Powered By

Necromancer Class Overview

Last Updated: April 2nd 2024

Share on Social

Introduction

Necromancers are ruthless commanders, and masters of life and death. These dark spellcasters reanimate the dead as skeletal remains, curse their enemies with deadly magics, and further torment them with the carcasses of their defeated fellows. Actual necromancer builds fulfill this fantasy fairly well but there's two important things to point out:

  • They are not very reliant on their pets and summons. Only one necromancer build uses pets as a main source of damage and those pets are very short-lived, which makes them not too different from a regular damage spell. If you want to just summon an army and watch them do all the dirty work, Witch Doctor is much better at that than Necromancer.
  • Many Necromancer pushing builds rely on Land of the Dead - a skill with a very long cooldown. This results in a gameplay loop where you are extremely powerful during the 10 seconds while Land is active, and then almost completely useless during the next 20 to 60 seconds while Land is on cooldown.

Lore

The Priests of Rathma—also known as Necromancers—live and die by a simple philosophy: that the eternal struggle between light and darkness is never-ending, and that Sanctuary is threatened by both sides of that war. Only by preserving the balance and keeping those opposing forces at bay, one can hope to make the world a better place.

Members of this order are unique , and often reviled for their use of death magic. Though such power is often abused in Sanctuary, the Priests of Rathma strive to use it to preserve the Balance they hold sacred.

When they venture out from their home deep within the jungles of Kehjistan, roving Priests of Rathma do whatever it takes to safeguard their world from ruin.

Read the full story of the Necromancer here

Resources

Maximum Essence: 200

  • +50 from Paragon points
  • +40 from secondary rolls on gear
  • +40 from Overwhelming Essence
  • +18 from Stone of Jordan
  • +100% from Simulacrum Reservoir

Passive Regeneration: none

Active Generation:

  • 24 per attack with Bone Spikes
  • 15 per tick with Siphon Blood
  • 12 per enemy hit with Grim Scythe
  • 10 per corpse consumed with Devour
  • +1 from Devouring Aura

Additional Essence sources:

  • Requiem Cereplate
  • Reilena's Shadowhook
  • Dark Reaping
  • Frailty Harvest Essence
  • Inspire

Necromancers use Essence to cast their most powerful skills. Essence doesn't regenerate or decay by itself, Necromancers must harvest it from their enemies.

On top of Essence some of the Necromancer skills cost a portion of their health. These health costs are static and can be reduced by neither damage reduction nor resource cost reduction. Only Blood for Blood and Simulacrum Blood Debt can modify these costs.

Some pushing builds use Grim Scythe to instantly refill the Essence globe by hitting a large number of enemies, while speedfarming builds usually go with Devour (sometimes together with Land of the Dead) to regain Essence without needing to stop.

Equipment

Necromancers can use all non class-specific weapons: two-handed and one handed, melee and ranged. Although two-handed weapons are almost never used due to the lost stat rolls from the off-hand item. They can also equip a shield in their off-hand but in most cases a Phylactery takes its place.

Phylacteries

Phylacteries

Necromancer exclusive Off-Hands are Phylacteries. They come with a big chunk of damage (up to 485-600) as an extra primary stat. They can also roll some class-specific stats:

  • Primary rolls
    • +10-15% Damage to any Necromancer Skill
  • Secondary rolls
    • +18-20 Maximum Essence

Scythes

Scythes

Necromancer's unique weapons are Scythes. They come in one-handed or two-handed form and have the same base attack speed (1.3 APS for 1h and 1.1 APS for 2h) and animations as Axes. The only different stat they can roll is Maximum Essence secondary (18-20 on 1h, 36-40 on 2h). Both types of Scythes can activate Dark Reaping passive.

*all the values given are for ancient legendary items

Sets and Builds

Bones of Rathma
Pestilence Master's Shroud
Trag'Oul's Avatar
Grace of Inarius
Masquerade of the Burning Carnival
No Six Piece Set

Bones of Rathma

  • (2) Bonus makes Revive minions count as permanent. Combined with Command Skeletons you have 17 minions that can reset Army of the Dead within seconds.
  • (4) Bonus provides up to 75% damage reduction.
  • (6) Bonus is a damage multiplier for Army of the Dead. Using the two aforementioned skills provides a total bonus of 17 * 500 = 8,500%. Adding Command Golem on top of that, increases the bonus to 9,000% (a 5.8% relative increase).

Bones of Rathma set was reworked in season 23 patch and became a dedicated Army of the Dead set instead of a pet set. While you are still forced to include multiple pet skills into your build, these pets deal no damage and are only here to activate the set bonuses.

This build uses Army of the Dead as its main damage skill. Despite it having a 2 minute cooldown you can spam it all over the place thanks to the (2) Bonus. The skill is excellent at dealing AoE damage and the combination of Fate's Vow and Bonds of C'Lena also make it incredible at killing isolated enemies. The build is quite good for both farming and pushing but it can be very squishy.

