Character Build: The Lord in Yellow

Before we start, this is the first time I am doing something like this.  I’ve witnessed this community grow, and finally decided it was my time to give back after getting inspiration for so long.  Also, if anyone can help me with a perk spread and images, as well as any advice, I would be highly grateful. Now with that out of the way, allow me to introduce:

The Lord in Yellow


“I…I’m free?”

The young man sat before a group of hunters around a campfire, having staggered into their camp with multiple wounds scored across his body.  Now, with his wounds bandaged, his hunger alleviated, and his bones warmed by fire, he finally croaked those words.  The other hunters were slightly startled since it was the first time he spoke since they found him.  The leader of the group replied quicker than the others. “What happened? Who did this to you?”

 “I can’t tell you, or it will take you too.”

 Now, the hunters’ interests were piqued.  How could a creature harrow a man this greatly? Or was the better question not how, but why?  At this point, another in the group spoke up.  Shy but supportive, she assured him. “It’s not here.  It can’t hurt you.  We could help.”  For the first time, the figure looked up at the hunters.  The eyes that faced them were only filled with apathy.

 “I see you are filled with curiosity.  Then you are already lost.  I guess there is no harm in telling my story to those condemned to the twin black suns.  Who knows, you may end up in a better position than I.”

 The others looked at each other with concern, as the strange man better situated himself on the log he sat on. Once comfortable, he spoke

“I was once a simple bandit. Didn't have enough money to support my family, and some friends that worked for a bandit chief put in a good word.  The cut got food on the table, so I stayed.  For two years, I worked with them, scavenging caravans and looting the occasional merchant.  Then….it arrived.  Dressed head to toe in robes of yellow, we thought it was a lonely mage, and an easy target. That was our first and only mistake.  The next thing I knew, I was alone.  Corpses and piles of ashes surrounded me and the hooded figure, who stood exactly as I last remembered, unscathed and turned at me.  I tried to run, but my fears ensnared me, having taken physical form.  And as I saw the sign presented to me I witnessed…” 

He trails off for the first time, seeming to be lost in thought.  At this point, the three hunters who sat around the fire with him locked eyes and agreed silently; this man had gone insane. Yet as they listened, they wanted, no, needed to know what happened next.  The crackle of flame was the only sound for some minutes until the only hunter who had not spoken yet finally breaks the tense silence. “What did you see?”  The figure thinks for only a moment longer.

 “I witnessed a stage.  A great stage that goes by the name of Nirn.  I saw every act, every character and their performance.  I saw my place within, and I saw what this entity truly was.  An avatar for the director of this theatrical act.  A great Lord who deemed it my time to finally play my part.  So I followed the manifestation, protecting the leading role so the show can carry on.  It lasted for some time,  until my wits returned to me one night.  I ran, hoping to never look back.  Then I found you, so safe with your ignorance.  Maybe they’ll kill you, maybe they’ll save you, or perhaps you may serve them.  But there is no escape.”

 He stops once again, but this time for only a moment.  He looks at each member of the stunned group, one by one, and speaks once more “Yes, I see each one of you providing some benefit to The Unnamed One, The Feaster, The Great King.  I shall bestow my knowledge of the one who takes the great Lord's name, so that you will better witness and serve them.  So let's begin.”


Hello, everyone!  This build came from a desire to play an Illusionist mage.  While there are many builds that utilize Illusion perks into their character, they are primarily used for two purposes.  The first is being paired with Sneak to create a Nightblade.  The other is used as a support build.  My goal with this build was to do neither, and instead use it as a form of offense.  The end result is a mage that feels like a true mage, using a multitude of spells in many combos to obliterate their foes without touching Conjuration or Destruction, nor feeling stale.  Every battle is a test of positioning and knowing what spell to use at what point. If you want an authentic mage build that is unusually potent and does not rely on gimmicks to be useful, then this is the build for you.


Required Mods:





Optional Mods:

-Smart Cast:  This is suggested simply for the Combo spells feature, allowing you to cast multiple spells with a single cast, using the same amount of magicka as if you casted each spell individually.  This build thrives with chaining multiple spells together, and mods like this would help the build by not making it an absolute quick menu nightmare.

-Difficulty/Enemy Mods: I usually crank the Skyrim difficulty up for builds like this.  Unfortunately that doesn't quite work with this build.   

