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Character guide: Lord of the Butterflies

Discussion in 'The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim' started by Sir Rechet, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    [​IMG] Character guide: Lord of the Butterflies

    Part 1: OK, so what is this?
    ====================
    This is a character build that puts as many skills as possible into use, and actually has reasons to do so. This build is for, and created by, a power gamer that doesn't want to spoil a game just because an exploit exists, rather than puts the skills available into their intended use and actually wants to EARN any advancement. Due to the way skills and levelling in Skyrim work, this character cannot be put under just one label without missing some aspects of it. Not only is the skill selection much broader than in many character builds, the process through which this character achieves it all is also unique in that it goes through several very different phases of development, all the way down to game play choices and enchants used. The closest concept I could think of are the different metamorphosis stages a butterfly goes through, hence the name. Yes, it’s a stupid name, but the same can be said about trying to cram this character under just one moniker.

    This character build has the following key features:
    - Achieves extremely high character levels as a part of its design, rather than the end result of exploiting loopholes, all the way to 81 (the cap)
    - Always has a strong attack at his disposal and means of surviving tougher fights
    - Is playable at Master level without resorting to cheesy tactics
    - Has no need of a follower, but can CHOOSE to have one if desired

    A word of warning for those that are playing Skyrim for the first time: Stop reading this guide RIGHT NOW and go play with whatever character YOU think you’d like. The guide is jam-packed with spoilers and much of the process described here probably won’t make much sense unless you’ve tested the ropes yourself for a while. Skyrim is one of those very few games that allow you to be ANYTHING you like and be successful at it, so don’t sell yourself short by letting somebody else tell you how to play the game during your first play through. This is the advice I received myself, and I’m still thankful for actually taking it. I promise you that you will, too.

    Part 2: Character creation
    ====================
    Since Skyrim is a very open-ended sandbox game, it’s worth pointing out that you don’t pick anything else besides the name and the looks for your character. Whatever you end up using defines what you’re good at. Toss away the standard RPG notions of class and limitations; Skyrim is about what YOU want your character to be. Your initial choice of race is a minor detail in the grand scheme of things, but here are some pointers to help you decide.

    - The initial skill points are very much irrelevant. At the peak of importance, they allow you to pick 2/5 of the first perk available in many perk trees straight away upon reaching level 3. By the time you reach that, you will have gained at least 10-15 skill-ups in various skills, and depending on what you’ve developed, that could already be more than what your “optimal” race choice had to begin with.
    - Out of the abilities available, only Altmer’s +50 magicka and Breton’s +25% magic resistance have any notable long term relevance. Everything else is easily bested/made obsolete by enchants or just plain not very notable to begin with.
    - Out of the powers available, Adrenaline Rush (Redguard), Berserker Rage (Orc), Histskin (Argonian) and Highborn (Altmer) are the only ones not easily replicable with a spell in the game.

    My personal recommendation would be Altmer or Breton, but this guide won’t make any assumptions of selecting either.

    This character needs a base magicka of just 180 (to be able to cast Bound Bow at low levels), and doesn’t need any Stamina past the base amount until very high levels, and not past 200 then either. Therefore, this character ends up with over 700 of BASE health, easily surpassing any average warrior that only gets to level 50 or so without all the extra skills at high levels as is case here.

    Part 3: Concepts, tips and tricks
    ========================
    Rather than dive straight into the actual character build, there are some concepts that the reader should know about first. Since I’ve written and/or contributed to many of these recently, there’s no point in copy-pasting it all here. There’s also a metric ton of background information about the choices made in this guide, without me having to write it all again. I’ll gather it all into a stand-alone guide if I decide to write a broader “Powergamer’s Guide to Skyrim character development” sort of thing one day. :)

    Crafting to the limit:
    http://www.sorcerers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=57305

    Armor cap and you:
    http://www.sorcerers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=57415

    Thread about the precursor to this build (including how to do pickpocket training, how to get to the armor cap, some pointers in what to do at the very beginning of the game and most of the reasoning this guide is based on):
    http://www.sorcerers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=57289

    Most of this guide concentrates on how to get you to that elusive character level 81 with the least amount of IRL time and/or mouse clicks, without resorting to exploits. This includes planning ahead how you want to use your training points (or rather, opportunities to train) so that they’re put where they give the most bang for the buck. While unnecessary in the strictest sense of word as you could just train everything yourself through use, some skills just take so long time to train or are incompatible with what you should/want be doing instead that a little planning pays off very easily.

    Part 4: Skills and perks and when to get them
    ===================================
    Just listing the perks this character is ultimately going to end up with at the extremely high levels is bound to create more confusion rather than bring clarity to things, so I’ll skip it for now. Instead, there are a few important stages to aim for with your perks selection, and each one of them requires a more thorough explanation. For now, I’m assuming you actually WANT to use Destruction spells extensively yourself, but I’ll detail a plan for a build that skips it in its entirety because let’s face it, it’s not exactly powerful as a dps skill. Ever.

    Stage One: Early game.
    This is what you do on your way from the execution block at Helgen until you reach Whiterun for the first time. Character levels: 1 to 8 (max). You do NOT, I repeat, do NOT want to level up before reaching Riverwood, as that’s the earliest opportunity for you to train and you only ever get 5 chances to train per character level, including the very first. This stage also contains the trip to Halted Stream Camp to fetch the Transmute spell book, if you want to go through a challenging fight now. Otherwise, you can do it after the next phase. Anything you can kill with Flames at this point, you probably should as Destruction levels so extremely slow, so any early points you get into it now are points you don’t need to train for later. You might even consider using a shield together with Flames, as your magicka bar doesn’t support dual casting Flames anyway, and you might snap up a few points in Block, even though it’s not a part of your long time plan to use the skill. You can also shield bash with one, sort of imitating having the Impact perk already.

    You have seven perk points to distribute, assuming your character’s race starts without extra skill points in Archery and you abstain from using it in Helgen. This is after Faendal has trained you to 50 in Archery skill. To be able to actually train with him, you need to complete his quest of delivering a fake letter to Camilla at the Riverwood trader (so that he becomes available as a follower) and gather a nest egg of at least 550 gold to pay for a training session all the way to 50. After every training session, just talk to him and ask your money back, “I need to trade some things with you.” DO NOT pickpocket your money back as you will level too fast if you do! For the very same reason, it’s a good idea to put off any crafting until you reach Whiterun, just gather the materials for now.

    Perks to take are Light Fingers 1/5 (to be able to pickpocket train better at stage two), Overdraw 3/5 (to boost your first primary dps skill) and Haggling 1/5 (to improve prices straight away). Any leftovers should be put to get Alchemist 1/5 and Enchanter 1/5, although Stealth 1/5 is also a decent pick for your trip to Whiterun, especially if you decide to tackle HSC now. Although I generally loathe having followers with me due to the way they can get lost, take extremely long detours or such, having Faendal with you to HSC is recommended if you do it now.

    Stage Two: Pickpocket training.
    Character levels: about 8 to 22. This stage does NOT include much, if any, crafting or questing, as you run the risk of levelling past your next set of training points if you do. Instead, you hop from a trainer to another, requiring a carriage trip to at least Winterhold and either Markarth or Solitude (for Speech training), although Riften is also recommended for easy access to the Thieves Guild quests.

