psyk0's One-Size-Fits-All Character Creation Guide Contents 1. Introduction 2. Damage 3. Survival 4. Utility 5. Race 6. General Tips 7. Sample Classes Introduction One of the most common questions asked on the Skyrim Help forum is something along the following lines: "I'm thinking of making a ______, how should I build it?" My advice in almost all of these situations is pretty similar, so I thought I'd write a quick, catch-all guide on which skills are best for which classes, and how best to level those characters. I'll also touch on common challenges in certain play-styles and how you can prepare for them. I hope this guide is useful to budding Skyrim entrepreneurs and seasoned players alike. There are three overall archetypes as outlined by the Skills and Perks system, and most character concepts can be tied in to one, two or even all three of these. The Mage is self-explanatory, really - they use spells to heal, deal damage, and change the tide of battles. The Warrior is the master of combat and survival, while the Thief uses their skills to get around nasty fights or to generate cash. Some of the most successful and entertaining classes can be those based on just one archetype, or with minor dips into a second - but you can get some really interesting results when you mix it up. (Note that for the rest of this guide I'll be colour-coding information based on the archetype in which it fits, so if you're only interested in mages, just read the blue stuff!) Damage For any class, the way you deal damage to your opponents is probably the most important thing you'll need to consider. If you can't hurt enemies, it's all up to your followers, and that’s no fun. For a mage, Destruction and Conjuration can be used for damaging enemies at all distances. When levelling Destruction it's usually a good idea to specialise in one or two schools of elemental damage, as it will allow you to deal increased damage in that school and benefit from special perks. Lightning's a good choice because there aren't many creatures resistant to it, and it drains the magicka of spellcasting enemies; also, because later spells target in straight lines and travel to the target instantly, it's much easier to aim at moving targets. Fire can have spectacular damage output but there are more creatures resistant to it; nowhere near as many as Frost, though. If you go Conjuration, you can choose to summon Atronachs or Zombies to deal with enemies, or you can go the Bound Weapons route - which will require you to focus on Weapon skills too. For a warrior, it's a much simpler answer - one-handed, two-handed, or bows. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses that you can pretty much work out yourself, and each can get ridiculously powerful with later perks. Again, specialisation is the key here to maximise your damage output; if you spread yourself too thin you won’t be powerful enough to keep up with the level of your enemies (which increases as yours does.) Focusing entirely on melee combat can be risky, but you can always pick up a bow and use that – you don’t necessarily need to pump perks into Archery, just a nice bow should be sufficient. Whatever weapon you pick, Smithing goes nicely with it, as it’ll give you access to more powerful weapons. The Thief skills don't really lend towards hand-to-hand combat - with the exception of Sneak - so it's recommended to go with a weapon or magic skill to help. One-handed, and daggers in particular, is a favourite, with Archery a close second; if you want to pick a magic skill, you might want to consider Illusion, both for the crowd-separating capabilities of its spells and for Silent Casting, which helps mages be sneakier. Survival It’s all very well ripping your enemies apart, but if you’re getting beaten up, it doesn’t do you much good. Thankfully there are things you can do to help… Pure mages are reliant on the ‘-flesh’ spells from the Alteration school for their defense. If you want to go this route, take Mage Armor and Resistance as soon as you can, and prioritise those perks above all else. The damage reduction won’t be as masterful as you’d get in armor, but it’s a damn sight lighter and it allows you to wear robes for improved magicka regen. At early levels this can be a very tricky way to play, but the carry space is nice – plus, it looks pretty cool. (Note that Mage Armor only works if your Armor Rating is 0 when you cast the ‘-flesh’ spell on yourself; if you’re getting any armor from any source, you won’t get the improved spell effect.) Restoration is an all-round useful school for any character looking to live a little longer. It doesn’t take much to improve this skill and some of the perks (such as stamina healing) are really handy for any player. Personally I don’t hold much stead with the Wards – I just dodge or heal – but some people go crazy for them. Have a go and see what you think. Heavy Armor and Block are the archetypal defense abilities for a warrior. Heavy Armor is, as you might expect, heavier – it’s also noisier – but combined with Smithing it’ll give you faster access to the Armor cap and can make you a veritable tank. You should pick up the weight-reduction perk when you can, because it’ll make dungeon crawling a lot more efficient, and you can also get improved unarmed damage for brawls and reduced fall damage. (Do note that the ‘wearing-all-the-same-armor-type’ perks are all unaffected by the armor type of your shield!) Block’s a great way to avoid damage and your shield bash can keep nasty enemies stunned, and even interrupt dragon attacks; it’s surprisingly versatile. If you do opt for block, I’d recommend seeking out the Peryite Daedric quest when you’re ready for it, as the reward is very useful. For the thief, Sneak is a great way of avoiding damage – by getting around combat altogether, and picking off enemies with stealth attacks. Not much to say here about the perks – they’re all great for a stealth class. Always bear in mind that enemy detection is based on sound as well as sight, so if you can reduce your armor noise with Muffle (enchants or spells), you’ll find it a lot easier. Light Armor is your other choice and can be just as good