1.12 Diablo 2 Poison Necromancer Guide
V3.1 (8/5/09) - Check the Verson History for changes!
By MrEngineer1

<Note>
Disclaimer format borrowed from IR0NMA1DEN (Ben Ferrara). I credit him with
this format and the overall basic layout of the guide (and equipment, but I
acknowledge that later on).
<End Note>

DISCLAIMER:
	This is property of MrEngineer1 (Tim Hickey). This may be not be
reproduced under any circumstances except for personal, private use. It may not
be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance
written permission. Use of this guide on any other web site or as a part of any
public display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright. In plain
English, this means that it is against the law for you to copy this guide. If
you want to print it out, that's fine, but if you wish to use any part of it,
please contact me to ask first. I will put my email address in the CONTACT ME
section of this FAQ.

--------------------------------------
 Table of Contents & Version History
--------------------------------------

I.      Purpose of the Guide
II.     Why a Poison Necromancer?
III.    Attributes
IV.     Skills
    a. Summoning Spells
    b. Poison and Bone Spells
    c. Curses
    d. My Golem Argument
    e. Builds -	Final points and when to distribute
	i     Pure Poisoner
	ii    Poison/Bone hybrid
	iii   Poison/Summon hybrid
V.      Equipment
VI.     Mercenary
VII.    Inventory
VIII.   Strategies (PvM only)
IX.     "My Story"
X.	Appendices
    a.	Previous Equipment Section (mostly Iron Maiden's info)
    b.	"My Old Story"
XI.      Contact Me
XII.     Credits/Thanks


Version History
--------------------------

3.1 (8/05/09) Updated the equipment section a bit, more choices. Also a bit
of bookkeeping. Briefly started my new story. Merc section has small update
as well.

3.0 (7/24/09) Third version. Major changes involved, mostly to skill points.
Guide now split into "mulitple builds" and I better discuss options for gear.
Basically every section has been updated a bit- whether it be a new paragraph,
Or a whole new "section."

2.0 (3/8/09) Second version. I've recieved a few emails and I wanted to
address the questions/comments/concerns in them. I will be crediting them.
The main section I've added to is the equipment section. I've also updated
a merc weapon concern/comment and my story a bit, adding experiences and
newfound items. Though I originally was going to wait until I beat NM Baal,
I felt the guide should be updated. 

1.0 (3/1/09) First Version



--------------------------------------
I. Purpose of this Guide - Updated
--------------------------------------

First Let me say that this is my first guide. Second let me say that I'm a
horrible speller and rarely spell check (nor enjoy it). So it's highly likely
there'll be errors in grammer and spelling. If the error is minor and the
sentence it still tangeble, please don't bother writing an email just to say I
forgot an "e" in a word.

With that said, I love Diablo 2. It's a great game. I've been playing since it
first came out, and haven't stopped (Synergies definately changed all my builds
but for the better). However I enjoy playing on my own, not being dependent on
others, and not having to deal with jerks online. However this presents
challenges such as having no one to trade with making obtaining good gear very
challenging, and having no special inventory items like an Anni or Torch. But
there aren't many PvM guides online. So I wanted to document my experience.

Now I made it UNTWINKED to Act 3 in Hell before I became fusterated and moved
on to another build. I was level 80, and had very little gear. Somewhat
recently I joined the d2offline site. People there have been very nice, and
it's given me the opportunity to trade with other offline players. I plan to
start a new Poison Necro, given the new gear and new knowledge.


--------------------------------------
II. Why a Poison Necromancer?
--------------------------------------

I really liked this character, however my lack of knowledge and gear made it
very hard in Hell. I saw a few other poisonmancers and decided I'm going to
try again. This guide has been a bit of a sore spot, because it wasn't
updated for a long time, and I wanted to give my knowledge to others.


--------------------------------------
III. Attributes
--------------------------------------


[Strength]

You only need enough strength to wear your items. Normally lower for online
players. Usually around 100 is more than enough. Marrowwalks need 118.


[Dexterity]

Similar to strength. Add just enough Dexterity to put your items on. It's more
important in the beginning when you're using a dagger. Blackbog's Sharp needs
88 Dex.


[Vitality]

Vitality is life. After adding all the Strength and Dex you need, put the rest
of your points into this.


[Energy]

Energy is not needed. Surprizing to me, but I was able to do ok with base
Energy. Leveling will give you more mana, and items can be used for energy and
mana increase. And of course you'll have Mana Potions. Use them when you need
them.


--------------------------------------
IV. Skills
--------------------------------------

First let me say that there's always disagreements and discrepancies about
skills. I'm going to explain what I think are viable skills.

Second, people always say that you can get 110 skill points (98 from leveling,
12 from quests). Are you going to get to lvl 99? I know I won't, I know I'll
get bored Baal running just to try and level. At that point I'll try another
character. I'm going to assume a level of 85. It's still a lofty goal but
obtainable when compared to lvl 99. I will give you the quest points though.

So level 85 gives us 96 points to work with. There are a lot of skills so I'll
only be going over the main ones we'll be using.


A. Summoning Spells
--------------------------------------

[Raise Skeleton]

Required Level: 1
Raise a skeleton from a corpse. Great for summoners.


[Skeleton Mastery]

Required Level: 1
Increases the life and damage of your skeletons.


[Clay Golem]

Required Level: 6
Clay Golem is a great tank for early game. Makes a golem out earth. Has a
slightly higher cold resist and can even slow enimies. Damage is low though.


[Golem Mastery]

Required Level: 12
Golem Mastery boosts the life, attack rating, and mobility of your Golems.
Even a single point goes a long way.


[Summon Resist]

Required Level: 24
Summon Resist does as the name implies. It raises the resistances of all your
Summons. A must for Nightmare and Hell.


B. Poison and Bone Spells
--------------------------------------
This is where most of your points will go.


[Teeth]

Required level: 1
Sends out magical 'missles'. Weak Damage w/o synergies. Only used as a
prerequisite.


