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Character Build: The Dread Knight

Tags: #Character Build Knight  #Character Build No Crafting  #Character Build Werewolf  #Rank:Mythic  #Hall of Fame Build  #TwistedOrthrusBuild 
  • December 7, 2012

    The Dread Knight

    Something that bothers me when playing as a typical Orc warrior is that no one is scared of you. Having a pissed off Orc charge at you, swinging a weapon bigger than a Bosmer, would leave most sane people turning and running as fast as they could. However this is not the case, and even skeevers and mudcrabs will attack you like they have a chance at winning. It’s time to remind the denizens of Skyrim where they belong on the food chain.

    The Build

    Race: Orc

    Standing Stone: Lord

    Key Shouts: Dragonrend, Unrelenting force, Ice form, Dismay

    Equipment: Either a full Ebony or Orcish set of armor, with a matching two handed weapon (I went with swords).

    Followers: Either Dawnguard or Companions



    Here I’ll go into detail on each skill choice and talk about some of the key perks in each one.


    Illusion is the key to making this build work. You focus on fear spells and making them as powerful as possible. “Kindred mage” and “Aspect of Terror” are key perks, to help make fear spells as powerful as possible. Illusion dual casting is also a major help to this build, and when combined with the above perks, the basic “fear spell” can affect enemies up to level 38, making cost reduction perks up to Expert unnecessary. “Master of the mind” is the final key perk in illusion and will make all but the strongest of enemies fear you. See further on for how to deal with these types of enemies until you get the perk.

    Two handed:

    This skill is taken to fit the theme of a typical angry Orc. Hauling a huge axe or sword around yields higher damage and extra reach than one handed weapons, which combines well with the Orc’s racial ability. Barbarian should be maxed out and great critical charge should be taken to deal extra damage when chasing down fleeing enemies.


    While slightly out of character for an Orc, this skill is still important to the build. Crossbows should be used for a better fit, both gameplay and roleplay wise for a primarily heavy warrior build. “Power shot” is a very useful perk you can reach quickly to help keep enemies from escaping. While it is reported this stacks with the crossbows initial 50% chance to stagger, from my own testing I have found it does not. This means they act as separate stagger chances, which brings the overall chance to stagger up to 75%. Ranger is another key perk in this build and is worth the perk investment to get it. Since you will be chasing fleeing enemies it makes sense to be able to move quickly. The final key perk for archery is “Bullseye”. While this perk is usually considered a poor choice as it makes targets harder to shoot, for this build it can incapacitate a fleeing enemy, leaving you free to destroy them up close with a two handed weapon.

    Heavy Armor:

    Heavy armor is what Orcs are famous for, so it makes sense to use it here. Maxing out “Juggernaut”, “Well fitted” and “Matching set” is important to help survivability and make up for a lack of crafting skills. I couldn’t decide between Orcish (Brutal warrior look)and Ebony armor (Black knight look) sets so switched between the two on my playthrough. The Lord stone also helps in this, and gives some extra defence against magic users. Conditioning is also important here, keeping you light on your feet to chase down the enemies you terrify.


    Block gives added defence to the build and compliments the two handed skill. “Shield wall” is maxed out, to compensate for blocking with two handed weapons rather than a shield. “Quick reflexes” is the only other skill taken, giving you an edge in combat for a “bash and counter” fighting style.


    I never intended to include this in the build, but during play testing I found that the extra health went a long way and my perks were well spent. “Respite” and “Regeneration” were very helpful in maintaining my health and stamina during harder fights. I also went up to apprentice level cost reduction perks and would recommend going no higher.


    In my opinion, a much better choice for a fear based build and a very useful set of perks. I recommend getting “Savage feeding” as fast as possible to help perk progression. “Totem of terror” is also key to help maximise the effectiveness of your fear howl.

    Perk Spread



    Combat tactics

    The Dread Knight can employ 3 different combat strategies to defeat enemies.

