The Thalmor Justiciar
The Thalmor Justiciars are a special group within the Thalmor charged with enforcing the White-Gold Concordat, the ban on Talos worship in particular. Of course, Skyrim is chock-full of people who think that the Ninth Divine is a generally swell guy, particularly those Stormcloak fellows, and as such the Justiciars are rather busy, kidnapping Talos worshippers in the middle of the night and all that. Our character is a member of their ranks, making sure that the presence of the Aldmeri Dominion is felt all throughout Skyrim.
Race: Though the Aldmeri Dominion is composed of the ancestral homes of both Bosmer and Altmer, in practice it seems that the Thalmor is composed exclusively of the latter, whereas the former is stuck with serving drinks at Thalmor parties. Beyond that, the Altmer’s magical boosts are much more useful to the build than the Bosmer’s bonuses.
Stone: Mage Armor doesn’t give as much AR as I would like, making the Lord the ideal choice. The extra Magic Resistance helps as well.
Stats: 2/1/0. Heavy reliance on magicka here, though health is obviously important too.
Shouts: Become Ethereal is a nice shout for a variety of reasons, particularly when it comes to casting master level spells without interruption. The most important shout in the Justiciar’s arsenal, however, is Slow Time, as it can be used to send out an absolute barrage of spells in just a few seconds of real time, especially when used with Highborn to eliminate the magicka issue.
Destruction: The Justiciar’s primary source of offense. I’ve done builds that have focused on fire spells or frost spells, or even all three, but never a build focused on shock spells, so I thought I’d change that with the Justiciar and put those Altmeri magicka reserves to good use. Beyond that, the Justiciars seen in-game seem rather fond of shock spells as well. Grab all the perks in this tree except for the fire/frost ones.
Illusion: The Justiciar commands the battlefield in a manner befitting the Thalmor, and heavy usage of Illusion is vital to this. I mostly stuck with Fear and Fury spells, though Rally spells are nice if you have any followers. Grab all the perks in this tree except for Quiet Casting.
Alteration: Primarily needed for the protective power of flesh spells, though paralysis spells make for a nice lategame crowd control tool. Grab all the perks in this tree except for Alteration Dual Casting. Note that Stability increases the duration of Slow Time by fifty percent.
Enchanting: Spell cost reduction enchantments help keep the Justiciar going in lengthy battles, and his weapon is also custom-enchanted. Perk your way up the center tree to Extra Effect.
One-Handed: The Justiciar occasionally relies on a dagger in battle, primarily for its enchantment but also for damage as well. Since you won’t be using any power attacks, the only perks you need to take are ranks in Armsman.
You should be at level 50 once the build is completed.
Inquisitor’s Blade (Elven Dagger with Absorb Health/Magicka)
Circlet of the Justiciar (Copper and Onyx Circlet with Destruction/Illusion)
Aldmeri Amulet (Gold Diamond Necklace with Illusion/Alteration)
Thalmor Robes (Pre-enchanted with 12% Fortify Destruction)
Thalmor Gloves (Magicka/Carry Weight)
Ring of the Dominion (Gold Diamond Ring with Alteration/Destruction)
Thalmor Boots (Resist Fire/Shock)
In addition to the Inquisitor's Blade, I advise keeping a second dagger around enchanted with Soul Trap for capturing souls in the Black Star.
You can actually grab an Elven Dagger shortly after escaping Helgen. At Journeyman’s Nook, you can find Borvir’s Dagger sitting next to his corpse, which is identical to an Elven Dagger in all but name and gold value.
Even better, you can actually get a set of Thalmor gear immediately after completing Unbound. After leaving the cave you escaped out of, follow the path until you hit a sign, then take a left and follow that path until you see a dirt trail going up a small hill. At the end of the trail will be a Shrine of Talos with a dead Thalmor agent nearby. Sadly, he has the hooded variant of the robes, which prevent any headgear from being worn and are thus not the optimal choice for the Justiciar. Luckily, Ancano has the unhooded variant, though it’s unfortunately stuck with the same terrible enchantment as the hooded ones.
