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Character Build: The Gaunt Robe

Tags: #Character Build Dual-Wield  #Character Build Nightblade  #Character Build Agent  #Race:Dunmer  #Rank:Mythic  #Anuic  #Borom  #Character Build RP 
  • Member
    October 18, 2014

    Original art by Alice

    Build Theme

    "They are merely shells that are empty on the inside. They're the shells of spies from the human rebels of the Dragon War, sent to infiltrate the Dragon Priests. They have been unable to forget their living days. Even now their spirits--emptiness cloaked in darkness--continue to spy.-- Anonymous Dragon War historian

    Some would say success is measured in recognition. Ask anyone about the renowned war hero, the respected Jarl, the rich farmer. No one doubts their fame or prosperity. Even the dreaded Dark Brotherhood benefits from their fearsome reputation. For others, though, success means the utmost discretion and secrecy.

    The Gaunt Robes were an ancient order of spies, and  among the first to see the rule of the dragons for what it was: oppression. They were an unseen hand, steering the course of the Dragon War towards a mortal victory, and they were prepared to carry on the war for eternity.

    Though mortal themselves, their hate-fueled spirits were known to linger long after their deaths. Just one now remains, an agent formerly implanted among the Dragon Priests of old, trained to use their tools against them from the inside. This spirit now waits, vigilant for the inevitable return of the dragons.

    That time has come. The last Robe must find a host, and tear down the last vestiges of the dragons' power, once and for all.

    The Build

    This character is a ninja and spy, taking advantage of distractions, darkness and illusion to outmaneuver and cut down enemies. Raw will-power has held this spirit together for eras, but eras have dulled some of it's potency. A physical host allows it to regain it's former strength and skill, and complete it's ancient mission.

    Race: Dunmer have a starting bonus in four of the character's skills, and the useful and thematic Ancestor's Wrath ability.

    Stone: Mage for early leveling, followed by the Shadow

    Spells: Invisibility, Bound Sword, Fire Storm, Flame Cloak, Fire Rune

    Shouts: Become Ethereal, Marked for Death, Throw Voice, Aura Whisper, Dragon Aspect

    Skills:Primary: One Handed, Illusion, SneakConjuration

    Secondary: Destruction, Alteration, Restoration, Enchanting

    Attribute Spread: 3/0/2

    Original art byMissCinnaBun


    Weapons and Equipment

    Just like  it's source inspiration, this build comes in two forms: The Gaunt Robe, and the Gaunt Master, each with a different set of equipment. Progression from one to the other depends simply on when you get these items.

    Gaunt Robe: You'll be collecting Dragon Priest masks like trophies, but these four are the most relevant to the Gaunt's skills. Until you have a mask, an Apprentice or Adept Hood will do. Mages Robes, boots and bracers are left up to you. Illusion and Alteration will probably be the most helpful enchantments for them, and any rings or amulets you choose to use. You can just have Damage Magicka on your weapons, but why just damage it when you can take it for yourself and use it against the enemy?

    Gaunt Master: The Master is much more finely equipped, and much more difficult to kill, while being an ever present threat with stealth and deadly blades. The Archmage's robes are more of an aesthetic choice, with Adept Robes a perfectly viable option.


    Progressing: This character enjoys really smooth roleplay and gameplay progress through the Main Quest, which is the core of the playthrough. Picking up robes, a hood and your first pair of swords can be done in Helgen. I also suggest holding on to a bow and a few arrows. Used correctly, they can be a fantastic substitute for Throw Voice until you find the shout.

    Once you've escaped Helgen, pursue the main quest until you can get quests for Word Walls from the Greybeards. You don't need every shout, of course, but the walls are symbols of the dragons' power. Stealing that knowledge, and using that power against them is only fitting. Similarly, use the Blades' records to hunt down the returning dragons themselves. Because the character is a spy, any organization that can put them in places they aren't supposed to be could be beneficial. Both the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild are helpful for regaining your skills, as well as new abilities. One word of the highly useful Marked For Death shout is also hidden with the Dark Brotherhood.

    You have a couple of choices for when you get your first tier of swords. You can take the Blades sword from the Sleeping Giant inn hideout, and pair it with the sword owned by Fultheim at the Nightgate inn (violence required), or you can wait until you have access to Skyhaven Temple. I recommend wait until level 27 or maybe even 36 to go to Skyhaven, so that you can have an effect version of Dragonbane. If you aren't concerned about having Dragonbane, you can move in whenever you want.

    At some point, you should break to do the College of Winterhold questline, at least up to the point where you defeat Morokei, and to collect the Invisibility spell tome if you haven't already come across it. Along the way you'll have ample opportunity to get the Drain Magicka enchantment.


    Combat:  This character's low health makes battles a challenge. The single most important thing you can do to survive is be cautious. Sneak is your first line of defense. Take a moment to figure out enemies' patrols and habits, so you can take them out without compromising yourself. Your ranged power is limited to Shouts and runes, meaning you will always be in relatively close quarters. Intervening terrain that breaks line of sight is one of your most valuable weapons. Early on you can draw attention using runes and other loud spells, or a bow. Later, you can set the traps and attract enemies with Throw Voice.

