Patriarch Squid - Zisla Cultist Novamancer


Diabloii.Net Member
I thought I'd make a thread as a nice little wrap up for this character. The Squid was part of the Old Gods of Chaos tournament, which has its own rules in the thread but I'll outline the ones that applied to this character specifically. It was a self-found / purist playthrough. Although played in Softcore the character was to retire upon death as per tournament rules, which thankfully never happened.

Basic Rules:
  1. Hardcore or Softcore, but moved to Legacy retirement on first death. Softcore should be used (see Legacy below).

  2. Retirement is possible (if you want to reroll or for whatever reason). Also moved to Legacy on retirement.

  3. RWM/RRM may be used.

  4. Diablo version is up to you. Use whatever you want, make sure to tell us. Some version may be interesting for specific Gods.

  5. Stats. There is no rule regarding stats allocations unless specified otherwise by a God.

  6. Multiplayer permitted. Characters of different allegiance may duel. Characters of the same allegiance may trade.

  7. Player settings can be modified to suit your needs (/p).

  8. Buying/Gambling permitted en encouraged.

  9. Replays are allowed (and even encouraged) but not of act bosses. Any other area is fair game.

  10. Muling is permitted but some rules needs to respected (see Legacy below).

  11. Respec is not allowed

All characters: Cultists


+ Cultist may put points into any of their passives & synergies of their class.
(Synergies can't be used themselves if not permitted by their God & talents).
+ Cultists may use any skills permitted by their God & talents, either from their skill-tree, charges or gained from items.

Basic equipment:

+ All cultists may begin with muled in items from their Legacy*. This also includes The Horadric Cube. Of course the first character of each player will start with nothing muled in.

+ That can be used by all:
  • All consumable potions.
  • All scrolls, keys.
  • All gems, runes and jewels.
  • All quest items.
  • Any normal (white, no sockets): Cap, Quilted Armor, Leather Gloves, Boots, Sash.
  • Shrines (not items but usable by all)
+ For the rest, only items permitted by your cultist's God & talents may be used.


+ Any is permitted, but they follow the same rules for items & skills and only use what you can use.
+ Rogue mercenaries can be used by everyone regardless of their cold/fire arrow skill usage.

I chose to be a Cultist of Zisla, which has these additional rules:

Cultist of Zisla may use any Exotic items.
What are exotic items?:
+ Weird items*.
+ Any1.07 Runewords (be careful with these).
+ High Runewords (with 2+ runes Mal and up).

*Obviously the definition of a weird and exotic item is somewhat loose. Here's some examples:
Ultimately it comes down to you and your judgment. If you strongly feel that the item is exotic, use it and also present it since it should be quite interesting.

Favored weapons: Daggers, Swords, Wands.
A cultist can use any Normal (white, no sockets) version of these weapons.

  • Poison Dagger, Poison Nova
  • Venom
  • Blizzard, Chilling Armor, Frozen Armor, Shiver Armor, Thunder Storm
  • Cyclone Armor, Hurricane, Tornado, Twister
  • Items with Gold Find.
  • Any Kraken Shell armor.
  • Any item with the word “Squid, Whale”.
  • Rain, Rift runeword.

And finally, you get to spend points on Talents which unlock further items/abilities. I selected the following:

  • Any skill that gives you a temporary “buff”. (ex: Fade, Chilling armour)
  • Items with “Magic damage reduced”


  • You may use any item that boosts an entire usable skill-tree (for example, if you have access to all curses, then a +1 to curses charm is usable).
  • You may use any item that boosts a skill that you can use. (+ skill)
Charm Expert
  • May use any charm.
  • All Curses (skills)
  • Items with the word “Dark”.

