[3.1] Volatile Berserker (Poet's Pen + Volatile Dead) | 8-9K Life | Incredible DPS | Easy Leveling


3.2 kind of killed the build. Berserker is more geared towards attack based builds now and we no longer get the global leech. I would highly recommend the following Ascendancy classes for future versions of Poet's Pen VD -- I will not answer questions regarding these Ascendancies and I have no plans on making any new Poet's Pen build guides in the near future.

Inquisitor, Chieftain, Ascendant, Assassin, Elementalist, Trickster, Occultist.

They're are not listed in any particular order, though I do think that Inquisitor is currently the strongest Ascendancy.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with the guide and stimulated discussion surrounding the build for the past 3 months. I wish everyone the best in Bestiary league!


Regards to the mid-league enchant nerf:

The helmet enchant is being nerfed from +3/2 to +1 and will be retroactively changed for all helmet with either +2 or +3 enchant. This is a nerf to the build as we will go from 6 Volatile Dead balls per trigger to 4.

However, it's also a blessing in disguise as we get to drop LMP in our Unearth setup to something else like PCoC, Blind or Culling Strike. This gives us a bit more flexibility on what we run in our 4L Frenzy setup.



Hello! Welcome to my build guide for a Berserker build I've been playing recently in the new Abyss league. The build focuses around the new unique, Poet's Pen, together with the Unearth and Volatile dead skills.


+ Extremely easy to level.
+ Solidly defensive - 8-9K Life with the option to go for MoM!
+ Cheap to get off the ground - 2x Poet's Pen is all you need.
+ Can clear any content in the game with relative ease.
+ Good DPS - 1,25M Shaper DPS 1,7M+ achievable.


- Enchant is ridiculously expensive at the moment.
- Can't use Shield Charge/Whirling Blades/Leap Slam.

Path of Building:


(Please keep in mind that the build and the guide are currently in-complete. The build may change from time to time as I experiment with new things. And I'm also planning a complete overhaul of the guide in the near future to make it more comprehensive and reader friendly.)



By Bitbite11:
(Legacy +3 Enchantment):

T14 Palace
The Shaper + Guardians(Minus Phoenix) w/ Necromancer Support



My Gear/Explanation

Dual Poet's pen is the foundation of the build. We use these to trigger Unearth and Volatile Dead. There's not much else to say except prioritize obtaining these.

For your helmet, go with the one you can get the enchant on. The enchant pretty much doubles our damage output. If you can't get the enchant, then go for either a rare helmet with life/resists or a Starkonja.

Kaom's Heart is our go-to chest. An insane amount of flat life on top of fire damage, what's not to love?

For the gloves Oskarm are good on a budget. You'll want to eventually obtain a pair of Atziri's Acuities. Ever since the enchant nerf we can drop LMP in our Unearth setup and run a Power Charge on Crit Gem which will sustain charges when we have Acuities.

For boots you will just want a rare pair with resists, movement speed and life. Try to get the Uber labyrinth enchantment that gives 10% elemental pen since it's amazing against bosses. You can also try to purchase or craft a pair of rare Shaper boots in order to get the cooldown reduction to increase the amount of triggers you can get off per second.

Rare amulet with Critical strike chance, life, critical strike multiplier and whatever else you might be missing. Unique amulets such as Impresence or Xoph's Heart are good alternatives if you can fit one in.

Opal ring crafted with Essence of Anger will be our best choice. If you're on a budget, Diamond rings will do fine until you can get a pair of Opal rings.

For your belt slot, a rare Abyssal belt will be the best choice on a budget. Try to get Life/Resists/Strength. The optimal belt however would probably be a rare Shaper Leather belt with cooldown reduction affix on it, this will allow us to go over 4 attacks per second without having any dead attacks.

For your jewels, you will want to have 5 rare jewels with Life + Increased damage. The 5th jewel you would ideally want the unique jewel the Watcher's Eye with the affix "Damage Penetrates (10-15%) of Fire Resistance while affected by Anger". This jewel is a significant damage increase.

For your flasks you will want a magic Diamond flask, The Wise Oak(make sure Fire Resistance is your highest res!) and an Atziri's Promise. The rest of the flasks is up to you to decide what you want and need.


Passive tree, Pantheon and Ascendancy

Atziri's Acuities version:

Passive Tree(Level 96 - Build Complete)[/b]: http://poeurl.com/bGkG

Passive Tree(Level 90): http://poeurl.com/bGkC

Passive Tree(Level 75): http://poeurl.com/bGkD

Vaal Pact version:

Passive Tree(Level 96 - Build Complete)[/b]: http://poeurl.com/bH3h


Bandits: Either go with Alira or kill all 3, it's up to you.
(Passives Tree were made with Alira in mind)

Ascendancy Order:

Pain Reaver (Normal Labyrinth)
Crave the Slaughter (Cruel Labyrinth)
Aspect of Carnage (Merciless Labyrinth)

War Bringer or Rite of Ruin from Uber Labyrinth. It's up to you which one you would prefer.



