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Character Build: Ahzidal's Legacy

Tags: #Character Build Illusionist  #Character Build Summoner  #Character Build Battlemage  #Rank:Mythic  #Ebony Blade  #Ahzidal 
  • Member
    February 25, 2013

    Warning: This build uses spells and items from both Dawnguard and Dragonborn. Spoilers ensue!

    Hello everyone, this is my first build on the Skyrim Blog, so please be gentle :) As the name implies, this build makes extensive use of Ahzidal’s armor set, which was introduced in the Dragonborn DLC.  As a self-proclaimed enchanting fanatic, I immediately knew that I wanted to create a build centered around these unique and bizarre pieces of armor.  So, without further ado, I present:

    Ahzidal’s Legacy



    I have often felt that certain builds I’ve seen on this site use roleplay as a crutch to cover up generic and unimaginative gameplay, whereas for this build my one and only concern was to create a unique, powerful build that actually used each unique enchantment to its fullest potential, rather than just throwing any old heavy armor build into this unique armor set.  So roleplay for this build has been left largely to the player; however, this build does make use of certain… questionable practices, such as using a fully-charged Ebony Blade and making use of necromancy, so I would expect this to be a very dark character.

    Descend into Kolbjorn Barrow where your prize awaits…

    The Build

    Race: Again, largely left up to the player.  However, I personally find it difficult to imagine any non-human race wearing Ancient Nord Armor, and Ahzidal himself was a Nord so if one were to take the Legacy part literally and make your character a descendant of him, a Nord would be logical. I played this character as a Breton to play it safe, but I honestly found the Breton racials to be unnecessary for the type of sneaky gameplay this build incorporates.

    Standing Stone: Steed until the Conditioning perk is taken, then the Ritual Stone. If you have Dawnguard, put the Ritual Stone on the Aetherial Crown and take the Lord Stone.

    Major Skills: Destruction, Illusion, Conjuration, Sneak

    Minor Skills: Restoration, Heavy Armor, Smithing (Optional)

    Gear:All of the Relics of Ahzidal (obviously) and the Necromancer’s Amulet

    Weapons: The Ebony Blade and staves (optional)

    Shouts: Become Ethereal, Aura Whisper, Marked for Death, Unrelenting Force, Slow Time, Throw Voice, Whirlwind Sprint

    Spells: Basically all of the spells with the associated schools we will be using, with the exception of Destruction, as Ignite will be really the only Destruction spell we use.

    Level 50 Perk Spread:

    Destruction: Novice-Apprentice, Augmented Flames 2/2, Rune Master

    Illusion: All perks except reduced Master-level spell costs and dual-casting

    Conjuration: Novice-Expert, Summoner 2/2, Necromancy, Dark Souls, Twin Souls

    Restoration: Novice-Adept, Regeneration, Ward Absorb, Recovery 2/2, Avoid Death

    Sneak: Stealth 1/5, Muffled Movement, Light Foot, Silent Roll, Silence

    Heavy Armor: Juggernaut 5/5, Fists of Steel, Cushioned, Conditioning

    Smithing (Optional): Steel Smithing, Arcane Blacksmith, Dwarven Smithing*

    The Dwarven smithing is taken only to aid in leveling smithing.  Also, the smithing perks can be removed after we have improved our armor to its maximum potential, so those 3 perks may be used elsewhere. And for the record, in my current playtest I actually have yet to delve into smithing so for the moment it is a no-crafting build for me and it is still incredibly strong, if you want this could easily become a no-crafting build. I will leave this up to the player’s preference for this build.


    Stat Distribution: I find that this is often best left up to the individual player; however, I will say that stamina is relatively useless for this build, and that this class is first and foremost a mage: therefore, you will want to emphasize magicka. I went pure magicka until I felt comfortable; after that it was mostly a 50/50 split between magicka and health.

