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The True Assassin - A Guide

Discussion in 'Skyrim Guides and Tutorials' started by Katastrophe, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. Katastrophe

    Katastrophe King of Tales

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    [​IMG]


    Introduction: Well my friends, it's once more that I seem to find myself in this sad, sad predicament - the chronic reroll. I've done my best to combat this, I truly have. Everything from journals to more in-depth character building (backstory and gameplay) then I've ever done before to know avail. So this morning I woke up and I told myself "No more". With Assassin's Creed 3 around the corner and Halo 4 right after that, I doubt I'll be playing much Skyrim after Halloween. I need to have a character that truly feels right and is one that I can enjoy the game with in it's entirety without feeling like I've pigeon-holed myself into something that's only useful or fun half of the time. When it comes down to it, as much as I enjoy the idea of being a Paladin and smiting dragons with my sword and shield or being an Arch Mage and unleashing unthinkable magickal powers upon my foes... neither are me. Since I bought Skyrim, I've gone the way of stealth and cunning - the way of an Assassin. However, in my search for the perfect Assassin, I've found very little. Most Assassin guides focus on Stealth/Archery or focus too much on combat to really consider themselves an assassin.

    So I'm doing it myself. This, ladies and gentlemen, shall be the definitive guide to what it means to be an assassin and how to properly play one in Skyrim.


    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxPart Onexxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    What is an Assassin?

    When defined, an assassin means "a murderer of an important person in a surprise attack for political or religious purposes". In the context of Skyrim, we could easily stick with this definition rigidly for the Civil War quests and claim we're assassinating Ulfric Stormcloak for political reasons. However, that really doesn't give us much else to do (aside from maybe the Dark Brotherhood quests). For our purposes, we're not going to define an Assassin as someone who kills only for those reasons but instead will define it a little more loosely, tying in with the lore behind the assassins in Assassin's Creed. For them, assassination was not done simply for political or religious purposes, although you could argue this. It was done as a method to ensure peace, oddly enough - the belief that killing one man could liberate thousands. A comparison might be the so-called 'hand of fate' or 'acts of God' we experience in our lives, invisibly pushing us towards something greater. The assassins aim to invisibly push (or at least maintain the current course) of society.

    Again, however, we're narrowing ourselves down a bit by focusing on our character's backstory or how you might justify slaughtering the leader of that bandit camp that's been terrorizing the local homestead for the past few months. So what defines an assassin? The answer is simply stealth. Assassin's aim to remain unseen, kill their mark and leave as if they were never there and this is really where I see the greatest gap between so-called assassin builds and true assassins - you don't care about getting in and getting out unseen but rather just killing everything from the shadows. So, let me summarize what this 'true Assassin' I'm purposing will be about:

    • You will not take the lives of innocents if you can avoid it.
    • You will have a minimal impact on the world around.
      • The previous two flow nicely together in the example of bounties on bandits. You're tasked with killing the leader - not the entire camp. Kill the leader while sparing as many bandits as possible and leave. Obviously if you want to make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs...
    • You are not a warrior!
      • A lot of people look to expand upon Sneak/Archer by adding in perks in Light Armor, Block and One-Handed. You're not a stealth archer at that point - you're a light armored knight who uses a bow. Get over it.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxPart Twoxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Character Creation
    If you've read my posts before, you'll know that I think the initial character creation is about 85% cosmetic with a few notable exceptions. I would like to stress at this point that because this is not a 'concrete' build, I cannot recommend a race. If you want to go a more magical route, perhaps Breton or Altmer? If you want to go a more archery route, perhaps a Redguard or Bosmer? If you want to go more of a thief route, perhaps Argonian or Khajiit? It's really up to you and I recommend reading up on them here and making your decision. Also, it's always important for you to consider which race you think looks the best or has the best backstory. For some lore references, I highly recommend the UESPwiki or The Skyrim Blog.​


