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by SquidFetus

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Skill Guide by SquidFetus

Version: 1.0 | Updated: 05/17/2018
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Class Archetypes

Skyrim gives you the freedom to play however you want. Whilst there are certain spheres of influence that all skills are grouped under, if you want to be a Warrior that uses a bit of magic as well, then that's okay. Mages are not penalized for using bows, or heavy armour. Thieves can be very capable blacksmiths or enchanters if they want. Due to this design, there are no real "classes" in Skyrim, which is half of the appeal when it comes to creating your own character.

However, there are certain character archetypes that focus on a set of skills that can closely be compared to traditional role-playing classes. I've provided a list of a few below, which might help you decide what sort of character you'd like to play, or give you some ideas for creating your own archetypes. I cannot stress enough, however, that the freedom of choice in this game means that there is no real right or wrong way to play. Most of these archetypes work with skills that give each other good synergy and support strong play styles, and are capable of min-maxing more easily than those that dilute themselves across every skill in the game. Feel free to consider or ignore this list as much as you like.

I've also added an "Optional Restrictions" section for each archetype, which provides some interesting role-playing opportunities as well as an extra layer of challenge. As with the archetypes, feel free to follow them as strictly as you like (or not at all).

Note that I have not listed any of the crafting skills (Alchemy, Enchanting, or Smithing) as skill focuses in these archetypes, as I firmly believe that crafting is essential for every character. Alchemy is the oddball, as not every character will use it to its full potential, but I still recommend all characters level it up so that they can make use of the Fortify Enchanting potion / Fortify Alchemy enchanted gear loop.

Berserker

Berserker
Skill Focus:Two-Handed, Block, Heavy Armour
Stat Focus:

• Do not put any points in Magicka
• Balance Stamina and Health until Health reaches 200, then focus on Stamina

Perk Focus:Two-Handed
Barbarian, Champion's Stance, Devastating Blow
BlockShield Wall, Quick Reflexes, Power Bash, Disarming Bash
Heavy ArmourJuggernaut, Well Fitted, Tower of Strength, Conditioning
Enchantment Focus:Fortify Two-Handed, Fortify Stamina Regeneration, Magic Resist, Fortify Block
Suggested Race:Nord, Orc, Redguard
Optional Restrictions:Do not use any magic or stealth, only use a bow to attack out-of-range enemies (such as dragons in mid-flight)
Description:A traditional hack-and-slasher with a large two-handed weapon, the Berserker isn't a particularly cerebral build, and its taste for melee combat exposes it to some dangerous attacks early in the game, but by mid-to-end game you'll have an unstoppable killing machine. Supported with strong Smithing and Enchanting skills, you'll be able to craft the finest heavy armour and weapons available, and imbue them with properties that make you hit harder, recover from exhaustion quicker, and shrug off all but the most powerful magic.

Hunter

Hunter
Skill Focus:Archery, Light Armour, Sneak
Stat Focus:

• Do not put any points in Magicka
• Balance Stamina and Health until Health reaches 150, then focus on Stamina

Perk Focus:ArcheryOverdraw, Eagle Eye, Critical Shot, Steady Hand, Power Shot, Bullseye
Light ArmourAgile Defender, Unhindered, Wind Walker, Deft Movement
SneakStealth, Deadly Aim, Silence, Shadow Warrior
Enchantment Focus:Fortify Archery, Fortify Stamina Regeneration, Muffle, Fortify Sneak
Suggested Race:Argonian, Khajiit, Wood Elf
Optional Restrictions:Do not use any magic, avoid melee combat where possible, avoid non-stealth combat where possible
Description:Preferring to stay out of range of bigger, stronger enemies, the Hunter class likes to strike from the shadows and from afar, with a keen eye and a focus on bows. You'll be at your best when unseen, which should be most of the time. Early on, this will prove more difficult, and you may find yourself being easily crushed by powerful enemies if you don't get the jump on them. However, if you ensure that you always use the best available bow and arrows, and you constantly improve your Sneak skill by staying crouched at all times around other people or enemies, you'll grow into a damage dealing machine that is rarely ever sighted, let alone damaged. Keep your Smithing and Enchanting levels up to maximize the damage and efficiency of your weapon improvements and armour enchantments.

Wizard

Wizard
Skill Focus:Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Illusion, Restoration
Stat Focus:

• Do not put any points in Health or Stamina
• Focus on Magicka

Perk Focus:AlterationDual Casting, Mage Armour, Stability, Master Alteration
ConjurationDual Casting, Necromancy, Atromancy, Elemental Potency, Twin Souls, Master Conjuration
DestructionDual Casting, Augmented Flames / Augmented Frost / Augmented Shock, Master Destruction
IllusionDual Casting, Kindred Mage, Quiet Casting, Rage, Master of the Mind, Master Illusion
RestorationDual Casting, Regeneration, Recovery, Ward Absorb, Master Restoration
Enchantment Focus:Fortify Conjuration, Fortify Destruction, Fortify Magicka Regeneration
Suggested Race:Breton, Dark Elf, High Elf
Optional Restrictions:Do not use any weapons (including bound weapons) or armour, use magic to solve all possible problems (ie. using an Illusion spell to aid in persuasion)
Description:The Wizard is a purist, operating under the belief that the elemental forces of magic are superior to mere physical tools and clunky, cumbersome armour. You'll be killed easily if you don't use all the tools available to you, such as the "flesh" Alteration spells when you can't avoid being engaged in melee, or wards from the Illusion school to mitigate enemy spells or arrows. However, once you've got a decent magicka pool and a strong focus on your key schools, you'll be dishing out damage. Conjuration and Destruction will be your primary focuses, blasting your opponents with elemental projectiles and summoning minions to take the heat. You'll also be able to cause chaos in rooms full of enemies with ample use of frenzy spells. Wizards will prefer to use magic for any needs they may have rather than resort to more primitive measures - such as using the Candlelight spell instead of firing up a torch. It's a fun way to play, and for every moment that you feel vulnerable or locked behind your magicka limit, you'll have another moment where you completely dominate an enemy without ever swinging a weapon or slowing yourself down with armour. Alchemical potions that fortify your Destruction skill will help push your damage to high levels, and powerful enchantments that fortify Destruction will help keep their cost down, allowing you to sling spells repeatedly and without concern for your magicka supply.

Paladin

Paladin
Skill Focus:One-Handed, Block, Heavy Armour, Restoration
Stat Focus:

• Balance all stats until you reach 150 with each, then focus on Stamina

Perk Focus:One-HandedArmsman, Fighting Stance, Savage Strike, Bone Breaker (optional)
BlockShield Wall, Deflect Arrows, Elemental Protection, Shield Charge
Heavy ArmourJuggernaut, Well Fitted, Tower of Strength, Conditioning, Reflect Blows
RestorationDual Casting, Regeneration, Recovery, Respite, Necromage, Avoid Death, Master Restoration
Enchantment Focus:Fortify One-Handed, Fortify Stamina Regeneration, Fortify Restoration, Fortify Block, Resist Magic
Suggested Race:Imperial
Optional Restrictions:Can only use maces, must take the righteous path whenever given the option, must side against the Dark Brotherhood, must heal injured allies, cannot become a Vampire or Werewolf, must not murder non-hostile or unarmed people unless their deeds are deemed wicked, must side with the Dawnguard (Only available in Dawnguard DLC)
Description:The Paladin is capable of juggling a one-handed weapon, a shield, and restorative powers for a good mixture of combat and survivability. It offers some interesting role-playing opportunities, and whilst it plays similarly to a pure Warrior, has some extra depth in the form of more fleshed-out restrictions. Strong Smithing and Enchanting, as usual, will help keep the Paladin's damage and armour rating up to scratch and help ensure their survival tools are available when they are needed.

Assassin

Assassin
Skill Focus:One-Handed, Light Armour, Sneak, Pickpocket
Stat Focus:

• Do not put any points in Magicka
• Balance Stamina and Health until Health reaches 150, then focus on Stamina

Perk Focus:One-HandedArmsman, Fighting Stance, Dual Flurry, Dual Savagery
Light ArmourAgile Defender, Unhindered, Wind Walker, Deft Movement
SneakStealth, Muffled Movement, Backstab, Assassin's Blade, Silence, Shadow Warrior
PickpocketLight Fingers, Night Thief, Poisoner
Enchantment Focus:Fortify One-Handed, Fortify Sneak, Fortify Stamina Regeneration
Suggested Race:Argonian, Khajiit, Wood Elf
Optional Restrictions:Must only use dual-wielded daggers, must join the Dark Brotherhood, must wear the Shrouded Bracers / Ancient Shrouded Bracers from the Dark Brotherhood Shrouded Armour set, do not use any magic, avoid ranged combat where possible, do not allow yourself to be detected in combat situations where possible
Description:Assassins are terrifyingly good at killing people with daggers without them ever seeing it coming. Striking from the shadows with easily concealed daggers, skillfully concocting and administering various poisons, and escaping unharmed and unseen is their modus operandi. They can do immense damage with the synergy between the Sneak perks Backstab and Assassin's Blade, the One-Handed perks Armsman and Dual Savagery, and the damage bonus provided by the Shrouded Bracers / Ancient Shrouded Bracers in the Dark Brotherhood's Shrouded Armour set. Naturally, this is supported by powerful improvements to their daggers using Smithing, as well as damaging poisons created using Alchemy. Finally, they possess the terrifying ability to assassinate people in public and in broad daylight by picking their pockets and using the Poisoner perk to trigger the effects of any poisons they place in a person's inventory. Assassins will find it difficult to overcome powerful or heavily armoured foes in direct combat, but possess enough tools to ensure this rarely, if ever, happens. At worst, a quick application of a paralyze potion to their weapon allows them to create openings with enemies that would normally give none.

Battlemage

Battlemage
Skill Focus:One-Handed, Conjuration, Restoration, Heavy Armour
Stat Focus:

• Balance all stats until you reach 150 with each, then focus on Stamina

Perk Focus:One-HandedArmsman, Fighting Stance, Savage Strike
Conjuration Dual Casting, Mystic Binding, Soul Stealer, Oblivion Binding, Adept Conjuration
RestorationDual Casting, Regeneration, Recovery, Ward Absorb, Adept Restoration
Heavy ArmourJuggernaut, Tower of Strength
Enchantment Focus:Fortify One-Handed, Fortify Restoration, Fortify Stamina Regeneration, Fortify Magicka Regeneration, Resist Magic
Suggested Race:Breton, High Elf, Imperial
Optional Restrictions:Do not use non-bound weapons, do not use destruction spells, must use wards instead of shields.
Description:The Battlemage is a black sheep - many will find it clunky, and it can't really be min/maxed in the same ways that others can since bound weapons cannot be improved, wards are generally considered less useful than shields and are more reliant on a resource (magicka) to work, and it won't be possible to get the level of Fortify Restoration enchantment that you want on heavy armour pieces early in the game to reduce the cost of wards. This isn't a build suited for the highest levels of play, and takes some investment and perseverance before it will pay off. The real reason this archetype is on this list is purely for the wonderful flavour. The Battlemage can conjure whatever kind of weapon suits the situation at hand - even a bow, if needed. Since bound weapons receive benefits from appropriate perks in other skills (for example, a bound sword benefits from One-Handed perks, would benefit from the Backstab Sneak perk, and will benefit from the damage boost provided by Fortify One-Handed enchantments) you can still keep their damage output somewhat competetive. Furthermore, bound weapons are equivalent to unimproved Daedric weapons, which is the second-highest weapon tier. To start with, you'll feel like your damage output is very high, but it will plateau eventually, when you reach higher levels and fight enemies scaled to you. Once you have sufficient skill in Enchanting, your Fortify Restoration enchantments will cut down the magicka cost of your wards and make them much more viable, as well as improving the boost to one-handed damage from your Fortify One-Handed enchantments. Wards may be hard to use but don't forget that unlike shields, you can still attack with your ward up, and it protects a larger area. You won't be using Smithing to improve weapons, but you will be using it to ensure you have the highest quality armour, which will go a fair way towards keeping you alive. Your focus on Restoration should allow you to keep yourself healed when facing opponents that are overcoming your armour rating.