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Event Build: The Knights Of Iron

Tags: #Character Build Juggernaut  #Character Build Knight  #Character Build Elementalist  #Race:Orsimer  #Rank:Event Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build  #Event:Factions  #ShinJin Build  #Lozhar Build 
  • Member
    May 14, 2014

    Some say that Zenithar is a god for the weak: merchants, blacksmiths, enchanters, alchemists, and the like. Though he certainly is the patron of craftsmen, what people often forget is that he is also a warrior god. The Knights of Iron, in truth, represent both sides of him—they are trained in an ancient form of magic, the art of gathering what Nirn gives them and turning it into something greater... the magic of improvement and creation. They are also skilled with their words and can create social bonds every bit as powerful as their armor and weaponry. Although they train very little in combat and magic, their unique ability to craft powerful potions and artifacts makes them some of the deadliest warriors and mages in Tamriel; they are more than craftsmen, they are the hand of Zenithar—warrior-priests. They are…


    Just as drops of water over the ages transform the landscape, relentless persistence, effort, and strength of character renovate the world. Nirn will become a paradise if only because Zenithar wants it so, and Zenithar works until what he wants... is. This is why He is referred to as the “god that will always win.”

    We are the Knights of Iron. We are Zenithar’s hammer—we build His paradise… and, if necessary, tear down the obstructions to it.

    This build only perks four skills: Alchemy, Enchanting, Smithing, and Speech. Yet, ironically, it has been perhaps the most immersive and exciting playthrough I’ve experienced so far. “Wait!” you say, “You only have four skills, three of them crafting, and the last one is Speech… where does that get immersive and exciting?” Season your disbelief a while with an attent ear while I explain:

    Most of my builds have a set agenda, and I tear around from one place to another to get to the next level, destination, or person that I have on a long list of things to do...  I can’t tell you how often I have taken a road to get somewhere simply because that’s how I got there the first time. It wasn’t until I played this build that I realized just how much of Skyrim I have missed. Knights of Iron pick up just about everything: alchemical ingredients, ore, weapons, armor—I found it difficult to just power my way through places because everywhere you look there are things you can use to create something.

    Because finding stuff is priority number one, there is a real incentive to discover new places. With this build I found that even after two and a half years of gameplay, I was taking paths and finding corners of Skyrim I had never run across… I have finally come to appreciate what’s out there simply by looking for the undiscovered, clearing out the bad guys, looting gear, collecting materials, making things, improving things, selling things, and (the fun part) eventually giving them away(more on this in the Role Play section).


    The Knights of Iron are Zenithar’s blessing to the people of Tamriel; however, some people prove themselves unworthy of that blessing and need… refining. Such should beware: the Knights of Iron are masterful refiners… and they never stop working.


    • Orc—an absolute no-brainer from a mechanics standpoint. +10 to Heavy Armor and additional bonuses to Enchanting, Smithing, and Two-handed. Add to this the Berserker Rage power and automatic acceptance into orc strongholds as Blood-kin… well, you’d  have to be pretty foolish to choose anything else...
    • Imperial—...which, I suppose, is why ShinJin opted for Imperial (that and the fact that he had never played one before :D). It’s still a pretty good choice: admittedly, the +10 to Restoration doesn’t do much for you, but the additional bonuses in Destruction, Enchanting, and Heavy Armor are quite useful. Imperial Luck fits the role play rather well (even if the ability is a bit meh), but the Voice of the Emperor power is awesome! Early on he had 3 hired thugs come after him (though he swears he committed no crime… go figure). This is usually trouble at early levels, but he voiced them all and took them down one at a time… then walked off with their steel armor, improved it, and gave it to some local mill workers :)


    • Warrior—might as well take it seeing as you walk right past it out of Helgen, but…
    • STEED—you’ll want this stone as soon as you can get it. Zero weight penalty for your heavy armor means BIG stamina savings for you, and because you’re picking up almost everything you run across the +100 to carry weight is a welcome blessing.And don’t forget the glitch: any pieces of armor with the same base AR that you are currently wearing also weigh nothing, allowing you to create additional enchanted armor sets with no cost in weight… how awesome is that?


    • 1 magicka/2 health/1 stamina—I did this till I hit 200 in magicka and stamina, and then dumped all my points into health after that.

     How to Avoid the Crafting Nightmare:

    These can be the best of times or the worst of times… entirely up to you!

