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Character Build: The Champion of Hermaeus Mora

Tags: #Character Build Shouts  #Character Build Battlemage  #Character Build Vampire  #Rank:Mythic  #Race:Altmer 
  • February 17, 2013


    The Dragonborn expansion pack introduced some really interesting and visually appealing equipment pieces. Among them, the gear used by the main villain Miraak stands out in uniqueness. But, even if aesthetically impressive, many players felt that the enchantments and design choices (like the gear having all different armor types and being non-temperable) were disappointing, including me.

    But after getting the gear myself and playing with it for a while, I started to get some build ideas to make it really viable. Well, to be honest, the steps I took can make pretty much any equipment choice viable, but there are some particular touches to it.

    So, I came up with the Champion of Hermaeus Mora, a power mad Altmer who found on Hermaeus the very best option on his quest for unlimited knowledge. With that character, you will seek knowledge and power wherever you can find it. You will search for the Elder Scrolls and the Black Books, and any other tomes of power in Tamriel. You will serve Daedra and Aedra alike, as they are only means to your ends. You will join organizations as diverse as the College of Winterhold and the Dark Brotherhood: all of them may have something to offer you. You will hesitate before no crime, for the kind of power you seek is above any of those petty mortal concerns. In combat, you will use your powerful Thu’um and the tools of Hermaeus Mora alike to destroy all who oppose you. 

    NOTE: This build uses the restoration potion/fortify shout trick for unlimited shouts I saw on a couple other builds: The Revakriid by EasilyRemember and The Voice by Emer Dareloth. Be sure to check them out, they are awesome! Furthermore, there are several tricks and inventive practices I describe here that I have read on forums and Wiki pages. It would be quite the work to find and reference all the original discoverers, so instead I just leave my thanks to the always ingenious Elder Scrolls community.



    The Champion of Hermaeus Mora


     "Power. As Miraak’s corrupted mask falls to the ground at the summit of Apocrypha, you feel the taste of the unlimited power waiting for you. Miraak must have felt the same, ages ago, but his mind was weak. What could you expect from men? No matter, you are different. After all, you are a pure blooded Altmer. All that forbidden knowledge was clearly just waiting for someone like you. Hermaeus Mora might have been able to deceive that pathetic excuse for a Dovahkiin, but he can never hope to outwit one such as you. Well, maybe you are being too harsh on Miraak. His mastery of the Thu’um was formidable, you have to admit. But if he managed to come that far, you will do better. Soon, your voice too will know no limits.



    You notice the ancient shifting eyes forming on the abhorrent sky above, and then you decide it’s time for a new master. Molag Bal granted you immortality through the pure-blooded Volkihar, but he is now useless. His gift will be much better spent on Apocrypha, learning all there is to learn. But before that time comes, there is still the matter of Alduin. Destroying all of Tamriel is such an inconvenient for your plans, you think as you don Miraak’s clothing and kneel before the formless mass of eyes and tentacles before you. There’s of course some pledging and quick formalities, but words are just words. As you get back on your feet and gaze, enthralled, at the curious patterns of movement of the tentacles on your new blade, you can almost swear that the old Herma-Mora is laughing as he fades back to the void."



    Race: Altmer Vampire.

    Essential Quests: Dragonborn’s main quest, College of Winterhold, Dark Brotherhood, Discerning the Transmundane.

    Standing Stone: The Mage Stone early on; Atronach and Steed are my favorite for later levels, but almost any can be used.

    Blessing: Talos

    Basic build:

    That includes just the most basic perks. You will probably also want to pick dual casting and a few other perks for other magic schools to make powerleveling easier. But, in the end, you will have a lot of points to play around with.

    Stat Allocation: 500 Magicka (will be very easy to achieve with your racial, Atronach stone, Miraak’s mask and ring enchant), about 400 Health, 300 stamina (leave the bulk of stamina for after you are satisfied with your magicka pool and survivability). Distribute any remaining points at will.






    --Necromage: 25% more powerful and 50% longer lasting spells/buffs/enchantments/perks for our vampire. IMPORTANT: it’s advisable to power level restoration and get Necromage as soon as possible, as the buff will also apply to some perks you pick up after getting it.



    --Dragonhide: As Miraak’s armor has all kinds of types and is non-upgradeable, the next best thing for damage mitigation is Dragonhide, which gives you 80% damage reduction. That amount of reduction is equivalent to the armor cap. The only issues are that the base duration is short (30 seconds), and the base magicka cost is very high (837). But, more on that on the next items.


