🔪 Sir Spanksalot's / malawiglenn's Beginner Guide for Phantasmal Blades Reaper

:skull_and_crossbones: Beginner friendly PB Reaper by sir spanksalot & malawglenn :dagger:

Announcement: due to inactivity of the original author Sir Spanks, I got permission to get ownership of this build guide to improve the formatting so that it fit the new forum plattform.

I have also added pictures and videos of the budget variant and made some updates/improvements here and there.

This build came about when I had a budget guide in mind and Sir Spanks said that one could do something with the Dark One’s set on this kinda build. As I had limited time back then, Sir Spanks did most of the work writing the guide and making Grim Tool links. My role was more as a consultant. I have also test-played some of the iterations and variants of this build.


Due to patch updates from when this guide was written, it might be beneficial to take the Revenant devotion over Manticore. Revenant proc now provides resistance reduction. It will also give casting speed, life steal and other joozy things.

1H + Caster off-hand set up with these devotion changes: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/62aEd9B2
2H setup with these devotion changes: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/wV1EqM7V

How to get these new devotion maps?
Start with the devotion map from the devotion path guide below.
Remove Dying God proc node.
Get Green Xroad
Remove Manticore
Get entire Revenant
Remove Red Xroad
Get back Dying God proc node

Patch Update
- 5% less weapon damage on Phantasmal blades
- Harbinger of souls now adds flat Vitality damage (as well as flat vitality decay damage)

All in all, we gained like 13% sheet dps from these changes!

Special shoutout to: @Cutestory and @xsimx thank you for making the recovery process SO much easier.


  • Any question to which the answers can be found in the guide OR in the links provided will be ignored[/li]
  • A lot of players are asking why my end game GT feature a Which Hunter (WH), and not a Reaper. My answer - READ WHAT I WROTE. Tyvm. :crazy_face:

Table of contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Levelling
  • Faction items focused build
  • Dark One’s build
  • Intermediary set-up between Dark One’s/end game build
  • End-game builds

I just want to be upfront and honest when I say that I myself have personally NEVER levelled this spec. I don’t have the time, nor the desire to play legit-GD. The following guide is based on both malawiglenn’s and my experience. Thus, there may very well be oversights on my part. Any and all feedback on the viability/suckiness of the guide will be very much appreciated.

For more information on farming/levelling: A how-to on getting loot efficiently on solo play + advice on levelling (not updated to fit the new forum plattform).

I love Phantasmal Blades (PB). IMO, it’s one of the strongest skills in the game because it offers the player everything:

  • Phenomenal single target damage
  • Unparalleled AoE clear
  • Sustain 4 dayz

This guide aims at helping the new player progress a PB reaper from start to “half” finished assuming that you have no gear found on previous chars.

Right off the bat, you want to pick the necromancer class and prioritize on maxing the following skills in this exact sequence:

  • Spectral wrath
  • Ravenous earth
  • Spectral binding

Next, you’re going to want to pick the Nightblade (NB) class and prioritize on maxing the following skills in this exact sequence:

  • Night’s chill
  • Veil of shadows
  • Anatomy of murder (leave this at 9/12)
  • Shadow strike (1/16 for mobility)
  • Pneumatic burst (leave this at 6/12)
  • Shadow dance

Go back to the necro mastery and get:

  • Decay
  • Foul eruption
  • Harbinger of souls

Return back to the NB mastery:

  • Phantasmal blades with transmuter
  • Heartseeker
  • Phantasmal armor for energy
  • Nether edge
  • Ring of steel (1/12)
  • Circle of slaughter (4/12)

Do take Mark of Torment (MoT) &/or blade barrier if you find you’re having difficulties face-tanking mobs.

From hereinafter, your skill point distribution depends very much on the gear you have, and I shall leave this to the player’s discretion. I will suggest prioritizing the following skills to spec out of first:

  • Foul eruption
  • Night’s chill

An alternative levelling option for more experienced players as suggested by @Dabuwa87

  1. take necro, max skellies
  2. max undead legion, 1point spectral binding
  3. rest in mastery and ravenous earth
    level 50 example: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/w264R0OZ

I tried this sometime before and it was a blast. Skellies are good enough for everything in normal. Elite respec the skelly tree and put the points like the op suggest.
NOTE: Despite this indisputably being a more efficient way of levelling, I’d recommend that newer players stick to the Ravenous Earth levelling plan. That way, you won’t need to worry about things like pet bonuses.

