You were a traveler crossing the border into Skyrim when you were caught in an Imperial ambush. Mistaken for a Stormcloak, you were captured and sent to Helgen to be executed when a dragon attacked. In the confusion, you managed to escape and make your way to Riverwood, which set into motion a series of events culminating in the discovery that you are Dragonborn. This led a woman named Delphine to seek you out. She was a member of the Blades, an organization that served the Empire long ago. Together, the two of you will resurrect the Blades into a fighting force that will save Skyrim from the wrath of the dragons…
Race: Orc is my preferred choice. They get plenty of relevant skill boosts (+10 Heavy Armor, +5 One-Handed, Block, and Smithing) and Berserker Rage is simply too good a power to pass up on. That being said, Imperials also get nice boosts (+10 Restoration, +5 One-Handed, Block, and Heavy Armor) and some people just have to have their Blades be Imperials, so if that’s your cup of tea, then go for it.
Stone: I went with the Atronach for a couple of reasons. First, the 50% Spell Absorption is the only magical defense this build gets. Secondly, the extra 50 Magicka means that we’ll never have to invest in Magicka on levelups, so we can get more Health and Stamina. This build also takes both levels of Recovery, so that cancels out -50% Magicka Regeneration.
Stats: 0/2/1. If you take the Atronach Stone, you won’t need any additional Magicka.
Equipment: For weapons, the Blades Sword is sufficient for most situations, though you’ll obviously want to use Dragonbane against the giant flying lizards. Here is the link to the article on Dragonbane, so you can decide which level you want to pick it up at. You might also want to pick up Bolar’s Oathblade; I didn’t bother too much with it, but as a Blades Sword variant, it’s worth noting. Rounding out the rest of the equipment is the Blades Armor set, an Amulet of Talos, and a Ring of Wielding.
Shouts: I only bothered with a few basic ones: Become Ethereal to safely close in on distant enemies, Unrelenting Force (with meditation, be sure to do that before killing Paarthurnax) for crowd control, and Elemental Fury to swing the Blades Sword faster. I also used Marked For Death a lot against dragons; it makes their AR deplete while they’re flying around, so by the time they land, it’ll be significantly easier to take them out. Of course, once you get far enough into the Main Quest, you can use Dragonrend to ground them right from the get-go.
One-Handed: What’s a Blade without any skill in using one? The primary perks you need here are Armsman and the power attack perks. Later on you can grab Bladesman as well.
Block: Sword and shield is the signature fighting style of the Blades, and skillful usage of Block will save you against many a foe, dragon or otherwise. The left side of the tree is important here, so work your way up through there to Shield Charge and also grab Quick Reflexes. Later on you can grab the bash perks on the right side and additional ranks in Shield Wall.
Heavy Armor: The plates of their signature armor protect the Blade from lethal blows. Initially, focus on getting ranks in Juggernaut and Well Fitted. Later on you can grab Conditioning and the remainder of the right side of the tree.
Smithing: It’s not enough for a Blade to be able to fight well with their weapons and armor; they must also know how to improve and maintain them. The perks you’ll want to grab here are Steel Smithing (for doubling the improvement on your weapons), Dwarven Smithing (to make leveling the skill easier), and Arcane Blacksmith (for tempering your enchanted equipment).
Restoration: Even the best of Blades can receive heavy injuries in combat, necessitating some manner of healing to fall back on. Initially, just grab Novice/Apprentice Restoration, Respite, and Regneration. Later on, you can grab both ranks of Recovery and Avoid Death.
Sneak: Past experiences have required that the Blades develop their skills as infiltrators. Max out Stealth and grab Backstab as well. I used the save>punch>reload method to keep resetting Balimund’s (owner of the Scorched Hammer in Riften) inventory until I got some Boots of Muffling (best level to do this at is level 11) to disenchant and then apply to my own boots, negating the need for the Muffled Movement and Silence perks. Note that the Block Runner perk lets you sneak around at walking speed when your shield is raised.
