[] Beginner's Vitality Reaper

pic with all passive buffs, Bone Harvest and Dying God up


A remake of the budget Phantasmal Blades Reaper that was originally made and published by Sir Spanksalot, and later kept up to date by Malawiglenn. After some events it perished along with other Glenn’s works, so the original one is no longer available. I did promise to consider remaking it back then, and here it is. Better late than never I guess.

I say remake, but it isn’t a carbon copy and I don’t even have the original one left to compare. From what I heard it was actually levelled with Ravenous Earth, switching to Phantasmal Blades only later. While it’s certainly more efficient, my policy is to avoid such approach when reasonably possible. This is a genuine Phantasmal Blades build from 1 to 100.


Mechanics of Phantasmal Blades

Phantasmal Blades is a classic shotgun-type skill. Each projectile does it’s own damage, so if multiple projectiles hit the same target the damage will be bigger. Naturally the skill does maximum damage at point-blank range, although that range varies greatly depending on enemy’s physical size. Big enemies can receive full damage from all projectiles from quite afar while for small enemies like humans you really need to be almost face to face with them.

Note that it’s almost never efficient to go for max damage on individual targets when fighting crowds, especially in close quarters. Since the area of effect is pretty much a cone you’re not doing any damage to your flanks. You should always try to position yourself in such a way that as many targets are hit as possible, albeit that too is sometimes overruled by target priority concerns. The difficulty of playing a Phantasmal Blades build lies mostly in positioning.

When people say Phantasmal Blades they usually mean transmuted non-cooldown Phantasmal Blades with Frenetic Throw. Almost noone likes to play the cooldown version.

Frenetic Throw’s total damage penalty applies to all parts of the skill, meaning the damage of Heart Seeker and Nether Edge will be affected as well.

The damage per second shown on tooltip is per projectile. If you want to know your point-blank dps output you need to multiply the tooltip by the number of projectiles you’re throwing. An extra projectile is an incredible damage spike.

Phantasmal Blades got a small weapon damage part. With 26/16 in Phantasmal Blades and Frenetic Throw your effective weapon damage is 30% before the total damage penalty, so you can bump up your damage a bit if you’re using a two-handed weapon with high base damage. That increase would be about 10% at most.


Generic levelling description

Levels 1-20

Start with Nightblade. Phantasmal Blades with Frenetic Throw are available as early as level 5, but I really recommend getting a ranged weapon and Amarasta’s Blade Burst for early levels, then respec at level 9. It makes things early on much less of a drag.

You should abstain from putting more than one point into Phantasmal Blades and rush Heart Seeker instead. Not only Heart Seeker provides lifesteal and piercethrough among with damage, it’s energy scaling is very forgiving compared to main skill too.

2 1 into Nightblade bar, 2 into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
3 to 4 3 into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
5 to 8 3 into Nightblade bar
Kasparov reward 1 into Nightblade bar
9 1 point into Nightblade bar, 1 point Phantasmal Blades, 1 point Frenetic Throw
Respec -8 from Amarasta’s Blade Burst, +8 into Heart Seeker
10 to 11 2 into Heart Seeker, 1 into Phantasmal Armor
12 to 13 2 into Nightblade bar, 1 into Phantasmal Armor
14 1 into Nightblade bar, 2 into Phantasmal Armor
15 to 18 3 points into Anatomy of Murder
19 3 into Necromancer bar
20 2 into Necromancer bar, 1 into Spectral Binding

Note the Phantasmal Armor, it’s actually pretty important here. Thing is, until you get Ectoplasms energy problems will remain, and you might still run out of energy despite all the smart approach of investing into Heart Seeker rather than main skill. Phantasmal Armor is here to help with that, it has energy leech retaliation. The downside is it requires adjustments to how you play – retaliation only works against melee attackers, so you just need to learn to kill ranged first and let remaining melees to hit you a few times to recharge your energy bar before finishing them off. The more melees hitting you the faster you’re regaining your energy since the effect doesn’t have a cooldown.

