Character Build: The Knight Cleric

Good day and welcome to my first addition to this awesome shiny new site of ours. This build came about from my desire to build a dedicated support character in Skyrim. Drawing much inspiration from the Templar Knights of the Dragon Age series, I sought to create the perfect mix of defender, crusader, and supporter fighting styles. It is my pleasure to share with you all a labor of love that has been in the works for nearly a year. Without further delay allow me to introduce....



"Walk always in the light....or perish"

Steadfast, relemtless, unshakable in their convictions. Knight Clerics are formed out of the brave few who heed the call of the Divines during times of chaos, rallying the armies of man and mer to face the darkness. Faithful to the point of zealotry, these holy knights follow without question the will of the Divines to the letter, and if necessary to the death....


Race: Breton. Bretons come with a 25% resistance to magic from the start meaning we wont be needing to grind alteration to get the magic defense this build needs. Dragonskin is a key component of a rather useful special combo we’ll discuss in detail later on

Stone: Lord. The Lord Stone combined with the Bretons natural magic resist and the agent of Dibella buff grants a total of 65% magic resist. The additional 50 armor is useful as we will not be smithing armor at all.

Stat Distribution: 1 Magicka, 2 Health, 0 Stamina. Plenty of health will be required to effectively tank enemy blows. Blocking does no good if chip damage kills you anyhow. Investment into magicka is not as important as health since we have the means of replenishing it. We need not invest in stamina because we have the respite perk. Refraining from investing into stamina keeps things balanced and challenging. 

Major Skills: Block, Restoration, Enchanting, Illusion

Minor Skills: One Handed, Heavy Armor

Armor: Heavy Dawngard Armor (White), Dawnguard Heavy Gauntlets & Boots, Ebony Shield, Circlet

Weapon: Silver Sword

Spells: Grand Healing, Close Wounds, Stendarr's Aura, Circle of Protection, Courage, Rally

Shouts: Drain Vitality (glitched version learned alongside MFD), Become Ethereal

Powers: Agent of Mara, Companion’s Insight, Force without Effort, Secret of Protection, Dragonskin

Blessing: Blessing of Arkay

The Build

The knight cleric is a fluid mix of crusader, defender, and supporter fighting tactics. The knight cleric's role is primarily that of a tank, taking the brunt of the enemies’ attacks so a follower may attack with impunity. The knight cleric is also responsible for keeping allies alive and buffed. Against the undead or mages, the knight cleric takes on a more offensive role, dealing increased damage against the undead and rendering enemy mages all but useless.

The knight cleric is heavily inspired by the templar knights of Dragon Age. The ability to resist magic as well as suppress that of others is translated smoothly into this build. The lyrium dependency of the templars is translated into Skyrim as the constant need for soul gems to power the enchantment that allows the knight cleric to suppress magic. Siphoning magicka away from the enemy ensures allies take minimal damage from magicka while ensuring a plentiful supply of magicka for support spells. 

A much different approach to tanking is taken with this build. Heavy investment into Armor, Smithing, and flesh spells are traded in favor of skillful use of a strong shield. Skill will be required to keep enemies from attacking your exposed flank, but players skilled with the shield will enjoy the same, if not greater damage mitigation than a traditional tank touching the armor cap. Coupled with an impressive repertoire of healing spells, the knight cleric is a difficult adversary to take down. 

Weapons and Armor

The overall aesthetics of this armor set is quite nice. The white armor and circlet give the set a very clerical and knightly feel. The ebony shield, though seemingly an odd choice, matches very well with this set. The set is also very easy to get. The focus with enchantments is on improving melee damage to make up for the lack of smithing as well as fortifying health and magicka further. The enchantment on the shield allows for maximum damage mitigation of any successfully blocked attack. For best results follow the enchantment guidelines below. 

  • Dawnguard Heavy Armor - Fortify Health
  • Dawnguard Gauntlets/Boots - Fortify One-Handed
  • Pendant/Ring - Fortify One-handed
  • Circlet - Fortify Magicka

The above items are quite easy to come across. You'll have everything you need minus the Ebony Shield as soon as you recruit Gunmar and Sorine back into the Dawnguard. Aside from getting into the right gear early (and who doesnt like that), the above gear is easy to repurchase and re-enchant as your enchanting skills improve. 

