It's been awhile since I’ve put together a full fledged mage build, and given the huge success of the Force Adept build over the years, I’ve been eager to explore new ways to subvert the limits of Magick.
Disclaimer: This build requires the perk overhaul mod Ordinator in order to function as described below.
Among scholars of magick, few are regarded with more fear and suspicion than those branded maleficarum. A maleficar is one who has wholly devoted themselves to the study of the dark arts, relentless in their pursuit of greater arcane power. Never will a maleficar burden themselves with concern over the moral quandaries nor dangers of forbidden magick - and for that, they are often reviled as evil or simply insane.
- Build Basics -
Great power comes at great cost. In keeping with that theme this build will grant the player some truly incredible powers, but for every power a terrible price must be paid in exchange. At the core of this build is blood magick by way of the Equilibrium spell, but this build is unlike any blood mage you've read before.
Many blood mage builds inevitably run into the problem of exhausting a finite supply of health to replenish and even more finite source of magicka. But this blood mage is different.
Through the Infinite Concentration Casting exploit, I've created a build that may cast concentration magick freely and always have the health available to sacrifice for spells with set costs. But therein lies the catch: your Health and Magicka resources are forever locked in a sordid tug-of-war where one must be depleted to replenish the other.
But what would necessitate using anything but concentration magick? That’s where the Ordinator perk overhaul comes in. Within the conjuration tree is a special perk called ‘Edge of Oblivion’. It acts just like the vanilla perk Twin Souls with the added benefit of making summons last 50% longer, and it can be accessed much much earlier than its vanilla counterpart, but there’s a catch. Your armor rating will suffer a sharp decrease, even diving into the negatives, whenever you fail to have at least one summoned minion in play. Concentration spells, while powerful, are not enough on their own, and you are at your stronger with your summons at your side than you are without them.
Basically: The more you rely on your concentration spells the less magick you'll have available to summon minions. And you'll most certainly want your minions around.
Race: Dunmer. I chose to play a Dunmer mostly for their aptitude for Destruction magic, but members of any race who study magic can be tempted by the dark arts. If Dark Elves aren’t your thing Bretons make a solid choice due to their huge starting boost to conjuration.
Stone: Lord Stone. The extra 50 armor points and 25% magick resistance pairs well with what little armor is gained through the combination of armor and flesh spells, ensuring you aren't a completely soft target. The majority of your combat will be at close to mid range so that little bit of damage resistance might just save you.
Stats: 0 Magicka, 1 Health, 0 Stamina. We will be using the Infinite Concentration Casting glitch so do not place points into magicka and dump everything into health. Your health will act as a large resource to draw from via equilibrium.
Skills: Destruction, Enchanting, Conjuration, Illusion, Restoration
Weapon: Staff of Miraak
Spells: Wall of Storms, Healing, Greater Ward, Conjure Flame/Frost/Storm Atronach, Conjure Dremora Lord, Frenzy, Rally
Powers: Secret of Arcana, Mora’s Boon
Moral Alignment: Any non good alignment
- Gameplay -
“Within blood lies the power to subvert the limits of mortal magic.”
For the most part the Maleficar can be leveled up quite quickly and easily once you get the core exploit going. Until that level came what I did was hang around the College and the Winterhold area progressing through the College questline slowly until I acquired equilibrium. Invest in gear that boosts magicka and magicka regen, and keep a stock of useful staves scrolls and magicka potions. You'll likely have infinite concentration casting up and running by that point. My point is to take slow. The drastic jump in power is huge and well worth the wait.
Destruction and Restoration will level very quuckly since you'll be using their concentration spells a lot. Conjuration will also level very quickly as summon spells will be used very often. Enchanting will level up at a decent pace once you get a hold of the Staff of Miraak. Expect Illusion to trail behind the other skills as its only perked for its passive effects. Dont hesitate to invest in Illusion training.
Destruction - For this build our attention will be focused exclusively on the perks that augment shock damage. Your only means of delivering direct damage comes by way of destruction concentration spells. Infinite concentration casting can be achieved as low as level 10 so expect to level up destruction fairly quickly. You’ll start out early on with the novice spell Sparks but you’ll switch to Wall of Storms as soon as you find/purchase it. Shock perks such as ‘Electro Convulsions’ and ‘Magnetization’ will make it a bit easier to keep enemies at a safe distance.
