Character Build: The Dark Sovereign

This build is a collaboration between Raidriar and Curse Never Dying

Hello and welcome to Curse’s and my newest collaboration! This has been a long time in the making, and originated as a Dark Crusader, following the success of our Skaal Crusader. Evolving over time, it went through several name changes and revisions to what you see before you; our darkest, deadliest build yet. We’re stepping out of the shadows with the most unapologetic, relentless and chaotic character ever, which will leave Mannimarco and the Berne crippled and broken in the dust. Let us introduce you to....

They watch....

They sit and they watch as the daedra toy with the lives of mortals. They watch as the dragons of old return to this world, and rain fiery destruction from the sky, They watch as the night's children envelope their world in eternal darkness. All of this they witness, and yet as the wicked ravage the world what do the gods do...?


They do NOTHING! They allow this insanity to continue, watching as their faithful are slaughtered in the name of all that is unholy. But in the end perhaps they don't care. Perhaps they're even laughing. Laughing as the weak, pitiful masses pray for salvation. They do not answer yet still the people pray. They pray that these impotent gods will deliver them from the darkness. They pray to Stendarr for mercy in their dying breaths. They pray to Mara for love where none is to be found. No. These fools do not need love, nor do they need mercy. They need a new sovereign to look upon. They need to be wrested free from the grip of their false gods. 

They need a savior...

I shall open their eyes and shake them from their false beliefs. I shall rip their notion of nonexistent safety as I destroy everything they hold dear. I will defy their absent gods, and wrench away their believers from underneath them as I desecrate all that they stand for. All will kneel before me and I will show them just how weak and feeble their gods truly are. And when the world burns, when Oblivion itself cowers before me, they will finally see that their false gods have gone deaf to their prayers and abandoned them. Through the ensuing chaos, I shall be the salvation this world needs...

And if I must destroy the world to save it, so shall it be...

- Ravings of a Mad Heretic  


Race: Altmer. No other race commands such presence and power, and their immense height augmented by a badass armour combo makes for a truly intimidating foe. Extra Magicka and starting with the Fury spell are just an added bonus.

Stone: Ritual. Nothing like amassing an army from your recently slain foes.

Shouts: Drain Vitality, Marked for Death, Summon Durnehviir

Stats: 1 Magicka :7 Health :2 Stamina. The bonus Magicka from being a High Elf allows the majority of points to be put into health, giving this build excellent survivability.

Major Skills: One Handed, Illusion, Conjuration, Alchemy

Minor Skills: Heavy Armour, Destruction

Weapons: Mace of Molag Bal

Apparel: Daedric Helmet, Heavy Falmer Armour, Daedric Gauntlets, Daedric Boots, Locket of Saint Jiub, Ring of the Erudite

Passives: Seeker of Shadows, Sinderion’s Serendipity

Recommended Quests: Volkihar, Conjuration Ritual Spell, Mourning Never Comes, House of Horrors, Rings of Blood Magic, Impatience of a Saint, From the Ashes


The Build

Vampiric Grip is undoubtedly the most awesome spell in the Vampire Lord’s arsenal, capable of rendering some of the game’s toughest enemies incapable of mounting any sort of offence against you. It really makes playing a Vampire Lord so much fun, and was always the spell I went for first after accepting Harkon’s gift.

If you couldn’t tell, chaos is the name of the game, and Vampiric Grip is only the tip of the iceberg. Not only is the Dark Sovereign able to throw enemies around like they were toys, he can also create havoc through Illusion spells. Our chosen spell is the Frenzy Rune, which can still affect nearly every enemy in the game despite the lack of dual casting, with perks and the vampire bonus. It also has a wider radius than the other AOE Illusion spells, making hitting groups much easier.

Individual enemies can be dragged from the fray so you can clobber them with your mace. The Mace of Molag Bal was such an obvious choice for us. Its dark enchantments and brutal aesthetics synergize incredibly well with some chosen perks and shouts. The Damage Stamina and Magicka enchantments leave nothing but a trail of crippled, silenced bodies in your wake, and soul trap keeps this nightmare fueled up and running.

