[3.8] Trarthan Ice Snake | Self-Poison, Reverse Chill, Poison BV Assassin | 2M+ sDPS

“Those members of the Brotherhood who employ the venom of Trarthan ice snakes must take great care with the volatile substance.” -Flavour Text on Icefang Orbit

Shameless twitch plug:https://www.twitch.tv/protagonist_chris


Don’t let my 4000 hours of POE paly time fool you; I have no clue what I’m doing. After years of throwing random stupid hipster meme builds at the wall and waiting for something to stick, this one feels like it may be working. Though, this is probably due to the state of Poison, the Assassin ascendancy buffs, and the ever-present strength of Blade Vortex. At any rate, the build has been a blast to play and it certainly has the potential to really blow some dick’s off in some more capable hands.

I don’t think I’m the first person to play around with these uniques and their interactions, but I hadn’t seen any write a guide on the subject so I may as well claim it was all my idea.

Build-enabling uniques in POE are fun and challenging to build around, and on occasion contribute towards some effective playstyles. At the end of the day this is an archetypal Poison BV Assassin, but the core of the build uses a few synergies from various sources to inflict the chilled and poison ailments onto ourselves, as well as onto enemies. We can then convert those self-inflicted ailments into buffs. The build uses the following primary uniques:

Path of Building:
(lvl 86 at the moment, with sub optimal gear)


+ Big Damage*
+ Perma-Chill on enemies, self
+ Very Fast mapper
+ Bosses are a breeze (don’t get hit)
+ Relatively Cheap (at time of writing this guide) to take you well into endgame
+ Poisons are OP at the moment
+ Excellent use of the elusive mechanic
+ Herald of Ice Chains while using poison**
+ Requires many adjectives to describe, very high hipster street cred

- Potentially Lots of buttons
- Not even remotely HC viable.
- Dependant on uniques
- Not tanky. Not a high life pool, and we rely on evasion, elusive, and dodge. It may not happen often, but when something does manage to smack you, you’ll probably die.
- Expensive to min/max
- Herald of Ice Chains may be bugged/not work as intended
- Normal poison BV is probably better, but way less cool
- Accidently turning off Malevolence can instantly kill you, which is hilarious and may actually be a pro.


Functionally this plays like any other Blade Vortex build, with a few extra bells and whistles. Because we poison and chill ourselves as soon as we start hitting enemies, we ramp up very quickly. The increased action speed allows us to cast BV’s faster, and to shield charge/flame dash around with blistering speed. Most notably, this build handles bossing very well. It feels a bit like an autobomber that’s eschewed a bit of “clearing reliability” for boss damage.
Contrary to the standard BV gameplay of “walking simulator with the occasional right click,” there are quite a few buttons for this build. Plague Bearer (more on that in another section) is chief among these extra buttons, as it aid’s in clearing extremely well and synergizes with the self-poison mechanic.
We also use Focus, Withering Step, and Vaal Blade Vortex on our bar. I should note that the “rotation” would probably be load to 10 stacks of BV -> Focus -> Plague Bearer -> Vaal BV if it’s up-> Withering Step for the speed/wither effect.


Blade Vortex:

Plague Bearer





Plague Bearer Interaction:

Plague Bearer has been an amazing skill for this build. The skill is very unique and that alone is interesting, but the way it interacts with our self-poison is what really makes it amazing.

As you can see, the skill has two stages: Incubating and Infecting. You build up stacks of “stored poison damage” while incubating, and when you press the skill again you create a righteous-fire-like aura of damage that releases the stored damage.
Here is the tidbit that we care about:
When you inflict Poison while Incubating, adds 40% of the Expected Poison
Damage to Plague Value
While Infecting, deals Chaos Damage per second equal to 12% of the Plague Value when Infecting began, and loses Plague Value at the same rate

You’ll note that you store poison damage whenever you inflict poison. Blade vortex’s high hit rate and the self-poisoning we get from the the golden rule means we inflict poison all the god dammed time. Functionally, that means that our plague bearer incubation phase fills up in literally 1 second, usually. The Infection stage is virtually always available to you. This not only negates the “20% less poison damage of the incubating phase” that accompanies this skill, but it adds a ton of clear speed and overall DPS.
I should note that you can only scale the damage off of this ability with gem levels, quality, and Inc AOE gem. Empower, Enhance, and Inc AOE are really the only links possible for this gem.



