New Player Knowledge Compendium

Grim Dawn New Player Knowledge Compendium

i - Introduction

There’s a fairly steep learning curve to get into Grim Dawn (as far as min/maxing and understanding builds and the more subtle game mechanics) and I was fairly bemused when I started, despite an extensive background in Diablo 1-3.

Starting out, I wished for a good beginner’s resource that went beyond the content of Crate’s Game Guide. This is my attempt to consolidate a lot of the answers I searched for when I started out plus tips learned from playing, to help other new players acclimate to the game.

ii - Table of Contents

I - Resources
[010] Guides and References
[011] Tools
[012] Builds
II - Game Mechanics
[020] Classes, Attributes, and Skill Points
[021] Skills and the Skill Tree
[022] Devotions
III - Gameplay
[030] Miscellaneous Info
[031] Campaign
[032] Acts
[033] Quests
[034] Factions and Reputation
[035] Kymon’s Chosen vs Order of Death’s Vigil
[036] Challenge Dungeons
[037] Notable Bosses
[038] Boss Fight Mechanics/Tips
[039] Crucible
IV - Gearing and Leveling
[040] Items
[041] Farming for Items
[042] Items to keep in your Stash
[043] Gearing
[044] Crafting
[045] Leveling

I - Resources

[010] Guides and References
Grim Dawn Game Guide - Crate’s official game guide
Official Grim Dawn Wiki - Officially endorsed and well-updated Wiki
ForgottenKane’s Hardcore Survival Guide - Great guide for any new player, hardcore or not (still relevant and useful, although see below for his new guide)
ForgottenKane’s Survival Guide AoM Edition - Updated guide for expansion, with boss mechanics and suggestions; a highly recommended read

[011] Tools
The Maphack - Great tool to plan out routes, find secrets, and spawn locations; now also includes Expansion maps
Grimtools - Incredible site by Dammitt, with item database, build calculator, and now a monster database
Please note: When looking at someone’s build link, hover over an attribute name, such as Physique, to see how many points have been assigned. To see skill points without +skills, hold CTRL+SHIFT on the skill screen. You can also see an item’s min/max values by clicking on the Cog icon in the top left, selecting “Item attributes” and “Show min/max values”.

[012] Builds
Forum Build Compendium V - Lots of pre-expansion builds
Vitality Conjurer - Beginner friendly; oft cited as the easiest character to start as with no gear, guide by ForgottenKane
Witchblade - Beginner friendly; a top Crucible build, effective even without end gear (this was my first 85 to clear Ultimate), guide by Drizzto
Witch Hunter - Beginner friendly; a top DoT caster Campaign build, decent without end gear (my first character, first to reach Ultimate before I switched to Witchblade, but second to hit 85 and clear Ultimate), guide by TomoDaK
Pet Pyromancer - Beginner friendly; the top pet build pre-expansion, guide by DaShiv

Forum Build Compendium VI - New builds post-AoM expansion
Powerful Gladiator Crucible Builds - An excellent thread compiling tested builds that can quickly/easily clear Crucible on the hardest difficulty; I’d suggest looking through this thread and picking one that suits your play style (these are optimized builds with very specific gear; don’t expect to get this type of gear quickly and in some cases the builds require very specific items to even work)
Vitality Cabalist - Strong starter build built with only bought faction gear (i.e. no need to farm gear since all gear is purchasable) that can get you through all Campaign content through Ultimate; includes detailed leveling guide
2H Lightning Elementalist - Great starter build with faction and crafted gear; includes detailed leveling guide, by Stupid Dragon
Gunslinger Tactician - Another great starter build by Stupid Dragon if you want to be ranged

A few general notes about build choices:

  • The version in front of a build such as [] indicates when the build was created; it’s rare for a build to be completely invalidated by a later version and if things have changed to a large extent there’s usually a later post in the same thread explaining what to tweak – basically, don’t avoid a build because it’s for an “old” version; it’s still probably very relevant!
  • For beginners, most any class combination that includes Soldier is a good choice, since it provides natural tankiness without requiring gear; it also makes for decent Crucible farmers, who can help you gear up as Crucible is one of the most efficient ways to get legendaries.
  • Excellent starting builds also include vitality damage based casters, which are not gear dependent (decent damage just from skills). Vallenhael’s Ravenous Earth Ritualist is another good example in addition to the Vitality Cabalist above.
  • A note about builds you find on these forums: I have over 400 hours played at this point and have only put together one legendary set (Kriegs), and that’s only because its pieces are farmable from specific bosses. Most everything else is randomly dropped, so while many builds look cool and are good to work towards (and in many cases work fine without ALL the pieces), a lot will be out of your reach for a long time. Focus on builds starting out that do well with self-found/use faction gear, like the two links above for AoM. You’ll be happier you did, rather than running into a wall in Ultimate because you’re missing all the important pieces for that awesome build you found on the forums.
  • To that end, look for builds that require g3 or less in the build compendium; Chthon in particular has a lot of fairly new player friendly builds available and there are of course many others if you take the time to look.

