“Rest in peace?” There is no peace for Falkreath’s fallen, for we know! The petty border skirmishes in which we selflessly fought and died throughout the ages were pointless. Nor will Falkreath’s living grant us the peace we crave. We have become a running joke, and everywhere they remind us it has ever been so: Corpselight Farm? Grave Concoctions? The Deadman’s Drink? Such morbid and foolish attempts at cleverness merely mock our futile sacrifices rather than pay us the respect we are due."
But the people of Falkreath WILL respect their dead! And they will learn the REAL meaning of peace, because truer words were never spoken: “Falkreath’s warriors ALWAYS return... one way or another.”
This warrior is coming home... and bringing a dark and bloody peace with him
Background and Lore
Vul Vokun translates roughly into “The Dark Shadow”, which interestingly enough, was the name of the Falkreath arena team that was originally intended to be included in TES Arena. As we looked into and discussed the history of Falkreath amongst ourselves and a particularly helpful member of the Lore group (btw, when Phil starts a sentence with “I’ll have to do some digging around, but off the top of my head…” buckle up—you’re about to hear something cool!) it became immediately clear that this was the place for us: with a werewolf in the hold’s jail, hired assassins entrenched just a stone’s throw away, a mountain stronghold (filled with undead) casting a shadow over the city, a banished daedric prince, and the typical threats you will encounter in the wilderness, there is plenty to fuel a builder’s imagination!
But Falkreath is a fascinating hold if just for its history alone. The border skirmishes between Cyrodiil and Skyrim that have taken place, off and on, for ages have placed it squarely in the middle of conflict. In addition to power struggles between nations, there is even evidence suggesting that Falkreath may have been involved in Pelinal’s ancient and bloody crusade against the Ayleids. With such a turbulent history, then, it’s little wonder that Falkreath is widely known for its large cemetery.
While there are not many accounts describing the wars and battles that have made the cemetery a necessity, Falkreath, nevertheless, has a history of loss that is deeply ingrained in its residents to this day. The people take a rather morbid pride in their expansive cemetery even though they, themselves, do little to learn from the events that have filled it. And now a new conflict between Imperials and Stormcloaks threatens to start the cycle of violence and loss anew—a great backdrop for a character… and the conflict is built in! :D
“One of the fallen of Falkreath has had enough!”
Race: you got options, brah!
- Argonian: only a +5 to Alteration, but the real bonus is that glorious Histskin power! It’s a wonderful complement to a build with a regeneration theme, and the perfect component for the Unleash special ability!
- Bosmer: +10 to Archery and +5 to Alchemy? Bring that! And you’d be surprised how useful an animal ally can be when you’re out spreading your dark peace across Falkreath… if the animal survives its encounter with your enemies, you can always kill it later
- Nord: this is what I went with. You get absolutely no bonuses if you go this route, but it felt right for the RP (seeing as a fair amount of Nordic equipment is used), and the Battlecry power makes for a rather amusing twist on the Unleash special ability.
Advanced Lady Stone (+ Ritual Stone in the Aetherial Crown)
Aside from the fact that the Lady Stone happens to be located in Falkreath Hold, we liked the idea of boosting our regenerative abilities for Health and Stamina, so we bammed it up a bam by boosting those effects via Fortify Restoration potions. You’ll also benefit from the additional ability to bring some irate friends along from beyond the grave by keeping the Ritual Stone in the Aetherial Crown.
“Now hold on, Shinjin!” you may be saying. “The Aetherial Crown? I thought this was going to be a vengeful wraith, come back from the grave, to spread a dark and bloody peace throughout Falkreath hold… vengeful wraiths, who come back from the dead to spread dark and bloody peaces do not wear TIARAS.” Fear not, good reader, we feel you—and we’ve got you covered. You’ll be looking like the hardcore harbinger of death that you are! ;D
I love the smell of viscera in the morning!
Stats: again with the options!
- 1 magicka/2 health/1 stamina—for a well balanced playthrough
- 0 magicka/1 health/0 stamina—or just dump it all into Health to maximize the Advanced Lady Stone's regeneration bonuses.
- 1 magicka/2 health/0 stamina—I, personally, wound up splitting the difference because I’m just that kind of guy.
