[3.1]The Absinthe Scavenger - cremation and volatile dead with six curses [league starter]

Hi there, this is my first ever build in POE. I'm a relatively new player. So please leave comments if you are interested in the general ideas or have suggestions on this build.

Currently lv.83 in Abyss SC having great fun though I haven't time to try any hard content (such as shaper/elder fights, guardians or uber lab) but most bosses I met till now melt in seconds and during the leveling process I had no difficulty with any acts unlike most spell builds.

Patch Changes

Huge Buff to Occultist in 3.2

Malediction gives more damage and causes enemies to hit less hard.

With 6 curses on chest, we will get 48% more damage each time we kill a monster around the effigy.

Can reasonably have 9 curses easily (6 from Chest, 1 from Malediction, 1 from passive tree, 1 base curse), so it will be 72%
Can run up to 11 curses simultaneously (6 from Chest, 1 from Malediction, 1 from passive tree, 1 from amulet corruption, 1 from boots, 1 base curse), though 9 are more than enough.

Don't like Bestiary at all and probably play this bd in flashback

POB link

For people who want to skip this lengthy post,

PS: POB may not provide accurate damage estimate on this build.

For any question, please read through the post and then post your questions below. I check the post everyday and I will always try my best to help. :)

Some base stats:

4468 HP, 2010 Mana (this build does not reserve mana), 3632 ES

6 curses: warlord's mark, assassin's mark, despair, temporal chain, poacher's mark, enfeeble

Volatile dead: 93663 hit damage * 3 per cast + 121221 poison damage * 3 per cast against mob;

Cremation: 25420 average hit * projectile number * 3 volcanoes + 32100 poison damage * projectile number * 3 volcanoes

Unearth: 5196 average hit, 1.35 cast rate, 7982 poison damage, 5 projectiles (= 5 corpses)

82% chaos, 18% fire damage

Does not count: power charge, malediction's 24% more damage, and curse effect, clear mind jewel.


T12 Racecourse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAmk_L7FXzY&feature=youtu.be

Core mechanism
Chaos Conversion

Convert % of fire damage to chaos damage

Dual-wielding the consuming dark converts 60% of your fire damage to chaos damage and grants poison on hit (120% chance to poison on hit to be precise).

Infernal mantle converts a further 15% of fire damage to chaos damage, though we won't be using this in our build. See more explanation below.

Gain % of non-chaos damage as extra chaos damage
This kind of description grants more damage instead of just conversion. Obtainable via:

Eber's unification provides 8% of elemental damage (which influences cremation and volatile dead) as extra chaos damage.

Atziri's promise grants 12% of elemental damage (15% of physical damage for unearth) as extra chaos damage during flask effect.

Occultist's ascendancy node "Malediction" grants a buff when you kill a cursed enemy. For each curse on it, you gain 4% of non-chaos damage as extra chaos damage.

With doedre's skin which removes curse limit that you can apply on enemies,

you gain up to 24% (6*4%) more non-chaos damage (affects all skill used) as chaos damage.
infernal mantel vs doedre's skin
It's up to you to decide which chest you would wear. I am a big fan of doedre for the following reasons.
  • safer with curse such as enfeeble (less damage), temporal chains (slow), warlord's mark (leech, endurance charge), and poacher's mark (on-hit regen)
  • better pathing, you can make use of points invested on "+1 curse" nodes elsewhere (save 5 points?)
  • more chaos damage with malediction (3 more curses on enemy, which is 12% more damage)
  • effigy does not reserve mana! Free curse spamming. And of course full mana pool to sustain mind over matter (mom)
  • infernal mantel makes you more vulnerable on low mana


Poison damage deals chaos damage and grows quickly with stack.
Frequent Hits with Poison on Hit

Two consuming dark grants 120% chance to poison on hit.

Core skills generate multiple hits per cast.

Volatile dead destroys up to 3 corpses upon cast (4 with enchantment). Cremation fires projectiles from a immobile geyser (with 3 geysers up, approximately 9 hits per second [only visually, not sure]). Unearth with GMP (greater multiple projectile) support gem can fire 5 projectiles per cast and in average hits a single 2-3 times per cast.

With 100% chance to poison on hit, more hits = more poison stack.

Building Around Stacks

Linked skill deals up to 9% more damage with vile toxin. And more dot with poison.

Temporal chains make your poison linger longer on its victim and thus creating more stacks.

Free 5 link, and more importantly, poison duration (= more stacks) as well as global chaos damage (higher poison damage).

Corpse Spamming

Corpse spamming is core to this build since all main skills rely heavily on fleshes and blood.

