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Character Build: The Pyromancer

Tags: #Vargr Build  #Character Build Elementalist  #Character Build Mage  #Character Build Unarmored  #Rank:Mythic 
  • June 23, 2015

    This is my attempt at creating a pure pyromancer character that fits in the game world of Skyrim.  I know that pyromancy and the pyromancer are old concepts that are not unique to this site, game, or genre.  However, while researching this build I found it hard to find what I would call a pure pyromancer build.  I did find many fantastic builds that all used pyromancy to varying degrees, but they all paired it with other combat skills like one-handed.  My attempt here is to create a role-playing build that’s all fire, all mage, all the time.


    Pyromancy is usually seen as a specialization of the broader school of destruction magick; as such it focuses on the creation and control of fire and its uses as a weapon.  However pyromancy, like fire, is not just a weapon.  Sure it can be used to burn your enemies to a pile of ash, but just as fire brings death it can also bring life.  Fire heats homes, cooks food, and cauterizes wounds.  The smith uses fire to purify metals and form them into both weapons of war and beautiful jewelry.  Fire gives us light to see but can also blind us with its brilliance.  The pyromancer studies and uses all the aspects of fire.

    Race:  Any, every race starts off knowing the flames spell which fits the role of an aspiring mage seeking to further his pyromantic abilities.  I played as a Dunmer for the fire resistance and Ancestor’s Wrath, an Altmer for the boost in magicka and Highborn, and an Argonian for the dragon like look.

    Stone:  Mage to start us off then the Lord stone for some much needed defense.

    Major Skills:  Destruction, Conjuration, Enchanting.

    Minor Skills:  Illusion, Alteration, Restoration, Alchemy.

    Stat Placement:  M: 3 H: 2 S: 0 until you reach 200 Health then put every point into Magicka.

    Weapons:  Pyromancy, Staves.

    Apparel:  My choices were based more on appearances then on usefulness.  With that in mind some good pyromancer outfits are the Mythic Dawn set and the Cultist set with a novice hood.  Both sets look the part of a Pyromancer and aside from the chest they can be enchanted to make them more useful as well.  My personal end game set were Master Robes of Conjuration, Apprentice Hood, Mythic Dawn Gloves(fortify magicka and fortify alchemy), Dunmer Shoes(fortify destruction and fortify magicka regen) this fit my role as a master wizard of the college being both useful and looking the part.

    Gear:  Necromancer’s Amulet, Ahzidal's Ring of Arcana, Ahzidal.

    Shouts:   Fire Breath, Become Ethereal.

    Followers:  Flame Atronachs, Flame Cloaked Spiders, Steadfast Dwarven Constructs, the Steam Animunculi. (See below)

    Perk Spread: Level 25

    Destruction:  The Pyromancers main offensive skill.  The perks here are all taken to improve our fire magick.  Take all the cost reduction perks to save us needing to enchant cost reduction on our gear.

    Conjuration:  The Pyromancer is adept at creating fire elementals.  Go up the atronach branch to buff our fire summons.  Don’t bother with the cost reduction perks, most of these spells are low level and the Necromancer’s Amulet will go a long way in reducing their costs.

    Enchanting:  This skill is used more for our follower than it is for us.  Go all the way up to Extra Effect and grab the Fire Enchanter perk.

    Illusion:  Level this up to 50 and grab the Aspect of Terror perk to boost the damage of our fire spells.

    Alteration:  For aid in casting the ash spells and magic resistance.  Most of the early leveling of this skill comes from transmuting iron into gold for early game coin.

    Restoration:  What we are really interested in are the Recovery perks to boost our magicka regen.

    Alchemy:  This skill provides the boost our pyromancy needs to be effective against bosses in the late game through fortify destruction potions.  Take all the Alchemist perks, Physician, and Benefactor. 

    Perk Spread: Level 60

    The Beginning

    An important part of any role-play is the origin story.  You need to know how you got to Helgen in the first place.  To that end I’ve crafted three origin stories for the pyromancers that I played.  For this build the escape from Helgen is actually about half way through the characters origin story the rest will actually be played in game.

    The Dunmer Fisherman:  Your home is the shack on the northern coast of Solsthiem, near the Thalmor landing party.  Your Grandfather recently died and now you are free to pursue magick since you are no longer caring for him.  You’re rejected by Neloth who already has an apprentice, so you book passage to Skyrim with your life savings.  I imagined that I was on a boat with Erandur and Brelyna.  You are arrested by Ulfric’s honor guard just outside Winterhold, guilty of being Dunmer in Skyrim.  However, Ulfric and his men are attacked and captured by the legion before they can reach Windhelm.  This is how you end up in Helgen, the Legion just lumped all of the prisoners and Stormcloaks together.

