[3.12 / 3.13] Dark Pact Totems | Life-based MOM, EZ Level 100

This is a guide for Dark Pact Totems, Hierophant ascendancy, and currently updated for 3.12 Heist. I was very impressed with how mechanically strong and sound this build was after playing it to Level 100 and 40/40 challenges, so I wanted to share my interpretation! Original inspiration came from Mathil’s version of the build in 3.11 Harvest.

Ranged, safe playstyle
Reliable DPS uptime
Able to do ALL map mods
Life and Mana based gear
Cluster Jewels are simple and should be cheap
Elemental Ailment immunity (shock, freeze, ignite)
Totem builds generally ignore bleed, except for Sirus fight
Numerous ways to scale DPS and quality of life.
Good amount of Life and Mana regen; no mana sustain issues
Open maps feel really good
Simple spell visuals, so it’s easy to see WTF is going on
Able to pick up loot, take a sip of beer, all while your totems kill stuff around you

REQUIRES Astral Projector ring
Because of the ring, this build is not a true league starter
Not able to life leech, life gain on hit, etc.
The map mod “no life/mana regen” makes dying more likely
We don’t stack block, or that much dodge
Cramped maps feel a little clunky
Mind over Matter approach means we shouldn’t use offensive auras

Changes for 3.13 Ritual
I won't be be playing 3.13 Ritual, though I will list changes, recommendations, and try to answer any questions that come up.

No changes in the patch notes, other than Ascendancy.

Hiero Ascendancy Changes:
Gains 50% Increased Totem Placement Speed. Gains 12% More Damage, assuming use of 6 totems via Multiple Totem Support.

Loses 10% Increased Cast Speed. Loses Variable % of Increased Damage, which was a decent boost for mapping but had zero impact on bosses. Loses the double summoning of totems, which was redundant anyway since we use Multiple Totem Support.

For Uber Lab choice, 'Conviction of Power' is now a reasonable choice over 'Sanctuary of Thought', especially if you don't want to use a trigger weapon for Power Charge generation.

Ultimately, the Hiero changes don't have an impact here for Astral Projector Dark Pact and they might actually make the build better. League starters such as Freezing Pulse will unfortunately feel these changes. I still recommend league starting as a separate character entirely, and then making a 2nd character once you have the currency for Astral Projector.

Dark Pact Totems are also well positioned for Ritual and the new Atlas content, because we stack Totem Life, which should help keep our totems alive during these dense and lethal encounters. The life and mana regen inherent to the build should help keep us alive while we run around like headless chickens. And the single target DPS ain't shabby!

How does Dark Pact work and scale?

Dark Pact is cast by your totems with the Spell Totem Support gem. The Astral Projector ring turns this into a ranged spell. This spell instantly ‘explodes’ on a targeted enemy. The physical size of this explosion is scaled by area effect, and can obliterate small packs of mobs with a single cast. There is no inherent chaining, proliferation, DOT, or whatnot. The totems will keep machine gun casting until all enemies are dead, or until the totems run out of HP from casting.

Dark Pact has built-in flat Chaos damage and a “More with Hits” multiplier, that increases with spell gem level. Dark Pact also gains extra damage based on the life pool of the totem! This doesn’t scale with gem level, but obviously scales with the Max HP of your spell totem.

Dark Pact DPS is significantly scaled by, in no particular order:

Gem Level. Totem Life. Totem Damage. Spell Damage. Chaos Damage (not DOT). Cast Speed. Critical Strike Chance and Multiplier. Chaos Resistance Penetration. Wither Stacks.

PoB, Skill Tree:

The main POB is a level 96 one that was also my personal POB. There is a Level 100 version of my character, with unnecessary gear like Headhunter and Bottled Faith that I added in at level 99.82 :)

https://pastebin.com/Hxz5J3B4 Level 96
https://pastebin.com/QaKARhZR Level 100

Below is a link to my character’s profile, Level 100


Without Cluster jewels, the skill tree is essentially complete around Level 75. There is a lot of personal choice for which small areas you go for, jewel sockets, and in what order. I skipped the “Throatseeker” Crit Multi area because I wanted to scale EHP and other things instead.

