~ ~ ~
Everything I knew was a beautiful lie.
We were perfect people. We serve a perfect Emperor. We fought a perfect war.
I’ve trained my entire life to preserve this “perfection” until my dying breath. It was right. It was just. It was expected.
But it was so fragile.
A tour into our neighboring country was all it took to see the truth covered up by the crimson veil over my naïve eyes.
Persecution. Poverty. Bloodshed. Enslavement. Robbery. War.
Outside the safety of Cyrodiil, we become fully aware of the atrocities that we allow to take place. Such things cannot be so easily overlooked. We are not a simpleminded people. We are no longer ignorant to these things, yet we find ourselves doing the unimaginable.
We put our veil back on.
Am I to do the same? My kinsmen say yes. Our duties are to our own people and our emperor. We keep ourselves safe. Perhaps the other provinces are for income, leisure, and resources, but in the end, they simply aren’t our concern. They are under the emperor’s thumb. If they fall out of line, only then would we interfere- to crush them.
As far as I am concerned, these are my people. Regardless of race or ethnicity, they are still people. They are children of an empire that doesn’t care if they live or die, and some still manage to cling to hope that someday we will start to care again. They need to be protected from the man who claims to be their protector. No one understands this more than Ulfric Stormcloak.
They consider me a traitor, but I don’t see it that way. Traitors turn their back on those that trusted them, those that needed them. I once was a traitor but no longer. My eyes unveiled, I see things clearly now. The biggest traitor is the one on the throne.
What about those I fought alongside in Cyrodiil? What about my native brothers and sisters?
It is their choice to remain blinded. I pray for them daily to open their eyes. They are not my brothers or sisters, and perhaps they never were. There is a difference in kinsmen and brothers.
~ ~ ~
Hey y’all! Kendrix here with my first ever build! WHOOP WHOOP. In all honesty, I don’t know how well this is going to go, but I really had fun doing this so why not post it? This build has inspired me to create more in the future, so if you like it, expect more content soon!
This build is by request of several people (thank you, guys), and was created for the “Tales of Tamriel” event. It is based on the protagonist from my fan-fiction “In Love and War”. To begin reading follow the link here. Inspired character backstory is found below with both Modded and Vanilla starts, but the beginning is the same for both. Mods used will be listed at the end of this build.
I want to give special thanks to Curse for formatting and editing this build for me. He's done a fantastic job with the site and is so helpful to noobs like me. Hah.
Without further ado…
Born into the line of nobility in one of the thriving cities of Cyrodiil, Talia Maro never really knew hardship or hurt. Sure, her immediate family wasn’t close to the rest of the clan, and her father never spent more than a few hours at home, but she never had a want that wasn’t met and never felt unloved. When not learning how to read and write, young Talia spent her time at the Chapel of Dibella learning the arts of Restoration, a skill that would prove handy many, many times. The life of a noble, even an outcast one, was something to be envied.
Talia always assumed that was why the assassin came, but it has yet to be confirmed. In one night her entire life changed. Everyone in her home was slaughtered, save for Talia. This was the first time she ever experienced the pain of injustice. Her family had never wronged anyone. They were good people that didn’t deserve to die. Taking an innocent life was a crime she could not comprehend. From those moments on, she viewed life outside of the filter of innocence. There were bad people doing bad things all around her. She had just never been open to the idea.
After her uncle, an esteemed member of the Penitus Oculatus, took her in as his own, she swore she would help fight injustice wherever it reared its head. With the resources of the Emperor’s Guard at her disposal, Talia taught herself about the true nature of the world. She learned how to defend innocence and preserve order by tongue and sword. When she became of age, she followed her uncle’s lead by joining the ranks of the Penitus Oculatus. Who better than to shelter the world from disorder than the man who held it in the palm of his hand? Serving under him, she was a vessel of his righteous fury, meant to strike down any and all who opposed his just rule and order.
