Video Game / Path of Exile

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Path of Exile is a Free To Play Dark Fantasy Action RPG by the New Zealand-based studio Grinding Gear Games, where you play as the eponymous Exile: one of many convicts (rightly or wrongly) exiled to the remote continent of Wraeclast by the authorities of the outside world. After your ship crashes near the shores of Wraeclast, you are hard-pressed to merely survive in this Crapsack World, let alone prosper.

The gameplay and the control scheme is obviously inspired by Diablo II: you control a single character from overhead perspective and engage in massive monster slaughter, occasionally dropping by the newest town to sell loot and pick up/turn in quests. The main difference is the skill system, wherein passive skills form a veritable skill forest based around three core attributes, while the active skills/spells are stored in upgradable magical gems that can be socketed in virtually every piece of equipment (not unlike Materia in Final Fantasy VII).

The game officially launched on October 23, 2013, after extensive closed and later open beta testing. You can download the game client and play for free after registering on the official website (the same account is used to log into the game). Although the initial closed-beta crowd-funding campaign is over (having collected over $2.2 million in pledges), you can still support the game by purchasing cosmetic "upgrades" from the devs' shop. That said, GGG strongly oppose Freemium, so they are not going to hand out any gameplay advantages or exclusive content to "paying customers" any time soon.

The first expansion, Sacrifice of the Vaal, was released on March 5, 2014. The new mechanics included the introduction of leagues, pvp modes, and special Vaal dungeons that pop up randomly throughout the game levels which provides the player specialized loot related to the Vaal. The second expansion, titled Forsaken Masters, was released on August 22, 2014. As well as various gameplay tweaks, it introduced the titular Forsaken Masters, seven NPCs who offer unique quests as well as in-game housing and crafting options. The third expansion, The Awakening, was released on July 10, 2015 and extended the main story with a long-awaited Act 4. A fourth expansion, Ascendancy was released on March 4, 2016. It introduces the Ascendencies for all classes, allowing them to further specialize their abilities, along with the Lord's Labyrinth dungeon.

Now comes with a character page currently in the works.


Tropes found in the game:

  • Action Bomb:
    • Various enemies across the game - the first being the Unstable Spawn late in Act 1 - will run at you in an attempt to explode guts and fire all over you. The same ability is seen on a variant of Alira's bandit Mooks throughout the western forest of Act 2.
    • The Minion Instability Keystone causes your Minions to explode upon reaching Low Life.
  • Action RPG
  • A God Am I: Dominus, Malachai - Pretty much anyone who works with thaumaturgy and lets it get to their head.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: For all the horrors Piety committed, she does a good job making you feel sorry for her in Act 4.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Pretty much any crime in the Oriathian Empire is punishable by Exile. One Letter of Exile you can read is for a woman exiled solely for running a tavern without a license. Its eventually revealed that the reason for this is because the main purpose of Exiles is to serve as test subjects in Piety and Dominus' thaumaturgy experiments.
  • All There in the Manual: One of the final pre-full release updates added a "Letters of Exile" notice board to Lioneye' Watch, which details how several of the game's NPCs, unique enemies and bosses wound up on Wraeclast.
  • Always Accurate Attack: The Resolute Strikes passive guarantees you will hit, but you'll no longer deal critical hits. This does not mean enemies with shields and such cannot block your attacks, mind; you simply won't miss them.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The ranger, going by some of her battle-quotes. Merveil the Siren creates apparitions in the level before her fight that tempt the player onward. Usually, these apparitions are the opposite gender, but not for the ranger.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Many, many, MANY variants due to sheer flexibility of the game, but some of the notable ones:
    • The Archer: Bows and Wands are the ranged weapons available in this game.
    • The Black Mage: Uses various Elemental Powers to bring down their enemy. Fire, Ice, Lightning, take your pick.
    • The Minion Master: Summoner builds use Zombies, Spectres and/or Skeletons to tank and do damage for them. Summon Raging Spirit build is technically a summoner build, but played more like an offensive spellcaster.
    • The Turret Master: Summons totems to do the attacking for them at the cost of being unable to deal damage themselves.
    • Critical Hit Class: Built to maximize Power Charge generation and by extension, number of Critical Hits they can do and how much damage you deal with them.
  • And Man Grew Proud: A small-scale example, but Wraeclast used to be the heartland of the Empire, with Sarn as the capital. It's implied the thaumaturgical fallout from warring against the Karui and other events is what left Wraeclast with hostile wildlife, rogue elementals, and spontaneously-reanimating corpses.
    • The Empire isn't the first one to suffer this fate; the Vaal under Atziri collapsed in a similarly spectacular manner.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: When the Ascendancy expansion was first released, each individual character needed to complete the six Trials of Ascendancy to unlock the Labyrinth on that difficulty, which meant lots and lots of repetition for people who play several characters. The Prophecy update later changed it so that unlocking the Labyrinth on one character would open it up for all other characters on the same account and in the same league.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Karui carvings you can find throughout Act 1 detail the downfall of the Karui after their successful invasion. The etchings found in the crossroads in Act 2 are a more local, and absolutely horrifying, account of the same cataclysm affecting the citizens of the Empire.
