(Porting this over from Vault to add pics, and yes, I'm Terran)
They mocked me...
Too horrible to consider...
Too many deaths...
No meaningful progress...
I found the key...
I will show them...
I will save the Empire...
Or I will destroy it...
Veras Hodelia, a name, a good name, yet one stricken from history, a name forgotten. Once a researcher in the war effort against the Aldmeri Dominion, her methods were deemed irresponsible, gruesome, horrific, and ineffectual. And, for her work with the Undead, she was cast out. None in the Synod will acknowledge that name, she is dead to them, dead to herself.
Upon her rebirth, she takes to herself a new name, and a new path for her research. Blood, it drives her, consumes her thought, it must be the key. Now she travels to war torn Skyrim to put her theories to the test. But will she save the Empire, or will she destroy it.
Quite simply, it is my take on a Blood Mage in Skyrim. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a Blood Mage uses his/her own life force to augment spells and cast for longer than otherwise would be feasible through the use of blood. To this end Skyrim does not have the mechanic, persay, however we do have a nice novice level spell in Equilibrium that we can use to simulate this. So with that, let's dive into the build.
Note: I use a glitch in the game known as "The Potent Equilibrium Glitch" as this build's core mechanic, which I will outline later.
Race: Imperial Vampire - For Voice of the Emperor, and for the Restoration Boost. For RP reasons, I treated VotE as a Blood Fueled Seduction.
Gender: Female - Could have easily been male.
Ideally, you want just enough manna to cast your first barrage in combat before switching over to “Blood Magic”. I found the number to be somewhere between 200 and 250 with stone and gear, so a base investment of 150-170 into manna should be sufficient. Once you hit your preferred number, dump everything else into Health, you’ll need it.
Stone: Mage | Atronach | Ritual
Mage stone early to help level all your skills, take the Atronach Stone once you have the Necromage perk.
Ritual Stone in the Aetherial Crown adds to the RP. Putting the Atronach Stone in the Crown might be preferable as then you could summon from the Soul Cairn as well by taking off the crown.
This build has no defense from physical attacks, so the shouts I used ended up being mostly defensive in nature, with a few thematic shouts added in.
Become Ethereal - This was my panic and run button. I only used this if I saw no other way out.
Ice Form - Crowd Control, pure and simple. Stating the obvious, but a frozen enemy won’t hit you back.
Kyne’s Peace - Why not have a Voice for beasts as well? I found this useful enough to warrant inclusion, though it was not used terribly often.
Animal Allegiance - Turning an enemy pet on its own master always makes the fight easier. Just make sure your follower / minions are not already engaged, or it’s worthless.
Unrelenting Force - Sometimes the best laid plans fail, this will give you some space from any pesky melee NPCs that happen to make it to you.
Soul Tear - What's not to like? You get a soul for recharging, damage an enemy, and if you play it right an ally, all from one shout.
Summon Durnehviir - Your research has advanced so far that you now have the power to summon an undead dragon.
Illusion - Whether calming your enemies, sending them into a blood frenzy, or terrifying them to their core, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this school.
Conjuration - Create Undead Meatshields from your fallen foes.
Restoration - Close Wounds and the necessary perks for the Potent Equilibrium Glitch.
Alteration - The school of Equilibrium and Paralyze, and the Tree with the Atronach Perk.
Destruction - Your damage output. Originally I had it just perked for Cold, but found killing things that were resistant too much of pain, so I perked into Lightning as well. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, don’t use Lightning on anything you plan to animate, as you may disintegrate it! You can also use Vampiric Drain to have the blood of others fuel your spells as well, which is always fun!
The first thing to do outside of Helgen is become a vampire. For me that means running to Broke Fang Cave to contract the disease.
One thing to keep in mind as you play is that you have little to no actual defense, and that your health also doubles as your manna, so keeping your enemies occupied elsewhere is essential to your survival. Luckily you have many ways to do this, and many panic buttons in case everything goes wrong.
Potent Equilibrium Glitch:
The basic premise of the Potent Equilibrium Glitch is that you can boost your Equilibrium to grant more mana. By learning Equilibrium, and then perking Regeneration, Equilibrium will boost up to 37/37 from 25/25. Being a Vampire with Necromage will increase it further to 46, and if you dual-cast it, it will turn 103 life into mana per second. For a more thorough explanation, look here.
Early Game (pre Equilibrium Glitch):
Start combat with an illusion crowd control spell (Fury/Calm) on those things not immune where there is a crowd, or the possibility of a crowd exist, and courage on your follower if the other illusion spells cannot be used effectively. Use your follower and any undead you summon to keep your targets’ attention while you blast away with the appropriate Destruction Element.
- Melee: Ice Spike/Frostbite
- Mage: Lightning Bolt/Sparks
- Archers: Ice Spike if they’re somewhat stationary, Lightning Bolt if they move around quite a bit (I’m terrible at hitting moving targets with Ice spells)
- Draugr: Firebolt/Flames (early in the game it’s doubtful you’ll have many perks placed in destruction, so the addition damage fire does helps quite a bit.)
- Dragons: Lightning Bolt (Dragon fights this early are a war of attrition, largely dependant on your mana reserves, any bow you may have, and your followers bow. It might be the best choice to skip dragon fights during this stage, especially in the sunlight. Undead don’t really help this fight, not that you’ll have any permanent undead at this point, but summoning a flame atronach is helpful if you’re just not that into the attrition.)
