Something I've always thought with the vast majority of the werewolf builds is how the beast Form seriously limits the character's power, such as reducing defensive capability through armor/the lack of a shield, limiting damage dealing with powerful weapons, or quite a few other limitations. With the new werewolf perks in Dawnguard, I wanted to make my kind of 'alternate form' build, where the alternate form perfectly complements the original form. With that, I present:
The Shaper is a powerful magicka user, able to cast a wide variety of spells, as well as take on a fearsome beast form. In humanoid form, he is able to shape the energies of fire, frost and lightning to destroy his foes in all manner of grisly deaths, and summon a full variety of daedra from Oblivion to assist him. He can also mould the minds of others to his will to take control of any situation, and even heal the wounds of himself and others. A powerful mage for sure - but that's not all. When the situation calls for it, the Shaper can transition into a terrifying werewolf form, making him tougher and stronger, wreaking havoc across an already-chaotic battlefield. The power of the Voice further enhances his abilities allowing him to control time itself.
Recommended Race: Altmer. Altmer recieve a whopping 50 extra points of magicka at first level, as well as the powerful Highborn ability.Dunmer, Bretons and Imperials can also make solid choices due to their skill boosts.
Stats: 2/1/0 in Magicka/Health/Stamina. Much of the Shaper's magicka reserves come from his specialised equipment, and a decent health pool is needed to stay alive on higher difficulties.
Stone: The Apprentice. Makes for a very challenging but rewarding playthrough with 100% extra magicka regeneration but double magicka damage to yourself. If you feel you aren't up to the 100% magicka weakness or you just really love the Atronach stone for some reason (ie half the damn site) that also makes a solid choice.
30 Perk Spread: http://skyrimcalculator.com/#198847
Destruction: The Shaper's offensive skill. The Shaper uses all 3 elements, giving him access to a wide array of spells for every situation. Obviously he's able to match the enemies' weaknesses (like using Ice Spike on a Flame Atronach), but other area spells can be very useful as well. Key perks are up at least Adept Destruction, Augmented Flames 2, Disintegrate and Impact.
Conjuration: A sort of both defensive and offensive school of magic, the Shaper can conjure a Daedra from Oblivion to suit the current situation. The 4 different summonable Daedra all have distinctly different purposes, and a good Shaper will use them as such. Key perks are up to Expert Conjuration and all the way up the Atronach line.
Illusion: Shaping the minds of others is another important talent. It's key to turning battles in the Shaper's favor - with low health/armor/magic resistance he's a very flimsy character. This skill along with Conjuration helps to keep enemies off the Shaper's back. Key perks are up to Kindred Mage, Apprentice Illusion, Rage, and Dual Casting. Dual casting ensures you can affect almost any enemy in the game - it multiplies the base magnitude by over 2x, and stacks with the effect-specific perks as well as Animage/Kindred Mage. Aspect of Terror boost your fire damage.
Restoration: Being a flimsy character, the Shaper needs some way to heal himself. Simply Novice Restoration and Regeneration should suffice for healing - a few seconds with it in both hands and you're back to full health. Another useful perk is Recovery to further speed Magicka regeneration.
The Two Forms
As mentioned earlier, the Shaper has two forms - the humanoid form and the werewolf form. As you can see from the skillset, the Werewolf form - high Health and Stamina, granting a powerful melee attack, a pretty decent armor rating, massive speed, and the ability to knockdown enemies with impunity - everything the humanoid form doesn't have.
The humanoid form is capable of taking on anything, but it does have some issues with: Archers, and close quarters. His weaknesses are being surprised in melee, multiple archers, and powerful magical attacks (high level mages, dragons).
The werewolf form excels at taking on all of these things. Once you've gotten the appropriate werewolf perks, you gain an extra 200 Health and Stamina when you transform, and a melee attack to rival the strongest warrior. With the Ring of Hircine, you have unlimited transformations each day (see Equipment below), and can simply change back at the end of combat. However, if you're using the Apprentice Stone magic users are still deadly.
When leveling your werewolf perks, I strongly recommend you go straight for the right side of the tree. Once you get Savage Feeding, you can get hearts (which you need for getting new perks) from any 'living' creature rather than just the player races - this means anything from Giants to Rabbits.The first werewolf shout, 'Howl of Terror' works very well at lower levels, and has virtually no cooldown. If you find yourself getting overrun simply activate it and go feed on some corpses to regain health. Ideally you want to be heading for fully upgrading your Brotherhood shout, where you call two werewolves to your side - even on Master you utterly destroy everything in your path.
The Shaper gives a Bandit a rather unwelcome surprise
Who is the Shaper?
Now you might be wondering why a pure mage became Harbinger of the Companions to get the Totem of Brotherhood. Here's a sample story to get you started. After studying the manipulation of the mind, fire, frost, lightning, flesh, and Oblivion, the Shaper went in search of a new challenge. While helping out cursed werewolf in Falkreath, he discovered the truly awesome power of the beast, and set out to acquire that form for himself. The Crisis at the College of Winterhold offered the Shaper a unique opportunity to hone his skills, as well as the title of Arch-Mage of Winterhold for his efficiency in dealing with the Eye. Only then did he gain full access to the College's Arcaneum, where he searched for some way to become a werewolf himself. Eventually he discovered in an obscure text that the Companions were in fact werewolves themselves. Devising a plan to enter the group of warriors as a magic user, he set off to join them. Their leader, Kodlak, saw something in the Shaper, and Vilkas was shows how the mind is just as mighty a weapon as the sword - a ghostly Bound blade struck him just as hard as any steel would. But his journey through the Companions, and Skyrim itself, was nowhere near its end...