[Corpse Explosion]

Required Level: 6
Makes a monster body explode. The damage is half fire and half physical. An
awesome skill that I used to underrate. Great for Bone Necros or Summoners to
take care of groups and immunes. You've got poison damage with the ability to
drop immunes. You won't need it, but it's a prerequisite.


[Poison Dagger]

Required Level: 6
Adds poison damage to any dagger class weapon. In the end it'll do massive
amounts of damage, but it takes a long time. Great for early game, but later
you'll find it more beneficial to get a wand that adds 2 to all skills (or
more). Still a synergy. You'll be maxing it.


[Poison Explosion]

Required Level: 18
Makes a enemy body emit a poison gas cloud. Does massive damage at high levels,
but like the dagger, it's still a bit slow. However, it's a great weapon
against small clusters of monsters, esp. while your merc and golem keep them
busy. A synergy as well, max it.


[Poison Nova]

Required Level: 30
Creates an expanding ring of death around you. Does great damage when maxed
and has synergies. Not as much as poison dagger or poison explosion, but it
does it in 2 seconds! I find it quite satisfying to run into a group of
monsters, cast a nova, run out, and watch them die a second later.


C. Curses
--------------------------------------
Now I've heard that "every necromancer needs a point in every curse." I beg to
differ. I have yet to find a real need for when you use Dim Vision, Confuse, or
Attract when you can use Lower Resist to make your poison damage more
effective. Even the Gloams in Hell fall fairly quickly with Lower Resist and
Nova. There was not a single time where I was saying "I wish I had Dim Vision."


[Amplify Damage]

Required Level: 1
Reduces enemies' defence, basically doubles the damage you do. It can even
remove phsyical immunity.Good skill but not really used once others are
obtained.


[Weaken]

Required Level: 6
Reduces damage enimies do to you. Amplify Damage is better, but it's a
prerequisite.


[Iron Maiden]

Required Level: 12
Causes enemies' physical attacks to be reflected back at them. It's a
prerequisite.


[Terror]

Required Level: 12
Causes enimies to run away. Doesn't work on bosses. It's a prerequisite.


[Life Tap]

Required Level: 18
Allows you and/or minions to leech life back from monsters. Better for
summoners. It's a prerequisite.


[Decrepify]

Required Level: 24
Great skill esp. for bosses (at least until you get lower resist). Slows
monsters, weakens them, and reduces their defenses. Still it only gets one
point.


[Lower Resist]

Required Level: 30
It makes you fly. What do you think it does? It lowers the resistances of
monsters and can remove immunities. It's also the only curse that you'll
invest more than 1 point into. However it gains diminishing results Let plus
skills do their thing.


D. My Golem Argument
--------------------------------------
So I've deleted my Golem argument because it depends on how you want to change
your build. Originally I stated that a Fire Golem got more bang for your buck.
I still think a Fire Golem is good, but it depends on which build you choose.


E. Final points and when to distribute
--------------------------------------
All right so you need 20 pts in each poison skill, 1 in 7 Curses for Decrep and
Lower Resist. From there it depends how you want to vary your build. You don't
have to follow these, they are just examples.


i.    Pure Poisoner

20 Poison Dagger
20 Poison Explosion
20 Poison Nova
20 Lower Resist
1  Clay Golem
1  Golem Mastery
1  Summon Resist
8 Prerequisites (6 curses, teeth, CE)

First off, I advise against this. It leaves you very vunerable to Poison
Immunes and Lower Resist, even at level 20+ will probably not break them. Maybe
if you play online in a party all the time, this could be good. But if you plan
on playing alone at all, I would not do this. Now there's still a few free
points to play with here, but nothing you do will make a big difference. If you
are going to do this, try playing with a "Lightning" character (Tesladin, 
Lightning Sorc, Javazon). A lot of lightning immunes can have their immunity
broken with a high enough lower resist.


ii.   Poison/Bone hybrid

20 Poison Dagger
20 Poison Explosion
20 Poison Nova
7  Curses
27- Bone skills
2 Prerequisites (teeth, CE)

First off, I HIGHLY advise against this. Your bone skills will be very, very
weak. You might get 500-600 damage from Bone Spirit (a bit more with +skills).
I think the best points would be served in Bone Wall, as that will increase
the damage of spear and spirit, while boosting bone armor. 

Even full bonemancers have relatively weak attacks, and take a lot of points
and gear to be affective. But maybe you want an extra attack besides Corpse Ex.


iii.  Poison/Summon hybrid

Now I can see 3 viable builds here: Poison with Skeles, Poison with Fire Golem,
and Poison with Clay Golem. 

The Golems will give you a better tank. Clay Golem will slow enimies and
bosses, and with 20 pts will have great life. Fire Golem will still tank, but
will do more damage thanks to the fire attribute, and still have decent life,
(but not as much as a Clay Golem). 

Skeles is the build I'm going to go with. With 1 in Skeleton Mastery, 20 in
Raise Skeleton, you get a halfway decent set of attackers. + Skills will help
the Mastery, and a Might Merc will increase all of their damage. You can get
8 skeletons with a level 20 RS. 10 if you have +5 to summon skills. And you
still want a point into Clay Golem to get to Summon Resist. So you can have
another weak meat shield.

