One of the more known non-playable races of Tamriel are the Maormer, a race of elves adapted for life at the tropical seas and famous for their unique Snake Magic. I was very tempted to use alchemy to emulate Snake Magic, but instead, ended up with a no-crafting build viable on Master and Legendary difficulties by borrowing spells from several schools to establish a powerful grimoire of Snake Magic spells. I present...
The Maormer (aka Tropical Elves or Sea Elves) are a race of mer descended from the Aldmer. They live on Pyandonea, an isolated island south of the Summerset Isles, and are well-adapted to life at or near the sea. They are said to have originated from a splinter group of Aldmer who were exiled to Pyandonea due to their rebellion. Making the marshy, insect-infested Pyandonea their home, the ancestors of the Maormer never forgave the elves residing in the Summerset Isles, and the Maormer have had countless clashes with the Altmer ever since. However, for eras, offensive attempts to end the war from either sides always ended in failure. The tremendous Maormer armada of Chitinous ships and Sea Serpents was finally defeated in the 3rd Era by the combined efforts of the Imperial Fleet, Royal Navies of Summerset and the Psijic Order. The Maormer were never documented in sufficient detail or heard about again.
The Maormer armadas made great use of mist storms littering their seas to achieve countless decisive victories by sneaking up on unprepared enemy ships. The Maormer people are also known for their ability to "walk into the shade of a single tree and vanish", and the Sea Serpents which guard Pyandonea use thick underwater kelp forests for camouflage and ambush. This goes to show how intrinsic stealth is to the Maormer culture, as is Snake Magic, a magic which emulates and borrows the strengths of serpents. The most commonly known application of this is for animal enthrallment, which allows the Maormer to tame and ride Sea Serpents into battle. (I went ahead and extrapolated that) Snake Magic further augments stealthy abilities and allows the Maormer to summon arcane venom or employ mystical protective scales against adversaries.
I tinkered about and tried to bring this peculiar race into Skyrim, in the form of a young vagabond Maormer who managed to breach Pyandonea's mist wall. An inquisitive scholar and seasoned adventurer, the Maormer Magician seeks knowledge in archeology, history and sorcery with great zeal, and takes up tasks ranging from deliveries and foraging, to infiltration and outlaw extermination to fund his adventures. Having evaded the Thalmor his entire journey, from his rough landing on the bays of Valenwood, to his treks through the sands of Elsweyr, and even in his hasty trip across Cyrodiil, his luck finally runs out at the borders of Skyrim, where he is captured by his generations-long adversaries and their human puppets. And that is where his journey begins.
Race: Wood Elf (White facepaint covering as much skin as possible, lightest skin tone, white eyes)
To emulate the Maormer, I went with the Bosmer. Altmer are also viable, but I did not appreciate the irony of emulating and roleplaying the Maormer using their sworn enemies, and their skin tone was too different from what I envisioned a Maormer to look like in Skyrim. The Bosmer Racial ability is also closer to the serpent-taming magic the Maormer use, and can net some early loot from giant camps.
Stats spread: 2 : 1 : 1
As the title suggests, this is a magic-focused build where spells are cast frequently to augment stealth and combat, so Magicka is given priority over health and stamina. But that is not to say the latter two are useless; the Maormer Magician is more than capable of wielding (dual) axes in open combat, along with a plethora of spells, but his magic truly shines in the shadows.
Archetype: Nightblade, Druid, Spellsword
By the virtue of being a Maormer, the Magician is gifted in stealth, and on top of that, he specializes in a magic practiced exclusively by the Maormer known as Snake Magic. Augmenting his scouting and assassination abilities with magic, the Maormer Magician is a powerful nightblade who can gather information, move silently and slit throats from the shadows. He is, however, more than capable of fighting outside the shadows. His magic also grants him the ability to enthrall and employ animals in his vicinity, be it to hunt giants, hunt Falmer, or to escape from random encounter beasts.
Level 40 Perkspread
One-handed is the main offensive skill, with focus on axes. The damage-over-time suits our serpentine theme.
Sneak is the secondary martial skill, this is the greatest asset to the magician. Although other skill trees have at least twice the number of perk points invested in them in comparison to Sneak, Sneak is the most used skill.
Alteration is our primary Snake Magic. Paralysis emulates poison, while the flesh spells, Magic Resistance and Atronach represent the resilient ethereal scales which protect the mage from all sorts of harm. Detect Life/Dead also grants serpentine vision which bypasses walls. A very handy skill overall.
Illusion is our secondary Snake Magic. Muffle and Invisibility boost sneak to great levels and allow the mage to employ hit-and-hide tactics in the middle of the battlefield. Courage and Rally can be used to buff our temporary animal allies, or to calm them once the fight’s over. Aspect of Terror is necessary for our next skill, albeit a minor one…
Destruction is the tertiary Snake Magic skill and this skill is used for only one spell: Ignite. Aspect of terror boosts it to a respectable 14 DPS for 15 seconds, which functions as our ranged damaging tool.
