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Character Build: The Knight of Crows

Tags: #Character Build Barbarian  #Character Build Nightblade  #Rank:Recognized 
  • August 27, 2015

    Tell me, have you ever heard the tale of the Knight of Crows?
    I'm not surprised. It has many names, you know. The Murder of Crows, The Scarecrow Knight, The Unholy Headsman, The King of Pelts, The Butcher of Skyrim. His origins are unclear in Tamrielic history. Some believe him to be a Daedra, or the incarnation of Sithis. Others believe he's a bandit chief who went berserk. Others still believe he's a forgotten god of the Forsworn, disgraced and made mortal. And others believe him to be a man-mer, a vile creation of the Dwemer cast upon the earth many, many years ago.

    But what I tell you now, is the true story of the Knight of Crows.

    The Knight of Crows is the last member of an ancient order known as The Murder of Crows - a splinter cell of the Mythic Dawn - who wished to undo Nirn by means similar to the Dwemer of the lost ages by erasing themselves from history, using powerful daedric artifacts as a substitute to the Heart of Lorkhan. Their name comes from their trained ability to stay deathly still, for decades at a time in a semi-comatose state similar to a scarecrow, observing any who fall under their vision. This ability came from an alchemist's potion called "Crowfood", named for the principle ingredient - several pounds of human viscera, eaten three moons beforehand by the drinker. Known for their strategic ability, The Murder of Crows were famed for their ruthlessness in battle, the peerless alchemical skills of their knights, and their constant mental presence on the battlefield. The order dissolved after the start of the Fourth Era with the Mythic Dawn, and the Murder of Crows is all but forgotten. Or at least, they were..

    But somewhere in Skyrim, one of those "knights" has just woken up from an aeons-old sleep. And has a new purpose.

    To obtain the power of Divines, and prepare for the end of life as we know it.

    Talos help us all.

    The Knight Rises...

    Race: Nord. Be sure to make him/her really thin.
    Major Skills: Alchemy, Sneak, Illusion
    Minor Skills: Two-Handed, Light Armor, Pickpocket
    Stone: Mage, then Ritual, and then Shadow + Ritual if you decide on the Aetherial Crown.
    Shouts: None.
    Quests of importance(In priority): Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Lost to the Ages, Dawnguard Volkihar side, College of Winterhold, Daedric Artifact Quests
    Gear: Headsman's Axe with debuff poisons, Fur armor with sleeves + Gauntlets, Ragged Boots, Apprentice hood, Ring of Namira, Aetherial Crown(Optional)
    Followers: Your Thrall Army.
    Magicka/Health/Stamina: 3 Magicka/1 Health/1 Stamina

    (The Build)

    Inspired by the Batman villain Scarecrow, the focus of this build isn't to be a cold-blooded barbarian or a spectral assassin, or even an all-seeing, all-making mage. No, your weapon is your enemy. Some men prefer to slaughter their foes personally, but the purpose of the Knight of Crows is to do no such thing.

    The goal of this playthrough is to kill directly as little as possible, but instead to leave your enemies helpless and afraid, cowering before this demon of their worst nightmares and his army of the damned. Fury and Fear spells are a big part of this, for obvious reasons, as well as a poisoned battle axe to further influence the nightmare.

    Start simple, bandit camps and the like until you have master of the mind, then really delve into things - Draugr Lairs, Dwemer ruins, anywhere. I've never really played with illusion until now, so this has been a new experience so far, and most importantly, Illusion is really, really, really easy to level.

    More than just a bird magnet


    You may have noticed the skills taken in here point towards more of a nightblade or an assassin rather than a barbarian. Well, I'm telling you now, it's both. Hold your gasps, please. To prepare for the truly one-sided battle, The Knight of Crows utilizes a mixture of Frenzy poisons and spells as well as other debuff potions such as paralysis, fear and slow.

    But in order to really play The Knight of Crows accurately, you need to play a little slower, think your plans all the way through from start to finish. Ultimately, the build is made to reward the strategist, and helped add a level of depth in combat I hadn't really experienced before.

    Your signature weapon, the Headsman's Axe, takes a back seat to the chaos you sow with your spells and poisons, and gives us a chance to trade in for a weapon that looks spiffy over a weapon that does high damage. I cannot stress enough just how much you will require alchemy; It's the bane of my existence to use the skill in a build, but it's necessary for the Knight of Crows' longevity.

    The Knight of Crows has an image to uphold, however. Fur armor not only looks the part of a patchy harbinger, but adds the other barrier to direct combat: Your only armour are those gauntlets and cuirass. But that's alright. We won't need to fight when others can for us...


    No battle was ever truly won without a plan. In order to claim the battlefield as our own, we need to follow three specific stages of combat:

    Stage one is Suspicion, all stealth-based. The scouting phase, if you will. This stage is to figure out what we're going to be up against. Sneak around, taking items of importance and leaving poisons on enemies with pick-able pockets. Drop a frenzy rune if you have them. The sole purpose of this stage, while merely looking superficial, allows for some insight into who, what and how. Making a plan is what this build is made for, and rewards the cautious and strategic player.

    Stage two is Panic. After taking a look into who's where and so on, we can move into the first half of combat, casting frenzy spells out of the dark.
    A few ways to corral some corpses include:
    -Fury-ing the toughest enemy in the room and watching the sparks fly 
    -Making a tough enemy forcefully: reverse-pickpocket a decent set of armour onto some anybody and Fury-ing
    -Fear-ing just about anyone except one person
    After your foes have been sufficiently weakened, begin stage three.

