Character Build: The Night Reaver

This build beautifully combines many of my first time experiences into one awesome mix. Never before have I tried a no crafting build. But, not content to try just one new thing, I threw in vampirism, archery, bound weaponry, and necromancy in for good measure. Never would I have imagined all of these separate things working together so perfectly. Read on and you'll come to appreciate the beautiful synergy yourself. I present to you the.....

The Night Reaver


 Nothing inspires wild-eyed terror among witch hunters quite like a night reaver. These sinister stalkers of the night are those among the dead who hunt witch hunters, turning what was once the  predator into prey. Whether for vengeance, self preservation, or the thrill of a meal that fights back, these undead hunters flip an age old food chain upside down. Night Reavers make a mockery of their prey, often employing their target's own tactics against them, but whereas witch hunters abhor necromancy, night reaver revels in the psychological torture of turning one's dead friends against them. .…

The Build

The Night Reaver is a master marksmen as well as a powerful necromancer, able to transform mass carnage into loyal undead thralls, who will fearlessly charge enemy ranks. The advantage of numbers rapidly deteriorates into liability as even a lone night reaver can quickly amass an army to send charging back after whatever remains of their former allies. The Night Reaver combines two unlikely partners, archery and necromancy, into an absolute powerhouse necro-archer that can easily walk into a 10 on 1 fight and come out unscathed and on top.

The night reaver is capable of activating slow time for substantially long periods of time. Combine that with the absolutely ludicrous speeds you can fire a bound bow, and you'll essentially be firing a bound semi automatic weapon, while side stepping attacks like a boss. Arguably this build's best feature? No Crafting!! You wont find yourself bent over crafting tables. Its fast paced running and gunning from start to finish.

Race: Nord Vampire

  • A Nord may seem like an odd choice for an archer/necromancer, but in actually the Nord's resistance to frost damage synergizes well with that of the vampire's, offering the night reaver near total immunity to frost damage. Battle Cry is also an essential piece to a rather nasty special combo. 

Stone: Ritual & Atronach Stone

  • Atronach & Ritual Stone - The atronach stone bestows a nice 50 magicka bonus, which is essential for using the bound bow as soon you find the spell book. In addition the 50% chance of absorbing spell damage comes in handy for those occasional fire spells you might neglect to dodge.
  • The Ritual Stone worn on the Aetherial crown will allow you to raise the dead without the need to switch out your bound bow. In addition, there are no limits to the number and level of undead you can raise. Perfect for raising cannon fodder to divert the enemies' attention.

Stats: 0 Magicka 1 Health 2 Stamina

  • *Important* You'll be putting your first 5 points into magicka before switching to this ratio. From there follow the above ratio until your health hits 200 points then dump everything into stamina from there on out. This in addition to the atronach stone allows you to use the bound bow as soon as you get it. The ample stamina allows for many focused shots and evasive maneuvers

Gear: Vampire Royal Armor, Vampire Gauntlets & Boots, Ring of Erudite, Aethereal Crown, Talos Amulet

  • This loadout is designed to grant you a large magicka pool that regenerates quickly with minimal investment into magicka. The Talos amulet coupled with its respective blessing lowers slow time's cool down by 40%. At this build's peak, you will be able to slow time down for about 45 seconds with a mere 5 second wait in between shouts.

Spells: Bound Bow, Frenzy Rune, Invisibility

  • Bound Bow will be your main weapon. Its a very strong early game weapon; About as strong as having an unsmithed daedric bow right at the start of the game. Frenzy Rune is a great tool for initiating combat when combined with Throw Voice. Lastly, invisibility makes for a nifty scouting tool. I can walk into a hold with bounty over my head unnoticed. Within an enemy camp, I can scout around and safely get a visual on the strongest enemy of the group, or the weak easy pickings.

Shouts: Slow Time, Throw Voice, Become Ethereal, Marked for Death

  • Slow time offers a much needed speed boost which enables quick evasions and swift attacks. Throw Voice is the perfect way to misdirect foes and initiate combat when used with frenzy rune. Become Ethereal finds its use when jumping down from lethal heights or surviving a dragon's fire breathe if caught off guard. Marked for Death is useful for those encounters with fire breathing dragons, affording you the ability to play more defensively while still applying damage and armor reduction. And, oh yeah, its part of a really nifty combo I'll discuss further down. 


