[Top 15] Skyrim Best Builds of All Time

Skyrim Best Builds
This powerful Khajiit character is taking down his enemies one spell at a time.

Tired of always picking up a sword and playing the same type of character in Skyrim?

One of the best things about Skyrim and the RPG genre is the creative freedom you have with your character. You always have the ability to pick and choose between different play styles and make your character whoever you want them to be! With a game that’s been out as long as Skyrim, sometimes you might want to look to the internet for new ideas. Here are 15 great character builds to try out for yourself! 

15. Warrior Mystic

Conjure bound weapons like this stealthy character.  

This build is very flexible, as the type of weapon you fight with isn’t entirely important. What matters is that you are using the magical bound weapons. These are a part of the conjuration school of magic, so that will be your main focus. The main skills you’ll want to sink those perk points into are Conjuration, Alteration, Heavy Armor, One-handed, Two-handed, Archery, and Block. 

What makes this build great:

  • You can choose to master a single type of bound weapon, or you can master them all
  • Bound weapons are powerful, as they are just weightless versions of the non-upgraded Daedric weapons
  • The bound weapons are very easy to get from an early level, with Bound Sword and Bound Battleaxe being available for purchase from Court Wizards from level 1
  • The level of power you get is unmatched in the lower levels, as you’re essentially using Daedric weapons at a much lower level than you could normally
  • Your skills will level up quickly, as casting the spells near enemies levels your Conjuration, but your attacks level the skill of that weapon type
  • In the conjuration skill tree, Soul Stealer grants all of your bound weapons the ability to Soul Trap enemies when killed if you have a large enough soul gem
  • For those taking advantage of the bound bow, you never have to worry about arrows as 100 arrows are summoned each time you summon your bow
  • Bound weapons cannot be disarmed by the Disarm shout, which comes in handy

Warrior Mystic details here

14. Pacifist

Spare your enemies playing as a (slightly) more peaceful character. 

For those looking for a truly unique build for their character, the Pacifist is the way to go. It offers a few play styles so that you can fine-tune your approach to this build. You can choose to be a pacifist in the way of not doing the actual attacking, using Fury or Frenzy to make enemies attack each other. Alternatively, you can focus on a very high sneak level to sneak around enemies. These methods work well combined as one. The skills you want to prioritize vary, especially because you’re not supposed to be doing any attacking. Sneak, Illusion, Restoration, and Alteration is your best bet. 

What makes this build great:

  • The very fun added challenge of having to think of an alternative solution in every combat sequence makes you play the game differently 
  • You only level up with your non-combat skills, which makes you put more thought into each perk point
  • Using Fury or Frenzy to get your enemies to wreak havoc on each other makes you carefully plan out your moves to get enemies within range of each other
  • You can use Calm, Fear, and Turn Undead spells to get enemies off your tail, which in turn will level your Illusion to help you level up 
  • Sneaking around your enemies will level up your Sneak skill, and your character will be leveling up in no time
  • Some players have even attempted to play through the Dark Brotherhood as a Pacifist, which will introduce lots of fun and strategy into your game
  • Focusing on other non-combat skills like Enchanting, Alchemy, and Smithing will help you level up, so those who normally ignore those skills have an incentive to work on them

Pacifist details here.

13. Necromancer

Use Necromancy to bend the world in your favor. 

The Necromancer is a truly evil build, obsessed with powerful magic and immortality. Raise your enemies from the dead and force them to fight alongside you! This character can be played as the sheer opposite from the Pacifist, destroying everyone in your path for your personal gain. The skills you’ll want to focus on here are Conjuration, Destruction, Alteration, Restoration, and Enchanting. It’s also beneficial for your character to have the Vampire Lord form, but that’s up to you. 

What makes this build great:

  • The Necromancer has plenty of power on his own, but that power can increase the more fallen enemies you raise to fight for you
  • Getting the Necromancy perk in the Conjuration skill tree increases the time that your reanimated undead friends fight
  • As a Vampire Lord, using the Blood Magic mode in combat grants you very useful powers for necromancy, including a very powerful Raise Dead spell and a spell to summon a gargoyle to help do your bidding
  • Your character can take advantage of the Necromancer Robes, the Necromancer Amulet, and the Vokun Dragon Priest Mask to cut down on the cost of your Conjuration spells
  • As far as standing stones go, the Ritual stone is a great option for allowing you to raise an unlimited number of zombies within range and keeping them from disintegrating when they die
  • The Soul Tear (Rii Vaaz Zol) shout is perfect for a necromancer: you’ll drain 300 points of health, Soul Trap if you have a gem handy and it resurrects them to fight for you for one minute

Necromancer details here.

