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Character Build: Maera of the Morag Tong

Tags: #Character Build Assassin  #Character Build Mods  #Race:Dunmer  #Ordinator  #SE Rank:Apprentice  #21 TES Classes 
  • Member
    October 1, 2018



    Maera of the Morag Tong


    This is the seventh installment in what will be a twenty-one part series (one-third done!). I have been working on this project for literally three years. The goal is to create twenty-one different builds for the twenty-one classes from the Elder Scrolls (TES) series. Albino put together a similar project that served as an inspiration, but I fleshed each class out into a full on character and have been tinkering with these builds over the course of three different consoles (PS3, PS4 and XB1). I have an extensive mod list that can be viewed here. Most of these builds have been directly inspired by other builds on the Tamriel Vault, and those builds will be cited below as well.

    I followed a number of self-imposed rules and restrictions when making these builds. Each has exactly six skills. Five of the six must come from the pool of skills used by the class in past TES games, allowing each character one additional free skill. I used information from Daggerfall, Morrowind and Oblivion to determine the skill pool for each class. Each build must have at least three skills in their specialization (MagicCombat or Stealth). Over all twenty-one builds, I incorporated every gender, race, skill, weapon class and faction at least once, if not more. The result is a literal cast of characters spanning every aspect of TES V: Skyrim. The seventh build I will present is my Assassin - Maera of the Morag Tong.

    Maera is a high-ranking member of the Morag Tong, an ancient guild of assassins headquartered in Morrowind, who celebrate murder in the name of Mephala. Maera was sent to Skyrim by the Master of her Guild Hall with the goal of infiltrating the Dark Brotherhood and acting as a sleeper agent in an effort to overthrow the organization and bring the group under the control of the Morag Tong. Her plot is two-fold - she will traverse all of Skyrim and Solstheim in an effort to learn everything she can of these lands for her Master in Morrowind, and she will climb the ranks of the Brotherhood to become Listener and, upon attaining this title, will reveal her true allegiance and command her order to either follow her or die by her hand.

    Maera in action

    Maera about to assassinate an unknowing victim.

    Age: 138 Gender: Female Race: Dunmer Class: Assassin Specialization: Stealth (4 of 6 skills) Attributes: Intelligence, Speed

    Spouse: none Follower: none Deity: Mephala Home: Bal Ruhn Alignment: Lawful Evil

    Factions: Dark Brotherhood Magicka/Health/Stamina0 / 1 / 1 Standing Stone: The Thief, then the Shadow

    Major Skills

    Sneak: Maera’s Sneak skill allows her to assassinate her targets while undetected. Assassin’s Blade ensures she can take out an enemy in one strike, while Laughing Ghost will double her damage output so you can use it on high level opponents. Smokescreen gives her a chance to escape if detected and come back with an even more powerful ambush once she has disappeared from sight (18 perks).

    Sneak Mastery (2/2)
    Sneak Attack
    Silent Roll
    Spot Detection
    Assassin's Blade - Sneak attacks with daggers deal 1% more damage per level of Sneak.
    Dynamic Entry
    Backstab (2/2)
    Light Foot
    Right Behind You
    Smokescreen - Grants the "Smokescreen" power. Once a day, creates a 35 foot cloud for 180 seconds that blinds those in the cloud, preventing them from seeing sneaking targets. Sneak attacks against them deal 50% more damage.
    Clean Escape
    Behind Enemy Lines
    Problem Solver
    Shadow Warrior
    Laughing Ghost - Grants the "Laughing Ghost" power. At will, while sneaking, teleport through the shadows behind a target to attempt a sneak power attack with your right weapon that deals double sneak attack damage. The target must be out of combat. 

    One-Handed: Maera exclusively uses a dagger when in melee combat, and relies upon this skill with the short blade when detected. Rogue's Parry lets her strike her opponent down with just a single dagger at critical moments. Death Adder gives her a huge advantage over heavily armored opponents as her power attacks will simply slice through their protection. Coiling Python serves as a deadly combo that will be an instant kill on plenty of opponents, but requires patience and skill to land (14 perks).

