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Character Build: Knight of the Crystal Tower

Tags: #Altmer  #Character Build Knight  #Phil 
  • Member
    September 26, 2016

    Knight of the Crystal Tower

    The Crystal Tower - sacred structure, monument to the spirit of the Elven people and at one time the pinnacle of magical learning in Tamriel, stood as the Altmer's final bastion of hope during the Great Anguish. Brave soldiers, wizards and troll guards of the Tower died defending the refugees fleeing the daedric hordes of Obivion before the Crystal Tower itself was overrun and destroyed.

    The tower's destruction, along with it's wealth of lore accumulated in the Great Library and collected Elven treasures was a bitter blow to the Altmer, but the keenest felt loss was the honoured Aldmeri dead interred at the top of the tower.

    With that ancestral connection lost and the Thalmor governing the Aldmeri Dominion - whose aims and long term goals seem sinister at best - the question of what it means to be a High Elf in modern Tamriel is even more confusing than ever.

    Yet hope is not lost, for the Legacy of Crystal-Like-Law and all it represented still lives on in the handful of individuals who make up the Knights of The Crystal Tower. Their enduring quest is to rebuild and reclaim all which the Tower represented: an Altmeri ideology and commemoration of a golden age of Elvendom on Nirn.

    The Knights of the Crystal Tower seek to recover any ancient Elven artifacts they can, scouring the land and delving into the forgotten places of the world in their endless quest to restore that which was lost. To the Elves magic is as natural as air and most Altmer have some degree of aptitude in the arts. The members of the Knighthood are no exception and have undergone magical training in Restoration and Illusion, yet they prefer to rely on their natural gifts of enhanced magicka rather than intense arcane study. Excelling in the arts of  duelling and honourable battle, the Knights always prefer to rely on their skills with the bow, sword and shield rather than magic.

    The Build

    Race: Altmer

    Stat Spread: 0.2.1

    Standing Stone: The Lord

    Shouts: Drain Vitality. On the battlefield the presence of a Knight of The Crystal Tower is a moral-sapping experience. At the knight's command enemies are weakened.

    Blessings and Powers: Agent of Mara and Auriel's Blessing

    Equipment: Elven Armour progressing to Ancient Falmer Armour, Aetherial Crown, The Locket of Saint Jiub and Auri-El's Shield

    Weapons: Auri-El's Bow, Elven Arrows and an Elven Sword

    Major Skills: Archery, Block, Illusion and Light Armour

    Minor Skills: Smithing, One Handed and Restoration.


    Glorfindel by Magali Villeneuve

    Level 30 Perk Spread

    Archery: Overdraw 4/5, Critical Shot 1/3, Steady Hand 1/2 and Eagle Eye

    All Knights of the Crystal Tower undergo training in archery out of respect for their Aldmeri ancestors who were noted for being exceptionally talented archers. A martial weapon requiring skill and finesse, the Knights of the Crystal Tower use the bow honourably as their weapon of choice.


    Block: Shield Wall 4/5

    Mastery of shield tactics is essential to a Knight of the Crystal Tower as it will help offset the early weakness of light armour. This skill will remain vital throughout the knight's career, both in duels and to take advantage of Auriel's Shield.


    Illusion: Novice to Apprentice, Animage, Kindred Mage and Hypnotic gaze

    A knight's word is his bond and a Knight of Crystal-Like-Law's word is law. A fully trained knight can command enemies to flee or challenge them to fight, and can inspire allies to greatness on the field of battle.


    One Handed: Armsman 3/5 and Fighting Stance

    Sword, axe or mace, a Knight of the Crystal Tower is trained in all one handed melee weapons but hasn't specialized in any. A honed silver sword is a useful all round choice due to it's effectiveness against the living and the dead but any enchanted Elven weaponry found will go a long way to rebuilding the Crystal Tower's lost collection.


    Light Armour: Agile Defender 3/5

    Knights trained in magical and ranged combat need to be light on their feet to adapt to changing circumstances in combat. Light Elven Armour is the preferred armour of the order, later the Ancient Falmer armour and Aetherial Crown combination looks too cool to pass up.


     Restoration: Novice to Apprentice and Regeneration

    Trained in the arts of Restoration, knights are healers on the field of battle. Capable of channelling the divine power of Aetherius through the conduit of the sun, a knight can blast undead with holy radiance.


    Smithing: Steel Smithing, Elven Smithing and Arcane Blacksmith

    The basics of the craft are learned by all squires but the ultimate refinement of this skill is the ability to lovingly restore the magical Elven artifacts they seek. Thanks to Ulvul Llaren's betrayal, the art of forging Moonstone and Quicksilver are techniques known to the blacksmiths of Skyrim.


    Rose, by Dropdeadcoheed


    A Knight of the Crystal Tower's objective when faced with multiple enemies is to create one on one honourable combat in which they excel. Bringing to bear ranged attacks from their bow against enemy archers and mages, with illusion commands used against swarm tactics, the knight is finally left facing the single strongest survivor to engage in a duel.

