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Event Build: Anathema

Tags: #Character Build Spellsword  #Character Build Necromancer  #Character Build Bound Weapons  #Race:Imperial  #Rank:Event Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build  #Event:Celestials  #ShinJin Build  #Lozhar Build 
  • Member
    November 1, 2014

    Pariah. Outcast. Anathema! Skyrim needs me whether its people care to admit it or not. Rangers here usually get a grudging respect, but folks soon began whispering tales of a ranger born under dark stars: one who roamed dangerous lands, but was never seen carrying a weapon; one whose very voice was the sound of death; one who could command the dead and was half a ghost herself. And there are some who swear by the Eight that they have seen her fighting with ghostly weapons at the head of a dark army. It’s the type of tavern talk one expects to hear about rangers in such backward places… but in my case it also happens to be true.

    The Empire gave me a charge to protect its citizens, and I do it well... even if they revile me for it. So let the village men turn and walk the other way when they see me coming. Let farmer’s wives cross their fingers and hiss when I pass by. I will continue to protect them while Skyrim’s mothers warn their children… “Eat your vegetable soup, respect your elders, and stay out of trouble. Elsewise you too, in the dead of some terrible winter night, may receive a visit from the dark ranger, the one called...

    Rangers… they’re so cool. Part warrior and part ambush tactician, these stealthy fighters are able to move unseen through cities, towns and the wilderness keeping a metaphorical ear to the ground and searching out dangerous threats to the kingdom—then they kill those threats. If that isn’t cool I don’t know what is. But rangers are often viewed with some ambivalence. On the one hand, they clear the land of bandits and malevolent creatures; they wander the countryside making it safe as they go; they know things… all of which is well and good. But they also lead solitary lives, look for trouble, and must often keep dubious company in order to gather information to protect the very people who feel such ambivalence toward them.

    Anathema, however... well, she’s a whole new level of awesome: summoned daedric weapons, formidable zombie allies created from the very corpses of her fallen foes, a presence that fills even the undead with dread, and the ghastly ability to levy a powerful zombie army make Anathema a terrifying force for good—a force that is feared by all evildoers across Skyrim… and most of the good folk as well.

    This build was generated largely by my bias against (and Lozhar’s love of) necromancy. So dark; so evil; so... icky. We felt it would be a fun challenge to come up with a good or chaotic/good aligned character, but  one who was born under a dark sign—the Ritual Stone. It leads to all sorts of interesting questions: would a good person use her natural-born power over the dead? If so, how would she ethically justify such macabre work? Perhaps even more problematic is this question: how would she be perceived by other people around her? Are there any motives pure enough to overcome the stigma of subjugating the dead to one’s own will? It’s a great recipe for conflict… both from without and from within.


    Imperial—we chose this race for role play reasons: a ranger out of Cyrodiil assigned to look after Skyrim, but on her own terms. There are, however, some solid mechanics behind the decision as well. The big draw here are two bonuses to some rather slow-leveling skills (+10 to Restoration and +5 to Block). And who doesn’t appreciate an additional +5 bonus to One-handed as well? Then there is the Voice of the Emperor power… got folks all up in your grill? Tell them to relax (and then kill them singly as their buddies stand by to watch and wait for their turn).

    Breton—this is also a pretty good choice for a build with a heavy emphasis on Conjuration… you get a +10 bonus. You also get a +5 for Restoration. Early on I found mages to be particularly troublesome, so the ability to absorb 50% of magical damage with the Dragonskin power is immensely helpful.


    1 magicka/1 health/1 stamina—I did this all the way through, but you could get away with weening yourself off magicka after a while once you have enough to raise a dread zombie or two,  and summon your bound bow or sword. I would put the points into stamina for some extra bashes without having to use use Respite and a healing spell to gain more stamina.


