Thanks to Skyrim’s flexible character build system, it’s easier than ever to build interesting hybrid characters in a medieval fantasy RPG set in a rich, immersive open-world. With players given the choice to pick and choose from a wide variety of skills roughly divided into three different special categories (mage, thief, and warrior), only the sky and one’s imagination are the limits.
The Paladin has risen as one of the more niche builds on Skyrim, with an emphasis on roleplaying. Vanilla Skyrim can be a bit difficult to create a Paladin in due to the lack of gameplay mechanics and features, but it’s still possible if you want to give yourself a nice challenge. If you’re a fan of the Paladin in other games and would like to give it a shot in Skyrim, this guide will help you get started.
Strategy And Roleplaying
The Paladin isn’t a difficult build. In fact, it relies on some of the best features of Skyrim. Paladins will typically be One-Handed brawlers that are extremely tanky and resilient against damage. You’ll definitely want to invest in Heavy Armor to ensure you can last in combat.
They’re similar to spellswords in the sense that Paladins specialize in one or two schools of magic. At the very least, they are specialists in Restoration. Most of their spells will deal with the undead, but they can also have powerful healing spells to help them sustain longer in combat. For defensive abilities, players can choose to either pick Alteration or the Block skill for some extra sustain.
In terms of roleplaying, Paladins are the definition of virtue. They never associate with dark forces, evil factions, nor do they dabble in necromancy. For the sake of roleplaying, you’ll want to avoid siding with Daedric Princes, with the exception of Meridia who’s actually perfect for any Paladins. The best factions to join would be the Companions and the Dawnguard.
Two races, in particular, are well-suited for the Paladin build. First, there’s the Imperial, who can use the voice of the Emperor to calm all creatures around them for 30 seconds. Imperials will also find more gold in loot, which can be useful when crafting your own gear, as that’s an essential part of this specific Paladin build.
Secondly, you can go for the Nord. Nords are able to make enemies flee for 30 seconds once per day thanks to their Battle Cry ability, which works well with the Paladin build. They also get a massive 50% resistance against Frost, which is great since the Paladin build focuses quite a bit on protection against physical damage, and not so much on magic.
If you’d prefer to go for something different, you can also theoretically make a Paladin out of an Orsimer. From roleplaying perspectives, however, these two aren’t the best options. The Orsimer worship Malacath, a Daedric Prince, which fights against the ideals of a Paladin. However, their innate combat bonuses in Heavy Armor and One-Handed make them a great choice. Berserker Rage, their unique ability, also deals double damage while taking half the damage.
Standing Stones And Shrines
Standing Stones and Shrines provide great buffs for players once activated. The Paladin has a few options to choose from when it comes to Standing Stones in particular. Depending on your preferences, it’s up to you which path you take.
- The Steed Stone: Great for any heavy armor builds, it adds +100 carry weight points and any equipped armor becomes weightless.
- The Warrior Stone: All combat skills increase 20% faster, which is what every Paladin needs when grinding their One-Handed skill.
- The Lord Stone: A nice buff for any warrior, it adds 50 points of damage resistance and 25% magic resistance.
Paladins abide by a tight set of rules, usually based on religion. In The Elder Scrolls, there are a bunch of divine shrines to choose from. Head to Solitude and check what shrine appeals to you the most. However, the recommended one for Paladins is the shrine of Arkay, which gives you 25 additional health points.
Skills, Perks, And Attributes
When it comes to attributes, remember that a Paladin is a warrior first and a mage second. Stamina is not a high priority since Heavy Armor perks, once unlocked, will help you become lighter on your feet.
- First Priority: Health – to increase your health pool and to become tankier.
- Second Priority: Magicka – to allow you to cast more expensive Restoration and Alteration spells.
- Third Priority: Stamina – to ensure you can power attack easier and move quicker despite your Heavy Armor.
Primary Skills And Perks
This is your bread and butter skill, your primary way of dealing damage, up close and personal. Focus on the perks that allow you to deal more damage, or lower the cost of power attacks. You can safely ignore any duel-wielding perks since you won’t be needing them as a Paladin.
Recommended Perks: Armsman, Fighting Stance, Bladesman, Savage Strike, Critical Charge
- Heavy Armor
Paladins are going to be fighting in the enemy’s face, so you’ll need proper protection that only heavy armor can provide. Most of the recommended perks in this tree focus on lowering your carrying weight and help to make you quicker on your feet. The one perk you can mostly ignore is Fists of Steel that ups your unarmed damage.
Recommended Perks: Juggernaut, Well Fitted, Cushioned, Tower of Strength, Conditioning
An essential part of the Paladin’s kit, your build will focus on a few healing spells and then mostly take advantage of the undead repelling spells this school of magic provides. Against undead enemies like vampires, skeletons, and Draugr, these will be a big help.
