[3.4] Soul Mantle Dark Pact Totems - League Starter - All Content


This used to be a Scion build for 3.0 and 3.1 that was a well-known leaguestarter.
While the original build didn't get any worse, Hierophant got a huge buff, which makes him the better choice now in my opinion.

Some people wanted to see a Hierophant version, so I made an update.

I've revisited this build in the Flashback race, sucessfully reached level 95 without partying and killed all of the game's bosses.

1. Build Concept
This build revolves around the unique item Soul Mantle.

It is one of the strongest uniques in the game, as it allows us to get a free 7-link and an extra totem. It also increases our totem life by 50%, which is essentially a level 17 Added Chaos Damage Support for Dark Pact.

That power comes with a massive drawback - we receive a random curse everytime one of our totems dies or expires. We can counter this in two ways*:

Two of these will give us 80% reduced effect of curses, which makes it possible to endure them.


Makes us unaffected by curses, although it's extremely expensive right now (costs multiple mirrors).

As a consequence, we can also take advantage of the jewel Self-Flagellation:

*You can also use a Flask with the Warding mod (preferably Stibnite), but that makes you lose the bonus from Self-Flagellation because it removes the curses.
It's also not the most beginner friendly way because it requires you to keep an eye on your flasks.

2. Pros and Cons
+Very high single target damage
+Active playstyle (for a totem build)
+Cheap to get started
+Can do every content except Hall of Grandmasters - every map mod
+High EHP and regen
+Good clearspeed in linear/indoor maps
+(Nearly) Curse-immune
+Good boss killer up until Shaper/Uber Atziri

-Not optimal for open map layouts
-Mediocre damage until you get your Soul Mantle
-Can die to burst damage when Immortal Call or defensive flasks aren't ready
-Poor performance vs Uber Elder
-Dealing maximum damage requires standing still
-Can't use totem MTX on Soul Mantle

3. Budget Leveling Guide
Important Items
The following items are used in the guide:

2x Axiom Perpetuum (level 10)
Nycta's Lantern (level 41)

If you can't afford them yet, get them ASAP, they are cheap and will greatly increase your damage while leveling. They are not required.

I also recommend getting a Goldrim if you can afford it.
We'll want to use rare items in our Ring, Amulet, Boots, Gloves, Helmet, Belt and Body Armour slots until level 49.

Stats: Try to get Movement Speed on boots and Life/Resistances on other Gear.

As for flasks I recommend aiming for the following:
-2x the strongest life flasks you can get, preferably one instant flask.
-1-2 quicksilver flasks.
-For Hardcore: a granite flask (of Ironskin).
Leveling Skill Trees:
38 Points
63 Points
Prioritize Ancestral Bond and Mind over Matter, get other passives as you need them.

We'll be leveling with Firestorm until level 49 (Soul Mantle) because Dark Pact isn't a great spell to use until then.
Act 1
Kick Hillock's ass, then buy Freezing Pulse from Nessa and use it as your main skill.

Pick a Quicksilver Flask as reward for "Mercy Mission", then buy Arcane Surge from Nessa and link it to your Freezing Pulse.
Don't level your Arcane Surge higher than 6.
After you enter the Prison, get Added Lightning Damage as a reward and add it to your Freezing Pulse.
Get a Flame Dash as reward for killing Brutus and equip it.

At level 10, equip your Axiom Perpetuums.
After entering the Cavern of Wrath, get Firestorm as quest reward and use it instead of Freezing Pulse.
Also buy another Firestorm, Spell Totem and Added Lightning Damage from Nessa and link them together.

Your Gems should look like this:
Firestorm - Arcane Surge - Added Lightning Damage
Spell Totem - Firestorm - Added Lightning Damage
Act 2
During the Quest "Deal with the Bandits", help Alira.

After "The Root of the Problem", buy 2x Elemental Focus and 1x Controlled Destruction from Yeena and replace your Added Lightning Damage/Arcane Surge with them like this (keep Arcane Surge for now):

Firestorm - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus
Spell Totem - Firestorm - Elemental Focus
Act 3
After "Lost in Love", buy Flammability from Clarissa.
Link: Flammability - Arcane Surge.
Use this against tougher enemies if you need damage.

