First off, I would like to thank those who have given me such warm welcomes when I rejoined the site. As someone who was rather active back in the day, it is nice to see that my love for Skyrim and character creating is matched by so many others, especially all of these years later. I have always loved the idea of character builds and have always done some of my own work but had never put anything out there. With a surge of confidence and a lot of inspiration, I thought that this build contest would be a great way to get myself started. I hadn't played vanilla Skyrim in some time but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless and I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. I hope everyone likes what I've made, and your feedback would be very appreciated! Now I'll get to what you're all here for so without further ado, I present:
Once the surname of the most loyal servant to the Dominion, Blacklion has now become a title, a name that strikes fear into those whom he swore to serve.
From Royalty to Obscurity
4E 200: Twelve years I served the crown, never questioning my own loyalty, but always of those who my king was surrounded with. It was my job to protect him, and I had a purpose to fulfill. But now here I am. On the run from the Dominion I thought I would die in service to, never staying in one place too long and never speaking to anyone. Had I been better, had I not grown complacent in my ways, I could have uncovered the treachery before it was too late. The only dangers I concerned myself with were those concerning the King and not myself, however I was mistaken to believe that my own threats were threats to my king all the same. Being as it happened so fast, and I have had no connection to anyone since that night, I can only assume there was a larger conspiracy at work and that getting rid of me was the first step in their plot for... something. Control, influence, wealth, it does not matter. Now I am the most wanted man in the Summerset Isle, framed for conspiracy against my King and hunted by Thalmor agents to no end.
It is a miracle I managed to escape Alinor alive, and even more so the Isle. Boarding a cargo ship and living in the cargo hold for weeks is not my ideal method for transportation, but when you're in a position such as I am, your choices are stretched thin. Sometimes I wonder if my efforts to fight death are even worth it anymore. What does a man do when his purpose has been stolen from him? But if being my King's protector has taught me anything, it is that if you think you're going to die, there is no point in holding back and going quietly. You fight the opposition until your dying breath. Until you have done as much damage as possible. However, I have lost everything, and my resources cease to exist.
4E 201: I was finally captured. Not by my own, but by the Empire, no doubt operating with the Thalmor. I thought the cold, war ridden Skyrim would be safe from the reach of those bastards, but they are bolder than I thought. However, just when I accepted the fate of a brutal decapitation, my hands in bounds and all, a beast, greater than anything I have ever seen attacked the city. The rebels were trusting enough to help me escape with them, but now I am left once again with nothing. The Thalmor either presume me dead or escaped, and in the year I have been on the run I have gotten nowhere. I may be unable to deliver justice to those who have wronged me, but I certainly can to those who hunt me. My sovereignity is something I have control over, and it is something I will have.
This build attempts to combine the ruthless cunning of an Aldmeri warrior with the barbarity of the Nords. It is my take on a true dishonored warrior, stripped of all titles and notoriety, finding his way in the world and consumed by vengeance. Despite me referring to him as a warrior, he utilizes all sorts of methods to dispatch his foes, many of which are deceitful and cruel. After all, he is not an honorbound hero fighting for glory, but a pragmatist bent on revenge. To keep the theme of a bad*ss forsaken warrior, I decided to avoid stealth all together. I could not imagine this character skulking around in the shadows slitting throats, yet I still wanted him to feel like an assassin, because it is blood he is after. This build is viable on Master difficulty.
Race: Altmer. Essential for roleplay purposes, and stat allocation and enchantments will rely on the +50 magicka in order to cast certain spells.
Standing Stone: Warrior/Mage -> Lord. Leveling your skills right off the bat will be important, and seeing as this build does not use any thief skills, the Warrior and Mage stones will be extremely useful. Once your final loadout is achieved and you feel proficient enough with your current level, the Lord stone offers that extra bump in armor and magic resistance that make mages and dragons more tolerable.
