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Contest Build: Lonely-heart (of darkness)

Tags: #Character Build Juggernaut  #Character Build Enchanter  #Character Build Unarmed  #Rank:Exemplar  #Contest Silver  #Contest4  #Race:Altmer  #ShinJin Build  #MM 2016 Winner 
  • Member
    January 30, 2016


    Single Altmer Daughter of Skyrim: seeks male to share adventures/gold/life—race unimportant.

    Yes, you read correctly: an Altmer not slavishly fixated on race. If I think I’m better than you it will be because I can run faster, jump higher, or hit harder… that’s all. I don’t believe in a “superior race,” just superior individuals—if that title applies to you, I’m interested…

    …from The Haafinger Herald—personal advertisement



    This fast-moving, Heavy Armor (yes, you heard correctly), fist-in-your-face adventurer/expatriate/rebel Altmer is looking to free Skyrim from the tyranny of her own people, make a fair bit of gold, find a bit of fair treatment, and ultimately discover the one thing that has eluded her all her life... love. Is that too much to ask?

    The Lonely-heart's spheres just don’t quite align with members of her high-ranking Thalmor family. She's an outspoken pugilist who settles disputes with her fists, who can take a hit just as well as she can dish one, and who's been surrounded all her life in Summerset Isle by a culture that values none of the those things. When her mother’s promotion moves them to Skyrim, she instantly falls in love with the land and its people—finally, folks she can relate to!

    She soon discovers, however, that “going native” and identifying with the local Nords is not the same as being accepted by them, and while she is despised by her own race and family for her "ignoble" individuality, she is equally mistrusted and reviled by a people who are highly suspicious of outsiders… especially Altmer outsiders. Life becomes more lonely than ever.

    But the Lonely-heart is used to taking matters into her own hands... she'll punch her way into the hearts of this people. The Nine know there’s someone out there for everyone—even for a misfit High Elf in Skyrim—and she means to find that someone!

    The Basics

     I like: long treks by moonlight, watching the sun rise, the occasional bar brawl, and the indescribable feel of a steel-plated hand finding the sweet spot when a right cross properly connects.

     …from The Markarth Messenger—personal advertisement


    • Altmer—Who in their right mind ignores the mind-blowing racial powers and bonuses that so heavily favor the Altmer for magic, to instead trade blows and punch stuff with no real benefits at all? *Points two thumbs toward self* This guy!
      • But that's not entirely true! You get a much appreciated +5 to Restoration, and a wholly unnecessary +5 to Enchanting (which levels so quickly in the beginning it's almost laughable)
    • Imperial—if roleplay means nothing to you, but you still like the rough and tumble feel of the build, Imperials make a great second choice. A VERY solid +10 to Restoration is a nice incentive, +5 to Heavy Armor is also a terrific boon, and +5 to Enchanting is, again... meh.
    • Orc—+10 to Heavy Armor is awesome; +5 to Enchanting... a bit less so.


    • 1 magicka/1 health/0 stamina till you hit around 250 Magicka, then dump it all into health. Or...
    • 0 magicka/1 health/0 stamina—folks who really want to get into the RP of this build can go full-on health and actively ignore the natural affinity the Altmer have for magic. By doing so you turn further away from your own heritage and more fully embrace that of Skyrim's. I played both options, and enjoyed each for different reasons.


    • Mage or Warrior—you should, of course, grab one of these stones right out of Helgen, but it won't matter terribly; one of your top priorities will be to hire the first cart for Solitude to pay a visit to...
    • The Steed—this is, without a doubt, my favorite stone for Heavy Armor builds... especially for adventurers! Your armor weighs 0, you gain the phenomenal ability to carry an extra 100 pounds, and (due to a beautiful oversight) additional pieces of armor that match the type you are currently wearing also weigh... wait for it... 0! But perhaps my favorite part of all: you get all the speed of a 0 armor build with all the security of a tank. Love. Dat. Stone.

    This stone's a stud!


    Because I had a follower with me, I preferred to use passive shouts (I have had followers die because of a single Fus, and every time it happens a little piece of me dies with them). So a single word of Slow Time or Become Ethereal worked best for me. Both of these shouts kept enemies from effectively attacking, while allowing me to better position myself to bring the pain.