Conjuration allows you to raise your armies, and nothing suits the Dark Sovereign better than a pair of Wrathmen. These tanks sport a whopping 900 Health with the Dark Souls perk, and can shrug off hits from the likes of giants and dragons with ease. They provide excellent distractions, and can keep enemies busy for a while due to their hardiness, allowing you to focus down individual opponents. If you need range, the other Soul Cairn summons are happy to oblige, with Mistmen.

Burn the world. Burn it all.....

Weapons and Armor

Armor - As you can see from both Curse’s fabulous art and Okan's amazing screenshots, the armor combo looks badass. The Daedric Armour is made at the Atronach Forge, and the Heavy Falmer Armour can be found on random Falmer Warmongers or on the specific Warmonger in the Forgotten Vale forest which can be accessed via the Ruby Paragon. For best results you're looking for your daedric armor pieces to bear these enchantments.

  • Daedric Helmet of Extreme Magicka
  • Daedric Gauntlets of Peerless Wielding
  • Daedric Boots of Peerless Stamina

Expect to make an appearance at the Atronach Forge fairly soon in your play through. Conjuration can be leveled exceptionally fast whether you choose to power level or go the more natural route. The Heavy Falmer Armor will take a bit of time to find. You wont start encountering Falmer Warmongers until your late 20's or early 30's. If you're looking for a sinister look to hold you over til then, dont hesitate to forge the daedric chest plate.

Accessories - Locket of Saint Jiub, Ring of the Erudite

With the Locket of Saint Jiub, Ring of the Erudite and the Altmer racial bonus you’ll gain 120 extra Stamina and 220 extra Magicka, allowing more points to be placed into Health. “Blocking with your face”, a term Curse frequently used, makes sense when you consider holding vampiric grip denies you the ability to block. Luckily, with all that health, you’ll tank harder than any death knight should be capable of and alchemy will boost your health even further. Both accessories can be gained from side quests as part of the Volkihar quest line. 

Weapon - Mace of Molag Bal

No weapon strikes more terror into the hearts of men than Molag Bal's signature artifact. This sinister weapon comes with both soul trap and enchantments that drain both stamina and magicka. Combined with the right poisons the Dark Sovereign can effectively shut down an enemy offensive entirely. A little known fact about the mace: Its stamina and magicka damage are further boosted by taking the 'Augmented Flames' perks. 

None can escape my grasp....

The Inescapable Darkness

The main source of inspiration for the Dark Sovereign is none other than World of Warcraft's Death Knight class. Anyone'whose had the misfortune of meeting these unholy warriors in combat can recount the much dreaded experience of being pulled away from what they thought was safe distance, only to face a bludgeoning at their destination.

Imagine our amazement when Bryn discovered that such a power was possible in human form! By following the simple directions below you'll gain access to Vampiric Grip in your left hand, giving you a tool of unlimited chaotic potential. The only enemies who resist this effect are Dragons, Mammoths, Dragon Priests, Mistmen, Bonemen, Wrathmen and Skeletons. All other foes are susceptible to Vampiric Grip, which allows for unprecedented crowd control against almost all types of adversaries!

  1. Equip Conjure Bound Sword in your left hand
  2. Use Vampire Lord power and immediately Cast bound sword
  3. When transformed, equip the left hand spell you want to have.
  4. Change power to Revert Form
  5. Use Revert Form, wait until your screen gets blurry and then VERY QUICKLY bring up the quick select menu. It should show that your left hand spell is still equipped, this is a lie.
  6. VERY QUICKLY Press to equip the spell, when you do everything should disappear except Vampire's Sight
  7. Exit quick select menu and quickly charge left hand spell until you revert
  8. You should now have the left hand Vampire Lord spell in your human hand.

Vampiric grip offers much in the way of crowd control but carries with it one major flaw - you cant block with the spell equiped. To de-equip the spell would mean having to redo this exploit. With that in mind it is crucial to deny enemies a chance to mount a strong offensive. 

