Well, crap. My merc can't equip the grim scythe yet. According to GoMule, he has 133 dexterity, and the scythe needs 140. I was so looking forward to a major increase of like 9x - 10x the damage. My merc has been using Rune Nail, which gives 4% life steal and 10 - 26 damage, and my insight grim scythe does 103 - 220 damage plus all the other bonuses. :(
You can get him a much better weapon in the meantime if you have a good pile of money: gamble a rare weapon (Poleaxe or Halberd are probably best at the moment) with good damage. Something like +180% ED shouldn't be too hard to get. Then upgrade the weapon to excpetional (so it becomes a Partizan/Bec-De-Corbin) with the cupe recipe 'normal rare weapon' + Ort + Amn + Perfect Sapphire.
Another (simpler) temporary solution is to give him a socketed armor or helm with some emeralds in it, so he can meet the 140 DEX requirement.
I have 424 max mana on my sorc right now, most of it from charms, rings, amulets, and the HOTO staff. I'm still collecting runes to make a second Vex rune to make a HOTO mace or flail.
I just broke level 72 by repeatedly doing the Temple / Pindle on /players8 cuz my meteor kills everything in 1 - 2 hits. I scored the Mage unique gloves that gives +1 to fire skills. My meteor does a little over 5000 damage a hit, with about 600 fire damage per second afterwards. It basically kills all the zombies in the Temple in 1 hit plus a couple seconds of the meteor fire after the initial impact. I think I have 1 or 2 more points before I max out meteor, then I can finish up with ice blast afterwards for max blizzard synergy.
I'm debating whether to continue doing Temple + Pindle for a few more levels to see if my merc can finally equip the scythe, or go on straight to Baal and then unlock Hell difficulty. I remember reading that there's a good place in Act 1 Hell for the best gear drops. Dunno if that's true or not.
The pit in act 1 is a level 85 area, and the monsters there are "weak" compared to most of hell. Because it's a level 85 area, everything can drop anything, as far as I understand it. The rarest of the uniques and stuff might have to be from the boss packs you find in there, but that's typically the entire purpose of running that area. Yo can also relatively easily get to level 90 int here, since they're level 85+ monsters.