Beginner’s Vitality Reaper - level 20 Snapshot

Levels 21-35

Early 20’s is when you’ll probably kill Warden Krieg and move on into Arkovia, so you’ll start meeting Arkovian ghost enemies. Their common drop is Ectoplasm, which is the best component for solving early game energy issues. Once you have 2-3 Ectoplasms socketed you can start putting more points into Phantasmal Blades itself (8/16 is a nice breakpoint).

Another thing I recommend doing is to choose to keep Rover’s relic for yourself during The Lost Elder quest. It’s a great relic for energy management.

If you’re lucky you’ll also get a Spectral Arbalest drop too, if that happens you’re golden.

21 to 23 3 into Necromancer bar
24 1 into Necromancer, 2 into Spectral Wrath
25 to 26 3 into Spectral Wrath
27 2 into Spectral Wrath, 1 into Necromancer bar
Running out of Energy? No - put points into Phantasmal Blades;
Yes - put points into Necromancer bar.

At level 35 buy yourself Devil’s Cuirass and Devil’s Spaulders from Devil’s Crossing Quartermaster if you don’t have anything better by this point. Alternatively Rhowari Vestments and Rhowari Mantle from Rover’s Quartermaster. Basically a choice between Offensive ability and %damage.

Beginner’s Vitality Reaper - level 35 Snapshot

Levels 36-50

Pretty much same as what you’ve been doing before that:

If Then
Running out of Energy? No - put points into Phantasmal Blades;
Yes - see below.
Necromancer bar maxed out? No - put points into Necromancer bar;
Yes - see below.
Harbinger of Souls maxed out? No - put points into Harbinger of Souls;
Yes - put points into Pneumatic Burst

It would be best if you somehow reach Honored reputation with Order of Death’s Vigil, because they sell impressive Death’s Life Seal. A couple of them will serve you until very late into the game.

Beginner’s Vitality Reaper - level 50 Snapshot

Levels 51-65

This is a level range when you’ll finally reach Scales of Ulcama in devotions and get the Tip the Scales proc. What that means is your damage limit imposed by energy will be gradually lifted from now on as Tip the Scales get experience. Same idea as previously - if your energy sustain feels okay put points into Phantasmal Blades, if not then something else.

One thing you can do to improve energy sustain a bit is to get Symbol of Solael into weapon. Not only it’ll give you a castable curse that has -10% vitality resistance, but it also has 33% energy absorption, which would allow you to restore energy not only from enemy’s melee attacks via Phantasmal Armor, but also from their spells.

Here I start investing into defensive mechanics – Veil of Shadow, Ill Omen and Blood Boil. Picking Ill Omen is pretty obvious because it’s a 25% damage reduction debuff upon enemies that spreads automatically. Veil of Shadow on the other hand may look questionable, which demands explanation. Leaving aside that it provides a substantial OA debuff it’s also a stackable total speed reduction aura. Together with stackable movement speed reduction from Ill Omen and stackable attack speed reduction from Spectral Wrath offers Reaper an additional layer of defense. A supposedly frail class with cone attack makes one naturally think about the danger of getting surrounded by fast enemies – hell no, unless they stunlock you they are mere batteries to recharge your energy via Phantasmal Armor.

Blood Boil only makes sense if you have Packla’s Visage, otherwise it’s better to invest points elsewhere.

Level 65 is a good opportunity to buy some faction gear from Coven, Barrowholm, Malmouth and cults. Solael’s Bloodshroud Mantle from Cult of Solael is especially useful.

Beginner’s Vitality Reaper, level 65 Snapshot

Levels 66-75

Beginning to move towards Nether Edge now since Lunal’Valgoth’s Waistguard is very much reachable, as well as Offensive Ability finally jumping above the curve due to devotions.

Alternatively you can pick up Shadow Dance to make yourself more durable.

If that’s your first character then your focus should shift from getting levels to getting reputation with factions (Coven, Cults, Barrowholm, The Black Legion and Malmouth Resistance). Levels will be trivial later on as you switch to Ultimate, reputation on the other hand is a long and tedious grind.

