General Necromancer strategy guide V1.0 by Caliph 9/4/01
Context: 0) Legal Stuff
2) The Necromancer
5) Set Items
7) Imbue rule
8) Money, Money, Money
9) Secret Cow Level
12) Authors Note
0) Legal Stuff
This guide is protected by international copyright laws. You are not allowed to bla, bla,
bla. I'm not to interested what you do with this guide. You can use or misuse it as you
wish. As they say, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I might get upset if you
use this guide to gain monitory profits from it, but as long as I do not find out, I guess
it's okay. Seeing that you may misuse this guide I take no responsibility for any
accidents or people insulted in the use of this guide.
This is a general strategy guide for the Necromancer. I'm not going to tell you how I
played, but rather give you a few ideas on how to play with him. The wisdom I bestow on
you comes from a level 70 Necromancer and depending when you read this he might well be
2) The Necromancer
The Necromancer comes from the southern swamps, where he had spent years studying the
mysteries of life and death. His studies paid of greatly. Now able to control undead
minions (similar to the forces of Hell) he poses a threat to Diablo and his brothers that
they can not ignore.
Many people will tell you the Necromancer is the most difficult character to play with.
This is not true. He is challenging, but not the most difficult one. The difficult part
comes in to decide what skill should receive your next skill point, as all three skill
trees should be used, and how you are going to kill the next monster. There are numerous
ways of killing Diablo and his minions.
There are two main strategies for the Necromancer to follow. The Summoner or the Battle
Necromancer. The Summoner uses his creatures as main weapon with curses and bone spells as
support. This differs with the Battle Necromancer which uses the bone and poison spells as
his main weapon with the others as support.
I completed the game (killed Diablo in Hell difficulty) as a Summoner. After Level 50 I
began pushing skills into the poison and bone spells tree. Effectively my Necromancer can
function as a Summoner or a Battle Necromancer.
3.1) The Summoner
This is the natural strategy for the Necromancer as he is by definition capable of raising
hordes of undead. The summoning tree can be divided into three parts: skeletons, golems
The first creature you can raise is the skeleton. Don't put too many skill points into
this one. Ideally just one to reach Skeleton Mage, rather put those skills points you were
thinking about into Skeleton Mastery. They are not for your skeletons but for the skeleton
mages and revived creatures later on. Your skeletons are weak even boosted with Skeleton
Mastery and are only effective in Act I, but in Act I you also receive Skeleton Mage. Put
a few skill points into this until the mages can hold their own in combat. Their hit
points don't increase with level, thus they are always stuck on 61 life. This becomes a
problem from Normal Act III onwards. Ranged units have a field day with them.
Use the mages to range attack the enemy as your own skeletons and golem engage them in
melee combat. Given enough bodies you can keep raising mages until you have the desired
collection. Use the Unsummon skill to remove the unwanted. The fire and lighting does the
most damage, with fire the most. Cold slows the enemy down, but tends to shatter the
bodies, leaving you with nothing to raise. Don't let your whole party consist of cold
mages - this might leave you with nothing to raise. Poison does kill, but slowly.
Generally go for a fire party which packs more fire power. The skeletons will carry your
cause through Normal, but they will not kill the end of level bosses, (with the exception
of perhaps Andariel) they are just too weak. They will be replaced with the revived
creatures after Level 30.
The golems are a very important part of the Summoners armament. When continuing with a
game you have no skeletons or revived creatures with you. You also have no bodies either.
The golems are the only creatures you can summon without bodies. With a golem summoned and
an Iron Maiden in place you will soon have bodies lying around. As you can only summon one
golem, you have to choose, what I like to call, your primary golem to take you to Level
99. There are four golems to choose from: Clay, Blood, Iron and Fire.
The Clay Golem is your first golem. It does the least damage of all the golems (except
Iron Golem, but he doesn't work with melee damage), but is the only golem to gain hit
points as its level goes up. A Level 20 Clay Golem has 765 hit points. This hit points is
boosted up with Golem Mastery. In the low levels the Clay Golem has a decent hit rate and
damage, but later on he gets beaten up. Taking Clay Golem as your primary golem is a bit
tricky as it is a bit weak against end of level bosses. If you choose Clay Golem, don't
bother putting any skill points into the other golems.
