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Character Build: The Songbird

Tags: #Character Build Spellsword  #Character Build Illusionist  #Character Build Enchanter  #Rank:Legendary  #Race:Altmer 
  • Member
    January 28, 2013

    This was my first build on the site. Initially it was well received (at least I think so) and it has gone through a few updates and overhauls. It is very lore heavy with a very interesting gameplay concept.  I hope you enjoy my build:


    The whole idea of the build is to run around in melee combat but not getting hit through misdirection. The level of tanking that can be achieved is pretty crazy, you are hardly even getting hit.

    Fear is the best way to avoid damage because it give you 30 seconds of hitting the enemy without them fighting back at all. Also fear can be cast from a very low level. Fear is even better once you get frost cloak, the enemy will be not able to sprint and is slowed by 50%. There are many ways to misdirect one's enemies.

    • Fear/Rout
    • Calm/Pacify
    • Fury/Frenzy 
    • Paralysis
    • Ice Form
    • Become Ethereal
    • Stagger 
    • Bend Will
    • Summons from Staves 

    Not every method works against every enemy. What this amount of options gives is layers. If one way fails, the next will work. You will never be caught in a fair straight out fight. Basically what this build strives for is having the enemy doing everything except hitting you.


    Dotted across the surface of Tamriel, there are many orders and organizations devoted to the art of performing. Within Skyrim lies the Bard's College. Cyrodill houses the Minstrels Guild. However, there is another such society of traveling performers, the Songbirds. The Songbirds, often called “The Summerset Songbirds” by outsiders, are a travelling fellowship of singers, dancers, musicians, and actors, hailing from the Summerset Isle.  


    The skies of the Summerset Isle are frequented by majestic golden hawks. Their hunting cry is rumored to be one of the most terrible, yet beautiful sounds in Nirn. To all those who these hawks prey on, the call invokes a fear like no other. In contrast, their mating call is likened to the whistle of the wind as it dances through chimes, or the laughter of an infant, or any of the other wonderful things one can hear. It can sooth the most brutal saber cat, or make the strongest man cry. Since the Summerset Isle has been inhabited by the Altmer, the hawks have been the source and inspiration of countless works of art, music, and poetry.

    None know when the Songbirds where formed, not even the Songbirds themselves. What is known is that a number of Altmeri street performers from an age long forgotten became utterly fascinated with the hawks of the Summerset Isle at some point. These hawks, although not completely correct, became known as the “Songbirds” to these minstrels (due to the amazing musical qualities of the birds' calls). In time these particular bards began to call themselves “The Songbirds”. They created a unique style of performing and fighting inspired by the hawks.

    Structure Of The Songbirds

    The Songbirds as a whole do not strictly follow any deity, but they have a certain reverence for Kynareth. Though Kynareth is not part of the Altmeri Pantheon, in the time after Tiber Septim's conquest of the Summerset Isle she became quite popular with the Songbirds. The Songbirds are nomadic individuals, constantly shifting from place to place. It is only natural they look to Kynareth for guidance, as she is the patron of travelers. Furthermore, she is the goddess of the sky, and that is the domain of the hawks.

    No central organization or leadership is present within the Songbirds, they are not even a unified group. It is a system of masters and apprentices, where experienced Songbirds often find young Altmer to train in their special techniques. The only aspect in common from one Songbird to another is their shared heritage and history as a Songbird, and their tremendous skills as a performer. Due to the various useful and intricate skills learned in the training of a Songbird, they tend to become more than a simple bard. Some become thieves, and fewer become assassins. A large number work as mercenaries.

    The signature fighting style of the Summerset Songbirds is based around the use of curved swords. The reason they use curved swords is that the curve represents the hooked beaks and claws of a hawk. It is so sacred to use a curved blade to the Songbirds that if one of them is caught using a blade that is not curved, that individual is exiled from the Songbirds. The only exceptions are daggers. Songbirds may carry daggers, and they do not have to be curved.

