Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: The Shadowmancer

Tags: #Character Build Necromancer  #Character Build Nightblade  #Character Build Assassin  #Rank:Legendary 
  • February 14, 2012


    The Shadowmancer: because assassinating and raising the dead are both supremely awesome things in their own right, and combined they only serve to reenforce each other's strengths and eliminate one another's weaknesses. How is a Necromancer supposed to find all those corpses necessary to raise his zombie army? What is an Assassin to do with the trail of dead bodies he's left in his wake? Bingo!



    The only thing more evil than stabbing someone in the back is raising them to do your bidding afterward.


    The Shadowmancer

    Role-play perspective aside, the most successful hybrid builds always seem to be those that combine the gameplay elements of certain class archetypes that have the best synergy with each other. That could mean having the strength of one class make up for another's weakness (your Warrior lack range? Throw some Mage-iness on top with Destruction magic and you've got your run-of-the-mill Spellsword). It could also mean having two classes' similar strengths combine for even greater effect (doesn't everyone and their mother love a good Paladin build not just because of that whole holy knight r.p.'ing thing, but because in a game where avoiding death is always the primary objective, nothing combines toward that ultimate goal of survivability like a Knight's tanking and a Priest's healing?).

    Well, the Shadowmancer runs a goddamn clinic on how to combine elements of different classes that go together like throat-slitting & reanimation peanut butter & jelly. What's a Necromancer's one glaring weakness? The fact that Skyrim isn't just some meatlocker full of fresh bodies laying around at every turn. What class can slit some throats in the blink of an eye and more or less turn Skyrim into said meatlocker on a whim? An assassin. The synergy is apparent and the gameplay is thrilling: gone are the days of backpedaling and hurling ice spell after ice spell at an enemy just to get the ball rolling on your zombie parade.


    Voted most likely Skyrim build to wind up on a death metal album cover


    The Build


    Race: Just about any could work (Breton for the head-start, Dunmer for the Quan Chi-esque look, etc.)

    Stone: Ritual

    Skills: Conjuration, Sneak, One-Handed, Light Armor, Restoration

    Gear: Apprentice Hood + Vampire Armor (black/gray) + Ancient Shrouded Cowl, Gloves & Boots

    Weapon: Bound Dagger

    Shouts: Throw Voice, Become Ethereal, Slow Time

    Spells: Various Raise Undeads & Necromantic Healings


    How awesomely straightforward, no? Only five skills taken, none of which belong to the category of pure tedium known as "crafting." The only thing this build crafts is swift death and the ability to capitalize on it afterward. Between your stealth perks (Assassin's Blade), found gear (Ancient Shrouded Gloves) and clever tactics (Silent Roll + Critical Charge), there isn't an enemy on any difficulty you won't drop in one swift maneuver. And that's when the fun begins: do you continue to dart from enemy to enemy dropping them like flies or begin to raise your army before the remaining enemies become alerted to your presence and barrel down on you? It's a race to accumulate as many corpses as you can before you turn them into your giant meat-shield, hopefully in time not to join their ranks!

    Illusion - and Quiet Casting in particular - are intentionally avoided despite their seeming synergy with stealth casting and assassin types, and Bound Daggers are also deliberately chosen over their silent metal counterparts because of the fact that they make noise, exactly for the purpose of creating some truly exciting, edge-of-your-seat gameplay. Some builds may find enjoyment in being able to sit back in the cover of darkness to cast and kill without repercussion. This build forces you to think and act with haste: add another body to the count as those who remain alive begin to take notice of your presence, or raise those you've already downed and take charge alongside their ranks? Without a large enough tally of corpses you may not be able to overcome the rest of your foes, and yet if you wait too long to begin your necromantic tide-turning, it may just be too late. That kind of high-risk, high-reward scenario you encounter in every battle with this build is sometimes also known more simply as FUN. 

    You'd be emo too if all your friends were dead.


    Level 50 Perk Spread:

    Click Here


    Again, just five very straightforward skills to allow you to jump right into the action without wasting any time. The Ancient Shrouded Set is crucial to this build, whether you want to obtain it by joining the Dark Brotherhood and completing the necessary questline or simply use the Ritual Stone in Hag's End. Necessary double backstab bonus on the gloves and superior stats compared to the regular set aside, the Ancient Shrouded Set's Cowl is the best thing going for any Light Armor build: it's glitched and allows you to wear another hood over it (which is great, since shrouded cowls look god-awful) while still retaining its armor rating and allowing you to benefit from the full-set Light Armor perks! We'll receive some bonus magicka from an enchanted mage hood as a result, and look way better in the process. And taking advantage of the Light Armor perks means that we can hold our own and join in on the fun with our zombie cohorts rather than just have to sit back and cower in the shadows like most Necromancers.

