Secondary Skill Modifiers


I think there needs to be a guide to cover this since it’s been a source of much confusion since the release of Ashes of Malmouth, and in some cases even before that. This is a short reference sheet and FAQ on this obscure game mechanic.


Secondary skill modifiers is, as the name suggests, a special kind of skill modifiers – basically a node in your skill selection screen. In-game they are absolutely indistinguishable from normal skill modifiers and you won’t find any mentions of them - the name “secondary skill modifier” is an internal term used in mod tools.


The quirk of secondary skill modifiers is that other skill modifiers do NOT apply to them, even though they seemingly should and the game straight up suggests it in some cases. Some things like %damage skill modifiers are neither noticeable unless you dig deep, nor they are terribly important. Conversion skill modifiers unfortunately are – this includes both transmuters and item skill modifiers.

The exception (kind of) is a buff-type secondary skill modifier. These apply a buff to player if a skill in question lands. If there’s a conversion skill modifier for the skill in question then it would NOT convert the flat damage on the buff it applies in a global manner, BUT the applied buff is global, so if you re-use a skill (while the buff didn’t expire) it would properly apply it’s conversions (if applicable) to the damage from it’s own buff (provided skill got %weapon damage component).

Secondary skill modifiers are boosted by global bonuses.

The rule of thumb for dealing with skill modifiers is to consider them an extra devotion proc. If something should apply to a devotion proc bound to a skill then it would also apply to the secondary skill modifier. I don’t know any exceptions.

List of Secondary Skill Modifiers

  • Deadly Momentum (buff type)

  • Explosive Strike

  • Ulzuin’s Wrath

  • Lethal Assault (buff type)

  • Nightfall

  • Torrent

  • Maelstrom

  • Lightning Tether

  • Soul Harvest (buff type)

  • Foul Eruption

  • Spectral Wrath

  • Soulfire

  • Volcanic Stride

  • Heart of Wrath

Projectile Fragmentation

There are two kinds of fragmentation - native and added via modifiers.

Native fragmentation is a basic property of a skill, meaning that skill has fragments by default. Example of such skill is Canister Bomb.

Fragmentation added via skill modifiers is exactly what’s written on the tin, examples are Brimstone, Vile Eruption and Proliferation.

The mechanical difference between them is native fragments receive full flat bonuses of other skill modifiers, while added fragments do not. This includes item skill modifiers. Conversions applied via skill modifiers also do not effect projectiles that were added via skill modifiers.

A super amazing example here is Panetti’s Replicating Missile that has both types. The fragmentation from Panetti itself is a native fragmentation so it receives damage bonuses from Distortion and Supercharged and will be converted by skill modifier conversions. Proliferation on the other hand is the added via modifier type, and projectiles spawned via Proliferation do not carry damage bonuses from Panetti itself, Distortion or Supercharged, neither they receive any bonus or get converted by skill modifiers.


Thanks for posting this guide!

Recently was discussion about it and the fact there’s no official information about skills that can be converted only with global conversion and not skill modifiers. The absurd situation was about vitality Primal strike with Rothgeist, where is physically impossible to fully convert the lightning damage from Torrent to vitality.

So it’s nice to see that mechanic explained and the list of exceptions. :+1:

The way I understand it the graphic fx swap only works for Primal Strike itself and Torrent remains as is. Which is a hint of sorts, probably non-intended though.

Thanks for this, stupid dragon!

TBH, this confusion can easily be fixed by crate by changing that said modifiers to different shape like triangle or hexagon. Then put some explanation somewhere afterwards.


But very good info Stupid_Dragon. It took me quite a long time to [almost] isolate all of these skills in my understanding and get exactly which skills were restricted by sorting through various discussions.

With this guide…I think I’m on track, now. You taught me a few more. Yikes!

So…I am confused with this:

-if you have global conversion, these active buffs will convert or will only convert if %wpn damage?
(or is this just discussing reuse of a skill with a buff + %WD and skill transmuter, such as Cadence)

So using your devotion rule of thumb, I assume it means full convert of the global buff with global conversion and this particular exception is skill+global buff+transmuter+%WD.

As I understand it, this is only about skill specific conversions.

I’m going to go through an example as I understand from a deathknight with blood knight set to make sure I get it, since I’m trying to farm for that right now and want to know how it will all come together:

BK set gives 100% cold and pierce to vitality conversion on bone harvest. The bonus damage from soul harvest will not be converted, as it’s a secondary skill. So if I attack with cadence after activating the soul harvest buff, I will get flat cold and vitality damage as listed on the skill (assuming that I do not have any general cold to vit conversion).

However, if I reuse bone harvest in the time frame where soul harvest is still active, then the flat damage soul harvest adds will get put through the conversions I have on bone harvest. In this case, because of the blood knight set that gives 100% cold to vit on bone harvest, the flat cold from soul harvest gets converted to vitality for bone harvest damage.

