"You have not heard the horrible, sad tale? Of ... of ... well I do not dare speak his names, for he goes by many .....
No one remembers his real name. Most do not even know where he hails from. What little we do know are stories of a simple family man who lived a simple life. Farmer, trader, and not one for venturing away from his home. But who would venture out when you have everything you need? A warm house, a strong, growing son, and a loving wife.
The stories tell of his complete devotion to his wife. She was his meaning for living and his meaning to work hard, to provide for his family. But some stories do not end well at all... Both his wife and son were stricken with disease. An unknown ailment that proved to be fatal... One could not imagine the grief of losing his one meaning for living and his own son. So a journey began to search for the secret to life. He began searching for magics he had heard rumors of, magics that could maybe, just maybe bring his wife and son back to him.
The journey brought the man to Skyrim, a land of ancient knowledge and power that had potential to bring his family back to the land of the living. Anger, grief, and a righteous greed to regain what he had lost. He had made his way to a mysterious stone. It was said that once touched, the stone granted the person with "dark" gifts. A gift that was rumored to raise the dead to once again walk among the living. A darkness was said to fall over the man, which made him forget. Forgetting his family, forgetting his wife, and forgetting his purpose, the man had but been taken by the darkness ... he had been taken by The Ritual Stone ...
Sure, we have all seen masters of the undead. Different character builds that dabble in necromancy and raising corpses to destroy enemies. I even took a crack at trying my own version of an evil, undead monster The Fearmonger. This is more of a traditional look at what a necromancer is all about: raising the dead as well as decaying the mind and body. Using a "trick" I have experimented with before, I have created a character concept that can adapt his undead army to his liking, always changing the powerful possibilities of combat using undead minions ... and extremely strong minions, too!
This character class and concept is probably one of my favorites. Raising and controlling the undead is a very satisfying aspect of any game that includes it, and Skyrim is no different. The one limiting aspect of a Skyrim necromancer is that you cannot raise permanent undead minions until you reach 100 in Conjuration. Until then, you can raise humanoids and animals alike for a limited amount of time (60 and 120s). Another downside is that when these minions "time out" they will turn to ash, rendering that corpse useless. That is where a certain item and certain standing stone come into play.
The Aetherial Crown. Unmatched in it's power when applied to a necromancer! The Aetherial Crown allows the wearer to have TWO standing stones active at once: one stone that is applied to the player and one stone that is applied to the crown itself. With this in mind, the player is able to store The Ritual Stone in the crown itself which can be manipulated for immense amounts of power. The crown can be un-equipped and re-equipped (nothing new as it is a known trick) in order for the Ritual Stone's power to be usable again and again and again ... a proper way to play a necromancer!
Standing Stones: The Serpent and The Ritual
Major Skills: Conjuration, Illusion, Alchemy
Minor Skills: Restoration, Enchanting, Sneak
Dragon Shouts: Drain Vitality, Marked for Death, Soul Tear
Vampirism: No use of vampire lord form
Head: Aetherial Crown/Shrouded Hood
Chest: Mourner's Clothes*
Feet: Vampire Boots
Hands: Vampire Gauntlets
Weapon: Dagger (Elven-Ebony)
Stats: M/H/S - 4/0/1
*You are in mourning for the loss of our family and wear the blackened clothes to show your despair. I have always loved this outfit and this build and RP is a perfect fit for it.
Before getting into the choice of perk trees, I want to let you know that is not some destruction-spell slinging, totally evil lord of darkness. Destruction and ice spells have been linked with necromancers for a long time and I just don't understand it. As a necromancer, you instead are the master of the mind and decay, capable of infecting your enemies thoughts as well as dishing out slow acting poisons through spells and powerful potions.
Every necromancer I have seen is this all powerful, unbeatable dark force of death. Necromancy is normally frowned upon, yes, but this is not some invincible devil build. I will admit, once things get going, you will be trucking through just about every fight and it is AWESOME, but I have not added one stat point into health. In gaining dark gifts, you are weak and feeble. You have your magic and your mind to do the muscle work!