Unearth linked with spell totem frees you from self-cast desecrate and generates corpse closer to enemies. In addition, as poison on hit mechanics exists, unearth builds poison stacks and thus boosts your main skill damage a lot.


In case you forget to cast unearth spell totem and awkwardly being surrounded by a huge pack of monsters, this trigger mechanic will save your ass.


Summon two corpses and trigger Malediction buff in boss fight. Be aware of your minion (your golem!), they can accidentally kill them with no care

  • Use wither to increase chaos damage (temporal chains to allow more stacks)
  • Use Cast while Channelling to overwrite volatile dead's cast time
  • 6 curses: assassin's mark (more crit chance, crit dmg, power charges), despair (remove chaos resist, flat chaos damage), temporal chains (stacks), poacher's mark (frenzy charge)
  • up to -60% chaos resist on enemies (-30% from despair, -10% from void gaze [eber's unification], -20% from void bacon [occultist's ascendancy])
  • Cursed enemies have 20% chance to explode upon death, dealing massive chaos damage

  • Hybrid (Energy shield + Life)
  • MoM (Mind over Matter) with full mana pool
  • Leech (Warlord's Mark, Atziri's promise)
  • 6 curses: temporal chains (slow), poacher's mark (on-hit regen), warlord's mark (mana and life leech) and enfeeble (less damage)
  • chaos golem
  • cwdt frost-wall (blocking most projectiles and melee attackers) and immortal call
  • Access to new support gem: storm barrier which grants damage mitigation (less damage not reduced damage) against physical and lightning damage if you want to play safer in sc or even make it hc viable
  • Access to CI (I wonder if CI is better for the build, tell me what you think)

  • Pros and Cons
    • can use tier 1 movement skill in game i.e. whirling blade
    • can run almost any map mods (reflect is not a problem)
    • core skills are new skill gems and volatile dead's auto-targeting is amazing
    • extremely low cost (all unique used are under 1c) and thus perfect as league starter
    • core mechanism available at very low level and leveling process is smooth as silk
    • chaos damage bypasses energy shield, making enemies die faster
    • solid defense


    • unique items lock 5 slot in gear (while in late game, you can swap "eber's unification" and "embalmer" with elder items)
    • slow at mapping, not a farming build
    • no stun immunity. Stun defense depends on pantheon.
    • press many buttons and thus not suitable for casual play style
    • haven't tested end game content, its power against hard bosses is unsure


    Passive Tree and Bandit
    Alira my sister :)

    tips: you can see ascendancy points, by just clicking the downside arrow at the bottom of the witch face.


    Gem link
    Unearth: (dagger) Unearth - GMP - Spell totem
    Unearth will only work with GMP, otherwise it just generates one corpse per cast.

    Movement/Golem: (dagger) Whirling blade - Faster Attack - Summon Chaos Golem
    Can use other golem and other movement skill at your will.

    Cremation: (helmet) Cremation - Elemental Focus - Controlled Destruction - Vile toxin
    Use cremation only at boss fights or against strongboxes/thorny rares.

    Curses:(chest) whatever you want. My personal set up is warlord's mark, poacher's mark, assassin's mark, enfeeble, despair, and temporal chains. (Or maybe you can support effigy with other gems, haven't tried yet but don't think worthwhile to trade 4% more damage for a stronger effigy)

    Main:(gloves) Wither - Cast while Channeling - Volatile dead - Elemental Focus/Storm Barrier - Vile toxin (granted by embalmer)
    Swap Ele Focus for Storm Barrier. Ironically, I found that elemental focus is more defensive since it kills packs and bosses quicker, largely reducing your need for defense. LOL.

    Cwdt Proc:(boots) Cast when damage taken (lvl 2) - Desecrate (lvl 8) - Frost wall (lvl11) - Immortal Call (lvl 2)
    Can use whatever cwdt setup you like. Desecrate is however mandatory.

    As you can see, whole suit costs less than 20c, I dare to say.
    [spoiler="My current gear"]


    Sadly my wooden computer does not allow me to record any vids. If you happen to love my idea, I would appreciate if you can help.