Conjuration - Concentrated destruction magic alone will not ensure victory. The perks within this tree will give you access to stronger and longer lasting minions to supplement your destruction damage. Be sure to join the college as early as possible to gain access to these summon spells. You’ll want to use them often as having the extra allies around gives enemies something to target other than you, which is fairly important given this build’s poor defense. Once this tree is mastered your minions will become stronger and gradually heal lost health whenever you are by their side casting concentration spells.
Illusion - Rather than a focus on messing with our enemies’ heads we’ll be focused on buffing minions, and this skill tree comes packed with a plethora of perks that do just that and quite well. ‘Commanding Presence’ alone grants your minions a 20% boost to both attack damage and critical strike chance. ‘Crown of the False King’ adds 80 armor and 20% magic resist to that mix. To top it off the perk ‘Imperious Splendor’ makes both previously mentioned perks twice as powerful so long as you remain above 75% health. The downside is you’ll need the ‘Master of the Mind’ perk before your summoned minions can enjoy any of these benefits. Frenzy can prove useful to set enemies against each other even without investment in illusion buffing perks. This can buy you valuable time to harness your blood magic in battle. You can use Rally to further bolster your minions' stats.
Restoration - Whenever equilibrium is used to build up magicka for summoning you’ll be using the novice ‘Healing’ spell to restore health. It may not seem like much but with the listed perks taken this low level spell can restore upwards to 35 health per second. Those same perks allow wards to block significantly more spell damage. Healing and wards are in constant use in battles so expect Restoration to level up very quickly.
Enchanting - The Staff of Miraak is an invaluable tool for keeping aggressive enemies at bay while you balance out your health and magicka. The perks taken in this tree are designed to help staff charges last much longer and even allow staves to gradually regain soul energy over time.
- Unshackled Power -
The Maleficar draws most of her spell-casting prowess by way of the Infinite Concentration Casting Exploit. Through this her destructive capability becomes unbound from the natural limits of magicka, allowing her to cast concentration spells innately regardless of remaining Magicka.
The steps to completing this ritual, so to speak, are quite simple. This character is not an alchemist, nor does she have to be since the potions we need can be reliably found in any apothecary usually around level 20. The necessary accessory is even easier to find.
1 X Draught of the Healer
2 X Philter of the Healer
Ring or Pendant of Fortify Magicka +50
Once the above items have been collected you need to consume the potions in the order listed below and then equip the accessory…
Philter + Draught + Philter -> Equip Accessory
If you did everything right you will be granted 78 extra magick on top of your base 100. But more importantly you'll now possess the ability to cast any concentration spell infinitely. This effect is permanent so long as that ring remains equipped. We will be using Wall of Storms, Greater Ward and Healing quite frequently in battle. The above combination grants you the most Magicka one can possibly possess while using infinite concentration casting.
The most wonderful thing about an everlasting Wall of Storms, aside from that Emperor Palpatine vibe, is how quickly debilitating effects and damage can pile up against a mob thanks to Ordinator’s unique array of shock damage effects.. The Vanilla Disintegrate perk may be missing entirely but what we get instead is far more powerful. Combined with the Staff of Miraak, the Maleficar is quite capable of keeping her enemies just out of melee range as her spells and minions make short work of them.
Because Healing is a concentration spell you can freely restore health as needed after sacrificing it to cast normal spells. This circumvents a common problem found in most blood mage builds: Exhausting a finite supply of health after exhausting an even more finite supply of magick. The Maleficar instead can replenish either Health or Magicka at will and Equilibrium and Healing are the levers by which this twisted balance is controlled.
The last and arguably greatest boon offered by Infinite Concentration Magic comes in the form of a limitless Greater Ward. This prohibitively expensive spell can now be held as long as you wish, and with the right restoration perks can block well over 120 magic damage. You are essentially immune to magic damage so long as your ward blocks it.
- Blood and Oblivion -
The second major pillar of this build lies in the symbiotic relationship between the you and your summoned minions. From you they draw strength, gaining drastically increased stats and powerful new attacks when you remain close to them. Your survival in turn is quite literally dependent on their presence, for in exchange for the ability to summon more daedra you will suffer a MASSIVE drop in physical defense (-250 armor) when you have no daedra in play. With so little armor to begin with your total armor rating will likely dip into the negatives.
