Skyrim General and Equipment Guide

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Skyrim General and Equipment Guide

Post  Dwlr on Tue May 12, 2015 1:20 am

In general if you want to make the best Skyrim character possible you want to make sure every level you're adding Health as your level up reward. If you're a mage you can use Enchanted gear to make sure two schools of magic are free to cast (if your enchanted gear doesn't use exploits to make them significantly stronger) eliminating the need to have a large Magicka pool and on the Stamina side an item like Vegetable Soup more than covers all your stamina needs except perhaps for running which can remedied by becoming Ethereal through your shout abilities.

Self-Enchanted Gear tends to be significantly better than pre-enchanted gear as long as you have the Extra Enchantment Perk.

Every character that wears armor be it heavy or light should have the Arcane Smithing Perk to allow improvement of Enchanted Gear whether it's gear you enchant or gear that comes pre-enchanted not having the ability to improve the quality drastically lowers the usefulness of the gear and Arcane Smithing only requires two perk points.

As a general rule One-Handed weapons are superior to Two-Handed weapons it is debatable after that as to what you want to do with your off-hand.

The maximum reduction for damage is 85% per type, this means an 95% Magic Resist will actually on block 85% of the damage and the other 10% is wasted. If you add 85% Magic Resistance with 85% Frost Resistance, when taking frost damage both apply resulting in 97% Damage Resistance, likewise Armor Damage Reduction stacks with the maximum 85% damage reduction obtained by blocking.

Heavy Armor and Light Armor both can reach the maximum reduction of 85% as can clothing with the proper magic spells for a mage, the perks are different. Light Armor benefits is generally just standard running duration and costing less perk points to reach maximum efficiency while Heavy armor for the price of more perk points can reflect damage when it avoids damage through it's final perk and reduce stagger essentially aiding in defense. Most benefits of Light Armor can be circumvented in some way by Heavy Armor users for instance Vegetable Soup is better than even the natural boosted Stamina Regen from Light Armor where on the other hand most of the main benefits of Heavy Armor cannot be circumvented by Light Armor users. Whether circumventing the benefits of Light Armor for a Heavy Armor user is practical or not is something different entirely and is why there is a choice and not a clear cut winner.

Top 10 lists (I'm ignoring Chaos Damage Enchantments and they are left off as candidates for the 'best' enchantment in each category for the following: Chaos Damage gets benefits from Fire, Frost, and Storm perks in the Destructon Tree and the Enchanting Trees, dual enchanted weapons also gain benefits from these when put on a weapon with Chaos Damage making Chaos Damage highly exploitable to make very powerful secondary enchantments and boosting it's own damage to unintended levels even without traditional enchanting exploits you can reach 100 Absorb Health when paired with a Chaos Damage weapon after consuming a max level non-exploit fortify enchanting potion. Additionally Chaos Damage benefits from being used on Stalhrim weapons boosting these effects by a further 25% after all other benefits making a Stalhrim Chaos Damage enchanted weapon bar none the best base of a weapon of any type, but through use of unintended coding thus classified as an exploit by this guide.)

Daggers - The primary appeal of daggers are the quick attack speeds which plays with making enchantments have exaggerated effects so naturally a better enchantment makes for a much better weapon when talking about daggers. Dagger users usually are looking to use stealth to deal tremendous amounts of damage with Assassin's Blade, this fact skews the list of the 'best' daggers to those that maintain a high base even if it sacrifices the aforementioned enchantment benefit.
1. Dragonbone Dagger - Custom enchantable, highest damage
2. Daedric Dagger - Custom enchantable
3. Mehrunes Razor - Unique enchantment is only resisted by 2 characters in the DLC the fast speed with the ability to kill outright makes for a powerful weapon in terms of killing, relatively high base damage (poor traditional choice as it lacks defensive capabilities that custom enchantable weapon has with Absorb Health)
4. Blade of Woe - Highest base damage in vanilla game, hindered by a relatively weak magnitude enchantment though it is a useful category
5. Stalhrim Dagger
6. Ebony Dagger
7. Glass Dagger
8. Skyrforge Steel Dagger (If patched)
9. Nordic Dagger
10. Elven Dagger
The best enchantments are probably Fire Damage and Absorb Health, Fire Damage allows for an increased damage which couples nicely with the fast rate of attack to get more attacks against a burning opponent while Absorb Health with the fast rate of attack allows for high defense while dealing additional damage. Stalhrim daggers do not get the .1 stagger bonus and Frost Damage may not be optimal on a dagger, but the boosted damage is still worth noting for those who are just looking to deal optimal damage once already in combat Fire and Frost achieve that.

