Skyrim Nightblade Build

part three

In previous sections, we were focused almost entirely on selecting our skills and perks. Part One covered what are in my opinion a nightblade’s core skills, and Part Two covered my nightblade’s “supplemental” skills. Skills and perks are what make up a class, and so I felt these were important to establish before moving on.

This third section will include a bit of discussion about everything else: which races are best for a nightblade, the spells a nightblade uses, equipment considerations, and a few miscellaneous notes.

Which Race Should My Nightblade Be?

Before I say anything about race, I want to point out that you can pick any of the races and still be effective. Make sure the race you choose matches your aesthetic tastes. For example, I’m not going to recommend you play an Orc nightblade, but it’s completely fine to do so.

With that said, there are a few races that offer tangible benefits for a nightblade.

High elves might offer the most direct benefits to an aspiring nightblade. They receive +50 to magicka as a permanent, passive bonus. They can also activate an ability called Highborn once per day, which grants massive magicka regeneration for 60 seconds. They start off with an extra ten points in Illusion, their favored skill. They also receive +5 to Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Enchanting, and Restoration. Lastly, they are unique in that they start off with the Illusion spell Fury for free. All in all, it’s easy to see why High Elves make excellent nightblades. Every single one of their unique abilities and bonuses will benefit us. Interestingly, they also have a slightly faster movement speed than other races, due to their longer legs.

Bretons are another strong possibility for the aspiring nightblade. While High Elves’ abilities enhance their magical offense, Bretons’ abilities enhance their magical defense. Their passive ability is a 25% resistance to all magic.1 Their active ability, Dragonskin, provides 50% spell absorbtion for 60 seconds once per day. This is similar to the Atronach perk and standing stone, and stacks with them. They start off with +10 to Conjuration, and +5 to Alteration, Illusion, and Restoration.2 The Conjuration bonus is helpful if you plan to rely on Bound Bow in the early game.

High Elves and Bretons may be the strongest choices, but there are a few aspects of other races worth examining. Dark Elves receive a 50% resistance to fire, which will counteract the extra vulnerability to fire that vampirism will impose. They receive bonuses to several relevant skills, including Destruction, Alteration, Illusion, and Sneak.

My first iteration of the nightblade was actually an Imperial. Their passive ability, Imperial Luck, is pretty superfluous. I ended up with far more gold than I needed.3 The Voice of the Emperor ability, however, is quite useful early on. It’s an extremely powerful version of the Pacify spell that you can use once per day.4 One of your best tactics as a nightblade will be to calm a room full of enemies and assassinate them one at a time. However, you may from time to time encounter enemies too powerful for your Illusion magic, especially early on. If these high level enemies are people, this ability is the perfect fallback.

You can choose any race and do well as a nightblade. However, my current preference for my nightblade is Breton.

Sample Perk Allocation

We’ve already discussed perks in a general sense in Part One and Part Two. Here I’ll just give you a specific sample build based on those principles. Since not everyone keeps playing a character all the way to level 81, I’ll also include allocations for levels 25 and 50 to give you an idea of what your nightblade should look like at those levels.

There’s just one last thing I’ll note before we get to the sample perk choices. When charting out my nightblade’s perks, I used my very own iPhone app, SkyChart, which is available on the app store right now.5 Any opportunity for shameless self-advertising, you know? :)

If the text is too small, you can click on the images to see larger versions.

Nightblade Level 25

I’ve made a few changes and refinements since writing up Parts One and Two. The most notable change is perhaps the small investment into Conjuration. I’ll explain this choice in the Notes section down below.

At level 25, our nightblade is just starting to become dangerous. Achieving Assassin’s Blade early and investing about three perk points into Armsman enables significant damage output with our blade. Quiet Casting means enemies won’t hear us summon bound weapons, or any of our other spells. We have Impact for difficult solo enemies who are unaffected by our Illusion spells. And, speaking of our Illusion spells, they’re becoming quite powerful thanks to our perks in that tree so far (especially Illusion Dual Casting). Our bound weapons are considerably more powerful thanks to Mystic Binding, and Necromage is ready to bolster our vampirism, should we choose that path.

Notably absent at this point is any sort of investment in Enchanting perks. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been practicing up our enchanting! It just means that, at level 25, we’re not really going to be good enough at it yet to use any of the items we create. And if we’re not going to use them, there’s no sense investing in perks to augment them yet.

