Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: Hands of Arkay

Tags: #Character Build Healer  #Character Build Enchanter  #Character Build Acrobat  #Race:Dunmer  #Rank:Examplar 
  • December 27, 2015


    ...and may we one day rejoin them in eternity

    Lore // Build & Gameplay // Roleplay // Quests

    1. The idea for this build came from an extensive discussion on the ethics of soul trapping and was further elucidated by Kyrielle's thread, Two Parts of a Whole Make a Soul, a brief synopsis of which will be described below. I would like to give a special thank you to Edana who helped get this build off the ground then taught it to walk, and to Phil whose thorough participation and clear explanation of confusing lore helped inspire this build. 
    • The Hands of Arkay features Sibella, a Dunmer and former member of the Order of Arkay who was forced to leave under acute circumstances and has made her way to Skyrim in an attempt to escape her pursuers, help her people, and continue to uphold her loyalty to the god of life and death. Her full story is currently being written here if you're the story-reading type. This build is heavily steeped in roleplay and lore though it can be played without all the details, stripped down to its core gameplay mechanics if all you’re looking for is undead extermination by way of warhammer. Either way, a table of contents has been provided to allow you to move with ease between the sections you want to see.




    The God of Birth and Death, Lord of the Wheel of Life, the Mortals' God; the one we call Arkay is honored by many names, but his law is constant and unwavering, a fact that even his greatest enemy admits.

    From the Consecrations of Arkay:

    Arkay's Law, which we bestow upon the deceased, that their corporeal forms may not be raised to unlawful servitude.

    From Mannimarco's Arkay the Enemy: Instructions For the Faithful to Foil Arkay:

    Arkay's blessing prevents the souls of men, beastmen, and elves from being used without consent. Arkay's Law prevents those buried with the proper rituals from being raised to serve my children's will. As you know, my children, Arkay's Blessing is flexible to those with daring, but Arkay's Law is unwavering.

    The greatest enemy of Arkay is the necromancer though a follower of Mannimarco is particularly dangerous. His followers have specific instructions on how to undermine Arkay and it is their methodical approach that makes them so dangerous though any necromancer with cunning is immediately far more dangerous than novice mage with a power complex. 

    Enchanting is a practice of questionable morality since, as written by Vanus Galerion, Archmagister Emeritus, it is a subset of necromancy. 

    Since this build uses enchanting, it's important to note that black souls are not captured and all Draugr are off-limits for soul-trapping. The reason that Draugr are not soul-trapped is because of observations made by Bernadette Bantien of the College of Winterhold.  

    Bernadette spent seven months in the burial tomb of a dragon priest and observed the behavior of the Draugr.  Her observations led her to conclude that the Draugr were the followers of the dragon priest, buried as living humans, and given immortality to perform daily rituals where they transfer their life force to the dragon priest in order to sustain it for eternity.

    I don't know what sort of eternal wellspring they draw from, but it's clear that each draugr carries only the barest whisper of life in it...

    I now believe that the grotesque forms that we see in the barrows were, in fact, buried fully as men and woman, and only over the thousands of years that have passed withered into the wretched things we know. If we had visited a barrow directly after its construction, we might not have known any of its inhabitants were dead!

    These observations show us that Draugr were once human and their appearances are due to age.  I believe that Draugr yielding anything other than a black soul is purely for game balancing, so for the purposes of this build, all Draugr will be assumed to possess black souls.

    Alessandra, the priestess of Arkay in Riften's Hall of The Dead, mentions as part of her miscellaneous quest that every priest/priestess of Arkay is given a ceremonial dagger upon their induction. 



    All DLC recommended

    Race: Dunmer for the RP approach, though Altmer can be used for a stat boost if the gameplay approach is desired

    Stone: Warrior into Mage into Lover

    Stat Spread: 1/1/1 as needed, depending on spell progression

    Weapons: Fire-enchanted iron warhammer, frost-enchanted steel warhammer, shock-enchanted Elven warhammer, chaos damage-enchanted Dawnguard warhammer

    Apparel: Light armor, any combonation of Elven, Chitin, and Morag Tong. 

    • Amulet of Arkay
    • Fortify two-handed: gloves, boots, ring
    • Fortify magicka regen: cuirass & helmet






    Fighting is done very quickly and aggressively, penetrating the magical defenses of enemy mages. Sibella does not have the time nor the patience to do a dance and circle an opponent looking for an opening. The ferocity of her strikes creates her opening if they don't immediate annihilate whatever was on the receiving end of her hammer. 


