[3.3] Poet's Pen Dark Pact - Occultist - Deathless Shaper

I was searching for a fun build to play in the Incursion Flashback Event after getting my first level 95 character and came across a couple of people playing Poets Pen Dark Pact. I really liked the idea, but felt that I could push the build farther if I theorycrafted it myself. So, I began my first ever original build.
Credit to anomz: his Assassin build laid much of the groundwork for my own build. https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2144040


How does it work?

1) Dark Pact normally works by sacrificing some of your own life in order to deal AOE chaos damage around your character. However, when skeletons are summoned, Dark Pact instead sacrifices the skeleton's life in order to deal AOE chaos damage around the skeleton.
2) Dark Pact starts with two chains, meaning it is able to chain off of multiple skeletons, effectively increasing the AOE when the skeletons are spread out and the damage per cast when the skeletons are grouped up.
3) Poet's Pen works by casting the spells socketed into it every time it attacks. By dual wielding Poet's Pens, we are able to cast Summon Skeleton and Dark Pact every time we attack.



+pretty good map clear speed
+excellent single target damage
+chaos damage is immune to all types of reflect
+multiple curses and curses apply to hexproof
+occultist Profane Bloom poofs are fun!
+all gear pieces are off-meta and therefore fairly cheap
+crit build with chaos damage!


-Low life pool (around 5k at level 90) supplemented by MOM or acrobatics
-Pretty slow - dual wands means no t1 movement skill
-Endgame gear optimizations can get expensive
-No ES version: Gloomfang Amulet makes CI/LL builds difficult/impossible
-Bad for group play: chaos damage scales badly with auras

3) Skill Tree / Path of Building / Ascendancy / Bandits
Path of building: https://pastebin.com/g4PixheH
This Path of Building includes 5 slightly different skill trees.
+default - generic level 86 base. All of the other specialized builds are built around this outline.
+4 curse skele boom - Takes Whispers of Doom. Along with Malediction, +1 curse amulet, allows you to run 4 curses (Despair from Witchfire Brew flask). Also takes Minion Instability node for some extra damage.
+mom - Regular Mind over Matter build
+acro - Regular Acrobatics build
+mom acro hybrid - Hybrid between MOM and Acrobatics at the cost of some damage. This is the build that I used to reach level 95 on this characer. It was also able to clear guardians and Shaper deathless. However, this tree may not have enough damage without the essence crafted rare gear pieces.
For Ascendancy: Profane Bloom, Malediction, Forbidden Power, Void Beacon
Bandits: Alira
Passive Tree: https://www.pathofexile.com/fullscreen-passive-skill-tree/AAAABAMBAAQHBLMFQgW1Bx4I9A5ID8QRLREvEZYWbxa_GjgaSBpsG8gc3CBuIvQkqiaVJy8pTyoLKpgsnDBxMtE2PTbpOkI6WDrYO3xBlkJ6RKtFR0WdSU9JUUt4TLNQMFNSVUtVrlXGXfJfKmHiYqxjQ2ZUadhqQ2u3a9tsC2yMbRlwUnpwfIN88H0YfqF_xoIQg9uFMoV7hX2J04w2jb-PGo-mj_qQVZEHkyeVLpctmuCdqqEvogCio6XLpzS0xbUEuMq5k7yqvOq-isBmwuzDCc_d0B_Q9dQj1abZC92o37DjauOE5CLr5Ovu6_XsOO_r8B_w1fGK8h30KPqA?accountName=BrownDynamite&characterName=BDNotASummoner

4) Early Levelling Gear / Skills

+Pretty standard leveling. Double Lifesprigs, Wanderlust, Goldrim, Lochtonial Caress, Tabula. Use freezing pulse/firestorm until you can switch to Poet's Pens at level 12.
+Poet's Pens Volatile Dead / Unearth + Bodyswap
+Equip Frenzy at level 16 for your main attack skill. You can support this with faster attacks, greater multiple projectiles, life gain on hit, or curse on hit with a curse of your choice
+Leveling with PPVD is extremely easy. You can choose to either switch to Dark Pact at level 28 or continue leveling with PPVD until you hit maps and can equip the rest of your gear.
+I was able to pick up an all resistance string of servitude for some easy resistances throughout the acts

5) My Actual Gear / End-Game Skills

This build revolves around the Poet's Pen. This weapon functions by casting socketed spells every time it attacks.

The only other required item for this build is the Gloomfang amulet. Gloomfang grants us an additional chain on all of our skills. This affects Dark Pact, increasing its chains from 2 to 3. This effectively means that Dark Pact hits 4 times per cast. The additional chain also happens to affect Frenzy, which can lead to interesting results when running a curse on hit setup. Gloomfang also gives us a good amount of life leech from chaos damage, which easily offsets the loss of life when enemies are hit by attacks or spells.
*+1 curse corruption is a luxury addition. Because of the low popularity of the item itself, +1 curse corrupted Gloomfangs are fairly cheap. I managed to corrupt mine myself, but at the time of making this build on the Incursion Flashback Event, the corruption was selling for less than 4ex.

