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Character Build: The Volkihar Tyrant

Tags: #Character Build Barbarian  #Character Build Alchemist  #Character Build Vampire  #Race:Orsimer  #Rank:Recognized  #Raidriar 
  • Member
    October 23, 2015

    Something I've always loved in builds is utilising certain skills or abilities to cover your weaknesses. Ponty's Shaper is an excellent example, which takes a glass cannon mage and gives it some awesome melee abilities through being a werewolf. 

    So I decided to flip that combo on its head, taking all of the awesome melee capabilities of an Orc barbarian and merging it with the Vampire Lord power, allowing for an brilliantly simplistic and deadly combination...

    From the darkest depths of Skyrim's frozen lakes comes a new menace, one which will threaten all of the province and return the Volkihar clan to its former glory...

    The Build

    Race: Orc Vampire Lord

    Stone: Lord

    Shouts: Dragon Aspect, Elemental Fury, Frost Breath

    Stats: 0:4:1

    Skills: Two Handed, Archery, Alchemy, Light Armour, Restoration

    Weapons: Longhammer, Steel Crossbow

    Apparel: Linwe's Hood, Vampire Armour (grey/dark grey), Vampire Gauntlets, Vampire Boots, Ring of the Beast, Locket of Saint Jiub


    Something that always surprised me about the Volkihar in Skyrim is that they seem to lack any warriors. Almost all of them are mages, or cast some sort of spells! The only notable exceptions being Fura and Hestla. The former was the inspiration for this build; a vampire who doesn't give a damn about spells and stealth, who would rather smash their foes' heads in with a massive warhammer! This is what the build is all about...

    The Volkihar Tyrant is a build which really excels in its simplicity and effectiveness. The Volkihar Tyrant takes on two forms; that of a berserker and that of a Vampire Lord. The two compliment each other beautifully, with human form being all about melee and getting in the thick of things with a massive warhammer, and Vampire Lord filling in the ranged magic offence, healing and supporting role.

    With only five skills, four of which are used throughout combat and the last (Restoration) giving us access to an invaluable buff (Necromage), you've got a recipe for a truly powerful barbarian. The theme here is being fast and agile while still being able to really bring the pain, and every choice was made with this theme in mind. Your chosen weapon, the Longhammer, can hit like a truck with the right perks, and sports the highest DPS of any two handed weapon, even outclassing a Daedric Warhammer! This DPS is taken through the roof once you factor in Elemental Fury, which is enhanced even further by Necromage allowing you to swing that Longhammer like there's no tomorrow. 

    Archery is your main form of ranged offence in human form, and can be pretty deadly too. Crossbows are this guy's preference, and I'll get onto why later. Their insane damage and innate stagger are awesome, especially once you factor in the likes of Quick Shot and Power Shot, boosting your DPS and stagger through the roof. The only real option is the Steel Crossbow, unless you forgo the Rings of Blood Magic and Amulets of Night Power for joining the Dawnguard instead (don't). However, this variation still packs a serious punch, so don't worry about the lack of damage. I much prefer its rustic look anyway. Bolts can be obtained fairly easily since you're likely to be attacked by the Dawnguard quite a lot, and you can pick up a lot from your initial visit to Fort Dawnguard (infinite theoretically, if you can be bothered to stand there and nick every bolt Durak fires at that tree when you first arrive).

    Lightly armoured means light on your feet, and Wind Walker and Unhindered really support this mentality. Your armour still provides you with decent defence once you factor in all the perks and the Lord Stone, letting you tank some hits in combat. Alchemy also helps keep you alive, and provides some handy debuffs too. Restoration has one purpose, and that is to provide us with Necromage, which enhances both of our forms.

    As a Vampire Lord the Volkihar Tyrant is exceptionally powerful too... Switch out the Ring of the Beast and the Locket of Saint Jiub for the Ring of the Erudite and Amulet of Gargoyles when changing to Vampire Lord form for a more magey approach to combat. Gargoyles make excellent tanks, especially when there's two, and they allow you to sit back and snipe with Vampiric Drain, or even pull enemies one at a time with Vampiric Grip. With the Ring of the Erudite, Necromage and the relevant Vampire Lord perks you've got quite sizeable Magicka pool, and enough health if you want to go brawling too!

    A True Berserker

    Now we get onto the coolest part... What separates this guy from all the other barbarians (aside from speed, awesome aesthetic, roleplay, etc)?

    Something recently discovered by Teccam and his team in the Holds contest was that every time you change "form" (so into a Werewolf or Vampire Lord) and back your racial power is reset. This ability synergises extremely well with the Volkihar Tyrant, where changing forms constantly is encouraged. Every time you transform to a Vampire Lord and back your Berserker Rage is reset, allowing for liberal use of Berserker Rage! Not to mention that it's enhanced by Necromage, which means 90 seconds of 125% extra damage and 62.5% less damage on yourself!

