Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Event Build: The Mechanical Artificer

  • February 10, 2015

    "Another day,another story, whoever told you kids that writing would be fun, well they're lying to you. Okay maybe my Publisher just sucks but I'm broke, did too much work and wrote a bunch of crappy stories, or ones I didn't like as much because they sold better. Anyway you're not here for that you want me talk about being an Artificer don't you. Well we're a league of highly trained Archers who use traps both physical and magical to take down Bandits and other assholes, sorry I mean threats to the public. I personally use a Crossbow but whatever, anyway I don't now why I'm writing this all out, you want to hear about explosions don't you. Yeah of course its always the Explosions "


    Race: Wood Elf

    "Aye I'm Elven what of it, never seen a bulky one before have you, well I'm a little different then your average tree-dweller, stocky, a little large around the, well everything. Oh and I don;t live in a tree and worship the flower stuck to my backside. 

    Stats: 0/2/1

    "I have no need of magic, a slight birth defect means I cant really access it, its complicated let's leave it at that. Since I'm not exactly a fast moving guy I like taking it slow, look at the scenery, trap some guys in Explosions, you know peaceful things."

    Magical Traps (Spells): Ash Rune, Poison Rune and Fire Rune

    "Alright you know how I said it's complicated, well it is. I don't have access to my Magicka stores nor can I use it as defined in High Rock (My home). Here in Skyrim most scholars (alright its only two but that's a large portion of scholars here) told me that the way I place magical traps, technically I guess it is magic but I don't consider it that way, its more of an enchantment process and that is something I can sort of do."

    Powers and Shouts: 

    Powers: Secret of Arcana, Mora's Grasp, Seeker of Shadow, Dragonborn Frost, and Black Market/Secret Servant. 

    Shouts: Aura Whisper, Disarm, Frost Breath, Ice Form, Throw Voice. 

    I chose each Shout to work well in combination with Shouts. Ice Form is for earlier in, before you pick up Dragonborn Frost and is a good Shout to use when you need to get away. Disarm can be useful against lower level archers, forcing them to either move away and recollect their weapon or even force them into melee combat. Aura Whisper allows you to detect enemies and be insanely useful in tight spaces, especially once you pick up Silent Casting. Throw Voice is a major part of this character's repertoire, the ability to move enemies wherever you want (more or less) is amazing for any character that uses traps, move them into runes, oil spills or even their own traps.  

    "Okay gather around dear readers, I Teth the Story Teller, The Artificer, The Dragonborn of Legend and Writer Extraordinaire is here to read a story, well I mean I'm getting paid to do it and I was forced by my Publisher but anyway, he's a dick lets move on. My name is Teth, I had a family name once but my genius of a father got it stripped from us. He had this Murder Plot and It failed, I think who knows his goal might have been to get himself murdered. Anyway to make a long story short he got us all, my family that is out of High Rock, genius he was. So after that, my mother she moved to Cyrodiil, me and my brother just sort of wandered around. We weren't exactly similar us two, he was more of a fighter, you know bigger, stronger but not as smart, or good looking but that's a matter of Opinion, I always loved him though, he was family, proper family who always stuck by me. Anyway where was I, oh me well lets say Cyrodiil was good for my career back then, stealing, the Thieves Guild was still around and blooming and well I fit right in didn't I, well until I left. See around a decade ago the Thieves Guild there got a new leader, he wasn't moral you could say, he didn't care about killing or rules and started to delve into Mercenary Work and  a bunch of other things that weren't stealing. I was a thief but I was no murderer, I didn't want anything to do with Slaves or any of the other shit he started so I left.

    I guess nothing else happened until a few years ago, we started this expedition down in to an old Dwemer Ruin, it took weeks to just get the entrance opened and after it did we could... we could tell it was...different. There was a power behind it, in it, around it even that wasn't in any ruin we'd ever seen. I told him not to go in, that we should just stay away, find another one but he was obsessed with it, he couldn't leave, he barely drank or ate just looked around. I wanted to leave but he was my brother if something had happened and I wasn't there I...I couldn't bare it. So I stayed and everything, and I mean everything went wrong. 

