Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: The Ancestor Shugenja, the Sodan-Senzo

Tags: #Character Build Mage  #Character Build Summoner  #Character Build Hero  #Rank:Recognized 
  • Member
    July 30, 2013

    Within the rocky mountains of Skyrim, there exists a temple dedicated to the recognition and remembering of the ancestors of all races. Part monastery and part academy, the students within these hallowed halls learn to become priests capable of communing and summoning ancestors of not only their own lineage, but any who have come before them. They are the keepers of the honored dead. They are Ancestor Shugenja. They are:

    Sodan Senzo


    Sodan Senzo begin their training as Shugenja (word for Japanese Priest-Wizards) of the water element, for that is the element which governs Restoration and Ice. Restoration is learned first to prepare the shugenja to resist the undead and defend against hostile ghosts. Ice magic is then learned next, to teach the shugenja to respect the great cycle of undeath. Ice seems eternal, solid, forever, and yet eventually melts and evaporates into the air, only to fall to earth in frozen form once again as snow. So, too, does death last forever, or so it seems, until a spirit passes from jigoku (the underworld) to be reborn anew.

    The student also spends this time learning honor and discipline. While no guard may notice a theft, the ancestors are always watching. A Sodan Senzo must always uphold the laws and customs of the people, particularly as he is a representative of the ancestors, and speaks with their voice. Dishonor is worse than death, for death happens to the body but once. Dishonor stains the soul forever.

    After completing these lessons, the student is taught the final mysteries of the temple. They learn to not only commune with the ancestors, but also to summon them, both in bodily form and in spirit, to guide the hands and feet of themselves and their companions.

    The Build

    Race: Dunmer already practice ancestor magic, and Argonians believe in the great cycle of rebirth in the Hist, but the temple is open to any who revere the ancestors.

    Stats: 1/1/0

    Standing Stones: Lord, Apprentice, Atronach, or Mage

    Primary skills: Destruction, Restoration, Conjuration

    Secondary: Illusion, Alteration, Speech, Enchanting

    Optional skills: Light Armor

    Dragon Shouts: Become Ethereal, Call of Valor, Frost Breath, Ice Form, Unrelenting Force. The Sodan Senzo can briefly join their ancestors in the veil, as well as summon them, both in ghostly form and to deliver an invisible strike across the void. Additionally, Frost/Ice is an element of the Ancestor Shugenja.

    Armor: Robes (Mage Armor)- Vaermina robes look the most like a kimono, but others, even simple Blue Robes, look good. A Shugenja recognizes his station in life as a priest and always dresses appropriately. However, the Vampire Royal Armor looks much like clothing and could be combined with other unobtrusive or priestly-looking armor pieces (glass armor comes to mind), especially if you often forget to refresh flesh spells like I do.


    Perks and Spells

    Restoration:  Novice-Master, Regeneration, Necromage, Recovery 2, Avoid Death

    Spells: All healing and turn/damage undead spells.

    The Sodan Senzo root out necromantic corruption wherever it may be found, and eradicate it. The dead are not tools to be used, they are the ones who have gone before, and should be respected. Occasionally, the ancestors will also miraculously protect their priest from death. It isn't quite time to join them in Jigoku yet.

    Destruction: Novice-Master, Destruction Dual Casting, Impact, Augmented Frost 2, Deep Freeze

    Spells: All ice spells. Often, if a creature is resistant to ice, it's undead, and restoration covers that. However, Lightning spells could be taken if necessary.

    The Sodan Senzo begin their training as water Shugenja and are attuned to that element in the form of ice.

    Conjuration: Novice-Expert, Summoner 1, Necromancy, Dark Souls, Twin Souls

    Spells: Conjure Familiar, Flaming Familiar, Conjure Boneman, Mistman, and Wrathman, Expel Daedra, Soul Trap, Conjure Frost Thrall/Atronach

    The primary ability of the Sozan Senzo, to summon the ancestors (mostly human (bone/mist/wrathmen) but including a few animals), and banish all others, lies within this school. It is ironic that the perks that govern the summoning of Bonemen are also the perks that govern actual necromancy spells, but it is also a kind of romantic irony that works well. Sodan Senzo know exactly what happens with Black Soul Gems, but will use them if the crime is great enough. Those who attempt murder and the like must be removed from the eternal cycle to learn lessons in Jigoku before being reborn and committing their heinous crimes in another life.