Unless you raid the Thalmor Embassy (which is obviously roleplay-unfriendly), Thalmor Boots/Gloves for you to enchant are going to be hard to come by, though you should be able to get at least one pair each from Ancano, Estormo (the Thalmor agent who attacks you shortly after obtaining the Staff of Magnus) and the aforementioned dead Thalmor agent. Nevertheless, be careful not to enchant too many pairs early on, or else by the time you get Extra Effect, you won’t have any to enchant.
You might’ve noticed that the Justiciar doesn’t use Restoration or Alchemy for healing; that’s why the absorb health enchantment is essential. Easiest way to get it early on is by diving into Folgunthur for the Gauldur Blackblade. Using Slow Time will allow you to easily dodge your opponent’s attacks while you slash them to bits with your dagger, regaining health (and eventually magicka) with every strike. Of course, generic bought/found healing potions can be also used for healing.
Despite the large Thalmor presence in Skyrim, there’s really only one quest you can do to aid them and that is Search and Seizure (taking Ogmund’s Amulet to Ondolemar). Needless to say, you’ll want to do that as soon as possible. If you have the Dragonborn DLC though, you also have the option of completing A New Source of Stalhrim in Ancarion’s favor by convincing him to give you the map in exchange for selling him Stalhrim equipment. If you do so, you won’t be able to forge the stuff yourself, you should sell any you come across to him.
This goes without saying, but as a Thalmor Justiciar, you’ll want to act as rude and condescending as possible to others in conversation, while simultaneously making yourself and the Thalmor as a whole out to be the greatest thing to ever happen to Skyrim.
This also goes without saying, but you hate Talos. Never wear His amulet nor pray at His shrines.
Every badass Thalmor agent needs a badass player home, right? Wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of headquarters for the Thalmor that the Justiciar could use? Well, there totally is! Perhaps it’s because this is where the Thalmor conducted their operations in Skyrim before moving into the embassy, but for whatever reason, the Thalmor Headquarters in Solitude is completely abandoned and available for your use. Until you complete Search and Seizure, entering the place is considered trespassing (though nobody’s around to bust you for it), so you may want to complete that quest first.
While you can’t arrest Talos worshippers yourself, you can always kill them. Should any NPC make reference to revering the Ninth Divine, kill them as soon as you get the chance to do so discretely (assuming said NPC is not marked as essential). If you are caught in the act, then eliminate the witnesses as well. Some notable targets include Heimskr in Whiterun as well as Lortheim and Jora, the husband and wife pair that run the Temple of Talos in Windhelm. Ogmund’s another good choice too (Ondolemar said he’d take care of that, but why not make things easier for him?).
As mentioned earlier, the Main Quest isn’t very good for Thalmor roleplay. Aside from having you fight against them, it also requires you to work with the Blades. Complete the questline up to The Way of the Voice (so you can unlock shouts and start the Dragonborn questline if you have the DLC), but go no further. Still, it's rather ironic that the Dragonborn of Nordic legend is a Thalmor agent, isn't it?
While your Thalmor attire is perfectly acceptable in most situations, it may provoke certain… unwanted reactions from some individuals. Wear ordinary civilian clothes when in Stormcloak-affiliated regions.
Ondolemar is your immediate superior, as he leads the Justiciars. He has passed down to you orders from First Emissary Elenwen and Third Emissary Rulindil regarding how to deal with the various factions in Skyrim. They are as follows:
College of Winterhold: Ancano is suspected of being a member of a Thalmor Splinter Faction (I’m not making this up; that’s the faction he’s listed as being a member of on UESP) attempting to find a way to “unmake the world” in order to return it to Aetherius. You are to join the college as a student, and if Ancano shows any signs of going rogue, eliminate him. Furthermore, other members of this splinter faction may attack you on the road, so kill them as necessary.
Civil War: As far as the Thalmor are concerned, the ideal outcome of the civil war would be none at all; the continual bloodletting on both sides weakens them while the Thalmor grow ever stronger. As such, you should ignore both the Imperials and the Stormcloaks. Since this will lock you out of Korvanjund, use the dungeon backdoor glitch to get the word for Slow Time located there.
Dark Brotherhood: You have been instructed to join this shadowy organization and direct their efforts towards high-value Imperial targets such as Vittoria Vici, the Penitus Oculatus, and the Emperor himself. Usage of the Invisibility and Muffle spells compensates for the lack of Sneak.
