Plot Based Builds?

So, I’m brand new to this game, and as is my predilection in ARPGs, I was immediately drawn to pet builds like Necromancer & Occultist etc etc. But I’ve almost immediately run into the same issue I had back when I finally got my hands on a Necro class in Diablo 3, which was that the story just doesn’t seem to jell especially well with being a dark magics specialist. I get a weird dissonance when everyone is talking about the horrors of the dead rising through twisted and evil forces, while my squad of skeletons are doing their little jig right next to them…

Now, I know that as with most ARPGs, the story is only one part of the… Uhhh… Story. And inevitably, I will likely still make a mistress of the dark arts and cackle my way through the hordes of foes, paying little heed to the actual plot that I’ve already experienced. But for this first playthrough, I feel compelled to find something more… Thematically appropriate? But I find myself at a loss for what that might actually be.

Sure, I could just say hecc it and throw together a Paladin or something, but with such a robust character build system, and with the peculiar opening of being the abandoned husk of some malevolent spirit, I can’t help but wonder what else might suit the story.

So, yeah. I searched around and struggled to find anyone discussing this particular issue, and wondered if perhaps some folks in here might have any suggestions as to what path would best suit the tone and themes of the game’s story. I would appreciate any ideas :sparkling_heart:

Given that Death’s Vigil is working to help humanity and they are the necromancer faction, don’t think people mind you using skeletons to help.


I don’t really know much about the factions etc yet. Isn’t it kinda weird though when everyone is saying stuff like “Corpses don’t move on their own… There must be an evil source directing them to rise from their graves” and meanwhile I’m doing the exact thing they’re so vocally disturbed and angered by?

The aetherials are using that to be dicks, you are using it to help humanity. When facing possible extinction, drastic measures don’t seem to be much of an issue if it means actually staying alive.

Again, i don’t think people care what you are using as long it’s killing the enemy.

In terms of roleplay, you’re playing the Taken, a human that was possessed by an aetherial but was exorcized by the witch Sadhina at the beginning. So truly, you can be anyone, it doesn’t matter that much. The Devil’s Crossing villagers talk about the walking dead, but it’s not so much that there are undeads that scares them, because undead existed on Cairn before (explained later in the story), no, what is troubling them is that now there are undead everywhere, and the world has pretty much collapsed.

It’s like if you had a classic medieval (victorianish) fantastic world, with lots of different magic beings, among them the undead, but each staying in specific regions. And then, you got a zombie apocalyspe ala The Walking Dead.

As such, the survivors don’t really care anymore if you use dark magic to fight the hordes of zombies. Most villagers simply won’t know, because they’re trying to stay safe in the last safe-ish bastions. The remaining leaders will have a much more pragmatical approach (with a couple notable exceptions) as in, as long as you fight the bad guys, then you’re an ally.

So yeah, I’d say, play who you want, it doesn’t break immersion. If anything, you can simply imagine that your character doesn’t use spooky skeletons and other dark arts in town in order to not panic the NPCs.

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One of the things I like about GD is that it doesn’t take the simplistic “necromancy = chaotic evil” approach many RPG systems do. In Cairn, necromancy is a type of magic like any other, and what matters is how it’s used. Granted it’s a bit more controversial than some forms of magic (you’ll find some lore notes in Arkovia and learn more from the Order of Death’s Vigil later on).

As Norzan said, what the aetherials are doing is different from necromancy. Note that the aetherial monsters you’re fighting don’t have the Undead tag, nor do they give negative rep with the Undead faction, they’re labeled Aetherial Corruptions instead. And just because the aetherials are one of the enemy factions driving the plot doesn’t mean you can’t make a character who does aether damage - it’s another form of magic, how the tool is used matters more than what the tool is. Based on the lore notes, aether magic had quite a long history prior to the Grim Dawn.

If anything, as I understand the lore, chaos magic is the most dubious of all the options available to the player, but it’s still totally possible. And some of the factions sell gear and augments that directly supports it. In a post-apocalyptic setting all that matters is whether someone is capable and willing to help.

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You’ll learn more about the plot as you go, and I don’t want to spoil anything, but the common theme is that there is no universal “good” force in GD. Good mages, mages that try to hunt down other mages, occult practitioners, necromancy… all of this magic can be used for good or for ill. So yes, necromancy is definitely a moral grey area in GD, but in the beginning, you only interact with the mindlessly shambling sort of undead.

