(apologies for the thumbnail, I don't have a way of transferring screenshots to my computer)
The Battle Priest
Any race would be lore-friendly, but Bretons have a high resistance to magic and High Elves gain more Magicka at the start of the game, so those two would be optimal.
: The Mage Stone, then the Lord Stone for extra defense
The Companions, the College of Winterhold, the Dawnguard, the Blades
Long ago, you were a mercenary. A damn good one too; no foe could ever survive more than a single blow of your warhammer. Where you went or how many skulls you crushed is irrelevant; there is not a single memory from that period in your mind. You only remember the Great War, and the opportunities that it presented. Not the side you fought for, or the causes you believed in; only the slaughter and the blood. But even with the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, the war has not ended for you; when seeing the ashen remains of the village you once called home, you swung your warhammer in a suicidal rampage through Cyrodiil. Criminals, Imperials, Elves... it did not matter. Only when you were bested by a mighty champion did you stop, just barely crawling your way out of the fight. That was when she found you.
At first, you did not know who she was. She had no name, and no titles. All you were aware of is that she wanted you to live. Why, you did not know; although there was no peace in your almost-death, there was a sense of satisfaction. As soon as you were ready, you headed back out into the world, but only after a disastrous encounter with a Land Dreugh did you realize that swinging your mighty weapon was no longer an option. Once again, you were saved by the mysterious woman, who dispatched the creature in a graceful fashion. You learned her name then; Arella, Priestess of Mara, a wandering healer who nurtured all she could find. For fifteen years you train under her, travelling wherever she goes and being taught not only the arts of healing, but of the blade and shield as well. The priestess held her secrets, and you did not question them. Her knowledge of Restoration and Illusion spells in order to help others was unparalleled, and your nomadic adventures were optimal for reflection on your past acts.
But one day, as you aided a patrol of lost farmers, a Thalmor patrol ambushed you. Arella put up a great fight, but ultimately, she could not win; you watched from afar, returning from your wood-collecting trip, as their captain sliced her head off with his blade. On that day, you decided that no longer would you merely wander through the world, helping those who came to you. You would seek out those who would need help, and aid them through whatever means necessary.
The War Priest's travels eventually take them to Skyrim, where they are captured amidst a Civil War struggle and taken to Helgen. There, they are freed by the commencement of the Dragon Crisis, and escape with a Stormcloak Soldier named Ralof. From there, you set off to enhance your skills, through trying tests of combat and knowledge. In the library of Winterhold, you find lost texts that reveal Arella's identity as one of the Blades, and thus lend your help to the remains of the organization with your newfound knowledge as Harbinger of the Companions and the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold. Eventually, you also hear of the Vampire threat and lend your skills to the Dawnguard in order to eradicate the fiends. Finally, you also decide to investigate rumors of another Dragonborn on the island of Solstheim, and eventually free it from Miraak's evil influence.
The Black Star:
The Battle Priest helps Azura in restoring her shrine for multiple reasons. Firstly, Azura's star would be an invaluable asset in his Enchanting endeavours, which would then help them more effectively aid others. Secondly, Azura is one of the "good" Daedric Princes, and thus helping her would not morally trouble the Battle Priest. Thirdly, Azura is known to represent change, which is something very important in the Battle Priest's life after his years with Arella.
The Break of Dawn:
The Battle Priest helps Meridia for pretty obvious reasons: they hate the undead (who, to them, represent mindless killing and violence), and Meridia is all about beating the hell out of them. This quest also helps prevent an army of undead from marching upon Skyrim, so the Battle Priest will do their best to help Meridia end this threat.
The Battle Priest mainly utilizes spells from two schools of magicka: Illusion and Restoration.
Healing>Fast Healing>Close Wounds
: Very basic, self-healing spells.
Healing Hands>Heal Other/Heal Undead:
One of the most important spells. It allows the Battle Priest to heal their allies. Heal Undead should be taken specifically if their follower is undead and would not be affected by Heal Other.
Turn Lesser Undead/Turn Undead/Turn Greater Undead:
These spells allow the Battle Priest to help their allies by giving them less enemies to worry about at a time.
Vampire's Bane (optional):
A spell that's used to deal quick damage against large groups of undead and can provide decent cover fire to followers and allies.
A spell that greatly heals the Battle Priest and their followers, great to use in a pinch.
Guardian Circle (optional):
An insanely powerful spell that depends on a glitch to be effectively used. If playing as a Breton or using the Atronach Stone for Absorb Magicka effects, standing inside the spell will regenerate the Battle Priest's magicka more quickly, as the healing is seen as a spell. Don't use if you don't like abusing the game's engine's mistakes.Courage/Rally:
The most basic Illusion spells the Battle Priest has, they are used to strengthen allies to help them survive.
These spells help with controlling enemies and helping take pressure off of the Battle Priest's allies. Pacify will neutralize enemies, Frenzy will cause enemies to begin attacking each other, and Rout will cause enemies to flee. All can be used in order to keep the number of enemies attacking the Priest and their companion small.Oakflesh/Stoneflesh/Ironflesh (optional):
One of the few Alteration spells used, these can increase the Battle Priest's armor and give them more survivability, although they are mostly useful at the start of the game.
