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Event Build: Census and Excise

Tags: #Character Build Mage  #Character Build No Crafting  #Character Build Mage Armor  #Race:Bosmer  #Rank:Event Exemplar  #Event:Factions  #TheLordArchcanon 
  • Member
    May 15, 2014

    This build was inspired by my playing through Morrowind’s intro yet again; I wondered how the story would have went if I had joined up with Ergalla and his band of merry men, and did nothing to save Morrowind. Seeing the character event on the Skyrim Blog, I saw a good chance to try this out. This build needs Dragonborn DLC to function as advertised, though it should *technically* work without. This is due to the fact that Apocrypha is full of the best scrolls, and it respawns. Dawnguard DLC is recommended for the Aetherial Crown, but you can just pretend that the agent knows how to pick locks instead of using the Tower Stone with the Crown. Hearthfire DLC is not necessary, because it adds almost no content to anything regarding actual gameplay. If you dislike anything about this build, please respond in the comments, because I really want feedback. Please criticize the Perk and Equipment layouts as well- they were the first that I have personally created, so I realize that I did not get too creative with them. Also, Vazgen has helped me fix an issue with the perks, which was very helpful.

    The Census and Excise branch of the Empire, whose job it is to occasionally count the population of separate settlements and create export taxes, has been largely overlooked in the topic of Skyrim’s economy. The Census and Excise agency is responsible for governmental income, and by extension, everything that happens in the Empire. A member of this group would practice guile naturally in their trade, but would seem a rather useless Hero.

    None of the games have gone into detail on the members of the Census and Excise branch of commerce, let alone force them into a combat style. The closest that the agency has come to combat was the standard group of weaponry skills from Morrowind’s factions: Long Blade and Marksman. However, I have decided to take this build in a very different direction in terms of gameplay: scrolls. The agent is not only intelligent and wealthy, but also ambitious. What would happen if their skills were used in a hostile manner – if the powers of knowledge and literature could find their way into the limelight of Skyrim? The result of this train of thought is something that I truly enjoyed playing the game through with.

    I wrote up the next batch of identification papers, after questioning the newest immigrants about their races, names, skills, and careers. Honestly, they’re all going through anyway, and this process is just slowing the system down. They could probably steal our limeware and still pass through to Skyrim…

    Character Traits

    I have seen so many travelers, and heard so many stories. I read through the Excise’s collection of identification papers every night, thinking of the great Heroes who have passed through our doors. But… why are THEY the Heroes? I am the one pulling the weight around here. I am the one writing the papers. I am the one letting them become the Heroes. Haven’t I just as much chance at Heroism? Of course! So… I will become the Hero. After I finish counting and taxing the population of Bruma, however.

    Race: Bosmer, because of looks and my love of Mer.

    Standing Stone: The Tower Stone, because the agent is unable to pick locks. The Aetherial Crown holds the Serpent Stone, as it is a good backup for when you run out of scrolls.

    Stat Allocation: 0M/0H/1S – Magic, or “Magicka” in the Aldmeri, is useless to those who find themselves unable to wield it. I have decided on pure Stamina, since health seems out of character for a relatively weak economist. Stamina is also useful for those situations in which the agent needs to run for his life, which happen unsurprisingly often.

    Shouts: Shouts? I’m no Dragonborn. Well, maybe I am the Dragonborn, and I just don’t know it yet.

    Perks and Skills

    The Heroes keep passing, passing, passing by and I will soon pass by with them. I wrote a paper for the newest victim of our Census and Excise system, and I saw my chance. He was carrying a coinpurse, and I needed it. I needed it. I needed the supplies of a Hero, and thus from a Hero I took. The guards didn’t see me, but they would’ve given me a warning regardless- it’s what always happens. An immigrant pockets a candlestick, and he gets a warning. I still need more drakes to get my equipment, though… take caution, unaware travelers. You may walk out of here with a lighter pocket than you came in with. I mean, obviously because of taxes, but… you know what I mean.


