Two necromancers, a master and apprentice, stood in a dank, musty crypt. Before them lay a nondescript coffin, largely intact despite having centuries to decay, but otherwise ordinary. The elder mage began to speak.
“This is it. We’ve finally found him.”
The younger mage sighed in response. “Are you going to tell me why you dragged us out here now?”
His counterpart had an explanation ready. “The Reman Dynasty consisted of five known rulers: Reman I, Brazollus Dor, Kastav, Reman II, and Reman III, hence why there’s five tombs in Sancre Tor. However, historical records show that Reman II died in 1E 2851, yet Reman III wasn’t crowned until 1E 2977, an unusual 26 year gap that has left scholars of later eras puzzled. But after decades of searching I’ve finally found the answer. A sixth emperor ruled in the years between Reman II and Reman III.”
“A forgotten emperor of the Reman Dynasty?”
“Indeed.” The older mage replied. “During his reign, he committed many atrocities in order to solidify his rule of the empire and to continue the Four-Score War against Morrowind. He raised armies of undead and daedra to fight in his name, and all of Tamriel feared him. This fear turned to rebellion, and eventually the Emperor was slain by his own battlemage. After he died, the Imperial Council was restored, which then crowned Reman III and ordered a damnatio memoriae of the dead emperor.
“It’s a Nedic phrase that literally means “damnation of memory.” During the reign of the Reman dynasty, it was a form of judgment that the Imperial Council would pass upon those that dishonored the empire. Any trace of the offending person’s existence would be stricken from history, so that later generations would not even know their name. For the most part, they were very successful, for as far as we know, you and I are the only ones who know of this emperor’s existence.”
The apprentice mulled over the new information his master provided him. “Raising armies of undead and daedra, terrorizing the people of the very empire he ruled, this emperor sounds an awful lot like the Wolf Queen. I’ve heard rumors of another cabal trying to resurrect her.”
“Indeed, but Potema’s strength is nothing compared to the mighty warlord before us. Once we resurrect him, I shall make him my thrall, and then we shall have a servant with unmatched power!” The necromancer gloated. “I have a spell here that will dispel the ward surrounding his coffin. Once that’s dealt with we can proceed with the resurrection.”
The mage muttered an incantation and loosed his spell upon the coffin. At first, nothing happened. Then the coffin burst open, sending pieces of the container flying. One of the shards struck the younger necromancer in the throat, leaving him unable to speak and bleeding out fast.
The remaining mage gasped in horror. “Impossible! You should be dead!”
“Not dead, just sealed away.” replied the dark figure that arose from the coffin. “My battlemage lacked the power to kill me, but he managed to seal me in this coffin. My vampiric blood has kept alive ever since. But now I am free, and my first thrall has already presented himself.”
The necromancer could only scream as the Emperor tore the soul from his very body and turned him into a thrall.
The Forgotten Emperor
Apologies for the long backstory, but I felt it necessary to convey the lore behind the build. With this build, I wanted to create an absolute master of the battlefield, capable of controlling both allies and enemies, yet was a capable fighter in its own right. The Forgotten Emperor is a powerful warlord, capable of fighting off many a foe with sword and shield, but this build at heart is a malicious commander of daedra, undead, and other unnaturals. Capable of supporting his army with powerful Illusion spells to enhance his allies’ prowess while sending his enemies’ forces into disarray, the Emperor is always in absolute control of the battlefield.
Race: The Reman rulers were likely Imperial, so the Forgotten Emperor is likely Imperial as well. As far as gameplay goes, they provide some nice skill boosts for the build (+10 Restoration, +5 One-Handed, Block, Heavy Armor, and Enchanting) as well as the Voice of the Emperor power. Regardless of your choice of race, you’ll want to become a vampire for the Illusion bonus and synergy with Necromage.
Stone: The more bodies the Forgotten Emperor can raise, the better, making the Ritual Stone the ideal choice.
Stats: 2/2/1. The Forgotten Emperor relies on all three stat areas pretty evenly, but good use of Respite lets you invest less in Stamina.
Shouts: Soul Tear is an excellent shout to use since it makes the target a zombie under your control, as is Summon Durnehviir, since the eponymous dragon will raise more servants to do your bidding. The last shout in the Emperor’s repertoire is Battle Fury, which speeds up the weapon strikes of all allies. Also, while these aren’t dragon shouts, Bardic Knowledge and Companion’s Insight are both great abilities for those with the Dragonborn DLC.
Conjuration: Novice – Expert Conjuration, Summoner (2/2), Atromancy, Elemental Potency, Necromancy, Dark Souls, Twin Souls.
Easily the most important skill to the build, as the Forgotten Emperor needs to be capable of bringing all sorts of beings under his command. However, with such a wide variety at his disposal, the Emperor must carefully choose which minions to bring into battle; more on this later.
Illusion: Novice – Master Illusion, Illusion Dual Casting, Animage, Kindred Mage, Hypnotic Gaze, Aspect of Terror, Rage, Master of the Mind.
The other half of the Emperor’s ability to command the battlefield, Illusion is used for Fear spells to drive off enemies for the minions to hunt later, and Rally spells to boost their abilities, with your vampiric blood making the spells 25% more effective. Keep in mind that Rally spells will require Master of the Mind to work on your undead and daedra, so you’ll want to spam Muffle spells when wandering around to get to 90 Illusion as soon as possible. Also, Courage, Rally, and Call to Arms all stack with one another, so keep that in mind when buffing your allies and minions.
Restoration: Novice – Adept Restoration, Respite, Regeneration, Necromage, Recovery (2/2), Avoid Death.
