I'm about to start the Thieves Guild quests, but as I'm playing a non-stealth character my Sneak skill is very, very poor at around 17. In preparation to joining the Thieves Guild I wanted to improve my Sneak skill, as I doubt I'll be able to do their quests at my current skill.

I tried to sneak around some people at dark, but I can only get the completely hidden status and the detected status. Once I enter the line of sight of someone I'm detected, I don't manage to get the half-open eye indicator.

When I'm fully hidden or detected, I don't seem to gain any skill points in Sneak, but with my current skill I never achieve the hidden-in-sight status that I need to gain more skill. Any idea on how to gain some easy Sneak skill points?


14 Answers 14


Perhaps this is common knowledge, but it certainly tripped me up on my first foray into thieving.

By default, your character is running. All the time. (This is separate from sprinting, which makes you move even faster and affects your FOV.) Unless you prevent it, you even run while sneaking, and this understandably hinders the effectiveness of your sneak.

On the PC, you can stop running by either holding Shift or pressing Caps Lock (by default). Ceasing to run will cause your character to slow to a crawl (or so it will feel) and dramatically improve your stealthiness.


The very first Sneak perk provides a whopping 20% increase to your stealth effectiveness for only one point. While additional investment has diminishing returns for the mere dilettante, that first point is essential to sneak around effectively.

  • 2
    Note that this is a percentage increase, not a percentage point increase. It's helpful, but only adds ~3 points when you have a 17 Stealth. Jan 1, 2013 at 22:24

Perform Stealth Kills, it seems to raise the xp bar the most. Best way to do that is obviously to go nuts in the environment or visit random dungeons. Additionally, the first few Thieves Guild Quests don't rely heavily on sneaking.

  • 2
    Using sneak with a bow is quite effective at getting sneak attacks, at least to start with.
    – camster342
    Nov 16, 2011 at 22:44
  • 3
    You can also gain Stealth by backstabbing your own conjured creatures and raised undead. Cast "Raise Zombie" on every enemy you kill, then sneak behind him and backstab. Nov 20, 2011 at 20:14

In addition to the other answers, there is also three Guardian Stones you can find near to where you start the game. One of these is the Thief Stone and will let you skill up the Thief type skills including sneak 20% faster.

Also, being well rested will give you another 5% quicker skill gain, assuming you don't have a ... particular type of blood.

  • 1
    Don't forget about lover's Comfort, and Fatherly/Motherly Love Jun 8, 2014 at 13:37

Townspeople are not good Stealth targets. Even with my Sneak of 50, they tend to either not notice me at all or notice me completely. The thing is that they don't have an AI package that makes them search for you, which is what the half-open eye indicates. That's also the stage of detection where it's easiest to get Stealth increases.

To raise Stealth, you're going to have to change your play style for a bit. Go do a dungeon, but sneak the whole thing. Don't rush bandits, try to separate them, stab one, and then run away into the shadows. Repeat a few times to finish off a room of bandits entirely without ever being detected and your Stealth will have increased a couple of times. Now do that for a few dungeons (and always Stealthing while walking in the wilderness), and you'll have a decent Stealth in no time.

Do this in combination with the other Stealth-levelling bonuses (Thief stone, always being Well Rested or at least Rested), and it'll increase even faster.

The greatest recommendation for this way of levelling Stealth is that it will also level the other skills you use regularly, which keeps the Stealth increases from increasing the level of enemies disproportionately to your actual set of skills. By simply changing your play style slightly to include Stealth, you maintain character balance and can still take on the enemies you'll face.


Go to the Thalmor Wizard at the Winterhold college and sneak behind him until you are hidden. backstab him until he falls down (he cannot die) and just repeat. pretty simple

  • Doesn't it work with the Greybeards too? Jun 8, 2014 at 13:41
  • @CerberusN61 yes, and so is Hadvar and Ralof when ou start the game.
    – Jim Jones
    Nov 27, 2015 at 4:45

This is kind of hacky--but it worked in Oblivion, and worked in Skyrim. I went into an inn and sneaked behind the bartender, walking away from him toward the wall (actually, a stack of barrels) behind him.

I took my controller and rigged it up to "walk forward" into the wall without actually moving (running in place).

By the time morning came, I was level 19.

I actually had a hard time with anything except thievery for a while after doing that, because you get higher level enemies without the necessary loot to kill them, and your sneak skill is the only one you can really dump your perks into--so if you do it, I recommend not actually using those levels you've earned (just back out of the upgrade menu). But man, 15x sneak attack damage with a dagger is awesome.

A few levels and some dungeon raiding later, I'm not having as much trouble (largely thanks to my sneakery with my elven dagger).


