A blade in the night: Getting started in ESO's Dark Brotherhood DLC

Brothers and Sisters rejoice! ESO's Dark Brotherhood DLC finally lets us take revenge for years of fetch quests - and I'm here to show you how.

With the Thieves Guild DLC firmly behind us, Elder Scrolls Online has decided to delve deeper into the Grand Theft Dragon genre with its newest expansion Dark Brotherhood. While the thieves of Hew's Bane were more businesspeople with ninja masks than anything else, this expansion pulls no punches in giving us exactly what we want as MMORPG players -- murder. Lots and lots of murder. And loot! 

But mostly murder.

Be warned, however, that even this life has a cost -- around 2000 Crowns or an ESO Plus membership is required to join the family. 

If that's the kind of thing you're after in your swords and sorcery simulator (and we think it might be), read on as we help you get started on your new path of brutality with a guide written in blood. 

Disclaimer: Guide may not actually be written in blood

Carving out a name for yourself

The Dark Brotherhood is an elite organization operating in the shadows of Tamriel, slitting throats and splitting hearts for the glory of the Dread Father Sithis and the Night Mother, while keeping tabs on everyone of any importance -- so like the Illuminati. With knives. The Illumiknifey.

Being as discerning (as well as "obviously illegal" and "possibly insane") as the Brotherhood is, it makes sense that it's invite only. Luckily, we've tracked down someone that's just as excited to get started stabbing as you are - and word is she knows how to get the attention of the Brotherhood. 

She looks friendly.

Meet Amelie Crowe -- Gold Coast aficianado, serial stabbing enthusiast, and frequenter of Outlaw Refuges (yes, all of them. No, we don't know how either. We're assuming Quen taught her). She enjoys long walks on the beach, ominously standing around on the docks of Anvil, and giving you your introductory quest "Voices in the Night" to get the organization's attention. 

If it sounds complicated, don't worry - "Voices in the Night" as about as simple a quest as they come. All you have to do is find a person wandering about Anvil minding their own business... and put the pointy end of a weapon into them (or the burny end, if you're magically inclined).

Do the deed and return to Anvil's docks, and you'll find a messenger waiting for you with a very strange invitation to the nearby lighthouse, courtesy of Speaker Terenus -- your way into the ranks of the Brotherhood.

In the business of bloodshed

Once you're a member of the family, you'll gradually unlock new ways to hone your art of assassination. Make sure to meet all of your new brothers and sisters before speaking with Elam Drals, the Dark Elf with an even darker sense of humor. He'll hand you your first Contract killing, and soon enough (after you complete "A Lesson in Silence"), Speaker Terenus will return to offer you the chance to fulfill a Sacrament quest.

When that's finished, return to the sanctuary and find the Dark Elf Nevusa to begin your Litany of Blood. Should these not quench your insatiable bloodlust, the Gold Coast towns also offer Bounties on some of the less friendly things that roam around -- but those fight back, and where's the fun in that?


Contracts (found in the Marked for Death book near Elam Drals) are the more mundane and straightforward operations of the Brotherhood - someone has gold, wants someone dead, and needs someone else to do the deadening. 

These quests will take you all across Tamriel in search of your target (or targets), but as long as you stay low and keep quiet none of them are too difficult. Get in, use your fun new execution moves with the Blade of Woe you got in your Dark Brotherhood gift bag (by pressing X when stealthed near your target), and soon enough you'll be able to collect your rewards from Drals back at the Sanctuary.

While you can only hire out on one Contract at a time, you can keep the blood flowing as many times a day as you please. 

Just...try to keep the maniacal cackling to a minimum. Low profile, remember?


"No, I don't know why our underground base has a window, either."

Sacraments (handed out by Speaker Terenus in the Gold Coast Sanctuary), are a bit trickier. Someone, somewhere, needs someone else dead enough to offer up a prayer to the Night Mother -- and Spooky Mom and Dread Dad love helping those in need (of being murdered). While you can only fulfill one Sacrament a day, the Brotherhood knows that the family that slays together stays together, and has graciously allowed you to bring some friends along for the fun

These quests will have you transported to underground locations filled with a bunch of people you want to messily assassinate, and one person you need to.

