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Character Build: The White Walker

Tags: #Character Build Elementalist  #Character Build Battlemage  #Character Build Vampire  #Race:Orsimer  #Rank:Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build  #Raidriar 
  • Member
    January 4, 2015

    It’s been a while Skyrim Blog, but let me say now it’s good to be back. Firstly, I’d liked to say that this build has been kicking around for well over a year now, and has gone through many changes; from dark crusader to warping assassin to time-bending mage, and finally to what you see before you.

    This has undoubtedly been my favourite playthrough, inspired by the Others from A Song of Ice and Fire. Focusing on manipulating time to become the deadliest killer, the White Walker is probably one of the best builds I've ever made, combining a number of abilities to produce a technique I have never before seen in a build. Slow Time becomes 'Stop Time.'

    Note: I highly recommend starting on Master Difficulty and switching it up to Legendary if needs be, as this build can become incredibly powerful (Notice I did not say Over-powered; low AR and very little defences balance that out, not to mention make the build exhilaratingly fun).

    They come with the cold...

    Dead men riding their dead horses, followed by their legions of dead minions. Like the coming of the dragons, their arrival was unforeseen, and yet they can wreak as much havoc as any wyrm. Time itself is their plaything, with blades of ice their weapons and armour of night their garb...

    With the powers of Frostfall at their lifeless fingertips, nothing can stop the White Walkers from sweeping across Skyrim, an eternal winter at their heels...


    The Build

    Race: Orc Vampire

    Stone: Ritual

    Shouts: Dragon Aspect, Frost Breath, Slow Time

    Stats: 2:2:1

    Major Skills: Destruction, Conjuration, Enchanting, Two Handed

    Minor Skills: Alteration, Alchemy, Restoration

    Weapons: Stalhrim Greatsword (Frost Damage)


    • Ebony Helmet (Fortify Destruction)
    • Black Robes (Fortify Destruction)
    • Ebony Gauntlets (Fortify Magicka)
    • Ebony Boots (Fortify Stamina)
    • Ahzidal’s Ring of Arcana, Ahzidal’s Ring of Necromancy
    • Amulet of Talos

    Passives: Dragonborn Frost, Seeker of Sorcery, Blessing of Talos

    Recommended Quests: College of Winterhold, The Jagged Crown, Hag’s End, Unearthed, The Bloodstone Chalice, Dragonborn, Raven Rock Mine

    Now ‘synergy’ is something that every character builder strives for. It’s what separates the great from the good. Now that Skyrim is over three years old, synergy may seem very hard to come by, but I believe I have found something that hasn’t been touched upon here on the blog (at least, not entirely).

    As a White Walker, your main weapon will be your manipulation of time. Through chronomancy, your enemies will become your playthings. Every skill chosen (aside from Two Handed, which was mainly preference/efficacy) will benefit Slow Time in some way. Frost magic and minions will slow enemies even more, with Enchanting and Alchemy buffing up these effects. Restoration and Alteration are taken for the two most useful perks in this build (Necromage and Stability, respectively), with Alteration further beefed up for Paralysis (turning slow into stop). Two Handed provides us with the skill to wield a truly deadly weapon. 


    For White Walkers, the manipulation of time itself is a skill. Capable of pretty much stopping time, a White Walker becomes the greatest battle commander as well as warrior, with opportunities to reassess a situation and formulate a plan of action in the safety of the midst of battle. I like to call this technique a ‘Warp’.

    To accomplish a Warp, you’ll need several shouts, spells, perks, effects and pieces of equipment:

    • Slow Time
    • Necromage (and Vampirism for that matter)
    • Stability
    • Amulet of Talos
    • Blessing of Talos
    • Freeze
    • Slow Poisons
    • Dragon Aspect

    Now not all of these ingredients are required for the basic recipe of a Warp. In fact, a Warp can be achieved with just the top two. However, it becomes a thing of beauty once you factor in the latter items.

