Path of Exile: Skill Gem Tips for Player from luckypants's blog

Welcome new Exiles! I’m here to share some Path of Exile tips for beginners regarding Vaal Skill Gems, Vaal Orbs, and the Corrupted modifier. Any items, including skill gems, that are Corrupted may have unique, implicit modifiers that can’t be applied by other PoE currency orbs, such as the Orb of Augmentation, the Orb of Transmutation or Chaos Orbs Chaos Orbs. In Path of Exile, active skills (i.e., skills that you use on command) are itemized onto "Skill Gems". These gems confer an active skill to the player when they are socketed into equipment and gain experience as the player slays enemies.

1) Skill gem

Active skill gems and support skill gems are usually referred to as skill gems. Skill gems must be equipped in item sockets before their use. Active skill gems grant an active skill for the player to use and are further augmented by linked support skill gems. There are currently 194 different active skill gems and 107 support skill gems in the game, for a total of 301.

Skill gems are not to be confused with passive skills, which provide constant stats and mainly earned through character levelling.

2) Obtaining gems

There are several methods of obtaining skills and support gems:

Earned through a quest reward (see quest reward gems).

Purchased from town vendors once a certain quest is complete.

Vendors in Acts 1-4 sell leveled skill gems. The available gems are based on the character's class.

Siosa in Act 3 sells all unleveled skill gems that can be received as quest rewards, across all classes.

Lilly Roth in Act 6 sells all unleveled skill gems after completing the Act 6 quest "Fallen from Grace".

Vendor recipe (see vendor recipe system).

Random drop from monsters, chests and strongboxes.

Random offer from a master (master skill gem list).

Vaal skill gems come from Vaal Vessels in corrupted areas.

Divination cards

3) Gem experience

When a gem is close to levelling up, a bar pops up at the right hand side of the screen, showing the experience progress of that gem.

Socketed gems gain 10% of the experience your character earns, calculated before any level penalties.

The number of gems you have equipped has no effect on the rate of experience gain.

Gems do not lose experience when you die.

Items with +experience% gain do affect gems.

Gems socketed in inactive weapon slots do gain experience.

Gems may be traded like normal items and they will retain their experience.

Once a gem has enough experience to level up, it will stop gaining experience and a level–up icon will appear on the right of the screen and in the inventory menu. Left–clicking it will level up the gem, right–clicking the icon will hide it on the side of the screen, but it will still be accessible in the inventory menu. Not levelling up a gem is useful in some situations.

As gems level up, the abilities they grant get better, but the requirements to equip them also increase, as well as the mana cost for active skills. Each gem level, the exile must have both the attribute corresponding to gem colour and a character level high enough to meet its increased requirements. If a gem gains enough experience to level up, but the exile currently does not meet the requirements, the level–up icon will appear greyed out and not be useable until the requirements are met.

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