20 Poison Dagger
20 Poison Explosion
20 Poison Nova
7  Curses
20 Raise Skeleton
1  Skeleton Mastery
1  Clay Golem
1  Golem Mastery
1  Summon Resist
2 Prerequisites (teeth, CE)


That's 93 points. Which means you could be "done" at level 82. Now you have a
choice for extra points. You can put a couple more in Lower Resist to help it.
You can get a revive (you'll need to be 86 to get this). Put a few extra points
in Corpse Explosion for the Poison and Physical immunes. Or you can start
putting points into Skeleton Mastery. I recommend Skeleton Mastery because:

-Extra points in lower resist will only be about 5% more effective. Less if
	you have a lot plus skills.
-Corpse Explosion is a great 1 pointer, but not as effective with a big party
	or /players8
-Revives won't be great since there's only 1 point in Skeleton Mastery
-You can always use stronger skeletons



Now when to distribute. Give the summons 1 point right away for support. Get
each curse as you go, get prerequisites, start pumping poison skills. Here's
what I am going to do:

<Note> 
If I say to use a point in a skill that's not available by level yet, I mean
save it until you can use it. Example save 3,4, and 5 until you get to level 6.
<End Note>

Q= Quest from Den of Evil
B= Book of Skill
A= Points from Tyreal

Q Raise Skeleton
2 Skeleton Mastery
3 Amplify Damage
4 Teeth
5 Clay Golem
6 Poison Dagger
7 Corpse Explosion
8 Weaken
9-11 Poison Dagger
12 G. Mastery
13 Iron Maiden
14 Terror
15-17 Poison Dagger
B Life Tap
18-22 Poison Explosion
23 Decrepify
24 Summon Resist
25-29,A, Poison Explosion
A Lower Resist
30+ Poison Nova. 

From there I'll max poison nova, then Poison Explosion, then Poison Dagger. Any
future quest reward points will go toward the other poison spells- you have to
make up for those two points for skeles, plus a stronger poison Nova is a good
thing. After all your poison skills are maxed, start putting points into Raise
Skeleton. I'd assume you'll be around level 65-70, in late Nightmare. Which is
good because that's were you'll start to really see poison immunes. After RS is
done, put anymore points in SM.


--------------------------------------
V. EQUIPMENT
--------------------------------------

If you can you should put poison facets in any open equipment. It'll help your
damage a lot. 


[Trang-Oul's Set]

*A great partial set is Trang's gloves, Belt, and Shield. These will give
you +2 to curses, +2 poison and bone, the Cannot be Frozen mod, and -25% to 
enemy poison resist. This will greatly increase your damage - more so than
just the + skills from an Arach's and Homunculus.  


- Trang-Oul's Wing, Increased chance of blocking, poison and fire resists,
+2 to poison and bone skills, and (if you have 3 pieces) -25% to enemy poison
resists.

- Trang-Oul's Girth, Cannot be frozen, cold resists, extra life. 

- Trang-Oul's Claws, Faster cast rate, cold resist, +25% poison skill damage,
and +2 to curses.


*Now I got a suggestion from a fellow Offline player that since this is a
hybrid, Trang's Armor will give you +2 to summoning skills.


- Trang-Oul's Scales, 40% Faster Run/Walk, poison resist, +2 summoning skills,
(and lightning resist with 3 items)


*This is a really good idea to me. If I wear the scales and make up resists else
where, then I get +2 to summoning skills. Then, because this can act as my 3rd
set piece, [when I'm high enough level] I can ditch the belt, and wear Arach's
for the extra skill point. This will make up for the skill point I miss with
not wearing a vipermagi.

That being said if you aren't going to use 3 of the pieces, you probably
shouldn't use any of them (other than the gloves, which are good on their own).



[Weapon]

Ideally you'd want a Death's Web for the -% to enemy poison resist. But that'd
be hard to get offline. A wand with +2 all skills, +2 (or more) Poison Nova
would be good. The "White" runeword is a great edition to this build, especially
if you put in a wand that already has +X to Poison Nova. White will boost your
damage, and add points into Skeleton Mastery to boost their life and damage. A
Blackbog's Sharp is a great weapon if you're going to use poison dagger as your
main skill.

- White [2 socket wand, Dol+Io], which adds +3 to poison and bone skills, +4
to Skeleton Mastery, some extra vitality, faster cast rate, and a low level
bone armor which can be nice for early difficulties.

- Blackbog's Sharp, adds poison damage, increased attack speed, and +4-5 to
each of the poison skills. 



[Armour]

Ideally you'd want a Bramble Runeword, but again getting this offine would be
difficult. An armor with resists and +skills is good. Vipermagi is a good
choice. Treachery and Smoke can be nice for the resists. Of course the
afformentioned Trang's Armor is another great choice. 

- Skin of the Vipermagi, +1 to all skills, 30 faster cast rate, magic damage
deductions, and 20-35 to all resists. 

- Treachery [3 socket Body Armor, Shael+Thul+Lem]- increased attack speed,
chance to cast venom and fade. Nice cheap runeword.

- Smoke [2 socket armor, Nef+Lum]- 50% resists, good defense versus missle.
This is a great low level armor, or if you need the resists.

- Trang-Oul's Scales, 40% Faster Run/Walk, poison resist, +2 summoning skills,
(and lightning resist with 3 items)



[Shield]

The ideal choice would be the Trang's for the -25% enemy poison resist. But
others can be used. Homunculus has some nice plus skills and resists. A rare
shrunken head with plus skills and resists is good. Spirit or Lidless wall
could also be used in a pinch.


- Trang-Oul's Wing, Increased chance of blocking, poison and fire resists,
+2 to poison and bone skills, and (if you have 3 pieces) -25% to enemy poison
resists.

- Homunulus, +2 all skills, +2 to curses, Increased chance to block, faster
block rate, 40 to all resists, +5 mana after each kill.

- Spirit [4 socket body armor, Tal+Thul+Ort+Amn], +2 all skills, faster cast
rate, faster hit recovery, vitality, and 35% resists to cold, lightning, and
poison.

- Lidless Wall, +1 to all skills, faster cast rate, increased maximum mana.



[Helmet]

A Rare Circlet/Coronet/Tiara with some of these mods would be the best:

+2 to Necromancer Skill Levels
+20% Faster Cast Rate
+20% Faster Hit Recovery
+15-20 All Resistances
+30-50 Life

But a Shako, or Peasant Crown could be used. There's lots of decent choices.

