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Event Build: The Freelancer

Tags: #Character Build Illusionist  #Character Build Bard  #Character Build No Crafting  #Rank:Event Legendary  #Event:Artifacts  #Long-Chapper Build  #MM 2016 Winner 
  • March 7, 2016

    Feeling myself at my cheeky, irreverent best, I present to you my submission for Skyrim Character Building’s Artifacts Event, a non-crafting, roleplaying build that takes non-combat skills (after all, she is only an actress!), staves, scrolls, a trapped miner, and the power of Argonian allure to the next level. I present to you...

    1st Sun's Dusk, 4E 201

    Univeristy of Gwylim,
    c/o Four Shields Tavern,
    Dragon Bridge, Skyrim

    My dearest sister Seif-ij,

    It has been too long since we last chewed the root together, our life-branches now grow in such separate directions I sometimes fear they may never intertwine the way they used to. You have ever gone your own way, ever sought the juiciest fruits the Great Tree provides. I would like to change that, to giggle and gossip again like we once did in the University's dormitories, do you still remember those days...?

    So let's meet. Join me in the fascinating land of Skyrim, watch the Burning of King Olaf with me at the Bard's College of Solitude and listen to the skalds recite the Poetic Edda. Who knows, the College may have need of an actress as beautiful and talented as yourself. I have always been jealous of your looks, you know?

    Skyrim truly is as diverting and entertaining a place as you could wish and the men are so...kaj. We could have such fun together! There are also a few good opportunities for submissions to the University - there are so many places where long lost secrets can be found.

    There is one more matter of a sensitive nature. Certain friends of mine have told me Derkeethus is in Darkwater. Once you and he were as symbiotic as the squirrel and the acorn. I know you went your separate ways but I thought you should know he is here.

    Until we next speak, may the wind which blows the bows always lift your spirits. And your tale.




    10th of Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201

    Theater of the Larsius
    Bravil, Cyrodiil  

    My dearest sister Walks-the-Road,

    While we may no longer chew the root together, you can still read my mind. I grow weary of the parts being offered and the Theater of the Larsius leaves much to be desired. Xuth! My tail slams when the Imperials say that it smells like a swamp in Bravil. Black Marsh never reeked so. We do no shit in the swamps of our homeland...

    Beauty? You flatter me. You always had the better horns. Yes, my impact on the stage is still felt to the extent that my namesake is entirely appropriate, but fifteen years performing the same part becomes tedious. There are only so many ways one can clean chambers, polish spears, knead loaves and while I find my work on Lusty Argonian Maid is often very pleasurable, I yearn to do more in life. I yearn to pursue my own aspirations as a writer, to conduct my own interviews, to freelance, to seek adventure in this new land that you have found so compelling.

    And if you say the men are kaj? Well, we shall see what these Skyrim men have to offer. We can then giggle and gossip like little hatchlings again, huddled under the blankets in the darkness of our dormitory. Ah… the university. So many fond memories, stealing the quills from under the instructors’ noses, checking their pockets for loose change, among other things... I was always one for pranks. May the Hist bless Illusion magicks!

    Xuth! I curse again, my apologies for my foul language, dearest sister, but Derkeethus boils my blood in such a way that it makes my tail rise! Darkwater you say? I will cross the border there and give him a piece of my mind for not warming my oven properly. This little squirrel is not to be trifled with. His acorns, as wonderful as they were, will be squeezed in my delicate hand and he will weep. Or, I will forgive him. I always did fancy polishing his spear. I, or we, will then join you, dearest sister, in Solitude for the burning of King Olaf. Plenty of time, my sweet, plenty of time.

    Ha! My dearest sister, if it is one thing I do not need the winds to help me with, it is lifting my tail.



    "Ooh, ooh, what kind of message? A song? A summons? Wait, I know! A death threat written on the back of an Argonian concubine! Those are my favorites.“ –Sheogorath.

