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Roleplaying Guide: The Necromancer

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  • July 10, 2015

    Hello everyone. After reading Gabe Miniaci’s guide on roleplaying an assassin and thief, it really put me into the mood to write my very first roleplaying guide on my personal favorite class to role-play as on Skyrim: The Necromancer.

    Roleplaying as a Necromancer


    Necromancy, from the start, can be slow. Unlike past games, you need physical bodies, and those bodies have to actually attack enemies for you to gain experience. There will be several times as you progress through your dark path that when you try to raise corpses, it will not work. The soul of the creature you have slain is too powerful, and your will is not yet strong enough. It's always a wise idea to get the next level of a reanimation spell as soon as possible, be it Raise Corpse, Reanimate Dead, Revenant, etc etc.

    Once you leave the cave out of Helgen, or perhaps even before, you'll want to decide if you want your character to already be a Necromancer, or slowly start learning it. This is simply to just add some depth into your character. Don't bother going in any dungeons yet until you get to Riverwood, and purchase the Raise Dead spell tome. Once you have this, I would also suggest buying Frostbite as well, as Frost spells go well with Necromancy. Though, the type of Destruction spells you use are all up to you. You'll also want to decide what diety you would want to worship, and if you want to go and get their artifact immediatly (if possible) or if you just want to focus on practicing your abilities.

    Do not attempt to take an enemy coven of Necromancers. You want to be the best of the damned, don't let anyone catch whif there is a powerful upstart going around killing other covens, because then they'll come after you in force. Wait until you're higher leveled in Conjuration, like around 35 or 40 so you can create more powerful zombies.

    Eventually, you'll start to grow in power. Perhaps you'll have a few black soul gems filled, and will be able to reanimate more powerful creatures like sabertooths. This is when you want to start taking on things like vampires, and other Necromancy covens, as well as traveling to the College of Winterhold to study more about Conjuration, and any other school of magic that might take your fancy. But wait! Don't just blast through every single quest when you're not even level 50 with your conjuration! You might be a strong Necromancer, but you're no Archmage. Pace yourself. Learn what you can from the old man, wait until your powers are sufficient, then succeed him.

    Eventually, you'll be visited by the Dawnguard, and you'll be sent on a path to choose to become Undead, or to help fight them. Eventually that path, regardless of who you will choose, will lead you to the Soul Cairn, the greatest place to be as a Necromancer (Unless you've made a deal with the Ideal Masters...) Take your time to walk around the Soul Cairn, see what it has to offer. And trust me, it has LOTS to offer. Namely, Black Soul Gems, as well as the ability to conjure Bonemen, Mistmen, and Wrathmen. The Boneman is about as strong as your typical skeleton, a good start for some of the weaker Necromancers, but not very strong at all. The mistman is a floating upper half of the body that casts ice at long range. While weak, their spells are strong. And finally, the Wrathman. Don't even -attempt- to conjure these bad boys until you are at least an expert, preferably a master in conjuration. They are tough, deadly, and mean as hell. I can't tell you how many times these puppies have saved my hide.

    There is of course more, but there is one thing you will want to eventually get. Save up Dragon Souls, six (If I recall correctly), as you'll need them to unlock six words of power, your own Necromancer Dragon (Can't spell his name for the life of me), and of course, your own Necromantic shout: Soul Tear.

    That's right. Your Thuum is so powerful, your will so strong at this point, it will tear the souls away from your enemies and raise them as your puppets. But such a strong shout requires a strong Necromancer. For roleplay's sake, avoid using all three words of this shout until you are a higher level, around 20 or so.

    Finally, you've mastered Necromancy. You have Black Soul Gems spilling out of your pockets, with the souls of Men and Mer screaming to get out. Will you use them? Or will you just listen to their screams as you sleep like some kind of sick lullaby? Who cares? What matters at this point is to continue to fortify your abilities. Any artifact that would amplify your Necromantic abilities. Namely, the Necromancer's amulet. A Necromancy artifact for generations, it significantly boosts your magicka and conjuration, while stunting your health regeneration. But why would that matter? It's not like anyone will get to you past your powerful Undead minions.

