The Skooma Cat
Disclaimer: Like all of my builds, I recommend using the Unofficial Skyrim Patch, as the build is designed around the fixes of this patch.
Additionally, I attempt to make all of my builds viable for Legendary difficulty, so if parts of the build feel overpowered to your taste, feel free to omit as you see fit.
: Heavy Armor > Illusion > Alchemy > Smithing > Enchanting > Pickpocket
: 1 Magicka
: 3 Health
: 1 Stamina
: Gloves of the Pugilist (to disenchant onto ring and gauntlets), Heavy Armor/Necklace enchanted with Fortify Illusion, lots and lots of Skooma (mods recommended here for maximum roleplay).
: Unrelenting Force, Disarm, Become Ethereal, Whirlwind Sprint, Marked for Death, Slow Time, Dragonrend
: Start with Warrior, then choose between Atronach, Lord, Lady, Shadow, or Steed.
: Thieves Guild
: Chaotic Neutral
'You do know how to fall, boy?' called out a young Khajiiti, but a few years older than Eslaf, thin but muscular, graceful in his slightest movements. 'If you don't, you should just climb down here and take what's coming to you. It's idiotic to break your neck, when we'd just give you some bruises and send you on your way.'
'Of course I know how to fall,' Eslaf called back, but he didn't. He just thought the trick of falling was to have nothing underneath you, and let nature take its course. But fifty feet up, when you're looking down, is enough to give anyone pause.
'I'm sorry to doubt your abilities, Master Thief,' said the Khajiiti, grinning. 'Obviously you know to fall feet first with your body straight but loose to avoid cracking like an egg. It seems you are destined to escape us.'
Eslaf wisely followed the Khajiiti's hints, and leapt into the river, falling without much grace but without hurting himself. In the years that followed, he had to make several more drops from even greater heights, usually after a theft, sometimes without water beneath him, and he improved the basic technique.
~ Reven, Thief
Born in the desert sands of Anequina, The Skooma Cat
is a devout follower of the teachings of the Daedric prince of madness Sheogorath, desiring little more than spreading debauchery and chaos wherever they go. Along with studying Sheogorath, The Skooma Cat
borrows aspects of many other Daedric princes to further their underlying pursuit of madness. In particular, The Skooma Cat
borrows the indulgence in Sanguine, the manipulative nature in Mephala, the disregard for welfare in pursuit of change in Boethiah, and pursues the teachings of Nocturnal to best become an unseen, and therefore impossible to predict, force of madness as much as they are a living conduit of madness.
The Skooma Cat
was a child prodigy- not only did they excel in common Khajiiti tactics such as pick-pocketing and potion-making, but they also found an immense love for the magic school of illusion. The Skooma Cat
would spend hours every day crafting new illusions and turning invisible to prank their family and friends, much to their chagrin. Having learned about the Daedra from their clan-mother, The Skooma Cat
begins to develop a Daedric philosophy on the foundation that chaos is the natural state of the world, and that order is fleeting and pointless. This is supplemented by their grandmother's constant yarns of the day Elsweyr seceded from the empire, proving in The Skooma Cat's
mind that regime is impermanent and that the individual comes first. Therefore, The Skooma Cat
favors personal independence and freedom over structure and peace, and following this philosophy, they inevitably one day leave their clan in northern Anequina to travel the world, first merely preaching about the wisdom of Sheogorath before eventually succumbing to his teachings, constantly indulging in fights, skooma and alcohol, and other particularly indulgent activities.
While traveling towards Skyrim to share their teachings with the embattled Nords, The Skooma Cat
is arrested on the Skyrim border with Cyrodiil for a countless list of broken laws. Upon realizing they are the Dragonborn, The Skooma Cat
decides to take immediate advantage of their newfound gift to spread more insanity and chaos wherever they go, emboldening their powers. Not particularly concerned with saving the world, The Skooma Cat
is happy to take their time pursuing the dragon threat in Skyrim, though as their powers grow, The Skooma Cat's
desire for chaos transforms into a desire for being the root of all chaos, and as such the dragons' presence threatens their rightful place in the world. Alduin must be stopped, not so that order can be restored to Skyrim, but so that all order can be disrupted through The Skooma Cat's
direct control. Whether this desire to be the center of events is the direct influence of Sheogorath or other Daedric princes, or simply a cat who's had one too many skooma, The Skooma Cat's
desire for change, disorder, and debauchery is constant, if not growing all the time.
