Character Build: The Shadowcaster

For this build I wanted to create a character that could combine stealth and magic in a unique, perhaps never before seen fashion. What I ended up with was an amazingly effective decoy and ambush specialist. I proudly present...

The Shadowcaster


"There are no order or organization of Shadowcasters - they are self taught elite assassins, masters of concealment and ambush. They strike from darkness, often employing daedra as personal decoys and illusions to addle the minds of their foes before thrusting their blades through their victims' backs."

The shadowcaster is a lethal combination of dual wielding assassin, conjurer, and illusionist; The end result being arguably one of the most effective ways to play a dual wield assassin! Dual wielding alone is normally a messy venture, what with the blocking with your face part. But the aforementioned lethal combo of skills allows the shadowcaster to capitalize on a key vulnerability in all enemies' AI that compels them to relentlessly attack the first target they spot until it dies. Once employed, this tactic allows the shadow caster to remain completely unnoticed all the while viciously cutting the enemy down with impunity. 


Khajiit  work best for this class. Sneak is by far the most important skill tree of this build and the khajiit get a fantastic bonus of 25 levels to sneak right from the start. They also get a nice starting bonus of 20 to One Handed. Night eye is always useful for those dark places and your claws deal solid damage until your weapon attack starts to improve. 


Take the Mage Stone early on to level up the Illusion and Conjuration skill trees. Take the ShadowStone once those trees are maxed out. On those rare occasions you happen to mess up and the enemy is hot on your tail, you'll want to disappear immediately, without delay. The shadow stone provides an instantaneous escape for those situations.




Sneak: Essential for staying hidden while moving about and setting up ambushes. Also serves to make you very difficult to detect, standing or not, once the fighting breaks out

Enchantment:  Enables you to keep your magicka levels full by simply attacking. Prevents running out of magicka to summon decoys from ever becoming an issue

Conjuration: Used to create decoys and keep enemy attention diverted. 

Illusion: Used in conjunction with conjurations to divert enemy attention away from you and to ensure frenzy rune will work on just about anything

One-Handed: The main damage dealer. The dual wielding perks are vital. They will grant you both the speed and power to end enemies very quickly. 

Smithing: Steel smithing and arcane smithing are the only perks you will need here. The blades sword has strong base damage, and only requires steel smithing to improve, and arcane smithing will allow you to boost your nightingale armor a bit.

Destruction: Invested into solely for rune master, which will give frenzy rune a much needed range boost 



  • Armor - Nightingale Armor, boots and gloves; Silver circlet

             Armor: Stamina Boost, Frost Resistance
             Boots: Muffle
             Gloves: Fortify Lockpicking, Fortify One Handed
             Circlet: Fortify Conjuration

  • Although the quest to attain the Nightingale armor is a bit lengthy, you'll come out of it with a very high sneak level and a lot of coin. The Nightingale armor set is both aesthetically and functionality wise, perfect for a shadowcaster. The boost to illusion and one-handed damage are especially helpful. 
  • Weapons - Blade's Sword and Daedric Dagger

            Sword: Absorb Magicka     

            Dagger: Absorb Stamina (1 point) 

  • The great thing about the blade's sword is how early in the game you can attain it, and the fact that it only requires steel smithing to upgrade. Simply make the trip to Nightgate Inn and kill the man who has it. The daedric dagger can also be attained relatively early with no smithing skill required. Just take a trip to the Atronoch forge in the Midden and dump in the necessary ingredients. The enchantments on these weapons are designed to enable the shadowcaster to maintain a high magicka pool and keep the vicious volley of power attacks going regardless of remaining stamina. 
  • Ring/Pendant - Fortify One-Handed Damage
  • Conjurations, particularly dremora lords and storm atronochs, cost a ton even with mastery perks. Fortify conjuration helps reduce the cost to very manageable levels. One-handed damage is           essential for heightening the shadowcaster's damage and ending battles quickly once the decoy bait is taken. 
  • Misc. Tools - Azura's Black Star
  • This nifty daedric artifact acts as an infinitely reusable grand soul gem. With this, you'll be able to easily maintain the charge levels on your weapons without needing to haul around tons of soul gems. 


  • Illusion - Invisibility, Frenzy Rune    
  • Conjuration - Wrathmen, Flame, Frost, and Storm Atronach


  • Throw Voice: A staple in many rogue builds. Enables you to lure your hapless enemies to one location to be ambushed.
  • Slow Time: Useful for taking an enemy out before they can react. More on this below.
  • Marked For Death: The perfect way to worsten the plight of your enemies once they've fallen for your ambush tactics. 