    Play style (Must read before trying)
    • Against trash mobs: place unearth totem and cast wither (no need to target, just hover around).
    • Against blue or rare: place an effigy in midst of the pack, place unearth totem, cast wither on rare/blue enemies (do this in order).
    • Against boss: unearth totem - effigy - cremation - wither ( recast totem and effigy if they expire) you can definitely tank some hits from bosses but it doesn’t mean you can face tank everything like a berserker with insane leech. Avoid big hits will keep you from death. Try not to stay too long in firestorm, caustic cloud or shaper’s vortex.
    • Map: density is your friend. Higher density means shorter distance between packs, which makes your fire orbs unstoppable even without unearth totem. (i.e. in this case, you won't need to cast unearth totem between packs)
    • Team play: Cast effigy and you are a good support. Don’t use wither as we always lag behind. While in arena, do the same thing as you would in a boss fight. We can safely call this as a Cursebot, the evil sister of aurabot.

    Leveling guide
    [spoiler]Gems are listed in order of importance. Do not use chromatic to roll socket color before act 7 just use whatever color on gear and try to fit in gems indicated here.
    Lv 1-12:
    Main spell: Freezing Pulse – LMP (Lesser Multiple Projectile) – Arcane Surge – (added lightning damage) [four link is unnecessary]
    Secondary: Orb of Storm – Elemental Proliferation
    Totem: Spell totem – any other spell you have (raise zombie/ summon skeleton could be nice as meat shield)
    Gear suggestion: dual wield wands (or wands + spirit shield), get movement speed on boots, socket abyssal gems that add flat elemental damage to spell into stygian vise if you have any.

    act 1 after killing Brutus
    Main spell: Volatile Dead – Arcane Surge – Chance to ignite – (added cold/lightning damage)
    Secondary: Orb of Storm – Elemental Proliferation – Added Lightning Damage
    Totem: Unearth – LMP – Spell Totem , Searing bond is also nice to have
    Movement: Flame Dash (Must have, need it at Act2 to leap over broken paths)
    Support: Clarity (do not level it)
    Gear suggestion: get some cold resist before boss. Get Storm barrier and wither and put them into free socket (get 6 free sockets from your backup weapon slots) to gain experience.

    act 2
    Update Main spell: Volatile Dead – Arcane Surge – Elemental Focus/Storm Barrier – (Concentrated effect – Controlled Destruction)
    Secondary: Orb of Storm – Power Charge on Crit – (Elemental Proliferation – Added Lightning Damage)
    Corpse: Desecrate – Spell Cascade (Self-cast)
    Not mandatory if you have unearth totem already; keep desecrate at low level (or do not lv it at all)
    Defense: Arctic Armour (Nice to have)
    Offence: Herald of Thunder (Nah to herald of ice since it destroys our precious corpses)
    Gear suggestion: Take gear with 3 or more sockets from drops. Use low-tier essence to gear up. Do not spend too much currency.
    Abyssal Gem: Life > Resist > Flat damage to spell > Spell/Fire damage > Energy Shield

    act 3
    Add cremation setup: Cremation – Elemental Focus – Controlled Destruction
    Blasphemy: Up to you if you use warlord’s mark curse aura (arrange your mana reservation)
    Aura: Anger (Nice to have but not mandatory, and arrange your mana reservation)
    Gear suggestion: Upgrade gear with 2 or more links from drops. Use low-tier essence to gear up. Do not spend too much currency. Cap lightning resist before Dominos.
    Abyssal Gem: Life > Resist > Flat damage to spell > Spell/Fire damage > Energy Shield

    act 4
    Chaos Golem (Or other golem you like)
    CWDT: Cast When Damage Taken (lv2) – Frost wall (lv 8) – Desecrate
    Unearth: Unearth – GMP (Greater Multiple Projectile) – Spell Totem
    Orb of Storm: Orb of Storm – Power Charge on Crit – Curse of Hit – Curse of your choice
    Gear suggestion: Use some currency to buy good life/resist/es gear on poe.trade. Low level item is cheaper to buy than to craft yourself. Upgrade your flask.
    Abyssal Gem: Life > Resist > Flat damage to spell = Crit multi > Spell/Fire damage > Energy Shield

    act 5
    Grab as much as life you can, and you can sacrifice some damage for it. No skill gem update. Do normal lab before Kitava fight.

    Caution: There was a bug concerning unearth while fighting Kitava. Unearth shoots at Kitava, dealing normal damage but fails to generate any corpse. I do not know whether GGG has fixed this or not. You can self-cast desecrate anyway.

    act 6
    Cap resist and buy all gems that you don’t have from Lily. Cap Cold resist before Brine King. You can also be lacking dex from now on. Be sure to get dex on amulet and rings.

    act 7
    Buy all core unique from poe.trade with the right color link and ideally good rolls.
    Main skill: Wither – Cwc – Volatile Dead – Elemental Focus – Vile toxin (4 link on embalmer)
    Cremation: Cremation – Ele Focus – Controlled Destruction – Vile toxin
    Orb of Storm: Orb of storm – power charge on crit – curse on hit – curse of your choice
    Movement: Whirling blade – faster attack – fortify

    You must equip at least two consuming dark before switching to wither cwc setup. Otherwise, stay with the old self-cast setup. Unlike self-cast version, cwc version does not require you to target corpse. Feel free to target elsewhere and volatile dead will auto-target a nearby corpse as you hover around.

