Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: Raven - Lady of the Reach

  • Member
    September 21, 2013

    "Lord Red Eagle, ancient one, first and foremost among Reachmen, heed the call of your people! Still we fight for freedom! Still our blades are dark with blood! Turn your gaze upon us, and grant us your blessing anew! I renew the ancient covenant: When at last our lands are free, we shall return, your sword of victory in hand. Then arise, O great one, from your honored tomb! Reclaim thy stolen throne! Rule over us, High Lord of the Reach, forevermore!"

    Image Credit to ~phillydelphy

    Lady of the Reach

    Two years after Ulfric Stormcloak quelled the Forsworn uprising and took back The Reach for the Nords of Skyrim, a woman of the Sundered Hills gave birth to a young girl whose eyes were as black as night.  The child was brought to the Hagravens who, in their ancient wisdom, declared the girl to be the second coming of Faolan, the Red Eagle.  It would be her that would drive out the invaders and reclaim the Reach for its true owners, the Forsworn.

    She was raised a true Reachman; learning to live off of the bounty of the land and building a lasting enmity for the Nords who still claimed right to her home.  Now she has come of age and must set out from the camp she calls home.  Her tribe’s chieftain has informed her that Madanach, the King in Rags, is still alive and being held by the Nords of Markath in Cidhna Mine.  For the glory and vengeance of the Forsworn, he must be saved.


    This build was pieced together from a few different concepts that I wanted to see combined in a game: RP-Centric, No Crafting, No Enchanting, No Magic, Sneak Archer, Dual-Sword, Werewolf.  Pure archers are kind of useless when 6 guys spot them and even if you have melee, you’re going to die when overwhelmed without healing spells so the ability to shift into werewolf form in a pinch made the build seem extremely fun.  While trying to figure out a setting to fit all this in, I started looking into the Forsworn and reading their lore.  This culminated in a character that fits into the world, has believable and specific purpose, and is by far the most exciting and interesting character I’ve played.  

    My other goal with this character is to create one that you can ‘start playing’ immediately.  Most of her core gear is easily accessible (Armor of the Old Gods is the best start and can be gotten in your first hour) and you can immediately begin roleplaying her to her full potential.  Getting to the final perk build and gaining strength is, itself, the fun of this build.

    The Build

    Forsworn Breton Werewolf

    Major Skills
    Archery, One-Handed, Light Armor

    Minor Skills
    Sneak, Speech


    Stormcloak Officer’s Helmet

    Ripped from the fallen body of her enemy; aspect of The Bear

    Saviour’s Hide

    A gift from Hircine the Great Hunter; aspect of The Wolf

    Gauntlets of the Old Gods

    Talons of the Old Gods strengthen her bow; aspect of The Hawk

    Boots of the Old Gods

    A hunter’s silent steps whilst stalking its prey; aspect of The Tiger


    Ring of Namira

    Namira awakens Raven and allows her to tap into her most primal animal nature

    Kyne’s Token

    The Blessing of Kyne for defeating Skyrim’s animal guardians

    Forsworn Bow

    Sturdy and resilient as the roots of The Reach and imbued with its history

    Forsworn Swords

    Bearing the teeth hewn from fallen prey, she is trained in the two-sword style of her people

    Zephyr DG

    Once belonging to a fellow hunter.  Swift and deadly as the winter wind

    Red Eagle’s Bane

    Her birthright.  The blade that thirsts for Nord blood and will see the fall of Markath

    Valdr’s Lucky Dagger

    A gift from a Falkreath hunter retired.  Apt for skinning prey

    Eye of Melka

    She is wary to deal in magicks but this gift from a Hagraven matriarch is welcome when fire is called for


    Raven relies on guerilla warfare against the Reach’s invaders which involves a lot of ranged sneak attacks.  Deadly Aim should be a high priority followed by Dual Flurry for deadly melee.  

    Perks (Level 25)

    Perks (Level 50)


    0 / 3 / 1

    Raven relies on the body given her by the Old Gods and has neither aptitude nor interest in Magicka.  The Ring of Namira compensates for the lower stamina distribution.

