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Character Build: The Mirage

Tags: #Character Build Dual-Wield  #Character Build No Crafting  #Character Build Vampire  #Race:Redguard  #Rank:Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build  #Raidriar 
  • Member
    February 24, 2015

    Hello all, Trollmaster Raidriar here! This build was all about trying new things for me. Unarmoured, Elemental Fury, assassinating without the monotonous backstabs, Redguards, and most importantly, no crafting! That means no time spent hunched over those time consuming labs, tables and forges! For once, I have managed to forgo Alchemy, instead focusing on a build that can be powerful on Legendary difficulty without even touching the grindfest that is crafting! Surely I must be joking? Some say playing on Legendary without crafting is impossible; I wanted to prove otherwise…

    The sands of time come for us all…

    There are whispers among the Redguard people of a… creature. A being, born of the deserts, yet untouched by time itself. An ancient guardian, who fights as gracefully as the wind and bends the sands to his will…

    Some speculate this being doesn’t exist. There is no creature out there, haunting the sands, and killing in the name of the greater good. It is simply a tale, an illusion, a…



    The Build

    Race: Redguard Vampire. As this build is all about speed, Adrenaline Rush is a must have, and once again we will be reaping the benefits of the Necromage perk!

    Stone: Lady. Handy when you’re trapped in the daylight and forced to fight, this really increases the survivability of a vampire character, especially one on Legendary.

    Shouts: Dragon Aspect, Elemental Fury, Marked for Death, Throw Voice

    Stats: 2:1:3. This limits Health to a maximum of 200, gives a sizeable Magicka pool of 300, and 400 Stamina for power attacks.

    Major Skills: One Handed, Sneak, Alteration

    Minor Skills: Conjuration, Restoration, Illusion

    Weapons: Nordic Sword, Nordic Dagger

    Apparel: Redguard Robes, Shrouded Hood, Shoes and Hand Wraps, Amulet of Talos, Ring of Peerless Magicka

    Recommended Quests: Destroy the Dark Brotherhood, A New Order, Bolstering the Ranks, Dragonborn, Raven Rock Mine, From the Ashes, College of Winterhold,

    Now with a name like “The Mirage” you’ve got a lot to live up to. This build is all about creating illusions, manipulating your enemies and sometimes reality itself to give you the upper hand in battle. With only 250 AR at this build’s peak, you’ll never be going toe to toe with the big bads. Instead, you’ll appear to never fight them at all, and that’s where the beauty of this build comes to light; you strike so damn fast your enemies don’t have a clue what hit them.

    Sporting only six skills, five of which you’ll use actively, perk placement can be a lot more focused. Illusion is only required for Quiet Casting, which creates our first mirage of spells appearing out of thin air. This enhances not only our other spell schools, but also our shouts, which are now completely silent. As a result, you’re quickly becoming a true master of the shadows.

    Damage comes from two places. The Mirage is famed for his wind-like speed, and dual wielding a sword and dagger maximises your attack power. Throw in Necromage, Dual Flurry and Elemental Fury and you’re moving so fast they can’t even see you. Restoration gives you some extra attacks against the undead, turning those lumbering fools into probably the easiest enemies you’ll face! No longer will you have to worry about pesky deathlords disarming you, since you’ll be doing so much damage to them with Necromage enhanced sun spells that they won’t know what hit them.

    Alteration and Conjuration make up your magic of the desert, with Ash summons being used exclusively once unlocked. Since you’re casting them at massive range, an Ash Spawn can easily become a scout, drawing enemies from hiding. On the other hand, an Ash Guardian is best used at choke points, blocking exits or entrances for enemies. Alteration provides a whole host of useful effects, of which the Mirage uses all. No spell is useless!

    Finally, Sneak ties everything together, keeping the Mirage unseen and unknown. Shadows are your real armour here, providing more defence than any flesh spell can offer.

