The Hist Never Forgets... Not when we were taken from our home or shoved in the Dunmer ships. Not when we were paraded in the streets and sold for shiny gems. Not when we were beaten and starved and forced to toil under Morrowind's sun. The Hist Remembers and So Shall I.
The Hist Never Forgets the day we were taken so far north the water from the sea froze onto my scales. It will remember the chains that bore us to the floor as the Dumner sailors ran to the deck above to climb into their lifeboats. It trembled when it felt the icy water that rushed into the hold, sapping the heat from our blood and bones. It knew that the plea of our hears was to have our story told, to be remembered, to be avenged. The Hist Remembers and So Will I.
The Hist Never Forgets the way we begged to be set free as the water grew colder and the light got dimmer. It tried to comfort us when we realized our fates were sealed beneath Nordic seas and Elven binds. It cried as it watched us die one by one, succumbing to the cold and giving our souls to a place far from home. It wailed when it couldn't take us home; we died too far from its reach. The Hist Remembers because So Do I.
The Hist Never Forgets that I was the last to die. It watched when my muscles stiffened and my lungs and gills slowed down. It promised me revenge as I sank to the bottom of an endless ocean, and that was enough to comfort me to give into the sleep. The Hist Remembers and It Awakens The Void.
The Hist Never Forgets the way my bodied stirred to life after eras of frozen stillness. It grinned as my heart growled in hunger, longing for something food would never satisfy. It whispered my new name into the darkness to beckon me into a new light. It cheered as my eyes broke the waves, staring into a land changed by time but a people who had not. The Hist Remembers and I was not Forgotten.
A new voice called me to act. “Revenge is yours. Go. Steal and kill. Massacre the men and the mer and all that dare stand in your way! Remind them what they did to you! Remind them who they killed beneath frozen waves and blood-mined iron! Send them to me! Send them to the Void!”
The Hist Never Forgets and I am its Vengeance.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here is my submission for the first ever contest The Sky Forge has hosted! This build has been a long time in the making since I had a very rough layout of her character long before the contest was announced. Luckily I remembered her in the shadows of my mind and was able to rework and salvage a very basic build and turn it into probably one of the darkest playthroughs I have ever done. This build is going to rely on several mods but I have listed which ones you need and which ones you can overlook.
Without further ado, let's meet...
The Sea of Ghosts Siren was hatched under the limbs of a Hist tree and cradled in its roots as she tasted its sap. It was The Hist that gave her a name, a soul, and a purpose. Argonia was still reeling from war and it needed warriors more than ever. She was just a hatchling, but as she grew, The Hist promised to teach her the ways of the Saxheel. She would stand in defense of her home, kill for her home, and when the time came she would die for it. It wasn't an end, The Hist promised, as her soul would return and teach the next generation how to do the same. The Siren agreed that there was no greater end.
Unfortunately, not even The Hist could stop what was to come. The Siren found herself one of the many Argonians kidnapped and enslaved by the Dunmer during the First and Second Eras. Her small amount of training did little against the elves as they assaulted and ransacked any Argonian settlement in their wake before retreating with their bounty back into Morrowind. As she was drug across the horrid landscape, she was exposed to all the horrors they could inflict on her kind: beatings, starvation, abuse, torture, murder... It wasn't the life, or death, the noble Saxheel deserved. They were out of The Hist's reach in the foreign land. The Siren decided that if The Hist couldn't reach them there, she would have to remember the souls until she returned home. She wouldn't let them be lost forever.
The years of being sold from one owner to another only strengthened The Siren's hatred for all races. Even if Dunmer's created their bondage, there was no greater atrocity than turning a blind eye. To everyone else, Argonians were mere property. This was further resolved in her mind when dozens of her kind were piled into a boat to be shipped to the neighboring Skyrim. Their slavery was being spread, but the proud Saxheel were too broken to stop it and it seemed like no one else cared.
The slavers took them into the cold sea where they would inadvertently meet their end. The careless marauders ran into one of the many icebergs that littered the ocean and thought only to sail themselves to safety. The Siren and her fellow cargo sank with the vessel, but it was the cold that killed them. She wasn't scared of dying, but angry that all those lives would be forgotten. She wanted revenge on those that lived. Her final plea was heard by The Hist in her dying moments, and she was at peace when she heard its reply.
