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Necronomicon Vol. 4: Dead Thrall

Tags: #Tips and Tricks Guides  #Tips and Tricks Magic  #Necronomicon 
  • May 17, 2016

    Thank you all for joining me again in another discussion on necromancy.  For those of you who are new to the series please check out the Prologue for an explanation on my reasons for creating this series as well as links to all of the previous discussions.  The rest of you will remember that last time I shared a leveling method to get the Dead Thrall spell quickly and early in a play-thru.  Today I want to dissect that spell and really examine how it works, and how to make it work for us.  So put on you smocks and sharpen your scalpels, it’s time to make a Dead Thrall.


    First we should break down what this spell actually does.  In Vol. 2 we identified Dead Thrall thusly…

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

    … 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.

    Well, that future discussion is now.

    The first thing I would like to point out is that the level cap of this spell is 40.  This actually leaves a pretty large selection of possible thralls but one should be aware that some unique targets do not have a level cap meaning they will be unavailable to thrall at higher levels.  While we are talking about levels it is worth noting that thralls continue to level with the player character.  This is actually very freeing when selecting thralls.  If you know of a thrall that you want to use you don’t need to wait until level 40 to get the best version, you are free to grab them right away secure in the knowledge that the thrall will grow in power as you level up.

    The second primary restriction of this spell is that it only works on people, which the game identifies as the ten playable races, their vampire versions, and dremora.  This was the major factor that bothered me about this spell initially, I wanted to be able to thrall bears, trolls, and draugr and felt very limited when I discovered the restriction.  However, instead of focusing on what we can’t thrall instead let’s look at how to make the most out of what can be thralled.

    So, knowing the restrictions what should we look for when choosing a thrall?  Who makes the best thralls?  Instead of trying to find the best thrall possible, I feel it is better to collect several thralls who each excel in a certain area.  The categories that I use to identify types of thralls are as follows.

    Tank:  This is a term many of us are familiar with.  Basically this kind of thrall is created to be a “meat shield” that soaks up damage and takes the attention of the enemy off of us.  They will often pull double duty as meat shield and main offense and should be your first choice when shopping for a thrall.

    Archer:  The obvious range attacker.  I only take an archer thrall if I already have a tank thrall or tank follower.  If you lack a tank then this guy is going to hang out behind you and agro enemies who will need to fight through you to get to him.  Thralls should be protecting their master not the other way around.

    Mage:  Mages are another range attacker that comes in a variety of specializations.  Fire mages are particularly valuable since there are many enemies who are already susceptible to fire damage in Skryim, on the flip side fire mages are practically useless when traveling southern Solstheim.

    ***There is one type of thrall I don’t recommend you use, and this might sound a bit backward to you necromage enthusiasts.  I don’t recommend you thrall fellow necromancers or vampires.  Especially if you have favorite thralls that you want to continue to use.  My reasoning is this, necromancers and vampires have a bad habit of reanimating your favorite thrall should it ever fall in combat, resulting in the thrall being lost forever when it turns to ash.  This also makes facing necromancer and vampire adversaries especially troublesome. ***

    Now you are not limited to just finding these thralls by chance.  They can all be made to varying degrees through equipment or enchanting.

    The easiest thrall to make is the archer.   Any non-mage thrall can be turned into an archer.  Simply place a bow and arrow in their inventory and remove all other weapons.  Once raised they will exclusively use the bow making them dedicated archers.  Similarly pseudo-mage thralls can also be created by simply adding magic staves to the thrall’s inventory.

    The most challenging thralls to create are the tanks.  Simply because there are very few ways to manipulate the thralls health and thralls will only equip weapons, not armor, that you place in their inventory.  This makes any enemy in full heavy armor a valuable thrall target early on.  The one exception to the armor issue is enchanting.  It is possible to remove their armor and enchant it then place the same exact set back on the corpse.  When you raise them they will reequip the, now enchanted, armor (after passing through a loading screen).  Furthermore, if you remove the thralls armor or clothing and pass through a loading screen again they will spawn and equip a new (un-enchanted) set.  This allows you to upgrade the enchantments on their equipment and can be used as a good source of income on the side.  This works with any kind of “enthrallment” technique not just the Dead Thrall spell.

