Toxic Meltdown: An Aura of Decay Lich Guide. [Updates on hold, please read most recent edit/post!]


My name is Stormquake, and this is my Aura of Decay build-guide, updated as of Level 100 and Beta Build 0.7.7e. If you enjoy living in a constant state of stress and wondering if your body is going to dissolve at any moment, then this is the build for you! You also might enjoy this build if you’ve played builds like Righteous Fire in Path of Exile, as the way you would build and play is somewhat similar.

As a quick disclaimer: I would not recommend this build as a starter or SSF build as it is affix and gear dependent. Rather, it is better to play this build after you understand crafting in this game and how to go for the affixes you want and need. Additionally, I think AoD is in a bad spot as of 0.7.7e, and really needs to be looked at, as it currently does not do enough damage to justify its risk.

Anyway, here is the guide, broken into the following 5 sections. Please note that each drop down is rather large, which is why I compressed them in the first place!

Part 1. Gameplay Preview

Just to give you a basic idea of what this build is about, here is a video of me doing some early Arena waves with the toggle version of the build. There are some sound issues in the video, but I can’t seem to help that as those just happen in-game. I’ll be uploading a version of this with gameplay of arena 200+ later, but didn’t have the time to push that high while updating this guide and really wanted to still show off AoD’s new visuals as of patch 0.7.2!

Last Epoch: Low Wave Aura of Decay [Toggle Version] - YouTube

Part 2. Build Summary

To introduce you to the basic concepts of this skill, Aura of Decay is an ability that poisons enemies in its radius 3 times every second, while poisoning the user 1 time a second. Poison is interesting in that it deals increased damage when more stacks of it exist on the same target, so inflicting three stacks per second is significant. As you boost the damage you deal to enemies, you will also end up boosting that you take. Due to this, a core facet of this build involves stacking a large amount of Poison and Damage Over Time, while also getting enough Poison Resist and Health Regeneration to mitigate the increases to self-damage. There are two main ways that I enjoy playing this build, which will both be covered in this guide. The first way involves using a setup in which the Aura is kept up permanently. Then, the second way, which is shown in the build preview, involves much higher Aura damage, but forces the user to toggle the skill on and off to avoid death.

Despite that this build primarily uses a skill that steadily murders you, it has a surprising amount of survivability if built correctly. Alongside building for an immense amount of regen, which should exceed your self-drain by a decent amount, this build taps into the large, sustained area damage AoD provides combined with the global leech nodes deep in the Lich passive tree to constantly gain large amounts of health. Beyond this, this build tries to acquire a decent amount of poison protection as well as glancing blow chance. Lastly, you can keep moving almost constantly while running this skill, barely stopping to cast things, giving you survivability just from running around and being able to juke about.

Many of the support skills in this build are focused around boosting your aura damage in some way or another. Hungering Souls, Wandering Spirits, and Mark for Death are used for such purposes, as all of them have an effect that bolsters Poison damage and Damage Over Time. Currently, Transplant is used as the 5th skill, replacing Rip Blood, which I used in earlier betas. It allows us to have some extra mobility and huge damage mitigation thanks to its new skill tree. New skills/skill trees may still fight for this 5th slot in the future, but I’m really enjoying Transplant for the time being. Speaking of skills, the next section will cover them and the choices made in their skill trees!

Part 3. Active Skill Trees

Aura of Decay:

As you know by now, this skill is the main focus of this build. As such, many of the nodes we take in its skill tree are focused on bolstering the skill’s damage. Before talking about the two paths you can take, I should mention that this skill is somewhat brutal to level with, and I would recommend not investing into any nodes that boost the Aura’s self-damage before you’re sure you can handle it.

The first way of using this build focuses on keeping AoD up forever, and thus we do not take the Icarian Poison node, as its constantly increasing self-damage would eventually kill us. We do take most of the nodes that increase the poison application rate of the Aura, and one that increases the self-damage, albeit by a set amount, which is manageable. Additionally, we take the nodes that release concentrated bolts of poison while the Aura is up, the bolts applying 2 stacks of poison and shooting out every 0.75 seconds after taking all the related nodes. This is my current endgame setup as of this update. An image of this version of the tree can be seen below!

The second set-up of the skill tree is far riskier to run, but deals far higher damage. First off, we will no longer be taking the poison bolt nodes, instead opting to take Icarian Poison and the nodes beyond that significantly boost poison duration. Taking these nodes forces us to have to toggle the skill on and off to avoid a painful, agonizing death because of the steadily increasing self damage. Due to the constant toggling, we also take the nodes that bolster health regen on toggle and the one that emits a poison nova on toggle. Admittedly the health regen node doesn’t actually boost our net health regen too well, it just causes AoD to not murder us after toggling it off due to losing the skill’s 50% poison damage mitigation, and the nova then helps upkeep poison stacks to make up for AoD briefly being turned off. This version is far more dangerous to run as of beta 0.7.3 due to regen nerfs to the early Necromancer tree. This variant’s skill tree can be seen below!