With such a small amount of max magicka you will often find yourself sacrificing your own health to muster enough Magicka to summon your minions. It is imperative to keep at least one daedra active at all times in battle, and knowing which daedra to summon may be the difference between an easy or difficult battle.
The ‘Unleash Hell’ perk grants each summoned minion a unique special attack available to them upon being summoned and every 30 seconds thereafter.
Flame Atronach - Powerful but delicate. Flame atronachs deal good damage from afar, and their Flame explosion special attack possesses incredible range, damage, and accuracy. They are very cheap to cost so if tapping into blood ever gets risky you'll be thankful for these guys. Summon them behind you and use the Staff of Miraak to block the enemy off, allowing them to provide range support with impunity.
Frost Atronach - Very useful for slowing enemies down and their special attack will temporarily freeze an enemy while reducing their defenses. Their heavy melee attack will stagger groups of enemies for several seconds and for that they make invaluable allies in close range encounters. Defensively they are weaker than Dremora Lords but far less costly to summon. They make excellent blockers given their massive size.
Storm Atronach - Their chain lightning spells make these daedra an invaluable ally against dragons. Their special ability will temporarily immobilize an enemy. They are about as sturdy as a Frost Atronach but it would be a waste to send these daedra to the front lines. Against normal enemies treat them as you would Flame Atronachs and keep them in the rear. These guys are especially helpful against dragons given the sheer range and speed of their chain lightning spells.
Dremora Lord - They are the ultimate front line soldiers, boasting massive attack damage and defense, but the cost of summoning even one is steep. You will be dipping into your health reserves guaranteed if the need arises to summon one of these guys. As with the Frost Atronach, summon these daedra to assist you on the front lines and stay close to them to maximize their power. Their special ability grants them increased attack damage for a short duration, which combined with your illusion perks make the Dremora Lord immensely powerful.
- Forbidden Techniques -
Blood Magic - Barter with Oblivion itself, trading life essence in exchange for magick power, or magicka in exchange for life. Your life blood and Magicka are forever locked in a perverse cycle where one cannot be replenished without sacrificing the other.
Requires - Equilibrium, Healing, Infinite Concentration Casting, Edgewalker perk, Restoration Mastery (2/2)
With infinite concentration casting your main damage dealing spell will be wall of storms, which while powerful comes at the cost of being able to cast anything with a set magic cost. Blood Magic counters that by letting you sacrifice health for more magicka. Coupled with the Healing concentration spell, you will always have the Magicka to cast your spells and the blood to sacrifice for summoning.. But do keep an eye on your health. Getting careless with this will kill you.
Malevolent Storm - Sends forth a violent torrent of dark energy that decimates enemies as it surges through their ranks. But such overwhelming power completely suppresses your ability to cast normal spells.
Requires - Infinite Concentration Casting, Wall of Storms
With this we’re taking full advantage of the infinite concentration casting exploit by employing Wall of Storms, the second most costly concentration spell in the game, as our go-to standard attack. All shock effects will proc at near regular intervals making this quite a nasty combination particularly against mobs of enemies. Like with all concentration effects this is going to reduce your Magicka to nil preventing you from casting non concentration spells without first sacrificing blood.
Bound Shield - Summons a powerful bound shield to block incoming hostile spells. The shield is impenetrable to all but the most powerful magick but the immense concentration required to hold its form suppresses your ability to cast normal spells.
Requires - Restoration Mastery (2/2), Greater Ward, Infinite Concentration Casting
Again we’re taking advantage of infinite concentration casting, this time in the form of a perfect magick defense. Without the worry of magick costs Greater Ward becomes an invaluable tool against enemy mages, some of whom can dish out catastrophic damage thanks to Ordinator: Restoration Mastery enhances the power of all restoration spells allow Greater Ward to block an excess of 120 points of damage, and even more if you choose to dual cast it.
Dark Symbiosis - Your pact with oblivion allows you to summon more daedra and bind them more permanently to your will, and both master and minions benefit from each others presence in perfect symbiosis. But beware the terms of this pact, for if ever there are no daedra at your side, you will be afflicted with a terrible curse.
