[][HC] Beginner's Shield Caster Sentinel - SSF + Viable for first character


@Evil_Baka, @Monceaux @Nery, @Ulvar1, @Stupid_Dragon, @sp00ky all for tolerating my occasional bouts of dog-headedness

Through over 1,000 hours of playtime, I have not once done HC. The thought of losing days of gametime due to a borked damage spike chills me. With my experience with buildmaking and understanding how to handle threats, I decided to try it out, and since HC has a different stash from SC, I will be starting with nothing. This is for those who are very new to the game and know practically nothing about it. I will chronicle my leveling experience with the important quests to do, figuring out how to gear to handle different situations, and how to ensure you have what you need to beat the story content.

This thread is meant to be as self-sufficient for answering questions as possible, but if you have an insatiable appetite for information, Ulvar1’s beginner build compendium is an excellent compilation of mechanics guides and new player information. Also check out RektbyProtoss’ Video Guide for Leveling Any Class

This may be obvious, but since I’m playing an Oathkeeper character, you will need both GD expansions to play this particular character. My job is to ensure my character stays alive and able to farm Totems / Rogue Dungeons for Legendary gear for other characters. I will chronicle farming routes, faction items to grab, pre-target grind, post-target grind, and ways to keep your component stash full so you can grind for your character and future characters to come.

Level 100 Goal - Faction + Farmable Items


This is the culmination of my target-farmable and faction items, and this is a good sense of what to aim for to reasonably have a chance in most content. This is what I have used to farm Totems and MI’s to gain as much currency, Legendary items, and blueprints for other characters as possible.

If you are worried about the Epic items in the build, I’ve found at least 2 of each of the Runic Bracers, Legplates of Valor, and Mythical Final March, so they aren’t terribly difficult to find. By the time you reach Ultimate, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to farm Totems for Epics and Legendaries, and all of these slots have crafted alternatives you can create. Just make sure to reach for the stats I have in my Grimtools and make sure your resistances are overcapped.

End-Game Goals

As the title suggests, I will be playing a Shield Caster Sentinel. I have personal experience playing a Voidsoul’s Set Sentinel and it has an incredible amount of sustain and resilience; exactly what you need for a HC character. It is, however, just one of the many sets out there, and Shield Sentinel has other powerful builds as well. Depending on how the RNG rolls play out, a player can get pieces of the Sentinel of the Three retaliation set by Mad_Lee, or Radaggan’s Acid Sigils by Valinov, which can throw down a ridiculous amount of Sigils with long-lasting duration. All three of these builds are capable of their own right, but require very specific end-game items to accomplish it.

Mad_Lee’s Retaliation Sentinel
Valinov’s Acid Sigils Sentinel - Doesn’t have its own thread, but video performance is found here.
Nery’s Virtue Set Sentinel - Uses the mono-Oathkeeper set Virtue’s Light, which focuses on Aegis of Menhir

Equipment Progression from 1 to 100

Anyone who’s experienced with ARPG’s will know that every build is a balancing act between getting enough offense and enough resistances to keep yourself alive. The Devotion system - for the most part - will provide a lot of offensive stats, and your skills will provide a mix of offense and defense. Occultist’s Aspect of the Guardian provides Physical Resistance - the most useful resistance in the game - and enough Poison and Acid Resistance that you don’t have to focus your gear on providing it.

Since you’ll target farm the more offensive items, here’s where I’d focus on the defensive measures for the rest of the gear: Resistances (particularly Physical Resistance), Health, Armor, DA, OA. OA will be largely covered by your classes, as both Blood of Dreeg and Presence of Virtue come baked with flat OA. DA is this game’s version of Crit Avoidance; unlike other games, there’s not much of a serious penalty for getting Crit as long as your resistances and Armor maximized.

Offensive Gearing: Both the Korvan Helm & Obsidian Defender provide an additional 100% bonus to Vitality and Chaos damage, respectively, as long as you have Solael’s Witchfire buff active. This is huge buff in early-mid game and is far better than the gear you get in faction shops. The weapon slot has the potential for the most offensive stats, getting up to 250% damage when you run through Elite. Thankfully, the weapon is easily farmable in a single zone.

I also have to mention damage conversion here. Both Sigil of Consumption and Aegis of Menhir have a base Fire component to it, and we’re not going to be grabbing a lot of Fire damage, making this damage useless. However, multiple Unique gearing has ways to convert that Fire damage into a damage type that we use. The way I shoot for in my build is target-farming a boss in AoM content and a group of monsters in FG content to get roughly 80% Elemental to Vitality conversion. This is something to shoot for in Elite since simply maximizing your main attacking skills are enough to kill things quickly in Normal.