The core of the build is this unique ring, packed with important mods:

Icefang Orbit gives us:
Non-chilled enemies that you poison are chilled – This alone should be a good defensive mechanic, adding a reliable permanent source of chill to the build.
You are Chilled while Poisoned – In theory, this lets us play around with reverse chill effect.
Poisoned enemies are shattered – This lets us proc Herald of ice chains for added clear speed and ASMR.

The Golden Rule unique jewel lets us reflect poisons we deal back onto ourselves. The term “reflect” is a bit misleading here, as you also poison enemies AND yourself!

Now that we are both poisoned and chilled, we need to address both ailments. Here the build can branch off to several different places, whether you wish to use or mitigate the self-inflicted ailments.

For this build, we use the Winterweave unique ring to reverse the effect of Chill on us. In theory, this can give us up to 30% increased action speed. (It’s not that easy, more on this mechanic in a bit)

For the self-poison, we need to find a source of “unaffected by poison” or a similar way to stop taking chaos damage over time, i.e. using Chaos Inoculation and going full ES. I use an “Unaffected by Poison” Watcher’s Eye, which at the time of writing this guide, cost me 20C. It doesn’t offer much else, however.

Alternatively, you could use something like the “Maw of Conquest” unique helm which has the “Unaffected by Poison” mod.

The Apep’s Supremacy shield gives us +3% to our maximum elemental resists while we’re poisoned, which is all the time. This isn’t required, but it gives us some much-needed defence. The shield also gives us flat chaos damage, ES, ES Regen, and extends the poison duration on ourselves. Probably best in slot.

Cold Iron Point
+# levels to physical spells is one of the best ways to scale their damage. +3 from this dagger alone is crazy good. Not dealing elemental damage doesn’t affect our build’s damage much, but it does affect the chill mechanic. See chill section for more information
A multi-mod crafted 1-handed weapon with physical, chaos, or spell modifiers and +1 to all physical spell gems prefix could be a suitable replacement.
Could also use Bino’s for the poison proliferation, but that’s probably a big hit to dps and the build clears just fine without it.

I personally like running the 3 auras on this build, and the only achievable way I’ve found to do that at the moment is the % reduced mana reserved from the diadem, as well as using Eldritch battery for mana. A rare helmet or the aforementioned Maw of Conquest could be used instead.

There may be some funky interaction with the Corpse consumption from the helm, but I’m not smart enough to figure out what it could be.

Hyperboreus belt?
I’ve not tested this, but the synergy could be there with the ailment dmg vs chilled enemies.

The Body Armor could probably be whatever you’d like. Carcass Jack, Belly of the Beast, whatever works honestly. Personally, I’m going to go for a rare shaper chest with +1 active gems and +%Crit chance for socketed spells and max life.

We’re almost there. The rest of the gear is rare, with Life, Resistances, Poison mods, crit, spell damage, etc.

Note on Anointment:


The best anointed node is probably “Dirty Techniques” down near the Duelist section of the tree. Duration, poisons deal damage faster, and damage multiplier tick all the boxes. The “deal damage faster” portion is actually very substantial, as the total poison duration still stays the same, but the poison damage “ticks” faster per second. This node is also one of the very limited sources of this mod and is difficult to path to.

*A Note on Big Damage:

Surprisingly, I’m quite new to poison builds in general, as I’ve never had an interest in the mechanic in past leagues. Poison damage is notorious for big numbers in PoB, but I’m unsure of the reliability of some of those estimates. Because there are so many interactions occurring at once with this build, I’m finding it difficult to get a good estimate of what the real, practical shaper DPS should be. That being said, with adequate gear, gem levels, flask use, and button pressing – it should make it past 1M sDPS without much of a problem.