Perks & Stats 


Magicka 2; Health 1; Stamina 1

You are going to want to prioritize magicka as the shadowcaster is highly reliant on two schools of magick with high spell costs. Once your Health totals hit 200 you will want to switch to a 2:1 ratio between Magicka and Stamina. This ensures your spell costs are met while ensuring you have enough Health to scrape by if you slip up, and enough stamina to get in a good number of power attacks. 

Sneak, Enchanting and One Handed are the top priority to level up. Luckily you can have sneak and one handed maxed out within an hour if you're willing to use the Ralof/Hadvar exploit. Sneak alone can be maxed out in mere minutes this way. 

Enchant your dagger with soul trap as soon as possible. You'll find that Enchanting is a very easy crafting skill to level up. Soul gems are easy to come by. Draugr infested tombs make excellent hunting grounds for souls. Convert all the dwarven junk you come across into dwarven ingots. Making dwarven bows is the most effective way to level up Smithing. You're only going to need to get Smithing to 60 to get all the needed perks, a task which should be simple.

Illusion is very easy to level up with the muffle spell. Once you have access to frenzy rune and invisibility, mastering the Illusion tree becomes a cake walk. Destruction need only be trained up to level 40 for rune master, which is essential for getting the distance necessary to make frenzy rune usable.Lastly, Conjuration can be leveled up to max very easily by casting soul trap on dead bodies.



The overall strategy surrounding this build is simple: Keep the enemy distracted using your conjurations to act as a diversion and illusions and stealth to break line of sight as necessary. For whatever reason enemies never switch targets unless one of three conditions are met: Their target dies, line of sight is lost, or a new target enters their line of sight for too long. Ideally you want to keep as many enemies as possible huddled around your decoys attacking them.

Various Conjuration work best against different enemies. Creating the best distraction requires knowing the best decoy to use in every situation. Generally you want to force enemies into melee range against your decoys. 

Flame Atronach: Very good for the early game. It works especially well against fire wielding mages and dragons. By mid and late game the flame atronach is rendered obsolete by the storm atronach which performs better against dragons, and the frost atronach which perform far better at melee range. Flame atronachs have a tendency to back away from the fray to fight at range, which is the opposite of what you want unless you're against a dragon.

Frost Atronach: Very good even in late game against most enemies. It comes with frost cloak which does wonders against warriors. While not as durable as the Wrathman, it remains the go to option against frost magic users. If you're lacking Dawnguard, stick to this decoy for all your melee needs

Storm Atronach: Much like the Flame atronach this guy prefers to fight at range, but its chainlightning attack absolutely wrecks dragons. Enough zaps from these guys make it harder for dragons to use their breath attacks. These guys are strong enough to take down even an elder dragon on their own given enough time. 

Wrathmen: The overall best summon to use. Summoning cost is quite cheap for an expert level spell, and wrathmen come with nearly as much durability as a dremora lord. The only flaw with these guys is having to get a fair ways into the Dawnguard questline to get them. 


Special Techniques


Requires:  Invisibility + Shadow Warrior

The Shadowcaster vanishes in a shroud of darkness causing all enemies to lose sight of their target. Enemies are forced to seek out more readily visible targets

Shadow warrior causes enemies to lose track of you and invisibility keeps it that way. This combo lets you disappear anywhere anytime, no running and hiding required. Combine this nifty trick with conjurations and you get.....




Requires: Any Summon(s) + Shadow Warrior

The Shadowcaster vanishes in a shroud of darkness leaving up to two daedric minions behind to act as decoys. Enemies focused on decoys are left vulnerable.

With this combo you can not only vanish briefly, but also shift your enemies' focus onto your summoned daedra. Enemies will not bother targeting you until those daedra die. 




Devious Harm

Requires: Slow Time + Shadow Warrior +  Dual Wield Power Strikes 

A poor unsuspecting target is singled out and mercilessly slaughtered with a series of deadly precision strikes. 

Enemies far enough from the fray have a small chance of turning their attention towards you once attacked. This combo allows you to counter this by making it impossible for them to retaliate or retreat fast enough. When you're within range of an enemy use shadow warrior followed immediately by a dual wield power strike. If you're lucky you'll deal critical sneak attack damage. 