    *Note* It is fine to use iron, steel, etc. weapons until you find a scimitar. I waited until after dragon rising and killed the Alik'r as they walked out of Whitreun. Here is a link to where there are Scimitar locations.


    The Build

    Race: Altmer

    +50 magicka is great, and they have boosts to 5 out of the 7 skills. Also a Songbird would NEVER train anyone who is not a fellow Altmer.

    Stat Distribution: 3 : 2 : 1 (Magicka Health : Stamina)

    Standing Stone: Mage -> Lord. Alteration with mage armor is the only armor rating available in this build, so getting as much extra armor as possible is great.

    Shouts: Unrelenting Force, Ice Form, Become Ethereal, Dragon AspectBend Will

    The links go to the UESP page about the shouts, detailing quests, effects, and so on.

    Major Skills

    One Handed: Relatively simple here, one handed is how you kill enemies. One handed makes the use of the signature weapon of the Songbird, the Scimitar much more deadly. Both spellsword and dual wielding combat styles are used.

    Illusion: Illusion is a massively important skill. Illusion is the easiest and most common type of misdirection available. The Songbirds are extremely skilled singers, hence their name. Not only are their voices enthralling and powerful, but they are canny wizards. A skilled Songbird can weave mind altering magics within every syllable that is uttered from their lips. 

    Alteration: Alteration provides an amazing number benefits to the Songbird. Flesh spells level up independently from getting hit. If armor was used it would level up far too slowly since you should not be getting hit too much. Just because you won't get hit much does not mean you will never get hit, mage armor + clothes makes sure you can take some heat.

    Enchanting:  Illusion and alteration are both very high magicka cost schools of magic. Cost reduction enchantments help negate that. Paralysis in particular is powerful, the weapon enchantment will be available long before the spell so make sure to take advantage of it. 

    Minor Skills

    Smithing: If smithing was not taken I would be a fool. Scimitars only need 1 perk to improve massively (well 2 perks if you include arcane blacksmith).

    Destruction: Destruction was not a skill I actively used until later in my play through. I simply used trainers to get to level 50 destruction so I could cast frost cloak.

    Restoration: Healing health and magicka is always handy.

    Level 25

    Stats Distribution: 280 : 170 :140 (Magicka Health Stamina)

    Level 50

    Stats Distribution: 350(412) : 310(372) : 180 (Magicka Health Stamina)

    The numbers in brackets/parenthesis are the stats after being modified by enchantments.  

    I invested into dual wielding after level 25. For the entire playthrough I used dual wielding against enemies such as bosses and dragons. At early levels it was not worth it investing into it, but at higher levels it really helped take down the tougher opponents.


    Whatever clothing you wear is up to you, it just has to not have an armor rating.

    For both weapons and clothes I am going to list two “tiers”. The “low level” items is what you should use until you get extra effect. “Endgame” items are what I advise you to use once you get extra effect.


    Putting the illusion enchantments on the ring and necklace is actually very important at early levels. Illusion is utterly useless against dragons. For that reason I kept additional rings and amulets on me that had elemental resistances. Also I kept a ring and amulet of fortify smithing with me so that I could improve my weapons and armor more effectively.

    Once you get extra effect you do not need the additional elemental protection rings and amulets that I previously mentioned.


    For weapons I obviously used scimitars. Scimitars just have so many benefits. They have high damage, low weight, takes only steel smithing to upgrade, they fit my roleplay. At low levels before I had the “master of the mind” illusion perk I kept a dagger on me that had turn undead. Also as soon as you can I advise picking up the Sanguine Rose. It is great because you get an expert level conjuration spell for free.

    "Did you see those bards from the Summerset Isle? They've got curved swords... Curved. Swords." 


    Combat is all about preparing your enemies for a slaughter. Occupy your enemies with illusion, shouts, and other such trickery and move in for the kill. Be creative with your use of tactics, just make sure that you avoid getting hit when possible. In a 1v1 fight against a very powerful enemy switch to duel wielding to attempt to take them out before they can do too much damage.

