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Abyss Stacking Ethereal Knives Ascendant Build

Abyss Stacking Ethereal Knives Ascendant Build

An Ascendant build that uses Spirit Charges with multiple Abyss Jewels and Abyssal Items to deal tons of mixed Spell Damage

Ethereal Knives
Ascendant Build

Updated for Patch 3.21

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Guide notes
June 14, 2023
-Build created
Build overview



Boss DPS:



Patch 3.21 has introduced a significant change to most of the Abyss-themed items, Lightpoacher and Shroud of the Lightless amongst them. The Body Armour makes you Penetrate 4% Elemental Resistances per Abyss Jewel affecting you, and the Helmet grants you an extra 5% of Physical Damage as Extra Damage of each Element per Spirit Charge. Spirit Charges are gained on Kill and last for 10 seconds (you can only have as many of these Charges as you have Abyss Jewels). You will also need to retain them - they tend to be consumed each time you use a Spell to Trigger Spirit Burst Skill, and you don't want that (we will explain how to achieve it later). To get as many Spirit Charges and Abyss Jewels you will need to allocate a lot of Jewel Sockets using Skill Points, that's the main reason to pick Scion - this character gains more Skill Points than other classes. We managed to accumulate 19 Abyss Jewels, resulting in 95% extra Fire, Cold, and Lightning Damage based on Physical Damage, which already quadruples the base damage. It also grants 76% Elemental Damage Penetration, which is unheard of in regular builds.

We've selected one of the best Physical Damage Spells - Ethereal Knives. To boost Spell Damage simply increase its Gem Level, link it with multiple Support Gems, and use proper Auras. The most efficient way to exploit the circumstances we've set up is to increase the base Physical Damage and invest in Critical Strikes. Shroud of the Lightless doesn't allow you to socket a six-link setup there, and while using a Bow may be a good idea, having The Squire Shield with a particularly good Wand/Dagger yields the best results. As for the other gear pieces, we've used other Abyss-themed items - Command of the Pit, Bubonic Trail, and Darkness Enthroned. To accommodate more Abyss Jewels use variants with two Abyss Sockets. It leaves little to no space for other Skills - you still need Auras, Movement Skill, Guard Spell, and a Curse. The defenses were merely an afterthought, but due to the multiple Abyss Jewels, you can get some extra Maximum Life on each resulting in around 6k of it.

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1. Gameplay

Use Ethereal Knives against all types of enemies. Choose Flame Dash, Steelskin, and Sniper's Mark for your Movement Skill, Guard Skill, and Curse respectively. For Auras we recommend Zealotry, Haste, Herald of Ash, and Vitality. You may replace Haste with Grace for better defensive capability and Herald of Ash with Herald of Purity for more damage but worse clear speed.

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • The price is tied to the specific Abyss Items and varies depending on the quality of your Jewels and their availability
  • Extremely high damage, one of the highest in the game
  • great mobility and clear speed
  • it has relatively low survivability
  • you have to avoid Tormented Spirits or Map mods that impair your Flask Charges generation


3. Leveling tips

The build is good only on leveled-up characters, it needs to host a lot of Abyss Jewels. We recommend getting to level 85 or so by other means. You will have to respec a lot of Skill Points, there's no way around it, the build is just too specific. Use our Scion Leveling Guide. It uses Caustic Arrow and Ballista Totems.


Kill all three bandits and be rewarded with two additional Skill Points


Leveling Skill Trees:

27 Points Passive Tree
Get some Maximum Life and Bow/DoT nodes.

62 Points Passive Tree
Continue gathering Maximum Life and Bow, Chaos, and Damage over Time nodes. Get Charisma too to fit in more Auras.

4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

100 Points Final Passive Tree (doesn't include Cluster or Unique Jewels)
124 Points Path of Building (PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Assassin
  2. Path of the Shadow
  3. Deadeye or Pathfinder (for Flask Charges)


Major God: Soul of the Brine King: You cannot be Stunned if you've been Stunned or Blocked a Stunning Hit in the past 2 seconds

Minor God: Soul of Ryslatha: Life Flasks gain 3 Charges every 3 seconds if you haven't used a Life Flask Recently; 60% increased Life Recovery from Flasks used when on Low Life