    Wabbajack: An artifact of the Daedric Prince of Madness, the Wabbajack is a powerful staff that reflects the madness of Sheogorath with its effects. Destroy your foes with elemental bursts of power, render them into sweetrolls, even showers of gold. Or worse; heal them, change them into frightening Dremora and watch them come for you. It's all so unpredictable, isn't it?

    “Be bound here, Jyrik, murderer, betrayer

    Condemned by your crimes against realm and lord.

    May your name and your deeds be forgotten forever

    And the charm which you bear be sealed by our ward.” – Writ of Sealing

    Staff of Jyrik Gaulderson: From the Mage of the trio of Gaulderson brothers comes this staff. Sealed within the depths of the Ruins of Saarthal, the Staff of Jyrik Gaulderson is one of the unleveled staves of the game that features a lightning bolt effect, in addition to damaging both health and magicka.

    “Legend tells that it's the only artifact capable of containing his immense power.” – Mirabelle Ervine

    Staff of Magnus: Created by the very being that according to myth, drew up the plans for creation, the Staff of Magnus is capable of draining the magicka of other beings. And when that is gone, its appetite for power ever unsated, it will drain their very life force.

    “Let’s be honest here. I don’t always think my decisions through. But you… You’re going places. Maybe a little influence from your old uncle Sanguine could help you adjust your course a bit.” – Sanguine

    Sanguine Rose: From the Daedric Prince of Debauchery comes a staff of surprisingly martial capabilities, summoning a leveled Dremora to fight by your side. An innocent drinking contest turns into a night to remember.

    Race: Argonian, for the roleplaying, giving her boosts in three of the used skills.

    Stats: 2:1:0, Magicka, Health, Stamina, until entire Illusion tree is perked and you have end-game illusion gear, then switch to health.

    Stone: Thief to help with leveling, then Shadow

    Shouts: None. Not a Dragonborn.

    Powers: Agent of Mara, Agent of Dibella, Agent of Subterfuge.

    Blackbooks: Lover's Insight (The Winds of Change), Secret Servant (Untold Legends), Seeker of Shadows (Sallow Regent), Secret of Protection (Filament and Filigree), Mora's Boon (Hidden Twilight). The power from Epistolary Acumen doesn't apply to this build as she doesn't use shouts. I still got the book though and Waking Dreams too.

    A note on Allure, Agent of Dibella, and Lover's Insight. They stack in their respective areas. This, coupled with haggling perks can produce heavy discounts with merchants of the opposite sex, and damage, as a result of stacking Agent of Dibella and Lover's Insight is increased 20% to members of the opposite sex, in keeping with her namesake.

    "Don't forget to keep out of sight, it doesn't count if they catch you red-handed."        - Delvin Mallory

    Sneak is the Freelancer's primary form of defense as she lacks any armor, save guild boots nor does she possess any form of melee attack. Ignore the right side of the tree, she has other ways to deal damage, and climb up the left side as quickly as possible. It is a quick skill to level just by doing quests for the Thieves Guild.

    "Illusion really is the least appreciated of the schools of magic."                                 - Drevis Neloren

    Barring staves, scrolls, and Derkeethus, Illusion is the Freelancer's primary way to deal damage in the form of powerful spells designed to manipulate minds and remain in the shadows. She can calm crowds, make them flee, or make them battle to the death. In addition, she can bolster the strength of Derkeethus, make him believe that he is truly a great warrior instead of a simple ranger/miner. The entire tree is perked, especially since this is a no-crafting build.

    "My specialty is pickpocketing. All I need is a rich mark, a moon-lit sky and I'm in my element." - Vipir the Fleet

    Pickpocket serves as both a way for the Freelancer to make some extra coin and as a way to deal damage through the use of found poisons and the Poisoned Perk. Perfect Touch was avoided. While the Freelancer was sure talented in her prior work, even she doubts her ability to manipulate someone enough that she can remove their very armor while they're awake. Misdirection was taken, however.

