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Character Build: The Wraith Ranger

Tags: #Race:Nord  #Character Build Witchhunter  #Character Build Bound Weapons  #Character Build Vampire  #Rank:Legendary 
  • Member
    January 17, 2014

    When a hero has fallen down the dark path, there are two ways he may choose. He either embraces the darkness he faces and becomes the ultimate villain or he overcomes his personal darkness and swears to rid out what destroyed him. The following character is the interesting path in the middle, embracing the power and using it to destroy the source of its darkness. I proudly present to you…

    The Wraith Ranger

    ‘Soon it will be two winters ago, since my family was slain by a group of feral vampires. I should have died that day with my beloved ones, but a dark spirit brought me back from the dead and granted me dark powers. I can feel that this spirit wants to overtake me, but I learned to control it, to live with it. Through these two years I learned to embrace my supernatural powers and now, as I am undead, I will use my power to avenge my family’

    Race: Vampire Nord or Breton

    Gender: Male

    Standing Stone: Lover Stone for leveling, later Ritual Stone

    Stats: 2/3/2 (Level 50: 250/310/240)

    Major Skills: Archery, Illusion, Conjuration

    Minor Skills: One-Handed, Light Armor, Sneak

    Armor: Linwe’s Hood, Vampire Armor (dark grey), Linwe’s Gauntlets, Linwe’s Boots

    Weapons: Bound Bow, Dawnbreaker

    Spells:  Fear, Fury, Conjure Bound Bow, Summon Arniel’s Shade

    Shouts: Become Ethereal, Slow Time, Whirlwind Sprint, Aura Whisper, Call of Valor, Bend Will

    Powers/Effects: Spectral Assassin, Eternal Spirit, Nightingale Strife

    Recommened Quests: Main Quest, The Dawnguard, The Dark Brotherhood, The Thieves Guild (mainly for Linwe’s Gear and the Nightingale power), Arniel’s Endeavour (College of Winterhold), The Forbidden Legend 

    The Build

    The initial idea of this build was motivated by the upcoming game ’Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor’. At the moment there is not much information available on this game except some of the main character’s abilities and the setting. This means also that this build is not an exact recreation of the game.

    Role-play wise, the concept of a possessed hero opens a lot of different ways in Skyrim, supporting the idea of the ranger’s duality and the personality of the wraith inhabiting his body, which results in a moral conflict and personal struggles.

    Vampirism can be greatly used to role-play the possession and the augmented power from it, as it boosts all the important skills of the Wraith Ranger, changes his physical appearance and is considered a curse. Get infected as early as possible!

    Level 25 Perk Spread here

    Level  50 Perk Spread

    Now, let’s take a look at the skills of the Wraith Ranger. Having only 6 skills, 2 of each skill group, makes it easy to keep attention on all the needed skills and level them almost evenly. For this build, the Lovers Stone will be most useful for that purpose. Leaving aside any crafting skills, lets you start even earlier with the build without wasting hours of gameplay into grinding skills.  

    As the Wraith Ranger has been a guardian of the forest for the largest part of his life, he is a skillful swordsman and archer. The spirit granted him the ability to conjure a dark and powerful bow from the ethereal planes with the ability to trap the souls of targets and turn undead creatures. He is also skilled in sneaking through enemy territory and evading deadly traps.

    The following part explains the three key concepts of this build:

    Mind-control: This concept is based on the various illusion spells. May it be fear spells, to send enemies fleeing in terror, or fury spells, to use enemies to fight against their own group, controlling the enemies is a powerful method to decimate groups of enemies and demonstrates greatly the wraith’s influence of on the ranger’s power. With his voice, the Wraith Ranger can command enemies for a short time. They will fight for him and protect him.

    Required: Illusion Dual Casting, Fear, Fury, Bend Will (Second Word)

    Wraith State: The ranger embraces entirely the spirit’s abilities and enters a coexisting plane to attack or evade his enemies.  This state has 4 different forms: the ranger can either take an ethereal shape for a few seconds, slow down time and the world around him or sense the life energy of close enemies. The last state allows the Wraith Ranger to separate the spirit from his body and project it in a visible form to attack enemies.

    Requires: Become Ethereal, Slow Time, Aura Whisper, Summon Spectral Assassin

    Resurrecting the dead/ Conjuration: The Wraith Ranger uses Conjuration spells but only to summon his Wraith Bow, which is powered by the spirit to absorb souls and turn the undead.To resurrect the fallen enemies, the Wraith Ranger will use the Ritual power granted by the wraith.

