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The Pure Thief Build

Discussion in 'General Skyrim Discussion' started by Katastrophe, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. Katastrophe King of Tales

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    "In a closed society where everybody is guilty, the only crime is getting caught.
    In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity."
    --- Hunter S. Thompson



    [IMG]

    About: I've lately grown very restless with my characters again and while I enjoy them immensely, I'm experimenting again, but this time with more depth. So for once, I'm sharing the stuff I come up with because although it may not be entirely my fancy, I'm sure someone out there can dig this build. The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood questlines in Skyrim are probably the favorite ones of mine that I've gone through. However, I feel like both of these blend too much and the people that enjoy them end up rolling Nightingale assassins. Nothing wrong with that, but I took my favorite questline of the two (if not just because I hate Cicero with a passion) and wanted to focus primarily on that by examining the existing NPCs and going from there. This is the result - a pure Thief character, ideal for roleplaying but not without the capability of complete the game.

    The Thief

    As I said, in my opinion, the Thieves Guild has probably one of the best, if not the best, story and guild quests in the game. The whole thing just feels like it was made for roleplayers. Where the Dark Brotherhood just has seemingly mindless "Kill this person" radiant quests, the Thieves Guild has specific quests that yield specific rewards. On top of that, the Shadowmarks throughout Skyrim are bloody brilliant. Combine that with the roaming Thieves that try to rob on the road, but can be turned away if you're a member and you've got what is, to me, the most fleshed out organization in the game, besides the obvious Stormcloaks and Imperials. On the downside, making a thief character can be rather difficult, and possibly boring. Money isn't very difficult to earn, even when not trying to break the game and sneaking doesn't exactly kill dragons... so where's the balance? Right here, my friends... right here.

    Major Skills

    Sneak - This should really be a given as to why it's important, so I don't think an explanation is necessary. If it is... wow.

    Pickpocket - Again, this should be a given. I will, however, mention that there is a perk here that becomes a key component in how our Thief becomes effective in combat.

    Alchemy - This one might throw you for a loop, but it's a fantastic utility skill. Recovery potions, status alteration, money making, poisons... Alchemy has a little bit of everything for us and, again, will play a big role in how we're effective in a fight.

    Minor Skills

    Illusion - I hesitate not to put this as a Major Skill simply because we're going to be using it a lot. We're not taking this for Muffle or Invisibility - we have an OP stealth system and Alchemy for those. Instead, we're really going to be using it for spells like Fury and Calm.

    One Handed - This is going to be our primary method of damage, should it come to that. You'll either be dual-weilding or most likely having a spell in your off hand.

    Light Armor - Again, this is for obvious reasons, but it's the most minor of our "minor skills". It is here for obvious reasons, but as the end game approaches, I don't think it will be of much value to us.

    Play Style

    I'm not going to give specific build formulas just yet as I'm going to create this character and play it through, so for now, I'm going to give you how I plan on playing it as well as ideal perk charts (every 10 levels) with a rough stat distribution.

    First off, it's important to note that you're a damned Thief - you're not an assassin. For those who aren't aware, the Dark Brotherhood was founded by members of the Thieves Guild who believed killing was a much simpler way to get job the done and they ultimately became the contract assassins we know them as. The Thieves Guild does not condone nor encourage murder - it's bad for business, as Brynjolf would say. Once you understand that, you'll understand why I chose the Major and Minor skills and why I arranged them as I did.

    Anyways, like I said, you're a thief. Your job is to sneak and steal and that's the cause for the Sneak and Pickpocket choices as Major Skills. This build is about roleplaying, getting loot, and getting rich. Obviously, however, we're going to have to fight. This is where our other skills come into play. First off, like I said, murder is bad for business. But so is dying, so stay alive. If you can avoid killing someone, avoid it. However, if your life is threatened, you're going to need to defend yourself, or at least be able to kill the person. I've given you a variety of ways to do so.

