This build is a collaboration between Raidriar and Curse Never Dying
We have decided to take on one of the most infamous characters of the Elder Scrolls universe, Mannimarco. Not only is this a difficult character to pull off, but it was also once a creation of Mason’s, which made it doubly hard to produce a build that wouldn’t leave anything to be desired. But I think we might have just done it.
In this build we bring everything to the table; rich lore, unique game-play, intense role-play, and most of all, synergy. So with that in mind, let us tell you a story…
“Relinquish your form so that I may be reborn”
Race: Altmer Vampire. Vampirism plays a crucial role in some of the mechanics of the build, and help fit with the whole undead theme.
Stone: Lord and Ritual. Use the Lord as your primary stone and the Ritual under the Aetherial Crown for a massed undead army whenever one’s needed.
Shouts: Become Ethereal, Marked for Death, Soul Tear. Become Ethereal is useful for avoiding damage, and both Marked for Death and Soul Tear suit a Lich brilliantly.
Stats: 5:3:2. Magicka is incredibly important to this build, so pump that up early. Health and Stamina are less important
Major Skills: Conjuration, Alchemy, One Handed, Alteration
Minor Skills: Sneak, Restoration, Pickpocket
Weapons: Blade of Woe
Apparel: Aetherial Crown, Thalmor Robes, Jester’s Gloves, Thalmor Boots, Necromancer’s Amulet, Ring of the Beast
Quests: College of Winterhold, Dark Brotherhood, Dragonborn, Lost to the Ages, Volkihar
Mannimarco. No name quite inspires so much darkness and evil. King of Worms, lich, dark mage, deadly assassin, each one a persona of our ultimate embodiment of evil.
While it may not be the skillset you’d expect from an evil overlord build, do not be disappointed. You will have ample opportunity to exercise your inner commander of chaos as well as your stealthy shadowmancer.
First off we have Conjuration. Without this skill you would not be a necromancer, and thus not Mannimarco. Initially Conjuration might drag a bit, but mid to late game it will really shine. Obviously, we’re going full necromancy route, to allow us the most powerful zombies.
Expect to make use of a lot of alchemical concoctions during this playthrough. You’ll have a powerful array of potions and poisons at your disposal as Mannimarco, which act as valuable buffs for yourself and your minions, as well as cruel debuffs for your enemies. With a couple of unique recipes we’re about to give you, buffing your thralls will become much easier, and really bring out the best in your dead.
One Handed is taken purely for damage, and is used in both combat styles. Either sneaking in the darkness or basking in the destruction of your enemies, a dagger is your best friend. Using the Blade of Woe as your weapon of choice, bothering about healing will become a thing of the past, with every hit absorbing some of your enemies’ health. Sneak is used very offensively in this build; rather than hanging back and killing from the shadows, you can step into the light and vanish in a blink of an eye, to reappear with a recently made corpse’s blood fresh on your blade.
Alteration and Restoration make up your defence though aren’t necessarily restricted to this. Keeping up the damage is just as important, and both schools of magic provide just the thing. Alteration’s situational utility spells help massively; paralysing powerful enemies for free hits, searching out potential victims with Detect Life/Dead, and immobilising foes with ash spells that are just a little too close for comfort are all accepted into Mannimarco’s spellbook.
Restoration brings forth Heal Undead, a useful buff when you cannot be bothered to use a healing poison, as well as Poison Rune to slowly cripple enemies while they battle your zombies. Because undead are immune, the runes can be fired off like there’s no tomorrow, allowing for drastic amounts of DoT. Pickpocket makes up the final skill, and is solely used to plant poisons while sneaking. This tactic is very deadly when used effectively, letting you drop foes inconspicuously while sneaking.
"The faint glow of a dark power emanates from the pendant, like cold black tendrils clenching tightly around my hand as I hold it. My better judgment tells me to destroy it, and yet I cannot bring myself do what I know must be done. Rather, I find myself drawn to the amulet; compelled to study it and unlock its many mysteries. I know not whether curiosity or hubris has gotten the better of me. A part of me fears that it may perhaps be something far worse…."
Lich Form: Doubling your potential
This is mine and Curse’s method for really becoming Mannimarco. Before we proceed, you’ll need to know a bit about liches. To become a lich, one must bind their soul to an object, called a phylactery. Whenever a lich dies, as long as their phylactery is still intact, the lich can regenerate.
Something crucial to this build is the Necromancer’s Amulet. It is the ultimate symbol of Mannimarco, and really lets you become a lich. Once you put it on, you immediately start to feel the effects of Mannimarco upon you; Fortified Magicka and Conjuration at the cost of a loss of Health and Stamina Regen. This is the foundation of Lich Form.
Acquire the amulet as soon as possible. As soon as you reach Whiterun Stables, take the carriage to Windhelm and complete Blood on the Ice. Make sure you find the Strange Amulet in Hjerim and give it to Calixto before finishing the quest! Otherwise you’ll be stuck with a useless build which cannot fully accomplish what Mannimarco is capable of. After finding the amulet, wear it at all times, and get used to the lack of regen. This is the beginning of Lich Form. Once you get a bit further into the Volkihar Questline (I did this around level 20ish) you can start to become a full lich again.