Requires: Throw Voice Lvl 3 + Frenzy + Summon(s) 

The Shadowcaster weaves a malicious spell that leaves all enemies confused and frenzied. Affected enemies will attack allies as well as decoys, and are left highly vulnerable to attacks at their flank.

A more powerful version of Ambush which enables you to take on an overwhelming number of enemies by turning their numbers against them. Lure enemies to a single point with throw voice. Cast Frenzy Rune in the middle of the mob, then send out your decoys. A frenzied, confused mob makes for a very easy target.





  • Your goal in battle is to contain your enemies by forcing them to engage your decoys at melee range. This allows you to freely attack your enemies with deadly dual wield power strikes. Their attention will be so intensely focused on your decoys that standing right behind them attacking will not cause them to turn around.
  • Against a small group decoy works just fine. If they're scattered far away from each other, find a good hiding spot with a good vantage point and start setting up for an ambush, but if the enemy is very numerous (6+), use pandemonium instead.
  • When fighting a group consisting of mostly mages, try to use an atronach that matches the element they plan to use. If they're lacking back up elements, they'll be forced to resort to melee attacks
  • Atronachs are very useful against mages. Always seek to match the atronach you summon with the element the enemy mage is using. Doing so will force them to forgo magic in favor of melee attacks, which is exactly what you want. 
  • When up against mostly archers try to place your decoys as close to them as possible. This will often result in them switching to a melee weapon.
  • Go after anyone attacking from a long range first. They have a small chance of spotting you from their distant vantage point. If they turn to engage you, use Devious Harm to take them out. Alternatively you can cast frenzy rune on them. Enemies unaffected by frenzy will still attack any of their affected allies.
  • When up against dragons, use storm atronachs as your decoy of choice (flame atronachs if you havent gotten storm atronachs yet) and attack with marked for death. By the time the dragon works up the courage to land, it will have been severely weakened by marked for death, making it easy to take out at close range. 

 Recommended Mods:

  • Daedric Entity Restoration Project - If you're looking to vastly improve on Skyrim's limited variety of summonable monstrocities, look no further. This mod reintroduces almost all of the daedra seen in previous elder scrolls titles. Everything from scamps, clanfears, and even oghrims are now yours to summon.                                              
  • Cover Khajiit - A simple Hi-Res texture replacer for Khajiit faces. If you're going to go on a killing spree, you may as well look good doing it.
  • Enchanted Arsenal - Grants you complete and total freedom to customize the appearance of all weapon enchantments.
  • Capeless Nightingale Armor & Nightingale Phoenix - As the name suggests, the Capeless Nightingale Armor mod removes the cape from the Nightingale Armor. The Nightingale Phoenix mod is an awesome looking black Hi-Res texture replacer thats compatible with the afor mentioned capeless mod. Together they make a bad ass Nightale Armor set.
  • Jaysus Swords - A large selection of beautifully rendered, superb looking swords and daggers, for your hack n' slashing amusement. All of these weapons are craftable and also included within the game's leveled lists. So pick out your favorite blades and go nuts. 
  • Enhanced Blood Textures - A must have for any savagely violent character build. This mod offers you a much more satisfyingly bloody and gruesome combat experience. Now get out there and paint the streets red!

Closing Remarks:

                Any compliments or constructive criticism is very much welcome. I really enjoyed creating this build and hope you enjoy it as well. If you enjoyed my build and would like to see more like this, be sure to 'like' it. You support means a lot. Thanks. 


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  • Great take on an assassin that utilizes magic
  • “Teccam sux”
    • Indeed he does. Also got another gameplay video up. 

      • I always find it annoying when I get discovered while playing as an assassin character. I usually like to clear a whole dungeon cleanly without being spotted but you adapted to being discovered really well and executed swiftly.

        • Thats whats so cool about this build. I can control what enemies target allowing myself to run around in the open whereas most assassin builds would be hiding. 

  • That cat had no business surviving against that many forsworn. Either this build that damn good or you’re that damn skilled. 

    • Hah, yeah you’re probably right about that. I like to put my builds through some pretty suicidal odds to test their mettle. 

      • Suicidal is an understatement. As soon as I saw how many enemies you were up against I thought for sure you were done for. 

  • What animations are those? They look sick. 

  • Beautiful build. Personally this was never one of my favorites of yours but that's exactly what makes these build videos you have been doing SO IMPORTANT. The video shows me what I couldn't see through reading. The excitement and fast pace of a build that on paper (strictly looking at skills) looks like a sit back and watch type of character. Video earned the like on this one - keep it going dude.

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