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Character Build: The Shadow Agent

Tags: #Character Build Rogue  #Character Build Nightblade  #Character Build No Crafting  #Rank:Recognized 
  • Member
    January 2, 2014

    The Shadow Agent

    The cold breathe that you feel upon your shoulder, the strange feeling of being watched, the undeniable movement that you cannot see, and the rush of wind as something passes by, these are the marks of a Shadow Agent. Though you may not sense them in any way, they sit there quietly, gathering information, planning, and sometimes striking, but disappearing with no trace of their existence except a job well done. The plans stolen from the general's tent, the ring of a fellow merchant suddenly appearing in your pocket, the strange and suddensensation of sickness as you double over, poisoned, or even the sudden appearance of wounds, with no discernible weapons, these are all missions that a Shadow Agent may take on.

    It is hard to say who sent them and why they ended up here in Skyrim, as the truth is no one knows who rules them. Perhaps they serve the Thalmor and will bring a silent and swift end to the Empire's strength, perhaps they work for the Empire to bring stability and safety to the region, or perhaps even new unknown factions that vie for power within Tamriel, or, even worse, they could be rogue.

    Yet no matter the circumstances an Agent did indeed end up in Skyrim, unbeknownst to anyone in power, and they found themselves caught, and on their way to what could indeed be their final mission.

    One should always be wary when dealing with shadows...


    Race: Any (Except Nord, and Orc)

    Stone: Thief, (For Leveling) Lord

    Stat Placement: 3 Magicka/ 1 Health/ 1 Stamina

    Major Skills: Sneak, Illusion, Pickpocket

    Minor Skills: Light Armor, Conjuration

    Weapons: Strategy and Illusion

    Suggested Quests: Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood, Pieces of the Past, The Break of Dawn,  Mages Guild, Alduin's Wall (Do at 46+)

    \Shadow Agents have a mastery of stealth, and of the mind, making themselves impossible to detect, by any foe. Dangerous, and crafty, these rogues never show themselves in the light when on a mission, should one ever see an Agent they would not recognize them ever as such, their guise is merely a bright face that hides the dark shadow beneath. And even if a Shadow should ever be discovered, they use their mastery of the mind to plant messages, some of peace, others of anger, allowing the Shadow to vanish once again from the minds and senses of the enemy while they either do nothing, or suddenly attack each other in a frenzied rage.

    Shadow Agents rarely resort to weapons to solve issues as they are generally contacted for subterfuge and intrigue, but should they need a weapon, they use it carefully, only killing the necessary targets, quietly, and quickly. They do not fight in the open unless as a last resort, they prefer to use stealth, guile, and escape techniques to avoid direct combat. Agents are also generally lone wolves, as it is rare for two to ever be needed for a single contract.


    Level 55 Perk Spread

    • Sneak: All Perks
    • Illusion: All Perks
    • Pickpocket: All Perks
    • Light Armor: All Perks
    • Conjuration: Novice - Adept, Mystic Binding

    Recommended Gear

    • Armor: Nightingale Hood with Shrouded Gloves, and Master Illusion Robes or Nightingale Armor when in Combat.
    • Weapons: Conjured Weapons, Mehrune's Razor, and if in open combat either Dragonbane (if Dragon), Dawnbreaker (If Undead), Nightingale Blade (Anything Else)



    Focus on Sneak and Illusion to provide constant stealth, weapon bonuses, and combat techniques. Always use distance, sneak attacks, and spells and enchantments to your advantage, but avoid open combat. Use Throw Voice to lure enemies either away from you, or to a location to finish them off. And if discovered by a large group, use Ethereal Shout to make yourself intangible and then vanish, run, or hide.

    If you should need to kill a larger group of enemies there are a few strategies to avoiding direct combat. Frenzy is the simplest and preferred method as it lets the enemies destroy themselves, and keeps the blood on their hands not yours. Using dungeon and fort traps is another useful trick especially against the Draugr, one time traps such as tripwire can have enemies lured to them and then activated by them or by you when they are in range. This allows for clean methods of combat.

    Early on you will not have much access to Illusion buffs or muffle enchants, so focus on sneaking and carefully do your best to walk around enemies. Going to the Mages Guild can help level Illusion faster, and provide for Illusion Robes which can help reduce the cost, and allow for earlier use of the spells until your magicka and perks catch up to your Illusion Spells.

    Should you be discovered, first try hiding using Illusion and Stealth, then calm, frenzy, or fear, depending on your situation, to take care of the enemies, run if this fails, and should you be stuck or otherwise unable to run, hide, or trick, then pull out the sword of choice, and put on One Handed and/or Health Enchanted Jewelry to aid you.

    This build is designed for a pure stealth, but not quite assassin build, fighting groups of enemies is not its suit, sneaking past them and letting them fight each other, that is its strength so be careful when coming up to bosses and use as much strategy and advantages as you can get. When open combat is necessary, use appropriately enchanted armor such as Linwe's Armor or any similarly enchanted light armor.




