Foreword: There were several motes of inspiration for this character that varied from Howl, from Howls Moving Castle, to Archmaester Marwyn from the ASOIAF books. I wanted to recreate the classic adventurer vibe, something akin to that of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, with somewhat of a magical twist. A rogue scholar, if you will. But the most prominent influence would have to be that of the Volsung mask.
This character is built around the skills and perks of the aforementioned mask and is my interpretation of what a character based on the mask's stats might look like. My aim was to use as many of the more obscure or utility-based magics mixed in with a little dungeneering flair. But fear not because she is not without means of a strong offence, as this intrepid adventurer also utilises a great variety of scrolls and staves.
Alyssa always had an inquisitive nature. From the moment she could read, she was captivated by the legends of old. Dirreni, Nedic, or Dwemer it mattered not. The enigmatic ancients were of far more interest to the young Breton than the here and now.
She had an easier life than most, growing up as part of Northpoint's noble family. But the confines of a pampered lifestyle suited her sister much more than her. Alyssa liked to explore the markets, ogling at the merchant's wares. Once, she had picked out a small dwemer puzzle box. A crafty Imperial salesman had promised the young Breton there was a treasure to be found inside. Alyssa had eagerly parted with her coin in anticipation. Two days later, she had solved the puzzle and found only pebbles inside. She had been cheated. It turned out the puzzle box was a fake as well, made from cheap brass rather than Dwemeri alloy. Alyssa was so upset that she burst into tears, earning callous mockery from her sister and a wry chuckle from her brother Her father had found it amusing and allowed her to join him on a project he had been working on at the College.
Her twin brother, Dante, was conscripted into Arkay's Knights of the Circle at fifteen, leaving only herself and her elder sister Morgaine. Alyssa shared little in common with her sister; taking more after her father, she threw herself into scholarly pursuits and arcane study. Morgaine, however, was being groomed by their mother for a life of political machinations and soirees, set to take over the family's estate as a countess. Her elder sibling revelled in making the masses dance to her whims, but Alyssa always found there was something unsettling and cruel to Morgaine's demeanour.
Her father, Gaspard, was a lecturer and well-regarded sage amongst the College of Whispers chapter of Northpoint. It would not be wrong to say his thirst for knowledge was what spurred Alyssa into a life of artefact hunting.
Once she was of an age to strike out on her own, she wasted no time. First, she observed the nearby ruined Crypt of Hearts and, later, the remnants of the Doomcrag, marvelling at the craftsmanship and eerie flow of magic about the ruins. As the years went by, more and more vistas of bygone ages were added to Alyssa's growing repertoire of exploration. She stayed with the Morkuldin Orcs whilst researching the ruins of Orsinium. She ascended the frosty ruins of Scalecaller Peak. And in Hammerfell, dove into Dwemer ruins abound.
Alyssa still enjoys a close relationship with most of her family. Keeping in regular contact with her brother and parents through letters. She will often send her father antiquities to study by way of her younger cousin's merchant shipping company. Although she hears less and less from her sister, but from what she has been able to discern from her parent's tellings, Morgaine has not become the fortuitous leader of Northpoint her mother had hoped. A shadow has grown over the city in the years since she ascended the family mantle. And rumours of her dabbling in dark arts swirl through the courts of Rivenspire and beyond...
Most recently, Alyssa's role is that of a Keeper in the newly formed Order of the Remnant out of Dragonstar. The Order welcomes any scholars or adventures and frequently takes professional contracts to assist in safely recovering antiquities and lost knowledge. It so happens Alyssa has been privately contracted to travel to Skyrim by the Imperial Legion to acquire any and all artefacts that are of interest to the Thalmor. The Thalmor's presence has been noted in several key locations throughout Skyrim and Solstheim, most notably The College of Winterhold, Labyrinthian and Forelhost.
Whilst in Skyrim, Alyssa also means to establish a northern chapter, to expand The Order's influence among the populace.
