Welcome to the Complete Build & Leveling Guide for the SIR CRUNCHYBONES Skelemancer Cabalist. This build is great for new players, one of the best starter builds, destroys all campaign content, is hardcore viable, and can easily farm Ultimate with self-found gear. If you’re looking for a solid fun pet build that is strong from the start and scales very well, this is the place!
The GrimTools link is available at the bottom of the guide.
Quick Comment from K. Ross regarding the new Veteran Mode: I am really enjoying your guides, and I have found them very useful as a new player. I do, however, have one tiny suggestion. On Hardcore Veteran, because I haven’t unlocked Elite or Ultimate, yet, the Skeletons were getting wrecked in The Putrid Den. I found that a single point in Bone Harvest after the initial 6 in Skeletons solved that problem quite nicely.
I’ve wanted to do a Pet Guide for awhile now, but all of the pet builds I tried were either too slow and boring (many of which recommend leveling with some method other than pets) or too squishy (typical skelemancer where your pets die faster than you can cast them). Finally, I found what I was looking for. A Skelemancer build with great DPS, defense, survival and scaling. I took this build to 100 with no deaths, pretty much facerolled all story content (including Ultimate) faster than most other builds I’ve done, and I didn’t even have BiS gear (I was running off of self-found). This build is fantastic.
There are many options for pet builds, and with the release of Forgotten Gods, pet specialists have been pushing the limits with super bosses, crucible and shattered realm. The problem is nearly all of these builds are focused solely on complete legendary best in-slot (BiS) gear the majority of players simply do not have. This build is designed to be new player friendly and scales great with self-found gear. It’s also VERY easy to play, which is refreshing since my fingers are still aching from the Pierce Infiltrator.
What makes this build solid is the combination of defensive Devotions paired with the Skill Point Distribution during leveling, all producing a seamless and quick trip to level 100 and Ultimate farming.
This build is great for Hardcore!
A user named Michl Moriarty (who is a member of the Grim Dawn Facebook community) shared this build with the group. This provided the inspiration for me to create this guide and take this character to end-game. Thanks, Michl!
Before we begin, I recommend these mods to anyone playing Grim Dawn, especially new players. Note none of these mods cheat or change the core of the game – they just add quality of life:
Augments are the most important thing for end-game and require honored or revered reputation with a faction to access them. Rule of thumb: as soon as you hit Honored with any faction (which will begin to happen in Elite mode), immediately buy the Writ (for 88,000 iron) that doubles your faction gain. This will help you get to Revered much quicker, and give you access to the necessary augments to help your resists in Ultimate.
Augments List The factions a player gets Honored and Revered with first are generally: Devil’s Crossing, Rovers, Homestead, Black Legion, Order/Kymon, and Coven of Ugdenbog. I’m listing some of the most popular defensive Augments below for reference, which can greatly help in surviving both Elite and especially Ultimate.
