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Toxic Meltdown: An Aura of Decay Lich Guide (Beta 0.7.1b; Arena 100+)




My name is Stormquake, and this is my Aura of Decay build-guide, updated as of Beta Build 0.7.1b. If you enjoy living in a constant state of stress and wondering if your body is going to dissolve at any moment, then this is the build for you! You also might enjoy this build if you’ve played builds like Righteous Fire in Path of Exile, as the way you would build and play is somewhat similar. I’m not level 100 yet, so I guess this build isn’t done, but I’m still happy with it!

Anyway, here is the guide, broken into the following 6 sections. Please note that each drop down is rather large, which is why I compressed them in the first place!

Part 1. Gameplay Preview

Just to give you a basic idea of what this build is about, here is a video of me breaking Arena wave 100 with the current setup. It should show enough of how the build plays in order to get you ready for the other sections! Please excuse the audio issues, the game was unhappy with how many sounds were playing and I can’t do much about that!

Part 2. Build Summary

To introduce you to the basic concepts of this skill, Aura of Decay is an ability that poisons enemies in its radius 3 times every second, while poisoning the user 1 time a second. Poison is interesting in that it deals increased damage when more stacks of it exist on the same target, so inflicting three stacks per second is significant. As you boost the damage you deal to enemies, you will also end up boosting that you take. Due to this, a core facet of this build involves stacking a large amount of Poison and Damage Over Time, while also getting enough Poison Resist and Health Regeneration to mitigate the increases to self-damage. There are two main ways that I enjoy playing this build, which will both be covered in this guide. The first way, which is shown in the gameplay preview, involves using a setup in which the Aura is kept up permanently. Then, the second way to play the build is a bit more difficult, involving much higher Aura damage, but also forcing the user to toggle the skill on and off to avoid death.

Despite that this build primarily uses a skill that steadily murders you, it has a surprising amount of survivability if built correctly. Alongside building for an immense amount of regen, which should exceed your self-drain by a decent amount, this build taps into the large, sustained area damage AoD provides combined with the global leech nodes deep in the Lich passive tree to constantly gain large amounts of health. Beyond this, this build tries to acquire a decent amount of block chance and protection as well as glancing blow chance. Lastly, you can keep moving almost constantly while running this skill, barely stopping to cast things, giving you survivability just from running around and being able to juke about.

Many of the support skills in this build are focused around boosting your aura damage in some way or another. Hungering Souls, Wandering Spirits, and Mark for Death are used for such purposes, as all of them have an effect that bolsters Poison damage and Damage Over Time. Currently, Rip Blood as used as the 5th skill for an extra bit of single target poison proccing and sustain, but the upcoming Warlock skills or skills that are currently missing skill trees may end up being better for this build. However, I will go back to that when such things are released. Speaking of these skills, the next section will cover them and the choices made in their skill trees!

Part 3. Active Skill Trees

Aura of Decay:

As you know by now, this skill is the main focus of this build. As such, many of the nodes we take in its skill tree are focused on bolstering the skill’s damage. Before talking about the two paths you can take, I should mention that this skill is somewhat brutal to level with, and I would recommend not investing into any nodes that boost the Aura’s self-damage before you’re sure you can handle it.

The first way of using this build focuses on keeping AoD up forever, and thus we do not take the Icarian Poison node, as its constantly increasing self-damage would eventually kill us. We do take most of the nodes that increase the poison application rate of the Aura, and one that increases the self-damage, albeit by a set amount, which is manageable. Additionally, we take the nodes that release concentrated bolts of poison while the Aura is up, the bolts applying 2 stacks of poison and shooting out every 0.75 seconds after taking all the related nodes. An image of this version of the tree can be seen below!

The second set-up of the skill tree is far riskier to run, but deals far higher damage. First off, we will no longer be taking the poison bolt nodes, instead opting to take Icarian Poison and the nodes beyond that significantly boost poison duration. Taking these nodes forces us to have to toggle the skill on and off to avoid a painful, agonizing death because of the steadily increasing self damage. Due to the constant toggling, we also take the nodes that bolster health regen on toggle and the one that emits a poison nova on toggle. Admittedly the health regen node doesn’t actually boost our net health regen too well, it just causes AoD to not murder us after toggling it off due to losing the skill’s 50% poison damage mitigation, and the nova then helps upkeep poison stacks to make up for AoD briefly being turned off. This variant’s skill tree can be seen below!.. Sort of… It’s just the first image with the nodes you should take in this variant being circled and the old nodes being X’d out.

