This build has given me the pleasure of doing two things - combining some of my favorite builds into one awesome package, and exploring rogue skills previously left untouched. Keep reading and you might even recognize some of the builds that inspired the tactics I use here. I proudly present my latest project...
There's getting the job done, and then there's getting the job done right. And when you're dead serious about the latter, and coin is no object, you hire the best; You hire an infiltrator. These elite rogues bring a level of professionalism seldom seen in unruly underworld of cutthroats, thieves, and hired thugs. Far more precise than any fighter or mercenary, and more resourceful than just any assassin, the infiltrator is the go-to blade for hire when it absolutely has to be killed today, and failure is not an option....
Infiltrators are deadly tactical fighters and the embodiment of surgical precision, combining stealth and fighter tactics to form a fluid, versatile, and highly agile guerrilla fighter, capable of seamlessly shifting back and forth between the shadows and the fray.
The infiltrator achieves so much in one awesome package. It perfectly captures the look and feel of a ninja, and I ask you, who doesn't like ninjas!? The wide range of tactics at your disposal make the infiltrator so much more fun to play than your typical sneaky assassin. The build also takes full advantage of alchemy, turning out deadly concoctions that only add to the lethality of already respectable physical damage potential. By stealth, sabotage or skirmish, the Infiltrator has many tools of elimination at his disposal.
Race: Bosmer - Before you ask, no. The infiltrator is not just another sneak archer. In fact archery takes a distant backseat in this build in favor of far more enjoyable close quarters combat. I have chosen the wood elf due to their massive starting boost to alchemy as well as their starting boost in sneak. Their resistance to poison is very fitting for a character well versed in the use of poisons.
Stone: The Warrior followed by Lady
Stone: You will take the warrior stone initially to raise block, and one-handed. Once you've mastered block, take the Lady stone. The 25% boost to stamina regeneration stacks with that of the 50% granted by Wind Walker for total stamina recovery speed of +75%. As an agile fighter who will be dodging, running, blocking, and parrying, this is quite valuable.
Stat Distribution: 0 Magicka 1 Heath 2 Stamina
The infiltrator is able to stand toe to toe with his enemies, but his agility is what allows him to survive these encounters. As such your stat distribution focuses on granting you a large pool of stamina for all of your agile maneuvers, and just enough health to survive a strike or two. But don't get carried away. You aren't built to take a beating.
Gear: Nightingale Hood, Gauntlets, and Boots. GuildMasters Armor
While somewhat time consuming to obtain, the time is very well spent. Completing the thieves guild quest line in its entirety not only nets you a considerable some of money, but a bad ass armor combination. This combination comes with an assortment of enchantment effects such as carry weight and one handed damage that you will find quite helpful with this build.
Weapons: Blades Sword, Imperial Bow
The blade's sword is very easy to obtain. Simply kill the man at Nightgate Inn who is in possession of one. The Imperial Bow can be obtained pretty much from the start of the game. As with all low tier bows, the Imperial Bow has a fast firing rate, making it an effective long range poison delivery system.
Shouts: Slow Time
Slow time is an essential for giving the infiltrator time to stack poisons onto a target without retaliation. Combined with Quick Reflexes, Slow Time will last substantially longer allowing the Infiltrator to easily outmanuever enemies.
Gameplay & Perks:
For the most part the Infiltrator is quite easy to manage level wise. Most every skill are in near constant use, but you may find light armor and block trailing behind due to how infrequently you will be sustaining damage.
One Handed is the main damage dealer alongside alchemy. The most important perk to pick up here is critical charge. Combined with Silent roll, the infiltrator is able to execute a devastating running slash that deals lethal damage in excess of 700-1100 points of damage. You wouldn't be a good infiltrator without Sneak. Everything in this skill tree is taken here, minus assassin's blade & deadly aim as we will not be using a dagger nor silently sniping our targets. Shadow warrior is a true game changer. With this, the infiltrator becomes very difficult for enemies to keep track of in battle as he weaves in and out of view by merely crouching.
Block introduces another major game changer in the form of Quick Reflexes. Using Slow Time while Quick Reflexes is active will cause Slow Time to last much longer, granting you a means outmanuevering your enemies in open combat. While Sneak, One-handed, and Light armor will take care of themselves, Block takes special attention to level. The easiest way to level block for more frail types is to lower the difficulty rate down to novice, and block blows from giants. Up until about lvl 50 you'll gain roughly 1 level per attack, so block can be leveled at an amazing rate. Those stolen potions from apothecary shops will come in handy for this.
Alchemy is arguably the most important skill tree of this build, and what would an infiltrator be without a large array of poisons? Poisons takes a build capable of quite respectable damage as is, and turns the dial to 11. Crafted invisibility potions are not only an essential piece of this builds kit but quite possibly the easiest way to level up alchemy. The cost of your concoction is used to determine how much alchemy experience you get for making it, and invisibility potions sell for quite a lot.