    The Ritual Stone—for close to three years I have ignored this stone, stopping only to kill the mage who hangs out there on my way to High Hrothgar. I figured, “So you can raise some dead bodies… big whoop!” Big mistake! Got a high-level deathlord that refuses to be raised? Hello ritual Stone. Been systematically killing off members of a mob, but there’s still an extremely tough guy or two left? Bring on the army of death! Let me illustrate this point with an example:

    I’m in the deepest part of Dustman’s Cairn with Farkas, sarcophagi are popping open all over the place, and wave after relentless wave of draugr are coming at us. Farkas is dragging himself along the ground, and I’m getting backed into a corner by a mob of scourges and deathlords. I desperately need a break, so I Become Ethereal to assess the situation without getting hammered on and suddenly realize that there are twice as many fallen draugr around me as there are ones pushing me into a corner. Out comes the Ritual Stone power, and between 8-10 undead followers… they were like the scrubbing bubbles of death. I sheathed the bound bow and just sat back and watched the mayhem as my draugr army tore that place apart! I can’t believe I’ve denied myself that pleasure for so long— glorious.

    Major Skills


    The weapons are bad enough—good people frown on summoned weapons even if it’s on their behalf. But raising the dead? Well, there they draw the line. It is a line I will continue to step over. The dead are useful: they help keep me alive, and they are scattered all over Skyrim’s landscape. Besides, when marauders see me slaughter one of their own only to find themselves going toe-to-toe with the bloody body of that fallen friend later—that scares the oblivion out of them...

    Conjuration. It’s what separates Anathema from all other rangers. As long as you’ve got a dead body or two you’re never far from tactical support. Throw in the Dark Souls perk, and you have some seriously formidable support that comes with an additional 100 points in health. Twin Souls doubles the fun.

    No dead bodies? The Conjuration school’s bound weapons will change that, and with the Mystic Binding perk bound weapons provide daedric damage. Now consider that both the bound sword and bound bow can be obtained extremely early in the game (Bound Sword from Farengar in Whiterun and Bound Bow in Fort Amol prison) and you can see why the very mention of Anathema sends evildoers scampering—those weapons are absolute powerhouses to start off with. Plus, Oblivion Binding turns your weapon into a magic wand that makes summoned deadra just… disappear.

    “Yes, yes,” I hear you say, “but what about the late game?” The bow still packed a decent wallop for my late game, especially when paired up with an initial ambush in stealth mode. The blade with nothing else to support it takes considerably more finesse, but when paired with solid blocking and power attacks could still hold its own. Now add perks in One-handed, the Dread Zombie spell, the Ritual Stone, Voice of the Emperor, Marked for Death, and Become Ethereal into the mix, and combat with a more powerful weapon just gets crazy boring anyway.


    Proficiency with the bow make Rangers deadly from afar. Early acquisition of the Bound Bow, however, turns Anathema into death incarnate. Not really a sniper (no perks in Steady Hand and I refuse to use Eagle Eye), she uses ambush tactics and surprise for her initial onslaught, getting off a surprise shot before emerging from hiding to unleash a volley of mystic arrows. So deadly is she with her Bound Bow that she frequently takes out mobs before they can get to close quarter combat range.


    Enemies that manage to bridge the distance for close quarter combat soon experience bitter disappointment… Anathema knows how to wield a sword. With all perks in Armsman and the occasional stagger from some strategically placed power attacks, enemies soon discover that the only thing more terrifying than Anathema with a bow is seeing her dance of death as she wields her Bound Sword—up close and personal.

    Minor Skills


    I rubbed a few egos the wrong way during my brief membership in the Synod, but it taught me something: when an upset mage waves his hands around preparing to unleash some magical wrath, just slam your shield in his face. Do that enough and you eventually convince him that a wounded ego isn’t such a bad thing after all...

    An absolutely essential complement with One-handed when using the Bound Sword. I rarely used Block to absorb damage, but rather as a way of preventing it entirely. A well-timed bash stagger-locks enemies long enough for you to get a few good whacks in or a power attack or two. Rinse, repeat, destroy… enjoy.


