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Passive skill

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An overview of passive skills
Passive Skill Tree as of Version 3.3.1

Every character in Path of Exile has access to the passive skill tree poe:passive. The passive skill 'tree' is a large network of stats and raw attributes increases for the player's character. All classes use the same tree, but start in different places. When a character levels up or completes certain quests, he or she gains one skill point. A skill point allows the player to allocate a node on the skill tree, provided that it is already connected to an allocated node. This is how the character's passive 'path' is formed.

Mechanics

Characters can accrue 99 passive skill points from levels and 22 or 24 skill points from quests, depending on the choices a player makes in the quest Deal with the Bandits and 20 skill refund points.

Players that choose the Scion as their character may also gain up to 5 additional passive skill points, depending on the choices they make in their Ascendancy.

While the passive tree (sometimes referred to in-game as the Skilldrasil or Skill Web) may seem complicated, it actually only has two parts. It can be thought of as a map, with suburbs and roads.

The clusters of related passive nodes that boost a specific area (swords, maces, archery, damage types, evasion, and so on) are like suburbs. These will form the bulk of a character's build. The pathways between these clusters, comprised entirely of nodes that give +10 to a certain attribute, are like roads. Some of these roads can cover a great distance much quicker than if the player detours through the suburbs: what may look like a short path with passive boosts could in fact be much longer than taking the +10 to attribute path.

Pressing 'c' in-game and hovering over each of the three attributes will show what these do. Anything the attributes don't do, such as increase ranged damage or attack speed, will likely be handled by passive nodes on the skill 'tree'.

Layout

The character classes and their approximate starting position on the tree
  • The tree can be divided into three primary sectors of equal size, one third of the relatively circular tree, surrounding a central wheel. They are the north or blue sector, the southwest or red sector and the southeast or green sector.
  • The north or blue sector is also known as the magic sector; passives there boost intelligence, elemental damage, energy shield, wand damage, minion stats, etc. Everything related to magic, and the skills normally found on blue gems.
  • The southwest or red sector is also known as the melee sector; passives there boost strength, armor, physical damage and nearly every known aspect of melee combat, as well as all skills normally found on red gems.
  • The southeast or green sector is also known as the Ranged sector; passives there boost dexterity, ranged projectile damage, evasion, most known aspects of ranged combat and all skills normally found on green gems.
  • As the player moves to the borders between sectors the passive skills available there become more hybridized between the two.
  • When a new game is started, each character starts at the border of the inner wheel of the tree at a different location; the Witch for example starts at the due-north border of the inner wheel, smack in the middle of the blue sector showing her preference for magic. The wheel of character images (on the right) shows which position each class starts in and therefore their preferred method of combat; the Marauder starts in the middle of the red sector showing a preference for melee combat and the Ranger starts in the middle of the green sector for ranged combat, with the other characters starting in a position to put them in more of a hybrid role to start.
  • Although it takes some extra skill points to do this, there is nothing stopping the player from choosing passives to quickly get into a different sector than the character started out with to, for example, make a melee-combat Witch, given that there are no set equipment limits on which character can equip what, other than what their passive stats allow. However, keep in mind that the campaign quests that give skill gems as rewards, gives gems related to the natural preference of that character, i.e. the Witch will usually only see magic-type gems, and the Ascendancy classes available to a particular character are mainly designed to work with a build within the natural section of the skill tree. So it is highly not recommended to make an atypical build except for show/giggles

Passive nodes

There are several types of passive skills.

Basic passives

Basic passive skills only grants minor improvements to the character.

Notable passives

Some notables are only acquired via cluster jewels and anointment. Cluster jewels provide a unique set of notables, while every notable on the main skill tress can be anointed, plus an additional 11 notables that exclusive from anointment.

Notable passive skills grants notable improvements to the character.

Keystone passives

Keystone passive skills significantly alters how the character functions. Some of them are granted exclusively from unique cluster jewel and unique Timeless Jewel.

Jewel sockets

Jewel sockets are passives that can be filled with jewels. By default, they are empty and don't grant any bonuses. There are currently 21 sockets distributed around the tree. There is no cap on the amount of sockets the player can allocate.

