It’s been so long since I’ve played a truly evil character. I find it almost therapeutic to become a cackling, torturing fiend of the darkness. Adding in a glass cannon that manages to tank excellently (due to some superior Health Regen) and a rich backstory and roleplay, the Werelion is probably my favourite evil character and the perfect antidote to all that holiday sugarplum nonsense.
While lions are typically seen in fantasy as holy and noble, almost paladin-like, the in-game book “On Lycanthropy” had a very interesting line that inspired this build (as well as a goofy but hysterically fun playthrough of a werevulture, which was at war with the Bosmer).
Black Marsh also shares with the Imperial Province and the wetter parts of Elsweyr the vile presence of werelions.
- “On Lycanthropy” by Varnard Karessen
Previously some of the finest warriors, werelions made up much of the ancient armies of Elsweyr. They were respected as great creations of Azurah, who made them for the purpose of warfare, in order to face the enemies of the Khajiit in open combat. Their transformation was attributed to the Great Darkness, the foulest and most bestial deity in the Khajiit religion, which allowed them to tap into the most violent and primal forms of themselves. But as Khajiit culture values balance in both the world and individuals, the fact that this primal evil was housed in their great paladins wasn’t something to be concerned about.
However, during the Second Era, Elsweyr fell into a state of political and economic depression following several vicious wars and plagues. The nation was in chaos, the people were begging for answers and scapegoats. The werelions were held responsible for the unconnected travesties and bad luck of Elsweyr. The transformation was deemed heretical and their great warriors were accused of worshipping the Great Darkness. They were slaughtered in their barracks, but a few made good their escape, transforming and fleeing the cities.
Years passed, and gradually the few who lived in the wild formed small tribal societies in the lush greenery of the Tenmar Forest, raising youngsters, training warriors and wise women, passing through their blood the secret of the werelion, and living their lives as isolated tribespeople.
The worst part is that the distressed Khajiit was correct. The commanders of the werelions were worshippers of the Great Darkness, and battled in Her unholy name, passing on a lot more than their werelion blood to those they trained. The Great Darkness saved a scant few from the slaughter and allowed them to raise shrines and cities for Her. Over the years, these small tribes grew corrupt as they festered on the edges of Khajiiti society and Namiira blessed them with the ability to blend into Her Darkness, transforming them into pale sickening creatures of Her design, even in their Khajiit form.
Stats : 0/3/1. A stealthy, magic-free vampire build, the only magic we use is the Voice and the Ritual Stone.
Standing Stone : Lady / Ritual
Skills : Two-Handed, Sneak, Block, Archery, Alchemy, (Illusion, trained for the purpose of Quiet Casting and silent shouts)
Followers : Eola, Cicero
Alignment: Lawful Evil
I wanted to look simple and savage. A little delving into Khajiit society showed an interesting taboo: it’s a great shame to show one’s torso fur. So, obviously, I went for the skirt variety of Fur Armor, which is easily looted from bandits early on and can look badass on Khajiit.
I found Predator’s Grace boots to be very useful, as its Muffle is 1pt, every other Muffle is 0.5pt, but random Scaled Boots of useful enchantments are also viable. Scaled Bracers can be found early during “With Friends Like These…” and make for a nice armor rating, but can look a bit strange. The Helm of Yngol is very nice and savage, buffing our frost resistance another 30%, which will be necessary with our necromancing.
I swapped between the Ring of Namira, Ahzidal’s Ring of Necromancy and the Ring of the Beast as the situation demanded or when I could get them.
The Locket of St. Jiub will be our necklace of choice, since 50pts of both Stamina and Carry Weight is very nice indeed. Otherwise, leveled enchanted necklaces can be used.
The Ebony Blade is really the star of this build though, supplying a formidable healing rate to complement our health regeneration, and we can enhance its Absorb Health effect with Weakness of Magic poisons, temporarily making it much more powerful and giving us more health per swing. Its speed matches well with its enchantment.
There are many lovely bows in Skyrim, but I felt the Bow of the Stag Prince was both statistically nice and fitting, giving a not insubstantial buff and a “free” glass-level bow at early levels. Check the UESP for how to attain it.
The Targe of the Blooded in combination with a lethal claw can be used against bosses or those who won’t kneel to the Ebony Blade. The Targe fits both in looks and the bleed effect is wonderfully savage.