- Ordinator + 20 pct perk points
- Awesome Artefacts
- Warmonger Armory
- Imitation's Clothing and Armor
- Mortal Enemies
- Magical College of Winterhold
- Alternative Start - Live Another Life
Breton: As a Breton, Alyssa will have several innate racial bonuses. She has been able to adapt some of these traits to greatly serve her atypical fighting style.
- Grail of Betony: A treasure hunter in Skyrim carries the mythical Grail of Betony. A Breton in possession of the Grail regenerates Magicka and Stamina 50% faster.
- Spell Mantle: Magic resistance increased by 15%. You also gain 25% spell absorption when Magicka is 25% or less.
- Stones of Galen: Each standing stone grants its own additional effect.
- SharedAncestory (Unlockable): Invoke your Aldmeri-Nedic heritage to gain the racial power of a living human or elven target for 300 seconds.
Standing Stone: The Tower - The Tower stone fits Alyssa perfectly; with its dungeoneering nature and bonuses to lockpicking, it's a valuable part of any would-be treasure hunter's repertoire.
- Royal Treasury: A quest leads to a hidden cache in Skyrim containing fabulous loot. Looting it indicates the next cache.
- Tower Key: Open locked doors up to Adept level. Once a day, open any lock of up to Expert level.
- Stones of Galen: Adept, Expert, and Master locks are 50% easier to pick.
- The Dungeon: 1/day - Targets are lost in a mental maze, mindless but untouchable for 25 seconds. This is not a hostile effect.
Name - Alyssa Bonnel
Age - 33
Class - Utility Mage/Thief
Alignment/Morality - Chaotic Good
Affiliations/Occupation - The Order of the Remnant, Imperial Legion, and The College of Whispers.
Alyssa's fondness for artefact hunting brought her to The Order of the Remnant. An order she has helped establish in Dragonstar. Her quest into Skyrim is threefold; Recover artefacts before the Thalmor. Establish a northern chapter for the Remnant. And on a more personal note, seek out her cousin Alayne, who has been seen assisting the newly formed Dawnguard
Religious Views - Alyssa's family has always honoured their ties to their Direnni heritage. As such, she observes gods from both the Eight and elven pantheons.
Suitable patrons could be Magnus, Syrabane, Julianos or Xarxes. I dabbled with all of these, but I found the combination of Syrabane and Xarxes to be the most satisfying.
- Follow Syrabane: As a follower, the chance of collecting scrolls and tomes from defeated enemies is greatly increased. As a devotee all mage skills level faster based on total favour.
- Blessing of Xarxes: Scrolls are 25% more effective.
Establishing the Northen Remnant Chapter
This can go hand in hand with questing in a sense. To get full access to all of these locations, you will need to complete quests and do some exploring. It is all worth it in the end, though. The College of Winterhold Archmages quarters is particularly aesthetic with 'The College of Winterhold Redone' mod. But what we are really after here is Heljarchen Hall. This Hearthfire home will serve as the new guild hall for "The Order of Remnants" and be set to house all of your companions and treasures.
- College of Winterhold Archmages Quarters
- Fort Dawnguard
- Heljarchen Hall
Building a Guild of Adventures
When coming up with the perfect crew of followers to form a treasure-hunting band, I had to think for a while. Skyrim offers so many to choose from, but I wanted those who I picked to feel thematic to Alyssa's character. And so, I have elected to choose most of the followers based on their personality or how we can obtain them as a companion. Many of these characters are encountered through dungeon delving. And to me, this is what makes them the perfect fit for The Remnant Keeper.
With the use of the Amazing Follower Tweaks mod, I was able to dismiss my companions wherever I liked. Heljarchen Hall became my defacto guild hall for Alyssa's adventure. When the hall was fully furnished, it became lively, particularly with all of my artefacts on display and followers hanging out there.
And remember to kit your followers out in that hard-earned loot. J'Zargo looks particularly cool in the Ebony Spell Knight Armour!
