To all of you who received Skyrim as a present for whatever holiday you might happen to celebrate this time of year, welcome. Welcome, I say, to a game where choice is the only real danger. Sure, the dragons have big teeth and breathe little buffs of deadly heat or cold. And sure, there’s tons of enemies out there who either want your stuff, your life or your soul, but really, choice is the only thing that’ll kill you in Skyrim.
What’s scary, for me at least, is I can’t tell you what choices will send you into bloody spasms and which ones will lead to glorious riches.
However, with eighty-five wonder filled hours in the game, I can give some advice on how to create a proper battlemage. Below are four items I think are most important the creation of an ass kicking, flame spewing, killing machine.
For those of you who haven’t seen my last Battlemage article on Skyrim, please read that first, as it gives a good baseline for my expansion here.
1. Know your race and your role
First, don’t be a n00b like me and pick Imperial as your race when creating your character. There’s no benefit beyond a slight increase in the gold you’ll find. Instead, go with Breton. First, they get a boost to Conjuration and an innate resistance to magical attacks. As someone who’ll be swinging a sword and calling on the powers of the aether, when you meet those enemy mages who insist on cast spells while you whack their limbs off, that resistance will come in handy.
Speaking of weapons, from the get go, you need to have at least a minor conception of how you’ll actually be fighting as a battlemage. The path I took is melee based with one hand always free to cast when necessary. What I continue to find effective, however, is archery with summoned creatures/companions distracting my foes. A third option, and one I might try at some point, is the sneaking, assassin-mage. If you go this route, either Khajit or Bosmer are the races to choose. Bethesda built the cat-people for sneaking, thievery and other clandestine operations. The Bosmer have a bonus to Sneak, but Illusion is their speciality, and spells like Muffle and Invisibility are all but essential to those wonderful sneak attacks to the jugular.
Again, no matter which race you think is appropriate for you, you need to have an idea of what path you want to take. Because the perk trees contain a whopping 251 different perks, and there’s a maximum of only 81 levels, choosing unwisely or not choosing early enough can, and probably will, ruin the experience for you.
2. With a role, a path.
If, like me, you’re now ready to sling spells and steel at those who oppose you, you need to decide what perk paths are best for you. Of the eighteen available, there are three I count as necessary regardless of your build. I think either Armor tree, Smithing and Restoration are absolutely essential to your success.
- Armor, Heavy or Light: Going around in your loincloth might be a wonderful way to get a tan and commune with nature, it also lets things get right to the squishy bits of your dragon blooded self. If you choose Heavy Armor, melee should be your goal. The weight of it seriously slows you, which is offset by the vastly superior protection it offers. Of course, it’s just as useful for archers, but sneaking is almost out of the question until you take the Conditioning perk, which comes at level 70 in HA. Therefore, if you want a quicker character who can dance around around even the deftest of foes, Light Armor is your perk of choice. It’s at just level 50 that the Conditioning equivalent becomes available, and unlike HA, taking this perk doesn’t stop you from getting the level 100 perk.
- Smithing: This goes without saying, but you’ll want to make your own armor. First off, it’s far more economical. Unless you go deep into the Speech perk tree, weapons and armor grow more and more expensive at what seems like an exponential rate. And early in the game, your gold supply won’t be astronomical, unless you find a way to get rich quick. There are ways. Anyway, because the Smithing skill levels based solely on the number of items you produce, you could, conceivably, buy every iron ingot and piece of ore out there, smith ten thousand iron daggers and be done with it. No matter how you get there, there are two perks you want: Ebony and Daedric Smithing. The first has become, for me, something of a cash cow, crafting, enchanting and selling. Daedric armor is the best in the game, save for the heaviest dragonplate. Making Daedric equipment takes Daedra hearts, which are, in my experience, hard to come by, but the arms and armor are the best you can get.
- Restoration: You need to heal yourself, and often. While potions should be your first recourse, do not neglect healing magic. The three main perks you want are Recovery (Magicka regenerates faster), Respite (Health and Stamina are recovered), and my favorite, Avoid Death (heal 250 points once a day when near death).
Lastly, the school of magic I most recommend, as stated by quite a few people in the last post, is Conjuration. Early on, it’s somewhat weak, but relatively cheap to cast, and summoned creatures are great at soaking up damage you’d otherwise have to take. At level 100, Twin Souls makes the game almost too easy, as at that point you can summon Dremora Lords, even one of which is exceedingly powerful. That said a good backup school is, as I said earlier, Destruction. Flames and Firebolt and their equivalents will be useless as enemies scale upwards to match you, but for the first fifteen levels or so, they come in quite handy. Alteration is nice for increasing armor, but I haven’t found much use beyond that and making iron into gold.
3. Follow your path to the proper quests
The leveling system in Skyrim depends on leveling your skills. For this reason, taking quests is a great way to not only make some gold but put those skills, and perk choices, to the test. While I can’t list the top 100 best quests for a battlemage to take, I can give you quest lines to follow that worked for me.
- The College of Winterhold: With mage in your title, joining the Mage’s College is really a no brainer. The items you obtain on the path are useful throughout the game, or at least they’ve been so for me. There are more magical merchants in the college than anywhere else, and you’ll only be able to learn Master level spells from mages at the college. The ultimate reward for completing the quest line is just awesome, and if you’re like me, you’ll be coming back to it again and again.
- Any and all Daedric Prince quests: For the most part, these are combat based, short, one or two small mission quests. I recommend them here for one reason: artifacts. The items you receive as a result of completing these quests are completely unique. No one in Skyrim, especially not you, is capable of crafting items nearly as good as the items you get from these quests. None of them is useless, but some are less appropriate to the battlemage build than others. The Mace of Molag Bal is a great item if you specialize in maces, and Mehrunes’ Razor is great for sneaking. I haven’t found all of them myself, but I can and do use every single on I have.
- The Dark Brotherhood: Completing this quest line isn’t really necessary for battlemages who focus solely on melee, but the items you get make sneaking more effective and, I should think, far more fun.The things you get to do are both creepy and awesome too, so this line isn’t something I’d pass up. A couple other things. First, the master Alchemy trainer lives with the DB, as does the Light Armor trainer, and if you complete the DB line, you get your own room in their HQ. More on that in a bit.
- Thieves Guild: Again, not really necessary in the typical sense, but you get an awesome bow and sneaking characters get a borderline overpowered ability at the end. And I’m even mentioning the armor you get during the latter part of the line. It’s got great stats, and you look completely badass in it as well.
4. Complete the quests, buy a house
While this last tip is completely auxiliary to being a battlemage, having a house in all the major cities has far more advantages than it might seem. First, each and every house has places to store your stuff where you’ll always have access to. Second, they provide a home base that you can always go to and just sit, read a book, or sleep. Last, and I think most important, is that they provide a personal alchemy and enchanting station. True, you have to pay for it after buying the house, but having the ability to go someplace where those pesky NPCs won’t be spouting nonsense in your ear is nice. Those weapons you create you don’t use but don’t want to sell have a place on the wall just for them too.
And who doesn’t want to own a mansion that overlooks the ocean? I mean really.
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