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Sanctum Guide for PoE 3.22

Forbidden Sanctums are back and better than ever.

Forbidden Sanctums were a popular addition to Path of Exile back in early 2023's 3.20 update. After a whole league without this feature, it's finally returned in the core game in update 3.22, but GGG has made some notable changes to it. I have been playing quite a bit of 3.22, and I've managed to figure out most of the changes, new best practices, and other things that will help those unfamiliar to get the most out of their Sanctums.

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Changes to Sanctum in PoE Trial of the Ancestors league

So far, the biggest change is the addition of the Forbidden Tome item. These are sellable, tradeable items that represent both the Sanctum itself and your progress inside it; when you complete the floor, a new item is created representing your progress in the Sanctum, from Boons to Afflictions to how much Resolve you have remaining.

Related: How to sign up for the Path of Exile 2 Closed Beta

On top of that, the difficulty for later floors was boosted, more Boons and Afflictions were added, and some other tweaks were made to make the Forbidden Sanctums more fun and rewarding. You can also expect a greater variety of hazards in rooms as well as room layouts. Another big change is that Primary defenses can protect Resolve.

Tips and strategies for Forbidden Sanctum in PoE

Image via Grinding Gear Games

For those who missed the original Sanctum league in late 2022 to early 2023, Sanctums are basically a self-contained dungeon. You head inside and get Resolve, and every time you are hit by a monster or make an error, you lose some Resolve; once it hits zero, you die and the Sanctum ends.

There are Boons that can raise your Resolve, speed, and other things that might help to get through the Sanctum, as well as Afflictions that have negative repercussions. In order to get all the way through a Sanctum, you need to choose a path through the dungeon based on which Afflictions a room will give.

  • When choosing the next room to head to, make sure to always pick ones that have multiple paths out. Some Afflictions are run killers (see below for more information on afflictions), so it helps to have a couple of choices when heading from one room to the next.
  • Resolve is easily lost and not so easily regained, meaning avoiding damage in the first place is much better than tanking. Choose your build accordingly (see below).
  • In the same vein as the tip above, ranged attacks will usually do much better than melee, since it keeps your avatar out of the reach of a lot of monsters.
  • Don't worry too much about failure; dying in Sanctums is part of learning how to do them properly, and they will be exceptionally difficult early game. Thankfully, it's pretty easy to get another Tome to try it all over again.
  • Thinking you can just outrun everything and sprint to the end? Unfortunately, that's not much of an option since both monsters and traps scale up in speed to match yours. Focus on builds that will slow enemies rather than speeding you up. Crowd control is your friend in Sanctums.

All Minor Afflictions in Forbidden Sanctum PoE 3.22

There are a total of 37 minor afflictions in Forbidden Sanctum in 3.22. They vary in difficulty from freebies to run-ending. Here is a breakdown of everything you need to know about every one of these anti-boons.