** A Note on Herald of Ice Chains

Because Icefang Orbit gives us the mod “Poison enemies shatter” the theory is that we’ll be seeing huge HoI shatter chains that help us clear. However, that doesn’t seem to be how this interaction works. I think the consensus is that sometimes you instantly kill things with hits, which don’t have time to be poisoned and therefore don’t shatter triggering the HoI. In practice, I see the HoI chains about 50% of the time you would expect to see them in other builds. We also don’t deal any elemental damage directly because of Cold Iron Point, which may be affecting how this interaction works, but who knows. Please weigh in if you have any suggestions.

Reverse chill mechanic:

I’ve tagged all the reverse chill bits with asterisks because I’ve done some testing and the chill mechanic is not very intuitive. Here is the chill description from the wiki:
“The magnitude of the slow is directly proportional to the damage relative to the target's maximum life, equal to 30% slow at 10% of the target's maximum life dealt by Cold damage, scaling down to 0% at no damage. Hits below the minimum threshold of 1% effect are discarded,[3] effectively requiring a hit of 0.33% enemy maximum life to chill that enemy. As an example, The Shaper has approximately 20 000 000 life. Minimally chilling The Shaper requires a single hit of 66 000 cold damage.
Chill slow is capped at 30%. Increased effect of Chill will decrease the life threshold if it goes over the slow cap. For example, with 100% increased Chill effect, dealing Cold damage equal to 5% of the target's maximum life or more will slow it by 30%.”
As I haven’t had much of a clarification in my research on this, and I’m unaware of anyone else testing this, I’m left to draw my own conclusions:
It seems that the chill effect applied is applied at the base value of about 15% on us. Apparently, I’ve scaled non-damage ailment effectiveness or chill effectiveness somewhere in this build, because I’m at 16% increased action speed when I’m chilled. I tested a few more nodes and got it up to 20% increased action speed with chill effectiveness, but there isn’t a lot of synergy with those nodes other than chill effect.
Because we aren’t self-inflicting cold damage or using any mods that allow us to take cold damage from a % of physical damage, we’re probably only gaining the base action speed of 10% from Winterweave along with mitigating the slow effect applied to us from Icefang. That 10% seems to be bumped up to 15% from somewhere in the build, but I cannot for the life of my figure out why.
That doesn’t sound like much but that’s a MORE multiplier to action speed, which includes movement speed, cast speed, attack speed, etc. It is a huge boost to the speed of the character.
One way we can guarantee that the reverse chill is juiced up to it’s max 30% is to use Scold’s bridle nonsense involving an item with the “X% Physical Damage taken as Cold” paired with something like an Auxium belt. The chill effect being based on your ES is substantial because chill effect is proportional to the damage dealt as a % of total life. Having the chill effect based on a much lower ES pool makes it easier to reach max chill effect. Effectively, this means you’d permanently have +30% more action speed. That’s very zoomzoom, but probably not worth the setup, at least for this build.
You could also just use a Dream Fragment ring to solve for self-chill and freeze ailments, or some other source of chill/freeze immunity.

You may instantly kill yourself sometimes.

If you're using a watchers eye with the "unaffected by poison while affected by Malevolence" mod to mitigate the self-poison, you'll want to make sure nothing you do stops your malevolence aura while you're poisoned.

For instance, if your malevolence is in your helm, enchanting your helm at the end of Lab while you still have poisons on you will instantly kill you. I've made this mistake TWICE now, because I am not a smart man. Just wait 30s or so for the poisons to tick away before enchanting the helm.

Just be careful with any other form of self-poison mitigation.

Final Thoughts:
As I stated, I’m the world’s “okayest” POE player. If you have any comments, suggestions, or insults to my intelligence, but all means drop a comment.
If you’re interested in watching me play my meme hipster builds, I stream 3 times a week on twitch at https://www.twitch.tv/protagonist_chris
Last edited by stabbthehuman on Oct 3, 2019, 7:19:45 AM
Last bumped on Oct 11, 2019, 5:32:36 AM
I had a similar build currently on Blight. Currently Level 90 and most content already completed. My Shaper DPS is 9.3 mil (after a couple seconds of poison stacking).

