Alright, here goes. This is my first attempt at a guide. As such, it’s probably pretty poor at this stage. This is doubly true since I have had some major, life-changing events in real life (my mother passed away and I am now engaged) so the guide (and even the character I based it on) were never totally finished. That said, take this all with a grain of salt. It was never meant to be a ‘follow this to build a KILLER character’ type guide, but rather to get people interested in something that might be new. Hopefully, someone in this wonderful community will be intrigued and carry on where I have left off. Who knows, I might even finish it myself one day…
Long ago the One High Lord created the Universe and within it the world of Sanctuary, his most beloved land. But the moment of divine creation saw the birth of Evil as well, and the Sin Wars ravaged the surface of his favorite world as the forces of Chaos fought for supremacy. Only after long and torturous battles that spanned an age did His Angels and the newborn race of men manage to imprison the Prime Evils.
Knowing His victory to be incomplete, the High Lord created a mighty sect of champions to stand in vigilance over the most precious of worlds. Instilled with the strength of a thousand storms and armed with mighty hammers, the Thunaer are Sanctuary’s highest guardians. Due to their heavenly gifts many have revered them as gods of Thunder and Storms, but they view themselves as servants, of both the High Lord and the peoples of his chosen world.
Now the demonic feet of the Three tread upon the fragile ground of Sanctuary, and the war drums of Hell’s legions beat forth once more. The time has come for the Thunaer to take up the hammer and fulfill their duty to the High Lord.
CHARACTER DESCRIPTION AND GOALS:
The Thunaer (Thunder Gods) are Paladins who rely on the power of lightning to vanquish their foes. The hammer (or war scepter, since the graphic is the same) is their weapon of choice. They choose Holy Shock as their primary aura, and also utilize a partially synergized Vengeance and a powerful Fist of the Heavens.
This is a themed character and can be quite difficult and frustrating at times, but is very rewarding (and at times very powerful) to play. You might think of the Thunaer as a special thematic case of a more general class â€“ the Elements, who pair Vengeance attacks with an elemental Aura (Holy Fire/Freeze/Shock).
*9 frame Vengeance (bare minimum – 8 would be better but is darn hard to hit with the weapon restrictions we have)
*95% Lightning resist (you’re a Thunder God; lightning should not hurt you)
*max resists or higher across the board
* as close to 10k defense as possible (you won’t actually reach this, most likely, but it’s good to have high goals. They help motivate you in life )
* > 3k average FoH damage
* > 2.5 k average Holy Shock damage
* > 3 k average Holy Bolt damage (emissaries of Heaven should tear the Undead apart)
* 1.5k+ life (this is an absolute minimum)
* max block
*DR/leech goals and/or minimums – this is somewhat unresolved and needs more testing
Strength: Enough for your gear. If you go with an upgraded Guardian Angel, this will require making a lofty 196 strength, and if you want to use physical damage and CB to take out LIs, a Legendary Mallet will run you 189. Big numbers, but since we can potentially have big +Str and need very little dex to block, it’s workable.
Dexterity: Get to max block. With even a few points in Holy Shield you should be able to make max block with base dex of ~110 or lower (with my equip choices I made it with only 75 base dex at clvl 85).
Vitality: Every last point you can spare. You’ll often be meleeing, with very little leech. Having a big pool of hitpoints can and will save your ***.
Energy: (hopefully) Nothing. You can leech back some mana and you have access to Redemption. We do use mana intensive skills (FoH and Vengeance), so be aware that not investing here will probably cause you some headaches while leveling. Well worth it in the end, though.
Holy Shock – 20
Fist of the Heavens – 20
Resist Lightning â€“ 20
Holy Shield â€“ 5+
Holy Bolt â€“ 1-10
Vengeance â€“ only 1 point needed. Sweet.
Utility skills: 1 point
With 5 each in HS and Holy Bolt, you’ll be done at clvl 83, including 10 points from quest rewards.
Holy Shock: 20 points. Nothing shocking here(heh). A lightning skill with great damage potential. And, might I add, it synergizes our next skill at 7% per point.
Fist of the Heavens: 20 points. Another no-brainer. Big lightning damage. Fun.
Resist Lightning: 20 points. Yet another easy call. 12% per level synergy for Holy Shock, and a bonus 10% per level synergy for Vengeance. And it gives us a passive +10 to max lightning resists when maxed, getting us ever closer to the coveted near-immunity.
Holy Shield: 5+. This depends on what you choose to do after you finish the core of the build. I think five hard points is a good number. The points are well spent, helping you get to max block, get the duration up (including your +skills, it should be fine), and gain some defense. You can add more if you wish to beef up your defense rating, although this is only really a good idea if you have high defense armor and choose to use quite a few points here â€“ which of course means they can’t go somewhere else where they might do more good.
Holy Bolt: 1-10. It gives you a nice attack against undead (including LIs, neatly enough), and really helps your FoH against them. I would leave this low (max of 5 or so) until you’re distributing your last points. If you find you aren’t using it much, you could use the skills for Holy Shield, or even to boost your Vengeance AR/damage if you aren’t having mana problems.
Vengeance: 1 point. Remember those ‘free’ synergy points we got from Resist Lightning? Well, they translate to a total of >300% lightning damage here, along with >100% of both cold & fire damage. That’s a total of 500-600% ED. For one skill point. Not a bad main attack skill for a character tight on skill points. One note of caution, be aware of what gets multiplied by Vengeance and what doesn’t when planning your character. This page should have everything you need: [Edit: whoops, competing forums. Heh. Move along now AE, nothing to see here:uhhuh:]
Zeal: 1. One point is all you need here; very useful to steal back some mana, and if you don’t mind turning your Thunder God into an ordinary sissy boy Tesladin it makes a very quick main attack, too. If you have a good Legendary Mallet, this is also the easiest way to deal with LIs.
Fanaticism: 1 point. Helps a lot against those pesky LIs that aren’t nice enough to be undead.
Conviction: 1 point. Another nice aura for using against LIs, or just to boost FoH damage. You might think of putting more points here instead of H.S. or Holy Bolt, but due to diminishing returns the effective increase is a meager 2% to enemy resists per skill point. We really don’t have the points to pump it to highly useful levels, but it can still come in handy; with my +skills, I was reaching 90% resists.
Redemption: 1 point. Great way to make up for your low leech. With all the +skills you’ll be carrying, switching to Redemption after you’ve made some bodies is basically a big purple pot. On a related note: I chose to save the skill point instead of getting Meditation. Blue potions are cheap and bodies are plentiful.
Salvation: 1 Point. I put a point in it and basically never used it. Can be nice to save your merc or help your party. The synergies for Holy Shock and Vengeance are simply too puny to be worth investing in this skill, as tight as we are on skill points.
Conversion: 1 point. Very useful to break up dangerous packs. You wont use it a ton, but when things get truly nasty it can be a life saver.
Charge: 1 point. Great for transportation, and a fun little trick I like to call â€œblast-bash-blast.
One tip: ID every rare you find in Hell! In every one of the following categories (okay, maybe not body armorâ€¦), a really nice rare has the potential to be better than most uniques in the game. Don’t just leave them lying around!
Armor looking for +skills, resists, IAS, defense. Anything else is a bonus. Also, a friendly reminder: keep your weapon breakpoints in mind when planning your gear – you’ll probably need some IAS here if you aren’t using a Highlord’s ammy.
Crow Caw | Lionheart | Que-Hegan’s Wisdom | Twitchthroe
Duriel’s Shell | Skin of the Vipermagi | Stone | Gloom | Skulder’s Ire
Guardian Angel | Arkaine’s Valor (hefty clvl req makes it less attractive) | Griswold’s Heart (I include this here only if you use it as part of the full set.)
Shield looking for resists, blocking, and +skills. Anything more is just gravy, and it’s usually Herald flavored
˜Rhyme Auric shield |â€˜Ancients Pledge | Lidless Wall
SanctuaryAuric shield | Alma Negra | Stormshield (if you really feel the need to overload on DRâ€¦)| Tiamat’s Rebuke | Steelclash
Exile (nice, but we can’t use it to its full potential) | Rare Auric shield
Griswold’s Honor (same deal as the armor)
In a Class of Its Own:
Herald of Zakarum there’s just no competition; + all skills, +combat skills, resists, astronomically high block, +stats, etc, etc, etc. If you’re into pallys, get one. Better yet, get two so you always have one on switch. It’s just that good.
Helmideally we;d get +skills, defense, resists, +stats, and IAS here. Leech and/or DR would be nice, too. If you want to keep your +2 skills and get resist all here, the only real option is a rare Circlet.
Tarnhelm |â€˜Lore’ | Peasant Crown
Vamp Gaze | Steelskull
Guillaume’s Face | Rare circlet(with the right mods, these can be in the â€˜Best’ category)| Rockstopper
Griswold’s Valor | Shakoâ€¦too bad it turns your bad*** Thunder God into a weirdo wearing a condom on his head | Andy’s Visage | crown of Ages (yeah, you wish) | Griffon’s Eye
Glovesâ€“ IAS, IAS, IAS, and more IAS! That’s all that’s really essential here, but we can get much more â€“ CB, AR boosts, Leech, etc
Bloodfist | Magnus’s Skin | Sander’s Taboo
Laying of Hands | Dracul’s Grasp (nothing to recommend them but Lifetap, and this build doesn’t make the best use of it)| IK Gloves (with at least one other piece)
Blood crafted gloves (with a great roll) | Lavagout â€“ Bingo. 20 IAS, fire resist, and the feature that sets it apart, ctc Enchant. That’s a 101% AR boost, and goes a long way towards addressing a central weakness of this build. You might think of switching to different gloves once the Enchant triggers, but that’s up to you, and not at all necessary.
Beltâ€“ Wide open. This and our boots are generally used to patch up holes in the rest of our gear. They don’t really divide into good/better/best, but are more a function of what you need.
Goldwrap/Nosfaratu’s Coil â€“ lumped together for the IAS.
String of Ears
Verdungo’s Hearty Cord
Thundergod’s Vigor â€“ just for thematic reasons this is an attractive choice, and the mods are great too.
Arachnid Mesh â€“ if you need nothing else, here’s a chance to pick up yet another +skill
Rare â€“ if you find one that fills your needs, definitely use it!
Boots – same as the belt. We want faster run/walk, and beyond that, patch up any holes you may have. Resists, etc. If you have everything covered, go for offensive mods like CB or +damage.
Goblin Toe â€“ Useful for bringing down big solo targets.
War Traveler â€“ note that the +X-Y damage here will get multiplied by your Vengeance attack (although I don’t believe it shows in the character screen), and it can really help out the rather low average damage of most of our weapon options. If you don’t need resists these are a good choice.
Gore Riders – I mention these mostly for a warning: the DS effect is not multiplied by Vengeance, so these boots really aren’t a great choice.
IK boots â€“ if you’re already using the gloves and belt, these are a decent choice.
Nat’s/Aldur’s â€“ good for addressing your personal resist issues, and come with 40% r/w.
Jewelry – Get as many +skills as you can, along with resists, and hopefully some leech. IAS is also an option and, of course, CBF, Dex, and AR
Highlord’s Wrath â€“ be advised that AS OF 1.10 Vengeance does NOT multiply the DS effect, according to the sources I use.
Eye of Etlich
Let me begin by stating the obvious: if you have one, use a Ravenfrost. It’s just a great ring. Also try to get a little leech, if you don’t have it anywhere else.
Rare/crafted â€“ this is a great option because it can fit any need you have.
BK Wedding Band
Stone of Jordan – extra mana can be very nice
Dwarf Star – Keep it in the cube for situational use
Carrion Wind â€“ damage to mana can work well for us.
One more note â€“ avoid Nature’s Peace. You cannot Redeem those bodies, and that spells trouble for us.
Weapon This is a more complex choice, and a fairly restricted one under my rules – War Scepter and War Hammer class weapons only. Speed, damage, and +skills are all pretty essential for an end game weapon. If you’re not into theme characters or equipment restrictions, I’ll spare you reading all this and let you know up front that a Heaven’s Light will beat out everything that I used/considered. Crescent Moon would be great, too (and I will research the other options better when/if I move further with writing this guide).
60 IAS for 9 frame Vengeance
42 IAS for 5 frame Zeal
168 IAS for 9 frame Vengeance
125 IAS for 5 frame Zeal
A War Hammer is just too slow to make up for it’s lack of +skills, unless you have an absolutely godly rare. Probably won’t be your weapon of choice, except possibly as a weapon switch with Fanaticism to deal with LIs. I’m going to suggest you shoot for 70 IAS with a caddy to hit the 9 frame Vengeance breakpoint.
**Stormeye â€“ cheaper alternative to HoBL, and a good leveling weapon in Normal.
**â€˜Holy Thunder’â€“ potential for as much as +6 holy shock, but lacking IAS and general plus skills. Also very low damage, although the â€“target defense is a nice touch.
*â€˜Honor’ – +1 skills, big +AR, +str, mana per kill, and some ED with DS. The best cheap option out there, costing only a Sol as the highest rune. If you get a good caddy for it, this can be an endgame weapon for this build.
**â€˜Passion’ â€“ 25% IAS, 160-210 ED, % AR bonus, but no +skills. Again, you’ll have to find a caddy with + HS/FoH for this to be a really great weapon. Noticing that popping up as a theme for the runeword weapons?
**Priest’s War Scepter of Quickness â€“ in a perfect world, this would of course have +FoH/HS as automods, but you’re going to have enough trouble finding a plain one. A plain Rose Branded war scepter can do alright if you’re desperate, but I’d use â€˜Honor’ before that, I think. Also note that this weapon will have pathetic base damage.
**â€˜Call to Arms’ â€“ I know, who makes this in a caddy? Still, the mods are great, including a +skill, nice ED, IAS, and of course the trademark BO/BC oskills. Another one that could hit â€˜best’ status with good automods on the caddy you make it in.
**Gris caddy â€“ fast, with open sockets. Allows you to make your breakpoint targets easily without imposing gear retrictions, but lacks the nice damage of Beast. Can get +combat skills as well as nice +damage if used in combo with the helm, which I would highly recommend if you have it and intend on using this weapon.
**Hand of the Blessed Light â€“ +2 skills, +FoH/Holy Bolt, + min/max damage (which is multiplied by Vengeance calculations), 100% bonus to AR. It’s a great all-around choice, and can even be upped for a little more damage if you have lots of runes. Only shortcoming is a lack of IAS, but all the unique war scepter types have this problem. As a bonus, it’s not a terribly rare item. This was my personal choice.
**Astreon’s Iron Ward â€“ We all know its stats (and that it’s very, very rare). Note that because the +damage is static (i.e., +X as opposed to the +X-Y on HoBL), this + damage will not be multiplied by Vengeance. Because of this, there really isn’t a lot of separation in quality between this and the much more common HoBL.
**â€˜Beast’ caduceus â€“ if you have the resources to make it, this is a great option. It’s very fast which frees up equipment slots, provides big damage, and big +STR to equip your armor. The only downside is that you need at least +3 FoH as an automod on the caddy you make it in, and +Holy Shock would be nice too, since there are no +skills on the weapon.
I’ll make this short: adress your needs, then go for damage. In terms of skillers, go for Combat skillers if you can. Your Holy Shock damage will be alright anyway, worry about the FoH and Vengeance output. AR will probably need to be adressed. And don’t ever forget: do not sacrifice a good and hard-to-get mod on your equipment in favor of resists you can pick up with single element resist small charms(well, that’s my perspective on it anyway).
Merc Choice – this is largely a personally preference. I’ll point out the usual suspects and talk about their strengths and weaknesses, but feel free to use whatever you prefer.
Act I – Can help taking out the LIs, but they can’t take any heat, and without any minions you’ll need all the help you can get up front. Cold would be my choice here, since it will at least slow down everything you face.
Act II – Here’s where most of us go. There are really three (possibly four) good choices here. Holy Freeze, Might, Defiance, and Blessed Aim. Well equipped, all will absorb any punishment you can survive, and will be a major help in dealing with LIs.
*Holy Freeze will give some crowd control, but I personally never noticed it had much effect
* Might will increase your damage for leech purposes. Note that this extra damage is neither converted nor multiplied by Vengeance.
* Defiance obviously increases def, which isn’t terribly useful, but will make the merc himself virtually unkillable against your average pack. Of course with good gear, he’ll be nearly unkillable by the average Joe Blow monster anyway, soâ€¦why bother?
* Blessed Aim should really only be used if you’re just desperate for AR.
Act III – if you’re masochisticâ€¦well, I suppose the Cold version could have its uses, if you could stop it from wandering into the fray to hit stuff with a wussy sword. But you can’t.
Act V – Tough bastards, but won’t kill much. With a Crescent Moon sword they can really be helpfulâ€¦but you can give a polearm with that to an Act II merc and get an aura as well.
Leveling/Assigning Skill Points
I usually hate this section of guides, and would prefer to just play the game. However, this is something of a special case in that the order you max your skills will probably dramatically affect your end-game style of play. I suggest you follow this pattern in assigning skill points:
Holy Bolt and various prereqs first
Fist of the Heavens
The most important element here is to do Resist Lightning last. Holy Shock will be maxed when you enter Nightmare, and do enough damage to be reliable. FoH, on the other hand, will just be coming into its own. If you prioritize RL, FoH will be underpowered until the very end, and if it’s not a viable tool you won’t use it and become confident with it. The temptation is too great to just stick with what you know, and you’ll probably end up playing either a Holy Shock Elemental or even just a non-standard Tesladin with wasted skill points. Allocating points the way I’ve sugested makes NM a bit more difficult, but is well worth it if you want to experience a new style of play in the end.
This character uses a TON of attack skills for a Paladin, and does more Aura switching than normal as well. If you haven’t already, I suggest mapping your hot keys away from the defaults. I prefer Q/W/E/R for the primary skills – this enables quick switching between your 4 killing skills. I generally leave the right clicks (Auras) on the defaults and use the mouse wheel to scroll quickly between them, keeping my main in the middle of my two major alternates. I assigned FoH/Vengeance/Holy Bolt/Charge to the main attacks. Zeal + Fanat I accessed quickly via weapon switch (which I moved to F).
Think of this character as an assassin in terms of hotkeys. In a typical battle, the attack skill will switch at least twice, and the aura twice as well (if you can get that down; it’s very tricky and I still haven’t completely mastered it). This sounds awfully complicated to those of us used to hack-and slash pallys, but if you play with this setup from the start it gets to feeling pretty normal – and I’ve noticed it vastly improved my play with other characters once I got the hang of it.
Your Average Battle
Generally, you’ll want to spot your enemy from afar and do a quick eval: is there a priority target? This means Resurrecting monsters, champs, uniques, etc. If there is, kiss him goodbye, he’s good as dead. Flash up to Conviction and paint him, then blast his sorry butt with the High Lord’s holy retribution (that means fry him with FoH). Flash back down to Holy Shock, and Charge him. Be aware that the timing here is crucial; if you get to him too fast, the Aura will not change and you won’t apply the HS damage. He’ll be knocked back. Flash up to conviction (if you’re not taking too much heat) and blast him again. If he’s still alive at this point, which most normal monsters will NOT be, Charge him again. This get’s really fun against packs of high HP champs, as you can blast-n-bash all the way across the screen, and they pretty much just have to sit back and take it.
So now that you’ve taken out your first target it gets to be more standard for a melee pally. Kill eveverything in reach with Vengeance, then take out any cowards with FoH as they try to run away.
Facing Down those Wussy Lightning Immunes
Alright, this section is a bit interesting. It worked all right for me, but I HAVE NOT tested this outside of early Hell, and the monsters get much tougher later on. My first tip: check and see if it’s undead. If it is, breath a sigh of relief and start bombing away with holy wrath. Holy Bolt and FoH will be more than enough to take out your average undead LI, and you didn’t even have to go toe to toe with them.
The other monster types pose more of a problem. I personally used a Stone Crusher Legendary Mallet with Fanat to take them down, and this seemed to work fine. You should be swinging at 5 frames with this setup, with lots of CB, and the damage (while not extrodinary) is hardly negligible.
Lastly, of course, there’s the merc. Those of you who have played a pure lightning ‘zon know how to ride this guy through the LIs. Act II Might is my choice for this purpose, and well equiped he can do it very well.
I’d like to thank the whole community for helping me learn this game, and for indulging me by reading this. I’d like to make it a full-on high quality guide, and I’d appreciate any help you guys can give. This forum is the reason I played long enough to write this, and the reason I’m still interested in the game. I hope gave some of that same encouragement to a few n00bs with this guide, and I hope every one of you thinks up something even cooler!