Skyrim Builds: Create the Perfect Character

Are dragons bothering you? Are you having issues with the local Skyrim wildlife like bears, wolves and Saber Cats? Well have no worries we have a solution! No matter what your play style is you’re most likely trying to create a legendary Dragonborn character as you travel the province of Skyrim. Building up the proper skills and using your perk points correctly is the key to building the ultimate Dragonborn. From Assassins to Warriors we’ve got the guide to help you raise your skills properly so that those pesky dragons aren’t much of a bother anymore.

Picking a Race

Building an assassin type character will require a particularly stealthy race, one that gains bonuses in Archery, Alchemy, Sneak and Light Armor also helps. Races such as the Dark Elf, Khajiit and Wood Elf make great assassin characters with their natural race bonuses. The Khajiit would be the easiest to start with as they start with a level 25 sneak skill.

Picking The Proper Perks

As an Assassin you’ll need to focus on stealthy up close kills in order to deal the most damage, these perks will assist you on your journey:

  • Stealth: Raise this to Rank 5 which makes you 40% harder to detect when sneaking.
  • Backstab: Sneak attacks with one-handed weapons now do 6x damage.
  • Assassin’s Blade: Sneak attacks with daggers now do 15x normal damage.
  • Armsman: Raise this to Rank 5 which makes your one-handed weapons do twice as much damage.
  • Dual Flurry: Raise this to Rank 2 which makes dual wielding attacks 35% faster.
  • Dual Savagery: Makes your dual wielding power attacks deal 50% more damage.

You should use your other perk points in Light Armor and Alchemy. Reducing the weight of your Light Armor is a nice perk to have when you’re looting all of those new dead bodies. Alchemy is useful if you like to create poisons, these add even more damage to your already deadly attacks.

Playing an Assassin

As an Assassin in Skyrim you’ll need to be quick and silent, being detected could prove fatal. In order to do this you’ll need to wear Light Armor and dual wield daggers. For an increased stealthy presence, or lack of presence, you could equip a Bow for those long range stealthy attacks. As you approach an enemy you’ll want to be in a stealth stance, approach them slowly and take them out from behind, this applies to Bow usage as well. If you go undetected there’s a good chance you’ll take out your target in one hit. If you’re looking for one-hit kills check out Mehrune’s Razor, a great dagger for Assassin type characters. Invisibility spells are also a great tool to have especially if you’re sneak level isn’t as high as it should be, a great alternative to a spell is using The Shadow Stone which grants invisibility once a day.

Picking a Race

As a Warrior you’ll need to be tough utilizing heavy armor and big weapons such as two-handed swords, battle axes and warhammers. Great warrior races would be either the Nords or Orcs if you’re looking for two-handed weapons and Imperials and Redguard if you’re looking to use one-handed weapons and shields.

Picking the Proper Perks

As a Warrior you’ll need to wear your heavy armor like its a second skin and use your weapons like they’re an extension of your actual arm. Stealth is not an option for this character type. The perks you need to focus on:

If you plan to use a sword a shield:

  • Armsman: Raise this to Rank 5 which doubles your one-handed damage.
  • Fighting Stance: Power attacks with one-handed weapons cost 25% less stamina.
  • Power Bash: Allows you to do a Power Bash.
  • Disarming Bash: Chance to disarm when you use Power Bash.
  • Elemental Protection: Blocking with a shield reduces Fire, Frost and Shock damage by 50%.

If you just want to bash some skulls in:

  • Barbarian: Raise this to Rank 5 which allows your two-handed weapons to deal double the damage.
  • Champion’s Stance: Power Attack’s with two-handed weapons costs 25% less stamina.
  • Juggernaut: Raise this to Rank 5 which increases the armor rating of Heavy Armor by 100%.
  • Well-Fitted: 25% armor bonus if wearing all Heavy Armor.
  • Tower of Strength: 50% less stagger when wearing on Heavy Armor
  • Power Bash: Able to do Power Bash.

You can use your other perk points in Archery and Smithing which will allow you to use a Bow as backup incase things don’t turn out the way you had planned and smith your own armor. Check out our Smithing Guide if you want to level your Smithing skill quickly.

Playing as a Warrior

Your warrior was built to take enemies head on, it laughs at the word “stealth”. Try to always approach and enemy with a power attack this way they’re staggered for first few seconds after meeting you. While they’re recovering from the first attack try to take a couple more swings with your weapon. After they recover either raise your shield or your two-handed weapon so that they won’t be able to properly retaliate. If you want you can use a bow to weaken your enemy before you take on the melee battle but after raising your Barbarian/Armsman perk it’s better to just charge in.

Picking a Race

Creating a Mage type character will require using a particularly intelligent race. Races such as Dark Elves, High Elves and Imperials make great mages as most of their skill bonuses are in some school of magic. If you’re looking for more of a Spellsword character try using an Imperial as they’re good with Destruction and One-Handed weapons.

