Quest Walkthroughs

Daedric Artifact Quests

Introduction

Greetings traveler! Pull up a chair, grab a flagon of mead, and listen to my tale about Daedric artifacts. There are a total of fifteen that can be obtained in Skyrim, and since all of them can be both tricky to discover and to obtain I will now tell you how to find all of them. Be prepared to follow the foul Daedric lords' will and trickery, but all is fair in legendary artifacts and exploration.

Be warned that many of them can be lost forever if you choose a wrong path somewhere, so be sure to save often when doing these quests! Also note that there is a level requirement on some of them, so if you can't find the quest simply come back after a couple of levels.

"Waking Nightmare" (Skull of Corruption)

  • Found Where?: The inn at Dawnstar, "Windpeak Inn"
  • Quest Giver?: Erandur
  • Artifact Obtained?: Skull of Corruption (Staff)
  • Daedric Lord?: Vaermina

The residents of Dawnstar complain about having frequent nightmares that won't quit. It seems the mage Erandur in the Windpeak Inn knows more about this than he wants to talk about in public. When you accept the quest you'll escort Erandur to the nearby ruin Nightcaller Temple. Take note that several sources claim that the quest bugged out for them when they entered the ruin, since Erandur disappeared after entering thus making the quest impossible to complete. Save often, as always.

Inside the temple you'll encounter several orcs and mages who try to hinder your progress. Hopefully you and Erandur will have little trouble defeating them, and it even turns out the mages are Erandur's former buddies. When you get close to the end of the ruins, Erandur will start chanting a spell to end the nightmares. At this point the Daedric lord Vaermina will talk directly to you, telling you that Erandur will betray you. YOU MUST KILL ERANDUR BEFORE HE FINISHES THE RITUAL, OTHERWISE YOU WON'T GET THE ARTIFACT.

"The Black Star" (The Black Star / Azura's Star)

  • Found Where?: Shrine of Azura, south of Winterhold
  • Quest Giver?: Aranea Ienith, at Shrine of Azura
  • Artifact Obtained?: The Black Star (Misc.) / Azura's Star (Misc.)
  • Daedric Lord?: Azura

The Shrine of Azura is not far from Winterhold, but can be somewhat tricky to locate since it's in the mountain regions. When you finally reach the shrine, Aranea will tell you that Azura have chosen you to be her new champion and wants you to talk to an Elf in the Frozen Hearth Inn in Winterhold. In the inn you can speak to Dagur, who will tell you that the Elf in question have rented a room and is named Nelacar. After speaking to Nelacar you'll have to go to the dungeon Ilinalta's Deep to get Azura's Star back from the foul mage Malyn Varen. After getting the (broken) item back you have to decide if you want to give it to Aranea or Nelacar for repairing.

Both rewards are terrific in their own way. Repairing the item through Nelacar's aid will eventually give you The Black Star; an endless soul gem that can only house humanoid souls for capture. On the flipside, repairing the item through Aranea's aid will give you Azura's Star, which is an endless regular soul gem that can house all souls except humanoids for capture. If you go with Aranea you can also get her as a companion after the quest is done. You repair the broken item by entering it and destroying the evil souls that are housed within, so be prepared before you enter.

"Discerning the Transmundane" (Oghma Infinium)

  • Found Where?: Septimus Sigmus Outpost, north of Winterhold College
  • Quest Giver?: Septimus Sigmus
  • Artifact Obtained?: Oghma Infinium (Book)
  • Daedric Lord?: Hermaeus Mora

North of the Winterhold College is an island among the ice fields, and on this island is Septimus Sigmus Outpost, the home of a man gone insane. You'll visit him during the main questline when you're asked to find an Elder Scroll, but feel free to visit him even if you're not on that quest. Before you start the Daedric quest you must get an imprint of an Elder Scroll for him from some Dwemer ruins.

After that he wants blood from an Orc, a Falmer, a Dark Elf, a Wood Elf and a High Elf. Whenever you kill one of these types you can take a blood sample when you're looting their bodies. Since it can take a while to find all different types it's suggested to simply have this quest running in the "background" while doing other stuff.

Tip: All the blood samples, except Dunmer, can be found on permanent corpses in the ruins you had to clear in the previous part of the quest.