40: Arkovian Rose Powder | 10% Elemental Res | Rings/Amulet | Rovers Honored
40: Necrotic Flesh | 15% Bleeding Res | Rings/Amulet | Order Honored
40: Chillheart Powder | 15% Cold & Vitality Res | Rings/Amulet | Order Honored
70: Venomguard Powder | 15% Poison & Acid Res | All Armor | Rovers Revered
70: Nightshade Powder | 7% Pierce & 10% Cold Res | All Armor | Rovers Revered
70: Bladeward Powder | 10% Pierce Res | All Armor | Devil’s Revered
70: Mogdrogan’s Touch | 10% Poison & Acid Res, 7% Vitality Res | All Armor | Devil’s Revered
70: Kymon’s Blessing | 15% Fire Res | All Armor | Kymon’s Revered
70: Kymon’s Conduit | 15% Lightning Res | All Armor | Kymon’s Revered
70: Demonbane Powder | 7% Vitality & Chaos Res | All Armor | Kymon’s Revered
70: Mankind’s Vigil | 7% Aether Res, 7% Chaos Res | All Armor | Black Legion Revered
70: Kingsguard Powder | 7% Pierce Res, 10% Poison/Acid Res | All Armor | Black Legion Revered
70: Flameweave Powder | 7% Pierce Res, 10% Fire Res | All Armor | Homestead Revered
70: Solarstorm Powder | 10% Fire Res, 10% Lightning Res | All Armor | Homestead Revered
70: Wraithtouch Powder | 15% Cold Res | All Armor | Order Revered
70: Spiritguard Powder | 10% Vitality Res | All Armor | Order Revered
70: Spellward Powder | 10% Lightning Res, 7% Aether Res | All Armor | Order Revered
90: Coven Warding Powder | 7% Elemental Res | All Armor | Coven Revered
90: Coven Black Ash | 8% Pierce and Chaos Res | All Armor | Coven Revered
Transmutation This is a new and critically important feature introduced with Forgotten Gods that allows the player to convert set items to another item of the same set. And it works with BLUE (non-legendary) set items! The quest to unlock Transmute is given by Kargon in the Conclave of the Three. The quest unlocks after you’ve progressed to the Oasis area. The Tome is found on Canen’s Corpse. It costs 120,000 iron per transmute, and uses 1 Eldrich Essence (which is quite rare, so make each transmute count!). Luckily, a player put together a guide on Farming Eldrich Essence. Remember, if you can craft the helmet of a set, you can transmute those helmets to other pieces. This means you can craft an entire set just from the helmet recipe!
Another technique is to convert a set item to another random set item. This costs 30,000 iron, scrap and crystals (which is a lot cheaper than converting to the same set). A good example of this technique is if you want the Mythical version of a set item (but you have none, and don’t have the recipe to craft the helm), you can take another mythical set item and convert it to a random set item with the possibility of getting a mythical of the set you’re looking for!
I believe this is not only one of the fastest leveling builds in the game, it’s also one of the safest. Your pets (namely Skeletons) murder everything as you run through the content and pick up the juicy loot. Once the regeneration from Blood of Dreeg and the Devotions is established, you rarely have to recast your pets except during tough boss fights. As with most pet builds, ground-based AoE damage is the most dangerous and can quickly kill all of your little buddies, which is why resists are very important. The ground-based Aether damage from AoM can be quite challenging, but once you get the pet Aether resistances up, they do very well. It’s also important to remember when you summon skeletons, it’s random if you get an archer, warrior or mage. Many players will recast skeletons to get a balanced collection of all three while others prefer pure warriors or archers; but this can be difficult to achieve with the RNG-nature of the build.
For clarification, this build is GREAT for hardcore. If I were to start from scratch and wanted to pursue the level 100 Hardcore achievement, out of all the build guides I’ve done so far, I’d use this one.
The General Play Technique is to get all of your buffs up, cast your single pets, and then your army of skeletons. Once that’s done, ensure Blood of Dreeg (BoD) is always up, and just run through the content while casting Curse of Frailty (CoF) on the groups of mobs and stand back laughing as your little buddies murder everything. You can also activate Call of the Grave to give your pets a nice damage bonus. Always keep an eye on the count of your skeletons, and when you start to lose them, simply recast. Binding the right mouse button to Pet Attack is also very important because it serves not only as an attack order, but a “move to here” order. When fighting bosses that drop AoE (like Cronley) you can actually right-click on another part of the room and your pets will disengage and move away. This management can save your pets and helps mitigate damage you can anticipate.
Survival is dependent on your pets drawing aggro and surviving themselves. Only when your pets die do monsters generally come after you, but you’ll occasionally draw aggro. One great thing is in narrow corridors or doorways, you can actually use your pets to block a target from reaching you. It’s fun to use your movement Glyph to teleport to the other side of battle, behind your pets, only to watch the monsters struggle (and fail) to reach you while your army pounds them down. Always keep your enemies marked with CoF and ensure BoD is up up and you’re set.
