The Perfect Dragonborn Build

December 15, 2021 by Solar Cross

Elsewhere I have written about how we can play Skyrim without becoming Dragonborn. Here we will determine a character build that is a perfect fit for being Dragonborn. Welcome to the Solar Cross answer to the perfect Dragonborn build.

There are two broad criteria for guiding our vision, roleplaying immersion and also in-game effectiveness. The perfect Dragonborn build should max both criteria.

Race

There all sorts of lore reasons why the dragonborn would most likely be a Nord. The marketing art for Skyrim clearly presumes the dragonborn will be a Nord. Although it must be said that dragonborn status is a blessing from the god Akatosh and a god may dispense his blessings wherever he wants. It is not wrong for the dragonborn to be something other than a Nord but they are certainly the most fitting race for it.

In game terms Nords will work well too. As we shall see later the Dragonborn ought really to be a warrior, rather than a mage or thief. The race specific skills and abilities of Nords lean very heavily towards warrior builds.

Resist Frost

Nords have a innate resistance to frost damage which is of enormous value against many of Skyrim’s native hostiles. More specifically building up a dragonborn requires delving into draugr tombs to find dragon words as well as killing dragons to acquire dragon souls. The stronger draugr will dish out frost spells and many of the dragons will have frosty breath attacks. Nords then have a natural resilience against such foes.

Class

As mentioned before we see the perfect dragonborn as a warrior. We will gain the title of thane as soon as we despatch Milmulmir outside Whiterun. A thane in real world lore is a role primarily associated with military duties. You can think of it as an old word for army officer. It would be weird for a thief or a mage to be awarded such a title.

Being dragonborn grants the use of dragon shouts. Dragon shouts are practically a parallel magic system. Being proficient in one makes it rather redundant to also be proficient in the other.

Dragonscale and Dragonbone Armor

In game terms we will be fighting dragons a lot and these creatures drop dragon bones and scales in their loot. These materials can be crafted into high quality arms and armor. However to do so we must have our smithing skill leveled to 100. Both the use of armor and the ability to smith to a high level suggests a warrior class.

Certainly the perfect Dragonborn would wear Dragonplate armor and wield dragonbone weapons crafted from the bodies of his own kills.

Skills

The perfect dragonborn is not just a nord warrior but also a warrior specialised to fight dragons and draugr. We fight dragons to get their souls and their bones and we fight draugr to access the dragon words hidden in their barrows.

The key skills for a perfect dragonborn are: Two handed, Archery, Smithing, Heavy (or Light) Armor and Restoration.

Two-handed

Nords have a head start in the two-handed skill and two handed weapons may be a little more efficient against large monsters like dragons. Dragons spend little time on the ground in melee range so maximising the damage output from power attacks makes sense.

Dragons do not appear to have an armor rating so perks spent on specializing in maces and warhammers are ill-advised.

Undead, like the draugr, are immune to bleed damage so perks in axes may be sub-optimal. Bleed damage is potentially useful against dragons though.

Sword perks are advantageous against both draugr and dragons.

Archery

Dragons spend a good amount of time in the air where they are beyond the reach of close combat weapons.

Smithing

Smithing is an important support skill for warriors. In particular we want to be able to craft dragon armor and weapons which requires the Dragon Armor perk in the smithing perk tree.

Heavy / Light Armor

It is possible to craft dragon armor which is either light or heavy, so either skill is viable for the perfect dragonborn.

Restoration

Restoration has general utility for healing but we are including here because of wards and turn undead spells. Wards offer a very effective defense from dragon breath attacks as well as the frost spells cast by draugr. The perk Ward Absorb can help us sustain wards being punished by breath attacks for longer.

Turn undead spells have obvious utility against draugr.

Alternative Take

An alternative skill set could be block and one handed instead of two handed and restoration.

The one handed skill is more flexible than two handed. Strong one handed skills can allow us to use a shield for defence and then flip to dual wielding for raw damage output. The perk Elemental Protection in the block perk tree can make our shield work well against breath attacks as an alternative to wards.

Factions

As a nord warrior it would certainly make sense to join the Companions. Likewise we can take either side of the civil war factions, Imperials or Stormcloaks.

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