Swords - Swords have the highest damage potential in the game, whilst daggers are stronger without any benefits with perks to increase one-handed damage swords quickly out perform the much faster (30%) daggers as daggers do not get the benefits of one-handed damage increases. Swords have a the full reach in terms of one-handed weapons, but are the weakest of the weapons with full reach in terms of base damage this fact may make them a poor choice for those who prefer to use a combination of power attacks and shield bashes attacking only when openings are available, but the best choice for chipping away an enemies life.
1. Dragonbone Sword - Highest non-pre-enchanted damage
2. Stalhrim Sword - Increased stagger, 25% better frost enchantment
3. Daedric Sword
4. Ebony Sword
5. Lvl 46+ Chillrend - Highest base damage in vanilla game
6. Lvl 60+ Miraak's Sword - Highest base damage, low weight
7. Glass Sword
8. Nord Hero Sword
9. Skyforge Steel Sword (If patched)
10. Lvl 46+ Dragonbane
The best enchantments for swords are probably Absorb Health and Paralyze, the exception would be with Stalhrim where draining Stamina can create extra openings and with the increased damage afforded by their stronger Frost Enchantments that makes it a prime replacement for Paralyze. Absorb Health synergizes for defense with their relatively quick attack speed, while Paralyze also plays off their quick attack speed creating defenseless openings that plays into their higher DPS. The level 46+ Nightingale's Blade cannot be tempered making it inferior to the level 36-45 version. Dragonbone is a clear choice with it's higher base damage and it's larger weight allowing you to get more damage through a wider variety of blocks, Stalhrim is a competitor thanks largely to the increased stagger chance, but the stronger Frost Enchantment helps too. Miraak's Sword has the highest base damage and a low weight which helps with when performing power attacks, it's enchantment further it's usefulness in breaking blocks and preventing opposing power attacks, but with a shield the latter isn't much of a problem so Miraak's Sword lacks in providing a solid enchantment to back up its other benefits. Chillrend has a higher base damage than a Daedric Sword, but a worse enchantment than you could enchant yourself even if you choose to mimic exactly, that said it's one of the more useful enchantments already featuring Paralyze and a decent damage Frost Enchantment giving it an edge over other pre-enchanted Swords even Miraak's Sword. Dragonbane applies the shock damage to dragons in addition to the specific damage making it significant against dragons, but it's a relatively weak enchantment otherwise putting it firmly at the bottom of the list slightly above the weaker (heavier) 11 base damage for it's niche use against some of the tougher enemies if you have the DLC and potentially have to fight Legendary Dragons.

War Axes - War Axes are odd, their bleed damage bypasses armor so they're useful against armor like Maces however they provide some benefits to all enemies, in addition they have a higher DPS than Maces, but at the cost of some stagger ability. The balance of damage, speed, and stagger ability make the War Axes the most balanced of all the weapons for better or for worse.
1. Stalhrim War Axe - Increased stagger, 25% better frost enchantment
2. Dragonbone War Axe - Highest Base Damage
3. Ebony War Axe
4. Daedric War Axe
5. Glass War Axe
6. Nord Hero War Axe
7. Skyforge Steel War Axe (If patched)
8. Nordic War Axe
9. Elven War Axe
10. Dawnguard Rune Axe
The best enchantments are likely Paralyze and Frost Damage, which plays perfectly with Stalhrim's natural benefits in addition Ebony War Axes and Stalhrim War Axes have the same damage as Daedric War Axes making the base damage difference skewed favoring Stalhrim that much more being just a single base damage lower than Dragonbone. There are no extraordinary enchanted War Axes, but the Dawnguard Rune Axe has a potentially very powerful niche enchantment that earns it a spot on the list especially for it's use during the Dawnguard DLC.

