Character Build: The Nightguard

Something I've been thinking about after Dawnguard is why 95% of Vampires are always the bad guys. What if there was a good Vampire with a bit of a darker side? Wouldn't that be great for RP? The rest of the base mechanics came from some other ideas of a heavy armor stealth character and a 'proper' Vampire Lord character where the Lord forms strengths perfectly complement the humanoid form, a bit like my Shaper. So let's get right into it.

The Nightguard

"So where did I leave off again? Ah yes, those damnable bandits has just burned my wagon and produce to the ground as my wife, daughter and I were travelling to the market in Solitude. We'd stopped in a small grove just off the road, and my daughter managed to get away before the bandits caught us. I feared by the time she could get help it'd be too late though.

They had me tied to a tree, completely helpless. 2 of the bandits were keeping watch on the road, and another 3 seemed to be ready to have their way with my wife right before my eyes. I couldn't help but avert my gaze away, where I spotted an armored fellow moving through the forest to my left, his dimly glowing orange pupils revealing his true nature. That was, before he simply vanished from sight in a black mist.

The bandits seemed to be more focused on getting their leader's plate armor off, and didn't notice me attempting to squirm out of my bonds. That night was just going from bad to worse. First bandits took my wife and I prisoner, and who knew what the vampire wants with us?

The next I saw of the vampire was about 30 seconds later, where his mace smashed the head of one of the watchmen to pieces. He then turned to the other watchman and delivered a nasty blow with his spiked shield and a crushing strike from his mace. That seemed to get rest of the bandits' attention. They drew steel, and rather oddly, the vampire put his weapons away. Then the convulsing started. The bandits (not to mention my wife and I) stared in horror as he burst into a terrifying, batlike form. The 3 bandits charged, and with a bolt of red magic the vampire sucked the very life force from them. The leader seemed unphased by the attack, until the vampire pulled him off his feet with another spell. He smashed the bandit into a large tree - no small number of bones breaking there - before tossing him high up in the air and releasing the spell. We wondered what fate awaited us...

Sweat dripped down my face as the vampire strode over to us, his unnerving appearance chilling me to the bone. He extended a long claw from his hand, severing mine and my wife's bonds before reverting into his human form and dissapearing into the night.

The guards didn't believe me. They thought the vampire had muddled my wits, but I know what I saw. He's not our hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A dark knight."

The Nightguard is a powerful ancient vampire who has overcome his bloodthirst and instead uses his powers to protect the people of Tamriel. He is skilled in the use of arms, armor, and shields, as well as the art of stealth. He is also able to heal himself, in addition to creating, upgrading and enchanting high quality arms and armor. In this humanoid form, he's a skilled assassin and warrior, and can transform into a Vampire Lord to gain access to powerful magic powers, including life drain, telekinesis, necromancy, and summoning. With the powers of both his humanoid and Vampire Lord form combined, he's able to achieve almost any objective with ease.

Recommended Race: Any. I chose Breton since I hadn't played one for awhile and their Magic Resist bonus helps offset a Vampire's fire weakness.

Stats: 3/1/2 in Health/Magicka/Stamina. You're a tough frontline fighter but you still need a decent magicka reserve for healing and Vampire Lord abilities.

Stone: The Lady. This is a great one for Vampires as it significantly improves their combat abilities during daylight - they can now regenerate Health and Stamina, though at 25% of the normal rate.

Perks: Level 20 | Level 40 | Level 60


  1. Major Skills
  2. Minor Skills
  3. Vampirism
  4. Demonstration Video
  5. Equipment
  6. Roleplaying
  7. Combat


1. Major Skills

One-Handed: Your only offensive skill in human form. Over the centuries the Nightguard has mastered the crushing blows of the mace, effective in both frontline combat and sneak attacks. The slow speed of the mace makes it more difficult to block with compared to a sword or axe, so it might take some getting used to. Key perks are pretty much everything except the axe, sword, and dual-wield perks.

Heavy Armor: The Nightguard needs to be well protected, so heavy armor is his best option. Key perks are pretty much just Juggernaut and Well Fitted.

Block: Using a shield makes the Nightguard very difficult to take down in melee, and later on can protect him against any attack. Good use of blocking and bashing is key to staying alive in difficult fights. Key perks are just up the left side.

