This is an outdated guide, kept for historical purposes and to allow people who started using it to continue to do so if they so choose. If you're new, do not use this guide!
Guide Last Updated Decmber 2018 (Betrayal League, Patch 3.5)
This build uses Toxic Rain, a Bow skill that causes poisonous plant pods to rain down in a targeted area. The pods deal damage over time and slow enemies near them, then explode for more damage. These explosions apply Poisons, which deal some damage in their own right and empower a powerful Agony Crawler minion that deals more damage the more Poisons you apply. A varied build with a lot of room for strategic play and good all-around reliability, although it isn't particularly amazing at any one thing.
This build is a hybrid of a ranged attacker and a Minion build with a mix of several different damage sources.
Pathfinder is one of the Ranger Ascendancy subclasses. When you create your character, you will create a Ranger; you'll choose to be a Pathfinder later on.
If you want to explore this build's stats, links, and Passive Tree interactively, head over to the Links page and download Path of Building. Then, in Path of Building, select Import/Export Build -> Import from Pastebin, and enter this link: https://pastebin.com/QAYsWBvm
Main Skill Basics
Toxic Rain a Bow Attack skill that targets a point on the ground, then causes three effects in a region around the targeted point.
The first effect is a volley of arrows that deal damage in an area where they land. This damage is Area Attack Damage and therefore benefits from modifiers to Area, Attack, and Bow Damage and, although the volley's hits are not true projectiles, it also scales with Projectile Damage like any other Bow Attack. As an Attack, the base damage of these hits depends on your weapon's damage.
When the arrows land, they spawn spore pods, which are the second part of Toxic Rain's effect. Spore Pods deal a fixed amount of Chaos Damage Over Time and slow enemies in an area around them. This damage-over-time effect does not deal Attack Damage and does not scale with your weapon's damage or Attack Damage modifiers (though it does come from an Attack Skill, so exact wording is important). It benefits from Damage Over Time, Chaos Damage, and Area Damage modifiers, and specifically overrides normal behavior to benefit from Projectile Damage modifiers as well. Unlike most areas of Damage over Time, the damage from spore pods can stack if an enemy is within range of more than one of them.
After a brief period, the pods explode, dealing another round of Area Attack Damage. This benefits from the same modifiers as the initial impact, and the explosions can overlap if an enemy is in range of more than one pod.
Adding additional Projectiles will cause more arrows to rain down (and therefore more pods to spawn), but the spacing between pods remains the same, so this effectively just increases the size of the area coverage. Increases to Area of Effect will maintain the same spread between pods, but increase the range of the pods, thus indirectly increasing the overlap between them. Attack Speed modifiers will allow you to shoot more quickly.
No part of Toxic Rain is a Spell, and it does not benefit from Spell Damage modifiers. Nor does it count as a Poison in its own right, although the hits from the first and third stages can apply Poisons (and in this build, they will have a 100% chance to do so).
Herald of Agony
Herald of Agony, like all Herald skills, has two effects - a passive ongoing buff on you and a triggered effect.
Herald of Agony's passive effect grants you extra Chance to Poison and More Poison Damage. See the next section for more on Poison's mechanics.
Herald of Agony's triggered effect triggers when you Poison an enemy. Applying a Poison gives you a stack of an effect called Virulence; you can have up to 40 stacks of Virulence at a time. Stacks of Virulence decay over time, and the decay rate is faster the more Virulence you have. The actual damage done by the Poison is irrelevant; any Poison will grant a single Virulence stack.
As soon as you gain your first stack of Virulence, you'll summon a single Agony Crawler, a Minion whose stats scale with the number of Virulence stacks you have. Agony Crawlers are Minions and obey the normal Minion mechanics, meaning that they benefit from Minion stats on you and from Support Gems linked to Herald of Agony, but not from your other stats. See the Mechanics Reference on minions for more details.
While not strictly speaking a skill, Poison is a major mechanic of this build, so we'll go into its mechanics here.
