Necromancer Leveling Guide

Necromancer Leveling

Introduction

The Necromancer Leveling Guide provides you with all the necessary information to get your favorite Character started!
Not every Skill is suitable to be used during early leveling for three reasons:

  • Only a number of Skills work well without any previously farmed gear.
  • A lot of builds lack damage during the leveling phase. It can become a big struggle or even straight up impossible to progress, starting with an end game build.
  • Some builds have a hard time transitioning into hell due to Immunities.

We provide you with step by step Skill trees and easily accessible items that help you in your play through. Additionally, you get tips and insights on how to deal with Immunities and the more difficult fights.

Gear used in this guide
Bone Spear
Corpse Explosion
Bone Armor
Teeth

At the end of this guide you'll have a Level 75 Necromancer that used 1 out of the 3 respecs the game provides. You can use these to transition into your build of choice.
If you like the build at the end of this guide, check out the Bone Spear Necromancer Guide, which continues it to the end game.


Skill Trees

The Necromancer Leveling Guide utilizes Teeth and Bone Spear in Normal. Later on we add Corpse Explosion to the mix.

Hint: The Skill trees below have a slider which you can move around to see the Skill progression!

Level 1-24

Until you reach Level 18, you rely on Teeth as your main damage Skill, making the Skill Point allocation straight-forward:

  • Level 2-5: Teeth
  • Level 6: Clay Golem
  • Level 7-10: Teeth
  • Level 11: Amplify Damage
  • Level 12: Iron Maiden
  • Level 13-16: Teeth
  • Level 17: Corpse Explosion
  • Level 18-24: Bone Spear

While this build could complete the Leveling process without respeccing, we recommend doing so to gain a massive defensive boost. This makes the later stages of the game a lot easier!




Level 24-75 (Solo)

The respec is used to gain a massive defensive boost. A higher Skill Level Corpse Explosion offers a lot of Area of Effect damage. Let's take a look at the respec:

  • Iron Maiden - 1 Skill Point (Only if you haven't killed Diablo and Baal yet! Use the Skill Points in Teeth instead if you have)
  • Clay Golem - 1 Skill Point
  • Bone Armor - 1 Skill Point
  • Bone Wall - 5 Skill Points
  • Teeth - 1 Skill Point
  • Corpse Explosion - 5 Skill Points
  • Bone Spear - 7 Skill Points
  • Bone Prison - 1 Skill Point

Note: We are not going to use every Skill Point we have at the respec. This is not a mistake! It allows you to put Skill Points into Bone Spear and Bone Prison simultaneously while you are leveling up!

Fun fact: Bone Armor gains more Damage Absorb from putting Skill Points in its Synergies than Bone Armor itself.

Skill Point allocation after respec, in order:

  • Bone Spear until maxed out (20 Skill Points allocated)
  • Bone Prison until maxed out (20 Skill Points allocated)
  • Bone Wall until maxed out (20 Skill Points allocated)
  • Corpse Explosion until maxed out (20 Skill Points allocated)
  • Teeth (remaining Skill Points)

Level 24-75 (Group)

This version does not deal damage on its own. Your damage comes from Corpse Explosion which only deals damage after enemies have fallen. To make up for the lack of damage, you support your party by using Lower Resist to reduce enemies' Resistances, making your party deal a large amount of elemental damage and potentially breaking monster Immunities. Your Respec looks like this:

  • 19 Skill Points into Corpse Explosion
  • 1 Skill Point into Bone Armor and all Curses that are required for Lower Resist at Level 30
  • Remaining Skill Points into Bone Wall

At Level 25, finish maxing out Corpse Explosion. Continue to put Skill Points into Bone Wall until Level 29 to increase your defenses. At Level 30+ you start maxing out Lower Resist, while using Skill Points from Quests in Bone Wall. Max out Bone Wall and finally Bone Prison afterwards.
If your team mainly consists of Physical Damage, max out Amplify Damage instead of Lower Resist. This gives Amplify Damage a massive Area of Effect. In addition to that, your Corpse Explosion deals 50% Physical and 50% Fire Damage. Over all, you deal more damage with Amplify Damage as it literally doubles the Physical part at all times.