More on leveling with PB as main skill here Phantasmal blades as lvling

Faction items based build
GT: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/1NXq4mP2

Devotion pathing:

  1. Eldritch crossroad
  2. Bat
  3. Viper, eel, sailor’s guide, solemn watcher, jackal, chaos crossroad, dying god
  4. Lotus, manticore, scholar’s light, Lantern
  5. Spec out of scholar’s light and eldritch crossroad
  6. Rattosh

I opted for the first 3 nodes of wendigo for phys res, spirit, casting speed, and %vit damage.

However, other amazing nodes are:

  • Behemoth
  • Hawk
  • First node of throne
  • Spider
  • 1st 2 nodes of owl

I’ll leave this to the player to decide.

Due to the energy problems of levelling with PB, I suggest levelling predominantly with ravenous earth, with PB being used as supplemental damage/sustain. This should allow you to facetank enemies far more reliably, thereby allowing you to shotgun targets with both PB + RE.

Therefore, items you’d want to look out for are…

  • Bonespike dagger
  • Groble death effigy

NOTE: The LEVEL of the bonespike dagger is IRRELEVANT. The most important thing of is for you to find one with the ‘of blight’ suffix. This will cinch you a +2 to ravenous earth, allowing you to hardcap RE to 24/16 - at which point RE will gain its final additional projectile.

Alternative affixes include -
> For the offhand: ‘Bileridden’ / ‘of blight’ / ‘decaying’ ; both ‘bileridden’ and ‘of blight’ grant +2 to RE.
> For the dagger: ‘Oppressor’s (with +2 to RE)’ / ‘Defiler’s (with +2 to RE)’ / ‘Theurgist’s (with +2 to RE)’

And for this very same reason, you should only start making the transition to PB when you have enough +skill points to hardcap PB at 24/16, OR when you have finally achieved the full Dark One’s set.

Dark one’s build
GT: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/RZRzQ50Z --> RE orientated
GT: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/pZrDxlG2 --> PB orientated (i.e. max Nether Edge)
The Dark One’s set is an absolute beast of a set which will allow you to reliably and speedily farm crucible/dungeons.

Remember to consider the devotion changes mentioned in the beginning of this guide!

Stats in game with Dying God and Soul Harvest (PB oriented build).
PB dps shown.

Teaser video of the PB oriented version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KF-vG5RBGc (by malawiglenn)

The PB oriented version has about 194k sheed dps with soul harvest and dying god.
This is about 13% higher PB sheet DPS, but depends on the amount of chaos to vitality damage conversion on the helm and chest etc.

In essence, the Dark One’s set is going to be the springboard which will launch your spec from mediocrity to true greatness.

So as soon as you can, start farming/trading for it. Ideally, you’d want head and chest pieces for max rolled chaos/vit conversion values (i.e. 30%), however this is entirely unnecessary.
How to farm Dark One’s set? Read malawiglenn’s guide on Vitality Cabalist here there is a section about that.

Devotion path for 2H build:
> Is near identical to the above one. Just give up lantern for kraken

Look out for spectral arbalests. Any affix which grants a buttload of casting speed is great. Anything which grants both casting speed and relevant stats (e.g. %vit damage, OA, etc.) is best.
The drop from the ghosts that you can see wear that weapon. You can find them in Arkovian Undercity, Spined Cove and Steps of Torment.

Trickster variant https://www.grimtools.com/calc/q2ml4GWN identical gearing, devotions as Reaper PB oriented but with shaman skills instead. You get more resistance reduction, but less sheet damage and casting speed. Also no damage reduction from decay. Also less OA so much less crits. I think Reaper has more to offer a beginner player when it comes to making a PB build from scratch.

Intermediary set-ups between Dark One’s/end game build
GT (BiS with greens): https://www.grimtools.com/calc/1NXgO0BZ
GT (Purples + Spectral arbalest): https://www.grimtools.com/calc/aZqyeg4Z
GT (All purples): https://www.grimtools.com/calc/qNYMvGrN

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xElyzrv79ss

One thing that might be a good idea to have is Prismatic Diamond in helm. It can be bought from the vendor in the ancient grove:

More info how to get Prismatic Diamond

Just as with any vendor, it is your level that matters not difficulty. So if you do not dare to do this in Ultimate, Elite or Normal is fine. Just make sure you have about 1 hour set aside unless you have bad luck. You can of course do this in many sessions, but each session costs 1 skeleton key.

Clear the whole level where the vendor is. Then go to the next level and stay there for 10 seconds or so. Go back to the previous level and visit shop again, he should have updated his inventory. Repeat until you have Prismatic Diamond blueprint.

Also look for blueprints for other useful stuff for other chars like Empowered Essence of Beronath and Shard of Beronath.

End game build
I’m honestly not going to do this out because it’s time consuming as heck to actually polish an end game build. I also don’t believe in spoonfeeding veterans answers, which the reader should be if they are concerning themselves with a top tier, end-game build.