    Go to Windhelm at night, and go towards the Hall of the Dead. At a certain level, you will see a body on top of a grave, her wounds deep and horrid, with four people standing around, one being a guard who will task you with finding this murderer. At the end of this, you will get the Necromancer's amulet, and have the ability to buy an amazing house fit for a Necromancer. You'll know what I mean when you complete the quest Blood on the Ice.

    Be warned. This quest can be very glitchy. Be sure to save before you even enter Windhelm as sometimes certain prompts, items, or even people won't spawn.

    Etiquette  and Clothing.

    Roleplaying a Necromancer, whether you are a beginner role-player or veteran, can be a bit difficult if you have never role-played as one before, or role-played as one and never really thought in depth on the mindset of a Necromancer. While not illegal or banned, Skyrim is not exactly the most welcoming place to openly practice Necromancy. There are no laws against raising the dead, but as you can imagine, Nords aren’t exactly the people who want to see their relatives raised by some wizard.)So you can imagine why you wouldn’t want to walk into Whiterun with someone’s grandma in tow. If someone recognizes the zombie you just waltz into a city with as their relative, they will (try) to kill you, and you know the guards won’t give a damn. They might even join in. And I chances are, the Jarl won’t punish anyone for it. Hell, he’d probably execute you if you survived. Think about it: Skyrim isn’t exactly the most welcoming place for normal mages.

    Ever walked past a guard with a high destruction or conjuration level? They taunt you, insult you, and just all around act like jerks. This is why you want to keep a low profile when in town. Don’t wear Necromancer’s Robes or something that screams that you play with the dead, because the guards and every townsperson will be watching you like a hawk, waiting for you to do the TINIEST thing wrong so they can either hang you or throw you in prison and throw away the key. Instead, wear something like mage’s robes, or a monk’s robe. Sure, you may be teased, but you won’t be strung up in the Jarl’s palace for assault if you accidentally bump into someone.

    Really, the only safe place you can practice Necromancy is in the typical dark cave, or crypt, somewhere far off. The College of Winterhold would be a safe place to perform experiments, but how many eyebrows would you raise in the town if you’re seen carrying off a dead body to the College. Not to mention, you’d be putting the college itself at risk. Wouldn’t want the Nords to have a reason to attack, would we?


    Understandably, when you think of Necromancer, you think of a horrible, dank mage with gray hair, pale skin, dark eyes, and plans for total world domination!

    Well, while this is true for the good majority of Necromancers, it’s not true for all. Don’t let stereotypes influence how you role-play your Necromancer. While your art isn’t exactly the most wholesome of acts, you can do good with it, should you choose to. Some Necromancers just want to experiment with the already dead, others feel their powers can be used for good, despite what the common folk may think. Others may just want to feast on the souls of the living, and watch their corpses dance for their amusement. Truly, the sky is the limit with how your Necromancer thinks.

    Of course, how your Necromancer thinks and how others will perceive you are two very different things. As I said before, most people outside the College of Winterhold aren’t fond of Necromancy or its practitioners. You could use the dead to beat down Alduin right in front of the High King and make him beg for mercy before killing him. But, you’d still be branded as a Necromancer, and shunned and most likely hunted for using the dead as a weapon. Even if you do good deeds with your skills, it is still best to not do so in public.

    Necromancy and Worship

    As you can imagine, there are tons of Daedric Princes that would make sense for a Necromancer to worship, and few Daedric Princes (Or deities) that would make little to no sense for a Necromancer to worship. So, for simplicity's sake, I figured just to name the gods that wouldn't make sense for a Necromancer to worship.


    This should definitely go without saying, but maybe there are some ill-informed Necromancers out there who haven’t heard of the accursed Meridia. You see, my lovely dead raisers, Meridia is the Daedric Prince of (Life) Energy, and as you may have seen in her shout out in the loading screen for Skyrim, or her Daedric Quest in either Oblivion and Skyrim, she loathes the Undead, in any form, or those who practice the Necromantic arts. Why worship someone who would have you stop your most epic practice? Why worship someone who damns you for making someone’s cousin’s headless corpse do jazz hands while you walk around your lair? The nerve!