If you have a 4-link, add these gems to it (Vendor: Yeena in Act 2):
Firestorm - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus - (Faster Casting)
Spell Totem - Firestorm - Elemental Focus - (Controlled Destruction)

Don't go into the Labyrinth yet.
Act 4
This act is going to be a bit tough so I suggest being overleveled, especially in HC (Your damage scales with your gem level right now).

If you have the Ancestral Bond keystone in your passive tree, you can throw away the self-cast Firestorm gems.

After you defeat Malachai, buy Cast when Damage Taken,
Summon Lightning Golem and Immortal Call and link them together.

Complete the Labyrinth and choose Hierophant, then Pursuit of Faith.
Acts 5+
At level 41, replace one of your Axioms with Nycta's Lantern and put your Firestorm in it:
Firestorm - Spell Totem - Elemental Focus

Once you reach level 49, buy a Soul Mantle, two Kikazarus, a Self-Flagellation, Added Chaos Damage, Clear Mind and follow the build guide (ignore everything from the leveling section).

If you can't afford the rings/chest yet I suggest replacing the last Axiom with an Aurumvorax and sticking to Firestorm until then.

Use your respec points to adjust your Skill Tree to the one below:

4. Skill Tree and Path of Building link
Skill Tree:
47 Points
61 Points
81 Points
Level 82

Level 94
Level 93 Alternative (More Placement Speed and Resists, Less Damage and Life)

There are other ways to do the tree, based on personal preference. For example, you can get Power Charges but they won't be worth it unless you use an item like Void Battery or Shimmeron.
In general, you're fine as long as you stick close to the pathing.

PoB Link:

5. Ascendancy

Normal Lab: Pursuit of Faith
Cruel Lab: Ritual of Awakening
Merc Lab: Divine Guidance

Eternal Lab: You actually have 3 choices here:
1) Sanctuary of Thought will give you ~1.5k ES (a LOT!) and more mana. This is the best defensive Node by far.
2) Recommended. Conviction of Power offers a mix between offense and defense and is also required if you want to use Power Charges (i.e. with Void Battery).
3) Illuminated Devotion adds decent damage and minor totem survivability (leech). The extra AoE makes this the best for clearspeed.

6. Bandits & Pantheon
Help Alira for crit multiplier, mana regeneration and resistances.

Major God: Soul of the Brine King for stun protection.

Minor God: I prefer Soul of Ryslatha for emergency healing and Flask recharge in the Labyrinth, but there are a lot of good other options.

7. Gem Links
4/5/6 Link
Dark Pact - Void Manipulation - Added Chaos Damage - Controlled Destruction - Increased AoE/Con. Effect - Increased Critical Strikes

Our damage skill, Gems are in order of importance.
AoE can be exchanged for Conc. Effect for single target DPS.
Aim for level 21 Dark Pact and otherwise 20/20 gems.

4 Link
Wither - Faster Casting - Increased Duration - X

Wither should be used mostly against bosses. It nearly doubles your damage but also takes a bit to ramp up.
The 4th link should either be Arcane Surge or Increased Area of Effect.
You can also link it to Spell Totem if standing still feels too dangerous for you.
With Skeletons
Wither - Cast While Channeling - Summon Skeleton - Increased Duration

There are several pros and cons to using skeletons, I recommend you to try them for yourself and see if they fit your playstyle or not.
This is the best setup for pure damage, but also requires a bit of investment to be good.

Early on, self-casting totems will be better because they start out with more life (=damage).
As you level your Skeleton gem, it will begin to outscale the totems. They also benefit more from Added Chaos Damage (like Apep's Rage or the Support Gem).

If you want to min-max this setup for endgame, you should put this into an Elder Helmet with Minion Life and/or +# to level of socketed Minion gems.

4 Link
Arcane Surge - Increased Duration - X - X

The main purpose of this setup is to grant you more damage and cast speed by linking Arcane Surge to a utility skill.
For that you can either choose
-an instant skill, like Phase Run or Molten Shell, and link it to Efficacy for a little bit of extra duration.
-a non-instant skill, like Flame Dash or Despair, and link it to Faster Casting.

