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Stealth, Thievery, Assassination: A look at being silent and unseen

Discussion in 'Skyrim Guides and Tutorials' started by Squirrel_killer-, Jul 3, 2012.

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  1. Squirrel_killer-

    Squirrel_killer- The blade in the dark and the hand at your throat

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    A few notes before we begin:

    This is not a build guide. This guide is meant to teach you the arts stealth, thievery, and assassination. I have long honed my stealthy-ness through hours of practice and training both my personal skill and my in game level. This led to a very good personal understanding of the Skyrim stealth in practice. I didn’t learn this by trying to figure out the games programming or anything I learnt through trial and error. By honing my skills until I was like a ghost in the shadows. I can make a new character and sneak through the most enemy infested dungeons. This is because of personal skill and technique. And so rather than giving you a build I will try to explain techniques and simple rules to follow. I will of course get into things like spells, enchantments, perks, and what not. But first I will teach you the techniques. Then I will talk about things like perks and stuff.

    Techniques for stealth in general:

    Now stealth is rather simple. It is simple not being detected. The way to do this is to stay in the shadows far from anyone who may see you, move slowly and quietly from shadow to shadow as you approach your goal, whether it’s the other side of the room, a chest full of loot, or an enemy. Now the trick to this is to watch everyone around you. Watch their patrol routes and who can see who and who stands where and the direction they face. And decide when the best time to move is. Sometimes you should actually follow a guard into a room then zip into a shadow and assess the situation. Other times it makes more sense to wait for a guard to turn his back then slip in behind him. Everything is case by case when it comes to stealth. But before you sneak your way to your goal make sure you have a detailed plan and back-up plan. Make sure you have everything ready before you take a step.

    Let’s make a check list of things you should do, shall we?

    [1]Choose a target. Whether its loot, an enemy, or just a location such as a way out, have a target in mind.
    [2]Where is everyone? Try to get a good look at everyone and remember where they are, their patrol routes, and which direction they face. That way you can avoid them.
    [3]Know the shadows, know the light. You need to know where the shadows are, which places are lit up and how dark or well-lit everywhere is. That way you can plot your route through the shadows and lower your chance to be detected.
    [4]Have your back-up plan all planned out. You don’t want to get caught with nowhere to go and end up getting circle beat by an ugly group of morons do you? So have a back-up plan.
    [5]Know your surroundings. You might say this should come first but really your will need to know the other stuff before this just in case your pressed for time. Still it helps to know when there is a plate you can through across the room as a distraction, a trap you can set off in a fight, or that it is possible to put out one of those pesky lights.

    Now then let us get off to some more advance goodies. Luring your enemies around is a skill to master. There are different ways to do this. One is to fire an arrow to where you want them to look. Another more obvious way is to use the Throw Voice shout found at Shearpoint (map credited to UESP). You could also set off a noise trap to lure them over to it. Yet a far too often over looked way to distract or lure your enemy is to pick up a random piece of junk and throw it across the room. Any of these will lure an enemy or over to them opening the way for you to slip pass.

    Another trick it to use third-person view. This nifty little trick lets you see your surroundings better when sneaking, or planning. Not to mention it makes corner peaking a breeze since it takes away some of the risk. You can zoom out the camera for a better view as well (to zoom and un-zoom on PS3 and XBox 360 hold down the right-stick button and use the left stick to move the camera closer or further from your character. Use the mouse wheel on PC.).

    Using silent roll to close the distance or to move from hiding place to hiding place quickly is invaluable to getting around unseen and unheard. This can be used to slip in close to an enemy and get a sneak attack in that you would otherwise not have the time for, move from enemy to enemy to string sneak attacks together, move through a dangerous trap fast enough to survive, to escape before you are detected if you get seen, or to just simply move faster without breaking your sneak.

    Some tricks for thievery:

    Now then stealth is primarily part of the thief skills. So why not use it to be a thief right? Now thieving means you aren’t necessarily out to kill. In fact a good thief doesn’t need to kill, they can sneak through anywhere. Now when you are out to steal something it is likely going to be in a house. And houses are generally in cities or towns. And cities and towns are generally guard infested ant nests. So that means you may have trouble from them. Now the first rule to thievery is to pick your mark well, whether you’re breaking into a house or store, or pickpocketing, you need to pick the right mark. Next is to have an escape route. If you’re caught be ready to run so have a route in mind. From here it depends on whether you are pickpocketing or burglarizing a place.

    Pickpocketing:

    [1]Choose your mark. Preferably someone worth your effort.
    [2]Plan your escape route. If you get caught you need a route to escape so the guard doesn’t fine you, lock you up, or kill you.
    [3]Choose your moment to strike. Pick a point when the guard isn’t near and not as many people have a chance to see you if possible.
    [4]Approach unseen. Make sure the mark AND everyone else in the area doesn’t know you are there when you go to pickpocket your poor victim.
    [5]Assess the contents. Only pick things that are worth the risk. My priorities list normally is: quest-related items, coins, keys, light-weight low-risk high-value items, heavier higher-risk high-value items.