Rumors stirring in the north told of a rebellion in the country of Skyrim. The emperor himself wanted to investigate those claims. As a precaution, he sent the best of his guard into the neighboring providence to set up secure routes and allies for him to tour the largest cities openly…
~ ~ ~
Modded start: After arriving in Skyrim, Talia was sent to the hamlet of Helgen to retrieve the general of the Imperial Legion’s Skyrim division. When she arrives, she finds the town completely destroyed. Upon further investigation, she discovers a seemingly lone survivor. When she helps the Nord and brings him safely to his camp, she learns the man is none other than Ulfric Stormcloak, the very man leading the rebellion against her empire. Curious about his claims of oppression and enslavement, Talia begins an investigation to decide for herself who is right and who is wrong in the impending Civil War. The woman then learns of the Great War through Skyrim’s eyes, the banning of Talos, and the kidnappings made by the Thalmor that are not only overlooked by the empire but encouraged. Outraged by the lies she had been told her whole life, Talia agrees to help the Stormcloaks in whatever way they can. When she learns they are in need of a spy to get important information from the opposing side, she agrees to be the Turncoat they need.
Vanilla start: After arriving in Skyrim, Talia was sent to the hamlet of Helgen to retrieve the general of the Imperial Legion’s Skyrim division. Along the way, she misses a turn or two and ends up much farther east than expected. Nearing Darkwater Crossing, Talia finds herself amid an ambush. Caught up in the chaos, she doesn’t aid or prevent the fighting, making her look awfully suspicious to the Legionnaires. She tries to explain who she is and what was going on, but the cocky, victory-drunk soldiers aren’t too keen on believing her. They hadn’t heard of the Penitus Oculatus making their way to Skyrim. With that, they strip her of her “stolen” gear and place her on a wagon to Helgen.
On the wagon she meets her “enemies”, the Stormcloaks, and finds out they really aren’t as barbaric and unkind as the empire portrays them. In fact, they seem sympathetic to the predicament she found herself in. Curious as to what their side of the story is, Talia vows that if she ever makes it out of Helgen, she would investigate their cause. Luckily, and also unluckily, a dragon inadvertently rescues the captives allowing them to escape the Legion through tunnels. From there, Talia investigates the country on her way to Windhelm, uncovering many of the empire’s secrets along the way. By the time she reaches Windhelm, she agrees to join the Ulfric in the fight, aiding him as a Turncoat to spy on the general that almost took her life.
The term “turncoat” is recorded to have been used as early as 1557. The origin of “turncoat” is easy to understand as well. A man of the British army- a blue coat at the time- wanted to defect to the French- the white coats. He couldn’t make his way to them without being killed, as any sign of blue coats would possibly have him killed by the very people he wished to join. He had noticed, however, the inside of his coat was white, resembling said French. He then turned his coat inside out to avoid being seen as the enemy. As a result, he was able to enter the French camp and talk to them. Since then, the term has been widely accepted to mean someone who is a traitor, defector, or, in Talia’s case, a spy.
Given the reach of the empire’s hold on Tamriel and the controversial end of the Great War, it would not be a far stretch to assume Talia had other Turncoat predecessors. Ulfric Stormcloak and Galmar Stonefist are two known Nord defectors from the legion. It is safe to assume most, if not all, older citizens of Skyrim who support the Rebellion are also defectors. What sets this specific build apart from typical defectors is the character’s ability to “turncoat” again and again. This doesn’t necessarily mean playing both sides. Rather, the character can be the mindless, legionnaire yes-man they are expected to be to blend in with their enemy then become the righteous-driven, free-thinking, Stormcloak liberator they were born to be. Further, it is stated by Imperial soldiers in idle conversation that the player should “watch out for Stormcloak spies”.
At the very least, this suggests that some Nords have been able to enter the Legion, obtain information needed, then leave to report it back to their superiors. Very few men can pull this off in the Lore, but it has been done at least enough times to cause enough concern for the Legion.
Imperial. Talia is a native-born woman of Cyrodiil. Imperial is the most logical race, given that the Turncoat is a Member of the Penitus Oculatus. It would be highly unlikely any other race besides Imperial would be guarding the Cyrodillic ruler.
- If you wish to play through the build with a character different than Talia, any of the man races will work as mer and beast races would have significantly lower chances of being in the Penitus Oculatus. Gender doesn’t matter.
The Lady Stone. Talia is a devote student of Dibella. It only makes sense she would honor her goddess by taking the blessings of her stone. It doesn’t hurt that the stone also helps regenerate health and stamina- two essentials for a light-armored warrior.