Once you have all the blood needed and hand it over to Septimus Sigmus you'll eventually get the Oghma Infinium. This book is, simply put; amazing. It allows you to gain 5 skill points in 5 skills, depending on what path you choose when you read it. Path of Might will give you +5 to Heavy Armor, One-Handed Weapons, Smithing, Two-Handed Weapons and Archery. Path of Shadow will give you +5 to Light Armor, Pickpocket, Speech, Sneak and Lockpicking. Path of Magic will give you +5 to Destruction, Restoration, Conjuration, Illusion and Alteration. Be aware that you can only choose one path, the book will be destroyed after reading it once.

"Pieces of the Past" (Mehrunes' Razor)

  • Found Where?: Museum in Dawnstar
  • Quest Giver?: Silus
  • Artifact Obtained?: Mehrunes' Razor (Dagger)
  • Daedric Lord?: Mehrunes Dagon

A weird man in Dawnstar is running a museum dedicated to the Mythic Dawn cult (the dudes who murdered the emperor in TES IV: Oblivion, and opened the gates to Oblivion). He unfortunately is missing a grand item in his exhibit: Mehrunes' Razor. It has been divided up into three pieces, which you are then asked to obtain and put back together. Two of the pieces are from different dungeons, which are quite straightforward. The third piece is owned by a man living in Morthal. How you get his piece is up to you. Rob him, kill him, buy it, whichever.

After you have all three pieces you need to travel to Mehrunes Dagon's shrine together with Silus to put the dagger together. At the shrine, Mehrunes will tell you to kill Silus or he won't repair the dagger. After you take care of Silus, feel free to loot your new dagger. Be prepared to fight, however, since the tricky Mehrunes will summon two Daedras to fight you after you loot the dagger. That fight is totally optional, but you get a key to Mehrunes' shrine for more loot if you kill them.

"Boethiah's Calling" (Ebony Mail)

  • Found Where?: Reading the book "Boethiah's Proving" found in several locations. Septimus Sigmus Outpost has one.
  • Quest Giver?: Boethiah High Priestess
  • Artifact Obtained?: Ebony Mail (Chest Armor)
  • Daedric Lord?: Boethiah

After you read the book "Boethiah's Proving" you'll get a quest to find Boethiah's Shrine. The book can be found in various locations, but there's always one in Septimus Sigmus Outpost. Follow the map marker to the shrine, and when you arrive the High Priestess will ask you to prove yourself. She wants you to lure a person to that shrine and sacrifice them. Lovely. Easiest way to do this is to hire a companion you don't care about. I chose the guy in Riften's Pub. Back at the shrine with your companion, tell him that you "Want him to do something", then order him to touch the shrine and then kill him.

After all that, Boethiah will appear and ask that someone steps up as her new champion. All the cultists will start fighting left and right, so sit back and watch until there's only one left alive and take care of him yourself. Boethiah will declare you her new champion, and demand that you retrieve a lost Ebony Mail for her. Go to the dungeon, kill everything, get the Ebony Mail, celebrate.

"The Whispering Door" (Ebony Blade)

  • Found Where?: Rumour from Whiterun inn ("The Bannered Mane") bartender
  • Quest Giver?: Jarl Balgruuf
  • Artifact Obtained?: Ebony Blade (2-Handed Sword)
  • Daedric Lord?: Mephala

After you've completed the main quest "Dragon Rising" you can go to the inn in Whiterun and bug the bartender for rumours. Eventually she'll mention that the Jarl's children are acting weird lately, and suggest that you talk to the Jarl about it. Since you're now a Thane you can speak frankly to the Jarl, who'll ask you to speak to one of his sons. The son is bitter and acting like a douche, but eventually says that a magical door in the cellar is speaking to him and is revealing secrets.

After inspecting the door and promising to open it, pickpocket the key for it from the Jarl. After that you just need to open the door and loot your fancy new sword.

"The Cursed Tribe" (Volendrung)

  • Found Where?: Largashbur, west of Riften and south of the lake
  • Quest Giver?: Atub
  • Artifact Obtained?: Volendrung (2-Handed Mace)
  • Daedric Lord?: Malacath

West of the town Riften there's an Orc camp called Largashbur which is under attack by a giant. After you help to kill the giant you can talk to the camp's shaman Atub. She says that the tribe has been cursed and that they need your help. She ask you to bring her Troll Fat and a Daedra Heart to prepare a ritual. If you're having trouble finding Daedra Hearts, there's one easy to steal in the Companion's Hall in Whiterun, in Kodlak Whitemane's room. After giving the items to Atub, Malacath will let all the Orcs know that he's pissed off at them and demands that the chief of the tribe kill a giant chief and obtain his club. The chief is not pleased to hear this and demand that you help him do so.

