Diablo 2 Guide: Paladin Undead Hunter

This PvM Paladin variant is based around the Sanctuary skill, and the use of items with the +% Damage to Undead mod. While the Undead Hunter is more than capable of defeating Baal in Hell, he takes refuge in places where the undead lie. This build was tailored for use in Single Player, and would could vary with the use of some of the added runewords. This guide will introduce the Undead Hunter, and will cover stat/skill placement, damage formulas, and gear selection. This is my first attempt at creating a guide, and hopefully not the last, so any comments/suggestions are most appreciated.

Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. Stat Placement
III. Skill Placement
IV. About the Sanctuary Skill
V. Gear Selection
VI. Character Role
VII. Thanks

I. Introduction
The underlying principle for this character stems from the Undead Hunter (or Kaizan) class for Dungeons & Dragons. While not a D&D player myself, I came across this particular class description while browsing the Internet trying to come up with a creative character idea for D2, and I immediately thought of the Paladin:

The Kaizan are feared for many reasons. Mostly the unwanted souls that unlive fear them because they do not pay homage to any god. Instead, they are endowed with special powers from a mysterious mystical source. Although they fear no evil the Kaizan are not blindly courageous. They only fear dying an unjust death. Honor is a special gift that can only be earned. Each Undead Hunter attains greatness thru equally great thought. Each Kaizan possesses general knowledge of undead and specific knowledge of the destruction of many special undead.

Paladins are a personal favorite, and IMO the most versatile characters in the game in terms of their ability to inflict a variety of damage types on their opponents. This particular build focuses on dealing damage to the undead by use of the Sanctuary aura, and certain specific items (see Gear Selection below). The Sanctuary aura “causes the Paladin to shine with an inner, holy light. This light is an anathema to the undead, summoned as they are through the machinations of the Prime Evils. The aura carries with it the essence of life and the strength and purity of the Paladin’s convictions.†Sounds like it fits the description, right? Plus, it looks damn cool :). See Section IV. below for further discussion of the skill.

II. Stat Placement
These are pretty standard for a Paladin, but I will get specific in terms of the strength required for the equipment I think best suits this build:

Strength (110+) – I calculated 110 as the base strength required in order to equip the gear listed below. In later levels, I found that I rarely was in health trouble, so I started pumping points into strength to boost my damage.
Dexterity – Enough for max block
Vitality (220+) – Initially, my thoughts were to pump as many points into Vitality as I could spare. But with the great crowd control the Sanctuary aura provides, I stopped at around 235, and allocated more points to strength. Kaizan has only suffered one death, and it was to a pack of Oblivion Knights (grrrr IM). My suggestion is to obtain 1000+ life, but this may vary depending on whether you play HC or SC, as well as the role you choose for your Undead Hunter.
Energy – None

III. Skill Placement
There are as many variants to the Undead Hunter as there are other auras in the Offensive skill tree. In terms of Patting’ your character (if that is a goal), I would go with Fanaticism as a secondary skill. The skills for my character, Kaizan, are distributed as follows:

20 Sanctuary
20 Zeal
20 Sacrifice
10 Fanaticism
10+ Holy Shield
10 Pre-req’s
5 Defensive Auras

Target clvl: 83

Notes: The only synergy for Sanctuary is a boost in magic damage to the skill’s knockback effect from Cleansing (7% per level). I do not feel this is worth the skill points, but you may disagree. I chose instead to max Zeal and Sacrifice as a compliment to Sanctuary (to deal with the non-undead), as well as for the boost in attack rating. You may choose to max Fanaticism instead, and spend only 10 points in Zeal. Also, I find Vigor, Cleansing, and Redemption to be very useful on any Paladin build, but you may wish to pump any remaining points elsewhere.

IV. About the Sanctuary Skill
The Sanctuary aura adds damage, and a knockback effect to the undead. It’s important to that this skill does not work against super uniques (Pindleskin being the best example), and Act bosses. It does work however, against all normal undead creatures, Champions, and Minion bosses, which will be our primary targets. Also, this aura ignores physical immunities, which means undead monsters that are Immune to Physical or are Stone Skin won’t be a problem.

+% Damage to Undead
As a disclaimer, it’s impossible (in so far as I know) to determine what exact damage you are dealing to the undead. In other words, there’s no damage range that shows up in your Character Screen that displays “Damage to Undead.†From what I’ve gathered from the SPF, the +% Damage to Undead mod is applied like +% Enhanced Damage, which is against the base weapon damage. Thus, as a simple example, the +% Damage to Undead would work as follows:

Base weapon damage: 140-175
+% Damage to Undead: 100%
Damage Range to Undead: 280 – 350

This is just an example; the +% gets much higher than 100%, I assure you :). I will calculate the “estimated†damage range on my character in the section below. As previously stated, there is no guarantee this is accurate, all I can say is that Kaizan performs very well in certain high area levels on /players8.

Knockback:
The knockback effect is applied against all creatures within a certain radius (which increases coincidently with the skill level, similar to holy freeze), and is on a timer (~2 seconds). I’ll be the first to admit, the knockback effect was somewhat annoying at first, but I can’t emphasize enough how useful this skill is in terms of crowd control. If used correctly, the knockback effect allows you to engage one monster at a time, without worrying about getting swarmed by a large pack/minions/etc. Also, when fighting in tight areas (e.g. Crypt), it’s very easy to pin a monster against a wall/barrel/chest, which makes your life even easier. In other words, don’t get discouraged, IMO the positives of the knockback effect far outweigh the negatives.

V. Gear Selection
There are three pieces of equipment that I believe to be important for this character build, not only in terms of their usefulness, but because they fit the character’s role very well:

Griswold’s Set
In my opinion, this set was created specifically for this build. I’d like to believe that Griswold crafted this fine set of armory in anticipation of the very curse that would befall him. The story of Griswold (Undead), as Blizzard tells it:

After Diablo was slain in the catacombs beneath the town of Tristram, a grand celebration that lasted several days was held. The hero that defeated the Lord of Terror looked as if he had walked through Hell itself, and as the weeks passed, he kept his distance from the rest of the townsfolk and seemed to lapse into a dark, brooding depression. One day, he simply left. And shortly thereafter Tristram was attacked by legions of foul demons. While many of the townsfolk were merely slain, some were forced into cursed servitude.

The stout blacksmith Griswold was one of those who were bound past death to attend the desires of The Three. Wandering the town he once loved, he uses arcane powers and an unholy strength granted to his twisted body by Andariel to stop any from following the path of the Wanderer.

The stats on Griswold’s set are, for lack of a better word, incredible. Wearing the entire set gives +3 to all skills and +2 to Defensive/Offensive auras and Combat Skills, as well as huge bonuses to Strength, Dexterity, Life, Hit Recovery, and Resistances. Socket the shield with 2 p-diamonds, and your resistances are set in Hell. In addition, the other items all have sockets, giving you flexibility with your character. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, the weapon gives a whopping +250% Damage to Undead I have outfitted Kaizan as follows:

-Griswold’s Redemption (EldEldEldEld) – yup, that’s right, who would have thought you’d ever being socketing an high-end item with an Eld. But with the runes, your Damage to Undead jumps up to 550%!! Not bad for the second easiest rune to find in the game.
-Griswold’s Heart (3 x IAS jewel) – IAS jewels in order to reach 4 frames
-Griswold’s Valor (2 x IAS jewel) – same as above
-Griswold’s Honor (2 x p-diamond, 1 x IAS jewel) – resistances, same as above

With the set-up above, you are at 68 to All Resistances in Hell (including Anya quest in all three difficulties), with 130% IAS (40 from weapon, 90 from jewels). Add a shimmering charm to get your resistances maxed, and an additional 15% IAS from Nosefaratu’s to reach the 4 frame attack speed without fanaticism.

Ghoulhide Gloves
The ultimate gloves for an Undead Hunter. These bad boys give +% Damage to Undead (2.5 per level) and +Attack Rating against Undead (8 per level) based on character level. Throw in some hefty defense, mana leech and +20 to life, and you got yourself a mean pair of gloves for this build.

Seraph’s Hymm
The only amulet that gives +% Damage to Undead (between 25-50%) and +AR against Undead (150-250), not to mention a mere +2 to all skills and +1-2 to Defensive Auras. Not too shabby.

Well, that leaves your belt, boots, and rings left, and there are many useful options here. Kaizan is equipped with Nosefaratu’s Coil (LL, +Str, Slows Target, IAS to reach 4 frames), Goreriders (CB, DS), Ravenfrost (CBF, A/R) and a rare ring (+9 min damage, +105 AR, +7 all resists, 3%LL). The total stats for Kaizan, who is currently lvl 83, are:

Str: 199 (129)
Dex: 165 (115)
Vit: 235 (235)
Energy: 15 (15)

Life: 1071
Mana: 192
All Resistances: 75
Attack Rating: 4260
Zeal damage: 1176-1399 (1444-1724 with Might merc)

Stats Against Undead
+% Damage/Attack Rating to Undead:
Sanctuary Aura slvl31 – 1050% (includes 4 Captain’s Grand Charms)
Griswold Redemption – 550%
Ghoulhide – 166%, +664 to AR
Seraph’s – 39%, +198 to AR
Total – 1805% ED, +862 to AR

Base weapon damage: 131-171
Damage to Undead: 2496 – 3258 (Average 2877)
Attack Rating against Undead: 5122

Bear in mind the stats above do not take into effect the increase to damage received from Strength, Zeal, and my merc’s aura.

Unfortunately, this build is expensive as I’ve outlined it above. I believe this to be the best set-up for the character (although I’m open to suggestions); however, there are alternatives. If you cannot afford the Griswold set, perhaps the following would work:

Rune Master (5os)
Guardian Angel
Herald of Zakurum
Andariel’s Visage

Also, for those who have access to the realm-only runewords, the Edge runeword (280% ED to Undead) is also an affordable option.

VI. Character Role
Ultimately, you can choose to play your Undead Hunter however you desire. I use Kaizan mainly as a rune-hunter, since he is very effective on /players8 in certain high-level areas (best examples being the Crypt and Mausoleum in Act I, which are undead infested). Whatever you choose, I think the Undead Hunter will make for a refreshing change in your collection of characters.

VII. Thanks
I’d like to thank all those in the SPF, and other forums, who take the time to create guides to share with others. It keeps what is already a great game even more interesting and fun, which is important. Special thanks to Liquid_Evil, since his Sidewinder guide was the last that I read, and I used his format to a tee lol.

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