Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: Rise of the Fallen

Tags: #Character Build Knight  #Character Build Necromancer  #Character Build Enchanter  #Rank:Legendary 
  • February 11, 2014

    Aesthetically, Blades gear is amazing but its rarity and lack of synergy with crafting perks often makes it an underused set.  Although the Blades themselves are key players in the Skyrim main quest they have a fairly poor shelf life for role-play and quests but they still have one or two unique features that can be capitalised on if you care to look hard enough.

    Rise of the Fallen

    Race: Nord

    Stone: Mage & Lord

    Major Skills: Heavy Armor, Conjuration, One Handed, Archery.

    Minor Skills: Smithing, Enchanting, Restoration.

    Weapons: Blades Katana

    Armor: Blades Armor

    Recommended Quests: Silenced Tongues, Main Quest, College of Winterhold, Dawnguard, The Whispering Door, The Wolf Queen Awakens, Frostflow Abyss, Ironbind Barrow.

    Shouts: Unrelenting Force, Become Ethereal.

    The Build

    Arguably the most creative spell you can use in Skyrim is the master conjuration tome Dead Thrall; few spells can compare to the feeling you get when you successfully vanquish and raise a powerful corpse to fight by your side indefinitely.

    The problem with thralls comes when you start trying to get trendy with their equipment using the crafting skills, they will only ever use the default equipment they were originally born in and this can create problems when you’re trying to generate an ‘ultimate thrall’.

    It’s right here where the Blades absolutely shine. When you select a follower to be inducted into the Blades their default equipment gets changed forever into duplicating sets of Blades gear, a full set of rare heavy armor with a chest piece that’s even stronger than ebony in terms of protection!

    For me, these specifically chosen followers become absolutely irresistible targets for high powered necromancy. There is simply no joy in leaving them up at Sky Haven Temple rotting with Delphine, so they’re going to have an unfortunate accident and we’re going to be taking them with us for some fun!

    For this build we’ll be assuming the role of a Blade general and forming an undead wrecking crew of deadly Akaviri warriors. Our characters combat skills have been chosen to mirror the classic Blade fighter while magical abilities are dedicated to both raising and supporting your horde in battle. Crafting skills will be used to improve the statistics of weapons and armor for yourself and your army.

    Battles are transformed into a visual feast of epic carnage! Once you bear witness to your minions swarming into a heavily populated dungeon there is simply no turning back.

    The build concept is pretty simple so let’s get straight into some of the things you actually need to know. You can only recruit 3 followers into the Blades which make them a fairly rare commodity; you should pick these inductees carefully and pay attention to their individual strengths and level caps.

    The Dead Thrall spell can raise any humanoid up to level 40 which means it’s going to be absolutely fine for the majority of an average playthrough.  The six followers that come under the title of ‘Hireling’ will all level to 40 making them very good options. Vorstag in particular is a fine choice as he already possesses the Blades skill set, possibly the best 500 gold you’ll ever spend and he makes for a very aggressive thrall.

    At the lower end of the spectrum but with arguably the greatest variety are the miscellaneous followers that you can often find during or after side quests, these will only ever level to 30 which is going to cut into their health pools a little at later levels. However, some of them do come with useful perks; Golldir for example has ‘Well Fitted’ which grants him a 25% bonus to armor rating as well as ‘Tower of Strength’ and ‘Fighting Stance’. Once suited up he’s incredibly powerful and remember that your thralls are also getting a 100 health bonus from the ‘Dark Souls’ perk and are not subject to game difficulty adjustments.

    Housecarls would all be good choices but they unfortunately level to 50, you can use them as a main follower but as a thrall their use will expire at level 40. It’s best to avoid them.

    Although you can get creative by selecting followers with different sets of skills my vision was to have a squad that functioned as a close unit with focus on the Blades primary skills (Heavy Armor, Block, One Handed, Archery).  My past experience with thralls has also taught me to avoid mages as their spells can often lead to friendly fire and infighting with your follower, an unnecessary problem that you really don’t need.

    An unexpected but amusing side effect of this build is the amount of gold your deathly followers will earn for you. Each time you ‘dismiss’ one of your Blades to adjust their armor or recharge their weaponry a courier will arrive to inform you of their death and give you around 300 gold along with a ‘Letter of Inheritance’. According to my inventory Vorstag had ‘died’ around 40 times during the playthrough earning me over 10,000 gold. Consider it a payment for enduring the moaning of your undead.

