Character Build: Riften's Most Wanted

Hello and welcome to another classic Raidriar and Curse Never Dying collab. A long time ago Raid and I released this build as part of a character building contest. The theme of the contest was Holds of Skyrim. Every entry was to embody at least one hold in Skyrim. For our entry we chose Riften, and with crime being the first thing people think of when you mention that place, we knew exactly what we wanted to do. So without further delay, here's the contest entry that blew every other entry out of the water and took first place without so much as breaking a sweat. .....

“Lets make a deal. Click the ‘like’ button at the top of this page, and you won’t end up sleepin with the fishes.”

“Headed to Riften, eh?  Well, you won’t find a more beautiful city in all of Skyrim. Its the perfect place to call home, really -- At least that’s what I would be saying if the city wasn’t a cesspool of corruption….

The Black-Briar’s own this city, friend, and lemme tell you thats a name you don’t ever wanna cross. They got this entire city in their pocket. Might as well be the Daedric plane of lies and greed.

Right, I can see you’re a brave one, or is that stupidity? Sigh, right.... Listen closely. There’s one man you wanna avoid at all costs. They call him “Riften’s Most Wanted” - Maven’s right hand man and the worst criminal scum to ever come outta Riften. You want my advice? Keep your head down, don’t ask questions, and whatever you do don’t be a hero...”


Race: Nord. As a native of Riften we feel Nords are the most fitting racial choice. Battle Cry is a very useful ability early on if you get overwhelmed and in later levels helps you turn the tide.

Stone: Lady Stone. Bashing plays a critical role in the build so a little bit of extra stamina regen goes a long way

Shouts: None! You’re a thief dammit, not a hero.

Stats: 0 Magicka, 1 Health, 2 Stamina. Papa never sent you off to the college to learn all that fancy magic. (Spits) Who needs it anyway? You got your wit, a few tricks, and that bloke you hired to break some kneecaps.

Major Skills: One Handed, Block, Alchemy, Sneak

Minor Skills: Speech, Light Armour

Weapons: Orcish War Axe

Apparel: Blackguard’s Armor, Blackguard’s Gloves, Blackguard’s Boots, Targe of the Blooded

The Build

We set out to create, first and foremost, a dirty fighter. A thug who lacks skill in the arts of pickpocket and lockpicking, who would rather rob your still warm corpse than pick your pockets. A badass mafioso, the lord of the criminal underworld.

Riften’s Most Wanted knows that this is a harsh world; Skyrim is no place for a faint hearted thief. So he always brings along a hired goon to take out foes, or just to provide a distraction. Hirelings work best here, as they have no moral compass whatsoever, and will happily engage in the most savage of crimes by your side. Not to mention they work from a roleplay standpoint, as you’re actually paying these guys money to take hits for you. Our personal favourites were Stenvar and Vorstag, as both are hardy warriors capable of tanking hits. Stock them up with healing potions for extra survivability.

While your hired goon takes the hits, you can be sneaking up behind your opponents, ready to bury an axe in their head. Make use of stagger to get some free hits for yourself and your follower. If the worse comes to the worse, and your follower is down on his knees, remember the golden rule of crime - look after number 1. It’s a harsh world, and Riften’s Most Wanted’s conscience will not mind him abandoning his companion to save his hide.

“Trust me Delvin, we got this contest in the bag. We got all the officials on our side and we took care of the snitches. This Kal shin whatever they call themselves aint got a chance”

Tools of the Trade

The Blackguard Armor Set - This set gives you a very fitting look and comes with quite a few beneficial preset enchantments like carrying capacity. You can get the armor set quite early in your play through as well. Simply follow the thieves guild questline until you’re able to talk with Delvin, Vex, and Brynjolf about the guild’s run of bad luck. Once you’ve done that set sail to Raven rock and talk to Glover Mallory. Completing his quest will earn his trust and give you access to his private storage where you’ll find the Blackguard armor.

Orcish Axe - We specifically picked out this weapon for its menacing appearance and the ridiculous bleed damage it deals. Its bleed damage is so high it’s on par with daedric and dragon weapons. With all three Limpsplitter perks taken you’ll be dealing 9 damage per second worth of bleeding damage that stacks! The orcish axe is quite easy to come by in shops. You’ll be swinging one around as early as level 12 if you’re lucky.

