Back to Basics - A Skyrim Character Building Contest


A new year means a new you, and with that comes new challenges. With that we'd like to introduce our 3rd Skyrim build contest - A contest which will challenge you like never before. So join us one and all as we go ....

Back to Basics - A Skyrim Character Building Contest. 

This contest has been a long time coming, and no doubt many of you have been dying to know its theme. Well, after weeks of secrecy you may wonder no more. We were'nt kidding around when we said this contest would be a challenge. Mods have had an unquestionably significant impact on Skyrim character building, giving rise to some of the most wildly creative builds to ever grace this or any community. But now we want to determine how creative you are without the limitless gameplay options provided by mods.

With that being said there are no limits or restrictions to this contest save for one...

Your build MUST be a Vanilla build. This means no perk, standing stone, or race overhauls. It means no new weapons, no new spells, no new powers, no new anything. The only gameplay tools you're afforded are what came with the game and its DLC from the start. To clarify: We are not asking you to purge your entire load order, but your build's mechanics and functions must be accessible to someone playing Vanilla Skyrim. 

Even without mods Skyrim is absolutely loaded with content and synergies to explore - So much so that I can guarantee not one contestant has come even close to doing everything. For those of you more accustomed to gameplay mods such as Enai Sainon's collection, this contest will surely thrust you into uncharted territory. 

As with the previous contest you may work in teams of no more than 3 people total. Once the competition closes, a panel of judges (see below) will judge each submitted build based on the criteria below and announce the winners! Here are the prizes…



First Place - Gold

  • $60 Dollars in game credits for the system of your choice (Steam, PSN, Xbox)
  • Build video by PCOutcast for your build.
  • Screenshots done for the submitted build or build of the winner’s choice
  • Your build prominently featured on the front page
  • Exclusive access to the judging panel of the next contest (only if not participating in said contest)
  • Input into the theme of the next Skyrim character build contest
  • "Contest Gold" tag for the submitted build
  • Lifetime supply of plain vanilla ice cream. 

 Second Place - Silver

  • $30 Dollars in game credits for the system of your choice (Steam, PSN, Xbox)
  • Your build prominently featured on the front page
  • Screenshots done for either the submitted build or another build of the winners' choice
  • "Contest Silver" tag for the submitted build!

 Third Place - Bronze

  • $10 Dollars in game credits for the system of your choice (Steam, PSN, Xbox)
  • Screenshots done for the submitted build or build of the winner’s choice
  • Your build prominently featured on the front page
  • "Contest Bronze" tag for the submitted build!


- Rules & guidelines -

  1. You may work on your own or in a team of up to 3. (Note however the prize will be split among the team) You can come up with a team name if you like!
  2. Only 1 build may be entered per contestant/team.
  3. Teams may register on this thread and submit a build at any time prior to the cut off date of March 2 2020. March 15th 2020  After this date Registrations will then close and the panel will judge the entries.
  4. Submitted builds must include a "Contest3" tag so we can find them
  5. Winners will be announced on the  12th of March 2020!       30th of March 2020


- The Panel -

  1. John (Teccam)
  2. Elysium
  3. Erinoth

- The Criteria (Please click for expanded view) -


- The Contestants - 

  1. The Long Chapper (not eligible for rewards)
  2. Curse  (not eligible for rewards)
  3. Ponty - The Lamp Descendant
  4. Chris Diokno - The Ace Detective
  5. Pixel
  6. Paladin Gelebor
  7. Jarlivar
  8. JScrollz & DovahBuilds(YT)
  9. Ramses - ACHILLUS
  10. Jiru44 - The Orc Blacksmith
  11. DeltaFox
  12. darksabrz
  13. TorynCross
  14. Maezell
  15. nystee - The Twisted Jester
  16. Shadon - The Lurcher
  17. Kodaav 
  18. DiabloSaint
  19. Skooma Smuggler
  20. Histcarp - The Wayfaring Wanderer
  21. asgard - The Bowdancer
  22. legendary dragon slayer
  23. olegbikkja - The Glenmoril Coven's Initiate
  24. Telby - Blacklion
  25. Alchemist - The Inventor
  26. Monk of the Hist - The Dark Defender
  27. DeadbeatzZz - The Wyrm
  28. ye4torn - The Ashpit Dragon
  29. Shainos - The Warlock of Bargains


- Resources - 

Below are a few helpful suggestions to get you started should you decide to enter. 