    One-Handed Mastery (2/2)
    Disciplined Fighter
    Bite Marks (3/3)
    Furious Strength
    Savage (2/2)
    Rogue's Parry - When wielding a one-handed weapon and an empty other hand, attacking with the weapon while the opponent is winding up their attack or drawing a bow deals 40% more damage and delivers a critical strike.
    Twin Fang
    Swaying Cobra
    Death Adder - Standing power attacks with a dagger ignore armor.
    Coiling Python - Hitting a target with a forwards, sideways and backwards power attack with a dagger within 30 seconds paralyzes the target for 20 seconds. Your attacks against the paralyzed target are critical strikes that deal nine times critical damage.

    Archery: Maera’s approach to archery is that of a true assassin, or how we would think of a modern day sniper. She uses her bow in ranged combat and when undetected, but does not hesitate to switch to her daggers in close quarters. As a result, her Archery perks focus on taking out strong enemies, one at a time, from a long distance away before you enter the fray and engage in melee combat. Snipe lets you identify a high-priority target and wallop them with your best shot (and works great with Poison enchantments from Summermyst). Ambush Predator dictates that you pick your shots and prepare by tracking your enemy for at least 6 seconds before firing. Hawkeye is a super useful utility power that will let you instantly kill a tough enemy and simulates the deadly precision of a trained Morag Tong assassin (14 perks).

    Archery Mastery (2/2)
    Clean Kill
    Long Shot (3/3)
    Steady Hand (3/3)
    Thread the Needle (2/2)
    Snipe - Shooting targets you haven't shot within the past 10 seconds inflicts a critical strike that deals three times critical damage, and any weapon enchantments applied by the shot are twice as effective.
    Ambush Predator - After standing still for 6 seconds with a bow or crossbow out, it does 25% more damage until you move.
    Hawkeye - Grants the "Hawkeye" power. Once a day, slow time and focus on your foes for 10 seconds, looking for opportunities for a killing shot. Finding their vulnerability takes 1 second per 125 Health. Once you do, you may shoot them for an instant kill.

    Minor Skills

    Light Armor: Maera will occasionally be detected by her enemies. Light Armor (Chitin or Netch Leather at first, and then Morag Tong Armor when you can get it) protects her during these skirmishes. Unhindered ensures Maera is not burdened by her armor. Evasive Leap is a great tool to mitigate incoming damage and reminds me of how someone like Daredevil or Elektra would fight in a brawl. Wardancer adds to this as well, as Maera can weave in and out of combat and benefits from not getting hit (10 perks).

    Light Armor Mastery (2/2)
    Light Armor Fit
    Initiative (2/2)
    Keen Senses
    Unhindered - Light Armor weighs nothing and doesn't slow you down when worn.
    Evasive Leap - If wearing all Light Armor, jump in combat to cause all incoming attacks and spells to miss for 1 second. This effect has a 5 second cooldown.
    Wardancer - Your agility enables you to strike more effectively, granting 20% more attack damage and critical damage if wearing all Light Armor. This effect is lost for 6 seconds whenever you get struck by an unblocked attack or a hostile spell in combat.

    Alchemy: By no means a master alchemist, Maera has focused solely on poisons and uses her gold to purchase ingredients and healing potions from merchants. Bottomless Cup works great with both poisoned bows and daggers. Alkahest, in combination with Death Adder, can allow a single poisoned dagger strike to ignore almost all of your opponent’s armor. Amplify Lethality helps you weaken stronger targets, and when paired with Brotherhood Cocktail or Hawkeye and a poisoned bow can take down almost any opponent Maera will ever face (6 perks).

    Alchemy Mastery (2/2)
    Bottomless Cup - Poisons applied to weapons last for one additional hit per 10 levels of Alchemy.
    Alkahest - Your poisons are highly corrosive, enabling you to ignore 40% of the armor rating of an affected target for their duration.
    Amplify Lethality - Grants the "Amplify Lethality" power. Once a day, point at a victim to silently reduce their poison resistance by 250% for 10 seconds.

    Pickpocket: Pickpocket adds some variety and intrigue to Maera’s arsenal. Blood Money can be looked at as a boon from Mephala herself who is pleased by Maera’s offerings. Brotherhood Cocktail pairs very well with Maera’s Alchemy skill and allows her to either outright kill weaker enemies with a poison or paralyze stronger ones to gain a tactical advantage. Death’s Emperor provides the cursed (or, blessed by Mephala?) septim that can be used to ensure her strongest foes are taken down with one slice of the throat (5 perks).

