Character Build: The Selenu Vampire


The Selenu Vampire

The old “insert a TES vampire clan into Skyrim” is a concept that's been done in a variety of builds, and this build does the exact same thing with Selenu. So why didn't I go with a more original idea? It has to do with the signature ability of the Selenu bloodline: resistance to elemental attacks. While this may seem like an excuse to post yet another 100% Spell Absorption build, I chose to take it in a different direction by maximizing the individual elemental resistances as well as overall magic resistance. Combined with my desire to try out a shield mage build, this was the result.

Race: The Selenu make their home in Hammerfell, so that would point towards Redguard as the race of choice, but for the sake of maximizing elemental resistance, I went with Dunmer for their fire resistance which is crucial here for negating a vampire’s fire weakness. Their +10 to Destruction and starting Sparks spell are also of use to the Selenu.

Stone: The Lord’s AR boost is great for making the Selenu tankier, while the magic resistance boost lets us hit the cap.

Stats: 1/3/0. Spellcost reduction enchantments will help to keep magicka usage down, so you’ll want to invest more in health for better tanking in combat. Stamina isn’t needed unless you want the extra carrying capacity.

Shouts: Slow Time is great for casting a barrage of spells all at once, so pick that up. You only need a single word for it. Become Ethereal is also useful for casting Fire/Lightning Storm uninterrupted.



Destruction: Unless you want to count shield bashes, this is your one and only means of damage. As such, you’ll want to utilize all the elemental paths, making use of pretty much every spell except Blizzard due to the way it’s glitched. Grab all the perks in this tree.

Block: Wouldn’t be much of a shield mage without a shield, now would it? Grab all of the perks in this tree. Note that until you get Extra Effect, Elemental Protection is a nice perk for compensating for the lack of a second resist enchantment on your equipment.

Enchanting: This is the key skill you’ll need for maximizing your elemental resistances. However, you don’t actually need the Elemental Enchanter perks; just max out Enchanter and work your way up the center to Extra Effect.

Heavy Armor: Along with Block, this skill will enable you to become an absolute juggernaut in combat, shrugging off physical attacks in addition to magical ones. Due to a glitch, Ancient Knowledge (the effect received from Unfathomable Depths) increases your heavy armor rating for all non-Dwarven armors by 25%, so be sure to pick it up.

Restoration: Healing is always nice, as are Vampire-Necromage shenanigans. Perkwise, work your way up to Adept Restoration and grab Regeneration, Necromage, both ranks of Recovery, and Avoid Death as well. Personally, I also got Respite to make long-distance running easier. Also, be sure to clear out Frostflow Lighthouse for a 10% boost to the effectiveness of your healing spells.

You should be at level 60 once the build is completed.



What heavy armor and shield you choose is ultimately up to you; I went with some Falmer Hardened Armor with the Falmer Shield simply because I’ve never used it before, along with some Bone Hawk jewelry. Specific enchantments are as follows:

Shield of the Atronach (Resist Magic/Frost)

Ritual Helm (Destruction/Restoration)

Cursed Necklace (Resist Magic/Fire)

Armor of the Selenu (Destruction/Restoration)

Warding Gauntlets (Magicka/Heavy Armor)

Ring of Omens (Destruction/Resist Shock)

Boots of Resistance (Resist Fire/Shock)

Note that you’ll want to use the more potent version of Resist Magic that’s obtained from disenchanting the Shield of Solitude.


Okay, time for some math. With 100 Enchanting skill, 5/5 Enchanter, and a Grand or Black Soul Gem, a Resist Element enchantment will have an effectiveness of 37% while the Shield of Solitude version of Resist Magic will have 25%. However, the effectiveness of all your enchantments is increased by 25% by virtue of being a vampire with Necromage, turning those aforementioned values into 46% and 31% respectively. The resistance caps are 85% for fire/frost/shock/magic and 100% for disease/poison. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Selenu’s resistances as a level 4 vampire:

Fire: 50 (Dunmer) – 50 (Vampire) + 46 (Necklace) + 46 (Boots) = 92%

Frost: 50 (Vampire) + 46 (Shield) = 96%

Shock: 46 (Ring) + 46 (Boots) = 92%

Magic: 25 (Lord) + 31 (Shield) + 31 (Necklace) = 87%

Disease/Poison: 100% (Vampire)

