[2.6] Ten SkeleMages

This is my guide for my SkeleMages build. It's a summoner specializing in Summon Skeletons, specifically 10 Skeleton Mages from the Dead Reckoning threshold jewel first introduced in Talisman League, then Dead Reckoning was updated with bug fixes for 2.2 Ascendancy, then later buffed significantly (no longer requires allocated INT!) in 2.6 Legacy League, and finally buffed yet again in 3.0 Fall of Oriath.

My character name is PerandusMcKenzie


- Zana Torture Chamber Boss Kill (7:00) - Using 6link Femurs of the Saints BBBBBG
- Rare Gorge #1 with temporal chains (~9:00) - Using 5link Femurs with Pierce + Slower Projectiles
- Rare Gorge #2 (~10:00) - Using 5link Femurs with Faster Casting + Minion Speed
- Rare Gorge #3 with chilled ground (~10:00) - Using 6link Femurs with Less Duration

Pros and Cons


- Can level as this build
- Can slowly transition into this build, doesn't have interlocking parts that are all required
- Can pick up loot while your army kills things
- Can get a little bit of increased item rarity on your rare gear pieces because summoners lack a deep rare affix pool (if you aren't using Animate Weapon)
- Can run away to live another day when army dies
- It's not Summon Raging Spirit build


- Dead Reckoning is strong enough now that it costs real currency to acquire (used to be 1alch, currently about 6c in Harbinger league)
- Summoners have slow clear speed. For example, Bones of Ullr boots has very strong minion buffs but only +15% move speed. However, rare 30% move speed boots can have tons of defense but won't help your offense.
- Bosses with tons of AoE damage can kill your whole army, sometimes quickly. Such as Perandus packs and especially Beyond bosses.
- Army sometimes fails to keep you alive against leaping enemies like drop bears/devourers.
- Lots of annoying setup time when you login, disconnect, or die in softcore if you use Auras + Spectres/Animate Guardian/Animate Weapon/Zombies.
- If you use one, losing an Animated Guardian costs around 5 chaos.
- I've found I can't really do red maps with this build because the incoming damage is so high that even when my army survives it, I die to stray bullets. I will try again with Chaos golem, the +1% phys mitigation per zombie, block, and Lightning Coil to try for tankiest setup.
- It's not Summon Raging Spirit build


I have played this build to level 84+ on 3 different SC characters:

1. 84 Scion in Talisman (no ascendancy). At the time, Dead Reckoning was bugged and didn't work with projectile support gems. This toon had to parked at level 84 because it couldn't progress anymore, despite having a 500es dual res shield (over 10ex). This was a lowlife, non-Shav's with 133% chaos resistance using Montrgul's Grasp. The 12 skelemages were only in a 3-link (Summon Skeletons + Spell Echo + Blind) because their damage was so bad.

2. 85 Scion in Ascendancy. The Necromancer node works, but the Scion's Deadeye ascendancy does NOT work for skelemages. No pierce, no extra projectile, nothing at all. It is completely blank for this build. The only other option is Scion's Juggernaut or Guardian, and I went Guardian. Note that you run all your auras on Generosity, you don't get Guardian's +12% attack and cast speed. I had to run a level 1 Clarity to get the bonus. A scion can get 12 skelemages by about level 70 because of her extra skill points.

3. 86 Witch in Ascendancy. This is the strongest choice. In fact, all summoners have to be Witches for Necromancer if you want to max minion damage. You get 45% from minor Ascendancy nodes, which is your strongest DPS source!

We get Mistress of Sacrifice so that our Offerings affect us and the skill duration is very strong, too, helping Skeletons, SRS, and various other things like curses and Vaal Haste. We can run a Bone Offering on our Cast When Damage Taken setup to give us more block when we need it (I have also tried using Desecrate there but it seems to lag and not work - the corpses arrive too late to be immediately used by Bone Offering. So I just use Cast When Damage Taken level 1 + Bone Offering + Immortal Call + Convocation).

