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Character Build: The Spellguard

Tags: #Character Build Elementalist  #Character Build Mage  #Character Build Battlemage  #Rank:Legendary 
  • Member
    July 5, 2013

    Hello and welcome to my first build! I’ve been toying with this idea for a while (About a week before the first Character Build contest was announced). So, without further ado, I present to you…

    The Spellguard

    The Spellguard is the pinnacle of physical defense and arcane mastery. These masters of magicka excel at covering the mage’s greatest weaknesses--physical harm, crowds of enemies, and close quarters.

    "I remember the cool nights outside my home with my father, listening to his endless tales of being one of the revered Order of the Spellguard of the College of Winterhold. The Order utilized spell and shield to become the ultimate protectors of the College. However, after the Great Collapse, his order fell to pieces. The trust between the citizens of Winterhold and the College was forever tainted as rumors began to form of foolish wizardry and the like. My father fled back to our homeland, High Rock. With his passing, I now choose to follow in his footsteps, possibly even to restore the honor the Spellguard once held."

    The Build

    Race: I chose Breton out of personal preference, for the roleplay, as well as their racial and active powers. However, you could really choose any race.

    Stats: 2/2/1

    Standing Stone: The Mage, then the Atronach. If you’re using the Aetherial Crown, Mason’s Advanced Atronach and the Apprentice stone work wonders together.

    Shouts: Whirlwind Sprint, Unrelenting Force, Fire Breath, Slow Time.

    Equipment: Robes of Destruction, Hood/Circlet, Heavy Gauntlets, Heavy Boots, Heavy Shield.

    Thu'um Meditation: Fus (25% less stagger on self, 25% more outgoing stagger)

    Black Book Powers: Dragonborn Flame, Mora's Boon, and Secret of Arcana.

    Required Quests: College quest line and The Only Cure.


    The Major Skills
    Here is a sample level 25 perk spread.

    Block: The most important part of being a Spellguard is actually utilizing a shield, right? Your trusty shield is what stands between you and that horde of Draugr Deathlords.

    Perks: Everything, really. Power Bash and Deadly Bash are taken to get to Disarming Bash. Power bashing tends to use too much stamina to be used strategically.

    Strategy: Bash any enemies that get too close, and if you're out of stamina, just block their attacks.

    "Blocking is an art that few utilize to its fullest extent."


    Destruction: This is your main method of damaging your enemies. I normally choose fire, but Spellguards can be very versatile, so pick whatever you like.

    Perks: Novice--Expert (Master if you want to use Fire Storm, not required), Augmented Flames (2/2), and Intense Flames.

    Strategy: Burn baby, burn. Runes are a great way to control the battlefield, dishing out lots of damage as well.

    "My father taught me all I know of spellcraft."


    Restoration: Staying alive is a good thing. Healing helps you stay alive. Healing is a good thing.

    Perks: Novice--Adept, Regeneration, Recovery, Respite, and Ward Absorb (For Spellbreaker).

    Strategy: Heal after battles, use Fast Healing/Close Wounds mind-battle to replenish your stamina for bashes.

    "Staying alive seems to be my specialty, this is just another feather in my cap."



    Smithing: Since you won't be wearing a full set of armor, you won't be able to get the bonuses from full set perks--smithing fixes that.

    Perks: Steel--Ebony Smithing, Arcane Blacksmith.

    "If I smith it myself, I am the only one to blame if it falters or fails."


    Enchanting: Think of enchanting as "unlocking your true potential." You are formidable without it, but with it, you are a force to be reckoned with.

    Perks: Enchanter (5/5), Insightful Enchanter, Corpus Enchanter, and Extra Effect.

    "My powers are not limited to a simple jet of flames."

    The Minor Skills

    One Handed: This skill is only used when your magicka reserves run dry, and it's only used to replenish it.

    Perks: Armsman (5/5).

    Strategy: Enchant a sword with Absorb Health and Absorb Magicka. Pull it out when you run out of magicka.

    "Back up plans are good. Just remember to have a back up for your back up."



    Heavy Armor: Your second skin. Any damage that slips through your shield will have to slip through this, too. Spellguards tend to wear only gauntlets and boots, though a few do wear helms.

    Perks: Juggernaut (5/5). Optionally, you can work your way up to Conditioning in order to restore full mobility and use more stamina for bashing instead of sprinting, though sprinting doesn't use as much stamina without a cuirass.

    "The Spellguards are heavily-armored warriors. That use fire."


    Alteration: One more thing to augment your armor rating. This won't really be perked much until the higher levels.

    Perks:Novice--Adept (Expert if you want Ebonyflesh).

    Strategy: Same as always with flesh spells, cast just before combat.

    "The Spellguard are masters of defense. This is a nice little boost."


    The Equipment

    Spellguards use a mode of dress similar to the Vigilants of Stendarr; robes and a hood with heavy gauntlets and boots. These are several combinations (in order of early to late game) that, in my opinion, offer the most aesthetically pleasing armor set.

    Steel (Preview) Steel Shield, Steel Nordic Gauntlets, and Steel Cuffed Boots with Novice Robes and a Novice Hood.

    Dwemer (Preview) Dwarven Shield/Spellbreaker, Dwarven Gauntlets, and Dwarven Boots with Adept Robes and an Adept Hood.

    Ebony (Preview) Ebony Shield, Ebony Gauntlets, and Ebony Boots with Master Robes and an Apprentice Hood.

    Dragonplate (Preview)  Dragonplate Shield, Dragonplate Gauntlets, and Dragonplate Boots with Archmage's Robes and the Mage's Circlet. May optionally look good with Auriel's Shield.

    Additionally, a possible ring choice is Ahzidal's Ring of Arcana, though without the fear perk in Illusion, Ignite won't reach its full potential. If the Ring of the Erudite weren't quest-locked to the Volkihar, it would be perfect for this build.


    The Enchantments

    The following list is if you choose to use an item that is not previously enchanted. If you, for instance, plan on utilizing Master Robes of Destruction, ignore the suggested enchantment here.

    Hood/Circlet - Hood of Enlightenment
    Fortify Magicka (Fortify Destruction)

    Robes - Robes of the Spellguard
    Fortify Destruction (Fortify Health)

    Gauntlets - Gauntlets of the Spellguard
    Fortify Block (Fortify Magicka)

    Boots - Boots of Greater Endurance
    Fortify Stamina (Fortify Stamina Regeneration)

    Shield - (Material) Shield of the Spellguard
    Fortify Block (Fortify Health)

    Necklace - Amulet of Greater Stamina
    Fortify Stamina (Fortify Stamina Regeneration)

    Ring - Ring of Rejuvenation
    Fortify Stamina Regeneration (Fortify Magicka Regeneration)

    Sword - The Back Up Plan
    Absorb Magicka (Absorb Health)



    During my (currently three) playthroughs of this build, I used one of two combat tactics. The first, and probably the most popular, was to unequip the shield at long rang in favor of dual casting. However, there's a second strategy, which is to simply keep the shield equipped. Utilizing the second strategy is more fluid than the first, though the first is capable of more damage. Because the Spellguard doesn't wear a cuirass at all, sprinting costs a lot less stamina, which allows you to bash even more. I also advise reaching Apprentice Restoration and Apprentice Destruction quickly. Fast Healing allows you to quickly recharge health (and stamina with Respite) in the heat of battle. A Fire Rune and a few Fire Bolts quickly drops a frost troll, even at level 5 on your way up to High Hrothgar. Runes are the best way to utilize battlefield control (in combination with your shield), place a rune in one enemy's path, bash another that gets too close, and melt their faces off. This whole build is about controlling your environment to the fullest extent in order to completely decimate opponents.

    Against dragons, bashing and absorb magicka is everything. The Spellguard is fast because it doesn't wear a cuirass, but it's also vulnerable without the strongest piece in a set. Avoid the dragon's melee and use your most powerful spells relentlessly while the dragon just recharges you with it's breath. This build is devastating against other spellcasters/dragons because of the atronach/advanced atronach.

    Before I even went to High Hrothgar on my third playthrough, I headed over to the Mzulft Storeroom (Which is conveniently close to the Atronach Stone) for a bunch of Dwemer scrap at the low cost of roughly five lockpicks. This scrap was enough to make my Dwemer equipment, upgrade it, and level my smithing a little further.

    On my second playthrough, I kept the Dwemer equipment the entire game, in favor of aesthetically matching the Aetherial Crown and Spellbreaker.


    Roleplaying a Spellguard

    As a Spellguard, you do not kill without reason. While crime is generally a bad thing, you follow your own set of moral rules, bestowed to you by your late father in High Rock. Everything you're doing is in his honor as well as the honor of the Order you are trying to reestablish.

    Because you are trying to reestablish the Order of the Spellguard, if you recruit a mage follower, feel free to bestow them with a shield and a bit or armor (some followers will use them, some might not. It all depends).

    When I played my Spellguard, my character had a thing for collecting many different kinds of shields and putting the best on display at home. If you choose to collect shields, that's up to you.


    Special Moves

    Shield Absorb

    Utilizing the Spellbreaker's ability to create a protective ward around the user, augmented with the Spellguard's experience in the (perfectly valid) school of restoration, they use Spellbreaker as a catalyst to recharge their own magicka reserves.

    Requires: Spellbreaker and Ward Absorb.

    Magical Mastery

    After long study of the astral sign of the Atronach, the Spellguard puts his research to work, using the power of the long disappeared Dwemer in the form of the Aetherial Crown.

    Requires: The Advanced Atronach Stone and the Aetherial Crown set on the Apprentice Stone.


    Only those who have completely mastered spell and shield can use this. The Spellguard charges in, knocking down all who stands in their wake as he reaches the center of the enemy force. Shedding their shield, he executes their most powerful destruction spell, Fire Storm, decimating all enemies before they even have a chance to counterattack.

    Requires: Shield Charge and Master Destruction.


    Thanks and Credits

    Ben C - Thanks for the tips and a bit of encouragement in addition to patience and overall helpfulness.

    kai1995 - Credit and thanks for his Morrowind-style pauldrons mod (which looks gorgeous with the Vigilant look; I only used right pauldrons with this build, to add a sort of style).

    Bethesda - Of course.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Member
    July 5, 2013

    Nice build, I love to use shields without a weapon. This is like a more damage version of my build.

    Good job. +1

  • Member
    July 5, 2013
    This is how I play my mages ! :) Good build.
  • July 5, 2013

    I think you've done a great job here. I wish us console users could have those pauldrons on our right shoulder! It looks awesome.

  • Member
    July 5, 2013

    Thanks! It was originally an accident, where I didn't have enough smithing materials for the left shoulder, but I found out that I like it more this way. =P Sort of like covering what your shield isn't.

  • Member
    July 5, 2013

    Thaks, Ben! It took longerer than I though to type all of it up, but I think it was worth ite.

  • Member
    July 5, 2013
    Nice, i had a build similar just with full glass armor. Love spellshield builds.
  • Member
    July 5, 2013

    I think I'll add that for each of the suggested armor sets, like a link next to the armor type. Thanks for the idea!

  • Member
    July 5, 2013
    You're sample level 25 perk read has way more than 24 perks on it. Other than that, great build!
  • Member
    July 5, 2013

    Ah, no. The red text is a link. Sorry about that! But thanks for your feedback!