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Character Build: The Swamp Shaman

Tags: #Character Build Spellsword  #Character Build Mage  #Character Build Nightblade  #Race:Argonian  #Rank:Recognized 
  • March 31, 2014

    Obligatory first-build stuff. I hope I have:

    • Not broken any site rules.
    • Not unintentionally copied someone else’s build (I haven’t seen any like it, but you never know)
    • Made an interesting character that someone will want to play, or at least be the inspiration for a new character.

    I’d like to note that since I don’t have a massive amount of time for gaming, so I couldn’t go to endgame with this character (and won’t be for most future characters).


    The Swamp Shaman was born from an attempt to make a thematically appropriate and lore-friendly Argonian Dragonborn. Since the Argonians and the Hist are portrayed as the oldest life on Tamriel, it made sense to tap into their mystique. Who better to defeat Alduin, the firstborn of Akatosh, than the only race that has remained largely unchanged since creation?

    He (although it could be she) is primarily a spellsword, focusing on one-handed for one hand and switching between destruction, alteration, and restoration for the other. There’s also a strong thief element mixed in as well (although this build isn’t designed to be a criminal), using sneak, illusion, and archery to get by enemies or take them down quickly.


    Race: Argonian

    Stats: 2:2:1

    Guardian Stone: Lord – This character uses light armor and no shield- he needs all the protection he can get.

    Primary Shouts: Slow Time; Whirlwind Sprint; Become Ethereal – Emphasis on quick movement and the ability to escape a fight.

    Level 30 Perk Spread: 

    “We were here first. We built our homes and sacred groves here long before the Ehlnofey started squabbling. We survived the wars, the floods, the cataclysms. We watched the first “explorers” from the south stumble blindly around a land we’d inhabited for ages. We’ve seen off slavers, empires, and an army of daedra. And now the Atmoran latecomers think one of their own will stop the World-eater? No. The Hist were the first on Tamriel, and now it falls on us to save it.”


    When the Shaman hatched, the Hist informed the village elders that he was special, although they stubbornly refused to explain why. It was decided that this hatchling should be trained in many disciplines by all the villagers, to ensure that it would be ready for anything. The hunters taught him the arts of stealth and archery, to drop an enemy from afar. The warriors trained him to strike hard and fast in battle, and to dodge blows. The mage showed him how to make magical shields, cast gouts of flame, and restore his life energy. At last, as he approached adulthood, he spent several years tending the Hist trees, learning the deep and mystical spirituality of his race, and his place in the world. At last, when he was deemed mature, a true Argonian shaman, he was sent into the world to find his destiny. Travelling north through the newly-annexed Morrowind, he was entering Skyrim when his destiny found him.



    The Shaman is a hero; he does not hurt innocent people, nor steal if he can possibly avoid it. In fact, if he comes across someone in need of help, he will do his utmost to assist them. Of course, there’s a line between bravery and stupidity; the Shaman wouldn’t charge into a bandit fortress for no reason.

    The Shaman may come off as brusque and aloof to some; he usually prefers to be wandering the wilderness alone, and avoids spending a lot time in cities. He generally doesn’t use a follower unless it’s required or he really needs assistance; even then, it will usually only be someone he knows well and trusts.

    One might notice that whenever he visits Windhelm, he makes sure to visit the docks. His status as Dragonborn may have secured him entry into the city, but he does not forget his own kind, no matter what.



    Level 30

    • Scaled Armor
    • Scaled Gauntlets
    • Scaled Boots
    • Adept Hood


    Dragonscale full set OR Dragonscale boots, gauntlets plus Archmage’s Robes. Both include Savos Aren’s Amulet.

    Armor Enchantments:

    • Cuirass - Fortify Health
    • Boots - Fortify One-handed
    • Helmet – Archery
    • Gauntlets – Fortify Light Armor
    • Ring - Fortify Magicka Regeneration


    Major Skills:

    One-handed – The Shaman’s main offensive tool. He uses swords, axes, and maces with equal skill, although he may choose to specialize with one type of weapon.

    Perks: Armsman (2/5); Fighting Stance; Hack and Slash/Bone Breaker/Bladesman (any of the three works). 

