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Character Build: The Black Dahlia

Tags: #Character Build Dual-Wield  #Character Build Assassin  #Race:Khajiit  #Rank:Bloodworks 
  • Member
    September 7, 2016

    Darkness falls all over Tamriel.  Blood pools in the streets of cities all over the nation-states.  Whispers on the wind are that the Night Mother has returned and the Dark Brotherhood has been reborn.  In Skyrim, the local remnants of the Brotherhood have not heard, nor heeded, the call from beyond.  Those with knowledge of the dark walkways whisper that the shadows are deepening and death is lurking around every bend.  All lives have a price it's just a matter of time before that debt is collected.  The Night Mother has put out her call to The Black Dahlia, her Listener and Master Assassin, and she has come calling on Skyrim.  The time for last call has come and the Black Dahlia is here to collect on your tab.

    The basic setup for The Black Dahlia is a pure assassin.  We will utilize shouts that merge with the class and we will dual wield.  We will stay away from magic and archery completely. 

    RACE: Khajiit

    STONE: Thief to start then transition to Steed.  Select Lord once Light Armor perks allow it.  Shadow once Aetherial Crown attained.
    SHRINE: Kynareth to start then Talos when you begin accumulating shouts.
    AMULET: Talos, for shout cooldown
    SHOUTS: Elemental Fury; Marked for Death; Slow Time; Throw Voice; Unrelenting Force; Whirlwind Sprint; Aura Whisper; Drain Vitality
    SECONDARY SHOUTS: Disarm, Dismay, Become Ethereal
    SPECIAL POWERS: Summon Specteral Assassin (From Dark Brotherhood questline)
    POINTS: 2-1 ratio (Health to Stamina) until Level 15; then 3-1 (Health to Stamina) starting at Level 16
    RECOMMENDED QUESTS: Innocence Lost; Dark Brotherhood; Companions (for training only); Moss Mother Cavern; Lost to the Ages; Main Quest (for dragons)
    DLC: Hearthfire is recommended

    Level 25 Perks

    Level 50 Perks

    We will use strictly melee combat and stealth in this build; no Archery nor Magic.  A few notes on some specific perks and why they play a role in the build:

    Alchemy: We take alchemy for poisons and restorative potions.  We go up the left side to Concentrated Poison to get two attacks per poison vial and we will need Restore Health potions to offset our lack of magical healing powers.  The Hearthfire DLC is recommended for the houses and the accompanying gardens that you can then grow your own crops for potions rather than farming throughout the game.  Gather once and then become a part time farmer!  You will need the fish as well, the second Hearthfire home has the ability to build a fish hatchery that serves the same purpose.

    Speech: We take a few points here for roleplaying purposes.  We go up the right side of the tree giving added abilities to "get away" with crimes and bribe guards.  This would be a power expected for The Listener and a master assassin.
    Enchanting and Smithing: We are NOT taking perk points here but we will utilize the abilities.  Smith your armor and weapons for the small buff that you can get for defense and damage.  Enchanting will be used to add additional damage abilities to your weapons.  You will note, the Level 50 perk shows the appropriate Smithing and Enchanting perks IF (and only IF) you want to utilize them in the build.  It will add significant damage and certainly make the playthrough much easier.  I did at least one playthrough each way.  These two skill trees take up 13 perk points which bring us to Level 50 if you use them; otherwise the build tops out at Level 37 for "needed" perks.
    Light Armor: Matching set is optional.  Because our armor is piecemeal you may not have a full "matching set" so that perk bonus would not apply. 

    Video walkthrough for the build

    The gameplay is all about stealth and backstabs, as much as you can.  The early going is more difficult due to the lack of stealth perks but it does level quickly, especially with the Thief Stone in the early going.  One of your first quests should be to get Valdr's Lucky Dagger and the first Elemental Fury shout word.  Use VLD in your off hand and you gain the bonus crit chance from the dagger and the bonus attack speed from the shout which will be very powerful in the early going.  Also get started on the Dark Brotherhood questline to get access to the Shrouded Gloves.  One of your first perk points should be to get Assassin's Blade for the 15x Backstab bonus which the Shrouded Gloves double to 30x damage.

    After clearing out Volunruud (I did this when I went there for the Dark Brotherhood quest), I started using Okin and Eduj as my two weapons for the enchantment damage and the higher base attack damage.  Beyond this, just keep upgrading weapons as you find them. 

    You will spend pretty much the entire game in stealth/crouch mode.  Naturally come out of crouch if needed, during combat.  Use shouts, as you accrue them, to set up your combat field and remember...always look for the back door and come in the way "least expected".  As you build up your perks, especially when you attain Silent Roll, make sure to use this in your movement.  With a high stealth score and Silent Roll, you can actually move past a target before they see you.  Also, with dual wield you can take out two targets in one power attack.  When you reach the top of that tree, and get Shadow Warrior, you can then use that as an additional stealth/disappear function to reset combat; very useful with bosses that you cannot one-shot.

    Utilize cooking (Vegetable Soup) for health regeneration/stamina regeneration when entering combat; this will help heal hits and keep up power attacks. 

    I recommend using Enchanting (perked or not) to put together a set of gear with Fortify One-Handed.  Combat against basic enemies should start with dual wield weapons, your Shrouded Gloves for backstab multipliers and a backstab attack.  If you are going to have combat that is drawn out (more than 2-3 hits) I would stop combat and then put on the Fortify One-Handed gear to get any potential weapon damage to help sustain you through the remainder of "face to face" combat.  After combat return to your inital set of gear.

