[3.12] Necromantic Scribe - [Fun Playstyle] [6.5k Life] [5mil boss dps]


This build originally started as a remake of Neversink's 2.2 Poison Animator. I played it back then and it was possibly the most fun build I had played. It used Null's Inclination with volley fire barrage, full pierce, poison and SRS/AW summons.

With the changes to poison scaling, it needed to be built slightly differently. I had a Null's Inclination build ready for league start in Synthesis and through my testing while levelling and until now, it slowly evolved into this build. Poet's Pen is much better than Null's for triggering spell casts due to not requiring killing blows, and can be used on bosses, which was one of the major issues with the Poison Animator build. Poison is now scaled very differently and is not a viable choice for this playstyle as it cannot reach appropriate dps while keeping the minion investment.

Herald has been added to take care of boss dps and it does a very good job. For the most part though, this build is intended to be fast and smooth and fun to play in maps. I checked out a couple of HoA builds and I disliked the speed of clearing when using the herald's AI. I wanted something that clears on it's own with poison or degen, with minions taking a supplementary role, in the style of Neversink's original build.

I am at the point where all the big decisions have been finalised in the build, so I'm getting around to posting it here to share.

Despite the build no longer using AW/SRS summons or poison to clear, this iteration still has the same feel and playstyle and has been highly enjoyable for me to play so far.


Build guide updated fully for 3.12. PoB is finalised and I have adjusted all gems to what I believe is optimal after playing this character again in Heist.

BUFFS & NERFS for 3.12:
+ Sniper's Mark added! Big damage boost on bosses
+ No longer curse dependant, more flexibility in items and skill points on tree
+ More life as a result of above changes, can push 6.4k+ with optimal gear
+ Gained a lot more knockback
+ More life gain on hit, especially on bosses
+ Fork + alternate quality (1 pierce) seems insane for crawler clear
+ Alternate quality gems can patch up some important stats such as capping poison chance, freeing up jewels for more damage stats

- No auto-pierce for spider now without a gem swap, due to proj weakness rework.
- Now using Gluttony belt. This means no stygian and losing an abyssal socket. Not a big deal, as abyssal jewels don't benefit this build much.

3.12 Heist Gear:
I used this build for league start in 3.12 (Heist). My final character is shown below.



+ Above-average league starter
+ Can do all map mods easily
+ No 6-link required
+ High movespeed, fun playstyle
+ Massive life gain on hit against big packs of mobs
+ Over 6k life, acro, phase acro, flat damage reduction
+ Basically zero budget to start, clear upgrade paths
+ Decent chaos resist
+ Lots of knockback
+ Non-meta gear requirements - unusual stat combinations, gear is not high in demand (except Asenath's gloves this league!)
+ Can use the two best MTX in the game, Celestial HoA and Cat Soulrend!

- Not as tanky as a 9k life max-block Gladiator or 16k ES Occultist herald build
- Can be finicky to get going, transitioning can feel rough as a beginner
- Still need to dodge big boss attacks and one-shots
- Controlling spider targetting on some bosses can be a little annoying (eg. uber elder). Need to use convocation or predator (deathmark) to focus him on the correct target
- Soulrend damage drops off in groups as we aren't scaling it too high. It should be enough to clear t16's comfortably. 100% delirious juiced t16's will likely not go well.
- Single-target dps ceiling is not as high as a dedicated herald build
- Little room for scaling the build much further - this isn't a build you can throw 100 ex into


We use barrage with volley fire to cover the screen with cats and purple degen.

Poet's Pen casts soulrends and we clear packs using this. Most packs should die from the DoT, the tanky rares that survive should get squashed by the crawler minion.

Note that momentum is a big deal with this build. The more smoothly you play and keep moving, the better it feels. You can stop and start if you need to loot, but try and keep the pace up and it will be very enjoyable.

I also find it incredibly fun to attack and "chase" your own soulrends, they lead you towards packs and will generally kill them as you phase run through.
The hit-and-run and stutter-stepping playstyle takes some time to get comfortable with, but once you know your damage it's an extremely satisfying way to play.

Dash gives a smooth blink for dodging big attacks or jumping ledges.

Phase run allows phasing to run to the next pack and to prevent body-blocks, making the playstyle very interactive and pretty smooth.

The herald is very much a supporting pet while mapping, and on bosses we switch and support him. You can use convocation (or predator) to pull him to you if he gets stuck or you need him to focus a specific target - he typically attacks what you are attacking anyway though.


Bandits: Kill All

Ascendancy: Pathfinder
Nature's Reprisal -> Master Toxicist -> Nature's Boon -> Master Alchemist

PoB (UPDATED 3 Oct 2020): https://pastebin.com/wzGRPtKb

Includes all trees, gear, and skill gems.

Levelling tree (approx. level 30): http://poeurl.com/c0VM
Levelling tree (approx. level 50): http://poeurl.com/c0VP
Levelling tree (approx. level 70): http://poeurl.com/c0VQ

Final tree: http://poeurl.com/c2Ma
Final tree (alternate, 1 medium cluster): http://poeurl.com/c3n5


Major: Soul of Lunaris / Soul of the Brine King

Soul of Lunaris is very nice, especially with all the upgrades. Brine King is always a nice choice for the anti-stunlock effect, but that's really all it gives.

