This build is based off of the Elder One, the big bad from Dragon Age: Inquisition (a game I would highly recommend to any RPG fan) as part of the Tamriel Vault's old Crossworlds event. I also took this opportunity to fulfill a recurring request on my YouTube channel to do some kind of let's play. You can check out my Let's Build series where I cover my character building process from conception to writeup here. But enough of that - I'm sure you're more interested in what the build actually has to offer!
"I was known as the Elder. The High Dragon Priest. The First. In the times before what the Men and Mer of today call the First Era, I joined with other Dragon Priests in Bromjunaar in a ritual to uncover the secrets outside of this world. One by one they fell to the perils of the Planes of Oblivion, Aetherius and Time itself. Miraak - he who believed himself greatest of us all - found himself in Hermaeus Mora's clutches, though I claimed many gifts that were not of our world. The soul of a dragon - granting me the power to Shout as they do. The corruption of Molag Bal - granting me both immortality and the powers of the night. My journey came to an end, however, drawn through time to the power of the Heart of Lorkhan. I was imprisoned by the power of a god within a windowless, doorless cell inside the Ministry of Truth - a falling moon suspended above the city of Vivec.
In the 5th Year of the 4th Era, the Tribunal was, however, undone. The Ministry fell to the ground, levelling the entire city and most of Morrowind. The protections designed to keep me inside my cell had protected me from the devastation. My strength, however, had waned considerably over the years, leaving me in a weakened state.
Finally, after two millennia of imprisonment, I returned to my homeland of Skyrim, only to find its people have turned from their Dragon overlords - and indeed, that the dragons have turned from the world altogether. But there is still so much power for me to claim. I'll show these people how false their gods are. I'll give them a REAL power to turn to."
The First is one of the original Dragon Priests from the Merethic Era, when dragons dominated the skies of Skyrim. After journeys through Tamriel, places outside Nirn, and imprisonment in Morrowind, he has returned to throw down the gods of Tamriel and claim it for his own. The First is a once-powerful mage who commands the corruption of vampirism and the words of the dragons to destroy his enemies and seek out sources of power to gain dominion over Skyrim and all Tamriel.
Recommended Race: Nord Vampire Lord. Having gained the gift of vampirism and immortality in Molag Bal's realm, the First's ancient blood allows him to transform into a terrible Vampire Lord.
Stats: 2 Magicka/1 Health. This keeps the First reasonably tough while maintaining a large Magicka pool for casting spells.
Stone: The Apprentice Stone for starting out, allowing a vampire to cast spells during the day. Later on, when the regeneration reduction can be counteracted, the Atronach Stone is ideal. It grants a handy Absorb Magicka effect, covering up some of the Vampire weaknesses. Some players might wish to avoid it to stop themselves from absorbing their own summons.
Perks: Level 45
The realms of Oblivion are home to terrible creatures the people of Tamriel couldn't imagine. It would be foolish not to command them for myself.
Conjuration: Conjuration effectively offers a very versatile form of both offense and defense in the form of summoning spells. Utilizing almost every summon in the game as well as DLC means that there is a perfect summon for any encounter. Key perks are up to Expert Conjuration and the Summoning perks up to Twin Souls.
Mortals have such... simple minds. Manipulating them is child's play. Even the minds of undead and Daedra are not beyond my reach...
Illusion: Illusion serves to redirect the attention of foes away from the First, or even in to each other. This is especially important at low levels, where direct damage options are very limited. Fury and Fear form the bulk of the First's Illusion arsenal, though at higher levels Rally spells can be used to buff summoned Daedra. The +25% Vampire Illusion bonus helps to boost up the effective level of spells, in conjunction with the key perks - up to Adept Illusion and everything on the right side of the tree barring Quiet Casting.
Any true mage knows the many advantages of the Alteration school.
Alteration: The school of Alteration provides utility in the form of flesh, paralysis and Ash spells, as well as passive magic resistance bonuses, giving the First a slight advantage just when it is needed. Key perks are up to Expert Alteration and Magic Resistance.