The blood golem shares its life with you and vice versa. This poses a big problem as soon
it has more hit points than you, which is soon. If it dies, you die. It has life steeling
capabilities, but it does not increase much with level. Blood golem is a risk as your
primary golem. You will have to summon another golem if it is going to die, then you might
just as well have chosen that golem. If you insist on taking blood golem, you still have
to put a skill or two into Iron or Fire golem as your secondary golem.
Iron golem is the most fun golem of all. Its build in thorn ability is ideal for its task
- to create bodies for you. This returned damage increases with 15% after level 2, which
gives you 420% at level 20. Couple this with Iron Maiden and you have a good end of level
boss killer. The fun part comes in that Iron Golem is raised from a metal object and that
it retains the properties of the object. Use armour to increase its defence or weapons to
add elemental damage. Go find yourself some nice rare unique weapon or armour and watch it
kick some ass. Iron Golem is a good primary golem with its only small weaknesses that you
must have a metal object to summon it, and that it returns only melee combat.
Fire Golem does the most damage with Level 20 doing 57-155 fire damage. It also has a
build in fire aura. It doesn't do very much damage, but it is the thought that counts.
Another very useful ability for nailing end of level bosses is that when it dies it
explodes and does fire damage to everything around it in a small radius. The aura and
explosion damage increases with level. The Fire Golem is a tough golem and eventually the
choice of primary golem comes down between it or the Iron Golem. You can't go wrong with
either. I chose Fire Golem, but that is only because I like to see things burn.
Golem Mastery must be as high as possible. This skill boosts your golems life and speed.
The speed is handy (it is the only creature that will keep up with you) but the life is
essential. Find a good balance between skill points into your primary golem and mastery.
Generally your mastery should receive more skill points, boosting the life of your golem
Your golem will help you kill monsters to have bodies to raise undead, but it will also
help you to kill end of level bosses, in Normal and Nightmare. When facing the end of
level bosses, always have a portal open near you, make sure you have enough mana potions
(save them up). Cast Iron Maiden on the boss and keep an eye on the golems health. With
Clay and Iron Golem summon a new one next to the boss just before it dies. Make sure you
have enough metal objects lying around for your Iron Golem (bring some along). If you take
a boss on with Blood Golem - good luck, you will die. If you play with Fire Golem, let it
die, it explodes, damaging the boss, quickly summon another one. If you have to, return to
town to regenerate your mana.
Revive. The ultimate goal of the Necromancer, even the Battle Necromancer. Go call your
friends, throw a party, you have done it. You have REVIVE. You can now revive almost any
creature, except champions, unique monsters, end of level bosses, Cliff Leapers, Oblivion
Mages and those Loch Ness monsters in Act III.
You will soon build up a mental database of what creatures to revive and what not. Here
follows some guide lines:
Don't revive slow moving creatures such as zombies. You have to wait forever for them and
they tend to get lost. This goes also for the Maggot Egg Layers. Rather go for quicker
creatures that can stay with as the Maggot Young. As you can revive anything, build up a
balanced force of melee and range attacks. Ideally you will want one that can do both -
the Abyss Knights(Act IV) falls into this category.
As the revived creatures are only with you for three minutes (very long in Diablo II)
there are few tricks to prolong their usefulness. Use your curses to support them. Iron
Maiden when they are outnumbered (in Nightmare) and Amplify Damage when they outnumber the
enemy (in Hell). Also try to revive monsters at an interval. This prevents all of them
dying at once. Push skill points into Skeleton Mastery to increase their damage done.
In Nightmare your revived creatures will not be strong enough to kill the bosses, but in
Hell Diablo himself will not be able to stop you (from Level 50 onwards)
The support spells are important for the Summoner, particularly the curses. There are
various curses, but Amplify Damage, Iron Maiden are the two most commonly used. Other two
that could be possible be used is Weaken and Life Tap.
A great end of level boss killer is Deceiptify. Its short time period makes it only
effective against bosses or uniques, but it is very effective against them. It slows them,
weakens them, and amplifies the damage. Don't put more than one skill point into any
curse, except Iron Maiden. The other curses only increase their time period and range.
