Most of what is known about the Legion’s dark soldier is merely rumors and hearsay, for no official records exist. Though the hows and whys are a matter for debate, sometime during the Great War, the Imperial Legion acquired the services of a powerful Redguard vampire. Known simply as the Imperator, he was allegedly a former member of the Crimson Scars, and was frequently sent deep into enemy territory for clandestine missions, performing admirably in each and every one. As a result of the significant disruptions he made to Thalmor operations the Aldmeri Dominion demanded his execution as a part of the White-Gold Concordat.
However, he managed to escape and return to his homeland of Hammerfell to continue the fight against the Thalmor. Following the signing of the Second Treaty of Stros M’Kai, he spent the next 21 years roaming across the Empire, evading capture by both the Imperials and Thalmor while simultaneously causing trouble for both parties as they tried to implement the terms of the White-Gold Concordat. When the Stormcloak Rebellion broke out, the Imperator travelled to Skyrim in order to offer his services. Unfortunately, he was caught near the border by the Imperials and hauled off to Helgen for execution.
Simply put, this is a build based on the unique properties of General Tullius’ Armor. It’s an interesting piece of equipment that, despite being Heavy Armor, doesn’t interfere with the Mage Armor perk. Combined with some other tricks, it can be used to create builds with impressive AR by Mage Armor standards, such as this one.
Race: Redguard gives a +10 boost to One-Handed and +5 boosts to Smithing and Alteration, not to mention that Adrenaline Rush is a great racial power for dual-wielders. Sadly the poison resistance goes to waste though, since vampires have poison immunity.
Stone: The Lord Stone’s defensive boost is pretty ideal, especially since Necromage Vampirism boosts its effects to 62 AR and 31% Magic Resistance.
Stats: 2/2/1. Health and Magicka are the big things here. Stamina is important as well, but it can be easily restored via Respite.
Shouts: Aura Whisper provides a nice alternative to Detect Life/Dead, while Throw Voice is great for stealth. Elemental Fury is an absolute must for open combat, as well as Unrelenting Force for crowd control. Finally, I like using Become Ethereal for safely moving into melee range and casting Mass Paralysis without any interruptions.
One-Handed: The Imperator wields a pair of Imperial Swords with deadly skill. Get every perk in this tree except for the axe and mace ones, focusing on Armsman and the dual-wielding perks.
Heavy Armor: As a result of using General Tullius’ Armor, this skill will level up, but there’s no point in putting perks into it. Juggernaut would be theoretically useful but for some reason it has no effect with the armor (though increases in the Heavy Armor skill do), and Conditioning simply isn’t worth the four perk investment for this build.
Sneak: As a creature of the night, the Imperator can blend in with the shadows. Focus on getting Backstab, Muffled Movement, and the first rank of Stealth. After that, max out the tree save Deadly Aim and Assassin’s Blade.
Alteration: Flesh spells are going to be the primary form of defense, while Paralysis is used as a lategame tool in the Imperator’s arsenal. Grab every perk in the tree except for Atronach (since Spell Absorption absorbs Shadow Warrior's effect), focusing on Novice – Expert Alteration, Mage Armor, and Stability.
Restoration: For healing, as always, as well as wards and Necromage, which, combined with vampirism, is the source of the Imperator’s power. Get every perk in this tree except Expert/Master Restoration and Restoration Dual Casting, focusing on Novice-Adept Restoration, Respite, and Necromage.
Smithing: Many long years on the road required the Imperator to know how to maintain his equipment. You’ll want Steel Smithing for improving the Imperial Swords and Arcane Blacksmith for improving General Tullius’ Armor once it's enchanted.
Enchanting: The Imperator can imbue his equipment with a variety of magical effects. Max out the center tree, grabbing Fire Enchanter later on.
In total, you should have 60 perks once the build is completed.
Side with Ralof during Unbound and you’ll be able to get a pair of Imperial Swords off the corpses of fallen Legionnaires before you leave Helgen. From there, you’ll want to do Destroy the Dark Brotherhood. Equip the Shrouded Hand Wraps (found on Gabriella’s and Festus Krex’s corpses) as well as the Redguard Clothes and Hood from Nazir along with his boots. That will give you your basic character appearance. From there, do the Main Quest up to learning the last word of Unrelenting Force, then go on to do the Stormcloak questline, and swap the Redguard Clothes for General Tullius’ Armor once you get it. The screenshot on the left is what the final armor combo should look like. Here are the enchantments you should put on everything:
Dual Imperial Swords (unenchanted)
Tagelmust (Redguard Hood with Alteration/Restoration)
Necklace of Swords (Necklace with One-Handed/Fire Resistance)
Garb/Armor of the Imperator (Redguard Clothes/General Tullius’ Armor with Alteration/Restoration)
Shrouded Hand Wraps (already enchanted)
Ring of Infiltration (Ring with One-Handed/Sneak)
Nightwalker Boots (Nazir’s Boots with One-Handed/Sneak)
First off, some combat pointers. In general, you’ll want to approach enemies from stealth, so you can pull off a sneak attack, emerging only once you’ve been detected. From there, cast a Flesh spell and then tear into enemies with your dual blades, healing as needed. Elemental Fury is the primary shout you’ll want to use, but be sure to utilize your full repertoire, as they provide plenty of utility and variety in combat. Finally, come lategame, Paralyze and Mass Paralysis can be used as additional crowd control, for stunning enemies you are too busy to deal with. Now then, let’s take a look at some numbers showing just how great Necromage is on a vampire. It’s been discussed to death, so I’m just going to keep it to some highlights.
- Necromage makes flesh spells 25% more effective, last for 30 more seconds, and the bonus is even multiplicative with Mage Armor. To put that in perspective, Ebonyflesh with three ranks of Mage Armor now provides 375 Armor Rating. Throw in the Lord Stone and General Tullius’ Armor (with a good Heavy Armor skill and some Smithing you can get this to 50+ AR) and you’ll be looking at nearly 500 total Armor Rating. That's pretty impressive for a Mage Armor build; you won't even need to bother with Dragonhide.
- Magical defense is no slouch either. All three ranks of Magic Resistance gives 37% Magic Resistance if taken after Necromage. Combine that with wards and the Lord Stone and you’ll be well protected against magic indeed.
- Next, let’s take a look at offense, in particular, weapon speed. Taking both ranks of Dual Flurry already boosts dual-wielding speed by 69% (the math is a little weird on this one) but using all three words of Elemental Fury with Necromage will further increase weapon speed by 112.5%, turning your character into an absolute whirlwind of steel for 22.5 seconds.
- Some other highlights include Recovery (62% with both ranks taken after Necromage) and your own armor enchantments (25% more effective). Not as exciting as the other stuff but a nice boost nonetheless.
Finally, let's talk about roleplay. Despite being a former member of the Crimson Scars, the Imperator isn’t quite as senselessly murderous as you might expect. Centuries of existence have sated his desire to murder for the glory of Sithis and the Night Mother. What consumes him now, is revenge. Revenge against the Dark Brotherhood that destroyed his order, revenge against the Thalmor who tried to have him executed, and revenge against the Empire that betrayed him. Nevertheless, he will not hesitate to use violence as a means to accomplish his goals. As far as his vampiric nature goes, he avoids feeding, or people in general. While he’ll talk and do business with them if he needs to, he won’t help them unless he has to. That being said, he spends much more time on the road than he does in settlements anyway. While he will kill any Thalmor in his way, he’s also on the run from them, and as such will do whatever he can to avoid them. As a part of that, whenever you're at the College of Winterhold, either avoid Ancano as much as you can or complete the questline to kill him.