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Ethereal Knives setup
use The Squire if you can
Ethereal Knives Ethereal Knives - You're looking for a Spell that deals Base Physical Damage. There are limited opportunities to Convert the damage and you don't really need to do so. Ethereal Knives is probably the best Skill - it's simple, has great AoE, and can be upgraded with Nimis.
Empower Empower Support - Increases Gem level of Ethereal Knives resulting in more damage.
Inspiration Inspiration Support - Lowers Mana Cost, increases Crit Chance, and Elemental Damage. Use a Divergent one for 44% Reduced Mana Cost. Combined with a Flask that reduces Mana Cost, Militant Faith Jewel, or other Jewellery items, it should cost no Mana at all.
Power Charge on Critical Power Charge on Critical Support - Generates Power Charges on Critical Strikes, which is often, and grants more damage per such Charge.
Other recommended Support Gems which can be found as Wand/Sceptres Modifiers (Rune Daggers too, but the pool is more diluted with useless mods there). Simply select two as Support Gems for a six-link setup if you're using a Bow.
Increased Critical Strikes Increased Critical Strikes Support - Can be found as Shaper Suffix on a Wand. It increases Crit Chance, which is good if you still need it. You probably will, It's hard to get 100% of it without this Gem.
Increased Critical Damage Increased Critical Damage Support - Can be found as Elder Suffix on a Wand. Use it if your Crit Chance is particularly high, it's one of the best Support Gems if you met this condition.
Spell Echo Spell Echo Support - Can be found as Elder Suffix on a Wand. A significant damage enhancement - the Skill is beating repeated with increased Cast Speed. We heavily recommend the Awakened variant for even more damage.
Faster Casting Faster Casting Support - Can be found as Shaper Suffix on a Wand. It simply grants more Cast Speed.
Added Fire Damage Added Fire Damage Support - Can be found as Shaper Prefix on a Wand. Adds extra Fire Damage sourced from Physical Damage, it's actually quite good even if you have a lot of Spirit Charges already.
[UTILITY] Helmet setup
socketed in Lightpoacher (2 Abyssal Sockets)
Archmage Support Archmage Support - It's needed here to increase the Mana Cost of Spirit Burst, which is a Spell that comes with the Lightpoacher. If the Cost of it is too high it won't trigger and you won't lose your precious Spirit Charges. It will cost only 1 or 2 Mana, so the character should stay below this threshold at all times. All your other Skills should cost 0 Mana.
Spirit Burst Spirit Burst - Automatically consumes all your Spirit Charges when you use any Skill. You don't want to do that, the damage it causes is too low and it's better to keep these charges for a passive bonus. It has no Mana cost by default.
[DPS] Various Gems
socketed in Shroud of the Lightless (2 Abyssal Sockets)
Steelskin Steelskin - A Guard Spell that stops Bleeding at mitigates a portion of incoming damage for a duration.
Flame Dash Flame Dash - Use it to move faster or avoid precognited attacks.
Sniper's Mark Sniper's Mark - Enemies affected by it receive increased Projectile Hit Damage.
Inspiration Inspiration Support - Use a Divergent one to lower the Mana Cost of all linked Skills.
[UTILITY] Arrogant Aura setup
Vitality Vitality - Keep it at Level 1. You can use Precision Precision or Clarity Clarity instead, it doesn't really matter as long as it reserves an insignificant amount of Life.
Arrogance Arrogance Support - You have to have some of your Life Reserved. If you're not on Full Life, you will lose 20% of your Mana each second due to the Agnostic Keystone. It ensures that you have exactly 0 Mana constantly. You'll still be able to cast Spells due to the Inspiration Support Gems.
[UTILITY] Other Auras
these don't need linking
Herald of Ash Herald of Ash - Adds Fire Damage sourced from Physical Damage, increases, and grants more Spell Fire Damage. Slain enemies will inflict Burning all around them which enhances clear speed. Use Herald of Purity Herald of Purity if you want more Physical Damage, it results in higher DPS.
Zealotry Zealotry - Grants more Spell Damage and Spell Critical Strike Chance. It's the best damage-wise Aura.
Haste Haste - Increases Movement and Cast Speed. It's great if you value Clearing, but consider these alternative options - Grace Grace for Evasion, Determination Determination for Armour, or Hatred Hatred for pure DPS.


