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Character Build: Historical Series - Boudica

Tags: #Rank:Recognized  #Character Build Historical  #Character Build One Handed 
  • Member
    August 5, 2015

    Skyrim is sprinkled liberally with bits and pieces of William Wallace,  Robin Hood, Beowulf, Arthur, Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thones, Chaucer, etc.  Not surprisingly then, some of best Skyrim characters  I’ve played have been based loosely upon figures taken from the pages of history or classic literature. The game presents such an interesting take on the Dark Ages and Nordic “culture” that  Rice University is actually offering a course on the  folklore, mythology, and culture of Northern Europe as viewed through the lens of Skyrim…Yes, you too can go to a great university and study Skyrm!


    In this build, I focused on one of the more interesting Britons of all times, Boudica.  She comes in at #35 on the BBC list of “100 Great Britons of all time”, resoundingly beating out Boy George at #46.

    Historically, Boudica was the queen of the British Iceni tribe who lead a revolt against the Roman occupying forces around AD 60.   According to historical accounts:  

    "she was very tall, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh; a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips; around her neck was a large golden necklace; and she wore a tunic of divers colours over which a thick mantle was fastened with a brooch” 

    The Iceni were soundly defeated at the Battle of Watling Street somewhere in the West Midlands in around AD 61.  It is unclear if she was killed in battle or fell on her sword to avoid capture.   Nonetheless, her defeat lead to the establishment of a permanent Roman presence in Britain.  She was largely lost to history until the Renaissance where she became an icon for the English resolve.  Her name derives from the ProtoCeltic word for Victory and “Victoria” would be the modern equivalent—hence her revival during the 19th century.  As an interesting twist, an anti-imperial rebel became an icon for the British Empire and her statue stands guard  over the very city she burned to the ground!  

    For a Skyrim incarnation of Boudica, clearly she would be a Breton Forsworn.  In a number of ways, her historical story has parallels with some of the background stories already in Skyrim.  For example, the Forsworn were displaced by the Nords and then conquered by the Empire (c.f. the Legend of Red Eagle).  About 20 yrs before the events in Skyrim, a Forsworn rebellion lead by Madanach was brutally crushed by none other than Ulfric Stormcloak, who was at the time an Imperial soldier.  The revolt eventually landed Madanach in the Cidhna Mines.   Perhaps "Skyrim Boudica"  is the long-forgotten daughter of Madanach.

    The focus is a sparse, thematic build with a hit-and-run play style focusing on sword/shield tactics.  Crafting is secondary and gear should be limited to improving weapons and armor that were in the style used around the time of the Roman conquest of Great Britain in the 1st century. The presentation here is not so much a set of instructions on re-playing this character but rather a framework for exploring one of a history’s more fascinating characters. 

    Race:   Boudica is a Breton female.  While Breton’s are somewhat more inclined to Conjuration and initially weak on warrior skills, the combination of racial magical resistance (25%) and the Dragonskin ability give a much needed edge against magic wielding opponents and dragons. 

    M/H/S:   1/2/2.  Some Magicka is needed to cast low-level spells. In a pinch, Boudica can summon a Flame Atronach, cast some low-level flesh spells, and baffle her opponents with illusion magics. This is primarily a "hit and run” Sword/Board build, so high health and stamina are musts.  High stamina and light-armor are also needed to beat a hasty retreat when needed. 

    Stone: Warrior or Lover.  Switching to Lady or Lord later on.   (I tend to not switch “birth stones”, using Character Creation Overhaul to set my initial birth stone.)  For this play-through I used the "Lover" stone exclusively to Level 35. 

    Primary Ability Focus: One-Handed, Block, Light Armor,  Archery, Illusion, & Smithing.  General focus is on “base” perks for the Warrior skills.  Smithing is perked as only to improve enchanted items.  Since we'll use the Zephyr bow, we'll take the Dwarven Smithing perk once it's available. 

    Illusion is the sole Magical focus.  This was used to incite Fear into my enemies and encourage my compatriots as I imagine the historical Boudica would have.  “Muffle” was used to bolster sneaking and acquire skill in this ability.  As skill is gained, Illusion is given enough perks over all to be able to cast Muffle and Fury early on until all 3 words of “Dismay” are learned.  Eventually at higher levels, we'll work up to the "Aspect of Terror" perk to buff the Dismay shout--which is our "go-to" Illusion ability.  Once Aspect of Terror is gained, there is no need to continue to spend perks here. 

