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Rabies Druid Guide by Harleyquin2008

Version: 1.0 | Updated: 11/15/10

Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction v1.13
Rabies Druid Guide
Version 1.0
Author: Harleyquin
Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Rabies Druid basics
3. Stat allocation
4. Skill point distribution
5. Equipment suggestions
6. Mercenary selection and equipment
7. General gameplay
8. Acknowledgements and Credits
9. Contact information
10. Version history
11. Legal notice

1. Introduction
Welcome to my guide to the Rabies Druid for Diablo 2: Lord
of Destruction v1.13. The aim is to provide sufficient
information for newcomers/experienced users in the game to
play a Druid character focusing on the shape shifting tree,
in particular the Werewolf skill Rabies. This character
build is doable alone or with help from mercenaries and the
Oak Sage nature spirit in the Druid Summoning skill tab.

A note before proceeding: This is not the most original
guide out there, many others variants preceding my guide
exist but to my knowledge this is the only one published on
Gamefaqs for the latest version of LoD. Therefore my guide
will have many similarities to existing Rabies Druid builds
on other websites but any source material I reference will
be obtained from 3rd party websites independent of guides
similar to this one.

Diablo 2 is a game heavily dependent on the equipment
obtainable for characters, the age of the game means that
most optimal builds regarding skill point allocation have
been investigated and analysed. However my guide is geared
mainly towards newer players who play Single Player unmodded
v1.13. Therefore all equipment suggestions I give will not
include the online-only charms and runewords so prevalent on
the Battle.net servers. The only "modification" this guide
refers to is the use of a 3rd-party muling program like ATMA
which allows players to store equipment obtained when
playing through with other characters. This does not entail
cheating or item generation through any means outside of
playing the game legitimately and obtaining items as they
are encountered.

Finally, I don't play the game using any of the /playersx
keyboard commands allowing players to simulate a multiplayer
environment offline, the game to me is hard enough as it is
on Hell difficulty without the elite equipment often bandied
about in other guides. Consequently my equipment suggestions
will be more realistic and the build is perfectly able to
finish all three difficulty modes as long as players
following this build obtain semi-reasonable equipment over
regular gameplay. Related to the single player restriction
above, I make no claims as to duelling or PvP advice since
the only opponents faced in a single player game are the
monsters themselves.

Although the guide caters to newer players, I will assume
most readers have at least finished the game once or have
a good grasp on the game's principles. Hence some
information located below are spoilers regarding enemies

2. Rabies Druid basics
As the name of the guide entails, players will be using a
druid concentrating on the shape shifting skill tab and the
skill Rabies as the main method for slaying monsters and
progressing through the game. This is a close-combat build
so high physical damage through weapons and equipment will
be used both to complement the Rabies skill and to slay
poison-immune monsters independently as required. To help
the Druid survive the damage invariably incurred, some
skill points will be invested in the Oak Sage nature spirit
in the Summoning skill tab for more health to outlast the
hordes before they slay the character. A quick summary of
the advantages and disadvantages of this build is given


1. Two primary damage sources should ensure the vast
majority of monsters in all difficulties can be slain
without help from mercenaries. Although monsters immune to
both physical and poison damage do exist (mostly in Hell
difficulty), weapons inflicting elemental damage are
obtainable and can be used when necessary to slay the
occasional troublesome unique monster.
2. The Rabies skill is a very useful skill on its own for
killing mobs of monsters swarming the character (assuming
no immunity to poison). With the addition of damage
synergies, a fully synergised Rabies skill (40 skill points)
with no bonus to +skills will see an average of over 4k+
poison damage. Coupled with the ability's "infection"
spread to nearby monsters, this means killing speed is
maintained for most of the character's career without too
much micromanagement involved.
3. The relative lack of skill points involved make this a
simple build to develop and play through without having to
memorise complicated level-up schemes. Low number of skills
employed makes hotkey management simple. 


1. Like other melee builds, this build really shines if
top-notch equipment is found and utilised. Unlike other
character builds like the summoning necromancer and the
single-tree sorceress, this build cannot finish the game
for all 3 difficulties if equipment available is extremely
2. Despite the relatively high health of this build, part
of the bonus comes from the Oak Sage. If that dies (and it
will die often when you're confronted by hordes) a
significant proportion of player health goes with it which
may well hasten the character's untimely demise.
3. Some monsters are extremely difficult to kill at
close-range without the appropriate protection or offensive
weaponry. Regardless of high health, if the monster horde
does significantly more damage than you do over time the
build loses after a war of attrition. Semi-decent equipment
makes life easier when confronted with packs of
Blunderbores, Megademons, Bone fetishes and Thorned Hulks.
4. Close-combat may be doable, but packs of archers and
spellcasters need to be reached first before the build can
start killing. Without a high enough block rate, block
speed, resistances, faster hit recovery and faster walk/run
speed, the Druid might not get close enough before being
5. No inherent skill readily available to remove corpses.
Summoning druids can use Dire wolves to some extent for
corpse removal but this build is totally dependent on
equipment to stop the fallen/undead/maggot/demon hordes from
overwhelming you with numbers. Nihlathak is especially
dangerous without the proper equipment.
6. No crowd control skills. You will get swarmed a lot
during play and if you can't kill the hordes quickly with
Rabies/Fury your character will die a slow death by

If the above disadvantages have turned you off this build,
stop reading now and start a sorceress or some other common
build more suited to individual play style. For those still
interested, continue reading.

3. Stat allocation
Simply put, this determines what equipment the Rabies druid
can use and how long it can survive on the field before
being slain. With quest rewards and level-up stat points,
total allocation is 505 points.

Strength: All characters should only invest enough strength
as necessary to meet their equipment requirements. The
extra points to damage over and above the minimum investment
required aren't worthwhile and better invested in vitality.
For this build, casual players can aim for either 110 or
156. The former allows the wearing of War belts, in
particular the Immortal King's Detail or Thundergod's
Vigour. The latter is for the unique Monarch Stormshield. 

Dexterity: I advise using a shield for this build,
two-handed weapons may help kill faster but the lack of a
shield and its benefits means dying much faster when faced
with monsters who can attack from a distance. More points
are required for the minimum investment to achieve a 75%
block rate, how many points depends on the shield obtained.
The formula for shield blocking is given below:

Total block = (Character block x Dexterity-15)/(Levelx2)

Total block refers to final blocking percentage achieved on
the character screen.
Character block refers to all sources of blocking, including
any on equipment other than the shield (e.g. Increased
blocking from Guardian Angel)
Dexterity refers to character dexterity after all points
invested and bonuses from items have been factored in.
Level refers to the character level, 1-99.