The Shaper's equipment is designed to maximize his magicka and magicka sustainability over a long fight. The Archmage Robes, Morokei, and the Apprentice Stone give the Shaper a 350% Magicka Regeneration boost, and at level 31 with Savos Aren's Amulet the Shaper's base magicka is 450. This means in combat you get back roughly 20 magicka per second. As for boots and gloves, just go with whatever you like really. There's no really suitable enchanted gauntlets to go with, but for boots elemental resistance is a strong choices. The Ring of Hircine is key to this build - if you re-equip the ring after each transformation, you have unlimited transformations each day (note to use the Ring of Hircine power rather than the Beast Form power!).
Even in humanoid form, the Shaper is not to be trifled with
With the use of so many different spells I thought this build deserved a spellcasting section. The first thing you should do is assess the kind of enemy you're fighting and then environment.
Against fast enemies, such as bears, other werewolves, or any enemy that prefers to close on you quickly and use melee attacks, frost should be your go-to element. A Frost Atronach provides a big obstacle between you and your enemy, and his staggering attacks and slowing aura seriously hinder your enemy. A Wall of Frost between you and them can slow them to a crawl if done properly, and otherwise staggering them with dual-casting will help you take them down before they reach you.
Against defensive enemies, such as humanoids with shields, are mages spamming wards, use something to nullify their defense. Magic ignores armor and shields, so bring out a Flame Atronach and spam Firebolt. Melee more or less ignores wards, so bring out a Frost Atronach or Dremora Lord to stagger them and break their ward.
Against offensive enemies, you want to try and avoid getting hit. Spam dual-cast attacks to keep them staggered, and summon a Frost Atronach to hide behind. Depending on the type of enemy, you could also use a Dremora Lord to keep them company while you attack from range. Basically the objective is to avoid getting hit, and kill them as fast as possible - the first one having priority! If you're in a group situation, try casting Fury on them so that they attack enemies instead.
Against airborne enemies like Dragons, conjure a Flame or Storm Atronach to hit them while they're flying. The Storm Atronach always hits, but the Flame Atronach might be a better choice against Frost dragons due to their 50% weakness to Fire. When they land/hover, line it up and hit them with your stongest single target spell - dual cast Incinerate is incredibly powerful vs frost dragons. You've only got a short time before they take off so make sure to make it count. While they're flying around you could try hit them with lightning spells if you're confident.
Against groups, just try and get them into 1 place and hit them with the most powerful AoE spells you have. Fury works well, or send in a summon before you so they all converge on it!
Novice - Extreme Focus
Requires: Become Ethereal or Slow Time, Altmer
The Shaper alters the fabric of time and space itself, granting some room to regain his magicka. Your magicka regenerates at normal speed while in slow time - depending on the situation one shout might be more beneficial.
Apprentice - Deadly Barrage
Requires: Slow Time, Apprentice Destruction or higher
There's an enemy at long range, unaware of your presence. He's a tough one too. Shouting all words of Slow Time, the Shaper is able to unleash a devastating volley of spells, slaying him in seconds. This works well with Firebolt, and at later levels Ice Storm can be absolutely devastating.
This barrage of Firebolts is sure to seriously wound this Mammoth
Apprentice - Rapid Transformation
Requires: Slow Time, Beast Form
Activating level 3 Slow Time and then Beast Form allows you to transform almost instantly in real time. This is very useful when thrust into a situation you weren't expecting or you're simply stuck in a tight spot.
Adept - Terror Pin
Requires: Conjure Frost Atronach, Fear
You've found an enemy boss sleeping, and he's just starting to wake up. He's a fearsome fighting, but you've got a plan. Cast fear on the enemy, then summon a giant Frost Atronach to pin him between the Atronach, the bed, and the wall. He can't fight back - you can slay him easily. If you've got wall spells, throw them down - it increases the damage significantly.
Adept - Arcane Wolfpack
Requires: Beast Form, Disintegrate, Lightning Cloak, Totem of the Moon
This powerful ability allows the Shaper in werewolf form great power. Dual-Cast Lightning Cloak (this doubles the range), bring out a summon of choice, and activate Beast Form. As soon as the transformation is complete, use your werewolf shout, calling 2 more werewolves to your aid. You've now got a posse of yourself and up to 6 allies. In addition, your Lightning Cloak will disintegrate everything within 5m of you below 15% health - a truly devastating combination.
Expert - Elemental Field
Requires: All wall spells
Got a corridor enemies are going to come through? Got an enemy sitting still? Got a big group fight? Then throw down each of 3 walls onto the ground. While wall spells do little damage individually, over extended periods all 3 at once are a force to be reckoned with. If you like, dual cast to increase the duration.
Overall this has been a very fun playthrough for me, playing both a pure mage and a serious werewolf - both things I've never done before (shock horror!). The final result is incredibly powerful, as each form has a very narrow focus. I recommend you play this one on Master! Thanks for reading everyone!
The Shaper and his Flame Atronach work together to take down a Dwarven Centurion