Hey A while ago, Dragonborn1921 started this brilliant series of minibuilds that focused on one perked skill. His first build in that series was The Pure Alchemist, a build that focused on and perked only the skills found in the Alchemy tree. It was a great little build, creative and inventive, but nothing more was done in the series.
Until Deebs and I had a nice, long PM chat where I expressed interest in continuing the series along with him. He graciously agreed and I decided that for my first venture in the series, I would tackle the rather challening Heavy Armor tree. In the beginning, I only knew I would make a Khajiit, and that he would punch.
But then he became something more. A chat with Paws revealed that my instincts to work with Namira in this build hinted at the concept of a Dro-m'Athra. Then the name Darloc Brae was mentioned, I did some research, and the build then took shape. There are other Dro-m'Athra builds, but again, if you know me by now, I reduce things to their essence. Minimization. Now imagine... Imagine a khajiit warlord of the first era, popular among his fellow rulers. Hungry for power. Imagine that that hunger for power "bends" him in such a way that he embraces the the third moon, the shadow moon, becomming a shade of his former self. Then imagine that hunger for power turning into a thirst, a thirst for blood, turning the Shade of Darloc Brae into...
"The moons shine brightly at night. But where the bright pale light shines, the darkness is that much deeper. As the people, as the Khajiit live in the light, so things live in the dark. These are the Dro-m'Athra." -Ezreba of the Second Era
The land, the land, from the Strid to the Larsius, and all in between was mine. My golden cats laid conquest, with sharpness of tooth, fierceness of claw, taken brazenly from the rivals who were not given form by Azurah. Their bows nothing to us. Their forms torn apart with our bare paws rampaging. But it was not enough for me.
I was Anequina. I was its Beast. I was the deserts, the sands, the water, the life. I was Dune, Rimmen and all in between. The golden beast with golden claw and golden mask, respected of Emperors and war chiefs throughout all of Dawn's Beauty. But I wanted more, hungered for more. What the sun and my people could not give me, moon and shadow did, and I embraced the Great Darkness, the shadow of Lorkhaj in a pact for power. My gold became black, my light became dark.
And my straight became bent. I waited, sleeping under Namira's great shadow, a shade of myself, under the third moon for eternity, of eternity. I slept until ancient prophesy blew in the desert's northern winds, raped my dreams with the metallic smell of blood and the promise of darkness eternal. Visions of hidden feast, rusty mace, clan of frozen wastes. A new army of darkness from the storm cloak of the winter bear. A new dawn for conquest, a black dawn.
All for me.
I then emerged from Namira's great shadow to find this promise. Took the body form again, of that of the golden beast. Donned my mask, hid my true nature. The phophesy's promise came from the Northern winds, so North, I, Darloc Brae, the golden cat, go. Desert turned to jungle turned to mountains of ice, but I pressed on, traveling at night, only at night, the Great Darkness guiding me to the promise.
All for me...
Mods: Because of stability reasons, I tend to build using SSE, so I will offer mod suggestions based on that. Morrowloot Ultimate or Simplified. These mods alter the leveled lists to make end game items rare and actually plants throughout the world artifacts from Morrowind, Oblivion, and other special weapons and armor. I also did not want a typical Khajiit look for Darloc Brae, so I used several mods to alter his appearance including Beast Races Reshaper (adds digitigrade feet and alters the Khajiit to have more powerful arms chest as befits a race who utilizes claw attacks), Warpaints and Skins Plus, and Khajiit Eyes Extended (I opted for the amber eyes, but with an interesting glow effect to simulate is unnirnly, Dro-m'athra appearence). Moonpath to Elsweyr was installed for roleplaying as was Castle Volkihar Rebuilt. The Beast of Anequina's home may have originally been Elsweyr, but his new Kingdom is Skyrim. Finally, Cloaks of Skyrim adds numerous enchanted cloaks to the game, which are rather interesting and what I used will be discussed in his gear choices.
Race: Khajiit, then Khajiit vampire once Darloc Brae joins the Volkihar.
