"The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim": Three Simple Character Builds
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Overview
Launched on Nov 11th, 2011, The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim was the long-awaited follow-up to Oblivion, and possibly the most exciting installment to date of the legendary Elder Scrolls series.
, in a nutshell, is an open-world RPG set in a rich fantasy world on the continent of Tamriel. The player assumes the role of a prisoner who is on their way to be executed. When a dragon attacks, the commotion allows him or her to escape. It is up to the player character, who is as it turns out the last Dragonborn (a powerful warrior anointed by the gods), to hunt down and destroy the returning dragons. Skyrim
Beyond the main questline, players can enjoy numerous side quests, dungeons, loot, and fully realized cities and wilderness as well as the thrill of hunting down dragons to learn dragon shouts which will allow the player to slow time, teleport and even breath fire. All told the game is expected to have hundreds of hours of gameplay and almost endless replayability, without even considering the mods and DLCs.
Skyrim's Character Development System
The skill, stat, and leveling system of all prior Elder Scrolls games have been largely untouched. However, this time around Bethesda has decided to take it a new direction. Gone are the days of the bizarre and atmosphere breaking leveling system found in Oblivion, where players would often avoid leveling their main skills in order to keep monsters from leveling up with the player. Instead, Skyrim features a more intuitive leveling of both the player character and the monsters and NPCs found in the world.
One major simplification of the system is that all the core stats of the main character have been condensed down to three from the eight stat categories found in Oblivion and previous Elder Scrolls games. The three main stats governing your character will be health, stamina, and Magicka.
Characters will also be able to specialize more by selecting perks represented in the world by various star signs. These perks function similarly to those found in Fallout games which allow players to make a wide variety of characters by selecting different perks. This too simplifies leveling while adding a lot more depth to character development and allowing for a huge variety of character builds. A player who wishes to play an archetypal warrior may want to select skills that give his weapons more devastating attacks as well as increasing his ability to block during combat, while a mage-like character might want to invest in perks that give greater Magicka and offensive power. Thieves or Assassins might go for traits that improve their bow and sneak skills and become more of a Sniper.
The skills too have been cut down to just 18. Some of the magical skills found in Oblivion and Morrowind will be lumped together into similar schools to cut down on confusion.
Gone too is the ugly and atmosphere-breaking character information scroll. Instead, as depicted from these screen capture above, the player will look to the stars to determine his or her character's path to power.
A Word on Character Development and Builds
As mentioned above, Bethesda has scrapped the class system from previous Elder Scrolls games. This makes a specific build guide for characters very difficult. The leveling system was specifically designed to allow more fluid, natural play. Accordingly, my character builds are also designed to be taken as a rough outlines of possible routes the player can take as they level. They are also intended to provide some role-playing flavor.
Here are three character builds that include the best race, Standing Stones, stats, and perks for each one.
1. The Artificer (Warrior, Treasure Hunter, and Smith)
- Race: Breton (Great armor skill plus 25% to magic)
- Standing Stone: The Steed (for hauling all of your artifacts around), The warrior (for leveling), The Atronach
This character is built around the fleshed out and fun smithing and item enchanting skill trees in Skyrim. The Artificer is always on the lookout for Ancient artifacts, unique crafting materials, and strange magics to supercharge his or her armor and weapons. This class focuses mainly on melee combat, with a little bit of alteration, restoration, and conjuration thrown in as utility skills.
Through magic and expert craftsmanship, the Artificer becomes an unstoppable dragon tanking warrior.
- Magicka: This stat can be largely skipped. If you want to cast more spells, select this stat every now and then in order to cast more Magicka intensive spells. Alternatively, you can rely on your enchanting skill to add more Magicka to your armor.
- Health: This should be leveled the most as an upfront melee character.
- Stamina: It's almost as important as health. You'll need a lot for long, drawn-out battles and sprinting.
- Smithing: Unlock the right-hand side all the way up to dragon armor. You will be able to make any of the heavy armor or weapons in the game. While dragon armor is at the top of the tree, it is actually not the best. Daedric armor has the highest defense but Dragon armor materials are far easier to come by.
- Heavy Armor: Juggernaut (5). Other points are up to you. Fists of steel and Cushioned are almost useless but must be picked as prerequisites for Conditioning (Heavy armor becomes weightless and does not slow you down). Tower of Strength (negates staggering) and Reflect Blows are worth getting and the prerequisites are quite good as well.
- One-Handed: Armsman (5). Try to get all of the central perks with Paralyzing strike being your final perk. Extra points can go into a weapon style of your choice. I chose swords.
- Block: Shield Wall (5). Deflect Arrows and Elemental Protection (reduces elemental damage by 50% while blocking. The bashing side of the tree may be worthwhile if you want to vary your combat abilities more.
