Skyrim Tips and Tricks » Discussions

An Argument for 'Bash Damage'

Tags: #Tips and Tricks Showcases 
  • Member
    November 7, 2013

    This was an interesting one, there's no other way for me to put it.  I've read all of the popular Skyrim information sources and while it seems people understand the basic bash damage equation there are a few other EXTREMELY important factors that I can't find anyone talking about.  For further reading please check out Nikolaj's discussion on this site.

    This was originally just going to be a basic discussion explaining bash damage but it has developed into something more, this is something that is going to be my next playthrough build (I have only done some basic test runs) because I believe that this can be one of the most effected ways to play Skyrim.  I'm going to first talk about how the bashing formula works and then I'm going to be talking about two key aspects of skyrim that I think might change the way people potentially play a 'Basher Build'.  I promise I'll try and make the first part as quick and painless as possible because it's the second part that is of the real interest here.  This will not be a short read, for that I appologize.


    The actual formula for bash damage is extremely simple but it needs to be covered first so we can later look at how we modify it.  To sum it up briefly, with 100 skill shields bash for 12.5% of their BASE armour rating (AR) and all weapons bash for 25% of their BASE damage rating (DR).  I'll use a few examples for absolute clarity:

    *NOTE 1: All numbers cited are based on ADEPT difficulty

    *NOTE 2: Skyrim does in fact track decimals.  People often claim it rounds damage but it does not, this is a very important thing to remember


    • Base AR of 24
    • Bashes for 3 damage


    • Base DR of 10
    • Bashes for 2.5 damage


    • Base DR of 20
    • Bashes for 5 damage

    For bashing we have two key perks in the 'Block' skill tree that modify bashing damage:

    1. Power Bash allows for a 'Power Bash' that does 3x damage of standard bashing
    2. Deadly Bash is a 5x multiplier to bash damage

    An important thing to note here is that 'Deadly Bash' does not multiply the power bash damage, it multiplies the BASE bash damage.  Power bashes are also multiplied but the key part is when you take this perk even regular bashes are multiplied by a factor of 5; this may seem trivial but it does come into play with bows.  Bows bash for the same 25% of their DR as all weapons do but because you can't do a power bash with them many people think bow bashing is trivial.  As you can guess, Deadly bash gives bows a 5x multiplier to their bash damage as well which makes the high end bows, while nothing amazing, viable for bashing damage.  This concept will come up later and should be of great interest to all people who play as an archer.

    So with our modifiers we now get the following for our three previous examples:


    • Base AR of 24
    • Bashes for 45 damage


    • Base DR of 10
    • Bashes for 37.5 damage


    • Base DR of 20
    • Bashes for 75 damage

    From this we can see two-handed weapons will have the highest bash damage output.  A Dragonbone warhammer with both perks will be bashing for 105 damage which is nothing to sneeze at.  Before I finish this section I must include a few special items:

    • Torches bash for only 0.375 physical damage.  They set the enemy on fire doing 9 damage over 3 seconds (3 damage per second).  People have wondered for years what torch bashing actually does, well there you go.
    • 'Targe of the Blooded' bashes for 2.5 damage and has a unique bleed enchant that does 15 damage over 5 seconds (3 damage per second).  With both perks the Targe will power bash for 37.5 + 15 damage.
    • Dawnguard shields and Silver weapons add their enchantment damage after modifiers

    So now that we've finished with all the formalities let's get onto the really interesting part of bash damage, and my argument for why it is awesome.  This is where we go down the rabbit hole that is Skyrim modifiers and with a little creativity we can make a truly remarkable new weapon.


    Some of you probably saw this coming, to those that are interested in learning more about using this shout please refer to this discussion.  For the shorthand version I'll restate the important information and explain how it relates to this discussion.