II - Game Mechanics

[020] Classes, Attributes, and Skill Points

  • You will choose one of six (eight with expansion, marked with ) classes (Soldier, Demolitionist, Occultist, Nightblade, Arcanist, Shaman, Inquisitor, Necromancer*) at level 2 and can choose a second class at level 10.
  • Once you multi class, your class name will change depending on the combination; until you learn them by heart, here’s a class table on the wiki.
  • After selecting a class, you invest skill points into the class mastery to unlock skills in that class (more skills are unlocked the more Mastery points you invest).
  • Max level is 85 for base game with 100 as cap with Ashes of Malmouth expansion.
  • At max level, after all bonus attribute/skill point quests are completed, you will have 90 attribute points and 223 skill points to distribute (base game) or 105 attribute points and 244 skill points (expansion).
  • Note: this is not enough points to even max out all skill points in a single tree, let alone two, so there’s a great deal of build diversity (not to mention different gear, devotions, and component possibilities).
  • You gain 1 attribute point per level.
  • You gain 3 skill points per level to level 50, after which you earn 2 points per level. After 90, you earn 1 point per level.
  • Attributes are Physique (health, health regen, reduced chance to be critically hit), Cunning (bonus physical, pierce, and bleed damage, chance to hit, critical hit chance), and Spirit (bonus magic damage, energy, energy regen).
  • You can refer to build guides for attribute allocation but the general rule is: enough Spirit and Cunning to wear your end game gear at max level, the rest in Physique.
  • With exception for certain builds, Cunning is often completely ignored and a mix of ~70/20 Physique/Spirit is fairly common for base game, with a similar ratio or all Physique in expansion.
  • It’s a good idea to save attribute points in the last 5-10 levels in case you find a piece of gear for which you’ll need to invest more points in a category you’re short in.
  • Attribute points cannot generally be changed after investing, except with the Tonic of Reshaping, an item rewarded after first side quest in expansion that also has a small chance to be dropped by Nemesis bosses.
  • Skill points (including Mastery points now, although only down to 1; you can’t change Masteries once chosen) and Devotion points can be altered at a cost at the Spirit Guide, which is cheap to start but goes up the more points you change.
  • Additionally, Devotion points can now be reset with Tonic of Clarity, a reward from one of the first expansion quests, with small chance to drop from Nemesis bosses.
  • Skill points invested in Masteries not only unlock more abilities but provide base stats (Physique, Cunning, Spirit, as well as Health and Energy).
  • While you can level as a pure class up through Normal/Veteran, it’s recommended to multiclass for higher difficulties (due to the skill synergies this opens up, as well as the additional class’s Mastery points adding more raw attributes/health/energy).
  • You can hover over the “+” Mastery icon or the Attribute name to see how many points you’ve invested.

[021] Skills and the Skill Tree

  • Active skills (that must be cast or toggled) have square icons and passives have circles.
  • Toggled skills need only be cast once (at start of play, usually, to toggle them on), but reserve a certain amount of your Energy bar (i.e. if you have 1000 Energy and a skill reserves 150 Energy, after toggling it on, you will only have a max of 850 Energy to use).
  • You can only have one “Exclusive” skill active at a time, from ANY tree (so you can’t have an exclusive Arcanist and exclusive Soldier skill active at the same time, for example).
    [li]After placing a point in an active skill that starts a path (i.e. the horizontal line progression of abilities), you do not need to take points in all sequential abilities to put points in a higher tier. For example, you can do this:[/li]
    [li]Transmuters are the offshoot/branch abilities in any particular skill progression. For example, the transmuter for the base skill Dreeg’s Evil Eye (DEE) in the Occultist tree is Focused Gaze:[/li]
  • Transmuters are 1 to 3 point passives that fundamentally change how the skill works. In this case, it adds a cooldown to DEE, but adds significantly more damage and AoE.
  • Many skills (active and toggled that you can put on your skill bar, as well as passive, which you cannot) are available only through components.
  • Components are random drops that can be added to specific item types (depending on component).
  • Many builds/leveling guides will advocate leveling with component skills as your primary skill, which can be confusing for new players who might not know how to get this skill. For example, Arcanists often level with Olexra’s Flash Freeze (OFF). While OFF deals cold damage, it’s even better when paired with the Searing Ember and Flintcore Bolts components, which can be added to your main and offhand. These grant Fireblast and Greater Fireblast respectively, skills that can be added to your skill bar, and deal fire damage (obviously), which pairs well with the fire resists reduction (RR) provided by OFF.

[022] Devotions

  • Devotions are accessed from the skill tree menu and consist of a series of constellations, in which each individual star takes a devotion point and provides a permanent passive bonus or new ability.
  • Stars with a red aura are Celestial abilities that can be bound to an existing active skill that will have a chance to proc when that skill is cast (click on the star to see available skills to bind to and select from).
  • You can use the Spirit Guide to respec points (unlearn points), as well as use the new expansion Tonic of Clarity to refund all points.
  • With the exception of the center (the Crossroads), every constellation has an affinity requirement before you can place points in it.
  • There are 5 affinities: Ascendant (purple), Chaos (red), Eldritch (green), Order (yellow), and Primordial (blue).
  • All tier 1 constellations require only 1 point in their affinity to unlock, which you can get via the Crossroads, since it contains each affinity.
  • Once you complete a constellation, it will provide bonus affinity points to unlock further tiers.
  • There are 3 tiers, with tier 3 providing the most powerful bonuses and abilities (tier 2 usually requires ~5 affinity points, and tier 3 has high requirements with no completion bonus).
  • Constellation completion bonuses can pay for themselves. For example, you put one point in the blue Crossroads (top star). You now put three points into Eel (requires 1 blue), to complete it. The completion bonus for Eel grants 5 blue. You can now unlearn the point in the blue Crossroads and you’ll keep Eel, since you have 5 blue points (which counts towards the 1 required for Eel).
  • Commonly, builds will spec into and out of various Crossroads as they unlock more things/complete constellation bonuses.
  • Devotion points are gained by cleansing shrines found throughout the Campaign (locations are set, although each difficulty removes more shrines).
  • There are 59 shrines in total, 28 in Normal, 17 in Elite, 14 in Ultimate (base game); you can cleanse them all but only gain a maximum of 50 devotion points (55 in expansion).
  • See the wiki for a list of shrine locations, including the new expansion shrines (6 more locations, some appearing in only certain difficulties).
  • Even after max devotion points, shrines are still worth cleansing, since they provide a decent set of item drops.
  • Alternatively, you can use the Crucible DLC and spend tribute points earned therein to gain devotion points (more on the Crucible and tributes later), or a combination of both shrine cleansing and tributes.

