The Energy Sorc Guide, first draft The Energy Sorc Guide aka Zarhrezz' Guide to Insanity Introduction Insanity you say? Only if you feel that anyone taking a base vitality sorceress using no life boosting equipment (other than the incidental life/vitality that happens to be on her equipment chosen for different reasons) through hell is insane. Solo, of course. This guide is not a complete and fixed character guide like the ones commonly found in these forum. It outlines a basis for skills, stats and equipment to be used, but while the stat and equipment selection is quite limited, there is room in the skill department to give different flavors to this build. The basis is of course Energy Shield and how to base a character on it. This guide is aimed at PvM only, for the simple reason that an Energy Shield build is not viable in PvP, considering the damage ranges involved. What we need to know about Energy Shield Before we build a character on a single skills, we should first learn all we can about said skill. First let us look at what Energy Shield can do for us: Energy shield redirects a certain % of damage to mana, making the sorceress lose mana instead of life. The % is based on the skill level of Energy Shield. The maximum % that can be attained is 95%, at skill level 40 Energy Shield. This means that only 5% of the damage being inflicted on the sorceress will affect her life. Almost all types of damage are affected by Energy Shield, not affected are poison damage and life loss from Open Wounds. I'm not entirely sure about Crushing Blow, but from playing experience I'd say Crushing Blow damage is not affected by Energy Shield. The damage redirected to mana by Energy Shield is modified by a factor that is dependant on the skill points invested in Telekinesis. With no points invested in Telekinesis, each point of redirected damage will cost 2 mana. This means 100 damage inflicted upon a sorceress with a 95% Energy Shield and no points in Telekinesis will lose 5 life and 190 mana. This is of course not a good thing, luckily there is the synergy with Telekinesis to help out. Each point in Telekinesis lowers the factor at which prevented damage is taken from mana by 6.25%, which gives us the following formula: mana lost = damage prevented * (2 - 0.0625*TK) where TK is the total number of skill points spend on Telekinesis (so called "hard skill points"). With 20 skill points invested in Telekinesis, we find: mana lost = 0.75 * damage prevented. Repeating our previous example, we now find 5 life lost and 71.25 (72) mana lost. This is of course alot more manageble than the 190 mana lost that we found earlier. The power of Energy Shield and importance of Telekinesis become more profound when looking at the damage resolution order. If damage is inflicted on a character, certain steps are resolved in order before final life loss is determined and applied. For us, the following steps are of importance: Energy Shield: This is where the damage is redirected by Energy Shield and mana loss due to Energy Shield occurs. Damage Reduced by X/Magic Damage Reduced by X: The damage that is not redirected by Energy Shield is reduced by the appropriate amount and possibly nullified. Resistances: Resistances are applied. This phase does not just include the resistances listed in the character screen (Fire/Cold/Lightning/Poison) but also Magical damage and Physical damage (gained from equipment like Shaftstop). This phase is also where curses like Lower Resist, Amplify Damage and Decrepify are applied, as is Conviction. X% absorb: %-wise absorb is applied here. I won't go into details here, since we aim to avoid this phase. +X absorb: See above. Damage Goes to Mana: Mana is gained based on the amount of damage still left at this point. Ouch: Damage is applied to life. Mana Burn: Technically not part of the damage resolution, but part of the hit resolving that occurs after damage resolution. I mention it here to indicate that it will not take down Energy Shield before Energy Shield gets the chance to redirect the damage. Now what does all this tell us? First it tells us that our mana will take big hits, since Energy Shield will be redirecting unmodified amounts of damage to our mana. A huge mana pool is thus vital for the survival of a character relying on Energy Shield to stay alive. Secondly, (Magic) Damage Reduced by X takes effect after Energy Shield. Read that again, since it's the most important property of Energy Shield. The reduction is done on the damage not redirected by Energy Shield. For a 95% Energy shield, the amount not redirected is small and thus easilly negated by (Magic) Damage Reduced by X. If we go back to our previous example and give ourselves Damage Reduced by 7 (from socketing a Sol rune in our armor, for example), we see that the 5 damage getting through our Energy Shield is negated and we only take 72 mana loss. Now also consider that negative resistances (due to Nightmare/Hell penalty or being under Amplify Damage) only amplify damage that passes this stage, our path is clear: we will aim to not have any damage reach this stage (rendering us immune to negative resistances, Conviction, Amplify Damage, etc.). Note that by choosing this path, absorb gear and Damage Goes to Mana gear is rendered useless too. There won't be any damage in this stage for these mods to work on, so they will have no effect whatsoever. Another point worth mentioning is that Energy Shield is a skill that can be pre-buffed. See also the equipment section. Skill distribution Now that we know what Energy Shield does, we can outline our base build: Energy Shield: 20 Telekinesis: 20 Charged Bolt: 1 Lightning: 1 Chain Lightning: 1 Teleport: 1 Not much to it eh? With only 44 skill points allocated, we still have 47 skill points to distribute when aiming for level 80 with all quest that give skill points completed. Of course there are a few skills that deserve 1 skill points for almost any build: Warmth, Static Field and Frozen Armor. This means we'll still have 44 skill points unspend...and this is where your own creativity comes into play! Stat distribution Stats are pretty much tied down in this build. We will need all the mana we can get to keep Energy Shield up and running, so each and every point not strictly needed elsewhere should go into Energy. Strength depends on equipment, see the equipment section for recommended gear (and thus strength). To sum it up: Strength: 65 or 111 Dexterity: base Vitality: base Energy: everything else Equipment As you might have gathered by now, this is not a standard build, not a cookie-cutter build and now I'll just add that it's not a cheap build either. You'll need very specific gear, so you'll need to twink and be reasonably wealthy. As mentioned before, we'll need to cast a skill level 40 Energy Shield. Which means we need to get a +20 to Energy Shield when we cast it. Further we need all the mana boosting we can get. And we need a reasonable amount of Damage Reduced by X and Magic Damage is Reduced by X. This limits our equipment selection a great deal, but luckily the mods we require often come together. This gives us pretty much the following equipment setup/options: Armor: Options are Que-Hegan's Wisdom, Skin of the Vipermagi (13 MDR, resists irrelevant), Gladiator's Bane Headgear: Harlequin Crest Belt: Arachnid Mesh Boots: Silkweave Gloves: Frostburn, Magefist can be considered in some builds. Rings: Stone of Jordan Amulet: Any Amulet with needed +skills and mana/energy/damage reduction Weapon: Memory runeword in a staff with +1-3 Energy Shield. The mods on Memory are very good for this build, but for specific builds the staff can be used as a pre-buff switch to cast Energy Shield at skill level 40. If a switch weapon is used, the right skills for the build are most important, along with mana and energy. Shield: If a one-handed switch weapon is use, Lidless Wall is the shield of choice for it's +1 to skills, 10 Energy and 10% maximum mana. Note that with +6 Energy Shield and an overall +10 to +12 to (lightning)skills, we'll still need 2 to 4 Sparkling Grand Charms to reach skill level 40 Energy Shield. I never said that would be easy, now did I? On the bright side, you'll have a rather nice skill boost on any other skills you decide to use. Notes on play-style, things to watch out for and issues/bugs will follow later. Now I need sleep.