  • Arc Words: "Nightmare", the significance of which is hinted at but not fully explained until much later on.
  • Armor Piercing: Chaos damage bypasses your Energy Shield, making it a threat for those who rely on their Shield. There's two ways to prevent this: Chaos Innoculation gives you complete Chaos damage immunity, but reduces your maximum HP to 1. Shavaronne's Wrappings prevents Chaos damage from bypassing Energy Shields, but good luck finding or buying one.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The AI is savvy enough to aim for your Totems first, should you deploy one. If enemies can't reach you, e.g. if you're on a ledge above them, they'll run away from you so that you can't shoot at them from complete safety.
  • Ascended Meme: Kuduku, the False God, while normally an underwhelming unique totem enemy, has gathered pagan worship from players as a Random Number God, sacrificing crappy unique items in front of him to appease his favor for six-linking an item. In the Prophecy league, one of the prophecies require you to kill Kuduku who is assisted by Kadaka, the Goddess of Luck, which rewards you with Orbs of Fusing.
  • Asteroids Monster: Shield Crab class monsters spawn a Spitter class monster on death. Apparently, the crab is only the carapace, according to the lore. Still doesn't explain how it has fully-working pinciers...
    • A Rare monster with the "Fractured" modifier will turn into multiple copies of itself (or rather, the same monster type without any mods) when killed. You can also have a map have a mod that makes every monster Fracture.
  • Back from the Brink: At the beginning of the game, most of the coastline is overrun by the monsters, with only a single settlement remaining besieged from both sides. It's Up to You to clear a path to the inner continent.
  • Badass Grandpa with Badass Beard and Bald of Awesome: The Templar is visibly the oldest playable character, yet packs some serious punch.
  • Bag of Sharing: Your personal stash is carried over across Acts, and all characters on the same account can access its contents.
  • Barbarian Hero: The Marauder.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final showdown with Dominus. His second form has a nasty habit of turning the rain to blood, which deals damage as long as you're standing in it.
  • Big Bad: High Templar Dominus is the instigator of the plot, being responsible for the player character's exile and the revival of thaumaturgical research. But throughout the game there is talk of a "Nightmare", and its physical representation, The Beast. Talking to Siosa reveals the Vaal knew this being by name. All it needed was someone to control it...
  • Black and Grey Morality:
    • While the people/things you fight are undeniably villainous, the player classes aren't exactly virtuous themselves. The Marauder is a Blood Knight who shows little concern for things unrelated to combat, the Ranger is an openly misandristic poacher, the Shadow is an honorable but cold-blooded Professional Killer, the Duelist is an arrogant, narcissistic Jerk Ass, the Witch is a cannibalistic child murderer, and the Scion murdered her own husband in cold blood on their wedding night. Even the Templar, the most moral of the classes, used to work for The Empire, and may have been a former Blackguard.
    • Almost every single non-Gemling person in Wraeclast is either a criminal in exile or working for the Empire of Oriath. Granted The Empire is a corrupt theocracy so it's definition of "criminal" is somewhat loose, but there aren't a whole lot of nice people on the continent.
  • Black Knight: The Blackguards, mooks of the High Templar.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Enchanted items will occasionally have the attribute "More Gore." There's also a cosmetic microtransaction that will give your player-character bloody footprints, and guarantee messier fights.
  • Blood Knight: The Duelist; his intro quote states he fights in arenas not for companionship or money, but for the fight.
  • Body Horror:
    • Grigor, the misshapen NPC in act 3. The monsters in the Lunaris Temple also count. They are all this way because Piety tried to implant Virtue Gems—the same gems you place in equipment sockets for all of your active skills—in their bodies, likely out of a misguided attempt to construct super-soldiers, and look like they walked off the set of Dead Space. This isn't the first time such a process has been undertaken either—Emperor Chitus of the Eternal Empire and his thaumaturgist Malachai dabbled in the process about 250 years before the game's campaign storyline, which resulted in the creation of the Undying enemies you find all over Act 3. The process apparently has a detrimental effect on the subject's sanity; everyone who has undergone it, aside from Grigor and Lady Dialla, the Gemling Queen, and even she is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander at best blindly attack you on sight. The lore implies this wasn't always the case—The implantation of virtue gems seemed to have been common practice in the Eternal Empire among the upper classes, and we know of at least 2 entire legions composed of Gemlings, at least until the Purity Rebellions, but after the cataclysm those who were implanted slowly degenerated into the mad monsters that are the Undying.
