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The Reaper - Melee Acolyte Build Guide (WIP) Beta 0.7.0c

Disclaimer: So I’ve seen a lot of people asking about melee Acolyte builds. I’m not an experienced build maker in terms of min-maxing but a melee Acolyte was my first go-to with the game, and the build I’ve made seems to have no issues at all. I am still very much testing things out and leveling multiple Acolytes, so the build is not yet “complete”. I will update this guide as often as I can, and eventually I hope to have a couple of variations of skill set ups for people.

Also right now Reaper Form can give a 30% damage debuff. As far as we know this is a bug (not received confirmation from any devs, but it doesn’t affect everyone) so take that as you will. The debuff sometimes persists so if you use it at all, for the rest of your game or run you may still be affected if you get the bug like me. I have been able to confirm that it only happens per-character. My new character does not get this debuff.

So this build is a non-pet melee acolyte guide. There are other variations you could use if you wanted. It is not hard to weave different skills or passives into this build should you wish to have a pet or two.

High survivability.
Can do all content without breaking much of a sweat
With the right gear, damage is good enough to clear content at a good pace.

Gear dependant with damage.
Reaper Form nerfs your damage (possible bug, will update but with this build you can keep reaper form up for a VERY long time. So use with caution).
Leveling can be painful until you get decent ward gen/life leech.
Two skills missing passive trees (will update with content releases).

Change Log

05/05/19 - Updated lich passive tree. Specced out of Survival of the Cruel to Clairvoyant Insight, Wraith Bringer and Necrotic Energy.
06/05/19 - Started adding in a leveling guide. Will be updated as I level my fresh Acolyte. Also updated the layout of the guide to make it less of a wall of text. It hopefully will be easier for people to read and only see the information they want to.

Video Clips

Quick Monolith run and showing the reaper form damage debuff:

When I have the time (and get a key) I will do an arena clip. I do not enjoy arena though so showing off how high it can push is not the top of my agenda. If they ever add in check points, then I’d be more persuaded to do so.

I will also consider doing a video guide when the skill trees are all released, and I also have the time to do so.

Class Passives (Current Level 62 - Out of date. Follow the leveling guide section for something a bit more up to date while I re-level.)


There’s a decent amount of leeway among the passives. You can spec more offensive or more defensively. Currently respeccing is not easily doable, so I can’t give you several examples. This current build is a good middle ground for where I am. As I level more, the passive points taken will be damage based. The survivability of this build is plenty enough and with reaper form you have a cheat death built into the build.

The Skills (Will give multiple examples of builds eventually, when respeccing is easier, or I find time to level multiple Acolytes)

You can swap out Reaper form and Aura of Decay for other skills if you wanted. Transplant is nice for getting from pack to pack faster. Soul Feast/Defile can be used if you feel you aren’t building enough ward passively when leveling. Defile is clunky to use right now so I would swap it for Soul Feast asap. Bone Golem or Skeletons can also be slipped in here if you want a more pet build. Bone Golem can be nice when leveling as it can tank for you, and the Blood Golem passive can give you some more healing if needed.

Harvest passives

If you wanted to, you can get even more ward gen from Harvest by maxing out Mind Harvest and Mirror Soul on the left hand side. This will lose you damage, but can be a good idea when leveling.

Mark for Death passives

Mark for death has some leeway in how you spec it. Lingering Curse (bottom) and Long Gaze (Left) you can put points in as you see fit. I found only 1 point for the increased AoE was enough for a single cast to tag all mobs in my melee range. If you don’t do any poison damage by not using Aura of Decay or the poison nodes on Wandering Spirits, then you can
swap out points in Weak Constitution (Right). The fear and chill on the left hand side are not use to our build, as we are melee and want enemies to stay near us. Bone Prison (Bottom Right) could be used if you wanted to, but I wouldn’t spec too much into it. Just the 1 point to trigger it would be fine. I have not found any need for this though, as most mobs do not run away from you (just those annoying birds! Grrrr.)

