The Buoyant Armiger
"I am a Buoyant Armiger, a member of a small military order of the Tribunal Temple exclusively dedicated to and answering to Lord Vivec. We pattern ourselves on lord Vivec's heroic spirit of exploration and adventure, emulating his mastery of varied arts of personal combat, chivalric courtesy, and subtle verse. We serve the Temple as champions and knights-errant, and are friendly rivals of the more solemn Ordinators in our dedicated service to Lord Vivec and the Temple."
- Buoyant Armiger
This character concept and eventual build was a long-term project that I have been working on for the past 3 or so months. I wanted to explore some new areas which is usually my approach for all of my builds. Having played a Dunmer before, I felt remiss that I have not yet explored Dunmer lore and tried to create a character concept based around them. Reading lore made me even go out and play Morrowind! In my reading, I saw a group that fit the bill for many different reasons: a stealth/combat oriented character that has a GOOD alignment, uses many facets of combat tactics, skills, and gameplay to achieve his goal, and has a rich RP experience as a Dunmer. I also wanted to explore some of the game's overlooked smithed equipment that I do not see incorporated into builds that often and also incorporate new equipment being introduced with the DLCs. I sometimes tend to stay with very specialized builds, but this hybrid character concept is extremely addicting to play. Making the long journey to lvl 81 is something I have done rarely, so I decided to go all out and produce a character that would achieve this by spreading his usefulness across 10 different skills. Let's take a look! BIG thanks to Ponty for the killer screenshots!!!
What the heck is a "Buoyant Armiger"? -> Here
How did the Buoyant Armigers get their name? -> Reasonable Speculation
The Buoyant Armigers are a small military order of the Tribunal Temple charged with answering to and dedicating themselves to Lord Vivec. Their duty of service is aimed to protect and guard the Ghostfence, which is the enormous shield-like wall surrounding the crater of Red Mountain. It was built after the Battle of Red Mountain to keep Dagoth Ur and his Sixth House's intention of spreading the Corprus disease and Blight at bay throughout the land of Vvardenfall. Ghostgate, or the main entrance of the Ghostfence, was created to provide passage into the crater in order to keep an access point and gateway for the Pilgrims of the Temple to the Red Mountain. Of course with a barrier that large, there were bound to be multiple outbreaks from within the fence and many Corprus and Blight had escaped to the outside lands. These monsters, including Ash Vampires, were sought out and hunted by the Buoyant Armigers to make sure the disease and harm does not spread into the far reaching lands of the Dunmeri homeland. It is with this premise, a character build was born. It is with this class that you are dedicated to seeking out afflicted monsters and vampires, hunting them down with extreme precision and without mercy using a wide array of tactics and weapons/spells at your disposal.
This character is extremely versatile in all situations and is a specialist in stealth combat. Trained in many offensive areas of combat, The Buoyant Armiger provides a unique experience to the game of Skyrim and allows the player to approach any situation in multiple ways:
- As a marksman, the Armiger is capable of dispatching foes from afar with a well placed critical hit from his bow, dealing devastating damage without being seen.
- Agility and stamina regeneration allows for open archery combat with repositioning, quick firing rate, and staggering arrow attacks.
- As a warrior and agile skirmisher, the Armiger can unleash impressive swordsmanship and defensive shield capabilities when in open combat.
- Engaging foes from the shadows using one handed sneak attacks as well as unexpected shield bashes for a quick stun allows for unchallenged damage.
- As a mage, the Armiger is skilled in both healing himself during a battle as well as imbuing his body with a wreath of flame and firing projectile fire spells from a distance.
- Casting from a hidden position can gain a slight advantage before engaging the enemy head on.
- As a spellsword, the Armiger is an all out offensive machine, dealing melee damage and magic damage to overcome his enemies rather quickly.
- Attacking and casting from a hidden position can optimize where enemies will pursue you, making you control the battlefield.
These are just 4 general examples of what an Armiger can do. Each of these skills (bow, sword/shield, spells) can all be used as stealth combat as well as open combat. Dealing damage of both physical (melee + ranged) and magical ways gives the Buoyant Armiger a chance to topple any foe in the game with ease in all situations.
Stone: Mage/Warrior/Thief for leveling purposes. Shadow for enhanced stealth options. Atronach for final choice.