    The first and most obvious method is the use of the Assassin's Blade perk. Simply sneak up behind the target and slit their throat - easy as pie... if there's one target. The next method is part of the Pickpocket perk tree - Poisoned. Much like in Fallout where you can reverse pickpocket a grenade or landmine into someone's pocket for explosive results, you can reverse pickpocket (plant) poisons onto someone to do damage or other affects, like Paralysis. By my calculations, courtesy of the equations at UESPWiki, you can easily make a damage health potion that does over 100 points of damage. According to TESWiki, Bandit Chiefs have 500 health. I'm not entirely sure how fixed that number is but consider that it'll take 4-5 potions to instantly kill him...? Not bad, considering how tough they can be otherwise. Next, there's Illusion magics which should really be your go-to option when facing a large crowd. A few well placed Fury spells and you'll have forced the entire group to start killing each other until one man is left standing, allowing you to easily swoop in, cut his throat, and move on. On the flip side, Calm spells can be used to give you an escape route if you don't want to fight. Last, the One Handed perks. I recommend investing only in the 5/5 Armsman, the weapon type of your choosing (Hack and Slash, Bladesman or Bonebreaker) and possibly the dual-weilding perks, if that style suits you.

    Now, our main issue comes in the form of gigantic flying lizards, called Dragons. As far as I know, they cannot be calmed, reverse pickpocket, nada - you just gotta kill 'em. You can achieve this in a few ways, and this mostly means adding on to the build I've already outlined, unless you're going for a die-hard thief. First, you can include Archery. This will make fighting Dragons a much easier task but try to avoid abusing sneak archery. Unless you want to, in which case I can't stop you. Just try not to become an assassin? You can also include Conjuration into the mix, since you'll be using Illusion it's not a far stretch to venture into another magic tree. You can also invest in the Bound Bow? However, at that point, it really won't be you fighting the dragons, will it? You can also invest in the Bound Bow? Personally, I recommend just going pure melee, as shown in this video. You should not, however, use a shield. I believe bashing with a sword or other one-handed weapon will have the same affect. Note in the video that he claims to be playing on Master, level 20, and having only 100 health in video. Not sure how valid that is, but it does show that killing dragons is possible with melee and shouts alone.

    So now, let me show you my "ideal perk spread" for every 10 levels up to 50. For the stat spread, I'm thinking 100% Stamina should do you fine, not only to carry your loot but for more power attacks and bashes with your sword. This will make you a frail, yet nimble, opponent - exactly what you should be. With your Magicka, I don't think it will be a problem unless you're using it for combat or higher levels. You could also just enchant your ring and necklace to reduce the cost of Illusions spells. It's really up to you and how you intend to play within this skeleton framework.


    In my opinion, at level 50, this build "maxes out". The next 31 perks are for you to play around with and use as you see fit. Smithing, enchanting, archery... whatever floats your boat. I would personal advise in investing into these perks as they allow you to smith and enchant at maximum levels, especially if you take the Necromage Vampire route. You can find videos about this by searching "pms00 Necromage Vampire" on YouTube - there are two videos, I believe. I say this only because if you really want to go the roleplay way, you want to have all outfits give you the most bang for your buck.

    I hope you've enjoyed this read. It's 6am and I have to be at work in 6 hours so... yeah. I really hope you enjoy it because I'm going to be chugging 5-Hour tomorrow morning!







    • Informative Informative x 3
  2. Irishman Well-Endowed Member

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    I just want to bump this and maybe get some of the active members input (I dont like creating threads if I dont have to). I like how Katastrophe has set up most of his build and I would also (eventually) like to have a similar build. I have thought about this a bit and come up with a sort of unique/rare approach to this build:

    (NOTE: This build will be heavily Roleplayed including eating once a day, sleeping AT LEAST 12hours every 2days, being seen as a 'good samaritan', no fast travel and other realistic approaches).

