Contest Build: The Dead Tide

Ancient tales tell of a mutinous first mate and the successful ousting of his captain, spurred by greed and petty spite. Ancient tales tell of a glorious treasure found on an isle that can only be found by those who already know where it is. Ancient tales tell of the reward for his betrayal, a terrible curse afflicted apon him and his crew, their flesh falling from their bones and their subsequent fall into undead lunacy. Ancient tales tell that although the crew succumbed to this fate, the firt mate refused, and that he still sails the seas, upon a ship as black as night, looking desperatly to end his curse, and that he leaves no survivors. Many seafarers see this as a fairytale, a ghost story to scare young shiphands into obedience to their captains. Many choose to ignore the ghost stories. Well , you best start believing in ghost stories my friend... you're in one.

                                                           The Dead Tide                                                                   



Hi guys and gals, welcome to my entry to the contest and my first ever build here! I decided to go full on stereotypical evil pirate for my entry, inspired by my personal favourite villian of any movie(at least in the first movie :P) , the legendary Captain Barbossa. This build is playable on any difficulty and was tested on legendary.

Keeping this in mind, I had three goals for this build:

  1. Have a skeleton crew/ be a skeleton captain - One of the staple features of pirates in media and easy to translate into skyrim, giving us minions without having to cast any spells
  2. Making use of curses to debilitate enemies, another staple of evil pirates in media
  3. Make a capable swordfighter who doesn't instantly get destroyed when he leaves his minions baby carrier, because a baddass pirate should be able to defend himself



Born to poor dockworkers in the first era in the port city of Anvil, The Dead Tide got his sea legs at a young age. Seeking to escape his life of poverty, he joined the Imperial Navy with the promise of a better life at sea. While he enjoyed his time in the navy, it was not at all as glamorous as he had hoped, he looked at the luxurious quarters of captains with jealous eyes and knew that even with a lifetime of loyal service, it still would not be his, unless he did a bit of "extra work" and as such developed a habit of theft, both from the navy and from anyone unfortunate enough to be in his crosshairs. Stepping up his game, he began smuggling and selling large shipments of imperial owned supplies to criminal gangs overseas. During his service however, the thrassian plague was unleashed upon Tamriel by the sload , and in response, Bendu Olo formed The All Flags Navy.

The young sailor was naturally, conscripted into this navy and sailed to the mysterious Isles of Thras, where he and his peers slaughtered the sload and drove them to near extinction. The captain he served under however, did not return with the rest of the navy, as he had heard rumors of an isle off the coast of Thras, said to hold the great treasures and artifacts of the sload. Being a fair and honest man, the captain promised a fair share between the full crew, and rallied them to find the mythical horde. After weeks of grand tales and promises, but very little progress, the crew was losing faith and the young sailor had had enough of empty promises. Using his modest wealth from years of smuggling, he bought the loyalty of the crew, and in the middle of the night they stormed the captain's quarters, tied him up and left him marooned on a small patch of coral far out at sea. The young sailor found he had a natural talent for leadership and after a few days of searching, found the mythical vault of the sload. After infiltrating the seaside stronghold of shipwrecks, ocean predators and magical traps, the crew found gold and powerful necromantic artifacts beyond imagining. The sload however, were renwoned not only dark, evil magics, but for being unbelievably stingy, a lesson the crew soon learned after taking their loot and discovering the terrible curse the sload had placed on it. For years they were parched of thirst and unable to quench it, for years they were starving to death,and didn't die, food turned to ash in their mouths, and they felt nothing, not the wind on their face northe spray of the sea. Nor the warmth of a womans flesh. They were compelled by greed and now they would be consumed by it, and as the flesh slowly fell from bone, the crew gradually lost their minds, all but one. Slowly, rumors began of a ship with pitch black sails that plagues the ocean, a ship that releases a torrent of shambling undead maruaders, a ship that doesn't leave any survivors. But one has to wonder, if they leave no survivors, where do the stories come from?


"Find it, we did. And there be the chest... and inside be the gold."

Now the once young sailor has come to Skyrim, in search of a band of powerful necromancers said to possess a black pearl with untold power. He hopes to use this pearl to finally save him from the madness he has barely kept at bay for centuries, and to protect the shattered remnants of his mind.