Nightblade Level 50

By level 50, we have just about everything we need. We have all of the key One-handed perks. We’ve added the key Enchanting perks (and we’re actually using some of our own creations). We’ve picked up Soulstealer so we can steal souls with style. Our fire spells are at maximum power. We have Magic Resistance. Perhaps the most important addition is Master of the Mind. We take it as soon as our Illusion skill allows, and consequently, we no longer fear hordes of undead.

Nightblade Level 81

After level 50 there are just a few more perks that are important. The completion of the Alteration tree (minus Mage Armor) is our first step, mainly because of Atronach. Also, it’s likely that you won’t wear a ton of Alteration-boosting gear, and we still want to be able to cast Dragonhide and Mass Paralysis. Mass Paralysis is particularly fun when used right before Blizzard followed by Fire Storm. We end up completing the Lightning finger of the Destruction tree; its benefit to Lightning Storm is very nice, especially when fighting dragons. Disintegrate is one of the few perks that actually gets more effective as you increase the difficulty level, as it’s based on a percentage of the enemy’s health.6

The rest of my choices at this level are really just frosting, and you can replace them with whatever you want. I picked up Arcane Blacksmith so that I could marginally improve my artifacts and other non-custom enchanted gear. A foray into Speech because I wanted my nightblade to be charismatic. Restoration has been filled out a bit. Recovery helps with the stunted regeneration faced by vampires during daylight hours. I added Fire Enchanter so that I could superfluously enhance my dagger.

You get the idea.

A Nightblade’s Favorite Spells


This school of magic is essential to the nightblade. Remember, there are two levels of investment to choose from: the minimal, stealth-enhancing approach and the complete illusionist approach. We decided in Part One that we would dive into the deep end and invest fully in Illusion magic.

Calming spells. Calming spells are the variety I use most often. As you flit from shadow to shadow, slitting throats, you may draw some attention (especially in your pre-invisibility days). You can use calming spells like Calm and Pacify to put your enemies into a sort of trance. They’ll meander about sedately for a time. You can then choose either to ignore them and see to more pressing business, or—more likely—to quiet them permanently.

Frenzy spells. Spells like Fury and Frenzy can be a lot of fun. Create chaos on the battlefield, forcing your enemies against one another. Champions will inevitably emerge, until just one man is (barely) left standing. You’ll put him down in short order. After you’ve truly mastered the art of stealth and invisibility, you can stroll through the chaos untouched, focusing on more important objectives like destroying their leader or recovering artifacts.

Stealth spells. If you’ve decided to modify my build to include only the minimum required Illusion magic, Muffle and Invisibility are the only two spells you need. Together, these spells make remaining unheard and unseen a cakewalk. You’ll be able to creep around with impunity, ending lives as you please. If you decide to show mercy to an entire dungeon’s worth of enemies, that’s fine too. Maybe they’re not worth your time. Just walk past them. These two spells are at the core of every nightblade.

I’ve not mentioned fear spells here because I don’t tend to use them very often. The handful of times that I have used them, it’s been fun, and so I’ve resolved to use them more in the future. Perhaps I’ll report back later with new insights.


Our nightblade doesn’t do much Conjuration magic. The Bound Weapon spells are the only exception. Bound Bow is quite powerful in the early game. However, I’ve made a note down below about why I would avoid overusing this spell. Bound Dagger has become one of my favorites. It’s a spell added in by the Dragonborn DLC, and it’s my primary method of collecting souls to power my enchanting (which of course requires the Soulstealer perk). I invested in Quiet Casting and Soulstealer so that I could summon my bound dagger without being detected. Then I materialize from the shadows and steal the souls of my enemies with style.7


Destruction magic is what a nightblade turns to when the situation calls for direct force. As mentioned in Part Two, you should choose an element, possibly two, that you like best. I like fire and lightning, personally, and I ended up including both eventually.

I recommend using pretty much all of the Destruction spells. Which you use at any given time depends of course on the situation. Keep in mind, though, that a nightblade tends toward solutions most clever. He takes satisfaction from indirectness. He’s capable of hurling fireballs and bolts of lightning just as well as any mage, but these methods of killing are usually a last resort. Distasteful, almost. With that said, here are a few tactics you may find useful.

