Skyrim allows players to choose their character’s race, sex, and appearance at the start of the game. Unlike other Elder Scroll games, there aren’t Birthsigns available in Skyrim.
However, players can still use a combination of skills and gear for interesting and fun character builds.
For example, having a character use only magic spells or melee weapons are good ways to play Skyrim since it will force you to find creative solutions within these limitations.
What are the best and most fun build in Skyrim? This will depend on your preferred play style.
Playing as a Vampire Lord or werewolf offers the most unconventional builds in Skyrim due to their unique transformations.
If you’re more interested in Skyrim’s melee-based combat, playing as a berserk tank or dual-wielding warrior are the best options.
For players looking for magic-based character builds, the best option in Skyrim is playing as a Destruction mage or necromancer.
|Build||Race||Main Skills||Unique Items||Shouts||Standing Stone|
|Shrouded Armor set|
Blade Of Woe
|The Thief or Shadow stone|
|Berserk Tank||Orc||Heavy Armor|
|Marked for Death|
|The Lord Stone|
|The Forgemaster’s Fingers|
Silver-Blood Family Ring
|The Lady or Warrior Stone|
|Destruction Mage||Dark Elf|
Nahkriin Dragon Priest mask
|The Atronach or Apprentice Stone|
|Forsworn armor set|
Ring of Hircine
|The Mage or Lover Stone|
|Gauldur Amulet||Elemental Fury||The Lord Stone|
|Amulet of Akatosh||Soul Tear||The Ritual or Mage Stone|
|Pacifist||Any||Speech||Saarthal Amulet||Animal Whisper|
|The Lover or Serpent Stone|
|Scholar||High Elf||Enchanting, Alchemy||Arch Mage’s set||Kyne’s Peace Disarm||The Lady Stone|
|Dawnbreaker Morokei Dragon Priest mask|
Ancient Shrouded Armor set or Ebony Mail
|The Lover or Lord Stone|
|Stealth Archer||Wood Elf||Archery|
|Boots of Muffling|
Dark Brotherhood armor set
|The Shadow or Thief Stone|
|Thieves Guild set||Dismay||The Thief Stone|
|Heavy Armor||Fortify Unarmed gear||Marked for Death||The Lady or Steed Stone|
|Vampire||Dark Elf||Vampire skill tree|
|Amulet of Bats|
Amulet of The Gargoyle
Ring of The Beast
Ring of the Erudite
|The Lady Stone|
|Werewolf||Any||Werewolf skill tree||Ring of Hircine||Marked for Death|
|The Lord Stone|
15. Stealth Archer
- Race: Wood Elf
- Main Skills: Archery, Sneak, Illusion, Light Armor
- Standing Stone: Shadow or Thief Stone
- Shouts: Slow Time, Become Ethereal
- Suggested Gear: Boots of Muffling, Kyne’s Token, Dark Brotherhood armor set, Gauntlets of the Old Gods
Arguably, becoming a stealth archer or sniper in Skyrim is one of the most common and popular builds. Its biggest advantages come from damage multipliers and avoiding direct enemy contact, making it an efficient and easy build for novice and veteran players alike.
A Wood Elf offers the best starting skills for building the best stealth archer in Skyrim since it starts with +10 points for Archery and +5 in Light Armor and Sneak.
When it comes to choosing a Standing Stone, the Thief stone will boost Archery and Sneak’s XP gain by 20%, which is ideal for quickly leveling up early and mid-game.
Any special gear should help you increase Archery’s damage or Sneak abilities. The best armor set in the game for this build is the Ancient Shrouded Armor, obtainable by completing the Dark Brotherhood quest line.
Choosing the best bow and arrows for your character will depend on whether you prioritize speed or damage. Some of the unique Skyrim bows’ stats will depend on your character’s level, so make sure to leave better weapons like Auriel’s Bow or Nightingale Bow for later.
Alternatively, the player can also add a magic twist into the build with Illusion spells, like Muffle and Calm.
