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Character Build: The Askelde Man

Tags: #Race:Nord  #Character Build Warrior  #Character Build Scout  #Character Build Assassin  #Rank:Mythic  #Hall of Fame Build 
  • Member
    March 27, 2014

    “…to the man each was smeared

    With ash of a Brother's bone, blood and beard

    These ashen brutes, the Askelde Men

    Set to a gruesome task, each bowstring bent…” – from the Song of the Askelde Men

    The in-game book “Song of the Askelde Men” describes the after-death experience of an Imperial soldier killed by Nordic ambushers. Nothing of these “Askelde Men” is known apart from hints in this text, described as a traditional Nordic song. But the word “Askelde” corresponds roughly with the words “ash” and “fire” – a fitting name for devotees of the Ash King Wulfharth (also known as Ysmir, Dragon of the North) who adorn themselves with the ashes of their slain brethren and bring fire and death to enemies of their land.

    This build envisions the Askelde Men as a rough band of harrowers and raiders, who stalk their prey under cover of night and strike with explosive fury in the name of Wulfharth, a First-Era king of Skyrim who “submitted Skyrim to a fiery reinstatement of the traditional Nordic pantheon, destroying Alessian temples and forcing the remnants of its priesthood to seek refuge in the Heartland.” (Source:

    These guys know how to hold a grudge.

    The Askelde Man is a skulking warrior and ambusher, who prefers to dispatch his enemies with a surprise axe to the skull or a silent arrow to the throat. If an alarm is raised, he will call upon the fire granted him by Ysmir to blast his foes and use his speed and skill to cut his way out. Retreat is fine – the goal is to kill your enemies, not to die honorably.

    “…upon a sky-flung cliff in Hjaalmarch Hold…”

    The Build

    Race: Nord.

    Stone: Thief, Warrior, Lord or Lady are all fitting for the concept. The Thief stone covers most of the relevant skills, while the Warrior stone allows One-Handed to keep pace with the rest. The Lord offers some protection for an otherwise low magic resistance and AR, and the Lady grants a slight edge in combat, nicely simulating the endurance and almost inhuman drive of the Askelde Men.

    Attributes: 0:1:1 Magicka:Health:Stamina. You may find it useful to slightly favor Health, but Stamina is needed when sprinting away from (or toward) enemies, bashing and power attacking.

    Major Skills: Sneak, Archery, One-Handed

    Minor Skills: Light Armor, Alchemy

    Level 23 Perks

    Sneak: Stealth (2/5), Backstab, Muffled Movement, Light Foot, Silent Roll

    Archery: Overdraw (3/5), Critical Shot (1/3), Hunter’s Discipline, Ranger, Eagle Eye, Power Shot

    One-Handed: Armsman (3/5), Fighting Stance, Savage Strike, Critical Charge

    Light Armor: Agile Defender (2/5)

    This is a quick and dirty build – a lot like the gameplay, in fact. A focus on stealth allows the Askelde Man to shine from very early on, especially once the Backstab perk is unlocked.

    The core skill of the Askelde Man – and the skill that will level the fastest – is Sneak. Still, you don’t need everything here. Backstab is essential for cutting down unsuspecting foes with your war axe, but I prefer to avoid Deadly Aim. A high Sneak skill, coupled with the default x2 sneak attack bow multiplier, will be plenty. On the left side of the tree, Silence is useful but not strictly necessary thanks to the speed already offered by Silent Roll.

    Archery is a signature of the Askelde Man. At higher levels, you may wish to fill out the rest of this tree, but I avoided Steady Hand and Quick Draw, if only to keep the character from feeling like too much of a bow-master. Power Shot accentuates the Askelde Man’s brutishness, and Ranger his speed.

    It is nowhere mentioned what the Askelde Men used for melee, but One-Handed seems reasonable: it allows for quick strikes, stealthy hits and easy transport. A war axe is simple, brutal, and effective, offering a good balance between speed, damage, and stagger chance – the kind of weapon a rustic might take up in defense of his homeland from foreign invaders.

