Build information for the Summon Necromancer (Summonmancer), including suggested skills, stat distribution and gear.
|Squad of skeletons provides an excellent meat shield.|
|High survivability, low-effort gameplay. Walk, curse, Corpse Explosion, repeat.|
|Corpse explosion kills mobs quickly.|
|Very few enemies can’t be killed, thanks to Amplify Damage.|
|Excellent ability to clear areas, including aLv85 areas.|
|Character design and playstyle is fundamentally cool. Not subjective.|
|Takes some effort to kill the first few foes and raise a horde.|
|Needs a lot of +Skills gear or 60~ levels before the build is running smoothly.|
|No innate mobility skills - really wants Enigma to reposition minions.|
|No way to deal any meaningful amount of direct damage without corpses.|
|Physical immunes slow progress.|
|Somewhat slow at killing bosses.|
|Minion AI is dumb.|
While the Summonmancer isn’t the fastest killer, and is a generally mediocre bosser overall, few other characters can kill as effectively in as many different areas with nearly as much ease as the Summonmancer. This is mostly due to two factors: your minions and Amplify Damage. Having a dozen or so skeletons, a golem and a mercenary running around makes it very easy to avoid getting attacked. As long as you have enough Vitality and resistances to avoid AoEs, you should rarely die. While the Summonmancer almost exclusively deals physical damage, you can strip most physical immunes of their protection with Amplify Damage, as this skill achieves its promise to amplify “damage taken” by 100% by reducing an enemy’s physical resistance by -100%. Formerly physical immune monsters will still slow you down, but they’re not unkillable.
Unfortunately the Summonmancer needs corpses to raise his skeletal army, and this means killing enemies fresh every game. This will be the responsibility of your mercenary, who is more important to this build than perhaps any other (and they’re generally fairly important). Hire an Act 2 Offensive mercenary in Nightmare difficulty and he’ll come with a Might aura, which will increase the physical damage your skeletons do - already a huge boon. Give him an Insight runeword polearm (Ral + Tir + Tal + Sol) and the mercenary will not only have a deadly powerful weapon, but one that’ll also bestow him - and by extension, you - the Meditation aura, which will make Mana a non-factor. Keeping your mercenary alive is also easier with the Summonmancer, as your foes have a lot of other targets to choose from. Every new game you’ll need to lead your mercenary out, let him get a few kills and use the corpses he creates to summon your horde of skeletons.
Once you’ve got your little army, however, you can start plundering freely. Since the Summonmancer is a somewhat slow bosser, your target should be aLv85 areas. These include the Mausoleum, The Pit, the Ancient Tunnels and the Chaos Sanctuary, but the Summonmancer is also capable of clearing The Secret Cow Level fairly quickly. You can also do runs on Pindleskin, Eldritch and Shenk - no reason not to, since they’re easy to reach and quicker to kill than bosses. The Summonmancer is about volume farming, not speed farming, as once they’ve got their horde up… well, they might as well use it.
This isn’t terribly ideal for new players looking to farm a bunch of mid-tier gear as quickly as possible, but that’s what the Sorceress is for - Meteorb or Blizzard, as you prefer. On the other hand, the Summonmancer doesn’t really need gear to get started, although they benefit immensely from +Skill items.
Summonmancer - Skills
Two core Summonmancer skills aren’t surprising in the least - you’ll want to max Raise Skeleton and Skeleton Mastery. Skeletons are vital part of your offense and defense; defense because they’ll distract enemies, and enemies attacking your skeletons aren’t attacking you, and offensively because… well, they’re not summoned with swords for no reason. Both of these skills are available at Lv1, and while it might seem like the start of good “Beginner Build”, the amount of points both these skills take to be effective are rather prohibitive at lower levels. You can do it, and it’ll work, but you’ll progress much faster with the suggested Bonemancer build, which you can respec into a Summonmancer when you reach Lv35~.