- Harlequin Crest, +2 to all skills, + to life and mana, and damage reduction.

- Peasant Crown, +1 to all skills, faster run/walk, +20 to vitality and energy



[Boots]

Marrowwalks would be the best as they add +skills to Skeleton Mastery.
Waterwalks or Silkweaves is also a decent choice.

- Marrowwalk, +2 to Skeleton Mastery, Faster run/walk, increased mana regen.

- Waterwalk, adds faster run/walk and life

- Silkweaves, faster run/walk increased maximum mana, mana after each kill



[Gloves]

Trang's Gloves are the best. They're fairly easy to get too. But you could use
Frostburns or Magefists.


- Trang-Oul's Claws, Faster cast rate, cold resist, +25% poison skill damage,
and +2 to curses.

- Frostburns, give a huge 40% boost to mana. These are also good for while
you're at lower levels too.

- Magefist, gives faster cast rate and increase mana regeneration



[Belt]

If you need a 3rd piece of Trangs, the belt can be a nice choice. But Arach's
is good for the plus skill, and anything with damage reduction and +life is
good too.

- Trang-Oul's Girth, Cannot be frozen, cold resists, extra life. 

- Arachnid Mesh, +1 To All Skills, faster cast rate, and small increase to your
maximum mana.

- Verdungo's Hearty Cord, faster hit recovery, large increase to vitality, and
damage reduction.



[Amulet]

An obvious choice is a Mara's. A +2 necro skills with good mods is acceptable.
For a little extra damage I may use a +3 Poison and Bone ammy. 

- Mara's Kaleidoscope, +2 to all skills, 20-30% resists



[Rings]

Again obvious choice is SOJs. Rings with +Life, +Resists are a good choice as
well. 

- Stone of Jordan, +1 to all skills, +20 mana, increase max mana.



--------------------------------------
VI. Mercenary
--------------------------------------

Playing offline, I found a mercenary was a must. I don't think I could have
handled the lower levels without one. He/She does a lot of damage and can
help tackle the tougher enimies. Later he's still great because he draws
attention from me and helps handle the big stuff. If you're playing single
player, I highly advise a merc. There's no real downside to them. They don't
take away from your experience and can add extra magic find. It does costs a
little cash to revive them. But they are optional.


[Mercenary] 

A Nightmare Offensive Desert Mercenary. He has a Might aura.
This will boost the damage of your skeletons, while keeping bodies falling for
raising skeletons and exploding. 

Another option, at least at low levels is a Normal Combat Desert Merc. That'll
give you and your summons a prayer aura which will heal them. When you put an
Insight on him, you'll get 2X the healing, which will go a long way for your
early, weak skeles (due to lack of skill points).


Now for outfitting your merc. Insight Pole Arm is great for the mana regen.
Other high damaging weapons would work (a Bonehew is a good choice). A Reaper's
Toll can be nice if you don't mind the decrepify proc overwriting your lower
resist. If you can get a Fal, Obedience is a great runeword. Lower runewords
such as Honor and Strength would do.



[Weapon]

- Insight [Ral+Tir+Tal+Sol]- level 12-17 meditation aura, poison + fire damage,
a bit of magic find

- Obedience [Hel + Ko + Thul + Eth + Fal]- chance to cast enchant, faster hit
recovery, -25% to target's defence, Crushing Blow, and resists.

- Honor [Amn+El+Ith+Tir+Sol]- Deadly Strike and Leech Life

- Strength [Amn+Tir]- Crushing Blow and leech life

- Bonehew, Lots of damage, increased attack speed, chance to cast bone spear.

- The Reaper's Toll is a nice choice for the Deadly Strike and Chance to Cast
Decrepify [which will overwrite your Lower Resist, but help you skeles]



[Armour]

Ideally you'd want some high level runeword, like fortitude. But anything with
high defense and +life is good.

Some feasible runewords for single player are Duress and Treachary. Duress will
give you Crushing Blow, and Treachary has some great Procs. I recommend Duress
because it'll help kill those pesky poison immunes.


- Duress [3 socket armor, Shael+Um+Thul]- Adds defence, Open Wounds, Crushing
Blow, and some resists [45% cold, 15 rest]. Great offensive Armor. 

- Treachery [3 socket Body Armor, Shael+Thul+Lem]- increased attack speed,
chance to cast venom and fade. Nice cheap runeword.

- Duriel's Shell is good in a pinch adding resists, defence and life per level
and the cannot be frozen mod.

- Stone [4 socket armor, Shael+Um+Pul+Lum]- good defense, lots of fast hit
recovery, a little resists



[Helmet]

Something with Life steal is the best. Andariel's Visage is nice. The helm
from Tal Rasha's set is a nice cheap helm too. Stealskull is good. There's
lots of choices.


- Andariel's Visage adds life steal and a chance to cast a level 15 Poison
Nova is nothing to shake a stick at either. You should socket it with a Ral,
or Fire Resist Jewel to counter act the -30% Fire resist on it.

- Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest is a nice cheap helm, as it add life and mana
steal, along with +60 to life and a bit of resists.

- Stealskull, 5% leech life, increased attack speed, faster hit recovery,
and some magic find.


--------------------------------------
VII. Inventory
--------------------------------------

There are some charms you should keep. The oh so well known torch and anni.

Annihilus - Small Charm
Required Level: 70
+1 To All Skills
+10-20 To All Attributes (varies)
+10-20 To All Resistances (varies)
+5-10% To Experience Gained (varies)

Hellfire Torch - Large Charm
Required level: 76
25% Chance of casting Lvl 10 Firestorm on striking
+3 to one character class's Skills (varies)
+8 Light Radius
+10-20 All Resistances (varies)
+10-20 All Stats (varies)
Lvl 30 Hydra Charges (10/10)


Now skiller grand charms - Try and get a few. Those are Grand Charms
that give +1 to a skill tree, in our case we want Poison and Bone. You could
also get +1 to Summons, but it won't be as benifical as PnB. If you want you
can get charms of +life and +resist. I may hold on to some.


