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Character Build: The Obliterator

Tags: #Character Build No Crafting  #Character Build Unarmed  #Character Build Villain  #Race:Orsimer  #Rank:Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build  #Zach  #Advanced Unarmed Combat 
  • Member
    January 25, 2015

    Unarmed combat has already been made viable by a number of excellent builds on the Skyrim Blog. Boosting unarmed damage with fortify restoration potions, werewolf stacking, fortify archery potions, and marked for death all put your damage levels back on the playing field. However, all of those methods can be applied to characters who use weapons, and to a much greater degree. This build changes that, transforming unarmed combat from something used for its own sake to a legitimate force on the battlefield that can surpass weapons. I am proud to present:

    The Obliterator

    The man who would be come to know as the Obliterator once was a pious monk. A hunger for power and the whisperings of insanity led him down the path of darkness. A deadly combination of brute strength, the skills of a master martial artist, and the foul powers of evil, the Obliterator smote all who stood before him. His senseless killing was just that, senseless. He killed because he loved it.

    What makes this guy so "ballin'" is a new way of conducting unarmed combat that I stumbled upon. I call it "Advanced Unarmed Combat". In essence, Advanced Unarmed Combat is a method which can be used to organically double, triple, or quadruple (and even higher!) your unarmed damage output in a way that is totally unique to unarmed combat. It easily puts your unarmed damage output on par with weapons, and surpasses them. There are also a few ways of "tweaking" Advanced Unarmed Combat to make it even more potent. The cherry on top? Advanced Unarmed Combat and one of its more significant modifiers works in vampire lord form! 

    The Build

    Race: Orsimer Vampire

    The idea that Khajit are the best race for unarmed combat is a myth. The standard unarmed damage which Orcs can achieve is more than enough for most enemies in the game. Against really tough enemies (usually just certain bosses) all you have to do is activate Berserker Rage and you get much more unarmed damage than a Khajit could ever hope to have and a huge defensive bonus to boot. 

    Stat Distribution: 1 : 1 : 1 (Magicka: Health : Stamina)

    This is fairly approximate. After a while I focused a lot more on magicka.

    Standing Stone: The Warrior -> The Lord

    The Obliterator runs around in very low level light armor, so the Lord Stone gives an very nice boost to our defenses.

    Shouts: Unrelenting Force, Slow Time, Become Ethereal, Dragon Aspect, Marked For Death

    Blessing: Blessing of Talos

    Powers: Force Without Effort, Dragonborn Force, Bardic Knowledge, Secret of Arcana, Seeker of Sorcery, Lover's Insight, Agent of Dibella

    With the Lover's Insight and Agent of Dibella powers you get another +20% to your unarmed damage against female enemies. Bandits, forsworn, and witches now are that much easier to kill. Not a huge damage boost, and rather situational, but why the heck not?    

    The party doesn't start till he walks in. And by party I mean slaughter.


    Block: As a master of the martial arts, the Obliterator can block blows that would kill a lesser man with nothing but his forearm (more on this later). He can easily overpower his victims with his bare arms, delivering bone crushing smashes that stagger, disarm, and even knock them down.

    Light Armor: Even when he was still a monk, the Obliterator preferred a more natural and savage look rather than the confining robes of his brethren. By wearing only a crown, a fur kilt, boots, and gloves, he is very dexterous, and very intimidating.

    Alteration: Though lightly armored, the Obliterator's skin is a strong as skyforged steel. Countless years of conditioning as a monk, and even more years spent slaughtering innocents on the battlefield has left him nearly impervious to the weapons of mere mortals.

    Restoration: Though the Obliterator chose a path of darkness long ago, he still retains his skills as a healer. He uses this holy magic in the heat of battle to replenish his strength and endurance, so that his unrelenting butchery may continue.

    Destruction: The Obliterator is not satisfied by merely caving in faces all day. Sometimes he has to blow people up with excessive amounts of fiery explosions. Or summon howling winds to crush people against the sides of mountains or hurl them into the sky. He may be a hype-violent brute, but he does appreciate the finer things in (un)life. 

