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Character Build: The Burglar

Tags: #Character Build Thief  #Character Build Unarmored  #Character Build Unarmed  #Rank:Legendary  #Hall of Fame Build 
  • Member
    June 13, 2012

    When I was making my Lockpicking challenge a few weeks back, I realised something rather astounding. I have not seen a single build in this group mention lockpicking perks whatsoever. This inspired me to create a pure Thief build, much like I had in Oblivion (some of the older members probably remember me ranting about him). This is by far the fastest leveling build I've ever played, it took me only 4 hours to loot Riverwood, Riften and most of Solitude and reach level 23, with a rather tidy sum of 25k gold. So I present:

    The Burglar

    The Burglar is simply a very skilled thief. Too many thieves nowadays resort to violence and assassination over the course of their journeys, but the Burglar prefers to avoid combat completely. Often he will arrive in a town, and within a day people will find all of their valuables, possessions, goods and sometimes even clothes mysteriously missing. He is obviously a proficient infiltrator, as well as a master pickpocket and locksmith. He also knows how to get the best prices for his acquired merchandise, as well as mix a few concoctions on the side to assist him during his work.

    While the Burglar prefers to target people in towns and cities, he can still fare quite well in most dungeons and bandit hideouts. Most enemies can simply be passed by without being spotted, or alternatively you can relieve them of their arms and armor before taking them on. Another easy way is to simply make a dash through the entire dungeon, grab all the loot, and make your escape!

    Race: Relatively unimportant, I chose Khajiit for their Sneak bonus, night-eye and no need for weapons.

    Stone: Thief or Shadow. All of your skills are in the Thief sign so it's excellent for starting out.

    Stat Distribution: 0/1/1 in Magicka/Health/Stamina. You aren't using any magic and you shouldn't be in any combat - you can easily escape with a decent health and stamina.

    Major Skills:

    Pickpocket:Many citizens of towns and cities make easy targets, and most of them will carry something of value. Almost all citizens, even beggars, will be in possession of at least 1 ring of gem, often more. Several of the more wealth NPCs (Merchants, important people) will have enchanted items on them as well - and from a Jarl you can even manage to make over 1000 gold from what they keep in their pockets! Key perks are everything except for Poisoner - if you're doing it right you shouldn't need it. Yes, that means 5/5 ranks in Light Fingers - I can pilfer and equipped enchanted weapon from someone with a 90% success rate (maximum). Put perks into this early - once you can take valuables with 90% success rates you level this super fast! I had it maxed out at just level 20!

    Sneak:Very important skill, though not too perk-heavy. You need to be able to steal unseen - being spotted by waking up a sleeping resident can ruin a burgulary of a house for a night, and if you don't reach the door quickly you'll incur a bounty. Plus, being hidden while pickpocketing vastly improves your success chance. Key perks are up the left side to Silence - extra ranks in Stealth aren't necessary but can be taken later on.

    Lockpicking:Another valuable skill for the Burgular, completing the 'thievery trio' of Pickpocket, Sneak and Lockpicking. While not a critically important skill, a few of the perks off the side pay dividends. Quick Hands (lockpicking doesn't alert people), Treasure Hunter (more good loot), and Golden Touch (50% more gold) really stack up after awhile. Plus, it makes opening chests far less tedious. Important perks is the entire tree minus Wax Key (stops you from leveling your skill!) and Master Lockpicking (Expert allows us to get Unbreakable, meaning picks cannot be broken, rendering Master redundant).

    The Burglar sneaks into the Jarl's Quarters in Dragonsreach...

    Minor Skills:

    Speech:The Burglar knows how to sweet-talk his way past the guards and get better prices for his stolen goods. Important perks are Bribery (very important), Haggling (more ranks can be put in later) and all the way up the left side. Once you get the Fence perk it makes the whole thieving process alot smoother, instead of having to go back to a TG fence.

    Alchemy (Optional):Just something to do with all the stuff you steal from apothecaries. Invisibility, Sneak, Pickpocket, and Lockpicking potions can be very useful, as well as poisons just in case you are caught up in a combat situation. Everything except for Green Thumb is useful, since you'll be getting most of your ingredients from shops.

    The Burglar picks some pockets in the Riften Market

    Gameplay Notes (Video):

    To play a burglar effectively, you need to know who and what has the good stuff. Here's a list of good targets:

    • Most people in towns will have something of value (100g+) on them.
    • Upper-class citizens (The Black-Briars for example) will often have 3 or more of these items on them.
    • Many merchants will be carrying a piece of enchanted jewelry, among other valuables.
    • Wherever the Jarl is in town is always a good place to go. Everyone will be carrying multiple valuables, the Court Wizard will often be carrying a valuable staff, and there's plenty of display cases, chests, and rooms to steal from. The Court Wizard's room is often full of crafting materials, staves, scrolls, and soul gems, all of which are very valuable.
    • Most stores will also have a good bit of their stock out on display; Radiant Raiment and the Riften Markets are prime examples. During Brynjolf's distraction be sure to take as much as you can, you won't get another chance for awhile.
    • Alchemy shops house dozens of potions, all of which can be sold for a good price.
    When you get into a difficult battle, use two daggers. Applying a poison to both and then dual flurrying will take down enemies rather quickly.
    As for armor, I really liked the look of ragged trousers+ragged boots+hat for a trashy burglar type. Of course you could also go with Thieves Guild Armor.

    Sample 30 Perk Build:

    100 Magicka | 250 Health | 250 Stamina

    Sneak: Stealth 1, Muffled Movement, Light Foot, Silent Roll, Silence

    Lockpicking:Novice - Adept Locks, Quick Hands, Golden Touch, Treasure Hunter

    Pickpocket:Light Fingers 5, Night Thief, Extra Pockets, Cutpurse, Misdirection, Perfect Touch

    Speech: Haggling 3, Allure, Bribery

    Alchemy: Alchemist 3, Physician


    Overall this build was great fun, a very different playstyle and a break from combat based characters (ie all of them).

  • June 13, 2012

    This build looks like a nice time waster :D

  • June 13, 2012

    Nice build. I will have to try this. I might change alchemy in for Archery to distract people and maybe fight dragons if I wanted to do the main quest.

    Also, there is a book in the thieves guild called Shadow Marks I believe and explains all the markings on buildings and what may be inside them. It also helps if you need an escape plan since some marks will help you find a quick escape. 

  • June 13, 2012

    Very unique and interesting build. This will serve as a well needed break from combat. I suspect that you had Hired Thugs at every turn lol. Definite +Like from me. Thanks Ponty!

  • Member
    June 13, 2012

    You'd definitely need a combat skill/enchanting (for khajiit unarmed) if you wanted to do the main quest or finish the Thieves Guild. If you're using archery only for distractions you wouldn't need any perks!

    As for the Shadowmarks book you'll find right at the start of the video I do use one of their escape routes :D

  • Member
    June 13, 2012

    Haha, thanks! The discussion I started today ( was one of the more interesting Hired Thug encounters...

  • June 13, 2012

    You know, I've never truly embraced the thieves guild or used shadowmarks effectively. This will make for good practice. I'm creating a burglar now. 

  • June 13, 2012

    I wish I could watch your videos... one of the downfalls of living in China, no youtube or Facebook without a vpn :(

  • Member
    June 13, 2012

    Aw, that sucks! I feel sorry for you!

  • June 13, 2012

    Those Hired Thugs are relentless I tell you! Funny stuff. I started the burglar build. I swear it seems every NPC has an enchanted item on them. Which houses have you come across that have a large amount of loot?