    I would go so far as to say to not even touch her beacon if you see it for a few reasons. For starters, why would she talk to a Necromancer? You control and ARE what she hates most! Why would she speak to you, or even let you touch her beacon? Logically, it wouldn’t make sense. However, perhaps you yourself can make sense as to why she would talk to a Necromancer. I myself cannot think of a reason, but perhaps you can! Say she speaks to you, orders you like the pompous jerk she is to return her beacon to her “Holy” shrine. Well, chances are you get the thought of keeping the beacon to prevent any would be Meridia worshipers from stumbling upon her beacon, and preventing them from ever cleansing her shrine!

    Well, while a good thought, there are a few issues with this… Main one being, well… She’s a Daedric Prince. She can most likely make that thing burn you if she wanted. Not to mention, if one of her followers visits her shrine, and is told of what you have done, who wants the headache of constantly being harassed by zealots trying to get their matron’s precious artifact back? Sure, you could raise a few followers to your service, which would be deliciously ironic and amusing, but eventually, they’ll come in force. You may be Dragonborn, and a powerful Necromancer, but sadly, you aren’t the King of Worms. You haven’t had the time to learn how to raise an army of the dead to deal with them. Even if you did, you’d have more problems than just Meridia’s zealots to deal with…

    Also, as said before, Meridia is a Daedric Prince. Who knows what she could and will conjure up if you touch her beacon? What is more hazardous to your health than having a Daedric Prince pissed off at you? Best to not even touch the thing. There’s just no way it will end well.


    The Father of Manbeasts and Lord of the Hunt. Don’t get me wrong, Hircine is pretty freaking cool. Who wouldn’t want to run around as a werewolf, hunting deer with a freaking GOD?! Well, a Necromancer wouldn’t. Sure, perhaps you could say your Khajiit Necromancer feels strongly about worshiping Hircine. Why though? He has even less to do with Necromancy than Azura! While not your enemy like Meridia, Hircine has no boons or benefits to give Necromancers who worship him. Of course, perhaps for you the fact you are a Khajiit is enough to worship Hircine! More power to you! Just don’t expect any sort of special treatment because of your practice.

    The Divines

    Let’s be honest. As Necromancers, there is NOTHING good about what we do. To your Necromancer, the ends justify the means, but that doesn’t matter to the gods, especially Arkay and Stendarr. Hell, one of the Divines represents the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what you love! Raising and defiling the dead! Even if you do great things, root out evil Daedra cults, save Tamriel from Alduin, you are still a Necromancer, a practitioner of dark arts. The Divines, oddly enough, aren’t too keen on you raising their followers as your puppets. There sadly is no logical way for you to worship the Divines and the Divines smiling upon you. Like with Hircine, you can worship them. Just don’t expect them to like you. But fret not! Take your frustration out on the Vigilants! They attack you, so you steal their souls! Circle of Non-Life! Hurray!


    Like with Hircine, Malakath just has nothing to do with Necromancy. Not to mention, the Orcs are a race of proud, bloodthirsty warriors. Do you think Malakath would look well upon an Orc who hides behind a wall of Undead to do his work for him? No, probably not. I wouldn’t even expect the Orcs to like you, for that matter.

    Raising the Dead and You

    Preparing the Body

    Raising the dead. The moldy bread and chunky butter of Necromancy. Is there anything more beautiful?

    Performing Necromancy is simple, right? Just cast a spell, and watch your adorable little undead kiddie feed on the flesh of those in your path.


    Why make Necromancy just work? Why make it simple? Where’s the fun? Where’s the intimacy? You’re a glorious Necromancer, master of the dead! Take some pride in your work! Prepare the body, perform a ritual before moving on, pray to your god(s)! And add realism to your preparations.

    For starters, especially if you have the Dead Thrall spell, or you want to conduct some experiments on the body, you must preserve it to make it last much longer, and prevent rot as long as possible. A well preserved corpse is a happy corpse!