Defensive Gearing: Gear where you don’t have a lot of viable offensive options you can use instead to pad your resistances and secondary stats like OA, DA and 3rd-page resistances. In this slot we’re referring to pants, gloves, and boots. You are hoping to get Magic affixes like Resistant and Impervious which can give 20-30% to two different damage types. Additionally, the higher level you get, the higher Armor value it is likely to be, and you need all the Armor you can get for more hard-hitting Champion enemies like Flesh Hulks.

Make sure you place components in every equipment you want to use. If you’re worried about component management, you can go to the Inventor and tell her to salvage your component when you have an equipment upgrade. This is especially important when you create Rare components that require multiple hard-to-find materials. Some slots don’t have a lot of viable options; rings you want to use the Frozen Heart since they provide valuable Freeze resistance. Amulet + Medal slots can use the Wardstone since it provides Elemental & Bleeding Resistance as well as Running Speed (invaluable until you get your medal Augment + Vire’s Might combo), or you can use the combination of Aether Soul + Black Tallow to get DA + Aether and Chaos resistance. Belts can use Molten Skin or Rigid Shell for Fire/Lightning Resistance to match the Cold resistance from the Frozen Hearts on the rings. Shoulders use the Resistant Plating for extra Pierce resistance. You want 2 Scaled Hides - one in the Chest and the other in the pants - to get the most out of your Armor.

Vendor Gear: If you are raising money for crafting, then focus on selling jewelry & belts. They are worth more than standard equipment and take up much less room in your inventory. The great thing about jewelry is that unlike equipment, they do not contribute to Armor values, so if you get a particularly great combination of resistances in an early-level ring, you can keep that for 10-20 levels and sell anything that doesn’t provide much use to your build, even if it’s a higher level than what you have.

Why choose this over Sigils Conjurer?

RektbyProtoss already has a good video series on leveling a Vitality Conjurer using Dark One’s Set and the same Shield for Sigils. Dark One’s farming involves running a Secret quest that takes you to the end of Ultimate AoM Content. Fighting Kuba is very difficult if you’re in the transition period between getting your regular gear fitted out and Dark One’s, and I wanted something that was comfortable for players 100% through the journey.

Shaman provides much more RR, especially in the beginning of the game before you reach Summon Guardian of Empiryon, but Oathkeeper has Presence of Virtue for more OA and Energy Regen, a second AoE skill with Aegis of Menhir, but most importantly: much better movement with Vire’s Might. With the second node for fire spread, Vire’s Might is also a very nice devotion proccer. The extra mobility definitely pays off when you face off against tougher enemies, and having Doom Bolt + Aegis as backup skills means that you’re not totally screwed if you can’t keep your enemy inside the Sigils.

Nery also has a beginner’s Acid Sentinel, but that also uses the Dark One’s Set and the guide was created at the very start of FG, well before the advent of Monster Totems and better targeted farming areas. Plus it uses an off-hand and you want to use a Shield.

The other Sentinel build I’ve seen is Udar’s Sentinel, which starts as an Acid Aegis Retaliation build here: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/qNY45xlZ then farms ultimate Rogue Dungeons for the Vanquisher’s Set. Unfortunately, Acid Aegis of Menhir doesn’t have much faction & MI support, which means you’re largely stuck until you get the Mythical Perdition set. Farming full sets - even Epic sets - are a pain to do in terms of time investment, and even blue sets require 120,000 iron bits if you want to transmute a duplicate part of the set to another. However, it’s good to see how a build transitions from one type to another once you get the necessary gear, so I recommend reading that guide.

I have roughly ten posts worth of notes in my build journal, so please be patient as I organize everything into a readable format. Also, if anyone is playing legit HC and needs Legendary or Epic Set items, I would be glad to give my Stash away using my Steam name @thepowerofmediocrity. I’m not entirely sure how to get my Stash into text format - I’m pretty sure that involves GDStash.

Table of Contents:

  1. Level 1-20 and killing Warden Krieg - Normal
  2. Level 20-40 and killing Log - Normal
  3. Level 40-50 and AoM Content on Normal
  4. Level 50-65: FG Content on Normal (not all of it) & Base Game Elite
  5. Level 65-85, AoM + FG in Elite while Grinding for Revered Faction
  6. Level 85-90 & Getting Revered Faction Equipment
  7. Level 95-100 and Final Farming Routes for MI’s
  8. Fighting Ultimate Mad Queen, Kuba, & Grava

Factions are a crucial component to a smooth HC playthrough, but isn’t explained too much in Beginner’s Guides. Nery created a Factions Guide when FG came out, and I’d like to expand it further and explain the leveling route.

As listed in the Grim Dawn website, Bounties can only be obtained when you reach “Respected” with the particular faction. Each of these bounties has you killing a particular Hero monster or groups of regular monsters in exchange for either Iron Bits or crafting materials. The downside of choosing Bounties right away is that clearing areas over and over again will raise your infamy status with the enemy factions, reaching Nemesis faction quicker. Ideally, you want to get through all the content (AoM & FG) in Elite before you reach Nemesis status with any group, and then target-farm specific areas to maxmize your MI farming while minimizing your chances of getting ganked by the area’s Nemesis.