Stats: All into health until you acquire the Ring of the Beast, then the rest into Stamina. I ended up with roughly 363 health (the temporary after-effects of the Ring of Namira, and the Ring of the Beast), 160 stamina, and 150 magicka by level 18.
Stone: The Steed Stone until the Conditioning perk is taken, then Atronach for the extra survivalbility as a starved vampire and the boost to magicka. Though The Ritual is also a fine choice. I found myself going between the two, especially for the largescale battles, literally turning the Civil war battles into Armies of Darkness. Because, the build never really makes use of the Matching set, you can opt for the Aetherial crown, if you wanted both the benefits of the Atronach and Ritual stone.
Blessings: Talos. The ties to Lorkhaj, Namira, and that old corpse moon were too much to ignore. Corrupted, this Bent Cat goes to Lorkhaj for blessing.
Strengths: Unperked vampire lord, Stage IV Vampirism, Disease Resistance, Poison Resistance, Summon Durnehviir, Embrace the Shadows, Vampire Seduction, Vampire's Servant, Blood of the Ancients, Champion of Namira, 80% Frost Resist.
Weaknesses: Stage IV Vampirism: 50% weakness to fire, -100% all stat regeneration when out in the sun, -60 points to all stats when out in the sun. And with magicka not being leveled up and stamina only in later levels, this becomes dangerous when Darloc Brae ventures out the Shadow of the Great Darkness.
Shouts: Become Ethereal, Disarm, Whirlwind Sprint, Marked for Death, Drain Vitality, Frost Breath, Soul Tear. I didn't touch the Dragonborn dlc, but Dragon Aspect is certainly an interesting option if you want to continue Darloc Brae's adventures. Because of the low endgame level, only about 1-2 words for each shout were needed, and level-capped shouts like Dismay and Disarm were used with gusto. Usually these shouts become obsolete for a typical endgame scenario.
Spells: Vampiric drain, boosted by Blood of the Ancients.
Vanilla Option - Steel plate everything except the Helm of Yngol. You will get the best punching power that you can get (from level 1, if you take on a Nord woman's challenge at the Bannered Mare and embrace Darloc Brae's ruthlessness from the moment you leave Helgen). The drawback is that you will lose the effectiveness of the Matching Set Perk, unless you change to a steelplate helmet. You then both lose the aesthetic that the Helm of Yngol gives and its rare enchantment.
DLC Option - Azhidal's Armor. This is a tall, tall order for a Level 18 build as Azhidal is no joke, being a level 60 dragon priest that does primarily fire damage and The Beast of Anequina plays as a Stage IV Vampire. This, however will give you the Matching Set perk as Helm of Yngol does indeed match up with Azhidal's armor. The retribution perk for the cuirass is a great fit for Darloc Brae, though the other enchantments, not so much. I did not opt for this as I had already played through Unearthed for The Outsider.
Modded Option - Morrowloot hand places into the game pieces of Daedric gear in the following locations. Bthardamz, Black Reach, The Chill (Winterhold Prison), and the shrine of Mehrunes Dagon. This will give you a matching set of Daedric gear, fitting for a servant of two Daedric lords, and the highest amount of punching power Darloc Brae can get.
In the end, I opted for a combination of gear and did not benefit from the Matching Set perk. I used Daedric gauntlets and the Cuirass, Iron boots of Dwindling Flames (40% Fire resistance), and the Helm of Yngol (30% Frost Resistance). Without crafting, the AR will be around 405 for the above gear. Not at the armor cap, but the armor cap is really not needed for this build.
Ring of Namira: +50 to Stamina when equipped and when you feed off a corpse you get an additional 50 points of health and faster health regeneration for five minutes. Useful for a Vampire to regenerate health and I used this in conjuction with the next ring.
Ring of the Beast: Acquired through the Rings of Blood Magic quest given by the Volkihar Clan, this ring gives a powerful +100 to health and a +20 to claw damage, whether you are in Vampire Lord form or not. As you will read in the gameplay section, this was the turning point in The Beast of Anequina's gameplay.