    Marked for death damages an enemies 'Damageresist' Actor Value which makes them take increased damage.  The total effect it has after the duration is complete is as follows:

    • 1 Word(s):  Enemy takes 180% additional damage (damage increases 3% per second)
    • 2 Word(s):  Enemy takes 360% additional damage (damage increases 6% per second)
    • 3 Word(s):  Enemy takes 540% additional damage (damage increases 9% per second)

    When we use bashing as an attack it is considered physical damage and thus falls under the 'DamageResist' AV.  What this means is as we modify this value we can also modify the bash damage we do; in this case our basic steel shield with a deadly bash will do the following:

    • Standard:  45 damage
    • 1 word(s):  126 damage
    • 2 word(s):  207 damage
    • 3 word(s):  288 damage

    For those that don't want to wait for the duration of MFD to end then just consider your bash damage increasing by 9% per second as the shout eats away their armour rating; After 11 seconds of 3 words your bashes will already be doing double their original damage and increasing every second.  I mentioned a Dragonbone warhammer doing 105 damage per deadly bash early, after the full effect of MFD that same weapon can bash for a maximum of 672 damage...that is not a typo.  In conclusion bash damage is an amazing weapon and can be more than viable, even on master difficulty!

    What?  There's more?  What the hell...


    This is a topic I have yet to cover for a specific reason but I decided to just go ahead and do it.  Fortify Marksman (Archery in Skyrim) is a bit of a wonky topic to understand.  Enchanting and Alchemy can often have very different properties and this is one of those cases where the two magical effects are very different. 

    When you are using a bow the fortify effect will appear to be doing the same thing, a +25% enchantment raises your damage the same amount as a +25% potion.  Many people are aware (I hope) that Fortify Marksman potions will boost the damage of all weapons and not just bows, people have been using this to boost dagger damage since the game came out.  While many people consider this a glitch it is debatable.  Marksman potions multiply the physical damage value of your outgoing damage and while this seems like an obvious bug on the surface what I think they should have done is call it a fortify damage potion (or something along those lines) as it was never intended to be simply a potion for bows, at least that's not how it was coded.  So what the hell does this mean?

    Just as 'Marked for Death' affects your enemies damageresist, 'Fortify Marksman' changes the offensive equivalent which is why all physical weapons benefit from it...and I mean ALL WEAPONS.  Bash damage is considered a physical attack so by using fortify potions we can boost the damage of our bashes!  I made some +105% fortify potions using basic alchemy gear (+75% Alchemy) you can find from merchants so let's look at some previous examples:


    • Bashes for 45.00 damage (base)
    • Bashes for 92.25 damage (+105% fortify marksman)


    • Bashes for 37.500 damage (base)
    • Bashes for 76.875 damage (+105% fortify marksman)


    • Bashes for 075.00 damage (base)
    • Bashes for 153.75 damage (+105% fortify marksman)

    And before you ask, yes these two things will stack for damage that is absolutely ridiculous:


    • Bashes for 045.00 damage (base)
    • Bashes for 288.00 damage (3 words of MFD)
    • Bashes for 092.25 damage (+105% fortify marksman)
    • Bashes for 590.40 damage (Both potion and MFD)

    Our crappy basic Steel shield is now doing almost 600 damage, care to know what our friend Mr. Dragonbone warhammer can do?  I'll save you the time and just tell you it's 1377.6 damage per bash!  Consider, as well, that I'm using 105% potions where it's possible to boost that far more (Necromage vampires can get boosts pushing over 180%).

    Remeber how I mentioned bows profit from the 'Deadly Bash' perk?  Is there something else a lot of archers use?  Perhaps fortify marksman potions!  The bash damage from a bow probably isn't enough to change the world but if you are an archer that uses fortify potions (you should be) then note that with deadly bash you can bash for up to 50+ damage using a dwarven crossbow...not something to ignore.


    This isn't directly tied into Bashing damage but it is something related to this discussion that people might find useful.  How the 'Disarming Bash' perk works is as follows:

    • The game does a dice roll from 1-100 and if it lands on any number from 1-50 it casts a spell along with your bash (basically a 50% chance to disarm)
    • You must be using a power bash (or deadly bash)
    • Can use shields/weapons/torches to bash
    • Any enemy that is hit by the disarm spell that has a character level of 99 or less will have the weapon in their right hand removed (if dual wielding, left hand weapon is placed in inventory)

    This is a long winded way of saying Disarming Bash has a 50% chance of disarming any enemy under level 99 (except ghosts).  I couldn't find this information anywhere so hopefully this answers this question.


