Matriarch Kementiri, Cannon of Tempered Glass I haven't been active in the forums as of late, but this doesn't mean I've stopped playing the game. In fact, I've been playing a fair bit, and now I'll share my latest matriarch (and yes, the name- but not the character herself- is recycled from a previous melee sorc of mine). First come the numbers. Str: 90 (130) Dex: 75 (80) Vit: 170 (258) Ene: 180 (185) Life: 504 (705) Mana: 493 (704) LCS Damage: 3621-9472 Warmth, Enchant, Fire Mastery, Telekinesis: 20 hard points each Energy Shield, Static Field, prerequisites: 1 hard point each Lightning Mastery: 8 hard points and counting (future points go here) Skill boost: +3 to all When making a melee sorceress, Enchant is generally a key skill. Even those lacking any hard points will usually acquire it somehow. Not only does it offer more than the recommended daily intake (or is that output?) of fire damage, it also gives a healthy attack rating bonus (at least for characters with decent base AR). Of course, the problem with Enchant is that it deals only fire damage, and so an alternate flavor of damage is helpful in Nightmare, and essential in Hell in order to cope with immunes. The usual approach seems to be to stuff the backpack full of lightning damage charms (or 'electric biscuits', as AJK calls them) and crank Lightning Mastery. However, I've been running the Hellforge a good deal in my absence, and decided there was an obvious (though expensive) solution. Imagine my surprise when I searched the forums and couldn't find any thread detailing someone else's previous account of their experiences- it seems I'm the first! Kementiri cheesed her way through Normal and almost all of Nightmare with Chain Lightning, Energy Shield, and a fire rogue merc. Since she didn't do full clears, she was only level 60-ish in mid-Act V. A bit of leveling to 65 allowed her to use most of her endgame gear, and more cheese was used as stats were reallocated to morph her into the killing machine she had long been dreaming of. At level 65, she was garbed in the following: Dream diadem (20% FHR, boo, hiss) Prudence e-bugged archon plate (in retrospect, Iron Pelt with a Sol would likely have been better) Laying of Hands (from v1.07; fire was no longer dangerous) Thundergod's Vigor (lightning was no longer an issue either) Sandstorm Trek (ethereal, +70% poison res) Mara's Kaleidoscope Raven Frost Stone of Jordan Once she hit level 85, she swapped out the Prudence for a v1.07 Gladiator's Bane socketed with Sol and the Raven Frost for a Nature's Peace. At this point, her tankworthiness soared. In her hands she held an Infinity war scythe. This was the centerpiece of the build, with my reasoning being that the aura solved most problems with immunities as well as the to-hit dilemma. As an added bonus, the -enemy lightning resist meant that she'd be doing maximal lightning damage with minimal lightning mastery. The war scythe was chosen because it's relatively fast (it's in the fastest speed bracket for polearms), the requirements aren't too steep (meaning more life and mana), and the reach is impressive. In fact, the weapon's reach was greater than that of most (all?) enemies, meaning she usually got a free hit in while they were closing to melee range. Most of the time, this was enough to put a foe into hit recovery, and another hit or two would take them down. Monsters that she initially expected to maul her in short order (like thrashers and frenzytaurs) went down with naught but a wimper. I'm very happy I used this base type, and another benefit is other characters can use it easily (such as if I want to make a skeleton mage necromancer). Of course, there were plenty of times when she was subjected to arrows, swords, spears, and other assorted pointy or otherwise hurty things. This was where her trusty sidekick Azrael came in. Azrael held an aurifying beatstick of his own: Insight. Coupled with his innate Prayer aura, this kept Kementiri's life and mana at healthy levels for the most part. The guy was a walking recharge station, and except when given the task of tanking mana burners, explodey dolls, or other nasties, his job was to simply stay alive. Of course, Kementiri was well acquainted with his 'fool's rush in' approach to staying out of trouble, so she gave him a Delirium helm to help him appeal to crowds. All in all, I found she played a lot better than I'd anticipated. She was somewhat fragile with the lack of a shield and low defense, but her Energy Shield compensated pretty well. Once she hit level 85, she could tank quite well against most enemies, and mana burn bosses