    A knight eschews sneak attacks and always ensures their presence is known before combat. As their marksman skills are second to none, a damage boost from a stealth attack is unnecessary. As foes close in, the knight switches to shield and illusion tactics, commanding enemies to run in fear or fight for them. This levels the playing field and creates the one on one combat challenge the knight enjoys most. When faced with this single enemy, the knight chooses a suitable melee weapon for the duel from their collection of magical elven items.

    If a troll guardian has been brought along for support against potentially overwhelming threats, the knight can provide ranged support for the troll as well as illusion buffs and healing. Ideally when only two enemies remain, a fear command should be used against one for the troll to pursue which will allow the knight to duel.

    Switching weapons and spells didn't interrupt gameplay as I always reset to shield and fear spell combination as default after every combat encounter. With the bow hotkeyed to the left and sword hotkeyed to the right, I would switch to default shield and spell by clicking the left hotkey again. When entering melee, a right hotkey click equipped the one handed weapon. This way, I didn't need to use the favourites menu that much except to select an occasional healing spell or different illusion spell.

    A Note on Trolls

    The Altmer of the Crystal Tower employed troll guards who were well treated and well respected by their masters. Indeed, it wasn't unheard of for close bonds to form between individuals of both races. The Dawnguard dlc allows you to purchase an armoured troll who will defend you like the trolls of the Old Crystal Tower and benefit from your healing and illusions spells in combat.

    Although the the AI is idiosyncratic in that the troll doesn't like getting wet and is reluctant to cross rivers, or will often run away when fighting archers, this actually didn't put me off. Rather, these things had the effect of making the troll feel more real.

    When one would fall in combat despite my best efforts to keep it strong and healthy I would feel a genuine sadness for it's loss, which really helped the roleplay aspect of the build come alive.

    My first combat experience with the troll ally in this playthrough came against the three imperial imposters led by the Orc. Normally this is a challenging encounter at lower levels but by sending the two weakest fleeing with a fear spell for my troll to pursue, I was left to fight the boss one to one. By the time I'd finished the duel, the troll had mopped the floor with the rest.


    Sharing a similar ideology to the Psjiic Order in that they believe knowledge and learning should not only be confined to elves, the Knights of the Tower differ in that they embrace the Altmeri traditions and religious practices rather than the Psijiic's Old Way.

    The principle Altmeri ancestors who make up the pantheon are revered, and a Knight of the Temple will assist and advance the cause of any of these religious institutions. In Skyrim, temples and shrines to Mara, Stendarr, Zenithar and Akatosh (to use their Nine Divine names) will grant blessings to pious knights.

    A secondary but no less important objective is the undermining of Aldmeri Dominion activities in Tamriel. This group and their 'Great War' has tarnished the once proud reputation of the Altmer people to the point where elves of all cultures are recieved with hostillity where once civility reigned. A Knight of the Crystal Tower must always act with honour and gallantry to offset this prejudice.

    Essential Quests:

    Dawnguard: The primary reason for the knighthood's presence in Skyrim is the rescue and recovery of the legendary artifacts Auri-El's Bow and Auri-El's Shield. Even without certain knowledge of their whereabouts, a knight cannot ignore the threat posed by the evil Volkihar clan.

    Lost to the Ages: The search for the Forge feels like a knightly quest and suits the theme, not to mention the aesthetically pleasing combination the Crown creates when worn with Ancient Falmer Armour. Having The Lord Stone as the Crown's stored power will mean you won't miss a helmet.

    The College of Winterhold: The Staff of Magnus, last seen in Mournhold but now believed to be in Skyrim, is another goal of the Knights of the Crystal Tower. If anyone in Skyrim could help in that endeavour it is the wise mages of the College of Winterhold. Honing the Illusion and Restoration skills along the way is an added bonus.

    The Book of Love: No questing knight can ignore the chance of prayer at the Temple of Mara, despite the city of squalor and iniquity it is housed in. If the priests and priestesses of The Lady of Love call for aid it is the duty of a knight to assist.

    Rescue Arvak: A knight needs a horse and this faithful spiritual steed will come to you when called thanks to your heroic efforts to rescue him from the Soul Cairn. Despite not putting any points into the magicka attribute or perks into conjuration, the Altmer starting bonus of +50 magicka will allow Arvak to be summoned without the need for magicka buffing.

    Impatience of a Saint: Not everyone's favourite quest, but the Locket of Saint Jiub will give the knight more carrying capacity without having to use The Steed Stone and provide a very useful boost to stamina.

    Hearthfire: Being the only Knight of the Crystal Tower in Skyrim, it may prove useful to establish a northern outpost of the knighthood to store your collected Elven relics. Although not quite a castle, the Hearthfire dlc will allow you to create a fortified manor to house and protect the recovered treasures. A couple of towers will help add the feeling of Elven architecture.