Terror is handy to keep creatures off you which slips past your creatures. Terror does not
work on champions or uniques, so keep a town portal handy if one of these corners you.
The poison and bone skill tree is not that important. Bone Armour is handy. Teeth is
useless. Corpse Explosion is useful, except that is destroys the bodies you are trying to
use. You might want to put a few skill points into Bone Spear, to help your golems handle
the bosses, especially is Normal. This tree becomes redundant as soon as you hit Revive.
The Summoner gives you in the end a fairly stress free path. Armour, dexterity and life is
not that important. This gives you points to push into energy. In the end you can relax
eat your sandwich in peace while your creatures butcher everything in their way.
3.2) The Battle Necromancer
After Level 50 I started putting skill points into the poison and bone tree and was
surprised by its strength. Theoretically if you concentrate on this tree from the
beginning you will also be able to complete the game. Here follows a theoretical strategy
for completing the game as a Battle Necromancer.
With the Battle Necromancer you will use your creatures to hold the monsters off you long
enough to kill them with your bone or poison skills. The best creatures for this are your
golems. Use the guide lines in the previous section to choose your primary golem. You will
not push as many skill points into this as the Summoner. The same goes for the skeletons.
You will still need your skeletons and your revived creatures, but in smaller quantities.
The curses still play an important role and are applied in exactly the same way as for the
Summoner. Terror becomes even more important as you have fewer creatures to cover you.
Cast Terror on a group of creatures and hit them in the back with Bone Spear or Bone
Spirit as they are running away. Use Iron Maiden and Amplify damage as the situation calls
for it. Don't be afraid to cast Iron Maiden, rush in yourself and taking the hits.
It takes a while before you are able to use useful skills in the poison and bone skill
(Level 12 with Corpse Explosion). This forces you to get your hands dirty and bash in a
few heads. Until about Level 6 your attack rating is still high enough without putting any
dexterity points into it. If you are lucky you will find a weapon with a bonus to your
attack rating, but at Level 6 you receive Poison Dagger, with a build in bonus to your
attack rating. Put one or two points into this skill to boost the decent poison damage.
Poison Dagger as the name implies works only with daggers. This limits its usefulness a
bit to Act I, but later in Nightmare and Hell the daggers get better, but you will need a
high dexterity to use them. In the higher levels you may continue with Poison Dagger. At
level 20 is does 168 to 217 poison damage. From Act II onwards if you want to run around
with other weapons, preferably with a fast attack speed or higher, you must put some
points into Dexterity to raise your attack rating.
Put only one point into Teeth, no more. It is a waste of skill points. Rather put those
spare skill points into Bone Armour. Those points you were about to put into Skeleton
Mastery, put them into Bone Armour. It protects you against melee and ranged attacks,
except elemental damage. Bone Armour with Iron Maiden works well.
Bone Wall and Bone Prison are two very underestimated skills. They are defensive skills,
but could also be used offensively. An interesting combination is trapping creatures in
Bone Prison, casting Terror on them (this prevents the creatures from breaking the prison
for the duration of Terror) and nailing them with Bone Spear or Bone Spirit. My favourite
is trapping creatures in the Bone Prison, then casting Iron Maiden on them and watching
them kill themselves trying to brake the prison. The above combinations can also work with
Bone Wall, but Bone Wall is only effective in Dungeon areas. Also only one skill point is
required for each of these skills, but if you are not going to use them don't bother with
Corpse Explosion is your first good offensive skill. The target body explodes and does a
percentage damage equal to its total hit points in a radius around it. This skill works as
well in Normal Act I as in Hell Act IV. Put skill points regularly into this skill, as
this is your primary weapon, to increase the effective blast radius. It is great for
clearing large groups, but will not kill the bosses - you run out of bodies to explode.
Your skeletons are slowly becoming redundant. With your Bone Armour on you can run in with
a battle axe, whack one monster and start with Corpse Explosion. Soon nothing will be
left, there will also be nothing left to raise for you or the other revivers such as
Shamans or Greater Mummies.
There is also the poison option. Poison Explosion creates a poisonous cloud from a body.
It cost less than Corpse Explosion, but also does less damage and takes time to kill.