    "You ready for some good old-fashioned burglary?" - Vex

    Developing the Lockpicking tree will allow the Freelancer to perform her heists and burglary jobs much easier. In addition, being handy with a lockpick and a shiv could also prove profitable when she decides to explore the ruins that dot Skyrim's landscape.

    "I teach poetry, writing, history, and the finer points of court life" - Giraud Germane

    The Freelancer doesn't just have Illusion magic at her disposal when she wishes to get people to do what she wants. Through the power of haggling, persuasion, and allure, she conveys a charming elegance with her refined Speech that men find very attractive.

    Unperked skills: Archery (for positioning targets only) and Restoration until enough potions are found. Other skills may go up by accident. Enchanting goes up just by recharging your primary weapon: staves.

    Equipment: In earlier levels, it is easy to acquire novice-apprentice level Robes of Illusion from the College of Winterhold. For feet and hands, the Shrouded boots and the Shrouded hand wraps or Thieves Guild gauntlets from their respective guilds are relatively easy to obtain at early levels (especially if you join the Dark Brotherhood) and I stayed with them regardless of what outfit she was wearing. For traveling and general questing outside of city walls, I used leveled Illusion robes. Afterall, she is an illusionist and must maintain appearence! Within city walls, I chose a different option in line with her roleplay. Something a bit more... seductive. I swapped her Illusion Robes for Tavern Clothes. Alva, the vampire from Morthal wears these and is usually killed when you complete the quest Laid to Rest. This was her attire for Thieves Guild radiant jobs once I had the Tavern Clothes. How much easier it is to pickpocket the unwary, or steal an item from their home when they are um... distracted.

    As for jewelry and head gear, a ring with any helpful enchantment (magicka is always good or illusion), a necklace of resistance or deft hands, and a hood of your choice until you can find a circlet of Illusion. If shops did not have the gear I wanted, I frequently checked npcs. You'd be surprised how many npcs carry enchanted gear and with only a perk or two in pickpocket and sneak, your chances of getting them are pretty good. You can use this gear or the equivalent until you reach higher levels, selling them off to fences once you're done with them. 

    Freelancer: A person who works on a contract basis for a variety of companies, as opposed to working as an employee for a single company. Freelancers are often considered to be self-employed, and have the freedom to pick and choose their projects and companies they would like to be associated with. A common profession for freelancing is writing; a writer then has the ability to submit their work to many different places, without being tied to any one company in particular. Seif-ij's quest-lines certainly uphold this definition and her status as such allows her to freely mingle with several factions, giving this build a wealth of content to play-through, both at low levels and high levels.

    Main Quest - To Dragon Rising. Only to have dragons in the air.

    The Thieves Guild - Main Quest, Rebuilding the Guild, Vekel the Man's Toying with the Dead, Litanie of Larceny, and No Stone Unturned.

    College of Winterhold - Main quest at least up to the Staff of Magnus, Urag's book quests, Shalidor's Insights, Illusion Ritual spell.

    Bard's College - Tending the Flames, Finn's Lute, Pantea's Flute, and Rjorn's Drum.

    The Dark Brotherhood - This faction presented itself with several options. All result in similar gear being obtained, however, killing Astrid and Destroying the Dark Brotherhood is rather difficult option for a non-combat Illusion mage. Joining the Dark Brotherhood, keeping the gear given to you, and then choosing to either ignore the questline or pursue the questline is another viable option.

    Dragonborn dlc - Quests for the Freelancer include the Black book quests, Deathbrand armor, Retrieving the bonemold recipe, and First Edition, which involves recovering a long, lost first edition folio of the Lusty Argonian Maid.

    Dawnguard dlc - The Main quest through Touching the Sky; paying particular attention to The Impatience of a Saint and Ancient Falmer Tomes.

    Daedric Quests - The Mind of Madness, A Night to Remember, Discerning the Transmundane.

    Side Quests - Heart of Dibella, Blood on the Ice, No one Escapes Cidna Mine, A scroll for Anska, Lost Legends, Laid to Rest. Any quest that involves recovering a book, investigating legends from a book, delivering a book, or conducting an investigation were wonderful to do.

