Soul Shard Effects and Mechanics in Diablo 3 Season 30

Last updated on Jan 08, 2024 at 09:00 by Deadset 15 comments

Season 30 temporarily re-introduces a bunch of socketable items called Soul Shards — powerful artifacts based on the Lords of Hell, which greatly enhance the helmets and weapons they are socketed in.


Season 30 Theme: Soul Shards Effects and Mechanics

Originally introduced in Season 25 and now brought back for the duration of Season 30, Soul Shards are a new type of socketable item. You can find 7 unique Soul Shards, based on the Lords of Hell, each giving your hero a unique new power based on their demonic origin. Regardless of their differences, they share a few common mechanics:

  • Prime Evil Soul Shards (Fragment of Destruction, Shard of Hatred, Sliver of Terror) are only socketable in Helms.
  • Lesser Evil Soul Shards (Dregs of Lies, Essence of Anguish, Remnant of Pain, Stain of Sin) are only socketable in Weapons.
  • You may only equip one Prime Evil Soul Shard and one Lesser Evil Soul Shard at a time.
  • Each Soul Shard can be upgraded 3 times using a new, seasonal-exclusive consumable, the Hellforge Ember.
  • Soul Shards can be salvaged into 3 random gems of Marquise or Imperial quality, with a minor chance to give 1 Flawless Royal gem instead.
  • Soul Shards can used in the Caldesann's Despair recipe instead of regular Legendary Gems. As a base drop, they are equal to a level 50 Legendary Gem, and are upgraded by 25 levels per Shard rank (i.e., Rank 3 Soul Shard is equal to a Level 125 Legendary Gem for the purposes of Caldesann augmentation).
  • Soul Shards cannot be traded.
  • Lastly, Soul Shards and Hellforge Embers can only drop in Seasonal play and will not transfer to non-seasonal characters once Season 25 ends.

How to farm Soul Shards in Season 30?

Soul Shards can drop from any type of content and game mode, be it Bounties, Nephalem (Standard) Rifts, or Greater Rifts. Soul Shards however have a higher chance to drop from Bosses, including an unlisted mechanic outlined below.

You can get specific Soul Shards from specific Act bosses in Adventure Mode as early as level 1, making them a target-able bonus from the very beginning of character progression and a massive boon during leveling. The tactic works all the way to level 70 and beyond, making it a viable way to farm the Soul Shards whenever you need a new roll.

While they are all powerful in their own right, not all of these Shards will be at their full potential outside of complete endgame builds. Some of them will fare much better than others during the leveling process, and the actual best thing to do with your first Soul Shards is to salvage them for a chance at acquiring level 70 standard gems. It is recommended that you farm the following Soul Shards for leveling:

  • Any class — Important at Level 1: Kill Zoltun Kulle in Act II for a Soul Shard to salvage. This will net you 3 random gems of Marquise or Imperial quality, with a minor chance to give 1 Flawless Royal gem instead. The chance to get Rubies of any of these tiers of quality will be so influential to your leveling that doing 5-10 runs of Zoltun Kulle near the start of your leveling process to guarantee the Ruby drops is not unreasonable.
  • Any class: Kill Rakanoth in Act IV for Sliver of Terror. Rakanoth is easy to reach, and this Shard will fit almost any build as it empowers you for every cooldown you add to your skill bar. The alternative Shard you can get from Act IV, Remnant of Pain, can also be decent if you have access to a hard crowd control skill from early on.
  • Cooldown-dependent classes (Barbarian, Crusader, Wizard): Kill Azmodan for Fragment of Destruction, whose Messerschmidt's Reaver Messerschmidt's Reaver-like proc can help you get impactful cooldowns available (Wrath of the Berserker Wrath of the Berserker, Akarat's Champion Akarat's Champion...) much faster.
  • Pet-based classes (Necromancer, Witch Doctor, Monk with an early gamble of The Crudest Boots The Crudest Boots): Kill Zoltun Kulle or Maghda in Act II for Dregs of Lies.
  • If you level via Massacre bonuses: Consider killing Malthael (despite the slow fight) to get Shard of Hatred, which scales your damage the bigger your pull is.

How to farm Hellforge Embers in Season 30?

Hellforge Embers can drop from any type of content and game mode, be it Bounties, Nephalem (Standard) Rifts, or Greater Rifts, starting at level 70. They are reasonably rare, but have a higher drop rate compared to the other legendary consumable in the game, Ramaladni's Gift Ramaladni's Gift.


