Stats shown with passives and Blood of Dreeg active.
I will go into detail on the skills selected here, attributes, devotion route taken, gearing selected and where to find the pieces in the levelling section further down so don’t worry if you’re a new player and none of it makes sense to you for now.
Nothing special, I intentionally did not spend a lot of time looking for affixes or crafting and rolled with what I found as quickly as I could. There is plenty of room for improvement.
This guide is for players who want to create and play a more malevolent caster from early on to end game focused around the Occultist and Demolitionist masteries and Chaos damage. There is some start up for it at the beginning in acquiring the right weapon(s) but once it gets rolling, it is considerably powerful in terms of area damage, health recovery and overall satisfying to play.
I will assume that players reading and following have some experience with the game already that I don’t need to explain core game mechanics like devotion. For anyone uncertain, I would recommend perusing the official game guide and the Occultist and Demolitionist mastery skills first for a brief overview and to try the game out for sometime to get their feet wet.
With that all said, lets get into things.
Level 1 to 30
Comments: The start is fairly slow with only 1 cooldown skill. If you want something else to do, you can add Fireblast/Greater Fireblast in at Level 5 and 15 respectively and drop both when you feel comfortable with your mastery skillset. Be aware that they may drain your energy quickly early on for awhile.
- Start as Occultist and max Dreeg’s Evil Eye, Blood Burst and Focused Gaze and use it for the first ~15 levels or so. The Acid/Poison damage should melt things nicely as you run around enemies.
- When you are level 14 and have a Bloodsworn Scepter (more on that in Equipment below), respec your skill points to 25 points in Occultist’s mastery bar, 2 points in Sigil of Consumption and max Destruction. These will be your bread-and-butter skill for a long time. Take note that they do stack so placing them as they come off of cooldown is advised to maximise damage output.
- Steadily put points into Sigil of Consumption as necessary. When you hit a point where you feel you are using up too much energy, move onto the next pointer. As a tip, look out for caster gear with energy regeneration (hats, chest pieces, off hands, rings, amulets) to cope. If you have Ectoplasms, those will make maxing it a breeze. Don’t worry if you don’t, these become available pretty early on after Krieg from ghost enemies killed inside of the cave by Crumbling Watch.
- Take the Demolitionist mastery and put points in it until 10 points. Put a point into Blackwater Cocktail and High Potency. It’ll make for a fine devotion bind and reduce the physical damage you take. It doesn’t seem as important now but the need for it will increase as you push into the higher levels.
- Continue putting points into Demolitionist’s mastery bar until 20 points. Stop there and max Demon Fire. Not as powerful as your Sigils but the extra damage is welcome.
- Your skills at Level 30 should look similar to this: Pyromancer, Level 100 (GD 220.127.116.11) - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Comments: In addition to the tips below. I recommend new players to set their loot filter to hide Common and Magic-tier items once they have something equipped in every equipment slot except for relics (the one to the left of your belt). I personally make the change to my filter at around level 10.
In general, you want to look for equipment that provides resistances and +% Chaos damage, preferably together. These often appear on rare and above equipment hence why you only want to search for them, excess Rares also sell for a nice amount. Take any components found on the ground to a Blacksmith and craft them into components that provide more useful stats like resistances.
- Pick up any off-hand as soon as possible, preferably with % Acid/Poison damage while you are using Dreeg’s Eye and % Chaos damage after you move to Sigils.
- At Level 14, you want to get your hands on a Bloodsworn Scepter. Affixes don’t matter.
- Bloodsworn Scepters can be acquired either by:
- Farming one from the Bloodsworn in Burrwitch Outskirts just outside and inside Depraved Sanctuary. Bloodsworn Priests and Zealots in the area will have a chance of dropping one.
- Buying one form Benevald in the Blood Grove. If you have used a merit to unlock the rift gates in lower difficulties, rift straight to the one in the middle of the area.
- While passing through the Mountain Deeps, try to pick up a Vampiric Bonewall to enable an extra 2 Sigils on your stack and make all of them more potent.
- If you are able, I’d recommend crafting and using the Corruption relic.