    So there we have it, a comprehensive breakdown (I hope) of how bashing damage works in Skyrim.  There have been a few people that have made videos/threads showing off their basher builds but I can't find any where they use MFD or Fortify potions to boost the damage.  Having run through a few dungeons using nothing but a shield (I was in robes) to bash and using these tactics I was amazed at how insanely good this style is.  With Ebony flesh, the Lord stone and a Daedric shield I was running at almost 400 AR which is 48% damage mitigation and when I blocked (which was always) with maxed out block skill I basically had over 90% damage mitigation and was able to bash for damage into the hundreds while stagger locking everything.  This might be the most overpowered playstyle I've ever used.  For any concerns for Stamina please refer to Vegetable Soup, using soup you will be able to chain bashes for 12 minutes.

    I know a few people were eager for me to write this discussion so I hope I didn't disappoint.  Even though many people know about MFD few seem to use it in builds like this, but I couldn't find anyone talking about fortify potions at all so hopefully this discussion will bring some new ideas to the table.  If there are certain shields/weapons you are wondering about chances are I tried them and they weren't significant enough to mention here.  As always, I thank everyone who takes time to read this and welcome all questions and comments you might have.

    - James


    Now, If only there was another type of combat style that benefited from MFD and Fortify potions that nobody seems to know about...hmm...Stay Tuned!

  • Member
    November 7, 2013
    By any chance are you using the dawnguard rune hammer?

    I played a lot with that hammer and found it to be absolutely wonderful and it can train block, twohand and destruction for ya. If you use vegetable soup you can chain cast fire rune with absolutely no points put into magicka, very powerful. You can also cast fire runes with the hammer while using become ethereal, effectively making you invincible death machine. In fact with 100 conjuration and perks you can summon two flame atronachs with just the base 100 magicka so you could have a master conjurer and destruction mage that has no magicka!

    I'm rambling again...
  • Member
    November 7, 2013

    My understanding is that Berserker Rage, like the Fortify Marksman potion, buffs all outgoing physical damage. So yes, it should have an effect. Though you are relegated to only using it once per day, of course (unless you know something I don't).

    James, this is yet another fantastic and eye-opening writeup. I've half a mind to drop my current WIP build and start a concept for a heavy-armored Khajiit H2H/MFD/Crossbowman, using tactics from all your recent guides. Can't wait to see what you come out with next!

  • Member
    November 7, 2013

    I beginning to think you're going to fit in extremely well around here James!

  • Member
    November 7, 2013

    Going to? He's already arguably contributed more to this group than anyone else, except perhaps Nik, and maybe Ponty. James is the man!

  • Member
    November 7, 2013

    I agree, his discussions are brilliant! Reminds me of Nik's posts.

    Wait...these two guys should team up! That'd be sweeeeeet!

  • Member
    November 7, 2013
    I second that thought.
  • Member
    November 7, 2013

    that sounds fun!

    My hope is that you fine creative people here can use some of this information to make some fun builds.  Next discussion will probably be unarmed, although it is very similar to this one.  Perhaps people can now figure out how I've been doing insane damage with unarmed without wearing any heavy armour or gauntlet stacking or fort. restoration potions.

  • Member
    November 7, 2013

    I think I've been a member here for over a year, I just didn't bother posting much.

  • Member
    November 7, 2013

    I was kicking around some ideas on how to use this and something I was thinking of was combining Spellbreaker with ward absorb and atronach summoning.  Can have spell absorption that doesn't interfer with summoning, have cake and eat it!

    As I mentioned I ran a few dungeons using mostly alteration and a shield and it was amazing, I imagine combining it with a few of the other spell schools would make for a fun character...Restoration being an obvious choice with respite giving you unlimited stamina for bashing.

    Just think about it, a Breton using the Lord stone and a basic shield (with perks) will potentially have:

    ~86% physical damage mitigation

    ~75% elemental magic resistance

    And a weapon that can do damage in the 100's...all with a single piece of equipment.