Hungering Souls:

The purpose of this skill here is very straight-forward. We just take all the auto-trigger nodes and then the DoT boosting nodes, turning the skill into a damage booster that we don’t need to think about. This skill’s tree was changed a decent amount in 0.7.6, causing it to have less auto-trigger potential, but making it more point efficient over all. You’ll notice it’s only level 18 in this preview, as you really only need those 18 points. Feel free to put the final two wherever you like, as the cull, extra poison chance, and extra projectiles are all nice in their own way. I will say, this skill is decent for leveling, so it should be the first skill you specialize into and you shouldn’t build into auto-casting right away, instead opting for extra projectiles and damage. You can then respec into the setup shown below after learning Aura of Decay.

Mark for Death:

As with pretty much any build where this skill is used, its purpose is to heavily boost the damage your enemies receive. First off, we take the nodes that boost damage taken. I used to take the poison protection lowering node, but it’s negligible lategame. The AoE, fear, and slow nodes are also taken because why not, and the points I used to put into removing poison protection now go toward extending secondary effects. I honestly don’t use this skill too much, usually reserving it for rares, bosses, and dangerous packs as most regular enemies will just melt.

Wandering Spirits:

This skill is a rather impressive secondary damage source when used with this build. We set up the spirits with a focus on them poisoning nearby enemies. Beyond this, we also grab the nodes that keep the spirits out longer and allow us to summon them more frequently. This leads to an immense amount of spirits being out on the field at the same time, shooting poison projectiles to deal damage and further boost our Aura’s damage due to poison’s self bolstering properties. As of 0.7.6, this skill counts as a spell. That said, I am fairly certain this only affects the pass through damage, although it makes Staves a weapon type to focus on just for that potential boost to total DPS.


This is our fifth skill for now. Transplant has an amazing skill tree which provides offense, defense, and mobility for our build. First off, max out the Bone Armor nodes that increase its effect and make it last longer. Bone Armor provides around 15% damage reduction to all damage and a fair chunk of armor. The effect is essentially a second Oracle Amulet. As of 0.7.6, I’ve switched away from the minion nodes, as Wandering Spirits no longer scale off of minion damage, instead opting for nodes that make the skill more health efficient to use. The fear nodes also provide decent protection provided you want to jump into a group of enemies and not instantly explode.

No Reaper Form??:

I know that some AoD builds enjoy this skill, but I find it isn’t a playstyle that I enjoy. Some may say Reaper Form adds a second life bar, but I feel it does not effectively do this with AoD. Essentially, you want to focus on leech with Reaper Form, and building regen is a waste as it does not apply in this transformation. This means that using AoD while in human form is a huge risk that will often just get you killed. It’s also difficult to even stay in Reaper Form without constant potion use and toggling, and even then you need to rely on enemy density for permanent upkeep. Essentially, I find the regen version far more enjoyable, safe, and relaxing to play, despite that Reaper Form does technically add more damage potential. Also, leech was effectively nerfed with the changes to monster damage resistance and health in 0.7.6.

Part 4. Passive Trees

Acolyte Passives:

Right now I take the generic damage node, Blood Aura, for the first few levels just for starting damage. After investing 7 points, grab all 8 points of Stolen Vitality in the next passive tier. We don’t really need the minion health, but the poison protection from vitality is great, as is the extra buffer against void and necrotic damage. Lastly, we grab more poison protection through Putrid Demise, which also comes with a sometimes useful poisoning feature. From here, we hit 20 points and move on to Lich, and do not return to this skill tree for quite a while. That return will be explained in the following section.

Also note that, after your return, you will end up with 31 points in this tree. The display is bugged to always show 20 no matter the investment. Once again, we’ll discuss that return in a bit.

Lich Passives:

This is the tree we specialize into and the second one we’ll be focusing on. First off, max Crippling Insight. This may seem like an odd choice given that it lowers our health regen, but the damage boost it provides via Int to all of our abilities is worth it. Next, we grab Wraith Bringer because wooo, more poison summons! Next off, there’s a pretty long chain of useful nodes that aaaalmost get us to our global leech node, Soul Maw. These include Desolation, Lasting Stench, Bed of Souls, Three Plagues [only 1 point], and Contagion Engine. After this investment, take points in Volatile Blood until you reach Soul Maw.

