Life Steal is a frequently encountered trait on items (generally weapons). It allows the user to replenish their Life with damage dealt against the enemy.
The steal comes from how much damage you do to the monster. So 5% Life Stolen will return 5% of the damage you do to a monster, adjusted by the amount of Drain Effectiveness the monster has. Life and Mana steal only work on Melee, and physical ranged attacks.
Diablo and HellfireEdit
Life steal is only available in 3 forms; Life Stealing, 3% Life Steal, and 5% Life Steal. The Life Stealing affix can only be found on the Undead Crown, possessed by the Skeleton King, but it offers 1%-12.5% life stolen per hit, and stacks with life steal on the hero's weaponry. 3% Life Steal and 5% Life Steal, however, cannot stack if a Bard from Hellfire were to try to dual wield weapons with those suffixes. Only the most powerful of the combination applies.
Diablo II/ Lord of DestructionEdit
Life Steal gains some potency, and is generally among the affixes wanted by Melee and Ranged physical attack heroes alike. They can spawn on Weapons, Jewelry, Circlets, and Gloves. In the case of a hero possessing 2 weapons, such as a Barbarian or an Assassin dual wielding Claw-class weaponry, the life steal is specific to the weapon possessing that affix. A hero's change in difficulty level will affect how effective Life Steal is. Nightmare Difficulty will halve the effectiveness compared to Normal, while Hell Difficulty will cut the effectiveness to 1/3rd compared to Normal.
Diablo 3/Reaper of SoulsEdit
Life Steal returns in Diablo 3, although it has been nerfed from Diablo II/Lord of Destruction. For one thing, the maximum life stealing possible is 6% from a Two-Handed Weapon, and 3% for all other sources. To complicate matters, only the Barbarians had access to another source of this: their Mighty Belts had the potential to roll life steal. This, in turn, leads to different legitimate caps of life stealing for different classes. From top to bottom they are:
- Barbarian : 9% Life Steal, 6% from their Weapons, and 3% from their Mighty Belts.
- Monk : 6% Life Steal, 3% from wielding 2 weapons with the affix, or 6% from a Two-Handed Weapon.
- Demon Hunter : 6% Life Steal if they choose to dual wield Hand Crossbows, 3% otherwise.
- Wizard : 6% if they choose to go with a Two-Handed Weapon, 3% otherwise.
- Witch Doctor : 6% if they choose to go with a Two-Handed Weapon, 3% otherwise.
Unlike in Diablo II/Lord of Destruction, reaching a higher level penalizes a hero's effective Life Steal. Comparing to one who has just started his/her journey, life steal will be reduce to:
- Levels 1-59: 100%
- Levels 60-69: 10%
- Level 70: 0% (that is no life stealing)
The restriction above was not planned until the pre-expansion patch, but before that point, this affix had too much staying power. As the game increased your healing power the higher your DPS went, this affix allowed a hero to ignore his Life, armor, and resistances almost completely. As long as the hero had enough to survive one blow in endgame content, he/she was considered a fully qualified tank, but with much higher damaging capabilities. This was quickly spread and became the dominant force in all ingame builds, and the ones who play this style feel that this is the most efficient way to play, making others who never wished to use it feel as if they were 'gimped' players.
Heroes should be warned that they are not the only players who can steal life from their opponents. Champion/Unique monsters can possess the Vampiric affix, which allows them to heal while damaging the nephalem in combat. Fortunately, this is the only source of monster healing in Diablo III.