    Ahzidal’s Legacy finishes off a burning, slowed Draugr Death Overlord


    Claiming Your Armor: While entering Solstheim at a low level may seem intimidating, remember that you won't have to venture far from Raven Rock to reach Kolbjorn Barrow. Also, it is possible to claim Ahzidal's entire set before engaging in the boss fight at the end, so as long as you can handle a few generic Draugr you'll be fine :)


    Gameplay: Even though the perk spread suggests a relatively typical sneaky mage, the Relics of Ahzidal completely change the way certain mechanics function in such a way as to create a completely unique gameplay experience. As such, I will begin by listing each relic’s enchantments and explain how each piece adds to the core gameplay.


    Ahzidal’s Helm of Vision: One of the more interesting of the relics of Ahzidal, this helm increases the cost of most Conjuration and Rune spells by 25%; however, it also significantly increases the range in which they can be cast.  Combined with the Summoner perks, our Conjuration spells have drastically increased range, allowing us to summon Daedra or Soul Cairn Summons behind the enemies, leaving their backs exposed to our powerful destruction spells delivered in silence from the shadows.  Unfortunately, Rune spells are far too magicka-inefficient to be used often without significant magicka-cost-reducing enchantments, which Ahzidal’s Relics lack. However, the newly-added Frenzy Rune spell does have some useful utility in certain situations.

    Ahzidal’s Gauntlets of Warding: These gauntlets reduce Ward strength by 25%, but allow our Wards to absorb 50% of the magicka of spells thrown at them.  Fairly straightforward, these gauntlets make our Wards much more sustainable; however, the reduced strength can be problematic against stronger enemies. Stealth and misdirection is recommended against mages, leaving Wards as a last resort.

    Ahzidal’s Boots of Waterwalking: These boots allow the wearer to walk on water. A fairly niche ability, it can be used to help keep our distance between enemies whenever a body of water is nearby.  Also, falling onto water with these boots equipped causes no falling damage, even in shallow water. A useful ability if your Become Ethereal Shout is on cooldown.

    Ahzidal’s Armor of Retribution: This armor has a chance of paralyzing enemies who inflict melee damage on the wearer. Fairly straightforward, this enchantment allows for an additional line of defense when enemies close in.

    Ahzidal’s Ring of Necromancy: This ring causes raised undead to explode upon taking damage, dealing 50 points of frost damage to all NPCs in the immediate area. This ring will be used only sparingly, as a part of a special tactic detailed later in the build.

    Ahzidal’s Ring of Arcana: This ring gives access to two new spells, Ignite and Freeze. Both are Apprentice-level spells, with Freeze dealing 20 points of damage and slowing enemies for 15 seconds, and Ignite dealing 4 damage per second for 15 seconds, for a total of 60 damage. I found Freeze to be largely unnecessary; however, with the aid of a small glitch, Ignite goes from laughably weak to, in my opinion, possibly the most powerful spell in the Destruction school.

    I’m sure that many of us are familiar with the Aspect of Terror Illusion perk that not only boosts Fear spells by 10 levels, but also boosts Fire spells by 10 damage. This applies to Ignite as well; however, it applies that 10 damage for every second, meaning that 4 damage per second becomes 14 damage per second. What’s more, is that the Augmented Flame perks will boost the +10 damage granted by Aspect of Terror as well, assuming that Aspect of Terror is taken after the Augmented Flame perks. Meaning, the maximum damage of Ignite comes out to be 21 damage per second for 15 seconds, at only 1/10th the magicka cost of an expert-level destruction spell. That is a grand total of 315 damage throughout the course of the spell. But most importantly, Ignite stacks with itself. Considering it takes almost no time at all to stack 4-6 Ignites on a single target, the result is nothing less than phenomenal.

    I have never felt more powerful playing a destruction mage. Many players might be put off by the small 21 damage at the front of the description, but this spell must be seen to be believed. Enemies will literally melt in front of you, and combined with Silent Casting and the Sneak skill, they will often do it without even being aware of your existence.