Beginner’s Vitality Reaper - level 75 Snapshot

Levels 76-84

Here I got Soul Harvest and Call of the Grave to boost my damage output even further. Soul Harvest may seem very strange choice at glance, but it does boost dps output of Phantasmal Blades by about 7%.


Levels 85-90

Maxed Shadow Dance, spare points went into Nightblade mastery bar for stats.


Levels 91-100

This is where you just start polishing your build and improve affix rolls on your items.


This is a fairly non-standard vitality devotion setup, at least I haven’t seen anything similar. It’s a build using 2H crossbow, albeit only out of necessity, so it takes Kraken for better damage. There’s rarely a reason not to take Kraken on a 2H build, even if your 2H is just a stat stick. Because energy management with 2H will be hard otherwise I’m getting Scales of Ulcama, which doubles as a flat RR constellation. Rattosh and Dying God is the usual pair for vitality builds. Rattosh proc absolutely must be on Phantasmal Blades because you want it applied as soon as possible. I tried it on Ill Omen or whatever else, it’s bad.

Fitting full Wendigo is actually possible if you compromise for Scarab instead of Solemn Watcher and get Spider instead of Rat and Hawk, but then the build will have like 50 less OA and 100 less DA, which I don’t consider to be a good trade off.

Another modification you can do is to trade Jackal and Wendigo for Ghoul, and the spare point goes into whatever you fancy. Ghoul’s proc is amazing, but yet again I don’t think it’s worth it over 10% casting speed and 6% physical resistance, especially since it’s not a cdr build.

  1. Crossroads (green)
  2. Bat (bind Twin Fang to Phantasmal Blades)
  3. Hawk
  4. Crossroads (blue)
  5. Eel
  6. Kraken
  7. Crossroads (yellow)
  8. Panther
  9. Lotus
  10. Lion
  11. Scales of Ulcama
  12. Solemn Watcher
  13. Remove Lion
  14. Remove Crossroads (yellow)
  15. Jackal
  16. Rattosh the Veilwarden (bind proc to Phantasmal Blades)
  17. Rat
  18. Remove Bat
  19. Crossroads (red)
  20. Dying God (without flat chaos node)
  21. Wendigo (3 nodes)
Endgame skill min-maxing

Phantasmal Blades – main skill, max. 24/16 is where you gain last +1 projectile, so you want to have at least that much somehow;
Heart Seeker – max, adds damage and utility to Phantasmal Blades;
Nether Edge – max, but somewhat less important, because raising it high enough and finding conversions for it at the same time may prove difficult.

Spectral Binding – at least one point to enable Spectral Wrath, otherwise not terribly important. Possible investment for extra OA;
Spectral Wrath – max, the only resistance reduction skill.

Ill Omen – core defensive mechanic, keep at 10/10 since it doesn’t scale well.
Mark of Torment – core defensive mechanic, at least one point is mandatory, keep at 10/10 for optimal effect.
Veil of Shadow – secondary defensive mechanic, keep at 10/10.

Harbinger of Souls – max, important %damage and casting speed.

Anatomy of Murder – at least 12/12, can go higher since scaling is decent, but it’s pretty difficult to stack way up above 12.
Phantasmal Armor – CC resistances and some energy returns, can be anywhere between one hard point and 12+ depending on how much you need it.

Pneumatic Burst – keep at 12/12, personally I don’t think it’s OA scales reasonably well and the build isn’t really short on casting speed anyway. If going above 12 keep in mind that it’s best to stop at the even skill level because it offers an extra % of total speed.
Shadow Dance – keep at 12/12, same thing as Pneumatic Burst really, except DA on it scales much better.
Elemental Awakening – one point for elemental resistance.

Bone Harvest – one point to enable Soul Harvest;
Soul Harvest – max, offers slight damage boost to Phantasmal Blades. Not super improtant.

Call of the Grave – not super important, but I find it useful as a turbo button for more damage when I need it. Extra levels are useful, but don’t go out of your way to stack it way up.

