Character Build: The Skin Walker

Skyrim Character Build: The Skin Walker


This build was inspired by the traditional Navajo legend of the Skin Walker. These mysterious shape-shifters are so feared by the Navajo, even today, that they are rarely discussed with outsiders. While various interpretations of the legends exist, and many have been intermingled with Western stories such as that of the werewolf, a few core elements remain consistent. Skin Walkers are, or at least once were, regular humans. They began as magically-gifted men or women, who served as the tribe’s healer, shaman, or medicine man. At some point, they are possessed by something evil, be it greed, vengeance, or an evil spirit, and they begin to use their magic to inflict curses and tamper with the laws of nature. For their evil deeds, they are banished from the tribe and flee into the wilderness. Their greatest ability is that they can transform, willingly or otherwise, into large, supernatural beasts, usually in the form of either an owl, coyote, or a wolf. While in their beastial form, they are practically invincible, and are consumed by bloodlust. They can only be harmed by silver weapons and white ash.

While this build may not be perfectly accurate to the Navajo legend, I wanted to do it justice by integrating it tastefully with the world of Skyrim. The Forsworn are obviously inspired at least in part by Native Americans (as well as ancient Celtic tribes), and their reverence of the Old Gods presents the perfect opportunity to create a dark, sinister shape-shifting witch/shaman build with a terrifying aesthetic, thrilling gameplay, and an adapted backstory that fits seamlessly into the lore of the Elder Scrolls franchise.



Born and raised as a native of the Reach, the young Breton had a relatively normal upbringing in a small village in the Dragontail Mountains. When they were just a child, they discovered that they had a talent for Restoration magic, and, as was customary, they began to train to take the place of the aging village healer. However, when fighting broke out in the nearby city of Markarth, all local healers were called on to tend to the wounded. The young Breton traveled to Markarth and witnessed the Forsworn Uprising firsthand. While the fighting was brutal, and it certainly left an impression on the young Breton, they also came to understand and eventually support the Reachmen’s cause, learning of their own heritage in the process. 

Following the Forsworn’s victory in Markarth, the region enjoyed several years of relative peace under their rule, and the Breton became accustomed to the new regime and decided to stay in the city, continuing to develop their abilities as a healer. However, this all came to an end in 4E 175, when a Nord army, under the leadership of Ulfric Stormcloak, laid siege to the city on behalf of the Empire. The young Breton witnessed unspeakable atrocities carried out against their people, and was nearly killed by the Nords for simply tending to the wounded. When the city finally fell, the young Breton fled into the hills and became a member of the Forsworn, determined to free the Reach from the tyranny of both the Empire and the Nords. 

For years, the Breton served the Forsworn as a healer, and at times as a fighter, proving half-decent with a blade. However, as time dragged on, the Breton watched as the once proud Forsworn, now leaderless and without structure, gradually devolved into little more than primitive bandits. Determined to reverse their misfortunes, the Breton dove deep into the history of the Reach, the Old Gods, and the dark magics that their people had once been able to wield against their enemies. They became obsessed, and soon the noble goal of freeing the Reach gave way to pure lust for power and revenge. Determined to learn more of these deep magics, the Breton, who now bears the traditional Reachmen title of Skin Walker, decides to seek out the Old Gods in an effort to rediscover these powers and use them to exact revenge upon all who have wronged them and their people across the Reach.

Start (Vanilla): While traveling in the mountains, the Skin Walker stumbles upon a skirmish between the Stormcloaks and Imperials and, dressed in the traditional furs and hides of the Forsworn, is mistaken for a Stormcloak and sentenced to execution in Helgen.

Start (Alternate Start): As a member of the Forsworn, the Skin Walker leaves the safety of Druadach Redoubt to begin their quest to seek out the Old Gods.



