Character Build: The Assassini


Those of the Assassini Brotherhood are members of a secret society hidden in plain sight. They alongside their eternal enemies have been responsible for or been participants in countless world events since at least the First Era. They are not berzerking warriors nor all-powerful mages cutting down swathes of enemies on the battlefield- they are a blade in the crowd, someone who doesn’t exist until the time comes that their blades must meet their targets throat. Once the deed is done, the Assassini fades from existence yet again, leaving no evidence of their presence. Many an evil ruler, a greedy noble, or a mere cowardly bandit have met their demise by Assassini hands…

The Build

Race: Imperial

Standing Stone: Warrior -> Lord

Stats: 1/1/1 Until Stamina reaches 200, then 1/1/0

Major Skills: Illusion, Alteration, Sneak, One-Handed

Minor Skills: Light Armor, Block, Smithing

Powers: Agent of Mara, Ancient Knowledge, Mora’s Boon, Prowler’s Profit, Secret of Strength

Shouts: Aura Whisper, Become Ethereal, Dragon Aspect, Dragonrend, Elemental Fury, Marked For Death, Throw Voice, Unrelenting Force, Whirlwind Sprint

The Brotherhood

The Assassini have not had a strong presence in Skyrim for nearly three decades. Nearly all members of the Nordic branch were killed or captured during the Great War, and the few who remained were subsequently dwindled down to the point of extinction by constant Thalmor raids. The ongoing Civil War between The Empire and Ulfric Stormcloak, as well as the strain on contacts left in the province have weakened the Brotherhood in its entirety. A talented Assassini has been sent to the region. They carry with them a list of targets, and the three tenets of their Creed:

  1. Stay your blade from the flesh of the innocent
  2. Hide in plain sight
  3. Never compromise the Brotherhood


The Targets

Harkon: The father of the Volkihar bloodline, and one of the oldest and most powerful vampires ever. The very nature of most vampires is in direct conflict with the Creed. His fortress has been well guarded by fog and gargoyle for millennia, but the mist has cleared up recently. He seems to be planning something big, and must be stopped before this plan can come to fruition. The death of him and his coven is of the utmost importance.

Elenwen: The Thalmor have prosecuted the Brotherhood since their rise to power in the days following the Oblivion Crisis. The Summerset Isles sect of the Brotherhood was destroyed in its entirety nearly two centuries ago by their hand. While one should aim to end the life of as many of them as possible, a special case can be made for Elenwen. She is the First Emissary, and as such is the nominal figurehead for the Thalmor in Skyrim. Her death will carry with it a very important message.

Miraak: There are rumors circulating of sleepwalkers roaming Solstheim chanting this long forgotten Dragon Priest’s name. They seem to be digging up a massive ruin in the center of the island, and most certainly are not doing so of their own free will. This Miraak may be the First Dragonborn, but having power does not excuse bringing harm to the innocent.

Linwe: The last Assassini in Skyrim, Linwe turned to a life of notorious banditry upon becoming disillusioned with the Creed. He has broken all three tenets, and must die for his betrayal.

Mercer Frey: On the surface Mercer seems to be just the grumpy leader of the rundown Thieves Guild in Riften, but this is only a part of the truth that calls for his demise. Mercer’s own greedy nature and lust for power led him to murder a close friend in cold blood many years ago, and subsequently pin the blame for it on an innocent Dunmer by the name of Karliah. Infiltration of the Thieves Guild, and attempts to gather proof of his misdeed are a priority.

Ancano: Another member of the Thalmor, Ancano poses as an advisor for the Arch-Mage of Winterhold. Strangely he seems to have caused no harm to the College yet, and as such should not be killed immediately. Instead patience and careful investigation should precede an hostile actions.

Astrid: Astrid leads one of the last chapters of the Dark Brotherhood, a group of sadistic contract killers who bring shame to what it means to be an Assassin. The only way to end their influence in Skyrim will be to find their sanctuary. The blind serial killing of others whether guilty or innocent is a crime that can only be repaid in blood.




Nothing is true...

One-Handed: This is the build’s bread and butter, swords and daggers serve as the Assassini’s only conduits for reliable and persistent damage. All other skills are there to enhance the strength of one-handed weapons either in melee or in stealth. The Dual Wielding tree perks can be replaced with Bladesman perks if you’d rather go for crits over straight up damage increases.

Illusion: The first of the “Wtf” skills added, Illusion serves a dual purpose by enhancing the Assassini’s stealth capabilities while also allowing them to force their enemies to flee, remain calm, or fight each other. The builds source material has a few key artifacts with abilities easily substituted with Skyrim’s magic and shouts, and Illusion is a perfect fit for just that.

