Mods. I’ve been ranting for ages about the infinite possibilities that they offer to Skyrim character builders. What excites me most about modded builds is the chance to explore classes and archetypes that simply can’t be replicated with anything available in the vanilla game. So today I present to you an archetype I’ve been dying to work with for ages. So boot up your PCs and get ready to play my latest build....
Combining the might of the blade and the power of the arcane, a Hex Blade is a vicious force to be reckoned with. While certainly capable of fighting toe to toe, Hex Blades rely instead on their knowledge of long forgotten dark magicks to afflict their enemies with terrible curses, rendering their enemies weak, helpless, and inept
In many ways, the Hexblade is the antithesis of the Paladin. Whereas Paladins seek to aid and defend in service to benevolent gods, Hex Blades invoke chaos and ruin much to the amusement of malevolent daedric lords, to whom they have sacrificed much in exchange for the immense power they wield.
A Hex Blade is essentially a spell sword, and like most spell swords they’re skilled fighters as well as adept spell casters. But whereas spell swords use magic to augment their own capabilities, Hex blades instead use a variety of evil spells to cripple the capabilities of their enemies. The mechanics and concept of cursing enemies plays a heavy role in this build. In most fantasy settings where they can be found, hex blades afflict their enemies with terrible curses that leave them fighting at a mere fraction of their former strength..
In Skyrim this translates to afflicting enemies with a wide array of status ailments, via magic, that force enemies to fight with some pretty severe handicaps. Everything from slowed movement, staggering, weakness to magic, crippled defenses, confusion, fear, and far worse are thrown at your enemies. Anything that manages to survive such a malicious onslaught are fairly easy to cut down.
Race: Breton. The Bretons make capable hex blades given their impressive magic defenses. This gives them a handy advantage against enemy mages that warrior classes tend to lack.
Stone: Atronach. The Atronach stone is valuable for the +50 magicka as well as the 50% chance to negate all spell damage and absorb it. The spell *Discord has a perk that causes magicka to be replenished upon successfully hitting an enemy, so the -50% magicka regen becomes a non issue.
Stats: 1 Magicka, 1 Health, 0 Stamina. Stamina won’t be necessary for this build since our weapon of choice will ensure we always have stamina available. You'll also find that enemies can be weakened to the point where even a light slash will cause heavy damage. Instead, we’re going to evenly distribute points evenly between magicka and health.
Major Skills: One Handed, Enchanting, Illusion, Block
Minor Skills: Destruction, Sneak
Shouts: Drain Vitality (glitched version)
Spells: *Cursed Rune, *Discord, *Phantom Shroud, *Blight Curse
Powers: Secret of Protection, Dragonskin
Armor - Whatever you want. Go nuts. Since this is a modded build the choices as far as armor are virtually limitless. So I’m not going to list what armor to get. Instead I leave it up to you. Pick whatever you find aesthetically pleasing.
Gauntlets/Boots - Fortify Stamina
Ring - Fortify One-handed
Amulet of Talos
Helmet - Fortify Magicka
Weapon - Nightingale Blade
I am honestly quite surprised how rarely I see this weapon used in builds given how much potential it has. The Nightingale Blade bears a unique enchantment that drains 25 health and stamina from anything it strikes. One drawback with this weapon, however, is how quickly it can run out of soul charge. Be sure to pack plenty of soul gems. If the Nightingale Blade doesnt suit your looks, there are plenty of mods out there that allow you to disenchant unique weapons and armor.
So why use this weapon? Simple. Arguably the most dangerous status ailment the Hex Blade can inflict upon enemies is a severe weakness to magick damage. So what is already an impressive amout of magick damage in the form of health absorbtion gets taken to insane levels. Expect to deal upwards to 45+ damage of health absorb damage on top of the blade's physical damage. In the hands of a Hex Blade the Nightingale Blade is a truly terrifying weapon.