Hungering Souls:

The purpose of this skill here is very straight-forward. We just take all the auto-trigger nodes and then the DoT boosting nodes, turning the skill into a damage booster that we don’t need to think about. This leaves us with three points left over, which I just pumped into additional projectiles because I like skulls. Technically you could opt for having a 17% proc chance when hit over a 29% one if you want to retain the ability to self-cast. Honestly though, even if you’re a dodging pro, this skill is going to trigger quite a lot, so you’ll usually have the damage boost. I will say, this skill is decent for leveling, so it should be the first skill you specialize into and you shouldn’t build into auto-casting right away, instead opting for extra projectiles and damage. You can then respec into the setup shown below after learning Aura of Decay.

Mark for Death:

As with pretty much any build where this skill is used, its purpose is to heavily boost the damage your enemies receive. We take the nodes that boost damage taken and lower poison protections. The AoE, fear, and slow nodes are also taken because why not. I honestly don’t use this skill too much, usually reserving it for rares and bosses as most regular enemies will just melt.

Wandering Spirits:

This skill is a rather impressive secondary damage source when used with this build. We set up the spirits with a focus on them poisoning nearby enemies. Beyond this, we also grab the nodes that keep the spirits out longer and allow us to summon them more frequently. This leads to an immense amount of spirits being out on the field at the same time, shooting poison projectiles to deal damage and further boost our Aura’s damage due to poison’s self bolstering properties. It’s important to use this skill constantly in combat due to a huge regen boosting passive that we take… which will be discussed in the passives section.

Rip Blood:

This is our fifth skill for now, but it may change when new skill trees and skills come out. As it stands, I really only use this skill against isolated, large enemies. It does add quite a lot of sustain to the build once all the health boosting nodes are taken. I also take the 100% chance to poison to build up more stacks against tanky enemies. However, you could grab the mana return nodes too if you want, should you find yourself struggling with mana upkeep.

Part 4. Passive Trees

Acolyte Passives:

Right now I take the generic damage node, Blood Aura, for the first few levels as it just gives nice damage and also helps our Spirits. After investing 7 points, grab all 8 points of Stolen Vitality in the next passive tier. We don’t really need the minion health, but the poison protection from vitality is great. Lastly, we grab more poison protection through Putrid Demise, which is built in with a chance to poison nearby enemies on kill… which isn’t that good honestly unless you’re fighting a large enemy surrounded by small ones. I plan to revisit this tree at level 88 to grab the Crimson Gluttony node and the final point of Blood Aura.

Lich Passives:

This is the tree we specialize into and the second one we’ll be focusing on. First off, max Crippling Insight. This may seem like an odd choice given that it lowers our health regen, but the damage boost it provides to all of our abilities is worth it. Next, we grab Wraith Bringer because wooo, more poison summons! Next off, there’s a pretty long chain of useful nodes that aaaalmost get us to our global leech node, Soul Maw. These include Desolation, Lasting Stench, Bed of Souls, Three Plagues, and Contagion Engine. Provided that you only grab one point in Three Plagues like I do, you’ll need three more points to reach the top passives.

You have three main options now: Take three more points in Three Plagues, or invest three in Dance With Death or Unclosing Wounds. Penetration is really bad in lategame right now, so I personally lean toward the latter two options despite them having degen that counteracts our build. Unclosing Wounds was my personal choice due to a misconception about generic damage, but I now think Dance with Death would be better in order to avoid the health drain. My opinion may change on this again provided that we get some more skill points via story quests soon as it would be easier to invest into the reduced life drain nodes. Perhaps I might grab a few more points in this tree after finishing with my other planned nodes, which will happen at level 93, but I have no idea right now.

Necromancer Passives:

After finally getting Soul Maw, we move on to the Necromancer Tree to get a large amount of regen. These choices are straight forward. Max Bone Brewer for some extra life and conditional armor, then put two points into Life Drinker in order to access Reconstruction, which grants us massive regen when we use Wandering Spirits. Max that out and then max out Blood Armor next, which I am currently in the process of doing. Reconstruction won’t always be up due to only lasting for 4 seconds following the use of a minion skill and Wandering Spirits having a 5.5 second cooldown with our setup, but even without 100% uptime, 200% health regen is nothing to scoff at.

Part 5: Gear and Stats

This section mostly just has images of my current gear and stats to give you an idea of what stats you should aim for. I will go into more detail about crafting in the next section.