    The schools of magic are used to augment the power of scrolls. However, the Census and Excise agent is unable to cast spells. This handicap prevents the agent from leveling these five skills in the standard fashion, so he must pay skilled mages to teach him the secrets of the arcane. Due to this, the agent must carefully level his Speech and Pickpocket, and may have to use the “Legendary” feature on these skills a few times; he is only able to pay the skill trainers five times per level. The skills and perks are listed in the order that they should be taken. However, the order is not necessarily the way the skills should be leveled up.


    Practicing on the immigrants and others passing through the Census and Excise Office, the agent is extremely skilled at swiping valuable possessions held in others’ pockets. He is able to steal almost anything from his targets, including their own weapons and armor. However, the agent is unable to pick locks, which prevents him from becoming a well-rounded thief.



    Illusion gives the agent control over the battlefield, and allows him to fool the minds of others. These scrolls can calm enemies, force them to fight one another, or cause them to flee from the agent. In addition, its powers can make the agent move unseen by his foes.



    Destruction is the agent’s primary form of offense. It strikes enemies with elemental damage, including the forces of fire, ice, and electricity.



    The agent is very persuasive and fluent in his speech. This is primarily due to the nature of his job; he daily has to collect coin from citizens, and is forced to be a friend to the people in general.



    Conjuration is extremely important to the agent, as its effects act almost as a second layer of defense. The Conjuration scrolls are able to summon allies from Oblivion, reanimate the nearby dead, and banish the Daedra protecting the agent’s foes.



    Alteration is used to power the agent’s defensive and miscellaneous scrolls. It allows him to coat himself in magic for protection, light up nearby passageways and walls, and paralyze those around him.



    Restoration is one of the agent’s most important powers. Its scrolls allow him to heal his wounds in the midst of battle, as well as giving him power over the undead.


    Equipment and Gameplay

    My pockets brimming with drakes, I set out to gather a Hero’s supplies. I went out to Bruma again, so I can recount the population at the same time.

    1 person… 2 people…

    I have bought many a sword and spell, to no avail. I am no conjurer, locksmith, or soldier. I can’t hold an axe, let alone throw a fireball.

    72 people… 73 people…

    However, I believe that I have learned of a way to hone my natural skill – to cast great spells with naught but knowledge and the power of words.

    126 people… 127 people…

    My knowledge will forge my path to Heroism, and none can stop me. Aside from my job of counting heads, however.

    Was it 160 people? Dammit, I lost track.

    All of the agent’s equipment is made of fine fabric, tailored for only the upper class and the Imperial workers of Cyrodiil. In addition, he dons the Aetherial Crown, which shows to others his true power. Instead of weaponry or magic, the Census and Excise agent utilizes the power of scrolls to defeat enemies. The variety of scrolls, especially those added by the Dragonborn expansion, is really the backbone of the agent. Make sure to visit each spell vendor, as they often carry useful scrolls.

    The scrolls themselves are to be used in a variety of ways. If facing a very powerful opponent, it is a good idea to start out with a Flesh scroll. If fighting a large group of enemies, make sure to bring out a scroll of Mass Paralysis. Once the battle is over, resurrecting two of the weaker enemies with scrolls of Dead Thralls is useful. However, not all scrolls are equal. For instance, the Dead Thrall scroll is not as useful as the elemental ones, which can also be created easily at the Atronach Forge. This means that not every scroll has to be used; the paralysis, summoning, and damaging ones are the most straightforwardly useful, and are relatively easy to come by.

    Roleplaying and Questing

    I have been assigned as the new census taker and tax collector of a southern Nordic settlement in Skyrim: Helgen. I have organized the travel from Bruma- it is set to leave on Middas, the 12th of Last Seed, 4E201. I doubt that the northern Nords are friendlier towards elves than their southern brethren, yet the men of Bruma were less than welcoming. However, I have to wonder about my safety during the civil war amongst the people of Skyrim. This war could be my only chance to prove my Heroism, so I guess that I will have to make do.