A few sample numbers for common character block figures:
60% block = 263 Dexterity for 75% at level 99.
64% block = 248 Dexterity for the above
72% block = 222 Dexterity for the above
75% block = 213 Dexterity for the above

Players who do decide to go for two-handed weapons will
likely not need any points in dexterity since few of the
high-damage 2H weapons have a dexterity requirement. If this
patch is chosen be sure to invest in strength accordingly.

Vitality: Every other point not invested in Strength and
Dexterity ends up here. There is no disadvantage in having
too much life, the multipliers offered by Lycanthropy and
Oak Sage are heavily dependent on how high the vitality
stat goes.

Energy: Since version 1.10, a select number of merchants in
towns offer mana potions for sale. Therefore there should
be no need to invest ANY points here since potions will
cover the majority of skill needs for most of normal and
early Nightmare until mana steal is high enough to make
skill use self-sufficient for most cases.

4. Skill point distribution
Everyone who has played through the game should know by now
there are 110 skill points in total, 98 from regular
level-up and 4 each from quest rewards in each difficulty.
In theory a level 99 Rabies Druid will have the following
skill distribution

20 Werewolf (Less investment if AR isn't a problem).
20 Lycanthropy
1 Feral Rage (1-20 depending on preference)
20 Rabies
20 Fury (1-20 depending on preference)
20 Poison Creeper
9 Oak Sage (0-9 depending on preference)

For variation, points invested in Lycanthropy can be
diverted to Oak Sage however I don't advise this unless the
character is going to be used in a multiplayer setting.
Other variations include diverting points from Fury to Feral
Rage according to preference. For players confident in their
ability to stay alive without the need for the Oak Sage, the
extra 9 skill points can be diverted to Feral Rage for
better damage against single opponents or to pet summons for
brief distractions.

When to allocate skill points in this build is extremely
simple. Very early on points should be placed in Werewolf,
at least one point should go to Lycanthropy depending on
the player's ability to remember to refresh Werewolf
duration after battles. One point can go into Poison Creeper
early on before Feral Rage is available for a minor
distraction during Chapter 1. When Oak Sage is available,
players should invest at least one point upon availability
or up to the build's recommended maximum early on to get it
out of the way. Once Rabies is available, every available
skill point up to character level 30 goes there, after level
30 1-4 points can go to Fury either to unlock the skill or
get enough points to reach the maximum number of attacks
available. From level 35 or thereabouts, it's a simple
matter of maxing out Rabies, Werewolf and Fury in that
order. The last skill to maximise can either be Lycanthropy
once +skills items and careful management make the short
duration a non-issue or into poison creeper for the Rabies
synergy. In my experience killing speed and power are bigger
priorities than life and defensive benefits in general so
the scheme I've used generally focuses on maxing Rabies
first before maxing Werewolf and Fury in that order. Poison
Creeper is then next with Lycanthropy last priority. Since
most players will never see levels above 90 let alone 99,
the build's damage potential can be maximised before
level 70 after factoring in quest rewards.

A brief summary of the skills involved:

Werewolf: This is a core skill since you can't use Rabies
without it. Higher investment helps attack rating and attack
speed for all attacks in Werewolf form. I like investing 20
points, others may have enough AR to hit reliably without
maximum investment.

Lycanthropy: More points here equals a constant return on
more life when shape shifted and a longer duration. Without
sufficient investment here, this build will only shape shift
when monsters are encountered or shortly before to ensure
the duration is long enough to survive combat encounters. I
advise 20 points, a life boost which cannot be taken away
by any means (unlike Oak Sage) is especially important in
Hell difficulty.

Feral Rage: My personal preference is one point here as a
prerequisite and to let +skills handle the rest. Another
approach would be to maximise this skill at the expense
of Fury to take full advantage of the life steal modifier.
The main disadvantage being problems fighting large hordes
of skeletons and other enemies immune to leeching. Players
who go for maximum Feral Rage are advised to find Dracul's
Grasp for Hell difficulty (more details in the equipment

Rabies: This is the core of the build and its namesake. High
poison damage over a reasonable duration at high levels as
well as spread of the poison between closely packed monsters
after the infection vector leaves large non-poison immune
monster packs easier to kill. As mentioned above, a fully
synergised Rabies skill without +skills bonuses can deal
over 6k+ gross damage in less than 11 seconds. This is quite
sufficient for solo-play for most parts of the game.

Fury: This is the Druid variant of the Paladin's Zeal
attack. Multiple attacks (up to 5) with a high enough skill
level as well as a damage boost makes the skill versatile
against mobs or tougher solo opponents. All Fury attacks
must complete their attack cycle once started, take care
using this skill amongst hordes of exploding fetish dolls.
In v1.13 Oblivion Knights no longer have Iron maiden in
their repertoire of curses so dying from "Fury-lock" is
less of an issue in the Chaos Sanctury.

Oak Sage: Arguably the most common nature spirit used by
Druids, the boost to life for all party members and the 
Druid himself is too good to pass up. In Nightmare and
Hell difficulties the Oak Sage gets a life boost and
guaranteed immunity to poison (plus immunity to physical
damage in Nightmare) which should ensure better
survivability during combat. The AI of the spirit isn't too
clever and it will often move towards enemies hastening its
demise and potentially that of the character as well.

Poison Creeper: This is a minor distraction in Normal which
quickly becomes obsolete before Chapter 2. However the 18%
boost to Rabies damage per point invested makes it a
necessary and welcome component of the character build.

5. Equipment suggestions
Players don't need the elite equipment mentioned in other
guides to finish the game past Hell difficulty, however
sub-standard equipment makes finishing the game almost
impossible at times. I classify my suggestions according to
"Dream", "Recommended" and "Realistic". The first is for
online players and those who don't play legitimately since
the odds of getting the runes/equipment involved are so low
as to be non-existent if playing alone and without 3rd party
hacks. Recommended is equipment which is doable assuming
players grind bosses and high level areas long enough to get
lucky. Realistic is for those who use what they equip or
find often enough via other characters to use viably. I've
played the game on and off for over 8 years dating to this
FAQ and my ATMA stash of exceptional and elite uniques isn't
even up to the halfway mark at collection, hence my
recommendations are somewhat skewed to reflect the rarity of
decent equipment.

