If you wish to read the full backstory, click here.
In an attempt to root out all evil from Tamriel as our mysterious hunter, here is a list of the mods you will need, as well as a few practical suggestions.
ESSENTIAL MODS :
Alternate Start Start as a patron staying in Moorside Inn in Morthal if you wish to follow the backstory.
RECOMMENDED MODS :
Tomebound (Activate Ordinator compatibility patch in the installer)
NB : The latter three essentially act as a replacement for 20/50/100% more perk point mods that come with Ordinator. I prefer to play with these, as exploration (Skyshards), defeating epic enemies (PPA) and mastering more and more skills (PP@SL) make perk points feel like a reward for your acomplishments, rather than just something you get double every few levels. It is up to your preference, however, you could bypass these and just get any perk point modifier on the Ordinator page.
Name : Taren Verelas
Age : Unknown ; was already alive and active mid-Third Era - Even though all Mer races tend to live way longer than humanoïd and beast races, Taren still is of a formidable age for a dark elf, whilst maintaining great physical condition. This if often attained by the study of dark magic, as showcased by the surrealistic lifespan of the necromancer Mannimarco. In the words of Savos Aren, archmage of the College of Winterhold : "What you will learn here will last you a lifetime. Several, if you're talented...".
Class archetype : Witchhunter
Race : Dunmer
With Imperious installed, Dunmer start with a base Health of 95 (regen rate 4.75%), and a carrying capacity of 275.(regen rate 0.75%), base Magicka of (regen rate 3.125%) and base Stamina of
Their racial abilities revolve around Whispers, which periodically indicate an enemy humanoid to slay for 25 Spirit Favor and bonus gold. Ancestral Guardian expends 1 Spirit Favor when you enter combat to gain 75 points of armor for 2 minutes, while Ashborn grants you 25% Fire resistance at all times, an additional 25% when Ancestral Guardian is active, and another 25% when you use your racial power Spirit Walk, for a maximum whopping total of 75% Fire resistance.
Speaking of Spirit Walk, it is a one use a day power that is unlock after slaying 10 people under the effect of Whispers. It allows you to expend 2 Spirit Favor to summon 2 random invulnerable Ancestors for 45 seconds. These Ancestors may provide you with useful buffs and/or aid you in combat.
Standing Stone : The Apprentice
With Andromeda installed, the Apprentice Stone has two passive properties and one active ability.
For passives, Prodigy decreases the cost of all spells by 15%, and makes novice spells free to cast, while Sorcerer's Apprentice makes your spells either 50% weaker or 50% stronger, the latter being the more likely option.
The active ability, Vaporize, is unlocked through discovering every standing stone in Skyrim. It is a one use a day power that cloaks you with a protective spell for 30 seconds. Should an enemy land a killing blow on you, the blow would be cancelled and the enemy would be disintegrated. Note that this power has no effect on massive targets such as Dwemer Centurions or Giants.
Stat Distribution : 1 - Stop perking Stamina and Magicka when you reach 250 of each, excluding enchantments, and put all further points into Health./ /
Factions : Dawnguard, College of Winterhold
Alignment : Chaotic Good
These are examples of quests that make sense role-play wise for Taren, the morally gray vigilante. Please note, these lists are non-exhaustive, in no particular order, and are overall just a way for you to get started into roleplaying the character.
QUESTLINES : Served Cold questline (Solstheim, Dragonborn DLC). Dawnguard Questline, College of Winterhold Questline
MAIN QUESTS : Blood on the Ice, Movarth's Lair, Clear out Wolfskull Cave, The Wolf Queen Awakened, The White Phial
MISC QUESTS : Find all standing stones, Dawnguard radiant quests
Specializing in hunting dark art practicioners and their undead lackeys, Taren has developed a wide array of magic, crafting and combat skills altogether to help him in his endeavours. Let's review and comment the key perks.
