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I noticed that you don't get better at sneaking by simply sneaking around anymore (maybe I'm wrong and it just goes really slowly?).

The only way to get better that I discovered was to successfully attack enemies while hidden.

Are there other ways to increase your sneaking skill and what are they?

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Related: How can I learn sneaking effectively? – galacticninja Apr 28 '13 at 3:03

15 Answers 15

up vote 17 down vote accepted

I've had sneaking increase simply by staying in one place while I waited for enemies to move for me to get a better shot. It seems that you can increase sneaking simply by being crouched near hostile enemies.

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This would fit with previous elder scrolls titles: you need to be hidden near enemies that could spot you to level up sneaking. – Joachim Sauer Nov 11 '11 at 8:10
Notice the sneak crosshairs has three states: a flat line, an eye, and an eye that says DETECTED. It seems that when it's a flat line, there's no-one around to spot you, and you know that sneaking won't increase the skill. – SevenSidedDie Nov 11 '11 at 8:38
@Seven You can Have the flat line and be 'HIDDEN' from a nearby enemy. – Arkive Nov 11 '11 at 8:48
Confirmed. You can have the flat line and still gain sneak xp. I was of course still in range of an enemy – Arkive Nov 11 '11 at 9:04
Then I'm curious what exactly the three states mean. Could be a good question. – SevenSidedDie Nov 11 '11 at 18:07

You gain sneak xp if you have the flat line and are moving close enough to someone who potentially could see you.

The eye means that you are seen. With or without the text detected. Makes no difference. The line mean you are hidden. The short duration of the text hidden I believe is nothing but a service statement.

What I do to get easy sneak, is completely undress the character (armor and boots makes noise), walk up in a corner behind a sleeping person. And then keep walking into the corner, so that i stay in the same place but is moving while sneaking. The line just has to be flat. No "hidden" necessarry. I get no xp while not moving. Auto-walking in the corner seems to not work this time. Maybe they did not want us to get xp while not in front of the screen.

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It is not enough as stated above to simply crouch near an enemy. You have to move while crouching or use sneak attack on them. – Kilroy1975 Nov 15 '11 at 20:17
it seems that you can in fact level sneak by staying still when people are actively looking for you, but haven't yet detected you (eye half open). – insta Dec 28 '11 at 21:26
"What I do [...] is completely undress [...], walk up in a corner behind a sleeping person. And [...] stay in the same place but [...] sneaking." - Kilroy1975. – NiteCyper Aug 20 '14 at 16:47

To get better you need to look at every part of a quest in a sneak only manner. Look out for opportunities to sneak as there are millions throughout the game.

When sneaking, archery is your best friend as it lets you attack from afar whithout being seen. Another tip is the firing an arrow at a wall near an enemy will draw his attention to the spot and opens your oppotunity for an attack. Note that at the begining of the game you should chose the warrior stone over the theives stone as sneak attacking will be a lot more important than sneaking around somebody.

It is also important that you use light armor over heavy as it lets you move quicker whilst sneaking. Remember to take your time whilst sneaking as going to fast whilst near an enemy will alert it.

The best idea for a newcomer to skyrim is to head straight to the thieves guild. This is located in riften aand once your trigger their quest line you will receive the theives armour(light) after running a few errands for the leaders. Note that a certain degree of combat skill is required to reach the theives guild as some enemies are around that area.

Whilst attacking forts, camps and other locastions you should remember, as a theif, NOT to charge through the front gate. Instead, approach the location from hilltops and inconspicuous areas. Water is your friend and hiding beneath it is very benefitial. The best tip is to get up on a hilltop and rain down arrows.

The most important thing you need to know abotut sneaking is that when an enemy is looking for you (half eye open) they will go towards the spot from which you got their attention! There fore you should get away from the place that you fired a shot until you are hidden and then repeat your process.

Forget about daggers and two-handed weapons; sneaking is all about archery!

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My character is currently a level 13 Khajit assassin, at the beginning of the game!

Here's how I did it:

  • Pick Ralof, not Hadvar (he has a key!)
  • When the Imperial Captain dies, loot her body for the key. Ralof will only take that key.
  • Wait by the door with a dagger equipped while crouched.
  • Spam the attack button. Your Sneak and One-Handed skill should skyrocket.
  • Keep doing this until you have as many points in the skill that you want.

Simple, really.

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Sneak attacks are the best way to increase your sneak skill. If you have Muffle and Invisibility, this can be really easy and also boost your Illusion skills.

