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Contest Build: Jo’ji and the Rogue

Tags: #Character Build Rogue  #Character Build Mage  #Character Build Mage Armor  #Race:Khajiit  #Rank:Mythic  #Contest5  #Contest Gold  #ShinJin Build  #MM 2016 Winner 
  • Member
    May 25, 2016

    I saw him out the corner of my eye: Khajiit. Black. Wearing robes and a hood. Not really all that out of place except for one small detail… he couldn’t have been much more than TWO FEET TALL.

    A Dagi! I thought they were just another Khajiit myth—wrong again. The Paralyze spell that had every last part of me firmly fixed into position was the only thing keeping my eyes from popping right out of my head. This Dagi didn’t look like much... but his magic was strong.

    Background and the Tiniest Bit of Super-cool Lore

    For those of you unfamiliar with Alastor’s short story series, “Jo’ji and the Rogue,” it’s a great tale about a rather unlikely pair of adventurers: Thaerin (the rogue), a rather unsuccessful, down-on-his-luck Bosmer thief, and Jo’ji, a Khajiit mage who risks his life fleeing Elsweyr in pursuit of furthering his magical knowledge. The story was my introduction to a fascinating race… Jo’ji, it turns out, is a Dagi—incredibly small (about two feet tall), and incredibly powerful Kahjiit mages. I was immediately intrigued, and after a bit of research I found them mentioned in the ubiquitous Mixed Unit Tactics (MUT).

    MUT is a great read in its entirety, but the truly cool stuff is found in the 2nd and 3rd to last paragraphs. The Dagi are so small they can flit from tree to tree on the highest branches that even Bosmer are unable to reach. With this advantage, under cover of silencing spells, they ambushed the Bosmer archers, and absolutely pummeled them with torches and fire spells. It was a complete route—four dozen Khajiit took out an entire company of Bosmeri archers… twice!

    So naturally when I saw the contest theme was exotic races I said to myself, “ShinJin, it just doesn’t get much more exotic than deadly, miniature Khajiit mages.” I also realized that I didn’t just want to come up with a Dagi build… I wanted to bring Jo’ji and Thaerin (the rogue) into my game! So I fired off a PM to the ever-accommodating Alastor for permission and the bouncing off of ideas, and here we are :D

    The Basics


    "The Bosmer archers in the trees would have still won the battle were they not having troubles of their own. A group of Dagi and Dagi-raht, two of the less common forms of Khajiit who live in the trees of the Tenmar forest, jumped from one tree to another under a magical cover of silence."

    —from Mixed Unit Tactics

    • Khajiit (Dagi)—unless you are insanely good at imagining, there really is no other choice here. You get no bonuses to any perked skills, but that just further proves what everybody suspected all along… you’re hardcore!
      • Can’t stomach the idea of playing one of the furry fellas? Altmer, Dunmer, and Bretons have great bonuses and racial abilities, but really… isn’t it time to let go of the hate? ;D


    The Shadow Stone—because you can't hit what you can't see!

    • Mage—I started with this stone for leveling, but quickly moved on to…
    • Shadow—based on the little lore I could find, I decided to make Jo’ji’s stealth entirely Illusion based. While Muffle spells keep him fairly quiet, they don’t make him invisible… but the Shadow Stone does! Cast Muffle, activate the Shadow Stone, and you can walk right past enemies (even out of sneak mode) in broad daylight. I stayed with this until I acquired the Invisibility spell
    • Lord—as the game progressed, some of the harder-hitting enemies started to make their presence felt. With no points thrown into health, the Lord Stone’s +50 to AR and 25% Resist Magic really were a welcome relief 


    "Apparently the Dagi and Dagi-raht have more magical ability than is widely believed...."

    —from Mixed Unit Tactics

    • 1 magicka/0 health/0 stamina—yup… go big or go home, baby! I opted to simulate the inherent fragility of a 2ft tall frame by dumping everything into magicka. This, consequently, also makes Jo’ji a formidable mage

    The Rogue

    "...[T]he Khajiit effortlessly made his way toward his mark: a shifty Wood Elf he spied sizing up the coffers of Riften's finest market stalls."

    —from Jo'ji and the Rogue....Part One:Rift Rats

    I picked up Faendal (referred to from here on out as 'Thaerin') almost immediately after leaving Helgen. He's the perfect choice for Jo'ji's rogue for a few reasons: (a) he's Bosmer, (b) he's listed as a member of the Thief class, and (c) he's not the world's sneakiest thief... just like Thaerin! He is also easily obtained as a follower, and you can get him right after leaving Helgen if you so choose.

