I love playing characters that buck their racial stereotypes. The inspiration for my second build (thanks, BTW, for the positive response to my first one) was a bit player in the Summerset chapter of ESO—one of many high elves that are exiled from Altmer society simply because they have no family.
These outcasts live in isolation in the wilderness, with only their inner strength and reserves to carry them through a harsh, lonely existence. With this build I tried to bring to life how such an elf would evolve. Physically and magically, his enduance stems from the unique infinite magicka/stamina quirks of the Skyrim game engine. Psychologically, the Hulkynd exhibits a complex mix of antisocial tendencies, a desperate desire to belong—and very, very poor impulse control.
“The abandoned infant’s cry is rage—not fear.” -Robert Anton Wilson
Race: Altmer—the Hulkynd is an exile from Summerset society. The build benefits slightly from a few initial magic skill boosts; for reasons I note below, we actually need to slightly work around the natural +50 magicka that high elves receive.
Standing Stone: Atronach. We will get into how this stone is used to achieve the "infinite resource" status that folks like Mason, Elysium, Curse and Teccam have used so effectively in some hall of fame builds.
Stat Distribution: All points into Health. The build achieves “infinite” magicka AND stamina, which requires you to leave these totals alone from the start of the game. An obvious bonus outcome from this is very high health, which helps given the build’s low AR (about 150 or so at peak) and lack of blocking. High health also synergizes perfectly with a powerful late-game special move.
Core Mods: Ordinator, Apocalypse, Lost Grimoire. The first two are basically requirements for the mod to function as written. The third is a spell pack used for a good deal of build mechanics as well. Important: If you use the Unofficial Skyrim Patch, you ABSOLUTELY need the mod that restore the fortify restoration “glitch” eliminated by the unofficial patch; while you're at it, restore the fortify marksman “glitch” so your main melee potion will function at full strength. Other mods mentioned later are not essential.
Major Skills: Alchemy, One-Handed, Destruction, Restoration.
Minor Skills: Light Armor, Alteration, Sneak. (Sneak is very optional--you can use those three points anywhere for flavor.)
Armor and Weapons: Player's choice of light armor and war axe. I will share my modded gear choices below. Ordinator provides a highly specialized experience for each weapon type; the war axe is all about constant power attacks, and the Hulkynd power attacks constantly.
Spells: A mix of vanilla and modded spells. For destruction, we are limited to Flames for quite awhile, then at expert level grab Bombardment and Scorching Hands. For alteration, we use Stoneflesh, Detect Life/Death and Greater Telekinesis. For restoration, we use basic Healing, Wards, Plague Bringer and Blood Boil. These are the spells for the core of the build; there are many other concentration spells but I try to keep my spell list manageable.
Shouts: I played a largely shout-less Dragonborn who was too busy brooding or howling with rage to master the voice. Note that this build gets very powerful, so I caution against using things like Slow Time or Elemental Fury that will make you way too strong.
Powers: Sailor’s Repose (Frostflow Lighthouse); Agent of Mara (from Book of Love).
Religious Claptrap: Blessing of Mara. This and Sailor’s Repose help power up the basic Healing spell, along with your alchemy. Remember to avoid the Julianos and Kynareth shrines, they will mess with your magicka/stamina totals.
In Altmer society, family honor is everything. Every machination and political strategy executed by elves throughout their long lives aims to improve their family’s standing, rank and privileges.
Having no family is grounds for permanent expulsion from Altmer society at birth. These Altmer are called Hulkynd--essentially they are a class of untouchables. They live outside society—off the land, in the wilds of Summerset, in a manner more akin to their Bosmeri cousins.
Our Hulkynd never received advanced Aldmeri education and magical training, but makes up for that with deep inner reserves and astonishing endurance. This is represented in gameplay through the infinite magicka and infinite stamina glitches.
These mechanics are covered here and here quite well, so I’ll be brief: In Skyrim’s game engine, if you achieve a specific amount of magicka or stamina, those resources will run down to almost zero but never run out. This enables “infinite” use of all concentration spells, power attacks, sprinting and focused aim with archery.
You can achieve these specific resource totals by stacking fortify restoration potions and resource-boosting items in specific combinations. Elysium has a whole table of possible combos in her Mane of Elsewyr build if you want to get deep with the math. Here is what I used, in the order listed below.
- Infinite Magicka: Potion of the Healer, Draught of the Healer, Atronach Stone, Ring of Magicka.
- Infinite Stamina: Philter of Healer, Draught of Healer, Philter of Healer, Necklace of Eminent Stamina (or Locket of St. Jiub).