    I don't know how to describe what we found and I wont, I don't want that happening to anyone else and I''m not talking about it, all you need to know for the sake of this story is that only I'm alive now. And that's how I found myself here, telling stories for a few coins in some pub or whatever you call it, I'm not poor but hey I've got nothing better. Have your money back, this isn't a story I'm selling."

    Archery: This is the main skill for this build and for most of the game is the only attacking skill. Crossbows are the preferred weapon so that we have both a positive and a negative, dealing large amounts of damage is of course a great thing but at the sacrifice of some stealth making it not exactly viable for this character to play as an assassin, but more on that later.

    Sneak: Is a different choice for this build, with the use of the Crossbow this character can't function as an invisible sniper, this means I must have something else in store for this skill right. Well you're right I do this character uses something called Trapping, yes Trapping, a chunk of his style is throwing around Traps or leading enemies into Traps. The need to spend a little time setting these up means a place to hide is nearly impossible to skip over, I could have gone fore temporary Invisibility but a lot of traps don't work so well in combination so Stealth gives us the opportunity to stay hidden and alive. 

    Lockpicking: Lockpicking was a weird choice for me, or at least it was when I first started, later on it all started to make more sense and fit better and better. A starting point is this Character's History with the Thieve's Guild, a Thief needs to know his way around a lockpick after all, that's the first reason. Then the Second one came along at around level 30, Treasure Hunter and Golden Touch made this character's playthrough, well lets say gathering money was never a concern.

    One-Handed: I chose One-Handed to give me some way to fight back if an enemy gets to close, I didn't heavily perk this skill but the Dual Wielding Skills were very useful. 

    Alteration: Alteration is pretty much chosen for the Ash Rune Spell only, there are a few perks chosen purely to make the character more resilient an tougher, for a reason I'll explain later perks focusing on reducing Spell Costs is completely unnecessary.

    Restoration: Is completely unperked, I have no need to improve my healing rate because I don't heal myself with, Wards aren't used because I'm mainly an Archer and I don't need the perks that reduce my spell costs (again I'll talk about that later) but I list it here because Poison Rune is an important part of my arsenal (and for those who do need the healing you can take it)

    Illusion: I picked up Silent Casting as the main thing, the rest of it is purely chosen to get up to that level, as for getting up the skill I recommend just getting trainers ( to do it, we don't run any Illusion spells at all but for this build Silent Casting allows me to drop Runes easier and most importantly I can use Shouts silently as well.

    Pickpocket: Another Backstory based skill here, using Pickpocket is really only an early game thing where you steal to get money and progress in the main quest you'll be doing (Thieve's Guild). Later on it can be used but the only high level skill I'd recommend would be Poisoned and Extra Pockets.

    Smithing: I picked up Smithing purely to keep my Crossbow's damage up, well and I didn't want to buy all of the bolts and crossbows, that gets very expensive. 

    Destruction: I chose perks here to give my main Spells (runes) a bit of extra range, without the Rune Master perk Runes are very difficult to place for a sneaky character, the extra range is actually life-saving. 

    So the Equipment might look sort of odd, why would I go for the Heavy/Light combo when I could have stuck with Light Armour and gotten the whole Thieve's Guild Armour set which would have given boosts to early game armour. But I'm a fan of my armour looking, I don't know right and to me I tried all sort of combos until I fell in love with this one, the set looks amazing and even if it meant sacrificing armour and not picking up the Light Armour Skill I actually prefer being weaker because it gave this character a weakness behind it, I had the same thought for the second set of armour but I also wanted to boost the characters armour and enchantments even a little bit. 

    Alright this is where this character shines, in fact combat is so vast with this character I'm splitting it into two parts, normal combat and my Traps. Now in combat this character is fairly simple, you fight as an Archer, not a stealthy one though, opening up with a sneak attack is alright enough but dealing with them, should be done in plain view.

