Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: The Pale Ranger (modded)

Tags: #Character Build Archer  #Rank:Bloodworks 
  • March 7, 2017

    A ranger of the icy northern wastes – inspired by my love of the Frostfall mod.


    Few dare to travel in the frigid glaciers and mountains of Northern Skyrim, but this wilderness is your home. Perhaps your people raised you to life in the snows, or perhaps you left the city for the wilds and never looked back. Did you come to the white expanse to forget your past, or to learn the secrets to be found under the ice? Do the voices of the drowned call to you across the waters of the Sea of Ghosts?

    Whatever your reasons, you have learned not just to survive but to thrive in this harsh landscape, and the people of the towns have come to value your skills. You are well prepared and resourceful, always planning ahead. You know how to keep warm, and get the best out of simple equipment. You are a master archer, with an arsenal of traps to back it up. You have all the simple magics you need to give you an edge. Your long meditations by the Northern shore have earned you the friendship of the spirits of the Sea of Ghosts, and you can call upon them at need.


    Ranger by Greyhues


    Essential Mods: Ordinator, Apocalypse, Summermyst, Frostfall. This build uses the Ordinator Perk overhaul, and a lot of it's spells are from Apocalypse. The Summermyst mod adds some very useful enchantments that complement the build nicely. You could in theory play it without Frostfall, but I'd strongly recommend playing it with Frostfall turned up to Hardcore to get the real survival experience.


    Recommended Mods: Alternate Start, iNeed. Aurora. Alternate Start will get you where you need to be without having to travel up from Helgen. iNeed or a similar needs mod is good for immersion. I played with all the Enai mods installed as a set, and used the Steed Stone in the Aurora standing stones overhaul for this build.


    Race: Nords for the frost resistance, or Bosmer for the skill bonuses make sense. But any race could dwell in the frozen North with the right equipment and attitude. I played an eccentric Breton, and I decided not to write much character background in the end as I feel this build would suit all manner of misfits and strange backstories.


    Stats: Roughly 1:3:1 Getting to around 150 magicka and 150 stamina is helpful for casting simple spells, sprinting further and carrying your survival gear. Otherwise, you'll benefit more from health.


    Major Skills: Archery, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Sneak.


    Supporting Skills: Conjuration, Alteration, Illusion, Enchanting.


    Equipment: Enchanted Furs and Amulet, Krosis, Stalhrim/Ebony Bow, Ring of the Storm-King.


    Spells: Vanilla: Conjure Familiar, Muffle; Apocalypse: Conjure Avenging Wraith, Conjure Cat Totem, Longstride, Drop Zone, Reynos's Fins, Ghostwalk. Frostfall: Sooth, Bask, Foxskin.




    The bow is the only weapon you will need. The Ordinator mod has 29 Archery perks, inviting specialisation, rather than taking every perk in the tree. I was inspired by the Inuit, who traditionally used a short bow at close range for hunting and warfare, so took the perks relevant to skirmisher and ranger abilities. Archery Master takes the place of Overdraw, increasing bow damage by 50%. Clean Kill gives 20% bonus damage against enemies at full health, giving you a good start to the fight. Steady Hand, Hunters Discipline, Ranger and Quick Shot all do what they do in vanilla archery – you'll be able to shoot quickly and accurately in a skirmish, run with a drawn bow, and collect more of your arrows from corpses.


    Light Armor: 

    This build has a number of ways to make sure you're rarely in melee, but you'll still need some protection. Furs are pretty primitive in this regard, so you'll need to take a few perks in this tree to make up the slack. Light Armor Mastery replaces Agile Defender - increases armor rating by 40%, and also adds the much needed ability to gain light armor experience during combat without being hit, making it much easier to level the skill. Annoying Mosquitos reduces damage taken from opponents who have full health – essentially this reduces the damage you'll take when someone or something gets the drop on you out on the tundra, which is nice, as this is when an archer is the most vulnerable. Light Armor Fit gives a bonus for wearing all light armor. Unhindered stops your fur slowing you down, and is mostly taken to get to Into the Maelstrom, which provides greater protection when fighting multiple enemies.