The Siren slept for centuries in her underwater fortress until The Hist called her to wake again. Her body was dead, but her soul and mind had never been more alive. The Hist gave her a new name, a new soul, and a new purpose. She was The Sea of Ghost Siren: a haunting memory of a time not fully avenged in the eyes of The Hist. She was to inflict the fear and pain of those souls she harbored onto the people who let it happened.
The Hist remembers. It's time for the world to remember as well...
Mythology holds that a “siren” is a woman-like creature that lured pirates and unwary sailors to an untimely death at sea. These creatures were said to sing or preform dangerously close to rocks and shallows forcing their unsuspecting victims to run aground and sink their boats. Once the vessel submerged, the surviving crew were drowned or eaten by the sirens, leaving no survivors.
Most reports pin sirens as evil and opportunistic, but there are alternative pirate tales explaining their origins. After pillaging a town or vessel, pirates would often kidnap women for- let's simply put it as- a night of entertainment. Seeing as it was bad luck to have a woman aboard your ship however, they would need to get rid of her as soon as they all had their fun. These women were usually tossed overboard to avoid making unnecessary stops and clean ups, so they met their end beneath sea waves. Legend holds however that the women lost at sea were salvaged by the ocean itself in their dying moments. They were turned into sirens and their seductive charm would help them get the revenge they were so desperate to deal.
Oblivion hath no fury like a woman scorned, and The Siren is looking for something to unlease her fury upon. While our Sea of Ghost Siren is not nearly as seductive as Pirate Lore Sirens, I wanted to let them be the inspiration for the Build. I tried to incorporate as many similarities as I could while blending in the fascinating lore of the Saxheel. I've listed a few key points to keep in mind when playing this character:
Revenge is a fuel. Anyone who wrongs you deserves to die. The Dunmer are a scourge upon the world and must be eliminated.
Devour the enemies flesh. There's no sweeter taste than the flesh of those you slaughter. Let their allies know their fate.
Return to the sea often. Your new body was forged in the sea so to the sea it must return.
Dominate the world with fear and intimidation. Let those who once oppressed you become oppressed. Let them beg for your mercy and let the whims of your heart decide their fate.
Remember The Hist and The Void. You owe all to them. Though you may not return to The Hist's embrace, let yourself be a vessel in which it exacts its own revenge into the world.
Take what you need without fear of consequence. If you want it, take it. The world owes you for years of suffering in silence. If anyone cares what you steal, kill them or force them to silence.
The Siren has many more dynamics than those listed, but I decided to keep the list shorter and give more details in the “Gameplay/Roleplay” section. A couple of the points are made accessible in game with the help of mods, but they are not necessary to play the build. I've included those in the “Mods” section.
Argonian. Born in Black Marsh during the First Era, The Siren is proud to call herself an Argonian. Her gills grant her the ability to breath in the waters that would drown a lesser race. Further, her strong tail and webbed digits give her a deadly speed when swimming, making it impossible for her enemies to outrun her in the waves.
Sirens are female, but should you choose to play as a male, it will not affect the build. The Hist cares not about gender, only about avenging the dead.
The Lover. An ironic stone, but who's going to tell The Siren that? The Siren has a job to do and her devotion is so strong even death cannot stop it. The Lover Stone gives her a second chance to finish those who would have ended her, reviving her with full health once a day if she manages to fall. Through the stone, The Hist can periodically deliver gifts to her as well, to serve as payment between ransacking villages.
The Serpent. Deadly as a snake but without fear of being trodded over. Born under the sign of The Serpent, The Siren is gifted with abilities unlike any other. With a single spell, all poison in her system becomes ineffective. A welcome side effect of the purging makes her toxic to the touch. Those without the ability to resist it can fall to a simple poisonous touch of her hand. It doesn't bother The Siren though. She doesn't need anyone getting too close.
N/A. There were no gods of man or elf who saved her from the seas. There was only The Hist and there was only The Void.
If choosing to use Wintersun, you can accept the blessings of The Hist or Sithis, but it is advisable to avoid doing so. Any diseases contracted help buff restoration spells as explained in “Perks and Leveling”.
Undead. Eras have passed since The Siren has seen the world above the waves, but that cold water did wonders for her skin.
