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Character Build: The Skeleton Archer

Tags: #Race:Nord  #Character Build Archer  #Character Build Summoner  #Character Build Bound Weapons  #SE Rank:Apprentice 
  • Member
    May 14, 2017

    Anyone that has played rpg games met them at least once. One of the most common enemy for newbies or seasoned Adventurers and even Heroes, The Skeleton Archer! What happens though when the Hero becomes one himself?


    Build Concept 

    Welcome Challengers, this is Skyrim Souls prepare to cry edition.

    As you might have guessed by now this character 's class will be an undead Skeleton Archer and the concept that makes this build unique is that no form of healing spell or healing potions or any other potions are effective on him. Think about when you are one step away from dying in that 10-20 health point, panicking and hastily opening your inventory to drink some potions or running away to cast your healing magic; well, that will not happen, with this character there will be no use of healing spells or potions whatsoever!


    Character's Undead Identity 


    Here will be listed the elements that give the character his undead identity and help with the roleplay:

    1) Important: The character cannot heal through restoration magic or potions - This means that while playing you are not allowed to use any form of healing spell or any type of potion, nothing of these two or else you take away the basic concept of the build!

    2) Being undead you possess boosted physical, magical and frost resistances. (Lord stone, Nord's racial)

    3) Your majestic Aura of Undeath has the ability to induce fear into the hearts of the living and the undead (Battle Cry, Dismay).

    4) The Skeleton Archer was a supreme wizard when he was in his living state (check profile in backstory section for info) but now he is unable to cast any Restoration or his light attribute Destruction magic. Despite all that he has developed due to his undead nature a new type of summoning magic. He is able to summon undead minions to do his bidding. Summoning and controling or even inducing fear into the undead is something that comes natural to him.

    5) The perk Soul Stealer fits in with the roleplay because if you check in the backstory it is mentioned that by stealing a bit of every opponent's soul he is able to strenghthen and recover his flesh/body. So roleplay it and think that whenever you kill someone you take away a small part of his soul or "power of life".

    6) If you chose to use the Hevnoraak dragon priest mask over Krosis the Skeleton Archer will also be immune to Disease and Poison which will also add to the undead roleplay of the character.

    7) If you have a disease and need to cure it the way I roleplayed this part is as follows: In the beginning I only cured diseases at a shrine of Akatosh which has a base since you are Dragonborn. After I completed the quests for Mara and Dibella I also started to use their shrines to cure diseases or take blessings but not before that. Also Talos could be used since the beginning or after you kill the first dragon in Whiterun. Avoid the others though especially Arkay.


    The Class 

    The Skeleton Archer has elements of the Archer, Summoner and Necromancer classes. His undead status makes him unable to restore his health, magicka or stamina through restoration spells or potions. He is a deadly Archer, Master of Alteration and able to summon undead minions to aid him in battle. Archery, the Bound Bow, Flesh Spells, Staffs, the Spellbreaker, Shouts and Undead summoned minions are the tools used by The Skeleton Archer.



    In the following link is the character's roleplay profile where you can also find his backstory: Click Here


    Character Profile 


    Race: Nord

    Magicka/Health/Stamina: 4/6/0  -  Even though stamina was needed in a few cases in the beginning I decided to ignore it. That's because of the No Healing aspect of the build and because I wanted to be able to chain cast this character's strong combo which is 2 Wrathmen + Ebonyflesh + Bound Bow, I prefered to have some extra Magicka and Health over Stamina also when the use of summons is available there is no need to run around.

    Stone: Mage - beginning, Lord - Main, Lady - optional, the lady stone could work as well since the character doesn't have any means to heal or restore stamina/health/magicka.  I wanted to get the Atronach stone for main but with it I wasn't able to use the summons so I went for the next option the Lord stone. (If you have USLEEP mod the Atronach stone might be ok. I have it but still couldn't summon minions so it might be something messed up on my end).

    Major Skills: Archery, Conjuration, Alteration

    Minor Skills: Enchanting - optional and will not be included in the main build the reason it is mentioned will be explained in the Perks section.

    Shouts: Become Ethereal, Ice Form, Unrelenting, Cyclone, Summon Durnehviir, Aura Whisper, Soul Tear, Dismay, Drain Vitality, Slow Time, Whirlwind Sprint. I will leave the Marked for Death shout on the player's judgement since it is a "strange" one.

    Pretty much anything goes for shouts, I use mostly Become Ethereal which is giving some health regen and Ice Form/Unrelenting Force/Cyclone for CC and the ones mentioned above which most of them fit with the undead theme whenever I feel like it, shouts are fun. Side note - I also use Dismay quite a bit because it fits with the undead roleplay but as the level increases it will be less effective on some of the enemies.