    Fortunately for him, the Census and Excise agent’s city will be destroyed, so his Imperial obligations will be put on hold. However, the agent is still a staunch follower of the Empire and its people, so he will not soon abandon his principles. The agent is not the standard sort of hero; he, quite literally, cannot swing a sword, cast a spell, or open a lock. He can only unlock doors and containers by way of the Tower Stone (stored inside the Aetherial Crown), which means that any Master-level locks are off limits to the agent. In addition, he will do a number of important quests:

    Civil War Questline (Imperials) – the agent is still an Imperial loyalist, and the Empire is the organization filling his wallet. Also, his Heroic ambitions can only be achieved by defending Skyrim against the rebellion.

    Lost to the Ages – this quest gives the Census and Excise agent one of his most important possessions: the Aetherial Crown. The Crown shows his importance, as well as granting him the power to open Expert and weaker locks as often as he pleases

    Black Book Quests – possibly the most important quests to the Census and Excise agent’s form of combat, because Apocrypha is full of great knowledge, books, and scrolls. This is one of the few reasons this build is viable- Apocrypha respawns, giving the agent a virtually limitless supply of the best scrolls in the game. Although much harder, and slower to get, than the standard merchant scrolls, Apocrypha’s scrolls form the majority of the agent’s powers.


    There are also some quests that the agent would not complete:

    Thieves’ Guild Questline – though he is a skilled pickpocket, the agent would not dare to join the local criminal syndicate while he still holds his job under the Empire. In addition, organized crime is not within the agent’s definition of a “Hero”.

    Dark Brotherhood Questline – the agent would not join this faction for many of the same reasons he would not join the Thieves’ Guild. The census and excise agent is a genuinely good person (despite his pickpocketing prowess), and would not become an assassin.

    Goodbye, Cyrodiil. I can only hope for peaceful travel to Skyrim.

    The Ending of the Words is ALMSIVI.

  • Member
    May 15, 2014
    Sounds interesting, good luck on this build friend.
  • May 15, 2014

    This is a really fun build and teh way you've presented it is great.

    Good work and I might just play this.

  • Member
    May 15, 2014
    You know,why is it that I imagine this character is so obsessed with numbers, that, even in his daily life, he counts and jots down info of people.
  • Member
    May 15, 2014

    Thanks for the input. I'm glad you like it.

  • Member
    May 15, 2014
    I love the humor of this build, your character's burning desire for heroism, his antithetical personality regarding that desire, and the difficulties placed before him. One question: I roll vanilla skyrim, so does that make acquiring scrolls more difficult, or does it not matter? I know the calibre of scrolls will not be the same, just wondering about quantity. Also, you hint at the possibility of him being dragonborn. Will he supplement his scroll-wielding with shouts, or is that forbidden, or are you just leaving that up to us? One way or the other, I was hoping for quirky with this build, and you gave it to me... In spades :D Nice job!
  • May 15, 2014

    I really like the idea of using scrolls as a primary weapon (I might just have to borrow that), but I think I'm going to have to use a mod that allows you to create scrolls yourself, even if Apocrypha respawns master-level scrolls. If anyone's wondering, I suggest this mod. Unless it respawns everytime I open a Black Book, I think I'm going to need another way to get scrolls. Unless I play a sneaky character, I'm far too aggressive in combat.

    By the way, you did a great job with the presentation. The blue on the perk spread is a bit bright, but it's not difficult to read and the fuzzy pictures are well-chosen.

  • Member
    May 15, 2014

    I have actually tested this myself. Vanilla Skyrim works perfectly fine with this build- you just won't have access to some of the higher level scrolls. However, these powerful scrolls take ten days to respawn, so the gameplay will be much the same without them. In terms of being dragonborn, it is really up to you. I phrased that in a vague way, because it really isn't MY build when you play it. If you choose to roll your character as a dragonborn, I suggest the Amulet/Blessing of Talos. This would just be to balance out your disadvantage of not owning DLC. Honestly, I left this build very open- you can complement the scrolls with just about any other weapon or magic type, which leaves a lot of interpretation for gameplay.

  • Member
    May 16, 2014

    Just letting you know that in the events, we use a different rank and not the normal bloodworks oneĀ 

  • Member
    May 16, 2014

    I like the scroll wielding anti-hero approach.