Useful enchantments include: Fortify Healing Rate, Fortify Stamina Rate, Fortify Two-Handed, Fortify Block.
This is my new favourite Standing Stone.
A very powerful glitch that can easily get out of hand, it requires almost a monk-like level of discipline to use properly. It’s a resto-loop designed to give us a bonus of anywhere in the range of 150-200% more health and stamina regeneration (using a Potion of Fortify Restoration 600-800%). This makes the extra regeneration worthwhile and gives a beast-like feeling to a very bestial character.
To counteract this glitch, I deliberately chose mismatched armor with crap statistics and no perks in any armor, not using the Lord Stone or Alteration. Our best defense will be stealth and health regeneration. Combined with the Ebony Blade (Absorb Health 10-30pts) and Namiira’s Ring (50% Health Regen and 50pts Health when cannibalising), the Werelion will still be vulnerable in close combat and one wrong move can and will kill you, but you have a savage defense to go along with your gear and mission.
Although living in prides, lions hunt very stealthily, mainly because they aren’t particularly fast or durable. They’re all offense; in gameplay terms, a glass cannon. And so, the werelion pounces on his prey. You will also want to utilize stealth as a scouting mechanic, to check out the area, and the additional 25% vampire stealth is very useful. You never want to be surprised as the King of the Jungle, and the cat-man in a bit of Fur Armor.
Against Mages: Mages are naturally squishy to melee damage, which makes them very susceptible to the Absorb Health enchantment.
Against Chargers (melee monstrosities): A sensible move would be to stay in the shadows and sow some poisons in their ranks. Slow and Ravage Stamina for the big ’uns and standard Damage Health for the mooks. Then, pounce.
Against Archers: Archer vs. Archer duels are some of my favourite combat moments, but long-range fighters can be a massive pain when you’re in a melee with someone else. Taking these guys out when you survey the battlegrounds should be priority number one.
Against Bosses (Dragons, Draugr Deathlords, Dwemer Centurions): This is when the “tanking to the point of suicide” comes in. Using a shield gives us more defense than weapon-blocking, and our claws are quite damaging if you want to swap out (make sure to wear the Ring of the Beast for claw attacks). Health Regen is our top priority, as our best defense is a good offense—potions, a Necklace of Revival, and Namiira’s blessing.
Great Critical Charge + Silent Roll
The much-loved assassin move traditionally used with daggers, it also works with two-handed weapons, giving us a 4x sneak damage. It works just as well with two handers, but demands a lot of stamina if you want to chain it. Hotkeying stamina potions allows this to go on for quite some time, if you can get the timing down.
Silent Roll + Shield Charge
Believe it or not, Shield Charge works with two-handers and since Silent Roll is counted as a sprint we can send people flying. I normally used this when I wanted to “break” a group of bandits by sending their leader into orbit. Because of how quickly Block levels, you can get Shield Charge sooner than you think.
Sweep + Concentrated Poison + Disgrace
Probably my favourite find, the Sweep perk allows you to hit multiple enemies with one swing, and Concentrated Poison allows poisons to last for two swings. Well, this is crowd control at its finest, ladies and gentlemen. Two swings and you could have a horde of bandits hit the deck for a good 10 seconds.
Of course, you could always go all werelion on their asses…
- Strip off all armor, keep a suitable necklace and the Rings
- Drink the Elixirs of the Werelion, refresh as needed
- Equip Ragged Trousers (so you aren’t wearing an immersion-breaking loincloth) and the Aetherial Crown (Ritual)
- Use only use your own claws as weapons
- Use the Aetherial Crown and Shouts as defense
The Werelion makes liberal use of Shouts, but I tried to keep the selection of Shouts to what a werelion would be able to use. If you feel the need for cooldown reductions, there is always Talos Blessings and talismans, since we do rely on Shouting, and Alchemy can give the full reduction cooldown, if you don’t mind another glitch.
- Dismay, Disarm, Unrelenting Force and Animal Allegiance, like the werewolf howl of terror. Make sure to keep the animals of Namiira’s realm of disgust and darkness friendly to you (spiders, chaurus, skeevers, ash hoppers) and create a pride of saber cats.
- Aura Whisper and Throw Voice, for a lion’s supernatural stealth.