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6. Gear Setup

We've taken drastic measures to maximize the number of Abyss Sockets. We have selected five Unique Abyssal gear pieces with such sockets in them - Lightpoacher, Shroud of the Lightless, Command of the Pit, Bubonic Trail, and Darkness Enthroned. Also, The Squire is a great addition we've used alongside a Rare Wand with multiple built-in Support Gems. This way it's possible to have a 9-link setup despite the limited availability of regular Gem Sockets. The multiple Abyss Jewels should get you all the stats you normally would associate with a generic Spell-caster - Cast Speed, Maximum Life, added damage to Spells, and Crit-adjacent mods. The build varies a lot in price because of these Jewels, you can get them for 1c or a few Divines each. Get around 18 of them and one Unique Kurgal's Gaze. Energy Shield is insignificant. Don't reduce the Mana Cost of Skills by a flat amount (like 7), but by percent (like 7%), it would make your Spirit Burst cost 0 Mana, and that's bad.

Our recommended items will:

  1. Cap your resistances at 75%
  2. Provide you with enough DPS and Life to start mapping

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Elemental Resistance until capped
  2. Maximum Life
  3. Reduced Mana Cost of Skills 
  4. Gem Level of Ethereal Knives
  5. Critical Strike Chance
  6. Critical Strike Multiplier
  7. Cast Speed
  8. Chaos Resistance
  9. Added Damage to Spells
  10. Attributes (Strength and Dexterity)
Lightpoacher(Helmet) Lightpoacher (2 Abyssal Sockets) - A core element of the build, it grants you the extremely powerful Spirit Charges on Kill, and also the undesirable Spirit Burst Skill, which we've managed to disable with Archmage Support Gem socketed there. It grants tons of extra Elemental Damage to Ethereal Knives.
Has 2 Abyssal Sockets
Trigger Level 20 Spirit Burst when you Use a Skill while you have a Spirit Charge
+(10-15)% to all Elemental Resistances
+1 to Maximum Spirit Charges per Abyss Jewel affecting you
Gain a Spirit Charge on Kill
Gain 5% of Physical Damage as Extra Damage of each Element per Spirit Charge
Helmet enchantments:
30% increased Ethereal Knives Projectile Speed
40% increased Ethereal Knives Damage
Ethereal Knives fires Projectiles in a circle
Bow(Weapon) Rare Bow - You may want to use a Bow instead of our recommended Squire setup. Here you will need to get the mods that'd increase the Level of Socketed Gems, Support Gems, and some Global Critical Strike modifiers. It's the cheaper option.
Min. requirements:
+1 to Level of Socketed Gems
+2 to Level of Socketed Support Gems (crafted)
Global Critical Strike Multiplier
Optional affixes:
increased Projectile Speed
increased Spell Damage
chance to deal Double Damage (crafted)
Wand(Weapon) Rare Wand/Sceptre - A good Wand or Sceptre can be immensely expensive, but powerful. Look for the built-in Support Gems with additional Cast Speed or Global Critical Strike modifiers. It's used only with The Squire.
Min. requirements:
at least two of the listed built-in Support Gems
Optional affixes:
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 20 Increased Critical Strikes
Socketed Gems are supported by Level 20 Increased Critical Damage
Socketed Gems are supported by Level 20 Spell Echo
Socketed Gems are supported by Level 20 Faster Casting
Socketed Gems are supported by Level 20 Added Fire Damage
increased Critical Strike Chance for Spells
Global Critical Strike Multiplier
increased Cast Speed
Gain #% of Physical Damage as Extra Lightning/Cold/Fire/Chaos Damage
The Squire(Off-hand) The Squire - It lets you link additional three Support Gems to your main-hand setup, which results in a lot more damage. Don't worry about increased Mana Cost, your Skills (except Spirit Burst) should cost no Mana.
Has 3 Sockets
All Sockets are White
+(5-8)% to Quality of Socketed Support Gems
Socketed Support Gems can also Support Skills from your Main Hand
(100-150)% increased Armour and Evasion
+(3-5)% Chance to Block
Quiver(Off-hand) Rare Quiver - If you're using a Bow, combine it with a Rare Vile Arrow Quiver. It should increase your Maximum Life, Global Crit Chance/Damage, and grant you some extra Elemental Damage sourced from Physical Damage. It's also where you can Convert some of your Physical Damage to any other type of Damage, but it's not that important.
Min. requirements:
+80 to maximum Life
Gain 15% of Physical Damage as Extra Cold/Lightning/Fire Damage
Global Critical Strike Multiplier
Optional affixes:
