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Path of Exile guide: How Active Skill Gems work, and where to find them

This is how you blow stuff up in Path of Exile

Active Skill Gem Polygon Grinding Gear Games via Polygon

The Active Skill Gems system is one of the most unique features of Path of Exile. Instead of unlocking an ability when you level up and slotting it onto your bar, you find Active Skill Gems around the world. When you slot these Active Skill Gems into your weapons or armor, you will gain access to a new ability. You will also lose the ability when you take the gem out.

Here’s how Active Skill Gems work in Path of Exile.

What is an Active Skill Gem?

Path of Exile Active Skill Gem
Click on your ability slots to change your Active Skill Gems
Grinding Gear Games via Polygon

Active Skill Gems are Path of Exile’s version of abilities.

When you slot a colored gem into a matching colored socket on an armor piece, you will gain access to that Active Skill Gem’s ability. If you remove the gem from your armor, you will lose access to the ability until you put it back in.

Active Skill Gems come in one of three colors, linked to their associated stat: blue for Intelligence, green for Dexterity, and red for Strength. While your class can use whatever Active Skill Gems you want, you will perform better with abilities that match your stats. A Marauder can use a green Active Skill Gem, but does even better with a red Active Skill Gem, for example.

Active Skill Gem abilities range from enhanced melee bashes to fireballs to raising an army of zombies to assist you. You can check out a full list of Active Skill Gem abilities on the Path of Exile gamepedia.

Where can I find more Active Skill Gems?

Your first Active Skill Gem drops from a monster or a chest while adventuring. Just loot it like you would a normal gear piece. Quest givers often reward you with a choice of Active Skill Gems as well.

When you’re choosing from a vendor, it’s best to read all of the gems associated with your stat colors. If you find a few gems that work with your skills, pick the one you think sounds the most fun.

If you’re looking for a specific Active Skill Gem, you may need to progress further through the story. Eventually you will come across a vendor that can sell you all Active Skill Gems in the game. But you won’t meet her until later in the game, during Act 6.

How do you level up an Active Skill Gem?

Path of Exile Active Skill Gems
Look for your gems to appear in the top right corner, meaning they’re ready to level up
Grinding Gear Games via Polygon

Active Skill Gems socketed into your gear gain a portion of your experience — about 10%. There are certain items in the game that increase the amount of experience your Active Skill Gems earn.

Once your Active Skill Gem reaches a threshold of experience, you will have the option to upgrade your Active Skill Gem. This makes your Active Skill Gem much more powerful, but can also make it harder to use. The higher level your gem is, the more of its associated stat you need to wield it. Leveling up a gem also increases the amount of mana you need to cast its ability.

Finding a mix of abilities you like to play with is key to enjoying Path of Exile.