The Hist Warden
I believe that it is this Hist Sap that gives the Argonians the ability to defy the logical limits of their own physiology and also empowers their shamans or "tree-minders." If we can tap the energy contained within a Hist tree, who knows what we, a race used to manipulating magic, may achieve?
~ Cirantelle, On Argonians
: Restoration > Alteration > One-Handed > Smithing > Light Armor > Enchanting
: 2 Magicka
: 1 Health
: 1 Stamina
: Morokei, Savior's Hide, Dragonbone Mace/Dagger (unenchanted), Dragonscale Boots/Gauntlets and Ring/Necklace (one-handed enchantment)
: Elemental Fury, Slow Time, Dragonrend
: Start with the Mage Stone then move to Atronach or Lord.
: The College of Winterhold
: Lawful Neutral
The Hist Warden was born into a tribe in central Black Marsh. Like most of her tribe, she was trained early in her life to learn how to protect the native Hist trees that are so vital to Argonian life and culture. She was trained to handle a variety of weapons, and became proficient with them at a remarkable pace. It was as a child that she learned to handle two weapons of completely different types at once, often placing a dagger or sword in her left hand to ward off or weaken foes, and finishing with a powerful blow of a mace in her right. The Hist Warden was also incredibly in tune with her natural born affinities for restoration and alteration magics, using a combination of both to protect herself and the Hist trees. A recluse growing up, the Hist Warden was one day called to help patrol the regions of northern Black Marsh in their ongoing conflict with the Dark Elves. Though initially reluctant, she followed orders and learned to use her magic and combat abilities in groups, and became a valued member of their ranks. The Hist Warden's affinity for healing people even transferred to those she was meant to fight, often taking in the weakest of the rebel Dunmer and healing them- after their wounds were healed, she would threaten them to run north and tell their families to stay out of Argonia. This practice was an open secret among her military compatriots, as most were too scared to challenge her on it. Fiercely protective and intimidating, the Hist Warden was an enigma even to her native people- she was impersonal and cold, but selfless in everything she did.
I stayed among the roots late into the night, unable to sleep with the unsteady vibration in my bones. I have cared for this Hist nearly all my years and have always been able to find the cause of the few troubles it feels.
Unfortunately, word of her mercy traveled up to the powers that be, and one day she was exiled from the region. With no where to go and nothing to protect, the Hist Warden traveled west through Cyrodiil to make a new life in Leyawiin. It was there that she spent some time as a hired bodyguard, successfully guarding merchants and travelers from hired assassins and vigilante soldiers of the various warring forces. Racial tensions had never been higher, it seemed, but the Hist Warden knew the value of following orders, and always killed her opposition as quickly and painlessly as possible, often leaving a septim on particularly challenging foes. The Hist Warden would spend the next decade doing this, traveling throughout much of Cyrodiil in the process. During this phase of her life, she learned of the Mages Guild- long dissolved and splintered into two despicable factions, she opines for a mentor to help her harness her powers into something greater. While traveling in Bruma she learns of the College of Winterhold from a local Nord, and decides to take a contract to guard some Nords as they make their way into Skyrim. Unfortunately, among the Nords she was guarding was Ulfric Stormcloak in disguise, and the band of them get captured at Darkwater Crossing.
After escaping from Helgen, the Hist Warden makes her way to Winterhold to study with the college, but along the way learns of her role as Dragonborn. She studies dutifully with the Greybeards, and in the process she harnesses the power of the dragons to quicken her swings, and she learns of powerful alteration and restoration magic in the college, using speed and defense as her main tools against the dragon threat in Skyrim. Having spent her whole life guarding something, she finds her true calling.- to protect all of Nirn itself from Alduin and the dragon crisis.
The Build - Skills
Primary Skills and Perks
: Alteration (Stability, Magic Resistance, Atronach), Restoration (Regeneration, Recovery), One Handed (Dual Flurry, Dual Savagery, Fighting Stance, Savage Strike).
Secondary Skills and Perks
: Light Armor (Custom Fit, Unhindered, Wind Walker), Smithing (Dragon Smithing), Enchanting (Insightful Enchanter)
The goal of this build is actually very simple- attack fast. Dual Flurry is the single most essential perk in this build, but the other aspects of the build help you fortify yourself in melee combat. Recovery will help you regenerate magicka faster to cast your healing spells as needed, even after dual casting an expensive alteration spell like Ebonyflesh. Regeneration, Atronach, and Magic Resistance will help keep you alive. Smithing should be taken all the way to Dragon, as the dragonscale armor is very complimentary to Savior's Hide, which we will be using for the magic and poison resistance, and because it is the best light armor in the game. Additionally, Smithing will get you access to elven and glass weapons, and eventually dragonbone weapons. The other One-Handed perks serve to increase your damage and frequency of dual-handed power attacks, which are absolutely insane, especially under the effect of this build's main shout (Elemental Fury). More on that later.