2. Minor Skills

Sneak: The Nightguard is able to remain hidden and move completely silently, which allows him to deliver deadly sneak attacks with his mace. The mace does the most damage per hit out of all one-handed weapons, and can deliver almost as much damage with a 6x sneak attack as a dagger can with 15x. Something important to note however is the crushing blows of the mace ignore a portion of the target's armor, which can make it more effective on the whole. In addition, when you get the block runner perk you can raise your shield to move at full speed while sneaking. Key perks are just a rank in Stealth, Muffled Movement, and Backstab.

Restoration: The Nightguard is able to cast basic healing spells and wards to stay alive during combat, and to restore both health and stamina during the day. Recovery also allows the Nightguard to regenerate Magicka during the day, though at a slower rate than normal. Key perks are up to Apprentice, Respite, Regeneration and Recovery. If you like you can go to Necromage (if you don't know since the game flags you as undead when you become a Vampire, Necromage boosts all effects on a Vampire originating from you by 25%, though this includes negative effects I believe).

Smithing: The Nightguard can create and maintain his equipment. I really like the look of Ebony on this guy, so up to Ebony Smithing and Arcane Blacksmith it is.

Enchanting: The Nightguard can also enchant his own equipment. I just got ranks in Enchanter and Soul Squeezer early on. I found it pretty easy to get up to about 50 skill from just disenchanting.

The Nightguard strikes from the shadows, giving this Bandit a faceful of shield spikes

3. Vampirism

As you probably guessed, Vampirism is a very integral part of this build. The Vampire Lord form allows us to narrow our humanoid form focus and leave most magic stuff to the Vampire Lord.

When perking your Vampire Lord you should go up the right side of the tree first. Two very important spells are Vampiric Grip and Summon Gargoyle. Vampiric Grip allows you to toss enemies around like rag dolls (literally), pull them over to you, or knock them down. Summon Gargoyle gives you a very tough minion which absorbs health with it's melee attacks - plus, it stays with you even when you revert form.

Don't be afraid to change forms multiple times during a fight - something I typically do is shoot down the weaker melee attackers with Drain Life, then summon a Gargoyle and grip a ranged combatant over into melee range where they're significantly weaker. While my Gargoyle takes a few hits, I revert form (While this does take a few seconds, you can still move and fight) and fight with my mace and shield.

In human form your Vampire abilities enhance your stealth with both a 25% sneak boost and an invisibility ability.

Sun weakness can be largely avoided through regeneration - instead of stopping regeneration being in the sun reduces it by 100%. I used the Lady Stone combined with Recovery 1 to get 25% base regen on all my stats, and a Magicka Regeneration helmet to get a bit more on top of that - with Respite you can use it to restore both Health and Stamina. Vampire Lord also increases your regen rates.

As part of the Dawnguard questline, Isran will repeatedly get quite upset at you for having Vampirism. Here's what I did:

  • Contracted Vampirism ASAP in my playthrough, and joined the Dawnguard with basic Vampirism
  • After recruiting Sorine and Gunmar get cured (required to continue)
  • Get Serana to turn you into a Vampire Lord when you enter the Soul Cairn
  • Get cured before the final battle
  • Get Serana to turn me back afterwards

You get to keep all your Vampire perks when you are cured and infected again.

The Nightguard tosses this Briarheart off a cliff with Vampiric Grip

4. Demonstration Video

5. Equipment

In this build I think I made a pretty cool look from a variety of equipment, with Ebony Mail as the centerpiece.


  • Ebony Mace enchanted with the Silent Moons Enchant. It does pretty solid damage and is incredibly efficient, so you don't have to worry too much about wasting charges during the day. Note that tje Silent Moons Enchant is bugged on consoles, so Fire is a good substitute.
  • An unenchanted Ebony Mace (Optional) can be used during daytime/with Elemental Fury.
  • Soul Trap dagger - you're not using Conjuration so you just need something to trap souls.
  • Auriel's Bow (Dawnguard Spoilers - highlight to read) allows you to blot out the sun, giving you an easier time during the day.


  • The Ebony Mail has an amazing armor rating, very cool visual effects, and a perfectly suited enchantment. The poison cloak makes you do a little more damage in melee, and I think it looks really appropriate for the build. The muffle effect on it, when combined with the Muffled Movement perk in Sneak, makes you move completely silently.
  • The Targe of the Blooded is the shield I used, it looks really cool and I haven't used it before. I was going to go with a Blades or Ebony shield that I enchanted myself, but there's a bug where they're invisible on a Vampire character (I know I can get mods to fix this but I'm trying to keep console players in mind). The bash bleed damage stacks, which is quite useful.
  • Custom Enchanted Ebony Gauntlets, Ebony Boots and Blades Helmet fill up the rest of the slots. I used 1-handed damage on the Gauntlets, Resist Fire on the Boots (combined with Breton Resist Magic it nullifies the fire weakness) and Regenerate Magicka on the Helm (to help with regaining health and stamina during the day).


