Class Guide - Ranger
The principle of this build is to inflict the majority of your damage via your light bow and to use pets (animal spirits) to tank the enemies. The build is relatively easy to play (it still requires you to aim) in the early and mid game and gets tougher in late game, but not impossible. For the sake of RP, I based the build on an lawful character, respecting the Bosmer green pact (No harm to any plants, tree, eating/using every enemy defeated). This build doesn’t use Honed Metal meaning you can use your money to train your skills or buy a house without worrying too much. Start with the blessing of Kynareth, then switch to Mara if you do her quest, then Auri-El in late-game. We will use Wood Elf (bosmers) because their starting skills and access to raw human meat are excellent for rangers.
Marksman - Smith - Evasion - Conjuration - Restoration - Illusion
You will still invest perks in the above skills, however when asked to choose a background, choose your own background with Marksman - Evasion - Lockpicking - Restoration - Conjuration - Illusion as they are the slowest to level up organically and the class bonuses give you a nice boost.
Speechcraft, Enchanting (in midgame)
First 9 level into magicka then full stamina. Choose Health with Oghma Infinium
Weapons : Elven light bow > Glass Light bow > Stalhrim light bow > Auriel’s Bow
Enchantment : Fiery soultrap + Spellbreaker as main bow and against dragon priest. Shockburst + Fireburst when you want to blow everything up (against mass undead / automatons)
Illusion : Blur is top priority. Buy it or level your illusion to 20 to get it asap (3 sessions of 6 hours training at a dummy is enough). Invisibility
Conjuration : Summon Spirit wolf - Summon Spirit Bear - Summon Spirit Sabercat. Bound bow can help you to save some arrows/enchant notably against undeads
Restoration : Healing aura on self - Heal self II
Shouts : Kyne peace is more than enough, RP friendly, and help with stamina regen for the long fights. Fire breath for try-hards. If you play an evil character use Marked for Death III (only accessible when joining Dark Brotherhood).
Crafted and enchanted light armor. Savior’s Hide; Necro amulet. Late game uses an Archmage robe alongside Stalhrim boots, gloves and helmet.
Late game enchantements :
Boots : Fire and Shock resistance
Gloves : Fortify Marksman and Armor rating
Head : Fortify Conjuration and Marksman
Neck and ring : Magic resist and Fortify Marksman
Cloak : Magic resist and Frost resistance
Early : Get your Smithing to 50, do Savior’s hide quest, Do Necro Amulet quest
Midgame : Level up your skills, get Smithing and Enchanting to 100. Clean southern regions and explore random dungeons. The Breach is great and easy with this build and will get you a lot of soul gems. Finish Companion questline, do Angi’s camp quests (+10 marksman skill roughly) and get Marksman to 80
Endgame : College questline > Dawnguard > Miraak > Alduin
I recommend to rush Smithing the fastest possible, by looting the armor of your enemies and recycling it into crafted armor. Iron lockpick is an excellent way of leveling smithing quickly. The best way to craft elven armor early is to loot/buy elven gears and smelt it into calcinium ingot. When you are confident enough, Thalmors will be your best source of calcinium.
Enchanting is important to level when you’ll reach the midgame and have some stable gears. It is really important because your bow don’t have a lot of armor penetration and damage, and you’ll rely a lot on enchantment for lategame enemies. The best way to level it is to use your money to buy Quicksilver (dawnstar vendor have plenty of it) and Moonstone (Markarth vendor have this) to craft yourself some gems. In lategame, enchant a set of gears with Fortify Smithing to increase your tempering capacities. Note : Enchanted Arrows and enchanted bow doesn’t stack, the arrow enchantment will nullify the bow enchantment. For this reason, it’s not that important to craft enchanted arrows with this build, however dragonbone shock arrows are very powerful against enchanted spheres.
I’ve decided to only play with light bow because it’s more fitting with your smithing perks and with the RP of a ranger. However, heavy bows are the superior choice for pure damage. But it would require going into the heavy branch of smithing. It’s completely viable because you can still get light stalhrim at the end, and as a bonus you can also craft daedric arrows, which are the best arrows available. Auriel’s Bow, the best bow in the game, will need you to have Elven Smithing to be able to temper it. Note that light bows are slightly quicker (0.5 sc roughly) and you can move freely when you shoot, making it very safe compared to its heavy counterpart. Since you’ll shoot faster, enchantment applied will also be more effective. Reaching 100 in archery isn’t really needed, your main goal should be 80. Although, the stun effect of Marksmanship 100 helps a lot against Slighted and Ebony Vampire.