The Build - Skills
We fight dirty. If an enemy is facing us, we might consider our options, and even slip away if his sword looks too big. If his back is to us, however, I personally favor knocking him down, and then jumping on his neck where the bones snap with a gratifying crunch. Of course, it is up to you and your personal style.
Primary Skills and Perks
: Heavy Armor (Fists of Steel, Conditioning, Tower of Strength), Alchemy (Poisoner, Benefactor, Physician), Illusion (Quiet Casting, Dual Casting, Animage, Kindred Mage, Master of the Mind).
Secondary Skills and Perks
: Enchanting (Insightful Enchanter), Smithing (Dwarven, Orcish, Ebony, and Daedric), Pickpocket (Poisoned, Misdirection, Perfect Touch)
An unarmed brawler type build that attempts to take advantage of other natural bonuses of the Khajiit- namely their early bonuses to Alchemy
, replacing engagement at range with weakening enemies via poisoning them before a brawl (and later weakening their combat capabilities by stealing their weapons). The Illusion
spell Muffle and Invisibility potions will allow you early game to start off fights with sneak criticals, but eventually Poisoner in Alchemy
and Poisoned in Pickpocket
will allow you to start placing quality poisons on people before engaging them in a brawl, and Benefactor in Alchemy
will allows you to craft better invisibility potions to help as well (in addition to better fortify X potions to boost your damage, healing, and spell effectiveness). Illusion
also helps here with effects like Calm, Fear, and Frenzy for the purposes of group combat where poisoning may not be as effective, and eventually gives access to the Invisibility spell, which combined with Muffle will make the player undetectable despite being clad in heavy armor.
Of course both Heavy Armor
are essentials here, with the goal being to use Fists of Steel in Heavy Armor
with heavy gauntlets at relatively early levels while also providing extra protection for the offensive nature of this build. Enchanting
is necessary to maximize the Fortify Unarmed enchantment (don't forget about disenchanting Gloves of the Pugilist for this) on gauntlets and your ring. For the headpiece, necklace, and chestpiece, I recommend Fortify Illusion to bring the spell costs down by around 50%-75% For shoes, it's really up to you, but for convenience I always pick Fortify Carry Weight (to help carry all of your potions and poisons). Stamina Regen or Fortify Stamina would also make sense if you wish to power attack more often.
The Build - Spells
Too much magic can be dangerous. M'aiq one had two spells and burned his sweetroll.
~ M'aiq the Liar
We only care about one school of magic, and that is Illusion
. Don't worry so much about Rally or Fear spells- they may come in handy every now and then, but they're not what we're moving into this school for. Here's what you'll really want:
: Fury(Novice) -> Frenzy(Adept) -> Mayhem*(Master) - Creatures and people up to level 6/14/25 will attack anyone nearby for 30/60/60 seconds.
: Calm(Apprentice) -> Pacify(Expert) -> Harmony*(Master) - Creatures and people up to level 9/20/25 won't fight for 30/60/60 seconds.
- No noise from armor for 3 minutes.
- Invisible for 30 seconds; breaks by most actions.
*Note that these Master Illusion spells have a very large radius (250 ft) and can be used right as you enter a dungeon to affect almost everything in it.
Remember that Dual Casting any Frenzy spell (except Mayhem) multiplies the max level it affects by 2.2 (rounded down). So a dual cast Fury spell without other perks will affect anything up to level 13 (6 x 2.2). Also keep in mind you can raise the effective level of these spells through Illusion
perks like Animage (+8 for animals) and Kindred Mage (+10 for people), and another +12 to both for the Rage perk. These bonuses are applied before
the multiplication from dual casting occurs, so any animal up to level 74 and any human up to level 79 will be Frenzy-able (using Frenzy) with these perks and dual casting, any any undead or machine up to level 59 if Master of the Mind is taken. Mayhem doesn't benefit from dual casting but has a much larger radius, so you might as well cast it as you enter a dungeon. You can also brew Fortify Illusion potions to raise the level caps. Dual casting Invisibility or Muffle will increase their duration by 2.2 as well (6 minutes and 36 seconds for Muffle, 1 minute and 6 seconds for Invisibility), and Fortify Illusion potions will also increase the duration of these spells. Note that dual casting also increases spell costs by 2.8. We will go over more on how to mitigate some of these very high spell costs in the Leveling
section. The calm spells are more helpful when you don't have two or more targets to manipulate- you can actually cast calm on a target, sneak behind them, punch them (or pickpocket them- take their weapon or put a paralysis poison on them), then recast calm and repeat until they die. This method is especially helpful on Legendary difficulty early on. Like Mayhem, Harmony has a much larger area of effect, so it's a possible alternative to mayhem if you don't wish to fight anything in a dungeon.