Poison is applied by Hits of Physical or Chaos damage that have a Chance to Poison. (This build will eventually have a 100% Chance to Poison, so all of its Hits will apply Poison.) It deals Chaos damage based on the base Physical and Chaos damage dealt by the inflicting hit (plus any added - not Increased - Physical or Chaos damage), and in general is not directly affected by modifiers that affect the hit's damage directly. For example, a Projectile Damage modifier would not affect your Poison's damage.
Instead, Poison is affected by its own modifiers, which may or may not overlap with modifiers affecting the main hit. Poison is scaled by increases to Poison Damage, Chaos Damage, Damage Over Time, and Ailment Damage. In addition, any portion of the Poison applied by Physical Damage is additionally affected by [Global] increases to Physical Damage as well as Chaos Damage. (Yes, this is a bit counter-intuitive: see the Mechanics Reference page on Ailments for more detail.)
Even if they would affect the original hit, Poison is not affected by increases to Projectile Damage (because the Projectile did not deal the Poison damage, it just applied the Poison effect), Area Damage (because the Poison itself does not deal damage in an Area), or Attack or Spell damage (because Poison deals Damage Over Time, which is mutually exclusive with dealing Attack or Spell damage).
Any modifiers that affect both the base hit and the poison are applied to each of them separately, and therefore do not apply twice (they do not "double dip").
Poison applied by a Critical Strike innately deals 50% More damage. It is not otherwise affected by your Critical Strike Multiplier.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 1" section of the guide.
Early Act 1
We won't get Toxic Rain until the end of Act 1, so in the meantime you can fool around with other skills.
From Enemy at the Gate, you can choose one of a few Bow Attack gems. Shrapnel Shot and Ice Shot are decent options for the moment.
With your first few passive points, work your way towards the following tree:
Once you finish Mercy Mission, you can choose from a couple of possible Support gems to link to your temporary attack skill. Mirage Archer and Volley are both respectable picks, and you can pick up both (buy the other from Nessa) to fool around with if you like.
From Breaking Some Eggs, you can optionally pick up Siege Ballista as a slight damage gain against bosses. This won't be useful for very long and should be set aside once you find the Ballista dies too quickly to do much damage.
Once you enter the Prison (The Caged Brute), you can pick up a support gem from Nessa. Void Manipulation is the one we'll actually use long term, so grab that and start levelling it, but you can also grab an Added Cold Damage for your temporary attack skill.
Brutus (The Caged Brute) is just a hit-and-run. Don't be afraid to portal back to town to refill your Flasks if you need to, and make sure you avoid his grabby-chain attack.
Once you've defeated Brutus, you can pick up Blink Arrow, the main Movement skill for Bow builds. We won't discuss Movement skills until much later in the guide, but you can start using it now if you like.
Late Act 1
As you go, you'll want to look for a few specific sorts of item:
- 3- and 4-linked items with green sockets. All the supports you want to use right now are green.
- A Bow with high Physical Damage. One with Chance to Poison would be ideal, though it's unlikely you'll be lucky enough to find a bow with both anytime soon.
- Gear with Life and Resistances. Evasion gear will have the green sockets you want.
- Jewellery with Adds X-Y Physical Damage to Attacks, Life, and Resistances.
As you continue to gain more Passive Skill Points, work your way towards the following tree. You'll have enough points for all the Passives shown here sometime around Act 3 or 4, at which point you can move on to the full Passive Tree (listed in the "Full Build" section of this guide below).
Once you enter the Cavern of Wrath (The Siren's Cadence), Nessa will finally offer you your Toxic Rain gem. Your best bet for now is to link it to Void Manipulation and Mirage Archer for quick clearing.
Take advantage of the fact that you gain greatly increased Flask Charges. Chain Quicksilver flasks as you go to constantly move quickly without any real fear of running out, for example. Do not use a flask while it's already active if it has much duration left - the existing duration isn't added in, so you'll overwrite any remaining duration and waste charges. Against trash this might not matter, since you'll gain charges fast enough not to run out, but against bosses it can really hurt your longevity.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 2" section of the guide.