    I put Thaerin in Thieves Guild gear, minus the hood (which I kept for myself when I was wheeling and dealing). As my Enchanting skills increased I would add more powerful versions of rings and amulets enchanted with either Fortify Health, Fortify Light Armor, Fortify Stamina, Muffle, or Resist Magic.

    I also equipped Thaerin with the Spellbreaker shield, and an elven (later ebony) sword I enchanted with Paralysis. I was so enchanted with that enchantment that I just kept replacing it with a version with more charges as my Enchanting skills increased. It's just a great follower weapon—the paralyze effect doesn't always kick in, so it keeps it from feeling OP; however, it provides a welcome breather to a character with no additional points in Health when the effect finally does work its magic.

    Major Skills


    "When the signal came, they used their claws and either torches or spells of fire[...]to distract the archers while the battle on the ground took place. A few of the archers were able to flee, but most were killed.

    —from Mixed Unit Tactics

    This was my most utilized form of offense, and because MUT mainly mentions the use of fire spells, I stuck with that branch of Destruction. My go-to fire spell was Firebolt—it packed enough of a wallop to take down tough-guys even in the upper-mid levels of my playthrough, and you don’t have to worry about the AoE causing any friendly fire with Thaerin.

    By the time I hit the higher levels, I would open with Fireball when I knew Thaerin was safely out of harm's way. And because enemies occasionally found themselves paralyzed, I found it useful to bust out the Flame Cloak (Flame on, Johnny!) and then shift back to Firebolt for close-work while Thaerin continued to wail away.


    Just an insanely helpful school of magic. I’d use Detect spells intermittently to keep me in the know as to enemy location, and then cast my flesh spells before trouble began. Transmute gave me gold which gave me jewelry, which gave me something to enchant, which gave me tons of things to sell for training. When the enchanted jewelry and daggers ran out, there was always the Paralysis/pickpocket glitch to get my money back.

    Again, if you’ve yet to throw a Paralyze spell at Deathlord, stand right on top of the fetcher while casting Flame Cloak, and then start pounding away on said Deathlord with Firebolt… well, you haven’t fully experienced life ;D


    "A lithe form weaved through the legs of the market crowd taking care to avoid detection. Jo'ji[...]had a grand scheme to hatch, and it was nigh time to incubate."

    —from Jo'ji and the Rogue....Part One:Rift Rats

    I tended to mainly use my Illusion spells to bolster my stealth skills, Muffle being cast so often that I was almost constantly silent in any dungeon crawl, and Invisibility for sneaking past threats or positioning myself in advantageous areas in the midst of enemies (like on the tops of bookshelves… TOO much fun xD). And don’t even get me started on how awesome Quiet Casting is for a stealthy magethat perk should be a priority for a Dagi.

    As for the mind control spells, I tended to use them only in my times of direst need—a quick Pacify or Rout spell to change the tide/tempo of events when the health bar had my heart thumping, or if (after a bit of invisible reconnaissance) I determined that a group of enemies would prove particularly troublesome, a well-placed Frenzy spell would make them considerably less so.

     Minor Skills


    "Enchanting is another of my skills and I am quite adept at the craft. You mentioned a deficiency in your thievery. I propose this: for every day you are my escort I will enchant one of your possessions, augmenting your abilities."

    —from Jo'ji and the Rogue....Part One:Rift Rats

    Spell Reductions for yourself, and beefed-up gear for Thaerin are quite nice (and actually necessary to roleplay Jo’ji and the Rogue), but what I love about Enchanting is the gold it brings—I ran across a vendor with a Banish enchanted weapon fairly early in my playthrough, disenchanted it, enchanted looted daggers with it, and never suffered for want of funds again.


    "I don't often discriminate when it comes to gold. Stay as long as ya like, Jo'ji. Vekel, treat them as family. It's a rare thing indeed to see a Dagi outside of Elsweyr. Don't go running our new friends off."

    —Brynjolf, from Jo'ji and the Rogue....Part One:Rift Rats

    Jo'ji has no trouble making influential friends, is incredibly persuasive, and never seems to be terribly troubled with a lack of funds—if that doesn't spell 'Speech', I really don't know what does. As always, when you've got merchandise to unload, the Merchant perk is a crazy useful boon, and being able to bribe guards or persuade folk to see your point of view makes the game run smoooooth!


    I perked nothing in this school, but used the Soul Trap spell regularly enough to feel like it should at least get a mention here (those petty soul gems need filling if you plan on doing any enchanting).

