Pickpocket is quite the oddball skill which might find itself in the arsenal of an average Thief, Assassin or Alchemist-type build. All of these classes would also practice Sneak to facilitate the subterfuge and sabotage, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it felt oppressive that I had to perk both skills to use one of them against hostiles. But this Argonian breaks the mold; where others nab their opponent’s arms from the shadows, he simply yanks it out of their hands when they’re down in the dirt.
Hide your gold, women and children, and grip your blades tight,
For the Terror of the Tides is upon us tonight!
It was unusual for an Argonian child to be seen outside Black Marsh, and stranger yet, to have been born and raised in an Imperial city. Not too long ago, he had been scraping by with his mother, but an unfortunate horse-carriage accident had robbed him of his only parent. Alone in a cruel world, he relieved fat nobles of their fatter-yet purses for a living.
But the nobles eventually noticed, and the guards took unusually drastic measures to apprehend him. With nagging thoughts about the circumstances of his mother’s death and his birth, the Argonian knew that staying there meant suicide. Stowing away on a merchant ship, he left for unknown lands. But as fate would have it, one thing lead to another, and the young Argonian found himself scrubbing the deck of a Pirate ship to save his neck.
To his surprise, life at sea was almost natural to him. Catching bits of swordsmanship and sailing techniques from the crew, the Argonian became an expert swashbuckler and navigator at an unnatural pace, earning him a reputation as a prodigy of slaughter and pillaging. Eventually succeeding his captain, he led the crew to wealth and infamy.
But once again, the law caught onto him. The pirates veered well off the merchant ship route in pursuit of their quarry when they found themselves surrounded by the Imperial Armada. Some of the crew fought and were felled by Imperial Steel, while the Argonian and some others tried their luck with the unforgiving Ghost Sea. Holding onto an old plank for dear life, the Argonian drifted in the rough seas for several days before washing up on foreign, icy shores.
Archetype: Thief, Duelist, Ruthless Cutthroat
Skills: One-handed, Block, Light Armor, Speech, Pickpocket
Shouts: Cyclone, Unrelenting Force
Stats: 0/1/1 until health hits 200. Then go full stamina. 200 is a good amount of health for Legendary difficulty, and the Stamina investment gives you more bashes/power attacks. Ordinator introduces perks which improve weapon damage based on max stamina, so the stamina investment isn’t just dead weight.
Apparel: Skaal Hat/Diadem of the Savant/Assorted circlets, Dawnguard Armor (Brown), Leather bracers, Thieves guild boots, Amulet of Talos, Assortment of rings and amulets.
Here’s a fun mod which I got into a short while ago, but it has been an absolute bomb, more so than any other perk overhaul mod. The perks incentivize stamina investment and synergize well with other perks from different skill trees (which have branches with one theme each). Another great thing about it is that there are reduced perk redundancies (read 5/5 Armsman), letting us drop all those excess points into the cool new perks. Not to say that this build can’t be played on vanilla Skyrim, but I highly recommend this mod to breathe new life into an old game.
One-handed: Armsman 5/5, Fighting Stance, Critical Charge, Savage Strike,
Block: Shield Wall 1/5, Quick Reflexes, Power Bash, Deadly Bash, Disarming Bash, Shield Charge
Speech: Haggling 3/5, Bribery, Allure, Merchant, Investor, Fence
Pickpocket: Light Fingers 3/5, Night Thief, Poisoned, Cutpurse, Misdirection, Perfect Touch
Light Armor: Agile Defender 3/5, Custom Fit
One-handed and Block are your basic combat skills, with a focus on power attacks and bashing with the high stamina investment. Rogue’s Parry works well with Quick Reflexes and rewards the use of sword-and-empty-hand stance, while Furious Strength translates your stamina pool into damage. Timed Block rewards skillful combat and Apocalypse-Proof negates magical damage if you time it right. Light armor provides a modest compromise between defense and mobility.
Speech is one of the trees changed greatly in Ordinator, with several new branches featuring Instruments, animal-taming, and Shouts. The Red Bramman will make generous use of the latter branch, with perks which give a chance to have no cooldown when Shouting, or weakening enemies and buffing yourself when you Shout.
Pickpocket has also had an overhaul, with a new branch featuring the Cursed Septim, an item which amplifies the damage taken by the NPC in possession of it. Luckily, this is something the Bramman can easily ensure. The final perk in the pickpocket tree lets you trade 50,000 gold for a perk point, which finally gives us a reason to keep amassing wealth and grants access to more perks, letting you fill up every perk tree.
Now, before I go into the specifics, there’s one nifty trick I need to go over that the Red Bramman employs.
The Ragdoll Pickpocket Exploit
You might have heard of, seen or done this before: pay for the services of a trainer, Ice Form them, and pickpocket the gold when they’re getting back up. This works on the basis that NPCs standing up after a fall can be have their pockets picked with a 100% chance of success for the thief.
I realized during a nightblade playthrough that I could pickpocket enemies recovering from paralysis DURING BATTLE. This adds a whole new dynamic to a one-off gold-saving trick, turning it into a lethal disarming technique for combat use. And it’s all the more deadly when wielded by a cold-blooded pirate who won’t hesitate to hit the enemy when they’re down.
Disclaimer: this doesn’t work 100% of the time. If the target becomes aggressive after witnessing your crime/being assaulted, you won’t be able to pick their pockets. There are some other cases which restrict pickpocket, too, but they are infrequent.
Bramman lives by the blade, capable of settling most quarrels by intimidation or with a cutlass. He can evade heavy attacks and block weaker hits with ease, allowing him to come out on top in any one-on-one engagement. When there are too many foes to handle, he unleashes a powerful gust of wind, knocking most foes to the ground and leaving them open to the vices of his greasy fingers. Most of them will return to the fight with only their bare fists, and one lucky customer gets to briefly hold the Cursed Septim.
Foes that rely on their arms, like most melee foes and bowmen, are Bramman’s most relished prey, for they are helpless without their arms. However, Magic users are quite a headache, since they can negate the gust of wind with their wards, and the armor Bramman wears provides little defense against raging flames and shattering frost. Against these foes, Bramman would cut through the magic with his sword, rendering him Apocalypse-proof, but if he lacks the ability to do so, proactive combat, supported by stolen potions and enchanted jewelry, would suffice. Dragons will be a challenge to take down, but with prudent use of bashing to silence their elemental Shouts and evading their melee strikes with quick reflexes, not to mention using lingering poisons, the fights will be long but in favor of Bramman.
And you might wonder: for all the hoo-ha about the Red Bramman, he doesn’t have particularly strong offenses or defenses. That is to be expected, from a man who used intimidation and strength in numbers as his main tools to raid weak settlements. The Red Bramman would still pilfer and murder in Skyrim, but with the consideration that he has little or no backup to deal with the backlash. He might, however, invite some kindred souls to join him in his endeavors (usually by enticing them with coin).
Lone or poorly-guarded travellers, war camps and other (needless to say, vastly inferior) brigandines are plenty in Skyrim, and plenty enough to sate the Red Bramman’s thirst for blood and hunger for coin. The many long-lost barrows and ruins in Skyrim house exotic treasures ripe for plunder. Even the roads hold plenty of encounters worthy of a tale each, and no sailor would pass up such a chance.
Though I haven’t played Skyrim in a while, this Character Building event rekindled my long-forgotten love for the game. I had always been very interested in Red Bramman as a figure, especially because there is a lot of mystery and contradiction in the few texts featuring him, and I hope I've done him justice. Big thanks to CND for setting the event up, and thank you for taking the time to read this.