- Slow Time and Become Ethereal, to mimic a werelion’s agility and finesse. I also used these two in Khajiit form.
- Soul Tear, Frost Breath, Ice Form and Marked for Death, for the werelions’ affiliation for Necromancy
The gameplay and combat writes itself. Everywhere you go enemies will be dropping their weapons, fleeing in terror, having the souls ripped from their bodies, having said bodies ravaged by disease and decay, and being mauled to death in slow motion by your rapid claws, only to be raised in a mass ritual to the Great Darkness. Their bodies can explode in a frosty boom from the Ring of Necromancy (augmented by Fortify Destruction Potions), while their friends stagger and slow and you’re barely touched due to your high Frost Resistance.
I would also advise you not to use this in civilized areas. Even though we look quite silly, we are meant to be a massive, terrifying beast from legend. Townsfolk should not take kindly to us. If you are in this form, be warned that “the Beast” (the primal energy that can cause werewolves to go feral) is much stronger and random massacre may occur (and is a great roleplaying mechanic, not to mention excellent stress relief).
The menagerie of potions we take to emulate a powerful alternate form. One of the big perks of using potions is that your werelion form will continue to grow in power as you make more powerful Elixirs and level up Alchemy. I’d advise you stockpile on ingredients early in game, then make the potions as time goes on. At the endgame, you’ll be making potions of upwards 130% Health Regen, which can be combined with Namiira’s Blessing (50%) and the Powered Lady Stone, doing colossal damage with Fortify Marksman Potions, the Ring of the Beast, and Marked for Death.
I chose to incorporate poisons (and shivs, since they look like claws) for “conductors” (weakness to elementals and devastating bleed attacks), because Frost Breath is a cool idea but is sadly lacking oomph.
Azidal’s Ring of Necromancy + Ritual Crown + Unrelenting Force
While raising an undead army courtesy of Namiira, the Werelion is aware of the degenerate necromancers who came before him and uses his newfound Voice to push the resurrected minions towards their former friends as they explode in a hail of frost.
Quiet Casting + Marked For Death + Slow Time + Unrelenting Force (x3)
Sheltered in the Great Darkness’s slimy hand, the Werelion tears open a portal to his Queen’s realm, unleashing a wretched disease that causes even great warriors to wither as they stand. As he tears the portal wider, time begins to melt in the face of Her greatness and the howling winds of the Void throw the mere mortals against the tomb wall with a sickening thud.
Marked for Death + Dismay + Aura Whisper
Every cub knows patience is a virtue. The Werelion’s roar can strike terror into all but the strongest of men and mer, sending them fleeing as their soul degrades, slipping into Namiira’s haunted clutches. But the Werelion doesn’t charge. He sits and he waits. Because dinner is coming.
Slow Time + Conduit to the Void + Claw of the Werelion + Frost Breath + Dragonborn Frost
The Werelion utilizes his powerful senses and muscles to act quickly, ravaging the bodies of his foes with corrupted claws before unleashing a terrible torrent of frost and mayhem that ices anyone in its path. Able to take down the most ferocious of Skyrim’s inhabitants, their blood freezes in the soulless ice before slipping away to the Great Darkness.
“In all the darkest pages of the malign supernatural there is no more terrible tradition than that of the Werelion, a pariah even among demons.”
Lost to the Ages, Companions, Dark Brotherhood, Daedric Quests (Namira)
Since Khajiit religion is all about balance, Namiira is the “anti”, she keeps things in check by creating evilfor the good Khajiit to fight against. Khajiit see the world as a constant tug-of-war between the forces of good and evil, with both sides fully knowing one serves goodness and the other evil.
The werelions know they’re evil. They’re born to be evil and respect their lot in life. It’s their duty to balance out the good with their own mayhem, but they do have (I imagine) a strict society of traditions and order, according to their patron Lady.
This evil is based in chaos and disorder, and the best way to disturb anything is start at the source, and one of the few things keeping Skyrim together in a time of Civil War and dragon attacks is the order of the Companions. So, naturally, we want to destroy them, but first we will stalk our prey, learn how they fight and infiltrate their order.