Dragon Shouts: Aura Whisper, Disarm, Dragon Aspect (DB), Dragonrend, Fire Breath, Marked for Death, Slow Time, Throw Voice, Whirlwind Sprint
Major Skills: Sneak, Archery, One Handed, Destruction, Light Armor
Minor Skills: Enchanting, Block, Restoration, Smithing, Speech
Melee: Glass Sword - Fiery Soul Trap + Fire Damage
Shield: Auriel's Shield
Bow: Glass Bow - Fiery Soul Trap + Fire Damage
Head: (Chitin Light Helmet) -> Glass Helmet "Fin Gleam" - Waterbreathing + Fortify Restoration
Chest: (Chitin Light Armor) -> Glass Armor - Fortify Destruction + Fortify Block
Hands: (Chitin Light Gauntlets) -> Glass Gauntlets - Fortify Archery + Fortify Block
Feet: (Chitin Light Boots) -> Glass Boots - Fortify Stamina + Muffle
Ring: Fortify One Handed + Magic Resist and/or Ahzidal's Ring of Arcana (for ignite spell)
Amulet: Fortify Destruction + Magic Resist
Roleplay and Rules
The Buoyant Armigers sure are a unique group of combatants. Normal stealthy characters use their skills for nefarious reasons: assassinating, stealing, pickpocketing, etc. The Armigers are elite stealth warriors who are dead set on ridding the land of Corprus and Blight creatures as well as ash vampires. When playing my Buoyant Armiger, I made it a point to act and conduct myself as "knightly" as I could, making sure to defend the helpless and to defeat evil whenever possible. However, when in actual combat, anything goes. Being an Armiger means getting the job done at all costs and by any means. Stealthy tactics are a way of being extremely efficient at killing enemies and creatures without prejudice and without mercy.
I think my favorite part about role playing as a Buoyant Armiger is the lore. Staying true to a belief system is sometimes a difficult thing for some players. I took the time to read all 36 Lessons of Vivec and his Cantatas which I recommend to anyone who has the time for some cool lore aspects! The understanding of who Vivec is and what he stands for is extremely important to RPing a Buoyant Armiger. Being skilled in multiple facets of combat, being adventurous, and being a "warrior-poet" so to speak is what it can boil down to. When in towns and cities, act accordingly and be respectful. Speech plays a small role when looking at the perk investment, but a large role when looking at the big picture to achieve enough wealth to learn more skills and trading equipment. When in combat, anything goes.
With this mentality, this build is geared towards any and all enemies that come down the road and then some. The Buoyant Armiger was initially intended to tackle both DLCs to the fullest extent: new enemies, new areas, and new equipment available from both Dawnguard and Dragonborn. Taking down evil and ugly creatures, whether they be ash spawn or vampires, the Armiger can do it all.
Rules of being a Buoyant Armiger:
- Fight for good. Evil creatures and monsters need to be dealt with and slain for the protection of others.
- Never kill innocent people. It is unbecoming of an Armiger to assassinate or openly kill someone who does no wrong.
- You are a hunter. In the most basic sense, you are the ultimate stalker of your enemies so take your time in planning your attacks. Sometimes that extra planning can go a long way, especially early on.
- Eliminate any abominations, evil creatures, and vampires that you come across. This would lead to fully joining the Dawnguard.
- No mercy for the wicked. Evil creatures, similar to Dagoth Ur's minions, need to be destroyed. You have defended your homeland, now you must spread your skills to help even more.
Skills and Perks
Sneak: The crucial skill in becoming a true Buoyant Armiger. What sets these "knights" apart is their ability to remain undetected in all facets of combat which allows for a multitude of approaches in any area and with any type of foe. Perk investment is on the smaller side compared to other skills but sneak will always be present throughout your play through to plan attacks and to engage the enemy using enchanted tactics.
Archery: This is the bread and butter for striking first. Bows are silent which makes them the perfect tool for taking out single or multiple targets from a safe distance without being noticed! Open combat will occur on occasion with which ranged attackers will need to be dealt with as well as melee attackers trying to close the gap. The stagger and increased attack speed perks in Archery make the bow an extremely powerful and useful weapon.
One Handed: The main sour of damage when up close and personal. Not only will your sword allow for powerful cuts to strike down enemies when they are in your face, but also allow for powerful one handed sneak attacks. Sneak attacking with a sword is not silent so it is best used when dealing with single targets or taking out a foe for his position, allowing for optimal ranged attacks with either your bow or destruction spells.
Destruction: Your variable support damage. Choosing to specialize in fire damage offers some great benefits: lower spell cost, higher damage, and damage over time. Projectile, rune, and wall spells offer a varied approach for ranged spells when in a hidden position to get a head start on damage while flame cloak, flames, and fire damage enchantments can add significant damage when in close quarters combat.
Light Armor: Your primary source for defense. Buoyant Armiger's are light on their feet at all times which can result in longer sprinting durations, more power attacks, and agile movements. Glass armor is the "unofficial" armor of the Buoyant Armigers so investing in the light armor skill will boost defenses, easily closing in on the armor cap. Chitin light armor (elven smithing perk) is not only lore friendly for Armigers, but a great choice early on.
Enchanting: The source of skill buffs, added damage, and added damage reduction/magic resists. The great thing about the Dunmer is that they are not put off by any particular skill when reading about their history and lore. Using the souls of slain enemies, the Buoyant Armiger can enhance magical effects on all of his equipment, adding significant fire damage to his weapons, boosting combat skills, as well as resisting magic without investing into the Alteration skill.
Block: Your second line of defense. Shields are amazing tools when used right and when used creatively. The quick reflexes perk and bash perks allow for quick escapes from enemy attacks when in open combat and can easily turn the tables on very difficult opponents. The left side of the tree allows for added resistances and boosted defense against arrows when your shield is raised. With enchanting as a buff to your block skill, the cap of 85% damage reduction when blocking is easily achieved resulting in a formidable knight Armiger.