    Spells: All Alteration spells, Skeleton summons and Bound Bow (or other bound weapons) from Conjuration. Also don't forget to use our glorious steed Arvak!

    Weapons: Bound Bow, Miraak's Staff, Sanguine Rose, Staff of Paralysis

    Armor: Archamage's Robe, Dragon Priest Mask  Krosis or Hevnoraak for some more roleplay element, Archmage's boots, Any gloves with fortify Archery, Spellbreaker.

    Companions: None (optional). I don't favor companions and rarely use them, if you want a follower/companion you can pick the one you like but I think this build is more fun to play it without one, for the most part of it at least. Before the summons are acquired though some places with certain enemies like vampires/mages might be too hard to deal with in such a scenario I would suggest to hire a mercenary, get a follower of your liking or carry Serana around and show her places, she could be after all another undead minion which is more presentable than a bunch of skeletons and she can be pretty decent with one mod or two.

    Factions: College of Winterhold, Dawnguard, High Hrothgar

    Skills: Summon Arniel's Shade, Summon Karstaag, Summon Werebear, Racial Skills, Agent of Mara, Agent of Dibella, Dragon Infusion, Dragonborn Force, Secret of Arcana, Mora's Boon, Seeker of Sorcery, Scholar's Insight, Bardic Knowledge.




    Level 32 perks: Click Here

    Level 43 perks (my personal first playthrough perkspread before deciding to post the build): Click Here

    Notes: In my other playthrough I leveled up enchanting to 55-60 with just refilling staffs (Sanguine staff is eating a lot of soul gems) and by disenchanting all the enchanted items I came across, after that I needed to enchant only a few weapons in order to get a few more levels in my enchanting and invested the perks shown at the level 43 perks link above in order to enchant my own gloves/boots. Speech perks were taken only for roleplay purposes. Also my dragon priest mask was cloth so I invested perks into the Mage Armor in Alteration. Those are not needed in any way if you can't use or don't want to use mods I just took them for the aesthetics in the case of enchanting and because I play a harsher Skyrim with increased spawns mods, combat mods etc in the case of Alteration.

    Lastly the character will not be using any raise the dead spells from necromancy; he will use only undead summoning spells.



    Main Weapon: Bound Bow.    

    Secondary/Support Weapons: Sanguine Rose, Spellbreaker, Staff of Paralysis, Miraak's Staff.

    Head: Krosis (main), Hevnoraak if you wish to add another undead roleplay element with the immunities. 

    Chest: Archmage's Robe. Modded gear will be suggested in the Mods section.

    Gloves: Any gloves with Fortify Archery. I used some hide and then some scaled bracers with fortify archery. I leveled enchanting up to 60, invested 4/5 points into it and with an enchanter's potion made some cloth gloves with 27-30% Fortify Archery the only reason for that was aesthetics, I liked them more with the robes. 

    Boots: Archmage's Boots or any other boots you like. Archamage's boots were used by me only for aesthetics just like the cloth gloves, none other reason, if you fancy some other type of enchantment/boots use them.

    Main Necklace: The highest level Fortify Archery Necklace you come across.    

    Secondary/Support Necklaces: Necklace with Health Regeneration, Necklace with Fortify Health. (See note No 3).

    Main Ring: The highest level Fortify Archery Ring you come across.  

    Secondary/Support Rings: Ring with Health Regeneration, Ring with Fortify Health. (See note No 3).



    1) A necklance of Health Regen can be looted from Orchendor while doing the quest to obtain Spellbreaker which is quite convenient.

    2) A Staff of Paralysis can be acquired from Snapleg Cave.

    3) Make it a habit to check the shops/traders for better enchanted equipment, I always had several types of enchanted rings and necklaces on me with resistances, fortify conjuration and fortify alteration along with those that fortify health/stamina/magicka by a flat amount or their regen and used them whenever I needed one of them.

    4) If you wish to take advantage of the Mage Armor perk from Alteration you can go ahead and use just the Archmage's Robes and a circlet of Fortify Archery rather than Krosis or Hevnoraak. The Dragon Priest mask was used because it fitted the aesthetics of the character I wanted to make. For those that are able to use mods I will list a mod that allows to make all the Dragon Priest Masks cloth, light or heavy armor.


    Well, this build if it has anything then it is roleplay. As it is mentioned already you roleplay an undead character so everything in the "Character's Undead Identity" section is to be followed.