Tranquility - Silver sword enchanted w/ Absorb Magicka

This somewhat underrated weapon comes with a permanent enchantment that a flat 20 points of extra damage against the undead. When Necromage is thrown in the mix that damage is upped to an impressive 25 points. The best think about this weapon is that it can be enchanted further and thats where Absorb Magicka comes in. You're getting two enchantments in one weapon without the hassle of craft grinding to get the extra effect perk. 

*If you choose to perk all the way up to Extra Effect in the Enchanting tree I highly recommend pairing Absorb Magicka with Damage Magicka to rid enemy mages of their magic even faster. 

Divine Tower - Ebony Shield enchanted w/ Fortify Block

The shield is as much a weapon as the sword. The Ebony Shield becomes available in shops around level 25. As an ebony armor piece it offers very good base protection. With all enchanting perks this build calls for acquired, the fortify block enchantment will come out to about to just under 40%. Coupled with the Shield Wall perks, the damage mitigation cap for shields is reachable. There's more. The 50% elemental protection offered by the Elemental Aegis perk stacks with the knight clerics high magic resistance, negating magic damage almost entirely when a spell is successfully blocked.  

Perk Placement 

903643?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024 "Divine intervention comes not at the hands of the Gods, but at the hands of those who answer their call, take up the sword, and intervene on their behalf"

Level wise the knight cleric is a very manageable build, whether you prefer to level naturally or power level. As a support character your life will be made much easier by picking up a follower as soon as you can. Lydia makes a good early follower (I can hear you all groaning already) until you find someone stronger. Plow through the Dawnguard quest-line up until you've recruited Sorine and Gunmar to gain access to better followers and gear. 

Block is easily your most vital skill tree. Much of your survivability is derived from here. If you're the impatient type, block can be leveled incredibly fast by taking advantage of giants. Remember, Block does more than brush off damage. Bashes are as much a part of your offensive game plan as a well placed strike from your sword. Take advantage of the various disrupting effects available to deny your enemy chances to attack. 

Restoration goes hand in hand with block making the knight cleric a very tough tank to take down. The Respite perk obviates the need for stamina investment. At 100 stamina even the weakest healing spells will fully restore stamina. It only takes a sliver of stamina to bash or shield charge. You'll be using healing spells constantly, so expect Restoration to level up pretty fast. 

Enchanting covers most of your offensive boosts and like many of your other skills is designed to level naturally. The seldom used Soul Squeezer and Soul Siphon perks are prized perks in this build. Soul Squeezer will give much more bang for your buck from low tier soul gems, allowing you to recharge much more of your weapons energy. This enables you to save higher tier soul gems for item crafting. The charge from a simple lesser soul gem rivals that of a grand soul gem with this perk. Soul Siphon will restore a small portion of your charge every time you score a death blow against a creature. 

Illusion is capped at Adept Illusion since the highest level courage spell aside from Call to Arms is an adept level spell. There is no fool proof way to draw enemy aggression to the player rather than the follower, so courage spells become an important means of keeping your follower alive should things go wrong. 

A few points are taken in the Juggernaut perk of Heavy Armor to supplement your defenses, but don't get cocky. Fail to use that shield and you're gonna be hurting. 40 Levels of Heavy Armor is easy to gain either through training or over the course of your adventure. Armsman is maxed out in the One Handed tree to offer an extra boost to damage. With all relevant perks and enchantments you're looking at roughly 55 or so damage. Enough to hold your own should the worst come to pass, but not enough to eliminate the need for a follower. 



Shield Mastery: V2H7KtjlfN4LDNLBCp7mV2Jpsk4jUz6UA8cVfjfbDWXsxlfeLAJYLAVKw7KQ1g0F2kKYvm9C-Zg5TD7xU805yVS5QhGIBZET2rc_XoJXWGd6WJ8r7VB1qEJXzKaIePKdE2yh8j0?width=134

The knight-cleric’s shield is an impenetrable fortress of protection. When blocking, all frontal attacks deal 85% less physical damage and 50% less elemental damage. Arrows that hit the shield are deflected and deal no damage.

requires: Divine Tower, Shield Wall 5/5, Elemental Aegis perk, Deflect Arrows perk

The knight cleric’s defenses are very direction oriented. With that said, the knight cleric possesses nigh impenetrable frontal defenses but must be wary of flank attacks at all times. Anything not blocked is going to deal significantly more damage. This form of tanking requires constant vigilance of enemy positions as you'll take considerably more damage from attacks you fail to block.



