Among the massive amount of character builds possible in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, one of the most fun has got to be the assassin. With other assassin-themed titles in the shelves right now, many gamers would want to play a stealthy death machine in Skyrim, and it’s definitely possible, especially with the Dark Brotherhood. The assassin build offers a unique gameplay experience in Skyrim and it’s recommended to try it at least once.
This guide shall detail the various aspects of this build, including the best races choose from and skills to level up throughout the game, as well as the quests you need to do in order to become a fully fledged assassin. Take note that due to the nature of the TES system, especially in this iteration, Most of the serious character building is on the topic of perks. Everything else is freeform in that you can level up other skills as you wish. Just remember to keep your core skills higher than those other ones since enemies can be level scaled to being complete monsters if you power level the wrong way.
In the end, it’s absolutely alright to make an Orc or Nord assassin, something that may not be optimal but still possible. However, if you really want to optimize your build and make the best assassin you can ever get your hands on in Skyrim, then there are three main choices that you can go for.
+10 Sneak, +5 Alchemy, One-Handed, Archery, Lockpicking, Pickpocket
Night Eye: Improved night vision for 60 seconds.
Claws: Khajiit claws do 15 points of damage.
Since sneak is the primary skill for the assassin, the Khajiit is a natural choice. The rest of the bonuses are also great since they’re all compatible with Sneak. The bonus to Alchemy is quite nice too since you can make stuff like potions of invisibility and various others that fortify your skills. Night Eye is something that can really help you if you’re sneaking in a dark place. Finally, you will always have your claws as backup when things get really hairy.
Wood Elf (Bosmer)
+10 Achery, +5 Alchemy, Light Armor, Sneak, Lockpicking, Pickpocket
Command Animal: Make an animal an ally for 60 seconds.
Resist Disease and Poison: Your Bosmer blood gives you 50% resistance to poison and disease.
Another good choice for assassin, the Wood Elf is the best sniper in the game. If you like taking your enemies out from a distance, then you have an initial bonus here. You also get a bonus on Light Armore instead of One-Handed, which is a fair enough trade-off. Other than that, this is basically similar with the Khajiit build, even though the playing style will have one major difference. If you are being terrorized by some angry enemies who were not fooled by your sneaky ways, then you can get some nearby animals to serve as meat shields and cannon fodder.
+10 Lockpicking, +5 Restoration, Alteration, Light Armor, Sneak, Pickpocket
Histskin: Invoke the power of the Hist to recover health ten times faster for 60 seconds.
Resist Disease: Your Argonian blood is 50% resistant to disease.
Water Breathing: Your Argonian Lungs can breath underwater.
If you’re looking for an assassin that can survive virtually anywhere, then the Argonian should do well for you. This race has bonuses for the basic thieving skills, especially Lockpicking, so you can get rich pretty quick with this. The bonuses on restoration and alteration, as well as the racial traits are fit for all-around adventuring. If you’re going for the James Bond style underwater infiltration, then you should choose Argonian.
Whatever race you may pick, the skill trees you need to prioritize on are mostly the same, save for the choice between One-Handed and Archery when you choose something like a Wood Elf. You’ll be focusing mostly on the perks of Sneak, wherein you can get both the sneak attack bonuses and various other perks that help with you being harder to detect. The damage multipliers make it very easy to kill difficult enemies who are unaware of your presence. The Shadow Warrior perk turns you into a ghost in plain sight, so you can backstab almost anyone.
But even with these perks, it’s important to not go overly gung-ho just because you’re crouching down. Even if you’re the master of stealth, you still have to walk slowly and hug walls and dark corners to achieve the best effect. Also, you won’t be sneaking anywhere while wearing heavy armor, so you best wear light armor as an assassin. Once you have the Assassin’s Blade perk, you can use a dagger to deliver x15 damage, which is tremendous and should be used often. That in turn increases your Sneak even more.
The Archery skills is great for snipers since you get perks like zoom-ins and stuff. When you get Paralysis, you can stun whoever you hit, so you can do some good crowd control from afar when dealing with mobs. You can then back off and stay hidden when they get suspicious and start looking for you, then you can continue picking them off. Archery is a very good way to eliminate targets, although not ideal for tight spaces due to sneak attack damage bonus only reaching up to x3, so still keep a dagger handy.
Alchemy is a good choice for a number of reasons. The most obvious use for it is for brewing potions and poisons that you can use during quests. You also get to level it up along with Speech, which is very helpful with selling items and earning gold from Tonilia of the Thieves Guild and other merchants. It can also help you with certain quests, so it’s one of those good supplementary skills.
Although magic isn’t required to be a good assassin, using Illusion is worth it since it has spells like Muffle and Invisibility, which are obviously good for stealth. On the other hand, Alteration includes Detect Life and Paralyze, which can be useful in infiltration missions. Becoming a Vampire is also another good way to be a good assassin due to various bonuses and powers. Enchanting and Smithing may be other skills that you want, although that’s up to your own discretion. They do let you get better equipment though, so it’s not too bad.
- Light Armor
Everything, especially the sneak attack bonuses.
You don’t really need these when you do decide to get the Skeleton Key, but Treasure Hunter is quite handy.
Night Thief, Extra Pockets, and Poisoned are very useful.
Everything, especially Unhindered and Wind Walker.
If you’re a sniper, get everything; especially Eagle Eye, Steady Hand, and Bullseye.
Only one needed here is Armsman for damage. Get dual wielding if you confront enemies a lot.
If you make potions a lot, you may delve in this skill tree, especially Poisoner and Concentrated Poisoner.
These are helpful for Muffle and Invisibility, but you don’t need Illusion Dual Casting. Go for Silent Casting if you’re heavy on the magic.
You don’t need Alteration Dual Casting or Mage Armor. If you do get perks here, take only those that will use Detect Life and Paralyze.
Perks here are generally useful for the game, but only get them if you really want to. Bribery and Fence are good for thieves.