Wandering Spirits passives

Wandering Spirits we mainly use for the passive ward generation. Any damage they do is a bonus. In big packs they can do a fair amount, but against a solo boss not so much. The aim is to get as many to spawn as possible, as quick as possible, and die as fast as possible. This way we have a more continued stream of ward generation. There isn’t too much you can spec differently with this skill for how we use it. If you wanted you could convert all of their damage to poison with Infectious Dead (Bottom), But as i mainly go for necrotic damage for this build, I saw the point better used elsewhere. We put a point into Spectral Putrescence (Right) and Soul of Filth just so our spirits who spawn too far out, still do some damage to enemies.


Not much to say about gear right now. You want a melee weapon, the faster the better (so I go with swords). 1H and Shield is tankier, but you can also use a 2h if you’re able to keep yourself up fine with your ward and life leech. It might be worth trying to craft for both situations and keeping it your stash to swap into during the arena if needed at higher waves.

I don’t currently have any unique items for acolyte so I can’t talk about them, and how good or bad they are for the build. I will update this section as I get items and can test them out.

Stats (not yet ordered)

Necrotic Damage
Crit Chance
Crit Multiplier
Attack Speed
Melee Damage Leeched as Life

(Still to test scaling:)
Dex (Dex does scale harvest, but as to if it’s worth it I haven’t been able to test yet. Dex you can only get via gear as an Acolyte.)

Int gives us more flat necrotic damage on harvest and also ward retention. The more Int you have the less ward retension you need to spec into on the passive tree.

Crit gives us ward because of the Darkguard passive in the Lich tree. It plays nicely with the increased crit chance in the Harvest tree.

Crit multiplier because if we’re critting anyway, might as well make them BIG.

Attack speed because the more attacks we get in, the more ward and life leech we generate.

Necrotic Damage because that’s what we do. If you decide to respec mostly for poison, then go for poison damage.

Melee Damage Leeched as Life because… well we want out damage to life leech. This helps keeps Reaper Form going and also keeps us alive against single target bosses, where ward generation is a lot lower.

These are the stats that will be useful to you. You will want a certain level of defencive ones, but how much depends on what you feel comfortable with, and what passives you have taken. I try and craft some Vit and Ele protection on gear where I can’t put any of the above damage stats. With the huge amounts of ward we can generate and our cheat death, we can get away with slightly less protection that other builds. Do not go full glass canon though. When Reaper Form drops (and it will occasionally), you will need to be able to survive without it. We have enough life leech and ward gen for this but if you completely ignore your protections the hits you may receive may be too much, especially if it’s a ranged mob that hits you, so you’re not leeching life.

Leveling Guide

I am currently leveling another acolyte now. I will update this section as I go, so it won’t be complete until I have leveled all the way. The reason for this is so I can get a good feel for what it’s like to level with this particular passive setup before i recommend it. The passive choices I take are not the do all and end all. As mentioned at the start, there’s a lot of leeway with this build.

Gear with Int on it and necrotic damage. Once you take Spectral Whetstone and Learned Weakness on Harvest start looking for more crit chance and crit damage. I personally use a 2h when leveling if I can to get through the campaign. If you feel too squish, use a 1h and shield.

Order of class passives:
Forbidden Knowledge 8/8
Blood Aura 8/8
Mania of Mortality 4/10

Crippling Insight 8/8
Wraith Bringer 1/5 (Just to unlock Reaper later. You can take this at any point.)
Grasp of Fate 5/5
Dance with Death 1/8
Reaper 5/5
Mental Cacophony 5/5
Deathbringer 5/5
Darkguard 3/3
Clairvoyant Insight 5/5
Ageless Ascetic 8/8

I will be updating this guide as I level and as patches come out. if you have any questions feel free to ask away here, or poke me on discord (I’m Jani in the acolyte chat). When there are more skill trees and possibly an easier way to respec passives, I will try and do a more indepth guide giving variations of the build. At some point I might try and make a video guide too, but this won’t be until at least all the skill trees are available.

This is my first ever build guide so I hope this is useful.


Always provide video gameplay of your build please.
We want to know how viable it is with our own eyes.

1 Like

Hey there, first of all thanks for your work.

