**NOTE** THIS BUILD IS MODDED!!!!!
All mods are available for Skyrim Special Edition. They were chosen specifically for Xbox One, but you should be able to get pretty much all of them for PC if you have Special Edition. Here are the mods you must have to play this build at it's fullest potential:
*Imperious: Races of Skyrim
*Andromeda: Standing Stones of Skyrim
*Ordinateur Perk Overhaul
*Sacrosanct: Vampire Overhaul
'Sup all? Welcome to the first build in a new series I’m doing. I want to preface this by saying that I DO NOT TAKE FULL CREDIT FOR THIS BUILD!!!! This is a modded adaptation of a FudgeMuppet build, for reasons I will explain now. Most of it is mine, but the original concept and some of the backstory was pre-created. Also note that some parts of text in this build are copied and pasted from the Sacrosanct modpage which I have linked later on in the build.
So what exactly is this series? When messing around in Skyrim and wondering what to do, I realized that I had never fully played every playstyle or even every race in TES V: Skyrim. Thus, I decided to challenge myself to select a pre-created build and adapt it to my own style (including mods and other tweaks) and play a character as every single race in Skyrim. I'll be going through them in alphabetical order, so of course we will start with an Altmer character. I will chronicle each character’s adventure elsewhere on the SKYFORGE website. In fact, the main reason for posting this is so that you can know the build concept whilst following the chronicle, if you like. With some awesome vampire mods, there's a LOT to get into, so hold on to your potatoes Dr. Jones! With all that out of the way, let’s get into it.
"In an age long forgotten to history, I ruled as a mighty king. My domain was vast, my riches endless and my power infinite."
All across Tamriel, there are no tales more terrifying than those of the Vampires, and while every Vampire is frightening enough to ensure that the children get to bed on time, the Count is the most deadly, deceptive, and dastardly Vampire imaginable. Even the toughest of Nordic warriors blanch at the sound of his name. The Count is a master manipulator who uses language and sorcery to bend the will of those who get in the way of his schemes. If sorcery doesn’t do the trick, his cursed sword will separate head from shoulders with equal ease. Nobody is better at acquiring power and influence than he, and he won’t stop his secret conquest of Tamriel until his thirst for power and blood is quenched.
Using the Imperious: Races mod, the Count will be an Altmer. With the Imperious mod, Altmer are naturally gifted with three passive Abilities and one Racial Power unlockable through a quest given as soon as the playthrough begins:
Elven Supremacy: Skills are more effective upon reaching skill level 100.
Gold and Glass: When low on Magicka or Stamina, it regenerates faster at the cost of reduced armor and magic resistance.
Shimmering Threads: Weapons and armor are weaker, but enchantments are stronger.
Quest reward - Pluck 40 wings off butterflies to unlock...
Contingency: At will - Weave spells into an auto-cast trigger with specific conditions.
Using the Andromeda: Standing Stones mod, the Count will use the Ritual Stone. With the Andromeda mod, the Ritual Stone grants two new passive abilities, and one new unlockable power:
Mara's Mercy: Approach a violently slain corpse to gather its memories, summoning it as a vengeful spirit in your next battle.
Mara's Tears: Periodically relive the death of an ally or enemy whose memories you gathered before, creating a corpse.
Requiem: 1/day - Vengeful spirits gain 1000 points of Health. They move and attack 50% faster. Lasts 45 seconds.
Sacrosanct is a mod that aims to enhance gameplay as a Vampire with loads of new features including some new powers. There are loads of them, but the specific ones you need for the build are listed here:
- Dominate: Illusion spells cast by a vampire are 25% more powerful and last 25% longer on creatures and people.
As an Altmer, you also have a race-specific Vampire trait:
- Altmer - Wine and Revelry: Feeding increases Magicka by 50 points for 60 seconds (600 seconds if the victim is sleeping).