increased Projectile Speed
increased Global Critical Strike Chance
increased Burning Damage
#% of Physical Damage Converted to Fire/Cold/Lightning Damage
Elemental Resistances
Shroud of the Lightless(Body Armour) Shroud of the Lightless (2 Abyssal Sockets) - This Body Armour grants you tons of Elemental Penetration and some Maximum Life sourced from the number of your Abyss Jewels. Use the version with only two Abyss Sockets. Three Abyss Socket may work too, but you'd have to give up Flame Dash or Steelskin Skills.
+(20-25) to maximum Mana
Has 2 Abyssal Sockets
Penetrate 4% Elemental Resistances per Abyss Jewel affecting you
20% chance to Trigger Level 20 Shade Form when you Use a Socketed Skill
(160-180)% increased Evasion and Energy Shield
1% increased Maximum Life per Abyss Jewel affecting you
1% increased Maximum Mana per Abyss Jewel affecting you
Bubonic Trail(Boots) Bubonic Trail (2 Abyssal Sockets) - Grants two Abyss Sockets, increases your Movement Speed, Reduces Ailments Duration on you, and increases Reservation Efficiency. The required Jewels don't need to be socketed in this particular item.
Has 2 Abyssal Sockets
Triggers Level 20 Death Walk when Equipped
(24-32)% increased Movement Speed while affected by a Magic Abyss Jewel
(60-40)% reduced Duration of Elemental Ailments on You while affected by a Rare Abyss Jewel
(16-24)% increased Reservation Efficiency while affected by a Unique Abyss Jewel
Command of the Pit(Gloves) Command of the Pit (2 Abyssal Sockets) - Use these Gloves for two Abyss Sockets, Cast Speed, Maximum Life, and Arcane Surge on Hit. Be sure to socket the Hypnotic Eye Jewel Here, that's the blue one.
Has 2 Abyssal Sockets
(6-10)% increased Cast Speed
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
With a Ghastly Eye Jewel Socketed, Minions have +1000 to Accuracy Rating
With a Hypnotic Eye Jewel Socketed, gain Arcane Surge on Hit with Spells
Darkness Enthroned(Belt) Darkness Enthroned - In this Belt, you can socket two of your most treasured Rare Abyss Jewels. It's better than a Rare Stygian Vise unless you have a very good one already.
Has 2 Abyssal Sockets
(50-100)% increased Effect of Socketed Abyss Jewels
Stygian Vise(Belt) Rare Stygian Vise - If it's too difficult to have all your Flasks up permanently, which is a requirement, use Stygian Vise with various Flask modifiers such as reduced Flask Charges used, increased Flask Charges gained, Flasks applied to you have increased Effect, and increased Flask Effect Duration.
Min. requirements:
+80 to maximum Life
various Flask modifiers
Optional affixes:
Gain Alchemist's Genius when you use a Flask (Essence)
Elemental Resistances
Mageblood(Belt) Mageblood - We try to avoid mentioning Mageblood. We all know it's good, but here, in particular, is even more so. It could reduce the Mana Cost of your Skills (except Spirit Burst) with just one Flask by 100%. It solves a lot of other issues.
+(25-35) to Strength
+(30-50) to Dexterity
+(15-25)% to Fire Resistance
+(15-25)% to Cold Resistance
Magic Utility Flasks cannot be Used
Leftmost (2-4) Magic Utility Flasks constantly apply their Flask Effects to you
Magic Utility Flask Effects cannot be removed
Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - Try to increase the Ethereal Knives Gem Level by one or even two with the Amulet. Maximum Life, Cast Speed, and Critical Strike modifiers are great as well. You can Craft a Prefix for a 5% Reduced Mana Cost of Skills if need be.
Min. requirements:
+50 to Maximum Life
+1 to Level of all Physical Skill Gems
Optional affixes:
+1 to Level of all Skill Gems
Global Critical Strike Multiplier
increased Global Critical Strike Chance
increased Cast Speed
5% reduced Mana Cost of Skills (crafted)
Recommended Anointments:
Natural Remedies
Marked for Death
Ring(Ring) Rare Ring - We've mentioned that you can get all the necessary Resistances from Abyss Jewels, however, it is better to get them on a Ring. Jewel's Suffixes are more valuable. Remember to have some Maximum Life here too. Optional modifiers are Global Crit Multiplier and Reduced Mana Cost of Skills - not flat, but percentage.
Min. requirements:
+50 to maximum Life
+70% to Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Global Critical Strike Multiplier
Chaos Resistance
5% reduced Mana Cost of Skills (crafted)
Nimis(Ring) Nimis - Nimis makes all the Projectiles return to you. It's probably the best-in-slot Ring as it quite literally doubles your damage per Cast.
+(20-30)% to Lightning Resistance
+(30-50) to Dexterity
(25-35)% increased Projectile Damage
