This sort of character is who I usually play first in TES games. A great well balanced fighter that I usually experience the main quest, most side quests and Fighters and Mages factions with. A very fun and fast paced playthrough with some frantic sword&board action, especially on higher difficulties!
The Paladin is probably my favourite character. A holy warrior devoted to rooting out evil and injustice in Tamriel, he wields significant martial and magical prowess. His enemies are numerous - Dragons, Necromancers, Vampires, the undead, or the common bandit just to name a few. But with the protection and strength of the Paladin's patron, he is sure to triumph over them all. All Paladins are skilled in use of one-handed weapons, heavy armor, shields, as well as protective and restorative magicks. They are also skilled in creating, improving, and blessing their own armor with various enchantments. Paladins can gain additional abilities depending on their patron (See the A Paladin's Path section, below).
Recommended Quests: The Break of Dawn, Dawnguard, Civil War (Imperials), Dragon Crisis, Destroy the Dark Brotherhood, Companions (up to joining the Circle), The Black Star (Black Star path).
Standing Stone: The Lord. This gives the Paladin a much stronger defense against all enemies.
One-Handed: Your primary offensive ability. Many Paladins adopt the sword as their favoured weapon, while some prefer the deep cuts of the axe, or the slow crushing blows of the mace. Using a sword allows for quick blows between defending with a shield, and skill with a distinctly Paladin weapon, Dawnbreaker. Key perks are pretty much everything except the dual-wield perks and only the weapon perks in your weapon of choice.
Heavy Armour:Heavy armor such as Steel or Ebony plate, or the coat of plates of the Dawnguard protect the Paladin from blows that make it past his shield. I think using a circlet looks very Paladin-y, so I only take ranks in Juggernaut (you can still reach the armor cap with Steel Plate this way).
Block:A strong shield arm is essential to avoid being overwhelmed by powerful or numerous foes. As the Paladin gains more experience, the shield can defend against any attack, and can even be used as an effective weapon in its own right. Key perks are all the way up the left side to Shield Charge.
Alteration:Protective spells can further improve the Paladin's toughness, and the protection perks in Alteration make it an invaluable skill. Furthermore, it offers great utility in the form of Detect Dead, Waterbreathing, and Transmute. Key perks are up to Expert and Magic Resistance.
Restoration:Restoration magic ensures the Paladin is always at full fighting strength, able to both heal his own wounds and replenish stamina. In addition, he can turn the undead, or even whole groups at once with sufficient training. Paladins in the Dawnguard are also able to learn spells to damage undead creatures. Key perks are up to Adept, Respite and Regeneration.
Smithing:A Paladin is able to create his own equipment, and improve it to the highest quality to better combat evil. Key perks depend on your equipment set - see the Paladin's Path section below.
Enchanting:A Paladin can also bless his own equipment by offering the souls of the wicked as proof of his worth to further improve their effectiveness. Key perks are just ranks in Enchanter and Soul Squeezer.
This video is the newest video rendition of my Paladin build, following the Hero of the Divines path (see the A Paladin's Path section).
A Paladin's Path
Elnieros (left), a Breton Crusader of Meridia, and Marcellus (right) an Imperial Hero of the Divines
Each Paladin battles in the name of some deity/being and upholds their ideals and philosophy. Their deity is where they get their power, and as such each Paladin will have different abilities. The two paths I am going to outline in this build are the Crusader of Meridia and the Hero of the Divines. I'll color code parts of the text when I'm referring to a specific path.
Each path will have an equipment set, a stat spread, a new skill, a perk spread, how the content specific to their path affects how you can play, and a special move specific to that path. People who have played a Cleric in D&D will be familiar with this kind of thing.
The Crusader of Meridia
Not all of the Daedric Lords treat the lives and souls of mortals as mere playthings. Meridia, the Lady of Infinite Energies, has a great and everlasting hatred of the undead. Called to Her service by discovering Her beacon amidst a treasure hoard in Skyrim, the Paladin now works primarily to eradicate evil from the darkest corners of Skyrim - vampires, Draugr and necromancers. A Crusader of Meridia can even conjure beings from Her plane.