ALCHEMY - Often left to his own devices in the wilderness, Taren has a good grasp of herbalism, and is capable of crafting most types of alchemical concoctions with proficiency.
- Physician : While Stamina and Magicka potions are invaluable due to us using both these resources, Taren's only source of sustain in combat is through Health potions. You should therefore pick as your specialization.
- Elemental Oil : A good source of AOE damage, you should pick Fire as your oil of choice.
- The Alchemist's Cookbook : While Hallowed Oil is effective against groups of undead enemies, Fire oil already does the job quite nicely. For the evil summoners of said creatures, and most humanoïd enemies, Paralysis Oil is the most versatile option, and the one you should pick. It also provides you with a well-needed defensive option.
- Bottomless Cup : Probably the best perk in the whole tree for any build using poisons. Also, getting multiple applications per poison vial means less crafting and more warlock hunting !
CONJURATION - Witchhunters fight the dark arts users by resorting to these same dark arts, either becoming what they despise and swore to destroy, or ending up hating themselves as a result. Necromancy, though, is forbidden by most Witchhunters' moral principles.
- Planemeld : Able to summon non-undead minions from 5 times farther away - Most of the time, you'll want to summon your Atronach from a distance, while pelting your foes with a hail of arrows.
- Atromancy : Non-undead summons last 3 times as long (5 times at night) - The longer you control an otherworldy minion, the more risk of succumbing to the corruption of Oblivion you take ; Taren is used to walking on the edge.
- Elemental Potency : Summoned Atronachs are higher level and more powerful - Being attuned to Fire magic, Taren is able to funnel a portion of his power into his Flame Atronach.
ARCHERY - A more than competent marksman in his own right, Taren utilizes his proficiency with a bow to keep his quarry at bay.
- Wingstrike 2/2 : Taren does not have a backup melee weapon, as he knows brawling with a Werewolf or a Gargoyle would prove fatal anyway. This perk provides him with the time needed to retreat if an opponent gets too close.
- Ranger : Taren's main source of survivability is his mobility, this perk allows you to stay on the run while still keeping eyes on your targets.
- Focus on the Prey : His astute senses allow Taren to keep his concentration even in the midst of battle.
- Crippling Shot : Shooting off kneecaps with his arrows, Taren slowly corners his opponents between Fire Runes and Bear Traps.
- Trick Arrows : Although all of these effects are potent, you should focus on always having some Immolation, Grounding, Maze and Death arrows, as Force arrow would Fus-Ro-Dah opponents straight out of your Trap line and your runes, and Freezing arrows would essentially serve the same purpose as Crippling Shot and Paralysis Oil, except on single target as opposed to AOE.
- Robe of the Magi : Essential perk for any spellcasting build that doesn't make use of armor, such as a Witchhunter.
- Elemental Specialization : You should obviously choose Fire, which will also increase the potency of your Immolation arrows and Elemental Oil.
- Runecaster : Along with magic, caution has been crucial in keeping Taren alive all these years. He always approaches fights at maximum bow range, and inscribes extra runes in his perimeter for safety.
ENCHANTING - Taren's study of the art of Enchanting has allowed him to imbue his gear with magical properties aimed at fighting evil-doers.
- Gem Dust : You can destroy a Flawless gem at an Arcane Enchanter to make your enchantments on the corresponding piece of gear 25% stronger - Destroy a Diamond for jewelry, a Sapphire for gloves and shoes alike, an for robes, a Garnet for hoods, a Ruby for your bow. Emeralds are used for shields, but Taren doesn't carry one.
- Regalia : Witchhunters make full use of that perk, given that they wear all of these but circlets.
- Twin Enchantment : Having a very diverse toolkit, Taren needs to be empowered by a wide array of enchantments to attain maximum potential.
- Bear Traps : Unlike most hunters setting their traps in advance and coming back to collect the prize later on, Taren uses them in combat situations, both to cover his retreat and hinder his pursuers in the process.