14. Unarmed Combat
- Race: Khajit or Argonian
- Main Skills: Heavy Armor, Alchemy, Enchanting
- Standing Stone: The Lady or Steed Stone
- Shouts: Marked for Death
- Suggested Gear: Fortify Unarmed gear
If you’re looking for a challenging offensive build, forfeiting any weapons in favor of punching may offer an interesting option.
Playing as an unarmed combatant in Skyrim will get more difficult as the game progresses since there are very few ways to increase your punches’ damage to pair with the enemy leveling.
But even if the game doesn’t offer as many options for hand-to-hand combat compared to Oblivion or Morrowind, there are ways to make unarmed attacks an interesting option.
The best starting race for an unarmed build is the Khajit for their claw’s bonus damage to unarmed attacks. Another alternative is starting as an Argonian since they also start with a similar bonus.
Regardless of your character’s race, you should use Heavy Armor to unlock the Fists of Steel perk. This will increase the damage output when wearing gauntlets, which will scale as you use heavy gauntlets with higher base stats.
Contrary to popular belief, the perk only considers the base armor value, so any improved gear won’t increase your damage.
If you decide to invest in Enchantment, you can learn the Fortify Unarmed spell and apply it to pair of gauntlets and a ring to maximize its effect.
The only item available in vanilla Skyrim with this effect is the Gloves of Pugilist, found in the Ratway beneath Riften. But if you have the Anniversary Upgrade, you can now obtain the Fearsome Fists or the Fists of Randagulf with similar enchantments.
- Race: Khajiit or Argonian
- Main Skills: Pickpocketing, Sneak, Lockpicking
- Standing Stone: The Thief Stone
- Shouts: Dismay
- Suggested Gear: Master Guild’s armor set, Voskygge Dragon Priest mask, Blackguard’s armor set
The thief build is a fun way to roleplay in Skyrim, which you can complement by completing the Thieves Guild’s quest line in parallel to committing several crimes without getting detected.
Khajits and Argonians offer the best stats for a thief in Skyrim. Khajits have starting skill boosts in Sneak, Lockpicking, and Pickpocket, which, combined with their Night Vision active power, offer a strong base for a thief in Skyrim.
When choosing Argonian, they also start with similar skill boosts and can become essentially invincible when activating Histskin.
Next, the priority in this build is to increase all skills benefited from the Thief Stone. These skills are Alchemy, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak, and Speech. You can also complement your build with Smithing and Enchanting for improving your armor and weapons.
Leveling up Alchemy to create Potions of Fortify Sneak and Lockpicking can be a great way to increase your chances of successfully infiltrating off-limits areas. During the early game, you can stack up on Ashen Grass Pod, Namira’s Rot, and Purple Mountain Flower for this purpose.
Your character should always wear Light Armor to provide maximum mobility. The Thieves Guild’s armor set would be the most obvious choice for early, which you can unlock just by joining the faction. Then, upgrade to the Guild Master’s armor set once you complete their quest line.
- Race: Imperial or Nord
- Main Skills: One-Handed, Destruction, Restoration, Illusion
- Standing Stone: The Lover or Lord Stone
- Shouts: Slow Time, Storm Call, Disarm
- Suggested Gear: Dawnbreaker, Morokei Dragon Priest mask, Ancient Shrouded Armor set, or Ebony Mail
A spellsword combines melee and magic damage, offering a diverse approach to combat. Therefore, you can go different routes when playing this character build in Skyrim.
The spellsword build’s primary choice is one-handed weapons, with the other hand equipped with Destruction spells for additional damage or Restoration spells to recover health during battle. Spellsword characters can also rely on Bound Sword as a replacement for a physical weapon.
All playable races start with Flames and Healing, so it’s easier to level up Destruction and Restoration as soon as you begin the actual gameplay. However, the Imperial or Nord races have a strong base of skill boosts in combat and magic to create a flexible build.