You’ll need to hunt and peck in dungeons, alchemy shops and merchants for the potions and items. Never add a single point to magicka or stamina at level up and never remove those magic items once you don them.
With these mechanics in place, the Hulkynd is truly a force of nature in battle. He has nearly unlimited endurance, which drives an enraged axe-combat style that relies almost exclusively on power attacks. Wilderness life also taught him how to brew powerful tonics, deadly poisons and foul disease-ridden oils, and he uses them liberally in battle. He can also maintain concentration spells—basic healing, wards, utliity spells and a variety of fire spells—indefinitely; in the early game, magic mostly provides comic relief, but by the endgame, no one is laughing.
With mods, you can gear up however you choose. The build involves basic light armor, no shield and no smithing of weapons or armor, so most choices will provide roughly comparable base offense and defense. I recommend the following armor based on aesthetics.
Garrett Thief Armor - Mail, Boots, Bracers. I think this falls between elven and glass in strength.
Valdacil’s Light Armor Robes - Black Hood. I tried a LOT of hoods out with this armor, and this was the one that looked the best by far. No clipping whatsoever. It comes in all armor ratings from leather to dragonscale.
Necklace - Ring of Eminent Stamina or Locket of St. Jiub.
Ring - Ring of Magicka.
And for the weapon, a perfect aesthetic and roleplay fit:
Leviathan Axe - a new mod based on Kratos' new weapon in God of War IV. It’s gorgeous (designed by Ghosu, one of the legendary Skyrim weapon mod creators), and equally as important, Kratos is an outcast and kindred spirit of the Hulkynd.
Additionally, I supplemented this with gear to mostly live off the land, and spend minimal time in cities, inns and so forth. I kitted out with full Campfire gear, and grabbed a Field Alchemy mortar and pestle. And Bandoliers were, for me, a must have, so I could lug everything around along with all of the alchemy materials.
For a base of operations, I still wanted a hermit-like vibe, and the Snapneck Shack treehouse is one of my favorites. Highly functional, a stone's throw from Whiterun yet still totally isolated.
SKILLS AND PERKS
To me, builds are most enjoyable when you feel weak and vulnerable in the early game, then have notable breakpoints where you master skills and power up significantly. That was definitely the case here. The priorities are alchemy and onehanded--those two skills are the heart of the build. The only skill you need to max to 100 is alchemy.
Alchemy: The perks chosen grant stronger poisons (Poisoner), magicka and stamina regen as well as faster movement speed after drinking a potion (Stimulants, Crimson Haze), a “power up” for your chosen alchemy table (Advanced Lab), and a powerful armor debuff on enemies hit with your poison (Alkahest). A key perk is Bottomless Cup: At 100 Alchemy, a single application of poison will last for 10 consecutive weapon strikes.
Onehanded: The Hulkynd has zero finesse and swings for the fences—and with Ordinator, the war axe fits that style perfectly. The war axe perks ignore armor (Mangle), knock enemy shields to the ground (Shieldbiter), offer stacking damage boosts for successive power attacks (Wolfstooth) and let you build up to a massive power strike that will pretty much wreck anything in the game (Go for the Throat). The massive power of the axe is countered by the relative sloppiness of power attacking with a short-reach weapon. You will whiff a lot (or at least I did)—but when you connect a few times, it’s lights out (and I don't mean the quest in Solitude).
Restoration: The chosen perks boost restoration strength (Mastery, Edgewalker), offer some magicka regen (Descending Light), and enhance the function of wards (Vigilant, Antimagic Field). Antimagic Field is notable, in melee range with mages, your ward will just shut their spellcasting down completely. The character focuses on poisons and diseases, but undead enemies need a different approach and the Exorcist perk grants several anti-undead spells that offer some alternatives to your fire magic. Powerleveling restoration with infinite magicka is quite easy, but I mostly trained with Colette and Danica with my potion money..
Destruction: The lowly Flames spell is still pretty strong once boosted by these perks and alchemy, and the later-game expert spells are (obviously) stronger. This Hulkynd loves damage over time, and the perks all power up the DoT potential of your fire concentration spells. Unless you have infinite patience to go with your infinite magicka, you will want to train steadily with Faralda throughout the game.
Light Armor: The basic perks (Mastery, Light Armor Fit) toughen your light armor. The stamina regen from Initiative and Fight or Flight is largely useless with infinite stamina, but there is a reason we perk this tree: The real prize is the movement speed through the Windrunner and Survival Instinct perks.
