Basically, I wanted to create a character who didn't use magic, but one who's inability to use magic defined him as a person and ran through his entire playstyle and life. So, I thought the Squibs and their affliction, from the Harry Potter universe, was a fitting name. This is another character I've played a thousand times over, so if I forget to mention something important just let me know.
‡‡ THE SQUIB ‡‡
I am the youngest in a long line of powerful wizards. My father and now my brother, are the court mages, my sister being the official conjurer, and my mother a battlemage and war hero. I could go on through generations of such power and prestige. The family name is synonymous with magical excellence, and now it is time for my Searching. Everyone in my family has gone on a Searching before, my brother to Hammerfell, my sister to Valenwood, and now I’m to go to Skyrim to find my true magical potential, the branch of magic I will devote my life to, to live and serve our city with for all my days. But I am sent to a war-torn, barbarian-infested, soiled, violent land and something tells me this isn’t a coincidence. Why, you may ask? Why would a son wonder if his family wished to murder him?
I have no magical talent. And it’s not by lack of trying or studying. I am the pre-eminent scholar on Destruction theory and can Enchant circles around you to summon a dremora from the pits of Coldharbour itself. I just need a cheat sheet. By that, I mean a Scroll of Summon Dremora.
Every spirit on Nirn has some connection to the land of Aetherius, where all magic originates, but the Squib cannot access this potential. The Squib is a person born without any magical potential, and in a world where even the stoutest Nordic axe-wielder feels the mana drain from him with shock magic, the son of a master wizard who can’t even light a candle without the use of a match is an atrocious shame. However, with his lack of magical talent, he had a lot of time to learn how to fake it, honing his Enchanting and Alchemy skills, which are the offence, defence, and escape plan of the Squib. His interest in ancient cultures has granted him familiarity with the Dwemer crossbow and the ancient Khajiiti battle-style of Knife Magics. This has a much more casual and laid-back playstyle than I normally have.
Stat Spread : 1/1, you need a lot of health and stamina for running away and carrying all our gadgets and gizmos
Standing Stone : Warrior/Thief/Mage -> Lord/Powered Atronch and the Serpent
Quests : Lost to the Ages, College of Winterhold, Black Star, Trials of Kagrumez, Unearthed, Unfathomable Depths, Discerning the Mundane (any of the paths), Tel Mithryn Quests, Dawnguard
Alchemy : Making great use of it to fake magical talent, the Squib has become very familiar with alchemical processes and wishes to apply his knowledge to the flora and fungi of Skyrim.
Enchanting : While this skill made him famous in back home, nearly making up for his lack of innate magic, the Squib had difficulties even with Enchanting. We can level this mainly through using our enchanted armory and the Black Star to recharge.
Destruction : Though studying it hasn’t allowed the Squib to cast any of its spells, his knowledge of the school allows him to enhance his enchantments and staffs beyond that of the layman.
Speech : As part of high society, the Squib was taught how to maneuver conversation and flatter the right people into ignoring his disability. In Skyrim, however, his knowledge is less useful on the bandit population.
Secondary. No perks are taken, but these skills are used quite a lot and are instead augmented by Enchanting/Alchemy.
Archery : Taking up the Dwemer weapon of the crossbow, the Squib manages to take out the local wolf population. I only took Eagle Eye and one level of Steady Hand at later levels.
One-Handed : Even though he is spell-less, the Squib can allow his skill in Enchanting to carry over into a small arsenal of knives to swing wildly at the fearsome Draugr, even if he is more familiar with the use of the knife and fork.
Sneak : As a tactical and wary individual, the Squib has learned to use his skills to scout out his enemies. Besides, charging in, staffs blazing, is hardly a pleasant way to die.
And lots of it. At my height, I carried 9 staffs, 7 daggers, around 40 spider scrolls, a plethora of normal scrolls, far too many potions, and a crossbow. These substitute for our spells, so be prepared for a heavy haul.
Crossbow : This is simply how the Squib deals damage. He’s physically quite weak (even if he can carry all this stuff), and using a crossbow is more like shooting a gun. For anyone who’s actually strung a bow, it’s damn hard. You need some serious strength to work a longbow. The Squib has the strength to point a dagger and shoot/string a crossbow. So, we need some hardcore enchants on it. I went for Chaos Damage and later added Absorb Health. And then there’s the exploding elemental bolts, which are quite nasty, and I tempered the crossbow using Smithing Potions and a perk or two invested in the tree for some hefty damage boosting.