    For this build me and Shinjin trained crafting in a different manner than most. When seeing a build with three crafting skills you may associate it with hours of the punch-reload play style, but we decided to collect materials almost exclusively through questing. So, if you're going to High Hrothgar and spot an ore vein you should mine it and keep going. When you stop at one of the holds you turn the ore into bars, craft something, then either sell or improve it--maybe use those soul gems that you've found in a warlock lair (or that you've filled yourself while fighting against undead in Potema's catacombs) to enchant the weapon--then use those mushrooms found in a bandit cave to mix some potions. After that pick up your horse and keep questing...

    It's so much better to gather and level like that! Sometimes you don't even need to stop in a hold at all, as you can find alchemy/enchanting/smithing tables in some caves and forts. In other words, if you spend your time exploring, the tables actually become a reward for your efforts (and are a lotmore enjoyable).


    The great thing about these four skills is that they are all interconnected and usually help to level up at least one other skill. For example: you craft some Dwarven bows to level Smithing. Now enchant them to level Enchanting, then sell them to level Speech. Same with Alchemy: you can create crafting potions to improve Smithing and Enchanting or just sell potions and poisons that will help level Speech. Just make sure to avoid crafting loops that create OP gear… making them is insanely boring, and using them is even worse.


    I’ve perked Alchemy before, but not as extensively as with this build (Shinjin had never perked it before).

    After this playthrough we both can say: Alchemy is awesome! This skill was my money-maker. Throw a few perks into alchemy and suddenly you find yourself wondering what you are going to do with

    all that gold you get from your potions and poisons.

    I also used Alchemy to shore up any deficits in combat or magic (when you don’t perk any melee or magic skills there are many). For example, I was fighting a Draugr deathlord-ruler of the undead anti-paladin master of ass-kicking, and I wasn't damaging him quickly enough (he always killed me). So I drank a potion of Fortify Marksman, then Two-handed, then berserker rage… that equals 2603 Damage!  The above, of course, is an extreme example, but if you find that your firebolts aren’t making a dent, craft a simple Fortify Destruction potion, and you are now an actual threat with fire. Or, if you prefer, work with poisons to inflict your damage. I only used one or the other, and rarely (if ever) found it necessary to use both.


    *A word of warning* - let prudence be your guide with Alchemy—if smithing and weapon enchants are working for you but still keep the game challenging, then sell your Two-handed potions rather than drink them... remember to use Alchemy to fill in holes, not to create a 10th divine.


    It’s no secret… I love enchanting. It’s a fire-and-forget crafting skill that makes weapons and armor stronger, and it can also bring you some serious septims. Weapons enchants seem to provide the most bang for the buck. Look for: banish, paralysis, absorb health/stamina as these will net you quite a bit of gold even with petty soul gems (plus there is something so satisfying about flooding skyrim with weapons that send daedric minions straight back to oblivion… it just feels so  good!)


    One of your main sources of protection and damage. Improving your weapons and armor will keep you alive longer, but will also increase the value of your items (significantly by the end of the game). I liked to pick up the weapons and armor of fallen enemies, improve them, and then redistribute them to worthy people who could use those items to protect themselves against the types of bad guys they came from.

    Crafting Dwarven bows and jewelry will be the quickest way to increase your skills here.


    Knights of Iron are expert at interacting with others; they get the best prices for their work, and they usually get what they want. Case in point: for the first time ever, I walked into the College at Winterhold without having to cast a single spell (I told Faralda we both knew I would make it, and she said the words I’ve wanted to hear for two and a half years: “You know, I think you’re right”). It was a special moment for me.

    I had never fully perked Haggling before, nor had I perked Master Tradesman… having all vendors carry an extra 1,000 septims is awesome. Between Speech and crafting skills money becomes a non-issue after a while—you can always get whatever you need pretty easily in a very short time.

    ShinJin has mentioned in previous builds how Speech and training go hand in hand, but here is a quick reminder anyhow: obtain the Merchant perk, train from merchants, sell gear to get back your gold, rinse and repeat… it’s glorious.

    Follower: Mjoll

    Making Skyrim safer through commerce, industry… and violent retribution.