    Light Armor – Besides the racial starting boost, Light Armor gives the Shaman the maneuverability he needs to move silently and fight flexibly. He favors animal-based armors over those made of metal, preferring the camouflage and natural feel. Start with fur or leather armor, progressing eventually to scaled, with dragonscale for endgame. However, since the Shaman also makes ample use of hoods, he cannot assemble a matching set and thus most light armor perks are useless.

    Perks: Agile Defender (3/5)

    Sneak – The Shaman does not enjoy taking lives, and prefers to avoid combat if he can. If he is lucky, he can bypass whole rooms full of enemies without anyone notice. However, if he encounters an obstacle that cannot be evaded, he uses his skills to prepare devastating sneak attacks.

    Perks: Stealth (1/5); Muffled Movement; Backstab; Deadly Aim 

    Archery – And what will he perform these sneak attacks with? Of course, archery is useful in any situation for ranged attacks, ideally in conjunction with poison arrows. The Shaman is also fascinated by the mechanized crossbows of the Dawnguard; although their slow reload speed makes them less useful for pitched combat, he always keeps one on hand in case he needs extra force.

    Perks: Overdraw; Critical Shot; Eagle Eye; Steady Hand (1/2)


    Minor Skills

    Alteration – Since the Shaman rarely, if ever, uses a shield, the majority of his defense comes from his armor, physical and magical. As such, he makes ample use of armor spells before (and sometimes during) battle to stay strong, as well as magic resistance perks for extra protection. Plus, leveling alteration will help you get more use out of that paralysis staff (see below).

    Perks: Novice Alteration; Apprentice Alteration; Magic Resistance

    Destruction – The Shaman’s other main tool for melee. Although he’s experienced enough to handle all three elements and wield them well, his workhorses tend to be flames and frostbite – they’re both cheap, and even just a touch of the latter will be enough to stop a power attack and get out of the way.

    Perks: Novice Destruction

    Restoration – Stayin’ alive. Ideally, it won’t come to this, but if he’s low on health, that free hand will always be ready to switch to healing. Of course, Turn Undead is basically Fear for draugr. (And let’s not forget the regeneration perks.)

    Perks: Novice Restoration; Apprentice Restoration; Recovery (1/2)

    Illusion – Although he will kill if he must, the Shaman usually tries to find a non-lethal solution first. Emphasis is on tagging everyone with calm/fear, then running like the dickens and escaping into the shadows of the next room. Furthermore, the Shaman is well known for his eerily quiet movement, and he usually appears in rooms without anyone knowing he’s entered (In other words: always be dual-casting Muffle.)

    Perks: Novice Illusion; Apprentice Illusion; Illusion Dual Casting; Animage; Kindred Mage; Quiet Casting


    Other Skills to Consider 

    Alchemy – I put one perk into alchemy at level thirty. It’s always useful, and, given his access to ingredients in Black Marsh and his training under the village mage, it makes sense that he’d make use of it.

    Perks: Alchemist (1/5)

    Conjuration – I’m sure some people can’t live without something to draw fire for them in a fight; if that’s you, more power to you- it fits fine with the spellsword playstyle. However, be sure not to use necromancy, as the Shaman isn’t too keen on undead (to put it lightly.) You’ll also need lots of filled soul gems for your staffs.

    Smithing and/or Enchanting - If you want armor improvement, that’s totally up to you. There’s no reason why the Shaman wouldn’t have learned crafting skills in his youth, and improvements and enchantments are always helpful. The main ones you’ll want are listed above.


    A Word about Staves!

    Staves, staff, whatever you want to call them- they’re useful. They’re one-handed, meaning you can use still your main weapon, and they allow you to skip to spells you haven’t leveled for, and do lots of magic with no magicka cost. I’d recommend you keep two on hand at all time. The first, a Staff of Paralysis, can always be found in Snapleg Cave, and will be a massive boon to crowd control. The other is a staff of fireballs or ice spikes, so you can still be doing damage when you’ve got no magicka left. Of course, it also adds to the whole shaman mystique.


    Special Moves

    Marsh Reflexes

    Slow Time, Staff of Paralysis

    The Shaman combines the Thu’um and a series of highly accurate paralysis shots to freeze everyone in a room before they even know what’s hit them.


    Histskin, Whirlwind Sprint, Calm

    When trapped in a tough fight, the Shaman taps into the power of his people to regenerate health, then breaks through the crowd and dashes across the room. There, he can continue to heal, while calming as many enemies as possible to provide extra respite. If you get the Shadow Warrior perk, you can be sneaking and taking potshots with your bow instead.


    Quests/Quest Lines to Do 

    Main Quest – This is what the Shaman has been preparing for his whole life, and now, having discovered his destiny, he is going to stop at nothing to defeat Alduin. As he grows in power, he finds allies in the Blades, who provide him with tools and aid in dragon-slaying. However, he is put off by their bloodlust (which calls to him, although he doesn’t like to admit it) and ultimately finds himself drawing closer to the Greybeards.

    Dragonborn – The Shaman thought his life’s work was complete when he vanquished Alduin, but he soon discovered another threat: an ancient Dragonborn, who is using his power for cruel and self-serving ends. Although you have no love for Dunmer (and they, in turn, have no love for you), your duty necessitates a journey to Morrowind to challenge Miraak and save innocents the world over.

    Dawnguard – What’s a Chosen One to do when they’ve fulfilled their prophecy? Find a new one, of course! After encountering a vampire infestation in Morthal/battling a vampire raid, the Shaman decides to investigate the Dawnguard and their claims of a growing vampire menace. Although the temptation of the blood is strong, these monstrosities subvert the circle of life and must be stopped from gaining further influence.

    College of Winterhold – The Shaman first visited here when searching for an Elder Scroll, and was surprised to find that it was an excellent learning institution. Now he plans to study more and hone his magical skills, and maybe just save the world (again). Of course, any bonuses in the form of Archmage’s clothing won’t be refused . . . 

    Companions – You aren’t a conventional warrior, that’s for sure, but they’re forced to admit that you’re a good fighter. If you want, take this time to level your non-magic skills –maybe take up blocking or dual-wielding. However, the Shaman finds the transformation into a wild and bloodthirsty mammal discomfiting (not to mention the whole eternal-hunt-with-Hircine deal), so he cures himself as soon as he can.

    Riften Skooma Trade – Skooma is a curse upon Argonians, and the Shaman will be pleased to help rid the world of the scum that peddles it. 

    The Break of Dawn – The Shaman shares Meridia’s distaste for necromancy and the undead, and he will find her artifact a great boon.

    The Black Star - Daedra and Goddess of Dunmer she may be, but Azura’s Star is phenomenally useful, especially if you’re going to be enchanting a lot. (You find capturing the souls of sentient beings abhorrent, so stay away from Nelacar.)

    Other Daedric quests are permissible, so long as you are not doing anything amoral.


    Quest Lines to Not Do

    Civil War – The Shaman finds no reason to sympathize with either the empire -who have traditionally been oppressors and conquerors of his people, as well as the ones who condemned him to death without a trial- or the Stormcloaks, who are massively racist and fighting for a god the Shaman couldn’t care less about. Pick a random side at Helgen, and then just do Season Unending. (Unless you really, really want the third word of Slow Time.)

    Dark Brotherhood – The Shaman simply can’t bring himself to end innocent lives. Since Argonians revere Sithis, however, he can’t destroy what is essentially a sacred institution to his people, either. Best to steer clear, unless you are willing to roleplay a dark-troubled-and-angsty period for our hero.

    Thieves Guild – Again, the Shaman, although stealthy, is not a criminal. Unless you really want an excuse to level and train your stealth, and go to great lengths to make up for your wrongs (say, leaving Bersi a nice new dwarven helmet), avoid if at all possible. (Remember, Keerava will tell you where Esbern is, so you don’t have to ask Brynjolf.)

    There you go! Enjoy! (Hopefully.)

  • Member
    March 31, 2014
    Fix your tags, should be Character Build, overall nice idea
  • March 31, 2014

    Juuuuust fixed it, but thanks for the like!

  • Member
    March 31, 2014

    Liking cause Argonian... Nice work for a first build!

  • March 31, 2014

    Very nice first build. I hope to see more from you in the future.

  • Member
    March 31, 2014
    Very interesting... You hoped to inspire, and you did just that. Im getting interested about the lizard people, and thinking of a swamp/marsh theme. +1
  • Member
    February 18, 2016

    Regardless of what game it is, I always have to give a thumbs up to a Shaman Leezurd.