3 Link
Shield Charge - Faster Attacks - Fortify

Mobility and damage reduction on a movement skill. Shield Charge scales with both attack and movement speed. You can also use Whirling Blades if you prefer it.
Alternative Option (Wands)
Lightning Warp - Less Duration - Swift Affliction

It's worse than Shield Charge, but there's really nothing else you can use on wands.

4 Link
Cast When Damage Taken (Level 1) - Immortal Call (Level 3) - Enfeeble (Level 5) - Increased Duration

A defensive setup that protects us from burst damage against trash mobs. CWDT is on level 1 to proc as often as possible since these skills don't benefit that much from levels.
Temporal Chains is an alternative to Enfeeble.
You can also try out Phase Run in this setup.

3 Link
Cast When Damage Taken (Level 20) - Summon Lightning Golem (Level 20), unlinked Flame Dash

The Golem provides a bit of DPS/mobility and CWDT ensures it is always active. (Stone Golem is also an option)
This is the least important setup, in case you want to replace something.
Flame Dash helps you to get over obstacles such as ledges. It can also be used for dodging, in which case you might want to link it to Faster Casting.

8. Gear
Priorities when looking for gear:

1. Get the mandatory flasks and unique items.

2. Get basic gear using mostly rare items:
Overcap your elemental resistances (+90% total). This is to deal with elemental curses.
• Try to get a good (at least 40) life or mana roll on every item that can have one.
Ideally your mana should be around 2/3 of your life (You can adjust the skill tree to get there).
• Get a spell dagger/unique weapon that fits your budget.

3. Once you can afford better gear, start replacing excess resistances for other things, like damage (shield/amulet/enchants), mobility (insanity gloves) or HP (life/mana).
You can also try out some optional uniques.

Mandatory Uniques

Highly recommended:


A spell dagger and spirit shield for tankiness/mobility.
Getting attack speed on the dagger makes your movement skill a lot faster.

Stats (Dagger): Attack speed, spell damage, crit chance, crit multiplier, mana
Stats (Shield): Life, mana, spell damage, crit chance, cast speed, resists

I also recommend getting two Apep's Rage in your weapon swap, they offer insane DPS for their budget:

A rare amulet is the most versatile option here.

Stats: Life, mana, crit multiplier, cast speed, resists,
Also (weaker): spell damage, crit chance
Get rare boots.

The Labyrinth crit enchantment is not necessary, but relatively easy to get (7,4% chance in Uber Lab) and provides a large damage boost since we don't crit ourselves.
Alternatively you can also get a regen enchantment.

Stats: Movement speed, life, mana, resists
Belt, Gloves, Helmet

Dark pact damage, cast speed or lightning golem buff enchantments on the helmet can provide a decent power boost, but are hard to get.
Glove enchantments are not needed, but some corruptions can be useful (also hard to get).

The best belt base right now is a Stygian Vise, otherwise get a Leather Belt.
Fingerless Silk Gloves are the best glove base if you're not planning to get a corruption/enchantment.

You can also get Insanity crafted gloves to speed up your movement skill.

Stats: Life and resistances; mana on gloves and helmet

As a rule of thumb, 2 skill-point jewel passives are only worth taking if you have 3 useful mods on a jewel.

Stats (rare jewels):
• increased maximum life
• increased crit multiplier (with spells)
• increased (spell/area/chaos/totem) damage (while holding a shield)
• increased crit chance (with spells)
• increased cast (and attack) speed (while holding a shield)
• increased totem life
• elemental resistances

Stats (Abyss jewels):
• +# to maximum life
• +# to maximum mana
• increased crit chance if you haven't crit recently
• increased global crit multiplier
• increased global crit chance
• increased cast speed
• adds # chaos damage to spells (while holding a shield)
• elemental resistances

The stats are ordered in estimated importance and can vary from character to character.
Abyss/rare jewels are fairly equal in power, but Abyss jewels can be more defensive due to the flat mana roll.