    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxPart Threexxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Equipment
    Like I said, this isn't a 'concrete' build. I won't be making you any armor recommendations and really, you can use whatever you like. The only recommendation I make is that you bare in mind that an Assassin should blend in, to some extent, with the regular community. To me, that means clothing. You might see this as a gimp but if you properly enchant your clothes and also stay undetected, your Armor Rating will be irrelevant. However, if you're off adventuring or fighting dragons, you're going to want some prediction. You can obviously opt to use some faction armor like Nightingale or Dark Brotherhood. Another option is to watch the Skyrim Tradeskills playlist by pms00 on YouTube which goes in-depth on how to use all three trades (Alchemy, Enchanting and Smithing) to max out the armor you choose. For most armors, with absolutely 0 points in any Armor type perks, you should be able to hit the max rating of 567. If not, one or two "Fortify _____ Armor" enchantments will be enough to hit it, even for armors as low as Leather, if my math is correct. This means that you can truly choose what looks best, regardless if it's light or heavy. The only thing you'll really want to consider is it's weight as that will affect your ability to remain undetected.​
    When it comes to weapons, again, you can take whichever approach you feel is best. In my opinion, daggers and bows (or crossbows) will be your go-tos. You can obviously work in a more powerful single handed weapon, should it come to that... but hopefully it won't. One thing to consider is that assassins in Assassin's Creed were trained to be proficient with whatever is most common in that area. In Skyrim, with Nords typically favoring Warhammers for skull crushing, that's not very viable but you could base your character from another region or their home region. For example, a Bosmer assassin might heavily favor archery because that's just what he's been trained to do best. Khajiit might fight with their bare hands if they have to (those are some interesting kill cams, let me tell you) while an Altmer might launch powerful (silent) spells from a dark corner. It's really up to your personal preference, as are most things with being an assassin.​
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxPart Fourxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Skills and Perks
    Again, this is dependent on how you choose to play, but there's going to be some obvious choices that you'll take such as Sneak. First off, I'd like to start by saying that you should never spend more than one point in Stealth, the first perk of the Sneak tree. Everything beyond that is a waste of a perk. Get it to unlock the tree and move on from it. Beyond that, the rest of this section is going to be my recommendation. Spend perks however you see fit.​
    Here is an example of a Level 25 build and is merely a template to follow, so I'm going to explain my choices. I feel like my perk choices in Sneak, Archery and One-Handed are self-explanitory. It's important to note that that initial perk (Armsman) is the only one that really affects daggers. Bladesman does not increase the critical chance of daggers - only swords. The perks in Alchemy should be fairly obvious but it's also laying the groundwork to get the required perks to maximize my weapons and armor as pms00 details. While the Benefactor perk will be useful when creation positive potions (Restore Health, Resist X, etc), if you're in it primarily for poisons than you can skip Benefactor. My choices for Illusion are because I believe that it's a highly underrated school of magic and it's benefits are extremely useful for characters who want to remain undetected. Obviously, there's Quiet Casting but that's not the real reason - you can easily dispatch an entire room of enemies and leave yourself with a single one to assassinate using Fury or other spells. Lastly, Pickpocket - an odd choice, I believe but useful. The Poisoned perk will allow you to drop poisons into a target's pocket, causing them damage enough to kill them, if you use enough poisons. It also doesn't take you out of sneak, from what I've seen. Fun fact.​
    Here is the same tree, but at Level 50. As you can see, I'm continuing to pave the way to mastered trade skills as well as building upon my existing talents. The whole purpose of this build is to utilize Illusion or poisons for crowd control, but otherwise to sneak in, assassinate my target and get out.​
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxPart Fivexxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    How to Play
    Playing an assassin is where there seems to be a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding on what an assassin is. There's a half an hour 'tutorial' on YouTube about how to be an assassin in Skyrim where he starts off by saying that an assassin is someone who kills someone for money. That would be a Bounty Hunter, and Boba Fett is offended by your misconception. Actually, sticking with Star Wars for a moment, if any character were to be considered an assassin, it would be Darth Maul. Actually, I think that's literally what he is used for in the lore but... I digress.​
    I stated in the beginning what you should have a minimal impact on the world aside from what you're actually doing with the example of being given a bounty on a bandit chief and doing your best to get in, kill the chief, and get out without being detected and without killing anyone else. A lot of people who play assassins would rather just kill everyone from stealth and move on with their lives. This is really a roleplaying thing, however. If you're not interested in roleplaying an actual assassin, then just go sword and board, light armor, archery and sneak. Disregard magic and you'll roll through this game on cruise control, guaranteed. If you are interesting in the roleplaying aspect and truly being an assassin, continue on.​
    There's the theory that's primarily used in relation to time travel that our actions create ripples that can turn into tidal waves across the ocean, also referred to as the 'Butterfly Effect'. While we aim to change the course of history in dramatic ways and are no doubt causing tidal waves, we don't want to cause ripples. In the example about killing the bandit chief, that will essentially kill the bandit group as effectively as killing them all personally. Without their de facto leader, the group will splinter and ultimately crumble. Perhaps another accurate example would be playing a game of Jenga where you try to carefully remove one piece at a time. You're changing the structure without really changing it. However, if you try to remove an entire layer, you're not going to have a good time. By just hitting your target and vanishing, you're successfully changing the structure without causing it any real damage.​
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxPart Sixxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    In Closing
    In the end, I realize that this guide doesn't give you a simple "copy and paste" character to play and I do that intentionally. Playing an assassin isn't about your build but rather how you play your character and how you interact in the world. If you have any questions about this or any other build, feel free to comment below or contact me in another manner. I'm always happy to assist someone in building a character that they believe is best for them, even if I have trouble finding one myself! :D
     
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  2. butcherpete2277

    butcherpete2277 Suthay-raht

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    Finally someone who knows the difference between an assassin and a sneaky warrior. Very well written article.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. Assassin99

    Assassin99 Active Member

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    Great article:)
     
  4. illuminist

    illuminist dark wood elf assassin

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    the real assassin knows his situation and knows his skills will not alter him through the killing process.

    the real assassin is hidden and undetected by sight , sound and not heard.