Here is a web link to the basic Level 75 skill tree. https://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree/3.12.4/AAAABAUCAASzBUIHHgj0C2EOSBDMES0RlhZvFr8W8xzcHRQi9CTYJjwmlSoLKhMrtiycL50y0TbFPC1BlkPIRUdFnUlRTq5PBFNSVUtaK1ugXfJh4maeZ_xo8mpDbAttGXBSc718DnyDf8aDX4PzhTKFbYnTjDaMRo8aj0aP-pMnlS6a4JuhoS-iAKPypwinVa4Sr2yxNrc4uZO7Tbzqvoq_S8BmwwnDE8au0PXVgdgk42Ljauvu6_XwH_DV8h31-viT-tI=


I have 7 clips from my character, at Level 100 but emulating the gear of my Level 96 character. These are from 3.12 Heist

T16 Drox https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EamKla8TYbo
T15 Baran https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRqK0NoIMZw
A8 Sirus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo6OfWJQSNQ
T16 Uber Elder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKzI5qaCUAY
T16 Heist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7xqxmc6QQE
T16 Summit (1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MozysFrSmQQ
T16 Summit (2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWeVN_cipf8

Mathil also has two videos from 3.11 that do a very good job of showcasing the mechanics and playstyle of this build.



Templar into Hierophant. Pursuit of Faith for first lab. Ritual of Awakening for second lab. Divine Guidance for third lab. The choices for uber lab are fairly weak, and I went with Sanctuary of Thought.


I prefer Alira for the Crit Multi, Elemental Resistances, and Mana Regen. Elemental resistance can get a little tight on our gear, we’re a crit build so we like the multi, and the mana regen is never useless for us.

Kill All for the +2 passives points is also acceptable.


Lunaris, fully filled out, is my preference. Avoiding chained attacks is very relevant for a totem build, and all of the Lunaris bonuses have value for us. Brine King is reasonable because we don’t have stun immunity. However, getting stunned isn’t that bad because our totems keep trucking away, and the extra bonuses under Brine King are largely wasted on our build. And Brine King only prevents being perma-stunned anyway.

For the Minor, I prefer Shakari because we don’t stack a lot of Chaos Resistance, and we need help in that department. Garukhan is the zoom zoom choice.

Gear/Craft Overview:


Astral Projector is a unique ring that is mandatory for this build. Our other ring, and our amulet, have open suffixes so we can craft +1 Minimum Frenzy Charge. Our helmet and gloves have open suffixes, so we can craft “chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments”. Combined with the Astral Projector ring, and 3 points on the skill tree, this makes us immune to elemental ailments. We also use a triggered spells craft on our weapon, to give us 100% uptime on Power Charges, and a little extra quality of life.

Gear Choices:


This chest is currently overpriced because of meta builds in the second half of Heist league. Please do not overpay for this chest!

My choice is a “Skin of the Loyal” chest with +2 AOE Gems implicit corruption. Skin of the Loyal is a chest that is always 6-linked, and its socket colors cannot be changed. The socket colors have equal weighting, which means the majority of these items will be close to 2 Red, 2 Green, 2 Blue. This build wants 3 Red, 1 Green, 2 Blue, which is a common outcome and means the item is more available and cheaper compared to other outcomes.

The price of this item varies based on the overall meta, but it is generally quite affordable for the DPS power that it provides. The 3 Red 1 Green 2 Blue color combo is strong for us and should be cheaper than other combinations, like 4 Red 0 Green 2 Blue, or 2 Red 1 Green 3 Blue.

Example trade link to this item https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Heist/Q2mYdzeCw

You want the implicit corruption to be +2 to AOE Gems. If you don’t have this corruption, then the base item is really not better than a super cheap +2 Tabula. BIS is a double corruption, with +2 AOE Gems, and the other corruption is +1 to all gems. Lesser options are Maximum Life, and reduced critical strike damage taken.