    Slow Time and Necromage are the bare necessity for a Warp. As many of you will know, Necromage enhances any spell (shout, enchantment of buff) a vampire performs. Namely, increasing the effect by 25% and the duration by 50%. This means a 3 word slow time (which slows down time by 90% and lasts 16 seconds) will now slow down time by 92.5% (90% + 25% of the remaining 10%) and last 24 seconds.

    Now include Stability. As slowing time counts as an Alteration effect, and Stability increases all Alteration spell times by 50%, Slow Time’s duration is augmented even more. Now what’s really interesting is that Stability’s extra 50% doesn’t add 50% of the original Slow Time duration (which would be 8 of 16 seconds), it adds 50% of the new, Necromage enhanced duration, which is 24 seconds. So now you have 36 seconds of Slow Time.

    That’s not all. Enter the Amulet and Blessing of Talos. Both decrease shout cool down by 20%. That makes 40% cool down reduction total. But being a vampire with Necromage, we get a bonus 25% effect and 50% duration enhancement. That means the Blessing of Talos now lasts for 12 hours, and combined with the Amulet reduces shout cool down by 50%. Slow Time’s initial cool down is 60 seconds, but reduce that by 50% and we have a 30 second cool down. Since our Slow Time now lasts 36 seconds, we seem to have a cool down faster than our shout duration!

    Except that isn’t the case. Slow Time slows down everything. That means potion durations, spell durations, and shout cool down. Now I’m unsure of the exact numbers of this, but your cool down speed is definitely reduced, the same way a potion that lasts 60 seconds would actually last more while under the effects of Slow Time. But since we have an extra 6 seconds over that cool down, it works out roughly finishing at the same time your cool down has stopped.

    But that’s only the beginning. With Freeze and Slow Poisons, enemies are slowed by a total of 75% (50% + 50% of 50%). It was recently brought to light by Nikolaj Poulson that Slow only applies until an enemy changes their animation (so if you hit them with the poison while they’re in running animation, then they change to an attack animation, Slow will stop). Although irritating for most characters, that little setback doesn’t apply to a White Walker.

    During Slow Time, enemies behave weirdly (I know, that very technical term). They don’t seem to attack often, if at all, while under the effects of Slow Time, unless you are standing still directly in front of them. Archers are the exception, who will still be nocking and firing arrows. But these guys don’t need to be slowed, since they remain pretty motionless anyway. Otherwise, they are simply turning or moving (albeit very slowly). This means we can take advantage of Slow Poisons and Freeze while Warping, as enemies are moving so slowly anyway that the chances are they don’t change animation. But we won’t settle for anything but the very best.

    And although I’m done with the numbers for now, I’ll leave you with this; imagine including Dragon Aspect. This shout amplifies Slow Time's duration by another 50%. Throw in some Fortify Alteration potions, and you could potentially have a minute or two of Slow Time! Although I would advise against that, as there's a fine line between powerful and over-powered.

    Warping becomes your key technique in combat. Mixed with Frost spells and poisons, enemies will be moving incredibly slowly, making it easy to dance around them. Cloaks and Walls are particularly useful, as the slowed enemies will remain in their area for longer and the DoT is enhanced by Slow Time.

    At earlier levels Frost Runes will be your best friend, and can be used to hit multiple enemies at once. Defence will always be low, so flesh spells are a must. Berserker Rage also comes in handy, and can make boss situations much easier. At later levels, paralysis effects can be factored in, which decreases enemy movement speed even further. Paralysis can come from a variety of sources, including spells, Deep Freeze and poisons. Speaking of which, do not underestimate the power of Alchemy. Use potions and poisons liberally, since they can be a real game changer.

    Once your Magicka begins to grow, and you pick up more words of Slow Time, spells become much more viable. Fire some Freeze spells at them while they’re running at you to reduce their speed even more (we already know Slow only affects the animation they are currently perfoming, but if that’s running towards you in Slow Time that can be a very long animation). Ice Storms are a sight to see in Slow Time, and if cast while walking backwards they travel even more leisurely, practically frozen in the air until Slow Time wears off, when they rush at your targets in a mighty barrage of frost.