Mid Game (post Equilibrium Glitch)
Crowd Control to start combat, dual casted if you can and if applicable. If you’re facing off against a crowd, launch a few AoE spells (Ice Storm/Chain Lighting) while your follower/minions close the gap, otherwise stick with Ice Spike / Lightning Bolt Dual-Casted. Once your initial salvo has drained you of magical ability, switch to Equilibrium / Close Wounds to quickly fill up your mana and then health, then keep firing.
- Melee: Drop a Frost Rune for an added layer of protection, and include Frost Cloak if you still feel like you need something more.
- Mage: Chain Lighting while your follower/minions close followed by Lightning Bolt
- Archers: Use Lighting if you’re like me and have trouble hitting them with Ice, otherwise use Ice to drop their stamina.
- Draugr: Dual Cast Flame Rune for protection(make sure you’re far enough away from it when it’s triggered, as at this point it can kill you as well), then follow up with either Firebolt or Lightning Bolt
- Dragons: Dual Casting Lightning Bolt, refill, repeat, all while dodging breath attacks and staying away from the ‘dragon chomp’.
Late Game (post Equilibrium / 100% Atronach)
Combat will be similar to mid-game. The biggest difference is that mages and dragons’ breath attack are now a non-factor. Your biggest threats at this point will be archers simply because most of your defensive panic buttons are close range. With a few well placed illusions, this should not be much of an issue. With much of the combat being the same, I will not reiterate what was already stated in Mid-Game, and only note the differences.
-Mage: While their spells really don’t affect you, still using lightning to drain their magic so they cannot target your follower/minions
- Dragur: With 100% Atronach, it might be beneficial to equip Dawnbreaker to your follower, or use it yourself if you are so inclined, as with 100% Atronach there should be no fallout from its more ‘explosive’ properties.
-Dragons: Avoid their bite and their claws, their breath only fuel your magic at this point, and you should have no problems.
You are a blood fueled megalomaniac. Everyone is beneath you, and all that matters is your research. Whether engaging in further research, testing out your theories against the inhabitants of Skyrim, venting your hatred of the Thalmor, or exacting your revenge on an unsuspecting Empire, everything revolves around your research in some manner.
College of Winterhold:
As a mage, you’re drawn here as a place of research, and one that does not frown upon Conjuration, and even sell Necromancy Tomes! This quest line should be the first you work through, as it’s the only way to get Equilibrium. Other RP brownie points for doing this questline is as follows:
- Access to upper tiered magic, for research purposes (check)
- Get to kill a Thalmor at the end (double check)
- Get to shove your success in the face of those who exiled you! (triple check!)
Siding with the Volkihar, obviously, to continue your research. Vampire Lord can be seen as the next evolutionary step in your research.
Rings of Blood Magic:
Considering who you are and what you're about, it almost seems silly not to do this quest. The Ring of Erudite I bypassed as the added magic / magic regen seemed to fly in the face of the purpose of this build, however the added Health of the Ring of the Beast is a welcome addition, and what kind of Blood Mage would not want a ring of Blood Magic!
With Blood Magic now a go, venture forth to save the empire from the Stormcloaks. Make sure to kill wandering bands of Stormcloaks wherever you find them. And always kill those wandering Thalmor, they don’t deserve to draw breath!
A means to further your research into death. And, after saving the Empire from the Stormcloaks, you now get to exact vengeance on the Empire for exiling you!
Do this at your own pace, it’s not essential, but I did a little bit here and there as I worked through the above.
Discerning the Transmundane:
This quest gives you a new insight into the blood of mer and the potential power therein. More samples will be required for further study.
Any other quests are at your own discretion.
This is an organic playthrough, no crafting at all, so I more or less ran with what I could find. That being said, here are some things that I used in my run through.
Arch-Mage Robes: They don’t look overly fantastic, but they have a very nice enchantment on them. By reducing the costs of all magic, you get more bang for your buck on equilibrium. If you play in First Person Mode, and/or can stand to look at them, they're a nice pick up from a questline you're doing anyway. If you'd rather not, find a nice looking robe with either Fortify Destruction and/or Illusion. Since this character hates Thalmor, I bypassed those robes altogether.
Aetherial Crown: For storing either the Ritual Stone or the Atronach Stone
Diadem of the Savant - More Cost reduction here, and Froki’s Shack isn’t too far to run for this. Still, if you’d rather not use this bug, Fortify Destruction / Conjuration / Restoration on the head would be a nice touch. Other options include the Dragon Priest Masks. Specifically Nahkriin, or Vokun would be a nice fit. Any of these will work well opposite the Aetherial Crown.
Ring of the Beast - It's 100 Health, which you sorely need. The additional damage is negligible as you really shouldn't be spending much time in melee. However, the fact that this is one of the Rings of Blood Magic makes it a de facto piece of equipment. If you don't have access to dawnguard, any ring with Health and/or Health Regen should be fine.
Amulet of Talos - Having those emergency buttons faster is never a bad thing.
Health Regen - Yes you’ve got Close Wounds, but having a lot of this while under Ethereal can really help.
Fortify Health - The larger pool of health you have to draw from, the less likely you’ll be to die while casting.
Fort Conjuration / Destruction / Illusion / Restoration - More Magic cost reduction means more spells per Equilibrium use. If you have the choice, go for Either Destruction or Illusion, as those are the two you’ll be using most frequently.
This character's lust for power through her research as her main driver was new for me, as well as letting the emotions guide her was different for me. It was an interesting play through, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully this wasn't too tedious a read. Any pointers and/or comments are welcome.