Here's how to make the ultimate assassin build in Skyrim.

How to Make the Best Assassin Build in Skyrim Special Edition

Here's how to make the ultimate assassin build in Skyrim.

There are lots of ways to play as an Assassin in Skyrim Special Edition. You can concentrate on just one weapon, like a dagger or bow. You can use Illusion spells to hide yourself and Restoration for healing, or write off magic altogether. Good guy vs. bad guy.

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…you get the idea.

But let’s forget about roleplaying for a minute. Let’s say you want to create the most powerful assassin possible.

This is how you do it.  

Skyrim Assassin Build Race: Wood Elf or Khajit (or Whatever You Want)

To be honest, race isn’t a major factor. Wood Elves get a starting bonus to Archery, and Khajits get a starting bonus to Sneak. But since every race can max out every skill, it all evens out at the end.

If you don’t necessarily care about the starting stats, I have two recommendations for how you should choose your race:

  1. Pick your favorite race: Love Argonians? Cool — getting assassinated by a lizard would be kinda scary. But if you love something else, just go for it.
  2. Pick based on racial ability, not stats: The night vision that Khajit can use is nice if you install lighting mods. Nords have Battlecry, which help them get out of a jam. The extra magicka buff that High Elves boast is nice if you plan on using Illusion (which you should).

The point is — race isn’t too important. Pick one you like, and move on!

Skyrim Special Edition Assassin Build: Archery

This is a must.

While it is more satisfying to sneak up behind a baddy and slit their throat, that isn’t always an option.

Here are a few reasons why you need to invest in Archery:

  • Whittle down groups of enemies from afar: It’s difficult to sneak up on a group of 2-3 enemies, as they have a wider range of view. Taking them out without getting close puts you in less danger. 
  • Take out animals: Animals tend to hear/smell you better while sneaking than other enemies. Even though a high enough sneak score will eventually let you sneak up for a dagger strike, killing beasts from far away is very useful early game.
  • Dragons: These suckers fly. You can’t. And even though it’s nice to get a stealth attack on one with your dagger, there will be many battles where you won’t have that luxury. Having a bow or crossbow to attack from afar is critical.
  • Poison Arrows. You can have a lot more fun with poisoned arrows than you can with a poisoned dagger. Throw a Fury potion on an arrow and watch your enemies mow down the poor soul who got the arrow in his back! Or apply strong health poisons to your arrows to take out a dragon very quickly.

So, yeah — don’t ignore Archery!

Assassin Build – One-Handed Weapons

Let me be clear — you won’t be investing many perk points here. Armsman is great, but that’s the only perk you need to invest in. 

The reason you don’t need to invest in anything else is that you’re an assassin. Assassins don’t do well in melee combat. They can hold their own, but their expertise is taking out enemies without getting noticed.

Armsman is critical because it adds so much damage to your sneak attacks. Even if you only take 2 points in it, that’s increasing your damage by 40%. Multiplied by a factor of 15 (from the Sneak tree) adds up.

Skyrim Assassin Build: Illusion

First off — you should use Illusion because it’s the most fun tree of magic in the game.

But secondly, it’s basically built for assassins.

Here’s why:

  • Muffle helps stealth up to enemies early game, while you’re still improving your Sneak skills.
  • Invisibility… well, its pretty obvious how useful this can be.
  • Silent Casting is critical to make sure you don’t alert enemies to your presence.
  • Frenzy, Pacify and Fear can all be useful in the right situations. When you get a ton of enemies bearing down on you, these spells could be the difference between life or death.

Illusion is also very easy to level up, as Muffle tends to give you more experience towards it than it probably should. 

Do you have to use Illusion? Like everything else in this guide — of course not. But why wouldn’t you? It’s utility is unmatched, making you a much more capable taker of life.

Assassin Build: Blacksmithing

To inflict maximum damage, you need the best weapons available. Even though you can obtain Daedric weapons with a Sigil Stone, the easiest (and most logical) method is to build up your Blacksmithing skills.

For one thing, this allows you to improve your daggers and bows much better. More damage means yet MORE damage from your sneak damage multipliers, which equals profit.

Secondly, it helps you stay ahead of the game as you encounter more difficult enemies. It’s not easy to get your hands on a Glass or Daedric dagger early game. But if you can make something more in the mid-range, like an Orcish dagger and bow, that helps.