From there you can choose Ascendancy passives to your liking that fit the rest of your build, whether it includes Zombies, Spectres, both, neither, Animate Weapon, Minion Instability, etc. The strongest I've found are the % mitigation per Zombie (witches easily die to big or rapid physical damage) and the +100% to Spectre life and damage (my spectres have NEVER died to damage after choosing this).

Dead Reckoning

This build is centered around the Dead Reckoning unique Cobalt Jewel, specifically 4 of them (which is the max the passive tree can reasonably support).

Passive Tree for 4 Dead Reckoning and +6 max skeleton limit!

Dead Reckoning always grants +7-10% to minion elemental resistances. I have always been able to trade for 10% for 1 chaos or 1 alchemy, so it's a very cheap item. In fact, I have also tried to corrupt them for a useful corruption like +1-3% Chaos resistance.

Dead Reckoning is a threshold jewel. The special Skeleton Mage bonus won't work unless it is socketed into certain places on the passive skill tree with 40 intelligence within its radius (that is, near Witch, Templar, or the northern Scion slots).

Dead Reckoning modifies how the Summon Skeletons active skill gem works. Normally, Summon Skeletons summons 1 skeleton warrior per cast, up to your max skeleton limit. Skeleton limit is usually 5 from a Summon Skeletons gem, plus whatever you get on your passives and gear. Ways to increase your skeleton limit include:
- +1 from Queen's Decree
- +1 from Oberon's Warpath
- +1 from Midnight Bargain
- +1 from Catarina prefix master craft on a rare chest - if you have an empty prefix on your chest you can get fancy with this craft that most players don't even know exists. Note that prefixes are extremely powerful on a chest so you're very lucky if you have a usable that still is missing a prefix for Catarina to use.

Skeleton warriors don't require a corpse - simply cast them at a target point spending mana. They are less tanky than a zombie but more tanky than a raging spirit. Skeletons only last 20 seconds, modified by skill effect durations. They walk reeeeallly slow toward enemies hoping to melee attack them so you want to summon Skeletons close to targets.

Skeleton Mages are different than Skeletons Warriors. They still last 20 seconds, still walk slow, but instead of a melee attack, mages "cast" a projectile spell, a single floating ball of elemental energy, modifiable by cast speed supports and projectile supports. Each mage is randomly Fire, Cold, or Lightning (a reference to Diablo 2) so you can't rely on having all or even one of certain element, but you CAN rely on having a mix of all 3.

A popular trick is Spell Totem + Summon Skeletons + (Blind or something) which creates a totem that continuously summons skeletons. However, Spell Totem can't use Spell Echo, and the spell totem keeps summoning past the skeleton limit, so it starts despawning skeletons that might be already attacking, which is somewhat inefficient.

Self-casting Skeleton Mages can use Spell Echo, which summons 4 skeletons each cast at a target point on the ground. Spell Echo also gives the Skeleton Mages more cast speed, making Spell Echo the best support for mages, so we should always assume we are self-casting our skeletons and never using a spell totem.

I personally bind Summon Skeletons to my left click - I move freely by left-clicking as if it were Move Only, but holding shift + left click will summon skeletons at my cursor. You can alternatively do this with a Golem. Summoners often use every active slot on the hotbar so this lets you squeeze in an extra active skill.

You need 4 Dead Reckoning to get the required 12 skelemages (3 per jewel). You can slot them in one at a time as you reach the 50 INT thresholds in the passive tree. My preferred socket order is:
1st - Witch north
2nd - Near Elemental Equilibrium
3rd - Templar west
4th - Near Conduit

Tip: You can tell hover over the socketed Dead Reckoning jewel and it will say "Can summon up to 3 additional Skeleton Mages" if you've met the 40 INT threshold. If you haven't, it'll just say "+8-10% to minion elemental resistances".

Note: If you summon past your max count of skeleton mages, you get warriors. EVEN IF you have 12/12 mages, summoning more replaces 2 mages with 2 warriors, but then you start summoning mages again. GGG_Nick says this buggy behavior is the only way they got the skill to work at all. It's not a big deal, so don't be alarmed if you see a couple warriors in your army.