A god that can be killed is a god none will truly turn to. Do the Dark Elves still revere their late Tribunal?
Restoration: Restoration offers extra survivability - obviously in terms of healing and wards. Once the First gains the ability to absorb great amounts of Health from opponents, the focus shifts more towards Wards. Even a simple Steadfast Wards can protect against dragonfire and most spells. Additionally, Respite allows the First to regain Stamina during the day, and Recovery's passive Magicka Regeneration is a boon to any mage.
The protection from a suit of true Daedric Armour is not something to be discounted.
Heavy Armour: The First protects himself with heavy armour, a choice which covers up physical weaknesses and looks damn stylish. Key perks are really just the AR boosting ones.
What better purpose for the souls of my enemies than to fuel the very power I used to destroy them?
Enchanting: Enchanting gives the First many advantages, from spell cost reduction to stat boosts. To avoid becoming overpowered, I only chose the 5 Enchanter perks - though you could always take more if you're playing on Legendary or feel like you need the power.
Molag Bal's gift can provide nearly limitless power - provided one knows how to harness it.
Vampirism: Aside from the ordinary Vampire bonuses, the First utilizes the abilities of the Vampire Lord form quite extensively. Vampire Lord form provides some powerful melee capabilities, but most of all a means to a powerful offensive spell. Through the First's pure vampiric corruption (and a neat glitch as detailed by member NobodyBeast here), the superior Vampire Lord blood drain (hereby referred to as Vampiric Blast) can be accessed in human form, providing a highly damaging area spell that returns Health and even Magicka and Stamina.
Finally. With the return of the dragons, I can harness the power of my dragon soul - rather than wasting away as a pet of Hermaeus Mora like Miraak.
Shouts: Dragon Shouts provide just that bit of extra utility. The Shouts I used most were Whirlwind Sprint and Become Ethereal to avoid taking massive damage or getting out of a tight spot, Bend Will and Dismay for some shout-based Illusion-style action, and Soul Tear for its massive 300 damage (not reduced by magic resistance!) and its ability to raise a level 99 zombie of any type.
The First has a wide array of options to gain the upper hand in any battle.
At the beginning of an encounter, one of the most important tactical decisions you'll be making is what summon(s) to bring out. I've compiled a list of the summons available and when to use them:
- Flame Atronach: Your best long-range summon for lower levels and once Elemental Potency is acquired. The AI has very good aim with ranged spells and the Flame Atronach's Firebolt has a much longer range than the Storm Atronach's lightning. At low levels it can also be effective in melee with its flame cloak ability.
- Frost Atronach: The perfect tank - large and in charge of the battlefield with its large size, good for blocking doorways and projectiles, staggering attacks, and aggro-grabbing frost cloak. Once the Elemental Potency perk is acquired, they're tougher than even Dremora Lords.
- Seeker: A superior ranged summon for Adept rank, with both damaging and absorbing attacks. Doesn't hold up too well at higher levels though.
- Ash Spawn: A very versatile Adept-level summon, the Ash Spawn can hold its own in melee and at range. However, once you get the Expert rank the Storm Atronach is usually a better choice.
- Storm Atronach: Another versatile summon, the Storm Atronach has powerful single target and area capabilities at melee and range. It's worth noting however that the lightning spells do have limited range and the Atronach's large size can be a problem indoors.
- Ash Guardian: Great for a bit of backup or a distraction, even without a Heart Stone. Doesn't count towards your summon cap either.
- Dremora Lord: Nothing beats the pure damage output of a Dremora Lord (or two). While they're pretty tough on their own, they pair up very well with another summon like a Frost Atronach for tanking.
Once you've brought out your summons, if you've got the Master of the Mind perk you can buff them up with a quick Rally spell. If you think you'll need it (though I usually don't bother with the menu switching), you could even stack Courage and Call to Arms on top of that.
Now it's time to strike doubt, fear and confusion into the enemy's ranks. Fury spells are the staple here, forcing your foes to attack each other and grouping them together - a great advantage considering our variety of summons with area attacks as well as our own Vampiric Blast. The generally stronger Fear spells can be used to simply remove foes from battle, or even force an enemy into a position before using Fury on them. Calm spells are also available but tend to be less effective given the number of circumstances in which the effect can be broken.