- Other possible stones may include The Lord Stone- to improve armor rating, resist magic, and provide a masculine alternative to The Lady Stone- or The Lover Stone- to improve skills quickly.
Blessing of Dibella, The Gift of Charity. It’s highly unlikely she’ll be practicing Dibellian arts in the midst of war, but it doesn’t hurt to have the Lady’s blessing. Under her watchful eye, speech is improved making it much easier to talk your way into or out of a sticky situation. Giving to the poor has its perks too. In addition to another blessing, people take notice of the kindness will be more willing to hear you out.
None. Talia tends to veer away from Daedra and their “gifts” of vampirism and lycantropy.
Yes. No one wins a war alone. It takes teams of people working together to accomplish a goal. Followers of this build must be willing to join the Rebellion or are already a member, be skilled with melee and ranged weapons, and have a somewhat high sneak skill. For those willing to use mods, I recommend the follower “Frida”. She meets every criterion of a follower for this build and resembles an important secondary character, Kaita Snow-Hare, in “In Love and War”. For those not using mods, Benor in Morthal, Stenvar in Windhelm, or Faendal in Riverwood make decent followers without doing any unnecessary faction quests or becoming thane. Animal followers work well with this build as well, especially if you plan on blending in rather than sneaking about.
Stormcloak Rebellion. The only faction you need to join is the Rebellion. In game, it is impossible to join the Penitus Oculatus. Besides, Talia is a member beforehand.
- If you choose to play as Dragonborn as well, you may join the Greybeards and/or Blades, since neither of them have much of an effect on the build. It is suggested to complete the Civil War questline before the main questline, else you may run into some awkward situations at the Season Unending quest. If this does happen, it’s best to go incognito (see armor below), and side with the Stormcloaks.
Rogue Class. Light Armor, Light Weapons, Strong Bow, Swift Arrows. Add in a steed and a competent companion and Talia is ready to charge into battle. This build really doesn’t fit into any of the standard archetypes. A light armored warrior that relies both on archery, melee, and restoration spells is difficult to place in a definite position.
Imperial Sword, Imperial Bow, Steel Arrows, Steel Daggers (2). She can’t seem to break away from her roots. Standardized Legion weaponry makes up this build’s arsenal. Light-weight and basic, these weapons ensure a fair fight against any enemy you may encounter. This build relies less on the strength of your weapons and more on the skills you possess yourself. I will elaborate in the Perks section below.
Penitus Oculatus Helmet, Penitus Oculatus Armor, Penitus Oculatus Bracers, Penitus Oculatus Boots, Hooded Krosis, Stormcloak Officer Armor, Stormcloak Officer Bracers, Stormcloak Officer Boots, Imperial Light Shield. The bulk of Talia’s carry weight is focused on toting around her wardrobe. Base level, carrying around so much armor can over-encumber you really fast. One way around this is enchanting the armor:
· Penitus Oculatus Helmet: Fortify Light Armor
· Penitus Oculatus Armor/Stormcloak Officer Armor: Fortify One-Handed
· Penitus Oculatus Bracers/Stormcloak Officer Bracers: Fortify Archery
· Penitus Oculatus Boots/Stormcloak Officer Boots: Fortify Carry Weight
The Fortify Carry Weight on either pair of boots helps take the load off you so you can carry more things. Another way around the weight can be seen below in the Perks Section.
The rest of the enchantments are optional but are extremely helpful. Hooded Krosis didn’t made the list since it is already enchanted and will not need to be taken to the Arcane Enchanter. Krosis is essential for Talia as it not only increases lockpicking, archery, and alchemy, but it also protects her identity. Any mask will serve this purpose in the build, but I found Krosis most useful. For tips on how to make Krosis hooded, refer to the Cheats section below.
Healing, Fast Healing, Healing Hands. Studying for years in the Chapel of Dibella has its perks. Most magicka users focus in on the other schools: Destruction, Conjuration, Illusion… Restoration is sometimes overlooked but is completely necessary for this build. How can your character help the hurt and oppressed if they can’t even do anything to relieve their own pain? Magicka is a very small part of the build but should not be forgotten. Make sure to acquire the spells as soon as possible. You never know when you’ll run into someone needing your help.