Tip: Get one jewel with at least 9% totem elemental resistances to cap your totem's resists (75%), this can be helpful for endgame bossfights.
-Instant life flask to save your life
-Diamond flask for DPS
-Quicksilver Flask to go fast

Optional Choices:
-A second, longer healing life flask can be helpful with survival
-Rumi's Concoction will grant enough armour to deal with smaller attacks and boosts your block to ~50%
-Lavianga's Spirit enables you to do no-regen maps
-Silver flasks grant the second highest damage boost and will also speed you up
-A basalt flask is on average worse than Rumi's, but more reliable
-Witchfire Brew can apply a Despair curse-aura to increase your damage

Recommended Mods:
-Of staunching (to remove bleed)
-Of heat (to deal with freeze/chill)
-Do NOT get a warding flask. They will remove your curses which means you lose damage from Self-Flagellation.
Unique Options

Wands disable your melee movement skills, so you have to use Lightning Warp or Flame Dash instead.

Shimmeron does more damage than Apep's if you're using Power Charges, but also costs more.
•dual Void Batteries are the best DPS weapons you can get. They cost even more than Shimmeron and deal about the same damage, but they also have mana and don't hurt you when you accidentally hit an enemy.
Both of these wands require you to get Instability/Overcharge on the passive tree or they won't be good.
Eclipse Solaris is an extreme budget option.

Melee Weapons:

Divinarius has a really good price/damage ratio, but it lacks attack speed so it might feel slow
Brightbeak is the best option for mobility, but provides no damage bonus. It's also a good option for early mapping because it provides resistances. (I leveled up to 92 using this)


Trolltimber Spire can be used to gain about 1200/s leech in exchange for damage
Atziri's Reflection (currently extremely expensive) gives you 100% curse-immunity so you don't need to use Kikazaru. In my eyes this has two advantages:
1) You can build to be more tanky, but deal less damage.
2) You have more space for gear, which means you can get a lot of magic find.


Goldwyrm for item quantity


Coward's Legacy is great if you have Atziri's Reflection, as you can grab Pain Atunnement for 30% more damage. Without the shield it's garbage.


Bloodgrip is a good way to get more life recovery, as it doubles the healing from flasks
Bisco's Collar for item quantity


If you build around popular unique helmets (i.e. Starkonja's Head), you can get an enchantment for a low price.

Rat's Nest and Devoto's Devotion increase your mobility at the cost of life and resists
Starkonja's Head has a good life roll, but no resists and a bit less mobility
Indigon has really high potential, but requires you to completely build around it. I won't cover it for that reason (you might want to look at other guides for that).


If you plan on using cheap gloves, you can try to get a corruption on them.

Maligaro's Virtuosity and Voidbringer can increase your damage, but offer little else
Kalisa's Grace offers a decent life roll and DPS increase, the Faster Casting Support can be helpful for some gem setups (i. e. Flame Dash).
Sadima's Touch for item quantity

Full Example Gear

9. Uber Elder Tweaks
Unlike other bosses, Uber Elder requires some finetuning.

Unfortunately this fight does not favor the build very well. You won't be able to deal full damage most of the time because you'll be busy dodging.

What's even worse is that your totems can very easily die to ground effects if you don't deal with them. If you watch my videos, you can see that the fight became significantly harder once the arena got cluttered.

Because of that, your #1 priority is to keep the ground clean.
Do this by killing Madness Propagators as quickly as possible and exploding Shaper's Vortexes at the edge of the arena.

Obviously you also need to dodge all the attacks, though that's easier said than done. To increase your mobility I recommend two Silver/Quicksilver flasks of Adrenaline that you alternate between.

If you die, wait for your totems to expire and deal all of their damage. If Elder is doing an expanding nova, let it explode before resurrecting.

This fight won't be doable without practice, so prepare to spend a lot of Shaper sets.
If you want an easy build to kill Uber Elder I recommend RF Juggernaut.

Like on most other builds, Kaom's Roots are basically required to deal with the slow effects.
In any case, you also want to have enough EHP to survive oneshots from Shaper's balls.
Insanity gloves can make up for the mobility loss from Kaom's.

Dual Apep's Rage can also be a good option simply for the DPS they provide.
In that case you'd have to completely drop the Shield Charge and rely on Flame Dash and Quicksilver flasks.