- Big Game Hunter : Taren has modified regular Bear Traps with special mechanisms, allowing both for higher sensitivity and automated rearming.
- The Revenge : With 3 traps, 3 runes, 2 types of oil : this setup ensures nobody ever comes close to you without being burned to cinders.
- Dragon's Teeth : All of the effects are useful, you should pick each one depending on the situation : what enemies you're fighting and, if fighting several types at once, which ones are more likely to walk into your traps.
- Wild Shrines : You should look for the Alteration shrine (above Uttering Hills Cave), Destruction shrine (in front of Halldir's Cairn), and Conjuration shrine (North of Morthal), Illusion and Restoration are not used for this build, and their shrines provide no added benefits to Taren's toolkit.
- Alter Self : Resistances : You should increase Frost and resistance if using Advanced Adversary Encounters, as most dark mages and necromancers will be using Poison spells. If not using this mod, increase Frost and Shock resistance.
- Alter Self : Attributes : Your best bet is to go with Health.
Weapon - Get either Zephyr (I used the Zephyr Hunting Bow Retexture, which is an Oldrim mod but works on SSE like a charm, to keep Taren's look simple and sturdy) or a custom bow enchanted with Fiery Soul Trap and Damage Magicka. The number of different bows in the base game is fairly low, so for the most unique look I recommend checking out Unique Bows Collection, which has been a staple in my load order since its original release.
Armor - Destruction/Conjuration robes are your best early game friends. After that, any clothes make for a good outfit (I used the cloth version of the gorgeous Wayfarer's Coat assorted to a black mage hood), ideally you'll have them enchanted as follows :
- Chestpiece enchanted with Fortify Destruction and Amplify Destruction
- Gloves enchanted with Fortify Archery and Fortify Magicka
- Boots enchanted with Fortify Health and Fortify Stamina
- Hood enchanted with Fortify Archery and Fortify Conjuration
Jewelry - Here would be the ideal setup, as a means of protection against werewolves, vampires and fiends of all sorts :
- Silver Necklace enchanted with Fortify Archery and Fortify Health
- Silver Ring enchanted with Fortify Destruction and Fortify Conjuration
Miscellaneous - You should always carry healing, stamina and magicka potions, a few lockpicks, and a handful of poisons. Useful poisons include Damage Health, Damage Magicka, Ravage Magicka, Slow, and Paralysis. Always carry 2 or 3 traps depending on whether you have the Revenge perk yet, and trick arrows if you have access to them.
- Summon Flame Atronach - Replace whenever possible by Flame Thrall. Another good option, if you don't have the Elemental Potency perk from the Conjuration tree yet, is Summon Ash Spawn
- Any Fire projectile spell - Firebolt or Fireball work just fine, however Flame Wave can come in handy when facing large groups, or for easier Elemental Oil detonations.
- Fire Rune
- Flame Cloak
- Oakflesh - replace whenever possible with Stoneflesh, later Ironflesh, and finally Ebonyflesh
- Spellsip - replace whenever possible with Spelldrink
- Ocato's Recital - Link your strongest available Flesh spell, Flame Cloak, and Spellsip/Spelldrink
Taren protects himself from the dark mages and their undead hordes with cleansing fire
Magebane Poison : Jazbay Grapes + Spawn Ash + Scathecraw
Taren's poison of choice, able to inflict Health, Stamina and Magicka damage all at once
Taren shoots a lethally poisoned trick arrow at his target, hindering them greatly if they survive it
Against multiple foes, Taren successively hits each of them with an incapacitating shot, leaving them exposed to a barrage of fire spells
Taren bashes a melee attacker with his bow, then quicky grounds them with a paralyzing toxin combined to a well-placed shot
Scorched Ground : Fire Rune x3 + Runecaster + Elemental Oil
Taren sets up a zone of magical and mechanical protection around him, allowing him to freely shoot off his foes
Burn Them To Cinders : Scorched Ground + Destruction dual casting + Fireball/Flame Wave
Taren unleashes the power of his fire magic on his hapless opponents, turning them to fuming ashes
STRENGTHS : Extremely fun to play, fast-paced, tremendous AOE capabilities, good at all stages of the game, very versatile toolkit, excels against undead and magic users, good against other archer enemies due to superior shooting speed
WEAKNESSES : Low armor only provided by Flesh spells, no melee options, no sustain other than potions, mediocre single-target damage, has to rely on kiting heavily armored melee opponents, can prove very challenging to master on high difficulty levels
Taren is a Witchhunter, a versatile and nimble combatant making use of magic and marksmanship, as well as a full arsenal of traps and alchemical concoctions, to hunt and put down evil-doers. The Witchhunter has always been one of the classes that intrigued me the most, as it is a mix-and-mash of so many playstyles, unlike any other class.