    Battle Tactics

    Hero Of Legends- Dragon Aspect + Become Ethereal + Dragonhide + Dual wielded scimitars with absorb health (and one with absorb stamina)

    The Songbird sings a mystical tale of a legendary warrior. In doing so, the Songbird gains the might of the hero, becoming unstoppable. In dire times, when this song is sung, the spirit of the hero may even aid the Songbird. 

    This move is to all intents and purposes, an unstoppable killing machine. It can be used at lower levels with powers like the Earth Stone, vegetable soup, and so on.

    Extreme Paralysis- Frenzy + Become Ethereal + Mass Paralysis + Stability

    The Songbird uses the Thu'um, a gift from Kynerath, in conjunction with their own magical skills in an excellent combination.

    When hopelessly outnumbered this is the ace that you pull out of your sleeve.

    Veil Of Chaos- Muffle + Frenzy + Invisibility 

    Through music and magical trickery, the Songbird enrages his targets. They are filled with such a fury that their only thoughts are to kill their "former comrades". That anger makes them forget the presence of the Songbird, almost as if he is invisible. 

    Another fun way to deal with large groups.

    Hopeless Terror- Rout + Frostcloak

    The songs sung by a Songbird can terrify even the most stout warrior. The victim often tries to run, but the sapping magics of the Songbird render it pointless.

    When feared, an enemy will attempt to sprint away. The stamina draining effect of frostcloak prevents them from getting far. The slow effect makes it that much easier to stay right behind them, hitting the enemy as they run.

    Suggested Quests

    One thing I have to say about the quests is that it depends on your character. Like I stated early within the build, from one Songbird to another they are extremely different. Their morals, personality, and history is all up to how you want to roleplay. Maybe you are a joyful bard who only wishes to spread music and love. Perhaps you use the skills you learned as a Songbird to your own selfish purposes, stealing from whoever you please. The possibilities are endless.

    Bards College: You are a bard! So why pass up the chance to enjoy the company of other bards, and maybe even learn a thing or two?

    The Book Of Love: +15% magic resistance is fantastic, and if your Songbird happens to be a generally nice guy/girl, why not spread the love?

    The Black Star: Having the black star is extremely awesome. It allows you to save a lot of cash when enchanting. It also lets you easily recharge your various scimitars.

    In The Time Of My Need: This is basically to get our scimitars. When you do this quest make sure to get all the scimitars you can and save a number of them for later. The only other sources of scimitars are random encounters with the Alik'r as well as a few scimitars scattered across Skyrim and Solsthiem.


    Special Thanks

    I need to thank Mason and Nikolaj Poulsen for helping me test aspects of my build and discussing it with me. Also thank you Vix, for answering my lore questions now and then..


    Thank you for taking the time to read my first build, I hope you enjoyed it.

  • Member
    January 28, 2013

    Wow, this is really good. I like this a lot. Very well done!! +1

  • January 28, 2013
    Very good job! The presentation reminds me of Mason's. Seriously for a first build, this is awesome work! +1.
  • January 28, 2013

    Damn.  Dude.  +1  Very nice build I may finally play the build of someone else on this site.  I can't read the whole thing right now, but I will later and I will give any feedback you might need or want to consider!  Great job! 

  • January 28, 2013

    I'm glad to have helped you with your build, even if I am unsure of what I've helped with. +1

  • Member
    January 28, 2013

    Nice build! That's what I like to see, a good structured presentation, cleaned and with many matching images. The text is detailed, well written and put a lot of love in it :) Congrats for your first build! +1 definitely :)

  • Member
    January 28, 2013

    Hehe you helped test that slow effect and run speed stuff. I ended up not using it a ton but it is the thought that counts 

  • Member
    January 28, 2013

    Thanks guys I really appreciate this! 22 likes in 7 hours!

  • Member
    January 28, 2013

    Thank you man. I am just hopping that I will be able to follow it up. 

  • Member
    January 28, 2013

    It would be nice to know how this works for other people!