The spell can also be used to halt an enemy's advance should the need arise. With a decent supply of magicka, a troublesome enemy can be flung skyward and left to fall to his death. Enemy momentum also affects this skill. If an enemy is running towards you, you’ll pull them faster, and if you let go before they reach you they’ll actually fly past you! This allows for some epic crowd control, especially when outdoors, as foes will often die from being launched across the ground and over a hill. 


Infernal Alchemy

Almost everything can be grown in a greenhouse or fish hatchery if you choose. Salt Pile can be found in barrels throughout Skyrim, with Riften being a good farming location. Hanging Moss can be found in the Solitude catacombs. Scathecraw can be harvested in the hundreds around Solsteim, with Raven Rock being a great farming ground. Other than that, Heljarchen Hall should be able to grow everything else you need. If building a home and growing ingredients isn't your thing, that's ok. You'll spot these ingredients quite frequently out in the wilderness. 

With two pieces of Peerless Alchemy (I usually go for a circlet and necklace from Radiant Raiment), one of Major Alchemy, and Muiri’s Ring, you can achieve 82% Fortify Alchemy. While that may seem like a random number, combined with Seeker of Shadows (which increases your entire Fortify Alchemy, including Alchemist 5/5, by 10%), you can attain 100% Fortify Alchemy. It works out as 182 + (10% * 182) = 200, so all concoctions are twice as powerful!

This makes your poisons incredibly deadly, particularly Ravage Magicka, which can deprive mages of their entire Magicka pool in seconds. Due to a nifty little bug Ravage Magicka and Stamina poisons act like lingering damage poisons on steroids, unaffected by difficulty and doing four times their damage per second on Master. This makes up for the fact they cannot stack, but you’ll never notice the difference when you’re silencing an Arch Warlock’s 500 Magicka pool in a mere 9 seconds. This provides some crazy synergy along with Drain Vitality and the Mace of Molag Bal, giving you the ability to prevent mages from casting and warriors from power attacking or sprinting.


Grim Fortitude – Fortify Conjuration 150% + Fortify Health 120pts + Restore Health 188pts

Blue Mountain Flower + Lavender + Wheat

Uses: Empowering himself alongside his minions, the Dark Sovereign can wade into battle alongside hordes of undead and decimate his enemies with ease. Summons will last you for whole dungeons when you factor in Conjuration perks, allowing you to reserve your Magicka for more Vampiric Grip or Frenzy Runes.


Essence of Might – Fortify Health 120pts + Fortify One Handed 120%

Canis Root + Hanging Moss + Wheat

Uses: This concoction enables the Dark Sovereign to hit over twice as hard, making his mace a truly deadly weapon. The extra health lets you survive much longer as well, so you needn’t worry about additional healing while fighting.


Mark of Affliction  – Lingering Damage Health 30pts + Paralysis 30s

Canis Root + Imp Stool + Mora Tapinella

Uses: A truly sadistic poison, which leaves an opponent crippled and dying a slow, painful death. One for the sadist, this allows you to engage with the Dark Sovereign’s chaotic and brutal side. Best used when your enemy is too close for comfort and you lack the magicka to cast him aside with your vampiric grip. 


Magebane – Lingering Damage Health 30pts + Ravage Magicka 60pts

Frost Miriam + Mora Tapinella + Scathecraw

Uses: When combating mages, the Dark Sovereign can empower his mace and quickly draining their Magicka and Health. What’s so great about this poison is it does 60 Magicka damage every second, and they aren’t affected by difficulty. The most powerful mage opponents (Arch Pyro/Cryo/Electo/Necromancers) only have 500 Magicka, so after 10 seconds they’ll have lost a quarter of their Health and their entire Magicka pool.


Curse of Weakness – Lingering Damage Health 30pts + Ravage Stamina 60pts

Deathbell + Mora Tapinella + Scathecraw

Uses: A similar poison which is instead applied to warriors to prevent them from power attacking, bashing, or running away. They’ll be limited to their base attacks, and unable to stagger you or your minions.

Gameplay -You’ll start the game with a basic Fury spell so you can level your Illusion immediately. Priorities are to get to level 10 so that you can start Dawnguard and acquire Vampiric Grip as soon as possible. During this leveling phase you should also aim to complete House of Horrors, giving you your weapon with some stat draining capabilities. 