Recommended Race: Breton. Their Conjuration boost means you can be using Flame Atronachs efficiently by just level 3.
Stats: 2 Magicka | 3 Health | 2 Stamina. Since you've got summons, you can concentrate more on the offense, but it means you need more magicka to use all 3 spell schools effectively (Conjuration, Restoration, Alteration.
Bonus Skill: Conjuration. A Crusader of Meridia can summon beings from Meridia's plane of Oblivion to assist him. These Flame Atronachs and Flaming Familiars assist the Crusader in long-range combat, with the explosive capabilities of the Flaming Familiars and the incredible accuracy of the Flame Atronach. Key perks are just up to Apprentice and all the way up the Atronachs side.
Equipment: Custom Enchanted Ebony Armor/Boots/Gauntlets, Mage's Circlet, Ebony Sword, Dawnbreaker. This takes you up the Heavy Armor side of Smithing to Ebony Smithing.
Gameplay: Flame Atronachs are excellent shots, able to hit even Dragons mid-flight, and a flaming familiar can sniff out enemies inside dungeons. This means that a Crusader of Meridia can focus his full attention on melee combat and let his summons deal with foes at a distance. Once 2 ranks of Summoner are unlocked, Flaming Familiar has a massive range, allowing it to almost be used as a Fireball spell.
Special Move: Foehunter Hound
Requires: Conjure Flaming Familiar, Detect Spell
A flaming hound can bring from their holes to face you in combat. First cast a detect spell to discover their location, and then conjure a Flaming Familiar nearby - once you have ranks in Summoner it has an astounding range. The hound will charge off after them, and explode when it gets close, drawing foes out to face you. Excellent when fighting enemies in a large space.
Elnieros slays an undead enemy with Meridia's weapon, Dawnbreaker
The Hero of the Divines
The Hero of the Divines seeks to maintain order, peace, and safety all over the Empire. The ongoing Civil War brought the Hero to Skyrim, where he was caught up in a much larger threat - the return of the Dragons. A Hero could come from many walks of life, such as a soldier, mercenary, or even a priest. With Stendarr's will to eradicate evil from Skyrim to protect it's citizens, the Hero also trains in a weapon used by many of Stendarr's followers - the crossbow. The Dawnguard is the perfect organisation for a Hero of the Divines, where he can learn many sun spells as well as acquire ancient artifacts of the Divines.
*This path heavily utlises Dawnguard content. I wouldn't recommend it if you don't have Dawnguard.
Recommended Race: Imperial. They possess boost to many of the Paladin's core skills, the the large Restoration boost means that he is able to cast the potent Sun spells earlier as well as acquire the Respite perk.
Stats: 1 Magicka | 3 Health | 2 Stamina. The Hero of the Divines is more of a martial warrior than the Crusader of Meridia. Since his magicka pool is only used for healing, sun spells and protection spells during combat, it doesn't need to be as large.
Bonus Skill: Archery. A Hero of the Divines is skilled in use of the crossbow, a truly deadly weapon which is able to stagger foes over huge distances. Key perks are really just Overdraw and Eagle Eye.
Equipment: Custom Enchanted Dawnguard Armor/Steel Plate Gauntlets/Steel Plate Boots, Auriel's Shield, Auriel's Bow, Aetherial Crown (Atronach Stone), Skyforge Steel Sword, Dawnbreaker, Enhanced Crossbow. This takes you up the Light armor side of Smithing up to Advanced Armors.
You might be wondering how a Hero of the Divines came across Dawnbreaker - it *was* a reward for purging evil from someplace in Skyrim, was it not?
Gameplay: Archery makes the Hero of the Divines much stronger on his own, and can often land 3 or more bolts on enemies before they even reach him. It gives the Hero a potent ranged combat ability to use against non-undead, and can also be a useful quick-draw tool - you can put the crossbow away before reloading it.