    Slow Time also makes Master spells much more viable, as you no longer need to worry about getting interrupted during the casting time. Simply position yourself far enough away from your enemies for the casting time to complete, then unleash once they’re in your vicinity. The spell that benefits the most here is Blizzard. Because Slow Time makes DoT effects even deadlier, Blizzard can become a deathtrap, slowing enemies and dealing massive damage. The detriments of vampiric frost resistance can be nullified through Weakness to Frost potions (Abacean Longfin+Cyrodilic Spadetail+White Cap), making Blizzard a worthy spell for a White Walker.

    Another tactic I hadn’t tried before was Ahzidal’s Ring of Necromancy. Exploding frost zombies are surprisingly powerful and deal pretty impressive damage when coupled with Weakness to Frost poisons. I found it best to use this tactic against bosses with several lower levelled friends, as they don’t require as much Magicka to raise. Shouting Frost Breath once they near your targets will not only deal heavy damage but also freeze your foes through Dragonborn Frost, leaving them wide open to further attacks

    Mounted combat also has a place in the White Walker’s arsenal. Arvak makes for the best horse because he can be summoned at any time, and looks the part too. Dual casting a Frost Cloak before riding adds a new dynamic to mounted combat, meaning any enemies in range of your sword will also be in range of your frigid aura. Throw in a death hound and a minion or two and you’ve got quite the frosty roving warband!


    For this playthrough I used very few main concoctions, keeping my list to just four total. All of the ingredients are easy to come by, and can be grown in a Hearthfire Greenhouse or Fish Hatchery, apart from Elves Ear and Salt Pile (looting houses and barrels respectively can net a huge number of these).

    Enhancer 1

    Fortify Restoration+Weakness to Frost

    Abacean Longfin+Salt Pile+White Cap

    Enhancer 2

    Fortify Restoration + Weakness to Magic

    Cyrodilic Spadetail + Creep Cluster + Salt Pile

    Winter's Gale

    Fortify Alteration + Restore Magicka

    Elve's Ear + Grass Pod + River Betty

    Winter's Shriek

    Fortify Destruction + Fortify Health

    Glowing Mushroom + Nightshade + Wheat


    Slow + Weakness to Magic

    Creep Cluster + Deathbell + Salt Pile


    Weakness to Frost + Weakness to Poison

    Abacean Longfin + Deathbell + White Cap



    Be sure to use this move liberally, as it can be really diverse. Not only  just an opener, Warp can be particularly useful in the midst of battle. If you notice your summons are dead or timed out, or there are more enemies than you anticipated, Warp and reposition! This allows you to get your breath back and plan your next move all in the blink of an eye to your foes. Perfect for a build that has relatively little armour and is susceptible to those irritating kill cams.

    Requires: Slow Time, Necromage, Stability, Amulet and Blessing of Talos, Freeze, Lethargy


    Frozen Aura

    Combining the Frost Cloaks of both yourself, your Death Hound and your Frost Atronach (or Atronachs) you can cover quite a large area with passive damage which slows down your foes. In addition, Death Hounds also come with a bite that inflicts Slow, meaning you won't need to be using Lethargy as often. What's best about this ability is that it can be accomplished quite early on in your playthrough, as soon as Destruction and Conjuration reach 50.

    Requires: Frost Cloak, Death Hound, Frost Atronach


    Icy Dive

    Ice Storm is an interesting spell due to its speed. If cast while walking backwards in Slow Time, it'll appear to not move at all, and instead hang in the air. Cast a few and you'll build up quite a few, which will rush at your opponents in one big clumpwhen Slow Time wears off. Take advantage of this opportunity to charge your enemies with a Blackfrost poisoned blade, which will weaken them to the inevitable deluge of ice that will swarm through them. 

    Requires: Warp, Ice Storm, Great Critical Charge, Winter’s Shriek, Blackfrost



    Definitely the most powerful ability in a White Walker’s arsenal, which focuses on harnessing all of your defensive abilities at once. Secret of Protection and Berserker Rage will last 90 seconds with Necromage, and with Dragonhide will render you practically invulnerable to damage, at least against physical enemies. Throw in Vampire's Sight, and the distracting red glow from Berserker Rage is gone too! Perfect for surviving on Legendary if you choose.