If you plan on doing a playthrough of this build I recommend giving the full description a read here at the Nexus page:
If you are on Xbox One, don't worry. All of the things listed on the Nexus page still apply! There are many many more powers and abilities. It is perfectly okay to use any of them in any way you want for this build. Do what suits your playstyle! I've just mentioned a few here that are essential for a few of the abilities.
*Revenant / Dread Zombie
Late in 3E, the Count was born into the beautiful and wealthy city of Cloudrest, which crested the northern tip of the Summerset Isles. It was here that he was raised in a life of luxury, for his father was a particularly shrewd man who had acquired great political power and influence. At the time that the majority of the children his age were wasting time gallivanting around the streets of the Summerset Isles’ grand city, the Count was being tutored in the finer nuances of courtly life, learning from scholars on history, music, literature, and most importantly the arcane arts.
The Count was the perfectly crafted young politician, and he was quite skilled in the arts of speech and manipulation. It was not long before the Count was debating and discussing the political landscape of the Summerset Isles with Mer that were many times his own age.
"The Summerset Isle is a green and pleasant land of fertile farmlands, woodland parks, and ancient towers and manors. Most settlements are small and isolated, and dominated by ruling seats of the local wizard or warlord. The Isle has few good natural ports, and the natives are unwelcoming to foreigners, so the ancient, chivalric high culture of the Aldmer is little affected by modern Imperial mercantilism."
Having been born in the late 3E, the Count became old enough to truly get into and effect the politics of the High Elven province at an essential time period. In its wake, the Oblivion Crisis (and more specifically the Empire’s failure to protect its own citizens from it) had severely shaken relations between the nine provinces and their Empire. From the ashes of this unrest came forth the insidious political faction that was known as the Third Aldmeri Dominion, but became popularly known as the Thalmor.
As the Thalmor faction amassed more and more power, the Count (who now acted as the main political ambassador for his family, and the bearer of their legacy) and other like-minded politicians recognized the danger this new group of radicals posed to their own power and influence. Despite their best efforts to advise and influence the Summerset Isles’ monarch, they were defeated at every turn by their enemies. The Thalmor always seemed to be several steps ahead of them, and this frustrated the Count to no end.
Eventually, the Third Aldmeri Dominion seized full control of the Summerset Isles and restored it to its historical title of Alinor. This resulted in a massive power transition, and all the former politicians were forced to bow to the new administration. Nearly everything that the Count had built for himself and his family legacy had been wiped out with the rise of the Thalmor.
In 4E 22, the Count decided to take preemptive action. His exile from Alinor was imminent, and waiting for it in Cloudrest would do no good for anyone. Rather than give into sorrow and self-pity, as was the want of many of his former colleagues, the Count took his more valuable belongings to the markets of Cloudrest and sold nearly all of it for a tidy profit. His house he sold to a real estate dealer for many times the amount for which he had originally purchased it, and left Alinor with nothing but the clothes on his back, a few sacks of gold, and a vast education and knowledge of politics.
The Count traveled just outside his native province to the heavily forested lands of Valenwood, which were in dire need of support after decimation by the Oblivion Crisis and a need of reconstruction after a costly war with the Khajiiti people to the east. The Count set up his own trading company that specialized in high-end goods, and shrewdly invested in the logging industry, which grew massively along with the need for repairs and in more extreme cases complete reconstruction.
The influence of the Thalmor, it seemed, could not be escaped. Soon enough the Thalmor invaded Valenwood too and took the Bosmeri province under their wing of “safety.” The policies of the Third Aldmeri Dominion were not at all beneficial to traders and investors such as himself, and the Count saw that he would soon begin to lose capital. So, at the height of his business, he sold nearly all of his warehouse storage and the most of his stock in his company, and left on an across-seas journey.
The Count had up until that point been surrounded by almost nothing but fellow Mer, and any dealings he had with Men were as limited as possible. In his days as a politician, most of the Elves with whom he had debated were so ancient that their opinions were set in some substance many times stronger than stone, and would not be altered by any amount of logic, proof, or reasoning. As he sailed to Cyrodiil’s city of Anvil, he thought of the near-pitiful human lifespan, and how easy it would be for even a relatively young Altmer such as himself to manipulate them. Humans, from what he had seen, were often possessed by capricious whims and prone to random acts of frivolity. He almost began to salivate at the thought of how much gold could be made when he sold his fine wares in the rich Cyrodiilic markets.
