Mage Character Build
Discussion: Mage Character Thread in forums.
Race: (Male/Female) High Elf (a.k.a. "Altmer")
Birthsign: The Apprentice/The Mage
Class: (create a custom class and assign it a name of your choosing)
Class Attributes: Intelligence, Willpower
#) skill (skill type- governing attribute)
1) Alchemy (magic- Intelligence)
2) Restoration (magic- Willpower)
3) Destruction (magic- Willpower)
4) Alteration (magic- Willpower)
5) Mysticism (magic- Intelligence) -or- Conjuration (magic- Intelligence)
6) Sneak (stealth- Agility)
7) Light Armor (stealth- Speed) -or- Conjuration (magic- Intelligence)
Description and Strategy
First off, when deciding on a powerful mage concept it is important to keep in mind that the amount of magicka available for use will be limited by your Intelligence statistic, your birthsign, and the race you choose. This is important because you will undoubtedly want to cast all sorts of high-magicka costing spells eventually, and you will greatly enjoy having the significantly higher base magicka stat when that time comes. The spells in this game tend to run on the high-magicka costing side so having more magicka to use later in the game will be a useful benefit.
 Race Description
The High Elf has the highest base magicka statistic(+100) out of all the races. But they have weakness to fire, frost, and shock
 Birthsign Description
"The Apprentice" birthsign has the second highest add-on magicka statistic(+100) out of all the birthsigns. The highest is "The Atronach" birthsign(+150), but Atronach is not recommended for a mage character due to the fact that it also stops magicka from regenerating naturally. Though the Atronach birthsign gives a slightly larger magicka boost than other birthsigns, it is recommended for use with non-magic specific characters(such as warriors or thieves) that do not depend on magic for a large part of their game, but still want the ability to use larger spells from time to time. Being dependant on outside sources for magicka may eventually doom a mage type character since they will be using spells much of the time but will not be able to regenerate magicka naturally. For example, you won't always be able to shake enemies off to get your magicka back if you run out your supply, and that's when you will most likely die or be forced to run away if you are unable to regenerate your needed magicka reserves. It just does not make sense logically speaking to willingly stop magicka regeneration for a mage by picking the Atronach birthsign. In this guide that choice is not recommended.
With the Apprentice birthsign you will be able to easily do anything you could do with the Atronach birthsign, and yet not have the stunted(non-regenerating) magicka weakness. The drawback to the Apprentice birthsign is a weakness to magic, but that can be countered easily relatively early on in the game by many methods normally used regardless of birthsign. With the Alteration spells your mage will develop, and enchanted gear, you will be guarding effectively against almost every magic threat anyways so the weakness to magic side effect of the Apprentice birthsign turns out to not be a big drawback at all after the early part of the game. A diligent player with the Apprentice birthsign will not notice many problems while enjoying the increased base spell capacity to become a truly powerful mage character. The Apprentice birthsign is ideal for aggressive mage-type characters that intend to annihilate their enemies quickly before sustaining much damage themselves.
Another possible good choice here would be "The Mage" birthsign. This birthsign gives a 50 point magicka boost to a character's base statistics and does not have any drawbacks to go along with it. For a conservative mage who still wants decent magical power, this option can be a good choice.
 Class Attributes Description
For this character build you will want to pick Intelligence and Willpower for the "Class Attributes". Intelligence is the singular attribute that determines how much actual base magicka you carry, and Willpower is the direct cause of how fast magicka reserves refill after you cast spells. These two attributes will be increased at the start of the game due to them being picked as class attributes, so you start with more magicka to use and it regenerates faster as well. In the long run it ceases to matter which class attributes are chosen since attributes will be limited to a certain degree. Class attribute designations are mainly for helping a player towards the start of the game.
 Specialization Description
Logically of course, you would want to pick "Mage" as the "Specialization". This is important because it ensures that all the magic type skills (destruction, alteration, illusion, conjuration, mysticism, restoration, alchemy) will get an additional boost of +5 as well at the start of the game.
 Major Skills Description
The major skills you choose are especially important for more than one reason.