Other/Optional/Flavor Skills: Alteration perks mostly just buff resistances and health; the Spellblade perk adds a nice four-second damage buff for your axe every time you cast a spell in the offhand. Sneak perks makes you sneakier. I chose to bring the build to level 50, which left room for flavor perks like Alteration and Sneak. You can redistribute these perks without impacting the build mechanics.
A few notable perk synergies:
Movement speed: Drink a potion, get hit. Windrunner makes you 10% faster in combat at all times, Crimson Haze boosts speed another 10% for 30 seconds, Survival Instinct adds ANOTHER 10% for 6 seconds.
Enemy armor reduction: Poison your war axe, hit an enemy. Alkahest debuffs enemy armor by 40% and both ranks of Mangle ignore another 50% of armor. Total: 90%. (This is awesome, but only sometimes--a lot of Skyrim enemies get tougher through higher health, not stronger armor.)
THE APRAXIC ALCHEMIST
If you're going to get in the drug game, go all in: I kitted out with no fewer than EIGHT (!) different potions, plus a collection of ingredients that power up one of the coolest spells I’ve ever seen for Skyrim. For assistance with alchemy, I refer you to Google--the web (and this site) offers you more knowledge than you'll ever need. I WILL point you to my one "tip and trick" for renaming custom potions (requires mods).
Plague Bringer: An AMAZINGLY creative Lost Grimoire spell. It imbues your main-hand weapon with a host of “disease vectors” from your inventory. The description is quite confusing: If you have any of the following ingredients in inventory, the spell consumes one of each and adds various 2-minute enchantments to your weapon. It ALSO gives +5 damage for each effect added. I generally just kept vampire dust, bear claws and hagraven feathers on hand for three of these effects, but you can get all seven effects (and +35 damage!) if you’re stocked up:
- Vampire dust = Damage 10 HP for 6 sec
- Sleeping Tree Sap = Paralyze for 4 sec
- Sabrecat Tooth/Eye = -100% magicka regen for 6 sec
- Bear Claw = Drain 30 stamina for 6 sec
- Hagraven Feather/Claw = Drain 30 magicka for 6 sec
- Ash Jelly/Wolf Pelt/Fox Pelt = 75% damage reduction for 6 sec
- Chaurus Egg/Chaurus Chitin = -100% stamina regen for 6 sec
The Apothecary: I skipped numerical values here; it all depends on the fortify alchemy gear you use. Note that with ordinator, potions are slightly weaker than in vanilla, while poisons are MUCH stronger with the Poisoner perk.
Inner Rage (Canis Root, Junier Berries, Hanging Moss): Fortify Marksman, Fortify Onehanded.
- Both of these effects work on your axe, so this is a very strong damage booster.
Outcast's Revenge (Imp Stool, Mora Tapinella, River Betty): Health Damage, Lingering Health Damage.
- EXTREMELY strong poison with Ordinator. In any fight I chose this potion or the Inner Rage potion, but never both.
Sunhold Tonic (Blue Mountain Flower, Wheat): Restore Health, Fortify Health.
- Everyone's favorite pick-me-up.
Song of Jephre (Abecean Longfin, Salt Pile): Fortify Restoration.
- Empowers your Healing spell and a nasty special move.
Ashes to Ashes (Nightshade, Glowing Mushroom): Fortify Destruction.
- Burn them with fire.
Family Reunion (Creep Cluster, Deathbell, Salt Pile): Slow, Weakness to Magic.
- Tenderize meat before roasting.
Stormproof (Snowberries, Fly Amanita, Hawk Beak): Resist All Three Elements.
- Reserved for dragon fights.
Draught of Dusk (Luna Moth, Vampire Dust): Invisibility, Health Regen.
- Death is highly overrated.
The Hulkynd’s standard approach combat is fairly straightforward: Quaff potion and/or apply poison, commence swinging.. Defense is low, but health is high. Wards provide an excellent supplement to defense; it is tough to use the axe and hold a ward at the same time, but I used wards frequently to rush ranged combatants and neutralize mages at close range.
Although he tends to hack first and ask questions later, he’s still cunning and approaches enemies based on type and situation. (Note: At later levels, many situations can be handled with just your axe and no help from drugs. A few sideways power attacks will set up your devastating signature finishing move, as noted in the special moves section. Truly, this build was a struggle in the early levels, but by the end I found myself holding back a lot of my stronger capabilities in all but the toughest fights.)