Playstyle

During the Leveling process, the Necromancer Leveling Guide employs different playstyles depending on the skills they have access to. This section describes the playstyle for each Skill set.

Level 1-24

Very important: Pick up every Chipped Gem that drops. You need them for a Horadric Cube recipe later (see Assemble the Build section)!

Until you reach Level 6, the Necromancer relies on Teeth to deal damage. Spam it to your heart's content, but be aware of the Mana cost. Try to hit as many targets as possible with every cast. Teeth doesn't shotgun. This means that each enemy can only be hit by one Teeth projectile per cast.

At Level 6 start using Clay Golem and Strangling Gas Potions. Summon the Clay Golem close to dangerous boss groups to redirect their aggro away from you. Throw a Strangling Gas Potion on the boss group to supplement Teeth damage.

For Act bosses cast Clay Golem on top of them, then cast Iron Maiden and re-summon Clay Golem as soon as it dies. Keep Iron Maiden up and watch the Act bosses kill themselves when using their melee attacks. Be aware that Iron Maiden only reflects melee Physical Damage. Check for "Poison Shrines" along the way, so at Level 16 you can upgrade to Choking Gas Potions.

At Level 18 the playstyle changes a little. Use the Teeth + Choking Gas Potion combo whenever facing lots of small enemies spread across your screen. Against boss groups and monsters that line up easily, use Bone Spear. Mephisto, Diablo and Baal usually allow you to cast a couple of Bone Spears before you need to re-cast claygolem or ironmaiden.

The Chaos Sanctuary has a lot of great choke points where Bone Spear is the fastest clearing tool the Necromancer has. In situations where there is a widely spread group of monsters, drop a few with Bone Spear, and then mop up the rest with Corpse Explosion.

Level 24-75 (Solo)

Keep up Bone Armor at all times, as it makes you very tanky against Physical Damage.

Corpse Explosion becomes your main damage Skill. To utilize this Skill effectively you need to focus down 1-2 monsters with Bone Spear first before using Corpse Explosion on their corpses. This starts a chain reaction that obliterates the whole screen within seconds.

To prevent monsters from running out of the explosion range, you can use Bone Prison. This Skill locks them in place. Any monster that survives the initial Corpse Explosions can be finished of with Bone Spear. Be aware that Bone Prison lasts for 24 seconds, so make sure to be out of the range, or you might get stuck inside.

Another good use of Bone Prison is to prevent getting hit by hostile projectiles. Simply cast it on top of your range enemies to intercept their missiles.
Note: It is very common to create a barrier for yourself, so be careful with the use. When you eventually create your own prison, you either have to wait for it to expire or use Teleport to get past them. But it is better than dying, right?
Careful: Some projectiles, ghosts, and a lot of spells can penetrate Bone Prison. Be aware that you can take damage even when your full screen is full of Bone Prison.
Against Act bosses, you can spam Bone Prison to lock them in place and easily kill them off with Bone Spear.

The only place you ever need to use a curse is wave 2 in the Throne of Destruction in Hell. The Unravelers you fight there are Magic Immune, which means you can't kill them with Bone Spear. INSTANTLY spam Bone Prison to lock the Skeleton Mages next to the Unravelers. Kill a bunch of the Skeleton Mages and cast Amplify Damage on the Unravelers before blowing up the corpses with Corpse Explosion.

Level 24-75 (Group)

The group Skill tree makes you rely on your party to kill monsters to provide you with corpses. By yourself, you are unable to kill a single monster.
The playstyle is very simple. Your main job is to stay alive and affect every monster with Lower Resist. Keep Bone Armor up to absorb incoming Physical Damage.

After your party has killed a couple of monsters, you start spamming Corpse Explosion to deal massive Area of Effect damage.

If your team mainly consists of Physical Damage dealers, you should use Amplify Damage instead of Lower Resist.
Assassins using Death Senty can be a bit annoying as they use up corpses. Ask them nicely to not use that Skill under any circumstance, as they have a much lower Area of Effect.


Miscellaneous

Assembling the Build

This guide only uses items you can easily get during your playthrough. In this section, we show where and why you get the items that are used.
Warning: When we are talking about Socketed items for Runewords, be aware that the vendors can sell Magic Items with 2 Sockets. Runewords do NOT work in Magic Items!