Early Act 2
For the Deal with the Bandits quest, we kill all three bandits. Helping Kraityn is also a defensible choice, and would probably be better with proper endgame gear and the Acrobatics keystone. For now, though, we're going to try to get the build up to speed ASAP.
From Intruders in Black, pick up Herald of Agony. This is our secondary main damage source along with Toxic Rain. None of our endgame support gems for it are available yet, but Added <Element> Damage and Chance to Bleed Support (both available from Nessa in Act 1) will work for now. You may also want to consider swapping out Void Manipulation for Lesser Poison (also from Nessa) in your Toxic Rain link - we won't need this later on when we have 100% Chance to Poison, but for now it can substantially buff your Agony Crawler.
You can also pick up Herald of Purity at this point for some additional free bonus damage. This will spawn a few minions that'll add significantly to your single-target damage output, and they'll stay survivable enough to use well into the midgame.
From Sharp and Cruel, pick up two copies of Vicious Projectiles - one for Toxic Rain and one for Herald of Agony.
Late Act 2
You should be mowing through most enemies at this point thanks to your newfound minion army and Toxic Rain's respectable damage. You shouldn't have much to worry about in late Act 2.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 3" section of the guide.
Early Act 3
Once you've completed Lost in Love, you'll be rewarded with a choice of a few Curses. Projectile Weakness is the easy offensive choice here, and outperforms other Curses by large margins, because it affects both your attacks and your Agony Crawler's. You won't want to actively cast this; we'll set it up in a utility link later on. For now, just stick it in a socket to start leveling it and use it on bosses if you like.
Late Act 3
Sever the Right Hand offers nothing we care about, although you can play with Scourge Arrow if you want to experiment with another skill.
A Fixture of Fate rewards nothing we care about for the endgame, although Poison Support is a decent temporary measure if you still haven't gotten Chance to Poison on your passive tree. However, since it unlocks most gems available from vendors, we can pick up a Minion Damage Support for our Herald of Agony.
At this point you should be actively seeking out good Utility Flasks. You can swap out Ruby, Topaz, and Sapphire flasks to reduce incoming damage from bosses using the respective damage type. Jade and Granite Flasks dramatically increase your defenses against Attacks and Physical damage respectively and are good default choices. You'll want to spend a few Alteration and Augmentation orbs crafting these Flasks to have both a good Prefix and a good Suffix, such as:
- Immunity to Curses, Chill, or Bleeding during Flask Effect
- X% Increased Evasion during Flask Effect
- Reduced Charges Used or Increased Charges Gained
- Movement Speed during Flask Effect
Only one of each of these affix effects can be active on you at a time. If you have two flasks that both give movement speed, you won't benefit from both if they're both active at the same time. However, affixes do stack with the base effect of the flask (a Quicksilver Flask's movement speed and the affix Movement Speed during Flask Effect can both be active at once, for example).
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 4" section of the guide.
Early Act 4
The only movement skill option for bow builds is Blink Arrow. If you're not already using this, go get one and start. Link it to Faster Attacks and Faster Projectiles to both fire the arrow and teleport to it faster.
From Breaking the Seal, you can pick up whichever Golem suits you. It won't do much and will quickly be obsolete, so it's just a minor buff for now if you can keep it alive.
From The Eternal Nightmare, grab Vile Toxins and link it to your Toxic Rain. At this point your Toxic Rain link should be something like Toxic Rain - Vicious Projectiles - Vile Toxins - Poison or Lesser Poison depending on how many of the passive Chance to Poison nodes you've managed to pick up.
By this point you've probably completed the Passive Tree shown above. Here's the full tree, which you should work towards from here on out, adjusting how much damage or life you pursue as you feel your damage or survivability is in need of more help.
The Labyrinth is a chance to see how strong your minions have gotten. Against Izaro, lay down a bunch of spore pods on top of him (or other enemies you're trying to kill) before they become active. A Granite flask will help a lot against Izaro, reducing his damage by huge margins while it's active. When he spawns skeletons, you can get your Flask Charges back by killing them off while kiting him around.