Archery: The main damage dealing skill. Once all the necessary perks are taken, each shot will have a 50% chance of staggering, 20% chance of a critical hit and a 15% chance of paralyzing a target. Nothing is getting close to you without a fight at that point.

Conjuration: This skill tree is all about augmenting the bound bow by reducing its cost and increasing its damage. The soul stealer perk is great for making some gold, and oblivion binding will prevent enemy necromancers from effectively using their raised dead.

Restoration: Necromage is such an awesome perk for a vampire to pick up. It affects everything from self casted spells to even archery perks like power-shot and quick shot, granting them 50% bonus effectiveness. 

Alteration: You wont be casting any alteration spells on yourself, but stability is a key perk to pick up in order to increase slow time's duration.

Illusion: This tree carries many perks essential to both surveillance and survival. Invisibility and Frenzy Rune are powerful tools but cost a ton of magicka to use until masteries are perked. Quiet Casting makes readying your bow for a preemptive strike easier.

Sneak: Deadly aim is intentionally left out of this build to make it very difficult to play this build as a sneak archer. You'll be fighting out in the open with nothing but your evasive skills to keep you alive. Silent roll makes for a thrilling evasive maneuver while under the effects of slow time. Nothing's more satisfying than dodging a power attack with a roll and firing an arrow into the attacking enemy's back.



 Immediately pick up a bow at the start of your adventure until you get access to the bound bow. I recommend a run through Bleak Falls Barrow (It seems everyone starts there)  to build up your archery and dump those first 5 levels into magicka. Make friends with Faendel before you leave Riverwood. As both a follower and trainer, you can use him to level up archery to 50 for free. Pick up the bound bow in Fort Amol and the Atronach stone on your way to Riften. 

It's good to get into the Thieves Guild questline early as it is a good source of money and provides excellent sneak training. While you're in Riften head over to Fort Dawnguard and begin the Dawnguard questline. Join the Vampire's side as soon as you're able. 

Archery, Conjuration, and Sneak will be very easy to level along the course of your adventure. Restoration can be trained via Collete at the College of Winterhold. Along side that turn undead spells will grant you fairly quick levels in restoration. If that's not fast enough healing yourself while standing on a fire trap will also level restoration very quickly. Ustengrav is an easy location to find such a trap, although you must make a little progress in the main quest to access it. 

Lastly, Alteration can be leveled up easily by spamming detect life spells in crowded cities. I walked away with enough levels to grab Stability on my first trip to Riften. Illusion is even easier to level. Simply spam courage spells on any living thing you come across. 

 Breaking the Game - The Slow Time and Ritual Stone Exploits

904033?profile=RESIZE_480x480I normally avoid using more than one exploit in a build, but in this case I feel these two exploits bring much in the way of power to the build while still keeping things balanced. Its all fair game when you're sporting 200 health and less than 50 armor. 

The Slow Time exploit allows you to extend slow time's duration's duration well past its normal limits. To utilize it you must become a vampire and pick up the necro mage and stability perk.

Necromage makes anything cast on the undead 50% more effective. Due to faulty coding, you reap the increased benefits of self casted spells and shouts as a vampire. Stability further increases the duration by another 50%. The Talos amulet and blessing reduce the cool down time of slow time by 40%. The end result is appearing as a swift moving blur to your enemies for just shy of 30 seconds ( 2 words) with only a 5 second cool down in between. 

The ritual stone exploit is even simpler. All you need to do is get the aethereal crown and attach the ritual stone to it. Once that's done you'll be able to bypass the ritual stone's daily use limit. You need only take off and reequip the aetherial crown to reuse the stone.  The ritual stone completely beats out any necromancy spell. There are no level caps or limit to the number of undead that can be raised, and best of all you wont need to de-equip your bow to use it. 


Advanced Archery Techniques

830847571?profile=originalFor the expert archers in the audience, these are advanced techniques that help bring out this build's full potential. None are absolutely necessary to make the build viable, but they're worth perfecting for this and any other archer build you might like to try. I tend to use the first technique pretty much all the time, while the other two I use more sparingly.