    --Alteration Dual Casting, Stability: While most master level spells don’t benefit from Dual Casting, Dragonhide does: its duration will be increased by 220%. Adding the 50% increase from Stability, and the 30 seconds will become 99 seconds. Furthermore, the 50% increase from Necromage will bring Dragonhide to the final duration of 148 seconds. Alteration potions can make it last even longer, of course.

    --Master Alteration: Dual casting the Dragonhide spell will skyrocket its already high magicka cost to 2343 (280%). But, we can greatly reduce that number. According to the UESPwiki, the formula for magicka cost is: spell cost = base cost * skill multiplier * perk multiplier * equipment multiplier * dual cast multiplier. With the skill multiplier being 0.6 for level 100 skills. Therefore, with the master perk giving another 0.5 multiplier, the cost will be about 702 magicka. While it’s a very high number, we will bring it further down with equipment.

    One handed: All the perks that can be used for a single sword.

    Smithing, Enchanting and Alchemy: The sole use of smithing is to upgrade your sword, which requires the dwarven smithing and arcane smithing perks. That’s more than enough to powerlevel the skill, too. Enchanting and alchemy will be used for a sole (but very powerful) enchanted ring, and for potions.







    Miraak: +40-70 magicka, depending on the player’s level.

    Miraak’s Robes: +15% spell absorption. Chance on hit to spawn a tentacle explosion.

    Miraak’s Gloves: +5% spell absorption.

    Miraak’s Boots: +5% spell absorption.

    Miraak’s Sword: 12-16 base damage (depending on level), absorb 15 stamina enchant.

    Miraak’s Staff: Sprays writhing tentacles on the ground that stagger and poison foes that enter them.

    Amulet of Talos: Time between shouts is reduced 20%.

    Custom ring: 40%+ Fortify Alteration, 100+ Fortify Magicka. 



    Miraak’s mask and sword are the two items that can have different stats depending on the character’s level when they are acquired. There are different versions for levels 1-44, 45-59 and 60+. The only things that will change are the magicka values for the mask and the base damage for the sword. The magicka will only change 10 points per version on the heavy armor version, so it’s not a big deal. And any melee weapon can have absurd damage with enough fortify smithing. So, really, it’s up to how much power leveling you are willing to do before facing Miraak.

    As you will be playing as a necromage vampire with maxed alteration, spell absorption will be capped even without Miraak’s gear if you pick the Atronach stone. Without the stone, it will be close to 70%.

    While the amulet of Talos (and his blessing) is odd for an Altmer, they serve a higher purpose and are justifiable by his nondiscriminatory search for power and mastery of the Thu’um.

    You may have noticed the high numbers for the custom enchanted ring. These numbers are possible with some new tools introduced with the expansion, which allow a more powerful alchemy/enchanting cycle. Namely:

    Black Book: The Sallow Regent: At the end of this Black Book quest, you will be offered the choice between 3 buffs:

    --Seeker of Might - 10% more effective combat skills
    --Seeker of Sorcery - 10% reduction in cost of all spells, 10% improved enchanting
    --Seeker of Shadows - 10% more effective stealth abilities

    Where the first one will also give 10% improved smithing, and the last one will give 10% improved alchemy.

    Furthermore, the quest Unearthed will take you to the Kolbjorn Barrow, where you can get the Ahzidal armor set. The boots of the set, Ahzidal’s Boots of Waterwalking, give +10 enchanting when worn with the rest of the set. 




    1. Get the Seeker of Sorcery buff from the Black Book;
    2. Get Ahzidal's Genius from equipping the Ahzidal armor set;
    3. Drink your best Fortify Enchanting potion;
    4. Make Fortify Alchemy set (the 4 regular pieces, or 5 with the glitched Falmer/Penitus Oculatus helmets);
    5. Equip the new Alchemy Set;
    6. Get the Seeker of Shadow buff from the Black Book;
    7. Craft new Enchanting Potions;

    Repeat the steps if needed until you cap at 35% fortify alchemy on gear and 40% fortify enchanting for the potion, that considering 4 gear pieces, no resto potion loop, and before equipping it (it will display higher on your necromage). While you can make much stronger gear with resto potion loop and 5 equipment pieces, I would strongly advise against it, as it will make the game really, really broken.

    Depending on your choices, once equipped on your necromage, the ring created by this loop will have over 40% fortify alteration (43% and 47% are two values I’m sure of) and anywhere between 108-116 magicka.

    That amount of fortify alteration will bring the final cost of your Dragonhide to under 400 magicka.




