I really want to start a new campaign in Skyrim again as a mage, being as the last two times I have completed it I have used melee and archery.

Will I get owned by melee enemies because robes have 0 armor rating?

Also, will gauntlets and boots affect my magic or speed? Whenever I kill a mage they never seem to be carrying any armor other than robes. :S

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    The Stendarr folks wear robes and heavy gauntlets and boots. If you wanted an in-game example of people who did this :) – James Feb 27 '12 at 22:21

Wearing gauntlets and boots will not affect your casting speed. The only thing that affects cast speed is whether or not you use dual casting.

However, there are spells in the alteration tree, namely Oakflesh, Stoneflesh, Ironflesh, and EbonyFlesh, that provide armor against physical damage.

On top of that, the Mage Armor perk under alteration can potentially triple the armor effects, so by late game, EbonyFlesh will provide a whooping 300 points of armor. (Still far less than what you can achieve with smithed daedric armor and well short of the armor cap of 567). Note that if you want to utilize the mage armor perk, you cannot wear armor at all.

However, this doesn't mean you can't wear items with enchantments. There are clothing items in the game that you can wear to provide enchantment effects such as improved health, reduced magic cost, etc.

Finally, your biggest ally as a mage will probably be the conjuration line. If you can keep the enemy's attention on your summons, then you don't have to worry about melee enemies at all.

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    Just to add my two cents: One of my characters is a pure mage. She's focused primarily on Conjuration, and has maxed out that skill and its perk tree. She wears precisely zero armor, has never cast any of Alteration's armor spells, and rarely uses any healing spells on herself. Her combat tactics revolve around sitting back and waiting for corpses to fall so she can loot them, while Lydia and her summons do all the dirty work; she dies far less often than any other character I play, and makes quick work of everything despite rarely casting a Destruction spell. – Kromey Feb 27 '12 at 21:08
  • @Kromey, I'd think that would be highly ineffective against certain high powered enemies. How'd you fare against Morokei? – Gabe Willard Feb 27 '12 at 23:39
  • @GabeWillard As a Spell Sword (1h main hand, destruction in offhand), I can confirm that I played a good part of the game wearing nothing that gave me an armor rating, and with out using the *flesh spells for armor or any of the wards. If a situation surprised me and I could not react to it I would pretty much die. These situations were however very rare and mostly when some wizard I would not notice would just BLAM BLAM BLAM and I am dead, me. I only went to 200 Magicka knowing eventually Id get -cost% enchants, so I needed the regen of the robes and circlets and such. (only 200 health too :) – James Feb 28 '12 at 0:05
  • @GabeWillard My first go at Morokei I had only Lydia and a single Flame Atronach, and he pretty much wiped the floor with me. Steered clear of the area for a while before coming back at him with a pair of storm atronachs (which I did have to re-summon a couple of times during the fight), and almost had him when I took a backwards step off that very high cliff. A reload and some time later I returned with a pair of dremora lords, and he didn't stand a chance! My summoner currently holds my personal record for lowest-level defeat of Morokei (I had just broken 20 or 21 at the time). – Kromey Feb 28 '12 at 0:46
  • @Kromey Very nice. I hit Morokei the first time I played through as a Destro/Resto High Elf mage with I believe a Elvish sword. I was level 14. Yeah, that went about as well as you'd guess. I ended up beating him by eliminating the ghost guys, and then immediately charging him and just holding down Healing and swinging my sword like a madman. Not very magey, but I didn't think I could get out of Labyrinthian otherwise lol. The mask was quite useful after I got it lol. – Gabe Willard Feb 28 '12 at 1:36

As explained here, there is a hidden armor rating in addition to displayed armor rating.

There are four slots that supply hidden armor rating.

Chest - 40 points
Head - 20 points
Feet - 20 points
Hands - 20 points

At x hidden armor rating, you'll take y% of incoming physical damage (I'm ignoring displayed armor rating here)

0 rating, 100% damage taken (all cloth or naked)
60 rating, 93% damage taken (robe + 3 armor items)
100 rating, 88% damage taken (all slots have some kind of armor in them)

Armor weight does affect movement speed. Armor does not affect casting speed.

Without wearing armor, you will get destroyed by physical damage. As a mage, your goal should be to avoid incoming physical damage. At first this is done by killing enemies quickly with destruction. Later, it's done by controlling the fight with Illusion or distracting the enemy with Conjuration.


My character is a pure mage. There are a number of strategies you can use: Currently I basically use a combination of Alteration/Conjuration/Destruction/Healing depending on # of enemies, MP, etc.

For example, I worked to have my descruction skill have the "Impact" perk, which gives dual wielding destruction spells stagger the opponent. Combined with firebolt / ice bolt, this is particularly effective. I've killed a dragon without getting harmed, standing 10 feet away simply by casting this over and over (and over) again. If you misfire though, make sure your healing is up to the task :).

However, another favorite tactic is to summon your strongest Conjured person (currently I have the dremora lord...holy cow that is one awesome summon), cast Oakflesh, and stand back and relax.

Along the same lines, you could probably also build up Illusion and make the enemies fight each other before they turn on you. That way, they're almost totally dead by the time they die.

Personally,I found it a mistake to put points into Mage Armor perk because I wear the Morokei dragon preist mask. Since this has 6 armor, it kills the mage armor perk. But for a mage, +100% magicka regeneration is worth the sacrifice.

In all, there are several strategies depending on which magic you want to focus on.

  • If you play on the PC, there's a number of mods that remove the armor rating from Morokei, and most of them also add the +20% shout recovery effect that was intended for it; even without that fix, removing the armor rating makes the Mage Armor perk once again effective (for characters that use the *flesh spells, that is). – Kromey Feb 28 '12 at 0:49
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    Not being rude, honest question: how do you know that is what was intended? They've fixed many minor bugs, so why not this one as well? Either way, I'm on Xbox, so I guess its a moot point. – tkott Feb 28 '12 at 3:12
  • Okay, fair point, they might have changed their minds during the design process. There is an enchantment in the game's files that grants the shout recovery bonus that indicates (via its editor ID) it's supposed to be associated with Morokei, although it is unused. It's certainly possible it was created for Morokei and then deliberately removed. Still, it's pretty clear it was intended for Morokei, whether or not its exclusion in the release was intentional or not (and there remain loads of unfixed, small bugs in the game, e.g. the quest Missing in Action). – Kromey Feb 28 '12 at 22:06

Here's a short and simple answer to your question: No.

The "speed" of casting is a spell is same in any apparel. The movement speed is affected by armour and the movement sound is also increased. That is, you can't make a stealth kill while you are wearing a heavy armor, as the target will hear you sneaking. That kept aside, the factor to be considered by a mage is, regeneration of Magic. This is really important in combat as mages may not have very powerful weapons and depend majorly on magic. Hence, it is really important for a mage that the Magic is back to full, as soon as possible. The robes have different affects like 50% faster regeneration of Magic, 75% faster regeneration of Magic, lesser Magic cost for Destruction spells, etc. Hence, it is better that a mage chooses robes instead of armor.

However, due to the very less(zero) armor rating of the robes, mages are very vulnerable to attacks, but have an increased movement speed, which is an advantage to dodge them. As the mages attack from a distance, it is wise for a mage to have more abilities than just Magic. I'd recommend an addition of Archery and Alchemy, to Magic(which itself includes Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Restoration, Illusion and other powers and shouts). Having a few invisibility potions crafted is also a good idea. Also, there's nothing better than a robe that gives 100% faster Magic regeneration plus some other affects.

The conclusion? It is always wise to have some extra-mage abilities, even if you're a pure mage. Hope that answers the question.

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