I have been playing with Soul of Lunaris permanently and I haven't had any issues, but if you want Brine King it's an option.

Minor: Soul of Garukhan / Soul of Shakari

More evasion and movement speed is nice for us. We don't need Soul of Ryslatha for the life flask recharge as we're a pathfinder.
Shakari is nice too for the chaos damage reduction.


Update: The below info was written pre-3.9. Some things may have changed, eg. gem rewards or quests. It should mostly be accurate still though.
Feel free to mess around with the new bow skills instead and improvise how you level. Just follow the levelling skill tree, and this info is always here for reference if you start to struggle.

Act 1:
Start with Split Arrow or Shrapnel Shot (shrapnel works well for not getting body blocked, eg. in submerged passage). Look for 3-socket 1h weapons to pick up to put in your offhand weapon slots for levelling gems.

Take Lesser Poison support from the Mercy Mission reward (Medicine Chest).

Take Added Cold Damage from The Caged Brute (Brutus) reward, buy Blink Arrow from vendor.

Take Rain of Arrows from The Siren's Cadence (Merveil) reward.

Run a triple green 3-Link: Rain of Arrows + Lesser Poison + Added Cold.

Take Precision aura from quest reward (don't remember which).

Act 2:

Be on the lookout for 3-link +1 minion level helmets (GGB or GGR). That mod can appear from level 14 onwards. If you don't get one, it's fine.

Kill all bandits.

Take Herald of Agony from Intruders In Black (Chamber of Sins) reward.
Buy Herald of Ice from vendor.

Run double heralds (Agony, Ice) and Precision.

Take Faster Attacks from Sharp and Cruel (Weaver) reward.

Run a GGGG 4-link: Rain of Arrows + Lesser Poison + Added Cold + Faster Attacks.

Remember to keep upgrading your life and mana flasks.

Act 3:

Take the Lapis amulet from the Ribbon Spool quest to help with intelligence requirements if you don't already have one.

OPTIONAL: You can skip this next step until Act 6 if you don't want to do library.
Complete A Fixture of Fate (Library), then buy Minion Damage, Damage on Full Life, Added Chaos Damage and Soulrend from Siosa. Try and start levelling Soulrend now, so that when you switch to using it, it's not level 1.

Run your Rain of arrows in a GGGB 4-link: RoA-Lesser Poison-Added Chaos-Added Cold.

Take Chain Support from The Eternal Nightmare (Malachai) reward. Link this to your Herald of Agony in a 3-link (GGB or GGR).

Early-lategame goals (in no particular order):

- Obtain a Poet's Pen. Once you have this, you can switch to Soulrend + Herald of Agony. This allows you to drop all your elemental heralds and run a 4-linked HoA (Herald of Agony-Minion Damage-Damage on Full Life-Chain).

- Obtain a Volley Fire jewel. This allows you to drop Rain of Arrows and start using Barrage. You may do this as early as you like, depending on whether you prefer Rain of Arrows or Barrage for levelling.

For beginners/early league playing:

If you are struggling to get the currency for this, run low level maps, collect rares (especially rings and amulets), DO NOT IDENTIFY THEM. Use them for the UNID chaos recipe - you should be able to brute-force chaos quite quickly to buy your first Poet's Pen to kick-start your build. This often occurs at league start, when a Poet's Pen may cost 20-40c and is preventing you from transitioning into the build and progressing maps.

- Obtain a Gluttony belt (req. level 48).

- Move your Herald of Agony setup into a pair of "The Embalmer" gloves.

- Obtain a second Poet's Pen for weapon swap bossing setup.

- Obtain a Witchfire Brew flask.

- Obtain a Cospri's Will (optional) or a cheap ilevel 82+ hunter's body armour for +1 curse. If using Cospri's, you can drop the poison gem temporarily.

- As you progress your atlas and obtain Divine Vessels, remember to keep upgrading your pantheon's components.

Mana Issues:
Either run a mana flask or take the three mana leech nodes in the Essence Sap wheel. My preference is the mana leech - these should be removed using your free respec points once you have a Gluttony belt.

To increase your poison chance early on, take the four nodes leading to Swift Venoms and run the Lesser Poison gem. With Herald of Agony, this gives a total of 80% chance to poison. At this point your 4-link herald damage can carry you comfortably even if your own damage is bad.

The Volley Fire jewel needs to be socketed in either the Scion jewel socket or the two sockets on the right side of the tree. They will not activate in the templar or witch areas.

Your options for applying curses are as follows:

- Witchfire Brew. This is our endgame mapping setup for Despair but it's not necessary until you're using Soulrend.

- Poet's Pen (Boss setup - Sniper's Mark)
This is used to apply Sniper's Mark on bosses and single target. If using Asenath's gloves, either don't use your witchfire brew (it will override Sniper's Mark) or use a glove swap for difficult bosses.

- Asenath's Gentle Touch. This helps with mapping with Temporal Chains, and the corpse explosions used to be handy for clearing. However it needs to be swapped out for endgame bosses. Need to decide whether it's worth the hassle.