    There are no spears in Skyrim, so when I thought about this build, I decided to use the item that bore most resemblance to a spear. The staff. Also, it was also not lost on me that scrolls also had a certain shape to them and their use in combat would be completely appropriate for spirit of this build. In addition, for me, gameplay had to feel very organic and easy to manage for me to have the most fun.

    The combination of Illusion magic, sneak, pickpocket, staves, and scrolls proved to be a winner. Once I had my set group of staves, my inventory was freed up and my list of favorites was actually rather small. I had my leveled set of Illusion spells; usually ones that either calmed or enraged an opponent. I pit groups against each other, and many times Derk and I only had to deal with the last man standing. Or, we opted to not use staves and scrolls and I pacified or frenzied my way out of tombs.

    The early levels are the most difficult, as you are scrounging around for staves and scrolls, you don't have Derk yet, and because of the sheer unpredictability of the Wabbajack, your first staff.

    Wabbajack: The Wabbajack has effects that on most creatures, npcs, and humanoids can vary. You can transform them into chickens, deal random elemental damage that is quite substantial and extremely powerful at early levels. You can even turn a foe into a shower of gold or a sweetroll. However, the weapon also has several negative effects, including completely healing your target and changing them into a Dremora. Except for dragons. For dragons, the Wabbajack is limited to doling out random elemental damage and it is here, that in my opinion, where the weapon shines, as it has a HUGE range and a pretty decent charge rate. Dual-wield this with the Staff of Jyrik Gaulderson, and you have a dragon killing machine.

    Staff of Jyrik Gaulderson: With Tolfdir and a follower's help, Under Saarthal can be completed rather early in your Skyrim experience, giving you a staff that can do 25 points of lighting damage in the form of a lightning bolt. But what is really great is the 50 points magicka damage, and... they stack. In addition, to dual-wielding with the Wabbajack to make short work of dragons, wielding the Staff of Jyrik Gaulderson with another lightning-based staff, say Storm Atronach, can make short work of Mages and Constructs.

    Staff of Magnus: Another excellent staff that does damage to both magicka and later health. It has a similar mechanic to the novice flame, frostbite, and sparks spells, but with a much longer range, making this staff another great staff for dragons and other magic-based creatures.

    Sanguine Rose: I cover this staff last of the artifacts because it is the leveled staff of the group. Firing the staff summons a Dremora to fight for you for 60 seconds. Completing this quest at level one gives you a l Dremora Churl for the rest of the game. Waiting until past level 24 will yield a much stronger Dremora Kynreeve, which has the same set of perks as the later-level Dremora, but only slightly less health. It is a melee Dremora that usually wields a flaming daedric greatsword. This made the Sanguine Rose my go to staff for undead and any creature weak to fire. I paired this staff with the Staff of Jyrik Gaulderson to make short work of Seekers and Lurkers.

    Other Staves: Staff of the Healing Hand, Staves of flame, frost, and Storm Atronach (made at the Atronach forge at the Midden or pickpocketed), and Destruction staves.

    Scrolls: Support casting. Allowed me to cast other destruction spells, especially cloaks and runes. Cloaks, paired with high sneak, or invisibility , higher level Illusion spells in a pinch, and to heal my follower faster than the staff of healing allowed me to.

    Derkeethus: A former lover that Seif-ij reconnects with. The miscellaneous quest "Extracting an Argonian" begins by asking the residents of Darkwater Crossing his whereabouts. He is located in a Falmer and Chaurus infested series of caves and tunnels, Darkwater Pass, which can make him somewhat difficult to free in early levels. I used TaeRae's Improved Derkeethus, but Vanilla Derkeethus works as well. His endgame gear, the Deathbrand armor, is unavailable until the quest triggers at level 36. Until then, use Thieve's Guild gear and then Linwe's gear, which boosts his stamina, sneak, and his preferred combat skills (one-handed & archery). They are relatively easy to obtain, are great for him until Deathbrand's quest triggers. The Nightingale gear and Chillrend are leveled, and since the build only goes to level 43, Derk will not benefit from the weapons' highest level, but with Illusion's Call to Arms, the difference is negligible.

