When the strong are not held accountable, the weak suffer the consequences. Knights represent the noblest of warriors who stand up against this sort of behavior and offer up their strength to stop those who abuse martial prowess. Clad in shining armor, wielding razor sharp blades and mounted atop mighty steeds, knights selflessly serve the realm and swear oaths of fealty to uphold the ideals of society and serve their patron with unswerving loyalty. Let all monsters, outlaws and evildoers beware, for if they cross paths with a knight of honor they will not survive for long!
***if the music bother you, scroll down to the player at the bottom and click pause
Overview: This is a fairly straight-forward build with a heavy roleplay emphasis. On paper the mechanics may seem a bit dull, as you won't find any skill synergies or devastating combat maneuvers. What really makes this fun is trying to live like a knight would, without using any sort of dishonorable behavior while at the same time being an powerful and badass warrior. I've listed some of the rules and the overall philosophy of living as a knight, but first I'll discuss the nuts and bolts of how this build will play out. I was flipping through the "most underrated builds" thread and I noticed that a lot of people were interested in more of a pure warrior/mage/thief type of build. This is also the core class for an exhaustive series of builds to come where I will delve into the various knightly orders of Daggerfall! Stay tuned for those if you like what you see.
One-Handed - This one is a no-brainer, knights are almost always seen using the sword and board style. I decided to go all out and specialize in both axes and maces. I left Badesman unperked because the critical hit damage isn't really worth spending 3 perk points on in my opinion. You can get a crit using a charge with any of the weapons, so it didn't seem like a very big deal. I also left out dual wielding and Paralyzing strike because you'll always have a shield and paralyzing strikes aren't very honorable.
Heavy Armor - Again, totally obvious choice here, the stereotypical knight wears shining metal armor. Every perk in the tree was used, as this is one of the most important aspects of being a knight.
Block - Shields are another big part of being a knight, supplementing your already fantastic armor rating. I personally love the block tree, almost all of the perks are quite useful and you can nullify so much damage. No perks were left out from this tree. I also like to use a torch when fighting the undead or trolls, shield bashing with one lights the enemy on fire.
Smithing - You have to keep your armor and weapons in top quality. I enjoy smithing all kinds of gear, so I took every perk there was, with the exception of Daedric. This is because a true knight does not profane himself with the dark arts, including the forging of Daedric armor. Dragonbone is superior anyway and you'll still have plenty of other options at your expense. Forging will also allow you to have more items to sell, which will be important for raising your Speech skill. My favorite sets were Steel Plate and Ebony, they look the most knightly to me. If you're not as crazy about getting to 100, just go up the left side to get Advanced Armors and throw the extra perks into Illusion or something else that might need it.
Speech - The one perked skill that isn't linked to the Warrior stone is Speech. Knights must carry themselves with respect and courtesy at all times. It also never hurts to be good at bartering. I went up the right side to get more skilled in negotiating, and went partway up the left to improve trading skills.
Illusion (unperked) - In Oblivion, Illusion was a major skill of the knight, but the skill was a bit different and knights primarily used it to charm people into giving them better prices or telling them information. So I decided to make use of Courage and Calm spells interspersed throughout the playthrough.They're cheap enough to cast without dumping anything into magicka. Calm will be hard to cast at first, but if you find a magic item of Illusion or Magicka, use them to bolster your abilities. It helps you level up more quickly as Illusion is one of the easiest skills to raise.
Base Stats: 0:2:1 Health is the main priority, but stamina is also nice, both for carrying capacity and power attacks. I know you can just make vegetable soup and power attack infinitely, but I think it's nice to have a good stamina pool. Even though I put zero for magicka, it can be fun to occasionally throw one into that for the sake of casting Calm spells more easily.
Race: Human cultures primarily tend to employ knights, but members of any race can join knightly orders should they prove themselves worthy. I personally loved playing as an Imperial, both for having appropriate skill boosts and for the Voice of the Emperor power that could calm a room down instantly. Orcs, Redguards and Nords are also obvious strong choices.
Standing Stones: The Warrior or any of its charges: the Lord, the Lady and the Steed. Personally I like the Steed the most, both because it fits with the knight theme and also allows for more stuff to trade, which will be very important for raising Speech.
