Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Character Builds Guide

By   /   Nov 11, 2011


There aren’t many builds you can create in Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. What makes them unique is, the perk selection that will be entirely depended on the personal preferences. On top of that, you can learn crafting and enhance your armor to make your character more formidable against enemies.

Following are the recommended character builds you can play with in Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. As I have already stressed in our Skills and Perks Guide, your character progression will depend on your choice of skills and perks you level up.

Note. I won’t go down into detail why certain races are good with certain character builds. If you are interested in reading that, read our Race Guide.

For more help, read our Walkthrough, Skills and Perk Tree, and Crashes Troubleshooting Guide.

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Character Builds

Other Character Builds

Note. Don’t forget to read our Archetypes Guide for more help on the subject.

One-Handed Warrior

Imperial, Nords, and Redguards are suitable races to become good one-handed warriors. Your heavy armor in this character build is your greatest ally and will help you fight even the toughest of enemies in Skyrim.

You may move slow and have difficulty fighting at the start, but you will soon become an effective one-handed warrior when you level up the perks above.

Learn the restoration magic or have some healing items for emergencies since you will most probably be fighting up close and personal, which leaves you vulnerable all the time.

You can’t sneak with heavy armor though, it will make noise. So, if you are planning to sneak, wearing light armor will help. It will also help you get through the dungeons, just keep it slow and you can easily find a way through your enemies to the place where you want them to be.

Don’t even thing of going head-on with Light Armor, you may be skilled enough to do that, but it won’t be an effective strategy in the long run. You are vulnerable in close combat and since you have less protection with light armor, it’s not a good idea to go head-on.

If you don’t want to go offense, level up Restoration and stick to healing and protection spells to make your way through any situation. Level up all the defenses perks in Restoration but don’t bother about the offense.

You already have a powerful one-handed weapon in your hand so you are better off without these offensive spells. They aren’t effective either.

Skills To Level Up
You should level up Block, One-Handed, Smithing, Heavy Armor, Restoration, Light Armor and Sneak to enhance your combat effectiveness as a one-handed warrior.

Perks To Level Up
You are limited to 70 perks at one time, that means you can’t level up all the perks in the skills specified above. If you want to enhance your combat effectiveness as a one-handed warrior, choose these perks to level up.

Block
Shield Wall, Deflect Arrows and Elemental Protection

One-Handed
Armsman, Fighting Stance, Savage Strike, Critical Charge.

Smithing
Arcane Blacksmith – Level up either top or bottom part of the perk tree subjected to whatever armor you wear.

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Heavy Armor
Juggernaut, Well Fitted, Tower of Strength, Matching Set, Reflect Blows.

Restoration
Novice Restoration, Regeneration, Respite, Recovery, Avoid Death

Light Armor
Level up all perks to increase your defense to make up for the light armor.

Sneak
Stealth, Muffled Movement, Light Food, Silent Roll, Silence, Backstab

Two-Handed Warrior

Nords and Orcs can become good Two-Handed Warriors. Two-Handed Warriors need to be good in offense and mobile. This is why, you need to level up Heavy Armor perk tree fully.

Remember, for offense you need fast mobility and by leveling up all the perks under Heavy Armor, your movement will improve and you will fight more effectively wearing heavy armor.

Since you don’t have any shield equipped, it would be a good idea to level up Restoration skill, so you can heal yourself when needed. Two-Handed character build is really effective offensive build but it becomes so, only when you have level up these perks.

Skills To Level Up
Heavy Armor, Restoration, Smithing, Two Handed

Perks To Level Up

Heavy Armor
Level up all perks under Heavy Armor Skill.

Restoration
Novice Restoration, Regeneration, Respite, Recovery, Avoid Death

Smithing
Arcane Blacksmith – You can level up either top or bottom part of the perk tree subjected to whatever armor you use.

Two Handed
Level up all the perks on the right path. Once you have leveled them up, level up the perks that compliment your weapon.

Thief

If you want to become Stealthy little thief (not little ofcourse), choose among Argonian, Khajiit, and Wood Elf races. Thieves aren’t meant to fight, they are meant to steal and vanish. That’s why it’s important that you level up Archery to combat opponents at range and use Illusion to keep yourself hidden around enemies.

There ability to stay undetected around enemies, allow Thieves to quickly retrieve any valuable item and leave the area swarming with enemies without bothering to fight.

Train one-handed weapon just for quick kills by sneaking up on enemies, but don’t level up any of its perks. You can make this stealth kill more deadly by enchanting your short-blade and then using it for this purpose.

If you don’t want to move close to the enemy, just poison your arrows and take a head-shot. Skyrim supports one-shot kills so it shouldn’t be difficult for you to snipe any enemy at range.

Skills To Level Up
Archery, Illusion, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak

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Perks To Level Up

Archery
Level up all the perks in this perk tree.

Illusion
Illusion, Kindred mage, Hypnotic Gaze, Aspect of Terror, Rage, Quiet Casting

Light Armor
Level up this perk tree fully.

Lockpicking
Golden Touch, Treasure Hunter, Locksmith

Pickpocket
Light Fingers, Poisoned, Extra Pockets

Sneak
Stealth, Muffled Movement, Backstab, Deadly Aim, Assassins Blade and Silence.

