[3.8] Gryph's Volatile Dead Necromancer || Fun, Budget Friendly, Tanky, Millions of DPS

Hey guys! I'm going to introduce my league starter for 3.8!

Her name is Stupidity

This character has been one of the most fun builds I've ever played as well as being able to destroy the endgame. She works on a budget, her ceiling is the sky, and I am ever evolving her to be the best that she can be.

Welcome to my guide and thanks for looking Exile!

This build is aiming to abuse the new Necromancer Corpse oriented Ascendancies in conjunction with Cast When Damage Taken (CWDT from now on) setups and Scold's Bridle

I got lucky enough to pick this up day 1 of Blight :D

Whenever we use a skill we deal damage to ourselves. The idea is to then have a high enough mana cost to trigger CWDT with every cast. This is reached in one of two ways:

We either need to use Fevered mind with a 5L or 6L or have a 7L from the Weapon Note: Arcane Surge Supported Chest piece will also work.

Here's the process:

First, we self cast desecrate to give us a legal target for Volatile Dead.

Casting Volatile Dead then triggers our CWDT setups because of Scold's

CWDT-Desecrate-Spirit Offering-Spell Cascade
CWDT-Wave of Conviction-Curse on Hit-Flammability

The corpse generation let's us continuously cast VD for forever. Spirit Offering gives us ES RECOVERY ON EVERY CAST!

Not only does this prevent us from killing ourselves, but this gives us a net gain of ES recovered once we have reached enough base life and % ES+Life increases. (can be achieved by mid-70's or with good gear...or both)

Corpse pact Ascendancy gives us 2% increased cast speed per corpse consumed recently. This allows us to ramp up our casts per second VERY quickly with no investment otherwise. And while some may think to themselves "Self casting desecrate once in a while sounds awful." The truth of the matter is that your cast speed modifier gets to a point where you will likely never notice the occasional Desecrate cast beyond tapping the button.

TL:DR version:

Causes Self Damage, triggers CWDT. Desecrate is on CWDT.

Cast Unlinked Desecrate, Cast VD, trigger CWDT Desecrate, Cast VD, trigger CWDT Desecrate....etc...

That is how it works in a nutshell. Scold's is OP, get yours before a streamer decides to try it. xD

Pros n Cons

- Fun as Hell to play
- Clears all content with ease
- Crazy Recovery mechanics
- Uses interesting game mechanics to make you feel like a god
- Scales from Tabula budget to infinity and beyond so you always feel like you can do more to improve her
- Did I mention it's fun? :)

- Your PC will hate you, but it's worth it.
- This build can lag you out when there's too much going out. Typically this only happens in blight maps or crazy blight encounters, but you will have a drop in FPS on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure this is a server side issue though.
- She can be hard to get going and requires a bit of knowledge about the mechanics to smooth her out.
- Needs Uber Lab to REALLY start to shine. Cruel Lab required before Scold's can be equipped.

Tree Choices

There are three ways that I advocate playing this build and before we get started with all the little pieces (gear choices, for example), you will want to keep these in mind. These are basically just based on your budget/available gear.

1. Low Budget / League Start / Life focused.
Life based tree
My character with this tree at 91 (approximately the same)

This is the "Tabula and go" version. This tree is focused on getting as much life as possible to scale Spirit Offering. Basically using SO as a means of mitigating Scold's and getting some recovery from it. Gear requirements for this are minimal.

2. Medium Budget / Pure Hybrid / Non-Crit
Hybrid Tree
My character with with this version at level 92

I would say that this is the go-to version. Here we focus on grabbing more Energy Shield in the tree. This gives us a larger buffer to our life pool and overall more eHP than the life version. However to really shine you will want some ES on gear. This version has the most life of all three.

3. High Budget / Pure Hybrid / Crit Variant
Hybrid Crit Tree
My character with this setup at level 93

This particular variant is not recommended for leveling. I would use one of the other two versions until at least the low to mid 80's before even considering the swap. With the Crit it's assumed you have very good Hybrid gear. With this tree on my current Non-Crit gear I get roughly 2x my damage at the cost of going from 11.5k eHP to about 9.3k eHP. The damage multiplier is even more significant with a Crit Chest and/or Crit Staff.

Current PoB

This is my original theorycraft:

My Character at 93.

Spirit Offering ES+Arcane Surge Buff Effect+Essence Glutton Regen

Edit this onto a flask to imitate the buffs that PoB cannot currently calculate but are up on us 100% of the time(this is with a level 16 Arcane Surge):

===Spirit Offering ES/ES+Mana Regen+Arcane Surge buff effect===
Gain 15% of Maximum Life as Extra Maximum Energy Shield
4% Energy Shield Regenerated per Second
4.63% Mana Regenerated per second
12% more spell damage


Current Gear

Scold's Bridle is the only required piece. Everything else can be rares with high life+ES+resists.