    Requires: Conjure Bound Bow, Mystic Binding, Soul Stealer, Oblivion Binding, Ritual Stone

    I chose the Ritual Stone over Necromancy spells to keep it as a powerful yet unique ability to underline that the spirit is empowering the Wraith Ranger.




    Head- Linwe’s Hood-Bows do 15% more damage

    Armor- Vampire Armor of Conjuration-Fortify Conjuration/Fortify Regenerate Magicka

    Hands- Linwe’s Gauntlets-One-handed attacks do 15% more damage

    Feet- Linwe’s Boots- Sneaking is 15 % better

    Necklace- The Gauldur Amulet +30 on Magicka/Health/Stamina

    Ring: Ring of Archery (any level)


    • Long Bow, until you reached Fort Amol to get the Bound Bow (on the picture is a Daedric Bow)
    • Dawnbreaker


    The Wraith Ranger wears a dark grey Vampire Armor, enchanted with Fortify Conjuration/Regenerate Magicka. You can get this armor as soon as vampires spawn. To get Linwe’s Hood/Gauntlets/Boots, the Wraith Ranger needs to join the Thieves Guild and complete the random quests given by Delvin Mallory until the quest ‘Summerset Shadows’ becomes available. The combination of the black vampire armor with Linwe’s gear is the perfect look for a dark hero, such as the Wraith Ranger. As all the gear is already enchanted, we won’t need to spend perk points in Enchanting. This character isn't going to have a high armor rating towards the endgame, so you may want to use some Flesh spells from the Alteration school to boost the defenses.

    Role Play

    Duality - A matter of personality

    First, to proper role-play the Wraith Ranger, we need to find out who the spirit is and what his goals are.

    The wraith was once a member of the Dark Brotherhood. He was assigned to kill the Emperor, but his mission failed and he deserted. Other members of the Dark Brotherhood hunted him down and brought him to justice. Before his death, he was cursed by the Night Mother, to never find rest unless his task is fulfilled. He was bound to the mortal world in an ethereal form. When the wraith saw the Ranger dying in the night of the vampire attacks, he took his chances, revived the fallen Ranger and dominated him. In his new living body the spirit is seeking now to fulfill his task and forces the Wraith Ranger to join the Dark Brotherhood.

    Clearly, the wraith and the ranger have different personal goals. While the spirit enjoys killing, the Wraith Ranger only kills as a mean of hunting but never for pleasure. They both depend on each other in order to reach their goals.


    Choosing the right allies

    His pursuit of revenge brings the Wraith Ranger to the Dawnguard, a Vampire Hunter order.

    Joining the Dawnguard will give you a whole fort of powerful allies. The only problem is, your spirit needs to be unbound from your body before joining them (before the quest ‘New Order’). Travel to Morthal and find Falion. He may be an expert on vampires, necromancy and wraiths but he is only able to soul trap the spirit for limited time as the spirit is very powerful and an evenly matched soul is needed (which is hard to come by). After the Wraith Ranger gained his mortality back, he seeks out Meridia’s Shrine to get her blessing and protection. With the banishment of the spirit, the Wraith Ranger’s powers disappear also. He won’t be able to use mind-control, wraith state and conjuration.  

    While you are deprived of your powers, you should use the time to complete several quests to get the gear together, mostly the Gauldur Amulet and Dawnbreaker.



    In this play-through I gave Dawnbreaker a special role for role-playing. Firstly, it deals a good amount of damage to vampires and undead creatures and has the ability to activate an AoE spell on any undead enemies, even on the Wraith Ranger. He uses this sword to suppress the dark spirit whenever he fights savagely against vampires and is threatened to be fully overtaken by the spirit.

    Secondly, Dawnbreaker is also a symbol of the Ranger’s human side and his hope to unbind the spirit from his soul once and for all.

    Rebirth of Evil

    During the Dawnguard questline, the Wraith Ranger will travel to the Soul Cairn. As this is the place where the spirit was banished, the dark wraith will find his way back to the ranger’s body. With the return of the spirit, the Wraith Ranger will gain back his powers and he will be stronger than before. As the wraith came back to the ranger from the Soul Cairn, he will be now forever bound to the Wraith Ranger.

    Right before entering the Soul Cairn, you accept to be turned into a vampire by Serana.


    Projecting the ethereal

    As already mentioned, the Wraith Ranger will gain the ability to control and project the wraith to an ethereal form or he may even take the shape of a wraith. These abilities can be perfectly role-played with shouts, spells and unique powers.