Enemy Faction Guide

Beast faction is the easiest to obtain Nemesis status, as the Beast faction includes both plants and animals while encompassing nearly all of the zones in the game. Unfortunately, the Beast Nemesis Kubacabra has 96% Vitality Resistance, making it the “Nemesis” of Vitality builds like this one. It makes its home in Ugdenbog and Ancient Grove - the latter is a pity because it takes away a prime purchasing spot with Vinelton. For this reason, I recommend doing the AoM content - including Ancient Grove - in Normal & Elite before tackling FG content, as FG content contains beasts as well, and Barrowholm is going to be one of your best factions to reach Revered as soon as you can.

Ch’thonics are unique in that granting Nemesis faction grants 2 Nemeses to fight. Benn’Jahr covers the base game content and outside of hitting hard with Physical attacks and watching out for groups of 2-3 Chaos crystals clumped together, he’s widely considered the easiest Nemesis. Grava’Thul is in charge of the AoM chaotic rifts, and when it raises its hands, it shoots out purple Arcane orbs which strip your buffs; all because the developer whom which the Nemesis is named after constantly forgot to put on his buffs and got killed during the dev streams because of it. Its other attacks don’t hit very hard, but you cannot afford to get stuck in a narrow hallway with other enemies because the Arcane orbs will kill you.

Aetherials are the next faction you’ll get Nemesis status with, and thankfully the Nemesis Valdaran doesn’t venture outside of the Warden’s Cellar or Port Valbury that often, so you can handle the content you need to without much risk of fighting him. Aetherial Vanguards are similar to Aetherials, but they are confined to AoM content. Malmouth Resistance is a hugely important faction to max, but Aleksander provides the most opportunities to KO a player out of the Nemeses in the game. Between teleport + Panetti’s, multiple Crystals that shoot mortars at you, and the giant meteor which has OHKO’d plenty of brave adventurers, you’ll have to take particular caution once you reach Nemesis status with the Aetherial Vanguard.

Undead faction is the most common outside of Beasts and Eldritch in FG areas, but gaining infamy with them is not nearly as fast as Beasts and Aetherials. As a plus, Moosilake rarely ventures outside of Arkovian City and the Steps of Torment. That means that once you reach Act 3 of Ultimate, you’ll have little to worry about with regards to running into a Nemesis while farming.

Kymon’s faction you’ll have to grind to reach Nemesis status, but both the strongholds do not carry any other factions, so you can grind them to your heart’s content. As long as you have sufficient Physical Resistance (which you will thanks to being a Shield build), Bleed Resistance, and Regen to counter the DoTs, Iron Maiden is a pushover, and her MI grants points to Aegis of Menhir.

The greatest Bounty grind will be between Elite and Ultimate - and unfortunately you need Revered status with a faction to obtain Armor augments to get the resistances you need to begin Ultimate. Thankfully, you’ll get Revered first with Devil’s Crossing and the Black Legion (as long as you do AoM content), and DC gives Bladeward Powder (Pierce Resistance) and BL gives Mankind’s Vigil (Aether and Chaos Resistance).

You can get Writs for each character once you reach Honored status, but at 88,000 iron bits each, they’re too expensive to purchase if you’re using this as your first character. I’d rather save the bits for creating relics and components, as you can use the grind to hunt for essential MI’s for your character. Here’s the Bounty groupings for each Act:

Crafting Bounties: Because I could not find any information on this, I looked into whether the relics created for Bounties are consumed when you hand in the quest. Unfortunately, the answer is yes, meaning you can’t create the relic, hand in the bounty, and then use the relic to create something else (probably to avoid cheesing the bounty system for infinite gain). In which case, the only crafting Bounties worth doing are:

  • Mistborn Talisman (Coven of Ugdenbog): Only requires a Troll Bonecrusher which can be easily farmed, rewards you with a Blood of Ch’thon.
  • Corruption (Barrowhelm): Requires a Blood of Ch’thon, but those can be easily farmed in Ch’thon areas (which give more faction points to Barrowhelm) and the reward is a Manticore Eye, which is a very rare crafting material.