weren't the instant death I expected, thanks to the large (compared to a standard ES sorc) life pool and good PDR/MDR. I considered using a cold Iron Wolf to add another damage type, as well as a Harmony-using rogue (the theory being that the broad-spectrum elemental damage would be bolstered by the Conviction aura, and a ranged attack would provide safety for the merc), but I'm really glad I chose the merc I did. Energy Shield performs pretty well when Telekinesis is maxed out and your 700-ish mana pool recharges from zero to full in under 11 seconds. Bits of damage that filter past the shield are regenerated in short order thanks to a respectable level of Prayer plus a synergised Meditation. If anyone has a non-ethereal Infinity, or the ability to make one, I highly recommend this build. It's a lot of fun. Just imagine a Vengeance paladin with Teleport. This girl kills just as well, but because 'attack' can be mapped to the right mouse button, you're doing a lot less mad clicking. Also remember that although the paladin may reach higher LCS numbers with Vengeance, a sorceress gets her Fire Mastery and Lightning Mastery applied on top of what the LCS says (at least that's my understanding). In other words, damage may be double or triple (or more, with good +skills) what the LCS indicates, and that's before the Conviction aura kicks in. That's huge! The lack of heavy physical damage on her weapon (which was only relevant when facing unbreakable FI/LI monsters) wasn't much of a drawback thanks to the huge crushing blow. Her apparent frailty at first made me play quite cautiously, but I soon learned that the best defense is a good offense. Teleporting into a pack (or to the edge of the pack, if it was especially nasty) followed by a few swings made short work of many foes. This approach was especially handy with packs that would make many pale with fear, like Might or Fanatacism aura bosses, as her weapon could often reach the boss, taking it and its aura out of the equation. To extend the paladin analogy a bit further, Teleport followed by a quick hit is like the sorceress's version of Charge. A few tips for any thinking of giving this a try: If you use Delirium for crowd control, be especially wary of cursed bosses. This is the single most annoying and dangerous boss mod (yes, even more so than mana burn) because it overrides the Confuse curse from the Delirium, turning a docile pack into an angry swarm. If your merc is a melee one, he is quite likely surrounded and killed in short order. If you go with the rogue merc, then it's not as much of an issue (unless you're in the middle of the pack, of course). Get some FHR. This goes without saying, and the biggest disappointment in making this character was the lousy worst-possible roll on Dream's FHR stat. I suppose it's partially made up for by me getting a perfect roll on the resists, but at least for this character, the resists (besides poison) don't matter much at all. You can do without the Dream helm, if her performance against FIs is any indication. Just grab a stack of AJK's aforementioned electric biscuits. The biggest benefit of Dream may be that Lightning Mastery gets applied twice (once to the aura that adds lightning damage to your attacks, and a second time when you hit and deal that damage). I'm not 100% sure on this point, but it's worth looking into. Likewise, Gladiator's Bane can easily be replaced with Iron Pelt, as long as you toss on some 'cannot be frozen' gear. Kira's Guardian, Raven Frost, and even Death's Guard are possible choices, with a Cham rune in the helm or armor topping the bang-for-buck list (j/k). The only non-negotiable part of the build is the weapon, and even that can be made in a different base type if you like. Just remember, while the exceptional and elite polearms offer more damage, using a normal base weapon offers more flexibility. Remember that the lion's share of your damage will be elemental, and if you run up against an unbreakable FI/LI, you've got big crushing blow and the 'prevent monster heal' mod, so you can take your time. You also want a fast weapon, since this lets you apply the largest share of your damage- elemental- as often as possible. I found 20% IAS from my gloves to be sufficient, but socketing another 10% would have knocked a frame off my attacks, giving me about 8% more damage over time. Something I considered was using Shiver Armor. Lightning Mastery could lose a few points and still be viable, and chilling enemies that attack could help if mobbed, but frankly, I don't think it's necessary. Feel free to try it and let me know what you think.