    Shouts Mastered 

    • Elemental Fury:  Mastering Elemental Fury alleviates the need to have an enchanted weapon and allows you to improve your main weapon with one Smithing perk.  Surprisingly, combining a high Stamina with EF also seems to allows for much faster blocking and shield bashes. 
    • Dismay is an amazingly powerful Illusion-based shout and is useful for dispersing low-level enemies. It is somewhat redundant once a certain level of proficiency in Illusion has been obtained since Rout and Hysteria  have the same effect, but on higher-leveled opponents.  That stated, you can master Dismay very early on and it is affected by the Aspect of Terror Illusion perks possibly to the same extent as Hystria according to the Elderscrolls Wiki. Personally, I don’t like swapping weapons and spells in the heat of battle; so having it hot-keyed as shout has tremendous appeal.
    • Whirlwind Sprint: The first two words are relatively easy to obtain at low-level even before heading up High Hrothgar.  While not a "go-to" shout for this build, it is fun to combine with Shield Bash and useful for rapidly closing in on ranged opponents. 

    Kit: The focus of the “kit” is that all components can be found early on and are in the general theme of a 1st century AD Briton.   Glass, dwarven, ebony, daedric, dragon scale, and dragon bone armor components are “out”.  By all means, sell & disenchant.  Crafting is limited to leather, iron, and jewelry.  However, you can “improve” any item you find provided you have the skills.  That stated, if you happen to  find a Dragonbone Sword or Bow…perhaps it’s a gift from the Old Gods in the Arthurian sense. However, in “vanilla” Skyrim, Dragonbone weapons are  only in the Dawn Guard DLC and are not in any leveled list.   

    Each of these are easy to upgrade and re-acquire as your enchanting ability progresses.Since Skyrim does not have torc’s, which were a standard piece of neck jewelry worn by the ancient Britons.  For this I substituted various Circlets—focusing upon 1H and archery buffs.  These were found rather than crafted.  Extras were sold or dis-enchanted as higher-perked items were acquired. 

    • Weapons:  Imperial Sword, Imperial or Forsworn Bow (moving up to Zephyr as quests are completed), Vladr’s Lucky Dagger.
    • Armor: Combination of Fur and Forsworn armor is a must for starters. In my play-through I started with using guard armor (Markarth or Hjaalmarch), hide or leather boots, and hide or leather bracers.  Guard armor is easy to get right away, has a base armor of 23, weighs 6, and can be improved using leather without any perk requirements.  Plus, it has the right look and feel for what a 1st century Briton might  wear—especially the green Hjaalmarch and Markarth varieties. The hide-bracers have a nice Celtic/motif as well.  Enchantments were primarily to buff 1H and Archery.  
    • Shield:  Round iron heavy shield.  Enchantment:  Fortify Block 25%.  This one I found early on and stuck with it throughout.  Later on, Targe of the Blooded is an excellent upgrade.

    Once you’ve completed the “Forsworn Conspiracy” and have the complete “Armor of the Old Gods”, the gauntlets and boots are worth keeping.  The armor only buffs Destruction (which is unused in this build) and the helmet increases magicka by 30pts….again not really needed since we’re not a magic focused character.  The boots and gauntlets buff sneak and archery and are good to keep until you ether find or enchant better hide or leather version. Until you get the Arcane Smithing perk, you can’t improve the armor rating of these items.

    General play style: Again, history is our guide.  Since the Iceni clearly could not defeat the Roman in open combat (few could), they relied upon guerrilla-style hit and run tactics.  Attack opens with peppering the enemy from a distance with arrows. Sneak/Muffle allows one to move in close for a quick volley of arrows…typically prepared with stamina and magicka sapping poisons or “Fury” potion.  

    Once combat is initiated, a “Dismay” shout and the sheer sight of Boudica strikes fear into the hearts of all but her most worthy opponents.  Since the Dismay has a base 50sec cool down, we need to buy some time before going one-on-one with our sword and shield.  If you have a follower, continue to pepper the target with arrows as your follower and/or atronach goes to work. Finally, the combination of Elemental Fury and high stamina make short work of almost any higher-level opponent.  For dragons, as soon as they are on the ground, charge and Elemental Fury.

    As noted above, I was surprised that the Elemental Fury shout affected shield use (even for enchanted shields).  I had thought EF only affected weapons!  So long as my stamina was high and with Elemental Fury mastered, I could power bash with the shield at an amazing rate allowing me to slice/dice almost any Boss-level foe with impunity once in range. 