See, for those who don't know, the base difficulty of Skyrim only alters how much set damage you deal and how much damage the enemy deals by multipliers.   For example, with Adept difficulty, enemies deal 1x damage to you and you deal 1x damage to them, while Legendary difficulty makes all enemy attacks deal 3x damage, while you only deal .25x damage against them, or a quarter of the damage.   While that works in most cases, this build excels in dealing damage by percentages of health and lowering the health bar by set amounts, in lieu of direct damage.   While a higher difficulty will make you die more often from attacks, most of the game is going to feel the same no matter the difficulty present.

Most difficulty mods in my experience boost enemies’ health, or add to the enemy count.  While boosting the health wouldn’t be as effective for the reasons described above, adding to the monster count could have some benefit.  The downside is, with certain spells like Shared Trauma and Empathetic Agony, that mitigates the multiple enemy benefit.  That’s why I hesitate to recommend mods like these.

Tl;dr: The mileage of these mods vary. The enemies will be as easy on any difficulty, but you will be prone to getting one-shotted by a stray arrow or ice spike much more often as difficulty increases or with difficulty mods.

Race: High Elf: The magicka boost is essential, and having a regenerate magic quick button is very useful pre late game. Also, the yellow skin works aesthetically with the theme of this character.


Standing Stone: Mage->Apprentice: The Mage Stone is to level us up faster in our primary skills.  Once high enough, however, we can switch to the Apprentice Stone.  Setting up combos can take time and we are not using enchanting to drop our spell costs ridiculously low, so having a pool of magicka that can be restored quickly is key.  The Apprentice Stone gives good regeneration, and not getting hit by spells by being in the backline nullifies the disadvantage.  Always be wary, however, as only one spell needs to hit you to ruin your day.


Stats: 1M/1H/0S until 200 health, then all magicka.  There are multiple spells that we utilize each combat, and a decent chunk of them are quite costly, so having a good chunk of magicka is essential.  200 health, Tree Rings, and armor spells will mitigate the risk of getting one tapped, as well as give power to Finger of Death, one of our main sources of power. Stamina is absolutely irrelevant for this build, unless you run away frequently.


Major Skills:

-Illusion: Illusion is used for a variety of purposes, and not one of them is for sneaking around.  These are used to lower health for some of your restoration spells, to link other’s health bars so that they may be slain earlier, to distract your foes, and as a panic button when enemies get too close, as well as much more.  Therefore, maximizing the effectiveness of these spells is highly important.  Master of the Mind allows plenty of your illusions to affect all creatures, except dragons, but we will get to that.  Getting Mind Thrall creates a permanent, essential distraction that can be switched out at any time.

Perks: Illusion Mastery, Illusion Dual Casting, Animage(3/3), Master of the Mind(2/2), Neverworld, Terror, Iron Maiden, Splendor, Mind Thrall

-Restoration: Your main finisher with spells like Finger of Death, Dust to Dust, and Circle of Death.  It also keeps you alive after certain spells or getting hit.  Inspire works wonders with a build focused on regenerating magicka quickly, while working your way up to Eternal Flame gives your healing spells more power and healing over time, which is a potent boon.

Perks: Restoration Mastery, Restoration Dual Casting, Mercy, Respite, Eternal Flame, Inspire(2/2)


Minor Skills:

-Alteration: This is mainly used for mage armor, so you may keep the casting bonuses of your robes while having just enough armor to squeak by.  This will by no means make you into a tank, but it may save you from a stray attack or two.  Mage Armor and Ocato’s Preparation work hand in hand, giving a decent armor bonus while auto casting your most powerful armor spell at the beginning of combat saves time and magicka, allowing you to get in the fight at a moments notice.

Perks: Alteration Mastery, Alteration Dual Casting, Mage Armor(3/3), Ocato’s Preparation, Stability, Sorcerer’s Robes


-Speechcraft: We need a lot of spell tomes for this build, and also wish to utilize shouts when we can.  The speechcraft tree helps with providing affordable prices, while having our shouts be more effective and ready in combat.

Perks: Speech Mastery, Tonal Harmony, Words of Power(2/2), Dovahzulaan



-Novice Robes of Illusion

-Novice Hood

-Any items that increase magicka or magicka regeneration



-Adept Robes of Illusion

-Adept Hood

-Cultist Boots

-Ring of Erudite

-Necklace of Peerless Magicka

While we could get more powerful clothes, these fit aesthetically with the yellow theme. The Ring of Erudite is very powerful, allowing a higher magicka pool while having a special magicka regeneration increase that stacks with other sources of magicka regeneration. Finally, the necklace allows a bigger pool of magicka, which is always nice.