In this build Archery serves merely as a long range delivery mechanism for poisons. Its useful to have when faced with something it would be unwise to hand deliver poisons to (ie: dragons, mages). Archery is fairly easy to get out of the way. As soon as you arrive at Riverwood, perform the necessary quest to enlist Faendel as a follower. As both an archer trainer and a potential follower, you'll be able to buy your way to level 50 archery without actually spending a single septim. Just trade back the money you spend on his lessons.
Blood Thinning Agent - Lingering Health Damage
Imp Stool, Mora Tapinella, Slaughter Fish Scales/Eggs, Scathecrow (DB)
Description: Introduces a toxin into victims blood system that stops the blood from clotting and prevents wounds healing. Victim will bleed profusely from even the most minor cuts. Causes X amount of health damage a second for 10 seconds. Can be stacked numerous times for lethal effect.
Argument: Exceptionally powerful supplement to your damage. Stacking multiple instances of this poison will leave victims suffering damage over time that can easily exceed 40 points per second. Best saved for particularly strong foes.
Flesh Eating Toxin - Damage Health
Death Bell, Falmer Ear, NightShade, Red Mountain Flower. Skeever Tail
Description: Destroys the victim's tissue in and around the freshly made wound, causing extra damage in addition to that of the cut itself. The poison itself causes a brief but intense burning sensation. Flesh Eating Toxin provides a quick and dirty means of supplementing your basic attack damage.
Argument: A quick and dirty way to further increase your damage. The Ingredients are very cheap and easy to come by so use liberally as this poison is meant to be used in place of Blood Thinning Agent against weaker enemies.
Paralytic Agent - Paralysis
Imp Stool, Briar Heart, Canis Root, Swamp Fungal Pod
Description: Attacks the victim's nervous system, causing the body's motor functions to shut down. Victim will remain conscious but unable to move. An excellent way to temporarily move a high level threat from battle, allowing you to focus on eliminating weaker enemies.
Argument: Very helpful for thinning out herds of enemies, or taking particularly strong or troublesome enemies out of the fight long enough to mop up their less formidable allies. Useful for removing a threat that stands between you and your objective that you do not wish to fight.
Smoke Screen - Invisibility
Ice Wraith Teeth, Vampire Dust, Chaurus Egg, Nirnroot, Luna Moth Wing
Description: Causes a plume of smoke to emerge which cloaks and conceals the user. Useful anytime a quick get away is needed.
Argument: Self Explanatory
Tactical Cloak - Deploys a smoke bomb allowing the Infiltrator to instantly conceal his whereabouts from enemies.
Requires: Shadow Warrior + Smokescreen
Useful for avoiding detection as enemies conduct their search, and equally as useful as a means of escaping a fight to regroup. The combo will work even without shadow warrior, but shadow warrior will dramatically improve the effectiveness of this combo
Requires: Critical Charge + Backstab + Silent Roll
Silent rolling counts as running as far as the game's logic is concerned. Executing Critical Charge while rolling lets you combine the 2x critical damage bonus gained from critical charge but also the 6x critical damage bonus from Backstab all in one swift leaping attack. The beauty of this skill is that not only will it cause massive critical damage, but that it closes a huge gap between you and your intended target. Far more effective and proactive than slowly skulking up to an enemy to deliver the lethal blow.
Requirements: Steath, Bow & Arrows
While hiding, firing an arrow at any object will cause sound which will immediately cause every enemy in the vicinity to leave their post and investigate. You can effectively lead your enemies whereever you wish by shooting specific at specific points. In many ways this acts as a cheap and dirty alternative to Throw Voice. You can force enemies guarding an objective to walk away from their post, trick enemies into walking right into traps, or get them to turn their back just long enough to ambush them.
Surgical Counter Strike - Upon dodging an enemy attack the infiltrator initiates a swift and deadly counter attack with each strike coated in a deadly poison agent.
Requirements: Slow Time + Quick Reflexes + Blood Thinning Agent
Slow time cast during quick reflexes will cause time to slow for a dramatically longer period than normal. In the mean time you have plenty of time to stack as much poison as you can into the bodies of your enemies. For best results use lingering damage health. Each lingering damage health poison acts on its own, dealing its respective damage over the course of its individual 10 second counter. The slowed down time lets you stack on multiple poisons onto multiple enemies, making this combination highly effective in situations where you're forced into open combat.
Concentrated Fire - The infiltrator fires a concentrated volley of poison tipped arrows at a single enemy.
Requires: Slow time + quick shot + Blood Thinning Agent
Works much the same way Venom Strike does except this is ideal for enemies you ought never get close to, such as dragons. This combo grants you ample time to land 4-5 good shots on a target. The high damage dealt by stacking poisons more than makes up for the negligible damage dealt with archery.