  • Dual casted rune spells are often overlooked but they’re really quite powerful for an Apprentice-level spell. And they fit in nicely with stealth and Illusion strategies. For example, if you’ve snuck into a chamber full of several powerful enemies, it might be prudent to place a rune before assassinating one of them—especially if you have any doubts as to whether you’ll be able to retreat back into the shadows. When the others come running, a 110 damage explosion will be there to greet them.8
  • While enemies are under the influence of a Frenzy spell and busy killing each other, why not help speed the process by painting the ground beneath their feet with a Wall of Flames?
  • From time to time, you may encounter a single powerful enemy too strong for your Illusion spells. If you’ve chosen to take the Impact perk, you can keep the villain at bay by hurling dual casted firebolts. Firebolt is one of the most mana efficient spells, so you can keep up the barrage for quite a while. The force of each impact will keep them from charging at you.9
  • A difficulty faced by many magic-users is that casting Master-level spells takes a little time, leaving them vulnerable to attack. This is particularly a problem for Master-level Destruction magic because they require a certain amount of proximity to one’s enemies. The nightblade, with his mastery of stealth and invisibility, is able to overcome this with ease. If he wants to destroy a roomful of enemies with a Firestorm, for example, he can stroll to the center of the room while invisible, gather his power, and unleash hell. If something manages to survive, he can simply wink out of view with another Invisibility spell.


Restoration is important for three reasons: healing, Necromage, and wards. If you plan on facing a lot of undead before you have the Master of the Mind perk, Necromage is invaluable. Become a vampire, and it’s even more crucial. I recommend using Restoration magic as your primary source of healing to level up your Restoration skill.

Healing spells. Start out with Healing and then graduate quickly to Fast Healing. Eventually you’ll switch up to Close Wounds, and I found that to be adequate for my purposes from then on. You won’t have an enormous pool of health to fill.

Ward spells. Ward spells are obviously useful against enemy mages, but they are also great for stopping dragon breath and shouts. Interestingly, Lesser Ward can block even the most powerful of dragon attacks. Dragon breath attacks are actually a continuous stream of low damage attacks, and so they never quite pierce the ward. However, for powerful enemy mages, you’ll need something more robust. Steadfast Ward and then later Greater Ward can be amazing when used effectively, especially once you’ve got the Ward Absorb perk.

Last, I do want to mention Poison Rune. It’s a bit odd that this is a Restoration spell. I have not had a chance to really test it thoroughly, but I think it has a lot of great potential when combined with the disabling effects of Illusion magic (and of course Paralysis).


Alteration is tricky to level up naturally because we don’t use the armor spells. But it’s important to do so eventually because we want to take advantage of Magic Resistance and Atronach. I found Telekinesis to be useful for this,10 as well as the detection spells.

Paralysis spells. In the vanilla game, you had to wait until the Expert level to start casting this type of spell. With the Dragonborn DLC, you can get started at the Adept level (at least sort of). It added the spells Ash Shell and Ash Rune, which function similarly to the other paralysis spells with one important exception: you cannot damage enemies encased in an ash shell. Paralysis and Mass Paralysis are a great deal more useful, and I use them a lot. There’s a certain irresistible satisfaction to watching an enemy stiffen and drop to the ground like a discarded two-by-four. Try combining Mass Paralysis with Firestorm and/or Blizzard.

Utility spells. Alteration is a bit unique in that it encompasses a bunch of random spells. Transmute is a fun spell for leveling Alteration and making a little extra cash. Waterbreathing is in theory very useful, but I think I used it a total of three times in an entire playthrough. Detect Living and Detect Dead I found to be quite useful for getting an idea of what I was up against, and I think they are very “nightbladey.” If you use any lighting mods, Candlelight and Magelight may be essential to playing the game (unless you carry a lot of torches).

Dragonhide probably won’t be something you use often, especially once you’ve mastered armorless play, but it’s quite powerful in certain situations.


There really isn’t one set way of outfitting your nightblade. There are many good options, and I’ll just mention some of them here.


This is a key consideration for a nightblade (obviously). As with all of the equipment, you can choose to use either in-game stuff or create your own at the enchanting table.

Early on, before you have the Assassin’s Blade perk, you can really use swords as well as daggers. After getting the Assassin’s Blade perk, you need to be carrying at least one dagger at all times (this might be a Bound Dagger).