    I also decided to finally use the Summon Arniel’s Shade spell to give myself an extra follower who could take some of the heat off Thaerin and myself—it costs 0 magicka, he shoots lightning (which very few enemies have a resistance to), and he even occasionally heals you… I kind of feel like an idiot for never using this spell sooner xD


    "It was me or the supplies and it may sound odd but I feel somewhat obligated to live!"

    —Thaerin, from Jo'ji and the Rogue....Part One:Rift Rats

    Head—I went with the Novice hood found in Helgen, then picked up a Mage Hood from Collette at the college and enchanted it with Fortify Alteration. My end game Mage Hood looked like this:

    • Mage Hood—enchanted with Fortify Destruction/Regenerate Magicka + Fortify Alteration/Regenerate Magicka.
      • Thieves Guild Hood—there is always a 10% sale when you're wearing this, so go ahead and hang on to it (you can bam it up a bam by upgrading it to 15% if you proceed far enough in the quest line ;D)

    Chest—I started with the Novice Robes until I ran across a set of Apprentice Robes of Destruction. When my Enchanting got high enough I picked up a set of college robes from Radiant Raiment, and enchanted them with Fortify Destruction. I fiddled around with the Archmage's Robes for a level or two, but liked the aesthetics of the college robes better. My end game robes looked like this:

    • College Robes—enchanted with Fortify Destruction/Regenerate Magicka + Fortify Alteration/Regenerate Magicka

    Neck—I grabbed a number of things until I settled on:

    • The Gauldur Amulet—I stayed with this for quite a while
    • Silver Sapphire Amulet—enchanted with Resist Magicka + Fortify Illusion/Regenerate Magicka
      • Amulet of Zenithar—add this to your collection, and those 10%-15% sales the Thieves Guild Hood gives you become 20%-25% sales... it's Black Fredas every day :D

    Finger—I rolled with a Ring of Minor Destruction until Extra Effect, then:

    • Gold Sapphire Ring—enchanted with Resist Magicka + Fortify Illusion/Regenerate Magicka
      • Silver Ring—enchanted with Fortify Unarmed (for those rare occasions when you find yourself challenged to a brawl)
      • Gold Ring—enchanted with Waterbreathing... always nice to have that option, and since I disenchanted a helmet with the effect, I figured, "Why not?"

    Feet—I just wore the Footwraps you start out with, and kept them unenchanted until I got the Extra Effect perk, then:

    • Footwraps—Fortify Carry Weight + Fortify Stamina

    Hands—honestly, you could enchant some gloves with Fortify Magicka or Carry Weight (or both), but I just kept the slot empty (I liked seeing the claws).




    "With magic as strong as yours, why do you need an escort at all?"

    "It is true, my magic is powerful, but all mages have their limits. To run out of magicka in the heat of battle is to forfeit one's life. Can you handle yourself in a fight?"

    —from Jo'ji and the Rogue....Part One: Rift Rats

    Jo'ji is a mage on a mission, but no matter how driven he may be, he needs to keep a low profile, and he needs to pick up his rather impetuous mark—Thaerin. After leaving Helgen and clearing out Embershard Mine, I made it a priority to recruit Thaerin. From there, we took a quick trip to Bleak Falls Barrow, visited the stables in Whiterun, and engaged a wagon to Riften. After a took on a few side quests, dungeon sprawls, and hooked Thaerin up with his Thieves Guild leathers, Jo'ji was ready for his journey of magical discovery.


    "[M] nearly as irresistible to Dagi as moon sugar."

    —Jo'ji, from Jo'ji and the Rogue....Part One: Rift Rats

    By the time I made my connections with Riften's underworld and got Thaerin all geared out, I was ready to begin adventuring. Because Jo'ji is looking to acquire a further knowledge of things magical, I opted to get into the College of Winterhold at this stage and darted off on some of the side quests as I went further and further into the main college quest—particularly Arniel Gane's quest line. By the end of my mid-game, I was the unwilling Archmage, and possessor of a really cool summon spell: Arniel's Shade. After learning all I could from the college, I was ready to start scouring Skyrim's hidden repositories of magic in earnest.


    "Rumors speak of a Telvanni wizard of great power who had to relocate during the Red Year. He may be able to help my situation, but only time will tell."

    —Jo'ji, from Jo'ji and the Rogue....Part One: Rift Rats

    The late game is all about gathering magical knowledge and artifacts. This is where I started to just wander around Skyrim to see what I could see. If a Tavern keeper clued me in on a lead to Azura's shrineI'd go check it out. Meridia informs me there is a powerful wizard in Kilkreath Ruins? Go see what gives... it might just be worth looking into.

