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Character Build: The Manticore

Tags: #Character Build Dual-Wield  #Character Build Juggernaut  #Character Build Alchemist  #Rank:Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build 
  • July 15, 2012

    The myth of the Manticore is that of a legendary creature, part man and part lion, who "may shoot poisonous spines to either paralyze or kill its victims [and] devours its prey whole." In other words, the perfect backdrop for Elsweyr's most feared champion.

    Just pretend that's two weapons he's holding and you've got yourself this build.


    The Manticore

    Between the half-man, half-lion looks of the Khajiit race, the synergy between poisons, paralysis and dual-wielding, and the Namira-approved ability to feast on corpses (Manticore does translate to Man-Eater after all), this myth is pretty easily - and awesomely - converted to the realm of Skyrim. And since I haven't noticed too many builds with a day one focus on straight-up, face-to-face dual wielding, and even less that utilize Alteration as a primary skill rather than just a support-style means to the oft-desired end of passive magic resistance/absorption, the legend of the Manticore is the perfect way to tie it all together.

    Before looking to mythology for a means of wrapping up this package, I knew I wanted to try a dual-wield focus, as it was the only combat style I'd yet to truly delve into. And fortunately enough for this build, my beloved two-handed weapon-wielding Berserker playthrough had given me enough experience in having my hands full with glorious weapony goodness to know that there's nothing more cumbersome than constantly having to switch between your weapons and spells. And so Restoration would take a back-seat to Alchemy, as potions can be hotkey-used on the fly. But Two-Handers like the Berserker can block, whereas a dual-wielder cannot, so poisons become equally as important so as to drop enemies before they can put the hurt on you, and keeping that armor-rating up there is also a must. And so, with that framework of knowing Alchemy's importance going in, and knowing that spell-casting should be kept to pre-battle prep, post-battle maintenance, and the rare emergency use during combat, I was armed for one of the most thrilling playthroughs I've had yet.

    Only thing worse than a Manticore? Multiple Manticores!


    The Build

    Race: Khajiit
    Stone: Serpent
    Major Skills: One-Handed, Alchemy, Alteration
    Minor Skills: Heavy Armor, Smithing, Restoration
    Gear: Namira's Ring + Ebony Mail & Orcish Helm/Gloves/Boots + Scimitars & Windshear
    Shouts: Elemental Fury, Slow Time, Unrelenting Force, Dragon Rend, Whirlwind Sprint, Ice Form
    Spells: Flesh Spells, Paralysis, Healing

    And so the build takes form in a relatively straightforward manner: wear the biggest, heaviest set of armor you can and further boost your defenses with constant, constant casting of Flesh spells to keep yourself alive in lieu of only being able to block enemies' attacks with your face. Heavily investing in health is also a must, and utilizing Namira's Ring to feast upon your fallen foes and in turn boost your health and  stamina fits in perfectly with both the myth of the Manticore and the demands of the playstyle at hand.

    Aside from keeping your health and armor rating up (and maybe taking a dog along to soak up some aggro), the other real key to survival comes from staggering and knocking foes down as often as possible. Staggers are your block and parry, your first line of defense. In other words, cook and eat vegetable soup often to keep your power attacks coming, use shouts like Ice Form and Unrelenting Force, Paralysis spells and poisons and your Serpent Stone power to take out threats before they become a real issue. A straightforward means of defense becomes less and less important as you pile on these other means of controlling the battlefield. And so it's easy to see why Windshear is thus the culmination of the philosophy at hand here, and your ultimate weapon. (Plus Scimitars are the perfect aesthetic match for a desert-dwelling race, and I don't know if you've heard about Elsweyr...)