This chest means we are probably using an Empower Support gem. +3 Empower is cheap and gives close to 40% DPS. +4 Empower is obviously BIS.

For true budget, a +2 Tabula (AOE Gems) goes a long way. A 6L Soul Mantle is obviously usable, but that requires some other items and is not the focus of this guide. A self-crafted 6L chest with Life, Spell Crit, and other stuff is also fine.

Can also aim for a cheap "Skin of the Lords" with a useful Keystone on it, like Phase Acrobatics:



A rare 1H wand will usually be best here. Heist dropped a lot of decent spell-focused wands, so they’ve been very affordable.

You want large rolls for Spell Damage, Cast Speed, and Critical Strike Chance for Spells. You really want +1 Level of all Chaos Spell Skill Gems. The 5th roll is a prefix, and can be something like Mana or added elemental damage to spells.

The 6th roll, a suffix, I keep open for crafted “Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill”. If you don’t want to go this route, then this suffix should be Critical Strike Multiplier. The gems that are triggered are mentioned in the “Gems” section.


The minimum requirement for the shield slot is the Shaper mod, “+1 to maximum number of Summoned Totems”. The rest of the shield can be junk, as long as you have this mod. Crafted Life is then what you would put on this shield.

The next step up is to look for some bonus elemental resistance on the shield, in addition to +1 Totem and crafted Life. This is the type of shield I bought for myself, and it helped me keep my resistances capped while I leveled up my guy.


When you are ready to spend more currency on a shield, you want to look for these affixes: +1 to Level of all Chaos Spell Skill Gems, maximum Life, Critical Strike Chance for Spells, Spell Damage, and other useful stuff like elemental resistances.


Basic rare, preferably with the Dark Pact enchant for Damage or Cast Speed. You want big life, some mana, two rolls of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for “chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments”.

You can try self-crafting a helmet with Hunter influence, to get the -9 Chaos Resistance modifier, but this is expensive and is unlikely to have high life, good res, and an open suffix.


Basic rare. Big life, some mana, two rolls of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for “chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments”.

You can fit Cast Speed on your gloves too, but don’t sacrifice your core stats for that. Additionally, there are Incursion mods for each element that can give you some bonus DPS, if you have that added damage already (likely from an affix on your wand). For example, my wand has added lightning, and my gloves give bonus crit to shocked enemies; enemies are shocked because we are a crit build!


Basic Rare. 30% movement, big life, some mana, two rolls of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for crafting even more resistances.

My preferred lab enchant is the Movement Speed one. We are not able to benefit from the Ele Penetration one, or the Critical Strike Chance one. So our options are somewhat slim.


Any good Abyss belt will do. Big life, some mana, and it’s really nice to score some Strength here. Elemental resistances, and an open suffix to craft more resist. Catalyst quality for either Life/Mana or Resistances are both strongly recommended here.

Headhunter does work with totem builds, and works perfectly fine on this build for clearing maps. So aim for this if you want to!


I found that it is very hard to find a good amulet that has +1 to Chaos/Intelligence gems, and that also has solid stats around it. We also want an open suffix on our amulet, for the +1 Minimum Frenzy Charge craft, which does limit our options. Catalyst quality for either Life/Mana or Attributes are both strongly recommended here.

You want big life, and some mana. Open suffix. Spell Damage, Cast Speed, Crit Multi are all fine here. Also useful here is Strength and Dexterity, if you need more of these stats.

The anoint you want is "Ironwood", which is very cheap and gives us at least 8% DPS. It helps us scale Totem Life and some other things.


Your spare ring is a standard rare ring. Big life, some mana, a lot of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for +1 Minimum Frenzy Charge craft. Catalyst quality for either Life/Mana or Resistances are both strongly recommended here.

The other ring is Astral Projector. Do not put Caster quality on this ring; it will increase the Less Area multiplier!!

This build has 3 regular jewel sockets on the tree. 1 Abyssal socket on the belt. And 2 more regular jewel sockets at the end of your two Medium Cluster jewels.