- Put a point into the Crossroads Eldritch/Green node and take Eye of the Guardian. Bind Guardian’s Gaze at the end to Sigil of Consumption if you do not have Blackwater Cocktail yet. Swap it to Blackwater Cocktail when it becomes available and revel in the eyes.
- Afterwards, respec your Crossroads Eldritch point and put it into the Crossroads Chaos/Red node. Fill out Vulture.
- Respec the Crossroads Chaos node, then take the Hawk constellation.
- Complete Solael’s Witchblade. Bind Eldritch Fire at the end of it to Sigil of Consumption. Guardian’s Gaze should be on Blackwater Cocktail by this point.
Level 31 to 50
Comments: Continuing through Demolitionist to the end picking up some useful skills/modifiers to increase the damage our Sigils deal. We’ll also return to Occultist afterwards and begin to work on it.
- Keep pushing through Demolitionist. Stop at Agonizing Flames and max it. Everything that sits inside of your Fire will take more Chaos damage with it. More damage means more life steal.
- Continue through the Demolitionist mastery bar until you reach the end. Put a point into Thermite Mine and max Hellfire Mine. Same as Agonizing Flames, more damage and life steal all around is never a bad thing.
- Back on the Occultist side, put points in Blood of Dreeg until it is maxed. Keep it on a close key you know you can/will press frequently. You want the buff up all the time to benefit from the health regen/offensive ability. You can also use it as a heal to quickly recover a chunk of health.
- Your skills at level 50 should look similar to this: Pyromancer, Level 100 (GD 18.104.22.168) - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
- Apply a Symbol of Solael component to your Scepter and use the skill on it alongside your Sigils and Fire.
- Optionally, you can upgrade your Corruption relic to a Terror. Don’t worry if you can’t make it, Corruption will last you until the higher levels just fine.
- While passing through Blood Grove. You can consider upgrading your Bloodsworn Scepter to a higher-leveled version with bigger % damage bonuses at Benevald. Skill bonuses/modifiers to Sigil won’t change.
- At Level 50, some gear with Chaos damage and Aether/Chaos resistance becomes available at the Black Legion’s faction quartermaster at Respected reputation, namely:
- Complete the Spider, Raven and Viper constellations. Order does not necessarily matter. Personal preference for me was Spider → Raven → Viper.
Level 51 to 85
Comments: At this point, you have a solid base for the build to operate on. Some time and levels are spent working on more defensive stats as that has been neglected in favour of life stealing with Sigil of Consumption. We will also progress through the Occultist mastery bar to the end and begin working on Possession.
- Max Blast Shield on the Demolitionist side after Blood of Dreeg. A nice safety net/boost to defence if our health ever dips too low that is available relatively often.
- Put points into the Occultist mastery bar until you reach Aspect of the Guardian. Max it. It’ll take care of finding Acid resistance on gear for you and mean you take less damage from Physical damage. Valuable stats.
- Continue through the mastery bar until you reach the end and max Possession. Damage, resistance and less damage taken is all around a welcome addition.
- Your skills at 85 should look similar to this: Pyromancer, Level 100 (GD 22.214.171.124) - Grim Dawn Build Calculator (Not counting the point in Doom Bolt mentioned below in Devotion).
- At level 65, some stellar gear from the Cult of Solael and Malmouth Resistance faction quartermasters open up at Respected. I recommend grabbing these:
- Solael Void Hood.
- Malmouth Tainted Mantle.
- Solael Void Vestments or Malmouth Tainted Vestments.
- It’s worth noting that faction quartermaster gear roll their stats every session. So if a faction piece you were going to buy has most of it’s stats on the low end of the stat range or you need that extra bit of health or resistance, you can exit to the main menu, start a new game and see if RNG has rolled it with better stats.
- Don’t get too overzealous with doing this while levelling though - don’t forget that you will eventually replace any equipment you find at this stage of the game later on.
Comments: Most of the devotion is in place. All that’s left is shoring up stats on constellations as well as working towards and taking Dying God for a significant power boost.
- Completing the last 3 constellations should open up the Abomination. Complete the right arm to Abominable Might. Put a point into Doom Bolt and bind Abominable Might to it.
