One thing I realized after playing several mobile acrobat builds is how important the environment is, be it for a fight or a trek through the lands. However, the player normally has to fit their actions in accordance to the unchanging terrain. Let’s change that, shall we?
“Hailing from a small nomadic Redguard tribe, the Warrior-Priests of Ish’ahl were once renowned mercenaries employed against arcane outlaws. They could bend sand to form projections during combat and owed this technique to the enemies of their ancestors, known as Left-Handed Elves. However, like their sibling-tribe the Ash’abah, they were ostracized by Redguard society for their use of Magic, and only employed as a last resort.
During the Great War, the Warrior-Priests were conscripted to slay Thalmor mages, but small numbers and lack of cooperation from Redguard soldiers spelled their defeat and demise. The last practitioner of their techniques was a young Warrior-Priest who had yet to complete his training, spared from the frontlines due to his inexperience. Learning the fate of his seniors, the apprentice honed what little he had learnt from his mentors for many years. When the next generations of the tribe grew old enough to defend it, the once-apprentice left his people and headed north, in search of a land yet to be irreparably ravaged by war.”
Race: Redguard Male with white hair, tan skin and red irises. The bonuses to Alteration and Destruction are useful, as is the Racial ability. Their warrior-monk vibes just adds to the experience
Stats: 3:1:0. Frequent use of dual-casted Runes requires a large Magicka pool, and the occasional health investment helps against stray arrows.
Stone: The Atronach. Magic Absorption is too good to give up as a mage-slayer, and our apparel will counteract the regeneration penalty.
Archetype: Shieldmage, Anti-mage, Brawler
“The Sinistral Mer art of Sand-Shaping, while similar to Mushroom-growing from Morrowind in many ways, is much more versatile. The three-tier concepts of Comprehension, Deconstruction and Reconstruction are the basis of this magic form.” –Ancient Yokudan Tomes
The Architect prides himself on his small yet extremely effective skillset…
Destruction, The Offense: Putting the “Arc” in the Arcane Architect, Destruction is the preferred method of laying down the pain. A specialization in Lightning magic lets us drain foul warlocks of their precious Magicka, and reduce any foe’s effective health by 15% thanks to Disintegrate. Wall of Storms will roast melee enemies stuck in your mazes while Lightning Runes and Lightning Bolts are used to annihilate the enemy backline.
Perks: Novice-Expert, Augmented Shock 2/2, Disintegrate, Destruction Dual-casting, Rune Master, Impact, (optional:Master Destruction)
Alteration, The Defense: Any architect worth his salt knows the importance of fortification, (geo-)surveying and Weather-resistance, and our guy isn’t an exception. Granting access to reconnaissance in Detect spells, armor boosts and crowd control in Ash/Paralysis spells, to name a few benefits, the Alteration tree is the unbeatable best defense-utility skill in the game.
Perks: Novice-Expert, Magic resistance 3/3, Stability, Atronach, (optional:Master Alteration)
Heavy Armor, The Backup: There are always times when things don’t go as planned, so it is imperative that a backup is prepared. It’s for these times that we invest in Heavy Armor; Fists of Steel let the Architect pummel lesser enemies when our magicka bar is dry and regenerating. 5 ranks in juggernaut provide modest protection before flesh-spells.
Perks: Juggernaut 5/5, Fists of Steel
Alchemy, The Support: With powerful means of attack and defense coupled with reliable backup, all that is left is to pump them chuck full of steroids! Potions let the simplest of punches hit like a ram, and the simplest of spells rival the grandest of elven sorceries. Poisons are delivered with a simple dagger and can apply a variety of debilitating effects to neuter particularly troublesome foes.
Perks: Alchemist 5/5, Physician, Benefactor, Poisoner, Concentrated Poison, Snakeblood, Purity
(Optional) Speech was not one of the original skills of the Arcane Architect. However, since Do Not Delete boxes obtained in-game (as opposed to via console) are forever marked as stolen, using them in towns can be a pain. Bribery was the only important perk here, and used to keep guards silent about the boxes. The build could very much make do without this skill; just avoid using exotic magic near the magic-hating-Nord-filled cities of Skyrim.
Perks: Haggling 1/5, Bribery
DO NOT DELETE, WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS
"Wield thy power in the name of the Tu'wacca, and trap and smite the abominations like the vermin they are!"
Up to now, the Arcane Architect just seems like another mage, but what sets him apart is the unique magic he wields, known as “Sand-Shaping”, a technique where the user bends the earth to form solid projections. In game, this is done through the use of Do Not Delete chest. These are glitch items in the game hidden in places usually inaccessible to players. They can be obtained like so, and the process itself is a joyful puzzle to complete.
The important thing about these glitch items is that, unlike most items, they are not affected by gravity when they’re dropped in the world. That is to say, dropping them creates an impassable barrier which only the player can remove by picking it up. This brings in a whole new dynamic style of controlling space and restricting enemy movement. That is not to say they’re without disadvantages; the placement of the boxes is often finicky, and depends on the angle of the ground below the player and the camera angle. However, a few hours of gameplay will accustom any player to the little nuances in placement (As per the backstory, I blamed any irregular box placements on the Architect’s incomplete mastery of his art).
What all this means is that the Architect can bend the battlefield to his advantage, and can be used outside battle to traverse difficult terrain. Combat use includes distance enemies have to move to get to you and completely blocking out chokepoints and closed areas. This is why I regard the Arcane Architect as an unconventional Shield-mage; the fundamental concept is that of an offensive mage with robust defenses.