Becoming a Lich is completed as follows; first, become a vampire lord by siding with Harkon. Duplicate the amulet using your favourite duplication glitch, and then give a follower both copies so you can equip them using the stacking glitch. This results in 50% Fortify Conjuration (nullifying the need for rank perks) and 100 extra Magicka at the cost of -150% Health and Stamina Regen. This is further enhanced by being a vampire and having Necromage perked, increasing the values to 62.5% Fortify Conjuration, 125 extra Magicka, and -187.5 Health/Stamina Regen. That means no passive regen for those stats, ever. Bask in it, as you witness the full extent of the power a lich can hold.
Conjuration is taken purely down the necromancy branch for maximum undead potential, excluding the rank perks due to Lich Form. Alchemy is the most decked out tree, giving us access to the most impressive elixirs. Green Thumb doubles your effectiveness with gathered ingredients, so your potions and poisons can be created en masse. The key perks of an assassin are acquired, allowing you to sneak well and kill from the shadows.
The Alteration tree is taken up to Expert for Ebonyflesh and Paralyse; the former creates a powerful defence when combined with Mage Armour 3/3, Necromage and Stability, and the latter is very useful for getting free hits on foes. Restoration is perked up to Adept for efficient use of Heal Undead and Poison Rune, as well as up to Necromage to enhance your vampiric prowess and increase the level of undead you can raise. Pickpocket is solely perked for Poisoned
The best bit of the build, in my opinion. You have two options on how to approach combat, each unique in their own way. Both can flow into each other, and be used multiple times in each encounter.
Death's Herald – The first style of combat is that of a typical shadowmancer, with a couple of twists. Sticking mainly to stealth, assassinating enemies becomes critical here. The focus is on how much damage you can do and how many corpses you can leave before being discovered.
With the Jester’s Gloves, Assassin’s Blade and Armsman 5/5, you’re certainly not lacking for damage. Combined with the Blade of Woe, one of the most powerful daggers in the game, you’ll pretty much one hit kill anything. Your weakness here is your lack of armour. Since you don’t have Quiet Casting, summoning up a flesh spell would reveal your position, and make you an easy target. So staying hidden is of upmost importance. Make liberal use of Invisibility, Fortify Sneak and Fortify Marksman potions in this stage, but stick away from the majority of poisons, unless you’re pickpocketing them onto unaware enemies. By the time you’re detected, you’ll hopefully have a couple of corpses to work with and have weakened the enemy numbers somewhat, so now it’s time to become the…
King of Darkness – Arguably the more interesting of the two combat styles. Focusing on debilitating foes while buffing your minions, this is not a path for the cowardly assassin. No, this is the path of the Lich King of Worms, Mannimarco.
Since you’re detected, it’s time to go guns blazing. Throw everything you have at your opponents, and don’t hold back. You ever wanted to feel like Voldemort, able to raze armies without lifting a finger? Then the King of Darkness is for you. Start with using the Ritual Stone. This raises all fallen foes in the immediate vicinity, and turns them against their former friends as mindless zombies. You could sit back as the army you created effortlessly decimates your enemies, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, this style focuses on active buffing/debuffing, getting in the thick of things while lesser mortals fight around you.
Firstly, begin with beefing yourself up with your strongest flesh spell, and coating your dagger with some deadly poison. Equip either Poison Rune or Paralysis in your other hand, as well as Marked for Death for even more carnage, and get to work devastating your foes with poison, spell and shout. Don’t forget about the powerful buffs you can apply to your zombies, and raise any opponents who happen to fall. If things seem to be going badly, you can always return to the shadows using Shadow Warrior for a quick getaway, leaving a final zombie to distract remaining opponents.
The equipment you’ll be using is fairly easy to acquire, and incredibly suitable for Mannimarco. Obviously you have the Necromancer’s Amulet (for Lich Form), the Aetherial Crown (for unlimited Ritual Stone), and the Jester’s Gloves (for assassinations). Complete the look with Thalmor Robes and Boots to really feel epic and evil, as well as the Ring of the Beast for a major boost to health.
The Blade of Woe is your weapon of choice, and is used for all purposes. The Blade required you to go fairly deep into the Dark Brotherhood questline
At early leves I simply went with the Shrouded Clothes set and the strongest dagger I could get my hands on. The apparel provides useful enchantments for a sneaky character, and can be found at early leves, making it a win-win.
These are a couple of cool poisons we made heavy use of. While I mainly stuck to simple one or two effect creations, these proved exceptionally useful in buffing your minions and debuffing your foes. Something to note is that the Lich's Blood/Intelligence poisons won't work on thralled vampires, since they have 100% resistance to poison as a living enemy.
Lich’s Blood – Damage Magicka Regen+Fortify Health+Restore Health
Blue Mountain Flower+Nightshade+Wheat
Uses: A simple poison used to enhance your minions, which can be harvested en masse with a Hearthfire House. Because the first effect is negative, this actually counts as a poison, so can be applied to other beings. Use it to buff up non magical zombies.