- Enchanting: Enchanter (5). All other perks on the left and middle of this tree should be gotten in order to unlock Extra Effect (2 enchantments on a single item). Soul Squeezer and Soul Siphon can be skipped.
2. The Swordmaster (Light Melee Assassin and Skirmisher)
- Race: Argonian, Khajiit, Nord
- Standing Stone: Thief, The Lady, The Lord
A Swordmaster excels at dual-wielding swords in such a way that his attacks become a blur. He or she relies on speed to close with enemies and dispatch them with a flurry of blows. The Swordmaster uses light armor to remain mobile and augments his or her lack of blocking and defense with Alchemy, Restoration, and Alteration skills.
- Magicka: Avoid leveling this. Get enough so that you can cast a few healing and alteration spells to help with survival. A good amount to shoot for would be 200~250.
- Health: As always, this is one of the most important stats in-game. Make sure to get this pumped up high early on. I recommend that the first five levels of health should be selected. After that alternate between health and stamina. Try to get gear that further ups this stat.
- Stamina: This is very important for extended fights. You'll want a high amount so that you can continue spamming your dual wield power attack. The attack itself has some of the best DPS in the game, but consumes a huge amount of stamina. Alchemy and your stealth skills can help deal with stamina problems. Drink a stamina potion or two, or initiate attacks by backstabbing dangerous enemies in order to hurry encounters along.
- One-Handed: With this tree, be sure to go up the right side of the perk tree. You want to grab all of the dual-wielding perks. Be sure to also grab the sword specialty perk that gives you a 10% increase per point to sword criticals. Some of the central perks of the one-handed tree are worth getting as well. Especially the sprinting critical perk, as well as the highest requirement perk which stuns enemies.
- Light Armor: Attempt to get all of the perks in this tree. Light armor is a good option because speed and mobility are much more important than raw defensive power. Heavy armor will slow you down without a heavy investment in perks.
- Alteration: Because light armor offers less defense, alteration spells that block damage are essential. Early on you can focus on other areas, but mid-game, you should invest points here.
- Restoration: Every character ends up using restoration, but some of the perks in this tree can prove to be very helpful. Consider getting the perks that heal stamina and health at the same time as well as perks that increase the effectiveness of healing spells. You won't need to make much of an investment here to reap the rewards.
- Sneak: Sneak perks can really up your effectiveness. All characters make use of sneak, but investing points will yield huge damage multipliers (up to 15x with daggers, and even 30x after completing a certain questline).
Add other skill trees to taste. Alchemy is always helpful. Without block, this character tends to take a beating, so having extra health pots and potions to speed up combat really help.
3. The Pugilist (Unarmed Combat Specialist)
- Races: All, but the best choice is Kahjiit for their racial bonus to unarmed combat
- Standing Stones: Warrior, Lord, Lady
The Pugilist is probably one of the more interesting characters that can be played in Skyrim. Using their fists rather than weapons, the Pugilist never backs down from a good barroom brawl. When adventuring too, the Pugilist loves to get up close and personal with his or her foes. A mailed fist is just as good as a mace after all, right?
Pugilists come in two varieties. The Shielded Pugilist and The Pure Pugilist.
- Magicka: This is not important, although leveling it up every now and then may be nice if you would like to augment your defense or offense with spells.
- Health: Again, as many level-ups as you can afford should go here.
- Stamina: After getting a decent amount of health, consider leveling this up to at least 200-ish by the time you're in your 20s. Stamina is very important for using your shield to block, bash and knock over enemies, as well as using your fists for prolonged periods of power attacks.
- Heavy Armor: By far, this is the most important perk for the Pugilist. Why? Well, putting aside the need for some serious defense, the heavy armor tree has a perk on the left branch that converts the defense value of your gloves into bonus unarmed damage. For most characters, this perk is wasted. But for the Pugilist, it's invaluable.
- Block: Block is really helpful throughout the game, and becomes very powerful later on. Almost all of the blocking perks have uses, both defensive and offensive. Getting all of the perks in this tree will increase your resistance to all damage in the game, including elemental when your shield is raised. Also blocking allows you to bash opponents. Perks spent on power increases the damage that your shield dishes out. High-level investment in this tree nets you the ability to run and sprint with your shield up, disarm opponents, and even knock them off their feet. Every point is worthwhile unless you are playing the Pure Pugilist, in which case, skip this.
What Are Your Build Ideas?
I'm still playing the game myself and becoming more familiar with the gameplay mechanics. There is always something new to learn, so keep a lookout for more character builds. Check out some character development resources below, and leave some of your own build ideas in the comments section!