    You won't like him when he's angry, and guess what? He's always angry.


    • Head: Diadem of the Savant
    • Necklace: Amulet of Talos/Amulet of Bats
    • Ring: Ring of the Beast
    • Armor: Fur Armor
    • Gauntlets: Gloves of the Pugilist
    • Boots: Enchanted Light Armor Boots
    • Shield: Enchanted Ebony Shields

    One of the classic issues for unarmed builds is that if you want to utilize block you have to sacrifice that whole UFC fighter battle monk vibe by lugging around an awkward shield. Instead, we will be blocking with our fists. When ebony shields are equipped by vampires they glitch and become invisible. Not just the texture is missing, but the actual collision model is missing, so you end up actually blocking and bashing with your forearm. All the block perks work as they normally do, except for deflect arrows and elemental protection, since they require a collision model. It is a small price to pay in the pursuit of looking really gosh darn cool. Even better, you can rock this look for an entire playthrough. An ebony shield can be found in Valthume at any level, I picked mine up at level 15.

    Fortify block is the way to go on the ebony shields that you buy, and fortify stamina works great for your boots. I also kept around a few shields and pairs of boots with various elemental resistances.The ebony shield you find at Valthume is unenchanted, so even though I did not perk enchanting, I threw on a +15% fortify block enchantment, which was fairly useful until the later levels when you can buy better versions.

    Level 25

    Stat Distribution: 190: 170 (270) : 180 (Magicka Health : Stamina)

    The numbers in brackets/parenthesis are the stats after being modified by enchantments.

    Here is the deal. Get power bash as soon as you physically can. It is the single most game-changing perk in the block tree until shield charge. The damage boost of power bash is minimal (like honestly, who cares?), however, it has a much longer stagger duration than a normal bash. Its stagger is somewhere around the same level of a two handed power attack, so, a lot. Having access to such a powerful stagger effect, especially when combined with Force Without Effort, is so incredibly useful. Deflect arrows and elemental protection are wasted perks since the Olbiterator blocks with his hands, but they are necessary to get block runner, which is a great perk.

    Level 45

    Stat Distribution: 300 : 250 (375) : 180 (Magicka : Health : Stamina)

    The numbers in brackets/parenthesis are the stats after being modified by enchantments.

    Considering that only the Obliterator's boots and shield have real enchantments on them, necromage is a nice little all around boost rather than an overpowered game changer. It helps to plug a few gaps as a hybrid character that does not really have much access to boosts to stamina, health, and magicka.

    Advanced Unarmed Combat

    Finally! It is time to unlock the true potential of unarmed combat in Skyrim. What Advanced Unarmed Combat does is for every time you do a standard attack, you can glitch the game into doing 2 or more attacks with just that one animation. I have gotten up to 9 registered hits for one attack animation, but that was using one of the ways to enhance Advanced Unarmed Combat, which I will get to later.

    You must be in 3rd person to get this bug to work. You can only use standard attacks, no power attacks. What triggers it is changing your direction of movement while the attack animation is occurring and continuing to click. The more times you can change direction while attacking, the more hits the game will register. It takes a certain rhythm, but after you get it down, it is glorious. Advanced Unarmed combat is confirmed on PC and on console. Here is a short video demo:

    Advanced Unarmed Combat synergies perfectly with the skills of the build. Block allows you to stay safe, and unleash a power bash, which heavily staggers enemies, giving you time to quickly deal a ton of damage before returning to the safety of blocking. The windwalker perk and the Bardic Knowledge lesser power give you a very healthy +100% stamina regeneration, and combined with the respite perk, you will always have plenty of stamina for power bashes. Shield charge, unrelenting force, and whirlwind cloak all work in a similar manner but open the enemy up to a far more extended amount of time in which you can absolutely spam Advanced Unarmed Combat. The Obliterator prefers one on one combat to really put Advanced Unarmed Combat to its best use, so the area of effect fireball spell is great for softening up groups before charging in, especially when you charge in right behind a devastating level 3 unrelenting force that scatters blobs of enemies to the wind.

