Pestilence Corpse Lance Necromancer Guide

Pestilence Corpse Lance Solo Push

Introduction

Welcome to the Pestilence Master's Shroud Necromancer, a build that unleashes barrages of Corpse Lance at your enemies while you are able to nearly infinitely spam them due to the powerful combination of Land of the Dead and Devour. This build primarily does well in speed content such as Nephalem Rifts and Speed Greater Rifts but with the right setup it can perform decently well in Solo pushing Greater Rifts as well as being an Rift Guardian Killer in group play.

Combining this class set with other powerful sets such as Captain Crimson's Trimmings and Jesseth Arms will pump up your damage and other than that you just need to chase after Cooldown Reduction and Attack Speed so you'll be sending out as many Corpse Lances as possible!

Despite not being the strongest build in any game modes the Pestilence Master's Shroud has always been well received due to it's fast and chaotic playstyle in speed content. If you're interested in becoming a high-flying, monster freezing, lance throwing machine - this is the guide for you. Let's dive in and see how to make the most of it.

Great for Speedfarming ✔
Utilizes three unique sets ✔
Great nuke and animations ✔
Stacks up critical hit chance ✔

Falls off in higher greater rifts
Zero damage during downtime
❌ Needs a complete setup to work
Very dependent on cooldown reduction


Core Setup

Core Item Build

Items
This build uses three different sets to maximize your damage with Corpse Lance and reduce your Cooldown on Land of the Dead as much as possible. To do this we'll pick up both pieces of Jesseth Arms, five pieces of the Pestilence Master's Shroud and two pieces of Captain Crimson's Trimmings while using Ring of Royal Grandeur to obtain the full set bonuses of each.

  • Pestilence Master's Shroud grants us 3300% damage, 50% damage reduction and the ability to fire a Corpse Lance every time we consume a corpse. Devour and Land of the Dead allow us to maximize this sets potential and really let the Lances fly.
  • Jesseth Arms gives a 400% damage buff when we have commanded our Command Skeletons on an enemy. This can also be swapped out for Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang and Lost Time while using a curse such as Frailty on the T16 build.
  • Captain Crimson's Trimmings is a great addition to this build since it provides a massive boost to damage, Cooldown Reduction and survivability.
  • Ring of Royal Grandeur is mandatory for this build as it allows us to wear Captain Crimson's Trimmings as well as Pestilence Master's Shroud without losing their full set bonuses.
  • Krysbin's Sentence for the 300% damage to enemies under a control impairing effect.
  • Reilena's Shadowhook 0.5% damage for every point of Maximum Essence we have, which synergizes with Simulacrum Reservoir.
  • Corpsewhisper Pauldrons lends a buff that increases our damage by 30% for each corpse we've consumed, stacking up to 20 times for a massive damage increase.


Season 24 Ethereals

Ethereals are powerful rare weapons that can only be found during Season 24. 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 Jesseth Arms and either Reilena's Shadowhook or Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang to be functional. Since set powers can't roll on them, 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:
    • Blackbog's Sharp - This is by far the best Ethereal due to the Stacking Damage effect that has great synergy with our playstyle.
    • Soul Harvest - This is the second best option with great stats and an Attack Speed bonus that makes reaching Breakpoints much easier.
    • Blackhand Key - This is a back-up option as long as you don't have any of the other weapons. It can also be used for the fear effect in farming setups.
  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: Cooldown Reduction > Attack Speed > Cold Skill Damage > Critical Hit Damage > Critical Hit Chance along with as much Corpse Lance damage as possible. Less Critical Hit Chance is needed for this build if you are using Corpse Lance Brittle Touch as this rune stacks Critical Hit Chance debuffs with every hit. If you're using Corpse Lance Ricochet variant you'll need to prioritize Critical Hit Chance again. We are going to take enough Attack Speed to reach the 1.72 break point for Corpse Lance for a large damage increase. We're aiming for 62.5% Cooldown Reduction to reach the 36 second breakpoint of Land of the Dead.

