Now I've been part of this forum for quite some time and have only realised this now; I've not yet written a guide. So I decided that it was finally time for me to do so. I realise that many others have also posted guides like this one, but I thought that it was worth it to add my two cents. I've played a mage for the majority of my time in Skyrim, and this is by no means the most effective or even fun way to go about it. I don't want to tell you 'you must do this, you must do that', I just want to point you in the right direction especially for beginners who've never played such characters, coming from my experience so far. I'm sorry, I keep rambling on here, it's time now for me to finally start this guide. I'll go through all the schools of magic and tell you what perks and what spells to get for each of them, and anything else that may come in handy. This may be very long so you'll have to bear with me. As for race, I personally played mine as Altmer since the 50+ magicka is handy at the start of the game, and the Highborn power can be incredibly useful. Of course, Bretons are also good because of their magical resistance. Either of these would be fine choices, but it's up to you really. Destruction: This is of course the most fundamental school for any mage. The important thing is, it's best to not go down all the element trees, especially early game since you'll be wasting perks. Generally, for the first part of the game, you can make do with just using fire spells instead of draining their stamina or magicka. After Novice Destruction, you want to get Duel Casting and Impact; this is very important because it will make the spells so much more powerful and it'll be an easier fight against larger opponents. Get Augmented Flames as well, and frost or shock if you want, but it's best to leave that till later on. I personally wouldn't bother with Disintegrate, Deep Freeze, etc. since by the time enemies have their health low, you can kill them with another spell. Illusion: This can be very useful playing on harder difficulties, since using Frenzy and Calm will help kill enemies quicker. But illusion is really a long term investment if you want it to be effective. You need Quiet Casting, Master of the Mind, Kindred Mage in order to work on most opponents. Invisibility can also be useful for those tough situations. Once again, you should only spend perks in this tree when all your other trees are maxed out for the time being. Conjuration: This can be incredibly powerful if used right. Summoned atronachs and undead are useful for taking the heat off you and adding extra damage to enemies. I wouldn't bother with the bound weapons route since you need perks in one-handed, archery, etc. in order for that to be powerful. You want to go all the way up the far left side of the tree for the atronachs; I personally wouldn't bother with the undead route since I found atronachs to be more powerful; but then again, I haven't experimented much with it so you can prove me wrong. The best way to use conjuration is summoning help to fight when things get rough, not by conjuring atronachs at the start of battle and hoping them to get a few hits off before they die. Once you get Twin Souls, that is when conjuration really starts to shine because you can have two summons assisting you instead of one. Alteration: This tree has some amazing perks available to you. None of them will help in direct combat, but you will see them keeping you alive for longer. After Apprentice Alteration, you want to max out both Mage Armour and Magic Resistance. However, if you're going to be an armoured mage then you can completely ignore the armour perks, but otherwise, I cannot stress how important they can be. Fighting lower level enemies may not require you to use the flesh spells, but at higher levels, they can be incredibly helpful. Take these perks as you go along and feel you may need them. Getting 'Atronach' can be very useful for dragons but it requires a high level of alteration and several other perks, so take it if you wish. Restoration: You simply cannot live without healing spells as a mage, and that is where restoration comes into play. The actual spells themselves are useful, but only some perks are worth it. Some of these perks include Regeneration, Duel Casting and both for Recovery. Necromage is good for vampires, but that's another story altogether. I've never found wards useful in this game my self since they constantly deplete your magicka and tend to break often, but it is something that you'll have to see for yourself. Getting Ward Absorb may make this less of a problem, however. As for spells, I've never used a higher one than Fast healing since with all the points you put into magicka, your health is generally quite low. Enchanting: Enchanting can change the game entirely as a mage, but it is something to be very cautious with. I'll have to agree with the Balance on this; it's best to now waste any perks at all until level 25-30, and even then to take them only occasionally. Getting the first four or five perks in Enchanter is important, and then all the way up the middle route to Extra Effect which means that you can put two enchantments on one item. The best way to level this up, I feel, is to collect things like necklaces and rings and enchant them with any enchantment. This will level you up quickly, but remember not to level up too quickly since it'll make you weaker in combat. Wow, that was an incredibly long post. I feel that I've covered most things in order to be a skillful mage. When levelling up, at low levels, put literally all your points into magicka since you'll need it for all the spells you'll be casting (destruction, healing, conjuring, flesh spells, etc.) However, as you progress into level 30-35 you can slowly start putting them into health since by then your enchanting will be high enough to reduce the cost of spells. That brings me to another point. Once you get the perk Extra Effect, you can reduce the cost of two schools. I'd personally do destruction and restoration, but you can also replace restoration with conjuration or even alteration. Always keep destruction in there, though. Make sure to finish the College of Winterhold quests early on since the equipment you find there is very good for mages, and I personally prefer the Arch-Mage robes to any others. If you've read this far, then I congratulate you for being that patient since I feel that I stretched the post out a trifle. Anyhow, I hope you've enjoyed my guide and will in turn enjoying playing a mage.