    Soul gems will never be in short supply, but I won't tell anyone if you decide to use the Dawnstar chest. I understand, I really do. Allow me to say however that the sound effects department at Bethesda nailed the sound the Soul Trap spell. That alone makes using the spell worth it. New enchantments are applied only once the corresponding perk is taken. 


    Sibella moves fast and hits hard, and healing spells are often used mid-combat to restore stamina. Running past an enemy while casting a healing spell gives Sibella enough room to turn around and come back swinging. The faster you get Dual-Casting and Respite, the better. Turn Undead spells are used as crowd control when needed and as a way to stun-lock undead bosses or those awful Deathlords with Ebony weapons.



    Light armor is necessary to stay nimble, fast, and deadly. Sibella often employs a hit-and-run tactic, clearing paths through weaker enemies while keeping the tough ones off balance and guessing. The order that armor is obtained in doesn't matter though it is important to get armored up ASAP. It would be wise to purchase training from Grelka in Riften when you have the coin to do so. 


    As was briefly explained in the lore, Sibella carries a dagger because upon induction, each priest of Arkay gets a ceremonial dagger. Since Sibella has to replace hers in Skyrim, she chooses to give it some practical application by enchanting it with Turn Undead and Fear. It's an excellent tool to have in a pinch when you need some breathing room.



    In spite of what you believe you understand, you will always agonize over whether your decisions are truly correct.



    Sibella takes the radical approach of removing all contraband from bodies and tombs though she doesn't take anything else. Contraband includes the following: soul gems, necromancer robes, black mage robes, necromantic spell tomes, and enchanted items. All items will be destroyed though methods vary. Learning an enchantment destroys a weapon, just as using a soul destroys its housing soul gem. Robes, spell tomes, and enchantment gear with a learned enchantment are all destroyed by placing them in a non-respawning chest in the Temple of The Divines.

    Snowberries should be collected as they serve as the means to religious sacraments, guiding Arkay's grace to the chest and providing a blessing when needed. Snowberries are used for these sacraments because of their alchemical effects, resist fire, frost, & shock and fortify enchanting, which honors the earth and the pure use of souls. Eating a snowberry is used as a prayer to Arkay for any situation it may be needed for. Two other items that can be taken if you choose to do so are vampire dust, Hagraven feathers, and Briar Hearts as kill counts. 

    Primary targets for cleansing are necromancers, undead, Hagravens, and Forsworn. The abominations and the masters they serve are an affront to Arkay and will be erased. 

     Sibella destroys many powerful artifacts and items rather than using or selling them, meaning that most of Sibella's income is in the form of quest rewards, never letting greed corrupt her moral compass. 

    Some vampires have expertly blended into the population of the living, one notable example being Sybille Stentor, court mage of the Blue Palace. Killing her is the righteous thing to do, but it is up to you whether the 1000 gold bounty is worth it.   

    Seek out and cleanse all of the Dragon Priests, destroying their masks after ending their unnatural existences. 

    Sibella needs to obtain an Amulet of Arkay and there are two main choices. Since Sibella visits the Hall of The Dead in each city, that means she will eventually have to visit Whiterun's Hall of The Dead which has the subquest of retrieving Andurs amulet of Arkay. Sibella might take Andurs amulet for herself, deeming him unfit to  serve Arkay. Or, maybe she travels to Wayward Pass and takes the Amulet resting to the side of the Ancient Traveler's Skull as a way of honoring Arkay's cycles.


    Although all soul gems are taken, Sibella has to decide whether to use filled black souls gems or destroy them in the chest. Both methods destroy the gem but using the soul could be viewed as acting against Arkay. It's left up to the player to make this choice. 

    Meridia and Azura present interesting challenges to Sibella. To serve another would be to break Sibella's oath to Arkay. However, Sibella sees opportunity and manipulates these Daedra to accomplish her own goals. Working for Meridia allows Sibella to cleanse a very powerful Necromancer and restore peace to his victims and acting as Azura asks allows Sibella to restore balance to the corrupted White Star and prevent further abuse of black souls. Sibella is the champion of only Arkay and as a rejection of the Daedra, Sibella leaves their artifacts at their respective shrines, declining their offers of championship.
    Serana, a being whose existence is an affront to Arkay, is Sibella's follower, at least for a little. Sibella, like Isran, understands that Serana is necessary to work with in order to quell Harkon's uprising. Sibella takes a slightly more sympathetic approach than Isran however. She pities Serana. She sees Serana as misguided and manipulated, someone who can be rehabilitated to live righteously under Arkay's Law. That is why Sibella cures Serana and sets her on the right path. Whether you keep Serana with you as a human is up to you.