Eventually, the goal of this build is to only play with spirit animals and not atronachs for RP reasons, so I didn’t bother taking the perks related to it, but it’s of course up to you. Bound bow is very strong if you get it early, but if you get it the “normal way” by the time you get it, it’ll be already outshined by your light bow, more flexible to use. However, bound bow still have good damage and are especially good against undead (less than your enchanted light bow tho) so it’s good if you want to save some arrows or enchantment charge
Your racial power is very good for hunting very dangerous animals in the early game. You can use it to rally mammoths at your side and make them kill their giants leaders or other mammoth brothers. It also works on trolls and chaurus
It’s really only for Blur that we take that school, and to be completely fair, you don’t really need to dual cast it for it to be very good. So, you could theoretically completely skip these 3 perks points I’ve invested in Illusion. But since we have some spare skills point anyway, and it’s some quality of life change (being able to run invisible, less magicka to cast, blur more effective) and easier to understand for newcomers, I’ve decided to include them in the build.
It’s up to you, in the lategame, warrior stone will add you +10 Armor Penetration and is superior to Mage stone. You’ll reach 76 AP with dragonbone arrow and warrior stone. However, you’ll struggle a lot more early and midgame as your magicka pool and regeneration will be much worse than with Mage Stone. And in the end, you can finish the game with Mage stone without any problem.
With this shout, every lategame enemies with regen becomes very easy for physical build. However, these enemies resist Marked for death I and II, so you need the full shout to be effective, and for that you need to join or destroy the dark brotherhood. Each of these option will remove you from the gods blessing, so I’ve decided to not use it. There is, however, a way to keep these blessing (taunting Grelod for instance, doesn’t count as murder) but for the sake of simplicity and RP, and because it is not needed, I haven’t included it in the build. If you’re struggling with this build in lategame, getting Marked for Death III is a good option to consider.
If you want to follow this bosmer tradition, keep in mind that you should not harm (by collecting) any plants or tree. However, imported wood/plant is fine so you can buy some wood and lumber to vendors in order to craft your arrows. Chopping already cut wood is fine as well (at least in my book). You should also try to use every animal/human corpse you kill, either by eating it or harvest it. Speaking of that, Raw Human meat will give you +2 stamina/+2 magicka for 5 minute if you eat it outside of combat, and it also increases your bow damage (even if it’s not stated).
Dragons: They will be distracted by your animal companion and it should let you time to free dps them. If you want to fight them early, try to farm some falmer cave and gather some lingering poison. They stack and will help you kill your first dragons.
Enchanted sphere : Shock glass arrow / Shock dragonbone arrow minimum. Your pet should tank it. I haven’t found Shock II so i couldn’t test its effectiveness but Shock Burst and Shock I enchant wasn’t enough, however, with shock dragonbone arrow it was a breeze (5-6 arrow to finish the job)
Dragon Priest : Silver arrows, Spellbreaker Enchant + Fire enchant. I recommend to wait to have at least 75 marksmanship to try them because you will stagger-lock them and it will help the fight a lot ! Your spellbreaker enchant will carry you, removing their magic shield, summoned atronach, and cloak. Some dragonpriest are tougher than other and without Marked for Death III, it’s can be a long fight where stamina becomes a problem, Use Kyne peace to restore instantly your stats. Alternatively, rank 1 Fire breath have a cooldown of 30sc and will set the target on fire for 30sc, so you can apply another enchant on your bow if you want (disclaimer : I haven’t tested it personally as it didn’t fit my RP, they might be able to resist it). If you are evil, use marked for death III until it land and you will kill him in 4-5 shots
Ebony Vampire : Fire Silver arrow : Same logic as the dragon priest, but they are way easier. If their sustain is too high for you, enchant yourself with Health II (immunity to life drain) and stop summoning pets.
Soulcairn: Either kill everything using the recommended bow (Fireburst + Shock burst, even though shock doesn’t deal much damage against them, it’ll help for slighted) or completely skip this nightmare using your invisibility spells. Both options work, but prep a lot of silver arrows if you want to do it the fighter’s way (approximately 400-500). Have some Swiftness potion if you get caught by mistmen (made with dragonblood, increase movespeed by 100%).
Seekers/lurker : Stay far away from them and occupy them with your pet. You’ll need a good 10-12 arrow in a row to kill them because they have a good regen. Dragonbone arrows are advised.
Apocrypha is relatively easy if you can reliably kill seekers. I recommend going there when you have marksman 80 and some dragonbone arrow to spare.
Miraak: Stay at a good distance and hidden from his lighting spells. Don’t try to send him your pet, they will die instantly by his cloak. Your Spellbreaker enchantment will instantly remove his atronachs if you hit him. Use Kyne’s Peace to sustain. Use greater magic resist and elemental resist potion bought at an apothecary and you should be fine ! Archers in general have a good kit against miraak.
Alduin : Kite and run away from the mistmen by going on top of the central hill, then go down where he lands. They will be distracted by your pets. Use Clear Sky to remove the meteor rain. Alternatively, when mistmen spawn you can also use Fire Breath 3 with the blackbook and parthurnaax upgrade to completely trivialize the fight, if you have the cd between 2 dragonrend.