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The following build is designed purely for the style of play which I ended up using more than the original Mace/Shield combination. It relies on a mace still, unenchanted for use with the Elemental Fury shout to buff it's attack speed but otherwise has only smithing enhancements (achieved through 100 skill and potion use). The build is still going to draw a lot on the original juggernaut build with a few alterations and focus purely on the vampiric side of the game due to the necromage trick and the upcoming Dawnguard dlc.

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. Most wizards selling soul gems and blacksmiths selling ebony armor are also male, so it's going to be cheaper to buy ebony armor and weapons for use in the Atronach Forge.
  • Fighting style: Mace and Magic, Dual Casting
    • The choice of these two styles are primarily for ignoring armor of enemies and using ranged magic in the place of archery. Invisibility is also a useful off-hand tool that counters the stealth penalties when moving through brightly lit areas. Dual casting destruction spells with the Impact perk causes a 100% stagger effect, whereas archery can achieve only 75% (Power shot and Force without effort). This means dual casting can stun lock any enemy in the game, even dragons and prevent them from ever being able to attack.
  • 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 (comes into play when facing force shout enemies who can cause fall damage by knocking you high into the air or off ledges and cliffs). Alteration is used to both fortify the natural magic resistance of Bretons and add bonus armor and damage reduction early in the game.

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 81 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 or perks.
  • Vampirism, which has incredibly useful synergy with the Restoration perk, Necromage. It also provides frost resistance, sneak bonuses, increased illusion spell power, disease and poison immunity. All of the negative drawbacks are negligible at high levels, health regeneration can be achieved during daylight with appropriate enchantments (health, stamina or magicka). Regular feedings will be resolved with the Dawnguard dlc and portable blood supplies.
    • 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.

Perks

All perks are listed under their respective skill tree, skill trees are listed in alphabetical order. The following perk list assumes level 81, 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
  • Concentrated Poison - Allows a weapon to deliver two applications of poison from one bottle. Primarily used with poisons that apply a weakness effect, as the second hit will benefit from the first.

Alteration

Alteration possesses the perks that make high magic resistance (with no enchantments) in Bretons possible, as well as many extremely effective protection spells and paralyze. Useful at lower levels due to Bretons lower starting armor skills.

Conjuration

Conjuration is my new favorite school of magic due to the spell Dead Thrall, which allows you to have permanent undead servants. These servants can have their items enchanted and smithed to drastically improve their performance, or be buffed with illusion spells once certain perks have been taken in that skill tree.

  • Novice Conjuration - The mandatory starting point in the skill tree.
  • Necromancy - Useful until the permanent spell is attained, though it quickly becomes obsolete for all but comic relief (zombie chickens, rabbits, etc).
  • Dark Souls - Does not function properly if you choose to enchant your thralls armor and weapons.
  • Twin Souls - A must have for anyone investing in the school, allows two power summons (spectral assasin or shout summons) or normal elemental and dead thralls.

Destruction

Destruction is incredibly useful for the fact it is the only ranged form of attack that can have a 100% stagger effect capable of keeping any enemy in stun lock when dual cast with Impact and the Augmented perks.

  • Novice Destruction - Mandatory starting position.
  • Destruction Dual Casting - Expert level spells become more powerful than the Master level spells and cast much faster.
  • Impact - The primary focus of the school, as it allows Mammoths and Dragons to be stun locked when dual casting Thunderbolt, Incinerate or Icy Spear.
  • Augmented Shock 2/2 - The only enemies in the game with natural shock resistance are Storm Atronachs, Alduin and Bretons.
  • Disintegrate - The only worthwhile perk of it's kind as it can outright kill enemies with low health, including dragons.
  • Augmented Frost 2/2 - Primarily taken for better enchantments.
  • Augmented Flames 2/2 - Same as above.

Enchanting

Soul Siphon is my new favorite perk from this school, when combined with a high skill in the appropriate magical school it can slow the rate of charge use on weapons by a significant amount.

  • Enchanter 5/5 - Mandatory starting position and backbone of powerful enchantments.
  • Insightful Enchanter
  • Corpus Enchanter
  • Extra Effect
  • Fire Enchanter
  • Frost Enchanter
  • Storm Enchanter
  • Soul Squeezer - The more plentiful petty, lesser and common gems can be used in place of higher quality ones.
  • Soul Siphon - Combined with 100 skill in the appropriate school/s of magic the need to recharge weapons is significantly reduced.

