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Character Build: The Transient Sorcerer

Tags: #Character Build Elementalist  #Character Build Mage  #Character Build Illusionist  #Race:Breton  #Rank:Legendary 
  • Member
    September 22, 2014

    Zepplin ensures that this experience will blow your ears and eyes among other things...

    I've always thought The Elder Scrolls series had a strange take on the sorcerer class, one that always seemed to change between games.

    In Daggerfall, sorcerers couldn't regenerate magicka and had to rely on absorption to replenish their pool. Morrowind characterizes the class as reliant on enchantments and conjurations and being greedy and controlling. Oblivion depicts them as heavily armored mages and swaps Enchanting for Alchemy. Oh, the contradictions...

    In the creation of my own, I took elements from the multitude of TES sorcerers and intertwined them with a more traditional take on the classiest of classes. I definitely drew a lot of influence from D&D. They paint a very different, yet clear, picture of sorcerers and what their archetype brings to mind.

    The Transient Sorcerer

    Sorcerers of D&D are naturally gifted with arcane abilities as opposed to endlessly studying tomes and incantations like most spellcasters. They are charismatic at heart and let their magical abilities flow like second nature. Sorcerers scoff at wizards who retire to their books, instead preferring to see the world and display their magical aptitude.

    Another major difference from The Elder Scrolls and D&D sorcerers is their attire. TES has always adorned them in armor, from light to heavy. I've always envisioned my sorcerers in robes, as D&D depicts them for their own reasons.

    Their biggest drawback being that they must learn by trial and error and rely on intuition. Sorcerers are limited to fewer spells but have the capability to cast them in multitudes.

    Race: Breton

    Stone: Tower & Atronach (A-Crown)

    Skills: Alteration, Conjuration, Enchanting, Restoration, Destruction, Illusion, Speech, Block

    Equipment: Aetherial Crown, Hooded Mythic Dawn Robes, Mythic Dawn Gloves, Dunmer Shoes, Enchanted Amulet & Ring

    Quests: Dragon Rising, From the Ashes, Served Cold, Lost to the Ages, Hag's End, Bard's College, Pieces of the Past, Bard's Leap Summit, Promises to Keep, The Forsworn Conspiracy, Blood on the Ice, Laid to Rest, Waking Nightmare, A Night to Remember, Kharjo's Moon Amulet

    The transient sorcerer must be a Breton in order to attain 100% magicka absorption with their innate Dragonskin ability. Their natural resistance to magic also helps when max absorption isn't possible.

    The Tower Stone is such a handy power for an adventuring magician to have, adding one more trick to his bag. Whether it's a locked door, a treasure chest or simply disarming a trap the sorcerer has an ace up his sleeve. The Atronach Stone will be stored in the Aetherial Crown for optional magicka absorption, great for casting conjurations with no fear of absorbing your own summon! Just toggle it on for mages and dragons alike via hotkey.

    Magician's Equipment

    Hooded robes were the key aesthetic for a traveling sorcerer. The hooded Mythic Dawn Robes are the only robes aside from the Archmage's Robes that can be worn with the Aetherial Crown. They are rarely used outside of Mythic Dawn builds and were right for the part.

    The Aetherial Crown is toggled on and off throughout the playthrough but is typically removed. The Atronach Stone is stored up for instant magicka absorption when necessary. As frequently as the basic Conjure Familiar spell is used it's best to leave the Aetherial Crown off.

    The Mythic Dawn Gloves match the robes and are one of the few pairs of enchantable gloves in the game. Dunmer Shoes are worn with the set to make up for that lost chest enchantment on the robes. An amulet and ring round off the sorcerer's attire. All the enchantments are geared towards casting lots of Novice spells. The Sorcerer's Stone reduces the only costly spells in our arsenal and the regeneration replenishes our magicka pool in no time.

    Mehrunes Razor is the main backup plan with about a 1% chance to wreck in case you come across something fierce. The only time I had to rely on it was at the end of Served Cold. Other daggers can be enchanted for more reliability and the chaos enchantment is part of the "questline"...just sayin. The Black Star is a must to keep those backup daggers charged. Before Mehrunes Razor I rolled around with  two elemental daggers just in case.

    Stat Distribution: 3/1/0

    This perk spread takes the build to level 44. There are a couple key perks that you'll want to shoot for from Helgen:

    • Quick Reflexes
    • Aspect of Terror
    • Adept Alteration

    Sorcerers rely greatly on their familiars and Quick Reflexes can buy alot of time while your familiar whittles away at an opponent's health. This was a great tactic early on and Marked for Death makes it effective up through mid-game. I've had many bloggers say that using daggers to activate Quick Reflexes felt a little out of character for this build so a nice alternative is an unenchanted stave in the off-hand and nothing in your main hand. This allows the sorcerer to activate Quick Reflexes yet hold true to the pure mage status.

    Aspect of Terror is a big turning point for the transient sorcerer, boosting the power of the standard Flames spell to incredible heights. This is the best form of damage that the sorcerer can conjure from his limited abilities but it's not to be underestimated when combined with some of our other tactics.