14720357?profile=originalSpell Purge:

Knight-clerics do not simply resist magic, they outright deny it, and deny others the ability to use it. Every successful strike depletes and suppresses enemy magic. Once drained of magic, enemies are unable to regenerate more.

requires: Tranquility, Drain Vitality 

The knight cleric is able to render enemy mages useless by damaging and saping their magicka and preventing them from regenerating more. This skill even works against dragons whose powerful breathe attacks are tied to a 150 point magicka pool. Purge helps keep the knight cleric’s magicka full so healing spells and buffs are never in short supply.



vO6GlfMJlV4kLecSWk3tFvNlZdaeeSNhfSgJhmUGmpElZiSbWzAfXAh-6OPZuzczBMsLMziOHWYPx01YSvrGvoRWaOZ1_jx5rY6_RWNkXmMrszZjrbgEaDuI9Q81r1PTu0OjF_4?width=134Cleanse Evil:

Imbued with divine power, the undead can hardly stand in the presence of the knight-cleric let alone withstand the might of her attacks. Cleanse Evil deals sun damage over time, and increases the damage dealt with basic attacks against the undead.The effectiveness of Spell Purge against the undead is also passively increased

requires: Tranquility, Stendarrs Aura, Necromage

The knight cleric becomes an offensive force when fighting the undead. Tranquility does an additional 20 damage against the undead. Stendarr’s Aura deals 10 sun damage per second. Necromage will increase the magnitude of both by 25% resulting in 25 damage per strike and 12 sun damage per second. 


iqLrXbsOUzwkW5ZV7YzkgmJEmd6kqzqwBm3AtvUsQqugKA-l01FKtQv7hqUQHcXycIrzxMfZ-lUh4DHeBY_-yZHM-BdxMnDvDI8CfiK4lzgBfRTtQ7_6gxVIP22xnhAmHFkKjy8?width=134Divine Blessing:

Through righteous fervor your allies are inspired to fight harder than ever. Allies will not run from the enemy and gain increased health, stamina, and weapon damage,

requires: Scroll of Call to Arms, Rally, Courage

All courage spells stack, making any ally far stronger than they normally are. This skill is far more useful when used on a warrior or rogue, but mages can still enjoy the increased survivability granted by the increased health. Purge makes it very easy to always have magicka on hand to use this combo. Rally and Courage alone will suffice in most situations. The full combo should be reserved for tough battles and bosses.




Invoking the power of the Divines, the knight cleric sanctifies a space on the battlefield. While standing in this space, the knight-cleric regenerates health, as well as magicka at a phenomenal rate. Outside this space, the knight cleric still enjoys 50% damage resistance and 50% spell absorption. Undead that fail to resist are turned.

requires: Become Ethereal (optional), Scroll of Guardian Circle, Secret of Protection, Dragonskin

Guardian Circle, when combined with respite and dragon skin creates a space on the battlefield that will restore health and magicka, as well as grant substantial physical and magical protection. The constant flow of healing and the improved protection grants you ample opportunity to turn the tide. This is best saved for bosses or a massive number of enemies. This is particularly useful against the undead.




Notes on Followers

A key aspect of this build is going to be followers. The knight cleric is designed to work well with just about anyone leaving much room to tailor your follower as you please.

Melee followers tend to lack the means to deal damage to groups but more than make up for it with good single target damage. There are many routes you can when considering what enchantments to bestow on their weapons. I personally prefer elemental damage. Frost damage will help deplete enemy stamina reserves. Even more useful is shock damage which will help deplete magicka. Dual wielders are especially powerful, able to tear through enemies with enchanted weapons. Frea of the Skaal is perhaps the strongest of such characters and is my go-to follower. 