The regular jewels have Maximum Life and Totem Life for their prefixes. The suffixes are your choice, and can be elemental resistance, strength/dexterity, crit multi, crit multi for spells, critical strike chance, area damage, and anything else you think might be good.

The abyss jewel is similar to a regular jewel. I like Life, Mana, Str/Dex, and Crit Multi. This is also a good place to buy a Corrupted Blood abyss jewel, which you slot in exclusively for the Sirus fight.

Cluster Jewels:
These jewels provide a lot of DPS, and good quality of life. They should not be ignored.

The full skill point cost of 1 Large Cluster, 2 Medium Clusters, and their empty jewel sockets being filled, is 18 skill points. That’s a bargain for what they offer!

The large Cluster jewel comes from the Chaos Damage family. You want it to have “Adds 8 Passive Skills”. The best roll has 3 notables on it, called Unholy Grace, Unwaveringly Evil, and Wicked Pall. The combo of these 3 can be expensive, so the budget choice is to aim for only 2, dropping Evil or Pall. Unholy Grace is too good to skip.

The two medium Cluster jewels are your bread and butter, and they come from the Totem Damage family. They can have 4 or 5 “added passives skills”, but you do not want 6. Each can have 2 notables, which means you will end up with 4 notables. That means you want 1 each of: Ancestral Echo, Ancestral Preservation, Ancestral Reach, Sleepless Sentries. Below is a link that helps detail these medium Cluster jewels.


Small Cluster jewels should generally be avoided, though I did go with one. The ones that are truly worth using are very expensive, and most smalls are not worth the cost of the skill points. These smalls tend to focus on EHP, and if you really want to get EHP on the cheap, then pathing towards the Scion life wheel is acceptable.


We use both a Life and Mana flask. Since we are MOM, the mana flask acts as a type of life flask, and works synergistically with our life flask. You can choose to not use a Mana flask, since the build only uses it for EHP sustain, and not for actual mana sustain.

The utility flasks are Diamond, because we are crit, and Quartz, because reliable phasing is just too good to not use. The last flask should be a Quicksilver, because we want to be fast!

We have a lot of choices for our flask suffixes, since we are elemental ailment immune. As long as we have Curse immunity, we are good to go! The Catarina flask craft is really strong here, especially if you can get the Crit Chance one. This is from unveiling her Cinderswallow Flask.

Eternal Life Prefix: Bubbling, Catalysed, or Panicked.
Eternal Life Suffix: Staunching, though we don’t really need it
Eternal Mana Prefix: Enduring, for the always-on effect
Eternal Mana Suffix: Warding, which I like here because the Mana flask has a lot of uses on it
Diamond Prefix: Experimenter’s, generally best here
Diamond Suffix: Cast Speed, a good Catarina craft, or your choice
Quartz Prefix: Experimenter’s or Chemist’s
Quartz Suffix: Cast Speed, a good Catarina craft, or your choice
Quicksilver Prefix: Experimenters, Chemist’s, Alchemist’s, Ample
Quicksilver Suffix: Adrenaline

Lastly, this build does benefit from a Bottled Faith flask, but it’s really only for bosses and requires you to be on top of the boss. If you want to slot this in, I’d drop the Mana flask, and put the Warding suffix on one of the other flasks.

Last edited by BlueeGreg on Jan 13, 2021, 10:48:28 PM
Last bumped on Jan 21, 2021, 8:32:29 AM
Gems & Links:

Dark Pact 6L: Dark Pact (anomalous), Empower 3/4 , Spell Totem (divergent), Multiple Totems, Awakened Void Manipulation, Awakened Controlled Destruction.

Alt-qual Anomalous for Dack Pact is BIS, though regular Dark Pact is fine. Divergent for Spell Totem is good, though regular is fine. We use Multiple Totems for the extra totems, extra regen from our ascendancy, and overall better QOL and DPS uptime. Even though the gem has a less multiplier, it still adds respectable DPS to our build. Use Awakened for Void Manip and Controlled Destruction, when your budget allows.