    The minor skills presented here are really minor, but would come into their own at higher levels. I’m an unabashed devotee of the fur armor aesthetic, and it fits perfectly for a wild, ash-smeared ambusher. Only the base perks are chosen, since the Askelde Man has no need of a helmet (which thus renders most of the tree useless), but putting a few points here gives him some staying power when a night raid doesn’t go as planned.

    No perks are shown for Alchemy, though I did create some healing potions and paralysis poisons (you’ll be collecting a lot of briarhearts…). This is the one crafting skill that would suit the Askelde Man, who is both woodcrafty enough to make use of the bounty of the land and bloodthirsty enough to make use of the remains of his defeated foes. It’s a solid choice for players who want to take their character into the higher levels.

    Tireless they went, over heath and hill…”


    Because this is a stealth character, equipment is secondary. For half of my playthrough, I was using a simple Iron War Axe – in fact, the very weapon you pull off Gunjar in Helgen. The look – simple, even crude – is perfect for the character. But eventually you’ll want something better. Skyforged steel is one option. I found a Honed Draugr War Axe both thematically fitting and aesthetically brutal.

    You’ll be using the initial Longbow and Hunting Bow for a few in-game days, but head west and you’ll soon pry a Forsworn Bow from the hands of a dead Reachman. It has a nice look and is fast and effective.

    For higher-level play, Nordic weaponry is a very good option.

    The fur armor the Askelde Man wears will get some boost from the Light Armor perks and skill improvements. Once again, as is usual for my characters, armor was chosen entirely for aesthetic. A stealthy character has little need for AR, however, and the decent health pool means he’s unlikely to be one-shot (at least on Adept, where I play). Hide or scaled bracers and boots accompany the main piece – enchanted, if you can find useful enchants (anything that fortifies your skills or relevant attributes, obviously).

    An Amulet of Talos and Stamina- or Health-improving ring would round out the attire, but don’t sweat it if you can’t find just the right stuff.

    He bellowed ancient words, his beard aflame…”

    Shouts: Fire Breath, with Aura Whisper and Storm Call as secondary choices.

    The Askelde Men don’t appear to be masters of the Thu’um, but they know some of the old lore. Fire Breath is the mainstay shout, suggested by the Song and by the Askelde Men’s devotion to Ysmir. It’s great for adding a little extra punch during a long battle, or for staggering a stubborn foe. Aura Whisper is also fitting for the playstyle of a patient stalker. And given Ysmir’s association with storms, Storm Call could be seen as a final, thundering call to the heavens for aid.

    “…Soon finding our camp, bloated with prey…”


    Very few questlines are fitting for the guerrilla-style raids of the Askelde Man. I chose to avoid the Stormcloaks in my playthrough, since many of the Civil War quests involve open combat. But this would be the most appropriate of the major questlines to follow to completion.

    The Main Quest is necessary to some degree, since you’ll need dragons in the world in order to make even minimal use of Fire Breath. If you want all 3 words of the shout, you’ll need to progress quite a bit farther. I decided not to even visit the Graybeards. That meant I had only the first 2 words of Fire Breath, but it saved me from a lot of the silliness of that questline (though slaughtering the inhabitants of the Thalmor Embassy might have some appeal) – and 2 words was plenty.

    You’ll need to join the Companions in order to unlock one of the other words of Fire Breath. Fortunately, this can be done fairly early, with little fuss. Talking to Skjor for your jobs will sometimes net you a Forsworn bounty, which is a perfect fit for this character. But after Dustman’s Cairn, I dropped the questline, as getting involved with guild politics was of zero importance to this guy, and Beast Form (and the associated Hircine pact) seems at odds with devotion to Ysmir and true Nordic ways.

    Among the miscellaneous quests, Missing In Action, the quest to rescue the Stormcloak Thorald from Northwatch Keep, is practically designed for this build.

    In the end, though, the Askelde Man has a higher calling than any quest-giver in Skyrim: to drive out from the land of his fathers “Orc and Elf and traitor men.” The following make good targets:

    -Orc strongholds (though the chief of Largashbur is unfortunately essential) and Cracked Tusk Keep.

    -Forsworn. You can spend much of your time hunting Reachmen in the hills.

    -Imperial camps. The trick here is attacking at night, since the Legates are essential and can’t be killed. Take out the watchmen with your bow, then move in with axe in hand to execute the rest.

