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Character Build: The High Summoner

Tags: #Character Build Spellsword  #Character Build Summoner  #Character Build Hero  #Race:Breton  #Rank:Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build 
  • Member
    February 15, 2014

    His heart was racing. Blood surged through hot veins, amplified by nerves and adrenaline. Every boot print in the powdery snow was one step further from home...or rather, what was home. There was no going back now.

    His last day in Daggerfall flitted through his mind, each moment an image with a pang of guilt attached. The unbound xivilai he had summoned, a nightmarish daedra from Oblivion. His colleague cowering in fear after the creature plunged its wicked blade into his abdomen, fatally wounding him. The look on the Grand Summoner's face as he burst through the door, expelling the abomination. His whole life at the School of Julianos, gone in moments...

    The last words the Grand Summoner shouted at him rang through his mind. "You must leave! Go to the College of Winterhold in Skyrim; you'll find friends there. Continue on the path of High Summoner. But remember, you must never return!" His master's words repeated over and over throughout the past week while he ran far from "home".

    The High Summoner

    The High Summoners of the School of Julianos are among the most accomplished of conjurers in Tamriel. They practice their entire lives, studying the School of Conjuration and mastering the art of invoking otherworldly creatures and items. The ultimate purpose of a High Summoner is to gain enough mastery of Conjuration to summon the Daedric Princes from their respective realms. Those who require a High Summoner's abilities pay a lifetime's worth of Septims to call upon the Daedric Lords.

    This High Summoner-in-training is a bit different in the fact that he isn't studying to summon Daedric Lords for other people. He traverses all of Skyrim and even Solstheim learning every summoning spell in order to never make the same mistake again. His immense guilt leads him to help the people of Skyrim with all the knowledge he gains.

    Race: Breton

    Stone: Lord & Serpent Stone

    Major Skills: Conjuration, Enchanting, Alteration

    Minor Skills: Restoration, One-Handed, Archery, Alchemy

    Equipment: Temple Priest Robes, Thalmor Boots and Gloves, Aetherial Crown, Bound Sword, Bound Bow, Leviathan (Enchanted Long Bow)

    Quests: College of Winterhold, Dawnguard, Dragonborn, Main Quest, Arniel's Endeavor, Telvanni Research, Black Book: Untold Legends, A Scroll for Anska, Daedric Quests, Black Book Quests

    Powers & Shouts: Bardic Knowledge, Summon Durnehviir, Dragon Aspect, Conjure Werebear, Summon Karstaag, Call of Valor

    The Build

    Conjuration is a very powerful and versatile skill! There are very few Character Builds that focus on the entirety of the School. It is often broken down and divvied up for roleplay purposes or specialization, limiting the conjurer to a few summons. The High Summoner doesn't place any restrictions on the creatures he can summon. However, Summoners of the School of Julianos are not necromancers despite perking the Necromancy branch.

    Summoners also conjure their weapons and armor, making their stand with their allies instead of behind them. In previous Elder Scrolls games, Conjuration allowed the caster to bind armor to oneself. Unfortunately, the bound armor spells have been dropped and the only magical form of defense is Alteration's flesh spells, which will serve as our "bound armor". Combined with the Lord Stone and Mage Armor perks, Ebony Flesh brings our AR to 350 which is equal to 42% damage reduction. Plenty for a build that excels in invoking and restorative magic.

    Summoner's Pilgrimage

    All Summoners of Julianos are expected to complete the Summoner's Pilgrimage before ascending to High Summoner. In preparation for their great journey, apprentices are trained to survive in the most unfavorable conditions. Summoners must become adept in close and long-ranged weaponry, practice the School of Restoration, and attain great proficiency in potion-crafting and enchanting. The pilgrimage will test everything the apprentices have learned and drive them to continual education in several fields of study.

    Every pilgrimage is different for the individual who dares to take such an endeavor. The journey isn't to a specific place but rather to a certain level of scholarship within the School of Conjuration. The rank of High Summoner is achieved once the Twin Souls perk and all 'Conjure' spells have been learned. For my playthrough, this happened around level 35 nearing the end of the Dawnguard questline, which I opted to do after the College of Winterhold (my first questline). This expedition will take the High Summoner-in-training to the College of Winterhold, the Soul Cairn, Solstheim, Apocrypha, and all over Skyrim to acquire the knowledge he needs.

    Stat Placement: 3/2/0

    I nearly passed up on the Enchanting skill until I realized how well it flows effortlessly with Bound Weapons! Alchemy was originally the focal crafting skill until Enchanting skyrocketed with the massive amount of soul gems I filled in my travels. For the first sixty levels of Enchanting, I simply bought empty Petty and Lesser gems and didn't keep track of how many I had or when to craft. After awhile I had filled seventy soul gems without even realizing it! Enchantments fortifying Health and the One-Handed and Conjuration skills were the main focus.

    Alchemy became a great secondary crafting skill, offering strong potions with little investment in the skill. Fortify Marksman potions were very helpful for boosting both combat skills with a simple, single potion. Tundra Cotton and Bleeding Crown offer an excellent boost to Block, making the Bound Sword a sufficient secondary form of defense. The potion also adds a small amount of Resist Magic that adds to the Summoner's natural 50% resistance via racial and standing stone effects. I opted not to perk anything poison related. They just didn't fit the majesty of the build nor the personality of the roleplay. I used a variety of potions depending on the situation but these were the most helpful throughout my journey:

    Summoner's Tonic
    Effects: Fortify Health, Restore Health, Fortify Conjuration
    Ingredients: Blue Mountain Flower, Lavender, Wheat

    Aegis Invoked
    Effect: Resist Magic, Fortify Block
    Ingredients: Tundra Cotton, Bleeding Crown

    Elixir of Adrenaline
    Effects: Fortify Marksman, Regen Health
    Ingredients: Juniper Berries, Luna Moth Wing, Any Other Fortify Marksman Ingredient

    Alteration and Restoration round off the build's defensive spells. Alteration is relied on heavily! A conjurer without a flesh spell is like a paralyzed goat: just begging for a blade in the belly. Always keep a flesh spell up lest you be a billy goat! No magical defense perks were taken with Enchanting closing the magical resistance gap. Restoration is the main form of healing and will typically be in the off-hand once allies, weapons, and armor are invoked. Don't forget to heal the tankier allies too. It beats re-summoning them and creating an opening for your opponents!

    Archery is perked much less than One-Handed for a good reason: Daedric Bow+Daedric Arrows= Great Damage! I completed most of my playthrough with one measly perk in Archery! Even without alchemical and enchanted assistance, the Bound Bow is very strong and levels Archery very quickly. The Bound Sword needs a bit more help. Pour a few more perks into One-Handed and a fortify enchantment to set it on par with the Bound Bow.

    Summoner's Tip: Oblivion Binding can dispel many of your own summons and send the Soul Cairn summons running in fear. If you have trouble shooting the Bound Bow around your conjurations, try using the Ash Spawn, Arniel's Shade, Ash Guardian, and Werebear summons more frequently. None of them are affected by Oblivion Binding.

    Arsenal and Attire

    Traversing three different realms can be very dangerous and requires a certain amount of preparation! Along with his conjured allies and bound armor, the Daggerfall native conjures his weapons. The School of Julianos trains apprentices to wield swords and bows to support their allies in both close and long range engagements. The Bound Sword and Bow spells compliment any battlefield and can be obtained very early in the playthrough.

    The Temple Priest Robes are a perfect match for a High Summoner build, providing a decent Magicka Regen enchantment and the grandeur that a High Summoner deserves. It also conveniently sports an emblem of Julianos: the triangle.

    The Aetherial Crown is the majestic headdress of our Summoner. Stored within is the ability to conjure a Serpent to poison and paralyze our foes! Not once did I unequip the Aetherial Crown to abuse the Greater Power of the Serpent Stone. It was more of an ace in the hole waiting to be unleashed at the proper moment, especially for those ferocious cave bears! Not today, Mr. Maul-My-Face-Off!!

    Thalmor Gloves and Boots accent the black and gold sash of the robes. I've gotta give it to Adrik for discovering this set before me. I had settled on the gear and was pretty bummed when Oneness told me Adrik's Celestial Warlock had already used the exact combination. The look was just too perfect not to use though. I feel it truly fits the splendor and grace of a Summoner of Julianos.

    Creating Leviathan was a matter of practicality. Originally, my Summoner carried no weapons and conjured what he needed. Unfortunately, mounting a horse unequipped bound weapons, rendering them useless in mounted combat. By enchanting a simple Long Bow with Shock and Frost Damage, I had decent damage while mounted on Arvak. I chose Shock for a general lack of resistance and Frost for the Slow effect. It made enemies much easier to hit during mounted combat.

    Invocations of a Summoner

    I'm not going to cover the basic Atronachs or Soul Cairn summons because I think my fellow bloggers have seen quite a bit of these buggers. Not trying to belittle them; they were extremely useful and I absolutely love the Flame Atronach, Mistman, and Wrathman summons. The focal point will be on the slightly stranger summons that people tend not use because of roleplay reasons, etc.

    The Seeker- A conjured creature from Apocrypha that has an unnatural high amount of health, boasting more than a Frost Atronach with the Elemental Potency perk! While not dealing a significant amount of damage, the Seeker is a tank! They can take eight hits from a mammoth and cost less than any of the other Adept spells. Seekers are buggy with the Twin Souls perk, dispelling other summons regardless. I've found that you cannot have two Seekers, two Ash Spawns, or one of each out at once. They MUST be the first summoned creature or they will dispel anything else. This goes for Arniel's Shade and the Werebear as well. Seekers work great with Flame Atronachs and Mistmen, tanking damage while the other kites about, casting spells. Pick up the Spell Book in the Black Book: Untold Legends by going through Chapter III with a Conjuration skill of 40 or higher.

    Ash Spawn- They bear the same glitch as the Seeker which is easily circumvented as I've mentioned. Ash Spawns have a ranged attack, decent melee abilities, and moderate health. The versatility is easy to work with and provide great support.

    Ash Guardian- The Ash Guardian is incredible in the fact that he can be summoned and won't dispel or be dispelled by any other summon, including the Ash Spawn and Seeker bug! This allows a person with Twin Souls to have three conjurations at once and adds a ton of battle strategy! Only problem I've ever had with Ash Guardians is their insistence on not attacking if a person or creature isn't typically aggressive. For instance, if you start a fight in town, your Ash Guardian will runaway! Same goes for giants so beware..

    Arvak- Of course a Summoner would conjure his own horse! Having the ability to conjure a horse is endlessly helpful and saves tons of travel time! Arvak is actually the main reason for Leviathan; in order to have some form of mounted combat, I needed an option aside from bound weapons.

    Ancient Dragonborn- This is the conjured badass that spawns from losing half your health while Dragon Aspect is in effect. He's pretty aggressive all around and will attack the Ash Guardian after a battle has ended. The biggest perk to this guy is that he doesn't count towards your summoning limit. With this in mind, at one time you could have an Ash Guardian, Ancient Dragonborn, Spectral Drum, and two other summons out, creating an army of conjurations!

    Flaming Familiar- This fella has seen quite a bit of use so I'll keep it brief. Before the Bound Bow, he is the ranged attack. 50 points of exploding damage can really add up! Additionally, he can be summoned at odd angles and at great distances without perking Summoner. For example, you can cast the Flaming Familiar near the top of the tower in Helgen and he will spawn up top, fighting the archer that camps the spot. This was one of my favorite tactics with the cheaply casted critter!

    Shout/Greater Power Summons- Durnehviir, Karstaag, the Werebear, and Call of Valor all fell under the same category for me. I call it "Damn, I'm out of Magicka. It's time to summon one of those guys." I've found Call of Valor to be of the most use but it's so late game. I stuck to the Werebear indoors and Durnehviir outdoors when necessary, which wasn't very often. Karstaag is a really last resort seeing as how he can only be summoned thrice but he's definitely worth it!

    The Spectral Drum- That's right ladies and gentlemen, the 'cream of the crop' right here! What better way to complete a pilgrimage than with a conjured drum that rallies you and your allies to the bitter end! The Bardic Knowledge Lesser Power grants the Summoner and his allies a 50% Stamina Regen increase. This is really helpful when Arvak runs out of Stamina so quickly. It also helps keep up the staggering power attacks of the Summoner and his conjurations.

    It doesn't end there though, folks. The Spectral Drum is a built in barricade! In narrow passages, face away from a foe and conjure the little drum. It typically appears behind you and cannot be moved through BUT arrows can be fired through it! Fish in a barrel, anyone? As a power that can infinitely be used, it is incredibly useful and doesn't affect the summoning capacity. The ghostly percussionist was my default Power button.

    Summoner's Tip: The Summoner relies on a lot of 'charge and release' type spells, as well as the Bound Sword. Spellswording with the Bound Sword can be tough because you can't cancel a spell or it would dispel the sword. Alternatively, you can cast a charged spell and follow up by tapping the button that released the spell to cancel it and regain all Magicka.


    Conjured Combinations

    Ash Guardian, Storm Atronach, Arvak, Leviathan
    The Ash Guardian lures in opponents and dishes out strong melee while the Storm Atronach supports with powerful ranged attacks. The Summoner also supports with ranged, elemental arrows from a great vantage point atop Arvak. This was a favorite tactic I used when storming large encampments outdoors.

    Cinder Sand Tomb
    Ash Guardian and Two Flaming Familiars
    Again, the Ash Guardian heads the assault while the Summoner circles the opponent, continually casting Flaming Familiars two at a time (with the Twin Souls perk). 

    These were just two of the many combinations I've used. Obviously the Ash Guardian is extremely useful in all situations simply because of his ability to not affect the summoning limit. I typically rolled with a tank and a ranged summon after Twin Souls. Sometimes I chose to just summon a Seeker or Arniel's Shade and take on whatever may come. Just because you can summon five things doesn't mean you should.

    Ascension: High Summoner


    • Twin Souls Perk
    • Conjure Flame/Frost/Storm Atronach Spells
    • Conjure Dremora Spell
    • Conjure Bone/Mist/Wrathman Spells
    • Conjure Seeker/Ash Spawn/Ash Guardian Spells
    • Conjure Flaming Familiar/Arvak/Arniel's Shade Spells
    • Bardic Knowledge

    Once the necessary scholarship has been obtained, the apprentice ascends to the rank of High Summoner, gaining great proficiency and enlightenment. Brew a Fortify Restoration potion and drink it. Re-equip all your clothing for an awesome and permanent upgrade! Additionally, Level 3 Dragon Aspect will become the physical concentration of bound armor after ascension. High Summoners bind stronger weapons and armor, gain excellent constitution, and regenerate Magicka much faster!

    I really wanted the rank to mean something and feel different once attained. While the gameplay is the same, the boosted enchantments and heavy use of Dragon Aspect made it all worthwhile, becoming a truly powerful Summoner worthy of his title. By realizing his destiny, the Summoner was able to forgive the terrible crime he committed in Daggerfall and move forward without burden.

    Dark Dealings

    The High Summoner has defeated Alduin and Miraak. The vampire menace has been obliterated with the help of the Dawnguard. The College of Winterhold is once more a safe place to further one's scholarship in the mysteries of Aetherius. The ever-ambitious Summoner has one more thing to accomplish before the sun sets. Well...more like fifteen! As said before, the goal of every High Summoner is to gain the ability to summon Daedric Princes from their realms of Oblivion. Instead of invoking them for someone else, the High Summoner seeks their aid to help defend Skyrim, his new home. As he will soon find out, most Daedric Lords have a price that the High Summoner may not be willing to pay...


    For more on the High Summoner, check out this short story that takes place after this build is completed: Primal Calling

  • Member
    February 15, 2014
    Nice job. I never knew that about the Ash guardian, and I dare say not many other bloggers knew about it either. And did you make that lore up yourself or get it from somewhere? Also: Is this guy good or bad?
  • Member
    February 15, 2014
    Another great build Alastor! Glad to see you're continuing with building, it would've been a shame to lose such an inventive builder as yourself! Easy +1
  • Member
    February 15, 2014
    Apparently in Daggerfall (the game) you could pay a Summoner at the School of Julianos to summon a Daedric Prince at a certain time of day. So they do exist but I added a few of my own ideas to what already existed. I glorified it a bit and added a hierarchy. Honestly, it's possible that the position could have evolved into something similar due to the greater acceptance of Conjuration but we'll never know.

    The High Summoner is a hero-type and wants to learn more to help people. He feels terribly guilty about the incident back home and seeks some kind of redemption through helping others.
  • Member
    February 15, 2014
    Interesting.. I thought he might be able to be played as some power-hungry maniac.
  • Member
    February 15, 2014
    Thanks Raidriar! I had planned on taking a break but I had so much fun creating and playing this build, man. I like how RP oriented it is too! I'm thinking of writing a short story on the character I created in my mind but idk. Anyways thanks for the like and I greatly appreciate the support! :)
  • Member
    February 15, 2014
    Yeah, I was really debating on whether to use that pic or not. Maybe I'll just turn the font black instead. A project for another day lol! Thanks for the like btw! Hope it wasn't too wordy. I had so much info to convey..
  • Member
    February 15, 2014
    Oh, he definitely could be! It's a simple matter of roleplay and the direction that you would want to take the character. He could even pick up Necromancy if he went down a darker path.
  • Member
    February 15, 2014
    Thanks! They were so difficult to find. I postponed this for weeks because I couldn't find ANY good images for the build. Not sure if you saw my post in the Art Group but I originally thought of that idea just to gather art for my build while helping stimulate the Art Group. Fortunately, I pulled enough together and posted the build as the first contribution.
  • Member
    February 15, 2014
    No these are fantastic questions and I think you are one of the few that wants more detail TBH.

    Enchanting Fortify gear was honestly a much better route for weapon damage. I didn't have to maintain upkeep on potions nor endlessly scavenge for ingredients so as to be prepared at all times. It allowed me to focus on the Summoner's Pilgrimage and the adventure at hand. With the naturally high base damage of the Mystic Bound Weapons, one enchantment and a few perks in the respective skills went a long way.

    The Soul Stealer perk made Enchanting a breeze! Like I said in the build, drop by the CoW and buy up the empty Petty and Lesser gems and go adventure around. You don't have to think about crafting skills yet you work towards mass-leveling them all the while. Keeping Alchemy a minor skill minimized a ton of crafting time too.

    I'll have to load up my build tomorrow and check some specific values. Conjuration potions did wonders for the summons that aren't affected by the duration perks. A Seeker normally lasts 60 secs but with dual-casting and Alchemy, that could be boosted to around 3.5 minutes. Which is probably long enough for any battle. Same with Bound weapons, down a a Fortify Conjuration potion and a Fortify Marksman/Fortify Health Regen and you're prepped for a long confrontation.

    Lastly, I wanted to use all the Bound Weapons truly. The more I played though, the more I realized that I needed a free hand for healing, buffing, conjuring, etc. especially in close combat. The Bound Battleaxe was very limiting and just didn't fit in. I'm also a huge fan of the Bound Dagger but I found that the Sword's chance to stagger was endlessly helpful for saving allies, creating openings, and a great offensive/defensive tactic. There are so many times I've narrowly escaped a Bandit Chief kill cam because of staggering. Oh! And Conjuration leveled insanely fast between the summons and weapons. I was afraid it would level too quickly but everything worked out nicely. The Summoner has some of the fastest leveling skills that somehow kept pace with each other without much management really.