Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Guide to Character Building

  • Member
    July 15, 2013

     A character build is more than text on a screen. It has to inspire people to take what you've written - your idea, your concept - and do something with it. That can mean playing it, giving them ideas for their own unique build, or showing a friend.

    For your build to inspire, it needs to have both quality content and a good presentation. I'll begin with what you need to include in your build.


    Before writing your build, make sure you play it! Playing your build ensures that everything - the skills, race and equipment fit together. It might shed some new insights into the playstyle you didn't think of, or show that some things you were planning simply don't work.

    First off, a brief description. Give people an idea of what to expect in your build. It should describe the general roleplay and gameplay style of your build. For example, my Paladin build:

    A holy warrior devoted to rooting out evil and injustice in Tamriel, he wields significant martial and magical prowess (This shows that people can expect someone that uses both magic and melee combat). His enemies are numerous - Dragons, Necromancers, Vampires, the undead, or the common bandit just to name a few. But with the protection and strength of the Paladin's patron (This shows that as part of the roleplay, he derives strength from a greater power), he is sure to triumph over them all. All Paladins are skilled in use of one-handed weapons, heavy armor, shields, as well as protective and restorative magicks. They are also skilled in creating, improving, and blessing their own armor with various enchantments.(A brief outline of the skills used)

    Second the race and stats. Some builds require a certain race for roleplay/powerplay reasons, though most don't. You should at least recommend at least 1 race, usually the one you played your build with. Include a spread of the stats you picked (Health, Stamina and Magicka). Usually the format for this is something like 1 Magicka/2 Health/1 Stamina - which means every 4 levels you put 2 levelups into health, and 1 each into magicka and stamina. This is especially important on hybrid characters that need good scores in all stats! Here you can also include your standing stone choice(s).

    Now for the skills. You should have a skill set of at least 4 skills - these are usually divided in Major and Minor skills depending on how often they are used or how heavily they are perked. You should include a brief description of how each skill is used (For example, simply saying one-handed could mean I use it with a shield, dual wielding or combined with a spell - you need to clarify this). You must include recommended perks as well.

    As for equipment, you need to include a brief list of what equipment the player should use - or at least be aiming for. This includes armor, weapons, enchantments, and any other items, such as Azura's Star. Unless it's completely obvious from the skills or something you explained earlier, make sure you tell the readers why you recommend they use that gear.

    The gameplay section is probably the most important of all. Here is where you explain how everything fits together - the roleplay, skills, perks, race and equipment to name a few elements. Run us through a few combat scenarios to explain how to approach different situations. If you're using any buffs (Agent of Dibella or something like that) explain those here. You can also include a few roleplay guidelines as well.

    Now there are a number of optional things you can include in your presentation.

    A brief backstory. A backstory can really help to explain the roleplay aspects behind the build, but it shouldn't be too long. People read your build for the build, not a massive 3-page long backstory.

    Recommended Factions/Quests can help to structure the playthrough of anyone who decides to play your build. This can more or less be combined with a roleplay section.

    Special Moves/Abilities can really add to a build but should be used sparingly. Here you explain a few unique maneuvers that your build can pull off. Don't put special abilities in purely for the sake of having them - they should be something special. A good example of a special move might be the Dance of Darkness from my Nightingale Swordsman - it combines Muffle, Silent Roll, Critical Charge, and the Agent of Shadow bonus from the Thieves Guild into something very few builds can pull off.


    As I mentioned earlier, presentation can make or break a build. A badly presented build won't inspire anyone, but a well-presented one will inspire them to read on. When writing your build, make sure you have a PC available - the mobile version of the editor is quite limited in formatting options and you can't embed images.

    Make sure you structure your writing in a way that it flows from one section to the next in a way that makes sense to the reader. Use larger bold fonts for headings - don't just have a wall of unformatted text. Highlight important things with bold/italics.

    Most of all, include a few pictures to illustrate your build! They can really help to convey a theme/image you're trying to get across. If you can't get screenshots, check out the art group or simply use Google Images. While having pictures is good, don't use too many - some people make the mistake of their build being all pictures and no content.

    Some people choose to include music in their builds - if you do, make sure it's not a really loud/long track, and don't make it invisible - some people (such as myself) will want to pause it.

    Last but not least, don't forget to spellcheck your build! Spelling mistakes can be really off-putting, especially in large quantities. Google Chrome has a built in spell checker, or you write it up in a word processor before copying it into the Ning editor. It always helps if you can get someone else to proofread your work - perhaps ask on the helpdesk.

    Overall, your build should include enough content that someone could take your idea and run with it as you intended it to be played, and should be presented well enough that people are willing to read it! If you are still a bit confused on how to write your character build, check out Noodles' build template. It contains everything you need for a successful character build. 

    If you have an incomplete build and you're hoping to get some feedback on it then consider posting it in The Workshop. Otherwise, click on this link to get started. Good Luck!

  • Member
    July 15, 2013

    This is GREAT Ponty! I've been trying to go about making a build and I have the ideas, but I just couldn't get it started. This should help me finally get those ideas on paper, then in game, then in the CB discussion! 

  • Member
    July 15, 2013

    Great guide Pointy PONTY.

    I just wanted to add that like all good writing, it never hurts to have someone edit and/or proofread your build, particularly if English is not your native language.

    I, for one, am happy to read through any builds and help correct spelling and grammar as long as the person writing the build has at least made an attempt to get the English right. I'm sure there are others willing to help too.

  • July 15, 2013

    Now and forevermore Ponty will be known as Pointy. 

  • Member
    July 15, 2013

    See, this is why you need people to proofread for you.

  • July 16, 2013

    This is a really great idea. I was tired of seeing an email come in and see a build with a cool name, but to come in and find that there wasn't much effort put into it.

    Of course I'm too lazy to make my own build...

  • Member
    July 16, 2013
    This is a fantastic idea, and hopefully will stop people from posting builds that are not up to standards. I for one will definitely follow this guide now, as I'm about to post a build (hopefully) in the next couple of days.
  • July 16, 2013
    *sorry double post
  • July 16, 2013
    I admit I didn't bother reading any character building guides when I posted my first build. I read enough builds to get an idea of the blog standards and that was it. Probably would have helped. Good crash test dummy experience nonetheless.
  • Member
    July 16, 2013

    Nice one, Ponty. I suggest adding a few links to builds that best exemplify specific elements. e.g., "For builds that do a great job of incorporating backstory/lore, check out Vix's Heart of Pellitine, Zach's Songbird, and Henson's Old Orc. For special moves and abilities, Mason's Volkihar, Ponty's Nightingale Swordsman" ... etc. Same for formatting, images, and maybe overall writing quality (which is the only other thing I'd suggest adding: a section specifically on prose and writing).