Go to next page to read about Assassin, Mage, Battle Mage and Dual Wield character builds.

On this page, you will read detailed guide on Assassin, Mage, Battle Mage and Dual Wield character builds.

Assassin

Khajiit and Wood Elf races can become good assassins with their racial abilities and unique powers. It’s not easy to play Assassin, you need a good understand of the skills and perks and should have experience fighting with least armor.

You should be good at spells, poisons, potions and equipment, if you are to survive as an Assassin. Assassin is stealth based character build so Illusion and Alteration come in handy.

Because you are relying more on magic than ever, you should probably wear magic boosting equipment. It’s a trade-off, it also makes you vulnerable against melee but you can use Alteration Magic to balance this vulnerability – by increasing your armor.

You can also level up Mage Armor perk to increase your armor rating when you cast Oakflesh spell. Again, you should be really good at these defensive spells and probably should set them as favorites so you can easily swap through these spells.

As an Assassin, you should never engage in a head-on fight, instead opt for Stealth and sneak up on your target with a sword in one hand and a paralyze spell in the other.

Hit your target and then immediately cast paralyze spell to hinder their movement. If you are successful in sneaking up on your target, swap the spell with another weapon and dual attack the target. It’s a good offensive strategy and you can take most of the enemies you encounter in Skyrim using it.

Skills To Level Up
Alchemy, Alteration, Illusion, Lockpicking, One-Handed, Sneak

Perks To Level Up

Alchemy
Alchemy, Physician, Poisoner, Concentrated Poison, Snakeblood.

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Alteration
Level up all the perks under this skill except Alteration Dual Casting.

Illusion
Animage, Kindred Mage, Quiet Casting

Lockpicking
Quick Hands, Wax Keys, Locksmith, Unbreakable

One-Handed
Armsman, Bladesman, Dual Flurry, Dual Savagery

Sneak
Stealth, Muffled Movement, Backstab, Silence

Mage

Breton and High Elf can become good Pure Mages. Playing as a Pure Mage gives you flexibility to level up your favorite perk trees fully and choose your own path to become a devastating Pure Mage. It gives you enough flexibility to play in any particular way and still be successful.

With the Destruction/Restoration perk build, you will be limited to few damage dealing spells and healing spells – which makes things easy really but if you like more options, go for Alteration/Conjuration. You can use Alteration spells to buff yourself and debuff your enemy and then call your creatures to attack your foes.

If you want to focus on Conjuration, limit yourself to summoning and raising spells and level up perks that boost your defense. Avoid Bond weapons as a Pure Mage because they are meant to be used by Battle Mage.

Skills To Level Up
Alchemy, Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Enchantment, Illusion, Restoration

Perks To Level Up

Conjuration/Alteration
Level Up all perks.

Destruction/Restoration
Level Up all perks.

Note. Trick is to level up two of your favorite primary perk trees and then spend some time leveling up secondary perks.

Battle Mage

Breton, Dunmer, Imperial, and Redguard can become good Battle Mage with their racial abilities and powers. Battle Mage isn’t an easy character build to play.

You will need a lot of practice and patience if you want to become a lethal Battle Mage. You should be really good with micromanagement of spells and weapons, even the shields if you want to take maximum benefit being a Battle Mage.

As a Battle Mage, you can wield bound weapons and use them in combat effectively. Go for Mystic Binding for more damage. Most effective strategy in combat being a Battle Mage is to summon your creatures and enage in melee combat with your magic weapon and defensive shield up.

Skills To Level Up
Alteration, Block, Conjuration, Enchantment, Heavy Armor, One-Handed, Restoration

Perks To Level UP

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Alteration
Level up all perks but leave Dual Casting and Mage Armor.

Block
Shield Wall, Deflect Arrows, Elemental Protection, Block Runner

Conjuration
Mystic Binding

Enchantment
Enchanter, Soul Squeezer, Soul Siphon, Corpus Enchanter, Extra Effect.

Heavy Armor
Level up all perks.

One-Handed
Armsman, Fighting Stance, Savage Strike, Critical Charge and weapon specific perks.

Restoration
Recovery, Respite, Ward Absorb.

Dual-Wield

It’s the most difficult character build to play because using two weapons at once makes you vulnerable to every enemy. This is because, you have sacrificed most of your defense if not all for better offense, which isn’t even effective against most of the enemies.

Dual-Wield may help you finish off few enemies quickly but against tough enemies, you will suffer a lot of damage, which reduces your chances to survive that fight.

Simply put, you should never go for Dual-Wield as you constant fighting style. If you want to dual-wield (Let’s assume you can’t live without it), lock your enemy with a spell like Paralyze and then finish him with a dual wield attack.

As pointed out in comments: You still have a defense. It is known mainly as backpedaling and dodging. using this effectively, you can overtake enemies of a much higher level, like trolls for example, without even taking damage.

I have survived efficiently so far pure dual wielding and some bow use. Your opinion is simply false, as you probably haven’t even tried it. The ignorant can impress the ignorant, but those of knowledge continue laughing at the absurd nonsense you present. Thanks for the tips P1atypus.

Now, go kill the dragons and save Skyrim from the civil war!

Don’t forget to share your own favorite character builds and tips on character progression in the comments below!