Reload Canceling - 

Reload canceling allows you to skip through some of the animations your character performs after firing an arrow, thus allowing you to ready a new arrow much quicker. To perform a quick reload press the fire and sheathe button simultaneously. Once mastered your DPS will be significantly higher. 

Bow Bashing -

Bow bashing allows you to do full attack damage with a bow bash. This technique comes in handy when attacked by enemies that can get into melee range very quickly. To perform this technique notch an arrow and then sheathe it. While sheathing the arrow immediately hit the bash button. If performed correctly an enemy hit by the bash will take damage equal to what he would have taken if hit by your arrow. 

The Double Shot -

I've rarely ever found myself using this outside of those rare clutch moments. The double shot allows you to essentially fire two arrows in a single draw. The second arrow will not travel nearly as far as the first nor will it deal as much damage, but it will still apply on hit effects such as staggers, paralysis, and critical damage. The double shot is performed by pressing attack - sheathe - attack in rapid succession immediately after firing the first arrow. Its a useful technique for those close quarter fights. 


 Special Combos 


Requires: Slow Time + Necromage + Stability + Talos Amulet & Blessing

The Night Reaver is uniquely gifted with both super natural agility and perception. Through intense focus she can move many times faster than her enemies and anticipate attacks long before they even begin.

The Night Reaver's most essential combo. Agility is what will keep this frail character alive when up against overwhelming numbers. Agility will enable you to anticipate and dodge attacks with ease. It will also allow you to quickly create or close distances as well as circle around and flank enemies before they can react. Agility is a great tool to use especially in close quarters.



Requires: Agility+ Quick Shot + Reload Canceling

The Night Reaver fires a continuous rapid volley of arrows at multiple targets. Strafe is at its deadliest when focused on a single target and applies all on hit effects from archery perks

This combo goes hand in hand with Agility. The bound bow alone does not scale all that well damage wise. Raw firing speed, however, is more than enough to make up for the drop off in damage. Performed right, this will allow you to send more than enough arrows down range to suppress an approaching squad, or quickly kill off a strong enemy or two with a deadly concentrated volley. You can also, as the move name suggest, move while performing this technique, making you a more difficult target to hit. The only downside to Strafe is the inability to zoom in on a target. At later levels, when powershot and bullseye are unlocked, strafe can potentially induce staggering or paralyze 


7651915?profile=originalDark Whispers

Requires: Throw Voice + Frenzy 

Projects a mysterious taunting voice that calls out to unsuspecting foes, luring them into a fatal mind trap.

A useful way to initiate combat against a large number of enemies, especially when theyre spread out. This combo leaves enemies completely vulnerable to the night reaver's other combos. Once activated, go nuts with strafe and produce as much carnage as possible while the enemy is too busy killing each other.  



7651945?profile=originalDark Pulse

Requires: Aethereal Crown + Ritual Stone

The Night Reaver conjures a pulse of dark magical energy, raising all previously slain enemies within a wide range for 60 seconds.

By now Strafe has produced quite a few kills. What to do with all these corpses? The age old crown + ritual stone combo allows you to raise anything you've killed within its casting range. Dark pulse enables the night reaver to keep on the offensive by turning anything dead into a free decoy and meat shield. These newly raised minions are great for taking much needed pressure off the night reaver, allowing her to flank the enemy and produce even more casualties to raise. Even one undead minion will be enough to distract most, if not all enemies in the area.




Requires: Battle Cry + Marked for Death

The Night Reaver torments an enemy, afflicting his mind with unspeakable horrors and his body with a terrible curse. Tormented enemies are unable to attack and take gradually increased physical damage from all sources for 30 seconds.

The most deviously evil thing you can do to an enemy, and the perfect way to turn the tables on a single powerful enemy. Torment gives you free reign to attack an enemy while they cower defenselessly, taking ever increasing damage each second. Combined with a group of undead minions, the damage caused by this combo can rack up at insane rates.