Followers: Generally you’ll want to stick with honorable warriors that have similar ideals, so mostly go with strong fighters who wear heavy armor and have some kind of moral standing. A knight should avoid employing the services of a sellsword, as they are mainly in it for the profit, not the well-being of the realm. You could also go for a character who uses light armor that takes on the role of squire or armiger. I also like using Erandur from the Vaermina Quest because he's a priest of the Mara.
The Code of Chivalry
Believe the Divines' teachings and observe all the Temple's directions.
Defend the Temples of the Divines.
Respect and defend the weak.
Love your homeland.
Do not recoil before an enemy.
Show no mercy to heretics. Do not hesitate to make war with them.
Perform all duties that agree with the laws of the Divines.
Never lie or go back on one's word.
Be generous to everyone.
Always and everywhere be right and good against evil and injustice.
Interpretation of the Rules:
While every knight will endeavor to follow the rules of chivalry, individuals will interpret them from differing perspectives. Certain aspects will shift depending on several factors, like the knight’s homeland and religious background. Some believe in Talos, others do not, some may even worship the traditional gods of their people. While there is some flexibility, Daedra worship is forbidden and necromancy should be considered evil. Magical staves and Daedric gear are also forbidden.
For the most part, magic is rejected but knights may still use magical weapons and armor provided it’s not rooted in Daedric magic. Potions are allowed as they walk the line between magic and science but poisons are still considered unfair. Positive illusion spells are used to bolster allies or avoid conflict. Even though mechanically you are casting a spell, think of it less as magic and more as an offshoot of the knight’s natural charisma and leadership prowess. If that breaks your immersion too much you may also think of it as being the conduit of divine blessing, capable of ending needless combat peacefully and getting the best performance out of your followers.
A knight’s oath is his bond, you must never betray your chosen patron as long as his honor is intact. This can be tricky to navigate in certain cases, just remember, whoever has the most just and righteous cause is the one you follow. It’s a bit of a dance that becomes questionable at times, but a knight must keep a clear conscience. Men are corruptible but ultimately you answer to the Divines. As such, you are released from any vow if that patron proves dishonorable or unrighteous.
Fallen knights who break their vows will often turn to negative illusion spells that cause fear and betrayal. They have no qualms about using Daedric artifacts or magic items and will take every advantage at their disposal, using poisons and backstabs whenever they wish. Many disgraced knights will join the Dark Brotherhood or the Thieves Guild and turn to Daedra worship. If you decide that you want to turn evil, it can be a really fun roleplay, but once you break your vows, it is nearly impossible to go back. Only through great acts of penance and valorous service can you regain your honor.
Main quest: Doesn’t get much more knightly than saving the world from a dragon bent on devouring everything. It’s up to your discretion to decide if you side with the Blades or the Greybeards, a knight could choose either path and maintain honor depending on where their strongest loyalties lie.
The Companions: Okay, so this one is tricky to justify given all the werewolf nonsense, but they are the closest thing to a knightly order that there is in Skyrim. I think it’s okay because it isn’t obviously evil at the beginning and ends with redemption. If you are a hard core purist then don’t accept the beast blood and remain a lesser member, but the positives outweigh the negatives for me.
Civil War: Knights are noble combat leaders so this one is pretty obvious. Join whoever makes the most sense for your character’s way of thinking. Both sides can be justified as honorable depending on one’s perspective. Even an Imperial might think that the Empire dishonored itself by signing the White-Gold Concordat and side with Ulfric. This is up to your discretion, just make sure you stay loyal to your chosen faction.
Divine Quests: Help priests with their respective quests. You serve the gods in a righteous and holy manner, and they bless you for it. Pray at altars regularly. Examples are the Kynareth quest in Whiterun regarding the Gildergreen Tree and the quest from the Temple of Mara in Riften that reunites lovers.
Dawnguard: If you have this DLC, joining the vampire hunters is a natural choice, there is much valor to be found on this path. Saving the realm from the vampire threat will honor the Divines and protect the innocent residents of Skyrim from being dragged off and used as cattle.
Radiant Quests: While I’m sure people usually play these anyway, I thought it worth mentioning because they often involve assisting someone who needs help. Perform these deeds for the well-being of society, not with an attitude of entitlement or reward seeking. Of course, many will still reward you, but that shouldn’t be your underlying motivation. Any gold you make can be dumped into combat training or better gear so that you can better serve the people of the realm. A knight’s life is not about accumulating wealth, but rather using your wealth in the service to others.