12. Paladin 

Wield your sword and shield and become the classic main character of the fantasy genre. 

One of your classic RPG builds, the Paladin generally fights for good and destroying the evil that plagues their land. Of course, you could choose to kill everyone in sight with your sword and shield. The roleplaying aspects are up to you, but I’ll go over some of the highlights for someone wanting to play this build as a destroyer of the evil and undead. Your main skills here are going to be One-handed, Heavy Armor, Block, and Restoration. You’ll want to work on Smithing and Enchanting if you want blessed gear for fighting the undead. 

What makes this build great:

  • If you choose to fight with the classic one-handed weapon and shield, the Amulet of Stendarr will grant you a 10% boost to blocking 
  • If you want to roleplay your Paladin, the bonuses suggested towards undead opponents will make many dungeons easier to complete
  • Silver weapons give you a 20 point increase to your base damage done to skeletons, draugr, and dragon priests 
  • If your character doesn’t mind a deal with a Daedric Prince, Meridia’s sword Dawnbreaker deals 10 points of fire damage and has a chance to create an explosion killing all undead in the area
  • Shields are often forgotten in Skyrim, so playing this build one-handed will allow you to take advantage of the higher level Block perks
  • As this build doesn’t require sneaking, feel free to take advantage of Heavy Armor sets in the game and enchant them to benefit your play style

Paladin details here

11. Cleric

Choose a Divine to devote yourself to and use your magic for the good of Skyrim. 

Continuing the theme of morally good characters, the Cleric focuses more on Restoration magic. The common fantasy trope usually heals their party members, but unless you’re traveling with companions, you’ll mostly be healing yourself. The skills you’re going to want to focus on are Restoration, One-handed, Alteration, Block, and Enchanting.

What makes this build great:

  • For playing as a traditional fantasy Cleric, a mace is a good choice for your primary weapon, while they have the second slowest swing speed of the one-handed weapons they do a few extra points of base damage
  • You can decide to focus solely on magic and use a staff instead of a one-handed weapon
  • As with the Paladin, you can add some extra roleplay value by having your character wear an amulet of the Divine of your choosing 
  • A good choice for your Standing Stone is the Lord Stone, granting a 50 point boost to your armor rating, which is great if you’re wearing robes for the magic 
  • Roleplaying as a standard good Cleric will limit which guilds you can join which can allow you to change up how you normally play
  • Leveling your restoration allows for other cool spells to fight evil, such as Banish Daedra

Cleric details here

10. Bandit

Play as the classic enemy of Skyrim and rob adventures for their riches. 

Most of the Bandit’s appeal is in roleplaying, so if you don’t get too into the story of your character something else on this list might better suit you. Your motivation is to intimidate and steal riches from others. Your main skills will be Two-handed, Heavy Armor, Smithing, Sneak, and Lockpicking. You can play this build without mods, but the Alternate Start mod allows you to start as a bandit in a camp with bandits who will be friendly with you.

What makes this build great:

  • Big focus on unique role-playing if you’re getting bored of the game 
  • You can introduce unique challenges to your playthrough by only being able to get things by stealing 
  • You can include Pickpocketing in your main skills for some variety
  • Lots of room for variety, feel free to switch out Two-handed for One-handed or Archery to suit your taste
  • Being a thief in Skyrim can give you a quick advantage in the game if you are patient enough, especially with lockpicking

Bandit details here.

9. Unarmed Khajiit

Bare your claws and tear up your enemies with this build. 

Khajiits are one of the most underrated races in Skyrim. The main reason for this is their bonus for unarmed attacks. They get a huge bonus from their claws, so a build that focuses on fighting with no weapons is a challenge fit for a Khajiit. There is no real skill tree for unarmed attacks, so your main skills here will be Heavy Armor, Conjuration, Restoration, Smithing, and Enchanting. 

What makes this build great:

  • Khajiits have a base unarmed damage of 10, and their claws add 15 points giving them 25 damage without any perks
  • The huge damage buff for this build comes from the Heavy Armor skill tree, Fists of Steel, which adds the armor rating of your gloves to your damage rating
  • The more you invest into upgrading your gear, especially the gloves, the better your damage will get
  • Investing in Heavy Armor is already essential for this build, as you need all of the protection you can get 
  • Killing Gian the Fist in the Ratway in Riften lets you obtain Gloves of the Pugilist, which you can disenchant for their Fortify Unarmed enchantment to place on rings, gloves, or gauntlets

Unarmed Khajiit details here.

8. Illusion Mage

Fool your foes while using spells they'll never see coming. 