    For a full list of the games followers including their maximum levels use this page of the UESP to select worthy targets. You’re actually going to bond pretty closely to your undead so choose wisely.

    Eternal Warriors

    Anyone who has used thralls in the past will know the frustrations in keeping your horde working together and stopping them wandering off or dying somewhere. Because we‘re using followers they do seem to have a slightly better AI than usual and will stick pretty closely with you but there is something even better that you can do to ensure that you never lose your precious minions.

    We’re going to sacrifice a miscellaneous quest here called ‘Silenced Tongues’ in order to safeguard the thralls forever. Silenced Tongues takes place in Volunruud which is a Nordic ruin close to Whiterun, it’s a location you will need to visit twice during your thralls creation.

    In Volunruud there are two items that we need our blades followers to have acquired before they become thralls by using follower commands. One is the Ceremonial Axe and the other is the Ceremonial Sword. Make sure you don’t pick them up yourself because these are important quest items.

    Once you are certain that both items are present in each of your followers inventory you can go back to the start of the dungeon and read the journal to activate the ‘Silenced Tongues’ quest (don’t read it before).

    The result is you’ve just permanently marked your two thralls with a toggle-able map marker and quest locked their bodies.

    A giant could club both your thralls to opposite ends of the world map and you would still be able to locate their bodies with absolute precision. I originally intended this to be used in emergencies but it’s actually really useful during combat as well and I found myself leaving the markers on 90% of the time. It’s so useful that I wish it had been implemented into the original game; make sure you don’t miss this step because it will dramatically improve your thrall experience. You can even use Clairvoyance to light a direct path back to your party or a lost corpse, possibly the only use of the spell I’ve ever found.


    Concept and Gameplay


    Level 50 Perk Placement

    After three separate characters including pure sword and board and a two handed ‘ebony blade’ character I settled on this as being the most enjoyable set of skills and perks. During the early levels place perks evenly and prepare your character for tackling the Thalmor Embassy.

     Stat Placement: Magicka - 1 / Health - 3 / Stamina - 1

    Block has been removed simply because enchanting is capable of replacing damage reduction and elemental resistances, your horde will also be cushioning much of the damage. Removing block allows more perks to be placed into archery and so crossbows became a very enjoyable feature for this build as will become clearer in the equipment section.

    The tedious path for the Conditioning perk has been skipped in Heavy Armor, you’ll be fighting as a unit and running ahead of your horde actually works against you. When sprinting is needed however take comfort in using the Respite perk and healing spells to move across longer distances with ease. Tower of Strength can be a nice perk when combined with the ‘Force without effort’ meditation allowing for 75% stagger resistance, we’ll be going far enough into the main quest to make this combination worth the time and of course crossbow staggers will also be nicely extended by 25%.

    Enchanting and smithing can be daunting skills but in this case we’re going to let our horde do the work. They can do all the heavy lifting in dwarven ruins, carrying huge quantities of materials back to the forge and they can even gather souls for us with crossbows enchanted with soul trap. Neither of the crafting skills need to be prioritised, you have all the time in the world to get them right and an unlimited number of blades armor sets to practice on.

    Conjuration on the other hand is our most important skill. During the early levels lavish use of Raise Zombie is advised for levelling and use soul trap when possible to fill up some gems and create some early enchantments for you and your follower. We need 100 here for our thralls so locate any skill books and even consider completing ‘Discerning the Transmundane’ and selecting the path of magic to put you closer to the goal.

    Restoration has been kept simple enough but as we’ll be taking the Dawnguard path we have no way of buying the Heal Undead adept level spell unfortunately. For healing thralls you will need Necromantic Healing found during the ‘Awakening’ quest. Taking the Necromage perk along with ‘Sailors Repose’ will increase healing speed by 35%.


    Draconis Bladesium

    Akaviri armor and weaponry has a rich history. It’s crafted using a blend of rare ores to create a material known as draconis bladesium, an alloy likely created for the sole purpose of hunting and destroying dragons. The recipe for its creation is now lost which possibly explains why Blades armor isn’t linked to a specific smithing perk. When you don blades armor you’re actually wearing something pretty special.

    The first set can be picked up from the armory on your first visit to Sky Haven Temple, feel free to add some mediocre enchantments to it during the early levels to improve spell casting and offense. It’s normally the only set freely available in the game but thanks to our thralls we can very easily duplicate more sets of the armor anytime we like.