III - Gameplay

[030] Miscellaneous Info

  • On Campaign mode, there are three difficulties: Normal, Elite, Ultimate; whereas on Crucible these are Aspirant, Challenger, Gladiator.
  • You unlock the next difficulty in Campaign after killing the final boss in Act 4 (you’ll unlock it even if you don’t turn in the quest) and unlock the next difficulty in Crucible by completing all 150 waves without dying.
  • Each successive difficulty buffs monsters and provides a penalty on your top row resists (-25% on Elite, -50% on Ultimate, with additional -25% on bottom row on Ultimate). This Reddit post contains additional details.
  • Normal has an optional “Veteran” checkbox that will have more mobs spawn as well as more hero monsters; if you have any ARPG experience, Veteran is the way to go unless you’re speed running through to a higher difficulty.
  • Normal/Veteran is for approximately character levels 1 to 50-55, Elite 50-55 to 70-75, and Ultimate 70-75 to 85 (base game).
  • You can open a rift gate from the map (press M), then toggle to the world map, and teleport directly to that rift (without having to open your own rift gate by pressing L).

[031] Campaign

  • Whether or not you have the Crucible DLC, your first play through should absolutely be through the Campaign, full clearing maps to flesh out the map/explore/read lore/etc.
  • The general map layout is always the same (not randomly generated). However, impassable blocks are randomly generated in different play sessions, so you’ll have to take a slightly different route to go through the same area.
  • There are secret areas that don’t show up on the minimap, but you can wander off the trail (or destroy a breakable wall to enter). You can use the maphack site for these locations or find them yourself.
  • Secrets often occur by following points sticking out on the map (i.e. if you keep following this little “finger” there’s usually a secret area).
  • Some secret areas are only accessible after destroying non-clickable environment (like wardrobes).
  • One-shot chests are chests that are only available to open once per difficulty (Normal/Elite/Ultimate); after opening, they will not be present in future sessions on that character in that difficulty.
  • One-shot chests are guaranteed to drop an epic with a chance for a legendary on Elite/Ultimate difficulties; items are scaled to the level of the area, not level of the player.
  • One-shot chests appear as “Exalted Stash” when mousing over.
  • See the wiki for one-shot chest locations.
  • Pick up and read lore notes (they’ll be in your inventory) for good XP as well as some fascinating lore reading (truly, Grim Dawn has awesome lore).

[032] Acts
While not obvious in game, outside resources divide the game into four acts (in base game, two more in expansion), which consist of the following (locations in parentheses are where Challenge Dungeons are located):

Act 1

Main town is Devil’s Crossing, set in the swamps and backwaters of Burrwitch; you primarily fight Slith and Aetherials; final boss is Warden Krieg

Rift Locations: Devil’s Crossing, Lower Crossing, Wightmire, Foggy Bank, The Flooded Passage, Burrwitch Outskirts, Burrwitch Village, The Warden’s Cellar, Underground Transit, Hidden Laboratory

Act 2

Explore the other side of Devil’s Crossing, the ancient ruins of Old Arkovia; you fight the undead of Arkovia and Cronley’s Gang; final boss is Darius Cronley

Rift Locations: Arkovian Foothills, Old Arkovia, Cronley’s Hideout, Twin Falls, Broken Hills (Steps of Torment), Smuggler’s Pass

Act 3

Involves reaching Homestead to help with Devil’s Crossing food shortage; you’re introduced to the Chthonian threat; final boss is Karroz, Sigil of Ch’thon

Rift Locations: Deadman’s Gulch, Prospector’s Trail, Pine Barrens, Homestead (Port Valbury), Rotting Croplands, Sorrow’s Bastion, The Blood Grove, Darkvale Gate

Act 4

Set in the mountainous region of Asterkarn, main town becomes Fort Ikon; you work with the Black Legion to address the Chthonian threat; final boss is Loghorrean, the Voice of Ch’thon

Rift Locations: Asterkarn Road, Asterkarn Valley, Fort Ikon, Gates of Necropolis, Necropolis Interior (Bastion of Chaos)

Act 5

Set in the forests north of Burrwitch Village while en route to Malmouth; final boss is Ekket’Zul, Progenitor of Darkness. Spoiler: The act ends after rescuing Ulgrim.

Rift Locations: Gloomwald, Gloomwald Crossing, Coven’s Refuge, Ugdenbog, Barrowholm

Act 6

Set in the city of Malmouth, infested by the Aetherials; final boss is The Master of Flesh ~ Theodin Marcell.

Rift Locations: Lone Watch, Malmouth Outskirts, Malmouth Sewers, Malmouth Steelcap District, Crown Hill

[033] Quests

Some quests will only be available after a certain point (such as inventor quest for Origin of the Slith or to break down items; need to get to Act 2 and get Dynamite before he offers it, even if on later difficulties you already have Dynamite).

Turn in the final quest (Bane of Cairn) after level 50. It will provide a guaranteed legendary (legendaries can only drop at monster level 50+ but quest turn in takes into account your level instead).[/li]

Several mutually exclusive choices are available in campaign. For your first play through, just do whatever you think best. You can change all your choices at each difficulty level, so nothing’s permanent. However, you’ll want to make certain decisions in Elite/Ultimate for your build for endgame. There’s no way to reverse the decisions once you’ve taken them in a difficulty (besides starting a new character).

For the arguably “best” choices (or a discussion of options), see below spoilers:

Act 1: A Cultist in the Midst

Kill Direni, gives Devil’s Crossing rep and rare material Blood of Ch’thon; letting him live means fighting him later, no rep, and while you get a guaranteed Strange Key to enter the Depraved Sanctuary, this is easily dropped by cultists nearby

Act 1: The Ironclad Chef

Let Ulgrim know about Devil’s Crossing (otherwise you miss out on rep, XP, and some lore conversations)

Act 1: The Origin of the Slith

Give him formula to get some iron bits in addition to XP, as well as a follow up quest/XP in Act 6

Act 1: Tale of Two Blacksmiths

Side with Duncan for more XP in normal, makes no difference in later difficulties, so choose for your build; generally speaking, Angrim is the better choice because his bonuses are more useful for endgame content like Gladiator Crucible

Act 2: Paying Tributes

Bribing Silas will get you 3 scrap, but lose out on some XP and additional quests, though people are happier; otherwise can give him scrap/kill him to unlock further quest and more XP

Act 2: Vengeance

Believe Isaiah, he’ll be a vendor in Homestead, with better prices if you don’t extort him