Special Move: Divine Storm (Dawnguard Spoilers)
Requires: Auriel's Bow, Storm Call, Clear Skies (optional)
The Hero calls down the fury of the Auriel and Kynareth to smite his foes, dealing massive damage to many enemies at a time. Use your Clear Skies shout to get a clear view of the sun, and then fire a Sunhallowed Elven Arrow at it from Auriel's Bow. As soon as Clear Skies is off cooldown, use Storm Call at the strongest level you can Shout. The result utterly decimates undead enemies and does very heavy damage to others.
Marcellus, a Hero of the Divines, is quite skilled with the Crossbow
The Paladin is able to enchant his equipment to a reasonable level of quality. While he does use the Black Star - what some might see as an inherently evil artifact - he uses it only to trap the souls of mindless creatures, and the most abhorrent of evildoers - master Necromancers, Vampires, and the like. The colored text indicates the enchantment/item is for a particular path and the enchantments in brackets are for when/if you get Extra Effect.
- Armor of Toughness - Fortify Health (Fortify Stamina)
- Bulwark Gauntlets - Fortify Heavy Armor (Fortify One-Handed)
- Blademaster's Boots - Fortify One-Handed (Fortify Stamina)
- Amulet of the Mage - Fortify Magicka (Fortify Restoration/Fortify Conjuration) or Amulet of Talos
- Ring of the Patron - Fortify Archery/Fortify Conjuration (Fortify Health)
- Spellward - Resist Magic (Fortify Block)
Combat with the Paladin
Combat as a Paladin is all about magic-augmented melee combat, with a bit of support from your Patron skill.
If you have a ranged combat skill, open fire on your enemy to get their attention and activate any buffs you might have relevant to the situation - summons, alteration spells, Stendarr's Aura, that sort of thing. Otherwise just close right to melee range and pull out your weapons. If you've got Block Runner keep your shield up on your approach, and if you've got Shield Charge, even better. Open with a bash or forward power attack and then go on the defensive if they're a strong enemy. Let the enemy hit your shield with basic attacks, and either dodge or interrupt power attacks. If they block, hit their guard with a power attack, staggering them and letting you land 2-4 strikes in between. If you're fighting weaker enemies, even in groups, don't worry too much about blocking. If you're fighting a mage try and keep them staggered with bashes and power attacks - they should fall relatively quickly. And don't forget to heal when your health/stamina is low!
You should only use Dawnbreaker against enemies weak to fire/magic, or obviously undead. While it does have well over 1000 charges, recharging it at times can get a little annoying. Remember to trap souls with either an enchanted dagger or the Soul Trap spell! Your Ebony Sword or Skyforge Steel Sword handles very well against other enemies. Something to note is due to the Skyforge Steel Sword's very low weight it significantly lowers the cost of power attacks.
Marcellus surprises this Vampire with a leap attack, killing him instantly
Role-Playing a Paladin in Skyrim
Paladins are upstanding citizens who never commit crimes and will aid any and all as long as it is within their ability to do so. They will never commit an evil act, such as murdering someone in cold blood, performing necromancy, or intentionally aiding an evil cause. For those who lose the favor of their patron, the fall is very far indeed...
You should prioritize quests and dungeons aligned to your patron, such as slaying a Dragon Priest and his undead servants as a Crusader of Meridia or slaying vampires is Stendarr's name as a Hero of the Divines. If, for example, a town got attacked by a dragon or a group of vampires, you should be the one to put yourself in harm's way rather than let it slay civilians and guards - it's your job to protect these people.
You should aim to keep your soul pure, meaning you should avoid become a werewolf (though depending on your patron it could be an interesting part of the RP) or a vampire. If you do become a Vampire, you should seek a cure immediately. Something fun to roleplay might be you have to get cured before reaching stage 4, and you can't feed off people - otherwise your patron forsakes you and you start to walk a much darker path... it would be easy enough to switch your Conjuration to Necromancy and make use of some of the Soul Cairn summons/Necromantic Healing spells.
Elnieros meets his destiny in the ruins below Skyrim...
Thanks for reading everyone! Don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have any questions, or like it if you enjoyed my work!