    Standing Stone

    As she leaves her cave to begin training in the Wild, Raven attunes herself to The Warrior stone to hasten the growth of her strength in combat.  After countless adventures and as The Reach begins to bend to her will, she attunes to The Lord for full dominion over her lands.

    Favored Shouts

    Raven is eager to make use of her new-found dragon’s powers to compliment her skills.  Marked For Death sets her sights on her prey and ensures their death.  When resorting to melee combat, Elemental Fury hastens her attacks with the fury of a hurricane.  When cornered, she lets loose a primal roar of Unrelenting Force cutting a path through her enemies.


    "You want to know who the Forsworn are? We are the people who must pillage our own land. Burn our own ground. We are the scourge of the Nords. The axe that falls in the dark. The scream before the gods claim your soul. We are the true sons and daughters of the Reach."


    Raven is to be played as an outcast from Markath; perfectly attuned to the beasts and hills of the Reach.  She should always have a high bounty for the Reach by terrorizing the guards and citizens.  Her armor and weapons are only practical as she relies on her own cunning and strength in combat.  To further become an aspect of the lands she protects, she strikes a deal with Hircine the Hunter to be given the gift of Lycanthropy.

    I absolutely urge you to read up on The Reach, Reachmen, Red Eagle, and the Forsworn Uprising because it informs your character significantly.


    Combat is swift and silent.  She enters the room unbeknownst to anyone and dispatches enemies from a distance.  When she is spotted, she becomes more dangerous as she takes out two swords to dispatch aggressors.  When overwhelmed with enemies on every side believing they have finally taken her down, she invokes her wild spirit and assumes the form of a wolf to annihilate her prey.  

    After downing a foe, she can feed on her enemy in both human and werewolf form due to her Ring of Namira

    Character Creation

    I highly recommend that PC users get the ‘Alternate Start: Live a New Life’ mod.  It replaces the standard opening of the game with any of a large selection of various start scenarios.  Bretons have an option to start as a Forsworn and it just makes starting this character so much more believable.  You will start with your own tent and chest inside Druadach Redoubt and have a full set of equipment to get you started.  The Forsworn in that cave are friendly to you and you can continue to use it as your base for the rest of the game.

    If you must start with the original opening, go straight from Helgen to Markath and begin the Forsworn Conspiracy quest.  Afterward, be sure to help Madanach escape and kill guards on your way out of the city.  Then follow the Forsworn to Druadach Redoubt.  You can now use this as your base because the Forsworn inside will not attack you. 

    Character must be Breton and have the completely-black eye color.  This is a reference to The Red Eagle from the book with his legend.  Leave your cave with a full set of Forsworn armor, dual-wielding Forsworn swords, and with a Forsworn bow and arrows.  Your destination is Markath to rescue Madanach.

    Take back the Reach

    Using her camp as a base of operations, Raven consistently brings terror to the Nords living in the reach.  As she gains strength, even city guards do little to deter her.  Be sure to check this page for a list of locations in the Reach and read up on their histories and inhabitants to decide whether the location should be spared or not.

    Dealing with other Forsworn

    Raven is accepted only by her own tribe.  Although the other Forsworn want the same things, they see her as blasphemous and a pretender rather than Faolan’s heir and will typically attack on sight.  With the blessing of Madanach, Raven sheds the blood of her brothers when they leave her no choice and stand between her and her objectives.

    Hiding in Plain Sight

    Raven takes on a different persona when dealing with civilization.  Dawning a set of fine clothing and an amulet to Zenithar, she approaches villages and cities as a respectable merchant who is keen at haggling the best prices for the loot she gains through her conquest.  Her wild and free spirit is intoxicating to the male merchants she deals with and so she is often offered better prices (Allure).  If she ever does need to deal with the nords of the Reach in ways that don’t involve her arrows through their skulls, she can use her wealth to bribe a guard to clear her bounty (Bribery).  

    You should always switch to this gear when entering cities or attempting nonviolent interaction with other species.  Do be sure to keep your dagger equipped though in case anyone needs to be dealt with discreetly.


