Every time your character ‘levels up’ past 50, you get a champion point. My understanding is advancement is pretty linear until 600 champion points, then it gets much harder and slower. This is an account wide statistic. Even your fresh noob toon at level 1 has champion points.
You can respec champion points anywhere by opening up the champion point box and paying the 3000 gold to respec. When you respect you can adjust existing allocations up or down, and when you confirm that is your new allocation. It does not wipe the assignments on respec.
Cyrodiil has champion point and no champion point versions. If you go with the champion point version, you will likely face people near the high end of the champion point system. My understanding is gearing is more important in the no champion point system.
You spend champion points on perks. There are 3 categories, Red, Green, and Blue. You divide your total champion points by 3, and that is how many you can spend per color. There are 3 celestial symbols per color, and sometimes these are themed along the lines of say tanking or magicka DPS, or stamina DPS.
Each symbol has tiered abilities. If you spend enough points in that symbol, you unlock the tiered ability. There are tiers at 10, 30, 75, and 120 points spent. If you take those tiers and multiply by 3, you get break points for champion builds for tier unlocks, IE 30CP means you can unlock a 10 point tier in each color, 90CP unlocks the 30tier, 225CP unlocks the 75point tier, and 360CP unlocks the 120pt tier.
Each symbol has 4 perks you can spend in. These perks either are unlimited (U) or more typically face diminishing returns. You can only spend 100 points per perk, and at that 100 points you get he maximum value.
Unlimited perks have a flat increase per point without diminishing returns. If you are happy with 75% max on all the other stuff, then dump all remaining points into unlimited perks. There is no rolloff. The real question is what percentage of max are you happy with.
For a diminishing return category, you get less bang for your buck as you spend more points. Here are some guidelines for DIMINISHING RETURNS perks:
13 points spent gives you 25% max value
29 points spent gives you 50% max value
50 points spent gives you 75% max value
69 points spent gives you 90% max value
So to get that last 10% of the perk, you would need to spend 31 points, which would get you 50% max value on something else.
Thus the basic strategy for champion points goes something like this. Decide what tier abilities within a color you really want. If none of them seem that hot, then consider what perks within the symbols give you valuable attributes for your build and spend them there.
Alcast has 300, 600, and 800 champion point builds. I think these correspond to gear gates, IE if you hit 300CP, you get access to a new tier of gear?
I have made these notes for reference to know what is where in the champion tree without having to open up the planner and skip around. I used the ESO builder to determine what the maximum percentages are. So something that is listed as (25%) has a maximum benefit of 25%, and you would have 12.5% at half maximum (29points spent). Tiers are listed first for the symbol (eg The Steed), then the perks listed (eg Ironclad) with the max in parenthesis if it is diminishing returns, and what the effect is. The board will mangle my formatting so sorry if it is hard to read. I tried to clean it up, but it did not work.
A. The Steed
10 20% to heal for 437 health on bash
30 phys + spell resist 660 for 3s after dodge
75 heal for 87 when take a crit
120 1254 dmg shield for 3s after blocking,
Ironclad (25%) less damage from DD’s
Spell Shield (U) increase spell resistance
Resistant (U) increase critical resistance
Medium Armor (U) increase physical resistance 5pcs med
B. The Lady
10 restore 3465 magicka when take flame, frost, shock, magic or obliv dmg 30% of health max
30 if shield or frost staff equipped spell + phys res = 1500
75 heal for 330 health on crit, internal cd 5s
120 -80% cost on next stamina ability after break free
Thick Skinned (25%) DoT damage reduction
Light Armor (U) increase phys resistance 5pcs light
Hardy (15%) phys/pois/disease damage reduction
Elemental Def (15%) flame/frost/shock/magicka damage reduction
C. The Lord
10 -15% dmg taken while ressurecting a player
30 increase ressurected players magicka recovery by 159 for 8s
75 when you are ressurected gain 10230 dmg shield for 5s
120 dmg shield for 1287 for 15s after you drink a pot
Heavy Armor (U) increase phys resistance 5pcs heavy
Quick Recov (15%) increase healing received
Bastion (25%) increase effectiveness of your damage shields
Expert Defend (35%) reduce damage from light/heavy attacks
A. The Tower
10 33% chance to reduce enemies movement by 20% for 3s after bash
30 20% inspiration gain
75 heal allies within 8m for 3300 after you die
120 removes all stamina costs on mount outside of combat
Sprinter (35%) reduces cost of sprint
Siphoner (15%) decrease h/s/m rec of targ for 3s after light/heavy
Bashing Focus (35%) reduce cost of bash
Warlord (25%) reduce cost of break free
B. The Lover
10 10% chance of double yield from resource nodes
30 2U on synergy
75 -50% gathering time
120 +2% move/mount speed AND +10% h/m recovery while sprinting
Healthy (15%) increase health recovery
Mooncalf (15%) increase stamina recovery
Arcanist (15%) increase magicka recovery