The Siren is Undead, but there are no vanilla ways to incorporate that into the character. For the textural look and general feel of being “dead” I used Undead FX. It doesn't add any mechanics to the game for an Undead character, but perks and roleplay make up for that issue.
N/A. The Siren died alone, therefore The Siren fights alone. The Hist is her strength, so she would not need another. If you must include a companion, it has to be an Argonian, as no one else would understand the true reason she fights.
Dark Brotherhood. The Void and The Hist are all that are and all that should be. The Siren would have considered herself lucky to kill for Sithis as a Shadowscale, but joining him in her second life is still ideal. Even if The Brotherhood is ran by men, getting paid to kill those she likely already would isn't a bad deal. They may not agree with her tactics of killing in view of others, but at least she gets the job done.
Spellsword. Mysticism and Raw Power meet in a deadly display. The Siren wields both magic and might. While this makes it impossible to defend herself, ripping through enemies with disease and poison at a distance make the odds tip in her favor.
Specialization Bonus: +20 Stamina
Combat Skills: Heavy Armor, One-Handed, Smithing
Stealth Skills: Alchemy, Speech
Magic Skills: Restoration, Alteration
Secondary Skills: Athletics
The Siren falls into a class of her own with an emphasis on Combat and Magic Skills. All perks but Smithing play a crucial part in the making of this build, but I will elaborate more on that in the “Perks and Leveling Section”. Athletics gives The Siren a nice stamina regeneration boost while increasing her speed on foot. The combination of speed on land and on sea make for a terrifying combination for anyone in her sights.
*Note: Birthsign and Class are added by a mod and are necessary only for having both The Serpent Stone and The Lover Stone active. While it is highly recommended you include the mod for both stones and a building framework, it is not required.
War Axe. The slice of a blade meets the bludgeoning of a mace. The war axe is the perfect weapon for The Siren as it combines beauty with fatality. With perks from Ordinator, the War Axe becomes a deadly weapon for those who fail to fall to your offensive spells. After awakening, The Siren will find any War Axe to work in a pinch, but overtime it is necessary to craft and sharpen the weapon into a much deadlier form.
Ebony, Daedric, and Dragonbone Axes are ideal for this build, as their high damage stacks with bleeding effects to achieve a quicker kill for even the strongest of enemies. I chose to give The Siren the Dragonsteel War Axe (from Immersive Weapons), as it killed lower level enemies easily but gave a good challenge against those at higher level.
Heavy. The weight of heavy armor is nothing compared to the pressures of the deep sea. The Siren doesn't care for the weight of armor. The armor serves only to protect her scales as she adjusts to life outside the waves. She chooses to leave her helm off, however, giving her full view of her surroundings and letting her victims know exactly who is sending them to the Void. The more terrifying the armor the better. If mortals choose to bend to her will, she might spare them.
Ironically, The Siren uses the heavy armor variation of Morrowind's Chitin Armor, added in by Immersive Armors. Another possible choice of armor, one that The Siren chose to use when killing for Sithis, is the Ebony Mage Armor. It is not necessary to to include the mod however and the armors can be substituted by Ebony or Daedric.
Restoration and Alteration. The normally docile schools of magic have been turned upside down. Rather than focus on buffing herself, The Siren focuses on tearing her enemies down. While she will use the occasional Stoneflesh or Fast Healing, most of her Magicka output is dedicated to disease and sapping away her enemies' armor, health, and regeneration. The Hist has even taught her how to infect the dead, killing those who wish to retrieve their fallen. The Saxheel had no such luxury. Why should the Nords?
Restoration: Circle of Strength, Fast Healing, Necroplague, Putrefy/Death Cloud/Carrion Wind
Alteration: Stoneflesh, Ebonyflesh, Wither
*Note: Most of the spells have been added by the Apocalypse mod and buffed by the Ordinator mod, thus both mods are essential for this build.
Caustic Spit, Serpent's Sting. Like a spitting cobra. The Siren's bloodlust may extend far beyond her capabilities. The Hist knows that even the elite have limitations and has blessed its chosen with the power of Caustic Spit. The acidic venom errodes a targets armor making them much easier to take down for several seconds. Paired with The Siren's poisonous touch, even the strongest will find themselves begging on their knees.
