runes, and skill runes can be freely socketed and swapped in and out.