    What's also amazing is that Berserker Rage affects all of the Volkihar Tyrant's forms of damage. Including a crossbow! Berserk Archery is insanely fun, particularly  when you're already hitting incredibly hard with your crossbow, and now you're getting double damage on every bolt! 

    And that Longhammer? You thought it had some good DPS before? Just wait till you factor in Necromage Enhanced Berserker Rage. You'll be tearing through opponents like there's no tomorrow, and it's just awesome. This is what being a barbarian is all about!

    I honestly encourage you to play on Legendary with this guy. You're already going to be hitting some pretty big numbers in terms of damage, and Berserker Rage brings this to even greater heights. Don't forget that you're also taking half damage while Berserk, so you needn't worry about the damage multiplier your enemies get. 


    Every ingredient can be grown in a Hearthfire greenhouse of fish hatchery, allowing for efficient farming. Also, you might notice that the Berserker Tonic has Fortify Illusion as an effect; that's just the combination of ingredients, illusion isn't used. The Elixirs of Blood and Stone are for use before transforming into a vampire lord; they boost the magnitude/duration of Vampiric Drain and Summon Gargoyle.

    Berserker Tonic

    Fortify Illusion + Fortify Two Handed + Regenerate Stamina + Resist Fire
    Dragon's Tongue + Fly Amanita + Mora Tapinella

    Elixir of Blood

    Fortify Destruction + Fortify Health
    Glowing Mushroom + Nightshade + Wheat

    Elixir of Stone

    Fortify Conjuration + Fortify Health
    Blue Mountain Flower + Lavendar + Wheat

    Primal Terror

    Damage Stamina + Fear
    Blisterwort + Cyrodilic Spadetail + Namira's Rot

    Corrupting Essence

    Damage Health + Slow + Weakness to Poison
    Deathbell + Giant Lichen + River Betty


    Weakness to Frost
    Abacean Longfin + White Cap


    Icy Grave

    Volkihar are known to have breath that can "freeze their victims' blood in the veins" and can "reach through the ice of their lakes without breaking it." The Tyrant can simulate this ability by utilising Frost Breath with Dragonborn Frost to freeze your foes, then damage them without breaking through the ice with the Skullcrusher perks.

    Requires: Dragonborn Frost, Elixir of Blood, Frostbite, Frost Breath, Skullcrusher 3/3, Longhammer

    Unrelenting Assault

    The Volkihar Tyrant's signature move, which combines all of its deadly speed and might. Necromage boosts both the magnitude and duration of Elemental Fury, Berserker Rage and Berserker Tonic, allowing for unprecedented DPS with the Longhammer. This is how a barbarian was meant to be played.

    Requires: Necromage, Elemental Fury, Berserker Rage, Berserker Tonic, Longhammer


    • The Volkihar Tyrant is a fairly simple build, but does require clever use of transformations throughout combat. See a couple of archers? Change to Vampire Lord form, mess up their positioning with Vampiric Grip, then use Supernatural Reflexes to buy yourself some time to change back to human form in the ensuing chaos. There are many ways to give yourself some time to change forms, with Vampiric Grip, Supernatural Reflexes, Corpse Curse, Frost Breath with Dragonborn Frost and Primal Terror being some of the key ones.
    • In human form your speed really is your advantage. Use Great Critical Charge along with Necromage and Elemental Fury to get around the battlefield quickly and outmanoeuvre your opponents.
    • Even without investing in Magicka you'll still be able to cast a number of spells as a Vampire Lord, as Necromage, its innate bonus, Power of the Grave and the Ring of the Erudite can easily bring you over 400 Magicka, and over 500 at the later levels! Not to mention you'll have a health pool of nearly 1000 thanks to the Volkihar Tyrant's health-heavy stat spread.
    • With Necromage and the Elixir of Stone your Gargoyle summons will be lasting a long time (well over 3 minutes for the regular one if you grab some Fortify Alchemy gear before crafting your potions) which allows you to summon them then switch back to human form and have them last for a good portion of a dungeon!
    • Don't forget to complete the Blood of the Ancients quests to improve your Vampiric Drain spell. The extra Stamina and Magicka absorption is really useful, especially at higher levels when you'll be absorbing for more than the spell actually costs.
    • For any of you who were wondering how Icy Grave actually works; Dragonborn Frost provides foes with 500 AR while they're encased in ice, so normal builds will be unable to do much damage while their enemies are frozen. The Skullcrusher perks allow us to avoid 75% of your foe's AR, which means you only have 125 AR to go through when attacking frozen foes - that's nothing for a Berserk Necrovamp barbarian like the Volkihar Tyrant!


    The Tyrant is essentially the Volkihar clan's basher. When skulls need caving in, he's the first they'll ask. And he excels at it. 

