This build was inspired by the Elder Scrolls Online because in that game they label Soul Magic as its own skill line. That go the juices flowing and then everything else just streamlined. This build makes use of a numerous things that many people normally overlook. When these things are used together it creates a build that probably will cause me to fail my Psychology class because I have chosen to keep playing this rather than studying on many accounts.
"He ran through the castle as if there were no walls, no enemies,
Left and right mages and their warrior guards alike fell to the ground.
The daedra they summoned disappeared into thin air.
The zombies they raised refused to fight.
It seemed like nothing would stand in his way, until he reached the last room.
This time the swing of his sword did not banish the powerful daedric warrior,
But that only meant there was more fun to be had.
After his failed attack he disappeared,
He reappeared with the swing of his giant axe before fading away again,
Then from across the room a series of arrows found their mark on the back of the daedra.
Finally the man became visible as he slowly made his way to his enemy.
Two swords were conjured into his hands.
Before the daedra had a chance to react he had both blades through his chest.
Every evil spirit that comes into Mundus suffers a similar fate
Because it is guarded by the Gatekeeper."
Stone: Ritual & Steed
Major Skills: Conjuration, Enchanting
Minor Skills: Alteration*, Archery, Heavy Armor, One-Handed, Restoration*, Two-Handed, Smithing
Shouts: Become Ethereal, Call of Valor, Soul Tear
Equipment: Assorted Dwarven Armor, Aetherial Crown, Bound Weapons, Staff of Magnus
Through a mastery of soul magic and the tapping into the true power of Aetherium, the Gatekeeper controls the flow of the living and the dead to and from Mundus. His tools for doing so range in a variety of weapons that he molds from the souls of the strongest warriors to his trusty staff. His weapons have grown so powerful that they are able to send the malicious daedra back to Oblivion with one swing and turn the most insidious of undead in their tracks. And with his staff he siphons their energy and converts it into his own. Typically men and mer cannot foresee the Gatekeeper’s strength and those caught in his way will receive a fate much worse than death, their soul is drained and trapped for eternity only adding to the power of the Gatekeeper.
He is able to invoke the force of the spirits he has captured, gaining their martial abilities to further add to his already profound skills of blades and bows alike. While being able to make use of other souls, he also has an immense control over his own life force. The Gatekeeper is able to generate a shield made of his own soul energy as well as intensify his energy to the point where it is visible and his physical body becomes nearly untouchable.
Conjuring weapons and manipulating souls are not the only feats the Gatekeeper is capable of. With the power of Aetherium, he is able to achieve enough power to open a gateway to Aetherius. Through this portal he can call upon the souls of heroes past to aid him in battle. Only the strongest of spirits are able to manifest in the plane of Mundus, others that are brought will inhabit the empty bodies of those who have fallen and lost their souls to the Gatekeeper.
Anything less than level 50 is usually odd for me because it just feels incomplete, but let me tell you that for only 40 levels the Gatekeeper packs the power of level 50, or even level 60, builds. This is what I have come to call a toolbox build. This basically means that it uses a multitude of techniques to be prepared for any given situation, but only uses the perks that are absolutely necessary.
The two skills that are really invaluable to this build are Conjuration and Enchanting, the two skills that actually make up soul magic. (Coincidence? I think not!) Conjuration is centered on the use of bound weapons. Up to Adept is all that is necessary to reduce the cost of all bound weapons. Necromancy spells are not really used because raising the dead is usually done through the Ritual Stone and summons that do not involve necromancy are done through powers and shouts, not to mention using bound weapons will level Conjuration efficiently on its own. But the necromancy side of the tree is still taken because these perks affect those raised by the Ritual Stone and Twin Souls allows you to have two spirits out at once which is always a good thing.