    This is not to say that I didn't use offensive shouts. When traveling out of doors I had Clear Skies hotkeyed (more on this in the Combat section), and would occasionally use a single Fus in dungeons. Dragonrend was a useful shout in the late game, and I painted four or five draugr scourges at once with a single shout of Marked for Death outside Skuldafn Temple when I knew I was alone, and the battle would be a prolonged one (MfD made it considerably less so ;D).

    Major Skills


    Mother feels it's too common—"merchant magic" she calls it—but I feel a sense of pride when I make my gear more powerful... and when I meet others who are willing to approach me and offer a price for it.

    You need shoot only for level 80. I opted not to take the Extra Effect perk because (a) by the time you hit the required 100 skill mark your character is almost at level 30 anyhow, and (b) on Adept I found it entirely unnecessary. However, you heroes who have the time to prolong your combat by playing on legendary may still want to consider it.

    Enchanted bows are a great way to soften up foes before it's time to get to the real work of fisticuffs (and they give you something to do when dragons decide they aren't up to a fight on terra firma). I usually kept a few unenchanted longbows on hand for when I ran across an enchanting table—upgrade the bows as your Enchanting increases, and sell the old ones off to interested merchants.

    Enchanting is also a huge part of making enough money to buy training for two of Skyrim's turtle-iest skills (Heavy Armor and Restoration, I'm looking at you), and another skill that you need to perk but don't actively use (One-handed—more on this later). So pick up those daggers, and save those petty soul gems for Turn Undead and Banish Daedra enchants... Hello Farkas and 5/5 Juggernaut!

    Heavy Armor

    Didn't take an unarmed Altmer in heavy armor seriously? 'Twas a mistake... now talk to the hand, vampire!

    When situations escalate, your go-to form of offense is unarmed. That means you walk right up to trouble and get in its grill! It also means you are going to get pounded on... a lot. Perks in heavy armor combined with a high health pool make this win-by-attrition mentality considerably less painful (even for someone not sporting dragonplate armor).

    And what pugilist would neglect the Fists of Steel perk? It's a huge boost (though, admittedly, not nearly enough) to Skyrim's painfully nerfed Unarmed Combat. Combine this with the Ring of the Beast, and punching stuff becomes a thing again. If you can find them, ebony gauntlets look fantastic with steel plate armor, and make those punches hurt a couple points more :D


    "As I said before, my usual clientele wants something that hits harder than daggers, elf.”

    “My name is Ellen.”

    “I had a great aunt named Ellen—a true daughter of Skyrim—I doubt there are many ‘Ellens’ from Summerset Isle.”

    “Exactly none, as far as I know. My mother originally named me after herself, but my days of answering to ‘Elenwen’ ended long before she had me carted off to Helgen and the executioner's block.”

    “And I thought I had problems! Hmmm... those daggers of yours turn the undead, do they? I suppose that could be handy. I’ll take three… and perhaps a couple of those rings.”

    ...Conversation with Oengul War-Anvil


    I love playing as an adventurer; however, it drives me absolutely crazy when I have a bunch of weapons I'd like to unload on a merchant, but I can't sell him any of it because he is an alchemist or grocer.

    Cue the Merchant perk. The Merchant perk ensures you'll never again be left with awesome stuff but no one willing to buy it. It gets even better: if you train with Sadri in Windhelm, you can sell him your loot to get all the gold back you spent in training. What's more, Collette at the College is a merchant, so you can do the same thing with her in order to train Restoration.

    Everyone wins, no pockets are picked, and because you now have all your gold, you can still afford to pay Farkas a visit every now and again to train Heavy Armor the next time you level up. I love a happy ending!

    Minor Skills


    My uncle mocked me when he saw me training.

    "Studying to be a doormat, are we? Perhaps now is a good time to show you why no one fears a Restoration mage!"

    I don't know what spell he had cooked up in his sadistic mind as he began to wave his hands around, but a fist in his smug face ended that nonsense quickly.

    What would he know anyway? The fool has probably never stepped foot inside an ancient tomb.


    When you fight unarmed, you're bound to take some lumps. Restoration keeps your punches coming. Hitting Adept level gets you one of my favorite spells in the game... Close Wounds. Health bar at half way? Hit the hotkey and get back to giving the pain rather than feeling it.