    The Altmer Vendor:  Same as above except you worked for your older sisters at Radiant Raiment in Solitude.  You finally convince them to let you pursue an education at the college.   On your way there you are captured by Stormcloaks.

    The Argonian Dock Worker:  You work at the Windhelm docks, which you hate, but your debt and low income have you trapped in this menial profession.  Recently a Dunmer girl on her way to the college tipped you for unloading her luggage with a strange red stone.  Something about the stone woke a magickal aptitude in you.  You could feel the fire within the stone and within yourself.  You see this new ability as your chance to make a better life for yourself.  You abandon you work at the docks and head to the college to learn more, however you are captured by the Legion who believe that you are a courier for the Stormcloaks.

    The Student:  From here the story will be the same no matter what race you chose.  Follow the Main Quest until you return the Dragonstone to Farangar then leave Whiterun for the College.  It never made sense to me that Balgruuf would ask you to fight a dragon at this point in the characters career.  You have only proven to be very capable at fleeing danger, not fighting dragons.  Alternatively you could head straight to the college from Helgen.

    Take your time at the college; don’t just rush through to the end.  I actually never completed the college quest line.  Instead focus on your career as a student perform the side quests that other members give you, study in the Arcaneum, and learn from your teachers.  This is the remainder of the origin story for our pyromancer.   I stopped after meeting with the Augur.  Some other notable quests to flesh out your character and add to his reputation are Blood on the Ice and A Scroll for Anska.

    Now you can resume the main quest and become the Dragonborn.  Balgruuf reaches out to the college for aid in fighting the dragon that has been terrorizing his people.  The college sends you, one of its most accomplished mages.

    The School of Pyromancy

    The School of Pyromancy isn’t limited to just the fire spells from the Destruction Skill but includes a smattering of spells from across all the magick skills.  Here I have compiled a list of the spells that comprise the School of Pyromancy.

    Pyromancy Spells:

    Destruction:  Fire Ball, Fire Rune, Fire bolt, Firestorm, Flame Cloak, Flames, Ignite, Incinerate, Wall of Fire (Our bread and butter.)

    Conjuration:  Conjure Flame Atronach, Flame Thrall, Flaming Familiar, Control Daedra, Banish Daedra, Expel Daedra (Creating and controlling elementals.  For role-play purposes I only used the Banish and Control spells on Flame Atronachs.)

    Alteration:  Candlelight, Magelight (The pyromancer is able to create a small but intensely bright flame, while not practical for offensive purposes it is useful for pushing back the darkness.)

    Illusion:   Clairvoyance (Traditional pyromancy is the ability to discern the future by gazing into the flames.  For role-play purposes I only used this spell while carrying a torch in the other hand.)

    Other powers:  Fire Breath, Flame Cloaked Spider Scroll

    The Aspects of Flame

    There are two major branches in the School of Pyromancy.  They embody the purifying flame and the consuming fire.

    The Purifying Flame:  This branch focuses on the healing and purifying uses of fire.  It will add Restoration as a major skill with a focus on the circle and sun spells of the Restoration school.

    Spells created by the Purifying Flame:

    Alteration:  Transmute (Representing flame purifying ore) Detect Life (the pyromancer has become attuned to the heat of living things in addition to flame and is able to detect other life forms.)

    Restoration:  Healing, Fast Healing (the pyromancer is able to manipulate his own inner flame using it to charge his metabolism and swiftly heal wounds), Circle of Protection, Guardian Circle, Bane of the Undead, Stendarr’s Aura, Vampire’s Bane, Sun Fire

    The Consuming Fire:  This branch focuses on the insatiable hunger of fire as it turns everything to ash.  It will add Alteration as a major skill with a focus on the formidable ash spells.  As well as adding two new summons.

    Spells created by the Consuming Fire:

    Alteration:  Ash Rune, Ash Shell, Flesh spells (the constant use of fire and the burns it incurs has taught the Pyromancer how to toughen his flesh and turn off his pain receptors)

    Conjuration:  Conjure Ash Spawn, Conjure Ash Guardian

    Other powers:  Become Ethereal (the Pyromancer is able to make himself as insubstantial as smoke, attacks pass thru his wavering form)

    Alchemical Concoctions

    The Pyromancer has discovered that some substances can augment magickal ability and unlock hidden potential.  A Pyromancer under the influence of these substances is unmatched in magickal power; unfortunately this enlightened state is short lived.

    The main purpose of the Alchemy skill for the Pyromancer is the creation of Potions of Fortify Destruction.  These potions allow us to bring a quick end to what would otherwise be a long and difficult battle.  Here is a list of some notable pyromantic concoctions.