Caustic Spit is a super useful power that is added by Imperious to all Argonians. The power blended in well enough with the build that I chose to include it. The Siren doesn't care who get's in the way of her venom, so take caution if including followers.
Become Ethereal, Bend Will, Disarm, Dismay, Drain Vitality, Marked for Death. It came as an annoying surprise when the Nords started calling her Dragonborn, but The Siren doesn't mind the perks that come with it. All of The Siren's shouts revolve around terrifying or disadvantaging opponents. Cycling through different shouts becomes a necessity when fighting multiple high level enemies. Those that don't flee in fear must find themselves being drained. Those that survive can become subjugated. It doesn't matter to The Siren as long as someone is suffering.
Shroud of Boethiah, Enchantments. While The Siren isn't outright looking to enchant her armor, she'll take what The Hist provides. Enchantments discovered by disenchanting the gifts given by The Lover Stone are usually enough to give The Siren some nice perks. Similarly the Shroud of Boethiah adds to her menacing appearance without taking the slot of armor already in place. Neither enchantments or the Shroud are required, but The Siren won't turn down a chance to further intimidate her enemies if given the chance.
Should you choose to enchant, below is a list of enchantments that could be used. The skill is not included in the actual build since it is non-essential, but perks should go all the way to Twin Enchantment. Summermyst was used to choose the enchantments.
Deadly Reach (Cast spells from any distance), Death Shroud (Kill those too close), Siphon Health (Absorb Health), Siphon Stamina (Absorb Stamina)
2 Magicka:2 Health:1 Stamina
The Siren's main offense for the majority of the build is her Disease and Poison. Since she will rely so heavily on her Magicka and Health, perks should be placed mainly on those areas until Magicka reaches around 200. At that time, the Alteration and Restoration trees should be filled enough that the spells don't require too much Magicka to cast, so stats can focus mainly on catching Stamina up at a 0 Magicka:1 Health:2 Stamina ratio. Uncapping perk trees or making them legendary will help raise The Siren up to an even higher level, but I found that every perk became unlocked around Level 50.
Major Perk Placement:
Restoration. There's not much to heal when you're dead. As an Undead character, restoration seems like a redundant skill tree, but for The Siren it is the life blood of the build. Using the perks to Plague Doctor, sapping health rather than replenishing it becomes much easier. The Siren focuses on reducing all of the enemies stats before first physical contact, making them an easy kill or a fleeing target. When paired with perks like Warrior's Flame and Ashes to Ashes, there's a further chance enemies will be drained of vitality, even when not engaged in direct combat. Catching and holding diseases benefits the perks on this tree as well, adding an interesting roleplaying element.
Heavy Armor. A strong defense to a steady offense. In addition to providing strong protection from attacks, heavy armor aids in intimidation. There is hardly anything more terrifying than a heavily clad, undead Argonian walking towards you in pure rage. With Rise Above and Primal Fear, walking towards an enemy has a chance to intimidate them and make them flee from The Siren's wake. She need not worry if they run too far. With Cushioned, fall damage is negated greatly, meaning chasing a bandit down a mountain has never been more safe. Finally, The Siren can look her enemies in the eye so they can truly see the Face of Death I know what terrors they had wrought on her kind.
Alteration. Be the change in the world, for good or for evil. While very few Alteration spells are used by The Siren, the tree is a good investment. Perks like Spellblade and Energy Roil benefit the use of both spell and axe, while Rend Resistance aids in weakening closer opponents for an easier kill. To make up for the lack of self-regeneration and buffing, the Alter Self perks and Welloc's Dormant Arcana provide some much needed help in the areas that are lacking. Finally, Nullifier creates a dampening field around The Siren, making enemies of all types feel as powerless as she did those eons ago.
Minor Perk Placement:
One-handed. The axe is the secondary offense, but it might be The Siren's favorite. A hit from the maxed out Bleed Like a Lamb perk creates a massive damage over time effect. Attacking a target already damaged by one of the disease spells almost feels like an overkill, but it sure is nice to watch them bleed out.