A spellsword can use Light Armor to focus on sneaking upon its enemies. If you go with the sneak approach, you should use the Ancient Shrouded Armor. This set is obtained by completing the Dark Brotherhood’s side quest called Locate the Assassin Of Old.
In contrast, there is another variation of this build where you prioritize Heavy Armor to increase physical resistance during direct combat. The Ebony Mail will deal additional damage when in proximity to enemies, making it a powerful option for heavy armor users.
- Race: Orc
- Main Skills: Smithing, Alchemy, Enchanting, Speech
- Standing Stone: The Lady or Warrior Stone
- Shouts: Elemental Fury, Unrelenting Force
- Suggested Gear: The Forgemaster’s Fingers, Silver-Blood Family Ring
The following Skyrim build is less focused on combat and instead focuses on the crafting mechanics in the game for roleplaying purposes.
You can play as a craftsman by leveling up Smithing and Enchantment, complemented by Alchemy, so that you can sell your items and gain gold for purchasing a homestead.
Orcs have bonus skill points in Enchanting and Smithing, meaning that you can boost your gear’s values and tweak the necessary enchantments you may need for your adventures. Other playable races to consider are Redguards and Nords.
Since crafting items is the main purpose of this build, you should know that you can obtain XP points for Smithing by crafting items at a forge or improving items at workbenches or grindstones. Smelting and tanning won’t give skill increases.
Make sure to have the Warrior Stone active and sleep in your own bed to have a total of 30% bonus to skill increases when crafting.
If you want to quickly work on your Smithing skill, you can go to Whiterun and use the Warmaiden’s equipment for crafting and sell it to Adrianne Avenicci or Ulfberth War-Bear.
- Race: Dark Elf or Breton
- Main Skills: Conjuration, Destruction, Enchanting
- Standing Stone: The Ritual or Mage Stone
- Shouts: Soul Tear
- Suggested Gear: Vokun Dragon Priest mask, Necromancer Amulet, or Amulet of Akatosh
A necromancer will reanimate enemies and summon companions for battle and can either go full-on magic spells or combine with one-handed weapons.
Necromancers will highly depend on Conjuration spells for reanimating corpses or focus on Atronachs as a secondary option. While you will mostly rely on your thralls to deal damage, you should also consider using ice Destruction spells to slow down enemies and drain their stamina.
Alternatively, when battling against enemy casters, you can switch to lighting spells to decrease their Magicka available. The necromancer can also rely on the Illusion skill tree to use Frenzy to kill enemies without sacrificing your minions.
You can complement with a Raise Zombie staff to save on Magicka and increase your army’s numbers. Regardless of this, necromancers should have a backup option if they choose to engage in melee combat.
Choosing a Dark Elf for this build makes sense if you consider their skill boosts focused on magic and the Ancestral Wrath active power. Another alternative is to create a Breton character to build up in Magicka resistance, thanks to its passive perk.
- Race: Wood Elf
- Main Skills: Archery, Sneak, Alchemy, Alteration
- Standing Stone: The Mage or Lover Stone
- Shouts: Aura Whisper, Kyne’s Peace, Become Ethereal
- Suggested Gear: Forsworn armor set, Ring of Hircine
Druids are priests with strong connections to nature and magic in most fantasy worlds. In Skyrim, you can still create your character following this classic archetype, especially if you’re into the roleplaying aspects of a druid.
Wood Elves have the Command Animals active perk, allowing you to befriend an animal and turn it into an ally once per in-game day. Since this build will focus on natural elements, this also means leveling up Sneak and Alchemy, and a Wood Elf starts with a +5 skill bonus in these, plus +10 in Archery.
Playing as a druid in Skyrim gives you extra freedom to pursue magic skill trees and traditional weapons alike. Forsworn or Fur Armor is the best option for roleplaying purposes, and ideally, your character will use Forsworn weapons like one-handed or bow.