Light armor is our apparel of choice, since it supports stealth, but also offers modest protection once our cover is blown. It also fits lore, as the Maormer were adept at using membranous and chitinous material for construction and crafting. Feel free to drop spare perks into here, but
Speech will be leveled often, as our main source of income would be selling loot. Gold is almost never an issue past level 10, so don't bother perking this.
The armor combo I went for has relatively low protective rating (49 base AR), but it looks pretty good on druidic character with a tinge of exotic teal and gold. Hoods and amulets can be purchased from Radiant Raiment, while Glass armor can be looted from Thalmor Embassy guards post-level 36. The torso piece can be looted from the guy outside Forelhost, or earned from the Stormcloak questline. Ahzidal's Rings are the hardest items to obtain on this list, but even without crafting skills, the Magician can earn money through dungeon delving, bounty hunting and (my favourite) Thieves Guild jobs. I didn't bother to enchant the gear, but feel free to buff the armor with (unperked) enchanting.
- Adept/Apprentice Hood
- Stormcloak Officer Armor
- Glass Gauntlets & Boots
- Amulet of Talos OR Savos Aren’s Amulet OR Fire/Frost resist amulets (Change with situation)
- Ahzidal’s Ring of Arcana OR Necromancy (Stick to the former, swap to the latter for special moves)
The Maormer Magician specializes in one-handed axes, with emphasis on bleeding damage. It is unlikely that a skill level of 90 in one-handed is attained before Ebony weapons are available, so I decided not to restrict myself to using Orcish Waraxes, since other axes outclass it in bleeding and base damage at the first 2 ranks of Hack & Slash. Daedric axes are the end-game choice, but I stuck with a pair of Ebony axes I got from Draugr bosses.
- Highest Quality War Axe x2
No magic-toting build is complete without a spellbook, and the Maormer Magician's arcane arsenal covers three schools of magic, two of which are perked. Animal Allegiance and Kyne's Peace are used in situations where animals are involved, while Fire Breath serves as basic burst damage or, with Dragonborn Flame, a way to summon serpents.
- Muffle, Invisibility
- Courage, Rally, Kyne's Peace, Animal Allegiance
- Waterbreathing, Candlelight, Magelight, Detect Dead, Detect Life,
- Flesh spells
- Paralyze, Mass Paralysis, Freeze
- Fire Breath
Coiled Strike: Silent Roll + Critical Charge
A powerful attack, but it requires space and practice to pull off perfectly. This provides the boost to sneak damage which allows us to instakill weaker enemies on Master or Legendary difficulty (which is, by the way, the difficulty this build should be played in)
Venom edge: Hack ‘n’ Slash 3/3, Orcish/Ebony/Daedric Axes
Unspoken spells and forgotten magics imbue a mundane axe with an edge oozing with venom which eats through enemies with flowing blood.
Neurotoxin: Paralyze, Paralyzing Strike, Mass Paralysis, Freeze
Revel as your foes slow to a crawl or lie incapacitated, and at the end of your mercy. While it is very effective in open combat against strong crowds, the spells are mighty expensive, and Paralyzing strike is not very reliable.
Burning Poison: Ignite + Aspect of Fear
The magician conjures a mystic, volatile poison which inflicts burning agony upon its victims. It’s satisfying in a sadistic way to cremate enemies from the shadows while they look for their assailant. This is arguably the most OP technique in the Magician's arsenal, but the lack of Destruction spell cost reduction balances this out. This is also the best way the build has to deal with (flying) dragons.
Master-Level Snake Magic: Satakal’s Serpent Summoning: (Paralyze) + Ritual Stone + Fire Breath + Dragonborn Flame (+ Ahzidal’s Ring of Necromancy)
As the magician seeks the favor of the Serpent God and offers his victims, he is replied with a small army of mystic serpents. Don't hesitate to use Fire Breath to finish off weak or weakened enemies to preserve the Ritual power.
- Explore any dungeon you come across, especially underwater areas, ruins and places with historical or magical significance
- Spend minimal time in large cities (the strange looks the folk give you feels uncomfortable), spend most of your time in the wild or in dungeons
- Sell loot and do various quests to sustain your income
- Make sure to help anyone in need, more so if there's a prize to be earned
- Get Lakeview Manor, store books and artifacts in it and turn it into a museum
- Join up with the College, and any other factions which interest you / provide opportunities for learning
- Avoid unnecessary conflict, unless it's for a bounty, or if it's the Thalmor
The build was quite the blast to pull off, and was as fun as it was challenging at Master difficulty. I set out to make a simple adaptation of Snake Magic in Skyrim, and ended up with a powerful and versatile Shadowmage-Druid who excelled in stealth, combat and magic. Thank you for reading, and I hope you try this build out.