Picking the Proper Perks

Mages require high levels of magical training to cast effective spells that burn, freeze or shock their enemies to death. You’ll want to focus a lot of time on the School of Destruction and the School of Conjuration in order to deal the most damage and keep yourself protected. Particular perks you’ll want to look at include:

  • Destruction Dual Casting: Dual casting a Destruction Spell overcharges the effects into an even more powerful version.
  • Augmented Flames, Frost, or Shock: Fire, Frost or Shock deals 50% more damage.
  • Summoner: Raise this to Rank 2 which allows you to summon Atronachs or raise Undead three times as far away.
  • Elemental Potency: Conjured Atronachs are 50% more powerful.
  • Illusion Dual Casting: Dual casting an Illusion spell overcharges to effects making it even more powerful.

Other perks you might want to place point in to are Twin Souls which allows for two atronachs or zombies at one time and Impact which will stagger your opponents.

Playing as a Mage

The Mage is a physically weak character type which means you should stay away from melee combat. You should wear a robe for the stat bonus and agility effects. Always use your summoning spells to aid you in battle, make sure your summoned minions take on the most damage as you won’t be able to take much of it yourself. Atronachs are your best friends they deal a great amount of damage and can take a lot of damage in return. When approach an enemy summon your minion first and have them take over the melee combat, sit back and cast your strongest destruction spells and watch your enemies fall.

Picking a Race

Building a thief type character will require high levels of Sneak, Pickpocket, Lock Picking and Archery. Races with high skill levels in these abilities are the Argonian and Khajiit. These races both work well withone-handed weapons and light armor as well, both essential items for a thief character.

Picking the Proper Perks

As a thief you’ll want to be quick witted, intelligent and stealthy. Using a bow, light armor and one-handed weapons are essential skills for a thief. Perks you should invest in are:

  • Stealth: Raise this to Rank 5 which allows you to be 40% harder to detect when sneaking.
  • Illusion Dual Casting: Dual casting an Illusion spell overcharges the effects making it even more powerful.
  • Quiet Casting: All spells cast from any school of magic as silent to all others.
  • Overdraw: Raise this to Rank 5 which makes your Bow do double the amount of damage.
  • Armsman: Raise this to Rank 5 which allows your one-handed weapons to do double the amount of damage.

Other perks that are useful as a thief include Agile Defender (Rank 5) which raises your Light Armor rating by 100% and Unhindered which makes your Light Armor weigh nothing when worn.

Playing as a Thief

A thief should always be hidden and swift. Play intelligently as you make your way through castles and dungeons looting all the valuables you can find on the way. Raising your lockpicking skill will prove quite useful as you sneak your way through Skyrim gaining you access to hidden sections of the world many others will never be able to reach. Pickpocket the poor fools walking ignorantly through the cities and take them for all they’re worth. In combat crouch down and weaken your enemy with an arrow from your finely formed Bow, as you level this could result in one-hit kills. If you are detected take out your enemies as quickly and quietly as possible, letting them gather friends is a major disadvantage to you.

Picking a Race

As a Necromancer you have to be in-tune with the dark arts and particularly skilled in Conjuration, Illusion and Alteration. Races with these characteristics include the High Elf and Breton. The High Elf is skilled in Illusion while the Breton is trained highly in the art of Conjuration. A Breton might be your best choice due to their starting Conjuration level which is 25.

Conjuration Dual Casting: Dual casting a Conjuration Spell overcharges the spell making it last even longer.

  • Necromancy: Greater duration to reanimated Undead.
  • Dark Souls: Reanimated Undead have 100 more health points.
  • Mystic Binding: Bound weapons do more damage.
  • Mage Armor: Raise this to Rank 3 which makes protection spells three times stronger when not wearing armor.

Other perks you might want to look at include those from the destruction tree such as Augmented Flames, Frost, or Shock so that you can assist your undead minions a little better.

Playing as a Necromancer

Much like the Mage character type Necromancers are fairly weak when it comes to weapons and armor, because of this you should rely heavily on your undead minions to take the heat off of you. Assist your minions with powerful destruction spells to take down your enemies more rapidly and even in larger quantities. You’ll want to have a summoned minion at all times in case of a surprise attack. Make sure you’re never wearing armor as your Mage Armor perk will become useless if you do.

Of course following our exact guidelines does not guarantee a perfect character, playing Skyrim also requires a bit of skill and on-your-toes thinking. These guidelines are just that, guidelines we hope you take them and alter them to your play style and share your builds with us. In fact, the best part of The Elder Scrolls series is playing the way you want to play.

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Phill is a long time Elder Scrolls enthusiast who decided to create a community of his own. He is the founder of both The Skyrim Guild and The Shadowed Mare -- two of the earliest Skyrim and Elder Scrolls Online websites.

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Nathaniel Marsaw
Nathaniel Marsaw
10 years ago

See my Skyrim Fansite article 10 Tips On Building A Strong Skyrim character for advice on building a strong Skyrim character.

8 years ago

Do you have a Battlemage one?

Shane Scarbrough
Shane Scarbrough
Reply to  Lee
8 years ago

Hi Lee, I checked our archives. You know, we’ve never had a post on creating a Battle Mage (which is a shame really — I used the build for my very first Skyrim character and loved playing it). I’ll make it a point to have something written up shortly.

3 years ago

I would like to see other builds in the future such as a battlemage, necromancer/tank, a robin hood type who only kills as a last resort. Stuff like that.