The Build - Gear
"Cherim does not understand the point of plate mail," said Cherim. "It is hot, for one, like being both burned and buried alive. Cherim wore it at the insistence of our Nord advisors during the Battle of Zelinin, and Cherim couldn't even turn to see what my fellow Khajiit were doing. Cherim did some sketches for a tapestry of the Battle of Zelinin, but Cherim finds that to make it realistic, the figures came out very mechanical, like iron golems or dwemer centurions. Knowing our Khajiti commanders, Cherim would not be surprised if giving up the heavy plate was more aesthetic than practical."
~Cherim, Cherim's Heart of Anequina
, recorded by Livillius Perus
: Potions and Poisons (and Skooma), Heavy Armor (gauntlets and ring with Fortify Unarmed; head, chest, and necklace with Fortify Illusion; boots are your discretion).
Consider Daedric artifacts like Ebony Mail and The Wabbajack as well.
Get some Skooma- this is the Skooma Cat
after all, and they should be incredibly addicted to the stuff. In fact, while you're being so indulgent, you should remember that other people would love to partake in the mayhem. Brew lots of fun poisons!
Frenzy, Paralysis, Lingering Damage Health, Slow, or whatever else you can think of, and pickpocket them at the beginning of any fight onto the most annoying foe. Paralysis can be most easily brewed by combining Canis Root (found all over The Rift and Hjaalmarch) and Swamp Fungal Pod (also found in Hjaalmarch). If you have trouble pickpocketing the Paralysis poison onto people, you can consider combining Swamp Fungal Pod with Imp Stool (found in caves) to create a Paralysis poison that also restores health, which makes it much easier to pickpocket onto people (and the restore health is inconsequential at the beginning of a fight anyway).
As for yourself, you'll want to brew plenty of health potions (especially on higher difficulties). My recommendation is to brew a potion of Fortify Health + Restore Health, which is done insanely easily by combining Blue Mountain Flower and Wheat. Both are conveniently easy to find in Whiterun hold, particularly in and around the city of Whiterun itself. Wheat is also very abundant in the farms south of Windhelm and in the town of Rorikstead, and lots of Blue Mountain Flower can be found near The Lady Stone in Falkreath hold, at the top of Lost Valley Redoubt in The Reach, and in droves along the main West-East road in Whiterun hold. You'll also want some potions of Resist Fire and Resist Frost, so grab lots of Snowberries (found in The Pale) and combine them with Purple Mountain Flowers (found along all the major roads) for Frost, and Dragon's Tongue (found in droves in Eastmarch) for Fire. Snowberries can also be combined with the aforementioned Swamp Fungal Pods for Resist Shock, which will also occasionally come in handy.
As this is an unarmed build, you should get the Gloves of the Pugilist
to disenchant, so that you can fortify your heavy gauntlets and ring with unarmed damage (stacks with Fists of Steel and Khajiit Claws). Additionally, aim towards enchanting your headpiece, necklace, and chestpiece with Fortify Illusion, as described before. I also highly recommend enchanting an extra set of headpiece, gauntlets, necklace, and ring with Fortify Alchemy to make your potions and poisons even better. You may also consider doing the same for Fortify Smithing (chestpiece instead of headpiece) if you ever intend on your Skooma Cat
to not wear a helmet (or perhaps where an Aetherium crown with the Lord Stone?) and still achieve maximum armor protection, but it is completely unnecessary. You'll want to go for Daedric Gauntlets by endgame for the base unarmed damage, but the rest of you armor set is completely up to you. Note that a good chunk of the Heavy Armor perks require that you wear all four Heavy Armor pieces, so if you want to forgo some of that armor, you can spend points elsewhere.