    Slipping in and out of shadows, rangers that wish to remain hidden stay that way. Anathema uses this to her advantage by scouting and planning her attack, drawing first blood before the battle proper begins, and terrifying enemies with a swift and sudden reckoning. She also uses her skills in Stealth to travel vast distances of countryside quickly while still remaining undetected, and may use her skills to circumnavigate trouble… though more often than not she quietly steers into it instead—because the best way to avoid trouble is to kill it.


    For this build Restoration is just as much about control as it is about health. While Conjuration gives you control of the dead, Restoration gives you control over the undead. When undead mobs become oppressive, Restoration can be used to either manipulate or destroy them. The Necromage perk also boosts your Conjuration powers allowing you to gain control over higher level dead.

    Respite and Close Wounds… it’s like cookies and milk! Gives you a significant and quick heal while restoring lost stamina reserves. If you’ve been power-attacking bad guys till the green bar flashes, and have taken enough hits that you fear your health will start to look like your stamina, Close Wounds coupled with Respite puts you back into the fray… and quickly too.


    Marked For Death—Bound Swords don’t pack enough of a punch you say? Now they do!

    Become Ethereal—my favorite defensive shout… clear your head, close in on mages and archers, and stamina-free sprinting or first power attack.

    Aura Whisper—I used move cross country quickly by becoming ethereal and sprinting (and I still will), but for a ranger blundering through the wilderness alerting every bear and bandit of your presence seemed out of character. Instead, I chose to use Aura Whisper to maintain an awareness of my surroundings while sprinting and casting Close Wounds… with the Respite perk you get all your stamina back. Now you can sprint to your heart's content, then slow to a sneak when trouble reveals its pink-ish glowing head.


    We wanted a dark look to Anathema, to reflect her own internal conflict. Although your weapons will always be the bound sword and bound bow, you have a lot of freedom with the armor. Since Anathema is more about not being hit than enduring swords through the chest, pick what feels right for you. Here’s what we went with...

    For the early game:

    • Leather Armor + Novice Hood/Shrouded Cowl, Shrouded Gloves/Shrouded Boots—this was my choice… easy to get early on, offers some protection from the occasional hits, and has a nice ranger-y feel to it, but with a darker vibe.


    • Dawnguard Brown Armor/Boots/Gauntlets + Shrouded Hood—Lozhar opted for the more refined look that the DLC offers and grabbed the Dawnguard gear to go with the Shrouded Cowl… it’s a great look!

     For the late game… pariah:

    •  Nightingale Armor & Gloves + Shrouded Cowl & Boots—towards the end of the game I replaced my standard leather armor with Nightingale gear… it has a dark-ranger-ish feel with a touch of daedric mystery thrown in… perfect!


    • Morag Tong Armor + Vampire Boots + Thalmor Gloves + Shrouded Hood—once again, Lozhar utilized the DLC to incorporate a more “Natural” (but still dark) look to Anathema after becoming a Pariah to the good folk of Skyrim.

    Neck and Finger: I hung on to my Amulet of Talos... I like the shout cool-down. With rings I kept switching them out, but eventually settled on one with a decent boost to archery.

    Shield: I just grabbed whatever before finally settling on the Shield Of Solitude. Lozhar picked up a Dawnguard Shield for the early game, and then just went with no shield at all for the Late-Game because Lozhar is (and always will be) the epitome of hardcore… he just can’t help it :P



    Combat for this build is all about finding or creating corpses in order to raise them as allies. Your light armor offers you some protection, but ultimately your best defense is having enemies wail on something else instead of you… and if that something else also happens to deal damage as well, so much the better.

    Typically, if it looked like I was in for a tough fight I’d bring out the bound bow and use it’s relatively high damage and distance to my advantage. If quarters were a bit close or I had support or the threat was not as great, sword and board worked wonders. In later levels power attacks with the bound sword are almost a must—yes, it increases the damage quite a bit, but you also get a stagger fairly frequently which lets you hack away a couple of times or reposition and heal. Shield bashing will also provide you with those useful staggers.