    As the Mirage, you have a number of tricks up your sleeve. Firstly, let’s talk stealth. With Stealth 5/5, you’re already 40% harder to detect while sneaking. All vampires gain an inherent sneak bonus with Nightstalker’s Footsteps, adding another 25%. This fraction is multiplied with Necromage, making you 31% harder to detect while sneaking. This gives us 71% Fortify Sneak, a number any assassin would be jealous of. But it’s still not enough. The Mirage must surpass all expectations in order to survive on Legendary, so we throw in the Shrouded Hood. Not only do you look baller, you also gain another 25% Fortify Sneak. Once again enhanced by Necromage to give us 31%.

    So let’s recap… 40% (Stealth 5/5) + 31% (Nightstalker’s Footsteps) + 31% (Shrouded Hood) = 102% harder to detect while sneaking! That doubles your potential, making you practically invisible to enemies in the darkness. In fact, you can even walk right up to most foes and they still won’t notice you! Not to mention you’re completely silent, thanks to Muffled Movement, Silence and the Muffle enchantment on the Shrouded Shoes. With Quiet Casting your spells are also silent, so you can remain perpetually in the shadows if you so choose! It’s practically the Chameleon spell from Oblivion.

    Another of the Mirage’s illusions is one of speed. When he needs to, the Mirage can emerge from the shadows to attack an unsuspecting enemy at blinding speeds. Be ready for some more maths, but it’s worth reading, trust me.

    Primarily, we need Necromage. This forms the foundation of the Mirage’s speed, and makes such sense. Vampires are known for being superhumanly fast, and the Mirage takes this to the next level. After perking Necromage, take both ranks of Dual Flurry. These perks would increase your swing speed when dual wielding by 20% and 35%, but as a Necromage Vampire you can boost these numbers.

    As you all know, Necromage increases the power of all spell effects on an undead by 25%. It also happens to increase some perks as well, Dual Flurry being one of them. Normally your swing speed would be 1.0, 1.35 with Dual Flurry 2/2. Necromage applies not only to the perk, but to the base swing speed as well. So we’re getting a 25% faster swing speed from 1.35, which ends up at 1.69. That’s pretty impressive on its own, but not nearly enough for the Mirage.

    Next bring in Elemental Fury. Each rank increases swing speed by 1.3, 1.5 and 1.7 points respectively. Naturally, we’re going for that 1.7. With Necromage, that number is boosted up 25% to 2.125 points. Now the real synergy between Dual Flurry and Elemental Fury is they stack additively. You read that right, it’s 1.69 + 2.125. This gives us 3.815 swing speed. That’s right, almost four times faster than your average Dragonborn.

    But that’s not all. Dragon Aspect boosts the power of Elemental Fury by 25%. And since we’re casting it on ourselves, Dragon Aspect gets a 25% increase from Necromage. 25 x 1.25 = 31.25. We get to multiply Elemental Fury’s already ridiculous +2.125 swing speed by 1.3125, which leaves us with 2.8 faster swing speed. Add that to our 1.69 from Necromage enhanced Dual Flurry, and we get 4.49 swing speed. Four and a half times faster! Why, it’s greased lightning!

    Now how does this all tie together? We’ve got a sneaky vampire ninja with lightning fast attacks, little defence and desert magic.

    Straight off the bat you’ll want to get Necromage. I personally picked up the Atronach Stone, travelled to Raldbthar and just rubber banded my triggers while making lunch. It takes around one and a half hours to reach level 70, if you’re very particular about not levelling too much. I had Necromage by level 12, but you could just as easily get it sooner, since I was level 6 when I reached Riverwood. This should leave you with some spare perks.

    Next you’ll want to join the Dawnguard and play up to finishing A New Order. As Isran doesn't seem to like vampires (who knew?), he'll force you to be a human to complete the above quest, which would mess up your enhanced perks. So, hold off becoming a Vampire until after A New Order, when you're guaranteed a place in the Dawnguard. With that done, the best place to become a vampire is Haemar’s Shame, as there’s a Vampire Fledgling not too far in. Make sure you have unequipped the Atronach Stone, as that interferes with contracting the disease. After you’ve become a vampire you can perk Dual Flurry and acquire your shouts. I also recommend grinding for Quiet Casting at this stage too. Muffle is your best friend here, and can be used at early levels to remain entirely silent and train Illusion.