Worth noting, while leveling before you have access to Scold's you can self cast Desecrate and play more traditionally. Still very strong.


Martyr of Innocence is a strong budget weapon.

Ideally you will want to use a Shaped Staff with level 16-20 Arcane Surge Support prefix. This gives us a 7L and enough of a mana cost to drop Fevered mind from our setup which boosts our recovery and frees up a jewel slot.

The perfect Weapons would be either a Fossil Crafted Staff with Arcane Surge + 20% More Spell Damage from Socketed Spells (Aetheric Fossils) or a multimodded one with Arcane Surge + 20% chance to deal double damage.

For Fossil crafting I would use Aetheric+Scorched
To get the Arcane Surge+Double Damage, alt spamming is sufficient. Once you hit it, get a Craicic Chimeral to imprint the Blue item before regaling. If you regal a bad mod, annul and hope you hit the bad mod. Once you're left with Jsut the two mods as a rare, you can multimod it.


Something like this is perfectly acceptable:

This is great if you're going Crit:

Ideally you'd craft "15-20% Chance to gain a frenzy charge when hit" from a shuddering fossil as well for 12% more damage from frenzy charges.

You can also get "Socketed Gems are supported by level 1 Arcane Surge" in this slot if you are using Martyr of Innocence or 1h+Shield.

So for crafting I recommend:

Pristine + Shuddering + Aetheric


Pristine + Shuddering (+ Bound is an option here for Aura Effect)

IF you are on one of the ES versions of the tree, I'd use Dense instead of Pristine as it will yield more eHP. It's also a much cheaper fossil to buy in bulk.

You will want to use shaped rares with Increased Cooldown Recovery Speed. This will help alleviate any "stuttering" from Scold's. That is, if you start casting faster than your CWDT Cooldown rate, then you will take an unmitigated hit from Scold's. This gets less and less noticeable as you get more effective health pool and better recovery mechanics. Still it is important to have some.


Starting off my #1 Choice is Soul Tether. You need a source of life leech for this to work though. This can be obtained from an Anger Watcher's Eye, Elder or Temple modded Amulet, or as a corruption on Scold's or amulet.

Spirit Offering still works to recover ES which completely alleviates the downside of this belt. Start your map, recover ES to full, and go forth and bathe your enemies in fire!...or whatever.

Ultimately a rare with crafted CDR, or a Shaped Rare with CDR, will be BiS...


You have a Watcher's Eye with "20-30 Energy Shield Gained when you hit an enemy while affected by Discipline"

Refer to the "Cool Down Recovery Rate and CWDT" section about how much CDR you need.


All you need here is as much life and resists as possible. The added damage to burning enemies is nice but not needed.


This is a good spot to get some Fire damage leeched as life. Can either be gotten as an Elder mod, Temple mod, or a corruption.
Life, ES%, Attributes, resists. Get what you can. Battle Rouse Enchant is fairly cheap and can help manage your mana sustain if you don't have an open prefix on one of your rings.

Prodigal perfection is mana and 50% increased damage as well as being fairly inexpensive.
For super Endgame, Aul's For Anger or Zealotry is going to be BiS for damage.

Zealotry is better as the modifiers on the amulet for blue skills are much stronger for us.


Wait for it....

Life+ES+Resists+Attributes....I do suggest using Unset rings as we are starved for slots. Especially after you get both 6Ls going.

Get as much dexterity on these as you can. You need 100 dex for level 21 VD.

If you are having a hard time sustaining Casting (usually late 60's-mid 70's) this is an excellent cheap option for the 8% of damage taken gained as mana over 4 seconds. This mod is insane for sustain. Can also be crafted as a prefix on rares.

Jewels/Watcher's Eye

Use this until you get your 7th link in chest or staff. This will let you proc CWDT with every cast. VERY IMPORTANT

Anger Fire pen/%Increased Fire Damage Both good for obvious reasons
Anger Fire Damage leeched as Life, this can be used as the singular source of Fire leeched to life. Replaces amulet mod.
Clarity %Mana Gained as extra maximum Energy Shield. This should be good for at least 1k Energy Shield. Very strong.
Discipline Energy Shield Gained on Hit is insane with ball lightning in your CWDT 6L. Very strong even without it.


