One reason I've kept Diablo 2 installed on various different computers for a full ten years now is the fact that I can always take a break from the game for a year or so, and then come back fresh again for more. While the interminable wait for Diablo 3 continues to drag out, I decided to go back and play out another variant build that I had always wanted to do, the skeletal warriors (not mages!) necromancer. And yes, I'm aware that I still have two other Hardcore characters parked midway through Hell difficulty. Don't remind me! We'll get back to them in due time.
I named my character Kell, short for the awful pun "S" Kell E. Tonn, which will never be mentioned again. Kell will be based around the Raise Skeleton skill, and use them for his primary offense. That means no skeletal mages, no revives, and only very weak golem support. I'll restrict him to one point in Clay Golem and one point in Golem Mastery, and leave it at that. This also has the advantage of saving three skill points by not going to Fire Golem! On the curse tree, Kell won't have to go to Lower Resist (no means of dealing elemental damage), so there's another few skill points saved by not having to reach the bottom of the tree. Kell will need the old standby of Iron Maiden, of course, for downing the act-end bosses if nothing else. Against enemies like Duriel and the Ancients, skeletal warriors won't be enough to cut it. Kell's also going to use quite a bit of Dim Vision; you might think this would be pointless with melee-only skeletal warriors, however Dim Vision will let Kell eliminate any ranged attacker that the skeletons aren't currently engaged with from the fight, and that will be a very big deal indeed! Any necromancer eschewing Dim Vision is playing with a giant handicap.
The two curses I plan to emphasize the most though will be Amplify Damage and eventually Decrepify. Amp lowers physical resistance by 100%, effectively doubling the damage that the skeletons dish out! While that's pointless for a variant that emphasizes the skeletal mages, like Skulla, it will make a huge difference for Kell. Later on, I plan to upgrade to Decrepify, which is practically an uber curse for someone using skeletal warriors. Decrep lowers physical resistance by 50%, and also reduces monster speed AND damage by 50% on top of that! In other words, it will increase the damage of the skeletons by half, while reducing the damage they take by a factor of four (half speed times half damage). The big weakness of Decrep is its small area of effect and very short duration; Kell can't do anything about the area of effect, but I will have some skill points to spare in bumping up the duration. A mixture of Dim Vision against ranged attackers and Decrep against physical foes seems like the best way to keep those warriors alive. In theory, anyway!
My goal will be to take Kell up through the end of Nightmare and stop there. This is not a character build designed to take on Hell difficulty, and it's more for fun than some of the other ones I've tried. I will keep Strength low and add nothing to Dexterity, allowing me to place all of the stat points into Vitality and Energy. I will of course be full-clearing the game on one pass through, no repetition of areas or twinking/muling of items, with Kell getting by on whatever he happens to find, gamble, or craft. I'll also play this character Hardcore... you know, just to make it interesting. I definitely shouldn't die in Normal, and then we'll see what happens when I get to Nightmare.
Time to prove that the skeletal warriors alone are more than enough to complete this game!