Endgame Items & Farming

Weapon - Spectral Arbalest (GT Link)

  • Drops from arkovian crossbowman ghosts. Best way to farm it would be running Rhovena Kur in Arkovian Undercity since she has 50% chance to drop it.
  • Has level 20, 35, 52, 70, 84 and 94 versions.
  • Absolute fantasy affixes would be something like Essence Drinker's Spectral Arbalest of Piercing Darkness. Having just Piercing Darkness would already be pretty damn good though.

Chest - Elite Bysmiel Vile Vestments (GT Link)

  • Faction item, sold by Cult of Bysmiel quartermaster once you reach Revered.
  • Has non-elite version you can use while levelling.
  • Replaced with Mythical Demonslayer's Jacket later on.

Head - Fettan Mask (GT Link)

  • A once per difficulty pickup at Maw of Enaht
  • Has normal, elite and ultimate difficulty version, which are level 50, 75 and 94 respectively. Elite version is good for levelling while final setup should use version from Ultimate.

Shoulders - Elite Solael Bloodshroud Mantle (GT Link)

  • Faction item, sold by Cult of Solael quartermaster once you reach Revered.
  • Has non-elite version you can use while levelling.
  • Korvan Pauldrons (GT Link) with good affixes is what's usually used in high end version of a build.

Pants - Reaper’s Legguards (GT Link)

  • Drops from Reaper of the Lost. Since hunting Reaper of the Lost across Ugdenbog is pretty tiresome it's better to farm these pants in Shattered Realm.
  • Before that any random drop pants will do as a placeholder.

Hands - Emberguard Gauntlets (GT Link)

  • Craftable, recipe is a random drop, very common once you hit levels 90+.
  • Any random drop gloves will do as a placeholder.
  • Later in the game Valguur's Touch are usually used instead.

Boots - Stoneplate Greaves (GT Link)

  • Craftable, recipe is a random drop, very common once you hit levels 90+.
  • Any random drop boots will do as a placeholder.
  • Later in the game Mythical Boneshatter Treads are usually used instead.

Belt - Lunal’Valgoth’s Waistguard (GT Link)

  • Drops from Lunal'Valgoth, Steward of Darkness (map)
  • Has level 40, 55, 70, 84 and 94 versions.
  • Ideally with of Butchery. Good luck though, these belts are painful to farm.

Ring #1 - Mythical Cursebearer (GT Link)

  • Random world drop.
  • Best in slot.

Ring #2 - Death’s Life Seal (GT Link)

  • Faction item, sold by Order of Death's Vigil quartermaster once you reach Honored.
  • Later on typically replaced with either Mythical Deathlord's Band or Mythical Signet of the Fallen.

Amulet - Death-Watcher Pendant (GT Link)

  • Sold by Benevald, secret vendor in Blood Grove. Use the shop reset gimmick for max efficiency.
  • Has level 30, 50, 70, 84 and 94 versions.
  • Ideally with of Butchery.
  • Later on is typically replaced with Mythical Demonslayer's Defense.

Medal - Namadea’s Eye (GT Link)

  • Drops from Namadea the Screecher, which requires you to be enemies with Barrowholm to farm.
  • Has level 40, 55, 70, 84 and 94 versions.
  • Ideally with of Butchery.
  • Later on is typically replaced with Mark of Consumption.

Namadea farming run feat. Reaper of the Lost


I myself have a really mixed feelings about this build.

When it comes to sheer damage numbers then this build has highest single target damage out of all budget builds I made. What’s more amazing is it has built-in lifesteal. A marvel.

On another hand, it has concept of optimal range. The shotgun nature of the main skill means it’s bad vs faraway targets, which lowkey means it has mediocre AoE capability at best. One would expect such a skill is excellent in melee combat, but this is not quite true because fast melee enemies will try to encircle you. This is normally a boon for melee builds due to their wide attack arc but for Phantasmal Blades it means you’ll be dealing with them one at a time. Playing Phantasmal Blades is very much about overcoming these limitations by constantly repositioning yourself.

Because of that Phantasmal Blades is actually a very intense playstyle when it comes to player’s input. You’ll have high damage, but at the same time it will take remarkable effort to actually deliver it efficiently.