The Heal Undead spells added by Dawnguard help support your minions while traditional healing spells will keep yourself healthy. For those with the Dragonborn DLC, the Poison Rune spell is a great weapon in your arsenal; it stacks and your undead minions will resist it. Finally, Necromage makes every spell you cast on your undead minions more effective, as well as those cast on yourself due to your status as a vampire.
One-Handed: Armsman (5/5).
For opponents that manage to make their way past the Emperor’s minions and challenge him themselves, the Forgotten Emperor is more than capable of fighting them off himself. All you need here are ranks in Armsman to keep the damage done competitive throughout the playthrough.
Block: Shield Wall (1/5), Quick Reflexes, Deflect Arrows, Elemental Protection, Power Bash, Deadly Bash, Disarming Bash.
Against particularly difficult opponents that the Emperor has to face in close quarters, he uses a shield for both blocking and bashing. With Elemental Protection, he’s also capable of protecting himself against magical attacks.
Heavy Armor: Juggernaut (5/5), Well Fitted.
The Forgotten Emperor prefers heavier plate armor for keeping himself protected. Only the AR boosting perks are necessary.
Enchanting: Enchanter (5/5), Fire Enchanter, Insightful Enchanter, Corpus Enchanter, Extra Effect.
The Emperor is capable of imbuing his arms and armor with magical effects to assist him in combat. He can also enchant the equipment of any dead thralls he might choose to raise.
You should be at level 60 once the build is complete.
Ferrum (Imperial Sword – Absorb Magicka/Fear)
Palladium (Imperial Shield – Resist Magic/Block)
Visage of the Warlord (Imperial Closed Helm – Illusion/Conjuration)
Amulet of Fallen Kings (Bone Hawk Amulet – Resist Magic/Restoration)
Armor of Corruption (Ebony Armor – Conjuration/Illusion)
Reman Gauntlets (Steel Plate Gauntlets – One-Handed/Heavy Armor)
Ring of Cruelty (Bone Hawk Ring – Resist Magic/Restoration)
Reman Boots (Steel Plate Boots – One-Handed/Resist Fire)
Second effect listed is the effect added with Extra Effect. Ferrum is simply too awesome a sword; the Absorb Magicka effect was great for keeping my magicka reserves up, and the Fear effect would send enemies running helplessly away while my minions beat them up. For recharging it, I used the Soul Trap spell with the Black Star for Conjuration experience. The Imperial Closed Helm can be found at the foot of a Shrine of Talos on a path south of Froki’s Shack. I originally wanted to use an Ebony Shield for this build; however, there’s a glitch that causes it to become invisible when equipped by a vampire character. PC players who have that patched should use the Ebony Shield though.
Naturally, being a long lost ruler of Tamriel makes for some interesting roleplay opportunities. I played my Emperor as an ambitious and power hungry individual, aiming to strengthen himself for when the time comes for him to reclaim an Empire he saw as rightfully his. This led me to do the following questlines:
Main Quest: The Reman Emperors were Dragonborn, so it’s only fitting that the Forgotten Emperor pursues his own destiny as Dragonborn. Besides, you can’t have Alduin running around if you want to rule the Empire.
College of Winterhold: Basic membership is nice to have here so the Emperor can develop his magical prowess.
Volkihar: Pursuing this questline enables the Emperor to acquire some dark and powerful spells like the Soul Cairn summons and Soul Tear.
Dragonborn: Hermaeus Mora has some wonderful gifts in store for the Emperor if he agrees to do his bidding.
Civil War: Now this is where the Emperor truly shines. Casting Rally spells on his allies while using Fear against his enemies all while resurrecting corpses from both sides; this is what the Forgotten Emperor is all about. You’ll want to join up with the Imperials; can’t have Skyrim seceding from your future Empire after all. As this questline is best experienced with the Emperor’s lategame abilities, I recommend making it one of your last questlines.
Dark Brotherhood: Killing the reigning Emperor is an important step in taking over the Empire, but also one of the last. As such, you should make it your final questline. Usage of Invisibility and Muffle will make it easier for you to sneak up on your targets without sneak.
As mentioned earlier, a big part of playing the Forgotten Emperor is knowing which minions to use. Here I have broken down my favorite types of undead and daedra that I used and when I used them.
Reanimated Corpses: This depends mostly on what you have available to raise. If there’s a strong corpse lying around (or alternatively, a bunch of corpses available for raising with the Ritual Stone), then go for it. Otherwise, I recommend something else.
Flame Atronachs: In the early going, these are your best bet for ranged offense, particularly against frost dragons. Upon reaching the Soul Cairn though, I advise swapping them out for…
Bonemen: These archers are my favored ranged offense minions, since they aren’t stuck with novice/apprentice level destruction spells like Flame Atronachs and Mistmen, not to mention that the magicka cost for summoning them is cheap. They also seem to have an easier time hitting dragons.
Frost Atronach: When you first hit Adept Conjuration, these guys are your ideal frontline minions, especially considering how all the other Novice - Adept summons (except for Ash Spawn) are terrible for melee combat. However, just like how Flame Atronachs get phased out for Bonemen, Frost Atronachs get phased out for…
Dremora Lords: My favorite minions to use, and not just for their badass boasts either. They hit the hardest with their Daedric Greatswords of the Inferno, and that puts them at the top of the minion list. That being said, they do have some pretty stiff competition from…
Wrathmen: In situations that call for a more defensive approach (i.e. you really need something to hide behind) I prefer these guys due to the massive health advantage they have over Dremora Lords (900 with the Dark Souls perk versus a Dremora Lord’s 345). They also use more powerful Dragonbone weaponry (specifically, the two-handed ones), but lack the powerful fire enchantment seen on the Dremora Lords’ greatswords.
Arvak: Because an emperor’s gotta travel in style, yo.