The most useful mages are the ones with AOE spells and conjurations. Ice Storm and chain lightning are among my favorite AOE spells.  Conjuration spells bring an additional ally into the mix to keep enemies occupied. I find frost atronachs to be the most useful summon. Its a big target but a sturdy one, and its heavy attacks will keep multiple enemies staggered. If pure mages aren't your think, but you still want a little magic in your life, you can try outfitting a swordsman with a staff in his off hand. The staff of ice storms or chain lightning are your best bet there.

Keeping Everyone Alive

It all comes down to keeping enemies focused on you. Keep ahead of your follower. You want to be the first thing enemies come into contact with. Keeping enemies focused on you allows your follower to attack with impunity. 

Keep in mind theres no fool proof mechanism to aggro enemies. Sometimes a stray opponent will doggedly pursue your follower. A shield charge will knock the enemy off his feet, forcing him to get up and find a new target. Shield charging is also useful if you need to buy a few seconds to heal or apply a buff. Consider Disarming Bash a means of de-buffing your enemy's attack power. When up against a powerful attacker disarm him and confiscate his weapon. He'll be much less of a threat to you and your follower. 

When working with a mage you'll want to keep the fighting a good distance away from them at all times. Try to keep enemies clustered together so your mage can kill them off with AOE spells. With melee followers you want to keep the enemies' backs turned to them at all times. Enemies almost never turn around to engage someone attacking their flank if theyre already focused on another target. Regardless of who you're with, you want to cast Divine Blessing on them before every battle to boost their stats. Grand Healing will be your go to healing spell should your follower find himself on the wrong end of a beating. Whats so awesome about this spell is it heals you as well as your follower. Sanctuary is a potent desperation technique that allows for much breathing room should things start getting dicey. 

Taking the Fight to the Enemy

Against living enemies you'll be playing very defensively. This is where Shield Mastery comes in. Keep enemies from flanking you and you'll absorb what they throw at you just fine. The Drain Vitality shout is a great way to stagger enemies at range and has a very short cool down. I find that its helpful to stay ahead of your follower and hit as many enemies as possible with it. If you're the closest to the enemy and that shouts the first thing to hit them, that usually draws most of the aggro to you. Against the undead you can be much more aggressive thanks to Cleanse Evil. Against mages you'll be using Spell Purge to render them useless. Both abilities can be used simultaneously which is excellent considering vampires typically use magic. 

Dragon breathe attacks are tied to a 150 point magicka pool. Hit them with Spell Purge as soon as they land and save everyone the grief of being blasted by fire. In no time you'll render the beast useless at range. He'll be forced to land and attack you up close. Shield Mastery is a strong enough defense to mitigate the damage from their bite, even from an elder dragon! Enjoy an epic close encounter with the dragon and keep the pressure up with Spell Purge to keep the beast from breathing. 


Quests & Roleplay

Strictly speaking Knight Clerics are Lawfully Good. They are staunch enforcers of law and order who abhor evil in all its forms. They act as instruments of the Divines, restoring order where none can be found, though their methods are often extreme. Tamriel's history is a litany of chaos and darkness run rampant. Throughout the ages evil has arisen many times only to be driven back by the Divines' faithful enforcers and their allies. 

A crusader set on restoring order has always been an appealing roleplay angle for me. There's no shortage of evil that will plunge Skyrim, and perhaps all of Tamriel, into chaos if left unchecked, making a wide variety of quests easy to justify doing. 

The main quest as well as the Dawnguard and Dragonborne questlines are perfect for the knight cleric to take on. Each one culminates in an epic battle against a great force of evil. Perhaps the best part about these quests are the friends you will encounter along the way who will aid you. There personalities add much your adventure. Hell, I even liked adventuring with Lydia. Serana makes for a very interesting follower, given how odd the pairing of holy knight and vampire is. I roleplayed a strong distrust in her up until the tail end of the Dawnguard questline.

The Civil War puts your religious convictions to the test as there is no middle ground; You support either a pantheon made up of 8 gods or 9.  A knight cleric who supports the notion of 8 Divines, and only the 8, will see Talos worshipers as heretics that must be dealt with. Naturally this will lead to siding with the Empire if only to route out these heretics.

Daedric quests are interesting to try justifying. I avoided quests where it was impossible to defy the princes. The Divines are no friend to the princes, and so neither are you. Nothing good can come of Daedric artifacts, so hide them well or destroy them lest they fall into the hands of someone more easily corrupted.