None. Talia is not the Dragonborn of Legend and cannot shout on demand.
- Should you play as Dragonborn with the Turncoat Build, useful shouts would be “Throw Voice”, to confuse the enemy and allow a quick get away, and “Elemental Fury”, to allow faster weapon strikes for the times escape is not an option.
Amulet of Dibella. The one thing to pull any outfit together. The Amulet further solidifies the characters speech skills, making them much better communicators.
- Other amulet options are the Amulet of Mara for faster restoration purposes or the Amulet of Stendarr to assist with blocking.
1 Magicka: 3 Health: 2 Stamina
Magicka increase should only be brought to level 150, giving you just enough Magicka to heal yourself in a fix, or someone else who might need it along the way. After maxing out the Magicka, stats can be placed on Health and Stamina at a 2:1 ratio. Both Health and Stamina can be improved indefinitely, though the character receives all the available perk points needed around Level 48.
(Image by Curse-Never-Dying)
Major Perk Placement
Speech: Never underestimate the power of communication. The life of a turncoat presents many opportunities to land yourself in plenty of trouble. Fighting your way out isn’t always the best option. Rather, a cunning, persuasive, perhaps even intimidating approach will be the better approach. Though money really isn’t a driving factor, it won’t hurt anyone if you get a good deal every now and then.
One-handed: Talk does nothing if you don’t have the skill to back it up. For this skill, you want to focus on speed and grace rather than brutality. As a turncoat, most of your enemies are your former allies. They deserve a swift death, painless if possible. To bleed and suffer them more than necessary is to sink to their level.
Archery: The best way to avoid conflict is to eliminate the enemy at a distance. This skill comes in handy during stealth-and-recon, rescue, and infiltration missions. Like with one-handed, you want to ensure quick deaths. Accuracy is vital when shooting from a distance so perks such as Eagle Eye and Steady Hand are a must.
Light Armor: The most valuable asset to a turncoat is their armor. It’s an identification of who they are and who they could be. Carrying around so many uniforms can become burdensome, however. To improve the armor all the way around, it is important to max out this skill tree as soon as possible. Not only does the armor performance improve, the weight of said armor completely disappears. With Unhindered movement and little to weigh you down, walking, sneaking, and running around become much easier as well.
Minor Perk Placement
Restoration: A minor perk, but restoration is invaluable. In the heat of battle, the lives of your friends are at stake. While there are more advanced spells out there, all you really need is some apprentice level healing. With perks like Regeneration and Duel Casting, the spells last longer and are more powerful, making up for basicness of the low-level spells.
Block: A shield pairs very well with a sword. Rather than just relying on the strength of your armor that can break and damage over time, a shield is a great defense to break even the strongest of attacks. The two most helpful perks are Deflect Arrows and Quick Reflexes. It’s nice to have a guard in place to protect against volleys of arrows they will likely come your way.
Enchanting: When quality armor with proper enchantments is hard to come by, it’s much easier to make it yourself. Be sure to enchant both sets of armor as you will be using both fairly often. It is highly suggested you fill the above perks before moving to enchant your armor as the enchantments will be much stronger.
Smithing: The armors for this build cannot be improved past flawless quality, but with the Light Armor perks, it provides a nice little boost for your defenses. If you choose to enchant your armor before improving smithing, the Arcane Blacksmith perk allows you to continue improving the sets. For improving the mask Krosis, you will need the Daedric Smithing perk at level 90, but it is not necessary to improve the mask. For this reason, Smithing can cap off at level 60.
Ranged- This build doesn’t focus one sneaking. Rather, you will rely on range to eliminate troublesome targets and thin out groups that would otherwise overwhelm you in close combat. For this reason, Eagle Eye and Steady Hand are essential. When traveling, it is a good idea to keep your bow at the ready and keep your eyes on your surroundings. Take the high ground if you can help it. This increases visibility and decreases the chances of being spotted before you have a chance to draw your weapon. Always shoot to kill. A misplaced shot means alerting enemies to your position. Once acquired, the perks are great at making sure your shots are precise and deadly. Be sure to stock up on arrows every chance you have or loot them from your targets. Ammunition runs out faster than you think.
