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This build is extremely resilient to most forms of damage, primarily physical, magical and elemental with a few others thrown in also. The character also boasts a 75% resistance to being staggered (including unrelenting force shouts, high level archer enemies with Power Shot and normal melee power attacks). Once all essential perks and spells have been acquired the character can easily survive on the highest difficulty, Master with less concerns than many other character types.

Race and gender, fighting style, and defensive focus

  • Race and gender: Breton, Female
    • The choice of this race is solely for the 25% magic resistance. The gender is due to the fact of the bonus damage attainable versus the opposite sex, a small gain but critical on higher difficulties. Most wizards selling soul gems and blacksmiths selling ingots are also male, allowing the choice to provide discounts with said merchants.
  • Fighting style: Mace and Shield
    • The choice of this style is for the ease of gaining elemental protection (without requiring enchantment slots), the ability to bowl over enemies using a shield charge and negate arrow damage entirely (rather than merely reduce it). The mace is used due to a series of perks allowing it to ignore a large portion of enemy armor, against heavily armored foes it can kill quicker than faster weapons.
  • Armor type: Heavy Armor and Alteration spells.
    • Reasons for this choice are the higher armor rating, availability of perks reducing stagger from enemy attacks and a perk which reduces falling damage while wearing heavy armor. Alteration is used to both fortify the natural magic resistance of Bretons and add bonus armor and damage reduction.

Guardian Stone effect, monster disease and quest perks

There are 13 such stones in the game world, four of which deal with increasing the rate at which skills are gained. In addition to these 4, a fifth stone is used exclusively once level 80 has been reached.

In addition to these stones there are bonus perks, which can be attained once certain quests have been completed. These perks can easily add to the power of a character.

  • The Lord Stone, which provides 50 points of armor and 25% magic resistance.
    • This stone alone gives the Breton 50% magic resistance, without the need of any apparel and the extra armor can be effective at reducing damage from arrows the shield does not deflect.
  • The Atronach Stone, which provides 50 bonus magicka, 50% magicka absorption and -50% magicka regeneration.
    • Useful if you decide to go for a 15% magic resistance enchant on armor over using abilities which give you the 85% cap without wearing anything (only one instance is this useful, when imprisoned during No One Escapes Cidhna Mine as Madanach is a magic user and the player has all their items taken).
  • Lycanthropy, which provides disease immunity with little maintenance required (unlike vampirism which requires regular feedings) and no enchantment slot on equipment dedicated to this purpose.
    • Most skills typically have tricks that can be used to raise them quickly, despite the inability of werewolves to receive resting bonuses.
  • Vampirism, which may have incredibly useful synergy with the Restoration perk, Necromage. It also provides frost resistance, sneak bonuses, increased illusion spell power, disease and poison immunity in exchange for weakness to sunlight and fire with regular feedings required.
    • Skills will also raise quicker due to being able to draw upon resting bonuses.
  • Agent of Mara, the reward for the quest The Book of Love. It provides 15% magic resistance to the character.
  • Ancient Knowledge, the reward for the quest Unfathomable Depths. It provides a 25% armor bonus to Dwarven Armor and increases the rate at which Blacksmithing raises by 15%.
    • Currently bugged, providing the 25% armor bonus to all heavy and light armor, also the 15% bonus is actually a 15 point increase to the smithing skill rather than the rate at which it increases.
  • Agent of Dibella, the reward for the quest The Heart of Dibella. It increases the damage the player inflicts against the opposite sex by 10%.
    • Best used by a female character, as more enemies are male than female.
  • Dragon Infusion, the reward for the quest Dragon Research. It reduces the melee damage the character takes from dragons by 25%.
  • Sinderion's Serendipity, the reward for the quest A Return To Your Roots. It grants the player a 25% chance to create two potions or poisons instead of one when using an alchemy workbench.
    • Second potion is a freebie, taking no extra ingredients to craft.
  • Force Without Effort, one of the possible rewards for the quest The Throat of the World. It increases the stagger effect on attacks versus enemies by 25%, while decreasing the chance the player is staggered by the same amount.
  • Sailor's Repose, healing spells are 10% more effective. This includes Avoid Death.