The end goal is to have 12 skelemages in a 5 or 6 link or in a +2 minion helmet.


Summon Skeletons - the main skill, being augmented by Dead Reckonings.
+ Spell Echo - deploys 4 skeletons per cast instead of 2, and double dips by making mages shoot faster
+ Minion Damage - the biggest "more" multiplier and best link
+ Faster Casting / Faster Attacks / Minion Speed - use Faster Attacks if you have mostly warriors, Faster Casting if mostly mages, or Minion Speed for a mix of both.
+ Pierce - now has a "more" multiplier and helps clear speed
+ Greater Multiple Projectiles / Lesser Multiple Projectiles - I have found GMP better
+ Elemental Focus - big "more" multiplier but no longer chill/shock/ignite. Mages can crit but it's a relatively low chance.
+ Slower Projectiles - Very pretty, big damage, but often missed monsters. OK for big bosses.
+ Faster Projectiles - Good at delivering the payload quicker
+ Empower - level 2 or higher raises the level of Summon Skeletons, making them stronger.
+ Less Duration - A red gem that gives more damage, only use if you are short on Chromatics. Your skeletons lose duration to maybe 15 seconds, which is still usable.


I setup my summoner where my resistances are capped and my auras work even with my main hand, offhand, and chest slot empty. From there I tried various weapons and chest slots.

In general, summoners need tons of gem slots! That means you'll make frequent use of Jeweler's Orbs, Orbs of Fusing, and Chromatics because the raw number of workable sockets is more important the stats that rolled on the gear. The reason: there is only one minion bonus stat to roll on rare equipment (+1 or +2 to minion gems on your helm)! You can only make your minions better with links, auras, passives, and jewels, and maybe some unique summoner-themed unique gear.


You can complement your skelemages with your weapon slots:

- Femurs of the Saints rewards your skeletons if you also have zombies and specters. I run the mages in the femurs and Zombies + Spectre + Minion Damage + Minion Speed in my helm and don't care much which Spectre I use. This is the strongest choice from my testing, and synergizes with Vaal Summon Skeletons for boss fights. You can't Convocation the Vaal Skeles, so only use it when you need it, and use Vaal Haste between bosses or lock boxes.
- Sire of Shards makes skelemages fire in a pretty nova. You mostly summon skeletons in the middle of things, which sometimes isn't the best since skelemages try to run away.
- Montregul's Grasp + high ES shield was how I went low life for more auras. You get 4 big impressive zombies and 12 mages.
- Queen's Decree is very fun because you can keep Vaal Summon Skeletons up almost forever with +200% skeleton duration. The sword itself is hard to get blue sockets on so I recommend using utility and mobility skills in the sword (Rallying Cry, Leap Slam + Faster Attacks + Fortify, Cast When Damage Taken + Immortal Call + Increased Duration, etc) and putting your blue sockets in your chest for summon skills.

-Clayshaper and Victario's Charity (with Necromancer Aegis) - This gives charges to your minions from the Charity, but the Clayshaper doesn't help Skeleton mages because it gives "attack" bonuses. This setup did poorly in rare Canyons compared to Femurs of the Saints - but the charge generation of Charity + Aegis is potentially strong.


There are not many defensive options because we are likely a Witch getting the energy shield nodes from Witch start.
1. Life-based - Grab lots of life nodes, the Scion life wheel, and lots of +life on gear. Chest is Belly of the Beast or Lightning Coil or a well-rolled rare with +119 to maximum life. End up with 4k-5k life pool in maps.
2. Hybrid life + energy shield - This is my favorite choice. Find energy shield gear with +life, the +%life/+%es on the tree, and a big life + big ES chest and you have more than 7k hit point pool while still using life flasks.
3. Shavronne's Wrappings low life - For rich people. I don't have one of these but my forum post research indicates it's a VERY strong aura build for Skelemancers (just normal skeletons). They say skeletons are ok early, strong early in maps, then get weak in yellow maps, but if you get level 21 gems and empower and 6links and Shav's and all that rich stuff, they become VERY strong again with all your auras up. I will try this build at some point in Standard when I'm rich enough.
4. Chaos Innoculation - Another rich man's choice. You lose many perks such as the life-gained-on-block from Bone Offering and the big heal from your Catalysed Eternal Life Flask of Animation that keeps your army alive. Perhaps a new Offering skill makes this better with Mistress of Sacrifice. I have not tried this and don't recommend it - I think CI is more for builds that can leech with Vaal Pact and Ghost Reaver.