Stats: Start by strictly investing in health up until level 35. From then on, invest in Stamina as we will have all of the Health we'll need. The +50 magicka coupled with enchanted gear will allow you to cast the Bound Bow early on, as well as all of your other spells in the late-game, so investing any points in Magicka is unnecessary.
One-Handed: The sword is Blacklion's main choice of weapon, and to increase his ferocity, he will be dual-wielding them. This build is all about taking out enemies quickly while sustaining the least amount of blows possible. Dual Flurry and Dual Savagery will allow you to make quick work of your opponents.
Illusion: With no perks being placed into armor, having no method to block, and also staying out of stealth mode, you will need a way of directing attention away from you. The Frenzy spell will become a staple as it allows you to rip open enemies as they tear each other apart. Other Illusion spells allow for increased crowd control.
Archery: The Bound Bow is a weightless, easily portable long ranged weapon that will become very deadly when combined with Quickdraw and a reserve of Paralysis poisons. When combined with a Frenzied group of opponents, it becomes almost unfair.
Enchanting: This is the only crafting skill that you'll be investing more than 1 perk in. It will allow you to become an effective spellcaster while only investing in health and stamina, and it will increase your damage outputs so you begin to feel like a real killer. It's also necessary as the aesthetic we are going for does not have enchanted versions.
Smithing: Taking the Steel Smithing perk will allow you to improve your Blades Swords and Wolf Armor pieces for that extra boost. Combining this with an enchanted set of Smithing/Alchemy gear will make a substantial difference in your survivability and efficiency.
Alchemy: The use of paralysis poisons is a great way to achieve additional crowd control and avoid damage. Combining this with dual-wield swords and illusion spells will make you untouchable by most enemies. Putting any perks in this tree is unnecessary as the outputs you will get from your crafting gear will be more than enough.
Becoming the Lion
Aesthetic is extremely important to me, especially since I prefer to play in third person most of the time. Being a vanilla build, our options are somewhat limited when it comes to finding the perfect look for our character. Despite this, I believe the combination of Morag Tong armor with the Companion's Wolf armor, and the use of the Akaviri style blades creates the dark warrior look we are going for. It captures the rugged barbarity of his nature, yet maintains a hint of nobility given his past, as well as his place as Dragonborn.
Blacklion's Cuirass: Morag Tong Armor (Fortify Magicka) Acquired in Solstheim during the quest Served Cold. Must complete March of the Dead and The Final Descent to unlock Served Cold.
Blacklion's Gauntlets: Wolf Gauntlets (Fortify Archery) Purchasable from Eorlund Gray-Mane after joining the Companions and completing Proving Honor.
Blacklion's Boots: Wolf Boots (Fortify One-Handed) Purchasable from Eorlund Gray-Mane after joining the Companions and completing Proving Honor.
Ring of the Pride: Gold Ring (Resist Magic)
Amulet of Prowess: Gold Necklace (Resist Magic)
Dual Blades Swords: Using enchanted blades is not this character's style, the idea of cutting someone down is good enough, and he does not require magical effects to assist his swords. Also, leaving them unenchanted will allow the use of Elemental Fury. Multiple swords can be found in Sky Haven Temple and one is found in Delphine's secret room.
Bound Bow: Spell tome found in Fort Amol, becomes castable with a Novice Hood at the least.
Level 38 Perk Spread
Once you have reached this point, the character becomes viable for the rest of the game on Master, yet feel free to invest in other trees such as Speech for extra roleplay opportunities or the main combat skills for added damage. Any additions could either subtract from the challenge or enhance it. I encourage you to take the build in any direction you want after all of these perks are obtained.
Blacklion takes himself extremely seriously and is a highly focused individual. To him, the end justifies the means, no matter the cost. He is at the center of his own world, and despite being egocentric, he does not parade around like some sort of arrogant a-hole. He understands the benefits of healthy relationships and rarely makes a fool of himself. Each action he takes has purpose, and until his goals are met, there is no greater concern to him. The questlines he pursues are representative of his endgame, which will be explained in detail below. This build manages to take multiple questlines and steers them in a direction to suit Blacklion and his intentions, which is a complete assault on the Thalmor and a sabotage of all of their political ambitions within Skyrim.