A lot to pore over, but I suppose I can make a summary. What were some of the key differences between what this character could use and a standard Novamancer?
  • I didn't have access to Poison/Corpse Explosion, or any of the PnB skills except Dagger, Poison Nova, and Bone Armor.
  • The entire Summoning Tree was off limits
  • Any gear I could use often needed to have either Magic Damage Reduced (which made Safety Items very popular) or Gold Find.
  • Many of the typical Poison Necro items would have been unavailable to me by item restrictions. If I had found one however, I would have tried to bypass this by Personalizing the item to put "Squid" in the name, thus activating it by Zisla's rule. Despite the cheeky idea, it was never implemented.
  • The only Mercenary I could use was a Rogue Archer. There were very few weapons I could give her since few bows have the modifiers allowed. I usually bypassed this by socketing in a Jewel of Avarice among other gems/runes.
Here's the end game statistics of the character:

(X/Y Represents Naked/Geared values)

Level: 87
Strength: 70/75
Dexterity: 45/45
Vitality: 385/396
Energy: 25/60

[Note: Why 45 Dexterity? Early in his career he needed to use a Dagger for Poison Dagger, and there's no respecs in the tournament. In hindsight I should have just stuck to a regular dagger, it's not like the Physical Damage was important]

Defense: 1066
Life: 1147

Final Resists [Hell]: 75/75/63/54

Summoning Tree:

All Prerequisites to Lower Resist: 1/8
Lower Resist: 20/27

Poison and Bone:
Teeth and Corpse Explosion: 1/9 (Prerequisites, Could Not Use)
Poison Dagger, Poison Explosion, Poison Nova: 20/28
Bone Armor: 1/15
Bone Wall: 9/17 (Synergy, Could Not Use)

Poison Nova Damage: 3593-3796
Lower Resist: -65%
Bone Armor Absorb: 295

Note: Some useless modifiers omitted..

Rare Coronet: +1 Necro , +15 All , MDR 2, 44%ED
Safety Amulet: +1 Necro, +40 Mana, 35 Cold Resist, 1 PDR, 1 MDR, +1 Block
White [Runeword] Wand in a +3 Bone Armor Bone Wand
Que-Hegan's Wisdom (152%ED, 6MDR)
Homunculus (184%ED)
Safety Gauntlets: 6 Cold Res, 15 Fire Res, PDR 1, MDR 2
Rare Ring: 28 Lightning Res, 20 Fire Res, 7 Poison Res, PDR2, MDR 2
Safety Spiderweb Sash: 24 FHR, 22 Fire Resist, 5 Poison Resist, PDR 4, MDR 1, 80 GF
Safety Ring: 3 Min Damage, 5 Str, 1 Vit, 27 Cold Resist, PDR3, MDR4
Safety Greaves: 30% FRW, 6 Fire Res, 21 MF, PDR1, MDR2

Safety equipment was critical towards making sure I could equip items, as MDR seemed to be the easier modifier to unlock equipment.

For certain boss fights I sometimes fully filled my inventory with charms (usually just +Life Small Charms), but for regular adventuring, these were my charms.

Grand Charms:
+23 Life / +13 All Resist
+24 Lightning Resist
+27 Life / +30 Poison Resist

Large Charms:
+5 FRW / +10 Cold Resist
+13 Fire Resist
+30 Life
+8 All Resist

Small Charms:
+7 Fire Resist
+17 Life
+5 Lightning Resist
+20 Life
+17 Life
+17 Life / +7 Poison Resist
+9 Cold Resist / +3% MF

Free Space: Tended to be a 4x3 area, after Charms and Books were loaded in.

Belt: Was 4x4, usually 1 column Full Rejuv, 2 Column Healing, 1 Column Mana

Ended up with the following equipment:

Passion in a Great Bow (166%ED, 57%AR)

Treachery in an Ethereal Dusk Shroud

Hwanin's Splendor

Life: 1470
Resists (Hell): 44/75/44/44
Listed Damage: 218-606

In the parent thread for this character I describe his adventures more in detail, but some closing thoughts:

The build up to 30 was very discouraging. Running around with a white Kris trying to stab through swarms of enemies with Poison Dagger does not make for happy times. Even in Normal there's plenty of enemies resistant to Poison. I ended up killing the Council of all things multiple times on P8 to level up to 30 before proceeding. I felt slightly less helpless at this point. Regular characters of course would simply rely on Summons or Corpse Explosion to get them to this point, so it was a fairly niche problem.