Recommended Spells: Fast Healing, Close Wounds, Turn Lesser Undead, Repel Lesser Undead, Stendarr’s Aura, Turn Undead, Vampire’s Bane, Circle of Protection, Repel Undead, Turn Greater Undead, Bane of the Undead, Guardian Circle
Recommended Perks: Regeneration, Recovery, Respite, Necromage
Secondary Skills And Perks
Smithing is not only great for grinding levels as a Paladin, but it also allows you to make powerful heavy armor sets that might be difficult to come across in the wild. In particular, you’ll have access to Dragonplate Heavy Armor, once you level up your Smithing perks. In all honestly, every perk in this tree should be unlocked for your Paladin build. For further assistance on Smithing, you can check this comprehensive guide.
Recommended Gear To Craft: Dragonplate, Stalhrim, Nordic Carved, Dwarven, Steel Plate. Avoid Daedric and Ebony for roleplaying purposes.
Smithing isn’t enough to make great gear. To properly roleplay a Paladin, having the Enchanting skill is also crucial since it allows you to craft gear that’s better suited for your needs. You can safely unlock every perk in this tree to reap the benefits.
Recommended Enchantments: Fortify Heavy Armor, Fortify One-Handed, Fortify Health, Fortify Restoration, Turn Undead
- Alteration/Block (Optional)
This is an optional aspect of a Paladin build. It’s up to you if you’d like a defensive element to your skills. You have a choice between Alteration, which uses Oakflesh to cast temporary armor at the beginning of a fight, and Block, which uses a shield. There are pros and cons to both trees.
Block allows you to bash enemies and deal additional stun and damage. However, it means you won’t have your Restoration spells equipped by default when entering a fight, which can make gameplay annoying. It also defeats the purpose of a Paladin who relies on spells to sustain and repel the undead, which makes it less than ideal in terms of roleplaying.
Recommended Perks: Shield Wall, Quick Reflexes, Deflect Arrows, Power Bash, Elemental Protection, Block Runner
Alteration is nice because it will benefit from you investing in your Magicka for your Restoration spells. It’s also easy to level up initially, since casting Oakflesh once in combat is quite expensive. However, it also takes away Magicka that you could be using to cast Restoration spells.
Recommended Spells: Oakflesh, Stoneflesh, Ironflesh, Ebonyflesh, Dragonhide
Recommended Perks: Magic Resistance, Atronach
There are many unique weapons that are excellent in Skyrim but require the player to do evil things. Due to this, the weapons selected here can be obtained while still roleplaying as a Paladin, making them ideal for the build. Their effects are also inspired by traditional Paladin weapons.
- Bolar’s Oathblade
This aesthetic blade is found in Bloated Man’s Grotto. It inflicts 25 Stamina Damage and causes enemies below level 12 to run away for 30 seconds.
The perfect weapon for a Paladin, and a simple must-have for this build. Complete Meridia’s quest The Break of Dawn and clear her temple of the undead. Undead touched by the blade will suffer a fire explosion that can spread to other undead enemies, making it fantastic for dealing with a group of undead opponents. For other targets, it burns them for 10 damage points.
The path of a Blade is ideal for Paladins as well, hence why the Dragonbane which can be received during Alduin’s Wall quest in Sky Haven Temple is a great choice. It does more damage to dragons, approximately 20 to 40 points, and to other enemies, it deals 10 points of shock damage.
- Red Eagle’s Bane
Found in Rebel’s Cairn while completing the quest The Legend of Red Eagle, Red Eagle’s Bane specifically targets the undead by dealing fire damage and causing them to run away for 30 seconds.
- The Pale Blade
In Frostmere Crypt, once you’ve killed the Pale Lady, you can get it from Ra’jirr’s body. It deals 25 frost damage and will make enemies under level 16 run away for 30 seconds.
Armor And Amulets
There aren’t that many great armor sets for Paladins that are unique within the game. This is why Smithing and Enchanting are absolutely vital for a Paladin build, as it’s going to be up to you to craft the best heavy armor. For roleplaying purposes, avoid armor from questionable factions such as the Thieves Guild or the Dark Brotherhood, and never equip Daedric items.
- The Forgemaster’s Fingers
A random quest from any Orc stronghold will have you hunt down these gauntlets, which gives you a 12% boost when improving any armor or weapons. Great for Paladins, who rely on Smithing.
Paladins despise all things undead and diseased, which is why the Hevnoraak Dragon Priest mask is ideal in terms of roleplay and lore. It gives you immunity to poisons.
- Amulet Of Arkay
A good Paladin always carries a reminder of the Nine Divines, and Arkay being a great choice, the amulet is perfect for a Paladin build. It adds 10 health points.
- The Bond Of Matrimony
Get married, and you’ll receive a fantastic Paladin item that lowers the cost of Restoration spells by 10%. It also fits the Paladin build lore-wise.
- Silver-Blood Family Ring
Although the Silver-Bloods are evil, siding with them can be beneficial to get this ring, which boosts your Smithing by 15%.
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