Targe of the Blooded - If the ax dont scare em that spikey shield sure will. As you probably guess from something called ‘Targe of the Blooded’ this weapon specializes in bleeding damage. The bleed damage here supplements the damage done by disarming bashes. The targe is yet another item you can get your hands on early. Simply head to the Alftand ruins up north between Winterhold and Dawnstart. Just be ready to fight the angry red guard wielding it.

“Pull up a chair and lets talk business”

As you can see we’ve got a set of perks heavily geared towards a dirty, underhand guerilla-style fighter, who’s not afraid to resort to cheap tactics in order to win. Finesse? No such thing in this mafioso’s mind. It’s all about getting the job done; everything is a means to an end. Levelling is very efficient and simple with Riften’s Most Wanted as almost every skill is getting used in almost every situation. The only exceptions are Speech and Light Armour, which we’ll get onto later. But if you’re feeling impatient, power leveling is just as easy for those looking to dive right into this build.

Straight away your most important skills are going to be Alchemy and Block. Block gives you access to the invaluable perks that disrupt, debilitate and weaken enemies. We veered away from Shield Wall to prevent this guy turning into a tank, and keep combat as sneaky and dirty as possible. Why block a hit when you can just have some street tough you hired take it for you, and ask for more?

Complimenting everything Block offers you is Alchemy. Years of skooma making and trafficking have made you quite the knowledgeable alchemist, and allowed you to boil down most drugs to allow only the negative symptoms to remain. Slow, fear, and paralysis are just a few of the nasty tricks you have up your sleeve. Many of your poisons are two or three effect variety and consist of ingredients that are pretty easy to come by, making alchemy quite easy to level up. Don’t hesitate to spend lavish amounts of gold on Hearthfire manors to build your own remote drug factories, where you can manufacture your concoctions far away from society.

The king of the underworld needs a silver tongue, right? That’s where Speech comes in. Once you reach the Bribery perk crime becomes far easier to commit, as you can simply slip some gold into a greedy guard’s pocket if he comes investigating. Haggling lets you make even more of a profit from your ill-gotten gains. As you progress up the tree you’ll eventually get Intimidation - usually picked up in the later game, it shows the perfect transition from a more greasy criminal to threatening crime boss.

Sneak will make it easier to keep enemies focused on your hireling rather than you, and allows for the occasional sneak attack. Keep in mind a silent roll counts as a run so its possible to chain that into a critical charge for some hefty backstab damage. Sneak will level up to 50 in no time through the thieves guild, but you can powerlevel it in minutes with the Hadvar/Ralof exploit.

Hack and Slash and Critical Charge are the key perks in One Handed. The Orcish War Axe is glitched in such a way that it inflicts almost as a much bleed damage as a Daedric Axe, and swings as fast as a sword. Combine that with the Targe of the Blooded and you’ll bleed your enemies dry in no time.

Light Armor can be a difficult skill to level, but luckily Riften comes with its very own trainer, Grelka! Any excess gold can be dumped her way to allow your character to take a few extra hits, should the need arise.

Potions and Poisons

Somewhere in here is a poison with your name on it"

Alchemy is a critical tool in your arsenal. With two pieces of Peerless Alchemy (Circlet and Necklace), one piece of Major Alchemy (Gauntlets) and Muiri’s Ring, as well as Seeker of Shadows, you can double the effects of your concoctions.

This is especially useful for Panic poisons, as Fear normally has a very low magnitude (12 with all perks and max level), but it can now reach 24. This becomes even more powerful with the Enervate poison, which increases the magnitude of other poisons. This turns fear into an incredibly useful weapon, as it can now be used on almost every living enemy.

The Endurance potion is meant to enhance your stamina recovery which allow for more bashes and shield charges. It’ll also be useful if you find yourself needing to run away. The Vigor potion will help keep your goon alive and more than make up for your lack of healing spells. The slow effect provides excellent synergy, as not only will enemies be running away, they’ll be running away half as fast, making them much easier to hit. Keep in mind all ingredients can be grown in a greenhouse or fish hatchery.


Endurance - Regenerate Stamina

Fly Amanita + Scaly Pholiata



Vigor - Fortify Health + Restore Health

Blue Mountain Flower + Wheat



Debilitate - Lingering Damage Health + Paralysis

Canis Root + Imp Stool + Mora Tapinella



Panic - Damage Stamina + Fear

Blisterwort + Cyrodilic Spadetail + Namira’s Rot



Enervate - Damage Health + Slow + Weakness to Poison

Bleeding Crown + Deathbell + River Betty



What’s Yours is Mine

Requires: Disarming Bash, retrieving disarmed weapon

“What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is also mine…”

Its pretty hard to hang on to a sword after your hands been smashed by a spiked shield. Once your enemy is disarmed retrieve their weapon and they will be rendered virtually harmless. This is very useful against strong enemies with powerful weapons. Definitely try this out on anyone who looks like they can cleave you and your goon in two swings.

