This Build is a collaborative effort by Emer Dareloth and No snakes aLive!
(Credit goes to Ponty for the screenshots and CouchWarrior and TZ for the videos!)

The Shadowscale: born Assassin, physical extension of the darkness itself. This is a rare breed of killer, one whose skill-set far surpasses the tiptoeing and throat-slitting limitations of his comrades' capabilities. The Shadowscale is just as likely to look you in the eye in broad daylight to distract you from the dagger at your back - and it's your own dagger at that! - as he is turning the darkness of night into a playground for your fears and terrors to run amok in.


"Hail to Sithis, blood’s drop on blade’s edge. 

Before you, nothing. Behind you, the Void. 

Catalyst, agitator, many-fanged maw. 

Whisper your need to the Scales."

The Shadowscale

I am Vistha-Kai, an Argonian Shadowscale born in Black Marsh in 4E 170, and as far as I know I am the last of my kind.

The Shadowscales once served as Assassins for the province of Black Marsh. We were taught how to use any type of weapon imaginable. We were the best of the best. Being born under The Shadow, we were able to turn invisible once a day, and we used it to our advantage, slitting people's throats without them ever knowing we were there. I excelled at blocking, being able to disarm my targets and use their own weapons against them.

Around 4E 185 my Shadowscale Encampment was attacked. Bandits raided the camp, slaughtering anyone and anything they saw. We tried running to the water, but I was the only one who managed to escape. I watched as they killed my parents, friends, and relatives. I stayed in the water until they were all asleep, only then did I emerge. I sprang forth with a speed that I have never known. It was as if I was moving faster than time itself, and I loved the feeling. I took the blades from the sleeping Bandits, then used them to slit their owners throats.

Perhaps I'll leave Black Marsh, after all, I am the last of the Shadowscales, and I heard that The Brotherhood has a small following up in the northern provinces. I believe the man who told me said they were in Skyrim. Perhaps I should have asked before ripping out his tongue...



The Build

Any two bit assassin can dress the part and wield the weapon, tiptoe up to a target and slit a throat undetected. True mastery of stealth and the art of killing - the kind that cannot be taught but rather that one must be born into, as the Shadowscales are - that kind of expertise entails being able to blend into crowd as well as darkness, remaining not merely undetected but also unassuming. The Shadowscale just as easily hides in plain sight, neither wearing the infamous set of armor that is calling-card to his profession nor wielding the weapons that would give away his intentions, as he hides in the darkness, terrorizing his victims with the knowledge that death could be around any corner. You may pass a Shadowscale in broad daylight and never be alerted to the presence of such a killer; at night you may never learn of his whereabouts, but he will surely make his presence known. No matter when or where, a Shadowscale will leave you dead where you stand, betrayed by your own weapon, and he will do so without a trace.

                      The Deadly Bash is the "bread and butter" of this build, use it well

Race: Argonian

Stone :Shadow

Major Skills: Sneak, Pickpocket, Block, Illusion, One-Handed

Minor Skills: Alteration, Heavy Armor, Smithing

Gear: Hooded Black Robes + Ebony Boots, Gloves & Shield

Weapon of Choice: Your Enemy's

Quests: Dark Brotherhood, Dark Brotherhood, Dark Brotherhood, Dark Brotherhood!

 The purpose of this build - a collaborative effort between Emer Dareloth and No snakes aLive- is to make an Assassin build worthy of the lore that supports it: one that is unique and tactical in ways rarely seen in such a class. One that elevates the notion of stealth beyond just the ease of reaching enemies silently and without being spotted. A Shadowscale trains in the art of stealth from birth, a destined assassin, and should play as one. Thus the goal of this character is to rely heavily on both the abilities to play off his enemies' fears from the darkest corners, unseen, and to relieve them of their weapons before using their own steel to kill them, unexpectedly. Would a master of stealth and born-assassin run around with daggers in tow, wearing a set of armor that may as well double as a neon "Assassin" sign? A Shadowscale would not. He would wear unassuming robes and carry items crafted only for his defense, and so no one would expect a thing until it's already too late, and their weapons are already in his hands (or worse yet, against their throats).

Between the ability to disarm enemies via shout, shield and stealth, there are plenty of means around which to focus this unique playthrough. Coupled with the ability to use Illusion to terrorize enemies from the shadows - causing them to flee in horror, freeze up with fear, and fight amongst themselves - a far more thoroughly strategic playstyle is born to create an Assassin playthrough like no other. And whereas the high-risk, high-reward style of other Assassin builds sees them falter when found, a Shadowscale will always have the defensive capabilities to turn the tide of battle back in his favor even when detected.