--------------------------------------
VIII. Strategies
--------------------------------------

I'm not online so I can't duel. Nor do I have any desire to. So I'm not going
to get into PvP. IronMa1den does a good job with that. Go look at his guide.
I'll talk breifly about Monsters.


[Spread out Monsters]

Run into the center, Nova them, run out. If there's tougher/higher life
monsters lower resist that area first (such as Zombies, Undead Corpses, etc).
Lower life mosters will fall with one Nova hit. Later levels I found myself
always casting Lower Resist before Nova.


[Clusters of Monsters]

Let them get distracted by your Summons and merc. If they're all still alive,
cast a Lower Resist, Nova. If one dies, try to cast a poison explosion. In the
close area of the cluster, they'll go down quick.


[Bosses]

At lower levels you'll want to use Decrepify to slow the boss down. Then Nova
or P. Dagger them. Rinse and repeat. At higher levels/difficulties Lower Resist
is your best friend. Then Nova them. If you can try to lure them by dead
bodies, and poison explosion on them. It'll do more damage than the Nova.
Bosses like Duriel, where there are no bodies, you'll have to rely on Nova.
Lower Resist first, it'll make it more effective.


[Immunes] 

Lower Resist, then Nova/ Poison Explosion. Hopefully your Lower Resist is
strong enough. If not, realy on your merc and summons to make a kill. Then
use Corpe Explosion for Physical and Fire damage. You can also use the Fire
Wall granted from Trang's equipment to help.



--------------------------------------
IX. My Story
--------------------------------------

Well I just hit level 20 with my Poison/Summon Necro. I admit it was difficult
in the beginning (on /p8). Blood raven was probably the hardest because I only
had 1 skele, 1 clay, and I had just gotten poison dagger. So I didn't have much
mana, and all her summons kinda outnumbered mine. Once I killed her and got my
Merc, and got some low level twinking gear on, things got easier. Once I hit
15, I could put on tarnhelm and eye of eldith (sp?) so I got to a "level 3"
raise skeleton and I could have 3 running around. And now that I have a couple
extra points into Poison dagger, it's becoming a nice killer even on /p8.

I just killed Andy and got to Act II. I switched my merc to a Prayer guard
(combat, on normal or hell). I did this because my skeles don't have much life
and prayer helps them stay alive longer now that the monsters hit harder. If I
was playing on /P1 they would probably last a lot longer, but what's the fun in
that? I figure once the merc hits level 27, I can throw an Insight on him and
that way my summons will get 2x the healing, and I get mana regen. I'm thinking
I may keep this merc set up for awhile until I actually have decent skeletons.
No point in getting a Might Merc, if the skeles die too quick. But by that time
I'll have more plus skills as well. So we'll see when I get to NM Act II. 

I'm already looking forward to continuing this build.


--------------------------------------
X. Appendices
--------------------------------------


A. Previous Equipment Section
--------------------------------------

<Note> 
I didn't write this section. I've seen the best equipment lists on other
guides. It's already more complete than I could write. So I asked IR0NMA1DEN
if I could use his equipment section. He agreed to let me use it.

Basically this is not mine. Thank IR0NMA1DEN for the equipment.

I've also answered some questions/comments after the Equipment Section. Read
past the Equipment section for it.
<End Note>


Skills and attributes are simply not enough to make a character powerful. Your
equipment is very important too. You might laugh and call me a "n00b", but this
setup works well for me. As it should for you. I will recommend two pieces of
equipment that you will need. The item listed as 1 is the recommended choice.
2 is a decent alternative. Put Perfect Poison Rainbow Facets wherever possible.
They don't need to be Die Facets. Morons insist on them. I don't know about you,
but when I build a dueling character, I don't plan on dying much.

 /\/\/\/\
| Weapon |
 \/\/\/\/
1:Death's Web - Unearthed Wand
One-Hand Damage: 22 To 28 (25 Avg)
Required Level: 66
Required Strength: 25
Durability: 18
Base Weapon Speed: [0]
+50% Damage To Undead
-40-50% To Enemy Poison Resistance (varies)
+7-12 To Mana After Each Kill (varies)
+7-12 Life After Each Kill (varies)
+2 To All Skills
+1-2 To Poison And Bone Skills (Necromancer Only) (varies)

2:Heart of the Oak - Flail
Ko + Vex + Pul + Thul
+3 To All Skills
+40% Faster Cast Rate
+75% Damage To Demons
+100 To Attack Rating Against Demons
Adds 3-14 Cold Damage
7% Mana Stolen Per Hit
+10 To Dexterity
Replenish Life +20
Increase Maximum Mana 15%
All Resistances +30-40 (varies)
Level 4 Oak Sage (25 Charges)
Level 14 Raven (60 Charges)
+50% Damage To Undead 

 /\/\/\/\
| Shield |
 \/\/\/\/
1:Homunculus - Hierophant Trophy
Defense: 127.5-213 (varies)(Base Defense: 58-70)
Defense: 58-70
Required Level: 42
Required Strength: 58
Durability: 20
Chance To Block: 72%
(Necromancer Only)
+150-200% Enhanced Defense(varies)
25% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
40% Increased Chance of Blocking
30% Faster Block Rate
+2 To Necromancer Skill Levels
+20 To Energy
Regenerate Mana 33%
All Resistances +40
+2 To Curses (Necromancer Only)

2:Darkforce Spawn - Bloodlord Skull
Defense: 357-417 (varies)(Base Defense: 103-148)
Required Level: 65
Required Strength: 106
Durability: 20
Chance To Block: 32%
(Necromancer Only)
+140-180% Enhanced Defense (varies)
+1-3 To Summoning Skills (Necromancer Only) (varies)
+1-3 To Poison And Bone Skills (Necromancer Only) (varies)
+1-3 To Curses (Necromancer Only) (varies)
+30% Faster Cast Rate
Increase Maximum Mana 10%