Plus, you’ll be glad to have that extra damage when you go up against something you can’t sneak attack, like a dragon that’s already spotted you.

Skyrim Assassin Build: Alchemy

I’ll be honest — Alchemy was never my favorite skill tree.

But it’s very useful.

In the quest of making the ultimate assassin, having a few poisons attached to your hip will be very handy. 

  • Fury poisons can help whittle down a group of enemies charging at you.
  • Health poisons will bring even the toughest foes down quickly.
  • Magicka poisons can be useful against mages that weren’t happy to find you sneaking around.

If you don’t want to invest in this tree, you can always buy poisons. The problem is that it’s always a gamble whether or not the shopkeeper will have what you’re looking for. Nevermind the fact that you can make stronger stuff than is available in stores.

Skyrim safety regulations or something.

Plus — they aren’t cheap!

Assassin Build: Dragon Shouts

I love dragon shouts. I think they’re one of the best aspects of the game.

Anyways, some fit with the assassin gameplay more than others. Here are a few I’d recommend:

  • Throw Voice: Besides just being funny, this one does prove useful. It gives you the ability to get an enemy’s attention, which is nice for getting them to turn their back to you. Granted, just shooting an arrow at a wall or the ground can do the same thing, but it’s not as fun and that’s more difficult when you’re out in the open on flat terrain.
  • Aura Whisper: Why does the military invest so much time and money in reconnaissance? Because it’s useful to see your enemies and know what they’re doing. That’s exactly what this shout does, which is especially useful for stealthy characters.

  • Marked for Death – If you get into unavoidable melee combat, you’ll be thankful to have this one. The effects stack, so using it multiple times will quickly diminish your enemy’s defense, letting you take them down quickly.

Need more? A few great defensive ones are Ice Form, Unrelenting Force, Whirlwind Sprint or Become Ethereal. Personally I think the 3 I highlighted fit an assassin character the best, though.

Assassin Build Followers: Warriors

When you’re snooping around caves, dungeons, etc. you don’t really want any kind of follower. They’re too loud and dumb.

But it’s not a bad idea to travel with one. When you get caught out in the open, you might appreciate the help that a strong follower can provide. A beefy warrior follower such as Mjoll or Farkus is best.

Why? Mainly because they’ll charge into combat, letting you decide what you want to do. If it’s a fight you can’t win, you can run! If it’s something you and your follower can handle, whip out your bow or Illusion spells and have at it.

The problem with archers and mages is they’ll also want to hang back, essentially expecting you to tank for them.

Not good.

The Best Armor for Skyrim Assassin Builds: Dark Brotherhood or Nightingale (Light Armor)

You probably could’ve guessed that Light Armor is the way to go. It provides some defense, while also helping you stay stealthy. 

The thing is — which one should you go with?

If you’re partial to one of the kinds you can craft (such as Glass or Elven,) that’s fine. Go for it!

But if you want to look the part of an assassin, it really comes down to either Dark Brotherhood or Nightingale armor. The Dark Brotherhood helps you do more damage, which is what you’re looking for.

The Nightingale set is more catered towards thieves, but is the coolest looking armor in the game. If you’re going for Skyrim’s version of Fashion Souls (a.k.a. Dark Souls) this is the best one for you.


You can probably guess how to play an assassin, but I wanted to break it down quickly here.

  • When entering a cave or fort, tell your follower to wait for you far away so they don’t attract attention.
  • Use your bow to take out enemies in groups.
  • Decide which shout is best for your situation (such as Aura Whisper while in a fort) and use it wisely. Remember that enemies hear most shouts (although Aura Whisper is quieter and harder for them to hear).
  • When you find enemies by themselves, go for a dagger kill to maximize damage output.
  • Use potions or spells when you’re in a pinch, going up against strong enemies or need a boost to your Sneak skills.

You don’t have to roleplay (such as taking lots of contracts from the Dark Brotherhood) but you can if you want!


One of the most fun ways to play Skyrim Special Edition is with an assassin build. They aren’t as strong in direct combat as other builds, but it is probably the most overpowered build in the game. 

Good luck and have fun in Tamriel!

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I've probably put more hours into video games than my kid has been alive. Call of Duty, MOBAs and Skyrim are to blame!