Finally, one last component of the build I highly recommend considering is the Ebony Mail
. The extra 5 points of poison damage per second is incredibly helpful in long fights, and it automatically muffles you so you don't have to cast muffle once you find it, all on top of being one of the best Heavy Armor pieces in the game. Honestly, it complements this build so well and looks cool at that. If you do choose to use it, I recommend taking Arcane Blacksmithing to improve it, but otherwise you can skip that perk with no issues (you can take Arcane Blacksmithing in lieu of another rank of Juggernaut, as it's not very hard to achieve max armor rating with Heavy Armor
). The Wabbajack
is also a good emergency weapon that completely fits the chaotic nature of this build, but it's up to you exactly whether or not you consider it to be cheating within an Unarmed build.
The Build - Shouts, Stones, and Leveling
The ancient Khajiit heard the great roar of Alkosh the Great Cat King of Time and raced to his Voice. In three days' time they crossed the whole of Tamriel, resting not even for the moonsugar, for such was the speed of Khajiiti then.
They joined with the pride of Alkosh and were his strongest warriors. Lorkhaj, however, chose to give his roar to the Ra'Wulfharth to spite the Khajiiti warriors, for he was jealous of their devotion to Alkosh.
Seeing the ferocity of the Khajiiti warriors, Ra'Wulfharth could not bring himself to put them to death. Using the roar that Lorkhaj had given him, he spoke to Masser and Secunda, to move to their fullness in the sky. The Khajiiti warriors became Senche, but Lorkhaj stripped from them all reason.
~Sonia Vette, The Tale of Dro'Zira
: Unrelenting Force, Disarm, Become Ethereal, Whirlwind Sprint, Marked for Death, Slow Time, Dragonrend.
: Warrior -> Atronach, or several other viable options.
: H -> M -> H -> S -> H and repeat.
By level 51 this will be 200 Magicka
, 400 Health
, 200 Stamina
Shouts are very helpful in this build for crowd control and damage. Namely, you should consider Become Ethereal
(for protection), Whirlwind Sprint
(to close distances), Marked for Death
(for dragons especially), Unrelenting Force
(for crowd control), or Slow Time
(for a combination of offensive and defensive uses), though almost any shouts you choose should be beneficial- do avoid Elemental Fury
as it does not affect fists unless you store a torch in your left hand, and we're not doing that. Slow Time
also benefits from Fortify Alteration potions, in that it increases the duration of the shout, so do consider that one even if you don't get all the ranks. Dragonrend
is also recommended early since this build purposely avoids any form of ranged combat to catch a Dragon's attention, so be sure to do the main quest up to that point. Personally, I use Disarm
a lot to turn more of my fights into a battle of fists, and Marked For Death
on particularly tough opponents, but all of these shouts have their uses.
Standing Stones are also fairly open to you- the Atronach Stone
is recommended for most of the playthrough since Illusion
can be fortified through enchanting, and this build really only relies on the Illusion
school of magic and no others, making reduced regen less of a downside, while also giving you great defensive capabilities at close range. The +50 Magicka will also go a long way to helping you dual cast some of the Illusion
spells central to the build. Early on though, taking the Warrior Stone
is a better choice, as being able to level Smithing
and Heavy Armor
quickly allows you to maximize the effects of Fists of Steel (by crafting better armor before it appears in game and by taking the Fists of Steel perk early). For alternatives to the Atronach Stone
, the Lord Stone
is a good defensive replacement (increases armor rating by 25 and adds 25% magic resist) and a solid supplement to the build if you choose to wear the Aetheium Crown later. Lady Stone
is a good choice for vampires (extra health and stamina regen to offset sunlight issues), Shadow Stone
gives you early access to a good Invisibility spell, and Steed Stone
may help you mitigate the speed and stealth downsides of Heavy Armor
, plus giving you extra carry weight for potions and poisons.