Lich's Intelligence – Damage Health+Fortify Magicka+Restore Magicka
Briar Heart+Ectoplasm+River Betty
Uses: The hardest of the poisons to create, so use sparingly. I recommend simply buying the Briar Hearts, which makes creation a lot simpler. Although Damage Health is a lot more impacting, it isn’t as bad as it seems because that health can just be healed up.
Rotting Curse – Damage Health+Lingering Damage Health+Paralysis
Human Flesh+Imp Stool+Scathcraw
Uses: Your go-to poison. Don’t be afraid to use this on any enemy you deem fit, and watch them die a slow, painful death.
Last Breath - Mannimarco vanishes into an intangible shroud of shadows then instantly reappears behind his opponent, killing them instantly.
This move allows Mannimarco to quickly produce corpses to resurrect. Aside from the advantage of producing a quick easy casualty, this technique will leave you with one less enemy to deal with, or in rare cases a severely wounded enemy just waiting to die.
Requires: Slow Time, Shadow Warrior, Assassin’s Blade, Jester’s Gloves
Blood Ritual - Mannimarco coats his dagger with a strange alchemic mixture and his own unnatural blood. His next two basic attacks against his own undead thralls will heal himself and his thralls as well as granting his thralls buffs based on the mixture's contents.
Mannimarco's unique way of buffing his minions. This approach allows him to use alchemy rather than magic to buff his thralls, which allows Mannimarco to both stay close to his thralls, and save his magicka for other purposes such as healing his thralls and disrupting the enemy
Requires: Zombie, Blade of Woe, any buffing poison, Concentrated Poison
Dark Chalice - Mannimarco sacrifices an enemy, using their life force rather than his own to replenish his magicka, and its soul to replenish the charge of his enchanted dagger. A sacrificed foe will return as a vengeful soul to fight by Mannimarco's side for 60 seconds.
In true lich king fashion, Mannimarco is able to replenish both his magicka, and the charges on his weapon at no cost to his own life. This combo grants Mannimarco a high level of sustainability. Used wisely, this combo will allow Mannimarco to keep his health, magicka, and soul charges from ever running dry.
Requires: Equilibrium, Blade of Woe, Soul Tear
Decrepifying Prison - Mannimarco afflicts an opponent with a virulent plague that rapidly eats away their body. He then entraps the enemy within a magical prison, and leaves him to wither and rot away within. The affected enemy cannot move and lose massive amounts of health and armor per second.
This technique provides Mannimarco with an excellent means of initiating combat, as it almost guarantees taking an enemy out of the fight for long periods of time and severely crippling him in the process. Used wisely, this will allow Mannimarco to focus on the weaker enemies of the group while the strongest among them lies motionless, rotting away.
Requires: Rotting Curse, Poisoned, Marked for Death, Poison Rune
Mass Resurrection - Mannimarco summons an innumerable horde of undead to his aide. Corpses raised by through mass resurrection do not disintegrate when defeated nor when time runs out.
Once you've produced a sizable amount of bodies, this combination gets them all up and going at once. What makes this combination so awesome is the opportunity to keep a large squad of undead minions at your side all through your trek through any dungeon so long as you keep reviving them. Necromage will ensure the thralls last 50% longer than the posted duration. Deadly moves like Last Breath only add to the horde's head count.
Requires: Aetherial Crown, Ritual Stone, Necromage
You will want to keep close to your thralls in order to provide timely buffs and healing. Be careful of how much agro you draw as Mannimarco is not equipped to safely dispatch multiple opponents on his own.
Use your thralls to draw the focus of tougher enemies while you pick off the weaker enemies within the group. Look for opportunities within the battle to disrupt your enemies either through magic or poisons.
Decrepifying Prison makes for an excellent way to start off the battle. Pick out the strongest enemy you're able to sneak up to and use the skill on him. Once he's down, be prepared to fight as Mannimarco is not capable of silent casting. Once Decrepifying Prison's expires the previously trapped enemy will be severely weak to physical attacks if not outright killed beforehand.
Gauge what level of marked for death to use with Decrepifying Prison based on how urgently you will need a shout available. One word Marked for Death will still lower armor by a massive 1500 points with a drastically lower cool down than its three word version
Last Breath is a powerful tool against any enemy focused on Mannimarco. Once the combo is initiated, the enemy will shift from engaging Mannimarco to searching for him, exposing the enemy to a lethal sneak attack. Last Breath is very useful for providing a quick extra body for resurrection.
Due to Soul tear's massive cool down time, Dark Chalice is best used close to the end of a fight or out of combat. Dark Chalice can still greatly benefit Mannimarco in the midst of combat by allowing him to siphon free magicka from his enemies.
Conclusion and Credits:
Let us first say, it has been an absolute pleasure creating this build. Curse and I have loved it, and we hope you do too! Let me apologize about the length as well, it’s pretty large but we managed to get across everything we wanted to in this. Be glad it wasn’t 4000 words like the first draft!
A massive thanks for Curse, for agreeing to put up with me again on this collaboration
Thanks to Sage for opening me up to the concept of poisoning zombies
Thanks to the various artists from Thraen, Deviantart and Google
And thank you for reading!