Poison Explosion leads to Poison Nova. Like the Sorceress's Nova's it damages everything
in a radius around it. Poison Nova also takes time to kill. Poisons are interesting to
play with, but Corpse Explosion is preferred. Use the poisons with Terror to keep the
monsters away from you until they die.
Once you receive Bone Spear the need for melee combat from your part decreases. Use the
Bone Spear and later on Bone Spirit to kill one monster and then finish the rest of with
Corpse Explosion. Bone Spear does less damage than Bone Spirit, and is piercing, hitting
everything in its path. Bone Spirit does more damage and is seeking, you don't have to
aim, it automatically seeks out the strongest unit, or follows the unit if you aimed. Bone
Spear and Bone Spirit will also be the skills you use to kill the end of level bosses. Put
points into Bone Spear until you receive Bone Spirit (Level 30). With a level 20 Bone
Spirit (324 - 334) you will kill the toughest normal unit in Hell with four shots.
The Battle Necromancer has three options when it comes to killing the end of level bosses.
The first is to use his golem similar to the Summoner. This will only work in Normal, in
Nightmare and Hell they are just to weak(not many skill points went into them). The second
option is to pick the bosses of with Bone Spear or Bone Spirit. Be prepared to run around
a lot, dodging poison, lightning or fire. The last option is the Bone Prison-Iron Maiden
combination. Cast multiple Bone Prisons on the boss. You will notice the wall "thickness"
increases. Cast Iron Maiden on the baddy. As soon as one prison is broken cast another. If
you choose this strategy put some skills points into Iron Maiden(to increase the returned
damage) and Bone Prison(to decrease the casting cost).
It is tough to get the Battle Necromancer going. Mana is your biggest problem. The
Necromancer doesn't have Warmth as the Sorceress has. His mana regeneration rate does
increase with level. My Level 70 Necromancer, without Warmth, has about the same
regeneration rate as my Level 30 Sorceress, with Warmth. You will have to dodge and run a
lot. Mana regeneration items will be essential and you will have to visit the towns often
to recharge your mana, or if you are really patient you can wait for your mana to
The low level items for the Summoner and Battle Necromancer (up to about Level 20) differ,
but eventually they will aim for the same items. If everything goes well and you have all
the perfect items all your skills are boosted by nine, yes I said nine.
The Summoner will go rather for wands boosting his relative skills as Skeletons Mastery,
Golem Mastery etc.
The Battle Necromancer will go for weapons as daggers, swords or axes. Weapons that steel
mana helps with the mana problem. Weapons that steel life and mana and boosts your attack
rating is perfect. After he receives Bone Spear he might begin to search for wands that
gives him +3 to Bone Spear and mana bonuses. Keep this wand for end of level bosses.
Eventually both Necromancers will want to search for a Necromancers Wand. This wand gives
+2 to all Necromancer skill levels.
The Battle Necromancer should go for armour with a high defence while he is running around
slicing things. For the Summoner and high level Battle Necromancer defence is not
important. Defence only counts for melee combat. Rather wear armour with good bonuses for
mana and resistances.
The best armour for the Necromancer is the Silks of the Victor, an Ancient Armour. Stats:
Defence = 232, Durability = 255, Strength Required = 100, +2 to light radius, 5% mana
stolen per hit, +1 to all skill levels.
It is rare to find this armour, but the +1 to all skill levels is worth the search. The
required strength is high but if you put points regularly into strength you will reach
this mile stone at high levels.
Other two more findable armours are the Darkglow ring mail and the Goldskin full plate
mail. Both armours give good resistance bonuses.
4.3) Gauntlets, Greaves, Belts, Shields and Helms
The gauntlets , greaves, belts, shields and helms follows the same rules as for the
The gauntlet to look for is the Frostburn gauntlets. Stats: Defence = 43, Durability =
120, Required Strength = 60, Enhanced damage, Increase maximum mana with 40%, Adds 1-6
Cold Damage, +30 Defence.
The +40% mana is the key feature, it also has a good defence.
The greave to look for is the Tearhaunch Greaves. Stats: Defence = 23, Durability = 120,
Required Strength = 70, Faster Run/Walk, All resistances +10, +10 Defence, +5 to
Dexterity, +5 to Strength.
The resistance boost is the key feature. The +5 to strength helps you to reach the 100
strength mark faster.