At this point, we enter a passive build that I did not run prior to 0.7.4. This is NEW TERRITORY. Essentially, we’re going to take advantage of the massive regen we should be building to take a large amount of health draining nodes. First off, return to Acolyte’s base tree, grab the last point in Blood Aura and proceed to max Crimson Gluttony and Blood Pact. We are now finished with Acolyte’s tree, so let’s return to Lich. The first thing to do when we return here is to finish filling up Volatile Blood. Now we have 75% mitigation against current health drains, so we can safely grab Unclosing Wounds, which provides a large amount of damage. By now, you should be level 80 or so, and every point until 100 should be spent in Mind Over Body and Corrosive Consciousness.

Please note that this new emphasis on health drain is why I favor the perma-AoD setup over the gradually scaling self-murder setup I used on patches prior. You can still use the more dangerous version, but just be sure to toggle it constantly unless you have 400 health regen or so! [300 regen is the endgame goal for the version I use]

Necromancer Passives:

As of the current patch, we do not invest into Necromancer any more. It is simply not worth the investment to only get 80% regen from a 2nd tier, 8 point passive. You will still be able to hit 300 regen a second with good gear even without this.

Part 5: Crafting and Affixes

I used to start this section with an album of my gear, but it is horribly outdated now that glancing blows has been updated. As such, I will just use this section to describe what gear types and affixes you should aim for. The following is a list of such:

  • Weapon: A new unique was added this patch called the Plaguebearer’s Staff. This staff provides a large amount of poison chance [which affects both your AoD and Wandering Spirit’s poison “darts”]. It also gives you a slight boost to damage through guaranteed Plague, and its downside of health drain is mitigated by our passive tree. Later on, this poison chance can be contested by raw damage and utility from a self-crafted staff or sceptre. For bases if you want to craft, use Composite Staff, Oracle Staff, or Divine Sceptre. For mods, you will always want poison damage, damage over time, chance to poison, and poison protection. Generally speaking, I would say stick with Plaguebearer’s unless you get an amazing staff or sceptre, as those will give AoD itself more damage and give you more poison resistance, while taking away from your Wandering Spirits’ damage potential.

  • Off-Hand: None or Bloodrust Aegis; Shields aren’t as good for AoD anymore as of 0.7.6. You’ll either be using a Staff or Sceptre/Cata setup. Personally I view Staff as the end-all be-all at the moment, but Sceptre/Cata is still viable. Bloodrust Aegis helps mitigate AoD’s self damage with its ward gain per second, so make sure to only use one if it has a good implicit in this regard. For mods, you’ll want poison damage, damage over time, poison protection, and then whatever else you want for a suffix.

  • Chestpiece: Solarum Plate or Copper Plate; The most important affix for these is the flat health regen prefix. This needs to be at LEAST T4, and you should aim for T5. All of your percentage increases to regen scale off of these flat bonuses. As for your second prefix, you can choose between vit or int, depending on if you want damage or defense. For suffixes, you want increased health regen and increased health.

  • Helmet: Lupine Helmet or Gladiator Helmet; Honestly the raw armor from Gladiator is probably better than the regen from Lupine, but anyway… Once again, flat health regen is the most important here. Get T5 if you can and pray that you get +10 flat instead of +9. Next off, aim for set glancing blows or int again, and then choose your pick of increased or flat health alongside poison protection or increased regen.

  • Gloves: Engraved Gauntlets or Lagonian Gauntlets; For the third time, flat regen is the most important stat. Don’t worry, we can’t even craft it again after this. So, get that regen to T5, take damage over time as a second prefix and then take your pick for the defensive suffixes you want.

  • Boots: Heoborean Boots or Solarum Greaves; Our prefixes aren’t in huge contention for this slot, so just go set glancing blows and int. I personally chose % health regen and movement speed as my suffixes, but health and poison resist are also viable options.

  • Belt: Bronze Belt or Plated Belt; For your belt, I would recommend set glancing blows, increased DoT, health regen, and critical strike avoidance.

  • Rings: Ruby Ring or Silver Ring; Ruby is nice for more health, while Silver lets us zoom around more. That said, picking mods for rings is incredibly hard as you have access to poison damage, DoT damage, health regen, health, and poison protection. Adjust your rings to fit what you feel like you currently need. You should have 100% glancing blows without rings, but feel free to craft set glancing blows if you need it. As of the current patch, I would HIGHLY recommend giving up a suffix slot on both rings for critical strike avoidance. With good rolls on both rings and your built, you will hit 100%.