Curse Limits:
Our Despair curse and Sniper's Mark both need a curse slot, and also Temporal Chains if using Asenath's gloves.

Early on, run either a Cospri's Will or a cheap +1 curse hunter influenced body armour.
You can use a Doedre's Damning to gain a 2nd curse before obtaining your chest piece, in order to use Asenath's gloves while mapping.

Late-game, the goal is a decently crafted +1 curse hunter chest (i.e. +1 curse, mid/high tier life roll, crafted %life/%mana and misc suffixes such as resistances)






Two Poet's Pens are used. They are very cheap currently because they are considered "trash", so they are definitely affordable for anyone wanting to play with them.

Our boss setup uses a Victario's Charity to provide substantial dps for our spider via frenzy charges.

Our mapping setup uses a rare shield with life (and ideally +1 curse gems). Try and get a lightning resist roll to match Victario's Charity so that you can optimise your gearing more efficiently between the two weapon sets.


For mapping, you want to upgrade to an elder helm with +2 minion levels and supported by Minion Damage support. Note: In 3.9 and onwards, elder bases are more expensive. If these +2/minion damage helmets are not super cheap, possibly just skip this step and go straight to crafting your final helm below.

Late game, the goal is to craft (or buy) a +3 gems, 5L helm. Note that THIS IS NOT REQUIRED, you can buy/craft a +2/minion damage helm and use it very successfully for endgame content. Once you start pushing extra levels on your Herald of Agony gem (via crafting a +2 amulet, buying a level 21 HoA etc), a +3/minion damage helm will add a greater amount of damage.

Late game crafting process:

Purchase an ilevel 86+ helmet with the lab enchant of your choice.
For this build, the best enchants are as follows:

- Spirit offering gives +12% phys as extra chaos damage
- Herald of Agony has 30% reduced mana reservation (not currently useful for us)
- Summoned Agony Crawler fires 2 additional Projectiles
- Soulrend fires an additional Projectile
- Soulrend deals 40% increased Damage

The last three are basically quality of life improvements.
The Spirit Offering enchant is very strong and provides the most damage.

To begin crafting, we require a level 86 (not 84!!) ELDER helmet base.

Due to the new awakener orb mechanics, it is now possible to systematically craft a helm with enchant as follows.

This is now craftable from an enchanted non-elder base by using one of the new influence exalted orbs on your enchanted base helmet, applying an awakener orb, consuming an elder helmet and transferring the influence to your enchanted base. You can then proceed to craft the affixes as detailed further below.

Have a look at PoE DB for information on which influence type you would prefer to add, based on their pool of modifiers. I do not recommend using Hunter, as it has a cold damage to spells modifier which will be amplified by using a Frigid Fossil.

Note that if you can buy an enchanted elder ilvl 86+ helm for less than the cost of the standard ilvl 86+ base plus the cost of an awakener orb and one of the new exalted orb types, then just do that instead. It is theoretically better to get a pure elder helmet, as it has less affixes in the pool to roll, but it will probably be expensive to get a good enchant this way.

The theoretical best base would be a bone helmet for the additional damage, however don't pay much extra for this as it's a minor increase.

You can quality fossil craft it up to 30% if you like.

Fossil craft it using Bound and Frigid fossils in 2-socket resonators (Frigid cancels out quite a few unwanted modifiers and is very cheap).

Once you get both +3 and minion damage on the helm, you can craft +life and then it's complete. Note that I do not recommend filling out the remaining affixes using Leo slams, as you run the risk of bricking the helm by rolling another linked gem (minion life, immolate, burning damage). They are actually quite common and make the helm unusable by our build as they increase the mana reservation of Herald of Agony.
Body Armour:

The endgame body armour used is a rare, hunter-influenced evasion piece. Ideally an Assassin's Garb for the movement speed implicit. Note that this requires at least ilevel 82 to roll. Try to get +1 curse and a mid-high tier life roll on it. Then you can multimod %life/%mana and a resistance, or just craft %life/%mana.

Note that often there are 6-linked, 5/6 white socket, 30% quality bases available for purchase for a couple of exalts. It would be a good idea to wait for these to come onto the market, purchase one, and slam it with a Hunter's exalted orb to use as your crafting base.

Also, if you are crafting on a white base in this way, make sure to craft a good (high t1/t2 life, some resists) base before slamming with the Hunter's exalted orb. Ideally you want 3 suffixes (full), your life roll, and then craft %life/%mana from the crafting bench. This should leave only one open prefix. When you use the Hunter's exalted orb, you will have a 1-in-6 chance of hitting +1 curse and completing your craft immediately. If this doesn't happen, just scour the hunter-influenced item and continue crafting it normally. In my opinion it's worth pre-crafting the base that way for the 1-in-6 chance, it's not too expensive to do.

Prior to obtaining this, you can use a Cospri's Will as a cheap alternative. This gives +1 curse and also removes the need for the Poison support gem, temporarily lowering your gem socket requirements.
Early in a league, this may not be a super cheap unique. Even though it's not considered good, it still has a required level of 68, and won't be readily available until people start farming maps.


