You know those pretty cool Dragon Shouts in Skyrim? The ones that are found on mysterious walls scattered around the province and require you to kill dragons? What if they 1. had way shorter cooldowns and 2. were your only weapons?
Now, I really like Dragon Shouts and using the Thu’um. The whole idea of shouting magic at people really appeals to me. And really, it makes sense, because if magic is only tied to your hands, then having your hands tied will pretty much stop you completely. Being able to use your hands and mouth for magic seems like a far better idea. But admittedly, some Shouts aren’t very strong, and if you’re playing as a mage, will tend to get in the way of your normal magic anyway, especially for stuff like Detect Living/Dead, which are far easier to cast compared to Aura Whisper, or the Disarm shout compared to fear spells.
That being said, Shouts have their places. In a vanilla game, they have no magicka costs but long cooldowns, depending on the shout and how many words you use. Shouts are basically massive “FUCK I’M IN TROUBLE WHAT DO I DO?” buttons, something you only use in an emergency or when you know a fight is going to be tough. Or in the case of Dragon Aspect, a shout from the Dragonborn DLC that gives you glowing dragon armour, never use it at all because it can only be used once an in-game day and doesn’t last very long.
Sadly, all vanilla shouts use the same cooldown, meaning if you use Call Dragon (which has a five minute cooldown), you’ve got to wait five minutes before you use any other shout. There’s a nice mod that fixes the problem though.
But when you take away or massively reduce the cooldowns? That’s when the fun begins.
The idiot that I am though, I decided to do a playthrough using Shouts almost exclusively. The rules were simple, I’d start off with the first words of Fire Breath and Unrelenting Force and go from there. Unarmed or a dagger if I really needed to, and any armour I come across.
It’s actually pretty damn fun.
Alright, close combat is deadly to you, but you can clear rooms pretty quickly and stagger pretty much everyone apart from the odd Draugr Deathlord that sometimes spawns for no reason. Sometimes though it’s better to just keep on knocking enemies down and run your way through things.
It’s even more fun when used with fire-spreading mods, so rooms turn into nothing but walls of fire. The only problem is that I have to prioritize what I fight and where I go, for two reasons – firstly, I can only diversify my abilities by visiting Word Walls (many of which are at the end of long, tedious ruins) and secondly killing dragons with dragon shouts is kinda hard. Especially before you get Dragonrend, because dragons don’t land that much and Unrelenting Force is useless on them.
The shouts you really should get first are Become Ethereal and Frost Breath. Frost Breath is mainly so you have another attack to use (and is best obtained via Bonestrewn Crest, on the way to Windhelm as the local dragon is often too busy attacking Mammoths), but Become Ethereal is a life saver. Literally. Weirdly you get access to that shout really early on in the main quest, so it’s not too hard to get either.
Just so you know, you can’t use Shouts while jumping. So use Become Ethereal BEFORE you jump off a cliff.
A shouts-only playthrough though pairs really nicely with a particular play-as-a-dragon mod. Sure you can’t go into caves without switching back to a mortal form, but being a dragon and using their tools is the best. Even more so when you realise that mod actually had nothing to do with your constant Skyrim crashes…