The belt to look for is the Nightsmoke belt. Stats: Defence = 5, Durability = 80, Required
Strength = 25, 50% damage taken goes to mana, Damage reduced by 2, All resistances +10,
+20 to mana.
This is a great belt. Boosting mana and resistances and reducing damage.
The shield to look for, believe it or not, is Sigon's Guard Tower shield from Sigon's
Complete Steel set. Stats: Defence = 23, Durability =120, Required Strength = 75, Required
Level = 9, Successful Blocking = 69%, increase change of blocking, +1 to all skill levels.
The skill level boosting is the key feature, with the high chance of blocking a bonus.
The helm to look for is the Wormskull Bone Helm. Stats: Defence = 34, Durability = 200,
Required Strength = 25, +1 to Necromancer skills, 5% life stolen per hit, Poison resist
25%, +10 to mana.
The key feature is the +1 to your skill levels. The poison resist and added mana is handy
4.4) Rings and Amulets
Find yourself some prismatic rings and amulets (+X to all resistances), but ultimately go
for the following:
Try to find a Necromancers amulet(+2 to Necromancer skills), more likely you will find a
Summoner's amulet(+1 to Necromancer skills), but it is good enough.
The Stone of Jordan is the ring to find. Stats: +1 to all skill levels, Increase maximum
mana 25%, Adds 1-12 lightning damage, +20 to mana.
The trick is to find one of these babies, they are rare. An even bigger miracle is to find
two of them.
5) Set Items
There is just one set that is useful to Necromancer, the Infernal Tools. The chance is
good that you will find this set while still Level 30 or under, before you start finding
the above goodies.
Infernal Tools stats:
Complete Set: +1 to Necromancer Skill levels, +20 chance of open wounds, +20%
to attack rating.
Infernal Buckle Heavy Belt: Defence = 31, Durability = 36, Required Strength =
45, Required Level = 5, +25 to defence, +20 to life
Infernal Torch Grim Wand: One-Hand Damage = 3-14, Durability = 30, Required
Level = 5, +1 to Necromancer Skill Levels, +8 to
minimum damage, +150% damage to undead
Infernal Cranium Cap: Defence = 3, Durability = 24, Required Level = 5, 20%
damage taken goes to mana, +10 to all resistances
A three piece low level set for +2 to Necromancer skills. Not bad. Try gambling for the
Cap and Heavy Belt, they are not that expensive.
As you have probably noticed, I tend to focus on resistance when it comes to items. That
is because in Nightmare you receive a -20% penalty to all your resistances and in Hell a
If you have a negative resistance the damage is amplified from that given source. This is
very bad in Hell, when a Ghoul Lord hits you with a Meteor, doing well over 100 fire
damage. If you are hit with multiple Meteors and your fire resistance are not high...then
you are dead, no matter how many rejuvenation potions you have.
Now there is the problem that if you have all your skill boosting goodies on, your
resistances are all negative. The solution is simple. Through the game collect resistance
boosting items such as prismatic rings and amulets. Create a prismatic shield. Collect
three perfect diamonds, find a socketed shield (with a high change of blocking). This
gemmed shield will give you between +50% to +60% to all resistances. So when you run into
monsters with elemental damage (Abyss Knights, Oblivion Mages, Ghoul Lords, Uniques with
lighting or fire auras) just switch your skill items with your resistance items. Usually
it is enough to just change your shield and one ring or amulet.
7) Imbue Rule
In Act I Chansi promises to you, as a reward to one of your quests, to imbue one of your
items(makes a normal item unique). Fight your urge to imbue the first best thing you can
get your hands on. Rather wait until you have completed the game on the given level. Grab
the best version of the item you want to imbue. For example I chose armour. In Normal Full
Plate Mail is the best, in Nightmare Ancient Armour. Usually the best items are found in
Act IV. Go back to Chansi and imbue that item.
8) Money, Money, Money
You will need lots of gold in the game. Why? Silly question - to gamble with. Gambling is
expensive but worth it. You are more likely to find your goodies gambling than picking
them up from slain monsters.