    I’ll quote ShinJin on this one:

    “What can I say? I liked Mjoll right from game one, November, 2011… probably because she reminds me of my Missus: she knows what’s right, does it, and is not afraid to let you know that she will kill you if you deviate too far from it. In many respects you couldn’t find a follower better suited for a Knight of Iron. She’s not afraid to roll up her sleeves and work (“I can carry a good bit of gear”), is wonderfully amiable, does decent damage with a bow, and when you give that woman a warhammer she is an absolute TANK (again, just like my Missus :D). I can’t believe it took me two and a half years, and this contest, to finally recruit her.”

     Combat and Gear (with end game enchantments)

    With this build there is some leeway with the gear you choose: your armor needs to be a heavy set that fits a knightly character in order to look the part and withstand damage, but you can determine what that is. ShinJin opted for Ebony armor, Steel Plate boots and gauntlets, and the mourner's hat. I, on the other hand, am wearing Dawnguard heavy armor/boots/gauntlets and a circlet. Remember, with the Steed stone gear with the same base AR as the gear you are wearing weighs absolutely nothing, and gives you endless opportunities for gear with different enchants… all with no weight penalties.

    This build has two combat modes, each with its own set of armor to augment it:

    Warrior Mode and Set

    Bring it on!

    Head: Fortify Restoration + Fortify Magicka

    Body: Fortify Health + Fortify Heavy Armor

    Boots: Fortify Block + Fortify Two-handed

    Gauntlets: Fortify Heavy Armor + Fortify Two-handed

    Ring: Fortify Block + Fortify Two-handed

    Necklace: Fortify Heavy Armor + Fortify Two-handed

    Warhammer: I went with an Ebony Warhammer, Choosing the pure damage path of Chaos + Fire while ShinJin went with the Longhammer enchanted with Absorb Health + Frost

    Pick up your warhammer and charge! Go after mages first, since your only defense against magic is potions (we decided to only gain resistance to magic by using potions rather than enchantments--it adds an interesting and challenging weakness to the character), block the stronger attacks and take the fight to your enemies! Useful potions for this mode are Fortify Two- handed and Heavy Armor. As for poisons, we found Paralysis and Weakness to Poison to be an effective and deadly combination.

    Mage Mode and Set

    Still bring it on! No matter the mode... you’re bringing it!


    Head: Fortify Destruction + Fortify Magicka

    Body: Fortify Destruction +  Fortify Magicka Regen

    Boots: Fortify Carry Weight

    Gauntlets: Fortify Magicka + Fortify Heavy Armor

    Ring: Fortify Magicka + Fortify Magicka Regen

    Necklace: Fortify Destruction + Fortify Magicka

    Mace: I went with an ebony mace enchanted with Chaos + Absorb magicka (I also enchanted one with Banish to deal with conjurers)

    We stuck with Fire and Frost magic - It’s symbolic of the forging process: you first expose the workpiece to heat (Fire), hit it with your hammer (Mace), and then douse it in cold water (Ice).

    For mage mode your weapon will be a Mace and your spells (of course!) Why the mace? To take advantage of your poisons and enchantments. Start by knowing your enemy and use the most appropriate element spells to defeat him. Since there are no enemies resistant to both fire and frost it will be one of those two.

    The best potions for this mode are Fortify Destruction and Fortify Magicka/Regen. The best poisons are  Paralysis and Weakness to Magic/Element/Poison.

    Other Options

    • Hybrid Set--For those who want to keep it simple, switching out gear only to craft rather than for different combat scenarios, you can create ShinJin’s Hybrid set:

      • Head: Fortify Destruction + Fortify Magicka

      • Body: Fortify Destruction + Fortify Heavy Armor

      • Boots: Fortify Stamina + Fortify Two-handed

      • Gauntlets: Fortify Heavy Armor + Fortify Two-handed

      • Ring: Fortify Destruction + Fortify Two-handed

      • Necklace: Fortify Destruction + Fortify Two-handed

    *note* With 100% spell cost reduction in Destruction, any weapon enchants utilizing Destruction cost nothing to use… giving you infinite weapon charges! Even at 75%, the Mage Set will still increase your enchants by a huge amount!