    Burglary:

    [1]Choose your mark. Pick out a nice house or store that you haven’t cleaned out in a while. Preferably one with the loot shadowmark (picture borrowed off of Calcelmo’s awesome “Guide To Shadowmarks” right here in these forums.
    [​IMG]
    [2]Case the place. Figure out when the owner is and isn’t around, and when they are asleep. Locate every route in and out and plan your route in and out of the place. Try to get inside when it is safe to go inside, this helps a lot when you are planning everything out.
    [3]Plan an escape route for all exits. If you are caught plan a route from every exit so that you can leave through whatever door you get to first.
    [4]Get your “key”. Sometimes you can steal a key for easy access. Sometimes you need to just pick the lock. Just get what you need.
    [5]Choose your moment to strike. Pick a time when the victim isn’t home for a while or is asleep. You can normally steal whatever you want in less than 15 minutes once you are good at picking out your loot.
    [6]Break in. if you have a key you can just walk in unhindered by the guard or witnesses. If you need to pick a lock, do it while unseen.
    [7]Choose you loot. Go through the contents of the house and its containers taking anything of value. If the owner is sleeping, pick their pockets as well.
    [8]Leave. Now you just need to escape undetected and you are home free!

    Now then time to take a look at Value/Weight Ratios:

    A value/weight ratio helps us better determine if something is worth it. The value/weight ratio is:

    Value = Base Value / Weight

    Now lets look at this in practice shall we? We are going to compare two medium level armors. Elven, and dwarven. At first glance dwarven is worth nearly double the amount of elven which is only 43.75% of the value of dwarven... or is it? let's really look at this.

    Elven Armor:

    Base Value = 225
    Weight = 4
    Value = 225 / 4 = 56.25

    Dwarven Armor:

    Base Value = 400
    Weight = 45
    Value = 400 / 45 = 8.888888888888889


    WAIT! Am I reading this right? Yea, that's right. Dwarven is only 15.802469135802468% of the value of elven. But you probably won't be stealing armor. So lets look at some items you will find in most houses. Plates have a value of 2-10, clothing found in general as you break in and rob different houses is anywhere from 1-100, literally. Jewelry spans from 120-2,400. See the money signs? Thought you would.

    Now last thing I have to say is know your fence. Make sure you don’t take more than they can afford to buy.

    Just a few words on that nasty art of assassination:

    Now where would a good stealth guide be without a word on killing silently? Assassination is the art of killing unseen. So let us get on with it shall we? Now then, the trick to assassination is to strike first, strike fast, kill fast. When using a bow this normally means everyone’s favorite saying “one shot, one kill” so make sure you have a clear line of sight, throw on any poisons you need, drink your potions, and take your shot. If there are multiple targets then you need to kill them as fast as you can or move position so they don’t find you. When you are using melee to assassinate things get trickier, you got to approach unseen and unheard, normally from behind, so that you can take that one, defining swing that kills your target. Then you need to slip back into the shadows and hide before anyone else finds you. This can be difficult since every enemy in the room will converge on your location if any of them notice the body and sound the alarm. This will make it far harder to sneak up on them. Now if you have the pickpocketing perk “poisoned” you can also use poisons on some enemies to silently kill them. Whichever method you use make sure you plan out the method you are going to use and have a back-up plan if detected.

    Bringing magic into the mix:

    Now let’s get onto something flashy. Magic can make sneaking easier as well as help get rid of enemies unseen. Most of the good spells for stealthy game play come from the illusion achool. These include; invisibility spells can help you walk through a crowded room unseen, muffle spells to let you move unheard, calm spells to make your enemies forget you’re there, fear spells to get them to run away so you can also escape, and fury spells make your enemies fight each other. There are many perks to increase the effectiveness of all these spells. Other good spells for sneaky players are the alteration spells detect life and detect dead to help see enemies through walls, telekinesis to pick up items at a distance and to throw them to make a little noise for a distraction, and paralyzing spells to help hold enemies in one place so you can escape or kill them while they are helpless.

    Now I know you want to deal some damage so let us get to some spells that make good combat spells for sneaky players without blowing your cover. Rune spells, from the destruction school, lay an explosive trap that you can set in a spot and wait for your enemies to step on and… BANG! They got they just got frozen with surprise, or shocked by the sudden explosion, or burned by their own carelessness. I’ll stop with the bad puns now to say you get the point. These can be placed down on a wall or the floor then enemies can be lured to their doom.

