[3.5] Soul Mantle Dark Pact Totems - League Starter - All Content


This used to be a Scion build for 3.0 and 3.1 that was a well-known leaguestarter.
While the original build didn't get much worse, Hierophant got a huge buff in 3.2, which makes him the better choice now in my opinion.

Some people wanted to see a Hierophant version, so I made an update.

My character from 3.2

Update for 3.5
Hiero got a small rework that allows him to place two totems at once, there's also a new support gem that allows you to place Wither Totems in addition to your DP totems which removes the need to self-cast it.

Because of this, there's now significantly more time to move around, which removes a big weakness of the build.

Hiero lost one extra totem, which you can regain by getting a veiled mod on your shield.

1. Build Concept
This build revolves around the unique item Soul Mantle.

It is one of the strongest uniques in the game, as it allows us to get a free 7-link and an extra totem. It also increases our totem life by 50%, which is essentially a level 17 Added Chaos Damage Support for Dark Pact.

That power comes with a massive drawback - we receive a random curse everytime one of our totems dies or expires. We can counter this in two ways*:

Two of these will give us 80% reduced effect of curses, which makes it possible to endure them.


Makes us unaffected by curses. Even though it's a good item, it's pretty damn expensive. For that reason I won't cover it in the guide.

As a consequence, we can also take advantage of the jewel Self-Flagellation:

*You can also use a Flask with the Warding mod (preferably Stibnite), but that makes you lose the bonus from Self-Flagellation because it removes the curses.
It's also not the most beginner friendly way because it requires you to keep an eye on your flasks.

2. Pros and Cons
+High single target damage
+Active playstyle (for a totem build)
+Cheap to get started
+Can do every content except Hall of Grandmasters - every map mod
+High EHP and regen
+Good clearspeed in linear/indoor maps
+Highly resistant to curses
+Good boss killer up until Shaper/Uber Atziri

-Not optimal for open map layouts
-Mediocre damage until you get your Soul Mantle
-Poor performance vs Uber Elder
-Dealing maximum damage requires preparation
-Can't use totem MTX on Soul Mantle

3. Budget Leveling Guide
Important Items
The following items are used in the guide:

2x Axiom Perpetuum (level 10)
Nycta's Lantern (level 41)

If you can't afford them yet, get them ASAP, they are cheap and will greatly increase your damage while leveling. They are not required.

I also recommend getting a Goldrim if you can afford it.
We'll want to use rare items in our Ring, Amulet, Boots, Gloves, Helmet, Belt and Body Armour slots until level 49.

Stats: Try to get Movement Speed on boots and Life/Resistances on other Gear.

As for flasks I recommend aiming for the following:
-2x the strongest life flasks you can get, preferably one instant flask.
-1-2 quicksilver flasks.
-For Hardcore: a granite flask (of Ironskin).
Leveling Skill Trees:
38 Points
63 Points
Prioritize Ancestral Bond and Mind over Matter, get other passives as you need them.

We'll be leveling with Firestorm until level 49 (Soul Mantle) because Dark Pact isn't a great spell to use until then.
Act 1
Kick Hillock's ass, then buy Freezing Pulse from Nessa and use it as your main skill.

Pick a Quicksilver Flask as reward for "Mercy Mission", then buy Arcane Surge from Nessa and link it to your Freezing Pulse.
Don't level your Arcane Surge higher than 6.
After you enter the Prison, get Added Lightning Damage as a reward and add it to your Freezing Pulse.
Get a Flame Dash as reward for killing Brutus and equip it.

At level 10, equip your Axiom Perpetuums.
After entering the Cavern of Wrath, get Firestorm as quest reward and use it instead of Freezing Pulse.
Also buy another Firestorm, Spell Totem and Added Lightning Damage from Nessa and link them together.

Your Gems should look like this:
Firestorm - Arcane Surge - Added Lightning Damage
Spell Totem - Firestorm - Added Lightning Damage
Act 2
During the Quest "Deal with the Bandits", help Alira.

After "The Root of the Problem", buy 2x Elemental Focus and 1x Controlled Destruction from Yeena and replace your Added Lightning Damage/Arcane Surge with them like this (keep Arcane Surge for now):

Firestorm - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus
Spell Totem - Firestorm - Elemental Focus
Act 3
After "Lost in Love", buy Flammability from Clarissa.
Link: Flammability - Arcane Surge.
Use this against tougher enemies if you need damage.

If you have a 4-link, add these gems to it (Vendor: Yeena in Act 2):
Firestorm - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus - (Faster Casting)
Spell Totem - Firestorm - Elemental Focus - (Controlled Destruction)

Don't go into the Labyrinth yet.
Act 4
This act is going to be a bit tough so I suggest being overleveled, especially in HC (Your damage scales with your gem level right now).