    -Imperial legionaries or Thalmor, wherever you find them. The wandering squads are a frequent encounter, but you'll also find these types in some cities, where figuring out the best time to strike and run can be a thrilling game in itself - and one that often results in a bounty. Well, if the milk-drinking Imperial lawmakers want to set a price for the lives of their lackeys, the Askelde Man is happy to run the risk.

    "These honored dead shed blood upon the fen

    Ending Orc and Elf and traitor men."

    You’ll notice that almost all of these targets are aboveground. The Askelde Man isn’t a dedicated dungeon delver, and only needs to enter 2 underground locations to acquire his Fire Breath shout. Beyond that, I found that dungeon-diving took away from the primary drive of this character, which isn’t about accumulating wealth or powers but brutally killing those he sees as trespassers.

    It’s fairly liberating playing a character who doesn’t give a damn about coin, who doesn’t care about collecting artifacts, who scorns quests and rewards in general, and who doesn’t need to constantly upgrade his gear – he can get by with his own cunning and strength. (It’s also a drastically different style for a player who normally doesn’t sneak around murdering “innocent” NPCs.)

    Take up your axe, string your bow, and utter a prayer to Kyne for a moonless, cloudy night. Foes are afoot, but Skyrim has rough men ready to shed blood on her behalf…

    "Hear us, our ancestor, Ash King, Ysmir

    Honor this warband as we to glory repair

    Those dead to whom you spoke and heard

    We bear them upon us, Your valor conferred"


  • Member
    March 27, 2014

    Strong RP, lore galore, great presentation, not overpowered, and, most importantly, it looks like damn good fun. This is why you're one of my favorites.

  • March 27, 2014
    *claps hands* very good! +1 I like how he has enemies set, but what about allies? (Not talking about followers) is there anyone the Askelde Man could call ally?
  • Member
    March 27, 2014

    Just epic! This has just  become one of my most favorite builds on the blog! Great job! I really hope this makes it to at least exemplar!

    Bravo my friend, Bravo!

  • Member
    March 28, 2014

    Another fantastic build. Like Black Bolt said you are easily one of my favorite character builders Paul.

  • Member
    March 28, 2014

    Well, the Stormcloaks would certainly be an ally.  I just chose not to join them because their methods are often very different than the Askelde Man's.  I picture the Askelde Men as a loose brotherhood of disaffected Nords, guerrilla fighters who prefer to stay outside of a rigid military hierarchy.  I also imagine that Ulfric would be perfectly happy letting these guys terrorize Imperials on their own terms.  Their loyalties are to Ysmir/Wulfharth more than to any current political leader anyway - he'd probably just be glad they're on his side!

    But yeah, it's a fairly lonely character you could say.  During my playthrough, this character hardly spoke to anyone.  It was always about stalking over that next ridge and finding another victim. 

    I didn't mention it in the build proper, but this if you play it that way, this can make for a very fast playthrough - it's a perfect character for just letting off some steam for an hour or two when you get home from work.  The playstyle is just so straightforward, and the character's motivation is so brutally direct. 

  • Member
    March 28, 2014
    I love this build! I've been looking for something like this for ages but I couldn't find anything until now. I like how you make weak equipment viable, not sure how it's going to be on expert though (where I play). I think I'm going to include Lycanthropy though, because I've wanted to play a werewolf build for ages even though the lore doesn't fit, I'll just make something up! Oh yeah +1
  • Member
    March 28, 2014

    Thanks for the comments, everyone.  When I read that book in-game recently, it just cried out for its own build.  I was surprised to see nobody had already done this (but glad to be the first to get there!)

  • Member
    March 28, 2014

    I love that lore inspires you directly into making builds. With my Clever Man playthrough, I plan on making good use of the Arcanaeum for once. I'm hoping to read all the good stories this time around.

    As for this Askelde Man build, its beautiful in its simplicity. Any time I run something tribal like this it feels out of place and uninspired. And they end up being cannibalistic against wizards for funsies. But you nailed it with lore, and your writing does really sell your ideas. I was elated to see another build of yours so quickly lol.

  • Member
    March 28, 2014

    Heh, yeah, this one was a pretty quick run.