When maxed, Raise Skeleton will allow you to summon 8 skeletons at a time, all of which will be fairly tanky. Better yet, they’ll keep enemies away from your Necromancer. Another key skill is Amplify Damage, which will double the damage your skeletons deal (rather, reduce the enemy’s physical resistance by -100%), making the process of killing things much, much faster. Add an Nightmare difficulty Act 2 Offensive mercenary to the mix and you’ll give your minions a Might aura, further boosting their damage output.
Despite the fair potency of your skeletons, the faster way to kill foes will be via Corpse Explosion. Once your skeletons fell a monster, blow its corpse up and cackle with necromantic glee as everything within the AoE suffers massive damage - damage boosted by Amplify Damage, we might add. After Raise Skeleton and Skeleton Mastery, it’s the next skill you should focus on, even though investing more points only increases the radius (and Mana cost). The fewer enemies your minions have to kill, the better. If you give your mercenary an Insight runeword polearm (bardiches, voulges, scythes, poleaxes, halberds, war scythes and their exceptional and elite variants all suffice), the Meditation aura the weapon yields will ensure you never have to worry about Mana again - blast away.
After those three skills are maxed, it’s time to focus on Skeleton Magi. These critters deal elemental damage, and aren’t nearly the power-houses your normal skeletons are. They deal less damage and are much more frail. Still, they have ranged attacks and provide more bony bodies for the enemy to chew on. While their damage output is poor, they can at least damage physical immunes in Hell difficulty, poison skeleton magi can hinder a monster’s ability to heal, and cold skeleton magi can slow them down. Plus, when your boneheaded skeletons get bottlenecked, the skeleton magi can still contribute from afar… provided they’re not the ones clogging things up, an unfortunately downside to having more minions clattering about. The type of skeleton magi summoned is random, and if you don’t like what was created, you can always unsummon it and raise another.
While Amplify Damage is a very good skill, investing in it only increases the radius and duration, not the damage. While these are nice, they’re arguably not worth investing Skill Points for - with enough +Skills gear Amplify Damage should perform just fine.
Other skills you should invest in include Clay Golem, Golem Mastery, Summon Resist and Revive. The Clay Golem is just another body to absorb damage for you, and even with one point in Clay Golem and Golem Mastery, your minion will eventually have thousands of Life. If it should die, no worries - just summon it again. You can even cast it ahead of your position to act as bait. With a mercenary granting you Meditation, you need not worry about being profligate with your Mana. As an added perk, your Clay Golem will slow enemies when it hits them, which will reduce the offensive output of bosses you fight.
Summon Resist will increase the resistances of all your summons - an obvious boon for a Summonmancer - and Revive is a tertiary summoning skill that revives your dead foes as they were in life (or previous undeath, as the case may be). These can be fairly strong, and used to be the gold standard for early Summonmancers before skeletons were buffed into adequacy, but unlike skeletons they have a duration, and their efficacy really depends on the type of monster revived. Plus, their ability to follow you around is terrible - without Teleport, they’re just likely to get lost and despawn.
Teeth is a prerequisite for Corpse Explosion, which obligates a Skill Point, but in the Curses tree you have more options. Amplify Damage is the best curse - the one you’ll use the most if you’re playing solo, but if you don’t mind investing the Skill Points, you can advance to the bottom of the tree and grab Lower Resists. This will boost the damage your skeleton magi deal (handy against physical immunes) as well as the elemental damage of other characters you may be playing with. If you don’t plan to play with others at any point, you can safely ignore it, but if you do, grabbing Lower Resistances may be appreciated. Otherwise, just drop your remaining points into Golem Mastery to buff up your Clay Golem.
