LoD Skeletal Mage "Rat" Necromancer Guide

Introduction

Welcome to the longest lasting group XP farming build in Diablo 3: the Legacy of Dreams Skeletal Mage "Rat" Necromancer. Standing on top of the mountain for 10 straight seasons is no easy feat, but the Rat has proved too strong and fast to be dethroned. Let's dive in and learn what makes it shine!

Extremely Fast ✔
Best XP Farmer ✔
Insane Damage ✔
Mages Kill Everything ✔

❌ No Survivability
❌ Difficult To Play
❌ Large Cooldowns
Hard To Recover From Death


Core Setup

Core Item Build

Items
This build is based around the Legacy of Dreams gem, meaning we need the most powerful legendary items without having any Set Bonuses. The critical items are:

  • Haunted Visions to allow 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 look for those stats on our weapon and offhand.
  • Scythe of the Cycle provides 400% increased damage to our Skeletal Mage.
  • Krysbin's Sentence for the 300% damage to stunned enemies, coming from Bone Armor Dislocation.
  • Convention of Elements for 200% damage during our Physical cycle.
  • 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 gained on health globe pick up.
  • Squirt's Necklace for 100% increased damage as long as we haven't taken damage.

Global Stat Priorities
Our offensive priorities are: Skeletal Mage Damage > Critical Hit Chance/Critical Hit Damage > Physical Damage > Attack Speed > Cooldown Reduction > Area Damage. Cooldown is needed to bring back Land of the Dead. When land is up our Devour Devouring Aura will instantly refill our essence due to a bug with Requiem Cereplate and allow us to throw fully powered Singularity mages. 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 its better to prioritize the other offensive stats first as you cannot guarantee monsters will be grouped in such fast-paced runs.

Item Stat Priorities

SLOT ITEMSTAT PRIORITY
Main-HandScythe of the Cycle
Reilena's Shadowhook (Cubed)
Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang (Cubed)
In-geom (Cubed)
1. Damage Range
2. Socket Ramaladni's Gift
3. Cooldown Reduction
4. Damage %
5. Attack Speed
6. Maximum Essence (Secondary)
Off-HandLost Time1. Critical Hit Chance
2. Skeletal Mage Damage
3. Cooldown Reduction
4. Maximum Essence (Secondary)
5. Intelligence
HelmAndariel's Visage
Leoric's Crown
1. Physical Damage
2. Skeletal Mage Damage
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Attack Speed
5. Socket Flawless Royal Diamond
GlovesTasker and Theo
St. Archew's Gage
Stone Gauntlets
1. Critical Hit Chance
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Attack Speed
4. Cooldown Reduction
ShouldersRazeth's Volition1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Area Damage
3. Intelligence
4. Armor
Chest Requiem Cereplate1. Intelligence
2. Sockets Flawless Royal Topaz
3. Armor
4. Reduced Elite Damage
PantsHexing Pants of Mr. Yan1. Intelligence
2. Sockets Flawless Royal Topaz
3. Armor
4. Vitality
BootsSteuart's Greaves
Ice Climbers
1. Skeletal Mage Damage
2. Intelligence
3. Armor
4. Vitality
Ring 1Krysbin's Sentence
Avarice Band (A3 Bounties)
1. Socket
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Critical Hit Damage
4. Attack Speed
Ring 2Convention of Elements
Circle of Nailuj's Evol (Cubed)
1. Socket
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Critical Hit Damage
4. Damage Range
BracersReaper's Wraps
Nemesis Bracers
1. Physical Damage
2. Critical Hit Chance
3. Intelligence
4. Armor
AmuletSquirt's Necklace
The Flavor of Time
Haunted Visions
1. Socket
2. Physical Damage
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Critical Hit Chance
BeltThe Witching Hour
Goldwrap
1. Intelligence
2. Armor
3. Vitality
4. Life %

Gems

  • Legacy of Dreams is the basis of the build and should be leveled to 99 immediately for a ridiculous 9750% damage increase and 52% reduced damage taken if you have full ancient gear.
  • Bane of the Trapped for 60% increased damage.
  • Enforcer for 60% increased damage.
  • Boon of the Hoarder for gold and movement speed in T16 farming.

Skills

  • Skeletal Mage Life Support is our main damage dealer. We already get the Singularity rune from Razeth's Volition which is the basis of the build. We take the Life Support rune for the extra duration on the mages.
  • Simulacrum Reservoir duplicates our Skeletal Mage that we summon, and also gives us a big damage boost from Reilena's Shadowhook.
  • Land of the Dead Frozen Lands freezes all the monsters on the screen and lets us Devour infinitely for the duration that it's up.
  • Bone Armor Harvest of Anguish gives us a nice defensive buff and makes us run faster. It also activates our Scythe of the Cycle damage bonus.
  • Blood Rush Metabolism lets us move through the rifts quickly.
  • Devour Devouring Aura gives us our essence back when we run over corpses. This is extremely effective at replenishing our essence while Land of the Dead is up.