This build focuses solely on the Illusion school of magic, which is often ignored in Skyrim. It’s completely optional, but for this and all of the magic focused builds in this list, I recommend the mod Apocalypse: Magic of Skyrim. Your main skills will be Illusion, Alteration, Speech, and Enchanting. 

What makes this build great:

  • Illusion magic provides unique opportunities, allowing you to use spells like Frenzy to get your enemies to attack each other instead of yourself
  • Illusion allows you to attack enemies undetected while invisible, allowing you to have a better chance with tougher enemies without being a master of sneaking
  • Investing in Alteration allows you to work towards the perk Ebonyflesh to re-enforce your armor, allowing you to bypass Smithing  
  • You can easily train your Illusion skill in a crowded city like Solitude by casting Muffle repeatedly 
  • The Mage stone is a good choice of standing stone for this build

Illusion mage details here.

7. Spellsword

Level your schools of magic and one-handed at the same time just like this Elf.

The Spellsword is considered the best of both worlds. You get the benefits of being a very powerful mage while also getting to be a physical attacker. This build is flexible, with you being able to choose between the schools of magic you favor and your choice of one-handed weapon. Your main skills will most likely be Illusion, Restoration, Alteration, One-handed, and Heavy Armor. 

What makes this build great:

  • As the Spellsword is not your typical mage, you get the protection of Heavy Armor while still using magic to your advantage
  • Depending on the situation, you can switch to dual-wielding spells while still being more protected than your average mage
  • If you want to include Conjuration magic in your build, you can level the skill quickly by using bound weapons as your choice of One-handed weapon
  • Your standing stone is up to you, depending on whether you want to focus more on the physical perks or magic perks
  • Leveling all of your schools of magic at once would allow you to use them all interchangeably to make sure your spells never get boring

Spellsword details here

6. Two-Handed Warrior 

Wield a two-handed weapon to pack the biggest (slightly slower) punch in Tamriel. 

This build focuses on big damage and big defense. As your two-handed weapon doesn’t leave you a hand for a shield, you’ll want to make sure that your armor is up to the task. You can take advantage of blocking with your weapon some, but you’ll want to prepare to absorb some damage. Your main skills for this build are going to be Two-handed, Heavy Armor, Smithing, and Block.

What makes this build great:

  • Two-handed weapons have more range than One-handed, and you’re going to pack some extra damage with Greatswords doing the most
  • Stamina is extremely important in this build for power attacks, so getting an absorb stamina enchantment on your weapon will benefit you greatly
  • Foods like vegetable soup are great to keep on hand as they give you a buff to your stamina regeneration
  • Bashing with your weapon will help to keep you from taking too much damage and give you an edge against your enemies
  • Smithing isn’t required, but the more your armor is upgraded, the more damage you’ll be able to take so you can seek out stronger enemies for a challenge
  • With these weapons swinging slower than one-handed weapons, you’ll have to plan your attacks more than usual, which is great for those who love strategy

Two-Handed Warrior details here

5. Druid

Be one with nature and the animals as you try out this immersive character build. 

The Druid build has wonderful role-playing value and encourages you to bring something on your journey that is often overlooked: an animal companion. Whether you have a war dog or a creature companion added in the DLC, this animal will be your helper and your connection to nature. From a role-playing perspective, Bosmer, Khajiit, or even Argonian works best for this build. Your main skills will be Alteration, Illusion, One-handed, and Alchemy. Feel free to sub in Archery if that fits your forest theme better. 

What makes this build great:

  • Your nature-themed background could give you the challenge of not killing any wildlife, instead using shouts and spells to tame and command the creatures around you
  • Your animal companion can be a great aide in your battles
  • Your focus on illusion allows you to influence the minds of the creatures around you
  • Druids typically have a staff in one hand and the other free for spells or a weapon. These are often overlooked so focusing on always having your staff charged can introduce a unique challenge
  • You can opt for your druid to dabble in Lycanthropy, only using your wolf form as a last resort 

Druid details here.  

4.Vampire Slayer

Lead the Dawnguard in the task of wiping Skyrim clean from vampires. 

With this build, you will protect the people of Skyrim from vampires and make it your job to destroy them all. This does have the Dawnguard DLC in mind, as their faction is the one you want to join. Your main skills here will be One-handed, Enchanting, Restoration, Light Armor, and Archery if you want to use the signature crossbows of the Dawnguard. 