Barbas makes a great companion for this build for so many reasons: (a) he’s located squarely in Falkreath, (b) he’s supernatural/otherworldly, and thus, the perfect companion for a vengeful wraith spreading "peace" from beyond the grave, and (c) he’s invincible!
You don’t like taking on companions as an archer or a mage because you just wind up killing them off? Well it’s a non-issue with Barbas. Shoot him full of arrows and let the Deathlords wail on him until the Dragons come home to roost. He doesn’t die, and never takes a knee to hobble lamely around… just fights and bites!
“But he’s soooo annoying!” you say. Well get over it… this mutt is the stuff and too good to pass up!
Nothing says, "Step off!" quite like a well-timed Exploit Bash
This is your main form of direct offense. We perked the right side all the way up to Ranger as quickly as possible—that mobility in combat is crucial. For the left side of the tree we went all the way up to Quick Shot. Keep dropping perks into Overdraw when you can, and you’ll start to pack a real wallop as you fling those arrows!
There are two little tricks from the Advanced Archery Corner that we utilized:
- The Exploit Bash—ready an arrow to fire, then press the sheathe button and attack button nearly simultaneously. This staggers with the Power shot perk, doesn’t use any ammo (although it does require an arrow) uses no stamina, and does as much damage as a normal shot. It’s a fantastic option when enemies make the mistake of getting up-close and personal, and one that Kael used A LOT xD
- The Double-Shot—fire an arrow, then quickly tap attack, sheathe, and then attack gain. The second arrow will do less damage and will not go as far. Two shots in rapid succession can be absolutely devastating when paired with Alchemy’s Concentrated Poison perk! If you've picked up a bow with an added enchantment, that's an extra helping of gravy... delicious, damage dealing gravy!
I keep forgetting how cool this skill is! Just about anything you want to be, Alchemy helps you become it. To keep myself from going overboard with all the fun this skill provides, I mainly kept my focus on brewing poisons, and it only takes a moment to realize how well Alchemy blends in with Archery! The bow is perhaps the greatest delivery mechanism for poisons—hit them hard from afar and let your poisons do their thing. It’s beautifully simple… and effective!
What wraith wouldn’t want to hobnob with his fellow fallen? But even more important is the extra support and distraction zombie minions provide. Between Barbas and your zombies, the baddies almost forget you’re there!
AND one of my favorite Skyrim idiosyncrasies comes wrapped up in this school: the very simple Raise Zombie spell levels you up far quicker than any of the other (more powerful) reanimation spells. If you have an itch to up your Conjuration skills, but would rather play the game than spend your time mindlessly blasting dead skeevers over and over with Soul Trap… Raise Zombie is your truest friend.
Arise, fellow fallen of Falkreath... and help me kill stuff!
This build neither perks nor fully utilizes armor, thus flesh spells are nice to have on hand—I found myself tossing one up even before I entered combat. In a hostile environment and you don’t know what’s around the next corner? Bust out a flesh spell and find out. I just kept upgrading to the next flesh spell that would still allow me to raise a zombie or mess with minds should the need arise
I have a nasty habit of abusing this school if left to my own devices, so I was pretty happy when Kael and Kaiser said they wanted to limit Illusion mainly to Fear and Calm spells. Even then, I used this as my Plan C: when arrows and zombies fail to cool a heated situation, Fear sends them packing (while yousend arrows into their backs), and Calm works almost as if they’ve gone so tharn with fear that they just sort of wander aimlessly around. Think of Illusion like this: when things get uglier than you’d like them to be, Illusion makes them prettier
Head—Jagged Crown + Aetherial Crown. The Jagged Crown looks so grim, and thanks to a wonderful glitch, you can wear circlets (which tend to look a tad prim) under them. Now you can experience all the power of the Advanced Lady Stone AND the Ritual Stone with all the grim and none of the prim... booyah!
For you scrubs without the DLC (ShinJin, I'm looking at you), you can still look grim while enjoying a 20% boost to Archery, Alchemy, and Lockpicking by sporting Krosis... being a scrub never felt so good! xD
Body—Miraak's Robes. Sleek, stylish, and severe, these robes make the perfect statement for wraiths looking for lasting rest and revenge. Oh, and did I mention the explosive tentacles of poisonous death? And the cool thing is you don't have to wait to be pounded on to get them to activate; employing Bardic Knowledge or activating the Ritual Stone will set these robes off on your terms. Grab them as quick as you can!