    1. This is a PURE THIEF build. Not assassin/thief hybrid. The Brotherhood questline will NOT be used.
    2. I will be using an Imperial for several reasons:
    • I have never played an Imperial
    • The Racial bonus of finding more gold just fits
    • The Greater Calm affect (Voice of the Empire?) is really affective Ive heard
    • They blend in far better than beast races or Dunmer which I did consider
    3. As a pure thief, blending in is essential. During the day my Thief will wear casual clothes that fit in with the crowd. He will scope out the target and just generally be a visitor to the city.
    4. NO WEAPONS! NO KILLING! I have never tried this and if it's really not possible than please tell me! My thief will wear the Thieves Guild Armour at night just in case things go bad and he has to dodge guards arrows, but for the most part, combat will be kept at an absolute minimum.
    5. Obviously he/she will be part of the Thieves Guild. I will however do the missions realistically. As in lots of odd jobs in between the 'big' jobs. In this playthrough Brynjolf doesn't just go out on a limb with my character, my character proves his worth!
    6. Pickpocket with paralysis poisons sounds like a win to me.
    7. My character will NOT be Dragonborn but he may go after artifacts such as Dragon Claws.
    8. Illusion and Alteration magic will be heavily considered. Thoughts?
    9. Should I have a follower? If not for the 'Job' than maybe a lookout and/or bodyguard. Who would fit that spot well?
    10. Any other advice or ideas I haven't thought of?
    AS88 likes this.
  3. Hildolfr It's a big hammer.

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    The no-weapons things sounds really hard. I feel like even for a thief, a dagger is acceptable. You won't be armed to the teeth, but if you get stopped by bandits, then at least you'll have some form of self-defense. You don't want to just run away, do you? I meean, running away is a viable tactic... Mehrune's razor, I would imagine, would be something your character would look into. I imagine a really adept thief, having an ultra rare daedric artifact hanging from his belt. It just makes sense.

    Illusion is a must, I think. You said you were considering, but I just figured I'd concur with you. Alteration, too. Especially if you're running around in normal clothes during the day. Get yourself the mage armor perk and you'll be OK.

    Other than that, the build sounds fun. Challenging, but fun. Definitely worth your time. By the way, this is the best use of Necro Threading I've ever seen. How did you find a thread about this very topic that had zero replies before hand?! Incredible!
    Irishman likes this.
  4. Irishman Well-Endowed Member

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    [IMG]

    But yes I'm definetly thinking along the lines of Illusion and Alteration. Not only for the obvious benifits but it also adds depth to the character build as I really will try no combat skills. As for random encounters and bandits on the road, my method will simply be slinking into the shadows. Not easy for the 1st 50 sneak levels, but after awhile it will be ver easy. It helps that I know where I am likely to encounter such threats!

    I actually did think of Mehrunes Razor, more for looks than combat though... my Thief will never have killed anyone, so if by chance he does, than he will surely be mortified and scarred for awhile!
    AS88 likes this.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  5. LotusEater Article Writer

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    No weapons as a thief? Conan was a thief... and he had weapons. Big ones. Just sayin'. Good thing too otherwise this picture would be much different....

    [IMG]


    Never steal valuables unless you have a blade I say. This is what happens when you try to steal stuff from evil temples. Be prepared like Conan. :)
    AS88 and Hildolfr like this.
  6. Lucid Well-Known Member

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    I really like your reasoning for using an Imperial, it works well. Dunmer thieves are kind of cliche (I still have a lot of love for mine though). I also like using regular clothes when in town, I do the same on my thief and assassin builds.

    No killing will be tough. Really tough. What's your plan for when you are attacked for botching a pickpocket attempt? Because it will happen, especially at low levels.

    I advise spamming and perking the hell out of Illusion so you can use a calming spell to avoid killing. Maybe carry a supply of paralyze and slow potions to help you run away from enemies you can't bespell. Keep enough stamina potions on hand to be able to sprint further.
    Irishman likes this.
  7. Irishman Well-Endowed Member

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    Hmmm botched pickpocket... yeah I'm thinking about legging it in the other direction :p Maybe hiding, changing clothes than come out whistling and point in the other direction "He went thata way -->"

    Yeah, I think I will need a weapon. I'm starting to think along the lines of Conjured dagger and bow. I won't perk Conjuration, but at least it gives me a back up plan and a way to administer poisons from a distance.. I will still try not to kill anyone though.
  8. AS88 RP Mod & Master-Wizard

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    Irishman likes this.
    • Useful Useful x 1
  9. W'rkncacnter Mister Freeze

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    If you stick to thieving in towns then your more likely to end up in jail rather than dead. Unless your thief desires to do some old-fashioned treasure hunting in caves and grave robbing in tombs. But I'm not sure a strictly played thief would bother with such high-risk ventures. Of course, you can't really avoid it in the quest line. One of the major flaws of the line, unfortunately.