With your talent for Alchemy, you can either craft poisons to make your ranged damage even more lethal or create potions to enhance skills like Sneak or Alteration. Alternatively, use Alteration skills like Oakflesh or Ward to increase your defense.
Thanks to their connection to nature, you can follow the Companions quest line to unlock lycanthropy and complement your battle style with the werewolf transformation. Here, using the Ring of Hircine to transform at will is vital to make it a more viable playstyle.
8. Destruction Mage
- Race: Dark Elf or Breton
- Main Skills: Destruction, Enchanting, Alchemy, Restoration
- Standing Stone: The Atronach or Apprentice Stone
- Shouts: Frost Breath, Fire Breath
- Suggested Gear: Archmage’s Robes, Nahkriin Dragon Priest mask
Magic-only character builds in Skyrim offer a wide variety of possibilities to add your playstyle preferences. In this case, you can become a mage where you only use Destruction spells as your main attack.
For a pure mage build, you have several race options to choose from. For instance, you can use a Dark Elf for a skill boost in Destruction and to have the Ancestral Wrath active power, inflicting fire damage to nearby enemies once per in-day game.
Another alternative is Bretons since they offer the perfect slate to build magic resistance and Destruction proficiency. As an extra, Dragonskin would allow you to drain 50 percent Magicka from enemy spells for 60 seconds once per in-game day.
Destruction spells will be your main offensive option, but you should also complement with Alteration or Illusion for additional defense and buffs. If you level up in Alchemy, don’t forget to craft potions to reinforce your stats before combat.
Robes are good for roleplaying purposes, but they offer no armor value and can make some battles more difficult to manage. Instead, you can use light armor sets with enchantments for Fortify Magicka Regen or Fortify Destruction.
Another option for gear is going through the College of Winterhold quest line since it will offer a good variety of unique items for your build. For example, you can obtain the Archmage’s Robes to make all spells 15% cheaper to cast and add important boosts to Magicka and Magicka regen.
But one of the most powerful options is the Nahkriin Dragon Priest mask, obtained by slaying the dragon priest guarding the entrance to Sovngarde. Not only does it increase Magicka by 50 points, but it also makes Destruction and Restoration spells 20% cheaper to cast.
7. Berserk Tank
- Race: Orc
- Main Skills: Heavy Armor, Two-Handed, Blocking, Smithing
- Standing Stone: The Lord Stone
- Shouts: Marked for Death, Elemental Fury
- Suggested Gear: Gauldur Amulet, Auriel’s Shield, Ebony Mail
If you want to maximize damage and defense for melee combat, playing a tank build is an extremely attractive option for players in Skyrim. You can choose a combination of a one-handed weapon with a shield or just use a two-handed weapon, it all depends on your playstyle choice.
The Orc’s ability to reduce damage taken by half and inflict double the amount of damage to enemies once per day is an incredibly powerful tool for this build.
In the Elder Scrolls’ lore, Orcs have always been regarded as warriors and smithers, meaning that their skill bonuses focus on Heavy Armor, Block, Two-Handed, One-Handed, Enchanting, and Smithing.
Looking at the gear and weapons available, Daedric Artifacts like Auriel’s Shield, Dawnbreaker, and the Ebony Mail can offer a strong basis to deal with enemies at close range.
Investing in Smithing and Enchanting will help a lot in improving damage and defense to deal with more difficult enemies late-game. Leveling up Smithing will also help you unlock higher-level gear like Daedric armor without having to loot enemies or chests.
If you’re invested in the roleplaying aspect, using the Ebony Mail or crafting your own Orcish armor are also valid and interesting options to consider.
- Race: Any
- Main Skills: Speech, Illusion
- Standing Stone: The Lover or Serpent Stone
- Shouts: Animal Whisper, Become Ethereal, Disarm, Kyne’s Peace
- Suggested Gear: Clothing, Saarthal Amulet
Playing as a pacifist in Skyrim is a radical change compared to most character builds. Not killing enemies forces you to think outside the box and focus on other ideas, items, and goals.