Some of the common terminology used includes "leech"
(life/mana steal or both together), IAS (Increased Attack
Speed), OW (Open Wounds), CB (Crushing Blow), %ED (Enhanced
Damage/Defence depending on context)


Mods to look out for: %Enhanced damage, life steal,
Crushing Blow, High base damage, +skills, Increased Attack

"Dream" setup
"Breath of the Dying" runeword: Highest % Enhanced damage
available in single player, dual leech, Increased Attack
Speed, Prevent Monster Heal, Stat boosts etc. Only thing is,
players are more likely to be struck by lightning
compared to the odds of finding both a Vex and Zod rune
legitimately. Finding an ethereal 6-socket weapon to fit
the runeword isn't exactly easy either.

"Eternity" runeword: The only runeword combination in Single
Player that makes weapons indestructible without the use of
a Zod rune. The addition of % Enhanced damage, life
steal, Crushing Blow, Hit Blinds Target, Hit Slows Target,
Cannot be Frozen and Revive charges solves the problems
of Crowd Control and Corpse Disposal in one package. Of
course getting Ber, Ist and Sur runes legitimately is like
winning the lottery several times over.

"Famine" runeword: Increased Attack Speed, % enhanced
damage, Ignore Target Defence, lots of elemental damage,
Life steal and Prevent Monster Heal. The catch? Try finding
Ohm and Jah runes without modding the game or cheating.

"Call to arms" runeword: Mentioned ad nauseum for every
other melee build out there, the biggest draw is the oskill
Battle Orders skill granted by the weapon for even more life
over and above what Oak sage and Lycanthropy can give. %
Enhanced Damage, huge increased attack speed, life steal and
Prevent Monster Heal are also useable in a pinch. It's
better off as a weapon switch option assuming you're
dedicated/lucky enough to get Mal, Ist and Ohm in a single

"Heart of the Oak" runeword: This is not selected based on
its damage, it's nominated as one of the two best
alternatives for a weapon switch. +3 to skills, +resistances
and faster mana regeneration are the only mods
recommendable for this build. Good luck getting all of the
runes legitimately without external help.

"Recommended" setup
"Kingslayer" runeword: Before v1.13, I would have
categorized this under "Dream" since all of the runes
required dropped rarely if at all from the Countess.
Dedicated players who have run the Hellforge enough will
have the runes required. Increased Attack Speed, % Enhanced
damage, % Attack Rating, Crushing Blow, Open Wounds, Prevent
Monster Heal and Vengeance. Vengeance in particular is very
helpful for slaying the dual-immune monsters the build is
helpless against, however I've never obtained the runeword
so I have no way of verifying if the skill is useable in
Werewolf form.

"Passion" runeword: With v1.13, the runes are very
obtainable with a hundred or so Countess runs. Getting the
right weapon is of course another matter to consider. The
mods aren't quite up to "Kingslayer" standards but the +1 to
Berserk offers one way to slay the troublesome
Physical-Poison dual immune monsters. Again I've yet to make
the runeword so I don't know if Berserk works when
shape shifted.

"Crescent moon" runeword: For the price of a rare Um
rune, characters get Increased Attack Speed, % Enhanced
Damage, Ignore Target Defence and Open Wounds. The biggest
advantage is the chance to cast Static Field on striking
which should trigger enough with repeated uses of Fury.

Islestrike: Although I've yet to find one myself, this is a
very nice weapon to use all the way up to Hell and beyond
if players decide to upgrade it. The combination of +skills,
Crushing Blow, a small boost to Fury and statistics makes
this a nice weapon to use up to the end of the game. The
requirements aren't too steep either. If a poison rainbow
facet is found, socketing the weapon with it increases the
effectiveness of Rabies.

Plague Bearer: Compared to Islestrike, the stats on this
unique sword aren't as desirable overall. However +5 to
Rabies is unmatched elsewhere so players going all out to
maximise Rabies damage will like this weapon.

"Realistic" setup
Dark Clan Crusher: Low damage, but +2 to skills and Crushing
Blow is perfectly acceptable through Nightmare and it's
useful as a weapon switch for higher skills to change to
Werewolf form or to summon the Oak Sage.

Fleshrender: +1 to all skills, +2 to Shape-shifting.
Crushing Blow, Open Wounds and Prevent Monster Heal. Not
very difficult to find like the suggestion above and
perfectly acceptable to use even into Hell difficulty.
Upgradeable if you have the runes for slightly better damage
at almost no difference to requirements.

"Black" runeword: Thanks to improved countess drops, this is
not difficult to create. It's a budget option for Crushing
Blow and increased attack speed, the knockback mod can be
useful after poisoning targets to keep them away from
retaliating range.

Crafted blood weapons: War axes and their exceptional/elite
equivalents can be bought in stores or found off monsters.
The remaining ingredients required can be obtained from
regular adventuring. Although the weapon doesn't have
the Crushing Blow mod, getting a decent % enhanced damage
and life steal mod makes this a useful weapon through normal
and most of Nightmare difficulty.

Rare club-class weapon with +2 skills: If the weapon base
damage is high, by all means use it. Players will have to
find Crushing Blow, Open Wounds, Deadly Strike and other
special mods from elsewhere. Perfectly acceptable for using
as a weapon switch option.

Mods to look out for: Increased % to block, faster block
rate, resistances, % Damage Reduction, High base defence,
% Enhanced defence.

"Dream" setup
Stormshield: Every other guide elsewhere mentions this
shield and it's not hard to see why. Huge % Damage reduction
and a high block rate are the main reasons for recommending
the shield. Resistance aren't that great other than for Cold
and Lightning so either a perfect diamond, Um rune, +resist
jewel or a perfect ruby (Fire resist) will do for socketing

"Sanctuary" runeword:
Not quite as rare as Stormshield, but
the combination of a Mal rune from regular play and a decent
Pavise/Hyperion in Hell difficulty make this very
unobtainable except for dedicated players. The Countess in
v1.13 now drops Hel, Io and Lum runes with astounding
regularity so finding/ cubing up to a Mal rune is doable
with patience and some luck. The shield mods are solid, high
block rate, +Dexterity, +resistances and even charges for
slow missiles to help tackle ranged packs. 