Thieves Guild: Once the most impressive group of organized crime in Skyrim, they have been reduced to little more than a band of cutthroats living under the streets of Riften. Turn their fortunes around, and use them as a base to systematically weaken Skyrim through theft and larceny.
Companions: What business does a Thalmor Justiciar have with a group of Nordic warriors? Absolutely none. Leave them be.
Dawnguard: The Thalmor, like most people, aren’t terribly thrilled with the idea of vampires blotting out the sun, to put it lightly. Destroy Harkon and the Volkihar.
Dragonborn: The Thalmor have received word of a being known as Miraak attempting to take over Solstheim. Stop him before his ambitions spread to the mainland.
Beyond these, you are instructed to do whatever you can to undermine Imperial (and where applicable, Stormcloak) rule in Skyrim, For example, you can free Madanach to spread chaos throughout the Reach.
While there are a number of Thalmor mods out there, I recommend the following for enhancing your playthrough of the Thalmor Justiciar.
Alternate Start - Life Another Life: For Altmer characters, this mod offers the option to start as a Thalmor Justiciar. You’ll start in the Thalmor Embassy, where you can store your things (since it doesn’t respawn), and you’ll also be considered a member of the Thalmor faction, which means that you can take whatever you want from the Embassy and use any of the beds inside. This makes the Thalmor Embassy an excellent alternative to the Thalmor Headquarters for your player home. Note that if you go to Helgen (thereby starting the main quest) after choosing this start, you’ll automatically be removed from the faction and barred from the Embassy (until the relevant point in the main quest, anyway). As such, I recommend avoiding the main quest altogether and either use console commands to add the dragon souls necessary to unlock the shouts that this build uses or a mod like Immediate Dragons to get dragon souls the old fashioned way. Alternatively, you can skip using shouts if you don't like the idea of using them without being recognized as Dragonborn.
Thalmorized Thalmor Headquarters: Makes the Thalmor Headquarters actually look the part, simple as that. Cutting Room Floor implements basically the same changes among all of the other things it addresses so if you use that then feel free to skip this mod.
Thalmor Dossier: A simple little mod, this inserts a book into the game which contains a set of dossiers on NPCs that you should take out (e.g. Heimskr). As some of them are marked as essential, you’ll need to remove their essential status by using either console commands or mods.
aMidianBorn Elven Armor: A standalone version of the Elven Armor retexture from aMidianBorn Book of Silence (so you don’t need to download this if you have Book of Silence installed), this gives you two high resolution Elven Armor retextures to choose from, one of which gives the armor the same color scheme as the Thalmor Robes (black with gold highlights). I recommended paring this mod with Elven Weapons for aMidianBorn, which applies the same color scheme to Elven weapons.
Thalmor Only Use Elven Weapons and Armor: In the vanilla game, the Thalmor use steel weapons at lower levels despite elven weapons being the logical option for them. This mod fixes that. There’s also an option to keep them from using glass weapons and armor as well (in the vanilla game, they upgrade to that once you get to a high enough level).
Separated Thalmor Hood and Unenchanted Thalmor Robes: Gives you a Thalmor Hood separate from the Thalmor Robes (so you can have a hood to go with your robes while still having a head slot for enchanting) and removes that shitty enchantment from the (unhooded) Thalmor Robes. Combined with the Unofficial Patch (which enables the fortify one-handed enchantment to work with daggers), you can seriously revamp the Justiciar’s enchantment selection. You’ll need to add the hood yourself to your inventory; just use the following console command to find the item’s ID: help “Thalmor Hood”
Ondolemar as a Follower: I've never used this mod, but for those of you who are looking for a good follower for this build, this mod lets you take Ondolemar with you after you complete his quest. This mod requires More Follower Voices to work and the author recommends using Follower Commentary Overhaul as well. This mod also works nicely with any follower system overhauls such as Amazing Follower Tweaks (the one I use).
After playing as three separate Thalmor haters, it was certainly interesting to play one of them. I would like to not thank everyone who has posted Ancano erotica on the internet and made the search for build artwork a much less pleasant experience. If you liked this, then be sure to check out my other builds to see more!