Thieves Guild. Blacklion is not a thief, yet as a wanted man on the run, finding protection through a band of misfits is not something he would pass up. He will run with the Guild until he has gathered enough resources and notoriety to pursue his own goals. Proving his usefulness to them will not take long as he is a much more capable man than most of their members. The cistern offers a place to sleep, safe storage, and is located near a court mage, blacksmith, and multiple vendors, making it the perfect place to level up Enchanting and accumulate wealth. When given the chance to keep the Skeleton Key, he will cut off all ties with them and use its powers to his own benefit. He has no respect for thieves and in his mind it will do the world a lot more good if he were in possession of it, as opposed to a daedric prince. Karliah's description of the Key's power to unlock unimaginable potential within a person makes it too good to pass up and serves as an explanation for Blacklion's ability to become Listener and Dragonborn, as his possession of the Key allows him to tap into the hidden wells of power within himself.
Companions. Blacklion has likely heard of the Companions by now, revered in Skyrim as the greatest band of warriors in the land. Seeing this as an inlet to earn a positive reputation and garner some influence as a warrior, he decides to join up. The idea of fighting side by side with, what he would consider, a bunch of dumb hulking Nords does not necessarily appeal to him, but he slowly begins to take pleasure in being the only Altmer among them, and proves that he is not to be underestimated. When the gift of the beast blood is presented to him, he accepts reluctantly with the thought in mind that it will allow him to ascend to the Circle and gain respect among others. The gift is accepted out of desperation, and he is unable to fully accept the change that has been made to his body. He will embrace the gift for the time he needs it, but once his position in the world has been solidified and all of his goals have been met, he will perform the ritual to abandon the beast within. However, the acquisition of the beast blood is necessary, as it is symbolic to the development of the character. It represents his gradual shift towards a darker and more barbaric path, where the desire for revenge consumes him, and his power grows. I would like to think the beast blood affects his human form as well, making him more ferocious in battle and enhancing his senses. Lycanthropy is used as a roleplay device rather than a gameplay device and he relies very little on his werewolf transformations, if at all.
Dark Brotherhood. On one of his Companion missions to Windhelm, Blacklion hears there is a boy trying to contact a group of assassins. Capitalizing on this opportunity, he speaks to this boy and accepts his contract, with the hopes that this will get the attention of the Brotherhood. His purpose for this is that with the Dark Brotherhood's resources, he will be able to fund his operations further. After his theft of the Skeleton Key, his connection to Skyrim's underworld is now murky, and he is unsure where he stands among the Guild. Now, with his connection to the Brotherhood, he will have a hidden base of operations and will soon find himself in a leadership position among them. His connection to Sithis grants him absolute loyalty from certain members of the group and having dangerous allies will be beneficial to his mission moving forward. He will spare Cicero, as mad as he is, because he is a loyal servant to the Brotherhood and to the Listener. His survival ensures the upkeep of the Night Mother, who is Blacklion's direct connection to the Dread Father, an important tie that he would not dare to cut.
This questline also gives us access to the opportunity to assassinate the Emperor, Titus Mede II. Seizing this opportunity, from a roleplay perspective, grants us great political influence over the Empire as well as the Dominion. By removing the current Emperor, who serves as nothing more than a puppet to the Dominion will be our first step in our fight against them. His assassination will pave the way to a strengthened Empire and a weakened Thalmor presence in foreign provinces.