    So lets talk about slow time. Slow time takes Advanced Unarmed Combat to a whole new level. The amount of hits you can generate from one standard attack with Advanced Unarmed Combat is based on the animation time, so, since slow time slows your attack animation, you have more time to switch movement directions, giving you more hits. This is not like when we all believed slow time made damage over time effects more powerful, I could easily tell that I was getting more hits in with just one attack when I used slow time. The highest I ever got was around 9 registered hits for one attack animation. Quick reflexes from the block tree can boost Advanced Unarmed Combat as well, but it is usually too short to really get much out of it.

    Vampire Lord Form

    *Bat noises*

    The epitome of Advanced Unarmed Combat lies in the vampire lord form. Your melee attacks as a vampire lord can use Advanced Unarmed Combat just like your normal form. The attack animations seem to be a little longer in vampire lord form, and the controls feel more responsive to movement changes, so you can get in even more hit registers than you could in your normal form.

    Transforming into vampire lord form sacrifices your defensive capabilities (block, AR) for the sake of a pure and brutal offense. The ring of the beast, poison talons, the boosted damage in the first place all combine together for a ridiculous amount of damage. The night cloak perk, which surrounds you with a swarm of bats that feed on your enemies, provides some nice healing and damage over time. To augment the night cloak with even more life drain you should replace your amulet of talos with the amulet of bats before you transform.

    Remember how much slow time boosts Advanced Unarmed Combat your normal form? Supernatural reflexes works the same way for vampire lords, making the grounded vampire lord form truly powerful, not just some sideshow to be out-shined by the use of blood magic.       

    For your vampire perks head up the center of the tree to get poison talons and night cloak as soon as you can. Then work along the left branch to get to supernatural reflexes.

    Vampire lord form is so much fun because it is a natural evolution of the Obliterator, it just fits. The same combat style is used in your normal and vampire lord forms, just with different strengths and weaknesses. You even keep the same general look, so I saw vampire lord from not as a complete transformation, but more as the Obliterator revealing his true bestial nature.

    Battle Tactics

    These are some techniques that I used in combat that were quite fun and potent. Naturally, Advanced Unarmed Combat is part of all of these tactics, so it would be redundent to list it every time.

    Decimation: Beserk Rage + Marked For Death 

    Using this tactic you absolutely DESTROY anything you see. Advanced Unarmed combat mixed in with x2 unarmed damage combined with level three marked for death gets fairly insane. Even worse (for your foes), this can be set up prior to vampire lord form and carried over.


    Body Slam: Whirlwind Cloak + Shield Charge

    This move is hilarious! Sometimes the knockback of whirlwind cloak will occur as (or right after) you hit an enemy with shield charge. As a result, they will be launched really fast and really far in random directions, even straight up.


    Unbreakable: Beserk Rage + Secret of Arcana + Dragonhide + Block

    Using secret of arcana to provide enough magicka for the casting of dragonhide you can reach the max armor cap. Then, even at the max armor cap, you further can halve the damage you receive. Throw in a high block skill and a fortify block enchanted shield and you are more or less invulnerable to physical damage.


    Maximum Focus: Necromage + Stability + Dragon Aspect + Slow Time

    Pretty self explanatory here. Slow time lasts, like, forever, giving you unparalleled power through its manipulation of Advanced Unarmed Combat.



    A wise man (you) once said "You can't rule the world if the dragons destroy it first!"

    Besides its awesome combat, the roleplay of the Obliterator is an absolute blast. A lot of builds specifically play as villains, but they lack the key thing that makes being a villain so fun. By that I mean fighting heroes. Skyrim does not really give us any powerful enemies that are good guys (but plenty of bandit chiefs, draugr, and dragons...). So, we have to make our own. What I would do was find a powerful follower (mercenaries, housecarls, mages, etc), put them in the most OP gear I could find, crank up the game difficulty, and head out into the wild to fight them. The results always were epic and memorable fights between good and evil. I pretended that the followers were adventurers, heroes, knights, and bounty hunters that had been sent to destroy the evil Obliterator.