All of my summoners use the following:
1. Seething Divine Life Flask of Staunching - An instant-heal flask for when you're running away from danger. It also rewards being a life-based summoner rather than Chaos Inoculation.
2. Catalysed Eternal Life Flask of Animation (60%) - This fast, big heal for both you and your army is better than a Vitality Aura IMO. I think Belly of the Beast makes it heal your army more, as well.
3. Utility Flask of Warding - Need to dispel those curses for a long duration.

You might have to run a mana flask if you are SRS or Animate Weapon that has huge mana requirements.


- Normal Oak (if life-based) for +40 life, otherwise Kill All
- Cruel Kill all for skill point. You can go cast speed if you are SRS.
- Merciless Kill All for skill point (we don't use charges).
Last edited by NorrYtt on Aug 13, 2017, 8:19:22 PM
Last bumped on May 15, 2017, 9:22:55 PM
Would this build work with dual Clayshapers, do you think?
builds: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1663570/
Would this build work with dual Clayshapers, do you think?

I have one Clayshaper, I will get another and try it out.

Clayshaper says it adds physical damage to minion ATTACKS, but skelemages cast spells, they don't attack. The big +30% minion life makes me think Clayshaper is more for minion instability or the ascendancy that spreads chaos on death.
With those zombie/spectre in the video, it's kinda hard to see what work the skele mages are putting in.
do you have the same frame issues as i have with femurs? i had to remove vaal summon skeletons because my frames dropped to 0.5 or something for ~10-15sec.

it is sad because i really think femurs is the way to go with the huge attack / cast speed buffs through massive amounts of skeletons...

maybe i try to rework my skellimage build with a queen's escape after prophecy. it is a real shame that they won't fix femurs lags because who the fuck plays a skeleton build? :D
Skilez wrote:
do you have the same frame issues as i have with femurs? i had to remove vaal summon skeletons because my frames dropped to 0.5 or something for ~10-15sec.

it is sad because i really think femurs is the way to go with the huge attack / cast speed buffs through massive amounts of skeletons...

maybe i try to rework my skellimage build with a queen's escape after prophecy. it is a real shame that they won't fix femurs lags because who the fuck plays a skeleton build? :D
I played a summoner back in Tali, when Femurs came out. I had to stop using Vaal Skellies because of the lag issue, it is really sad, it worked alright if I only used a skeletotem though.
builds: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1663570/
Yes, the lag is very high with Vaal skeles. With Femurs of the Saints, I believe the game engine is recalculating each minion's base stats very time one is summoned or destroyed, which is where the lag is (in addition to just raw number of minions/ai/attacks).

I've found in previous leagues that Queen's Decree (better now as Queen's Escape) is much better with Vaal Skeles because you get minutes-long uptime without the lag, and you can keep the Vaal gem up perpetually instead of just boss fights. You can't convocation the skeles but you kind of don't have to, unless you're trying to clear very fast.

I use Animate Guardian instead.
Call me retarded, but I'm only seeing 3 jewel nodes for dead reckoning on your tree.
Ghoulz666 wrote:
Call me retarded, but I'm only seeing 3 jewel nodes for dead reckoning on your tree.

I use four. However, in 3.0 Fall of Oriath, Chris Wilson mentioned that skeletons will max at around 15 and Dead Reckoning will convert 5 warriors to mages, so 3 is likely the right number. This makes going Chaos Inoculation more tenable because the other two jewels can be Energy from Within (witch north and between witch and shadow).

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