Ethereals Explained

Content of this article:

The iconic Buriza-Do Kyanon in its newest form
  1. Introduction
  2. General Overview
  3. Weapon Bases
  4. Special Affixes
  5. Legendary Powers
  6. Additional Passive
  7. Conclusion

Introduction

With the upcoming release of Diablo II: Resurrected scheduled for the 23rd September 2021, Diablo III is honoring that legacy with a Season Theme by reimagining how Ethereal Items could manifest in Diablo III.

In Season 24, Ethereals are rare, powerful and fleeting items, with 21 iconic Weapons from Diablo II making a return. This article will cover everything there is to know about Ethereals, from a global presentation to a detailed explanation of their specificities. As Deckard Cain would say:
"Stay awhile and listen!"


General Overview

Season 24 introduces Ethereals, a new Weapon type that players will be able to acquire and hunt for in their upcoming seasonal journey. Ethereals will roll a powerful Set of Fixed Affixes, a random Class Weapon Legendary Power and a random Class Passive Power. Ethereals will have unique icons, names, item types and sounds originally found in Diablo II.

Ethereals are account bound and can only be dropped by monsters, chests, and destructibles. They do not require you to be level 70 to drop however they are Ancients (by default) only at maximum level. They cannot be acquired through Kanai's Cube or from Kadala. While Ethereals are guaranteed to be Ancient at level 70, they cannot ever be Primal. Salvaging them grant you a random amount of Forgotten Souls and/or Death's Breaths and more rarely some Greater Rift Keystones.

Ethereals are not a rarity type like Ancients or Primal Ancients. They are special items in the same drop table with every other item, with a drop weight of 82. Most items have a drop weight of 100 with some exceptions like Elemental Immunity Necklaces (The Star of Azkaranth...) with a drop weight of 25 or Istvan's Paired Blades with a drop weight of 75. As there are 3 Ethereals per class, it means you have on average ~1% chance to drop an Ethereal depending on your class. This means you have higher chances to get an Ethereal at very low levels because the drop table contains less items to choose from. Note that you can drop Ethereals for a different class as they are subject to the smart loot rule.

Each of the seven Diablo III classes has 3 different Ethereals Weapons, but a character can only equip one at a time. Ethereals cannot be rerolled at the Mystic, transmogrified, dyed, reforged or traded but can benefit from Ramaladni's Gift and be augmented with Caldesann's Despair. Here is the full list of all 21 Ethereals:

  • Barbarian
    • Doombringer
    • Gimmershred
    • The Grandfather
  • Crusader
    • Astreon's Iron Ward
    • Khalim's Will
    • The Redeemer
  • Demon Hunter
    • Buriza-Do Kyanon
    • Doomslinger
    • Windforce
  • Monk
    • Bartuc's Cut-Throat
    • Jade Talon
    • Shadow Killer
  • Necromancer
    • Blackbog's Sharp
    • Blackhand Key
    • Soul Harvest
  • Witch Doctor
    • Arioc's Needle
    • Ghostflame
    • The Gidbinn
  • Wizard
    • Mang Song's Lesson
    • The Oculus
    • Wizardspike


Some builds obviously benefit more than others from these Ethereals. Unfortunately some builds cannot even use them like Shadow Impale as Demon Hunters have no melee Ethereal, or Vyr Chantodo Wizards as they entirely rely on Chantodo's Resolve to deal damage. However most builds will greatly benefit from Ethereals. Check out our Season 24 Tier Lists to discover which builds get the most out of Ethereal Weapons!

Collecting all 21 Ethereals during Season 24 will reward players with a Feat of Strength, Ethereal Recollection. Players who accomplish this will have all Ethereal transmogrify options available for future seasonal and non-seasonal play. If you want to know how to farm all Ethereals on each class efficiently, take a look at our Ethereal Farming Guide brought to you by Raxxanterax!

Finally, in order to remain faithful to Diablo II, Ethereals ignore item durability loss and will disappear when Season 24 ends, with no chance for non-seasonal players to get their hands on them as Ethereals can only drop in Seasonal play.


Ethereal Weapon Bases

Each Ethereal is based on a normal Weapon Base from Diablo III, but with its original name from Diablo II. The Weapon Base (or Type) defines the base Minimum and Maximum Damage as well as the base Attack Speed of the Weapon. Different Weapon Bases can also have a different pool of possible affixes with different ranges. For instance, Buriza-Do Kyanon is a Two-Handed Crossbow base labelled as Ballista instead.