    Special Moves


    Highborn and Holy:

    When faced with powerful undead enemies, the Knight of the Crystal Tower whispers a prayer to Magnus, who grants magical aid to ward against harm and purify with holy fire.

    Highborn + Lesser or Steadfast Ward + Sun Fire


    Demoralizing Presence:

    After using the Drain Vitality shout to simulate the morale-sapping feeling that enemies experience when facing off against a Knight of Crystal-Like-Law, the champion of the order commands the lesser opponents to flee.

    Drain Vitality + Fear


    Knight Commander:

    Inspiring leadership extends to troll followers too. To enhance the bond between them, the wise knight takes the time to heal and rally his ally and guardian.

    Armoured Troll + Courage + Healing Hands


    Auriel's Authority:

    Against a tough opponent, the knight masterfully blocks every blow with Auriel's shield, healing wounds at every available opportunity, while patiently waiting for the enemy to tire before unleashing divine fury.

    Drain Vitality + Fast Healing + Auriel's Shield shockwave



    Special Thanks

    This build wears it's heart on it's sleeve and I think it's inspirations are plain to see. Tim Faroe's The Knight was a massive help in that regard, as was Vix's Order of the Twin Serpents. In fact, it's hard to say I brought anything new to the group when compared to those two giants. In attempting to convey the spirit I was looking for, I couldn't do better than look at Adrik's The Telvanni Wizard to see how it should be done.

    For background information and lore, Vix's spotlight on Altmer was a huge eye-opener and is a great read for those interested in the Altmeri outlook without the dubious Thalmor to colour impressions.

    None of the artwork is mine, the artists deserve all the credit for inspiring me visually. Our very own Lanius kindly captured a screenshot of my troll friend. Cheers Lanius!

    Big thanks to Vazgen who has been a massive help in correcting my garbled lore, encouraging me, advising changes and being a thoroughly decent bloke. Cheers Vaz!

    And thank you for reading.


  • September 26, 2016

    Good to see it back, mate. It looks good. I think the Font Size 8 is going well with this. :)

  • Member
    September 26, 2016

    Thanks Karves. It still looks messy but I ain'got time to pretty it. About an hour it took, eating halfway through. I wanted to really test this new code template we have, see if building is as easy as was on Ning.

    And it is!

  • Member
    September 27, 2016

    To say that I love this build would be a serious understatement. I love builds that deviate from the all too familiar (and tiring) "all Altmer should be mages" meta. The presentation, the lore (Crystal Tower, ftw!), and the gameplay are all fantastic! Well done!

  • Member
    October 8, 2016

    Awesome - glad to read this again!  Playing an Altmer myself right now, and sometimes I like to come back and get re-inspired.  

  • Member
    October 8, 2016

    While I'm certainly glad to see this back, I have to ask: what made you change your mind and repost your builds? I finally accept the fact that we weren't going to see them again then suddenly here they are. :P

  • Member
    October 8, 2016
    Yay! :D
  • October 8, 2016

    YAY! We need more Knights of the Crystal Tower! One of my favorite builds. 

  • Member
    October 9, 2016

    Lissette Long-Chapper said:

    YAY! We need more Knights of the Crystal Tower! One of my favorite builds. 

    I also wouldn't mind seeing more Avatavas ;D

  • Member
    October 9, 2016

    Dagon's dick guys, thanks!

    Albino said:

    While I'm certainly glad to see this back, I have to ask: what made you change your mind and repost your builds? I finally accept the fact that we weren't going to see them again then suddenly here they are. :P

    Hmm, hard to say Al. Let's turn to 36 Lessons of Vivec to try.

    Vivec knew that his doubt made him the sword of the Triune and so he did not feel shame or fear. Instead, he explained and these are the words:

    'Can a member of the Invisible Gate become so archaic that its successor is not so much an improvement of the exact model, but rather a related model that is just needed more because of the currency of the world's condition? As the Mother, you do not have to worry, unless things in the future are so strange that even Seht cannot understand. Neither does the Executioner or the Fool, but I am neither.

    'These ideals are not going to change in nature, even though they may change in representation. But, even in the west, the Rainmaker vanishes. No one needs him anymore.

    'Can one oust the model not because the model is set according to an ideal but because it is tied to an ever-changing unconscious mortal agenda?'
    This is what was said to Ayem when Vivec was whole. The wise shall not mistake this.

    Ayem said, 'This is why you were born of a netchiman's wife and destined to merge with the simulacrum of your mother, gilled and blended in all the arts of the star-wounded East, under water and in fire and in metal and in ash, six times the wise, to became the union of male and female, the magic hermaphrodite, the martial axiom, the sex-death of language and unique in all the middle world.'
    Vivec knew then why he would record his Book of Hours.

    This sermon is forbidden.
    In this world and others EIGHTEEN less one (the victor) is the magical disk, hurled to reach heaven by violence.
    This sermon is untrue.
    The ending of the world is ALMSIVI.