Having been made brutal and ruthless by years spent living with the savage Forsworn, the Skin Walker cares little for the lives of others. They will manipulate and kill anyone who gets in their way, including other Forsworn, even. Though the Skin Walker generally will not attack innocents without reason (at least in human form), any guards, Stormcloaks, Imperials, and Thalmor encountered within the Reach should be attacked ruthlessly and without exception. While this may incur a sizable bounty on their head, the Skin Walker does not care, as they do not recognize the rule of the Empire or Stormcloaks within the Reach. The only thing the Skin Walker cares about is the acquisition of ancient and dark powers, freeing the Reach, and worshiping the Old Gods:

Hircine: Lord of the Hunt. The Beast Father. The Skin Shaper. 

Worshiped by the Reachmen as the embodiment of the physical world, he tests his people every day with the brutal realities of life. While his lessons may be cruel and his domain may be unforgiving, he also rewards those who rise to the challenge, and the Reachmen revere him as a fatherly figure. The Skin Walker will worship Hircine through grateful acceptance of his gift of Lycanthropy, wearing the Savior’s Hide, and hunting their prey in his name.

Namira: Lady of Decay. The Spirit Queen. The Ancient Darkness. 

Worshiped by the Reachmen as the embodiment of the spirit, she gives and takes life, as is the fate of all mortals. While she may be cold and unforgiving, Namira ensures that the spirit takes its proper place in the world, and the Reachment revere her as a motherly figure. The Skin Walker will worship Namira through the practicing of Cannibalism, by wearing Namira’s Ring, and by eagerly sending the spirits of their foes back to the Spirit Mother.

Peryite: Lord of Order. The Plague Maker. The Pitiless March of Time. 

Worshiped by the Reachmen as the embodiment of cycles and balance, he ensures that order is maintained and change is constant in the mortal world. While his afflictions of disease and pestilence may be unpleasant, they ensure that the weak and old die off, leaving space for the young and strong to take their place. The Skin Walker will worship Peryite through the usage of time-themed magic such as the Paralysis spells and the Slow Time shout, as well as through mastering Peryite’s afflictions through poison resistance, disease immunity, and use of the Poison Rune spell.

Molag Bal: Lord of Domination. The Father of Torment.

 Worshiped by the Reachmen as the embodiment of pain and suffering, he teaches them that life is short and cruel, and that in order to survive, they must be willing to endure hardship and dominate their enemies. The Skin Walker will worship Molag Bal by completing his quest, inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering upon their victims through various Illusion spells, and by trapping souls with Soul Tear shout.

Mehrunes Dagon: Lord of Ambition. The God of Revolution. The Destroyer. 

Worshiped by the Reachmen as the embodiment of power, he inspires them to overthrow their oppressors and regain control of their land. The Skin Walker will worship Mehrunes Dagon by gratefully accepting and wielding his Razor and by relentlessly waging war on their oppressors.

Malacath: Lord of Ash and Bone. The God of Tests. The Outcast. 

Worshiped by the Reachmen as the embodiment of challenges, he tests his true people by subjecting them to scorn from the rest of the world and by sending all manner of beasts and monstrosities their way. The Skin Walker will worship Malacath by completing his quest, never backing down from a challenge, and by utilizing their supernatural strength in unarmed combat when necessary.


Standing Stone, Stat Allocation, and Skills

Standing Stone: Atronach Stone or Lord Stone

Stat Spread: 1/3 Health, 2/3 Magicka

Alteration: Representing the Skin Walker’s mastery of ancient, dark magics that allow them to alter the fabric of time and the laws of nature. Take all perks except for Dual-Casting and Mage Armor. Spells used include the Magic Flesh spells, Magelight, Detect Life and Dead, Paralyze and Mass Paralysis.

Illusion: Representing the Skin Walker’s ability to hypnotize, terrorize, and confuse their foes. Take all perks in the skill tree. Spells used include Frenzy, Rout, and Invisibility.

Restoration: Representing the Skin Walker’s past as a healer, their unnatural magical invulnerability and immortality, and their connection to Peryite’s realm of disease. Take the Novice through Adept Restoration, Regeneration, Respite, and both ranks of Recovery perks. Spells used include basic healing spells and Poison Rune.

Sneak: Representing the Skin Walker’s ability to hide amongst the shadows and stalk their prey undetected. Take all perks in the perk tree and utilize stealth as frequently as possible.

One-Handed: Representing the Skin Walker’s superhuman strength and speed, granted to them by dark magics. Take all 5 ranks of Armsman and the Fighting Stance perk.


Main Shouts

Aura Whisper: Detect your enemies through terrain while remaining undetected.

Dismay: Send your enemies fleeing in terror; most useful when being overwhelmed.

Drain Vitality / Marked For Death: Curse your enemies, weakening them over time.

Slow Time: Mastery of ancient, unnatural magics allows you to bend space and time.

Soul Tear: A dark incantation that rips the flesh and enslaves the soul of your opponent.

Throw Voice: Send forth an auditory illusion to confuse and deceive your prey.


Weapons and Gear

Mehrunes’ Razor: This wicked Daedric artifact, blessed by Mehrunes Dagon himself, makes for the perfect sacrificial blade for a Skin Walker.

Staves: The Eye of Melka, the Staff of Jyrik Gauldurson, the Staff of Magnus, and the Staff of Paralysis can be used to engage enemies at range or regain the upper hand when caught by surprise.

Helmet of the Old Gods: An ancient headdress blessed by the Old Gods that grants its wearer an additional 30 points of magicka.

Savior’s Hide: A gift from Hircine, this otherworldly cuirass blessed by the Lord of the Hunt protects its wearer from 15% of magic damage and 50% of poison damage.

Gloves of the Pugilist: A pair of otherwise ordinary fur gauntlets, they seem to accentuate the Skin Walker’s superhuman strength, even in human form, granting them an additional 10 unarmed damage.

Boots of the Old Gods: An ancient pair of boots blessed by the Old Gods that grants their wearer an additional 20% sneaking ability.

Gauldur Amulet: An amulet once belonging to the cursed Gauldurson Brothers, its powerful enchantment grants its wearer an additional 30 points of Health, Magicka, and Stamina.

Ring of Namira: A gift from Namira, this dark and twisted ring grants its wearer an additional 50 points of stamina, as well as the sinister ability to consume mortal flesh.

Frostmoon Pack Rings: a collection of rings blessed by Hircine, they grant their wearer a variety of additional abilities while in Beast Form.

Ring of Hircine: Another gift from Hircine, this ring hums with primal power, granting its wearer the ability to control their beast form transformations, multiple times per day (only obtainable in addition to the Savior’s Hide for those without the Skyrim Unofficial Patch).


General Gameplay

Combat (When Hidden): The Skin Walker is primarily an Arcane Assassin, utilizing a combination of Sneak, silent Alteration and Illusion spells, and Mehrune’s Razor to quietly dispatch most foes. Hidden enemies can be located with Detect Life and Detect Dead, and more challenging opponents can be Paralyzed or weakened with the Namira’s Embrace or Skin Walker’s Curse special moves. 

Combat (Open, Melee): The Skin Walker shape-shifts into an enhanced Beast Form, utilizing the Aspect of Hircine special move to initiate open combat with a devastating barrage of slashes and bites. The Howl of Terror can be used to disperse weaker enemies in difficult battles.

Combat (Open, Ranged): When remaining hidden or utilizing Beast Form is not an option, the Skin Walker can fall back on a variety of enchanted staves to deal with opponents at a distance. When fighting multiple enemies, a wide variety of Illusion spells can also be used to cause them to either flee or turn on eachother. In large battles, try to utilize the Peryite’s Plague special move.


Special Moves

Aspect of Hircine: Dragonhide + Dragonskin + Beast Form: having fully mastered the blessing of Lycanthropy, you become the ultimate skin walker, almost completely unkillable thanks to your absurdly high damage resistances, excluding your weakness to silver.

Namira’s Embrace: Invisibility + Soul Tear: you rip the soul from your opponent’s body and send it back to the Spirit Mother. If killed, your opponent is reanimated and fights for you.

Peryite’s Plague: Slow Time + Paralysis / Mass Paralysis + Poison Rune stacking: through true mastery of ancient time magic, the Skin Walker is able to bend time to their will, slowing and then completely freezing their opponents in time before withering them away with a rapidly wasting plague.

Skin Walker’s Curse: Quiet Casting + Marked For Death / Drain Vitality: the Skin Walker remains hidden and weakens their prey with a withering curse, rendering them susceptible to a killing blow.

Arcane Anomaly: Quiet Casting + Mage Light + Throw Voice: the Skin Walker sends forth a mysterious orb of light, followed by an unsettling noise to distract or lure in their prey.


Followers (Optional)

Eola is really the only fitting companion for the Skin Walker. As a talented witch, skilled nightblade, and devout worshiper of Namira, she perfectly fits both with the gameplay and role play of the Skin Walker. She can also serve as the Skin Walker’s steward, should they build a Hearthfire home.



Druadach Redoubt: Following the Madanach’s escape from Cidhna Mine, Druadach Redoubt serves as the new home base for the new Forsworn. Regardless of whether you started your play-through here (with Alternate Start), the Skin Walker will stop back here frequently to check in with their Forsworn comrades, retelling of their encounters with the Old Gods.

Hearthfire: Any of the three Hearthfire homes are fitting for the Skin Walker, from the dense forests of Falkreath, to the foggy swamps of Eastmarch, to the desolate wastes of the Pale.


Factions and Primary Quests

The Forsworn Conspiracy / No One Escapes Cidhna Mine: The very first priority for the Skin Walker, this is a huge step in returning the Forsworn to their former glory. It also enables Druadach Redoubt as a home base and grants the powerful Armor of the Old Gods set. Critically, during this quest, do not question Nepos the Nose, as this will turn him hostile and you will be forced to kill fellow Forsworn. Additionally, do not question Thonar Silver-Blood, as you will also be forced to kill Forsworn. Instead, simply pickpocket Thonar’s journal from his inventory to progress the quest, which will skip past both of the other objectives and will allow you to leave the Forsworn agents throughout the city alive.

Retake the Reach: with Lawbringer (or a similar mod), you can clear out various bandit and faction camps throughout the Reach and reclaim them in the name of the Forsworn. Friendly Forsworn tribesmen will take the location over permanently, allowing your conquest to retake the Reach to bear real and visible results. Do not start doing this until after completing No One Escapes Cidhna Mine.

Quests of the Old Gods: The Daedric quests of Hircine (Ill Met By Moonlight), Namira (The Taste of Death), Peryite (The Only Cure), Molag Bal (The House of Horrors), Mehrunes Dagon (Pieces of the Past), and Malacath (The Cursed Tribe) are all priority quests for the Skin Walker. The Skin Walker will gladly obey the wishes of the Old Gods without question, and will seek to learn everything that they can from them during their interactions. While not all of their gifts will be used, they will be jealously guarded by the Skin Walker and possibly put on display in their Hearthfire home.

Companions: as soon as the Skin Walker first meets members of the Companions, they can detect the blessing of Hircine within them. Wanting to learn more of their pact with the Lord of the Hunt, the Skin Walker joins the Companions and soon contracts lycanthropy from the Circle. The Skin Walker will gladly help Aela hunt down and slaughter the Silver Hand, as they disrespect Hircine with their rejection of his blessing.. However, once the Skin Walker is tasked with killing the Glenmoril Witches, they will abandon the faction and never return.

The College of Winterhold: seeking to learn more about ancient magical forces and the Old Gods, the Skin Walker joins the College of Winterhold. They quickly progress through the main quest line, eventually coming into contact with Hermeas Mora. Though not worshiped as an Old God himself, his knowledge and power could prove crucial to the Skin Walker. The Skin Walker will also pursue mastery of various schools of magic while at the College.

Main Quest: eventually, the Skin Walker learns of their identity as Dragonborn. Believing it to be a gift from the Old Gods, not Akatosh, the Skin Walker will pursue the main quest line in order to hunt down the ultimate prey, dragons, and send their souls back to the Spirit Mother. Learning shouts, specifically those that further enhance the Skin Walker’s ability to destroy their enemies while remaining undetected, serve as motivation to seek out word walls and explore ancient Nordic crypts. 

