I would like to know how Skyrim determines whether I was detected killing someone. For example: There is this temple in Markarth, 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?

  • 1
    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
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 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. Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 0:47
  • 2
    @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.
    – Chuck Dee
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 20:57

4 Answers 4


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)

  • 11
    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
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 4:36
  • 4
    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 Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 10:00
  • 28
    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
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 2:53
  • 1
    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
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 7:11

I believe that any witnesses to the crime, even if they do not actually escape to tell anyone, cause you to gain a bounty.


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.

  1. Other NPCs know when you enter somewhere, so if you commit crime inside and someone discovers it later (i.e. sees dead body) they will suspect you and the guards will come. Actually, if you hold e in front of a corpse, you can 'pull' the corpse around. You can hide it somewhere unnoticeable or throw it down a cliff or something if you're outside, and no one will ever find out.

  2. Guards outside can hear the shouts/calling/screams. The closer you are to the entrance (when committing crime), and the closer the guard is to the door (from the outside), the more likely they will hear you.

  3. If there is any witness, it immediately adds to your bounty. Killing every single witnesses will remove the bounty.

This also applies for killing outside. So if you're in the middle of nowhere and attack a group of people (especially guards/soldiers), it will add to your bounty and the attacked people with very low health will try to run to town. If you leave them, your bounty remains, but if you hunt them down in time, it will say that the last witness has been killed and your bounty is removed. Also, if you attack guards in town, as long as the guards cannot identify you, it doesn't add to your bounty. So you can shoot them with arrow from very far, or use spells like fireball, and kill them from a long distance, and there's good chance that you won't have bounty on you.

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