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Character Build: The Ebon Scourge

Tags: #Character Build Juggernaut  #Character Build Blacksmith  #Character Build Elementalist  #Rank:Recognized 
  • Member
    July 5, 2012

    This started out as at least two or three different concepts, then somehow melded into a single one. One of the main ideas was to explore damage over time (DoT), often neglected in favor of raw power. But no one ever said anything about multiple sources of DoT, which is what the build does. Regretfully, I don't have much in the way of lore for this one. I was thinking of elemental forces gaining sentience and needing armor that "contained" their elemental bodies but I'm unsure of how that fits TES. I guess a more generic evil-doer template will do :/

    Overlord, by Jason Engle


    The Scourge is about dealing DoT in combat, whether passively or actively. Thanks to Perks, equipment and abilities (and your choice of race – more on this later), it becomes versatile enough for the player to experiment with without sacrificing his or her combat and spell casting. The focus is on close quarter damage and attrition, pummeling enemies while slowly corroding others in the vicinity, and the Fire element greatly helps in this.

    The Ebon Scourge Build

    Races: Orc or Breton. Orcs have access to Berserker Rage, which has great synergy with the Elemental Fury Shout. While there's no shortage of good Heavy Armor early on, they also have free access to Orc Strongholds, and Malacath's quest right at the start.

    Breton's Dragonskin racial ability gives 50% spell absorption, giving you the base Magicka cost of the original spell cast at you. And as you know, most powers in the game – shouts, poisons, etc. – can be absorbed.

    Stone: Atronach, Apprentice or Lord. Atronach's 50 points to magicka and 50% to spell absorption is one of the most useful abilities in TES, and making up for the 50% penalty to regen is almost child's play.

    The Apprentice Stone, however, doubles magicka regeneration at the expense of 100% weakness to it. I've seen it being even more dismissed than Two-Weapon expertise Perks, which is saying something. Enchanting gear with 100% magicka regeneration solves the issue, though double the regen for the chance to die unexpectedly against higher level mages might be a steep price for some.

    Finally, the Lord's +50 Armor and 25% magic resistance is a good in-between. A good bonus without drawbacks or the need to supplement its weaknesses.

    Main Skills:

    Two-Handed:With Battleaxes, and three points into Limbsplitter, we begin our first step into the joyous world of damage over time with its bleeding effect. I also chose Battleaxes because, while slower than Greatswords, they're faster than Warhammers (if one disregards The Longhammer, of course).

    Heavy Armor:As the name suggests, there's ebony afoot and the Scourge makes use of it. Specifically, the Ebony Mail not only Muffles users, its poisonous area of effect (5 poison points per second) is actually larger than it seems at first and activates during combat, not just when sneaking.

    Destruction:Flames of nearly all kinds, but above all Flame Cloak. Fire damage on contact *and* over time (a percentage on hit, plus the remaining over a set number of seconds), and Dual Casting extends the range.

    Alteration:Mainly for the Atronach and Magic Resistance Perks. However, Transmute doubles as a skill increase and source of income (and Jewelery provides enchantment pieces), Equilibrium converts health into magicka, and Dragonhide negates 80% of all physical damage for thirty seconds. Not totally useless!

    Secondary Skills:

    Smithing:When acquiring the Ebony Mail, players will get the remaining armor pieces – Smithing is primarily for this case, as it lets you improve the quality of each piece. Both Perks should be acquired at level 30 or before, but not much later, since that's when Boethia's quest and Ebony Ingots from vendors become available.

    Enchanting:Depending on your starting Stone, and the degree to which you want to take DoT, it might be wise to invest in Destruction cost reduction, magicka regen and assorted Fire enchantments on your weapons. Plus, weapon recharging.

    Restoration:The usual "pick me up" during and between combat, but mostly to negate the effects of either Stones through the Recovery Perk.

    Minor Skills:

    Illusion:Mainly for the Aspect of Terror Perk. I did say it was minor, after all.

    Alchemy:During the first test run of this build, I used an Orc for the Berserker Rage + Elemental Fury combo. Since enchanted weapons do not benefit from the Shout, I carried a spare unenchanted Ebony Battleaxe. Note that, while enchanted weapons do not benefit from Elemental Fury, poisoned weapons do. In this case, Weakness to Fire or Weakness to Poison further improved the damage ratio of the character when he used Flame Cloaks and the Ebony Mail after a single, poisoned strike. Still, it's more of an optional path if you have Perks and time to spare.

    Any other race does not benefit from the synergy, though.

    Speech:I so very wanted to suggest Intimidate, but the Speech skill tree in Skyrim is on a "u mad bro?" scale. Only recommended for role-playing purposes, really.

    Block:Actually... I dabbled in it with this build, for the purposes of disarming. If you manage to disarm several enemies while DoT effects are active, the result is seeing them waste time going for their weapons while receiving damage. Highly situational but fun.