- Borgakh the Steel Heart - Orsimer Warrior
- Goldir Nord Warrior
- Erik The Slayer - Nord Barbarian
- J'Zargo - Khajiit Sorcerer
- Teldryn Sero - Dunmeri Spellsword
- Mjoll The Lioness - Nord Warrior
- Derkeethus - Argonian Ranger
- Illia - Imperial Ice Mage
Questing is the most natural way to scratch Alyssa's adventuring itch and start collecting some interesting artefacts. Below I have listed some good starter quests.
College of Winter Hold - Joining the ranks of the northern mages, Alyssa uses their vast resources to learn of the province's sacred artefacts. This is also where she can first recruit J'Zargo into her guild.
Forbidden Legend - An ancient amulet separated and scattered across Skyrim's barrows. Adventure calls Alyssa to unravel this forgotten legend.
Investigate Volskygge - Hearing rumours of a powerful treasure in this Hafingaar ruin, Alyssa sets out to investigate.
Shalidor's Maze - Archmage Shalidor was a giant of his time. There's got to be something hidden within this winding labyrinth, and Alyssa's going to find it.
A Scroll for Anska - Teaming up with the Nord mage Anska, Alyssa uncovers the mystery of Highgate ruins and learns a new spell.
Unearthed - The ancient ruins of Koljorn await to be excavated. Team up with Ralis to find what treasures lay inside.
A Night to Remember - Booze, Daedra, a goat and a wedding. Alyssa tries to piece together her night of debauchery and claim the staff she was promised.
Lost to the Ages - Spelunking into the heart of several ancient dwemer ruins, Alyssa finds herself embarked on an adventure that spans the breadth of Skyrim.
The Mind of Madness - A truly bizarre quest awaits Alyssa as she tries to get her hands on yet another Daedric Artefact.
The Cause - Remnants of the Mythic Dawn have been spotted digging about ruins across the Rift. Curious to see what they've uncovered, Alyssa seeks them out.
Saints and Seducers - Bandits have been harassing the Khajiiti merchants along the trade routes. Though these ones seem to have a distinct connection to the mad god Sheogorath. Could there be something more to this than simple thuggery?
Repentance - On a trip to Darklight Tower to investigate the Dwemer ruins of Rkund, Alyssa comes face to face with the mage Illia. She agrees to help the wayward mage and brings her into the fold of the Order of Remnants.
Dawnguard - An elder scroll! The vampires have an elder scroll! Alyssa had initially sought out the Dawnguard to reconnect with her cousin Alayne, but what's transpiring here is more important than familial ties or dusty ruins. The vampires must be thwarted before they do gods know what.
Black Books - The Mysterious Black Books of Solstheim have much-hidden knowledge. Alyssa seeks them out when she arives at the ashen docks of Raven Rock.
The Black Star - This much sort after artefact finds its way into Alyssa's hands when she agrees to help the Daedric Prince restore it to its true purpose of holding only white souls.
How to manage equipment and gear:
Pick your Loadout: Alyssa has a wide variety of gear at her disposal. This does not however mean she lugs every item around with her at all times. Some can be stored at Heljarchen Hall or the Arch Mages Quarters. Others can be carried by a follower or stored with the Dremora Buttler. I typically would select a loadout of items depending on where I was planning on venturing. The Wabbajack and Soul Cinder were generally a constant for me, but other items I would select based on the occasion. Nordic dungeon or vamp den? Staff of Hags Wrath, Sanguine Rose and Red Eagles Fury, are Alyssa's go to's. Forsworn encampment? Sanguine Rose, Staff of Jyrik Gauldaurson and Bolar's Oath Blade are great choices. Dragon Hunting? The Staff of Magnus, Storm Atronach and Staff of Jyrik Gauldaurson would all be appropriate options. Also, take into account the strengths of the Follower you are using. Alyssa is quite adaptable, so she can easily swap between a spell-blade and a more classic ranged mage to complement the situation.
- Volsung - The Dragon Priest mask boosts carry capacity by 20 points.
- Welloc's Dormant Arcana - This perk effect, when combined with an armour spell, increases carry capacity by 50 points
- Ease Burden - This Spell increases carry capacity by 100 points for a short time.