    Pyromancer’s Accelerant (potion of fortify destruction):  This heady concoction allows the pyromancer to reach greater levels of destruction.  His inner flame becomes a raging fire that burns away any obstacle. 

    Ingredients:  Glowing Mushroom, Nightshade.



    Flame Retardant Salve (potion of resist fire):  This salve protects the pyromancer from others of his kind who are unwilling to share their knowledge.  This salve is particularly useful when facing Ash Spawn on Solstheim. 

    Ingredients:  Dragon’s Tongue, Snowberries.


    The above ingredients were chosen because they can be planted in your Hearthfire house’s garden and greenhouse.  They are relatively easy to find and are often carried by alchemy vendors.

    Atronach Essence (potion of fortify magicka regen, restore magicka, and resist fire):  The distilled essence of a flame atronach, when inhaled it infuses the pyromancer with some of the elemental creature’s power.

    Ingredients:  Fire Salts, Taproot, Spawn Ash.

     The Rite of Combustion

    The Pyromancer gives his body over to the flames allowing the immolation of his physical form.  The burning of the flesh reveals new secret pyromancies and a greater understanding of the nature of flame.

    This is the power-leveling technique that I used specifically to level Illusion for the Aspect of Terror perk.  This perk is a must for any pyromancer as it boosts the damage of our fire spells.  After you get both Augmented Flames perks, and the Intense Flames perk, pick up the Atronach stone.  Then head over to Cronvangr Cave, north from the Atronach Stone, there is a fire trap behind a secret door in the first room.  The flames will replenish your magicka allowing for more castings of Muffle.  This is a more thematic and immersive way for the pyromancer to power-level the illusion skill until we can take the Aspect of Terror perk.  You can also use the Rite of Combustion to boost the Restoration skill for the Purifying Flame Pyromancer.

    The Steam Animunculi

    Following ancient Dwemer schematics, the Pyromancer has constructed his own personnel animunculi and lit its long extinguished boiler with the magick flames of Pyromancy.

    This was inspired by the popular Sentinel builds here on the blog.  Choose a combat follower like one of the housecarls and equip them with all dwarven armor and weapons.  You have now created the Steam Animunculi.  Without smithing it can take a while to collect a full set.  This represents the pyromancer researching the various ruins that are dotted around Skyrim, and slowly unlocking the secrets of the dwarven constructs creation and animation through a combination of fire magick and steam works.  Enchant the armor with fire resistance and fortify health/health regen.  Enchant the weapons with fire damage and fiery soul trap.  I used my follower to fill my soul gems since we don’t make use of any weapons or the soul trap spell.  Don’t forget to get the Steadfast Dwarven Pets in Kagrumez to complete your menagerie. 

    A Master Pyromancer with a Steam Animunculi, Dwarven Sphere, two Flame Thralls, and six Flame Cloaked Spiders in tow is an awesome sight.  Have fun burning all who stand against you.

    Play Style

    This is a glass cannon build.  The Pyromancer is able to dole out a significant amount of damage in a very short time, but is also very vulnerable with his low health stat.  Make sure to set up your defenses before you start a fight, unlike some other glass cannons you are not suited to running and gunning due to your low stamina.  Try to find hard to reach areas like the tops of rubble piles or behind tables, something that creates an obstacle for your enemies to reach you.  Use your runes defensively the goal is to kill your enemies before they are close enough to trigger the rune.  They act as your last line of defense before you take an ax to the face.  Use your summons and followers to shield yourself and distract your enemies.  This build requires some finesse to use effectively in battle, you are too fragile to go solo but the destructive nature of your magic puts your followers at risk.  You’ll need to learn which spell to use in each situation to maximize your combat potential while not killing your follower in the process.  Practice your marksmanship when it comes to spells.

    Focus on taking out ranged combatants like archers and enemy mages, while your follower occupies the melee.  There are two notable enemies to be aware of, first are the dragons.  They have an innate fire resistance and are able to pour out tons of damage quickly with their breath.  When facing dragons use your wits, try to keep your distance and blast them from afar, or lure them into combat with others.  One of my favorite techniques is luring a dragon into a giant’s camp.  I’ve found that giants and mammoths are effective dragon slayers.  The other enemies of note are the ash spawn on Solstheim.  They are highly fire resistant, though not immune, it will take you a long time to burn them out so let your follower do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to these guys.