Amulet of Talos: Rather than opt for fire resistance, I opted for a boost to shout cooldown by another 20%.
Mantle of the Greybeards: From the mod cloaks of Skyrim, it gives another 20% to shout cooldown, giving me 60% total without glitches. I will say that 40% from the Blessing and the Amulet is plenty, but I rather enjoyed using shouts in this build and it allowed me to opt out of the need to acquire more resistance to fire.
Weapons: Auri-El's bow, but not for combat. Explained in further detail later.
Other equipment: Staff of the Revenant, which gives Darloc Brae the ability to reanimate a dead body to fight for him. One can be found near the dragon mound on the way to Morthal, along the snowy path to the right, just after you pass Fort Snowhawk. I thought it added a nice touch to call upon the decaying dead to fight for a servant of Namira.
Skills: Heavy Armor and only Heavy armor, which will take you to level 18 when it reaches 100. I had some extra skill point increases because of quest requirements. Two skill point increases in speech, one in One-handed due to the nature of House of Horrors, and a few in Enchanting to recharge staves. I had about 5 perk points left over after perking all of Heavy Armor. The only perk that I considered wasted was Matching set, but Reflect Blows is too much fun to leave alone.
"Among the night's children, a dread lord will rise. In an age of strife, when dragons return to the realm of men, darkness will mingle with light and the night and day will be as one."
- Dexion Evicus, thrall of Darloc Brae, the Beast of Anequina.
Followers: Eola in early levels and then Serana once she becomes available. I had My Home is Your Home installed, so I left Eola in Castle Volkihar, as it is appropriate that Darloc Brae's minion would be near the Champion of Namira. Both are solid mages, both give Darloc Brae flexibility in combat, both are devoted to darkness. Eola uses a bow, which gives Brae the necessary ranged attack he will lack at early levels. Serana's spells are more powerful and she fits better with Darloc Brae's roleplaying.
Gameplay: A potent combination of punching, feasting upon the dead, shouts, reanimating, and unperked Vampire Lord when things became tough, which really didn't happen much. Once vampirism is acquired, the toughest enemies are fire-based mages and dragons. The strategy for most encounters is simple; use - Darloc Brae doesn't rely, he uses - your follower to provide ranged attacks, either with archery or spells, while you use a shout (Marked for Death, Drain Vitality, and Soul Tear in endgame) to weaken the opponent so you can then get up close to unleash your claws. Become Ethereal was used effectively to close the distance between Darloc Brae and an enemy. Disarm was another favorite choice when I simply wanted the match up to be unfair. A Dawnguard with a crossbow is a formidable opponent, but without his crossbow? He is no match for the fury of the Beast's claws.
Speaking of claws... For a typical unarmed build that we find, there is often a heavy investment in Enchanting, to use the Gloves of the Pugilist's special enchantment and the Restoration loop to acquire high levels of damage in addition to Fists of Steel, the Ring of the Beast, and other tools. This, however, involves a substantial measure of grinding, something I wanted to avoid with The Beast of Anequina, since he is purely a one-skill build and I personally don't like spending half my gameplay gathering supplies and bent over an enchanting table. This is not Darloc Brae. He is a conqueror, a dark warrior of Namira and later Molag Bal, bent on subjugating Skyrim under a shroud of Tyranny and Sun's end. Due to the low level cap and moderate difficulty level, this is possible, with some dramatic results. His maximum unarmed damage was the following...
10 points base claw damage + 12 point Khajiit passive + 18 points for Fists of Steel (wearing Daedric gauntlets) + 20 points from the Ring of the Beast =
60 points total for each strike. In addition, Potions of True shot also boost unarmed damage for some reason, which is great. The potion boosts it by 20% and the draught boosts it by 30%, giving him 72 and 78 points per strike for a limited amount of time. I roleplayed it as boosts of power, blessings granted by Namira through his Dro-m'Athra status. Blessings granted by Molag Bal for demonstrating his superiority to the Volkihar Clan. With such power and the aid of his minions, there was little that stood in his way. Hardest to overcome were any fire-based enemy due to his weakness to the element, however, with the high AR and damage output relative to his low level, even these enemies could not stand up to his fury.