Perks

All perks are listed under their respective skill tree, skill trees are listed in alphabetical order. The following perk list assumes level 80, all skills must be increased to 100 in order to hit this benchmark.

Alchemy

In the alchemy tree, the left path is taken as the extra damage provided by poisons is necessary on higher difficulties for quickly killing troublesome enemies.

  • Alchemist 5/5
  • Physician
  • Benefactor
  • Poisoner - Like exploding pants from Fallout 3, except with poisons.
  • Concentrated Poison - Allows a weapon to deliver two applications of poison from one bottle.
  • Snakeblood - 50% poison resistance, increased to 100% through armor enchantments or potions.

Alteration

Alteration possesses the perks that make high magic resistance (with very few enchants) in Bretons possible, as well as many extremely effective protection spells. Useful at lower levels due to Bretons lower starting armor skills and when working on leveling magic due to the ease of wearing robes versus enchanting items yourself.

  • Novice Alteration
  • Apprentice Alteration
  • Magic Resistance 2/3 - If using Lord stone and no magic resistance armor enchants.
  • Magic Resistance 3/3 - If using Atronach stone and 15% magic resistance enchant on armor.
  • Adept Alteration
  • Stability - Increases the duration of protection spells and paralyze spells.
  • Expert Alteration - Reduces the cost of Ebonyflesh and Paralyze.
  • Atronach - Bonus 30% magicka absorption, useful for either of the two build possibilities (85% magic resist no gear, 85% magic resist with 15% magic resist enchant).
  • Master Alteration - Reduces the cost of Dragonhide and Mass Paralysis.

Block

Blocking is a natural reaction when carrying a shield, it hearkens back to many old dragon slaying tales of a hero hiding behind a shield to avoid a dragon's breath. However in the game one must unlock the appropriate perk for this to be an effective defense.

  • Shield Wall 1/5 - Diminished returns, after the first level.
  • Deflect Arrows - Arrows will not damage the player at all when deflected.
  • Elemental Protection - Required for easily achieving 100% elemental resistances.
  • Block Runner - Required to cover any amount of distance quickly while blocking.
  • Quick Reflexes - Can give you the time needed to bash and interrupt the attack.
  • Power Bash - A more effective shield bash, staggering more powerful foes.
  • Deadly Bash - Useless against all but the weakest foes.
  • Disarming Bash - Better than it's shout counterpart, which prevents other shouts from being used.
  • Shield Charge - This ability is similar to a level three Unrelenting Force shout, allowing other shouts to be used instead.

Enchanting

Enchanting is a must have for higher difficulties, as the items you can make are usually far superior to those found throughout normal game play. Self created items can even surpass the Daedric Artifacts in most cases. Combine with alchemy for creating Potions of Enchanting to increase the power of enchantments even further.

  • Enchanter 5/5
  • Insightful Enchanter
  • Corpus Enchanter
  • Extra Effect - Must have on the higher difficulties, allows two enchantments on items.
  • Soul Squeezer - Allows the player to recharge depleted weapons with common and greater soul gems.
  • Soul Siphon - Slows down the rate at which weapons are depleted of their charge.
  • Fire Enchanter
  • Frost Enchanter
  • Shock Enchanter

Heavy armor

This tree builds upon the damage resistance focus of the build more so than light armor, as heavy armors have higher armor ratings and the perks allow less stagger and less damage from falling. Falling damage isn't very common, though it is useful in some situations (escaping enemies by leaping off ledges and cliffs, mountain climbing, etc) and there are a few pitfall traps in the game that do not have spikes at the bottom. The first skill available also lends it's name to this build title.