Destruction should be trained with the money made from crafting potions, empowering your mace and preparing you for Frenzy Rune. Once you’ve reached level 60 you can leave that skill behind, and focus on the remaining five. Once you’ve accepted Harkon’s gift you should play as the Vampire Lord for a while to get three key perks: Power of the Grave, Vampiric Grip, and Unearthly Will. The former is mandatory, and the latter two give you your spell and reduce its cost by 33%. With the Altmer bonus and the Ring of the Erudite you can sustain a grip for quite a long time, giving you massive crowd control against almost all enemies. 

Vampiric Grip can be a lifesaver early on. Ever ran into a bear or sabre cat and been mauled without any chance of resistance? We feel your pain. Tougher animals can be a bitch at earlier levels, but Vampiric Grip nullifies their danger as you can simply pick them up and throw them off a cliff! If they get back up you can rinse and repeat.

After you’ve obtained Vampiric Grip, leveling Conjuration should become a priority. Getting the Sigil Stone early so that you can craft your armor at the Atronach Forge is a must. The chestpiece can be acquired later in the Forgotten Vale, or from random Falmer encounters. Heavy Armour will likely need training, as it lags behind compared to other skills. Once you feel confident enough you should get to Solsteim to buy the Frenzy Rune from Talvas and get Seeker of Shadows from White Ridge Barrow.


Role-play - As for role-play, I liked to compare this character to Heath Ledger's Joker from the Dark Knight (RIP). He has no rules, no boundaries, and will stop at nothing to accomplish one thing and one thing only: chaos. This is the type of character you can do almost anything with, since the Dark Sovereign can justify any action. Feel like razing a town? Just practicing. Joining the Dark Brotherhood? Smashing faces is fun. Saving the world from a murderous dragon? Less competition. He's a mad man with no plan, and exists only to bring a little chaos into everyone's life. Vampiric Grip allows for some brilliant roleplaying oppurtunities, and if you feel like throwing Jarl Balgruuf off of a cliff, do it! He might just glitch out and get stuck down there. Chaos is all he knows, and he's itching to introduce some anarchy in the most diverse ways. Just make sure you do so with as much cheerful sadism as possible, and you'll certainly have as much fun as we did!

Curse took a more lawful evil approach with his play through as a Dark Sovereign who sees himself as a savior, in a twisted sense of the word. Chaos is still the order of the day, and this RP angle is just as boundless as my more chaotic evil approach. Here the dark sovereign seeks to purge the world of the influence of the Divines, and does so by wreaking havoc to show the world how absent from this world the gods truly are. Every major quest and event in the game is seen as something that can be used to further the Dark Sovereign's goals, or a threat to the plan that must be eradicated. Needless to say you'll be heavily invested in the vampire side of the Dawnguard questline. There you'll usurp Harkon's position and proceed with his diabolical plan to blot out the sun. It will truly seem as thought the world as we know it is ending as the sun is replaced with an ominous red void. 

Whatever flavor of evil you choose, one thing remains consistent: chaos. And oh the fun you'll have causing chaos throughout the land. You wont find a better character suited for razing entire cities. 

Gaze upon what I have wrought and despair....


Oblivion Grasp - The Dark Sovereign harnesses the dark energy that surrounds and binds all matter, and forcibly pulls a chosen enemy towards his location.

A classic death knight technique. While enemies are too busy slaughtering each other in the ensuing chaos, the dark sovereign can rip opponents of his choosing away from the fray and eradicate them one by one.

Requires: Vampiric Grip in human form


Divide & Conquer - The Dark Sovereign sows chaos and dissent among the ranks of his enemies, causing all affected to turn on each other. Afflicted foes lose armour and deal ever increasing damage to each other every second.

Sow Chaos allows the Dark Sovereign to turn an enemy's large, clustered numbers into a liability. This buys the sovereign some time to pull enemies away from the fray to deal with individually and also serves to make each subsequent enemy weaker than the last.