    With defense covered, all that's left is bolstering your offensive power, and there isn't much needed in that department (that is what dual-wielding's all about, after all). Become a swirling tempest of steel and most foes should fall easily at your feet (or on your proverbial dinner plate, if you will). Your Alchemical prowess should assist with those especially tough enemies, and the culmination of the synergy between this build's lore and gameplay comes in the form of Ebony Mail. Set your sights on that sweet little set of armor and you'll be dealing massive amounts of poison damage to all those you engage in melee combat- and really, what could be more fitting?! And though it isn't available until level 30, you can still look insanely awesome in a set of Steel Plate armor with Orcish Boots, Gloves and Helm until then. Seriously, try that out on a Khajiit and you'll feel your character embody the spirit of the legendary Manticore himself (or herself).

    When they say she's a Man-Eater, they mean it literally.


    Level 50 Perk Spread:

    Click Here




    So once again, I forego Enchanting, for two main reasons: the first being that most of the important items come pre-enchanted (Windshear, Ebony Mail, Namira's Ring) and the other being that it makes good loot mean something when you find it, knowing you won't be making a set of armor yourself eventually that'll just surpass it anyway. Finding an Orcish Helm of Magic Resistance or Orcish Gloves of One-Handed Ass-Kickery (or whatever they're called) is a rewarding experience here. Plus you've got Alchemy to boost everything ever if need be. The Restoration perks may seem strange as hell but the simple fact is that you only need it to heal after combat so as to save up potions, and you don't need much more than Novice healing for that, and it's honestly worth training it (as much as it'll cost) all the way up to the eventual end-goal of level 90 for Avoid Death, for yet another superb line of defense on a character who can't block.

    As for Shouts, the usual combat primaries of Elemental Fury and Slow Time turn you into a blinding storm of metal and poison not to be messed with by anyone, ever. Whirlwind Sprint is surprisingly effective at helping you close the gap between your unblocking-self and distant archers and mages. Dragon Rend is a must for bringing those beasts down to your level, where they shouldn't expect to ever be allowed to take fight again. And lastly, Unrelenting Force and Ice Form are great alternatives to your paralysis spells/poisons and Serpent Stone ability for when you need to temporarily eliminate some threats from the battle to absolutely devastate their whoever's left standing.


    Special Moves


    Close the gap between yourself and archers/mages/other cowardly distance-keeping foes in a heartbeat, then use your momentum to deal them some death just as swiftly as you've arrived in their faces. Whirlwind Sprint + Critical Charge



    Dispose of your greatest distant threats of all, the airborne kind, just as easily as your grounded foes. Bring a dragon down to your level and keep him there with constant staggering power attacks. Dragon Rend + Vegetable Soup.


    The Man-Eater:

    After paralyzing every minor threat in sight, focus your efforts on whomever's left standing, and turn even the most powerful enemy into your next meal when your poisons tick away at their health at an accelerated rate and your dual-wield power attacks apply the poison's effects 4x over! Crafted Weakness to Poison/DPS Poison + Boethiah's Embrace (Ebony Mail) + Slow Time.



  • July 15, 2012

    I was just about to use that second in picture in a build...Good Build though, +1

  • Member
    July 15, 2012

    Nice build once again, I'm surprised how often people neglect to use Alchemy instead of Restoration on a primarily dual-wield/two-handed build (I mentioned it way back in January on one of mine). Good myth conversion, interesting enough skillset/playstyle. I'd probably add a Weakness to Poison poison in the last special move - Ebony Mail Aura does poison damage! And another I might add is with Concentrated poison do a dual-wield power attack with both poisoned weapons, inflicting the poison 4 times (2 for each weapon).

    Since this is most likely going to get a s***load of likes over the next dozen hours or so, I'll leave ranking it until then.

  • Ian
    July 15, 2012

    Instant like for my man snakes here. But seriously another great build which will probably rocket to legend status within the week.

  • July 15, 2012

    Thanks all, for the awesome feedback. I've incorporated some of your suggestions already while I work on figuring out how to format my perk spread properly lol.

    MAJOR thanks and credit to Ponty for those recommendations - you're truly the man at this stuff.

    Also changed the name of that special move to avoid Daniel Tosh levels of fallout, so thanks for the the recommendation to keep things politically correct, Ben. lol

  • Member
    November 22, 2016

    Build restored!