When leveling, keep in mind you'll want to eventually dual cast Invisibility to stay invisible for 66 seconds. With the Expert Illusion perk, and having Illusion at 100, this will cost 276 Magicka. If you want you can take a few levels out of Health for Magicka, but there are easier alternatives. Even one 20% Fortify Illusion enchantment brings this down to 221, and at 100% Fortify Illusion the cost is eliminated entirely (though this can only be achieved by enchanting a ring with Fortify Illusion, and you're much better off putting Fortify Unarmed on your ring). Following what I said earlier about enchantments, you should enchant your chest, head, and necklace with Fortify Illusion (if you're using Fortify Enchanting potions it shouldn't be hard to get these to around 15-20% each) so that the spell cost is brought down to a measly 111 (at 60% cost reduction) at level 100 Illusion. Remember you can take the Atronach Stone
and cap your Magicka at 250
if you need it. You'll also want to be able to cast the Master Illusion spell Mayhem, which, with the other relevant Illusion perks, will Frenzy most things in any dungeon if you cast it right as you enter. The spells costs just under 300 magicka with Master Illusionist- with 60% cost reduction, it becomes just 120. All of that aside, you want to emphasize health to stay in the fight and stamina to launch unarmed power attacks.
A simple cycle of Health
is easy enough to follow.
If you forget where you are in this cycle:
at any level ending in 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 1.
in any level ending in 5 or 0.
in any level ending in 3 or 8.
Or just level them at your discretion, but overall make sure you prioritize Health, and consider prioritizing Magicka over Stamina if you don't intend to use Fortify Illusion enchantments or the Atronach Stone
Ha! I do love it when the mortals know they're being manipulated. Makes things infinitely more interesting.
~ Sheogorath, Daedric Prince of Madness
: Chaotic Neutral (or possibly Chaotic Good/Evil, really it's about chaos here).
Daedric Prince Quests to Complete
: Sheogorath, Sanguine, Nocturnal (Thieves Guild), Boethiah, Mephala.
: Thieves Guild.
: Neither are necessary but dabbling in either makes sense- Vampire more so than Werewolf.
Being a student of the Daedra, you'll want to complete many Daedric quests, specifically the ones mentioned above. The Wabbajack
from Sheogorath's quest is also particularly flavorful with this build should you choose to use it now and then, and the Ebony Mail
from Boethiah's quest is a Heavy Armor
piece that poisons enemies and Muffles you (it may occasionally make pickpocketing in close range more difficult, but it can be swapped for in the middle of a brawl for extra damage or to assist on approaching people without having to cast Muffle).
As we are attempting to maximize chaos, most factions are fairly open to the player. Thieves Guild
pairs well with the selfish nature of the build as well as the skills focused on, and is arguably the best at creating chaos. Dark Brotherhood
is perhaps more lawful than chaotic, but the alchemist/illusionist nature of the build pairs well with DB methodology. The Companions
are not as complimentary to the build, particularly since the character would much rather punch someone to death than eat them as a werewolf, however the beauty of any selfish/chaotic roleplay is their nature of spontaneity- why not join a society of werewolves and become one yourself, just to see what it's like? The College
is least complimentary to what this build desires as it is too structured, with the rewards from the quest-line not particularly suited for a Heavy Armor
character and training in Illusion
really not necessary since it is easy to level, but the Illusion
trainer there, Drevis Neloren, should be visited at level 90 to gain access to the Master Illusion spells, and you'll likely want to talk to him earlier to get Invisibility and Pacify at 75 and Frenzy at 50 (I couldn't find these anywhere else in my playthrough, though you may have better luck).
The Civil War
can be sided either way or ignored entirely- ideally in the way the player perceives as being the most directly beneficial to themselves (political considerations should be thrown out the window). Vampirism if contracted should arguably be kept, as it is both mechanically complimentary to many aspects of the build (in particular it enhances your sneaking capability and makes Illusion 25% more effective) and also compliments the power seeking nature of it- similarly the character might likely side with the Volkihar vampires as a consequence in Dawnguard
(if you do, there is a ring that grants +100 Health and +20 Fortify Unarmed that you can attain, so keep that in mind). That said, if you've got a cure disease potion on you, don't be afraid to use it to cure Vampirism if it's something you don't personally want.
Finally, consider hording Skooma by the truckload or just consuming any of it that you happen to come across- any mod that adds drug effects to Skooma is recommended but not necessary here. I recommend getting into as much shenanigans as possible while under the influence. Honestly, just have fun going around punching the daylights out of people, Frenzying your enemies, poisoning people, stealing their weapons and clothes... and your choices should manifest naturally.