Character Build: The Samurai

After what seems like forever and a day ago since I last contributed to this fine community, I am back with yet another character build. This build is my take on the ever popular master swordsman concept, and it has been many months in the making. It is my pleasure to share with you all my own take on the master swordsman, easily my favorite class type. Without further delay I present...


903700?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024"No common warrior can match the fierce discipline, the tactical brilliance, nor the peerless swordsmanship of a samurai warrior. Samurai are disciples of the ancient Akaviri art of warfare and combat, who dedicate their lives to seeking out honorable warriors to test their mettle against. Always seeking to obtain greater strength and skill, Samurai are martial perfectionists who wield their weapons with deadly purpose."


The Samurai is a heavily armored close quarter combat specialist; A cross between a defender and a duelist. Like any tanky character, the samurai is fairly durable. However, the samurai lacks the sheer staying power of a full fledged defender, and instead relies on deft movements to gain the advantage. To that end, samurai are just as capable as any tank at engaging multiple foes directly - albeit with much more finesse and style.

830851202?profile=RESIZE_320x320As masters of both single and dual wield sword stances, the samurai are able to seamlessly switch stances in combat to suit both offensive and defensive needs. The stances compliment each other quite well, in an almost perfect yin & yang relationship. A single blade allows for blocking, countering, and positioning, but lacks the offensive capacity to inflict enough damage. Two blades working in tandem are able to deal impressive damage but leave the wielder vulnerable. The Extended Slow Time glitch further increases the potential of these stances while granting the samurai an impressive speed advantage. 

But you'd hardly be playing this build anywhere close to its full potential using this trick for mere speed. Extended Slow Time grants you the ability to pull off some pretty sweet combos. Knocking an enemy sky high and slicing him to ribbons before he even lands is just one of many awesome things the samurai is capable of. The samurai has much to offer, both to players looking for a fun balanced warrior to enjoy the game with, as well as advanced players looking to show off the many ways you can chop a milkdrinker into pieces.

* The Build *

Race: Redguard. You wont find a race better suited. Redguard start with an impressive 10 bonus levels to One-handed, as well as a bonus 5 levels to most warrior skill trees. Their racial ability, Adrenaline Rush, is a life saver in critical moments when a strong offense is crucial. 

Stone: Lord. Lacking in magical talent, the samurai is somewhat vulnerable to enemy mages. The lord stone is crucial for mitigating magic damage.

Stat Distribution: 0 Magicka/ 2 Health/ 1 Stamina  The Samurai possesses various means of conserving stamina while on the offensive, meaning a large stamina pool unnecessary. A large health pool will be needed to effectively engage multiple enemies head on.

Major Skills: Heavy Armor, One-Handed, Block

Minor Skills: Alteration, Smithing

Shouts: Slow Time, Become Ethereal, Unrelenting Force, Dragon Aspect, Elemental Fury

Powers: Secret of Protection, Dragonborn Force, Force Without Effort

Blessing: Blessing of Talos

* Equipment *



The Orcish Helmet combined with the Blades Armor set makes for a very aesthetically pleasing combination. This awesome looking armor combo is what inspired this build in the first place. Your first blades sword can be obtained at Nightingate Inn. Just "politely" challenge its owner to a duel (to the death) for it. A second blades sword can be obtained in Delphine's secret room.

Bolar's Oath Blade can be used as your second blade until you get the second blade's sword. Dragonsbane is also gained at the temple and possesses a powerful enchantment that deals up to 40 extra damage against dragons as well as 10 points of shock damage against non dragons. Its enchantment is level based so try to pick it up around lvl 30 or 40 to get the most out of it. Lastly, the Talos Amulet, in conjunction with the Blessing of Talos provides you a constant 40% shout cool down reduction. Combined with Extended Slow Time glitch, Slow time's effect will easily outlast its cool down, allowing you to combine slow time with other shouts for devastating effect. 

904232?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024One Handed: The sole source of damage for the samurai. The dual weapon perks are especially important as the samurai is highly reliant on dual wield power strikes for damage. Easily leveled by taking advantage of the Hadvar/Ralof exploit. This skill will level fairly fast naturally if you'd rather not abuse that exploit.

Block: Grants quite a bit of utility to the build. Blocking, parrying, dodging, and knocking opponents off balance are all taken care of within the block tree. You can level this quite easily by using giants for training. Just drop the difficulty to Novice (No cheating. Put that shit back on Master when you're done), grab your best sheild and blocking their blows gets you fast levels. Remember the more damage you mitigate the faster block levels.

