Disclaimer: While a lot of the lore behind this build is real, there is a healthy chunk (such as the Fangs themselves) which is of my own creation, and I blend what is canon and what is my head-canon, as this is the standard character I play with a Khajiit. So, be warned, not everything in here is 100% true lore.
The Khajiit have risen to the front line as the fierce warriors and fearsome army for each and every Aldmeri Dominion, but among these feline soldiers there is an elite unit of agents, utilizing the inborn Khajiit stealthiness and the training of a hardened warrior to further the cause of the Dominion both in home and abroad.
Previously in the employ of the Mane, they are a combination of the CIA and the Blades: a series of bodyguards, assassins, spies, and servants in the unending service of the absolute leader of Elsweyr society. Traditionally, Elsweyr’s greatest present to foreign dignitaries and heroes of their land, the Fangs are the hardiest warriors among the Khajiit, trained in the use of claw, blade, and bow, and the arts of stealth and potion-making they are able to defend and battle any who oppose their master with deadly speed and an elegance renown throughout the Empire.
In gratitude to the Thalmor for returning the Moons to the night sky, the Mane of the day decreed any and all Fangs trained in Elsweyr would be sent to the Summerset Isle to supply the Aldmeri Dominion with the greatest spies they ever had. For nearly two hundred years, the Fangs of the Dominion were a force to be reckoned with, feared and respected in equal measure as warriors in the shadows and open field alike, but their numbers dwindled over time as their lifespans lessened dramatically. War, it seemed, was not to be the true test of a skilled warrior. Lives were lost to wayward arrows and spells, but many more to the unfamiliar disease of the Summerset Isles and the increasing apathy for the furry friends of the southern jungles.
One of the last Fangs, you are sent to Skyrim to infiltrate the Companions and learn of their secrets, but will you stay loyal to your elven masters or will you break free?
Race : Let’s not ask stupid questions, shall we? I suggest a slimmer, leaner build and I chose dark fur, for all the better to hide in the darkness with.
Sex : I choose male purely because I find males easier to roleplay in and I find the female Khajiits freakishly small. That, however, could work in a Fang’s favour.
Stat Spread : 1/1 until you are satisfied with health and survivability, but as a dual wielding, Eagle Eye-using character who sprints constantly, you need stamina by the bucket load.
Standing Stone : Warrior or Thief for leveling, but Steed or Lord for long-term.
Primary. These are perked heavily and used on a regular basis.
One-Handed : Using either duelist or dual-wielding dagger and sword, the Fang dispatches enemies quickly and simply.
Sneak : Opening most fights by sneak attacks, the Fang can slink back into the shadows or explode from the darkness with a flurry of blades.
Light Armor : Having no shield and rarely wearing a helm, some extra perks will give the Fang the survivability of a hardened warrior.
Archery : The longbow is your best friend for long range combat and also fits into the standard Khajiiti warrior arsenal. There’s also something very romantic about archery in a medieval fantasy game.
Secondary. These are used frequently and occasionally perked but rarely.
Alchemy : Vigors give the Fang an impressive strength and speed that would make any Khajiit blush. If used with restraint, this skill can boost our abilities to legendary (not inhuman) levels. Everything is about balance.
Smithing : Taking care to not singe your own fur, smithing your own weapons and tailoring your armor will help you stay alive in this harsh, unfamiliar land. It will also give us access to one of our choices of endgame gear. Plus, using fairly low-level weapons throughout our playthrough will require some smithing after a while. After crafting my endgame armor, I made it legendary and took the perks elsewhere.
Roleplay. Specifically roleplay oriented and optional.
Speech : An agent of deception can smooth talk even the most stone-hearted guard.
Lockpicking : A hideous mini game, I know, but this build fights, lives, and acts with speed and elegance, and lockpicking is indeed an elegant art. Even if it is awful.
Certain parts of Valenwood were to be ever avoided for the presence of fearsome junglecat men, who fought with untold tenacity and the speed of their feral cousins.