    Requires: Winter's Gale, Dragonhide, Necromage, Secret of Protection, Berserker Rage, Vampire's Sight


    Winter is Coming

    As Mason discovered with his Obsidian Sentinel, Blizzard is affected by the caster’s personal weakness to frost and magic. By drinking the Winter's Shriek potion then stacking the several Enhancer potions you can cause massive damage, annihilating enemies with a single Blizzard. Since each Enhancer not only increases Blizzard’s damage but doubles the effectiveness of the next, you could easily buff that meagre 11 dps (Stage 4 Frost Resistance, Necromage and Augmented Frost 2/2) to something incredible with only a couple of potions. An army of exploding minions only makes this move ten times cooler.

    Requires: Ritual Stone, Ahzidal’s Ring of Necromancy, Warp, Winter's Shriek, Enhancers, Blizzard

    Closing Notes and Credits

    Thanks to:

    Curse, for the initial ideas talk (back in October 2013!) and convincing me to keep this a separate build from my Crusader

    Mason, for further discussion and suggestions

    Albino, for proofreading and corrections

    Bloodbane, for helpful tips

    DeviantArt, Thraen and Google for the various images

  • Member
    January 4, 2015
    The honor of first to like this is mine.
    It's about time you released another one, and you didn't disappoint here!
    I don't know why, but with the name of the build I had an idea of an assassin. Slow poisons are really deadly, aren't they? :D
    The synergy here is really great, Raid, everything blends together so well...
    Great job (and a like from me)
  • Member
    January 4, 2015

    The aesthetics of this build are amazing! You blend mechanics, RP, and the overall feel of the build seamlessly. Plus chronomancy is one of the coolest powers ever. In the past I would obtain similar results by using the Quick Reflexes and Slow Time chain, but that makes you reliant on your opponents in order to access the warp rather than warping when you want to... this puts the control entirely in your own hands--I love that!

    Awesome build! (now I'm going to go read it again :D)

  • Member
    January 4, 2015
    Cheers Kael'than! Yeah, I'm a fairly slow/lazy builder, when something finally picks my fancy I'll play for ages until I'm sure it's right. This went through four playthroughs to become what you see here. Slow is the new fast mate :D
  • Member
    January 4, 2015
    Thanks Shin! I can agree with you there, chronomancy really sets this apart. I've never seen a build do it fully, so I thought it high time to rectify that fact! Funnily enough, I've never managed to do the Slow Time Quick Reflexes combo, I'd imagine it works similarly. Does simply multiply Slow Time's magnitude and duration by Quick Reflexes or something? Yeah, control is what this is all about, I loved being able to freeze a battle to formulate new plans and tactics and relaunch my assault.
  • Member
    January 4, 2015
    Yeah, just spam ST right as QR ends, and the results are similar... the shout lasts up to minute sometimes (which can be TOO long) and outlasts the cooldown.

    But what you've got going here is way better... 30 or so seconds is perfect, and if it's not enough time, you can do it again immediately. No walking around in slo-mo for forever, or having to hit the wait button to muscle past the effect. And again... control!

    This is also great for pure mage builds that don't use melee skills... having to perk block or lug a shield or weapon around as a pure mage kills a lot of the RP for me, so I got VERY excited when I read this :D
  • Member
    January 4, 2015
    I loved how this turned out Raider, you're still an awesome builder, and this shows. Great job, and +1
  • Member
    January 4, 2015
    Nice build, I would personally wear either vampire robes or the Ebony Mail. This build is cool, a vampiric Spellblade sounds awesome.
  • Member
    January 4, 2015
    Btw, those skill icons are amazing. Guild wars 2, right?
  • Member
    January 4, 2015
    Guess who's back, back again. Raidys back, tell your friends! Synergy was achieved indeed. Great presentation, and (probably more awesome) great concept and actualization of concept. It's taken me nearly three years to take off my magic blinders in Skyrim. Winter is Coming highlights the kind of fun I've been missing.