If you have the Ancestral Bond keystone in your passive tree, you can throw away the self-cast Firestorm gems.

After you defeat Malachai, buy Cast when Damage Taken,
Summon Lightning Golem and Immortal Call and link them together.

Complete the Labyrinth and choose Hierophant, then Pursuit of Faith.
Acts 5+
At level 41, replace one of your Axioms with Nycta's Lantern and put your Firestorm in it:
Firestorm - Spell Totem - Elemental Focus

Once you reach level 49, buy a Soul Mantle, two Kikazarus, a Self-Flagellation, Added Chaos Damage, Clear Mind and follow the build guide (ignore everything from the leveling section).

If you can't afford the rings/chest yet I suggest replacing the last Axiom with an Aurumvorax and sticking to Firestorm until then.

Use your respec points to adjust your Skill Tree to the one below:

4. Skill Tree and Path of Building link
Skill Tree:
47 Points
61 Points
80 Points
Level 81
Level 94

There are other ways to do the tree, based on personal preference.
In general, you're fine as long as you stick close to the pathing.

PoB Link:

5. Ascendancy

Normal Lab: Pursuit of Faith
Cruel Lab: Ritual of Awakening
Merc Lab: Divine Guidance

Eternal Lab: You actually have 3 choices here:
1) Sanctuary of Thought will give you ~1.5k ES (a LOT!) and better mana sustain.
2) Recommended. Conviction of Power offers a mix between offense and defense and is also required if you want to use Power Charges (i.e. with Void Battery).
3) Illuminated Devotion adds decent damage and minor totem survivability (leech). The extra AoE makes this the best for clearspeed.

6. Bandits & Pantheon
Help Alira for crit multiplier, mana regeneration and resistances.

Major God: Soul of the Brine King for stun protection.

Minor God: I prefer Soul of Ryslatha for emergency healing and Flask recharge in the Labyrinth, but there are a lot of good other options.

7. Gem Links
4/5/6 Link
Dark Pact - Void Manipulation - Added Chaos Damage - Controlled Destruction - Increased AoE/Con. Effect - Increased Critical Strikes

Our damage skill, Gems are in order of importance.
AoE can be exchanged for Conc. Effect for single target DPS.
Aim for level 21 Dark Pact and otherwise 20/20 gems.

4 Link
Wither - Spell Totem - Increased Duration - Multiple Totems

The two Wither totems should only be used against bosses, they pretty much double your damage so try to keep them up.
Since Multiple Totems grants an increased limit, you can't replace these while spamming your DP totems.

4 Link
Flame Dash - Faster Casting - Phase Run - Increased Duration

Pretty straightforward, these gems are for mobility. You don't need to fully level Phase Run since it needs a lot of dex, but quality is recommended.
Lightning Warp - Less Duration - Swift Affliction - Faster Casting

No cooldown, no range limit, but a short delay. If you prefer this, the helmet enchantment with reduced duration is extremely useful.

Shield Charge/Whirling Blades - Faster Attacks - Fortify - Culling Strike

If you're using a melee weapon, you can also use SC/WB to move around, though they don't feel that great with low attack speed.

3 Link
Molten Shell - Arcane Surge (level X) - Increased Duration

An instant spell that's mostly there to buff you up, you just have to press it from time to time.
Arcane Surge should be at a level where you trigger it with one cast. With Apep's Rage and a fully leveled Molten Shell this is at level 9.

4 Link
Cast When Damage Taken (Level 1) - Immortal Call (Level 3) - Enfeeble (Level 5) - Increased Duration

A defensive setup that protects us from burst damage against trash mobs. CWDT is on level 1 to proc as often as possible since these skills don't benefit that much from levels.
Temporal Chains is an alternative to Enfeeble.
You can also try out Phase Run in this setup.

3 Link
Cast When Damage Taken (Level 20) - Summon Lightning Golem (Level 20) - Minion and Totem Elemental Resistances

The Golem provides a bit of DPS/mobility and CWDT ensures it is always active. (Stone Golem is also an option)
This is the least important setup, in case you want to replace something.

8. Gear
Priorities when looking for gear:

1. Get the core flasks and unique items.

2. Get basic gear using mostly rare items:
Overcap your elemental resistances (+90% total). This is to deal with elemental curses.
• Try to get a good (at least 40) life or mana roll on every item that can have one.
Ideally your mana should be around 2/3 of your life (You can adjust the skill tree to get there).
• Get a spell dagger/unique weapon that fits your budget.

3. Once you can afford better gear, start replacing excess resistances for other things, like damage (shield/amulet/enchants), or HP (life/mana).