DLC-less scrubs can wear Scaled Armor while watching all the cool kids play around with their poisonous tenticular robes of death (and make up descriptive words that sound remarkably close to other descriptive (but considerably more embarrassing) words).
Neck—Bone Hawk Amulet. We chose this amulet mainly for the mainly for the aesthetic appeal... kind of cool and grisly all at the same time. Since I didn't have access to the Bonehawk jewelry, I just went with the Talos Amulet. As a Nord it felt right, and you gotta love that Shout Cool-down bonus!
Hands—Gauntlets of the Old Gods. Help some folk who have also suffered from border skirmishes, and get gauntlets that add 20% damage to your bow. Nice!
Finger—Ring of the Erudite. Adds 100 to your magicka, and boosts your magicka regeneration... where do I sign up?
Feet—Boots of the Old Gods. While stealth isn't a huge part of your playstyle, the muffle enchantment on these boots gets you that much closer to getting the drop on the baddies, and they balance out the look of the gauntlets rather nicely.
While stealth is not a major part of this build, I found it helpful to be sneaky enough to initiate combat on my terms whenever I had the opportunity to do so. This gives you time to buff yourself with potions and flesh spells, raise a minion if there are bodies accessible, and buff those zombie minions before the ensuing hullabaloo begins. Single foes of any strength are really not much of a threat: put an arrow in them and watch Barbas shoot past you and take all the heat. Stick them full of arrows like you're an angry witch-doctor working on a life-sized voodoo doll... problem solved.
Multiple threats will take some strategery. I always looked for the mages first—no matter how strong. If they are easily identified, prepare your bow with the strongest Lingering Damage Health poison you've got, and keep the arrows coming till they're down. If Barbas is keeping the others occupied and you can find a corridor to the mage you've put down—raise him. If, instead, you start feeling some heat—keep moving and shooting long enough until you see a tanky enemy go down, and raise her instead; up-in-your-face zombie minions do a lot to lessen the pressure and let you take your shots safely in the background.
Since we're talking about crowd control, it's worth mentioning that The Wraith Blast move (seen later in the build) is a truly devastating work of art. As most of you know, Miraak’s robes trigger a tentacle explosion on contact. This explosion can be triggered once every 5 seconds. The Clear Skies dragon shout can also be activated every 5 seconds when you only use the first word. Both of these effects stagger and by utilizing Bardic Knowledge to activate the robe’s effect and Force without Effort to power-up your staggering abilities you can essentially perma-stun enemies by rotating between Clear Skies and the tentacle explosion—even though the Clear Skies stagger only works outside, this move is still stupidly overpowered… but man is it fun! xD
Dragons are a bit unpredictable; sometimes they focus on Barbas, but other times it seems they only have eyes for you. Either way, your best bet is to go to your Lingering Damage Health poisons and get those suckers grounded as quickly as possible. After that, things get simple as Barbas gets up in their scaly faces, and you start plucking safely away. Arrows not making it happen fast enough... there's always beast form ;D
That tears it, dragon... now you're in big, BIG trouble!!!
In order to jump-start the build, I took my perks as far as they would go in Helgen by leveling Sneak; wail on Hadvar while he’s in sneak mode waiting for you to take care of the bear, then place your perks into your chosen skills until you can’t place any more. Then leave Helgen and start grabbing gear, shouts, and powers that would strengthen the Vul Vokun and prepare him for his terrifying return to Falkreath hold.
For the most part, I kept well away from Falkreath during this phase of the game with some notable exceptions: Barbas. Get that dog (do it early)! The Lady Stone. I would visit the Lady Stone every so often as my Alchemy skills increased in order to re-’advance’ it with stronger and stronger Fortify Restoration potions. Sinding... maybe. At first I wanted to take on the Beast Form at will, so the Ring of Hircine seemed like an important item to pick up. However, after experiencing just how bombastic Beast Form is when used with the Unleash move, I eventually got rid of the ring in order to effectively limit how often I could use that power. Too much of a good thing...