Pestilence Master's Shroud

  • (2) Bonus fires a Corpse Lance with your equipped rune each time you consume a corpse. Corpse Lances fired by the (2) Bonus have the same proc coefficient as the base skill and can apply all kinds of on-hit effects, including Iceblink, Knockback on Hit or Gogok of Swiftness. These automatic lances consume The Johnstone stacks.
  • With Land of the Dead active (or enough natural corpses around), Devour can consume 20 corpses per second. Since Devour doesn't have an animation, you can also cast Corpse Lance (or Corpse Explosion) at the same time for another 10-12 (depending on your Attack Speed) corpses consumed each second. In total this amounts to over 400 Corpse Lances fired during a single Land of the Dead. Since The Johnstone can only buff 50 of them, its overall damage bonus is diminished by the factor of 8, making Squirt's Necklace a better choice for Pestilence builds.
  • (6) Bonus grants a 6,000% separate damage multiplier to Bone Spear, Corpse Explosion and Corpse Lance, however the former is extremely clunky and outclassed by Masquerade of the Burning Carnival.

Pestilence Master's Shroud buffs three different skills, but since the (2) Bonus fires exorbitant amounts of Corpse Lances for free, you must stack Corpse Lance multipliers to take advantage of that.

This build is completely reliant on Land of the Dead to spam Devour and Corpse Lance. This means you have to deal with lengthy downtimes while pushing. It's also pretty weak and squishy, but it can be very good at speedfarming low difficulty content where just your autocast Corpse Lances are strong enough to kill everything.

Trag'Oul's Avatar

  • (2) Bonus grants Blood Rush every rune. Choosing any rune or no rune has no effect.
  • (4) Bonus lets you stack a bonus granting you up to 300% Maximum Life, as a separate multiplier to Life %.
  • (6) Bonus provides 10,000% increased damage (x101) to Life-spending abilities and doubles your healing from skills.

Tragoul's Avatar works with almost all Necromancer skills but forces you to use a specific rune on them. For nearly every Necro build out there you can also make a Trag'Oul version of it.

With Season 27 patch this build has suddenly risen to the very top thanks to Iron Rose and Funerary Pick buffs. Fairly simple and very powerful build, it excels at destroying large hordes of monsters and can be used as a Trash Killer in 4-man groups.

Grace of Inarius

  • (2) Bonus is effectively useless for any endgame build.
  • (4) Bonus increases the damage reduction of Bone Armor from 3% to 6% per stack with a maximum of 10 stacks (75% toughness increase with a total of 60% damage reduction).
  • When combined with Wisdom of Kalan this bonus can be increased to 15 * 6 = 90% damage reduction (x4 toughness over not having the item).
  • (6) Bonus activates a Bone Storm around the player while Bone Armor is active. While its own damage is meaningless, it massively boosts the damage done to enemies hit for 3 seconds. This also applies to damage done by Pets and Simulacrum.

Grace of Inarius provides a generic damage buff, meaning you can make an Inarius build based on almost any skill. But since the (6) Bonus forces you to go melee, the best Inarius builds focus on melee skills such as Corpse Explosion or Grim Scythe.

With Season 28 patch this build is surprisingly just about as good as the other variations of Death Nova. If you wish to push the Inarius Leaderboard this is the strongest build the set has and it will compete with other Death Nova builds for the top necromancer spot..

Masquerade of the Burning Carnival

  • (2) Bonus grants the following runes for Simulacrum:
    • Cursed Form
    • Reservoir
    • Self Sacrifice
    • Blood Debt
    • Blood and Bone
  • Furthermore, they become invincible unless you take a hit that would kill you otherwise. If that happens, you will become extremely squishy due to the toughness loss granted by the (4) Bonus, so (re)activating them as fast as possible is crucial.
  • (4) Bonus grants you 50% damage reduction while also splitting all damage taken with Simulacrums, which sums up to an incredible total of 83.33% damage reduction (x6 toughness).
  • (6) Bonus is a 5,500% separate damage multiplier for Bone Spear but with a twist: almost all of the damage done (~91%) comes from your Simulacrum due to the build's reliance on Gelmindor's Marrow Guards, so focusing on their positioning is the key to success.

Masquerade of the Burning Carnival only buffs Bone Spear so only one build for this set exists.

Masquerade Bone Spear - Beginner friendly

This build uses Maltorius' Petrified Spike, Scythe of the Cycle and Gelmindor's Marrow Guards to greatly buff the damage Bone Spears cast by your Simulacrums. This build is decent at both pushing and farming, but you need to be careful with positioning of your Simulacrums to make sure they don't shoot into walls.