The Blade of Woe. The Blade of Woe was for a time the most powerful dagger in the game with respect to base damage (it’s 12). Its enchantment is mediocre, though, providing only 10pts of Absorb Health. It’s also the heaviest dagger at 7lbs, and therefore the slowest dagger to swing. Swing speed doesn’t really matter for sneak attacks though. Outclassed in my opinion by a custom-enchanted Dragonbone Dagger. Acquisition hint: Dark Brotherhood.

Mehrunes' Razor
Mehrunes’ Razor

Mehrunes’ Razor. With a base damage of 11, Mehrunes’ Razor is as potent as a Daedric Dagger. It’s also half the weight, making it much quicker to swing. And the swing speed of this dagger is especially important because of its unique enchantment: It has a small chance to instantly kill your enemy with every strike. The more strikes, the more chances to kill. This is my favorite in-game dagger. Acquisition hint: Visit the museum in Dawnstar.

Custom daggers. Mehrunes’ Razor is my favorite dagger that you find in-game, but it is probably surpassed by many daggers you can create yourself. With the addition of Dragonbone weapons in Dawnguard, you can get ahold of an unenchanted dagger with a base damage equal to the Blade of Woe yet a half pound lighter in weight. Then, you can enchant it to your heart’s content. Some combinations (once you get the Extra Effect perk) include: Fire + Shock,11 Absorb Health + Fire/Shock, Paralyze + Fire, etc. You can have a lot of fun creating different combos.

Even though Dragonbone daggers are the most powerful with respect to base damage, they are also quite a bit slower to swing than other daggers. I find that I like the look of the Ebony dagger quite a lot, and it weighs 1.5 pounds less. You sacrifice 2 damage, but swing faster. If you really want to swing fast, use a Skyforge Steel dagger. It combines the damage of an Elven dagger (8) with the weight of an ordinary Steel dagger (2.5). Perhaps the most important factor in choosing a dagger weight is what enchantments you put on it. If your enchantments would benefit from striking more frequently, err on the lighter side. If they wouldn’t, and you tend to always sneak attack, the weight doesn’t matter so much.


One of the nice things about not being dependent on armor is that you can basically wear whatever you want, from rags to platemail. One of the things I struggled with, though, is finding something I like the look of.

Nightingale Armor
Nightingale Armor

Nightingale. The Nightingale armor set is the best-looking armor for a nightblade, I think. It fits the shadowy aesthetic perfectly. However, looks aside, the stats are so-so, especially considering that we don’t really care about armor rating. You can look at the stats of the full set here. The Muffle effect is superfluous because of the Muffle + Invisibility spell combo, and the Lockpicking bonus just isn’t very useful. The stamina bonus is marginally handy. Frost Resistance of 50% is alright, and if you combine it with vampirism, you won’t worry much at all about frost damage. For some reason, enchantments that boost One-handed do not affect daggers, which sucks for us. (I’ve heard rumors that this has been fixed by a patch.) The Illusion bonus is the only enchantment that really targets our nightblade’s priorities, and yet we could create a stronger enchantment ourselves. Ah, well. It still looks really good. Aquisition hint: Thieves Guild.

Master Robes. The Master Robes of either Destruction or Illusion are pretty good during the early-middle years. Acquisition hint: Buy them.

Archmage’s Robes. I wore the Archmage’s Robes for several levels after getting them. The description says: “All spells cost 15% less to cast, +50 magicka, and magicka regenerates 100% faster.” They filled a certain gap during which my enchanting abilities weren’t good enough to supply a better looking substitute. To clarify, I don’t think the Archmage Robes are all that bad looking. I just don’t think they fit my image of a nightblade. Rather, they seem designed to fit the pure mage aesthetic. Acquisition hint: The College.

Custom outfit. I think the problem with the Nightingale armor also applies to most of the in-game armor, really. None of the enchantments are as good as we could ourselves create. Therefore, my recommendation (if you’re concerned about power) is to find something unenchanted that you like the look of. Then, once you’re good enough at enchanting, create your own set. An added bonus of this approach is that you can name the items yourself. For example, the “Exalted Bathrobe of Lazarus” is an artifact of unmatched power…

Enchantments that you might consider favoring include:

  • Enchantments that reduce casting costs. The Destruction school benefits especially well from this.
  • Fortify Magicka. In general, favor this over enchantments that fortify the Magicka regeneration rate).
  • Resist Shock. Very helpful for protecting your mana pool from Storm Mages.
  • Resist Magic. When combined with the Resist Magic and Atronach perks, you become quite scary indeed to enemy mages.

