Character Build: The Witch Doctor

Welcome one and all to my newest creation! This is my attempt at the nightblade archetype. The archetype is so fun but the crazy powerful stealth modifiers in Skyrim combined with Illusion often make the game way too easy regardless of difficulty. The Witch Doctor is my version of the nightblade that allows for a stealthy, magical playthrough while avoiding the overpowered modifiers and still retaining the style and strength the archetype is known for…introducing the



Silent Killer. Practitioner of Black Magic. Master of Fire and Fumes. Harbinger of Corruption. Spirit Walker. Daedric Adherent. Abomination of Argonia.

The Witch Doctor is an Argonian Vampire with an interest in the occult. Death is at the center of their every focus -- either preventing it, or creating it. To them, people are their playthings. They choose who lives and who dies. They choose how they die and when they die; defilers and seemingly gods of death. It is not surprising that very few accept them. Instead they live as outcasts practicing their hexes and magic in isolation. They are able to walk the thin line between Nirn and Oblivion. Constantly searching for doorways and access to other realms of destruction, these Witch Doctors often ally themselves with Daedric Princes to gain their favor in an attempt to learn their secrets. Their obsession with Daedra only drives them further from society.

 Race: Argonian Vampire

Standing Stone: Ritual

Major Skills: Alchemy, Pickpocket, Conjuration, Destruction

Minor Skills: Sneak, Illusion, Restoration

Stats: 3 Magicka / 1 Health / 0 Stamina – I ended the playthrough (not including equipment) with about 430 magicka and 190 health.

Shouts: Marked for Death, Become Ethereal, Soul Tear, Bend Will, Aura Whisper, Throw Voice, Dismay

Powers & Abilities: Histskin, All-Maker Stones, Vampiric Powers, Mora’s Agony, Nightingale Subterfuge, Secret of Arcana, Seeker of Shadows, Companion’s Insight

Spells: Flames, Firebolt, Fireball, Wall of Flames, Flaming Familiar, Dread Zombie, Muffle, (Bound Sword)




Head: Cultist Mask

Neck: Neckless of Peerless Destruction

Body: Savior’s Hide

Feet: Self Enchanted Forsworn Boots of Fire Resistance

Hand: Stormcloak Officer Gauntlets

Finger: Ring of the Erudite

Weapons: Dragon Priest Dagger, Miraak’s Staff, Sanguine Rose

All of this equipment can be obtained very early. The mask can be obtained when the cultists first attack you (after completing “The Way of the Voice”), the Savior’s Hide can be obtained straight away by completing “Ill Met by Moonlight”, Forsworn Boots can of course be picked up by killing any forsworn and running away if you need to and the gauntlets can be picked up by killing Captain Valmir outside of Forelhost. A Dragon Priest Dagger can be stolen from Colette’s room in the Mage’s College at any level and the Sanguine Rose can be obtained as early as level 14. Note: you must kill Captain Valmir before completing the dungeon or he will change equipment.


 Perks & Gameplay


A pretty standard looking perkspread for a nightblade at first glance…let’s take a deeper look…

              This is NOT your standard nightblade. Your primary method of killing comes from Alchemy and Pickpocket. These two skills level very quickly and it is easy to get the perks to begin planting poisons on enemies effectively very early in a playthrough. This character is first and foremost an alchemist. Powerful poisons and potent potions make this otherwise frail, weak character insanely powerful. If you pick up the extra pockets perk after getting necromage (and becoming a vampire) it will provide a very nice +125 carrying capacity to carry your potions and ingredients with.


There are however quite a few enemies resistant or immune to poison. This is where Destruction comes in to play.

 Destruction is a cheap, powerful, magical option. When combined with destruction potions, quiet casting, and necromage, your enemies will be obliterated with exploding fireballs without knowing where they’re coming from. If you do get caught always fall back on alchemy. Fortify your spells with fortify destruction potions and restore your magicka when necessary. Just be aware of archers – one arrow could be the end of you.

Alright, so you’ve got some dead enemies now. What’s next? Conjuration. Large groups and open combat are very dangerous for a character with no armor skill investment and a low health pool. You must be strategic. Take out the biggest threat with a poison/spell and raise him. From here you will be sneaking around launching fireballs at distracted enemies and stealthy planting poisons on them. It’s very simple, enjoyable gameplay.

Sneak is very lightly perked and it is arguable that the one perk is unneeded but it’s helpful early game to get that boost to sneaking. Restoration and Illusion are rarely used. Both will be mostly trained either by hurting and healing yourself, spamming muffle, or buying it from trainers. This character is never short on cash thanks to the incredible profit to be had from selling potions! Although unused, these skills are detrimental to the success of this build. Restoration holds everyone’s favorite Necromage perk which not only allows us to decimate the undead that resist our poisons but also fortify ourselves as we are counted as undead. This makes potions and powers even stronger and last 50% longer. Illusion on the other hand has both Aspect of Terror and Quiet Casting. If you get Augmented Flames (2/2) before picking up the Aspect of Terror perk it will boost all fire spells by 15 damage. This is HUGE for spells like flame cloak, firebolt, and flames which all have relatively low base damage. And of course Quiet Casting is what allows this character to be a nightblade: silently killing enemies with spells all while going unnoticed.