Maces - Maces main use are for anti-armor outside of that they have little benefit over Swords or War Axes, the stagger rate improvements hardly justify their use over War Axes. Armor units can be leveled past most other threats so it's not a bad weapon depending on what you're having trouble with. Maces have the best base damage making them useful for exploiting Power Attacks and trying to force damage through blocks.
1. Stalhrim Mace - Increased stagger, 25% better frost enchantment
2. Dragonbone Mace - Highest base damage
3. Ebony Mace
4. Daedric Mace
5. Glass Mace
6. Nordic Mace
7. Elven Mace
8. Dwarven Mace
9. Mace of Molag Bal
10. Orcish Mace
Maces excel in exploiting openings and using power attacks making the best enchantments Frost Damage and Absorb Stamina. Absorbing stamina offsets the weight disadvantage of maces without having to rely on Vegetable Soup or the like and Frost Damage adds additional damage while draining stamina further making it easier to avoid power attacks while recovering from your own in addition to making reducing the amount of stamina available for your opponent to effectively block. The Mace of Molag Bal is the only worthwhile pre-enchanted mace, sporting Daedric/Ebony/Stalhrim damage, but being relatively light at 18, the pre-enchantment has one of the desirable effects with absorb stamina, but Absorb Magicka is a waste and Soul Trap isn't an optimal enchantment though eventually you will need to recharge your enchanted weapons somehow, this is all rendered inconsequential as you can make better enchantment and the Mace of Molag Bal doesn't benefit from any Smithing Perks making it effectively weaker when forged which in turn can make a mace that is significantly lower base damage, stronger in the long through better smithing and better enchantments, but the Mace of Molag Bal not being leveled makes it an excellent choice for helping a novice enchanter level their enchanting through the use of it and Azura's Star, the mace is also a reliable weapon with it's high base damage to weight ratio alone which can be obtain relatively early in the game giving a strong weapon to relatively low leveled characters who aren't at the point they can obtain Ebony or higher equipment. (atleast without smithing perks)

Archery (Bows and Crossbows) - Bows are primarily used for sneak attacks at a distance so the listing is skewed to favor bows that perform well in that function, as a primary method of damage bows lack dps compared to most weapons even with the heavy perk investment, but with the proper enchantment can potentially be safer to use making them valuable to characters with low armor ratings.
1. Dragonbone Bow - Highest base damage, custom enchantable, faster draw rate than weight suggests at the expense of velocity (bug that treats it as if it is much lighter than it is so the firerate matches the velocity that it would have if it naturally had it's .75 firerate)
2. Daedric Bow - Highest base damage in vanilla game, custom enchantable, highest velocity bow
3. Stalhrim Bow - 25% Stronger frost enchantment
4. Ebony Bow
5. Glass Bow
6. Auriel's Bow - High DPS, Special Abilities
7. Glass Bow of the Stag Prince
8. Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow w/Exploding Bolts - 50% armor piercing, high velocity, AoE damage, custom enchantable, not silent, slow firerate
9. Zephyr - Fastest firerate, High DPS
10. Dwarven Black Bow of Fate
The best enchantments depend on what you're having trouble with, the traditional choice would be Frost Damage and Paralyze, but if you need something to combat sorcerers it's Shock Damage and Frost Damage so as not to sacrifice the slowing effect from Frost Damage while still hurting a sorcerer's magicka. Base Damage is more significant when concerning sneak attacks making Daedric and Dragonbone better than Stalhrim in those situations, but for use after being detected Stalhrim has the edge over Daedric. Auriel's Bow has one of the highest dps due to a fair base damage and a fast firerate, but it won't beat out a weaker bow with a stronger enchantment so the edge is mainly the special abilities it possesses with either Sunhallowed Arrows or Bloodcursed Arrows respectively. Glass Bow of the Stag Prince has a poor enchantment, but a high base damage lending it to better stealth performance. The Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow with Exploding Bolts gives high damage along with AoE effect capabilities, but the armor piercing only works on a enemies that wear armor limiting it's usefulness, but the high velocity projectile makes it easier to hit enemies for more traditional combat considering it is not silent and slow to reload. Zephyr has an extremely high DPS with it's enchantment enhancing it's already fast firerate, but it forgoes the ability to use Frost Damage to slow an enemies advancement, the Dwarven Black Bow of Fate which has a unique Chaos Damage style enchantment that can absorb Health, Stamina, and/or Magicka in any combination with a 50% independent chance of each effect occurring, included because it's a unique enchantment whereas Chaos Damage is not and is exploitable which this guide doesn't condone, the Dwarven Black Bow of Fate has a higher firerate for than it should for it's weight matching that of the bugged Dragonbone Bow.

