Stendarr's Mercy be upon you, for the Vigil has none to spare!
The Vigilant of Stendarr
It’s no secret that the Vigil of Stendarr is an incredibly incompetent faction. Vigilant Tyranus gets killed during House of Horrors, Vigilant Tolan gets killed charging into Dimhollow Crypt by himself, the entire Hall of the Vigilant gets destroyed at the beginning of Dawnguard, and a whole slew of Vigilants end up getting charmed by a mage to do her bidding. It is for that reason (along with the obvious armor rating issue), that make the faction an awkward choice to base a character build on. Nevertheless, I still wanted to try my hand at a Vigilant build, and this was the result.
Race: The Vigil of Stendarr counts several different races among its members (including Dark Elves, ironically), so pretty much anything is fair game. I recommend Redguard for the useful skill boosts (+10 One-Handed, +5 Alteration, Block, and Smithing) and abilities (50% Poison Resistance and Adrenaline Rush).
Stone: With pretty much all of the Vigilant’s armor rating coming from the boots and gauntlets, the Lord is absolutely essential for the 50 AR boost. The 25% Magic Resistance is nice too.
Stats: 1/3/1. Enchanting helps keep magicka costs down while Respite and Adrenaline Rush ensures that the Vigilant has a nice pool of stamina, leaving plenty of room to invest into health; which is nice considering the lackluster AR.
Shouts: Become Ethereal for casting master-level spells as well as avoiding ranged attacks, Elemental Fury for swinging your unenchanted mace faster, and Unrelenting Force for crowd control. For those with the Dragonborn DLC, Dragon Aspect is an excellent shout since using two words of it will increase your AR by 50, among other things. Don't bother getting the third word in Apocrypha since that requires working for Hermaeus Mora.
We hunt Daedra and any other abominations that prey on mortals: Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, but the Daedra are the worst of all. Their callous disregard for our lives is abhorrent in the eyes of the God of Mercy.
One-Handed: The majority of the Vigilants in the game wield maces (though Tolan and Carcette use warhammers) so this is a natural skill choice. Grab everything except the sword, axe, and dual-wielding perks.
Block: Another natural skill choice, since the Amulet/Blessing of Stendarr fortifies this by 10% each. I’d only grab a few ranks in Shield Wall for this reason, but be sure to grab the bashing perks and Quick Reflexes as well. Note that when Quick Reflexes activates, you can disengage the block and then sidestep the blow, an easy way to avoid damage. While I chose to use nothing in the offhand for blocking, using a torch to block and bash is a viable option as well, particularly since you can hotkey it for easy blocking.
Restoration: Aside from the obvious necessity of healing, Restoration magic is used for wards and of course turn undead and sun spells for fighting Draugr and Vampires. Be sure to get Sailor’s Repose (from completing Frostflow Abyss) for a 10% boost to your healing spells. Grab everything in this tree.
Alteration: The big thing here is flesh spells, which will give a much-needed boost to Armor Rating. At higher levels, you’ll have the option to simply cast Dragonhide to max out physical damage resistance. Aside from that, the Magic Resistance and Atronach perks are nice for propping up magical defense, and paralyze spells are great for crowd control. For a further magic resistance boost, get the Agent of Mara ability (from the Book of Love) for a 15% boost. Grab all the perks in this tree except for Alteration Dual Casting and Mage Armor.
Heavy Armor: You’ll want to get plenty of experience in this skill and grab all the Juggernaut perks to boost the AR of your boots and gauntlets as high as you can. Due to a glitch, the Ancient Knowledge ability (obtained from completing Unfathomable Depths) boosts the AR of all non-Dwarven heavy armor by 25%, so be sure to grab that too. Fortify Heavy Armor enchantments will be useful for this as well. By endgame, you should have a displayed armor rating of about 150 each for your boots and gauntlets, which combined with Ebonyflesh and the Lord Stone will give you 450 overall. Since you’re only using boots and gauntlets, your heavy armor skill will level up slowly, so be sure to invest plenty of gold into trainers.
Smithing: Another key component for boosting your AR. Ancient Knowledge lets you improve equipment 15% better due to the aforementioned glitch, a welcome boost. You also have Fortify Smithing enchantments and any generic smithing potions you may acquire to help out too. While you only need to perk up to Advanced Armors to double the improvement of your Steel Plate Boots/Gauntlets, you’ll want to go up one perk further to Glass Smithing for your Glass Mace. I chose to grab Arcane Blacksmith as well.
Enchanting: Aside from boosting smithing capabilities, Enchanting is nice for giving your equipment a nice all-around boost in effectiveness. Max out the center tree.
In total, you should have 60 perks once the build is completed.
The Hall of the Vigilant, prior to destruction.