Asenath's Gentle Touch:
These gloves provide corpse explosions, high life, blind, and Temporal Chains on hit (see below for discussion about this). Note that if using these gloves, you should swap them out during difficult bosses. If you don't, the Temporal Chains curse will override your Sniper's Mark, which is quite a large dps loss.

Alternatively, run a pair of rare gloves to help with resistances. You can also use corrupted gloves with curse-on-hit implicit, or Haemophilia gloves for some explosions, or both.
I was using a pair of Haemophilia for a while earlier this league, corrupted with despair on hit. I bought them for 10c so they are not expensive at all.

Glove swapping:

You can swap either into a pair of rare gloves (Hunter intimidate-on-hit with high life would be ideal - this is my preference, ~5% more damage) or a 3-white pair of Triad Grip (~10% more damage, no life roll). USING THESE GLOVES WITH NON-WHITE SOCKETS IS A DPS LOSS!

Triad Grip discussion:

Herald of Agony has 40% phys to chaos conversion by default. Therefore there is 60% remaining to be converted.
This means that 3 white sockets are the maximum needed for 100% chaos conversion. This is quite a bit cheaper than a 4-white pair. When you buy these, the arrangement of white sockets is important. Make sure that the top two, and bottom right socket are white.
You can then use the crafting bench to force the item to 3 sockets. This will remove the last non-white socket. Keeping this socket will ruin your dps.

The final result will be a pair of gloves with 3 sockets, all of them white.

I only recommend swapping gloves for really difficult bosses such as Sirus or Uber Elder. You should not need to do this for map bosses, or even for bosses such as Shaper/(normal) Elder. The crawler will likely still have excessive dps, and it's just not worth the hassle. If you are going to keep these gloves on during bosses, just don't use your Witchfire Brew flask (so the Despair aura is not applied - ~10% dps loss).

For the boss swap gloves, I just keep both my mapping and boss gloves socketed with gems. Buy duplicates of the gems to keep two sets - it's too tedious and annoying to bother with moving around individual gems.

Early on, you can use The Embalmer for your herald instead and put your zombie setup into the helm.


The endgame goal is a pair of rare boots with 30+% movement speed, a high (80+) life roll, decent resistances. Try to get the movement speed lab enchant as well. You can do some fun stuff here if you're wanting to spend currency, such as +2 pierce hunter boots (probably not worth, as it only effects you and not the spider, but it's worth mentioning).

While levelling, you can use a rare amulet with stats to help reach your gem requirements.
An early endgame option for the amulet is a rare hunter's amulet with +1 chaos gems (ilevel 82+) and some other stats, and crafted life. Before that, just use any rare amulet with life and resistances.

Late game, our goal is a +2 HoA HUNTER + WARLORD amulet.
To do this, you need to obtain two amulets. One Hunter influenced, and one warlord influenced. Make sure one of them is the final intended base type you intend to use (eg. Lapis, Agate etc). These amulets need to both be at least ilevel 82.

Alteration spam these amulets separately until you hit +1 to PHYSICAL skill gems on the warlord amulet, and +1 to DEXTERITY skill gems on the hunter amulet.

NOTE if you hit any of the other influence mods, particularly the other + level to skill gems mods, consider selling the item base and buy a new one. It will likely sell for a little bit and you might as well profit if you can be bothered, instead of rolling over it. This league, +1 intelligence skill gems sells well so don't roll over that mod.

Once you have done this and have your two amulets, make sure that the other mod on each item (if it's not a single mod magic item) is NOT a mod from the hunter or warlord influence pool. Check this at PoE DB.

You then need to use an awakener's orb on the item with the base type you do NOT want to keep, then transfer that item to the other of your two crafted amulets. This will add the +1 gem mod, giving you a +2 gem amulet, plus additional random modifiers. At this point, depending on what modifiers you have rolled, you have a few options.

If there are two spare suffixes a spare prefix, you can multimod life + resists/+1 endurance charge.
If there is a spare prefix, you can craft "Prefixes cannot be changed" and scour off the suffixes for a clean multimod.

Or for cheaper alternatives:
If there is a spare prefix, you can just craft life.
If there is a spare suffix, you can craft resistances or +1 minimum endurance charge. You can always remove these crafts to perform one of the more expensive crafting pathways above at a later time.

IMPORTANT: You need a spare suffix to craft your chosen aspect skill onto either the amulet or ring. Depending on how your amulet turns out, you may choose to shift this to the ring. Just keep it in mind with your planning.

If there is no spare suffix or prefix, you can gamble and try and annul off one of the bad mods in order to proceed with one of the above crafts, at the risk of ruining your +2 amulet. Otherwise you can leave it as-is if you don't wish to risk bricking your investment.

There are some choices here. Elder rings with a t1 life roll and a high (15+) life gain on hit roll are good and probably the go-to option. You can even use a Vermillion ring base for even more life. If you do this, it's probably worth using Fertile Catalysts while the item is scoured to boost the quality to 20%.
This will also increase your chances of rolling these life-based modifiers.

These can be crafted using Pristine fossils. Aim for high life, high life gain on hit and some resistances. If you have a spare suffix open you can craft additional resistances or +1 minimum endurance charge.

Alternatively, just use a good rare ring to fill out intelligence and resistance requirements, with a good life roll (or crafted life).

