[Skyrim Character Build] Nocturnal's Curse

So this build has been in my head for a long time, and a recent skypothesis video inspired me to finally playtest it and give it an actual backstory. The whole idea behind this build is mostly focussed around immersing your character into the world of skyrim down to every single detail. Not just as far as lore is concerned, but also as far as game mechanics and world interactions are concerned.

Born to some of the remnants of the mythic dawn, or one or two generations down from them at least, you were brought into the world under incredibly dangerous circumstances. You were born to two cold-eyed imperials, afraid, angry, and without purpose after their plans of world domination were thwarted. But when the soldiers found you and baptised you in your parent’s blood, in their eyes you were a child without sin. They couldn’t bring themselves to take the life of a child, regardless of what your parents' had done in the past. You were taken under the wing of a dark elf, a rare sight considering many had left Cyrodil in fear of being hunted for their worship of the reclamations, worshipping daedra after the oblivion crisis where Mehrunes Dagon almost ended the world.

But unbeknownst to the men who entrusted you to this grey faced wizard, they were leaving you in the hands of a far more dangerous future than even the one of your parents. The man who would raise you led a group of mages that didn’t simply worship the daedra, they spent generations of research and study as a collective in order to emulate the power of the daedra themselves, specifically Nocturnal, the most mysterious of all the princes. Saying such research is ambitious was an understatement, after all, little to nothing was known of Nocturnal’s power. But their words were backed up by the incredible talent and dedication of the members of this hidden cult. All of them were known criminals and were wanted dead, aside from the old dunmer who adopted you. His illusion magic was far too advanced for anybody to suspect him of anything so nefarious.

Years went by, you were indoctrinated, thinking that the only thing in life was furthering the knowledge of you and your fellow mages, your “family”. Though since all the teachings you were given were books on the daedra and casting magic, the normalcy of a true family eluded you, and you hardly knew the word’s meaning. You had talent and drive to rival your much older peers, and as your adoptive father was growing old, he would spend the next few years transferring all the knowledge he had amassed in his lengthy lifespan into you. You would be their new generation.

Finally, a breakthrough, something that could bring the power of the daedra into your grasp. Nocturnal’s artifact, the grey cowl, was thought to be north of the border, in Skyrim. They needed to find it, so they went on an expedition, and were caught on the border by imperial guards. While each and every mage was impressive, they were scholars, not fighters. And in such close territory, with the numbers against them, they were cut down. Your father knew that this would be the end, but somewhere deep down he might’ve cared. Perhaps about you, perhaps about the research going to waste. So with his last breath of life, he cast an unfinished spell unto you, one inspired by the effects of the grey cowl.

And in that moment, you were cast into agonising non-existence. Your body and consciousness convulsed and screeched in pain, as your past disappeared piece by piece, as if they had never existed to begin with. The eyes are the window to the soul, and your soul was being emptied and made into nothingness. Your eyes deepened into darker and darker shades until your convulsions stopped and your eyes were abysmally black.

You awakened. Not from a peaceful slumber, but from a chaotic dream that lasted half a lifetime, and no matter how hard you tried to remember, it simply would never return to you.


the fact that you are no longer “real” is the explanation I use for the following things:

-before you were a practiced mage, some hints of that are still present in the spells you start with (healing and flames), but the vast majority of your knowledge of magic is gone
-your character level starting low, you’ve forgotten almost all your knowledge from the past
-the lack of recognition of your achievements, like how in the companions if you join after other quest-lines then vilkas will say he’s never heard of you despite the things you may have done
-the fact that you’re removed from existence means you’re removed from fate and prophecy, the divines and the daedra alike take interest in that power, explaining why you were blessed as dragonborn, but also why you are favoured by many daedra you encounter, and why you can also recieve blessings from divines no matter your affiliations

The way the backstory relates to the roleplay is that the incomplete spell sent most of you into non-existence. The traces of your past still linger very slightly, so you have an urge to travel to riften and find the thieves guild (that was your cult's original objective), so after helgen your main focus will be going to riften. But the overarching motivation for your character is just searching for the secrets of your past. The thieves guild has ties with the dark brotherhood so that could lead you to them, hoping their secret network will have clues to your past. The arcaneum in the college of winterhold could also have answers so you could join them as soon as you hear about them. The dragonborn prophecy draws you in since it gives you a feeling of purpose for a while and distracts you from your feeling of insecurity about your place in the world. This leads nicely into Hermeus Mora's influence over you in the dragonborn dlc, promising answers in exchange for service intrugues you. Siding with either side in the dawnguard dlc can be justified but vampire makes more sense, since the ancient volkihar clan must have vast knowledge, which could lead you to the truth. If you prefer dawnguard then you can justify it with thinking the previous vigilants of stendarr would have different knowledge and wisdom on how to fill the emptiness in your soul. The questline I struggle most justifying is the companions, so I'd say they're optional. But if you want to do their questline you can do it last, sort of as your character's last ditch effort at finding answers.

If you do end up in the late game, the ebony warroir is an interesting moral dilemma, since your character sees a lot of themselves in him. Clad in black armor, without purpose in life, you could either let him live out of selfishness, since you feel they might be the only one in the world that understands you and losing that isn't in your character's interest. Or you could go for the path of selflessness, fighting him and killing him to spare him from the tragedy of a life without meaning.


Character Creation/Build
As for race and sliders, it's all up to you but in my version of the backstory I like going with imperial and then having blacked out eyes, black hair, and dark makeup. It's completely optional but I find it fits with the aesthetic of the dark, shadowy assassin.

And the build, I went for the nightingale armor (mask optional if you like showing your face, I do), it fits perfect due to your association with nocturnal, I used bound weapons and illusion, so this is a nightblade. But it's quite open ended, you can go for the assassin route and only use illusion for invisibily and muffle (until you get the enchantment), or you can go for the manipulator route and dual cast illusion spells. One thing I do like is using invisibilty to get in the middle of a group of enemies, and then casting a master illusion spell like frenzy. Stat allocations will depend on which route you go, but without enchanting you'll need quite heavy magicka investment for casting. If you really want you can go for enchanting and smithing to optimise, if you do this then the black vampire armor is a good enchantable replacement, but personally I don't do this. 

The reason I chose illusion and conjuration to suplement the build is partly to give them that classic nightblade feel, but also the illusion fits nicely with the backstory, since your adoptive father was an illusionist. And your link with Nocturnal and other daedra also gives you an affinity for conjuration.


The gameplay of the build isn't groundbreaking by any means, but I tried my best to give everything in the game a reason for being that way, which I found made the game uniquely immerssive. A lot of builds you have to suspend your disbelief at some point, but with this build you're in your character's shoes from the get go. You don't know what happens before you wake up on the cart to Helgen, you don't know why you know these two spells, you don't understand why no matter what you do, people won't recognise you. It was a really interesting spin on the game for me and I hope you guys think so too if you try it.


Art is by me as well, just a skyrim inspired tarot card that I thought fit the character


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