 /\/\/\/\
| Armour |
 \/\/\/\/
1:Bramble - Archon Plate (Runeword)
RAL + OHM + SUR + ETH
Level 15-21 Thorns Aura When Equipped (varies)
+50% Faster Hit Recovery
+25-50% To Poison Skill Damage (varies)
+300 Defense
Increase Maximum Mana 5%
Regenerate Mana 15%
+5% To Maximum Cold Resist
Fire Resist +30%
Poison Resist +100%
+13 Life After Each Kill
Level 13 Spirit of Barbs (33 Charges)

2:Enigma - Archon Plate (Runeword)
JAH + ITH + BER
+2 To All Skills
+45% Faster Run/Walk
+1 To Teleport
+750-775 Defense (varies)
+ (0.75 Per Character Level) +1-74.25 To Strength 
Increase Maximum Life 5%
Damage Reduced By 8%
+14 Life After Each Kill
15% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
+ (1 Per Character Level) +1-99% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items 

 /\/\/\/\
| Helmet |
 \/\/\/\/
1:Rare Circlet/Coronet/Tiara with some of these mods
+2 to Necromancer Skill Levels
+20% Faster Cast Rate
+20% Faster Hit Recovery
+15-20 All Resistances
+30-50 Life
+30-50 Mana
Socketed (1 or 2)

2:Harlequin Crest - Shako
Defense: 98-141
Required Level: 62
Required Strength: 50
Durability: 12
+2 To All Skills
+1.5-148.5 To Life (Based On Character Level)
+1.5-148.5 To Mana (Based On Character Level)
Damage Reduced By 10%
50% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
+2 To Strength
+2 To Dexterity
+2 To Vitality
+2 To Energy

 /\/\/\/\
| Boots  |
 \/\/\/\/
1: Grim Spur - Chain Boots (Rare)
Defense: 9
Durability: 16
Required Strength: 30
Required Level: 41
+30% Faster Run/Walk
+20% Faster Hit Recovery
+19 Strength
+45% Cold Resist
+22% Lightning Resist
+21% Poison Resist

2: Silkweave - Mesh Boots
Defense: 95-130.5 (varies)(Base Defense: 37-44)
Required Level: 36
Required Strength: 65
Durability: 16
+150-190% Enhanced Defense(varies)
30% Faster Run/Walk
+5 To Mana After Each Kill
Increase Maximum Mana 10%
+200 Defense VS. Missile

 /\/\/\/\
| Gloves |
 \/\/\/\/
1:Trang-Oul's Claws - Heavy Bracers
Defense: 67-74 (varies)(Base Defense: 37-44)
Required Level: 45
Required Strength: 58
Durability: 16
+20% Faster Cast Rate
Cold Resist +30%
+30 Defense
+25% Poison Skill Damage
+2 To Curses (Necromancer Only)

2:Magefist - Light Gauntlets
Defense: 20.8-24.3
Required Level: 23
Required Strength: 45
Durability: 18
+20-30% Enhanced Defense
+10 Defense
+1 To Fire Skills
20% Faster Cast Rate
Regenerate Mana 25%
Adds 1-6 Fire Damage

 /\/\/\/\
| Amulet |
 \/\/\/\/
1:Storm Circlet (Crafted)
Required Level: 34
+2 to Sorceress Skill Levels
+2 to Necromancer Skill Levels
20% Faster Cast Rate
+18 to Strength
+55 to Life
+59 to Mana
+23% Fire Resist
+23% Cold Resist
+23% Lightning Resist

2:Mara's Kaleidoscope
Required Level: 67
+2 To All Skill Levels
All Resistances +20-30(varies)
+5 To Energy
+5 To Vitality
+5 To Dexterity
+5 To Strength

 /\/\/\/\
| Rings  |
 \/\/\/\/
1:Stone of Jordan (Two)
+1 to All Skill Levels
Adds 1-12 Lightning Damage
+20 to Mana
Increase Maximum Mana 25%

2:Caster Ring (Two) [Should have these stats on it]
10% Faster Cast Rate
+ to Life
+ to Strength
+ to All Resists

 /\/\/\
| Belt |
 \/\/\/
1:Arachnid's Mesh - Spiderweb Sash
Defense: 119-138 (varies)(Base Defense: 55-62)
Required Level: 80
Required Strength: 50
Durability: 12
+90-120% Enhanced Defense (varies)
Slows Target By 10%
+1 To All Skills
+20% Faster Cast Rate
Increases Maximum Mana 5%
Level 3 Venom (11 Charges)

2:Gloom's Trap - Mesh Belt
Defense: 79.2-102.5 (varies)(Base Defense: 35-40)
Required Level: 36
Required Strength: 58
Durability: 16
+120-150% Enhanced Defense(varies)
5% Mana Stolen Per Hit
Increase Maximum Mana 15%
Regenerate Mana 15%
+15 To Vitality
-3 To Light Radius

 /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
| Secondary Weapon & Shield  |
 \/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/
-The weapon is the only secondary weapon you should use. Therefore, I
will not be adding an alternative choice of weapon.