For one, each of the seven skills you pick to be major will start with a base value of 25/100. 25 is the first skill mastery level change(25=Apprentice) so in each of these skills you will start at an apprentice skill level instead of novice. That means you can do more with those skills than a novice, which in the case of a mage mostly means casting higher level/longer lasting spells.
Secondly, all skills picked as major will increase easier/faster than minor skills (minor just means all the other 14 skills you didn't pick as major) With skill increasing you should be aware that the magnitude of each usage of a given skill is not linked to how fast it increases in skill level. It simply matters that the skill is actually used that makes it increase its skill level bar. To paint a picture for you: if you are trying to increase your skill mastery level in mysticism, you may use the detect-life spell to do so. But it doesn't matter if you cast the spell to last a minute or one second, the amount the bar increases will be the same for either spell. What does change how fast the skill increases is whether or not it is a major skill. That is taken into account here when picking what skills you may want to have as major, as well as how that affects which of your character's attributes will be able to go up fastest. The attributes are part of this equation because generally speaking the more times a skill bar increases by +1 the more of a bonus can be used to up the governing attribute of that skill the next time you raise an experience level. And attributes are the strongest factors in determining how your character will perform.
Lastly, your character will only gain experience and raise levels as your major skills are increased. This means that you want mostly major skills that you will be using most often so you are able to level up and raise your attributes quickly, as well as skills that you can easily use to help you increase your experience bar if you want to go to higher experience levels but have maxed out all 7 major skills.
Overall, this build allows for access to more magicka, and faster magicka regeneration for your mage by using these skills as major (see the skills listed above and which are linked to intelligence and willpower).
This is one of the easiest/fastest skills to increase. All you do is pick everything in sight everywhere you go and then mix it together regardless of what it makes.
Alchemy will also be incredibly useful for a mage who appreciates a good potion to increase his ability to cast more powerful spells as well as cast them frequently. You can create potions that will make your magicka regenerate much, much faster than normal and allow you to cast spells rapidly. You will also be able to make potions that increase the amount of base magicka available. The alchemy skill level determines how many different effects are available when mixing potions. Ideally, your potions will do multiple things at once since you can only drink a limited amount of them at one time. It is possible to go into a fight with certain potions hot-keyed so that you can quickly tap out four potions as the fight starts and instantly have hundreds more magicka available in your bar, AND the bar will regenerate many times faster at the same time. In that case, when you cast a spell that costs your whole bar, it refills in a few seconds and is available again as opposed to having to wait half a minute between each spell for your magicka to regenerate. This makes your character act and function more like the mage you are probably imagining.
As an example: (which you can use for your mage) Mix two of any of these ingredients together at Apprentice(25) Alchemy skill level to make a Magicka Regeneration Potion: Bog Beacon Asco Cap, Flax Seeds, Steel Blue Entoloma Cap, Stinkhorn Cap, Void Salts. If you raise your alchemy skill level up to expert level, try this mixture instead so that you increase the amount of magicka available for every spell as well as make it regenerate faster: Ginseng, Blackberry, Void Salts. The ultimate mage potion (or really just the ultimate potion, period) would be one that increased the amount of Health and Magicka available as well as made Health, Magicka, and Fatigue all regenerate quickly at the same time. It will require duping one of the ingredients to make more than six of such a potion, and you must be at expert(75) skill level in alchemy, but here is the recipe for the day when you are ready: Sweetcake, Painted Troll Fat, Wheatgrain, Void Salts. I call that the "Battlemage Potion". ;) The "Painted Troll Fat" ingredient is only available during the quest "A Brush With Death" which you get from a dark elf in one of the houses in southwest Cheydinhal. You can only get 6 portions of it at most during that quest. You would want to make the potion, then dupe that potion to make more. Just make sure you keep the extra painted troll fat in a good place and maybe an extra potion as well just to be safe.