    For boss creatures, you have to be a little more careful especially in the early going.  Start off with the same setup, but use poisons on your weapon for the additional boost.  Use Elemental Fury and add in and debilitating shouts to stun or knock back any attacks.  As noted above, add Shadow Warrior into that mix when you get that level.  If you've gotten the Aetherial Crown with the Shadow Stone, use invisibility (or potions) to get into position for the initial strike.

    While not an "official" special move there was a comment (by Phil I think) when I was fleshing this build out.  Using Valdr's Lucky Dagger (off hand) + Stealth Roll + Aetherial Crown (w/Shadow Stone) makes it appear that you have teleporting shadow attacks.  Double down on that with the ability to remove/replace the A.C. which resets the ability to cast invisibility) and the Shadow Warrior perk, not to mention a Slow Time shout, this gets really interesting from an attack perspective.  Phil used the Marvel character Nightcrawler as a reference.

    Lastly, do not be afraid to retreat.  This is not a juggernaut but a stealth build.  It may require running away to live and fight another day.  If you can get the enemy to disengage by retreating you can restealth and give it another go. 

    Aetherial Crown w/Shadow Stone

    Shrouded Gloves (from Dark Brotherhood questline)
    Heartstrings: Ebony One-Handed axe with absorb health enchantment
    Ravager: Ebony One-Handed sword with absorb health enchantment
    Magebane: Glass One-Handed sword with absorb magicka enchantment
    Soulreaper: Ebony One-Handed sword with Soul Trap
    Valdr's Lucky Dagger: Used in the early going for Elemental Fury boost and crit chance bonus.

    Alchemy will be a primary crafting tree needed in this build.  There is really no way around it and yet it fits into the assassin profile.  Luckily, alchemy has become less grindy as a craft thanks to the Hearthfire DLC.  Each house has the ability to build a garden where you can grow your needed materials and the second house has a fish hatchery as well.  So alchemy basically becomes a one-time harvest and then part time farming that you fast travel to every once in awhile to gather mats for a potion making spree.  Dragonbane is a potion useful against dragon's breath.  Assassin's Kiss is helpful again bosses or hit one target and then move on to another while the poison works away.  Assassin's Strike is helpful for burst damage.  Concentrated Poisons, in the Alchemy tree, will allow two hits per application once attained.  The only item not available from your garden is Mudcrab Chitin but should be easily attainable all across Skyrim.  Also, while not part of Alchemy, use Cooking to make Vegetable Soup which will become the most grindy part of gathering materials for.  It's handy for the entire game.  Paralysis poisons can also be something if you want that to be an alternative focus of your build.

    Dragonbane Potion: (resist fire & frost)-Mudcrab Chitin + Snowberries + Thistle Branch

    Assassin's Kiss: (damage health + slow)-Deathbell + River Betty

    Assassin's Strike: (fortify one-handed attack)-Canis Root + Hanging Moss

    I leveled up without any points in Enchanting and Smithing but I still used the ability for the small bonuses that un-perked provided.  This was a difficulty application decision for me.  Putting points into the appropriate points, as noted in the Level 50 perk list, will definitely increase those bonuses and make combat much simpler.  One example of combat in this build, when I went to the first dungeon in the Dawnguard questline, I was able to sneak to the right side and then attack both vampires individually and then take the dog out; quite simply the easiest time through that first room I've ever had.  Some of the shouts are not great without the Silent Casting perk in the Illusion tree, if you want to train that up just for that point it is an option.  Please remember that the Level 50 perks does include the Enchanting and Smithing perks; without those the build tops at Level 37 for perk points so there are PLENTY to go around if you want to get that Silent Casting ability.  It would add much more to the build but again, I was trying to keep this very basic and simple.

    As for casting, on occasion I did use the basic heal spell; more for leveling purposes than anything else.  I did make judicial use of the Ward I spell when facing dragons; basically just a stop-gap while I waited for them to land.  Then it was dual-wield + Vegetable Soup with a poison application and go to town.

    Thanks to Phil for some CB discussion and the Nightcrawler idea.  That was pretty neat and it does work well as explained above in the Gameplay section.  No Workshop this time but to all the WS gang, your past, present and future help is (and will always be) appreciated. 

  • September 7, 2016

    I really like that you left enchanting and smithing purely optional. Lots of gear in the game for assassins. Bet you had fun being sneaky kitty. 

  • September 7, 2016

    Really like the fact you left smithing and enchanting up to the player, playing a sneaky pusselycat is always fun fun fun, good video also my friend, nice job. +1

  • Member
    September 7, 2016

    Thanks bonelord.  Yeah, I did playthroughs both ways and with Enchanting/Smithing it was quite a bit easier so it was almost like a default difficulty setting for the build.  Still, it was nice to be able to add a few basic enchants, even unperked, just to get something especially once I got Absorb Health.  Thanks for the like and the comment...much appreciated!

  • Member
    September 8, 2016
    Great one, John. The screenshots look amazing and the explanation in the vid really works here. +1 Btw, completely forgot the equipment spread -.-
  • Member
    September 8, 2016

    That's OK Relycs, knew you were busy.  I have a spot saved for the gear spread whenever you finish it.


  • Member
    September 19, 2016
  • Member
    September 25, 2016

    Big thanks to Relycs for the Gear Sheet.  That complete's everything.  Thanks pal!

  • Member
    September 25, 2016
    My bad, 2 weeks late, that thanks is way too much :D.