Summonmancer Suggested Skills
|Raise Skeleton||20||Skeletons are one of your primary offensive and defensive tools. This gives you more, stronger skeletons.|
|Skeleton Mastery||20||Makes your skeletons, skeleton magi and revives stronger.|
|Clay Golem||1||Summonable-at-will golem that slows enemies. Lots of tanking for one skill point.|
|Golem Mastery||1+||Increases golem effectiveness. Dump points here when you’re done with everything else.|
|Skeletal Mage||20||Like skeletons, but weaker. Gives you elemental/ranged damage and more bodies.|
|Summon Resist||1||Buffs the resistances of all summons.|
|Revive||1||Revives dead monsters. Can be useful from time to time.|
|Teeth||1||Prereq for Corpse Explosion.|
|Corpse Explosion||20||Primary source of damage. sLv increases AoE.|
|Amplify Damage||1||Reduces physical resistances by -100%. Skeletons and Corpse Explosion both deal physical damage.|
|Weaken||1||Prereq for Lower Resist.|
|Iron Maiden||1||How the mighty have fallen. Prereq for Lower Resist.|
|Terror||1||Prereq for Lower Resist.|
|Life Tap||1||Gives attackers a source of leech. Might be useful when playing with others. Prereq for Lower Resist.|
|Decrepify||1||Prereq for Lower Resist.|
|Lower Resist||1||Reduces enemy resistances. Increases skeleton magi damage. Useful when playing with other elemental builds.|
|Total||92~ Skill Points (Lv81~ + Quests|
Summonmancer Level-by-Level Skills
|2||Raise Skeleton (1)|
|3||Skeleton Mastery (1)|
|4||Amplify Damage (1)|
|6||Corpse Explosion (1)|
|Den of Evil||Clay Golem (1)|
|7 - 11||Raise Skeleton (6)|
|12||Skeletal Mage (1)|
|13 - 26||Raise Skeleton (20)|
|Radament’s Lair||Golem Mastery (1)|
|27 - 29||Skeleton Mastery (4)|
|The Fallen Angel||Skeleton Mastery (5), Summon Resist (1)|
|31 - 45||Skeleton Mastery (20)|
|46 - 64||Corpse Explosion (20)|
|Nightmare Quests||Skeletal Mage (5)|
|65 - 79||Skeletal Mage (20)|
|Hell Quests||Weaken (1), Iron Maiden (1), Terror (1), Life Tap (1)|
|81||Lower Resist (1)|
Summonmancer - Stats
Like most characters, the Summonmancers needs enough Strength to wear his gear, the rest can go into Vitality. Given that the goal of the Summonmancer is to come under direct assault as rarely as possible, shooting for Max Block Chance doesn’t seem all that necessary. If you’re willing to shoot for a Homunculus totem, you won’t need a Spirit Monarch and its associated Strength requirement. The next most high-Strength item the Summonmancer may wish to use is Marrowalk, which requires 118 Strength. If you’d rather go for the Magic Find on War Traveler instead of the +Skeleton Mastery offered by Marrowalk, your Strength needs are down to a mere 95. If you’re willing to settle for anything with +Run/Walk speed, you can drop even further down, as the aforementioned Homunculus and Trang-Oul’s Claws only require 58 Strength, which is probably as low as you want to go.
Summonmancer Level-by-Level Stats
|2 - 6||Strength +25 (40)|
|7 - 30||Vitality +120 (135)|
|31 - 32||Strength +10 (50)|
|33 - 40||Vitality +70 (205)|
|40 - 50||Strength +50 (100)*|
|Lam Esen’s Tome||Vitality +15 (200+)|
Summonmancer - Gear
Perhaps the easiest class to gear up, the Summonmancer needs little. Survivability is easy due to his minions. +Cast Rate is unnecessary since he’s in no particular rush to summon more minions, lay down curses or detonate corpses. Resistances/Life are helpful for weathering AoE attacks, some of which can’t reasonably be dodged, but all in all, life is easy for the Summonmancer. They’re not particularly fast farmers, but they’re relentless and your patience can reap dividends.
The most important part of a Summonmancer’s gear is +Skills items - no surprise, it’s true for most casters. More +Skills means more/stronger summons and wider AoEs for curses and Corpse Explosion, and general good times all around.
