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Flash Contest Build: The Steel-Clad Direnni

Tags: #Character Build Spellsword  #Character Build Juggernaut  #Character Build Enchanter  #Character Build Alchemist  #Race:Altmer  #Ordinator  #SE Rank:Novice  #Peppo  #Flash Contest 1 
  • May 7, 2018


    "That Men and Mer can interbreed has been known since the first humans began arriving on the shores of Tamriel in the middle of the Merethic Era. However, broad intermingling of Elves and humans only occurred in the far northwest of the continent, giving rise to the race of Men known as the Bretons. Given the history of conflict between humans and the children of Aldmeris elsewhere in Tamriel, how and why did this intermingling occur in High Rock?
    The answer lies in the peculiar (for Elves) culture of Clan Direnni, the once-dominant Mer of northwest Tamriel."
    - The Bretons: Mongrels or Paragons?, by Phrastus Elinhir

    "I am six-hundred-and-eleven years old. I have never had children of my own, but I have many nieces and nephews and cousins who have been raised with the tales and traditions of our ancient, illustrious, and occasionally notorious clan, the Direnni. Few families in Tamriel can boast so many famous figures, wielding so much power over the fate of so many. Our warriors and kings are stuff of legend, and it is not to dismiss their honor and their achievements to say you have heard quite enough about them."
    - De Rerum Dirennis, by Vorian Direnni


     The Direnni are an aristocratic clan of Altmer merchants who became a powerful dynasty ruling over High Rock for hundreds of years. They are usually credited as the people that gave birth to the first race of Manmer, known in the current age as Bretons. In the past, these Altmer would mate with the local Nedes (the "primordial" race of Men) for leisure, but the offspring wouldn't be as privileged as the High Elves themselves and were considered just a slightly better version of the other humans.

     The Direnni clan spawned many important political figures like Raven (who has been said to have created the art of Enchanting) and Vorian (author of the book De Rerum Dirennis and excellent Alchemist) and powerful battlemages like Ryain and Saint Jovron. The Steel-Clad Direnni, however, felt guilty towards Bretons - which is rather surprising, considering he's an Altmer - and started living with them for decades, trying to understand their fascinating culture. He took their passion for trading and exploring, along with a sense of cosmopolitanism.

     As such, the Steel-Clad Direnni is mainly a clever merchant and an eager adventurer: his attitude is much more similar to that of the Breton nobility, his proficiency as a spellsword is just a means to the end.


     Mods are required to play this build, namely Imperious - Races of Skyrim and Ordinator - Perks of Skyrim: they add a lot of variety while keeping things balanced and lore-friendly. In particular, Imperious makes Altmer much less efficient when using swords and armor: this might sound counterproductive for this character, but the flaws are evened by the extra magicka regeneration and boost in Enchanting. Ordinator makes perks a bit less "one-dimensional", although there isn't much difference since this build caps at level 20.

     Other mods which are not required but work well are Andromeda - Unique Standing Stones of Skyrim and Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim to make the Steed Stone a little bit better and add some variety to Destruction spells; I also suggest downloading TK Dodge or other dodge mods to make fights, especially if using a mod that increases difficulty, more balanced since having a spell on your left hand prevents you from blocking with the sword. Last but not least, as the Steel-Clad Direnni is a merchant, you might want to download Your Market Stall or similar mods to add more immersion.




    The Build

    Race: Altmer

    Main Skills: One-Handed, Destruction, Heavy Armor

    Secondary Skills: Speech, Enchanting, Alchemy

    Standing Stone: Steed

    Stats: 1/3/3

    Shouts: none

    Armor: Steel Plate Armor, Imperial Helmet (Closed)

    Weapon: Skyforge Steel Sword


     As you can see, this is quite a strange build for an Altmer: they're not proficient in any of those skills except for a mere +5 in Destruction and Enchanting. What makes this build so challenging is, in fact, playing it on a race that's usually not suited for close range combat, but in a way that's not a complete waste. Thanks to the Imperious mod, the incredible amount of innate magicka regeneration (3.75%!) means you won't need extra items to increase your magicka pool or regen, and the Steed stone makes up for the low carry weight.