Alteration: Alteration is a great utility spell school, it increases armor, makes magic less effective, and gives you several spells to immobilize enemies with. The theme of controlling your enemies actions continues with this skill choice, and the additional defensive capabilities that come with it are definitely welcome.

Sneak: What’s an Assassin type build without stealth? Remaining undetected and striking from out of nowhere are core elements that simply can’t be found through any other skill. When the going gets rough or a melee drags out too long a quick Ethereal Jump followed by a good hiding spot can be the difference between life or death.

Light Armor: While lightly perked compared to this builds predecessor, Light Armor still plays a role. You can’t always fall back on sneaking, dodging, or blocking, and all those times enemies hits get through your armor will be there to soak up some of the damage for you.

Block: Block maintains its old role entirely. Rather than carry around a big heavy shield the Assassini relies on their bashing and dodging abilities, usually leaving the offhand free to block with their weapon. Quick Reflexes is absolutely crucial, as it allows you to sidestep and counterattack when your enemy power attacks your block.

Smithing: The most minor of the minors skills, Smithing is there to improve your equipment as needed and that’s it. While it is mandatory on higher difficulties in my opinion, anyone playing on the lower ones should be able to get by fine without it.




Everything is permitted.

Where the Assassino was a no-crafting build the Assassini is what I’d like to call a “Lite” crafting build, taking the bare minimum smithing perks that are needed to improve their equipment and nothing else. This comes with the price of a little bit of a time spent grinding away at the forge, but adds a benefit in return by ensuring better viability on higher difficulties.

For weapons I followed a pattern of Steel -> Elven -> Skyforge Steel -> Nord Hero for Swords, and Steel -> Elven -> Nordic for Daggers. If you skip out on the Companions then you can swap the latter two swords with a Nordic one. The Nord Hero Sword is one of the lightest swords for it's damage, and is fits really well aesthetically with the build's look. The Nordic Dagger is easily one of the best looking daggers in the whole game, and also happens to fall under the same smithing perk that our armor does, speaking of...

I chose to replace the Grey Vampire Armor + Linwe’s with Grey Dawnguard Armor and an Apprentice Hood because I find the former to be too “bad guy” looking despite its traditional Assassin looks. It also helps that Vampire Armor isn’t flattering at all on female characters with regards to our source material here. You can pad out the remaining slots with a necklace and ring of your choosing, I went with a Resist Magic Necklace and Fortify One-Handed Ring.

If you find that you want the 10 extra magicka of the Adept Hood, you can swap to the Brown or Red Dawnguard for a better color match and a more robe-like feel as both of these versions have additional cloth draped over the legs.


Lesser Tactics

Eagle Vision: Detect Life/Detect Dead -> Aura Whisper + Quiet Casting - Detect nearby enemies whether live, dead, immortal or machine, both useful and roleplay fuel.

Leap of Faith: Become Ethereal - Survive a fall from any height, mostly roleplay, but has it’s uses.

Rogue's Fortune: Prowler’s Profit - This one’s a bit tougher to get, but an hour or so spent gathering Barenziah’s Stones can guarantee thousands of extra gold in gemstones permanently.

Greater Tactics

Binded Deterioration: Marked For Death + Paralysis + Quiet Casting - The enemy is completely subdued for a small portion of time, and becomes progressively weaker over that time. Very useful during the builds weaker levels for isolating or outright disabling stronger enemies while you deal with the smaller guys.

Murmur of Dismay: Frenzy Rune + Illusion Perks + Throw Voice - A false voice calls your foes away, and after a magical explosion they are pushed to mass hysteria. This one’s good in the same way as the previous ability, but is good for thinning out whole herds of enemies as well.

Revitalizing Retreat: Voice of The Emperor + Mora’s Boon + Shadowcloak of Nocturnal/Invisibility - The Assassini releases a torrent of calming magic over a wide area, reverses all damage they have taken, and retreats back to the shadows. A fancier way to retreat back to the comfort of stealth when detected and caught in a bad situation, the “Oh shit!” button so to speak.

Victory to the Assassini: Dragon Aspect + Dual Wield Sword and Dagger + Dual Flurry + Dual Savagery + Elemental Fury + Secret of Strength - Though the name Assassini may imply an order of cowardly murderers, this is far from the truth. The Masters among their ranks are able to wield two blades with exceptional speed, and when a Master Assassini is the Dragonborn, the resulting combination is devastating. This is the strongest possible combination of abilities this build can pull off. A flurry of maximum speed, maximum damage dual wielding power attacks at 0 stamina cost. I only recommend using this during tough high level enemies such as dragons and bosses.


