The Workshop » Discussions

WiP Character Build: Shieldmage of Winterhold

Tags: #Spellsword  #No Crafting  #SE Rank:Novice  #Mage Armor  #Defender 
  • December 17, 2019


    I found Tamriel Vaults two years ago or so. By that time I was quite fed up with Skyrim, but after reading and trying out a few builds on the forum I fell in love with the game like never before. So thank you all for that! Now this is my first build, thus I appreciate all the constructive feedback you can give me. It’s the end of 2019 and I understand that it’s practically impossible to come up with something absolutely original in vanilla setup. That said, I believe I’ve come up with some very satisfying gameplay and synergies backed up with engaging RP. And absolutely no grinding as this is a No-Crafting Build. There won’t be any glitch using like necromage perk, stacking helmets, regen potions or anything else in my builds. Apart from some aesthetic mods this is purely vanilla build. Without further due, I present to you:



    Thorig and his loyal companions embarking on yet another quest.

    After playing over a dozen crafting character I’ve made a firm decision to only do no crafting or “just a little crafting for RP” –kind of characters. Now, a no-crafting mage is fun and all, until you ran out of mana and have to cowardly run or hide behind supports. This is where shield and board comes into play. With expert alteration, mage armor perks, lord stone and good use of shield and control spells, you’ll do just fine on master difficulty. One of the best things about this character is the amount of control he gives you. Shield Charge, Paralysis, Dragonborn Frost, ash spells, deep freeze, you name it. Few enemies are left standing. Oh and did I mention ridiculous magic and elemental defense without a single perk or enchanted item invested? You’ll walk in mages den, dragon breath feeling just a tickle. The character offers truly versatile combat approach with spells, board and shield, dual wielding and shout combos.

    The Lore

    After initial terrible losses in Great War the Imperial Legion started desperately drafting just about anybody who could hold an axe. A young lad, not even 16 summers old, just two years into studies at college of Winterhold, Thorig was drafted to serve in imperial army.

    Sitting by the fire after a long march you remembered how eager you wanted to test all those flesh and destruction spells that young teacher Tolfdier only taught in theory. Well now you’ve got what you wanted; as practical as it gets. They gave you a steel axe and a shield and put you in a front row. If it weren’t for your magical prowess and your Breton dragon skin, you’d surely go to Sovengard with your fellow men.

    After 30 years a war was over with a shameful peace and you Thorig was returning home angry and nothing to show but the scars. Bitter with empires treatment, he decided to return to his homeland and continue the studies. But fate had another nasty surprise for you in a form of an imperial ambush at the border and a chopping block.

    Level 20 perks

    The Build

    Game Difficulty: Expert before level 20, than Master or Legendary.

    Race: Breton is best for gameplay, Nord is best for RP. But any human race is ok, as long as you adjust your RP as someone who was raised as a true Man of Skyrim.

    Stats: 1/1/0. Eventually I got Stamina to 150 and I was happy with it. At level 40 I had 270/270/150.

    Stone: Mage, then Lord and Ritual (stored in Aetherial Crown).

    Major Skills: One Handed, Block, Restoration, Alteration, Destruction.

    Minor Skills: Enchanting (unperked, leveled only by disenchanting and charging weapons).

    Followers: Followers became especially important in middle game in role of tanks. I strongly suggest immortal (essential) followers as your spells often end up killing normal ones. The best follower turned up to be Barbas. Love that crazy dog. I also summoned myself a Staff of the Storm Atronach from the Atronach Forge to help me deal with dragons.


    Low level: Okin and Skyforge Steel War Axe of Fiery Souls. +Staves.
    Endgame: Nordic War Axe of Blizzards x2, Nordic War Axe of Fiery Souls. +Staves.


    Low level: Any Robes of Restoration, Alteration or Destruction. Any mage hood, circlet and amulet of those schools you can find. Ideally you’ll have spell cost reduction in all 3 schools of magic. Mages gloves enchanted with fortify unarmed (with unperked enchanting and grand or black soul gem you’ll get around 10% or so. Better than nothing) Ring of fortify one handed. mage boots (resist shock) or boots with fortify stamina (unperked enchanting). Shield of Ysgramor or shield of blocking or resist magic.
    Archmage’s Robes, Circlet and Amulet of Peerless Destruction and Alteration, Ring of Peerless Wielding. Gloves of fortify One handed (with Seeker of Sorcery, Ahzidal's Genius, Enchanter’s Elixir and around lvl 50 enchanting you’ll get around 20% increase, no perks or grinding needed). Archmage’s boots or Boots of Fortify Stamina(unperked enchanting), Shield of Solitude.
    Situational: Amulet of Talos is a solid choice at any stage of game. Ahzidal's Ring of Necromancy and Aetherial Crown (stored with ritual stone) for “White Walkers –battle tactic.


    Essential: Ice Form (before acquiring Dragonborn Frost power), Frost Breath (only 1 word), Marked for Death, Become Ethereal.
    Other: Call of Valor, Dragon Aspect, Dragonrend, Unrelenting Force, Whirlwind Sprint.

    Passive Effects: Agent of Mara, Sailor’s Repose.

    Blessing: Julianus, than Talos.

    Black Book powers: Dragonborn Frost, Seeker of Sorcery.

    Quests: Colledge of Winterhold, Dragonborn, The Wolf Queen Awakened, Civil War (Stormcloak), A Daedra's Best Friend (Keep Barbas).

    Level 40 perks

    Tactics and powers

    Shattering Glass: Marked for death + paralyze + Frost Wall + Frost Cloak + dual wielding.
    For the though Bosses.

    Frost Grave: Frost Breath ( 1 word with dragonborn frost) + frost cloak + dual wielding.
    For easy bosses or before expert alteration.

    Paralyzing Blizzard: Become Ethereal + Mass Paralysis + Blizzard.
    For Groups.Can be followed by “White Walkers” –tactic if needed.                      

    Cold Walls: Detect Life + Ice Storm.
    For unsuspecting enemies through walls.

    White Walkers: Aetherial crown (ritual stone) + Ahzidal’s ring of necromancy.
    In hard dungeons or civil war.

    North Winds: Whirlwind cloak + shield charge + Unrelenting Force/Cyclone.
    For Fun.

    Ice Crystal Skin: Breton Blood (25%) + Agent of Mara(15%) + Lord Stone(25%) + Shield of Solitude(10-30%) + Elemental Protection (50% All Elements).
    Just forget about magic damage, it’s a tickle.

    Gameplay and other notes

    You’re a Breton veteran of a Great War in his 50’s, born and raised in Skyrim as a true Nord. Your heart is hardened and frozen by sorrows of uncounted battles, yet beating for Skyrim and her people. You’re searching for new magic and powers to assist Ulfric in liberating people of Skyrim from religious tyranny dictated by elves in shameful White-Gold Concordat as well as wondering your homeland seeking and questing to aid those in need. Don’t forget to mock and undermine daedra every chance you get. Regarding leveling, I suggest rushing such perks as Respite, Mage Armor 1/3 and Quick Reflexes. These 3 perks make sure you can withstand a prolonged combat. For dealing with dragons I used dual wielding shock staves (you never know if it’s a frost or fire dragon) in beginning, later simply Dragonrend.

    Obviously this build doesn’t have to be followed by the letter and frankly I myself played a second play through with imperial RP focusing on swords, fire destruction spells and shouts instead of axes, ice spells, shouts and stormcloak allegiance. A bit less control, but real pretty explosions. I’m guessing this could also be done as a Thalmor, with shock spells, shouts and shield of Auriel for aesthetics. Perhaps spell absorption could be used instead of magic defense. Use your imagination, tell me how it goes.

    Yet another doom-driven dovah wishes to test thu'um of Thorig.


  • December 23, 2019

    As this is my first build, I'd love to get some feedback from the community. Are my hashtags correct? Should I work more on the lore details or is it better to leave most of it for readers imagination? I'm not a native english-speaker so there's obviously some mistakes. Not asking for a proof-reading, but if some word combination really sticks out, feel free to tell. I'm using USLEEP, but I consider it essential rather than modificition. Does this still mean that I have to mark this build as a Modded build: #Mods - Characters that rely heavily on game modifications.

    What else needs to be done before I post this build as ready and not WiP?

  • December 24, 2019
    Hey there! Love your enthusiasm and I think the build is interesting as a low mod, ready to go build, with some real thought going into combos and playstyle. I personally would like to have seen a little more narrative as it seems very brief and could be used more to explain the build. Where are the shieldmages from? Perhaps it's a family tradition, or a nordic one that this breton was raised into? Or maybe as a hero of this Great War he saves his life with a shield one time, and it became his go to weapon when magic was failing. As for the grammar and spelling, there are a few mistakes (not that I'm great with it myself) and a couple I would mention. First, you might want to add a double return after your paragraphs as it is all coming out as one big block of text. "Shield and board" should be "Sword and board" - the shield IS the board. As an English native, I'd be happy to do a full proof read if you like. But there are only a few mistakes, and it doesn't break the flow of reading too much.