  • Juggernaut 1/5 - Only need one point, due to Blacksmithing bonuses and the armor cap of 567 (anything after this is useless).
  • Well Fitted
  • Tower of Strength - Combines with the above mentioned Force Without Effort for 75% less stagger.
  • Fists of Steel - Useful for winning brawls, though becomes obsolete at later levels.
  • Cushioned - Reduces fall damage by 50%, allowing the character to fall much further.
  • Conditioning - Worn heavy armor is weightless and no longer drains stamina as quickly when sprinting.
  • Matching Set - Nothing beats Daedric Armor in terms of armor rating.
  • Deflect Blows - Damage that is reflected back at the attacker does not harm the character.

One-handed

One-handed weapons are needed due to the use of a shield, maces are preferred on higher difficulties as they outperform the faster swords and axes available due to ignoring a large portion of enemy armor (including that from wards and enemy flesh spells), which is higher on Expert and Master. Maces which have no enchantments can be made faster using the shout Elemental Fury, which is useful at lower levels before enchanting perks have been taken.

  • Armsman 5/5
  • Fighting Stance
  • Bone Breaker 3/3 - Combine with the Marked for Death shout to further reduce enemy armor.
  • Savage Strike - The only power attack damage perk that most people need, poisons can provide paralyze.

Restoration

Restoration is used only for the contingency perk it contains, as the character requires blocking to easily achieve 85% elemental resistances and only possesses 85% magic resistance it stands to reason that the character may be taken by surprise. The contingency perk protects against this possible outcome to some degree.

  • Novice Restoration
  • Recovery 2/2 - Counteracts the -50% magicka regen from the Atronach stone.
  • Avoid Death - Once per day it automatically heals the target by 250 hit points if their health drops below 10% of their maximum health. This is usually enough to prevent a dragon or other enemy from achieving a cinematic kill, which instantly kills the character.
  • Regeneration - Healing spells cure 50% more, this also applies to Avoid Death.
  • Necromage - Due to a possible trick with Vampirism that would make them more useful than werewolves despite the inconvenience of constant feedings.

Smithing

Blacksmithing, or smithing for short is used to upgrade weapons and armor through mundane means. It is an extremely potent crafting skill. On the lower difficulties (Novice, Apprentice, Adept) it is all you need, the enchanting perks can all be ignored entirely. However on the higher difficulties it is a necessity along with enchanting.

  • Steel Smithing
  • Dwarven Smithing
  • Orcish Smithing
  • Arcane Blacksmith - Must have to upgrade magical weapons and apparel.
  • Ebony Smithing
  • Daedric Smithing - The ultimate goal of the build in smithing, as the Atronach Forge is not a reliable or efficient crafting system due to bugs and increased ingredient requirements versus regular smithing.

Speech

All characters should take the first three skills, unless they wish to tolerate the inconvenience of traveling to specific shops to sell specific items. This becomes tedious if the character is often over-encumbered when returning to town from quests and adventures. Most wizards carrying soul gems are male, similarly most blacksmiths are also male for purposes of allure bonuses.

  • Haggling - Only one point of this is required.
  • Allure - Prices with the opposite sex are improved by 10%.
  • Merchant - The most useful perk from the speech tree, it allows any type of item to be sold to any type of merchant. Stolen items must still be sold to a fence, however they become quite plentiful once the Thieves Guild quests have been completed fully.
  • Investor - Allows the player to invest in businesses, increasing their gold by 500 and allowing some items in shops to be taken without it counting as theft.
  • Fence - Allows stolen goods to be sold to any merchant whom the player has invested in, making theft a more viable source of income.
  • Master Trader - All merchants in the game instantly gain an additional 1000 gold to barter with, a very convenient perk for those who don't want to travel to several cities to sell expensive items.

Sneak

Only the first level of stealth is required to sneak effectively, all other perks are entirely optional. Most Thieves Guild quests require you not be seen, they do not want you to murder anyone and most Dark Brotherhood assassinations can be done without hiding at all (in fact one member encourages you to carry them out in this manner).

  • Stealth - After the first level of this perk it has severely diminished returns that can easily be outclassed by enchantments on items.

Pieces, places and poisons

This section details various pieces of equipment and their enchantments, places to shop for the best prices due to allure and haggling gear and finally poisons that are especially effective.

Pieces of equipment

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Places to shop

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Poisons to use