Character Build: The Crusader

I don't know how you people do it, but somehow I've been convinced into ordering another copy of Skyrim. And with my final exams nearly out of the way, while I wait for Skyrim to arrive, I thought it would only be right for me to repost my first build, the Crusader, to get me hyped up for my first playthrough with mods. I've also given it a bit of an update so hopefully some things are clearer!

Also, I thought I'd try something a bit new when it comes to presenting my builds. At the start I'm going to add a few key points about the build, its 'unique selling points' if you will. Hopefully this will let people know immediately whether it's something they're interested in or not. So here goes:

Divine Blessings: The original idea of the Crusader was a twist on the classic archetype that used potions and poisons to simulate blessings of the Nine Divines rather than using the typical restoration magic. So it's one for the alchemists out there who don't mind a cluttered favourites menu.

Total Control: Illusion allows for expert control over the battlefield, from routing enemies to buffing allies. The Crusader can seemlessly transition from mounted combat, to ranged attacks, to diving headfirst into the fray, all without switching weapons, granting unprecedented command of the battlefield.

Party Leader: Another key factor of the Crusader is the focus on having a party so you can both lead the charge or hang back and let them do the work. With Illusion and buffing poisons, the Crusader can create a surprisingly tanky party that can handle long dungeon crawls or extended open warfare.

Honour. Justice. Mercy...

The mantra of a Crusader, instruments of the Divines themselves. Holy warriors, capable of channelling the Divines' power to aid their ventures and bringing about the salvation of mankind. Eradicators of evil, destroyers of wrongdoing, enders of sins...

When Tamriel needs a hero, the Divines send the Crusaders. They will show the people that their gods have not forsaken them, and provide hope for the downtrodden, freedom for the chained, redemption for those who repent and abandon their evil ways. Those who ally themselves with darkness are no match for a Crusader's might, and will quickly feel the cleansing wrath of the Divines, brought on by their radiant champions... 


Race: Redguard

Stone: Atronach

Shouts: Become Ethereal, Dragon Aspect, Fire Breath

Stats: 0:4:1

Major Skills: Two Handed, Illusion, Alchemy, Destruction

Minor Skills: Heavy Armour, Smithing, Block

Weapons: Dawnguard Rune Hammer

Apparel: Steel Plate Armour, Locket of Saint Jiub, Ring of Peerless Magicka

Passives: Seeker of Shadows, Companion's Insight, Dragonborn Flame, The Fire Within, Sinderion's Serendipity

Recommended Quests: Dawnguard, Dragonborn, Main Questline, Impatience of a Saint, Lost Relic, Take up Arms, Coming of Age, Missing in Action, Return to your Roots

At its core, the Crusader is a knight who utilises Illusion, Destruction, Alchemy and followers to buff their offence. Capable of drawing power from the Divines themselves through blessings (which are represented by potions), a Crusader can decimate their enemies with ease, knowing they are backed by the gods themselves.

The Crusader's weapon of choice is none other than the Dawnguard Rune Hammer, a heavily underrated weapon with a variety of uses. No longer will you need to grind Destruction through training or switching out weapons mid-combat, as the runes casted by your hammer bashes will level it for you! This reduces the need for Magicka, as runes are some of the most cost-intensive spells. Instead your limited Magicka reserve can be concentrated on Flame Cloaks before combat and Fire Balls at range.

Illusion is used to control the battlefield, as well as buff followers. Routing foes then sending other frenzied enemies or rallied followers can allow for complete domination of combat, with you acting as the commander. When out of Magicka you can descend on your hapless opponents with followers in tow, or hold back and send forth a barrage of Fire Runes. The wide variety of attacks allow battles to be kept interesting and diverse, with multiple options and combinations for engagement. Defence comes in the form of smithed heavy armour, bolstered by potions as well as Block, making you a true powerhouse against foes.

I've always liked the party leader playstyle in Skyrim, and the Crusader is the perfect build for creating a tanky party. Through the use of 'buffing poisons,' potions with negative effects that allow them to be applied to followers, Crusaders can channel Divine blessings onto their companions. Blessings that can be passed onto followers include poisons that bolster Health, Magicka and elemental resistances, which can be used as you wish depending upon the situation. Obviously they are unnecessary against your average wolf pack, but they can be very handy against large groups of tough opponents. Illusion spells like Courage, Rally and Call to Arms can further increase their health, creating very durable followers, and mounted combat tops it all off, letting you command a small but deadly army from horseback. 



The vast majority of ingredients can be grown in a Greenhouse or Fish Hatchery. The only exception is Garlic, though it is bountiful in certain locations. For finding Garlic in bulk I recommend looting Boulderfall Cave and House Gray-Mane (after completing Missing in Action) every ten days, which will net you with 27 samples. The Thalmor Embassy also has a good stock but you can only go there once, making it a difficult location to far. Houses in Solitude are also worth a look, so consider befriending the citizens if you're running low. Garlic is also found in houses across Skyrim, so don't hesitate to get to know the local population on your adventures.