Once you've completed the Labyrinth, pick up Nature's Reprisal. This is a huge damage gain for you. Not only does it apply a large number of Poisons, the 50% Increased Area of Effect means your Spore Pods will overlap more from here on out.
Late Act 4
The final boss of Act 4 uses a lot of Fire damage. It may be useful to bring a Ruby Flask.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 5" section of the guide.
The only major build-specific note for Act 5 is the choice of Unique Jewel from Death to Purity. We don't care about any of them in this build, so you can either save the reward for later (if you want to try a different build on another character) or sell it for an Orb of Alchemy or so.
Part II (Acts 6-10)
Once you complete your second Labyrinth, around the end of Act 7 or the beginning of Act 8, pick up Master Toxicist. This is another straight damage gain: reducing your Virulence decay rate allows you to keep your stacks high for great Agony Crawler damage, and the other effects improve the damage you do directly.
Epilogue & Maps
At this point you may want to consider spending some time setting up good Flasks. Quality them up to 20% while they're white-rarity (to save currency), then craft them with Augmentation and Alteration Orbs to get all of the major flask mods represented on your flask bar. If you want to spend some money, you can also look in to some of the powerful endgame flasks mentioned in the full-build guide below.
Once you complete your third Labyrinth, sometime early into Maps, pick up Nature's Boon. This will make it almost impossible to run out of Flask Charges unless you're hitting them very recklessly, and the fact that it causes passive charge gain means you can just kite a boss for a while until your charges refill.
This build doesn't need to worry about most map modifiers, but Monsters have X% Chance to Avoid Poison will shut your damage down hard.
Once you complete your final Labyrinth, late in the endgame, pick up Nature's Adrenaline. It's free Movement and Attack Speed, what's not to love?
The Full Build
Main Skill Links
Toxic Rain - Vicious Projectiles - Void Manipulation - Vile Toxins is your go-to 4-link. The drop-only gem Added Chaos Damage is considerably better than any of these supports, and you should use it if you have it. Once you have a 5- or 6-link, add in Withering Touch (and if you're not using Added Chaos Damage, Faster Attacks as well).
Herald of Agony - Vicious Projectiles - Minion Damage - Added Fire Damage is your endgame Herald of Agony link, although Vile Toxins works fine in the fourth slot. In a 5- or 6-link, add in Vile Toxins and Damage on Full Life or Minion Life or Minion Speed depending on your needs.
You can get two 6-links in your Bow and in your Chest, but most likely you'll get one before the other. You're best off fully linking Herald of Agony first if that's the case.
(Beyond the standard ones listed as part of the Act 4 Guide)
Blink Arrow - Faster Attacks - Faster Projectiles is your movement skill. You can toss in a Maim to have your spawned clone slow enemies, a Blind to have it blind them and reduce their chance to hit, or a Culling Strike to have it execute enemies below 10% of their max Life.
Wither - Spell Totem - Faster Casting - Multiple Totems is a huge damage boost for you against bosses.
Projectile Weakness is the clear offensive winner and Enfeeble the clear defensive one. These should be applied via a Cast-when-Damage-Taken setup or linked to Blasphemy Support.
On your weapon, aim for a high attack speed and Physical dps. The optimal stats vary a little bit depending on how much you want to emphasize your Crawler (who benefits from your Attack Speed most) versus your own damage (which scales well with your Physical Damage).
On your Jewellery, look for Added Physical Damage, Life, and Resistances.
On the rest of your armour, look for the usual Life and Resistances combinations, with capping resistance prioritized over Life. This build is fairly agnostic to the base defenses of your gear, but you usually won't have the Intelligence for Energy Shield gear.
Notable Unique items include:
- Lioneye's Glare or Arborix (strong Unique bows for damage output)
- Atziri's Promise (a common but very strong Flask that adds Chaos Damage)
- Dying Sun (an expensive but extremely powerful Flask that adds extra Projectiles and Area of Effect)