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Character Build: The Quarra Vampire

Tags: #Character Build Warrior  #Character Build No Crafting  #Character Build Vampire  #Race:Dunmer  #Rank:Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build  #Albino Skyrim Build  #Artifacts  #Quarra 
  • Member
    December 21, 2013

    Once one of the most feared vampire bloodlines on Vvardenfell, the Quarra were presumed extinct along with the Aundae and Berne after the eruption of Red Mountain in 4E 5. This was mostly true, as vampire attacks on the island virtually ceased after the Red Year. Unbeknownst to the population of Morrowind, however, there was a survivor, and he has made his way west to Skyrim to terrorize the whole province, for as they say, the Quarra would rather slaughter an entire village than choose a few on which to feed.

    The Quarra Vampire

    At last, I have created the most enjoyable vampire character that I have ever had the pleasure of playing in Skyrim. The Quarra are not a subtle clan, with a focus on warrior skills that stands in direct contrast with the expectations that most people have of Elder Scrolls vampires. With that in mind, I combined elements from both the base game and Dawnguard into what is truly my darkest Skyrim creation yet. Here are the highlights:

    - One combat style? Man, that’s boring. Two combat styles? Okay, that’s a little more interesting, but still, who hasn’t played a build like that? For the Quarra, nothing less than three different combat styles will suffice, and each one will be used for an alternate function, as you’ll see.

    - Synergy is a buzzword that tends to get thrown around a lot here, and with good reason: it’s one of the most important elements to an awesome build. As such, I made significant effort to ensure that there’s plenty of synergy between and within the three combat styles.

    - As befitting a member of the Quarra clan, I focused heavily on combat skills. In fact, the Quarra only uses one skill that’s not associated with the Warrior. That’s certainly unusual for a vampire build, but unusual builds make for the most interesting ones; don’t you agree?

    - A lot of people don’t like crafting skills since they can become boring grindfests. Personally, I don’t mind them (probably because I use various strategies to keep them from turning into said grindfest), which is why most of my builds use at least one. However, the Quarra doesn’t use a single crafting skill, meaning less time spent hunched over a table and more time spent killing things.

    - In lieu of crafting his own gear, the Quarra uses lots and lots of artifacts, especially Daedric ones. Aside from being useful, most of them look fairly badass, making the Quarra a fearsome looking character.

    Enough with the highlights. Let's get on with the actual build, shall we?

    The Basics

    Race: Dark Elf is a solid choice. Their fire resistance offsets a vampire’s weakness to it, and Ancestor’s Wrath can be stacked with the Ebony Mail’s poison cloak effect and the Reflect Blows perk to deal damage before you even so much as touch an enemy. That being said, Orcs make for an excellent alternative due to their emphasis on combat skills as well as Berserker Rage. Fun fact: all the clan members in Morrowind are Nords, with the exception of Volrina Quarra herself, who is an Imperial.

    Stone: The Lord’s boost to armor rating is quite nice, but more importantly it grants 25% Magic Resistance, a welcome addition since the Quarra is lacking in that department. For encounters against opponents with particularly deadly magical attacks, I kept the White Phial around to bump my magic resistance up to 45%.

    Stats: I recommend a 0/2/1 ratio. Yes, you read that correctly, this is a vampire character with no need to invest into extra Magicka (well, on levelups, anyway).

    Shouts: Become Ethereal is a wonderful, multipurpose shout for dealing with ranged opponents, as it enables you to simply walk up to them and slice them into little pieces. I also found myself using Marked For Death a lot with this character; reducing armor rating by 75 points per second is simply too useful to ignore. Ice Form is the Quarra’s crowd control shout of choice, while Aura Whisper and Throw Voice are used for stealth. Rounding out the repertoire are the dark and powerful shouts added by Dawnguard: Drain Vitality, Summon Durnehviir, and Soul Tear.


    The Ebony Mail is the centerpiece of the build. When sneaking around in heavy armor, nothing could be more useful than a Muffle effect, and the poison cloak is a nice bonus as well.