Heavy Armor

My favorite class of armor due mostly to Tower of Strength, when combined with Force Without Effort the character rarely becomes staggered by force shouts, dragon landings, dragon resurrections, traps and physical effects such as power attacks. Cushioned also reduces the damage caused by extreme physics, such as walking over some skeletal remains or items flung through the air by force shouts or telekinesis (ricochet).

  • Juggernaut 1/5 - Only the first level is required to access the other perks.
  • Fists of Steel - Obsolete on the Master difficulty as the damage output is low.
  • Cushioned - Reduced fall and environmental physics damage.
  • Conditioning - Better to have the option to use other stones rather than being stuck using the Steed stone.
  • Well Fitted - Required to reach Tower of Strength.
  • Tower of Strength - The primary purpose of the skill tree, the damage reflection is unreliable.

Illusion

While magic does not appear to benefit from sneak attacks it is possible to hit enemies with magic and remain undetected or walk around with a spell primed (such as invisibility which makes the Shadow Warrior perk obsolete) due to the quiet casting perk. This doesn't have the same instant kill power of a normal sneak attack but can affect multiple enemies.

  • Novice Illusion - Mandatory starting position.
  • Illusion Dual Casting - Primarily useful with the mind altering spells and health buffs for allies.
  • Animage
  • Kindred Mage
  • Quiet Casting - Allows all magic to be silent.
  • Master of the Mind - Allows buff spells from the school to work on dremora, atronachs, undead and automatons.
  • Hypnotic Gaze
  • Aspect of Terror
  • Rage

One-handed

After trying other melee weapons, maces are my overall favorite due to their ability to quickly kill any armored foe and tear through mages despite their armor boosting spells and wards. It is uniquely satisfying to see a mace crush a draugr's windpipe just as it was about to use a force shout, and amusing to watch a decapitation caused by a blunt object.

  • Armsman 5/5 - The most effective damage increasing perks from the school.
  • Fighting Stance
  • Savage Strike - The only perk of it's type that is frequently used without forethought, also poisons, spells and enchantments can provide paralysis effects.
  • Bone Breaker 3/3 - Ignore 75% of an enemies armor, even those wearing light armor and armor boosting spells or wards.

Pickpocket

Pickpocket is a skill I rarely use for anything but taking keys, as once lockpicking reaches 100 I dislike having to reopen doors I previously unlocked before reaching the skill cap. I will steal the keys from all npc's in a town and then have free reign of their homes without pausing to unlock the doors. Once fences are available stealing the gems and gold from sleeping npc's you feed upon as a vampire can be profitable as well.

  • Light Fingers 1/5 - This perk isn't required to successfully pickpocket, but is mandatory to get the target perks.
  • Night Thief - Vampires need to feed on sleeping npc's already, may as well have a bonus to steal from them.
  • Extra Pockets - 100 pounds of extra carry weight is very useful.
  • Poisoned - Useful in place of bows or daggers as a silent method of inflicting damage on a dangerous target.

Restoration

While the Avoid Death perk is useful at lower levels, once you reach the higher levels it rarely comes into play and thus feels like a wasted choice. The only purpose of this school is for the vampire friendly perk Necromage.

  • Novice Restoration
  • Regeneration - Primarily useful for casting spells such as healing hands and heal other.
  • Necromage - The ultimate goal of the build, it should be acquired as soon as possible along with vampirism to take advantage of the synergy bonuses.

Smithing

I tried the Atronach Forge with the last build, for the amount of Daedric crafting I needed it seemed a waste of perks to go so high in this skill tree. Dragonbone weapons will also likely be included in randomized loot tables such as dragonbone armor is currently and will not require the perk in order to acquire said weapons.

Sneak

Used for two perks only, as the rest of the school isn't required for this build.

  • Stealth 1/5 - Diminishing returns after the first level and vampiric players get an additional 25% as well for a total bonus of 45% without any apparel.
  • Backstab - Increases the sneak attack bonus with the mace to x6 damage.

Speech

I always incorporate these three perks into any build, it makes buying and selling more convenient.

  • Haggling 1/5 - Mandatory starting point and one of the first perks I take. The earlier you take it, the more effective it ultimately is and Bretons have a good starting speech skill.
  • Allure - The list of male merchants, especially in the areas of smithing and arcane objects (soul gems, etc) far outnumber the female merchants. Only the apothecary profession has more female merchants than male.
  • Merchant - The ability to sell any item to any merchant is the most useful perk from this skill tree.

Pieces, places, poisons and potions

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

Pieces

<PENDING>

Places

Poisons

Potions