Rather than aim for 100% reduction in casting costs for just one school, I tend to reduce the casting cost by a lesser amount for two or three. This way, we can chain Master-level spells from different schools.

Sorry to leave this section so vague, but there really are a ton of very satisfying possibilities. If you come up with some good outfits that you’d like to share, please feel free to comment.

Soul Gems

Soul gems are an important commodity for the nightblade. You can buy them from most mages, or find them in dungeons. A good place to look are Dwemer ruins, especially on the remains of the automatons. Perhaps the best place to find them is a small cave called Blackreach. Within, you’ll find veins of ore called geode veins. You can mine these for soul gems.

I won’t reveal quest details, but there exists a soul gem that is indestructible. You can use it an infinite number of times. Its exact nature depends on the choices you make while obtaining it. You will either receive Azura’s Star or The Black Star.

Azura’s Star is an indestructible grand soul gem. The Black Star is an indestructible black soul gem. As you may know, black soul gems can do everything a grand soul gem can do, plus more. This makes the Black Star the optimal choice if your choice is governed purely by power considerations. Of course, there may be additional factors to consider…

Whichever you decide, an indestructible soul gem is a significant boon for a nightblade. Between enchanting and recharging our daggers and staves, our soul costs are high. Having a guaranteed place to store at least one soul is kind of essential. I’d even go as far as to say that you can’t call yourself a true professional nightblade without one of these babies. Acquisition hint: Go to the Shrine of Azura.


We’re just about done. To wrap up, here are a few general notes about playing the nightblade. If, after reading through these notes, you still have questions (or suggestions), please let me know.

Attribute Allocation

Our nightblade will focus almost entirely on increasing Magicka, but Health and Stamina will see increases as well. I won’t include an exact breakdown, but in general, don’t go much past 200 in either Health or Stamina. My nightblade worked just fine with a maximum Health of 200 and a maximum Stamina of 160. That much Magicka may seem like overkill, especially with enchanted equipment that’ll reduce your casting costs, but being able to chain Master-level spells from different schools is very satisfying. Try out different combinations of Dragonhide, Mass Paralysis, Firestorm, Blizzard, and Mayhem.


Our nightblade wears no armor and doesn’t invest in any of the Mage Armor perks. This creates a different style of game that you might not be used to playing. I was recently playing my first heavily armored character,12 and I was struck by how different things were. I could actually take a hit and not die! The nightblade isn’t like that, especially on higher difficulties. True, Dragonhide changes things for short periods of time, but it’s only available in the late game.

Anyway, what I want to say about this is to stick with it. It requires an adjustment, and some added skill on the part of the player, but it adds an extra level of intensity to the game that I find to be quite fun. Stealth becomes extra important, as does the timing of your spells. You’ll find yourself using sprint for more than just faster travel across Skyrim. You’ll use it in battle to cover very short distances, repositioning yourself, running around a corner, or charging a mage at that critical moment before his mana regenerates.

Just practice a little, try some new tactics. After a while, things will click for you, and you’ll enjoy the new element it adds to the game.

Dealing with Undead

One of the major challenges for a young nightblade is undead, especially if you’ve mostly been focusing on Illusion magic to deal with your enemies. There are a few things I can recommend.

First off, avoid fighting undead when possible (until you’ve achieved Master of the Mind in Illusion). There are a few questlines that involve very little undead. Unfortunately, the College questline isn’t one of them.

Second, don’t neglect your Destruction magic. Undead seem to be particularly vulnerable to fire spells. If you couple Augmented Flames with Necromage, and throw in Impact for good measure, you should be well-equipped to at least survive most encounters with undead. Don’t forget to open with a sneak attack whenever possible.

Lastly, don’t neglect your shouts. Once all three words are unlocked, Fus Ro Dah can be a lifesaver, especially early on.

The Nightblade’s Favorite Shouts

Unrelenting force is amazing, but some of my nightblade’s favorite shouts include: Aura Whisper, Become Ethereal, and my personal favorite, Slow Time. Unleash Slow Time and then dance from foe to foe, cutting with your blade. Cast a volley of fireballs in rapid succession, then become invisible and wait for the glorious explosions. I wanted to like Marked for Death and Drain Vitality, but they lack power. Soul Tear is worth mentioning though, because, well, it’s awesome.