     But using Imperious also means Altmer deal much less damage with swords and have a lower armor rating. That's when Enchanting and Alchemy come in handy: there's no need for stronger swords if you can stack up fire damage with Destruction magic and fire enchantments, especially if combining this with potions of weakness to fire or magic. Other potions - like paralysis, slow or even simple poisons - help too.

     In regards to the fighting style, the Steel-Clad Direnni is essentially a spellsword, wielding both Destruction magic and a one-handed sword. The sword should be used for close range combat and bashing dangerous enemies, while Destruction magic is used to start fights and versus multiple foes.




    Clothing and Enchantments


    •  The Steel-Clad Direnni is an experienced warrior, but not a skilled smith: as such, steel plate armor is a good compromise between armor points and accessibility in the earlier stages; plus, it covers the whole body, so the race of the Steel-Clad Direnni remains unseen. The Imperial Helmet is there because it fits well (and for good looks of course) and is easy to find:
    • • The Skyforge Steel Sword can be bought in Whiterun from Eorlund Gray-Mane.
    • • The easiest way to get an Imperial helmet is going to the Shrine of Talos near Froki's Shack.
    • • A full set of steel plate armor minus the helmet can be looted off Umana in Alftand, but since it's a very challenging Dwarven ruin you might want to get a few levels before exploring it and, for the moment, just loot the steel plate armor piece from a mercenary at Black-Briar Lodge. You will need to temporarily substitute the gauntlets and boots with low-tier armor, probably iron.

     But as said in the introduction, fighting is not the only focus of the build. The Steel-Clad Direnni is primarily an explorer and a merchant, having inherited this trait by living with Bretons: knowing the best merchants in Skyrim, blending in with the local folk and even owning a home is what he's looking for. And while he covers his looks when exploring in order to avoid prejudice and envy, he enjoys displaying his wealth to the townsfolk and living a quiet life, as if he was some kind of super hero with a secret identity. Noble clothes are the best choice, but even high quality "common" clothes, like those used by Talsgar the Wanderer or Jorleif, look nice. An Amulet of Zenithar is recommended for obvious reasons.



     As for the enchantments, it is wise to improve Destruction and One-Handed along with Heavy Armor; magicka regeneration is not needed because of the base regen of Altmer, and extra magicka isn't needed either since the main skills of the Steel-Clad Direnni have a low cost.

    Fortify Destruction - Helmet

    Fortify Destruction & Magicka Regen - Armor

    Fortify One-Handed - Gauntlets, Boots

    Fortify Heavy Armor - Ring, Necklace


     The "town set" can be enchanted, too: Fortify Alchemy and Fortify Carry Weight are obvious choices, with Fortify Barter on the necklace (or, even better, an Amulet of Zenithar). No other enchantments are needed, unless you want a ring with Water Breathing for specific situations.




    Perk Spread

     This build caps at level 20 and there are 6 skills to level up, this means the choice is somewhat limited. But, besides the 2 obvious points in skill mastery - which is most of the time just an increase in overall effectiveness - there are other perks to think about: some help in combat, increasing the effectiveness of fire damage or the armor raiting, some help when trading or creating items. Never forget the Steel-Clad Direnni is not only a fighter but also (and I daresay primarily) the descendant of a very noble clan of merchants.


     Clash of Champions, Heavy Armor Fit

     As said before, Imperious makes Altmer less effective with heavy armor, and the reduced starting health doesn't help either. The best way to increase your defenses early on when you still have to find good enchantments is with perks, namely Clash of Champions and Heavy Armor Fit: the former is available from level 30 and is very easy to trigger in combat, while the latter is - talking about armor rating - the most effective perk in the Heavy Armor skill tree. 



     On the other hand, talking about damage, Combustion is the perfect compromise: it's a perk that improves fire damage, which means you benefit from it when using both fire magic and weapons with fire enchantments. I chose two point in this perk over Destruction Dual Casting because I rarely sheathe my sword to equip spells in both hands.  