Rotation for Trash: BoD is up. Run through. Everything dies. That’s about it. Only once you get into end-game Ultimate do you have to be more cautious about trash – and at that point you just curse and let your pets rush in. Your pets aren’t just DPS, they are also your shield.
Rotation for Bosses:: It’s really the same as fighting anything else, except you will be using your Pet Attack command to move your pets out of harms way when necessary. Always keep BoD up, Curse the boss, and use Call of the Grave when it’s on cooldown. Your pets will do the rest of the work.
Final Level 100 Stat Distribution: 97 Physique, 10 Spirit Faction of Choice:Order of Death’s Vigil
While this build focuses on the end-game Lost Souls set (4 items), there are so many alternative items (including some easily farmable) that can be used prior to acquiring the BiS set items, the build really is a lot of fun to farm for (overall). The first is the Warden’s Judgment, which gives us an additional Skeleton and drops off of Warden Krieg at least 35% of the time. We also have Korvaak’s Burning-Blade which is similar to the above Warden’s item, but instead supports an additional +2 skeletons per summon. The blade drops in the Forgotten Gods content off of numerous Korvaak monsters. The Ascendant Cowl also drops from Ascended mobs in Malmouth, and provides +3 to Undead Legion in addition to Pet Bonuses.
Rifthound Salts are also very important and are acquired through becoming Honored with Devil’s Crossing. Tossing these on your rings and amulet will give your pets some great resistances and speed.
While leveling, you’ll find these items to be very helpful:
65: Solael Vile Cuirass (Chest) Cult of Solael (+2 Raise Skeletons)
65: Corruptor’s Mask & Robe (Helm & Chest)
68: Beastcaller’s Talisman (Medal)
70: Dirge of Arkovia (Relic)
90: Wendigo Conjuring Seal (Ring)
94: Beacon of Lost Souls (1H)
94: Mythical Bramblewood Amulet (Amulet)
Our goal is to get our Skeleton Army up first. They’ll be a bit brittle until we get some defensive support, but the DPS will be rock solid for leveling. Once we do that, we move to Occultist and rush Blood of Dreeg and Manipulation for speed, etc. We touch up Necro, then work on QoL and defensive support to bring it all together at level 100.
Phase I (Necromancer) Skeletons (6) → Spectral Binding (1) → Undead Legion (6) → Skeletons (Max) → [OCCULTIST] Curse of Frailty (1) → Undead Legion (Max) → Blight Fiend (1) → Spectral Wrath (1) → Will of the Crypt (1)
Phase II (Occultist) Familiar (1) → Vulnerability (1) → Hellhound (1) → Storm Spirit (1) → Blood of Dreeg (12) → Hellfire (6) → Bonds of Bysmiel (1) → Aspect of the Guardian (5) → Manipulation (Max)
Phase III (Necromancer) Rotting Fumes (1) → Call of the Grave (1) → Blight Burst (1) → Master of Death (6)
Phase IV (Combo) Curse of Frailty (5) → Vulnerability (5) → Aspect of the Guardian (5) → Storm Spirit (5) → Hellfire (5) → Spectral Wrath (5) → Bonds of Bysmiel (5)
Touch up the rest as you see fit!
Crossroads (Ascendant) → Shepherd’s Crook (Curse of Frailty) → Crossroads (Chaos) → Fiend (Skeletons) → Nighttalon → Crossroads (Order) → Crane → Lion → Panther → Sailor’s → Staff of Rattosh → Lizard → Ishtak (Bonds of Bysmiel) → REMOVE Crossroads (Order, Ascendant, Chaos) → Eel → Tree of Life (Master of Death) → Typhos (1 point)
The final version of this build utilizes the Lost Souls Scepter, Helmet, Amulet and Shoulders set of 4. The Dirge of Arkovia relic is also fantastic, supported by other legendary rings, gloves, and boots, etc. The Voidwhisper rings can be tough to get, but there are many alternatives that can be used while hunting for them. Many of the legendary items drop regularly, and there’s a good chance that by level 100 you’ll have a couple already.