Skyrim Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: The Sapiarch

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    This build has been a long time coming. Kaiser and I first conceived this baby nearly a year ago, at the dawn of the "Classes" Character Building Event. After all manner of distractions, we finally buckled down and got it done.

    This was my first collaboration to actually make it past the preliminary testing phase, and it's so rewarding to have seen it evolve. Working with another person, you minimize inefficiency and maximize the potential for awesomeness. I am confident in saying that, for both Kaiser and me, this has been one of the most entertaining playthroughs we've experienced. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have!


    The Crystal Tower was once the pinnacle of magical knowledge and experimentation in Tamriel — until it was destroyed during the Great Anguish. And though the tower itself no longer stands, its power and influence continue to play a key role in the magical community in the Summerset Isles. A society of brilliant arcanists continues to operate under the same framework that was used eras ago, when the tower stood proud. The leaders of this community are called SAPIARCHS, and even amongst the High Elves, their magical abilities are supreme.

    There are only a few known Sapiarchs, and each is exceptionally knowledgeable in his or her chosen field. They are, essentially, magical specialists in one area or another. Example titles include: Sapiarch of Oblivion Study, Sapiarch of Enchantment, Sapiarch of Mythohistory, etc. This broad scope provides a lot of room for roleplay and customization, as the player is able to be the Sapiarch of whatever they desire (e.g., the Sapiarch of Arcane Defense, as Kaiser and I have chosen).

    Race » Altmer

    Attributes » 2 Health / 3 Magicka / 0 Stamina

    Standing Stone » Atronach & Apprentice (via Aetherial Crown)

    Major Skills » Archery, Alchemy, Alteration, Conjuration

    Minor Skills » Destruction, One-Handed, Restoration

    Shouts » Marked for Death, Slow Time, Disarm

    Spells » Fireball, Bound Bow, Bound Sword, Ebonyflesh


    Now you know the lore and the skills, and may have figured out that this is a Witchhunter. But what makes this guy any different than the dozens of other witchhunters here on the blog? Let us explain!

    In the early game, the Sapiarch plays much like a standard archer with some magic mixed in. You’re going to want to nab the Adept Conjuration perk as soon as you can and sprint through Fort Amol to grab Conjure Bound Bow. You should also consider grabbing the Diadem of the Savant from outside Froki's Shack. Combat skills will of course be a priority as you begin to find your way throughout Skyrim.

    The midgame is where this character begins to get interesting. You’ll want to push through the Dawnguard questline until you get to the Soul Cairn. Once you are able to enter the Soul Cairn, find the ten pages from St. Jiub’s Opus and complete his quest to obtain the Locket of St. Jiub. This trinket plays an incredibly important role for the character: It is what allows us to obtain unlimited Stamina!

    This trick is similar to the Unlimited Concentration Casting glitch observed in Mason’s Seraphim. The Stamina mechanic is a bit different from Magicka however: As many of you know by now, as long as you have any amount of Stamina above 0.00, you are able to power attack, sprint, or do pretty much any other action that requires Stamina. Well, this glitch makes it impossible for the player's Stamina to drain all the way down to 0.00 (most likely due to rounding errors within the game engine). Here’s how to achieve this:

    • Do NOT put any points into your stamina pool, it must be at its base 100 for this glitch to work!
    • Obtain St. Jiub’s locket. (This can be done using other pieces of equipment but for our purposes the locket is the best option)
    • Next you will need to drink three specific potions in the following order:
      1. Philter of the Healer
      2. Draught of the Healer
      3. Another Philter of the Healer
    • While the potions are still in effect, equip St. Jiub’s locket.

    After completing the aforementioned steps, you should notice that you are able to run indefinitely, power attack repeatedly, and most importantly, maintain Steady Hand forever. Steady Hand makes moving targets much easier to hit — when you are able to shoot every single arrow in slow motion it becomes very easy to find your mark.

    Level 50 perks — click the image to expand for easier reading

    The endgame is where the character truly shines. Draugr, vampires, and other undead creatures will burn in a blaze of glory. James's discussion on Afterburn damage outlines just how powerful this character becomes when facing undead foes. By grabbing the Necromage perk from the Restoration tree, you will be able to deal insane amounts of damage against undead enemies by taking advantage of the ‘afterburn’ effect of Fireball.

    The task of leveling Restoration up to level 70 for the Necromage perk is often a daunting one. However, by utilizing our good friend Florentius at Fort Dawnguard, you can receive Master training in Restoration. Florentius is perfect for training, because he also buys potions from the player. You can sell all those concoctions you’ve been creating while leveling up Alchemy, and finance Restoration at the same time and place!