The combat gameplay for a witchhunter is fast and intense. You'll usually open the fight by summoning an Atronach, as far away from yourself as you possibly can, while making sure no obstacles are in the triangle formed by you, your Atronach, and your foes, so you can freely unleash hell on them with arrows and Fire magic. Once your enemies notice your Atronach and charge at it, use the small time window you have to get a bit closer to the action, and place your Scorched Ground while making use of the Ranger perk to cast your Hail of Arrows. To maximize the damage potential of Clean Kill, you should try hitting as many targets as you can at least once with this technique before switching to AOE mode.
Once you're all set up with your Scorched Ground, run back to a safe spot, dropping your bear traps on the way, to prevent melee attackers from getting too close, while still using Hail of Arrows as much as possible, and keep an eye on your Atronach. If it dies or is in a poor spot, summon it again, this time in the middle of your Scorched Ground. Once your enemies step foot inside Scorched Ground, it's time to finish the battle with Burn Them To Cinders, and show them the cleansing power of fire and fury.
Should a particular enemy pose a bigger threat and require additional crowd control, provided they are not undead, you can rely on Transfixing Shot - replacing the Magebane Poison with a Slow or Paralysis poison if needed, or the Immolation Trick Arrow by a Grounding one - to incapacitate them. If they're undead, kite back and blast them with dual cast fire spells.
If slow, hard-hitting opponents come at you, use Vaporize only as a last resort ; ideally, use Retaliate on them to gain momentum, followed by Hail of Arrows if against more than one enemy. Against a single opponent, replace Hail of Arrows by a few Transfixing Shots. If you have enough Magicka remaining, and your foes are tenacious enough to still be running at you, set up Scorched Ground again, and when they chase you inside, proceed as mentioned above : Burn Them To Cinders.
This concludes the third build I'm posting on The SkyForge, namely my Witchhunter build. This is a part of my Project 21 series of builds, which will be my own take on all 21 classes of the TES universe, so I guess that's 18 more to go yet ! I am enjoying every moment of this process so far.
I would like to extend special thanks to Enai Siaion, creator of Ordinator, Andromeda, Wildcat, Imperious, and many more gameplay-enhancing mods, for making Skyrim an even more amazing game than Bethesda already had, and one I still enjoy playing after almost a decade, as well as to Furrion 17. I tried all of his builds when I got into character building and really had a blast, and the dedication he shows in crafting a good backstory for a good build inspired me to try my hand at it as well.
That's all from me for now, expect more soon ! Don't hesitate to comment and share your experience playing Taren, I hope you'll have as much fun playing him as I had creating, playing and writing the build he is the star of !
MY OTHER BUILDS
BARBARIAN : Ulfgar, the Lone Wolf
HEALER : Alska, She of the Wild
KNIGHT : Acilius, Alessia's Chosen
NIGHTBLADE : Caesia Tremellius, the Imperial Inquisitor
ROGUE : Thessia, the Rascal
SORCERER : Lanathel, the Bloodsworn
SPELLSWORD : Ariane, the Skystrider
WARRIOR : Kazan, the Lion of Bangkorai