    The character even though he has become an undead and uses necromantic type of magic is not evil. His alignment is chaotic good. He puts above all else his freedom and will not bow to anyone that 's why in the dialogues always use the more "intimidating" replies. He used to be a great Master and he still has that air around him. He is also a vengeful individual so anyone that might hurt him even in a roundabout way has to pay a price how heavy that is will be left in the player's judgement.

    He travelled when living but after he became an undead and started travelling again to restore his body taking on all sorts of jobs to kill the bad type of people, monsters, evil mages, necromancers and anything else that came his way he started liking the identity given to him by the people as the mysterious masked adventurer going around killing the wicked and most of all he liked the fame, the praise and the feeling of making people happy. That being said he will be taking on all of these types of quests. Also he went to the College of Winterhold on a whim but he came to like it quite a bit perhaps due to the life he led in Cyrodiil. After becoming the Archmage he will leave most things to Tolfdir but he will take seriously his title as Archmage partly because he likes the College, partly because of his own narcissism for his magical prowess to be known and calling him anything less than an Archmage would be disgraceful to him also since the incident with Ancano the Thalmor will be on his blacklist. If the skeleton archer will start killing them will be left in the player's judgement (I didn't start killing them but at some point they sent their people to "annoy" me so they had to duke it out with my skellies since then whenever I met them, what can I say the Skeleton Archer is a vengeful individual). Reading his personality in the character's roleplay profile will also help to understand the character's choises better. Also from his backstory there are some elements you could gather hinting that no matter what he is letting to be seen on the outside he is the "romantic" type inside after all he became an undead not because he wanted to but because he sacrificed himself to save others.



    Main Quest, Dawnguard (good guys), Dragonborn, College of Winterhold, The Book of Love, The Heart of Dibella, Gauldur Legend, Azura's Star, A Night to Remember, The Only Cure, Dragon Research, Blood on the Ice, Destroy the Dark Brotherhood, Bounty Quests, Arniel's Endeavor, Summoning Karstaag, Drowned Sorrows and any other quest you might come across and fits in with the disposition of the character as it is described in the roleplay section and in his backstory.




    "A wizard is always prepared!"

    One of Vestok's favorite quotes.


    The gameplay for the Skeleton Archer is interesting to say the least. The Skeleton Archer is above all else a wizard. He has superior intellect and he is using it to secure victory in his battles. He is a strategist and will not fight losing battles. He prefers to leave and live to prepare and fight another day but he will surely finish off his enemies without fail be it now or in the future. Never leave an enemy to survive it is against the character's personality. I will seperate the gameplay in two sections one is the main form with which the Skeleton Archer is opening his battle and the second is his support form when he has to use other tools in his possesion in order to survive and overwhelm his enemies there is also a third minor form.

    Before everything else in the beginning or even later don't stay there and die, if you get cornered run and live to fight another day, plan your attack and kill your enemies the next time you meet them!

    Main Form: The Skeleton Archer when engaging in battle will cast his flesh spell then proceed to summon his undead minions and then summon his bound bow. The first priority in battle is to have his undead minions protect him and use the environment and his positioning in order to kill the enemy before the enemy kills him. The main combo here is Flesh Spell+Undead Minions+Bound Bow. That being said if there are too many enemies you could also mark a location with Miraak's staff before using the bound bow.

    Secondary (Support) Form: The Skeleton Archer regognizing his weaknesses will use any means necessary in order to survive.

    If he is injured during combat or low on magicka to summon his undead minions he will use Sanguine's Staff to hurl some Dremora at his enemies, others throw fireballs, he throws dremora who will judge him? He will also use a Staff of Paralysis until Miraak's Staff is acquired (after that drop the Paralysis Staff) to take control of the battlefield. If cornered he will also use Peryite's artifact the Spellbreaker to negate any magic attacks coming at him while retreating. I have to say when this type of gameplay was needed it was pretty fun - you have Dremora, Tentacles, Undead Skeleton minions and a bunch of crazy bloodthirsty enemies to slay while your life hangs by a thread what else can you ask for in an adventure?

    First I used the Staff of Paralysis from Snapleg Cave. After that I was using Miraak's Staff and on the other hand either Spellbreaker or the Sanguine Rose if there wasn't enough magicka summoned undead minions. When I finally got Miraak's staff I made extensive use of it (and liked it quite a bit) in order to control the enemies chasing me. Also don't forget to use Shouts.

    Apart from these tools which affect the combat directly the Skeleton Archer always has on him enchanted items which give flat amount of health/magicka/stamina or regenerate them along with other enchanted items that grant various resistances and will equip them whenever they are needed.

    When the fortify archery items are gathered this character is a glass cannon but the secondary form will always be needed. If the Krosis mask is used and with the right fortify archery items a big amount of % fortify archery can be achieved coupled with two wraithmen the strength of this character becomes apparent but every situation can turn bad in a moment since there is no way of healing any damage taken.