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition
There is a certain apathy in this character in combat. It’s not that he has no heart or is actively cruel but he has a purpose and any who stand in the way of this purpose are his enemies. He strikes from the shadows, killing draugr in their beds or sniping from afar, rarely getting hit himself, strolling through the newly corpse-filled dungeon. There is a kind of arrogance to this mindset. His flurry of blades or the strength and preciseness of a dualist stance get him through the hardiest enemies in close combat. Having a blade in one hand and nothing in the off-hand allows for blocking for the more unpleasant bosses and draugr who like the Disarm shout. Since sabres are not in Skyrim, we’ll round out our arsenal with buffing our own unarmed claw damage. In Teccam’s Regular build, he uses the Marked For Death shout and explains the math away in this. Basically, you use the three words of the shout, hop around the mark, and then start punching to reap the benefits. This gives us a weapon that can never be taken from us, so that the Fang can be stripped, searched, and have his blades and bow removed, but always remain a lethal agent. And since unarmed isn’t a skill and won’t contribute to a level feel free to use it whenever you like. It’s more for roleplay than use as a genuine weapon and as far as the character goes, he doesn’t use heavy armor.
If it becomes impossible to use stealth, close the gap with a sudden burst of speed and start slicing and dicing. Open close combat with this build is all about agility. Even if there isn’t a dodge mechanic, feel free to run away or hide if you become outnumbered, then strike with a few arrows or roll stealthily to your next target. Honour is not an issue with this character. His honour is in why he does what he does and is much more organic, rather than strict rules such as “No sneaking, hiding, or butchering”.
To give him an extra edge, alchemy is used for both potions and poisons, replicating the ancient concoctions of the Fangs, and while Skyrim’s flora and fauna are unfamiliar the Fang quickly adapts the recipes. Also, taking Concentrated Poison gives us a few quick shots with poisoned blades, the stacking damage is truly phenomenal. Poisoning both blades allows the Fang to dominate any boss.
- Hand of the Dominion. Damage Health + Damage Stamina + Paralysis
Canis Root + Nirnroot + Imp Stool
- Thrassian Plague. Damage Health + Ravage Health + Weakness to Poison
Skeever Tail + Deathbell + Giant Lichen
- Touch of the Mane. Cure Disease + Fortify Light Armor + Invisibility + Regenerate Health
Vampire Dust + Hawk Feathers + Luna Moth Wing
- Blessings of Jone and Jode. Resist Fire + Resist Frost
Moon Sugar + Snowberries + Dragon's Tongue
The Fang plays with his food as a feral animal, sneaking behind his mark and nicking him with a dagger to get his attention. He falls over and the Fang tears into him with his blades until they are nothing but a blur.
Silent Roll + Hand of the Dominion + Dual Flurry
Using his gift from the Dragon King of Cats, the Fang unleashes a powerful magic to weaken his foes, darting around them before tearing into them the weapons his forefathers gave him, slamming him to the ground.
Marked For Death + Claws + Killcam
The Queen of Dusk and Dawn protected her children by making them the best deceivers and helps them in their endeavors, hiding them from those who wish them harm and fortifying them in their battles.
Touch of the Mane + Silence + Silent Roll
Despite what those simpering Stormcloaks think, this one already met with Elenwen and has his orders. While other agents infiltrate all corners of this snowy desert, Khajiit is to join the order of warriors known as the Companions and evaluate their future possibilities in a Dominion future.
Playing an undercover agent in Skyrim is about 80% roleplaying because characters won’t respond to armor change, you have no opportunity to betray anyone in quests, and there aren’t any truly evil factions to work for. In my book, playing an agent requires three key aspects: your handler (the superior you report to with information; I typically choose Ancarno in Winterhold), your disguise and uniform (different outfits for infiltrating and speaking with handlers), and motivation (the why and how of your agent). Try to keep your other identity a secret and never let the Companions discover your employers. When I do a roleplay heavy run, I write letters from my character’s perspective using either Word or a mod.
While the majority of Khajiit prefer to use their razor-sharp and retractable claws as weapons, many have mastered the use of the sabre, scimitar, dagger, and longbow.