Wand:
Where?
- Buy a Wand with +2 or 3 to Teeth from Akara in Normal Act 1.
Why?
- This gives you a massive damage boost until you reach Bone Spear.

Preserved Head:
Where?
- Pick up every Necromancer Shields and check them for +x to Teeth.
Why?
- Until you switch to Bone Spear you will appreciate any damage boost you can find for Teeth.

Bone Wand (Solo):
Where?
- Buy a normal quality, 0 or 2 Socket Bone Wand with +2 or 3 to Bone Spear from Drognan in Normal Act 2.
Important: Bone Wand is the ONLY Wand type you can get here that can get 2 Sockets!
Tip: Use the Horadric Cube recipe: 3 Chipped Gems + a Magic Wand if you don't have enough Gold. Purchase cheap Magic Wands for it. This recipe re rolls the Magic Wand, potentially increasing its sell value or even give +x to Bone Spear.
- Find the Runes from The Countess in Nightmare Act 1, The Forgotten Tower (Black Marsh).
Why?
- Up to +8 to Bone Spear at Level 35 is straight up broken!

Bone Wand (Group):
Where?
- Buy a normal quality, 0 or 2 Socket Bone Wand with +2 or 3 to Corpse Explosion from Drognan in Normal Act 2.
Important: Bone Wand is the ONLY Wand type you can get here that can get 2 Sockets!
Tip: Use the Horadric Cube recipe: 3 Chipped Gems + a Magic Wand if you don't have enough Gold. Purchase cheap Magic Wands for it. This recipe re rolls the Magic Wand, potentially increasing its sell value or even give +x to Bone Spear.
- Find the Runes from The Countess in Nightmare Act 1, The Forgotten Tower (Black Marsh).
Why?
- Up to +6 to Corpse Explosion at Level 35 is straight up broken!

Stealth:
Where?
- Buy a 2 Socket Body Armor from Charsi in Normal Act 1.
- Find the Runes from The Countess in Normal Act 1, The Forgotten Tower (Black Marsh).
Why?
- Stealth is arguably the strongest Runeword, as we are using it on literally every Leveling guide.
- 25 % Faster Run/Walk and 25% Faster Hit Recovery bring significant Quality of Life, and this Body Armor should not be replaced until the end of this guide.

Ancients' Pledge Kite Shield:
Where?
- Buy a Kite Shield from Farah in Normal Act 2.
- Find the Runes from The Countess in Nightmare Act 1, The Forgotten Tower (Black Marsh).
Why?
- Ancients' Pledge Kite Shield provides a large amount of Resistances, which makes you extremely tanky.

Rhyme Preserved Head:
Where?
- Find a Necromancer Shield with +x to Bone Spear and 0 or 2 Sockets. Use the Socket Quest in Nightmare Act 5 if it has 0 Sockets.
- Find the Runes from The Countess in Nightmare Act 1, The Forgotten Tower (Black Marsh).
Why?
- With this Shield type, we get the benefits of additional Skill damage, and defenses from this Runeword.

Lore Cap:
Where?
- Buy a Cap or Skull Cap from Charsi in Normal Act 1.
- Find the Runes from The Countess in Nightmare Act 1, The Forgotten Tower (Black Marsh).
Why?
Lore provides +1 to All Skills as well as Lightning Resist +30%, which makes this Helmet a strong offensive and defensive option for this item slot. The +2 Mana after each Kill helps in managing the Mana costs from our Skills.

Gnarled Staff of Teleportation:
Where?
- Buy the Staff of Teleportation from Ormus in Normal Act 3. A minimum Character Level of 19 is required.
Why?
- A Staff of Teleportation provides us with higher mobility. We utilize this to get past physical blockades as well as difficult monster groups we cannot easily kill.
Tip: Buy the Staff of Teleportation before you hit Level 24. The Staff has a Level requirement of 24 which means they appear with a red background in the vendor screen. This speeds up the process of shopping for it a lot!
Hardcore warning: When you switch to the Weapon slot with the Staff of Teleportation, you lose a lot of Resistances and your Chance to Block.

