Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: The Witchhunter

  • November 14, 2012


    The witch hunter was one of my favourite builds to play and so was near the top of my revamp list. This new and improved version is much closer to what long time tes fans will be familiar with and offers great roleplay and powerplay options.

    The Build

    Race: Breton

    Major skills: Archery, Conjuration, Enchanting

    Minor skills: Destruction, Sneak, Illusion

    Shouts: Storm call, Aura whisper, Dragon aspect, Fire breath

    Key Spells: Chain lightning, Fire ball, Summon Arvak, Conjure x atronach

    Stone: The Lord


    Head-Mage hood- Fortify conjuration and destruction

    Body-College robes-Fortify Magicka and Destruction

    Boots-Fine boots- Carrying capacity and stamina regen

    Gloves- Gloves-Fortify magicka and carrying capacity

    Ring- Magicka regen and fortify Magicka

    Amulet- Fortify Magicka and Magicka resistance

    Breton was an obvious racial choice here, and has been for the pre-made classes in previous TES games. Their resistance to magicka is great for obvious reasons, and can easily be pushed higher with the lord stone and enchanted items later in the game. They also have a starting bonus in conjuration and the conjure familiar spell, which is very useful until you can summon the elemental atronachs.

    Everything in this build supports the conjuration skill, which helps to make the witch hunter what it is. Starting combat with a silently summoned atronach, the witch hunter can use the distraction caused to start firing arrows or spells to take down whatever they are up against with no fear of retaliation. Think of the atronachs as expendable resources. Use them as a punching bag for your enemy while you, the real danger, strike silently from the shadows.

    I chose to leave this as another unarmoured build, with the only armor rating coming from the lord stone. In oblivion, the witch hunter was the only pre-made class that didn’t use an armor skill or block to help keep them alive and I wanted to recreate that here. Instead, witch hunters would conjure their own armor in oblivion, as well as relying on their summons and ranged combat prowess to stay alive. This can now be recreated in Skyrim using the dragon aspect shout, which is almost perfect for the witch hunter, giving weightless armor, as well as extra summons which do not interfere with manual ones, greater shout cooldown for using aura whisper to scout ahead and fire breath to do huge damage with fire within and Dragonborn flame, and extra elemental resistance.

    I debated with myself on whether to use bows or crossbows for this build. I felt that crossbows offered more damage, while bows offered faster draw speed and a better fit for roleplay purposes. In the end I figured why not both, and decided to take advantages of both of their benefits. I used crossbows for power weapons. I enchanted them with high elemental damage to help take enemies down quickly. The enhanced crossbows were especially useful against mages as their bolts can penetrate flesh spells and wards, giving a total of 10% physical damage increase, before even considering elemental bolts or enchantments. I utilised the faster draw speed of the bow to apply status effects to enemies. Paralysis, banish, turn undead and fear all came in handy at different points, and the faster draw speed meant I was able to hit more opponents with them in a shorter space of time.


    Role playing as a witch hunter can be very enjoyable and realistic in Skyrim. There are so many minor quests involving killing mages, vampires and undead that being a witch hunter can be very profitable. With the addition of dawnguard, you now have a whole quest line to fall into.

    I’ve also thought of a few questions to help build up a backstory for your own witch hunters.

    Why did you become a Witch hunter?

    What did you do before that?

    Are/were you a part of a guild of witch hunters?

    What are your goals as a Witch hunter?

    Where/how did you learn x skill?

    Do you ever plan to retire?

    What brings you to Skyrim?

    Horseback combat

    Mounted combat never seems to be popular in builds, probably because it is so limited in the way it was implemented in the game.
    However, the extra speed is perfect for a witch hunter, allowing them to dodge spells and return accurate fire using the steady hand perk.

    Arvak is probably the best horse in the game for two reasons. Firstly, since he is a summon he can never die or be lost. Secondly, because he can be summoned in any outside area, while other horses are limited to Skyrim, meaning you can use him anywhere.


    Now how to make horse combat something more than “Shoot/stab bad guy from horse”? Well, the answer is shouts; specifically shouts that work best in outside areas, namely Storm call; the ultimate shout for putting the hurt on any kind of mage. By using this shout, and then quickly summoning Arvak, you’ve become almost impossible to hit, dealing huge damage to health and magicka without even doing anything, and can easily take advantage of steady hand to make sure every arrow you fire finds its mark. By the time the storm dies down, there’ll be nothing left except piles of ash.


    Image pending:

    M: 260(400+ with enchantments) H: 260 S:260

    Conjuration: This skill may seem surprisingly under perked, but the idea is that your summons are just a distraction and that you will be doing most of the work. Cost reduction is taken up to expert for using storm atronachs, while I only went as high as atromancy in the left branch for longer lasting summons and casting them from further away.

    Archery: Archery is very straight forward, stopping at quick shot for faster reloads and greater stagger chance, as paralysis can be achieved through enchantments as and when needed. Steady hand was very important here, specifically on horseback where it is put to good use.