However, we’re still devouts of Namiira and her sphere is the ancient darkness of Before. In man/mer terms, the werelions serve the Void. She is the bastard daughter of Padomay (Sithis) and is thought to reign over this darkness ever since her father left to create life on Nirn and form the Khajiit with Azurah. As worshippers of Namiira, we should join the Dark Brotherhood, as its secrecy serves us well. Become a vampire, primarily for the look and sneak buff, but the immunity to disease suits us well.
These two factions will give us breathing room to level. These two factions can give you a lot of running around to do, so take the roads and start collecting shouts. While in Markarth, also pick up Namiira’s sacred ring and begin cannibalising anyone and everyone who can’t run fast enough, and put together the Aetherial Crown. By the time the Companions are finished (the questline and the Circle slaughtered, either until they’re on their knees or you’re thigh deep in werewolf corpses) and the Dark Brotherhood being reformed under Namiira, we will no longer be miscreant cubs but fully powered beasts of Darkness. Disregard the werewolf power. Your werelion blood is too strong for the machinations of a petty lord like the Hungry Cat to corrupt. Cure yourself and contract vampirism again.
“In all the darkest pages of the malign supernatural there is no more terrible tradition than that of the Werelion, a pariah even among demons.”
Dawnguard (Volikhar), Civil War (Stormcloaks), Daedric Quests (Azura, Mephala), Main Quest, Dragonborn
Now that the Werelion has fully transformed for the first time, he can start inflicting terror and chaos on a grander scale. Empowering and instigating a hostile takeover of the reigning vampire cult gives the werelions a foothold in Skyrim’s underworld, while corrupting Azura’s prized artifact and claiming Mephala’s own allows us to influence the Daedric realms of power and control. Finishing the Civil War for the Stormcloaks lets us tear the Empire apart and weaken all the provinces of man, mer, and beast.
Eola, despite being a Breton, is the leader of Namiira’s Coven and Namiira does approve of her, so Eola makes a good underling for an evil, greatsword-toting werelion. She also can sneak and summon atronachs to distract in battle. Cicero makes a fine alternate, but I can’t stand him personally. There’s a difference between charming madness and irritating insanity and Cicero walks that line very uneasily. Especially around a man-eating werelion. I slaughtered and ate him.
As Namiira’s ultimate champion, She manages to pull some inter-dimensional strings and provide this young Werelion with the Nordic Voice of old. This allows him to hoodwink the Greybeards and all of Tamriel, but instead of slaying Alduin the Werelion goes off and kills the real Dragonborn, letting the dragons rule over the crumbling ruin of Tamriel.
Soon, Ulfric, soon...
Everyone’s gone into a “destroy all the guards” mode in a TES game before, but I wanted to take it to the next level. By making war on all of Skyrim, the Werelion survives by the will of the Great Darkness, not by save-reload. I played it in “iron man mode”, where dead is dead, no save reloading unless my system crashed, which it did a fair few times due to the incredible amount of NPCs and combat AI this forces the game to load. It nears LOTR levels of battle. This war is also not intended to be played in one day, as it can get dull after a while. I played it over the course of about two weeks, during finals.
As a final act of roleplay, the Werelion raises a great army and marches across Skyrim like a foul plague, destroying everything in sight. Burning the farms, slaughtering the guards, recruiting local bandit gangs, and, eventually, dying at the hands of a great warrior. Then, the Werelion can fulfill his truest destiny of providing destruction and mayhem to the goodness of Tamriel while also providing an opportunity for a hero to do a great act of courage and glory.
The process is simple, if fun. Kill everything in sight (for bandit lairs just kill the guards out front and take them because it’s not worth the hassle of going inside; for essential characters, just get them on their knees once, then consider them dead and run out of town), then replace weapons with high-level things you’ve looted over time and raise them with the Ritual Stone, before marching on to the next location. You can stay in the back and ping off arrows or charge ahead with your Ebony Blade, but making heavy use of Bend Will, Storm Call, and Durneviir will create maximum chaos and further show Namiira’s/the Darkness’s approval of the destruction. Don’t worry if you leave bits of your army around Skyrim; decay causes great things to break down and it’s what your Lady would want.
I outlined my run-through on this map and will explain my individual experience in the attached document. Blue-red circles are places I destroyed and picked up new corpses, red circles are places I just razed, the green lines show my travel, black circles show my infrequent saves, and the yellow circles show where I borrowed some dragons and used Bend Will to ally them.
I found this to be the most enjoyable way to end a playthrough, of any character.