    What follows are special notes I have for how to approach certain key-quests for Raven’s development.  I have listed them in recommended order but feel free to do them in any order you wish and use these descriptions only as inspiration for your own way of justifying the acts performed.  Not included here are several quests necessary to retrieve the equipment listed above (Use the item hyperlinks to see the UESP articles for acquiring).  I trust your ability to take the rest of this guide’s content to inform your behavior in those situations as well.

    Rescue Madanach

    Your first objective should be to start the Forsworn questline in Markath that ends with the escape from Cidhna mine.  If you started as a Forsworn and have a Reach bounty, you will need to pay that off first or else serve a jail sentence.  I do not recommend joining the Thieves Guild for the ability to bribe and would rather rely on the speech perk for that.  

    Rescuing Madanach will get you the Old Gods equipment which is perfect starting gear (Especially the boots and gauntlets).  You should then join their fight as they rip through the city to escape, killing as many guards with them as you can to get your bounty back up.

    Become a Werewolf

    You need to do enough of the Companions to get werewolf form.  You can roleplay this as her joining the nords long enough to gain the power and then abandon them or do what I did and just pretend that Hircine gives you the werewolf form during the quest in which you receive the Saviour’s Hide.  

    Note on the Saviour’s Hide:  Many guides will say you can get both the Ring and the Hide in the same quest.  This didn’t work for me so it may have been fixed either by an official or unofficial patch.  You should focus only on the Hide.  The ring is not that useful considering the rarity of Raven’s transformations.

    Awaken the Dragonborn

    While scouting near Helgen, Raven is witness to the destruction of the village at the will of the great dragon Alduin.  While investigating the matter, she discovers that she is, in fact, Dragonborn and takes this as yet another sign from the Old Gods that she is the Nord’s Bane.  As Dragons begin to appear across Skyrim, she welcomes the hunt to steal their powers and become more powerful for her campaign against Markath.

    Enabling the appearance of Dragons by defeating the one at the Western Watchtower is favorable to get out of the way early so that there is always variety and excitement during Raven’s other hunts.

    I would recommend taking the main questline as far as the the completion of the greybeard’s training.  You may also take it to reaching Sky Haven Temple, the reason for this is described under Karthspire in the Living Arrangements section below.

    Retrieve Red Eagle’s Sword

    Before Red Eagle died, he entrusted his sword, slayer of thousands of invaders, to his people telling them that they may return it to him after The Reach is free.  The sword is in the hands of a Briarheart who has taken lordship over Red Eagle Redoubt.  He denounces Raven’s claim to Faolan’s legacy and his followers will die to defend him.

    Raven has more planned than simply recovering Red Eagle’s Fury.  She is going to meet with Red Eagle himself and face him in combat for her birthright to once and for all be recognized by The Reach as its true saviour.

    To do this, the Hagravens have instructed Raven on how to capture Faolan’s very soul.  Travel to Morthal and speak to Falion, the newly appointed court mage.  His secrets are of little consequence.  What matters is that he can furnish you with a Black Soul Gem.  You will also need a weapon of Snaring for causing the soul trap effect.  The fletcher in Solitude should sell a bow that can perform the soul capture you require.

    Be careful not to use the soul trapping bow on other races.  Save it for Faolan himself.  

    With everything ready, travel to Rebel’s Cairn and use Red Eagle’s Fury to open his tomb.  Fight him as in the Old Ways and before defeating him, trap his soul within the Soul Gem.  Bearing Faolan’s Soul and standing victorious in his tomb, you are recognized as Lady of the Reach and Red Eagle’s Fury’s true power is unlocked, transforming to Red Eagle’s Bane.

    It is this blade that you will run through Ulfric’s heart.

    Kill Ulfric Stormcloak

    The greatest enemy to the Reachmen in an age must pay for his crimes.  Although Raven dislikes all outsiders, she is willing to side with General Tullius’s endeavors for the opportunity to sink her claws into the flesh of her people’s most hated enemy.  In your campaign against the Stormcloaks, you can retrieve one of their officer’s helmets; a bear’s skin that more aptly fits your attunement with the Wild.

    Relationships with Other Holds

    It is worth discussing Raven’s behaviour when dealing with the other Nords of Skyrim who are not living in The Reach.  A general rule of thumb is to stick to ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ and being an upstanding citizen on the outside.  The Mage’s, Thieves, and Dark Brotherhood guilds have nothing to offer her.

    Whiterun and Solitude



    Most of Raven’s merchant business is carried on within these two powerful neighbors.  Both holds wish to see Ulfric’s head on a pike and so Raven puts on her neutral, successful business persona and makes the money to fund her war.

    Another of the Reach’s neighbors.  Morthal has little to offer Raven in the way of tactical advantage.  The stagnant marshland is repulsive to her very upbringing and she avoids the area when possible.

    Although this hold is on the side of the stormcloaks, Raven looks past it for the serene company of hunters.  It is said that Hircine himself runs through the forests near Falkreath and Raven often steals away to hunt game and commune with the master of the hunt.


    Dawnstar and Riften


    The Hagravens told Raven when she was very young of a terrible place far away in the mountains above Skyrim in which blasphemous Nords study the energies of their gods for use in their own selfish gains.  Raven has no interest in making the long journey to such a lost and hopeless place far from her rivers and streams.

    These holds are far from The Reach and are of little consequence to Raven’s life.  She has heard rumor, however, that the forests near Riften are a thrill to hunt in.

    This grey and repulsive rock is called home by the Forsworn’s greatest enemy, Ulfric Stormcloak.  It is said in the camps that the sun never shines there and that the people all live in the streets subsisting off rats and filth.  Raven hopes to rarely set foot in the city until she stands at the head of an army to take Ulfric’s head home to The Reach.

    Living Arrangements

    Although Raven begins her journey in Druadach Redoubt, there are other possibilities for places she may call home as her journey progresses.  I would recommend Karthspire and Breezehome.  I love the idea of Raven living two lives and having a place for appearances for the other Holds whilst her real business and wealth lies in Karthspire.

    Druadach Redoubt

    Vlindrel Hall

    As described under Character Creation, using the Forsworn start from the Alternate Start mod allows Raven to begin her quest in Druadach Redoubt

    Pros: The other Forsworn (her tribesmen) are non-hostile and the chest near your bed is marked as player-owned so it is safe for long-term storage (the mod says so, anyway. Can anyone confirm?)  Being the destination of Madanach and his men after his rescue, this location fits thematically as Raven’s base of operations.

    Cons: Players who do not use the mod will suffer from no permanent storage solutions due to the cave resetting every 10-30 in-game days.  Even mod users will only be able to use the chest.  Any decorative items placed around the cave will disappear on reset.

    A home is for sale inside Markath.  Raven can make her home in the city of her oppressors right under the Jarl’s nose under guise of a traveling Merchant.  The Forsworn are known to keep their friends close and their enemies closer.

    Pros:  This of course comes with all of the House perks with free permanent storage and decoration. This location adds an extra aspect of executing secret missions from Madanach within the city.

    Cons:  High bounties can make this an unfavorable place to dwell.  You would need to get through Markath unseen by the guards.  Unfortunately, wearing different clothes does not stop the guards from recognizing you!


    The Karthspire

    Whiterun hold has always been a welcome reprieve from the harsh wilderness of The Reach and is where Raven does most of her business.  Whiterun has come to recognize and respect her as a successful businesswoman and the citizens have no indication to the atrocities she commits in the neighboring region.

    Pros: Breezehome is a modest habitat reminiscent of her simpler upbringing and owning property in the hold further cements her reputation in the region.  Additionally, this adds an extra air of distaste for the Nords she deals with for business as she smiles through gritted teeth.

    Cons: An argument can be made against all city houses that Raven cannot be bound to such lavish dwelling and is destined only for the wild.  Living amongst nords may also be considered entirely out of character, even for the sake of appearances.