    Summoner's Form: Sometimes I just wanted to stay back and let my minions do the job. In such a case I was just letting them engage in combat while I was controlling the enemies with the tools mentioned in the second form and made use of magicka/fortify conjuration related enchanted items. (This is a cool form to use if one is able to use mods that increase the number of summoned minions you can have at a time it will give the feeling of an undead summoner expert to the player).

    General Notes: The character is not using any raising of the dead only summoning magic. No Sneaking!



    Phenderix Magic Evolved: Click Here (I used some undead summons from this spell mod)

    Apocalypse Magic and More Apocalypse Magic: Click Here  ,  Click Here  (this spell package also contains some really good undead summons)

    Pumping Iron: Click Here (this can give the feelling that the character is fulfilling his purpose stated in the backstory of recovering and strengthening his body)

    Rustic Clothing: Click Here (contains a really nice HD retexture in for the Archmage's Robe)

    The Elder Scrolls Rewritten - Arvak: Click Here (A mod to impove Arvak's appearance)


    Duvain's Skeleton Archer cut

    Here I will list the main mods I used in my non "vanilla" playthrough that change the skeleton archer's gear and perks.

    Check this video to get an idea into giving Skyrim a darker vibe: Click Here

    Path of Sorcery: Click Here (Perk overhaul for the magic tree, it fits perfectly with the skeleton archer and it is compatible with ordinator it will just change the magic tree perks check mod description)

    Black Mage Armor: Click Here (This is my go to mage armor. I used black archmage's armor/head/boots, black mage gloves, black mage mask and a circlet it's looking pretty good)

    Open Dragon Priest Masks by calyps - ODPM: Click Here (I used the variant one from this mod and also made them all cloth I think it is incompatible with weapons and armor fixes remade but not sure)


    This build has been a blast for me especially my modded playthrough where I turned skyrim into a more dark rpg game setting, I hope the readers will enjoy it as well.

    Lastly I would like to thank anyone that gave their feedback during the time this build was in the Workshop! 

    Thanks for your time!

    Happy Adventures!

  • May 14, 2017

    I will read this a second read later, but very cool approach so far. An undead who isn't a vampire. Creative. Me likey. 

  • Member
    May 14, 2017

    Thanks, Lissette!

  • Member
    May 15, 2017

    wooo! a beauty. some great images. I love  agood Role playtrough with some rules. I think it can really help you see and feel the game in different ways.

  • May 15, 2017

    Glad to see this out Duvain, it's looking really good :D

  • Member
    May 15, 2017

    Mottyskills said:

    wooo! a beauty. some great images. I love  agood Role playtrough with some rules. I think it can really help you see and feel the game in different ways.


    Thanks Motty and I totally agree that roleplay and setting some rules can help you see the game from a different perspective.

  • Member
    May 15, 2017

    Dragonborn1721 said:

    Glad to see this out Duvain, it's looking really good :D

    Thanks DB!

  • May 15, 2017

    Nice build Duvain, reminded me of my Aptrgangr build (the whold being undead and slowly regaining your power).  I really need to try out a bound bow run, every time I choose archery I usually just use it to deliver poisons or i playup a naturalist and hunter vibe.  I saw a skeleton mod when i was browsing the mods for PS4 the other day that looked like you play as a skeleton, adds them as a race or something, might be worth looking into.

  • Member
    May 15, 2017

    Vargr White-Tree said:

    Nice build Duvain, reminded me of my Aptrgangr build (the whold being undead and slowly regaining your power).  I really need to try out a bound bow run, every time I choose archery I usually just use it to deliver poisons or i playup a naturalist and hunter vibe.  I saw a skeleton mod when i was browsing the mods for PS4 the other day that looked like you play as a skeleton, adds them as a race or something, might be worth looking into.

    Thanks Vargr! I will check your build sounds interesting. Well regarding the bound bow what can I say it 's just my favorite bow. Even in my first ever playthrough of Skyrim my character was a Breton (a light restartitis kicked in and made him an Altmer after a few levels) Arcane Archer using light armor/bound bow/deadra summons so arcane archers with bound bow became one of my favorite class since then.

    Now if you like the naturalist/hunter vibe for archers you might like the next build I 'm planning to post in a few weeks probably (depends on work), I will try to recreate to some extent the Hunter Ranger DnD class and hope it goes well. I also saw the mod that adds the skeleton race it 's fun to play around with it :D

  • Member
    May 15, 2017

    This build turned out better than what I thought it would. The presentation is nicely done and the roleplay and rules add a great touch , so great job.