Bounty Guides based on Act Number

Act 1
  • Sunken Reliquary: High Priest Rolderathis - Rovers + Order of Death’s Vigil
  • East Marsh: Outcast (first quest) and Order of Death’s Vigil (Honored Quest) are located right next to each other
    I’d avoid the Aetherial bounties since you’ll have high infamy once you reach Ultimate and you’ll easily get Nemesis status if you do a lot of Warden’s Basement runs for more Aetherial Crystals.
Act 2
  • Old Arkavia + Cronley dungeon: Any Cronley bounty (Devil’s Crossing) + Bandit Forges (Rovers) Cronley’s area is one of the most reliable sources of Dynamite in the game, especially as there is a Boss in Cronley’s dungeon which gives 2 guarateed Dynamites every time you kill him.
  • Insect Hives: Once you’re no longer worried about Beast Nemesis, you can exterminate the Insect Queens to farm their Royal Jelly.
  • Undead Farming: Any Arkovian City quest (Rovers) + Kirian’s Shattered Soul (Black Legion)
  • Steps of Torment: Secrets of the Lost (Outcast quest) + Alkamos (Outcast Bounty) + Steps of Torment bounties (Rovers)
  • Mountain Deeps: Trog Flesh Rippers (best chance of Vampiric Bonewall MI) + Glugrog Lifedrinker (Homestead) + The Ravener (Black Legion); also has a relatively easy Treasure Trove Location

Make sure that any Beast Bounties are completed after you’ve run through the Ugdenbog region (including Ancient Grove) in Elite so that you run as little risk of facing Kuba on your Ugdenbloom farming runs as possible.

Act 3
  • Infested Farms: Ravna’s Blade (if you’re doing Acid Retaliation) + Gollus or Royal Hive quests (Homestead)
  • Blood Grove: Cripple the Cult (farm Bolvar for his MI pendant) + Voidtouched Totems (Obsidian Defender MI) *Blood Grove is also where Benevald’s shop is, so you can set a waypoint there after running Fort Haron for Kymon’s infamy

The Sorrow’s Bastion to Blood Grove to Darkvale Village route is one of my favorite farming routes for this character as the Treasure Trove in Darkvale Village is the easiest to find; just look in all the abandoned buildings and the Trove is bound to come up. Darkvale Gate has a guaranteed Dynamite drop, so the farming route is self-sufficient. Additionally, this is the best spot to farm Chthonic Seals of Binding; multiple rare components require 12 of them, and each farming route gives you roughly 8 or so.

Act 4

There aren’t any bounties between Karroz and Loghorrean, just focus on clearing the base game as quickly as possible to unlock Act 5. While it is recommended to ally with the Outcast, remember that quests with the Outcast take away points from the Black Legion. The best way to counteract the faction loss is to run a Black Legion bounty, hand in the Outcast quest, then hand in the Black Legion bounty to make up the lost faction points.

  • Log’horrean: Bloodlord Thalonis can be farmed repeatedly for his “12% for cooldown reset on Possession” MI as well as Bounties for the Black Legion and Order of Death’s Vigil
  • Bastion of Chaos: Black Heart of the Void (Outcast quest) + Shar’Zul (Outcast Bounty) + Obsidian Defender MI Treasure Trove in the Bastion of Chaos before the Rogue dungeon
Act 5 (AoM Content)
  • Ugdenbog: Some Coven quests like Sylvarria and Janaxia also have Bounties, so complete the bounty with the quest to get more XP and faction rep. The Sylvarria bounty can also be paired with the Swillius bounty for Barrowhelm and can be used to farm more Ugdenblooms as well as Vine rings which are one of the few MI items which give points to Aegis of Menhir.
  • Barrowholm: Chillpincer is a Coven Bounty which can be done when you go into Barrowhelm and do the quests for the first time. Additionally, Barrowhelm mine is a source of guaranteed dynamite and you can find a Treasure Trove. A plus since there’s little chance of meeting Kuba in the route to get there.
  • Cinder Wastes: Ekket’Zul is a Barrowhelm Bounty you can go when you proceed in the main quest. Otherwise, Cinder Wastes in Mourndale has Treasure Troves as well as a chance to farm Lunal’Valgoth for the Elemental to Vitality MI belt for Occultists. Also note that taking the route from Malmouth Outskirts south on the way to Cinder Wastes will provide 8-10 Aether Crystals and a chance of Shards for creating Dynamite.
Act 6 (AoM Content)
  • Sewers: The Crognoth Bounty (Coven Witches) + Bollag Keeper of the Gates (Malmouth Resistance) can be combined once you get out of the sewers. The bounty targets are next to Treasure Troves as well.
  • Crown Hill: Torraxteria is a Malmouth Resistance Bounty who also gives a very good chance of dropping an Ascendant Source MI - a great way to boost your Sigil’s power. Several of her spawn sites are right next to Treasure Troves, making it even better. Aetherial Spellbreakers also have a chance of dropping this MI.
  • Theodin: Unfortunately, you do not need the Krieg’s Set for any reason, so those Bounties are not particularly useful. Otherwise, focus on Bounties as you continue through the Fleshworks such as the Fleshwarped Guardians once you’re comfortable with fighting Theodin.
Act 7 (FG Content)
  • Cairan Docks: This is where the majority of Eldritch Armor farming will be; they have the chance to drop both the Korvan Helm (a great boost of Vitality damage in early-mid game) and Korvan Pauldrons. A Razorfeather Gryphon Bounty is fulfilled here as well, and a Treasure Trove isn’t too hard to find in this area either.
  • Infernal Wastes: Two bounties - Reynar & Varnox - are very close to the Infernal Wastes riftpoint. Additionally, if you go backwards from the riftpoint (towards the Ruins of Abyd), you can find an Ancient Eldritch totem for a chance at Gargoyle MI’s as well as a chance to fulfill the Grimmaw, Pack Alpha Bounty.

