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Character Build: The Spellbinder

Tags: #Character Build Archer  #Character Build Monk  #Character Build Alchemist  #Race:Breton  #Rank:Exemplar  #Raidriar  #Aetherial Shield 
  • Member
    September 12, 2015

    Witchhunters. No class rivals their badassery in my mind. These mofos take on all manner of deadly magical beings with nothing but their wits, gadgets and maybe even a little bit of magic themselves, and live to tell the tale. Something about their whole super spy, James Bond image is just so damn appealing to me...

    Another class I love is the monk; a calm-as-still-water, robe-wearing, bald dude who has the appearance of a frail old man yet can really bring the pain when someone disturbs the peace. They too have such a cool image surrounding them.

    But what happens when you combine a witchhunter and a monk? Somebody who can ruthlessly take out mages with wicked gadgets, but who is unafraid of entering the fray themselves and just laying waste to their opponents with fists (or even a shield)? The result, my friends, is the Spellbinder...

    Once part of a secret sect within the Vigil of Stendarr, the Spellbinders broke off from their brethren in pursuit of more radical change...

    Not content with just the capture of Daedra worshippers, Spellbinders became specialised mercenaries for hire, with a particular focus on the slaying of mages and the undead.

    Feared by wizards of all abilities, a single Spellbinder is capable of eradicating an entire host of spellcasters with ease.

    Not only are they expert witchhunters, Spellbinders are also avid scholars, artificers, martial artists and explorers, and often frequent Dwemer ruins in search of ancient artefacts and knowledge.

    In short, a Spellbinder is every mage's worst nightmare...


    Race: Breton

    Stone: Lord

    Shouts: Drain Vitality, Marked for Death

    Stats: 0:3:2

    Major Skills: Archery, Alchemy, Block, Heavy Armour

    Minor Skills: Restoration, Smithing, Destruction

    Recommended Quests: College of Winterhold, The Kagrumez Gauntlet, Arniel's Endeavours, Touching the Sky, Ancient Knowledge, Lost to the Ages, The Only Cure, The Book of Love


    The Build

    For equipment, nothing beats a set of Nordic Carved Armour with an Adept Hood. It provides an awesome look as well as a pretty good AR with perks and smithing. The Gauntlets should be enchanted with Fortify Unarmed, as should a ring of your choice - drink a custom Potion of Enchanting beforehand, as well as a Potion of Fortify Restoration before equipping them, to provide you with a suitable attack rating with your fists. Other items to pick up include Spellbreaker, Auriel's Shield and the Aetherial Shield, as well as a necklace of your choice - I chose one of Peerless Archery for extra damage.

    As for weapons, you've got quite the shopping list; a Dwarven Crossbow (not enhanced - it interferes with Marked for Death), Auriel's Bow, the Staff of Magnus, and Keening. Don't forget an assortment of Exploding Dwarven Bolts and Sunhallowed Arrows too, all crafted with smithing. Everything is picked up if you follow the quests recommended above.


    Your weapon of choice is your trusty Dwarven Crossbow. This bad boy packs a massive punch, and can deal some very impressive damage. Not to mention that once you pick up Power Shot (which is very easy to get early if you train Archery with Faendal) you'll be staggering foes a whopping 75% of the time! This means that in every four hits, a foe will be staggered 3 times! This takes crowd control to new heights. Don't forget that your crossbow can be equipped with a variety of elemental bolts - shock for mages, frost for warriors, and I've got a special surprise for fighting the undead...

    Enter Auriel's Bow. How many of you have actually used this bow for anything other than its awesome sunburst attacks? I know I hadn't, before playing this build. A less known fact about Auriel's Bow is that it absolutely annihilates undead! Sunhallowed Arrows actually act like fireballs, and benefit from taper mechanics - only they can be fired without needing any Magicka, making them a much better alternative. With Necromage, Augmented Flames and a Potion of Fortify Destruction you'll be tearing through Draugr and Vampires like a hot knife through butter - just fire a few arrows and watch them melt under your rain of holy fire.


    Silence is Golden

    You wouldn't be much of a Witchhunter if you couldn't dominate magical foes. As Ravage Magicka poisons (and Ravage Stamina too) are glitched, they act like lingering damage poisons on steroids, and are unaffected by difficulty! The Hush poison along with the Staff of Magnus allows for 80 Magicka damage per second, with 20 of that being absorbed back to you. This means it takes less than 7 seconds to completely silence an Arch Pyro/Cryo/Electro/Necromancer, and less than 2 seconds to silence a dragon! Don't forget to shout Drain Vitality at them once their Magicka pool is empty to keep applying the draining effect, and preventing them from using spells for another 30 seconds.

    Once silenced, mages are forced to resort to their daggers, and, lacking any skill in One Handed, they don't deal nearly as much damage with knives as they do with spells. Now that their ranged offence is compromised, they're forced to fight on your terms. Now you can just kite them around, and with your awesome stagger chance this shouldn't be much of a problem. 