    Shifting in and out of Shadow Warrior, and a few Silent Rolls will draw attention away from you and onto your zombie follower, giving you a break from damage and an opportunity to assess and resume the offensive. Sneak will also allow you to discover enemies before they can get the drop on you—use those high Sneak skills to reconnoiter and form your plan of attack. Here are some typical approaches:


    • Look for existing dead—for some odd reason Skyrim’s baddies think nothing of hanging out and eating while their camps and tables are littered with corpses. If that’s the case, open combat with Marked for Death, then Raise Zombie and summon one of your bound weapons.
    • Create your own corpses—when providence is less charitable you’ll need to create your own corpses for zombie allies. I found it helpful to seek out the weakest of the mob for a quick kill-and-raise (nothing is worse than sneaking up to a “bandit” for the kill only to discover you’ve just whacked a Marauder, and his life bar has moved about half a millimeter while he and his two buddies turn and start to get indignant… and you still have no support). So use those Sneak skills to position yourself close enough to determine what you’re dealing with (read this as pickpocket range), one or two-shot the weakest, raise them, then take the pain to the ones left over.

     Dungeons, Caves and Forts

    • Mages—mobs of magic wielders were my greatest source of frustration. You get three of them piling on frost, fire, and shock, and the battle can easily end before you have a chance to get to them. I tended to play these scenarios more stealthily than melee strongholds, and definitely entered combat with a plan rather than just jumping in and swinging away.
    • Melee Enemies—when dealing with bandits, forsworn, draugr and the like, I took a considerably less stealthy approach. After every confrontation, I would raise the highest level corpses to replace the older ones and proceed cautiously (but usually not stealthily) through.


    Surprisingly, they’re almost not worth mentioning. Open with Marked for Death, summon your bound bow, and start pelting the thing with arrows as it flies away. If you’ve got cover, use it to keep out of the way of breath attacks when the dragon returns. If not, one shout of Become Ethereal will get you through it. When the breath attack stops let the arrows fly. The time the dragon spends flying around weakens it severely—you almost feel bad taking them out so easily… almost.

    So... What’s up with the Pugilism?

    Frequently I would raise a zombie only to find that the fool thing has forgotten how to use the weapons with which he was wailing on me just seconds ago. For the most part it didn’t bother me because I mainly needed something to distract enemies while I worked them over. But it does chafe a bit when you raise, for example, a draugr deathlord with an ebony greatsword and he starts swinging away with only his fists like he’s Muhammad Ali. If that’s the case with you, you can avoid the scenario by taking the weapon off the corpse, go to your inventory and re-equip the corpse with the weapon before raising it. Now you’ve got a weapon-swinging zombie!

    Contrary to whispered rumors, I don’t “get off” on the suffering and fear of others. I just like to see that people get what they deserve. Sometimes it’s a purse full of coin. Sometimes it’s being reunited with a loved one. And, yes, sometimes it’s a blade through the chest. While I prefer the first two scenarios, I won’t lie… under the right circumstances I can derive great satisfaction from the latter…

    Special Moves

    Mindless Thrall - Poison of Paralysis + Raise Dead + Shadow Warrior - A Must-have for a character with low armor and Necromantic skills, this technique creates an “Undead Shield” who attracts aggro and is immortal, so while enemies focus on the thrall, Anathema kills them all from the safety of the shadows

    Icy Tomb - Ahzidal Ring Of Necromancy + Ritual Stone - It’s pretty simple: The Ring makes every undead minion damage nearby enemies for 50 points of ice damage when hit, it’s a low amount -BUT- When you have 10+ bodies raised at one time, one hit in any of them will create a chain of ice explosions... combined, it packs a decent-strong damage (and looks awesome!)