    It is all good and fun making up your own stories by fighting personalized heroes, but Skyrim is also chock-full of quests that fit like a glove.

    • The Main Questline: You can't rule the world if the dragons destroy it first! Also ancient power and all that stuff.
    • The Volkihar: As an evil vampire, it is only natural for the Obliterator to hang out with other evil vampires. You feel right at home doing all those evil sidequests.
    • The College of Winterhold: Access to all the arcane knowledge a bad guy could ever need and a personal squad of geeks who obey your every whim and command? Yes please.
    • Dragonborn: More of an ego issue here, you can't let Miraak be a bigger baddie than you. All the other super villains would laugh at you.
    • The Black Books: Forbidden pacts with the daedra are right down your alley.
    • The Civil War: It doesn't matter which side you join, just that you get to kill a lot of people. Killing is fun.
    • Destroy the Dark Brotherhood: These guys are not know for their love of fair fights. It is hard to destroy the world if you get poisoned in your sleep. Best to take care of them now.

    Special Thanks

    Alastor and Ben C are both "the man". Without their limitless patience and endless support the Obliterator would never have come into existence. 

    Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the Obliterator.




  • January 25, 2015

    Been waiting for someone to use the invisible Ebony Shield in a build, but I never thought about using it with unarmed. Well done and good to see you building again. +1.

  • Member
    January 25, 2015

    It looks really weird if done with a weapon.

  • Member
    January 25, 2015

    This is a great build, Zach! I had no idea about this Ebony Shield glitch, I assume it only works with Ebony shields specifically and no other shield ingame, either way its great that you can block while unarmed. Of course this also means that unarmed can be brutally overpowered if someone really wanted it to, with invisible shields, gauntlet stacking, enchanting, berserker rage, marked for death, and sneak attacks. Should even be doable on Legendary difficulty.


  • Member
    January 25, 2015

    Yup yup yup! It also works with the blades shield (here is a uesp link to the ebony one 

  • Member
    January 25, 2015

    Very nice build, Zach!

    Clever use of that Ebony Shield bug; I've come across that before and only ever considered it an annoyance. Using it without a weapon is a really cool idea! You've totally changed my mind there! I'm not a fan of the way shields look in general, especially with unarmed and/or while out of combat, so kudos for finding a perfect workaround.

    I like the Decimation special move too -- simple, but guaranteed to work against ANY enemy. Too many builds have core tactics that only work against 5% of enemies in the game. Most of the tactics here will work against pretty much anything (staggering and some magic effects may require a bit more awareness though).

    I'm a bit unclear on how exactly the "advanced unarmed combat" is done. Do you have to rotate your camera, or strafe your character? Are you spamming the attack button the whole time?

    For the record, I believe the Vampire Lord form comes with a pretty decent built-in AR. You can test by running a quick player.getavinfo DamageResist in the console while in VL form. Might want to check that out just to be sure you know exactly what you're losing (if anything) by activating VL form.

    Well done, amigo. Always good to see fresh builds from my favorite builders -- especially when they include awesome new combat mechanics rooted in unarmed combat! 

  • Member
    January 25, 2015

    Yeah, you strafe that character (or any directional change for that matter, its just that left and right is fairly easy) while spamming the attack button, in 3rd person.

    Good point about the built in AR, I will have to test it, but you still loose the ability to block anyways.

  • Member
    January 25, 2015

    Oh I see, its only invisible when your character is a vampire. I've never gotten around to making a vampire, but meant to make a melee Vampire Lord a while ago, I think I may just have to try this out myself.

  • Member
    January 25, 2015
    Awesome build! Do you know if one of the unofficial patches fixes the ebony shield bug ?
  • Member
    January 25, 2015

    The Uesp page for Ebony armor says the unofficial patch fixes it.