Just surfing around the net and couldn't find any builds specific to making the vampire lord form as effective as possible. A lot builds seem to go for a necromage-based build, which is an exploit and has been fixed through official patches (it doesn't work on my copy of Skyrim, at least) and I wouldn't want to use something which feels so imbalancing in a cheaty way to the game mechanics.
This build is designed specifically with the vampire lord form in mind, so making that as powerful as it can be. I won't go into gear or anything like that, just the perks that will bolster the power of the vampire lord form. As a vampire lord, you will want to raise your natural magicka a fair amount, to make full use of the blood magic and night powers, which is generally more effective than running around swiping at enemies with your fists... I mean, claws).
- Mage Armour (3 levels)
- Magic Resistance (3 levels)
- Alteration Dual Casting
- Atronach (optional)
In the alteration tree, the Mage Armour perks boost the level of damage resistance available to a character who isn't wearing armour. As a vampire lord, you won't be able to take advantage of armour in the vampire lord form, but you will be able to take advantage of the residual effects of Mage Armour spells, meaning if you cast a Flesh spell, then transform into the vampire lord form, the effects of that spell will still be in effect for as long as that spell would naturally last. With Stability and Dual Casting, this can mean four minutes of increased armour rating in the vampire lord form, making you considerably more durable in combat. Magic Resistance perks still take effect in the vampire lord form, meaning you will have an innate 30% magic resistance in the vampire lord form at all times. In fact, following this build to the letter, you will have an innate 70% magic resistance while in the vampire lord form). Atronach is only available at 100 alteration, it is entirely optional and probably fairly inconsequential once you are at that level of power, but it does fill up an empty magicka bar at a rate of knots, whichever form you are in at the time.
- Dark Souls
- Twin Souls
- Mystic Binding (optional)
Optionally, conjuration can be a great school for synergies with the vampire lord form. Not only does the Twin Souls perk have a synergy with the vampire lord Raise Dead power, allowing TWO raised followers to do your bidding, but Dark Souls will increase the hit points of each of those raised creatures by 100 points, making them much tougher. Necromancy will double the duration of all your raised followers, in normal form and in vampire lord form. Mystic Binding gives a healthy boost to bound sword and bound dagger (for those who have dragonborn), which works very nicely with the sneak perks below.
With the illusion school, all vampire characters get a +25% bonus to the power (not the duration), of their illusion spells, which makes illusion magic a considerably more viable option as a vampire. What perks you decide to take here are up to you, bearing in mind that dual casting doubles the power of the spells, meaning they affect higher level creatures and people. If you like illusion magic, then it will be more viable as a vampire, but it is an optional school. The only synergy here that I know of is the Quiet Casting perk, which may allow you to silently paralyse enemies as a vampire lord, for example.
- Recovery (2 levels)
- Necromage (optional)
- Avoid Death (optional)
Necromage is optional and won't make you intensely more powerful, but does raise the potency of all spells (damage and level limits) but only against. It's your choice whether you want to raise restoration up to 70 (restoration being one of the harder spell schools to raise), and take the pre-requisite Regeneration perk. A big impact though is the Recovery perk, and it's the only way to raise your magicka rate in the vampire lord form, save for the hard-to-get Ring of the Erudite, which raises the basic magicka rate from 10 to 12. Because vampire lords have a higher base magicka rate than other races (10 compared to the usual 3 in normal form), Recovery has a profound effect on the recovery speed and when coupled with the vampire lord perk which reduces blood magic costs by 33%, you will rarely yourself running out of magicka in the vampire lord form. Avoid Death is probably not worth all the effort required to get it (requires a lot of raising the restoration skill) but if you happen to have 90 restoration and a spare perk point, then you might as well, right?
- Stealth (1 level)
- Backstab (optional)
- Assassin's Blade (optional)
All vampires get an innate +25% to their sneak chance, which makes sneaking a lot easier, especially when combined with the first level of Stealth, which gives a +20% chance to sneaking. That's a passive +45% in total, added to the fact that this build doesn't use physical armour (giving the highest chance to sneak). The perks Backstab and Assassin's Blade work well with a sneaky character who can backstab with daggers for the times when turning into a vampire lord and blasting your way through swathes of foes isn't a viable option. But for the most part this build is about using the vampire lord form! It's optional whether you go down the daggers route, but it certainly helps to be sneaky sometimes, especially if you want to play through the dark brotherhood and thieves guild plot lines.
- Armsman (5 levels, optional)
Again, if you choose the daggers route, then any spare perks can be thrown into Armsman, for boosting dagger damage (combined with assassin's blade, mystic binding and backstabbing gloves such as the shrouded handwraps, you're looking at a 60x damage daedric-equivalent bound dagger, which can take out many foes in a single sneak attack). If you don't want to use daggers or bound daggers, then the sneak and one handed perks can be substituted for archery or destruction - in this build, you will have plenty of magicka to play around with, though destruction isn't the most powerful way to dish out pain... but then that's what the vampire lord form is for in this build).
So there you have it! Many of the perks which have synergies with the vampire lord form, realising it's fullest potential. There are just a few more things which really aid the power of the form, which are as follows:
- The Lord Stone (boosts magic resistance by 25%, boosts damage resistance by 50)
- Agent of Mara (from the Mara temple quest, boosts passive magic resistance by 15%)
- Force Without Effort (from the greybeards quest line, you stagger less, enemies stagger more)
- Agent of Dibella (from the Dibella temple quest, boosts damage 10% against opposite sex)
- Ring of the Erudite (from vampire radiant quest, boosts magicka rate by 2 and magicka by 100)
- Amulet of the Gargoyle (from vampire radiant quest, allows two gargoyles to be summoned at once)
As a final note, the natural vampire lord reaches its most powerful (in terms of innate damage resistance, stat boosts and damage rating) at level 41. After level 41, there are no more boosts to stats, damage, powers, resistances etc. Just so you know.