    The Pale Ranger is no invisible assassin, but any archer benefits from a little stealth to set up a shot. I took two points in Sneak Mastery, which replaces Stealth and gives a 30% bonus to stealth. So far we've taken standard archer abilities, but this is where things get interesting with Ordinator. Tripwire allows you to set up your own tripwire that will knock down incoming opponents. It takes a few seconds to set up, so it's for planning ahead, rather than a panic button. Get the positioning right and you'll have the joy of seeing charging enemies flat on their backs where you can fill them full of arrows. Whiplash lets your tripwires reduce enemy armor rating.



    Ordinator also adds a line of lockpicking perks, starting with Bear Trap that allow a ranger to craft and set their own bear traps. Bear traps, unlike tripwires, do significant damage, but they do not knock down your enemies. A combination of the two is most effective at softening up incoming trouble. The Lockjaw perk adds a stagger effect to your traps. Big Game Hunter increases the likelihood of your traps being stepped on.



    It is whispered that the Pale Ragners of the Sea of Ghosts can call upon the spirits of the drowned that wail along the shores. When the archer is out of stealth, and essentially needs a summon to take some heat, you'll use the ghostly summons from the Apocalypse spells. Conjuration Mastery makes Conjuration spells of every level cost 35% less, replacing having to take multiple perks to reduce the cost of different levels of spells. One perk is worthwhile here.


    The Pale Ranger can travel as swiftly as the Northern winds, covering the vast distances over the ice much faster than ordinary mortals. Travel magic using Apocalypse spells comes under the heading of Alteration. Alteration Mastery reduces magicka cost, and again, one perk in this is fine.



    Out in the snows, its not always clear what's real and what isn't. The Pale Ranger's ability to hide is as much magical as skill. Take a single perk in Illusion Mastery, to open up Quiet Before the Storm – which gives you quiet casting – and Night Eye, which allows the ranger to hunt as well in pitch darkness.



    Inspired by a Finish legend of a Sami hero wearing enchanted furs, I gave this build some enchanting ability, to improve their simple armor. I waited till I had the materials to do it at a campfire, rather than using an arcane enchanter. Just take Enchanting Mastery, which will improve all your enchants by 50%, and Gem Dust, which allows you to sacrifice a flawless gem for another 20% improvement.




    I wanted to do something a little different with this build than the standard ranger repertoire. The Pale Ranger's magical abilities revolve around three themes: summoning ghosts, swift travel, and stealth. I dipped into the Apocalypse spell mod for many of this build's spells.



    Venture by Greg Opalinski


    The Pale Ranger's Spells

    Conjure Avenging Wraith: summons a ghost with a ranged magical attack, who's stats depend on whatever slew it when you last summoned it. It's a very pokey spell for it's level. Being ranged, it will stay back out of the way of your arrows, adding it's damage to yours.

    Conjure Familiar, Conjure Nordic Cat Totem: when you need something that will get into melee and tank a bit, these two spells are your minions. Conjure Cat Totem is considerably tougher than the Vanilla familiar, and shapeshifts into the form of a sabre cat to heal. You'll also have another melee minion from the Ring of the Storm-King.

    Longstrider, Drop Zone, Reynos' Fins: three new Apocalypse spells that greatly aid travel in the mountains. Longstrider is a concentration spell that increases your run speed – essentially allowing you to sprint off your magicka when your stamina is exhausted. Drop Zone places a safe landing zone that you can fall onto from any height. Reyno's Fins increases your swim speed – swimming in the frigid sea is usually a desperate move, so when you have to do it, you want to get it over with as fast a possible.

    Muffle, Ghostwalk: The Pale Rangers can creep as silently as a snowy sabre cat. You'll really need Muffle to level up illusion for Night Eye, but the extra stealth can be useful. Ghostwalk is an interesting little cantrip – which allows ten seconds invisibility before teleporting you back to your start point. It's good for occasional scouting.