Skills and Perks
Conjuration: The mainstay of any necromancer build, so this choice goes without saying. This skill tree allows for cutting down on conjuration costs, longer undead summon durations, a big +100 health boost to raised undead, and the ability to raise two undead minions at once.
Illusion: The necromancer is a master of the mind. Along with the obvious choice of conjuration, illusion is quite possibly even more important as you will read in the gameplay section. This skill allows the necromancer to frenzy your enemies to provide corpses for his needs, creating chaos and keeping enemy weapons away from your feeble frame and low health. Illusion also allows for insane amount of health boosts to your minions.
Alchemy: Necromancer's are agents of decay. You take from the world of the living, plucking living things from the earth and gather ingredients to mix into powerful, debilitating poisons. Strong poisons combined with the concentrated poison perk allows for two, quick dagger strikes as a last resort when in a tough battle. Paralyze and weakness to poison potions are invaluable when a strong-armed bandit is charging you without minions to help in your defense.
Restoration: The magic school of restoration has many uses: healing oneself, regenerating magicka and stamina, as well as the all power perk Necromage, which allows our undead selves to have boosted spell effects! This magic school also has the new fun Poison Rune spell which enhances the necromancer's power to eat away at living flesh from afar.
Enchanting: Necromancer's are masters of enchanting. Using the trapped souls of slain enemies, you can imbue your apparel and weapons with powerful enchantments. Some notable enchantments:
- Dagger - Paralysis + Soul Trap
- Apparel - Fortify Illusion, Alchemy, and Conjuration
- Others - Magicka Regen, Fortify Restoration, Magicka Resists
Sneak: Having never really needed to sneak passed many enemies, this skill is great with only one perk investment. Since you are wearing clothes for the most part, enemies will have a hard time hearing you, especially with a silent casted muffle spell. Sneaking proves beneficial early on when your illusion spells cannot meddle with the undead yet and you need to be away from danger.
(Destruction:) This school is only useful for one perk: Rune Master. The Poison Rune spell is extremely helpful from afar, as the poison damage stacks each time, so having the rune master perk allows for casting it 5x further away keeping you at a safe distance. I only used trainers to level destruction enough to attain this perk.
Full perk spread here lvl50: Here
This is where the fun begins! This character concept began with a simple concept stacked on upon a very common play style: boosting your undead minions.
Illusion spells: Courage, Rally, and Call to Arms stack. Yes, their effects stack. I am sure many people knew this, but this opens up extreme potential for an undead army.
Courage: Boosts target's health and stamina by 25 for 60s.
Rally: Boosts target's health and stamina by 25 in small AoE radius for 60s.
Call to Arms: Boosts target's combat skills, health, and stamina by 25 in large AoE radius for 10 minutes.
What can all of these spells casted together achieve? We have to look at some of the math. Given that each of these spells boosts health and stamina as well as One Handed, Two Handed, and Archery for CTA by 25 points:
- Animage boost to 33 - animals only
- Kindred Mage boost to 35 - humanoids only
- Vampirism (Champion of the Night) boost by 25%
This would yield 41/43 (animals/humanoids) to health/stamina as well as combat skills for Call to Arms. PLUS:
- Necromage boost by 25% on undead
- Fortify Illusion potions boost by ???% (anywhere from 100%-130% normally)
All of this together means, that after taking the Master of the Mind perk, you are able to boost your undead minions by +300 health and stamina as well as +100 to combat skills!! Stack these effects with the capabilities of raising as many undead minions as you want, and you have some of the most powerful undead fighters capable of pillaging, decimating, and absolutely tanking anything in the game. Of course, you could enchant and abuse alchemy to have insane Fortify Illusion potions to go beyond reasonable amounts of undead boosting. It is an obvious note to know that you need the Master of the Mind perk to boost your minions! 100 illusion is easy to come by through training and just constant use against enemies.