    And so your primary tactics take shape as a natural progression of your gameplay: your most potent offense comes from the ability to stack bonus upon bonus of backstab damage via sneak attacks as well as the strength in numbers of joining your army of darkness once their ranks reach a large enough number to overrun the rest of your foes. Your defense comes from your ability to remain undetected during your initial strike, the utilization of a rather large distraction of zombie minions during the final wave of your attack, and your natural ability to take more of a whollop than your average Necromancer to begin with. Everything circles back to the gameplay and the synergy shines throughout.



    Special Moves:


    Swift Death:

    Bonus critical damage is the name of the game when you perform rolling power attacks with the right gloves and perks, and in turn multiply your damage by fifteen twice and then twice more again or something ridiculous like that. Look, the math doesn't matter: things die. Ancient Shrouded Gloves + Assassin's Blade + Silent Roll & Critical Charge.


    Army of Darkness:

    As your enemies become alerted to your presence from the sounds of you opening up their comrades' throats, fearlessly wait until the very last second before they pounce on you to counter-attack them with an army of said open-throated, former comrades of theirs. Become Ethereal + Ritual Stone



    So there you have it, my first build revamped a tiny bit in the face of how far I've come since it was initially posted. Slit as many throats as you can stand before the itch to raise them back to life (of servitude) takes over. If you're looking for a fun and unique take on how to combine some of the more badass of the most popular build archetypes to maximum effect, give this one a whirl!


  • February 14, 2012

    Cool, this is the first Nightblade build I've seen on this site! Even though I just posted one like 40 seconds before you, coincidentally enough. I like the detail you go into with everything; there's not too much, but not too little as to detract the reader from the ultimate goal.

  • February 14, 2012
    Lol yes dude, I facepalmed so hard when I noticed your build went up like minutes before mine, but looking yours over I can breathe a sigh of relief that they're definitely different enough from each other. Great minds think alike though?
  • February 14, 2012

    Haha! Its the first time ive seen two builds that are so similar posted at the same time!

    This kind of gameplay is always fun! I posted a build called a shadowmancer months ago that got so little interest that i eventually deleted it from the shame.

    By combining stealth with conjuration you become a little like an observer of chaos, silently raising foes and watching from the shadows laughing! Its alot of fun! After plenty of testing i can promise you that just running illusion alongside sneaks combat skills (backstab -> assassins blade) is more than enough to keep you safe for your entire playthrough. There is no need to take all the sneak perks.

    If you add illusion to this build you can influence the tide of any battle and dominate anything one on one.

  • February 14, 2012
    Oh I know all about Illusion's synergy with Stealth in this game. I tried out a Controller type build that snuck around making my enemies kill eachother and raising those fallen foes to seek revenge on the victors. A lot of fun but I was aiming for less of a passive role with this build especially because of how abhorrent the hotkey system is on consoles (the more spells you use, the more pausing the action to switch between them you have to endure). I wanted to avoid Illusion entirely and focus on using stealth combat to create all the bodies I needed for my zombie army, without relying on much more than necromancy spells and the occasional pre-battle defense buff or post-battle health boost. Both approaches are fun in their own right, but the Illusion/stealth route's been done before whereas I haven't seen too many praise the synergy between stealth combat and necromancy. It's really great for any fan of necromancy to not have to sit and wait for the dear bodies you need, and the throat slitting never gets old.
  • February 14, 2012

    Haha, yeah. I'm was both glad and a little irritated to see that someone else thought of posting a stealth mage build, and even called it the correct name according to TES Lore. I, too, was relieved to see differences like the lack of Vampirism, the use of smithing and light armor, more assassin-based gameplay than mage.


    I agree with Mason that illusion would make a Nightblade build far stronger. Illusion is like stealth and magic came together and formed synergy. With Invisibility and Muffle, you don't even need half of the perks in stealth.

    Of course, there's always preference to stray from what everyone else does. Like how I chose not to include smithing and enchanting in my build.

  • February 14, 2012

    Your absolutely correct! Illusion does hamper progression alot! As does a necro/illusion combination. Its powerful but very slow paced....

    Fair enough mate, i personally love running combat builds that use the assistance of two schools of magic. Ie) Restoration/Alteration or Conjuration/Restoration. Always fast paced, powerful and fun to use! Illusion/Restoration works very nicely with a melee buld (typical knight).

    Good stuff! I hope you continue contributing builds!!

  • February 14, 2012
    Thanks a lot! I certainly plan on it, with my personal favorite of my builds coming up next. And it's totally a combat build that relies on two schools of magic for support, so be sure to check it out!
  • Member
    June 20, 2012

    I came a bit late to this party, but hey I'm new here.

    Really enjoy the style & presentation of the build!

  • June 20, 2012
    Haha wow this build got dug up from its grave worse than one of its own minions lol. I really appreciate you performing necromancy on this post to show it some appreciation though lol! I still totally think Necromancy and Assassinating go together like peanut butter and jelly in this game. By the time I get bored sneaking my way through dungeons undetected, I've got a whole army waiting to be resurrected so I can switch it up and raise some hell instead (literally). The Ritual Stone is such good fun.