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If you have global conversion it will be converted anyway, but since flat damage buffs only work if there’s %wpn damage the second part of your question is kinda moot tbh.

Deadly Momentum is a global flat damage buff, so when you re-use Cadence it’s flat damage will be converted by Discord for that Cadence hit. Hit in-between Cadence proc will be unaffected by Discord, which includes Deadly Momentum’s buff ofcourse.

Let’s say you got Ulzaad’s Decree, which applies a global flat damage buff. Then you have transmuted Righteous Fervor which converts physical to acid. The flat damage of Ulzaad’s Decree is conveyed through Fervor’s weapon damage and transmuter conversion applies.

Then let’s say you add Blade Arc into that. Ulzaad’s Decree also affects Blade Arc, but the flat of Ulzaad’s Decree won’t be converted to acid by RF transmuter because it’s obviously unrelated.

For Cadence example Deadly Momentum applies a global buff then it is conveyed via %wpn dmg and converted on the 3rd Cadence hit. Doesn’t get converted on two other hits becase they are unrelated to Discord conversion.

Do you mean to say that sboe’s tether will remain unconverted by its on transmutor, thereby rendering aether stormbox a joke?

@Stupid_Dragon: Thanks for that clarification. Sad apostate is sad

Yeah, basically.


Performs worse now since Box was nerfed since then

Added Maelstrom and The Big One to the list.

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Maelstrom and big one? I am surprised. This is the first time those 2 skills are included to this list.

I just tested that Morgoneth’s Visage mod doesn’t really convert Maelstrom to cold. The Big One basically works the same.


Crate really need to change the shape of the node to this type of modifiers for clarity…

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The Big One is weird - unlike some (all? I’ve not checked) of the others on the list, The Big One is listed as an attack in the default Mortar Trap skill once you put a point into it, and when equipping Myth Calamitous Desires, it does very clearly show The Big One’s damage as being converted fully to fire:

mort1 mort2

On the other hand, Mythical Dread-Mask of Gurgoth and Mythical Rune of Elgoloth…don’t. The Big One’s damage remains listed as Physical, even in the base skill. :thinking:

I know, tooltips in GD aren’t the most reliable thing when it comes to displaying correct damage types post-conversion, but usually it’s a case of “not showing conversion where conversion exists”, whereas - assuming The Big One really isn’t affected by skill modifiers - with Calamitous Desires it appears to be the other way around?

It does give me hope that maybe The Big One is or should be affected by modifiers after all, but it’s not like I’ve done any extensive testing (would be awesome if it was supposed to be affected, though).

Interesting. I’ll look into it later today.
I think I know the answer already, just need to confirm it.

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Mark of Calamitous Desires and Dread Mask of Gurgoth implemented seemingly in the same way, but one changes tooltip but the other doesn’t. Moreover, I discovered by accident that by reverting a mortar trap file to non-FG version actually makes Dread Mask change tooltip in a similar manner to Mark of Calamitous Desires.

Note that level 16 has lightning/fire big one but level 17 has phys/fire. This is because I reverted a level 16 mortar to non-FG version but not level 17 mortar.
Now that I think about it, the implication of that is Dread Mask of Gurgoth converts The Big One if you don’t have FG.

I think it has something to do with the way mortar skills are arranged. The left one is FG and the right one is AoM:

But I don’t get why it works like that.

And yeah, if it converts the tooltip then it actually converts the skill. Testing method:

  1. Mod, 16/16 is AoM version (converted tooltip), 17/16 is FG version (non-converted tooltip), ensure there’s a notable difference in your %physical and %lightning.
  2. Make yourself invincible with console and spawn Moosilauke (or whatever punching bag you prefer)
  3. Put a mortar, wait for big one, record damage number. Do a few times to grasp the value spread.
  4. Put 1 more skill point in Mortar, observe the decrease in damage.
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That is weird. GJ figuring it out. :+1:

So, in short: it looks like Big Ones should be affected by modifiers, but currently the lightning Gurgoth variant is fucked and doesn’t work properly in FG? I’m guessing Myth Rune of Elgoloth might have the same issue.

Suppose it might be worth you making a bug report and linking these posts to it if that’s the case.

Sorry for reviving an old thread but I have a question related to this.

From the description of the skill, Ignition (Rune of Kalastor) really sounds like a secondary skill.

If it isn’t, then how does it actually works ?

It’s a pet skill, like Lightning Strike of Summon Familiar or Big One of Mortar Trap. They aren;t really secondary modifiers and actually they can be made so that conversions applied to the main skill affect them, which e.g. was made for Big One a few patches ago. For them it’s impossible to tell whether conversion would work or not just based on the fact that they belong to the common group, while the currrent practice is to make it so they do they can always be bugged still. The only sure way to tell is to do an in-game test.

Actually Maelstrom is on the list, but it’s the same thing, but I’m too lazy to chech whether Morgoneth set properly converts it now.


Other question: does “total damage modified by X% to (base skill)” affect secondary skills ?