Forgotten Magic Redone is a spell pack mod by 3JIou and sward66 which adds 39 new spells to your game, each with 10 possible improvements to the spell, making 390 improvements in total. Spells gain experience as you use them, which allows you to unlock a new effect each time they level up. Up to 5 of these effects can be unlocked per spell. These improvements, as well as the spells themselves can be combined for potentially greater effects.
The 39 base spells are broken down into 10 categories. For the purposes of this build we’ll be focusing on 3 spells from the Mystic category, one from the Warlock category, as well as 1 spell from the Pyromancer category.. What follows is a brief description of the base spells in addition to a list of effects you must select for each spell as they level.
Cursed Rune: An apprentice Illusion spell found in the Mystic category. It places a rune which will deal a minor amount of direct magic damage, and afflict affected enemies with a variety of curses.
Curse of Pain: take 10pt extra damage on any hit for 30 sec.
Curse of Weakness: reduced attack damage for 30 sec.
Mirror Curse: small chance to trigger doppelganger spell on affected enemy
Curse of Susceptibility: weakness to magic for 30 sec.
Tanglefoot Curse: chance to slow movement by 50% for 30 sec.
Discord: An adept level illusion spell whose base effect is exactly like frenzy. But much like cursed rune, a variety of debilitating effects can be added.
Clumsiness: chance for each target to stumble over
Rage Eater: restores magicka to the caster if spell connects
Susceptibility: reduces magic resistance for all targets.
Phantom Pain: deals arcane pain damage to all targets.
Recklessness: reduces armor effectiveness for all targets.
Phantom Shroud: An adept illusion spell that shrouds the caster in an ethereal shroud. At its core, the shroud makes stealth more effective and grants the caster a small chance to evade physical attacks.
Vengeful Aura: chance of affecting attacker with fear when hit with magic
Wraithform: increase duration of Phantom Shroud.
Phantasmagoria: increase duration of Illusion spells by 50%.
Dread Aura: chance of affecting attacker with fear when hit with physical attacks
Elusiveness: improved chance of evading an attack.
Blight Curse: An apprentice destruction spell that curses an enemy causing 7 points of disease damage per second.
Bond of Corruption: if the target dies under the effect of Blight Curse, spreads the curse to all nearby enemies.
Soul Reaper: if the target dies under the effect of Blight Curse, increases caster's spell damage by 10% for 10 min. Stacks up to 3 times.
Siphon Vitality: siphons 4-8 health from the target to the caster on each tick.
Lingering Pain: increases duration by 50%, casting cost by 25%.
- Mark of Death: May cause target to periodically stagger.
Doppelganger: An illusion spell, found in the Pyromancer category, that summons a fiery shade in the shape of the affected enemy. This spell has a small chance of being casted automatically against enemies hit by cursed rune.
Cauterize: restores health equal to 2% of target's total each second for 10 sec. If the effect ends with caster below 50% health, restores an additional 10% health.
Devouring Flames: recover 5-10 magicka per sec. as long as the target attacks the doppelganger.
Phantom Pain: target takes 5-10 damage per sec. as long as it is not attacking the caster.
Immolate: decreases target melee damage 30% for duration.
If this is all flying over your head dont worry. Take a look at this quick video recap on Forgotten Magic Redone.
You will want to join the College of Winterhold as soon as you can. Although spells included within Forgotten Magic can be found anywhere, it’s much quicker to buy them from the college. Forgotten Magic spells use an experience point system that rewards experience towards mastering spells as you use them. If you’re the impatient type, the exp rate can be modified in the MCM menu. You’ll be almost entirely dependent on your sword until you invest some levels into those Forgotten Magic spells.
All of the spells utilized for this build fall under the Illusion category, so expect to master Illusion very quickly. Overall skill progression should come quite quickly as you’ll be using your major skills quite frequently. You may ask yourself, however, why include sneak perks in a warrior/mage build like this. The reason goes once again back to luck. The ability to wade through deadly traps without triggering anything is as much as useful perk as it is a great roleplay mechanic.