as heavy armor, although obviously not as tough; the only difference is that with light armor perks you can get stamina regen, and it’s considerably lighter and quieter than heavy armor. Again, if you’re gonna wear armor, it’s a good idea to work on Smithing to keep yourself in fashion. Utility So you can kill, and you can live. But what if you want to be more than just a killing machine? With careful development your character can build supplementary skills to keep the cash flowing, to make dungeon-crawling easier, and to generally improve your quality of life. Enchanting is useful for any character, in any situation. Period. Whether you’re killing with axes, spells or a dagger in the back, with proper training in Enchanting you can make some of the most powerful weapons and armor possible. It’s a good idea to get a weapon with Soup Trap and a bunch of empty soul gems as early as possible, and before you know it, you’ll have an Enchanter’s Starter Kit in your pocket. I’ve mentioned Smithing a few times in this guide but it bears repeating – with a little bit of effort you can get great results. Be prepared to do some mining and hunting, and make a lot of iron daggers – but, with the possible exception of the pure mage, the results will make a big difference to you and your follower. Lockpicking and Pickpocketing are very useful for increasing your cash flow. It’s highly unlikely you’ll come across a dungeon where you need lockpicking to progress, but it’ll give you access to hidden treasure troves, secret passages, and well-stocked shops in town. Pickpocketing, similarly, can provide you with heaps of cash and loot if you use it right. The perks in both are situationally useful but you can get by okay without spending many perks (at least in Pickpocketing). Alchemy’s another all-round good bet, because whatever you play, you’re probably gonna want potions. It’s easy to level but slow to master. Poisons can make fights a lot easier for a thief or warrior. Best thing to do is just gather ingredients wherever you find them, experiment, and then make lots of something expensive. Speech is mainly useful for improving merchant prices, and may be worth an investment later in the game when you’re trying to sell expensive loot. To be honest, though, I’ve never really bothered; you’ll find yourself with more money than you know how to spend anyway. Race In this iteration of the Elder Scrolls, race is largely a cosmetic choice. You’ll get some starting skill bonuses that can make the early game easier, if you pick a matching playstyle, and some of the racial abilities are better for some classes than others – but really, it doesn’t make the biggest difference outside of roleplay. I’d recommend you decide on your class first, and then pick your race from the list at the UESP Wiki - http://uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Races – to find something that matches what you want to do. Below is a brief summary of each race’s special power, and the archetype I think it’s best suited to. Note this doesn’t take into account the skill bonuses, and as I said, it doesn’t really make the biggest difference; all special powers are useful to a degree for all players. Warrior – Argonian (health regen), Dunmer (fire cloak), Nord (fear), Orc (increased damage dealt / reduced damage taken), Redguard (stamina regen) Mage – Altmer (magicka regen), Breton (magicka absorption) Thief – Bosmer (animal control), Imperial (calm), Khajiit (night vision) General Tips • Don’t neglect your combat skills when levelling up. It’s very easy to get yourself to a high level with Smithing, Enchanting or the like, and then find yourself underpowered in combat because the enemies have levelled past you. Try and get a balance of different skill-ups in each level and you should be okay. • Don’t spread yourself too thin! It’s tempting to make a character that can do everything, but you’ll quickly find your actual power in each individual ability is lacking. Pick one or two concepts you like and stick with those – if you want to try something else, you can always level something else. • Keep your follower well-equipped. If you’re upgrading your armor or weapons, consider giving the hand-me-downs to your follower. A strong follower can make most fights a lot easier. • Choose your perks wisely – there’s no way to reset them. If you level and find you’re just a few skill points short of a perk you want, you may want to save the perk point until you’ve improved the skill. • Play sensibly. Don’t go running into dungeons with no arrows left. Keep a stock of restorative potions handy. Leave yourself enough carrying capacity to carry back loot. Get a house when you can, so you can leave stuff there for later. • Read up. There’s a whole wealth of information and guides on quests, gear, and everything you need to know, and it’s only a few keystrokes away. Search these very forums for answers, check Google and the Wikis (http://www.uesp.net/ and http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/ ) if you get stuck on something, and if all else fails – ask for help! Sample Classes Below are a few tried-and-tested class combinations you might want to try, or use for inspiration. These aren't set in stone and I claim no ownership of them, so feel free to play around or try something else entirely. Barbarian: Two-handed, Heavy Armor, Archer. Take no prisoners - just smash your way to victory. Mage: Destruction, Alteration, Conjuration, Restoration. Mage armor and lightning bolts will make you a force to be reckoned with. Assassin: One-handed, Light Armor, Archery, Sneak, Lockpicking, Pickpocketing. Why fight when you can backstab? Paladin: One-handed, Block, Heavy Armor, Restoration. Steadfast bane of the undead. Battlemage: Conjuration, One-handed, Heavy Armor, Block, Restoration. Bound Swords, Atronachs and a walking tank make this a hardy little fighter. Ranger: Light Armor, Archery, Sneak. Put enough points into Archery and you don't need melee weapons - just run around Legolas-style and fill your enemies up with arrows. Thanks for reading my guide - I hope it's been useful! I welcome comments, corrections, revisions or even complaints.