Path of Exile Shadow Ethereal Knives Low Life Build – THE SCORPION

Looking for a high AOE DPS build for your shadow? This Ethereal Knives shadow uses a combination of unique items and support gems to turn himself into a low-life killing machine. You’ll find yourself screaming “GET OVER HERE” as you eviscerate enemies with your fan of throwing knives. This build was submitted by “Dr. Bubbles” and is the first build featured in the Battle of the Builds contest.

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Theorycrafting the Shadow Ethereal Knives Build

Ethereal Knives is a spell skill, thus it is unaffected by the wrath and anger auras which greatly increase the damage of attack skills. And since Ethereal Knives deals its damage as physical damage it is also unaffected by +elemental damage passives.

Therefore in order to optimize the damage of the build we will pick up the pain attunement keystone passive. Pain attunement is a keystone that increases your spell damage by 30% when you are low on life. The low life condition is applied to your character whenever your hitpoint drops below 35%.

Redbeak Path of ExileIn addition to pain attunement the unique sword Redbeak is vital to increasing the damage output of this Shadow. By keeping our life below 35% we gain the 100% increased damage bonus from Redbeak. 100%! Yeah, that makes my man parts tingle.

Honourhome Chainmail Coif Path of ExileThe unique chain coif Honourhome also has great bonuses when you are low on life. This helm will give your character +40% to all elemental resists and a -20% mana cost on all spells while low on life(except for auras).

Another useful unique are Wondertrap boots. These boots grant +100% item quality while you are low on life, and since this build calls for you being low on life 24/7 you will get +100% item quality from ONE item. Amazing. These boots should be used while farming and swapped out for boots with high energy shield when facing more difficult encounters.

Wondertrap Velvet Slippers Path of Exile

Hrimsorrow Goathide Gloves Path of ExileAnd finally we will use Hrimsorrow gloves. These gloves convert 25% of physical damage to cold damage. Because the build has a 20% crit chance and attacks very fast this allows you to freeze enemies often, greatly reducing the amount of incoming damage that you and your party takes.

Using all of these unique items does reduce the build’s survivability because you are losing a high amount of energy shield. Wearing rares with high + energy shield would make the build much more defensive thus you should keep an eye out for these types of items as you level.

Congratulations, You are a Low Life!

To achieve the “low life” status your HP must fall below 35%. This is achieved through running the aura hatred with the support gem blood magic leveled up to level 11. Using blood magic on hatred increases the mana reserved to 65%, and that blood magic support gem then changes the mana reserved into health reserved, thus putting you below 35% hp at all times, letting you receive the benefit of all of these “low life” bonuses from skills and items.

Skills and Support Gems

Bear Trap – High single target DPS and also causes immobilization. At level 55 Dr. Bubbles does 6,300 DPS with his Bear Trap. This skill is unsupported with any gems.

Ethereal Knives – AOE fan of knives. Socketed in a 5 link with support gems: increased critical strikes, increased critical damage, faster casting, and faster projectiles. Dr. Bubbles has tried experimenting with Chain on Ethereal Knives but found that mana costs too prohibitive especially since Ethereal Knives already has ten projectiles by default.

Hatred – with the support gem blood magic leveled up to level 11(level blood magic to 11)

Haste – increases your attack speed, cast speed, and movement speed. Fantastic for farming. Support gem information to come.


We’ve already touched on many of the equipment that really make this build effective. This would make a really good twink character as the uniques all have low level requirements, especially since you can get the Redbeak sword with 15 points by participating in the hardcore race events.

Focus on energy shield as your primary defensive stat. +Life is useless for this shadow. Build up your resists- especially chaos resist because your health pool is so low and energy shield does not stop chaos damage. Look for increased cast speed on items as well to increase your DPS.

For farming wear gear that gives +item rarity and +item quantity. Dr. Bubbles says he is farming The Ledge with this loadout until level 70.

The Build

Link to the build – Updates to this will come as I get them from Dr. Bubbles

Plan to pick up energy shield and crit chance as you level beyond these points.

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of the Battle of the Builds. Check here for more builds featured in the battle, and let me know in the comments what sorts of builds you would like to see in the future!


      • Immortal says

        Hey i’m trying this build out so far running 360% rarity 30% quantity haven’t got myself a 5 link yet im just wondering what bandit rewards to take? I killed all 3 in normal was thinking cast speed could be decent for cruel then kill all 3 in merci?

  1. says

    Awesome build. My low lifer is level 60, and 1 shots all trash mobs. Bosses usually take 2-3 bear traps. The occasional surprise-death-from-offscreen-reflect-boss slows down the leveling pace a little, but the speed in which I can clear Ledge more than makes up for it.

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