Act 2: The Lost Elder

Return talisman for more rep and iron; if you keep it, you’ll get a relic, which can be nice early on lacking other choices, and each difficulty gives you an upgraded version

Act 2: A Family Crisis

Choose the second line of each dialogue option to convince him to come to Devil’s Crossing for XP and an item

Act 2: Cronley's Secret

Destroy crystal and keep some for some Aether Crystals

Act 3: Allies Among the Ashes

Depends, see Kymon vs Order section; generally, pick the faction you want for endgame in Ultimate, and choose the other faction in Normal/Elite

Act 3: Burn the Taken

Save her and she will appear in Act 5 and reward you with XP and reputation

Act 3: Trapped and Alone

Kill her in crypt will yield Rover rep; helping Kalista will yield a Riftstone

Act 4: Precious Resources

Give to Black Legion, since it’s harder to get rep with them

Act 4: The Aetherial Witch

Side with Anasteria for best Aether resist augments, can optionally kill her for access to Ikon Prison dungeon which yields great Black Legion rep and can farm Anasteria’s legendary helm. See the Notes section in link for more discussion on how to handle this quest, see her wiki entry

Act 5: The Wraith of Ugdenbog

Help Ugdall for Coven of Ugdenbog rep; if you kill him, you miss the rep but do gain more XP

Act 5: A Witch's Bargain

If you befriend Scorv, you’ll become Friendly with Barrowholm and have access to their faction augments and the uber boss similar to Avatar of Mogdrogen called Ravager, the Wendigo Spirit; if you attack him, you’ll have access to the Barrowholm Nemesis.

Act 5: Meddling Witch

If you kill her, you lose 250 rep with the Coven, but can farm her as a boss; if you spare her, she’ll end up dead anyway but you don’t lose the rep and you get a Wendigo Spirit rare crafting material[/spoiler]

[details=Act 6: The Bloodsworn Damned]help them escape for a Blood of Ch’thon; you can leave them to die for more XP and Black Legion rep if needed

Quests can be completed in each difficulty level and some you should definitely do for extra skill/attribute points. These are:

Act 1: Kasparov's Experiment

Give him 4 Aether Crystals (1 skill point)

Act 1: The Hidden Path

Kill all hidden path bosses to unlock final temple, kill The Sentinel and speak to the Attendant (1 skill point, 1 attribute point)

Act 2: A Merciful End

Kill Lutra, the harpy (1 attribute point)

Act 6: The Other You

Expansion quest (1 skill point awarded on Ultimate difficulty only)

Quests that provide an inventory bag (to a maximum of 5):

Act 1: And Not a Drop to Drink

Slay Viloth to clean water for Devil’s Crossing

Act 2: Clearing the Way

Destroy barricade

Act 3: Culling the Swarm

Kill swarm queen

Act 4: Precious Resources

Recover Legion supplies

Expansion quests that provide the new tonics to reset attribute and devotion points:

Act 5: Desperate Measures (Tonic of Clarity)
Act 5: Lost Father (Tonic of Reshaping)
Act 6: A Sister's Love (Tonic of Clarity)

Some quests only become available after certain reputation level with specific factions:


Act 2: A Royal Remedy (Rovers)
Act 3: Lost Armaments (Black Legion)
Act 3: A Final Salute (Black Legion)
Act 3: Lumber for the Legion (Black Legion)
Act 5: Wendigo Wards (Barrowholm)
Act 5: Travelers Beware (Barrowholm)
Act 5: Mine Pests (Barrowholm)
Act 5: Meddling Witch (Barrowholm)


Act 1: Dangerous Curiosity (Devil’s Crossing)
Act 4: Black Heart of the Void (The Outcast)
Act 5: Power in the Circles (Coven of Ugdenbog)
Act 5: The Feast (Barrowholm)
Act 6: The Blackiron Docks (Malmouth Resistance)


Act 1: The Origin of the Slith (Devil’s Crossing)
Act 2: Rhowari Legacy (Rovers)
Act 3: Making a Deal (Homestead)
Act 3: The Search for Uroboruuk (Order of Death’s Vigil)
Act 3: Kymon’s Secret (Kymon’s Chosen)
Act 4: Legion Retribution (Black Legion)
Act 5: The Final Seal (Coven of Ugdenbog)
Act 5: Cast Off the Flesh (Barrowholm)
Act 6: The Other You (Coven of Ugdenbog)
Act 6: Rise of the Insurgence (Malmouth Resistance)

There are some secret quest chains that are worth doing, but you may or may not want to discover these for yourself. If you want to learn how to access these and are OK with spoilers, read on:

Guides for secret quests

The Hidden Path secret quest chain
Base game secret quest
AoM Expansion secret quest

[034] Factions and Reputation

  • On your first character, once you hit Honored with a faction, buy a Writ to increase rep gain by 50% on that character for that faction.
  • Once you’re Revered, you can buy Mandates to put in your shareable stash. Other characters can then take/use these items to get 100% rep gain with that faction (but it’s a one time use item, so for multiple characters, you’ll need to buy it multiple times).
  • The Outcast, if you choose to be hostile, does not have a Nemesis at Hated, but she will be more powerful, with increased spawns in her dungeon
    [li]Once you reach the end of the Hated bar for various factions (primarily by killing members of that faction), it will unlock a Nemesis boss monster that will spawn in certain random locations for that faction. These are:[/li]Aetherials: Valdaran, the Storm Scourge
    Undead: Moosilauke, the Chillwind
    Cronley’s Gang: Fabius “the Unseen” Gonzar
    Chthonians: Benn’Jhar, the Colossal
    Kymon’s Chosen: The Iron Maiden
    Order of Death’s Vigil: Zantarin, the Eternal
  • Ashes of Malmouth expansion Nemesis bosses are:
    Aetherial Vanguard: Archmage Aleksander
    Beasts: Kubacabra, the Endless Menace
    Barrowholm: Reaper of the Lost
    Chthonians: Grava’Thul, the Voiddrinker
  • There’s a chance on killing a Nemesis to get a Warrant, which, when used on another character (can put in shared stash), will increase your reputation loss with that faction (to get to Nemesis faster, similar to a Mandate but for negative rep gain).
1 Like

Grim Dawn New Player Knowledge Compendium Contd.