    • Act 4 brings us the slave labourers in Highgate mines and the monsters inhabiting The Beast's innards.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory:
    • On the first day of April 2014, Grinding Gear Games decided to "nickel and dime" players into purchasing "wins". Apparently, their definition of "winning" is "a firework show" and the term "nickel and diming" meant "charging 15 cents". To their success, a lot of people paid to win.
    • In-universe example: The biggest contributing factor to Chitus passing the Labyrinth and becoming emperor was because he came from the richest family in the Empire and bought every advantage he could.
  • The Brute: Both Hillock, the first boss of the game, and Brutus, the mid-Act I boss. Act III has the optional boss Kole, who uses Brutus' abilities and doubles as That One Boss for many people, particularly in the permanent death hardcore leagues.
  • Bullfight Boss: A number of bosses have charge or slam attacks that are broadly telegraphed but will ruin you if you don't avoid them, such as Brutus, Kole, Vaal Oversoul, and Voll.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Blood Magic passive skill removes your mana and uses your life as your mana instead. Also comes in Skill Gem flavor, but that just means the skill costs HP instead of mana.
  • Charged Attack: Vaal Skill Gems require the user to kill a certain number of enemies in their current zone before they can be used in exchange for substantially greater effects (Spark sends out 3 wandering jolts of lightning, Vaal Spark sends out 100). Flameblast is a hold-to-charge variety, increasing in damage and area (up to a cap) the longer it is cast before detonating. Additionally, some attacks such as Incinerate or Reave gain adidtional damage/effects the longer you can them consecutively.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Enemies and items use the same color scheme. White is normal and has only the basic properties for the type of item or enemy, blue has one or two random properties, yellow has a randomized name and three to six random properties, and dark orange is unique, with a defined name and list of traits.
  • Color Coded Item Tiers: The game has a color coding similar to the Diablo series: regular items are white, magical ones are blue, rares are yellow, and uniques are golden. Quest items are green but they are not equippable. Some players and even the wiki have been known to refer simply to white, blue, gold and orange items.
  • Combat Tentacles: Whipping Miscreations and Tentacle Miscreations, the latter of which uses them as Organitek machineguns. Malachai also uses them.
  • Commonplace Rare: Fishing Rods are weak but extremely rare weapons that can only drop by wearing a specific unique tricorne. Another equally rare item is the bait, the elusive Albino Rhoa Feather from a rare albino rhoa. It is said that these items are required to fish, but very few know how to fish as the developers have relentlessly silenced anyone who would attempt to disclose fishing secrets (supposedly).
  • Crapsack World: Justified in that you're on a segment of the wider world horrible enough that the legitimate authorities decided it was a good place to put criminals too dangerous to otherwise hold. The rest of the planet is implied to be a bit better, though there are nasty bits-the Nazi alikes, for one.
  • Creator Cameo: Once in a blue moon, a lucky player may encounter the Forsaken Master fisher, Krillson of Winding Pier fame. He's voiced by Chris Wilson of Grinding Gear Games, the developer of Path of Exile. How to complete his mission is another story.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Because of the huge skill tree, it is very easy to fall into this category or its opposite extreme.
  • Cool Down: Some active abilities have cooldowns in addition to consuming mana. The cooldowns of mine-type abilities function slightly differently: preparing a mine (happens without active player participation) takes time and you can only carry a small number of them around, but launching them has no cooldown.
  • Corrupt Church: The primary enemies of the game are an expeditionary force from a theocratic-and very nasty-empire lead by a High Templar.
    • For clarity, Oriath was an island colony of the Eternal Empire. It is traditionally ruled by a High Templar. It gets confusing because the last Emperor of the Eternal Empire was also the High Templar of Oriath before he was crowned.
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Dark Is Not Evil: All the summons are The Undead, making all the summoners Necromancers. Even the relatively good-two-shoes Templar and the honorable Shadow.
  • Death Course: The Labyrinth is one giant series of zones filled with traps, originally made as a way to choose a new emperor.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: When you are killed on Normal difficulty, you are simply resurrected in the town with all the gear and items you had at the moment of death. The only penalty you incur is that the location may reset before you get back to where you were killed last time. On higher difficulties, however, you lose XP and on Hardcore, dying kicks your character back to the Default league.
  • Defector from Decadence: The Templar is all but stated to have been a former Blackguard. In fact, judging from his comments after defeating General Gravicius, he was relatively high up/well-connected in the religious hierarchy as well.
  • Deflector Shield: Several armors have an Energy Shield stat, which grants you one of these.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: Crafting in the game is randomized just like enemy drops, but allows for a great flexibility. Using the orbs, you can upgrade items of any rarity to higher tiers, give magical and rare items additional properties, completely respec an item, change the number of gem slots or the gem slot connectors on it, etc. There are Masters that will allow you to craft enchantments and even manipulate the type of enchantments you can roll.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Some quests may be done out of sequence (finding the Quest Item before actually getting the quest from the Quest Giver, for instance). In this case, the quest giver and related NPCs will say different things regarding the quest status.