    Finally, the Sapiarch utilizes 100% Spell Absorption. Seeing Alchemy and the Aetherial Crown with both the Atronach and Apprentice stones probably made you think the "Advanced Stones" trick would be used. You would be incorrect! This character does in fact achieve 100% Absorbtion in a brand new way … using Alchemy (duh)! With both standing stones, the Sapiarch benefits from +50 Magicka, +50% Spell Absorption, and +50% net Magicka Regeneration. By drinking a custom potion of Fortify Destruction with a magnitude of at least 67% prior to selecting the Atronach perk in the Alteration skill tree, you are able to enhance its effects from 30% to over 50%. This combined with the Atronach standing stone easily achieves max Spell Absorption and makes the Weakness to Magicka debuff provided by the Apprentice Stone irrelevant!


    It is very important that you never remove the Locket of St. Jiub, or you will lose your infinite Stamina! So Fortify Alchemy necklaces are off limits! I used the Ring of Pure Mixtures, a set of Major Alchemy Bracers, and an Extreme Alchemy Circlet. This totals +51% Alchemy, and when you throw in the Seeker of Shadows passive, it behaves like +66% Alchemy. Which in turn yields nice, rounded potion numbers, as expressed below:

    Tincture of the Tower

    Effects » Marksman +100% & Health Regen +125%

    Ingredients » Canis Root, Juniper Berries, Namira's Rot

    Crystalline Spirit

    Effects » Destruction +125% & Fortify Health +100

    Ingredients » Glowing Mushroom, Nightshade, Wheat

    Toxin of Alinor

    Effect » Damage Health -125 & Lingering Damage -25/s for 10 seconds

    Ingredients » Imp Stool, Mora Tapinella, River Betty


    Focus Mode

    The Sapiarch of Arcane Defense is able to enter an intensive state of calm and control when he draws his bow, and he can remain in this state for ever. Rumor tells of a time when he maintained this state for a night and a day, when challenged by a fellow Sapiarch.

    Requires » Infinite Stamina + Steady Hand + Ranger

    Ultimate Focus

    Through years of practice and experimentation, the Sapiarch has learned how to reach an even deeper state of focus, even when using spells and swords. In this state, he moves faster than his opponents, and slows time around him even more. But only for a few moments at a time.

    Requires » Slow Time + Tincture of the Tower


    The Sapiarch has spent centuries honing his craft. Through his adventures and experiments, he has learned how to make short work of undead enemies. With this combination of skills, he can dish out truly massive (read: ~950) damage, and at minimal cost to his Magicka pool.

    Requires » Necromage + Crystalline Spirit + Dual-Casting + Fireball

    In case it wasn't already clear, this build was a joint effort between Kaiser and me. So any positive feedback should be directed as much to him as to me. Kaiser, it's been a true pleasure working with you on this build. I couldn't be more proud of how it turned out!

    We also owe thanks to James. His findings regarding Taper Damage and Infinite Stamina were both core components of this build from the very beginning. He was also the one who turned us on to the "advanced Atronach perk". This build really wouldn't have been possible without his contributions! James, I know you haven't been around much lately, but if you see this, I owe you a beer or something.

    The header art is called "Rhanloo" by Anndr. Gorgeous piece!

    Here's an album of 50+ 1080p screenshots of this guy in action, for anyone who wants more! Also have a quick video demonstrating how to activate infinite Stamina for your convenience.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    Just wanted to say how absolutely awesome it was working with you Teccam! It may have taken a year but it turned out better than I ever hoped! Let's do it again sometime 

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    Do you guys have a full version of that last screen shot? Because it's freaking stunning. This looks like a fantastic character; well done, both of you!

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    Likewise, buddy. Absolute pleasure, and I'd be happy to do it again! There's actually a really good chance that I'll be sending you a message sometime in the next few days, to talk about some of the ideas I've been sitting on. 

    And thanks for letting me be the one to post it!

    Also, while I'm here, let me share a quick video showing how to do the infinite Stamina trick and proving that it works as claimed:

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    I took the shot with ENB's letterbox effect enabled, so the aspect ratio will be the same. But I've uploaded the original 1080p screenshot, sans letterbox, to imgur. If there's any interest, I actually have around 50+ shots of this guy that I could upload to an album.

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    You totally should.

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    That last screenshot is my favorite too! As soon as Teccam sent it to me it became my desktop screensaver! 

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    Ask and you shall receive. But first, I need a quick break! They're on my other computer anyway. I'll have the album online within the hour though, or your money back. 

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    Great build! +1

  • Member
    March 25, 2015

    This game is close to 4 years old but people can still churn out unique builds which is very impressive.

    I like the use of that infinite stamina glitch and the new way of gaining spell absorption. At first I thought this would be overpowered because of those 2 things but when I saw that it didn't have any armor and did not utilize any Flesh spells, I really think this would be an absolute blast to play. You are powerful but very vulnerable to one hit kills especially by archers and hard hitters such as Bandit Chiefs. Makes playing on Master and Legendary thrilling.

    Just one question. What can be an alternative to Ulfric's Bracers? I don't want to tackle the whole Civil War questline just to get his gloves.