In Path of Exile, the Atlas of Worlds 2.4.0 update added channeled skills. These skills, namely Incinerate, Flameblast and Wither, are unique in that players activate the skill and continue activating the skill until they release the key that activated it to begin with.
In order to keep the skill going, players repeatedly pay mana until the mana supplies are depleted. The mana cost is required to be applied in order to maintain the channeling skill for the same frequency and duration.
Game mechanics can also interrupt channeling skills, and these mechanics include dying, being stunned, various injuries, and other mechanics that interrupt other non-channeling skills.
Survivability is one of the biggest concerns for Path of Exile players when activating channeling skills, since vulnerability becomes an issue.
However, the developers over at Grinding Gear Games have stated that channeling skills scale well with casting speed and attack speed, which makes it a credit to the player to be able to dodge well and reposition themselves when engaged in combat. Meanwhile, they have intimated that they are currently entertaining the possibility of adding support gems that trigger while channeling skills are active. If this comes to fruition, they would be among the most useful and sought-after Path of Exile items to obtain.
Among the most effective mechanics for mitigating damage and otherwise avoiding getting hurt while using channeling skills include Block and Dodge, and, to a lesser degree, Evasion. Fortify, movement skills, and awareness can also enable gamers to mitigate damage while in the midst of an active channeling skill.
Theoretically any setup that can increase survivability while only using passive defenses would be a good fit for players who use channeling skills religiously. For example, a Righteous Fire with Vortex Guardian build, as well as a well-leveled Inquisitor with high Life and Mind over Matter skills can prove useful and effective. Essentially, building your character along the lines of an Aegis Tank Fire Ray also makes perfect sense, because of the high Energy Shield and Life pools afforded by going this route.
Arctic Armour is another formidable defensive skill that players can activate while using a channeling skill. It protects players against physical and fire damage while the character is stationary. And since the trail of ground ice in Arctic Armour is scalable, with a generous 2.5 seconds afforded at the baseline level, this is plenty of time for players to increase survivability when using a channeling skill.
Meanwhile, there are other options that players have when managing skills, much like managing PoE items. Instead of self-casting the channeling skills individually as needed, players can place these skills on the Spell Totem. By doing this, they have the potential to beef up the channeling skill to astonishing levels of destruction.
Invoking the Spell Totem for channeling skills may in fact become a problematic strategy, especially if the developers become cognizant of any overuse or imbalance in strength favoring savvy players who use the Spell Totem to put their channeling skills over the top. For the meantime, if a strong offense proves to be the most effective defense, then players may adopt – and stick to – this strategy to increase survivability.