Business in Anvil blew even his highest expectations away. Most of the Imperials there had more money in their pockets than sense in their heads, and he made a huge profit off of selling jewels, silks, and other finery to the hopeless men of the courts who could hope only to buy the affections of their romantic interests. However, even Cyrodiil was not left untouched by Thalmor influence. The Great War was upon them faster than anyone could have anticipated, and that meant that Thalmor influence over the province was increasing at an exponential rate. Even the Count’s stores in the Imperial City’s Market District were beginning to feel the pressure of the Thalmor, and he was forced to concentrate business even further north in Bruma. There, he used some of his profits to start a chain of Taverns where soldiers and those affected by the Great War would come to drink away their sorrows.
Shortly after the signing of the White-Gold Concordat and the ending of the Great War, a Civil War broke out in Tamriel’s northernmost land of Skyrim. As business slowed in Bruma and other parts of Cyrodiil, the Count set his sights to Skyrim. A Civil War would not only offer business opportunities, but it would also open up many powerful positions for a shrewd politician to work his way into the more influential courts of the powerful Nordic province. Having heard of the wealth and frivolity of Skyrim’s capital city of Solitude, the Count booked passage to the Jewel of Skyrim on board a ship, excited at the new possibilities for power that there awaited him . . .
"Solitude, the seat of the High King of Skyrim and the capital of Haafingar hold, has always welcomed the Empire with open arms. Much commerce flows along the rivers here, and you will find the folk of this hold to be among the most hospitable in Skyrim."
**Using the Alternate Start mod, select the option to begin as a traveler arriving in Solitude by ship**
Harkon’s Sword: This is an ancient blade, elegant and light, that was forged long long ago specially for one of Tamriel’s most powerful Vampires. Lord Harkon’s evil blade absorbs 15 points of Health, Magicka, and Stamina so long as it is wielded by a Vampire. The enchantment is rather useful, especially considering it’s rather meager base damage of 8 points (half as much as the sword with the most base damage in the game, which deals 16 points, to give some context). The 15 points of absorbed health brings the blade’s damage to health up to 23 points, which is far above the largest in-game base damage sword. This makes it a well-rounded choice for any vampiric character.
Vampire Royal Armor: This intricately crafted armor set provides a decent amount of protection when combined with Vampire Boots and Gauntlets (45 points). It also has a pretty solid enchantment, allowing magicka to regenerate a whopping 125% faster, which is only slightly lower than a standard mage’s Master Robes. This enchantment is also enhanced by the natural Altmeri Shimmering Threads passive ability.
The Count benefits from the wide variety of skills and perks he has, making for a very adaptable and versatile playthrough. The perks chosen effect gameplay both in and out of combat. Here I’ll explain the reasons for some of the perks taken, but not all of them.
One-handed has very few perks invested in it, but it still plays a large role in the build. The only perks taken hear are the basic Mastery perks so you can deal more damage overall. One-handed is the compliment of other combat skills. Illusion, for example, focuses on incapacitating enemies with Calm spells in particular, allowing you to deal great damage to the calmed opponent. Sneak, on the other hand, allows you to greatly increase the damage you deal with your sword through striking opponents while undetected.