Quests and Roleplay: I saw his time in Skyrim as a progression towards a goal. His is Darloc Brae from the moment he escapes Helgen and kills Uthgerd the Unbroken, uncompromising in his hunger for power and domination and his quest choices and roleplay reflect this, and his binding to both Namira and Molag Bal. Traveling only by night, foregoing mortal food, searching madly for the Promise.
House of Horrors: I used this quest, as a way for Darloc Brae to be first exposed to Molag Bal. This would peek his curiosity, as a creature who also likes domination, to pursue the power further when Dawnguard came knocking. I then gave the mace to Serana.
Mainquest: In his quest for power, he unleashes his inner Dragonborn and the implications of a Dragonborn's association with Lorkhan, which is significant in the idea of serving and becoming part of this "third moon", becoming the Shadow of Darkness, and the Namira/Lorkhaj connection. However, you only need to pursue it as far as the Greybeards. If you feel like playing further, you can, but wait until after you complete the Civil War. Once Darloc Brae has become master of his new snow-covered domain, he will want to oust all of his remaining competition: including Alduin and Miraak. He was bloodthirsty in his quest for dragon souls, often seeking out dragons in their lairs to increase his power.
Dawnguard: This is The Beast of Anequina's most important questline and crucial to him achieving his goal. I've done Dawnguard countless times and usually I side with the Dawnguard. This time, I fully embraced siding with the Volkihar without remorse, as I thought it would extremely interesting for Darloc Brae, known as a golden cat, to fully embrace this darkness, this shadow world, to the point of recreating this "Great Darkness" in Tamriel through the use of the Blood-curse Arrows. Goals are the Ring of the Beast, Auri-El's Bow and ousting out Lord Harkon to take your place as the Lord of the Volkihar.
"When we see the sun tainted by blood and the shadows of night encroach, we know, we know, he is coming. Ulfric's new weapon. A savage creatue of tooth and claw. A creature of Shadow and blackness, bringing with him the stench of decay, the drive for domination, his Coldharbour woman in tow, a demon whore who bleeds for him. The Beast, The Beast of Anequina, comes, with his army of darkness. And Skyrim trembles in fear, the people falling to their knees. How long will it be before the weapon turns on its master? Ulfric, what have you done in your quest for power? You have failed us..."
- Farengar Secret-Fire
Civil War: I always enjoy the Civil War questline, despite its lack of detail, I still enjoy it for the sheer body count alone. You just get to kill shit with abandon. This time, it was done with a twist. Now that he had command over the sun, I enacted the prophesy, coating Tamriel in darkness to fuel Darloc Brae's campaign for Ulfric Stormcloak. Because the nature of the predominant enemy (soldiers), I also did away with the Atronach stone crutch and opted for the Ritual Stone, turning fallen Stormcloaks and Imperial soldiers into Darloc Brae's army of darkness. Bent on conquest. Ulfric may think he'll be king, but Darloc Brae is the true ruler of Skyrim now.
Optional Quests: Moonpath to Elsweyr. He, at this point, has conquered Skyrim, why not expand into his former Homeland? Lost to the Ages is also an option if you want to harnass both the Atronach Stone and the Ritual Stone. His AR will take a hit, so the decision is up to you.
Well, there you have it, my first build in the continuation of Dragonborn1921's wonderful Pure Builds Series and my submission for the Halloween 17 Event. Would love to thank Phil, Karver, and Teineeva for being my usual sounding boards and also extend thanks to The Postman who kept me encouraged with his comments and the general enthusiam of people looking forward to this build. A special thanks to Dragonborn1921 for allowing me to carry on with his vision. I hope I did not disappoint. Next on the list for Pure Builds for me is Illusion. Picture it... non sneak Illusion and... The Skull of Corruption.