Roleplaying the knight cleric is a matter of being unshakable in your beliefs and faithful to the will of the gods no matter the consequence. Heretics, necromancers, the undead, and any practitioners of the dark arts are part of a long list of people that must be killed with extreme prejudice. Anyone that gets in the way of divine justice will be dealt with all the same - that includes the guards that take offense to you slaughtering vampires disguised as citizens in their city. You are above the law. You answer to the Divines and the Divines alone. 


Recommended Mods

Dawn of the Dawnguard Armor - This mod is a stunning, HD re-texture for all dawnguard armor sets. Because if you're going to purge the wicked, you may as well look good doing it.

Resplendent Armor - If you're looking for something more splendid than the Dawnguard Armor, than look no further than the Resplendent Armor mod. The Resplendent armor perfectly blends the aesthetics of both a holy knight and a cleric. It even comes with HDT physics allowing the battle dress to flow realistically as you move.

Real Silver Swords - A beautiful and elegant high quality texture replacer for both the silver sword and silver great sword.

Steel Heater Shield - Adds a collectible and craft-able shield quite similar to the design and shape of the shield seen in my knight cleric character art.

Enchanted Arsenal - This mod gives you complete and total freedom to customize the appearance of all weapon enchantments. You can make your weapon glow with an ethereal aura and more. The possibilities are vast.

YY Anim Replacer - Mystic Knight - This is an animation replacement pack for magic casting animations.While it is geared towards pure mages and spell swords, it looks very nice with a sword and shield as well.



 Closing Remarks

Stay tuned for more of my old work and in due time some of the new builds I've been working on. 




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  • Love this build, the presentation makes it a very pleasurable read. The pictures you've chosen match up perfectly with what you're trying to convey, and everything is throughly explain while also leaving room for the reader to make their own decisions on how they want to play. The armor combination is very aesthetically pleasing, definitely a build I'll have to try in the near future.
    • Thanks. I really enjoyed playing this build.
  • How did you go about recharging with this build? The whole concept of stealing souls seems kinda bad, black souls even worse.
    • For me, I'd role play it as Soul Trapping evil souls that will be used for the greater good. It's not exactly a good thing to do, but it's sort of like a gray area that I don't mind crossing. If that doesn't work for you, then you can always purchase filled soul gems from merchants.
    • I buy filled white soul gems from shops and make use of white soul gems found in the field. I also leave my weapons charge empty until I encounter magic users.
    • Where one draws the line on the theft and use of souls could make for a very interesting build concept. A knight cleric would absolutely abstain from stealing souls, but perhaps the use of black souls would slowly corrupt a clerics morals, giving way to foul dark powers.
      • Hinting at a future build perhaps?
        • Always
    • Soul trapping in Elder Scrolls isn't that morally objectionable, unless the soul is black. There is debate about whether Dawnguard's added lore actually states that trapped souls always end up in the Soul Cairn (or just when exchanged with the Ideal Masters for arcane knowledge and power, not necessarily enchanting). However, there is established lore for trapped souls in black gems being very much sentient and aware of their predicament (and to some extent, the surroundings), so no matter what there is a dark side to trapping even bandits or vampires. White souls, on the other hand, just lose the "energy" that powers their mortal existence, which dissipates on death anyway. The essence of what makes an elk an elk escapes the soul trapping process to be recycled/reincarnated appropriately in the Dreamsleeve.

      You can look up some lore about enchanting and soul trapping from both in-game books and deeper explanations on The Imperial Library. I hope that helps!
  • Heya Curse mate! Registered here to drop a salutation and a like for this fantastic build on your site. I dunno if it's still on other sites around the web, but I found it here first via Google, so there's that. :P

    I'm going to be playing some builds on Twitch, based on the spell archetypes in Forgotten Magic Redone. Currently the Paladin has somehow shot up from 0 votes to taking the lead even past Pyromancer (and my viewers LOVE explosions, it's kind of a meme). I'm just here grabbing some inspiration and enchantment ideas from this build, since I remember it being just fantastic. I always felt bad that I never got a chance to play it before things went nuts in my life last summer. Perhaps one of these days, I'll get a chance to play it exactly as written...
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