Go up to a Greybeard and sneak up to them unarmed. When the eye indicator shows that you're hidden, hit them. This will increase your sneak skill.

  1. Raise bandit's corpse (aka: turn it into a zombie)
  2. Sneak attack it
  3. Rinse, repeat, profit
  • Doesn't the Re-animated always incinerate after death... Like my Dead Dragon in the front yard of Lakeview Manor Jun 8, 2014 at 13:39

One of the first stones made accessible to you in the game right after you escape Helgen is the Thief stone. As far as leveling sneak, it's best to practice sneak in dungeons that are predominantly inhabited by Draugr. This a collection of all the Nordic Ruins that may be of use for quickly leveling your sneak.


So, to consolidate the answers, there are two main methods: (1) the sponge method, and (2) the movement (A.K.A. AFK) method.

(1) Sponge refers to damage sponge, soaking hits. The sponge method involves convenient targets. The best sponges are essential and never-hostile NPCs with lots of health.
Essential means that they can't die, probably for quest reasons. Never-hostile means they'll never retaliate, and hopefully never run. Lots of health means that they take more hits before they possibly bottom out and yield for a bit. Lots health can also mean good armour or health regeneration. Alternatively to health, there are plenty of them in close proximity.
On this Q&A, people have so far mentioned the Greybeards of High Hrothgar, and "the Thalmor Wizard at the Winterhold college". Others include Shadowmere the super-horse, your own horse, and probably either of the two people escorting you at the beginning of the game.

(2) The movement method is non-violent and peaceful. If you are (A) moving, (B) able to be detected, and (C) not yet detected, you will gain Sneak experience. You can walk into a wall/corner behind an NPC and leave your game on to cruise control for Sneak XP.

Don't forget to consider stuff that provides a percentage XP bonus too, like Rest and the Thief Stone.


The Sneak skill is a skill that involves detection, so you might want do these procedures while sneaking and undetected. Don't forget to activate the Thief Stone at the 3 Standing Stones and get a rested bonus too by sleeping in a bed. Also wear tiems that make the skill increase faster.

Sneak Attacks

Sneak attacks are the best way of leveling the sneak skill since it also has to do with damage while being undetected which are very useful for assasins. Simpily sneak behind a person while being undetected and sneak attack them. They might start to find you so use a bow too [Also use daggers since they're quiet]. The Greybeards are the best way of doing this procedure since they don't find you when sneak attack them with a dagger, which is quiet. You can also do this to Hadvar or ralof in the beginning of the game too. There are a lot of XP earned when doing this and by far the method is the fastest.

Hiding from people

Another way is to find an area with people, and sneak against a spot where they can't see you [better if you automove]. Though this levels the skill slower than sneak attacking, you don't need to do anything but sneak against something. you can also do this with areas with creature too, and level up.


Training is another good way to level this skill, though it costs money. Simpily find a NPC who trains Sneak, train 5 times [unless before the 5th time, you lose money], and pickpocket the gold back. If you get a level up while doing this, you can repeatedly do this until the training gets to it's limit. The trainers are:

◾Khayla- Common, Khajiit Caravans

◾Garvey- Expert, Markarth

◾Delvin Mallory- Master, Ragged Flagon, Riften


Though you can't read the same books again to level the skill, these books help you level up the skill [not all they way to 100, but you can follow the other procedures above too]. The books are:

  • 2920, Last Seed, v.8

  • Legend of Krately House

  • Sacred Witness

  • The Red Kitchen Reader

  • Three Thieves


The greybeards like to pray a lot in that center area of high hrothgar- just walk behind them while sneaking with a (preferably one-handed) weapon other than magic, and repetitively hit them. At lower levels of sneak they will detect you after each hit, this is no problem just wait for the "eye" to close before hitting them again. It will stop bothering you around sneak 30. Use restoration spells or wait when their health gets low, and in about 10 minutes your sneak should be level 100. very useful with the Assassin's Blade perk for taking out the tougher people in a room before the grunts notice you.


When you are new to stealth picking pockets is not easy but possible just takes time and effort in your practice. At first the enemy would detect you quite easily just keep up your sneaking practice and you will improve in due time. after you have gained enough stealth , pick-pocket , archery , and one handed skill's you'd be surprised by how far you could infiltrate without been seen or heard even as far as your target be it for theft or "A Stealth Kill. Also using the environment around so that you could use cover and use of darkness I cant count the times I have been passed by an enemy just only 2-3 feet away. I hope this is of good use to those who wish to gain the advantage of "Pure stealth " good luck and bee unseen even in the light of day.

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