Assembling the Build

1. Do the Challenge Rift for the materials to cube Legendary Powers. You can complete this once a week for additional resources and we always update the guide for you!

2. Gather the full Pestilence Master's Shroud set. Each piece can be gambled from Kadala for Bloodshards. Do not salvage any duplicate pieces you find! Instead convert them to another part of the set with Recipe 4 in Kanai's Cube. If you have extra materials you can use Recipe 3 to craft the remaining pieces, but this is expensive and not recommended for new players.

3. Gamble from Kadala in this order:

  1. The full Pestilence Master's Shroud set
  2. Corpsewhisper Pauldrons
  3. Jesseth Skullshield
  4. Goldwrap and Dayntee's Binding
  5. Krysbin's Sentence, Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac and Convention of Elements
  6. Nemesis Bracers, Strongarm Bracers and Warzechian Armguards

4. Craft using Recipe 3 in Kanai's Cube in this order:

  1. Scythes to get Jesseth Skullscythe
  2. 2-Handed Axes to get Messerschmidt's Reaver and Reilena's Shadowhook
  3. 2-Handed Scythes to get Reilena's Shadowhook
  4. Amulets to get Squirt's Necklace and The Johnstone
  5. Anything from the Gamble list in Step 3 that you haven't already acquired.

5. Do Bounties to acquire several important items for this build:

  • Act 1: Ring of Royal Grandeur
  • Act 2: Gloves of Worship
  • Act 3: Avarice Band
  • Act 4: Can drop any bounty item from any act
  • Bounty Turn In: Recipes for Captain Crimson's Trimmings, Sage's Journey and Cain's Destiny

6. At this point you can somewhat comfortably farm Nephalem or Speed Greater Rifts where you can find all the remaining items you need for different variants of the build. It's better to spend your materials improving your set pieces, getting ancient weapon etc.

Item Stat Priorities

SLOTITEMSTAT PRIORITY
Main-HandBlackbog's Sharp
Soul Harvest
Blackhand Key
Jesseth Skullscythe
Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang
Reilena's Shadowhook (Cubed)
Messerschmidt's Reaver (Cubed)
1. Damage Range
2. Socket Ramaladni's Gift
3. Attack Speed
4. Cooldown Reduction
5. Damage %
6. Maximum Essence (Secondary)
Off-HandJesseth Skullshield
Lost Time
1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Maximum Essence (Secondary)
3. Intelligence
4. Critical Hit Chance
5. Armor
6. Vitality
HelmPestilence Mask1. Socket Flawless Royal Diamond
2. Intelligence
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Vitality
Gloves
Pestilence Gloves
1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Attack Speed
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Intelligence
ShouldersPestilence Defense
Corpsewhisper Pauldrons (Cubed)
1. Corpse Lance Damage
2. Cooldown Reduction
3. Intelligence
4. Armor
Chest Pestilence Robe1. Corpse Lance Damage
2. Intelligence
3. Sockets Flawless Royal Ruby
4. Armor
PantsCaptain Crimson's Thrust (Crafted)1. Intelligence
2. Vitality
3. Armor
4. Sockets Flawless Royal Ruby
BootsPestilence Battle Boots
Steuart's Greaves
1. Intelligence
2. Vitality
3. Armor
4. All Resistance
Ring 1Krysbin's Sentence
Ring of Royal Grandeur (A1 Bounties, Cubed)
1. Socket
2. Cooldown Reduction
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Attack Speed
Ring 2Convention of Elements1. Socket
2. Cooldown Reduction
3. Attack Speed
4. Critical Hit Damage
BracersNemesis Bracers
Lacuni Prowlers
Warzechian Armguards (Cubed)
1. Cold Damage
2. Intelligence
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Vitality
5. Chance to Knockback (Secondary)
AmuletThe Johnstone
Squirt's Necklace
1. Socket
2. Cold Damage
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Cooldown Reduction
Belt
Goldwrap
Captain Crimson's Silk Girdle (Crafted)
1. Intelligence
2. Armor
3. Vitality
4. Life %
PotionBottomless Potion of the UnfetteredTo avoid Crowd Control effects
during your DPS phases