Ethereals generally have higher Damage and Attack Speed than normal Diablo III weapons. This is because Ethereals have powerful affixes like +Flat Damage Ranges, +75-100% Damage and +12-15% Attack Speed. Those affixes are local to the Weapon, directly applying to the Weapon DPS. To learn more about Weapon DPS and damage calculation, check out this post by Chewingnom!


Ethereal Special Affixes

On top of their higher Damage and Attack Speed, Ethereals have a powerful set of fixed affixes. This includes affixes Diablo III players are used to see such as Cooldown Reduction and Elite Damage, with some having a higher range value than usual. They also have regular affixes that usually cannot roll on Weapons (Pickup Radius, Critical Hit Chance & Damage) and completely new exclusive ones! These affixes are not split between Primaries and Secondaries as a memento from Diablo II items which did not know this distinction. Here are some of the most notable affixes you can find on Ethereals:


Firebird Mirror Images Greater Rift Speeds

Damage to Skills Affix
This affix can be found on every Ethereal and is where most of their power lies. Most Ethereals have a "+100% Damage to [Class] Skills" affix. However, Two-Handed Weapons have a higher value to compensate for the loss of the Off-Hand stats:

  • Buriza-Do Kyanon grants +150% to DH Skills.
  • The Grandfather grants +200% to Barbarian Skills.
  • Mang Song's Lesson grants +300% to Wizard Skills.

Unfortunately for Wizards, most of their builds have 2 Weapons and 1 Off-Hand buffing their damage, so only a few builds can benefit from Mang Song's Lesson and among them, the almighty Firebird Mirror Images Wizard. On the other hand, The Grandfather is an incredible Ethereal for every Barbarian build out there like WW Rend!

This affix is a separate damage multiplier to your Base Average Weapon Damage, which means it directly applies to the sheet DPS shown in your character sheet. As such it applies to all your damage directly or indirectly tied to your Weapon Damage, affecting Thorns of the Invoker (6) Bonus, Firebird's Finery (2) & (6) Bonuses, Aberrant Animator... The only exception to that is Reflected Thorns, which do not matter for any build in Diablo III.

Some Weapons have a +X% Damage to Specific Class Skills only. In this case, the affix is not calculated into your sheet DPS, it is a separate damage multiplier to the skills that belong to the category:

  • Arioc's Needle gives +200% to Decay Skills
    Acid Cloud, Piranhas, Spirit Barrage, Wall of Death & Zombie Charger
  • Ghostflame gives +200% to Secondary Skills
    Firebats, Grasp of the Dead, Haunt & Locust Swarm
  • The Gidbinn gives +200% to Voodoo Skills
    Fetish Army & Gargantuan
  • Windforce gives +200% to Archery Skills
    Cluster Arrow, Multishot, Rain of Vengeance & Strafe



Damage Stacking Affix
Some Ethereals have an affix worded "Consecutive hits to enemies increases damage by 10%, up to 100%". This affix is a separate damage multiplier and works similarly to Bane of the Stricken. The first enemy hit by an attack with a proc coefficient >0 takes a stack of this Damage Stacking affix and the effect goes on internal cooldown (ICD) following this formula:

Stricken ICD Formula 2

As a result, this affix is quite strong for most builds in solo push especially for Elite Hunting builds (Firebird Mirror Image) and Rift Guardian Killers. You can find this Damage Stacking affix only on 3 Ethereals:

  • Bartuc's Cut-Throat
  • Blackbog's Sharp
  • Wizardspike


Attack Speed Buff Affix
"Consecutive hits to enemies increases Attack Speed by 3%, up to 30% for 3 seconds" is an affix you can find on some Ethereals. This affix is a normal additive 30% Attack Speed buff that stacks and refreshes as long as you hit monsters, making it easy to reach and keep the maximum stack bonus. This is a potent buff for builds heavily relying on Attack Speed scaling to reach high Breakpoints or using it as a separate damage multiplier. You can find it on 4 Ethereals:

  • Ghostflame
  • Jade Talon
  • Soul Harvest
  • The Redeemer


Monster Type Damage Affix
This kind of affixes is found on very few Diablo III items, mainly Pig Sticker which is used by some builds like AoV Heaven's Fury. "+X% Damage to [Monster Type]" is a separate damage multiplier against specific monster types. It is a very powerful affix when you are fighting the adequate monster set. This type of affixes is present on 3 different Ethereals:

  • Blackhand Key: +25-50% Damage to Undead
  • Mang Song's Lesson: +25-50% Damage to Undead
  • The Redeemer: +25-50% Damage to Demons & Undead


Damage Reduction Debuff Affix
"Reduce the damage of enemies hit by 25% for 5 seconds" is a special affix convenient for Support builds in some cases to help their teammates to survive or some Solo builds. Multiple sources of this debuff do not stack. You can find it on 3 Ethereals:

  • Doombringer
  • Shadow Killer
  • The Oculus


Paragon Scaled +Maximum Damage Affix
This affix is worded "+1 to Maximum Damage per Paragon Level up to 800" and is similar to an Average Damage affix roll on Rings and Amulet. Above Paragon 800 this affix can be read as "+0-800 Damage" or "+800 Maximum Damage" which effectively means +400 Average Damage. You can find this affix on 4 Ethereals:

  • Arioc's Needle
  • Buriza-Do Kyanon
  • The Grandfather
  • Windforce



GoD Hungering Arrow Greater Rift Speeds

Buriza-Do Kyanon Critical Affix
Buriza-Do Kyanon has a unique affix stating "Hits against Frozen enemies are always Critical Hits". This is an extremely powerful affix halfway between Shi Mizu's Haori and Krysbin's Sentence, allowing you to get full benefit from Critical Hit Damage against frozen targets, which is a separate damage multiplier usually watered down by Critical Hit Chance. To complement this affix Buriza-Do Kyanon also owns a unique 35% Chance to Freeze on Hit affix which is affected by proc coefficient. Thanks to Buriza, the GoD Demon Hunter claimed its spot as one of the best builds to speedfarm experience!

Resource per Critical Hit Affix
Jade Talon, Shadow Killer and Ghostflame come with "Grants 5-7 Mana/Spirit per Critical Hit". This is similar to the Arcane Power on Critical Hit (APoC) affix found on Sources, Wizard Hats and also on The Oculus. The amount of resource you get back is affected by the proc coefficient of your hit, meaning skills with a low proc coefficient are granting you far less resources.

Blackhand Key Fear Affix
Blackhand Key has a special affix read as "Cursed enemies are feared in place for 7 seconds". This effect procs a 7 seconds fear and root on every enemy you curse. This is a decent power for speedfarming to proc Krysbin's Sentence easily. Unfortunately you want to avoid this Ethereal in any kind of Greater Rift push, as it is a Hard Crowd Control effect that applies a massive amount of Crowd Control Resistance on monsters, which is something you generally don't want.

Movement Speed Buff Affixes
"Killing an Elite pack increases Movement Speed by 30% for 7 seconds" is a unique affix you can only find on Gimmershred and Doomslinger while "Picking up a Health Globe increases Movement Speed by 40% for 7 seconds" is found on The Gidbinn. Self-explanatory, Movement Speed is always a good thing!

Windforce Special Affixes
Windforce has 35% Chance to Knockback on Hit and 12-15% Movement Speed as a reminder of its Diablo II iteration. The Chance to Knockback is affected by the proc coefficient of the hit while the Movement Speed affix doesn't go over the base cap of 25% Movement Speed from equipment and paragon points. In order to be an effective replacement for Yang's Recurve, Windforce also comes with +40-50% Resource Cost Reduction and +9-12 Maximum Discipline.

Khalim's Will Special Affix
Khalim's Will has the "Killing an enemy reduces the cooldown of Steed Charge by 1 second" affix from Norvald's Fervor, which is a nice touch to turn this Ethereal into a great speedfarming choice.


Ethereal Legendary Powers

Each Ethereal comes with a random Class Weapon Legendary Power. The lists of available powers have been handpicked by the developers to ensure balance between classes. The Legendary power can come from either a Weapon or Off-Hand.

Generic useful Legendary powers such as In-geom, The Furnace or Echoing Fury are also available to most classes. The interesting part is that you can get Two-Handed Weapons Legendary powers on One-Handed Ethereal Weapons! Here is the list of the available powers for each class:

Barbarian

Two-Handed Weapons

  • Bastion's Revered
  • Blade of the Tribes
  • Fury of the Vanished Peak
  • Messerschmidt's Reaver
  • Standoff
  • The Executioner
  • The Furnace
  • The Gavel of Judgment

One-Handed Weapons

  • Ambo's Pride
  • Echoing Fury
  • Fjord Cutter
  • In-geom
  • Oathkeeper
  • Remorseless

Crusader

Two-Handed Weapons

  • Akkhan's Leniency
  • Blade of Prophecy
  • Faithful Memory
  • Fate of the Fell
  • Messerschmidt's Reaver
  • The Furnace
  • The Mortal Drama

One-Handed Weapons

  • Darklight
  • Gyrfalcon's Foote
  • In-geom
  • Johanna's Argument
  • Swiftmount

Shields

  • Akarat's Awakening
  • Denial
  • Eberli Charo
  • Frydehr's Wrath
  • Guard of Johanna
  • Ivory Tower
  • Jekangbord
  • Shield of Fury