    Now couple Close Wounds with Respite, and you have one of the most useful combos in the game. Stamina low from trying to power attack through a bandit leader's interminable block-locking? End that jive this instant and keep the power shots coming (and the bandits staggering). Best of all, never worry about sprinting again: cast Close Wounds when you're out of juice, and you're off again. Your magicka fully replenishes by the time you next deplete your stamina bar—why, you're a veritable perpetual dynamo of sprinting!

    Other useful spells include Healing Hands (to keep Mr. Right running at top capacity), and my tomb-crawling favorite: Turn Lesser Undead... the undead auto-stagger.

    I dislike: the undead. Fortunately, the undead are loaded with loot, and Skyrim is loaded with undead just waiting to be made dead again—I love Skyrim!

    ...from The Solitude Sentinel—personal advertisement



    You'll never arm yourself with a sword, dagger, axe or mace in this build... ever (at least I didn't). So what's up with the One-handed then? Dual Flurry is what's up with the One-handed. By throwing one skill point into Armsman, and an additional two into Dual Flurry, you up the swing speed of your unarmed attacks by 35%. Because I enjoy stick-and-move fighting and not just button-mashing, this would let me get an additional hit in (sometimes two if I timed it right) before pulling back from the action. Totally worth it for me!

    *Update*Anderson has since informed me that perks in Dual Flurry don't actually effect your unarmed swing speed, so I played with some console settings (I mean, what would Andersoncreator of the highly technical (and legendary) Malkoran's Split Soul know about game mechanics, right? ;D) to see if that was the case and... I couldn't tell. SO, I tried a more simple test and armed myself with two daggers to see if I could tell the difference with those. There is a hugely noticeable difference between the swing speed with daggers, but not with unarmed.

    It would appear that playing Skyrim now is exactly the same for me as getting new shoes was when I was a kidI would have sworn in a court of law that I could run faster, but some simple tests have easily proven otherwise ;D

    The takeaway: rather than operating under the placebo effect, throw those three extra perks into Haggling you'll actually get some USE out of them xD


    The Superior Individual: wait... that's 'Mr. Right'?!?

    I love: adventure, loot, guys that cook, and Skyrim.

    ...from the Falkreath Forumpersonal advertisement


    What can I say? I really like this guy, and he’s exactly what I think a rough-and-tumble lonely-heart would be looking for: he’s not afraid to comment on Skyrim’s most breathtaking vistas and incredible ruins (Look at this craftsmanship! These old halls fill some folk with dread, but as a Nord, they fill me with pride); he has an infectious enthusiasm for adventure (What dangers and wonders shall we discover in the frozen wastes? I can hardly wait to find out!); he demonstrates a genuine sense of concern for you (Just be careful!); and he’s got a sense of humor (Do I get to keep it? Nah... Just kidding.) The guy's awesome!

    True--with a little work the man might almost be as attractive as a frost troll, but I think spending a lot of time adventuring with a guy like Belrand would do much in overcoming that particular obstacle (I was able to con my Missus into marrying me in much the same way xD)

    But Belrand is also one of the few spellsword followers available in the Vanilla game. He routinely conjures Familiars who provide an extra layer of protection, and when you give that man a staff like the Eye of Melka in one hand and an artifact like Dawnbreaker in the other, you can easily find yourself struggling to get in some kills of your own.


    Head—Nothing. I left this slot open for the following reasons: (a) it just seemed more hardcore to go without a helm, and circlets and hats seemed a little too prissy for this wind-in-her-hair character; and (b) I really didn't need it. If, however, you play higher difficulty levels a steel plate helmet or circlet with Fortify Restoration would definitely be worth adding.

    Chest—Steel plate armor. Aesthetically, this is perhaps my favorite armor in the game—heavy, but sleek—and you can get it fairly quickly if you're willing to burn in Oblivion  by sacrificing various NPC's. I just decided to use iron/steel armor until I came across steel plate in my adventuring. I enchanted mine with Fortify Health.

    Neck—Talos Amulet. While the shout cooldown is always welcome, this was more about roleplay... the ultimate way for a Thalmor-born elf to go native and say, "I am a daughter of Skyrim."