    What makes this character interesting is his usage of traps around him, rather then snipe enemies from range, The Artificer excels at closer ranged archery, using his wide array of traps to make sure enemies can't really get close. You won't be standing up where a Warrior can't reach you, instead you'll be down there in front of him, constantly staggering him with your crossbow and damaging them with several traps, including Runes, Spider Scrolls and a Wall of Flames Staff. This will allow you to deal massive damage in a short period of time but also makes you start thinking strategically, where are choke points, how many enemies are coming, how many enemies there are and that sort of thing. 

    Archers: A character with exactly the same skill set as you, well more or less anyway, just remember that you have a Crossbow which does more damage then anything they can do to you. Of course its fairly rare to come across an Archer all by themselves, I tend to like dealing with them last because with my Crossbow I'm hardly a mobile warrior, dealing with melee enemies will mean I can fight the enemy that won't just rush me. General Strategies can include using Oil Spiders and Exploding Fire Bolts in combination to deal a lot of damage to enemies and using simple cover, my main weakness is mobility against archers but with enough cover I can hit them, stagger them (most likely) and then get behind cover. 











    Warriors: Your first and easiest target, dealing with them isnt difficult because of the Crossbows Armour Penetration, all their armour is doing now is slowing them down. General Tactics are shooting them until they get close and then switching to two daggers or you could use the Staff of Fire Walls to block yourself in (and if they attack deal damage) and then dodge around in it, you don't take damage but they sure will.

    Mages: A bit of a challenge, they get those pesky Flesh Spells to boost up their armour and they don't sacrifice any mobility in doing so. Not to mention the whole ranged spells thing, that can get deadly if you don't watch out for it. Oh and summoned creatures, they can appear at any time and can be a real game-changer. General Tactics include using the Exploding Spiders and Shooting Exploding Bolts as well to make a sort of minefield that can disrupt them, or at least kill them quickly. Higher Level Mages (Dragon Priests and the like) are one of your biggest problem because of how powerful they can be. 

    Dragons: Let me quote a build of mine that deals with Dragons exactly the same, I know it might seem a little lame to quote myself but. well they deal with it the exact same way.

    No, no, no, no. These are unacceptable to fight,  run, and then run more and continue running until you think you’re safe and then run more until you know maybe a day or two later, yeah you might be safe then.

    And that my friend is how this character deals with Dragons, he can't stand up to them and at higher difficulties (I played on Expert for this one) you cannot deal with their breath attacks at all, It's better to not be near them, ever but you have to fight at least a few because of the main quests and when you do just hide, maybe have a follower tank them and then come out for Crossbow Shots to the face and then hide, basically you find cover and occasionally shoot them in the face with EXPLOSIONS.

    Groups (Late Game) : Alright this is where the character actually shines guys. Groups, especially human groups (Bandits, Reavers and Mages among other things) this is where trapping truly becomes an Art not just a weapon. The general strategy is for later on, I'll cover Early Game soon. You always want to start of by using your once a day Black Book Power, Secret of Arcana. Without using it you cannot, I repeat cannot cast magic, well technically you can but the point of this build is you don't. This means that you have 30 seconds to deal as much damage with Runes as possible, not a lot of time is it?

    Well the secret is Rune Master, I don't know the exact details but the range becomes fairly significant (apparently 5 times more range but I have no idea what it becomes) with this perk and while you won't be clearing a larger fort or an entire city (not that you'd do that anyway) a simple Bandit Camp can be easily taken down with 30, Runes, Patience and some smart thinking of course you have other traps at your disposal so don't completely rely on Runes. Anyway I'll start a scenario to give you a solid idea of this characters combat role.

    Combat Scenario (Halted Stream Camp):

    Outside of the entrance to Halted Stream camp you will come across four Bandits outside, their exact location when you come in is obviously different because they move around but I found that letting them now roughly where I am was always useful (for the purposes of the scenario I entered closer to Whiterun with the  Bone Chimes covering the gap) there is a three step plan to dealing with a camp like this but the traps used, exact way you do it and other things can be changed to suit your preferences. 

