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Necronomicon Vol. 2: Reanimation vs. Enthrallment

Tags: #Tips and Tricks Guides  #Tips and Tricks Magic  #Necronomicon 
  • May 11, 2016

    Greetings everyone, and welcome back.  If you are new to the series you can find the Intro as well as links to all of the discussions so far here.  To those of you dark practitioners who have been following along you remember that I promised to go over the specific techniques available to us in Skyrim.  So let’s get to it shall we?

    In Skyrim necromancy can be broken down into two types (well actually three but we’ll get into that another time).  I’ve come to call the two types Reanimation and Enthrallment.  The differentiating factor is the condition of the body after the spell effect expires.  Reanimation is a crude form of necromancy that after a brief period of activity turns the corpse into a pile of iridescent but useless ash.  The second type (Enthrallment) leaves the body intact and ready for future use.  You are probably already familiar with the different methods of reanimating and enthralling, either way I have listed them here for reference.


      Raise Zombie:  Reanimate a weak dead body (up to level 6) for 60 seconds.  Magicka base cost 103.

      Reanimate Corpse:  Reanimate a more powerful dead body (up to level 13) for 60 seconds.  Magicka base cost 144.

      Revenant:  Reanimate a powerful dead body (up to level 21) for 60 seconds.  Magicka base cost 183.

      Dread Zombie:  Reanimate a very powerful dead body (up to level 30) for 60 seconds.  Magicka base cost 302.



      Dead Thrall:  Reanimate a dead body (up to level 40) permanently.  Only works on people.  Magicka base cost 1000.

      Staff of Zombies:  Reanimate a weak dead body (up to level 3) for 60 seconds.

      Staff of Reanimation:  Reanimate a more powerful dead body (up to level 6) for 60 seconds.

      Staff of Revenants:  Reanimate a powerful dead body (up to level 9) for 60 seconds.

      Staff of Dread Zombies:  Reanimate a very powerful dead body (up to level 12) for 60 seconds.

      Ritual Stone Daily Power:  Once a day the user can raise all nearby dead bodies (up to level 75) for about 2 minutes.

      Vampire’s Servant (stage 1 vampirism):  Once a day reanimate a weak dead body (up to level 6) for 60 seconds.

      Vampire’s Servant (stage 2 vampirism):  Once a day reanimate a more powerful dead body (up to level 13) for 60 seconds.

      Vampire’s Servant (stage 3 vampirism):  Once a day reanimate a powerful dead body (up to level 21) for 60 seconds.

      Vampire’s Servant (stage 4 vampirism):  Once a day reanimate a very powerful dead body (up to level 30) for 60 seconds.

    Generally speaking enthralling a corpse is preferable to reanimating since it doesn’t destroy the subject, allowing future use.  However, enthrallment has some hurtles that can make reanimation appealing.  Firstly the reanimation spell tomes are the most reliable forms of necromancy attainable in the game.  They are carried by multiple spell vendors and the first two even have guaranteed locations where they can be found.  They allow multiple castings limited only by your available magicka reserve.  There are two key downfalls to this class of necromancy, the short duration of the spell and the destruction of the body once the spell expires. 

    There are two enthralling variants that mimic the reanimation set of spells without destroying the body, though they still suffer from short durations, the variants are Staves and the Vampire’s Servant ability.  However both of these techniques trade destroying the body with their own limitations. 

    Staves are significantly weaker than their spell counterpart when it comes to the level of corpse you can raise.  For instance the apprentice level spell (Reanimate Corpse) can raise higher level zombies then the strongest staff (Staff of Dread Zombies).  The benefit to staff use is conservation both of the corpse and your magicka reserve.   A descent staff can be very useful during the early levels, and it should be noted that a guaranteed Staff of Revenants can be found in an unmarked ruin just southeast of Morthal.  Since this can be easily acquired at level 1 it is a useful tool for the novice necromancer and will be able to raise just about anything you come across for the first ten or so levels before enemies start leveling out of its ability range.

    ***Tip:  My preferred use of staves is to grab an enemy in the early areas of a dungeon (most dungeons have someone guarding the entrance) and keep them around until a better target comes along.  Best targets for staves are archers and mages, since staves affect lower level corpses its best to keep them out of the thick of things.  Bring along a tank follower and let your zombie attack at range.  This will let you get the most out of your zombie and mitigate the number of times you need to raise them. ***

    The Vampire’s Servant ability has two drawbacks.  Firstly it can only be used once a day which makes the spell versions drawback of destroying the body irrelevant since you can’t raise it again anyway.  Second you have to be a vampire, the downside of this varies from playstyle to playstyle but there are some inherent negatives to vampirism like sun and fire weakness which are directly related to the strength of your Vampire’s Servant ability.  I should note that this ability costs no magicka making it a useful panic button ability for protracted battles where you are low on magicka.

    The Ritual Stone Daily Power is unique in necromancy since it targets not one but multiple dead bodies; in fact there is no limit to the number of bodies this technique can raise.  It also has the highest level cap able to raise powerful zombies like giants.  It too has its draw backs, the major one being that it can only be used once a day, the other being duration since it only lasts a few minutes.

    The final form of enthralling that I haven’t talked about yet is the spell that this version of necromancy gets its name from, the Dead Thrall spell.  It is the most powerful raise dead spell available in game able to raise bodies up to level 40, has an unlimited duration, and doesn’t turn the target into ash.  It’s one drawback, and it is a significant one, it can only raise people.  This includes the ten main races and the few dremora that can be found in game.  The spell is incredibly complex and nuanced but we will cover it in more detail in a future discussion.

    Lastly I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are some alchemical and artificial means of bypassing some of the drawbacks found in these techniques.  Don’t worry like Dead Thrall they too will have to wait for a future discussion.  I hope you’ve found this discussion helpful at least in a categorical way.

    Next time I think I’m going to share a leveling method that I find very helpful whenever I play a necromancer.  It bypasses much of the low level powers and jumps straight to the good stuff.

    Till then,

    Beolfag’s dutiful thrall,


  • Member
    May 12, 2016
    You should mention that the necromage perk from the restoration tree allows you to raise corpses with a 25% higher lvl.
  • Member
    May 12, 2016

    Very nice!

    I should note that the Unofficial Patch apparently makes corpses raised by staves turn to ash. 

    And I'm sure everyone knows this by now, but one (cheesy) way around the Ritual Stone's 1/day limit is to use the Aetherial Crown. 

    So Dead Thrall doesn't work on, say, Hagravens?  I was wondering if it'd be possible to have a couple hagraven thralls for a Reachman build I plan on...

  • May 12, 2016

    I may be wrong but my testing leads me to believe that necromage only lets you raise vampire corpses with a 25% higher lvl.  Normal corpses are unaffected.  I may be wrong since I play on xbox and my ability to test is limited to trial and error.

  • May 12, 2016

    Yes, I mention that there are some alchemical/artificial means of by passing certain restrictions and crown exploit is certainly one of them.  In fact I plan on discussing those work arounds.

    Sadly no the Dead Thrall spell does not work on hagravens. 

  • Member
    May 14, 2016

    Again, very cool! Do you know if any of the perks in the necromancy side of the tree influence any of the staves? For instance, will Dark Souls perk effect unread raised using a staff?

  • May 14, 2016
    Thanks Phil and yes conjuration perks like necromancy and dark souls both work on staves.
  • Member
    May 15, 2016

    Thanks Vargr 

  • Member
    May 31, 2016
    Would necromage work with staves?
  • May 31, 2016

    It does but only on undead targets.  For instance it will work for raising vampires but not on your average bandit.