Dawnguard: wanting to learn more about Molag Bal’s blessing, Vampirism, the Skin Walker volunteers to venture to Dimhollow Crypt to find out what the vampires were looking for there. Upon rescuing Serana and returning her to the Volkihar clan, the Skin Walker is angered by Harkon’s dismissiveness of Hircine’s blessing of Lycanthropy, and denies his offer to become a vampire. From that point onward, the Skin Walker will pursue the Dawnguard questline not only to acquire knowledge of Molag Bal, but as a means of exacting revenge on the vampires who dared to insult Lord Hircine.

Dragonborn (Optional): Though not particularly interested in the history of the Dragonborn and the Dragon Cult, the Skin Walker may choose to hunt down and destroy Miraak for attempting to kill them. In the process, the Skin Walker may become much more familiar with Hermeas Mora, and may come to understanding with him, as a fellow seeker of ancient and powerful knowledge.

Dark Brotherhood (Optional): though not a traditional assassin, and by no means a worshiper of Sithis, the Skin Walker may still choose to join the Dark Brotherhood as a means of further honing their skills of stalking and killing. It is also the only way to gain access to the full Marked For Death shout.


Secondary Quests

Forbidden Legend: Upon learning of the Gaulderson brothers in Saarthal, the Skin Walker will track down the other pieces of the amulet and attempt to reforge it in Reachwater Rock.

The Legend of Red Eagle: Having learned of Faolan the Red Eagle while reading through the history of the Reach, the Skin Walker seeks out the fallen king’s crypt in an attempt to learn the secrets of how he channeled the magic of the Old Gods during his legendary Battle of the Sundered Hills.

The Affairs of Hagravens: While exploring the Reach, the Skin Walker will come across Blind Cliff Cave and the imprisoned Hagraven, Melka. The Skin Walker will help her retake control of her tower in exchange for a powerful unique staff.

Snapleg Cave Coven: While in Ivarstead, the Skin Walker hears of a coven of Hagravens in Snapleg Cave. Wanting to learn more, the Skin Walker enters the cave, but is attacked by the members of the coven. Forced to either kill or pacify the occupants, the Skin Walker at least gets a useful Staff of Paralysis out of the whole affair. 

Discerning the Transmundane: While completing quests for the College of Winterhold, the Skin Walker will encounter Hermeas Mora, the Daedric prince of Knowledge. Though not considered one of the Old Gods himself, his knowledge of them and their powers could prove invaluable. For that reason, the Skin Walker will obey his wishes without question.

Telvanni Research: Upon hearing of the arcane prowess of the Telvanni wizard, Neloth, the Skin Walker will seek out the wizard in hopes of learning from him. After helping him complete a few tasks and gaining access to a Black Book, the Skin Walker will realize that he does not know much of the Old Gods, and will not pursue further instructions from him.

Black Book Quests: Having already met Hermeas Mora prior, and benefiting greatly from his knowledge, the Skin Walker will seek out all of Hermeas Mora’s Black Books throughout Solstheim, seeking to gain further understanding of ancient, dark magics. The Skin Walker will acquire the following Black Book Powers: Secret of Arcana, Mora’s Boon, Seeker of Sorcery, Scholar’s Insight (or Companion’s Insight, if using a follower). 

Frostmoon Pack: While exploring Solstheim, the Skin Walker will come across the Frostmoon Crag werewolf pack. As fellow worshippers of Hircine, the Skin Walker shall not harm them, and may seek to purchase their rare and valuable blessed rings, which grant additional abilities to lycanthropes.


Recommended Mods

Alternate Start: required in order to start the game as a member of the Forsworn.

Growl - Werebeasts of Skyrim: a light-weight but essential overhaul of werewolves.

Lawbringer: allows you to retake many locations throughout the Reach in the name for the Forsworn.

You need to be a member of THE SKY FORGE to add comments!


Email me when people reply –


  • Awesome work re-capturing the Skin Walker, Molag. Hope to see more builds from you in the future!

  • Oh i love this so creepy. Great work ballin

This reply was deleted.