IMPORTANT: You need a spare suffix to craft your chosen aspect skill onto either the amulet or ring. Depending on how your amulet turns out, you may choose to shift this to the ring. Just keep it in mind with your planning.

For the other ring, use a Circle of Nostalgia (Chaos damage + herald damage) or another rare ring. This particular Circle of Nostalgia provides good damage for both the herald and our own map clearing and is highly recommended.


A Gluttony belt is used to provide high life and mana gain on hit. This is our mana sustain and is no longer dependant on Poacher's Mark (as of 3.12 changes).
Also provides culling strike, which is a pseudo-10% more damage boost. It can be considered more than that, as for difficult bosses, the last phase is often the most useful to skip, such as Sirus or Izaro.

Cluster Jewels:

We will be running one Large minion damage cluster. An item level of 50-67 on the jewel will make it much easier to roll the mods you want.
- Renewal node is mandatory
- Feasting Fiends is nice for giving your zombies more survivability
- The suffix node is not great. The only decent one for us is Call to the Slaughter, but even that is not very good. In the PoB, I have not specced into it because it doesn't look like it's worth 2 points. If you have extra points to spare, put them in.
However, it's important that your cluster jewel has a suffix node, even if you don't take it. This is because it arranges the nodes in such a way that you will save 2 points by not taking it.

We will run either one or two Medium minion herald clusters. An item level of 68-83 will make it easier to roll the mods you want.

I have been running two, however I have noticed that I cannot really push Virulence stacks above 40-45 on bosses. The only time I ever cap out at 50 is on trash mobs in maps, but this is a trivial case and does not require the extra dps. Therefore I am thinking about dropping the second medium cluster, using the socket for another cobalt jewel, and putting the remaining points into the scion life wheel. This will push the character over 6.5k life and will provide more survivability, and I think it's a better option.

- Pure Agony is mandatory
- Cult-Leader is very good and exceptionally easy to roll
- Invigorating Portents is not bad either

If crafting yourself, Alteration spam for Pure Agony first, then augment and regal for Cult-Leader.

A Calamitous Visions Small cluster jewel is used in one of the remaining sockets. The other can be used for a standard Cobalt jewel, as outlined below.


Make sure to get a volley fire with "corrupting blood cannot be inflicted on you" implicit for endgame.

Take care placing Volley Fire. It must be socketed somewhere where the Dexterity requirement is fulfilled. For this build, there are 3 valid sockets - The scion socket, the socket between Scion and Ranger, and the Ranger socket near Acrobatics.

For our rare jewels, try and get Cobalt jewels with the following stats:
- Maximum life %
- Minion damage %
- Chaos damage over time multiplier (or damage over time %/chaos damage %)
- Any resists or stats needed

Chaos DoT multi and minion damage is not a very common stat combination and therefore we can afford to be picky with these to get really nice jewels. It may take some time at the beginning a league for them to show up, but they should not be expensive as they are worthless for almost every build.

Minion damage % will also increase our damage, making it a good source of dual scaling.

Note that chaos DoT multi is quite a bit better than either damage over time % or chaos damage %, but those are better than nothing.

If you are short on a few resistances, this can be a good place to patch them up as we don't really need any expensive jewel modifiers.


Instant life flask, silver flask and quicksilver are our staples.
Note that we can still use a remove-bleed flask even with a "immune to corrupting blood" jewel, as this doesn't make us immune to rupture and other bleeds.

The last flask is optional - a Jade, Quartz or Basalt is a good addition. I choose a Jade or Quartz with a high (90%+) increased evasion roll.

Witchfire Brew is used for mapping and most content. If you are not going to swap out Asenath's gloves, you can swap Witchfire Brew during boss fights for a Basalt or other defensive flask such as Sapphire or Ruby.

Aspect of the Spider/Crab/Avian:
We can fit one of these into the endgame build. It's your choice which you choose.

- Aspect of the spider increases damage taken by the target, but you need to stand close-by. Also, the increased damage taken debuff is not as useful for us since we already have a large amount of increased damaged taken by the target via Wither and Sniper's Mark. It also provides a defensive layer by applying spider webs if enemies get too close, which slows them down and allows you to reposition. I think overall, this is a nice mix of offensive and defensive bonuses and is the default recommendation.

- Aspect of the crab provides high physical mitigation, but you lose this bonus if you take physical damage. This synergises fairly well with our dodge and evasion, as the first hit that makes it through will be mitigated a lot. However, this provides no benefit at all once the charges have dropped and thus the mitigation can vary from very powerful to useless and is inconsistent. I believe this might be a good defensive option, especially for bosses where you rarely get hit, but the hits are massive.

- Aspect of the avian provides alternating buffs that give a 10% chance to deal double damage for your minions, and 10% movement speed for both you and your minions. I don't really like this bonus and the nature of the alternating buffs, but it is an option if you enjoy this playstyle.

Stat Priorities:

We don't need many stats on gear. Therefore aim for high life on everything (t1 rolls if possible) and elemental resistances.
Watch out for your intelligence requirements - especially while levelling, you might need quite a lot of intelligence on your amulet or jewellery.


You can start this build on zero budget. I used it as a league starter in Synthesis and Legion and it worked well.