The final unique item that I run for this build is the Cherrubium's Malefience chestpiece. It is a nice item to have for this build as it gives us a big boost to chaos damage, a large chunk of life, and an increase to life leeched per second. However, this chest piece is not required for the build. We can function well in low-mid tier maps on a Tabula or any rare chestpiece.

*If you are running the Mind over Matter version of this build and want to stack even more defences, you may look into the Cloak of Defiance. I am not personally a fan of this chestpiece, as the MOM node is already easy to pick up on our tree, it does not provide life, and it is usually more expensive than Cherrubium's Malefience.

*Carcass Jack is also a good all-around chestpiece for this build. It provides life, resists, area of effect, and area damage and is easy to color.

I run a shaped ring with Assassin's Mark on Hit. Because Occultist picks up an additional curse and the Whispers of Doom cluster is fairly close by, you may choose to run additional curses. Assassin's Mark is great because it drastically buffs our critical strike chance and gives us a secondary source of Power Charge generation while mapping. You could also use an elder ring with Warlord's Mark on Hit for increased life and mana leech and Endurance Charge generation.

The best enchant for us is 40% increased Dark Pact Damage. Dark Pact cast speed does nothing for us as the spell is being automatically activated. Dark Pact Area of Effect may be cheaper, especially on rare helmets, and can help with the map clear at the cost of overall damage. I find that the base area of our Dark Pact, along with the increased area of effect from the Occultist Forbidden Power node, are more than enough for clearing maps, even though we also use Concentrated Effect.

The rest of our rares are fairly standard. Prioritize life and resistances. You may notice that some of my rare items also have the "Minions have % increased maximum life" suffix on them. This is because I crafted these rares with Essences of Fear. These essences seemed to be in short supply during the race, so I stopped trying to use Deafening essences and settled for Shrieking essences. During a 3-month league or in standard these essences should be much more easily obtainable in bulk.
Essence crafting is absolutely not mandatory. However, the minion max life stat is a fairly large increase to our overall damage. When I remove the 3 gear pieces with the essence craft, my skeletons' life drops from 11k to 7.5k. The damage without these essence crafts should still be enough to clear t15 maps, but I would hesitate to attempt guardians+ without the extra damage that this stat provides.

Another option is to get the "Increased Cooldown Recover Speed" stat on shaped belt and boots. This stat allows us to increase our attacks per second above the normal cap of 4 by reducing the cooldown of the skills socketed in our Poet's Pen.

6) Gem Links

In the Poet's Pens:
Summon Skeleton - Empower - Minion Life support.
+Because our goal is to maximize the total life of our skeletons, we want Summon Skeleton to be as high level as possible. Also for this reason, quality is irrelevant on the Summon Skeleton gem, as it only grants minion damage.
Dark Pact - Concentrated Effect - Void Manipulation
+Dark Pact is our main DPS skill. We support it with Conc Effect and Void Manipulation for their large more multipliers.

In the Chestpiece:
+The 6L setup for this build is very flexible. Because of this, we can even get away with a 5L in some cases.
Required gems:
Frenzy - Faster Attacks

Curse On Hit Setup:
Frenzy - Faster Attacks - Greater Multiple Projectiles - Curse On Hit - Curse 1 - Curse 2
+This build can have up to 4 curses at once.
+Assassin's Mark and Warlord's mark can be obtained from shaper/elder rings, despair can be obtained from Witchfire Brew flask.
+My recommended combination of curses is Assassin's Mark, Warlord's Mark, and Despair. Additonal curses that are also good to run are Enfeeble and Temporal Chains. The curses that you choose to socket into the 6L will change depending on what gear pieces you choose to use.
+Curse on Hit with GMP is especially interesting with this build because frenzy chains once due to Gloomfang. This can result in an entire pack of mobs being cursed in a single cast.
*This version of the build requires a bit of accuracy in order for us to land our curses, but not an excessive amount. Aim for around 80% chance to hit with frenzy.

Cast on Crit Setup:
Frenzy - Faster Attacks - Cast on Critical Strike - Dark Pact - Concentrated Effect - Void Manipulation
+This is a pretty nifty setup that gives you an extra cast of Dark Pact at a maximum of once every 0.5 seconds. This cooldown can also be reduced by the Increased Cooldown Recovery Speed stat.
+This setup is recommended against big bosses because of their innate reduction to curse effectiveness.
+I don't personally run this setup because it would have required me to recolor my chest piece. I also feel that this setup is lacking in map clear, although it certainly excels at single target damage.
*This version of the build requires a lot of accuracy in order to reliably proc the Cast on Critical Strike. Aim for around 90% chance to hit. The two accuracy/attack speed nodes in the Templar area are helpful in this case.

Wither Totem:
Spell Totem - Wither - Increased Duration - Faster Casting
+This is a standard setup in chaos damage builds. Wither increased the chaos damage taken by its target and can stack up to 15 times. Great against bosses.

Cast When Damage Taken - Immortal Call - Inc. Duration - Phase Run
+Standard CWDT setup for surviving physical damage.