Whichever you want, it doesn't play a large role in how the build functions and we don't really rely on it much.


Skill Gem Links

There are only a few gems that you must run in order to make the build to work. There's a lot of flexibility in what supportive active skills you want to run in this build, so it's going to be largely up to you and your playstyle.

Poet's Pen:

Unearth - Greater Multiple Projectiles - Power Charge on Critical Strike

Volatile Dead - Elemental Focus - Concentrated Effect

Attack Skill:
(You will want just below 4 APS preferrably, aim for that at any level in order to maximize your triggers per second)

Frenzy - Greater Multiple Projectiles - Life Gain on Hit - Blind/Culling Strike/Chain

(This is what I'm using, feel free to replace Haste with something else if you want)

Haste - Anger - Enlighten(Level 3)

Misc. Gems:
(Socket these wherever)
Summon Flame Golem
Rallying Cry (Only needed if you picked the War Bringer Ascendancy node)
Cast when Damage Taken - Immortal Call - Increased Duration



Leveling Guide | Written by royc3wicz


1-12 - as marauder pick anything, like fire traps, cleave, flame totem - basicly ANYTHING that deals decent low lvl tooltip dmg since we wont really get any damage nodes early on. At lvl 8 buy LifeGainOnHit and level it up.

12-18 - grab Your Poet's Pens and socket one with VD-Onslaught-AddedLightning, or just raw with no links since its still op. In second wand go for unearth-lmp. This is where You start to faceroll. At lvl 12 use Barrage-LMP for trigerring, and when You hit 16 switch to frenzy-lmp.

18-38 - Here is where You start to faceroll even harder. Go for VD-EleFocus-ConcEff and Unearth-LMP-PowerChargeOnCrit as soon as You hit 18, and You are golden. Dont forget to switch Barrage to Frenzy-LMP-Faster Attacks-LifeGainOnHit (if u have mana issues skip LGOH for now).

38-xxx - Add GMP to Unearth and Frenzy, thats pretty much it. Continue facerolling.

Leveling Uniques and items I suggest using:

Ring Slots: -8 Elreon ring. Coral preffered, but any will do. Second ring: Praxis with -8 Mana, and some decent rolls.
Alternative: Emberwake, Mokou's Embrace, Le Heup of All. Nice DMG and overall boosts, but trust me, You DONT need more dmg.

Amulets: - Karui Ward as a stat booster early on. At 16 You can switch to Atziri's Foible if You have one (only If You dont have praxis for lvl 22). Basicly pick any amulet, even white lapis/jade for stats. Options worth to mention later on: Karui Charge, Ngamahu Tiki. *Also, if You dont have elreon ring You can get elreon amulet (jade/lapis/any-7/-8)

Belts: - Darkness Enthroned. Lvl 1 belt with 2 abyss jewels is worth taking a shot coz this abyss jewels gives quite nice boost early on. If You dont want waste Your time: Perandus Blazon as a stat booster. Early on we really struggle to get that dex and int... Anyway, if You dont have stat issues switch to Bisco's Leash. Definetly. Honorable mention: Headhunter xD

Gloves: - Here we have 2 options early on. Lochtonial Caress and Deodre's Tenure. First one for free charges and attack speed, second for free 50-60% spell dmg (They also reduce our cast speed, but who cares since we dont cast?). I used Doedres till lvl 70. Honorable mention: Maligaro's Virtuosity for some crit early on, but they aint worth using in my opinion.

Boots: - Wanderlust and Dusktoes. I used first one, but Dusktoes gives nice dmg boost during flask effect, and trust me: You will smash this silvers and quicksilvers as hard as u can :D Worth to mention: Goldwyrms, Sundances, Seven-League Step.

Chest: - Briskwrap or just any. I used Briskwrap for some Attack Speed honestly. Any life/res chest will do. No tabula needed (Still You can get Tabula with + to vall gems if You like to smash some vaal spark/haste etc during leveling nad squeeze the 6l out of it).

Helmets: - Goldrim is best in socket. Free 30-40% all res is worth taking a shot. There nothing much I can tell. Worth to mention: Deidbell (stat keeper), Asenath Mark (attack speed and movement speed).

Flasks: Here is hard to find any unique flasks, but try to get 1 life flask and upgrade it base with levels to dont stuck with small life flask on level 50 like I did. Worth to add: 2x Experimenter's Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline (increased movement speed during flask effect and increased duration), 1x Silver Flask of Warding (remove curses) with any preffix like "reduces charges used" or some, and 1x Diamond Flask roled with removes bleeding on use (since we dont really get freezed when we leveling, and we have wanderlusts).

This setup should carry You on till act 10 kitava and level 70~.