What makes this build great: 

  • The Dawnbreaker sword from Meridia’s Daedric quest will give you an edge against your undead enemies
  • A side quest in your faction questline grants you the Dawnguard Rune Axe, a one-handed axe that adds a unique Sun damage to the undead
  • Conjured undead such as Bonemen can be used to power the enchantment on the Dawnguard Rune Axe, allowing you to increase its power
  • A minor focus on stealth will allow you to sneak up on your enemies for extra damage, especially from a distance with the crossbow 
  • Lots of room for challenges, such as trying to kill every vampire you run across in your playthrough
  • You can even decide to be a full-on defender of all things good, killing the Dark Brotherhood as well 

Vampire Slayer details here

3. True Mage

Become the wisest mage in all of Skyrim by mastering all of the schools of magic. 

One of the most challenging build types in Skyrim is the True Mage. Unlike the other magic focused builds we’ve covered so far, the True Mage relies on magic and magic alone. For the stat buffs, you’ll probably want to choose an Altmer or a Breton for this build. Your main stats for this build will be Destruction, Alteration, Restoration, and Conjuration. As this is completely reliant on spells, I once again recommend Apocalypse: Magic of Skyrim for more spells and improvements but this build is still good without mods. 

What makes this build great:

  • Some schools of magic are used for benefits in other builds, but the True Mage will force you to expand your knowledge and use spells for every occasion 
  • This goes without saying, but you’re going to want to sink a lot of points during your early levels into Magicka
  • Enchanting is a good skill to invest in so that you can give as much of your gear as you can buffs for your Magicka points and regeneration 
  • The Mage stone will be your best choice in the beginning, for a 20% increase to your XP for magic skills Later in the game you can choose a standing stone that makes up best for whatever you feel your weakest point is 
  • The Aetherial Crown in the Dawnguard DLC lets your benefit from two standing stones which would help boost your stats even more
  • The College of Winterhold is great for the True Mage to join, and the Archmage’s Quarters are a great resource for those who are into Alchemy 

True Mage details here

2. Dual-Wield Assassin 

Become as powerful as this assassin and your enemies will be dead before they even know you're there.

This build utilizes two one-handed weapons and a lot of stealth. Gaining perks through the Sneak skill tree is one of the best ways to increase your damage in the game. You have options for your one-handed weapons depending on your preference. The main skills you’ll want here are One-handed, Sneak, Light Armor, and Enchanting. 

What makes this build great: 

  • You may want to start with dual swords at first since early damage with daggers is so low, but the Sneak skill tree has the perk Assassin’s blade which makes daggers do 15x more damage with sneak attacks
  • Joining the Dark Brotherhood for the Shrouded Gloves stacks the 15x from the perk above giving you 30x more damage all together 
  • Sneaking will be your defense, so your gameplay needs to be slow and calculated to best your enemies 
  • Joining the Dark Brotherhood is a great way to make money for your character, which is good if you’d rather buy enchanted gear instead of enchanting it yourself 
  • Wearing a matching set of light armor with the right perks will give you better defense and keep your enemies clueless 

Dual-Wield Assassin details here

1.Stealth Archer 

The famed archer decked out in Nightingale armor, perfectly fitting for this stealthy build. 

The Stealth Archer is one of the most popular builds in all of Skyrim. Much like the previously mentioned assassin, sneaking is your primary focus. However, with this build, you’ll be able to take down your enemies from great distances. What feels better than watching your arrow travel great lengths to one-shot an enemy hundreds of feet away? Your main skills will be Archery, Sneak, Light Armor, Smithing, and Enchanting. This is my all-time favorite way to play Skyrim for many reasons. 

What makes this build great:

  • A good race to choose for this build would be Bosmer or Khajiit, with a +10 to Archery for the Bosmer and a +10 to Sneak for the Khajiit
  • A sneaky way to level your Archery is to get Faendal in Riverwood to be your follower by doing his small quest, then train in Archery and take your gold back each time
  • Archery remains pretty skill-based even in the later levels, because no matter how good your perks are you have to learn how to aim quickly and accurately 
  • The fortify archery enchantment can be placed on lots of gear slots to boost your damage
  • If you are open to some Conjuration, a bound bow can be used in a pinch if you’re low on arrows, as it has 100 arrows each time it is conjured 
  • The Thief stone is recommended until your main skills are leveled, as this stone applies a 20% boost to all of your important skills
  • Lots of unique bows to choose from in the game, allowing you to favor draw speed, accuracy, or overall damage. 

Stealth Archer details here

You may also be interested in:

More on this topic:

As she continues to level up in life, Lyric has made it her goal is to discover every realm of gaming and write her way through her journey.
Gamer Since: 2003
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Genshin Impact
Top 3 Favorite Games:Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Tomb Raider, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn

More Top Stories