Kaom's Roots don't have sockets, so you have to drop a 4-link.
I highly suggest removing the Wither setup here. It might sound stupid to give up that much damage, but you won't be able to cast it very often anyway.
You can also remove Despair instead, the most important thing is that you keep a source of Arcane Surge.

I haven't tried skeletons, but don't think they are good. They have a long ramp-up time and can die too easily.

Exchange your level 1 Immortal Call for a level 20 Immortal Call, preferably with quality.
In this fight, you need the Endurance Charges to mitigate damage (You can't generate them quickly enough for a reliable CWDT).
Also, if you're ever cornered by Shaper's slam or Elder's expanding nova, you can use IC to tank it (you can see me doing this in the videos). This does NOT work with Elder's Slam because it deals cold damage.

I'd also add Faster Casting to both Immortal Call and your Flame Dash.
To make place for this, replace your Lightning Golem. After watching my own videos I noticed it died way too often and Enfeeble is still a 4% damage reduction.

Use Concentrated Effect on your Dark Pact.

Brine King is useless due to Kaom's Roots.
I recommend Arakaali with Arachnoxia unlocked, it will increase your life regen everytime you walk over a DoT effect.

Your minor Pantheon should either be Ryslatha (life flasks) or Ralakesh (less ground effect damage).

Final Gear with Gems:
This setup also works well in the regular Elder fight, or as a tank variation in general.
(If you want to use this for mapping, I'd get a Basalt and Granite flask for physical damage mitigation, also Lunaris & Gruthkul Pantheons)

10. Videos
Video Guide by mbXtreme

Uber Elder
#3 (no sound, best run)

T13 Elder by fladsongomes (3.1 Scion)

T16 Shaper Guardians

T16 Maps/Elder Guardians
Chimera Map + Purifier
Minotaur Map + Eradicator
Underground Sea + Monstrous Treasure

11. FAQ
Is quality on Dark Pact worth getting?
Depends, if you want to add one extra radius unit to your DP you can save a skill point by getting a 20q gem, but it won't do anything if you use it with the normal skill tree.

Is Increased Critical Strikes really the best 6th link?
The best gems are Crit Strikes, Crit Damage or Faster Casting, depending on your character. Empower is not worth it unless you have a lv. 4 Empower in a +1 Soul Mantle.

How can I do no-regen maps?

Can I skill X in the passive tree?
Try it out or check PoB. Doom Cast and Totemic Zeal are both good nodes to take, but you'll have to give up something else.
Power Charges are only worth it if you use Conviction of Power and either Shimmeron or Void Battery.

Why are you using Controlled Destruction? Doesn't it make you unable to crit?
You can still crit with Controlled Destruction, it just reduces your chance by 6.9%. It's worth using because it gives us a really high damage multiplier.

How can I improve my character?
This build is cheap to get started, but has a high gear ceiling. The answer is usually:
•Correct gem setups (Wither/Arcane Surge is important)
•A high character level (more passive points)
•Quality and levels on your gems
•Good rares in your damage slots: amulet, weapon and shield
•Enchanted boots & helmet
•Good jewels - the best stat for maxed out characters is crit multiplier

Do I need chaos resistance?
No and no.

How good is Tukohama's Fortress?
While Tukohama's seems good at first glance, it has a lot of drawbacks that make it worse than a rare shield. You won't be able to use Arcane Surge and get 0 mana, which means you can't use MoM.

How can I get faster?
I recommend the following flasks for faster Shield Charge speed:
•(Alchemist's) Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline
•Silver Flask
If you feel like you place your totem too slow, you can get Totemic Zeal on the passive tree.

Can I play this in SSF?
The build is based around Soul Mantle, but easily works without it.
You can simply replace SM, Kikazarus and Self-Flagellation with any item you can find.

Can I play this in HC?
The Scion build was very popular in HC, this one should be good aswell.
However, Soul Mantle does take a toll because you're missing out on a defensive body armour.
For a more tanky version check out Orion72's guide.
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Last edited by SHEPUUURD on Oct 9, 2018, 9:38:06 AM
Last bumped on Oct 7, 2018, 12:38:03 PM
I like the outline of this build. I'm hoping to try it once I 5l or 6l my Soul Mantle.