After fighting through a cave with the chief he ask you to kill the giant alone since he's "tired". Kill the giant. Then the Orc foolishly decides that you should die as well. Kill him. Malacath will be happy with your work and reward you with Volendrung after you return to Largashbur.

"Ill Met By Moonlight" (Savior's Hide / Ring of Hircine)

  • Found Where? Falkreath Jail, located in Falkreath Barracks
  • Quest Giver?: Sinding
  • Artifact Obtained?: Savior's Hide (Chest Armor) / Ring of Hircine (Ring)
  • Daedric Lord?: Hircine

In Falkreath you can head down to the jail to spit on the prisoners *cough* - I mean talk to one of the prisoners named Sinding. It seems he killed a young girl while being affected by beastly powers due to him stealing a ring. You promise to help him out by killing a beast in the nearby woods, so he gives you the Cursed Ring of Hircine (which will randomly transform you into a werewolf, so GET OUT OF TOWN ASAP) and then he escapes the prison. After killing the beast, which is the spirit of Hircine, you're then asked by Hircine to kill Sinding who's now living in a cave.

When you arrive in the cave you're greeted by a ton of dead hunters who've tried to kill Sinding before you. Laugh at them, as you press on. You're now left with a choice; either help Sinding killing the hunters to get the Ring of Hircine, or simply kill Sinding to get the Savior's Hide. Both of them count as a Daedric Artifact, so make your choice. The ring is a neat if you enjoy playing as a warewolf (reduced cooldown on transforming), but otherwise I'd go with the armor.

There is a way (bug?) to get both artifacts, which has yet to be patched away (thanks to skrutop for pointing this out). I haven't tried this method myself yet, but keep lots of saves like usual.

  1. Agree to help Sinding kill the hunters.
  2. Talk to Sinding afterwards.
  3. Kill him and loot his hide.
  4. Quickly run out of the cave before Hircine can talk to you.
  5. Hircine will appear outside the cave and reward you with the ring.
  6. Go back into the cave, and Hircine will again appear and reward you with the hide. Neat!

"A Daedra's Best Friend" (Clavicus Vile's Masque)

  • Found Where?: Falkreath, upon entering the town
  • Quest Giver?: Barbas
  • Artifact Obtained?: Clavicus Vile's Masque (Head Armor)
  • Daedric Lord?: Clavicus Vile

When you enter Falkreath the first time you overhear someone talking about a roaming dog outside the town. Go there to find a talking dog named Barbas, who wants nothing more than to reunite with his master Clavicus Vile. Agree to help, and then go for a LONG walk with the slowest dog in the world. You'll clear out a cave of vampires together, and then finally talk to Clavicus. He's disappointed with the mutt, and wants you to get his Rueful Axe back to him from a mage in another dungeon.

After returning with the axe Clavicus wants you to kill Barbas with the axe. If you kill Barbas you get to keep the axe, but it doesn't count as an artifact (thanks to skrutop for pointing this out)! Refuse instead and you'll get Clavicus' mask. The dog will, of course, be thankful that you're more forgiving than his Daedric master.

"The Break of Dawn" (Dawnbreaker)

  • Found Where?: Statue to Meridia, located in the mountains west of Solitude
  • Quest Giver?: Statue to Meridia
  • Artifact Obtained?: Dawnbreaker (1-Handed Sword)
  • Daedric Lord?: Meridia

Another dungeon crawling quest for another Daedra. This time it's Meridia who wants you to first obtain her beacon, and then enter the temple underneath her statue to banish the evil down there. Eventually you'll be rewarded with Dawnbreaker, a totally awesome sword against undead foes. Really not much to say about this quest other than just that.

"The Only Cure" (Spellbreaker)

  • Found Where?: Shrine of Peryite, located quite far northeast of Markarth
  • Quest Giver?: Kesh
  • Artifact Obtained?: Spellbreaker (Shield)
  • Daedric Lord?: Peryite

When you arrive at the shrine a Khajiit named Kesh wants you to bring him some ingredients to be able to communicate with Peryite. You need to bring a Deathbell Flower, a Flawless Ruby, a Silver Ingot and some Vampire Dust. The flower and dust can often be bought from alchemy stores, and the ore ingot can be bought from blacksmith shops. Flawless Ruby is the only troublesome item, try pickpocketing rich people for it.

After getting these items Peryite wants you to enter a nearby dungeon and kill his former champion and take over his title. Do as he wants, and you'll be rewarded with the kickass shield Spellbreaker.

