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Character Concept: Grim Dawn's Burning Necromancer

Tags: #Dragonborn1721  #Grim Dawn 
  • October 30, 2017

    Quick Introduction

    Grim Dawn is a rather interesting ARPG that I've been playing lately, and by that I mean I've put 100 hours into the damn thing in around a week. It's a game that kind of has a lot of history for me, considering it's made by many of the same people who made another of my favorite ARPG's, Titan Quest over 10 years ago now. And I've had one character that I've taken to Level 50 (roughly a single playthrough, though it's a lot like Diablo 3 from what I can tell, in that it requires multiple playthroughs on different difficulties to take all the way) and then a few that I've played around with to get used to the early skill set, the gameplay and everything like that. And now, I've finally decided that I have enough basic knowledge to start posting some content on the Vault.

    And rather than start out with a traditional build, I wanted to do something a little different that kind of displays my method of playing a character as I go, writing down my decisions on skill choices, what classes I take, weapons I pick up, even what armour type I end up focusing on (if any) and kind of creating a build over the normal period of time, but posting about it constantly. It's a sort of similar process to the Modder's Logs over in the MC, though I'm hoping that this gets a bit more community involvement if anyone's interested in the game, or even just the character I build. Oh, and there are a lot of elements in here that explain how the game works so it's kind of a Build/Log/Guide combo.


    So let's start out where it's important, the Class that I'm going to start with. Well technically, they're called Masteries and Grim Dawn (and Titan Quest) is kind of build around a few key ideas. First, that you can increase your Mastery Level, which gives some basic stat boosts (Health, Energy, Physique, Spirit, and Cunning) and allow you to pick stronger skills to increase your options in combat. However, the points that you can put into your Mastery are the same as your Skill Points meaning that every level you have to choose between these basic boosts (and better skills) or focusing on a skill you've already unlocked and improved it. You do also get Attribute Points (roughly...dunno the real name for it) every level letting you increase your Physique, Spirit, and Cunning by a bit but that's not entirely important. 

    The second idea is that most builds eventually end up being based on two Masteries combined, which then creates another class. The Demolitionist (top right) and Necromancer (bottom left) combine to create the Defiler Class but if you swapped the Demolitionist with the Arcanist it would become the Spellbinder. You can select your second Mastery from Level 10 onwards, meaning you could end up focusing most of your character on a single Mastery or more or less building it up from Level 10 as a dual-mastery character. I've tended to focus on the first option but this time I'll be trying to split my attention between both, which will mean that I focus less heavily on choosing multiple skills to follow extensively. 

    I suppose I could delve into it more, but instead, I'll start getting into my character.

    The Demolitionist is going to be my first Mastery with the Necromancer being my second. Really I think the Necromancer would technically work better to start with because the early game summons are really quite overpowered but I kind of want to test this as a decently strong character that keeps getting stronger each level rather than peaking by Level 15 (which I think is all you really need as a powerful Necromancer, they're kind of insanely strong). The idea will be to focus on creating a melee version of these two classes, that traditionally are more ranged than melee, and tend to have a lot of bonuses if you are using Guns. 

    Fire Strike is the first skill that I'll be focusing on because it adds a decent chunk of Fire Damage to the build and that's really going to be the focus (In terms of the type of damage we'll be aiming for). It's also a basic skill that essentially takes over for our base attack, it's not quite a passive skill but is close enough that I'd call it one.

    Flame Touched is an interesting additional skill that I'm hoping is going to work extremely well with the Necromancer Class, but also is just powerful by itself. What it does is increase our Fire and Lightning Damage by a set percentage while also giving a straight increase to damage via Fire Damage. But the really interesting bonus is that this also spreads to any nearby allies, including (I hope) the Necromancer's Summons.  


    So this is where it starts getting interesting because the build is probably going to change a fair bit throughout the game. Anyway, to start with combat is going to mainly be Melee, I might switch to a gun for a few areas but I want this build to be a deadly Two-Handed Warrior rather than a Gunner because I haven't played much with the former, basically it's going to mean getting into the thick of it and focusing on AoE attacks that inflict a heap of damage really quickly. It is by no means the most effective form of combat because really a Gun-Wielding Demolitionist is...well it just works, but it's still a fun way to play the game.

    Level 1-8 Notes: The first 8 Levels are fairly quick to breeze through, Grim Dawn kinda focuses on a really quick progression early on which just slows down and down and down the more you play. So I did get to experiement a little with the early gameplay but overall I didn't get to try out anything interesting. 

    Fire Strike is currently at Level 12/12 which means I currently have the following boosts

    120% Weapon Damage

    36 Fire Damage

    +56% Physical Damage

    At the moment my base damage is 12-68 while Fire Strike deals 73-168 Damage each hit. That's a huge difference from just the single skill and it means most weaker enemies are dying in a single hit while the tougher bosses aren't difficult to take down (but also not too easy). I might change this around later on and remove a couple skill points to boost the early Necromancer skills but I'm not entirely sure at the moment. Oh I've also got 5 points in Flame Touched which gives the following boosts.

    1.2 Active Energy Cost per Second

    +115 Energy Reserved

    12 Meter Radius

    10 Fire Damage

    +42% Fire Damage

    +42% Lightning Damage

    +42% Burn Damage

    +42% Electrocute Damage

    +56 Offensive Ability

    Ah, to simplify that. All allies within 12 meters will do extra Fire and Lightning Damage while I'll also doing more damage over time with both elements. Oh and Offensive Ability is what determines how easy it is to hit enemies and increases your critical hit change (Defensive Ability is pretty much the opposite, reducing your enemies change to hit you and decreasing how often you get hit by Critical Hits) which is pretty solid.