- Dremora Butler - Acquired from one of Hermaeus Mora's infamous Black Books, this Dremora can store a decent amount of Alyssa's gear and is readily summonable.
- Deep Storage - This spell, much like the Dremora Butler, allows for gear storage.
- Milestones - The Milestones spell allows Alyssa to place five interconnecting waypoints anywhere on the map. I used several of these to get easy access between Heljarchen Hall, The Arch Mage Quarters and Fort Dawnguard. Making it convenient to manage any gear I had stored at these places and to access merchants at the College or Fort.
- Staff of Jyrik Gauldaurson
- Staff of Ehlno Ede
- Staff of Hag's Wrath
- Staff of the Storm Atronach
- Sanguine Rose
- Staff of Magnus
- Soul Cinder (Dragon Priest Dagger) - Fiery Soul + Killstreak
- Bolar’s Oathblade
- Red Eagle's Fury
- Diadem of the Savant/Polymath
- Ahzidal's Gauntlets of Warding
- Order of Remnant's Surcoat (Armoured Novice Robes Clothing variant) - Magicka Regen + Shalidor's Shield
- Rogue Scholars Boots (Heavy Dawn Guard Boots) - One-handed + Fortify Speed
- Ahzidal's Ring of Arcana
- Gauldaur Amulet
- Volsung (Warmonger Armory mod allows it to be hung from the hip and still confer the enchants)
- Shalidor's Insights and Normal Scrolls
- Azura’s Star (White)
Attributes - 2:1:1
An erudite enchanter, Alyssa's fascination with the ancient and obscure has lent her an impeccable aptitude for scribing her magic into objects.
Perks of note:
- Last Word 3/3
- Secret Keeper
- Staff Channeler
- Twin Enchantment
Alyssa has a particular fondness for this school. Making great use of the many utility spells it offers.
Perks of note:
- Welloc’s Dormant Arcana (carry capacity, spell absorb and efficient enchantments).
- Command Lock
- Energy Roil
The cornerstone to any would-be treasure hunter. This wily adventurer always has a set of picks on her.
Perks of note:
- Gone in 15 seconds
- Nose for Treasure (Scrolls)
It's always good to get a bargain or inspire one's allies, right?
Perks of note:
- Silent Storm 1/2
- Commanding Presence
- Entice Barter
A purveyor of the weird and wonderful. Alyssa makes use of some of the most obscure summons that can be found.
Perks of note:
- Mastery 2/2
While she is far from a sage in the school of destruction, Alyssa has picked up a few tricks of the trade.
Perks of note:
- Mastery 2/2
- Force of Nature
- Rune Master
Wards. One cannot simply overlook wards!
Perks of note
- Descending Light
- Forbidden Sanctuary
- Bastion Ward
For when the magic is not enough, give em a taste of steel.
Perks of note
- Mastery 2/2
- Disciplined Fighter
- Furious Strength
Sometimes, the situation calls for finesse, and when that happens, it pays to be the strong silent type.
Perk of note
- Mastery 2/2
How to Use magic and spells: Alyssa has quite an arsenal of spells at her disposal. The list can look intimidating, but every spell is used for a purpose. If you look at her role without taking into account her reliance on Staves or Scrolls for damage, you can see a pattern begin to form. Most of these spells all serve a very niche use and excel at controlling, debuffing or distracting enemies; or buffing herself or her allies. Even the destruction spells she uses are more utility based than damage focused. Rift Bolt teleports enemies backwards several paces. Whirlwind Cloak has a chance to knock enemies down. Ignite adds a damage over time debuff. And Unbound Frost is a concentration spell that will snap freeze enemies, allowing for a quick escape in dangerous situations.
To put it simply, Alyssa's main role in a party would be that of a support and utility class. All that said, she is not without means of offence, as she has a large assortment of powerful scrolls and staves that she can put to use when the need arises.