  • Accursed Prism (Hard): When you gain an Affliction, gain an additional random Minor Affliction. Wow, this one is incredibly challenging; that fact that you will not only get an additional affliction but its also random? No thanks.
  • Black Smoke (Easy): You can see one fewer room ahead on the Sanctum Map. As long as you are always choosing the pathway with multiple possibilities, this affliction shouldn't do too much harm.
  • Blunt Sword (Easy): You and your Minions deal 25% less Damage. I wouldn't take this one early game, but later in your run, it can basically be a giveaway.
  • Chains of Binding (Medium): Monsters inflict Binding Chains on Hit. It's best to avoid being hit at all costs, anyway, so Binding Chains shouldn't trigger too often.
  • Charred Coin (Easy): 50% less Aureus coins found. Getting coins early is very important, but later on in the run, it won't matter as much.
  • Concealed Anomaly (Easy): Guards release a Volatile Anomaly on Death. Please don't stand around dead bodies; it's just asking for trouble with or without this affliction.
  • Dark Pit (Easy): Traps impact 100% increased Resolve. While I wouldn't take this on my first run or two, traps will be pretty easy to avoid as soon as you have some experience with Sanctums.
  • Deceptive Mirror (Very Hard): You are not always taken to the room you select. If I want to finish any Sanctum runs, I wouldn't pick this affliction. You will most likely end up somewhere you really don't want to be.
  • Door Tax (Medium): Lose 30 Aureus coins on room completion. 30 coins is a lot of coins, but late in Sanctum runs, you won't have much left to spend money on anyway.
  • Empty Trove (Medium): Chests no longer drop Aureus coins. Don't take this one early; you'll want to boons you can get from Aureus coins, but late in runs, this boon can be kind of a freebie.
  • Fiendish Wings (Hard): Monsters’ Action Speed cannot be slowed below base, Monsters have 30% increased Attack, Cast and Movement Speed. For anyone building for crowd control, it sucks when you can't slow anyone down at all.
  • Floor Tax (Medium): Lose all Aureus on floor completion. This is yet another affliction that is impossible early but just fine later in a run.
  • Gargoyle Totem (Easy): Guards are accompanied by a Gargoyle. Gargoyles are easy enemies; they don't have anything particularly scary about them. So I would take this no matter what over any other afflicition.
  • Golden Smoke (Very Hard): Rewards are unknown on the Sanctum Map. What even is the point of going through a Sanctum if you don't know what you'll get in the end?
  • Haemorrhage (Easy): You cannot recover Resolve; this is removed after killing the next floor boss. For the most part, you should avoid losing Resolve as much as possible. This one is fairly easy to work around.
  • Honed Claws (Medium): Monsters deal 25% more Damage. Ranged attacks are king in Sanctums for several reasons, and this is one of them: not letting enemies get a hand on your character is one of the best ways to get through the dungeons and get that sweet loot. So if you aren't getting hit, what is 25% more damage?
  • Hungry Fangs (Medium): Monsters impact 25% increased Resolve and Inspiration. Once again, please avoid being hit as much as possible; if you have a good strategy for avoiding being hit in the first place, this 25% won't matter much.
  • Liquid Cowardice (Very Hard): Lose 10 Resolve when you use a Flask. Oh man, this one hurts. Flasks are super important to my builds, and I don't want to take Resolve damage just for taking a swig.
  • Mark of Terror (Medium): Monsters inflict Resolve Weakness on Hit. The strat is always to not get hit, but this is still kind of terrifying if you make a mistake. However, it can be dealt with.
  • Poisoned Water (Medium): Gain a random Minor Affliction when you use a Fountain. There are so many run-ending minor afflictions that this is the scariest; however, if you don't use the Fountains, you won't have to worry about taking the hits. You'll just have one fewer sources for Boons.
  • Purple Smoke (Very Hard): Afflictions are unknown on the Sanctum Map. Avoid this affliction as it will almost certainly end your run then and there.
  • Rapid Quicksand (Medium): Traps are faster. If you have a totem build and can avoid getting hit by boulders with them, this one is pretty much a gimme.
  • Red Smoke (Easy): Room types are unknown on the Sanctum Map. While knowing what is ahead of you is important, knowing what the room type will be is the least of your worries.
  • Rusted Coin (Easy): The Merchant only offers one choice. Rusted Coin is another affliction that I wouldn't pick up early in a run, but late, it can be basically free.
  • Rusted Mallet (Medium): Monsters always Knockback, Monsters have increased Knockback Distance.
  • Spiked Exit (Varies): Lose 5% of current Resolve on room completion. Depending on the other afflictions you already have and the amount of Inspiration you are working with, this one can anything from incredibly dangerous to a complete giveaway.
  • Spiked Shell (Easy): Monsters have 30% increased Maximum Life. This one is similar to Blunt Sword; if you don't have any trouble destroying enemies as soon as they come on screen, you won't really notice the 30% increase. However, if you already have Blunt Sword, I would avoid piling them on top of one another.
  • Spilt Purse (Easy): Lose 20 Aureus coins when you lose Resolve from a Hit. If you have enough Inspiration and are avoiding getting in melee range of enemies, this one should be easy as pie.
  • Tattered Blindfold (Medium): 90% reduced Light Radius, Minimap is hidden. If you are one of those people that gets nervous when you can't see what's going on in front of you or if you are already vulnerable to traps because of an affliction, Tattered Blindfold isn't great. However, if you have already memorized the layouts of most of the rooms, this one can be pretty easy.
  • Tight Choker (Varies): You can have a maximum of 5 Boons. For beginning runners with few good Relics, this affliction can be run-ending. However, if you have some amazing Relics for your load out, Tight Choker can really be a freebie for you.
  • Unhallowed Amulet (Medium): The Merchant offers 50% fewer choices. Fewer choices are not great early game, but a late-game Unhallowed Amulet won't change much of anything.
  • Unhallowed Ring (Medium): 50% increased Merchant prices. This affliction isn't bad unless you already have some afflictions that change the number of coins you get.
  • Unholy Urn (Varies): 50% reduced Effect of your Relics. After working long and hard for your Relics and choosing them carefully to help you get through each and every run, this one is terrifying. But if you don't have many Relics yet, this one is basically free.
  • Unquenched Thirst (Medium): 50% reduced Resolve recovered. With enough Inspiration and enough damage avoidance, this one doesn't matter in the least. But it can be rough when paired with some of the other afflictions. I would take careful consideration of what is already hurting my Resolve before picking this one up.
  • Voodoo Doll (Medium): 100% more Resolve lost while Resolve is below 50%. Much like Unquenched Thirst above, this one can be basically a boon or it can be a run killer. Take a hard look at your current load out before picking this one up.
  • Weakened Flesh (Medium): -100 to Maximum Resolve, but it cannot reduce your Maximum Resolve below 1. Weakened Flesh is yet another one of those afflictions that doesn't matter if you are avoiding damage and have plenty of Inspiration.
  • Worn Sandals (Hard): 40% reduced Movement Speed. I love anything that makes me go faster, and I hate any affliction that slows me down. I can't stand this affliction myself, but your milage my vary.