    Another good collection of spells to have for a sneaky guy like ourselves, are from the conjuration school. Yes I know raising the dead or summoning daedra isn’t very sneaky, but we aren’t here for those spells, we’re going to look at the bound bow spell, the banish daedra spells, and command daedra spell. Bound bow does 42 base-damage and with the mystic binding perk it does a damn nice 48 base damage, add on your archery perks, potions, and poisons and that’s the most damage you can do without using smithing to improve your own daedric weapons, and with the oblivion binding perk it adds a banish daedra and turn undead effect to your bow, and the spell tome for bound bow can be found at level 1 over at Fort Amol, heads up though because for that kind of power costs 207 base magicka cost. Now the banish daedra spells are pretty simple. They banish daedra basically unsummoning them, might not sound all that cool but it’s a fight avoided and when you are playing it stealthy you want to avoid a fight, besides it’s like doing infinite damage for any daedra it effects. Command daedra simply works like a fury spell that’s specific to daedra (and possibly undead need to confirm this still keep forgetting to try it), while having them ignore you, it helps make the fight easier by adding an ally, and it can be used from the shadows to cause the enemy’s summoned friend into their worst enemy.

    Lastly the turn undead and circle spells from the restoration school can get some pests off you so you can hind again to avoid further conflict and get those sneak attack bonuses on those now running scared undead.

    Every kind of school of magic has some use to a thief, assassin or just someone trying to be sneaky. So don’t count them out and with silent casting every school becomes fare easier to sneak with since your spells aren’t noisy anymore.

    Useful perks, enchantments, spells, shouts, and other stuff:

    To save time I am just going to make a few short lists here.

    Perks:

    • Poisoned (Pickpocket 40 required)
    • Unbreakable (Lockpicking 100 required)
    • Quick Hands (Lockpicking 40 required)
    • All the sneak perks (Sneak 100 required)
    • Unhindered (Light Armor 50 required)
    • Conditioning (Heavy Armor 70 required)
    • Quiet Casting (Illusion 50 required)

    Enchantments:

    • Fortify Lockpicking, Pickpocket, or Sneak
    • Muffle

    Spells:

    • Detect Life
    • Detect Dead
    • Fire/Frost/Lightening Rune
    • Invisibility
    • Muffle
    • Telekinesis

    Shouts:

    • Aura Whisper
    • Throw Voice

    Powers:

    • Night Eye
    • Vampire's Sight
    • The Shadow Stone
    • Shadowcloak of Nocturnal
    • Embrace of Shadows
    • The Tower Stone

    Factions:

    Thieves Guild
    Dark Brotherhood

    Specific Items and Artifacts:

    • Mehrunes’ Razor – Chance to have an instant kill with the same base damage as daedric dagger making it an excellent weapon for sneak attacks.
    • Ebony Mail – Muffled enchantment making you move silently as well as a 5 damage per second poison aura allowing you to damage your enemies with your presence.
    • Krosis – 20% Fortify Lockpicking, Archery, and Alchemy, allowing you to pick locks easier, do more damage with your bow, and make more powerful potions and poisons.
    • Rahgot – Gives 70 points of stamina allowing to, run longer, stay zoomed with your bow longer, silently roll more often, or use more power attacks.
    • Volsung – Carry 20 pounds more weight, get 20% better prices, and breath underwater. A good mask for thieves who want more loot.
    • Skeleton Key – unbreakable lock pick
    • White Phial – Can be set to give a 20% fortify sneak for 60 seconds once a day.
    • The Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild both give a collection of armors throughout them that give useful effects for thieves, assassins, and other stealth oriented players.

    A last note:

    This should help you be a better thief, assassin, or otherwise sneaky person. Now I didn’t give away my every secret but I’m sure you learned a thing or two or at the very least got a few new ideas of your own. There are other useful sneaking guides if you need more in-depth instructions or other ideas, but this should have given you enough to survive. As always any suggestions, additions, or otherwise helpful information is welcome. There is still a lot more beyond this I could have mentioned and I may add more in the future. It is just hard to think of everything there is to know at the time of writing a guide as expansive as this one, but hopefully this helped.


    (Credit to xShadow Shockx, ActOfGod, and KritikalPT for suggestions)
     
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  2. xShadow Shockx

    xShadow Shockx Zeymah-Se-Vokuns

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    Very nice guide!
     
  3. Squirrel_killer-

    Squirrel_killer- The blade in the dark and the hand at your throat

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    Thank you. I find there just isn't enough guides on just general stealth. They all seem to be about stealthy combat only.
     
  4. xShadow Shockx

    xShadow Shockx Zeymah-Se-Vokuns

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    Yeah, I've noticed that too.