    Level 8-11 Notes: Now this was a much shorter period of time than I was used to playing, just the 3 levels was about 40 minutes of gameplay (give or take) and I didn't accomplish all that much but it marks a rather important milestone in the selection of the Necromancer Mastery. I'll go into a more detailed breakdown of the class later on because it isn't quite as simple as my skillset will portray it, but the Necromancer is a relatively new Mastery added by the recent Expansion/DLC that I've barely played around with. So other than the basic skills, The Necromancer is very much a new experience for me, and combining it with a melee character is something I haven't done.

    The core idea of the class, and what most of Levels 10-20 are going to be based on, is the Summoning of Skeleton Warriors. These aren't particularly strong summons, at least not early on and are really more of a 'horde' summon and are kind of based around overwhelming enemies by just having so many 'decent enough' Skeleton minions. You start out being able to summon 3 assorted Skeletons (Mages, Warriors and Crossbowmen are the main ones) but you can slowly build that up to a maximum of 8. But for now they're still a fair bit weaker than I am and I can only summon 3 at a time.

    Level 1-10 Notes: So I've restarted the playthrough and the build has become a much more succesful than the original playthrough. The only real change that I've made so far is simply changing which Mastery I started off with, and instead of choosing The Demolitionist, I've started off with the Necromancer instead. This means that instead of focusing on the Fire Strike skill, I've began to focus on Summon Skeletons and the associated skills. Man, oh man it's working well. I've currently got 4 Skeletons running around doing a minmum of 200 damage each hit. This is doing pretty well and I'll be focusing on the skillset until around Level 15 or so where I should be getting around 8 Skeletons. After that I'll be grabbing Fire Strike with the Demolitionist. 

    This section is almost purely a quick guide into the Necromancer Mastery that I'll expand upon as I continue playing the character. It's a relatively simple seeming Mastery which has three main 'paths' that you can follow to various degrees, each being useful in different circumstances but one being a lot more...explicity focused upon. 

    The first path, is the one that is probably the most interesting to most people and exactly what you think of when someone says 'Necromancer'. It's the art of raising the dead to fight on your side, which we'll call the Necromancy Path. Now technically speaking this isn't just summoning 'minions' and includes powers like Spectral Binding which binds spirits to you, increasing your damage and health, but it's still very much your typical Necromancer Skillset. Let's begin by talking about what I think is basically the most powerful ability until the late game, which is Raise SkeletonsAh, yeah if you've been paying attention you might be saying "Dragonborn, that's like one of the first skills in the tree man" and you'd be given a bronze sticker for paying attention. It is indeed the first skill in the Necromancer Path and yet I think it's pretty much the strongest because of the unique way it works. You see, it starts off allowing you to summon 3 Skeletons which do around 10 damage to start with. Which yeah, let's be honest isn't too great, but when you look at the fact that you'll have four (4 Skeletons plus the player) doing that amount of damage, well you've got a pretty good start, and if you begin as a Necromancer, you can quickly have a skill level as high as 8 by Level 3. Now let me put that into perspective. At Level 8, each Skeleton will be doing a base of 50 damage a hit, which is increased by other factors, but even at 50 damage each at Level 3, they'll be demolishing your enemies at a frankly insane pace. Then by Level 10 you can rather easily complete the Raise Skeletons skill and move on towards the second skill in the line, Undead Legion which allows you to increase the number of Skeletons you can summon while decreasing the cost and recharge rate. At that Level 10 you can put 2 points into Undead Legion if you've only put points into Raise Skeletons which should allow you to summon 4 Skeletons. Even if we ignore the fact that they'll be doing increased damage because you've got 16 points in Raise Skeletons rather than 8, you've nearly doubled your potential damage output between Level 3 and 10. In realtiy your probably doing somewhere around 1000 points a second just with your minions, and that's even a bit of a low bar because I think most of them attack at closer to 1.5 times a second and I don't have the exact numbers for Skeletons summoned with Raise Skeletons 16/16. Regardless, it's a lot of damage and more than most other classes will be doing with the added bonus of you being completely out of combat. The third skill in the Raise Skeletons line is Will of the Crypt which just increases their armour and damage. I say that, but they are fairly significant boosts and by the end of the line you'll be doing a lot of amage with your minions once you get 8 Skeletons doing maximum damage. 

    Note: At Level 10, with 16 levels of Raise Skeletons and 2 levels of Undead Legion they're currently doing around 200-250 damage a strike (with some types doing 300+ damage) meaning I'm at around 1000+ DPS.

  • October 30, 2017

    I'll be working a lot more on this, and starting the character up today (in the next half an hour) and then I'll drop by and write about my first hour of gameplay.

  • October 30, 2017

    Got the first Level 1-8 update added in, which is basically the first hour of gameplay.

  • October 31, 2017

    Alrighty, the first major update has been added in. Mostly I've detailed my Level 11 playtesting notes, which has been rather...tame but still has started developing y character along. I have, however, also decided to scrap my current character and start again with a Necromancer start rather than the Demolitionist start, it's just a bit of an easier start with the melee character because I won't be alone in combat (and all the skills I need to increase damage will probably be more impactful later on). I've also started writing more of the Guide Elements, particularly revolving around the Necromancer Mastery