    If you have the DLC, You can save your travels to see Neloth for the very end, part ways with Thaerin, and close the book on the build... or maybe do a bit more adventuring :D


    Thaerin recoiled, wincing at each cry of pain. "Gods, can't he die any faster?"

    "You buried rusty shears into his stomach. There are few deaths as slow and painful as his."

    —from Jo'ji and the Rogue....Part Two: Cat-and-Mouse Games

    The Dagi in MUT are guerilla ambush tacticians, so I opted to incorporate that into my playstyle as well. Jo’ji and Thaerin are a small (but powerful) force that faces overwhelming odds in just about every situation they encounter. It’s all about knowing your enemies, their strengths and weaknesses, and their positions. It’s also helpful to know your limitations as well. For this build there are two significant limitations:

    • Extremely low health—by the time I hit the mid game I was running into enemies that could end it all with a single shot. This means that you will want to either avoid them entirely, or engage them on your own terms. I made certain I had my strongest available flesh spell up and running before I entered combat. Doing so kept me protected and left me a full tank of magicka when I was ready to begin the encounter.
    • Thaerin (Faendal)—aside from Mjoll and Belrand, Faendal is one of my favorite followers. He’s got a great attitude, and while he’s no powerhouse, he does a decent job holding his own in a fight. But by the Nine, for a thief-class character his sneak-fu is weak. While this actually makes Faendal a great candidate for Thaerin, it’s a significant liability for an ambush tactician. Usually, I would use Detect life/Death spells to figure out where my enemies were, get into a difficult-to-be-wailed-on position, open combat with the Destruction spell of my choice, and let the crazy elf head once more into the breach while I laid down a barrage of fire from a moderately safe distance.
      • There were, however, times when I wanted to get up close and find out what types of baddies I was up against. With a Muffle and Invisibility spell, you can walk right in the middle of the mob to check things out… but not with Thaerin. Instead, I would have him wait somewhere unseen (still within combat distance), do my reconnoitering, gather intel, get into an advantageous position, and let the fireworks begin. Thaerin jumps into the fray the second the red dots pop up on the HUD, and I get to engage on my terms—just remember to have Thaerin start following you again (I’ve had to head back a few levels in a dungeon to retrieve my forgotten follower… it’s rather annoying xD)

    Again, I used Illusion mainly for concealment, but if things looked particularly bleak, I would break up mobs with a Frenzy or Rout spell, and start going after individuals. I found it best to tackle the toughest opponents and whittle away at them while they were distracted, then take care of the riff raff.

    If your Alteration has been adequately built up, you can single out your toughest enemies with Paralyze, mop up the riff raff, put Thaerin between yourself and the Deathlord/Marauder/Boss so that Thaerin takes the heat while you flip on the Flame Cloak, circle behind the threat, and start pounding away with Firebolt. You can even throw Flame Wall into that routine if you feel so inclined… either way, they don’t last long ;D




    You can easily draw upon the powers of imagination and play this build as a Khajiit... it's not that big a stretch. HOWEVER, if you are fortunate enough to play on PC, there are some console commands that make playing a Dagi incredibly fun. Here's what I did:

    Pillage—I totally ripped off the idea Kael had for our event build, The Small One... then went even smaller! It's a simple matter of hopping into the console commands and entering the following command:

    player.setscale 0.40

    Congratulations! You are now about knee-height :D

    Compensate—unfortunately, your height change has made you so slow that you move around as if you were overencumbered. Dagi are supposed to be quick and agile... or at the very least as fast as everybody else. Fix it by typing this command in the console:

    player.setav speedmult 300

    This made me more or less on par with everyone else (although when you're so close to the ground you feel like you're flying xD). I opted not to be supernaturally fast.

    Overcompensate—these amazing acrobats could jump from tree to tree with the greatest of ease. Again, your  height change hobbles you by giving you an almost non-existent vertical leap... you might be able to hop over a septim that's lying on the ground... but I wouldn't bet any septims on it. Fix it thusly:

    player.setgs fjumpheightmin 500

    You are now an above-average jumperyou'll need it, otherwise you'll never know what the top of a counter in Skyrim looks like xD

    Khajiit HATES having to sit on the trailer hitch!