    Important skills to train now are Speech (to 50 to be able to pick Merchant), Conjuration (40 is required to be able to buy the spell books for Bound Bow and Frost Atronach, but preferably 50 if you also want to be able to pick Adept Conjuration right away) and Destruction (to 40 for Impact). That could be as many as 95 training points, requiring 19 level-ups, so skimp on Destruction if you’re short.

    Perks to pick now, apart from the 8 already mentioned, include Allure and Merchant (Speech, to be able to start selling off potions to any merchant you come across); Novice/Apprentice/Adept Conjuration (to be able to conjure up a Frost Atronach AND your main dps weapon in the form of Bound Bow in quick succession with just one magicka bar); Novice Destruction, Destruction Dual Casting, Impact, Augmented Flames and Augmented Frost (to make it easier to actually kill something with Destruction, whenever Frosty+Bound Bow is overkill); Night Thief and Cutpurse (to make pickpocket training easier). That’s only 20 perks total so far, so you’ll have some spare points left. They’re destined for your crafting skills soon enough, so resist the urge of putting them all around the place, although Novice Restoration makes you able to heal for doubly as much with that Healing spell, improving both your survivability and your chances of gaining experience for the Restoration skill.

    Stage Three: Crafting & questing.
    Character levels: about 22 to 50+. It’s only now, after reaching 100 in Pickpocket skill, you start questing and crafting in earnest. You’ll have your Frost Atronach and Bound Bow as your tank and your primary dps, respectively. However, don’t forget that since you get cast experience for both of them only when you’re actually in combat, it is probably a good idea to start off combat with something else. Depending on the situation, that could be a Sneak attack with your regular bow, laying a Rune on a narrow spot through which your enemies must come to reach you (magicka permitting), or playing a diversion by shooting an arrow to attract the attention of a part of the group ahead of you. Anything easy should still be disposed of with Destruction. Get your hands on the spells Water breathing, Muffle and Oak/Stoneflesh and start casting them whenever the situation calls for it, and don’t forget that it’s NOT actually desirable to emerge completely undamaged from a fight so that you miss a chance to patch it up with Restoration and to get some early training on your armor skills. Make a point of doing the quest Unfathomable Depths at your earliest convenience, as it greatly enhances your survivability.

    During this period, you’re mostly training your Archery and Conjuration skills yourself, apart from all the crafting you do. It’s probably easiest to clear dungeons only one at a time, so that you can fill any blanks in your level advancement with crafting without the risk of missing your training sessions for each and every level. Early on during this phase, enchant any piece you can with Fortify Archery, put Fortify Destruction in your body armor and Sneak on your boots. Once you get 5/5 Enchanter, you can finally create strong enough Destruction magicka cost reduction pieces to be able to use it as your primary dps, dualcasting Fireballs or whatever strikes your fancy. Don’t forget that this also makes it possible to have a dualcast Cloak spell active 24/7 and any time you expect opposition (ie. behind EVERY corner in your average dungeon), that’s probably a good spot to drop a dualcast Rune. Don’t forget that you can and should summon your Frosty if you have a reason to expect getting mobbed so that it can take at least some of the heat off of you, and don’t forget to upgrade it to a Dremora Lord once you reach 75 Conjuration and can pick Expert Conjuration!

    Although the level span seems rather large, you’re levelling so many skills at once that the levels will literally fly by at warp speed. Even more so since now is the perfect time to get a majority of the skills NOT included in this character’s active use list trained off with training points. In this case, that’s Two-handed and Block. However, as Block is much, much easier to train yourself than Restoration is, you could also consider using a shield without perks in the early parts of the next stage, and train Restoration instead. It’s up to you. Any leftover points should be used to boost your Destruction skill, as it gets really slow to level yourself past the 60s and 70s.

    Perks to take during this period include everything that has to do with crafting, ie. Steel/Elven/Arcane Smithing, all ranks of Alchemist and Enchanter, Physician, Benefactor, Insightful Enchanter, Fire & Frost Enchanter, Corpus Enchanter and Extra Effect; Novice Illusion, Animage, Kindred Mage and Quiet casting from Illusion as soon as you can; Backstab, Deadly Aim and Assassin’s Blade from Sneak; Extra Pockets from Pickpocketing (useful pick much earlier but not strictly necessary); Novice/Apprentice Alteration and Magic Resistance 3/3; second perk in both Augmented <Elements> in Destruction and Expert Conjuration for Dremora Lords. Don’t forget to max Overdraw whenever your Archery skill allows it. Together with the 21 perks already mentioned, that’s 57 perks used. Depending on how many levels you actually manage to gather up by the time you’re maxed in all crafting skills, this could mean anything from you missing a couple of perk points (for reference, doing nothing but crafting without any questing gets you to about level 48 at this stage) to having a couple extra, so adjust accordingly.

    Stage Four: Ascension.
    Now that you’ve finally maxed your crafting skills, it’s time to create the ultimate gear you’ve been eager to get your hands on all along. Craft a pair of Elven daggers and a bow with Fire+Frost enchants. Get to the armor cap aided by Ancient Knowledge (quest reward for completing Unfathomable Depths, which you SHOULD have done a long, long time ago), your best +armor buff (usually Stoneflesh), Lord Stone, by wearing a shield whenever going to melee and/or utilizing the metric ton of Fortify Light/Heavy armor potions you’ve probably created by now. Re-create your gear with double enchants, giving priority to Magic Resistance and Archery, and fill the remaining ones with Magicka cost reduction for the magic school you like using the most. Destruction if you’re still not bored in (trying) to train it yourself, Alteration if you like Ebonyflesh and (Mass) Paralyzing your opponents from range and/or whole groups at a time, Illusion otherwise. Use the extra available slot in your gauntlets and boots for Fortify Sneak, and in case you do some early melee combat with a shield, Magic Resistance plus Fortify Block allows you to train your Block skill to 100 in short order, especially if you make a point of clearing all the available Giant Camps every month using that specific setup.

    Your levelling speed will slow down considerably since you no longer fast-track it with the help from crafting as previously. Make a point of using all the skills that are yet not maxed, as long as they’re at least half-reasonable for the task at hand. You should be trained to max in everything you absolutely MUST train with training points by now, so feel free to drop a few stray points to round off Destruction as that’s the by far slowest leveller of all the skills in the game. Once you get it to 90, it takes literally ages to get just +1 skill-up in it yourself, but it doesn’t mean you should just stop trying, so keep placing Runes wherever applicable. You could even have fun with it by trying to bring down a Mammoth with Flames & shield bash alone just because you can?

    Your most important skills are already perked to max or very close to it, with the exception of your One-handed skill. Now that you have lots of hit points, can get to armor cap with a combination of buffs and/or a shield AND can pretty much Sneak around a guard in broad daylight, it’s time to bring the hurt on enemies by Sneak attacking them with your newly made daggers. That levels the skill like crazy, especially since most of the enemies you meet are at maximum spawn level so there’s a lot of hit points to backstab through.