Enchanting is essentially where all of the Gatekeeper’s power comes from, and what Enchanting cannot fulfill is perked. Archery, One-Handed, and Two-Handed all bring something unique to the table that cannot really be recreated through Enchanting. First, Archery is the primary form of ranged combat and the extraordinary damage of the Bound Bow coupled with its speed and the Quick Shot perk allows for an outstanding damage per second output. Next is One-Handed, which is unique in its ability to have unusually high damage via dual-wielding. Dual Flurry greatly increases the speed of each swing and Dual Savagery will further augment the damaging effects of these weightless Bound Swords. Finally there is Two-Handed. This skill is unique because of Sweep; generally the only physical way to hit multiple enemies at the same time. Combined with the weightlessness of the Bound Battleaxe and Great Critical Charge, hordes of enemies can be mowed through in a flash.
Harnessing the Power of Souls
The weapons are not the only things that are weightless, the armor is as well. Thanks to the Steed Stone, the Gatekeeper can carry multiple pairs of the same armor all of which are lined with a different set of enchantments. Because there are no movement penalties along with this, Heavy Armor was an easy decision. Likewise, Dwarven Armor was an easy choice to pay homage to the Dwemer who were the ones to control the power of Aetherium. Surprising enough, with the Aetherial Crown you do not look like a robot compared to using the Dwarven Helmet. I digress, the sets are divided based on the offensive skill used, either Archery, One-Handed, or Two-Handed. With little to no perks, the power of the Gatekeeper’s weapons comes from enchantments. By enchanting four pieces of armor and jewelry with fortify enchantments, the chosen weapon will gain a boost of 160%, plus the 25% boost from their respective perk. The only thing to note is that Archery misses out on the head enchantment because the Aetherial Crown is used which means it only gets 120% from enchantments, but this is still more than just taking 5/5 in Overdraw and the Bound Bow already has a very good base damage rating.
Each set of armor has a set purpose and the enchantments reflect that. For Archery, first augment the power of the bow and then focus on staying on your feet. I found that one of the biggest assets was Resist Frost. With the advent of Frost magic in Skyrim this is a must, it means that you are constantly on the move and not getting dismantled by those over potent Ice Spikes. As for Two-Handed the most complementary choice is Fortify Block. Two-Handed is typically used in a crowd so it helps to mitigate as much damage as possible. And then there is the One-Handed set. This set is unique in that there is a long range of possibilities, except the only thing set in stone is Fortify Restoration. This is one of two skills that is used, but un-perked. Restoration is utilized for healing and creating wards, so by adding this to One-Handed spellswording becomes easy and you are not just limited to dual-wielding. Not to mention the One-Handed set is the set to use in tandem with the Staff of Magnus. Lastly, the other skill used that is not perked is Alteration. Every set of armor should be enchanted with Fortify Alteration so that a flesh spell can be cast simultaneously with your choice of Bound Weapon.
Thanks to the power of the Aetherial Crown, the Gatekeeper is able to access Aetherius at will. With the Ritual Stone locked in, the power can be activated multiple times a day by just re-equipping the crown. The Ritual Stone will raise all undead within a very generous radius and an even more generous level cap of 75. With Soul Tear also in the arsenal, the need for using reanimate spells pointless. The other great part about the Ritual Stone power is that when the time is up or one of the raised zombies die, they do not turn to ash. Which means they can be revived over and over again. This creates a devastating death knight style that allows you to go in head first with any weapon of your choosing and simply overwhelm the opposition. It is also a perfect partner for Archery because it will successfully buy you loads of time which is essential in most cases for an archer.
So what do you do when there are no bodies to raise? Call upon the spirits themselves! First is Arniel’s Shade which is an amazing summon. Offensively, he rips holes in enemies. Defensively, he is nearly invulnerable because he is immune to physical attacks. Once the main quest is completed, you get Call of Valor. I always wrote off this shout in favor of actual Conjuration spells because of how long it takes to get, but boy was I wrong doing that. I would suggest getting this shout as soon as possible. The three warriors summoned by this shout are all very capable fighters and will all bring something new to the table whether it be archery, magic or close combat, and each one can complement your style of choice.
Then there is the notorious Twin Souls perk. The problem with Call of Valor is that it tends to dispel any summons you have out regardless of whether you have Twin Souls or not. To remedy this, first use Call of Valor and then Arniel’s Shade. This allows you to have both out at the same time and wreak havoc accordingly.
