One of my favorite characters that I've ever played was my Diablo 2 Necromancer named Skulla. Inspired by a similar character named Skeletor that had been created by Sirian, Skulla was a Summoning Necromancer who specialized in the Raise Skeleton and Raise Skeleton Mage skills, backed by significant amounts of Curse support. There was an old saying among Diablo 2 players that sufficiently high levels of Iron Maiden and Dim Vision could get your character through pretty much any situation, and this was a variant that reinforced that mantra. Skulla was a Hardcore character and he made it all the way to the Ancients in Act Five of Hell difficulty before meeting his demise from a ridiculous 1700+ damage one-hit kill throwing axe from Madawc. It was my own fault though, as I should have bailed from the Ancients fight as soon as the Cursed aura went off. Madawc had actually rolled a Might aura, and the 4x damage bonus from Cursed + Might aura proved enough to one-shot my poor character. Despite the fact that Skulla came up short in his quest, he'd been an enormously fun character to play, someone with no direct damage capacity at all who functioned entirely through his summoned minions. As soon as I saw that the Necromancer had been brought back as a class for Diablo 3 (as a $15 downloadable extra, yuck) I knew that I wanted to recreate Skulla and adapt his summoning playstyle to the most recent incarnation of the series.
My goal with this new version of Skulla was to recreate my previous character as closely as possible. This means that the featured skills will be Command Skeletons and Skeletal Mage, the two skills that recreate Raise Skeleton and Raise Skeleton Mage from the prior game. Both of these skills work a bit differently in Diablo 3 (especially Skeletal Mage), which I'll discuss at length in the body of Skulla's report. The original Skulla made use of a Fire Golem, but only at low levels and mostly for Iron Maiden usage against the act end bosses, since D2's minions were essentially helpless against them. The golem was not a core part of Skulla's setup, and therefore I may or may not use Command Golem as a skill. The original Skulla didn't use Revive so the new D3 Skulla won't use Revive either, nor will he make use of Army of the Dead, Land of the Dead, or Simulacrum. I will need to generate Essence (the Necromancer class resource) in some fashion so I anticipate needing to use some skills that weren't part of the first Skulla's kit, Bone Spikes for sure and quite possibly Devour. That skill works a lot like the Paladin's Redemption aura from Diablo 2, and I have a fondness for that skill after using it with my character Meatbag. Finally, the new Skulla will definitely be using Decrepify again which looks to be a fantastic skill. I don't think I'll have slots available for Leech or Frailty, but maybe, we'll test them and find out.
The Summoning Necromancer is a build archetype in Diablo 3 with its own set of legendary equipment. I'm fortunate that there exists a gear setup to suit Skulla, as I've mentioned before that one of the greatest weaknesses of D3 is the fact that your characters have to be tailored around one of the class-specific sets or else they won't be viable for the higher Torment difficulties. For Skulla this is the Bones of Rathma set, the Necromancer-only set of six items designed to buff up your summoned minions. The two set item bonus decreases the cooldown of Army of the Dead, which is sadly useless for Skulla, but the four set item bonus grants up to 50% damage reduction which will be sorely needed. The complete set bonus is the biggie: up to 4000% damage bonus for all minions as long as there are 4 Skeletal Mages in effect. It should be trivially easy to keep four mages up and running at all times once Skulla gets the core of his gear together, and those mages combined with his skeletal warriors should have him toting quite an army around with him.
There's another legendary set that synergizes with the Bones of Rathma set which uses the two hand slots to avoid having a conflict. This is the Jesseth Arms set, which causes the skeletal warriors to automatically choose another target after the initial target of the Command Skeleton skill is defeated, and also grants another bonus of 400% damage to all minions while the Command component is active. Since the damage bonus applies to all minions, including any Skeletal Mages and Golems that might be active, the Jesseth Arms are a no-brainer for Skulla to search out along his journey. Hopefully I can roll an Ancient version of the weapon without needing too many attempts. Other critical legendary items include the Circle of Nailuj's Evol, a ring that raises two Skeletal Mages at a time instead of one and causes them to last for several more seconds. This is pretty much the core item as far as making use of Skeletal Mage, and there's a good chance that Skulla will be equipping it via Kanai's Cube at some point. Other fun stuff includes Tasker and Theo (minions attack 50% faster), Reilena's Shadowhook (more Essense from primary skills and bonus damage based on total maximum Essence), Bone Ringer (damage bonus from Command Skeleton increases each second until the target dies, great for bosses), and Dayntee's Binding (50% reduced damage while Decrepify is active on at least one foe). The obvious legendary gem choice is Enforcer, which boosts damage done by minions, and I can fill in the rest of the details with time.
Skulla will not be a Hardcore character for the reason I've described in my previous reports, namely that I'm not confident enough in having an uninterrupted Internet connection for the whole run of the character. (Both Spyderman and Snowbelle suffered deaths when my connection randomly dropped, and that would have been the end of their run if they had been Hardcore.) I miss the ability to play offline characters from Diablo 2 in this respect. Obviously I will do everything possible to keep Skulla alive while also looking to full-clear my way through the campaign up to Diablo. The ultimate goal will be to achieve a full clear of all bounties on the maximum Torment XVI difficulty and to clear Greater Rift 70 without dying. This is a pretty standard Necromancer build (aside from giving up on Army of the Dead and Simulacrum) so those goals should be pretty doable. I plan to do the campaign on Expert difficulty and then increase from there after defeating Diablo. As was the pattern for my previous characters, Skulla will be able to make use of the blacksmith and jeweler crafting designs that I found earlier to avoid having to upgrade the artisans again, and he won't have to extract legendary items into Kanai's Cube that have already been extracted. Otherwise he'll be own his own in this quest, needing to come up with his own items, his own gold, his own gems, his own crafting materials, and so on. No dumping a bunch of legendary items with their level requirements removed onto Skulla, or dropping Flawless Royal gems into a socketed weapon. That would make the whole early portions of the game a complete joke for a low-level character. Skulla will need to come up with his own gear - that's the whole point, after all.
And with that said, we're off on a fresh new journey! The clattering bones of the skeletal army walk the earth once again.