  • Difficulty Spike:
    • The Vaal Oversoul in Act 2, and then the Lunaris Temple in Act 3, both considerably step up the difficulty from what came before. Then you get to the Scepter of God, where even normal enemies start gaining powerful effects like range-nullifying bubble shields. Of particular note is the level boss who turns the screen into Lightning Trap Bullet Hell. And, of course, Dominus himself is no pushover.
    • Act 4 pretty much turns the difficulty curve into a difficulty wall, with both Daresso's Dream and Kaom's Dream throwing swarms of particularly nasty enemies at you, and every boss fight - particularly Daresso - is likely to either bring your hardcore run to an early end or simply cause your death count to skyrocket.
    • If you enter the Labyrinth right after you unlock it, then you are guaranteed to be underleveled for it (without twinking). The game isn't going to hand over those Ascendency Points and Enchantments that easily.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: While High Templar Dominus is clearly marked as the Big Bad, Piety of Theopolis is the one who does most of the Empire's legwork for the majority of the game.
  • Dual Wielding: All one-handed weapons can be dual wielded, including two different types, though this is not advised due to spreading of passives
  • Durable Deathtrap: Mostly played straight by the Labyrinth - the many (many, many) traps you run across are still every bit as deadly now as they were when the labyrinth was first built. Here and there, though, you'll come across wrecked traps, or fallen rubble blocking off tracks.
  • Easily Forgiven: Captain Fairgraves comes back in Act 3 as a ghost chained to an anchor, and begs your forgiveness for trying to murder you. Then asks you to fetch him a magic decanter and a poisonous fruit.
  • Enemy Mine: Piety helps the player in the final encounter in Act 4
  • Exact Words: The skill Herald of Thunder, unlike other lightning skills, cannot shock enemies. The unique equipment Three Dragons causes lightning damage to chill or freeze enemies instead of shocking them. This includes Herald of Thunder, since the skill doesn't say it can't chill or freeze.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Defied by Kraityn, one of the Bandit Lords. According to his Letter of Exile, he killed his mother... for money.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Thanks to a letter found lying in his camp base, we learn that Captain Arteri, the Black Knight mini-boss defending the pass between Western Forest and Prisoner Gate, is Piety's lover.
  • Evil Is Visceral: Once the the player enters the interior of The Beast in Act 4, this trope hits in full force. If Wraeclast has a hell, its bowels are quite bloody. For bonus points, the final boss's chamber features giant, bleeding hearts.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Lunaris Temple has some topless women inside - but they're either in the form of Dead Space-like monsters, or cadavers on operating tables missing half their head and shoulders.
    • The Whipping Miscrereation concept art is shown during the credits. They're women wearing nothing more than a loincloth and some twine. Their left sides are covered in crystal growths and their right arms are turned into a six-foot long thorny tentacle
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Proud Warrior Race Karui are a very obvious one for the Maori. Justified as the game originates from New Zealand.
    • The Awakening expansion adds the an in-game appearance of the Maraketh, a Japanese-flavored culture, only with a strong matriarchal bent.
  • Field of Blades: The site of Marceus Lioneye's last stand against the Karui hordes features his tattered standard blowing in the wind amidst a textbook example of this trope.
  • Flash Step: Flame Dash is a short-range teleport that hits enemies you move through with fire damage and leaves burning ground in its path. Flicker Strike teleports you right in front of an enemy to hit with your melee weapon.
  • Foreshadowing: Someone, possibly Malachai, left a note on the map device in the Eternal Laboratory, overjoyed over its completion. At the time they wrote it, they were about to explore the "Dreamlands" inside. They have, quite obviously, not returned. This is the same map device players run end game content, including the revived Queen Atziri, on. With the release of Act 4, this is confirmed: The Nightmare ends up being the force responsible for pretty much everything going wrong in Wraeclast. Towards the end, its revealed that the Nightmare is in fact Malachai of the Eternal Empire, who transformed himself into a monster in order to bring his own twisted version of "purity" to the world.
  • Friendly Ghost: In the Library of Sarn in Act 3, the player comes across a Karui ghost named Siosa Foaga, the only member of Sarn's intelligentsia not to lose their marbles. He can provide a sidequest and and Info Dump reguarding the Vaal, the fall of the Eternal Empire and to an extent, Nightmare itself.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • It's mentioned at one point that Piety used to be a prostitute to pay for her magical studies. She's since found a better paycheck as one of Dominus' Co-Dragons, and The Dreaded by Wraeclast's inhabitants.
    • The Exile is noted to be this as well by some characters.
  • Gorn: The depths of the Lunaris Temple almost rival the Durance of Hate in bloodiness, with drainage pipes running completely red and pools full of blood, not to mention all the torture equipment, corpses impaled on stakes, and piles on piles of emaciated dead bodies. Even worse, people can be seen writhing inside the pools of blood.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: The third act of the game is set in Sarn, the capital of an empire that was overthrown shortly before the cataclysm that ruined Wraeclast. A lot of areas (especially places like the slums, the docks, and the warehouse district) have graffiti urging the workers to rise up against the emperor. It is implied that this was the work of Victario, a popular poet and member of the Purity Rebellion.