    Pickpocket Mastery (2/2)
    Blood Money - You find 10-100 more gold when looting humanoid corpses you have slain in an especially violent fashion (with an attack that dealt at least 100 more damage than their remaining Health or a killmove).
    Brotherhood Cocktail - Silently harm enemies by placing poisons in their pockets while pickpocketing.
    Death's Emperor (2/2) - A cursed septim appears in your inventory. When someone else is in possession of the coin, your attacks deal 100/200% more damage and critical damage to them.

     This totals 67 perks, so the build will be complete at Level 68


    The Assassin's starting kit, as seen in Morrowind.

    Arsenal and Armory

    Maera’s weapons of choice are a dagger and a bow. She prefers the aesthetic look of Orcish weapons, and also finds comfort in how strong and reliable they are. She longs for a matching set of an Ebony Dagger and an Ebony Bow, which will look incredible with the Old Kingdom Weapon Overhaul.

    The main enchantments you should look out for are the Poison Damage and Poison Damage Cumulative effects from Summermyst. This is the default enchantment Maera applies to all of her weapons. The Hidden Serpent enchantment (If the target leaves combat within X seconds, halves its remaining Health) also works incredibly well with a stealth-based approach where you strike a target and then disappear into the shadows again. Putting this enchantment on a bow while leaving poison-based enchantments on your daggers is a lethal combination.

    While you may be lucky enough to find Orcish or Ebony weapons already enchanted with Poison or Hidden Serpent, you may have to enchant a few of your own weapons to give them a unique name that pays tribute to Mephala. The list of potential names I came up with so far includes Gray Writ, Webspinner, Venomstrike, Widowmaker, and Bow of the Morag Tong for bows; and Venomkiss, Blackfang, Venombite, Mephala’s Fang, and Blade of the Morag Tong for daggers.

    Maera spends a lot of time on Solstheim, so a Frost-based weapon is also incredibly useful for Ash Spawn and Burnt Spriggans. I enchanted an Orcish Bow with Frost Damage and called it Solkahst, the Dunmeri word for glacier.

    A devout worshiper of Mephala, the Webspinner, Maera was intrigued by the use of spider scrolls on Solstheim. She quickly uncovered the secrets behind crafting them and even installed her own imbuing chamber in her home. Maera always carries a few of these in her utility belt, just in case.

    Lastly, Maera is determined to find the Ebony Blade and eventually restore it to its rightful home in the Guild Hall of the Morag Tong. She will simply hold onto it as a trophy for the time being, as she favors short blades over the unwieldy katana of her order.

    Armor is a pretty straight forward choice. Grab some Chitin Armor ASAP (I believe it spawns around Level 12) and then don the Morag Tong Armor once you complete Served Cold. The Netch Leather Armor from Warmonger Armory is a good substitute until you find Chitin, or can be worn on it's own until your get your Morag Tong set.

    Maera has no interest in Alduin or the prophecy of the Dragonborn, so she does not bother with saving Skyrim and consequently doesn’t use shouts. Her racial ability is Spirit Walk, which she learns by slaying 10 victims indicated by Whispers. Key powers include Ancestral Guardian (from Imperious) and Summon Spectral Assassin.

    A devotee of Mephala, Maera has even more bonuses added by the Wintersun - Faiths of Skyrim mod. Maera abides by the following tenets: “Poison your weapons. Strike unseen with sneak attacks. Intimidate the weak. Dark Elves are most deserving of my favor.” As a result, she gets the Secret Murder power, which makes sneak attacks deal X% more damage from behind (based on favor with Mephala), and the Whispers of Betrayal power: meditating allows Maera to seize control of the nearest person within 75 feet to fight for her.

    Special Attacks

    Laughing Emperor: Laughing Ghost + Death’s Emperor. Maera utilizes her near-superhuman stealth abilities to move in on a target undetected and place the cursed septim in their pocket before striking them down with her dagger.