    1. Reunite the Reach: There are a number of quests centered on areas within the Reach.  Your first and foremost quest is to liberate Madanach from the Cidnah mine. Once that has been completed,  “reunite” the Reach by visiting each of the Forsworn redoubtsand learning their words of power.   Along the way, clear out the various Nordic ruins of Ragnvald, Valthume, and Volskygge and acquire the various masks used by the Nordic Dragon priests.  There are something close to  70 marked and un-marked locations in the Reach. As queen, Boudica will need to have first-hand knowledge of her lands.   She needs to purge it of ancient evils and acquire its lost magics. 
    2. Civil War: Depending upon how you compare the historical account of Boudica and to the Skyrim narrative, Boudica could side with either the Storm cloaks or the Empire.   In the former case, joining forces to root out the Empire from Skyrim may give the Forsworn some leverage with Ulfric Stormcloak once he’s the new High King.  However, the same Ulfric Stormcloak did lead a massacre against the Forsworn and your best bet is side with the Empire. In either case, the battles provide the necessary ingredients for fun and role-play. 
    3. Cannibalism??  According to contemporary Roman accounts (Pliny the Elder), the 1st Century Britons did practice ritual cannibalism by eating the flesh of their enemies as a a source of spiritual and physical strength.  So, “Ring of Namira” is a necessary part of the kit. 
    4. Main Quest, etc.  Once the Civil War has concluded, Boudica would be a leader of a client-kingdom of who ever come out on top.  Completing the Civil War and reuniting the Reachmen should get you to around level 25-30…which is really the sweat-spot for playing Skyrim. 
    5. Home: Druadach Redoubt can be used as a nice base of operations.  However, the containers respawn. If you are using the “Forsworn Faction Pack” mod, additional non-respawning containers are added here and at the other primary Forsworn encampments along with crafting tables, Forsworn-focused merchants,  possible followers, and additional forsworn food [grub] items. 

    Optional Mods:  As a starting point, I use the “Alternative Start” mod to place her as a member of the Forsworn in Druadach Redoubt.  I also use the “Forsworn Faction Pack” to add some depth to playing as a Forsworn.   I use the “Immersive weapons and armors” mod for more options in dressing out the character.  These mods are all available on the Nexus and optional but add to the RP aspect.  Furthermore, the Faction Pack adds some possible Forsworn specific followers and  if you do start off as a Breton Forsworn using the Alternative Start, you are added to the Forsworn faction by default, which makes moving about the Reach much easier.   Finally, I used a mod that allows you to add Celtic facial and body tattoos and Apache Hair.  In keeping with the historical motif, high-ranking Celtic women and men were heavily tattooed using woad (bluish green).

    Surprisingly, this low hanging fruit hasn’t been pluck by other builds on this site.  There are a couple of Forsworn-inspired builds such as p44rdigm’s “Raven-Lady of the Reach” and Elysium’s “Shaman of the Old Gods” which are excellent to explore.

  • Ed
    August 5, 2015
    I love the historic basis and the simplicity if this. There's always something cool about a feisty warrioress! The Morthal guards' shields bare a triskelion motif, which is a modern symbol of the Celtic nations. I don't know how relevant that would have been at the time, but I used it for a Breton character I based on Conan Meriadoc. I look forward to the rest of this series! +1 from me.
  • Member
    August 5, 2015
    Love Ancient Rome,,love history,this build gets a like from me! I made a build based of the Celts, and used the Morthal shield
  • Member
    August 6, 2015

    Good story and history. Thanks for posting up that link. That is amazing and I know for sure that class filled up quick!

     May I suggest taking alchemy or restoration. If this character gets hurt how will she heal her wounds? Being part of the forsworn, can give her connections to a few more schools of magic. Balance of RP and survivability are essential in a character build. So far except the inability to heal, this has a pretty balanced perk choices. Adequate. 

  • Member
    August 6, 2015

    Healing:  that's the Ring of Namira is for--it was more than sufficient for this build.   Plus, after at least 2 Master/Expert level play throughs (even a "Dead-Is-Dead" run), I think I cast at most 3 self healing spells.   I generally found enough Healing potions & food (Cheese!) to replace the what I consumed when I couldn't find a fresh kill. 

    Even then--I really didn't spend a whole lot of time crafting the standard healing potions.  My general take on this particular character was to Not Get Hit,  Keep moving, keep the shield up, disperse massed enemies with "Dismay", take out the ranged opponents early on, etc.  

  • Member
    August 7, 2015

    Ring of Namira's effects can still be beneficial even of you're not a werewolf huh? I see. A horrid but smart tactic. Because the artifact itself is related to the more darker and twisted playthroughs. I don't know too much about it. Forgive my ignorance.

  • Member
    August 12, 2015

    Amazing build i try it with some little modificaton , using the savior's hide as main armor and used altération instead of  illusion buffing the  her warrior aspect ( mostly the flesh spell) . With the good frosworn mod it's become once of the best build i have ever play

  • Member
    August 12, 2015
    Exactly! Totally twisted part of the build. Partially inspired by real Briton culture from that period and partially to pull in the daedric worship aspect of being forsworn.