    Derkeethus is skilled in Light armor, one-handed, archery, and block. He hits his cap at level 30. I used him mostly to lure enemies away from the Freelancer. Casting Call to Arms before a quest added significantly to his strength as a follower. One tactic I employed was while Derk was engaging an enemy, the Freelancer was looting chests, unseen. Just teasing. Seriously, a tactic was to cast a cloak scroll and then invisibility and then go stand next to the enemy. I would also tell Derk to wait while I went off ahead, pick pocketed their weapons, and then have him follow me again.

    The selection of quests and that this character is based off the Lusty Argonian Maid, leaves much room for roleplaying.

    This is not a warrior, nor is she some destined heroine. She only wielded a weapon to position targets for Illusion magic or to lure them into traps. When things became intense, she relied on her staves, her scrolls, and Derk. Her lack of armor forced her to utilize sneak to stay hidden. If she was caught, she usually died within one to two blows.

    Because of the reliance on Sneak and Illusion, something I've never explored in game before, I was able to, for the first time treat Thieves Guild quests as traditional heists and not necessarily have to kill anything to accomplish her goals. That is why I presented the options in the Dark Brotherhood questline. A lighter path for the Freelancer would be to Destroy the Dark Brotherhood, or ignore it all together, whereas the darker side would do it.

    When not practicing her Thieving skills, she seems to everyone like a normal person, dressed in her tavern clothes, playing the flute (courtesy of thePuppeteer mod and yes, the flute). She is a regular at the local inns, frequently asking the innkeepers for the latest gossip, their rumors leading her and Derk to further adventures.

    And what of Derk? When all is said and done, she marries him and they settle in happy comfort of Proudspire Manor where she takes on a new line of work. She was never mad at him in the first place. You can read about what became of her in the story Chasing Death by the Lorc of Flowers and myself. Oh those acorns! A happy Squirrel indeed, letting the winds lift her tale...

    This was my first build (released in 2016) and she's been due for a revamp for a while now. Just in time for Christmas, 2017. I feel like she is what she deserves to be and I'd like to thank a few people. First Phil, for his lovely letter from Walks-the-Road. It really brought the relationship between the two sisters to life. Also, the team at the Workshop, especially Dragonborn, who have been wonderful with their feedback. I'm sure I still got stuff wrong. And finally to the Lorc of Flowers, Teineeva, and Sotek, whose own builds, with their heavy roleplaying. were a source of inspiration to me. The goal was to merge a roleplaying profile with a character build. I hope I was successful. 




  • Member
    March 7, 2016

    Awesome work Lis, love the presentation. But, what else could I expect from the author of Straag Rod

  • Member
    March 7, 2016

    Believe me when I say you'll be fine. This being your first build leagues above anything I could concocted. (so many subtleties *shivers*)   

  • Member
    March 7, 2016

    A fantastic build! An enjoyable read from beginning to the end!

  • Member
    March 7, 2016

    I challenge anyone to read this and not grin from ear to ear. From the first to the last word you are not just presenting a build but bringing a character to life. The presentation is simply stunning, the concept is wonderful and the writing is mesmeric. This is an absolutely compelling build Lissette, well done.

  • March 7, 2016

    Thank you so much. 

    Was sweating bullets with this. Reminded me of my damn Master's Thesis! Formatting nightmare! 

  • March 7, 2016

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Great job Lissette. I hope you produce more builds because you have a serious talent for this. 

  • Member
    March 8, 2016

    Hear, hear! Or is it here, here?

  • Member
    March 8, 2016

    You've presented this really well Lissette. I'm not surprised though to be honest. I've seen your work from when you first came to the site last April. You've always invested time. This piece is no exception. You've really dome yourself proud here.

  • Member
    March 8, 2016

    And with just a few hours before the event ends. Talk about a close shave.

    Here's to more!