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Character Build: The Bard

Tags: #Character Build Illusionist  #Character Build Bard  #Character Build Mage Armor  #Rank:Legendary 
  • Member
    April 28, 2012

    This build was inspired by the D&D class of the same name, in particular the "Use Magic Device" skill. Thus I present:

    The Bard

    The Bard is very versatile, skilled in combat, some of the arcane arts, as well as a few stealth skills. Rather than become a master of all schools of magic, the Bard prefers to concentrate most of her study to only two schools of magic, Illusion and Alteration. The spells from other schools are handled by her mastery of staves and scrolls, which are always ready to use thanks to her skill in enchanting. The Bard prefers to use potions instead of studying Restoration. The Bard also dabbles in Destruction, to further her understanding of certain magicks.

    The Bard is an agile combatant, prefering to not get hit at all rather than being able to deflect blows with heavy armor. The Bard fights with a 1-handed sword (I prefer the Blades Sword) and uses Alteration to protect herself rather than armor. Enchanted clothing enhances her natural abilites, making her a cunning and deadly opponent in battle. Often it need not even come to battle however, as her poisons, skill in sneaking and Illusion magic are more than a match for many creatures and people of Skyrim.

    Outside of combat the Bard is obviously a skilled enchanter, and dabbles in Alchemy and Smithing as well. Speechcraft is also another of the Bard's strengths, able to get better prices for buying and selling.

    Race:Any. I used Imperial for the skill bonuses and Power, but every race would have some sort of Bard or Storyteller amongst them. But not Orc. You might know what happens to Orc Bards.

    Stone:Lord or Lover. The protection from Lord is very useful, but I prefer to level more quickly and the Lover provides a bonus to all skills.

    Stat Distribution: 2/3/2 in Magicka/Health/Stamina. I used 2 Magicka enchants and don't have any Magicka issues.

    Major Skills:

    Illusion:The Bard is able to affect the minds of her foes with a wide range of illusions. A 'good' Bard might focus more on Calm spells while a more malicious one would focus more on Fear and Frenzy. All perks minus Quiet Casting are critical to the build, and Aspect of Terror synergises brilliantly with Destruction (This will be explained in the Destruction section)

    Alteration:Alteration magic can offer the Bard great utility and protection. Important perks include Mage Armor and Stability.

    Enchanting:The Bard is a master of magical equipment of all kinds, including weapons, clothing, jewelry, staves and scrolls. Enchanting allows the Bard to use her equipment more effectively and recharge enchanted items. Key perks are pretty much everything, and up to an element of your choice in the weapons side. Every soul has a tale to tell, but few bards capture the souls of humanoids.

    One-Handed:The Bard is also a skilled duelist. I prefer to use swords but you could use your weapon of choice. Key perks are Armsman and Fighting Stance.

    Minor Skills:

    Smithing:The Bard prefers to maintain their own equipment. This is primarily used for improving weapons and creating gear to enchant. Only perks are Steel Smithing and Arcane Blacksmith.

    Speech:The Bard is able to haggle more effectively with merchants and convince others. This is mainly and RP skill, but it does have benefits. 10% cost improvements for 1 perk isn't bad, considering how much equipment and potions you'll be buying and selling. In particular staves are quite expensive early on, this helps to alleviate some of that. Only key perk would be Haggling 1.

    Alchemy:The Bard prefers to use Alchemy to Restoration, as it requires far less study to be effective, is more versatile, and leaves more Magicka to be committed to Alteration and more importantly Illusion. Key perks would be Alchemist and Physician.

    Sneak:The Bard is adept in the art of not being seen, as clothing makes very little noise. It allows a Bard to cast Illusions to distract enemies without being seen, and kill unwary enemies without raising suspicion. Only perks needed are Stealth 1 and Backstab.

    Destruction:The Bard has a small degree of understanding about this school of magic. This is used to improve the damage on the Destruction staves used by the Bard. In addition, some of the Bard's expertise in Illusion has improves one of the basic spells, Flames, immensely. What I mean by this is the Aspect of Terror perk in Illusion is bugged to give all fire spells (not from staves/scrolls though) +10 bonus damage. This means it doubles the damage on Flames, making it effective at much higher levels. Key perks include Novice Destruction, and rank 1 in the elemental perks to improve staves and weapons.

    Sharwen demonstrates her mastery of magic items

    Alternate Builds:

    Light Armor:Some Bards prefer to wear light armor. In this case they focus less on Alteration and more on Smithing and Light Armor. (Don't put perks into Alteration, divert them into Smithing and Agile Defender.)

    Restoration:Some Bards don't have the patience to master the art of Alchemy, instead preferring to study Restoration magic. (Put all Alchemy perks into Restoration).

    Equipment Notes:

    Weapons:Since the Bard is only skilled in tempering Steel, not as many options are open. I used a Blades Sword, although a Scimitar, Skyforge Steel, Nord Hero or Honed Ancient Nord weapon would work equally well. I enchanted my weapon with 5 Shock damage, as I will have to recharge it less thanks to Soul Siphon. You can get a Blades Sword from Fultheim at the Nightgate Inn without even starting the main quest.

    Staves:Staves are a very important part of the build. Important staves are your Conjuration ones and higher-level Destruction ones.