[035] Kymon’s Chosen vs Order of Death’s Vigil

  • You must make a choice in Act 3 to side with one or the other faction.
  • This will put your rep as Friendly with one, Despised for the other.
  • Kymon’s Chosen/Order of Death’s Vigil are located on opposite sides of Sorrow’s Bastion (when you side with one, and then change in another difficulty, it’s easy to go to the wrong side).
  • Both factions have different augments available at Revered reputation.
  • Based on your end game gear, you’ll want to pick the faction with augments you need on Ultimate difficulty.
  • The exception to this is if you’ve chosen Necromancer mastery, in which case you will be unable to side with Kymon’s, making the Order your default (and only) choice.
  • Once you’ve made that choice, pick the other faction on Normal/Elite to build up rep to Revered, stock up on augments of the opposing faction, then switch on Ultimate.
  • After you’ve switched to a different faction, the other faction won’t be accessible on other difficulties (i.e. you can’t go back to Elite to get more augments from the old faction after allying with a different one in Ultimate).
  • This choice is slightly less important now with the expansion, since most of their augments are replaced by better ones from the new factions.
  • If you’re not sure which way to go, Kymon’s is a popular choice, since they have better lightning resist augments and there are many bosses that deal lightning damage with lightning RR, so overcapped lightning resist is especially important (in Crucible and/or vs. bosses like Avatar of Mogdrogen and Valdaran).

[036] Challenge Dungeons

  • There are challenge dungeons (rogue-likes) that you cannot teleport out of until completion or death that require a Skeleton Key (craftable one-use item) to open.
  • Generally speaking, save your keys for Ultimate difficulty after you’re geared a bit, to get the best loot/best chance of completing it without dying.
  • However, trying them out on Normal or Elite is a good idea to get a feel for them the first time.
  • The dungeons consist of multiple challenging levels followed by a boss at the end.
    [li]These dungeons with their bosses are:[/li]Steps of Torment (SoT): Alkamos, Lord Executioner
    Port Valbury: Overlod Van Aldritch
    Bastion of Chaos (BoC): Shar’Zul, Harbinger of Chaos
  • I highly recommend you cap (or overcap) resists before attempting the various challenge dungeons; this makes a huge difference (I played Port Valbury without maxed Aether resist and got destroyed, did it with capped Aether and had an easy time).
  • There will be a new rogue-like dungeon coming in the December 2017 update, The Fall of Port Valbury.

[037] Notable Bosses

  • Besides the act end-bosses (Krieg, Cronley, Karroz, Loghorrean), there are other notable bosses (particularly those that drop MIs).
  • A quick reference:
  • Anasteria - can be fought as final boss of Ikon Prison if choosing to side with Black Legion over her; can drop Outcast’s Secret helm
  • Avatar of Mogdrogen - can fight him by making him mad (do so with caution!) after cleansing the Shrine of Mogdrogen, a quest available on each difficulty only after being Honored with the Rovers; can drop Mantle of Mogdrogen shoulders
  • Gollus, the Deepdweller - boss in secret area of Den of the Lost, accessed through the Royal Hive via Skittering Den; he drops the sought after Gollus’ Ring
  • Guardians of Dreeg/Solael/Bysmiel - all part of the Hidden Path quest chain; unique bosses that have a chance of dropping the X-Sect Legguards used in many endgame builds
  • Loxmere Nightmage - a hero mob with 40% chance to spawn in Elite and Ultimate only in Plains of Strife; can drop Loxmere’s Frostblade
  • Rashalga, the Mad Queen - secret boss in the Hidden Path secret quest chain, accessed by touching a Loose Stone in the Bysmiel area (be careful, if you don’t know how to fight her, she will wreck you); can drop Mad Queen’s Claw dagger
  • Salazar, Blade of Ch’thon - boss in Depraved Sanctuary, which requires a Strange Key to enter per difficulty, which can randomly drop from cultists; can drop Salazar’s Sovereign Blade

[038] Boss Fight Mechanics/Tips

  • Now that ForgottenKane has updated his survival guide for the expansion, rather than duplicating content, just go see his thread.
  • It has a fantastic explanation of each boss, their mechanics, damage types, and tips for fighting them.
  • Now also see Dammitt’s monster database in grimtools, which lists all monsters and their abilities (super helpful to understand what’s killing you/how to prepare to fight them).

[039] Crucible

  • The Crucible is optional DLC that adds an “arena” mode that pits you against waves of monsters.
  • The monsters do not drop items, but once you decide to stop (you can stop every 10 waves or finish all 150 waves), you get a reward based on how well you did (you get an extra reward for a high points score, which means killing each wave under the time limit).
  • The final reward consists of multiple chests (depending on how high you cleared and on what difficulty) that can drop MIs, epics, and legendaries, as well as components.
  • This is probably the best way to farm for items, provided you can efficiently complete Gladiator waves 100-150 (or at least Challenger 100-150).
  • Monsters are scaled to your level on all difficulties, but have more HP/do more damage on higher difficulties.
  • After each 10 waves, you get a number of tributes, which can be spent on unlocking devotion points (useful early on), or buffing yourself for more runs.
  • You can also buy Celestial Blessings to buff you, Beacons or Banners (towers that either do damage or buff you when nearby respectively), as well as use tributes to restart at checkpoints (i.e. start at wave 50 or 100 if you’ve already cleared it, or a nearby wave if you died).
  • As you get higher up in waves, Mutators apply, which are random effects on the monsters that apply various effects to them.
  • See the wiki for more details on Crucible mechanics.
  • Once you’re able to farm Crucible, you can have an infinite loop (where the number of tributes you spend will yield slightly more on wave completion).
    [li]As per Drizzto, the standard tribute usage for infinite loop (starting with a minimum of 64 tributes) is:[/li]Vanguard Banner Level 3 (25 tributes)
    Might of Amatok Blessing (12 tributes)
    Empyrion’s Guidance Blessing (12 tributes)
    Raise the Stakes [to start at wave 100] (15 tributes)
  • A clear of waves 100-150 rewards you 66 tributes on Gladiator.
  • To keep going, you can restart at checkpoint (wave 130) twice in a row (first time you start at checkpoint costs 5 tributes, second time costs 15, third time costs 30, which is not worth it since the cost is more than a Level 3 Banner). Two time checkpoint restart yields the best rewards for minimal cost.

