The Daedric Thief

This is Katherina’s build, continuing from my previous post.  I decided I really needed to come up with a name for her “class”, and settled on Daedric Thief.  It’s not perfect, but it works.

A note before I go on – I’ve actually modified the build VERY slightly so that it works for people that don’t use the console, or can’t because they’re not on a PC.  The reason is that I normally treat the smithing tree as not actually being there – I give my character ALL the smithing perks as soon as I start.  This is partly because I have a huge number of modded weapons and armor that I want to use, and it’s just easier to be able to see them all at once, and partly because I consider the smithing tree to be terrible, because it’s near-mandatory.  Even if you avoid every other aspect of it, you almost have to at least get Steel Smithing and Arcane Blacksmith.

So, the below build is shown with a minimal smithing inclusion.  Enjoy!

Katherina, Daedric Thief

Overview: Katherina has come to Skyrim to try again to get a proper magical education.  Naturally talented at Conjuration and taking to other magics quickly, she nevertheless cannot seem to stay in any magical institution.  She’s intelligent, curious, magically apt.. and has incredibly light fingers.  Katherina cares about making life good for Katherina.  She wants things for herself, and she wants them without a lot of drudgery.  Exploring, learning, even fighting can be fun – especially when done from a distance – but the real goal is taking care of herself, here and now.  Be a friend, and she’ll direct her attention elsewhere, but make no mistake – Katherina considers rules to just be an impediment to getting what she wants, when she wants it.

Sex:  Female, obviously.  This is solely to be able to use the West Wind Misfit Mage outfit.  There’s no reason this character can’t work as a male.

Race:  Breton.  I chose Breton because of the starting Conjure Familiar spell and the magic resistance.  Any other race could work,but Altmer, Dunmer, Argonian, Khajit, and Bosmer have better starting skills and/or racial benefits, depending if the stealth or the magic aspect is what you want to emphasize.

Attributes:  Magic/Health/Stamina in a 3/1/0 ratio.

Skills and Perks (at level 50)

Conjuration: Novice – Expert, Dual Casting, Summoner 2/2, Atromancy.  Conjuration is the bread and butter of this class, relying on summoned atronachs to keep the enemy at bay.  If the non-smithing version is used, also add Mystic Binding and Soul Stealer for use with Bound weapons.

Alteration: Novice – Adept, Dual Casting, Mage Armor 2/3, Magic Resistance 2/3.  This is the centerpiece of the character’s defenses.

Illusion: Novice – Adept, Animage, Kindred Mage, Silent Casting.  Obviously used to supplement the stealth skill, the Silent Casting perk and the various invisibility and silence spells are goals.

Enchanting: Enchanter 3/5, Insightful Enchanter.  We’re going to be using non-elemental enchantments on weapons a great deal, so we’re staying away from the left side, as the perks are needed more elsewhere.

Restoration:  Novice, Recovery.  This is used to keep the cost of the free initial healing spell down, and to boost magic regeneration

Archery:  Overdraw 2/5, Critical Shot 1/3, Eagle Eye, Power Shot.  Archery is used to support her Atronach and/or follower.  Power Shot is the real goal here, in order to keep enemies from closing.  If the non-smithing version is done, an extra perk is available to take overdraw to 3/5.

Smithing:  Steel Smithing, Arcane Blacksmith, and Elven or Dwarven Smithing.  Which one is up to which quest you want to do.  If you want to do the Dawnguard line and get Auriel’s Bow, then Elven is preferred, which also lets you make more of the Misfit Mage outfits at a tanning rack.  Dwarven Smithing is good if you want Zephyr.

Sneak:  Stealth 2/5, Backstab, Deadly Aim.  She isn’t an assassin, so we won’t be going for Assassin’s Blade.  Muffled Movement isn’t needed as she doesn’t wear armor.  The bottom stealth perk provides far less benefit after just one perk in it, so I don’t invest that much.

Lockpicking:  Novice-Adept, Quick Hands.  This is really for quick hands more than anything else, and eventual progression into Golden Touch, Treasure Hunter and the Expert and Master pciking perks, both of which are far more useful.  Plus, there’s the thief-ish flavor.

Pickpocket: Light Fingers 2/5, Night Thief, Cutpurse, and Extra Pockets.  The last is very useful, since this build puts nothing in Stamina.