    Ebony Boots, Gauntlets, and Helmet provide a high armor rating as well as an aesthetic that goes well with the Mail. Some Ebony Boots/Gauntlets are dropped by the Champion of Boethiah along with the Ebony Mail and blacksmiths will start selling unenchanted Ebony Helmets at level 32. For enchantments, put one or two-handed on the boots, the opposite on the gauntlets, and waterbreathing on the helmet. While this build doesn’t perk Enchanting, you should have a decent amount of skill in it from disenchanting equipment and recharging weapons. Combine that with bought/found enchanting potions and the resulting enchantment should be at least somewhat decent.

    As far as necklaces go, look no further than the Gauldur Amulet. Its health and stamina boosts are wonderful, and the extra magicka allows you to cast Muffle at level 1 (more on that later). Due to a glitch, it can also be equipped alongside another necklace (doesn't work for all of them though). I choose the Locket of Saint Jiub for an additional 50 stamina and carrying capacity. In order for the glitch to work, you need to equip the Gauldur Amulet followed by the necklace of your choosing.

    The Ring of Namira is the Quarra’s finger adornment of choice. It gives a constant 50 point boost to stamina along with an additional 50 health and 50% health regeneration for five minutes after feeding on a corpse. What’s not to like? Well, the lack of corpses to feed on in some dungeons (Dwarven Ruins and Nordic Barrows come to mind). In situations like those, I recommend using the Ring of the Beast instead for a 100 point boost to health.

    Aside from these, I also picked up the Sanguine Rose for a free Dremora Lord summon during tough fights, Auriel’s Bow for blotting out the sun, and the Oghma Infinium for an all-around skill boost.

    The Dark Champion

    The Quarra’s first style revolves around dual-wielding what are arguably the most vampire-appropriate weapons in the game: Harkon’s Sword in the left hand and the Mace of Molag Bal in the right. Combining the speed of a sword with the power of a mace, the Quarra will quickly decimate any enemies in his way. The enchantments synergize nicely as well; you’ll be dealing 40 points of Magicka/Stamina damage, with 15 of those points coming back to the Quarra, along with the usual damage to health (as well as 15 points of health absorption per strike). Harkon's Sword goes through charges like crazy, so you may want to spend some gold on training Destruction to increase the number of charges on both it and the mace.

    The Mace of Molag Bal has a Soul Trap enchantment on it; perfect for capturing souls in the Black Star to recharge both it and Harkon’s Sword. While you can’t obtain the mace until level 14, it's possible get the sword the moment you meet Harkon. Since he doesn't have it equipped, you can pickpocket it from him without the Misdirection perk (be sure to use lots of Fortify Pickpocket items in order to do so), then use your preferred method for removing the stolen tag.

    The Dark Champion is also the Quarra’s preferred form for sneaking. Until you acquire the Ebony Mail, use the Muffle spell to move silently. With the magicka boosting portion of the Gauldur Amulet, you should be able to cast it without any problems. Once you’ve identified a target, either quietly move behind them and hit them with a dual-wielding power attack, or perform a Shadowstrike (Silent Roll + Critical Charge) from a distance. The former does more damage, but the latter (when executed properly) makes it easier to get a sneak attack, so choose wisely.

    The Ebon Masamune

    While the Dark Champion is excellent for sneaking and one-on-one fights, it’s rather lacking against multiple foes, and that’s where the Quarra’s second style comes into play. Whereas the former focuses on dual-wielding, the trademark of this style is the mighty Ebony Blade, another vampire-appropriate weapon. Fully powered, it absorbs 30 points of health per strike, making it an effective weapon for healing as well as fighting, and it never needs to be recharged either. Get the Sweep perk as soon as you can; with it, you can hit multiple opponents with one blow, absorbing health from each.

    Should you come across any Weakness to Magic Poisons, put them on the blade, as they’ll increase the effectiveness of the enchantment. As a side note, though this is no longer relevant given the release of the 1.9 Patch, this build would've still been effective for using the Ebony Blade given the usage of both One-Handed and Two-Handed. It still has the speed (awesome) and reach (not awesome) of a one-handed sword though.