Gems

  • Bane of the Trapped provides 60% increased damage and is used in most damage-dealing builds in Diablo 3.
  • Zei's Stone of Vengeance provides up to 80% increased damage for every 10 yards we are away from the monsters, up to a 50 yard maximum (about half a screen away).
  • Gogok of Swiftness gives us as 15% Cooldown Reduction and Attack Speed to reach the 2.0 breakpoint for Corpse Lance.
  • Bane of the Stricken provides up to 2.3% increased damage on successive attacks to the same monster. This is needed to kill Rift Guardians in the RGK setup.
  • Boon of the Hoarder can be taken in place of Gogok of Swiftness for increased movement speed in T16 content.
  • Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard gives us a shield to protect our Squirt's Necklace buff.

Skills

  • Corpse Lance Brittle Touch is our main source of damage in this build and gains massive buffs from Pestilence (6) piece, Simulacrum, Corpsewhisper Pauldrons, The Johnstone and Reilena's Shadowhook.
  • Devour Voracious is a fundamental skill used in the Pestilence build as it allows us to shoot our Corpse Lance every time a corpse is consumed. This synergizes with Corpsewhisper Pauldrons for the 20 stack damage boost and Land of the Dead Frozen Lands and gives extra damage reduction from Captain Crimson's Trimmings.
  • Simulacrum Reservoir is used in conjunction with Reilena's Shadowhook to double our Maximum Essence, giving a significant damage buff.
  • Command Skeletons Dark Mending is another essential skill for this build as it taps into the 400% damage buff provided by Jesseth Arms. Make sure your skeletons are commanded onto an enemy to get the buff!
  • Land of the Dead Frozen Lands gives us the ability to use our Corpse Skills infinitely for 10 seconds after casting it. It also freezes all the enemies around you making them unable to attack during that time. This skill is the backbone of our build which is why Cooldown Reduction is so vital to this build.
  • Blood Rush is used for mobility. Three runes are useful depending on the content you're running: Potency for extra toughness, Molting for extra corpses and Metabolism for extra mobility.

Passives

  • Blood Is Power is helpful for it's Cooldown Reduction since we can spend our life using Blood Rush and Simulacrum Reservoir.
  • Final Service allows us to cheat death which is very important on a build where timing is everything. Dying right when you activate Land of the Dead can be very hard to recover from so having a safety net is recommended for this build.
  • Overwhelming Essence feeds us 40 more essence for our Reilena's Shadowhook giving us a significant damage increase.
  • Stand Alone doubles our armor which we are in need of as an intelligence class.
  • Swift Harvesting increases the Attack Speed of Grim Scythe so we can stack Bane of the Stricken faster.
  • Eternal Torment makes our curses last forever.
  • Spreading Malediction gives us 1% extra damage for every enemy cursed.
  • Fueled By Death makes us run faster after we've consumed a corpse.

Paragon Points

CoreOffensiveDefensiveUtility
1. Movement Speed1. Cooldown Reduction1. Armor1. Resource Cost Reduction
2. Maximum Essence2. Attack Speed2. Life %2. Area Damage
3. Intelligence3. Critical Hit Damage3. All Resistance3. Life per Hit
4. Vitality14. Critical Hit Chance4. Life Regeneration4. Pickup Radius

1 Add a bit of Vitality if you feel too squishy (a total of 750,000 Life is recommended).

Follower

Patch 2.7.0 revamped the follower system giving all 3 hirelings new powers and the emanate system. The first thing you should do is read our complete follower guide and remember the key takeaways:

  1. The emanation system allows followers to share certain legendary and set powers with you. The most important ones are: The Flavor of Time, Nemesis Bracers, Avarice Band, Sage’s Journey and Cain’s Destiny. Click the guide above for the full list.
  2. Follower’s powers are based on their mainstat (maxed at 25,000, but they have a 2.5x multiplier so you only need 10,000). This means we stack Intelligence on the Enchantress, Dexterity on the Scoundrel and Strength on the Templar.
  3. Followers share 20% of their Experience, Magic and Gold Find stats with you.
  4. Legendary gems do not work on followers, except Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard.
  5. With Enforcer equipped on the player it's much easier to keep followers alive even without an immortality relic. The 90% damage reduction counts for them, too.
  6. Cooldown Reduction does not work for any follower skill except the Templar’s Heal.
  7. Followers never deal significant damage; you’re on your own to clear the content.

With these in mind, let’s get into our recommendations for this build.

T16 Enchantress

T16 Enchantress

For T16 we recommend this Enchantress setup because she is the only follower that gives Cooldown Reduction, allowing you to spam your abilities more. Since this is T16 content, she’ll stay alive with Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard and use Hand of the Prophet to gain all skills. This will give us Cooldown Reduction, Elemental Damage, Reduced Damage from Ranged Attacks, Armor, Attack Speed, and a Cheat Death.

Stat Priorities:

Since we do not have the immortality focus, we need to stack survivability on our Enchantress.

Intelligence > Vitality > Life % > Armor > All Resistance > Life Per Hit > Attack Speed.

Key Items:

  • The Flavor of Time: For double duration on Pylons.
  • Nemesis Bracers: For extra Elites, Death’s Breaths and In-geom procs.
  • Avarice Band: For the insane pickup radius.
  • Ring of Royal Grandeur: To complete our sets.
  • Gloves of Worship: For 10 Minute Shrine Buffs.
  • Sage’s Journey: For double Death’s Breaths.
  • Cain’s Destiny: For 25% more Greater Rift Keystones.

Speed GR Enchantress

Speed GR Enchantress

For speed Greater Rifts we recommend this Enchantress setup because she is the only follower that gives Cooldown Reduction, allowing you to spam your abilities more. Since this is speed content, she’ll stay alive with Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard and use Hand of the Prophet to gain all skills. This will give us Cooldown Reduction, Elemental Damage, Reduced Damage from Ranged Attacks, Armor, Attack Speed, and a Cheat Death.

Stat Priorities:

Since we do not have the immortality focus, we need to stack survivability on our Enchantress.

Intelligence > Vitality > Life % > Armor > All Resistance > Life Per Hit > Attack Speed.

Key Items:

  • The Flavor of Time: For double duration on Pylons.
  • Nemesis Bracers: For more progression from Elites.
  • Oculus Ring: For 85% increased damage.
  • Ice Climbers: To make your follower immune to Freeze and Immobilize effects.
  • Hellfire Ring, Leoric's Crown and Cain's Destiny: For more Experience and Attack Speed.

GR Pushing Enchantress

GR Pushing Enchantress

For Greater Rift Pushing we recommend this Enchantress setup for the Slow from Temporal Pulse, Cooldown Reduction from Prophetic Harmony, Damage Reduction and Armor from Powered Shield, and the Attack Speed from Focused Mind.

Stat Priorities:

Since we have the immortality relic, we do not need to stack survivability on our Enchantress.

Intelligence > Attack Speed.

Key Items:

  • The Flavor of Time: For double duration on Pylons.
  • Nemesis Bracers: For more progression from Elites.
  • Oculus Ring: For 85% increased damage.
  • Unity: For 50% damage reduction if you're also wearing one.
  • Ice Climbers: To make your follower immune to Freeze and Immobilize effects.
  • Mempo of Twilight and Cain's Destiny: For more Attack Speed.