You could optionally use heavy armor instead here, which has the advantage of allowing you to improve Savior's Hide (at Ebony) and Morokei (at Daedric), which is what I eventually did at later levels, but you should be able to rely on alteration magic and improved light gauntlets and boots until then. Light armor also gives us access to Wind Walker, which improves Stamina Regen and helps us recover faster to dish out more power attacks. Conveniently, the two components of your armor you make yourself will also be the only two components that can take the fortify one-handed enchantment, which is why we take Insighful Enchanter in this build (to make better one-handed enchantments). For jewelry, you have the option of doing either fortify one-handed or magic resistance. Eventually, you should be able to gain enough magic resistance from quests, perks, and stones that you should be free to enchant your necklace and ring with fortify one-handed. You could also opt for fortify restoration for cheaper healing or fortify stamina/stamina regen for more power attacks, but the DPS this build gets with one-handed is pretty insane if you go that route.
The Build - Spells
The build as is calls for 350 Magicka
after 50 level ups (e.g. lvl 51), and this can be buffed to 400
with the Atronach stone.
This build utilizes two schools of magicka- Restoration and Alteration. While Alteration is very central to this build, its use in the long game is more for the passive perks Atronach and Magic Resistance. Still, you will want many of the spells in Alteration both to level it up and to help give you an armor rating edge in the early game.
Oakflesh(Novice) -> Stoneflesh(Apprentice) -> Ironflesh(Adept) -> Ebonyflesh(Expert) - Improves Armor Rating by 40/60/80/100 pts for 1 minute.
Dragonhide(Master) - Caster ignore 80% of all physical damage for 30 seconds.
Remember with the Stability perk all of these spells last 50% longer (90 seconds for the first four spells and 45 seconds for Dragonhide). Dual casting most of these (doubling their duration, not their effectiveness) will not be a problem for you as you come across them so long as you stick to improving your magicka every other level, but it's not something to focus on either. Dragonhide is of slightly more limited use late game since your armor rating will eventually come close to already negating 80% damage, but Ebonyflesh will remain a nice boost. For this reason Master Alteration is not essential to the build, but you'll likely find that Alteration is so easy to level that you might as well take it for Dragonhide in the mid game. You could also optionally learn Mass Paralysis(Master) for some shenanigans, but keep in mind your follower will also be paralyzed.
At the counter, when Zaki pulled out his sachel of gold pieces, Octoplasm merely shook his head: "Are treatment radical such of effects term long the what sure be can't we, naturally. Charge no."
Feeling the first real relief he had felt in days, Zaki walked backwards out of the shop and down the road to his shop
~ Yaqut Tawashi, Withershins
Healing(Novice) - Heals 10pts/second.
Heal Other(Adept) - Heals a target by 75 pts.
Fast Healing(Apprentice) -> Close Wounds(Adept) -> Grand Healing*(Expert) - Heals the caster 50/100/200 pts.
*Grand Healing also heals every friendly NPC around you for the same amount.
Lesser Ward(Novice) -> Steadfast Ward(Apprentice) -> Greater Ward(Adept) - Increases armor rating by 40/60/80 pts and negates up to 40/60/80 pts of spell damage.
Guardian Circle(Master): undead up to level 35 will flee inside it; caster heals for 20pts/second inside it.
If One-Handed is the offensive focus of this build, Restoration is the defensive focus of this build. Wards will be useful to you in closing the distance to hit dragons, and healing spells are obviously there to help you and your ally in a pinch- dual casting any heal spell multiplies its healing by 2.2, so Grand Healing at dual cast heals a whopping 440 health. Guardian Circle is the least essential of all of these spells, and costs a massive 212 magicka to cast at Restoration 100 with the Master Restoration perk. At that point undead shouldn't be an issue for you, and making them flee isn't exactly helpful to you bludgeoning them to death, so why is it here? Combined with the Atronach perk/Standing Stone, casting Guardian Circle before any fight basically gives you a sanctuary where you simply cannot die. Moving into the circle will restore some health, but it will also
restore some magicka, as you are absorbing your own spell. This means that you can simply take out Grand Healing and cast it in one hand and Greater Ward in the other, or just dual cast Grand Healing, and nothing will be able to kill you since you'll very quickly regain the magicka needed to recast these spells. Thus, Guardian Circle gives you a neat fallback strategy before any very challenging fight. It is not particularly necessary otherwise though, and if you wish you can skip Master Restoration altogether.