I play the same build just a bit different in terms of passives and also my harvest tree is a bit different. i did go for “Skull Shards” on the right side. makes quite high crits and with lots of attack speed you reach these 6 stacks pretty fast. i also run a 2h weapon so my crits are around 15k with the 7th hit(some times u almost delete a boss wich is quite fun).

im level 78, my stats atm:
-Crit Chance: 75%
-Crit Multi: 344%
-Attack Speed: 60% (was much higher, over 90% but i did manage to craft a crit multi weapon, not sure if thats worth it btw)
-Melee Damage: 240%
-Basic Attack DPS: 1984

-Health: 680 (wich is way too low if u ask me)
-Resistance: all around 30-40% (lowest is necrotic with 30% and highest is lightning with 46%, the rest is somewhere in between)
-Leech: Insane ofc

I almost never die. resistance could be higher as well as my health. all depends on lucky crafts and finding the right base types to even start those crafts. but both health and res are not a problem at all. the biggest problem i have is; getting stunned to death… im really curious, how do u deal with stuns if u do at all?!

i will probably try out Strong Mind (legendary amulet) and check out how it feels with the stun avoidence. losing a quarter of my dmg tho. another option would be to craft stun avoidence… but here again. i will lose a lot of dmg. so im not really sure how im gonna do this.
i just wanted to throw in my stuff for information gathering. i really love the reaper style and im pretty hyped for future fixes/changes.

thanks again!

Nice to see another variation :slight_smile: I started with a 2h, but when i got too squishy I swapped to a 1h and shield. I would like to go back to 2h but I need some better gear items first, before I drop my shield. I have no uniques or such unfortunately for acolyte so I can’t comment on if there’s any that would give enough survivability to no longer need a shield. If you go heavy ward gen you probably could, but how much that could affect your damage I can’t say.

As for dealing with stuns… I just kinda soak them lol. With reaper form up you wont be killed, it’ll just put you back to max health. With the speed of a 1h with good attack speed you can heal back up, and build ward back up quickly after a stun. Plus as i have a shield I can block hits etc which also just gives me more chances to regain ward and health. The survivability difference I was getting between a 2h and a shield (back pre-level 45 when I was testing stuff out a bit) was huge. I just stopped dying as long as I wasn’t stupid (like not attacking and standing in any of those one shot abilities/attacks)

There’s a lot of testing I would like to do but sadly I don’t have enough gold to do a full respec (and I would need to do multiple to really test stuff). The gear dependency is another biggie where I sadly have been lacking. Not just in crafted gear but I have not yet received any uniques or such that would be of use to me. I could probably make a decent primalist though with what I do have! Haha! Hopefully they will change the respec system a bit to make experimenting possible.

@Addmiral Here is a link of a quick Monolith run with a “enemies have 15% increased movement speed and damage” modifier. At the start I show how reaper form is nerfing my damage, just to make it clear that it is a thing so the damage I do is not something to go off of. I still use it for the sake of showing the build. I also let myself get hit by pretty much everything so hopefully you can get an idea of the survivability of the build, and how it works.

(When youtube is finished processing you should have the correct quality of the video. It’s just being slow.)

When I get an arena key and have the time to commit to an arena run I’ll do a video of that. Pushing arena waves though is not top of my list as I personally don’t enjoy Arena at all, and I don’t have the time to commit to re-doing all of those waves without some way to go back to a checkpoint.

1 Like

Thanks for video man.

Np. I hope this gives you a good enough idea of how the build plays. There’s a lot of leeway to change stuff so if you want more damage, or more tankiness, it’s very easy to put that in.

If it’s pushing arena you want then I would be wary with using reaper form right now. It’s a great cheat death, and if you wanted you can pop it just before you die, in an attempt to not get the damage debuff up for long. Sadly however for me that debuff can stick and the only way to get rid of it is to restart so… And even then sometimes it doesn’t go away. If you have better gear than I do though, you could probably outweigh that damage loss enough to be killing stuff at a good pace, and being able to keep reaper form available for the cheat death.

nice build, i want to try making a poison variation but need confirmation on something
does the self poison from the aura scale with your poison damage?

I believe it does, the duration scales as well.

welp there goes my build idea lol
maybe its specialization will have something to let you scale the skill properly

@Merixa You should definitely give INT stacking a try.