Cheap Shot

Requires: Shield Charge, Debilitate

“The best attack is the one they never see coming”

This combo involves following up a shield charge with a poison of paralysis and lingering health damage. This ensures that anyone you knock down wont be getting back up for a long long time. While your enemy is on the ground writhing in agony, why stop there? This brings us to…..

Make em Bleed

Requires: Cheapshot, Targe of the Blooded, Orcish Axe, Hack and Slash 3/3

“It’s ain’t enough to make em sorry. You gotta make em bleed.”

A great tie-in to the Cheap Shot. This is absolutely lethal against a grounded enemy, who won’t be getting up for a while. The bleed damage from both the targe and the orcish ax will cut right through armor as will the poison damage from Cheap Shot. The combination of bleed and poison damage is enough outright kill most enemies before they can ever get up

Scare Tactic

Requires: Enervate + Battle Cry OR Enervate + Panic

“You keep running so I can stab you in the back!”

A great way to peel enemies off your goon or yourself, but also a great way to turn the tide if things are going south. Scare tactic will force your enemies to run away in fear, but the slow poison will ensure they make their escape at a fraction of their normal running speed. Fear will keep the enemy from doing anything else but run at a snail’s pace, meaning you wont have to worry about slow’s effect being negated by changing animations. While they’re vulnerable take the time to lay the smack down on em for free.


Your abilities are all tailored towards keeping your hired goon from getting overwhelmed and making him much more effective. Taking troublesome enemies out of the fight is also a big part of the larger picture.

Cheap shot and ‘Make em Bleed’ will be your bread and butter abilities. In fact cheap shot transitions nicely into ‘‘Make em Bleed’, ensuring your enemy will be quite bloodied provided he ever does get up. All that bleed damage goes right through armor too. Bleed damage even affects the undead, making this ability chain very useful against them.

Whats Yours is Mine’ and ‘Scare tactic’ are designed to help make life easier for your hired goon. ‘Whats yours is mine’ will rip the weapon right out of an enemy’s hand regardless of level, so use that to severely weaken tough enemies with powerful weapons. And if you’re feeling particularly sinister, equip your enemy’s weapon and beat em to death with it!

Use Scare Tactic to force enemies off your goon if he gets overwhelmed. The more powerful variant of this ability is done with the battle cry power and will work on multiple opponents of any level making it useful to force groups away. In either case scare tactic leaves your enemy vulnerable to free hits, so hit em hard while their back is turned. Keep in mind Scare Tactic wont work against the dead. The poison effect from Cheap Shot wont work either so keep that ind mind. The bright side is they're still vulnerable to having their weapons stolen, being knocked over, and for some inexplicable reason bled to death.

Your goon is there to take the hits so you don't have to (I mean what else are you paying him for?) so you want to avoid entering the fray before him. Get used to ordering your goon to attack via follower commands. This forces him to be the first one to enter a fight. Enemies generally focus on the first thing they see to the exclusion of everything else. This'll leave you ample opportunity to get at your foes from behind. 

Just so we're clear, you didn’t see nothin’”

Roleplay and Quests

Easily the quickest thing we came to an agreement on was role play and quests. Riften is a hold absolutely rife with corruption. Law enforcement is entirely corrupt, a mafia like criminal element operates right under everyone's noses, and maven sits as the king pin, or rather queen pin, running the whole outfit. You couldn't find a better place for an unscrupulous criminal scumbag to call home.

Riften’s brand of corruption is pretty far reaching, worming its way into other holds, and before you know it half of Skyrim is as lawless as Riften. Rolling with that we decided the best quests to take on would revolve around expanding the influence of both Maven and the thieves guild.

The Thieves Guild 

What’s the fundamental issue with the Thieves Guild of Skyrim? The fact that it’s little more than a small time mafia, with quests that are put to shame by those from Morrowind and Oblivion (where you actually engage in thieving activities). Heck, somebody has written a five part article on the Thieves’ Guil... It forces every thief build to step out of their comfort zone and act like some common thug. Well, that is no problem for Riften’s Most Wanted, the thief who would rather steal your valuables off your dead body than from sneakily picking your pockets or unlocking your safes! The Thieves Guild suits Riften’s Most Wanted perfectly.