Core Uniques

Highly recommended:


Apep's Rage is the go to weapon, it's pretty cheap and the damage provided is nearly as good as a mirror-tier caster weapons.

If you want to use melee movement skills, you should go with a caster Dagger. Getting attack speed on it makes your movement skill a lot faster.

A spirit shield for defense. You'll also want the veiled mod that grants an additional totem.

Stats (Dagger): Attack speed, spell damage, crit chance, crit multiplier, mana
Stats (Shield): Life, mana, spell damage, crit chance, cast speed, resists

A rare amulet is the most versatile option here.

Stats: Life, mana, crit multiplier, cast speed, resists,
Also (weaker): spell damage, crit chance
Get rare boots.

The Labyrinth crit enchantment is not necessary, but relatively easy to get (7,4% chance in Uber Lab) and provides a large damage boost since we don't crit ourselves.
Alternatively you can also get a regen enchantment.

Stats: Movement speed, life, mana, resists
Belt, Gloves, Helmet

Enchantments don't matter too much here. If you can get one that's useful, good on you.

The best belt base is a Stygian Vise, otherwise get a Leather Belt.
Fingerless Silk Gloves are the best glove base if you're not planning to get a corruption/enchantment.

A fossil helmet with -9% to enemy chaos resistance is better than any enchantment - recommended.

Stats: Life and resistances; mana on gloves and helmet

As a rule of thumb, 2 skill-point jewel passives are only worth taking if you have 3 useful mods on a jewel.

Stats (rare jewels):
• increased maximum life
• increased crit multiplier (with spells)
• increased (spell/area/chaos/totem) damage (while holding a shield)
• increased crit chance (with spells)
• increased cast (and attack) speed (while holding a shield)
• increased totem life
• elemental resistances

Stats (Abyss jewels):
• +# to maximum life
• +# to maximum mana
• increased crit chance if you haven't crit recently
• increased global crit multiplier
• increased global crit chance
• increased cast speed
• adds # chaos damage to spells (while holding a shield)
• elemental resistances

The stats are ordered in estimated importance and can vary from character to character.
Abyss/rare jewels are fairly equal in power, but Abyss jewels can be more defensive due to the flat mana roll.

Tip: Get one jewel with at least 9% totem elemental resistances to cap your totem's resists (75%), this can be helpful for endgame bossfights.
Recommended setup:

If you can't afford Blood of the Karui (best flask for life recovery), start out with an Eternal Life Flask.
Granite/Basalt are there for defense. If you run into a pack and die, it's usually because you didn't have them up.

Recommended Mods:
-Of staunching (to remove bleed)
-Of heat (to deal with freeze/chill)
-Do NOT get a warding flask. They will remove your curses which means you lose damage from Self-Flagellation.

10. Videos
Uber Elder
#3 (no sound, best run)

T13 Elder by fladsongomes (3.1 Scion)

T16 Shaper Guardians

T16 Maps/Elder Guardians
Chimera Map + Purifier
Minotaur Map + Eradicator
Underground Sea + Monstrous Treasure

11. FAQ
Is quality on Dark Pact worth getting?
Depends, if you want to add one extra radius unit to your DP you can save a skill point by getting a 20q gem, but it won't do anything if you use it with the normal skill tree.

Is Increased Critical Strikes really the best 6th link?
The best gems are Crit Strikes, Crit Damage or Faster Casting, depending on your character. Empower is not worth it unless you have a lv. 4 Empower in a +1 Soul Mantle.

How can I do no-regen maps?

Can I skill X in the passive tree?
Try it out or check PoB. Doom Cast and Totemic Zeal are both good nodes to take, but you'll have to give up something else.
Power Charges are only worth it if you use Conviction of Power and either Shimmeron or Void Battery.

Why are you using Controlled Destruction? Doesn't it make you unable to crit?
You can still crit with Controlled Destruction, it just reduces your chance by 6.9%. It's worth using because it gives us a really high damage multiplier.

How can I improve my character?
This build is cheap to get started, but has a high gear ceiling. The answer is usually:
•Correct gem setups (Wither/Arcane Surge is important)
•A high character level (more passive points)
•Quality and levels on your gems
•Good rares in your damage slots: amulet, weapon and shield
•Enchanted boots & helmet
•Good jewels - the best stat for maxed out characters is crit multiplier

Do I need chaos resistance?
No and no.

How good is Tukohama's Fortress?
While Tukohama's seems good at first glance, it has a lot of drawbacks that make it worse than a rare shield. You won't be able to use Arcane Surge and get 0 mana, which means you can't use MoM.

How can I get faster?
I recommend the following flasks for faster Shield Charge speed:
•(Alchemist's) Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline
•Silver Flask
If you feel like you place your totem too slow, you can get Totemic Zeal on the passive tree.