    Other Apparel and Artifacts:

    The Necromancer’s Amulet: Since Ahzidal’s set lacks a necklace, this necklace seems like the next best thing to wear to complete our character. Providing +50 Magicka and 25% Conjuration Spell cost reduction, this amulet is probably the best piece of neckwear we’ll find in the game. The reductions in Health and Stamina regeneration are of little consequence, as we’ll be using Restoration to stay alive and, as sneaky mage, Stamina is of little importance to us.

    The Ebony Blade: I hadn’t really intended to use this weapon when I was creating this build; however, I quickly found that it greatly fortifies the Legacy’s one largest weakness: Magicka.  With little to no magicka-boosting or cost-reducing gear, the Legacy uses Conjuration and Illusion magicks sparingly, mostly as distractions, with the bulk of its spellcasting coming from the hyper-efficient Ignite spell. The Ebony Blade serves as a great counter to that issue; when the Legacy runs out of magicka, she charges in with this blade at the ready both to deal damage and stay alive until her magicka regenerates. Also, being able to charge into melee range brings the torso armor’s enchantment into prominence, as it is largely wasted while sneaking around in the shadows.

    The Aetherial Crown: Imbued with the power of the Ritual Stone, the Legacy can combine its power with that of Ahzidal’s Ring of Necromancy to create an undead minefield; a single icy explosion doesn’t do much, but what about two? Five? A dozen? These two artifacts synergize incredibly well, turning any corpse-strewn battlefield into an icy deathtrap.  As a side note: Almost immediately before posting this build I noticed that Ahzidal’s Priestess by Dragon uses this same technique, and for that I almost removed this from my build entirely; however, I wanted every piece of Ahzidal’s equipment to be featured in this build, so for that reason I left it in. I just want to be clear that I’m not trying to steal Dragon’s glory or anything :)

    The Black Star: As an alternative to using the Ebony Blade, I have found that staves can often be useful when magicka is running low. The Black Star will allow the Legacy to use staves with impunity, making recharging them a non-issue. Note to Staff Users: I have encountered an unfortunate bug in which Atrronach-Summoning Staves do not benefit from the Summoner perks nor from Ahzidal’s Helm, meaning they have incredibly limited range. Do not expect to be able to pull off the same enemy-distracting techniques with staves as you can with traditional spellcasting.

    Smile for the camera!


    Gameplay in Depth:

    One thing that I like about this build is that the lack of magicka-cost reducing enchantments makes certain power-skills like Conjuration and Illusion much more interesting. With such high base magicka costs, they require far more tactical planning than the usual Frenzy + Dremora Lord x 2 = Win. Often I would find myself throwing down a summon from a far distance merely as a distraction and stealthily applying stacks of Ignites while the enemies’ backs were turned. Even if my summon was killed, enemies usually succumbed to multiple Ignites before they were close enough to spot me. But this isn’t to say that this build is weaker than your average Conjuration/Illusionist; far from it. As I alluded to earlier, the Ebony Blade actually complements this build exceptionally well. With a maxed-out armor rating and regenerating 30 health per swing, this is probably the most survivable mage I’ve ever played. Often, the Ebony Blade is dismissed due to its glitchy nature; however, the reason it works for this build is that it is not used as a main source of damage. Its one and only purpose is to keep the character alive and dealing damage while his or her magicka regenerates; that’s where this character really brings the pain.


    The Ultimate Boss-Hunter

    Another thing unique to this build is the way in which it reacts to hordes of weaker enemies vs. stronger bosses. Because our main form of direct damage, Ignite, is a damage-over-time effect, the Legacy’s damage increases exponentially the longer the fight lasts. The result is the deadliest boss-hunter I have ever played that didn’t completely abuse crafting to achieve godhood. For longer fights, it is very easy to have 10 or more Ignites stacked on a single enemy at any given time. 21 damage per second may not look like much, but what about 210 dps? 420? Both very real, very achievable, and extremely deadly.  In my mind, I unconsciously refer to this build as “The Boss Killer.” The sheer damage and magicka efficiency of Ignite makes it viable against virtually all enemies, even enemies that are typically resistant to fire. It absolutely shreds dragons, and I even used it to great effect against Ahzidal himself (with his 50% fire resistance mask).