    Spells, Shouts, Equipment

    Destruction: Flames, Firebolt, Fire Rune, Fireball, Flame Cloak, Incinerate, Wall of Flames, Firestorm. The whole BBQ. Each has different uses, further discussed below in Special Abilities.

    Alteration: Dragonhide, Equilibrium.

    Restoration: Healing and Fast Healing are usually good enough for this build.

    Fire Breath, Become Ethereal, Elemental Fury, Marked for Death, Slow Time, Unrelenting Force. Also, those with Dawnguard might consider Drain Vitality (not having played the DLC yet, I'm not aware of how to get it or the circumstances, though).

    Either highly variable or very specific. As stated before, an Ebony Set. This might be a good time to explain why I went with Ebony. In terms of armor, the Ebony Mail fits the demands of the build and all other armor pieces are aesthetically pleasing – plus, they are far more accessible to those not wanting to go after Daedra Hearts. Daedric Weapons are also less likely to appear in the world, and Daedric equipment in general is pretty heavy. This build does not consider taking Conditioned, as least initially, so as to focus on more necessary Perks early on.

    I should also add that the build does not consider the Matching Set Perk, since Ebony Mail isn't counted as Heavy Armor by the game. Because of this, I'd suggest going with the Dragon Priest mask Nahkriin (found on Skulfdan, grants +50 Magicka, -20% Restoration and Destruction Magicka cost; it fits the build surprisingly well). Alternatively, take Morokei instead (found on Labyrinthian, grants +100% Magicka Regeneration) but remember it's Light Armor and is only meant to be taken if you're really suffering with Stone penalties.

    In terms of weapons, there are three or four worth considering.

    1) To fit in with the theme, I almost always use the Drainblood Battleaxe. While it can't be improved, it has a good damage-to-weight ratio and drains 15 points of health.

    2) Also, the Wuuthrad, because its effect (deadly to Elves) does not count as an enchantment (and it can be enchanted again, twice with Extra Effect, while retaining the original effect). Only downside is that it's situational, being more suited to quests like Missing in Action and Diplomatic Immunity.

    3) The Rueful Axe, better used with Slow Time to recover Stamina without much danger to yourself. And more stamina means more Power Attacks.

    4) Finally an unenchanted, but upgraded, Ebony Battleaxe to take advantage of Elemental Fury and Berserker Rage (if an Orc), or just the Shout instead.

    For weapon enchantments I suggest health/magicka/stamina Drain, Fire damage and/or Paralysis. For armor enchantments, Magicka regen, Fortify Destruction and Alteration and Spell Cost reduction are the best choices.

    Perk Distribution

    Here's a list of Perks throughout the build's levels. Note that I did my best to suggest Perk placement that benefits the player in various stages of gameplay, but as usual, it's not perfect – other skills eventually get in the way. It's possible some will be attained earlier or later because of this. Also, note that Skills like Restoration and Smithing will stop getting Perks but will still be actively used during gameplay, meaning they contribute to level ups.

    Levels 1 to 20:

    Two-Handed – Barbarian 1, Barbarian 2, Limbsplitter, Champion's Stance
    Heavy Armor – Juggernaut 1, Well Fitted
    Destruction – Novice Destruction, Apprentice Destruction
    Alteration – Novice Alteration, Apprentice Alteration, Magic Resistance 1
    Smithing – Steel Smithing, Dwarven Smithing
    Enchanting – Enchanter 1
    Restoration – Novice Restoration, Recovery 1, Respite
    Illusion – Novice Illusion, Hypnotic Gaze

    Magicka: 170 – Health: 150 – Stamina: 170

    Levels 21 to 40:

    Two-Handed – Devastating Blow
    Heavy Armor – Tower of Strength
    Destruction – Dual Casting, Augmented Flames 1, Augmented Flames 2
    Alteration – Magic Resistance 2, Adept Alteration, Magic Resistance 3, Expert Alteration,
    Smithing – Arcane Blacksmith, Orcish Smithing, Ebony Smithing
    Enchanting – Insightful Enchanter, Corpus Enchanter
    Restoration – Recovery 2, Regeneration, Apprentice Restoration
    Illusion – Aspect of Terror

    *Get Alteration to 90 for the Alteration Ritual Spell Quest, then advance enough to get

    Magicka: 240 – Health: 210 – Stamina: 240

    Levels 41 to 53:

    Two-Handed – Limbsplitter 2, Sweep, Limbsplitter 3
    Heavy Armor – Juggernaut 2, Juggernaut 3
    Destruction – Adept Destruction, Expert Destruction, Master Destruction**
    Alteration – Master Alteration***
    Smithing – none
    Enchanting – Fire Enchanter, Extra Effect, Enchanter 2, Enchanter 3
    Restoration – none
    Illusion – none

    **Get Destruction to 90 for the Destruction Ritual Spell Quest, then advance enough to get
    ***To reduce Dragonhide's cost.