All Major Afflictions in Forbidden Sanctum PoE 3.22

Major Afflictions in the Forbidden Sanctum can be bigger, scarier, and pile on top of the already massive pile of afflictions you are under. Here are all the Major afflictions you can expect to see this season.

  • Anomaly Attractor (Very Hard): Rooms spawn Volatile Anomalies. This one is awful; these anomalies spawn everywhere, and they are nearly impossible to avoid.
  • Chiseled Stone (Very Hard): Monsters Petrify on Hit. If anything slows me down in a run, it's infuriating. If anything stops me cold in my tracks, it's absolutely a run killer for me every time.
  • Cutpurse (Varies): You cannot gain Aureus coins. Late in a run, Cutpurse will probably be fine; once you get most of the way through a Sanctum, coins become less and less relevant. However, early on, this affliction will be devastating.
  • Deadly Snare (Very Hard): Traps impact infinite Resolve. Basically, this affliction makes every trap an instant kill. I don't want to gamble my whole run on not making a mistake, and that makes this affliction the worst of all of them.
  • Death Toll (Easy): Lose 250 Resolve after completing 8 rooms. Since this major affliction takes the damage out of Inspiration first, then Resolve, this can be a gimme if you are careful about taking damage.
  • Demonic Skull (Easy): Cannot recover Resolve. I don't like relying on recovering Resolve during my runs; making sure I'm not getting hit in the first place is top priority. So I can take this one without any hesitation.
  • Ghastly Scythe (Medium): Losing Resolve ends your Sanctum; this affliction is removed after three rooms. One hit to your Resolve might destroy your run, but as long as you have plenty of Inspiration and don't have Spiked Exit, this one should be alright to pick up for most builds.
  • Glass Shard (Hard): The next Boon you gain is converted into a random Minor Affliction. If you aren't planning on picking up anymore Boons in your run, Glass Shard is fine to pick up. In any other situation, though, this one should be avoided. some of those minor afflictions are rough.
  • Orb of Negation (Varies): Non-Unique Relics have no Effect. This affliction can be good or bad depending on how your Relic load out looks.
  • Unassuming Brick (Varies): You cannot gain any more Boons. This is another one of those afflicitions that matters more the earlier you come across it in a run. If you are in need of more Boons, avoid it. If you aren't planning on picking up more Boons anyway, this is basically a giveaway.
  • Veiled Sight (Very Hard): Rooms are unknown on the Sanctum Map. Veiled Sight removes all information about every single room you will enter, meaning you are going in completely blind. This is a Sanctum-ender for sure.

Best builds for Forbidden Sanctum in PoE

With all the changes made to Sanctum in 3.22, you may be wondering what some of the best builds would be to get through Tomes with ease. Below are some suggestions to get the most out of Forbidden Sanctums in Trial of the Ancestors.

Related: Best new Keystones in Trial of the Ancestors – Path of Exile 3.22

  • While Spark and Tornado Shot were both great in 3.20, you will probably want to avoid them in 3.22. Since enemies off screen will no longer take damage, both these builds are not as viable as they used to be.
  • Cold damage over time (DoT) that slows enemies is super effective, so a Cold DoT Occultist or Elementalist can both be effective builds for this league. I prefer Occultist because of how Frigid Wake makes enemies hits weaker, but Elementalist can be better for early game and leveling.
  • Another great build for both Sanctums and early game is Rain of Arrows Champion. I like RoA for its versatility, as it can deal both great AoE damage as well as single-target. If you play it, add a Tattoo of the Ramako Makanga from the Trial of the Ancestors' tattoos to get additional projectiles over a small Dexterity node.
  • While Righteous Fire builds are amazing for the league mechanic, they don't do so well in Sanctum, since it's poor at avoiding damage.
  • Totem builds can be great for Forbidden Sanctums as the totems can block the constant barrage of fireballs in Find Exit Sanctum rooms.
  • One of my favorite overall builds for leveling, Trial, and Sanctum in 3.22 is Explosive Arrow Ballistas. This totem build is all about placing turrets to deal damage while allowing you to dodge incoming damage yourself. It is a fairly inexpensive build at the time of writing, allowing you to deep dive into all the content PoE has to offer without spending tons of Divine Orbs to do so.

For more Path of Exile, check out Path of Exile vs Diablo 4 – Similarities and Differences on Pro Game Guides.

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Mina Smith
Mina Smith is freelance writer from Richmond, VA who specializes in video game articles, mostly how-to guides. She has been writing about video games full time since 2019, but started part-time in this career almost a decade. Her number one passion has been video games since the 1990s, and her favorites are FF1, Baten Kaitos, and Viewfinder. In the past five years, Mina has written more than 2,500 articles and has garnered about a quarter of a billion views from audiences all over the world.

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Sanctum Guide for PoE 3.22

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