Do you like being an extremely powerful mage? Do you like blowing stuff up? Do you like creating abominations and monsters to eviscerate your enemies? Well do I have the character build for YOU!!

This build was born out of my love for a certain armor set: Ahzidal's. Having already tinkered with 75% of the armor set on my Sun Priest, I felt the other 25% deserved a lot of attention since the enchantment is extremely powerful when combined with certain perks. I also wanted to really dive into using runes as a source of damage and back up damage since I believe they are sometimes thrown to the wayside without given a second chance, they are in fact very useful and quite potent! I give you...

The Cabalist

Giving runes a try I discovered some pretty cool details about them. When casting a rune, there is a symbol in the center of a ring surrounded by similar symbols in the outer layer of the rune itself. These symbols are in fact letters (words) of the Daedric alphabet. Thinking about what they could mean, I decided to link up these Daedric inspired spells with specific counterparts to synergize their energies into powerful combinations to take down foes ... and here is the best part ... from VEEERRYY far away.

Traditional "Cabalist" classes call for powerful mages of destructive power, usually centered around using rune magic to curse and to destroy his or her enemies. These spells are typically cast from a safe distance or from above, raining elemental hellfire down upon anyone in his or her way. The Cabalist is a mage that can turn his raw energy into either rune spells to symbolize a concentrated rage to damage, stall, or confuse his enemies or project that elemental rage into corporeal form in the spirits of Daedric atronachs, Dremora, and undead. Competing with a Cabalist is rendered moot as they are often so far out of reach, you will be surrounded by destructive chaos without even getting a glimpse of him up close.

Combining "like" elemental properties and the fact that summons from other planes and the grave are immune to certain "like" elements, rune spells are the perfect back up pairings to conjuration spells.


Race: Altmer - Fantastic magicka boost, perfect racial power, intense look

Stone: The Apprentice - Once great distances are achieved, enemy contact is a thing of the past!

Major Skills: Destruction, Conjuration, Enchanting, Illusion

Minor Skills: Alteration, Restoration, Sneak

Apparel: Ahzidal's Helm of Vision - Costing 25% more, rune and conjuration spells are cast much further

College Robes, Thalmor Boots, Thalmor Gauntlets, Ring/Amulet - Fortify Conjuration+Destruction and Fortify Magicka and Magicka Regen

Spell Pairings

- Fire Rune and Flame Atronach

- Frost Rune and Frost Atronach

- Lightning Rune and Storm Atronach

- Ash Rune and Ash Guardian/Spawn

- Poison Rune and Undead

- Frenzy Rune and Dremora Lord

Most of these spell pairings are self explanatory. I decided that frenzy would go extremely well with Dremora lords as it would the ultimate chaos. I also decided to use the Soul Cairn summons along with poison rune given that undead are immune to poison damage, making them the ideal candidates to battle among a barrage of poison clouds while hacking, casting, or shooting away at enemies.

Skills and Perks - lvl 60

Skills were chosen to maximize rune and summon effectiveness. Since runes do not benefit from augmenting perks in destruction, this build can save on perks in a few key areas. Destruction is the main skill in this build but yet, not quite the main form of damage. Rune spells are quite expensive early on and will always be used for supplemental damage paired with the appropriate summon. Conjuration is where the damage really comes from in all shapes and powers. Summons are useful at specific times and each can be boosted with certain runes.

Restoration and Alteration are great support skills for both healing, runes, and defensives areas which are not needed later on but are invaluable to have in any situation in case of an emergency. Poison and ash runes fit here as well as the occasional paralyze spell to even the playing field. Sneak plays a unique role. Planning and positioning silently casted runes at one end of a room and then unleashing demons from the other is satisfying. It is like an elemental chess game but your opponent is hopeless. Illusion is what grants us silent casting abilities as well as the frenzy rune.

Frenzy rune has a base lvl effect of 20, meaning dual casted with all perks is ridiculously powerful and you will not have any issues dishing out confusion among your foes.

Enchanting is the final and one of the most important skills. It provides a myriad of magical effects useful to The Cabalist, especially fortifying casting costs of destruction and conjuration. Runes and summons cost a lot as well as Ahzidal's Helm of Vision makes the spells cost 25% more. Using fortify school enchants, spells can be drastically reduced given the helmet's disadvantage allowing for the enchantment to be used to its fullest potential ... EXTREME RANGE CASTING.

It is interesting to note (common knowledge by now) that rune spells travel instantly. Some may say "so what?" Well, I enjoy this aspect immensely. Having instant spell travel time with extreme range is very satisfying. As Vimir (Big Chris Meyers) put it, it is basically rune sniping!!


Runes are a bit misunderstood at times, and I think that using them for back up damage is extremely effective. As said before, they are not very powerful, but with cost reduction perks and enchantments, they provide fantastic area of effect damage with a HUGE radius.

Dual casting an elemental rune boosts damage to 110, which is admirable for an apprentice level spell. Poison runes are stackable. Frenzy rune is quite possibly the strongest illusion spell. Ash rune is like a paralysis spell on crack. The strange an best thing I have noticed (confirmed slightly by Nikolaj) is that the "hit box" on enemies when on top of runes seems to activate more than once. What these possibly means, and only occurs at certain positions, is that runes may well do 3 to 4 time the damage that is listed, making extremely powerful in the destructive departments. Call it a glitch in the spell going off, call it an effect with a ranged AoE attack, but when a rune is DIRECTLY underneath an enemy, the rune seems to do severe damage to enemies. When an enemy runs into a rune from the side edge, it seems to do the listed damage of 50 single and 110 dual casted.


Fire runes provide consistent damage to most enemies in Skyrim. Utilizing the flame atronach, The Cabalist can be extremely tactical with long range battles with positioning his 2 catapults of flame on either side, flanking enemies with a barrage of firebolts and supplement wide AoE fire damage with his long casted runes.

Requires: Fire Rune + Flame Atronach

Frost damage is very wise to use against melee opponents. It not only slows down enemies but combined with this element is a hulking giant of epic proportions. The frost atronach is a monster in the field and can tank very well against multiple foes using his AoE stagger stomp.

Requires: Frost Rune + Frost Atronach

Lightning! Extremely satisfying to use and very potent against mages. Very few enemies are resistant to lightning making it versatile in many situations. The storm atronach enemies will be zapped and thrashed repeatedly for your amusement while you throw bolts of lightning bombs at their feet.

Requires: Lightning Rune + Storm Atronach

Ah. Pure, unadulterated fun. Cast the powerful frenzy rune (silently is fun too!) into the midst of enemies and then really bring down the hammer with dual Dremora Lords. Nothing says "Cabalist" like absolute chaos. Be cautioned, this combination will result in side effects such as maniacal laughter, disturbing thoughts, and overall great fun!

Requires: Frenzy Rune + Dremora Lord

The power of ash is realized with this combination of spells. The ash rune is well powered with a unique paralysis power, allowing your ash summons to single out enemies when their friends are left helpless on the ground, awaiting their turn to be blasted by a powerful ash guardian or cut down by an angry ash spawn.

Requires: Ash Rune + Ash Guardian/Spawn

Bring out yer dead! Combining necromancy, especially the powerful Soul Cairn summons, becoming a traveling blight across the land with undead allies and stacking on poison damage for a massive, damaging decay of death. Note that undead are immune to poison, helping your summons, but don't use the rune on undead foes!

Requires: Poison Rune + Undead Summons (Soul Cairn or Zombies)

Well there you have it. I would describe this build as an elemental monster, capable of disastrous feats without even breaking a sweat by being so far away. Enemies will not know what hit them from above or below, but they will perish by your destructive tricks and powerful spells. This is an extremely versatile character build able to tackle any foe given their weaknesses and their strengths in mind. I hope you enjoy this pure mage build as much as I have. Big shout outs to Nikolaj Poulsen for some stat/spell help, Vazgen yet again with the epic pictures, and everyone who has read and enjoyed my builds thus far. More to come!

Tags: Character Build Elementalist, Character Build Mage, Character Build Summoner, Henson, Rank:Legendary

Views: 35541

Replies to This Discussion

"Do you like being an extremely powerful mage? Do you like blowing stuff up? Do you like creating abominations and monsters to eviscerate your enemies?"

Yes to the second, no to the first and last...

The runes are written in Daedric language? Now I wonder why there isn't any special backstory for why the Dawnguard Rune Hammer inscribes daedric lettering... 

I also like the pairings and that you use Enchanting to eliminate the raised cost of runes and summons. Also that rune glitch sounds devastating, three or four times the damage on a rune that can already be boosted over 100, that's crazy, especially for an apprentice level spell. +1, good job on this!

"Bring out yer dead!" Glad to see this finalized, Henson.

And I see I'm not the only one who found synergy between Soul Cairn Summons and the Poison Rune.

Hey thanks Skalvar!

In all honesty, I know I used some potions at times to boost runes, but I really didn't use them enough to be potent. You have to craft sooo many in order to have runes powerful all the time, I just focused on reduction costs of the spell to cast them more often for more DPS with a large magicka pool. Glad you like the build!

A build using runes? Count me in! Nice build!
Hell yes, Henson! Been waiting for this and you so did not disappoint. What a badass, unique playstyle. I got giddy at the site of that first pic of him sitting atop that ledge raining down fiery death. +1 as usual!

Which you have more fun with, this or your Sun Priest?
This is a true monster! Definitely a +1! I might not play this anytime soon, unfortunately, because I have less time on my hands these days to begin new builds (even one as awesome as this). However, when I do finally play it, I'll give you some better input! Bravo!

Awesome! +1

I love the Frenzy Rune combo the most, it's really fun!

great build cant wait to try it out

Ahhh sadly a DLC I do not own, but I like the runes more and more, especially the center "exploit". Another reason I want this site to survive: I need another year to play more builds.

The only thing I don't get: Why is this called a Cabalist?

I remember you talking about this build a bit on my Count, I am glad to finally see it. The synergy between the different runes an summons, As I saw this build I was thinking "Good Lord Henson, don't you have a job? Or school? Or a life?", but with putting out so many great builds like this you need none of those .

This build is epic man! I love the synergy between runes and summons, especially the Undead/Posion Rune combo. Those are some of my favourite spells from Dawnguard/Dragonborn. I might try a condensed version, to me several of the perks seem pretty much useless. what was Adept Destruction/Expert Illusion for? +1


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