Skyrim Guide: Best Mage Builds To Use

After waking up on a horse-drawn cart, the player is delivered to their own execution. This is how life starts in Skyrim for new adventurers. The first taste of freedom comes when the guard demands to know who the player is. At this, the view pans around and we get to choose who we will be. There are a lot of options to go through, so allow us to simplify them for any new players among you, or any returning Dragonborn who want to brush up on their knowledge. This is our character creation guide for building a mage in Skyrim Anniversary Edition.

Player’s Choice

Credit: Bethesda

First, some good news. Unlike other RPG’s, Skyrim doesn’t put a huge burden on the player to pick the right choices upfront. Most of the choices you make here, you are stuck with for the game. However, while each race has its traits, no decision you make here rules out certain play styles or gear. Each race has a main skill which starts with ten extra level points, and five sub-skills that grant five points each. Some have passive effects, such as the Nord’s resistance to all things cold and the Argonian natural resistance to poison. These differences are important but needn’t rule out your own personal preference.

If you have a good idea of what kind of character you want to be, there are reasons to choose certain races over others. That’s something we will discuss further in this guide, but it’s worth pointing out that there is no need to stress about your decisions. If you want to take a big muscly Orc and join the thieves guild, go for it! Now, if you have your heart set on being the best mage you can be in Skyrim, here is our guide for you.

Magically inclined

High Elf Mage Guide

Skyrim Mage Guide
Credit: Bethesda

The Altmer, commonly known as High Elves, are by far the most suited to Magicka in Skyrim. All of their bonus stats are magic based. Their number one stat is illusion magic, with the rest of their bonuses distributed between alteration, restoration, destruction, conjuration and enchanting.

High Elves start out with the Fury spell, a powerful and very fun illusion spell that causes the target to attack anyone nearby. Ideal for a mage who needs a distraction to get out of a physical encounter. They naturally have fifty more Magicka and can restore it even quicker with their greater power, Highborne. This multiplies their magic regenerative rate by twenty-five times, turning these mages into spell-casting machines.

Breton Mage Guide

Credit: Bethesda

Bretons are not far behind the Altmer in magical aptitude, they just tend toward different abilities. The number one skill of a Breton is conjuration, with their lesser bonuses going to alchemy, alteration, illusion, restoration and speech. To put this in more general terms, Bretons are closer to druids than pure mages, conjuring up magical beings to fight for them.

Bretons start out with the Familiar spell, which summons a spectral wolf that will fight alongside them. They have an innate fifty per cent resistance to magic damage. Their greater power Dragonskin grants a further twenty-five per cent resistance, as well as a fifty per cent absorption, making Bretons near impervious to magical damage. There’s no better mage to go up against another mage than a Breton

Dark Elf Mage Guide

Credit: Bethesda

Dunmer are the least suited of these three races to magic. However, they are uniquely suited to combine magical attacks with stealth. They are strongest in destruction magic, their other skills being alchemy, alteration, illusion, light armour and sneaking. Dark Elves are the ideal starting point for the burgeoning assassin who would rather take down their targets with magical flames than a bow or a dagger.

Speaking of flames, the Dunmer have a fifty per cent resistance to fire damage. Couple that with their greater power, Ancestor’s Wrath, which deals fire damage to nearby enemies, and you have some serious firepower out of the gate.

Your Guardian Stone

Skyrim Mage Guide
Credit: Bethesda

Upon starting Skyrim, when you leave the opening scenario in Helgen you are free to go where you please. That said, there is an intended path the game nudges you toward, sending you to Riverwood to follow the main quest. Follow that road for a bit and you are bound to discover the Guardian Stones. These are three of the thirteen standing stones dotted around Skyrim that grant you bonuses. Of the three Guardian stones, you want to interact with the Mage Stone. This will grant a twenty per cent boost to all experience gained in mystical arts, a boon to any nascent mage.

With this guide, you are well on your way to becoming a powerful mage in Skyrim Anniversary Edition. Where you go from here is entirely up to you, but if you’re not sure feel free to check out some of our other guides. We have guides for starting out as a warrior or a thief.


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Featured Image Credit: Bethesda