The Architect's Arsenal
The Architect wears Adept Robes of Destruction and Adept Hood with Ebony gauntlets and boots. These form a nice rustic and earthy aesthetic, and hold the right enchantments for the Arcane Architect’s purposes. The Magicka regeneration from the robes is especially useful as it fully counteracts the Atronach Stone’s penalty. As for the ebony armor pieces, I picked up Ebony Boots of Extreme Stamina from city blacksmiths, and custom-enchanted the gauntlets with Fortify Unarmed (5 points) using a Grand Soul Gem I got from a steam centurion.
There were too many good enchantments to pick from for the jewelry slot, but I decided on Savos Aren’s Amulet and a Ring of Resurgence. I also held a ring and a circlet of Peerless Alchemy for crafting, alongside looted Glass Gauntlets of Extreme Alchemy, to achieve +72% Fortify Alchemy (The numbers won’t be pretty though).
The brews used by the Arcane Architect can be broadly divided into 4 categories: Potions used when in Unarmed Combat, Potions used alongside Destruction magic, generic utility potions used between the first two stances and debilitating poisons. Don’t restrict your playthrough to just these potions, though, for the beauty of alchemy is in experimentation and creating the perfect potion for any situation.
This is your standard casting stance with emphasis on Destruction magic prowess and increased Magicka availability. This is for use behind the cover of Sand-Shaped projection so that we can focus exclusively on offensive action.
Smite: Fortify Destruction 129%, Fortify Health 103 pts (Nightshade + Glowing Mushroom + Wheat)
Energy Booster: Fortify Magicka 103 pts, Regenerate Magicka 129%, Weakness to Magic 41% (Salt Pile + Jazbay Grapes + Red Mountain Flowers)
This mode of combat involves casting a Lightning Cloak and a flesh spell, using Slow Time and getting into the thick of the fight. The potions below are meant to give the Architect more unarmed damage and to extend Slow Time such that we can comfortable use Advanced Unarmed Combat.
Resilience: Fortify Alteration 103% (Grass pod + River Betty)
Beastbrew: Fortify Marksman 103% , Regenerate Health 129% (Canis Root + Juniper Berry + Namira’s Rot)
Here’s the Tactician’s stance, though it isn’t as set-in-stone as the first two, acting as a transition from Matrix-mode boxer to Earthbender mage or vice versa. The additional defensive bulk allows the transition to be smoother, reducing pressure when escaping, changing Sand-Shaping formations or repositioning.
Vitality Booster: Fortify Health 103 pts, Restore Health 161 pts (Blue Mountain Flower + Wheat)
Weatherproof: Resist Fire & Frost 77% (Dragon’s Tongue + Snowberries + Thistle Branch)
These are for the rare occasions where extra force is necessary to stop foes. Paralysis without magicka expenditure is a blessing in a pinch, and Ravage poisons debilitate foes excellently. The last poison is for use against lone tanky enemies, slowly breaking down their resistance before a Shock magic Coup de Grace.
Detainer: Paralysis 26s (Canis Root, Imp Stool)
Exhaustion: Ravage Stamina & Magicka 52 pts, Poison Damage 77 pts (Red Flowers + Deathbell + Scathcraw)
Amplifier: Slow 129s, Weakness to Shock 77%, weakness to Poison 52% (Deathbell + Giant Lichen + Trama Root)
Here's the build in action. Credits for the awesome video go to Curse Never Dying.
Views & Endeavors
"Those who know to survey the land shall know where all its bounties lie.
Those who know to listen to the land shall know a friend beneath their feet.”
The Arcane Architect is a Redguard Mage, which is quite ironic considering how prejudiced the Redguards are against magic. The Architect realizes that he would greatly resemble the warlocks he hunts if not for his discipline and his moral obligation to keep innocents safe. As such, he treats magic with both respect and caution, and is careful to never let his emotions interfere in his duty.
I Roleplayed the Arcane Architect as a dedicated protector of the people, defending them from malicious magic using even more terrifying sorceries. Despite being trapped between paranoia from the people he defends, and the hostility from the mages he suppresses, the Architect ignores both sentiments and puts his duty before all else. Make it your duty to go after rogue mages, bandits, rabid beasts and any other threat to the safety of the people. Also, avoid quick travel and go on foot; highwaymen and stray necromancers frequently reside in unmarked locations. It’s also a great way to pick up ingredients.
That said, the Architect can undertake any quest that pits him against foes that could cause harm to the public. It helps to become an ally of the fellow pariah folk, the Orc tribes, especially since they offer high-level Heavy armor training. The College is also a great questline, letting the Architect keep close surveillance on magic before it gets out of control (Bonus: you get to blast Thalmor scum into ash). Speaking of Thalmor, do not forget how they are responsible for the decline of modern Sand-Shaping and the death of Ish’ahl warriors. Make sure to punish them with great vengeance for their hubris and cruelty.
I confess, the Arcane Architect was quite an ambitious build, and I was uncertain whether Do Not Delete boxes can be integrated with combat. However, I was very pleased with the results, and found that it added an enjoyable and new dynamic to gameplay. I tried cutting off the flab and exposition from the previous draft of this build, so I hope it’s a better read this time. I thank you for reading, and hope you try this build out. Cheers!