The Night of the Lone Lion
Every quest and action of Blacklion has led up to a single night, where specific quests will be progressed in a way that you can make an all out assault on the Thalmor in an attempt to devastate their political and diplomatic ambitions in Skyrim. This is the ultimate goal of our protagonist, and it is our best way of taking a fight to the Thalmor that the bounds of vanilla allow, but there is something rewarding about telling your own story through vanilla Skyrim rather than letting mods tell the story for you. The Night of the Lone Lion will go down in history as a the night a single man laid waste to the Thalmor power in Skyrim, eliminating the Emperor of Tamriel, assaulting the Thalmor Embassy, as well as Northwatch Keep all in one, long night.
Main Quest. Although he is not your traditional hero, Blacklion is still worthy of the blessing of Dragonborn. By making it his life goal to rooting out Thalmor control over Skyrim and freeing the people of their tyrannical grip, he is indirectly restoring the legacy of the Dragonborn before him, Tiber Septim, or Talos. The progression of this questline is also extremely important because it grants us access to two things: Blades Swords and the quest to infiltrate the Thalmor embassy. The Katariah, the ship on which the Emperor is located, is in close proximity to the carraige you will take to the Embassy, making the two quests completable in a single night. From a roleplay perspective, it will put a massive dent in any plans the Thalmor have in Skyrim and their politcal power in the province will diminish.
Your approach to the quest to infiltrate the embassy will be a loud one. The goal is to kill every single soldier and justicar, and that includes attacking Elenwyn herself. Although she is essential and is technically unkillable, we will make an attempt on her life, causing her to fall to the ground hurt, and we will run off before we have a chance to see her get back up. This part will take some imagination as we will pretend that she bled out right where we struck her down. The fact that she is unkillable is ludicrous, but the beauty of the Elder Scrolls is that it's a roleplaying game and reality can be whatever we make it. After every Thalmor in the Embassy is dead, you will grab whatever documents they had and will begin the final part of your attack.
As for the rest of the main questline, it is entirely up to you on what you decide to do. It is not crucial to the story or the roleplay of this character, so I will leave it open-ended, leaving you to deciding how he will approach the prophecy and whether he will decide to take on Alduin or not.
Missing in Action. What began as a simple favor for Eorlund Gray-Mane, a man you have come to respect during your time with the Companions, has resulted in the discovery of invaluable information... intelligence pinpointing the location of a Thalmor keep, located on the western shores of the Sea of Ghosts.
The assault of Northwatch Keep will be the final act in our Night of the Lone Lion and will be the finale of our character's pursuit of revenge. The assault will be carried out with absolute predjudice, and he will leave no survivors, other than the prisoners that will be freed. The assassination of the Emperor, infiltration of the Thalmor embassy, and an assault on Northwatch Keep will deliver irreversible damage to all Dominion ambitions in Skyrim. Although the deed has been done to purge them from Skyrim, his plan is not over.
Civil War. Although Blacklion was suspicious of the Dominion's use of Ulfric Stormcloak and his rebellion as a tactic to weaken the Empire, the documents discovered inside the embassy only proved this hunch. It is clear to him that the only way to permanently cleanse the land of Thalmor control is by reestablishing the Empire's strength. By ending the civil war that plagues the land and killing Ulfric Stormcloak, he can ensure a powerful Empire.
- Solstheim. Travelling to Solstheim will be necessary in acquiring your Morag Tong Armor to complete your rugged assassin aesthetic. You will need to complete the March of the Dead quest as well as The Final Descent as a precursor to Served Cold, the quest where you can finally acquire the armor. I decided to travel to Solstheim during my time with the Companions. Having Beast Form as a backup is helpful, given the difficulty of the quests. I also brought along Uthgerd the Unbroken, who is found in The Bannered Mare. A companion can bring some extra firepower when you are not at the desired level.
- College of Winterhold. Your only reasoning for trekking all the way up to this frozen wasteland will be to gain access to all the different amenities and vendors inside, and you'll be able to buy soul gems and spells. However, there is the issue of the Thalmor spy, Ancano, and the only way to kill him is by progessing the storyline and becoming the archmage. Being contacted by the Psijic Order will likely motivate Blacklion to further investigate the Eye of Magnus and quest to Labyrinithian. Here you will also be able to pick up a word in the Slow Time shout.
