The Assassins Modding Guide
Some of you may have been around the vault in 2016 when a series of archetype based mod spotlights called the "Build a Better...." series was unveiled. The basic premise of that series and this is to point you in the direction of the right mods to enrich your experience playing various character archetypes and classes.
With this series of Modding Guides I hope to not only simply recommend a list of fitting weapons, armor, and spells, but also offer gameplay advice that, combined with these suggested mods, will create a much more immersive and enjoyable experience. For easier navigation let's break this down into the field skills any assassin worth his salt will need to get the job done.
What I strive to help you produce with the Assassin's Modding Guide is a game-play experience that achieves a greater sense of realism not unlike Assassin's Creed. An experience that lets you go beyond the vanilla games clunky limitations. And without further delay we start with...
- Tracking Your Target....
Its all about the journey rather than the destination as they say, and its as true with assassinations as it is with anything else worth doing. But the enjoyment and challenge of seeking out your target amidst a sea of innocent bystanders is ruined by a number of standard game features and vanilla Skyrim limitations. To sum it up, tiny populations within cities and a quest marker take all the fun away.
- Remove Quest Markers & Enemies From Compass - One could simply turn off quest markers on their own, but the temptation to turn it on again to find your way is always present. Now you have no choice but to track your target using nothing but your wits and skills. And for added measure enemies will no longer appear on your compass forcing you to watch your back. This mod goes exceptionally well with
- Better Quest Objectives - A mod which gives you much more information on your objectives to reduce your reliance on quest markers.
- People Are Strangers - Realistically speaking if you were going to kill a total stranger you've never met, they wouldnt exactly be walking around the city with a name tag. People Are Straners is a great immersion mod that eliminates your ability to instantly know an NPC's name when you place your cursor over them. This mod also seamlessly affects NPCs introduced by other mods. With this mod NPCs are all given generic titles until you've spoken to them. Combined with the aforementioned mods, you'll have to be a skilled tracker to find your target. Accompanying this mod is....
- Address Unknown - This mod removes all text on doors which would indicate ownership. With this mod no longer can you instantly figure out who the owner of the house is. Meaning if you're going to, for example, kill your victim in his own home, you wont be able to simply find his house inside of 3 seconds and wait for him there. In addition, information of lock strength is removed, meaning if a door lock has to be picked you'll no longer have any idea how advanced the lock is.
- Population mods - Populated Cities, Randomly Generated Townsfolk - These mods will greatly add to the sparsely populated cities of Skyrim. More NPCs means tracking down your target becomes a much more difficult and rewarding challenge.
- Guess the Distance - This mod allows you to gain tactical intelligence on your target by scouting them from a distance. Information such as their estimated level, distance, and more can be gleaned from scouting and the accuracy will be based on distance from the target. Scout your enemies from even farther away with the Telescope mod.
- Improved Stealth AI for Followers - A simple mod that improves the stealth AI of almost all followers, to include those introduced by mods. Enemies will put out their torches when sneaking, generally try to stay out of sight, and they dont rush immediately into combat while enemies search for you.
- Lurking in the Shadows ....
Many players complain that stealth is too easy in Skyrim. Others complain its not varied enough. In either case a patrolling enemy will quickly abandon their search for that unknown assailant who plugged an arrow into the back of their skull. With heavy investment into sneak enemies will lose sight of you in broad daylight in an open field. The goal of these mods is to bring a sense of realism to the art of stealth.
- Immersive Detection of NPCs - The bread and butter of this mod group. This mod overhauls how NPC stealth detection works in a way that makes absolutely critical to take into account factors such as time of day, lighting, surrounding noise and weather. Detection proficiency of all NPCs and enemies are tweaked to be more realistic (ex. NPCs rely more on sight during the day and sound during the night). Certain creature types are drastically tweaked to fit more in line with what they are (Falmer can no longer inexplicably see you despite lore stating they're all blind)
- Hidespots - A very clever mod that allows you to use the numerous barrels and boxes etc that you encounter in the world as hiding spots. As of this mods most recent update you're able to assassinate enemies as they approach your hiding spot.