Heavy Armor: As a tanky fighter, you're going to need a fair bit of physical protection. Blocking does no good if chip damage still takes a sizeable chunk of your health. Conditioning is a key perk in this tree. Once you get it, you'll expend stamina much more efficiently. Completing the Companion's
quest line grants you access to Farkas as a follower. Simply trade back the money you pay him for training.

Alteration: In the early game, flesh spells will help supplement your defenses. The key perks within this tree are stability and magic defense. Being able to defend against magic is equally as important as defending against physical attacks. Stability allows the slow time + quick reflexes combo to last 50% longer. The easiest way to level alteration is to cast detect life in a crowded city.

Smithing: Necessary to bolster the damage of your swords and improve armor. Dwarven smithing is taken to take advantage of the fast levels granted by the crafting of dwarven bows. You'll need the arcane blacksmith perk in order to improve the damage of dragonsbane. 


* Special Techniques *

Basic - These techniques are relatively simple to perform and chain into each other quite nicely

830853753?profile=RESIZE_180x180Fearless Charge - The samurai charges towards an enemy, deflecting all in coming attacks for a brief duration. Fearless charge does not expend stamina while running and the next power attack used while under its effect also costs no stamina.

Requires: Become Ethereal, Great Critical Charge, Force Without Effort, Single Blade Stance

The Samurai has no means of dealing damage at long range. Fearless charge allows you to rush at a long range opponent, who'd normally be free to pelt you with impunity, without the mess of wasting stamina and taking damage along the way. The heavy stagger induced from this technique gives you ample time to abuse your opponent. Fearless charge combos well into both 'Breach the Line' and 'Unlabored Flawlessness' 


830854830?profile=RESIZE_180x180Breach the Line - The Samurai executes a forward lunging strike leading with the hilt of the blade, throwing enemies in range off balance and scattering them into the air.

Requires: Shield Charge, Single Blade Stance

As you may or may not know, shield charge can be performed with a sword. Simply tap the block button repeatedly as you run. 'Breach the Line' is useful for a multitude of reasons. Its great if you need to break away from a mob of enemies. Its also very useful for taking troublesome enemies out of the fight for a short duration. Most importantly it leaves an enemy off their feet and defenseless; a perfect target for the technique 'No Mercy'. 


830856130?profile=RESIZE_180x180Flawless Strike - The Samurai focuses on the accuracy and efficiency of his swings rather than raw power and speed. The effect is a 4 hit combo that costs no stamina whatsoever but deals damage at a slower rate than a standard dual power attack

Requirement: With dual blades equipped, initiate a dual power attack and immediately tap both left and right triggers as the attack begins. 

Dual wield attacks deal hefty damage, but have very high stamina costs. 'Unlabored Flawlessness' allows you to maintain your offensive momentum and conserve stamina. Fearless Charge combos transitions smoothly into this technique resulting in 5 devastating power attacks in a row without spending an ounce of stamina. 


830856303?profile=RESIZE_180x180Iron Focus - Upon successfully parrying or dodging an incoming power attack, the samurai achieves a state of perfect focus and clarity. In this state the samurai gains a substantial speed advantage over enemies and the ability to chain techniques together more easily. 

Requires: Quick Reflexes, Slow Time, Stability, Talos Amulet/Blessing Single Sword Stance

Activating slow time while under the effect of quick reflexes triggers the extended slow time effect. This is what enables you to effectively engage multiple enemies. It allows you to easily anticipate, dodge, and counter enemy attacks. More importantly it makes any recovery time an enemy suffers from being knocked on their ass substantially longer. 



Advanced - Master Iron Focus and master it well. To get the most out of the techniques listed below, Iron Focus must be active. 


830857366?profile=RESIZE_180x180No Mercy - The Samurai capitalizes on the opportunity to deal heavy continuous damage against any opponent launched into the air or knocked to the ground

Requirements:  (Against airborne or downed opponent) Iron Focus, Dual Blade Stance, Unlabored Flawlessness (optional)

Anything knocked into the air or on its ass while Iron Focus is active will take forever to get back on their feet.  'No Mercy'  allows you to deal massive amounts of damage against a defenseless enemy. If you're skilled enough, this move can be used to strike an opponent as they flail through the air too. This technique is faster when used without 'Unlabored Flawlessness', but runs through stamina quite quickly as well.


830857386?profile=RESIZE_180x180Dragon Pulse - The samurai channels ki energy into a powerful blast knocking multiple enemies in a massive frontal area off their feet, leaving them highly vulnerable. Enemies with below 50 health are outright killed.