    Special Moves: I thought about analyzing every unique tactic this build has to offer and compile the most unique ones here as most builds do, but honestly the gameplay of this build is so unique that, in my personal experience, this entire build has been one long special move. Using Conjuration and Illusion as distractions rather than main forms of offense, heavy reliance on DoT damage, being a stealth character that doesn’t use sneak attack damage modifiers… the list goes on and on. The sheer flexibility of this class makes for an utterly unique experience that makes almost everything you do feel “special,” so at this point a special move section would simply be redundant.


    Closing Remarks:

    While this build incorporates many diverse ideas and approaches to combat, the one that stands out the most to me is the use of Ignite. With the right knowledge, this spell completely changes the way I view Destruction magic; even if you don’t play this build, I highly encourage everyone viewing this build to at least try out Ignite with the Aspect of Terror perk. It’s honestly a bit scary just how good it can be; now, I feel like I can never play a Destruction mage that isn’t also an Illusionist. Ignite has the potential to be so potent that now two of my favorite characters from the Skyrim Blog, my Sorcerer and my Demonhunter, feel almost gimped in regards to Destruction magic. Ignite at full strength is roughly 35 times more magicka-efficient than the Expert spell Incinerate, which is simply too good to pass up unless you’re rocking the 0% magicka cost enchantments.

    Thank you all for taking the time to read this build, please tell me what you think in the comments below!:)


  • Member
    February 25, 2013

    A build that utilizes it's namesake is all good to me :D might try this out already, I like builds that revolve around special/unique items in-game.

  • Member
    February 25, 2013

    Thanks for the like, I was surprised by the lack of builds using this unique armor set. And I too find builds centered around certain items to be more interesting, as practically every skill combination possible has been done in builds in the past. Having an emphasis on a particular item or set of items really helps distinguish builds that would otherwise have been very generic.

  • Member
    February 25, 2013

    Thank you very much :) I guess I've been creeping around on this website long enough to know that bad first builds can be very harmful to not just that build, but everything that person makes afterward, so I was particularly thoughtful before I submitted this build.

  • Member
    February 25, 2013

    Great first build and really good aesthetics! That armour looks great on a female character

  • Member
    February 25, 2013

    Also I would really like to hear some feedback on this build's use of the Aspect of Terror perk to achieve 21 damage per second with Ignite, it really is a game-changer and I could easily see some interesting Nightblade-esque builds emerge from this powerful new spell.

  • Member
    February 25, 2013

    I have been interested in seeing a DPS assassin style character for a while. Good job. +1

  • February 25, 2013

    It's a nice catch, and one I believe hasn't been used before (I don't read every build, so someone correct me if I'm wrong).

    I am curious to whether or not it is calculated seperately or just added on top of the base. If the latter then destruction potions would become more potent, as that would mean an increase of 4.2 damage per second (3 more than if it is calculated seperately).

    I'm just thinking out loud, you don't have to answer those questions.

    Anyway, nice build. +1

  • February 25, 2013
    Ponty mentions it in passing on his Mabtigash, and I believe he came up with the same results. He also he mentions to not stack to too many :P
  • Member
    February 25, 2013
    -Can you dual cast ignite to boost damage too? Since the cost is so low, dual casting would still be manageable I wager. 46 damage dual then toss on a fortify destruction potion...I'm thinking a DoT of 75+ might be slight overkill -The extra range for summons has me wondering about the possibility of using those exploding wolf familiars with thir already absurd range. I also want to see if the helm range affects the dawnguard hammer since it's governed by the rune master perk. -can you really jump into shallow water without harm? There are a few fun uses I could come up with for that I typically dislike builds that are focused around an item or a perk since they always feel gimmicky but I must say, this build has actually caught my interest. Might actually give this a look, if for nothing else than to see how far I can push ignite.