Illusion is perhaps the most important skill for this build, for both practical and roleplaying reasons. The skill fits both the manipulative and ancient arcane aspects of a powerful Vampire Lord perfectly. Dream Thief is an interesting perk that allows you to steal a sleeping target’s dream and thus increase the effectiveness of your Illusion spells by 50% for an extended period of time. This works very well in tandem with a Vampire’s ability to feed on sleeping victims. Kindred Mage is not a particularly useful perk mainly because there aren’t too many Altmer in Skyrim apart from the Thalmor whom you will not be fighting. The perk was taken mainly to get to Fickle Fate, which randomly improves the effect of each Illusion spell cast by between 1 and 40 points. This perk offers no downsides, so the chance for a more effective Illusion spell is well worth it. Quiet Before the Storm works well in conjunction with the Sneak skill, so you can silently cast spells from any school of magic, so you can remain undetected for longer. Imposing Presence makes targets within a radius around you more susceptible to your Illusion spells, and works very nicely along with Wilting. This perk makes calmed opponents who are effected by Imposing Presence lose 200 points of armor, making damage you deal with your sword much more effective. This also helps combat the relatively low base damage of your sword.
Conjuration really enhances the Vampiric feel of any Vampire build. Perks here focus on reanimating dead corpses. This build uses both reanimation spells and conjuring spells from the Soul Cairn, although both reanimated corpses and Soul Cairn creatures count as undead, so they will benefit from bonuses to undead (correct me if I am wrong on this). Ravenous Dead is useful for any conjuror since it increases the power of any undead creatures briefly after being reanimated. Preservation allows reanimated dead to last 3x longer. It is also important to note that once you obtain the Dread Zombie spell, corpses reanimated with this spell will last 20x longer.
Restoration is a fairly minor skill that focuses on self-healing. This is still important due to the Count’s lacking armor rating, and also makes it so he does not have to rely on potions or invest in the Alchemy tree.
The Sneak skill tree contributes massively to the Count’s combat playstyle. It also works well along with the Illusion spell, Invisibility. Sneak Attack gives a 100% damage bonus to your sword when attacking a target while undetected. Unfortunately, this does not effect the health absorption effect so the Count is left with a boost to the meager damage dealt by Harkon’s Sword, but it can still be quite powerful against most enemies. Fog of War allows the Count to deal bonus sneak attack damage to enemies in combat with you (15% more damage), and even more bonus damage to enemies in combat with someone else (30% more damage). The Count can take advantage of this 30% damage buff quite often as he will use a follower.
Finally, Speech is a skill tree that will effect gameplay outside of combat. All of the skills taken here enhance the Count’s mercantile ability. Even Harkon mentions wealth being an important part of being a Vampire. Not only that, but it will also help the Count gain political influence for himself and the Volkihar Vampire faction. There are a few perks worth going into detail on here, and one of them is Fence. Although the Count isn’t exactly a thief, he’s not afraid to get what he wants in any way possible, so this perk can be quite useful. Business Relation allows you to permanently get 30% better prices from the next merchant you talk to after taking the perk. Business Relation and Investor work well together, as Investor allows you to . . . well, invest 500 gold into a specific merchant, increasing the amount of gold they have by that amount permanently. It is recommended that you use these two perks on the same merchant. It is best to choose one of the merchants from Solitude. This not only suits the roleplaying, but it’s also practical seeing as Solitude is the closest city to Castle Volkihar.
[EDIT] The more I play this build, the more I realize it may be useful to get into Lockpicking enough to grabe the Wax Key perk. Sneaking into people's homes and feeding on them is essential as a Vampire with the Sacrosanct mod, and thus you'll need to lockpick quite often. What the Wax Key perk does is it will give you a copy of the key to any door that you lockpick (if there is one). This will allow you to easily revisit houses that you frequently go to to feed, without having to lockpick the door every time. This perk isn't really a necessity, but it's a great quality of life (or death, in the Count's case) improvement that is well worth it if you have a few extra perk points to invest.
Additionally, any perks you take from the tree that effects the Vampire Lord Form are viable. Just choose them based on your own playstyle.
As you know, abilities are combonations of different skills, powers, and perks that make for a unique experience with the build. The Sacrosanct mod is so in-depth that I've avoided including too many of those powers added by the mod here. Otherwise we'd be here for an eternity. With that out of the way, here are the abilities.
Requires: Pacify Spell + Imposing Presence Perk + Wilting Perk + Dominate Ability + Harkon's Sword
"Take [my blood], and you will walk as a lion among sheep."