Greatsword - The highest dps two-handed weapon, as a whole two-handed weapons are inferior granting their only real advantage in AoE due to their size which is niche at best.
1. Bloodskal Blade - Ranged energy wave unique enchantment
2. Dragonebone Greatsword - Highest damage, custom enchantable
3. Daedric Greatsword - Highest damage in vanilla game, custom enchantable
4-10. Standard quality decreases Stalhrim down to Nordic
The best enchantments are Paralyze and Absorb Health, you're already giving up a great deal of survivability and the greatswords are the best chance at a defense compatible two-handed weapon. Due to the unique nature of the Bloodskal Blade it's hard not to recommend it over the other two-handed weapons considering our goal is reach and it provides a psuedo-projectile to extend that reach even further effectively doubling down on the main and almost only advantage of two-handed weapons, the enchantent also no needs recharging making it a solid weapon for low level enchanters using all their soul stones to raise their enchanting stat.

Battleaxe - The middle of the road of two-handed weapons with nothing special to note amongst them.
1. Stalhrim Battleaxe
2-10 Standard quality decrease Dragonbone down to Dwarven
The best enchantments are Paralyze and Frost Damage giving Stalhrim the advantage.

Warhammer - Due to the already slow speed of two-handed weapons and the weak block, liberal use of power attacks breaking the opponent's block and trying to deal as much damage per swing is the best route making the Warhammer easily the 'best' of the two-handed class as it reinforces their strengths unfortunately it does reinforce some of their weakness at the same time.
1. Stalhrim Warhammer
2. The Longhammer
3. Dragonbone Warhammer
4. Daedric Warhammer
5. Volundrung
6-10. Standard quality decrease Ebony down to Dwarven
The best enchantments assuming you aren't using Vegetable soup are Paralyze and Absorb Stamina, if you are using Vegetable Soup then the best enchantments are Paralye and Frost Damage giving Stalhrim an edge over other qualities. The Longhammer is a unique Warhammer that swings 30% and can still be enchanted giving it higher potential dps than Daedric quality and more chances to Paralyze than Dragonbone quality giving it more utility. Volendrung doesn't benefit from smithing perks however it does swing as fast as Greatswords and additional has Absorb Stamina allowing for more frequent power attacks, (without Vegetable Soup) it maye get outclassed at higher smithing and enchanting levels, but it maintains a flexibly high DPS and has much more use than lower qualities given how when you have higher smithing and enchanting you can access the 'better' quality of weapons eliminating the use of Ebony and below.