Legacy of Dreams/Legacy of Nightmares

For skills which don't have a dedicated Set, there's always an option of making a build around the Legacy of Dreams gem or Legacy of Nightmares set, which provide a 97.5x damage multiplier at 13 Ancient items. Since most Necro sets are quite weak, the LoD versions of the builds are usually better.

LoD Skeletal Mage build is the heart and soul of Rat Runs, which tend to sit on the top of XP META season after season. LoD Grim Scythe is a decently strong Trash Killer, and finally, LoD Corpse Explosion is the strongest solo Necro build.

Support

Support Necromancer can be fairly useful to the party, giving curses, crit chance bonus from Brittle Touch and some damage and toughness buffs. It also has a unique ability to freeze everything on the screen and spawn lots of health globes which make it an irreplaceable part of Rat Runs. Most other teams don't use zNec because zDH and zBarb are generally better but it's sometimes included in triple support teams.

This build is completely reliant on Land of the Dead to spam Corpse Explosion. This means you have to deal with lengthy downtimes while pushing. It's stronger than the set versions of the same build but still it's only good for solo pushing.

This build uses Haunted Visions and Leger's Disdain to make your Simulacrums deal tremendous damage when they mimic your Grim Scythe swings. You have excellent AoE damage but the bossfight is painfully slow. You also need to carefully position your Simulacrums so that they can hit as many enemies as possible while staying out of the harm's way. This build is weaker than Corpse Explosion in solo but it can be used as a Trash Killer in 4-man groups.

Very similar build to Grim Scythe but using Death Nova with Bloodtide Blade as its main damage skill. Still has the same problem of low single target damage but Simulacrum positioning is a lot easier because of Death Nova's large AoE. After buffs in Patch 2.7.4 this build became the top choice for solo push and group trash killer.

This build is really bad in solo pushing because it's super squishy and reliant on Land of the Dead. It excels in speedfarming: T16, Bounties or Greater Rifts in 4-man teams, this build can do it all. It can even be your starter build despite using LoD, because Necromancer's set builds are pretty bad at speedfarming.

This build uses 2-piece of Pestilence Master's Shroud and permanent Land of the Dead to spam Corpse Lance Brittle Touch everywhere giving your teammates tons of Crit Chance. It also provides Frailty to reduce enemies HP and can include Briggs' Wrath for powerful pixelpulls. In Rat Runs Frozen Lands rune is crucial to activate other Necro's Krysbin's Sentence and to prevent enemies from attacking.

Legendaries

Apart from 6-piece sets, Necromancers have 35 unique Legendary and Set items, providing bonuses to various skills and in some cases even altering their behavior.

Two-handed Scythes

  • Bloodtide Blade
  • Maltorius' Petrified Spike
  • Nayr's Black Death
  • Reilena's Shadowhook

Scythes

  • Funerary Pick
  • Scythe of the Cycle
  • Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang
  • Jesseth Skullscythe

Shields

  • Jesseth Skullshield

Phylacteries

  • Bone Ringer
  • Iron Rose
  • Leger's Disdain
  • Lost Time

Spears

  • Spear of Jairo

Rings

  • Briggs' Wrath
  • Circle of Nailuj's Evol
  • Krysbin's Sentence
  • Lornelle's Sunstone

Amulets

  • Haunted Visions
  • The Johnstone
  • Wisdom of Kalan

Chest Armors

  • Requiem Cereplate

Gloves

  • Grasps of Essence
  • Moribund Gauntlets

Boots

  • Bryner's Journey
  • Steuart's Greaves

Belts

  • Dayntee's Binding

Bracers

  • Bond's of C'Lena
  • Gelmindor's Marrow Guards

Shoulders

  • Corpsewhisper Pauldrons
  • Razeth's Volition

Helmets

  • Fate's Vow
  • Mask of Scarlet Death

Pants

  • Defiler Cuisses
  • Golemskin Breeches

Below are listed select few items that have mechanics which aren't immediately obvious from their description.

Jesseth Arms

Briggs' Wrath

Dayntee's Binding

Fate's Vow

Haunted Visions

Iron Rose

Krysbin's Sentence

Leger's Disdain

Lornelle's Sunstone

Lost Time

Nayr's Black Death

Passives

Necromancer builds share a lot of the same passives because nothing beats general survivability and damage for them. Occasionally you'll find a niche build that needs a unique passive, but it's not common. Let's look through them in greater detail.

Aberrant Animator

Blood for Blood

Blood is Power

Bone Prison

Commander of the Risen Dead

Dark Reaping

Draw Life

Eternal Torment

Extended Servitude

Final Service

Fueled by Death

Grisly Tribute

Life from Death

Overwhelming Essence

Rathma's Shield

Rigor Mortis

Serration

Spreading Malediction

Stand Alone

Swift Harvesting

Skills

Primary Skills

Bone Spikes

Grim Scythe

Siphon Blood

Primary skills deal little damage and generate Essence when they hit an enemy. Most builds use Grim Scythe Cursed Scythe because generates the most Essence by far and gives free curses. The other two skills are only used in some ranged builds or as an extra Nayr's Black Death stack.