    Adept Alteration makes the Ash Shell spell much more affordable to cast! This spell will save your arse in some very tight spots and make for a great distraction in conjunction with the Fury and Conjure Familiar spells. Check out the combat section for one of the coolest tricks I've been taught in Skyrim to date!

    Dual-Casting: highly underrated! In the long run of a typical mage I always shoot for the higher level spells as quickly as I can. Dual casting higher level spells isn't practical unless you're boasting some serious magicka or very high regeneration. Novice spells on the other hand are the best to dual cast! With such low costs Novice spells can substitute Adept and even Expert spells when dual cast. Flames can be boosted to an impressive 48 DPS! Our friendly Familiar can be conjured for a little more than 2 minutes! The Novice Fury spell can affect up to Lvl 62 NPCs when dual cast! You'll never want to perk those lame cost reduction perks again.

    Alteration is the one school we'll perk higher than Novice for the flesh spells and other great utility spells. Detect Life is one of my personal favorites. Anticipating an enemy's movements before they're aware of your presence saves tons Magicka and Health if you take advantage of the initiative. Ash Shell is another must have; pick it up from Talvas Fathryon as soon as your Alteration hits 40. It's great crowd control or a last resort before your disappearing act in unnecessary skirmishes (damn you bears!).

    Speech is lightly perked to great effect! By taking the Persuasion perk and leveling Speech to 53 you can persuade guards to let you off with a small bounty, raising your Speech skill even more! You can persuade every guard in town with this neat trick and can use Speech to help with the leveling since most of the spells we use are low level and don't offer too much experience.

    Cantrips - The Simplest of Spells

    The transient sorcerer is mainly limited to the Novice spells from each school of magic. I know what you're thinking: "I'm f***ed!". No worries. This build gets pretty powerful without really feeling powerful. Here's the entire spell list: 

    • Conjure Familiar
    • Healing
    • Lesser Ward
    • Flames, Sparks, Frostbite
    • Fury
    • Candlelight
    • Soul Trap
    • Muffle
    • Ash Shell
    • Detect Life
    • Oak-Ebony Flesh
    • Marked for Death (First Word)
    • Slow Time (First Word)

    Still skeptical? It's not about the power of your spells but how you use them. High level spells have a double downside. Not only do they require a perk that reduces cost (which is the lamest perk to force upon a spellcaster) but the caster still needs more magicka to cast high level spells. The transient sorcerer has no need for a multitude of cost reduction perks and can go straight for the good stuff: dual-casting, elemental proficiency, double durations; the potent perks that can change gameplay immensely.

    Muffle and Soul Trap are two spells that I used without their Apprentice perks. Soul Trap was necessary for Enchanting but could be replaced by a dagger. Muffle was used for scouting the area before battle, discovering what you're up against and anticipating enemy movements. Since Muffle is typically cast before battle, the amount of Magicka used to cast it should regenerate before engaging. Eventually you'll be able to dual cast it, extending Muffle's effect to 6.5 minutes!  It was also very helpful in leveling the Illusion skill in order to obtain Aspect of Terror early on.

    Familiars make the best companions for sorcerers and are highly underrated in Skyrim. Most conjurers pass them up and go directly for the Flame Atronach or Raise Zombie spells. I've found them useful from the beginning of my Master playthrough to the bitter end! Between MfD, Ash Shell, Slow Time, and Quick Reflexes the Familiar gains longevity for the transient sorcerer. Late game can be tough for familiars because they go down in a few swipes so it's a better strategy to hit your enemies with Marked for Death and draw their attention while your familiar deals increasing damage to them. Quick Reflexes plays a big role in this strategy, luring enemies into a power attack and dodging easily. 

    Flames will obviously be the best damage dealing spell but Sparks and Frostbite are still viable. Sparks is perfect for running a mage out of magicka and keeping their pools empty. Frostbite allows the sorcerer to out pace a warrior one on one while also taking away their ability to power attack and gain that extra ground. The transient sorcerer is far from a  tank so keep your wits about you and know what spell to use.

    Basic Restoration is amazing! A dual cast Healing spell with Regeneration can refill your relatively small health pool in mere seconds and for so little magicka. Lesser Ward is just as effective and makes dragon battles a breeze. For high level dragons I'd rely on a good flesh spell, the Lesser Ward for elemental breath, Marked for Death, and Mehrunes Razor. With just enough health and defense to avoid a kill cam I went undefeated.

    Mixed into our very basic spell list is a touch of chronomancy. The Quick Reflexes perk and the first word of Slow Time allow the transient sorcerer to briefly slow his surroundings. This small time lapse creates opportunities to set up spell combos, dodge enemy attacks, and offers more chances for Mehrunes Razor to insta-slay. Stability further increases these abilities by 50%.


    Bag O' Tricks


    The sorcerer turns his familiar into a decoy, coaxing enemies into attacking an illusion.

    Huge credit to Vazgen for this awesome trick. Casting Ash Shell on your Familiar creates a huge distraction! Once attained, Mirage is useful in every situation. Even dragons will attack the invulnerable, ashen familiar!


    Epic Flames

    The transient sorcerer has developed simple, conjured flames into a blazing cone of death!