    Like you, I play a heavy stealth role when I play these types of games, and I play it almost exactly as you've described in this guide. One thing that I've found helps me a lot, is to play in third-person view when I'm assaulting a location, whether it be exploring a dungeon, cave, or ruin of some sort, or breaking and entering into a house for a burglary, assassination, etc. The reason that it helps me, is because I can better use the camera to view my surroundings, plan entry and exit routes, survey enemies, etc. All in all, it helps a lot!
     
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  5. Squirrel_killer-

    Squirrel_killer- The blade in the dark and the hand at your throat

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    I'm going to add that to the guide. I never think of everything when I write guides. I do the same but its done sub-consciously now so I forgot about it.
     
  6. xShadow Shockx

    xShadow Shockx Zeymah-Se-Vokuns

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    I'm glad I could be of assistance! It's definitely a nice tactic to use, and when you combine that with walking slowly, checking corners as you come around them, etc. it really gets you involved in the role that your character is playing! There are times when it takes me a half an hour or more to clear a single, small dungeon, just because I take my time like a true stealthy assassin would! :D
     
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  7. Jacob N.

    Jacob N. Premium Member

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    Awesome!
     
  8. illuminist

    illuminist dark wood elf assassin

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    yes my freind.

    I always intend to fire one arrow at my turning away target, and then I hide.
    I use invisibility potions only if I really have to.
    my back up plan is the darkness. always "operate stealth at night" it offers the best protection of not being seen or heard by anyone.
    and yes, most of all perks are most important because it decreases the risk of not being seen.
    train your lockpicking levels at the thieves guild.

    break into a house and use invisiblity " if you really have to" to avoid being seen.
    some bandits are stupid because you fire an arrow at them and they say "oh it was just my imagination" and then he cant see me again.
     
  9. ¬Rockstar

    ¬Rockstar New Member

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    if you get caught pickpocketing and you run away - will guards keep chasing you until you are dead, or will they give up after a while?
     
  10. Squirrel_killer-

    Squirrel_killer- The blade in the dark and the hand at your throat

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    They give up if they lose sight of you long enough or if you hide in a safe haven. I've escaped guards countless times. But you need to pay off your bounty eventually.
     
  11. Streets

    Streets The Gentleman Owl

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    I like your guide, you put a lot of good effort into it. Before you get Throw Voice, or if it's on cooldown, you can shoot an arrow at the wall as a distraction as well.
     
  12. Squirrel_killer-

    Squirrel_killer- The blade in the dark and the hand at your throat

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    Arrow too a wall was mentioned
     
  13. ActOfGod

    ActOfGod Let's kill someone!

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    Very nice guide. As an added note, gear can be the difference between success and death in this game. Having the Thieve's Guild or Dark Brotherhood's armor can give you the necessary stat boosts to pick a lock, a pocket, or sneak up behind that man and slice his throat. If you are going for a stealth class, I recommend immediately going to join the Thieve's Guild and Dark Brotherhood for their armor. Simply google "How to join ..." to figure it out.

    Use all of his tips, along with the right gear, enchantments, and perks, and you will be very successful.
     
  14. Squirrel_killer-

    Squirrel_killer- The blade in the dark and the hand at your throat

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  15. KritikalPT

    KritikalPT I have two weapons, "Sarcasm" and "Irony"

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    Small tip:
    The Silent Roll perk is a really useful one, especially when you have to shorten the distance between you and a target,. Now, when rolling there is a small pause between each one, however, if you draw your weapon(s) and go into first person, that short gap between each roll will be reduced.
     
  16. Squirrel_killer-

    Squirrel_killer- The blade in the dark and the hand at your throat

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    I'm about to do another revise of this anyways I might as well add that.
     
  17. Squirrel_killer-

    Squirrel_killer- The blade in the dark and the hand at your throat

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    ***UPDATED***

    Added a whole new section on magic and sneaking and listed some useful items for stealth players. Please make suggestions for more items to be added in the list and other ways to make use of magic in stealth.
     
  18. Shew

    Shew Account closed (at sincere request).

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  19. kcen orez

    kcen orez New Member

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    Thanks for the guide! I had been eyeing skyrim for months now, and i just got an xbox so i could play it (i was a huge fan of rpgs in the 90's - mainly shining in the darkness/shining force line, zelda games, the first breath of fire). Anyway - my first character I just built is a bosmer, going for a sniper/assassin/thief type role.

    I have one question tho - How do i pick up and throw items (on xbox)? I believe if i grab and hold A i can pick up the item, but i cant figure out how to throw it.


    Thanks again, great work
    -kcen
     
  20. Squirrel_killer-

    Squirrel_killer- The blade in the dark and the hand at your throat

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    A telekinesis spell is the only built in way to throw an item. But by swinging your camera while holding an item and releasing it when you have momentum you with throw it.
     
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