    Envenom: Coiling Python + Bottomless Cup + Alkahest. Maera strikes her enemy with a forwards, sideways and backwards power attack, all with poisoned daggers that ignore armor and eventually cause paralysis. This is an incredibly brutal attack that should be saved for only the most challenging enemies.

    Spider’s Sting: Amplify Lethality + Poison Bow & Arrow + Snipe + Ambush Predator. Maera sets her focus on a strong target and uses a lethal poison arrow to take them out.


    Dark Brotherhood, Served Cold, any and all quests on Solstheim other than Dragonborn, The Whispering Door, Blood on the Ice, The White Phial, Repairing the Phial


    Maera is a pure assassin. Your battles should be slow, deliberate, calculated affairs where you implement each and every skill in your possession to methodically take out your enemies. This obviously starts with everyone’s favorite approach - sneak archery. From there, it’s best to feel things out and work through the area you are clearing with intention. There are going to be times where you are discovered (especially if you use something like Realistic AI Detection) and that is where your daggers and light armor come into play. As mentioned, try to think of Maera’s melee combat style as something similar to Daredevil. Dodging, jumping and avoiding attacks while landing brutal power swings with your dagger in between.

    Be sure to apply poisons to all of your weapons before you start any encounters, and do not hesitate to re-apply them once they’ve been used. I tend to roleplay some limitation on how much I carry, and will start any journey with only 5-10 potions and maybe 5-7 poisons. Use them wisely. As for Alchemy, focus on crafting a wide variety of poisons, as well as potions of Fortify Archery, Fortify Light Armor and Fortify One-Handed. Downing one of the latter two will help greatly if engaging in a melee, while using a potion of Fortify Archery can help ensure you strike down your target in one shot.

    Maera also has a few more tools in her bag of tricks - powers and spider scrolls. The powers outlined in the perk section are perfect utility tools and remind me of things Batman would bust out when he was in a jam - something like Smokescreen or Shadow Warrior can really get you out of a tricky situation and should be used as such, while Ancestral Guardian and Summon Spectral Assassin can help out greatly if you get into an extended melee battle.

    Overall, Maera’s strengths are emphasized when attacking from the shadows and that should be your priority. Avoid having any followers as they will tend to blow your cover. Once you are discovered, her combination of speed, a dagger and light armor should be enough to survive any encounter and retreat to the shadows once she’s able to.


    Maera is a covert agent for the Morag Tong, sent to Skyrim to infiltrate the Dark Brotherhood. While many Morag Tong builds choose to “Destroy the Dark Brotherhood”, I felt that my approach would provide a more straightforward play through that emphasizes assassinations, subterfuge and contracts. This is my build for the Assassin class after all. Maera’s ultimate goal is to become the leader of Skyrim’s branch of the Brotherhood, upon which she will then reveal to all her true allegiance and command her followers to serve Mephala or die by her hand. Mephala is, after all, the ruler of lies, and would be honored my Maera's grand deception.

    Consequently, Maera's primary questline is the Dark Brotherhood. In order to work up to Morag Tong Armor, do any and all quests on Solstheim as well, including Served Cold. I understand it might seem counterintuitive to kill other Morag Tong during this quest, but I’d argue that Maera is going so deep undercover she cannot afford to blow it by showing mercy on her fellow assassins. Considering her mission was a directive from one of the highest ranking members of the Morag Tong in Morrowind, her execution of a few rogue agents in Solstheim is a small price to pay in the plan to overthrow the Dark Brotherhood.

    Additional quests include the Whispering Door and the Black Star, to acquire some meaningful Daedric artifacts, and Blood on the Ice and the White Phial, just to complete some quests close to home. The Black Star is useful to charge any weapons you craft, and is an important artifact for any Dunmer. The Ebony Blade will not be used as it is a two-handed weapon, but will rather serve as a trophy and a ceremonial object illustrating the power and rank Maera has in the organization of the Morag Tong. Maera will set up home base in Bal Ruhn, an apartment in the Gray Quarter. However, feel free to move to Severin Manor once that option is available.

    A combination of sneak archery, poisoned daggers and agile melee combat result in a play style that is both methodical and deliberate at times and fast and furious at others. Taking inspiration from a variety of concepts and characters, Maera of the Morag Tong is the quintessential assassin build.