Radiant quests that involve stealing or any kind of injustice should be rejected, for example, don’t steal the Argonian Ale for Brenuin in Whiterun. Becoming a thane of each hold is a cool way to emulate being a knight-errant who travels the land and also allows you to buy a house and adopt orphans.
So that's my build, hope you like it! Let me know if I've mucked something up or made anything unclear, I'm open to constructive criticism. And remember to ride a horse as much as possible =p
If you liked this, check out my other builds
Also check out Percival Black's thread on Roleplaying as a Knight for some additional inspiration!
I've noticed a lot of people who are more interested in two-handed weapons, as well as some interest in a fallen knight variant. You asked, and I shall deliver, I'm starting a new section with modified versions of the original. Hope you like it!
Two-Handers - For those who love their Greatswords, Battleaxes and Warhammers, I have put together the heavy offense variant, specializing in two-handed weapon skill. Since I was able to remove a bunch of perks from one-handed and block, you even get a few bonus perks in Illusion: http://skyrimcalculator.com/#298943
All Melee Options - If you like both fighting styles and don't want to have to pick, here is a version that uses both one- and two-handed at the expense of some mercantile skill and weapon specializations: http://skyrimcalculator.com/#298840
Fallen Knight - If you fall away from the path of honor or were simply evil from the start, this path is for you. Delving deeper into trickery and oppression, this variant focuses much more on Illusion than the others. You also will take the Daedric Armor perk and utilize that gear set to signify your sinister nature. Prioritize magicka much more for this one as you'll be shooting Illusion spells off at people. For questing, focus heavily on the Daedra quests: http://skyrimcalculator.com/#298848
This will be my first knight i must say it is quite impressive for using illusion since i thought it wasn't really for a warrior. thanks will be testing this now.
Thanks for deciding to use my build!
I think Oblivion gave the knight class illusion because it was part of being charismatic, I basically only ever used it to get the best prices from merchants and convince people to give me information back in the TES4 days.
I was trying to figure out the best way to translate this to Skyrim and just decided on not perking Illusion, but still hinting at the charismatic aspect by using the courage spell to amplify your allies. I love how easy it is to get level ups when firing off courage only a few times near the beginning of the game.
Another fun way to use it to simulate honor in combat is to shoot courage at enemies who are cowering. This makes them get up and fight, and you don't have to feel dishonorable for striking down a defenseless foe.
I did not know that little Courage trick; really cool! I was thinking about starting a knight of Auriel using a bit of Henson's Sun Priest mixed with this build with a little archery thrown in, but after reading this little Illusion tactic I might just go straight up Tim Faroe's Knight. I guess it has made me think of the D&D 4E Paladin who shouts challenges across the battlefield and I can imagine the fun I could have with Fear and Frenzy with that in mind.
How did you deal with some of the trickier and morally ambiguous quests from a roleplay perspective, Tim? I'm thinking about In My Time Of Need in which it seems more chivalrous to side with the lady yet seems too mercenary when you speak to Kematu.
Also, what about the tricky Dawnguard quests like Hide and Seek? Is a non perked Illusion skill good enough for Frenzy to work against a Visiting Advisor? I would be reluctant to try and pickpocket and would be just as uneasy about any crimes appearing on my statistics page which would rule out assault.
This is a very inspiring and beautifully presented build and has made me want to play Pendragon rpg. Nice one!
Thanks for your support Phil!
For a lot of the morally ambiguous quests, the knight would never even start them. In your example, a sellsword looking for a woman who will pay you would completely be blown off by a knight and not take part in honorless manhunts and scheming intrigue. He would go off and look for a more valorous quest like slaying a giant. The key is to keep a clear conscience, and if you do end up breaking the rules, find penitent ways to earn forgiveness. I like to climb the 7000 steps and leave an offering at the feet of the statue Talos just outside High Hrothgar or simply donate to the Temple of Mara in Riften. If a crime was committed, you pay the fine or serve the time to make restitution.
For the Dawnguard quests, remember that a vampire is undead and therefore a monster who does not need to be shown the same courtesy as living people. Therefore, honor does not force you to avoid pickpocketry in this case. Also, pro tip, you can read notes in someone's inventory without taking them. Alternatively, if you want to just face him head on, accept the assault/murder charge and serve the jail time. Your own comfort is nothing compared to the safety of the realm. The Divines will know you did the right thing even if the authorities do not.