    Magicka: 280 – Health: 260 – Stamina: 280

    Note: Since Smithing, Restoration and Illusion will gradually stop growing, consider alternatives such as Block (two-handed weapons aren't as good as shields, but still provide some utility: Shield Wall 1, Power Bash, Deadly Bash, Disarming Bash) and Alchemy (continuing from the previous example to poison enemies with Fire and Poison weaknesses: Alchemist 1, Alchemy 2, Alchemy 3, Physician, Poisoner). If you feel like taking Poison Perks, consider using them with the Two-Handed Sweep. A single poison effect can hit multiple enemies in front of you with a single sweeping attack, leaving more than one target vulnerable to an effect of your choice. Otherwise, consider just taking Warmaster to paralyze targets instead of poisoning them.

    Special Abilities

    Relentless Grudge (Orc only)
    Berserker Rage + Elemental Fury

    Igneous Curse
    Marked for Death + Fire Ball or Fire Storm

    Poison Fang
    Poison weapon (Weakness to Poison) + Sweep + Charge into battle with the Ebony Mail

    Charring Fang
    Poison weapon (Weakness to Fire) + Sweep + Charge into battle with Flame Cloak

    Ebon Blaze
    Dual cast a circle Flame Wall around you + Dual cast Flames + Rotate 360º in place

    Ebon Pyre
    Dual cast a circle Flame Wall around you + Slow Time + Dual cast Flames + Rotate 360º in place

    Gangrenous Cloak
    Charge into battle with Ebony Mail and Flame Cloak active

    Vicious Duel
    Dual Cast Flames to stagger single target + Slow Time + Power Attack

    Creeping Flames
    Dual cast a circle Flame Wall around you + Slow Time + Cast or dual cast Flames

    Creeping Burst
    Dual cast a circle Flame Wall around you + Slow Time + Cast Firebolts/Incinerate

    Creeping Conflagration
    Dual cast a circle Flame Wall around you + Slow Time + Fire Storm

    Devious Inferno
    Dual cast a circle Flame Wall around you + Fire Storm + Become Ethereal

    Corrosive Sanctuary
    Have Ebony Mail and Flame Cloak active + Become Ethereal + Recover health

    Dual cast Flames or Flame Wall over the ground + Become Ethereal + draw enemies into the burning area
    Situational: draw enemies near flammable pools in dungeons, burn the pools and become ethereal

    Poison Lunge
    Poison weapon (Weakness to Poison) + Dual Cast Flames (or) Shout Fus to stagger + Running Power Attack

    Bladed Pyre
    Poison weapon (Weakness to Fire) + Attack + Shout Fus + Fire Rune
    Situational: Shout Fus Ro or Fus Ro Dah to create a greater distance and thus cast more Runes

    Corrosive Feast (requires Drainblood Battleaxe, The Rueful Axe or any other Health/Magicka/Stamina draining weapon)
    Slow Time + Simple attacks

    Tower of Thorns (aka, They See me Rollin', They Hatin')
    Dragonhide + Ebony Mail + An active Flame Cloak

    I could go on but this is getting too big already :(

    Final Comments

    A variation of this build could be made to focus on dual-wielding war axes – twice the bleeding (and maybe poisoning) but loses out on any kind of blocking defense, and requires Dual Flurry. Another variation, courtesy of Specter in the comments for reminding me, is to drop Two-Handed, go One-Handed and Block, and use a War Axe (still has a bleed effect) and the Targe of the Blooded (bleeding damage for 5 seconds, and it stacks).

    To do: revise Perk placement (can probably optimize it further) and add pictures (as soon as possible, promise).Pictures added, click on them for full size. My PC isn't the best so apologies for the quality of some of them :/

    Other builds by me:
      Dungeon Runner- Avenger DruidBlight Priest – Moonblade

  • July 5, 2012
    Surprised you didn't use the war axe- Targe of the Blooded, the shield does 3 points of damage for five seconds on bash AND it's stackable bleeds.
  • Member
    July 5, 2012

    Hi Spectre, thanks for dropping by. It's true - I forgot about the Targe, even after several playthroughs with it. I'll add the suggestion to the build, many thanks!

  • July 5, 2012
    No problem, very well put together build! +1
  • Member
    July 5, 2012

    Thank you

    Also: some pictures added. Since my PC isn't the best, the quality isn't super but I think they do the job.

  • July 23, 2012

    Another build with my +1 zulfir, love the special moves, I keep forgetting to add moves

  • Member
    July 23, 2012

    Thanks, Simon!

    Special abilities are always a nice touch but sometimes one can go overboard. I think I placed too many in this build, and not enough in others. I tried working on that with the Moonblade - very few of them, but they highlighted the best and/or most useful of the build.