Restoration: The source of all of your healing. The Buoyant Armiger is extremely combat oriented and will run into massive battles that will require more than his defenses to stay alive. Quick healing spells that also restore stamina allow for the Armiger to attack and live for longer!
Smithing: The Armiger's support skill for all armor and equipment. As stated before, Glass armor is the "unofficial" armor of the Buoyant Armigers, so that means a reasonable investment into smithing is required. Arcane smithing is also useful to upgrade any magical equipment that you will be eventually making.
Speech: Your last support skill and source of your "versed" self. Investing in a few perks in speech can go a long way such as selling any item to any kind of vendor. This makes for great RP experience as the Buoyant Armigers emulate Vivec's spirit of spoken verse. It also makes for ease of selling instead of fast traveling and sprinting all over the place. In the long journey to lvl 81, the reduction costs/better selling prices will yield a ton of gold, making it much easier to learn skills with trainers that you would not likely use. This helps in keeping to a true RP instead of "grinding" skills into oblivion and getting bored/power leveling.
Rage Cocoon: Spraying the ground with Wall of Flames and then activating either Ancestor's Wrath or Flame Cloak, raise Auriel's shield to block repeated enemy attacks to charge the shield while enemy takes sustained fire damage. After fully charged, power bash with the shield to send the enemy flying in the air … on fire, following up with projectile fire spells.
Repel And Pelt: Using a fully charged Auriel's shield, power bash the enemy to send them flying on their back. Immediately switch to your bow and begin pelting the enemy with arrows. For variation, power bash while hidden on an unsuspecting foe.
Nowhere To Run: Whenever the perk Intense Flames activates and causes targets to flee, immediately switch to your bow and begin firing to cease their escape.
Intimidating Force (requires optional 4 perk investment into Illusion - Aspect of Terror): Using the boosted Ignite spell (2/2 Augment and Aspect of Terror) dealing 21 damage per second (which can stack), enemies will flee much more often and much faster, leaving yourself open to heal, change tactics, or follow up with arrows/projectile fire spells. Will deal 11 damage per second without the unnecessary, but fun, investment for AoT.
Flame Roll (requires shield charge): While sneaking in a hidden position within melee range and shield equipped, quickly activate either Ancestor's Wrath or Flame Cloak in right hand. Immediately hit the sprint button to begin to Silent Roll into an enemy and hitting the block button. When timed correctly, the enemy will be "shield charged" off of their feet and begin to take fire damage while stunned. Repeat silent roll/shield charge for multiple enemies until all are on the ground to engage with your bow or charge in with your sword.
Gameplay for the Buoyant Armiger is straightforward but also complex at the same time. You can be as stout and steadfast as some of the strongest warriors of all of Tamriel or you could be as nimble and stealthy as the greatest assassins. The balancing act of using so many skills has downsides such as having lower skills when you are a higher level with respect to some other builds. The upside to this is that you will have so many different ways to go about playing the game.
- Almost everyone can relate to a sword and shield warrior as being extremely effective and able to survive even the toughest of battles. With destruction and enchanting backing this style up, the Armiger is unstoppable when out in the open and on foot.
- The sneak skill and archery go hand in hand. Insane amounts of damage can be achieved through the deadly shot perk being backed by strong smithing and enchanting. The Armiger revolves around stealth combat and tactics, so this play style goes without saying.
- Powers of a mage are also available to the Buoyant Armiger. Fire destruction spells are some of the most cost effective spells in the game and are ESPECIALLY deadly when dealing with vampires, a foe which is a specialized target for Armigers. Added fire damage and damage over time increase all damage outputs to the next level.
From here, you can create imaginative battle plans until all of the evil creatures are dealt with! Firing off quick arrows while sprinting around on fire? Sure! Laying flames on the ground followed with swinging your sword and bashing your shield? Yes, please! Going hog wild with fireballs fired from both hands? Always welcome! All of these tactics from a hidden position? Yup. You will quickly learn that you cannot get bored with this character build as it will constantly be challenging you to change up your ideas and adapt all play styles into one. I did not choose to invest into illusion, however it does offer some cool options: silent casting for silent fireballs, aspect of terror for boosted fire damage, and invisibility for the ultimate stealth machine. In all honestly, once you have mastered sneak and boosted your skills, you will not need illusion. This is the same reason I decided not to invest in alteration.
In closing, I need to say how rewarding it is to stick with a build for a long period of time. This has been a project I have been working on in the "background" while exploring other ideas. RP experiences such as this really bring out the simple nature of Skyrim: play as you would like to play. Leveling to the max level of 81 using trainers and not exploiting the game (taping the block button, standing in a smith's fire, etc.) is very rewarding. I hope you will enjoy this build for what it is and to get yourself absorbed into a true Dunmer play through. I would like to also give a big thank you to Ponty for the awesome screenshots!