    Early game I recommend sneaking everywhere, and picking your battles if you can. Atronachs can draw some attention and create distractions, allowing you to sneak past. Only engage if you’re sure of winning the fights. Using Elemental Fury then assassinating someone is a good idea, as with the Shrouded Gloves you’ll be doing three lots of double power backstabs in quick succession.

    Mages and archers should be targeted first, as they can destroy you at earlier levels (and later levels, for that matter. Always take the ranged foes first). Staggers and power attacks are your best friends, anything to stop your enemies attacking you.

    At later levels the fun really sets in. Ash Spawn are hardy summons with a decent ranged attack, and if cast into the centre of an area will pull enemies. Since you’ll be completely silent, don’t hesitate to run straight up to distracted foes and flurry them in the back. They should go down very quickly. If your summon is still alive, consider taking another foe. Otherwise, retreat and regroup, and plan your next attack. Elemental Fury can be used almost perpetually with both an Amulet and Blessing of Talos and Necromage, with the shout lasting 22.5 seconds and taking 25 seconds to cool down thanks to 50% cool down reduction.

    Shadow Warrior is a massive blessing, allowing for even more misdirection. If you’re seen, drop, roll and flurry your foe in the back. Alternatively, if they’re particularly tough, encase them in ash to save them for later. Ash Shell a couple of enemies, especially ranged ones in group fights so you can take some heat off. Use Poison Runes as well for added damage, or sun spells when fighting undead. Stendarr’s Aura can be great if your undead enemies are targeting a summon, as it provides some wide ranged DoT.

    Speaking of summons, learn when to use an Ash Spawn and when to use an Ash Guardian. Guardians can be great at holding tight locations, blocking passages or escape routes, while Ash Spawn are better used to draw an enemy’s ire, creating distractions. Both can be cast at massive range thanks to Summoner; just don’t forget your heartstones, since an angry Ash Guardian can make quick work of you.

    As for dragons, I recommend not engaging them unless you have to. Try and amass some souls mid game, when your abilities outclass the dragon’s, so you can unlock shouts at your leisure. Otherwise, bring a follower when you know you have to fight one (Sahrotaar, for example). Remember, you fight like a vigilante. Pick your battles, always act in the name of the ‘greater good’. How you justify your actions is up to you, as everything can be viewed as a means to an end. This can lead to a very deep character, who rationalises their decisions as being all about the destination, not the journey. Destroying the Dark Brotherhood, for example, can certainly be seen as a ‘good’ thing, however, it could merely be a way of removing any competition, and not an act of compassion or justice.


    Cyclone Strikes – The Mirage’s signature move, allowing you to enter a state of supreme speed to decimate your enemies. Moving like the wind itself, your strikes deal massive damage and stagger enemies constantly.

    This is your go-to attack in combat, and can be used in almost any situation. It best synergises with Decoy, when your enemy is distracted by your summon. Circle around them and strike them in the back, staggering them and preventing them from retaliating. This also gives your summon a chance to get some damage in too, and you can potentially kill a foe in a couple of seconds as a result. Since you have Quiet Casting, you can also activate Elemental Fury while sneaking, allowing for some rapid backstabs before engaging. I recommend not using this in sneak mode after an initial attack, as your swing speed is significantly lessened.

    Requires: Necromage, Dual Flurry 2/2, Elemental Fury


    Phantom Charge – My preferred method of transport as the Mirage, which is actually faster than a werewolf in sprint mode*. The Mirage is known for moving at blinding speeds, and this move solidifies the claim.