The Puppetmaster

Although powerful in his own right, the Witch Doctor does not need to dirty his hands himself. With control over the undead, the ability to heal, and multiple powers that allow his minions to do the dirty work while he himself plays a support role orchestrating the destruction and chaos in the mortal realm.


 Necromantic healing and heal undead allow the Witch Doctor to keep his minions alive. Powers like Nightingale Subterfuge, Bend Will, Marked for Death, Dismay, Throw Voice, the Ritual Stone, and Invisibility are perfect examples. Foes will fight each other while they become weaker and weaker due to Marked for Death. You can take control of your enemies minds with Bend Will or send them fleeing with Dismay while your poisons slow them down and steal their life from them one second at a time. 

 Even the flames of a Witch Doctor are so terrifying their enemies flee allowing for greater control over the battlefield. In certain cases, it may simply be easier to avoid conflict altogether. In that situation a muffle spell and invisibility potion with boosted duration (about 4 minutes!) thanks to Necromage let the Witch Doctor run through a dungeon unseen and unheard so that he may grab his prize at the end. Options are limitless.

Staves also play an awesome role in being able to control the battlefield. Sanguine's Rose is an obviously overpowered staff particularly early game. I do advise against abusing it as it will result in a much slower levelling pace and probably a more boring (easy) playthrough early on. End game however the Dremora Lord loses its OPness a little bit. The cool thing is staves can summon anywhere even without the "Summoner" perks. This lets you conjure up a dremora lord for no cost in the back lines right behind their archer/mages after which you can use The Staff of Miraak (which is insane in it's own right) to block off melee attackers from going back and saving their companion! Miraak's Staff is so perfect for this build for a few reasons. It lets you block melee attackers from getting to you, it does poison damage and gives you complete control of the battlefield and environment. You can create a "hallway" filled with a dremora lord and a wall of flames + poison rune or perhaps entrap your enemy in a circle of poisonous tentacles turning them into a live sacrifice for your ritual!



And it all comes back to alchemy. It’s become clear to me that Alchemy is the most powerful skill in the game and I hope this section shows you why.

**As always with alchemy builds, hearthfire is highly suggested. Windstad Manor allows for a garden, greenhouse, and fishery which can all help with obtaining ingredients and making the playthrough that much more enjoyable**

907187?profile=RESIZE_480x480Alchemy is exactly what makes this character so potent. Of course you can use “basic” potions to heal or fortify your health and magicka allowing you to cast spells you don’t have the magicka for or survive hits you don’t have the health for. You can plant poisons on your enemies paralyzing them and doing 340 damage rendering them useless or dead, you can fortify your destruction spells by over 200% making flames and flame cloak do a whopping 52 dps while also increasing the radius of flame cloak to fill an entire room. At maximum strength Vampiric drain now does 33dps when dual cast while only costing 31 magicka per second making it cost less than nothing when combined with the Blood of the Ancients.

When caught in open combat, you have options. Not only can you obliterate your foes with destruction spells, you can simply muffle yourself and down an invisibility potion and hide, resetting the battle and allowing you to place another poison, raise another zombie (or 2), and get back to work! There is so much fun to be had.

If you notice in the perkspread, the conjuration tree includes mystic binding with no mention of bound weaponry. Here is that mention: By making a powerful One-handed/Marksman potion you can make an unperked, unused bound sword do 102 damage per swing...

Perhaps the HIGHLIGHT of my playthrough was 1-shotting Miraak on Legendary difficulty by using a poison consisting of: Jarrin Root, Human Flesh, and a River Betty. With all my perks and equipment this poison did 6,889 damage! This is not a typo! Of course you can only create 1 such poison so use it wisely.

All magnitudes listed are from using: Necklace of Peerless Alchemy, Circlet of Peerless Alchemy, Ebony Gauntlets of Extreme Alchemy, Muiri's Ring, Seeker of Shadows, and Necromage. Necromage's power is applied twice to potions (and this is reflected in the values listed) because: 1.) Necromage boosts the power of fortify alchemy apparel and 2.) Necromage boosts the effects of potions when consumed. This allows for some incredible figures...