  • Amulet: ORACLE AMULET; I put this in all caps because this Amulet is insane for this build. Sadly you can’t even get it until level 76 and above, but it makes you take less damage over time, which greatly helps to mitigate the self damage from Aura of Decay. As with rings, the mods are hard to decide here. Increased poison protection is a mandatory prefix, and then I would recommend throwing on damage over time for the seconde prefix, and then flat poison protection and increased health regen for suffixes.

  • Relic: Stained Tome???; Honestly I don’t know what to use for a Relic. The vitality on Stained Tome is nice, but you’ll need one with a very low reduced health regen node. Once again, it’s hard to pick what to craft on this, so just adapt it to fit your needs.

  • Idols: Idols are a new type of gear added in 0.7.6, and they offer a bunch of interesting mods for Aura of Decay! One of the best mods that I’ve seen is one that provides poison protection while AoD is active. Some other great mods to look for are increased AoD area, less damage taken over time, and health.

That’s it for my build for now! I might take a little break from it, but will try to update it in the future should my gear improve or setups change!

Feel free to ask any questions you may have, or point out some ways you could think of to change the build for the better! Hopefully you’ll all enjoy this guide and, afterwards, Aura of Decay itself!

MOST RECENT EDIT: 0.7.8e Update. So… I’m torn on what I want to do. I personally need to put the build on hold again as I require such different gear now, and it’s proving difficult to farm for with my limited schedule and interest in other builds. Despite this, would you guys like me to update the build guide with an experimental section where I list what I planned to do? People who really want to try the build could try that out, although I’m still unsure how viable AoD is in the current game climate for the risk and effort the skill takes to play.


Dope layout. This could be the default for build guides. Aura of Decay is strong as hell once you balance the quirks of it out (self-decay, increased dmg%, supporting stuff)
Good guide for a strong skill!

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Thank you! AoD is definitely fun, albeit sometimes punishing to build when it comes to juggling affixes.

Also, the layout was inspired by one of the top Sentinel builds, “Boy Meets Whirl”! I just ended up compressing more things so people wouldn’t come in and get overwhelmed!

EDIT Aug 3rd: Hey all! I’m planning to do an update to the info in this build when the next patch hits. Up until I update the official post, I’ll give a quick rundown here of what the update will include.

  • A skill to replace Rip Blood maybe? We’ll see what skill trees comes next patch
  • The COMPLETE skill point build as I will be level 100 very soon
  • Updates to the gear section to reflect my current stuff

For now, I am just doing a little edit to the main post to show that I hit top 20 in endless arena! Woo!

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Thanks for your very comprehensive guide! It’s been a blast to play (and I’m only level 58).
Looking forward to the updates to the guide after the patch hits.

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Hugering Sould build: why 3 points into Soul Swarm over Causting Wretches?

Good question!

Honestly, I just found the damage increase from Caustic Wretches to be pretty negligible, so while it is technically better, it really doesn’t matter what you put the last 3 points into. So long as Hungering Souls is auto-casting and giving us the DoT buff, we’re all good.

Personally I just thought it was funnier to see a lot of skulls flying out of me, so I put the points into Soul Swarm, but you can put the last 3 points wherever you like!

Thanks for this guide. Giving this a go now, only difference is for levelling I’m using Harvest and its poison nodes since it’s a despecialise anyway when you get AoD.

I’m glad you like the guide, and hope you enjoy the skill itself, too!

Also, I’ve finished updating this guide with changes from patch 0.7.2. Enjoy, all!

Great layout! I’ll give your build a go.

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Hey all!

I’ve been insanely busy lately, but I will try to get my update for 0.7.3 out in the next few days! From what I can tell, the main changes will be in the Necromancer passive tree. I’m also going to look through Soul Feast’s skill tree and see if anything there could benefit the build. Thanks in advance for your patience!

ok, ty Stormquake

Hello all! Sadly I had no time to update this during 0.7.3 due to life demands, but I promise to get an update out by this Wednesday for 0.7.4!

Can I specialize in another tree?

What do you mean by this? This guide is mostly just a basic framework, so if you want to experiment with other things, feel free to!

EDIT: Updated build guide is here!


The main post! It was updated to be relevant for changes that occurred in 0.7.4

thank you!

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0.7.5c update: No changes needed as far as I can tell. The release of catalysts causes some temptations as ward gen per second could mitigate DoT damage taken, but I will need to do some regearing to pursue any ideas related to this. I may wait until more sweeping changes occur, so for now the build is remaining the same.

MAybe im dumb or just a newb. But how can u have 31 passive points in Acolyte and it only shows 20 ?

Visual glitch! Base trees only show 20 for some reason, no matter the investment