Guardian Circle is also by far the best way to close in the last 10 levels of Restoration (assuming you have 424 magicka to cast it, achievable with potions and Atronach stone), as you can use the same strategy as above to simply keep casting Guardian Circle, and each cast gets you around 1/7th of the way to the next level. Restoration levels much slower than Alteration, so you may find Guardian Circle worth picking up just for this reason alone, even if you don't intend to take Master Restoration.
The Build - Gear, Shouts, Stones, and Leveling
Hey! Those belong to my family! Sigh... fine, take whatever you want.
: Morokei (dragon mask from College quest-line), Savior's Hide (Hircine's quest), Dragonbone Mace/Dagger (unenchanted), Dragonscale Boots/Gauntlets and Necklace/Ring all with one-handed enchantments, Bow (optional)
: Elemental Fury, Slow Time, Dragonrend
: Mage -> Atronach or Lord
: H -> M -> S -> M, and repeat. By level 51 this is 350 Magicka
, 230 Health
, and 220 Stamina
Do not feel the need to take Daedric/Ebony Smithing to improve Morokei and Savior's Hide- the increased armor rating is not particularly necessary, especially if you remember to cast Ebonyflesh before each fight. Also note that the Morokei I have (if you browse the pictures) gives a decrease in shout time similar to Amulet of Talos- this is from the Unofficial Skyrim Patch and is not in the game by default. That said, expert level Alteration and Restoration spells are very expensive even with their respective perks taken, and Morokei is going to be a must have if you enchant everything else with one-handed, especially if you take the Atronach stone. Savior's Hide gives us +15% Magicka Resist. You can get close to the cap by other means: The Book of Love quest gives you another 15%, the Magic Resist perks in Alteration give us another 30% at max level, and you can optionally choose the Lord Stone for another 25% to cap it at 85%. Alternatively, if you go with Atronach Stone and take the Atronach perk in Alteration as well, you'll have 80% spell absorb on top of the 60% resist magicka. Blessing of Azura in Dragonborn DLC will also give you a temporary +10% resistance, giving you a whopping 80% absorption and 70% resistance. Not quite the cap, but pretty close. Thematically, I link this to the idea that The Hist Warden is not a fan of Skyrim's cold magic, and therefore aims to protect them through resistance and absorption so that they do not feel the effects of cold as often.
We've already mentioned the value of one-handed enchantments in this build, so i'll talk a bit about the weapons available to you. The purpose of using the Mace in the right hand and the Dagger in the left is to increase swing speed and maximize damage- the Mace is the hardest hitting one-handed weapon, while the Dagger is the fastest, and dual attacks take their speed from the weapon in the left
hand, and their damage from both
hands. You can kill Elder Dragons on Legendary in a few seconds with this combination (with or without power attacks). Now keep in mind that, without the Unofficial patch, Daggers do not benefit from the one-handed enchantment, in which case you're better off at later levels substituting it for a Sword (the next faster weapon). You can play around with whatever combination of weapons you want, but flavor wise I like the idea of the Hist Warden choosing mis-matching weapons, so I recommend sticking with something like dagger/mace, sword/mace, or even sword/axe or axe/mace. Just don't go dual daggers- this isn't a thief build, and dual dagger power attacks are actually slowed by their stabbing animation.
As for shouts, Elemental Fury is the only true essential one here. Every rank of Elemental Fury increases your dual swing speed of unenchanted weapons by 20% or 30%, with 70% faster swing speed at max rank (note: this works as long as the left-hand weapon is not enchanted, but personally I like the look of using two unenchanted weapons, plus you really wont need an extra enchantment). It also stacks additive with Dual Flurry, which at max rank under the effects of maxed Elemental Fury gives you about 3x faster dual swing speed. Slow Time is also quite nice as it benefits from the Stability perk in Alteration, increasing your Slow Time duration by 50%. Dragonrend is also nice if you don't want to carry a bow to get a Dragon's attention. If you do go with the bow, you can enchant it or fortify it for a little extra damage, but don't go out of your way to become an archer until you've fulfilled the other parts of the build.
Finally, for leveling, prioritize magicka since we are reliant on the defensive capabilities of alteration and restoration. After than, split between health and stamina. A simple formula is to level health -> magicka -> stamina -> magicka. Stamina will be necessary to chain dual wield power attacks, though if you run out of stamina you can use normal dual attacks just fine. One component of the build I haven't talked about in depth is the fact that you will want to travel with a companion! Any companion will do, this is entirely up to you. The goal of focusing on magicka and Restoration is to get Grand Healing (and often dual cast it for about 210 magicka at max Restoration) so that you can heal both yourself and your companion. You'll also want to dual cast Ebonyflesh to fortify your armor rating since we're using Light Armor (~282 magicka at max Alteration). Also, since we care about dragon armor/weapons, you'll want a companion to carry dragon bones and scales for you. Remember that the Hist Warden is used to fighting alongside people, so this aspect of the build is pretty central for the roleplay.