Ocher Heavy Boots of Haste:
Where?
- Buy Boots with 20% Faster Run/Walk and Resistances from Charsi or Gheed in Nightmare Act 1.
Why?
- Great mobility for leveling and progression.
- Resistances help you stay alive easier. Lightning and Fire Resistances are your priorities!

Belt of the Colossus:
Where?
- Buy a Belt with Life and Resistances from Charsi or Gheed in Nightmare Act 1.
Why?
- Resistances help you stay alive easier. Lightning and Fire Resistances are your priorities!

Garnet Heavy Gloves:
Where?
- Buy Gloves with Resistances from Charsi or Gheed in Nightmare Act 1.
Why?
- Additional Life helps to survive in later difficulties..
- Resistances help you stay alive easier. Lightning and Fire Resistances are your priorities!

Insight:
Where?
- You can find a 4 Socket Polearm while playing through Nightmare.
- Find the Runes from The Countess in Nightmare Act 1, The Forgotten Tower (Black Marsh).
Why?
- The Necromancer has an easy time keeping their Mercenary alive, and greatly benefits from the Mana Regeneration from meditation Aura.

Attributes

Strength
In the Necromancer Leveling Guide, we only allocate enough Stat Points to Strength to equip all of our gear.

Vitality
After you put your points into Strength and Dexterity, make sure to check if it is recommended to put Stat Points into Energy. Meet the suggested amount of Energy and put any remaining Stat Points into Vitality.

Dexterity
The Necromancer Leveling Guide requires no additional Dexterity.


Energy
In the Necromancer Leveling Guide, we highly recommend putting around 10 Stat Points into Energy until Level 12. When you respec don't put 20 Stat Points into Energy.

Breakpoints

For more information on the mechanics involved, check out our in-depth article on Breakpoints.

All builds rely on specific Breakpoints for effectiveness throughout the game. Meeting Breakpoints for Cast Rate, Hit Recovery, and Block Rate increases the rate of casting spells, recovering from big damage, and block by 1 Frame per Breakpoint.


Faster Cast Rate (FCR)
Faster Cast Rate controls how fast our Character casts spells. In this build, we aim for 75% Faster Cast Rate, which is achieved with the suggested gear. Note: Faster Cast Rate only controls the animation speed of the Character, and not any internal or global Cooldowns your spells have.

Cast Rate Breakpoint

Increased Attack Speed (IAS)
We do not target a specific Attack Speed Breakpoint. We do not rely on attacks to deal damage.

Faster Hit Recovery (FHR)
Faster Hit Recovery controls how fast our Character finishes the Hit Recovery animation. Stealth grants us 25% Faster Hit Recovery. With additional % Faster Hit Recovery on gear, like Belt, Boots or Charms, we can reach even higher Breakpoints.

Hit Recovery Breakpoint

Faster Block Rate (FBR)
We do not target a specific Block Rate Breakpoint. We do not rely on Chance to Block in this build.

Faster Run Walk (FRW)
There are no Breakpoints for Faster Run / Walk. With the recommended gear, you reach 45% Faster Run / Walk. Please refer to Run / Walk Mechanics for more details.

Mercenary

During the leveling process, the Mercenary rarely has any use. It is very hard to keep any of them alive. The Necromancer has an easier time than most keeping their Mercenary alive, so we recommend making use of one.

Insight can feel amazing while playing through the game. Your party loves you for having one!

To help survive various scenarios, remember you can drag Healing Potions onto the portrait, or shift + 1/2/3/4 to directly feed them a Healing Potion from your belt. The Mercenary also gains bonus Resistances from Thawing Potions and Antidote Potions, which is primarily useful in fights against Act bosses.

If your Mercenary dies in battle, you can revive them from any of the Mercenary NPC in any Act. This does come with an increasing cost, capping at 50,000 Gold. So keep that in mind and decide if the Mercenary is currently worth the cost.