Scrolls : While you level Alchemy and Enchanting, you’ll net a fair bit of gold, enough so that you can look up the court wizards and merchants for any scrolls and buy them without a thought. Some of these are very useful (Soul Trap, Fire Storm, Blizzard, Guardian Circle) others are less useful (reanimate scrolls, Restoration). I’ve also found a “bug” where using a Blizzard scroll can level your Destruction skill, but no other scrolls I’ve found can. Also, make a habit of buying and learning spellbooks you want staffs of; we’ll make staffs of them in Tel Mithryn.
Potions : Though quite heavy (as is every item in our Batman utility belt), there are three main types of potions that we will need in droves. Restore Health, Invisibility, and Fortify Destruction, as well as Fortify Enchanting/Smithing potions for crafting and poisons, but with the Hearthfire house in Morthal, we’ll be stocked with River Betty. The ones I used most commonly were:
Restore Health/Fortify Health: Wheat + Blue Mountain Flower
Invisibility/Regenerate Health: Luna Moth Wing + Vampire Dust
Fortify Destruction: Ash Creep Cluster + Glowing Mushroom
Fortify Enchanting: Snowberries + Blue Butterfly Wing
Fortify Smithing: Blisterwort + Glowing Mushroom
Spider Scrolls : White Ridge Barrow on Solstheim has an imbuing chamber in it, allowing us to create spider scrolls, which are just as disgusting and awesome as they sound. While you quest on Solstheim, be sure to pick up all “spider pods” you find and keep any gemstones. The scrolls are quite powerful, if rare, and the spiders level with you, making them more durable, even at higher levels. The most useful varieties of the spider scrolls are the cloaked ones (cloaked in their element, they huddle around an enemy, doing damage and distracting it), mind control (any enemy you throw it on will fight for you for 30sec, with no level cap), and exploding (sort of like exploding spider grenades of elemental boom). Using a flawless gem will double the output, but you need to wait for the spider pods to respawn from the different dungeons (10 to 30 days) to make a new batch, so try to get as many as you can. Abusing the wait function is acceptable.
Cloaked: Albino Spider Pod + Ruby (Fire) / Amethyst (Shock) / Sapphire (Frost) / Emerald (Poison)
Mind Control: Albino Spider Pod + Soul Gem
Exploding: Damaged Albino Spider Pod + Ruby (Fire) / Amethyst (Shock) / Sapphire (Frost) / Emerald (Poison)
Staffs : Whenever you go in the Midden, there is already an Oricalcum Ingot, Fire Salts, and multiple Brooms there for you, but the recipes we need to get our summoning staffs from the Atronach Forge are:
Fire Salts + Corundum Ore/Ingot + Greater/Grand/Black Soul Gem + Broom
Frost Salts + Moonstone Ore/Ingot + Greater/Grand/Black Soul Gem + Broom
Void Salts + Oricalcum Ore/Ingot + Greater/Grand/Black Soul Gem + Broom
These are three of the four primary weapons you’ll use for the entire playthrough. The fourth staff you need is the Staff of Paralysis, which is guaranteed to be at Snapleg Cave. Paralysis is always a tad OP, so use it sparingly. This, along with any “home enchanted” staffs you can make will be solid for most battles, along with utility ones (Magelight, Reanimate spells). Ensure you have one or two Destruction staffs for big boss fights (the court mage at Riften typically has one Adept-level staff for sale from the get-go) and the Staff of Magnus for dealing with wizards.
Daggers : Any offensive enchantment is useful here. Until you can put two enchantments on one dagger, you’ll be carrying a lot. Iron daggers will work fine, since damage isn’t our concern, unless you find something particularly nice or are sick of looking at them. Remember, our one handed weapons aren’t so much damage-dealing as they are conduits for our spells. They’re also our “Oh shit” weapons, since things that get that close should either be getting the hell away (Fear/Turn/Banish), or get their soul trapped (Fiery Soul Trap), or fall over and die quickly (Paralyze, Absorb Health).