“I asked the Lord for their story only once.  It seemed odd that one Altmer could hold so much power, and I simply wanted to know why. The response I received was very odd indeed. They found a strange book in an abandoned library.  They read the text expecting great power.  If only they knew.  For days afterward, they would be plagued with nightmares and hallucinations of realms beyond.  They tried to fight, they tried to free themselves.  But when the Lord enters your mind, you cannot escape.  You can submit, or cease.  So they became the Lord's greatest servant, and went to Skyrim to unlock their true power, and finish the final act.  You think Akatosh bestowed the gift of Dragonborn to them? HA! Madness, I say, Madness!”


Roleplaying Tips:

-Never wear an amulet of the Divines, or get their blessings.  This does include gifts/blessings from quests like The Book of Love.  The only exceptions are questline items, like the Staff of Magnus and Auriel’s Bow, but only use them as long as necessary.  You have your Lord, all others are false.

-For the most part, you know you have to play the hero, as you must play the star role and heroes come out victorious.  However, as you gain more people on your side, your influence grows.  And it is much easier to enslave a province when the province adores you and would do anything you ask.

 -Finally, create a ritual that your character is striving to achieve, and end the game when it has done so, representing bringing the Great One into this world in full power.  If you need inspiration, here is my ritual I conducted. The following requirements are:

-Gather all of the black books.

-Get a Housecarl from every major province (Markarth, Riften, Solitude, Windheml, and Whiterun), as well as getting the follower Ralis Sedarys. If the Housecarl is immortal, another powerful follower from that province will suffice

 -Find Kahvoskan’s Fang to be used as a Ritual dagger.

-All three words of the Oblivion shout and Soul Tear

-The Paralyze spell

-Auriel's Bow and Bloodcursed Arrows

-Make sure as to have slain at least Alduin, Ancanno, Harkon, and Miraak.  You don’t want anything to destroy the world before you do!


The ritual itself was simple; Bring each Housecarl one by one to a designated spot. Paralyze, then kill the using Soul Tear and capture their soul.. All five of their soul gems should be placed in a circle once done. Bring Ralis to the center of the circle, then proceed to paralyze and kill Ralis with Kahvoskan’s Fang.  Finally, shoot a Bloodcursed arrow at the sun and finish the ritual by using all three words of Oblivion.


This build thrives on having as many spells as you can fit onto your spell list, so gather as many spellbooks as you can. The ones below, however, are what I would deem necessary for the authentic experience. 


-Mage Armor(Most likely Ebonyflesh, but Dragonhide can work in a pinch if you have Ocato’s Preparation)

-Ocato’s Recital


-Ash Shell

-Sotha’s Maelstrom

Ocato’s Recital Spells

-Tree Rings 


-Sotha’s Maelstrom


-Shared Trauma

-Greater Simulacrum

-Shadow Legion


-Illusionary Flames/Pyre



-Harrowing Dirge

-Wizard Rend

-Magicka Void

-Scream of Pain

-Purge Magicka



-Lamb of Mara

-Welling Blood

-Fast Healing

-Finger of Death

-Blood Boil

-Circle of Death

-Tree Rings

-Natures Balance


-Sealed Resolve


-Dust To Dust

-Channel Energies



-Become Ethereal


-Wail of the Banshee


-Bend Will

-Phantom Decoy


-Essence Rip


-Splinter Twins

-Slow Time

-Speak Unto the Stars


-Marked for Death

Special Moves

This build’s main strength is the amount of spell combinations that can be used, and their versatility.  While this list will cover the basic special moves, experimentation and spell combinations are key.


Cult of the Unfathomable Sign

Shadow Legion + Frenzy

The Lord takes their enemies' minds and splinters them, creating a physical manifestation to fight them and inducing a rage so fierce they slay themselves.  Typical mortals.


This is the best way to start a fight, and it’s a good way to get out of trouble if enemies are approaching. Simply cast Shadow Legion, and as they group up cast Frenzy.  Afterwards, you can set up your combos on the group, or start taking out any ranged opponents.

Witness the Scriptures

Welling Blood + Illusionary Pyre + Dirge

The Lord recalls the words from the scriptures and recants them in the Old Tongue, killing the weak minded while wracking stronger enemies in utter agony.


This is your bread and butter for weakening your enemies for other powerful moves.  The damage done can also kill plenty of weaker enemies straight out, reducing your need to use any finishing spells.

Fell the Great Beast

Wizard Rend + Mute + Magicka Void

Draining the magicka from powerful creatures, they conjure a void that consumes the body and soul, slaying them instantly.