- Ondolemar. During the Dark Brotherhood questline, you'll be tasked with interrogating and killing the Markarth Keep cook. During this mission, you will notice the Thalmor justicar and soldiers patrolling the area. Blacklion will act on this and will do something to take care of them.
- In My Time of Need. A fun little side quest where Blacklion will likely take pity for Saadia, for as far as he is concerned, her story about the Thalmor sending assassins after her is entirely believable. Not to mention, he would probably be fairly attracted to her. I can imagine him abandoning his intuition and following his feelings during this quest. Channeling his rage against the Alik'r Warriors out of an attraction for a woman.
- Dawnguard. It is perfectly viable for Blacklion to find himself amidst a second prophecy involving an Elder Scroll. First the Dragon scroll and now the Blood scroll. His alliance with these vampire-hunters begins simply out of hate for the fowl creatures that storm towns and murder innocents in cold blood. Although he is technically the leader of the Dark Brotherhood, since the Night of the Lone Lion, he has begun to walk a more noble path and no longer concerns himself with revenge and the darkness it entails. Also, armored trolls are bad*ss and something that he would definitely find some use in.
This build is all about directing attention away from you and dispatching foes with lethality and precision. It is my attempt to create an assassin that does not use Sneak, but instead employs a variety of other tactics to be a deadly killer and to not sustain a major amount of blows during combat. If I could summarize the playstyle I would tell you to imagine Corvo Attano from Dishonored, but he's not allowed to crouch, and instead of one blade, he has two. This is our foundation, and our utilization of the Bound Bow will give us increased variety in our playstyle. Illusion spells such as Frenzy, Rout, and Pacify will allow us to maintain crowd control and choose our fights wisely. The main focus is to redirect damage away from us as much as possible using Illusion and Paralysis potions, while dealing out as much damage as possible with our dual-wielding and quickdraw bound bow. I wanted this character to feel seriously deadly. I want you to have the feeling of entering combat entirely confident, knowing you're about to mess up whoever stands in your way without feeling too overpowered and compromising the challenge that Skyrim combat can offer. It should be fast paced, but not so much to the point it becomes unenjoyable.
- Dual Blades Swords (Sky Haven Temple)
- Bound Bow (Fort Amol)
- Frenzy, Rout, Pacify (Drevis Neloren, College of Winterhold)
- Vegetable Soup (Crafted at cooking stations with potatoes, cabbage, leeks, and tomatoes)
- Paralysis Poisons (Canis Root + Imp Stool/Swamp Fungal Pod)
- Unrelenting Force (Acquired through main quest)
- Whirlwind Sprint (High Hrothgar, Dead Men's Respite, Volskygge)
- Elemental Fury (Dragontooth Crater, Shriekwind Bastion, Statue to Meridia)
- Slow Time (Hag's End, Korvanjund, Labyrinthian)
I have created a list of special move combinations to help you get an idea of what this character is capable of and how he approaches fights. Of course, these moves can be mixed and matched to suit the moment, for example, Illusion spells will prove obsolete against dragons, but the rest of the move is still viable. I've tried to put together something utilizing each piece of his arsenal, and it can be up to you which methods you wish to employ and what you think will be the best one for each fight.
Dual Cast Frenzy + Vegetable Soup + Elemental Fury + Critical Charge + Dual Flurry
A simple yet effective maneuver and the Blacklion’s go-to tactic. He charges into a hectic battle field, relentlessy slashing down enemies with lighting speed.
“Stand Your Ground”
Vegetable Soup + Potions + Poisons of Paralysis + Dual Flurry
When your options have run dry and your enemies begin to surround you, you give death a quick finger before downing a few potions, somehow finishing an entire bowl of soup, and flailing your swords around in desperation.