Unfortunately, Kaisan spawns pretty much everywhere in FG content and he can hurt you with his resist shred crystals. The Witch God factions are one of the last factions you’ll likely max out, so if you get Nemesis status during Ultimate, you can always switch back to Elite and see how he fights.


[Level 20] Warden Krieg killed!

Stats, Skills, Pictures Here

First things first - get a Shield with nice Physical Resistance. I got a Durable shield with 14% Physical resistance right out of the gate, so I will continue using that for the time being.
The most time consuming things for me were the Scrap. You can find them along the Slith refuse and look for destructible junk piles. Not only do you need them to complete the Barbaras quest, you need them to create equipment components like Resilient Plating and Scaled Hide (effectively a % Armor increase when you have <100 Armor).

Aegis of Menhir is my main attack for now - I’m placing points in the Occultist Mastery Bar so I can get the Spirit points to wear all sorts of Armor. The stats are necessary in getting OA & DA; the OA to get a respectable hit%, and DA to prevent damage spikes from being common.

If I were to do it again, I’d put points into Sigil of Consumption, but with not much Vitality damage, I was holding off until I get some more offensive gear and get Aspect of the Guardian for the Vitality damage bonus.

Note that I forgot to do, so I’m passing my mistakes so you don’t repeat them: Before you go into the Warden’s Cellar, there’s a house with a lectern straight NE of the Burrwich Village rift point. Clicking on that Lecturn will give you the Cultist’s Orders quest, where it’s revealed that one of Devil’s Crossing inhabitants in working with the Bloodsworn Cult. Take the option to kill him and you get a rare Crafting item called Blood of Ch’thon. It’s not gamebreaking if you don’t do it (I forgot to do it for all difficulties - whoops), but the rare crafting items will be very useful later on when you’re getting your near-final build put together.

General Note: The totems are amazing for grabbing Epic & potential equipment upgrades. They involve 2-3 Heroes and once you have your defenses set up, they don’t take too long to defeat. Epic equipment is excellent for selling so you can purchase Scrap and components.

Had my first experience with Red-bar at the new dungeon of Naren 'Kur. Had I not used the Imbued Silver for the additional 20% Chaos Resistance, I would have been dead for sure! That’s why you make the most of all of your equipment and components.

As you slowly replace your old equipment with new one, you will need to create multiple components to ensure that everything is outfitted right. Creating new components costs Scrap and Aether Crystals. Aether Crystals are best found in the last Riftgate in the Warden’s Lab. Go the opposite direction from the Warden and you’ll find 8 Aether Crystals for each session.

Dynamite is best found running Cronley’s dungeon, specifically through killing “Moneybags” Martin. Killing Cronley also gives you access to 2 Aether Crystals; not particularly efficient, but useful in a pinch.


[Level 35] Karroz killed!

Stats, Skills, & Devotions by Level 35

What I didn’t know is that recipes for Medal movement glyphs do not drop until you’ve done the initial quest in Fallen Gods content. From there, you can grab a recipe for a Level 33 Glyph and skate around using the combination of Vire’s Might + Movement glyph. It will save you much time compared to what I currently have, as I didn’t recognize this until the Level 50 augments.

Knowing this is a Chaos-oriented boss, and not wanting to repeat what happened in the Naren’Kur fight, I made sure to get to 80% Chaos resistance at all costs. The key is the shield - a Chaos Defender I got running a Chaos totem which just happened to be a Durable Defender to keep the Physical Resistance up. It grants a juicy 150% bonus to Chaos damage, so I’m going to start placing points in Destruction while continuing to level up the Oathkeeper mastery.

To prepare for this fight, I did all the Black Legion quests in the Pine Barren, which involve killing Mogara the Primal Spirit, the spider Gloomweaver, Ol’ Briarthorn, and Bloodfeast the Ruthless. I highly recommend these quests as you pick up several devotion shrines along the way, and with the whole area being Beasts, I got just enough faction reputation with Homestead to get Respected with the Karroz kill and with it, the Sanctified Bone recipe. Getting a Sanctified Bone is essential to facing the Loghorrean, as the Chaos resistance and racial damage is definitely helpful.

Devotion-wise: I went Dryad -> Turtle -> Lotus, but if I were to start over again, I’d do Dryad -> Lotus -> Bat to start leveling the Bat devotion sooner. With HC, I’m taking as few chances as possible, but getting an edge in damage always helps in longer boss battles.