Good luck and may the best character build win!


You need to be a member of THE SKY FORGE to add comments!



  • 3716282875?profile=RESIZE_710x


    The Lurcher


    Gameplay -


    Teccam: 6/10 - The idea of simulating a spriggan in combat is certainly unique. But I’m struggling to fully buy into it. You can recreate their effects reasonably accurately, but there’s a grace and an aesthetic to their movement and attack forms that I just can’t see a player being able to do justice too, especially covered in furs. The bulk of the actual gameplay just feels a bit simple and forced to me. Though I don’t think anyone could do much better with vanilla Skyrim’s mechanics, and I think the gameplay is clearly the backseat in this build, so I don’t fault you too much.


    Ely: 8/10. Aside from the pain of swapping from spells to fists/claws, I think the combat jives together very easily. I like the pacifist early game and the devolution into the Lurcher. The low level cap I think really emphasises how simple the build is, which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing, but it could’ve been expanded to take it over the top. I would’ve liked to see more magic, as the really brutal claws aren’t very “nature spirit”, imo.


    Erinoth: (9/10) - I love the tactics you use here, as they give the build a truly unique tone. I especially admire the shift after the ritual is performed, as it does not require any additional perks. I think the incredibly low level cap of 20 makes this an ideal build for those looking for a quick playthrough that provides a new perspective on Skyrim’s core mechanics. You mention subduing wild animals with the calm spell, but I would have liked to see you mention the “Voice of the Sky” buff, which makes animals non-hostile towards you for 24 hours of real life time. This can be acquired by reading all of the tablets on the 7,000 steps.


    Avg = 7.666


    Presentation - 


    Teccam: 8/10 - Solid all-around. The level 20 perk spread could definitely be improved in terms of the design/aesthetic. It also sort of feels like there’s supposed to be a second perk spread, but with the combat being rather loose and free in the 2nd phase of the build, I guess that’s not the case. Headers could have been a bit more interesting. Well written. Well spaced and thematically appropriate images.


    Ely: 7/10. Great use of images and good formatting, but that perkspread is a little rough on the eyes with the different colours. It’s very well written and I can’t see any glaring errors.


    Erinoth: (7/10) - Basic, but well executed. The only thing holding you back here are those “extra steps” which could really make a build shine, such as using a different, more decorative typeface for your section headers. Everything was well organised and flowed excellently.


    Avg = 7.3333


    Lore - 

    Teccam: 10/10 - Cool idea to explore a niche creature and magic form that is only lightly touched upon in Skyrim (and not much more deeply in other TES games). There’s enough lore on spriggans and lurchers to give you a foundation, and you ran with it. I love using the in-game Sleeping Tree as a lore/narrative tether, and the tie-in with the Forsworn.


    Ely: 9/10. I didn’t expect to like a spriggan build so much. It’s extremely grounded in lore, but branches out (hehe) with the idea of the taproot. Very cool idea and entirely believable.  


    Erinoth: (9/10) - I have to admit, I have a soft spot for builds that “tap” into the nature themes of the game, since they are seldom explored in-game through quests and the like. I love the interpretation of consuming a taproot to absorb the essence of a spriggan, and see nothing wrong with the lore you produce to compensate. Tying the build to the Forsworn was an excellent choice, as they use a form of corrupted nature magic. All I can not comment on here is the lack of a precise example to base this ritual off.


    Avg = 9.333


    Roleplay - 


    Teccam: 10/10 - Clearly drives the build from start to finish. I like the limitations you’ve imposed technically in order to cater to the roleplay (stuff like not using a blessing, and sticking with the most RP-appropriate standing stone). The idea of actually showing the turning point from scholar to lurcher, delineated by hours of gameplay on either side, is clever and well executed.