For this first half, there’s no real need for crafting your own, since we’ll be using level-appropriate or better gear until about level 25. Elven armor can easily be looted from killed Thalmor patrols, when they come across Stormcloaks on the road, but until that’s gotten, there’s a set of Thalmor robes on the massacre at the Shrine of Talos, just outside of Helgen (go left at the bandits and up the path). Scaled armor can be gotten through the quest “With Friends Like These”, which really isn’t the Fang’s fault, he was just investigating some rumours about the Dark Brotherhood. To avoid the questline, kill all in the cabin, Astrid first, and then destroy the rest of them, later seeking approval from your handler. What this means, though, is that until you loot/buy better, you won’t have enchanted armor. To make some light armor perks work, we can use the Diadem of the Savant, a light armor circlet, which can be gotten from the dungeon Saladin’ Maze. I find helmets on Khajiit to look bizarre so I tend not to use them.
For jewellery, I often bought things from Grelka and paid her in potions, the most useful enchantments being Fortify Light Armor, Fortify Sneak, Fortify Stamina, Muffle, Fortify One-Handed, and Fortify Archery.
For dual-wielding, nothing beats the speed of a dagger and the damage of a sword. I had an Elven Dagger of Ice(15pts frost damage) and a Flawless Scimitar.
Roleplay and Questing
This Fang has absorbed much of the Thalmor doctrine and has a great sense of superiority. Even if he sees something in it for himself, helping the common man of Skyrim is definitely not in his agenda. Fetch quests, helping the Divines or Daedra, and every faction outside of the Companions are off-limits. Keeping Skyrim in war and chaos suits the Dominion’s long-term goals of weakening the people and the Empire of man, so killing random platoons of soldiers is acceptable as is supplying powerful bandits with arms (dropping weapons and armor off at bandit camps, then sprinting off before they kill you). You may do a few pieces of the Main Quest, just don’t pick up the Horn of Whatshisface. Use the Greybeards as a source of lore for the thu'um and hone it by random dungeon delving. The Thalmor want more knowledge on this ancient, unknown magic. The only true goal you have is forwarding the Dominion and, by extension, the Thalmor. This includes routing out Talos worship. That temple in Windhelm? Gone. Following Eltrys to the Temple of Talos and being angry you didn’t get to kill him first? Yep.
Do the bare minimum of quests for the Companions but take them out as followers to see how they fight. If it comes to it, the Fangs might have to do some house-cleaning and the more information on your enemies the better. You have no emotional connection to these slightly racist Nords, even at the heartstring-pulling moments of their questline, so act like it. Search their rooms and look in their pockets, search for evidence and make notes on your marks. Explore the beastform for its strengths and weaknesses. You’re evaluating the toughest fighting force in Skyrim for their weaknesses when you eventually go in there and spear everyone on the end of your sword. Act like it.
Everyone has a breaking point and, for the Fang, it was when the Thalmor wanted to lock him up in their Embassy, in order to study the Dragonborn. There, the Fang realised the difference between serving and being used. Once he broke out, however, he had no where to go and no one to serve. When he arrived at the gates to Solitude, naked, without a paper to let him in, and a small band of Thalmor wizards sending lightning bolts and racial obscenities at him, Ma’dran ushered him into his tent and stuffed him into a barrel. This small act of kindness changed his life. No longer a Fang of the Thalmor and finding no place for the Khajiit in this new Aldmeri Dominion, he followed the caravans and spoke with them of the constant state of chaos and rebellion Elsweyr had been in for the past few centuries. Wishing he could go and help his people directly, rather than through the Dominion, he settled for protecting them in Skyrim.
In battle, those who walk upright traditionally don medium-weight armor, exquisitely fashioned from loose-fitting leather overlaid with lacquered and highly-burnished metal plates.
There are three endgame armors to choose from, one for those with mods, one for those with Dragonborn, and one for those with neither. For those with mods, Moonpath to Elsweyr provides the opportunity to go to Elsweyr to fight the Thalmor and drive them from the Tenmar forests, helping the New Elsweyr movement. It also gives a set of light armor of respectable rating called the Siligonder Chitin armor from a new creature, but without a full set, taking the Matching Set perk is really lost. For the mod’s lore, which simply expands on what we don’t know, and the meaning of getting it, this is the best choice.
Dragonborn really supplies the dual-wielder’s wet dream in the form of the Deathbrand armor. With solid enchantments and the armor rating of dragonscale, from the stats standpoint this is the best option. It also looks incredible.