    If you find yourself unimpressed with roleplay, feel free to enchant a necklace of your own (I occasionally found myself thinking a little Magic Resistance might be nice)

    Hands—Steel plate gauntlets, but if you run across some ebony ones, they look fantastic. And, of course, a Fortify Unarmed enchantment is most helpful

    Ring—Ring of the Beast. I don't have Dawnguard, so I simulated it the best I could with PC commands... don't know how an 'anti-resto loop'  person could go unarmed without it!

    Feet—Steel plate boots. I switched back and forth between Fortify Carry and Fortify Stamina, but eventually settled with the Stamina enchantment.


    I hate: haters. Yes, I know, and it would be... unwise... to point out the irony to me.

    ...from The Dawnstar Daily (published bi-weekly)—personal advertisement


    I found that a little long distance looking (when possible) did wonders for my survivability. So to that end, I did the following before pulling out the fists of fury:

    • Find your target audience—locate the sparky/frosty/flamey folk first. You can take hits and arrows, but magic leaves a mark (and as one who has grown up surrounded by mages with attitudes, the Lonely-heart has no real love for high-handed, supercillious spell-slingers anyhow)
    • Identify the melee big-wigs—deathlords, scourges, marauders and the like... you'll want to keep an eye on those fetchers while you finish off the mages

    Opening Gambit

    Once I identified who's at the party, it was time to crash it. Combat most often started with my enchanted bows. With no perks in Archery you won't get very many shots off before things catch up to you. This was by design—kiting seemed a bit out of character for this build. 

    Because you can't do THIS if you're kiting... The horror! The horror!

    For mobs, you'll want to efficiently whittle down their numbers. I went at them like this:

    • Mage in the house—I'd make the first arrow count. If you've got the drop on a mob put a stealthy arrow into your greatest threat (the mage), hop out of sneak mode and try to get a couple more in
      • Once the mage's health dropped a bit below 2/3 (too much more, and you risk them casting a healing spell... I hate that!) ditch the bow, run past the bruisers, and dodge, duck, dip, dive and... dodge your way to the spellcaster. I liked to close in with a single shout of Slow Time or Become Ethereal
    • Den 'o melee—I tended to tackle the melee threats in descending order... heavy hitters first... but would swat a lowly bandit or draugr out of the way if one presented itself. The logic: taking an unexpected mace in the back of the head from a bandit stings a bit; however, when marauders thump you it moves combat in a disconcerting direction
    • Den 'o mages—you're in for a thrill ride! I normally kept my off-hand free of spells to enjoy Unarmed's devastating kill-cams, but for mage mobs I kept Close Wounds out and ready. Hone in on anyone throwing lightning at you... you'll need your magicka. These fights weren't pretty: I button-mashed, stagger-shouted, became ethereal, slowed time, and sometimes simply shrieked at these fetchers... the kids loved it! xD

    Keep in mind that anything you can do to stagger difficult opponents is a good idea:

    • If you are out of doors, a single shout of Clear Skies acts much like Unrelenting Force (and if you are wearing the Talos Amulet, and have the Blessing of Talos it is a hair's breadth from being spamable).
    • A single shout of Unrelenting Force is your best bet if you are fighting indoors
    • In undead dungeons, Turn Lesser Undead will not create a fear effect on more powerful foes, but it will stagger them... deathlords included!
    • I meditated on Fus for the stagger 25% less for self and 25% more for enemies bonus

    For single enemies, I'd simply charge in and start the fisticuffs. With no movement penalties (thank you Steed Stone), I preferred to use stick-and-move tactics rather than button-mashing.

    • Start with a shout to either stagger your enemy or safely set you up for the first attack, and mash as many hits as you can till the enemy recovers
    • While waiting for shouts to cool down, I would run toward an enemy to trigger an attack, backpedal out of range, then swoop in for a shot or two. If shouts are still cooling, repeat the process. If not... shout, mash, back off, dance-and-swing




    I think I'll look up that mercenary in Solitude. From his letter, he seems like fun, and his readiness to face adventure head-on intrigues me... I wonder what he looks like?