Finally, cast a protection spell if you're in a closer quarters battle and join the combat yourself. Vampiric Blast is perfect at all ranges - just take care to avoid damaging your summons - and don't forget to make use of some Shouts if you get in to trouble, or even consider shifting in to Vampire Lord form to dish out some massive melee damage and control the battlefield with Vampiric Grip. Vampire Lord abilities can also duplicate the effects of the Ethereal and Slow Time shouts to avoid damage in close combat , and the Blood Healing perk can allow you to maintain your assault nearly indefinitely. Keep in mind however that it's until at least level 10 before you can access Vampire Lord abilities - I recommend making use of the Bound Sword early on to further train your Conjuration (from using the weapon), Heavy Armour (from being hit), and Restoration (from healing said hits before you have access to powerful absorb effects).
The First's purpose in Skyrim is to locate sources of forbidden power and knowledge to expand his dominance and ascend to godhood - quite a lofty goal. Skyrim, however, has plenty of avenues for us to explore in terms of quests.
- The Main Quest gives the First access to powerful Shouts, the allegiance of dragons, and renown throughout Skyrim. You even slay Alduin, whom many believed to have godlike powers.
- Dawnguard's Vampire questline further expands the First's influence and power, gaining control of a powerful Vampire clan, the means to challenge the sun itself, several powerful items, and the power of ancient blood. It's worth mentioning that the Blood of the Ancients buff applies even in human form, allowing for a near-infinite barrage of Vampiric Blasts, even during the day. You'll want to start this once you hit level 10 if you want to grab Vampiric Blast as soon as possible!
- Dragonborn offers a chance to take down one of the First's ancient rivals, the Dragon Priest Miraak, explore the realm of Hermaeus Mora and claim the knowledge within, and work with a Telvanni wizard to uncover forgotten magickal secrets. Many of the Black Books provide great utility to the First, such as Secret of Arcana allowing him to cast spells normally out of his reach - like multiple Master spells in rapid succession for example.
- Various other quests like the College of Winterhold, Daedric quests, Dragon Priest dungeons and more offer the First a chance to gain more power and remove those who would stand against him.
I played the First as a ruthless individual who is willing to go to any lengths to get what he wants (or rather in his mind, deserves). He is not blinded by his goal however, and will, on occasion, help others - though only if such actions could prove beneficial in the future...
"Where is your Talos now? Call him. Call down his wrath upon me.
You cannot? For he does not exist!"
Wearing Heavy Armour that is both protective and intimidating, the First is a sight to behold. In my playthrough, I wore a set of self-enchanted Daedric armour I created using the Atronach Forge after acquiring the Sigil Stone from the Conjuration Master quest. I enchanted it to increase my Magicka (Gauntlets), Fire Resistance (Boots), as well as slightly increase my Magicka Regeneration and reduce my Conjuration spell costs (Chest) - in conjunction with the two ranks in the Recovery perk, I was able to regenerate magicka even during the day with the Atronach Stone active. It's worth noting that on console versions of the game, the recipe to create unenchanted Daedric Boots actually makes the Dremora counterpart which is unusable by the player - consider finding some other Daedric Boots or using the Random Enchanted Armour recipe to get what you want.
The First prefers to wear masks of the Dragon Cult of old - namely those claimed from Dragon Priests put to rest by his own hand. I would recommend Vokun, which reduces Conjuration, Alteration and Illusion spell costs - our primary spell schools. Additionally, I wore the Ring of the Erudite from one of the Volkihar sidequests and a self-enchanted amulet to boost my maximum Health.
The Atronach Forge gives a skilled Conjurer such as the First access to a supply of rare and powerful equipment
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading my build. Nothing too fancy here (I think I needed to exploit about half a dozen more glitches) but I had fun playing this sort of alternative mage. Feel free to drop a comment below if you do decide to give it a play, or even if you want to give some feedback or ask a question.