Prime Evil Shards

Prime Evil Shards can only be socketed into helmets. They can be upgraded with Hellforge Embers. All Prime Evil Shards follow the same progression path:

  • They all have a Base Power when they drop, prior to being upgraded.
  • At Rank 1, they will grant similar (but potentially stronger) benefits to having all 5 standard Flawless Royal gems socketed at once. The upgrade will provide the Cooldown Reduction from Diamond (12.5-15%), Increased Experience Gain from Ruby (40-50%), Resource Cost Reduction from Topaz (12.5-15%), Gold Find from Emerald (32-35%), and Life % from Amethyst (23-25%).
  • At Rank 2, they will provide a random defense-oriented stat roll between Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, or Vitality (950-1125), All Resistance (55-62), Armor (375-390), Melee Damage Reduction (15-20%), or Ranged Damage Reduction (15-20%).
  • At Rank 3, they will provide another special effect that is tied either mechanically or thematically to the Shard and its base power.

Sliver of Terror (Helm Soul Shard)

Base Power: "Your cooldowns are increased by 25%. For every skill on cooldown, you take 12.5% reduced damage and deal 12.5% increased damage." — Both the damage increase and damage reduction values are separate multipliers that stack additively up to 6 times (the maximum number of active skills on your bar) for a maximum of 75% damage increase and 75% damage reduction.

At Rank 3, Sliver of Terror will randomly provide one of these three powers:

  • "Your Attack Speed and Critical Hit Chance are increased by 5% for each skill on cooldown." — This power scales up to 30% IAS and ChC, providing value to builds that scale off Attack Speed, and/or are looking for to further their advantage and snowball farming runs.
  • "You cast a devastating Ring of Fire after killing 100 enemies." — This power spawns a circular destructive field of approximately 20 yards which lasts for 20 seconds, burning everything within at a 4/sec. tick rate and with intensity that scales with the difficulty level (but not player number), meaning it maintains relevance throughout solo GR pushing. Using this power enforces a playstyle of focusing down lower health trash enemies to spawn the rings, and burning down elites as collateral. The kill counter is individual per player, procs off Ring of Fire kills (meaning it feeds itself), and resets upon player death. This is a go-to gem for single target-heavy builds, and a very strong option overall.
  • "If three or more skills are on cooldown, your Lightning and Fire skill damage are increased by 50%." — Similarly to how such bonuses work on gear, this increase stacks additively with your other elemental damage sources. It kicks in when 3 skills go on cooldown, and will not deplete as long as at least one of them is still on cooldown. This allows you to juggle between CDs to keep it active. Its conditional nature and relatively weaker effect makes it inferior to the other Shard rolls.

What this Shard is for: At the reasonable penalty of -25% CDR, this supremely powerful gem will reward you with massive damage and protection as long as you have skills on cooldown — with the potential to reward you even further depending on its roll and your build's element of choice. With most builds having about 3 skills cast on cooldown at all times anyway, this Shard is the one you will most likely use throughout the Season.


Shard of Hatred (Helm Soul Shard)

Base Power: "You deal 15% reduced damage while you have 3 or fewer enemies within 25 yards. If more than 3 enemies are within the same distance, you deal 5% increased damage per enemy (to a maximum of 50%)." — Both the damage dealt increase and damage dealt reduction are separate multipliers to your total damage calculation.

At Rank 3, Shard of Hatred will randomly provide one of these three powers:

  • "You now deal 10% for every enemy instead of 5% (to a maximum of 100%)." — This is a straight increase of the base effect, and is the desirable roll for GR pushing with this Shard.
  • "Your Movement Speed is increased by 50%. Each enemy within 25 yards reduces your Movement Speed by 10% up to 70%." — This bonus can be quite useful when running over great distances, which applies to all Bounty setups.
  • "Killing an elite enemy pulls all enemies within 40 yards to where the elite died." — This bonus is capped to a dozen or so monsters, and is quite underwhelming.

What this Shard is for: This Shard should mostly be a consideration for no-cooldown builds during solo pushing, or Trash Killer builds in group play. With its optimal roll and with a moderate amount of displacement in your build, it can provide a consistent 100% damage multiplier during the Rift clear. It should be noted that the Shard will actually be a detriment during single target Rift Guardian fights, as it drops down to its 15% penalty value in fights with 3 or fewer enemies.