    Unholy Pact - Equilibrium + (Necromantic) Healing - Undead Thrall dying (Again)? Anathema sacrifices her own blood to give life (again) to her undead minion

    Not Today - Necromantic Raise Spell (cast on a body in the process of being raised)—this one's a blast to pull off! An enemy Necromancer tries to raise a body, and Anathema binds its will to her own instead of the original caster. Now watch as the helpless and confused necromancer is torn to pieces by his own Zombie... good times!


    It’s not enoughthe political climate is too unstable. I clear undead from ruins, drive bandits out of their forts and caves, decimate entire camps of forsworn, but new threats move in as soon as I leave. I fear that more extreme measures are called forI need to make the “civilized” parts of Skyrim more… civil. I am loath to start this phase of the fight for I will certainly lose the few friends I have… including the Empire I have served for so long…

    Early and Mid-game

    Early in the game we spent most of our time wandering from place to place, exploring and clearing out caves, forts, and dungeons, and checking out local rumors of trouble. This kept us mainly in the wilderness, stopping into towns and cities occasionally to sell loot and buy training. I would stop into taverns and talk to innkeepers about bounties and pick up rumor quests as well. It’s really all about exploration and eradication of threats… and it is so much fun to play that way!

    Late Game: Pariah

    By the late game, however, it becomes apparent that focusing her efforts in the wilderness is not as effective as Anathema hoped it would be, so she takes the fight (and her unique abilities) to the cities. Rather than fighting behind the scenes, she does it openly, thus in time the “Rumors” about Anathema become proven facts. She eliminates each city’s greatest threats, but it earns her infamy and bounties in each hold, and ultimately banishment from civilization because of the fear she inspires. But Anathema has a task, and no amount of hatred or prejudice will keep her from her sworn duty.

    People Who Need to Die to Make Skyrim a Better Place

    (or as Lozhar succinctly puts it… the PWNTDTMSABP list ;D)

    There are individuals hiding in plain sight who threaten Skyrim’s safety… those threats need to be removed publicly and with extreme prejudice to increase shock and awe. While she can’t make people good, Anathema can make them afraid to be bad. For this reason there must be witnesses to spread her message… “you will help keep Skyrim safe or suffer a similar fate at the hands of Anathema.” Here is the PWNTDTMSABP list for cleaning up Skyrim’s holds:

    Solitude—Sybille Stentor

    A vampire with powerful political connections serving in the court of one of Skyrim’s most important holds. Her “staunch” support of the empire is a ruse to further her own bloody agenda. She practically warns you every time she speaks… it’s time she saw the light of day

    Dawnstar—Silus Vesuius

    Three centuries ago the Mythic Dawn nearly ushered in an era of horror and chaos under the reign of Mehrunes Dagon. Now Silus Vesuius, under the guise of his museum, strives to bring the chaos of Dagon’s order back to Nirn. Send him to Oblivion instead.

    P.S - Make an example of him (and gain a bounty) by killing him before starting his quest


    A dangerous Thalmor justiciar, hell-bent on bringing the land at his feet... pile that land six feet above him.

    Riften—Ingun Black-Briar

    A member of the Black-Briar family with more than a morbid fascination with death. Her lethal alchemical studies and desire to move in “darker circles” puts her on the assassin’s path. With her natural born Black-briar ambition, her family’s financial backing, and the Dark Brotherhood out of the picture, Anathema is the only thing  stopping the Black-briars from branching out and forming their own sinister, unified assassins guild.

    Windhelm—Oengul War-anvil and Hermir Strong-heart

    It’s a path of pain Anathema must walk: Oengul is a man she respects, but his weapons keep Stormcloak resistance strong and Skyrim weak. Hermir will simply take his place once he is gone—she must be eliminated as well

    Falkreath—Bolund and Solaf

    Intelligence indicates that these brothers are no mere sympathisers for the Stormcloak cause... they are, in actuality, rebel saboteurs who plan to cripple the Empire’s production of arms and armor by murdering the reluctant blacksmith, Lod. Make sure neither of them are “much in the way o’ conversation”


    A dangerous vampire using her wits to outsmart and dominate an entire village… she’ll soon discover she’s at her wit’s end


    She sold her own country out to the Thalmor then fled to escape the fallout. Saadia’s deep in Thalmor pockets and is primed to sell out Skyrim as well. Pick those pockets… eliminate Saadia.