Your priority for upgrades should be as follows:
- Poet's Pen
- Gluttony Belt

- Buy a pair of The Embalmer rare gloves, put your Herald of Agony in here (HoA + Minion Damage + Damage on Full Life + Maim/Vicious Projectiles)
--- OR ---
- Buying a minion damage, +2 minion helm (see gear discussion). If this is more than a few chaos in the current league, it may be worth completely skipping and going straight to your endgame helm.

- Buying a Witchfire Brew flask

At this point you can look into the following options:

- Amulet upgrade - see Amulet gear discussion
- Crafting or buying a +3 minion level/minion damage elder helmet (approx. 15% more damage over a +2 minion level/minion damage helmet - all content can be completed without one)
- Level 21 Herald of Agony
- Level 21 soulrend for slightly higher clear speed

Last edited by Bobblybook on Jan 5, 2021, 1:02:41 PM
Last bumped on Oct 3, 2020, 1:57:27 AM

Gems with beneficial alternate quality are shown. Any particularly important ones are mentioned in each section.

For those unfamiliar with the recipe, you can vendor a level 20, uncorrupted gem along with one Gemcutter's Prism to get back a 20% level 1 version of the gem. This is worth doing for all your gems once they hit level 20, except for Vile Toxins, whose quality bonus is completely irrelevant for our build.

The goal is to eventually have level 20, quality 20% on all gems and then (optionally) vaal orb them to try and get an additional bonus. For a select few gems that scale very well with gem levels, you want to make sure you use level 21 (buy it if necessary). These are:

- Herald of Agony (buy lvl 21, 20% if possible. Otherwise lvl 21, any% is acceptable. The level matters much more than the quality.
- Vile Toxins buy lvl 21, 0%. Grants 5% MORE damage compared to lvl 20, the quality bonus does nothing.
- Soulrend (buy lvl 21, 20% if possible. Otherwise lvl 21, any% is acceptable. The level matters more than the quality.

[Body Armour] Barrage

Anomalous Poison is important to cap our poison chance.

Blind/Knockback are interchangable. I am liking Blind, once I equip some Asenath's gloves (which give blind) I will likely switch to Knockback. You can drop this gem before you have a 6-link.

Keep Barrage level 1 to reduce the mana cost. We don't lose any damage from doing this as our damage comes from Soulrend.

Make sure to turn on "Always attack without moving" for Barrage (click the skill on your bar, click on the toggle at the top).

[Helmet] Herald of Agony

Herald of Agony must go in the helmet! It can be used in The Embalmer gloves prior to crafting/buying a helm.

Mapping (choose one):

Bossing (choose one):

Level 21 Herald of Agony is an endgame priority.

Before switching to a helm with "supported by level x Minion Damage", replace Vicious Projectiles with Minion Damage support.

Fork can be replaced with Chain or Pierce, as you prefer. I like chain for levelling, but it has a high mana multiplier and you will not be able to use it late game without getting additional mana reservation reduction, or dropping Aspect of the Spider.
With Divergent quality, Fork has 1 pierce, therefore this will give the herald one pierce and a fork, in addition to his base 3 projectiles. I think this will be the nicest setup, but feel free to experiment. Pierce may feel nicer to you, especially on high density maps. It also has a lower mana multiplier, if you prefer to have a larger mana pool while mapping.

Predator allows you to direct the spider to attack specific targets. You may find this very useful, but it's another button to press during boss fights and requires you to keep the debuff on the target for optimal damage output.
Vile toxins provides a little less damage but is completely automated, however it doesn't provide direct control over targeting. Vile Toxins also provides more dps than Predator if you fail to keep the predator debuff up constantly. This is personal preference, feel free to try both.

I will likely use Predator, but since it's a blue socket, it's not easy to gem swap until you get a white socket on your helm. I do not recommend going to this expense/effort until you have a helm you will use for a long time (I am waiting for my endgame helm).

Note that Vile Toxins does not benefit at all from quality (it only increases poison damage), nor any of the new alternate qualities. However, level 21 gem adds 5% more damage. Therefore make sure you buy a level 21 Vile Toxins if you will use Vile Toxins as your 4th link.

[Boots] Utility + Movement

Portal optional. I like it a lot for mapping.

Optional: Divergent quality Dash (2 seconds phasing)
Optional: Divergent quality Second Wind (life regen on use, counteracts our gluttony belt effect)

Only Dash and Second Wind need to be linked.

[Gloves] Defensive + Golem

If you are using a glove swap for bosses, level two sets of these gems so that you don't need to constantly swap them between gloves, as that's incredibly tedious.

You can use various gem level setups for this combo. Everyone seems to have their own preference, just make sure that whatever you choose, the level requirement for the spells is as high as possible while staying below or equal to CwDT's level requirement.

I recommend CWDT(3), IC(5) while gearing. Once you get around 5.5-6k life, I like to move up to CWDT(11), IC(13). Feel free to experiment, just make sure to adjust the golem's level also to make sure it triggers too. Feeding Frenzy should be levelled to maximum.

