This is a build which focuses on causing a wide range of elemental damage, so monsters with immunities can be overcome without having to develop another element of attack and hoping it will be enough. It is based on the skills Vengeance and Conviction, but like other builds, other skills become important for a successful Paladin.
Strength: Vengeance does not apply Strength in calculating for elemental damage, so allocate only enough points to wear equipment.
Dexterity: There are two options. The first, and most popular, is to use a shield and put enough points for a 75% block chance. The second, wielding a two-handed weapon. Wielding a two-hander is not as popular, but given the massive damage some of these can output, it is certainly possible.
Vitality: Vitality is an important stat, all extra points should be allocated here, but it's a question of play style.
Energy: This should be left at base, as the character will have decent mana at higher levels. However, the skill may be mana intensive at the beginning or with a heavy investment, so Mana leech or items that give mana per kill will help offset this.
This is a tight build. The skill has four synergies, not to mention the usual skills that round out a successful paladin. The Conviction aura is also a preferred choice, and in that 20 points is usually invested, as there's no mana cost and the perk of breaking immunities more effectively and overriding other conviction-using monsters. Holy Shield is also a good choice, but it is not unknown to have avengers using a good two-hander.
Vengeance: The main attack skill of the build, deals elemental damage with each successful strike. Maxing out this skill and its synergy skills is important. However, in early stages of the game, investing a few points in the elemental resistance auras may be preferable to maxing out vengeance as the mana demands of this build can be somewhat high.
Conviction: The most popular choice for an avenger. Further increasing damage by lowering enemy resistances and defense rating, although there are certainly times when another aura becomes appropriate. In PvP it is mainly used when the enemy does not have high elemental damage, and to increase chances of hitting.
Salvation: Salvation is handy when the player is not certain what sort of elemental damage they will be encountering. Random duels, vampires and wisps in the same area, for example. On the other hand, Salvation will only donate a total of 6% elemental damage per point, where the resistance aura donates 10% and Vengeance will add a total of 18%. If going the route of a two handed weapon, bulking up on this skill would be a preferred choice, as shields are usually sought out to quickly boost resistances.
Elemental Resistance Auras: These are useful for more than one aspect. The first is in knowing what enemies are spawned in an area, damage could be cut that would be lethal in other cases, the wisps in the Worldstone Keep, for example. The second is the hidden bonus to maximum resistances. There is a +1% for every point (up to 95%) and also transfers to party members.
Fanaticism: Some choose to build on Fanaticism instead of Conviction as the increase in speed and physical damage can be quite impressive and in some gear setups might be preferable. However, it does not break immunities, nor does it increase elemental damage. Given that there are so many synergies to this build, players would be best off choosing one or the other.
With secondary skills, these are optional. It would cost a fair bit to invest anything other than a single point in these skills, meaning that in PvP, a player should overlook everything but a single point in Smite. In PvM, however, these skills might provide significant assistance.
Smite: Just a single point in Smite can greatly assist in PvP or in boss fights. It is an attack which does not miss unless the paladin's attack is interrupted. If the player has gear with crushing blow, open wounds, knockback, etc., this can be used until the effects are activated and then return to Vengeance as an attack.
Holy Shield: This is a very helpful skill in Nightmare and Hell difficulties, it increases a shield's block chance, smite damage and overall defense rating.
Redemption: Bone Fetish monsters in the same area as Horadrim Ancients without any help from Druid Vines or Corpse Exploding Necromancers, this skill can be used to clean up the corpses in the area. It also donates Health/Mana immediately. Another handy 1 point wonder.
There are two main ways to play an Avenger. The first is using one-handed weapons with shields, it is reliable and recommended, because Vengeance does adequate amounts of damage even in Hell and the perks of a shield will make things a lot easier. Second is the using of two-handed weapons. It is not recommended, but it is still possible to play in this style, but like any character that uses a two-handed weapon, building resistances is a priority. Physical Damage reduction will also come in handy.
Like any other melee build, "Cannot Be Frozen" and some amount of Crushing Blow are two essential attributes to acquire. While a Crushing Blow does not benefit from your bonuses with Vengeance, it can be quite handy when facing monsters like Bosses for removing the initial huge chunks of life that cannot be done so easily with straight damage.
The bottom line, the Avenger ideally wants a fast weapon with a high base damage as you are hitting one monster at a time and Vengeance only calculates its damage off your weapon's base damage.
Players can use easier-to-obtain items like higher end uniques or upgraded exceptional uniques. Demon Limb, or an upgraded Atlantean. Voice of Reason is also a decent choice as it is not difficult to construct, has "Cannot Be Frozen" and a lot of cold damage.
Oath is a fairly easy-to-construct runeword if made in a good damage ethereal weapon such as a Conquest Sword or Berserker Axe, as it has the Indestructible attribute.
