"Dark Molag Bal, takes blood and souls as wealth."
THE DEADEYE PHANTOM
a build for vanilla Skyrim
A lone Dunmer, drawn to the hidden occult secrets of the world, travels to Skyrim to uncover its ancient relics. Armed with a bow, vials of magic oil, and his cunning mind, he turns the frozen north into his own personal laboratory.
His story begins among the heavy ashfalls of Morrowind. Bands of reavers roam the ashlands, fighting for survival and dominance. The Deadeye Phantom was the leader of one such band, and at the time, his only goal was to keep his band together. Life was tough for reavers in the ashland, and most groups fell apart from internal squabbling, or members leaving to find more promising prospects.
The Deadeye Phantom led his band of mercenaries through the ashen lands admirably, and kept them well-fed and clothed so long as they did their part. He taught them magic - flesh spells to keep themselves alive - but kept secret his affinity and skill in necromancy. Especially in the Ashlands, Dunmer hold severe prejudices against necromancy. Though the band was contracted occasionally to kill and raid, their most profitable jobs by far were in the escorting of explorers in search of ancient relics buried beneath the ash. The Deadeye Phantom was proud of his work, and his ability to keep his band and the explorers alive was second to none. Any threat was quickly taken care of from 100 yards away with a well-placed arrow from his quiver. Through his practical skills and cunning, he was able to provide a decent life for his band of Reavers, which is a lot more than most bandit chiefs could say.
Unfortunately, With the passing of time, fewer and fewer dunmer strayed from the safer and more civilized cities of Morrowind, and his mercenary group realized they could not afford to continue taking jobs together. The rough circumstances forced them to either wander, or change lifestyles. The Deadeye was heartbroken to see his band slowly dwindle to nothing. Even the young reaver he took in as a child chose to wander. The Deadeye grew coldhearted and bitter. It seemed loyalty meant nothing to anyone but him. He gave his band everything he could, and they still left him when things got tough. With nothing else of meaning in his life, he decided to do what he did best - hunting for ancient relics - but this time, he would keep them for himself. With nothing to lose, he used necromancy openly to raise the corpses of fallen reavers in the ashlands to become his new band. These undead reavers would obey his every order, and never leave him. He picked up rumors of treasure, and followed whispers of ancient daedric artifacts and cursed relics. These intrigued him the most. Eventually, these rumors led him outside the borders of Morrowind, and eventually to the border of Skyrim.
We roleplay that he carried with him into Skyrim ancient valuables that were lost in the Imperial-Stormcloak skirmish. As an experienced leader himself, he understands that the Imperials were just following orders - he blames Ulfric for the loss of his belongings. His bitter heart demands vengeance, and he makes his first item of business taking out this pretender. This is our roleplay justification for completing the civil war early for the sake of obtining Ulfric’s clothes - and looks are extremely important to us. Plus, this is easy to roleplay as a Dunmer, since his people are treated so harshly by the Stormcloaks.
After his revenge is garnered, he can focus on his original goal of seeking out the finest and rarest antiquities in the region. After his band of reavers abandoned him, this becomes his only solace, and turns into a dark obsession throughout the playthrough. He becomes especially enamored with the Daedric Artifacts. Items that exist outside of the bounds of Mundus.
Realizing that he is growing old, he gladly accepts Harkon’s gift of Immortal Vampire blood. With this new lease on life, he finds new purpose. With his cunning and skill, he could live forever - amassing power, prestige, and wealth. Furthermore, he could hoard the daedric artifacts indefinitely. In his research, he has determined the daedra relocate their artifacts when the current carrier dies, or when they feel the need to have their champion killed off and replaced. If he can keep the daedra in a gridlock, playing off their rivalries, he will never need to surrender these artifacts, and never see them fall into someone else's hands.
One thing that has always bothered us is the fact that you can literally become the champion of each daedra, even daedra that are sworn enemies of each other. However, with a different roleplay approach we now have a reason for this. Imagine the implications of sacrificing someone to Boethiah by killing them with the mace of molag bal. Suddenly it’s no longer a sacrifice, but a challenge. Boethiah appears and says “you have caught my attention mortal.” This daedric prince couldn’t resist the opportunity to one-up a rival, and wasn’t about to have the last laugh. The Phantom Deadeye plays on the daedras rivalries to force their hand. Some other roleplay moments can include wearing the ebony mail to acquire volendrung from Malacath, wielding dawnbreaker when acquiring the mace of molag bal, and if all else fails, using the wabbajack against any of the other daedric minions… Reminding them that Sheogorath was once Jyggalag. The relationships between daedra are complicated and nebulous, and there are not very many clear-cut rivalries. However, It is not too much of a stretch to imagine they do not like getting shown up, so use the artifacts during these missions whenever possible. We’d love to hear what rivalries you would come up with.