As you get further along you should join the thieves guild quest line to gain the best version of the Nightingale Blade. Prior to that you should enchant a blade with an absorb health enchantment. The glitched version of Drain vitality can be gained simply by learning Marked for Death, provided you have the Dawnguard DLC.
Touch of Malice - Weave a malicious hex that deals magic damage and curses enemies with a multitude of horrific ailments. Possible ailments include: slow, reduced attack, reduced armor, reduced magic defense, rag dolling, frenzy, and more.
Requires: Cursed Rune, Discord
This combination lets you quickly inflict enemies with a wide array of debilitating status ailments. Each ailment from cursed rune and discord have a certain percentage chance of occurring, and a few are voided entirely if the enemy is resistant to that particular effect. Every successful hit with disord will replenish a large chunk of magicka which is useful since this combination costs a considerable chunk of magicka. So as long as you're hitting something you'll always have enough magicka to keep the havoc coming.
Entropic Curse - Creates a sinister parasitic bond between the caster's life force and that of their victim. With each passing moment the enemy slowly loses health and may stumble over in pain, all the while the caster gradually heals. Should the enemy be slain while under the effects of this hex it will jump to a new target and sharply increase the caster's spell damage.
Requires: Touch of Malice, Blight Curse
A nasty follow up to Touch of Malice. Thanks to their new found weakness to magick any enemy hit with this will be drained of 10-15 health per second while periodically stumbling over as if staggered. Killing the affected enemy causes the curse to leap to all surrounding enemies and also amplify your spell damage by 10% each time, up to 3 times.
Misdirection Hex- A sinister hex that seeks to confuse its victims with illusory shades. Should the enemy fail to see through this ruse and attack the shades rather than the caster, they are severely weakened while the caster gains a significant regen bonus.
Requires - Cursed Rune, Doppelganger
If you’re lucky, using cursed rune will auto trigger the doppelganger spell against the affected enemy. The doppelganger comes with all the perks you selected from the doppelganger spell itself. So long as the doppelganger is being targeted instead of you, you enjoy a sharp increase in health and magicka regen.
Bane of Life- A hex blades weapon is an unholy, unnatural thing that steals life from its victims, leaving wounds that never heal. Each strike from your blade steals health and stamina over time from your enemies that cannot be regenerated. Enemies cursed by Touch of Malice lose significantly more health and stamina per strike.
Requires: Malice, Drain Vitality, Nightingale Blade
Touch of Malice will make your enemies weaker to magick effects, which in turn will make health and stamina draining effects of the Nightingale Blade much deadlier. To top it off, the Drain Vitality shout will keep the enemies health and stamina from regenerating, which will quickly deprive warriors of the ability to execute power attacks or run.
Aura of Despair- Shroud yourself in a malevolent aura that devours magick and repels physical blows. As your enemies begin to realize the futility in their attacks they may become stricken with fear and run away. Enemies slowed by Malice will be too slow to flee.
Requires - Secret of Protection, Dragonskin, Atronach Stone, Phantom Shroud
It is easy enough for a hex blade to weaken the impact of physical attacks, but there's nothing in their arsenal to weaken the damage of magick users. It's best to save this for battles against powerful magic users. The combination of the atronach stone and Dragonskin racial power will negate all magic damage, and Secret of Protection will halve all physical attacks. Any enemy that takes the bait and attacks you with anything may find themselves stricken with fear.
Touch of Malice should be used right away in every battle to weaken enemies, making their attacks less threatening and thier defenses easier to penetrate. Every other combination builds off of the devastation left by Touch of Malice so use often. The Hex Blade wont last very long against most enemies fighting at their full strength, but against weakened foes the Hex Blade becomes an offensive powerhouse, so its imperative to keep enemies weakened to maintain your advantage. Keep in mind the spells within Touch of Malice are still just illusion spells, and as such their efficacy is based on the targets level. Regardless of the enemy's level Touch of Malice is guaranteed to successfully reduce physical and magic defenses.