"Recommended" setup
Gerke's Sanctuary: Nice defence, good +resistances and a
high block rate. Integer physical and magic damage reduction
is also nice. Only things it lacks are % Damage Reduction
and faster block rate. Don't upgrade since Aegis shields
have absurdly high strength requirements.

Lidless Wall: My recommendation for a shield switch option.
+1 to skills on a shield isn't common and this is one of the
few options available. It's better for a caster character
but the mods are good for mana regeneration. 

"Splendour" runeword: If you don't have lidless wall, this
is the next best choice for skills, magic find and a few
other bonuses. The one thing it lacks is resistances which
the lidless wall can provide if socketed.

"Realistic" setup
Moser's Blessed Circle: Empty sockets, semi-decent block
chance and +resistances. Otherwise not a great choice but

Whitstan's Guard: Highest block rate for shields in the
entire game and almost nothing else. It's possible to socket
for a perfect diamond or Um rune but it offers absolutely
nothing else other than dexterity savings.
Sigon's Shield: Easiest source for +1 to skills on a shield.
Not useful for a main shield past normal.

Ancient's pledge Tower shield/Pavise: Solid resistances on
shields with the best base blocking chance.

"Rhyme" runeword: Probably best in a Gothic/Tower shield in
Normal and Grim Shield/Pavise in Nightmare. The runes are
very common and obtainable without the need to run the
Countess repeatedly. Reasonable block rate (with the right
base shield), +resistances and %Magic Find. Cannot be Frozen
as early as character level 17 has its perks.

Tiamat's Rebuke: This shield isn't desirable for its
defensive mods, it's the addition of elemental damages that
make it useful in Hell difficulty if the dual-immune monster
turns up and players have no alternative weaponry to finish
it off.

Rare shields: Deflecting and resistance mods will do fine.
+1 to all Druid skills isn't obtainable though.

Mods to look out for: High base defence, % Enhanced
defence, +skills, % Damage reduction, +resistances

"Dream" Setup 

"Chains of Honour" runeword: Even with the improved Countess
drops mentioned above, I honestly doubt anyone but the
luckiest and most dedicated single player gamers will ever
hope to see the Ber rune required to complete the runeword.
The runeword is more or less perfect for this build with the
only issue finding the appropriate 4 socket armour as well
as the Ber and Ist runes required.

"Bramble" runeword: If you thought Chains of Honour was
hard, try seeing Ohm and Sur runes without doing thousands
of Countess runs or single player Hellforge rushes. The
runeword isn't that amazing in my opinion bar the +100% to
poison skill damage which can boost a fully synergised
Rabies past 8k damage.

Leviathan: Obtaining this armour isn't anywhere near as
impossible as the high-level runeword armours, however it's
not a common drop since the monsters that can drop it are
few in number. Main draw is the nice % Damage reduction and
enhanced defence. Assuming an ethereal version exists, that
should be more than enough defence to last through hell.

Naj's light plate: One of the few armours that provides
+skills and resistances, comparable to Skin of the Vipermagi
and Que-Hagen's wisdom only without faster cast rate and
being far more difficult than either of the unique armours. 

Aldur's Deception: Considering how rare this armour is, the
mods aren't that amazing. Big boost to lightning resist and
+1 to shape shifting skills isn't worth running endless boss
runs over. Combined with the boots the +Vitality mod makes
it slightly more attractive. 

"Recommended" setup
"Lionheart" runeword: Runes are obtainable with enough
patience at Hell Countess runs with other characters. A nice
mix of defensive boosts like +resistances and +HP and the
offensive boosts to % Enhanced damage and +Strength.

"Smoke" runeword: Before v1.13, I'd succeeded in making
at least 3 of these on my characters without outside help.
With v1.13, it's likely that finding the right armour to
house the runeword will prove more difficult than the actual
runes themselves. +50 resist all and +75% Enhanced Defence
is the main draw.

Duriel's Shell: Not that common as to be realistic for
casual players, the perks include +resistances, +Life per
level, +Defence per level and the all important Cannot Be
Frozen make this useable up to Hell.

Shaftstop: 30% Damage reduction is just about the only
reason to recommend this armour.

Good exceptional/elite rare armours: These will turn up in
Nightmare and Hell difficulties, high defence with
resistances could be worth keeping. 

"Realistic" Setup
Rockfleece: I've found a couple for use on my own
characters. Upgraded once or twice using the Horadric cube
gives a reasonable high defence armour with a little %
damage reduction and integer damage reduction thrown in.

Skin of the Vipermagi: Definitely obtainable without outside
help. Main boost is +1 to skills and +resistances, the
drawback is defence is too low to be useable past late
Nightmare even when upgraded.

Helmet/Druid pelts

Mods to look out for: +skills, +resistances, life steal,
mana steal

"Dream" setup
Jalal's mane: Theoretically this pelt can drop in Nightmare,
but chances are most players will have to run Nightmare
Mephisto for quite a while before seeing this turn up. This
is the all-round helm that almost all druids aim for, huge
+skills, +resistances, faster hit recovery, % attack rating
and more. Socket with an Um rune for even more resistances,
a perfect Topaz for magic find or good rare jewels with nice

Cerebus' bite: Do enough Hell Mephisto runs and it will turn
up, however getting one to turn up with +4 to Shape Shifting
and high modifiers to % Attack Rating and % Life Steal is
unlikely. A +4 shape shifting variant is worth socketing
either with an Um rune for +resists or a Perfect Topaz for
magic find.

"Delirium" runeword: Finding a decent druid pelt with the
right mods for this runeword isn't easy, Ist runes require
far too many Countess runs to be worth pursuing, The end
product is extremely good for crowd control with +skills and
magic find thrown in. Shape shifting druids are far less
vulnerable to the delirium effect compared to other
characters since they can simply shape shift back to human
form at will.

Crown of Ages: Only available in Hell and only through
repeated boss runs, this has almost everything a melee
build could ask for. It even comes with sockets for further
customisation. Beware the 174 strength requirement.

"Recommended" setup
Rare druid pelts: Getting +2 to skills modifiers doesn't
take too long and is doable from Nightmare onwards. 