There are two ways to tackle a pacifist run, depending on how much difficulty you’d like to impose on yourself. An easier way to tackle this is by avoiding direct kills, whether by using followers or placing rune traps.
Note that follower kills will also count towards your personal count, so if you want to go full pacifist, you need to rely on Sneak, Illusion, and Alteration spells to get by.
It’s your choice to see what playable race you’ll pick for this build. However, the Imperial race has The Voice of Emperor active perk to help you calm down human enemies for 60 seconds once per in-game day.
When choosing your gear, there are unique armor sets like Cicero’s Outfit that can give you better Sneak stats, better prices, and muffled steps. Alternatively, you can choose to wear items increasing your Magicka points or decrease the cost of Illusion or Alteration spells.
- Race: High Elf
- Main Skills: Conjuration, Alteration, Speech, Enchanting, Alchemy
- Standing Stone: The Lady Stone
- Shouts: Kyne’s Peace, Disarm
- Suggested Gear: Arch Mage’s set
The following Skyrim character build will not focus on combat but rather demands you to explore and roleplay as a scholar. For this purpose, you should focus on magic skill trees like Conjuration and Alteration, with the possibility to expand into other areas of knowledge like Enchanting or Alchemy.
High Elves is the best playable race if you’re interested in playing as a scholar, especially since this build tends to lean a lot into magic use. They start with 50 extra points in Magicka, and their High Born active power increases their Magicka regeneration for 60 seconds, once per in-game day.
If you’re interested in roleplaying as a scholar, you can use spells as your primary way to defend yourself and have a backup one-handed weapon in case of emergency.
Otherwise, you can use Conjuration spells to summon atronachs or raise zombies in combination with Alteration spells for defense and buffs. You may also level up Sneak to avoid direct conflict with enemies.
For a scholar character build, it’s highly recommended to complete the Hermaeus Mora quest line and obtain the Black Books located around Solstheim. Not only does this go in line with the build’s spirit, but you also unlock useful perks for your adventures.
Another thing to consider is that you can complete the College of Bards or College of Winterhold quest lines, depending on your preferences.
4. Dual Wielding
- Race: Redguard
- Main Skills: One-Handed, Light Armor, Alchemy
- Standing Stone: The Lord Stone
- Shouts: Elemental Fury, Slow Time
- Suggested Gear: Gauldur Amulet
Dual-wielding in Skyrim will give you the perfect opportunity to go full offense on your enemies at the expense of blocking. Here, it’s vital to use the Elemental Fury shout and quick weapons like swords to have a high damage output to overcome enemies easily.
Creating a character build based on dual-wielding weapons will demand a lot of Stamina sustenance to deal enough damage to enemies.
Redguards can rely on Adrenaline Rush when attacking with melee weapons and have the ideal skill boosts to improve One-Handed and Light Armor from the start.
The second-best option would be Orcs, thanks to their Berserk Rage active power, which can come in handy when overwhelmed in battle.
One of the potential disadvantages of playing with dual weapons is the lack of blocking, especially if the player prefers a more defensive approach to battle. An alternative to this is leveling up Heavy Armor, and unlocking its perks will offer more defense at the expense of movement.
Dual-wield attacks will cost you Stamina to execute, so increasing Stamina and Stamina Regeneration with your armor is super important. For your weapons, enchant both with Fortify One-Handed or Chaos Enchantment to deal extra damage.
- Race: Khajit
- Main Skills: Sneak, One-Handed, Light Armor, Archery
- Standing Stone: The Thief or Shadow stone
- Shouts: Aura Whisper, Slow Time
- Additional Gear: Dark Brotherhood’s Shrouded Armor set, Blade Of Woe, or Dragonbone dagger
Stabbing from behind is a fun and effective way in Skyrim to eliminate your enemies. The assassin archetype heavily depends on not getting detected by the enemies before and after striking, so it shares a lot of similarities with thief builds.