If wealth is no object, Beast, Breath of the Dying or Last Wish runewords are a top choice. Although Beast's Fanaticism aura won't help in damage calculations, the movement and increased attack speed are certainly a perk. Also, Beast's extra life, with generic + skills, and werebear, is much appreciated. Hand of Justice is also a very good option as it grants increased physical damage, life leech and fire damage through a high level Holy Fire Aura. The Avenger's Conviction Aura will help break the immunity of many monsters in Hell Difficulty that are immune to fire.
Buff combination: A popular choice for those who obtain a Call To Arms rune word, having the CtA and a Spirit rune word in the shield slot coupled with a lot of generic +skills items such as Mara's Kaleidoscope can grant significant buff to the party's mana and life, not to mention the +1 to all skills granted from the Battle Command war cry.
Crown of Ages: Physical Damage Reduction, sockets and resistance bonus makes this a good choice.
Andariel's Visage: A popular choice, due to its poison resistance, and +2 skill bonus. It also donates a -30% fire resistance penalty.
Vampire Gaze: With dual leech and physical resistance on it, it is solid choice that is not difficult to find.
Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest: Strong dual leech, life, mana, resistances. These make the famous sorceress set's head piece a real strong helm for any melee fighter.
Guillaume's Face: 35% Crushing Blow and a 15% of critical strike, this is a great, easy to obtain alternative to Giant Skull.
Rockstopper: Great all around resistance bonuses. Physical damage reduction. Easy to obtain.
Kira's Guardian: High resistances. Has "Cannot be Frozen" and some Faster Hit Recovery
Guardian Angel: Gives + to all skills and %15 to all maximum resistances, plus has good defense and attack rating bonuses.
Leviathan: Shaftstop's bigger brother. 25% PDR
Enigma: +2 All skills. Massive attribute boost. Teleport. Just remember that the Teleport skill uses mana from the same source as the Vengeance skill.
Chains of Honor: +2 All skills. Good resistance bonuses. Life Leech.
Duriel's Shell: Cannot be Frozen, resistance bonuses and vitality bonus. Also easy to obtain
There are plenty of options for shields. From The Ward to Stormshield, they all have their perks. The following are simply the popular choices.
Herald of Zakarum: Skill boost, Resistance bonus and blocking bonuses. An excellent choice.
Ancient's Pledge: added to a Paladin Shield with high +resist all. It is not difficult to take a +20-30 Resist all and turn it into a +70-80% resist all with runes that are awarded in Act 5.
Exile: Life Tap, bonus to offensive Auras among other perks.
Spirit: On a budget but you have a nice 4 socket paladin shield? An excellent choice when starting out. Skill bonus, huge hit recovery bonus and some good resistance bonuses.
Stormshield: Resistances are a perk, but the block rate and the physical damage reduction are the big plusses to this shield.
Soul Drainer: Mana and life steal will help you very much and the reduction it causes to monster's defense + conviction is helpful solo or in groups.
Dracul's Grasp: Life tap is always handy if Last Wish or Exile is not a part of the Paladin's gear.
Lava Gout: Offers IAS, fire resist, and fire damage (which will be boosted by the potential to cast a level 10 enchant while attacking).
Verdungo's Hearty Cord: Physical damage reduction, and vitality bonus.
String of Ears: For the same reason as some wear Verdungo's, great damage reduction but much easier to get.
Arachnid Mesh: Bonus to skills, slow opponent.
War Traveler: Widely regarded as the best boots for the Avenger. Adds a fixed damage bonus that will help increase the damage output of Vengeance. Also offers increased movement speed, boosts to strength and vitality, and a high level magic find.
Goblin Toe: Gore Rider's little brother. If looking to boost crushing blow, these can do until Gore Riders are obtained.
Gore Rider: Three great melee attributes. Deadly Strike, Open Wounds and Crushing Blow. A top choice if not treasure hunting
Silkweave: Mana per kill, a max mana bonus and a good boost to your walk/run speed.
Crescent Moon: Dual leech and good Magic Damage Reduction.
The Cat's Eye: Speed boost and fairly easy to obtain.
Highlord's Wrath: Speed boost and +1 skill bonus.
Mara's Kaleidoscope: The usual cookie cutter amulet for paladin characters. And for good reason. +2 All skills, +20-30% all resistances.
Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band: + skills and life bonus.
Manald Heal: A Stone of Jordan would be preferable, but the mana leech is a perk and is quite easy to obtain when compared to the Stone of Jordan.
Raven Frost: A common choice for melee characters because of its "Cannot Be Frozen" attribute.
Although many players solo with their characters, Hirelings can certainly increase the survivability of any character if maintained properly. Typically, most choose the Act 2 Defensive Mercenary in Nightmare Difficulty (the "Holy Freeze Merc") or the Offensive version (the "Might Merc"), but the others have plenty of potential if geared properly. The Helmet and Armor are standard choices, the only thing that would vary are the weapons. Act 3 Hirelings with cold attacks used to be popular, but are rare now due to many monsters being immune to their attacks. Although Barbarians are quite rugged, they can be overcome by large mobs. On the other hand, properly equipped, he can definitely play a major factor in increasing the character's survivability. And the Rogue Archer should not be counted out either, although without particular gear her ability to assist in later stages of the game diminishes by quite a bit. Although the weapons vary, the armor and helmet choices are mostly stock, with some variance in regards to armor.