+The mobility setup can choose between either flame dash or lightning warp. Neither of these are t1 movement skills, but are still useful for getting around the map.
+I prefer to use flame dash as it allows me to include a portal gem, but if I were to fight Uber Elder I would opt for a lightning warp setup.
Flame Dash - Arcane Surge (Level 7) - Faster Casting - Portal
Lightning Warp - Less Duration - Swift Affliction - Faster Casting

7) Flasks

1 Instant Life flask with Anti-Bleed
1 Sulphur Flask
1 Diamond Flask
1 Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline

The flask setup is pretty standard for a chaos build. Sulphur and Diamond flasks increase our DPS, while Quicksilver of Adrenaline is required as we do not have a t1 movement skill and are therefore relying on movement speed.

The fifth flask slot is flexible. You may choose to run a second life flask for safety, a Basalt or Quartz for survivability, or one of the shown unique flasks.
I use Lavianga's Spirit because I also run Mind over Matter.
Witchfire Brew may be useful in the 4-curse setup.

8) Jewels

Inspired learning socket it to the right of shadow start to pick up the notables and save points.

Clear Mind: lots of damage and mana regen, only use if not using blasphemy

Rare Jewels:
% increased maximum life > % to Critical Strike Multiplier for Spells > % to Global Critical Strike Multiplier > % increased Minion Life

Other good stats:
% increased Chaos Damage
% increased Area Damage
% increased Spell Damage
% increased Damage

*If you really want to push the damage of this build, you may invest in a Pure Talent unique jewel and connect to the Shadow start via the Physical and Chaos damage nodes. I have not tested this as I feel that 7 power charges and Assassin's Mark give us enough chance to crit.

9) Pantheon Gods

Major: Brine King for quality of life. We don't have a huge life total so are more vulnerable to stuns and freezes.
Minor: Ryslatha/Garukhan
These are my personal choices.

10) Hardcore Viable or not?

It is doable if you do Acrobatics/Phase/MoM and stack as much life as possible. This may result in a lowered DPS total which will be noticeable against big bosses.
Skeletons provide a semi-meat shield, but are constantly resummoned so do not always draw boss aggro correctly. Projectiles can chain off of skeletons to hit you.

11) Expensive Upgrades

+1 curse amulet
Poet's Pen corrupted with Power Charge on Crit/attack speed/AOE
Deafening Essence of Fear crafted Shaped Belt and Boots with Increased Cooldown Recovery Speed
Empower 4

12) Poet's Pen APS Optimization

Poet's pen comes with an internal cooldown of 0.25 seconds. This means that it can cast a maximum of 4 times per second. For some unexplained reason, the true limit of Poet's Pen casts per second is somewhere just below 4. This may be a result of server lag or latency issues. In any case, I always tried to reach no higher than 3.9 attacks per second in order to optimally take advantage of Poet's Pen without skipping casts.
My build has 4 frenzy charges and 20/20 faster attacks. This brings the aps to around 3.7. In order to fine tune the aps, I take the accuracy/attack speed nodes near Templar start. If you feel that you have enough accuracy, you may add or remove quality to both frenzy and GMP as needed, as both of these gems gain attack speed from quality.
Increased Cooldown Recovery Speed, obtained as a shaped mod on boots and belts, reduces the internal cooldown of Poet's Pen. The calculation for this is as followed.
Assume the total increased cooldown recovery speed is 20%.
Maximum APS = 4 * 1.2 = 4.8 attacks per second
Aim for approximately 4.65 attacks per second

13) Final Notes

1) While Frenzy is a projectile, Summon Skeleton is not. The damage will occur wherever your skeleton is summoned, and your skeleton is summoned wherever your cursor is as long as it is within your line of sight.
2) The skeletons do end up with upwards of 10k health, but they can still die. Dead skeletons means lowered dps, as we lose Dark Pact chain targets. In order to maximize dps against bosses with high area damage (Shaper), summon your skeletons where they will not immediately die.
3) I hope you enjoy this build! It is by no means a top tier clear speed or top tier bossing setup, but it is different and fun and effective. If you have any comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to post!

Shaper (2 deaths): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc1VwzprM-0
T16 Minotaur: https://youtu.be/VY5IdUYE_J8
T16 Chimera: https://youtu.be/MaKThNRepx0
T16 Elder Haunted Mansion: https://youtu.be/tYaz70g4q5Q
Apologies for the sloppy Shaper video. I have killed Shaper deathless, but have not yet caught it on video. I play on a fairly potato laptop and it causes the Shaper and Uber Elder instances to lag quite a bit, especially while recording. Also, my mechanics are not the best. I will upload a deathless Shaper kill soon(TM).

Last edited by BrownDynamite on Aug 19, 2018, 9:46:06 PM
Last bumped on Aug 20, 2018, 12:45:49 AM
Life occultist omegaLUL.
Jokes aside looks really interesting and might be my second or third build on the next league, videos also looked pretty promising, great work, will check the tree and provide any input I can later on, thanks!

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