Damage Dealing Skills

Bone Spear

Death Nova

Skeletal Mage

Army of the Dead

Bone Spirit

These are the main build-defining skills. Pick one of these, a Set that buffs it, 2-3 supporting Legendaries and you got yourself a build.

Army of the Dead can only be a viable DPS skill in Bones of Rathma build where its cooldown is massively reduced. It's still included in some other builds with the Death Valley rune to pull monsters together.

Corpse Skills

Four of the Necromancer's skills require a special resource - corpses. Corpses are left on the ground when an enemy dies. They are only visible to the Necromancer and there can be no more than 16 corpses for each player out at any given time. Apart from killing enemies, Necromancers have several other ways to produce corpses: Command Golem Flesh Golem, Moribund Gauntlets, Gift of Death, Molting and Land of the Dead.

  • Devour is used in many builds that need a lot of Essence, especially in speedfarming. In pushing it's only used together with Land of the Dead in rotation-based builds.
  • Corpse Explosion and Corpse Lance are powerful damage skills that can be built around, but they always require Land of the Dead even for speedfarming. Additionally, Corpse Lance Brittle Touch is used by supports to provide Crit Chance.
  • Revive is mainly used by Bones of Rathma build to proc the set bonuses. Sometimes it's also included in some thorns-based Necro builds but they are very weak.

Land of the Dead

This skill is a must-have for every build that relies on Corpse Skills, because without it they straight up can not attack. Because of its long cooldown and short duration, these builds are forced into rotation-based playstyle, where they deal huge burst damage when Land of the Dead is up and then do no damage at all while they wait for cooldown.

Solo builds always use Frozen Lands rune for safety and also to fully activate Krysbin's Sentence. In groups where somebody else provides the CC, other runes sometimes see play: Shallow Graves for more uptime or Plaguelands for an extra Nayr's Black Death stack.

Curses

Necromancers have access to curses - powerful long-lasting debuffs that can be applied to any monster. A monster can be affected by each curse only once so multiple Necromancers with the same curse overwrite each other.

  • Frailty is the most commonly used curse because it acts as a generic damage multiplier that can also affect normally unbuffable damage (e.g. Conduit Pylon). Aura of Frailty is handy in speedruns, while the more powerful version of the curse - Early Grave - is used in pushes.
  • Decrepify is used mostly when you have Frailty from some other source (Cursed Scythe or Cursed Form). In that case this skill is sometimes included, most commonly with the Wither rune to remove the slow or with Enfeeblement to make it stronger (which is very useful to keep monsters stacked after pulling them with Briggs' Wrath). Some squishy rotation-based builds take Decrepify Borrowed Time over frailty for defense and CDR.
  • Leech is a very powerful source of healing that works for your entire party, but it's almost never used by itself, instead it comes from Cursed Scythe or Cursed Form.

Utility Skills

All the other Necromancer skills can be grouped together. They are used to round up the builds with extra defensive, offensive and mobility buffs, or to proc certain Sets or Legendaries.

SkillUsage
SimulacrumEffectively acts as a separate multiplier in Bone Spear, Skeletal Mage, Death Nova and Grim Scythe builds. Usually used with Blood and Bone rune except for Skeletal Mage Singularity builds which go with Reservoir.
Bone ArmorAn excellent defensive skill. Dislocation rune is the most commonly used rune because it can proc both Krysbin's Sentence and Nayr's Black Death.
Blood RushThe only mobility skill Necromancer's have. Included in every build that can fit it in, with either Potency for defense or Metabolism for more mobility.
Command SkeletonsFairly useless skill on its own but it's frequently included into builds to proc various effects such as Bones of Rathma, Jesseth Arms or Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac. Also used in Thorns builds to deal damage.
Command GolemAlmost never used. Bone Golem is good to move enemies around but it's very slow and most builds have better uses for a skill slot.

Below are listed select few build-relevant skills and their mechanics are explained in detail.

|Army of the Dead

Bone Spear Blighted Marrow

Corpse Explosion

Land of the Dead Frozen Lands

Simulacrum

Summary

Necromancer is the only paid class in Diablo 3. They have lots of very strong generic multipliers but relatively weak sets. Many of the Necromancer builds are very powerful but depend on long Land of the Dead cooldown to deal damage. Still, Necromancer is a powerful and fun to play class. Raise an army of the dead to preserve the Balance in Sanctuary!

Credits

Written by Northwar
Reviewed by wudijo, Raxxanterax

© 2024 Maxroll Media Group, All Rights Reserved