@napevation am already using int as my main scaling. When I have more gold for a full respec/have the gear/ level another acolyte I will be trying a high int character for sure :slight_smile:

@doyzord You can still do a poison variant if you want, you will just need a lot of poison protection (and probably ward too). Don’t forget the aura itself gives you 60% reduction. Don’t let your build idea die! Just try it and see!

thanks for the video.

im sorry in advance cause thats probably gonna be a big post here

  1. the survivability of yours is great i like it. i will test some sword and board stuff as soon as i get a good 1h weapon, wich will take a while (only t5 rolls baby! haha.)

  2. i dont really understand why your reaper form is lowering your dmg. because here is the weird part. i just tested it in game myself. no change at all for me.

  3. some items and stats with my new 2h weapon (the weapon is kinda max tier in terms of attack speed and crit chance)

unique set. definitly some potential. in survivability and damage.

-75 armor
-10% glancing blow chance
-180 stun avoidance
-+40 health

-56 armor and 3 potion slots
-200 armor
-50% inc health regen

great set in imo but im not sure if the 2set works properly i have kinda the feeling that it doesnt. got the same 80% necrotic dmg increase on my unique helmet and i dont get the same tooltipp increase when im getting hit while wearing the set. not sure at all, maybe it just doesnt show correctly in the tooltipp. hard to tell from dmg numbers them self cause they are like all over the place from 1k up to 13k…

speaking of that unique helmet. absolutely great helmet imo.

there are some other unique items i found so far but i feel the post already is big enough so i just write down the stats.

unique body armor: Yruns Wisdom

  • +85 armor
  • +100 armor
  • +30 melee cold damage when above 65% health
  • 30% of melee damage leeched as health when below 65% health
    looks like a okay body armor to me

last one. two handed pole arm: Draalsting

  • base attack rate 0.97
  • +35 melee physical damage
  • 3% increased movement speed
  • 12% less melee attack speed
  • 175% increased poison damage
  • 120% chance to poison on melee hit
    i really like this one, sadly in terms of flat dmg all the unique weapons suck in comparison to a good rare weapon. but 175% inc poison dmg sound good to me considering that should scale the aura of decay.

thats are all the items i found that are usable for reaper/lich. maybe there are a few more but they werent really worth talking about and are definitly not lich type uniques(kinda like the body armor i wrote down). i hope there are still a lot more to discover tho :slight_smile:

btw: Napevation is doing a lot more dmg with his int stacking method. and seems to have more survivability as well. at least in terms of health. would be interresting to see hes gear.

1 Like

Hm, you don’t get any damage debuff from reaper form at all? That is odd. Could you by chance do a small clip of you pre-form, then with the form etc.? That way I can give it as evidence to the dev for a bug report.

Yes Isadora’s set is awesome and is working for me.
As for my gear it’s all crafted except helmet and belt (Isadora’s set)

Jade Amulet
Increased Crit Chance % - Necrotic damage % - 2 Protections

Silver Rings
Increased Crit Chance % - Necrotic damage % - 1 Protection - Added Health

Ranseur (Polearm) with 9% base crit (still looking for a 10% base crit)
Necrotic damage % - Melee crit chance - Melee leech - Health on Hit (or protection?)

Copper Plate
Intelligence - Hybrid Health regen + Ele Protection - Added Health - Increased Health

Lagonian Gauntlets
Intelligence - Melee attack speed - 1 Protection - Increased Health

Solarum Greaves
Intelligence - Hybrid Glancing Blow + Armour - Movement speed - 1 Protection

Radient Crest
Necrotic Damage % - Crit Chance % - Added Health - 1 Protection

I tried to Balance the 6 Protections types on all the gear pieces.

EDIT: I couldn’t provide pictures because I’m not at home anymore, so I just grabbed the list from a spreadsheet I made last week to help me craft everything.

@Merixa, looks like i even get a dmg boost.

@napevation, good to know it works. thanks for the list of gear.

Thanks for the clip. I guess the game just hates me :smiley:

The first passive in Lich tree (I think on the right) triples the damage bonus when you’re low health.

Aura of Decay is nasty as it poisons you multiples times as well as mobs. So you don’t want to much +damage if you using it well unless you got a lot of regen or ward generation to cancel it out.