Your goal will be to part your enemy's weapon (and perhaps even armor too) from their possession to slaughter them with, whether via the Pickpocket skill when able and undetected, the Disarm Shout (and telekinesis or a quick roll and grab afterward, if your skill and timing are worthy of a Shadowscale)when necessary, or even your trusty shield and the corresponding Block perk when faced with direct combat. This means there are many methods of employing the core gameplay tactic of this build, who carries no weapons of his own and relies on killing his targets with theirs, as well as plenty of back-up plans (and daggers) were one of those methods to fail.




                        The Shadowscale uses the power of Telekinesis to make his Opponent's weapon his own. 

The other core mechanic you'll be employing, to thin the herds and replicate the feeling of a true lord of the shadows, will be to terrorize them with Illusion spells. Make them run scared towards comrades of theirs who are ready to kill whatever rounds the corner, freeze them up with fear before strolling up to them and snatching their sword from their helpless hands, and simply wreak havoc to shroud your assassinations and escapes in the ensuing chaos. And the best part is that, should you fail at your stealth approaches (as if any Shadowscale would fail at that)this build has unparalleled capabilities of surviving, escaping, or even turning the tide of battle back in its favor.

Should you find yourself found, there is no single power better-suited towards staying alive than Histskin, and paired with both your defensive spellcasting expertise (Illusions and Flesh spells)as well as your prowess with a shield and the fully perked Block skill, this build should easily be able to handle what enemies throw at it before finding a means of either escaping back into the shadows or relieving your threats of their weapons to use against them, and thus, clearly regain the upperhand. Even the Argonians' other racial ability, often seen as nothing more than a nifty gimmick, can become an essential component to this build! Fly towards the water with Whirlwind Sprint and disappear into its depths where no man or mer can follow.

The Shadowscale is not some overpowered slayer of everything in sight, no whirling dervish of magic dagger attacks and one-shot bow snipes. He employs the finesse of a true assassin, avoiding detection and creating opportunities at a moment's notice, for a gameplay style that is surely more methodical in its approach than what most are used to, but one that can be infinitely more rewarding too.


Perk Spread...


On to the Shadowscale's bread and butter Shouts, the most obvious of which being Disarm. If you're ever detected before you can pickpocket an enemy's weapon and stab them with it, you still have this trick up your sleeve to wrench their weapon from their grasp and retrieve it in stylish fashion before they can even react, either with Telekinesis or a quick Silent Roll to close the distance before they can. Aside from that, Aura Whisper is excellent for alerting you to your enemies' presence so you can get the drop on them, and Throw Voice is the perfect means of both distraction and the repositioning of enemies, so that the Shadowscale can divide-and-conquer to take out even the most heavily guarded of targets. Whirlwind Sprint and Become Ethereal aren't the most obvious choices for an assassin, but both are superb maneuvers for escaping the scene of the crime unharmed. The former will allow you to gain enough distance from those tailing you to hopefully disappear from sight via land or sea, taking full advantage of the Argonian ability to breathe underwater, and the latter is simply the ultimate culmination of the Shadowscale's mastery of Illusion: your enemies' vision will betray them as they swing their blades through nothing but air, while you ready Master level Illusion spells to send them all into a panic. And of course, it also never hurts to have a target Marked for Death before pickpocketing his dagger and plunging it through his back.


Special Moves

Mind Games:

A true master of stealth and Illusions, the Shadowscale can appear as though he's right in harm's way. And as his enemies repeatedly swing and miss, and the realization that the Shadowscale isn't where they thought he was and could be anywhere at all sets in, they are driven mad with fright.

Become Ethereal + Hysteria/Mayhem

Argonian Advantage:

When the Shadowscale's target lays dead with his henchman's blade protruding from his back, and all angry eyes turn towards the culprit, he will already be long gone. Gone swimming, that is, for there is safety in the darkest depths that no enemy can reach without the certainty of drowning.

Whirlwind Sprint + Argonian Waterbreathing

What's Yours is Mine:

Upon realization that the Shadowscale is upon them, many men will simply be paralyzed with fright. There is no better opportunity to remove their weapon from their possession and return it, point-first, through their eyesocket.

Pacify + Misdirection + Backstab

Turn the Tide:

The Shadowscale needn't strike terror in the hearts of men and approach them unnoticed in order to remove their bladed advantage and make it his own. From any distance and in a split second, the Shadowscale can turn the tide of battle by making your weapon his, either by diving towards it with unmatched swiftness or even pulling it towards him with the powers of Alteration.