    Critical Charge is a very interesting perk to say the least. When holding the attack button and sprinting, you leap and power attack your enemy, doing critical damage. However, when sprinting and only tapping the attack button, it allows you to perform a constant sprint while slashing at the same time. The speed at which you run in this state is actually determined by your swing speed. Synergy or what? By activating Cyclone Strikes then entering a Critical Charge sprint, you’ve got 22.5 seconds of moving very fast, for the same amount of stamina as sprinting. While I used it more as a method of transportation, this can easily be used to rush enemies in battle then fly straight past them, or as an escape when the odds are turning against you.

    Requires: Cyclone Strikes, Critical Charge


    Decoy – When in battle, the Mirage can call upon a creature of the desert to distract his foes, while he vanishes from sight and reappears elsewhere moments later. Little do his enemies realise he is right behind them, ready to strike.

    Probably your most tactical move, which really depends upon your skill at playing the Mirage. Mastering this ability is key to your survival on Legendary. By entering sneak mode with Shadow Warrior perked, you’ll become invisible for a second of two. Use this opportunity to roll behind your foes, then immediately summon an Ash Spawn in the direction they are facing. Doing this breaks the invisibility, but it won’t matter because you are no longer in your enemies’ lines of sight, and an Ash Spawn is. This hardy summon provides a useful distraction, letting you regroup, escape or recommence the attack.

    Requires: Shadow Warrior, Silent Roll, Quiet Casting, Ash Spawn


    Ashen Tomb – When facing a particularly tough foe, the Mirage can trap them in a tomb of ash, crippling them while they lay immobilised and helpless. The Mirage can either leave his ensnared opponent, or wait until they are freed and slay them instantly due to the ash’s deadly magic.

    Sometimes you will have to fight some difficult opponents, with no chance of escape. These foes are usually Forsworn, who can hit ridiculously hard and have insane detection skills, leaving you at your most vulnerable. At this stage, you’ll need to fight dirty (or dirtier than you have been fighting already). Shouting Marked for Death will have them losing their armour rating every second, making them far easier to kill after the 60 seconds are up. However, you’ll need to survive that heart-pounding minute if you’re ever to stand a chance at killing them. Casting Ash Shells on your enemies removes them as a threat, and when they re-emerge from their tombs, you can quickly silence them due to their massively weakened state. With Stability, they’ll be in the ash for 45 seconds, which is easily enough time for Marked for Death to take lethal effect.

    Requires: Marked for Death, Ash Shell


    Pestilence – The Mirage knows how to poison and cripple his opponents without ever touching an Alchemy stand, rendering them vulnerable, paralysed and losing health at an alarming rate.

    A variation on Ashen Tomb, Pestilence requires a more direct approach. This is better for situations when fighting one enemy, and you’re feeling too impatient to wait out that 45 seconds, or when you’ve got a limited amount of time to attack a tough foe. Paralysis enhanced with Stability can leave an enemy vulnerable for 15 seconds, and a Poison Rune ensures they are constantly taking damage. In this state you are free to attack them, and by the time they get up your Magicka should have recharged enough to allow you to repeat the process. Since Poison Rune lasts 30 seconds, you shouldn’t need to recast it at all.

    Requires: Paralysis, Stability, Poison Rune


    Immolation - Through hidden knowledge of the sun itself learnt from the Dawnguard, the Mirage can channel light to slay his undead brethren with ease. Alight with holy fire, not even death can resist this obscure yet immensely powerful branch of desert magic.

    For those interested in the actual mechanics involved with this ability, check out James' discussion linked below. For now, I'll try to keep the maths to a minimum and focus on some basic numbers, namely damage. The damage of sun spells, in this case Vampire's Bane, can be boosted massively by manipulating Taper mechanics. When Dual Casted under the effects of Shalidor's Insights: Destruction and an Elixir of Destruction, you'll do 198 damage + 40 afterburn per spell. Necromage can boost this number to a massive 248 damage + 223 afterburn, meaning 471 damage per spell (all numbers rounded). You'll be melting undead like ice creams on a summer's day!