    Illusion: Just Novice-Master and the stat-increasing spells, particularly Call to Arms as well as Clarivoyance. The ancestors protect and guide.

    Alteration: Novice-Master, Magic Resistance 3, and Stability. Spells include lights to simulate helpful spirits, and Flesh spells as protection of the ancestors. Also detect dead, as Sodan Senzo can sense the presence of nearby spirits and undead. Mage armor can also be taken unless Light Armor is chosen.

    Speech: Haggling 1, Allure, Merchant, Investor. Sodan Senzo are taught how to speak to both the dead and the living in a respectful manner. Additionally, an Ancestor Shugenja recognizes the long-term goal of making strong bonds with both living and ghostly companions.

    Enchantment: Enchanter 5, Insightful Enchanter, Corpus Enchanter, Extra Effect. Ancestors that are willing may be infused into weapons and armor. While you may never wield a weapon, certain ancestors may create elemental enchantments when infused into a weapon. A very passionate ancestor, for example, may add fire to the weapon and would benefit from fire enchanter. 


    Civil War

    Imperial- A Sodan Senzo recognizes his place and fulfills it, both in the great cycle and in political station. He would never betray the empire he has sworn himself to. He may attempt to use political power to change the current state of affairs, but he would rather die than become a rebel.

    Stormcloak- "My ancestors are smiling at me, Imperials. Can you say the same?" proclaims the brave Stormcloak at your execution, and this is certainty a question to be answered. The Imperials have no respect for their ancestors, and have gone so far as to force Nords to cease worshipping Talos, the great ancestor. Those who side with them must be stopped.

    Note:I originally felt that a Sodan Senzo would never dishonor himself by becoming a rebel to the empire he served. However, that quote and the attempt to do away with Talos worship would not sit well with an Ancestor Shugenja. I could see justification for both.

    Dawnguard- Vampires have willingly taken themselves out of the great cycle and commit atrocities to remain so. Many a Sodan Senzo have heard the cries of a ghost which vampires have murdered. They must be not only stopped, but destroyed and placed back into the great cycle. This should be completed fairly early to get access to bone/wrath/mistmen summons, Restoration undead damage spells and, optionally, the Vampire Royal Armor.

    College of Winterhold- Shugenja spread the teachings of the ancestors wherever they go. The college of Winterhold reminds them very much of the temple they originate from, and becoming the Archmage would allow them to encourage greater understanding of spirit magic. Additionally, this allows access to Arniel's Endeavor and the quest reward of a spell which summons a "ghostly ancestor:" Summon Arniel's Shade.


    General: Never steal, never murder, never conduct yourself in a way that dishonors you and your craft. Never, EVER use true necromancy. It is an assault on the honored dead and you bring shame to yourself in so doing. Get married, as a Sodan Senzo's greatest fulfillment would be to join the ranks of the honored ancestors, becoming an ancestor himself.

    Combat: When an Ancestor Shugenja leaves the temple, they have but 5 tools: Frostbite, Healing, Bound Sword (Wakizashi), Conjure Familiar and Oakflesh. They cannot quite summon ancestors yet, but ghostly weaponry and wolves are within their means. To deal with undead, they have Flames. While it may be odd for a water shugenja to know a fire spell, Flames is the most efficient and straightforward way to destroy undead, and Sodan Senzo are exorcists first and foremost. This is enough to get into the Soul Cairn for those ancestor summoning spells. At this point, the Shugenja relies on their ancestors to see them through their objectives as they grow and learn other abilities.

    Ultimately, a Sodan Senzo casts summons and then enhances them with Call to arms before engaging. All summons are resistant to ice, so it's less of a hassle to target very specifically, unless fighting undead. I find that in that case, if you have trouble not hitting your ancestors, it is best to rely on the water powers of the Sodan Senzo to summon Frost Atronachs. Additionally, Dremora Lords could be used as "manifested ancestors" to allow the reckless use of Restoration undead damage/destruction spells.

    This is my first build on the site. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. I will probably make a few changes here and there as I hear criticism or learn more.