    The Chaser

    The Dread Knight uses fear on all nearby enemies forcing them to flee. He then chases them down using whatever methods he can to slow them down. This includes stagger and paralysis effects from archery, but also using unrelenting force and ice form to knock enemies to the ground. Great critical charge can also be put to use when chasing enemies down, while a “Bash and slash” tactic can be used to keep an enemy you chase down getting any further away. However, after 30 seconds the fear effect will wear off and enemies will come at you again. By this time though, your magicka should have regenerated so you can rinse and repeat until everything lies dead.


    The Duelist

    The Dread Knight uses fear on all but one of his opponents, giving himself 30 seconds to defeat an enemy in one on one combat. Again, unrelenting force and ice form can be used to knock the enemy to the ground, giving himself an unfair advantage. A “Bash and counter” fighting style is used to deal maximum damage while taking very little. When the fight is over, you can repeat the tactic and whittle down enemy numbers until they all lie dead.





    The Hunter

    The Dread Knight transforms into a wild beast and spreads terror with a powerful roar. Use the totem of terror howl and then chase down fleeing enemies. The howl has no cooldown so it can be used freely. This also gives you time to feed without fear of death making your wolf form last longer.

    Other enemies

    Certain enemies can be resistant to fear spells and so here is how to deal with them.

    Undead, Automatons and Daedra

    Automatons and Daedra will be addressed first. Daedra are very uncommon to find, and are usually on their own. Either kill the mage who summoned them quickly, or beat them in one on one combat.  

    Automatons are only encountered in dwemer ruins and for the most part are easy to avoid until you get the “Master of the mind” perk. If facing them cannot be avoided, make sure to take a recommended follower along to help. The Dawnguard followers wield crossbows and are use full for ranged support, while the companions make for good tanks to soak up damage.

    The undead are the most commonly encountered of the three, but fortunately the easiest to deal with. Picking up a silver greatsword in the companions quest line can be a huge help here. I also found that casting the restoration spell “Sunfire” in the place of fear at the start of battles can help even the odds in fights. Dawnguard followers are recommended when taking on the undead.


    Being unaffected by fear makes dragons a difficult opponent for this build. However they can be easily dealt with through sheer force. Use Dragonrend, followed quickly by berserker rage and then beast form. By using power attacks when the dragon lands it can be easily dealt with.


    What is unique and why you should play

    The number one reason that I would recommend this build is simple; it’s fun. You can feel like a true orc scaring the crap out of anyone who gets in his way. While playing, I felt like a movie monster, chasing down the protagonist while he tripped and stumbled over constantly. The only difference being that this guy never lets his prey escape.


    This quickly became one of my favourite builds because of the unique gameplay style and the lack of crafting. Nothing kills enjoyment more than spamming iron daggers or mixing potions. This build can be just as much of a badass without it and can jump right into the action.


    The Bear of the North

    I will soon be testing a variation of this build that uses Dragonborn content (No spoilers here guys). I will post this up soon for a variation on the original that I hope you will enjoy. You can also expect updates once I have tested the potential of other Dragonborn content.

    Anyway, hope you guys like the build and let me know what you think in the comments.

    Image credit (In order of appearance) for


  • December 7, 2012

    a very good build +1

  • December 8, 2012
    This seems pretty good and no crafting witch makes it a "just go and do what you do" kind of build. If you know how to fight then just do that! Good job!
  • December 8, 2012

    Yeah, I love non-crafting builds. Crafting is great sometimes but spending so much time out of combat starts to suck pretty quickly. Sometimes it's just more fun to jump straight in without having to worry about it, and this build can definitely do just that.

  • December 8, 2012
    You just did in a few hours am I right? Great job!
  • December 8, 2012

    Thanks for the kind words AFG. I have some ideas for an Argonian, but you'll have to wait until I've played through Dragonborn. As for this build, I really felt that Orcs should scare the crap out of their enemies so I wanted to capture it properly. What I came out with is this monster.

  • December 8, 2012

    I'm sorry can you please explain that comment. I'm tired and can't think right now.

  • December 8, 2012
    Was it a quick build? Did you recently make it? Lol
  • December 8, 2012

    No, I've put 100 hours into this guy. I honestly still don't want to put him away and I've neglected much of Dragonborn because of it.

  • December 8, 2012
    Cuz I like quick "to the point" Builds