20 pct. more perk points




Live Another Life (Came to Skyrim by ship)


Undead FX

Wayfarer's Coat

Warmonger Armory

The Witcher 3 Detlaff Coat




Race: Imperial

Born in Cyrodiil and serving in the greatest naval force Nirn has ever seen, The Dead Tide knows what his people are capable of and is proud of it. With Imperious, this will give The Dead Tide the following abilities:

  • Discipline: In armed combat, allies within 15 feet gain 150 points of armor and 15% attack damage.
  • Imperial Virtues: In combat, regenerate a random attribute 100% faster until combat ends
  • The Human Spirit: At level 10/20/30, you may make permanent changes to your attributes/resistances/skills

These passives are great for this build as discipline helps make your minions even tankier while demonstrating The Dead Tide's knack for leadership, and the combination of Imperial Virtues/ The Human Spirit does a great job of boosting your survivability

Standing Stone: Steed/Shadow

In the early game, while you are still building your crew, I recommend the steed stone as it helps you store an infinite amount of bones and as they weigh a lot, that is a huge help.

With Andromeda the steed stone gains the following buffs:

  • Gallop: When out of combat, increases movement speed by 40% and you regenerate stamina 50% faster
  • Explorer: Increases carry weight by 50 points and adds random nearby landmarks to the map
  • Unlockable Power - Bag of Holding: Open an extradimensional storage space to stash or retrieve items

When you get your greasy hands on the atherial crown however, I recommend storing the steed and switching to the shadow stone, for added combat and stealth effectiveness.

With Andromeda the shadow stone gains the following buffs:

  • Blur: Increases movement speed by 20% in combat
  • Hide in Shadows: When near a wall or obstacle, sneaking and sneak attacks are 20% more effective


                 magicka / health / stamina

1-21:               5               3                 2

21-31:            0               4                 6

31 > :             0              10                0

The Dead Tide doesn't cast spells but magicka is used to increase our skeleton count. Stamina is also needed because while being able to deal good damage, this builds damage comes from fast, successive attacks with stacking curses, instead of meaty attacks, so staggering enemies is essential for one on one fights. Health is good because while being "dead" we still need to live, don't we?




"Huh. Guy is a complete loon after all. Still, at least he has good materials"


Thieves Guild: A great way for our pirate lord to let off some steam and engage in one of his two favourite pass times:Theft. His skills and goals naturally align him to this guild, but he doesn't get the no kill rule, and won't follow it

Dark Brotherhood: Allows him to take part in his other favoroute past time: Slaughter. He doesn't really care about the night mother or sithis but all he knows is someone is paying him to kill people, whats not to love? (Also,use death's emperor here for tons of fun)

Blood on the Ice: Some loon is chopping people to bits? Sounds interesting. They have an amulet belong to the legendary king of worms? Very interesting.

Undeath: The end goal for this character, this is how he grows beyond his curse and becomes and immortal, unkillable, at least partially sane terror of the seas.

Rise in the East: It never hurts to squash the competition, so why not when given the chance to do so.

Generally any quests involving crime, money, pirates, the sea and necromancy are good for this character, and make sure you have an apple on you at all times to eat threateningly.



  • 3043308629?profile=RESIZE_710x


Major Skills:

Not every perk needs explained, heres the ones that might:

Conjuration: This makes the build to be the baddass skeleton captain it should be, and will allow you to bind skeletons to your will.

  • Bone Collector: Allows you to plunder your enemies broken bodies for "fresh" crewmembers, and you will need a lot of bones, so make sure to hoard them.
  • Dead Tide: Gives us access to five crewmembers at a time with 200 magicka, and I found this to be the perfect number, jsut enough so you don't struggle too much in combat, but not too many that you can't move when they block the way (which they do a lot btw)
  • Reap and Sow: Allows you to better hoard bones as said above
  • Fire Ritual: Makes your skeletons actually able to damage things and a lot of bones will translate to skeleton gods
  • Barrow Lord: Allows you to more effectively command your crew, though beware they're still pretty bloody stupid
  • Puppet Mater: Lets you to buff your skeletons with simple actions like blocking and attacking
  • King of Bones isn't really necessary but it's so fun I couldn't resist. It allows you to hijack one of your skeletons and fight as them, great for scouting or when you want to attack from safety. I recmmend contolling warriors as you can't cast spells when controlling a mage.

One Handed: This is what enables the build to be a competant duelist, with emphasis on dodging and exploiting your enemies.