- Put 2 skill points into Ulzuin’s Torch.
- Complete Eel and Lizard in any order. I personally did Eel → Lizard. Those should unlock Solemn Watcher. Complete that afterwards.
- Complete Dying God to Hungering Void and bind it to Solael’s Flame.
Level 86 to 100
Comments: Finalising some skills including investing in Doom Bolt for a damage boost in Ultimate and working towards final gear pieces for a preliminary end game budget setup.
- After Possession, max Doom Bolt. Up until Ultimate, Heroes/Bosses were handled pretty well by just our Sigils and any gear/devotion procs. Now though, a bigger source of damage will be warranted for putting dents in them.
- Put a point into Flame Touched and Temper. Then max Flame Touched. The offensive ability it provides will help us with hitting and critting enemies.
- Any remainder points at the end can go into Blackwater Cocktail for a bigger pool of Fire and so it’s up more consistently.
- Your skills at 100 should look similar to this: Pyromancer, Level 100 (GD 126.96.36.199) - Grim Dawn Build Calculator. Don’t worry about the 8 missing points or if you are missing more points yourself. Those are from quests and the Shattered Realm.
At level 90, a lot of faction gear becomes available. Some of which are upgraded versions of the gear pieces at level 65, some are completely new. It is spread between the Honoured reputation level for Barrowholm and Cult of Solael and Revered for Malmouth Resistance, Cult of Solael and Black Legion so you may want to stop and grind some reputation or bounties but it will be worth it in the end.
Before listing them, I’ll remind you again that you can re-roll faction quartermasters by re-sessioning for average or high-end stats on these. For levelling faction gear, it was less important but as you may be using these pieces for a significant amount of time and farming with it, you may want to consider taking the time to find some ok pieces all around.
The pieces available at Honoured are:
The pieces available at Revered are:
- Elite Solael Void Hood (Cult of Solael).
- Elite Solael Void Vestments (Cult of Solael).
- Malmouth Arcane Girdle (Malmouth Resistance). This one is a blueprint that has to be bought and learnt, then crafted at a Blacksmith.
- Elite Legion Greaves (Black Legion).
There are a number of Infrequents you want to look out for as well on your journey. If necessary, you can drop down to Elite to farm these if you have reached Level 94 but have not reached the area to farm a specific Infrequent from.
The affix-less setup that I presented at the beginning of the guide is what we will work towards. I recommend looking out for a single chunk of Elemental, Aether, Acid, Bleed and Vitality resistance where possible on affixes. Some health and defensive ability won’t hurt either, otherwise, Chaos damage is always a good fall-back.
Bloodsworn Scepter. I’d recommend just grabbing one for Chaos damage. Any one with as much % Chaos damage will do.
As mentioned at the beginning of the guide, Scepters can be farmed by Bloodsworn or bought from Benevald. I’d recommend just buying from Benevald personally.
Vampiric Bonewall. Notably, getting one with some Physical resistance via affixes like Durable or Enduring will help quite a bit with general sturdiness, otherwise it’s also not a bad idea to pick one up with some health, defensive ability or resistances. Shields are all around great for defensive stats.
Chronomancer is another option for cooldown reduction which benefits us as all our skills are cooldown-based (and it adds % Chaos damage), so improves our lifesteal over time. Of note is it also allows a 5th Sigil to be placed before the first expires. May be an alternative to physical resistance but will be somewhat less stable until you’re able to stack Sigils up in combat.
Solael-sect Legguards. I recommend farming these as early as possible as the run to the Guardian and drop rate make farming them somewhat of a slog. You don’t want to have the rest of your setup done and be relying on these to patch up the last 1 or 2 chunks of resistance with a specific affix. Get a pair you’re happy with early and build the rest of your equipment around them, not the other way around. I made this mistake so I am warning you not to do the same .
Solael-sect Legguards are found by killing the Guardian of Solael as part of the Hidden Path. If you need help reaching it, then try reading this article on the gamepedia.
Loghorrean’s Corruption. Similar to the Solael-sect Legguards, get a pair that you’re happy with and quickly.