If you have to farm with a Summonmancer, press onto Hell difficulty as fast as possible and clear areas like Mausoleum, The Pit, the Ancient Tunnels, the Chaos Sanctuary, The Secret Cow Level, and hunt super uniques like Pindleskin, Eldritch and Shenk. A Sorceress will get mid-tier gear faster, but the Necromancer’s relentless grind can yield some of the best gear in the game with relatively little effort.
|Harlequin Crest||+2 Skills, +Life/Mana per Level, Damage Reduced 10%, +50% Magic Find|
|Tarnhelm||+1 Skills, +25-50% Magic Find|
|Peasant Crown||+1 Skills, +Run/Walk Speed, +Vitality/Energy|
|Lore||+1 Skills, +10 Energy, +2 Mana/Kill, +Lightning Resist +30%|
|Mara’s Kaleidoscope||+2 Skills, All Resistances +20-30%, +5 All Attributes|
|Magic/Rare||+Skills, +Caster Rate, +Life, +Mana, +Resists|
|Arm of King Leoric||+2 Summoning Skills, +3 Raise Skeleton, +3 Skeleton Mastery, +2 Raise Skeletal Mage, +10% Cast Rate, +Mana per Level|
|Heart of the Oak||+3 Skills, +40% Cast Rate, +10 Dexterity, Max Mana +15%, All Resistances +30%-40%|
|Carin Shard||+1 Necro Skills, +2 Summoning Skills, +10% Cast Rate, +Life/Mana per Level|
|Spirit||+2 Skills, +25-35 Cast Rate, +55% Hit Recovery, +22 Vitality, +89-112 Mana|
|Enigma||+2 Skills, +45% Run/Walk Speed, +1 Teleport, +Strength per Level, +5% Max Life, Damage Reduced 8%, +Magic Find per Level|
|Chains of Honor||+2 Skills, +20 Strength, All Resistances +65, Damage Reduced 8%, +25% Magic Find|
|Trang-Oul’s Scales||+2 Summoning Skills, +40% Run/Walk, Poison Resist +40%|
|Skin of the Vipermagi||+1 Skills, +30% Cast Rate, All Resistances +20-35|
|Skullder’s Ire||+1 Skills, +Magic Find per Level|
|Homunculus||+2 Necromancer Skills, +2 Curses, +Energy, Regenerate Mana +33%, All Resistances +40%|
|Boneflame||+2 - 3 Necromancer Skills, +20% Run/Walk, All Resistances +20 - 30|
|Spirit||+2 Skills, +25-35 Cast Rate, +55% Hit Recovery, +22 Vitality, +89-112 Mana Cold, Lightning, Poison Resist +35%|
|Darkforce Spawn||+ 1 - 3 Curses/Summoning/Poison and Bone spells, +30% Cast Rate, Max Mana 10%|
|Lidless Wall||+1 Skills, +20% Cast Rate, +10 Energy, Max Mana 10%|
|Trang-Oul’s Claws||+2 Summoning Skills, +20% Cast Rate, Cold Resist +30%|
|Chance Guards||+25-40% Magic Find|
|Stone of Jordan||+1 Skills, +20 Mana, Max Mana +25%|
|Nagelring||+15-30% Magic Find|
|Magic/Rare||+Life, +Mana, +Resists|
|Arachnid Mesh||+1 Skills, +20% Cast Rate, Max Mana +5%|
|Verdungo’s Hearty Cord||+30-40 Vitality, Damage Reduced 10-15%|
|String of Ears||Damage Reduced 10-15%|
|Goldwrap||Magic Find +30%|
|Marrowalk||+1 - 2 Skeleton Mastery, +20% Run/Walk, +10 - 20 Strength, +17 Dexterity|
|War Travelers||+25% Run/Walk, +Strength/Vitality, +30-50% Magic Find|
|Aldur’s Advance||+40% Run/Walk, +50 Life, Fire Resist +40-50%|
|Sandstorm Trek||+20% Run/Walk, +Strength/Vitality, Poison Reist +40-70%|