    Regarding Shouts

    Being the Dovahkiin is totally optional with this build. To an extent, what that looks like if the Pale Ranger does, depends on who they are and what has brought them to the North. So I don't want to be prescriptive about Shouts. For my playthrough, my Breton, Bianca, discovered her gift on a rare trip to the south, then ignored it for many levels. An encounter with some Ice Wraiths near a shrine of Talos brought her close to death – she was only saved in that moment by a personal encounter with Talos's power and the use of Storm Call. From then on she considered Talos a patron, and Storm Call was her go-to shout in need.


    Regarding Standing Stones

    I played with the Aurora standing stones mod installed and used the Steed Stone. This gives a godly 40% increase to out of combat speed. I'm not usually one for running around the landscape too fast, I find it unimmersive, but for this character it seemed just right. It gave the feel of someone who had the fitness and wilderness knowledge to cover the miles at legendary speed. There's also a 'bag of holding' power which could be abused to loot everything that's not nailed down, but I found it useful as general storage before I'd build Heilarchen Hall. The Aurora stones are potentially overpowered if used without restraint and not everyone's cup of tea – the vanilla Steed stone would be fine if preferred.



    Ice Elfin by Melanie Maier


    The joy of this build is it's flexibility, balanced by a need for thought in play. I've played too many stealth archers that crumple when they are faced with open battle at low levels. I've also played higher level vanilla archers that once they get power shot and a good bow are virtually invulnerable, chain staggering anything that moves. This build by contrast is challenging but playable at all levels. You can function both in and out of stealth, but as you don't have trick shots that will slow things down, and you'll need to plan accordingly. A word of warning – summoned minions and traps don't mix. Getting clubbed senseless while your pet ghosts writhe around in bear traps is the scenario we want to avoid. So you'll need to approach situations tactically:

    The Lone Ranger:

    For simple situations – exploring an area where you'll expect a few low level opponents, then old-school stealth, muffle and your bow are the most efficient way to go about it. Pets and traps will just get in the way as often as not.


    If you don't think you're going to be able to drop what's ahead easily, lay down a trap or two before shooting it. If you just need a little help, traps are better than pets, especially in tight areas, as pets will tend to get into your line of shot.

    Time on Target:


    If what you're trapping is really big, the Avenging Ghost is the first summon to reach for. It's a caster minion, so will stay by your side, adding it's fire to yours, rather than charging in. Against highly mobile enemies like dragons and dragon priests the Avenging Ghost also shines, bringing the bastard down all the sooner.

    Panic Button:


    Sometimes that bandit you just shot in the knee turns out to be a Bandit Chief and his two pals. If it's all gone south, it's time to slip on the Ring of the Storm-King, who will act as an efficient bodyguard. As you back away from that, toss bear traps down, if you're still carrying them. You can't quickly place a tripwire.

    The Gauntlet:


    Traps really start to shine when you know there's trouble ahead. Say you're in a narrow corridor that opens into a large room of tough foes. First, stealthily lay some traps down the corridor: a couple of bear traps and a trip wire. Then drop a Familiar or Cat Totem ahead of you in the room. Wait until it gets their attention and won't follow you, then back up the corridor. Anything that fights its way past the ghost will have to make its way to you over the traps, being shot up good all the while.

    Keep 'em Busy:


    Sometimes a location is too open for traps to be anything but dangerous. For fast moving fights with multiple friends and foes - such as Civil War battles or in-town Vampire attacks – you'll definitely want to keep those traps in your backpack, as they do not distinguish friend from foe. Summon whichever minions you like, and they will take care of themselves, homing in on the trouble for you, while you find isolated enemies you can shoot safely without hurting an ally. Some boss fights also occur in place where there is no good place to stand your ground behind traps. When fighting multiple foes in such a place, similarly sic both melee minions (the Storm King and the Cat Totem) on the big bad, and run around quickly picking off the little guys with your bow. You might have to chain summon if the big bad is making mincemeat of them.



    Warm, light clothes are essential. This means fur, Skaal clothes, or Stalhrim. Fur is easy to create at the campfire, and enchant as needed, and was my mainstay for this character although you could add in Stalhrim later on for a more martial, heroic look. The Summermyst mod adds numerous useful enchantments, and I dipped into some of those with this build.