Vampiregaze: Dual leech modifiers and % damage reduction for
an all-round nice helm.

Darksight helm: Three modifiers worth recommending: Cannot
be Frozen, Mana steal and Level 5 Cloak of Shadows. Cloak of
Shadows is the antidote to hordes of ranged archers and
gloams reducing the druid to a pincushion before he can get
close to start killing.

Blackhorn's Face: Attack slows target and Prevent Monster
Heal are nice mods, but this is one of the few items with
lightning absorb to handle the inevitable lightning
enchanted monsters.

Aldur's Stony Gaze: The easiest to find in the Aldur set.
It's only recommendable for the 2 open sockets allowing for
more magic find or anything else that suits the player's
fancy. Faster Hit Recovery and big bonus to cold resist
could be a useful stopgap.

Sazabi's mental sheath: +1 to skills, small boost to
+resists and some defence. Useable for a while and then good
to pass over to the mercenary for lack of better options. 

"Realistic" setup
Rockstopper: % Damage reduction, Faster Hit Recovery and
nice boosts to resistances and Vitality make this a good
helm if pelts are hard to come by.

"Lore" runeword: +1 skills, decent lightning resists and
mana gained per kill makes this a budget solution readily
available before level 30.

Magic druid pelt with +skills: +1/+2 and a decent suffix
should be good enough to finish Hell for casual players.


Mods to look out for: Increased Attack Speed, Life/Mana
steal, +resists, +magic find

"Dream" setup
Good pair of crafted blood gloves: Fixed mods of crushing
blow, life steal and +life can potentially be supplemented
by more life steal, mana steal, increased attack speed and
more. A really good pair with 4 affixes is definitely
useable to finish the game in Hell difficulty.

Dracul's grasp: The life steal and +life per kill is nice,
but everyone recommends this pair of gloves for the chance
to cast life tap on striking. If the build is going up
against Burning Dead packs, this could prove a life-saver.

Soul drainer: Dual leech and monster defence reduction per
hit. Not as good as the other two recommendations above, but
it makes prolonged fights against bosses easier with each
hit from Fury softening the boss up for further attacks.

"Recommended" setup
Trang-Oul's Claws: The perfect Necromancer gloves, but +25%
to poison skill damage isn't obtainable on any item outside
of runewords and super-rare elite uniques.

Immortal King's Forge: On its own not very special, but
combined with another item in the set and % attack speed is
obtained. I suggest getting the belt if this is considered.

Venom Grip: Two of the mods on this unique are exactly the
same as those offered by the blood gloves, namely crushing
blow and life steal. It doesn't have Increased Attack Speed
and +poison resist is somewhat limited in usefulness.

Lava Gout: Increased Attack Speed, Fire Resist and
semi-decent base defence. The big draw is the chance to cast
Enchant which is fire damage and +AR for the troublesome
dual-immune monsters.

Hellmouth: This is a defensive pair of gloves limited to
fire-heavy areas like the Arcane Sanctuary and Demon imp
infestations. The occasional chance to cast fire spells are
unlikely to help killing speed past Normal.

Laying of Hands: This is an old favourite for boss runs
because of the +350% damage to demons mod. It does have
20% Increased Attack Speed and fire resist as well if
there's nothing better available.

"Realistic" setup
Bloodfist: Increased attack speed and faster hit recovery
isn't found on any other pair of gloves. The latter property
is less of an issue for this build because of the high
base life and inherently high faster hit recovery of the
werewolf form, but any bonus is welcome if confronted by
really hard-hitting melee mobs.

Decent rare gloves: Anything with Increased Attack Speed, 
life/mana steal of some kind and +resists is always helpful.


Mods to look out for: Belt slots, Faster Hit Recovery,

"Dream" setup
Verdungo's hearty cord: One of the few belts available with
% damage reduction, the boost to faster hit recovery and
lots of life make this a popular choice. Good luck trying to
find one without repeated boss runs and a lot of luck.

Arachnid mesh: Just as rare as the above, but this is better
for caster characters. It's not really worth keeping just
for the +1 to all skills.

Nosferatu's Coil/Siggard's Stealth: Life steal and increased
attack speed together on a belt slot isn't available
anywhere else. Attack slows target and +mana per
kill make this a good belt to hang on to if encountered.

High-level Blood belt: Open Wounds, life steal and +life as
pre-set mods. Potentially getting +resists and Faster Hit
Recovery if lucky. Only worth creating from mesh belts and
mithril coils for the belt slots.

"Recommended setup"
High-level Safety belt: Integer damage and magic damage
reduction along with increased %defence. Again only worth
making in demonhide and spiderweb sashes for the belt slots.

High-level Hitpower belt: 5-10% damage to mana should help
if the build lacks mana steal of any kind. Recommend using
battle belts since the elite counterpart may be too heavy
for some players.

String of ears: The other belt with % damage reduction, this
is available if you're lucky with Normal Baal. Life steal
and integer magic damage reduction makes this useable for
most of the game. Consider upgrading a belt with
particularly good mods for better defence.

Thundergod's Vigour: Along with Blackhorn's face, one of the
few items with lightning absorb. +Strength and +Vitality are
also nice to have.

Credendum: The Disciple Set belt has +15 to all resistances
and little else going for it.

Immortal King's Detail: Big boost to Fire and Lightning
resist, the boost to Strength and Defence is a minor plus,
combine with the gloves for more defence and Increased
Attack Speed on the gloves.

Trang-Oul's Girth: More stamina and life, but the big draw
is Cannot Be Frozen which is a crucial mod to have but not
readily available.

"Realistic Setup"
Nightsmoke: +resists and big %damage goes to mana modifier
make mana problems less likely considering the damage taken
in melee. Upgrade for more belt slots if the materials are
readily available.

Bladebuckle: Faster hit recovery and small integer damage

Decent rare belt: Depending on mods, faster hit recovery
with some resists should be achievable.


Mods to look out for: Faster Run/Walk, Stamina Recovery,
+resists, high base defence

"Dream" setup
Gore Rider: The boots themselves are not obscenely rare on
their own, but the mods on the boots are very attractive.
Faster Run/Walk coupled with Open Wounds, Crushing Blow and
Deadly Strike means looking for the special mods on weapon
and glove slots is less important.

