This is my first playthrough and having experience with RPGs I want to play a "pure" build in my first playthough. It's gonna be a thief. I realize you can benefit (greatly in some cases) from some warrior/mage skills which is why I would like to know how necessary especially blacksmithing, enchanting and illusion are for a thief and in what order I should learn them.

I have no idea how tight perk points are in the late game and if it's possible to max out all thief skills and still invest points in aforementioned non thief skills.

Regarding blacksmithing/enchanting: Isn't the optimum thief gear stuff you get from quests (Thief guild, Dark Brotherhood)?

Regarding illusion: Doesn't the Shadow Warrior perk in the sneak tree let you escape from sticky situations?

  • Anything you like that you think would be helpful or cool or whatever, that's the thing about RPG's you can do whatever you like. You can set your own rules or restrictions and play by those whatever they may be. Who's to say that a thief needs to use daggers? They could use hammers or axes or spells or bows or anything, it's up to you to decide on how you want to play. Do you want to make your own weapons? Do you want to enchant? Make potions etc? It's all your choice
    – Aequitas
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 21:33
  • 1
    This is a very big question to answer based on multiple factors: play style, what do you want to accomplish, and a ton of other what if's. Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 21:34
  • @Jason: I'm new to the game. Maybe you could point just a few of those if's out for me.
    – H3R3T1K
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 21:36
  • Do you want to kill people? That is closer to an assassin than a thief. Shooting people with a bow at range is also an assassin-type play style and not really a "thief". Note: If you're using the latest patch, you have infinite levels and infinite perks due to the Legendary Skill option.
    – Nelson
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 0:09

3 Answers 3


This is primarily opinion based, and this answer is based on my play style; which may or may not fit your play style or anyone else.

When I start a thief in Skyrim (which is the primary class that I play) I always play with a Bow. I find it fun to snipe enemies from afar and when you get the cool critical animation from hundreds of yards away, it is something to be satisfied with.

As far as skills and what I focus on first:


This is going to be one of your key skills in order to pull off effective backstabs, and other thieving abilities.

Weapon Skill

If you choose to go with the bow, level up the bow. If you choose to go with any other weapon, make sure you stick with that. Personally, I've tried the two weapon fighting style, and while it's fun, it can be a challenge when facing higher level creatures/people in the game. This is where Enchanting comes in.


This skill is a fun skill to level up, and it's quite easy; as long as you spend the time to do it. I found that Alchemy is a bit easier to level for me as there are more plant and edible things to eat around the world than Soul Gems

I don't really care for illusion spells, and as playing a pure thief, I find myself using less spells than using my bow.

I use the gear from the Thieve's guild as those give me the bonuses I want towards my thieving skills. Whereas The Dark Brotherhood will give me skills in tune with a magic based thief.

The Shadow Warrior Perk is legit. Here is a forum post that goes into greater detail on this skill. Get it, use it, survive.

  • If you could update your answer with info on how you use enchanting as a thief it would be perfect!
    – H3R3T1K
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 22:55
  • 2
    +1, This is pretty good. More: enchanting can be used to make your various weapons and armor better. Additional bow damage and improved sneak are especially valuable for a thief-type character, as well as better smithing to get a stronger bow. Should really add smithing to the list, if only for the bow. Illusion is mostly take it or leave it, but Muffle specifically is quite useful. It lasts for like three minutes, so you don't have to cast it very often.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:46

Don't disregard alchemy and the related skills. Potions of invisibility and fortification are highly useful for stealing and sneaking. Unfortunately, the incredibly overpowered chameleon enchanting from Oblivion is gone, but Fortify Sneak/Fortify Lockpicking/Fortify Pickpocketing are still useful enchantments for your armor.

Blacksmithing is less likely to be useful for pure stealth, but an ebony sword is good to have if you're very bad at stealth!

Here's a list of illusion spells: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Illusion

Some that seem helpful to me:

  • Fear
  • Muffle
  • Invisibility
  • Harmony

So if you're crafty, there are many opportunities that present themselves with different schools of learning.

  • Blacksmithing is still incredibly useful for stealth, as you want the most powerful weapons possible to maximize sneak attacks. On normal, you can eventually sneak attack even a dragon with one shot.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:43

Alright. Now people will give advice saying to be good at poison, one handed and archery.......that's not a thief. What I am is a thief. My thief is someone who steals and kills only when absolutely necessary to progress. An assassin is the stealthy killer. Make no mistake the two go hand in hand. You could be both easily. But as an absolute thief my skills are in sneak, pickpocket,.....well I'm not too far into yet but both of those skills are at 100. I use a bow but only the distract or kill when instructed. I use my knife to kill non humans like draugar, trolls, ect.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .