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Diablo > Diablo 4May 30, 2023 11:10 am CT

How to use the Necromancer’s Book of the Dead in Diablo 4

Diablo 4 Necromancer Special Book of the Dead

Each class in Diablo 4 has a unique class mechanic; the Necromancer’s Book of the Dead minion system was announced in a developer blog and admittedly raised some questions at launch about its utility versus the passives of past titles in the franchise. In patch 1.4.0, minions as a whole received a big buff and the Book of the Dead was tuned alongside. As a Necromancer, you have many options to consider, and with hundreds of combinations for your pets, there are quite a few decisions to make.

Let’s review the basics of the Necromancer’s Book of the Dead and whether you should boost your minions… or sacrifice them for personal gain.

Diablo 4 Necromancer in the Prologue

How to unlock the Book of the Dead on your Necromancer

The Necromancer has the simplest class system to start with. Create your Necromancer; from your first level, you can summon Skeletons. Easy, right?

The Book of the Dead screen in the Character panel opens up at level 5, letting you customize your minions by selecting a Skeletal Warrior type — Skirmishers — and chasing to buff those minions or sacrifice them. After that, every 3-4 levels gained between now and level 15 unlocks a different kind of Skeletal Warrior; and the cycle repeats for your Skeletal Mages from levels 15 to 25, giving you more and more options to customize your skeleton army.

At level 25, you kick off a quest chain (Necromancer: Call to the Underworld) to unlock your Golem, a large tank minion. The quest is genuinely quick:

  1. Start by praying at the Shrine to Rathma northwest of Menestad, which summons the shade of Maltorius.
  2. Maltorius tasks you with collecting Unbroken Bones from nearby Bone Warriors, shown as red dots on your minimap. Turn the bones into Maltorius, who will task you with gathering an animating spirit for your Golem, available in the nearby Bitter Cave dungeon.
  3. Inside the dungeon, you want to interact with the Jar of Souls. Souls from the jar will float to the nearby skeletons and possess them for you to kill. Finish filling the jar (yes, with the souls that just left it), and Maltorius reappears in the dungeon to finish your quest chain.

That’s it for unlocking the skill! But you have one more critical step — open your Skills window by hitting S on PC or going to the Abilities screen and selecting “Skills Assignment” on consoles, then put Summon Golem on your skill bar. Your Golem will not appear until you take this step!

Diablo 4 Necromancer's Book of the Dead - Iron Golem

Should I buff or sacrifice my minions? Four Minion specs to try

To buff or to sacrifice, that is the question. Three different minions are available to the Necromancer: Skeletal Warriors, Skeletal Mages, and Golems. Each minion has three specializations:

  • Skeletal Warriors (can summon four to start) — Skirmishers, Defenders, and Reapers
  • Skeletal Mages (can summon three to start) — Shadow, Cold, and Bone
  • Golems (one!) — Bone, Blood, and Iron

Each option represents a different flavor of the minion (of which you can have one). They deliver increased life, defense, damage, etc. You have three options for each variation: two buffs to the minion and a buff to yourself by sacrificing your ability to summon that minion. That’s nine choices across each pet’s specs, of which you can select only one.

You have 729 combinations to choose from across these three pet types — a ton to choose between! Luckily, this is the one area where you don’t have to spend any gold to swap choices, so be sure to play with your minion spec often to see what works best for you. In this spirit, we’ve laid out a few combinations for your review. Remember that the best time to try this is once you’ve unlocked all your Golem types, but you can play with combinations as you get to level 25 and add on to your favorite!

Diablo 4 Necromancer With Minions

  • Pure caster — sacrifice all minions to embrace your Necro’s other damage-dealing skills.
    • Skeletal Skirmisher Warriors: Sacrifice to increase your Critical Strike Chance by 5%.
    • Skeletal Shadow Mage: Sacrifice to increase your maximum Essence by 15.
    • Iron Golem: Sacrifice to deal 30% increased Critical Strike Damage.
    • Tip: Put skill points into the Stand Alone and Memento Mori passives (under Ultimate) to boost your survivability and the bonuses from your Skeletal minions’ sacrifices.
  • The Golem Defender — let your Golem lead the way and take the hits for you.
    • Skeletal Reaper Warriors: Sacrifice to deal 10% increased Shadow damage.
    • Skeletal Cold Mages: Sacrifice to deal 15% increased damage to Vulnerable enemies.
    • Blood Golem: First upgrade to have your Golem absorb 30% of the damage you would take.
    • Tip: Combine this in Shadow Summoner DoT build and watch the damage stack up from afar.
  • The Full Army — your damage becomes the stealthy underpinning to your minion army.
    • Skeletal Reaper Warriors: Second upgrade to give them a 15% chance of forming a Corpse with their attack.
    • Skeletal Cold Mages: First upgrade to gain 3 Essence each time the Mages damage enemies with their attack.
    • Iron Golem: Second upgrade to pull in enemies when using the Golem’s Slam attack.
    • Tip: Keep your skeleton army topped up and buffed with Skeletal Priest summons; there are legendary aspects that complement this activity!
  • Minion Madness — swarm all of Sanctuary with your sweet Skeletal babies.
    • Skeletal Skirmisher Warriors: First upgrade to raise one additional Skirmisher Warrior.
    • Skeletal Bone Mages: Bone Mages drop a corpse when they die. Bone Mage attacks will grant 3% of Maximum Life Fortify.
    • Bone Golems: Spawn 5 corpses around the Golem where its ability is used.
    • Tip: Actively seek the Occult Dominion aspect that increase your Skeletal minion count.

You might have noticed we skipped an option entirely in our sample combinations. The Skeletal Defender Warriors have increased life and survivability as well as a taunt; they’re a good choice early on, especially when combined with Corpse Explosion. However, they don’t shine as much once you unlock your Golem. Of course, your mileage may vary — play with it and see what you like!

The D4 Necromancer’s Book of the Dead adds another dimension to the variety available for your class. So dive in, find your favorite spec combination, and leverage the powers of life and death to murder your way through the enemies of Sanctuary. Happy hunting!

Originally published May 30, 2023; updated May 13, 2024.

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