[3.0] Dark Pact Berserker - Farm All The Content!

Dark pact is a chaos spell that removes yours or your skeleton's health for additional damage. This build focuses on building your own life pool and scaling it with spell damage. The build has some good clearspeed and is capable of clearing any content without too much gear investment.

I'd like to make this guide as detailed as I can so this will be a work in progress. I will update my pastebin from my current character if I make any significant changes.

Pros & Cons

  • Run any map mod except cannot leech.
  • Decent clearspeed.
  • Great leech with VP and Berserker nodes.
  • Decent Hp Pool.
  • Clear any and all content.
  • League starter capable.

  • No life regen with VP can be scary sometimes.
  • Can struggle progressing to higher tier maps without uber lab.
  • Lack of good unique flasks.
  • Less scaling options than phys or ele (but also need less).
  • If your party clears mobs before you can cast, you can end up low life easily.


This build can be started with very little investment. The recommended weapon, Rippling Thoughts, starts at 20c and Kaom's Roots start at 1c. Everything else can be crafted. In fact, almost all my current gear was essence crafted while leveling.
My Gear

Gear Breakdown

I have tried a number of different weapons and for me, Rippling Thoughts is the best option. It has high Spell Damage, Inc AoE, and 50% uptime on Arcane Surge. It also create a cool blue effect when you use a movement skill.

Other options include Doon Cuebiyari and Breath of the Council.

Shields are actually one of the highest scaling items you can get for this build. Any Int or Int hyrbid shield can roll spell damage, life, life hybdrid, and cast speed. If you are just starting it is probably cheapest to get a Harmonic Spirit Shield with life, spell damage, and some resists. Best in slot would be an Archon Kite Shield: +150 Life, +80% Spell Damage, +13% Cast Speed, Resists / Strength.

There are three unique choices for you chest piece. If you can't afford one of these or a 6 link I recommend finding a white item with 4b1g on poe.trade and using a few Essence of Greed on it until you are happy. My first shaper kill was done with this.

Skin of the Loyal is the cheapest option and has around the same damage as a Cherrubim's at the cost of around 350 life. I'd recommend this as an option if you are starting later in the league.

Carcass jack is the best option if you are simply clearing zones as it has 20% inc AOE. It is much easier to get 5b1g with Carcass than Cherrubim's. It also has Inc AoE and all resist which are nice. However, you don't get any benefit from it's evasion since we are using Kaom's Roots.

Cherrubim's Maleficence is the top end choice but be prepared to use all your chromatics, and then some. A 6 link Cherrubim's is about 100c cheaper than a carcass jack, which is the average price in chromes you'd have to spend to get 4b1r1g. Unfortunately it would take, on average, 12,000 chromatics to get 5b1g on this piece. Since it is so hard to get 5b, we replace Added Chaos Damage for Empower to roughly break even.

Best in slot would be a 5b1g Cherrubim's Maleficence but not by much.

Try getting a high armor helmet with 40% Increased Dark Pact Damage enchant. If this costs too much you can usually get a 25% for 10c or try running Eternal Labyrinths yourself. Using Essence of Greed until you have a resistance or two is probably the best course if you are just starting.

Attack speed is nice to have in addition to the standard Life and resists. Deafening Essence of Greed can give you a higher Life roll but is quite expensive.

Kaom's Roots are pretty much best in slot. 200+ life with immunity to stuns, chill, and temporal chains. It's best to buy a pair with a corruption you want. +1 Frenzy Charges, and 4% Chance to Dodge are both good choices. Added chaos damage when crit is really the only good enchant.

Envy crafted rings are what you are looking for here. Life, Resist, Strength, and cast speed are all good as well. Unlike armor there are no hybrid life rolls or greed craft. To use level 20 Haste and Temporal chains you need around 30 extra Dex, rings are a good place to pick that up.

Envy craft are best in slot but not necessary. Rolls are pretty much the same as rings with the addition of Inc Spell Damage as an option.

Not much to say about belts. Life, resists, and flask duration.

There aren't very many unique flasks to use as a chaos spell damage user. Atziri's Promise can be very useful for early-late maps but eventually you won't need the extra leech and it can be replaced. If you are using shield charge, a good Quicksilver Flask is a must. Rummi's Concoction is a good choice. If you are just going for clearspeed Dying Sun 's extra AoE could be helpful.
Other than that, try getting your bleed, shock, curse, and poison immune flasks.


Jewels can be a huge boost for this build and there are five sockets for 2 passives on this tree. Any time you can afford a 3 mod jewel it is worth putting into the tree.

The jewel you buy should have % increased Maximum Life and at least 2 of the following modifiers, being careful not to stack too much cast speed before you are ready.