Melee- Close combat requires concentration, strong armor, a forceful block, and a deadly sword arm. Melee weapons are categorized into two parts: primary and secondary. Your primary weaponry will be your sword and shield. This combo provides both a solid offense and defense and is a classic pairing in war. With perks such as Quick Reflexes and higher level Bladesman, blocking the strongest of attacks and retaliating quickly can be performed like clockwork with just a few hours practice.
The secondary weapons are the pairing daggers you keep in reserve. If something were to happen to the sword- a disarming blow or a chipped blade, for examples- the daggers can be used to defend yourself until you recover another weapon or make it to safety. Regardless of their secondary status, the pairing daggers can be deadly in their own right. Just like with ranged weapons, you want strength and accuracy to ensure quick kills. In the heat of battle, time is a luxury you simply can’t afford. Both you and your allies’ hides are on the line. When it comes down to it, the results of the battle rests on the time and effort you spent honing your skills and improving your equipment.
Magic- Unlike other builds, The Turncoat focuses only on the positive effects of magic rather than its destructive counterpart. The only spells you will need to know are lower level healing spells: Healing, Fast Healing, and Healing Hands. The spells can be used in place of a shield during battle to aid in your own healing or that of your followers and allies. This eliminates a defensive safeguard, but counters with effective health regeneration. Another option for using Restoration is to Duel Wield the spells in the aftermath of battle. Many of your allies will find themselves suffering from ailments and injuries of every sort after a lengthy fight and will gladly take some relief. You may even find yourself in need of some stitching.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself in an ambush you cannot escape, or you’ve found a family of civilians caught up in the middle of a battle. In either situation, this power will make the difference between life and death. Using a special skill all Imperials possess, you can call a Cease-fire in the immediate area. All soldiers within hearing range will have to retire their weapons, if only for a minute or so.
This allows you plenty of time to sprint off or escort the civilians with you. In either situation, you want to put as much distance between you and the enemy as possible. Weightless armor and quick stamina regeneration will aid in your escape and return to the battle as soon as you’ve ensured the safety of those around you.
The Legion has recruited all races to their cause. Perhaps the most troubling are those hulking orcs. Boundless stamina gives them ample energy to power attack again and again. Luckily, the Turncoat has a way of avoiding all that damage. Quick Reflexes allows you to slow time by blocking during a power attack.
Your heightened senses during this time allow you to successfully avoid the whole of the attack, letting the brute stagger forward in recovery. With practice, improved weapons, and high-level perks, you can retaliate with a power attack of your own. All of this happens in the span of a second or two, but that’s all the time you need for a salvation.
With the release of your arrow, you send unsuspecting enemies back to Aetherius. Archery perks and fortifications mixed with a bow of legendary status makes for deadly combination. With each carefully placed arrow, you send men to the afterlife. You may not be a Priest/Priestess of Arkay but be sure to give them their last rites.
Characters following this build are meant to stand out. They aren’t mere Legionnaires. This build is meant to give the character the highest possible starting point in the Legions ranks: the Penitus Oculatus. Not many members of the Emperor’s Guard are going to have reason to give up the good life to become an underling. There must be a strong drive to get them to leave what they have devoted their life to. It can’t be gold or fame, as both of those come with the honor of their title. What is the character’s motivation to defect?
Turncoats know their enemy and the mindset they have. Rather than hatred or rage, they are sympathetic and will try to convert them to their own cause if the opportunity presents itself. Their go-to strategy when dealing with conflict is negotiation, but that doesn’t mean they’re a pushover. If things get too heated, a Turncoat will not hesitate to defend themselves, their allies, or the common man by sword. Swift and painless deaths are the goal, so unenchanted, reliable weapons make up their inventory. Avoid using poisons and paralysis potions as well as they cause unnecessary pain and fear in then enemy.
Help everyone. A Turncoat wants the best for the people above all else, and they are not above doing the most tedious of tasks. They will give to the poor, help pick crops, even catch butterflies if asked. Accept any quest given by a minor NPC that requires retrieving something that was stolen or lost, negotiating with another NPC, or preforming a medial task. A great rule of thumb for playing this build is if it doesn’t hurt someone else or break the law, do it. They only time you should break the law is to benefit your cause. Future High King Ulfric will excuse minor crimes preformed in the name of the Stormcloaks. Never provoke a fight but never back down.