    Equipping the Dead

    As mentioned above equipping thralls is a unique process.  When it comes to weapons they are easier to dictate then followers.  I’m sure you have had instances when your heavily armed and armored houscarl decides to use her hunting bow instead of the Ebony Warhammer of the Apocalypse you meticulously crafted for her.  This is especially frustrating when you are playing a mage character and the whole point of your follower is to tank enemies.  All followers have a hidden bow and arrow set and for some reason they seem to prefer this even if you give them a better bow.  This is not a problem with thralls. 

    Thralls will equip the strongest weapon in their inventory whatever it may be.  The exception is mages who tend to prefer their spells.  So if you want a deadly melee fighter just make sure the only weapon in their inventory is the one you want them to use.  Likewise thralls can be turned into deadly archers by equipping them with only the bow and arrow type you want them to use and nothing else.  Note that thralls, like followers, have infinite arrows.  So giving them a single high quality arrow is enough to make them into a deadly sharp shooter.

    Enchantments, as with everything else, will vary depending on the role you want your thrall to play in combat.  Certain enchantments don’t work on followers and it seems that holds true for thralls as well.  Below I’ve outlined my suggested enchantments based on the role of your thrall.  In the cases where multiple enchantments are listed this is too accommodate the Extra Effect perk.  In these cases the enchantments are listed in order of preference.


    • Head:    No beneficial enchantments are available for tanks

    • Chest:   Fortify Heavy Armor/Fortify Health

    • Hands:  Fortify Heavy Armor

    • Feet:     Resist Element/Fortify Stamina

    • Weapon:             Absorb Health

    Absorb health is a fantastic enchantment for tanks.  Would you like a self-healing undead monstrosity?  Yes please!  When it comes to elemental resistance I always prefer fire resistance over the other two elements with one exception, nords.  I always give nord thralls frost resistance making them nearly unstoppable against ice mages and enemy necromancers.


    • Head:    No beneficial enchantments are available for archers

    • Chest:   Fortify Health/Fortify Heavy Armor/Fortify Light Armor

    • Hands:  Fortify Heavy Armor/Fortify Light Armor

    • Feet:     Resist Element/Fortify Stamina

    • Weapon:             Fiery Soul Trap

    The armor enchantment depends on the thrall.  I personally prefer heavy armored thralls whenever I can get them and give them whatever weapon best suits my needs.  I love the Fiery Soul Trap enchantment, especially at low levels.   A one second soul trap will have hundreds of charges and still do 10 points of fire damage.  This enchantment will also turn your thrall into a soul trapping machine, just dump all your empty gems in the thrall’s inventory.


    • Head:    Fortify Magicka/ Fortify Magicka Regen

    • Chest:   Fortify Magicka Regen/Fortify Health

    • Hands:  Fortify Magicka

    • Feet:     Resist Element

    • Weapon:             Absorb Magicka

    Magicka all the way, the reason you take a mage is for their spells so it only makes sense to keep them casting as long as possible.  To that end the best weapon enchantment is definitely Absorb Magicka.  Mages only switch to melee when they run out of magicka to cast spells, a weapon that siphons off the enemies blue stuff will get them casting again in no time.

    Well, I think that’s where I’ll end this discussion.  Next time I think I’ll outline some of my favorite thrall targets and why I like them so much. 

    Until we meet again,

    Sincerely yours in Sithis,



  • Member
    May 17, 2016

    Excellent tips here, the whole project so far has been very inspiring. Been a long time since I last used Dead Thrall. Good job Vargr.

    Did you ever see Mason's trick of equipping your thralls with quest items so as to never lose track of where they are?

  • Member
  • May 17, 2016

    Thanks Phil!

    Yes I believe it was the Rise of the Fallen character build or something along that line.  It's a great trick.

  • May 17, 2016

    Thanks Relycs.  I'm actually covering notable thralls in the next volume.  I will probably post it tomorrow once I find pics that I like. 

    That's why there aren't any fortify weapon skill enchantments in my suggestions and why there aren't useful head piece enchantments for tanks and archers.