    1: Examine the target location: 

    This is the first step, going in without knowing what you're walking into is a way to die, very quickly in fact. Examine the location with a combination of your eyes and then using Eagle Eye, Steady Hand might make it annoying and honestly I contemplated not taking it but hey it's a good perk. Anyway this is the time for you to scope out your enemy, figure out their movements, places they stop and also to scope out the battlefield.

    Halted Stream Camp for instance has four enemies outside, two entrances and a great place to look down on. Things to watch out for are the archer/s who often take up a moving position and probably won't get close to you and the mage that is usually stationed there. 

    2: Bring Enemies closer to you. 

    The aim is to maximize the amount of traps set off and traps you can use, when you start off it can be difficult to judge the exact distance you should have between you and your enemy but once you figure it out then start drawing them there. Throw Voice and Crossbow Bolts are the best ways to do this without revealing your presence (I suggest Throw Voice over the Bolts because it's quieter) 

    From the hill outside Halted Stream Camp (the one that is roughly between both entrances) you have a few options, you could take to the left and bring them out further or bring them to the open field to your right, I would suggest the right because they'll flood through one entrance (the right hand one) and they'll be easier to pick off (and they have a decent amount of room for your traps to be set off) 

    3: Power up and lay some traps:

    Alright this is the point where the build shows how deadly it can be, start by using Secret of Arcana so you can lay some runes and try and make sure they are almost instantly triggered, you have thirty seconds of runes but I suggest leaving one hand open for either Spiders or the Staff and lay some traps. Of course when you're Power runs out (or you want to finish it off) switch over to the Crossbow and inflict some damage. 

    There isn't a whole lot of Roleplay for this build only a few simple, well I don't like calling them rules but they sort of are. 

    1: No Magicka

    "Yeah I told you about this one, I can't touch Magicka, well I can't use it anyway. No I can't heal it or anything but I did find a way around it. I'll talk more about it when it becomes relevant" 

    2: Write a bit of a story (optional)

    "I'm a writer, I jot stories down all the time, good ideas, bad ideas, all of it. The only thing important is that I write what I enjoy, it doesn't have to sell or even be that good but if I enjoy it I'll write about it. 

    Spiders: Spiders are the most common trap I used, throughout my playthrough. Because they don't need to be charged like staffs) and cost no Magicka they become very easy to use and most importantly they don't break the rule of never using Magicka. The only problem is they are relatively hard to come across, I recommend saving up those Flawless Gems. The main idea is to keep enemies weak and away from you, Exploding and Oil Spiders are the best ones but I liked the occasional Cloaked Spider or Jumping one. 

    Staff of Fire Walls:

    "This is an interesting staff, from what I can tell it spews out some sort or oil and then lights it on fire in an instant. I don't know the technical side but it's fun. My favorite technique is to light the floor around me on fire and have enemies try and attack me."

    Secret of Arcana: 

    "Alright here is my secret, I went to Hermaeus Mora for a clue on my problem, I liked the idea of magic but I could never use it. I never got to talk to him about it but one of his Black Books gave me this power, the power to not use magicka but cast spells. A miracle some would say, well for me it was more a new experience something that was weird but I was going to use it to my advantage."


    "Runes make up a large part of my arsenal, one is a deadly poison that weakens most living enemies, another seals the enemy in ash and stops them from moving and my third sets of a fiery explosive. My general strategy is to throw these down somewhere, I can guide my enemies into them with a shout I picked up. The Ash Rune works great all the time and the other two are more about damage and they work against Bandits very well indeed."

    Thieve's Guild:

    "Aye I'm a thief, a good one too, I was never so good at picking pockets, more so breaking and entering (without the breaking). I guess after the last Guild I was in fell apart I haven't had much to do, joining this guild seemed like a dream come true. But you know the leader here is also, how to put it nicely, well he doesn't have morals, he doesn't care about Guild or anything so yeah no good."