    Gear suggestion: Use all your saved currency on mentioned gear. The build is at its temporal acumen when you have 2 consuming dark, infernal mantel and embalmer gloves. Enjoy!

    Caution: The Arakaali fight has the same problem as Kitava’s. So be sure to grab Desecrate.

    act 8-10
    No real progression. Just gear up and always cap resist. Remember that sacrificing life/defense for damage is not wise for the moment since you have already abundant of them from tree and uniques. Having MoM and a decent life/es pool, you should be deathless during all these chapters with a rather good clean speed.

    Switch to six-curse setup when you enter maps. Pick up 6 curses of your choice and buy Doedre’s skin from poe.trade. I’d suggest to socket at least 2 defensive curses into the chest. In terms of dps, the three best curses are assassin’s mark, despair and temporal chain.

    Ascendancy Choice
    [spoiler]Want to try Necromancer next. The key node is spirit eater which grants cast speed as you consume corpses. Offering makes you more resistant against hard bosses like elder or shaper. Feedback welcome. [/spoiler]

    Honorable Mention
  • Last edited by pesemire on Apr 24, 2018, 10:44:44 PM
    Last bumped on May 25, 2018, 11:20:53 PM
    Well written guide. Thank you.

    1) How do you target Wither? on the mob/boss or on creamated corpses?
    2) Any tips for leveling this?
    ■► It's a business. You won't get the full experience.
    ■► Yes, this is an addiction. This is a Slot Machine. I am addicted.
    ■► You won't be rewarded. There is no reward.
    Hi. I forgot to write a section about play style. It’s rather simple for trash mobs. Place ur unearth totem and cast wither (just hover around the screen, no need targeting since 1, volatile dead almost one shots most white mobs 2, cwc volatile dead auto targets corpses as well as enemies) I encourage you to try it and it’s really fun seeing fire orbs rushing through everywhere and exploding enemies on its path. For boss fights, target at boss as wither stacks will be crucial for high dps and as corpses are spamming around the boss, the fire orb doesn’t need to travel and thus hits always, stacking even more poison dot.
    2. Only 2 phases: before lv12 and after 12. Use freezing pulse before lv 12 and grab the quest gems you like. After lv 12, you can use volatile dead, unearth and spell totem. The core setup is rdy and it will carry you till act 6 or 7. When you hit lv 53, grab two consuming dark and embalmer, perhaps infernal mantel if you want to see it’s incredible power. Switch immediately to wither cwc volatile dead setup when these mentioned uniques are rdy. No required items is needed for lvling, just pick up all you can use from drops. The only recommended unique is lifesprig which boosts ur clean speed and gives you decent regen upon cast.
    Last edited by pesemire on Dec 23, 2017, 4:59:51 PM
    DoveAhKin wrote:
    Well written guide. Thank you.

    1) How do you target Wither? on the mob/boss or on creamated corpses?
    2) Any tips for leveling this?

    Leveling guide updated;
    Thanks for the guide. After building my own gimped BodySwap build and struggling with T3 maps, I used your guide to revamp my character. Things are going a lot better. Thank you!
    Jeradooka wrote:
    Thanks for the guide. After building my own gimped BodySwap build and struggling with T3 maps, I used your guide to revamp my character. Things are going a lot better. Thank you!

    Glad you like it.
    Do you run your curses all as auras or do you cast them individually?

    IF auras, how do you manage that with reserved mana - there must be something I am missing.


    Love the build so far..
    Vulkaan wrote:
    Do you run your curses all as auras or do you cast them individually?

    IF auras, how do you manage that with reserved mana - there must be something I am missing.


    Love the build so far..

    Hi. We use a new unique item just introduced in 3.1

    Doedre's skin grants lv20 effigy skill. This effigy is like a totem which casts all your curses as a blasphemy aura socketed in this item (no need to be fulled linked). And it reserves no mana. You only need to manually cast this effigy skill on hard mobs or bosses though. The only downside of this skill is its cast speed and cast point. With no bonus, it may cost as long as 1s to cast.
    p.s. effigy is not a totem skill, so it bypasses your maximum totem limit.

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