Overall leveling tips:

- Keep some gems to level in offhand slots (I used 6x VD).
- Dont forget to watch for Your resistances during leveling. Bismuth flasks or switching 1 or 2 uniques like chests/amu/ring later may be handy.
- Since we dont need any CWDT setup during leveling You can add some LightWarp-FasterCasting-ReducedDuration setup just for skiping those gaps.
- Pick first lab with leech nodes as soon as You can for extra sustain. With them You cna get rid of elreon jewelery/praxis.
- Don't pick up trash. Seriously, only jewels, abyss jewels and uniques plus currency are worth picking up when You level. Maybe some quality gems and flasks for free recipes.
- Buy all required gems using another character before You start and keep them in inventory just ot add during leveling (maybe except CWDT setup). It really cuts off Your leveling time.
- Get all leveling uniques before You start. Whole set EXCEPT POET PENS costs like... 10-12c depends on rolls (I payed like 8c for all I needed). And keep them in stash and just add - like gems - during leveling. Another timesaver, plus You can keep this items for leveling later another char.

Happy Leveling! :)


Frequently Asked Questions


Can I use [INSERT X] ascendancy instead of Berserker?

Yes. Volatile Dead is strong and versatile enough to work well on almost any Ascendancy class. Though you do obviously want to pick one that synergizes well with Volatile Dead itself. I would recommend:

Berserker, Inquisitor, Assassin, Occultist, Trickster, Champion, Pathfinder & Ascendant.

Can I use Elemental Overload and ignore the crit multi?

Yes. But be warned that your damage will be lower. The reason we go for Critical strikes in this build is because all the nodes we pick are efficient nodes that don't require any real traveling to reach. It's also not more expensive to go for Crit over EO since the gear would pretty much be the same.

Can you upload a video of the build?

Unfortunately because of recent PC issues, I'm not really in a good position to record footage of the build. However, Bitbite11 was nice enough to record two videos of him playing the build. These videos make use of the legacy enchant which made Volatile Dead destroy 3 additional corpses vs the current one which is only 1 additional corpse, but the gameplay is still very much the same.

Why Berserker over [INSERT X] Ascendancy?

Berserker is amazing on a budget. We gain 1% Life & Mana leech on our Ascendancy tree which frees us up from having to use the Watcher's Eye jewel with the Anger leech affix(Which are currently at 10+ Exalted orbs as of writing this) or Warlord's Mark. On top of that we also have the 40% more damage which is a huge boost to our damage. Berserker is a great Ascendancy class that offers us everything we want.


Final Words

Thank you for reading my short build guide. It's currently a rough draft and I'm planning major overhauls in the future. If you have any questions, feel free to post in this thread or send me a PM if you're not comfortable asking it in an open forum.
Last edited by Dixton on Mar 4, 2018, 6:16:53 AM
Last bumped on Mar 3, 2018, 5:07:18 PM
I just leveled a pen assassin, and i happen to see this...

Guess i'll be leveling again.
Churbro wrote:
I just leveled a pen assassin, and i happen to see this...

Guess i'll be leveling again.

You can definitely keep playing as an Assassin! Life is going to be lower but your overall DPS is going to be higher, especially if you fulfill the conditions of Ambush and Assassinate, that's when your DPS skyrockets. It would also allow you to drop Elemental Focus and run something else in that slot in order to make good use of the shattering mechanic.

The major downside of going Assassin over Berserker is that you lose the 1% native leech that the Berserker gains from the Ascendancy tree. This will force you to drop the Watcher's Eye that gives 10-15% Fire Penetration while affected by Anger for a Watcher's Eye that gives Fire leech while affected by Anger(Unless you're super rich or lucky and can get a jewel with both!). Last time I checked, these leech jewels were ridiculously expensive. A budget alternative would be Warlord's Mark liked with Curse on Hit/Blasphemy and drop Assassin's Mark Curse on Hit.

I don't know what tree/guide you're following right now, but here's what I came up with for an Assassin tree following pretty much the same build Berserker is.

I am quite interested in this build, could you post a video of a lets say guardian map.
Or a twitch vod, would work just as fine.
I just rerolled to a wild strike jugg, but after i saw this build i simply have to reroll again :3
nezull wrote:
I am quite interested in this build, could you post a video of a lets say guardian map.
Or a twitch vod, would work just as fine.

I'm going to post several videos when I get to a point where I can showcase the build to it's full potential. At the moment I'm level 87 in ASC just entering red maps.
Im currently in A2 and im having such a fucking fun time with this.

Thx a lot mate, i cant wait to take this into maps later down the line.
Hello there, this build looks extremely fun! Do you think cyclone could be used as a skill activator?
Freddydaking wrote:
Im currently in A2 and im having such a fucking fun time with this.

Thx a lot mate, i cant wait to take this into maps later down the line.

I'm glad you're enjoying the build!

Cloudbreak wrote:
Hello there, this build looks extremely fun! Do you think cyclone could be used as a skill activator?

You can't Cyclone with wands, unfortunately. If you want to use Cyclone, you would have to use something like Cospri's Malice or the Cast on Critical Strike gem. But doing that would require an entirely different setup than this.
Last edited by Dixton on Dec 16, 2017, 8:46:10 AM
Ah i see, thanks for the answer

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info