    Arctic Archer by Natalie Becker


    Boots: “Ghostwalker's Boots” Frost Resistance is a solid choice for boots, or you could go for (yet more) Run Speed.


    Head: “Ghostwalker's Hood” Depending on if you're struggling more for killing power or magicka, then Fortify Magicka or Fortify Archery. The Krosis mask is found on an icy peak at the southernmost range of your wanderings. Two out of three of it's enchantments fit the build, and it's also light armor. Sadly, it doesn't keep out the cold all that much, so I kept it for an alternate headpiece in dungeons and stuck to a fur hood outside.


    Gauntlets: “Ghostwalker's Gloves” Weapon Recharge is an amazing enchantment, allowing you to forget about needing to recharge your bow. This is a godsend for a build that doesn't worry about soultrapping, and doesn't spend much time shopping in cities.


    Necklace: “Lucky Charm”. The Windfall enchantment gives a percentage chance every five seconds to randomly restore one of your three stats. It's especially nice out of combat to occasionally get a boost to magicka or stamina whilst running.


    Chest: “Ghostwalker's Furs” Fortify Health or Fortify Light Armor are nice, although there are plenty of other enchantments that would be helpful here.


    Cloak: “Warm Cloak” Frostfall adds in a selection of enchantable cloaks. Naturally this build wears the thickest, warmest fur. Resist Frost or Resist Magic are good choices.


    Ring: The Ring of the Storm-King/Wraith/Avenger added by the Summermyst mod is one of the Pale Ranger's most treasured possessions. Perhaps it calls the lost soul of a drowned ancester, or one of the great heroes of Yngol's lost ship. When slipped the ring manifests a permanent, unkillable, melee ghost, who does not add to your summon limit. This ghost does not have a lot of hit points, so won't stop determined attackers, but it does output a fair bit of damage, and is well worth having around. It makes a great panic button, buying you vital seconds to drop a trap and nock an arrow.


    Bow: The Pale Ranger is of necessity a practical person, and will use the best bow they can find on their travels, regardless of who made it, what smelly tomb they found it in, or what it looks like. At various times I used Imperial, Falmer, Supple Ancient Nord and Ebony. If you find yourself enchanting your own bow, the Frost Hazard enchantment is great – which freezes the ground under a target giving a fast damage over time effect. This is a good enchantment to use against those ranged attackers who'd be less likely to charge over your traps. The ultimate prize for the Pale Ranger is of course a Stalhrim bow.



    Your first task is simply to survive. With hardcore Frostfall activated, the North is cold. Really cold. I started out using Alternate Start in the pub in Dawnstar – if you use a Vanilla start or otherwise travel up from the South you'll have an easier time of it. Either way, your first job is to get together what you'll need to cope with the climate. Scrape together a few pelts, and make your set of nice warm furs, then a backpack, and a fur tent. You'll definitely want to buy or smith a cooking pot, and you'll need woodcutter's axe. Water can be an issue if the only source is salty, so a good supply of waterskins and perhaps a portable keg for your camp are a good idea. Once you have these, you'll be ready to travel safely further afield.


    Arctic Warrior by The Ill King

    Explore the North. Climb the mountains, follow the trails and comb the beaches. Hunt horkers for your supper. You'll deal with any threats to the smallfolk as you find them, and taking bandit's ill gotten gains doesn't hurt either. As you grow in strength, the hidden wealth of the ancient ruins you pass is yours for the taking. An occasional visit to the great cities of Windhelm or Solitude to spend it is always exciting – make sure to see all the sights while you're there.

    Get to know your favoured travel routes and set up permanent camps at strategic locations or special places. It'll really make you feel at home in your territory when it's done, and you'll start to be able to travel with confidence even in the worst weather, knowing a campsite is just around the corner.

    You don't have to sleep in a tent all the time. Warm up in inns when you can, gathering the gossip. I also built the most basic house at Heljarchen Hall, to serve as my personal hunter's shack and storage space. Dawnstar is your base of operations, where you'll return most often for supplies and familiar faces. Get to know the people, and find out what troubles them, ranging out on the quests they give you.