This is primarily used against dragons and dragon priests, as magicka void has a longer charge up time and magicka cost then most spells and therefore not as useful for fodder enemies. Simply wait for their magicka to run out and use Magicka Void. You may need to use Dirge on dragons after they land, as the game tries to pull a fast one on you and keep them alive with 0 health.

Curtain Call

Empathetic Agony + Lamb of Mara + Witness the Scriptures + Finger of Death

The Lord channels energy directly from the Patron, destroying the enemy at the expense of their own mortal shell.

This is your main finishing combo against potent living targets. Get them distracted with Cult of the Unfathomable Sign, cast your spells, and strike. If these are done correctly, you can kill any creature with up to 13 times your health instantly.  With our 200 health, that translates to about 2,600 health!  The best part of this combo is that there are so many things you can tack onto it to make it more potent, like Shared Trauma, Harrowing Dirge, a 1st word Curse shout, etc. Get creative.

Twist the Natural Order

Curse Shout(first word) + Lamb of Mara

The Lord tampers at the very fabric of reality, using it to temporarily turn harmful strikes against them into boons, while the attacker suffers the consequences


This is evil to anyone on the other side of it.  How it works is simple.  When a cursed target damages you, they take 3 times, or 300% the damage dealt to you.  Lamb of Mara heals you 35% of the damage dealt to the target, resulting in 105% of the attackers damage healing you instead.  So in short, you don't lose any health from the attack, and instead gain 5% of the health you took instead of taking damage, as long as the attack doesn't outright kill you.  While Curse only lasts 5 seconds, it is a powerful trump card and a possible panic button if set up properly.  Only use this in desperate situations. This can also be used in tangent with Curtain Call.


Gameplay: The only way I can describe fights with the Lord is…unusual.  They turn the enemies fears and doubts against them, then it seems that they slow, placing spells that dont have any visually harmful effect.  Then, in one swift movement and a flick of their hand, their enemies perish, a chain reaction destroying both mind and soul, leaving husks if they are lucky, and ashes if not.  It didn't seem to matter how powerful or how numerous the foe, all became dust in the end.


How you approach combat can be split into four distinct phases that will be discussed below; Diverge, Weaken, Slay, and Recover.

Diverge: This build is a typical mage build, which means you do not want any heat on you.  This means you need diversions, and this build provides plenty.  This phase always takes precedence over other phases, as you can't kill things if you are dead.  Remember that the main goal of the diversions is not just to make sure you don't get swarmed, but also group up enemies so many of your spells can weaken most of the group.  Your Mind Thrall is a useful tool at higher levels that functions as an essential target between you and your foes that cannot turn against you, while providing a vector for some of your spells like Simulacrum if necessary.  I actually recommend you pick up a weaker bandit for your thrall so you can cast your level based illusion spells on your target no problem. The other large divergence strategy is using Simulacrum and Cult of the Unfathomable Sign.  The illusions created by the spell are immortal and unaffected by any effect, but last for a short time, forcing you to think and work quickly.  Other shouts and spells that work with diverging are Splinter Twins, Phantom Decoy, Paralyze, and Ash Shell.


Weaken: Most of the spells you are looking to pick up fall under this category, and each of them bring something new to the table.  Empathetic Agony allows any self harm effects like Blood Boil and Finger of Death  to cause more collateral damage, while Harrowing Dirge and Shared Trauma allows some extra indirect AoE. If you are low on health and have both time and magicka, Scream of Pain can turn even the most difficult battle into a cakewalk.  Your bread and butter, however, is Witness the Scriptures, which should be used directly before the Slay phase to maximize those effects.


Slay: At the height of each combat, you must use the devastating spells that eviscerates any that oppose you.  These are spells like Finger of Death, Wail of the Banshee, Circle of Death, etc.  If creatures are immune to these, then distracting them while using Blood Boil is an option that shouldn’t be overlooked.


Recover: Many spells during the Slay phase will directly target your health, and leave it severely depleted.  This will mostly be solved by a single dual cast of Fast Healing, but there are more ways to regain lost health.  If there are any enemies that are only slightly wounded or unscathed, Nature’s Balance and Essence Rip provides a good reversal effect to weaken your enemies and recover yourself.  This also is a good time to replace any buffs that keep you alive or prove their effectiveness, including but not limited to Ebonyflesh, Tree Rings, Sealed Resolve, and Resurgence. Finally, if you need a get out of jail free card, both Become Ethereal and Rout can give room to breath.


These are how most combats will go. However, there are some enemies that I will put extra tips and suggestions on dealing with them.