There aren’t many other good supports for Dark Pact. Conc Effect is good damage, but it does shrink our AOE. Awakened Added Chaos just doesn’t do enough. There’s really not a lot else to choose from.

Wither 4L: Wither (divergent), Despair (anomalous), Cast while Channeling (Anomalous), Infused Channeling

This is our self-cast damage boost for tanky bosses, and is rarely used outside of bosses. This adds Wither stacks to the enemy, and the alt-qual gives bonus Wither stacks. It also casts Despair on the enemy, which increases our DPS. If you channel longer than 0.5 seconds, you gain the temporary DPS buff called “Infusion”.

Movement 4L: Flame Dash (anomalous), Arcane Surge level 2, Second Wind, Withering Step

Flame Dash is used for crossing gaps and quickly escaping from danger. I don’t use Flame Dash for advancing towards the unknown, because this can put our guy in danger, stunned, no totems nearby, and quickly dead. Withering Step competes with the same recharge as Flame Dash, and gives Elusive and Phasing, in addition to some quick Wither stacks. I like using it but it is not required. The Arcane Surge goes without saying :)

CWDT 4L: CWDT Level 20, Stone Golem, Immortal Call / Steelskin, Void Sphere / Frost Shield

These gems are not required, but I like a high level CWDT in every one of my builds. Stone Golem goes great with any life-based build, and there’s no time to self-cast him. Use Steelskin if your Strength is high enough to reach Level 20, otherwise Immortal Call is better. The last slot should be a utility spell like Void Sphere or Frost Shield. These can be quite fun!

Trigger Weapon: Storm Brand, Power Charge on Crit (anomalous), Void Sphere / Frost Shield / Culling Strike

Storm Brand + PCOC gives essentially 100% uptime of power charges for this build. It’s not required, but is very nice. The 3rd slot can be Culling Strike, so that your Storm Brand will cull bosses. Frost Shield is good here, because its cooldown is very low, it provides extra defense, and bonus crit. Void Sphere is good here, for content like Heist that has lots of choke points. Again if you don’t care for triggered spells, power charges etc, then make sure your weapon has a good suffix on it instead like Crit Multi.

Auras Misc: Vitality, Vaal Righteous Fire, Phase Run

Vitality was buffed in 3.12, and it’s a very good aura that almost any life-based build should use. We lose 233 of mana EHP, but gain 247 life regen per second. That’s a tradeoff that I’m willing to make. Vaal Righteous Fire gives a good DPS boost for bosses. Alternatives are Vaal Grace or Vaal Haste. Phase Run, I put on my left mouse click so I can occasionally run faster without having to think about it. Be sure to get the quality up to 20, and don’t level the gem too high because we do not have the dexterity to spare. None of these gems are required.

Leveling Tips:

This is not a league starter build, because of the ultra-rare Astral Projector ring.

You can league start as a generic totem Hierophant, and wait for the ring to become affordable. Holy Flame Totem is good to use for Acts 1 - 3, and after you ascend and once you feel ready, you can transition towards Freezing Pulse + Spell Totem Support.

Otherwise, you want to level this character as a second character, with leveling gear and the ring already purchased. Astral Projector can be used at level 40, and Dark Pact is extremely good for leveling once you slot the ring in!

Your skill tree will be feature complete, shortly after Act 10 Kitava, and before Uber Lab. Slot in regular jewels when you can snipe a good deal, and definitely be working towards your Cluster jewel combo.


"Which Alternate Quality gems are important?"

We don't know how accessible these gems will be in future leagues, and the build works plenty fine without any alternate quality gems.

The two most impactful alternates are Anomalous for Dark Pact, and Divergent for Wither. Anomalous Dark Pact increases the amount of Totem Life that is applied with each cast; this increases from 6% to 7%. This is a direct DPS increase, with the minor downside of your totems killing themselves slightly more quickly. In damage numbers, a 20/20 Anomalous is the same DPS as a 21/20 regular gem. And a 21/20 Anomalous is BIS.