    Dug into the mountain at the southern end of the Karth River Valley is a Forsworn cave befitting a Queen of The Reach.  From her cave, she can direct her campaign of terror across the Nords of The Reach.  Through the back is the path to Sky Haven Temple, a place of power brimming with the ancient energies of Dragons.  Raven can retreat there to meditate on her next actions.  All one needs is to do away with the current inhabitants: fellow Forsworn who do not see Raven as worthy of being offered their home.

    Pros:  This cave never respawns and so all containers are permanent and decorations never disappear.  The living quarters feature a double bed, table containing Forsworn equipment, a campfire, and a chest.

    Cons:  Routing her brothers of their home for her own gain seems hypocritical but, for the glory of The Reach, this dwelling borders on perfect.

    Closing Thoughts

    Thank you for taking the time to read this entire thing!  I’ve been inspired for over a year by the builds on this blog and it has squeezed out so much extra enjoyment from this game.  this is my first guide and I hope I wasn’t being too thorough!  Here are a few closing thoughts

    Lord of the Reach

    There are a few reasons to play this character as male.  Mainly, I like the look of the Forsaken Headdress much better on males.  I went with female initially because the Forsworn seem to edge on the Matriarchal side due to their reverence of the Hagravens.  Either way, the idea of a woman being the warrior messiah felt more impactful and badass.  If you wanted to do this build with a male character, the name I would have chosen is SparrowHawk.

    Becoming a Briarheart

    This really demands a mod (and I’m half-tempted to take a whack at it myself).  If you don’t know, a Briarheart is a Forsworn who makes a pact with a Hagraven to have his heart removed and replaced with magical thorns.  As a result, he is undead and gains super-human strength (and hearing, strangely enough).  You can insta-kill a Briarheart by pickpocketing the item from them.

    The very first Briarheart was none other than our hero Faolan, the Red Eagle and you may decide that Raven, too, should undergo this procedure.  It is, in the current state of the game, purely for RP reasons of course.  However, feel free to carry around a Briarheart in your inventory as your new beating heart.

    Faolan’s Soul

    As described in the Quests section, my ideal scenario for facing Red Eagle is to trap him into a Black Soul Gem.  What should you do with this newfound item of power?  I opted to keep it on my person at all times as a source of her power.  You may decide to craft it into a ring or amulet which can be named and is more recognizable but I always strove to stay from forges, alchemy tables, and enchanting stations.  After all, how would Raven know the first thing about magical enchanting?  Completing the Red Eagle quest is somewhat of an ‘end game’ quest in that his soul’s power emanating from you is an omen signaling the fall of Markath.

    That’s it!
    Happy hunting!


  • Member
    September 21, 2013
  • Member
    September 21, 2013

    Thanks! :D

  • Member
    September 21, 2013

    Also most of the skillset doesn't match up with Breton skills anyway 

  • Member
    September 21, 2013
    Wonderful build! Coincidentally I've been playing a heavy roleplay forsworn build for the past week or so! My character is a male, and I lean more towards spellswording it up (Primary skills destruction, alteration, restoration, light armor, one handed), and have definitely been envisioning him becoming a Briarheart someday! +1, good sir, I'm sure our characters would get along famously!
  • Member
    September 21, 2013

    Good to hear great minds think alike!  Glad you enjoyed it :D

    Forsworn is sooo good.  It really begs for a full faction added on as a Mod.  It's really a rush to kind of shut yourself off from part of the world.  The Reach is so dangerous with guards, bounty hunters, dragons, and enemy Forsworn, always such a rush adventuring there. ^^

  • Member
    September 21, 2013

    This was done really well, a fun read, good build, and informative. +1

  • Member
    September 21, 2013
    Yeah, I'm not positive, but pretty sure that the Reach is the biggest hold in Skyrim, it's easy to spend hours adventuring there!
  • Member
    September 22, 2013
    Never knew that you could pickpocket a Briarheart and kill him! That's awesome! :) It is a bit of a read but it's interesting enough at least. +1
  • Member
    September 22, 2013

    Very cool I like no crafting builds as greatly reduces level grinding, that and I was able to get right into the action with this character. +1 and good work!