These are found by killing the final base game Boss, the Loghorrean at the end of the Tomb of the Watchers.
Rylok’s Mark. Similar to the above, get one that fits with the gear you are putting together.
Rylok Marks are suitably dropped by Ryloks in the Void areas in Ashes of Malmouth. I recommend running from the nearby Ch’thonic portal north of Barrowholm to Lost Watch to search for them.
Craftables are what will round out the rest of what you need or require. It is worth noting Blacksmith bonuses as well. Every Smith has a pool of 3 unique stats they can bestow on crafted equipment (except relics), these can be viewed by hovering over the square next to the craft button in the Smith’s GUI. They are important as even though they are small individually, several bonuses add up to be worth it by the end.
There is a specific reason I am listing craftables last after Infrequents - it is because these should be your gap fillers. If after all of your Infrequent hunting you for example find you have a big hole in Aether resistance, this is where you will patch it up by for example looking for/crafting a piece of equipment with the Warding prefix.
- Malmouth Arcane Girdle as mentioned above in the faction section is a craftable gear piece. It requires 35 000 bits, 12 Scrap, 1 Scaled Hide and 1 Spined Carapace. Might be a bit pricey if you don’t have a supply of Scrap or bits.
- Redeemer Gauntlets are crafted at a Blacksmith underneath the “Enchanted Heavy Gloves” option at a high enough level. It requires approximately 5 000 bits and 2 Scrap. These can also be vendor farmed but I find Smiths are better when possible as bulk crafting will turn up more Rare affixes in my experience.
- If you have the blueprints for them, Emberguard Gauntlets or Plagueguard Grips can be used in place of Redeemer Handguards. The resistances to Bleed or Aether and Physical resistance they provide are more than welcome. The blueprint for them either drops randomly or can be bought from Benevald in his random selection of blueprints when you are above Level 90.
Finally, all of the gear you have bought and gathered can be culminated in the budget setup presented at the start of the guide. Some things to note on it:
- The affixes on your legs, belt, weapons, shoulders, handguards and medal are completely empty. I have already recommended what you should look for above.
- Do NOT try to copy the affixes I have ended up with in the setup I use. I seriously recommend working with whatever you find and piecing things together. Learning how to juggle resistances around to get everything up to a good number will make you a better theory crafter going forward. Feel free to modify armour augments as well if required.
- Components like Focusing Prism and Sanctified Bone have blueprints that are bought from Devil’s Crossing and Homestead’s faction quartermaster respectively. Everything else can be crafted straight from a Blacksmith or are found as drops from early on to end game that you may already have a few of by this point.
The final setup should allow you to begin farming Legendaries from Monster Totems or Roguelike dungeons so you can begin working on gathering stronger gear pieces.
For example, here are some screenshots of me completing Totems and Steps of Torment on Ultimate:
So you’ve likely farmed up a bunch of Legendaries at this point but which ones should you use?. I’ll go over some guides by other forum members or myself that you can start to move into and keep towards the same theme of a Chaos caster. May include Sigils, may not.
The Pianomancer by mad_lee. Focused on heavy Chaos cd skills like Doom Bolt + Chaos BWC + Chaos Canister Bomb (enabled by the Conduit) with Oblivion for filler damage/lifesteal.
I have to give thanks to several members in the community who already have made well-written and comprehensive beginner guides like @Stupid_Dragon, @Nery, @Maya, @malawiglenn and several others I can’t recall as of now. The amount of effort that has gone into the work they have made is phenomenal, i hope my own guide can live up to the bar that they have set.
Special thanks to @Dammitt for creating valuable resources in the item database, build calculator and world map that I’ll have used several times in the guide to better illustrate specific pointers. I don’t know how I would have made this guide or any of the others I’ve done without them.
Special thanks to @mad_lee for releasing an updated endgame Chaos caster Pyromancer for 2023 for anyone following this guide to work towards/move into.
Have any questions or don’t understand what to do somewhere? Feel free to comment below and ask. I’d also appreciate hearing thoughts from anyone that tries to follow the guide and level with it, not just beginners but seasoned players alike.