Since you seem excited about serving Auriel, I'll give you a sneak preview of my Order of the Hour build that I'm about to release. This order of knights serves Akatosh, and any elves joining would probably refer to him as Auriel since they are the same, here is the perk spread if you're interested.
Note that this is a holy knight order that uses divine magic, less of a pure warrior. The skillset is based off of Daggerfall's skillset for this faction. It's still entirely possible to use the generic knight but focus on worshiping Auriel if it's too magicky for your tastes. Keep an eye out for the new build, it'll be the first in my upcoming Knights Templar series!
That preview from the perk calculator looks interesting, I'm curious about how the sneak skill will be used and interpreted from an rp standpoint. I like the holy knight concept, but is there a distinction in between that and paladin?
Thanks for the tip about pickpocket, I assumed you actually needed to show the note to the jarl but if that isn't necessary then all's good. I'm still not too sure about in my time of need, Saadia does pretty much play the part of damsel in distress and asks for help. Ignoring her doesn't sit right with me but neither does acting the mercenary. I guess it's Skyrim's Tenpenny Tower quest
The short answer on sneak is that dragons are predatory and Order of the Hour knights emulate dragons. That said, sneak is not allowed on everyone. The philosophy for some of the temple knights is "those who do not live with honor shall not receive honorable deaths." So bandits, assassins, criminals, monsters, undeads, etc. are fair game for sneaking. The Shadow Warrior perk will also play into the time control aspect, as it's a great way to simulate jumping one second forward in time. The other thing is quite simply, the Order of the Hour trained and required use of stealth in Daggerfall. I'll go into it in more detail when the build comes out.
While it "holy knight" is pretty much what a paladin is, these builds aren't meant to rip Ponty off, instead I am basing everything on factions from Daggerfall. While the similarity to Ponty's build and its paths are undeniable, they will be different enough that they can be considered distinct from one another. TES 2 is amazing and I really wanted to bring back some of that lore.
So about that specific quest, if you never accept the quest from the Alik'r warriors, they wander off to Rorikstead, leaving Saadia safely hidden in Whiterun. By not even engaging the quest, the knight maintains his honor and can focus his attention on more direct threats
The Order of the Hour sounds interesting, I look forward to the build and the Templar series.
I didn't mean to imply you were copying Ponty, Tim. I think the Paladin class has a great deal of room for interpretation, especially when looked at through rpg eyes. Iirc in D&D 3E and 4E a Paladin didn't necessarily have to have a good alignment but should roughly share the alignment of his/her deity. So from that point of view a Paladin of Kynareth could be massively different from a Paladin of Stendarr.
Yeah, no worries, I wasn't trying to say you were accusing me of copying Ponty, just pointing out the difference because I know people will inevitably draw comparisons.
I only ever played 3.5, but I'm familiar with the alignment system you're describing from the cleric class. That;s a pretty accurate description of what I'm going for, even though they're all holy knights, they come out with wildly different skills. Glad you're so interested in what I'm doing! =)
good build but i don't like the pictures still its not that big a deal so +1
Thanks for the upvote Kaz! Is there a particular reason that these pictures don't do it for you? How would you suggest I improve them in the future?
Thanks for the upvote Roger, glad you like it! The actual in-game description of the knight class leaves a lot open to interpretation, it reads as follows:
"The most noble of all combatants. Strong in body and in character."
So while it doesn't explicitly say to only use it for buffing and speech options, that was always the implication in my mind. I was taking equal parts from Oblivion and from real-world knights. Actual knights would never paralyze an opponent even if it was as easy as waving your hand in special way. The fear/fury spells also don't seem right to me at all, a knight faces his opponents head on and would not resort to magical trickery to scare them off or kill their friends. "Noble" and "strong in character" imply that they would never use Illusion in that way, because fostering terror and betrayal just wouldn't be a righteous action.
While you are technically correct that Oblivion never restricted use of Illusion spells, I was going based off of my own personal interpretation and understanding of a knight. What you read may have been something that somebody wrote with the mentality of "how can I use these skills to their fullest extent?" but my approach comes out of a roleplay focus, not just simple effectiveness. Hope that answers your question, end of the day everyone has a slightly different interpretation.