  • Life
  • Damage
  • Chaos Damage
  • Area Damage
  • Spell Damage
  • Spell Damage while holding a shield
  • Cast Speed
  • Cast/Attack Speed
  • Cast Speed while holding a shield


Kaom's Roots are best in slot for boots. I chose Rippling Thoughts for a weapon, however there are other options. Cherrubim's Maleficence is slightly better than Skin of the Loyal or Carcass Jack but iis much harder to socket. Most rare gear can be crafted using Essence of Greed. Rings and amulets can be crafting with Essence of Envy for increased chaos damage. Level with Atziri's Promise until you no longer need the additional life leech.


Using Kaom's Root loses us a 4 link so I've tried to find the best combination of gems. Wither totem is mandatory if you want to do bosses at all.I'm still looking for the optimal setup but this is what I have so far.
Gem Breakdown

6L Dark Pact: 5B1G / 4B1G1R
Dark Pact, Spell Echo, Controlled Destruction, Void Manipulation, (Concentrated Effect / Increased AoE), (Added Chaos Damage / Empower)

Listed in order of importance, remove as needed for the amount of links you have. If you can't get 5b1g you can use Empower over Added Chaos Damage.

4L Wither Totem: 2B2R
Wither, Spell Totem, Faster Casting, Increased Duration

Wither totem is very important for bosses. Try and keep it up as much as possible.

3L Movement: 2G1R / 2R1G
(Shield Charge / Whirling Blades), Faster Attacks, (Leap Slam / Fortify)

Using Shield charge will be faster with a Quicksilver Flask, but you gain an additional flask with Whirling Blades. I always like having a gap clearing ability so I use Leap Slam. If you don't care about that you can use Fortif

4L CWDT 3R1B / 4R / 2R2B
Cast When Damage Taken, Immortal Call, (Summon Flame Golem / Summon Lightning Golem), (Vaal Lightning Trap / Increased Duration)

I use Vaal Lightning Trap for bosses but if you are just clearing you could change it to Increased Duration. Flame Golem is probably better early on and Lighning Golem is better for later, once you can leech through the faster casting.

3L Auras 2G1B
Haste, Blasphemy, (Temporal Chains / Poacher's Mark)

Being a chaos spell there arent a lot of auras and curses that help us. Poacher's mark gives us frenzy charges and flask uptime and is used for clearing maps up to guardians. I use Temporal Chains for shaper because it shares a colour with Poacher's Mark. You could also use Enfeeble here but it would require a blue socket.


This build focuses on scaling via your life pool and increased chaos/spell damage which it leeches back from VP. One thing to note is that because you are taking 6% of your lifepool per cast, you need to keep up the amount you are leeching. If you find yourself not able to leech through casting you should switch from investing in life nodes and into more chaos/spell damage nodes.
Overall, you will get the most DPS from cast speed but it gets harder to sustain the faster you cast. Spell/Chaos damage will make leeching easier and provide more overall damage than life. Life gets you more survivablilty and increases your damage further the higher Increased Spell Damage you have.
Jewel sockets are some of the best nodes for this build, providing 7% Max Life and up to ~30% Increased damage for 2 passives each. I've tried to path near and pick up as many as I could. Pick up a jewel socket as often as you can afford a 3+ mod jewel.



I would recommend leveling with 2h Sunder until you can use Dark Pact and possibly holding off until you have completed your labyrinth. I personally leveled with Sunder until it didn't perform as well without passive investment, which was around level 50.

Try and find either a +1 Chaos Skills, Spell Damage wand/dagger or a 4 link 3b1g or 4b while you are leveling with sunder. Support Dark Pact with Void Manipulation or Controlled Destruction, Spell Echo, and Concentrated Effect / Increased AOE.

Warlord's Mark is highly recommended until you are able to sustain yourself without it. Using Abyssal Cry and Enduring Cry can help alot, espescially if you are playing in a party.

Passive Tree

The passive tree is pretty simple while leveling. Go north through the tree towards the witch zone. After Retribution head further into the witch zone and over toward Written In Blood and Atrophy, picking up Quick Recovery along the way. If you are using Dark Pact and feel like you are struggling a bit you can pick up the Witch Spell Damage Cluster now if you wanted. I saved it for later.

After Grabbing Atrophy head south and over towards Vaal Pact. Fill out any Chaos Damage and Life Clusters in the area. Next I would grab Blast Radius and make my way over to the Scion Life Cluster and fill it out. Finish by grabbing Cruel Preparation, Amplify, and Light of Divinity.

Any time you have money to buy a 7% life, +2 damage mod Jewel it will be worth spending 2 points to pick up a jewel socket. There are 4 jewel socket for 2 passive points and 1 for a single point. Don't underestimate how strong jewel sockets can be for this build.