Requires: Iron Focus, Unrelenting Force lvl 3, Force Without Effort

Slow time will far outlast its cool down. Once that happens, using Unrelenting Force while still under the effect of slow time will knock multiple enemies off their feet leaving them all vulnerable for a long period of time. This gives you ample time to kill a few of them off while they're knocked down. 


830858900?profile=RESIZE_180x180Dragon Slayer - The Samurai gathers ki energy, taking on the aspect of a raging dragon. In this state the samurai is whirlwind of death, gaining massive bonus to attack speed and damage, armor, elemental resistance, and stamina regeneration.

Requires: Iron Focus (optional), Adrenaline Rush, Secret of Protection, Dragon Aspect, Elemental Fury, Dual Blade Stance.

This technique combines multiple once a day powers for devastating effect. Its best to save this technique for bosses. While it is possible to use this without Iron Focus active, it is far more lethal to use it with Iron focus active. Equip dragonsbane in your right hand, when using this on dragons. Elemental Fury will only check your left handed weapon for enchantments when dual wielding. 


* Tactics *

Know Yourself - You must master yourself in order to master the enemy

You can take a few hits, but at only 300-350 Armor and 40% magic resist by end game on Master, enemies will still tear through you if you get cocky. Activating 'Iron Focus' goes a long way to ensuring your survival. You also lack the stamina of most duelists, so take advantage of 'Fearless Charge' and 'Unlabored Flawlessness' to conserve stamina whenever possible.

It is important to note a flaw within the extended slow time glitch. Triggering Quick Reflexes while already under the affects of slow time will cancel the effect. You'll notice the tell tale blue hue of slow time remaining while the world moves at its regular pace. In a sense 'Iron Focus' penalizes you for blocking rather than exercising some finesse and dodging attacks. 

Know the advantages and disadvantages of both single and dual blade stances. With one blade you are able to block, dodge, and counter, but you deal minimal damage. With two blades its all too easy to shred your opponent, but you have nothing to block with other than your face. Use the single blade stance to knock opponents off balance and dual blades to finish them off. In case you were not aware, your left hand weapon can be swapped in and out without delay. You can switch seamlessly between single and dual wield stances at any time.

Outside of 'Dragon Pulse' you lack any means of attacking multiple enemies. So be aware of where enemies are so you dont get surprised when focused on one of them. 'Iron Focus' makes it easier to keep track of enemy positions, but still keep an eye on your back and flank.

830859020?profile=RESIZE_320x320Know Your Enemy - Knowledge is your greatest weapon

Its important to prioritize certain enemy types over others. The biggest threat in any given fight are going to be mages and archers. Failing to prioritize them first gives them ample opportunity to pelt you from afar while you're busy fighting melee enemies. 'Fearless Charge' is your best friend in these situations. Once you're in their face, let em have it! If you can, try to trigger 'Iron Focus' prior to engaging ranged enemies.

Melee enemies are your best friends. Take advantage of their power attacks to trigger 'Iron Focus'. This is especially important when up against multiple enemies as your armor will only hold up so long against that many attackers. Once 'Iron Focus is triggered it will be much easier to dodge and counter attack.

Against a single melee opponent you need not bother with 'Iron Focus' unless they are that damn strong. Its usually easier to follow up 'Breach the Line' with slow time. This is a quick and dirty way to chain into 'No Mercy'. Against a single ranged opponent its best to start with 'Fearless Charge' and go from there. 

Dragons are somewhat of a pain in the ass in the early game. Become Ethereal has a short cool down time so it should be available everytime the dragon decides to use a breath attack. Once you've at least gotten Secret of Protection, dragons become easier. They become even easier once you're able to utilize 'Dragon Slayer'. Don't be afraid to take a follower along, preferably a mage, to take on dragons early on. Don't forget to equip dragonsbane for that extra damage. Additional enemies interfering in a dragon battle is a blessing. Use them to trigger 'Iron Focus'. It will make the dragon's attacks easier to dodge, and make 'Dragon Slayer' far deadlier.

Know Your Surroundings - There lay the keys to turning the tide

Another way of dealing with ranged enemies is to use cover to your advantage. Use terrain and walls to block their attacks while you deal with melee enemies. Ranged enemies rarely follow so doubles as a good way of separating the enemy, making them easier to take down. Steering a battle into a narrow passage is a good way of preventing enemies from being able to flank you. It also forces them to fight you one at a time. 