Manifestation of Power
The beautiful thing about the Gatekeeper is its versatility. The playstyle of the build is ever changing. There is not one dungeon that you will run through using just one weapon. Hell, half the time there is not one battle you will not use multiple weapons in.
It is common sense that Archery is a ranged skill. And the set up really lets it take advantage of that. The possibility of multiple powerful summons means near unlimited time to do what you want with your arrows. But when you combine Alteration and Heavy Armor with Archery you have an archer capable of fighting at all ranges. This means all of you bow lovers can carelessly keep your bow equipped and shoot it in a close combat scenario. Is it the best strategy? No. But between bow bashing and Power Shot you can gain a lot of control and even fire quicker by using shorter draws.
With Sweep and the way Great Critical Charge works (it lets you keep sprinting and swing multiple times), it is painfully obvious that Two-Handed is powerful in controlling crowds. But when you add in the Block skills thanks to Enchanting, it also turns into a juggernaut skill. Again with Heavy Armor and Alteration, except this time adding in Block, this build can trade blows with most powerful individual enemies and is no longer centered on fighting crowds.
The last skill set is One-Handed. This is the difference maker because it carries three different aspects. The first of which is the Staff of Magnus. The staff is used for many combinations that use the enemies’ magicka in place of your own such as healing or just absorbing a little energy to cast a new weapon. Then there is dual-wielding. With weightless weapons, weightless armor, and Dual Flurry, this is a very strong and quick attacker that can take hits and dish them out ten-fold. But by switching the offhand to a spell the battle completely changes. The damage output takes a drastic drop, but tanking skyrockets. For starters there is the ability to heal freely now. Then there are wards. The thing people do not realize about wards is that they can block just about any spell in the game, even dragon breath, as well as add to your armor rating. It is a magical shield, it increases your armor rating just like a shield but instead of blocking physical attacks it blocks magical ones. When you add Ebonyflesh, Greater Ward and a fully upgraded set of Dwarven Armor, even without the helmet, you are sitting right around the armor cap.
As you can see, the Gatekeeper is capable of invoking the abilities of any warrior and preforming any role to the fullest in battle. The best part is switching through these styles in the midst of battle.
Become Ethereal + Bound Weapons
This is the most used technique of the Gatekeeper. This is a free way to switch weapons in the midst of battle with no risk. All bound weapons have a little hitch when they are summoned and it can be a bit annoying if you are getting attacked while your weapon is taking its good ole time becoming tangible. So to solve this, simply cast your weapon and right after activate Become Ethereal. This keeps you safe while your weapon is conjured and then opens up the next line of combat. If switching to the Bound Battleaxe or a pair of Bound Swords then a free Great Critical Charge or dual power attack is the reward as you exit Become Ethereal. If your choice is the Bound Bow then you have time to run to the best vantage point at the cost of no stamina then rain down arrows from safety. Using Become Ethereal in this manner can be a great way to parry blows and retaliate full force.
Staff of Magnus + Ward spell
The Staff of Magnus has a nasty drain magicka effect and once the enemy is out of magicka it takes health. While normally the staff is used in drawn out battles to make up for an empty magicka tank from switching weapons multiple times, it has great utility against magic users. I personally despise enemy mages so that is why I developed the Staff of Magnus and ward combination. This will completely empty a mage, or even a dragon, of magicka while making you virtually untouchable. The ward is basically casted by using the magicka of the enemy, so they lose magicka from the effect of the staff and by casting their own spells except none of their spells will damage you. And the combat of a mage or a dragon without magic is completely pathetic.
Army of Spirits
Aetherial Crown + Ritual Stone
It would be wrong of me not to specifically designate this as an ability because of its unrivaled power. With the Ritual Stone and Aetherial Crown it is possible to have every enemy you kill as a minion. Simply activate the effect every time you clear a room and when the timer on the last runs out. The result is a true army. If you do it right, and no one gets lost, they will follow you in an orderly fashion straight to the boss. Then you can just sit back and watch the fireworks as they tear through the enemy. This can further be combined with the last word of Call of Valor if you need some extra 'umph.'