    With regards to powering up the Ebony Blade, UESP has a helpful page on that. What I would like to draw attention to, however, is that reanimating a corpse and killing it again counts for a second kill. If you repeatedly resurrect the same corpse over and over again via Vampire’s Servant, you can reach the blade’s full power with only one person.

    Wielding a Two-Handed weapon also opens up the usage of the Block skill for the Quarra. Blocking without a shield absorbs more damage than you might think (check out Nikolaj Poulsen's Gameplay Mechanics for more information on that), and bashing opens up additional opportunities in combat. Once you have mastered the skill, you can even use the Shield Charge glitch (sprint at an enemy and tap the block button as soon as you’re about to make contact) with the Ebony Blade.

    While the Dark Champion is the preferred style for sneaking, the Ebon Masamune is the preferred style for mounted combat. While there are plenty of generic horses in the game, there is only one steed that the Quarra will ride: Shadowmere. Aside from being a perfect aesthetic match (black armor with a black sword on a black horse anyone?), he regenerates health at an absurdly fast rate. Combine that with the high health absorption of the Ebony Blade, the mobility that comes with being on horseback, and the overall sturdiness of the Quarra, and neither he nor Shadowmere will be dying anytime soon.

    The Vampire Lord

    The existing two styles already complement each other quite nicely, but the Quarra still lacks an option for dealing with opponents at a distance. That’s where Harkon’s gift comes into play. The Vampire Lord version of Vampiric Drain can take out opponents in difficult to reach places, or you can use Vampiric Grip to put them somewhere closer to you. Speaking of Vampiric Drain, be sure to take full advantage of Blood of the Ancients (after completing Ancient Power four times, it lasts for nine days) to drain Magicka and Stamina as well. Be sure to make use of your other abilities as well though (personally, I’m a big fan of Summon Gargoyle), and perk it out at your leisure.

    Of course, in order to use the full breadth of your powers you need a good pool of magicka, and as such the Quarra uses the Ring of the Erudite when utilizing the Vampire Lord transformation. Combined with Power of the Grave and your base 100 magicka, that gives you 250 magicka to work with, plus the level-dependent magicka boost you receive from your Vampire Lord form. Magicka regeneration is also boosted by 2% by virtue of being a Vampire Lord and further increased by the Ring of the Erudite (an explanation of how its magicka regeneration boost works can be found by looking at James' comment here).

    Whereas the Dark Champion has sneaking and Ebon Masamune mounted combat to work with, the Vampire Lord already has an alternate option built in: its claws. This is always a fun way to inject some more variety into combat. If you plan on using your claws extensively though I advise getting the Blood Healing (killing a person with a power attack bite fully heals you) and Poison Talons (your claws do 20 points of poison damage) perks as soon as you can. I also recommend using the Ring of the Beast instead of the Erudite in this situation.

    62 perks is a pretty high number when only five skills are being perked (especially considering how cutting the weapon-specific perks alone could reduce the total number by nine), but I wanted portray the Quarra as a true weaponmaster. That being said, if you're looking for a lower level spread, here's a 40 perk one.

    The Earlygame

    The downside of using so many artifacts is that most of them cannot be obtained until a certain level, and as such, aren't available at the start. With that in mind, I developed a path for the Quarra to take in order to get an effective earlygame setup to work with.

    - Siding with Ralof during Unbound enables you to kill the Imperial Captain and her lackey, earning you a full set of Imperial Heavy Armor (with the Officer’s Helmet to boot), and a pair of Imperial Swords. If one of the Stormcloaks dies during the escape (or you kill one yourself), that gives you a Two-Handed weapon as well.

    - Once you’re out, be sure to pick up the Warrior Stone (for use until you feel like grabbing the Lord) and Sanguinare Vampiris (from the vampires at Shriekwind Bastion). From there, either complete the Main Quest up to Dragon Rising (if you want to start collecting dragon souls) or Before the Storm (if not). Either way, you’ll end up in Whiterun, which puts you in a good position for the next segment.

    - Pay a visit to Kodlak Whitemane and start the Companions questline. After completing Take Up Arms, immediately take up Farkas on his job offer, then return to him and start Proving Honor. During the quest, Farkas will transform into a werewolf and drop his Skyforge Steel Greatsword, so be sure to pick it up. Upon completion, you can pick up a free Skyforge Steel weapon from Eorlund. Choose the sword and then buy another one from him.