Stealth & Diversion - Stick close to the shadows...
Although capable of going head to head against enemies stealth remains your strongest weapon. Survey every situation before jumping into combat. The advanage of studying your enemy and devising a plan to crush them utterly cannot be understated. Neither can the advantage of being able to choose your battles. You need not fight every single enemy that stands in the way of your objective. Diversion Tactic can be used to lure enemies away from where you need to go or get them looking off in the wrong direction long enough to take them by surprise with Predator Strike.
Diversion Tactic also forces alerted enemies to draw their weapons as they search for you. You can use that time to scout for enemies with troublesome weapons and magic and plan accordingly with this newly gained intel.
Open Combat – Cant kill what you can't catch...
A predator strike is a great way to open up the fight given it’s crazy high damage potential. Use it to swoop in and eliminate the toughest enemy in the room. Your advantage with this move lies in its speed and your likelihood of remaining undetected even when used in the vicinity of multiple enemies. Use it to dart in an out of the shadows taking out enemies one swift move at a time.
Shadow warrior will make it much easier to surprise your enemy in open combat and thus should be used liberally. Crouching underneath the shade of a cliff, I've seen bandits in the middle of trying to lob my head off lose track of me in broad day light. Shadow warrior will open up brief windows of opportunity to get in a quick power attack.
Sometimes whether various quest scenarious leave you no choice, or you've messed up, you will be forced into open combat. Against large groups of enemies or a few very powerful ones Surgical Counter Strike will quickly even the odds. During the window of extended slow time lingering poison damage can be stacked over and over again onto multiple enemies. Along side power attacks enemies will suffer massive damage in a short time frame while struggling to catch you.
The Hit-list – The infiltrator is always prepared no matter the target.
Living humanoids are your easiest target since they are susceptible to sabotage measures. When you see mages, make them your first target. If you cant get in close enough to ambush them you ought to at the very least take them out of the fight with a Paralytic Agent.
There are numerous enemies immune to poisons. Draugr, and Automatons are the most notable ones. Even against such enemies you still have agility and stealth to work with. Surgical Strike is still a lethal combo even without poisons. These enemies are no better at keeping up with you than the living, so use your speed and the shadows to your advantage.
Concentrated Fire becomes you best friend when pitted against a dragon. Ensure you are in an area that offers some cover. If not, run to such an area. The dragon will likely follow. They're pretty persistent. When you have a clear shot use concentrated fire. If you don't the tools and perks that combo requires, the strategy still remains the same: Duck, Dodge, Hide, and shoot poison into the beast when you have a clear shot. A fight against a dragon is more or less a hide and seek game.
This mod was tested on the vanilla version of Skyrim. But if you want to take your experience with this character even further below are some mods you just simply can't go without. Given the nature of stealth builds there's actually quite a lot to choose from to enhance your gameplay.
Sneak Tools - Hands down the most essential mod in this list. Sneak Tools gives you access to every tool and tactic you need to be an elite infiltrator. You can knock unsuspecting enemies out with your bare fist, shroud your face to throw off pursuing guards and bounty hunters, and even rig and climb ropes. And there's so much more than that.
Contractor Armor/Arise Ch1 Black Sacrament- The Contractor armor mod adds a high quality set of black leather armor to the game. It comes in several varients, so pick which ever one you prefer. The Black Sacrament mod adds a large collection of Dark Brotherhood themed armors to include some awesome looking ninja face masks which will look amazing when paired with the contractor armor.
Immersive Weapons - The most popular weapon mod on the Nexus comes with an impressive array of katana style weapons that perfectly compliment the above armor mods.
Oriental Swordsmanship - Replaces the clunky 1-handed vanilla sword animations with awesome stylish sword style. I highly recommend using this alongside FNIS PCEA 2 which will make these animations exclusive to you.
Field Alchemy - It's such a pain in the ass to have to wait til you make it to an Apothecary before you can mix your ingredients. Field Alchemy allows you to craft your potions and poisons anytime and anywhere.
Immersive Detection of NPCs - I personally think this should be a requirement for any stealth focused build. This mod changes how NPC detection works to make sneaking more challenging, but more importantly more realistic. This mod goes perfectly along side any mod that darkens interior cells and dungeons. Each type of enemy npc is affected differently by this mod. For example Falmer are now 100% unable to "see" you, but are far more keen to even the slightest noise. Animals such as wolves have very keen senses and are thus very difficult to sneak around.
And there you have it. I hope you all enjoy playing this build as much as I have. This is easily the most fun I've had playing Skyrim so far. Be sure to check out my previous builds on my page and stick around, there's still plenty more builds to come.
-Raidriar for the armor combo "shadow thief" that inspired this build.
- Ben C and Vazgen for helping me name some of these deadly poisons
- Zimbu for his awesome screen shot.