    Carry around embalming tools commonly found in Nordic Crypts, make a poison, name it Embalming Fluid, put it on your “Embalming tool” (A dagger of some sort for role-play’s sake), and coat that sucker with wonderful, preserving Embalming Fluid. Or even keep the corpse nice and cool, get the Frostbite spell, and give the body a nice bath in some freezing, magic ice.

    You may be asking yourself “Why go so creepily in depth? Why not just raise whatever body you want? What’s the point?” The point, my snide man, is if you plan on using this corpse for the long haul, you don’t want the body to wither and grow weaker faster than it needs to. If you don’t preserve the body well, its skin rots, its muscles decay, and as such its swings are not powerful, its spells are weak, and it smells HORRIBLE. Eventually, if you don’t preserve your body, well, everything decays. There will be no muscle for swinging, no mind to cast spells. All you’ll be left with is a skeleton, and skeletons make HORRIBLE long time pets and guardians, save for the Skeletons of the Soul Cairne.

    The Ritual

    No, I don’t mean the amazing Standing Stone the Ritual! I’ll talk to you about that later!

    The ritual I’m talking about is what you do to prepare raising your next long term or short to zombie pet.

    As far as the Raise Zombie and the like goes, you don’t need to go too far in depth as you would with Dead Thrall, as it isn’t as powerful a spell, but why not take time into your spell? Send a message to others that you are a powerful Necromancer who is NOT to be trifled with.

    Take the body you want to use, and place it down flat on level ground. Zombies aren’t that smart, and what is more embarrassing than raising a zombie and then having it snap its neck because you raised it on a bloody flight of stairs?

    Then, make up your own small little ritual. It could be anything! Placing something like a soul gem on their person, and retrieving it when the body disintegrates. Or maybe placing some manner of herb or alchemy reagent on or near the body. It could be anything! If it’s not meant to be long term, there’s no need to go super in depth with your ritual.

    Now… Say you’re raising someone with your powerful Dead Thrall spell… This powerful spell, undoubtedly, deserves a grand ritual, along with time and preparation.

    You’re going to have your thrall around you for a long time. It will never become destroyed, even if it “dies”. It is in your best interest to prepare it for the long haul. As said above, make sure you keep your body preserved. If your thrall’s body breaks down in the middle of a fight, your main weapon will be worse than useless to you. You’ll have wasted time and energy on a glorified heap of meat. Use embalming tools and frostbite to keep it cool and preserved. I’d also avoid going to warmer areas of Skyrim during the day, though considering it’s Skyrim, just blast your thrall with some ice, and he should be good for a while.

    As for the ritual, considering you are making a permanent thrall bound to you, or perhaps in the case of you conjuration tree completists, two thralls, it will require time, preparation of the body and yourself, and powerful reagents or items of power.

    This ritual could be anything. You could place something considered holy to the god of your choice, or if you know the person intimately, place something personal of theirs that they, even in death, would be drawn to.

    I myself choose to do this: I gather as much nightshade, Void Salts, and Torches as I can. If the thrall is someone I don’t know, or some random stranger, I put nothing personal in their person. I create a circle as best I can with the Void Salts, placing the body smack dab in the middle. I then make a sort of pentagram shape with the Nightshade, only doing the corners myself. Then, I place torches in every corner of the nightshade mini-triangles. A Frost or Lightning Rune spell is then cast beneath the body, lain flat on its back, and a filled Black Soul Gem placed in their body (I never use the Black Star. Way too risky). I then “chant” an incantation, or pray to Molag Bal, as my current highest level Necromancer worships him zealously. Obviously, you can’t really chant or anything in Skyrim. If you’re bored, you can say stuff out loud if you really want to. I just wait one hour to simulate the beginning and end of the chant. Then, I begin casting the Dead Thrall spell, and raise my new slave!

    Of course, eventually the ware and tear will get to your zombie. No matter how well you preserve your zombie, keep it stitched up and cool and filled with fluid,  sometimes you can only do so much until it breaks down. Don’t abuse the mechanics of the game and use Lydia’s corpse for years and years. You can’t always stitch her sword arm back on! So, move on to another victim- I mean corpse and repeat the ceremony!