    When actually engaging the enemy, using Marked for Death on the hardest target in the area will help even the playing field. Once you've been made, charge in and cut down your targets. You'll be too soft to charge across a whole battlefield to get at an archer or mage, so just worry about the closest enemies, then break combat by whatever means necessary (Shadow Warrior will be valuable for this), and renew the attack when you're ready. Fighting dragons in the open is highly dangerous; the best method for dealing them is to wear them down with Marked for Death, stun with another shout like Unrelenting Force, and charge in for the kill. Getting close with Become Ethereal can also help against both dragons, and enemies at long range. Here is the playstyle the build is designed to mimic(hopefully you don't run into any Heroes of Time): Garo Master

    Some important things to keep in mind: your One Handed skill will level more quickly with individual dual wielding attacks; that is to say, instead of using power attacks, just strike repeatedly with both weapons whenever possible. It's not worth the risk against a large group, but it shouldn't be a problem against isolated enemies.



    Way of the Gaunt- When defeat seems inevitable, and the mission is at risk, the Gaunt will not allow it's body, soul or mind to fall into enemy hands. Instead, it will incinerate the area in an attempt to take the enemy with it. A powerful Gaunt may survive the technique and fight on. 

    Sun Flare+Ancestor's Wrath(+Become Ethereal)+Firestorm+Shadow Warrior




    Out of Nowhere- For an extremely effective trap, lay a rune and gather enemies toward it with a distraction. Hide and circle them as they approach, then land a blow as they detonate the rune for a tidy amount of damage. For added fun, disappear afterward with Shadow Warrior, rinse and repeat. 

    Fire Rune+Throw Voice+Invisibility/Shadow Warrior+Backstab





    This is a Chaotic Neutral character, and it's roleplay ties directly to the Main quest and the Dragon Priests. Your only mission is destroying them, including those on Solstheim if available. By doing so, the Gaunt Robes will have finally fulfilled their purpose, and can rest in peace.

    As spies,  the less direct contact you have with NPCs, the better. Avoid unnecessary conversation as much as possible. Moving around towns and overworld while invisible is a good idea, and you should also try to get the jump on enemies by starting combat invisible. Organizations like the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild give you the opportunity to be places where you're not supposed to as you track every clue that will lead you to the Dragon Cult.

    Reserve your abilities, like Ancestors Wrath, or Sun Flare, for dire situations. The Gaunt would rather destroy their bodies than let the enemy discover their secrets...and when the mission has been accomplished and Skyrim has no more need of the Gaunt, being consumed by fire would be a fitting end to the character...

    To die without leaving a corpse...that is the way of the Gaunt.

    Important Quests: Main Quest, A Scroll for Anska, Siege on the Dragon Cult, Ragnvald, Volskygge, Shearpoint, Evil in Waiting, College of Winterhold, Dragonborn, White Ridge Sanctum, Kolbjorn Barrow, Final Descent

    Thanks for reading! 





  • Member
    October 18, 2014

    This is amazing Boro, I think this is the first build I've ever seen that focuses purely on the main quest itself and other than that the dragon priests, I love the look of the apparel, brilliant, pure amazing brilliance 

  • Member
    October 18, 2014
    Hell yeah! Another build! Excellent job here, Borom. But don't forget the fish! I love the roleplay here; acting as a spy, with a desire for vengeance against the dragon priests. All mentioned questlines mix in well here, and I love those quotes throughout (they must be yours). And the way you end the playthrough... So I'm assuming that as the gaunt robe, you switch out masks for different situations and that you have 2 separate blades swords? So is there a transition thing between gaunt robe and master? Like some sort of rp thing? Apologies if I missed something, but you don't really seem to mention any sort of "transition" (of sorts) between the two. Unless it's just as you gather gear? Needless to say, +1.
  • Member
    October 18, 2014

    Great build! I like the idea of the gaunt master appearance. Is there another race that would fit well with this build? maybe high elf or wood elf?

  • Member
    October 18, 2014

    So I'm assuming that as the gaunt robe, you switch out masks for different situations 

    Exactly. Whatever mask will benefit you in a given situation is the one to use.

    you have 2 separate blades swords

    Yes, you should have two Blades swords, but they should be dual wielded whenever possible.

    So is there a transition thing between gaunt robe and master? Like some sort of rp thing?

    There isn't a particular transition, but what I did was gather everything except the mask, so claiming Konahrik was the final act in the transition to a Master.

    The quotes are actually mostly adopted from Majora's Mask quotes.

  • Member
    October 18, 2014

    It started off as a Breton; their magic resistance and absorption being very helpful. And it uses magic enough that high elf could be useful, too. I chose Dunmer in part because it was easy to make a character so dark that they would look like barely more than shadow with a hood on, but Ancestor's Wrath is the perfect ability for the build's RP. It can be recreated with a flame cloak, though.

  • Member
    October 18, 2014
    A low health, high octane, stick and move, stealthy-magey warrior with great roleplay... and Dunmer? Yes, please! It's like you looked right into my mind and designed a character that I would love :D I've never bothered to collect all the masks because (outside of curiosity) I've never had a real reason to... the roleplay here is the perfect reason to do it. Another great build!
  • Member
    October 18, 2014

    I can't collect all the masks... I lost krosis, Morokei and Nahkriin due to a bug 

  • Member
    October 18, 2014

    Well dark elves are the best for sneaky-magey People 

  • Member
    October 18, 2014

    Nice build, I like the concept of the build and the gameplay looks very fun. Will have to try this build out after I'm finished with my own. +1 from me!