    Avoiding the MQ will leave dragons dormant which would certainly aid in travel. However, if you have Dawnguard you will run into issues with the vampire attacks.

    I understand the desire to progress without killing, but given that the game doesn't allow for rendering enemies unconscious or incapacitated in some way I feel that you are left with far too little flexibility in performing missions. Sometimes (generally at lower levels) there just isn't a clean way around an enemy.

    Due to the violent nature of life in Skyrim and the required physical prowess a thief must possess, I wouldn't see it as an issue if that thief were at least moderately proficient with a dagger. Quick with the hands. . .


    All that said, one thing rubbed me wrong about the build. That was the claim that the Dark Brotherhood was founded by thieves who wanted to steal easier. This is patently false (Source). The Dark Brotherhood fulfills assassination contracts for their profit. They are not eliminating their marks for the purpose of stealing from them (though I've played a member or two who may have had sticky fingers on occasion). Their whole mission is the assassination, not the other way around.
    AS88 likes this.
  10. Irishman Well-Endowed Member

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    I'm actually really leaning toward using paralysis as a means of incapacitating when no other option exist. The beginning of the game will still be difficult but it does give another avenue of non-lethal force.

    In that article, it gives 2 possible ways of how the DB came to be. The second one being the one that the OP has stated and the one I actually prefer and believe due to this book:

    http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Sacred_Witness

    If you don't want to read it I shall copy a segment:

    (Night Mother talking to the Writer)
    "The truth is that my history would not make a very dramatic tale. I was a thief, long, long ago, back when the Thieves Guild was only beginning. It's such a bother to sneak around a house when performing a burglary, and many of us found it most efficacious to strangle the occupant of the house. Just for convenience. I suggested to the Guild that a segment of our order be dedicated to the arts and sciences of murder.
    'It did not seem like such a controversial idea to me,' the Night Mother shrugged. 'We had specialists in catburglary, pick-pocketing, lock-picking, fencing, all the other essential parts of the job. But the Guild thought that encouraging murder would be bad for business. Too much, too much, they argued.
    'They might have been right,' the old woman continued. 'But I discovered there is a profit to be made, just the same, from sudden death. Not only can one rob the deceased, but, if your victim has enemies, which rich people often do, you can be paid for it even more. I began to murder people differently when I discovered that."
    • Informative Informative x 1
  11. W'rkncacnter Mister Freeze

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    Thank you for the correction. I definitely don't like that version as much. . .but each to his own.
    Irishman likes this.
  12. Clau The Fateless One

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    I once tried a pure thief character who was no fighter but adept at sneaking, pickpocket and fleeing when hired thugs or random NPC attackers came into the fray.

    My first rule was as much as possible avoid fights and killing NPCs. Did the odd jobs for Delvin and Vex without fast travel. Logged around 80 hours from keeping RP elements like sleeping and eating.

    My problem was this thief was too weak to delve into draugr infested ruins. Second problem was when advancing the story and nightingales are involved.

    There is also the fact that I wasted several perks in the lockpick skill tree to acclimate a "pure thief". So my skills were mainly sneak, speech, pickpocket and lockpicking (facepalm).

    Through that experience, my cardinal rule now is NEVER invest in lockpick perk. But with the new patch, I can just legendary my sneak skills, which is very easy to level.

    Maybe I'll try another thief build with its quintessential perks (minus the lockpick perks) and do not progress the story into the nightingale turf, just do jobs and jobs, get rich and buy every property.
    Irishman and AS88 like this.

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