I do not particularly stress out over running Bounties in Normal - I’ll take the 30 seconds to check it out, and if it’s possible to get the Bounties containing monsters on the way (Reanimators for Devil’s Crossing, Fleshwarped Vanguards for Homestead), I go ahead and take them. Anything to cut down on the grind later on.

Rovers reputation is harder to get than Homestead or Devil’s Crossing, so I would recommend running through the Undead dunegons in the Sunken Reliquary & Steps of Torment to get some loot, Undead kills, and the devotion shrine. Undead are not nearly as bountiful in the base game as Beasts / Aetherials, so there is less to worry about getting too much Undead infamy. Getting Respected with the Rovers gives you the Runestone recipe, which was recently buffed to provide Aetherial racial damage - extremely useful for the first Acts of Elite.

Since Loghorrean & Karroz are largely the same in terms of damage type, I kept most of the gearing intact, only to buffer up my Chaos resistance, killing him at Level 39. Straight onto the AoM content with no delay.


[AoM Content]
Barrowhelm is a great faction to side with for Vitality casters, but the Ugdenbog area is filled with Beasts and we don’t want to get the Beast Nemesis too early. Use the movement abilities and aim straight for the quest targets when you can. Totems are always encouraged, but you don’t want to clear all the maps of every monster. Don’t worry, between AoM and FG content, getting levels is never a problem.

Once you get past Mourndale and the Void, the monsters here are the Aetherial Vanguard - a new faction that’s limited to AoM content. It makes it much easier to slow down and collect the Devotion shrines and totems as you will get past Elite well before you get to Nemesis status with them. Malmouth Resistance is also a great faction to get as much faction points as possible, so take your time doing the quests.

Hyram is a vendor you rescue in a Malmouth Resistance quest, and he periodically sells Transcendent Relics - great for picking up in the Level 50-60 range to get you ready for the first wave of Mythical relics.

Build Pictures by Theodin - Level 50

As for leveling your skill points, once you reach Level 50, the number of skill points you gain per level drops from 3 to 2, so make sure you reach the Oathkeeper Mastery Level 50 by then so you can start putting points in Celestial Presence and Path of the Three. The extra cooldown will be essential as you level up and start thinking about Elite gearing.

Level 50: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/r2B8gWWZ

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[Base Game Elite]

In hindsight, I could have went through more of the FG content in vanilla to get more faction status with the Cult of the Three Gods, but with nearly finishing getting Sigil of Destruction maxed, Celestial Presence combined with Bolvar’s MI, and getting 55/55 Devotion points, Elite up through Log was very easy to finish. At this point, the hardest thing to cover is secondary resistances like Freeze and Petrify resistances; thankfully, Sigil’s passive healing allows you to stay alive even if you’re immobile for a few seconds.

Avoiding the newer dungeons this time, I had no danger throughout vanilla Elite. Make sure all of your resistances are capped and your armor is up to date so that nothing from Monster Totems or area-level bosses pose a threat. I have not needed to focus on OA and DA at all - there is no danger of Crit spikes in any of the bosses up to this point. That will change once you reach Ultimate.

Elite Log Defeated at Level 65

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[AoM Elite + Bounty Grind for ultimate]

I raced through the expansion content to ensure that I reach through all the areas and plan out my faction grind. At my stage, I did a little too much expansion content and nearly gotten myself killed a few times - particularly against Theodin and Korvaak final bosses. In terms of difficulty, Acts 1-3 of Ultimate are easier than fighting Theodin & Korvaak in Elite. The first acts of Ultimate are manageable as long as you account for the -25% Resistance Penalty for switching into Ultimate. Content in AoM and FG easily gets up to Level 85+, and I had forgotten that you can’t even equip the AoM armor augments until Level 90. Hindsight, I suppose.

Build Snapshot @ Level 78

Faction Status by Beginning of Faction Grind

Once you approach end of Elite / beginning of Ultimate, you may see the start of AoM blueprints to begin to drop like Ugdenbog Leather and Spellsorched Plating. Each of them require 8 Ugdenblooms, which require a bit of trekking and repeated farming to grab all of them. Thanks to the update, drops are increased when you defeat Hero Ugdenbog Golems such as those found in the Undergrowth and the plant boss Bargoll. Bargoll is also a Barrowholm Bounty, so you can kill multiple steps here by farming the route. Through 10 or so routes through Ugdenbog, I’ve gotten roughly 33 of these plants - enough to create 4 rare components. My preference is 2 of Spellscorched Plating and 2 of Ugdenbog Leather, and make sure you retain them if you’re upgrading your gear.