    Requires: Shalidor's Insights: Destruction, Elixir of Destruction, Necromage, Vampire's Bane

    Closing Notes and Credits:

    Note: In truth I didn’t start this build on Legendary difficulty. I doubt any build can actually manage this from square one. However, I believe it is one of the only builds that can excel on Legendary at such an early level. Once you’ve acquired Elemental Fury (which happens in the teens), you’re set! Before then, I’d advise playing Master, so that the change is less drastic, or trying your luck on Legendary from the get-go.

    *Disclaimer: Phantom Charge is faster than a werewolf when player is sprinting at full stamina. Once stamina/Elemental Fury runs out werewolf catches up, and has faster stamina regeneration so will win in the long run.

    James for his How 'Afterburn' damage works in Skyrim discussion

    Teccam for his input and inspiration to check out the above topic

    Alastor's Transient Sorcerer for the Ashen Tomb technique

    Google, Deviantart and Thraen for the various images

  • Member
    February 24, 2015

    Ugh Necromage. Some of us have it patched, or use overhauls which remove the perk entirely. Apart from that, I love how zippy this guy is, it's as if not only is he one with the shadows, but you don't know which shadows he is one with because he is all over the place! Also I've never actually used Elemental Fury, perked Dual Flurry 2/2, or played a Redguard to a high level, so I might give this a try.

  • Member
    February 24, 2015

    I know mate, you can feel like you're breaking the game with that perk. That's what got me playing on Legendary to begin with, first with crafting on the White Walker and now without for the Mirage. Zippy is a brilliant word for this guy too! If you do play it, be sure to let me know how it goes.

  • Member
    February 24, 2015
    Necromage vampire, Dual Flurry, Elemental Fury, Dragon Aspect, Paralysis, MfD. You done broked the game Raid lol! I've done the weapon speed thing myself and even on Master enemies were just falling to ribbons. I'd say it's Legendary or bust with this one. Very OP but also very fun. How many times did you get kill-cammed though? I bet it was ridiculous with 200 Health on Legendary.

    The listed quests pretty much put together the build but was there anything else you did? Those quests are pretty short and I bet you flew through em with these mechanics. Only appropriate thing I could think of would be the Dark Brotherhood but you killed them all lol.

    Love that Ashen Tomb move! It worked wonders for my equally squishy sorcerer.
  • Member
    February 24, 2015

    I think if I play it I'll combine it with Henson's Hashashin if you don't mind 

  • Member
    February 24, 2015
    Too right Al! It had to be Legendary with this guy, dudes were getting slaughtered left right and centre on Master. Funnily enough, I only got killcammed when I really messed up, or some bandit chief felt like glitching the game back and flying across a room to headbutt me. Most of the time enemies were facing away from me, getting staggered on concentrating on my summons, so I had surprisingly few fits at the TV for stupid killcams. Dragons were a problem, but like I said a follower is pretty much a must for those guys! Those were only recommended quests, I should probably add stuff like the College which was fun, as well as the rest of the Volkihar and some random sidequests. Yeah, your Transient Sorcerer did inspire that move! So useful on Legendary against those tough Falmer or Banditos.
  • Member
    February 24, 2015
    Sure thing mate. Though his desert vampire easily trumps mine!
  • Member
    February 24, 2015

    Raid....this is fraking awesome dude, I LOVE speedsters, and this makes assassinations fun and zippy

  • Member
    February 24, 2015
    Kill cams are ridiculous on my current build. Also 100 Health, 0 AR. It's been great though. Most characters I play never die. I think I design them that way lol! But my next build is a different thing altogether. I'm really glad to see new builds from you though. A lot of people may be tired of Necromage but I like that you're pushing it's limits further than anyone else has done thusly. Slow Time became Stop Time, Elemental Fury became "What was tha-" *dead*. There are such a wide variety of abilities that can be coupled with it to make entirely new builds and you've done a great job! I'm particularly interested in your upcoming wizard build.
  • Member
    February 24, 2015
    Looking forward to it! And yeah, Necromage has played a massive part in several of my recent builds. I'm sorta addicted to it lol. And you're right, the possibilities with it are endless. Looking forward to messing with James' taper mechanic stuff in my next build. And which wizard? :D