    Stage three is Chaos. With your foe weakened, dead and/or in a state of disarray, call upon the power of the Ritual Stone and resurrect those enemies killed during the Panic phase, while assaulting the ragged few with your poisoned battle axe. What few shreds of resistance these foes may have held previously are most certainly gone now, and the carrion bird can descend upon the flesh of the forgotten, dead and dying...


    Our weapon of choice is none other than the Headsman's Axe, the blade of gothic authority. It does less damage than a steel battleaxe, can't be tempered, and getting it requires an insane level in pickpocket or having to go through a quite difficult bandit quest. Not exactly anyone's cup of tea, I know, but the axe itself screams intimidation like no other. Plus, the damage tradeoff is nulled by our minor role in combat.

    Now, as you may have noticed, there's an option to pick up the Aetherial Crown. While it doesn't affect gameplay too much, it does save you some valuable time spent waiting a whole day between camp assaults, thanks to the ritual stone's once-a-day rule. To do so, merely bless the Aetherial Crown with the Ritual stone, and then equip and un-equip the crown. Voila, ritual once more! 

    The Ring of Namira has very little value in combat, but adding it to our strategies allows for some backup if the zombies weren't enough.
    In addition, if you have the Bandolier mod like the other >85% of Skyrim players on the PC, forget everything except vial belts. Gotta look fresh, know what I'm saying?

    (Abilities and poisons)

    This ability can help you in a few tight spots. Use it wisely.

    Waltz of Despair
    Finally, a use for backwards power attacks!
    Facing away from your opponent, do a backwards power attack then quickly turn around to face them. For best effects, do so in front and to the left or right of your opponent.

    Should someone's spell wear off too early or you're not quite sure what to make in Alchemy, the following poisons should be a nice way to tip the scale in your favour again.

    Essence of Terror
    The Knight's go-to poison. Leaves enemies in fear and lower health to help your flock out.
    Damage Stamina Regen, Fear, Damage Health

    Don't actually drink this thing, it'll harden your insides worse than the armor it's supposed to soak into.
    Fortify Light Armor, Regnerate Health, Resist Poison

    Dream Fluff
    Mmmm, Dream fluff. Gives you a nice boost to your mental health, Razputin.
    Fortify Illusion, Regenerate Magicka, Restore Magicka,

    Elemental Eliminator
    Can also be used to waterproof thatch.
    Resist Fire, Resist Frost, Resist Shock

    Silence Extract
    A nice buff to your stealth and defenses, whether it's sneaking in or making a getaway. Careful, that stuff's poisonous in large doses.

    Invisibility, Regenerate Health, Restore Stamina

    For the mages in your life. Drains magicka and leaves them helpless.
    Damage Health, Damage Magicka, Frenzy, Damage Magicka Regen

    Lowers your target's health and ensures a quick death by his comrades.
    Damage Health, Frenzy, Damage Stamina


    The Knight of Crows may be the last member of a taboo order who wanted to end the world, but he's still a knight, and upholds the courtesies of one. At least he should. Right?
    -Get kicked out of the College of Winterhold once you reach Expert Destruction and have Rout and Frenzy.
    -Do jobs for the Thieve's Guild first to build up money and then forget them and move to doing Dark Brotherhood missions after you've been made Guild Master.
    -Bloody hell, is that a dragon? Book it lad, you'll be toast unless you have some Elemental Eliminators on you and strong poisons.
    -Kill any Bards you see. I'm sure there's a reason for this, but you just really hate music.
    -Followers should be left for dead at the earliest chance available.
    -Vampirism is a nicety while it lasts, but whether or not you cure it is to the discretion of the player.

    I would like to take a small moment to acknowledge you, the reader, for reading this build I've had under my wing for a while. Should you play it, enjoy. But most importantly, if you feel I've places to improve, drop a comment.

    Many thanks again,


  • Ed
    August 27, 2015
    Cool, really cool. Nice character, nice aesthetic, like the skill combo. The illusionist warrior is a fave combo of mine. Never thought of using alchemy though, that was a nice touch.
  • August 28, 2015
    The 'murder of crows' strikes me as an odd name for a build. If in not mistaken a murder of crows is the same thing as saying a flock of crows. You had other more interesting names in your intro that might make for a better build name. I particularly like the 'scarecrow knight' as a build name.
  • August 28, 2015

    I felt it would make for a more grim, gothic title, what with the whole "Murder" thing in the title. But yeah, another name might do it better. 

  • August 28, 2015
    In your potions and poisons section I notice you list both a cheap and potent variant to Everything. I think that's generally going to confuse people. Just boil it down to just what you used to make the concoctions. Peole will vary up your build as they please when they play it. Just stick to what you did. I notice in your closing statements you take a shot at your own work. You never want to do that in a build. Demonstrating a lack of confidence in your own work is a sure fire way to kill the interest in your build. A build write up is no place for self deprecation. Well your build like its the greatest thing since sliced bread. If you want a better idea of what to expect in a build I suggest taking a few days to browse through exemplar mythic and legendary builds.
  • August 28, 2015

    Thanks for the advice, I'll take a look when I can.

  • Member
    November 3, 2015
    Great build, mate! Real sinister and thematic. Definitely should be out of bloodworks at the very least.
  • Member
    November 3, 2015
    I love the layout of your combat plan. So so good. I'm working on a character right now and that gave me some ideas. I think it's awesome man.
  • Member
    November 3, 2015

    sounds interesting i like it :) good stuff

  • Member
    November 22, 2015

    Loving this build. Too bad you could not combine the adept hood and the executioner mask together.

    One could also use this template for a Harley Quinn playthrough. Use warhammers instead of the headsman axe. Use the frenzy spells more than the fear ones. Could call it Lust or Fight for my Love