Since I play HHC, a question- you path right next to MoM, why not take it? You can sacrifice the offensive aura of Haste for the 'defensive' aura of Clarity to still receive the aura bonus from ascendancy. A change I would consider for HC perhaps.
I really dont get why You take assassin For for 1.5% Crit... When you have Trickster for huge Regen and the 20% dmg /mana regen
Hyomin wrote:
I like the outline of this build. I'm hoping to try it once I 5l or 6l my Soul Mantle.

Since I play HHC, a question- you path right next to MoM, why not take it? You can sacrifice the offensive aura of Haste for the 'defensive' aura of Clarity to still receive the aura bonus from ascendancy. A change I would consider for HC perhaps.

Yup, the preferred way most people play this in HC is with MoM. You can expect to have around 2-2.5k Mana with that. Keep in mind that there are also life Nodes left to take if you want to ba a bit tankier.

The reason I don't use MoM in softcore is because it makes me unable to do no regen maps, as the only way to replenish my mana there is with a flask.

Completed 8 ChallengesEsurah wrote:
I really dont get why You take assassin For for 1.5% Crit... When you have Trickster for huge Regen and the 20% dmg /mana regen

The thing is, the Assassin's crit is mupltiplicative with you increased crit chance, so you don't get 1,5% but rather 15% crit chance which is also around 15% more Damage.

The Trickster's 20% increased damage on the other hand is about "3% more damage" in the end because it doesn't scale multiplicative with our other damage increases.

Then there is the problem that YOU need to kill the enemies for the increased recovery rate, not your Totems. Since we deal no damage and have no DoTs this is impossible to do.

The Mana Regen boosts our reg from 70 to 100-ish, which is not worth losing 15% damage even if you'd be using MoM.
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Last edited by SHEPUUURD on Sep 6, 2017, 12:52:08 PM
any tips for leveling? how to start? and when to switch?
nubcake0119 wrote:
any tips for leveling? how to start? and when to switch?

I added a leveling guide.
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This is currently obliterating nearly anything I've put it against so far, uber lab was super easy, and I've been running maps that are supposed to be way higher than my level thanks mostly to the safety of totems

I leveled as contagion/essence drain with a +1 tabula until I could use dark pact and it was a breeze lol
I need a few upgrades here and there, but so far this is a great build

Thanks for the build, leveling it now to give it a try. Quick question though, why is controlled destruction in the final gem links setup when there's so much crit in the tree? Is there an interaction with totems or something that I am missing?
I don't speak with knowledge like some streamer or something but I think since it's a reduced 100% and not subtracted 100% or something, it will still crit at whatever your base crit is after affecting the increased critical strikes gem.. since a level 20, 20% version of that gives you something like 110% or something

also that spell damage is super nice from controlled destruction
Last edited by G7Ghost on Sep 10, 2017, 11:27:52 AM
watlemeron wrote:
Thanks for the build, leveling it now to give it a try. Quick question though, why is controlled destruction in the final gem links setup when there's so much crit in the tree? Is there an interaction with totems or something that I am missing?

There's two kinds of multipliers in this game - increased/reduced and more/less:
-increases and reductions get added up and are then multiplied by (in this case) our crit chance.
-more/less always multiplies straight away, even with themselves.

Controlled Destruction gives us reduced Critical Strike chance and more Spell Damage, this means:
-our damage is multiplied by 1.44%
-our critical strike chance is reduced by a flat 100% of our base chance - in this case 5 from (Dark Pact) + 1.5 (from Assassin) + 1.9 (from Increased Critical Strikes) = 8.4%.

Since we're already stacking a lot of crit chance (my character has 858% increased without Power Charges) the reduction is barely noticeable while the multiplied damage is a lot.
In fact, Controlled Destruction is so strong right now that it's better than Increased Critical Strikes/Damage in every crit and noncrit caster build.

Hierophant doesn't have Scion's flat crit, so you only end up losing 6.9%.
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Last edited by SHEPUUURD on May 3, 2018, 9:36:19 AM

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