Sure, you can just walk in and paint the walls red (and trust us, we have), but the Speaker also prizes some Thieves' Guild merits. Be on the lookout for his bonus objectives like "finishing the job before the Overseer arrives" or "sneaking past people instead of eviscerating them" to claim even greater rewards. 

Or just hack and slash your way through everything, and pretend a loud announcer voice has started yelling things like "Running Riot" or "Killing Spree". You get less loot that way, but we won't tell you how to live your life. 


While not actually associated with the Brotherhood, ESO's Dark Brotherhood expansion does offer a few more daily quests if you're in the mood to fight something that's "dangerous", or "awake" for whatever reason. The cities of Anvil and Kvatch also need some killing done - though in the more traditional "slay the menacing beasts" sense than the newer fun kind. 

Nevertheless, be sure to check the Bounty Boards in both cities to accept a daily Bounty quest. They'll lead you into the local delves, the Kvatch Arena, or even pit you against some of the newer world bosses like a gigantic minotaur - but reward you handsomely if you can get the job done. 

The Litany of Blood

Good. Skulls. It needed skulls. I'm glad.

The Litany of Blood is a bit different from the more day to day deathdealing you've been doing. An overarching questline that spans Tamriel, the Litany is a series of clues that describe potential victims all over the world but in a vague, riddle fashion. They're like Skyshards, really.

Squishy, stabbable Skyshards that make bleedy noises.

While they won't give you additional Skill Points, unfortunately, deciphering the clues and completing the Litany will reward you with a special achievement and a new Polymorph

If you ever get lost or forget who needs to get dead next, ESO even gives you a handy pocket version to take with you and consult when necessary. 

Arts of Assassination

Like the four Guilds before it, the Dark Brotherhood has seen fit to equip its new brothers and sisters with a Guild-specific skill tree available to all members who have purchased the DLC or have an active ESO Plus  membership. 

You don't forget anything you've learned if your Plus membership lapses, of course, but advancement in these techniques requires current membership in the Brotherhood, whether its from Plus or Crowns. I'll tell you all about the fun stuff below. 

  • Blade of Woe - The signature weapon of the Brotherhood, the Blade of Woe allows you to instantly assassinate any lesser target (not PCs or tougher, specially marked monsters) when fully stealthed behind the mark. 
  • Scales of Pitiless Justice - The Brotherhood takes care of its own, and any Witnesses to your work in the name of the Night Mother will soon fall silent. The Scales of Pitiless Justice decreases Bounty and Heat from a witnessed Murder or Assault. 
  • Padomaic Sprint - Getting in is up to you, but dear old Mom and Dad certainly help their children get out. Padomaic Sprint grants you Major Expedition for six seconds after killing a citizen, ensuring a hasty retreat back to Sanctuary. 
  • Shadowy Supplier - Assassination is dangerous work, especially lately, but Shadowy Supplier helps keep you ready for anything by granting you additional beneficial items upon completing a Contract once per day. Just visit any Outlaw's Refuge once the job is done, and find Remains-Silent for your extra supplies.
  • Shadow Rider - This deep into the game, you've become one scary individual. Anything hostile thinks twice about attacking when they see you ride by, reducing your aggression radius by half when mounted. 
  • Spectral Assassin - Now that you're one of the Night Mother's favorites, Spectral Assassin gives you a 15% chance to remain hidden from sight when executing someone with Blade of Woe - allowing you to avoid being witnessed or accruing a bounty. You still have to share your room, though. 

You catch all that? Good. Now keep your Blade of Woe sharp, and go splash around in some blood puddles while you make Mom and Dad proud. I know parts of it can get confusing, so if you need anything don't hesitate to call on me. I'm here to help. (Especially with this Thieves' Guild guide, if you're in need.)

We're family, after all. 


Writer, analyst, conqueror of games, vanquisher of Hard Modes. Can lift an entire car tire over his head. Capable of cooking even the most difficult of TV dinners. Drinks coffee from bowls. Known frolicker. Is a professional pretend wizard.

Published Jun. 7th 2016

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