With neither Dragonborn nor mods, applying the practical smithing knowledge of the Fangs to the scales and bones of the creatures determined to destroy the world, dragonscale armor is imposing, statistically great, and has an in-character meaning. It is the full embrace of this new land and the acceptance of the knowledge that the former-Fang will never be able to return home.
The scimitars you get from the quest Deathbrand are quite good and have wickedly harsh enchantments, but without Dragonborn, simply improving your own scimitar and dagger (this time ebony or the best available) to the maximum will be sufficient for most quests. Auriel’s Bow has quite the nice enchantment and with a dagger of soul trap, you can keep it filled.
Roleplaying and Questing
Speak for those with no voice and live for those with no life, for the perfect society is always elsewhere.
- Khajiiti proverb
He had to make a choice between remaining loyal to the Aldmeri Dominion and everything it stood for: loyalty, honour, helping those without a voice, and being unafraid and unapologetic for what one is. And while he made the right decision, it was not an easy one and matured him a great deal. Though he is still fairly apathetic to those who oppose his goals, his only goal now is the protection of the few of his people in Skyrim. Unable to enter cities without a good reason, he follows the caravans, exploring the area around the city until the traders move on. It actually is quite fun to follow the caravans and protect them on the road. Even though you could enter Whiterun freely, and probably other cities as well, being the Harbinger of the Companions, the former-Fang feels guilty of how he used the Companions and would despise using the ill-gotten title as a way in when his fellow Khajiit have to wait outside. They probably would have found a new Harbinger by now, anyways.
Eventually, he will feel and understand the breadth of the cruelty and injustice he inflicted on others. He can then extend his circle of protection to the common Nords and others, even making peace with the Argonians and rescuing a poor swimmer from a Falmer cave. However, vampire attacks are more common on the road and he will join the Dawnguard to attempt to eliminate the bloodsuckers. The end prize of the quest will be your bow for the rest of the playthrough, which will include the Main Quest and Dragonborn (if you have it). He will also return to the religion of the Khajiit in an attempt to atone for his sins. The Gods and their respective quests should be revered and completed, as you do not need to enter cities to complete their quests: Azura, Mara, Hircine, Hermaus Mora, Mehrunes Dagon, and Kynareth.
From meeting with Ancarno at Winterhold, the former-Fang would have become friends with J'zargo and after helping with his studies, J'zargo will greater understand the plight of the Khajiit here in Skyrim and agree to follow you—probably for more selfish reasons than that, but the point is that he comes. Leave Kharjo to guard the other caravan.
He uses the Voice constantly, knowing many shouts but trying to learn them all, he rarely leaves combat without unleashing at least one shout or bout of Elemental Fury. This is mainly to spite the Thalmor, who tried to use him as a Dovahkiin guinea pig.
Though he has many questions about leaving the Fangs and the Dominion behind him, there is one moment when he knows he made the right decision. Infiltrating the Thalmor Embassy and speaking to Elewen face to face, to the woman who orchestrated his imprisonment, ordered his massacre of innocents, the only thing she had to say when he told her his name was, “Ah yes. I remember your name from the guest list. Please, tell me more about yourself. What brings you to this... to Skyrim?”
As always, the build doesn’t require mods but there are some I would recommend for those with the ability or desire to use them.
- Predator Vision - Gives more control over the Khajiit Night Eye ability.
- Moonpaths to Elsweyr - An Elsweyr-themed quest that fits the Claw of the Twin Moons late-game very well, also gives player home and armor set.
- Khajiit Speak - Alters every dialogue option in the base game, expansion packs, and several mods to the speech pattern the Khajiit have, as well as allow the character to give several cultural references, such as referencing the PC’s claws and Azurah or Khenarethi.
While this is not essential to know and is rather long, it provides a solid background on the three Aldmeri Dominions and the Khajiit’s and this character’s role in them. For a much more in-depth look at Altmeri history, including the Dominions, check this out.
The Khajiit have a sense of loyalty and honour in their culture almost like the Nords, but more like the Dunmer. It’s a sense of independence and dignity, with an emphasis on paying back what you owe, to enemy and friend alike. And throughout all of history they have owned the Altmer a great deal, although the Altmer practice of enslaving the native Summerset beast folk and goblins probably made the Khajiit somewhat nervous.