IV - Gearing and Leveling
[040] Items

  • MI = Monster Infrequent, a rare item (green) that only drops from specific boss monsters (only some of the time), with possibility for different prefix and suffix.
  • The reason these are considered the most rare/hard to find items is that you have to farm the particular boss, only have a chance for it to drop (not guaranteed), then it has to have the prefix and suffix you want to be godly (and usually the prefix and suffix are rare, so you are looking for double rare MI).
  • To get them, farm the boss of associated name (the various leggings of Dreeg-Sect, Solael-Sect, etc. are dropped by the Guardians in the Hidden Path chain).
  • Legendaries are “easier” to find than MIs because they don’t have to roll any particular combination of affixes since they roll guaranteed attributes.
  • Use shift+left-click to automatically move an item to your stash (and stack with duplicates if possible).
  • Use the sort button to sort everything alphabetically. If you press it more than once it will organize in different ways (vertically vs horizontally, components first or last).
  • I initially avoided using the auto-sort but after spending time trying to alphabetize my components and clicking on it by mistake, I realized it alphabetizes for you, which makes finding particular components quick and (relatively) painless.
  • Items become soulbound if they are purchased from a faction vendor or if you add an augment.
  • You can remove the soulbound status by removing the augment at the Inventor (which will leave any added components intact).
  • Soulbound items cannot be traded or placed in the shared stash (so you can’t give it to one of your other characters until you remove the augment).
    [li]There is a loot filter on the left of the health bar (a small triangle), which can be toggled between showing Common+, Magic+, Rare+, Epic+, Legendary only:[/li]
  • If you’re seeing things sparkle on the ground but you can’t interact with it, check your loot filter setting (after Normal/Veteran, or even after at least having all magic items, I recommend setting to rare, which will make things faster as you don’t have to wade through a bunch of yellows and your gear will be just as good; you also don’t want to go higher than this because you want to make sure you can pick up MIs).
  • For more information on item color, see this fantastic guide by Bobymitch.
  • Expansion adds a new Mythical tier of items, as well as new items/sets.
  • You can still get all the old sets at a higher item level, so a lot of old builds can simply be adapted to the newer gear with some additional points to spend.

[041] Farming for Items

  • Either do fast 100-150 Challenger Crucible runs or 100-150 gladiator runs if you can do it consistently; ideally in a group.
  • Crucible can drop all legendaries, even MIs, so it’s a good way to farm for items assuming you have this DLC.
  • For Campaign and/or solo, farm MIs from respective hero monsters and by the time you get those perfect MIs, you’ll have plenty of legendaries too.
  • You can also farm mats to craft random legendaries at Etram Fald in Tyrant’s Hold.
  • For components, common drop from specific mob types (e.g. Ectoplasm drops from undead, Bristly Fur from beasts, etc.).
  • For rare components, these drop randomly from chests and hero spawns, so any area with high density hero spawns and chests/breakable objects (like hives, scrap piles, etc.) are where you should farm them (such as Swarming Hive in Twin Falls).
  • Nemesis chests (available after killing a Nemesis boss) have a good chance to drop blueprints, so you can farm Nemesis bosses for these (it’s important to keep in mind all of the legendary end game helms are crafted, as are the relics, so you want blueprints).
  • Here are the loot tables if you want to see drop chances.
  • For new players with Crucible, start with a Crucible farmer build (usually Soldier + something else) and run Challenger 100-150 until you have the gear to do Gladiator for even better/more loot.
  • A good farming route in pre-expansion content (still viable and useful post-expansion) is Royal Hive, Forsaken Wastes, and Obsidian Throne (per Chthon).

[042] Items to keep in your Stash

  • You can use GD Stash or similar mod as mentioned in ForgottenKane’s Hardcore Survival Guide, but if you’re playing vanilla, after some time, even with multiple tabs, your stash will fill up with epics and legendaries and you’ll have to pick and choose what to keep.
  • Beyond keeping end game equipment you want for alts, I recommend keeping various items and sets that will expedite the leveling process for pretty much any character.
  • Keep in mind that many sets exist in a normal version plus an “empowered version” which are considered different sets (i.e. you can’t get a 2-piece set bonus wearing a normal set plus an empowered set item of same name).
  • Here’s a list (with set items in parentheses being most useful), and some are craftable so will be a blueprint drop rather than a regular drop, so double-check at the Blacksmith if you have it already.
  • Sets: Guardsman’s Raiment (Spaulders, Breastplate), Explorer’s Garments (Trousers, Footpads), Maiven’s Sanctuary (Hood, Lens, Tome if caster), Perdition (all), The Praetorian (all), Herald’s Regalia (all)
  • Non-set Armor: Glory of the Silver Knight, Warlord’s Spaulders, Alchemist’s Belt, Oldenar’s Stabilizer, Chthonian Thread Sash, Zealot’s Gauntlets, Runic Bracers, Legplates of Valor, Hermit’s Legguards, Swampdweller’s Legguards, Mistwalker Leggings, Templar’s Leg Armor, The Final March
  • Mainhand/offhand: Witchstalker (crafted), Spellfire Wand (crafted), Elementium
  • Jewelry: Obsidian Seal, Warp Shard, Slith Primal Ring (from quest, just to pass to others since it can be equipped before you could otherwise find it), Sister’s Amulet of Lifegiving (same as Slith Primal Ring)
  • Relics: Any basic relic you can craft that’s relevant to your character (Equilibrium, Squall, Conflagration, Arbiter, Deathchill, etc.)