"House of Horrors" (Mace of Molag Bal)

  • Found Where?: Markarth
  • Quest Giver?: Vigilant Tyranus
  • Artifact Obtained?: Mace of Molag Bal (1-Handed Mace)
  • Daedric Lord?: Molag Bal

When you arrive in Markarth you can walk straight ahead and eventually Vigilant Tyranus will ask for your help to clear out some demons from an abandoned house. Agree, and prepare for some spooky shit to go down. After the dust settles, and you've killed Vigilant Tyranus, Molag Bal will speak to you and demand that you rescue a priest and bring him to this shrine. Agree, and set off to rescue the priest Logrulf the Woeful. After his rescue you'll go back to the abandoned house and beat Logrulf into submission. After that Molag Bal will be pleased, and will reward you with his mace.

"The Taste of Death" (Ring of Namira)

  • Found Where?: Markarth, Understone Keep
  • Quest Giver?: Verulus
  • Artifact Obtained?: Ring of Namira (Ring)
  • Daedric Lord?: Namira

Another quest that makes you feel sick (hopefully). The priest Verulus will ask you to investigate the Halls of the Dead in Markarth since dead bodies have been disappearing lately. Once you enter a girl named Eola greets you, asking you to help her taking back her cave-home in exchange to leaving the bodies of Markarth alone. Agree, and meet her at the cave after telling Verulus everything will be alright (without mentioning Eola of course). After clearing the cave with Eola it seems she's in a cult devoted to Namira, and ask you to bring her a fresh body for a feast. Oh dear.

Go back to your buddy Verulus, bribe him with some gold, and bring him to the cave. Then kill him. Then...eat his flesh. After the little supper Namira will be most pleased with you, and will reward you with her ring. While wearing the ring you'll regain health and stamina when you eat corpses, so enjoy your new life as a cannibal.

"A Night to Remember" (Sanguine Rose)

  • Found Where?: Any big town's inn or pub
  • Quest Giver?: Sam Guevenne
  • Artifact Obtained?: Sanguine Rose (Staff)
  • Daedric Lord?: Sanguine

Have you ever been so drunk that you can't remember what you did the night before? Have you ever been so drunk that you trashed a holy temple, married a witch, and stole a goat to pay off the wedding ring? After you agree to Sam's drinking competition, that's exactly what (apparently) happens. You'll find Sam in any town's inn or pub, asking you to partake in a drinking challenge. After you agree you awake in another town's temple, and you're then asked to clean up your mess. After following a series of clues you'll eventually end up at a ruin called Morvunskar, fight a whole lot of mages, and finally end up in Sanguine's (Sam's) party garden. He'll apologize, but thank you for a fun evening, and then reward you with the Sanguine Rose.

"The Mind of Madness" (Wabbajack)

  • Found Where?: Solitude
  • Quest Giver?: Dervenin
  • Artifact Obtained?: Wabbajack (Staff?)
  • Daedric Lord?: Sheogorath

Wandering the streets of Solitude is a beggar named Dervenin. Find him, and he'll ask you to find his master who "went off to a tea-party years ago with his best friend the emperor". Alright. Eventually you'll end up in the twisted mind of a dead emperor who's, well, having a tea-party with Sheogorath. It seems Sheogorath wants you to help his friend regain his sanity, so you're asked to help out with just that.

You'll only have the Wabbajack to solve things with. During the "Paranoia"-sequence you need to shoot either of the folks sitting on the chairs, not the monsters fighting. During the "Night Terrors"-sequence you need to shoot the sleeping man, then whatever creature that appears. Keep repeating until the sleeping man awakes. During the "Anger Issues"-sequence you need to shoot the little guy to make him grow, and then shoot the attackers to make them small. If any of these sequences made sense to you I'm sure you'll love your new toy Sheogorath rewards you with; the Wabbajack staff.

Conclusion

And there you have it! I hope these tales brought you joy and terror, because what else can a Daedric Lord bring? And remember; if in doubt, always agree to whatever they ask.

Character Class Guide: Building A Mage

Introduction

This guide is intended for those Skyrim players who prefer to channel the mystic powers of the mind, rather than putting on metal outfits and foolishly hacking away at dragons with their pointy sticks. In some ways, sticking to a mage class is a bit easier in Skyrim than it was in Oblivion. The perks that come at lower levels can keep you alive, and your magic will outclass many opponents as you level up your character. However, life is not always easy as a mage, so I've gathered some tips and tricks to make your life as a practitioner of the arcane arts that much easier.