Fragment of Destruction (Helm Soul Shard)

Base Power: "You move unhindered through enemies. Each enemy you pass through receives the Mark of Destruction for 7 seconds. Each marked enemy that dies removes 1 second from one of your skills on cooldown. If the Mark of Destruction expires before the enemy dies, you lose 2% of your maximum health as damage. Marks are not applied if you are below 35% health." — This Shard offers support and utility-oriented powers, as it provides an amalgamation of the powers of Messerschmidt's Reaver Messerschmidt's Reaver and Illusory Boots Illusory Boots as a base effect.

At Rank 3, Fragment of Destruction will randomly provide one of these three powers:

  • "When you apply Mark of Destruction to an enemy, you increase your Movement Speed by 5% for 7 seconds. Max 10 Stacks." — This is the go-to bonus for any T16 speedfarming build that demolishes the difficulty damage-wise.
  • "You now leave a trail of fire in your wake that slays enemies with the Mark of Destruction that are below 10% health." — These are The Executioner The Executioner cull and Fire Walkers effects stacked in one, making this particular Shard desirable on Support characters in group play.
  • "You have a 25% chance to restore 5% health when an enemy dies with Mark of Destruction active." — The conditional nature (Life per Kill) and low values of this bonus make it underwhelming and undesirable.

What this Shard is for: This Shard will be very valuable to Support builds for group GR farming/pushing with the culling effect roll. It should also be considered for many standard builds during T16 key farming with the movement speed roll.


Lesser Evil Shards

Lesser Evil Shards can only be socketed into weapons. They can be upgraded with Hellforge Embers. All Lesser Evil Shards follow the same progression path:

  • They all have a Base Power when they drop, prior to being upgraded.
  • At Rank 1, they will grant similar (but potentially stronger) benefits to having all 5 standard Flawless Royal gems socketed at once. The upgrade will provide the Elite Damage Increase from Diamond (20-25%), Flat Damage Increase from Ruby (270-300), Thorns Damage from Topaz (38,000-40,000), Crit Damage from Emerald (130-150%), and Life per Hit from Amethyst (28,00-30,000).
  • At Rank 2, they will provide a random offense-oriented stat roll between Weapon Damage Increase (10-15%), Elemental Damage (20-25%), Crit Chance (7-10%), or Attack Speed (12-15%).
  • At Rank 3, they will provide another special effect that is tied either mechanically or thematically to the Shard and its base power.

Essence of Anguish (Weapon Soul Shard)

Base Power: "Every time you deal Poison damage to an enemy you increase your Cooldown Reduction and Movement Speed by 2.5% while your damage received is increased by 5% for 10 seconds. Max 10 stacks." — All of the Shard's effects stack additively for a total of 25% CDR, 25% Movement Speed, and a 50% increase in damage taken at the 10 stack maximum. Stacks are attained per enemy hit, and trigger off Poison skills (for Witch Doctors and Necromancers) or weapon damage type rolled into Poison (similarly to how Elemental Exposure Elemental Exposure works). This makes it available to all builds and classes by simply rerolling the weapon damage to the Poison subtype; on top of that, it can trigger off your Follower's weapon as well, making it extremely easy to attain.

At Rank 3, Essence of Anguish will randomly provide one of these three powers:

  • "When you kill an enemy, you deal the damage done by the death blow to all enemies within 25 yards. Pets and Followers cannot trigger this effect." — This bonus provides more value to builds that hinge on a singular hard hits, or ones that are limited by a small area of effect. While you only get one detonation even when several monsters are slain at once, it will proc Area Damage.
  • "Your Movement Speed and Cooldown Reduction can be increased up to 15 times by dealing Poison damage to an enemy." — This is a decent bonus for speedfarming setups, especially for the long distances of Bounties; at its maximum, it provides 37.5% CDR and Movement Speed.
  • "When you deal Poison damage to an enemy, they receive 50% increased Poison damage from all sources for 10 seconds." — This bonus functions somewhat similarly to Gem of Efficacious Toxin Gem of Efficacious Toxin, increasing damage against affected enemies by 50% multiplicatively for yourself and any other party members. Unlike the Toxin gem however, the bonus does not stack for multiple Shards in the same group.

What this Shard is for: This is an incredibly potent Shard for a vast array of damage-dealing builds. It provides a solid amount of Cooldown Reduction (that can counteract the penalty from Sliver of Terror, for example), and various universally useful bonuses at Rank 3. Most, if not all, DPS builds can use this gem to great effect.


Dregs of Lies (Weapon Soul Shard)

Base Power: "You deal 25% less damage. Your pets deal 25% increased damage." — Both bonuses are multiplicative in nature and only affect their respective categories, meaning your own damage reduced will not affect the pets scaling.