Somewhere between level 25-30 I felt ready to make my mark on Falkreath hold and systematically started clearing caves, forts, ruins, dungeons, and fauna around the periphery. The way I saw it, Falkreathians would, if anything, start to feel safer and let their guard down a bit knowing that the hold’s baddies were mysteriously being eradicated. For a while they might even view their ultimate doom as a sort of hero.
I patrolled the borders of Falkreath hold, killing everything I could, and slowly spiraled my way into the hold’s capital. Eventually that spiral led to Falkreath's city limits. I had just cleared out the Dark Brotherhood and then took over Shriekwind Bastion so that, like the Grinch looking down upon the Who’s in Whoville, I could gaze upon the city, MY city, and imagine the utter stillness and peace that would soon fall upon it.
You're a mean one... Vul Vokun!
First Scenario: I waited till nightfall, took out one or two guards, and when the dust settled I entered the first house I encountered, obliterated its inhabitants, and returned to Shriekwind Bastion. Night after Night I’d settle upon Falkreath like a mist of death… new guards silenced, the next house up the street cleared of inhabitants, then slip back into the safety of night and Shriekwind.
One can only imagine how the owner of the next house felt to awaken and find his neighbors slaughtered in their beds, knowing that his turn was coming… tonight. I was a bit past level 40 by the time I managed to kill everyone that could be killed in Falkreath and finally claim my peace. Not gonna lie; it was a reallycreepy way to take out that city—and a whole lot of fun!
Second Scenario: because I'm psychotic and had so much fun doing it, I decided to reload a past save and kill the people of Falkreath one more time... but this time a little less subtly. I walked right into the city like it was high noon in the O.K. Corral, went in as far in as I could while still in view of the gate guards, knocked an arrow in my bow and buried it into the closest guard to me. Then I waited while the guards and citizenry came to “teach me a lesson.”
When I was good and surrounded, I busted out Battle Cry and watched folks scatter, then turned on the Beast Form and started hunting the fair folk of Falkreath as they headed for the hills. Tear someone apart, toss the body, feast on it to extend Beast Form’s duration, then chase down my next victim. It was absolutelybrutal. By the time Beast Form wore off, there wasn’t any man, woman, or animal left alive outside on the streets—so Barbas and I went inside. House after house, we finished the job. Long before sun-up there were none left who could be killed.
Vul Vokun & Company—Falkreath's finest street sweepers
We like to look at Alchemy as falling into 3 categories for this build: (a) stuff that helps you, (b) stuff that helps your minions, and (c) stuff that hurts the bad guys. Now we know that long lists of potions with exotic ingredients is a real turn-off, so we stuck with easy-to-find ingredients, and limited our brews to no more than 2-3 per category
If you like to roll on Legendary difficulty and play on PC, it is certainly worth hot-keying this little beauty; It's almost like having the Restoration perk Avoid Death... but in a bottle.
Chicken Soup for the Soul—Juniper Berries + Namira’s Rot + Canis Root (Regenerate Health + Fortify Marksman)
Heal quicker and hit harder; kind of like having the Orc special power Berserker Rage... but in a bottle.
This is a great opening buff for your zombie pals just before entering combat.
Philter of Happy Zombie—Flower + Glowing Mushroom + Nightshade (Fortify Destruction + Fortify Health + Damage magicka regen)
Zombies looking a little ragged around the edges? Give them this little pick-me-up. Best applied with a dagger (or even better... a fork!)
Lingering Damage Health poisons are awesome! (especially for archers). Pop an arrow into a Marauder from a decent distance away, and by the time he gets to you he's been demoted to Bandit Outlaw. I had this little gem hot-keyed.
Vial of Worsening Ouchie (VWO)—Red Mountain Flower + Bleeding Crown + Deathbell (Damage Health + Weakness to Poison)
This one gets nasty when combined with the Concentrated Poison perk... first shot hurts, second shot kills!
WTF—Canis Root + Imp Stool + Nightshade (Damage Health + Paralysis)
Great for mobs, and once again, Concentrated Poison really makes this poison shine! Hurt them and give them a quick time out so that you can take care of their baddie buddies. By the time they drag themselves up, they'll find things are going to bevery different!
Regenerate your health to shrug off the wounds taken while transforming, or send your foes running, giving you ample time to transform! Command Animal can even get the Mammoths defending you as you transform, just as Animal Allegiance will do!