Speech. The Thu'um is powerful, but can it be stronger? She might not like being called Dragonborn, but The Siren takes full advantage of the more sinister shouts. Buffed by perks on the Speech tree, shouting becomes more effective, lasts longer, and has a shorter cooldown time. And the Universe Listens can be used to help regenerate some lost Health and Stamina as well, making up for a lack of self-regeneration.
Alchemy. Disease and poison make a terribly brew. While not directly interested in Alchemy, The Siren may find poisons to be a delightful addition to her attacks. Following the tree to Alkahest invests just enough points to make some deadly brews while not focusing too much time or energy on getting the mixture just right.
Magic: The use of ranged magic, powers, shouts, and dampening spells are the main form of offense in this build. It is important to assess each conflict quickly as The Siren never runs from a fight. Having a good layout of favorite spells and shouts is essential as you begin to face higher level enemies. More times than not, I found myself cycling through a combination of three spells (Death Cloud, Wither, Necroplague) and two shouts (Marked for Death, Dismay). For the random run-of-the-mill bandits you encounter throughout Skyrim, the combination worked well. When I advanced to dragons and giants however, I found myself having to try out new spell and power combinations.
The general rule for The Siren's build is to strike first and strike last. The first attack should be a decent disease spell that can be cast at a good distance (if using Deadly Reach, distance doesn't become an issue). You want to take away a massive amount of health and leave those unable to resist steadily draining. If they make the mistake of refusing to run away, using a debuffing shout or power such as Caustic Spit or Drain Vitality puts you at an even greater advantage. Before they enter melee range, cast the disease spell as many times as you'd like. Watch them suffer from afar before moving in for the kill.
Melee: Attack those still reeling from your disease spells without prejudice. The fight should always end up close and personal and with both of you covered in blood. A good method for fighting the diseased is to use quick strikes to stack the bleed damage and drain their health even faster. Power attacks are too easy and should only be used to end a fight. The point of the axe is to make the opponent suffer, so why would you end a fight so quickly? Using looted and created poisons adds to the fun of watching the light leave their eyes. Be sure to poison the weapon before the fight as not to distract yourself from the slaughter. The Siren isn't afraid of death, so she will never retreat or pull away to recover her health. Instead, if she falls in battle the effects of The Lady Stone will bring her right back into the fight. As opponents fall, you may switch back to Magic tactics until they get into Melee range again. The Siren should be able to switch between these tactics quickly.
Unlike most evil-aligned characters, The Sea of Ghost Siren is driven by something more than her own self interest. She believes she is destined to avenge the fallen Argonians who died in lands so far from their own that even their souls couldn't return home. Her dedication to The Hist paired with the bloodlust of revenge makes for a deadly combination, one that will ultimately bring an end to herself or all of Tamriel. To play this build to the fullest, I had to do a lot of things I normally wouldn't do in a playthrough.
For instance, I had to learn to steal and kill without sneaking. Stealing from Belethor is one thing. Stealing from Belethor while looking him dead in the eye with a Go-To-Oblivion look is entirely different. Large sums of gold and intimidation work well to get out of a tough spot, but early in the game I had to learn to fight my way out or deal with the consequences. Similarly, I found myself killing people I normally wouldn't, even as an Assassin. Old ladies, children, the occasional guard who said, “What do you want, lizard?”... No one was off limits. It was an odd adjustment to be sure. The Siren justifies herself when she remembers all the Argonians lost. What's a couple septims? What's a couple children to The Void.
The Hist and Sithis are the two main deities in Argonian religion, therefore The Siren is going to have a close connection to them both. Anyplace where one of the two might be should be considered sacred. Any whims or wishes of the two should be carried out. Should Sithis declare someone to die, do it. Should The Hist command you spare someone's life, it shall be done. The balance and direction comes from these two forces to enact full revenge on the world. Those that survive will merely be subjugates when all is said and done.
To fully consider herself a Siren, I created a couple self-imposed rules for the Build. The Siren had to return to the sea periodically. It didn't matter what part of the sea, be it Solitude or Windhelm, but she had to return every few days to “replenish” herself. Eons under the waves made her dependent on the cold sea. Further, she had to eat some of the carcasses of those she killed in the name of revenge. This was a fairly difficult rule to pin down, but with aid from Namira, I was able to figure out how to accomplish the task. Namira isn't important to The Siren at all, but The Ring was highly important to this element of roleplay. Finally, she couldn't call herself a Siren if she didn't kill some pirates. I made it a mission to seek out every shipwreck in game as well as those added with “Tamrielic Culture”, and clear them of pirates and booty. The Siren enjoyed both the riches and bounty of meat so much that she could hardly wait for the dungeons to respawn. To pass the time, I traveled the coast attacking travelers, settlements, and cities I came across, only to retreat back into the sea. The Hist wants revenge, but we can still have a little fun.