    Before Miraak:

    You will start the game playing a basic Spellsword type of character. That means a sword on your main hand and various spells on your offhand, and the best armor you can find to keep you alive. The Mage Stone is your best choice early on. On low levels, spells like Oakflesh and Raise Zombie will give a lot of experience, so use them often. You can invest a bit on the various magic schools, but I advise against putting points on Conjuration, as the Spell Absorption levels you will have later on will make it useless.

    When you have made some gold, you can start powerleveling the crafting skills. You will need them (well, enchanting at least) to be able to powerlevel your magic schools. I described the techniques I used for that a little further down on the guide.

    Then, at some point while or after you powerlevel, you must go to Solstheim to get your gear. I advise on focusing on the main quest, so you will have more to do later when the build is complete.



    After Miraak (Tentacles and Thu’um!):

    Now you will be able to play the build as it’s meant to be played.


    As you will probably be spell absorption capped, mages and dragons will be no problem. The exception is if you decided not to use the Atronach stone and your vampirism level is high. That will make some fire spells pretty deadly. So, pick the 3 magic resistance points from the Alteration tree and be careful.

    Melee combat requires Dragonhide. Dual cast it before engaging the enemy, and be careful with the timer. If you find yourself with no magicka and without dragonhide for some reason, there are a few “oh crap” features you can use:

    --Bones of the Earth effect from the Earth Stone in Solstheim gives you 80% damage reduction for 30 seconds, then must be reacquired at the stone;
    --Mora’s Boon from the Hidden Twilight Black Book restores all your Magicka, Health and Stamina;
    --Secret of Arcana from the Filament and Filigree Black Book makes all your spells cost nothing for 30 seconds, so you can cast Dragonhide.
    --Avoid Death from the Restoration tree restores 270 health points, once a day, if you fall below 10% health.



    Use Miraak’s Sword and his Staff all the time. If you invest more on magicka, you can also squeeze a couple destruction spells in, but leave enough magicka for your protection.

    The staff tentacles are very good for crowd control, as they will hold and damage most enemies for a few moments. Be sure to recharge it frequently. Then, tear the enemy to shreds with your sword and your powerful thu’um.


    With your Alchemy set, craft some potions with Fortify Restoration. Go to any shrine of Talos, drink the potion, then immediately accept the blessing and equip your amulet of Talos. The potion will greatly increase the effects of the fortify shout effect. As long as the blessing lasts and you don’t unequip the amulet, your shouts will regenerate almost instantly. In fact, using 130% restoration points, my shout's cooldowns were reduced to 10% of the original value. That allows for many interesting shout combinations. I advise you to play around and have some fun.

    UPDATE: As Phil reminded me on the comments section, there's also a Black Book that can enhance a shout of your choice. It's called Epistolary Acumen and becomes available during the main quest. The exact effects are:

    --Dragonborn Force: Your unrelenting force shout does more damage and may disintegrate enemies.
    --Dragonborn Flame : When your fire breath shout kills an enemy, a fire wyrm emerges form their corpse to fight for you for 60 seconds.
    --Dragonborn Frost: Your frost breath shout encases foes in ice.

    So pick your favorite one.





    Alchemy: With Hearthfire, it’s now extremely easy to level alchemy. It introduced a new key ingredient, salmon roe. You can get salmon roe by catching salmon that are jumping the waterfalls, or by killing swimming salmon with a bow/shout. When combined with a histcarp, chicken’s egg and other waterbreathing ingredients, it results in a very expensive potion. For easy access to salmon roe and histcarps, buy the Windstad Manor and upgrade until you can build a fish hatchery. Put one salmon roe and one histcarp there, and every few days there will be many just waiting to be collected. But, remember, you must kill the salmon with a bow. The resulting potions will be too expensive for any merchant to buy. So, at every level you will travel to the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary, buy alchemy training from Babette, and then sell potions to her. Also, to get the most from the manor, you can build a fully equipped greenhouse and plant some ingredients for paralysis potions, such as Imp Stool and Swamp Fungal Pod. After a few ingame days of traveling between your house and the sanctuary, and waiting for the pots and the hatchery to replenish, you will max alchemy and get a lot of gold and expensive potions.

    Enchanting: Just by disenchanting gear, you may be able to reach level 30-40. Join the College of Winterhold to have access to a few merchants that sell soul gems. Buy as many as you can, and ravage the wilds to trap some souls. Craft a lot of iron daggers and use your most expensive enchantment on them. Banish is the best, but hard to come by. Paralysis is second. You will spend a lot of money on soul gems, but the resulting hundreds of enchanted daggers will set you for life.

