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LoD Skeletal Mage “Rat” Necromancer Guide

Last Updated: July 8th 2024

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LoD Rat for Rat Runs
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Welcome to the most infamous group XP farming build in Diablo III: the Legacy of Dreams Skeletal Mage "Rat" Necromancer. More than almost any other build it has proven itself to be among the top tier in experience farming season after season.

Initially "Rats" were played with Bones of Rathma, which is where its name originates from as people were too lazy to search for a "+1 Rathma" and simply referred to it as a "+1 Rat". While the main multiplier shifted from Bones of Rathma (6) Bonus to Legacy of Dreams the name "Rat" still persisted to depict this specific team composition for grinding experience (and gear for Necromancers).

In Season 29 (Patch 2.7.6), this setup has received a nerf in the form of two bug fixes. Before that, Requiem Cereplate used to generate abnormal amounts of resources and Haunted Visions used to allow Simulacrum to replicate your Skeletal Mage casts. These two changes make it so that Convention of Elements can no longer be used and instead Circle of Nailuj's Evol is now mandatory for all setups, overall bringing down the power of Rats by ~4 GR tiers compared to what it used to be.

The gameplay of a Rat is "High Risk, High Reward" as it’s purely offensive and dies to anything that hits it. Therefore, playing Rat DPS requires a decent amount of practice, dedication and the patience of an angel if your zNec is playing suboptimally. When Rats go well, they feel amazing, but when things go wrong it's one of the worst experiences you'll witness in any group setup. The guide at hand is a resource for you to succeed with your ratting!

Extremely Fast ✔
Top Tier XP Farmer ✔
Mages Go Pew Pew Pew ✔

Rewards Excellent Gameplay ✔

❌ Very Squishy
❌ Difficult to Execute
❌ Sensitive Towards Supports
Terrible for Solo Progression

Core Setup

Core Item Build


  • Haunted Visions allows Simulacrum Reservoir to last forever, buffing Reilena's Shadowhook.
  • Reilena's Shadowhook provides 330% increased damage based on our total Maximum Essence, which is why we need this specific secondary on our Main and Off-Hand.
  • Scythe of the Cycle provides a 400% increased damage multiplier to Skeletal Mage.
  • Circle of Nailuj's Evol allows you to get two Mages with every cast and make them last longer, great to get started with the build.
  • Hexing Pants of Mr. Yan for 25% increased resource generation and damage while moving.
  • Tasker and Theo for 50% increased attack speed to our Skeletal Mage.
  • Requiem Cereplate for 100% increased life and Essence on Devour.
  • Reaper's Wraps for the resource on Health Globe pickup.
  • Lost Time is the only Off-Hand that does something, however, any other Phylactery will do just fine. Bone Ringer is the only one pre-rolling with Critical Hit Chance, which is why it's most commonly used early in a season.

Season 32 Ethereals

Ethereals are powerful rare weapons that can only be found during Season 32. They were initially the Season 24 Theme. They have incredible stats, a random Legendary power, and a free passive for your class. Read our Ethereal Mechanics Guide for full details on how they work and our Ethereal Farming Guide to learn how to acquire them. What you should prioritize on them is the following:

  1. The Legendary Power
    This build requires Reilena's Shadowhook and Scythe of the Cycle to be functional. We need our Ethereal to roll one of these powers so we can cube the other. We also want a good roll on our Legendary power if it has a range. For speed content it is always helpful to have Ethereals with Echoing Fury, In-geom or Messerschmidt's Reaver powers, so keep those if you find them.
  2. The Ethereal Itself
    There are 3 different weapons available to us, each with its own benefits:
    • Soul Harvest - This is by far the best Ethereal for this build. The stats are amazing and the attack speed helps us.
    • Blackbog's Sharp - This is an alternative option that is also great to use, however we can barely make use of its damage stacking effect.
    • Blackhand Key - This is an alternative option that makes solo speed runs much more safe and allows easy activation of Krysbin's Sentence.
  3. The Ethereal Stat Rolls
    Each Ethereal comes with its own fixed set of powerful affixes. While some have a static value, many have a wide stat range. This means the difference between good and bad rolls is significant and something you should look for.
  4. A Useful Passive
    This is just icing on the cake because a fifth passive is not going to make or break your build. You're better off hunting for the things above. Check out the Passives section down below to see which ones you're looking for.

Global Stat Priorities

Our offensive priorities are: Skeletal Mage Damage > Critical Hit Damage > Physical Damage > Critical Hit Chance > Attack Speed > Area Damage > Cooldown Reduction (CDR). At best CDR helps you when you fail your Blood Rush or when you miss your Bone Armor.

Attack Speed does not make our mages cast faster, but it does let us summon mages faster and gives them higher damage. Area Damage does work with Skeletal Mage and can be taken on items, but it's better to prioritize the other offensive stats first as you cannot guarantee monsters will be grouped in such fast-paced runs.

Assembling the Build

Item Stat Priorities




Paragon Points

Altar of Rites





Nephalem Rifts
GR Solo Push
GR Group Speeds (Rats)
Echoing Nightmare
Nephalem Rifts with LoD Rat

For speed content pump up our movement speed with Fueled by Death, and we'll wear Leoric's Crown for extra cooldown. The combination of Goldwrap + Avarice Band + Boon of the Hoarder will make us invincible once we kill an enemy and pick up some gold.