I'm writing this guide as if the Dragonborn is a pure mage, using mostly Destruction spells, summoning spells, Healing spells, and armor spells. I don't use bound weapons with this type of character.

While this guide is applicable to all systems, it assumes that there are no mods or expansion packs installed. As I played Skyrim on the Xbox 360, I have also included a few notes about using Kinect voice commands at the bottom of the guide as well.

I don't claim to have invented this information. I gathered a lot of information from other superb Skyrim sites, like the Unoffical Elder Scrolls Pages and the Elder Scrolls Wiki.

Character Creation

Skyrim's character creation options have much less of an effect on your character than in previous games. On the plus side, this means that you won't suffer much of a negative impact for choosing a magically disinclined race, like the Orc. However, the drawback is that it's harder to get a leg up early on.

Race

Your choice of race does have some impact on your character, and some races lend themselves better to a mage class than others. That being said, any race can use any spell, so there isn't a class that you must play as. I've highlighted some of the racial perks below.

Great: Altmer (High Elves)

High Elves are made for magic, and are the most obvious choices for a mage. Altmer start with +50 to magicka, which is 50% more than any other race. They also get a +5 bonus to all magic-related skills (e.g. Alteration, Destruction, Restoration, Conjuration, and Enchanting), with a +10 bonus to Illusion. They also start with the Fury spell. Their Highborn ability, which allows them to regenerate magicka more quickly, is not as valuable as it might seem. During battle, magicka regenerates extremely slowly no matter how much it's boosted.

Great: Breton

The Breton is a good choice for the early game as they have some good defensive options against hostile mages, dragons, and enemies with enchanted weapons. Bretons have a 25% resistance to magic, and their Dragonskin ability gives them a 50% chance to asborb magic damage cast at them. They also start with a +5 bonus to Alchemy, Alteration, Illusion, and Restoration, with a +10 bonus to Conjuration. Additionally, they start the game with the Summon Familiar spell. Early on, that is a useful spell as it gives your opponents something else to shoot at.

Good: Dunmer (Dark Elves)

The natives of Morrowind also have some decent magical bonuses that make them worth considering. All Dunmer have a 50% resistance to fire, which will come in handy against mages, dragons, flame atronachs, and enemies with fire enchanted weapons. Their racial ability cloaks them in fire, which is useful early on if the enemy gets too close. The dark elves have a +5 bonus to Alchemy, Alteration, and Illusion, and a +10 ability to Destruction. They also start the game with the Sparks spell.

Fair: Imperials

Imperials are not as strong of a choice for a mage as some of the other races. However, their Voice of the Emperor skill, which calms nearby people, can get you out of a jam if you're surrounded. They also have a +5 bonus to Destruction and Enchanting, with a +10 bonus to Restoration.

Fair: Argonians / Redguard

Argonians get a +5 bonus to Alteration and Restoration. Redguard have a +5 bonus to Alteration and Destruction.

Poor: Bosmer / Orcs / Khajit / Nord

These races have no bonuses to any magic-related skills. The Nords have a 50% resistance to frost damage, which is useful against frost dragons and enemy ice mages.

Gender

Your gender has almost no impact on gameplay as a mage, but there is a point to consider. The Allure perk, part of the Speech skill tree, allows you to get better prices from vendors of the opposite sex.

Leveling Up

Magicka or Health?

You'll be using a lot of magicka, and will no doubt find yourself running out during battle early on. However, if enemies get through your magical attacks, they'll be able to hack you to ribbons in seconds. So, health or magicka, which to choose? Well, there's no entirely right or wrong answer to this.

Early & Mid-Game: Take a balanced approach

For the first 20-25 levels, I would recommend a balanced approach and take magicka three times for every two times that you take health. This will keep you alive enough to get to your potions, but also supplement your magicka reserves enough to keep the pressure on your opponent.

Late Game: Health

Once your base magicka pool gets around 250-300 points, you shouldn't need to increase magicka anymore. By that point, you'll have several perks to decrease your magicka use, your magic skills should be high enough that magicka use is reduced significantly, and you'll have enchanted gear that drops your magicka use down even further.

Destruction Perks

Destruction is the main way that you're going to do damage. The best defense really is a good offense (other than having a follower to take the brunt of the attacks), so the Destruction skill tree should get a lot of your attention.