About Bound Bow

In a comment on Part Two of this build, Ozie Asghar suggested adding Bound Bow to the build. He writes:

… would there be space in the build to use a bound bow? The spell is relatively easy to obtain and even early game without the Mystic Binding Perk this bow is extremely strong and fits into the “Nightblade” idea as it is a weightless weapon that has increased damage with sneak attacks. Also by just getting two perk points in Conjuration this bow would be be as powerful as it’s Daedric Counterpart and it’s damage can scale further with Archery Perks.

I’ve now had a chance to experiment with Bound Bow quite a bit. It is indeed quite a powerful addition to the build. In fact, it is so powerful that I found myself using it basically all the time. I hardly ever casted any Destruction spells, and even dagger assassinations had become rare. I was constantly tempted to quit investing in Destruction and One-handed perks and instead invest in Archery.

Rather than radically change my nightblade’s perk allocation and playstyle, I’ve decided that extensive use of Bound Bow should instead be relegated to a different build. A “sister-build” to the nightblade. I’m tentatively calling this build the Arcane Archer, and I may post it later if you are interested in seeing what I’ve come up with.

However, I was unable to convince myself to remove the bound weapon perks entirely, especially with the addition of Bound Dagger in the Dragonborn DLC. So, the nightblade still ventures down that branch of the Conjuration tree.

Early in the game, at higher difficulty levels, the nightblade might use the Bound Bow occasionally. He may use it in the late game once in a while too, to harvest souls or to banish summoned/raised creatures. But beware straying too far from the path of the nightblade. If you find yourself enjoying the bow a great deal (and it is quite enjoyable), it is far better to admit this as early as possible, abandon the nightblade build, and forge headlong into the domain of the Arcane Archer!

Bound Dagger vs. Real Dagger

As much as I’ve come to love the Bound Dagger for its weightless and mystical nightblade-ish-ness, it is really only my first choice of daggers during a certain window of the time. Before you’ve invested in the Mystic Binding perk, it lacks power. And without the quiet casting perk, it is too hard to summon without alerting your victims. Once you’ve gotten these two perks, it becomes a whole lot better. Then, a handful of levels later, it starts to lose its luster once again. You’ll want to replace it with a more powerful dagger, with enchantments and such. The ebony dagger is one of my favorites, as far as looks go.

However, I never stopped using Bound Dagger entirely, and that’s because of the Soulstealer perk. Stealing a victim’s soul as you assassinate them from behind with a knife you’ve just conjured from Oblivion is a very nightblade-like thing to do.

To Be or Not to Be (a Vampire)?

From a power-seeking perspective, the choice for a nightblade to become a vampire is an easy one. Vampires receive a 25% bonus to both Illusion and Sneak, two of our core skills. Our aptitude for stealth means that it’s easy for us to stay fed without getting caught. Vampire’s Sight, the vampire version of Night Eye, is very useful if you use realistic lighting mods.13

But the most compelling factor in favor of becoming a vampire is, of course, the Necromage perk. Here’s the official description of Necromage: “All spells are more effective against undead.” This is a big deal, because when you become a vampire, you become undead. And it turns out that this affects many calculations that the game makes, not just spells. Examples include: shouts, enchanted equipment, standing stones, and even subsequently purchased perks. All will receive a 25% increase in power and a 50% increase in duration. Since I advocate taking Necromage as soon as possible anyway, becoming a vampire is an enticing proposition for a nightblade.

However, there’s more to this decision than all that. It’s important to look at the disadvantages to becoming a vampire as well. Most obvious are the daytime difficulties faced by vampires. Between the hours of 5am and 7pm, their health, stamina, and magicka is reduced when outdoors, and regeneration for those attributes is stunted 100%. Unless you have an enhanced regeneration rate, your fighting ability during the day will be severely limited without potions. In addition, vampires are more vulnerable to fire, and they become moreso the longer they go without feeding.

A final nontrivial factor is whether or not you want to, well, be a vampire. For some of us, the best part of playing Skyrim is creating the story of our character. It could very well be that the story of your nightblade does not include being a vampire. Whether your nightblade is the kind of person that would embrace vampirism is for you to decide. Does it fit the story you want to tell? In my opinion, this is always the most important question to ask.

So, it’s up to you. There’s a lot of fun to be had either way. And don’t worry about being underpowered if you decide not to be a vampire; you won’t be.