Guillaume's Face: Crushing Blow and Deadly Strike.
Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest: Mostly for the 10 percent life leech and +15 to Resistances. Vampire Gaze, Crown of Thieves and Stealskull are also popular choices for their ease of finding and life leech.
Kira's Guardian or Darksight Helm: The reason for choosing either helmet is the Cannot Be Frozen attribute.
Fortitude Runeword: 300% Enhanced damage against everything.
Duress Runeword: Features 15% chance of Crushing Blow.
Gladiator's Bane: Cannot be Frozen and integer damage reduction at a level that actually makes a difference.
Hwanin's Refuge: Static Field proc. Still useful even if lightning immunes aren't affected by it in Hell Difficulty.
Treachery: may be of more benefit to a Rogue for the Increased Attack Speed.
Skin of the Vipermagi. Iron Wolves can make better use of the Faster Cast Rate as they usually attack from range.
Duriel's Shell: For Hirelings, this armor is prized much for being relatively easy to find, its Cannot be Frozen attribute and Vitality bonus.
Rogue (Act 1)Edit
Faith: The Fanaticism aura and obscene damage are the big perks of this bow.
Ice: The chief reason for this selection is the Holy Freeze Aura.
Witchwild String: Amplify Damage proc and two sockets to customize it with.
Riphook: Slows opponent and Open Wounds.
Desert Mercenary (Act 2)Edit
Hone Sundan: Crushing Blow and three sockets.
Reaper's Toll: Decrepify Proc.
Obedience: Crushing Blow and an Enchant Proc.
Infinity: Boasts a Conviction aura. A very popular runeword for those specialized in elemental attacks as it will break many elemental immunities. However, unless the player plans to have a main aura other than Conviction, this item is a waste of time for an Avenger's Mercenary.
Insight: Has a Meditation Aura that will help alleviate mana demands.
Once could also add Breath of the Dying, Last Wish, Death or Doom as well, as these are very powerful. They are also equally difficult to create.
Iron Wolf (Act 3)Edit
Spirit Sword and Spirit Shield: This combination will give the hireling excellent resistance bonuses as well as a total +4 to their skill levels.
Lidless Wall: Has +1 to all skills and a Faster Cast Rate bonus.
Rhyme: Has Cannot Be Frozen and Faster Hit Recovery.
Barbarians (Act 5)Edit
There are numerous swords that a Barbarian can use that listing them all would be impractical. Here are four uniques and four runewords particularly beneficial to them:
Bloodletter: Fast, and has life leech. The sword will likely be obsolete by early Hell, however.
Headstriker: Level dependent Deadly Strike as well as level dependent maximum damage.
Azurewrath: The base damage is a bit low, but the added damage makes this blade frightening once it can be equipped
The Grandfather: Very high damage and Attack Rating bonus.
Lawbringer: a runeword that is easy to build that features a Decrepify proc.
Breath of the Dying, Grief, Death are also options, albeit difficult ones considering the runes required.
Vengeance: Vengeance is a skill that adds elemental damage to every successful attack.
Vengeance does use these modifiers in calculating the elemental damage:
1. - Enhanced or min/max damage from socketing in the weapon.
2. - Min/max damage from socketing in off weapon equipment.
3. - Min/max damage from items or charms.
4. - Weapon and item added damage that reads "adds xx damage" such as Butchers pupil, War traveller boots and Blood Fist gloves.
Vengeance does not use these modifiers in calculating the elemental damage:
1. - Auras enhanced damage such as Might or Fanaticism.
2. - Weapon added damage that reads "damage + xx" such as Grief rune word and The Redeemer. This has been tested in game to not work.
3. - Factors such as Deadly Strike, Open Wounds or Crushing Blow.
4. - Strength. Vengeance works from weapon damage only.
5. - Off weapon enhanced damage such as socketed jewels or Lion Heart, Fortitude or Duress rune words.
Conviction: Conviction is a necessary for causing the highest possible damage with Vengeance, since it reduces the resistances of enemies, some important points.
1. - Conviction is capped at -150% which is reached at slvl25.
2. - Conviction can break immunity, but when breaking an immunity, it will only function at 1/5 effectiveness.
1. - Immunities are resistances over 100%. Lowering a resistance below 100% breaks the immunity of the target and it becomes vulnerable to the specific damage type.
2. - With more resistant lowering effects working at the same time - such as Conviction and Lower Resist -, only the strongest one tries to break immunity, if it fails to lower the resistance below 100%, than the other effects will not be used in further calculations. 3. - Player character cannot become immune to any damage type, though resistances can be increased over 75%, there is no way to increase any resistance over 95%, it is the final cap.