Can I play this in SSF?
The build is based around Soul Mantle, but easily works without it.
You can simply replace SM, Kikazarus and Self-Flagellation with any item you can find.

Can I play this in HC?
The Scion build was very popular in HC, this one should be good aswell.
However, Soul Mantle does take a toll because you're missing out on a defensive body armour.
For a more tanky version check out Orion72's guide.
Builds and Guides:
Last edited by SHEPUUURD on Dec 7, 2018, 1:14:18 PM
Last bumped on May 13, 2019, 2:11:15 PM
I like the outline of this build. I'm hoping to try it once I 5l or 6l my Soul Mantle.

Since I play HHC, a question- you path right next to MoM, why not take it? You can sacrifice the offensive aura of Haste for the 'defensive' aura of Clarity to still receive the aura bonus from ascendancy. A change I would consider for HC perhaps.
I really dont get why You take assassin For for 1.5% Crit... When you have Trickster for huge Regen and the 20% dmg /mana regen
Hyomin wrote:
I like the outline of this build. I'm hoping to try it once I 5l or 6l my Soul Mantle.

Since I play HHC, a question- you path right next to MoM, why not take it? You can sacrifice the offensive aura of Haste for the 'defensive' aura of Clarity to still receive the aura bonus from ascendancy. A change I would consider for HC perhaps.

Yup, the preferred way most people play this in HC is with MoM. You can expect to have around 2-2.5k Mana with that. Keep in mind that there are also life Nodes left to take if you want to ba a bit tankier.

The reason I don't use MoM in softcore is because it makes me unable to do no regen maps, as the only way to replenish my mana there is with a flask.

Esurah wrote:
I really dont get why You take assassin For for 1.5% Crit... When you have Trickster for huge Regen and the 20% dmg /mana regen

The thing is, the Assassin's crit is mupltiplicative with you increased crit chance, so you don't get 1,5% but rather 15% crit chance which is also around 15% more Damage.

The Trickster's 20% increased damage on the other hand is about "3% more damage" in the end because it doesn't scale multiplicative with our other damage increases.

Then there is the problem that YOU need to kill the enemies for the increased recovery rate, not your Totems. Since we deal no damage and have no DoTs this is impossible to do.

The Mana Regen boosts our reg from 70 to 100-ish, which is not worth losing 15% damage even if you'd be using MoM.
Builds and Guides:
Last edited by SHEPUUURD on Sep 6, 2017, 12:52:08 PM
any tips for leveling? how to start? and when to switch?
nubcake0119 wrote:
any tips for leveling? how to start? and when to switch?

I added a leveling guide.
Builds and Guides:
This is currently obliterating nearly anything I've put it against so far, uber lab was super easy, and I've been running maps that are supposed to be way higher than my level thanks mostly to the safety of totems

I leveled as contagion/essence drain with a +1 tabula until I could use dark pact and it was a breeze lol
I need a few upgrades here and there, but so far this is a great build

Thanks for the build, leveling it now to give it a try. Quick question though, why is controlled destruction in the final gem links setup when there's so much crit in the tree? Is there an interaction with totems or something that I am missing?
I don't speak with knowledge like some streamer or something but I think since it's a reduced 100% and not subtracted 100% or something, it will still crit at whatever your base crit is after affecting the increased critical strikes gem.. since a level 20, 20% version of that gives you something like 110% or something

also that spell damage is super nice from controlled destruction
Last edited by G7Ghost on Sep 10, 2017, 11:27:52 AM
watlemeron wrote:
Thanks for the build, leveling it now to give it a try. Quick question though, why is controlled destruction in the final gem links setup when there's so much crit in the tree? Is there an interaction with totems or something that I am missing?

There's two kinds of multipliers in this game - increased/reduced and more/less:
-increases and reductions get added up and are then multiplied by (in this case) our crit chance.
-more/less always multiplies straight away, even with themselves.

Controlled Destruction gives us reduced Critical Strike chance and more Spell Damage, this means:
-our damage is multiplied by 1.44%
-our critical strike chance is reduced by a flat 100% of our base chance - in this case 5 from (Dark Pact) + 1.5 (from Assassin) + 1.9 (from Increased Critical Strikes) = 8.4%.

Since we're already stacking a lot of crit chance (my character has 858% increased without Power Charges) the reduction is barely noticeable while the multiplied damage is a lot.
In fact, Controlled Destruction is so strong right now that it's better than Increased Critical Strikes/Damage in every crit and noncrit caster build.

Hierophant doesn't have Scion's flat crit, so you only end up losing 6.9%.
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Last edited by SHEPUUURD on May 3, 2018, 9:36:19 AM

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