    - While you’re still in Whiterun, brawl Uthegerd the Unbroken to unlock her as a follower; then take her to Ragnvald to kill Otar the Mad for his mask. It’s difficult, but well worth it, since it’s an effective helm for the earlygame, or even the entire playthrough if you so choose. With Otar out of the way, kill Uthgerd for her Steel Plate Armor. As a side note, Ragnvald never respawns, and there’s no one around to report crimes, so once you have the Ebony Blade, Uthgerd is a good person to use the Vampire’s Servant trick on.

    - After that, go to Markarth and do the Taste of Death (it's not a level-dependent quest). Eola makes a good follower (especially since she has Sneak as a primary skill), so consider keeping her around for a little while. With the Ring of Namira in your possession, go to the College of Winterhold and complete its questline up to Hitting the Books (for part of the Gauldur Amulet and some skill books), then do Forbidden Legend for the rest of the amulet.

    With that, you’ll have an equipment setup that’ll last you until you can obtain your ideal armor. From here, you can start the Volkihar or Dark Brotherhood questlines or continue with the Main Quest. You might also be at a high enough level to grab some other artifacts (the Mace of Molag Bal and Oghma Infinium come to mind).

    Closing Remarks

    - In case you were curious, excluding Otar, there are a total of twelve artifacts being used.
    - Credit for the perk spread image goes to NobodyBeast.
    - If some of you are getting a sense of déjà vu from the build, it’s because Skalvar posted a Quarra build a while back, but since the build (and Skalvar himself) have disappeared from the blog, I decided to make one myself.
    - As always, if you liked this, then be sure to check out my other builds to see more!

  • Member
    December 21, 2013

    I have to say Albino, I think you really have outdone yourself this time. I tried to make a Quarra build once, but it is nothing compared to this. Mine was much closer to Skalvar's with more unarmed instead of abusing Vampire Lord form. But this is great. I love the thematic and mechanical synergy here. The vampiric weapons really fit well for a clan that is known for their brute strength and I never noticed how well they all compliment each other. My only problem is something you alluded to, it is very much an endgame build. With the heavy use of artifacts and high level, it was an initial turn off. But I think the ends justifies the means and the waiting would be well worth it. Great job man.

  • Member
    December 21, 2013

    Comfound it Albino I just started JakeG's Shieldknight and you drop this on me D: Curses yet another build I must play! +1 btw reallly wicked vampire build!

  • December 21, 2013

    You've out done yourself. This is brilliant. And you can steal Harkon's sword from the get go? That is awesome. Easy +1. 

  • Member
    December 21, 2013

    Glad you liked this! I was definitely proud of this build myself. This guy does take longer than I'd like for it to come together, but on the other hand, a lot of the artifacts can be obtained by level 20 or so. The only major exceptions are the Ebony Mail (level 30) and the Ebony Helmet/Boots/Gauntlets (unenchanted variants don't start showing up in leveled lists until level 32, with enchanted variants showing up a level later), however, Otar with a set of Steel Plate Armor is an effective substitute until then.

  • Member
    December 21, 2013

    Lol I'm sorry about that :P

    I actually meant to post this guy a couple days ago but then I started watching Ghost in the Shell and got distracted Glad you liked it though!

  • Member
    December 21, 2013

    Yep, that's what UESP says. Unfortunately, I didn't find out about this until after I completed the Volkihar questline, but oh well. Still, I'm glad you liked the build!

  • December 21, 2013
    Hahaha, looks like you beat me to this, good job, couldn't have don't it better myself. I'd like to see you beat me to Berne and Vraseth :P
  • Member
    December 21, 2013


    Nah, I'm not planning on Berne/Vraseth builds, so they're all yours.

  • Member
    December 21, 2013

    Level 20 isn't too bad actually. With the selective skills, this character will actually start to play how you expect it to pretty early on I'm assuming. It just won't have the true aesthetics until later. Regardless, you surely should be proud of this one!