    I don't like to have a terribly tight itinerary when I play a build, so keep in mind that I did a lot of adventuring and exploring in between; however, coming out of Helgen you'll want to do these things fairly quickly (in no particular order):

    • Get the Ring of the Beast (+20 to Unarmed and +100 to health? Yes, please!)
      • Get cured and put that undead unpleasantness all behind you
    • Get to Solitude and hire Belrand as a partner for your adventures
    • Take your new-found friend and high-tail it to the Steed stone (go ahead and wail on the bandits next door should you feel so inclined ;D)
    • Visit Azura's shrine, fix the star, and turn it black
    • Ironbind Barrow—Fiery Soul Trap... 'nuff said! (Also an option for picking up steel plate armor if you can't keep Salma alive).
    • Just have some fun looting ruins, selling gear, picking up contracts and doing an odd job or two for the Companions.


    I can only imagine what they'll say when I march into the Palace of the Kings to sign up, but I'll show them... I'll show them just what a true daughter of Skyrim can do!


     By the time I hit my mid-game I still did the occasional adventuring, but became a bit more driven, focusing on creating a sense of stability. I was ready to establish a presence in Windhelm where people, in spite of my heritage, might come to appreciate me as an individual. To that end, I did the following:

    • Blood on the Ice, The White Phial, and a few Windhelm contracts
    • Join the Stormcloaks
    • End the civil war

     Late Game

    I realize that ANYTHING starts to look good when you're out in the wilderness too long, but I'm finding that even in town I'd rather look at Belrand than the others. Perhaps I'll put on that Amulet of Mara I pulled off the marauderjust to see what happens...

    Again, lots of adventuring going on, but I felt I had to do the following to really get the closure I wanted for this build:

    • Purchase Hjerim in Windhelm
    • Marry Belrand
    • Kill Alduin (it was time to put an end to that dragon nonsense, and I needed to get to the Throat of the World in order to repair the White Phial anyhow).
    • Settle downwhen I hit level 30, I had enough gold to sell off my remaining loot, retire, and enjoy the fruits of my labors with my spouse. And they all lived happily ever after.
      • or maybe they just kept on adventuring... ;D


    I’m just looking for a kindred spirit who appreciates this amazing place as much as I do. So come sweep me off my feet (or let me sweep you off yours… whichever). Who knows? Perhaps together we can make Skyrim slightly safer, our purses considerably heavier, and each other blissfully complete.


    Wistful in Windhelm

    ...from The Windhelm Watch—personal advertisement



    Special Thanks

    As always, a special shout out to the CB hosts for getting this contest up and runninga lot goes on behind the scenes to get these events and contests off the ground, so thanks for making it happen.

    Another shout out to Anderson, who helped me straighten up and fly right regarding the futility of my perk selection for One-handed ;D

    Also a great big thanks to those who have participated in the contest whether by submitting fantastic builds, or simply participating in the Character Building Contest #4: Minibuilds thread.



  • Member
    January 30, 2016
    Oh Shin this is too much...hilarious, original and viable. Nice piece of creativity here. Thanks for the good read.
  • Member
    January 30, 2016

    The picture below the Combat title is so nice! :D

  • Tim
    January 30, 2016

    Oh man, after reading this I feel like playing Skyrim again :D (it's been a little while)

    I'm just kinda hoping for the Xb1 back compat. The ol' 360 isn't doing well, lol. 

  • Member
    January 30, 2016
    And thanks for the kind words! :D Hilarious, original, and viable is what I strive for (but not always what I achieve xD)
  • Member
    January 30, 2016
    I liked it too, but almost didn't use it. The original was portrait sized, and the character was escorting a woman with a cloak through the forest. It's a great image, but didn't really fit the bill. A little GIMP fu got me what I wanted ;D
  • Member
    January 30, 2016

    Thanks, Tim!

    Oddly enough, in spite of the many antithetical elements found in this build, it has been one of the most Skyrim-y playthroughs I've done in quite a while... though I'm still not quite sure why (after all: Heavy Armor, Unarmed Altmer daughter of Skyrim doesn't SOUND all that Skyrim-y xD)

    BTW--I have no idea how you console players aim with your thumbs as well as you do ;D

  • Member
    January 30, 2016
    Years of practice haha I don't see how you keep all those keys in order, I would be messing up for quite a while
  • January 30, 2016

    I think we might have found our contest winner. Im betting this build wins. Awesome work Shin.

  • Member
    January 30, 2016

    Can you imagine a console controller with an 8-hotkey bar on the top? The horror! (or AWESOME... I really can't decide at the moment xD)