Gear:  Obviously the aforementioned Misfit Mage outfit, or if you don’t like that your choice of available mage-like clothing, plus your choice of footwear and headwear.  I’m using the Footwraps, but the College Boots you get at the beginning of the College of Winterhold line might be good too.  I recommend Bandanas of Skyrim for this; it fits a lot more with the casual adventurer look than a fancy circlet does.

As for weapons, if you go with the non-smithing version, all you need to do is lay your hands on the bound melee weapon of your choice, and the bound bow spell.  If you go with smithing, pick either Elven or Dwarven smithing and do the Dawnguard quest or Lost to the Ages early for Auriel’s Bow or Zephyer.  You can then smith up an Elven or Dwarven melee weapon of your choice for backup.  I used a dagger to keep weight to a minimum, but a bigger weapon can certainly be used.  A shield is also a possibility, since it does not prevent Mage Armor from working, but you don’t want to be in melee much in the first place, so it may be dead weight.

Other gear is pretty much according to taste.  Plenty of poisons, especially paralysis poisons are definitely advisable as are Fortify Alteration and Fortify Conjuration potions, the latter especially once you have Frost Atronachs.  If you have mods installed that add items to alternate nodes that buff carry weight, by all means get them.  The same applies to cloaks.  Other options are Chillrend or The Pale Blade for their effects in fending off opponents that close to melee range.

Spells:  It should be obvious that atronach summoning spells and flesh hardening spells are a huge priority.  Soul Trap is a staple, and Muffle and other stealth-enhancing illusion spells are an important supplement to your stealth skill and perks.  Restoration spells other than the one you start with aren’t terribly important, nor are destruction spells, other than (possibly) runes.  I like to have Lightning Bolt to fight flying dragons with since I have trouble leading with a bow, but it’s not otherwise very important.

Followers:  The Daedric Thief is.. well, a thief, so a stealthy follower is preferable if you want one at all.  If you get caught stealing, your follower could be a liability in a number of ways.  Not having a follower, however, can be a pain in the butt with no additional investment in stamina, and low health.  For adventures into the wilderness where pickpocketing and burglary aren’t the goal, you may want a heavy armor follower.  Combined with your Atronach, this should hold off all but large enemy groups quite nicely.

Quests:  The Thieves Guild and College of Winterhold are obvious quests for both the rewards and the roleplay aspects.  The main quest works well too, as she’s someone sucked into this by fate, and dragged along by her own curiosity.  Lost to the Ages is a fantastic choice for the Aetherial Crown and Zephyr.  The Dawnguard line works well in either direction.  I don’t see this character being a vampire, but it could be played that way.  The Bardic college quests, and Daedric quests are good too, as this character is curious about the daedra and their lost knowledge; Mehrunes Dagon is especially good for the special effect of the Razor, and Hermaeus Mora is a perfect fit, as is Sanguine.

The Companions and Dark Brotherhood are probably best avoided from a roleplay standpoint.  The Civil War is more up to personal preference.  I’ve avoided it for now, as she’s basically uninterested, but if forced to pick she’d go Stormcloak on account of the Imperials trying to cut off her head for no good reason.  Katherina is a lot more concerned with Katherina’s head than with political subtleties.

Standing Stones:  Mage to start out; getting the Mage Armor perk and better Atronach spells is a huge priority.  One you have the first Mage Armor perk and the Adept Conjuration perk, the Lord stone is a good choice.  Using the Aetherial Crown, there are quite a few potential combinations.  The Atronach may be a good choice, or the Apprentice if you can jack your magic resist up high enough to counter the weakness.  The Steed might also be useful, or any of the training Stones if you are behind on some skills.

Play:  This character is fragile, with low health, little stamina, and limited armor, plus no blocking or melee perks.  She’s an “independent” scholar (driven by her own curiosity, not the desire for academic achievement) and a fairly selfish thief, so she should snatch whatever she feels she can without getting caught.  If caught, she tends to flee before thinking, but she’ll surrender if in danger – life is more important than loot.  Seek out activities that boost her knowledge and understanding, as well as her wealth.  She should buy a house and comforts at the earliest opportunity.

In combat, she uses her atronach, follower if any, and whatever special effects, from staggers to freezing to paralysis to keep opponents at range.  If forced into melee, she uses paralysis if at all possible, then hacks her helpless opponent to pieces before he can get up and finish her.

So there she is, the Daedric Thief.  She’s intended to be flexible, and variations are many, but I think this offers a different take on the traditional Nightblade approach.  Skyrim is a huge world of riches and curiosities just waiting for her to discover.