  • Ground Punch: Ground Slam is a Strength-based active ability, sending out a wave of cracks that damages enemies and reduces the damage threshold needed to cause hitstun.
    • Using the skill Ice Crash while unarmed also qualifies, as your character literally punches the ground to make a bunch of ice explosions appear.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: All three Strength- and thus melee-oriented characters are male, while the two females are a Squishy Wizard and an archer. Still, since the skill tree allows any class to be anything, it just takes more skill points to get to the skills the character was not intended to use.
    • That said, rapiers and bucklers are purely Dexterity-based, so the Ranger can avert this if you decide to have her wield those instead of a bow. It's not entirely recommended due to the nature of Evasion in this game, but it's certainly possible especially since the skill tree path you'll go down offers additional health and evasion.
    • Subverted with the Sixth Ranger class Scion; she starts in the exact center of the skill tree with perfectly balanced stats, allowing her to do any build with ease.
    • The Karui culture forbids its men to use any kind of missile weapon. King Kaom's victory over Marceus Lioneye came by realizing that this prohibition didn't apply to women, surprising Lioneye by instituting the second half of this trope.
  • Hand or Object Underwear: Yeena, the magic accessories saleswoman from Act 2.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Several areas and enemies make plenty of creepy sounds, but special mention goes to a certain cave ambiance, which features incomprehensible whispering and a realistic cat's cry.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Nessa warns the player of this at the end of Act 1.
    Nessa: But please, keep one thing in mind for me. What have you become when even nightmares fear you?
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Kinda. The Duelist wears a bright-red shirt under the armor, as if tempting the enemy to try and hit him. Given how his defenses are based on Evasion, this is not as suicidal as it seems...
  • Hollywood Darkness: At a certain point in the game, a magical darkness descends upon the world. Said darkness is represented by a ghastly bluish tint. Also swirling eldritch shadows in the sky.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: From easier to harder: Normal, Cruel, Merciless.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted in the Witch's backstory. Her house was burnt down, and instead of killing the people who did it, she killed their children.
  • Injured Vulnerability: Weapons or skills with the "Culling Strikes" property will instantly kill any enemy that is at Low Life (less than 10% of their max health). Comes in handy against Rare or Unique monsters, for whom 10% of their health is still a lot of damage.
  • Jerkass: The Duelist, who was exiled because he thought a noble had insulted him, and promptly stabbed said noble in the gut in return. Also the Witch to an even greater degree- her house was burnt down, most likely as part of an attempt to kill her, but instead of killing her attackers she killed their children.
    • Greust in Act 2. Even after you save his tribe from the Bandit Lords and the Vaal Oversoul, the best he gives you is a very grudging thanks and a warning that he's watching you.
  • Leaked Experience: Each member of the party receives a portion of the XP for every enemy killed on the location, even if they don't actively participate in the fighting.
  • Light Is Not Good: Piety, the villain for a large portion of the game. She looks like a paladin from a High Fantasy universe...who is actually an utterly amoral Evil Sorceress who is a leader this world's equivalent to the SS.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Killing a frozen enemy may cause them to shatter.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Anyone "blessed" by Nightmare, via human experimentation or otherwise, gains incredible abilities and particularly nasty Body Horror.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: There are some skill which, if you kill enemies with them, result into the enemies exploding into bloody chunks.
  • Mad Doctor: Malichai, Doryani, Piety, Shavronne, and Maligaro all have an enthusiasm for human experimentation and a disdain for such things as medical ethics and informed consent. You actually encounter Piety in the Prison and the Chamber of Sins because she is trying to study the work of the latter two.
  • Magic Knight: All characters share the same skill tree, but different classes start in different areas; so it's completely possible to teach your witch to swing your sword-sword; or your marauder to chuck fireballs and thunderbolts. The latter is even easier, since anybody can use any skill gem. Templars, particularly the Inquisitor Ascendancy, are intended for this sort of play-style - in theory, anyways.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Sticking with a basic spell and laying on Support gems and passives can turn that skill gem you find on the beach at level one into a powerhouse able to One-Hit Kill certain enemies, even through energy shields and resistances.
    • Unique items with bonuses that scale based on attributes, such as The Whispering Ice start out fairly weak but can be some of the strongest items in the game with the proper build.
  • Marathon Level: The Lord's Labyrinth must be fully completed in one run - there are no waypoints, and dying or portaling out forces you to start from the beginning.
  • Master of None: Another easy trap to fall into when designing your character. Some players considered the Duelist as a Master of None in earlier patches, as he is well-rounded in physical combat but not as hard-hitting or tanky as the Marauder, less efficient in ranged combat than the Ranger, not nearly as effective with crits as the Shadow, and ultimately not as versatile as the Scion. A few skill tree rebalancing has fixed his inefficiencies, fortunately, and he's gained a few strong niches with Ascendancy Classes, such as block specialty and permanent Fortify.