    I operate within the shadows not with the shadows the true meaning of a ghost nocturnal warrior operates within the shadows and light and sight and sound.

    and yes what you have said is the voice of a real winning assassin. good job making your post, I hope we can meet again assassin brother;)
     
    • Ranter Ranter x 1
  5. Katastrophe

    Katastrophe King of Tales

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    Thanks for all the positive feedback. :)

    Writing this just really got me excited for AC3. xD
     
  6. illuminist

    illuminist dark wood elf assassin

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    I shall follow you brother if you choose to follow me...
     
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  7. Assassin99

    Assassin99 Active Member

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    I can't wait to play as conner, it's a week after my birthday, remember nothing is true everything is permitted
     
  8. illuminist

    illuminist dark wood elf assassin

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    ASSASSIN BROTHERHOOD REUNITE!!!!!
     
    • Ranter Ranter x 1
  9. Assassin99

    Assassin99 Active Member

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    Lol, do you know what's broken in skyrim that they need to take a page out of the AC book
     
  10. Chowder138

    Chowder138 Proud member of PAHAAA.

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    This is amazing. Time to make my third character, Assassin's Creed style :D
     
  11. Chowder138

    Chowder138 Proud member of PAHAAA.

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    What the hell are you even talking about?
     
  12. Assassin99

    Assassin99 Active Member

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    DB
     
  13. Streets

    Streets The Gentleman Owl

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    This is a really excellent post! You should talk to Rayven if you want to turn it into an article.
     
  14. Katastrophe

    Katastrophe King of Tales

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    It would need some refining, in my opinion.
    Some more snappy visuals.

    And, most likely, an actual build. :p
     
  15. DarkEastwood

    DarkEastwood Active Member

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    I know I'm pretty late in discovering this guide, but I just created a character that goes under the parameters of no killing anyone but the leader and all that stuff. I'm trying to be creative with it, but keep on finding myself just doing bounty missions around Skyrim... Does anyone have any ideas on ways to further progress a character like this? I've done In My Time of Need and just killed the guy at the end, and the quest in Morthal and only killed Movarth. But other than that, I'm kinda drawing a blank on ways to freshen the experience...
     
  16. Katastrophe

    Katastrophe King of Tales

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    I'm always looking for ways to freshen the experience with my characters... it's why I'm always rerolling. Are you using OOC knowledge of the quest to know "I'm only after the leader, so I shouldn't kill this guy" by chance? I would love to help but I'm not sure how you want to freshen it up.
     
  17. DarkEastwood

    DarkEastwood Active Member

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    No not really. I pretty much just look for the guy that looks like the leader (more armor usually). I really just want to get away from the "get bounty esque mission, sneak through base, kill leader, rinse, repeat" type ordeal. So basically what I'm asking is, what other ways would a 'True Assassin' deal with in terms of conflicts and problems throughout Skyrim. Because while the playstyle is really fun so far (and certainly challenging), it's starting to get stale.
     
  18. Katastrophe

    Katastrophe King of Tales

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    Sounds to me like you could work that staleness into role-play and let the game provide you with it's own answers. If you make your character actively seek something, I find that the game often provides.
     
  19. DarkEastwood

    DarkEastwood Active Member

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    So write out my characters goals, pursue those goals, while in the mindset of a this version of an assassin?

    Ex. I want to... Destroy the forsworn. So I do the Cidna mine and all those shenanigans, while also doing bounty missions in Markarth (which are mostly kill Forsworn leader).

    Do you have any particular ideas for goals that my character might pursue? A lot of them ones I can think of involve killing lots or killing none.
     
  20. Naginata

    Naginata Huntress of the Shadows

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    This sounds like a good way to play. My character is stealthy and loves to attack from the shadows with a crossbow, but I'd hardly call myself an assassin. Maybe I will make an assassin build and see how different it is!

    A question, though. What does the assassin do if he finds himself in a situation with no way around it but to kill everyone? What if you are in a tight corridor with three enemies? What would you do?
     
: assassin, build, guide

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