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How to play a mage in Skyrim?

I have my pure mage character (all perk points invested in the mage skills) and still I have a lot of trouble when facing some enemies (like bears and sabrecats when they take the innitiative).

I want you to give me some advice on this character.

  • Hi mael, I have voted to close this question as this question details quite well the playstyle you'd need to adopt to play Skyrim successfully as a pure mage. Remember that specialising in spellcasting will always leave you weaker than sword wielding heros but it's perfectly doable! – kalina Aug 16 '12 at 19:14

When you are a mage (squishy) and a bear or sabercat gets the drop on you, it gets very hairy very fast. I've been playing an illusion focused mage lately (put all my points into magicka, currently level 35) with base health and here's what I've found that helps a lot:

  1. Early on, your best friend is the FUS shout. I don't go anywhere without having that equipped. Just the stagger alone can give you enough breathing room to back up and try something else.
  2. Try to get to the Greybeards early, and learn the RO part of the shout. As soon as you can get a little knockback, then it becomes much easier as you can start kicking things off of ledges to kill them faster.
  3. As an illusion mage, I like to keep the calm spell handy at all times. Getting the Animage perk early for bears and sabercats is helpful too. As soon as you see one, get that calm spell on them and then you can walk away without trouble.
  4. Ride around on horseback. If you don't want to fast travel or don't want to use the carriage system, getting a horse helps a lot with survivability as you can use them to run up difficult terrain.
  5. Later on, start investing into alteration for the armor spells. They are surprisingly effective at reducing damage. I have the 'invested magic' mod installed so I don't have to keep casting it, it becomes a maintained enchantment that lowers your max magicka cap instead. Up to you if you want to use it.
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  • All of above, but for mage best defense is offense (dual casted destruction magic with perk that staggers enemies). – user470365 Aug 16 '12 at 18:51

I would recommend enchanting some clothes/armor for HP, and making frequent use of armor-boosting spells (stoneskin, ironflesh, etc).

My biggest frustration as a pure mage was getting one-shot from surprise attacks. To maintain my sanity, I ended up wearing high-end light armor to give me a little more survivability.

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