Death Shroud is the unique profession mechanic for the necromancer, and can be thought of in a couple of different ways. First, it will temporarily provide you with 4 unique skills, so you could think of death shroud as an extension of your normal hotbar skills while in combat. Death shroud also increases the necro’s survivability while active since incoming damage will deplete your available Life Force instead of your health.
Provided you’ve built up sufficient life force, you can enter death shroud at any time by pressing the [F1] key. Upon doing so, a new bar containing four skills will appear on-screen, though your weapon, healing, utility, and elite skills will be disabled for as long as death shroud is active. To exit death shroud you can either hit the [F1] key again, or it will also end once your available life force has been depleted.
Above: The in-game help text for necromancers on using Death Shroud.
It should be noted that your death shroud skills must be unlocked through active use in combat the same way your weapon skills are. This process must be done twice since you will have a different set of death shroud skills while underwater, so those can only be unlocked via engaging in underwater combat.
Building Life Force
To use death shroud, you must first build up some life force. The life force meter is displayed directly above your weapon skills as shown below:
You will build up life force in the following ways:
- Whenever a nearby enemy creature or player is defeated
- Through active use of certain weapon or utility skills (listed below)
- Through the passive state of the Signet of Undeath utility skill
You will typically build up life force very quickly while participating in dynamic events that involve defeating creatures. You can take advantage of this fact at lower levels to both unlock your death shroud skills, and get into the habit of entering and exiting death shroud in combat.
Once you enter death shroud, your available life force will slowly deplete naturally, and incoming damage will reduce your life force instead of your health. The latter helps make the necromancer one of the most resilient professions in GW2, so the faster you can build life force, the greater your survivability will be.
To increase the rate at which you generate life force, there are a number of skills that you will want to consider working into your build. These are listed below along with notes on the amount of life force gained, and the base recharge time for each skill.
Skills that Build Life Force
|Skill Name||Type||Life Force Gain / Recharge|
|Blood is Power||Utility||+20% life force
30 second recharge
|Feast||Trident (aquatic)||+5% life force
12 second recharge
|Feast of Corruption||Scepter||+2% life force per condition on target
10 second recharge
|Ghastly Claws||Axe||+4% life force
8 second recharge
|Life Transfer||Death Shroud||+5% life force (channeled)
40 second recharge
|Necrotic Bite||Dagger (main hand)||+5% life force
No recharge, chain skill
|Necrotic Grasp||Staff||+3% life force
|Reaper's Scythe||Spear (aquatic)||+3% life force
|Signet of Undeath||Utility||+1% life force every 3 seconds
Passive signet state, 180 second recharge
|Spectral Armor||Utility||+3% life force on damage for 6 seconds
90 second recharge
As you can see above, all main-hand weapons have an associated skill that helps you build life force, so you will not be restricted to certain weapon sets to do so. That said, as you go through the various Traits (listed below) that can enhance life force gain, you'll want to pay particular attention to any synergies with specific weapons.
A perfect example here would be Soul Marks which will build 3% life force whenever your marks are triggered. With that trait slotted, the staff can become one of your best weapon choices depending on how deeply you choose to factor death shroud into your overall build.
Death Shroud Skills
Once you hit the [F1] key to enter death shroud, a few things will happen. First, your default hotbar and health meter will no longer be displayed on-screen. Instead, a new bar will appear (shown below) that contains the four death shroud skills, your life force meter, and a fifth skill that allows you to exit death shroud, though this can be done by simply pressing the [F1] key again.
Please note that once you exit death shroud, there will be a 10 second cooldown before you can use it again, regardless of how much life force you currently have.
The edges of your screen will also have a green border while in death shroud, but a more important cosmetic change is that your character will appear as a dark, ghostly form for the duration. While this looks incredibly cool, the main thing to know is that this visual transformation will alert enemy players to the fact that you're using death shroud and will react accordingly.
There are technically two different versions of death shroud: one used while on land, and a second while underwater. It's important to note that you will need to unlock each set of death shroud skills independently through active use in combat. Likewise, you'll also want to pay attention to the differences between the 4 death shroud skills you'll have access to.
Normal Death Shroud Skills:
|Life Blast||Blast a foe with accumulated life force, dealing more damage the more life force you have|
|Dark Path||Send out a claw. If this attack hits an enemy, you teleport to that foe and chill nearby enemies|
|Doom||Make your target flee in fear|
|Life Transfer||Damage nearby foes and steal their life force|
Aquatic Death Shroud Skills:
|Life Blast||Blast a foe with a plague that transfers one condition to them|
|Dark Water||Blind and poison foes near your target with a dark cloud|
|Wave of Fear||Terrifies all foes in front of you|
|Gathering Plague||Draw conditions from nearby allies to yourself, and inflict weakness on yourself|
Traits that Impact Death Shroud and Life Force
As noted above, there are a number of different traits that can greatly enhance life force gain and death shroud. The key trait line to pay attention to is Soul Reaping - not only does it contain a sizable number of traits specific to life force and death shroud, but spending points in that line increases your total life force pool by 1% per point spent.
The traits that relate specifically to life force and death shroud can be seen below:
|Spiteful Spirit||10||Gain retaliation for 3 seconds when entering Death Shroud|
|Reaper's Might||10||Life Blast and Plague Blast grant might for 15 seconds|
|Weakening Shroud||10||Cast Enfeebling Blood when entering death shroud|
|Reaper's Precision||10||You have a 33% chance to gain 1% life force on critical hits|
|Furious Demise||15||Gain fury for 5 seconds when entering death shroud|
|Shrouded Removal||10||Lose a condition when you enter death shroud|
|Death Shiver||20||Apply vulnerability for 10 seconds every 3 seconds to nearby foes while in death shroud|
|Transfusion||10||Life Transfer heals nearby allies|
|Deathly Invigoration||20||Heal in an area when you leave death shroud|
|Gluttony||5||Life force fills 5% faster|
|Vital Persistence||10||Life force drains 25% slower while in death shroud|
|Path of Midnight||10||All death shroud skills recharge 15% faster|
|Speed of Shadows||10||Move 15% faster while in death shroud|
|Unyielding Blast||10||Life Blast pierces and causes vulnerability|
|Soul Marks||20||Marks generate 3% life force when triggered|
|Strength of Undeath||25||You do 5% more damage if you have more than 50% life force|
|Foot in the Grave||30||Gain stability for 3 seconds when you enter death shroud|
|Near to Death||30||Death shroud recharges 50% faster|
As you can see here, there are multiple options for how you can enhance death shroud, and no one specific point spread you would want to focus on. Likewise, there really isn't any one "optimal" build specific to enhancing death shroud, as many of the traits you choose will depend on which specific gameplay type you're participating in. For example, you probably wouldn't want to use the same traits in sPvP that you would in dungeons.
That said, you will want to focus on improved life force gain and slower life force drain first, regardless of which specific death shroud enhancements you're aiming for with your build. You also have the option to skip over the traits listed here altogether, but be aware that you will be sacrificing a lot of survivability by doing so.
To learn more about the necromancer profession, be sure to read our complete Necromancer Guide!