    Sibella prefers to travel with fellow Dunmer, and Jenassa and Teldryn are both worthy companions during the times Serana isn't around.  


    All these we abominate, and drive them from the realms of decent folk with fire and hammer


    Frostflow Abyss: Grant's Sailor's Repose, causing all healing spells to cure 10% more.

    Book of Love: Work with Mara to help spirits ascend to the plane of Aetherius and help keep Arkay's cycles in order. Grants Agent of Mara, a permanent 15% resistance to magicka.

    The Man Who Cried Wolf & The Wolf Queen Awakened: Work closely with Solitude's court and priest of Arkay to quash the resurrection of one of Skyrim's most powerful and notorious necromancers. Comes with a free Turn Undead spell! 

    The Blessings of Nature: Help to maintain Arkay's cycle by allowing Maurice to pray to the Eldergleam and returning the sapling to Danica Pure-Spring. 

    Ancestral Worship: Offer your strength to Golldir and help him end the necromancer that has taken over his family's burial tomb. Looting the end chest in this tomb is allowed since Golldir gives you the key and permission to take anything inside the chest.

    Pilgrimage: This is the miscellaneous quest given by Alessandra in Riften's Hall of The Dead that has you take her ceremonial dagger to Whiterun. The reward for this quest is a handful of Restoration spell tomes, but do not turn in this quest until you have a Restoration skill of at least 40. The quest is bugged and you won't receive a reward if your Restoration skill isn't 40. 

    The Affairs of Hagravens: Use the Hagraven Melka to lead you to Petra, kill Petra, then kill Melka. Simple, clean, and two fewer filthy Hagravens necromancing about. 

    No One Escapes Cidhna Mine: Get arrested, gain Madanach's trust and help him escape, but once in the Dwarven undercity, run ahead to get your thing and double cross Madanach at the end, immediately after he gives you the Armor of the Old Gods. Your follower will be able to help you at this point and thankfully so because the ensuing battle is a tough one. This will get you the Silver-Blood Family Ring which is yours to do with what you will. The Armor of the Old Gods, however, gets destroyed. 

    UnearthedSibella sometimes has to take extreme or questionable measures to ensure that Arkay's Law reaches as far as possible. Ahzidal's Armor will be used to craft Sibella's end game gear, and then destroyed in the chest.


    So concludes the Hands of Arkay, a very special build to me that I treasure among all my other Skyrim experiences and a build that gave me a hard look at how it feels to be pressed up against Skyrim's roleplay boundaries. And with that, I'm going on break. I'll be on my perch, self-importantly sipping tea and writing stories, occasionally squawking. Be well children of Arkay and remember; the enemies of life are ever watchful, ready to punish negligence with swift and ruthless cruelty. 


  • Member
    December 27, 2015
    Yay! I loved seeing this one come through. Certainly one of your best!
  • Member
    December 27, 2015

    Good concept, great RP, fantastic artwork. I'll gives it my +1.

    What the name of the font you used for your section titles? Love that too.

  • Member
    December 27, 2015

    I'm thrilled to see Sib come to life here. You worked so hard on this build, and it really shines through. The presentation is beautiful. Great job, Legion. I really look forward to seeing what you come up with next. 

  • December 27, 2015

    Thanks, Motty, I'm really happy with it. 

  • December 27, 2015

    Thanks! The font is Civitype FG, from 

  • December 27, 2015

    And I'm thrilled I didn't let her go, I'm really pleased with the outcome. I do like to make things pretty, so thanks :) 

  • December 27, 2015

    Hell yes, I've been waiting for this beauty for ages Legion. It looks even better than the last time I read it (which is really saying something).

    The character here is definitely a really cool one, I especially love the lore behind the build. I could go on an on about how unique and pretty your presentation style was here but I'm afraid I'd clog the page up so I'll just say you've done an excellent job.

    A like from me for sure Legion and I can't wait to see more builds from you. 

  • December 28, 2015
    Thanks DB, you flatter me. The presentation was such a drama so I'm really happy you enjoy it. I'm glad I came back to it though, IRL circumstances couldn't keep me away forever.
  • Member
    December 28, 2015

    That eight-pointed skill spread is inspired, I absolutely love it!  The presentation is gorgeous too. You have some interesting observations about the draugr too. In fact, this build is pretty much the complete package for me: Warhammers, light armour and Dunmer. Great job Legion