One more thing about alchemy, it will pop up often as a lost attribute when you go to jail. You may want to increase your experience level after maxing out all 7 major skills, so you will have to go to jail to lose skill points in your major skills. This means you can do something small to get thrown in jail (worth less than 100 bounty), save your game before going to sleep to serve out the sentence, and hopefully when you wake up out of jail it says your alchemy skill decreased by one. (if not, re-load your game and sleep again) Once that happens ten times, go mix up a bunch of random potions real quick and...Bam!...you got an extra experience level and can increase your attributes further. Just collect ingredients all through the game whenever it's convenient, and get into the habit of dumping what you collect every time you go home so it's saved up.
Being a pure mage, and not relying much on armor, it goes without saying that you will need to have a way to heal fast if you do get hurt. Without this skill being major it increases very slowly and limits how much you can heal magically.
However, restoration will be much more useful for other reasons than healing hit points. Restoration will allow you to increase attributes for periods of time, make spell absorption effect protective spells to convert enemy spells into magicka power for you, restore health over time (health regeneration), resist magical attacks, increase magicka and health availabilities, and much much more.
Imagine being able to run faster than a horse, jump higher than most buildings, hit harder than ogres, have thousands of hit points worth of health... All this and more is possible when you can cast master level restoration spells. Being a master of this skill can very well be looked at as having super powers.
As a good example of this in the case of magic power:
You can make restoration spells that will increase the magicka available for casting spells:
First off, you will need to be a master of the restoration skill to use this method properly. To make these super magicka increasing spells you will want to boost Intelligence, Willpower, and Magicka evenly and at the same time. What you do is make two "starter" spells that have a low enough magicka cost to be within reach of the base magicka available:
1)Fortify Magicka 100 points for 30 seconds on self
2)Fortify Intelligence 100 points for 30 seconds on self Fortify Magicka 100 points for 30 seconds on self
Those two "starters" will raise the base Magicka up above the 600+ needed to cast the real boosting spells assuming that your character starts with a base of 300 magicka. Then while those first two starters are running you can cast the first two real boosting spells so that the increase in magicka becomes self-sustaining while you continue to increase the magicka bar. You will alternate between the Intelligence and Willpower boosting spells so that as the Magicka bar goes up it does not take longer and longer for it to refill and continue to build. Basically, you can repeat these next two spells ten times over for a total of 20 spells casted back to back:
1)Fortify Intelligence 100 points for 120 seconds on self Fortify Magicka 100 points for 120 seconds on self
2)Fortify Willpower 100 points for 120 seconds on self Fortify Magicka 100 points for 120 seconds on self
Just name each spell a little differently so you can make duplicate spells and get it done. All of a sudden your magicka is up to 4500+ instead of 300+. Think of what a pure mage can do with thousands of magicka in their reserves for two minutes of a fight as opposed to just a few hundred. The difference is night and day. Average mage....or extremely powerful wizard? Your choice, but you can't cast spells even close to those possible with the above method unless you are a master of restoration.
As stated said above, keep in mind that the restoration skill goes up VERY slowly unless it is chosen as a major skill.
This choice speaks for itself. Higher destruction levels allow for more powerful destruction spells to be made and cast. Plus the fact that you will be using destruction all the time to fight so it will help you level up fast to strengthen your mage's attributes.
Due to armor reducing your mage's spell efficiency level, you may need shield spells to protect against physical damage instead of (or in addition to) armor protection. You can make shield spells which can protect the exact same amount as real armor, and later make shield spells that not only act like armor but protect against elemental damage as well.(like from elementally enchanted physical weapons as well as spells cast at you) Though those elemental shield spells can be quite costly in terms of amounts of magicka required to cast.
Alteration is also useful in making feather spells which allow you to carry a whole lot more loot to sell afterward exploring dungeons. Later on you can use "Fortify Strength" spells(restoration) to increase your strength and thus your carrying capabilities. Feather can only be cast to allow an extra 100 weight to be carried, but you can cast an extra 100 strength for a decent period of time with a mastery of the restoration skill and thus carry 500 more weight.
Mysticism is useful for casting the detect-life spell for the most part. This will allow you to see enemies long before they get to you.