This is a very powerful ability that allows you to very quickly take down an opponant that is troubling you using your good 'ol Vampiric charm. Start by calming the target with the Pacify spell which will be made more powerful by the passive Vampiric Dominate ability. Get close enough to them so they will be effected by the Imposing Presence perk, which will intern activate Wilting. Now the target's armor rating will be greatly depleated. Then, hack and slash away with Harkon's Sword until you kill them, gaining for yourself health, stamina, and magicka in the process.
Still Heart Ability + Invisibility Spell + Infiltrator + Sneak Attack Perk + Shadow Refuge
"I wish I could have been there to hear the sounds of their screams."
Quickly dispatch one or more enemies before starting open combat with this ability. Although all of those requirements make it look very complicated, it isn't. Most of these are passive abilities that you won't have to worry about. Keep in mind that this skill is best used before starting open combat, although you can use it afterward if you manage to escape. Begin by casting the Invisibility spell. Shadow Refuge will make you harder to detect and more resistant to damage. Between Shadow Refuge, Infiltrator (which stops armore from making noise), the Invisibility Spell, and the Vampiric Still Heart ability you will be rendered virtually undetectable. With Sneak Attack to boost your damage, no you have virtually free reign over the battleground, allowing you to easily take out many targets before being detected. Also note that if you are planning on using this ability, it's best to tell Serana to wait before you do so and ensure that you have no undead followers as they can basically just screw the whole thing up.
Requires: Mara's Mercy + Requiem + Dread Zombie + Conjure Boneman OR Conjure Mistman
"May mortals quake at your approach."
This ability is a little more complicated, but can be quite powerful when coming up against very large groups of enemies. With Mara's Mercy you will passively summon a spirit in your next battle after gather memories from a violently slain corpse. This should not count against the amount of summoned creatures you can have, so when you enter combat you can also reanimate a corpse and conjure an additional boneman or mistman. This allows you to basically sit back and watch your group of undead creatures while they destroy your enemy.
Requires: Wine and Revelry Ability + Dream Thief + A Chosen Sleeping Target
"Revel in your new powers, but do not forget who gave them to you."
This ability allows you to gain as much as possible from the feeding process. Start by using the Dream Thief perk to increase your Illusion spell effectiveness for an extended period of time. Then, feed on your sleeping target and let the Wine and Revelry ability (which allows feeding to increase Magicka by 50 points for 600 seconds if the victim is sleeping) to the rest of the work.
FACTIONS AND QUESTLINES
As for factions, we obviously have Harkon’s Court. Once you gain Auriel’s Bow, it first he roleplaying to corrupt it with Serana’s blood and use it to block out the sun. Additionally, the Count will find the massive amount of Arcane Knowledge in the College of Winterhold to be irresistible. The quest line for this faction is optional, but the position of Archmage would be quite the reward for the Count, granting him even more influence over Skyrim. He will complete the Main Quest and the Dragonborn DLC for the power that the Thu’um can yield, particularly the Bend Will shout in the Dragonborn quest. Additionally, later on in the quest, gaining access to the hoarded knowledge in Apocrypha is something that the Count is supremely interested in. Knowledge is power, after all.
ROLEPLAYING AND PLAYSTYLE
With some coin from his former business endeavors to back him up, the Count will start to forge his new empire in Skyrim. He’ll work his way into the court of Solitude and play the role of the competent and helpful outsider, all the while gathering financial capital through sales, favors, and business deals. The Count will not be afraid to enter more shady business deals if he thinks that the potential reward outweighs the risks.
The Count is an expert at manipulation, and will act around people in whatever way will benefit him the most. He may display an aura of power and commanding around those he perceives he can easily bend to his will, yet grovel and kiss the boots of those he knows he can’t. Upon hearing of the Vampires, the Count will be inexplicably intrigued by the power and longevity Vampirism might offer. Never one to rush into consequential decisions, the Count joins and uses the Dawnguard as a means to discover more about these Vampires.