1:Call to Arms - Flail
AMN + RAL + MAL + IST + OHM
+1 To All Skills
+40% Increased Attack Speed
+200-240% Enhanced Damage (varies)
Adds 5-30 Fire Damage
7% Life Stolen Per Hit
+1-6 To Battle Command
+1-6 To Battle Orders
+1-4 To Battle Cry
Prevent Monster Heal
Replenish Life +12
30% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

1:Spirit - Monarch (MADE ONLY ON LADDER)
TAL + THUL + ORT + AMN
+2 To All Skills
+25-35% Faster Cast Rate
+55% Faster Hit Recovery
+250 Defense Vs. Missile
+22 To Vitality
+89-112 To Mana
Cold Resist +35%
Lightning Resist +35%
Poison Resist +35%
+3-8 Magic Absorb
Attacker Takes Damage of 14

2:Lidless Wall - Grim Shield
Defense: 91.8-347.3 (varies)(Base Defense: 50-150)
Required Level: 41
Required Strength: 58
Chance to Block: Pal: 50%, Ama/Asn/Bar: 45%, Dru/Nec/Sor: 40%
Durability: 40
Paladin Smite Damage: 14 To 20
+80-130% Enhanced Defense(varies)
+1 To All Skill Levels
Increase Maximum Mana 10%
20% Faster Cast Rate
+3-5 To Mana After Each Kill(varies)
+10 To Energy
+1 To Light Radius


Concerns on Equipment
--------------------------------------
So these comments and concerns were primarily brought up by KINGTURTLE. He 
emailed me stating a few things. He wrote:

"Looking at the list of items you have recommended I have noticed a common
trend that I feel is mistaken. Fcr is useless on the necro's psn nova.
Although it may seem exceedingly vital for this type of a caster build in this
case it is not. Psn does not stack therefore I feel you should not need to
recommend fcr rings, helms, and ammys. Instead I believe you should go for
more point and damage items such as sojs/bks for rings ect."

Now this topic can go back and forth. But in my opinion I believe KINGTURTLE
is BOTH wrong and right. He's right, poison damage doesn't stack, it resets.
So constantly casting Nova over and over will not add anything to the table.
In that regard you don't need large amounts of Faster Cast Rate (FCR). 
HOWEVER, the time it takes to cast that first Nova is still based on your cast
rate. If you're surrounded by monsters, you want to cast quickly and get out.
This shouldn't happen much in Single Player - you can always try to run away. 

Also I believe when IRONMAIDEN made these equipment suggestions, he was
focusing mostly on dueling. In dueling you want to keep moving, cast, and run.
Now for a Necro, the FCR breakpoints (when it takes one less frame to cast a
spell) are at 75 and 125. Will that couple of frames make a difference in a
duel? I doubt it, but I don't duel. Maybe it does. So it's a lofty amount.

Bottom Line- 

If you're playing PvM, I'd agree with KINGTURTLE. It does make a
small noticable difference when you get 30-40 FCR, but you probably won't need
huge amounts of it. I'd prefer (especially since I'm offline) to have more
Plus Skill points/resists/damage. 

If you're dueling (PvP) it might be more crucial, but that's a realm that I 
can't really advise on.


B. My Old Story - In case you want to read
--------------------------------------
All right. This section is to provide a bit more insight in how I did things
before I had all my best skills. It was a tough road, but fun and rewarding. I
find that I usually level more than a lot of people do. In this case, that
helped me, giving me attacks earlier and making me stronger.

**Act 1: Started out as a meleemancer/daggermancer. I ended up using 4 hotkeys.
You can use more, but I find it easier to stick to 4 or 5 so I can tackle them
all with one hand, not looking down, but still be near my potions and the
'alt; key.

F1: Poison dagger
F2: Amp. Damage
F3: Corse Explosion
F4: Clay Golem

I wanted this set up so I could upgrade my keys as I go, in this order:

F1: Poison Dagger -> Poison Nova
F2: Amp. Damage -> Decrepify -> Lower Resist
F3: Corse Explosion -> Poison Explosion
F4: Clay Golem -> Iron Golem -> Fire Golem

and at one point I had F5 as Decrepify while I used Lower Resist. Initially,
it was helpful against Mephisto, but I get ahead of myself...

So early levels are mostly the same for every character. But I ran the cold
plains and such for a bit to gain a few extra levels before Blood Raven. I
definately used the rogue merc then. The Golem was mostly a distraction for
the merc and I. I would run around, stab with my poison dagger, and run to the
next. This overall strategy stuck for a while. I never jump in any one stat
yet, kept pumping Strength, Dex, and Vitality fairly evenly. I needed the
strength for armor and dex for a good dagger. I leveled to 18 before I took on
Andy. This game me access to poison explosion. I would kill the mosters around
Andy, then have her chase me through a poison explosion.

<Note>
When you get access to Poison Explosion, level that skill instead of Poison
Dagger. It'll increase Poison Dagger's damage without increasing the time.
<End Note>

**Act 2: By then end of Act one, I had started to have strength and vitality
pull away from Dexterity. But by mid way through Act 2 I had 45 dex to get a
bone kris. At the very beginning of Act 2 I swapped my rogue for an offensive
merc. This merc gave me blessed aim so my Golem and I could actually hit
monsters. Plus he was melee, so I had two meat sheild in front of me. I would
allow them to go in front and distract monsters. When one died, I'd cast
poison explosion. Radamant gave me a bit of trouble because he'd raise
monsters as fast as my merc could kill them. I found a cold damaging weapon
for my merc helped freeze and break corpses.

I believe I was level 21 or 22 when I entered the Arcane Palace. I found that
my Clay Golem was dying a lot and very easily. I knew I wowuld need the
upgrate soon. SO I used that area and tomb ran until I was level 24 to face
Duriel. That gave me Decrepify and Iron Golem. The Iron Golem lasted a lot
longer and I could make him out of a cold weapon, giving him the ability to
freeze my enimies as well. For Duriel I had my Golem and Merc hit him, while
I cast Decrepify to slow him, and poisoned him with poison dagger. Stab, run
out of reach, Decrepify, stab, Town Portal home to revive merc and heal, and
repeat.

**Act 3: This first time through the forest was a pain because the flayers
would surround me. Same strategy, had merc and Golem atack out front, poison
explosion. THis point I had 51 Dex to get the next dagger. (BTW that's the
highest dexterity I've needed to date. After that I found a wand that gave plus
1 to all skills. Very helpful for low level novas) I got to Mephisto when I
was around level 27. He was a decent cookie, but since he didn't have a Holy
Freeze aura, I didn't think he was as bad as Duriel. But I used the same
strategy. Decrepify the whole time, hit him with p. dagger. I ran him a few
more times, then went on to act 4.