Wraith Blast: Bardic Knowledge + Miraak’s Robes + Clear Skies (One word) + Power Shot
Bardic Knowledge can activate Miraak’s Robes’ tentacle effect, which staggers and does damage! So use Bardic Knowledge to keep your foes tentacle-ized. And if you happen to be outside, you can throw in a single shout of Clear Skies which continues to keep them off-balance (and is as close to spammable as a shout gets). Meditate on Force Without Effort, and they stumble even longer. Now combine all this with the frequent staggers your Power Shot perk provides, and your enemies will be reeling like the town drunk… let the good times roll!
It really IS as scary as it looks!
Now as if all that staggering isn’t enough, you’ll have loads of corpses after your wraith blast? So naturally, you raise them all to fight for you! Then with Fire breath and Dragonborn Flame, exchange your zombies for Fire Wyrms in an explosion of ice and fire! WARNING: VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY OP
Buff up your allies and Barbas with your poisons, then stack calm and rally on each ally. A great opener for what looks to be a difficult fight.
For Werewolf form. Even though it utilizes Beast Form, I don’t consider this build a ‘Werewolf Build’. Rather, I viewed the ability as more of a reflection of the pent up rage the Vul Vokun has stored over the ages. I’m ashamed to admit it, but this is actually the first time I have ever seriously used Werewolf Form. I was goingto give Tae’s awesome Hircine’s Child a try over the summer, but my general dislike for 3rd person combat and having none of my killer gear or magic kept me from it. Now, three years later, I see how foolish I’ve been--Beast Form is… well, beastly!
Check out Lod’s health bar… he’s about to undergo a SERIOUS status update!
Civil War (up to Jagged Crown)
Side doesn’t matter. After you have the Jagged Crown, keep the Imperials and Stormcloaks out of Falkreath by killing every last mother-scratching one you run across. Of course it would be sick and wrong if you hunted down the camps outside of Falkreath hold, but I have heard it said that the very definition of fun is walking into a camp, putting an arrow into the knee of the first soldier you find, then busting out Unleash… again, this is hearsay only ;D
You gots to have your shouts. I left High Hrothgar and never came back, but I can easily see going all the way if you wanted--you want a perfectly still Falkreath, not an obliterated one.
Because Miraak’s robes are needed. Best to do this one ASAP. Again, stopping the end of the world is the best way to make Falkreath the kind of hold you want.
Dawnguard (Volkihar): for the Ring of the Erudite.
- Rings of Blood Magic - The Ring of the Erudite provides a nice bonus to magicka regen and a nifty boost of +100 to magicka.
A Daedra’s Best Friend
Just the first part until you get Barbas, an invulnerable companion who doesn’t blink when the occasional stray arrow finds its way into the back of his head.
Destroy the Dark Brotherhood
They’re in Falkreath. And living… you really need to fix that. Now go claim your reward (then kill the two Penitus Oculatus agents on your way out).
Bringing Peace to Falkreath
Okay, we made this one up, but it means killing every single killable person in Falkreath hold. If you’re slightly demented, you can take it one step further and kill every single living thing in Falkreath hold:
“Daddy, why did you just shoot that bunny rabbit?”
“For peace, honey. I killed that rabbit to establish an everlasting peace in Falkreath.”
“I’m a hero.”
“You seem like kind of a jerk.”
“Go to bed.”
Having brought peace to Falkreath, the Vul Vokun can finally take a well-earned rest.
First and foremost, this build is a collaborative effort between Kael, Kaiser, and myself—and I can say this with no reservations: you'll be hard-pressed to find two finer people (or builders) on the blog. Even though they knew my time was limited, they still let me hop aboard, and it's been a privilege watching them work (and tapping into their abundant enthusiasm) :D
As always, a special shout out to the CB hosts for getting this contest up and running. Also a great big thanks to those who have participated in the contest whether by submitting fantastic builds, or simply participating in the Character Building Contest #3 thread... it's been a lot of fun, and some really cool things have come out of it.
We'd also like to thank Phil for his insights on Falkreath hold... the man knows his stuff, and is always ready to lend a hand. You're good people Phil—always have been, always will be! ;D
**This build is a collaborative effort between me, Kael'than, and ShinJin**