The Living—warriors/archers/beasts: Default approach. Apply Outcast’s Revenge or Plague Bringer and attack. Use wards on approaching archers to help with AR. When things get dicey, imbibe Sunhold Tonic as needed for Draught of Dusk to hide/recover/escape. At later levels, many situations can be handled with just your axe and no alchemy—a few sideways power attacks will set up your signature finishing move as noted below.
The Living—mages: Same as above, but use wards more liberally to block spellcasting with the Antimagic Field.
The Living—large hordes: if you cannot divide and conquer, do not hesitate to down an Ashes to Ashes and light the field up with fire spells. A single application of the Family Reunion poison does wonders for quickly dispatching Marauders, Briarhearts and other field marshals with your inferno of furious anger.
The Undead: For single targets or small groups, the Inner Rage potion plus a few swings of the Leviathan are generally sufficient. For larger groups or high-level draugr, Ashes to Ashes plus Bombardment or Scorching Hands will clear the field.
Dragons: A lot of patience, Stormproof as a cure for bad breath, followed by Inner Rage or Outcast’s Revenge and your axe. For truly monstrous dragons (one of my mods adds some doozies) I let myself use Inner Rage and Outcast’s Revenge together.
UNLEASHED FURY: Multiple Sideways Power Attacks, followed by Standing Power Attack.
The true strength of the Ordinator-powered war axe comes from the Wolfstooth and Go For The Throat perks, so your combat with the war axe should always follow this pattern.
With Wolfstooth, every sideways power attack adds a stacking damage boost to subsequent attacks, which is nice. But the kicker is Go For The Throat—with this perk, a standing power attack “consumes” all instances of Wolfstooth to provide a 50% damage bonus AND a critical bonus of 250% critical damage for each instance consumed.
That is INSANE. If you connect with three sideways power attacks, and then a standing power attack (not that easy to pull off honestly), that last attack will hit with 2.5x strength plus a critical bonus that’s 7.5x stronger than a normal critical strike. On Master difficulty, these finishing moves were wiping out 2/3 of a giant’s health (and I have mods that double a giant's health). A fair trade for a combat style that can be hilariously sloppy and imprecise.
SEETHING RAGE: Song of Jephre potion, Blessing of Mara, Sailor's Repose, Healing + Blood Boil cast simultaenously.
Blood Boil is a classic blood mage spell that drains health from you and your enemies at the same time. Quite strong, but the damage to you is fixed (20HP/sec) while the damage to enemies is variable. Pop a Song of Jephre potion and cast Healing and Blood Boil together; you'll be inflicting massive damage to enemies in range, and your Healing spell will outpace the damage you’re receiving. The buffs from Blessing of Mara and Sailor's Repose are icing on the cake. A pretty gross cake, admittedly.
FEEL MY WRATH: Ashes to Ashes potion, Greater Telekinesis, Scorching Hands.
My “game over” move for nearly all of the powerful single enemies. Greater Telekinesis lets you grab and hold enemies helplessly in front of you, Scorching Hands is a close-range fire spell that burns them to a crisp.
I only used this on draugr bosses, and even then I only used it a few times before retiring it.
ROLEPLAY / QUESTS
Unlike my Black Dragon build, I was free from detailed quest paths with the Hulkynd. I could just roleplay an unwilling exile who was trying to find acceptance in a new land. I saw him as someone with a very strong desire to fit in, very little ability to connect with others, and (if the names of the special moves weren't a hint) a lot of pent up anger. This offered ample opportunity for both tragedy as he failed to bond with those he met, and comedy as he constantly said and did the wrong thing at the wrong time.
I did questlines mostly start to finish and not overlapping each other, to represent his repeated efforts to fit in HERE and be accepted HERE, only to ultimately fail and try again THERE. I did the College questline first simply to unlock the vendor/trainers, but the order didn’t matter as much to the Hulkynd: Each community was just another opportunity to find friends and allies, but each attempt ended with him finishing his work and hitting the road.
After progressing through the College, Companions and Civil War questlines, my Hulkynd despaired of ever finding a comfortable home with others, and reluctantly accepted the burden of lonely savior that was being thrust on him by the events of Skyrim. Ironically, this is where he began to find true kinship with other outcasts—with Serana and Isran (Dawnguard), and with the refugee community of Raven Rock (Dragonborn). With a new inner peace, he was able to work with the Blades and the Greybeards to address the dragon threat—and of course, there was no one more prepared for the solo journey to Skuldafn and Sovngarde than the Hulkynd.
I hope you enjoyed reading and that you try out this build and playstyle, it was an absolute blast! Please comment on your experiences and definitely with any feedback--I'm still a rookie builder and welcome advice.