To put it in generic gameplay terms, the Squib is a witch hunter, who uses staffs and crossbows over Conjuration and longbows, but is still lacking armor and flesh spells to defend himself with. The Squib’s main defence is his massive health pool and his ability to escape when the going gets tough through his sneak skill/enchants and invisibility potions, or muffle scrolls when available. He typically strikes from the shadows, lining up his shot, choosing his bolts, poison, elementals, and spiders to suit the fight, or perhaps he wishes to raise a corpse? Though not a devoted necromancer, some staffs and perks invested in Conjuration (I personally didn’t, preferring to focus on Destruction, training one skill rather than two) will allow him to raise some serious undead chaos as the perks to raise the level cap of raised corpses do work on staffs.
Do not underestimate the range on the atronach staffs, by the way. You might as well have both Summoner perks for the range it gives you. Using Ahzidal’s Helm of Vision, I believe, allows us to throw our elementals even further. Even with our health pool, we shouldn’t be tanking damage. Leave that to our atronachs, spiders, and the occasional follower. Before you initiate combat find a nice bit of cover and make every shot count. After shooting a crossbow, you move very slowly as you reload, so be sure you can get back under cover while you poison and reload. The spiders are fairly durable and have no time limit, with a high summon count (6 max) and they don’t contribute to our summon limit, so throwing a few out at the start of a dungeon will last us a good long while. If you lose them, feel free to fast travel and they’ll appear beside you (if they’re still alive).
Using staffs for combat is straight-forward, either dual-wielding staffs or with a scroll (spider or paper), and since our main level ups come from Enchanting, Alchemy, Speech, and Destruction training, don’t be worried if your Archery falls behind. Damage output is never the Squib’s concern, Fortify Archery and Chaos Damage have you covered. Gulping a Fortify Destruction potion will improve our staff power massively. A quick and dirty Paralyze/Damage Health shot from the Serpent Stone in the Aetherial Crown will be a nice last ditch defense. Defensively, the Lord Stone can help with AR, but a powered Atronach Stone will provide complete magical immunity and since no magicka regeneration is no biggie, this will be the ultimate defense against mages. It all depends on what you find most useful.
Combat is fairly simple and you should rarely have a time when you don’t know what to do. If enemies get too close, we have daggers to kill them off or fear them away, and if you’re completely overwhelmed, using some absolute stealth (muffle scrolls/enchant + invisibility) should get us to safety. This character isn’t questing for honour or glory, but mainly for his own pursuits of knowledge. Feel free to show a healthy amount of cowardice. Fleeing is a natural response to seeing Bandit Overlords of Doom sprinting towards you with greatswords raised. It’s rather amusing to see bandits ask where you are, when you’re invisible, with a horde of neon-coloured spiders circling you.
You can gain access to it without doing Faralda’s trial one of two ways. You can either get Speech to 100 (70 with the Persuasion perk) and then pass the Speech check or you can backtrack through the Midden Dark using this Youtube tutorial. Unlike other dungeon backdooring, this only requires patience and a good parkour skill rather than Whirlwind Sprint. I can confirm that bursting in on Tolfdir’s Lessons will continue the College questline as normal, starting the quest First Lessons and unlocking the door to the bridge, but you won’t have Mirabelle’s tour or free novice robes and hood.
For any time during the College questline that requires spells (fire or ice), staffs will work just fine, but you can’t make Ward staffs. For Toldir’s lessons, you can either just do it and pretend J’zargo was his demonstration (which is what I did) or, which I thought was very funny, the quest will automatically proceed if any of the students die. You can kill one of the students, flee the scene, pay off your bounty and return to College, and Tolfdir will be planing a trip to Sarthaal, now minus one student.
The Squib is someone who has grown up the laughing stock of his city and the disgrace of his family. He’s in Skyrim to find a way to make himself, in his eyes and the eyes of those in wizarding circles, worthy of respect and a place in magical circles where he can be taken seriously. This can include trafficking with Daedra, studying at the infamous College of Winterhold, taking apprenticeship with the mad genius Master Neloth, and even Vampirism (if you so wish). There is no study of magic that the Squib will refuse to learn, if it offers even the slightest hint of being able to give him magical power.
Building a house in Skyrim will also be very beneficial, giving the Squib a chance to show his independence and worth. He can even tend his own garden and fish hatchery in the shadow of Solitude, where he can grow his own alchemical ingredients.