[043] Gearing

  • There are more resists than listed in main sheet (physical, trauma, life leech, etc.); you can see on tab 3 of the character sheet.
  • Only the ones on the first tab receive penalties on higher difficulties.
  • Use augments to round out your resistances; ideally you want everything at the 80% cap (bleed and stun are slightly less important than others).
  • Even better is to overcap resists, since some bosses/enemies will use resist reduction spells on you, leaving you no longer capped out (unless you’re well overcapped; Aetherial Nemesis Valdaran and lightning resists come to mind).
  • While %damage of your primary damage type is nice, you don’t want to get overly focused on it; it has diminishing returns and it’s much more important to have resists capped and have decent OA/DA (Offensive Ability/Defensive Ability) with good health and health regen.
  • Don’t worry about putting components or augments on items in Normal (except those to provide skills to help level), but consider adding some on Elite and definitely in Ultimate (I finished Ultimate on my first play through with a Witchblade with only half of my items having components, but everything had an augment to round out my resists).
  • Remember that if you put a component in an item and want it back later, you have to destroy the item (or keep the item and lose the component), so choose wisely.
  • Augments can be overwritten at any time and they’re always purchasable from vendors, so feel free to change these around as needed.
  • Elite Harvest Footpads can be purchased from the Homestead Quartermaster at Revered and are a great item to round out resists in Ultimate until you find your end game gear.
  • In a similar vein, the fairly easily found Empowered Legplates of Valor are a good substitute for those triple-rare MI Dreeg/Solael/Bysmiel-Sect Legguards used in most end game builds.
  • The legs and boots in most end game builds are usually just stat sticks to max out resists, so substitute Elite Harvest Footpads + Empowered Legplates of Valor and then adjust some of the augments for resists accordingly. This is more than sufficient to use until you eventually find some of those MIs.
  • The Exalted Stonehide Treads of Kings or similar you see on a lot of builds are a crafted item at the blacksmith; it actually appears as a magic item: Heavy/Imperial/Exalted Treads or Preserver/Redeemer Treads in expansion, depending on Physique requirements.
  • These will become a rare if they roll one or more rare attributes; it can take a lot of crafts to get the attributes you’re looking for, making these somewhat similar to an MI in rarity.

[044] Crafting

  • Some items can drop but also be crafted (you’re more likely to get the blueprint than the item to drop).
  • To craft an item, you need to find the blueprint first (there are some that can be purchased from faction vendors).
  • Once you use the blueprint, it’s craftable at any blacksmith and is craftable by any of your characters (they carry over).
  • If you get a blueprint you already know (from a quesst reward, which always reward the same blueprint, such as for Skeleton Key), you can vendor it safely, since the first time you learned it carried over to all your current and future characters.
  • If a duplicate blueprint rolls, it’s invisible, so it’ll seem like blueprint drops become rarer when you have most of them.
  • Check your Blacksmith for already known recipes, since some are known by default (certain crafting components that don’t drop but can be made from the materials that do drop).
  • You can also craft legendaries at the Blacksmith, Etram Fald, who is located in Tyrant’s Hold dungeon on Elite and Ultimate difficulties only.
  • He can craft random legendaries from 5 categories (Accessories, Armor, Caster Weapons, Melee Weapons, Ranged Weapons) for 75,000 Iron Bits, 1 Polished Emerald, and 8 rare crafting materials (depending on category, such as Ancient Hearts, Tainted Brain Matter, and Blood of Ch’thon). See Etram’s entry on the wiki for more details.
  • You can break down items (particularly epics and legendaries) at Devil’s Crossing (Inventor’s Apprentice) for rare crafting materials at cost of 1 Dynamite.
    [li]End game relics take a lot of materials and blueprints for all the subcomponents (not to mention the blueprint for the relic itself). To give you an idea of the materials required, the Mythic Relic Solael’s Decimation requires the following to craft: 3x Blood of Ch’thon (rare crafting material), 1x Eye of the Storm (relic), 1x Conflagration (relic), 1x Inferno (relic), 1x Symbol of Solael (rare component). But Eye of the Storm requires 3 other relics to be made first, and two crafted components (not to mention the requirements for these sub relics which also need relics and more materials). If you actually break down the raw materials needed, for all subcomponents, it comes out to (minus the blueprints for all the sub relics):[/li]65x Scrap, 19x Aether Crystal, 19x Scavenged Plating, 19x Searing Ember, 13x Bristly Fur, 12x Blood of Ch’thon, 9x Chilled Steel, 8x Cracked Lodestone, 8x Tainted Brain Matter, 6x Battered Shell, 6x Polished Emerald, 5x Chipped Claw, 4x Chthonic Seal of Binding, 3x Manticore Eye, 2x Ancient Heart, 2x Devil-Touched Ammo, 2x Frozen Heart, 2x Roiling Blood, 2x Serrated Spike, 1x Amber, 1x Consecrated Wrappings, 1x Ectoplasm, 1x Mutagenic Ichor, 1x Severed Claw, 1x Symbol of Solael, 1x Troll Bonecrusher, 1x Unholy Inscription
  • Finally, a note on Blacksmith choice (Angrim vs. Duncan). Each blacksmith will add specific attributes to gear you have them craft, so once you unlock a recipe, be sure to have your desired blacksmith craft it for you to get the extra attribute you want. See the Wiki Blacksmith page for more details.