Common combinations include:
CWDT(1), IC(3)
CWDT(3), IC(5)
CWDT(11), IC(13)
CWDT(20), IC(20)

Just remember that Immortal Call has a cooldown, so once it procs, it cannot activate again for a few seconds, so you generally want it to proc when you take a large hit. I generally find that level 1 CwDT procs a little too often for my tastes, just from being hit from any random white skeleton. This means it won't be available for a big hit that may occur right after this.

Some people have a formula for choosing this point, such as "choose a value of CwDT equal to 1/4 of your life pool" or similar. Feel free to play around with the levels and use what you prefer. If it feels like it's proccing too easily and being "wasted", level it up a bit. If it feels like it's not activating enough when you take substantial damage, use a lower level.

You can verify that it is working correctly if the Immortal Call skill is greyed out on your skill bar and unable to be cast manually.

[Weapon 1] Soulrend (Mapping)

Level 21 Soulrend will increase clear speed slightly.

[Shield 1] Movement/Buffs (Mapping)

Level 5 Arcane Surge.

I like to bind Phase Run to a mouse button for easy use between packs.

If you only use Dash to jump ledges/gaps and do not use it for general mapping, you can try Withering Step instead of Phase Run.

[Weapon 2] Buffs/Debuffs (Bossing)

[Shield 2] Wither Totem


Herald of agony has low base damage, but extremely high internal scaling (level 21 gem values):
- 2040-3760 added physical damage at 40 virulence stacks (!!!)
- 360% increased physical damage
- 160% increased attack speed

For this reason, adding 15% increased minion damage, or 9-15 added physical damage, or 8% attack speed to the herald has very little impact on it's final dps.

The best way to scale the herald's damage is by multiplying the damage it deals:

- "more" multipliers, eg. chance to deal double damage, cluster jewels, support gems

- "% phys damage added as x" damage bonuses

- gem levels, especially 20->21 and 22->23 as these hit a new scaling breakpoint on the attack speed and %phys per virulence modifiers respectively.

- increasing damage taken by the target

Minion accuracy is not as important for Herald of Agony as it appears to have very high base accuracy. It's still worth taking the % increase nodes on the tree, but minions like SRS or Animate Weapon benefit far more from accuracy. Therefore flat accuracy items such as Command of the Pit are not worth stacking on this build.


[3.12] Uber Elder
[3.12] Shaper

[3.12] Sirus (A8)
[3.12] Sirus (A7) - Messy fight by me, but shows the insane flask sustain for pathfinder and Sniper's Mark
[3.12] 83 Eradicator
[3.12] 83 Catarina (Mastermind)

[3.12] Baran (A6)
[3.12] Shaper
[3.12] Pale Court
[3.12] T16 Pit of the Chimera
[3.12] T16 Infested Valley
[3.12] T15 Channel (juiced, 120% quant)
[3.12] T15 Crystal Ore (juiced, 120% quant)

Heist Contracts:
[3.12] Twins Contract
[3.12] 83 Bunker
[3.12] 83 Laboratory
[3.12] 83 Repository
[3.12] 83 Smuggler's Den
[3.12] 83 Smuggler's Den

Older videos:
[3.7] Red Elder
[3.7] Elder guardians (Constrictor)
[3.7] Elder guardians (Enslaver)
[3.7] Elder guardians (Eradicator)
[3.7] Elder guardians (Purifier)

[3.7] Legion bosses (2 stones)
I didn't know what I was doing here so there was a lot of running around, and server lagged at the start. I'll record a 4-stone one when I do it.

[3.7] Crystal Ore (t14, juiced up)
This boss fight is annoying because it's hard to control who the crawler attacks when there are immune enemies. This map also had '60% chance to avoid poison' which I didn't even notice until I uploaded the video, and you can see my Virulence stacks still capped out.

The following 3.7 videos were done with a 4L, level 20 HoA with no additional minion levels, a 4L Barrage without Life Gain on Hit and a level 19 Soulrend.
[3.7] Caldera (t15)
[3.7] Crystal Ore (t14)
[3.7] Terrace (t13)
[3.7] Park (t12)

[3.6] Defiled Cathedral (t15)
[3.6] Lava Lake (t15)
[3.6] Shaper
[3.6] Red Elder - This video is a bit glitchy, sorry. Something messed up with the encoder.

FAQ (in progress):

Why soulrend and not ED/x spell?

The difficulty with Poet's Pen is that you get to use a spell that gets spammed, but has relatively low links. It's a 3L, but it has +3 bonus levels to the socketed spell so you can think of it as a 3.5/4L. This means that you need to use a spell that benefits from being spammed.

Pretty much any direct damaging spell is good to use. ED is not, because with ED you cannot stack the debuff multiple times. Therefore only your hardest hitting ED debuff will be damaging an enemy.

This means you want to scale the damage as high as possible, and not invest much into the cast rate as it doesn't do anything for the dps. This is the opposite to what Poet's Pen is all about.

Soulrend is a similar idea, however the debuff time is so low that it doesn't really overlap itself in the same way as it would if you used ED.

Also, the base damage is very high, which is great for us as this scales well with gem levels, which we get from Poet's Pen.

If you swap in ED in Path of Building, you will see that it really doesn't do a whole lot of damage without actually investing into spell damage. If a future update introduces a direct-damaging chaos spell (some sort of chaos bolt or similar), it will probably be even better than soulrend for this build.