    That said, your position in society is somewhat marginal – you are valued as an adventurer, but also held in suspicion for your solitary ways and the rumours of your magical abilities, which go far beyond what the average Nord hunter is comfortable with. I hunted alone much of the time, and when I did take followers along for occasional backup, it was from more open-minded races like the Dunmer. Clearing out Nightcaller Temple left me with Erandur as a possible companion, who fitted in perfectly as a ranged destruction mage.

    You can play this build doing all of the above without getting involved in any serious quest lines, and having fun in the snow. Or perhaps, gradually, the looming threats to the North will start to prey on your mind. The Civil War seems deadlocked, and your skills will be highly prized. Vampires are becoming a serious menace, and the attack on the Hall of the Vigilants right in your own backyard demands a response. There's even rumours of Dragons...


    Warrior 2 by Wlop

    I had a few qualms about posting this build – since we've all seen a few rangers around here before. But actually I had such fun with it that I decided to go ahead and write it up anyway. I've been rolling up any number of characters in Ordinator lately and this is the first one that's really taken off for me. It's an archetype that Skyrim is perfect for, and a good example of how mods can really polish up a classic concept. Credit where it's due - the ghost summoning aspect owes a lot to Vargr's Medium build, one of my all-time favourites. Happy trails...

  • March 7, 2017

    Never have qualms about posting a build. You had fun playing it, and I enjoyed reading it. Great to see an Ordinator build up. I like rangers too and am always looking for a good ranger build. I like the simplicity of presentation and the mod use too. Kudos. Look forward to seeing more from you. 

  • Member
    March 7, 2017

    Excellent build, man. I love the roleplay aspect especially. The use of Frostfall is nothing short of creative, and it looks like a playthrough with this character would be immersive as hell!

  • Member
    March 8, 2017

    I like the "pale" (frost, ghosts) theme of the build and it could make for a nice survivalist type of playthrough. A mod I recommend looking into for this build would be Hunterborn it could add a bit more to the survivalism aspect.

  • March 8, 2017

    My apologies for not leaving a comment on this while it was in the Workshop Plunders, I really should've left one before it left. 

    This is definitely an interesting build to me mate, I really love seeing builds that make use of mods in interesting ways and a Frostfall Based character is the exact sort of thing that I'd love to play. You've written it in an interesting way, and the presentation is really fun and engaging. The only suggestion I have is pretty much what Liss said, all builds are unique as long as they aren't literally taking someone's build and reposting it, even if you play a character that you think has been done 1000 times, it's your character and that's what really matters. Everyone's got a unique writing style, presentation and idea of what a character is and Building is all about sharing yours. 

  • March 8, 2017

    Thanks! It's funny - some of my favourite builds have in them 'well I wasn't gonna post this but'...or words to that effect! I guess the lesson here is that if you find something engaging then other people will too.

    I would love to have played with Hunterborn, but I play on Xbox, and it's not available as far as I know. I will be all over it when it is!

    No need to apologise Dragonborn - I wasn't really looking for feedback in the Workshop. lol - I'm one of these people who does creative things huddled in a corner by themselves - I won't even show something to my husband until I'm happy with it!! I was really just working on the formatting - my computer time is interrupted a lot by small children so I coudn't get it all right in one go and needed to park it in between edits. :)



  • Member
    March 8, 2017

    I would love to try this build out, but sadly I'm not much of a mod guy and I doubt my toaster can run any real mods with the exception of SkyUI. Even Alternate Start makes my game slow and glitched out.

  • Member
    March 8, 2017

    Sweet! I love rangers, and the mods you utilize really bring something new to the table... I can see why you wanted to pull the trigger on this one :D

    Also, the presentation on this is fantastic; it's got a nice, balanced feel to it that makes reading it easy. That's hard to do.

    Again, just wonderfully done!

  • Member
    March 9, 2017

    Plunders, this is amazing! Man, what a build! So beautifully presented, so accessible, and tremendously inspiring. Modded perfectly to bring the character and setting to life. Please don't ever be afraid to share, this is top quality and I want to see more from you for sure!

  • May 16, 2017

    I like the build would you mind tossing on the Modded Tag, or any of the individual mod tags?  Ordinator definitely needs a tag.