A note about the videos:
Please refer to the trees and links in the guide not the ones in the videos that I show. I do this to portray the evolution of the build as it develops and to give a reference point as to which variant I am on currently. For example, the Shaper Video is the non-crit version whereas the Uber Elder Video is after I transitioned to crit. Thanks and enjoy!

Uber Elder Kill. 2 deaths to carelessness. Pretty smooth otherwise.

Proof of Concept, only level 67 this is day one of league and I only have done Normal and Cruel Lab.

Better proof of concept! Decided to record half way through the first map after I finished Uber lab. Day 2, Check it out!

Solo T2 Blighted Map

Level 80 Mastermind Fight:

T16 Phoenix with CWDT frostwall gimmick test:

T14 Red Elder Deletion

First Shaper Run of the league. There was spot where I was distracted for a few seconds. You'll figure it out :P

Gem Links
For the main setup, put these in your Tabula:
Volatile Dead - Conc Effect - Intensify - Spell Cascade - Combustion - Arcane Surge

If you have a Staff like:

Controlled Destruction becomes your 6th link.

If you also have a 5L/6L Chest, you can move Combustion to Wave of Conviction and use Elemental Focus Support.

CWDT Links

There are 3 main CastWhen Damage Taken setups:

CWDT - Desecrate - Spell Cascade - Spirit Offering

CWDT - Unearth - Greater Multiple Projectiles - (optional 4th link) Frost Wall

If you don't like Frost Wall you can use this slot for flame Dash, level 1 clarity, Phase Run, or self cast Desecrate.

CWDT - Wave of Conviction - Curse on Hit - Flammability -(5L) Combustion - (6L) Ball Lightning

If going Crit, use Assassin's mark instead.


After all the testing I've done, I have determined this to be the best setup:

Anger - Herald of Ash - Discipline - Enlighten 3

If you cannot afford Enlighten:

Anger - Herald of Ash - Flesh and Stone

Other options worth noting:
Zealotry with Aul's Amulet
Purity of Elements with Watcher's Eye for Chaos Resistance
Clarity if you have a relevant Watcher's Eye


You will want to have 2 slots for a Flame Dash and an unlinked Desecrate. Phase Run is also nice QoL.

VD will not cast without a target and so it is necessary to cast the occasional Desecrate to start the chain reaction while mapping and just before bosses. I would recommend having one or both of your rings be Unset for this purpose.

You can level as plain old VD+Desecrate. It's pretty smooth and budget friendly. Follow the same tree.

Or be boring and just level as a summoner (zzzzzzz....) :P


In this order:

Essence Glutton -> Mistress of Sacrifice -> Plaguebringer -> Corpse Pact

bandits: Kill All, if you are going crit, help Alira or kill all.

For Minor Pantheons, Soul of Gruthkul will give you 5% Phys mitigation all the time.
Soul of Shakari for extra defense against chaos damage and poison immunity
Upgraded Soul of Yugul can be good vs Uber Elder for 5% reduced cold damage taken.

Major Pantheons:
Brine King is my Go-to. We have a small-ish actual Life pool so having the stun immunity after getting stunned is very important. Fully upgrade this more max effect.

Managing Scold's Damge and Mana Sustain

CWDT level 1 requires us to deal 528 damage to ourselves to proc our spells.

Scold's deals 4x our mana cost to us. Which means we need a MINIMUM man cost of 132.

However, while 132 X 4 = 528, any physical mitigation that we have will reduce the damage that we take. That said on the 7L setup my mana cost is 162.

162 x 4 = 648, at this mana cost I can have up to 18% Physical damage reduction before CWDT stops proccing on every cast.

If you are on only a 6L, your mana cost will be around 100. This is why
is required until 7L is achieved.

The downside to this is that you will have a mana cost of around 200-220 for self damage of about 800 per cast.

Spirit Offering Consumes 5 Corpses for a bonus of 15% of maximum Life gained as Extra ES. You can add this mod to a flask in PoB to see how much you are recovering at any given time.

Cool Down Recovery Rate and CWDT

Let's start with a brief explanation:

Spells cast off of Cast When Damage Taken Support have a 250ms or .25s cool down. This means at most 4 casts per second. Due to our Ascendancy: Corpse Pact, we gain a MASSIVE boost to cast speed than can quickly outpace our CWDT if we are standing still and casting. Whenever we cast without Spirit Offering Proccing we will take that hit unmitigated, which at low levels especially can be dangerous. This becomes less and less of an issue as we level and get more HP.

There are 3 breakpoints of CDR that we want to hit. This is dependent on what gear/items you are using:

11% - 220ms or ~4.5 casts per second
22% - 200ms or 5 casts per second
30% - 190ms or ~5.26 casts per second

In a nutshell, if you are using soul tether+Leech combo, get 11% from your boots and move along.