  • Metal Slime: As of The Awakening, sometimes you may run into ghosts named "Tormented (something)". These ghosts tend to flee on sight while buffing other enemies they pass by, and if not defeated quickly they will flee. As they are considered Unique enemies based on their names' color, they tend to drop good stuffs.
  • More Criminals Than Targets: In Act 2, the Forest Encampment is supposedly being preyed upon and harassed by the three bandit lords. Each of them leads a gang of at least a hundred or so. The Forest Encampment has five named characters (and one of them is only brought to town partway through the Act) and a few extras. And it's not like there are many travelers for the bandits to prey upon, since Piety blocked off the roads and the forest is swarming with homicidal wildlife. However, these groups are also unaffiliated with the others, so it's likely a 3-way battle for control as well.
  • Mortality Phobia: Brutus the Warden let a bunch of necromancers subject himself to various experiments in an attempt to become immortal. Far from achieving it, said experiments merely turned him into a mindless monster. Many of the most notorious thaumuturgist's ultimate goal was to achieve immortality, including Malachai.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Brutus, Lord Incarcerator, The Vaal Oversoul, The Chamber of Sins. Honorable mentions to the unique monsters Kadavrus the Defiler and Fleshrend, Grand Inquisitor.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Piety and her master, Dominus. Let's count the ways: Dictatorial rule and suppression of dissent, check. Soldiers in intimidating black uniforms, check. Horrific experiments on human subjects, check. Lots and lots of cold blooded torture, check. Attempts to create a master race and/or super soldiers, check. Implied goal of re-creating an 'eternal empire', check. Piles of emaciated corpses eerily reminiscent of those found in concentration camps, check. Did we forget anything?
  • Necessary Drawback:
    • A central concept of the game. Most of the high-end Passive skills (called 'Keystone Passives') have a drawback to balance their advantages. You can get perfect accuracy at the cost of unable to deal Critical Hit, immunity to stun at the cost of not being able to evade attacks, immunity to Chaos damage at the cost of having your maximum HP reduced to 1, etc., etc., etc... In fact, there's only 4 such passivesnote  without any drawbacks, and one of them requires you to take a passive that reduces your Armor and Evasion by 50%, while another does absolutely nothing unless you are at ~35% health.
    • This extends even to Unique items, where many Uniques tend to have drawbacks in exchange for their unique attributes. Entire builds have been built around these items to provide truly unique playing experience.
  • The Necromancer: Every summon skill is based in necromancy. Several skills are based around making your zombies, spectres, and skeletons stronger, including a Keystone Passive that transfers your energy shield buffs to them.
  • Nerf: The Awakening patch brought a few very significant nerfs: Life/Mana Leech was significantly reduced and requires passives to increase its normally poor leech rate (with only instances of leech stacking when hitting multiple enemies to compensate). The Reduced Mana support gem was changed to not lower Mana Reservation, reducing the number of auras a player can have overall (Enlighten was changed to lower Mana Costs including Reservation, but at a much lower percentage regardless), and Multiple Projectile gems no longer stacking on the same attack ("shotgunning"), making those gems less essential for projectile skills. Blood Rage was also changed to not guarantee generating a Frenzy Charge on kill, which was a major setback to Flicker Strike builds.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Act II, the only way to reach the exit of a plot-critical underground passage is to trigger an altar. It makes darkness fall on the land and releases a monster which is the Act II final boss.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Your mooks, by the way. There are also Necromancer enemies who send undead at you.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Warden's Quarters are completely devoid of enemies... right up to when you run into Brutus.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The player, if they decide to take the Chaos Innoculation passive skill, which sets their health to 1 and makes them immune to the only damage type that can bypass energy shields. Meaning that if their energy shield is ever depleted, they die in one hit to anything. They can combine this with Eldritch Battery, which causes energy shield to protect mana instead of life, fulling becoming this trope (they shouldn't, but they can).
  • Penal Colony: The entire continent of Wraeclast. What do you mean, it's not inspired by the Land Down Under?
  • Plague Doctor: One can get the outfit; Waxed Jacket/Garb armor and Plague Mask hat.
  • Player Party: You can complete the game on your own but you can also form parties with up to five other players. Doing so increases difficulty but also rewards you with more XP and better loot.
  • Power Crystal: Skill gems.
  • Practical Currency: The loot you sell is traded for Scrolls of Wisdom (identification) or various Orbs that are used to improve your equipment. This actually makes selling regular (non-magical) loot sensible, since you get scrolls to identify your magical loot. Or you can just sell Orbs for scrolls.
  • Prestige Class:
    • The Scion is the first class to be introduced that requires playing through most of the campaign with a basic class to unlock her.