There were several quests I ended up completing throughout the build, but I've decided to take the most relevant ones and elaborate on them. For quests not mentions or those with multiple endings, choose the option your Siren would most likely do. Do not side with Dark Elves. Help all Argonians. Kill and steal to your hearts desire. If you want it, take it by any means necessary.
The Dark Brotherhood Questline. To serve Sithis and The Hist is a dream come true. On the track for revenge The Siren can pick up some extra septims and slaughter any witnesses along the way. Meeting the Shadowscale Veezara is a massive plus.
The Dragonborn Questline. The Siren isn't going to pass up the opportunity to return to Morrowind and exact her revenge directly on those who oppressed her. Killing Miraak and completing the missions there can be considered a side quest to killing any Dunmer who has something to say against her.
The Main Questline. As much as she doesn't want to help the Nords, the dragons are becoming a nuissance. If she could kill them, that would be alright. If she could use them to fight for her, the revenge would be even deadlier.
Daedric Missions. There are a variety of Daedric Cults scattered around Skyrim, but The Siren cares little about them. If she catches word of them, she may use the artifacts but there are only a few she would readily seek out: Peryite, Boethiah, Vaermina, Namira, Mephala.
Pirate/Sea Related Quests. While exploring the shipwrecks and sea caves, The Siren is bound to catch word of some trouble at sea. It doesn't matter who delivers the quest as long as there is a promise of gold and blood, The Siren will be there.
Alternate Start: Suggested. Adds the option to choose where to start the character off. For this build I chose “Shipwrecked off the Coast”.
Andromeda: Necessary. Overhauls the Standing Stones while remaining lore friendly.
Apocalypse: Necessary. Adds new spells to the game.
Classic Classes and Birthsigns: Suggested. Allows you to choose a Birthsign and Class for your character.
Dominion's More Argonians: Suggested. Adds more Argonians around Skyrim. Use only if you plan on having followers.
Immersive Armors: Suggested. Adds new, lore friendly armors to the game and retextures vanilla ones.
Immersive Weapons: Suggested. Adds new, lore friendly weapons to the game and retextures vanilla ones.
Imperious: Necessary. Overhauls the vanilla races in the game to give them lore friendly abilities and powers.
Ordinator: Necessary. Overhauls the perk system in the game to allow more complex builds.
Summermyst: Suggested. Adds new, lore friendly enchantments to the game. Use only if you plan on enchanting weapons and armor.
Tamrielic Culture: Suggested. Adds multiple new items, dungeons, and encounters to the game to make the land feel more in touch with the rest of Tamriel. Highly suggested if you want more pirate-themed elements.
Undead FX: Suggested. Adds an disenchantable amulet to the game that decays the player's skin and makes them appear more undead. Highly suggested to give a visual element to an otherwise normal looking character.
Veezara Alive: Suggested. Prevents Veezara from dying during The Dark Brotherhood Questline. Use only if you plan to use followers.
Walks-In-Shadows: Suggested. Adds a fully functional Argonian follower to the game. Use only if you plan to use followers.
Wintersun: Suggested. Overhauls the blessing system and adds new gods and worship to Skyrim.
Zim's Immersive Artifacts: Suggested. Overhauls unique artifacts found in the game to have a better look and enchantment.
Well that was a bit of a long build, yeah? The Sea of Ghost Siren was a very difficult build for me but I am overall excited by the way she turned out. I would like to give a special thanks to Curse-Never-Dying for hosting the contest, Lee (Fiskill) for taking the time to put together an amazing pirate modding guide, and Pixel for his work on the Builder's College and build section of our Discord. There are a lot of you guys out there who give me constant reassurance and support so a big thank you to you too!
As always, let me know what you think about the build in the comments and if you have any questions feel free to ask!
Talos Guide You!