With a clever combination of equipment and passives you can obtain 100% Fortify Alchemy, doubling the effectiveness of your potions! Be on the lookout for a pair of Gauntlets of Eminent Alchemy from a general store of armourer, as well as a Circlet and Necklace of Peerless Alchemy from Radiant Raiment. Throw in the Ring of Pure Mixtures from a Dungeon Delving quest and you've got 82% Fortify Alchemy. What's really interesting about the Seeker of Shadows passive is that it increases your total Fortify Alchemy by 10%. This includes the 100% from Alchemist 5/5! 10% of 182 is 18, which when added to your 82% Fortify Alchemy (25 + 25 + 20 +12) will give you an additional 100% Fortify Alchemy. All magnitudes listed below will have been created with this combination.

Something I recommend is utilising each Hearthfire house to make three potions each; that way, ingredients can be harvested in bulk at one location, and when needing to restock you know which house makes your desired three potions. The Wisdom and The Winds must be made at Windstad Manor, as these two potions require fish from the hatchery. 


The Dragon - Fortify Destruction 150% + Fortify Health 12pts

Glowing Mushroom + Nightshade + Wheat


The Cycle - Regenerate Health 150% + Regenerate Magicka 150%

Garlic + Jazbay Grapes + Juniper Berries


The Fervor - Weakness to Fire 90% + Weakness to Poison 60%

Bleeding Crown + Deathbell + Juniper Berries


The Wisdom - Damage Stamina Regen 150s + Fortify Magicka 96pts + Restore Magicka 150pts

Creep Cluster + Histcarp + Red Mountain Flower


The Winds - Damage Stamina Regen 150s + Resist Frost 72% + Restore Stamina 150pts

Creep Cluster + Purple Mountain Flower + Silverside Perch


The Love - Damage Magicka Regen 150s + Fortify Health 96pts + Restore Health 150pts

Blue Mountain Flower + Nightshade + Wheat


The Justice - Lingering Damage Health 30pts + Paralysis 30s

Canis Root + Imp Stool + Mora Tapinella


The Hero - Fortify Illusion 120% + Fortify Two Handed 120% + Regenerate Stamina 150% + Resist Fire 90%

Dragon's Tongue + Fly Amanita + Mora Tapinella


The Forge - Frenzy 24pts + Resist Fire 72%

Blisterwort + Fly Amanita + Snowberries.


The Atronach Stone is your immediate priority, as it starts you with a sizeable Magicka pool as well as a useful defence against magic attacks. Since you'll likely be going through Windhelm, you can travel to Solsteim and pick up Teldryn Sero in the Retching Netch with some of the money made from selling potions, giving you a powerful follower straight off the bat who always summons a Flame Atronach with aimbot shooting skills.

As soon as you can you'll want to start amassing a collection of ingredients and become a Thane of Morthal to buy Heljarchen Hall. Money made from potions should be channelled towards house materials, focusing on a Greenhouse for your potion production. By this time you should be a high enough level to start the Dawnguard and acquire the basic warhammer. Making your way through the Dawnguard Questline will eventually allow you to rescue Florentius Baenius, the priest who can give you the Lost Relic quest. Beforehand you'll need to prove yourself to Gunmar and Isran by helping them out, which only makes it more rewarding when you finally hold the Dawnguard Rune Hammer in your own hands.

Ensure you keep your magical skills trained, as they can sometimes lag behind in such a melee heavy playthrough. I've found Courage spells level Illusion rather quickly, and once you start using the Rune Hammer your Destruction will skyrocket. Join the College when normal vendors will no longer stock your spells, and I found completing the Questline to be a worthy venture for the Crusader. The main shout you should prioritise is Become Ethereal, and once you have maxed that then go after Fire Breath. 



305c0_fbd7.png?c=4710&profile=RESIZE_710xShrouded in the Divines' protection, the Crusader can enter a state of invulnerability for a brief period of time, transcending the mortal plane and touching the realm of gods.Your defensive tactic, which should be used whenever you are taking a pounding or need a breather. With increased regeneration of Health and Magicka, Sanctity can become a method of healing in itself.

Requires: The Cycle, Become Ethereal



305c2_b06e.png?c=058c&profile=RESIZE_710xBring the Divines' wrath to bear with the sheer force of destruction that is the Dawnguard Rune Hammer. Sanctity leads perfectly into this combo, allowing you to play offensive while being on the defensive. After priming your foes with weakness to fire and poison, bash around them to summon Fire Runes which will deal a hefty chunk of damage. Try to avoid bashing them directly, as that will break the Ethereal effect.