The First Dominion (ESO’s Dominion) that created this unholy union was an alliance of necessity. The Altmer returned peace to Elsweyr after what was essentially the Black Death took the Khajiit to the brink of extinction: anarchy, looting, murder, superstition, and complete ruin and misery throughout the nation. The Altmer came as an unaffected race and restored government and order. This dept the Khajiit paid with being the foot soldiers of the Dominion, as they marched to reclaim the Ruby Throne in the name of the elder races, the Khajiit being (in their eyes and of some scholars) the true natives of Tamriel. The idea was to usher in an age of rule of well established nations (Elven and Khajiit), because they had already suffered the mistakes of ruling while the newer races of men had not. Since this is ESO, we don’t know how it ended.
The Second Dominion was more of an empire than an invading force and the Khajiit joined it out of mutual benefits, just like anyone joins any empire: security, prosperous trade, and a sense of greater union. The Altmer warred with the Bosmer, when they broke a few sacred treaties, and I imagine the Khajiit were once again the bulk of the army, as elves are renown for being rather squishy, but there’s little lore on the Second Dominion to begin with. It ended when Tiber Septim threatened the use of Numidium (basically an H bomb) if the elves didn’t surrender to man. Do not mistake this for Tiber Septim trying to end the Bosmer wars, it was purely a desire to expand his already incredible empire.
The Third Dominion rose with the Thalmor. Here, we need to distinguish between Thalmor and Dominion. The Dominion is like the Empire, a unifying force of mer and beast that rules their lands, dispenses laws and keeps the peace while ensuring the safety of their people. The Thalmor are more like a combination of international ambassadors and the CIA, in the Second Dominion they stayed in Valenwood to watch the Bosmer, and to keep the peace by ensuring the treaty (which was basically "Don’t start a war with the Empire") was secure because there was some dissent in the populations. Their role in the Third Dominion is much the same but because the treaty is much more severe and the elven and bestial disdain for man is fully shown, the Thalmor are portrayed as harsh and unduly cruel, which isn’t unfair. But the Thalmor between Dominions is the Thalmor that epitome we love to hate: they are a splinter of extremist elven supremacists who wanted the First Dominion back, so they bullied the Bosmer and deceived the Khajiit to join again.
In short: the Dominion is something to be proud of, as is the Empire of old, but the Third Dominion and the Empire are puppets of the Thalmor, a violent and power hungry fraction of the Aldmeri Dominion.
The Khajiit and their role in the Third Dominion is where this character comes into light. Their entire society depends on the moons; their religion and very being is tied to the waning and waxing of the moons. They are magically tied to the moons, their bodies shaping to the tune of the moons’ phases the day they were born and were supposedly made the strongest and fastest so that they would be able to climb into the sky and put the Moons back if they ever disappeared. In 4E98 and 4E99, the Moons vanished from the sky. And the Khajiit could do nothing about it. This is akin to the Tribunal being killed in third era Morrowind: it shakes the foundations of their world, chaos reigns, terror feeds on the hearts of everyone, there are suicides and the land falls into a horrible kind of anarchy. The Thalmor take responsibility for restoring the moons and win the instant and eternal loyalty of the Khajiit, completing their sacred duty when they could not. Whether or not they truly restored them or waited until their return is uncertain, but the Khajiit joined the Aldmeri Dominion once more.
Whether the elves ever cared about the Khajiit I don’t think is up for debate. If you look at the high elven culture, it’s clear they think themselves the best but it’s not in the shallow way Skyrim and the Thalmor show. The elves have the longest time to perfect their crafts and so they produce the most talented tradesmen, the greatest diplomats, and finest mages. But there is a massive difference between believing your own race to be better and others to be inferior. The former is the standard mindset of the Altmer, the latter is the Thalmor’s and it is extremely toxic, but like all toxic political mindsets it spreads through desperate people like wildfire. The Altmer’s idea of superiority doesn’t mean the other races are unworthy of existing, real people, or worthless unless enslaved. The Thalmor’s does.
TL;DR Being loyal to the Aldmeri Dominion is not being loyal to the Thalmor and a simpering puppet to elven supremacy.