    Some other things:

    • Jo'ji is a fugative for abandoning his post in Elsweyr. Your average Khajiit is unlikely to understand his desire to go AWOL, and is bound to make an example of him. I avoided interaction with other Khajiits if at all possible. There were, of course, some exceptions that my personal Master-Wand-of-RP allowed me to justify... feel free to find your own situations and justifications ;D
    • Because Jo'ji is a fugitive, I limited the amount of time I spent in towns. When I had to interact with others in town, I RP'd Candlelight as a glamour spell that made me look average height, but keep an eye out for its duration... when the spell ends, so does your embiggenment (yes, 'embiggen' is a perfectly cromulent word)
      • BTW, Alastor finds this a somewhat cheesy workaround. If you find yourself in that camp also, just remember: you do that voodoo that you do so well... play what feels right for you
    • Again, part of Thaerin's payment for his services to you is enchanted gear, so I would constantly swap out his enchanted gear with more powerful versions as payment

    Recommended Quests

    Thieves Guild—you have to get Thaerin all decked out in his Thieves Guild leathers, but after that it's really up to you. Jo'ji isn't necessarily about thieving so much as building a repository of magical knowledge, so I opted out from there. However, the Skeleton Key is a powerful artifact... one that might catch a fugitive Dagi's attention.

    The College of Winterholdanybody looking to learn magic while in Skyrim would probably start here, and for me, Jo'ji was no different. I did many of the side quests at the college, and worked my way up through the main quest line. When I became Archmage, and the side quests ran dry, I figured I had learned as much from the college as I could... then left (Tolfdir should be able to keep the place from exploding).

    Aedric and Daedric Quests—there's knowledge to be gained here from both sides of the fence. You gain powers by helping out Mara and Dibella, and a Restoration trainer by helping a servant of Kynareth (useless for this buildbut I did it anyhow ;D).

    As for the Daedric side, I didn't think it was out of character for Jo'ji to choose to help Peryite, Meridia, and Azura. Again, Nocturnal is your call. I didn't want to run through the whole TG quest line, but I could understand the draw for those that might. Really, any Daedric quest outside of Molag Bal, Boethia, and Namira seemed okay to me so long as you play it right (and you could probably even find an RP justification for the three listed above if you're clever enough).

    Miscellaneous—any quests that grant powers, bonuses to magical skills, or additional spells are worth taking on. For example: Frostflow Abyss or Arniel's Endeavor. If it had a magical bent to it, I'd look into it.



    Alastor—first and foremost here is good ol' Al. Without his Short story series, Jo'ji and the Rogue, I wouldn't have even given the Dagi a second thought. And, of course, his willingness to let me turn characters that he created into a build, as well as letting me know what he thought of my adaptations is much appreciated :D

    Kael—Props go to Kael for cluing me into the ability to use console commands to make things bigger/smaller, faster/slower and etc, while working on The Small One. I had a lot of fun playing as Jo'ji, but being able to literally turn myself into a crazy-leaping 2ft tall Khajiit was excessively fun... don't think I would have thought to do that without Kael's earlier groundwork.

    HeroicX—a big thank you to HeroicX who created the video feature for this build. He's putting out quality build showcases on a weekly basis for builds found right here in the Tamriel Vault. If you haven't checked out his stuff recently, you've missed an awful lot ;D

    Hosts and Participants—as always, the people who make it happen in the first place, and the people who play with you make all the difference. Love the events and contests... thanks, everybody! :D

  • May 25, 2016
    Another brilliant build Shin. The competition has quite an uphill battle.
  • Member
    May 25, 2016
    I mistakingly unliked it so i can like it again! Great build +2
  • May 25, 2016

    I have serious question. Where can this fella get decent clothes of his size in Skyrim? From dolls? 

    I really love what you did here, Jin. Buddy build. I´ve been wanting to play a mage with some follower, but Faendal never crossed my mind. And Khajiit..never played that race extensively. Arniel shade, huh? Clever, Jin, really clever. 

    I feel like I should read that story now... 

  • May 25, 2016

    I remember Alastor's short series! Wonderful inspiration for a build.  

    Fun build. Cool skill set and a great presentation. And thank you for the console commands. Was wondering that for character height and jump factor. 

  • Member
    May 25, 2016

    Amazing build like always Shinjin. Loved that you took inspiration from Al's series for this build along with what little lore we have on the Dagi for a wombo combo of pure awesomeness! Also not gonna lie when I read the title my mind immediately went to Bennie And The Jets lol

  • Member
    May 25, 2016
    Theres no pussyfooting around it, well done. +1 from me, truly excellent build, the buddy thing is awesome, and more builds should utilize it.
  • May 25, 2016
    I'm kind of hoping this one wins. I got a fun idea of what to draw if shin wins and wants art done for it.
  • Member
    May 25, 2016

    Shin, if this wins....I'm not gonna be mad. 

  • Member
    May 25, 2016

    This seems like goofy good fun. Great Job Shin. My only complaint is that I can't play it.