    Did you know a dragon's ability to shout is tied to their Magicka pool? And that once said Magicka pool is empty, they are forced to land and will stay grounded until they get some Magicka back? This gives Spellbinders a massive advantage against dragons, forcing the lizards to land and leaving them only with melee attacks. What's even funnier is that they'll sometimes try to shout - this results in that funny roaring noise they make before breathing, followed by a very confused dragon, standing there with his mouth wide open and nothing coming out! Once again, kiting is easily the best way to deal with them.

    A similar strategy can be employed against warriors, though with the Ravage Stamina poison. Deprive them of their precious Stamina and they cannot run, bash or power attack you! And if you're struggling with melee foes closing the gap, make liberal use of the Cripple poison; one dose of that and they'll be regretting they ever got in your way.

    Monk-y-ing around

    Ah, unarmed combat. Nothing is more satisfying than suplexing a bandit chief, right? 

    I'm sure many of you are aware by now, but for those who haven't seen James' awesome discussions, I'll explain anyway. Fortify Marksman increases all forms of damage. This includes the damage of bows, shield bashes, and even fists! Starting to see the synergy?

    As an archer, you're always going to have a liberal supply of Fortify Marksman potions (our variation is called the Tincture of Supremacy), and you'll want to have them active as much as possible. That way, you can seamlessly switch from using a bow at range to getting up close and personal with fists, without the need to drink another potion. With your enchanted and alchemically enhanced armour, you'll be sporting around 50 unarmed damage at the build's peak. That can be more than doubled with Fortify Marksman, bringing us to 110. What's even cooler is when you factor in Marked for Death. With three words, this shout increases your damage by 9% every second. So that 110 will turn into 120, 130... 

    As I mentioned earlier, this also affects bash damage. This allows you to turn a shield into a weapon with the perks Power Bash and Deadly Bash. And two of the three shields used also have additional affects when they bash. Auriel's Bow can send foes flinging after 15 blocks - handy if you're getting overwhelmed. And the Aetherial Shield can send them running - now this may be a problem with a melee build, but not the Spellbinder. This forces them to approach under yet another rain of arrows, letting you turn a disadvantage being in close quarters to a massive advantage! There's also some crazy synergy between Marked for Death and the Aetherial Shield, which I'll get onto later...

    Potions and Poisons

    Every ingredient can be grown in a greenhouse or fish hatchery, allowing for efficient harvesting. Magnitudes listed are with two pieces of Peerless Alchemy (Circlet, Necklace), one of Major Alchemy (Gauntlets) and Muiri's Ring. Along with Seeker of Shadows this combination nets a nice 100% Fortify Alchemy.


    Tincture of Supremacy

    Fortify Marksman 120% + Regenerate Health 150%

    Canis Root + Juniper Berries + Namira's Rot


    Tonic of Insight

    Fortify Destruction 150% + Fortify Health 120pts

    Glowing Mushroom + Nightshade + Wheat


    Infusion of Defence

    Fortify Block 120% + Resist Magic 30%

    Bleeding Crown + Tundra Cotton



    Damage Health 90pts + Ravage Magicka 60pts

    Deathbell + Lavendar + Red Mountain Flower



    Damage Health 150pts + Ravage Stamina 60pts + Slow 150s

    Deathbell + River Betty + Thistle Branch



    Lingering Damage Health 30pts + Paralysis 30s

    Canis Root + Imp Stool + Mora Tapinella



    Normally Keening is held back by its one charge. As a last resort, the Spellbinder can activate Secret of Arcana, giving Keening infinite charges for 30s, and with a Potion of Fortify Destruction to increase the magnitude you can more than double its enchantment, turning Keening into the ultimate healing tool!

    Requires: Secret of Arcana, Tonic of Insight, Keening


    Render mages silent and dragons grounded with this awesome move. Hush and the Staff of Magnus are a truly deadly combination, draining 80 Magicka per second. Once they're silenced use Drain Vitality to keep them that way.

    Requires: Hush, Staff of Magnus, Drain Vitality



    By fire be purged. Rain hell upon undead with  the Tonic of Insight, Augmented Flames 2/2 and Necromage and you'll be doing some ungodly damage with Sunhallowed Arrows, annihilating deathlords in mere seconds.

    Requires: Tonic of Insight, Augmented Flames 2/2, Necromage, Auriel's Bow, Sunhallowed Arrows



    By utilising the Aetherial Shield's bash to allow Marked for Death's decreasing armour rating to take effect, you've bought yourself some extra time to prepare, as well as the guarantee that when enemies do come crawling back, they'll do so incredibly vulnerable!

    Requires: Marked for Death, Aetherial Shield



    You wouldn't be much of a witchhunter if you didn't have a hefty resistance to magic. With Immunity, the Spellbinder can reach the magic resistance cap as well as near physical immunity all with a simple combination of potions and passives!

    Requires: Lord Stone, Agent of Mara, Breton Magic Resistance, Infusion of Defence



    Unleash absolute might and bash your opponents repeatedly into submission. With this combination of perks and potions you'll be dealing ~160 damage with every bash, and that will increase by 9% every second with all three words of Marked for Death. That's over 1000 damage after 60 seconds! And you can cast Healing for a second every time you run out of Stamina, for near infinite bashing!