Speech: The Blades maintain a network of informants, but sometimes it is necessary to be a little… persuasive with the more uncooperative ones. For roleplay reasons, you’ll want to perk your way up the right side of the tree. I also recommend grabbing Merchant to make selling off loot easier. Even the prerequisite rank in Haggling and Allure help out for buying soul gems for recharging Dragonbane (as well as Bolar’s Oathblade if you happen to be using it).
You should be at level 60 once the build is completed.
As you might expect, the Main Questline is of the utmost importance. Aside from granting you access to most of the Blades stuff, stopping Alduin will be more important than anything else you do in Skyrim. Speaking of which, this goes without saying, but you should do all the quests pertaining to the Blades: Rebuilding The Blades, Dragon Hunting (do this one at least once), Dragon Research, and Paarthurnax. Aside from dragons, the biggest enemies of the Blades are the Thalmor, so you should kill them on sight. For this reason you should do Missing In Action, since it lets you strike back at them. The Blades revere Talos, so receive His blessing whenever you pass by one of His shrines. Also receive the Dragonslayer’s Blessing from Esbern whenever you’re in Sky Haven Temple. Finally, you are a (generally) lawful good character, so no running around senselessly committing crimes.
As far as picking followers to induct into the Blades goes, I’d go with ones who are of the CombatWarrior1H class. Their primary skills (One-Handed, Block, Heavy Armor, and Archery) enable them to use the Blades Equipment effectively, and Archery lets them hit dragons in midair. My personal picks were Vorstag, Cosnach, and Uthgerd the Unbroken, as they’re all easy to get followers of that class. Be sure to take any items in their inventory from them before inducting them, so they’ll use their Blades equipment in battle. As a side note, all Housecarls (with the exception of Valdimar) are of the CombatWarrior1H class, so they make good blades as well. Regardless, I was strong enough to not need a follower, so I avoided using them aside from the occasional dragon hunt.
As a side note, you may want to pick a side in the Civil War; either support the Empire and stability, the Stormcloaks and free Talos worship, or simply abstain from the conflict altogether, your choice. Dawnguard, Dragonborn, and the Companions are also good questlines to pursue. First and foremost, however, you should be hunting down dragons. Make every effort to kill them whenever you encounter them. For easy ways of finding more, you can repeat the Dragon Hunting quest, seek out Dragon Lairs such as Shearpoint or Dragontooth Crater (especially if you have a bounty on the resident dragon), or (should you happen to be Harbinger of the Companions) do the Dragon Seekers quest. For the exceptionally determined hunter, UESP has a list of named dragons for you to seek out. Skuldafn also has no less than four dragons (two that attack you on sight and two nonaggressive ones perched up on the ledges near the portal) for you to kill, so take them all out while you’re there.
The Blade has some pretty solid defenses. A large investment into the Block and Heavy Armor skills, combined with well-smithed armor and plenty of health make the Blade pleasantly durable, and, as a nice bonus, very stagger-resistant due to Force Without Effort (the active effect given by meditating on Unrelenting Force) and Tower of Strength. Offensively, the Blades Sword actually packs a pretty powerful punch once tempered, and both Elemental Fury and a Ring of Wielding will boost its power further. To top things off, decent Restoration skill will ensure that you’ll outlast your opponents.
For combat, start things off by using the aforementioned Block Runner trick to sneak up on your opponents and sneak attack them. If that’s not a viable option, you can charge into the thick of things via Become Ethereal or by simply running in. Once you get Block Runner you should do this with your shield raised (should you chose the latter method), and you can knock over a few enemies this way one you get Shield Charge as well. In any case, once the enemies are in melee range, use Elemental Fury and start hacking away. With the shield, use bashes to interrupt enemy power attacks and stagger opponents, while blocking liberally against stronger opponents. Against large groups, blow some of them away with Unrelenting Force, knock them down with Shield Charge, or (if playing as an Orc) use Berserker Rage to even the odds.