Sandstorm Trek: If forced to run away from extra-strong
melee mobs, this is probably the best pair of boots to be
wearing. Faster Run/Walk, Faster Hit Recovery, plenty of
stamina and boosts to +Strength and +Vitality are good to

High-level safety boots: A little integer damage and magic
damage reduction, fire resist and enhanced defence with good
random mods could be worth considering.

"Recommended" setup
Natalya's Soul: Nice boost to cold and lightning resist and
maximum Faster Run/Walk bonus make this pair of boots worth
using up to the end of the game.

Immortal King's Pillar: Another candidate for combining with
the gloves, 2 items gives magic find in addition to the
maximum faster Run/Walk bonus and boost to life.

Aldur's Advance: On its own, not that useful apart from huge
bonus to fire resist and maximum faster Run/Walk, combining
it with the set armour allows the armour to gain +Vitality
which could be worth considering.

Infernostride: Combine this pair of boots with the Hellmouth
gauntlets for huge protection against fire-based attacks.

Waterwalk: Faster Run/Walk and boost to Dexterity and
Defence Vs. Missiles helps somewhat against ranged hordes.
+Life is always a welcome mod to have.

"Realistic" setup
Decent rare boots: A good combination of mods may not be
easily replaceable by difficult to find unique and set

Threads of Cthon: Budget marathon boots providing a bit
of help against ranged attacks.

Goblin Toe: The other pair of boots with Crushing Blow built

Tearhaunch: Faster Run/Walk with small boost to all


Mods to look for: +skills, +resists, life/mana steal, Magic
Find, +Life, +Min/Max Damage, Poison length reduction.

"Dream" setup
High-level +2 skills safety amulet: Considering character
level has to be minimum level 93 for all base amulets used
to definitely have a chance of spawning the +skills
modifier, this is unlikely to be ever used except in Act 4/5
Hell. The preset mods of integer damage and magic damage
reduction and increased blocking in particular indirectly
translate to more life as fewer points are invested in
dexterity to maintain max block. 

High-level +2 skills hitpower amulet: Rabies can work
its magic better when monsters run away from you and spread
the poison to their gathering friends. The same prohibitive
level requirement for +2 skills also applies.

Mara's Kaleidoscope: +2 to skills and big boost to all

Highlord's Wrath: +1 to all skills, Increased Attack Speed
and deadly strike that improves per level make this amulet
worth keeping if it's ever found.

Atma's scarab: No +skills, but the % Attack rating and
chance to cast amplify damage on attack provide a way to
deal with physical immune monsters with high poison

Rare +2 skills amulet: Similar to crafted amulets above, but
mods are fewer than the crafted variants.

"Recommended" setup
Crescent Moon: Dual leech amulet with the other mods means
mana isn't going to run out in a hurry.

Cat's eye: Increased Attack Speed and Faster Run/Walk along
with the other mods mean ranged attacks are less frightening
than they really are.

Saracen's chance: Boost to all resistances and stats.

Telling of Beads: Quite rare, but if found this will likely
be used for some time because of +1 skills and a boost to
2 resistances.

Rare +1 skills amulet: Not as good as a +2, but the overall
package may end up being used right up to the endgame.

Magic +3 Druid summoning amulet: Useful if found to prebuff
the Oak Sage. 

"Realistic" setup
The Eye of Etlich: +1 to skills, life steal and some cold

Mahim Oak Curio: Small boost to all resistances and stats,
10% boost to attack rating.

Decent rare amulet: Even without skills, amulets tend to
have mods that improve survivability e.g. +resists, +life


Mods to look out for: Life/Mana steal, special modifiers,
+resists, + Attack Rating, +damage, +elemental damage

"Dream" setup
Nature's Peace: One of the biggest drawbacks to this build
mentioned earlier is the lack of corpse utilisation skills.
If this ring is found, corpses are no longer a problem. If
necessary, the charges for Heart of Wolverine can be used
if AR is a serious problem against stone skin monsters.

Wisp projector: Not for long-term use, the lightning absorb
helps against gloams and lightning enchanted monsters.

"Recommended" setup
Raven Frost: This is the only ring that provides the Cannot
be Frozen ability, if the build does not have any equipment
that provides this mod then one ring slot will have to
be sacrificed to wear the ring. On the plus side, most cold
damage attacks won't be an issue while attack rating gets
a small boost.

Dwarf Star: A situational ring, if fire attacks are
difficult to take and the fire-resistant equipment above
aren't available, wielding this ring until the fire threat
is over should help survivability.

Bul-Kathos' wedding band: +1 to skills, +life per level and
life steal, however I don't recommend the ring if
resistances are too low.

"Realistic" setup
Angelic ring: Combined with the amulet in the same set, AR
does not become a problem early on when werewolf isn't fully

Dual leech rare rings: These do exist if gambling is done
often. Players might be lucky and get them as quest rewards.


Mods to look out for: +Resists, +Life, +Faster Hit Recovery,
+Elemental Damage.

Scintillating small charms of vita are ideal but extremely
hard to obtain. Small resist charms over 10% for a single
element are worth keeping. Look out for spiritual grand
charms, a good suffix is optional if you find them. For this
build I don't advise holding on to Gheed's Fortune since
charms are needed more for survival than for magic find.

6. Mercenary selection and equipment
Almost all builds in single player need a mercenary of some
kind to offset inherent weaknesses, this build is no
exception. A quick summary of the available hirelings given

Rogue archer: Cold arrow archer early in normal helps to
slow down and shatter some monsters, not worth keeping
beyond Act 1.

Desert mercenary: Defiance aura early on keeps the character
alive longer as blows land less often. Blessed aim could be
taken but it's not as crucial early on when AR differences
don't mean too much in strike rate. The Nightmare auras of
Might and Holy Freeze provide the offensive and crowd
control punch the character needs. The former is a huge help
if Crushing Blow isn't available in equipment while the
latter makes crowd control and corpse disposal less of a
problem against almost all monsters.

Iron Wolf Mage: Fire and Lightning are built for elemental
damage, in Hell difficulty the damage dealt isn't high
enough to help slay dual-immune monsters quickly while the
character takes the hits. Cold is a potential option in
Normal when corpse disposal is still an issue without cold
damage from equipment.

Barbarian mercenary: Very similar playstyle to the
character, rushes in and attacks until the opponent is slain
or the mercenary himself has fallen. Bash and Stun don't
offer much for crowd control over and above what Rabies is
capable of.