    Really, just make the ritual personal. There’s no right or wrong way to do a ritual, so long as you make it personal and realistic (Well, as realistic you can be with raising corpses…)

    Also, as a little time saver, you don't need to use a ritual for every time you re-raise your dead thrall. As long as it's the same corpse, no reason to repeat the same ritual over and over! Just slap some embalming fluid in there every now and then and you're good to go!

    +B The Ritual (Standing Stone)

    If you’ve looked at Necromancer builds, you’ll likely have noticed every Necromancer and their mother use the Ritual stone. And they should! It’s a perfect fit for your lifestyle of Necromancy!

    Of course, with the Ritual, it can be very taxing on your body. Think about it. Raising every single body in an instant in a given area and commanding them all to do something at the same time is difficult! If you use the Ritual stone, it should be only in dire situations, your ace in the hole. When your battle is done, and all the corpses you raised are destroyed, you will likely be very exhausted and your power stretched thin. Find a bed, or a safe spot wherever you are exploring, and rest. Eat, drink, meditate, read a book. Just don’t immediately go off fighting a dragon after you raise a small battalion of corpses like it was nothing. You will be tired, so sit down, kick your feet up, and rest. Wait 1-2 hours for every body you raised at the same time, depending on your level in conjuration.

    Vampirism and Dawnguard DLC

    Vampirism would most likely seem to be a must have for every Necromancer. Well, that’s not true. As with many things, it all depends on your Necromancer’s mentality (Or beliefs). Maybe your Necromancer sees Vampires as just another Undead without a master that must be controlled. Why would you want to become what you are lord of? You wouldn’t ask a king to rule as a commoner. But maybe your Necromancer sees the Vampires as an Ascension or evolutionary step for a Necromancer. What Vampire isn’t great with Necromancy?

    The same goes for what side you choose in Dawnguard. You could see them as fiends, who, if they get their way, will wipe out every living thing with a soul on Tamriel. Then what will you raise? Then how will you power your spells? So, join the Dawnguard! Help stem the tide of the Vampires, end their rule and ensure that the dead to not gain mastery over you. Just don’t let them know you are a Necromancer…

    You could also think that it is your right to rule over the Vampires by joining them, and ruling over them as their master, and that every mortal will be a slave to your whims.

    Soul Cairn

    Ahh, the Soul Cairn... One of my favorite planes of Oblivion. Home to the Ideal Masters, it is the only plane of Oblivion not ruled by a Daedric Prince (As far as we know so far, at least). There is very little known about the Soul Cairn, other than it has strong ties to Necromancy.

    Remember that time your magical item was out of juice, so you Soul Trapped Sven with your black soul gem? Well, guess where he ended up? Yup! Right here! The Soul Cairn is home to any soul trapped within Soul Gems, or Necromancers (or any mage, for that matter) that has made a deal with the Ideal Masters to gain immense necromantic powers! Problem is, these deals tend to bite the Necromancer in the butt, sending their souls to the Soul Cairn where they will live forever.

    I really hope you enjoyed my guide to Necromancy! If you have any questions, go ahead and ask! I do apologize for the lack of pictures, couldn't for the life of me figure out how to make them pop up.

  • July 10, 2015

    If I missed anything or got the wrong information in there, let me know! Glad this is my first thread I ever started on these forums

  • July 10, 2015
    Nice job. I have always loved playing A Necromancer, and you nailed it.
  • July 10, 2015

    Thanks so much! Took me a while to research everything and get my facts down.

  • July 10, 2015
    You may have to explain how to start out though. The progression.
  • July 10, 2015

    Good idea! I'll start doing that.

  • July 10, 2015
    Good job CR! This is a very nice first post! It touches base with all things a Starting necromancer should know! :D
  • Member
    July 10, 2015

    Great post! The only thing confusing a little is the part about naming poisons/potions. The game does not have that ability and as far as I know, there are no mods for that. Might want to reword that section. Otherwise, awesome, would keep in mind for my necromancer characters 

  • July 14, 2015

    Can't you name potions/poisons when you make them? Huh. I'll have to double check, I might be wrong XD

  • Member
    July 14, 2015

    You can't. And that sucks