Cliffs and other high ledges are your best friend. Using 'Breach the Line' or Unrelenting Force to knock enemies off high ledges is a quick and easy way to instantly take an enemy or two out of the fight permanently. 


 * Recommended Quests *

Samurai tend to be Lawfully Good. They are staunch supporters of law and order and hold their honor in the highest regard. You may adopt a different moral alignment if you wish. A samurai can be roleplayed as any alignment, but regardless of how your morals lean, maintaining a veneer of honor and civility is a must. 

Most of the recommended quests below center around testing your mettle against powerful adversaries, and gaining notoriety as a powerful warrior. 

The Companions - If you're looking to prove yourself as a warrior, there is no better place to start than in the halls of Jorrvaskr. The Companions quest line offers you some challenging fights, and a the conclusion of the quest line a whole host of warrior skill trainers. You will gain great notoriety as the Harbinger of the companion which is very fitting. 

The Main Quest - Like the Akaviri warriors of old, the Samurai is a slayer of dragons. The main story offers you the chance to cement your place in history as the brave warrior who slew the World Eater, Alduin, and saved Tamriel. 

The Civil War - Being the lawful sort, few samurai would suffer the existence of the rebel Stormcloaks. Join the Imperial Legion, destroy these rebel upstarts, and restore law and order to the province. 

Dragonborne - An ancient dragon priest, hearing word of your exploits, seeks to destroy you and add your power to his own. Your motive for pursuing Miraak may be to do the reverse and add his power to your own, or for the safety for Solsthiem. In either case the mead halls of Solsthiem will sing songs of your endeavors for years to come. 

The Old Orc - While not exactly a quest, one of the most enjoyable moments I had playing the samurai was challenging the Old Orc in a battle to the death. I met him very early in my play through and despite knowing how strong he was at early levels, I challenged him to uphold my honor. He proved to be a challenge but ultimately I prevailed. 


* Role-Play *

To help you get into character here are some additional roleplay suggestions:

  • Never back down from a challenge. Nothing would be more dishonorable than shying away when another warrior challenges you.
  • Become thane of at least one hold. 
  • Take on bounty missions and regularly complete radiant quests offered by the Companions
  • You are above dishonorable methods of fighting. This means no sneak attacking. 
  • You must never steal from anyone, but the spoils of a fallen adversary are fair game with exception of their armor. It is dishonorable to disrobe a fallen opponent, leaving their naked carcass exposed to the elements. 


* Recommended Mods *

Looking to take your experience with this character even further? Here are some suggestions:

  • ESF: Companions- This is a massive overhaul of the Companions quest line. With this mod the Companions questline feels like an entirely new and expansive experience. Countless lines of additional dialogue has been added to further flesh out the characters. You now have the option to duel your fellow companions and through the MCM menu you can set entry requirements to join the Companions and determine what must be done to advance within their ranks.
  • Oriental Swordsmanship - This is an animation overhaul for one handed sword animations, and a vast improvement over the uncoordinated, clunky animations of the vanilla game. I highly recommend using this alongside FNIS PCEA 2 to make these animations exclusive to your character.
  • Dual Sheath Redux - This mod can be somewhat of a technical challenge for some to set up but its well worth the effort. As the name implies you'll be able to see both your swords at all times when sheathed.



* Closing Remarks *

I would like to thank this fine community for all their support over these many months. I'm glad to be back on the saddle making character builds. Stay tuned for more character builds coming soon. 

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  • Ran this build for about 25 or so levels and was barely starting to access the special tactics, it was hard work, yet satisfying. Wish I'd held onto him, want to go deeper this time.  How does this samurai heal himself,  with no perks in Restoration or Alchemy? I was brewing low powered potions and using un-perked Healing, but unsure if either is in keeping with the original RP intent. Thanks! 

    • Just buy potions. As you become more proficient with this build you'll seldom need potions. The rp isn't so rigid that the simple crafting you've done is forbidden. So you're doing fine there if that's what you feel you need to do.
  • One of the few builds I’ve seen that makes great use of the Blades armor
  • What do you think about using a shield for the single-blade stance and replacing the bash perks with the shield perks?
    • Aesthetically I feel the shield is a no-go. But I have been meaning to update the perkspread to include block runner. This build was released before I fully realized the value of that perk in melee builds.
    • I changed up the perkspread to reflect the addition of block runner. 

  • Yo Curse, your build title is gone

    • Its fixed. Thanks for the heads up. 

  • Posted a quick gameplay video. As always lemme know what you think. 

This reply was deleted.