Normal - Defiance mercenary/Cold Iron Wolf Mage
Nightmare - Holy Freeze/Might mercenary
Hell - Same as Nightmare.

For each mercenary selected, I'll give a few suggestions
on what to equip.

Defiance mercenary

Armour: Anything with high base defence and +resists helps
for the duration of Normal. Some of the armours recommended
for the character also apply to this mercenary with the
added bonus that ethereal versions can be used without fear
of breaking on the mercenary.

Helmet: Anything with life steal and +resists will do.

Weapon: Any polearm or spear with high base damage and life
steal is enough for normal. Any special modifiers are a

Cold Iron Wolf Mage

Armour: If you can afford it, a "Stealth" runeword armour is
actually useful up until early Nightmare if you choose.
Otherwise high defence armour with +resists and
caster-friendly mods is welcome.

Helmet: High defence helmet with +resists.

Weapon: The good caster swords are only available from
Nightmare onwards, base damage swords don't matter much
since the Iron Wolf almost never swings it. With this in
mind, the best choice may well be Culwen's point or a rare
sword with +1 to skills.

Shield: The shield runewords do nicely, although investing
a Lum rune in a mercenary that will not see past early
Nightmare for the Splendour runeword may be too extravagant
without help from Hell countess runs.

Holy Freeze mercenary
The difference in equipment between this mercenary and the
Might variant is slight, but I recommend getting weapons
with higher base damage for this mercenary since the main
aim of this mercenary is to slow down mob attacks enough
for the character/mercenary to finish them off. Consequently
+skills equipment is more helpful to improve the aura's


"Dream" setup
"Duress" runeword: On characters this would be a good setup
to keep, but its value to mercenaries is much higher since
the runes involved are less rare (Um isn't the easiest
rune to find or to invest in a mercenary). A boost to all
resistances, faster hit recovery, enhanced damage, enhanced
defence, Crushing Blow and Open Wounds makes a solid choice
for either Nightmare mercenary variant.

"Gloom" runeword: The runes are rarer compared to the above,
but the benefits are more defensive compared to Duress.
Chance to cast Dim Vision when struck provide crowd control
of a sort, the Might mercenary benefits more here than the
Holy Freeze variant. 

Leviathan: Benefits for main character equally applicable
to the mercenary.

Gladiator's Bane: The argument for placing it on the main
character first is there, but if better armours are
available then the mods are perfectly useable on the
mercenary to help the character survive. Cannot be Frozen,
Faster Hit Recovery and integer damage and magic damage
reduction are always helpful for the innate high-resistances
and healing of the mercenary.

"Recommended" setup
"Stone" runeword: Two semi-rare runes and a high-demand
uncommon rune for immense defence, +stats and Faster Hit
Recovery. The runes are better spent on other combinations
if possible.

Duriel's Shell: Benefits for the main character are equally
applicable to the mercenary.

Shaftstop: As above.

Toothrow: I've used this in at least 2 other builds which
made it to Hell. It's not great for characters but
mercenaries see much use from Open Wounds and Attacker takes

Black Hades: 3 open sockets for customisation, the remaining
mods are so-so.

"Realistic" setup
Any armour given as a hand-me-down from the main character
should be just as useful to the mercenary.


"Dream" setup
Delirium: Only worth giving if the main character has the
elite druid pelts, the delirium effect is less problematic
since mercenaries can be resurrected.

Crown of Ages: Mods equally applicable to the mercenary,
only worth giving as a hand-me-down though.

Andariel's Visage: +Skills, Increased Attack Speed, Life
steal at the cost of reduced fire resistance. Wasting a
socket reward on a mercenary item is extravagant if the aim
is to insert a perfect ruby to counteract the negative

"Recommended" setup
Vampiregaze: Equally useful on a mercenary.

Blackhorn's face: As above, probably more so since narrow
areas with nasty lightning enchanted monsters (e.g. Maggot
lair) are easier to handle if the mercenary does the bulk of
the killing.

"Realistic" setup
Rockstopper: Probably better off with the mercenary if found
and a replacement helmet is obtained.

Good rare helms: Find decent helms while adventuring and
pass them to the mercenary if the character's own helmet
is better.

Here the main difference between the Might and Holy Freeze
mercenaries comes into play. Might mercenaries will like
weapons that confer some form of crowd control, Holy Freeze
mercenaries need all the base damage and special modifiers
they can get to compensate for their slower killing speed.

"Dream" setup
"Doom" runeword: This has been mentioned in other guides,
but getting the runes to assemble this runeword for the
Might mercenary gives all the advantages of the Holy Freeze
variant along with the Might aura from the mercenary. The
mods include +skills, Increased Attack Speed, % Enhanced
damage, Deadly Strike, Open Wounds, Prevent Monster Heal and
Hit Freezes Target. Good luck getting Ohm, Lo and Cham to
drop anytime soon.

Bonehew: Highest average damage unique polearm, it even
comes with 2 sockets for further customisation. Cheap
socketing choices would be an Amn/Life steal jewel and a
Shael/Increased attack speed jewel, the best possible
combination for a Holy Freeze merc would likely be Amn and
Ber runes.

Reaper's Toll: Less damage than Bonehew, but the chance to
cast Decrepify makes many physical immune monsters lose
their immunity to regular attacks. Ignore Target Defence,
life steal and Deadly Strike offer a solid package for
either variant.

Tomb Reaver: This is so rare it's almost not worth
mentioning, but it exists and works well with characters
interested in magic find. The increase to resistances is
also desirable but the open sockets in the weapon allow
significant customisation according to available equipment.

Arioc's Needle: Not the most damaging weapon available for
the mercenary, a potential +4 skills and Deadly Strike makes
a good enhancement to the Might mercenary.

Steel Pillar: Raw damage, Crushing Blow, -% Target defence,
Increased Attack Speed and % Enhanced Defence are all geared
towards fast killing speed. No life steal so that has to be
made up elsewhere.  
"Recommended" setup
Blackleach Blade: Life steal and semi-decent damage for a
decent stopgap for most of Nightmare and early Hell

Pierre Tombale Couant: Highest average damage of the
exceptional polearms, Deadly Strike and Faster hit Recovery.
This is one of the more common exceptional uniques so
getting the weapon in Nightmare from regular questing is
not unheard of.