Whenever enemies are near:
1. Enter sneak mode, preferably before being spotted
2. Cast Muffle, this allows you to move faster without being noticed
3. Cast Invisibility
4. Go for the kill!

This works best if you are using one handed weapons because you can recast Invisibility with your free hand and usually sneak attack another target even if they are trying to attack you.

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Go to High Hrothgar, wait for the Graybeards to pray, then crouch behind them and attack. Attack them three times, then switch to another Greybeard. As long as you don't hit them four times in succession, you will not cause them to attack you.

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Attacking the Greybeards is pointless, since they are essential NPCs. You will get killed by them because Master Arngeir is level 150 according to the game files. – ヴァイシャリ Nov 7 '12 at 16:04
@One-One Did you try it? Because I did it yesterday and I got my sneak to 100 in the matter of an hour. The only important thing is not to get detected and it is very easy when Greybeards are sleeping or praying. – kyooryu Jul 30 '13 at 8:50

The 'Eye' is just a grade-based indicator of your Sneaking state.

Fully open eye means you are spotted and enemy knows your location, somewhat open eye means enemies are aware of someone sneaking and are cautious, but not aware of your exact location, flat line means you're unnoticed.

As for the leveling, as some people suggested, you can level up as long as you pass a stealth check (i.e.: sneaking behind/near a hostile enemy unnoticed) but you can also level it up by successfully connecting sneak attacks (you'll know since the game lets you know with a message on the top-left corner).

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While successfully remaining undetected does slowly build sneak xp. There are two more adventurous ways...

When you resume sneaking (making the hidden text appear) against an opponent that previously detected you, you get a nice chunk of sneak experience.

When you sneak attack an opponent, you get sneak experience based on damage done.

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You will always gain experience by sneaking around, no matter what level, (with the exception of level 100, when it just can't go up any further) provided there is something that 'could' detect you.

Attacking things (while sneaking, 'hidden') helps to level up sneaking faster. Depending on what your sneaking level is, it will take longer to increase your level, same goes for all skills.

If you want to level up faster, I suggest you take a weapon of any kind and just stealth attack creatures.

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If you are playing on Xbox/PS3 all you need to do is pick any character you want and play through till you get to the caves where the bear is. Sneak along the right side of the cave until you reach the rock that is right next to the sleeping bear. On top of the rock, there is a crease in the wall that you can sneak into, and you will not slide off the wall to either side, and you are still "hidden" from the bear. Get a toothpick or something, run into the wall, and sick the toothpick into the controller. It takes a bunch of hours to get to 100 this way but you can max out your sneak before even finishing the first quest in the game.

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Another option is in one of the first dungeons, there's a portion called "Bleak Falls," and there's a waterfall overlooking a bridge that has a draugar patrolling it. Go into sneak mode, and park yourself on the ledge. The draugaur will detect you at first, but its pathing will cause it to run in such a fashion that if it detects you, it'll loose sight of you quickly enough and thus drop aggro. Just park yourself on the waterfall until you think you've leveled enough.

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In bleak falls barrow, I crouch behind a rock, and use destruction magic against the rock. The bandits will come searching for you, but won't be able to find you. As long as you are sneaking, sneak will level.

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I was following Gaius Maro when he stopped at an outlet South of the Dainty Sload and North of the Blue Palace. He wouldn't move, so I sat at and outcrop of rocks above him. When I stayed still, there was no noticable advancement, but when I used the W,A,S and D keys, I saw progress and leveled up as well. Trouble was getting him to move again.

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Sneaking near falmer helps as they are blind and therefore cant see you directly

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They may be "blind", but as far as the game mechanics are concerned they detect the player no differently or worse than other mobs. – SevenSidedDie Dec 29 '12 at 2:23

Kill an enemy, then walk around a corner. Set your controller upside down once you're hidden while sneaking, and the dead enemy can't see you, keep your controller upside down with your guy walking into a corner and the analog pushed up. Then sit back and watch a movie while your level goes from 15 to 100.

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I'm pretty sure dead enemies don't contribute towards increasing your sneaking skill. – Frank Aug 20 '14 at 14:20
Yeah, there was probably another enemy they were evading. The idea of gaining Sneak XP by sneaking around a corpse is funny though (undead not included). – NiteCyper Aug 20 '14 at 15:44 – NiteCyper Aug 20 '14 at 17:28

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