I see that you’re testing if people look at Grim Tools with that 27/16 PB…
Thanks for the build, it’s going to be very useful for players due to where Vitality PB stands in the endgame.


I know, but when it’s well past 2 am and I was asked to share at least something I just can’t be arsed to fix the small stuff. :slight_smile:

Much sarcasm, but Reaper is a popular query and PB reaper looked most reasonable. Not like cold DE or cold BH has a much better endgame standing.

Looks great so far dragon! How are these cross bows? I have found some which I consider be very good but never made build with them - I guess they are only good for poor people or can challenge Demonslayer gun + set?

I don’t really do high end building so I’m the wrong person to ask, but.

When it comes to PB isolated a build with Spectral Arbalest should come ahead. It’s basically 70 flat damage plus it’s a 2H so it gets to use PB’s 30% WD better than a pistol would so it’s and extra 120 flat vitality per projectile total, which weights favourably against an extra projectile according to my calculations. That’s not counting the Arbalest being a MI so you can snap any kind of bullshit affixes on it if you’re a free painter.

But thing is, in the current meta Demonslayer isn’t treated as a PB set, it’s a vitality blade spirit set with PB for sustaining yourself. And the set bonus offers a +1 Blade Spirit too on top of 2 extra projectiles for PB, which totals to one of the fattest set bonuses ever. So no, I don’t think the Arbalest is going to be competitive vs full set.

Still makes a good budget item though, 32k dps with 7 projectiles is just lolwhat.

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I was not sarcastic. I meant that’s it’s going to a good build before you get a full Demonslayer for [] Red Velvet Wound - Bleeding&Vitality BS Trickster [SR100] [5.05 Crucible] [All celestials] for example (or just pure Vit PB).

Oh, sorry for assumptions.
It’s just kind of a common inference that PB is overnerfed and is now a mediocre skill carried by Blade Spirits.



so this is a vitality damage build, right?


Im already clv 15.

Wander how it performs in ultimate.

Btw, what do u mean by /10 chars?

Nothing. Discourse requires a minimum of 10 characters to be typed in a reply/title/etc. So just saying yes will call up a reminder you need to write a bit more. So most people do what Stupid_Dragon did.

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Ok, ty for clarification!

Why ppl say vitality is weak as dmg? Seeks to be working jyst fine.

Whoever told you that has no idea what he’s talking about.

Awesome vid! In deed a powerful spec :smiley:

I also noticed Occultist has some good support for vitality dmg… .

Did you have a chance to test it vs Necromancer?

Just back home from parent in law…dinner :wink: holiday today in poland. back to grinding.


I did not. Necromancer just looked better all around to me. Defense-wise it’s 25% damage reduction on Ill Omen vs ~12-15% absorption from Possession + ~12% physical resistance from Aspect of the Guardian, which is already into Necromancer’s favor a bit. But then Necromancer’s vitality resistance reduction is passive and he got casting speed too as well as Mark of Torment for harder fights.

Frankly out of all options (Necromancer, Oathkeeper, Shaman and Occultist) the Occultist looks like the weakest one all around. I’ve seen only one builder advocating that it’s actually good, but in the end he didn’t put his theory into practice iirc.

I wish I knew soo much about the game :wink:

The crossbow is BiS?

Shall I farm the xbow asap?

or are there ay other weapon options?

Crossbow is decent.

Usually people play with full Demonslayer set though because it offers support for vitality Blade Spirits (which are very good now) as well as Phantasmal Blades. Since Demonslayer has pistol as part of the set the crossbow variant could be considered off-meta. It’s used here because it’s powerful enough and can be target farmed, not because it’s BiS for PB.

It comes with a price…


Hats Off! thats a lot of time and effort put into the game. u really must luv it :smiley:

My neighbor has just started EoR build you have recommended and we will compare how both play out and also play together in higher difficulties maybe.

Is there an easy way to somehow target farm just 1 piece of Demonslayer set? I remember reading something about converting set items, like diablo 3.

and attributes - spread evenly or focus on just 1? cunning important?

EDIT: any faction priorities?


Well, he is a playtester for the game. That’s what the Praetorian title signifies.