Requires: Marked for Death, Frenzy Rune, Rune Master


Soul Crusher - There are many ways to kill a man, but the Dark Sovereign knows that to crush a man's spirit is to truly destroy him. This sinister technique rapidly depletes an enemy's stamina and magicka, and prevents them from regenerating.

This vicious combination of debilitating effects renders a single opponent completely defenceless and tips the scale in favour of the Dark Sovereign. With power attacks and magic effectively cut off, no one enemy can mount a decent counterattack once he's been singled out.

Requires:  Drain Vitality, Bone Breaker 3/3, Mace of Molag Bal, Augmented Flames 


Legion of the Dead – Assembling an army of darkness and death, the Dark Sovereign leads his battalion of evil minions into battle alongside a mighty undead dragon.

Durnehviir in conjunction with the Ritual Stone makes for a formidable army when the need arises to match the numbers of a large enemy force. Best used outdoors, as Durnehviir can struggle inside. He is also capable of summoning his own thralls, further increasing the size of your dark army, and these merciless underlings can be strengthened further with Courage and Rally.

Requires: Ritual Stone, Durnehviir, Master of the Mind, Courage/Rally

"Prostrate yourselves before me and beg for a place in the new world I offer. Your so-called heroes and your gods struggle against inevitability - powerless to stop what is to come." 



  • The Dark Sovereign excels at decimating both crowds as well as individual foes. If you've ever played World of Warcraft's death knight class, you'll grasp how the Dark Sovereign functions fairly quickly. His abilities are designed to flow into each other smoothly, and if performed correctly destroy his foes with little chance of retaliation.
  • The inability to block is the Dark Sovereign's one glaring weakness. Most of your abilities are centered around diversion, debilitation, and crowd control. Use all of that to your advantage because you wont last long if multiple enemies form a united attack against you. 
  • Don't hesitate to use vampiric grip to halt the advance of a troublesome enemy. If terrain conditions allow it, hurl enemies off ledges and let the fall damage kill them. 
  • Always try to initiate combat with Divide & Conquer. It is an invaluable tool for taking enemy focus off of you. It also leaves enemies highly vulnerable to your other techniques
  • While enemies are busy slaughtering each other, use Oblivion Grasp to start pulling individuals towards you. Once an enemy is pulled into melee range use Crush Their Spirits to deal heavy damage and destroy any chance your foe has of effectively retaliating. 
  • Soul Crusher is especially effective against mages and dragons. Mages become utterly useless once their magicka has been sapped, and dragons are left with only their melee attacks. 
  • Speaking of dragons. Conjuring minions to distract the beast is a very good idea. Once they land use your minions to keep it busy and destroy the dragon flank. With minions distracting the dragon, and his breathe attack neutralized, a dragon becomes much less of a threat. Just be wary of the dragon's tail smash and wing attacks. 


Closing Notes and Credits:

First of all I'd like to thank Curse for being such a fantastic collab partner. He also made me a kickass signature down below, so thanks again! It's been a brilliant project and I look forward to the next!

Bryn, for posting a discussion on the glitch.

James' discussions on Ravage poisons and Drain Vitality.

HeroicXVC for his fantastic video.

A huge thank you goes out to Okan Zeeus for the amazing screenshots. 

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  • Ill finish this in a bit...
  • And done
    • Nope not done. There are a couple of pics that are blank and that opening needs some refinement.
  • The images are fine on my end.
    • When I said that there was a large pic near the bottom and an ability pic that were both blank. They seem to be fine now, so nevermind on that front.

      I still think the opening, as if it is Raidrar posting the build linking to another/dead site, could be edited a bit.
      • Yeah I do have to go back and fix that on all my collabs. Thanks for the reminder
  • A Mad Heretic: Ahhhh, good times man. Good times...

  • I'll have to take down the video for this since Heroic set the damn thing to private. Lesson learned: make your own build videos.
    • I would like to see Curse-build-showcases made by Curse.
  • I've been playing a lot of Shadow of Mordor, and everytime the Dark Lord comes on screen I can't help but think, is this build inspired at all by Sauron from LOTR?
This reply was deleted.