Novice / Apprentice Destruction

You'll have no choice but to pick up the Novice Destruction perk, as it starts off the Destruction Skill Tree. It cuts the cost of Sparks, Flames, and Frostbite in half. These are skills that you'll be using a lot early on, so it's pretty useful. The Apprentice Destruction perk will also likely be useful to you once you move up to Ice Shard, Firebolt, and Lighting Bolt, as it cuts their magicka use in half.

Destruction Dual Casting

Get this as soon as it's available, which shouldn't be too many levels from when you start. Not only will it give your early spells some more punch early on, but it's going to be vital later on.

Impact

For mages, this is possibly the single most useful perk in the game. Impact staggers any enemy who is hit by certain dual-casted Destruction spells. This includes every single opponent but dragons, though they too will be stunned by Impact if you take the Augmented Flames / Shock / Frost perks. An enemy that's staggered is one that's not hitting back, so this skill will save your life more times than you'll be able to count. It's important to note that Flames, Sparks, and Frostbite do not stagger opponents. By the time that you have Impact, you'll want to have Ice Shard, Firebolt, or Lightning Bolt as your primary attack spell.

Augmented Flames / Shock / Frost (Levels 1 and 2)

Once you can access these perks, you should pick them up. Level one will make your selected elemental attack do 25% more damage, while level two will make it do 50% more damage. Generally, I would only pick one elemental type and stick with it. In order to stun dragons with Impact, you'll need to take one of these perks.

Adept / Expert / Master Destruction

Your mileage may vary on how useful these perks are to you. Because you'll gain Augmented Flames/Shock/Frost, be leveling up your Destruction Skill, using dual-casting, and have Impact, you may find yourself sticking with the Apprentice level attack spells for a good portion of the game. By the time you're ready to move up, you'll likely have gear with Fortify Destruction to bring down the cost enough that you won't need these perks. However, if you find your magicka pool running dry during battle, then these perks may help with that.

Enchanting Perks

The perks that run up the middle of this constellation are the ones to focus on. Each provides more power to the types of enchantments that you'll be using. I never found Soul Squeezeer or Soul Siphon to be necessary, and you aren't using enchanted weapons which limits the usefulness of the Fire, Frost, and Storm Enchanter perks.

Enchanter (Levels 1-5)

Each rank of this perk increases the power of enchanting by 20% and should be taken as soon as you can. You will absolutely need to enchant your own gear to its fullest power as often as you can, and selling off your powerfully enchanted gear will keep the money rolling in.

Insightful Enchanter

This perk increases skill enchantments by 25%, which is very useful if you're going to make Fortify Alchemy enchanted gear. The more powerful your alchemy skill, the more powerful your potions and the more they're worth. Also, alchemy levels up according to the power of the potion made, so this perk will really help you boost Alchemy and your cash flow. It's also required for the Corpus Enchanter perk, which is very useful.

Corpus Enchanter

This perk increases magicka boosts for any equipment that you enchant. This is good for the mid-game when you're trying to make enchanting powerful enough for Fortify Destruction enchantments, but will still be relying on magicka boost items to increase your overall magicka pool size.

Extra Effect

Not surprisingly, the perk that requires a 100 Enchanting skill is really, really powerful and needs no real explanation. Take this as soon as you can and start making some really, really powerful gear.

Alteration Perks

Alteration is sort of a "catch-all" for various types of spells that range from somewhat useful to life saving. Utility spells, like Candlelight, Telekinesis, and Waterbreathing are handy to have around. The mage armor spells, like Oakflesh and Ironflesh, can be absolute lifesavers in battle.

Novice / Apprentice Alteration

These are all useful perks, especially if you use any of the mage armor spells. They can be pretty magicka-heavy, so this helps mitigate them. They're all also required to access the Mage Armor and Magic Resistance Alteration perks.

Mage Armor (Levels 1-3)

If you use any of the mage armor spells, than this skill will boost their effectiveness by up to 3x. Later in the game, this can keep you from getting one-hit killed by a number of very strong enemies.

Magic Resistance (Levels 1-3)

This gives you up to a 30% chance to absorb enemy spells, which are converted into magicka. It can be a life saver against strong magic users, but if you have decent health than this perk isn't totally necessary.

Restoration Perks

I have found that Healing and Healing Hands is all that I need from this school, so there's not many points that I put into its perks.

Novice Restoration

Early on, Healing will drain through your magicka pool pretty quickly, especially when you need magicka during battle. This perk will help with that a lot. Later on, though, the magicka usage is trivial, while the healing potential is very strong making this the only perk that is needed from this skill tree.

Regeneration

This spell doubles the effectiveness of healing spells, which will keep Healing useful through most of the game. It can be useful to have that in a pinch if you find yourself under fire.