Poison Nova is actually a pretty fun ability, and since I was maxing Lower Resist aiming curses wasn't a problem, so you really could focus on positioning and running away. I had a Stealth that lasted me all the way into Hell that definitely kept me alive on more than one occasion.

From Act 4 NM onwards, my lack of a well geared Mercenary was obvious. It was slow going to grind through Poison Immunes with a Rogue Archer using an Ort Socketed Bow (and a Jewel of Avarice burning one slot). I had to be patient and creative with how I killed certain bosses. If you're going to go Mono-Element (which you probably shouldn't) you should at least have a good Mercenary, hah. Another problem that Corpse Explosion or Summons could have resolved.

My closest call was probably the stair trap in Hell Ruined Temple, I had a few close calls and S&E's this playthrough as I'd often try to just sprint past Poison Immunes in Hell with mixed results. Still, I managed to avoid death and finished every Quest to maximize points for the tournament.

My most reckless moment was probably when I tried to kill Hell Nihlathak. To get through the front door I had to Terror Pindle's squad and simply run through them. I'm fairly certain two charges would have just killed me-- I was hit once.

My highest Rune drop was a Vex, found in the Tower Cellar, although it was dropped by a random Devilkin.

The most dramatic fight probably goes to the final Throne Room battle in Hell. Achmel was Stone Skin and Cold Enchanted (he's already mega-Poison Immune) and so I had to dance around him to position my mercenary to kill him. I eventually ended up terroring all the Skeletons and Burning Souls out of the throne room to stop him from reviving them. The entire Act 4 wave needed to be parked in a corner of the map.

I was pretty impressed with my end resists, given the item restrictions. I owe a lot of this to having charms (and finding quite a few good ones). I'm sure not having to hunt after FCR on my gear might have helped as well.

If I had the Runes, I would have finished with a Delirium on the Mercenary. She was already throwing out all sorts of status effects. If I wasn't a Necro who wanted to have a Curse on enemies already, I might have appreciated it more.

Poison Nova Necros make for very amusing Cow Killers. Despite this, I was never able to find a base Wand with +3 Poison Nova that I was then able to get two sockets in to make a White.

Doors, Walls and Barricades were the most depressing enemy to fight.


That's everything that comes to mind. Overall it was a very fun, challenging and rewarding playthrough and I highly recommend the Old Gods of Chaos tournament. :)
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Diabloii.Net Member
Late to the party, but very well done !!! And thanks for the nice write-up :).

Any plans with this character now that it has finished it's quest? Are you going to convert it to a standard Venomancer and hunt for the best items for him, or just leave him as he is?


Diabloii.Net Member
Appreciate it. I'm not sure what I want to do with the character now that he's finished. I definitely see the potential in Cow/85 area running with Poison Nova and this was even without the staples/specialties of the build (Death's Web, Trang Gloves, Poison Facets, Trang Shield, Bramble if you want to go all out, etc).

I definitely think that'd be fun to assemble since I bet it'd be a thing of beauty to see it in action and it'd be a fairly unique build for me as this was my first foray into Poison Necros. Due to potential hyper-specialization it's also appealing in that the items he may want are very straight forward which adds a simplistic, clear goal setting charm to it, not to mention many items are unlikely to be fought over with other characters. Definitely a benefit to the niche!

One of the reasons I started playing Single Player was to be able to explore the less trodden builds (to me at least) so it's definitely appealing. I've been mulling over some other characters I want to play, but I can definitely see the Squid falling out of retirement.

At 87 he's also pushing towards one of the highest level characters I've had. Maybe I'll try to push him to 90 for the novelty of being in a more exclusive club. I'll leave the 99 goals to you folks for the time being though, hah.