Hardcore

All of our Leveling Guides are viable for Hardcore.
Changes to consider:

  • Over Level before you enter Nightmare / Hell. Suggested Target Levels are ~38-40 for Nightmare and 65+ for Hell.
  • Stay on Ancient's Pledge to keep your Resistances as high as possible. This coupled with Bone Armor gives you protection from every damage source except Magic Damage.
  • Make sure to have your Cold, Fire, and Lightning Resistances capped at 75% when you enter Nightmare and Hell. The easy way to check this is to enter the difficulty you want to play and open your Character screen.
    • We recommend farming Flayer Jungle or The Secret Cow Level in Nightmare for Charms. They make it easy to cap your Resistances.

Gear Options

With a shared stash now available and the fact that this might not be your first Character we want to give you some gear options that can improve your Leveling experience a lot!

  • Skin of the Vipermagi is the best Body Armor you can equip on any caster for Leveling.
  • Magefist gives you 20% Faster Cast Rate and +1 to Fire Skills which increases Corpse Explosion Skill Level.
  • A rare Amulet with +x to Necromancer Skills or +x to Poison and Bone Skills is very powerful. Unique options for the Amulet are The Eye of Etlich and later a Maras Kaleidoscope.
  • Hsarus' Iron Heel and Sander's Riprap are strong options for the Boots slot. Both provide you with Faster Run/Walk and are very common drops.
  • The Stone of Jordan provides you with +1 to All Skills, which scales our damage up significantly. It's a rather expensive option, but if you have one, put it on!
  • Splendor can be a really nice option if you can get high Resistances without the help of Ancient's Pledge.
  • Homunculus is a very powerful Necromancer Shield. With +2 to All Skills and Resistances this is an easy choice if available!

Farming Spots at Level 75+

The areas below are well suited for this build to farm efficiently. While this build can also farm other areas, we’ve selected these specific areas to make the most use of the build’s strengths. Please take special note of the danger level, clear speed, item types, and Immunities that define these areas.

Act 1:

AreaDangerRewardsImmunities
The Countess
(Forgotten Tower Level 5)
MediumRunes
Key of Terror
Fire, Cold
The PitMediumAll item types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Fire, Lightning, Cold
Andariel
(Catacombs Level 4)
LowUniques
Sets
Jewelry
The Secret Cow LevelMediumRunes
Runeword Bases
Charms / Gems / Jewels

Act 2:

AreaDangerRewardsImmunities
Arcane Sanctuary
(Specters/Super Chests)
MediumRunes
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Jewelry
Physical, Fire, Cold
Summoner
(Arcane Sanctuary)
LowKey of Hate

Act 3:

AreaDangerRewardsImmunities
TravincalHighGearing
Runes
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Gold
Fire, Lightning, Cold
Mephisto
(Durance of Hate Level 3)
MediumUniques
Sets

Act 4:

AreaDangerRewardsImmunities
Chaos SanctuaryHighAll item types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Fire, Lightning, Cold
Diablo
(Chaos Sanctuary)
MediumUniques
Sets
Leveling (Level 97-99)

Act 5:

AreaDangerRewardsImmunities
Eldritch the Rectifier
(Frigid Highland)
LowGearing
Gold
Leveling
Cold
Shenk the Overseer
(Bloody Foothills)
MediumGearing
Gold
Leveling
Cold
Pindleskin
(Nihlathak's Temple)
HighGearing
Gold
Leveling
Poison
Worldstone Keep / Throne of DestructionHighAll item types
Max Area Level
Leveling
Physical, Magic, Fire, Lightning, Cold, Poison
(Depends on monster spawns)
Baal / Waves
(Worldstone Chamber /
Throne of Destruction)
HighUniques
Sets
Max Area Level
Leveling
(Baal for Level 97-99)
Magic, Fire, Cold, Poison
(on Waves)