The Nightguard lands a telling blow on this Dremora

6. Roleplaying

The Nightguard is an absolute blast to roleplay. Like you might have guessed from the short story I wrote at the top, I played him as a sort of dark knight character. After living for a thousand years, he has little concern for an individual but rather prefers to see the bigger picture - not to say that he won't help people, but some might not agree with his methods. Take Boethiah's quest for example - there was a price to pay to gain Boethiah's favor and acquire her artifact to better combat evil in Skyrim, and he was willing to sacrifice a follower for the greater good. Similarly, he does make use of the Bloodcursed Arrows effect of Auriel's Bow, though only under the most dire of circumstances. For example, I was being attacked by a Blood Dragon and Elder Dragon at about level 30 during the day, and I probably wouldn't survived without that 50pt boost to my stats or the regen.

My Nightguard preferred to work alone, and generally avoided cities. He traded with the Khajiit caravans whenever possible instead of going inside to shop. I didn't use any companions besides Serana (since you need to use her) and generally avoided people on the road. If I was travelling in Vampire Lord form and encountered some bandits attacking a friendly NPC, I'd help them kill the bandits and then use Vampire's Seduction to stop them attacking me. As a vampire who's learned to control his bloodthirst I avoided feeding completely.

The Nightguard in Vampire Lord form battles an Elder Dragon atop Lake Ilinalta

7. Combat

To open combat, always try and go for a sneak attack on an enemy. If you can't get to anyone without being seen, go Vampire Lord and get in a number of ranged attacks/pulls before they reach you. Using Vampiric Grip to pull an enemy over to you and then reverting form immediately usually means you're ready to face them as soon as they regain their footing - an excellent tactic on strong archers. Vampiric Grip works on most enemies regardless of level - you could just toss giants off cliffs and kill them with barely any effort. Keep in mind that your Gargoyle stays with you after you revert.

When fighting groups, keep in mind that the Vampire Lord drain spell has a reasonable area of effect, and you absorb health from everyone that you hit. Alternately, try and get them into some sort of choke point where your amazing 1v1 abilities in humanoid form will easily let you win against a single enemy at a time. Don't be afraid to do a bash-heal combo if you're low on health - once you have respite, you'll get back the stamina you used anyway.

As for Shouts, Soul Tear goes quite well with this guy, giving him a minion of any level provided he lands a killing blow with the Shout. Using it on say a Bandit Chief is something to aim for but it's wasted on lower level enemies. A neat trick I found was you can summon 2 dragons after doing both the Soul Cairn and Main Quest - use Call Dragon and immediately wait for 2 hours, then use Summon Durnehviir. This is incredibly useful when doing the Civil War missions!

The Nightguard can use his Thu'um to call two dragons to assist him

Well thanks for reading all, this is probably one of my favourite builds so far, he's quite powerful, very fun to play, and has some great roleplaying opportunities. Don't forget to shoot a like if you enjoyed reading and a comment if you've got questions!

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  • This is among my favorites from your collection. I really like the roleplay and backstory behind this build. 

  • The OG of the good vampire builds! That armor combination looks amazing, this is the only build that I can recall that uses it.
  • I'm gonna try this build out for sure.
  • This might just be my favorite build of all time. The aesthetic, combat, everything is just so COOL. This is the epitome of vampire builds in my opinion and it's one I look back on often. 

  • Hey Ponty, your Nightguard was chosen as this week's Reddit feature. Check it out here!

    Character Build: The Nightguard • r/SkyrimBuilds
    This build was created by one of our members, [Ponty]( --- ##The Nightguard *The Nightguard is a...
  • I really like this build. I just have one question. Would it be acceptable roleplay wise to join the volkihar with the hopes of destroying them from within? I really wanna access vampire lord powers as soon as possible. 

    • Sounds like a fun alternative! Just be sure to skip the side-quests that involve hunting down the Dawnguard leaders.

    • If I recall there is a mod that will allow you to get through the entire dawnguard quest as a vampire without Isran demanding that you cure yourself. Buuut if you’re a vampire Serana won’t offer to bite you which means you’ll never become a vampire lord. If there’s a mod that will let you start as a vampire lord that and the aforementioned mod will fix everything. 

  • What ring and pendant did you use for this guy? Would you recommend ring of the beast?

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