Demon Hunter

One-Handed Weapons

  • Dawn
  • Echoing Fury
  • Fortress Ballista
  • Karlei's Point
  • Lord Greenstone's Fan
  • Valla's Bequest

Two-Handed Weapons

  • Manticore
  • Odyssey's End
  • Wojahnni assaulter
  • Yang's Recurve

Quivers

  • Bombardier's Rucksack
  • Dead Man's Legacy
  • Holy Point Shot
  • Sin Seekers
  • The Ninth Cirri Satchel

Monk

One-Handed Weapons

  • Echoing Fury
  • In-geom
  • Kyoshiro's Blade
  • Lion's Claw
  • Rabid Strike
  • The Fist of Az'Turrasq
  • Vengeful Wind
  • Won Khim Lau

Two-Handed Weapons

  • Balance
  • Flying Dragon
  • Incense Torch of the Grand Temple
  • Messerschmidt's Reaver
  • The Flow of Eternity

Necromancer

One-Handed Weapons

  • In-geom
  • Scythe of the Cycle
  • Trag'Oul's Corroded Fang

Phylacteries

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

Two-Handed Weapons

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

Witch Doctor

One-Handed Weapons

  • Echoing Fury
  • In-geom
  • Sacred Harvester
  • Scrimshaw
  • The Barber
  • The Dagger of Darts

Two-Handed Weapons

  • Staff of Chiroptera
  • The Furnace

Mojos

  • Gazing Demise
  • Henri's Perquisition
  • Shukrani's Triumph
  • Spite
  • Ursua's Trodden Effigy
  • Vile Hive

Wizard

One-Handed Weapons

  • Aether Walker
  • Deathwish
  • Echoing Fury
  • Fragment of Destiny
  • In-geom
  • Serpent's Sparker
  • The Twisted Sword
  • Unstable Scepter
  • Wand of Woh
  • Wizardspike

Sources

  • Cosmic Strand
  • Etched Sigil
  • Orb of Infinite Depth
  • Triumvirate
  • Winter Flurry

Two-Handed Weapons

  • Messerschmidt's Reaver
  • The Furnace
  • The Grand Vizier
  • Valthek's Rebuke

Ethereal Additional Passive

The additional passive is a nice touch to Ethereals, allowing every build to play around with 5 passives without equipping Hellfire Amulet. While this is a cool feature of Ethereals, keep in mind you can already select your 4 strongest passives, making a fifth passive generally nothing more than a slight damage or toughness buff. Here are a few takes on what you can do for each class:

Barbarian

They can take an additional damage passive like Brawler or Weapons Master. For more mitigation or recovery, Superstition, Pound of Flesh or Tough as Nails are always decent choices.

Crusader

They can always go for Indestructible or Holy Cause and there are plenty of decent defensive passives to choose from like Vigilant.

Demon Hunter

They have plenty of great passives to the point they can never take them all: Steady Aim, Archery, Single Out, Perfectionist or Awareness are all decent choices for a fifth passive.

Monk

They also have a wide selection of good passives. Unity, Momentum and Determination can give you a slight damage boost while Harmony, Sixth Sense or Resolve are great defensive passives.

Necromancer

They have very specialized passives overall which unfortunately doesn't make all that much space for an interesting fifth passive. Spreading Malediction and Draw Life are always good options. Swift Harvesting is nice for Bane of the Stricken stacking in solo push.

Witch Doctor

They can always go for Confidence Ritual or Gruesome Feast for more damage. Swampland Attunement, Spirit Vessel and Jungle Fortitude are great defensive choices.

Utility passives such as Creeping Death or Rush of Essence can be interesting for some builds as well. Pay attention to Fetish Sycophants and Pierce the Veil which can mess up some builds!

Wizard

They can take an additional damage passive like Elemental Exposure, Unwavering Will or Conflagration. For additional mitigation, Blur is always a good choice. Take care to Glass Cannon which decreases your Armor and Resistances by 10%!


Video Guide

Ethereals Presentation by Raxxanterax

Conclusion

Ethereals are a breath of fresh air into Diablo III and a great way to celebrate the Diablo II legacy! At the same time, they are an awesome first step towards reincentivizing loot hunting over paragon farming which is an amazing feeling. Will Ethereals remain in the game in a much weakened state after Season 24 like Legacy of Dreams was introduced after the success of the Season 17 theme? Will we see Diablo III take on Runewords in an upcoming season? So many questions that are still completely up in the air. Stay tuned, Maxroll will cover it all!!

Guide by Chewingnom.