Gameplay

The most important thing to remember is that we can only do damage when we have our Land of the Dead going, and that this window lasts for 10 seconds at a time. So it's important to use it wisely in conjunction with your Convention of Elements Cold cycle and gather as many elites as possible before you unleash.

  1. Hunt for elites and gather enemies around them.
  2. Keep up Corpsewhisper Pauldrons and Gogok of Elements the best you can while dodging all incoming attacks. You spawn corpses with Blood Rush Molting for this purpose.
  3. Use Command Skeletons on a target to gain the damage buff from Jesseth Arms.
  4. Between mid-Physical to mid-Poison cycle of Convention of Elements, cast Simulacrum and Land of the Dead.
  5. Begin to spam Devour as fast as possible, kill a small target first to spawn an Oculus Ring then jump in and target Elites with your Corpse Lance skill.
  6. Once your Land of the Dead is over go find as many elites as you can before the next cycle is ready!

Certain Elite packs can be troublesome for this build such Elites with Illusionist and Shielding or blue packs with 5 mobs. Generally try to skip packs like this and focus on the Elites that can be blasted away quickly!

If you keep up Gogok of Swiftness well and have perfect Cooldown Reduction rolls, you will be able to alternate damage rotations with either 2 and then 3 cycles of Convention of Elements.

Hardcore

This build is not the most friendly Hardcore build because being caught with Land of the Dead down can get you into trouble fast. It can still be a great speed farming build as long as you have the proper Cooldown and position yourself well. A good way to get more defense without changing the core build is to put more Paragon points into Vitality and use Esoteric Alteration in place of Zei's Stone of Vengeance.


Variants

Nephalem Rifts
T16 Bounties and Rifts

Ethereals
If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Jesseth Arms.

Concept
This is the famous "Autolancer" build used for T16 farming. For speed content we want to maximize our Cooldown so that we always have our Land of the Dead up and the Pestilence Master's Shroud (2) Bonus will take care of most of the damage.

Gameplay
The gameplay is easiest in T16 because our Land of the Dead should always be up. Spam Devour and Blood Rush as you fly forward and everything should die easily! To help with cooldown management and keeping the Jesseth Arms buff up, numlock or otherwise spam Command Skeletons permanently and hover over enemis as much as possible while rushing through the rift to proc Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac. On elites and the boss, you can also cast Corpse Lance manually to help with DPS.


Setups
Once you reach a high enough kill speed, it becomes possible to play the same build without Jesseth Arms and the need to spam Command Skeletons all the time by equipping Reilena's Shadowhook, dropping Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac for Haunted Visions and replacing the Skeletons with Simulacrum Reservoir.

At high Paragon levels (4000+) you can drop Jesseth Arms for In-Geom and Lost Time. This will guarantee essentially no downtime whatsoever and give you even more mobility.

Solo Push
Solo Push

Ethereals
If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Jesseth Arms.

Concept
Pushing solo you are an Elite hunting machine with this build. Short periods of massive single target damage allow you to melt the enemies you target. The main idea is to gather several Elites together between your Land of the Dead cooldown to maximize your effectiveness when it's ready to be used.

Gameplay
Solo pushing on this build can be quite challenging and requires excellent Cooldown management as well as the ability to weave between enemies during dire times without dying. The rotation is:

  1. Keep up Corpsewhisper Pauldrons and Gogok of Elements with corpses spawned by Blood Rush Molting.
  2. Gather enemies and use Command Skeletons on a target.
  3. Between mid-Physical to mid-Poison cycle of Convention of Elements, cast Simulacrum and Land of the Dead to be able to spam and Corpse Lance onto the target. Best case, spawn an Oculus Ring before.
  4. Spam Devour as much as possible during this time.
  5. When Land of the Dead has expired, gather more elites until it's ready to be used again.