The offer to join Harkon will be far too tempting for him to resist. The atmosphere is almost exactly like the courtly environment that suits him so well, and the power and prowess that Vampirism offers will be too much for him to turn down.
"[We're] not just vampires. We are among the oldest and most powerful vampires in Skyrim. I count some of the oldest and most powerful vampires in Skyrim among the members of my court."
He will be initially very intrigued by Serana, and eventually will have a great amount of trust for Serana, who lead him to this opportunity. If you have a mod on that allows you to marry Serana or something of the sort and want to use it, it could work. But if you choose this path for the Count, be careful to consider the context of the character. Although he may actually love Serana, the Count would approach this much like anything else in that he loves somewhat selfishly, and would use absolutely any means to protect his love, similarly to how he treats power.
He will eventually see Harkon as something of a threat to the stability of the court, and in this he will see an opportunity for yet more power and influence. After killing Harkon along with Serana and becoming Lord of the Court, his power interests will not stop there. The Civil War still rages, and he and Serana will weasel their way into thane-hood; a position through which he can get into the ear of the Jarls and even get by with committing certain crimes.
As for playstyle, outside of combat the Count will associate with those of the higher class and spend time with Jarls and other prominent figures, manipulating them and using them to gain titles and influence. He’ll employ his skill in speech to make immense profits in the markets, to the point where he can buy wares and sell them at a profit. As for a playstyle in combat, fighting can actually be avoided much of the time through a combination of the invisibility spell, the pacify spell, and the frenzy spell. If he has reasons to get into personal combat, he will start by conjuring a powerful army of the undead (typically the creatures he gained from the Soul Cairn) and then engage himself in the courtly art of sword-based combat. It should not be ignored that the combination of the Invisibility spell and the use of the sword can be quite powerful. If you get into a pinch, the Vampire Lord Form can be extremely powerful should you choose to invest perks into it. How much you use this advantage depends on your personal playstyle. Finally, it should be mentioned that most of this should happen in the night, as the sun isn’t a Vampire’s best friend.
SACROSANCT "BLUE BLOOD"
The Sacrosanct mod is very expansive, and one of the coolest features is the "Blue Blood" quest series. Where is the fun in preying only on the weak? Feeding on some of the strongest individuals in Skyrim (Ulfric, Elenwen, etc.) grants up to 7 additional abilities in mortal form. After your first feeding, you receive the Blue Blood quest, marking all targets with powerful blood on the map. This is something the Count will be very interested in doing, as his aim is of course to become as powerful as possible in both Vampiric and political aspects. Conducting high-risk feeding attempts on powerful individuals throughtout Skyrim is such a unique experience and is very fun. Get these abilities ASAP, as they can be very very useful. Abilities are unlocked in a fixed order as follows:
- Potence: Vampiric strength grants 15% more attack damage, increased to 30% when Sated.
- Sense Vitae: Activate a living target while sneaking to learn its attributes and resistances.
- Eyes of the Moon: Your Vampire's Seduction power can affect targets up to 50 levels higher.
- Tooth and Claw: Your attacks deal 25% more damage to targets affected by a Hemomancy spell such as Blood Seed.
- Mytherceria: Day passes 20% faster and night passes 30% slower.
- Masquerade: You are no longer hated and feared when Blood Starved.
- Daywalker: You are immune to non-lethal Sunlight.
When it comes to housing, the Count will of course reside in Castle Volkihar, which after defeating Harkon receives a nice upgrade thanks to the Castle Volkihar Redux mod.
The Count will use Serana as a follower.
No mount is really necessary for this build, but if you want you can use Arvak from the Soul Cairn.
That just about covers all of it! Thanks for sticking around to the end. Credit to befunky.com for the art effect on all of the images. Apologies for any spelling errors, but I hope you enjoyed everything else. If you have an questions or concerns about the build, please let me know and I'll get back to you on those. Now go forth! Bring Skyrim into a new era of death and blood!
I also upload builds on my YouTube channel! Check it out here!