Let’s talk about weapons first. The Vigilant uses three different Glass Maces. The first two are Banisher (Banish/Soul Trap) and Purifier (Turn Undead/Soul Trap), for use against daedra and undead respectively. The third is unenchanted and used against everything else. Armor is as follows:
Hood of the Vigilant (Mage Hood – Alteration/Restoration)
Amulet of Stendarr (Pre-enchanted with 10% Fortify Block)
Robes of the Vigilant (College Robes – Restoration/Alteration)
Hands of Stendarr (Steel Plate Gauntlets – Heavy Armor/One-Handed)
Cleansing Ring (Gold Diamond Ring – Heavy Armor/One-Handed)
Pilgrim’s Boots (Steel Plate Boots – One-Handed/Stamina Regen)
The Mage Hood/College Robes have no enchantment, and thus you can apply your own. The former can be bought from Colette Marence and the latter from Radiant Raiment. In the early going though, you can pick up a Novice Hood/Robes and Iron Mace while escaping Helgen, and you can buy some regular Steel Boots/Gauntlets from blacksmiths and an Amulet of Stendarr from Radiant Raiment.
The Daedra are profane creatures with no hope of redemption. They lure innocents to their deaths, corrupt the souls of all they touch, and their heretical artifacts grant powers to mortals that wreak havoc across Tamriel. They must be destroyed or guarded to prevent temptation.
As you might have noticed, the Vigil of Stendarr isn’t terribly fond of daedra. However, you get the option to do the bidding of almost every Daedric Prince in the world of TES, and the Vigilant is ready to do exactly that. Why, you ask? So he can obtain their artifacts and toss them into fires of the Aetherium Forge (or the waters of the Sea of Ghosts if you don’t have Dawnguard), thus preventing them from falling into the wrong hands. Alternatively, Vigilants that you encounter on the road will take them off your hands for you, so that’s an option too. Nevertheless, while doing the quests, always go with the dialogue options that disparage the Daedric Princes. Specific quest details are as follows:
- With Azura, corrupt her artifact into the Black Star instead. Aside from getting the opportunity to “alter the fate of a Daedric artifact and live”, it’s very useful for recharging your maces.
- Don’t bother doing Clavicus Vile’s quest at all, the reason being that either option results in him gaining his full power back in the future. Instead, speak with Lod, find Barbas, exit the dialogue before A Daedra’s Best Friend can start, then return to Lod.
- Be sure to get rid of the Oghma Infinium without reading it, as doing so will make it disappear.
- During Hircine’s quest, slay Sinding since he’s a werewolf.
- After finishing Malacath’s quest, considering killing off the stronghold Orcs, since they’re daedra worshippers. You may want to do the same to any Tribunal-worshipping Dunmer as well.
- With Mehrunes Dagon, you’ll want to have the Razor repaired so you can toss it into the Aetherium Forge along with the items in the Mythic Dawn Museum.
- During Mephala’s quest, you’ll want to pickpocket the key. Don’t kill Farengar for it.
- During Molag Bal's quest, kill Logrolf the Willful before he returns to the Abandoned House to foil the Daedric Prince's plans.
- With Namira, simply refuse to go with Eola so she’ll turn on you. At that point, you can kill her and return to Verulus and tell him that the Hall of the Dead is safe.
- Since you won’t be joining the Thieves Guild, Nocturnal and the Skeleton Key will be left alone.
- During Sanguine’s quest, clean up the temple and recover both the goat and the ring. You’ll want to undo the damage you did.
- With Vaermina, help Erandur destroy the Skull of Corruption then and there. In the absence of any Vigilant followers, he makes a good one, so consider keeping him around.
With all other Daedric quests, simply get the artifact and toss it into the Aetherium Forge. Anyway, some other roleplay notes. You’re very much a Crusader-type character, destroying the wicked and aiding the good. If you come across any Daedra Hearts or other Daedric items, get rid of them the way you would the Daedric artifacts. Vigilants are capable of curing diseases, so keep a healthy stock of Cure Disease potions. Pray to a Shrine of Stendarr whenever you get the chance. Aside from the Daedric quests, you should also do the following:
Main Quest: While dragons don’t ordinarily fall under the purview of the Vigil, they prey on mortals just like Daedra or Vampires.
College of Winterhold: It’s the perfect place to hone your magical talents, and keep an eye on anyone who might try to summon daedra.
Destroy the Dark Brotherhood: The Vigil has no mercy for Grelod or the Dark Brotherhood.
Dawnguard: While relations between you and Isran are tense, you both agree that the vampires are a threat that must be destroyed. When entering the Soul Cairn, become partially soul trapped instead of a vampire, and have Serana cure herself after the questline. You’ll also want to dispose of Harkon’s Sword the way you would a Daedric artifact.
A Shrine of Stendarr, standing out against the darkness.