Though content with his history books in his homeland, the Squib now has the opportunity to see real-life Dwemer ruins and ancient Nordic burial sites. Think of him as an amateur archaeologist. He documents everything and wants to learn all about the ancient peoples, through books, the carvings in their tombs, and what they’ve left behind. This includes the Nordic embalming tools, and the random pieces of Dwemer metal—and don’t you dare melt down any of those ancient artifacts! Even the simplest gyro can tell us about the people who made it. Finishing the Trials of Kagrumez is sort of important for the “special friends” you will find in there—the ultimate research experiments. The armor and weaponry of his enemies aren’t particularly interesting, unless they have unusual enchantments, and just take up room that could be used for alchemical ingredients or ancient artifacts, so corpse looting is very specific. Try to explore every ruin, and hunt down those Dragon Priest Masks. Collecting artifacts of power, the Squib keeps them more for their historical value than their abilities. The Squib’s quest for knowledge will even lead him to Apocrypha and the realms of Daedra, where he will claim the artifacts of the Daedric Lords themselves, from the Black Books to the Ring of Hircine.
You can play the Squib with any kind of temperament—is he a destitute loner, a misunderstood genius, a quiet friend, a sharp tongued professional, or a helpful traveller?—and decide on how his lack of magical talent in a magical world has affected him. The important thing is that eventually he accepts his disability and recognises himself as the powerful wizard he has become, and as his “climatic” questline I chose the Dawnguard, to either fight against the horrors of the Volkihar or to join them to take over the world. Under Master Neloth, he learned to be a wizard. In the College, he learned to be a leader. In the Dawnguard, though, the Squib becomes a hero and uses all he learned to actually be considered a worthy hero of Skyrim, rather than just another mage. Also, a few more magical artifacts to add to his collection are never out of order.
In either case, followers can be taken. I’d advice against mage-type followers, since they would mainly remind the Squib of what he can never have. I went with Celann, from the Dawnguard. He’s a solid tank and one of the more “blank” followers, so you can fill in his personality on your own. The Squib could also take a fellow scholar to tag along in his adventures, or even a bard. Sven is nice at low levels and makes an excellent meat shield.
Clothing is usually worn; as just a normal person, he isn’t trained in wearing armor, and I let myself get away with some gauntlets or boots in the more extreme cases (Ebony Gauntlets at Level 12? I’m not giving that up for no man). Also, Fortify Destruction and Conjuration enchantments (which reduce cost) do apply to staffs, giving you more uses with our somewhat mediocre magic skills. In addition to these outfits, I had a full-kit of Fortify Alchemy as well as Fortify Carry Weight (for the more serious dungeon delving) and Fortify Smithing (for our crossbows before enchanting them), and also the Relics of Ahzidal at home for an additional 10pts of Enchanting.
We can pay Faralda for Destruction training with homebrewed potions, which allows us to buff our staff damage even further through perks. The same kind of enchantments are useful on clothing: Fortify Destruction, Conjuration, Archery, Carry Weight, Health, and one solid enchantment of Fortify Sneak/Muffle is necessary to be able to escape, even if we have little need for it at higher levels.
Dragons are never activated, as the Squib is haunted by his involvement at Helgen and wants to distance himself from the fire-breathers as much as possible. He never realises he is the Dragonborn and in possession of a strange, unique kind of magical power. Instead, he comes into himself as a stafflord and a mage to be reckoned with, powerful and famous, with only his wits, cunning and personal talents to bring him there.
At later levels, the Squib takes great pride in his robes of office, becoming a powerful wizard-lord in his own right, the Archmage of the College of Winterhold and a Lawman of Great House Telvanni, the most prominent mage in Skyrim and a member of Morrowind nobility. He has become a proud and noble hero of the land of Skyrim. He can go back to his homeland and hold his head up high. He has fulfilled his personal goal of finding his magical self. His Searching is over.
While these mods aren’t necessary to enjoy the playthrough, I am primarily a PC gamer and used these specific mods to enhance the Squib’s journey.
Spidercraft– makes Spider Scrolls more available by adding a merchant in Skyrim who sells the supplies and stocks the imbuing chamber, also unlocks a few types of spiders that were previously unable to be created, but were still in the base game.
Tel Nalta– allows the custom growth of a Telvanni home in Skyrim, much like it was done in Morrowind; requires investment and patience. This is especially nice if your Squib takes to his Telvanni side.
Scroll Crafting – allows the crafting of scrolls through a new crafting table in the College and another set of Enchanting perks for different levels of scrolls. Makes scrolls much more viable and accessible.