At Rank 3, Dregs of Lies will randomly provide one of these three powers:

  • "Each time your pet hits an enemy, your damage is increased by 0.5% for 5 seconds. This stacks up to 100 times. When you reach 100 stacks, the stacks quickly reset to 0." — This damage bonus is multiplicative in nature and, once maximized, depletes at a 20 stack/sec. rate. For DPS pet builds, this gem is an absolutely mandatory inclusion.
  • "Killing an elite enemy reduces all your active cooldowns by 5 seconds." — This bonus can be useful in T16 speed farming pet builds, as cooldowns are reduced for each enemy killed from an Elite enemy pack (including the Minions). It will not proc off group members' kills.
  • "On receiving fatal damage, spawn a shadow that prevents your death, restores your health to 35%, and grants +225 All Resist to all party members while it is active. The shadow only lasts 15 seconds." — This power functions on a 60 sec. cooldown, similarly to the Cheat Death passives available to all classes. This Shard power is pretty useless to both DPS and Support builds, since ways to get a second life proc are available both in your passives and your Follower skills.

What this Shard is for: This Shard is strictly oriented towards pet builds with a baseline multiplicative pet damage increase, along with a damage buildup mechanic on one of the three possible rolls. The Shard can also be adapted to speedfarming with its In-geom In-geom-like roll.


Remnant of Pain (Weapon Soul Shard)

Base Power: "Your Critical Hit Chance is reduced by 15%. Attacks against Incapacitated enemies are automatically critical hits." — The rules for Incapacitation are consistent with other items in the game, and apply to hard crowd control effects: Stun, Freeze, Blind, Fear, and Charm. Sources of damage that traditionally do not apply Critical Hits (such as Thorns) are also included in this power, empowering them in a non-conventional way.

At Rank 3, Remnant of Pain will randomly provide one of these three powers:

  • "When you critically hit an enemy, you increase the Attack Speed of all players by 5% for 5 seconds. Max 10 stacks." — This bonus functions similarly to Increased Attack Speed rolls on gear and is additive in nature. Only one of this effect can be active per party.
  • Hitting enemies with Cold damage has a 50% chance to Freeze them. Cold skill damage is increased to Frozen targets by 20%. — This is a separate damage multiplier against affected targets, which will remain incapacitated for a 3 sec. period.
  • Gain Passability while your Movement Speed bonus is over 50%. When you move through enemies, you knock them back and Stun them for 2 seconds. — This bonus undermines the base powers of the Shard by quickly building up the monsters' crowd control immunity (successive applications of CC make monsters gradually immune to CC). There are much better ways to displace enemies and gain Passability, so you should not use this power.

What this Shard is for: This is a more powerful take on the Ethereal Buriza power from Season 24, allowing you to completely shift away from Crit Chance stats on gear and focus on hard Crowd Control effects to guarantee your critical hits instead.


Stain of Sin (Weapon Soul Shard)

Base Power: "You deal 25% less damage. When you kill 50 enemies, you spawn a pool of blood that increases the damage done to Elite enemies by 150% and lasts 15 seconds." — The pool spreads out from the Shard-wearing player into a 45 yard spanning circle, additively increasing damage against Elites within its radius. The kill counter to trigger the effect can be stacked by all party members. The wearer's damage dealt reduced effect is multiplicative in nature.

At Rank 3, Stain of Sin will randomly provide one of these three powers:

  • "You gain an additional Rift Progress Orb when you kill an elite pack." — The extra Orb spawns right by the wearer and can be triggered by all party members. This Shard is desired by all supports and can also be used for speed farming builds.
  • "The pool of blood now negates Elite affixes within its area." — Considering the power and survivability creep in the latest iterations of Diablo 3, this bonus will not be necessary.
  • "The pool of blood now collects Rift Progress Orbs." — Stacking pickup radius is a much simpler way to achieve a similar effect, so this bonus should not be used.

What this Shard is for: This Shard is amazing for Support characters in groups, as it allows the Support to spawn the buffing are of effect once the Trash Killer group member does his initial clear, and helps the group mop up any remaining Elites with a massive damage bonus. The additional progress orb will also make runs that much faster.



  • 08 Jan. 2024: Guide updated to reflect its re-introduction in Season 30.
  • 30 Dec. 2021: Guide updated with the revised values on Rank 1 and 2 rolls.
  • 10 Dec. 2021: Guide revised with the finalized versions of the Shards.
  • 30 Nov. 2021: Guide revised with advice on farming Soul Shards.
  • 13 Nov. 2021: Guide added.
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