    Enchanting: All of your own gear should be enchanted, so I took everything in the left and central branches. The elemental perks make your crossbows deal higher damage, while the central branch helps to augment your clothing with cost reduction, extra magicka and magicka resistance.

    Destruction: Destruction may seem a bit redundant with archery but it is actually still very useful. Runes provide some extra protection, while the disintegrate perk makes necromancers much easier to deal with. I took cost reduction up to adept as AoE spells are great for hitting multiple enemies and levelling up the destruction skill.


    Illusion: This skill is mainly just to get the quiet casting perk, but the spells muffle and invisibility can help to give you an extra advantage when remaining undetected.

    Sneak: The sneak skill allows the witch hunter to deal extra damage while remaining undetected in the shadows. I only took the extra damage perks as the aforementioned illusion spells were enough to avoid detection.


    Crossbows: The following enchants were all applied to the enhanced dwarven crossbow to deal the most damage.

    Mage Bane- Lightning damage + Damage magicka- This weapon is the primary weapon for killing enemies who use magic based attacks.

    Dragon Breath- Fire damage + fiery soul trap- This weapon is used against undead enemies and collecting souls for enchanting.

    The Longshot- Fire damage + Absorb stamina- This weapon is used to kill enemies from great distances.



    Bows: The following enchants were all applied to the forsworn bow for its fast draw speed.

    Dread- Banish + Paralyse- This weapon is used for banishing Daedra or paralysing strong enemies.

    Purge- Fire damage + Turn undead- This weapon is used for fearing swarms of undead enemies.

    Repel- Fear + Fire damage- This weapon is used for fearing swarms of mortal enemies.


    Special Move

    Conductor: Using a storm atronach and the chain lightning spell, you can hit multiple enemies who you don’t have a clear view of. As the storm atronach is impervious to lightning damage it won’t ever turn on you, allowing you to hit anything close to it, even when your shot is obstructed.




    Witchhunter’s Bestiary

    Just a short guide to help you deal with the different types of mages and dark beings you encounter in Skyrim.

    Elemental mages: First, identify which element they specialise in, and summon an atronach of the same element as a distraction, making their magic useless. From here, focus on dealing lightning damage to them until they are dead.

    Necromancers: Necromancers use frost destruction magic, so use a frost atronach to distract them. While they are busy, use lightning magic to kill all nearby enemies, disintegrating them so they are of no use to the necromancer. When this is done, it will easy to dispose of them.

    Conjurers: At low levels, use an atronach of the same element as theirs to distract their one. From there, attack the conjurer with lightning attacks to wipe out their magicka and kill them. At higher levels, summon a storm atronach to summon the conjurer while you use a banish bow to get rid of their summon. From there, turn your attention to the conjurer and finish them off.

    Vampires: Vampires are very easy to deal with. Use a fire atronach to distract them while you drain their magicka with lightning attacks until they can no longer absorb health. Once this happens use fire based attacks to finish them quickly.

    Draugr: Summon a fire atronach for extra firepower and use a turn undead bow to send them fleeing. Follower close behind using fire damage to finish them off.

    Lycanthropes: Use Arvak to give you extra speed, using storm call and fire enchanted weapons to finish the fight quickly.


    Well, thanks for reading guys and I hope you liked it. If you saw the previous version of this, let me know what you think of the newer one in the comments. I’d just like to give a quick thanks to Ben C for his help and Nikolaij for his great testing.

    Art Credit in order of use: And

    I’ll be posting a video for the build when my capture card is fixed/replaced.

  • November 14, 2012

    Very well presented Twisted! I liked it almost immediately because I already saw it on YouTube btw . I'm loving the Mage Bane and the perk spread presentation picture. I'm definately going to see if I can try it out. Very well done +1

  • Member
    November 14, 2012

    Really great build Twisted!!!!

  • November 15, 2012

    Thanks for your support so far guys. Just to let you know there is a big update coming today. I'll post here again when it's done so be sure to take a look.

  • Member
    November 15, 2012

    Sniper kills are the best !! I also love your use of unarmed attacks in combination with lightning cloak ( Chidori! ) +1

  • November 15, 2012

    I've updated the build with three new sections: Combat Bestiary, Why you should play this build and The Dark Path. I will be adding more images soon. Let me know what you all think in the comments.

  • November 15, 2012

    I have heard (correct me if I am wrong) that the armsman perks in one handed no longer effect daggers.  Is it viable then to create a Witchhunter of a different race that relies on daggers (elemental fury) rather than unarmed combat?

  • November 15, 2012

    You could easily make a unarmed Witchhunter of another race if you wanted to. If you really want to include daggers I would suggest not perking one handed at all and Enchanting them rather than using elemental fury.

  • Member
    November 16, 2012

    Twisted, you beat me to it :P. I am currently overhauling my Katarri, therefore i am gathering info on Skyrim's fauna to make a bestiary of my own. Well done !

  • November 16, 2012

    I still think you should do it. It would be different to mine as yours would be specifically for how your character deals with enemies.