    Skyrim Main Quest, 

    "Alright so apparently I'm this big bad Dragonborn fella, who's supposed to save the world or something, I don't really get it and if you think about it for to long it can hurt your head a little but regardless I can Shout better then anyone and thus I have to kill some Dragons, couldn't it have been I don't know someone else."

    Dragonborn Main Quest

    "Okay so the first bit with Dragons isn't enough now I have to deal with this Ancient Dragonborn guy who is more powerful than me in every single way, wonderful"

    Dawnguard (Dawnguard):

    "Okay so I guess I'm becoming a savior but these guys have this amazing Crossbow design and wouldn't share it unless I helped kill some Vampires, now I killed one of the most dangerous Vampires ever, in existence and I finally got my hands on one of these sweet Crossbows, oh and get this, I can make explosions with these Bolts they can make."

    Neloth's Quests/Black Books:

    "I like this guy, an old wizard who lives in a mushroom I could totally get a story out of that. Anyway I guess I better do this old mans errands, who knows he might give me an interview, that would ring in some money."

    Imperial Legion: 

    "Alright fine, I broke some law or something in Solitude and now I've been forced into combat for the legion, well it was a choice between Execution and serving our glorious Emperor, yeah Living is fine by me" 

    On the Build: Alright lets wrap it up here, this build has officially been one of my longest projects to date and I hope the build shows that, I'd like to mention that this build is based off of Varric Tethras from the Dragon Age series, he's one of my favorite characters in any RPG full stop. I hope those who have played can see the character in there more or less because I really wanted to bring it forth, as some of you know I don't write my builds, I let the characters write them for me, I really hope the feel of the build is sort of a semi-serious but funny guy. 

    Special Thanks: Thanks to Golden Fool and  Alice who did some of those great looking Equipment/Perk Spreads you can see up there, in fact they've done most of them for my builds and have been a great help. Also Vazgen has been a huge help with some of the trap stuff and I have to thank him and Phil for helping me with the armour, I don't think it would look half as cool if they didn't help out.

    Also Eowyn Cloud helped out a lot by talking about some gameplay/general ideas with me, without Eowyn's help this build would be a lame Archer Assassin (which I didn't want but Eowyn helped me come up with the Magic idea.) And Tae for the amazing screenshots provided, the build wouldn't be the same without them. 

    Who else oh yeah our Host, Noodles and Albino these guys hosted the Event and put up with my switching all the time. 

  • Member
    February 10, 2015
    And Varric has entered Skyrim! This is really well put together DB! Love the presentation,a creenshots. Sadly, no glorious chest hair, but awesome work. Also, if you choose to add the name I gave you, don't forget to credit who helped you come up with the new name for your crossbow.

    +1 Anyway. Gonna give this a go, Verona, Teth's coming!
  • February 10, 2015
    I can't change her name, you saw how well I've delt with changing Varric's name, I just can't change it. Thanks for the help on that anyway Chris and I'll thank you for the comment and like as well, it's a two for one deal.
  • Member
    February 10, 2015

    I'm still sad about the serious lack of chest hair in this build. Although other than that I love it.

  • Member
    February 10, 2015

    Really well-written! Loving this, Dragonborn 

  • Member
    February 10, 2015
    This build is still manly without. Now, I. Off to find a mod that adds chest hair
  • February 10, 2015
    Ill have to live with Skyrim limiting me. Thanks for the comment and like though Golden.
  • February 10, 2015
    Thanks Tae, glad you think it was written well.
  • Member
    February 10, 2015

    I love this portrayal of a wood elf, another Bosmer I can like  Also, like how a fair bit of this is written from the charcter's point of view.

    Thanks for the credit, but there is really no need. Others helped you far more than I did

  • February 10, 2015

    "There's a recipe to a good hero, Hawke. It's like alchemy. One part down-to-earth, one part selfless nobility, two parts crazy, and you season liberally with wild falsehoods. You let that percolate through a good audience for a while, and when it's done, you've got your hero."

    Good job, DB. But where is your Hawke? :D