A Fun Way to Deal With Mages

Ever since Tolfdir first impressed upon me the importance of ward spells, they’ve been some of my favorites. At least, in concept. However, I’ve consistently found that enemy mages are quite a lot better at using them than I am. Even when I’m bringing my ‘A’ game, many of my magical altercations quickly devolve into stalemates. I shoot you with lightning, it hits your ward, you shoot me with a spike of ice, it hits mine, etc. This goes on until I run out of mana and my ward goes down and I take an icicle to the face. Ugh.

Using wards against mages is far from innovative thinking. But put a dagger in your other hand, and things get interesting. Enemy wards don’t block daggers nearly as well as they block lighting bolts. Plus, the dagger’s attack speed is quick, and if it’s enchanted, you can pump out a lot of damage in a short amount of time. All the while, the frustrated mage’s spells are blocked by your own ward.

In general, I’ve found this technique to be far superior to the traditional approach in one-on-one mage battles.

That’s My Nightblade, Now Make Yours

The perfect mix of stealth, cunning, intellect, and pyrotechnics, all cloaked in the darkest of shadows. Whether kind-hearted or evil to the core, it makes no difference. He inspires palpable terror in all who are foolish enough to become his enemy.

The nightblade will always be one of my favorite character archetypes in the Elder Scrolls universe. I hope this rendition is interesting to you, and that if you decide to create your own, you have as much fun as I did with mine.

Before I go, I just can’t stop myself from mentioning my app one more time. It’s just that I’m so proud of how it turned out :) It’s called SkyChart, and it’s available for iPhone on the App Store.

  1. This is actually my favorite racial ability. An extra 25% magic resistance is a big deal. If you take all three ranks of Magic Resistance in the Alteration tree, you’ll have a total magic resistance of 55% before any items or standing stones enter the equation. 

  2. Bretons also receive a +5 bonus to Alchemy and Speech, which aren’t as relevant to this build. 

  3. If you are using the Hearthfire DLC, you can end up sinking a lot of gold into your house(s). So the Imperial Luck ability might be more useful in that case. 

  4. Voice of the Emperor has a radius of 75ft and affects non-creature enemies up to level 99. And it’s available at level 1! 

  5. For some reason, all my reviews disappeared. I was averaging 4.5 stars, and some people had some very nice things to say about it. I hope Apple restores them eventually. In the meantime, if you happen to download my app, and if you happen to like it, I would really appreciate it if you’d take a second to leave a review. I know that when I come across an app with no reviews, I think twice before I download it. I hope you’ll consider vouching for my app. 

  6. The Disintegrate perk is not actually beneficial to Lightning Storm because this Master-level spell already carries this effect whether you have the perk or not. It’s still worthwhile for Chain Lightning and the others though. On the other hand, the +50% damage gained by spending two points in Augmented Shock is very applicable to Lightning Storm. It takes it from 75 damage per second up to 112 damage per second. 

  7. I was having an issue where the soul stealing animation wouldn’t play when I used bound weapons with the Soulstealer perk. I ended up creating my own (very small) mod to correct this. If you’re experiencing the same issue, let me know and I’ll share my solution with you. 

  8. A fire rune will actually deal 121 damage. 110 immediately, and then another 11 when they catch fire. 

  9. If you have concerns about your accuracy against a moving target, you can use Lightning Bolt instead. It’s less mana efficient, but travels to its target instantly. 

  10. Sadly, this is the only practical use I’ve found for this spell. It’s such a cool mechanic to play with; I wish they would’ve found a way to integrate it with the actual game more. 

  11. Combining fire and lightning enchantments on the same weapon while also having the Destruction perks Augmented Flames and Augmented Shock is very effective. From UESP:

    Elemental effects are affected by the appropriate Destruction perks. If you have an elemental effect and the corresponding Destruction perk(s), and a second effect, the perk(s) affect both effects. If you have two elemental effects and their corresponding Destruction perks, both perks apply multiplicatively to both effects, giving up to a x2.25 multiplier.

  12. He’s a Sorcerer in the style of the previous Elder Scrolls games. Heavy Armor, strong focus on Enchanting, lots of Conjuration. If I feel like he’s awesome enough, I’ll write up the build. 

  13. I use Climates of Tamriel and Realistic Lighting Overhaul. If you’re not a PC player, my heart goes out to you.