    • The Ascendancy expansion adds Ascendancy Classes, giving each class a choice of three sets (or just one big set for the Scion) of powerful passive skills to suit their specialties, and even within its own small tree there are multiple options to choose from. For example, the Slayer class for Duelists are generally suited for two-handers, but its second-tier skills consist of: extra damage vs. rare enemies and bosses plus heal from overkill damage, massive bonuses to stun against enemies at full or low life, life leech persisting at full health and stun immunity while leeching life, and passive splash damage.
  • Pun: The Arcmage is not The Archmage, but an enemy who casts Arc.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The wood etchings in Act 2 tell the story of a village woman losing her family to The Cataclysm. As her husband and daughters are turned to zombies and actively hunt her, she first seeks solace in the Moon, thought to be a manifestation of God, then she seeks shelter in a temple, and then declares that God has forsaken them and she shall "rejoin her family..."
  • Rain of Arrows: The Rain of Arrows skills does exactly what you would expect it to do. Blast Rain also does this, but fires a barrage of explosive arrows instead.
  • Random Effect Spell: Wild Strikes is an active skill that delivers an attack with not only a random element, but a very different effect based on the element: Fire creates an explosion, Cold releases a wave, and Lightning releases an arcing bolt.
  • Randomly Generated Levels:
    • Not only are they random but each location rearranges itself (respawning all enemies) 8 to 16 minutes after you have left it. Thankfully, the general orientation of the maps (the positions of the exits and waypoints relative to the map center and edges) is always roughly the same, which makes finding one's bearings much easier.
    • The game also has endgame maps which are treated like any other item, complete with random attributes and quality ratings. Using one will take you to a map with special challenges and a chance for better rewards.
  • Randomly Generated Loot: Follows the Diablo model of basic templates with numerous prefixes and suffixes denoting special enchantments, plus multiple tiers of rarity/power.
  • Reconstruction: Of the Hack and Slash. Grinding Gear Games challenged some fundamental notions underlying Diablo-like games to create a new take on the sub-genre that is both familiar and incredibly fresh. Some mainstays like money have been done away with entirely, while other like stats, skill trees, active skills have been smashed into a million pieces and put back together in interesting new forms.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Unlike mana, health does not regenerate by itself (without regenerating items or specific passives), but the energy shield, added on top of health by various armors, does. This is the preferred option of magic-heavy classes, since the shields are tied to the Intelligence score. Fittingly, the energy shield only regenerates after not taking damage for a time, so if you want it to come back you have to be smart about avoiding combat.
  • Religion Is Magic: Chitus' uncle Cadiro, despite being centuries old, still remains after "striking a deal" with the ancient Azmerian god of souls and treasure, Prospero. It's also implied this is the secret to Zerphi's youth, who Atziri tried to copy through another means disastrously, was worshiping a god of death. Might also apply to Izaro as well.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Izaro comes from a long line of Royal Inbreeding, which might explain why he thought the Labyrinth was a good idea (not to mention his impotente). One of the member of his lineage was a cannibal.
  • Rule of Three: The game system runs on it. There are three character attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence), three core classes (Marauder, Ranger, Witch), three mixed ones (Duelist, Templar, Shadow), three types of defense (armor, evasion, energy shields) three colors of ability gems (red, green, blue), etc.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: What any given Animated Guardian will almost inevitably end up looking like. It's true that you could invest the time into getting your guardian a decent rare set, but they're incredibly fragile even with good armor, so it's usually more sensical to just give them a decent magic weapon you don't need and then whatever's lying around for the remainder of their equipment.
  • Scenery Gorn: The whole third Act is set in the ruined city of Sarn.
  • Scenery Porn: At the same time the Solaris Temple is actually rather pretty with its marble flooring, red carpets, and rich furnishings. It helps that none of the enemies there can bleed.
  • Sequel Hook: Not all the names present on the map are levels, currently. For instance, the city of Riben Fell at the upper right of Act 1's map.
  • Skill Forest: With over 1300 nodes available to all classes, it's not so much a "skill tree" as "skill Pando".
  • Skill Point Reset: It is possible to reset some of the points allocated to passive skills, either by completing quests or using an Orb of Regret, which is a currency item. Plus the occasional resets that come with major patches.
  • Shoot The Builder: Implied - in the Labyrinth, you can encounter packs of generic skeletons called "Undead Engineers", suggesting that a good number of people involved in building the Labyrinth were killed and left there to protect Izaro's secrets. There's also the unique item Xirgil's Crank, which has a flavor text which Xirgil the trapmaker says he knew how the Labyrinth's traps worked.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few can be found among the unique items.
  • Smoke Out: Possible with the Smoke Mine skill gem, which allows you to place up to five 'remote mines'. Upon detonation/activation, you're teleported to one of the mines you placed - the smoke clouds blind enemies both at your original position and near the mine itself, and you get a short boost to your run speed.
  • Socketed Equipment: Virtually all of the equipment items a player can find can have ability gems socketed into them. Even the skill tree can be socketed.