Setups
If you have too much trouble keeping your Squirt's Necklace active, you can also go with The Johnstone but timing your Convention of Elements rotation will become extremely important, as the amulet provides a damage bonus for a limited amount of attacks that will be used up quickly. Moreover you won't be able to deal any significant damage at the start of the run or after a death until you have cast Land of the Dead at least once and you also won't be able to keep up Corpsewhisper Pauldrons between your damage rotations. All in all this is just an emergency option.

It's possible to play a similar setup using Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang instead of Reilena's Shadowhook by replacing Simulacrum with Decrepify Borrowed Time. This allows you to stay alive more easily because enemies will be slowed, doesn't require Maximum Essence rolls on your items and you can replace Overwhelming Essence with Spreading Malediction. The damage potential is slightly reduced but your survivability goes up immensely and with enough targets cursed the additional Cooldown Reduction will allow you to reliably cast Land of the Dead every 2 Convention of Elements cycles. The big downside is that you will deal almost no damage to targets you didn't get to curse in time.

Group RGK
Rift Guardian Killer

Ethereals
If you don't have any Ethereal Item use Jesseth Arms.

Concept
In groups our job is be the Rift Guardian Killer (RGK). It's important to note that currently this setup is in no way close to any of the top builds for that job.

Gameplay
During the rift our job is simple. Most of the time we'll just be swinging Grim Scythe Cursed Scythe to apply all 3 of our curses to the monsters. When our trash clearer is ready to burn everything down we'll activate Land of the Dead and fire as many Corpse Lance Brittle Touch on the elites as possible to increase their chance to be critically hit. In some situations our damage may be high enough to finish an elite the trash clearer couldn't kill. Make sure you communicate with your supports when and when not to start DPS as you will freeze the entire screen, making grouping of enemies impossible.

At the Rift Guardian: To begin, activate Command Skeletons. When you're ready to nuke, activate Land of the Dead between mid-Physical to mid-Poison of your Convention of Elements cycle, run away for maximum Zei's Stone of Vengeance damage and spam Devour and Corpse Lance to burn the boss down. To properly proc your Blood is Power passive you'll need to take damage from the boss in between cycles. Make sure to take this damage right after your rotation so you have Squirt's Necklace up for your next cycle.

Setups
As an extremely greedy DPS choice you can drop Blood Rush for Skeletal Mage Skeleton Archer to gain the 2.4 APS breakpoint and more Bane of the Stricken stacks. If you do that, prepare to die a lot.


Mechanics

Reilena's Shadowhook

  • Reilena's Shadowhook provides a very significant damage increase based off our Maximum Essence. Make sure your weapon and off hand both have Maximum Essence as secondary rolls and that you're using Simulacrum Reservoir and Overwhelming Essence to get it even higher.

Corpse Lance

  • Attack Speed only affects your manual manual lances, at 6 frames you cast 100, at 5 frames you cast 120 (+20%) and at 4 frames you cast 150 (another +25%) during Land of the Dead. But you have 200 lances from Devour so your total damage is only increased by 6.67% on 2.0 APS and by 16,67% on 2.4 APS.

Devour

  • Consumes 20 corpses a second, giving us 200 uses of Corpse Lance during Land of the Dead.

Corpsewhisper Pauldrons

  • The bonus is dynamic and Corpse Lance has a lengthy travel time, meaning by the time the first lance hits you'll already have 13+ stacks from Devour + Corpse Lance spam.

Summary

  • Focus on obtaining the Pestilence Master's Shroud set as well as the Jesseth Arms pieces first, then dive into some bounties so you can obtain your Ring of Royal Grandeur as well as getting the necessary materials to craft your Captain Crimson's Trimmings set.
  • Maximize Cooldown Reduction on your gear and get to the 2.0 Attack Speed break point for maximum Lancing.
  • Pick your elite targets well and learn to fight around your Cold cycle of Convention of Elements .
  • Stay mobile, gather large packs of enemies and utilize your Land of the Dead to do maximum damage when the time is right!

Town Is Lava!

Original Guide by Raxxanterax. Updated by wudijo.