Summon Bound Bow + Quickdraw + Unrelenting Force + Poison of Paralysis
While your opponent contends with a flurry of arrows as they close the distance, they will be displeased to find themselves flung back, losing all the ground they’ve covered in your pursuit. This move is a display of the sheer pettiness that Blacklion is capable of.
High ground + Dual Cast Frenzy + Summon Bound Bow + Slow Time
Not only does this combo have a catchy name, but it's extremely effective and comparable to shooting fish in a barrel, except if you lose your footing you may fall into the barrel and realize you’re being eaten alive by very angry fish.
Dual Cast Rout + Summon Bound Bow + Poison of Paralysis + Critical Charge
This one is inspired by the Game of Thrones scene where Ramsay Bolton sets someone free of his bonds and fires arrows at him as he tries to run away. As twisted as it is, there is something satisfying about watching a poor little bandit flee in terror, only to be struck with a poison arrow that flings him face first into the dirt. Then, you can finish them off with a swift stab in the gut. Give them a bigger headstart for an extra challenge!
"Down the Beast"
Although it is rather straight forward, this is the best way to deal with dragons, sending a barage of arrows to widdle them down and when they first land, you make sure they won't be getting back up.
Dual Cast Frenzy + Dual Cast Rout + Critical Charge + Dual Flurry + Whirlwind Sprint + Dual Flurry
This tactic is not the most effective, but it is fun. Dual casting Frenzy will cause the opposition to weaken each other, making it easier for you to tag them. Before any of them can die, you'll cast Rout, causing them to run in all sorts of directions. You'll take the first enemy with a critical charge, finishing them off, then you turn to the other enemy trying to flee and Whirlwind Sprint right up to them, cutting them down with ease. After that, a critical charge or two will take care of whoever is left. Perhaps if one got away, you can conjure up the bow and pull a "Ramsay's Game".
I had so much fun putting this build together, and I am proud of what I was able to make with my low-end PC & limited graphic design skills. If you read the entire build, or even skimmed, thank you for giving it the time of day. Any feedback, comments, or questions are much appreciated as I spent a considerable amount of time on this project. I wish everyone else participating in the contest the best of luck, and I look forward to seeing what you all put together.
Although this is meant to be played on vanilla Skyrim, I can still reccomend mods to further enhance the build. Firstly, TK Dodge can really spice up combat and is very useful on solo opponents. It really makes you feel like a true martial combatant. There is a series of mods by MadFrenchie dedicated to rooting out Thalmor from the land and they play well into our characters motive and provide additional gameplay. If you use mods and haven't added Dual Sheathe Redux to your load order, you are seriously missing out. Having an actual draw animation for left-hand weapons and having them actually appear on your character can make a load of difference in immersion. The AmidianBorn armor retexures are great for our aesthetic and I am using them in the screenshots. I also am using Enhanced Blood Textures to give the character that extra feeling of ruthlessness and savagery. Purchasing property in major cities is not this character's style, seeing as he's a controversial figure and all, but The Legend of the Eagle's Nest provides a secluded mountain hideaway, centrally located in the mountains south of Whiterun. It suits his personality well and will still cost you a pretty penny to furnish, so it's not cheaty. Last, but certainly not least, is any killmove mod. I use The Dance of Death and jack up the killmove rate to 100% with no 'Last Enemy Restriction' for a truly cinematic and fun battle.
This build has been modified as of 4/21/20. Enchanting has been moved to a minor skill to achieve balance, and Restoration has been dropped to incentivise smarter gameplay and achieve balance. The perk spread has been redone, credit to Ponty for the advice on making them, the Gameplay section received minor changes, and other minor changes have been made to the build in general.
Also, huge thanks to Teccam, Elysium, and Erinoth for providing contructive criticism as apart of the contest judging, which inspired me to make some much needed changes.
Congratulations to Ponty for placing 1st, Shadon on placing 2nd, and Asgard for tying with me for 3rd.