We work in the dark...


  • Apart from the Courage spell line, I recommend never using Illusion spells on Followers or non-hostile NPCs. One of The Assassini’s main aims is to protect the innocent, and that means no mind manipulation among them, including Bend Will. Hostile NPCs like Bandits or Dragons are fair game though.
  • When going after one of your targets, if you have the opportunity to sneak past all other hostiles to get to them, do so. Once the deed is done you should run, even if you think you can win in a fight against the odds. A core part of the way an Assassini takes down their target is the chase and subsequent escape afterwords.
  • Another note for the main targets is to try to take them out with your dagger, there isn’t really any weapon in Skyrim that “fits” into the Hidden Blade slot. The Shiv played a part in the old version, but it simply doesn’t hold up on higher difficulties compared to daggers that you can improve.
  • The Assassini is open to any factions and all questlines EXCEPT The Dark Brotherhood. They are the exact opposite of everything the Assassini stand for, and should be destroyed. The Volkihar side of Dawnguard really doesn’t fit well either, but any other multi-sided questline (Civil War, Thirsk Hall) doesn’t have a clear roleplay winner.


Recommended Mods

Mortal Enemies and TKDodge: Putting these two together because I feel they both enhance the combat of the build by letting you be much more agile vs just taking every hit or spamming Quick Reflexes.

Pretty Combat and Jump Animations: These I really only recommend purely for aesthetics. They look WAY better and more role fitting than the vanilla animations.

LeanWolf’s Better Shaped Weapons and Any Assassin’s Creed Robes mod: Entirely for better looking weapons and a more fitting set of armor if you don't want to go vanilla.


To protect the light.

Closing Notes

PCOutcast has a full playthrough of the original Asasinni/Assassino build on his Youtube channel, here’s a link to that if you're interested in seeing the ancestor of the Assassini in action.

A gameplay video has also been featured on Skyforge TV, and the modded screenshots here were done by Curse.

It’s been ages since I’ve written a build from scratch, but I hope that this little rework/redux/reimaging/reeeee can live up to the hype of the OG.

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  • Wow this is quite an improvement over the original build!  

  • Would this build work with the Dark Brotherhod for good guys mod?

    • I'm gonna go ahead and say no because even with proper justification the whole vibe of the Dark Brotherhood is still there. At the end of the day they're still contract killers, and the in-game guild is still filled to the brim with sadists and psychopaths. I just think it's a bit too far a step in the "Dark" direction, pardon the pun, for benevolent Assassin's such as those from the AC games.

  • Hopefully there won't be any problems with them and my crew... <_<

    In all seriousness, I enjoyed the concept of the original Assassino (even though I never finished it because restartitis), and this one seems like a well-needed upgrade into modern times!

    Can't wait till I can create the build that combats them!

    • I mean, the word Templar is right there in their name. The ushering the age of Daedra thing isn’t helping them either. 

      • Have to agree. Miraak actually was working on a Templar build awhile back. I even have one floating about on my Drive somewhere

      • Shhhhh...

        I'll get them to play nice. :D

  • Haven't touched Skyrim in a while because of school and work, but I'm definitely going to try this build out whenever I can play.

    How do you manage all the crazy magic costs though? Your magicka pool will be limited considering you're spreading your stats out evenly for the first 30 levels or so and you only have the cost reduction perks from the trees. I'd imagine you'd be out of magicka after casting three or four spells.

    • Magic wasn't a super important part of every encounter with this build (I listed Illusion and Alteration as major because of their perk investment as opposed to their usage). I didn't find myself spamming spells fast enough to run out of magicka very often either. I don't want to say that it wasn't important enough to not include, but the build really leans more towards a duelist or assassin about 60-70% of the time.

      Edit: I'd say theoretically if you wanted to lean the build more in the nightblade caster direction there's absolutely no harm in subtracting 50 points off of Health and Stamina, (The former in theory would only make you slightly squishier thanks to the being on the cusp of armor and magic resist caps, and the latter isn't too big a deal due to the light weight of the weaponry used) and placing them in Magicka

  • Very cool! Just a quick note on Imperial Luck, it's bugged and after you leave Helgen it somehow becomes applied to every character - hence why you always find 1-10 gold in basically every chest, no matter your character's race. So if anyone desperately wants to play as another race, it has no effect on your looting!

    Skyrim talk:Imperial - The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages (UESP)
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