Disarm Shout + Telekinesis/Silent Roll

Fight or Flight:

The Shadowscale plays off his enemies' fears from the safe embrace of the shadows, forcing them to turn on one another. When one enemy is ready to flee in a horrified panic and another is terrified enough to attack the next thing that moves, the Shadowscale has created a cocktail of fear that sees his enemies eliminating themselves at his amusement.

Throw Voice + Rout + Frenzy

Born Assassin:

Enigmatic and intelligent, Argonians are experts of guerilla tactics. Shadowscales then are no mere experts, but true masters, who possess unrivaled expertise in the art of assassination. A Shadowscale is capable of turning face-to-face combat into a lethal backstabbing in the blink of an eye.

Shadow Warrior (Crouch) + Shadow Stone + Hidden Backstab


Tags: Character Build Assassin, Character Build Illusionist, Character Build Villain, DarelothBuild, Hall of Fame Build, Rank:Legendary

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Replies to This Discussion

Can I just say that collaborating with you, Emer, was an absolute pleasure. I wasn't expecting it to go even half as well as it did, and thats no offense to you but rather just considering my own strong opinions and clear visions for the build, but it was honestly the smoothest operation imaginable, and I think it's safe to say we both learned from and improved each other's ideas. I'm very proud of what we accomplished here.

And to anyone wondering, it may look more like a build of mine than his, but that's only because I played editor to Emer's author. I saw a lot of potential in some of the ideas of his original build, and those ideas in turn inspired my own. This was a truly cooperative effort throughout and I hope our own synergy carries through to the build for everyone.

The same goes for you Snakes. I expect us to do this a few more times in the future! This build turned out fantastic, and I think it's one of the best builds I have ever read through. 

And another thing to those wondering: I can clearly see all of the things from my original build through the editing done by No snakes aLive. This is a great build, and I strongly suggest reading through it.

I liked it once and I'll do it again +1

You see many people walking unarmed. This character is no more than a blade in a crowd of people. He doesn't carry weapons because the only ones he uses are those that he steals from his enemies. 

Entirely a role-play choice and one Emer agreed with you on. I even told him we should address it in the comments and you gave us the perfect opportunity to do so! A shield may draw more attention but you wouldn't be thinking assassin if you saw it!

As far as daggers go, it's absolutely up to the player. They certainly are concealable and can be role-played as such, in order to have a back-up weapon in case there are none around when needed. You could also hold on to stolen weapons for a while too as back-ups.

For the hardcore player, not carrying a weapon and relying on stealing your enemy's first is a superb challenge, and can be incredibly fun. It's also where all those survivability/escape credentials come into play.

I prefer the hardcore no weapon route and Emer prefers the dagger as a back-up path. There's no right or wrong there!

If you should choose to carry a dagger, I recommend the Blade of Woe.

actually it still does fit. The backstory event took place before skyrim, so he simply dropped the blade

Anyway, I fixed it.

In the new story it says that he used his enemies weapons to kill them. That's what he is good at, so that's what he does.

All brilliant role-playing ideas and I personally like to leave a lot up to the individual player. Really, it began as more of a gameplay choice inspired by one of Emer's special moves from the original build that I felt would be an interesting concept to base a unique assassin around.

For me though, it's more a culmination of the Shadowscale's abilities. Any assassin starting out would certainly need a blade of his own to take down his targets, but how good would you have to be to have the confidence to walk around without a weapon and know you'll find something somewhere to kill someone with? For my own Shadowscale playthrough, it became as much a role-play choice as it was a gameplay gimmick, one that really helped to make me feel like I was embodying the type of trained killer who didn't need to carry a weapon because he could turn anything into one.

At one point very early on I snuck up on two bandits and grabbed the pickaxe laying next to them to slaughter them with. It was one of my all-time favorite Skyrim moments and made me feel more like a true assassin than any throat-slit has.

kind of makes this build a glass cannon but I like the cange none the less

You would think so, but the defensive capabilities of this class far outweigh those of most Assassins. First of all there's Histskin which can more or less keep you alive no matter what's getting thrown at you. Then, even though youve only got armored gauntlets and boots, they're nothing to scoff at when supplemented by Ebony Smithing and 5/5 Juggernaut, especially when coupled with a Flesh Spell. Can't forget the emphasis on the Block skill, either, which allows you to absolutely control battles and mitigate damage.

And finally, enemies aren't much of a threat when you're holding their weapons or they can't find you to begin with, which are the two things this build most excels at. It's nice to play as an Assassin with some defensive capabilities who can therefore be more methodical though, and doesn't have to worry about maximizing his damage output to prevent getting whooped.


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