    Most of the perks at this stage are devoted to finally boosting One-handed (to Armsman 5/5, Fighting stance, Savage Strike, Dual Flurry 2/2 and Dual Savagery for 10 total points) to become your ultimate crown jewel in damage dealing, but depending on how much advancement you get on your other skills, you could have a whole lot extras to spread around. At this stage, nothing else is really NECESSARY anymore, but there’s no reason not to add to the amount of tools available by getting the remaining perks in the Illusion tree (Hypnotic Gaze, Aspect of Terror, Rage, Master of the Mind and Illusion Dual Casting to be able to Frenzy anything in the game), or if you prefer Paralyze, adding Stability and Adept/Expert/Master Alteration so that you only need two slots for magicka reduction to cast a long-lasting Mass Paralyze and Ebonyflesh/Dragonhide. There’s not much point in having perks for both of them, and using dual-cast Illusion spells requires at least two or three magicka cost reduction items to be able to use them with your base magicka bar, so plan your enchants accordingly. Finally, if you have extra points lying around, don’t hesitate to boost your Archery further by adding Eagle Eye, Power Shot and Quick shot, and Restoration has a lot of half-useful perks in Respite, Regeneration, Recovery 2/2 and Avoid Death if you STILL can’t find a place for your all 80 points at the level cap.

    Stage Five: Godhood.
    With every relevant skill maxed and perked, there’s a fully developed answer to absolutely everything the game throws at you. You can snipe with the best of them, you’re absolute monster with your backstabs, you can trap much better than just about any thief build I’ve seen so far since Destruction is not exactly a common pick for common thieves. You even have a choice of hanging back while the best summon in the whole game, the Dremora Lord, slices the enemies FOR you. You can just Frenzy them so that the pack kills itself/Mass Paralyze them and kill them with a pair of toothpicks if that’s your flavour of the day. Fire Storm them into Oblivion if you like. You have the armor rating of a full-blown Knight without any wasted perks in either armor skill, not to mention a whole lot more base hit points to boot. You’re invisible at will for all practical purposes, can steal just about anything less than a medium-sized chest filled with gold directly out of the fingers of anyone and even if you somehow got caught, you have the charm to talk yourself out of it or can afford to Bribe everyone in a mile radius, being the best crafter on the entire planet in all three common trades.

    There’s still one thing giving you a moment’s pause: Master level locks. However, I guess that’s justified as if you didn’t have even THAT holding you back, you’d run the risk of it getting to your head. You could end up wasting Alduin, The Emperor and taking on all the nine holds. Simultaneously. While making Fus-Ro-Dah jokes while sparring with Chuck Norris himself. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  2. Paracelsi

    Paracelsi Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    The best non-mage summon you mean. Boy was that a long read. I think you managed to cover all the bases though, or all the ones relevant to the playstyle. Very thoroughly, I might add. This is like the longest table of contents/summary ever XD. A very good guide, but it might be too long for some imo.
     
  3. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    @Paracelsi: No, best summon of all types. The master level summons don't hold a candle against a Dremora, as they're just permanent versions of the lesser summons. ;) Only Atromancy and Summoner perks affect Dremoras, and none of those improve their stats in any way - you can just summon the further away and they last longer. The latter is actually a NEGATIVE aspect if you're still training your Conjuration skill!

    Part 5: Variant build
    ===============
    As noted above, Destruction has issues. It costs ginormous amounts of magicka since the spells themselves are too weak to drop anything tougher with single casts, so you need to spam cast. To be able to stagger via Impact, you need to be dualcasting, which further compounds the magicka issue – even the lowly Firebolt requires 114 base magicka a pop when dualcast, ie. about 80-100 with the corresponding skill levels. That just isn’t sustainable for any reasonable amount of time unless you can get your hands on a set of equipment lowering Destruction magicka costs with at least 90 percent or so. And to be able to do that, you need to have at least 4/5, preferably 5/5 Enchanter perk, which takes a while to acquire. So you have to get by with something else in the meanwhile.

    When you finally DO get such an item set, you could also use the very same enchant slots you used to make Destruction usable to boost, say, Archery into such dizzy heights that it leaves Destruction into the dust any day of the week, twice on Sundays. Not only that, but since this build does all three crafting skills along the way, you can improve any standard bow so that it does just about as much damage as your hardest hitting spells from Destruction, and rather easily at that. It’s just not a fair match when most other damage skills scale with both the skill itself, a row of perks AND anything you can get from Smithing (the REALLY big one). Sure, the Expert level spells can be perked to hit for 90 points, 198 when dual-cast, so you could argue that the power is already built in the spells themselves, but it’s not even hard to reach 500 damage per hit with a bow, just as long as you boost your Smithing improvements with all of your crafting skills.

    As if that wasn’t enough already, you’ll quickly notice that Destruction is by far the slowest levelling skills in all of Skyrim. It’s possible to go through entire dungeons using nothing but Destruction to kill everything and not get a full skill level increase to show for it. Once you get into the 80s and 90s, you could need an entire quest line involving several different dungeons just for one skill-up.

    Therefore, it’s completely OK to think that Destruction should become a third skill that’s just never used for anything, but instead trained to 90 with training points and just forevermore forgotten after that, except MAYBE for the occasional Rune as a trap for shits and giggles.

    Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t remove a whole lot perks from the build, since both Augmented Flames and Augmented Frost in the Destruction tree have another, arguably more important role than boosting your Destruction spells themselves. Namely, they’re there to boost your Fire+Frost weapon enchants, so that you get up to 81+81 damage out of those, instead of just 31+31 as you would with the Enchanting perks alone. However, both Dualcasting and Impact are only useful if you actually us the spells, so they can be dropped for two freebie perk points. Even if you fail to reach level 81 since you could now max out at 90 in both Two-handed and Destruction, you still have an extra perk to play with so don’t sweat it.

    The levelling and skill usage plan stays as it is, except that you take a shortcut from being an Archer/Conjuror with your Frosty+Bound Bow directly into training your melee skills, once your crafting skills allow it. You’re going to need to devote another 50 training points to get your Destruction skill to 90, but since the original plan already includes using some stray points to train exactly that, the actual difference in training could be as little as 30 or even 20 points. You can easily compensate for this by training Blocking and/or Restoration more yourself – all you really need is some tough monsters beating you while you keep blocking everything they throw at you, and you’ll get plenty of that without even looking for it since you’ll go melee much, much earlier than the standard build. So no matter which path you take, the end result will be just about the same, minus the dualcasted runes as traps.

    Part 6: Maths, formulas & geek stuff
    ============================
    Here’s a collection of various formulas that fundamentally changed the way I look at certain things in this game. You might, too.

    Armor rating:
    Simplified, Armor = BaseArmor x Perk x Skill x MatchedSet.
    The thing that is NOT readily apparent is that BaseArmor is actually whatever your worn armor pieces have as base values (no news here, yet) PLUS whatever you get from Smithing, separately for each and every piece worn (holy crap!). Since triple crafts can boost Smithing all the way to +92/+46 improvements (first number for body armor ONLY), or +100/+50 with Ancient Knowledge, that’s +250 base armor without shield or +300 with it. Compare this to the best armor set of them all, Daedric, which only gives 144 armor (including shield) and you’ll quickly notice that the choice of material is largely irrelevant as long as you can get your Smithing bonus up there. Also, since Armor skill is something you will eventually max without even devoting much thought to it, you get 1.4 multiplier from skill as a freebie, and Ancient Knowledge gives another 1.25, you don’t actually need any perks to reach armor cap. Good riddance! Just make sure you actually have a Smithing perk for what you’re improving or you’ll only get roughly half the benefit from it, but there’s hardly ever a reason to go past Steel, or if you’re dead set on Light armors, Elven.