    Clothing/Armor:Since most Bards use normal clothing, they have alot of options for customisation. Here's some of my favourites:

    From left to right: Tavern Clothes with Jade and Sapphire Circlet, Fine Clothes with Adept Hood, Hammerfell Garb with Adept Hood, Ulfric's Clothes with Silver and Sapphire Circlet

    The enchants I used were Health on the body piece, Magicka on the necklace and circlet, One-Handed damage on the gloves and Stamina on the boots. Once you have Extra Effect, the remaining enchants would be tailored to your playstyle. I'd probably go with a few spell cost ones myself, to make the staves more efficient.

    In addition, the Azura's Star is incredibly important. It pretty much ensures you never run out of charges if you soul trap each enemy and gives you plenty of enchanting XP.

    Combat Notes (Video):

    To open combat I start with a few Illusion spells. An easy way to take a few people out of a larger fight is to frenzy one, then quickly followed by fearing the others. That way they'll chase each other away from everyone else. As you may notice in the video below, I something else that works is to calm someone then sneak attack them for an instant kill. Another thing in the video, particularly noticable towards the beginning, is something I like to call 'distractions'. When you frenzy someone they automatically put their weapon away and pull it back out, giving you time to make a few strikes against them while their guard is down and they can't attack you.

    Mounted Combat: Limited use. The only thing the Bard has that can be used from horseback is her sword, which is far more effective on foot.

    Shouts: The most useful ones would be Elemental Fury, Disarm and a Breath attack, as well as Throw Voice. Combining Throw Voice with an AOE Frenzy works great. Some others to note for RP would be Call of Valor and Dismay.

    Roleplay Notes:

    I'm not one for presenting players with who their character is, but I'll give a few ideas. Perhaps you came to Skyrim to learn more about the stories of the province, but ended up becoming one yourself. Perhaps you are interested particularly in the Daedra, and acquiring one of their artifacts. Or perhaps you simply wanted to visit the Bard's College, and became wrapped up in something far bigger...

    Sample Level 25 Build - Sharwen

    170 Magicka | 220 Health | 160 Stamina

    Illusion (61):
    Novice Illusion, Apprentice Illusion, Illusion Dual Casting, Hypnotic Gaze, Aspect of Terror, Animage, Kindred Mage

    Enchanter 3,  Soul Squeezer, Soul Siphon

    Novice Alteration, Apprentice Alteration, Mage Armor 1

    Armsman 2, Fighting Stance

    Haggling 1

    Stealth 1, Backstab

    Steel Smithing

    Novice Destruction, Augmented Flames

    Alchemist 1

    It should be pretty clear what the focuses of this build are, so feel free to tailor the rest of the build to your own playstyle - notable perks are mentioned in the skill descriptions.


    Well, I hope you enjoyed it, feel free to leave any constructive criticism/feedback/questions, and don't forget to 'Like' if you, well, liked it!

  • April 28, 2012

    Cool build Ponty! The combination of aspect of terror and fire is a new one to me and its interesting that it basically doubles the potency of novice flames (and therefore flame cloak as well). I'd have maybe placed much heavier emphasis on this in the build description as its what makes this truly unique, it would have been interesting to see some of these spells under the effect of a fortify destruction potion. Kind of a "bards flame" signature, flame cloak + flames = 40+dps. (Thats the same damage as rapid fire fireballs, even more if your double/duel casting) You could create a great build around this alone (waits for someone to steal the idea)

    I noticed that like me you sometimes use illusion as a stun spell, as it basically forces an npc to 'reset' during battle. Cool touch.

    The skillset is a little chaotic, but thats what a bard is; the classic jack of all trades!

    Nice work!

  • Member
    April 28, 2012

    The original plan involved only getting to Novice Destruction to get the 25% elemental damage bonuses to use with staves, I only found out the Aspect of Terror thingy at about level 24 (when I got Aspect of Terror) so I wasn't going to change the entire build around that!

    *Presents build idea on a silver platter*

  • April 28, 2012

    I would have!! Changed the entire build i mean. It would have warranted a completely new playthrough if it was me to fully explore the posibilities! Cool little perk discoveries like that are rare these days and get people hopping.

    Character Build: The Terra Flame by Ponty **crowd goes mad for it** lol

  • April 28, 2012

    Ooooooo! Or how about a Mabrigash!! **bounces about in glee, creative juices seeping from every pore**

  • Member
    April 28, 2012

    I'll probably do that actually. I put too much thought into the build itself to change it when I was about to present!

    Hmm, Warmage sounds good! Might just get Illusion for Aspect of Terror, you've got all the good stuff at Apprentice anyway!

  • April 28, 2012

    A bard, has been a long time since i've seen something like this. The last good one I remember was in Oblivion. :'D It seems like a solid build to me. I always enjoy wearing clothes since it's so dangerous, esspecially (?) when you're not into sneaking. That little glitch is very usefull tho', I think you should focus more on flames.

  • Member
    April 28, 2012

    I only discovered it 2 levels before I was 'finished' testing; I'm going to make another build based on it.

  • April 28, 2012

    I feel speech should be the primary skill in this build. I know it really doesn't help too much in survivability, and it is a hard to master skill, if you practise it only on shops, but speech 30 and one-handed 52 are hardly the results you expect to see from a bard's training. I blame Bethesda, not you, because the speech skill should be more important and more used - in fact I think it should be diveded among 3 skill trees with their own perks: one for barter; one for diplomacy/streetsmart; and one for lore/spellcraft. Sorry about expressing this reservation - the build is as cool as it could be, on the circunstances, and it gets a like from me.

  • April 28, 2012
    ricardo thats exactly what i was thinking. Also as roleplay i would carry around a musical.instrument.