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I would like to know how Skyrim determines whether I was detected killing someone. For example: There is this temple in Makreth, where there are some women down below the main hall. I lockpicked my way there, they stopped me and things ultimately led to a fight. I killed them, nobody was around to see it, yet when I came out of the temple, the guards were all over me...

I wasn't in stealth when fighting, because there were no witnesses whatsoever, so why was I still considered a killer?

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Supposedly, if someone sees you enter an area and then you commit a crime once inside, you can still be considered at fault. I haven't tested this myself though. I'd suggest always sneaking when doing something illegal. –  spugsley Nov 24 '11 at 18:31
    
In Oblivion there was a radius around doors in which NPCs could hear the fight inside and report it to guards. I expect Skyrim has some mechanic to achieve the same design goal. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 25 '11 at 0:47
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@spugsley Exactly right. I was on a mission to kill a target, and someone saw me lockpick the door. I didn't hear anyone cry out, but when I came out, the guards were all over me for the killing - not the trespassing. When I did it and was a bit more careful on the entry, there was no negative effect. –  wraith808 Jul 10 '12 at 20:57
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I've found that if you attack some one and they survive the first hit, they some how telepathically tell the guards, at least in towns.

A "stealth kill" is really any situation where you one-hit kill someone and no-one sees.

This is normally done while sneaking as you will get the damage multipliers (i think its X2 for bows and X3 for melee without perks) which make it a lot easier to do.

It's 3x for bows, 6x for one handed, 15x for daggers, and 2x for anything else with the relevant perks (Deadly Aim, Backstab, Assassin's Blade)

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I killed Faendal inside his home in Riverwood in two shots while he was alone at 1 AM. The next morning, in Morthal four guys tried to kill me. When I had dealt with them, I discovered a note on one of them. Apparently, Faendal had been able to contract those bloodsuckers to kill me in the three seconds between my first and last hits. –  chandsie Nov 25 '11 at 4:36
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Well that sucks big time. I'm a full mage, i instagibbed two of three by dual fireball, the third lived only until the next cast. I still got pwned by guards so it's probably as you say... Meh, I hate this –  Martin Melka Nov 25 '11 at 10:00
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He must have tweeted it. Something like "currently being shot to death in my home of riverside, this troll can't even sneak crit me in one hit, LuLz," and then you killed him. XD –  user18068 Jan 10 '12 at 2:53
    
With the sneak perks and equipment (e.g. gloves from the Dark Brotherhood), the multiplier can go much higher than that. My character has a 30x multiplier, which makes stealth kills very easy to do. –  hammar Jan 10 '12 at 7:11
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I believe that any witnesses to the crime, even if they do not actually escape to tell anyone, cause you to gain a bounty.

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Even if someone tells the guards, the guards will first go and check this. Maybe someone heard you after you entered, and ran to tell a guard, and then the guards saw the bodies. Or the people you killed were guards and it's automatically adds to you a bounty, and then even killing the guards won't help.

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