Ascendancy passives

Every character has an opportunity to gain a subclass called Ascendancy class that grants access to an Ascendancy skill tree specific for the character class chosen.

Planning your build

With the number of nodes on the skill tree, the variety of starting positions, the number of passive skill points you can gain and the variety of available Jewels, the number of possible configurations of skill builds on the tree is so large it can for all intents and purposes be considered infinite. Planning a good build in this tree can be a daunting task for many players, but there are ways to make it much easier.

There is a VERY effective Search function at the top of the passive tree viewing window. If you put a word, or even part of a word, into this search function, every single passive node in the entire tree that has this word either within its name or its main effect description sentence will be highlighted by a pulsing glow, easily visible even with the tree view zoomed out to the maximum. You can then quickly hover your mouse over that node for more details on what it specifically does, and compare its position to the parts of the tree you have already allocated points to.

To then proceed with an effective build design, do the following:

  1. Think of an effect that you want, such as a specific Passive listed within another page on the Wiki that sounded attractive, or a more general concept such as passives that affect Shields.
  2. Type a corresponding key word into the search function, such as part of the name of the specific Passive you're looking for or a concept word like Shield.
  3. Zoom out the tree view and find the corresponding glowing nodes, and hover your mouse over them to check the corresponding direct effects
  4. Compare the positions of these passive clusters with the node path you've already unlocked, and determine the most efficient path that uses the lowest number of Passive points to get you to the desired nodes and/or puts you nearby/through other nodes with other effects that will also greatly help you in other ways later.
  5. Get the passive skill points through the normal means, and apply them according to plan.


With a bit of work you should be able to plan out an extremely effective character design using the above process.

Passive skill points as quest rewards

Several quests in the storyline reward characters with points to spend on the passive tree. Players can use the command /passives in-game to get a list of passives quests they have already received on that character.

Listed below are all the quests that reward passive tree points.

Passive skill respec points as quest rewards

Several quests in the storyline reward characters with passive respec points which allows the character to deallocate passive points in a similar fashion to Orb of RegretOrb of RegretStack Size: 40Grants a passive skill refund pointRight click on this item to use it.
Shift click to unstack.
.

Listed below are all the quests that reward passive respec points.

See also

Version history

Version Changes
3.11.0
  • The frames on passive skill hovers have been updated to the ones created for Path of Exile 2.
  • We wanted to add support for mechanics that have been added in the past few years that as of yet do not have adequate support on the passive tree. Some of these mechanics include Rage, Unleash, Corpse manipulation, Warcries, Heralds and Banners.
  • Many passive skill clusters offered the same thing as other clusters, with the only differences being the location on the tree and the number of passive skills in the cluster. In this patch, we have endeavoured to give each cluster its own identity and function.
  • Timeless Jewel Keystone passives have become a popular feature for many builds, but are prohibitively difficult to acquire (especially without trade). We've moved some of the most build-defining Keystones out of the Timeless Jewels and into the tree itself. These Keystones have been added to the tree: The Agnostic, Glancing Blows, Supreme Ego, Wind Dancer and Eternal Youth.
  • We've also added new Keystones as part of our effort to support newer mechanics. These Keystones are: The Impaler, Imbalanced Guard and Call to Arms.
  • We also wanted to reduce the power of some clusters that were overly efficient, and increase the power of clusters that were inefficient. Ultimately, the passive skill tree should provide more interesting choices regardless of your build.
  • Due to the volume of the changes to the passive skill tree, we won't be listing each change out. Instead, you can check out the new tree for yourself [[1]].
3.0.0

With the removal of the difficulty system meant that most quest rewards got reworked. Characters that killed Merciless Malachai prior to the release of 3.0 will typically have 10-12 of the possible 22-24 available passive quest points.

Certain quests from part two were already "completed" for legacy characters created before 3.0. These are:

  • The Father of War in Act 6 was already completed for Tarkleigh if the character killed Merciless Malachai. Turn it in.
  • The Master of a Million Faces in Act 7 was already completed for Eramir if the character killed Merciless Malachai. Turn it in.
  • An End to Hunger was already completed if the character killed Merciless Malachai. The skill points were already rewarded.