Running around barefoot

It doesn’t strike me as a particularly good idea in a land like Skyrim.  It’s cold, and there’s rocks and such, not to mention bear traps in caves.  Plus, there’s a plethora of armored boots available, and Skyrim doesn’t have an Unarmored skill.  It does have the Mage Armor perk, but I use a mod that adjusts the armor curve considerably.. without changing the amount of armor granted by the Alteration spells.

I’ve never really been one for unarmored builds in Elder Scrolls games anyhow.  When I played through Oblivion as a mage, it was as a heavy armor Battlemage, not a robe wearer, and I never got far with pure caster builds in previous games.  If I go back and play through Oblivion again, though, I might try again after this experience.

I like to play female characters as much or more than males in many respects.  They’re easier to get attached to.  I don’t mind staring at a female ass rather than a male ass for dozens of hours of gameplay, either, but I prefer not to dress my female characters in overly revealing or excessively sexualized clothing, and I like female armor at least semi-practical.  That might be surprising given that I’ve castigated feminists for their silly concerns about sexy female armor, but that’s for the prudery, not because stripper armor is to my personal tastes.  I do like some outfits in game that show skin, but it tends to be more things like shorts, or bare shoulders.

With unarmored characters  in a game like Skyrim where normal clothing offers no mechanical advantage in and of itself (solely the ability to take advantage of the Mage Armor perk) a lot of the “impracticality” argument regarding skimpy female armor loses traction.  It’s silly to argue that skimpy clothing would offer no protection, because regular clothing doesn’t either.  I can’t think of any terribly skimpy non-armor clothing in unmodded Skyrim anyhow.  Of course, Skyrim is supposed to be cold, but running around in the snow or swimming in frigid water won’t hurt you, which is also pretty unrealistic, especially if you’re any race other than a Nord, and aren’t a vampire.  You can mod in the effects of exposure if you want, and you can also mod in appropriate cloaks and other cold weather clothing that are suspiciously absent from Skyrim, which will punish you for running around in your bondage straps, or whatever, but although I like cloaks I don’t play Skyrim to deal with the realities of cold and wet.  I’ve been cold and wet in the field quite enough in real life as it is.

With all that in mind, while browsing Skyrim Nexus I ran across a mod known as the Misfit Mage outfit.  This outfit is not particularly warm-looking, but it’s not skimpy, either.. at least as long as you use the loose pants, rather than the silly “panties and stockings” bottom, but that’s a good aspect of the mod, as it caters to all tastes.  A more unfortunate aspect of it is the absurd way it introduces the clothing to the game, and leaves any crafting recipe for it out.  I downloaded another mod to make the stuff craftable straightaway.

For some reason, the pictures of the mod “spoke” to me.  They made the character look like she was dressed casually and comfortably, and they looked practical and easy to move in.  It has a nice variety of colors, and you can mix and match all the parts – speaking of which, because this mod uses more than the normal four body nodes, you can get more enchantments on it than a vanilla armor or clothing set.

There’s something else unusual about this clothing set too – it totally lacks footwear of any kind.  I noticed right away her bare toes poking out, and sure enough, the description of the mod states it has no shoes or boots.  He took the screenshots that show her feet with the footwraps you start the game in as part of your prisoner’s outfit, or else in her bare feet.

This combination, of the comfortable-looking mage outfit and the footwraps somehow just has incredible personality to me.  It’s casual and carefree looking, but still practical as long as you stay away from the stockings and undies.  It’s a little unrealistic to go running around snowy Skyrim in just some footwraps, but I also jump into freezing water, and I can always carry a pair of boots for the cold parts.

Footwraps, being completely worthless, aren’t something it bothers me to add new copies of using the console, either.  I’m not at all averse to using the console for some things, but I try to avoid just blatantly giving myself good stuff.  It destroys the fun of finding loot, if you never need any of it.

I was determined to play a character that dressed in this outfit – which meant I needed a mage of some sort.  I have a plan for a jedi-knight based character, but that one WILL be male; it didn’t fit well with this outfit.

What to do, what to do?

Finally, I decided since I was going with a concept relatively unusual for me, I’d go all the way and do two – I’d make a criminal character as well.  Although I always intend to try out actively criminal characters I somehow never quite seem to get to it.  My stealthy characters, even if they are criminal, always just seem to not steal very much.