  • Overrun: Makes this build much mor fluid and works well with our silent roll perks
  • Rogues Parry: Enables our dodge - exploit playstyle, rewarding us with critical hits for doing so
  • Falling Sword: Allows us to more effectively deal with low health enemies, which as you'll see The Dead Tide is already good at 
  • Windswept: Allows us to make distance between us and our enemy if we feel overwhelmed
  • Into the Dust: Lets us stagger lock enemies and get rewarded for doing so, giving us increasing damage and knocking the opponent down. After this you can place the cursed emporer for even more damage
  • Judgement: Allows us to keep our stamina high when dealing with trash hordes

Enchanting: Using his experience with curses, The Dead Tide has managed to weaponise his own horrible curse and to apply new ones to his enemies, not a lot of perks worth talking about here.

  • Gem Dust: Allows you to consume a flawless gem to make your enchantments better, so make sure to hoard gems like a real pirate should
  • Arcane Nexus: Splash the cash to make a powerful enchanter so you can make better stuff, fits well with the young sailor's approach to problems
  • Miracle: What allows the pirate to weaponise his curse, making a powerful enchanted amulet made from cursed sload gold na damplifying his curse

Sneak: Whilst being a member of the undead, The Dead Tide is still a thief at heart and thanks to his mutiny knows the advantages of suprising your enemy. Remember, your crew don't need to always babysit you, feel free to leave them behind and go full Sam Fisher on everyone.

  • Fog of War: helps a lot since your enemies will normally spot your crew first and helps you land the first blow in these scenarios
  • Dynamic Entry: synergises with Overrun and gives you a hefty damage boost
  • Clean Escape: allows you to return to stealth if needed by just running away and hiding while your crew handles the enemy

Minor Skills:

Pickpocket: Like said before, The Dead Tide still loves theft, and will use his theiving skills to place his cursed prize of sload gold in their pockets, subjecting them to his curse and stoking their greed.

  • Blood Money: Lets the build profit of his more violent side
  • Death's Emperor: Putting this in your enemies pocket bascially lets you one shot 'em normally na dis the basis for choosing this whole skill
  • Doomed to Plunder: The curse yet again takes advantage of greed by giving those you kill under it's effect some extra gold, making us a very happy pirate indeed.
  • Mutiny: The Dead Tide has already shwon his talent at this, now it's their turn! This is best used when placed on a powerful enemy i.e. a bandit chief and can be another distraction alongside your crew

Light Armor: The sea is not friendly to metal, and being a man of the sea and of theft, The Dead Tide appreciates lightweight leathers. This tree is designed to enable dodging and running away (I know, I know,not exactly the stuff of legend but it keeps us "alive")

  • As a Leaf: Makes it so no-one can stop you from booking it at the first sign of trouble
  • Keen Senses: Allows us to be stylish and protected
  • Evasive Leap: Shows the captain's agility and lets him jump to dodge attacks, good for stalling enemies while your curses and skellies finish them off
  • Wild and Free: Helps us run away whilst protecting us from any honor junkies trying to finish us

Block: A very minor skill, only used to dodge and stagger

  • Timed Block: Use when fighting enemies using regular attacks, as it can stagger them and provide you an opening
  • Quick Reflexes: Used against power attackers so you can dodge nd retaliate with rogue's parry



"Need to get a hat, a REALLY big one"

Early Game

Use leather armor to start with, then move on to a mix of theives guild and dark brotherhood pieces depending on what you think looks good, don't bother wearing self enchanted armor as it probably won't be very good, and in terms of weapons try and get a scimitar from the dainty sload as early as possible

Late Game

Wear the mourner's cap along with the wayfarers shawl and detlaff's coat along with a gold ring, rename them to pirate sounding names i.e. call the boots Landblubbers

You'll also have a lite stance change ability which utilizes two unique enchanted amulets, a gold amulet called "Moonlit Truth", and a silver amulet called "Cursebane"

Your weapon of choice will be an enchanted alik'r sabre (from warmonger armory) called Sload's Curse


Enchantments play a large role in this build and are what gives the build it's signature move, along with making it viable for legendary difficulty.