22% is what we want to hit at a minimum otherwise. the advantage to this over 30% is the ease in acquiring a powerful belt with lots of Life+ES+Chaos Res as well as the option to use a Stygian Vise for an Abyssal Jewel.

30% requires a Shaper Belt with at least 15% (T2 CDR max Roll) or T1 CDR (16-20%) in conjunction with Shaper boots. These are incredibly hard to craft as the mod is quite rare and by extension any belts that are good will cost a small fortune. If you've literally got nothing else to spend your money on...go nuts.

Thank you for looking, I will continue to update this and make it more thorough as the league progresses.

Other Guides:
[3.8] Gryph's CI Vortex + Coldsnap Trickster || Uber Elder+Everything Else
Last edited by Gryphenprey on Sep 17, 2019, 2:50:03 PM
Last bumped on Sep 17, 2019, 3:30:42 PM
Ok. This is epic.
Trust your mind and strengthen your abilities!
MrsDeath_ wrote:
Ok. This is epic.

Yes, yes it is!


Added a better gameplay video of post-uber lab on day 2.
Updated the Gem Links section to include the 3 major CWDT setups
Added a note in the gear section regarding Cooldown Recovery

will continue to update!
Thank you for the update.

After playing it a bit, it feels kinda clunky? Unearth doesn't really go at the cursor but rather at your feet, and if your not keeping up with the VD, you wont get more corpses to keep VDing.

I end up having to cast desecrate pretty often, or get hit to trigger CWDT to continue VDing.

Perhaps it'll feel better after Uber Lab.
Last edited by FaytePGN on Sep 8, 2019, 3:20:14 AM
This looks pretty awesome. I played your Trickster Vortex/CI build all last league and loved it; he got me my first 40/40 league. I just reached maps with it again but was having a tough time getting it off the ground. Was feeling like I wanted to join the Necro meta and bam! This guide shows up!

So, I spent most of my currency, bought a Scold's and am on my way. Looking forward to seeing how this develops!
ILjXYZ wrote:
This looks pretty awesome. I played your Trickster Vortex/CI build all last league and loved it; he got me my first 40/40 league. I just reached maps with it again but was having a tough time getting it off the ground. Was feeling like I wanted to join the Necro meta and bam! This guide shows up!

So, I spent most of my currency, bought a Scold's and am on my way. Looking forward to seeing how this develops!

Nice! It's still a work in progress, but has been a blast to play and tinker with. Always happy to see people enjoying my Trickster guide too. =)

FaytePGN wrote:
Thank you for the update.

After playing it a bit, it feels kinda clunky? Unearth doesn't really go at the cursor but rather at your feet, and if your not keeping up with the VD, you wont get more corpses to keep VDing.

I end up having to cast desecrate pretty often, or get hit to trigger CWDT to continue VDing.

Perhaps it'll feel better after Uber Lab.

Yes, After having played this now for a while I can say a few things:

You have to self cast the unlinked desecrate often because VD requires a target to trigger. Mostly this is while mapping.

As for CWDT Triggers, everything is targeted at your feet, never at the cursor. This is because you are the source of the damage. It's weird.

I have found a nice rhythm to this, the trick really, is to keep your cursor close to yourself or, more accurately, the bodies you produce. When I'm mapping there's a lot of "Move forward, click where I came from" movement. I've gotten a feel for it (I got my rhythm) so it feels smooth, but it can definitely feel clunky until you get used to the play style.

And Uber Lab does make a big difference. The cast speed bonuses are huge.

Hope that helps a bit!
Last edited by Gryphenprey on Sep 8, 2019, 7:07:24 AM
This build is nuts! Super fun to play. Just got to maps and working on uberlab which is when this build will truly shine.

Things to note;

Voidbringers are good if you haven't 6 linked your VD yet and don't need to 100% increase from fevered mind.

Arctic armor messes up the initial cwdt desecrate if you're on the cusp of the threshold.

Last edited by gosumui on Sep 8, 2019, 12:47:16 PM
I did uber lab, it was amazing. I got increased cooldown recovery speed boots and the belt.

I was successfully able to crash my instance during a blight encounter, perhaps I spammed VD too hard.
FaytePGN wrote:
I did uber lab, it was amazing. I got increased cooldown recovery speed boots and the belt.

I was successfully able to crash my instance during a blight encounter, perhaps I spammed VD too hard.


Yeah I think going on the Pros and Cons list is:

CON: Not potato PC friendly.

I've crashed a couple blight maps with this. Solo'd a T2 with no crash though so there's that.

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