    To create a duplicate set of armor simply strip one of your blade thralls and travel to a new location. Consider creating some jewellery with smithing enchantments for tempering the armor at a forge and remember that your normal follower will need a set too. The Blades Sword remains a slightly rarer item, there are an additional 6 swords in the armory at Sky Haven Temple and they do seem to re-stock after ten days.

    The Rattlecage

    "The links of this dark armor whisper hauntingly. Previous owners have been plagued with insomnia and the feeling of being constantly watched by an unknown presense."

    Fortify Conjuration 40%

    Fortify Magicka Regen 10%



    Pale Pass

    "These helms once protected the first Akaviri invaders as they held the walls of Pale Pass. Although their efforts eventually proved futile their higher calling was found during this battle and the few helms remaining are now priceless artefacts"

    Fortify Archery 40%

    Fortify Restoration 25%



    Grave Riders

    "Originally created out of respect for the dead, these boots were crafted to protect the wearer while overseeing funeral pyres during longer crusades. It was only later that their combat applications were truly discovered."


    Resist Fire 37%




    "Prized gauntlets handed down through many of the Blades Grandmasters. Gorepalm vastly enhances their owners prowess in combat and have witnessed some of the most memorable battles in history."

    Fortify One Handed 40%

    Fortify Block 40%


    "Although constructed from simple materials Doomslinger can overcome any resistances and has pierced the hide of countless wyrms."

    Chaos Damage 25pts

    Fire Damage 10pts

    Soul Trap




    "Named after the original Blades warriors of the first era. Dragonguard was forged with the sole purpose of protecting its bearer from any manner of dragon."

    Resist Magic 45%





    "A holy relic that grants the wearer additional skill in the healing arts. Former owners of Halcyon are also reported to have lived far longer than they should."

    Fortify Restoration 25%

    Fortify Health 60pts



    The Stone of Reman

    "An ancient ring said to have been owned by the founding father of the Blades. Its powers grant a strong arm and an even keener mind."

    Fortify One Handed 40%

    Fortify Magicka Regeneration 60pts




    Of all the enchantments available in the game Muffle is definitely the most useful to this build. It keeps you and your horde together in dungeons and caves by stopping your thralls getting distracted by distant enemies that may have detected you. Muffle is unfortunately a very hard enchantment to find and you can easily go through the whole game and never spot it. It becomes available at merchants at level 11 so you can try and track it down then before your level gets too high or you can get a guaranteed drop of the enchantment using the daedric recipe at the Atronach Forge once you have the Sigil Stone. Understand that the enchantment isn’t essential but it’s highly desirable.

    Thralls can only use normal or enhanced steel crossbows but unlike your living follower they get unlimited crossbow bolts. Equipping both your thralls with exploding crossbow bolts provides great entertainment and allows you to loot additional explosive ammo after combat.

    Thralls are very particular about their outfits. When the time comes to upgrade your thrall with better enchantments or tempering their gear make sure you don’t mix up their pieces of armor, treat each thrall separately and imagine that each set was custom forged for them. Renaming items using enchanting is a great way to separate your thralls gear before heading to a forge to temper it and allows you to get pretty creative.

    Thralls and followers only benefit from a specific line of enchantments; I’m going to list the best ones to use here. Although fortified health regeneration sounds like a good idea on paper, thralls regenerate at such a low rate that it’s probably not worth an enchantment slot.

    Muffle – A silent horde is invaluable in tight dungeons, it’s a game changing enchantment if you’re lucky enough to acquire it.

    Resist Magic – Great resistance from dragon breath and enemy mages, use the Shield of Solitude enchantment on shields for up to 45% magic resistance (Dragonguard). The Wolf Queen Awakens is a beautifully wrote quest! I never need an excuse to go and do that one, go and enjoy it.

    Fortify Block – A solid enchantment for gauntlets, thralls use their shields plenty during close combat and make good use of this one.

    Resist Fire/Frost /Shock – A good secondary enchantments for boots, my thralls were already frost resistant Nords so Resist Fire was the optimal choice.

    Resist Poison – A very decent torso enchantment for followers and thralls protecting them from poison dart traps and all manners of Chaurus and Falmer.

    Fortify Health – It’s a no brainer, improves the survivability of your thralls from all sources of damage.

    Weapon enchantments are the most direct way of granting your army additional damage. It’s best to experiment on different magnitudes here because although highly enchanted swords will clear dungeons faster you will have to stop and recharge your thrall’s equipment more often. Absorption weaponry is excellent at maintaining health but can burn through charges very quickly. Either way you’re going to be recharging four times more than normal making Soul Squeezer a desirable perk from the enchanting tree.