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Isn’t there like, a whole plot element about like, Inquisitors and Oathkeepers hunting and killing Occultists and the like? I could swear the description of them talked about hunting and persecuting dark magic wielders?

The lore notes do indicate that the Empire very tightly restricted magic, yes. As I understand it arcanists could train at the Gildam Arcanum, and any other magic-users were to be hunted down by inquisitors. “Dark magic” means “not sanctioned by the Empire”, that’s all. And the Empire ceased to exist when the Grim Dawn started.

Part of it was religious discrimination against the cults of the Witch Gods, as well. I’d take the moral judgments of Imperial inquisitors about as seriously as I would those of 17th century Puritan witch-hunters. :slight_smile: Or to put it another way, in terms of character flavor, I’d find playing an inquisitor more questionable than playing a necromancer (though I will try both eventually).

I can’t comment on Oathkeepers - I don’t have FG and haven’t really paid much attention to what’s in it.

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The Luminari Inquisition served the Empire by controlling and hunting unsanctionned magic users. But then, the Grim Dawn, a literal apocalypse, happened. Old rules don’t apply anymore. You can play the class you want, and no-one will bat an eye (well, as I said, a couple exceptions exist).

So yeah, you can play a Necromancer/Occultist that invoke skeletons and shoots Chaos bolts. Not many people left that will even bat an eye, and most will just be grateful that you use your powers to blast zombies (or worse beings) to protect them.

All classes have ties into the Lore, and if you check their descirptions, it’s all in the past tense, it gives you a global feel for what they’re about, but the Grim Dawn severed most ties, and changed the priorities, now, it’s just about surviving, not hunting witches or maintaining order.

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Hey man, welcome to the forums, and also to this awesome game!

What Ive found personally is that GD has its own kind of charm, which leaves a lot of room for your own creative vision to draw conclusions and answer these kinds of questions. As such, themes are not forced upon you but rather offered to you in the form of lore notes, and sparse NPC dialogue, combined with which classes you select, which celestials/constellations you worship through assignment of devotion points, and which factions you choose whenever choices are offered.

You are literally free to create your own purpose in this game, and thus, your entire backstory and/or justifications for why and how what youre playing is generally accepted by the surviving humans of Cairn is entirely up to you. Many members of the forum, myself included, even go so far as to create fan fiction for the builds we make. This is only possible due to how open ended the game design is, with just enough detail to keep things flavorful and within the bounds of the lore without overstepping and oppressing player’s freedoms.

Just ask yourself, in the post apocalyptic world following the Grim Dawn, what kind of avenger do you want to be? If its Necromancer and Occultist, pretty bad ass! Fight fire with fire, and give them a taste of their own medicine! Show these meddling cultists, chthonics, aetherials, and eldritch beings what a TRUE Cabalist can do!!!


I would say that the Rovers probably qualify as universally good. And talking to their god Mogdregen - once you restore the ancient grove - is pretty clearly “good” - but he’s made it clear that there are things he cannot do, and stopping the Grim Dawn was one of them.

RP wise you have a more detailed conversation with Uroboruuk if you chose Death’s Vigil, and a chance to redeem Kymon’s chosen (through Sister Girra) if you likewise chose Kymon.

Well, as for the Witch Gods, Solael is pretty clearly evil, demanding human sacrifice. Bysmiel probably as well; she’s certainly motivated by selfish ends. Of the Three, Dreeg seems to be the only decent one; crazy he may be, but lore notes reveal his motivations weren’t selfish; he made the decisions he made based on what keeps the world in balance.

@DeludedDreamer, i highly recommend reading @cowANDfish’s post in the fan art thread! This is an awesome example of how to define purpose and meaning for your build, by justifying it through background.

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Illusions are also a great way of representing your character’s lore and backstory as well. I’ve made many aimed at representing different parts of the Black Legion like a captain, operative or sharpshooter, a travelling Mercenary, a Luminari peacekeeper, high priests of the cult of Solael or Bloodsworn, one of Korvaak’s blessed brothers and so on…


Repairing Bridges is a noble calling, which is why I don’t like Demolitionists. They would rather blow them up.


Illusions have unironically become my favorite part in character building. I use weaker builds over uber strong ones more often if they happen to look cooler, specially when the illusion matches the damage type of the build.

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Grim Dawn morality is like American gun law commentary.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
So even a necromancer or even Arcanist is fine deal in Grim Dawn, as long as the people itself isn’t a dick