- Armor Disguises - No doubt you've roleplayed disguising yourself as a guard or a noble to gain access to a location. And no doubt when you did you were disappointed to know that nothing changes when you do. With this mod you will now be recognized as a member of the faction you're attempting to infiltrate. This works for Hold Guards, Imperials, Stormcloaks, Forsworn, Thalmor, Bandits, and Necromancers. Two perks in the sneak tree will govern how effective your disguise is. If you attack a member of the faction or blow your cover you will be attacked. The roleplay potential with this mod is huge and provides the perfect way for a clever assassin to get close to their target.
- More Lush & Resized Plants & Grass- You might be wondering what a grass mod is doing here. But with this mod all grass and plants are resized to be much larger in size and thickness creating fields of grass tall enough to duck down and hide in - Perfect for a stealthy killer out in the wilderness stalking their prey. Excellent for bringing a sense of realism to skulking around in a large open field.
- Sneak Tools - This mod aims to improve stealth game-play by adding new tools and game-play options to give the player more control and more things to do when sneaking, instead of only being able to slowly walk around and hope no-one detects you. Some of the things you can do include knocking out your opponent, climbing ropes, and disguising yourself with a face mask.
- Climates of Tamriel - Never mind the revamped weather effects. This mod gives you the option to make all interiors and nights darker, which is great considering how unrealistically well lit most interiors are. Darker nights and interiors make hiding in the shadows feel much more like actually hiding in the shadows.
Making the Kill ....
The best part of all of the planning and positioning is of course finally making the kill. Silent and clean, or loud and gory, there are many ways an assassin can deliver a soul to Sithis. The goal of these mods is to enhance your favorite method of spilling blood whatever they may be.
- Deadly Mutilation - Dismemberment Blood & Gore - This mod’s main goal is to give Skyrim's combat a more visceral and terrifying look without interfering with the game's mechanics - Only gory visual eye candy here. Make NPCs die in various ways depending on the cause of the death. Feel the power in your weapon: dismember, decapitate, eviscerate. Spill blood of your enemies, make them scream out of pain, spread their intestines and brains all over the place. Burn them to charred corps, freeze into ice block and smash in pieces. Cause terrible wounds, convulsions, head explosion or calcify with lightning.
- Violens - A Kill Move Mod - Allows you complete control over your ranged and melee kill move. Which kill moves are executed, last enemy restrictions, camera angle and more can all be controlled through the mods MCM menu. Fully compatible with Deadly Mutilation
- Deadly Headshots - Here's something for all the sneak archer fans out there. Nothing breaks immersion quite like turning your targets head into a pin cushion only to see them fight on like nothings happened. Deadly Headshots adds a deadly significant damage bonus when striking an opponent's head with ranged weapons and spells. This mod also adds a lesser power called "Deadly Focus" which acts much like the Eagle Eye perk, allowing you to slow time and focus on a head shot. This mod works fairly well despite being in the Beta stage, although the author cautions those with low FPS from using this mod.
- Stealth Kills for Followers - This mod enabled your follower to execute stealth kills. Whenever you and your follower are both sneaking you will be able to command your follower to take down an enemy silently, but only if they have a dagger or sword in their right hand. The beauty of this mod is finally giving assassins a fun reason to take along a follower.
- Spell Sneak Attacks 2 - For the assassin who prefers to kill with spells rather than more conventional methods. This mod enables spells to benefit from sneak attack perks as well as the shrouded hand wraps/gloves the same way that blades and arrows do.
- Two-Handed Sneak Attack Perks - For those who prefer heavy weapons over lighter, quicker blades. This mod adds 2 new perks to the sneak tree which allow more critical damage to be done with two handed weapons. The mod is balanced to offer better sneak attack damage for two handed weapons without overtaking more preferable assassin weapons like 1 handed swords and daggers.