    Smithing: Jewelry is the new iron daggers. Save every gem you come across, along with buying and mining all the iron ore, silver ore/bars, gold ore/bars you can. Melt all the silver ore, then use Transmute on the iron ore until it’s all gold. Use the silver and gold bars to craft the most expensive jewelry you can with your gems. When you have no gems left, craft gold rings. Also, save the dwemer pieces of metal you get from dwemer ruins and melt it all. Use it to craft dwarven bows, the most cost effective option. If you have enough gold, you can also buy metal ingots to speed up the process. I keep buying dwarven ingots as they are very cost effective.

    Alteration: Craft a fortify alteration set, acquire the Detect Life spell and go to Whiterun. Dual cast it on the more heavily populated areas. In a matter of minutes, you will max alteration.

    Conjuration: Craft a fortify conjuration set and acquire the Soul Trap spell. Travel to Riverwood, murder a chicken and keep casting the spell on it until you max the school.

    Illusion: Craft a fortify illusion set, acquire the Muffle spell and just spam it anywhere.

    Destruction: Craft a fortify destruction set and do the Dark Brotherhood questline until you get Shadowmere. Dual cast your spells with the highest damage on her, as the XP you get is based on the damage. Remember to pick augmented flames/shock/frost as soon as they become available, depending on what you are using. Wearing the new dragon priest masks is also useful, as they will increase the respective element damage even further.

    Restoration: Turn Undead spells are the most useful, so go to a Draugr infested ruin and spam it with a fortify restoration set. Alternatively, you can also level restoration alongside heavy armor or light armor, by finding some lone mudcrab to hit you while you spam heals.



    P.S.: English isn't my first language, so please forgive me for any grammar or spelling mistakes.








  • Member
    February 17, 2013

    I like this build. +1. I didn't actually know too much about Miraak and the Dragonborn DLC in general, but this seems to "fit" my tastes almost perfectly.

    For Restoration, a more effective way is to go to Illinalta's Deep near Lake Illinalta. Have the Atronach Stone active and dual cast Novice-level healing constantly, absorbing magicka and rerouting it. Attract the majority/all of the enemies and simply stand and laugh at the poor Necromancers and their pet skeletons trying to defeat you. It raises your Restoration skill extremely fast (Level 9, Restoration 25, Heavy Armour 19, raised to Level 16 or so, Restoration 42, Heavy Armour 43, Adept Difficulty) I seem to remember someone else saying this, Kudos to them.

    Happy Face.

  • February 17, 2013

    I see you've created my champion. For I am Hermaeus Mora (Well at least on my Facebook account).

    This is cool, almost seems like something I would do. But you did way better than I ever could. Like the talos blessing I didn't know about that but I had my theories. You also find a way to not break the game when using the alchemy exploit.

    Whether this is a work of some other genius or not, you get the credit.

  • February 17, 2013

    Yes, what I like the most about Dragonborn is all the Lovecraftian vibe it brings with the main quest. And the rest of Solstheim is pretty well done too.

    Thanks for the tip, that seems a very good way of leveling restoration earlier in the game, before you can get tons of fortify restoration.

  • February 17, 2013

    Well, I did expect a few more tentacles and eyes from you, mister Mora

    My first drafts of the build replaced his boots and sometimes gloves with enchanted cultist equipment. But it got way too overpowered. Fortify one/two handed enchants serve for no purpose besides breaking the game, with that level of advancement. So I settled for the full set, as it will give some degree of challenge.

    One of my goals with the guide was putting together all the useful information and tips I found in all the time I played. So, there are many people on various forums and many wiki articles that I should credit, but it's not an easy task... So, the credits go to the awesome Skyrim community, I guess.

  • February 17, 2013
    Dude I just realized your user pic is Ktulu. You must love Dragonborn then seeing as it is the Pinnacle of Bethesda's Lovecraft's references.
  • Member
    February 17, 2013

    I was looking for something like this after experiencing the Dragonborn dlc and that thing turned out to be this exactly! I really like your inspiring introduction, perfect for the character.

    I have a question; do you know whether the Dragonborn Frost Shout augmentation from the Epistolary Acumen Black Book deals damaged to foe taking damage from Miraak's Staff?  I have a vision of owning the battlefield with a combination of those two attacks.

  • February 17, 2013

    Thank you!

  • February 17, 2013

    Indeed... And my only problem with the expansion is that the main quest is too short. I loved every tentacled minute of it.

  • February 17, 2013

    Oh, good point! I knew I was forgetting something, and that something was mentioning that Black Book. About your inquiry... I don't know, but I will try later and let you know.