PoB: https://pastebin.com/0gFJDi0Q

I use Dagger + Shield (shield gives Plaguebearer + 2 lvls, and Empower +2 levels which in turn give another +4 to Plaguebearer... for a lvl 26 PB)

I use Energy Leech as 6th gem, with Diadem it just makes sense.

I am also using Fenumus' Weave gloves for Aspect of Spider + dmg from webs.

I use Dendrobate for huge damage (and some resists). Getting to 300 Dex takes some itemization, but it's not too bad.

My gear is not amazing, but everything is easy... but yeah, lots of buttons to press.

Don't mind all of my gem choices yet as I'm still experimenting and leveling others for other heroes.

I Like your take on these mechanics. I was nervous about not running with a CWDT setup and apep's +3% to max res, how do you find the defenses on this build? I'm playing around with a 6L denrobate, but I'm struggling to get the dex without totally re-gearing. That damage is temping tho!
stabbthehuman wrote:
I Like your take on these mechanics. I was nervous about not running with a CWDT setup and apep's +3% to max res, how do you find the defenses on this build? I'm playing around with a 6L denrobate, but I'm struggling to get the dex without totally re-gearing. That damage is temping tho!

I mean you get blown up if you make a mistake. I do plan on putting in a CWDT + IC (or Steelskin) in there (probably attach it to Summon Flame/Ice/Lightning Golem). There is too many buttons to press as it is, plus we have Focused too.

The Dex can be helped as we pass by a +30 dex notable on the tree (until you get the gear to spec out of it).

Strength of 111 is required too in order to use a Level 20 Fortify, which I'm not sure if it's worth it.

CWDT would have to be Max Level 6 so you can run a Level 8 IC or Steelskin and still be at 109 Str req.

Debating ways to lower damage but gain more survivability...
Thanks for providing that context around your defensive options, do you mind if I quote your build and responses to include it in the build up top?

I think I've eschewed some of the damage potential of the build for the defensive options. Surprisingly even at 4700 life, with just acro/phase acro, elusive, and the +3% max res, I'm not dying nearly as often as I'd have imagined, even in red maps.

I'd like more life, but otherwise maybe I'd like to try and scale evasion/dodge some more.
stabbthehuman wrote:
Thanks for providing that context around your defensive options, do you mind if I quote your build and responses to include it in the build up top?

not at all, go for it.

I have updated my PoB (reasons listed in 2nd reply) to:
PoB: https://pastebin.com/bwLq9Rs2

stabbthehuman wrote:
I think I've eschewed some of the damage potential of the build for the defensive options. Surprisingly even at 4700 life, with just acro/phase acro, elusive, and the +3% max res, I'm not dying nearly as often as I'd have imagined, even in red maps.

I'd like more life, but otherwise maybe I'd like to try and scale evasion/dodge some more.

After more testing and red maps I concluded that most of my deaths were from being stunned. Since we don't have room to include Kaom's Roots or Chayula Onyx amulet due to Resistance & Attribute needs I decided that it is DEFINITELY worth picking up the Practical Application notable that gives 25% chance to Avoid interruptions from Stuns while Casting (it also gives +20 Str & Dex which is super nice).

I put CWDT + IC (+ Increased Duration in the future, just out of Chromatics for the time being) in the Weapon 1 slot (by far the easiest of all our slots to get 3 red sockets).

Still need to Anoint the Amulet with Dirty Techniques too (that's not reflected in the PoB) which should add about 6.8% more DPS. Alternatively for more health you can Anoint Discipline and Training for about (250+ health).
cool build
Last edited by AbilityPoints on Oct 11, 2019, 5:24:24 AM
I've been testing self-chill wander with the Icefang Orbit and Winterweave rings and it seems the '50% chance to Reflect Enemy Chills and Freezes' from the Minor God Yugul results in a permanent chill effect on my character. Which is kinda cool (pardon my pun) but I feel as if it's a bug. Still it's something to try out.

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