Requires: Concentrated Poison, The Fervor, The Dragon, Sanctity, Dawnguard Rune Hammer, Rune Master 



305c4_707b.png?c=8d2b&profile=RESIZE_710xA Crusader can reward their followers by blessing them with the Divines' mercy, redeeming them of their sins and strengthening their abilities. One of your strongest abilities on the higher difficulties, Absolution involves buffing your followers with your entire arsenal. Stacking courage spells, buffing poisons, Bardic Knowledge and Battle Fury turns your party into something to behold, allowing you to hang back and fire off runes from afar. Courage effects are boosted with Animage and Kindred Mage.

Requires: The Love, Courage, Rally, Call to Arms, Animage, Kindred Mage, Bardic Knowledge, Battle Fury, Companion's Insight



305c6_f466.png?c=f8d6&profile=RESIZE_710xOnce a day, the Crusader can become the Avatar of Akatosh himself, bringing forth the Dragon-God's might and crushing his foes with ease. Such holy and powerful supremacy must be reserved for the most despicable of foes. Unlimited power attacks doing massive damage against fleeing foes is truly a sight to behold. Enemies will burn as they try to escape you, only to be chased down with endless critical charges.

Requires: The Dragon, The Hero, Flame Cloak. Dragon Aspect, Secret of Strength, Hysteria, Great Critical Charge


Control of the Battlefield

The Crusader specialises in total battlefield control, and there are various ways to approach combat depending on the situation. When outdoors, there are a few options. You can stand back and use Absolution to let your followers do the work, firing off runes from the back while enemies are distracted. Or you can lead the charge on horseback, buffing your companions or throwing out spells while you do so.

Sanctity is a great get-out-of-jail-free card, and can easily be combined with Judgement with a bit of forethought. However, Judgement is perfectly effective without any of the buffs and debuffs, so feel free to use it without popping multiple potions if you're caught off-guard. As for your 'ultimate'/'special moves', Ascendance is great for those bosses at the end of dungeons (in which case you likely won't need Hysteria) or as a good move for engaging a powerful group of enemies. Become Ethereal is great for casting Hysteria if you're getting overwhelmed. I also found Fire Breath to be very useful at later levels. With Augmneted Flames 2/2, The Fire Within and Dragonborn Flame that shout becomes insanely powerful, with Fire Wyrms making helpful temporary allies.

The buffing poisons which affect followers are the Wisdom, the Winds, the Love and the Forge. The Wisdom is a buff for mage followers, the Love for all companions, and the Winds and the Forge are for certain situations where elemental resistance is useful, particularly against dragons. A nice bonus of Companion's Insight is that it takes away the negative effects of your buffing poisons as well as preventing you from hurting them in other ways, so try to get it as soon as possible. The Hero is a great general use potion as it affects many of your combat skills, and it's one that I made use of liberally. The Dragon and The Cycle are somewhat more niche, I mainly saved those for the abilities, and The Justice and The Fervor are simply nice general use poisons.

For followers, I used several during my playthrough. Teldryn was a recurring face, and I used him most frequently, since he can synergise with all of the potions as a spellsword. Durak is great for some ranged offence, and Marcurio and Illia are both good mages. The former specialises in lightning and the latter ice, and both will use adept level spells at later levels. If you choose to spare him, Ralis Sedarys can be an excellent companion with massive damage. Showing mercy or justice to those who repent will become a natural part of this playthrough, and I'd often calm foes who claim to yield (even if that was never their intention). Dawnguard Huskies make great pets at earlier levels but after level 34 the war dog Vigilance outclasses them in health. Armoured Trolls are perfect for dealing damage, and require little healing with their natural regeneration, but are prone to sporadic flights and getting lost.


Closing Notes and Credits

It's good to be back guys. I'll be reposting some more of my builds over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Thanks to the various artists from DeviantArt and Thraen, and CND for the awesome screenshots.

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  • Here it is, the first of hopefully many! Let me know if the formatting looks alright, it's been a while since I've done this.

  • I am so glad to see this classic make its debut on the Sky Forge. 

  • Dis good. I like.

  • I am so thrilled to see this build once again. It’s good to have you back Raid. 

  • I’ve been looking for a good crusader build to follow up my play through of the knight cleric, and this build is just as brilliant! Kudos to you sir.

  • Thanks guys! I'll get around to posting more soon, anything anyone wants in particular? I've got something of an order in mind but if anybody is looking for a specific build of mine I'll happily prioritise that.

  • I could die happy if you posted the Fiend. She’s right alongside the Night Reaver and Undying for most satisfying vampire play throughs ever. 

    • Looks like I'll be posting the Fiend next! I'll see what I can do this weekend...

      • I’m quite fond of the white walker and the prowler. Dunno if you check out the site YouTube channel yet, but I’m going to shoot some gameplay footage of your crusader in the very near future. 

        I’ve always loved this build as it, along with Henson’s zealot, was one of the primary inspirations for my knight cleric build. 

        • Yeah I subbed to the channel a few days ago! And I look forward to this footage!

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