The first thing to understand is that magic is, by its very nature, volatile and dangerous. Unless you can control it, it can and will destroy you.
: Lawful Neutral (you can tilt good or evil as you develop your character).
Daedric Prince Quests to Complete
: Hircine, Hermaeus Mora.
: The College of Winterhold
: Winterhold initially (college room -> Arch Mage quarters).
: Avoid both.
You should always take the opportunity to complete an escort based quest. Fortunately, many escort quests eventually lead to the person you're escorting becoming an available companion. Personally, I think you should pick the first person who offers to be your companion and travel with them for most of the rest of the game, but you can choose to switch as the opportunity rises. The Daedric quests can be completed as you see fit. The Hist Warden would follow orders dutifully when asked, and will use the Daedric rewards as a means to bring order back to Tamriel. She will accept Hircine's orders and be rewarded with the Savior's Hide- in her mind it is worth killing one life to bring order back to Falkreath. She should also do Hermaeus Mora's quest, as her personal thirst for magic knowledge will lead her to follow through with the Dwemer investigation in that quest, eventually being rewarded with the Oghma Infinium and choosing the Mage reward. Morality is not central here, however some quests are arguably too immoral for The Hist Warden to complete- Molag Bal, Boethiah, and Namira come to mind. Since enchanting isn't too central to the build outside of a few one-handed enchantments, you could, for once, not
corrupt Azura's Star (tempting as it is, I know). Another quest to think carefully about is Sanguine's, as The Hist Warden isn't particularly indulgent. Of course, you're free to play her as you see fit, but if your goal is to roleplay her as believably as possible, you should probably pass on some of these quests. Ironically Sheogorath's quest makes perfect sense to indulge in, both because of how you end up within it and because it is a quest that actually restores order. Play it by ear, and think carefully about whether or not The Hist Warden would follow every order.
Since you came to Skyrim specifically for the College, you should do their quest-line early. Alteration is also a very easy skill to level quickly, so the master level quest for Alteration can be taken very early. Restoration takes much longer, but don't forget to return to the college at Restoration 90 for the master level Restoration quest as well. The Hist Warden loves to learn, so a lot of time should be spent learning and helping out at the college, especially early on. As her powers grow, The Hist Warden will want to travel and spend time within each of the holds for extended periods. Do not be afraid to purchase many houses, spending several hours centered in that city and that hold, getting to know the history and landscape around you. Don't be particularly kind towards people unless they need help- The Hist Warden is not particularly talkative or speech savvy. If given the choice to persuade or intimidate, you should usually intimidate, then go with the default option. Persuasion just isn't in her nature. For other guilds, The Hist Warden might take a dark turn and enjoy the fulfillment of Dark brotherhood contracts, and she may even join the Companions up to the point of being asked to become a werewolf, but she will not join the Thieves Guild. She will side with the Dawnguard in the Dawnguard DLC, as vampires are a direct contradiction to everything she believes in. It follows that you should avoid becoming a vampire or werewolf- the Hist Warden is smart enough to know the dangerous effects of diseases, and as such will do everything in her power to avoid contracting vampire disease (or any disease). Similarly, her restorative practices compliment a belief in personal purity, and she will not accept becoming a werewolf or vampire when offered.
Finally, the Hist Warden will travel with a companion, ideally one that she has protected or helped in the past (ideally not a hired gun). Whenever your companion is struggling in a fight (or just struggling to get past some sort of trap), it is your duty to protect them first. Heal them with Heal Other or Grand Healing when necessary, put up a ward and block incoming attacks, and focus your own attacks on any enemy that might be flanking them. It is also worth noting that this relationship is professional, at least to begin with. For at least the first 25 or so levels, do not marry your companion as it contradicts the Hist Warden's impersonal and professional demeanor- however whatever romantic bonds may arise late into the game is up to you. Your companion of choice, as mentioned before, is essentially your discretion. I personally chose Golldir, due to his goal paralleling the Hist Warden's quite well (in that he desires to fiercely protect his family tomb), but I could just as easily see her traveling with any of the mages from the College, for example. Play this one out by ear- maybe you will cycle through companions quickly, or maybe you'll stick with one all the way through, but a big part of The Hist Warden's personality is revealed in exactly who
you choose to travel with. Have fun with it, and remember that your decisions prioritize restoring order whenever possible, by any means (moral or immoral) necessary.