The thief-mage combination in Elder Scrolls games has a long tradition in the Nightblade, but this was supposed to be something a bit different.  The Nightblade flirts with the Assassin, and is more of a typical thief that also uses magic, rather than a traditional mage, who also is a thief.

Thus, Katherina was born.  I’m not entirely sure what she’s called.  I was going to call her a Witch Thief, but she’s not a witch, really, not an outcast.  Just a young mage that can’t keep her hands off other people’s things.  She’s in it for herself, for the fun of it, and for her curiosity and comfort.

So far, she’s all kinds of fun, combining enough of what I’m familiar with and like, with enough that’s new to make the game different for me.  It reminded me just how much you can do with Skyrim if you’re willing to go beyond your comfort zone.

Craftsmanship

PI in EVE is technically probably resource gathering rather than industry/crafting proper, but I lump them both in the same category, and part of the reason I like PI is that it’s pretty easy to manage.

I have never gotten deeply into MMO crafting.  PI Alts in EVE are probably as dedicated as I will ever get.  I messed around with it in Everquest II and WoW, but it never really “took hold” for me, despite the promise of riches.

Elder Scrolls Online is turning out to be no different.  It’s not that ESO has bad crafting; I actually like the system pretty well, particularly the motifs for different appearances.  It’s not terribly time consuming, and materials are readily available, at least to make the stuff.  It’s mostly the need for tempers to improve items.

These aren’t exactly hard to come by, but they’re not precisely abundant, either, and I’m in no rush to go out of my way to get more.  This is what’s held up my crafting career in every MMO thus far.

That said, this is not bad.  I am just not a crafter.  ESO gives me incentive to do it to make my own stuff, and more importantly to temper it but I am not going to have an army of crafting alts in ESO lining my pockets any more than I will run some EVE industrial conglomerate.  My corp in EVE is pretty heavily industry oriented, but that just makes me “the PVP guy”.  I’m nothing special at PVP, but BRAVE overall is pretty good, and I can slllloooowwwwllllyyyyy work my way into better knowledge.

One decision that ESO absolutely got right in regard to crafting was the ability to temper and improve any item, not just player-crafted ones.  This gives a value to tradeskills far in excess of the norm for a non-crafter.  I get most of my stuff from drops, so the ability to make them better is invaluable.

This is one of those little things that makes ESO so good in my opinion – the changes and improvements to underlying aspects of the game that give the player choice.  It’s part of what makes ESO one of the most underrated games out there; not enough credit for little innovations.

The PI Alt

Planetary Interaction is something I ignored for the first two-and-a-half to three years of my EVE career – foolishly.  At first, it was something I was only vaguely aware existed, then it was something I kept putting off.  Finally I trained it, and at first I found it rather frustrating – much like research agents, I found it not to really give much return at first.

Then I figured out what I was doing wrong, and got more selective with my planets.  While I’m not getting rich off of it, it certainly supplements things nicely.  My corp runs a small buyback program for those PI commodities needed to make our POS fuel, and except for robotics, I’ve been able to help the corp and help myself at the same time.  When we’re flush on materials, I just sell to the Alliance buyback instead, which also buys up my exploration loot.

Much like PI itself, though, the idea of making a PI alt or two hadn’t occurred to me until recently.  Then, when it did, I instinctively rejected it because it would mean pausing training on my main – and it seems like there’s always something else I need.  Right now it’s Caldari Cruisers V.  But, that had to be finally put off.

Two days ago, my first PI alt set up planets in nullsec.  She has 4 planets right now, and will be able to set up a 5th in a couple days.  Command Center upgrades are at 4.  That’s going to have to hit 5 since she is going to be making robotics, but I probably won’t go for the 6th planet any time soon.  That’s time better spent on a second PI alt.

I wouldn’t presume to write a PI guide.  There are already much better guides than I could ever write out there.  But, I feel that I understand it well enough that now I can feel like I have a good basic income guaranteed anywhere I go.  PI products are highly consumable as ships and sov structures get blown up, and fuel and nanite paste gets used.  Everyone needs the stuff.

With a few careful respecs and about 40 million for skill books, a hauler, and command center upgrades and other construction, 4 or 5 extra planets can be had.  That ought to pay for itself in two weeks or so.

I’m a single-account type of player, and I didn’t use PLEX to dual train.  That might be heresy to some people, but I think it’s time well spent.  It’s a lot easier to lose ships when you don’t feel like every ship you lose means hours of ratting to replace it.