Skyrim Character Build: The Philosopher of Fire (Inspired by the Mystery Babylon Series by William Cooper)
This build is heavily inspired by one of my favorite concepts in the “Conspiracy-verse”, and heavily draws from lore ‘researched’ and compiled by the late William Cooper, author of Behold A Pale Horse and infamous host of “The Hour of The Time” radio broadcast. Although I do not subscribe to his myriad of conspiratorial beliefs, whether we are referring to his Pseudo-Born-Again-Militant-Christian leanings or his belief in the Ancient, ever-reaching Cult of Mystery Babylon (aka The Illuminati) that survives today in the form of The Philosophers of Fire, I think it is incredibly interesting and entertaining.
When I started this idea, I wanted a build I could play “forever” that actually made RP sense as to why the same person could get “in good” with every Hold in Skyrim, plus all the disparate factions, and still be a good story. What if this was the overall goal of the POF, to infiltrate EVERYTHING… similar to the fabled Illuminati?
Race: Dunmer (Resistance to Fire and Ancestor’s Wrath are essential)
- - Destruction : Your main method of dealing damage and showering cleansing fire to the lands of Tamriel.
- - Illusion: Misdirection, manipulation, subterfuge and intrigue are the name of the game.
- - Sneak: Of course, you are only seen when you want to be, and the backstab perks are devastating ways to cleave your mark in the name of Morrowind.
- One Handed: Daggers are your method of up close and personal kills, always in the back, and always in the dark.
- Alchemy: Being a master of poisons, the POF can also brew potent narcotics to disorient his enemies, or salves and potions to keep him alive
- Speech: A silver tongued master of symbols, words, propaganda and financial finagling.
- Alteration: Although the times where you will be seen and confronted are few and far between, a true Philosopher of Fire is skilled in the Transmutation of both flesh and mineral, to reflect the purification of his initiatory training.
Offense: Fire Magic and Daggers/Poison only!
Defense: Stealth, Alteration, Illusion
Standing Stone: Mage (Lvls 1-11), Lover (11-20) Atronach (20+)
Magicka/Health/Stamina Placement: 2/1/0.
Without going too far into detail regarding the actual background of the “real world” research of Cooper into the POF, I will give you a brief rundown, based on his incredible Mystery Babylon series. According to Cooper, The Philosophers of Fire are secret adherents to an Ancient Religion dedicated to Sun Worship and the Luciferian pursuit of knowledge and influence over spiritual and moral works.
Supposedly, the Philosophers of Fire (aka The Brotherhood of the Snake, but for Skyrim purposes I will make that a separate build based on a rival cult) purify enemies in cleansing fire and seek to remake to the world into a one-world-government under the Ancient, first religion…that of the worship of fire and light.
To convert this best to the Skyrim-verse, The Philosophers of Fire are an Ancient Secret Society of Dunmer, seeking to go beyond restoring Morrowind to glory, but to purify Skyrim and Tamriel in general in the cleansing flames of righteousness, and from the ashes, replace the ruling class with a “benevolent dictatorship” headed by their Hidden High Priests and Master.
Cooper's "Initiates Of The Flame" , Inspiration for this build
Lore Prior to Arrest
Ma’al Chizadek had devoted his entire life to this moment.
He was finally ready to unleash the fury of the Astral Fire into Skyrim…cold, stoic land of ice and snow. For centuries the Philosophers of Fire have toiled in secret to bring about the cleansing of the land; every second of life spent in service to the ultimate goal. It is a slow, ardous process and every member of this secret cult has a part to play. Ma’al rose through the ranks of the POF after being recruited as a child for his aptitude with flames and pyromancy. The POF erased his identity, indoctrinated him with the tenets of their ancient faith, and placed him among several courts throughout the known lands as a penniless bard in service of various diplomats and nobles. It was there Ma’al learned the inner workings of politics and intrigue, and he witnessed firsthand how espionage and treachery can be brutally effective, often more so than war or diplomacy.
The Philosophers of Fire carefully and methodically place agents in positions where the potential to sow chaos and discord is high, yet unsuspected. In order to grab a foothold in Skyrim, the POF have strategically allowed Ma’al to get “arrested” alongside Ulric Stormcloak. His mission is simple. Embed himself among the holds and courts across Skyrim, secure the underworld, and incite the revolution until Skyrim falls into Chaos, preparing it for the coming New World Order… all the while remaining undetected by the populace at large.
The best thing about this build is you can do ALL quests and it actually makes sense in terms of roleplay/gameplay. I started immediately with The College to get my Illusion and Destruction up to par, but it's entirely up to you!
Does this sound like a build you would play?
The Philosopher of Fire is a brilliant student and scholar, and to reflect this I went and began my training at Winterhold the second I left Helgen. After building up my Destruction a tad, I then went to Whiterun. A POF is going to leave a scorched Earth in his wake, utilizing Fire and Flames to burn everything around him, relying on Stealth and Backstabbing to make an entrance. Whenever it is possible to burn a large amount of enemies at once, the POF will do so without hesitation. When cornered, a POF will snap and boost his armor, activate Ancestor’s Wrath, and dual-wield daggers
He has no qualms about killing, using people to achieve his goals, and stealing. However, this is never just aberrantly evil, and ONLY OCCURS if it furthers his ultimate goal of Tamriel united under the “benevolent dictatorship” of the Philosophers of Fire. The “Great Work” is all that matters. Non-Combatant women and children are to be left alone and even protected. A POF will kill monsters and bandits indiscriminately, and despises Ice Mages, as they believe Ice is symbolic of oppression and stagnancy. A POF will NEVER use Ice Magic, or a weapon enchanted with ice damage. Because he is not an outright warrior, but more of a mystical provocateur, a POF relies ONLY on daggers and his natural abilities in fire magic.
A POH will acquire several safehouses and places to store loot, although the amassing of wealth is not his greatest goal. He will take whatever books he can get his hands on and store them at his safehouses for later reference. The Thalmor are hated enemies, and a constant thorn in the side of the Philosophers of Fire.
Have fun infiltrating The College and/or The Thieves Guild to turn these factions to your control from the inside out.
As far as equipment goes, any Robes work, especially Shrouded (available w/ Dark Brotherhood) or Mystic Dawn. Weapons are ONLY daggers, usually enchanted with fire and/or Health or Magicka Draining enchantments.