    Aspect of Terror, Augmented Flames, and Dual Casting boost the standard 8 dmg Flames spell to 48 dmg/sec! Even Dunmer are owned by the burnination! Store-bought Destruction Potions and Aversion to Fire Poisons can further increase the onslaught.



    Master sorcerers become so attuned to the ebb and flow of magicka that they can absorb an enemy's spell, replenishing their pool.

    Once the Aetherial Crown is acquired, the Atronach Stone can be stored for the option of 0%, 50%, or 100% magicka absorption at anytime in conjunction with Dragonskin.


    Temporal Bind

    The transient sorcerer doubly lags the flow of time creating enough opportunity to turn the tide of any battle.

    By casting Slow Time just after Quick Reflexes ends, time slows for way too long. Waiting an hour will end the time lag.


    Ash Tomb
    The foe is buried alive in an ashen coffin. As claustrophobia sets in, the enemy loses the will to fight.
    Casting Ash Shell on an enemy that has been affected by Marked for Death will stop the health damage of MfD but their armor rating will continue to decrease! Great for taking a tough enemy out of the fight while you deal with his minions.


    True to its name, the transient sorcerer wanders throughout Skyrim visiting every hold and captivating crowds with sleight of hand and charm. The quests listed are some of my favorite in Skyrim and create a unique questline suited for a charismatic drifter. I wanted to create a character that strayed away from all the typical guild questlines, opting for strange and fun side quests instead. It was definitely a breath of fresh air. Many of the quests offer chances to flex the sorcerer's speechcraft  too, rewarding those with strong character (Speech skill).

    The Bard's College is a must for an adventuring sorcerer and was the only place in Skyrim that felt like home. Giraud Gemane offers Speech training in the early stages of the build. The College provides a place to rest and easy quests that boost all of our skills. Even the people are fun to be around, performing outside and telling stories. It's the perfect place for a drifter who likes to trade stories with other raconteurs over a mug o'mead. After completing the related quests at the Bard's College, I felt obligated to jump off of Bard's Leap Summit and hear another famous bard's tale for more free Speech training.

    Many of the quests I chose reflected a traveler's first visit to any of the holds and what they might easily observe and possibly offer to help. For instance, the nightmares in  Dawnstar, the murders in Windhelm, or the forsworn conspiracy in Markarth. The "questline" is packed with all kinds of shenanigans that the transient sorcerer will have to overcome with wit, some basic magic, and a little luck at times. The listed quests fulfill most of the build but traveling is the main aspect of it all. I avoided fast travel quite a bit and did lots of exploring in random caves and tombs. It's definitely a whimsical build which is probably the best way to play Skyrim, going where you please and doing things for no other reason than the adventure of it all.

    As I said, I wanted to create a build that strayed from the normal questlines and it was definitely a success in my experience. Hope you guys enjoyed the read and thanks for all the support over the past year or so. All art credits are in the attached document. I pulled from some really great artists and they definitely deserve the credit. This will be my last build for awhile but I'll be around -- your friendly neighborhood Trickmaster Al.

    "All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost."- J. R. R. Tolkien

  • Member
    November 4, 2014
    Well thanks for the honesty Derek and thanks for the support. When I played the build I didn't actually use the dagger for much more than Quick Reflexes until I got Mehrunes Razor which helped with tough enemies. If you wanted to you could pick up a torch instead of a dagger and use Quick Reflexes like that! The point of that ability is to buy time for your Familiar and Marked for Death while avoiding damage.
  • November 4, 2014
    I didn't even realize this was your build till the very end! I love the simplicity of this Mage and the natural fun factor you emphasize. Great way to refresh Skyrim. +1
  • Member
    November 4, 2014
    Well I'm not giving up on it yet when I start to build my goal is to get it to level 50 just gotta figure out a way to make it work for me
  • Member
    November 4, 2014
    I gotcha brother. What difficulty do you play on btw?
  • Member
    November 4, 2014
    Thanks Wicked. Haven't seen you around lately. Glad to see you pop in every once in awhile. I think your build hit Recognized btw ;) The Transient Sorcerer was a big change up for me. All of my builds have stuck to the guild questlines for the most part so it was fun to ignore them all and try something new questline wise and gameplay wise.
  • Member
    November 4, 2014
    Master. Also did you kill the Mehrunes dagger guy?
  • Member
    November 4, 2014
    Yep, I sure did. I always lended a hand in towns but I did a few things for myself. My character was a bit neutral. I definitely kept Frost, the horse you pretty much take from that Letrush guy :)
  • Member
    November 5, 2014
    Well finally made it to 50, not a bad character. The only gripe I can say that I had with it was the use of a dagger but it was still a awesome build. Now the next build I'm going to try I'm going to look for a pure necromancer no destruction spells
  • Member
    November 5, 2014
    I've been going with a shield instead... I wanted all my damage coming from magicka, and since you have a limited amount of stamina with this build I'm not even bashing. I haven't got Slow Time yet, so I only grab the shield when I'm one on one with a tough melee enemy and would like a greater sense of control. But when I grab that shout I'm gonna start burnin' me some mobs!!! :D