Entropic Curse should follow up Touch of Malice when fighting groups of 3 or more enemies. Killing the enemy affected by Entropic Curse will cause the effect to leap to new targets. The random staggering enemies will suffer should help out tremendously against large groups, and your amplified spell damage only serves to further widen the gulf between your spell damage and the enemy's crippled magick defenses.
Bane of Life is where the Blade part of a Hex Blade comes into play. Because enemies are now weak to magick, an absurd amount of health and stamina will be stolen with every attack. Touch of Malice has a chance of slowing enemies down, and Bane of Life ensures they cannot regenerate stamina, meaning some enemies will find themselves slowed down to a pitiful crawl.
Save Aura of Despair for fights against powerful magic users. You only get one chance a day to use it. Despite a large arsenal of status conditions you can inflict upon enemies, nothing else you do will reduce damage dished out by enemy mages. Aura od Despair will temporarily nullify enemy spells and possibly afflict them with fear.
If you’re going to bring along followers always take mages or archers. Melee followers will only end up getting caught within your abilities. Even marginally effective mages such as Serana benefit tremendously from your ability to weaken magick defense. If you decide instead to take an archer along, I recommend enchanting their bow with any magick effect that deals direct damage. Your abilities and their attacks will mean huge bonus damage for them.
Hex Blades bear an unsavory reputation among scholars of magick, given their knowledge of the dark arts and propensity to use said knowledge for personal gain. While rarely entirely evil, they are by no means entirely committed to acts of good for its own sake. Hex blades typically care little for what is evil and what is just, fighting solely for whatever cause aligns best with their personal interests. Like spellswords a hex blade's moral alignment and purpose is as flexible as their skillset.
That being said, I envisioned and role-played my hex blade as a light hearted adventurer with a penchant for mischief making and treasure hunting. I ventured through Skyrim seeking powerful magick artifacts, unconcerned with the potential danger. With that anything from the Thieves Guild to random dungeon crawls could be justified. Luckily, there's no shortage of magick relics to hunt down in Skyrim. With this objective in mind it was easy to justify taking on just about all types of quests and adventuring alongside all sorts of characters.
Like all practitioners of the arcane, I joined the College of Winterhold. As luck would have it there is a superb mod called Immersive College of Winterhold that does wonders to make your time in the college a far more immersive experience. And of course all the mysteries surrounding the Eye of Magnus among other strange phenomena are too intriguing for any mage type to pass up.
Along my playthrough journey I also found myself joining the Thieves Guild. You might ask how does this work from a roleplay perspective, which is a fair question. It would not be unusual for a hex blade to seek out powerful weapons tied to the Daedric Princes, and the Nightingale Blade is one such weapon.
YY Animation Replacer - Mystic Knight - An excellent animation pack geared towards mages and spell swords. Completely does away with the awkward cave man like stance of the vanilla game.
Immersive College of Winterhold - The ICoW mod completely revamps every aspect of the college from the ground up. Schedules are revamped, new rooms, exhibits and study areas have been added, and the senior professors have access to far more powerful spells - So they truly look and feel like masters of their chosen school of magic. All n' all, ICoW makes the College of Winterhold truly feel like an actual, serious college for magical study.
Enchanted Arsenal - This mod gives you complete and total freedom to customize the appearance and visual effects of all weapon enchantments. So now you can complete your dark look by giving your weapon some very ominous looking effects.
EzEs - Artifact Disenchantment - A simple mod that allows most unique enchantments, to include the nightingale blade's, to be disenchanted and applied to other items.
A huge shout out and thank you goes out to 3JIou and sward66 of the Skyrim Nexus community for creating the Forgotten Magic mod.
I hope you all enjoy this build. Please stay tuned for more builds