The gameplay is very similar to what we discussed in the general gameplay section above. The nice part in Nephalem Rifts is that we 1 shot everything we see, giving us lots of essence back from Devour and Dark Reaping to continuously summon mages.

If you want more damage at the cost of convenience, you can cube Reilena's Shadowhook. This makes cooldown management more important, as you might have to wait sometimes when you can't chain kills to produce corpses and globes for you.

For group play, change Fire Walkers to Nemesis Bracers and Stone of Jordan to Avarice Band. When you encounter breakable doors make sure you cast Skeletal Mage directly on top of the door (with your mouse cursor above it) to get through them. Nothing is harder than the door boss with this build!

Bounties with LoD Rat

The combination of Goldwrap + Avarice Band + Boon of the Hoarder is something we also utilize during Bounties to make us invincible.

The gameplay is very similar to what we discussed in the general gameplay section above. The nice part in Bounties is that we 1 shot everything we see, giving us lots of essence back from Devour and Dark Reaping to continuously summon mages. You cover as much ground as possible during one cycle of Land of the Dead while being at full mages, which is significantly easier with Circle of Nailujs Evol.

If you are starving for additional DPS you can swap back Convention of Elements to Krysbins Sentence and additionally Plaguelands to Frozen Lands. This will significantly help out early on, but in the long run the above standing full movement speed setup is recommended.

Solo Push with LoD Rat

In solo push, everything that even looks at us will 1 shot us, so the only options are to freeze monsters at distance with Land of the Dead Frozen Lands and burn them down. We will wait for our big cooldowns before charging in praying nothing sneezes on us.

Solo is the most challenging version of this build as we have to pull everything, stay alive, and kill everything all on our own. The biggest advice here is don't be greedy. We cannot YOLO into a giant group of monsters with our Land of the Dead down and hope for a miracle. It won't come, we have to play very defensively. When Land of the Dead is up, dive in, activate Bone Armor and unleash a major attack on as many elites as possible before escaping to a safe spot before it's 10 second timer is over. Rinse and repeat until the guardian is dead and you'll win.

When you know you are most likely about to die, make sure to die as early as possible or you might waste time with your cooldowns ready when you press "Revive at Corpse", which resets them by the amount of seconds you'd otherwise have to wait. The great part about it is that most push runs don't last longer than a few minutes until you find out whether you have a chance or not, as you are effectively advancing in time much more quickly than other builds.

This build doesn't have many options to choose. Trying to stack up more toughness is nearly pointless and it's best to simply embrace your life as a glass cannon. Good luck!

LoD Rat for Rat Runs

In groups we can be far more offensive with our itemization because we have supports keeping us alive. We will stay behind our zNecromancer who will freeze everything for us and provide a window to kill everything. If we venture out exploring on our own without the safety and protection of our supports, it'll be the last time they see us alive. We'll also have health globes everywhere which will help us regenerate our essence with Reaper's Wraps.

The gameplay here is exactly as we described above in the general section. Summon your fully powered mages onto the elites by hovering your mouse over them as the elite affixes are the main things that will kill you. Finally, be very afraid of Juggernaut yellows who cannot be frozen and will be free to attack you; skipping a Juggernaut can be the correct choice, however, this is a choice the zNec has to make.

We will pick up Andariel's Visage for the Physical damage, but if you can't find a good one Leoric's Crown is a good replacement for more Life (Flawless Royal Amethyst). For newer players incorporating more Cooldown rolls is definitely beginner friendly; especially due to the long Cooldowns on Bone Armor and Blood Rush when you happen to "miss" these skills entirely (e.g. Bone Armor no targets, or Blood Rush into a wall). If you are struggling to constantly move and are willing to give up the resource generation of Hexing Pants of Mr. Yan, you can swap them for Blackthorne's Jousting Mail to stand still in the Oculus Rings.

Nephalem Rifts with LoD Rat

For Echoing Nightmares we are using a setup similar to the Speed GR build. We can't freeze enemies so we run with Land of the Dead Shallow Graves and we have Channeling Pylon so Haunted Visions is useless.

For more information check out our full Echoing Nightmare Guide and take a look at our Echoing Nightmare Build Tier List and META post for the best builds and strategies!

Click Speed Pylon as soon as the challenge starts and all the other Pylons at around wave 90. At wave 122 you can stop attacking and run to the corner to let the timer run out.

Summon your Simulacrum at the start. Activate Land of the Dead to maximize your Essence returns from Devour. Recast this when it's back up any time you need more Essence. Run close to enemies and activate your Bone Armor for a defensive, movement speed, and damage buff from Scythe of the Cycle. Cast Skeletal Mage every time your Essence is full. The Mages will attack whoever you put your mouse cursor over as you summon them, so always try to aim them at elites. Use Blood Rush as needed to move around the map.

Video Guide

Guide Video



Circle of Nailuj's Evol

Razeth's Volition

Land of the Dead Frozen Lands


  • Put together the core items and level up the Legacy of Dreams gem.
  • Learn the rotation and how to keep up 10 fully powered Skeletal Mage by always having enough Essence between Devour and Land of the Dead.
  • Practice staying alive on the squishiest build in Diablo 3 history.
  • Enjoy being a higher paragon than everyone on your friends list!


Original guide by Raxxanterax
Contributions by Rob
Rewrites & updates by wudijo

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