Beginner's Pre-Gargabol's Defiler

The Defiler is often seen as one of the worst classes in the game: it has very little in the way of sustainability, no resistances in either mastery, and few skills synergize with each other. However, recent patches have considerably buffed the Defiler’s prospects, both in endgame and leveling, and I wanted to provide a beginner’s guide to help people who wanted to try out the class but were put off by the lack of anything resembling a leveling guide. @RektbyProtoss does have a HC guide for Defiler, but is different from mine in that his build uses Fire Strike all the way, while I go with a Bone Harvest caster.

This character has two stages of leveling: in order to side with Kymon’s and farm the Master Ravok’s helmet, you must play as solo Demolitionist until you reach the quest where you side with one of two factions. Kymon’s refuses to allow Necromancers in their ranks, but once you side with them and then choose Necro, they will begrudgingly continue to side with you in Elite and Ultimate.

Other factions:
Outcast: Friendly
Barrowholm: Hostile (you’re not defeating Ravager with a Defiler anyway)
Witch Gods: Solael in Normal, Dreeg in Elite/Ultimate

The aim of this character is to play much of the game using Conflagration’s granted skill until you can create the Venomfire faction relic. While playing with Fire damage, you’ll be farming the items necessary to create the Vitality Bone Harvest version while leveling major devotions such as Bat and Tip the Scales. At this point, you will have the potions necessary to respec your devotions, and then select Will of Rattosh and Abominable Might to farm Monster Totems and other farming routes until your Vitality character far surpasses what you can do with Fire damage.

**NOTE: I played this character in Hardcore, and then died 3 Levels away from Level 100. :sweat: The gear shown in my Grimtools is a mixture of items I found through my own farming and idealized magic affix combinations that should be reasonable to farm. I had my blueprints created from my first HC character, but everything else was farmed on my own, including the Oblivion relic blueprint. GRIMTOOLS

Once you have the pieces together, you have a combination of Bone Harvest nukes and the Oblivion Relic to serve as your main damage source. Ravenous Earth + BWC are used as auxiliary damage to reduce enemy’s resistance (BWC’s Agonizing Flames) and reduce the enemy’s damage output (Ravenous Earth’s decay). The focal point of this build is Korvan’s Reaping Halberd and Death Whisper’s Hood; both combine for a total of 170% bonus weapon damage to Bone Harvest’s already impressive 300% Weapon damage at 22/16.

**Character Snapshots**

Demolitionist, Level 25 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator - Level 25
Demolitionist, Level 40 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator - Level 40
Demolitionist, Level 50 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator - Level 50
Defiler, Level 60 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator - Level 60
Defiler, Level 70 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator - Level 70
Defiler, Level 80 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator - Level 80
Defiler, Level 90 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator - Level 90 (Switched to Vitality Damage + Bone Harvest)
Defiler, Level 95 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator - Level 95 (Equipping Level 94 Gear)

**Farming Areas**

Warden’s Laboratory - Aether Crystals are going to be paramount for your relic creation, so stock up on these any time you’d like.

Hidden Path - Solael - Solael’s pants are perfect for getting into Elite, having a large ADTCH bonus as well as much-needed Aether resistance.
Cronley’s Dungeon - Cronley’s Arsonists drop the Incendiary Shoulderplates, which are excellent for Blackwater Cocktail usage. This route is also perfect for Dynamite farming, as there’s a guaranteed one near the boss room, plus a potential 2 more from Moneybags Martin. Cronley’s faction also helps raise up the Devil’s Crossing faction points to help get it towards Revered and the first Augments with great resistances.

Fort Haron - Killing Death’s Vigils are excellent for xp, as they don’t run the risk of other factions reaching Nemesis status, and the boss of this area gives you two nice MI’s for killing it, one of them essential for your Bone Harvesting. The free Dynamite is also really nice for Treasure Troves and Dismantling items.

Darkvale Village - Provides the Chtonic Seals of Binding necessary for many of your crafting projects. The boss fight there also drops the Bloodsworn Signet which is excellent for boosting your Casting speed.

Malmouth Outskirts - Run south from the waypoint and farm the Aether Crystals on the way to Mourndale. There are multiple possible locations for the Cthonic Rift that takes you to the Lunal’Valgoth boss fight. The Chtonic Wastes level has an additional rift around the center of the map where there are a cluster of buildings and stairs. Fighting Lunal’Valgoth gives you two excellent MIs: one converts Chaos to Vitality and is BiS for the Oblivion / Abominable MIght combination. The other converts Elemental to Vitality and is great if you have to use the Conflagration Relic because you don’t have the components for Oblivion.

Remains of Korvan City - Run south from the waypoint. You will find multiple Animated Watchers / Preservers who drop the Korvan Reaping Halberd. You’ll also find Korvaak Rageflames in this area as well. Kill those and you might find a Korvaak’s Burning-Blade, which converts 100% of Vitality to Fire damage. This is excellent as long as you keep taking the Demolitionist route, as it will make Bat and Tip the Scales scale off your Fire damage instead of your Vitality damage.

Additionally, the Tomb of Nephros which is in this vicinity contains a guaranteed Treasure Trove, perfect for gathering rare ingredients.


As stated previously, I defeated the Ancient Grove, even with the Vitality resistance mutator. This will allow you to farm Gargabol repeatedly until you find the Corruption of Gargabol MI. I also ran SR 50-51 just as a stress check to ensure you can get the skill points associated with the quest. In there, I defeated Valdaran and Moosilauke (though I played sloppily and died once to Moose). I’ve also defeated the Reaper Nemesis on my way to farming Namadea’s Eye.

**Endgame Builds

These three builds are widely seen as the best way to use the Defiler class. Only one build has a thread associated with it, so I will instead showcase their builds through their Youtube links.

[ -] [DW Ranged] Mortal Reminder - Vitality FS Defiler [c+] [sr+]

Agrivix Defiler Crucible test patch - YouTube

[1194] Mergos' blightlord defiler - YouTube

Special thanks to @The_Coyote, @Nery and @Stupid_Dragon for their very well-done beginner’s guides. Hopefully mine comes without any glaring issues and can stand as a full-fledged guide alongside the rest.