If you want to play as an assassin in Skyrim, choosing a Khajit lays down a good template to improve on Sneak and One-Handed from the start. Night Vision can help to navigate dark areas, with the additional advantage that it’s one of the few active powers that you can activate several times per day.
You can choose to support your character build with magic. For an assassin in Skyrim, Invisibility, Muffle, and Frenzy spells will help divert attention and escape without getting detected. In this scenario, you should spend some perks in Alteration and Illusion to cast these spells with lower Magicka.
Playing as an assassin in Skyrim requires you to complete the Dark Brotherhood questline since they offer a unique variant of their armor set that will boost crucial skills. For this, leveling up Light Armor will also help maximize the benefits from the Shrouded Armor set.
The Blade of Woe or Dragonbone dagger is a great option for taking full advantage of the build, especially when allocating perks to increase damage multipliers from sneak attacks.
Both weapons have similar base attack values, meaning that you can choose to complete the Dark Brotherhood questline or level up Smithing to craft your dragger. However, the latter option offers more liberty to enchant with more powerful enchantments, like Paralysis or Chaos Enchantment.
- Race: Any
- Main Skills: Werewolf skill tree
- Standing Stone: The Lord Stone
- Shouts: Marked for Death, Unrelenting Force
- Additional Gear: Ring of Hircine
Lycanthropy gives the opportunity for an interesting build based on the werewolf transformation. The following character build will try to focus more on the perks and weaknesses you may encounter as a werewolf in Skyrim. It’s a fun and challenging way to play since it abandons traditional weapons in favor of powerful melee attacks.
Playing as a werewolf is perfect for an unconventional melee playstyle, combined with the powerful perks included in the transformation. You will need to join the Companions and complete their quest line until you’re accepted into their inner circle.
If you’re interested in your character’s skill trees, leveling up Smithing, One-Handed, Block, and Heavy Armor can be good ways to roleplay as part of the Companions. Optionally, leveling up other skill trees in human form can help with non-combat situations, like Alchemy or Enchanting.
While Redguards and Orcs start with skill boosts in these categories, the werewolf build can suit any playable race.
Since devouring bodies will increase the transformation’s power and unlock new perks, it’s essential to travel to Frostmoon Crag so that you can unlock Ring of Hircine and unlock the option to transform at will. Note that guards will immediately turn hostile if you turn into your beast mode in public.
1. Vampire Lord
- Race: Dark Elf
- Main Skills: Vampire skill tree, Illusion, Sneak
- Standing Stone: The Lady Stone
- Shouts: Aura Whisper, Dismay
- Additional Gear: Amulet of Bats, Amulet of The Gargoyle, Ring of The Beast, Ring of the Erudite
Playing as a Vampire Lord is one of the most unique and fun ways to play Skyrim, given the unconventional way to battle enemies and interact with other NPCs during your adventures.
You can contract vampirism from battling against other vampires, but only by siding with Lord Harkon in the Dawnguard DLC will let you turn into a Vampire Lord. This also means you get to access a variety of unique items that will grant extra perks and disadvantages to your character.
Playing as a Dark Elf will add a 50% fire resistance boost that will help combat the vampire’s inherent weakness to fire. Otherwise, you can choose any playable race if that fits your role-playing story better.
Outside of your Vampire Lord form, you can level up magic-related skill trees like Illusion and Alteration to defend yourself before transforming. Alternatively, Sneak may add a valuable advantage when attacking enemies without getting detected.
By killing enemies during your transformation, you will gain skill points available to spend in the vampire’s exclusive skill tree. Just like werewolves, transforming in a public place will turn all guards hostile and incur a bounty.
Note that the Lady Stone will grant extra health and stamina regeneration to further increase sustainability during and outside of combat.
Monday 20th of June 2022
What is the armor used in the descrutcion mage build? (If there is a error in my commentary, sorry, my english is very bad)
Monday 20th of June 2022
The armor used in that image is DreamBurrows Regal Huntsman armor (https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/39983)