 Tips & Tactics

Prey on the weak - Its almost always to your advantage to focus on weak enemies first. The sooner you're able to830847874?profile=RESIZE_320x320 raise yourself an undead meat shield, the sooner enemy focus will shift away from you, allowing you to produce more casualties and more undead. Failing that, focus on the enemies closest to your position. 

Keep Moving - In a large battle its important to keep moving to dodge incoming attacks and to avoid being surrounded. Even with the advantaged gained from agility, you wont likely see attacks from behind coming. Always look for opportunities to flank the enemy while they're busy fending off your undead minions.  

Start the Fight with a Bang - Always open with dark whispers when faced with a large enemy force that's spread out (I'm lookin at you Hag's End) While they're busy killing themselves, start strafing targets down starting with the weakest. In no time you'll produce a small army from the chaos that will easily overrun anyone left standing. 

Enemy Types -  Most enemy fights will go about the same way with the exception of automatons, who cant be brought to life, and the undead, who along with automatons will not succumb to the effects of illusions (its only fun to toy with mortals after all). The undead can still be brought back to life (again) so take advantage of that. Don't hesitate to go nuts against enemy necromancers. They use mostly ice spells (which you're practically immune to), and their undead can be turned thanks to the oblivion binding perk. 

VS Dragons - Ice dragons are no challenge at all. Just avoid letting them get close enough for a bite and you'll be fine. Now fire dragons are your worst nightmare. One breath will all but disintegrate you. Play very defensively against fire breathers. Use Marked for Death to soften the beast up. If you're having a really hard time against fire dragons, consider luring them into populated areas. Any non essential NPC killed can be raised over and over to fight by your side. Living or dead, guards and innocent bystanders provide excellent distractions (what's a mortal's life worth anyway?) 

The Unkillable Meatshield - If you kill an enemy while hes paralyzed and then raise him, he will not move from where he was killed, and will just walk in place. Undead in this odd state can still be targeted by the enemy, but they will not take damage nor can they deal damage. Take advantage of this by focusing on slaying any enemy you manage to paralyze.  



Recommended Mods

  • Belt Fastened Quiver - Repositions all quivers (including bound bow) to hang from the waist instead of the back.
  • Demon Hunter Armor - A bad-ass, yet ironic choice of armor for the aspiring hunter of hunters.
  • Humanoid Vampires - Becoming a vampire will no longer alter your facial appearance and features
  • Undead FX - Introduces a new effect to all necromancy spells. Upon reanimation, the undead slowly begin to rot away until they are nothing but walking hunks of flesh and bones. A very gruesome must have.
  • Stickier Arrows - The perfect mod for any archer. It increases the number of arrows that can protrude from the body to 150 arrows and drastically increases the duration arrows will stick inside the body.





Closing Remarks

Nothing much to say here. As always enjoy the build and if you have any questions ask them below. 


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  • Curse, what mod are you using for archery in 3rd person ??

  • Mind if I ask, if we didn't have the DLC content, how do we utilize this build at it's fullest cuz that mana regen one pain in the neck if we run out of mana specificaly when fighting the non mage enemies? Also, for armor choice, is there any alternative choice for the same reason (no DLC content)

    • The build hardly needs a constant supply of magicka. It's just that having the ring of Erudite from DG, as well as the atronach Stone, gets you enough total magicka to comfortably summon a bow and hurl a frenzy spell before hand. Pretty much any ring that offers magicka recover will do. 

      As far as armor sets you might find the nightingale armor aesthetically suitable.

      • Aaah, I see. Man, I'm truly way too late to reply, but thank you, Curse!

  • Hey Curse!  I was reading this build super close today because I'm going to play it and I noticed something out of place.  In the gameplay section, 2nd paragraph you say "Destruction can be easily trained to 40 through trainers."  Not sure what you were trying to refer to here.

    Edit:  I said something stupid then deleted it.

    • Good catch man. The build no longer uses Destruction to access the Rune Master perk, which is why that bit was there in the first place. 

      • Ahh gotcha.  Not particularly needed I guess.  I went and leveled it some anyway.  I think I might have gone and over leveled a little.  Need to slow down.

  • Just curious, at what point in the play through do you become a vampire?  Do you wait for it in the Dawnguard DLC, or do you go for it from the beginning?

This reply was deleted.