Divergent Wither provides a buff for self-cast Wither, which is what we are doing in this build. Divergent gives us another Wither stack, with every Wither stack we cast/apply. This directly doubles the speed at which we build Wither stacks on enemies!

"Which Awakened Support gems are important?"

The cheapest Awakened gem that we use is Awakened Void Manipulation. This just adds % More DPS for our Dark Pact. This is a nice gem to have, because it makes what is a somewhat mediocre Void Manipulation into a support gem that is worth being in our 6L. It's also nice for us to have a green gem in our 6L, because it'll be easier to find the Skin of the Loyal chest that matches our colors.

Awakened Controlled Destruction is always expensive, because Damage Over Time builds use this gem and they aren't punished by the reduced critical strike chance. Quality on this gem gives us much appreciated Cast Speed. The gem itself adds % More DPS for our Dark Pact. A basic Controlled Destruction is worth using before you can afford its big brother, but the basic Controlled Destruction is only fairly average in power.


Nov 18 2020, updated Shield information and added trade link
Nov 11 2020, actual video clips of my character added!
Nov 1 2020, Skin of the Loyal chest now expensive? :(
October 2020, 3.12 Heist
Last edited by BlueeGreg on Nov 19, 2020, 3:42:42 AM
Hey man - been trying to catch you online but no luck. I am playing this on HC and invested a bit as this will be my last char. I am really enjoying it. I was wondering if you can take a look at my POB for my level 84 and let me know if you see any potential changes I could make... hoping to be level 90+ today.


Thanks ahead of time!
Last edited by dsata on Oct 30, 2020, 4:51:11 PM
็Hi. Im playing this build to lv90 now. Its absolutely blast and quite cheap to get going.

can you tell me why you ignore the imba chant on totem and miners from the labyrinth for a 120% crit chance on boots? has it nerf and no longer works?
DXab wrote:
can you tell me why you ignore the imba chant on totem and miners from the labyrinth for a 120% crit chance on boots? has it nerf and no longer works?

The Storm Brand from the trigger weapon crits all the time, which gives us Power Charges but also means you can't benefit from that boot enchant. These crits count as YOU critting. If you aren't using a trigger weapon, it's totally OK to use that crit boot enchant. I think I would still prefer the movement speed enchant, since DPS feels already really good once you get everything together.
scozman wrote:
็Hi. Im playing this build to lv90 now. Its absolutely blast and quite cheap to get going.

Yes it's a very cheap build, if you ignore the cost of the Astral Projector ring. That's a good thing too because that ring itself can break someone's bank early in the league, not leaving a lot left for good gear.
dsata wrote:
Hey man - been trying to catch you online but no luck. I am playing this on HC and invested a bit as this will be my last char. I am really enjoying it. I was wondering if you can take a look at my POB for my level 84 and let me know if you see any potential changes I could make... hoping to be level 90+ today.


Thanks ahead of time!

Your char is very impressive for level 84 and in Hardcore!

The Bottled Faith is a tough flask to fit in. It really only helps with bosses and you need to be close to the boss, which is scary for HC. Also means you likely lose a Quartz flask or a Mana flask, both of which are great defensively. I would honestly drop the Bottled Faith flask and use an Enduring Mana flask, so your EHP stays topped off.

I love your focus on stacking Chaos res, which I wish I had been able to do. Your chest is very good for defense, though you lose DPS obviously. Probably the right call for Hardcore.

Your Small Cluster jewel with Blessed is a great choice. That actually might be BIS, and I didn't notice it. That extra Mana and Chaos res go a long way.

You were able to fit in Elemental Ailment immunity on your boots with Shaper influence. Nice!

Lol your gear is so good and cohesive, I feel like you're playing an entirely different game than me! :)

Can it be considered tanky enuff for endgame heisting ?

Edit: Chest price went up a lot .. sigh
Last edited by Yloss on Nov 1, 2020, 6:50:01 PM

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