**Act 4: I found act 4 to be a pain. Tough monsters, hard to get experience.
I ended up getting to 3rd Waypoint. And realized I couldn't (or really didn't
want to) face Diablo until I got to the level 30 skills. So I started to
Mephisto run for better items and found Council and Meph running gave more
experience than killing most of the monsters in Act 4. So I ran. Didn't get
anything too special though; a circlet that gave plus 1 to necro skills and
10 to energy. Of course I got a few things for other characters. I used ATMA
to take those items, since I was single player. I did get a number of magic
find items which I basically still use since I'm not in the fray. Finally I
got to level 30. A Golem who could absorb fire, the Lower Resist curse, and
finally, your main attack, Poison Nova. So I went after Diablo. Fire Golem
didn't last as long as I thought: lightning attack wipped him and my merc,
even with Decrepify. So I did what a poison necro does best: cast Lower
Resist, and ran around Diablo casting Nova. Eventually, he fell.

**Act 5: Act 5 was a lot easier. Nova killed things pretty easily. I found I
could run Mephisto easier too. By the time I got to Baal, I was around 38-40
(can't remember exactly). Baal's minions were harder than him. All but the last
wave (which seemed to have a poison resistance), fell fairly quick as well.
Baal was too occupied by my merc and Golem to pay attention to me. And by then
I found my merc weapon which slowed him down as well. Made Baal a breeze. I ran
him for a bit, but when I got fustrated not finding any useful uniques, I
decided to move onto Nightmare.

**Nightmare was/is fairly easy for the first 3 Acts. Nova took care of most weak
monsters. I ran Andy and Meph for a bit, but didn't get much to drop. But I
still try to kill each of them before I continue on with the game/quests now.
I found I rarely use Poison Explosion now, Nova is just more convienient and
quick. Though it still helps for tough groups of monsters.

           -- This is when I originally wrote the guide--

**Nightmare Act 4 was a bit harder. I believe I was at about level 60 at this
time (doing MF runs still adds up in experience). It was harder is because I
ran into Venom Lords. In NM, they have an immunity to poison. Now while my
lower resist DOES take away their immunity, it still leaves them fairly
resistant to poison. So it took numerous Novas (4-6?) to take them down. I
relied on my merc and golem to do most of the damage to them. I just killed
anything else that came on the screen, and kept chipping away. Another method
is to save and quit, and reload the game, and hope that Venom Lords were taken
off the moster list for that round. I always cast Lower Resist before Nova on
groups of monsters now.

The chaos sanctuary was actually harder to go through than killing Diablo.
Venom lords were a pain, as was that unique one, and Oblivion Knights (right?)
cast Iron Maiden which hurt/killed my merc. Bastards. Diablo I handled like
other bosses now. Cast LR, and Nova. I let my merc hit him to slow him. Now I
tried getting him with my secondary weapon to slow/weaken him, but that "pink
lightning" skill hurt. So when my merc and golem fell, I decided not to run
immeadiately to town and let him heal. He can't heal if he's poisoned, and I
felt brave. So mostly I ran in a circle around him, casting Nova (and
recasting LR if needed). He mostly tried to hit me with that lightning, so
inbetween his castings, I had time to stop, cast Nova, and run again before
getting hit (I did take a few wacks from it, but I was able to heal with
potions). I did recast my Golem a few times, he didn't last long, but it
distracted him a bit. Diablo went down eventually, (I used all my mana potions
in my belt and inventory [7?]) but he didn't even drop a single unique! Sigh.

**Nightmare Act 5 is something I'm still working on. I was going to update
after I killed Baal, but I wanted to address the email I got from KINGTURTLE.
The Red Archers here were immune to poison as well and they killed me shortly
after I left Harrogath. I realized that it was time to hang up the Magic Find
gear and get some decent armor. After I killed Shenk, who dropped a Skin of
the Vipermagi, I decided to take those Tearhaunch Greaves out of hock (ATMA).
Then finally, Mephisto dropped a Lidless Wall Grim Shield. Great Shield for
any caster. I had Lazruk (spelling) socket it, and I threw a perfect Diamond in
to get some resists. Now I have +6 to skills ( +2 wand, and +1 on an ammulet,
helm [Sazabi's Mental Sheath], shield, and armor).  I'm at level 65, and though
I'm still maxing poison dagger, my Nova does an average of 2400 damage. I plan
to still kill Andy, Meph, and Shenk everytime I load up, then continue on in
Act 5, going for Baal. I'll keep updating if it keeps helping people.



--------------------------------------
XI. Contact Me
--------------------------------------

If you want to comment or ask questions feel free to email me. Unfortunately I
know this also opens me up to possibly recieving hate mail. I'll delete it.
I'm not going to respond, probably won't read it. Don't bother. If you want to
use a part of this guide, ask permission. Most likely I'll let you as long as
you credit me.

Email: timhickey18@hotmail.com



--------------------------------------
XII. Credit/Thanks
--------------------------------------

-The Arreat Summit (http://classic.battle.net/diablo2exp), for all the info
 I've gotten from them. 

-http://diablo.wikia.com, for helping me remember all the names and stats on
 certain items. 

-Gamefaqs for hosting my guides

-Thanks to the D2 offline community, Kel, Rking, Ras Algethi, Lucas, Explopyro,
 and anyone else who's name escapes me. They're a big help.

-Thanks to IronMaiden for let me use his guide and equipment stats.

-Thanks to KINGTURTLE for giving me praise, and good comments that I wanted to
 include in the guide. 

-Thanks to Jeremi S. who emailed me to ask a few questions and told me that my
 guide helped him out. It was great for the feedback.

-Thanks to you for taking the time to read my guide.