    Become Ethereal: The Wraith Ranger takes the shape of a wraith for 18 seconds. He will be invulnerable to any damage but also unable to make damage. The magic effect ‘Eternal Spirit’ allows the Wraith Ranger to regenerate health while in ethereal form. 

    Call of Valor: This shout summons a wraith warrior (one word), a wraith mage (two words) or a wraith juggernaut (three words) for 60 seconds. Use this shout against undead enemies.

    Summon Arniel’s Shade: After helping Arniel Gane, he will teach the Wraith Ranger the technique to conjure the wraith outside of his body for 60 seconds. The wraith will look like Arniel as he developed this ability.Use this spell against dragons.

    Summon Spectral Assassin: This ability will summon the wraith in his original and strongest form. The wraith will follow the Wraith Ranger until it is defeated. This ability can be used once per day.

    Use this power against standard enemies, but beware, the ghost will not sneak with you.


    The Vendetta

    The Wraith Ranger will hunt every undead creature he finds to heal the pain his family’s death has caused. Hunting lesser vampires and Draugr will be quite easy but the real enemies are the powerful undead and Dragon Priests. To prevail against them, the Wraith Ranger will need to make full use of the spirit’s powers. The ultimate goal is to kill the Vampire Lord Harkon. Only his death will destroy the power-hungry vampires and give the Wraith Ranger what his heart desires: ultimate revenge.



    Special Move

    Shadow Strike: The Wraith Ranger attacks quickly from the darkness and absorbs health of his enemies while fading into another plane, out of reach for his enemies.

    This move is a bit hard to get right as it requires quick switching of powers. With a keyboard it can be done by binding the powers to the quick select keys. First you roll out of the shadows behind your enemy and activate the Nightingale Strife. Immediately switch to 'Become Ethereal' via quick selection and activate it. This move can also be combined with Fury spells on a group or instead of 'Become Ethereal' you can use 'Slow Time' to get immediately a clean shot with your bow. 

    Requires: Silent Roll + Nightingale Strife + Become Ethereal 

    Final Words:

    So this is the Wraith Ranger. I had a lot of fun playing this character while role playing both personalities. When the Wraith Ranger is cured of his possession, there is really a loss of power perceptible.

    As much as I loved playing this build, I also loved the writing process and taking the screenshots. It took me quite a while to get everything right, but now I'm satisfied with how it turned out. If you decide to give the Wraith Ranger a run, feel free to give me feedback.

    As I said earlier, this build is not a recreation of 'Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor', it is inspired by this game and as this, the build should be seen.

    Last, but not least, special thanks go to Oneness for taking his time to give me feedback on the build when it was merely an idea. He suggested some great additions and helped me solve some problems I ran to.

    Thank you for reading my work and as always, every comment is appreciated.

  • Member
    January 17, 2014

    It's just so..... great!

  • Member
    January 17, 2014

    Thank you I appreciate it greatly!

  • January 17, 2014
    This is great! I love how you made the quests tell a story for the build and not the simple "kill this and kill that just so you can get X item..." While still obtaining those powers for the character to use! You get followers you don't have to worry about dying and that don't need you equipping or healing to maintain them, and Spectral Assassin does resemble your armor choice! +1 for you!
  • Member
    January 17, 2014

    Thanks for the kind words, man! Glad you like it. It's really incredible when the ghost assassin or any other wraith is summoned, you immediately see the power. It's like doubling yourself. During the play-through I never noticed how the spectral assassin resembles the actual character, only when I took the screenshots I thought, damn they kind of look like each other

  • January 17, 2014
    BTW if your Spectral Assassin fights a disarming bandit or Draugr he may loose his weapon. Not sure if he would pick a new one or just stay bare-handed forever :(
  • Member
    January 17, 2014

    Hmm...Haven't noticed this yet. Guess he would die eventually and you would need to wait 24h to summon a new one.

  • January 17, 2014
    Great Build and a great way to simulate Shadows of Mordor and just so I'm clear do you play as a Vampire Lord or just a normal Vampire.
  • Member
    January 17, 2014

    Thank you for the compliment. No vampire lord here just a normal vampire. Dawnguard and Dragonborn are still required, though.

  • Member
    January 17, 2014

    Wow. Legitimately great build. The progression/story of the character is what separates it from other magical archers. The spectral theme is well done and fleshed out.

    I only have two questions: can you do a lvl25 perk spread just for clarity? And is the vampire hair glitch fixed with Thieves' Guild hoods? I fear if I tried to play this I'd be looking at a balding head the whole time.