Requires - Commanding Presence, Crown of the False King, Imperious Splendor, Master of the Mind, Edge of Oblivion, Signed in Blood, Unleash Hell, Pact Magic
This combination takes advantage of the incredible synergy between several Conjuration and Illusion perks to create summoned minions far more powerful than they’d normally be. Whenever you stand within range of your minions they enjoy drastically increased stats, gain new abilities and even heal lost health over time at the expense of your health regeneration. You in turn gain increased spell damage and staving off that nasty armor penalty brought on by ‘Edge of Oblivion’ is pretty important too.
- Tactics -
Make frequent use of your summoned minions. They will add tremendously to your damage potential but more importantly they’ll keep your enemies’ attention diverted, buying you time to replenish health or magicka with Blood Magic. Don’t wait until you’ve lost both your summons in battle to sacrifice the health needed to summon more. If it’s clear your minions are losing, fall back while the enemy is occupied and apply Blood Magic as needed to summon new minions.
Any combination of Bound Shield, Malevolent Storm, or Blood Magic (healing only) can be used simultaneously. With that one can multitask attacking, defending, and recovery as needed. The Staff of Miraak may also be used simultaneously.
The easiest way to foil troublesome mages is to summon an atronach that matches the element they’re using against you. When pitted against an atronach immune to their spells they’ll resort to weak, pitiful physical attacks rendering them harmless to you and your minions. Archers are your most dangerous threat. With little in the way of physical defense you won’t last long under fire, and if you’re caught without a minion summoned you almost certain to die in 1 or 2 shots. Counter archers by summoning a close range minion such as a frost atronach right on top of their position. They’ll be forced to switch to close range weapons to deal with the threat directly on top of them.
Storm atronachs will be your best friend against dragons. Their attacks combined with your Malevolent Storm technique will sap a dragon’s magick entirely, preventing them from using breath attacks.
The Staff of Miraak is an excellent territory denial tool. Use it to block off m avenues of approach, turn narrow paths into death traps, or buy time to restore health or magicka.
- Roleplay -
“Common wisdom dictates there exists no benevolent means of wielding blood magic. Even the noblest of mages can feel the dark allure of power coursing through their veins with every use.”
Dangerous, reclusive, and perhaps even insane, those branded maleficar may occupy a variety of moral alignments, though seldom are their motives noble. Practitioners of foul arts most dare not even speak of, their work is at best viewed with suspicion, and the threat of persecution remains constant. With that in mind here are some roleplay ideas to consider.
Knowledge is power and power is everything. Mages who live by this creed are rightfully shunned and feared. As a power hungry mage your interests in forbidden magick lie purely in furthering your own nefarious schemes. Be it utter destruction or total domination, whatever your machinations may be, no price is too high and no life is too precious to sacrifice to realize your ambitions.
Seeker of Knowledge -
Forbidden is not a warning, but rather, an invitation. Though your pursuit of the dark arts remains mostly academic, your disregard for morality and the ethics surrounding your experiments make you no more trustworthy than those who would use this knowledge for evil. You seek answers others run from in ignorance, willingly cohorting with the daedra to expand your own knowledge.
- Recommended Mods -
YY Animation Replacer - Mystic Knight - An excellent animation pack geared towards mages and spell swords. Completely does away with the awkward cave man like stance of the vanilla game.
Immersive College of Winterhold - The ICoW mod completely revamps every aspect of the college from the ground up. Schedules are revamped, new rooms, exhibits and study areas have been added, and the senior professors have access to far more powerful spells - So they truly look and feel like masters of their chosen school of magic. All n' all, ICoW makes the College of Winterhold truly feel like an actual, serious college for magical study.
Apocalypse Magic - If you'd like to add more variety to your collection of summoned minions this mod is perfect. Apocalypse Magic adds over two dozen
Daedric Entitiy Restoration Project aka D.E.R.P - Anyone whose played previous TES titles may notice Skyrim's woefully inadequet roster of summonable minions. D.E.R.P fixes this by reimplimenting, in painstaking detail, the many daedric entities featured in previous TES titles and even some found in Elder Scrolls Online!
Well, thanks for reading guys and I hope you liked it. If you have any questions about the build be sure to ask in the comments.