    Notable Pyromancy Locations

    The quests you take on after becoming thane of Whiterun are up to you, however I’ve taken the liberty of listing some notable locations that the Pyromancer might be interested in, in no particular order they are…

    White Ridge Barrow:  The Sallow Regent Black Book is located here inside of which the Flame Thrall spell tome can be found.  This location also has the crafting station for spider scrolls allowing you to make some Flame Cloaked Spiders (albino spider pod, salt pile, ruby.)

    Yisra’s beachside combustion:  Keep following the coast east of Dawnstar and you’ll come across Yisra’s corpse surrounded by small fires next to the corpse is a Flame Cloak spell tome.

    Halted Stream Camp:  This is where the Transmute spell tome can be found along with a bunch of iron ore to practice on.

    Sunderstone Gorge:  One of the Fire Breath word walls is hear.  The other two words are quest locked, one can be found in Dustman’s Cairn during the Companions quest line, the other is learned from Paarthurnax during the main quest.

    Ironbind Barrow:  The Fiery Soul trap enchantment is found in this dungeon along with one of the Become Ethereal word walls.  The other two words are at Ustengrav which you can pick up during the main quest, and Lost Valley Redoubt. 

    Kolbjorn Barrow:  All of Ahzidal’s artifacts are found here.

    Tel Mithryn:  All of the ash spells are sold here.

    Fort Dawnguard:  All of the sun spells are quest locked with the Dawnguard.  You will have to join them to learn their secrets.

    High Gate Ruins:  The Flaming Familiar spell tome and a Staff of Fireballs are rewards for completing this dungeon.

    The Pyromancer is interested in anything that might improve his powers be it through magickal artifice or arcane knowledge, but what to do with that power is for you to decide.  Will you use your powers to protect the people of Skyrim, or to dominate them? 


    If you got this far than thank you for reading, I appreciate your interest and look forward to any comments you might have.  I’d like to thank all the other creators on this site, your work has inspired me and inspired this build.  I would like to give special credit to Mason and his Sentinels which inspired multiple parts of this build, and to James and his in depth discussions on taper mechanics and the Firestorm spell.


  • Member
    June 23, 2015

    Well nice - a thematically focused build with skills and perks cherry-picked to fit with the main idea.  Liked.

    One question - did you make much use of Wall spells?  Any tips or advice regarding those?  I've only given them a few attempts in the 4 or so years I've had this game.  

  • June 23, 2015

    Thanks for the like. 

    In answer to your question I haven't used the Wall spells much either.  They seem to be situational and take some planning.  I really only used them in two combat situations that rely on certain map features, hallways and doors.  The first is pretty obvious, you spray the Wall spell on the floor of a hallway while enemies chase you.  The second one doesn't always work but when it does its hilarious.  You spray the Wall spell on the area around a door and then slam the door in the enemies face, when they open the door quickly close it again.

  • Member
    June 23, 2015

    Ha!  That does sound great.  :D

    I've figured that, if you can paralyze or stun-lock your foes, Walls could be effective.  Of course, if you can paralyze or stun-lock your foes, *anything* is going to be effective - and many things will just be more effective than those Walls.  

    I think Ben C reported making good use of Walls in one of his builds.  IIRC he would use them largely against ranged enemies (who tend to stay put rather than run right up to you).  

  • June 24, 2015

    Good presentation, interesting roleplay, fun gameplay and has alchemy! Easy like from me, Vargr. Good job.

  • Member
    June 27, 2015
    Great job on this... very well thought out and presented. While shock spells are my favorite branch of destructive spells there's no denying how insanely powerful fire spells are, and pyromancers are tons of fun to play :D I like the roleplay aspects you include behind banishing Daedra, and love the suggestions for those wall spells. Perhaps adding flame cloak to the door-stagger wall spell trick might further increase your damage output... think I'll have to give that a whirl ;D Again, great job!
  • Member
    October 28, 2015

    Interesting build Vargr, I don't think I've seen this yet. Nice job

  • Member
    October 29, 2015
    Good build! And you can get dwarven full set from the dwarven ruin in markarth in the armory at any level just if you can manage the falmer.
  • October 29, 2015

    Thanks for the tip Sindeed!

    I didn't realize the set was so readily available.  I was tempted to take points in smithing a few times just so I could make my own.  This is much easier, and could be roleplayed as discovering the steam animunculi in the ruins beneath Markarth. 

  • Member
    October 29, 2015

    Really nice build! Just two things: are the paths meant to be two different play styles the player commits to the build or are they meant to go together? Probably stupid question, I know, but still stuck on my head. Second, can there be a different perk spread for later levels? The one you've got is great, and it covers pretty much all of the basics, but you reference to some end-game perks and skills and I was a bit confused on what perks should be taken. Otherwise, great RP-value on this one, which is a big plus for me, and overall excellent concept and presentation =)