    • Crafting Set

      • Head: Fortify Alchemy + Alteration

      • Body: Fortify Smithing + Alteration

      • Boots: Fortify Stamina + Fortify Carry Weight

      • Neck: Fortify Smithing + Fortify Alchemy

      • Gauntlets: Fortify Smithing + Fortify Alchemy

      • Ring: Fortify Smithing + Fortify Alchemy

      • Necklace: Fortify Smithing + Fortify Alchemy

    • Additional Crafting Items--these will help you transmute your ore and will also keep you moving when you’ve picked up too much stuff

      • Ring: Alteration + Fortify Carry Weight

      • Necklace: Alteration + Fortify Carry Weight


    Level 30 Perk Spread


    Level 50 Perk Spread



    The Knights of Iron refuse to focus only on eliminating threats (although they do this masterfully and often), but provide good people with the means to do so as well. The reality of protecting the helpless is this: you can hang around a farm and kill bandits or monsters that come people’s way, but eventually you will leave, the bandits will return, and then what? But give a hard-working farmer and his wife superior armor and weapons, and the game changes… they are no longer helpless. Now, should you turn those two highly indignant farmers loose on a camp chalk full of bandits who have plagued them throughout the years... well, a prosperous person would put their money on the angry farmers.

    For this reason I played my character almost like the Saint Nicholas of Skyrim--surprising worthy folk with gifts that will help them protect themselves. I did this by visiting farms, mills and villages and leaving armor sets and weapons in surrounding barrels--when the barrels respawn the inhabitants found them. Sometimes I just dropped a piece of armor or weapon and waited until someone asked for it--after all Zenithar helps those who help themselves. For people I especially like, I tailor their gear specifically for them, sneak into their house, and leave it in a dresser or chest. Take Faendal for example: I gave him leather armor with a Fortify Health enchant, a Dwarven Bow of Absorb Health, and an ebony Dagger of Paralysis.


    *Awesome Alert* - For those with the Hearthfire dlc you can build your own Resolution of Zenithar! Adding an Enchanter's Tower, Armory, and Greenhouse when you build your home is only the beginning. Now marry Mjoll (you automatically get Aerin with her), find a suitable steward, adopt two children, and build a shrine to Zenithar in the cellar... you now have a temple of Zenithar dedicated to training new Knights of Iron!


    Useful Moves

    Refining the Workpiece - Required: Paralysis, Potion of Fortify Destruction, Concentrated Poison Perk - First you poison your mace with paralysis, hit your enemy once and drink the potion to fortify destruction, cast your magic spells while he is down, when he tries to get up you hit him again and keep with the massacre.

    Forge Of Zenithar - Required - Fortify Restoration potion, 75% Cheaper Destruction Spells, Fire Storm, Blizzard, Fortify Destruction Potion, Potion of Weakness to Frost - First drink your potions, then unequip and equip your gear to get free spells, after that cast Fire Storm, then Blizzard (Become Ethereal/Voice Of The Emperor helps with the 3 sec charge of the master spells) and repeat until everything is dead, after that wait one hour and unequip your gear to return it to normal value

    Racial Moves

    Orc - Pure damage - That technique can severely break the game, I advise you to only use it against those uber powerful enemies (Ebony Warrior, Kaarstag, Legendary Dragons for Example) Required - Potion Of Fortify Two Handed, Potion Of Fortify Marksman, Berserker Rage

    First, you drink a potion of fortify marksman, then two handed, then activate Berserker Rage…

    Imperial: The Equalizer--you got a pack of enemies bringing the pain? Level the playing field with Voice of the Emperor. First calm the mob with your voice… now take them on mano y mano onyour terms (turns traveling packs of Thalmor Justiciars into saber-kittens). Required - Voice Of The Emperor + Potion Of Fortify Destruction OR Two-Handed, Fortify Health Potions.



    We'd like to send a massive thanks out to Kael, who kindly stepped in and volunteered to take screenshots for us when he found out that the majority of our images had broken. This build could easily have been a lengthy series of broken-image icons were it not for his selfless generosity... thank you, sir!




    By The Way:

    We're builders, so if you like what you see, check out our other stuff:

  • Member
    May 14, 2014
    This is awesome! I love the idea of giving to the poor, there are so many knight/good guy builds on the site and I don't think and have touched on this, I'm currently having a blast with Mjoll too!
  • Member
    May 14, 2014
    Thanks! And yes, Mjoll is awesome! (but she talks too much...)
  • Member
    May 14, 2014
    I prefer it to the creepy silence from some of the others, sometimes they scare me... Just following around staring at you silently
  • Member
    April 18, 2019

    RIP the images