Projectiles Return to you
Projectiles are fired in random directions
Abyss Jewels(Jewel) Abyss Jewels - For Prefixes look for added Damage to Spells, preferably Physical, and Maximum Life. For Suffixes - Cast Speed and Critical Strike modifiers, preferably Crit Multiplier or Cast Speed if you've Crit'd recently. One of them has to be Magic due to the Bubonic Trail's bonus.
Recommended affixes:
Maximum Life
Crit Chance
Crit Damage
Added Damage to Spells
increased Cast Speed
Kurgal's Gaze(Jewel) Kurgal's Gaze - Increases the effect of Arcane Surge on you, it translates to more Cast Speed.
+(10-20) to Intelligence
8% increased Effect of Arcane Surge on you per
Hypnotic Eye Jewel affecting you, up to a maximum of 40%
Militant Faith(Jewel) Militant Faith - Try to get a Militant Faith Jewel that reduces Mana Cost of Skills per 10 Devotion and one that doesn't have a negative impact on your Notables, as they may or may not get transformed. It's purposeless if you already have reduced your Mana Cost enough by other means.
Carved to glorify (2000-10000) new faithful converted by High Templar (Avarius-Dominus-Maxarius)
Passives in radius are Conquered by the Templars
<two random mods of devotion>
Brutal Restraint(Jewel) Brutal Restraint - Another way to have your Flasks up permanently, is to give up some of them and pick the Traitor Keystone from Brutal Restraint. It's not an ideal solution, but good enough if you see no other way to get enough Flask Charges because you haven't picked the Pathfinder Ascendancy. You can use only one Historic Jewel.
Denoted service of (500-8000) dekhara in the akhara of Balbala
Passives in radius are Conquered by the Maraketh
Forbidden FlameForbidden Flesh(Jewel) Forbidden Flame & Flesh - All Ranger's Keystones are good. Pathfinder is used for Flask Charges sustain, Raider increases mobility, and Deadeye - Damage (to sum it up briefly). Pick one that is currently the cheapest.
Allocates <Random Ascendancy Notable> if you have the matching modifiers on Forbidden Flesh
Allocates <Random Ascendancy Notable> if you have the matching modifiers on Forbidden Flame
Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Large Cluster Jewel - Large Cluster Jewels are primarily used for extra Jewel Sockets, but their secondary role is also of the essence. Get three copies with the Elemental Damage bases. Sadist is the best Notable to have on all three Cluster Jewels.
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Sadist
1 Added Passive Skill is Prismatic Heart
1 Added Passive Skill is Doryani's Lesson
1 Added Passive Skill is Widespread Destruction
Medium Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Medium Cluster Jewel - There's not much space left for Medium Cluster Jewels, the build is short on Passive Skill Points already, but if you really need the extra Critical Strike Chance, get Basics of Pain and Quick Gateway Notables.
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Basics of Pain
1 Added Passive Skill is Quick Gateway
The Writhing Jar(Flask) The Writhing Jar - Spirit Charges will disappear after 10 seconds. Some boss fights have long invulnerability phases, so to not lose them, release Worms from time to time and kill them, the 10-second counter resets this way. You can do it indefinitely as you passively generate Flask Charges.
Recovers (120-168) Mana over 5.00 seconds
Recovers (435-609) Life over 5.00 seconds
Consumes (16-18) of 40 Charges on use
Instant Recovery
(75-65)% reduced Amount Recovered
2 Enemy Writhing Worms escape the Flask when used
Writhing Worms are destroyed when Hit
(20-10)% reduced Charges per use
Atziri's Promise(Flask) Atziri's Promise - It adds tons of extra Damage sourced from both - Physical and Elemental types of Damage. Chaos Resistance and Life Leech are excellent additions too.
+35% to Chaos Resistance
Gain (5-8)% of Elemental Damage as Extra Chaos Damage during effect
2% of Chaos Damage Leeched as Life during Effect
Gain (5-8)% of Physical Damage as Extra Chaos Damage during effect

Suggested Flasks:

  1. Silver Flask with increased Cast Speed
  2. Quicksilver Flask with reduced Mana Cost of Skills and increased Effect
  3. Diamond Flask with increased Crit Chance
Silver FlaskThe Writhing JarDiamond FlaskAtziri's Promisequicksilver flask

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If you have any other build requests please leave that in the comments below. We are always open to suggestions and constructive feedback.

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