Tenacity (15%) increase m/s restored by heavy attacks
C. The Shadow
10 +50% gold in chests and safeboxes
30 -10% repair costs
75 increase quality of items in treasure chests
120 become invis for 2.5s, 5s internal CD, when you kill with heavy
Tumbling (25%) reduce cost dodge roll
Shadow Ward (25%) reduce cost of block
Befoul (55%) improve healing reduction abilities
Shade (35%) reduce cost of sneak
A. The Apprentice
10 after blocking 3 times in 10s, next magicka ability w/in 5s crits
30 9% spell critical
75 -80% cost on next magicka ability used within 7s of drinking pot
120 20% chance restore 795m to 3friends w/in 2.5m after kill
Elemental Exper (15%) increase flame/frost/shock/magic damage
Blessed (15%) increase healing done
Elfborne (25%) increase damge/heal on crit for magicka abilites
Spell Erosion (U) increase spell penetration
B. The Atronarch
10 30% increased light attack damage after you block a heavy
30 15% chance to deal 396phys on block, 5s internal CD
75 5% increased light/heavy damage to enemies below 25% health
120 when you roll dodge an attack, attacker is off balance
Shattering Blow (25%) increase damage done to damage shielded enemies
Phys Wpn Expert (35%) increase light/heavy non-staff and WW damage
Master of Arms (25%) increase dmg done with direct damage attacks
Staff Expert (35%) increase light/heavy staff damage
C. The Ritual
10 15% dmg on next phys damage ability after interrupt within 7s
30 9% weapon critical
75 10% dmg on off balance enemies
120 get 3U/1.5s for 8s when less than 20% health, 20s internal cd
Precise Strikes (25%) increase dmg/heal of stamina abilities on crit
Piercing (U) increase physical penetration
Thaumaturge (25%) increase DoT damage
Mighty (15%) increase phys/pois/disease damage
My stamina using murdering and thieving Kajit Nightblade has 310 champion points. This means 310/3 = 103 points or so per tree. I can access a 75 point perk, or 3 30-point perks. At champion level 315, I will be able to do one 75 perk and another 30.
Start with the RED symbols of The Steed, The Lady, and The Lord. The Steed perks seem centered around mostly tanking functions like blocking or taking criticals. The 30pt tier has a resist on dodge that might help. I hardly bash either, since I am either at range or popping in and out of sneak via Shadowy Cloak. There are some good defensive perks in the line though, and it is the medium armor line. The Lady has tiers with magicak recovery, heal when you crit, and stamina savings after break free, but nothing special. It is a light armor line, which does not suit my stamina Nightblade. But there are some good defensives. The Lord is the heavy armor line, with tier abilities revolving around resurrecting other players or being resurrected, neither of which I spend a lot of time doing. Perks are almost all tank related. So for my Nightblade I would likely split between The Steed and The Lady, with maybe 30pts in The Steed to get the dodge tier, and 75 in the Lady to get heal on crit. Most of the unlimited stuff is in The Steed, so maybe really high CP levels would have more in that line. I would likely evenly spread until the 75% point on Ironclad, then park that one and continue with the others. For the lady I would skip light armor, and split between thick skinned, hardy and elemental until the 75% point on each. The only thing from The Lord might be appoints into Expert Defender at a very late game stage.
So in RED I would go 75 in Lady with 25 Thick Skinned, Hardy, and Elemental Defender. THe remaining 28 would be in The Steed spread evenly 7each in Ironclad, Spell Shield, Resistant, and Medium armor.
For the green line, there are some very interesting tier choices. Tower has 20% inspiration (crafting xp) at 30, and zero stamina (noncombat) cost on mounts at 120. All the traits in Lover are good, with gathering traits at the 10 and 75 point tier, 2U on synergy at 30pts, and increased mount speed/run speed and better sprinting. The shadow has increased treasure yield at the 10 and 75pt tiers. Since I am thieving, that would help a lot. Until I am maxxed in crafting, the inspiration from The Tower would be good (I pick this on crafting alts all the time). Perks from The Tower are not that useful to me though, with only Warlord being helpful (reduced break free cost). All the perks in The Lover are really useful, and I would definitely spread across all of them. The shadow has reduced dodge roll (Tumbling) and reduced sneak (Shade).
So in Green I would go 30 points in The Tower with all 30 in Warlord to unlock inspiration gain (for crafting). THe remaining 73 would go into The Shadow with maybe 29 in Shade for sneak cost, and 44 in Tumbling for dodge roll. I would take this as I level up to 75 to unlock the chest tier, then start dumping points into The Lover.
For the blue line, one immediately sees The Apprentice as the magicka user line, and is largely useless for me. The only cool tier from Atronarch is the 120 roll dodge one. The Ritual has a nice juicy 9% weapon critical at 30, and a solid 10% dmg on off balance which happens all the time in my build, so at least 75points there
So for Blue I would go 75pts into The Ritual split evenly between precise strikes, piercing, and mighty. I do not do much DoT damage in my present build. For the Atronarch, I would put the remaining 28 split evenly between Master of Arms and Phys Weapon Expert. Shattering blow is something to think about at much higher levels.