Gear Progression

Level 1-24

Early on, the main priority is a Wand with +2 or +3 to Teeth, which you can shop from Akara. Don't use any Shield unless you find a Necromancer Shield with +x to Teeth.
Pick up every Chipped Gem that you come across! A cube recipe allows you to generate a lot of Gold (3 Chipped Gems + Magic Wand in Horadric Cube) since Magic Wands tend to sell for max Gold. With any luck you’ll create a Wand with +x to Bone Spear. It is best to wait until Act 3 to use this recipe, as the selling cap goes up by 5,000 Gold per Act in Normal.
On Rings and Amulets, the main priority is +10% Faster Cast Rate. Other useful stats are Life, Resistances, Magic Find, and Mana.
During the early Levels, you need to keep an eye on your Stamina usage. Make sure to always have some Stamina Potions in your inventory. They give you infinite Stamina for 30 seconds. This duration stacks, so you can drink multiple Potions before heading out on long runs. You lose the duration on death or when using Save & Exit.
At Level 17 you want to equip your Stealth immediately.
Shop for your White Wand base from Drognan before Level 18. That way, you only need to check for Bone Wands with a red background. Make sure to only go for 0 or 2 Sockets with +2 to Bone Spear at a minimum! Replace your Teeth Wand with your White base.
A Helmet with Ral Runes helps to survive the primary damage type in Act 4 and stays useful until you get to Nightmare.
Use Ancient's Pledge until you find a good Rhyme base. Keep picking up Necromancer Shields for the chance of getting +x to Bone Spear.
Keep a Tome of Town Portal and Tome of Identify in your inventory for the full Leveling process.
Allocate your Stat Points to reach these Attribute values at Level 24:

Level 24-75 (Solo)

Shop for gear at the start of Nightmare Act 1. Shop for Garnet Heavy Gloves, Ocher Heavy Boots of Haste, and Russet Belt of the Colossus.
Start farming The Countess and equip yourself with White, Lore, and if you were lucky throughout Normal with a Rhyme. The Io Rune can take a while to get. Keep a Chipped Diamond from Normal to potentially upgrade 3 Hel Runes into an Io Rune.
Keep the Gnarled Staff of Teleportation in your secondary Weapon slot. You'll love this item when you are spamming Bone Prison in narrow areas.
Useful Rings and Amulets are not easy to come by. Especially since we are aiming for 75% Faster Cast Rate (FCR), which requires FCR on all 3 Jewelry pieces. Use anything that gives you Faster Cast Rate, Life, Resistances, Magic Find, or Mana.
Insight on your Mercenary greatly increases our Mana Regeneration. Equip him with a Helmet and a Body Armor with +xx% Resistances to give him the best chances of survival.


Allocate your Stat Points to reach these Attribute values at Level 75:
Note: Use more Strength (Less Vitality) if you find good replacements for the items you bought at the start of Nightmare! Don't go past 60 Strength!

Level 24-75 (Group)

In group play, you are usually very low on the priority list in terms of gear.
You can still gear up a lot in Act 1 Nightmare. Shop for Garnet Heavy Gloves, Ocher Heavy Boots of Haste, and Russet Belt of the Colossus.
Get yourself a Wand with 20% Faster Cast Rate if you don't get a White. Use Ancient's Pledge and put a Helmet on that provides you with some X Resist +x%.
Useful Rings and Amulets are not easy to come by. Use anything that give you Faster Cast Rate, Life, Resistances, Magic Find, or Mana.
You can be the player that uses an Insight on the Mercenary, as you have the easiest time keeping him alive. Another option could be to use Insight in a Gnarled Staff on your Necromancer. Then you don't have to worry about keeping your Mercenary alive. But you lose the Resistances from Ancient's Pledge while using it.

Allocate your Stat Points to reach these Attribute values at Level 75:


Video Guide

Comming soon.


Summary

  • Use Teeth and Strangling Gas Potions against large monster groups until Level 18.
  • After respecing use Bone Spear to kill off 1-2 monsters and then blow up their friends with Corpse Explosion.
  • Farm The Countess in Normal and Nightmare for the key Runewords. Be careful with the item bases you buy from the vendors. Runewords do NOT work in Magic Items!
  • Shop for a Bone Wand with +x to Bone Spear and 0 or 2 Sockets before Level 18.
  • Buy a Gnarled Staff of Teleportation before Level 24.
  • Magic Immunes monsters can be killed by Corpse Explosion as long as there are other monsters around to kill with Bone Spear. The corpses of the Skeleton Mages on Baal wave 2 can be used to kill the Unravelers.

Guide by Teo1904

We hope the Necromancer Leveling Guide helps you to get to your endgame build of choice. The combination of Bone Spear and Corpse Explosion can be very satisfying to play with!

Good luck!