    There are two ways that the Tyrant can be played, with two defining mentalities which I will explain below:


    The Volkihar clan are known for being paranoid and cautious, as detailed in Immortal Blood. A paranoid Tyrant may choose to reside in Castle Volkihar itself, or Windstad Manor, which makes a perfect home due to its remote location, nearby frozen lake (home sweet home) and misty, frigid environment. To maintain the theme of caution and carefulness, make sure to feed constantly so as not to appear too different, and enter cities at night if you have to, under cover of darkness for safety. Travel alone at night, and stay inside during the day.


    The Volkihar clan are also known for their cruelty, and the Tyrant is out for vengeance and blood. Don't be afraid to really embrace your inner evil vampire (we all know you want to) and attack lone travellers on the road, kill random citizens, things like that. You are an ancient being, out for vengeance on those who imprisoned you in an icy tomb beneath a frozen lake. Either Castle Volkihar or Windstad Manor will do for a home. As a Tyrant seeking vengeance you'd rather embrace your vampiric powers than suppress them, so feeding doesn't become as big of an issue; more powerful zombies, seduction and invisibility are all useful powers.

    For quests, all of the Volkihar main questline as well as any side quests suit this guy. Aim to complete the Ancient Power quests to boost the Blood of the Ancients blessing, which is very useful in Vampire Lord form. Amulets of Night Power and Rings of Blood Magic are also worth picking up at some point. Impatience of a Saint is a good quest for the Soul Cairn, as it nets you the incredible Locket of Saint Jiub, and I actually joined the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood as both would make valuable allies for the Volkihar (and you get Linwe's Hood, which is beautiful with the armour combo).

    Closing Notes and Credits

    This is probably my last solo Skyrim build guys. Fallout 4 is dropping in less than a month, and I'm basically done with Skyrim now anyway. See you all when the bombs drop!

    I'd like to thank:

    FishDout for finding me some kickass art.

    Alastor for posting in one of the CB recycling bin discussions about the cool link between the Volkihar and Dragonborn Frost. I saw his post and realised I just had to include it in a Volkihar berserker build, so thanks Al!

    Google, Deviantart and Thraen for the various images.

  • Member
    October 23, 2015

    really cool build, I do love me some Orcs.

  • Tim
    October 23, 2015

    Oh yes.....there's nothing I love better in Skyrim than hitting things, the faster the better :P

    Great build as always Raidriar! That's cool that you dug up that thing about Dragonborn Frost too, I remembered reading that but didn't think it was that useful because for some reason I thought Skullcrusher only ignored 30% of AR and not

  • Member
    October 23, 2015

    So, Raid, having a build who's a speed demon with one-handed weapons isn't enough? You gotta be a two-handed speed demon too?  I'm seriously debating nicknaming you  "The Necromage Guy", you always find some new synergy between necromage and some other stuff. 

    Jokes aside, this is really an ingenious build! Speed, Necromage and Interesting Roleplay as well as great gameplay! Great use of the Longhammer, especially with that Dragonborn Frost perk.

    Great work, an easy +1

    I'm quite confused, though, on how you've managed to write such a long build, but forgotten to include a perk spread.

  • October 23, 2015

    Oh yeah, Orcs! Seems you´re doing Orcs a lot these days, Raid. 

    Berserker Rage can be reseted? Instant like! That really brings the barbarian to another dimensions.

    Also your first picture really got me hooked. I would swear I have downloaded all Orc images from the google (which means that all your other pictures are in my PC already) but it seems I´ve missed that first one. 

  • Member
    October 23, 2015

    Thanks ShyGuy! 

  • Member
    October 23, 2015

    Thanks Tim! Ah, credit goes to Mason for the Dragonborn Frost thing, he was the first guy to speculate about it in his Seraphim lets play. Al also came up with its link to the Volkihar in the recylcing bin, so really none of that cool mechanic is mine lol. And it's definitely 75%, same as the mace perks in One Handed.

  • Member
    October 23, 2015

    Yeah man, pushing those boundaries all the time. I think with this build I actually became the builder with the most vampire builds on the blog so I definitely could be "The Necromage Guy"! (definitely gonna put that on my page somewhere)

    *facepalm*... Wow that's embarassing... In all my hype for getting this posted, I completely forgot about including that. I can't even remember if I made one. I'll need to give my folders a search...

  • Member
    October 23, 2015

    Yup, been having a lot of fun with them recently! Orcs really are one of the coolest races, and synergise so well with werewolves/vamp lords (since I'm fairly sure racial passives don't carry over into those forms, and the orcs are the only race to lack a racial passive).

    And that first image is just awesome, found it somewhere on Thraen's gallery. Everything about it is just wicked, from the glowing vampire eyes to the barbaric aesthetic and colour palette. 

  • Tim
    October 23, 2015


    Not to add to the embarrassment, but I laughed my ass of when I read your last sentence Kael'than :P. I didn't even notice though lol.