    Although I’m hesitant to admit this, a 25pt Chaos enchantment is actually a very economical option with its high damage/low recharge rates. Weapons enchanted with fiery soul trap make a perfect budget choice or you can even get extra creative with fear or turn undead…

    Thrall Management

    Although we do get a lot of control over our small army there are still some methods you can use to improve the efficiency of your horde during combat and questing. Although they rarely do go wrong it’s still important to know what to do if the worst happens.

    • Thralls possess the same tracking mechanics as a horse which means that if you fast travel to a city your thralls will amusingly be stabled outside and may take a few extra moments to reach the Dragonborns location, if they don’t arrive it’s because they have decided to take a little ‘extra rest’ and you may have to go and give their carcass a little kick when you’re ready to continue questing.
    • Unlike your primary follower you get much more control over your thralls combat options by adjusting their equipment. Removing ranged weaponry from a thrall’s inventory will leave them with one option during combat….all out attack! And attack they will, a thrall without his bow/crossbow will simply go on the rampage at the first sign of trouble.
    • In some dungeons a gate will close as you enter the final boss room (eg: Dead Man’s Respite) and lock you’re thralls and follower out behind you. Use Unrelenting Force on your horde to physically steer them into lockable areas before you enter them yourself. The damage is usually very minor as long as there isn’t a steep slope involved.
    • You can check the current health of a thrall at any time with a quick tap from your shield. Keep an eye on their health, especially around traps which cause them significantly more damage than they do your own character.
    • When travelling in the wilderness it’s nearly always best to avoid crossing troublesome terrain like mountains that your thralls could struggle with and control your movement speed so you don’t run too far ahead.  An old myth about undead is that they can’t cross running water and this is definitely true of Skyrims dead thralls, they don’t like rivers and will tend to avoid getting wet if they can help it.
    • Thralls can turn nasty, I know this from past experience and the last thing you want is one of your high powered thralls in enchanted legendary blades armor suddenly deciding that it no longer wants to serve under you command. They become exceedingly powerful at later levels, quickly dismiss your thrall using the Conjure Familiar spell at the first sign of any mutiny.
    • Captain Gjalund doesn’t like undead stowaways on his ship when you first travel to Solsthiem. Luckily thralls are buoyant and will happily bob along beside the ship as you sail east. They can be found floating safely in the Raven Rock docks upon your arrival.


    No 'Transformers' were harmed during the making of this build.

    Amidianborn Blades Armor by CaBaL

    Music: ‘Heart of Courage’ by Two Steps from Hell

  • February 11, 2014

    Hehe! I didn't kill him, I got my meditation but that was about as far as I took the main quest (so far). Glad I'm corrupting you and yes the markers are awesome, I don't think I'll be able to use the spell without them in the future...

  • February 11, 2014

    Artwork isn't all me, hopefully it's obvious which images I didn't do but I'll try to track down and credit the authors, both from wallpaper sites which makes it tough sometimes.

    Thanks though Sam, it is OP and there is alot here not to like (main quest/crafting/blades/conjuration) but I hope some of the info is useful (it started to turn into more of a thrall guide to be honest).

  • February 11, 2014

    You can use the Ebony Blade if you like, this character is in a perfect position to use it with having followers to power it up quickly. Or you can give it to one of your thralls to use to keep them safe,  Stenvar would be good!

    I kept it and sometimes used it un-perked (enchantment only) it's very good for heavy armor levelling.

  • February 11, 2014

    Thanks mate, it is good fun!

    Ahhh! The art isn't mine...


    ...not me....

    ...definitely not me!

    I'll go try and credit the artwork now.

  • Member
    February 11, 2014

    So what IS your primary weapon then? I was just wondering because I didn't see any mention of what it is in the equipment section, but one of your recommended quests results in the ebony blade.

  • Member
    February 11, 2014

    I like the way this build was presented, but I find the build itself a bit boring.

  • February 11, 2014

    At the top of the build I listed the standard blades sword as primary...

    I also run around waving one for about 10 minutes in the

  • Member
    February 11, 2014

    Whoops. My bad.  Did you enchant the blade katana in any fashion then?

  • Member
    February 11, 2014
    It's finally here! So glad I'm not working today...can't wait to start this up. Looks great mason.