The gold you pick up makes up only a small portion of your income. Your major source of
income is items. Not unique items but normal items. This doesn't mean you must pass up an
opportunity to pick up an unique item. Here follows some general rules for maximum gold
* Only take superior items
* Pick improved defence or damage over improved durability or attack rating
* From most value to least: Armour, Shields, Helms, Weapons
* Don't even bother with gloves, belts or boots
* Take the highest version of an item
* The higher the defence, damage, durability the higher the value
* Repair the items before you sell them, the sell value added are always more
than the repair costs
* 25000 gold is the maximum sell value, if your item has that value already
don't repair it.
* Superior Harpoons with improved damage and attack rating is a guaranteed 25000
* Look for wands, sceptres and staves that boost three skills
Gold boosting items, like a Ring of Greed, is only useful in Normal Act I and Act II,
while you still receive squat for items. Later on in Nightmare and Hell, if you are truly
greedy, carry a gold boosting item with you. Equip it just before you kill Champion
monsters. The 107% extra gold on 2000 gold is not too shabby.
9) Secret Cow Level
To reach the Secret Cow Level, you must first complete the game, go back to Act I(use the
waypoints if you must) to Tristam to find Wirt's leg. In the Rogue's Encampment put the
leg and a Tome of Town Portal in the Horadic Cube. Transmute. A red portal to the Cow
Level appears. You can repeat this as many times as you like. If you don't like the layout
of your current cow level, start a game on a different level then save and exit, start the
game at the level you want to enter the cow level. For example if you entered the cow
level in Normal and want a new layout, save and exit, start a game in Nightmare, save and
exit, start a game in Normal, go through the process to open the portal and you have a new
Use Corpse Explosion to clear the masses of cows. Keep Terror at hand, you will need it.
If you have Revive up and running use it instead of Corpse Explosion, it is more fun. Pay
Andariel a visit with your Hell Bovines(the cows). You can also use the Bone Prison-Iron
The Secret Cow Level guarantees at least one unique item per visit by killing The Cow
King. There are also lots of gems to grab. Nice to help you build up that three perfect
diamonds. Visit it as often as you can.
If you are looking for cheats here, shame on you. There are cheat programs to alter your
character and money, but this totally defeats the purpose of the game. If you just alter
your character to have the skills you want or cheats in a million gold pieces there is no
need to play the game.
I will give you one tip: In Nightmare and Hell you lose experience points when you die, a
lot of experience points. To prevent this, when the situation is hopeless and you are
about to die, press save and exit. You must do the area over again, but trust me it
is preferable to loosing the experience points. Chances are good that you will die at an
end of level boss. Make sure you level up just before fighting a boss. If you die you will
loose no experience points as your experience points can't drop below your level.
It is said that the Paladin is a natural party leader and thus the best party leader. The
Necromancer challenges and matches the Paladin for this status. The Paladin, with his
auras, boosts the party's defence, resistances, damage done, attack rating etc. The
Necromancer, with his curses, amplifies the damage taken by monsters, lowers their
resistances, lowers their damage done, slows them etc.
The Necromancer is also the only character that can save the party's ass with Terror if
they are surrounded by a swarm of maggots.
The strategy for multiplayer does not change from the single player. Treat your party
members as if they were your creatures. Apply your curses as the situation calls for. If
you are a Battle Necromancer use them to distract the enemy while you blast them with
poison or bone spells.
If you are a Summoner there are two classes you'll want to avoid as party members. The
Barbarian in a lesser way and the Sorceress in a big way. The Barbarian has two skills
namely Find Potion and Find Item that destroys bodies. It is quite possible to convince
the thick headed Barbarian not to use this skills in exchange for the potions and items
you find. The Sorceress with cold spells causes the same problem as your mages with cold
damage - they shatter the bodies you want to use. Try and convince a Sorceress to remain
passive and just stand there and look pretty - good luck. If you are stuck with a
Sorceress or an uncooperative Barbarian, split from your party, raise your skeletons and
return, but if you use Revive, the problem will persist. It is then better for you and
your party to part ways, maybe you can convince a sexy Amazon to join you instead of the
Barbarian and Sorceress.
12) Authors Note
If you have any questions, comments, hints or disagree with me feel free to E-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Just do it politely, I have some scary friends who know quite a lot
This document is copyright Caliph and hosted by Neoseeker with permission.