    Requires: Power Bash, Deadly Bash, Tincture of Supremacy, Marked for Death, Spellbreaker, Respite, Healing



    Sunder is a great move if you're surrounded and can't escape. It's a great last stand technique, and can bring you back from the brink of death if you use it wisely. The Tonic of Insight more than doubles Keening's enchantment, meaning you're gaining 25 points of Health, Stamina and Magicka with every swing. Power attacks are actually ineffective, and you'd be much better just swinging wildly for those 30 seconds. Just remember to not take one swing after the 30 seconds are up, or Keening's charge will be lost forever!

    Tranquility and Immunity are your go-to abilities when facing any kind of magical enemies. Even without the Staff of Magnus Hush will be doing significant Magicka damage, so if you're up against a real tough mage just fire off an arrow laced with Hush from a distance then resort to tanking the few spells they can sling off before they empty their tank with Spellbreaker or Immunity.

    Dread is great when used in combination with unarmed combat or archery. The only weakness with unarmed combat is that Marked for Death takes a while to let you deal some significant damage, but if the enemy is spending at least 20 seconds running back and forth, you're bound to be dealing tons of damage with fists by the time they get back. It also lets you relieve the heat for a bit, allowing you to get your breath back, rebuff yourself with potions and reposition. It's especially effective against melee foes, as they'll waste all their Stamina running back and forward, and you can pelt them with arrows from afar once the Ethereal effect wears off! The Aetherial Shield is truly an archer's best friend!

    Auriel's Shield is another helpful piece of equipment which can be used in place of the Aetherial Shield in tighter zones, where you can't be bothered to chase an Ethereal foe through winding corridors and sharp corners. It's more effective against single opponents when you don't want an entire dungeon alerted to your presence (which often happens with the Aetherial Shield), or need to tank melee hits.

    Submission is great for facing tough melee foes. You're still incredibly defensible since you're carrying a shield, and every bash will stun your opponent (consider picking up Force Without Effort for even more staggering potential), meaning you can keep them stunlocked with a bit of Healing and Respite! Dread also chains really well into Submission, as it removes all that time waiting for Marked for Death to really start stacking up the weakness, and gives you some time to rebuff and switch equipment. Spellbreaker is the ideal choice for bashing shield because it has the highest AR out of your three shields, so it also has the highest bash damage.

    Closing Notes and Credits

    James' discussions on Bash Damage, Marked for Death, Unarmed Combat, Drain Vitality and Taper Mechanics.

    Google and DeviantArt for the images.






  • September 12, 2015
    Combining witchhunter and monk...badass! Another briliant build, Raid. :)
  • Member
    September 12, 2015
    A well put together idea
  • Member
    September 13, 2015
    Thanks Karver!
  • September 13, 2015

    First the Fiend and now the Spellbinder. Im starting to think you have a knack for combining the oddest pairings and making them work so well. 

    Normally Im turned off by a selection of weapons as expansive at this, but in this case you managed to sell it quite well. I love the idea of an arcane gadgeteer with a tool for every situation. 

    Nice work as always. 

  • Member
    September 13, 2015
    Thanks Curse!
  • Member
    September 14, 2015
    It's a good build overall mate, but a few questions though: 1. Armor & progression: witch hunters traditionally use leather armor or some stronger variant... Not that there is anything wrong with Nordic carved... But what's the progression like? To craft Nordic carved armor, one is forced to take the light armor route, which kinda defeats the purpose of crafting for heavy armors. Also, nordic carved drops easily from bandit Chiefs at mid- levels... Might want to re-consider the smithing proffesion... It would be more natural to loot enemies for heavy armor and then snag a full set of a bandit chief, least in my point of view. 2. Combat: whilst the abilities are listed, the more melee engaging abilities don't really come into effect until auriel's shield is obtained. What then of dealing with melee till the shield? Kite and bow bash? My opinion of a similar mechanic for progression would be paralysis poison + marked for death against melee. That way, it might allow for punching as a via mechanic once the poison has worn off and mfd has worked it's magic. Another would be the stun bash + respite perk trick. If using this, since restoration is taken, it should be a breeze to combine shield bash + Mfd + close wounds/respite perk + destruction cloak of choice. Throw in poison rune or a lingering damage poison + weakness to poison, this is a much better at of dealing with memes till auriels shield Protip: use targe of blooded if using the shield bash method. Hope this helps
  • Member
    September 14, 2015
    For armour, I was investing in smithing anyway for crafting Elven arrows and Dwarven bolts. Dwarven Armour is available from 30 Smithing - that easily carried me through to 50 Smithing and Nordic Carved Armour. For melee, the Aetherial Shield is very useful, and can be obtained quite early (as early as level 10 if you bring a follower). Speaking of which, followers were also used, as well as poisons (particularly paralysis to immobilise melee foes, and fear to send them running). I'm thinking about redoing the presentation too, so I'll be sure to include your points.
  • Member
    September 14, 2015

    What a great combination of classes!

    Love this build :D

  • Member
    September 15, 2015

    Thanks Shin!