Respite

With Respite, your healing spells also restore stamina. Since you'll be ignoring Stamina boosts, this is useful if you're running between points on the map and want to speed the process up a bit by sprinting the whole way.

Conjuration Perks

I mostly use summoned creatures to take the pressure off of me during battles, so I don't tend to need much beyond Apprentice Conjuration

Novice / Apprentice Conjuration

Like the other skill trees, these limit the cost of summoning creatures. I usually summon outside of battle, so this perk isn't totally necessary, but it will help keep your magicka reserves up in the early game.

Alchemy Perks

While not a magic-related perk (it belongs to the Stealth skillset), alchemy is no doubt very useful for creating powerful potions of enchantment, as well as giving you a very easy way to make a lot of money. Since I don't use most of the potions that I create, I simply choose the perks that make my potions worth more money.

Alchemist (Levels 1-5)

This perk makes your potions more powerful, and thus worth more. They're also good for making potions to boost Enchantment.

Equipment

Since Skyrim only allows certain types of enchantments on certain types of equipment, it's a bit harder to build up a massively powerful mage than in previous games. However, you'll find that spending time leveling Enchanting will really help give you the edge against your foes.

Quick Note: Forget Magicka Regen Buffs

You'll run into a number of items with Fortify Magicka Regen enchantments on them. This enchantment can be completely ignored for two reasons. Firstly, magicka regenerates extremely slowly during combat no matter how much you boost it. Secondly, magicka regenerates at a percentage of your total magicka pool. So, if you have a magicka pool of 200 it will naturally regenerate twice as fast as a magicka pool of 100. You'll be able to get the same effect of a magicka regeneration enchantment by simply increasing your magicka pool.

Early Game: Novice Hood, Novice Robes of Destruction, Magicka Boosters

Once you make your way to Whiterun, likely the first hold you'll come across, you might want to grab the carriage to Winterhold and join the college. Once you get to the college, the hood and robes will be given to you.

The Robes reduce Destruction spells' magicka use by 12%, which is a pretty decent bonus when coupled with the Novice Destruction perk. The hood's +30 to magicka doesn't hurt. During the course of the college's questline, you'll be running into mages with similar equipment, which will allow you to disenchant this fortification to build a stronger set of robes & magicka boosting items later.

You'll also want to either buy or enchant some basic magicka boosting rings and amulets to give yourself that much more juice to play with.

Early Game: The Black Star

Azura's Shrine quest will net you a reusable grand soul gem. You can choose either to take Azura's Star, which captures creature's "white" souls, or The Black Star which will capture creature's white souls and people's "black" souls. There is no reason to take Azura's Star. Black souls are always grand souls, which is very useful for enchanting. Mammoths are the easiest grand "white" souls to get.

Mid-Game: Savos Aren's Amulet & Hooded Archmage's Robes

During the course of the college questline, you'll be given more and more powerful equipment, which will come in handy. Savos Aren's amulet has a +50 boost to magicka, which will be a significant boost for a good portion of the game. The hooded Archmage's Robes grant a 15% magicka reduction for all spells, +50 to magicka, and +100% magicka regeneration. Unfortunately, the unhooded version does not have the magicka boost. The regeneration won't matter much, but the magicka reduction is great to have. It's important to note that the hooded version of the Archmage's Robes will not allow you to equip any type of headwear other than circlets and masks. Equipping a regular hat or hood will unequip the robes.

End-Game: Fortify Destruction + Another School Enchantments

At the later stages of the game, your base magicka pool will be large enough, and your skills will be powerful enough, that magicka boosting items are of less importance than earlier in the game. You'll be able to make Fortify Destruction rings, amulets, and cirlets/hats and Fortify Destruction/Magicka Regen robes that will bring your cost of casting Destruction spells down to zero. At that point, you'll only need magicka for other random spells that you won't be casting often, like mage armor or Soul Trap.

Once you are able to get the Extra Effect perk, you can add another school of magic to your fortify enchantments. This will depend highly on your playstyle. I find that Alteration offers the best benefit as it has several useful spells, and the mage armor skills can use up a lot of magicka.

Don't Forget About Your Followers

It's important to keep your followers alive by making sure that their gear matches your foes' strength. Heavier armor, stronger weapons, and better enchantments are a no-brainer. Here are a couple other tips:

Fortify Carry Weight

Your followers are your pack mules, sworn to carry your burdens. Give them good fortify carry weight enchantments to allow them to carry more of your stuff for you.

