I'm just getting started in the world of Skyrim as high elf at level 13. I'm trying to build up my character as a pure mage, but my poor magicka pool and weak armor is proving to be such a huge handicap on me I started wondering if I've done anything wrong.

I wear half/half heavy/light armors to balance HP and MP. In battle, my magicka usually completely drains within 10s with some firebolts, and even faster if I summon a flame Atronach, which dies pretty fast. Then I'll be stuck at an awkward point where I'm too crisp to get close up, and magicka regens too slow to rebulid another round of attack, and all I can do is stand there and watch my follower die. The only way to avoid this is drink a lot of magic potions, which are quite expensive.

Another popular post has given some really interesting suggestions such as magic reduction but it seems to involve enchantments and perks acquired later in the game, which I do not have. What should I do to enhance my combat?

  • 2
    Are you doing the College questline? You get some good loot pretty quickly for a mage - IIRC you'll find the first chunk of the Gaulder amulet in Sarthaal which offers a +30 magicka bonus. Also get a staff and don't forget about scrolls. Mar 11, 2014 at 15:08
  • illusion and fury/frenzy is your friend. Its perhaps the most cost effective spell for dealing with groups of enemies.
    – l I
    Mar 11, 2014 at 16:49
  • 1
    In addition to doing the College questline, I think the Civil War questline is quite easy (the easiest, I think), and holds pretty decent rewards for the lower levels. That would help you gain XP to level up and unlock perks.
    – SaintSix_
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:31
  • If you have the unofficial skyrim patch the Archmage's robes in the Archmage's room is free for you to take, even if it is "stolen". Nobody seems to care if you steal it, at least not the archmage.
    – Nelson
    Dec 11, 2015 at 7:03

3 Answers 3


It's really, really hard to play as a ranged character in Skyrim, since it's pretty difficult to keep foes at range for any length of time. There are some Paralyze spells later in Alteration, but in general you should plan on being able to survive in a melee for at least a little while.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • In the Alteration tree, there are spells that grant you armor, like Oakflesh. This can augment the lighter armor you're going to wear.
  • Learn Alchemy and make potions! Potions that restore your health and mana should be chugged at every opportunity. Making them using Alchemy is much, much cheaper than buying them.
  • Do some light Blacksmithing - even if you don't want to "get buff" as a Blacksmith, the ability to improve light armor can be a real bonus. Every armor point counts at the lower levels.

Some easy potion recipes to get you started include:

  • Restore Health - Blue Mountain Flower + Butterfly Wing, both are in ample supply around Whiterun or at any alchemy vendor.
  • Restore Magicka - Elves Ear + Red Mountain Flower, these ingredients are a bit harder to come by, but still pretty common among vendors.
  • 1
    White Cap and Creep Clusters have restore magicka as an effect as well and are very easy to harvest next to red mountain flowers. That makes 3 easy ingredients to create potions with. First brew a bunch of misc potions to sell and increase your alchemy level, put some perks in there and start making magicka potions.
    – Madmenyo
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:01
  • 1
    Other then that i have played like a stealth/marksman and it was the easiest game i ever played. It starts off slightly difficult but after a couple of levels things got really easy.
    – Madmenyo
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:03
  • @MennoGouw, yeah, if you're willing to go stealth you get all sorts of sneak attack bonuses, and you can get various thief-related gear/perks/skills to make you able to drop aggro quickly. I was trying to keep this as "pure mage" as I can, which means a lot more fireballs and a lot less shadowy crits.
    – agent86
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:11
  • I was aiming at your statement of ranged characters being really really hard.
    – Madmenyo
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:38
  • @MennoGouw i agree, the stealth bowman is op. especially if you pick up a daedric or dragonbone bow, though others work pretty well too. the sneak attack perks are amazing
    – Dragonrage
    Dec 11, 2015 at 0:41

I don't recommend armour as a pure mage on early levels. The College of Winterhold questline gives you pretty good magic re-gen items and magic increase items. This helps a lot. If you do want armour but magic effects on them get into the enchanting skill.


Wear mages robes and hood, put all perks in magicka, use fury in one hand and firebolt in the other (for groups) i do this and tank it. Also its worth getting the giants club for your companion.

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