    Ely: 9/10. The RP is really masterful. The limitations and transformation work through every aspect of the character, who is even given a fleshed out backstory and a sort of heart to him. Great character. The custom made “quests” and journey easily makes up for not being able to do any standard quests or go into cities.


    Erinoth: (10/10) - Obviously, this portion took precedence in your build, and it shows. Limiting what the Lurcher can do after the ritual, such as not being able to enter cities (which ties into bounties masterfully) was an exquisite choice. You explore many of the possible routes a character possessed by a nature spirit might take, and I commend you for that. It allows one to enter the right headspace for playing the character. One possible addition to the list of quests (albit it would have to be done before the transformation) is obtaining nettlebane so it could not be used against the spriggans. It could also be an item required for your ritual.


    Avg = 9.666


    Score = 33.999


    Likes = 10+


    Total Score: 43.999


    • First off, a gigantic thank you to all of the judges for managing to find the time for such amazing commentary during these crazy times. Your work is hugely appreciated. Also a big congratulations to everyone who submitted a build for this contest, they're all pretty darn amazing!

      I cannot stress how ecstatic I am to see how much I've improved since last contest. My goal going in was to score better in the lore category than last time, so my surprise was something else when I saw how much I had improved overall. I cannot overstate how much value I place in the feedback from these last two contests, and I hope to incorporate the criticisms (especially the suggestions about presentation) into all of my future builds. A massive thank you once again to our amazing judges, and I can't wait for the next contest!




    The Lamp Descendant


    Gameplay -


    Teccam: 9/10 - Hitting the reader right off the bat with eight total skills, and all three crafting skills, is quite bold. I love the built-in progression to help keep the playthrough fresh. This approach helps players like me, who normally don’t go too hard into roleplay, to keep that in mind as it reflects back into the build’s gameplay. Integrating a few new elements every 20 levels or so is also a great way to keep those eight skills from being a constant overwhelming force in managing the build for anyone who tries to play it. Not anything here that is so new or special individually, but it’s all executed very well -- the followers, the progression, the skill set and gear complementing the theme, and of course, my favorite player home. I like the simple but relatively underappreciated elements like the use of the Dawnguard Rune Axe to break wards, or the shock disintegration to eliminate corpses for nercomancers to raise. I’m not sure Soul Squeezer is really worth it from a presentational angle, but I get why you went for it. My mind isn’t totally blown, but this is a character I’d like to play for sure. Well done.


    Ely: 9/10. Spellswords are easily my favourite class and I feel you hit all the high notes of fun things to do with them. There’s a lot of synergy of witch-hunting between the Rune Axe and Bound Sword, and the way that gameplay evolves through the different chapters ensures that it won’t become boring. I don’t find 8 skills to be too many and they all compliment and support each other.


    Erinoth: (9/10) - Exceptional in every sense of the word. This is an incredibly memorable spellsword, and the way you split skills into chapters makes developing the character more natural. Aiming for smaller increments of improvement makes the character more manageable. My singular complaint is the use of all three crafting skills. While this was woven well into the build, I find the justification for heavily perking alchemy only in the last leg of the Descendant’s journey a difficult decision to justify, especially considering that you claim earlier that the character is no master with potions. I would have aimed for alchemist ⅗.


    Avg = 9


    Presentation - 


    Teccam: 10/10 - I’m torn here. This is very nicely presented, and I absolutely love the video especially. Great screenshots, nice header text, well written, well spaced, consistent aesthetic and style. Really nothing for me to fault, and probably better than any of my own, which I’m proud of. At the same time, I believe I’ve only given two 10/10s through three contests to this point, and those were both transcendent. Your approach is a fair bit different from those two, but I think ultimately well earned. Really lovely.


    Ely: 10/10. I’m really struggling to not give you the full ten. The little Lamp icon is great and all the custom screenshots are super sharp and perfectly taken. The little touches of background stories are so, so good. They add not only to the presentation but to the whole feel of the character and faction.