Agent of Mara
Your first priority in order to get the build started is to find a good follower. This is a follower that:
-Uses close-combat techniques as opposed to ranged damage
-Can effectively kill enemies and deal high damage (if they trade defense for more offense, even
-Can keep up with your progress and benefit from your spells.
Here are a few suggestions:
Frea is an easy choice. She has no level limit, meaning that she can be incredibly strong at higher levels. She dual wields, which is great, as it maximizes her damage output. She is essential, meaning she won't die even if you mess up big time, and she can even heal herself, allowing you to also level up your combat skills. Do mind that because she has no level cap, her base stats are a bit low, so you might want to use someone else while you're lower leveled.
Frea can be found in Solstheim, at the Temple of Miraak. She becomes available after the quest "The Fate of the Skaal". Be aware that she requires a speech check to be hired; I don't actually know the required level to convince her as I had Speech 100 at the time I used her, but I would assume it's somewhere in the 50 range.
While Jenassa is amazing at and somewhat prefers archery, she also very commonly charges into battle. Much like Frea, she can dual wield, maximizing offensive potential. Jenassa, being a hireling, also has very strong base stats, and can be a beast early into the game. Very solid choice as soon as you have enough money to hire her.
Jenassa can be found in the Drunken Huntsman, a tavern in Whiterun. She will be sitting on a chair in a small alcove into the wall, wearing leather armor.
Stenvar specializes in two-handed weapons and heavy armor. That means he can pack quite a punch, and take some hits too. He will attack rather slowly, however, so spells like Rally are very useful to give him some autonomy while you dispatch of ranged enemies he has troubles dealing with.
Stenvar can be found in the second floor of Candlehearth Hall, the inn in Windhelm.
Of course, any followers similar to these are good. Once again, followers with strong close-ranged attack are preferred. Defense is somewhat unimportant, as they will be taken care of by your healing and illusion spells.
Since the Battle Priest has powerful Enchanting abilities, they will be able to craft gear with specific enchantments. Do note that you should feel free to power level Smithing and/or Alchemy in order to improve these pieces of armor and attain maximum armor rating; but it is recommended you only do that at high levels, and instead simply purchase the best armor available at the time. These choices are for aesthetic purposes mostly (in my defense, the Dragonplate Helmet looks really gross).
Your main goal when enchanting is to minimize the cost of your spells, and ideally completely negate them. This allows you to cast healing spells often, thus keeping your followers alive almost indefinitely, and to cast illusion spells without pause, commanding the battlefield.
Steel Plate Helmet:
Fortify Illusion & Fortify Restoration.
Fortify Illusion & Fortify Restoration
Fortify One-Handed & Fortify Health
Fortify One-Handed & Fortify Stamina
Fortify Illusion & Fortify Restoration
Fortify Illusion & Fortify Restoration
or Dawnguard Rune Axe
The strategy with this character is really simple: make your follower beat the hell out of everything, and assist as needed. Early on, this means casting healing & courage spells at them from time to time and trying to divert enemy attention from them to you. Late game, this strategy still holds, but now you can use your vast array of illusion and restoration spells to instead target the enemy, causing them to scatter and turn on each other. Given your follower is properly equipped, they should be able to tear through even the hardest of bandits. Against boss enemies like Legendary Dragons, the Ebony Warrior and Karstaag, it's probably wiser to instead focus on keeping yourself alive and keeping the enemy's attention away from your follower, and leaving them to do their thing.
is insanely good for this strategy. It stores charges whenever it blocks a hit, and every five charges it gains one stage of the "Unrelenting Force" shout. This means that planting yourself like a tree and letting enemies try in vain to break your defence while your allies tear through them is a valuable strategy, and you can later use this ability to neutralize stronger enemies like Bandit Chiefs, Nightmaster Vampires and Dragon Priests, sometimes killing them outright.
is great thematically, and it also looks really cool. Its fire damage is very helpful early game, as it is not resisted by many enemies, but later on it becomes more of a stylistic choice. The unique spell is extremely good against large groups of undead, and can tear through Nordic Ruins early game. However, it's uselessness in any other situation and the weapon's base damage of 12 can become rather lackluster late game, which is why I give you the option to instead use the...
Dawnguard Rune Axe,
also known as the Breaker of Games. This weapon gains Sun Damage every time you kill an undead, and it resets this enchantment every sunrise... or at least it's supposed to. As it stands, one or two undead killing rampages can maximize this and increase the damage to +100 Sun Damage, an astounding number that is extremely overpowered during the early game and still very strong during late game (in comparison, optimal enchanting setups often yield around 70 damage on elemental enchantments, and that requires a lot of time spent leveling skills and allocating points). The weapon also has the added bonus of looking better than most axes (although not as good as Dawnbreaker), which is pretty cool. This axe is especially good at killing undead, but it also fits thematically due to the whole sun damage thing.
Let's address the elephant in the room. Is this build optimal?
You would gain much more benefit by just investing into being a super powerful warrior with good self-healing spells and letting your followers smack things around. By the time you can crank out weapons with insane damage, your follower doesn't need any additional help. However, especially on legendary difficulty, this is still helpful. Its main benefit comes from the roleplaying as a very good character, an archetype that is used surprisingly uncommonly in my experience (I have to thank the abundance of Barbarian and Assassin builds for that). Just being nice to people can make your experience a lot better.
Or you can use your holy powers to walk into Whiterun, quicksave, and then slaughter every citizen. I won't judge you.