So what does all this mean in practical terms? Well first off, the Selenu is flat-out immune to both disease and poison. Futhermore, any magic attacks will have their damage reduced by 85% by virtue of Resist Magic, and the remaining 15% will be reduced by another 85% via the relevant resist element enchantments. In total, 97.75% of damage from magical attacks will be negated. Yes, you could just get 100% Spell Absorption and avoid all of this nonsense, but where’s the fun in that? :P

An important note for those without Dawnguard: Being a stage 4 vampire will set your fire weakness and frost resistance at 100% instead of 50%. In practice, all this means is that you’ll need to swap out the resist frost enchantment on the shield with a resist fire enchantment and perk Fire Enchanter in order to hit the Fire Resistance cap.



On the surface, combat strategy with the Selenu seems pretty simple. Use Destruction magic for offense, your shield for defense, and Restoration magic for healing. Upon closer inspection, however, the Selenu is capable of much more.

Firstly, the Selenu is a mage that can and should jump right into the thick of things. This build is a tank more than it is anything else, and can last through any encounter. If you were ever looking for a build that could milk cloak spells for all they’re worth, look no further.

However, the presence of certain mobility perks (such as Conditioning and Block Runner) makes dodging attacks an effective option as well. In particular, activating Quick Reflexes and then sidestepping the power attack is an easy way to avoid damage.

Speaking of Quick Reflexes, if you use Slow Time (only one word needed) right after Quick Reflexes’ slowdown effect ends, Slow Time will last for roughly a minute, way better than using all three words. In previous builds I would use this ability for physical attackers, but with the Selenu it’s quite satisfying to use it to rain an absolute barrage of spells down on your opponent, and with the ability to achieve Destruction spellcost reduction in excess of 90% your magicka reserves will last you throughout Slow Time’s effect. In case you think Slow Time is still not lasting long enough, being a Necromage-Vampire increases its length by 50%!

Shield Charge is a fun little perk, one that grants the Selenu a nice means of crowd control. For those with the Dragonborn DLC, Whirlwind Cloak also works well for this, particularly when dual cast.

Earlier in the game, before you have a ton of skill in Enchanting and lack the benefit of Necromage-Vampire augmented enchantments, running out of magicka is a notable issue for the Selenu. You can fix this via magicka potions, but I recommend doing the College of Winterhold quest early on for the magicka-absorbing goodness of the Staff of Magnus. Even after your Enchanting skill is up and running, it's nice to keep around for absorbing magicka during daytime (since the Selenu has terrible magicka regeneration in sunlight). As far as recharging it goes, you can easily pick up the Black Star and enchant a dagger with one second’s worth of Soul Trap.

Making a shield mage build was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I’m pretty pleased with the overall result. If you liked this, then check out my other builds to see more!

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  • Do you know any vampire clan that hasn't been made into a build? You know, just in case one wanted to make one.
    • They've all been done at some point. I suggest looking at Illiac Bay vampires, they are the most diverse and a few of them are a little tougher to build and so builds could probably be improved upon/reinvented.

    • Nobody's ever gone as far as making up their own vampire clan. That could be interesting.

      There are clans with so little lore behind them that nobody has tried to make them into a build. Really, info is sketchy on even the more well known clans.

      For example the Volkihar clan in lore are described as living in freezing lakes and possessing the ability to literally freeze the blood in their enemies' veins. Yet The volkihar we meet in Skyrim transform into gargoyle like vampire lords.

      Considering this, don't be afraid to change up some aspects of your chosen clan.
    • I believe the Anthotis and Telboth are the only ones left.

      • Or sounds like you have two builds left to make.
  • I was just thinking about a shield mage build the other day. Well done, Albino.

    • Thanks!

  • Beautiful build Albino - and you hit Rank:Apprentice!

  • Great build  however you can play this as a redguard    with the racial tweaks  redguard   mod    it gives a 50% fire   resist and 50%poison  resist plus other extra passive  powers  extra damage to dwemer machines  and ones you can use    by activating   them <bound sword>   the mod ring of the cursed sun is great for   ANY vampyre   build  as it fends of the negative  effects    of the daylight   i also recommend the  perk tree  overhaul   mod    

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