As you rise to the top of the guild you'll find yourself venturing to other holds securing alliances with other shady families of inordinate wealth. Before you know it you'll be operating with impunity in every major hold. As your wealth increases don’t be afraid to show it; build houses to hide loot (or bodies), in particular the hearthfire manors so you can produce your own little drug factories, hidden deep in the wilderness.

The Civil War: Imperials 

Now we know what you’re thinking - why the hell would a wanted crimelord sign up with the Legion?  Well, it all comes down to expanding influence, namely that of Maven Black-Briar.

From the shadows you’ll influence the outcome of the Civil War and your schemes will culminate with Maven becoming the jarl of Riften. If the political establishment weren’t in her pocket then, they certainly will be now. 

I don’t think we need to go over the perks that come with helping your largest benefactor secure even more political power. Be aware that you will have to advance the Main Questline past 'Dragon Rising' (Where you fight your first dragon) to advance the the Civil War. Don't bother pursuing that questline any further. Theres no profit to be made chasing legends and old wives tales. 

The Drug Trade 

Running your own little drug trade is another step towards becoming a criminal mastermind. Hearthfire houses provide an excellent base of operations; they’re remote and can be decked out to keep up the guise of a noble, not to mention each can  be built with a greenhouse and alchemy lab! Furthermore, you can even appoint a trusted accomplice as a steward, to oversee production.

Here is where we bent the rules a little. Skooma making? Puh-lease, that’s far too low for the Riften’s Most Wanted. No, we’re going to be making our own drug!

Something we did once we had built our greenhouses and alchemy labs was come up with our own little “drugs” (actually just potions with multiple effects) that we could sell to merchants in exchange for a lot of money. Get experimenting with ingredients that can be grown in a greenhouse and create your own concoctions until you come up with something suitably expensive with some addictive effects. Then, once you’re happy with your drug, start producing it en masse, and fill as many planters as you can with the ingredients. With the Merchant and Investor perks you can even have your own little drug pushers - these guys will take all the drugs off your hands for a hefty sum, then sell them on for you. So get experimenting! We’d like to hear all about what combinations of ingredients you used, and what “drugs” you’ve created! Give them names, descriptions, details, make them come alive like we did with ours.

Don’t forget to wipe out the competition too. Redwater Den and the Skooma trade in Riften should be stopped, to prevent anybody getting in on your territory. You can even look into Sleeping Tree Sap, and start peddling that stuff to Ysolda in Whiterun. And don’t forget to take out people who ask too many questions. Mjoll may be too tough to be physically broken, but she can sure as hell be mentally traumatized into silence. Kill her weak little boyfriend Aerin and beat her to within an inch of her life (sadly an inch will have to do since shes essential). The guards will no doubt notice but they can easily be paid off. 

"Raid and Curse send their regards. Maybe next time you'll be smart and like the right build!"

Closing Remarks

And there you have it folks. We thank you all for your continued support and hope you enjoy this build as much as we did. A huge shout out goes to Okan Zeeus for pulling through with those AMAZING photos on such short notice. I'd like to thank Raid for being such an awesome partner as always.

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  • Hate to bother you with more work, but images for this build are broken as well.

    • Its hardly work. This site makes fixing up missing pictures quite easy. 

  • What's raidriar up to?? I missed your collabs
  • Please tell me you named your guy Heisenberg 

    • Sadly no. I didn't start watching Breaking Bad until after I made this build. But it's definitely something to consider when I replay this build. 

  • Have you ever thought of making character presets based on the appearances and characters you made for you're builds? I would so download a preset for Riften's Most Wanted.

    • Actually it just so happens that I do put considerable effort into making my ingamd characters resemble the toons I draw of them.

      I Have never before considered saving and distributing Race Menu presets of them. If there's a demand for it sure why not. 

  • I really liked this one! Good to see you were bold with the weapon choice: not the traditional sneaky dagger guy. Nice!

  • Well, If its okay with you, could you perhaps maybe sometime distrubute or upload a race menu preset for Riften's Most Wanted? His appearance is absolutely perfect and I would love to be able to use him :)

  • You know Curse, its funny. Around the time you posted this, I started really playing the Yakuza series and well, this and that led me to start to engineer a build. Hope to get it up sometime this year.

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