- Ash Shell
- Flesh Spells
- Paralysis Spells
- Ease burden
- Orc Strength
- Deep Storage
- Light Spells
- Conjure Ash Guardian
- Flaming Familiar
- Conjure Golden Saint Warrior
- Conjure Dark Seducer Archer
- Conjure Staada
- Fast Healing and Heal other
- Poison Rune
- Tree Rings
- Skill Tome Spells
- Ignite/Freeze (Ahzidal's Ring of Arcana)
- Rift Bolt
- Unbound Frost
- Whirlwind Cloak
- Curse of the Silent
- Slow time
- Unrelenting Force
- Whirlwind Sprint
- Become Ethereal
- Lovers Insight
- Secret of Protection
- Secret Servant
- Seeker of Sorcery
- Dragonborn Force
On Scrolls and How to use them:
Scrolls are a very large part of Alyssa's repertoire. Here I will detail how you can make the most out of these often overlooked tools.
- Merchants: Probably the easiest and most straightforward way to find them. Court Wizards, College Mages and Urag always have a steady supply to stock up on.
- Fixed and respawning locations: There are several places around Skyrim where scrolls can be found reliably. Fort Amol Prison always has a Blizzard scroll on the desk. The newly added Dark Seducer and Golden Saint scrolls can be found in their respective camps and will respawn after a period of time. There are many other places. But if you are struggling the best bet is to pay close attention to tables and shelves when exploring mage and necromancer dungeons. Apocrypha is also a great place to find scrolls aplenty.
- As loot or on defeated enemies: With the help of the "Nose for Treasure" perk and being a devout follower of Syrabane, Alyssa's chances of finding scrolls as random loot is greatly increased.
- Crafting them: There are two options to craft vanilla spell scrolls. One is by making use of the Atronach Forge. The Atronach Forge will only net you one scroll per recipe, making it the less efficient option while only allowing you to craft atronach scrolls. The other option is an addition added by the "Magical College of Winterhold" mod. There is a scroll crafting station added to the Arcaneum. An appropriate spell tome eg Fireball or Frenzy can be used in conjunction with some paper rolls to create several scrolls (Master spells will only ever yield one scroll). A book recycling station is also added, which can be used to break down "Ruined" or "Burnt" books into paper rolls. So try to collect old books, they actually have a use now.
Scrolls can do pretty negligible damage, so I've done my best to think of ways to effectively increase their usefulness. In conjunction with what I have touched on above, what I have come up with makes scrolls extremely valuable tools. Before taking these two perks/effects Alyssa's Fireball scrolls would do a measly 40 points of damage. After taking these and having Enchanting at max level The Fireball Scroll is now capable of doing 300 points (technically 299, but we'll just round it to 300 for the sake of whole numbers). If that's not impressive enough, a Firestorm Scroll is capable of doing upwards of 1100 points of damage.
- Perks: The Last word perk in enchanting is a must for increasing the effectiveness of Alyssa's scrolls. The perk confers up to a 6% increase per level of enchanting. This is a great boost by level 100 in enchanting.
- Blessing of Xarxes: This shrine blessing can be obtained only through the "Wintersun" mod. Its easiest to access location is the Shrine of Ancestors, nearby Kynesgrove. In my playthrough, I left a "Milestone" so I could portal to it conveniently whenever I needed to get the blessing again. The shrine blessing confers a 25% boost to scroll effectiveness.
Key Scrolls to collect:
There is no small amount of scrolls to collect in the game. But below, I have listed the scrolls that I used the most during my playthrough. It is fine if you wish to use other scrolls, but the build is not dependent on them. Surplus scrolls can make for a great source of coin, if you find yourself with too much in your inventory.
- Fire Rune
- Saint/Seducer Scrolls
- Shalidor's Insights
The target's body is stricken with paralytic magics.
Singling out a paralysed foe, Alyssa's Golden Saint rushes them whilst they are helpless.
Alyssa transmutes a weakened enemy into gold dust and septims, earning a hefty purse.
Frost Step - Unbounded Frost + Whirlwind Sprint
Alyssa is able to summon up a flurry of ice to stun her foes, as she makes a quick escape.
A group of enemies are stricken helpless as they are engulfed in flame and molten ash.