Passives

  • Overwhelming Essence gives 40 more essence to further buff our Reilena's Shadowhook.
  • Dark Reaping gives us 2% essence and life on kill to summon more mages and stay alive.
  • Final Service allows us to cheat death.
  • Extended Servitude increases the duration of our Skeletal Mage.
  • Blood is Power reduces our cooldowns by 20% when we've lost 100% of our life.

Paragon Points

CoreOffensiveDefensiveUtility
1. Movement Speed1. Cooldown Reduction1. Armor1. Area Damage
2. Maximum Essence2. Critical Hit Chance2. Life %2. Life per Hit
3. Vitality (to 750k health)3. Critical Hit Damage3. All Resistance3. Resource Cost Reduction
4. Intelligence4. Attack Speed4. Life Regeneration4. Pickup Radius

Follower

The Templar is recommended for this build due to his melee range and aggressive AI. When there's a monster in range he will always stand still and fight it, making him very predictable and easy to play around.

For the Skills pick Heal, Loyalty, Onslaught and Inspire. All the alternatives, except Intimidate, include AoE hard-CC, which makes mobs harder to manipulate.

Follower's damage is completely irrelevant, so we stack Attack Speed for more on-hit procs and Cooldown Reduction for more Heal. The Items are:

  • Enchanting Favor to make the Templar immortal.
  • Oculus Ring for 85% multiplicative damage boost.
  • Unity for 50% damage reduction.
  • The Ess of Johan to pull mobs together.
  • Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker for the Attack Speed slow.
  • Freeze of Deflection for extra survivability.

Gameplay

The Rat Necromancer has some of the fastest-paced gameplay around. The main concept is to keep 10 Skeletal Mages up at all times while dodging any dangerous affixes and attacks along the way. To give them maximum power you'll want to summon them every time your essence is full because of the Singularity rune from Razeth's Volition. The rotation is:

  1. Summon your Simulacrum at the start. You shouldn't have to recast them unless you die because you're more fragile than they are.
  2. Activate Land of the Dead so you can get maximum essence from Devour. Recast this when it's back up any time you need more essence or you need to survive as it will freeze the entire screen with the Frozen Lands rune.
  3. Run close to enemies and activate your Bone Armor for a defensive, movement speed, and damage buff from Scythe of the Cycle. Refresh this several times during the rift by once again running up to enemies and activating it.
  4. 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.
  5. Use Blood Rush as needed to move around the map and keep up with your team.
  6. Remember that Devouring Aura doesn't have an infinite radius, so be mindful about stepping over the corpses of the monsters you kill to get more resources.

Hardcore

Do not play this build in hardcore unless you have experience with it and are confident in what you are doing. No matter what this is a complete glass cannon and the chances of you losing your character are extremely high. If you're going to play it, place more paragon points into Vitality, and take the Potency rune on Blood Rush.


Variants

T16
T16 Bounties and Key

Concept
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.

Gameplay
The gameplay is very similar to what we discussed in the general gameplay section above. The nice part in T16 is we 1 shot everything we see, giving us lots of essence back from Devour and Dark Reaping to continuously summon mages. When you encounter breakable doors make sure you cast mages 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!

Setups
If you are getting upset at fighting against the hardest boss, doors, you can cube Firewalkers which will give you a burning fire at your feet that can open them. If you're having trouble keeping your mages up, drop Squirt's Necklace, wear Haunted Visions, and cube Circle of Nailuj's Evol.

Solo Push
Solo

Concept
In solo, 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.

Gameplay
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.

Setups
Some people choose to drop Blood Rush for Bone Spikes which will let you generate essence and summon Skeletal Mage when Land of the Dead is down at the cost of mobility. The advantage here is you will be able to fight consistently throughout the rift. Play around with both and see which playstyle you like better.

Group Rat Runs
Groups

Concept
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.

Gameplay
The gameplay here is exactly as we described above in the general section. Make sure you are running over the enemies you have slain to get maximum essence back from Devouring Aura. Also make sure you 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.

Setups
We will pick up Andariel's Visage for the Physical damage, although if you can't find a good one Leoric's Crown is a good option as well for more Cooldown. The most skilled rat runners actually play this build with 0 cooldown, so if your team can continuously kill monsters without needing Land of the Dead, you can switch out all Cooldown rolls for other offensive stats. For this setup we've suggested, it has a fair amount of Cooldown which should work for most players.


Video Guide

Guide Video

Mechanics

Land of the Dead

  • The freeze from the Frozen Lands rune pulses, so you may not freeze an enemy instantly. Make sure they are frozen before diving in as 1 hit from practically anything in the game will kill you.

Devouring Aura + Requiem Cereplate

  • The interaction between these two is currently bugged, giving you way more essence back than it should when you consume corpses.

Razeth's Volition

  • This gives us the Singularity rune for Skeletal Mage, which is the basis of the build. When we use the Life Support rune, every mage cast will continue to drain ALL of our essence to power up the mages.

Summary

  • Level your Legacy of Dreams to 99 immediately and hunt for ancient items.
  • 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!
  • If you're looking for a tankier solo build, check out the Bone Spear Necromancer!

Town Is Lava!

-Raxxanterax