15 Wither stacks?? Someone contact Bullshit Builds™!!!!111
With multiple totems and skill duration on the tree, wither stacks incredibly fast. It's fairly trivial with this setup to reach maximum stacks of wither very fast and maintain it easily on bosses, so I don't think it's an unreasonable configuration.

The wither totems have a cast time of 0.28 sec, for a cast rate of 3.57/sec.
The wither debuff has a duration of 3.3 sec.
With three totems up, this is a total of 10.57 stacks of wither/sec. Therefore it takes 1.42 seconds to stack wither from 0 stacks to maximum (15).

If using just a single drop of totems (two), this becomes 7.14 stacks/sec for a total ramp time of 2.1 seconds.

If you want to drop wither stacks to 5 or 10 to check the numbers, go ahead.

Why no withering touch on either barrage or Herald? surely it's OP!

Withering Touch is a nice concept and I desperately wanted to fit it into either of these. Either into barrage, where the on-hit aspect would keep it up, or on herald, where you get the added-as-chaos bonus as well, which is very good. Unfortunately, the gem sucks.

The application rate is too low. Even if it were 100% chance, you would have to hit the target 15 times to stack wither. This is annoying to ramp during messy boss fights, especially if you're at range and your barrage is spraying all over the place.

However, the proc chance is only 25%. This means you have to hit a target 60 times to get your wither stacks to 15 (and that's only an average - if you get an unlucky streak it could easily be way more). It's just never going to realistically work - the wither stacks will always be low and nowhere near full. This gem is only really useful when the gem provides good damage by itself, and the wither effect is just an extra bonus. For this build it's much better to get reliable, fast wither via the totem, use the extra gem slot for barrage for LGoH, and buff your herald with other better damage support gems.

It's sad because this gem seems like it's basically made for this build, and even then it's woefully crap. Maybe if they do something about it in the future, it could be a contender.
Last edited by Bobblybook on Jan 5, 2021, 1:05:37 PM
I have done this build with help from OP messaging him questions and such. It is a very good build. You do feel a bit squishy but it's manageable. I just hit lvl 90 with it today and have done up to t15 maps and a t13 elder no problem. I did all the guardians and elder himself deathless.

I've played poets pen the past 2 leagues and was looking for a build to replace my last 2 since the poet's pen nerfs. Decided to also give Herald of Agony a try so this build was a nice fit for me and what I wanted.

Can't be inflicted with corrupted blood Volley Fire, and Poet's Pen is cheap so give it a try.:D
What pantheons are you using? I felt squishy while levelling, but once I had a cwdt ic setup, jade flask, stibnite (witchfire), endurance charges, lunaris pantheon, immunity to elemental status ailments (ascendancy), knockback, and my life sorted out, it's one of the least squishy rangers I have played.

Life gain on hit 6th link should add a lot of healing as well if you feel that it's needed.
Last edited by Bobblybook on Mar 28, 2019, 12:31:20 PM
Specced into this yesterday. Very smooth gameplay with good single target.

Btw, Empower 4 is better than maim for herald of agony. Barrage is best kept at lvl 1 to minimize mana costs.

Thanks for guide.
nebel wrote:
Btw, Empower 4 is better than maim for herald of agony. Barrage is best kept at lvl 1 to minimize mana costs.

Thanks for guide.

This is true, but Maim beats Empower level 3. They are both red gems so if you can get your hands on an empower 4, by all means use it.

Empower also has a higher mana multiplier (125% vs 115%) which may cause some problems, especially if you have a 6L with LGoH.

I didn't think about the level 1 barrage, thanks. I initially was trying to scale poison so I levelled it up, but I will make a note of that somewhere in the guide.
Last edited by Bobblybook on Mar 29, 2019, 2:30:05 AM
Good build, any idea how to make Master Alchemist more useful other than immune elemental ailments?
mithras001 wrote:
Good build, any idea how to make Master Alchemist more useful other than immune elemental ailments?

Get flat fire on some jewel/ring. Use cinderswallow urn flask. Ignited mobs will take 10% increased damage.
mithras001 wrote:
Good build, any idea how to make Master Alchemist more useful other than immune elemental ailments?

You can't really. 40% increased ele dmg is not a lot even for ele builds since it's increased, not more. So don't feel bad about not making use of that portion of the node.

If you want more damage, Nature's Adrenaline is better to take over Master Alchemist, but then you have to roll an anti-freeze flask. I think you get more damage from taking Master Alchemist and freeing up a flask slot for a unique flask instead.
Last edited by Bobblybook on Apr 24, 2019, 10:12:04 AM
For the first time in my 2.5k hours of PoE, that I have spent playing other peoples builds, I have to comment to a build I play. This build is awesome!
This is not the easiest build to get going at the very beginning, but once it starts (around lv16 when you get HoA running) it gets super fun! As a note, I had my poet's pen equipped at the lvl 12, right when you can start using it.
For the first time ever I think I found a build I'll be playing another round in next league. Thank you for this!
Edit: Red elder down, Shaper down, and no problem whatsoever in neither of them.
Last edited by henjoi on May 10, 2019, 1:05:28 PM

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