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In what ways are Wandering Spirits minions, and in what ways are they not?

The Wandering Spirits skill is a bit of an odd duck. The skill’s tooltip says “The damage scales with your increases to minion damage, but the spirits do not count as your minions.” That doesn’t quite seem to tell the whole story, though.

In some ways, it acts like it summons minions:

  • The damage dealt by the spirits scales with your minion damage stats, and not with your own damage stats, as described in the tooltip.
  • It counts as a minion skill for purposes of stuff that cares about whether you’ve used a minion skill, and even stuff that specifically cares whether you’ve summoned a minion, like the Dark Rituals passive (demonstrated here).

In other ways, the spirits don’t act like minions:

  • They don’t trigger minion death events.
  • They aren’t targetable by skills that can target minions, like Sacrifice.

And then there’s some that I’m just not sure of:

  • Can the damage dealt by the minions leech? If so, does it use your leech amount or your minions’ leech amount? Who does the life get leeched to?
  • Do the spirits use your chance to inflict status ailments, or your minions’ chance to inflict status ailments?
  • Do they count as minions for stuff that cares about how many minions you have summoned, like the Unholy Trinity node for Hungering Souls?
  • When they kill enemies, does it count as you killing the enemy?

I’ve done some testing and answered most of the questions I had about this skill:

Yes, the damage can leech. it’s leeched to you, and uses your leech amount.

Testing: I entered Reaper Form, waited until the health drain exceeded my regen, and then activated Wandering Spirits. As soon as the spirits started damaging enemies, my life started going up again.

For the most part, this is a moot point, as their default behavior (floating around dealing necrotic damage over time) never hits, and therefore can’t inflict status ailments at all. However, the projectiles fired by the Spectral Putrescence node do hit. With this node allocated, the spirits use your chance to inflict status ailments.

Testing: I arranged my gear/passives so that I had a global ignite chance on my hits, but my minions did not, and allocated Spectral Putrescence. Enemies hit by the poison projectiles were frequently ignited.

Haven’t tested this one yet, will edit if I do.

Yes, kills by the spirits count as your kills.

Testing: Killed a bunch of enemies with the spirits and noticed a bunch of on-kill effects (like Putrid Wraiths from the Wraith Bringer passive).

So, for the most part, it appears that aside from scaling with minion damage, the spirits do not in general count as minions. The fact that they proc the attack and cast speed from Dark Rituals appears to be a weird exception.

Thanks for all this, I’ve wondered the same thing. I also wonder why clearly communicating how you made a skill seems to be such a hard task.
I definitely recommend the devs take another look at this skill, because trying to keep minions alive is sucking at the moment.
It seems like the spirits were designed as a utility skill for intelligence builds that were scaling minion damage but not minion life, or something. In any case, I’ve tried scaling intelligence, damage, poison, fear, chill and never found them worthy of a skill slot, so until there is a rework, I’ll leave them be.

Wandering Spirits are not minions, but there are two ways in which they’re similar to minions:

  1. Casting Wandering Spirits counts as using a minion skill.

  2. Wandering Spirits’ damage is affected by “increased minion damage”, and other such minion damage modifiers.

I’ll amend the tooltip in game to make this clearer.

EDIT: as of April 2020 this information is outdated. Wandering Spirits no longer scale with any minion stats, and casting it does not count as using a minion skill.

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Does 1 mean that the Dark Rituals passive doesn’t actually care about whether you’ve summoned a minion recently, but whether you’ve used a minion skill recently? If so, its tooltip should be updated.

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