    Alternate Start: The Alternate Start - Live Another Life mod is a must-have. Here, I used it to start Maera's quest off as a sleeper agent new recruit for the Dark Brotherhood.

    Necessary Mods: Ordinator, Imperious, Summermyst, Andromeda, Wintersun and Bal Ruhn (all available on both PC and XB1).

    Inspirations: Mason's Morag Tong was a huge inspiration. Mason is one of the premiere build-makers and I feel like their Morag Tong build was the foundation upon which I built mine. Also, the Morag Tong build over on the Fudge Muppet YouTube page is great as well, and I took some general inspiration from how that was presented. Thanks for reading and I hope you try it out! Art is from TES: Legends or Elder Scrolls Online and taken from The Elder Scrolls Wiki.

    Update: As with Vigilant Vunhilde, Maera has been revised to have a more streamlined and specific perk set with a total closer to 60 than 90. Wintersun added some perfect boons for Maera, and the roleplay as a worshipper of Mephala couldn't be more perfect. Keep your eyes peeled for more updates and a new build or two soon!

  • Member
    October 1, 2018

    New build! 7 down, 14 to go. I changed some formatting based on feedback. Now outlining 21 key perks and explaining some synergies behind them, and creating distinct gameplay and roleplay sections as well. Hopefully this is a more enjoyable read for you all!

  • October 1, 2018

    Looking good as always Dean, I have to say that I think you did a really good job implementing the Mephala content and Lore with this build, made it just fun to read. The gameplay feels like it'd be really fun, a bit overpowered at times for my preferences (not that big on late-game Assassins) but still interesting with some really nice combos. 

  • Member
    October 1, 2018

    Like DB said above it is looking good and the concept of the build is nicely integrated into the world. Never roleplayed as a morag-tong so I might draw some ideas from this one when I go for it. One thing you mention and I also found disturbing is that as a morag tong assassin at some point you 'll have to kill other Morag tong assassins and have to find ways to work around that. Also I like the pick of pickpocket for some extra kick and it will be fun to level it up during the playthrough. Keep it up!

  • Member
    October 2, 2018

    Dragonborn2021 said:

    Looking good as always Dean, I have to say that I think you did a really good job implementing the Mephala content and Lore with this build, made it just fun to read. The gameplay feels like it'd be really fun, a bit overpowered at times for my preferences (not that big on late-game Assassins) but still interesting with some really nice combos. 

    Thanks as always! I probably should mention that I am using some combat mods - Wildcat, Realistic AI Detection, Mortal Enemies, and Know Your Enemy. These make the late-game a bit more challenging overall.

    Duvain said:

    Like DB said above it is looking good and the concept of the build is nicely integrated into the world. Never roleplayed as a morag-tong so I might draw some ideas from this one when I go for it. One thing you mention and I also found disturbing is that as a morag tong assassin at some point you 'll have to kill other Morag tong assassins and have to find ways to work around that. Also I like the pick of pickpocket for some extra kick and it will be fun to level it up during the playthrough. Keep it up!

    Yes, it was hard for me to figure out how to deal with that quest. There's no way to get Morag Tong armor in the game other than doing Served Cold (without cheating or using the console, I mean). I justified it to myself as arguing that the organization would see the overthrow and takeover of the Dark Brotherhood as worth more than the lives of a few agents in Solstheim. As for Pickpocket, it's definitely fun and I always like leveling it up on my enemies if they can't see me lol.

  • October 10, 2018

    @Dean The link to your modlist isn't working for me. When I click it, it says you've deleted the file from Google Drive. I tried with your other builds and they all have the same thing as well.

  • November 25, 2018

    @Dean When can we expect to see future installments?

  • Member
    January 5, 2019

    @TheCloverLord I fixed it!  


    @chassan1 Very soon. I will have a new one finished tonight/tomorrow.

  • Member
    January 19, 2019

    Brief update here. In continuing with my efforts to streamline everyone, I removed the Lock Picking tree and a few other bonus perks to get Maera down to a much more reasonable 68 perks. No need for any bonus perk point mods now and keeps progression balanced with Vanilla as intended by the mod author. Also added the Wintersun piece, which couldn't fit into this build any better.