tl;dr It works, great success, further improvements necessary. You'd think I'd learn to make shorter posts.
Mind you, success is relative. I've made it work in City of Sarn at level 58. This doesn't mean it'll work through the 70s and in maps, but it's a prerequisite to doing so if you're leveling a build the old-fashioned way. Note: I did not clear act bosses on my own after a3c. For some of them (Brutus, Vaal, etc), it was convenient to get a party kill or a rush; for others (Oak, Piety, Dominus) it was an admission that my build wasn't up to handling them. Not at that time or that level: this is still a work in progress and I'm figuring it out as I go along. More on that later.
> pick up 2h sword with lightning damage at level 44, replacing Geofri's Baptism. This works well enough in ledge. With a party for survivability reasons.
> buy fantastic level 50 req claw for 2c (150edps, high aps, 8 crit, 15 LoH), switch into it at 54 because that was the level of the shield I had, losing almost 100dps in the process. At this point I have no clear speed to speak of, and I never had patience anyway. Doesn't matter in a fellshrine party.
> pick up a few crit nodes, realise I'm freezing mobs in city semi-reliably and that my dps is fine when I crit, decide that makes it time to change to Voll's. The tipping point for that seems to be about 20-25%, incidentally. Anything lower and I don't crit enough to reliably generate and keep charges, but I can get charges going easily enough at 22% crit before PCs. It's entirely possible I could've skipped the low-dps phase of the earlier few levels by simply taking crit nodes earlier. Learning experience!
Several hours, 10c equivalent, and a lot of time on xyz later, I manage to overcap resists without relying on body armour. My crit rate goes to 40% after power charges. Since I have 15 LoH on the claw and 2 on a ring, I figure I'll drop the LoH gem so I can CoC. This has not come back to bite me yet, but it's only a matter of time until I run into major lightning thorns. Ele reflect does not appear to be a problem. Yet.
ST - LMP - CoC - RS
RM - Clarity - Wrath - Anger (not actually running this one, it's just hanging around)
Animate Weapon - Increased Duration - Flesh Offering
Skeles - totem - blind - minion life
Current skill tree at level 61
Clear speed: about equivalent to my last HC character at the same level in the same zone, with about the same survivability although it takes more thought/attention to use it.
The original plan involved a Thief's Torment, but the cheapest one listed on xyz is 1.5ex. So much for that. 5L Voll's, 2ex minimum. Yeah, no thanks either. I got really lucky with the edps on the claw, but it should have worked - however well - with just the ias and crit on the same base. Maybe dual wielding for more LoH/aps would have worked, but resists are hard enough to handle as-is. The original plan also involved dual wielding daggers and taking dagger nodes. For obvious reasons, those are the absolute last nodes I'm going for, and until then (and a 5L Voll's and/or a Torment) the claw will do. This is the budget option.
Swapping the CoC/RS for LoH on ST went a lot better than expected. I was expecting major survivability trouble from cutting 2/3 of my HP return, particularly since I'd already been in several situations where it was leech or die. You know, the usual claw build thing. But I didn't count on the extra targets provided by the spirits. This is #1 reason I can get away without a LoH gem, I believe.
Raging spirits are doubly limited in this build. One limit is time. They frequently disappear on me. Another limit - which I didn't plan for - is targets. Between my own damage, skeles and other spirits, mobs die fast enough that a couple of throws in and there aren't enough targets to crit any more. So yes, I do get more spirits out when I'm in a party, and around mobs with the allies cannot die aura. Current record is 40+ on Grath and his buddies. Regularly caps out at 7-8 single target (rares, bosses) or 10-12 in a mob, 20ish if it's a larger or more resilient mob, but they disappear pretty fast after that as critters die. The point of comparison is a dual-totems RS summoner I was partied with one of the days, who had a consistent 16, or the spirits cap, which is 50. Clearly I need more skulls. Nothing I can do about the targets, the majority of spirits are always going to be summoned in the first throw or two. But I can make them last longer with a skill cluster directly below Scion. I can also run GMP instead of LMP. It's possible that increasing crit would help, as with a higher proportion of crits, so less "dead" hits, I'll get more summons per damage dealt before target dies. Maybe.
Gave up on animate guardian. Probably going to use Leer Cast on myself if I can manage resists. In other words, probably not. Anything else, such as tanking/damage, was icing on the cake. From my experience this weekend, it would've been minor anyway.
Zombies don't last long without minion HP nodes or the life gem. At the moment, they feel like extra animated weapons. Entire build seems pretty much focused on minions being disposable, anyway. While a durable zombie horde would be fantastic, my previous summoner experience was that you soak damage either with a skeletotem or with zombies. It isn't necessary to do both and I was very rarely bringing up my skeletotem when I had a full set of 10 zombies. I'll be trying very hard to make zombies work, but if I have to give them up, so be it. I'll live.
I find myself pressed for time. Need to crit to summon spirits, means need to attack. But there's also flesh offering to cast, and weapons to animate, in between positioning for survival, including kiting. This is a great deal harder than right click afk builds.
Want Haste. Where's that minion spreadsheet gone? Not sure I'll be able to run both Anger and Hatred, so I'll pick one based on the spreadsheet. Assuming I can get rid of Clarity some way. In the first place, I picked it up because Voll's meant I was using my flasks too often, but the ideal situation doesn't involve flasks at all. I'm working on it, alright?
And speaking of mana, it's worth considering using a level 1 ST instead of the one I leveled. Should alleviate the GMP cost increase a little.
This build should warrant at least a proof-of-concept post in the main forum once I'm through lower maps, since the specific setup doesn't appear to have a thread yet. I'm looking forward to it...unless someone else gets there first. Still a bit salty about the guy who posted IB+splash facebreakers literally the day before I was going to. Oh well. Remind me to talk about the evolution of forum build threads one of these days, too.