Key Enchantments:

Head slot: Soul harvest, imminent victory

Moonlit Truth: Siphon Health, Influence: Fear and Lichdom

Cursebane: Fortify One-handed, Grit

Gloves: Recharge Weapons

Ring: Link Health/Stamina

Sword: Threshold wail, Poison Damage Cumalative

Optional Enchantments

Gloves: Fortify one handed

Ring: Fortify Health

Chestpiece: Fortify Health, Magic Find

Boots: Fortify Sneak, Fortify one-handed


Special Moves:

Moonlit Truth: Cast off your shackles and let your cursed greed sully those around you

  • Requires: Enchanted gold necklace
  • Using this move drastically increases your survivability with both constant regen and good crowd control on weaker/low health enemies. This move should be used when low health or when facing large groups of enemies

Dread Duelist: Leave your cursed crutch behind and show them what real skill looks like

  • Requires: Enchanted silver necklace
  • This stance-change-lite  ability is what keeps this build versatile. You sacrifice your high survivability for high damage and infinite power attacks, recommended use isfor stagger locking and against small groups of enemies and against solo bosses i.e. giants and centurions. 

Pirate Charge: Catch 'em by suprise with a quick drop and roll then take off their head

  • Requires: Dynamic entry, Overrun
  • Used to quickly execute enemies in stealth mode or to close a gap and get the first blow on an enemy running at you, dealing increased damage against high health enemies, gaining 40% more damage from dynamic entry and allowing you to land a devastating strike

Lay Low: Lose a fight and run away, live to gut 'em another day

  • Requires: Dead Tide, Barrow Lord, Puppet Master, As a Leaf, Wild and Free
  • When things get a bit hairy, don't be afraid to sprint away, you'll gain protection form As a Leaf & Wild and Free, and on your way, tell your skeletons "All Fight", then just find a safe spot and sneak and block. This will give your skeltons some damage resistance as well as eventually making you go back into hiding.



The Dread Tide plays as a fluid mix of sneaky duelist/Evil Overlord and is a very refreshing and all rounder style of play.

You'll usually want to start combat in Dread Duelist stance, placing your cursed coin in someone's pocket, giving you the option to either gut them or use them against their friends. If you your enemy isn't pickpocket-able, start combat with Pirate Charge and then try and kite them while slicing at openings. Thanks to the enchantments on your sword, your strikes will get more dibilitating the more you land. If facing large groups, activate Moonlit Truth and try and whittle their health down as a group, making them more vulnerable to your fear enchantment. If it gets too hairy, use Lay Low to reset the fight and try again. If the enemy is targeted by your crew it would be wise to join them and slash the enemies back while they desperatly try to hold off the skeleton horde.




"Gotta get back on the sea some day"


Despite being based off of one of my personal characters, this took ages and has made me appreciate how much work and effort goes into making builds, and how much work everyone else on this site does. Thanks to Curse and everyone for hosting this contest, thanks to Ponty for his great character building guide and thank you for reading.





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


Email me when people reply –


  • A Barbossa inspired build! Excellent!

    • Yes, as soon as I read it, I got that vibe too and you really can't go wrong with Barbossa! Great job!

  • Awesome build, my friend! The use of a skeleton crew with this undead captain is genius! I've not yet had a chance to make my own army of skeletal minions, but I definitely want to give it a try now!

    • Thanks! Skeleton building is basically a hoarders dream and I love it

  • I must say I’m impressed with how faithfully you managed to recreate many of the elements of Captain Barbosa and his cursed crew. 

    • Thanks! I’ve had this idea for an evil pirate in my head for a while now and I’m glad I got too show it off

      • I’m happy that this content has brought out so much creativity. I do hope you make more builds in the future. You ought to join our discord server if you haven’t already. We talk shop about character builds all the time and it’s great having so many people to bounce ideas off of. 

  • Hey man. Beautiful build here, especially recreating Barbossa. I never thought of using Skeletons from Ordinator (hell, I've never even taken the first perk in regards to them) - especially using them as a skeleton crew. Only problems (unrelated to the Build itself), is you forgot your tags, and the Perk Spread is a bit hard to read for me. Great job on your first Build - and I'm loving the screenshots.

    EDIT: That and for the Contest, the Title should be 'Contest Build:', instead of 'Character Build'

    EDIT #1: That and add an Rank:Expert tag mate, great job!

  • The appearance, the playstyle everything was flawless in my opinion. I am already excited to test it. This build is a gem!

  • One of the things I'm loving about this contest is that everyone has managed to find a fun unique theme for their pirate. Looks like you've done a great job with the classic undead captain and their skeleton crew! Great aesthetics and flavour all round.

    My only complaint is that there's some minor spelling and grammar errors throughout which could be tidied up with a proof-read. It's by no means unreadable but it does break my immersion in your build a bit. I'd also love to see some more screenshots - perhaps an action shot somewhere around your Special Moves section?

This reply was deleted.