Blueprint Drops

End of Faction Grind

If I were to do this again, I’d race through the base content (beating Log around 65), run more Black Legion bounties / Outcast quests sooner to make the most of the early grind, run through the Malmouth Resistance in AoM once I got to around 70 or so, run through the Cairan Docks in FG to farm the helm and shoulders, then run back to AoM to farm Ugdenblooms & Cinder Wastes around early 80’s instead of Level 85-86 like I had. Afterwards, I would have started Ultimate earlier to get the faction quests done for Devil’s Crossing & Homestead so I could have access to their Level 70 armor augments. Once I got the augments in Ultimate, then I’d try to beat all the final bosses in the expansion content for the best chance of getting Black Legion, Malmouth Resistance and Witch Gods faction as high as I can get so that I can possibly get Revered with one or two of them by Level 90. Again, hindsight.

Barrowhelm is the faction I’d focus on the most, since it provides valuable faction gear, augments (Ravager’s Eye is huge since Defensive Ability is not really present in either class) and Reaver’s Hunger for even longer Sigil Duration. Killing Ch’thonians gives faction points, which is wonderful for this build as you can run Bastion of Chaos and Cinder Wastes for Obsidian Defender + Lunal’Valgoth MI’s as well as getting faction points for the Outcast.

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[Beginning of Ultimate + Relic Crafting]

Once you get to Homestead in Ultimate and can buy Aether Shards from Isaiah, you can create / obtain enough dynamite to dismantle every Level 50/75 Legendary in your Stash. No one wants underleveled equipment, and dismantling gives you tons of Scrap (for creating crafted Rimeguard pants, Ember or Plagueguard gloves, or Stoneplate Greave boots where you will find these recipes in Ultimate) as well as a good chance of a Rare crafting component like Blood of Ch’thon, Ancient Hearts, Trainted Brain Matter, or Ugdenblooms. This will drastically cut down the time you need to gather the materials before you can craft something you’re looking for.

Crafting Reaver's Hunger

Thanks to all the work we did up to this point, my character had plenty of iron bits and materials to craft the Reaver’s Hunger amulet. I’m not joking when I say the hardest and most time-consuming component to get was the Kirian’s Shattered Soul from the Undead Boss in Arkovian City. This is a great opportunity to do Rover’s bounties if you are not already Revered with this faction. With all crafted items, you get a specific bonus depending on which blacksmith you do the crafting. In the case of Reaver’s Hunger, I went with the Legion Blacksmith to ensure I don’t get low-rolled on the Aether or Chaos resistance bonuses, but Angrim (in Devil’s Crossing) for Physique or Armor bonus is - in many cases - the optimal choice.

Relic Discussion

I’ve kept my relic as Sanctuary since forever - the damage relics don’t provide enough offensive oomph to make it worth it, at least until you get the Sacred Talisman in Ultimate. The % Health, Pierce Resistance, and Physical damage absorption are useful no matter where you go, at least until you get Honored faction to get the Vitality + Chaos damage + 3% Health ring augments.

Deathchill & Fortress are other offensive / defensive relics you can use if you feel that you’re either lacking damage or not feeling you’re taking the hits you want, but they are both relics with fairly expensive costs to make, so it’s your choice as to whether you feel it’s worth the increased cost for it or not.

Once you get the Sacred Talisman, you can use that for the rest of the game until you get the Solael’s Decimation / Eldritch Pact / Oblivion relics (the last one you only use once you have the Voidsoul set and switch your Devotion route to get Dying God). If you are freshly new player, you may have a hard time getting the recipes of some of the lower-tier Mythical Relics to drop, as your main Mythical Relics often require 1-2 other Mythical Relics to craft them. Monster Totems - and later, Shattered Realm runs - are the best way to get yourself access to these recipes.

Once the character reaches level 90, you will be able to access AoM armor augments as well as Revered AoM & FG faction gear. In the case of this build, you’ll want Barrowhelm’s Wendigo Chest Piece with +Sigil of Consumption and the faction ring which gives +Destruction. If you set up a riftpoint near the Faction shop, you can leave to a different area, wait a few minutes, then come back until you get ideal rolls for your new equipment.

Farming Morgoneth's Dungeon in Elite

While this is certainly not required for a budget setup, the Conduits of X Whispers are crafted amulets which provide a ton of resistances while giving modifiers to skills not seen anywhere else. My endgame build uses the -Chaos resistance to Summon Guardian of Empiryon, though it could also use the Vitality transmuter to Aegis of Menhir in combination with other conversions to Vitality such as Dark’s One Set which converts Chaos damage to Vitality for Doom Bolt & Oblivion casting.

The final boss of the Tomb of the Heretic - Grand Magus Morgoneth - is a very difficult enemy even in Elite, so make sure your Elemental Resistance has at least 30-40% Resistance Overcap in Ultimate once you have your augments applied. The merchant in Morgoneth’s dungeon works exactly the same as Vinelton in Ancient Grove: If your Conduit doesn’t show up, leave to the other zone, wait for 2-3 minutes, then come back to a refreshed store.