  • The Southpaw: The Templar is a lefty in game, as opposed to every other playable character.
    • It's worth noting that the Templar is considered a "blasphemer" by other Oriathans like Nessa. Since the other Templars aren't exactly upstanding individuals though, this doesn't necessarily imply A Sinister Clue.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: The "Weathered Carvings" explain why Wraeclast is abandoned, but not why Everything Is Trying to Kill You.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Just like in Diablo II, there are static waypoints on every other location that have to be found and activated before you can use them to teleport from any one to any other. Also, the Portal Scrolls create single-use portals from anywhere to the town. Finally, there is also a skill gem that allows you to make town portals without using any portal scrolls.
  • Timed Mission: Some of the missions of the Forsaken Masters are timed, especially all of Haku. Unsurprisingly, they are often considered as That One Sidequest.
  • Three-Stat System: The game system is based around Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence, and the six core classes are mapped either to one or to two of these. The secret Scion class, being located in the very center of the skill board, has access to all three.
  • Token Religious Teammate: The Templar, who makes a point of praising the Almighty after every few level ups.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: Captain Fairgraves calls his ghostly flunkies and tries to kill you after you complete his Fetch Quest.
  • Two Girls to a Team: The Witch and the Ranger. Ultimately subverted by the later addition of the Scion.
  • Underground Monkey: With crabs, spiders, apes... including literal underground monkeys.
  • The Unfought: Until the full release, High Templar Dominus.
  • Unholy Ground:
    • The entire continent of Wraeclast is, according to the lore, an unhallowed ground where the dead refuse to stay down, handily explaining the hordes of undead roaming the levels.
    • You can create a more concentrated version with the Desecrate skill, which spawns desecrated ground that deals chaos damage over time to any enemy above it.
  • Unidentified Items: Scrolls of Identification double as Practical Currency.
  • Unscaled Merfolk: Sirens are based off the Scylla from Greek mythology; female upper body with a betentacled lower half.
  • Vain Sorceress:
    • After discovering a serial killer was rumored to be 168 years old but looking young, Queen Atrizi had her thaumuturgist Doryani do whatever it takes to find his secret. Now only were countless numbers of her people slaughtered, it's heavily implied it led to the destruction of her civilization.
    • Shavronne of Umbra was known for her vanity as much as much as she is known for her skill in thaumuturgy. If you take a look at her closer, you can see that the crown she's wearing is keeping her entire face stretched.
  • Warrior Poet: There are poems scattered around the Labyrinth, written by one of its contenders. You'll find his body and his final poem just before the final fight.
  • Weapon of Choice: Each type of weapon requires different attributes and most have an inherent modifier.
    • Archer Archetype: Bows require dexterity and can be used with quiver accessories, which frequently add elemental damage.
    • An Axe to Grind: Axes require strength and small amounts of dexterity, are one or two-handed, and are one of the few categories without an inherent mod.
    • Cool Sword: Swords other than rapiers require equal amounts of strength and dexterity and have increased accuracy.
    • Drop the Hammer: Maces are one or two-handed, require only strength, and increase the length of time enemies are stunned. Scepters are always one-handed, require strength and intelligence, and increase the amount of elemental damage done by skills and weapon properties.
    • Knife Nut: Daggers are always one-handed, require intelligence and dexterity, and increase the chance of getting a Critical Hit.
    • Magic Wand: Wands are intelligence-based and the only ranged weapons other than bows. They always have an increased spell damage mod.
    • Royal Rapier: Rapiers require only dexterity, are always one-handed, and increase the damage of Critical Hits.
    • Simple Staff: Staves require strength and intelligence, are always two-handed, and are the only two-handed weapons with a chance to block.
    • Wolverine Claws: Claw weapons require dexterity and intelligence, are always one-handed, and have an inherent Life Drain mod.
    • Stat Sticks: Wands, knives, scepters, and staves can generate with properties that increase spell damage, spell critical chance, or add elemental damage to spells.
    • You can also fight unarmed as a Bare-Fisted Monk, though a very few physical skills works without a weapon, but it's viable with the unique glove Facebreaker or Doryani's Fist, which gives you a monstrous damage boost while unarmed.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Frequently in dungeons a player will come across huge piles of gold and jewels, only to discover they're part of the background. Occasionally in the middle of these opulent piles there will be a giant treasure chest full of items. This ties the lore in with the gameplay — gold has been entirely done away with, instead using a form of barter.
  • Vestigial Empire: See that island on the map of Act 1? That's Oriath, the last remnant of the Eternal Empire that once ruled Wraeclast.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • The Shadow's intro shows that his employers sold him out after his last kill to save themselves, leading to him becoming an Exile.
    • As mentioned above, Captain Fairgraves betrays you the moment you hand him his magic lantern.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: Brutus uses a hook to reel in players.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The wood etchings found in the Act 2 Crossroads are a description of this.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/PathOfExile