Grim's Burning Dead: Low average damage, but the extra fire
damage and reduction to target defence is helpful in its own

Kelpie Snare: Even with a might mercenary, the damage on
this spear even when upgraded/ethereal isn't par past
Nightmare. The main reason to use this spear is for the
huge 75% slows target upon a successful hit meaning bosses
are far less threatening after a few blows are struck before
the mercenary is slain.

Hone Sundan: The "Bone breaker" has Crushing Blow and three
open sockets for further customisation. A cheap option for
the sockets is two Amn runes and a Shael for faster killing
speed and survivability. An ethereal Hone Sundan may well be
worth upgrading to the elite version assuming the mercenary
can handle the heightened requirements.

"Realistic" setup
Woestave: If found, this is a surprisingly useful polearm
for crowd control. Open Wounds, Hit Slows Target, Hit Blinds
Target, - Monster Defence per hit, Freeze Target and Prevent
Monster Heal is quite a lot of special mods on a humble
normal polearm. Upgrading the polearm doesn't improve damage
much but Might mercenaries can compensate with their aura at
higher levels.

The Grim Reaper: 100% Deadly Strike and Prevent Monster
Heal. This doesn't have quite the longevity of Woestave but
it will do nicely until a better weapon turns up.

Bloodthief: Open Wounds and life steal, nothing spectacular
after Normal.

Any rare high-damage polearm or spear: If the mods are good,
let the mercenary use it until something better turns up.
For rares, the damage rating is probably the biggest
deciding factor.

7. General gameplay
I've given a rough guide on how to distribute skill points
in an earlier section, here a rough guide on how to play the
character will be briefly described.

Normal difficulty: Once the first few skill points are
invested into the prerequisites like Werewolf and
Lycanthropy, remaining points can be either be saved up for
the level 6 skills or invested into Werewolf. Before level
18, this character behaves exactly like a
barbarian/paladin/regular melee build with above-average
health and below-average swing speed. Use the poison creeper
in Chapter 1 to distract hordes and grab cheap kills. Get a
decent shield as quickly as possible and invest in dexterity
until shield block rate is achieved. Remaining points can be
invested in Strength (enough to wear medium armour by
chapter 2, afterwards it's up to player discretion but 110
by the end of Normal should be the target) and Vitality.
Once level 18 is reached, Rabies is available and playstyle
changes slightly. Alternate Rabies and Feral Rage attacks
while the poison runs its course, if possible try and attract
as many monsters so that the Rabies contagion can spread
freely. Once level 30 is achieved, Fury is available and
combat becomes a simple matter of cycling between the three
skills until opponents are slain. 

Nightmare difficulty: More or less the same as Normal
difficulty, only monsters are tougher and the character has
all of the key skills activated. Ranged monsters like Dark
Archers and the like are more dangerous so hiring the Holy
Freeze merc as soon as possible will help with crowd control
and corpse disposal to some extent. Some of the recommended
equipment should start to drop/become available for use
during Nightmare so equipment upgrades shouldn't be
neglected. For stat allocation invest enough in strength
until the character's base strength (and bonus strength) is
enough to equip all of the desired equipment. Remaining
points go into dexterity to maintain block percentage and
vitality for more life. With the new respec reward granted
by Akara in all 3 difficulties, any minor mistakes made
during level-up can be corrected provided the player backs
up the player save file before resetting skill and stat
point allocations.

Hell difficulty: Monsters get stronger and tougher much
faster than compared to Nightmare. In addition the
dual-immune monsters will make fairly regular appearances
throughout all chapters. Players will either equip
mercenaries with sufficient elemental damage weapons to
finish the job or have their own equipped to handle the
unique monsters. Some of the equipment suggestions I've
given have several methods of dealing with physical+poison
immune unique monsters.


Andariel in all difficulties is hard, for normal you
won't do enough damage to leech back what she deals to you,
for nightmare and hell her poison resistance is so high
Rabies does little to no damage. Bring antidote potions and
rejuvenation potions along and be prepared to run a lot back
to town for healing and potions in normal. Once Crushing
Blow and good shields are equipped, Andariel becomes easier
to handle.

Duriel hits harder than any monster encountered thus far
in normal, the holy freeze aura also slows attack speed
significantly. Hit and run is the only advice I can give so
fast boots are a necessity. By Nightmare and Hell all core
skills have been developed and it's a matter of outlasting
Duriel with full rejuvenation potions and/or high damage
life steal attacks.

Mephisto is more dangerous at range than in melee, pretend
you're fighting a pumped up Andariel with a weaker poison
attack and more elemental attacks.

Diablo's red lightning hose always seems to finish off my
melee characters if I'm bogged down in melee, fortunately
Rabies works well in a hit and run capacity regardless of
difficulty. No need to bother with Feral Rage from Nightmare
onwards since Diablo becomes immune to leeching. 

Run up to Baal quickly and keep hitting until he collapses.
Full rejuvenation potions are a must to deal with the mana
rift. Keep fire and cold resistances high when taking on

The Venom lords in the Chaos Sanctum and Baal's throne are
immune to Rabies so keep fire resistances high and stick
to Feral Rage and Fury for attacks. Rabies works against the
Minions of Destruction so hit and run is a workable

8. Acknowledgements and Credits
Blizzard North for developing the game.
Arreat Summit for the item lists and skill trees at a
indiablo.de for the various calculators.
Various guides on the gamefaqs website for this game.
Anyone who bothered reading and found the guide useful.

9. Contact information
If readers have any constructive input to give to this
guide, send any emails with the heading "Rabies druid guide"
to the following email address:

Replace the words in brackets with the appropriate symbols.
Not following the instructions above is a quick delete of
the message.

I will not update the guide to include duelling information
or the realm-only runewords, other guides on gamefaqs and
other websites have more than enough info on the runewords
available and how best to use them.

For readers who think I can't spell, try checking my guide
with an English (UK) spell check function before bothering
to write to me about the "obvious" spelling mistakes.   

10. Version history

1.0: First version completed.   

11. Legal Notice
This guide may not be reproduced under any circumstances
except for personal, private use. It may not be placed on
any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without
advance written permission. Use of this guide on any other
web site not listed or as a part of any public display is
strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright.

All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are
owned by their respective trademark and copyright holders.

This FAQ is copyrighted by Feng Liangju 2010

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