For a more immersive, in-depth experience, never fast travel anywhere. Walk, run, or ride to get wherever you plan on going. If you have a mod that allows you to get on and off a carriage during transportation, it would be alright to use, but otherwise carriages should be avoided. With some of the mods listed below, you’ll find travel on foot to be a much more rewarding experience. You may encounter allies who need to be freed, enemy soldiers waiting in ambush, or even the remains of a hard-fought battle. Walking also lets you level skills such as archery and one-handed faster.
There are many fun quests characters of this build can participate in, but I decided to list the most relevant and important ones.
Civil War Questline: These are the only essential quests for this character build. If you choose to go straight to Windhelm after leaving Helgen rather than starting the Civil War Questline, it doesn’t affect gameplay. During “Message to Whiterun” Jarl Balgruff will refuse to discuss the war until you complete both “Bleak Falls Barrow” and “Dragon Rising”. After completing those two, you can simply ignore the next quest and insist he talk about the war. This will progress the Civil War storyline.
Missing in Action: With this quest, you get to help both citizens and Stormcloak brothers. You also get to kill some Thalmor, which is always fun. This quest can be completed at any time during the questline.
Blood on the Ice: After completing the Fort Neugrad quest, Ulfric gives you permission to purchase property in the city so you will always be close by. If you go talk to his steward to purchase the home, he will tell you it is unavailable due to some “unpleasantness”. Upon further investigation, you learn of a series of murders taking place. To purchase the house, you must solve the mystery and stop the killer.
Bonds of Matrimony: There’s a certain sense of accomplishment after ending the war. No longer is Skyrim under the oppressive rule of the empire and they are free to worship as they please. You’ve made a lot of good friends during the War and you’ll be sure to stay close. Some of them you might want to keep closer than others. Using mods, it’s possible to marry any of the heroes of the Civil War, from Ralof to even Ulfric himself. They can be your follower and lover for life. Mods are listed below.
All mods links are for Skyrim: Special Edition but are available for other editions as well.
Alternate Start: Provides the option to start with the Penitus Oculatus when you play as an Imperial.
Imperious- Races of Skyrim: Provides great, lore friendly perks for different races. Aid in Imperial perks and immunities.
Immersive Armors: Revamps the armors of both Imperials and Stormcloaks to make them much more aesthetic and introduces many more lore friendly, craftable, collectible armors.
Skyrim Civil War Uniforms: When wearing Stormcloak armor around Legionnaires, it causes them to attack and vice versa. Great reminder to switch armors when entering hostile areas.
Skyrim Civil War Ambushes: Adds immersion to the game by having squads of enemy soldiers lay in wait along roads. The life of a Turncoat is perilous; this mod just serves as a reminder.
Skyrim Battle Aftermath: Adds two huge battlefields to the Skyrim map.
Civil War Battlefields: Adds several minor battlefields, structures, and dead to the Skyrim map.
Frida Follower: Adds a new follower to the game that resembles a character from “In Love and War”.
Patron Gods of Skyrim: Allows an additional blessing to be given and a patron god assigned to the player.
Love Potion: Opens the option to marry many more NPCs and move them into your house.
Obedient Ulfric: Opens the option to marry Ulfric Stormcloak at the conclusion of the Civil War. He also becomes a follower.
Whistle: Power that calls a owned horse to your location regardless of distance.
Hooded Krosis Hack
To make Krosis Hooded when wearing the mask, leave your Penitus Oculatus Helmet on when changing into the Stormcloak Officer Uniform. When you want to wear the mask, simply equip it without unequipping the helmet. To show your face again, unequip the mask. This technique works with other Dragon Priest masks and is said to work with other headgear, like circlets.
So, that’s it I guess. Overall, I had a lot of fun doing this build! When I post the conclusion of “In Love and War” I’ll post a detailed guide on how to replay the story through the game, listing the stops and stays along the way! I would love to hear feedback from everyone to see what I need to do to improve. Like I said, it’s my first build so I’m expecting a lot of critiques! Thank you for reading guys!
As always, Talos Guide You!