This build uses the Berserker Ascendancy. Berserker has great Increased Attack Speed and Life Leech nodes, as well as a massive 40% More Damage. While leveling I think it is worth it to pick War Bringer either first or second, and spec out after Eternal Lab. War Bringer allows you to heal for 25% of your substantial life pool every 2 seconds. In combination with Warlord's Mark it trivializes much of the leveling process and Labyrinths. Pain Reaver should be picked up after War Bringer if you went that route.

War Bringer
Pain Reaver
Cloaked In Savagery

Try to complete Eternal Lab ASAP, it isn't too difficult. Once you have it completed you can remove War Bringer and spec into Aspect of Carnage.
Pain Reaver
Cloaked in Savagery
Crave the Slaughter
Aspect of Carnage


Kill them all! Two passive points is an extra jewel socket, which is more valuable than any of the current bandit rewards.


How do I sustain my life on single target?

Having too high of a life pool with too little spell damage can make it hard to leech enough on a single target. Try adding more Spell/Chaos Damage nodes in the passive tree or getting some from shield/jewelery. Using Atziri's Promise can help while mapping and using a warcry with War Bringer ascendancy can help while lower levels.

How am I running out of mana?

Mana is not leeched instantly like life with VP. Each hit leeches a certain amount per second based on your maximum mana. With too much cast speed you can end up running out of mana before you have enough leech to cover your next spell . Once you reach mana leech cap you will be able to constantly cast. You could use a Writhing Jar for additional leech targets or try and get more damage instead of cast speed.

Spell Damage or Cast Speed?

Overall, Cast Speed will be a bigger dps increase but comes with some issues. First, you will be casting more frequently and thus taking away your life quicker. If you are unable to do enough damage to leech your life from a single target you will start to lose life against bosses or not be able to heal from their attacks without Cloaked in Savagery procs. The second problem is that at a certain point, you wont be able to reach your mana leech cap faster than you run out of mana. This can lead to deaths because you arent able to leech life for a second, or longer, with no regen maps. Writhing Jar is a good way to get that mana leech started.

I would recommend not going crazy on cast speed until you have enough damage to leech through it safely. Also, be aware that when starting a single target fight you will run out of mana until you reach you 200 mana/second leech rate.

Why not Apep or Pledge?

Simple reason is they can't use a decent movement skill. I just can't stand walking around.

Change Log:


Added Jewel options to gear section.
Added Lightning Golem and Vaal Lightning Trap to gem options.
Explained cast speed vs spell damage.
Last edited by crustless on Aug 23, 2017, 11:35:20 AM
Last bumped on Dec 9, 2017, 5:09:02 AM
how much dps do u have against shaper
I'm curious if the rippling thoughts sword give you more dps than Apeps?

Tell me the names of the stones, and their number, I'm not very English.
In the tree of skills, and even better pictures))
may i know what pantheon are you using? whats the best in slot?
I play with a couple of friends mainly. One thing I am having issues with is, I sometimes have a problem sustaining health when on single target... Its like, I engage, haven't been hit and am doing fine, then all of sudden its like I am losing my leech. If the mob hits me then yea, im back to instant leech.

Was wondering if its due to having people in the group, but most of the time I am fine even if I dont receive a savage hit, but then other times im not.

I think im going to transition over to this build. It looks like you are picking up more dps, rather than scaling from strength like am with Doon & Repentance.

Anyone else play DP with other people in the group?
Played 2h-pact, played crit-pact and now tries this and its so smooth and nice. I LOVE YOU!
Sorry I haven't been on the last couple of days. I'll answer some questions now I'm home.
Tobinator wrote:
how much dps do u have against shaper

I don't use PoB that much but if I'm doing it correctly it shows me doing 620k dps with flasks and buffs active.

may i know what pantheon are you using? whats the best in slot?

Honestly I barely think about the pantheon system. I don't think any are amazing really. Currently I'm using Tukohama and Solaris.

chaoticwon wrote:
I play with a couple of friends mainly. One thing I am having issues with is, I sometimes have a problem sustaining health when on single target... Its like, I engage, haven't been hit and am doing fine, then all of sudden its like I am losing my leech. If the mob hits me then yea, im back to instant leech.

Was wondering if its due to having people in the group, but most of the time I am fine even if I dont receive a savage hit, but then other times im not.

I think im going to transition over to this build. It looks like you are picking up more dps, rather than scaling from strength like am with Doon & Repentance.

Anyone else play DP with other people in the group?

This can be a problem for any dark pact build until you have enough gear. A lot of bosses have increased chaos resistance and it causes you to not leech enough if you don't have flasks/buffs up. Having Concentrated Effect for bosses helps. Try to keep wither totem up. You could also use a warcry to taunt those savage hits.

Hey! i want to know if is better Rippling thoughts than Apep's rage, i got more cast speed and dmg, or is my first impression, did u try it? nice guide!

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