     This perk might seem unnecessary, especially for a level 20 build, but on an Altmer it's really too good to overlook: Niranye and Nurelion in Windhelm, Taarie and Endarie in Solitude, Calcelmo in Markarth, Nelacar in Winterhold and others all offer a discount with this perk. Levelling up Speech is not easy, but a skill point in Kinship makes the difference.  



     When playing as the Steel-Clad Direnni you should always have some poisons ready: weakness to fire and pure damage are essential if you're exploring a big cave without a follower, and Poisoner improves their efficiency. I prefer taking this perk over Physician or Stimulants because I rarely use potions to regen HP, magicka or stamina, as it makes everything very easy (especially in combat) and kind of breaks the immersion for me. But if you want, go ahead and choose something else.




    Gameplay and Fighting Style


     Despite being a competent fighter, the Steel-Clad Direnni is mainly a trader and adventurer. This means his favourite targets are adventurous quests and dungeons that hide a unique treasure: if a person asks to bring them a mammoth tusk or some bear pelts, you might want to decline the offer; strange occurrencies and Daedric quests, on the other hand, should draw your curiosity. Blood on the Ice is an excellent example, and so is Missing in Action (notice how being an Altmer doesn't mean siding with the Thalmor).



     When exploring caves or ruins, having a sword in your right hand and a spell in your left hand is the main priority: if you find yourself with spells in both hands or just the sword, chances are that the next foe will take advantage of this and hit you when you're still switching between things.

     Flames should be your cookie-cutter spell: a continuous burst of fire is enough to get rid of low level opponents without even getting into melee range, and most of the time you should be able to dish out a good amount of damage to stronger enemies too before switching to melee combat. Firebolt is great as well, it works best versus archers or enemies that are too far.

     When having a spell equipped, a useful trick for emptying the left hand so you can block with the sword is quickly equipping and disequipping a torch: add it to the favourites, bind it to a number and press it twice to remove the spell mid-fight. This trick is invaluable for spellswords since blocking in melee fights is key, plus you probably don't want to break the immersion by pausing, going through the menu and disequipping what you don't need.

     Talking about potions, they are necessary for two reasons: first, you'll have a hard time fighting bosses or high level enemies without poisons of weakness to fire/magic and potions of fortify one-handed; second, the Steel-Clad Direnni is a trader, and obviously there are some concoctions that grant good income.




    Closing Notes

     You reached the end of the guide! I hope I did manage to bring a twist to the common spellsword, focusing on a certain type of damage and armor instead of wielding random weapons and protection without any preference and using multiple schools of magic. Maybe you even learned a thing or two about the lore of the TES series! If you read it all, you have my thanks.


  • Member
    May 7, 2018

    Hot damn Peppo, great job, love the presentation

  • May 9, 2018

    Damn, this is a really good build Peppo. The presentation for this one might be a few steps ahead of your previous builds and just in general I think this is a really, really interesting build. I love the way you've examined the Direnni and made a lot of interesting moves to make 'The Steel-Clad Direnni' feel unique and different from  the others. 

    So yeah, this is just really good Peppo, absolutely love the build. 

  • May 10, 2018

    Oh and thanks for your participation in the Event Peppo, I usually drop that with the first message but been a bit distracted lately. It's always great to see new builds from you, so thanks for participating mate :D

  • May 10, 2018

    Dragonborn1921 said:

    Oh and thanks for your participation in the Event Peppo, I usually drop that with the first message but been a bit distracted lately. It's always great to see new builds from you, so thanks for participating mate :D

    I appreciate your kindness. :D

    Thank you both for the compliments!

  • Member
    May 14, 2018

    Wow, guess I've got something to work up to. Your builds are some of my favorites Peppo and I truly admire the time you put into these. 

    I'll have to update my Mods list and take away a ton of the less important ones. Have too many weapon and armor mods tbh. If you've got any immersion suggestions or redux of most of the armors clarity feel free to leave me a message in my PMs. 

    Thanks for another great build mate!

  • May 16, 2018

    I like this build's simplicity and its play against type. As a person who enjoys using Altmer in non Altmer ways, I say well done! The perkspread is a wee bit hard to read, but blame that on my old and tired eyes. That font is pretty sweet though so I just squinted.