An album of all of my gear as of making this guide can be seen here:

Next off, here is an image of my stats without any buffs up

Now, here are the stats after using Wandering Spirits and proccing Hungering Souls. The major changes here are in the regen and DoT damage increases.

Part 6: Crafting and Affixes

Provided you took a look at my gear, you’ll notice that the stats you’re looking for the most are a balanced blend of Poison Damage/DoT Damage, Glancing Blows, Poison Protection, Health Regen, and Health.

The following is a list of what items you should try to craft on along with what affixes are the most important on each.

  • Weapon: Any one-handed non-wand base; There’s no DoT or poison related base yet, so all we care about is that it’s a one-handed weapon [that’s not a wand as those can’t roll poison damage] so we can use a shield. We only have three affixes of interest here, that being Poison Damage, DoT Damage, and Poison Protection. Try to get one damage stat to T5 and then the other two to T4 at the very least. If you manage to get 3 T5s, you can just slam elemental protection on your weapon or something provided there’s still a free suffix.

  • Shield: Solarum Shield; No questions asked, this shield is the best. You’re going to want block chance and glancing blows/health as the prefixes, and then some combination of health and poison protection for the suffixes.

  • Chestpiece: Solarum Plate or Copper Plate; The most important affix for these is the flat health regen prefix. This needs to be at LEAST T4, and you should aim for T5. All of your percentage increases to regen scale off of these flat bonuses. Next off, try to grab hybrid life/glancing blows, % increased health regen, and % increased health.

  • Helmet: Lupine Helmet or Gladiator Helmet; Honestly the raw armor from Gladiator is probably better than the regen from Lupine, but anyway… Once again, flat health regen is the most important here. Get T5 if you can and pray that you get +10 flat instead of +9. Next off, aim for glancing blows/health again, and then choose your pick of increased or flat health alongside poison protection.

  • Gloves: Engraved Gauntlets or Lagonian Gauntlets; For the third time, flat regen is the most important stat. Don’t worry, we can’t even craft it again after this. So, get that regen to T5 and then take your pick for the defensive stats you want. The 2nd prefix slot is the hardest to decide, as now a boost to DoT damage can contend with glancing blows.

  • Boots: Heoborean Boots or Solarum Greaves; Honestly I don’t really know which mods are best here, but at least go for glancing blows/health. I personally chose % health regen and movement speed as my other stats. The 2nd prefix could be vitality for poison protection or intelligence for damage.

  • Belt: Bronze Belt or Plated Belt; Believe it or not, we want glancing blows/health and % health regen here. You should also go for DoT damage and poison protection.

  • Rings: Ruby Ring or Silver Ring; Ruby is nice for more health, while Silver lets us zoom around more. That said, picking mods for rings is incredibly hard as you have access to poison damage, DoT damage, glancing blows, health regen, health, and poison protection. Adjust your rings to fit what you feel like you currently need.

  • Amulet: ORACLE AMULET; I put this in all caps because this Amulet is insane for this build. Sadly you can’t even get it until level 76 and above, but it makes you take less damage over time, which greatly helps to mitigate the self damage from Aura of Decay. As with rings, the mods are hard to decide here, but I would personally recommend a T5 poison or DoT damage mod alongside health regen, flat poison protection, and % poison protection.

  • Relic: Stained Tome???; Honestly I don’t know what to use for a Relic. The vitality on Stained Tome is nice, but you’ll need one with a very low reduced health regen node. Once again, it’s hard to pick what to craft on this, so just adapt it to fit your needs like with your rings.

That’s it for my build for now! I might take a little break from it, but will try to update it in the future should my gear improve or setups change!

Feel free to ask any questions you may have, or point out some ways you could think of to change the build for the better! Hopefully you’ll all enjoy this guide and, afterwards, Aura of Decay itself!

EDIT: I was a bit misled by the character sheet to think that generic damage increases double-dipped. They do not, and the guide has been adjusted to reflect such!


Dope layout. This could be the default for build guides. Aura of Decay is strong as hell once you balance the quirks of it out (self-decay, increased dmg%, supporting stuff)
Good guide for a strong skill!


Thank you! AoD is definitely fun, albeit sometimes punishing to build when it comes to juggling affixes.

Also, the layout was inspired by one of the top Sentinel builds, “Boy Meets Whirl”! I just ended up compressing more things so people wouldn’t come in and get overwhelmed!