All but the most powerful undead flee, their unlife burning away at the bite of ancient flames.
Magicka is leeched from Alyssa's foes, regenerating her own reserves.
Alyssa is able to quickly hamper a mage's magical abilities or a Dovah's th'um.
Enveloped in a whirlwind, wielding a shock spell and Ayleid stave, Alyssa lays down a sheet of lightning.
Alyssa releases a crazed soul upon an unsuspecting group and throws frenzy Illusions and the Wabbajack into the mix.
After inciting a target with fear, Alyssa conjures one of Sanguine's Dremora to her aid.
Bolar's Bravery - Bolar's Oathblade + Flesh Spell + Ward
The spirit of the Oathblade's previous wielder strengthens Alyssa's resolve, making her more resilient to incoming attacks.
For a short time, Alyssa is able to lock blades against opponents most mages would need to flee.
The Remnant Keeper was designed with utility and adaptability in mind. This makes Alyssa a very versatile character, capable of handling many scenarios thrown her way.
RP & Character - A few tips to help step into the shoes of an adventurer.
- Use those artefacts - It's not just Alyssa that can benefit from the artefacts you recover in her journey. Kit your companions out in those hard-earned arms and armours.
- No fast travelling - Carriages and milestones are fine, but try to avoid fast travelling where possible. It's much more rewarding to stumble across ruins naturally.
- Be Prepared - Have a think about where you intend to adventure to. What companion will compliment Alyssa the most? What are the most favourable scrolls and armaments to bring along?
Be sure to take advantage of the special abilities listed above. Some of them really play into one another brilliantly! 'Gold Rush' and 'The Midas Touch' pair great. And 'Mad Gods Party' and 'Sanguines Suprise' are an absolute hoot when combined. As you become more familiar with the build, you will see how much of a whacky blast this character can be!
Mages and Dragons - Oddly easy to deal with, thanks to a few choice artefacts and perks. Hit them with Jyriks' Staff, the curse of the silent spell and keep that ward up. They will quickly run out of Magicka, allowing for them to be easily dispatched. You should let your summons and followers do the heavy lifting on grounded dragons, though.
Archers - Make sure to keep that flesh spell on. These buggers can hit hard, so try hitting them with a paralysis spell, Flaming Familiars, or send in a Golden Saint or Dremora to ruin their day.
Warriors and Automatons - Try and let your follower or summon take care of these guys. Hang back to prepare a Paralysis or Fire Rune scroll trap in case you catch their attention. If you find yourself face-to-face with a charging Bandit Chief or Dwarven Sphere, make use of 'Bolar's Bravery' or the 'Golems Might' abilities. If you think you've exhausted all your options and things are looking really dire, use your Become Ethereal shout and have Alyssa whip out a scroll of Fire Storm. Then sit back and watch the entire room get blasted into Oblivion. If that doesn't work, then I don't know what will. Wabbajack em and leg it!
What can I say? But wow, did this build take me a long time! A year and a half or more of careful planning and playtesting went into this character. I really had a lot of fun with Alyssa, and I really hope you guys do too! The Remnant Keeper was a very rewarding experience to craft and pushed me out of my comfort zone on numerous occasions. With all of the great new additions added in bt the Anniversary Edition, what better time than to play an intrepid artefact hunter?
A few thank yous are in order. Thank you to Saronis, who was a great soundboard for ideas throughout this build. Thank you to Ponty, who offered some valuable insights also; his Lamp Descendant certainly was also a great inspiration for The Remnant Keeper among the previously listed muses in my foreword. And most importantly, thank you to my wife, who has given me nothing but encouragement to pursue my hobbies and creative pursuits <3
This was the first time I have used almost exclusively screenshots for a build, but I must say I am pleased with the results. The art for this character was just so tricky and specific to find, but the few I do have, I take no credit for. That should go to their amazing artists!
I'm happy to say I've come out the other side of this long endeavour resolved as ever with so many more fresh build ideas! This build was truly a labour of love, and I hope you all can enjoy it as much as I do. Until next time - Furrion