So here are 2 things which will help:

  1. My original pre-FG Demonslayer Reaper - Demonslayer Phantasmal Blade Reaper - ~220k sheet dps
  2. My FG-updated demonslayer Witch Hunter - [] Demonslayer WH revamped - 350k dps leech tank (SR 80, Naked crucible, 17s Dummy killtime)

The itemization and devotion pathing should be near identical. The only difference here is that I’d use Bonewraith pauldrons over the Blightlord’s shoulders for the Reaper. More cold/vit conversion will net you better dps from soul harvest, PB, and blade spirits.

The one thing the player needs to concern him/herself with is fixing resists. If that proves difficult, use the serenity relic instead.

Here is a Dervish variant by @mad_lee [] Phantasmal Paradox: 5:40 Crucible beastly no greens vitality-PB caster Dervish [c+][sr][vid]
also Infiltrator (cold damage) [] Olexra's Nemesis: 6s Mad Queen, 6:30m Crucible, SR 75 no greens caster Infiltrator (+SB spec)
and Trickster [] Loki: God of Mischief - 10 minutes 150-170 Cruc. Glad. vitality Trickster [g4][c+][vid]

Another Dervish variant by @Nery [] Demonslayer vitality PB Dervish and a Reaper [] The Undead Shinobi of Cairn - PB Reaper, Gladiator in ~ 6 minutes :slight_smile:

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?


Cool Spanks,you’ve rebuild your beginners Reaper!

been waiting for this, big thanks to all those involved in getting this back up :smiley:

dying god <- what skill do you bind with it ? thanks for post it again.

have nice day

Ring of steel

Actually, what are all of the devotions bound to? I checked most of the GT links and didn’t see skills assigned. BTW, I’ve tried a RE before but this one is really fun, maybe because I had some stashed gear waiting and Shadow Strike feels really fun to use. Thanks for reposting the build!

Gonna back this baby up!

So I’m a complete NOOB without a complete play through, so apologies in advance. Should I be focusing vitality or acid/poison damage as I level? What types of weapons should I use (daggers & off-hand)? Thank you in advance for your help and thank you again for the guide.

You mean in the beginning of the game?Most effective way is start as Necro and use Ravenous earth,you get early RR to vitality and you can pick Bat constellation,which also deals vitality.Is good to use off-hand.First it’s going to reduce RE cooldown and second,it will increase your energy regeneration.

And pick up a bonespike dagger once you get past act II.

Thank you for deciphering my noobness, that is exactly what I meant!! THANK YOU

OK, I’ll be on the lookout. THANK YOU!!

Bonespike drops primarily in mountain deeps area from trog enemies.

K, Thanks!

Since author/owner of this build guide is inactive now, could an Admin make me owner so that I can modify formatting to fit the new forum plattform? @Zantai

Hey guys,

This might seem weird but, please, bear with me.

I am currently playing my first playthrough, and I find the game extremely fun. I am also an altoholic and, due to the wonderful diversity of the classes in the game, I have created a bunch of toons, to get a (albeit small) feel to them. My highest character is a cold infiltrator, and I am having a great time with the class.

But I want to also try out a reaper, because I like the idea and I have not played Phantasmal Blades yet and would like to try them, but there is a small hitch: I do NOT like ravenous earth as a skill. I cannot tell you why (mechanic, visuals, etc, all play a part), but I just do not like it. At all.

I have read that it is an extremely good skill, due to multiple factors, but I cannot get myself to use it. I tried it on another character, and I stopped playing that toon.

If I want to try this beginner-levelling guide, is there any alternate option to using RE? I assume that it’s because the build focuses on vitality damage, and it makes sense, but is there an alternative I could use?

Or should I try and focus on another damage type (or even another class combination) if I want to try out Phantasmal Blades but do not want to use RE?

Thank you for your time.


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You can skip RE if you want, but you will loose some damage and most importantly damage reduction - Reaper is pretty squishy so without 25% or so damage reduction you can end up in a pretty bad place.

I think Witch Hunter might be better, since then you have Possession exclusive skill (damage absorption) and with Dark One set you can use Bloody Pox for damage reduction.

Leveling Reaper without RE will also be though, since spamming Phantasmal blades require lots of energy so we definitely wanna save that skill until later when we have some more energy regen. You could try leveling with Skeletons, Bone Harvest and non-transmuted PB.

Done with re-formatting the guide

added a picture of PB DPS in game

also added a a teaser video for the 2H Dark one setup, PB oriented version

I might do a Witch Hunter version of this guide at some point actually. Gearing should be pretty much similar, but leveling and pre- Dark One versions will be different.

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