Soul Trap Weapon + Empty Soul Gems

A good way to farm souls for enchanting is to give your follower a Soul Trap enchanted weapon and some empty soul gems. Fiery Soul Trap is even better as it will do bonus damage.

Standing Stones

There are 13 standing stones scattered across Skyrim. You'll receive a permanent boost when you activate a stone, until you choose a different one. You'll run into your first set of stones when you leave Helgen, headed on the road toward Riverwood. During the course of your adventure, you'll discover the rest if you go looking for them.

The Mage Stone

This stone gives allows you to learn magic-related skills 20% faster. These skills include Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Enchanting, Illusion, and Restoration. The stone is one of the first that you'll encounter and is located on the road to Riverwood, coming from Helgen. This stone is one of the best buffs to have for mages, and is one that you might want to "set and forget" for the rest of the game.

The Lover Stone

The Lover Stone is also incredibly useful as it allows you to learn all skills 15% faster. This will help you level up that much faster when you use Speech and Lockpick, which are pretty much unavoidable, as well as if you dabble in Alchemy. This stone is located northeast of Markath, near the Blind Cliff Cave. I still prefer the Mage Stone, as leveling up your strongest skills helps you to level up faster than lower leveled skills, but this will depend on your particular playstyle.

The Atronach Stone

The Atronach Stone grants you +50 to magicka, as well as a 50% chance to absorb spells. It has a drawback of -50% magicka regeneration, which is not as bad as it seems. During battle, your magicka regenerates very slowly anyway. If you find yourself out of magicka during a fight, you'll want to pop potions rather than wait for your magicka to refill. This stone is pretty far away from civilization, being smack dab in the middle of the swamps north of Riften. It's between Mistwatch and the Eldergleam Sanctuary.

The Lord Stone

The Lord Stone has some decent defensive options that might just help you stay alive. It grants +50 to your armor rating and a 25% resist magic bonus. The Lord Stone is located near Labyrinthian, east of Morthal. If you're heading to Labyrinthian from Winterhold, as part of the College of Winterhold questline, you'll likely pass near it.

Things to Do

Skyrim is a big land, and there's no right or wrong way to approach it. Below are some good quests to start off with in order to build up your skills.

Thane of Whiterun

The first thing that I would recommend is to go through the early main quest until the Jarl makes you the Thane of Whiterun. This will net you Lydia as a follower for free. You'll want to have her around to take the pressure off of you when you're facing down multiple enemies.

College of Winterhold Quests

Once you pick up Lydia, head to Winterhold and join the college. Not only will you get some decent starting gear, but you'll also pick up a couple of free spells, have access to trainers in every school of magic, and have access to seven merchants all in close proximity to each other.

The quests themselves often have you facing off against hostile mages, so you'll find plenty of enchanted gear, potions, gold, and spell tomes. As you rank up in the college, you'll find even more powerful gear and eventually pick up the Archmage's Robes and Savos Aren's amulet, which have some good magicka boosts on them. Also, the Archmage's quarters are not too shabby.

The Black Star

Azura's Shrine is close to Winterhold, and is good to visit early. The Black Star quest will net you a broken version of Azura's Star which can either be fixed at her shrine, or corrupted to take black souls by a former member of the College of Winterhold. You'll definitely want to take The Black Star, as it is capable of capturing the souls of people as well as creatures.

Kinect Commands

Bethesda updated the Xbox 360 version of Skyrim to accept voice commands for players who have a Kinect hooked up to their console. The full list of commands can be found here. Here are some mage-related tips that I've found when playing with Kinect.

You Aren't Using Weapons, So Assign Frequently Used Spells to Those Slots

"Equip Axe," "Equip Shield," "Equip Sword," and "Equip Bow" are the shortest voice commands you can have. You're better off setting your spells to those slots, since it's easier to switch in and out of them. For instance, I set Soul Trap to Shield and my lightning spell to Sword. When I say "Equip sword and shield," then both spells are ready to go. Then I can quickly swap over a dual-wielded lightning spell by saying "Equip Sword" as soon as I've hit the enemy with Soul Trap. Saying "Equip Lightning Spell" takes too long, and there's a greater chance that the Kinect won't understand you.

Don't Forget about Shouts

It's easy to forget about using Shouts during battle, but every single one is usable via Kinect. I would recommend learning the English version of your shouts, as it's easier than pressing RB and saying the Dragontongue version. That being said, "Fus Ro Dah" is pretty fun to yell at the TV.

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