Is this all necessary? Yes. The Necromancer also utilizes Poison Runes from afar and a highly poisoning and paralyzing dagger when enemies get close. It is invaluable to have your disposable minions last as long as possible in a fight. But who to raise? How should a necromancer go about choosing who is fighting for him, given that the Ritual Stone is capable of raising even mammoths, giants, and many, many others? Let's take a look at some of my favorites:
Army of Darkness
Vampires: My all-time favorite undead army crew. These spell-slinging, undead masters are insanely powerful. Capable of powerful melee strikes and devastating spells from afar, these are your top choice to your undead army. These blood sucking demons are also capable of draining the enemies health while also raising undead of their own, expanding your armies to large numbers which make for extremely epic battles! With both strong close quarters combat and ranged combat, look no further for a better undead soldier.
Being the vampire leader of 6+ vampires is very satisfying and your ultimate goal for this character.
Orcs: After destroying an Orc stronghold, I decided to adapt my army to a crew of orc warriors. I did not look back for a LONG time. After boosting these berserkers with +300 health and over 100 in one handed and two handed, it was never a question of victory. Two handed battle axes were cleaving our way through the land and nothing stood a chance! Absolute power!
Alik'r: These master swordsman prove to be a great wrecking crew. Having been a big of Mason's Alik'r build, it is like having 5-6 of them following you around all the time and having immense amounts of health and one handed skill! These agile warriors lack the armor rating of other minions, but the added health and stamina will keep them alive and power attacking through anything you come across.
It is wise to note that when crossing into a new area and going through a loading screen, you might lose a few of your undead minions when utilizing the Ritual Stone. These Alik'r are in a dungeon cave, so when exiting, I find it easier to move forward immediately to allow everything to load behind you.
Draugr: If you want to feel like a Grade A badass, Draugr are the way to go. All the way up to Deathlords, you can raise the countless undead already in the dungeons underground to do your bidding. Insane amounts of health and damage, these are a notable choice for a wrecking crew beyond belief. Fight fire with fire when in that tough dungeon you just can't finish because of that really tough end boss. These guys give a true sense to a zombie army ... but they just happen to be armed with ancient weapons that deal massive amounts of damage.
The Other Combatants...
Saber cats: Extremely deadly up close and fast enough to close the gap between enemies.
Giants: Walking tanks with giant clubs ... 'nuff said!
Wolves: Effective in large packs, possible rockjoint to enemies.
Mammoths: Well ... you just NEED to try this one out for yourself!
Chaurus: Insane amounts of poison damage, a fitting damage for a necromancer.
Deer/Elk: Ben C thought this was an effective method, and it surprisingly is! A large herd of elk or deer can be quite cumbersome for enemies.
Trolls: Raise a couple of these manic bad boys and you will give your enemies a fight they will never forget!
Forsworn: Both melee and ranged capabilities, powerful dual wielding attacks.
Imperials/Stormcloaks: Pick a side, then raise your army! Strong melee and ranged minions.
Afflicted: Spitting poison damage? Great choice for a necromancer.
Bandits: Very common, powerful in great numbers.
Hunters: Great ranged attackers and marksman!
Falmer: Strong poison attacks, both ranged and melee.
Necromancers: More undead summons, frost spells.
Mages: Fantastic ranged magic attacks, flesh spells boost armor, weak against melee attackers.
Conjurers: Like vampires, these minions can raise their own minions, creating vast armies at your disposal.
There are of course many, many, other specialized choices for a necromancer to raise or any combination of these listed for maximum effectiveness. A wise tactic is to choose both heavy armored/high HP melee attackers combined with powerful ranged attackers for war-like situations. Some great combinations include saber cats and hunters, giants and mages, and vampires and draugr.
I implore anyone to give the Aetherial Crown power a try when combined with the Ritual Stone. This character class is HIGHLY adaptable to any playstyle given the almost infinite army possibilities. If you want to be a mammoth wrangler (Ben C TM), then you can. If you want to be an absolute disease that wipes out everything in existence, then raise vampires.
Hope you enjoy a somewhat common playstyle and roleplay, just with a few twists! There are a few great necromancer builds on the site, but there are no "pure" necromancers who rely only on raising the dead. This is your choice if you go down the path of darkness. This is my 20th character build, so I thought I would go back to my roots of undead.