- Sneak Attack - Heartbeat Sound FX - A simple mod that replaces that dumb clunking sound from sneak attacks with a more dramatic heart beat sound effect.
- No Sneak Attack Sound - Perhaps even the sound of a heart beat is too unrealistic for your tastes. Here is a mod that mutes the sound made by a sneak attack entirely.
Crime & Punishment ......
Any list of mods aimed at making murder more entertaining wouldn't be complete without upping the stakes on the law side of the coin. The way crime is implemented in Skyrim is quite simply put, a joke. There is little point to employing stealth or secrecy when the penalty for cold blooded murder is a pitiful 1000 gold.
Life in Prison - This mod ends the slap on the wrist you'd usually get for cold blooded murder. Each witnessed murder now incurs a 10,000 gold bounty, jail sentences have been increased dramatically and the menu option to auto serve your jail sentence is now gone - You must live out your sentence. The mod adds a separate prison courtyard which may be visited once per day. Escape from prison is still an option, and with this mod you may want to seriously consider it.
Suspicious City Guards- With this mod city guards will follow you if you do anything suspicious. Suspicious acts include sneaking, loitering in certain spots and brandishing spells and/or weapons. If a guard is watching you, you will incur a temporary de-buff to your sneaking ability making you easier to detect. Killing someone in the streets without getting caught just got a lot harder.
Extra Guards - Pairs well with the previous mod. More guards means more security and more eyes watching out for any would be killer. This mod adds anywhere from 200-400 guards spread across all holds, cities, and settlements in Skyrim. Extra guards on duty also means brute forcing your way past the law will be much harder.
Quests & Adventures .....
- The Sinister Seven - The Sinister Seven introduces 7 deadly assassins out for blood - Your blood. Why are they here? Who sent them and why do they want you dead? All questions left unanswered to give the player complete roleplay freedom. Each assassin has their own unique combat tactics and will mount an impressive challenge. They begin their hunt for you at pre determined player levels which can be set in the MCM. What I like this about this mod is that it introduces a sort of hunter or hunted scenario you dont see much of in Skyrim.
- Better Assassins - Perhaps you're not a member of the brotherhood but rather a freelance assassin on his own. You've angered somebody and now they Brotherhood has been tasked with killing you, but the assassin they've sent is a rank amateur who can be spotted sneaking a mile away and wont put up a much better fight than the average bandit. Better Assassins changes all that and makes these assassin encounters far more dangerous and terrifying. Now assassins will hunt you in pairs, start out the encounter with invisibility, will use all manner of poisons, and will attempt to flank you.
- Dark Brotherhood for Good Guys - Some assassins need a motive to kill their targets and the vanilla DB quest is devoid of any information on why anyone wants any of the targets you're made to go after dead. This mod introduces letters, journals and more detailed quest information regarding your targets
- Save the Dark Brotherhood - This mod offers you a chance to save your brethren during the Dark Brotherhood quest 'Death Incarnate'. As you fight your way through the burned sanctuary you are able to help your fellow assassins with healing spells/potions rather than helplessly watch ruthless highly trained killers get mowed down by rank and file soldiers. All saved members are relocated to the Dawnstar Sanctuary along with Babette and Nazir, and are also available as followers.
- Dark Brotherhood Reborn - Dawnstar Sanctuary - Makes a drastic change to the end result of sinking 20,00 septims into the new sanctuary, only to end up with a miserable hovel that doesnt even have enough beds for everyone. This mod offers a complete visual overhaul of the sanctuary worthy of the killer who slew an emperor. 3 new Dark Brotherhood NPCs are also added to the sanctuary, and two of them may be recruited as followers.
And there you have it, a list of mods that will hopefully enrich your experiences as an assasssin in Skyrim. I didnt go into armor or weapons because I feel like theres countless routes one could go. Some like to be conspicuous, others like to blend in and appear harmless until they strike. If you have any questions on these mods be sure to ask below in the discussion.
Now get out there and murder someone!