    A devious trap: she offers to sell the Coral Dragon Claw to adventurous folk who hope to find untold wealth and fortune. Adventurers, instead, are led to Yngol Barrow and eventually to Yngol's hungry shade itself… a shade that feasts on the life force of those unfortunate enough to cross his path. You can see the souls of his victims, floating blue orbs, doomed to wander the halls of his barrow until his rise to greater power is ended. Birna, in return for promises of wealth and power, supplies Yngol with a steady stream of souls so that he can make good on his promises. She then retrieves the claw to place it again in the path of another unwitting victim… another trapped soul. Put those trapped souls to rest by putting an end to Birna and Yngol!

    Pariah. Outcast. Anathema! I will continue to serve an empire that hunts me, a people who revile me, and a land that needs me.


    A great big thanks to BILLY MAYS and Ponty for hosting another fantastic event! And thanks to all who contributed to the thread... we look forward to seeing what everybody comes up with :D

    And an equally large shout out to Kael, who selflessly stepped up when the images for this build broke down, and offered to take some screenshots for us... they're great shots, and greatly appreciated :D


    By The Way:

    We're builders, so if you like what you see, check out our other stuff:



  • Member
    November 1, 2014

    Heh, that last screenshot makes her look a bit like a giant running through the city. Awesome job, guys! She turned out great!

  • Member
    November 1, 2014
    Thanks, Boro! I didn't see the screenshot that way until just now... now I will ALWAYS see it like that xD
  • Member
    November 1, 2014

    I've got your back, sir ;D

  • Member
    November 1, 2014
    I love the whole Chaotic Goos alignment,and I love antihero characters in general, awesome work you two :)
  • Member
    November 1, 2014
    Thanks, Chris! I know what you mean about chaotic good... you get to good feel good about yourself, but with a little breathing room with whic to do it--Fun, fun, fun ;D
  • Member
    November 1, 2014
    Great! You wasted no time into getting that beauty up! Now, excuse me, but I will come back later to properly comment because in this half-asleep state and without coffee anywhere nearby, putting words together is painful.
  • Member
    November 1, 2014

    This is a great build.  The dark female ranger type character has always appealed to me from a role-play perspective, but this one stands out because of her not not being a vampire, and not employing stealth style archery.  Also, the targets to make the world a better place are not the conventional choices, for the most part, either, which adds to the intrigue.  I'm not sure that I could kill some of those people though .

    It's different not to perk Light armour either, and to take block with a build like this.  Also, no Illusion is another bonus .

    Just one small typo: Frequently I would raise a zombie only to find that the fool thing I think that you mean foolish here .

  • November 1, 2014
    First Event build I'm reading and now , wow. Lozhar, Shinjin let me say this is my favourite of your builds yet, it's very well written and I guess I can never say no to a badass Ranger, +1 from me.
  • Member
    November 1, 2014

    Thanks for the kind words, Irissa! Lozhar and I had a lot of fun with this one :D

    I know what you mean about killing off some of those people... Strong-heart was a hard one for me, and Lozhar rebelled against ridding Skyrim of Birna..."Why her? She's cool!" I believe, were his exact words. And I agree with him whole-heartedly; she is cool, but it is tough finding obvious people to kill in Winterhold that aren't essential--so I just rolplayed that she wasn't cool xD

    Sadly, I did mean 'fool thing'... my brother-in-law is from the southern United States, and it's a colloquialism he employs rather frequently (that and 'dad-burned'). It's kind of crept into my speaking (more like burrowed into it and stayed). It's amazing how easily things like that happen to me xD