[045] Leveling

  • To be clear, the first character you make, just play through the Campaign and enjoy exploring and discovering the lore.
  • Once you’ve had time enjoying your first play through and you’re starting to level alts, here are some tips for leveling quickly (tips courtesy of TomoDak and Goat in this thread).
  • For maximum efficiency, do not fully clear areas; the ideal strategy is to only kill heroes and what is getting in your way (kill heroes/bosses and ignore trash).
  • Only do main quests and side quests along the main path; the goal being to get to higher difficulties faster.
  • Stack movement speed from boots/devotions (Sailor’s Guide devotion for +8% MS, Eel devotion for +4% MS).
  • If your class has a dash, get it ASAP; if not, put a Riftstone on your weapon immediately when you hit level 25 (grants skill Chaos Strike, which is a teleport like ability).
  • There are two important types of skills for leveling quickly: a big AoE that melts through trash, and a gap closer for speed (or bonus movement speed skill); even if these won’t be part of your final build, you can always respec later.
  • These abilities can kill bosses quickly and one shot trash while you walk by, so you can drop your AoE and keep moving.
  • It also helps to invest some in healing/health regen abilities, such as Blood of Dreeg, Pneumatic Burst, or Mark of Renewal (bonus for the last two which also add movement speed bonuses).
    [li]Here are the common leveling skills per class (with gap closer in italics if there is one):[/li]Soldier: Blade Arc (without Clean Sweep), and/or Forcewave, Blitz
    Demolitionist: Explosive Strike (the Fire Strike upgrade), Stun Jacks, or Blackwater Cocktail (with High Potency transmuter), Vindictive Flame
    Occultist: Dreeg’s Evil Eye (with Focused Gaze transmuter), can add Curse of Frailty with Vulnerability for RR, plus Blood of Dreeg for survivability
    Nightblade: Amarasta’s Blade Burst, can add Veil of Shadow with Night’s Chill for RR, Pneumatic Burst for health regen/bonus speed, Shadow Strike
    Arcanist: Olexra’s Flash Freeze (pair with Fireblast/Greater Fireblast from Searing Ember/Flintcore Bolts components), can add Mirror of Ereoctes, Maiven’s Sphere of Protection, and Nullification for damage reduction
    Shaman: Devouring Swarm, can add the Mogdrogen’s Pact line for survivability (pretty standard to any Shaman build)
    Inquisitor: Storm Box of Elgoloth or Rune of Hagarrad, Word of Renewal
    Necromancer: Raise Skeletons or Ravenous Earth, add Spectral Binding for health
  • Generally speaking, put Mastery points into your primary damage skill, max it, then add some more Mastery and a few points in supporting skills, and consider adding Mastery into another class to get your speed/gap closer ability if it’s not the class you started with.
  • Even if you level in Campaign, if you have the Crucible DLC, it’s a good idea to use tribute points in Crucible to get 10 devotion points before heading back to Campaign; this means you’ll max out your devotion points in Elite (normally you don’t max out until near end of Ultimate).
    [li]Leveling plan incorporating Crucible:[/li][ol]
  • Start game on Veteran, get ~level 3 and a weapon, switch to Crucible.
  • Play Crucible until ~level 15. Use all Crucible points for devotion points (will have 50 points by middle of Elite).
  • Switch to Veteran Campaign. Put skill points in damage (devotions and skills). Put points in Spirit first for more Energy, then all Physique (depending on build).
  • Get Writs from other character to increase rep gain.
  • Do every convenient side quest and shrine until you have 50 devotion points.
  • On Elite, put components on gear and start adding defensive skill points. Be ~level 70 by end of Elite and respec into end game skills/gear.

[li]Here’s a link for primarily leveling in the Crucible.[/li]


So there’s my first post(s) and guide. Hope it helps someone. Please feel free to let me know of any errors or anything that should be added.

Also, man do I have much greater respect for well-formatted posts and guides out there now. BB coding everything to make it look nice is no joke. My guide gets a bit wall of text-y, so if anyone has suggestions on how to break it up a bit, feel free.

Voted for sticky. Excellent stuff.

Thank you. And stickied already! I refreshed this morning to check on it and couldn’t find it. At first I was thinking: “It got deleted?! WTF?” And then saw it was stickied at the top. Woot :smiley:

I think SuperFluff’s Commando is much more beginner friendly than his Ulzuin Sorcerer

It has Soldier in the mix and uses a shield. That usually guarantees safety


Thanks for this, hopefully this would stop people from asking for leveling guides

I don’t believe we’ll see these days somewhen :smiley:

I agree; I posted the Ulzuin one only because it seemed one of the strongest ranged builds. I know many players constantly want to know the best/strongest builds, which is why I linked that one. You’re right about delineating more between builds that are beginner friendly and those less so. I marked the Vitality Conjurer, Witchblade, Witch Hunter, and pet builds as beginner friendly. I don’t have experience with the others yet, so if they should be marked one way or the other, let me know.

Ha, yes. This is partly why I decided to post this here, in the (likely vain) hope that it will forestall such questions, or, more realistically, be something to link to when this gets asked.

Good post. It is quite useful to have all this information in one place.

I did notice an error: the Elite Harvest Footpads are purchased from Homestead and not Devil’s Crossing.

Thank you, somnium. Fixed.

very comprehensive and informative! thanks a lot!

You’re most welcome, kawhylenerd. Thanks for posting.

I just picked up the expansion, so will try to add expansion content when I can. I imagine most of this stuff will still apply, will just need to add level 100 builds, new class leveling abilities, and the new act/factions/Nemesis bosses.

thank you, It’s very useful.

Thanks for this man, it helped me a lot :smiley:

Incredible stuff, am obliged to you for posting this.

This is pure and best quality gold!


Very nice and informative guide for a beginner like myself, thanks for this.

I’m leveling my 1st character now, just finished Act 1 and started act 2. Just a couple of questions to make things clear.

  1. Do I have to finish all acts to start Elite?

  2. Do I use the same toon to start Elite? Do I start from scratch?

  3. If I start another toon on Elite, will I have access to everything I got with my 1st toon? ie. Iron bits, reputiation, gear, blueprints etc.

Sorry bout the noob questions, i’m totally new.

  1. Nope. Just kill Log and you should get a screen banner announcing you can access the next difficulty.

  2. Whichever toon kills Log can access next difficulty. Fresh toon starts in normal/vet.

  3. See 2. You can xfer most items via xfer stash.

What do you mean kill log?

Log is short for Loghorrean, the final boss in Act 4. So once you complete that final quest, it will unlock the next difficulty tier for that character. So on the main screen you toggle the difficulty from Normal/Veteran to Elite after completing it on Normal, then toggle to Ultimate after completing on Elite.