    Physical weapon damage:
    Simplified, you have BaseDamage x Perk x Skill x Enchants x TempEffects.
    Since everything here multiplies with each other, it’s usually better to make sure you get at least some benefit from all categories rather than trying to only optimize any single multiplier. Also, the same deal as with armor applies to BaseDamage – that’s what your weapon has as a base value plus whatever you get from Smithing, and in the case of bows, the bonus from the arrow you’re using. Since the damage bonus from Smithing is direct addition, this clearly favors the fastest swinging weapons, ie. swords and the lightest bows. Two-handed weapons are penalized twice: First because they swing so slow and second time from needing both hands with nothing extra to show for it. The bonus from Smithing becomes much greater than the base damage difference between a puny Steel Sword and a Daedric Warhammer. Daggers are a special case in that they’re clearly the fastest weapons available, but they do NOT benefit from One-handed enchants, but are still useful weapons for a backstabber due to the enormous x15 damage multiplier available for Sneak attacks with a dagger. Just make sure that you have a Smithing perk for whatever you’re improving, just that anything past Steel is largely aesthetical improvement. In case of bows, even though you can’t craft Hunting Bows yourself, they’re still improved using the Steel perk.

    Enchanting, Alchemy and perks:
    Although the perk investment required to max out the benefit from both of these is significant (Enchanting at least 8, preferably 10, Alchemy at least 7), the difference of using the perk points here is much greater than any other thing you could be using the same amount of perk points for.

    Take One-handed, for example. You can get +100% damage as direct multiplier, plus a couple of perks enhancing the power attacks made by these weapons. Even if a situation where you would actually have to choose between maxing Enchanting OR One-handed seems far-fetched, you’d actually be better off by maxing Enchanting instead as you can get at least +160% from Fortify One-handed enchants. And that’s even before you count the effect you get by applying the same Enchanting skill to boost your Smithing improvements to much, much higher than you could without it!

    Same deal with Alchemy. Although the direct effect potions are only temporary effects, it allows the creation of much, much better Fortify Smithing potions, which are effectively permanent effects since you only need to boost your Smithing skill when you’re actually improving your item set. Besides, Alchemy is by far the greatest money-maker in Skyrim from the word go, only limited by the amount of gold available at merchants willing to buy your potions. Merchant perk from Speech greatly widens the selection for such places.

    Summons:
    In most other RPGs, summons are either cannon fodder or greatly limited in the amount you can summon per one rest period. Not so in Skyrim. Especially if you play at Master difficulty, it helps to know that your summons don’t take extra damage from enemies and score full damage to them, unlike yourself. Even though the wolf you get out of Summon Familiar is just that – a puny wolf – there’s no need to despair, as the better ones are just around the corner. Flame Atronach (Apprentice) has a decent ranged attack, but if you’re looking for a tank, Frost Atronach (Adept) is what you’re looking for. Not only is it a decent melee fighter, it also comes equipped with a frost aura effect that slows the enemies and damages them. In short, Frosty is the Skyrim’s equivalent to having Holy Freeze mercenary from Diablo 2. And it’s just a summon, so you just conjure another should it meet an untimely death! Finally, there’s Dremora Lord (Expert). These guys are fairly small (compared to Frosties anyway) and smart enough to follow you around through tight passages and corners just as well (or badly, depending on how you look at it) as any follower would. Although the best part of them is undeniably their attack. That two-handed sword is enough to one-shot many monsters, and even medium-leveled ones such as Giant Frostbite Spiders can only take two hits.

    Best of all, since Bound Bow is such a hugely effective weapon, you already have a decent incentive to pick everything up to Adept Conjuration so that you can conjure it with modest magicka cost. This also makes it possible to conjure up a Frosty right before with this build’s base magicka bar. Therefore, picking up Expert Conjuration is a real bargain to get Dremoras online, without any needs for Fortify Conjuration enchants occupying your precious enchant slots anywhere.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  4. Paracelsi

    Paracelsi Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Nope, the difference between an undead thrall and a dremora lord is significant. Short version: I can stick a few OP gear into a dead body before animating it. Long version: Includes how thralls can be used as packmules, they're recyclable (won't disintegrate on death), they scale with levels (you're basically bringing a dead humanoid to life under your command), and they get to keep whatever skills they had in life (this one is a big plus). As it also happens, with the Twin Souls perk I can have two undead thralls. This leaves my character free to rain devastation on my enemies with Destruction/Impact.

    There's more than one way to powergame, the balance of power doesn't only favor the warrior path.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  5. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    Oh, you're comparing to a Thrall.. That's not exactly a summon, last I checked. :p But yeah, those can potentially become plenty powerful, especially if you can equip them yourself?? And you're right in that I totally missed Twin Souls.

    Now, if only summons in general weren't such a mess on my computer.. that could actually sound tempting.
     
  6. Paracelsi

    Paracelsi Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Yep. So far I think it's the only way to powergame a mage tbh.

    You can't exactly equip gear to them, but their AI functions much like your companion's. They will always use the items in their inventories with the highest (base) stats, something Aldeth noticed. Some will use potions, some will not.

    It's the same for normal undead summons, though the corpse disintegrates once the spell ends. You can use a dead thrall scroll though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  7. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I really like this build, if for no other reason that you change your playstyle throughout the game. I also have a plan to 81, but what my character actually does is pretty much the same at level 30 as it is at level 80.

    On the topic of summons however, I do notice that you do slow down for a while when you level Conjuration, and it comes at a very specific point - it happens when you stop using bound weapons and start using the ones you made yourself. Even combat casting a Frost Atronach levels Conjuration very slowly. As strange as it may sound, from playing it seems like even at higher levels the biggest experience bang for you casting buck might still be good old bound sword.

    And I still have a hotkey for it, and I still cast it against the wimpier opponents. I used to do that whenever I got off a horse to fight something, although I don't have to do that anymore with mounted combat now available. (Unfortunately, you cannot cast a bound sword while riding on your horse, or I certainly would. As near as I can tell you can use any weapon, but cannot cast any spells. Now I've only tried doing it with a bow, and with a sword, but I cannot imagine it wouldn't work with crossbows or any one handed weapon. Not sure about two handed weapons.)
     
  8. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    I just realized that LotB (Lord of the Butterflies for short) could also profit from being able to use all six major end-game skills - One-handed, Archery, Destruction, Illusion, Conjuration AND Alteration - with just two item sets. It's all about how to combine them!

    One-handed is the easy one, as that does not require (or rather, does not benefit from) enchants to stay maxed. So that's included no matter what you wear. Conjuration does the same due to the magicka cost reduction perks invested in it. The biggest selling point of Alteration, Paralyze, is barely castable with magicka cost reduction perks (Expert) but Mass Paralyze still requires serious enchant support, especially since there's very good reasons for dual-casting it for extended duration (goes from 15 to 22 seconds, base, from what I've gathered, could be wrong). Both Destruction and Illusion are nearly unusable without enchant support due to the dual-casting going on for them. Finally, since Archery is quite likely the most used skill, how do you combine it with everything listed above, requiring four enchants and all?

    Well, there's one aspect I've overlooked so far. What does Archery and Illusion have in common? They're both single target skills, except for Master Illusion spells, which we've already concluded are mostly for show rather than real utility. Likewise, Mass Paralyze (Alteration) and most everything from Destruction is area of effect. Ar+I is thus better suited for single enemies or small packs, while Al+D has appeal against large crowds, and since LotB has a decent Sneak ability for a multitude of reasons, you can almost always decide ahead of time which item set is preferable for any given situation. Edit: Just came up with a solution how to gather the enemies into a clump for AoE without them foiling the spells for you: Place a summon and do a LoS pull on the pack so that they'll gather around the summon. Sneak into the fray and let loose a dualcast Mass Paralyze. :evil:

    Hence, by having a set for nullifying magicka costs for Alteration + Destruction for AoE encounters and another with Archery + Illusion for everything else is a very strong recommendation for any LotB. If you also make sure that both sets are made of same pieces (say, Steel helm & gauntlets, Elven armor & boots) and do the same for your crafting set, that makes my favorite choice of standing stones, the Steed Stone, three times better as ALL of your armor pieces will weigh nothing, regardless of which set you're actually wearing. :)

    This also further reduces the value of actually getting any of the remaining Alteration perks. Good thing I haven't picked them yet for my FMT, now LotB. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  9. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Hmmm... I'm not so sure I see the big benefit of increasing the paralyze duration from 15 to 22 seconds. How many enemies do you really think you'll have to take out, that you'd need more than 15 seconds to do it? I guess it might have some utility in the civil war questline, but generally speaking you're talking about two, maybe three enemies tops. Actually, wait. Mass Paralyze is a master level spell. Presumably, it's like all the other master level spells i.e., it requires two hands to cast, and therefore cannot be dual cast.

    Only daggers don't benefit from one handed enchantments. And yes, I realize that your build calls for dual wielding daggers, although I cannot exactly figure out why this is. You'll be just as fast with a dagger in the left hand and anything else in your right hand. It seems like you're gimping your one-handed damage by going with daggers.

    I'm actually not a big fan of daggers at all - in case you couldn't tell. I typically don't even take the assassin's blade perk anymore. I have found that backstab with the 6X damage with a highly enchanted sword works equally well - which in this case means a one-hit kill. And that kind of makes sense. Add in the higher base damage of any other one-handed weapon, and figure that you have +168% damage from enchantments with just a base level of crafting, and that goes up as high as +188% damage with triple crafts, and you can see you're talking some serious damage, even if the damage bonuses are simply additive and not multiplicative.

    Finally, I'm not sure I see the benefit of having two sets of gear the way you set them up. It would seem to me that the optimal way of setting up the gear would be two sets, each with an AoE and single target ability on each of them. I think I'd pair up archery with alteration (as sniping them would seem like the quickest way to dispose of multiple targets - although having never used Mass Paralyze I do not know whether or not the enemies will lose their detection ability, and thus you could just backstab them) and the pair up Illusion with Destruction.

    I really think a lot of people don't give Illusion enough credit for it's utility. Perhaps after my personal quest for 81 is complete, I'll make a concept character - actually make a nightingale for shiggles. The maximum Nightingale set is acquired if you do Trinity Restored when your character is level 32 or higher - which is probably achieved without any hassle whatsoever just by doing pickpocket training and the standard thieves guild missions you'd have to do to get to that point anyway. It's almost inconceivable you wouldn't be there at that point. Throw on a reduce illusion cost + archery and reduce illusion cost + one handed jewelry, and you'd probably be in good shape.
     
  10. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    While the master level spells require both hands for the animation, I've seen plenty of reports about that being no obstacle for a dual-cast as long as you have the spell equipped for both hands. Essentially, you get the "LR" notification indicating both hands in use when equipping a two-handed weapon or a bow, but apparently you don't when you equip a Master spell, just either L or R but not both unless you make it so yourself. I haven't confirmed this myself so far, thus the base character build doesn't include it into the official book of tricks, but I guess it could be useful in a couple of ways if you could do that.

    I agree that there's extremely few (if any) mobs in this game requiring more than 15 but less than 22 seconds to kill for the extra time to matter, but if it comes at no extra cost, why not? I already need serious magicka cost reduction to even single cast it with 180 base magicka (68% at the very least), so why not -100% for a dualcast setup?

    That's exactly what I'm doing - gimping myself. On purpose, since one-handed backed up with enchants is just TOO powerful if combined with triple crafts. My previous character had only two such enchants in his apparel and it was already beyond stupid, at Master level no less.

    The fact that going with daggers frees up to four enchanting slots, at least two of them directly competing for the most important ones in Finger and Neck, is the other reason. This allows the full boosting of Archery while still having slots over for effectively nullifying magicka costs for in one school of magic and maxing magic resistance.

    Yes, you get somewhat better backstabs with any other one-hander, since 6x damage multiplier together with +150% damage is effectively the same as 15x damage for daggers. BUT, and this is a big but, it requires four enchants to achieve.

    Multiple targets are, by definition, faster dealt with AoE damage, unless the dps differential is so extremely skewed in the favor of the single target ability that it's still better to stick with it, but even then it's just a matter of finding the required amount of enemies that satisfies the rule. (For comparison, this magic number was set, by Blizzard no less, at exactly three mobs in World of Warcraft.) Besides, having both Alteration and Destruction in one set lets me use the only Master level spells included in the long time plan for LotB without worrying about the major problem of Master spells, long cast time paired with interruptability. Since the mobs will be rigid statues at my feet after the initial Mass Paralyze, which is doable from Sneak or with the summon + LoS pull trick I mentioned above if they're too far apart.

    Remember that for smaller packs, Illusion and Alteration are largely interchangeable in terms of crowd control (Paralyze vs Pacify) and Archery being the by far strongest dps skill for this character, it's just natural that it's used when the expected body count is low, or anytime when there's a reason to abstain from heavy AoE damage. Which is, the way Skyrim is set, a vast majority of situations. Just that heavy AoE is better incorporated as a separate item set, rather than trying to cram it in the one used most of the time.

    Almost makes me wonder why they chose to call the skill Illusion, since apart from Invisibility, most of the stuff available here falls squarely into Enchantment school in Dungeons & Dragons lore. I guess it was because then you'd have Enchantment and Enchanting as skills.. and that'd be a bit confusing, to put it mildly. Any D&D veteran knows that apart from various one-hit kill abilities, Enchantment ranks extremely high on the amount of.. well, CHAOS it can cause on an otherwise well executed strategy. Excuse the pun.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  11. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Oh that's definitely true, no matter how you decide to split the four skills up, the least effective setup would be placing illusion and alteration together.

    Yeah, I get that. My thinking was that you'd pair up an AoE together with a single target attack, so you wouldn't have to completely switch equipment depending on what the encounter called for. Then again, since most of time you'll be dealing with single targets, especially as a stealth character, it may in fact make more sense to pair up two single target skill sets. So maybe that actually is the easiest way to prevent continuous equipment switching.

    I think that's exactly the reason it's not called enchantment. And there really isn't a very good alternative choice for what enchanting would then become... so no matter what you'd do, one of them would have to be mis-named somewhat. And you're right, most of the illusions spells aren't illusion-based. There's invisibility, and I suppose if you stretch it you could dump muffle in there - and Clairvoyance isn't illusion either - it would most appropriately belong in a divination school. Of course there's precious few spells that could be categorized as divination - detect life and detect death would be poached from alteration, but there's really nothing else in the game that would fit there.

    The only alternative would be to mash illusion and enchanting together, but that would make for one massive skill tree. And there's really no other place to switch perks around to make it manageable. Maybe you could argue for shifting Soul Squeezer and Soul Siphon over to the Conjuration tree along the same path as the bound weapons, as there are soul capturing affects on that path too, but that would still leave a massive tree for enchanting.
     
  12. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    Some minor notes about leveling your trade skills.

    As I predicted earlier, it's really your best interest to work on boosting Enchanting first, after which you get direct boost to both Alchemy and Smithing improvements. Buying all the Petty and Lesser soul gems, filled or not, and making a point of killing all wildlife on your path with conjured weaponry when exploring ensures a steady stream of filled soul gems to fuel it.

    However, I wanted to abstain from doing the usual "buy a gazillion ingots, craft, improve & sell" routine to boost Smithing. Instead, I wanted to concentrate more on the improving side of things. Doing it like I did, it really pays off to do it in two separate halves: First get to some decent smithing level with nothing but crafting new items (cue in the Gold jewelry here), and THEN cash in on the improvements once you have both Enchanting and Alchemy backing it up. The amount of exp received from improving items comes from the value delta you apply on the items, ie. there's not much point in re-improving stuff you've improved before even if you reach a new improvement plateau.

    So what you do is you stash away EVERYTHING with decent base value, and make sure you have enough ingots to improve them all at once. Remember that you don't need to have a perk to improve something, it just makes it worth more to do so. By the time your enchanting is at 80+ skill, you ought to have looted a few Ebony, Steel Plated and/or Glass items to augment the ones you've created yourself up to this point. Enchant the best +alchemy and +smithing gear you can, craft some +smithing potions and take EVERYTHING to a nearest workbench/grindstone. Preferably after a visit to the Warrior stone and a good night's rest, of course. You'll be way above your carry limit, but don't worry - once you quaff a +smithing potion, your skill will increase at warp speed, applying all the improvements at levels way past Legendary. For the reference, improving a single suit of Dwarven armor with maxed boosts is good for almost half a level at 90+ smithing skill.

    Quite a difference compared to the old-school Iron daggers rush, eh? :)

    ---------- Added 0 hours, 15 minutes and 30 seconds later... ----------

    As for the build outlined above: I've come to the conclusion that leaving Block out of the picture to get a small dps increase with dualwielding is quite dangerous. Especially since there's a very sizeable portion of the early game where your best method of BOTH dps AND survival lies in the use of Bound Sword together with a shield. Frosty + Bound Bow left me trying to get into unobstructed line of sight all too often to my liking. It also has the added benefit of being able to level Conjuration yourself pretty reasonably, instead of pretty much having to train it to 75 to be able to conjure Dremora Lords.

    Don't get me wrong, I like dps just as much as anyone, but all it takes is a sneaky Draugr Overlord to snipe 80% off your healthbar in one shot to really ruin an otherwise perfect day of dungeoneering. ;)
     
  13. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    Three more things I've overlooked: MR enchants in shields, leveling Alteration and Sneak vs combat skills.

    Shortly put, MR enchant(s) in a shield is a drag. You'll be severely short in MR as soon as you switch to a spell, or god forbid, your bow. A Master Necromancer taught me a few lessons in what that could lead into by wiping me off with a few measly Cold spells, after blocking all of my Paralyze attempts with his Ward.. :p

    Which leads us to the trouble of leveling Alteration. It's really slow and cumbersome to level it in the 40-65 range, as you no longer get almost any advancement with Transmuting and an extra spell switch just to (re)activate your armor boost is easily forgotten and/or saps a whole lot of magicka which might be needed elsewhere. Sure, casting Waterbreathing and/or Telekinesis WILL net you the level(s), but you're pretty soon in the powerleveling exploit territory with those.

    Finally, it appears that a successfull Sneak attack ONLY boosts your Sneak skill, and does squat to your combat skills. I actually had to chip away with my dagger to get level-ups in One-handed, which felt kinda backwards. :p
     
  14. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    Further training optimisation.

    Armor skills.
    Your armor rating WILL be low in the early game no matter what you do, until you finally get Smithing to 100 or at least fairly close to it. This leaves a sizeable level span between 22 to (roughly) 50, where any one of the three easily available armor sets from Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood or the quest "No one escapes Cidhna Mine" are just as good or merely marginally worse in terms of armor rating compared to anything you can craft yourself. Combined with the fact that many of the pre-made enchants in them are a real boon in EARLY game, there's really no big rush to crafting yourself, even more so since 60 Smithing unlocks the ability for you to improve those starter sets! Shrouded Cowl (+20% archery), Thieves Guild Armor (+20 carry), Shrouded Gloves (double backstab with Bound Bow, ouch!) and Boots of the Old Gods (+20% sneak - you already have Muffle from the spell) is rather respectably decent set, and the complete Thieves Guild set is just about optimal city stroll gear for quite a while. Later on, Nightingale armor (Thieves Guild) is arguably better body armor than any of the alternatives so far.

    Even if you want to use either Heavy or Light armors exclusively in the end, you can still train the other past at least the easiest 15-50 skill range yourself - without any extra effort from you - since you have a shield. Paired up with Ancient Knowledge, you'll be at the armor cap already at low armor skill. Dwarven armor only requires 49 skill without any perks or other boosts, but a measly Stoneflesh (Alteration training) drops this requirement all the way to below 15 skill.

    Once you overshoot the armor cap mark by about 30 points, it's cost-free to trade one of your armor pieces for the other armor type, even if this means you need to improve a piece you DON'T have a Smithing perk for. Just remember that shields do not count for training the corresponding armor skill, only the other four armor slots do. Neither do shields matter for Matching set perks (if any). The only thing you're really interested in your shield is its BASE armor rating, since that's what matters for how much damage you actually block with it and how much damage your shieldbash does. There's really very little incentive to pick anything else but a Daedric shield, even if it means you can only improve it half as much.

    One-handed vs Archery
    Considering how strong Bound Bow is, there's just no point in going melee until you've reached armor cap, or are at least certain that your Frosty can tank the mobs while you tickle them to death with your Bound Swords. It takes a while to get Sneak to the point where it starts leveling up itself without extra help from a constant stream of successfull sneak attacks, hence there's only few opportunities to put that 15x backstab multiplier into use early on. Even then, you really need 100 Smithing to boost a dagger to the point that its backstab matches your fully boosted bow, Bound or not.

    However, using your precious training points to nudge up your extremely low One-handed skill is foolish. Once you've finally past the initial hurdles, you can level it to 50+ in a flash, while training Block, armor skills AND Restoration at the same time. Hence, your One-handed skill will stay at extremely low level all the way up to clvl 60+. Train your ARCHERY past those agonizingly slow 75-90 skill levels instead while doing that! :)

    Magic skills
    The only really easy one here is Destruction. There's just no point in leveling it yourself, ever, apart from the occasional Rune trap for style points or something like that.

    Conjuration has been a personal pet peeve of mine, but that's due to my substandard computer rather than the game itself. I finally got it to work satisfactorily by turning most graphics details to minimum and playing in windowed mode. Now that it works, I quickly realized that there's a perfect window between your initial ranged Sneak attack and the mobs finally finding you to drop a summon between you and them. Even if this means you have to cast your Bound Bow both before and after your Frosty, magicka is no issue since it usually takes a while to find a spot from which to snipe, or you could use the same bow you conjured up for the mob(s) you previously defeated. Hence, the only thing you need training points for is to get it to 50 ASAP, which you can conveniently do free while pickpocket training.

    Next up is Illusion. Apart from Muffle which you will WANT to have active pretty much 24/7 anyway, there's just about nothing worth casting here until you unlock all of the level cap booster feats. Even then, the list of mobs you can use it for is severely limited until you unlock Master of the Mind at 90 skill! A vast majority of animals are a piece of cake anyway, and humans (mostly Bandits & Forsworn) are conveniently covered by the Kindred Mage perk on your way to Quiet Casting. However, Fury/Frenzy is both castable with your base magicka without perks/enchants AND a decent opener for when you want to open up with something else besides a backstab. Say, when you want to train something else on weaker mobs? ;) Just Frenzy the WEAKEST mob in the bunch so that you have one less mob to worry about without it slaughtering its peers FOR you. Hence, the only point potentially worth using training points for is to skip past the sluggish 75-90 passage. This makes Illusion a low-priority skill for training.

    Alteration is the real oddball in the bunch. You can comfortably get it to at least 40 just by Transmuting while doing the initial pickpocket training routine, during most of the early Thieves Guild quests and by making a point of visiting any easily accessible Iron, Silver and Gold mines as soon as you can. There's quite a bunch of them out there, just check Iron, Silver and Gold mine locations. Note that while you can't transmute ingots, they're still plenty useful for the mass production of jewelry later on, especially Silver since transmuting it yourself is a bit wonky. On the other hand, once you get Paralyze at 65 skill, you can get it to 100 yourself in a flash - WHILE waiting for that elusive 90 in Illusion! Hence, I'd make training Alteration between 40-65 a high priority task, AND use an armor set with primarily Alteration reduction enchants all the way until Illusion finally reaches 90. This way you don't have to put any perks into Alteration, ever, while still being able to put Iron/Ebonyflesh into use very early on AND enchant your weapons (esp. melee) with Paralyze without it draining your Soul gems supply. (Edit: Just tested it: In case of double enchants, removing the heavy cost of Paralyze can easily mean 3-4 more uses per soulgem even if your other enchant is at maximum strength.) :)

    Finally we have Restoration. For most practical purposes, this is THE skill where having it at 15 or 100 has the least impact on gameplay. There's literally nothing past the Novice level Healing spell you're desperate to get your hands on to, and you can get its prime booster perks to halve its casting cost and improve the effect by 50% already at skill level 20. Hence, Restoration should be the absolute last item on your training list, meaning clvl 70+. For this same reason, it might actually be worth your while to make a point of collecting all the Restoration skill books early on by letting a follower pick them up for you and making a note to avoid reading them by mistake in the locations you didn't visit. This way you can push the skill to 95, and all the way to 100 if you also dedicate the Oghma Infinium for your magic skills. Same trick applies for Destruction, of course, but since you'll train that to 90 much, much earlier, you can just read the books yourself once you've reached 90 as you go.

    With these improvements, I can conclude that its quite possible to put ALL of your 405 training points into best bang for the buck category, rather than (mis-)using them on something just because you have to. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  15. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Hey Rechet,

    While I understand that your purpose is to try to find the opitmal way of doing this, I think it takes play style out of the picture. While I certainly agree that you COULD do it this way, I rarely do.

    My strategy is as follows:

    1. Fendal for level 1-7 to get Archery to 50. There's no way to pickpocket train at such low levels, as the rate you'll gain expereince will overshoot your training sessions per level.

    2. Next up is Speech, and I've done something new with this. As soon as I get to the Whiterun stables, I don't even bother going into the city. Instead I grab the carriage and head over to Riften, and grab the Thieves Guild armor.

    The Khajiit caravan is typically right outside the gates and Kharjo (the guy who asks you to find his amulet) can train Speech to level 50. You'll want to do this at night, when they are sleeping. I make sure I pickup up the first rank in Light Fingers by this point. You can quickly pickpocket train up to level 30 in Pickpocket, and then grab the perk in Night Thief.

    Because of the 25% bonus from Night Thief, and that you'll surely not be detected while picking his pocket, it also allows you to skip the perk Cutpurse (although I can't live without Extra Pockets, and you need Night Thief to open that perk).

    Here's some numbers of why Cutpurse is unnecessary:

    Base chance of success at pickpocketing 200 gold with the base 15 skill in pickpocket, one perk spent in Light Fingers, the equipped Thieves Guild boots, and not detected by the person you're attempting to pickpocket is 50%. My testing has shown that this increases or decreases by 1% for each 10 gold difference. Since training speech to 16 costs 210 gold, your chance of success is 49%. However, each level you gain in pickpocket raises the chance of success for any given amount of gold by 2%.

    So the hardest level is the first one. Each time you level pickpocket, you increase your chance of success by 2%, but since the next training session costs 10 more gold, it drops the chance by 1%. So you're getting a 1% better chance net each time you pickpocket train. So by level 30, when you pickup Night Thief, you'll already be at 65% chance of success, and grabbing Night Thief takes you up to 90%. Once your pickpocket skill really gets going, you'll be able to pickpocket up to 550 gold (the maximum for cheap training) with a 90% success rate even if they aren't sleeping.

    3. Now I head back to Whiterun, and I DO train One Handed. I originally agreed with you that this was a sub-optimal way of going about it. However, if you pickpocket train one-handed to level 50, it allows you to start casting bound swords and using them in combat immediately. With level 50 in archery and one handed, and a few perks in each, you're now fully prepared for combat. If you have the Mage Stone active (and I always do early on, for the primary purpose of leveling Enchanting as quickly as possible), leveling both Conjuration and Illusion is extremely easy.

    Dual casting bound sword with the mage stone active typically nets you TWO levels in Conjuration until about skill level 40. It obviates the need to train Conjuration AT ALL. You'll have conjuration to 60 by the time you finish Halted Stream Camp and Unfathomable Depths. By this time, since Muffle is also worth a level in Illusion in the early going with the Mage Stone, Illusion will be about level 40.

    4. After that, if you're willing to take you're magicka up to around 200, you can now speed level Illusion and Conjuration (althought not in Dwemer ruins). You'll still cast Muffle of course, but the typical battle strategy for two or more enemies is you cast Frenzy first, and, once they start fighting each other - it takes a few seconds - drop down a summons. Usually a frost atronach at first, and later a dremora lord.

    Now, while I'm gaining all these levels, I turn my attention to Restoration and Destruction and train them to level 50. I've typically raised Alteration several levels at this point, but I get that to 50 next, so I can get at least the first two ranks in Magic Resistance, and I follow that up with Two Handed to level 50. Provided you reach this point by level 48 - and you were extremely inefficient with training early on if you're OVER level 48 at this point - you can now train all four of those skills all the way the level 90, even if you never use them a single time. (And obviously, you WILL use them some, and thus level them.) I typically have all of these little-used skills at 90 by the time I hit character level 70, and all my remaining training sessions are spent anywhere I feel like it. Sometimes even in things like Archery to speed up the process.

    That said, I completely agree with your assessment that there is never a good reason to train either armor skill or block. I don't even use the "block the giant" method to raise block anymore. Simply using block while questing is adequate to get it going just fine by itself. I have found that this strategy of leveling everything gradually as you go is very effective. Even though you know what you want your end-game perks selection to look like, it's not like you can get them all at once anyway. The slow and steady approach assures that all the skills I use frequently are advancing at similar rates.

    If I'm going to nitpick, I will disagree slightly with your take on Restoration. While it's technically true that you don't NEED anything beyond the basic healing spell, it sure helps a hell of a lot to have the better ones. You can pop off a healing spell like Close Wounds during combat, whereas due to the slow rate of the basic healing spell it is simply impractical to cast that during combat. If you don't mind chugging potions, I guess it's fine, but I prefer to have healing spells to have utility during combat as well. Novice Restoration still isn't a bad perk, as it is a prerequisite for Regeneration, which if you're going to use things like Fast Healing, Close Wounds, and Grand Healing, is a bargain for just two perks.

    ---------- Added 0 hours, 11 minutes and 27 seconds later... ----------

    Oh, almost forgot - mage stone early - for reasons already stated. By the time you get enchanting to level 100, you'll also be at the point where you're going to have to start paying for training instead of pickpocket training, which is fine. Now I switch over to the thief stone, and start working on Alchemy. It has the side benefit of increasing speech at a faster rate, and since for the next 10 or so levels you'll be crafting and selling a LOT of potions, it's essentially free level ups. I typically go to Winterhold for training when my experience bar is almost filled. The 5 training sessions get me a level, I level up and then immediately train 5 more times. Then I don't have to come back until almost two full levels.

    Example: Level 39 and about 90% of the way to level 40. Train skill X to get to level 40. Immediately train skill X again. Sell potions, and then you don't have to come back until you're just short of level 42.
     
  16. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    Training both Conjuration and Illusion yourself heavily from the word go is also an interesting alternative. :) I was originally put off by the idea of going melee with just Bound Swords and poor armor rating, but Fury, a follower and the puny Familiar for extra distraction ought to make it manageable for the time being. For the record, I trained Alteration myself with the help of heavy enchants this time around but noted that it just took too long to my liking. Getting Illusion fully online much earlier while passing the speed bump in Alteration via training is going to be the plan for my future character(s), should they use both.

    Still, I don't see much point in pouring early training points into One-handed. I just recently realized that it's not your TOTAL damage that levels up the skill, it's the BASE damage of the weapon you're swinging that matters. See here, cleverly hidden under "Gaining Exp" in two seemingly contradictory points. D'oh! :p Hence, not only does dual-casting Bound Swords level your Conjuration like crazy, their improved base damage of 14 makes them almost three times faster in terms of leveling your One-handed compared to a Steel dagger. The fact that you need so many swings to kill anything with them WITHOUT damage-increasing perks in One-handed makes it even faster, as long as you can survive the fights. Oh, and Bound Bow just gained an extra plus in my books due to its very high 24 base damage, ie. much higher than any bow you can craft yourself for quite a while, for training Archery yourself!

    Training to 50 Conjuration directly is arguably the easy way out since you get both much better dps and a tank even before setting your foot into HSC or Unfathomable Depths. But even if you do that, it really pays off to remember to use Bound Swords against anything moderately easy. Which is pretty much everything in both HSC and UD except for the final fights, now that I think of it.. :D

    I'm still not convinced about the "better" Restoration spells. Sure, they'll heal you FASTER, but my issue with them is two-fold. Due to the way quick-keyed favorites work, you switch away your shield if you want to heal, leading to a sudden spike in incoming damage, both by losing block AND by dropping below armor cap, especially early on. Hence, the real available options are insta-heal via potions to keep on fighting, or taking a hasty retreat behind the nearest corner. And if you do retreat, there's very few mobs that can keep up with you just as long as you're decent at strafe retreating instead of just walking backwards. MUST be my tanking experience from WoW but it's natural for me, at least..? And if you do that, there's no big rush in restoring in the hitpoints, but the magicka effectiveness surely still applies, and here is Healing by far the best. :)
     
  17. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Oh, you hardly need the familiar (or the flame atronach) at all. Seriously - at low levels in conjuration with a mage stone active it is completely possible that summons + 2x Bound Sword nets you THREE levels in conjuration. And it is definitely giving you two. The only downside of the frost atronach, is that unlike bound sword, it can't be cast with base magicka. Although if you're already using a bound bow... hmmm.... you might already have the magicka requirement satisfied anyway.

    Yep. The fastest way to level up one handed would be swinging a dragonbone (or daedric if you don't have the expansion) dagger. Although that's simply not possible in the early part of the game. If you're dual wielding, I'm unsure. A dagger-mace combination might be the fastest in that case, but yes, it's the base damage of a weapon. What I'm unsure about with bound sword is if the bonus you get from Mystic Binding counts as additional damage or raises the base damage of the sword.

    There is another bonus for training archery with a bound bow, as the base damage includes both the bow and arrow, and bound bows fire daedric arrows. In fact, the ONLY reason to use better arrows with your bow is to speed up the rate that you level archery, as the (total) additional damage you get from better arrows is marginal. All the damage increasing perks add to the bow, not the arrow, but the arrow does make up a significant portion of the base damage. So like with one handed, the most XPs from a single shot would be acheived by firing a dragonbone arrow with a dragonbone bow (or daedric if you don't have Dawnguard). (And yes, I'm deliberately saying per shot, because I don't want to consider the math involved when trying to calculate in the extended draw times for larger bows.)

    Why not quick key healing to your main hand? You can heal yourself while blocking and backpedalling. That's how I do it - raise shield, walk backwards, cast healing spell. Then again I play on a console, so maybe it's easier to switch.

    That I agree with. On a magicka to life restored basis, Novice Restoration with the basic healing spell is the most magicka-efficient means of healing. Although I think in terms of XP gained, it's how much you healed that matters. Healing is the most magicka friendly spell for sure, but does it matter in terms of XP gained? Like, if you heal - I don't know... whatever amount you want to pick - say 100 life. Does it matter in terms of XP gained if you heal that via the use of Healing or Fast Healing, or Close Wounds?
     
  18. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    You can't hotkey spells to either hand, or at least I haven't figured out how to do it. Spells always end up on your off-hand first. Rather, if you want to put a spell on your main hand, you first double-tap the spell hotkey so that you end up dual-wielding it and then use the hotkey for your shield, which you ONLY can equip in your off-hand anyway.
     
  19. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Well that just sucks with the hotkeys. It's totally different on XBox. There's no restrictions on what you can place in what hand. If I want a shield in my left hand and a spell in my right hand, no problem, and I don't have to first equip the spell in both hands if I want it on my right hand. Of course, there is a left and right trigger button on an XBox controller, so you can simply select what hand you want the spell equipped on by pressing either the right or left trigger.

    Now, if the spell isn't already in your favorite menu, you do have to go through the magic menu, but even then, there's no obligation to what hand it goes in. You highlight it, press the left trigger for the left hand, right trigger for the right hand, and both triggers to equip it in both hands.
     
  20. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    Oh, that'd work. Just skip assigning the hotkey at all, and just open the favorites menu and select main hand with the mouse directly. Still, it's quite a bit more kludgey than just pressing a hotkey. :)
     
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