Kiss of Death

Ingredients: Canis Root + Imp Stool + Mora Tapinella

Effects: Paralyze for 34s, Damage health 34 points for 10 seconds (340 total damage)


907237?profile=RESIZE_180x180Doctor's Order

Ingredients: Imp Stool + Mora Tapinella + River Betty

Effects: Damage health 34 points for 10 seconds, 172 damage (512 total damage)




Ingredients: Deathbell + River Betty

Effects: Slow 50% for 172 seconds, 172 damage



Blood of the Prince

Ingredients: Canis Root + Juniper Berries + Hanging Moss

Effects: Fortify One-Handed 629% (the fortify marksman effect also fortifies one-handed damage)



Demon's Draught

Ingredients: Glowing Mushroom, Nightshade, Wheat

Effects: Fortify Destruction 215%, Fortify Health 172 points


*Other noteworthy potions: Invisibility, restore magicka, restore health

Special Tactics

Although you have gotten a hint of some of the many possible combinations throughout the build, here are a few of my personal favorites! If you do decide to play this build, please share some of your own!

907302?profile=RESIZE_180x180Battle Royale
Your foes become your playthings. They fight to please you while their bodies break due to your powerful hexes. The final champion will be so weak after combat you can finish him with a swing of your dagger.

Nightingale Subterfuge + Marked for Death


907322?profile=originalBurning Sacrifice 
Drawn to a sound but finding nothing the weakest enemies drop dead instantly to a massive explosion of flames while the strongest stagger through the burning haze only to see the corpses of their dead friends rising to kill them.

Throw Voice + Invisibility + Sun Flare + Ritual Stone + Become Ethereal


907341?profile=originalDaedric Manifest 
You allow the spirit of a daedra to enter your body. For a short period both your and the daedra's spirit are occupying it until you lost control and expunge the daedra from your body. During that time you have the immense power associated with the Daedra.

(Mystic) Bound Sword x2 + Bones of the Earth + Histskin + Blood of the Prince (custom potion) + Necromage

*This is a once a day power on a character that does not use weapons. I was able to kill two giants on legendary difficulty in the 45 seconds that Bones of the Earth lasts. Use it once a day, it is SO FUN!

907357?profile=originalParalytic Terror 
Fear overtakes your enemies causing them to flee, only then realizing that their body is slow --as if their veins are freezing from the inside --and there is nowhere to run.

Frostbite (custom poison) + Dismay + Staff of Miraak


Final Words

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who read this and enjoyed it. I hope anyone who plays this build has as good of a time as I did. Thank you to Curse Never Dying for messaging with me during the development stages to help me from making this too cluttered. And finally, thank you to all the artists for creating these images --none of these are mine.

I had more fun creating and putting together this build than I have had playing a video game in a long time and I hope it shows. Some things may be added for a little bit here as I realize things I missed. If you notice any errors please let me know!

As always, don't forget to leave a like if you enjoyed it and please comment so I know if people are still enjoying the character. Peace out

- Kaiser


You need to be a member of THE SKY FORGE to add comments!



  • Yesss!!

    This is so much better than I could have ever anticipated! You knocked this shit into orbit. The aesthetics,  skills, spells, everything are perfect!

    • Thanks Curse. I was worried that my write-up didn't quite capture the magic behind what makes this build so fun -- I'm glad it does at least a little bit! 

      • Oh no you nailed it in the write up. 

  • I recommend this mod to go with your Voodoo and Witch Doctor shenanigans.

    BigBizkit's Ultimate Voodoo and Witch Doctor Arsenal

    BigBizkit's Ultimate Voodoo and Witch Doctor Arsenal
    Adds a large variety of Voodoo/Witch Doctor themed items and spells aimed to provide everything needed for the ultimate Witch Doctor experience.
    • Yo that looks awesome. As you know I play on the switch and don't get ANY mods including CC which kind of makes me sad but this looks great for anyone who has the option, thanks! 

  • Witch doctor? Nightblade? Argonian? Poisoner? 

    To those, I give two words: Hell. Yeah.

    • Hell yeah is right dude. If you've never played a pickpocket poisoner I highly suggest it. Sneaking through a dungeon with a lot of enemies planting a poison with a 65% chance knowing if that fails the whole dungeon is gonna notice you and you're in big trouble…it adds some gambling to combat. "Do I plant my best poison at 40% chance or a weaker one at 90%?"

      Try it, you won't regret it! 

      • Alas, Morrowind holds me for now, and for months to come.

        However, when I come back to Skyrim, I'll make sure to give pickpocket poisoner a try.

  • What an amazing build to come back to, Kaiser! I love your unorthodox take on the nightblade class, purposely avoiding the insanely overpowered damage multipliers. The artwork and presentation look amazing too, well done.

    • Glad you like it man! Destruction assassins always seemed so inefficient to me until now.

      EDIT: Also while I'm commenting, I just added a second paragraph under "Puppetmaster" to include staff combat and also fixed some typos and some minor housecleaning things.

This reply was deleted.