    Erinoth: (10/10) - Again, Remarkable. As I stated previously, breaking the build into chapters is a clever choice and assists with your overall presentation. I like the sigil you chose to sprinkle throughout the build. Screenshots were spectacular, there is a clear hierarchy of elements, and it all comes together in a well formulated presentation.


    Avg = 10


    Lore - 

    Teccam: 10/10 - Cool theme. I love how this adds a whole different element to the collapse of the Mages Guild and the precarious state of the remaining magical groups in Skyrim. Next stop for this character after she’s completed her journey in Skyrim - taking on the Synod in Cyrodiil? :p


    Ely: 10/10. One of my favourite things about builds is that they allow for headcanoning lore in a reasonable way. The Order of the Lamp was a bland faction from Daggerfall, but you’ve managed to rejuvenate it and provide a history in between the games in a way that I completely believe. 


    Erinoth: (10/10) - You provide clear justification on why the character journeys to skyrim by weaving present elements directly into her story. Well done. The character builds off lore, rather than establishing its own. I have no additional critique.


    Avg = 10


    Roleplay - 


    Teccam: 9.5/10 - I have to agree with Erinoth about the last chapter. I thought the build had such a clear and natural progression through three chapters, that the final one felt rather unnecessary, raised a few questions, and didn’t really contribute to the character development for me. I like the fall from grace / thirst for power turns into downfall angle in a vacuum, but for this character, it didn’t really feel right. Still, there’s a very robust character laid out in complex detail, with great development that nicely informs the gameplay.


    Ely: 9/10. I love corrupted noble characters (especially witchhunters) and was vaguely hoping it would go this way. I was really psyched with the last chapter, and then I read Erinoth’s questions and it sorta stole my thunder. That’s a fair enough criticism, but that chapter’s optional and the rest of the build (especially the custom “quest” about building up the Order) is great. Skyrim plays really naturally with witchhunter characters and you utilized Hearthfire really well too.


    Erinoth: (9/10) - Everything about the Descendant’s roleplay is masterfully crafted and justified… up until the final chapter. While I fully understand that is an optional path, the character needs to experience a “breaking point” of sorts to turn to such dark powers. She suddenly starts working with the very power she despised. What does this mean for the order? What will her path lead her to become? What happens to the rest of the order? Do they see their leader as a monster or accept her decision? This final chapter does more harm than good, as it makes for a character with convoluted motives.


    Avg = 9.166


    Score = 38.166


    Likes = 10+


    Total Score: 48.166

    Contest Build: The Lamp Descendant
    While it might have been over 5(!) years since I posted my last build, the announcement of the Back to Basics contest inspired me to dust off one of…
    • Thanks for the feedback guys, appreciate it! I was really hoping to make some improvements on the roleplay, presentation and lore side as those have rarely been a focus for me in my past builds, not to mention I felt some of my general building sensibilities were a bit out of date, so I'm super happy to see that my efforts have paid off!

      Just to address some of the points you guys raised, the snippet about not being a master alchemist was more representative of that early point of the characters' journey, so I've edited that to be a bit more clear. You've definitely raised some good points about the optional darkmode chapter. In the wise words of George Lucas, "I may have gone too far in a few places". I think I had a bunch of ideas for new synergies and aesthetics and let myself get carried away a little bit! Nonetheless, I'm hoping to explore this side of the character a bit more with some story corner posts where I'm not so restricted by what the game will actually let me do.

      As I mentioned in Discord congrats to everyone who posted an entry and especially to the other winners! Lots of great stuff here especially from some first timers. Looking forward to seeing the entries in the next contest. And of course thank you to the judges and hosts for your detailed critiques and putting up the prizes!

  • Congratulation to Ponty and the others winnners i will take note from ypur advices and work hard to make better builds in the futur

  • Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who made this contest possible. And now, I believe I will make my first ever non-archer character, and it shall be the Lamp Ascendant.

  • Congrats to the winners and all participants of this contest! It is so awesome to see so much enthusiasm for this incredible game even after all this time and the creativity is astounding.

    pOnTy SiGn muh YEARBOOK

  • GG. Well done, all.

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