For the deadeye, life is a struggle for power, and a great game of chess. His movements through the shadows ensure even the daedra’s influence remains in “check.” For questlines, He will do Dawnguard DLC (siding with volkihar clan of course), College of Winterhold, Daedric Quests, Main Quest, and Dragonborn. Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood would be great to get involved with at his leisure.
His playstyle is one of my all-time favorite ways to play the game: Minions + ranged support. He shuns summoning in favor of reanimation, mainly due to the synergy with his unique alchemical concoctions, but he is capable of summoning various daedra and atronachs if backed into a corner. He also uses alteration flesh spells defensively.
For Alchemy, His most frequent brews are
Potion of Binding: Potion of fortify conjuration/fortify health - Bone Meal, Wheat, Blue Mountain Flower
Anoining Oil of Binding: Poison of damage health/fortify health = Nightshade, Wheat, Blue Mountain Flower.
The first he uses on himself, the second he applies to his undead bandit chief with nettlebane. Since they are undead, they resist the damage health effect, but gain the fortify health aspect. (Shoutout to Noodles's Twilight Of Meridia build for inspiring this idea). Note, you cannot do this trick with minions who were already undead before reanimations, so no master vampires unfortunately. The good news is this means thralls are easily replaceable since any bandit chief will do. No need to worry if you lose them in some dwemer ruin behind spinning blades.
We imagine he uses alchemy to unlock stronger necromantic control. The two concoctions listed above are connected, when both are in effect, it increases his power over the undead dramatically. We chose to only keep one bandit chief thrall with us at all times. This left the other minion slot open for various animals/creatures to raise during combat. If backed into a corner with no other available corpses to reanimate, he can summon a dremora for back-up. By only using one thrall, we occasionally were able to reanimate chaurus, mammoths, spiders, and other various enemies you encounter. We felt the best of both worlds, keeping a reliable minion on hand, but monitoring the battlefeild for fresh corpses to reanimate.
Weapon: Dwarven Black bow of Fate, Nettlebane (for delivering poisons to minions).
Armor: Clothing, your pick. We chose ulfrics clothes, mourner's hat, vampire gloves+boots. All strictly for aesthetic. Mourners' clothing works well too.
Auxiliary Gear: Ring of the Erudite + Amulet of Resist Magic
For the sake of aesthetics and a gameplay challenge, we are only wearing ordinary clothing. Necromancy + Archery allows for mitigation of damage by avoiding it altogether through careful positioning, and using minions to draw aggro off of yourself. Alteration flesh spells and potions of fortification can provide emergency defenses when necessary. Plus, wearing only clothing means no armor penalties for movement speed, and he can benefit from the mage armor perk.
Stats & Perk Spread
Stats: 1:1:1 This is very flexible. We decided to place the first 10 levels in magicka for the sake of easier necromancy in early-game, and then do an even spread for all following points. Eventually, the ring of the erudite solves any magicka pool problems.
Standing Stone: Apprentice. Its fast magicka regen+ring of the erudite make a good pair. Successfully playing this kind of character means not getting hit anyway.
Alteration and Archery can be prioritized more past level 40. Stealth wasn’t as necessary, since vampires have a base boost in this category, and he doesn’t generate noise from armor. Alchemy augments everything, and potions of invisibility are easy to create and drastically reduce the need for perks in this tree.
Gravepact Ritual: Dead Thrall + Courage + Oil of Binding. Even though we're not perking illusion, courage is a low-level spell that adds 25 flat health to the recipient. This will stack with the fortify health effect of Oil of Binding, and allow you to overcome any boss-level enemies like dragon priests that are capable of casting "turn undead" on your minions.
Altar of Sacrifice: Paralysis Poison (canis root, imp stool), Mora's Agony, Soul Tear. This provides a cinematic way to gain your second minion. As mentioned previously, we are only using one thrall, which allows us to use the super fun soul tear shout during combat.
Cataclysm. Auriels Bow + Storm Call + Vampire Lord Form. Sometimes, backseat archery isn't sufficient, and he needs to call on the ancient sanguine powers of blood magic to darken the skies and reign terror on the battlefield personally. He is the dragonborn after-all, and occasionally needs to remind those beneath him of the true power he can wield.
Thanks for reading through the Phantom Deadeye. We’ve all played Skyrim to death, and yet we keep coming back. This build was made to spark interest again when the game starts becoming stale. The gameplay forces you to think ahead and outsmart your opponents, and knowledge-seeking mages are our favorite archetype.
Dunmer Spellsword Art Credit: Maksim Vorontsov