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At this point, I set out to get the final pieces of the build ready. Solael’s & Dreeg’s ring augments - once you reach Revered with them - provide a good amount of flat OA & DA which is necessary for facing Ultimate AoM & FG content. Thankfully, the Cairan Docks farming route provides multiple Hero Armors to raise your faction rep while farming for a Korvan Helm + Korvan Pauldrons.

I happened to have a “Durable” Bonewall with 21% Physical Resistance when I was running the Mountain Deeps, but if you don’t have a good Shield yet, this is the time to farm Mountain Deeps to get a good Level 94 Shield.

Stats once I reached Level 100

Level 100 Grimtools: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/62aaeDg2

Grimtools Explanation

The only weak point of my Grimtools is lack of OA, which I plan to rectify with the Solael’s Decimation relic. I still don’t have the Eye of the Storm necessary to create it, however, so I’m building up my cash reserves. If this is your first character, you will need a load of money to purchase Personal and Shared Stash spaces, and considering how many Legendary items and MI’s are in the game, you will need all the space you can afford.

What to do once you reached Level 100

From this point, you’ll have plenty of Legendary items that you can either dynamite, trade using the forums, or use as the basis of another build. The Conduits are expensive to create, but between the Occultist and the Oathkeeper, you have several options to farm up the savings to create a build defining item from either staying as Vitality, switching to Acid, or even taking the Physical / Fire route if you have enough gear to be okay with leveling up different devotions.

If you do decide to take a different damage route, you can run Bounties in easier areas to get chunks of XP to level up the devotions you reset from your Tonic of Clarities. Experience you obtain in a Devotion proc remains after you reset it, so if you decide you like a different route better, there’s no worry about having to start from scratch again.

What I did was farm the Sentinel for his Covenant of the Three Recipe, as his helm gives +1 to both classes and provides a small cooldown to Doom Bolt. If you want more +skills without the RNG and farming time, the Fettan Mask in Ultimate also provides that +1 to all skills but is less offensive. Stoneplate Greaves are a great option for boots, but at 35,000 a craft, they are very expensive to create.

Between the Bonewall Shield, Ascendant Source, and Reaver’s Hunger, you’ll get a 15 second Sigil Duration with only a 2.1 second cooldown. Stacked Sigils only work if you can stay in one location, so here’s where the extra tankiness from choosing Oathkeeper + Shield pays off. If you’re worried about getting enough damage, I took my current gear to fight Rashalga, the Mad Queen, and see if it passes the Main Campaign DPS check. Thankfully, the answer is yes.

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Nemesis Battles

No Vitality build is complete before testing its mettle with Kubacabra, so I went off to AoM to begin an Ugdenbloom farming route. Sure enough, Kuba was standing in my way towards the Coven of Witches, so fighting it was inevitable. The hardest part of the fight is the last 25% Health of the first form, where it goes into rage mode and comes with damage absorption - which combined with the blood pool healing - that makes the last sliver more difficult to break down. As long as you constantly move away from the pools and lay out Sigils so that Kuba’s constantly getting hit, you’ll break the first form down.

Kuba splits upon death to 2 smaller Kubas, who each split upon death to 2 more Kubas. Don’t let the numbers scare you; fighting 4 small Kubas were much easier than the last 25% of the first form. Thank the AoE capability of your Sigils for the smooth sailing. The Nemesis chest contains a BP (which will be invisible if it’s a duplicate of something you already learned) and rare components + money.

Then on my way to Malmouth, I came across Grava. I must say, the combo of removing all your buffs and then doing the disrupt charge so you can’t actually put your buffs back on was very, very annoying. That being said, I managed to not die, and once I got the terrain planned out to block the nullify balls, he became a lot simpler.

Also good news - the Eye of the Storm Relic finally dropped for me in the Mourndale Monster Totem, so I’m ready to create Solael’s Decimation relic and see how well I can do without the Mana Infusion bonus.

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Reserved for running SR and other thoughts

I have achieved my goal of getting this character to Level 100 and running Ultimate Totems without any help from other characters, no money, and no blueprints. Regardless if I die afterwards, I consider this build a great success.

I tried my best to consolidate all my replies, but I’m going to set up a link in the OP so people can easily chronicle their leveling progress. Formatting and such is not my strong suit, so if people have better fonts and color choices to make things stand out from how it currently is, I’m all ears for suggestions.


Nice detailed journal! I will include in my compendium and read about your adventures when I get the time :slight_smile:

Ravna’s Claw
Ronaprax’s Sting
Basilisk Fang
Vine Ring
are all poison based MI with Aegis support.

Epic set - one can use Daega set (loads of fire > acid conversion) and is only 3-piece which will reduce the overall average transmutation cost. Shield, maybe the faction shield “Occulant” could work. Or just a badass Bone Shield.

I would also like to read this epic tale when I get some time :smiley: