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Character Build: The Factotum

Tags: #Character Build Bound Weapons  #Character Build No Crafting  #Race:Orsimer  #Rank:Mythic  #Character Build Everything  #Henson 
  • Member
    April 21, 2014

    It has been awhile CB and that is due to a few factors. This character has changed so much that the original idea is gone. It went from a Thaumaturge, to Beguiler, to Shadowmage, and I eventually wanted to see if I could do all of those and more in one build. I have seen few true "jack-of-all-trades" builds in the truest sense. Those that I have seen are sometimes missing a few things that I personally enjoy OR they are just straight up crafting nightmares. I wanted to present a build that could be everything by representing all of the skills with no glitches, exploits, or crafting as I sometimes get bogged down with those and can make the game not fun anymore.

    The Factotum

    This build has been in the works for awhile and before getting into it I want to thank the generous Skype peeps with helping make sense of any of my scrambled ramblings (Tim Faroe, Ponty, Skally, Matt Feeney, Dragon, Vazgen, Jo, Snacks, Ky). You have all helped along the way in major ways.

    Factotum, from the Latin fac totum, "do/make everything." A build that does all, seeks all, and accomplishes all. Skills in Skyrim are broken down into three paths: Magic, Combat, and Stealth. Through the use of all 3 in unique ways, I was able to dive into each and every one (negating those grindy crafting skills!) and still come out on top in one of my most extensive builds I have attempted. The result was a really fun character that could approach any quest and any enemy and have the know-how and capability to succeed with any choice that I made.


    Race: Any, I chose Orsimer.

    Stone: The Lover. Learn all skills 15% faster!

    Shouts: All. Key shouts are: Marked For Death, Throw Voice

    Skills: All except for Smithing, Alchemy, and Enchanting. (Light/Heavy Armor swap)

    Armor: Blades Cuirass, Blades Boots, Blades Gauntlets

    Shields: Blades Shield, Auriel's Shield, Torch

    Headgear: Diadem of the Savant. 5% reduction of spell costs in all schools of magic.

    Found Rings and/or Amulets: Peerless...

    Wielding, Archery, Illusion, Sure Grip, Deft Hands

    Weapons: Bound Sword, Bound Bow, Bound Dagger/Mehrune's Razor, Ebony Blade, Wabbajack

    Stat Ratio: 1/1/0 (M/H/S)

    Guilds: All. Favor the College first and branch into the Thieves, Companions, and Dark Brotherhood accordingly.

    Civil War Allegiance: Imperial Legion


    Into The Everything

    You may be thinking this is impossible, unfun, or even the inevitable "not worth it". If you have ever seemed not too satisfied with a character, gotten bored halfway through, or even wondered what it would be like to keep one save file for all of your Skyrim doings, this will be enjoyable for you. I often wondered why I should perk every skill but I found that by doing so, I was committed to the idea that this character can do everything to a reasonable degree and to take charge with key perks in every skill. Here is the level 65 (yes, 65) perk spread that I came up with that honed in the incredible Lover's Stone and taking each skill into the deserving light that each one should be in. 

    Click Here.


    I began this character that with the incredible diversity of the Conjuration skill I would be able to tackle all of the major combat skills that are included within the Combat path. Bound weapons, more specifically the sword and the bow, become the Factotum's bread and butter when venturing the lands of Skyrim. Going along with a heavy focus in the Magic path, Alteration is the tool belt of the Factotum. Utility is the name of the game, providing extra protection both physical and magical, heightened senses, paralyzes, breathing under water, and seeing in the dark. Illusion is interesting as with few perks invested and the ability to dual cast (the only magic school I decided to do so) the Factotum can control basic humanoid and animal enemies up to levels 35-41 with respect to only using Novice and Apprentice skills while helping to cast spells quietly and remain totally muffled in heavy armor. Destruction, sometimes requiring a lot of perk investment to make an element viable, is available to us in the form of runes as they will be dealing 50 damage, and in some cases, for no magicka. (Wait for magicka to recharge before engaging). Restoration is our skill for healing and basic recovery when dealing in our Master difficulty world.


    The Combat skills that the Factotum possesses rely on our magical abilities to form weapons. These bound weapons are conjured to further progress the One Handed (Bound Sword), Archery (Bound Bow), and Two Handed (Bound Battle Axe, eventually Ebony Blade). Since none of the weapons this build uses requires smithing, pure perk damage will assist in taking down enemies with ease with the help of discovered ring and amulet loot which can be interchangeable. Heavy Armor is a great choice for the Factotum as it provides quite a bit of defense (plus Ebony Flesh) which will allow you to take on enemies face to face in any situation. Block quickly became the life saver of this build in severe situations, taking perks to reduce damage taken from physical and ranged damage, spells and magic, as well as added reflexes when dealing with heavy hitters. Diadem of the Savant works with the "Well Fitted" perk and will aid in cost reductions nicely. Wooh to both!


    As the least "focused" of the three paths, the Stealth skills allow the Factotum to truly round out his versatility and delve into the deceptive and stealthy arts. Sneak allows the Factotum to not only stay unnoticed but to deal extreme amounts of damage should he/she so choose to take on a specific area without raising attention. All weapons (barring the Ebony Blade) will benefit from the 6x (Sword), 3x(Bow), and 15x(Dagger) damage boosts when in a hidden position. The Pickpocket skill is invaluable to the true thief and to the Thieve's Guild quest line. Leveling this skill takes little to no time and allows for an immense carry weight of 100lbs. Lockpicking is not often thought of as a "perked" skill but the ease of stealing becomes true when you have quicker hands. Speech is made to shine when you are able to sell any item to any merchant, allowing the Factotum to speak and reason with any shopkeeper or merchant to gain wealth from all over. Light Armor, for the purposes of choosing Orsimer, is not perked. Anyone is more than welcome to choose Light Armor instead of Heavy Armor as it may fit their race/playstyle/RP even better.

    Game/Role Play

    The Factotum, as you can tell from the perk spread, can delve into every skill but does not master any of them. You will inevitably hit the 100 mark in a good number of skills but that will just come from heavy usage of everything. Crafting was not taken in this build to refrain from making the build too grindy (which makes it way too boring for me), too powerful (I hate being overpowered when gaming for real), and too "bound to the tables." Everything available to the Factotum levels organically with pure adventuring and questing. Followers are extremely helpful as well as the temporary summons and minions that come from Conjuration and Illusion.

    As an Orsimer, Bound Weapons become extremely viable through the Berserker Rage racial ability. Effectively doubling weapon damage immediately, even the Bound Bow, tough fights will become simpler when taking half damage as well. Along with playing as an Orsimer, your pariah-type race is well known. Do not squander opportunities given to you and be accepting of everyone. Be the bigger Orc.

    It is not recommended to remain a Werewolf or a Vampire. These skills/abilities tend to take away from the true nature of the basic 18 (14) skills and do not add too much to gameplay IMO with regards to this character build. It will be up to you when you are choosing your particular RP/race and specific gameplay but when an Orsimer is involved I wanted to leave him without any power advantages or weaknesses. This character is also advised to take charge in all quest lines, random encounters, Daedric Lord encounters, and everything in-between. Some "crafting" is to be OK with this build. The occasional steel ingot for our armor (does not require perk for upgrading double), the occasional ring/amulet, and maybe a favorite poison is OK. Your Enchanting skill alone will go through the roof with using and recharging the Wabbajack alone (Azura's Star is key here). I personally did not use any tables, but it would not be game breaking to the build as long as no grinding occurs and no perks are taken. The Staff Enchanter and Imbuing Chamber played a nice addition to magical attacks.

    Fitting The Bill

    The Factotum is hard to pin down as a class in specifics. Their skills, in our case we have 14 in total, pale other classes in that they can mimic the effects of any class they wish. These are taken from Oblivion:

    Magic - Battlemage, Healer, Mage, Nightblade, Sorcerer, Spellsword, Witchhunter

    Combat - Archer, Barbarian, Crusader, Knight, Rogue, Scout, Warrior

    Stealth - Acrobat, Agent, Assassin, Bard, Monk, Pilgrim, Thief

    With just the right amount of perks in each skill the Factotum can shift into any of these roles and then some. It has been an absolute blast to play and one that I highly recommend for anyone who has restartitis. You will be intimidated at first given the sheer amount of perk investment across 14/18 skills in the game but the leveling is some of the fastest I have ever experienced. Whenever it gets slow, go to the skills that you are the lowest in and begin to focus on those. The use of the Lover Stone allows all skills to be learned equally fast and you are never going to feel hindered in your quest to progress as trainers can level you through your vast amounts of eventual wealth to you designated levels in all skills. Nothing is required above 90!

    I was very hesitant to put any race specific pictures or art in this build post as this can be taken on with any of them but I did want to represent what I experienced personally. I highly recommend playing as an Orc not only for their invaluable racial ability but the feeling that they are master "crafters" of their own skill, never being bogged down by difficulties, something an Orc excels at. Please enjoy as I have and let me know what you think.



  • Member
    April 21, 2014
    Henson, once again, you have blown me away with another amazing build.
  • Member
    April 21, 2014

    Boy, Henson, you've outdone yourself this time.

    In a series that has traditionally been a place for number-crunching and efficient leveling, this build really shows off the true step forward Skyrim is -- it's a game where specialization exists alongside flexibility. I suspect this build isn't really for everyone, but it shows off the fact that, in Skyrim, virtually any combination is viable.

    Bravo, sir.

  • April 21, 2014

    Imma go ahead, and say this once. You can build better than this Henson.

  • Member
    April 21, 2014

    I think what's happening is that it's a bit of a turn-off, being constantly assured in the middle of the build that 14 skills will not be too much to handle. Yet at the same time, even with these frequent insistences, I'm not convinced. Juggling even just eight or nine skills has always been difficult for me.

    In the writeup, and from looking at the perk spread, none of the skills really seem necessary to the build; none of them define/inform combat, tactics, or even roleplay. The only apparent reason for them to be there is to fulfill the goal of generalism.

    When you're running this many skills, spell/gear selection just feels rather arbitrary. Either you're constantly changing your loadout to suit a different style, which takes away a lot of potential for the character's identity (not to mention being quite tedious) or else you're really limiting your character's functionality due to the nature of a rigid loadout.

    There's also the issue of limiting yourself based on how much utility you can get out of each individual skill, when you're trying to allocate a limited number of perks.... Many of your other builds, Henson, have such great synergy -- getting the most out of minimal investment of time/effort/perks. This one looks as though it sits on the opposite end of that spectrum.

    And for a build that uses so many skills, the writeup is rather barebones. I feel like this is actually one of the shortest writeups you've posted in the past year and a half at least. That makes it a lot harder for us to get a grasp of the character -- his motivations, how he balances the skills, what he prioritizes, how he approaches different scenarios, etc.

  • April 21, 2014
    The utopian MK.2
  • Member
    April 21, 2014

    I'm sure there will be plenty of people with tons of superlatives to bestow upon you, so I'll just skip right to it and say +1. I was thinking the other day that someone just take a shot at an updated version of Narm's Utopian build (one of those crafting nightmares as you put it) since the 1.9 patch allows you to get all the perks in the game and the Dragonborn DLC opens up some new opportunities, but this is even better.

    Did you consider Breton as a race choice? They get more useful skill bonuses (drops the useless Smithing and Enchanting bonuses for a much appreciated +10 to Conjuration and some other skills, the only useless boost being to Alchemy), the 25% magic resistance means you could drop the Magic Resistance perks in the Alteration tree to put them elsewhere (a great boon for a jack-of-all-trades build), and Dragonskin, while not as useful as Berserker Rage, is still a very good Greater Power that would work well with the build. I'm not saying that Orc was a bad choice, I love them actually, but Breton seems like it'd be more useful to me. Did that Bashnag picture you posted have anything to do with your choice? :P

    I can see why being a Vampire Lord would be a bad choice for the build, but wouldn't regular Vampirism work nicely for the sneak/illusion bonuses? Also, any particular reason for Blades equipment? This seems more like the kind of character who would use whatever random enchanted armor pieces he could find.

    Overall though, this a great build. Might even try it out myself one of these days. Also, I'm likin' the Character Build Everything tag 

  • April 21, 2014

    Excellent. I am currently playing a character very similar to this build. It is a blast to play, and if anyone is wondering, it is viable on 'Master Ironman'. My toon is a Khajiit that just 'lives in the moment' so he uses whatever skills that seem appropriate at any given time.

  • April 21, 2014

    nah, the two builds aren't even close. The utopian relied on the 'alchemical/enchantment fortify restoration loop' glitch for it to work.

  • Member
    April 21, 2014

    You showed something I always wanted to present - that combat skills does not need crafting to be viable. The main premise of the build is to do whatever pleases you, steal, murder, save people, be a hero, everything which can be quite a nightmare to RP. How did you combat it? 

    I like the gameplay flow, I feel that you'll be dependent on the found enchantments for combat, yes? Like finding Fortify Two-Handed enchant will make you use Bound Battleaxe until you find better Fortify One-Handed enchant and so on 

    I'd advise using only the spells you find in random loot. Works much better with this kind of a build and you level almost all skills naturally. 

    Also, I think Illusion can be omitted entirely. Other skills work well together (Bound Bow = Conjuration + Archery, Bound Battleaxe = Conjuration + Two-Handed, Bound Sword = Conjuration + One-Handed) but Illusion is a skill of its own and quite OP even without any other skill. Also, I don't think Destruction works well with this, because of the rune spell cost. With their low damage you have to use many of them to kill the enemy but your somewhat limited magicka pool along with slow regeneration won't allow that. It's best to go with "sustainable" spells like flesh spells, bound weapons and cloaks (if you're too set on Destruction. Adept Destruction only requires 10 more in the skill). 

    I can see myself playing this, with mentioned alterations (and putting a perk in Bribery, because Pickpocket and Bribery work together like a charm), and it's something I don't say about a lot of builds! +1