Ranged Enemies:  Enemies that focus primarily on range can be quite difficult.  With arrows that seem to do so much damage and an unwillingness to move close to their allies, it can be a hassle.  My advice is after diverging any melee enemies first, focus down any ranged units.  After they are dealt with, take care of everyone else

Mages:  Mages are probably the most difficult challenge you have to face.  Having all of the benefits of ranged units and with you being weak to magic because of the Apprentice Stone, if given the chance they can kill in one spell.  However, Wizard Rend and Mute will drain their magicka pool rapidly, and turn them into fragile melee units quickly.  If they have a ward, prefacing both of the earlier mentioned spells with Purge Magic will dispel the ward and stagger them, leaving them open to be drained.  

Dragons:  Fell the Great Beast is the best way to take down these winged foes.  They will ignore many spells like Simulacrum, Splinter Twins, Paralyze and Rout.  However, taking on a dragon without Magicka Void is possible, but difficult.  Be very defensive, prioritizing ducking behind cover instead of damaging it.  And yes, you can use Finger of Death to turn the hulking beast into a tiny ash pile if necessary.  It is quite entertaining to witness.

Dwemer Automatons:  I am going to break character a bit to say this; these bastards break so many builds it’s not even funny.  Poison, sun, disease, frost, bleed, unperked illusions, even absorption effects have no use on these guys.  They are also tough foes to square against.  This was the main reason I had to incorporate Blood Boil into this build.  During the Slay phase, this is your best bet against these foes.  Also, luckily, Wail of the Banshee works wonders when they're significantly wounded. 

Dragon Priests:  Combining the most difficult parts of Mages and Dragons, they can be a challenge if you do not possess Fell the Great Beast.  I highly suggest avoiding these foes until you can get the spells and effects necessary for that signature move.  If you must fight them without it, then draining their magicka is goal number one.  Unlike dragons or mages, dragon priests cannot do anything without magicka…unless they have a staff.  If you are unfortunate enough to find one that has a staff as well, Purge Magic can be used to great effect to drain charges and finally render them useless.

 Finally, a section for starting the game

When you begin your character, you won't have the tools you need to succeed . So the beginning of the game is going to have you as more of a support role.  Get yourselves a cheap follower, and use the spells you have to keep them and yourself alive. Once you get Greater Simulacrum, you can lose the follower and rely on that until you’ve enhanced your spellbook to the point that the character's gameplay becomes viable.


-Volkihar Vampires:  Being a vampire is already one step above most mortals, and the benefits to Illusion they grant is invaluable.  But the main reasons they will join the Volkihar is for the powerful Ring of Erudite, and the chance to turn a fabled artifact against the god who created it.

-College of Winterhold:  They are holders of arcane knowledge, and that is what the Lord seeks.  So they will find them, join them, and go to Saarthal.  Saarthal is interesting, though, as even the Lord notes the shift in fate that happens when they destroy the wall.  Seeking the power to not be in others hands before he can take a piece, they will go through the questline swiftly, and be quite disappointed when the Psijic Council takes the great source of power.  Nothing the Lord cannot deal with, but it is a minor setback.

-Dragonborn: You will fulfill the role of Dragonborn for two reasons. The first is to prevent the ending of the world by Alduin.  The second is the power it offers is nearly unmatched, and grants him the key needed to fully bring the Great One into this realm and bring a new age.  If that means stealing the power of an Aedra and making it their own, then so be it.


The newcomer finishes their explanation, and looks at the three hunters.  Their wits had fled long ago, and now only a yellow gleam was in their eyes.  They were ready.


“Do you know why I came to this camp?”


The hunter's golden eyes dulled, confused at the question.  The man chuckled, then continued


“I did not stumble here by accident and if I’m being honest, I am still not free from their influence.  How could I?  A mortal cannot be free from a true god!”


The hunter’s leader piped up “So why did you come then, if not to escape?”


The man laughed “I have served as much of a purpose to my Lord as I could.  They no longer need me.  But they still need a servant.  They saw your camp, and they sensed your potential. You’ve hunted many great beasts, and your skills are admirable.  However, our Lord can only take one of you.


So who will it be?”


The hunters look at eachother, their yellow eyes glowing bright. The last thing the night hears is the screams of pain and an echoing silence.


I apologize for anyone waiting for this build to come out since last year. Unfortunately, life happened, and I was not in the right mental space to continue. However, getting back into Skyrim, I knew I had to hammer this out.

Thank you  u/Crmzntears, who inspired a large part of this build with this post here.

 Also thanks, BlueDremora for The Abyssal build, for being in the right place at the right time and granting me additional inspiration to work with.

And thank you guys for reading this.

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  • For images, you could at the least try and look online for images you think fit

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