    Your path and personality are your own, so factions are up to you, though the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood provide useful tools, training, and assistance for missions.

    As a Shadow Agent you are not a brute nor a killer, you fight only when necessary, and do not kill extra targets then those contracted for, killing is a necessary evil, killing needlessly is not.

    Never wear your armor openly in the streets, as an Agent, blending in is key, so dress properly for each situation, and wear your armor when outside main civilization or on missions.

    Contacts and allies are important for gaining entry into places, and information, use them wisely, try to obtain many, but when on a mission, use them for information only, as an Agent you work alone, and complete your tasks alone, others can get in the way.

    Nocturnal is the Goddess and Patron of your Agency, you serve her almost as closely as her Nightingales, respect her, and her servants, thieves, and fellow spies, do not offend them or otherwise harm her children unless directly contracted to, just as Nocturnal might say, business is business.

    Agents must be careful of weaknesses and strive to keep free of them, carry supplies, and weapons, but do not burden oneself, families and friends can lead to betrayal or blackmail so most Agents remain alone (though assassins and fellow rogues can make excellent partners as they understand the business), and having a known base is dangerous as it can be traced, though such items can aid in a disguise (carry your essential gear with at all times if possible, Dremora Butler is an excellent way to do this as well as he can get items into restricted places)

    Lastly, no one should ever know you are a Shadow Agent, should someone discover your identity they must be silenced, while bribery and friendship can lead to allies and assistants, such ties can be used for other's gain, the best method of protection is that of permanent and final protection of your identity. (Fellow Assassins, Thieves, and Spies should believe that you are merely as such, a spy, thief, or assassin, not a Shadow Agent.)


    Last Thoughts

    This was my foray into a pure stealth build, and I tried to avoid weapon based abilities, should you find that Conjuration is a step too far into weaponry, remove the perks and move them into speech for Haggline (3/5) and Allure, but it does help to have the weapons at any time conjured from the Shadows. This was a tough build to play as the lack of combat skills can make fights take long if you get stuck in open combat, though if you focus the Sneak aspect it allows for boss fights to be set up in advance and then done quickly, Pickpocket also allows for removal of weapons (on some foes) allowing for the fights, even if they are not quick, to be a lot easier, as well Illusion takes care of larger parties of foes. The combination of skills works quite well however as you obtain the higher level spells and perks. Good luck, and as always, have fun Playing and Roleplaying this build. As well comments and critiques always help.


    If you have the time I ask that you please read, comment, and play my other builds as well:

  • Member
    January 2, 2014
    I really like the roleplay aspects of this - I think you've done a good job of explaining why a character might choose to avoid combat.

    I'd really like to see some more in-depth suggestions for strategy and tactics - *how* you avoided combat, how you accomplished indirect kills, and how you survive in early levels without weapons. Cooldowns for shouts mean that they aren't always viable in every situation, and you don't mention any magicka pool enhancements or cost reductions for your heavy Illusion use. I'm playing a similar character at the moment, and I'm still sorting out my preferred methods of handling these questions, but there are a large number of strategies available. Which ones did you use in your playthrough? Which ones would you recommend and why?

    nice work!
  • Member
    January 2, 2014

    If you haven't 100% fortify destruction enchantments, Keening has only one charge. Have you playtested this thing?

  • Member
    January 2, 2014

    I did not use Keening only acquired it, I merely suggest it as an option for a dagger, personally I used Mehrune's Razor more often than anything else, Did not realize it was a one use enchant, otherwise, yes I did playtest this build.

  • Member
    January 2, 2014

    I did forget to mention, until you get the Nightingale Hood and have a mastery of Illusion, joining the Mage's Guild provides opportunities for Robes of Illusion, and sometimes Illusion and Magicka jewelry. Doing Out of Balance for Drevis at the College gives a buff which I used to quickly level my Illusion using Muffle until my spells were far less costly. The College also gives one Roleplay options to discover information, and contacts.

    As for strategies on avoiding combat. Sneaking everywhere whenever in a dungeon, fort, or cave, and a lot of running and hiding. It is tough early on, but worth it. The Illusion spells eventually catch up providing Muffle and Invisibility to sneak past enemies entirely. The Nightingale Hood provides Illusion reduction. And my best suggestion is to wear Master Illusion Robes when not in combat.

    Thank you for pointing out some things I missed, and if there is anything I need to expand upon please let me know, otherwise I will add some of this in to the original post, where necessary.

  • Member
    January 2, 2014

    You can also purchase potions of invisibility to supplement your abilities early on, though expensive it has helped in a few heavily populated areas when sneaking around.

  • Member
    April 13, 2014

    The build's missing a "yet" one-linerĀ . Anyways, love the RP, love the presentation, and love the content, even if it is a mainstream nightblade. +1 from me, good job once again.

  • January 7, 2017

    This is such a good build, the idea of not killing everything in sight is surprisingly refreshing. I agree with some of the others in that you should some "tactics" on how you avoided your enemies. Other than that this is a fantastic build and an easy +1 from me.