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When I level up, the screen shows me so many passives/actives/generators/spenders/runes. What I am asking is whether or not I am able to use everything that is available to me at my level.

For example, as a monk, I have unlocked all four spirit generators. However, many guides have been telling me to use two generators, such as crippling wave for AOE damage and FoT for single target. What about the other two?

I just do not understand how the system works, because it's not like I can level up CW/FoT to a higher rank every level.

The same question applies to runes. If I choose to use, say for example, Thunderclap with my Fists of Thunder, will I be able to use Bounding Light later on? Or am I stuck with Thunderclap?

Sorry in advance if this seems like a simple question; I am new to the Diablo series. And thank you for reading.

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you can switch out skills and runes in town –  z ' Jun 10 '12 at 14:38
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@yx That's true, but you can also do it anywhere else as well. –  silvermaple Jun 10 '12 at 17:38
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You may use up to a total of 6 skills at a time, one for each of your mouse buttons and then another 4 which may be bound to any key and defaults to the numbers 1-4. You can attach a single rune to each of these skills at a time. You can change skills and runes at any time, including in combat, but doing so triggers a cooldown on that slot. You may choose any skill for any slot, if you have Elective Mode enabled in the games options.

Getting used to changing skills often is ill advised as at end-game doing so is penalised heavily in the form of resetting a buff you gain called Nephalem's Valor which improves the number and quality of drops you obtain through your game session. However you are very able to change skills easily at any time to any skill you have access to in the case that you find you just don't like the way your character is playing.

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+1 I didn't know that about Elective Mode! Good stuff :) –  silvermaple Jun 10 '12 at 17:38
    
Thanks for the quick and thorough answer. –  troll Jun 10 '12 at 23:18
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Matthew's answer is correct, but you might gain from learning about the skill system a little. In short, skills unlock as you level, and level with you. More information can easily be found with a quick search.

To make it extra clear, you can change your skills on the fly at any time, unless the skill in the slot you want is on cooldown. There is no cost, aside from losing the Nephalem Valor buff, to changing skills. You are not set in your skill choice like D2/D2X, and there is no "respec" of the type you might find in an MMO. You are limited by only being able to select 6 active skills, each with 1 rune selected, at a single time. Two things to add:

  1. Switching skills in town does not trigger a cooldown.
  2. The duration of the triggered cooldown out-of-town increases with level.

So, it is best practice to set up your skills in town, before commencing a play session. During progression, frequent build changes can improve overall progression over time (and break through situations that counter your selected build), but for farming, sticking to a single build per run will give you greater return on time investment due to Nephalem Valor.

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