Also a very important reason for this to be a major skill is that its governing attribute is Intelligence. This makes it a "magicka-gaining" skill to use as intelligence is the only attribute that determines how much base magicka your mage carries. Just make one of your eight hot-keys a permanent home for a detect-life spell and use it all the time to quickly increase this skill.
Since this build only has one other Intelligence-governed skill(alchemy), mysticism is a good thing to keep in mind and use often. The only other intelligence-governed skill available is conjuration, so if you would rather conjure creatures more than use a detect-life spell, then make that substitution here. Make conjuration a major skill instead of mysticism and conjure away all the time.
Sneak is a good skill to have as major so that it raises fast and your mage can hide quickly if need be.(if things go south for any reason)
Sneak will help you increase you Agility attribute too which is responsible for keeping you on your feet mostly when you do get hit by a strong attack. It's no good to not take much damage from a single hit if that hit knocks you on your back and is followed up by five more while your mage is struggling back to his feet.
Sneaking well will also allow you to gain the advantage of surprise more often in all those dark dungeons. Enemies will have less warning of your approach and less time to close the gap between you and pummel on your head while you are casting their death upon them.
It's a good idea to have one or two other skill categories amongst your major skills in your mage build so he's not completely one sided and always being rendered vulnerable one way or another. Having sneak here to help with concealment as well as sturdiness can accomplish that goal to a great degree.
 Light Armor
Light Armor is recommended with a pure mage concept for a couple reasons: For one, the governing attribute for Light Armor is Speed. Which just like it suggests affects how fast your mage will run. Since you may need to run fast at times to avoid a heavy physical attack situation it would be wise to throw in one major skill that can help you increase the Speed attribute faster.
On top of that, if you get to a high mastery level of light armor your spell efficiency will still be 95% which allows for virtually the same effectiveness as if you wore no armor at all. Also, relying on some armor frees up magicka you may otherwise use for protection to route towards devastating your enemies instead. Sounds like more fun right?
After those reasons if you really still don't want Light Armor as a major skill then substitute in conjuration so you have another Intelligence-governed skill as a major skill instead. With that option you will have all the Intelligence and Willpower governed skills as major skills.
Tips on gameplay strategy for this character build:
- Make some magicka regeneration potions with the recipe given above and hotkey them to use before fights.
- Heal with health restoring spells frequently.
- Use shield spells often for protection, or even make a dual spell with shield and detect-life to kill two birds with one stone. Also, make and/or buy some feather spells to help carry more loot to sell for money after dungeon diving.
- Use detect-life frequently to see enemies before you get to them (or if you decide to substitute conjuration instead, conjure creatures/weapons/armor during all your fights)
- Sneak up on your enemies to gain the element of surprise, then devestate them with your destruction spells.
- When it comes time to level up your character, focus first on raising your intelligence and willpower. However, keep in mind that this build will result in bonuses being available for other attributes as well. You should consider raising attributes with big bonuses available as there will only be a limited amount of times you are allowed to increase your attributes at all. This is especially important since attributes are some of the largest factors in determining your character's strong and weak points. Raise Luck +1 every five experience levels or so and forget about Personality altogether (unless you really want a high personality, have nothing else left to raise up, or it has a +5 bonus available)
- Visit all the mage's guilds early in your game to complete all the recommendation quests so that you can gain access to the Arcane University and begin making your own spells as soon as possible. (if you have the "Wizard's Tower" extra content then focus on buying the candles needed to activate the spell-making alter as soon as possible)
- At some point you should try to focus on buying all the different spell effects you may want to make your own spells. You are only able to make spells using effects you have bought or acquired somewhere in the past. It is recommended to write down each different spell effect you gain as you gain them so that you are not buying worthless spells just for effects you have already acquired. You will not be able to delete spells later and it will eventually become a major chore just to change spells. In fact, if you are not careful you may end up with so many spells that you will spend more time switching spells than actually playing at times regardless of using all of the hot-keys. That is no fun at all. Try to keep the spells you make and acquire down to what you really need or want in order to avoid this huge headache later on in your game.
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