What is a Pure Mage?
In the “Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion" there is ample scope for building a pure-class, or creating a class focused on major skills governed by your chosen attributes. Specializations are divided into three categories – being stealth, magic and combat – and making a Pure Warrior or Pure Caster is certainly rewarding to the player, despite the difficulty determined by the “levelled-enemies" system. But what does “Pure" refer to, what does it mean?
Pure is not a character-trait in this case, but it means a class which only uses favoured skills. It may be a Warrior who does not use magic/stealth, or a Thief who does not use magic/close-range combat.
The purpose of this guide however, is to help you create a Pure-Mage by listing the possible choices you can make. This character will not use weapons or armour from the beginning and will only focus on favoured skills. Read on for some oblivion tips regarding this character.
Choosing a Race
The best race for pure mages is, without doubt, the Altmer or High-elf. High-elves have a +10 bonus to Intelligence, which determines magicka-amount, and a +10 bonus in three schools of magic: Alteration, Destruction and Mysticism. The Altmer also has 100 added points to your magicka pool, meaning that with all the other bonuses your starting magicka will be more than any other race in Oblivion. Tips for playing the Altmer + Atronach combination are given in following sections.
Bretons also make great mages, whether you want a Conjurer or an expert in Restoration. The concept doesn’t really matter; you can choose whatever you wish. Bretons get +10 to Intelligence and Willpower, +10 to Alteration, Destruction and Mysticism and 50 points to your magicka-pool. This race also has a 50% ability to resist magic.
Finally Orcs make a good Warlock/Healer concept, with bonuses in Destruction and Restoration. They can resist magic with a 25% chance of success.
Another acceptable choice for a mage is a female Argonian although considerably less powerful than the races listed above. All the other races are good for Role-Playing concepts (it’s about fun after all), but ultimately useless for playing power-builds.
Choosing a Birth-Sign
Many Oblivion tips or guides, such as Prima, often tell the player to leave the Atronach sign well alone, describing it as ‘Dicey’ or ‘A chore.’ The Atronach is absolutely the sign to choose for the best pure-mage possible, and the tricks to restoring magicka are aplenty. With an Altmer + Magic Specialization (chosen at Character start-up) + Atronach sign combination you’ll have a power-house: 360 points of magicka to start with is something to brag about.
The Apprentice is a good choice; although you get a weakness to magic (100%) there are many ways to overcome this (i.e. Mundane Rings or custom Constant-Enchantments). Apprentice adds 100 points to your magicka-pool
The sign of the Mage is without weaknesses but weaker than the Atronach or Apprentice. You have 50 points added to your magicka pool and that’s it: no other bonuses or weaknesses. It is good for players without much casting experience.
Atronach Afflictions: Restoring Magicka
Depending on the type of player you are, you may or may not need to restore magicka often as an Atronach; meaning that if you are heavily action-oriented you will run out quickly and need to replenish a lot.
In the early stages the easiest way of restoring is by using chapel-altars, specifically an Altar of the Nine. Due to the fact that there isn’t one in Imperial City, start your game in one of the lesser towns. Another way is using Ayleid wells which can be more dangerous due to wildlife/creatures/undead. Therefore a good and safe strategy would be to level by killing game/wildlife in the town’s vicinity, returning and replenishing. Once past level 5-6 you can attempt to use wells.
In the middle/high stages you can enchant items to get your spell-reflection to 100%. You can buy potions, find sorcery potions in dungeons (there are lots) or summon a casting creature (i.e. a lich, a wraith). You will fight the summon and absorb the magic it casts, though this is a slightly more risky strategy. Lastly, you can use Welkynd stones, found in Ayleid ruins, to replenish your magicka; this is only recommended at mid-high levels due to the fact that you will need to fight to get them.
Keeping all the above in mind should clear matters for you. Beginning players are usually weary of playing the Atronach, but it isn’t actually that difficult, and some say this birth-sign even tips oblivion’s power-scale in favour of mages over other classes.
You Shall Not Pass: Using your Arsenal
The “One trick pony" approach was briefly mentioned in the introduction, and if you want to enjoy magic variation is important. Know what each school of magic does; create a “specialist" from the beginning (i.e. an Illusionist who hides, a Master-blaster) and stick with it.
Here are some useful tips (Oblivion offers a number of spells):
1) Use charm spells on creatures as an Illusionist; even if you are just beginning, you can avoid fighting at all. Similar thing with invisibility.
2) You don’t have to use Destruction to kill. Burden, Command, Rally or Frenzy are all interesting spells from various schools and effective in combat (some also hilarious).
3) Destruction does not just mean Fireballs or Lightning. Drain-skill, Disintegrate or Weakness are incredibly useful, often more so than just using the elements.
4) Using a combination of effects when spell-making is essential. Consider something like: Burden + Drain-Strength + Weakness to Fire + Fire Damage.
Stirring Up Trouble: Alchemy
Lastly, alchemy plays an important part when playing a pure-mage. Some swear by it, others don’t see the point, but, arguments aside, it remains useful regardless of your class.
Spend some time picking ingredients and make Restore-fatigue potions in your early days. Get your alchemy-level to Journeyman or Expert and eventually, with good equipment, you can make long-lasting potions which restore your magicka, create light or allow you to carry as much loot as you want. This saves up your magic-reserves for when it matters. You have no need for poisons as a pure-mage, but you can still create them to advance your skill and fill that sorry-looking purse.
That is all there is to it, without the player’s ingenuity or creativity. Now put your robe on and set off the fireworks!