Armor - Not doing a list of armors as there is a threshold cap, with high enough smithing Stalhrim has the obvious advantage of having stronger Frost Resist Enchantments. With the appropriate perks Dragonscale for Light Armor and Steel Plate or above for Heavy armor can reach the capped damage reduction. Stalhrim benefits from Ebony Smithing Perks making the heavy armor route the better route regardless of whether you're using Light or Heavy Armor at least in the end. Fortify Smithing enchantments can allow other armors to break the threshold if you have no intention of using Frost Resist Enchantments it can largely be an aesthetic choice of what armor to use. NPCs don't get the benefit of perks the majority of time however they get increased benefits per level which helps their natural efficiency, but makes it harder to reach the cap than the Dragonborn.
Caps: (once you hit the cap anything above the number is wasted for each category)
-542 total armor rating without a shield
-567 total armor rating with a shield
-667 total armor rating wearing no armor or shield (clothing modified with magic)
You can exploit the fortify enchanting alchemy loop and make any armor reach the cap however it would require a smithing skill of 360 to reach that cap with Hide Armor, this is the only time I'd consider using the exploit as fair since on both ends there are armors that reach the cap and so the exploit in this case offers not tangible benefit and rather offers the option to use armor you find most appealing or lets you buff your base armor high enough that you can use a circlet or hood with your armor to achieve a look as most normal helmets cover your head fairly fully likewise this can be applied to a follower to keep their unique appearance.
The formula for the Dragonborn to make your own calculations is:
Single Item Armor Rating = [(base armor rating + item quality) × (1 + 0.4 × (skill + skill effect)/100)] × (1 + unison perk) × (1 + matching Set) × (1 + armor perk)
Shield Armor Rating = [(base shield rating + item quality) × (1 + 0.4 × (skill + skill effect)/100)] × (1 + unison perk) × (1 + matching Set)
*Skill Effects are bonuses like Ancient Knowledge that boost armor by 25% when wearing all Dwarven quality items.
Unison Perk is Well Fitted for Heavy Armor or Custom Fitted for Light Armor.
Matching Set is the bonus provided from wearing all the same quality items.
Armor Perk is Juggernaut for Heavy Armor or Agile Defender for Light Armor
**NPCs use a coefficient of 1.5 instead of .4, usually however they tend to have lower Skill levels, don't get special effects like Ancient Knowledge, and don't usually get Perks making the formula for NPCs usually:
Single Item Rating = (base rating + item quality) × (1 + 1.5 × (skill/100)
*** Each piece of Armor or Shield worn grants +25 bonus Armor rating which means upto 100 Armor Rating meaning the true value needed to reach the cap if wearing all 5 pieces of armor (shield included) is 100 less than the above listed requirement as all qualities of armor provide the same bonus for just wearing it.

Shields - Shields only use the item's base armor value to calculate the % of damage blocked so it tends to be best to use stronger shields when possible as such I won't do a top 10 list and will just note exceptions.

Dragonplate Shield - Comparable to the stronger Daedric Shield while being lighter than shields several quality levels lower than it.

Guard Shields - Very weak shields, but they are also light, lighter than the Light Armor shields even making them exceptional for shield bashing favoring a more technical style of play over pure stat stacking, though their benefit is rendered moot by the existence of Vegetable Soup.

Aetherial Shield - Capable of removing enemies from combat for 15 seconds allowing you to focus on other enemies making it a useful crowd control shield or a way to regenerate health by giving you a break to boost your natural health regen through health regen potions which on average tend to be worse than the instant health potions, thus giving the sub-par healing potions a very viable use.

Targe of the Blooded - With Vegetable Soup allowing for stun locking through bashing alone the Targe of the Blooded lets you kill enemies with that method much quicker and for players who have made their main weapon skill legendary and are lacking damage it gives a means to pierce heavy armor until you can level your weapon skill back to more suitable levels.

Lvl 40+ Shield of Solitude - The Magic Resist on the lvl 40+ version reaches level that cannot be obtained through non-exploit means in a single enchantment which means without the perk to allow two enchantments on a shield it's your best source of Magic Resist while the extra Blocking makes up for it's sub-par base when calculating damage blocked by the shield. The unique Magic Resist is stronger than the standard Magic Resist so when you can dual enchant on your own you can use both slots for Magic Resist and render the Shield of Solitude moot as using the enchantments on a stronger shield solves the damage blocked problem without needing the Block enchantment.

Spellbreaker - Noteworthy for being the strongest shield available base armor-wise making it a perfect low level shield or a good shield for somebody who just made Block legendary. The enchantment tends to be much worse than the standard Magic Resist enchantment, but it's a good substitute for those who aren't skilled in Enchanting yet.
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